페이지 이미지
PDF

scene II.] FATAL curiosity. 13

SONG-MARIA.

Cease, cease, heart-easing tears .
Adieu, you flatt'ring fears,
Which seven long tedious years
Taught me to bear.
Tears are for lighter woes;
Fear no such danger knows,
As fate remorseless shows, -
Endless despair 1
Dear cause of all my pain,
On the wide stormy main,
Thou wast preserv'd in vain,
Though still ador'd.
Hadst thou dy'd there unseen,
My wounded eyes had been
Sav'd from the direst scene
Maid e'er deplor’d.
[CHARLoTTE finds a Letter.

Char. What's this?—A letter superscrib'd to me! None could convey it here, but you, Maria. Ungen'rous, cruel maid to use me thus ! To join with flatt'ring men, to break my peace, And persecute me to the last retreat?

Mar. Why should it break your peace to hear the

sighs

Of honoe love? This letter is—

Char. No matter whence: return it back unopen'd: I have no love, no charms, but for my Wilmot, Nor would have any.

Mar. Alas! Wilmot's dead; Or, living, dead to you.

Char. I'll not despair: Patience shall cherish hope; Nor wrong his honour by unjust suspicion. I know his truth, and will preserve my own.

C

But, to prevent all future importunity,
Know, thou incessant foe to my repose,
Whether he sleeps secure from mortal cares,
In the deep bosom of the boist'rous main,
Or, toss'd with tempest, still endures its rage;
No second choice shall violate my vows;
High Heaven, which heard them, and abhors the per-
jur'd, .
Can witness, they were made without reserve:
Never to be retracted, ne'er dissolv'd -
By accident or absence, time or death.
Mar. And did your vows oblige you to support
His haughty parents, to your utter ruin
Well may you weep to think on what you've done.
Char. I weep to think that I can do no more
For their support. What will become of them 2
The hoary, helpless, miserable pair' -
Mar. What I can't praise, you force me to admire,
And mourn for you, as you lament for them.
Your patience, constancy, and resignation,
Merit a better fate.
Char. So pride would tell me,
And vain self-love, but I believe them not :
And if by wanting pleasure I have gain'd
Humility, I'm richer for my loss.
Mar. You have the heavenly art still to improve
Your mind by all events—But here comes one,
Whose pride seems to increase with her misfortunes.
Her faded dress, unfashionably fine,
As ill conceals her poverty, as that
Strain'd complaisance, her haughty, swelling heart.
Though perishing with want, so far from asking,
She ne'er receives a favour uncompell'd,
And, while she ruins, scorns to be oblig'd:
Let me depart, I know she loves me not.
[Erit MARIA.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Enter AGNEs.

Char. This visit's kind. Agnes. Few else would think it so : Those who would once have thought themselves much honour'd By the least favour, though 'twere but a look, I could have shown them, now refuse to see me. 'Tis misery enough to be reduc’d To the low level of the common herd, Who, born to beggary, envy all above them : But 'tis the curse of curses, to endure The insolent contempt of those we scorn. Char. By scorning, we provoke them to contempt, And thus offend, and suffer in our turns : We must have patience. Agnes. No, I scorn them yet; But there's no end of suffring : Who can say Their sorrows are complete : My wretched husband, Tir'd with our woes, and hopeless of relief, Grows sick of life. And, urg'd by indignation and despair, Would plunge into eternity at once, By foul self murder. Char. Gracious Heaven support him Agnes. His fixed love for me, Whom he would fain persuade to share his fate, And take the same uncertain, dreadful course, Alone withholds his hand. Char. And may it ever ! Agnes. I've known with him the two extremes of life, The highest happiness, and deepest woe, With all the sharp and bitter aggravations Of such a vast transition—Such a fall In the decline of life!—I have as quick,

As exquisite a sense of pain, as he, And would do any thing, but die, to end it; But there my courage fails. Death is the worst That fate can bring, and cuts off ev'ry hope. 1 Char. We must not chuse, but strive to bear our lot Without reproach or guilt. By one rash act Of desperation, we may overthrow The merit we've been raising all our days, And lose our whole reward. And now, methinks, Now, more than ever, we have cause to fear, And be upon our guard. The hand of Heaven Spreads clouds on clouds o'er our benighted heads, And wrapp'd in darkness, doubles our distress. I had, the night last past, repeated twice, A strange and awful dream: I would not yield To fearful superstition, nor despise The admonition of a friendly power, That wish'd my good. Agnes. I have certain plagues enough, Without the help of dreams, to make me wretched, Char. I would not stake my happiness or duty, On their uncertain credit, nor on aught But reason, and the known decrees of Heaven. Yet dreams have sometimes shown events to come, And may excite to vigilance and care. My vision may be such, and sent to warn us, (Now we are tried by multiply'd afflictions) To mark each motion of our swelling hearts, Lest we attempt to extricate ourselves, And seek deliv'rance by forbidden ways— To keep our hopes and innocence entire, Till we're dismiss'd to join the happy dead, Or Heaven relieves us here. Agnes. Well, to your dream. Char. Methought, I sat, in a dark winter's night, On the wide summit of a barren mountain;

The sharp, bleak winds, pierc'd through my shiv'ring
frame, w *
And storms of hail, and sleet, and driving rains,
Beat with impetuous fury on my head,
Drench'd my chill'd limbs, and pour'd a deluge
round me.
On one hand, ever-gentle Patience sat,
On whose calm bosom I reclin'd my head;
And on the other, silent Contemplation.
At length, to my unclos'd, and watchful eyes,
That long had roll'd in darkness, dawn appear'd;
And I beheld a man, an utter stranger,
But of graceful and exalted mien,
Who press'd with eager transport to embrace me.
I shunn'd his arms: But at some words he spoke,
Which I have now forgot, I turn'd again;
But he was gone—And oh, transporting sight !
Your son, my dearest Wilmot, fill'd his place
Agnes. If I regarded dreams, I should expect
Some fair event from yours.
Char. But what's to come,
Though more obscure, is terrible indeed.
Methought we parted soon, and when I sought him
You and his father—(Yes, you both were there,)
Strove to conceal him from me. I pursu'd you
Both with my cries, and call'd on Heaven and earth
To judge my wrongs, and force you to reveal
Where you had hid my love, my life, my Wilmot ?
Agnes. Unless you mean t’offend me, spare the
rest.
'Tis just as likely Wilmot should return
As we become your foes.
Char. Far be such thought
From Charlotte's breast: But when I heard you name
Self murder, it reviv'd the frightful image
Of such a dreadful scene !
Agnes. You will persist!——

s 3.

« 이전계속 »