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'tw'as once the mode inglorious war to wage With each bold bard that durst attempt the stage, And prologues were but preludes to engage. Then mourn'd the muse not story\l woes alone, Condemn'd to weep, with tears unfeign'd, her
own. Past are those hostile days: and wits no more One undistinguished fate with fools deplore. No more the muse laments her long-felt wrongs, From the rude licence of tumultuous tongues: In peace each bard prefers his doubtful claim, And as he merits, meets, or misses, fame. Twas thus in Greece (when Greece fair science
blest. And Heav'n-born arts their chosen land possest) Th' assembled people sate with decent pride, Patient to hear, and skilful to decide; Less forward far to censure than to praise, Unwillingly refus'd the rival bays.
Yes; they whom candour and true taste inspire,
move, To melt the soul by scenes of fabled woe, And bid the tear for fancy'd sorrows flow; Far humbler paths he treads in quest of fame, And trusts to Nature what from Nature came.
SlFROY, a General Officer,
BEAUFORT senior, lather of Cleonc.
BEAUFORT junior, her Brother.
PAULET, the Friend of Si/rot/.
Glanville, a near Helation.
Ragozix, a Servant corrupted by Glanville.
CLEONE, the Wife qfSifroy.
Officer! of Justice, Servants, SfC.
Scene,—Sifroy's House, and an adjoining Wood.
SCENE I.—A Room in Sifroy'i House.
Enter GLANVILLE and ISABELLA.
Clan. What means this diffidence, this idle fear? Have I not given thee proof my heart is thine? Proof that I mean to sanctify our joys By sacred wedlock! Why then doubt my truth? Why hesitate, why tremble thus to join In deeds, which justice and my love to thee Alone inspire? If we are one, our hopes, Our views, our interests ought to be the same. And canst thou tamely see this proud Sifroy Triumphant lord it o'er my baffled rights? Those late acquir'd demesnes, by partial hand Consign'd to him, in equity are mine.
Itab. The story oft I ve heard: yet sure Sifroy I Lull every legal title to that wealth By will bequeathed; and childless should he die, The whole were thine. Wait then till time—
Glun. Art thou, My Isabella, thou an advocate For him whose hand, with felon arts, with-holds Those treasures which I covet but for thee? Where is thy plighted faith ?—thy vows ?—thy truth?
Itab. Forbear reproach !—0 Glanville, love to thee Hath robb'd me of my truth—sedue'd me on From step to step, till virtue quite forsook me. False if I am, 'tis to myself, not thee; Thou bast my heart, and thou shalt guide my
will, Obedient to thy wishes.
Glun. Hear me then—
Itab. Ah! though me
Glan. I know it ought not. Weak must be
Then she hath charms to warm the coldest breast,
I sub. But grant thou should'st succeed, what
Glan. That bar were easily remov'd.—But soft, Who's here? 'Tis Ragozin return'd.
Glan. What news, Dear Ragozin? How did Sifroy receive My letters? Speak—My vast impatience would Know all at once.—What does his rage intend?
Rag. All you could wish. A whirlwind is but weak To the wild storm that agitates his breast. At first indeed he doubted—swore 'twas false— Impossible—But as he read, his looks Grew fierce; pale horror trembled on his cheek;
0 she is vile !—It must, it must be so— Glanville is just, is good, and scorns to wrong
1 know his friendship, know his honest heart— Then falling, sobb'd in speechless agony.
Glan. Good, very good !—I knew 'twould gall—proceed.
Rag. His smother'd grief at length burst forth in rage. He started from the floor—he drew his sword— And fixing it with violence in my graspPlunge this, he cried, O plunge it in the heart Of that vile traitor, Paulet!—Yet forbearThat exquisite revenge my own right liand Demands, nor will I give it to another 1 This said—push'd on by rage, lie to her sire Dispatch'd a letter, opening to him all Her crime, and his dishonour. This to you.
[Gives a letter.
Glan. How eagerly he runs into the toils,
Which I have planted for his own destruction!
Dear Hagozin, success shall double all
hub. But read the letter.
[glanville opens the letter and reads.
* Though thou haststabb'd metotheheart,Icannot but thank thy goodness for the tender regard thou hast shewn to my honour. The traitor Paulct shall die by my own hand: that righteous vengeance must be mine. Mean time, forbi
the villain's entrance to my house. As to her who was once my wife, let her go to her father's, to whom I have w ritten; leaving it to him to vindicate her virtue, or conceal her shame. I am in too much confusion to add more. Si Fro Y.'
This is enough—by Heaven ! I sought no more.
Id/:. All wild he raves,
Glan. We must prepare
friend, (For from the hour which shall complete our business, Thy servitude shall cease) be diligent To watch all accidents, and well improve Whatever chance may rise.
Rag. Trust to my care. [Exit.
Glan. Now, Isabella! now th' important hour To prove mv truth, arises to my wish. No longei slialt thou live the humble friend Of this Cleone, but, her equal born, Shalt rise by me to grace an equal sphere.
/■•■/'. Her equal bom I am—nor can my heart A keener pang than base dependence feel. Yet weak by nature, and in fear for thee, I tremble for th' event.—O should'st thou fail—
Glan. To me, my Isabella, trust the proof Of her conceal'd amour. I know full well Her modesty is mere disguise, assum'd To cheat the world; but it deceives not mc. I shall unveil her latent wickedness, And on her midnight revels pour the day. Itab. Scarce can my heart give credit— (ilnn. Thou, alas, Art blinded by the semblance she displays Of truth and innocence; but I explore Her inmost soul, and in her secret thoughts Read wantonness. Believe me, this gav youth, Mask'd in the guise of friendship to Sifroy, Is her vile paramour. But I forget; Tell Ragozin, mv love, to wait without; This business asks dispatch, and I may want His useful aid.
Itab. I go; but still my heart Beats anxious, lest the truth of thy suspicions Should lad of proof. [Eta Isabella.
Glan. Fear nothing, I'm secure.— Fond, easy fool! whom for mv use alone, Not pleasure, I've ensnar'd; thou little drcam'st, That fir'd with fairCleone's heaven of charms, I burn for their enjoyment. There, there too, Did this Sifroy, this happy hated rival, Defeat the first warm hopes that lir'd my bosom. I mark'd her beauties ri»rng in their bloom, And puriion'd for my»i If the rip'ning sweetness; But ere uiy hand coi.ld reach the tempting fruit,
Twas ravish'd from its eager grasp. And, oh
SCENE II.- Changes to another Room.
Enter CLEONE and a Servant. Cte. Paulet! my husband's friend! give hia admittance; His friendship sympathizes with my love, Cheers me by talking of my absent lord, And sooths my heart with hopes of his return
Enter PAULET. Pan. Still do these low'ring clouds of sorrv* shade Clcone's brow, and sadden all her hours? Ctc. Ah Paulet! have I not just cause to mourn? Three tedious years have past since these sales Beheld my dear Sifroy: and the stern brow Of horrid war still frowns upon mv hopes. Pau. The fate of war, 'tis true," hath Ion; it tain'd My noble friend from your fond arms anil nunc But his redoubted sword by this last stroke Must soon reduce the foe to sue for peace. The gallant chief who led the barbarous bo-t, And was himself their soul, is fallen in bank', Slain by the valiant hand of your Sifroy.
Cte. To me, alas, his courage seems novirtaf; Dead to all joy, but what his safety pv«> To every hope, but that of his return, I dread the danger which his valour seeks, • And tremble at his glory. O good Heaven. Restore him soon to these unhappy arms, Or much I fear, they'll never more enfokl him Pau. What means Cleone? No new dan?' can Affright you for my friend. I fear your breast Beats with the dread of some impending ill, Threatening yourself. Now, by the love ft"
binds My heart to your Sifroy, let me entreat, If my assistance can avail you aught. That, to the utmost hazard of my life, You will command mv service. .
Cte. Kind Heaven," I thank thee! MySuV hath vet One faithful 'friend. O Paulet—but to thee, Thcmanv virtues that adorn the mind ()f my lo'v'd lord, and made mc once so blest, Tvverc needless to display. In mine alone His happiness was plac'd; no grief,■ no &"> Came ever near my bosom; not a pain Hut what his tenderness partaking, sooth d. All day with fondness would he gaze upon^ And to my listening heart repeat such uunpi
As only love like his knew liow to feel.
Pau. What danger thus alarms Cleonc's fear?
Clc. I am ashom'd to think, and blush to say, That in my husband's absence this poor form, These eyes, or any feature should retain The power to please—but Glanville well you
Pau. Sure you suspect not hiin of base designs! lie wears the semblance of much worth and honour. Clc. So to the eye the speckled serpent wears A shining beauteous form; but deep within, Foul stings and deadly poisons lurk unseen. O Paulet, this smooth serpent hath so crept Into the bosom of Sifroy, so wound Himself about my love's unguarded heart, That he believes him harmless as a dove.
Pau. Good Heaven, if thou abhorr'st deceit,
Pau. I had suspicion his designs were there.
[pau. goes into the room.
Glan. I greet you, lady, with important news. The Saracens arc beaten—vet Sifroy, Coldly neglectful of your blooming charms, Pursues a remnant of the flying foe To strong Avignon's walk, where shcltcr'd safe, The hardy troops may bear a tedious siege. Wh) then, Cleone, should you still resist The soft entreaties of my warm desire? .\U iIniik- the man but dl deserves your truth, Who leaves the sweet Elysium of your arms To tread the dangerous fields of horrid war.
Clc And what, O Glanville, what dost thou deserve? Tliou, who with treachery repay'st the trust Of sacred friendship ? Thou, who but to quench A loose desire, a lawless passion's rage, W'ould'st banish tiuth and honour from thy breast?
Glan. Honour!—What's honour? a vain phantom, rais'd To fright the weak from tasting those delights, Which nature's voice, that law supreme, allows. Ik- wise, and laugh at all its idle threats. Besides, with me your fame would be secure, Discretion guards my namefrom censure's tongue. Cte. And dost thou call hypocrisy, discretion.' Say'st thou that vice is wisdom? Glanville, hear
me. With thee, thou say'st, my fame would be secure; Unsully'd by the world. It might. Yet know, Though hill beneath the centre of the earth, Remov'd from Envy's eye, and Slander's tongue, Nay from the view of Heaven itself conceal'd, Still would I shun the very thought of guilt, Nor wound my secret conscience with reproach. Clan. Romantic all! Come, come, why were you formed So tempting fair; why grae'd with ev'ry charm, With eyes that languish, limbs that move with
"grace— Why were these beauties given you, but to sooth The sweet, the strong sensations they excite? Why were you made so beauteous, yet so coy? [Offers to embrace her, she putt him by tcith
disdain. Clc. Base hypocrite! why rather wert thou sufferM Beneath fair Virtue's mien to hide a heart So vile? Why this, good Heaven! But dost thou
Clan. Is love a crime? O ask your feeling
Pau. Villain, desist! Glan. Ha! Paulet here !—'Tis well: He is her minion then! 'Tis as I guess'd; My letters to Sifroy tradue'd them not. [Aside. Pau. Vile hypocrite!—what! lurk such warm desires Beneath that sober mask of sanctity? Is this the Ann undoubted honesty, In which Sifroy confiding, sleeps secure?
Glan. And is it fit that thou should'st lecture vice? Thou who, even here, this moment wcrt conceal'd, The favourite object of lewd privacy? Should'st thou declaim against the rich repast. Thy gluttonous appetite alone enjoys To all the heights of luxury ?—Sweet lady! Who now shall stand reveal'd before Sifroy? But I have long, long known your intercourse. Nor wanted clearer proof to speak your crimes
[Going. Cle. O heaven and earth! Pau. Stay, monster! by high Heaven, Thy life shall answer this vile calumny.
Glan. Dream not I fear!—thy thrtatcnings I despise. Soon I'll return, to thine and her confusion.
Cle. What have I done? unhappy rash concealincnt! This may, alas! give colour to his charge. Pau. He dares not wrong you with the least surmise, The slightest imputation on your fame! Kor would the world believe him. Your fair
C/e. Ah, Paulet!
Is all my wish. If my Sifroy but think
Pau. Wound not your peace with vain ungrounded fears. My friend is noble, knows your virtues well; Nor will he suffer jealousy to shake His generous mind with doubt. And for that
wretch. This arm shall give him chastisement.
Cle. Ah! no; I fear the chastisement of Glanville's guilt May loose the tongue of censure on my innocence, And can I bear, now, in my husband's absence, The whisper'd falsehood of malicious tales, That cast a doubt on his Cleone's truth? O rather leave his punishment to Heaven! At least defer it till my lord's return.
Pan. And shall the man I love return, and find A villain unchastis'd, who in mv sight Presumptuous dar'd to wound his honour! It must not, shall not be.
Re-enter GLANVILLE with RAGOZIN.
Glan. Mark me, young sir, 'Tis with authority that I forbid Your entrance in this house. Sifroy, convine'd Of all your secret crimes with that vile wanton, Spurns from his door the falsehood he disdains.
Clc. I.ct me not hear it! I! am I a wanton? Docs my dear lord think his Cleone vile?
(Hun. He knows it well.
Pau. Villain,'tis false! He scorns So mean a thought.
Glan. To silence even- doubt, Sec his own hand.
Pau. [Shewing the letter to Rag.] Say, whence is this? who brought it?
Rag. I brought it from my master.
Glan. Look upon it.
[Cl.E. and PAU. look over it.
Cle. Am I then banish'd from my husband's house? Branded with infamy !—was once his wife! Unkind Sifroy! am I not still thy wife? Indeed thy faithful wife! and when thou know'st, As know thou wilt, how falsely I'm accus'd, This cruel sentence sure will pierce thy heart.
Pau. Amazement strikes me dumb!—This inpious scroll Is forg'd. Sifroy, though rash, is noble, just, And good. Too good, too noble to permit So mean a thought to harbour in his breast.
Cle. No: 'tis his hand—his seal. And can 1 bar Suspicion! Ah! Sifroy, didst thou not know
My heart incapable
Pau. Licentious wretch! At what fell mischief has thy malice aim'd? Glan. At thine and her detection, which i: length I have accomplish'd.
Pau. Impudent and vain! Think'st thou Cleone's virtue, her fair truth, Can suffer taint from thy unhallow'd breath? Were they not proof but now against thy «rts' Glan. Mistaken man! To gain one penotu! proof Of her incontinence, that feign'd attempt Was made; all other proof I had before. And why I fail'd thou know'st; Who, in her private chamber close conceal'd, Mad'st it imprudent she should then oomph;. Cle. Detested slanderer! I despise thy fewness; Disdain reply; and trust in Heaven's high hu»'. To dash thy bold designs. [Exit Cu
Pau. [Whispering.] Observe me, sir— This insult on the honour of my friend Must be chastis'd. At morning's earliest dim In the close vale, behind the castle's wall, Prepare to meet me arm'd,
Glan. Be well assur'd, I will not fail. [EiU P«
Yet stay—let Prudence guide roe
Courage, what is't ?—'tis folly's boisterous raw-