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The distant prospect of my future bliss, Indulge my curiosity, and try
Ran. It may indeed
Inhance your own, to see from what despair
Your timely coming and unhop'd success
Have given you power to raise them. Ran, Poor! poor! and friendless ! whither
Wil. I remember, shall I wander,
E'er since we learn'd together, you excell'd And to what point direct my views and hopes ? In writing fairly, and could imitate A menial servant!-No_What, shall I live,
Whatever hand you saw, with great exactness. Here in this land of freedom, live distinguish'd, I therefore beg you'll write, in Charlotte's And mark'd the willing slave of some proud And character, a letter to my father, [name
subject, To swell his useless train for broken fragments; To his acquaintance.
And recommend me, as a friend of hers, The cold remains of his superfluous board;
Ran. Sir, if you desire itI would aspire to something more and better.
And yetTurn thy eyes then to the prolific ocean, Wi. Nay, no objections— 'Twill save time, Whose spacious bosom opens to thy view: Most precious with me now. For the decepThere deathless honour and unenvied wealth
tion, Hare often crown'd the brave adventurer's If doing what my Charlotte will approve, This is the native uncontested right, [toils. 'Cause done for me, and with a good intent, The fair inheritance, of ev'ry Briton [made: Deserves the name, I'll answer myself. That dares put in his claim. My choice is If this succeeds, I purpose to defer A long farewell to Cornwall, and to England; Discov'ring who I am till Charlotte comes, If I return-But stay, what stranger's this,
And thou, and all who love me. Ev'ry friend Who, as he views me, seems to mend his Who witnesses my happiness to-night, pace?
Will, by partaking, multiply my joys.
Ran. You grow luxurious in imagination. Wil, Randal! The dear companion of my This letter. To say true, I ever thought
Could I deny you-aught, I would not write youth!
Your boundless curiosity a weakness.
Wil. What canst thou blame in this?
Perhaps I spoke too freely;
O Randal! but imagine to thyself That you are he–That you are Wilmot- The floods of transport, the sincere delight Wil. Why?
That all my friends will feel, when I disclose Ran. Because I could not bear the disap- To my astonish'd parents my return; pointment
And then confess that I have well contriv'd, Should I be deceiv'd..
By giving others' joy, to exalt my own. Wil. I am pleas'd to hear it:
(Exeunt. Thy friendly fears better express thy thoughts Than words could do.
SCENE III.- A Room in OLD WILMOT's Ran. O! Wilmot! O! my master!
House. Are you return'd?
Old Wilmot and AGNES. Wil. I have not embrac'd My parents, I shall see you at my father's. 0. Wil. Here, take this Seneca, this haughty Ran. No; I'm discharg'd from thence-O
pendant, Sir! such ruin,
Who, governing the master of mankind, Wal. I've heard it all, and hasten to relieve And awing power imperial, prates of-pa'em :
tience; Sare heaven hath bless'd me to that very end: And praises poverty-possess'd of millions: I've wealth enough; nor shalt thou want a Sell him, and buy us bread. The scantiest part.
meal Ran. I have a part already, I am bless'd The vilest copy of his book e'er purchas'd, In your success, and share in all your joys. Will give us more relief in this distress, Wil. I doubt it not. But, tell me, dost thou Than all his boasted precepts. Nay, no tears; think,
Keep them to move compassion when you beg. My parents not suspecting my return,
Agn. My heart may break, but never stoop That I may visit them, and not be known?
to that. Ran. "Tis hard for me to judge. You are 0. Wil. Nor would I live to see it-But, already
[Exit Agnes. Grown so familiar to me, that I wonder Where must I charge this length of misery, I knew you not at first: yet it may be; That gathers force each moment as it rolls, For you're much alter'd, and they think you And must at last o'erwhelm me, but on hope : dead.
Vain, flattering, delusive, groundless hope, Wil. This is certain ; Charlotte beheld me That has for years deceiv'd? Had I thought long,
As I do now, as wise men ever think, And heard my loud reproaches and complaints, When first this hell of poverty o'ertook me, Without rememb'ring she had ever seen me. That power to die implies a right to do it, My mind at ease grows wanton: I would fain And should be us'd when life becomes a pain, Refine on happiness. Why may I not What plagues had I prevented! True, my wife
Is still a slave to prejudice and fear,
E'en slavery itself: yet here I stand, I would not leave my better part, the dear Except one trouble that will quickly end,
[Weeps. The happiest of mankind. Faithful companion of my happier days,
0. Wil. A rare example To bear the weight of age and want alone.-- Of fortune's changes; apter to surprise I'll try once more.
Or entertain, than comfort or instruct.
If you would reason from events, be just, Enter AGNES, and after her Young WILMOT. And count, when you escap'd, how many 0. Wil. Return’d, my life! so soon?
perish’d; Agn. The unexpected coming of this stran- And draw your inference thence. Prevents my going yet.
[ger Agn. Alas! who knows, Wil. You're, I presume,
But we were render'd childless by some storm, The gentleman to whom this is directed. In which you, though preserv'd, might bear a
[Gives a letter. pari? What wild neglect, the token of despair, Wil. How has my curiosity betray'd me What indigence, what misery, appears Into superfluous pain! I faint with fondness; In this once happy house! What discontent, And shall, if I stay longer, rush upon them, What anguish, and confusion, fill the faces Proclaim myself their son, kiss and embrace Of its dejected owners!
[Aside. them; 0. Wil. Sir, such welcome
Til their souls, transported with the excess As this poor house affords, you may command. Of pleasure and surprise, quit their frail manOur ever friendly neighbour-once we hoped
sions, To have called fair Charlotte by a dearer And leave them breathless in my longing arms.
By circumstances then, and slow degrees, But we have done with hope– I pray excuse They must be let into a happiness This incoherence-We had once à son. Too great for them to bear at once, and live:
[Weeps. That Charlotte will perform: I need not feign Agn. That you are come from the dear vir- To ask an hour for rest. [Aside.] Sir, I entuous maid,
treat Revives in us the mem’ry of a loss,
The favour to retire, where, for a while, Which, though long since, we have not learn'a I may repose myself. You will excuse to bear.
This freedom, and the trouble that I give you: Wil. The
joy to see them, and the bitter pain 'Tis long since I have slept, and nature calls. It is to see them thus, touches my soul
0. Wil. I pray, no more ; believe we're only With tenderness and grief, that will o'erflow.
[ful. They know me not--and yet, I fear, I shall That you should think any excuse were needDefeat my purpose, and betray myself. Wil. The weight of this is some incum
[Aside. brance; 0. Wil. The lady calls you, here, her valued [Takes a casket out of his bosom, and gives friend;
it to his mother. Enough, though nothing more should be im And its contents of value: if you please To recommend you to our best esteem,- To take the charge of it 'till I awake, A worthless acquisition-May she find [ness! I shall not rest the worse. If I should sleep Some means that better may express her kind. Till I am ask'd for, as perhaps I may, But she, perhaps, hath purpos'd to enrich I beg that you would wake me. You with herself, and end her fruitless sorrow Agn. Doubt it not: For one whom death alone can justify
Distracted as I am with various woes, For leaving her so long. If it be so,
I shall remember that. [Exit, with O. WIL. May you repair his loss, and be to Charlotte Wil. Merciless grief! A second, happier, Wilmot! Partial nature, What ravage has it made! how has it chang'd Who only favours youth, as feeble age Her lovely form and mind! I feel her anguish, Were not her offspring, or below her care, And dread, I know not what, from her despair. Has seal'd our doom: no second hope shall My father too-O grant them patience, spring
Heaven! To dry our tears, and dissipate despair. A little longer, a few short hours more, Agn. The last and most abandon'd of our And all their cares, and mine, shall end for kind!
[Exit. By heaven and earth neglected or despised! The loathsome grave, that robb’d us of our son,
SCENE 1.—The same. fiends, Fear without' hope, and wail in such sad Agnes enters alone, with the casket in her hund. strains ;
Agn. Who should this stranger be? And But grace defend the living from despair!
then this casketThe darkest hours precede the rising sun; He says it is of valve, and yet trusts it, And mercy may appear when least expected. As if a trifle, to, a stranger's hand0. Wil. This I have heard a thousand times His confidence amazes me-Perhaps repeated,
It is not what he says-I'm strongly tempted And have, believing, been as oft deceiv'd. To open it, and see-No, let it rest.
Wil. Behold in me an instance of its truth. Why should my curiosity excite me, At sea twice shipwreck'd, and as oft the prey To search and pry into th' affairs of others; Of lawless pirates; by the Arabs thrice Who have, t'employ my thoughts, so many Surpris’d and robb’d'on shore; and once re
And sorrows of my own ?-With how much To worse than these, the sum of all distress The spring gives way?-Surprising! That the most wretched feel on this side hell, My eyes are dazzled, and my ravish'd heart
Leaps at the glorious sight-How bright's the In some conditions may be brought t'approve; lustre,
Theft, sacrilege, treason, and parricide, How iminense the worth of these fair jewels? When flatt'ring opportunity entic'd, Ay, such a treasure would expel for ever And desperation drove, have been committed Base poverty, and all its abject train;
By those who once would start to hear them Famide; the cold neglect of friends;
nam'd. The galling scorn, or more provoking pity Agn. And add to these, detested suicide, Of an insulting world-Possess'd of these, Which, by a crime much less. we may avoid. Plenty, content, and power might take their 0. Wil. Th' inhospitable murder of our turn,
[damning, And lofty pride bare its aspiring head How could'st thou form a thought so very At our approach, and once more bend before So advantageous, so secure, and easy;
(wake. And yet so cruel, and so full of horror? A pleasing dream! Tis past; and now I Agn. 'Tis less impiety, less against nature, For sure it was a happiness to think,
To take another's life, than end our own. Though but a moment, such a treasure mine. 0. Wil. No matter which, the less or greater Nay, it was more than thought I saw and
crime : touch'd
Howe'er we may deceive ourselves or others, The bright temptation, and I see it yet-. We act from inclination, not by rule Tis here'tis mine-1 have it in possession- Or none could act amiss.-And that all err, Must I resign it? Must I give it back? None but the conscious hypocrite denies. And I in love with misery and want?
O! what is man, his excellence and strength, To rob myself, and court so vast a loss ?- When, in an hour of trial and desertion, Retain it then-But how?—There is a way- Reason, his noblest power, may be suborn'd Why sinks my heart? Why does my blood run To plead the cause of vile assassination, cold i
Agn. You're too severe : reason may justly Why am I thrill'd with horror?— 'Tis not choice, For our own preservation.
(plead But dire necessity, suggests the thought. 0. Wil. Rest contented :
Whate'er resistance I may seem to make, Enter Old WILMOT.
I am betray'd within: my will's seduc'd, 0. Wil. The mind contented, with how little And my whole soul infected.
The desire pains,
Of life returns, and brings with it a train The wand'ring senses yield to soft repose, Of appetites, that rage to be supplied. And die to gain new life? He's fallen asleep Whoever stands to parley with temptation, Already-Happy man!-What dost thou think, Parleys to be o'ercome. My Agnes, of our unexpected guest?
Agn. Then nought remains, He seems to me a youth of great humanity : But the swift execution of a deed Just e'er he clos'd his eyes, that swam in tears, That is not to be thought on, or delay'd. He wrung my hand, and press'd it to his lips; 0. Wil. Gen'rous, unhappy man! O! what And, with a look that pierc'd me to the soul,
could move thee
[well-Of wretches mad with anguish.
How cruel, how remorseless, and impatient, Agn. And who shall know it?
Have pride and poverty made thee? 0, Wil. There is a kind of pride, a decent Agn. Barbarous man! dignity,
(tunes, Whose wasteful riots ruin'd our estate, Due to ourselves; which, spite of our misfor And drove our son, ere the first down had May be maintain'd, and cherish'd to the last.
spread To live without reproach, and without leave His rosy cheeks, spite of my sad presages, To quit the world, shows sovereign contempt, Earnest entreaties, agonies, and tears, And noble scorn of its relentless malice. To seek his bread 'mongst strangers, and to Agn. Shows sor’reign madness, and a scorn In some remote, inhospitable land-- (perish of sense.
The loveliest youth, in person and in mind, Pursue no farther this detested theme: That ever crown'd a groaning mother's pains ! I will not die, I will not leave the world Where was thy pity, where thy patience, For all that you can urge, until compellid.
then? 0. Wil. To chase a shadow, when the set- Thou cruel husband! thou unnat'ral father! ting sun,
Thou most remorseless, most ungrateful man! Is darting his last rays, were just as wise, To waste my fortune, rob me of my son ; As your anxiety for fleeting life,
To drive me to despair, and then reproach me Now the last means for its support are failing: For being what thou'st made me. Were famine not as mortal as the sword, O. Wil. Dry thy tears : Your warmth might be excus'd—But take thy I ought not to reproach thee. I confess choice;
That thou hast suffer'd much : so have we Die how you will, you shall not die alone.
[purpose. Agn. Nor live, I hope.
But chide no more I'm wrought up to thy 0. Wil. There is no fear of that.
The poor, ill-fated, unsuspecting victim, Agn. Then, we'll live both.
Ere he reclin'd him on the fatal couch, 0. Wil. Strange folly! where the means ? From which he's ne'er to rise, took off the sash Agn. There; those jewels
And costly dagger that thou saw'st him wear; 0. Wil. Ah ! Take heed !
And thus, unthinking, furnish'd us with arms Perhaps thou dost but try me; yet take heed- Against himself.
Steal to the door, There's nought so monstrous but the mind of And bring me word, if he be still asleep. man
[Exit AGNES. B
Or I'm deceivd, or he pronounc'd himself Are these your transports for your son's re. The happiest of mankind. Deluded wretch!
turn? Thy thoughts are perishing, thy youthíu joys, Where is my Wilmot? Has he not been here? Touch'd by the icy hand of grissly death, Would he defer your happiness so long; Are with'ring in their bloom. But, thought Or, could a habit so disguise your son, extinguish'd,
That you refus'd to own him?
The miserable damn'à suspend their howling, Of every joy, and even hope itself,
And the swift orbs are fix'd in deep attention. As I have done. Why do I mourn him then? Ran. What mean these dreadful words and For, by the anguish of my tortur'd soul,
frantic air ! He's to be envy'd, if compar'd with me. That is the dagger my young master wore.
(Exit. Eust. My mind misgives me. Do not stand
to gaze SCENE II.-A Room, with Young Wilmot On these dumb phantoms of despair and horasleep upon a Bed, in the distance.
Let us search farther: Randal, show the way. Enter OLD WILMOT and AGNES.
(Exeunt RANDAL, Eustace, and CHARLOTTE. Agn. The stranger sleeps at present; but so
Agn. Let life forsake the earth, and light restless His slumbers seem, they can't continue long.
And death and darkness bury in oblivion Here, I've secur'd his dagger.
Mankind and all their deeds, that no posterity O. 'Wil. O, Agnes! Agnes! if there be a May ever rise to hear our horrid tale, hell, 'tis just
Or view the grave of such detested parricides. We should expect it.
0. Wil. "Curses and deprecations are in [Goes to take the dagger, lets it fall. The sun will shine, and all things have their
vain. Agn. Shake off this panic, and be more yourself.
course, 0. Wil. What's to be done ? On what had When we, the curse and burden of the earth, we determin'd ?
Shall be absorb'd and mingled with its dust. Agn. You're quite dismay'd.
Our guilt and desolation must be told, [Takes up the dagger. How far beyond the reach of human thought
From age to age, to teach desponding mortals, 0. Wil. Give me the fatal steel. "Tis but a single murder:
Heaven, when incens'd, can punish.—Die thou
first. Necessity, impatience, and despair,
[Stabs AGNES. The three wide mouths of that true Cerberus,
I dare not trust thy weakness. Grim Poverty, demand ;-they shall be stopp'd.
Agn. Ever kind, Ambition, persecution, and revenge,
But most in this ! Devour their millions daily: and shall I
0. Wil. I will not long survive thee. But follow me, and see how little cause
Agn. Do not accuse thy erring mother, WilYou had to think there was the least remain
mot! Of manhood, pity, mercy, or remorse,
With too much rigour, when we meet above. Left in this savage breast.
To give thee life for life, and blood for blood, [Going the wrong way. I'd give them all to speak my penitence,
Is not enough. Had I ten thousand lives, Agn. Where do you go? The street is that way.
Deep, and sincere, and equal to my crime. 0. Wil. True! I had forgot.
Oh, Wilmot! oh, my son! my son? [Dies. Agn. Quite, quite confounded. 0. Wil. Well, I recover.
Enter Randal and EUSTACE. I shall find the way. [Retires towards the bed. Eust. Oh, Wilmot! Wilmot! Agn. O, softly! softly! The least noise un-Are these the fruits of all thy anxious cares
For thy ungrateful parents ? - Cruel fiends! What are we doing? Misery and want
0. Wil. What whining fool art thou, who Are lighter ills than this! I cannot bear it!
would'st usurp Stop, hold thy hand !-Inconstant, wretched My sovereign right of grief?—Was he thy
woman! What! doth my heart recoil ?—0, Wilmot! Say! canst thou show thy hands reeking with Wilmot!
blood, What power shall I invoke to aid thee, Wil. That flow'd, through purer channels, from thy mot? [Scene closes.
Compute the sands that bound the spacious SCENE III.-Another Room,
And swell their numbers with a single grain; Enter CHARLOTTE, EUSTACE, and RANDAL. Increase the noise of thunder with thy voice; Char. What strange neglect! The doors Assist the tempest with thy feeble breath!
Or, when the raging wind lays nature waste, are all upbarr'd, And not a living creature to be seen.
But name not thy faint sorrow with the an
guish Enter OLD WILMOT and Agnes.
Of a curs'd wretch, who only hopes for this
Stabs himself. Sir, we are come to give and to receive
To change the scene, but not relieve his pain. A thousand greetings.-Ha! what can this Ran. A dreadful instance of the last re. mean?
morse! Why do you look with such amazement on us? May all our woes end here !
0. Wil. O would they end
We brought this dreadful ruin on ourselves. A thousand ages hence, I then should suffer Mankind may learn—but-oh!- [Dies. Much less than I deserve. Yet let me say, Ran. Heaven grant they may ! You'll do but justice, to inform the world, And may thy penitenceʻatone thy crime! This horrid deed, that punishes itself,
"Tend well the hapless Charlotte, and bear Was not intended, thinking him our son;
hence For that we knew not, 'till it was too late. These bleeding victims of despair and pride; Proud and impatient under our afflictions, Toll the death-bell! and follow to the grave While heaven was labouring to make us The wretched parents and ill-fated son. happy,