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Jaf. Hear this, you heav'ns! and wonder Pier. When last we parted, we'd no qualms how you made her:

Reign, reign, ye.monarchs that divide the world,
Busy rebellion ne'er will let you know
Tranquillity and happiness like mine!
Like gaudy ships th' obsequious billows fall,
And rise again to lift you in your pride;
They wait but for a storm, and then devour you;
I, in my private bark already wreck'd,
Like a poor merchant driven to unknown land,
That had by chance pack'd up his choicest


In one dear casket, and sav'd only that;
Since I must wander further on the shore,
Thus hug my little, but my precious store,
Resolv'd to scorn and trust my fate no more,


SCENE I.-The Rialto.

Jaf. I'm here; and thus, the shades of night around me,

I look as if all hell were in my heart,
And I in hell. Nay surely 'tis so with me!
For every step I tread, methinks some fiend
Knocks at my breast, and bids me not be quiet.
I've heard how desperate wretches, like myself,
Have wander'd out at this dead time of night,
To meet the foe of mankind in his walk.
Sure I'm so curs'd that, though of heaven

No minister of darkness cares to tempt me.
Hell, hell! why sleep'st thou?

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like these,

But entertain'd each other's thoughts like men Whose souls were well acquainted. Is the world Reform'd since our last meeting? What new miracles

Have happen'd? Has Priuh's heart relented? Can he be honest?

Jaf. Kind heav'n, let heavy curses Gall his old age; cramps, aches, rack his bones, And bitterest disquiet wring his heart. Oh! let him live, till life become his burden: Let him groan under't long, linger an age In the worst agonies and pangs of death, And find its ease but late.

Pier. Nay, couldst thou not As well, my friend, have stretch'd the curse to all The senate round, as to one single villain? Jaf. But curses stick not: could I kill with


By heaven I know not thirty heads in Venice
Should not be blasted. Senators should rot
Like dogs on dunghills. Oh! for a curse
To kill with!

Pier. Daggers, daggers are much better.
Jaf. Ha!

Pier. Daggers.

Jaf. But where are they?

Pier. Oh! a thousand

May be dispos'd of, in honest hands, in Venice. Jaf. Thou talk'st in clouds.

Pier. But yet a heart, half wrong'd As thine has been, would find the meaning, Jaffier.

Jaf. A thousand daggers, all in honest hands! And have not I a friend will stick one here! Pier. Yes, if I thought thou wert not cherish'd T'a nobler purpose, I would be thy friend; But thou hast better friends; friends whom thy


Have made thy friends; friends worthy to be call'd so.

I'll trust thee with a secret: There are spirits This hour at work.-But as thou art a man, Whom I have pick'd and chosen from the world, Swear that thou wilt be true to what I utter; And when I've told thee that which only gods, And men like gods, are privy to, then swear No chance or change shall wrest it from thy bosom.

Jaf. When thou wouldst bind me, is there need of oaths?

For thou'rt so near my heart, that thou may'st see
Its bottom, sound its strength and firmness to thee.
Is coward, fool, or villain in my face?
If I seem none of these, I dare believe
Thou wouldst not use me in a little cause,
For I am fit for honour's toughest task,
Nor ever yet found fooling was my province;
And for a villainous, inglorious enterprise,
I know thy heart so well, I dare lay mine
Before thee, set it to what point thou wilt.
Pier. Nay, 'tis a cause thou wilt be fond
of, Jaffier;

For it is founded on the noblest basis;
Our liberties, our natural inheritance.
There's no religion, no hypocrisy in't;
We'll do the business, and ne'er fast and
pray for't;

Openly act a deed the world shall gaze
With wonder at, and envy when 'tis done.
Jaf. For liberty!

Pier. For liberty, my friend.

Spin. Hell seize that soul amongst us it can

Thou shalt be freed from base Priuli's tyranny,
And thy sequester'd fortunes heal'd again:
I shall be free from those opprobrious wrongs
That press me now, and bend my spirit Why are we not together?

Ren. What's then the cause that I am
here alone?



All Venice free, and every growing merit
Succeed to its just right: fools shall be pull'd O, sir, welcome!
From wisdom's seat: those baleful, unclean birds, You are an Englishman: when treason's hatching,
Those lazy owls, who, perch'd near fortune's top, One might have thought you'd not have been
Sit only watchful with their heavy wings
To cuff down new-fledg'd virtues, that would rise
To nobler heights, and make the grove har-


Jaf. What can I do?

Pier. Canst thou not kill a senator?

Jaf. Were there one wise or honest, I could kill him,

For herding with that nest of fools and knaves. By all my wrongs, thou talk'st as if revenge Were to be had; and the brave story warms me. Pier. Swear then!

Jaf. I do, by all those glittering stars,
And yon great ruling planet of the night;
By all good pow'rs above, and ill below;
By love and friendship, dearer than my life,
No pow'r or death shall make me false to thee.
Pier. Here we embrace, and I'll unlock
my heart.

A council's held hard by, where the destruction
Of this great empire's hatching: there I'll lead thee.
But be a man! for thou'rt to mix with men
Fit to disturb the peace of all the world,
And rule it when it's wildest-

Jaf. I give thee thanks

For this kind warning. Yes, I'll be a man; And charge thee, Pierre, whene'er thou seest my fears.

Betray me less, to rip this heart of mine
Out of my breast, and show it for a coward's.
Come, let's be gone, for from this hour I chase
All little thoughts, all tender human follies
Out of my bosom: Vengeance shall have room:

Pier. And liberty!

Jaf. Revenge-revenge-.



Ren. Why was my choice ambition? the worst ground

A wretch can build on! It's, indeed, at distance,
A goodly prospect, tempting to the view;
The height delights us, and the mountain top
Looks beautiful, because it's nigh to heav'n.
But we ne'er think how sandy's the foundation,
What storm will batter, and what tempest
shake us.

Who's there?


Spin. Renault, good morrow, for by this time I think the scale of night has turn'd the balance, And weighs up morning! Has the clock struck twelve?

Ren. Yes! clocks will go as they are set;

but man, Irregular man's ne'er constant, never certain: I've spent at least three precious hours of darkness In waiting dull attendance: 'tis the curse Of diligent virtue to be mix'd, like mine, With giddy tempers, souls but half resolv'd.

In what whore's lap have
you been lolling?
Give but an Englishman his whore and ease,
Beef, and a sea-coal fire, he's yours for ever.
Ell. Frenchman, you are saucy.
Ren. How!

Enter BEDAMAR, the Ambassador; THEO-

Bed. At difference; fie!

Is this a time for quarrels? Thieves and rogues Fall out and brawl: should men of your high calling,

Men separated by the choice of Providence
From the gross heap of mankind, and set here
In this assembly as in one great jewel,
T' adorn the bravest purpose it e'er smil'd on;
Should you, like boys, wrangle for trifles?
Ren, Boys!

Bed. Renault, thy hand.

Ren. I thought I'd given my heart Long since to every man that mingles here; But grieve to find it trusted with such tempers, That can't forgive my froward age its weakness.

Bed. Elliot, thou once hadst virtue. I have seen
Thy stubborn temper bent with godlike goodness,
Not half thus courted: 'Tis thy nation's glory
To hug the foe that offers brave alliance.
One more embrace, my friends - we'll all

United thus, we are the mighty engine
Must twist this rooted empire from its basis.
Totters not it already?

Ell. Would, 'twere tumbling.
Bed. Nay, it shall down; this night we seal

its ruin.


Oh, Pierre, thou art welcome.
Come to my breast, for by its hopes thou look'st
Lovelily dreadful, and the fate of Venice
Seems on thy sword already. Oh, my Mars!
The poets that first feign'd a god of war,
Sure prophesied of thee.

Pier. Friend, was not Brutus
(I mean that Brutus, who in open senate
Stabb'd the first Caesar that usurp'd the world),
A gallant man?

Ren. Yes, and Cataline too;
Though story wrong his fame: for he conspir'd
To prop the reeling glory of his country:
His cause was good.

Bed. And ours as much above it,
As, Renault, thou'rt superior to Cethegus,

Or Pierre to Cassius.

Pier. Then to what we aim at.
When do we start? or must we talk for ever?
Bed. No, Pierre, the deed's near birth; fate
seems to have set
The business up, and given it to our care;

I hope there's not a heart or hand amongst us,
But is firm and ready.

All. All.

We'll die with Bedamar.

Bed. O men

Matchless! as will your glory be hereafter:
The game is for a matchless prize, if won;
If lost, disgraceful ruin,

Pier.Ten thousand men are armed at your nod,
Commanded all by leaders fit to guide
A battle for the freedom of the world:
This wretched state has starv'd them in its

Come, come, I read distrust in all your faces;
You fear me villain, and, indeed, it's odd
To hear a stranger talk thus, at first meeting,
Of matters that have been so well debated;
But I come ripe with wrongs, as you with

I hate this senate, am a foe to Venice;
A friend to none, but men resolv'd like me
To push on mischief. Oh! did you but know me,
I need not talk thus!

Bed. Pierre, I must embrace him.
My heart beats to this man, as if it knew him,
Ren. I never lov'd these huggers.
Jaf. Still I see

And, by your bounty quicken'd, they're resolved
To serve your glory, and revenge their own: The cause delights ye not. Your friends survey me
They've all their different quarters in this city, As I were dangerous-But I come arm'd
Watch for th' alarm, and grumble 'tis so tardy. Against all doubts, and to your trust will give
Bed. I doubt not, friend, but thy unwearied A pledge, worth more than all the world can


Has still kept waking, and it shall have ease;
After this night it is resolv'd we meet
No more, till Venice owns us for her lords.
Pier. How lovelily the Adriatic whore,
Dress'd in her flames, will shine! Devouring

Such as shall burn her to the watery bottom,
And hiss in her foundation.

Bed. Now if any

Amongst us, that owns this glorious cause,
Have friends or interest he'd wish to save,
Let it be told: the general doom is seal'd;
But I'd forego the hopes of a world's empire,
Rather than wound the bowels of my friend.
Pier. I must confess, you there have touch'd
my weakness,

I have a friend; hear it! such a friend,
My heart was ne'er shut to him. Nay, I'll tell you:
He knows the very business of this hour;
But he rejoices in the cause, and loves it;
We've chang'd a vow to live and die together,
And he's at hand to ratify it here.
Ren. How! all betray'd!

Pier. No-I've nobly dealt with you;
I've brought my all into the public stock:
I've but one friend, and him I'll share amongst


Receive and cherish him; or if, when seen

pay for.
My Belvidera. Hoa; my Belvidera!
Bed. What wonder's next?
Jaf. Let me entreat you,

As I have henceforth hopes to call you friends,
That all but the ambassador, and this
Grave guide of councils, with my friend that

owns me,

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Jaf. Indeed 'tis late.

Bel. Alas! where am I? whither is't you
lead me?

Methinks I read distraction in your face,
Something less gentle than the fate you tell me.
You shake and tremble too! your blood runs

And search'd, you find him worthless; as my Heav'ns guard my love, and bless his heart


Has lodg'd this secret in his faithful breast,
To ease your fears, I wear a dagger here'
Shall rip it out again, and give you rest.
Come forth, thou only good l'e'er could boast of.

Enter JAFFIER, with a Dagger.
Bed. His presence bears the show of manly

Jaf. I know you'll wonder all,that thus uncall'd,
I dare approach this place of fatal councils;
But I'm amongst you, and by heav'n it glads me
To see so many virtues thus united

To restore justice, and dethrone oppression.
Command this sword, if you would have it quiet,
Into this breast; but, if you think it worthy
To cut the throats of reverend rogues in robes,
Send me into the curs'd assembled senate:
It shrinks not, though I meet a father there.
Would you behold this city flaming? here's
A hand shall bear a lighted torch at noon
To th' arsenal, and set its gates on fire.
Ren. You talk this well, sir.
Jaf. Nay-by heaven I'll do this.

with patience.

Jaf. That I have patience, let our fate bear

Who has ordain'd it so, that thou and I
(Thou, the divinest good man e'er possess'd,
And I, the wretched'st of the race of man)
This very hour, without one tear, must part.
Bel. Part! must we part? Oh, am I then


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You know the rest-Then strike it to her heart; Thou gav'st last night in parting with me; strike it
And tell her, he who three whole happy years Here to my heart; and as the blood flows from it,
Lay in her arms, and each kind night repeated Judge if it run not pure, as Cato's daughter's.
The passionate vows of still increasing love, Jaf. Oh! Belvidera!
Sent that reward for all her truth and sufferings.
Bel. Nay, take my life, since he has sold it

O! thou unkind one;

Never meet more! have I deserv'd this from you;
Look on me, tell me, speak, thou fair deceiver.
Why am I separated from thy love?
If I am false, accuse me; but if true,
Don't, pr'ythee don't, in poverty forsake me,
But pity the sad heart that's torn with parting.
Yet hear me, yet recall me-

[Exeunt Renault, Bedamar, and Belvidera. Jaf. Oh! my eyes,

Look not that way, but turn yourselves awhile
Into my heart, and be wean'd altogether.
My friend where art thou?

Pier. Here, my honour's brother.
Jaf. Is Belvidera gone?

Pier. Renault has led her

Back to her own apartment; but, by heav'n, Thou must not see her more, till our work's over. Jaf. No!

Pier. Not for your life.

Jaf. Oh, Pierre, wert thou but she,
How I would pull thee down into my heart,
Gaze on thee, till my eye-strings crack'd with

Then, swelling, sighing, raging to be blest,
Come like a panting turtle to thy breast;
On thy soft bosom hovering, bill and play,
Confess the cause why last I fled away;
Own 'twas a fault, but swear to give it o'er,
And never follow false ambition more.


SCENE I.-A Chamber.



Bel. I'm sacrific'd! I'm sold! betray'd to shame!

Inevitable ruin has enclos'd me!
He that should guard my virtue has betray'd it;
Left me! undone me! Oh, that I could hate him!
Where shall I go? Oh, whither, whither,


Jaf. Can Belvidera want a resting-place, When these poor arms are ready to receive her? There was a time

Bel. Yes, yes, there was a time, When Belvidera's tears, her cries, and sorrows, Were not despis'd; when, if she chanc'd to sigh, Or look'd but sad—there was indeed a time, When Jaffier would have ta'en her in his arms, Eas'd her declining head upon his breast, And never left her till he found the cause. Jaf. Oh, Portia, Portia! What a soul was thine!

Bel. That Portia was a woman; and when Brutus,

Big with the fate of Rome, (heav'n guard thy safety!)

Conceal'd from her the labours of his mind;
She let him see her blood was great as his,
Flow'd from a spring as noble, and a heart
Fit to partake his troubles as his love.
Fetch, fetch that dagger back, the dreadful dower,

Bel. Why was I last night deliver'd to a villain?

Jaf. Ha! a villain?

Bel. Yes, to a villain! Why at such an hour Meets that assembly, all made up of wretches? Why, I in this hand, and in that a dagger, Was I deliver'd with such dreadful ceremonies? To you, sirs, and to your honours, Ibequeath her, And with her this: Whene'er I prove unworthyYou know the rest - then strike it to her heart. Oh! why's that rest conceal'd from me? Mustl Be made the hostage of a hellish trust? For such I know I am; that's all my value. But, by the love and loyalty I owe thee, I'll free thee from the bondage of the slaves; Straight to the senate, tell 'em all I know, All that I think, all that my fears inform me.

Jaf. Is this the Roman virtue; this the blood That boasts its purity with Cato's daughter? Would she have e'er betray'd her Brutus? Bel. No:

For Brutus trusted her. Wert thou so kind, What would not Belvidera suffer for thee?

Jaf. I shall undo myself, and tell thee all. Yet think a little, ere thou tempt me further; Think I've a tale to tell will shake thy nature, Melt all this boasted constancy thou talk'st of Into vile tears and despicable sorrows: Then if thou shouldst betray me!—

Bel. Shall I swear!

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Bel. I know it; thou wilt kill me. Do, strike thy sword into this bosom: lay me Dead on the earth, and then thou wilt be safe. Murder my father! though his cruel nature Has persecuted me to my undoing; Driven me to basest wants; can I behold him, With smiles of vengeance, butcher'd in his age? The sacred fountain of my life destroy'd? And canst thou shed the blood that gave me being Nay, be a traitor too, and sell thy country? Can thy great heart descend so vilely low, Mix with hir'd slaves, bravoes, and common stabbers,

Nose-slitters, alley-lurking villains! join With such a crew, and take a ruffian's wages, To cut the throats of wretches as they sleep? Jaf. Thou wrong'st me, Belvidera! I've en


With men of souls; fit to reform the ills
Of all mankind: there's not a heart amongst them
But's stout as death, yet honest as the nature

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Of man first made,ere fraud and vice were fashion.
Bel. What's he, to whose curst hands last
night thou gav'st me?

Was that well done? Oh! I could tell a story,
Would rouse thy lion heart out of its den,
And make it rage with terrifying fury.
Jaf. Speak on, I charge thee.

Bel O my love! If e'er

Thy Belvidera's peace deserv'd thy care,
Remove me from this place. Last night, last night!

Of a whole people, should sneak thus into corners
To ease his fulsome lusts, and fool his mind.
Jaf. May not a man then trifle out an hour
With a kind woman, and not wrong his calling?
Pier. Not in a cause like ours.

Jaf. Then, friend, our cause

Is in a damn'd condition: for I'll tell thee, That cankerworm, call'd lechery, has touch'd it; 'Tis tainted vilely. Wouldst thou think it? Renault (That mortify'd, old, wither'd, winter rogue)

Jaf. Distract me not, but give me all the truth. He visited her last night, like a kind guardian: Faith! she has some temptation, that's the truth on't.

Bel. No sooner wert thou gone, and I alone,
Left in the pow'r of that old son of mischief;
No sooner was I lain on my sad bed,
But that vile wretch approach'd me, loose, un-

Ready for violation: Then my heart
Throbb'd with its fears: Oh, how I wept and

And shrunk and trembled! wish'd in vain for him
That should protect me! Thou, alas! wert gone.
Jaf. Patience, sweet heav'n, till I make ven-
geance sure.

Bel. He drew the hideous dagger forth, thou
gav'st him,

And with upbraiding smiles, he said, Behold it:
This is the pledge of a false husband's love:
And in my arms then press'd, and would have
clasp'd me;

But with my cries, I scar'd his coward heart,
Till be withdrew, and mutter'd vows to hell.
These are thy friends! with these thy life, thy

Thy love, all stak'd, and all will go to ruin.
Jaf. No more: I charge thee keep this secret


Pier. He durst not wrong his trust.
Jaf. 'Twas something late, though,
To take the freedom of a lady's chamber.
Pier. Was she in bed?

Jaf. Yes, faith, in virgin sheets,
White as her bosom, Pierre, dish'd neatly up,
Might tempt a weaker appetite to taste.
Oh! how the old fox stunk, I warrant thee,
When the rank fit was on him!
Pier. Patience guide me!
He's us'd no violence?

Jaf. No, no; out on't, violence!
Play'd with her neck; brush'd, her with his
grey beard;
But not a jot of violence.
Pier. Damn him.

Jaf. Ay, so say I: but hush, no more on
All hitherto is well, and I believe
Myself no monster yet: Sure it is near the hour
We all should meet for our concluding orders:
Will the ambassador be here in person?

Pier. No, he has sent commission to that
villain, Renault,
Clear up thy sorrows; look as if thy wrongs To give the executing charge:
Were all forgot, and treat him like a friend, I'd have thee be a man, if possible,
As no complaint were made. No more; retire, And keep thy temper; for a brave revenge
Retire, my life, and doubt not of my honour; Ne'er comes too late.
I'll heal its failings, and deserve thy love,
Bel. Oh! should I part with thee, I fear
thou wilt

la anger leave me, and return no more.
Jaf. Return no more! I would not live
without thee

Another night, to purchase the creation.
Bel. When shall we meet again?
Jaf. Anon, at twelve

I'll steal myself to thy expecting arms:

Come like a travell'd dove, and bring thee peace.

Bel. Indeed!

Jaf. By all our loves.

Bel. Tis hard to part:

But sure no falsehood ever look'd so fairly.
Farewell; remember twelve.

Jaf. Let heav'n forget me,


When I remember not thy truth, thy love.

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Jaf. Fear not, I am cool as patience.
Pier. He's yonder, coming this way through
the hall;
His thoughts seem full.

Jaf. Pr'ythee retire, and leave me
With him alone: I'll put him to some trial;
See how his rotten part will bear the touching.
Pier. Be careful, then.


Jaf. Nay, never doubt, but trust me.
What! be a devil, take a damning oath
For shedding native blood! Can there be a sin
In merciful repentance? Oh, this villain!


Ren. Perverse and peevish: What a slave is


To let his rebel passions master him!
Dispatch the tool her husband-that were well.
Who's there?

Jaf. A man.

Ren. My friend, my near ally,

The hostage of your faith, my beauteous charge,
is very well.

Jaf. Sir, are you sure of that?
Stands she in perfect health? Beats her pulse even;
Neither too hot nor cold?

A wife, on the dull soil! Sure a staunch husband
Of all hounds is the dullest. Wilt thou never, Ren. What means that question?
Never be wean'd from caudles and confections? Jaf. Oh, women have fantastic constitutions,
What feminine tales hast thou been list'ning to, Inconstant in their wishes, always wavering,
Of unair'd shirts, catarrhs and tooth-ach, got And never fix'd. Was it not boldly done,
By thin-sol'd shoes? Damnation! that a fellow, Even at first sight, to trust the thing I lov'd
Chosen to be a sharer in the destruction (A tempting treasure too) with youth so fierce

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