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And vigorous as thine? but thou art honest.
Ren. Who dares accuse me?
Jaf. Curs'd be he that doubts
Thy virtue! I have try'd it, and declare,
Were I to choose a guardian of my honour,
I'd put it in thy keeping: for I know thee.
Ren. Know me!
Jaf. Ay, know thee. There's no falsehood in thee:
Thou look'st just as thou art. Let us embrace.
Now wouldst thou cut my throat, or I cut thine.
Ren. You dare not do't.
Jaf. You lie, sir.
Ren. But one thing more, and then farewell, till fate
Join us again, or sep'rate us for ever.
First let's embrace. Heav'n knows who next
Wing ye together; but lets all remember,
We wear no common cause upon our swords:
Let each man think that on his single virtue
Depends the good and fame of all the rest;
Eternal honour, or perpetual infamy.
You droop, sir.
Jaf. No; with most profound attention I've heard it all, and wonder at thy virtue. Oh, Belvidera! take me to thy arms, And show me where's my peace, for I have lost it. [Exit Ren. Without the least remorse then, let's resolve
Enter SPINOSA, THEODORE, ELLIOTT, REVILLI-
DO, DURAND, BROMVEIL, and the rest With fire and sword t'exterminate these tyrants;
Under whose weight this wretched country la-
Spin. You are trembling, sir.
The means are only in our hands to crown them. Pier. And may those pow'rs above that are propitious
Ren. Tis a cold night, indeed, and I am aged; To gallant minds, record this cause and bless it. Full of decay and natural infirmities:
We shall be warm, my friends, I hope, to
Pier. "Twas not well done; thou shouldst have strok'd him,
And not have gall'd him.
Jaf. Damn him, let him chew on't. Heav'n! where am I? beset with cursed fiends, That wait to damn me! What a devil's man, When he forgets his nature-hush, my heart. Ren. My friends, 'tis late; are we assembled all?
To-morrow's rising sun must see you all. Deck'd in your honours. Are the soldiers ready? Pier. Áll, all.
Ren. You, Durand, with your thousand must possess
St. Mark's; you, captain, know your charge already,
'Tis to secure the ducal palace: You, Be all this done with the least tumult possible, 'Till in each place you post sufficient guards: Then sheathe your swords i. every breast you
Jaf. Oh! reverend cruelty! damn'd bloody villain!
Ren. During this execution, Durand, you Must in the midst keep your battalia fast; And, Theodore, be sure to plant the cannon That may command the streets;
This done, we'll give the general alarm,
Apply petards, and force the ars'nal gates;
Then fire the city round in several places,
Or with our cannon (if it dare resist)
Batter to ruin. But above all I charge you,
Shed blood enough; spare neither sex nor age,
Name nor condition; if there live a senator
After to-morrow, though the dullest rogue
That e'er said nothing, we have lost our ends.
If possible, let's kill the very name
Of senator, and bury it in blood.
Jaf. Merciless, horrid slave- Ay, blood enough!
Shed blood enough, old Renault! how thou charm'st me!
Ren. Thus happy, thus secure of all we wish for,
Should there, my friends, be found among us one False to this glorious enterprise, what fate, What vengeance were enough for such a villain? Ell. Death here without repentance, hell
Ren. Let that be my lot, if as here I stand, Listed by fate among her darling sons, Though I had one only brother, dear by all The strictest ties of nature; could I have such a friend
Join'd in this cause, and had but ground to fear He meant foul play; may this right hand drop from me,
If I'd not hazard all my future peace,
And stab him to the heart before you. Who,
Who would do less? Wouldst thou not,
Pierre, the same?
Pier. You've singled me, sir, out for this hard question.
As if it were started only for my sake!
Am I the thing you fear? Here, here's my bosom
Search it with all your swords. Am I a traitor
Ren. No: but I fear your late commended
No more of this, 'twill breed ill blood among us. Come but to-morrow, all your doubts shall end, Spin. Let us all draw our swords, and search And to your loves, me better recommend, That I've preser'vd your fame, and sav'd my
Pull him from the dark hole where he sits
O'er his cold fears, and each man kill his share
Pier. Who talks of killing? Who's he'll
shed the blood
That's dear to me? is't you, or you, or you, sir?
What, not one speak! how you stand gaping all
On your grave oracle, your wooden god there!
Yet not a word! Then, sir, I'll tell you a secret;
Suspicion's but at best a coward's virtue.
SCENE I.-The Rialto.
Enter JAFFIER and BELVIDERA.
Jaf. Where dost thou lead me? Every step
Methinks I tread upon some mangled limb
Of a rack'd friend. Oh, my charming ruin!
Where are we wandering?
Bel. To eternal honour.
[Handles his Sword. To do a deed shall chronicle thy name
Pier. Put up thy sword, old man; Among the glorious legends of those few
Thy hand shakes at it. Come, let's heal this breach; That have sav'd sinking nations. Thy renown
I am too hot, we yet may all live friends. Shall be the future song of all the virgins,
Spin. Till we are safe, our friendship can- Who by thy piety have been preserv'd
From horrid violation. Every street
Shall be adorn'd with statues to thy honour:
And at thy feet this great inscription written,
Remember him that propp'd the fall of Venice.
Pier. Again! Who's that?
Spin. Twas I.
Theo. And I.
Omnes. And all.
Ren. Who are on my side?
Spin. Every honest sword.
Let's die like men, and not be sold like slaves.
Pier. One such word more, by heav'n I'll
to the senate,
And hang ye all, like dogs, in clusters.
Why peep your coward swords half out their
Why do you not all brandish them like mine?
You fear to die, and yet dare talk of killing.
Ren. Go to the senate, and betray us! haste!
Secure thy wretched life; we fear to die
Less than thou dar'st be honest.
Pier. That's rank falsehood.
Fear'st not thou death! Fie, there's a knavish itch
In that salt blood, an utter foe to smarting.
Had Jaffier's wife prov'd kind, he'd still been
Faugh, how that stinks! thou die, thou kill my
Or thou! or thou! with that lean wither'd face.
Away, disperse all to your several charges,
And meet to-morrow where your honour calls
I'll bring that man, whose blood you so much
And you shall see him venture for you fairly-
Hence! hence, I say. (Exit Renault, angrily.
Spin. I fear we've been to blame,
And done too much.
Theo. "Twas too far urg'd against the man
Reo. Here, take our swords, and crush them
with your feet.
Spin. Forgive us, gallant friend.
Pier. Nay, now you've found
The way to melt, and cast me as you will.
Whence rose all this discord?
Oh, what a dangerous precipice have we
How near a fall was all we'd long been building!
What an eternal blot had stain'd our glories,
If one, the bravest and the best of men,
Had fall'n a sacrifice to rash suspicion,
Jaf. Rather, remember him, who, after all The sacred bonds of oaths, and holier friendship, In fond compassion to a woman's tears, Forgot his manhood, virtue, truth, and honour, To sacrifice the bosom that reliev'd him. Why wilt thou damn me?
Bel. Oh, inconstant man!
How will you promise; how will you deceive!
Do, return back, replace me in my bondage,
Tell all thy friends how dangerously thou
And let thy dagger do its bloody office.
Or if thou think'st it nobler, let me live,
Till I'm a victim to the hateful lust
Of that infernal devil.
Last night, my love!
Jaf. Name it not again:
It shows a beastly image to my fancy,
Will wake me into madness.
Destruction, swift destruction, fall on my coward
Bel. Delay no longer then, but to the senate,
And tell the dismal'st story ever utter'd:
Tell 'em what bloodshed, rapines, desolations,
Have been prepar'd, how near's the fatal hour.
Save thy poor country, save the reverend blood
Of all its nobles, which to-morrow's dawn
Jaf. Oh! think what then may prove my lot: By all heav'ns powers, prophetic truth dwells in thee;
For every word thou speak'st, strikes through
Just what thou'st made me, take me, Belvidera,
And lead me to the place where I'm to say
This bitter lesson; where I must betray
My truth, my virtue, constancy, and friends.
Must I betray my friend? Ah! take me quickly:
Secure me well before that thought's renew'd;
If I relapse once more, all's lost for ever.
Bel. Hast thou a friend more dear than Bel-
Jaf. No; thour't my soul itself; wealth,
All present joys, and earnest of all future,
Are summ'd in thee.
Butcher'd by those, whose cause he came to Come, lead me forward, now, like a tame lamb To sacrifice. Thus, in his fatal garlands
Trots by th' enticing, flatt'ring priestess' side,
And much transported with its little pride,
Forgets his dear companions of the plain;
Till by her bound, he's on the altar lain,
Yet then too hardly bleats, such pleasure's in
Enter Officer and six Guards.
Offi. Stand! who goes there?
Offi. But what friends are you?
Bel. Friends to the senate, and the state of
Unfold the truth, and be restor❜d with mercy.
Jaf. Think not, that I to save my life came
I know its value better; but in pity
To all those wretches whose unhappy dooms
Are fix'd and seal'd. You see me here before you,
The sworn and covenanted foe of Venice:
But use me as my dealings may deserve,
And I may prove a friend.
Duke. The slave capitulates,
Give him the tortures.
Jaf. That you dare not do;
Your fear won't let you, not the longing itch
To hear a story which you dread the truth of:
Truth, which the fear of smart shall ne'er get
Offi. My orders are to seize on all I find At this late hour, and bring 'em to the council, Cowards are scar'd with threat'nings; boys Who are now sitting. are whipt Jaf. Sir, you shall be obey'd. Into confessions: but a steady mind Now the lot's cast, and, fate, do what thou Acts of itself, ne'er asks the body counsel. wilt. [Exeunt guarded. Give him the tortures! Name but such a thing Again, by heav'n I'll shut these lips for ever. SCENE II.-The Senate-house, where appear Not all your racks, your engines, or your sitting the Duke of Venice, PRIULI, and other Senators.
Duke. Antony, Priuli, senators of Venice,
Speak, why are we assembled here this night?
What have you to inform us of, concerns
The state of Venice, honour, or its safety?
Pri. Could words express the story I've to
Fathers, these tears were useless, these sad tears
That fall from my old eyes; but there is cause
We all should weep, tear off these purple robes,
And wrap ourselves in sackcloth, sitting down
On the sad earth, and cry aloud to heav'n:
Heav'n knows, if yet there be an hour to come
Ere Venice be no more.
All Sen. How!
Pri. Nay, we stand
Upon the very brink of gaping ruin.
Within this city's form'd a dark conspiracy,
To massacre us all, our wives and children,
Kindred and friends, our palaces and temples
To lay in ashes: nay, the hour too fix'd;
The swords, for aught I know, drawn e'en
Shall force a groan away, that you may guess at.
Duke. Name your conditions.
Jaf. For myself full pardon,
Besides the lives of two-and-twenty friends,
Whose names are here enroll'd-Nay, let their
Be ne'er so monstrous, I must have the oaths
And sacred promise of this reverend council,
That, in a full assembly of the senate
The thing I ask be ratify'd. Swear this,
And I'll unfold the secret of your danger.
Duke. Propose the oath.
Jaf. By all the hopes
Ye have of peace and happiness hereafter,
All Sen. We swear.
Jaf. And, as ye keep the oath,
May you, and your posterity be bless'd,
Or curs'd for ever.
All Sen. Else be curs'd for ever.
Jaf. Then here's the list, and with't the full
Of all that threatens you. [Delivers a Paper.
Now, fate, thou hast caught me.
Duke. Give order that all diligent search
And the wild waste begun. From unknown hands
I had this warning; but, if we are men,
Let's not be tamely butcher'd, but do something
That may inform the world, in after ages, To seize these men, their characters are public;
Our virtue was not ruin'd, though we were. The paper intimates their rendezvous
[A Noise without. To be at the house of a fam'd Grecian courtezan,
Room, room, make room for some prisoners-Call'd Aquilina; see that place secur'd.
Enter Officer and Guards.
Duke. Speak, there. What disturbance?
Offi. Two prisoners have the guards seiz'd
in the street,
Who say, they come t'inform this reverend senate
About the present danger.
Enter JAFFIER and Officer.
You, Jaffier, must with patience bear till morning
To be our prisoner.
Jaf. Would the chains of death
Had bound me safe, ere I had known this minute.
Duke. Captain, withdraw your prisoner.
Jaf. Sir, if possible,
Lead me where my own thoughts themselves
may lose me;
Where I may doze out what I've left of life,
All Sen. Give 'em entrance-Well, who are Forget myself, and this day's guilt and falsehood.
Would every man, that hears me,
Would deal so honestly, and own his title.
Duke. 'Tis rumour'd, that a plot has been
Against this state; and you've a share in't too.
If you are a villain, to redeem your honour
Cruel remembrance, how shall I appease thee?
Offi. [Without] More traitors; room,room,
room, make room, there.
Duke. How's this? guards!
Where are our guards? Shut up the gates,
Already at our doors.
Offi. My lords, more traitors,
Sei'd in the very act of consultation;
Furnish'd with arms and instruments of mischief.
Bring in the prisoners.
Pier. Death! honourable death!
Ren. Death's the best thing we ask, or you
No shameful bonds, but honourable death.
Duke. Break up the council. Captain, guard
Enter PIERRE, RENAULT, THEODORE, ELLIOTT, Jaffier, you're free, but these must wait for
REVILLIDO, and other Conspirators, in
Pier. You, my lords, and fathers
(As you are pleas'd to call yourselves), of Venice;
If you sit here to guide the course of justice,
Why these disgraceful chains upon the limbs
That have so often labour'd in your service?
Are these the wreaths of triumph ye bestow
On those, that bring you conquest home, and
Duke. Go on; you shall be heard, sir.
Ant. And be hang'd too, I hope.
Pier. Are these the trophies I've deserv'd
Your battles with confederated powers?
When winds and seas conspir'd to overthrow
And brought the fleets of Spain to your own harbours;
When you, great duke, shrunk trembling in
And saw your wife, the Adriatic, plough'd,
Like a lewd whore, by bolder prows than yours,
Stepp'd not I forth, and taught your loose Ve-
And brave enough to tell me I'm a traitor.
Duke. Know you one Jaffier?
[Exeunt all the Senators. Pier. Come, where's my dungeon? Lead me to my straw:
It will not be the first time I've lodg'd hard
To do the senate service.
Jaf. Hold, one moment.
Pier. Who's he disputes the judgment of
Presumptuous rebel-on- [Strikes Jaffier.
Jaf. By heav'n, you stir not!
I must be heard; I must have leave to speak.
Thou hast disgrac'd me, Pierre, by a vile blow:
Had not a dagger done thee nobler justice?
But use me as thou wilt, thou canst not wrong me,
For I am fallen beneath the basest injuries:
Yet look upon me with an eye of mercy,
With pity and with charity behold me:
But as there dwells a godlike nature in thee,
Listen with mildness to my supplications.
Pier. What whining monk art thou? what
That wouldst encroach upon my credulous ears,
And cant'st thus vilely? Hence! I know thee not:
Jaf. Not know me, Pierre?
Pier. No, I know thee not! What art thou?
Jaf. Jaffier, thy friend, thy once lov'd, valu'd
Though now deserv'dly scorn'd, and us'd most hardly.
Pier. Thou, Jaffier! thou, my once lov'd, valu'd friend!
[Conspirators murmur. By heav'ns thou liest; the man so call'd, my
Pier. Yes, and know his virtue.
His justice, truth, his general worth, and sufferings
From a hard father, taught me first to love him.
Enter JAFFIER, guarded.
Duke. See him brought forth.
Pier. My friend too bound! nay then
Our fate has conquer'd us, and we must fall.
Why droops the man whose welfare's so much
They're but one thing? These reverend tyrants,
Call us traitors. Art thou one, my brother?
Jaf. To thee, I am the falsest, veriest slave,
That e'er betray'd a generous, trusting friend,
gave up honour to be sure of ruin.
All our fair hopes, which morning was t' have
Has this curs'd tongue o'erthrown.
Pier. So, then all's over:
Venice has lost her freedom, I my
No more! Farewell!
Duke. Say; will you make confession
Of your vile deeds, and trust the senate's mercy
Pier. Curs'd be your senate: curs'd your
The curse of growing factions and divisions,
Still vex your councils, shake your public safety,
And make the robes of government you wear
Hateful to you, as these base chains to me.
Duke. Pardon, or death?
Was generous, honest, faithful, just, and valiant;
Noble in mind, and in his person lovely;
Dear to my eyes, and tender to my heart:
But thou, a wretched, base, false, worthless
Poor, even in soul, and loathsome in thy aspect;
All eyes must shun thee, and all hearts detest thee.
Pr'ythee avoid; nor longer cling thus round me,
Like something baneful, that my nature's chill'd at.
Jaf. I have not wrong'd thee, by these tears
I have not.
Pier. Hast thou not wrong'd me? Dar'st
thou call thyself
That once lov'd, valu'd friend of mine,
And swear thou hast not wrong'd me? Whence
Whence the vile death which I may meet this moment?
Whence this dishonour, but from thee, thou
Jaf. All's true; yet grant one thing, and
I've done asking.
Jaf. To take thy life, on such conditions
The counsel have propos'd: thou, and thy friends,
May yet live long, and to be better treated.
Pier. Life! ask my life! confess! record myself
A villain, for the privilege to breathe
And carry up and down this cursed city,
A discontented and repining spirit,
Burthensome to itself, a few years longer;
To lose it, may be at last, in a lewd quarrel
new friend, treacherous and false
as thou art!
No, this vile world and I have long been jangling,
And cannot part on better terms than now,
When only men, like thee, are fit to live in't.
Jaf. By all that's just-
Pier, Swear by some other powers,
For thou hast broke that sacred oath too lately.
Jaf. Then, by that hell I merit, I'll not
Till, to thyself, at least thou'rt reconcil'd,
However thy resentment deal with me.
Pier. Not leave me!
Jaf. No; thou shalt not force me from thee.
Use me reproachfully, and like a slave;
Tread on me, buffet me, heap wrongs on wrongs
On my poor head; I'll bear it all with patience
Shall weary out thy most unfriendly cruelty:
Lie at thy feet, and kiss 'em, though they spurn me;
Till wounded by my sufferings, thou relent,
And raise me to thy arms, with dear forgiveness.
Pier. Art thou not-
Pier. A traitor? Jaf. Yes.
Pier. A villain? Jaf. Granted.
Pier. A coward, a most scandalous coward; Spiritless, void of honour; one who has sold Thy everlasting fame, for shameless life? Jaf. All, all and more, much more: my faults are numberless.
Pier. And wouldst thou have me live on terms like thine; Base, as thou art false
Jaf. No; 'tis to me that's granted:
The safety of thy life was all I aim'd at,
In recompense for faith and trust so broken.
Pier. I scorn it more, because preserv'd by thee;
And, as when first my foolish heart took pity
On thy misfortunes, sought thee in thy miseries,
Reliev'd thy wants, and rais'd thee from the state
Of wretchedness, in which thy fate had plung'd
To rank thee in my list of noble friends;
All I receiv'd, in surety for thy truth,
Were unregarded oaths, and this, this dagger,
Giv'n with a worthless pledge, thou since hast
So I restore it back to thee again;
Swearing by all those pow'rs which thou hast
Never, from this curs'd hour to hold communion, Friendship, or interest, with thee, though our years
Were to exceed those limited the world.
Take it -farewell-for now I owe thee nothing.
Jaf. Say thou wilt live then.
Pier. For my life, dispose it
So now for thinking-A blow, call'd a traitor, villain,
Coward, dishonourable coward; fough!
Oh! for a long sound sleep, and so forget it.
Down, busy devil!
Bel. Whither shall I fly?
Where hide me and my miseries together?
Where's now the Roman constancy I boasted?
Sunk into trembling fears and desperation,
Not daring to look up to that dear face
Which us'd to smile, eve'n on my faults; but,
Bending these miserable eyes on earth, Must move in penance, and implore much mercy. Jaf. Mercy! kind heav'n has surely endless
Hoarded for thee, of blessings yet untasted:
Oh, Belvidera! I'm the wretched'st creature
E'er crawl'd on earth.
My friend too, Belvidera, that dear friend,
Who, next to thee, was all my health rejoic'd in,
Has us'd me like a slave, shamefully us'd me:
'Twould break thy pitying heart to hear the story.
Bel. What has he done?
Jaf. Before we parted,
Ere yet his guards had led him to his prison,
Full of severest sorrows for his sufferings,
With eyes o'erflowing, and a bleeding heart,
As at his feet I kneel'd and su'd for mercy,
With a reproachful hand he dash'd a blow:
He struck me, Belvidera! by heav'n, he struck me!
Buffetted, call'd me traitor, villain, coward.
Am I a coward? Am I a villain? Tell me:
Thou'rt the best judge, and mad'st me, if I am so!
Bel. Oh! forgive him, Jaffier; And, if his sufferings wound thy heart already, What will they do to-morrow? Jaf. Ah!
When thou shalt see him stretch'd in all the agonies
Of a tormenting and a shameful death;
His bleeding bowels, and his broken limbs,
Insulted o'er, by a vile, butchering villain;
What will thy heart do then? Oh! sure 'twill
Just as thou wilt, because 'tis what I'm tir'd with. Like my eyes now.
Jaf. Oh, Pierre!
Jaf. My eyes won't lose the sight of thee, But languish after thee, and ache with gazing. Pier. Leave me-Nay, then thus, thus throw thee from me; And curses, great as is thy falsehood,
Jaf. Amen. He's gone, my father, friend, preserver,
Jaf. What means thy dreadful story? Death,and to-morrow! Broken limbs and bowels! Bel. The faithless senators, 'tis they've decreed it:
They say, according to our friends' request, They shall have death, and not ignoble bondage: catch Declare their promis'd mercy all has forfeited: [Exit False to their oaths, and deaf to intercession, Warrants are pass'd for public death to