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A MUSICAL DRAMA, IN TWO ACTS.-BY SAMUEL BIRCH.

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ACT L

Clara. "IT IS HE AGAIN."-Act ii, scene 1.

Persons Represented.

SOENE I-An old Hall in Milford Castle.

Enter RECORD and LUCY.

SPRUCE
FLINT
BOY

Lucy. I tell you once more, Mr. Record, I won't stay any longer in this place, to be frightened to death every hour of my life, night and day.

Rec Poh! poh! why you are a silly girl:childish apprehensions! You have been reading some foolish stuff or other to put such notions into your head; what is there in this venerable building to frighten such a sweet innocent little girl as you, most timid?

Lucy. What is there? Why, a'n't I obliged to cross those long cloisters I don't know how many times a day, where my own steps clatter like twenty people besides myself; and when 'tis dark, to go to bed in that frightful room of tapestry, where those horrid creatures with nodding plumes are galloping

CLARA
LUCY

JANNETTE
NELL

upon their large horses, and the wind whistles all night as loud as thunder along the gallery; and to be all alone too! Or if I do see any body, is it not you, Mr. Record?

Rec. Well; and is there anything so frightful in me, most insulting! Whom would you see?

Lucy. Why something human, something like myself, that I could talk to. O! when shall we have a master and mistress come to this place?

Rec. You must put up with me as master; and as to a mistress, if I can do very well without one, surely you may. Our old gentleman's relations are on their road from Spa, and we shall soon be all alive again.

Lucy. What, will not Sir Edmund come back again?

Rec. Never! but thank heaven, my accounts are all clear enough: his old complaint; but his relations have one consolation left, however.

Lusy. What is that, pray, Mr. Record?

Rec. The physicians all agree, that notwithstanding the obstinacy of his complaint in his life-time, he certainly died cur'd.

Lucy. Why then, would it not have been better that he had never been cured, and perhaps the poor soul might have lived?

Rec. We are not such good judges as they, most presumptuous! But mind me, I'm now going down to Michael's at the ferry, and don't you let a soul in under any pretence whatever.

Lucy. I won't if I can help it; but indeed 'tis very dismal to be left here so many hours by one's self, while you are at the ferry. I can't think what you are so fond of them for?

Rec. Why, I love Michael, because he would do no wrong to man, woman, or child; and besides, he has seen better days.

and open the wicket, a ket, and

Lucy. And what do you love Michael's wife for? Rec. Because she loves Michael, and makes all his friends welcome; and that's a note of admiration in the wife of any man. (A loud knocking with out.) There! There! There's a pretty racket at this early hour! Go round by the south gallery, then you'll see who it is. Lucy. What, by myself? No; if I must go, I'll go the direct road to the gate, and let them in; for I dare say they have business here, by the loud knocking. [Knocking again. Exit Lucy. Rec. Those who have the least business generally make the greatest disturbance every where. Now to my accounts: I begin very much to suspect that Sir Edmund's title here was a little doubtful, and an old parchment I was turning over mentions something of the succession of the old Baron's male issue, if living: I shall keep possession of these till opportunity serves.

Enter LUCY, with SPRUCE. Lucy. Nobody here, but our Mr. Record, sir: he'll answer any questions

Rec. Nobody here! why the girl's a fool; she means nobody that can give a proper answer but me; she forgot the keepers of the armoury above, and the porters and mastiffs below. (Aside to Lucy.) What, do you mean to have our throats cut?

Lucy. I'm sure he don't look as if he would do anybody harm.

Rec. Your business here, if you please, most impatient! By the knocking at the gate, I should have thought my master had arrived.

Spruce. Not much out, old one, for he'll soon be here.

Rec. Who? my master? I thought they had buried him at Parma.

Spruce. He that was your master lies there: but our present master is just here; I have left him at the ferry, and am come to put every thing in order for him. We shall give the walls a warming, I protake all the mildew out of the tapestry, mise you; and put a little flesh upon your bones.

Rec. O, you will, most audacious! Why, then as you are a stranger, I had better shew you the house first. Will you be pleased to walk in and try our old fare, that you may be the better able to make comparison with the new?

SONG.-LUCY.

Silly maid!

Be not afraid,

For joy will soon await you;V A Hope repeats

What bosom beats,

No vision now shall cheat you;
Time has wings, and soon will flee,
Single I will never be.

Why should Time,
When in my prime,

With slow pace, detain me?
Why be coy

When bridal joy

Strives to entertain me?

Time has wings, and soon will flee,
Single 1 will never be.

Enter RECORD, with a large key. Lucy. What have you done with the gentleman? Rec. Lock'd him in the refectory, most inquisitive! that nobody may disturb him: to give him an opportunity of arranging his plans of improvement here, whilst I go down to Michael to see whether he's an impostor or no. Confine yourself in the chapel till I return, and don't you open the door, if they knock the very walls down. Lucy. Shan't I take him a tankard of October first?

Rec. No! Put a little flesh upon my bones, will he, an impudent varlet? My bones have never yet been ashamed of what covers them, and I must take care that the future covering don't blush for [Exit.

the bones.

Lucy. 'Ifegs! but I'll have another peep at him. He may like to go to chapel with me, and if he does, I can get him out. What then? the chapel is a very good place; but there will be no parson there. That's no fault of mine; well, we can read the ceremony without him.

[Exit.

SCENE IL-Michael's Hut at the Ferry.—Mountains

in the back view.

Enter SIR BERTRAND and LE SAGE.
SONG.-LE SAGE.

Down the rugged mountain's steep,
Hark! the plunging waters leap,
Rushing with resistless force
To the Derwent's gentler course.
Soon its fury will subside,

Then we'll trust the safer tide.
Danger now awaits the wave,
Which the rash alone would brave:
Hark! the plunging waters leap
Down the rugged mountain's steep.
Soon its fury will subside,
Then we'll trust the safer side.

Enter MICHAEL to them. Mich. The carriage and horses must wait the next tide; the torrent from that mountain is so We can rapid, I dare not answer for their safety. make you up tolerable accommodation here. Sir Ber. We are not very particular: the country seems most beautiful, and the delay of a day or two will make no difference.

[Exeunt Record and Spruce. Mich. If you are fond of fishing, we have some Lucy. When things come to the worst, they say, rare sport a mile or two up the stream. You do us we must mend. I think that has been my case a great honour to put up with our little place. Here, long time, and the blessed proverb seems now Nell! The best brown bread of our own making, about to be fulfilled. He's a very smart fellow in- and honey from our own hives. Homely fare, but deed, and I dare say won't forget me in the pro-sweet-Stoop your head, your honour, our huts mired alteration of affairs. [Exeunt.

are but low.

SUENE III.-The Garden of an old Convent.

Enter CLARA and JANNETTE.

Cla. The long absence of Sir Edmund, Jannette, fills my mind with strange apprehensions for his safety.

Jan. The charms of foreign travel, madam, are great.

Cla. Under his protection, Jannette, you know, I have lived here, secluded from the hated passion of Sir Bertrand. Nothing do I dread equal to his death; and then, his precarious state of health when he went to Parma

Jan. Madam, do not give way to such melancholy. You strangely discourage my labours to amuse and please yon. I have just finished the grotto! the further end of it opens secretly to the Cla. Indeed I am to blame. How beautiful it is! what a heavenly retirement from the vicious pur

forest.

Buits of man!

Jan. From a seat within it, you command the surrounding country, and in the distance, a view of Milford Castle.

Cla. O name it not for though living here by favour of Sir Edmund, I can never forget it once belonged to my ancestors; and have great reason to believe it would have returned again to our possession, after a time, had not the cruel ocean deprived me both of a father and infant brother at a stroke.

SONG.-CLARA.

In Seclusion's sacred bower,
Meek Regret, with soften'd sigh,
Will enjoy her pensive hour,
Fearing no intruder nigh.
So, sweet bird! thy lonely sorrow
In the ivy'd turrets height,
Pines in secret, till the morrow

To the shades directs thy flight.
Smiling Hope! my soul illume,
Transports thou alone can'st give.

Dissipate a dungeon's gloom,
Bid the child of sadness live.

SCENE IV.-Michael's House.

Enter MICHAEL and NELL,

[Exeunt.

Mich. Well; they are out now, are they? Nell. Yes: but I can't think what they notice the boy so much for; I wish they were gone,

Mich. Notice him, do they? Where is he now? Nell. At his employment, his pencils and his compasses, and I don't know what, pothering his poor little brains.

Mich. I'm not very easy about that boy; he advances in life apace, and we are very laborious; we have but little leisure-to be sure you teach him to readNell. Read! ay, that I do: and he spells to a [miracle. Mich. Well, I know he does: but if I could any how give him a little more learning, I'm sure he'd make an excellent scholar.

Nell. A scholar quoth 'a? fine doing to make poor people scholars! and when he has got it, I wonder who's to mind the Ferry.

think

Mich. Does a man make the worse seaman, ye, Nell, because he understands his compass? But come, come, sit down, and I'll tell you a secret, and you shall adrise

Nell. Now, Michael, you love me indeed: and will you trust me with a secret?

Mich. I will: you have always thought him a boy of mine; but I am not his father.

Nell. No!

123

Mich. No: but you shall hear. About eight years since, I had been out all night fishing; and, about a league from hence, was hauling close in shore, with a stiff gale, when I heard to windward a signal gun fire of a ship in distress. I could see nothing; but presently heard another, and then, the piercing shrieks of some poor souls in their last extremity. duty, Nell, you know, and danger was no object, That was enough for me: so I luffed and stood out when I could save the life of a fellow-creature. to sea again. The gale increased, and it was my

Nell. I never would have had you, if you could have deserted them.

Mich. Well, the moon every now and then peeped from underneath a pitch black cloud. I crowded sail, and soon made the wreck, just time enough to take out a gentleman and this little boy, with a trunk, and she went to pieces. I was endeavourquite exhausted, told me he was dying, and begged ing to make port again, when the poor gentleman, thing to say. Cheerly, says I, cheerly; a glass of I would run in upon the beach, as he had someand I run into the first creek I could see. His disgrog will soon right you again: so he tasted it, but it would not do: his spirits were ebbing apace, tress had made him my commander, you know, and I was not to disobey orders.

Nell. What could you do with him, poor creature?

Mich. I struck a light, and seated him in a small cavity of the cliff upon the best jacket I had got; made a small fire to leeward, of as many sticks as I could scramble together, a 'd sat down beside him, with the little boy upon my knee. "You seem an honest fellow," says he, "and I will trust you:" "My commander often has," you may: but take another sup of grog:" he tried says I, "and I think again, but could not; then shivering all over, he said, "I must be brief." I wrapped some old sailcloth round him, put some more sticks upon the fire, and wiped the tears from the little boy's cheek, which seemed to grow to my bosom. "Take care of my boy," says he, "and don't desert him." "I'll be d if I do," says I; though to speak nearly choaked me. "Do not lose the trunk, perhaps it may one day reward you."-"I am rewarded already, says I;" for at that moment I felt something at my heart, that was quite enough!

Nell. But where is the trunk, Michael?

Mich. "Promise me one thing," added he; "his when you shall hear of the death of Sir Edmund life is sought secretly: keep him as your own, and of Milford Castle, then open the trunk. The poor he dropped. The day-break gave me light enough soul reached out his hand, which the boy kissed as to sink a grave for him in the sand. He went peacefully home; the salt tear of a sailor seemed to satisfy him of his boy's safety; and the trust universe had been by; for the seal is here. (Laying was more binding than if all the lawyers in the his hand upon his heart.-They retire.)

Enter Boy.
SONG.

At evening, when my work is done,
And the breeze at setting sun
Scarcely breathes upon the tide,
Then alone I love to glide-
Unheard, unseen, my silent oar
Steals along the shaded shore:
All is dark, and all is mute.
Save the moon, and lover's Jute;
Tany, ting, tang, it seems to say,
Lovers dread return of day.

Toward the abbey wall I steer,
There the choral hymn I hear:
While the organ's lengthened note
Seems in distant woods to float:
Returning then, my silent oar
Steals along the shaded shore:
All is dark, and all is mute,
Save the moon, and lover's lute:
Tang, ting, tang, it seems to say,
Lovers dread return of day.

(After the song, they meet him.) Boy. Here, father, these good gentlemen have given me-O! see here! it will buy for me plenty of pencils and colours for drawing, when you can spare me: 'tis a great deal of money though, and I won't keep it if you don't like it.

Mich. They are returned then.

See, Nell, they want nothing. [Exit Nell.] What, give you gold! impossible! Come, come, tell me fairly where you got this, and I won't be angry. Tell me the truth. [I scorn it. Boy. When did I ever tell you a lie? You know Mich. That's true, that's true; I am too hasty. Gold! for what? My heart misgives me. What did they say to you?

Boy. O! they asked me if I should like to go with them, and said that they would give me a horse to ride upon; but I told them no, I would not, I was very happy: and so I am too; for you know I could not leave mother and you.

Mich. No, no, to be sure you could not. This is very strange! (Aside.)

Boy. They asked me who gave me this rosary, and they took a great deal of notice of it; they are very kind gentlemen, indeed; but you would not part with me, would you?

Mich. Part with you! no; never till death slips the cable. (Aside.) That rosary was his father's; given to him on the sand just before he died; it has, I fear, betrayed him. Stay by me, and don't run about so much by yourself. (Aside.) O! they're coming, I must not seem surprised. (Speaking loud to the boy.) We must down to the boat, boy, more passengers are waiting to cross, and the tide is making in apace. Take the flask aboard. (Boy brings the flask.) Stay! there is but little in it. Well, well, if we can't bring our means up to our wishes, we can keep our wishes down to our means, and that comes to the same point-content. Enter SIR BERTRAND and LE SAGE, in conver

sation, on the opposite side.

Sir Ber. There cannot be a doubt of it: here are the very features, line for line. (Looking at a miniature.) We must get possession of him by courtesy, if possible, and that will hoodwink suspicion. The disposal of him we'll settle after.

Mich. (Aside.) They are very intent upon the boy. Le Sage. Had you not better speak to the man? Sir Ber. That seems to be a clever lad of yours, ferryman.

Mich. Yes, sir, I believe the boy's well enough. Sir Ber. He passes for your son, I believe? Mich. Why, whose should he pass for? Sir Ber. Come, come, be explicit. Do you mean to tell me that you are his father?

Mich. Why, as to that, few fathers, I believe, could take upon them to say: 'tis useless to fathom beyond the depth of the line: 'tis sufficient for me that he is cast under this roof to lay claim to my protection.

Sir Ber. Will you part with him? He can have no great instruction here; I'll see his genius attended to; what can he learn of you?

Mich. Nature's independence-honesty! Labour to procure his meal of content, and gratitude to Him that sends it! He may see, perhaps, an example to resent injury or insult. What would you teach him more?

Le Sage. A purse, Sir Bertraud, may alter this tone.

Sir Ber. Come, come, I have a fancy to see him educated; there's earnest of what more I intend for you. (Offering a purse.)

Mich. I'll starve first! (Throwing it away.)

Le Sage. Do you know whom you are insulting by this behaviour?

Mich. What, because I won't sell my boy? I don't know who his honour may be; but if he is in great power, he ought to know that it was given

him to protect, and not to oppress those below him.

Enter NELL and RECORD.

Nell. These are the gentlemen, Mr. Record. Mich. (Aside.) Record here, and knows them! then I'm ruin'd.

ful servant bow before you; you are coming to Rec. Most high and mighty! you see your faithMilford Castle, I suppose; you bring credentials with you. I am the old steward of the place, and must render proper accounts: I keep all under lock and key, most accurate! and am very particular whom I let in during my master's absence. Sir Ber. Did not my servant arrive before you left the castle?

Rec. He did.

Sir Ber. Where is he now?

Rec. Under lock and key, most noble!

Sir Ber. What, have you made a prisoner of him.

authority to let him loose. His companions are Rec. He is very safe, till I return with proper two thirds of a peck loaf, the carcase of a cold turkey, and a Chedder cheese: so there's no danger of his breaking out.

Sir Ber. An odd fellow this! but come, sir, why did you lock him in ?

Rec. For the same reason that I have locked you as I must render account to those who come after; out, right worshipful! to guard against impostors, therefere, sir, I hope to see your credentials, the certificate of my master's death and burial, and your right of succession.

Mich. (Aside to Nell.) Sir Edmund dead!
Nell. The trunk, Michael.

Sir Ber. Le Sage, give him the papers; his formalities must he indulged. (Le Sage gives him papers.) In that parcel you will see every thing you want. I shall not visit the castle till evening. (To Michael in parting.) Think of what I've said to you, and give me an answer.

[Exeunt Sir Bertrand and Le Sage. Mich. I hope I shall have an answer for you. Rec. What a sudden alteration of affairs! Come, Michael, give me a draught of your ale; I'll sit down and chat with you a little.

Mich. I thank you, I thank you.-And so, Sir Edmund is certainly dead, is he? Poor man!-I am very heartily glad to see you.-How the devil shall I get him out of the house? (Aside.) Nell, go and draw a mug of ale, child; take the boy with you.

Nell. Well, I'm going. (Aside to Michael.) But, Michael, can't you give me the key of the trunk, you know? [Exit Nell.

Mich. Silence! And so these people are come to live here, are they? Upon my soul, I'm heartily glad to see you: but won't you be wanted at home? You are sure you won't now, because, make no

ceremony with me-Quite sure! Good God! what
a taking I'm in! (Aside.)

Rec. O! no! not in the least, not in the least:-
Yes! he's dead and-but where's the ale?
Enter NELL, with ale.

Nell. Here it is.

Rec. There's a fine head to it. Our last brewing did not turn out quite so well; what's your proportion? I shall mend our receipt. Ay! it should be deeper coloured than this. (Drinks.) Delicious, in good truth! Did I never tell you of Sir Edmund's pedigree?

Mich. My impatience almost chokes me! (Aside.) Here's to you! here's to you! (Drinks.)

Rec. Why, you are in a d- hurry. What's the matter with you? I came to gossip half an hour

or so.

Nell. He has a number of things to do; Mr. Record, good morning! good morning! (Drinks.) Rec. Good morning! What the devil are you drinking me out of the house?

Mich. I've a great mind to tell him, but-(Aside.) Well, good bye, we shall meet in the evening, as I see you're in such a hurry now; I'm sure you must be wanted.

Rec. Well, I'm going! I'm going! Lackaday! this is the strangest kind of hospitality, to turn your old friend out of doors. Some family secret, I sup

pose

Mich. Well, now, do go; make haste, will you? Nell. There's a good man; good bye! Mich. You don't know how much I'm obliged to you. [Exit Record.

Nell. Well, now for it.

Mich. Now for what, Nell?

ACT IL

SCENE L-The Inside of Michael's house continued
Enter MICHAEL, with a trunk, sealed up.
Mich. I have closed the hatchways, and the
decks are all clear. I feel just now for all the
world like a commander going into an engagement,
determined to do his duty, eager for victory, yet
not without remembering that a battle may be lost
(Breaks the seal.) This is the key
as well as won.
what's here? (Opens the trunk, and takes out a
"The child with whom this
paper then reads.)
trunk is found has lawful claim to the whole estate

of Milford Castle, at the death of Sir Edmund.
The writings within will explain the rest, and guide
to the only copy of the Baron's will, now in the
Whoever finds this, and
chapel of the Castle.
faithfully executes the trust, will meet with his
reward, if needy, in the silken purse within, besides
an annuity of fifty pounds when he shall be in pos-
it will turn her brain. She will be like a sudden
session of his estate." Nell must not know this yet
squall, a hurricane, that whisks at once round every
point of the compass.
purse though; a little ready cash will be useful.
Let's see; how shall I break it to him? I must
make a friend of Record, to examine the papers.
Lucky, little dog! De, I've done my duty by
been a pretty business if I had let him go.
him, that's one comfort though. It would have

I should like to see the

Enter NELL in haste.

Nell. We're ruin'd, Michael! we are ruin'd!
Mich. (Hiding the trunk.) Don't be in such a hurry.
No! we a'n't ruin'd-not ruin'd, Nell.

Nell. I tell you, they have stolen the poor boy away, and are dragging him I can't tell where: I saw him struggling till his last strength was gone: they have taken him quite out of sight.

Mich. Which way? Who have got him?' Nell. Over the-O, two such ill-looking fellows.' Mich. De but I'll be up with them: give me down my pistols. Don't look into that trunk; I'll tell you all; shut the papers in close. Poor little soul!-take care of the trunk!-I shall never make press of sail enough after him. Don't look into the trunk, Nell. O, the villains!

Well. The trunk to be sure. Sha'n't we open it? Mich. We open it? I've divulg'd the secret to you, Nell, and of course we are embarked; but, do you know the danger of two commanders in one bottom? If we mean to come safe to shore, we must have only one pilot; and as I'm best acquainted with the coast, you must trust the helm to me: so as there may be some difficulty in the steerage, I'll go first and reconnoitre, and thenNell. What, then, you shut me out from the secrets of your heart! Have I deserved this, Mi-terruption, I'll go with it up stairs, and there have Nell. Yes, I'll take care of it; but, for fear of inan opportunity of satisfying my curiosity, Ah! I knew dreaming of those huge precipices boded no good. SONG.-NELL.

chael?

Mich. Be satisfied: I'll keep nothing from you; but when I open that trunk, I shall think I'm in company with my shipwreck'd friend, and that his spirit will witness for me. My curiosity is excited more for the happiness of his boy, than for any paltry recompense I may expect, for the discharge of the first duty of the human heart-kindness to the unfortunate.

DUET.-MICHAEL and NELL
Mich. As the compass, true believe me,
Is this honest heart of oak.

Nell. If thy Nelly ever grieve thee,
Never faithful woman spoke.

Mich. By those eyes, my planets steering-
Nell. Thou the pilot, safe we go;
Mich. Never from affection veering,
Nell. Briskly may the breezes blow.
Both. Now for life's uncertain weather,
Tight and trim, and fond and free
Safely in one bark together.
With fair wind we'll put to sect.

[Exit.

If woman is curious, sure nature's to blame,
The sex, high and low, in this point are the same;
And what at our birth we inherit from her,
Is her own blessed gift, and no crime, I aver.
So kept from our view
Any good thing or new,
What wonder we pout,

And would fain find it out?

Then how to please woman, I'll tell you the plan,
Is to say all you know, and as soon as you can.
These lords of creation, what a fuss and a pother,
Of wonders and dangers of this, that, and t'other.
What a trouble, heav'n bless us, they'd save to their

lives,

[blocks in formation]

[Exeunt.

[Exit with the trunk

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