페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

Stuk. Forgive me, madam, if, in my zeal to serve you, I hazard your displeasure. Think of your wretched state; already want surrounds you. Is it in patience to bear that? To see your helpless little one robbed of his birth-right? A sister, too, with unavailing tears, lamenting her lost fortune? No comfort left you, but ineffectual pity from the few, outweighed by insults from the many.

Mrs. B. Am I so lost a creature? Well, sir, my redress?

Stuk. To be resolved is to secure it. The marriage vow, once violated, is in the sight of heaven dissolved. Start not, but hear me. 'Tis now the summer of your youth: time has not cropt the roses from your cheek, though sorrow long has washed them: then use your beauty wisely; and, freed by injuries, fly from the cruellest of men for shelter with the kindest.

Mrs. B. And who is he?

Stuk. A friend to the unfortunate; a bold one, too; who, while the storm is bursting on your brow, and lightning flashing from your eyes, dares tell you that he loves you!

Mrs. B. Would that these eyes had Heaven's own lightning, that, with a look, thus I might blast thee! Oh, villain! villain! but now I know thee, and thank thee for the knowledge.

Stuk. If you are wise, you shall have cause to thank me.

Mrs. B. An injured husband, too, shall thank thee.

Stuk. Yet know, proud woman, I have a heart as stubborn as your own; as haughty and imperious; and, as it loves, so it can hate.

Mrs. B. Mean, despicable villain! I scorn thee and thy threats. Was it for this that Beverley was false, that his too credulous wife should, in despair and vengeance, give up her honour to a wretch? But he shall know it, and vengeance shall be his! Stuk. Why, send him for defiance, then. Tell him I love his wife; but, that a worthless husband forbids the union. I'll make a widow of you, and court you honourably.

Mrs. B. O, coward! coward thy soul will shrink at him! Yet, in the thought of what may happen, I feel a woman's fears. Keep thy own secret, and begone. (Rings a bell.) Enter LUCY.

Your absence, sir, would please me.
Stuk. I'll not offend you, madam.

[Exeunt Stukely and Lucy. Mrs. B. Why opens not the earth to swallow such a monster? Be conscience, then, his punisher, till Heaven in mercy give him penitence, or doom him in its justice. [Exit.

ACT IV.

SCENE L-Stukely's Lodgings. Enter STUKELY and BATES. Bates. Your men have done their business, and Beverley is beggared of his last resource. Where have you been?

Stuk. Fooling my time away: playing my tricks, like a tame monkey, to entertain a woman: no matter where. But tell me more of Beverley. How bore he the loss of his last stake?

Bates. Like one, so Dawson says, whose senses

had been numbed with misery. When all was lost, he fixed his eyes upon the ground, and stood some time, with folded arms, stupid and motionless. Then, snatching his sword that hung against the wainscot, he sat him down again by the gaming-table; and, with a look of fixed attention, drew figures on the floor: at last he started up, looked wild, and trembled; then, like a woman seized with her sex's fits, laughed out aloud, while the tears trickled down his face: so left the room. Stuk. Why, this was madness! Bates. The madness of despair.

Stuk. We must confine him, then. A prison would do well. (A knocking at the door.) Hark! that knocking may be his. Go that way down. [Exit Bates.] Who's there?

[blocks in formation]

Lew. (Shuts the door.) He dies, that interrupts us. You should have weighed your strength, sir; and then, instead of climbing to high fortune, the world had marked you for what you are, a little paltry villain.

Stuk. You think, I fear you'

Lew. I know you fear me. This is to prově it. (Pulls him by the sleeve.) You wanted privacy; a lady's presence took up your attention. Now we are alone, sir. Why, what a wretch! (Flings him from him.) The vilest insect in creation will turn, when trampled on. Yet has this thing_undone a man; by cunning and mean arts, undone him. But we have found you, sir; traced you through all your labyrinths. If you would save yourself, fall to confession: no mercy will be shown else.

Stuk First, prove me what you think me: Till then, your threatenings are in vain. And for this insult, vengeance may yet be mine.

Lew. Infamous coward! why take it now, then. (Draws and Stukely retires.) Alas! I pity thee. Yet that a wretch like this should overcome a Beverley! it fills me with astonishment! A wretch, so mean of soul, that even desperation cannot animate him to look upon an enemy. You should not thus have towered, sir; unless, like others of your black profession, you had a sword to keep the fools in awe, your villany has ruined.

Stuk. Villany! 'Twere best to curb this licence of your tongue; for know, sir, while there are laws, this outrage on my reputation will not be borne with.

Lew. Laws darest thou seek shelter from the laws; those laws, which thou and thy infernal crew live in the constant violation of? Talkest thou of reputation too-when, under friendship's sacred name, thou hast betrayed, robbed, and destroyed?

Stuk. Ay, rail at gaming; 'tis a rich topic, and

have watched them closely, too. But it is a right | usurped by losers, to think the winners knaves.We'll have more manhood in us.

Bev. I know not what to think. This night has stung me to the quick :-blasted my reputation too: I have bound my honour to these vipers; played meanly upon credit, until I tired them; and now they shun me, to rifle one another. What is to be done?

Stuk. Nothing: my counsels have been fatal.

Bev. By heaven, I'll not survive this shame.Traitor! it is you have brought it on me ;-(Seizing him.)-Shew me the means to save me; or I'll commit a murder here, and next upon myself.

Stuk. Why do it, then, and rid me of ingratitude. Bev. 'Pr'ythee forgive this language:-I speak I know not what.-Rage and despair are in my heart, and hurry me to madness. My home is horror to me-I'll not return to it. Speak quickly; tell me if in this wreck of fortune one hope remains? Name it, and be my oracle.

Stuk. To vent your curses on: you have bestowed them liberally.-Take your own counsel: and, should a desperate hope present itself, it will suit your desperate fortune. I'll not advise you.

Bev. What hope? By heaven, I'll catch at it however desperate. I am so sunk in misery, it cannot lay me lower.

Stuk. You have an uncle.

Bev. Ay, what of him?

Mrs. B. She looked confused, methought; said, she had business with her Lewson; which, when i pressed to know, tears only were her answer. Lucy. She seemed in haste too;-yet her return may bring you comfort.

Mrs. B. No, my good girl; I was not born for it.-But why do I distress thee? Thy kind heart bleeds for the ills of others.-What pity that thy mistress can't reward thee! But there's a power above, that sees, and will remember all.-(Knock ing at the door.)-Hark! there's some one entering Lucy. Perhaps, my master, madam. [Exit Mrs. B. Let him be well too, and I am satisfied -(Goes to the door, and listens.)-No; 'tis another's voice.

I

Enter LUCY and STUKELY. Lucy. Mr. Stukely, madam.

[Exit.

Stuk. To meet you thus alone, madam, was what wished. Unseasonable visits, when friendship warrants them needs no excuse:-therefore I make none. [your friend?

Mrs. B. What mean you, sir? And where's Stuk. Men may have secrets, madam, which their best friends are not admitted to. We parted in the morning, not soon to meet again.

Mrs. B. You mean to leave us, then ?-to leave your country too? I am no stranger to your reasons, and pity your misfortunes.

Stuk. Your pity has undone you. Could Beverley do this? That letter was a forged one; a

Stuk. Old men live long by temperance; while mean contrivance to rob you of your jewels:-I their heirs starve on expectation.

Bev. What mean you?

Stuk. That the reversion of his estate is yours; and will bring money to pay debts with:-nay more, it may retrieve what is past.

Bev. Or leave my child a beggar.

Stuk. And what is his father? A dishonourable one; engaged for sums he cannot pay. That should be thought of.

Bev. It is my shame, the poison that inflames Where shall we go? To whom? I am impatient, till all's lost.

me.

Stuk. All may be yours again. Your man is Bates: he has large funds at his command, and will deal justly by you.

Bev. I am resolved. Tell them within, we'll meet them presently; and with full purses too.Come, follow me.

Stuk. No, I'll have no hand in this; nor do I counsel it.-Use your discretion, and act from that. -You'll find me at my lodgings. [worst: Bev. Succeed what will, this night I'll dare the 'Tis loss of fear, to be completely curs'd. [Exit. Stuk, Why, lose it, then, for ever. Fear is the mind's worst evil; and 'tis a friendly office to drive it from the bosom.-Thus far has fortune crowned me. Yet Beverley is rich; rich in his wife's best treasure, her honour and affections: I would supplant him there too.-A tale of art may do much.Charlotte is sometimes absent. The seeds of jealousy are sown already. If I mistake not, they have taken root too. Now is the time to ripen them, and reap the harvest. The softest of her sex, if wronged in love, or thinking that she's wronged, becomes a tigress in revenge,-I'll instantly to Beverley's.-No matter for the danger.-When beauty leads us on, 'tis indiscretion to reflect, and cowardice to doubt. [Exit.

SCENE IV.-Beverley's Lodgings. Enter MRS. BEVERLEY and LUCY. Mrs. B. Did Charlotte tell you anything? Lucy. No, madam.

wrote it not.

Mrs. B. Impossible!-Whence came it, then? Stuk. Wronged as I am, madam, I must speak plainly,

Mrs. B. Do so, and ease me. Your hints have troubled me. Reports, you say, are stirring-Reports of whom? You wished me not to credit them. What, sir, are these reports?

Stuk. I thought 'em slander, madam; and cautioned you in friendship; lest from officious tongues the tale has reached you with double aggravation. Mrs. B. Proceed, sir.

Stuk. It is a debt due to my fame, due to an injured wife too: We both are injured.

Mrs. B. How injured! and who has injured us? Stuk. My friend, your husband.

Mrs. B. You would resent for both, then? But know, sir, my injuries are my own, and do not need a champion.

Stuk. Be not too hasty, madam. I come not in resentment, madam, but for acquittance. You thought me poor; and to the feigned distresses of a friend, gave up your jewels.

Mrs. B. I gave them to a husband.
Stuk. Who gave them to a

Mrs. B. What? Whom did he give them to?
Stuk. A mistress.

Mrs. B. No; on my life, he did not. [avarice. Stuk. Himself confessed it, with curses on her Mrs. B. I'll not believe it. He has no mistress; or, if he has, why is it told to me?

Stuk. To guard you against insults. He told me that, to move you to compliance, he forged that letter, pretending I was ruined, ruined by him too. The fraud succeeded; and what a trusting wife bestowed in pity, was lavished on a wanton.

Mrs. B. Then I am lost indeed, and my afflictions are too powerful for me. His follies I have borne without upbraiding, and saw the approach of poverty without a tear. My affection, my strong affection, supported me through every trial.

Stuk. Be patient, madam.

Mrs. B. Patient! The barbarous, ungrateful man!

[blocks in formation]

Stuk. Forgive me, madam, if, in my zeal to serve you, I hazard your displeasure. Think of your wretched state: already want surrounds you. Is it in patience to bear that? To see your helpless little one robbed of his birth-right? A sister, too, with unavailing tears, lamenting her lost fortune? No comfort left you, but ineffectual pity from the few, outweighed by insults from the many.

Mrs. B. Am I so lost a creature? Well, sir, my redress?

Stuk. To be resolved is to secure it. The marriage vow, once violated, is in the sight of heaven dissolved. Start not, but hear me. "Tis now the summer of your youth: time has not cropt the roses from your cheek, though sorrow long has washed them: then use your beauty wisely; and, freed by injuries, fly from the cruellest of men for shelter with the kindest.

Mrs. B. And who is he?

Stuk. A friend to the unfortunate; a bold one, too; who, while the storm is bursting on your brow, and lightning flashing from your eyes, dares tell you that he loves you!

Mrs. B. Would that these eyes had Heaven's own lightning, that, with a look, thus I might blast thee! Oh, villain! villain! but now I know thee, and thank thee for the knowledge.

Stuk. If you are wise, you shall have cause to thank me.

Mrs. B. An injured husband, too, shall thank thee.

Stuk. Yet know, proud woman, I have a heart as stubborn as your own; as haughty and imperious; and, as it loves, so it can hate.

Mrs. B. Mean, despicable villain! I scorn thee and thy threats. Was it for this that Beverley was false, that his too credulous wife should, in despair and vengeance, give up her honour to a wretch? But he shall know it, and vengeance shall be his! Stuk. Why, send him for deflance, then. Tell him I love his wife; but, that a worthless husband forbids the union. I'll make a widow of you, and court you honourably.

Mrs. B. O, coward! coward! thy soul will shrink at him! Yet, in the thought of what may happen, I feel a woman's fears. Keep thy own secret, and begone. (Rings a bell.) Enter LUCY. Your absence, sir, would please me. Stuk. I'll not offend you, madam.

[Exeunt Stukely and Lucy. Mrs. B. Why opens not the earth to swallow such a monster? Be conscience, then, his punisher, till Heaven in mercy give him penitence, or doom him in its justice. [Exit.

ACT IV.

SCENE L-Stukely's Lodgings. Enter STUKELY and BATES. Bates. Your men have done their business, and Beverley is beggared of his last resource. Where have you been?

Stuk. Fooling my time away: playing my tricks, like a tame monkey, to entertain a woman: no matter where. But tell me more of Beverley. How bore he the loss of his last stake?

Bates. Like one, so Dawson says, whose senses

had been numbed with misery. When all was lost, he fixed his eyes upon the ground, and stood some time, with folded arms, stupid and motionless. Then, snatching his sword that hung against the wainscot, he sat him down again by the gaming-table; and, with a look of fixed attention, drew figures on the floor: at last he started up, looked wild, and trembled; then, like a woman seized with her sex's fits, laughed out aloud, while the tears trickled down his face: so left the room. Stuk. Why, this was madness! Bates. The madness of despair.

Stuk. We must confine him, then. A prison would do well. (A knocking at the door.) Hark! that knocking may be his. Go that way down. [Exit Bates.] Who's there?

Enter LEWSON.

[blocks in formation]

Lew. (Shuts the door.) He dies, that interrupts us. You should have weighed your strength, sir; and then, instead of climbing to high fortune, the world had marked you for what you are, a little paltry villain.

Stuk. You think, I fear you?

Lew. I know you fear me. This is to prove it. (Pulls him by the sleeve.) You wanted privacy; a lady's presence took up your attention. Now we are alone, sir. Why, what a wretch! (Flings him from him.) The vilest insect in creation will turn, when trampled on. Yet has this thing undone a man; by cunning and mean arts, undone him. But we have found you, sir; traced you through all your labyrinths. If you would save yourself, fall to confession: no mercy will be shown else.

Stuk First, prove me what you think me: Till then, your threatenings are in vain. And for this insult, vengeance may yet be mine.

Lew. Infamous coward! why take it now, then. (Draws and Stukely retires.) Alas! I pity thee. Yet that a wretch like this should overcome a Beverley! it fills me with astonishment! A wretch, so mean of soul, that even desperation cannot animate him to look upon an enemy. You should not thus have towered, sir; unless, like others of your black profession, you had a sword to keep the fools in awe, your villany has ruined.

Stuk. Villany! 'Twere best to curb this licence of your tongue; for know, sir, while there are laws, this outrage on my reputation will not be borne with.

Lew. Laws darest thou seek shelter from the laws; those laws, which thou and thy infernal crew live in the constant violation of? Talkest thou of reputation too-when, under friendship's sacred name, thou hast betrayed, robbed, ard destroyed?

Stuk. Ay, rail at gaming; 'tis a rich topic, and

affords noble declamation. Go, preach against it in the city; you'll find a congregation in every tavern: if they should laugh at you, fly to my lord, and sermonise it there; he'll thank you, and reform.

Lew. And will example sanctify a vice? No, wretch; the custom of my lord, or of the cit that apes him, cannot excuse a breach of law, or make the gamester's calling reputable.

Stuk. Rail on, I say. But, is this zeal for beggared Beverley? Is it for him that I am treated thus? No; he and his wife might both have groaned in prison, had but the sister's fortune escaped the wreck, to have rewarded the disinterested love of honest Mr. Lewson.

Lew. How I detest thee for the thought! But thou art lost to every human feeling. Yet let me tell thee; and may it wring thy heart! that, though my friend is ruined by thy snares, thou hast unknowingly been kind to me.

Stuk. Have I? It was, indeed, unknowingly. Lew. Thou hast assisted me in love; given me the merit that I wanted; since, but for thee, my Charlotte had not known it was her dear self sighed for, and not her fortune.

Stuk. Thank me, and take her, then.

|

force is given, they use it to destruction. Shall man do less? Lewson pursues us to our ruin; and shall we, with the means to crush him, fly from our hunter ?-or turn and tear him? "Tis folly even to hesitate.

Bates. He has obliged me, and I dare not. Stuk. Why, live to shame, then-to beggary and punishment. You would be privy to the deed, yet want the soul to act it. Nay, more; had my designs been levelled at his fortune, you had stept in the foremost. And what is life without its comforts? those you would rob him of; and, by a lingering death, add cruelty to murder. Henceforth, adieu to half-made villains-there is danger in them. What you have got is your's; keep it, and hide with it: I will deal my future bounty to those that merit it.

Bates. What is the reward?

Stuk. Equal division of our gains. I swear it, and will be just.

Bates. Think of the means, then.
Stuk. He is gone to Beverley's.
the street: it is a dark night, and
I-a dagger would be useful.

Lew. And, as a brother to poor Beverley, I will pursue the robber that has stript him, and snatch him from his gripe.

Stuk. Then know, imprudent man, he is within my gripe; and, should my friendship for him be slandered once again, the hand that has supplied him, shall fall and crush him.

Lew. Why, now there's a spirit in thee! This is indeed to be a villain! But I shall reach thee yet: fly where thou wilt, my vengeance shall pursue thee: and Beverley shall yet be saved, be saved from thee, thou monster; nor owe his rescue to his wife's dishonour. [Exit. Stuk. (Passing.) Then ruin has enclosed me! Curse on my coward heart! I would be bravely villanous; but it is my nature to shrink at danger, and he has found me. Yet fear brings caution, and that, security. More mischief must be done, to hide the past. Look to yourself, officious Lewson; there may be danger stirring. How now, Bates? Enter BATES.

Bates. What is the matter? It was Lewson, and not Beverley, that left you. I heard him loud. You seem alarmed too.

Stuk. Ay, and with reason: we are discovered. Bates. I feared as much, and therefore cautioned you; but you were peremptory.

Stuk. Thus fools talk ever; spending their idle breath on what is past, and trembling at the future. We must be active. Beverley, at worst, is but suspicious; but Lewson's genius, and his hate to me, will lay all open. Means must be found to stop him.

Bates. What means?

Stuk. Despatch him. Nay, start not: desperate occasions call for desperate deeds. We live but by his death.

Bates. You cannot mean it.
Stuk. I do, by heaven!
Bates. Good night' then.

Stuk. Stay, I must be heard-then answered. Perhaps, the motion was too sudden: and human weakness starts at murder, though strong necessity compels it. I have thought long of this, and my first feelings were like yours; a foolish conscience awed me, which soon I conquered. The man that would undo me, nature cries out, undo. Brutes know their foes by instinct; and, where superior

Wait for him in fit for mischief:

Bates. He sleeps no more.
Stuk. Consider the reward. When the deed is
done, I have further business with you. Send
Dawson to me.

Bates. Think it already none; and so farewell.

[Exit.

[blocks in formation]

Enter LEWSON.

Lew. Beverley! Well met. I have been busy in your affair.

Bev. So I have heard, sir; and now must thank you as I ought.

Lew. To-morrow I may deserve your thanks. Late as it is, I go to Bates. Discoveries are making that an arch villain trembles at.

Bev. Discoveries are made, sir, that you shall tremble at. Where is this boasted spirit, this high demeanour, that was to call me to account? You say I have wronged my sister; now say as much: but first, be ready for defence, as I am for resentment. (Draws.)

Lew. What mean you? I understand you not.

Bev. The coward's stale acquittance; who, when he spreads foul calumny abroad, and dreads just vengeance on him, cries out,-What mean you? I understand you not.

Lew. Coward and calumny? Whence are those words? But I forgive, and pity you.

Bev. Your pity had been kinder to my fame: but you have traduced it;-told a vile story to the public ear, that I had wronged my sister.

Lew. 'Tis false! Shew me the man that dares

accuse me.

Bev. I thought you brave, and of a soul superior to low malice; but I have found you, and will have vengeance. This is no place for argument.

Lew. Nor shall it be for violence. Imprudent

[blocks in formation]

Bev. I must have proof of this.
Lew. Wait till to-morrow, then.
Bev. I will.

Lew. Good night: I go to serve you. Forget what is past, as I do; and cheer your family with smiles. Oh, that to-morrow may confirm them, and make all happy! [Exit. Bev. (Pausing.) How vile, and how absurd is man! His boasted honour is but another name for pride; which easier bears the consciousness of guilt, than the world's just reproofs. But, 'tis the fashion of the times; and, in defence of falsehood and false honour, men die martyrs. I knew not that my nature was so bad. (Stands musing.) Enter JARVIS and BATES. Jar. This way the noise was; and yonder is my poor master.

Bates. I heard him at high words with Lew

son.

Jar. I heard him too. Misfortunes vex him. Bates. Go to him, and lead him home: I'll not be seen by him. [Exit.

Bev. What fellow's that? Art thou a murderer, friend? Come, lead the way: I have a hand as mischievous as thine; a heart as desperate, too.-Jarvis! to bed, old man; the cold will chill thee.

Jar. Why are you wandering at this late hour?Your sword drawn, too!- For heaven's sake, sheathe it, sir! The sight distracts me!

Bev. Whose voice was that?

Jar. "Twas mine sir. Let me entreat you to give the sword to me.

Bev. Ay, take it, quickly, take it. Perhaps I am not so cursed, but heaven may have sent thee at this moment to snatch me from perdition.

Jar. Then I am blessed.

Bev. Continue so, and leave me; my sorrows are contagious: no one is blessed that's near me.

Jar. I came to seek you, sir.

Bev. And, now thou hast found me,, leave me: my thoughts are wild, and will not be disturbed. Jar. Such thoughts are best disturbed.

Bev. I tell thee that they will not. Who sent thee hither?

Jar. My weeping mistress. Forget your griefs, and let me lead you to her: the streets are dangerous. Bev. Be wise, and leave me, then. The night's black horrors are suited to my thoughts. These stones shall be my resting-place: flies down.) here

shall my soul brood o'er its miseries; till, with the fiends of hell, and guilty of the earth, I start and tremble at the morning's light.

Jar. For pity's sake, sir! Upon my knees, I beg you to quit this place, and these sad thoughts! let patience, not despair, possess you! Rise, I beseech you! There's not a moment of your absence, that my poor mistress does not groan for.

Bev. Have I undone her, and is she still so kind? (starting up.) It is too much, my brain cannot hold! O, Jarvis! how desperate is that wretch's state, whom only death or madness can relieve!

Jar. Appease his mind, good heaven, and give him resignation! Alas, sir! if beings in the other world perceive the events of this, how will your parents blessed spirits grieve for you, even in heaven! Let me conjure you, by their honoured memories; by the sweet innocence of your yet helpless child, and by the ceaseless sorrows of my poor mistress, to rouse your manhood, and struggle with these griefs!

Bev. Thou virtuous, good old man! thy tears and thy entreaties have reached my heart, through all its miseries.

[blocks in formation]
« 이전계속 »