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Pier. Death! honourable death!

The council have propos'd: thou and thy friends Ren. Death's the best thing we ask, or you can May yet live long, and to be better treated. give;

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
For some new friend, treacherous and false as thou

art!

No shameful bonds, but honourable death.
Duke. Break up the council. Captain, guard
your prisoners.
Jaffier, you're free, but these must wait for judg-

ment.

[The Captain takes off Jaffier's chains. The

Duke and Council go away through the
arch. The Conspirators, all but Jaier and
Pierre, go off, guarded.

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 the Till, to thyself, at least thou'rt reconcil'd,
senate?
However thy resentment deal with me.
Presumptuous rebel! (Strikes Jaffier.) On!
Pier. Not leave me!

(To officer.)

Jaf. By heav'n, you stir not;
I must be heard; I must have leave to speak.
Thou hast disgrac'd me, Pierre, with 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:
Andlas there dwells a god-like nature in thee,
Listen with mildness to my supplications.

Pier. What whining monk art thou? what holy
cheat,
That would encroach upon my credulous ears.
And cant'st thus vilely? Hence! I know thee not!
Leave, hypocrite!

Jaf. Not know me, Pierre ?
Pire. No. I know thee not. What art thou?
Jaf. Jaffier, thy friend! thy once-lov'd, valu'd
friend;
Though now deservedly scorn'd, and us'd most
hardly.

Pier. Thou Jaffier! thou, my once-lov'd, valu'd friend!

By heaven, thou liest! the man so call'd, my friend,

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
coward,

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 these chains? Whence the vile death which I may meet this mo

ment?

Whence this dishonour, but from thee, thou false one?

Jaf. All's true, yet grant one thing, and I've done

asking Pier. What's that?

Jaf. To take thy life, on such conditions

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 leave
thee,

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-

Jaf. What?

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 would'st 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 aimed at,
In recompense for faith and trust so broken.
Pier. I scorn it more, because preserved 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
thee,

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

stol'n:

So I restore it back to thee again;
Swearing by all those powers which thou hast
violated,

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

Just as thou wilt, because 'tis what I'm tir'd with.
Jaf. Oh, Pierre!

Pier. No more.

Jaf. My eyes won't lose sight of thee,

But languish after thee, and ache with gazing.

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Jaf. Amen.

He's gone, my father, friend, preserver!
And here's the portion he has left me:
(Holds the dagger up.)
This dagger. Well remember'd! with this dagger,
I gave a solemn vow, of dire importance;
Parted with this and Belvidera together.
Have a care, mem'ry, drive that thought no
farther:

No, I'll esteem it as a friend's last legacy;
Treasure it up within this wretched bosom,
Where it may grow acquainted with my heart,
That when they meet they start not from each
other.

So, now for thinking. A blow!-call'd a traitor, villain,

Coward, dishonourable coward! faugh!
Oh! for a long, sound sleep, and so forget it!
Down, busy devil!

Enter BELVIDERA.

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, ev'n on my faults; but down,
Bending those miserable eyes on earth,
Must move in penance, and implore much mercy.
Jaf. Mercy! kind heav'n has surely endless
stores,

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 sued 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!
Damnation! Coward!

Bel. Oh! forgive him, Jaffier;

And, if his sufferings wound thy heart already,
What will they do to-morrow?

Jaf. Ah!

Bel. To-morrow,

Declare their promis'd mercy all as forfeited.
False to their oaths, and deaf to intercession,
Warrants are pass'd for public death to-morrow.
Jaf. Death! doom'd to die! condemn'd unheard!
unpleaded!

Bel. Nay, cruel'st racks and torments are preparing

To force confession from their dying pangs.
Oh, do not look so terribly upon me!

How your lips shake, and all your face disorder d!
What means my love?

Jaf. Leave me, I charge thee, leave me - Strong temptations.

Wake in my heart.

Bel. For what?

Jaf. No more, but leave me.
Bel. Why?

Jaf. Oh! by heav'n, I love thee with that fond

ness,

I would not have thee stay a moment longer Near these curs'd hands: Are they not cold upon thee?

(Pulls the dagger half out of his bosom, and puts it back again.)

Bel. No, everlasting comfort's in thy arms. To lean thus on thy breast, is softer ease Than downy pillows deck'd with leaves of roses. Jaf. Alas! thou think'st not of the thorns 'tis fill'd with:

Fly, ere they gall thee. There's a lurking serpent, Ready to leap and sting thee to the heart:

Art thou not terrified?

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Nay, shrink not, now 'tis too late; thou should'st have fled

When thy guilt first had cause; for dire revenge
Is up, and raging for my friend. He groans!
Hark, how he groans! his screams are in my
ears!

Already, see, they've fix'd him on the wheel,
And now they tear him-Murder! Perjur'd senate!
Murder-oh-Hark thee, traitress, thou hast done
this,

Thanks to thy tears and false persuading love.
How her eyes speak! Oh, thou bewitching crea-
ture!
Madness can't hurt thee.
bler,

(Feeling for his dagger.) Come, thou little trem

Creep even into my heart, and there lie safe:
'Tis thy own citadel.-Ha!-yet stand off.
Heav'n must have justice, and my broken vows
Will sink me else beneath its reaching mercy.
I'll wink, and then 'tis done-

Bel. What means the lord

When thou shalt see him stretch'd in all the Of me, my life, and love? What's in thy bosom,

agonies

Of a tormenting and a shameful death:

His bleeding bowels, and his broken limbs, Insulted o'er, by a vile butchering villain;

Thou grasp'st at so? Nay, why am I thus treated! (Jaffier draws the dagger, and offers to stab her.)

Jaf. Know, Belvidera, when we parted last,

What will thy heart do then? Oh! sure 'twill I gave this dagger with thee, as in trust,

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Kiss thy revengeful lips, and die in joys
Greater than any I can guess hereafter.

(Leaps on his neck, and kisses him.) Jaf. I am, I am a coward; witness heav'n, Witness it, earth, and every being witness: 'Tis but one blow! yet, by immortal love, I cannot longer bear a thought to harm thee.

(He throws away the dagger, and embraces her.) The seal of providence is sure upon thee: And thou wert born for yet unheard of wonders. Oh, thou wert either born to save or damn me! By all the power that's giv'n thee o'er my soul, By thy resistless tears and conquering smiles, By the victorious love that still waits on thee, Fly to thy cruel father, save my friend, Or all our future quiet's lost for ever. Fall at his feet, cling round his reverend knees, Speak to him with thy eyes, and with thy tears, Melt his hard heart, and wake dead nature in him, Crush him in th' arms, torture him with thy softness; Nor, till thy prayers are granted, set him free, But conquer him, as thou hast conquer'd me.

[Exeunt.

ACT V.

SCENE L-An Apartment in Priuli's house.
Enter PRIULI.

Pri. Why, cruel heav'n, have my unhappy days
Been lengthen'd to this sad one? Oh, dishonour
And deathless infamy is fallen upon me.
Was it my fault? Am I a traitor? No.
But then, my only child, my daughter wedded:-
There my best blood runs foul, and a disease
Incurable has seiz'd upon my memory.

Enter BELVIDERA, in a long mourning veil. Bel. He's there; my father, my inhuman father, That for three years has left an only child Expos'd to all the outrages of fate, And cruel ruin!-Oh

He gave me up an hostage for his truth:
With me a dagger and a dire commission,
When'er he fail'd, to plunge it through this bo-

som.

Pri. What child of sorrow

Art thou, that com'st wrapt up in weeds of sadness,

And mov'st as if thy steps were tow'rds a grave? Bel. A wretch, who from the very top of happi

ness

Am fall'n into the lowest depths of misery,
And want your pitying hand to raise me up again.
Pri. What would'st thou beg for?

Bel. Pity and forgiveness. (Throws up her veil.) By the kind, tender names of child and father, Hear my complaints, and take me to your love. Pri. My daughter!

Bel. Yes, your daughter:

And you've oft told me,

With smiles of love and chaste paternal kisses,
I'd much resemblance of my mother.
Pri. Don't talk thus.

Bel. Yes, I must, and you must hear me, too. I have a husband.

Pri. Damn him.

Bel. Oh! do not curse him;

He would not speak so hard a word towards you, On any terms, howe'er be deals with me.

Pri. Ha! what means my child?

Bel. Oh! my husband, my dear husband, Carries a dagger in his once kind bosom, To pierce the heart of your poor Belvidera. Pri. Kill thee!

Bel. Yes, kill me! When he pass'd his faith And covenant against your state and senate,

I learn't the danger, chose the hour of love
T'attempt his heart, and bring it back to honour.
Great love prevail'd, and bless'd me with success!
He came, confess'd, betray'd his dearest friends
For promis'd mercy. Now they're doom'd to suffer.
Gall'd with remembrance of what then was sworn,
If they are lost, he vows t'appease the gods
With this poor life, and make my blood the atone-

ment.

Pri. Heav'ns!

Bel. If I was ever then your care, now hear me; Fly to the senate, save the promis'd lives

Of his dear friends, ere mine be made the sacrifice.
Pri. Oh, my heart's comfort!

Weep not, but answer me.
Bel. Will you not, my father?

Pri. By heav'n I will.

Not one of them but what shall be immortal.
Canst thou forgive me all my follies past?
I'll henceforth be indeed a father; never,
Never more thus expose, but cherish thee,
Dear as the vital warmth that feeds my life,
Dear as those eyes that weep in fondness o'er thee.
Peace to thy heart. Farewell.
Bel. Go, and remember,

'Tis Belvidera's life her father pleads for. [Exeunt.

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Bel. Then sure you will not curse me?
Jaf. No, I'll bless thee..

I came on purpose, Belvidera, to bless thee.
"Tis now, I think three years, we've liv'd together.
Bel. And may no fatal minute ever part us,
Till, reverend grown for age and love, we go
Down to one grave, as our last bed, together:
There sleep in peace, till an eternal morning.
Jaf. Did I not say, I came to bless thee
Bel. You did.

Jaf. Then hear me, bounteous heav'n:
Pour down your blessings on this beauteous head,
Where everlasting sweets are always springing
With a continual giving hand:-let peace,
Honour, and safety, always hover round her!
Feed her with plenty; let her eyes ne'er see
A sight of sorrow, nor her heart know mourning:
Crown all her days with joy, her nights with rest,
Harmless as her own thoughts; and prop her

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To this curs'd minute, I'll not live one longer;
Resolve to let me go or see me fall.-

Hark the dismal bell
(Passing bell tolls.)
Tolls out for death! I must attend its call too;
For my poor friend, my dying Pierre, expects me:
He sent a message to require I'd see him
Before he died, and take his last forgiveness.
Farewell, for ever.

Bel. Leave thy dagger with me ;

Bequeath me something. Not one kiss at parting?
Oh, my poor heart, when wilt thou break?

Jaf. Yet stay:

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Jaf. And I a kind one,

That would not thus scorn my repenting virtue,
Or think, when he's to die, my thoughts are idle.
Pier. No! live, I charge thee, Jaffier.
Jaf. Yes, I will live:

But it shall be to see thy fall reveng'd
(Going out, looks back at him.) At such a rate as Venice shall long groan for.

We have a child, as yet a tender infant:
Be a kind mother to him when I am gone:
Breed him in virtue, and the paths of honour,
But never let him know his father's story.

I charge thee, guard him from the wrongs my fate
May do his future fortune, or his name:
Now nearer yet-

(Approaching each other.)

Oh, that my arms we rivetted

Thus round thee ever! But my friend! my oath!
This, and no more.

Bel. Another, sure another,

(Kisses her.)

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Pier. Wilt thou?

Jaf. I will, by heav'n!

Pier. Then still thou'rt noble,

And I forgive thee. Oh-yet-shall I trust thee?
Jaf. No; I've been false already.

Pier. Dost thou love me?

Jaf. Rip up my heart and satisfy thy doubtings.
Pier. Curse on this weakness.

(Weeps.)

Jaf. Tears! Amazement! Tears!
I never saw thee melted thus before;
And know there's something lab'ring in thy

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Jaf. No more of that: thy wishes shall be sa-
tisfied;
I have a wife, and she shall bleed: my child too,
Yield up his little throat, and all
T' appease thee.

Pier. No-this-no more.

Jaf. Ha! is't then so?

Pier. Most certainly.

Jaf. I'll do it.

Pier. Remember.
Off. Sir.

Pier. Come, now I'm ready.

(Pierre and Jaffier ascend the scaffold.)
Captain, you should be a gentleman of honour;
Keep off the rabble, that I may have room
To entertain my fate, and die with decency.
Come.

You'll think on't.

Bel. Come, come, come, come, come, nay, come to bed, Pr'ythee, my love. The winds! hark how they whistle; And the rain beats: Oh, how the weather shrinks me!

(Going away, Pierre holds him.)

|

(Whispers Jaf.)

You are angry now; who cares? Pish! no indeed,
Choose then; I say you shall not go, you shall not:
Whip your ill nature: get you gone then. Oh!
Are you return'd? See, father, here, he's come
again:

(Takes off his gown, executioner prepares
to bind him.)

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Your generation.-Oh, poor Belvidera!
Sir, I have a wife, bear this in safety to her.
A token that with my dying breath I bless'd her
And the dear little infant left behind me.
I'm sick-I'm quiet.

(Dies. Scene shuts upon them.)

SCENE IV.-An Apartment at Priuli's.

Enter BELVIDERA, distracted; PRIULI, and
Servants.

Pri. Strengthen her heart with patience, pitying

heav'n!

Am I to blame to love him? Oh, thou dear one!
Why do you fly me? are you angry still then?
Jaffier, where art thou? Father, why do you thus?
Stand off, don't hide him from me. He's here
somewhere!

Stand off, I say; What, gone? Remember't, ty

rant:

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