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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
No shameful bonds, but honourable death.
[The Captain takes off Jaffier's chains. The
Duke and Council go away through the
Pier. Come, where's my dungeon? Lead me to
It will not be the first time I've lodg'd hard
Jaf. Hold, one moment.
Pier. Who's he disputes the judgment of the Till, to thyself, at least thou'rt reconcil'd,
Jaf. By heav'n, you stir not;
For I am fallen beneath the basest injuries:
Pier. What whining monk art thou? what holy
Jaf. Not know me, Pierre ?
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;
Poor even in soul, and loathsome in thy aspect!
Pr'ythee avoid; nor longer cling thus round me,
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
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,
Pier. Swear by some other powers,
For thou hast broke that sacred oath too lately.
Jaf. No, thou shalt not force me from thee.
Till wounded by my sufferings, thou relent,
Pier. A traitor!
Pier. A villain?
Pier. A coward, a most scandalous coward;
Jaf. All, all, and more, much more: my faults are
Pier. And would'st thou have me live on terms
Jaf. No: 'tis to me that's granted:
And, as when first my foolish heart took pity
To rank thee in my list of noble friends,
So I restore it back to thee again;
Never, from this curs'd hour, to hold communion,
Pier. For my life, dispose it
Just as thou wilt, because 'tis what I'm tir'd with.
Pier. No more.
Jaf. My eyes won't lose sight of thee,
But languish after thee, and ache with gazing.
He's gone, my father, friend, preserver!
No, I'll esteem it as a friend's last legacy;
So, now for thinking. A blow!-call'd a traitor, villain,
Coward, dishonourable coward! faugh!
Bel. Whither shall I fly?
Where hide me and my miseries together?
Which us'd to smile, ev'n on my faults; but down,
Hoarded for thee, of blessings yet untasted:
My friend, too, Belvidera, that dear friend,
Jaf. Before we parted,
Ere yet his guards had led him to his prison,
He struck me, Belvidera! by heav'n, he struck
Buffetted, call'd me traitor, villain, coward!
Bel. Oh! forgive him, Jaffier;
And, if his sufferings wound thy heart already,
Declare their promis'd mercy all as forfeited.
Bel. Nay, cruel'st racks and torments are preparing
To force confession from their dying pangs.
How your lips shake, and all your face disorder d!
Jaf. Leave me, I charge thee, leave me - Strong temptations.
Wake in my heart.
Bel. For what?
Jaf. No more, but leave me.
Jaf. Oh! by heav'n, I love thee with that fond
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?
Nay, shrink not, now 'tis too late; thou should'st have fled
When thy guilt first had cause; for dire revenge
Already, see, they've fix'd him on the wheel,
Thanks to thy tears and false persuading love.
(Feeling for his dagger.) Come, thou little trem
Creep even into my heart, and there lie safe:
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,
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,
Kiss thy revengeful lips, and die in joys
(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.
SCENE L-An Apartment in Priuli's house.
Pri. Why, cruel heav'n, have my unhappy days
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:
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
Am fall'n into the lowest depths of misery,
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,
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
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.
Weep not, but answer me.
Pri. By heav'n I will.
Not one of them but what shall be immortal.
'Tis Belvidera's life her father pleads for. [Exeunt.
Bel. Then sure you will not curse me?
I came on purpose, Belvidera, to bless thee.
Jaf. Then hear me, bounteous heav'n:
To this curs'd minute, I'll not live one longer;
Hark the dismal bell
Bel. Leave thy dagger with me ;
Bequeath me something. Not one kiss at parting?
Jaf. Yet stay:
Jaf. And I a kind one,
That would not thus scorn my repenting virtue,
But it shall be to see thy fall reveng'd
We have a child, as yet a tender infant:
I charge thee, guard him from the wrongs my fate
(Approaching each other.)
Oh, that my arms we rivetted
Thus round thee ever! But my friend! my oath!
Bel. Another, sure another,
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?
Pier. Dost thou love me?
Jaf. Rip up my heart and satisfy thy doubtings.
Jaf. Tears! Amazement! Tears!
Jaf. No more of that: thy wishes shall be sa-
Pier. No-this-no more.
Jaf. Ha! is't then so?
Pier. Most certainly.
Jaf. I'll do it.
Pier. Come, now I'm ready.
(Pierre and Jaffier ascend the scaffold.)
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.)
You are angry now; who cares? Pish! no indeed,
(Takes off his gown, executioner prepares
Your generation.-Oh, poor Belvidera!
(Dies. Scene shuts upon them.)
SCENE IV.-An Apartment at Priuli's.
Enter BELVIDERA, distracted; PRIULI, and
Pri. Strengthen her heart with patience, pitying
Am I to blame to love him? Oh, thou dear one!
Stand off, I say; What, gone? Remember't, ty