페이지 이미지
[blocks in formation]

Rand. Amazement!


Is this the man I thought so wise and just?
What, teach and counsel me to be a villain?
Sure, grief has made him frantic, or some flend
Assum'd his shape. I shall suspect my senses.
High-minded he was ever, and improvident,
But pitiful and generous, to a fault.
Pleasure he loved, but honour was his idol.
Oh, fatal change! Oh, horrid transformation!
So a majestic temple, sunk to ruin,

Becomes the loathsome shelter and abode

Of lurking serpents, toads, and beasts of prey;
And scaly dragons hiss, and lions roar,

Where wisdom taught, and music charm'd before.

SCENE II.-Charlotte's house.



[blocks in formation]

Char. (Finds a letter.) What's this? A letter su perscrib'd to me;

None could convey it here but you, Maria.
Ungen'rous, cruel maid! to use me thus!
To join with flatt'ring men to break my peace,
And persecute me to the last retreat!

Mar. Why should it break your peace to hear the sighs

Of honourable love? This letter is-

Char. No matter whence: return it back un


I have no love, no charms, but for my Wilmot, Nor would have any.

Mar. Alas! Wilmot's dead!

Or, living, dead to you.

Char. I'll not despair: patience shall cherish hope;

Nor wrong his honour by unjust suspicion.
I know his truth, and will preserve my own.
But, to prevent all future importunity,
Know, thou incessant foe to my repose,
Whether he sleeps secure from mortal cares,
In the deep bosom of the boist'rous main,
Or, toss'd with tempest, still endures its rage,
No second choice shall violate my vows;
High heaven, which heard them, and abhors the

Can witness, they were made without reserve.
Never to be retracted, n'er dissolv'd

By accident or absence, time or death.

Mar. And did your vows oblige you to support His haughty parents, to your utter ruin? Well may you weep to think on what you've done. Char. I weep to think that I can do no more For their support. What will become of them? The hoary, helpless, miserable pair!

Mar. What I can't praise, you force me to ad-

And mourn for you, as you lament for them.
Your patience, constancy, and resignation,
Merit a better fate.

Char. So pride would tell me,

And vain self-love, but I believe them not:
And if, by wanting pleasure, I have gain'd
Humility, I'm richer for my loss.

Mar. You have the heavenly art still to improve Your mind by all events. But here comes one, Whose pride seems to increase with her misfortunes.

Her faded dress, unfashionably fine,

As ill conceals her poverty, as that

Strain'd complaisance, her haughty, swelling heart.
Though perishing with want, so far from asking,
She ne'er receives a favour uncompell'd;
And, while she ruins, scorns to be oblig'd:

Let me depart, I know she loves me not.

Enter AGNES.

Char. This visit's kind.

Agnes. Few else would think it so:


Those who would once have thought themselves

much honour'd

By the least favour, though 'twere but a look,

I could have shewn them, now refuse to see me.

'Tis misery enough to be reduc'd

To the low level of the common herd,
Who, born to beggary, envy all above them:
But 'tis the curse of curses to endure
The insolent contempt of those we scorn.

Char. By scorning, we provoke them to con tempt,

And thus offend, and suffer in our turns:
We must have patience.

Agnes. No, I scorn them yet;

But there's no end of suff'ring: who can say
Their sorrows are complete? My wretched hus-

Tir'd with our woes, and hopeless of relief,
Grows sick of life;

And, urg'd by indignation and despair,
Would plunge into eternity at once,
By foul seif-murder.

Char. Gracious heaven support him!
Agnes. His fix'd love for me,

Whom he would fain persuade to share his fate, And take the same uncertain, dreadful course, Alone withholds his hand.

Char. And may it ever!

Agnes. I've known with him the two extremes of life;

The highest happiness, and deepest woe,
With all the sharp and bitter aggravations
Of such a vast transition. Such a fall
In the decline of life! I have as quick,
As exquisite a sense of pain as he,
And would do anything, but die, to end it;
but there my courage fails. Death is the worst
That fate can bring, and cuts off ev'ry hope.

Char. We must not choose, but strive to bear our
Without reproach or guilt. By one rash act
Of desperation, we may overthrow
The merit we've been raising all our days,
And lose our whole reward. And now, methinks,
Now, more than ever, we have cause to fear,
And be upon our guard. The hand of heaven
Spreads clouds on clouds o'er our benighted heads,
And wrapp'd in darkness, doubles our distress.
I had, the night last past, repeated twice,
A strange and awful dream: I would not yield
To fearful superstition, nor despise
The admonition of a friendly power,
That wish'd my good.

Agnes. I have certain plagues enough,
Without the help of dreams, to make me wretched.
Char. I would not stake my happiness or duty
On their uncertain credit, nor on aught
But reason, and the known decrees of heaven;
Yet dreams have sometimes shewn events to

And may excite to vigilance and care.
My vision may be such, and sent to warn us,
(Now we are tried by multiply'd afflictions,)
To mark each motion of our swelling hearts,
Lest we attempt to extricate ourselves,
And seek deliv'rance by forbidden ways;
To keep our hopes and innocence entire,
Till we're dismiss'd to join the happy dead,
Or heaven relieves us here.

Agnes. Well, to your dream.

Char. Methought, I sat, in a dark winter's night,

On the wide summit of a barren mountain; The sharp, bleak winds pierc'd through shiv'ring frame, And storms of hail, and sleet, and driving rains, Beat with impetuous fury on my head, Drench'd my chill'd limbs, and pour'd a deluge round me.


shunn'd his arms: but at some words he spoke,

On one hand, ever-gentle Patience sat,
On whose calm bosom I reclin'd my head;
And, on the other, silent Contemplation.
At length, to my unclos'd and watchful eyes,
That long had roll'd in darkness, dawn appear'd;
And I beheld a man, an utter stranger,
Put of graceful and exalted mien,

Which I have now forgot, I turn'd again;
But he was gone-and, oh! transporting sight!
Your son, my dearest Wilmot, filled his place!
Agnes. If I regarded dreams, I should expect
Some fair event from yours.

Char. But what's to come,

Though more obscure, is terrible, indeed! Methought we parted soon, and when I sought


You and his father (yes, you both were there,) Strove to conceal him from me. I pursu'd you Both with my cries, and call'd on heaven and earth

[blocks in formation]

Who press'd with eager transports to embrace I hid it in my bosom.

Eust. 1 observed you,


[blocks in formation]

Why, be it so: instinct preceded reason
Ev'n in the wisest men, and may sometimes
Be much the better guide. But, be it either,
I must confess, that even death itself
Appear'd to me with twice its native horrors,
When apprehended in a foreign land.
Death is, no doubt, in ev'ry place the same;
Yet nature casts a look towards home, and most
Who have it in their power, choose to expire
Where they first drew their breath.

Eust. Believe me, Wilmot,

Your grave reflections were not what I smil'd at;
I own the truth. That we're return'd to England,
Affords me all the pleasure you can feel.

Yet I must think a warmer passion moves you;
Thinking of that, I smil'd.

Young W. Oh! Eustace, Eustace!

Thou know'st, for I've confess'd to thee, I love;
But having never seen the charming maid,
Thou canst not know the fierceness of my flame.
My hopes and fears, like the tempestuous seas
That we have pass'd, now mount me to the

Now hurl me down from that stupendous height,
And drive me to the centre. Did you know
How much depends on this important hour,
You would not be surprised to see me thus.
The sinking fortune of our ancient house,
Compell'd me, young, to leave my native country,
My weeping parents, and my lovely Charlotte,
Who rul'd, and must for ever rule, my fate.
Oh! should my Charlotte, doubtful of my truth,
Or, in despair ever to see me more,
Have given herself to some more happy lover!
Distraction's in the thought! Or, should my


Griev'd for my absence, and oppress'd with want,

Have sunk beneath their burden and expir'd,
While I, too late, was flying to relieve them;
The end of all my long and weary travels,
The hope that made success itself a blessing,
Being defeated, and for ever lost;

What were the riches of the world to me?

Eust. The wretch who fears all that is possible,

Must suffer more than he, who feels the worst
A man can feel, yet lives exempt from fear.
A woman may be false, and friends are mortal;
And yet your aged parents may be living,
And your fair mistress constant.

Young W. True, they may;

I doubt, but I despair not. No, my friend!
My hopes are strong, and lively as my fears;
They tell me Charlotte is as true as fair;

That we shall meet, never to part again;
That I shall see my parents, kiss the tears
From their pale, hollow cheeks, cheer their sad

And drive that gaping phantom, meagre want,
For ever from their board; their days to come
Crown all with peace, with pleasure, and abun-

Receive their fond embraces and their blessings,
And be a blessing to them.

Eust. 'Tis our weakness;

Blind to events, we reason in the dark,

And fondly apprehend, what none e'er found,
Or ever shall, pleasure and pain unmix'd;
And flatter, and torment ourselves by turns,
With what shall never be.

Young W. I'll go this instant

To seek my Charlotte, and explore my fate.
Eust. What, in that foreign habit?
Young W. That's a trifle,

Not worth my thoughts.

Eust. The hardships you've endur'd,

And your long stay beneath the burning zone,
Where one eternal sultry summer reigns,
Have marr'd the native hue of your complexion:
Methinks you look more like a sun-burnt indian,
Than a Briton.

Young W. Well; 'tis no matter, Eustice!

I hope my mind's not alter'd for the worse,
And for my outside-But, inform me, friend,
When I may hope to see you.

Eust. When you please:

You'll find me at the inn.

Young W. When I have learn'd my doom, expect me there,

ill then, farewell!

[blocks in formation]

And drown'd th' affrighted mariners' loud cries;
When vivid lightning spread its sulphurous flames
Through all the dark horizon, and disclos'd
The raging seas incens'd to his destruction;
When the good ship, in which he was embark'd,
Broke, and o'erwhelm'd by the impetuous surge,
Sunk to the oozy bottom of the deep,

And left him struggling with the warring waves;
In that dead moment, in the jaws of death,
When his strength fail'd, and ev'ry hope forsook

And his last breath press'd towards his trembling lips,

The neighbouring rocks, that echo'd to his moan, Return'd no sound articulate but-Charlotte.

Char. The fatal tempest, whose description strikes

The hearer with astonishment, is ceas'd;
And Wilmot is at rest. The fiercer storm
Of swelling passions, that o'erwhelms the soul,
And rages worse than the mad foaming seas
In which he perish'd, ne'er shall vex him more.
Young W. Thou seem'st to think he's dead; en-
joy that thought;

Persuade yourself, that what you wish is true,
And triumph in your falsehood. Yes, he's dead!
You were his fate. The cruel winds and waves,
That cast him pale and breathless on the shore,
Spar'd him for greater woes; to know his Char-

Forgetting all her vows to him and heaven,

Had cast her from her thoughts. Then, then he died;

But never can have rest. Ev'n now he wanders,
A sad, repining, discontented ghost,
The unsubstantial shadow of himself;

And pours his plaintive groans in thy deaf ears,
And stalks, unseen, before thee.

Char. 'Tis enough:

Detested falsehood now has done its worst.
And art thou dead? And wouldst thou die, my

For one thou thought'st unjust? Thou soul of truth!
What must be done? Which way shall I express
Unutterable woe? Or how convince

Thy dear departed spirit of the love,
Th' eternal love, and never-failing faith,

Of thy much-injur'd, lost, despairing Charlotte?
Young W. Be still, my flutt'ring heart; hope not

too soon!

Perhaps I dream, and this is all illusion. (Aside.)
Char. If, as some teach, the spirit after death,
Free from the bounds and ties of sordid earth,
Can trace us to our most conceal'd retreat,
See all we act, and read our very thoughts;
To thee, oh! Wilmot, kneeling, I appeal.
If e'er I swerv'd in action, word or thought,
Or ever wish'd to taste a joy on earth

That center'd not in thee, since last we parted,
May we ne'er meet again; but thy loud wrongs
So close the ear of mercy to my cries,
That I may never see those bright abodes
Where truth and virtue only have admission,
And thou inhabit'st now!

Young W. Assist me, heaven!
Preserve my reason, memory, and sense!
Oh! moderate my fierce tumultuous joys,
Or their excess will drive me to distraction.
Oh! Charlotte, Charlotte! lovely, virtuous maid!
Can thy firm mind, in spite of time and absence,
Remain unshaken, and support its truth;
And yet thy frailer memory retair

No image, no idea of thy lover?

Why dost thou gaze so wildly? Look on me;

Turn thy dear eyes this way; observe me well. Have scorching climates, time, and this strange habit,

So chang'd, and so disguis'd thy faithful Wilmot, That nothing in my voice, my face, or mien, Remains to tell my Charlotte I am he?

(Gives him her hand.) Why dost thou weep? Why dost thou tremble thus?

Why doth thy panting heart, and cautious touch, Speak thee but half convinc'd? Whence are thy fears?

Why art thou silent? Canst thou doubt me still? Char. No, Wilmot! no; I'm blind with too much light:

O'ercome with wonder, and oppress'd with joy.
This vast profusion of extreme delight,
Rising at once, and bursting from despair,
Defies the aid of words, and mocks description.
But, for one sorrow, one sad scene of anguish,
That checks the swelling torrent of my joys,
I could not bear the transport.

Young W. Let me know it:

Give me my portion of thy sorrow, Charlotte!
Let me partake thy grief, or bear it for thee,
Char. Alas, my Wilmot! these sad tears are

They flew for thy misfortunes. I am pierc'd
With all the agonies of strong compassion,
With all the bitter anguish you must feel,
When you shall hear your parents-
Young W. Are no more.

Char. You apprehend me wrong.
Young W. Perhaps I do,

Perhaps you mean to say, the greedy grave
Was satisfy'd with one, and one is left
To bless my longing eyes.
But which, my


Char. Afflict yourself no more with groundless fears:

Your parents both are living. Their distress-
The poverty to which they are reduc'd,

In spite of my weak aid, was what I mourn'd:
That poverty, in age, to them whose youth
Was crown'd with full prosperity, I fear,
Is worse, much worse, than death.

Young W. My joy's complete!

My parents living, and possess'd of thee!
From this blest hour, the happiest of my life,
I'll date my rest. My anxious hopes and fears,
My weary travels, and my dangers past,
Are now rewarded all: now I rejoice
In my success, and count my riches gain.
For know, my soul's best treasure! I have wealth
Enough to glut e'en avarice itself:

No more shall cruel want, or proud contempt,
Oppress the sinking spirits, or insult

The hoary heads of those who gave me being.
Char. 'Tis now, oh! riches, I conceive your


[blocks in formation]

And perilous adventures, be the theme
Of many a happy winter night to come.
My present purpose was t'intreat my angel,
To know this friend, this other better Wilmot,
And come with him this evening to my father's:
I'll send him to thee.

Char. I consent with pleasure.

Young W. Heavens! what a night! How shall I bear my joy!

My parents, yours, my friends, all will be mine.
If such the early hopes, the vernal bloom,
The distant prospect of my future bliss,
Then, what the ruddy autumn? What the fruit,
The full possession of thy heavenly charms?


SCENE II-A Street in Penryn.


Rand. Poor, poor! and friendless! whither shall

I wander?

And to what point direct my views and hopes?
A menial servant! No. What, shall I live
Here in this land of freedom, live distinguish'd,
And mark'd the willing slave of some proud


To swell his useless train for broken fragnients,
The cold remains of his superfluous board?
I would aspire to something more and better.
Turn thy eyes, then, to the prolific ocean,
Whose spacious bosom opens to thy view:
There deathless honour, and unenvy'd wealth,
Have often crown'd the brave adventurer's toils.
This is the native uncontested right,
The fair inheritance of ev'ry Briton,
That dares put in his claim. My choice is made:
A long farewell to Cornwall, and to England!
If I return-But stay, what stranger's this,
Who, as he views me, seems to mend his pace?

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

My parents not suspecting my return,
That I may visit them, and not be known?

Rand. 'Tis hard for me to judge. You are already,
Grown so familiar to me, that I wonder
I knew you not at first: yet it may be;

For you're much alter'd, and they think you dead. Young W. This is certain; Charlotte beheld me long,

And heard my loud reproaches and complaints,
Without rememb'ring she had ever seen me.
My mind, at ease, grows wanton: I would fain
Refine on happiness. Why may I not
Indulge my curiosity, and try
If it be possible, by seeing first
My parents as a stranger, to improve
Their pleasure by surprise?

Rand. It may, indeed,

Enhance your own, to see from what despair
Your timely coming, and unhop'd success,
Have given you power to raise them.
Young W. I remember,

E'er since we learn'd together, you excell'd
In writing fairly, and could imitate
Whatever hand you saw, with great exactness.
I therefore beg you'll write, in Charlotte's name
And character, a letter to my father;
And recommend me, as a friend of hers,
To his acquaintance.

Rand. Sir, if you desire it

And yet

Young W. Nay, no objections! 'Twill save time, Most precious with me now. For the deception, If doing what my Charlotte will approve, 'Cause done for me, and with a good intent, Deserves the name, I'll answer it myself. If this succeeds, I purpose to defer Discov'ring who I am till Charlotte comes, And thou, and all who love me. Ev'ry friend Who witnesses my happiness to-night, Will, by partaking, multiply my joys.

Rand. You grow luxurious in imagination.
Could I deny you aught, I would not write
This letter. To say true, I ever thought
Your boundless curiosity a weakness.

Young W. What canst thou blame in this?
Rand. Your pardon, sir!
Perhaps I spoke too freely;
I'm ready t' obey your orders.

Young W. I am much thy debtor,
But I shall find a time to quit thy kindness.
Oh! Randal, but imagine to thyself
The floods of transport, the sincere delight,
That all my friends will feel, when I di:close
To my astonish'd parents my return,
And then confess, that i have well contriv'd,
By giving others joy t' axalt my own.


SCENE III.-Old Wilmot's House.
OLD WILMOT and AGNES discovered.
Old Here, take this Seneca; this haughty

Who, governing the master of mankind,
And awing power imperial, prates of patience;
And praises poverty, possess'd of millions:
Sell him, and buy us bread. The scantiest meal
The vilest copy of his book e'er purchas'd,
Will give us more relief in this distress,
Than all his boasted precepts. Nay, no tears;
Keep them to move compassion when you beg.
Agnes. My heart may break, but never stoop to

« 이전계속 »