« ZurückWeiter »
When insolence and barbarism triumphed,
And swept away distinctions; peasants trod
Upon the necks of nobles: low were laid
The reverend crosier, and the holy mitre,
And desolation covered all the land;
Who can remember this, and not, like me,
Here vow to sheath a dagger in his heart,
Whose damned ambition would renew those hor-
To think me yours, and rank me with your friends.
Hast. Accept what thanks a grateful heart
Oh, princely Gloster! judge me not ungentle,
Of manners rude, and insolent of speech,
If, when the public safety is in question,
My zeal flows warm and eager from my tongue.
Glost. Enough of this: to deal in wordy com-
And set once more that scene of blood before us! Is much against the plainness of my nature:
Glost. How now! so hot!
Hast. So brave, and so resolved.
Glost. Is then our friendship of so little moment,
That you could arm your hand against my life? Hast. I hope your highness does not think I mean it;
No; Heaven forefend that e'er your princely per
Should come within the scope of my resentment.
Glost. Oh, noble Hastings! Nay, I must em-
By holy Paul, y'are a right honest man!
The time is full of danger and distrust,
And warns us to be wary. Hold me not
Too apt for jealousy and light surmise,
If, when I meant to lodge you near my heart,
I put your truth to trial. Keep your loyalty,
And live your king and country's best support:
For me, I ask no more than hononr gives,
I jndge you by myself, a clear true spirit,
And, as such, once more join you to my bosom.
Farewell, and be my friend. [Exit Glost.
Nor skilled and practised in the arts of great
To kindle thus, and give a scope to passion.
The duke is surely noble; but he touched me
Even on the tenderest point; the master-string,
That makes most harmony or discord to me.
I own the glorious subject fires my breast,
And my soul's darling passion stands confessed.
Beyond or love's or friendship's sacred band,
Beyond myself, I prize my native land:
On this foundation would I build my fame,
And emulate the Greek and Roman name;
Think England's peace bought cheaply with my
And die with pleasure for my country's good.
Enter Duke of GLOSTER, RATCLIFFE, and
This puling, whining harlot rules his reason,
And prompts his zeal for Edward's bastard brood.
Cat. If she have such dominion o'er his heart,
And turn it at her will, you rule her fate;
Glost. THIS was the sum of all: that he would And should, by inference and apt deduction,
No alteration in the present state.
Marry, at last, the testy gentleman
Was almost moved to bid us bold defiance;
But there I dropt the argument, and changing
The first design and purport of my speech,
I praised his good affection to young Edward,
And left him to believe my thoughts like his.
Proceed we then in this forementioned matter,
As nothing bound, or trusting to his friendship.
Rat. Ill does it thus befall. I could have
This lord had stood with us. His friends are
Be arbiter of his. Is not her bread,
The very means immediate to her being,
The bounty of your hand? Why does she live,
If not to yield obedience to your pleasure,
To speak, to act, to think as you command?
Rat. Let her instruct her tongue to bear your
Teach every grace to smile in your behalf,
And her deluding eyes to gloat for you;
His ductile reason will be wound about,
Be led and turned again, say and unsay,
Receive the yoke, and yield exact obedience.
Glost. Your counsel likes me well, it shall be
She waits without, attending on her suit.
Go, call her in, and leave us here alone.
[Exeunt Ratcliffe and Catesby.
How poor a thing is he, how worthy scorn,
Who leaves the guidance of imperial manhood
To such a paltry piece of stuff as this is!
A moppet made of prettiness and pride;
That oftener does her giddy fancies change,
Than glittering dew-drops in the sun do colours-
Now, shame upon it! was our reason given
For such a use! To be thus puffed about
Like a dry leaf, an idle straw, a feather,
The sport of every whiffling blast that blows?
Beshrew my heart, but it is wondrous strange;
Sure there is something more than witchcraft in
That masters even the wisest of us all.
Oh! you are come most fitly. We have ponder
On this your grievance: and though some there
Nay, and those great ones too, who would enforce
The rigour of our power to afflict you,
And bear a heavy hand; yet fear not you:
We've ta'en you to our favour; our protection
Shall stand between, and shield you from mis-
J. Sh. The blessings of a heart with anguish broken,
And rescued from despair, attend your highness.
Alas! my gracious lord, what have I done
To kindle such relentless wrath against me?
If in the days of all my past offences,
When most my heart was lifted with delight,
If I withheld my morsel from the hungry,
Forgot the widow's want, and orphan's cry;
If I have known a good I have not shared,
Nor called the poor to take his portion with me,
Let my worst enemies stand forth, and now
Deny the succour, which I gave not then.
Glost. Marry there are, though I believe them
What fits the order of the common-weal.
J. Sh. Oh, that the busy world, at least in this, Would take example from a wretch like me! None then would waste their hours in foreign thoughts,
Forget themselves, and what concerns their peace,
To tread the mazes of fantastic falsehood,
To haunt their idle sounds and flying tales,
Through all the giddy, noisy courts of rumour;
Malicious slander never would have leisure
To search, with prying eyes, for faults abroad,
If all, like me, considered their own hearts,
And wept the sorrows which they found at home.
Glost. Go to! I know your power; and though
I trust not
To every breath of fame, I am not to learn
That Hastings is professed your loving vassal.
But fair befal your beauty: use it wisely,
And it may stand your fortunes much in stead,
Give back your forfeit land with large increase,
And place you high in safety and in honour.
Nay, I could point a way, the which pursuing,
You shall not only bring yourself advantage,
But give the realm much worthy cause to thank
J. Sh. Oh! where or how-Can my unworthy hand
Become an instrument of good to any?
Instruct your lowly slave, and let me fly
To yield obedience to your dread command.
Glost. Why, that's well said-Thus then—Ob-
serve me well;
The state, for many high and potent reasons,
Deeming my brother Edward's sons unfit
For the imperial weight of England's crown-
J. Sh. Alas! for pity.
Glost. Therefore have resolved
To set aside their unavailing infancy,
And vest the sovereign rule in abler hands.
This, though of great importance to the public,
Hastings, for very peevishness and spleen,
Does stubbornly oppose.
J. Sh. Does he? Does Hastings?
Glost. Ay, Hastings.
J. Sh. Reward him for the noble deed, just
For this one action, guard him, and distinguish him
With signal mercies, and with great deliverance!
Save him from wrong, adversity, and shame!
Let never-fading honours flourish round him,
And consecrate his name, even to time's end!
Let him know nothing else but good on earth,
And everlasting blessedness hereafter!
Glost. How now!
J. Sh. The poor, forsaken, royal little ones!
Shall they be left a prey to savage power?
Can they lift up their harmless hands in vain,
Or cry to Heaven for help, and not be heard?
Impossible! Oh, gallant, generous Hastings,
Go on, pursue! assert the sacred cause :
Stand forth, thou proxy of all-ruling Providence,
And save the friendless infants from oppression!
Saints shall assist thee with prevailing prayers,
And warring angels combat on thy side.
Glost. You are passing rich in this same hea
And spend it at your pleasure. Nay, but mark me!
My favour is not bought with words like these. Go to-you'll teach your tongue another tale.
J. Sh. No, though the royal Edward has un
He was my king, my gracious master still;
He loved me too, though 'twas a guilty flame,
And fatal to my peace, yet still he loved me;
With fondness, and with tenderness he doated,
Dwelt in my eyes, and lived but in my smiles:
And can I-O my heart abhors the thought!
Stand by, and see his children robbed of right?
Glost. Dare not, even for thy soul, to thwart
None of your arts, your feigning and your fool
Go-to your lord, your paramour, begone!
Lisp in his ear, hang wanton on his neck,
And play your monkey gambols over to him.
You know my purpose, look that you pursue it,
And make him yield obedience to my will.
Do it or woe upon thy harlot's head!
J. Sh. Oh, that my tongue had every grace of speech,
Great and commanding as the breath of kings,
Sweet as the poet's numbers, and prevailing
As soft persuasion to a love-sick maid;
That I had art and eloquence divine,
To pay my duty to my master's ashes,
And plead, till death, the cause of injured innocence!
Glost. Ha! Dost thou brave me, minion! Dost thou know
How vile, how very a wretch, my power can
That I can let loose fear, distress, and famine, To hunt thy heels, like hell-hounds, through the world;
That I can place thee in such abject state,
As help shall never find thee; where, repining,
Thou shalt sit down and gnaw the earth for an-
Groan to the pitiless winds without return;
Howl like the midnight wolf amidst the desert,
And curse thy life, in bitterness and misery!
J. Sh. Let me be branded for the public scorn, Turned forth and driven to wander like a vagabond,
Be friendless and forsaken, seek my bread
Upon the barren wild, and desolate waste,
Feed on my sighs, and drink my falling tears,
E'er I consent to teach my lips injustice,
Or wrong the orphan who has none to save him!
Glost. Tis well-we'll try the temper of your
What hoa! who waits without?
Enter RATCLIFFE, CATESBY, and Attendants. Rat. Your highness' pleasure—
Glost. Go, some of you, and turn this strum-
Spurn her into the street; there, let her perish,
And rot upon a dung-hill. Through the city
See it proclaimed, that none, on pain of death,
Presume to give her comfort, food, or harbour;
Who ministers the smallest comfort, dies.
Her house, her costly furniture and wealth,
The purchase of her loose luxurious life,
We seize on, for the profit of the state.
J. Sh. Oh, thou most righteous judge-
Humbly behold, I bow myself to thee,
And own thy justice in this hard decree:
No longer, then, my ripe offences spare,
But what I merit, let me learn to bear.
Yet, since 'tis all my wretchedness can give,
my past crimes my forfeit life receive;
No pity for my sufferings here I crave,
And only hope forgiveness in the grave.
[Exit Shore, guarded by Catesby and others.
Glost. So much for this. Your project's at an
This idle toy, this hilding scorns my power,
And sets us all at naught. See that a guard
Be ready at my call.
Rat. The council waits
Upon your highness' leisure.
Glost. Bid them enter.
Enter the Duke of BUCKINGHAM, Earl of DERBY, Bishop of ELY, Lord HASTINGS, and others, as to the council. The Duke of GLOSTER takes •his place at the upper end, then the rest sit.
Derb. In happy times we are assembled here, To point the day, and fix the solemn pomp For placing England's crown, with all due rites, Upon our sovereign Edward's youthful brow.
Hast. Some busy meddling knaves, 'tis said, there are,
As such will still be prating, who presume
carp and cavil at his royal right;
Therefore, I hold it fitting, with the soonest,
To appoint the order of the coronation.
So to approve our duty to the king,
And stay the babbling of such vain gainsayers.
Derb. We all attend to know your highness
Glost. My lords, a set of worthy men you are,
Prudent and just, and careful for the state;
Therefore, to your most grave determination,
I yield myself in all things; and demand
What punishment your wisdom shall think meet
To inflict upon those damnable contrivers,
Who shall, with potions, charms, and witching
Practise against our person and our life?
Hast. So much I hold the king your highness'
Behold my arm, thus blasted, dry, and, withered, [Pulling up his sleeve.
Shrunk like a foul abortion, and decayed,
Like some untimely product of the seasons,
Robbed of its properties of strength and office.
This is the sorcery of Edward's wife,
Who, in conjunction with that harlot Shore,
And other like confederate midnight hags,
By force of potent spells, of bloody characters,
And conjurations horrible to hear,
Call fiends and spectres from the yawning deep,
And set the ministers of hell at work,
To torture and despoil me of my life.
Hast. If they have done this deed-
Glost. If they have done it!
Talk'st thou to me of If's, audacious traitor!
Thou art that strumpet witch's chief abettor,
The patron and complotter of her mischiefs,
And joined in this contrivance for my death.
Nay start not, lords--What ho! a guard there!
Lord Hastings, I arrest thee of high treason.
Seize him, and bear him instantly away.
He shall not live an hour. By holy Paul,
I will not dine before his head be brought me.
Ratcliffe, stay you, and see that it be done :
The rest, that love me, rise and follow me.
[Exeunt Gloster and the lords following. Manent Lord HASTINGS, RATCLIFFE, and Guards.
Hast. What! and no more but this-How! to the scaffold?
Oh, gentle Ratcliffe! tell me, do I hold thee?
Or if I dream, what shall I do to wake,
To break, to struggle through this dread confu-
For surely death itself is not so painful
As is this sudden horror and surprise.
Rat. You heard, the duke's commands to me were absolute,
Therefore, my lord, address you to your shrift, With all good speed you may, Summon your
And be yourself; for you must die this instant. Hast. Yes, Ratcliffe, I will take thy friendly counsel,
And die as a man should; 'tis somewhat hard
To call my scattered spirits home at once:
But since what must be, must be-let necessity
Supply the place of time and preparation,
And arm me for the blow. 'Tis but to die,
'Tis but to venture on that common hazard,
Which many a time in battle I have run;
'Tis but to do, what at that very moment,
In many nations of the peopled earth,
A thousand and a thousand shall do with me ;
'Tis but to close my eyes and shut out day-light,
To view no more the wicked ways of men,
No longer to behold the tyrant Gloster,
And be a weeping witness of the woes,
The desolation, slaughter, and calamities,
Which he shall bring on this unhappy land.
That haunt thee to the toil, sweep thee from earth,
And drive thee down this precipice of fate.
Hast. Thy reason is grown wild. Could thy weak hand
Bring on this mighty ruin? If it could,
What have I done so grievous to thy soul,
So deadly, so beyond the reach of pardon,
That nothing but my life can make atonement?
Alic. Thy cruel scorn hath stung me to the
And set my burning bosom all in flames;
Raving and mad I flew to my revenge,
And writ I know not what-told the protector,
That Shore's detested wife, by wiles, had won
To plot against his greatness--He believed it,
(Oh, dire event of my pernicious counsel !)
And, while I meant destruction on her head,
He has turned it all on thine.
Hast. Accursed jealousy!
Oh, merciless, wild, and unforgiving fiend!
Blindfold it runs to undistinguished mischief,
And murders all it meets. Cursed be its rage,
For there is none so deadly; doubly cursed
Be all those easy fools who give it harbour;
Who turn a monster loose among mankind,
Fiercer than famine, war, or spotted pestilence;
Baneful as death, and horrible as hell!
Alic. If thou wilt curse, curse rather thine own
Curse the lewd maxims of thy perjured sex, Which taught thee first to laugh at faith and jus tice,
To scorn the solemn sanctity of oaths,
And make a jest of a poor woman's ruin :
Curse thy proud heart, and thy insulting tongue,
That raised this fatal fury in my soul,
And urged my vengeance to undo us both.
Hast. Oh, thou inhuman! Turn thy eyes a
And blast me not with their destructive beams : Why should I curse thee with my dying breath? Begone! and let me die in peace.
Alic. Can'st thou, Oh, cruel Hastings, leave me thus !
Hear me, I beg thee-I conjure thee, hear me !
While with an agonizing heart, I swear,
By all the pangs I feel, by all the sorrows,
The terrors and despair thy loss shall give me,
My hate was on my rival bent alone.
Oh! had I once divined, false as thou art,
A danger to thy life, I would have died,
I would have met it for thee, and made bare
My ready faithful breast, to save thee from it.
Hast. Now mark! and tremble at Heaven's
While thy insatiate wrath, and fell revenge,
Pursued the innocence which never wronged thee,
Behold the mischief falls on thee and me:
Remorse and heaviness of heart shall wait on
And everlasting anguish be thy portion:
For me, the snares of death are wound about me,
And now, in one poor moment, I am gone.
Oh! if thou hast one tender thought remaining,
Fly to thy closet, fall upon thy knees,
And recommend my parting soul to mercy.
Alic. Oh! yet before I go for ever from thee,
Turn thee, in gentleness and pity, to me,
And, in compassion of my strong affliction,
Say, is it possible you can forgive
The fatal rashness of ungoverned love?
For, oh! 'tis certain, if I had not loved thee
Beyond my peace, my reason, fame, and life,
Desired to death, and doated to destraction,
This day of horror never should have known us.
Hast. Oh, rise, and let me hush thy stormy
Assuage thy tears, for I will chide no more,
No more upbraid thee, thou unhappy fair one.
I see the hand of Heaven is armed against me;
And, in mysterious Providence, decrees
To punish me by thy mistaken hand.
Most righteous doom! for, oh, while I behold
Thy wrongs rise up in terrible array,
And charge thy ruin on me; thy fair fame,
Thy spotless beauty, innocence, and youth,
Dishonoured, blasted, and betrayed by me.
Alic. And does thy heart relent for my
Oh, that inhuman Gloster could be moved,
But half so easily as I can pardon!
Rat. My lord, dispatch; the duke has sent to chide me,
For loitering in my duty.
Hast. I obey.
Alic. Insatiate, savage monster! Is a moment
So tedious to thy malice? Oh, repay him,
Thou great avenger! Give him blood for blood:
Guilt haunt him! fiends pursue him! lightnings
Some horrid, cursed kind of death o'ertake him,
Sudden, and in the fulness of his sins!
That he may know how terrible it is,
To want that moment he denies thee now.
Hast. This rage is all in vain, that tears thy
Like a poor bird, that flutters in its cage,
Thou beatest thyself to death. Retire, I beg
To see thee thus, thou knowest not how it
Thy agonies are added to my own,
And make the burthen more than I can bear.
Farewell-Good angels visit thy afflictions,
And bring thee peace and comfort from above!
Alic. Oh! stab me to the heart, some pitying
Now strike me dead!
Hast. One thing I had forgot
I charge thee, by our present common miseries;
By our past loves, if yet they have a name;
By all thy hopes of peace here and hereafter,
Let not the rancour of thy hate pursue
The innocence of thy unhappy friend;
Thou knowest who 'tis I mean; Oh! should'st
thou wrong her,
Just Heaven shall double all thy woes upon thee,
And make them know no end-Remember this,
As the last warning of a dying man.
Farewell, for ever!
[The guards carry Hastings off.
Alic. For ever! Oh, for ever!
Oh, who can bear to be a wretch for ever!
My rival, too! His last thoughts hung on her,
And, as he parted, left a blessing for her:
Shall she be blest, and I be curst, for ever?
undo-No: since her fatal beauty was the cause
Of all my sufferings, let her share my pains;
Let her, like me, of every joy forlorn,
Devote the hour when such a wretch was born;
Hast. Here, then, exchange we mutually for- Like me, to deserts and to darkness run,
So may the guilt of all my broken vows,
My perjuries to thee, be all forgotten,
As here my soul acquits thee of my death,
As here I leave thee with the softest tenderness,
Mourning the chance of our disastrous loves,
And begging Heaven to bless and to support thee,
Abhor the day, and curse the golden sun;
Cast every good, and every hope behind;
Detest the works of nature, loath mankind:
Like me, with cries distracted, fill the air,
Tear her poor bosom, rend her frantic hair;
the torments of the last despair!