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What could we more than to behold a Monarch,
Lovely, renown'd, a conqueror, and young,
Bound in our chains, and sighing at our feet?
J. Sho. "Tis true, the royal Edward was a wonder,
The goodly pride of all our English youth;
He was the very joy of all that saw him,
Form'd to delight, to love, and to persuade. .
But what had I to do with Kings and Courts?
My humble lot had cast me far beneath him;
And that he was the first of all mankind,
The bravest and most lovely, was my curse.
Alic. Where could his greatness, and his gracious form,
Be elsewhere match'd so well, as to the sweetness
And beauty of my friend.
J. Sho. Name him no more:
He was the bane and ruin of my peace.
This anguish and these tears, these are the legacies
His fatal love has left me. Thou wilt see me,
Believe me, my Alicia, thou wilt see me,
Ere yet a few short days pass o'er my head,
Abandon'd to the very utmost wretchedness.
The hand of pow'r has seiz'd almost the whole
Of what was left for needy life's support;
Shortly thou wilt behold me poor, and kneeling
Before thy charitable door for bread.
Alic. Joy of my life, my dearest Shore, forbear
To wound my heart with thy foreboding sorrows.
Raise thy sad soul to better hopes than these;
Lift up thy eyes, and let them shine once more,
Bright as the morning sun above the mists.
Exert thy charms, seek out the stern protector,
And sooth his savage temper with thy beauty:
Spite of his deadly unrelenting nature,
He shall be mov'd to pity and redress thee.
J. Sho. My form, alas! has long forgot to please;
The scene of beauty and delight is chang’d,
No roses bloom upon my fading cheek;
But haggard grief, lean-looking sallow care,
And pining discontent, a rueful train,
Dwell on my brow, all hideous and forlorn.
One only shadow of a hope is left me:
The noble-minded Hastings, of his goodness,
Has kindly underta’en to be my advocate,
And move my humble suit to angry Gloster.
Alic. Does IIastings undertake to plead your cause?
But wherefore should he not? Hastings has eyes;
The gentle Lord has a right tender heart,
Melting and easy, yielding to impression,
And catching the soft flame from each new beauty;
But yours shall charm him long.
J. Sho. Away, you flatterer!
Nor charge his gen'rous meaning with a weakness,
Which his great soul and virtue must disdain.
Too much of love thy hapless friend has prov'd,
Too many giddy foolish hours are gone,
And in fantastic measures danc'd away;
May the remaining few know only friendship.
So thou, my dearest, truest, best Alicia,
Vouchsafe to lodge me in thy gentle heart,
A partner there, I will give up mankind,
Forget the transports of increasing passion,
And all the pangs we feel for its decay.
Alic. Live! live and reign for ever in my bosom ;
Safe and unrivall'd there possess thy own!
Accept my truth, accept my holy friendship,
Which here to thee, my other self, I vow.
If I not hold thee nearer to my soul
Than ev'ry other joy the world can give,
May poverty, deformity and shame,
Distraction and despair seize me on earth,
Nor may my faithless soul have peace hereafter,
Nor taste the bliss intended for the faithful.
J. Sho. Yes, thou art true, and only thou art true; Therefore these jewels, once the lavish bounty Of royal Edward's love, I trust to thee;
[Giving a casket. Receive this, all that I can call my own, And let it rest unknown and safe with thee: That if the state's injustice should oppress me,
Strip me of all, and turn me out a wanderer,
My wretchedness may find relief from thee,
And shelter from the storm.
Alic. My all is thine;
One common hazard shall attend us both,
And both be fortunate, or both be wretched.
But let thy fearful doubting heart be still,
Hleav'n and his Angels have thee in their charge,
And all things shall be well. Think not, the good,
The gentle deeds of mercy thou hast done,
Shall die forgotten all; the poor, the pris'ner,
The fatherless, the friendless, and the widow,
Who daily own the bounty of thy hand, *
Shall cry to Heav'n, and pull a blessing on thee;*
Ev'n man, the merciless insulter man,
Man, who rejoices in our sex's weakness,
Shall pity thee, and with unwonted goodness,
Forget thy failings and record thy praise.
J. Sho. Why should I think that man will do for me,
What yet he never did for wretches like me?
Mark by what partial justice we are judg'd;
Such is the fate unhappy women find,
And such the curse intail'd upon our kind,
That man, the lawless libertine, may rove,
Free and unquestion’d through the wilds of love;
While woman, sense and nature's easy fool,
If poor weak woman swerve from virtue's rule,
* See before, p. 113. + To pull down a blessing is an unusual phrase. Perhaps the author bad in mind the circumstance of Jacob wrestling for a blessing, (Genesis xxxii.) and also the following words in Mail. xi. 12. “ the “ kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by “ force." See also Luke xi. 8. and xviii. 5, 7.
Jane Shore's bounty and charities are mentioned both by Sir T. More, and in the Old Ballad: in the latter it is said,
But yet a gentle miod I bore
To helplesse people, that were poore;
I still redrest the orphans crye,
And sav'd their lives condemn'd to dye.
I still had ruth on widowes tears,
I soccour'd babes of tender years;
And never look'd for other gaine
But love and thanks for all my paine.
If, strongly charm'd, she leave the thorny way,
And in the softer paths of pleasure stray;
Ruin ensues, reproach and endless shame,
And one false step entirely damns her fame.
In vain with tears the loss she may deplore,
In vain look back on what she was before,
She sets, like stars that fall, to rise no more.
The SCENE continues. Enter Alicia, speaking to JANE SHORE as entering.
Alic. No farther, gentle friend; may angels guard you, * And spread their gracious wings about your slumbers. The drowsy night grows on the world, and now The busy craftsman and o'er-labour'd hind, Forget the travail of the day in sleep:t Care only wakes, and moping pensiveness; With meagre discontented looks they sit, And watch the wasting of the midnight taper. Such vigils must I keep; so wakes my soul, Restless and self-tormented. Oh! false Hastings! Thou hast destroy'd my peace. [Knocking without. What noise is that? What visitor is this, who, with bold freedom, Breaks in upon the peaceful night and rest, With such a rude approach?
Enter a SERVANT. Serv. One from the court, Lord Hastings (as I think) demands my Lady. [him
Alic. Hastings! Be still, my heart, and try to meet With his own arts; with falsehood_But he comes. ..
* Good angels tend thee!
Richard III. A. IV. 8. 1. + Man's o'er-labour'd sense Repairs itself by rest.
Cymbeline. A. 11. S. II. " This sore travail hath God given to the sons of men to be exer« cised therewith." Eccles, i. 13.
Enter Lord IL Stings. Speaks to a sercant as entering.
Hust. Dismiss my train, and wait alone without.
Alicia here! unfortunate encounter!
But, be it as it may. (Aside.)
Alic. When, humbly, thus,
The great descend to visit the afficted,
When, thus, unmindful of their rest, they come
To sooth the sorrows of the midnight mourner,
Comfort comes with them; like the golden sun,
Dispels the sullen shades with her sweet influence,
And chears the melancholy house of care.*
llast. 'Tis true, I would not over-rate a courtesy,
Nor let the coldness of delay hang on it
To nip and blast its favour, like a frost;
But rather chose, at this late hour, to come,
That your fair friend may know I have prevail’d;
The Lord Protector has receiv'd her suit,
And means to shew her grace.
Alic. My friend! my Lord.
Hast. Yes, Lady, yours: None has a right more ample To taskt my pow'r than you.
Alic. I want the words,
To pay you back a compliment so courtly;
But my heart guesses at the friendly meaning,
And wo'not die your debtor. I
Hast. "Tis well, Madam.
But I would see your friend..
Alic. Oh! thou false Lord!
I would be mistress of my heaving heart,
Stifle this rising rage, and learn from thee
To dress my face in easy dull indifference:
But 'two’not be; my wrongs will tear their way,
Aud rush at once upon thee.
* “ It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the “ house of feasting."" Eccles. vii. 2.
+ Therefore, let every man now task his thought, That this fair action may on foot be brought.
Henry Vth. A. 1. S. 11. I Fortune cannot recompense me better, Than to die well and not my master's deblor.
As You Like It. See before, p. 23. Note,