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My actions shall speak me. "Twere to doubt you,
To beg I may hear from you where you are ;
You cannot live obscure : nor shall one post,
By night or day, pass unexamin'd by me.
If I dwell long upon your lips, consider
After this feast the griping fast that follows;
And it will be excuseable ; pray, turn from me:
All that I can is spoken, 108
108 The good sense, rational fondness, and chastised feeling, of this dialogue, make it more valuable than many of those scenes in which this writer has attempted a deeper passion and more tragical inte. rest. Massinger had not the higher requisites of his art in any thing like the degree in which they were possessed by Ford, Webster, Tourneur, Heywood, and others. He never shakes or disturbs the mind with grief. He is read with composure and placid delight. He wrote with that equability of all the passions, which made his English style the purest and most free from violent metaphors and harsh constructions, of any of the dramatists who were his contemporaries.
A VERY WOMAN; OR, THE PRINCE OF TARENT.
A TRAGI-COMEDY. BY PHILIP MASSINGER.
Don John Antonio, Prince of Tarent, in the disguise of a
slave, recounts to the Lady Almira, she not knowing him
in that disguise, the story of his own passion for her, and · of the unworthy treatment which he found from her.
John. Not far from where my father lives, a lady, A neighbour by, blest with as great a beauty As Nature durst bestow without undoing, Dwelt, and most happily, as I thought then, And bless'd the house a thousand times she dwelt in. This beauty, in the blossom of my youth, When my first fire knew no adulterate incense, Nor I no way to flatter but my fondness, In all the bravery my friends could shew me, In all the faith my innocence could give me, In the best language my true tongue could tell me, And all the broken sighs my sick heart lend me, I sued, and serv’d. Long did I love this lady, Long was my travail, long my trade, to win her; With all the duty of my soul I serv'd her. Alm. How feelingly he speaks! And she loved you
too? It must be so.
John. I would it had, dear lady.
This story had been needless; and this place,
I think, unknown to me.
Alm. Were your bloods equal?
John. Yes; and, I thought, our hearts too.
Alm. Then she must love.
John. She did; but never me: she could not love me;
She would not love; she hated; more, she scorn'd me:
And in so poor and base a way abused me,
For all my services, for all my bounties,
So bold neglects flung on me
Alm. An ill woman!
Belike you found some rival in your love then ?
John. How perfectly she points me to my story !
Madam, I did ; and one whose pride and anger,
Ill manners, and worse mein, she doated on;
Doated, to my undoing and my ruin.
And, but for hononr to your sacred beauty,
And reverence to the noble sex, though she fall,
(As she must fall, that durst be so unnoble)
I should say something unbeseeming me.
What out of love, and worthy love, I gave her,
(Shame to her most unworthy mind) to fools,
To girls, and fidlers, to her boys she flung,
And in disdain of me,
Last, to blot me
From all remembr'ance, what I have been to her,
And how, how honestly, how nobly serv’d her,
Twas thought she set her gallant to dispatch me,
Tis true, he quarrell’d, without place, or reason;
We fought, I kill'd him ; heaven's strong hand was with
For which I lost my country, friends, acquaintance,
And put myself to sea, where a pirate took me,
And sold me here.
THE PARLIAMENT OF LOVE. A COMEDY. BY
Cleremond takes an oath to perform his mistress Leonora's plea
sure. She enjoins him to kill his best friend. He invites
Montrose to the field, under pretence of wanting him for
a second : then shews, that he must fight with him.
Cler. This is the place.
Mont. An even piece of ground,
Without advantage; but be jocund, friend :
The honour to have enter'd first the field,
However we come off, is ours.
Cler. I need not,
So well I am acquainted with your valour,
To dare, in a good cause, as much as man,
Lend you encouragement; and should I add,
Your power to do, which Fortune, howe'er blind,
Hath ever seconded, I cannot doubt
But victory still sits upon your sword,
And must not now forsake you.
Mont. You shall see me
Come boldly up; nor will I shame your cause,
By parting with an inch of ground not bought
With blood on my part.
Cler. 'Tis not to be question’d:
That which I would entreat, (and pray you grant it,)
Is, that you would forget your usual softness,
Your foe being at your mercy; it hath been
A custom in you, which I dare not praise,
Having disarm'd your enemy of his sword,
To tempt your fate, by yielding it again;
Then run a second hazard.
Mont. When we encounter
A noble foe, we cannot be too noble.
Cler. T'hat I confess; but he that's now to oppose you,
I know for an arch villain ; one that bath lost
All feeling of humanity, one that hates
Goodness in others, 'cause he's ill himself;
A most ungrateful wretch, (the name's too gentle,
All attributes of wickedness cannot reach him),
Of whom to have deserved, beyond example,
Or precedent of friendship, is a wrong
Which only death can satisfy.
Mont. You describe
A monster to me.
Cler. True, Montrose, he is so.
Africk, though fertile of strange prodigies,
Never produced his equal ; be wise, therefore,
And if he fall into your hands, dispatch him :
Pity to him is cruelty. The sad father,
That sees his son stung by a snake to death,
May, with more justice, stay his vengeful hand,
And let the worm escape, than you vouchsafe bim
A minute to repent: for 'tis a slave
So sold to bell and mischief, that a traitor
To his most lawful prince, a church-robber,
A parricide, who, when his garners are
Cramm’d with the purest grain, suffers his parents,
Being old, and weak, to starve for want of bread,
Compared to him are innocent.
Mont. I ne'er heard
Of such a cursed nature; if long-lived,
He would infect mankind : rest you assured,
He finds from me small courtesy,
Cler. And expect
As little from him; blood is that he thirsts for,
Not honourable wounds.
Mont. I would I had him
Within my sword's length!
Cler. Have thy wish: Thou hast !
(Cleremond draws his sword.)