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HARVARD 
CLASSICS 

-THE FIVE-FOOT 
SHELFOFBOOKS 



MODERN 

ENGLISH 

DRAMA 



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COLLIER 




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THE HARVARD CLASSICS 



The Five-Foot Shelf of Books 



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THE HARVARD CLASSICS 
EDITED BY CHARLES W. ELIOT, LL.D. 



Modern English Drama 

Dryden • Sheridan 

Goldsmith • Shelley • Browning 

Byron 

WjM Introductions and Notes 
\olume 1 8 




P. F. Collier & Son Corporation 

NEW YORK 



Copyright, 1909 
By p. F. Collier & Son 

manuractvkzd in u. s. a. 



CONTENTS 

ALL FOR LOVE; OR, THE WORLD WELL LOST p^oE 

Dedication 7 

Preface 13 

Prologue 21 

All for Love; or. The World Well Lost 23 

Epilogue 106 

THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 

A Portrait 109 

Prologue 113 

The School FOR Scandal 115 

Epilogue 196 

SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 

Dedication aoi 

Prologue 203 

She Stoops to Conquer; or, The Mistakes of a Night . . . 205 

THE CENCI 

Dedication 273 

Preface 275 

The Cenci 281 

A BLOT IN THE 'SCUTCHEON 
A Blot in the 'Scutcheon 359 

MANFRED 
Manfred 407 



ALL FOR LOVE 

BY 
JOHN DRYDEN 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 

The age of Elizabeth, memorable for so many reasons in the history 
of England, was especially brilliant in literature, and, within literature, 
in the drama. With some falling off in spontaneity, the impulse to great 
dramatic production lasted till the Long Parliament closed the theaters 
in 1642; and when they were reopened at the Restoration, in 1660, the 
suge orJy too faithfully reflected the debased moral tone of the court 
society of Charles II. 

John Dryden (1631-1700), the great representative figure in the litera- 
ture of the latter part of the seventeenth century, exemplifies in his work 
most of the main tendencies of the time. He came into notice with a 
poem on the death of Cromwell in 1658, and two years later was com- 
posing couplets expressing his loyalty to the returned king. He married 
Lady Elizabeth Howard, the daughter of a royalist house, and for prac- 
tically all the rest of his life remained an adherent of the Tory Party. 
In 1663 he began writing for the stage, and during the next thirty years 
he attempted nearly all the current forms of drama. His "Annus Mirabi- 
lis" (1666), celebrating the English naval victories over the Dutch, 
brought him in 1670 the Poet Laureateship. He had, meantime, begun 
the writing of those admirable critical essays, represented in the present 
series by his Preface to the "Fables" and his Dedication to the translation 
of Virgil. In these he shows himself not only a critic of sound and jsene- 
trating judgment, but the first master of modern English prose style. 

With "Absalom and Achitophel," a satire on the Whig leader, Shaftes- 
bury, Dryden entered a new phase, and achieved what is regarded as 
"the finest of all political satires." This was followed by "The Medal," 
again directed against the Whigs, and this by "Mac Flecknoe," a fierce 
attack on his enemy and rival Shadwell. The Government rewarded 
his services by a lucrative appointment. 

After triumphing in the three fields of drama, criticism, and satire, 
Dryden appears next as a religious pwet in his "Religio Laici," an expo- 
sition of the doctrines of the Church of England from a layman's point 
of view. In the same year that the Catholic James II ascended the throne, 
Dryden joined the Roman Church, and two years later defended his new 
religion in "The Hind and the Panther," an allegorical debate between 
two animals standing respectively for Catholicism and Anglicanism. 

The Revolution of 1688 put an end to Dryden's prosperity; and after 
a short return to dramatic composition, he turned to translation as a 



b INTRODUCTORY NOTE 

means of supporting himself. He had already done something in this 
line; and after a series of translations from Juvenal, Pcrsius, and Ovid, 
he undertook, at the age of sixty-three, the enormous task of turning the 
entire works of Virgil into English verse. How he succeeded in this, 
readers of the "Mneid" in a companion volume of these classics can judge 
for themselves. Dryden's production closes with the collection of narra- 
tive poems called "Fables," published in 1700, in which year he died and 
was buried in the Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey. 

Dryden lived in an age of reaction against excessive religious idealism, 
and both his character and his works are marked by the somewhat 
unheroic traits of such a period. But he was, on the whole, an honest 
man, open-minded, genial, candid, and modest; the wielder of a style, 
both in verse and prose, unmatched for clearness, vigor, and sanity. 

Three tyjxjs of comedy appeared in England in the time of Dryden — 
the comedy of humors, the comedy of intrigue, and the comedy of 
manners — and in all he did work that classed him with the ablest of his 
contemporaries. He developed the somewhat bombastic type of drama 
known as the heroic play, and brought it to its height in his "Conquest 
of Granada;" then, becoming dissatisfied with this form, he cultivated 
the French classic tragedy on the model of Racine. This he modified by 
combining with the regularity of the French treatment of dramatic action 
a richness of characterization in which he showed himself a disciple of 
Shakesf)eare, and of this mixed type his best example is "All for Love." 
Here he has the daring to challenge comparison with his master, and the 
greatest testimony to his achievement is the fact that, as Professor Noyes 
has said, "fresh from Shakespeare's 'Antony and Cleopatra,' we can still 
read with intense pleasure Dryden's version of the story." 



DEDICATION 

To the Right Honourable, Thomas, Earl of Danby, Viscount Latimer, 
and Baron Osborne of Kiveton, in Yorkshire; Lord High Treasurer 
of England, one of His Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, 
and Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. 

Mv Lord, 

The gratitude of poets is so troublesome a virtue to great men, that 
you are often in danger of your own benefits: for you are threatened with 
some epistle, and not suffered to do good in quiet, or to compound for 
their silence whom you have obliged. Yet, I confess, I neither am or 
ought to be surprised at this indulgence; for your lordship has the same 
right to favour poetry, which the great and noble have ever had — 

Carmen amat, quisquis carmine digna gerit. 

There is somewhat of a tie in nature betwixt those who are born for 
worthy actions, and those who can transmit them to posterity; and though 
ours be much the inferior part, it comes at least within the verge of 
alliance; nor are we unprofitable members of the commonwealth, when 
we animate others to those virtues, which we copy and describe from you. 

It is indeed their interest, who endeavour the subversion of govern- 
ments, to discourage poets and historians; for the best which can happen 
to them, is to be forgotten. But such who, under kings, are the fathers 
of their country, and by a just and prudent ordering of affairs preserve 
it, have the same reason to cherish the chroniclers of their actions, as they 
have to lay up in safety the deeds and evidences of their estates; for such 
records are their undoubted titles to the love and reverence of after ages. 
Your lordship's administration has already taken up a considerable part 
of the English annals; and many of its most happy years are owing to it. 
His Majesty, the most knowing judge of men, and the best master, has 
acknowledged the ease and benefit he receives in the incomes of his 
treasury, which you found not only disordered, but exhausted. All things 
were in the confusion of a chaos, without form or method, if not reduced 
beyond it, even to annihilation; so that you had not only to separate the 
jarring elements, but (if that boldness of expression might be allowed me) 
to create them. Your enemies had so embroiled the management of your 



8 DEDICATION 

office, that they looked on your advancement as the instrument of your 
ruin. And as if the clogging of the revenue, and the confusion of 
accounts, which you found in your entrance, were not sufficient, they 
added their own weight of malice to the public calamity, by forestalling 
the credit which should cure it. Your friends on the other side were only 
capable of pitying, but not of aiding you; no further help or counsel was 
remaining to you, but what was founded on yourself; and that indeed 
was your security; for your diligence, your constancy, and your prudence, 
wrought most surely within, when they were not disturbed by any out- 
ward motion. The highest virtue is best to be trusted with itself; for 
assistance only can be given by a genius superior to that which it assists; 
and it is the noblest kind of debt, when we are only obliged to God and 
nature. This then, my lord, is your just commendation, and that you 
have wrought out yourself a way to glory, by those very means that were 
designed for your destruction: You have not only restored but advanced 
the revenues of your master, without grievance to the subject; and, as if 
that were litde yet, the debts of the exchequer, which lay heaviest both 
on the crown, and on private persons, have by your conduct been estab- 
lished in a certainty of satisfaction. An action so much the more great 
and honourable, because the case was without the ordinary relief of laws; 
above the hopes of the afflicted and beyond the narrowness of the treasury 
to redress, had it been managed by a less able hand. It is certainly the 
happiest, and most unenvied part of all your fortune, to do good to many, 
while you do injury to none; to receive at once the prayers of the subject, 
and the praises of the prince; and, by the care of your conduct, to give 
him means of exerting the chiefest (if any be the chiefest) of his royal 
virtues, his distributive justice to the deserving, and his bounty and com- 
passion to the wanting. The disposition of princes towards their jjeople 
cannot be better discovered than in the choice of their ministers; who, 
like the animal spirits betwixt the soul and body, participate somewhat 
of both natures, and make the communication which is betwixt them. A 
king, who is just and moderate in his nature, who rules according to the 
laws, whom God has made happy by forming the temper of his soul to 
the constitution of his government, and who makes us happy, by assum- 
ing over us no other sovereignty than that wherein our welfare and 
liberty consists; a prince, I say, of so excellent a character, and so suitable 
to the wishes of all good men, could not better have conveyed himself 
into his people's apprehensions, than in your lordship's person; who so 
lively express the same virtues, that you seem not so much a copy, as an 
emanation of him. Moderation is doubdess an establishment of greatness; 



DEDICATION 9 

but there is a steadiness of temper which is likewise requisite in a minister 
of state; so equal a mixture of both virtues, that he may stand like an 
isthmus betwixt the two encroaching seas of arbitrary power, and lawless 
anarchy. The undertaking would be difficult to any but an extraordinary 
genius, to stand at the line, and to divide the limits; to pay what is due 
to the great representative of the nation, and neither to enhance, nor to 
yield up, the undoubted prerogatives of the crown. These, my lord, are 
the proper virtues of a noble Englishman, as indeed they are properly 
English virtues; no people in the world being capable of using them, but 
we who have the happiness to be born under so equal, and so well-poised 
a government; — a government which has all the advantages of liberty 
beyond a commonwealth, and all the marks of kingly sovereignty, with- 
out the danger of a tyranny. Both my nature, as I am an Englishman, 
and my reason, as I am a man, have bred in me a loathing to that specious 
name of a republic; that mock apf)earance of a liberty, where all who 
have not part in the government, are slaves; and slaves they are of a 
viler note, than such as are subjects to an absolute dominion. For no 
Christian monarchy is so absolute, but it is circumscribed with laws; but 
when the executive power is in the law-makers, there is no further check 
Ufmn them; and the people must suffer without a remedy, because they 
are oppressed by their representatives. If I must serve, the number of 
my masters, who were born my equals, would but add to the ignominy 
of my bondage. The nature of our government, above all others, is 
exactly suited both to the situation of our country, and the temper of the 
natives; an island being more proper for commerce and for defence, than 
for extending its dominions on the Continent; for what the valour of its 
inhabitants might gain, by reason of its remoteness, and the casualties of 
the seas, it could not so easily preserve: And, therefore, neither the arbi- 
trary power of One, in a monarchy, nor of Many, in a commonwealth, 
could make us greater than we are. It is true, that vaster and more fre- 
quent taxes might be gathered, when the consent of the people was not 
asked or needed; but this were only by conquering abroad, to be poor at 
home; and the examples of our neighbours teach us, that they are not 
always the happiest subjects, whose kings extend their dominions farthest. 
Since therefore we cannot win by an offensive war, at least, a land war, 
the model of our government seems naturally contrived for the defensive 
part; and the consent of a people is easily obtained to contribute to that 
power which must protect it. Felices nimium, bona si sua ndrint, Ang- 
ligentel And yet there are not wanting malcontents among us, who, 
surfeiting themselves on too much happiness, would persuade the people 



lO DEDICATION 

that they might be happier by a change. It was indeed the policy of their 
old forefather, when himself was fallen from the station of glory, to 
seduce mankind into the same rebellion with him, by telling him he 
might yet be freer than he was; that is more free than his nature would 
allow, or, if I may so say, than God could make him. We have already 
all the liberty which freeborn subjects can enjoy, and all beyond it is but 
licence. But if it be liberty of conscience which they pretend, the modera- 
tion of our church is such, that its practice extends not to the severity of 
persecution; and its discipline is withal so easy, that it allows more free- 
dom to dissenters than any of the sects would allow to it. In the mean- 
time, what right can be pretended by these men to attempt innovation in 
church or state? Who made them the trustees, or to speak a litde nearer 
their own language, the keepers of the liberty of England? If their call 
be extraordinary, let them convince us by working miracles; for ordinary 
vocation they can have none, to disturb the government under which they 
were born, and which protects them. He who has often changed his 
party, and always has made his interest the rule of it, gives litde evidence 
of his sincerity for the public good; it is manifest he changes but for 
himself, and takes the people for tools to work his fortune. Yet the 
experience of all ages might let him know, that they who trouble the 
waters first, have seldom the benefit of the fishing; as they who began 
the late rebellion enjoyed not the fruit of their undertaking, but were 
crushed themselves by the usurpation of their own instrument. Neither 
is it enough for them to answer, that they only intend a reformation of 
the government, but not the subversion of it: on such pretence all insur- 
rections have been founded; it is striking at the root of power, which is 
obedience. Every remonstrance of private men has the seed of treason in 
it; and discourses, which are couched in ambiguous terms, are therefore 
the more dangerous, because they do all the mischief of open sedition, yet 
are safe from the punishment of the laws. These, my lord, are con- 
siderations, which I should not pass so lighdy over, had I room to manage 
them as they deserve; for no man can be so inconsiderable in a nation, 
as not to have a share in the welfare of it; and if he be a true English- 
man, he must at the same time be fired with indignation, and revenge 
himself as he can on the disturbers of his country. And to whom could 
I more fidy apply myself than to your lordship, who have not only an 
inborn, but an hereditary loyalty? The memorable constancy and suffer- 
ings of your father, almost to the ruin of his estate, for the royal cause, 
were an earnest of that which such a parent and such an institution would 
produce in the person of a son. But so unhappy an occasion of mani- 



DEDICATION 1 1 

festing your own zeal, in suffering for his present majesty, the providence 
of God, and the prudence of your administration, will, I hop)e, prevent; 
that, as your father's fortune waited on the unhappiness of his sovereign, 
so your own may participate of the better fate which attends his son. The 
relation which you have by alliance to the noble family of your lady, 
serves to confirm to you both this happy augury. For what can deserve 
a greater place in the English chronicle, than the loyalty and courage, the 
actions and death, of the general of an army, fighting for his prince and 
country.? The honour and gallantry of the Earl of Lindsey is so illustrious 
a subject, that it is fit to adorn an heroic poem; for he was the proto- 
martyr of the cause, and the type of his unfortunate royal master. 

Yet after all, my lord, if I may sp>eak my thoughts, you are happy 
rather to us than to yourself; for the multiplicity, the cares, and the 
vexations of your employment, have betrayed you from yourself, and 
given you up into the possession of the public. You are robbed of your 
privacy and friends, and scarce any hour of your life you can call your 
own. Those, who envy your fortune, if they wanted not good-nature, 
might more jusdy pity it; and when they see you watched by a crowd of 
suitors, whose importunity it is impossible to avoid, would conclude, with 
reason, that you have lost much more in true content, than you have 
gained by dignity; and that a private gentleman is better attended by a 
single servant, than your lordship with so clamorous a train. Pardon me, 
my lord, if I speak like a philosopher on this subject; the fortune which 
makes a man uneasy, cannot make him happy; and a wise man must 
think himself uneasy, when few of his actions are in his choice. 

This last consideration has brought me to another, and a very season- 
able one for your relief; which is, that while I pity your want of leisure, 
I have impertinendy detained you so long a time. I have put off my own 
business, which was my dedication, till it is so late, that I am now 
ashamed to begin it; and therefore I will say nothing of the poem, which 
I present to you, because I know not if you are like to have an hour, 
which, with a good conscience, you may throw away in perusing it; and 
for the author, I have only to beg the continuance of your protection to 
him, who is, 

My Lord, 

Your Lordship's most obliged. 
Most humble, and 

Most obedient, servant, 
John Dryden. 



PREFACE 

The death of Antony and Cleopatra is a subject which has been treated 
by the greatest wits of our nation, after Shakespeare; and by all so 
variously, that their example has given me the confidence to try myself 
in this bow of Ulysses amongst the crowd of suitors, and, withal, to take 
my own measures, in aiming at the mark. I doubt not but the same 
motive has prevailed with all of us in this attempt; I mean the excellency 
of the moral: For the chief persons represented were famous patterns of 
unlawful love; and their end accordingly was unfortunate. All reason- 
able men have long since concluded, that the hero of the f)oem ought 
not to be a character of perfect virtue, for then he could not, without 
injustice, be made unhappy; nor yet altogether wicked, because he could 
not then be pitied. I have therefore steered the middle course; and have 
drawn the character of Antony as favourably as Plutarch, Appian, and 
Dion Cassius would give me leave; the like I have observed in Cleopatra. 
That which is wanting to work up the pity to a greater height, was not 
afforded me by the story; for the crimes of love, which they both com- 
mitted, were not occasioned by any necessity, or fatal ignorance, but were 
wholly voluntary; since our passions are, or ought to be, within our 
power. The fabric of the play is regular enough, as to the inferior parts 
of it; and the unities of time, place, and action, more exacdy observed, 
than perhaps the English theatre requires. Particularly, the action is so 
much one, that it is the only one of the kind without episode, or under- 
plot; every scene in the tragedy conducing to the main design, and every 
act concluding with a turn of it. The greatest error in the contrivance 
seems to be in the person of Octavia; for, though I might use the privilege 
of a poet, to introduce her into Alexandria, yet I had not enough con- 
sidered, that the compassion she moved to herself and children was 
destructive to that which I reserved for Antony and Cleopatra; whose 
mutual love being founded upon vice, must lessen the favour of the audi- 
ence to them, when virtue and innocence were oppressed by it. And, 
though I justified Antony in some measure, by making Octavia's depar- 
ture to proceed wholly from herself; yet the force of the first machine 
still remained; and the dividing of pity, like the cutting of a river into 
many channels, abated the strength of the natural stream. But this is an 
objection which none of my critics have urged against me; and there- 
's 



14 PREFACE 

fore I might have let it pass, if I could have resolved to have been partial 
to myself. The faults my enemies have found are rather cavils concern- 
ing litde and not essential decencies; which a master of the ceremonies 
may decide betwixt us. The French poets, I confess, are strict observers 
of these punctilios: They would not, for example, have suffered Cleo- 
patra and Octavia to have met; or, if they had met, there must have 
only passed betwixt them some cold civilities, but no eagerness of repartee, 
for fear of offending against the greatness of their characters, and the 
modesty of their sex. This objection I foresaw, and at the same time 
contemned; for 1 judged it both natural and probable, that Octavia, proud 
of her new-gained conquest, would search out Cleopatra to triumph over 
her; and that Cleopatra, thus attacked, was not of a spirit to shun the 
encounter: And it is not unlikely, that two exasperated rivals should use 
such satire as I have put into their mouths; for, after all, though the one 
were a Roman, and the other a queen, they were both women. It is true, 
some actions, though natural, are not fit to be represented; and broad 
obscenities in words ought in good manners to be avoided: expressions 
therefore are a modest clothing of our thoughts, as breeches and petti- 
coats are of our bodies. If I have kept myself within the bounds of 
modesty, all beyond, it is but nicety and affectation; which is no more but 
modesty depraved into a vice. They betray themselves who are too quick 
of apprehension in such cases, and leave all reasonable men to imagine 
worse of them, than of the poet. 

Honest Montaigne goes yet further: Nous ne sommes que ciremonie; 
la ceremonie nous emporte, et laissons la substance des choses. Nous 
nous tenons aux branches, et abandonnons le tronc et le corps. Nous 
avons appris aux dames de rougir, oyans seulement nommer ce qu'elles 
ne craignent aucunement i faire: Nous n'osons appeller i droit nos mem- 
bres, et ne craignons pas de les employer d toute sorte de debauche. La 
ceremonie nous defend d'exprimer par paroles les choses licites et natur- 
elles, et nous I'en croyons; la raison nous defend de n'en faire point 
d'illicites et mauvaises, et personne ne I'en croit. My comfort is, that by 
this opinion my enemies are but sucking critics, who would fain be 
nibbling ere their teeth are come. 

Yet, in this nicety of manners does the excellency of French poetry 
consist. Their heroes are the most civil people breathing; but their good 
breeding seldom extends to a word of sense; all their wit is in their 
ceremony; they want the genius which animates our stage; and there- 
fore it is but necessary, when they cannot please, that they should take 
care not to offend. But as the civilest man in the company is commonly 



PREFACE 15 

the dullest, so these authors, while they are afraid to make you laugh or 
cry, out of pure good manners make you sleep. They are so careful not 
to exasperate a critic, that they never leave him any work; so busy with 
the broom, and make so clean a riddance that there is little left either for 
censure or for praise: For no part of a f)oem is worth our discommending, 
where the whole is insipid; as when we have once tasted of palled wine, 
we stay not to examine it glass by glass. But while they affect to shine 
in trifles, they are often careless in essentials. Thus, their Hippolytus 
is so scrupulous in pwint of decency, that he will rather expwse himself 
to death, than accuse his stepmother to his father; and my critics I am 
sure will commend him for it. But we of grosser apprehensions are apt 
to think that this excess of generosity is not practicable, but with fools 
and madmen. This was good manners with a vengeance; and the audi- 
ence is like to be much concerned at the misfortunes of this admirable 
hero. But take Hippolytus out of his poetic fit, and I suppose he would 
think it a wiser part to set the saddle on the right horse, and choose rather 
to live with the reputation of a plain-spoken, honest man, than to die 
with the infamy of an incestuous villain. In the meantime we may take 
notice, that where the poet ought to have preserved the character as it 
was delivered to us by antiquity, when he should have given us the pic- 
ture of a rough young man, of the Amazonian strain, a jolly huntsman, 
and both by his profession and his early rising a mortal enemy to love, 
he has chosen to give him the turn of gallantry, sent him to travel from 
Athens to Paris, taught him to make love, and transformed the Hipf)o- 
lytus of Euripides into Monsieur Hippolyte. I should not have troubled 
myself thus far with French poets, but that I find our Chedrcux critics 
wholly form their judgments by them. But for my part, I desire to be 
tried by the laws of my own country; for it seems unjust to me, that the 
French should prescribe here, till they have conquered. Our little sonnet- 
eers, who follow them, have too narrow souls to judge of poetry. Poets 
themselves are the most proper, though I conclude not the only critics. 
But till some genius, as universal as Aristotle, shall arise, one who can 
penetrate into all arts and sciences, without the practice of them, I shall 
think it reasonable, that the judgment of an artificer in his own art should 
be preferable to the opinion of another man; at least where he is not 
bribed by interest, or prejudiced by malice. And this, I suppose, is mani- 
fest by plain inductions: For, first, the crowd cannot be presumed to have 
more than a gross instinct of what pleases or displeases them: Every man 
will grant me this; but then, by a particular kindness to himself, he 
draws his own stake first, and will be distinguished from the multitude. 



I 6 PREFACE 

of which other men may think him one. But, if I come closer to those 
who are allowed for witty men, either by the advantage of their quality, 
or by common fame, and affirm that neither are they qualified to decide 
sovereignly concerning poetry, I shall yet have a strong party of my 
opinion; for most of them severally will exclude the rest, either from the 
number of witty men, or at least of able judges. But here again they are 
all indulgent to themselves; and every one who believes himself a wit, 
that is, every man, will pretend at the same time to a right of judging. 
But to press it yet further, there are many witty men, but few poets; 
neither have all poets a taste of tragedy. And this is the rock on which 
they are daily splitting. Poetry, which is a picture of nature, must 
generally please; but it is not to be understood that all parts of it must 
please every man; therefore is not tragedy to be judged by a witty man, 
whose taste is only confined to comedy. Nor is every man, who loves 
tragedy, a sufficient judge of it; he must understand the excellences of 
it too, or he will only prove a blind admirer, not a critic. From hence it 
comes that so many satires on f)oets, and censures of their writings, fly 
abroad. Men of pleasant conversation (at least esteemed so), and endued 
with a trifling kind of fancy, perhaps helped out with some smattering of 
Latin, are ambitious to distinguish themselves from the herd of gentle- 
men, by their poetry — 

Rarus enim iermi tenius communis in illi 
fortund. 

And is not this a wretched affectation, not to be contented with what 
fortune has done for them, and sit down quietly with their estates, but 
they must call their wits in question, and needlessly expwse their naked- 
ness to public view? Not considering that they are not to expect the 
same approbation from sober men, which they have found from their 
flatterers after the third botde. If a little glittering in discourse has passed 
them on us for witty men, where was the necessity of undeceiving the 
world? Would a man who has an ill title to an estate, but yet is in 
possession of it; would he bring it of his own accord, to be tried at West- 
minster? We who write, if we want the talent, yet have the excuse that 
we do it for a poor subsistence; but what can be urged in their defence, 
who, not having the vocation of poverty to scribble, out of mere wanton- 
ness take pains to make themselves ridiculous? Horace was certainly in 
the right, where he said, "That no man is satisfied with his own condi- 
tion." A poet is not pleased, because he is not rich; and the rich are dis- 
contented, because the poets will not admit them of their number. Thus 



PREFACE 17 

the case is hard with writers: If they succeed not, they must starve; and 
if they do, some malicious satire is prepared to level them, for daring to 
please without their leave. But while they are so eager to destroy the 
fame of others, their ambition is manifest in their concernment; some 
poem of their own is to be produced, and the slaves are to be laid flat 
with their faces on the ground, that the monarch may appear in the 
greater majesty. 

Dionysius and Nero had the same longings, but with all their power 
they could never bring their business well about. 'Tis true, they pro- 
claimed themselves poets by sound of trumpet; and poets they were, upon 
pain of death to any man who durst call them otherwise. The audience 
had a fine time on't, you may imagine; they sat in a bodily fear, and 
looked as demurely as they could: for it was a hanging matter to laugh 
unseasonably; and the tyrants were suspicious, as they had reason, that 
their subjects had them in the wind; so, every man, in his own defence, 
set as good a face upon the business as he could. It was known before- 
hand that the monarchs were to be crowned laureates; but when the 
show was over, and an honest man was suffered to depart quietly, he 
took out his laughter which he had stifled, with a Arm resolution never 
more to see an emperor's play, though he had been ten years a-making it. 
In the meantime the true poets were they who made the best markets: 
for they had wit enough to yield the prize with a good grace, and not 
contend with him who had thirty legions. They were sure to be rewarded, 
if they confessed themselves bad writers, and that was somewhat better 
than to be martyrs for their reputation. Lucan's example was enough to 
teach them manners; and after he was put to death, for overcoming Nero, 
the emperor carried it without dispute for the best poet in his dominions. 
No man was ambitious of that grinning honour; for if he heard the 
malicious trumpeter proclaiming his name before his betters, he knew 
there was but one way with him. Maicenas took another course, and we 
know he was more than a great man, for he was witty too: But finding 
himself far gone in poetry, which Seneca assures us was not his talent, 
he thought it his best way to be well with Virgil and with Horace; that 
at least he might be a poet at the second hand; and we see how happily 
it has succeeded with him; for his own bad p)oetry is forgotten, and their 
panegyrics of him still remain. But they who should be our patrons are 
for no such expensive ways to fame; they have much of the p)oetry of 
Maecenas, but little of his liberality. They are for prosecuting Horace 
and Virgil, in the persons of their successors; for such is every man who 
has any part of their soul and fire, though in a less degree. Some of their 



I 8 PREFACE 

little zanies yet go further; for they are persecutors even of Horace 
himself, as far as they are able, by their ignorant and vile imitations of 
him; by making an unjust use of his authority, and turning his artillery 
against his friends. But how would he disdain to be copied by such 
hands! I dare answer for him, he would be more uneasy in their com- 
ftany, than he was with Crispinus, their forefather, in the Holy Way; 
and would no more have allowed them a place amongst the critics, than 
he would Demetrius the mimic, and Tigellius the buffoon; 



Demetri, leque, Tigelli, 



Disdpulorum inter jubco plorare cathedral. 

With what scorn would he look down on such miserable translators, who 
make doggerel of his Latin, mistake his meaning, misapply his censures, 
and often contradict their own? He is fixed as a landmark to set out the 
bounds of poetry — 



■Saxum antiquum, ingens, — 



Limes agro positus, litem ut discemeret artns. 

But other arms than theirs, and other sinews are required, to raise the 
weight of such an author; and when they would toss him against 
enemies — 

Genua lahant, gelidui concrevit frigore tanguis. 
Turn lapis ipse viri, vacuum per inane volatus. 
Nee spatium etiasit totum, nee pertulit ictum. 

For my part, I would wish no other revenge, either for myself, or the 
rest of the poets, from this rhyming judge of the twelve-f)enny gallery, 
this legitimate son of Sternhold, than that he would subscribe his name 
to his censure, or (not to tax him beyond his learning) set his mark: 
For, should he own himself publicly, and come from behind the lion's 
skin, they whom he condemns would be thankful to him, they whom he 
praises would choose to be condemned; and the magistrates, whom he 
has elected, would modestly withdraw from their employment, to avoid 
the scandal of his nomination. The sharpness of his satire, next to him- 
self, falls most heavily on his friends, and they ought never to forgive 
him for commending them {perpetually the wrong way, and sometimes 
by contraries. If he have a friend, whose hastiness in writing is his great- 
est fault, Horace would have taught him to have minced the matter, and 
to have called it readiness of thought, and a flowing fancy; for friendship 
will allow a man to christen an imperfection by the name of some neigh- 
bour virtue — 



PREFACE 19 

Vellem in amidtii sic e r r arem us; et isti 
Errori nomen virtus posuisset honestum. 

But he would never have allowed him to have called a slow man hasty, 
or a hasty writer a slow drudge, as Juvenal explains it — 

• Cambus pigris, scabicque vettistd 



Lavihus, et sicca lamhentihus ora lucerna, 
Nomen erit, Pardus, Tigris, Leo; si quid adhuc est 
Quod jremil in terris violentius. 

Yet Lucretius laughs at a foolish lover, even for excusing the imperfec- 
tions of his mistress — 

Nigra fuMxpoot est, immunda et joelida txoaiiot 
Balba loqui nan quit, rpouXtfei; muta pudens est, etc 

But to drive it ad /Ethiopetn cygnum is not to be endured. I leave him 
to interpret this by the benefit of his French version on the other side, and 
without further considering him, than I have the rest of my illiterate 
censors, whom I have disdained to answer, because they are not qualified 
for judges. It remains that I acquaint the reader, that I have endeavoured 
in this play to follow the practice of the ancients, who, as Mr. Rymer has 
judiciously observed, are and ought to be our masters. Horace likewise 
gives it for a rule in his art of poetry — 

Vos exemplaria Grtrca 



Nocturnd versate manu, versate diumd. 

Yet, though their models are regular, they are too little for English 
tragedy; which requires to be built in a larger compass. I could give an 
instance in the Oedipus Tyrannus, which was the masterpiece of Sopho- 
cles; but I reserve it for a more fit occasion, which I hope to have here- 
after. In my style, I have professed to imitate the divine Shakespeare; 
which that I might perform more freely, I have disencumbered myself 
from rhyme. Not that I condemn my former way, but that this is more 
proper to my present purpose. I hofje I need not to explain myself, that 
I have not copied my author servilely: Words and phrases must of 
necessity receive a change in succeeding ages; but it is almost a miracle 
that much of his language remains so pure; and that he who began 
dramatic poetry amongst us, untaught by any, and as Ben Jonson tells 
us, without learning, should by the force of his own genius perform so 
much, that in a manner he has left no praise for any who come after 
him. The occasion is fair, and the subject would be pleasant to handle 
the difference of styles betwixt him and Fletcher, and wherein, and how 
far they are both to be imitated. But since I must not be over<onfident 



20 PREFACE 

of my own performance after him, it will be prudence in me to be silent. 
Yet, I hope, I may affirm, and without vanity, that, by imitating him, 
I have excelled myself throughout the play; and particularly, that I prefer 
the scene betwixt Antony rnd Ventidius in the first act, to anything 
which I have written in this kind. 



PROLOGUE 

What flocks of critics hover here to-day, 
As vultures wait on armies for their prey, 
All gaping for the carcase of a play 1 
With croaking notes they bode some dire event, 
And follow dying poets by the scent. 
Ours gives himself for gone; y' have watched your time: 
He fights this day unarmed, — without his rhyme; — 
And brings a tale which often has been told; 
As sad as Dido's; and almost as old. 
His hero, whom you wits his bully call, 
Bates of his mettle, and scarce rants at all; 
He's somewhat lewd; but a well-meaning mind; 
Weeps much; fights litde; but is wond'rous kind. 
In short, a pattern, and companion fit. 
For all the keeping Tonies of the pit. 
I could name more: a wife, and mistress too; 
Both (to be plain) too good for most of you: 
The wife well-natured, and the mistress true. 
Now, fxjets, if your fame has been his care, 
Allow him all the candour you can spare. 
A brave man scorns to quarrel once a day; 
Like Hectors in at every petty fray. 
Let those find fault whose wit's so very small, 
TTiey've need to show that they can think at all; 
Errors, like straws, upon the surface flow; 
He who would search for pearls, must dive below. 
Fops may have leave to level all they can; 
As pigmies would be glad to lop a man. 
Half-wits are fleas; so little and so light, 
We scarce could know they live, but that they bite. 
But, as the rich, when tired with daily feasts. 
For change, become their next poor tenant's guests; 
Drink hearty draughts of ale from plain brown bowls, 
And snatch the homely rasher from the coals: 
So you, retiring from much better cheer, 



22 PROLOGUE 

For once, may venture to do penance here. 
And since that plenteous autumn now is past, 
Whose grapes and peaches have indulged your taste. 
Take in good part, from our poor poet's board. 
Such rivelled fruits as winter can afford. 



ALL FOR LOVE 

OR 

THE WORLD WELL LOST 
A TRAGEDY 

DRAMATIS PERSON/E 

Mark Antony. Alexas, the Queen's Eunuch. 

Ventidius, his General. Serapion, Priest of Isis. 

DoLABELLA, hts Friend. Mvris, another Priest. 

Servants to Antony. 

Cleopatra Queen of Egypt. Charm.on. jceopatra's Maids. 
Oct A VI A, Antony s Wife. Iras, J '^ 

Antony's two little Daughters. 

SCENE. — A lexandria. 

ACT I 

Scene I. — The Temple of Isis. 
Enter Serapion, Myris, Priests of Isis 
Serapion 

PORTENTS and prodigies have grown so frequent, 
That they have lost their name. Our fruitful Nile 
Flowed ere the wonted season, with a torrent 
So unexpected, and so wondrous fierce. 
That the wild deluge overtook the haste 
Even of the hinds that watched it: Men and beasts 
Were borne above the tops of trees, that grew 
On the utmost margin of the water-mark. 
Then, with so swift an ebb the flood drove backward. 
It slipt from underneath the scaly herd: 
Here monstrous phocac panted on the shore; 
Forsaken dolphins there with their broad tails, 

23 



24 JOHN DRYDEN 

Lay lashing the departing waves: hard by them, 

Sea horses floundering in the slimy mud, 

Tossed up their heads, and dashed the ooze about them. 

Enter Alexas behind them 

Myr. Avert these omens, Heaven! 

Serap. Last night, between the hours of twelve and one, 
In a lone aisle of the temple while I walked, 
A whirlwind rose, that, with a violent blast. 
Shook all the dome: the doors around me clapt; 
The iron wicket, that defends the vault, 
Where the long race of Ptolemies is laid. 
Burst open, and disclosed the mighty dead. 
From out each monument, in order placed. 
An armed ghost starts up: the boy-king last 
Reared his inglorious head. A peal of groans 
Then followed, and a lamentable voice 
Cried, Egypt is no morel My blood ran back, 
My shaking knees against each other knocked; 
On the cold pavement down I fell entranced. 
And so unfinished left the horrid scene. 

Alex. And dreamed you this ? or did invent the story, 

[Showing himself. 
To frighten our Egyptian boys withal, 
And train them up, betimes, in fear of priesthood? 

Serap. My lord, I saw you not. 
Nor meant my words should reach your ears; but what 
I uttered was most true. 

Alex. A foolish dream. 
Bred from the fumes of indigested feasts. 
And holy luxury. 

Serap. I know my duty: 
This goes no further. 

Alex. 'Tis not fit it should; 
Nor would the times now bear it, were it true. 
All southern, from yon hills, the Roman camp 
Hangs o'er us black and threatening like a storm 



ALL FOR LOVE 25 

Just breaking on our heads. 

Scrap. Our faint Egyptians pray for Antony; 
But in their servile hearts they own Octavius. 

Myr. Why then does Antony dream out his hours. 
And tempts not fortune for a noble day, 
Which might redeem what Actium lost? 

Alex. He thinks 'tis past recovery. 

Scrap. Yet the foe 
Seems not to press the siege. 

Alex. Oh, there's the wonder. 
Maecenas and Agrippa, who can most 
With Cajsar, are his foes. His wife Octavia, 
Driven from his house, solicits her revenge; 
And Dolabella, who was once his friend. 
Upon some private grudge, now seeks his ruin: 
Yet still war seems on either side to sleep. 

Scrap. 'Tis strange that Antony, for some days past, 
Has not beheld the face of Cleopatra; 
But here, in Isis' temple, lives retired, 
And makes his heart a prey to black despair. 

Alex. 'Tis true; and we much fear he hopes by absence 
To cure his mind of love. 

Scrap. If he be vanquished, 
Or make his peace, Egypt is doomed to be 
A Roman province; and our plenteous harvests 
Must then redeem the scarceness of their soil. 
While Antony stood firm, our Alexandria 
Rivalled proud Rome (dominion's other seat), 
And fortune striding, like a vast Colossus, 
Could fix an equal foot of empire here. 

Alex. Had I my wish, these tyrants of all nature. 
Who lord it o'er mankind, should perish, — perish 
Each by the other's sword; But, since our will 
Is lamely followed by our power, we must 
Depend on one; with him to rise or fall. 

Scrap. How stands the queen affected? 

Alex. Oh, she dotes, 



26 JOHN DRYDEN 

She dotes, Serapion, on this vanquished man, 
And winds herself about his mighty ruins; 
Whom would she yet forsake, yet yield him up, 
This hunted prey, to his pursuer's hands. 
She might preserve us all: but 'tis in vain — 
This changes my designs, this blasts my counsels, 
And makes me use all means to keep him here. 
Whom I could wish divided from her arms, 
Far as the earth's deep centre. Well, you know 
The state of things; no more of your ill omens 
And black prognostics; labour to confirm 
The people's hearts. 

Enter Ventidius, tallying aside with a 
Gentleman of Antony's 

Scrap. These Romans will o'erhear us. 
But who's that stranger? By his warlike port. 
His fierce demeanour, and erected look, 
He's of no vulgar note. 

Alex. Oh, 'tis Ventidius, 
Our emperor's great lieutenant in the East, 
Who first showed Rome that Parthia could be conquered. 
When Antony returned from Syria last, 
He left this man to guard the Roman frontiers. 

Scrap. You seem to know him well. 

Alex. Too well. I saw him at Cilicia first, 
When Cleopatra there met Antony: 
A mortal foe he was to us, and Egypt. 
But, — let me witness to the worth I hate, — 
A braver Roman never drew a sword; 
Firm to his prince, but as a friend, not slave. 
He ne'er was of his pleasures; but presides 
O'er all his cooler hours, and morning counsels: 
In short the plainness, fierceness, rugged virtue, 
Of an old true-stampt Roman lives in him. 
His coming bodes I know not what of ill 
To our affairs. Withdraw to mark him better; 



ALL FOR LOVE TJ 

And I'll acquaint you why I sought you here, 
And what's our present work. 

YThey withdraw to a corner of the stage; and Ven- 
TiDius, with the other, comes forward to the front. 

Vent. Not see him; say you? 
I say, I must, and will. 

Gent. He has commanded, 
On pain of death, none should approach his presence. 

Vent. I bring him news will raise his drooping spirits. 
Give him new life. 

Gent. He sees not Cleopatra. 

Vent. Would he had never seen her! 

Gent. He eats not, drinks not, sleeps not, has no use 
Of anything, but thought; or if he talks, 
'Tis to himself, and then 'tis perfect raving: 
Then he defies the world, and bids it pass, 
Sometimes he gnaws his lips, and curses loud 
The boy Octavius; then he draws his mouth 
Into a scornful smile, and cries, "Take all. 
The world's not worth my care." 

Vent. Just, just his nature. 
Virtue's his path; but sometimes 'tis too narrow 
For his vast soul; and then he starts out wide, 
And bounds into a vice, that bears him far 
From his first course, and plunges him in ills: 
But, when his danger makes him find his faults, 
Quick to observe, and full of sharp remorse. 
He censures eagerly his own misdeeds. 
Judging himself with malice to himself, 
And not forgiving what as man he did. 
Because his other parts are more than man. — 
He must not thus be lost. 

[Alexas and the Priests come forward. 

Alex. You have your full instructions, now advance. 
Proclaim your orders loudly. 

Serap. Romans, Egyptians, hear the queen's command. 
Thus Cleopatra bids: Let labour cease; 



28 JOHN DRYDEN 

To pomp and triumphs give this happy day. 
That gave the world a lord: 'tis Antony's. 
Live, Antony; and Cleopatra live! 
Be this the general voice sent up to heavea 
And every public place repeat this echo. 

Vent. Fine pageantry! [Aside. 

Scrap. Set out before your doors 
The images of all your sleeping fathers. 
With laurels crowned; with laurels wreath your posts. 
And strew with flowers the pavement; let the priests 
Do present sacrifice; pour out the wine. 
And call the gods to join with you in gladness. 

Vent. Curse on the tongue that bids this general joyl 
Can they be friends of Antony, who revel 
When Antony's in danger? Hide, for shame. 
You Romans, your great grandsires' images, 
For fear their souls should animate their marbles, 
To blush at their degenerate progeny. 

Alex. A love, which knows no bounds, to Antony, 
Would mark the day with honours, when all heaven 
Laboured for him, when each propitious star 
Stood wakeful in his orb, to watch that hour 
And shed his better influence. Her own birthday 
Our queen neglected like a vulgar fate, 
That passed obscurely by. 

Vent. Would it had slept. 
Divided far from his; till some remote 
And future age had called it out, to ruin 
Some other prince, not him! 

Alex. Your emperor. 
Though grown unkind, would be more gentle, than 
To upbraid my queen for loving him too well. 

Vent. Does the mute sacrifice upbraid the priest! 
He knows him not his executioner. 
Oh, she has decked his ruin with her love, 
Led him in golden bands to gaudy slaughter. 
And made perdition pleasing: She has left him 



ALL FOR LOVE 29 

The blank of what he was. 

I tell thee, eunuch, she has quite unmanned him. 

Can any Roman see, and know him now, 

Thus altered from the lord of half mankind, 

Unbent, unsinewed, made a woman's toy. 

Shrunk from the vast extent of all his honours. 

And crampt within a corner of the world ? 

O Antony! 

Thou bravest soldier, and thou best of friends! 

Bounteous as nature; next to nature's God! 

Couldst thou but make new worlds, so wouldst thou give them, 

As bounty were thy being! rough in battle, 

As the first Romans when they went to war; 

Yet after victory more pitiful 

Than all their praying virgins left at home! 

Alex. Would you could add, to those more shining virtues, 
His truth to her who loves him. 

Vent. Would I could not! 
But wherefore waste I precious hours with theel 
Thou art her darling mischief, her chief engine, 
Antony's other fate. Go, tell thy queen, 
Ventidius is arrived, to end her charms. 
Let your Egyptian timbrels play alone. 
Nor mix effeminate sounds with Roman trumpets, 
You dare not fight for Antony; go pray 
And keep your cowards' holiday in temples. 

[Exeunt Alexas, Serapion. 

Re-enter the Gentleman of M. Antony 

2 Gent. The emperor approaches, and commands, 
On pain of death, that none presume to stay. 
I Gent. I dare not disobey him. 

[Going out with the other. 
Vent. Well, I dare. 
But I'll observe him first unseen, and find 
Which way his humour drives: The rest I'll venture. 

[ Withdraws. 



30 JOHN DRYDEN 

Enter Antony, wall{ing with a disturbed motion 
before he spea/^s 

Ant. They tell me, 'tis my birthday, and I'll keep it 
With double pomp of sadness. 
'Tis what the day deserves, which gave me breath. 
Why was I raised the meteor of the world, 
Hung in the skies, and blazing as I travelled. 
Till all my fires were spent; and then cast downward, 
To be trod out by Caesar? 

Vent, [aside]. On my soul, 
'Tis mournful, wondrous mournful I 

Ant. Count thy gains. 
Now, Antony, wouldst thou be born for this.' 
Glutton of fortune, thy devouring youth 
Has starved thy wanting age. 

Vent. How sorrow shakes him I [Aside. 

So, now the tempest tears him up by the roots, 
And on the ground extends the noble ruin. 

[Antony having thrown himself down. 
Lie there, thou shadow of an emperor; 
The place thou pressest on thy mother earth 
Is all thy empire now: now it contains thee; 
Some few days hence, and then 'twill be too large, 
When thou'rt contracted in thy narrow urn, 
Shrunk to a few ashes; then Octavia 
(For Cleopatra will not live to see it), 
Octavia then will have thee all her own, 
And bear thee in her widowed hand to Cxsar; 
Cxsar will weep, the crocodile will weep. 
To see his rival of the universe 
Lie still and peaceful there. I'll think no more on't. 

Ant. Give me some music, look that it be sad. 
I'll soothe my melancholy, till I swell. 

And burst myself with sighing. — [Soft music. 

'Tis somewhat to my humour; stay, I fancy 
I'm now turned wild, a commoner of nature; 
Of all forsaken, and forsaking all; 



ALL FOR LOVE 3 1 

Live in a shady forest's sylvan scene, 
Stretched at my length beneath some blasted oak, 
I lean my head upon the mossy bark, 
And look just of a piece as I grew from it; 
My uncombed locks, matted like mistletoe, 
Hang o'er my hoary face; a murm'ring brook 
Runs at my foot. 

Vent. Methinks I fancy 
Myself there too. 

Ant. The herd come jumping by me. 
And fearless, quench their thirst, while I look on. 
And take me for their fellow-citizen. 
More of this image, more; it lulls my thoughts. 

\Soft music again. 

Vent. I must disturb him; I can hold no longer. 

[Stands before him. 

Ant. [starting up]. Art thou Ventidius.'' 

Vent. Are you Antony? 
I'm liker what I was, than you to him 
I left you last. 

Ant. I'm angry. 

Vent. So am I. 

Ant. I would be private: leave me. 

Vent. Sir, I love you. 
And therefore will not leave you. 

Ant. Will not leave me! 
Where have you learnt that answer ? Who am I ? 

Vent. My emperor; the man I love next Heaven: 
If I said more, I think 'twere scarce a sin: 
You're all that's good, and god-like. 

Ant. All that's wretched. 
You will not leave me then? 

Vent. 'Twas too presuming 
To say I would not; but I dare not leave you: 
And, 'tis unkind in you to chide me hence 
So soon, when I so far have come to see you. 

Ant. Now thou hast seen me, art thou satisfied? 



32 JOHN DRYDEN 

For, if a friend, thou hast beheld enough; 
And, if a foe, too much. 

Vent. Look, emperor, this is no common dew. 

[ Weeping, 
I have not wept this forty years; but now 
My mother comes afresh into my eyes; 
I cannot help her softness. 

Ant. By heavens, he weeps! poor good old man, he weeps! 
The big round drops course one another down 
The furrows of his cheeks. — Stop them, Ventidius, 
Or I shall blush to death, they set my shame, 
That caused them, full before me. 

Vent. I'll do my best. 

Ant. Sure there's contagion in the tears of friends: 
See, I have caught it too. Believe me, 'tis not 
For my own griefs, but thine. — Nay, father! 

Vent. Emperor. 

Ant. Emperor! Why, that's the style of victory; 
The conqu'ring soldier, red with unfelt wounds, 
Salutes his general so; but never more 
Shall that sound reach my ears. 

Vent. I warrant you. 

Ant. Actium, Actium! Oh! — 

Vent. It sits too near you. 

Ant. Here, here it lies a lump of lead by day. 
And, in my short, distracted, nightly slumbers, 
The hag that rides my dreams. — 

Vent. Out with it; give it vent. 

Ant. Urge not my shame. 
I lost a battle, — 

Vent. So has Julius done. 

Ant. Thou favour'st me, and speak'st not half thou think'st; 
For Julius fought it out, and lost it fairly. 
But Antony — 

Vent. Nay, stop not. 

Ant. Antony — 
Well, thou wilt have it, — like a coward, fled. 



ALL FOR LOVE 33 

Fled while his soldiers fought; fled first, Ventidius. 
Thou long'st to curse me, and I give thee leave. 
I know thou cani'st prepared to rail. 

Vent. I did. 

Ant. I'll help thee. — I have been a man, Ventidius. 

Vent. Yes, and a brave one! but — 
Ant. I know thy meaning. 
But I have lost my reason, have disgraced 
The name of soldier, with inglorious ease. 
In the full vintage of my flowing honours, 
Sat still, and saw it prest by other hands. 
Fortune came smiling to my youth, and wooed it, 
And purple greatness met my ripened years. 
When first I came to empire, I was borne 
On tides of people, crowding to my triumphs; 
The wish of nations, and the willing world 
Received me as its pledge of future peace; 
I was so great, so happy, so beloved, 
Fate could not ruin me; till I took pains, 
And worked against my fortune, chid her from me. 
And turned her loose; yet still she came again. 
My careless days, and my luxurious nights. 
At length have wearied her, and now she's gone, 
Gone, gone, divorced for ever. Help me, soldier. 
To curse this madman, this industrious fool. 
Who laboured to be wretched : Pr'ythee, curse me. 

Vent. No. 

Ant. Why? 

Vent. You are too sensible already 
Of what you've done, too conscious of your failings; 
And, like a scorpion, whipt by others first 
To fury, sting yourself in mad revenge. 
I would bring balm, and pour it in your wounds. 
Cure your distempered mind, and heal your fortunes. 

Ant. I know thou would'st. 

Vent. I will. 

Ant. Ha, ha, ha, ha! 



34 JOHN DRYDEN 

Vent. You laugh. 

Ant. I do, to see officious love, 
Give cordials to the dead. 

Vent. You would be lost, then? 

Ant. I am. 

Vent. I say you are not. Try your fortune. 

Ant. I have, to the utmost. Dost thou think me desperate, 
Without just cause? No, when I found all lost 
Beyond repair, I hid me from the world, 
And learnt to scorn it here; which now I do 
So heartily, I think it is not worth 
The cost of keeping. 

Vent. Caesar thinks not so; 
He'll thank you for the gift he could not take. 
You would be killed like Tully, would you? do. 
Hold out your throat to Cxsar, and die tamely. 

Ant. No, I can kill myself; and so resolve. 

Vent. I can die with you too, when time shall serve; 
But fortune calls upon us now to live, 
To fight, to conquer. 

Ant. Sure thou dream'st, Ventidius. 

Vent. No; 'tis you dream; you sleep away your hours 
In desperate sloth, miscalled philosophy. 
Up, up, for honour's sake; twelve legions wait you, 
And long to call you chief: By painful journeys 
I led them, patient both of heat and hunger, 
Down from the Parthian marches to the Nile. 
'Twill do you good to see their sunburnt faces, 
Their scarred cheeks, and chopt hands: there's virtue in them. 
They'll sell those mangled limbs at dearer rates 
Than yon trim bands can buy. 

Ant. Where left you them ? 

Vent. I said in Lower Syria. 

Ant. Bring them hither; 
There may be life in these. 

Vent. They will not come. 

Ant. Why didst thou mock my hopes with promised aids, 



ALL FOR LOVE 35 

To double my despair ? They're mutinous. 

Vent. Most firm and loyal. 

Ant. Yet they will not march 
To succour me. O trifler! 

Vent. They petition 
You would make haste to head them. 

Ant. I'm besieged. 

Vent. There's but one way shut up: How came I hither? 

Ant. I will not stir. 

Vent. They would perhaps desire 
A better reason. 

Ant. I have never used 
My soldiers to demand a reason of 
My actions. Why did they refuse to march.? 

Vent. They said they would not fight for Cleopatra. 

Ant. What was't they said? 

Vent. They said they would not fight for Cleopatra. 
Why should they fight indeed, to make her conquer, 
And make you more a slave? to gain you kingdoms, 
Which, for a kiss, at your next midnight feast. 
You'll sell to her? Then she new-names her jewels. 
And calls this diamond such or such a tax; 
Each pendant in her ear shall be a province. 

Ant. Ventidius, I allow your tongue free licence 
On all my other faults; but, on your life, 
No word of Cleopatra : she deserves 
More worlds than I can lose. 

Vent. Behold, you Powers, 
To whom you have intrusted humankind! 
See Europe, Afric, Asia, put in balance. 
And all weighed down by one light, worthless woman! 
I think the gods are Antonies, and give, 
Like prodigals, this nether world away 
To none but wasteful hands. 

Ant. You grow presumptuous. 

Vent. I take the privilege of plain love to speak. 

Ant. Plain lovel plain arrogance, plain insolence! 



36 JOHN DRYDEN 

Thy men are cowards; thou, an envious traitor; 
Who, under seeming honesty, hast vented 
The burden of thy rank, o'erflowing gall. 

that thou wert my equal; great in arms 
As the first Qesar was, that I might kill thee 
Without a stain to honour! 

Vent. You may kill me; 
You have done more already, — called me traitor. 

Ant. Art thou not one? 

Vent. For showing you yourself. 
Which none else durst have done? but had I been 
That name, which I disdain to speak again, 

1 needed not have sought your abject fortunes. 
Come to partake your fate, to die with you. 

What hindered me to have led my conquering eagles 
To fill Octavius' bands? I could have been 
A traitor then, a glorious, happy traitor, 
And not have been so called. 

Ant. Forgive me, soldier; 
I've been too passionate. 

Vent. You thought me false; 
Thought my old age betrayed you: Kill me, sir. 
Pray, kill me; yet you need not, your unkindness 
Has left your sword no work. 

Ant. I did not think so; 
I said it in my rage: Pr'ythee, forgive me. 
Why didst thou tempt my anger, by discovery 
Of what I would not hear ? 

Vent. No prince but you 
Could merit that sincerity I used. 
Nor durst another man have ventured it; 
But you, ere love misled your wandering eyes, 
Were sure the chief and best of human race. 
Framed in the very pride and boast of nature; 
So perfect, that the gods, who formed you, wondered 
At their own skill, and cried — A lucky hit 
Has mended our design. Their envy hindered, 



ALL FOR LOVE 37 

Else you had been immortal, and a pattern, 
When Heaven would work for ostentation's sake 
To copy out again. 

Ant. But Cleopatra — 
Go on; for I can bear it now. 

Vent. No more. 

Ant. Thou dar'st not trust my passion, but thou may'st; 
Thou only lov'st, the rest have flattered me. 

Vent. Heaven's blessing on your heart for that kind wordl 
May I believe you love me? Speak again. 

Ant. Indeed I do. Speak this, and this, and this. 

[Hugging him. 
Thy praises were unjust; but, I'll deserve them, 
And yet mend all. Do with me what thou wilt; 
Lead me to victory! thou know'st the way. 

Vent. And, will you leave this — 

Ant. Pr'ythee, do not curse her. 
And I will leave her; though, Heaven knows, I love 
Beyond life, conquest, empire, all, but honour; 
But I will leave her. 

Vent. That's my royal master; 
And, shall we fight ? 

Ant. I warrant thee, old soldier. 
Thou shalt behold me once again in iron; 
And at the head of our old troops, that beat 
The Parthians, cry aloud — Come, follow mel 

Vent. Oh, now I hear my emperor! in that word 
Octavius fell. Gods, let me see that day. 
And, if I have ten years behind, take all: 
I'll thank you for the exchange. 

Ant. O Cleopatra! 

Vent. Again.? 

Ant. I've done: In that last sigh she went. 
Caesar shall know what 'tis to force a lover 
From all he holds most dear. 

Vent. Methinks, you breathe 
Another soul: Your looks are more divine; 



38 JOHN DRYDEN 

You speak a hero, and you move a god. 

Ant. Oh, thou hast fired me; my soul's up in arms, 
And mans each part about me : Once again, 
That noble eagerness of fight has seized me; 
That eagerness with which I darted upward 
To Cassius' camp: In vain the steepy hill 
Opposed my way; in vain a war of spears 
Sung round my head, and planted on my shield; 
I won the trenches, while my foremost men 
Lagged on the plain below. 

Vent. Ye gods, ye gods. 
For such another honour! 

Ant. Come on, my soldier! 
Our hearts and arms are still the same: I long 
Once more to meet our foes; that thou and I, 
Like Time and Death, marching before our troops, 
May taste fate to them; mow them out a passage, 
And, entering where the foremost squadrons yield, 
Begin the noble harvest of the field. [Exeunl 

ACT II 
Enter Cleopatra, Iras, and Alexas 

Cleo. What shall I do, or whither shall I turn? 
Ventidius has o'ercome, and he will go. 

Alex. He goes to fight for you. 

Cleo. Then he would see me, ere he went to fight: 
Flatter me not : If once he goes, he's lost, 
And all my hopes destroyed. 

Alex. Does this weak passion 
Become a mighty queen ? 

Cleo. I am no queen: 
Is this to be a queen, to be besieged 
By yon insulting Roman, and to wait 
Each hour the victor's chain? These ills are small: 
For Antony is lost, and I can mourn 
For nothing else but him. Now come, Octavius, 



ALL FOR LOVE 39 

I have no more to lose! prepare thy bands; 

I'm fit to be a captive: Antony 

Has taught my mind the fortune of a slave. 

Iras. Call reason to assist you. 

Cleo. I have none, 
And none would have: My love's a noble madness, 
Which shows the cause deserved it. Moderate sorrow 
Fits vulgar love, and for a vulgar man: 
But I have loved with such transcendent passion, 
I soared, at first, quite out of reason's view, 
And now am lost above it. No, I'm proud 
'Tis thus: Would Antony could see me now 
Think you he would not sigh, though he must leave me? 
Sure he would sigh; for he is noble-natured, 
And bears a tender heart: I know him well. 
Ah, no, I know him not; I knew him once, 
But now 'tis past. 

Iras. Let it be past with you: 
Forget him, madam. 

Cleo. Never, never, Iras. 
He once was mine; and once, though now 'tis gone. 
Leaves a faint image of possession still. 

Alex. Think him inconstant, cruel, and ungrateful. 

Cleo. I cannot : If I could, those thoughts were vain. 
Faithless, ungrateful, cruel, though he be, 
I still must love him. 

Enter Charmion 

Now, what news, my Charmion ? 

Will he be kind? and will he not forsake me? 

Am I to live, or die? — nay, do I live? 

Or am I dead ? for when he gave his answer. 

Fate took the word, and then I lived or died. 

Char. I found him, madam — 

Cleo. A long speech preparing? 
If thou bring'st comfort, haste, and give it me. 
For never was more need. 



40 JOHN DRYDEN 

Iras. I know he loves you. 

Cleo. Had he been kind, her eyes had told me so, 
Before her tongue could speak it: Now she studies, 
To soften what he said; but give me death. 
Just as he sent it, Charmion, undisguised, 
And in the words he spoke. 

Char. I found him, then, 
Encompassed round, I think, with iron statues; 
So mute, so motionless his soldiers stood. 
While awfully he cast his eyes about. 
And every leader's hopes or fears surveyed : 
Methought he looked resolved, and yet not pleased. 
When he beheld me struggling in the crowd. 
He blushed, and bade make way. 

Alex. There's comfort yet. 

Char. Ventidius fixed his eyes upon my passage 
Severely, as he meant to frown me back, 
And sullenly gave place: I told my message, 
Just as you gave it, broken and disordered; 
I numbered in it all your sighs and tears, 
And while I moved your pitiful request, 
That you but only begged a last farewell. 
He fetched an inward groan; and every time 
I named you, sighed, as if his heart were breaking. 
But, shunned my eyes, and guiltily looked down: 
He seemed not now that awful Antony, 
Who shook an armed assembly with his nod; 
But, making show as he would rub his eyes, 
Disguised and blotted out a falling tear. 

Cleo. Did he then weep ? And was I worth a tear ? 
If what thou hast to say be not as pleasing. 
Tell me no more, but let me die contented. 

Char. He bid me say,— He knew himself so well, 
He could deny you nothing, if he saw you; 
And therefore — 

Cleo. Thou wouldst say, he would not see me? 

Char. And therefore begged you not to use a power, 



ALL FOR LOVE 4! 

Which he could ill resist; yet he should ever 
Respect you, as he ought. 

Cleo. Is that a word 
For Antony to use to Cleopatra? 
O that faint word, respect! how I disdain it! 
Disdain myself, for loving after it! 
He should have kept that word for cold Octavia. 
Respect is for a wife: Am I that thing. 
That dull, insipid lump, without desires. 
And without power to give them ? 

Alex. You misjudge; 
You see through love, and that deludes your sight; 
As, what is straight, seems crooked through the water: 
But I, who bear my reason undisturbed, 
Can see this Antony, this dreaded man, 
A fearful slave, who fain would run away, 
And shuns his master's eyes: If you pursue him, 
My life on't, he still drags a chain along. 
That needs must clog his flight. 
Cleo. Could I believe thee! — 
Alex. By every circumstance I know he loves. 

True, he's hard prest, by interest and by honour; 

Yet he but doubts, and parleys, and casts out 

Many a long look for succour. 
Cleo. He sends word, 

He fears to see my face. 
Alex. And would you more? 

He shows his weakness who declines the combat. 

And you must urge your fortune. Could he speak 

More plainly? To my ears, the message sounds — 

Come to my rescue, Cleopatra, come; 

Come, free me from Ventidius; from my tyrant: 

See me, and give me a pretence to leave him! — 

I hear his trumpets. This way he must pass. 

Please you, retire a while; I'll work him first, 

That he may bend more easy. 
Cleo. You shall rule me; 



42 JOHN DRYDEN 

But all, I fear, in vain. [Exit with Charmion and Iras. 

Alex. I fear so too; 
Though I concealed my thoughts, to make her bold; 
But 'tis our utmost means, and fate befriend it! 

[ Withdraws. 

Enter Lictors with Fasces; one bearing the Eagle; then enter 
Antony with Ventidius, followed by other Commanders 

Ant. Octavius is the minion of blind chance. 
But holds from virtue nothing. 

Vent. Has he courage? 

Ant. But just enough to season him from coward. 
Oh, 'tis the coldest youth upon a charge. 
The most deliberate fighter! if he ventures 
(As in Illyria once, they say, he did, 
To storm a town), 'tis when he cannot choose; 
When all the world have fixt their eyes upon him; 
And then he lives on that for seven years after; 
But, at a close revenge he never fails. 

Vent. I heard you challenged him. 

Ant. I did, Ventidius. 
What think'st thou was his answer? 'Twas so tame! — 
He said, he had more ways than one to die; 
I had not. 

Vent. Poor! 

Ant. He has more ways than one; 
But he would choose them all before that one. 

Vent. He first would choose an ague, or a fever. 

Ant. No; it must be an ague, not a fever; 
He has not warmth enough to die by that. 

Vent. Or old age and a bed. 

Ant. Ay, there's his choice, 
He would live, like a lamp, to the last wink. 
And crawl the utmost verge of life. 
O Hercules! Why should a man like this. 
Who dares not trust his fate for one great action. 
Be all the care of Heaven? Why should he lord it 



ALL FOR LOVE 43 

O'er fourscore thousand men, of whom each one 
Is braver than himself? 

Vent. You conquered for him: 
Philippi knows it; there you shared with him 
That empire, which your sword made all your own. 

Ant. Fool that I was, upon my eagle's wings 
I bore this wren, till I was tired with soaring. 
And now he mounts above me. 

Good heavens, is this, — is this the man who braves me? 
Who bids my age make way? Drives me before him, 
To the world's ridge, and sweeps me off like rubbish? 

Vent. Sir, we lose time; the troops are mounted all. 

Ant. Then give the word to march: 
I long to leave this prison of a town, 
To join thy legions; and, in open field. 
Once more to show my face. Lead, my deliverer. 

Enter Alexas 

Alex. Great emperor. 
In mighty arms renowned above mankind. 
But, in soft pity to the opprest, a god; 
This message sends the mournful Cleopatra 
To her departing lord. 

Vent. Smooth sycophant! 

Alex. A thousand wishes, and ten thousand prayers. 
Millions of blessings wait you to the wars; 
Millions of sighs and tears she sends you too, 
And would have sent 
As many dear embraces to your arms. 
As many parting kisses to your lips; 
But those, she fears, have wearied you already. 

Vent, [aside]. False crocodile! 

Alex. And yet she begs not now, you would not leave her; 
That were a wish too mighty for her hopes. 
Too presuming 

For her low fortune, and your ebbing love; 
That were a wish for her more prosperous days, 



44 JOHN DRYDEN 

Her blooming beauty, and your growing kindness. 

Ant. [aside]. Well, I must man it out: — What would the 
queen? 

Alex. First, to these noble warriors, who attend 
Your daring courage in the chase of fame, — 
Too daring, and too dangerous for her quiet, — 
She humbly recommends all she holds dear, 
All her own cares and fears, — the care of you. 

Vent. Yes, witness Actium. 

Ant. Let him speak, Ventidius. 

Alex. You, when his matchless valour bears him forward. 
With ardour too heroic, on his foes. 
Fall down, as she would do, before his feet; 
Lie in his way, and stop the paths of death: 
Tell him, this god is not invulnerable; 
That absent Cleopatra bleeds in him; 
And, that you may remember her petition, 
She begs you wear these trifles, as a pawn. 
Which, at your wished return, she will redeem 

[Git/es jewels to the Commanders. 
With all the wealth of Egypt : 
This to the great Ventidius she presents, 
Whom she can never count her enemy. 
Because he loves her lord. 

Vent. Tell her, I'll none on't; 
I'm not ashamed of honest poverty; 
Not all the diamonds of the east can bribe 
Ventidius from his faith. I hope to see 
These and the rest of all her sparkling store, 
Where they shall more deservingly be placed. 

Ant. And who must wear them then? 

Vent. The wronged Octavia. 

Ant. You might have spared that word. 

Vent. And he that bribe. 

Ant. But have I no remembrance? 

Alex. Yes, a dear one; 
Your slave the queen — 



ALL FOR LOVE 45 

Ant. My mistress. 
Alex. Then your mistress; 
Your mistress would, she says, have sent her soul, 
But that you had long since; she humbly begs 
This ruby bracelet, set with bleeding hearts. 
The emblems of her own, may bind your arm. 

[Presenting a bracelet. 

Vent. Now, my best lord, — in honour's name, I ask you, 
For manhood's sake, and for your own dear safety, — 
Touch not these poisoned gifts. 
Infected by the sender; touch them not; 
Myriads of bluest plagues lie underneath them. 
And more than aconite has dipt the silk. 

Ant. Nay, now you grow too cynical, Ventidius: 
A lady's favours may be worn with honour. 
What, to refuse her bracelet! On my soul. 
When I lie pensive in my tent alone, 
'Twill pass the wakeful hours of winter nights, 
To tell these pretty beads upon my arm. 
To count for every one a soft embrace, 
A melting kiss at such and such a time: 
And now and then the fury of her love, 
When And what harm's in this? 

Alex. None, none, my lord. 
But what's to her, that now 'tis past for ever. 

Ant. [going to tie it]. We soldiers are so awkward — help 
me tie it. 

Alex. In faith, my lord, we courtiers too are awkward 
In these affairs: so are all men indeed: 
Even I, who am not one. But shall I speak.' 

Ant. Yes, freely. 

Alex. Then, my lord, fair hands alone 
Are fit to tie it; she, who sent it can. 

Vent. Hell, death! this eunuch pander ruins you. 
You will not see her? 

[ Alexas whispers an Attendant, who goes out. 

Ant. But to take my leave. 



46 JOHN DRYDEN 

Vent. Then I have washed an /Ethiop. You're undone; 
Y' are in the toils; y' are taken; y' are destroyed: 
Her eyes do Caesar's work. 

Ant. You fear too soon. 
I'm constant to myself: I know my strength; 
And yet she shall not think me barbarous neither 
Born in the depths of Afric: I am a Roman, 
Bred in the rules of soft humanity. 
A guest, and kindly used, should bid farewell. 

Vent. You do not know 
How weak you are to her, how much an infant: 
You are not proof against a smile, or glance; 
A sigh will quite disarm you. 

Ant. See, she comes! 
Now you shall find your error. — Gods, 1 thank you: 
I formed the danger greater than it was. 
And now 'tis near, 'tis lessened. 

Vent. Mark the end yet. 

Enter Cleopatra, Charmion, and Iras 

Ant. Well, madam, we are met. 

Cleo. Is this a meeting.? 
Then, we must part .' 

Ant. We must. 

Cleo. Who says we must.? 

Ant. Our own hard fates. 

Cleo. We make those fates ourselves. 

Ant. Yes, we have made them; we have loved each other, 
Into our mutual ruin. 

Cleo. The gods have seen my Joys with envious eyes; 
I have no friends in heaven; and all the world, 
As 'twere the business of mankind to part us. 
Is armed against my love: even you yourself 
Join with the rest; you, you are armed against me. 

Ant. I will be justified in all I do 
To late posterity, and therefore hear me. 
If I mix a lie 



ALL FOR LOVE 47 

With any truth, reproach me freely with it; 
Else, favour me with silence. 

Cleo. You command me, 
And I am dumb. 

Vent. I like this well; he shows authority. 

Ant. That I derive my ruin 
From you alone 

Cleo. O heavens! I ruin you! 

Ant. You promised me your silence, and you break it 
Ere I have scarce begun. 

Cleo. Well, I obey you. 

Ant. When I beheld you first, it was in Egypt. 
Ere Caesar saw your eyes, you gave me love. 
And were too young to know it ; that I settled 
Your father in his throne, was for your sake; 
I left the acknowledgment for time to ripen. 
Cxsar stept in, and, with a greedy hand. 
Plucked the green fruit, ere the first blush of red, 
Yet cleaving to the bough. He was my lord. 
And was, beside, too great for me to rival; 
But, I deserved you first, though he enjoyed you. 
When, after, I beheld you in Cilicia, 
An enemy to Rome, I pardoned you. 

Cleo. I cleared myself 

Ant. Again you break your promise. 
I loved you still, and took your weak excuses. 
Took you into my bosom, stained by Caesar, 
And not half mine: I went to Egypt with you, 
And hid me from the business of the world, 
Shut out inquiring nations from my sight, 
To give whole years to you. 

Vent. Yes, to your shame be't spoken. [Aside. 

Ant. How I loved. 
Witness, ye days and nights, and all ye hours. 
That danced away with down upon your feet, 
As all your business were to count my passion! 
One day passed by, and nothing saw but love; 



48 JOHN DRYDEN 

Another came, and still 'twas only love: 
The suns were wearied out with looking on. 
And I untired with loving. 
I saw you every day, and all the day; 
And every day was still but as the first, 
So eager was 1 still to see you more. 

Vent. 'Tis all too true. 

Ant. Fulvia, my wife, grew jealous, 
(As she indeed had reason) raised a war 
In Italy, to call me back. 

Vent. But yet 
You went not. 

Ant. While within your arms I lay. 
The world fell mouldering from my hands each hour, 
And left me scarce a grasp — I thank your love for't. 

Vent. Well pushed : that last was home. 

Cleo. Yet may I speak ? 

Ant. If I have urged a falsehood, yes; else^ not. 
Your silence says, I have not. Fulvia died, 
(Pardon, you gods, with my unkindness died) ; 
To set the world at peace, I took Octavia, 
This Caesar's sister; in her pride of youth. 
And flower of beauty, did I wed that lady, 
Whom blushing I must praise, because I left her. 
You called; my love obeyed the fatal summons: 
This raised the Roman arms; the cause was yours. 
I would have fought by land, where I was stronger; 
You hindered it: yet, when I fought at sea. 
Forsook me fighting; and (O stain to honour! 
O lasting shame!) I knew not that I fled; 
But fled to follow you. 

Vent. What haste she made to hoist her purple sails! 
And, to appear magnificent in flight. 
Drew half our strength away. 

Ant. All this you caused. 
And, would you multiply more ruins on me? 
This honest man, my best, my only friend. 



ALL FOR LOVE 49 

Has gathered up the shipwreck of my fortunes; 
Twelve legions I have left, my last recruits. 
And you have watched the news, and bring your eyes 
To seize them too. If you have aught to answer, 
Now speak, you have free leave. 

Alex. [a^de]. She stands confounded: 
Despair is in her eyes. 

Vent. Now lay a sigh in the way to stop his passage: 
Prepare a tear, and bid it for his legions; 
'Tis like they shall be sold. 

Cleo. How shall I plead my cause, when you, my judge, 
Already have condemned me.^ Shall I bring 
The love you bore me for my advocate? 
That now is turned against me, that destroys me; 
For love, once past, is, at the best, forgotten; 
But oftener sours to hate: 'twill please my lord 
To ruin me, and therefore I'll be guilty. 
But, could I once have thought it would have pleased you, 
That you would pry, with narrow searching eyes, 
Into my faults, severe to my destruction, 
And watching all advantages with care. 
That serve to make me wretched ? Speak, my lord. 
For I end here. Though I deserved this usage. 
Was it like you to give it ? 

Ant. Oh, you wrong me, 
To think I sought this parting, or desired 
To accuse you more than what will clear myself, 
And justify this breach. 

Cleo. Thus low I thank you; 
And, since my innocence will not offend, 
I shall not blush to own it. 

Vent. After this, 
I think she'll blush at nothing. 

Cleo, You seem grieved 
(And therein you are kind) that Caesar first 
Enjoyed my love, though you deserved it better: 
I grieve for that, my lord, much more than you; 



5© JOHN DRYDEN 

For, had I first been yours, it would have saved 
My second choice: I never had been his, 
And ne'er had been but yours. But Qesar first, 
You say, possessed my love. Not so, my lord : 
He first possessed my person; you, my love: 
Cxsar loved me; but I loved Antony. 
If I endured him after, 'twas because 
I judged it due to the first name of men; 
And, half constrained, I gave, as to a tyrant, 
What he would take by force. 

Vent. O Syren! Syren! 
Yet grant that all the love she boasts were true, 
Has she not ruined you? I still urge that, 
The fatal consequence. 

CUo. The consequence indeed — 
For I dare challenge him, my greatest foe. 
To say it was designed: 'tis true, I loved you, 
And kept you far from an uneasy wife, — 
Such Fulvia was. 

Yes, but he'll say, you left Octavia for me; — 
And, can you blame me to receive that love, 
Which quitted such desert, for worthless me? 
How often have I wished some other Cxsar, 
Great as the first, and as the second young. 
Would court my love, to be refused for you! 

Vent. Words, words; but Actium, sir; remember Actium. 

Cleo. Even there, I dare his malice. True, I counselled 
To fight at sea; but I betrayed you not. 
I fled, but not to the enemy. 'Twas fear; 
Would I had been a man, not to have feared! 
For none would then have envied me your friendship. 
Who envy me your love. 

Ant. We are both unhappy: 
If nothing else, yet our ill fortune parts us. 
Speak; would you have me perish by my stay? 

Cleo. If, as a friend, you ask my judgment, go; 
If, as a lover, stay. If you must perish — 



ALL FOR LOVE 5I 

Tis a hard word — but stay. 

Vent. See now the effects of her so boasted love! 
She strives to drag you down to ruin with her; 
But, could she 'scajje without you, oh, how soon 
Would she let go her hold, and haste to shore, 
And never look behind! 

Cleo. Then judge my love by this. 

[Gwing Antony a writing. 
Could I have borne 
A life or death, a happiness or woe, 
From yours divided, this had given me means. 

Ant. By Hercules, the writing of Octaviusl 
I know it well: 'tis that proscribing hand, 
Young as it was, that led the way to mine, 
And left me but the second place in murder. — 
See, see, Ventidius! here he offers Egypt, 
And joins all Syria to it, as a present; 
So, in requital, she forsake my fortunes, 
And join her arms with his. 

Cleo. And yet you leave me! 
You leave me, Antony; and yet I love yon. 
Indeed I do: I have refused a kingdom; 
That is a trifle; 

For I could part with Ufe, with anything. 
But only you. Oh, let me die but with you! 
Is that a hard request ? 

Ant. Next Hving with you, 
'Tis all that Heaven can give. 

Alex. He melts; we conquer. [Aside. 

Cleo. No; you shall go: your interest calls you hence; 
Yes; your dear interest pulls too strong, for these 
Weak arms to hold you here. [Ta^es his hand. 

Go; leave me, soldier 

(For you're no more a lover) : leave me dying: 
Push me, all pale and panting, from your bosom, 
And, when your march begins, let one run after, 
Breathless almost for joy, and cry — She's dead. 



52 JOHN DRYDEN 

The soldiers shout; you then, perhaps, may sigh, 
And muster all your Roman gravity: 
Ventidius chides; and straight your brow clears up. 
As I had never been. 

Ant. Gods, 'tis too much; too much for man to bear. 

Cleo. What is't for me then, 
A weak, forsaken woman, and a lover? — 
Here let me breathe my last: envy me not 
This minute in your arms: I'll die apace, 
As fast as e'er I can, and end your trouble. 

Ant. Die! rather let me perish; loosened nature 
Leap from its hinges, sink the props of heaven. 
And fall the skies, to crush the nether world! 
My eyes, my soul, my alll [Embraces her. 

Vent. And what's this toy, 
In balance with your fortune, honour, fame? 

Ant. What is't, Ventidius? — it outweighs them all; 
Why, we have more than concjuered Cxsar now: 
My queen's not only innocent, but loves me. 
This, this is she, who drags me down to ruin! 
"But, could she 'scape without me, with what haste 
Would she let slip her hold, and make to shore, 
And never look behind!" 
Down on thy knees, blasphemer as thou art, 
And ask forgiveness of wronged innocence. 

Vent. I'll rather die, than take it. Will you go? 

Ant. Go! whither? Go from all that's excellent? 
Faith, honour, virtue, all good things forbid, 
That I should go from her, who sets my love 
Above the price of kingdoms! Give, you gods. 
Give to your boy, your Caesar, 
This rattle of a globe to play withal. 
This gewgaw world, and put him cheaply off: 
I'll not be pleased with less than Cleopatra. 

Cleo. She's wholly yours. My heart's so full of joy, 
That I shall do some wild extravagance 
Of love, in public; and the foolish world. 



ALL FOR LOVE 53 

Which knows not tenderness, will think me mad. 
Vent. O women! women! women! all the gods 

Have not such power of doing good to man, 

As you of doing harm. \Exit. 

Ant. Our men are armed: — 

Unbar the gate that looks to Caesar's camp: 

I would revenge the treachery he meant me; 

And long security makes conquest easy. 

I'm eager to return before I go; 

For, all the pleasures I have known beat thick 

On my remembrance. — How I long for night! 

That both the sweets of mutual love may try, 

And triumph once o'er C«csar ere we die. {Exeunt. 

ACT III 

At one door enter Cleopatra, Charmion, Iras, and Alexas, a Train 
of Egyptians: at the other Antony and Romans. The entrance 
on both sides is prepared by music; the trumpets first sounding 
on Antony's part: then answered by timbrels, etc., on Cleo- 
patra's. Charmion and Iras hold a laurel wreath betwixt them, 
A Dance of Egyptians. After the ceremony, Cleopatra crowns 
Antony. 

Ant. I thought how those white arms would fold me in, 
And strain me close, and melt me into love; 
So pleased with that sweet image, I sprung forwards, 
And added all my strength to every blow. 

Cleo. Come to me, come, my soldier, to my arms! 
You've been too long away from my embraces; 
But, when I have you fast, and all my own, 
With broken murmurs, and with amorous sighs, 
I'll say, you were unkind, and punish you. 
And mark you red with many an eager kiss. 

Ant. My brighter Venus! 

Cleo. O my greater Mars! 

Ant. Thou join'st us well, my love! 
Suppose me come from the Phlegracan plains, 



54 JOHN DRYDEN 

Where gasping giants lay, cleft by my sword. 

And mountain-tops paired off each other blow, 

To bury those I slew. Receive me, goddess! 

Let Carsar spread his subtle nets; like Vulcan, 

In thy embraces I would be beheld 

By heaven and earth at once; 

And make their envy what they meant their sport? 

Let those, who took us, blush; I would love on, 

With awful state, regardless of their frowns. 

As their superior gods. 

There's no satiety of love in thee: 

Enjoyed, thou still art new; perpetual spring 

Is in thy arms; the ripened fruit but falls, 

And blossoms rise to fill its empty place; 

And I grow rich by giving. 

Enter Ventidius, and stands apart 

Alex. Oh, now the danger's past, your general comes! 
He joins not in your joys, nor minds your triumphs; 
But, with contracted brows, looks frowning on, 
As envying your success. 

Ant. Now, on my soul, he loves me; truly loves me: 
He never flattered me in any vice. 
But awes me with his virtue: even this minute 
Methinks, he has a right of chiding me. 
Lead to the temple: I'll avoid his presence; 
It checks too strong upon me. [Exeunt the rest. 

[As Antony is going, Ventidius pulls him by 

the robe. 

Vent. Emperor! 

Ant. 'Tis the old argument; I pr'ythee, spare me. 

[Loof{ing bacl{. 

Vent. But this one hearing, emperor. 

Ant. Let go 
My robe; or, by my father Hercules — 

Vent. By Hercules' father, that's yet greater, 
I bring you somewhat you would wish to know. 



ALL FOR LOVE 55 

Ant. Thou see'st we are observed; attend me here, 
And I'll return. [Exit 

Vent. I am waning in his favour, yet I love him; 
I love this man, who runs to meet his ruin; 
And sure the gods, like me, are fond of him: 
His virtues lie so mingled with his crimes, 
As would confound their choice to punish one, 
And not reward the other. 

Enter Antony 

Ant. We can conquer. 
You see, without your aid. 
We have dislodged their troops; 
They look on us at distance, and, like curs 
Scaped from the lion's paws, they bay far off. 
And lick their wounds, and faintly threaten war. 
Five thousand Romans, with their faces upward. 
Lie breathless on the plain. 

Vent. 'Tis well; and he. 
Who lost them, could have spared ten thousand more. 
Yet if, by this advantage, you could gain 
An easier peace, while Cxsar doubts the chance 
Of arms — 

Ant. Oh, think not on't, Ventidius! 
The boy pursues my ruin, he'll no peace; 
His malice is considerate in advantage. 
Oh, he's the coolest murderer! so staunch. 
He kills, and keeps his temper. 

Vent. Have you no friend 
In all his army, who has {xjwer to move him? 
Maecenas, or Agrippa, might do much. 

Ant. They're both too deep in Caesar's interests. 
We'll work it out by dint of sword, or perish. 

Vent. Fain I would find some other. 

Ant. Thank thy love. 
Some four or five such victories as this 
Will save thy further pains. 



56 JOHN DRYDEN 

Vent. Expect no more; Caesar is on his guard: 
I know, sir, you have conquered against odds; 
But still you draw supplies from one poor town, 
And of Egyptians: he has all the world, 
And, at his beck, nations come pouring in. 
To fill the gaps you make. Pray, think again. 

Ant. Why dost thou drive me from myself, to search 
For foreign aids? — to hunt my memory, 
And range all o'er a waste and barren place, 
To find a friend? The wretched have no friends. 
Yet I had one, the bravest youth of Rome, 
Whom Cajsar loves beyond the love of women: 
He could resolve his mind, as fire does wax, 
From that hard rugged image melt him down. 
And mould him in what softer form he pleased. 

Vent. Him would I see; that man, of all the world; 
Just such a one we want. 

Ant. He loved me too; 
I was his soul; he lived not but in me: 
We were so closed within each other's breasts, 
The rivets were not found, that joined us first. 
That does not reach us yet: we were so mixt. 
As meeting streams, both to ourselves were lost; 
We were one mass; we could not give or take. 
But from the same; for he was I, I he. 

Vent. He moves as I would wish him. [Aside. 

Ant. After this, 
I need not tell his name; — 'twas Dolabella. 

Vent. He's now in Caesar's camp. 

Ant. No matter where. 
Since he's no longer mine. He took unkindly, 
That I forbade him Cleopatra's sight. 
Because I feared he loved her: he confessed. 
He had a warmth, which, for my sake, he stifled; 
For 'twere impossible that two, so one. 
Should not have loved the same. When he departed. 
He took no leave; and that confirmed my thoughts. 



ALL FOR LOVE 57 

Vent. It argues, that he loved you more than her, 
Else he had stayed; but he perceived you jealous, 
And would not grieve his friend: I know he loves you. 

Ant. I should have seen him, then, ere now. 

Vent. Perhaps 
He has thus long been labouring for your peace. 

Ant. Would he were here! 

Vent. Would you believe he loved you? 
I read your answer in your eyes, you would. 
Not to conceal it longer, he has sent 
A messenger from Cisar's camp, with letters. 

Ant. Let him appear. 

Vent. I'll bring him instantly. 

[Exit Ventidius, and re-enters immediately with 

DOLABELLA. 

Ant. *Tis he himself! himself, by holy friendship! 

[Runs to embrace him. 
Art thou returned at last, my better half ? 
Come, give me all myself! 
Let me not live. 

If the young bridegroom, longing for his night. 
Was ever half so fond. 

Dola. I must be silent, for my soul is busy 
About a nobler work: she's new come home, 
Like a long-absent man, and wanders o'er 
Each room, a stranger to her own, to look 
If all be safe. 

Ant. Thou hast what's left of me; 
For I am now so sunk from what I was, 
Thou find'st me at my lowest water-mark. 
The rivers that ran in, and raised my fortunes, 
Are all dried up, or take another course: 
What I have left is from my native spring; 
I've still a heart that swells, in scorn of fate, 
And lifts me to my banks. 

Dola. Still you are lord of all the world to me. 

Ant. Why, then I yet am so; for thou art all. 



58 JOHN DRYDEN 

If I had any joy when thou wert absent, 
I grudged it to myself; methought I robbed 
Thee of thy part. But, O my Dolabella! 
Thou hast beheld me other than I am. 
Hast thou not seen my morning chambers filled 
With sceptred slaves, who waited to salute me? 
With eastern monarchs, who forgot the sun, 
To worship my uprising? — menial kings 
Ran coursing up and down my palace-yard, 
Stood silent in my presence, watched my eyes, 
And, at my least command, all started out. 
Like racers to the goal. 

Dola. Slaves to your fortune. 

Ant. Fortune is Cscsar's now; and what am I? 

Vent. What you have made yourself; I will not flatter. 

Ant. Is this friendly done? 

Dola. Yes; when his end is so, I must join with him; 
Indeed I must, and yet you must not chide; 
Why am I else your friend? 

Ant. Take heed, young man. 
How thou upbraid'st my love: The queen has eyes. 
And thou too hast a soul. Canst thou remember. 
When, swelled with hatred, thou beheld'st her first. 
As accessary to thy brother's death? 

Dola. Spare my remembrance; 'twas a guilty day. 
And still the blush hangs here. 

Ant. To clear herself. 
For sending him no aid, she came from Egypt. 
Her galley down the silver Cydnus rowed. 
The tackling silk, the streamers waved with gold; 
The gentle winds were lodged in purple sails: 
Her nymphs, like Nereids, round her couch were placed; 
Where she, another sea-born Venus, lay. 

Dola. No more; I would not hear it. 

Ant. Oh, you must! 
She lay, and leant her cheek upon her hand, 
And cast a look so languishingly sweet. 



ALL FOR LOVE 59 

As if, secure of all beholders' hearts, 

Neglecting, she could take them: boys, like Cupids, 

Stood fanning, with their painted wings, the winds, 

That played about her face. But if she smiled 

A darting glory seemed to blaze abroad. 

That men's desiring eyes were never wearied, 

But hung upon the object : To soft flutes 

The silver oars kept time; and while they played. 

The hearing gave new pleasure to the sight; 

And both to thought. 'Twas heaven, or somewhat more; 

For she so charmed all hearts, that gazing crowds 

Stood panting on the shore, and wanted breath 

To give their welcome voice. 

Then, Dolabella, where was then thy soul? 

Was not thy fury quite disarmed with wonder? 

Didst thou not shrink behind me from those eyes 

And whisper in my ear — Oh, tell her not 

That I accused her with my brother's death ? 

Dola. And should my weakness be a plea for yours ? 
Mine was an age when love might be excused. 
When kindly warmth, and when my springing youth 
Made it a debt to nature. Yours — 

Vent. Speak boldly. 
Yours, he would say, in your declining age, 
When no more heat was left but what you forced, 
When all the sap was needful for the trunk, 
When it went down, then you constrained the course, 
And robbed from nature, to supply desire; 
In you (I would not use so harsh a word) 
'Tis but plain dotage. 

Ant. Ha! 

Dola. 'Twas urged too home. — 
But yet the loss was private, that I made; 
'Twas but myself I lost : I lost no legions; 
I had no world to lose, no people's love. 

Ant. This from a friend? 

Dola, Yes, Antony, a true one; 



6o JOHN DRYDEN 

A friend so tender, that each word I speak 
Stabs my own heart, before it reach your ear. 
Oh, judge me not less kind, because I chide! 
To Caesar I excuse you. 

Ant. O ye gods! 
Have I then Hved to be excused to Caesar? 

Dola. As to your equal. 

Ant. Well, he's but my equal: 
While I wear this he never shall be more. 

Dola. I bring conditions from him. 

Ant. Are they noble? 
Methinks thou shouldst not bring them else; yet he 
Is full of deep dissembling; knows no honour 
Divided from his interest. Fate mistook him; 
For nature meant him for an usurer: 
He's fit indeed to buy, not conquer kingdoms. 

Vent. Then, granting this. 
What power was theirs, who wrought so hard a temper 
To honourable terms? 

Ant. It was my Dolabella, or some god. 

Dola. Nor I, nor yet Maecenas, nor Agrippa: 
They were your enemies; and I, a friend. 
Too weak alone; yet 'twas a Roman's deed. 

Ant. 'Twas like a Roman done: show me that man, 
Who has preserved my life, my love, my honour; 
Let me but see his face. 

Vent. That task is mine. 
And, Heaven, thou know'st how pleasing. [Exit Vent. 

Dola. You'll remember 
To whom you stand obliged? 

Ant. When I forget it 
Be thou unkind, and that's my greatest curse. 
My queen shall thank him too, 

Dola. I fear she will not. 

Ant. But she shall do it: The queen, my Dolabella! 
Hast thou not still some grudgings of thy fever? 

Dola. I would not see her lost. 



ALL FOR LOVE 6l 

Ant. When I forsake her, 
Leave me my better stars! for she has truth 
Beyond her beauty. Caesar tempted her, 
At no less price than kingdoms, to betray me; 
But she resisted all: and yet thou chidest me 
For loving her too well. Could I do so? 

Dola. Yes; there's my reason. 

Re-enter Ventidius, mth Octavia, leading 
Antony's ttvo little Daughters 

Ant. Where? — Octavia there! [Starting bac^. 

Vent. What, is she poison to you? — a disease? 
Look on her, view her well, and those she brings: 
Are they all strangers to your eyes? has nature 
No secret call, no whisper they are yours? 

Dola. For shame, my lord, if not for love, receive them 
With kinder eyes. If you confess a man, 
Meet them, embrace them, bid them welcome to you. 
Your arms should open, even without your knowledge, 
To clasp them in; your feet should turn to wings, 
To bear you to them ; and your eyes dart out 
And aim a kiss, ere you could reach the lips. 

Ant. I stood amazed, to think how they came hither. 

Vent. I sent for them; I brought them in unknown 
To Cleopatra's guards. 

Dola. Yet, are you cold ? 

Octav. Thus long I have attended for my welcome; 
Which, as a stranger, sure I might expect. 
Who am I ? 

Ant. Caesar's sister. 

Octav. That's unkind. 
Had I been nothing more than Cjesar's sister, 
Know, I had still remained in Cjesar's camp: 
But your Octavia, your much injured wife. 
Though banished from your bed, driven from your house. 
In spite of Caesar's sister, still is yours. 
'Tis true, I have a heart disdains your coldness, 



62 JOHN DRYDEN 

And prompts me not to seek what you should offer; 
But a wife's virtue still surmounts that pride. 
I come to claim you as my own; to show 
My duty first; to ask, nay beg, your kindness: 
Your hand, my lord; 'tis mine, and I will have it. 

[Ta/(tng his hand. 

Vent. Do, take it; thou deserv'st it. 

Dola. On my soul, 
And so she does: she's neither too submissive, 
Nor yet too haughty; but so just a mean 
Shows, as it ought, a wife and Roman too. 

Ant. I fear, Octavia, you have begged my life. 

Octav. Begged it, my lord.? 

Ant. Yes, begged it, my ambassadress; 
Poorly and basely begged it of your brother. 

Octav. Poorly and basely I could never beg: 
Nor could my brother grant. 

Ant. Shall I, who, to my kneeling slave, could say, 
Rise up, and be a king; shall I fall down 
And cry, — Forgive me, Caesar! Shall I set 
A man, my equal, in the place of Jove, 
As he could give me being? No; that word, 
Forgive, would choke me up, 
And die upon my tongue. 

Dola. You shall not need it. 

Ant. I will not need it. Come, you've all betrayed me, — 
My friend too! — to receive some vile conditions. 
My wife has bought me, with her prayers and tears; 
And now I must become her branded slave. 
In every peevish mood, she will upbraid 
The life she gave: if I but look awry, 
She cries — I'll tell my brother. 

Octav. My hard fortune 
Subjects me still to your unkind mistakes. 
But the conditions I have brought are such, 
You need not blush to take: I love your honour, 
Because 'tis mine; it never shall be said. 



Apart. 



ALL FOR LOVE 6^ 

Octavia's husband was her brother's slave. 

Sir, you are free; free, even from her you loathe; 

For, though my brother bargains for your love, 

Makes me the price and cement of your peace, 

I have a soul like yours; I cannot take 

Your love as alms, nor beg what 1 deserve. 

I'll tell my brother we are reconciled; 

He shall draw back his troops, and you shall march 

To rule the East: I may be dropt at Athens; 

No matter where. I never will complain. 

But only keep the barren name of wife, 

And rid you of the trouble. 

Vent. Was ever such a strife of sullen honour! 
Both scorn to be obliged. 

Dola. Oh, she has touched him in the tenderest 
part; 
See how he reddens with despite and shame, 
To be outdone in generosity! 

Vent. See how he winks! how he dries up a tear, 
That fain would fall! 

Ant. Octavia, I have heard you, and must praise 
The greatness of your soul; 
But cannot yield to what you have proposed: 
For I can ne'er be conquered but by love; 
And you do all for duty. You would free me. 
And would be dropt at Athens; was't not so? 

Octav. It was, my lord. 

Ant. Then I must be obliged 
To one who loves me not; who, to herself. 
May call me thankless and ungrateful man: — 
I'll not endure it; no. 

Vent. I am glad it pinches there. [Aside. 

Octav. Would you triumph o'er poor Octavia's virtue? 
That pride was all I had to bear me up; 
That you might think you owed me for your life, 
And owed it to my duty, not my love. 
I have been injured, and my haughty soul 



64 JOHN DRYDEN 

Could brook but ill the man who slights my bed. 

Ant. Therefore you love me not. 

Octaf. Therefore, my lord, 
I should not love you. 

Ant. Therefore you would leave me ? 

Octav. And therefore I should leave you — if I could. 

Dola. Her soul's too great, after such injuries, 
To say she loves; and yet she lets you see it. 
Her modesty aud silence plead her cause. 

Ant. O Dolabella, which way shall I turn? 
I find a secret yielding in my soul; 
But Cleopatra, who would die with me, 
Must she be left? Pity pleads for Octavia; 
But does it not plead more for Cleopatra? 

Vent. Justice and pity both plead for Octavia; 
For Cleopatra, neither. 

One would be ruined with you; but she first 
Had ruined you: The other, you have ruined, 
And yet she would preserve you. 
In everything their merits are unequal. 

Ant. O my distracted soul! 

Octav. Sweet Heaven compose it! — 
Come, come, my lord, if I can pardon you, 
Methinks you should accept it. Look on these; 
Are they not yours? or stand they thus neglected, 
As they are mine? Go to him, children, go; 
Kneel to him, take him by the hand, speak to him; 
For you may speak, and he may own you too, 
Without a blush; and so he cannot all 
His children: go, I say, and pull him to me, 
And pull him to yourselves, from that bad woman. 
You, Agrippina, hang upon his arms; 
And you, Antonia, clasp about his waist: 
If he will shake you off, if he will dash you 
Against the pavement, you must bear it, children; 
For you are mine, and I was born to suffer. 

\Here the Children go to him, etc. 



ALL FOR LOVE 6$ 

Vent. Was ever sight so moving? — Emperor! 

Dola. Friend! 

Octav. Husband! 

Both Child. Father! 

Ant. I am vanquished : take me, 
Octavia; take me, children; share me all. 

{Embracing them. 
I've been a thriftless debtor to your loves. 
And run out much, in riot, from your stock; 
But all shall be amended. 

Octav. O blest hour! 

Dola. O happy change! 

Vent. My joy stops at my tongue; 
But it has found two channels here for one, 
And bubbles out above. 

Ant. [to Octav.]. This is thy triumph; lead me where thou 
wilt; 
Even to thy brother's camp. 

Octav. All there are yours. 

Enter Alexas hastily 

Alex. The queen, my mistress, sir, and yours — 

Ant. 'Tis past. — 
Octavia, you shall stay this night: To-morrow, 
Caesar and we are one. 

[Exit leading Octavia; Dolabella and the 

Children jollow. 

Vent. There's news for you; run, my officious eunuch. 
Be sure to be the first; haste forward: 
Haste, my dear eunuch, haste. [Exit. 

Alex. This downright fighting fool, this thick-skulled hero, 
This blunt, unthinking instrument of death, 
With plain dull virtue has outgone my wit. 
Pleasure forsook my earliest infancy; 
The luxury of others robbed my cradle. 
And ravished thence the promise of a man. 
Cast out from nature, disinherited 



66 JOHN DRYDEN 

Of what her meanest children claim by kind, 

Yet greatness kept me from contempt : that's gone. 

Had Cleopatra followed my advice, 

Then he had been betrayed who now forsakes. 

She dies for love; but she has known its joys: 

Gods, is this just, that I, who know no joys. 

Must die, because she loves? 

Enter Cleopatra, Charmion, Iras, and Train 

madam, I have seen what blasts my eyes! 
Octavia's here. 

Cleo. Peace with that raven's note. 

1 know it too; and now am in 
The pangs of death. 

Alex. You are no more a queen; 
Egypt is lost. 

Cleo. What tell'st thou me of Egypt ? 
My life, my soul is lost! Octavia has him! — 

fatal name to Cleopatra's love! 
My kisses, my embraces now are hers; 
While I — But thou hast seen my rival; speak, 
Does she deserve this blessing? Is she fair? 
Bright as a goddess? and is all perfection 
Confined to her? It is. Poor I was made 

Of that coarse matter, which, when she was finished, 
The gods threw by for rubbish. 

Alex. She is indeed a very miracle. 

Cleo. Death to my hopes, a miracle! 

Alex. A miracle; [Bowing. 

1 mean of goodness; for in beauty, madam. 
You make all wonders cease. 

Cleo. I was too rash: 
Take this in part of recompense. But, oh! [Giving a ring. 
I fear thou flatterest me. 

Char. She comes! she's here! 

Iras. Fly, madam, Carsar's sister! 

Cleo. Were she the sister of the thunderer Jove, 



ALL FOR LOVE 67 

And bore her brother's lightning in her eyes. 
Thus would I face my rival. 

[Meets OcTAViA u/ith VE>rnDius. Octavia 
bears up to her. Their Trains come up on 
either side. 

Octav. I need not ask if you are Cleopatra; 
Your haughty carriage — 

Cleo. Shows I am a queen: 
Nor need I ask you, who you are. 

Octav. A Roman: 
A name, that makes and can unmake a queen. 

Cleo. Your lord, the man who serves me, is a Roman. 

Octav. He was a Roman, till he lost that name. 
To be a slave in Egypt; but I come 
To free him thence. 

Cleo. Peace, peace, my lover's Juno. 
When he grew weary of that household clog. 
He chose my easier bonds. 

Octav. I wonder not 
Your bonds are easy: you have long been practised 
In that lascivious art: He's not the first 
For whom you spread your snares: Let Cxsar witness, 

Cleo. I loved not Csesar; 'twas but gratitude 
I paid his love: The worst your malice can. 
Is but to say the greatest of mankind 
Has been my slave. The next, but far above him 
In my esteem, is he whom law calls yours. 
But whom his love made mine. 

Octav. I would view nearer [Coming up close to her. 

That face, which has so long usurped my right. 
To find the inevitable charms, that catch 
Mankind so sure, that ruined my dear lord. 

Cleo. Oh, you do well to search; for had you known 
But half these charms, you had not lost his heart. 

Octav. Far be their knowledge from a Roman lady, 
Far from a modest wife! Shame of our sex. 
Dost thou not blush to own those black endearments, 



68 JOHN DRYDEN 

That make sin pleasing? 

Cleo. You may blush, who want them. 
If bounteous nature, if indulgent Heaven 
Have given me charms to please the bravest man, 
Should I not thank them? Should I be ashamed, 
And not be proud? I am, that he has loved me; 
And, when I love not him, Heaven change this face 
For one like that. 

Octav. Thou lov'st him not so well. 

Cleo. I love him better, and deserve him more. 

Octav. You do not; cannot: You have been his ruin. 
Who made him cheap at Rome, but Cleopatra? 
Who made him scorned abroad, but Cleopatra? 
At Actium, who betrayed him? Cleopatra. 
Who made his children orphans, and poor me 
A wretched widow? only Cleopatra. 

Cleo. Yet she, who loves him best, is Cleopatra. 
If you have suffered, I have suffered more. 
You bear the specious title of a wife. 
To gild your cause, and draw the pitying world 
To favour it: the world condemns poor me. 
For I have lost my honour, lost my fame. 
And stained the glory of my royal house. 
And all to bear the branded name of mistress. 
There wants but life, and that too I would lose 
For him I love. 

Octav. Be't so, then; take thy wish. [Exit tvith her Train. 

Cleo. And 'tis my wish, 
Now he is lost for whom alone I lived. 
My sight grows dim, and every object dances, 
And swims before me, in the maze of death. 
My spirits, while they were opposed, kept up; 
They could not sink beneath a rival's scorn! 
But now she's gone, they faint. 

Alex. Mine have had leisure 
To recollect their strength, and furnish counsel, 
To ruin her, who else must ruin you. 



ALL FOR LOVE 69 

Cleo. Vain promiserl 
Lead me, my Charmion; nay, your hand too, Iras. 
My grief has weight enough to sink you both. 
Conduct me to some solitary chamber, 
And draw the curtains round; 
Then leave me to myself, to take alone 
My fill of grief: 

There I till death will his unkindness weep; 

As harmless infants moan themselves asleep. [Exeunt. 

ACT IV 
Enter Antony and Dolabeixa 

Dola. Why would you shift it from yourself on me? 
Can you not tell her, you must part? 

Ant. I cannot. 
I could pull out an eye, and bid it go, 
And t'other should not weep. O Dolabella, 
How many deaths are in this word, Depart! 
I dare not trust my tongue to tell her so: 
One look of hers would thaw me into tears, 
And I should melt, till I were lost again. 

Dola. Then let Ventidius; 
He's rough by nature. 

Ant. Oh, he'll speak too harshly; 
He'll kill her with the news: Thou, only thou. 

Dola. Nature has cast me in so soft a mould, 
That but to hear a story, feigned for pleasure, 
Of some sad lover's death, moistens my eyes. 
And robs me of my manhood. I should speak 
So faintly, with such fear to grieve her heart, 
She'd not believe it earnest. 

Ant. Therefore, — therefore 
Thou only, thou art fit: Think thyself me; 
And when thou speak'st (but let it first be long), 
Take off the edge from every sharper sound. 
And let our parting be as gently made, 



70 JOHN DRYDEN 

As other loves begin: Wilt thou do this? 

Dola. What you have said so sinks into my soul, 
That, if I must speak, I shall speak just so. 

Ant. I leave you then to your sad task: Farewell. 
I sent her word to meet you. 

[ Goes to the door, and comes bacl(. 
I forgot; 

Let her be told, I'll make her peace with mine, 
Her crown and dignity shall be preserved. 
If I have power with Caesar. — Oh, be sure 
To think on that. 

Dota. Fear not, I will remember. 

[Antony goes again to the door, and comes back,. 

Ant. And tell her, too, how much I was constrained; 
I did not this, but with extremest force. 
Desire her not to hate my memory, 
For I still cherish hers: — insist on that. 

Dola. Trust me. I'll not forget it. 

Ant. Then that's all. [Goes out, and returns again. 

Wilt thou forgive my fondness this once more? 
Tell her, though we shall never meet again, 
If I should hear she took another love. 
The news would break my heart. — Now I must go; 
For every time I have returned, I feel 
My soul more tender; and my next command 
Would be, to bid her stay, and ruin both. [Exit. 

Dola. Men are but children of a larger growth; 
Our appetites as apt to change as theirs. 
And full as craving too, and full as vain; 
And yet the soul, shut up in her dark room. 
Viewing so clear abroad, at home sees nothing: 
But, like a mole in earth, busy and blind, 
Works all her folly up, and casts it outward 
To the world's open view: Thus I discovered, 
And blamed the love of ruined Antony: 
Yet wish that I were he, to be so ruined. 



ALL FOR LOVE 7 I 

Enter Ventidius above 

Vent. Alone, and talking to himself? concerned too? 
Perhaps my guess is right; he loved her once. 
And may pursue it still. 

Dola. O friendship! friendship! 
Ill canst thou answer this; and reason, worse: 
Unfaithful in the attempt; hopeless to win; 
And if I win, undone: mere madness all. 
And yet the occasion's fair. What injury 
To him, to wear the robe which he throws by! 

Vent. None, none at all. This happens as I wish, 
To ruin her yet more with Antony. 

Enter Cleopatra tallying with Alexas; 
Charmion, Iras on the other side 

Dola. She comes! What charms have sorrow on that face! 
Sorrow seems pleased to dwell with so much sweetness; 
Yet, now and then, a melancholy smile 
Breaks loose, like lightning in a winter's night. 
And shows a moment's day. 

Vent. If she should love him too! her eunuch there? 
That porc'pisce bodes ill weather. Draw, draw nearer. 
Sweet devil, that I may hear. 

Alex. BeUeve me; try 

[DoLABELLA gocs over to Charmion and Iras; 
seems to talk^ with them. 
To make him jealous; jealousy is like 
A polished glass held to the lips when life's in doubt; 
If there be breath, 'twill catch the damp, and show it. 

Cleo. I grant you, jealousy's a proof of love, 
But 'tis a weak and unavailing medicine; 
It puts out the disease, and makes it show, 
But has no power to cure. 

Alex. 'Tis your last remedy, and strongest too: 
And then this Dolabella, who so fit 
To practise on ? He's handsome, valiant, young, 



72 JOHN DRYDEN 

And looks as he were laid for nature's bait, 

To catch weak women's eyes. 

He stands already more than half suspected 

Of loving you : the least kind word or glance, 

You give this youth, will kindle him with love: 

Then, like a burning vessel set adrift. 

You'll send him down amain before the wind, 

To fire the heart of jealous Antony. 

Cleo, Can I do this? Ah, no, my love's so true. 
That I can neither hide it where it is. 
Nor show it where it is not. Nature meant me 
A wife; a silly, harmless, household dove. 
Fond without art, and kind without deceit; 
But Fortune, that has made a mistress of me, 
Has thrust me out to the wide world, unfurnished 
Of falsehood to be happy. 

Alex. Force yourself. 
The event will be, your lover will return, 
Doubly desirous to possess the good 
Which once he feared to lose. 

Cleo. I must attempt it; 
But oh, with what regret I 

[Exit Alexas. She comes up to Dolabella. 

Vent. So, now the scene draws near; they're in my reach. 

Cleo. [to DoL.] Discoursing with my women! might not I 
Share in your entertainment? 

Char. You have been 
The subject of it, madam. 

Cleo. How! and how? 

Iras. Such praises of your beauty! 

Cleo. Mere poetry. 
Your Roman wits, your Callus and Tibullus, 
Have taught you this from Cytheris and Delia. 

Dola. Those Roman wits have never been in Egypt; 
Cytheris and Delia else had been unsung: 
I, who have seen — had I been born a poet. 
Should choose a nobler name. 



ALL FOR LOVE 73 

Cleo, You flatter me. 
But, 'tis your nation's vice: All of your country 
Are flatterers, and all false. Your friend's like you. 
I'm sure, he sent you not to speak these words. 

Dola. No, madam; yet he sent me — 

Cleo. Well, he sent you — 

Dola. Of a less pleasing errand. 

Cleo. How less pleasing? 
Less to yourself, or me? 

Dola. Madam, to both; 
For you must mourn, and I must grieve to cause it. 

Cleo. You, Charmion, and your fellow, stand at distance. — 
Hold up, my spirits. [Aside.] — Well, now your mournful mat- 
ter; 
For I'm prepared, perhaps can guess it too. 

Dola. I wish you would; for 'tis a thankless office. 
To tell ill news: And I, of all your sex. 
Most fear displeasing you. 

Cleo. Of all your sex, 
I soonest could forgive you, if you should. 

Vent. Most delicate advances! Women! women! 
Dear, damned, inconstant sex! 

Cleo. In the first place, 
I am to be forsaken; is't not so ? 

Dola. I wish I could not answer to that question. 

Cleo. Then pass it o'er, because it troubles you: 
I should have been more grieved another time. 
Next I'm to lose my kingdom — Farewell, Egypt! 
Yet, is there any more? 

Dola. Madam, I fear 
Your too deep sense of grief has turned your reason. 

Cleo. No, no, I'm not run mad; I can bear fortune: 
And love may be expelled by other love. 
As poisons are by poisons. 

Dola. You o'erjoy me, madam. 
To find your griefs so moderately borne. 
You've heard the worst; all are not false like him. 



74 JOHN DRYDEN 

Cleo. No; Heaven forbid they should. 

Dola. Some men are constant. 

Cleo. And constancy deserves reward, that's certain. 

Dola. Deserves it not; but give it leave to hope. 

Vent. I'll swear, thou hast my leave. I have enough: 
But how to manage this! Well, I'll consider. [Exit. 

Dola. I came prepared 
To tell you heavy news; news, which I thought 
Would fright the blood from your pale cheeks to hear: 
But you have met it with a cheerfulness, 
That makes my task more easy : and my tongue, 
Which on another's message was employed. 
Would gladly speak its own. 

CUo. Hold, Dolabella. 
First tell me, were you chosen by my lord? 
Or sought you this employment? 

Dola. He picked me out; and, as his bosom friend. 
He charged me with his words. 

Cleo. The message then 
I know was tender, and each accent smooth. 
To mollify that rugged word, Depart. 

Dola. Oh, you mistake: He chose the harshest words; 
With fiery eyes, and contracted brows, 
He coined his face in the severest stamp; 
And fury shook his fabric, like an earthquake; 
He heaved for vent, and burst like bellowing y£tna, 
In sounds scarce human — "Hence away for ever, 
Let her begone, the blot of my renown, 
And bane of all my hopes!" 

[All the time of this speech, Cleopatra seems 
more and more concerned, till she sin/^s quite 
down. 
"Let her be driven, as far as men can think. 
From man's commerce! she'll poison to the centre." 

Cleo. Oh, I can bear no more! 

Dola. Help, help! — O wretch! O cursed, cursed wretch! 
What have I done! 



ALL FOR LOVE 75 

Char. Help, chafe her temples, Iras. 

has. Bend, bend her forward quickly. 

Char. Heaven be praised, 
She comes again. 

Cleo. Oh, let him not approach me. 
Why have you brought me back to this loathed being; 
The abode of falsehood, violated vows. 
And injured love? For pity, let me go; 
For, if there be a place of long repose, 
I'm sure I want it. My disdainful lord 
Can never break that quiet; nor awake 
The sleeping soul, with hollowing in my tomb 
Such words as fright her hence. — Unkind, unkind! 

Dola. Believe me, 'tis against myself I speak; {Kneeling. 
That sure desires belief; I injured him : 
My friend ne'er spoke those words. Oh, had you seen 
How often he came back, and every time 
With something more obliging and more kind. 
To add to what he said; what dear farewells; 
How almost vanquished by his love he parted, 
And leaned to what unwillingly he left! 
I, traitor as I was, for love of you 
(But what can you not do, who made me false?) 
I forged that lie; for whose forgiveness kneels 
This self-accused, self-punished criminal. 

Cleo. With how much ease believe we what we wish! 
Rise, Dolabella; if you have been guilty, 
I have contributed, and too much love 
Has made me guilty too. 

The advance of kindness, which I made, was feigned, 
To call back fleeting love by jealousy; 
But 'twould not last. Oh, rather let me lose, 
Than so ignobly trifle with his heart. 

Dola. I find your breast fenced round from human reach, 
Transparent as a rock of solid crystal; 
Seen through, but never pierced. My friend, my friend, 
What endless treasure hast thou thrown away; 



JOHN DRYDEN 

And scattered, like an infant, in the ocean. 

Vain sums of wealth, which none can gather thence! 

Cleo. Could you not beg 
An hour's admittance to his private ear? 
Like one, who wanders through long barren wilds 
And yet foreknows no hospitable inn 
Is near to succour hunger, eats his fill, 
Before his painful march; 
So would I feed a while my famished eyes 
Before we part; for I have far to go. 
If death be far, and never must return. 

Ventidius with Octavia, behind 

Vent. From hence you may discover — oh, sweet, sweet! 
Would you indeed? The pretty hand in earnest? 

Dola. I will, for this reward. \Tal{es her band. 

Draw it not back. 
'Tis all I e'er will beg. 

Vent. They turn upon us. 

Octav. What quick eyes has guilt! 

Vent. Seem not to have observed them, and go on. 

[They enter, 

Dola. Saw you the emperor, Ventidius? 

Vent. No. 
I sought him; but I heard that he was private, 
None with him but Hipparchus, his freedman. 

Dola. Know you his business ? 

Vent. Giving him instructions, 
And letters to his brother Cxsar. 

Dola. Well, 
He must be found. [Exeunt Dolabella and Cleopatra. 

Octav. Most glorious impudence! 

Vent. She looked, methought. 
As she would say — Take your old man, Octavia; 
Thank you, I'm better here. — 
Well, but what use 
Make we of this discovery? 



ALL FOR LOVE 77 

Octav. Let it die. 

Vent. I pity Dolabella; but she's dangerous: 
Her eyes have power beyond Thessalian charms, 
To draw the moon from heaven; for eloquence, 
The sea-green Syrens taught her voice their flattery; 
And, while she speaks, night steals upwn the day. 
Unmarked of those that hear. Then she's so charming, 
Age buds at sight of her, and swells to youth: 
The holy priests gaze on her when she smiles; 
And with heaved hands, forgetting gravity. 
They bless her wanton eyes: Even I, who hate her, 
With a malignant joy behold such beauty; 
And, while I curse, desire it. Antony 
Must needs have some remains of passion still. 
Which may ferment into a worse relapse. 
If now not fully cured. I know, this minute, 
With Carsar he's endeavouring her peace. 

Octav. You have prevailed: — But for a further purpose 

[Wall{^!off. 
I'll prove how he will relish this discovery. 
What, make a strumpet's peace! it swells my heart: 
It must not, shall not be. 

Vent. His guards appear. 
Let me begin, and you shall second me. 

Enter Antony 

Ant. Octavia, I was looking you, my love: 
What, are your letters ready ? I have given 
My last instructions. 

Octav. Mine, my lord, are written. 

Ant. Ventidius. [Drawing him aside. 

Vent. My lord? 

Ant. A word in private. — 
When saw you Dolabella? 

Vent. Now, my lord, 
He parted hence; and Cleopatra with him. 

Ant. Speak softly. — 'Twas by my command he went, 



78 JOHN DRYDEN 

To bear my last farewell. 

Vent. It looked indeed [Aloud. 

Like your farewell. 

Ant. More softly. — My farewell? 
What secret meaning have you in those words 
Of — My farewell? He did it by my order. 

Vent. Then he obeyed your order. I suppose [Aloud. 

You bid him do it with all gentleness, 
All kindness, and all — love. 

Ant. How she mourned. 
The f)oor forsaken creature! 

Vent. She took it as she ought; she bore your parting 
As she did Caesar's, as she would another's. 
Were a new love to come. 

Ant. Thou dost belie her; [Aloud. 

Most basely, and maliciously belie her. 

Vent. I thought not to displease you ; I have done. 

Octav. You seemed disturbed, my lord. [Coming up. 

Ant. A very trifle. 
Retire, my love. 

Vent. It was indeed a trifle. 
He sent — 

Ant. No more. Look how thou disobey'st me; [Angrily. 
Thy life shall answer it. 

Octav. Then 'tis no trifle. 

Vent, [to Octav.] 'Tis less; a very nothing: You too saw it, 
As well as I, and therefore 'tis no secret. 

Ant. She saw it! 

Vent. Yes: She saw young Dolabella — 

Ant. Young Dolabella! 

Vent. Young, I think him young. 
And handsome too; and so do others think him. 
But what of that? He went by your command. 
Indeed 'tis probable, with some kind message; 
For she received it graciously; she smiled; 
And then he grew familiar with her hand. 
Squeezed it, and worried it with ravenous kisses; 



ALL FOR LOVE 79 

She blushed, and sighed, and smiled, and blushed again; 

At last she took occasion to talk softly, 

And brought her cheek up close, and leaned on his; 

At which, he whispered kisses back on hers; 

And then she cried aloud — That constancy 

Should be rewarded. 

Octav. This I saw and heard. 

Ant. What woman was it, whom you heard and saw 
So playful with my friend? 
Not Cleopatra? 

Vent. Even she, my lord. 

Ant. My Cleopatra? 

Vent. Your Cleopatra; 
Dolabella's Cleopatra; every man's Cleopatra. 

Ant. Thou liest. 

Vent. I do not lie, my lord. 
Is this so strange? Should mistresses be left, 
And not provide against a time of change? 
You know she's not much used to lonely nights. 

Ant. I'll think no more on't. 
I know 'tis false, and see the plot betwixt you. — 
You needed not have gone this way, Octavia. 
What harms it you that Cleopatra's just? 
She's mine no more. I see, and I forgive: 
Urge it no further, love. 

Octav. Are you concerned, 
That she's found false? 

Ant. I should be, were it so; 
For, though 'tis past, I would not that the world 
Should tax my former choice, that I loved one 
Of so light note; but I forgive you both. 

Vent. What has my age deserved, that you should think 
I would abuse your ears with perjury? 
If Heaven be true, she's false. 

Ant. Though heaven and earth 
Should witness it, I'll not believe her tainted. 

Vent. I'll bring you, then, a witness 



8o JOHN DRYDEN 

From hell, to prove her so. — Nay, go not back; 

[Seeing Alexas just entering, and starting bac)^. 
For stay you must and shall. 

Alex. What means my lord.' 

Vent, To make you do what most you hate, — speak truth. 
You are of Cleopatra's private counsel, 
Of her bed-counsel, her lascivious hours; 
Are conscious of each nightly change she makes, 
And watch her, as Chaldaeans do the moon. 
Can tell what signs she passes through, what day. 

Alex. My noble lord! 

Vent. My most illustrious pander, 
No fine set speech, no cadence, no turned periods. 
But a plain homespun truth, is what I ask. 
I did, myself, o'erhear your queen make love 
To Dolabella. Speak; for I will know. 
By your confession, what more passed betwixt them; 
How near the business draws to your employment; 
And when the happy hour. 

Ant. Speak truth, Alexas; whether it offend 
Or please Ventidius, care not: Justify 
Thy injured queen from malice: Dare his worst. 

Octav. [aside]. See how he gives him courage! how he fears 
To find her false! and shuts his eyes to truth. 
Willing to be misled! 

Alex. As far as love may plead for woman's frailty. 
Urged by desert and greatness of the lover, 
So far, divine Octavia, may my queen 
Stand even excused to you for loving him 
Who is your lord: so far, from brave Ventidius, 
May her past actions hope a fair report. 

Ant. 'Tis well, and truly spoken: mark, Ventidius. 

Alex. To you, most noble emperor, her strong passion 
Stands not excused, but wholly justified. 
Her beauty's charms alone, without her crown, 
From Ind and Meroe drew the distant vows 
Of sighing kings; and at her feet were laid 



ALL FOR LOVE 8l 

The sceptres of the earth, exposed on heaps, 

To choose where she would reign: 

She thought a Roman only could deserve her. 

And, of all Romans, only Antony; 

And, to be less than wife to you, disdained 

Their lawful passion. 

Ant. Tis but truth. 

AUx. And yet, though love, and your unmatched desert, 
Have drawn her from the due regard of honour. 
At last Heaven opened her unwilling eyes 
To see the wrongs she offered fair Octavia, 
Whose holy bed she lawlessly usurped. 
The sad effects of this improsperous war 
Confirmed those pious thoughts. 

Vent, [aside]. Oh, wheel you there.? 
Observe him now; the man begins to mend, 
And talk substantial reason. — Fear not, eunuch; 
The emperor has given thee leave to speak. 

Alex. Else had I never dared to offend his ears 
With what the last necessity has urged 
On my forsaken mistress; yet I must not 
Presume to say, her heart is wholly altered. 

Ant. No, dare not for thy life, I charge thee dare not 
Pronounce that fatal word! 

Octav. Must I bear this? Good Heaven, afford me patience. 

[Aside. 

Vent. On, sweet eunuch; my dear half-man, proceed. 

Alex. Yet Dolabella 
Has loved her long; he, next my god-like lord. 
Deserves her best; and should she meet his passion. 
Rejected, as she is, by him she loved 

Ant. Hence from my sight! for I can bear no more: 
Let furies drag thee quick to hell; let all 
The longer damned have rest; each torturing hand 
Do thou employ, till Cleopatra comes; 
Then join thou too, and help to torture her! 

[Exit Alexas, thrust out by Antony. 



82 JOHN DRYDEN 

Octav. 'Tis not well. 
Indeed, my lord, 'tis much unkind to me, 
To show this passion, this extreme concernment, 
For an abandoned, faithless prostitute. 

Ant. Octavia, leave me; I am much disordered: 
Leave me, I say. 

Octav. My lord! 

Ant. I bid you leave me. 

Vent. Obey him, madam : best withdraw a while. 
And see how this will work. 

Octav. Wherein have I offended you, my lord, 
That I am bid to leave you ? Am I false, 
Or infamous? Am I a Cleopatra? 
Were I she, 

Base as she is, you would not bid me leave you; 
But hang upon my neck, take slight excuses, 
And fawn upon my falsehood. 

Ant. 'Tis too much. 
Too much, Octavia; I am pressed with sorrows 
Too heavy to be borne; and you add more: 
I would retire, and recollect what's left 
Of man within, to aid me. 

Octav. You would mourn. 
In private, for your love, who has betrayed you. 
You did but half return to me: your kindness 
Lingered behind with her. I hear, my lord, 
You make conditions for her. 
And would include her treaty. Wondrous proofs 
Of love to me! 

Ant. Are you my friend, Ventidius? 
Or are you turned a Dolabella too, 
And let this fury loose? 

Vent. Oh, be advised, 
Sweet madam, and retire. 

Octav. Yes, I will go; but never to return. 
You shall no more be haunted with this Fury. 
My lord, my lord, love will not always last, 



ALL FOR LOVE 83 

When urged with long unkindness and disdain: 

Take her again, whom you prefer to me; 

She stays but to be called. Poor cozened man! 

Let a feigned parting give her back your heart, 

Which a feigned love first got; for injured me. 

Though my just sense of wrongs forbid my stay, 

My duty shall be yours. 

To the dear pledges of our former love 

My tenderness and care shall be transferred, 

And they shall cheer, by turns, my widowed nights: 

So, take my last farewell; for I despair 

To have you whole, and scorn to take you half. [Exit' 

Vent. I combat Heaven, which blasts my best designs; 
My last attempt must be to win her back; 
But oh! I fear in vain. [Exit. 

Ant. Why was I framed with this plain, honest heart. 
Which knows not to disguise its griefs and weakness, 
But bears its workings outward to the world? 
I should have kept the mighty anguish in, 
And forced a smile at Cleopatra's falsehood: 
Octavia had believed it, and had stayed. 
But I am made a shallow-forded stream, 
Seen to the bottom : all my clearness scorned. 
And all my faults exposed. — See where he comes, 

Enter DOLABELLA 

Who has profaned the sacred name of friend, 

And worn it into vileness! 

With how secure a brow, and specious form. 

He gilds the secret villain! Sure that face 

Was meant for honesty; but Heaven mismatched it. 

And furnished treason out with nature's pomp. 

To make its work more easy. 

Dola. O my friend! 

Ant. Well, Dolabella, you performed my message? 

Dola. I did, unwillingly. 

Ant. UnwiUingly? 



84 JOHN DRYDEN 

Was it so hard for you to bear our parting? 
You should have wished it. 

Dola. Why? 

Ant. Because you love me. 
And she received my message with as true, 
With as unfeigned a sorrow as you brought it? 

Dola. She loves you, even to madness. 

Ant. Oh, I know it. 
You, Dolabella, do not better know 
How much she loves me. And should I 
Forsake this beauty? This all-f)erfect creature? 

Dola. I could not, were she mine. 

Ant. And yet you first 
Persuaded me: How come you altered since? 

Dola. I said at first I was not fit to go: 
I could not hear her sighs, and see her tears, 
But pity must prevail: And so, perhaps. 
It may again with you; for I have promised. 
That she should take her last farewell: And, see, 
She comes to claim my word. 

Enter Cleopatra 

Ant. False Dolabella! 

Dola. What's false, my lord? 

Ant. Why, Dolabella's false. 
And Cleopatra's false; both false and faithless. 
Draw near, you well-joined wickedness, you serpents. 
Whom I have in my kindly bosom warmed, 
Till I am stung to death. 

Dola. My lord, have I 
Deserved to be thus used? 

Cleo. Can Heaven prepare 
A newer torment? Can it find a curse 
Beyond our separation ? 

Ant. Yes, if fate 
Be just, much greater: Heaven should be ingenious 
In punishing such crimes. The rolling stone. 



ALL FOR LOVE 85 

And gnawing vulture, were slight pains, invented 
When Jove was young, and no examples known 
Of mighty ills; but you have ripened sin, 
To such a monstrous growth, 'twill pose the gods 
To find an equal torture. Two, two such! — 
Oh, there's no further name, — two such! to me, 
To me, who locked my soul within your breasts. 
Had no desires, no joys, no life, but you; 
When half the globe was mine, I gave it you 
In dowry with my heart; I had no use. 
No fruit of all, but you: A friend and mistress 
Was what the world could give. O Cleopatra! 
O Dolabella! how could you betray 
This tender heart, which with an infant fondness 
Lay lulled betwixt your bosoms, and there slept. 
Secure of injured faith? 

Dola. If she has wronged you. 
Heaven, hell, and you revenge it. 

Ant. If she has wronged me! 
Thou wouldst evade thy part of guilt; but swear 
Thou lov'st not her. 

Dola. Not so as I love you. 

Ant. Not so ? Swear, swear, I say, thou dost not love her. 

Dola. No more than friendship will allow. 

Ant. No more? 
Friendship allows thee nothing: Thou art perjured — 
And yet thou didst not swear thou lov'st her not; 
But not so much, no more. O trifling hypocrite. 
Who dar'st not own to her, thou dost not love, 
Nor own to me, thou dosti Ventidius heard it; 
Octavia saw it. 

Cleo. They are enemies. 

Ant. Alexas is not so: He, he confessed it; 
He, who, next hell, best knew it, he avowed it. 
Why do I seek a proof beyond yourself? [To Dolabella. 
You, whom I sent to bear my last farewell. 
Returned, to plead her suy. 



86 JOHN DRYDEN 

Dola. What shall I answer ? 
If to have loved be guilt, then I have sinned; 
But if to have repented of that love 
Can wash away my crime, I have repented. 
Yet, if I have offended past forgiveness, 
Let not her suffer: She is innocent. 

Cleo. Ah, what will not a woman do, who loves? 
What means will she refuse, to keep that heart, 
Where all her joys are placed? 'Twas I encouraged, 
*Twas I blew up the fire that scorched his soul, 
To make you jealous, and by that regain you. 
But all in vain; I could not counterfeit: 
In spite of all the dams my love broke o'er, 
And drowned my heart again: fate took the occasion; 
And thus one minute's feigning has destroyed 
My whole life's truth. 

Ant. Thin cobweb arts of falsehood; 
Seen, and broke through at first. 

Dola. Forgive your mistress. 

Clco. Forgive your friend. 

Ant. You have convinced yourselves. 
You plead each other's cause: What witness have you. 
That you but meant to raise my jealousy? 

Cleo. Ourselves, and Heaven. 

Ant. Guilt witnesses for guilt. Hence, love and friendship! 
You have no longer place in human breasts. 
These two have driven you out: Avoid my sight! 
I would not kill the man whom I have loved. 
And cannot hurt the woman; but avoid me: 
I do not know how long I can be tame; 
For, if I stay one minute more, to think 
How I am wronged, my justice and revenge 
Will cry so loud within me, that my pity 
Will not be heard for either. 

Dola. Heaven has but 
Our sorrow for our sins; and then delights 
To pardon erring man: Sweet mercy seems 



ALL FOR LOVE 87 

Its darling attribute, which limits justice; 
As if there were degrees in infinite, 
And infinite would rather want perfection 
Than punish to extent. 

Ant. I can forgive 
A foe; but not a mistress and a friend. 
Treason is there in its most horrid shape, 
Where trust is greatest; and the soul resigned, 
Is stabbed by its own guards: I'll hear no more; 
Hence from my sight for ever! 

Cleo. How.' for ever! 
I cannot go one moment from your sight, 
And must I go for ever.? 
My joys, my only joys, are centred here: 
What place have I to go to? My own kingdom.? 
That I have lost for you : Or to the Romans ? 
They hate me for your sake: Or must I wander 
The wide world o'er, a helpless, banished woman, 
Banished for love of you; banished from you.? 
Ay, there's the banishment! Oh, hear me; hear me, 
With strictest justice: For I beg no favour; 
And if I have offended you, then kill me, 
But do not banish me. 

Ant. I must not hear you. 
I have a fool within me takes your part; 
But honour stops my ears. 

Cleo. For pity hear me! 
Would you cast of? a slave who followed you.? 
Who crouched beneath your spurn.? — He has no pity! 
See, if he gives one tear to my departure; 
One look, one kind farewell: O iron heart! 
Let all the gods look down, and judge betwixt us, 
If he did ever love! 

Ant. No more: Alexas! 

Dola. A perjured villain! 

Ant. \to Cleo.]. Your Alexas; yours. 

Cleo. Oh, 'twas his plot; his ruinous design. 



88 JOHN DRYDEN 

To engage you in my love by jealousy. 

Hear him; confront him with me; let him speak. 

Ant. I have; I have. 

Cleo. And if he clear me not — 

Ant. Your creature! one, who hangs upon your smiles! 
Watches your eye, to say or to unsay, 
Whate'er you please! I am not to be moved. 

Cleo. Then must we part? Farewell, my cruel lord! 
The appearance is against me; and I go. 
Unjustified, for ever from your sight. 
How I have loved, you know; how yet I love, 
My only comfort is, I know myself: 
I love you more, even now you are unkind. 
Then when you loved me most; so well, so truly 
I'll never strive against it; but die pleased, 
To think you once were mine. 

Ant. Good heaven, they weep at parting! 
Must I weep too? that calls them innocent. 
I must not weep; and yet I must, to think 
That I must not forgive. — 
Live, but live wretched; 'tis but just you should, 
Who made me so: Live from each other's sight: 
Let me not hear you meet. Set all the earth. 
And all the seas, betwixt your sundered loves: 
View nothing common but the sun and skies. 
Now, all take several ways; 

And each your own sad fate, with mine, deplore; 

That you were false, and I could trust no more. 

[Exeunt severally. 

ACT V 

Enter Cleopatka, Charmion, and Iras 

Char. Be juster, Heaven; such virtue punished thus, 
Will make us think that chance rules all above, 
And shuffles, with a random hand, the lots, 
Which man is forced to draw. 



ALL FOR LOVE 89 

Cleo. I could tear out these eyes, that gained his heart, 
And had not power to keep it. O the curse 
Of doting on, even when I find it dotage! 
Bear witness, gods, you heard him bid me go; 
You, whom he mocked with imprecating vows 
Of promised faith! — I'll die; I will not bear it. 
You may hold me — 

[S/ie pulls out her dagger, and they hold her. 
But I can keep my breath; I can die inward. 
And choke this love. 

Enter Alexas 

Iras. Help, O Alexas, help! 
The queen grows desperate; her soul struggles in her 
With all the agonies of love and rage, 
And strives to force its passage. 

Cleo. Let me go. 
Art thou there, traitor! — O, 
O for a little breath, to vent my rage. 
Give, give me way, and let me loose upon him. 

Alex. Yes, I deserve it, for my ill-timed truth. 
Was it for me to prop 
The ruins of a falling majesty? 
To place myself beneath the mighty flaw. 
Thus to be crushed, and pounded into atoms. 
By its o'erwhelming weight? 'Tis too presuming 
For subjects to preserve that wilful power, 
Which courts its own destruction. 

Cleo, I would reason 
More calmly with you. Did not you o'errule. 
And force my plain, direct, and open love. 
Into these crooked paths of jealousy? 
Now, what's the event? Octavia is removed; 
But Cleopatra's banished. Thou, thou villain, 
Hast pushed my boat to open sea; to prove. 
At my sad cost, if thou canst steer it back. 
It cannot be; I'm lost too far; I'm ruined: 
Hence, thou impostor, traitor, monster, devil!— 



90 JOHN DRYDEN 

I can no more: Thou, and my griefs, have sunk 
Me down so low, that I want voice to curse thee. 

Alex. Suppose some shipwrecked seaman near the shore. 
Dropping and faint, with climbing up the cliff. 
If, from above, some charitable hand 
Pull him to safety, hazarding himself. 
To draw the other's weight; would he look back. 
And curse him for his pains? The case is yours; 
But one step more, and you have gained the height. 

Cleo. Sunk, never more to rise. 

Alex. Octavia's gone, and Dolabella banished. 
Believe me, madam, Antony is yours. 
His heart was never lost, but started off 
To jealousy, love's last retreat and covert; 
Where it lies hid in shades, watchful in silence. 
And listening for the sound that calls it back. 
Some other, any man ('tis so advanced). 
May perfect this unfinished work, which I 
(Unhappy only to myself) have left 
So easy to his hand. 

Cleo. Look well thou do't; else — 

Alex. Else, what your silence threatens. — Antony 
Is mounted up the Pharos; from whose turret. 
He stands surveying our Egyptian galleys. 
Engaged with Caesar's fleet. Now death or conquest! 
If the first happen, fate acquits my promise; 
If we o'ercome, the conqueror is yours. \A distant shout within. 

Char, Have comfort, madam: Did you mark that shout? 

[Second shout nearer. 

Iras. Hark! they redouble it. 

Alex. 'Tis from the port. 
The loudness shows it near: Good news, kind heavens! 

Cleo. Osiris make it so! 

Enter Serapion 

Serap. Where, where's the queen? 

Alex. How frightfully the holy coward stares 



ALL FOR LOVE 9I 

As if not yet recovered of the assault, 

When all his gods, and, what's more dear to him, 

His offerings, were at stake. 

Scrap. O horror, horror! 
Egypt has been; our latest hour has come: 
The queen of nations, from her ancient seat. 
Is sunk for ever in the dark abyss: 
Time has unrolled her glories to the last. 
And now closed up the volume. 

Cleo. Be more plain: 
Say, whence thou comest; though fate is in thy face, 
Which from thy haggard eyes looks wildly out, 
And threatens ere thou speakest. 

Scrap. I came from Pharos; 
From viewing (spare me, and imagine it) 
Our land's last hope, your navy — 

Cleo. Vanquished? 

Scrap. No: 
They fought not. 

Cleo. Then they fled. 

Scrap. Nor that. I saw, 
With Antony, your well-appointed fleet 
Row out; and thrice he waved his hand on high. 
And thrice with cheerful cries they shouted back: 
'Twas then false Fortune, like a fawning strumpet, 
About to leave the bankrupt prodigal. 
With a dissembled smile would kiss at parting. 
And flatter to the last; the well-timed oars. 
Now dipt from every bank, now smoothly run 
To meet the foe; and soon indeed they met. 
But not as foes. In few, we saw their caps 
On either side thrown up; the Egyptian galleys, 
Received like friends, passed through, and fell behind 
The Roman rear: And now, they all come forward. 
And ride within the port. 

Cleo. Enough, Serapion: 
I've heard my doom. — This needed not, you gods: 



92 JOHN DRYDEN 

When I lost Antony, your work was done; 
'Tis but superfluous malice. — Where's my lord? 
How bears he this last blow? 

Scrap. His fury cannot be expressed by words: 
Thrice he attempted headlong to have fallen 
Full on his foes, and aimed at Caesar's galley: 
Withheld, he raves on you; cries, — He's betrayed. 
Should he now find you — 

Alex. Shun him; seek your safety, 
Till you can clear your innocence. 

CUo. I'll stay. 

Alex. You must not; haste you to your monument, 
While I make speed to Cxsar. 

Cleo. Caesar! No, 
I have no business with him. 

Alex. I can work him 
To spare your Ufe, and 'et this madman perish. 

Cleo. Base fawning wretch! wouldst thou betray him too? 
Hence from my sight! I will not hear a traitor; 
'Twas thy design brought all this ruin on us. — 
Serapion, thou art honest; counsel me: 
But haste, each moment's precious. 

Serap. Retire; you must not yet see Antony. 
He who began this mischief, 
'Tis just he tempt the danger; let him clear you: 
And, since he offered you his servile tongue, 
To gain a poor precarious life from Caesar, 
Let him expose that fawning eloquence. 
And speak to Antony. 

Alex. O heavens! I dare not; 
I meet my certain death. 

Cleo. Slave, thou deservest it. — 
Not that I fear my lord, will I avoid him; 
I know him noble: when he banishe<l me. 
And thought me false, he scorned to take my life; 
But I'll be justified, and then die with him. 

Alex. O pity me, and let me follow you. 



ALL FOR LOVE 93 

Cleo. To death, if thou stir hence. Speak, if thou canst, 
Now for thy Ufe, which basely thou wouldst save; 
While mine I prize at — this! Come, good Serapion. 

[Exeunt Cleopatra, Serapion, Charmion, and Iras. 

Alex. O that I less could fear to lose this being, 
Which, like a snowball in my coward hand. 
The more 'tis grasped, the faster melts away. 
Poor reason! what a wretched aid art thou! 
For still, in spite of thee. 
These two long lovers, soul and body, dread 
Their final separation. Let me think: 
What can I say, to save myself from death? 
No matter what becomes of Cleopatra. 

Ant. Which way? where? [Within. 

Vent. This leads to the monument. [Within, 

Alex. Ah me! I hear him; yet I'm unprepared: 
My gift of lying's gone; 

And this court-devil, which I so oft have raised, 
Forsakes me at my need. I dare not stay; 
Yet cannot far go hence. [Exit. 

Enter Antony and Ventidius 

Ant. O happy Carsar! thou hast men to lead: 
Think not 'tis thou hast conquered Antony; 
But Rome has conquered Egypt. I'm betrayed. 

Vent. Curse on this treacherous train! 
Their soil and heaven infect them all with baseness: 
And their young souls come tainted to the world 
With the first breath they draw. 

Ant. The original villain sure no god created; 
He was a bastard of the sun, by Nile, 
Aped into man; with all his mother's mud 
Crusted about his soul. 

Vent. The nation is 
One universal traitor; and their queen 
The very spirit and extract of them all. 

Ant. Is there yet left 



94 JOHN DRYDEN 

A possibility of aid from valour? 

Is there one god unsworn to my destruction ? 

The least unmortgaged hope? for, if there be, 

Methinks I cannot fall beneath the fate 

Of such a boy as Caesar. 

The world's one half is yet in Antony; 

And from each limb of it, that's hewed away, 

The soul comes back to me. 

Vent. There yet remain 
Three legions in the town. The last assault 
Lopt off the rest; if death be your design, — 
As I must wish it now, — these are sufficient 
To make a heap about us of dead foes, 
An honest pile for burial. 

Ant. They are enough. 
We'll not divide our stars; but, side by side. 
Fight emulous, and with malicious eyes 
Survey each other's acts: So every death 
Thou giv'st, I'll take on me, as a just debt, 
And pay thee back a soul. 

Vent. Now you shall see I love you. Not a word 
Of chiding more. By my few hours of life, 
I am so pleased with this brave Roman fate. 
That I would not be Caesar, to outlive you. 
When we put off this flesh, and mount together, 
I shall be shown to all the ethereal crowd, — 
Lo, this is he who died with Antony! 

Ant. Who knows, but we may pierce through all their troops. 
And reach my veterans yet ? 'tis worth the 'tempting. 
To o'erleap this gulf of fate. 
And leave our wandering destinies behind. 



*o 



Enter Alex as, trembling 
Vent. See, see, that villain! 
See Cleopatra stamped upon that face. 
With all her cunning, all her arts of falsehood! 
How she looks out through those dissembling eyes! 



ALL FOR LOVE 95 

How he sets his countenance for deceit, 

And promises a lie, before he speaks! 

Let me despatch him first. [Drau/ing. 

Alex. O spare me, spare me! 

Ant. Hold; he's not worth your kilUng. — On thy Ufe, 
Which thou may'st keep, because I scorn to take it, 
No syllable to justify thy queen; 
Save thy base tongue its office. 

Alex. Sir, she is gone. 
Where she shall never be molested more 
By love, or you. 

Ant. Fled to her Dolabella! 
Die, traitor! I revoke my promise! die! 

[Going to ^ill him. 

Alex. O hold! she is not fled. 

Ant. She is: my eyes 
Are of)en to her falsehood; my whole life 
Has been a golden dream of love and friendship; 
But, now I wake, I'm like a merchant, roused 
From soft repose, to see his vessel sinking, 
And all his wealth cast over. Ungrateful woman! 
Who followed me, but as the swallow summer, 
Hatching her young ones in my kindly beams, 
Singing her flatteries to my morning wake: 
But, now my winter comes, she spreads her wings, 
And seeks the spring of Czsar. 

Alex. Think not so; 
Her fortunes have, in all things, mixed with yours. 
Had she betrayed her naval force to Rome, 
How easily might she have gone to Caesar, 
Secure by such a bribe! 

Vent. She sent it first, 
To be more welcome after. 

Ant. 'Tis too plain; 
Else would she have appeared, to clear herself. 

Alex. Too fatally she has: she could not bear 
To be accused by you; but shut herself 



96 JOHN DRYDEN 

Within her monument; looked down and sighed; 
While, from her unchanged face, the silent tears 
Dropt, as they had not leave, but stole their parting. 
Some indistinguished words she only murmured; 
At last, she raised her eyes; and, with such looks 
As dying Lucrece cast — 

Ant. My heart forebodes — 

Vent. All for the best: — Go on. 

Alex. She snatched her poniard, 
And, ere we could prevent the fatal blow, 
Plunged it within her breast; then turned to me: 
Go, bear my lord, said she, my last farewell; 
And ask him, if he yet suspect my faith. 
More she was saying, but death rushed betwixt. 
She half pronounced your name with her last breath, 
And buried half within her. 

Vent. Heaven be praised! 

Ant. Then art thou innocent, my poor dear love. 
And art thou dead ? 

O those two words! their sound should be divided: 
Hadst thou been false, and died; or hadst thou lived. 
And hadst been true — But innocence and death! 
This shows not well above. Then what am I, 
The murderer of this truth, this innocence! 
Thoughts cannot form themselves in words so horrid 
As can express my guilt! 

Vent. Is't come to this? The gods have been too gracious; 
And thus you thank them for it! 

Ant. [to Alex]. Why stayest thou here? 
Is it for thee to spy upon my soul. 
And see its inward mourning? Get thee hence; 
Thou art not worthy to behold, what now 
Becomes a Roman emperor to {jerform. 

Alex. He loves her still : 
His grief betrays it. Good! the joy to find 
She's yet alive, completes the reconcilement. 
I've saved myself, and her. But, oh! the Romans! 



ALL FOR LOVE 9/ 

Fate comes too fast upon my wit, 

Hunts me too hard, and meets me at each double. 

[Aside. Exit. 

Vent. Would she had died a little sooner, though! 
Before Octavia went, you might have treated: 
Now 'twill look tame, and would not be received. 
Come, rouse yourself, and let's die warm together. 

Ant. I will not fight : there's no more work for war. 
The business of my angry hours is done. 

Vent. Gcsar is at your gates. 

Ant. Why, let him enter; 
He's welcome now. 

Vent. What lethargy has crept into your soul? 

Ant. 'Tis but a scorn of life, and just desire 
To free myself from bondage. 

Vent. Do it bravely. 

Ant. I will; but not by fighting. O Ventidius! 
What should I fight for now ? — my queen is dead. 
I was but great for her; my power, my empire. 
Were but my merchandise to buy her love; 
And conquered kings, my factors. Now she's dead. 
Let Caesar take the world, — 
An empty circle, since the jewel's gone 
Which made it worth my strife : my being's nauseous; 
For all the bribes of life are gone away. 

Vent. Would you be taken? 

Ant. Yes, I would be taken; 
But, as a Roman ought, — dead, my Ventidius: 
For I'll convey my soul from Caesar's reach. 
And lay down life myself. 'Tis time the world 
Should have a lord, and know whom to obey. 
We two have kept its homage in suspense. 
And bent the globe, on whose each side we trod, 
Till it was dented inwards. Let him walk 
Alone upon't: I'm weary of my part. 
My torch is out; and the world stands before me, 
Like a black desert at the approach of night: 



98 JOHN DRYDEN 

I'll lay me down, and stray no farther on. 

Vent. I could be grieved, 
But that I'll not outlive you: choose your death; 
For, I have seen him in such various shapes, 
I care not which I take: I'm only troubled. 
The life I bear is worn to such a rag, 
'Tis scarce worth giving. I could wish, indeed, 
We threw it from us with a better grace; 
That, like two lions taken in the toils, 
We might at last thrust out our paws, and wound 
The hunters that inclose us. 

Ant. I have thought on it. 
Ventidius, you must live. 

Vent. I must not, sir. 

Ant. Wilt thou not live, to speak some good of me? 
To stand by my fair fame, and guard the approaches 
From the ill tongues of men ? 

Vent. Who shall guard mine, 
For Uving after you? 

Ant. Say, I command it. 

Vent. If we die well, our deaths will speak themselves 
And need no living witness. 

Ant. Thou hast loved me. 
And fain I would reward thee. I must die; 
Kill me, and take the merit of my death, 
To make thee friends with Czsar. 

Vent. Thank your kindness. 
You said I loved you ; and in recompense, 
You bid me turn a traitor: Did I think 
You would have used me thus? — that I should die 
With a hard thought of you? 

Ant. Forgive me, Roman. 
Since I have heard of Cleopatra's death. 
My reason bears no rule upon my tongue. 
But lets my thoughts break all at random out. 
I've thought better; do not deny me twice. 

Vent. By Heaven I will not. 



ALL FOR LOVE 99 

Let it not be to outlive you. 

Ant. Kill me first, 
And then die thou; for 'tis but just thou serve 
Thy friend, before thyself. 

Vent. Give me your hand. 
We soon shall meet again. Now, farewell, emperor! — 

[Embrace, 
Methinks that word's too cold to be my last : 
Since death sweeps all distinctions, farewell, friend! 
That's all— 

I will not make a business of a trifle; 
And yet I cannot look on you, and kill you; 
Pray turn your face. 

Ant. I do: strike home, be sure. 

Vent. Home as my sword will reach. 

[Kills himself. 

Ant. Oh, thou mistak'st; 
That wound was not of thine; give it me back: 
Thou robb'st me of my death. 

Vent. I do indeed; 
But think 'tis the first time I e'er deceived you. 
If that may plead my pardon. — And you, gods, 
Forgive me, if you will; for I die perjured, 
Rather than kill my friend. [Dies. 

Ant. Farewell! Ever my leader, even in death! 
My queen and thou have got the start of me, 
And I'm the lag of honour. — Gone so soon? 
Is Death no more ? he used him carelessly, 
With a familiar kindness: ere he knocked, 
Ran to the door, and took him in his arms. 
As who should say — ^You're welcome at all hours, 
A friend need give no warning. Books had spoiled him; 
For all the learned are cowards by profession. 
'Tis not worth 

My further thought; for death, for aught I know. 
Is but to think no more. Here's to be satisfied. 

[Falls on his sword. 



100 JOHN DRYDEN 

I've missed my heart. O unf)erforming hand! 

Thou never couldst have erred in a worse time. 

My fortune jades me to the last; and death, 

Like a great man, takes state, and makes me wait 

For my admittance. — [Trampling within. 

Some, perhaps, from Czsar: 

If he should find me living, and suspect 

That I played booty with my Ufe! I'll mend 

My work, ere they can reach me. 

[Rises upon his \nces. 

Enter Cleopatra, Charmion, and Iras 
Cleo. Where is my lord? where is he? 
Char. There he lies, 
And dead Ventidius by him. 

Cleo. My tears were prophets; I am come too late. 

that accursed AlexasI [Runs to him. 
Ant. Art thou living? 

Or am I dead before I knew, and thou 
The first kind ghost that meets me? 

Cleo. Help me seat him. 
Send quickly, send for help! 

[They place him in a chair. 

Ant. I am answered. 
We live both. Sit thee down, my Cleopatra: 
I'll make the most I can of life, to stay 
A moment more with thee. 

Cleo. How is it with you ? 

Ant. 'Tis as with a man 
Removing in a hurry; all packed up. 
But one dear jewel that his haste forgot; 
And he, for that, returns upon the spur: 
So I come back for thee. 

Cleo. Too long, ye heavens, you have been cruel to me: 
Now show your mended faith, and give me back 
His fleeting life! 

Ant. It will not be, my love; 

1 keep my soul by force. 



ALL FOR LOVE lOI 

Say but, thou art not false. 

Cleo. 'Tis now too late 
To say I'm true: I'll prove it, and die with you. 
Unknown to me, Alexas feigned my death: 
Which, when I knew, I hasted to prevent 
This fatal consequence. My fleet betrayed 
Both you and me. 

Ant. And Dolabella — 

Cleo. Scarce 
Esteemed before he loved; but hated now. 

Ant. Enough: my life's not long enough for more. 
Thou say'st, thou wilt come after: I believe thee; 
For I can now believe whate'er thou sayest, 
That we may part more kindly. 

Cleo. I will come: 
Doubt not, my life, I'll come, and quickly too: 
CjEsar shall triumph o'er no part of thee. 

Ant. But grieve not, while thou stayest, 
My last disastrous times: 
Think we have had a clear and glorious day 
And Heaven did kindly to delay the storm. 
Just till our close of evening. Ten years' love, 
And not a moment lost, but all improved 
To the utmost joys, — what ages have we lived ? 
And now to die each other's; and, so dying. 
While hand in hand we walk in groves below. 
Whole troops of lovers' ghosts shall flock about us. 
And all the train be ours. 

Cleo. Your words are like the notes of dying swans. 
Too sweet to last. Were there so many hours 
For your unkindness, and not one for love ? 

Ant. No, not a minute. — This one kiss — more worth 
Than all I leave to Caesar. [Dies. 

Cleo. O tell me so again, 
And take ten thousand kisses for that word. 
My lord, my lord! speak, if you yet have being; 
Sign to me, if you cannot speak; or cast 



102 JOHN DRYDEN 

One look! Do anything that shows you Hve. 

Iras. He's gone too far to hear you; 
And this you see, a lump of senseless clay, 
The leavings of a soul. 

Char. Remember, madam, 
He charged you not to grieve. 

Cleo. And I'll obey him. 
I have not loved a Roman, not to know 
What should become his wife; his wife, my Charmion! 
For 'tis to that high title I aspire; 
And now I'll not die less. Let dull Octavia 
Survive, to mourn him dead: My nobler fate 
Shall knit our spousals with a tie, too strong 
For Roman laws to break. 

Iras. Will you then die? 

Cleo. Why shouldst thou make that question ? 

Iras. Caesar is merciful. 

Cleo. Let him be so 
To those that want his mercy : My poor lord 
Made no such covenant with him, to spare me 
When he was dead. Yield me to Cxsar's pride? 
What! to be led in triumph through the streets, 
A spectacle to base plebeian eyes; 
While some dejected friend of Antony's, 
Close in a corner, shakes his head, and mutters 
A secret curse on her who ruined him! 
I'll none of that. 

Char. Whatever you resolve, 
I'll follow, even to death. 

Iras. I only feared 
For you; but more should fear to live without you. 

Cleo. Why, now, 'tis as it should be. Quick, my friends, 
Despatch; ere this, the town's in Caesar's hands: 
My lord looks down concerned, and fears my stay. 
Lest I should be surprised; 
Keep him not waiting for his love too long. 
You, Charmion, bring my crown and richest jewels; 



ALL FOR LOVE IO3 

With them, the wreath of victory I made 
(Vain augury!) for him, who now Hes dead: 
You, Iras, bring the cure of all our ills. 

Iras. The aspics, madam? 

Cleo. Must I bid you twice? 

[Exit Charmion and Iras. 
'Tis sweet to die, when they would force life on me, 
To rush into the dark abode of death. 
And seize him first; if he be like my love, 
He is not frightful, sure. 
We're now alone, in secrecy and silence; 
And is not this like lovers? I may kiss 
These pale, cold lips; Octavia does not see me: 
And, oh! 'tis better far to have him thus 
Than see him in her arms. — Oh, welcome, welcome! 

Enter Charmion and Iras 

Char. What must be done ? 

Cleo. Short ceremony, friends; 
But yet it must be decent. First, this laurel 
Shall crown my hero's head: he fell not basely, 
Nor left his shield behind him. — Only thou 
Couldst triumph o'er thyself; and thou alone 
Wert worthy so to triumph. 

Char. To what end 
These ensigns of your pomp and royalty? 

Cleo. Dull, that thou art! why 'tis to meet my love; 
As when I saw him first, on Cydnus' bank. 
All sparkling, like a goddess: so adorned, 
I'll find him once again; my second spousals 
Shall match my first in glory. Haste, haste, both. 
And dress the bride of Antony. 

Char. 'Tis done. 

Cleo. Now seat me by my lord. I claim this place. 
For I must conquer Caesar too, like him. 
And win my share of the world. — Hail, you dear relics 
Of my immortal love! 



104 JOHN DRYDEN 

let no impious hand remove you hence: 
But rest for ever here! Let Egypt give 

His death that peace, which it denied his Ufe. — 
Reach me the casket. 

Iras. Underneath the fruit 
The aspic lies. 

Cleo. Welcome, thou kind deceiver! 

{Putting aside the leaves . 
Thou best of thieves: who, with an easy key. 
Dost open Ufe, and, unperceived by us, 
Even steal us from ourselves; discharging so 
Death's dreadful office, better than himself; 
Touching our limbs so gently into slumber. 
That Death stands by, deceived by his own image. 
And thinks himself but sleep. 

Scrap. The queen, where is she? [Within. 

The town is yielded, Cesar's at the gates. 

Cleo. He comes too late to invade the rights of death! 
Haste, bare my arm, and rouse the serpent's fury. 

[Holds out her arm, and draws it bacl{. 
Coward flesh, 

Wouldst thou conspire with Cxsar to betray me, 
As thou wert none of mine? I'll force thee to it. 
And not be sent by him. 
But bring, myself, my soul to Antony. 

[Turns aside, and then shows her arm bloody. 
Take hence; the work is done. 

Serap. Break ope the door, [Within. 

And guard the traitor well. 

Char. The next is ours. 

Iras. Now, Charmion, to be worthy 
Of our great queen and mistress. 

[They apply the aspics. 

Cleo. Already, death, I feel thee in my veins: 

1 go with such a will to find my lord. 
That we shall quickly meet. 

A heavy numbness creeps through every limb. 



ALL FOR LOVE IO5 

And now 'tis at my head: My eyelids fall, 
And my dear love is vanquished in a mist. 
Where shall I find him, where? O turn me to him, 
And lay me on his breast! — Caesar, thy worst; 
Now part us, if thou canst. [Dies. 

[Iras sinl(^s down at her feet, and dies; Charmion 
stands behind her chair, as dressing her head. 

Enter Serapion, ttvo Priests, Alexas bound, Egyptians 

Priest. Behold, Serapion, 
What havoc death has made! 

Scrap. 'Twas what I feared. — 
Charmion, is this well done? 

Char. Yes, 'tis well done, and like a queen, the last 
Of her great race: I follow her. [Sinkj down: dies. 

Alex. 'Tis true. 
She has done well : Much better thus to die. 
Than live to make a holiday in Rome. 

Scrap. See how the lovers sit in state together, 
As they were giving laws to half mankind! 
The impression of a smile, left in her face. 
Shows she died pleased with him for whom she lived. 
And went to charm him in another world. 
Caesar's just entering: grief has now no leisure. 
Secure that villain, as our pledge of safety. 
To grace the imperial triumph. — Sleep, blest pair. 
Secure from human chance, long ages out, 
While all the storms of fate fly o'er your tomb; 

And fame to late posterity shall tell. 

No lovers lived so great, or died so well. [Exeunt. 



EPILOGUE 

Poets, like disputants, when reasons fail. 

Have one sure refuge left — and that's to rail. 

Fop, coxcomb, fool, are thundered through the pit; 

And this is all their equipage of wit. 

We wonder how the devil this difference grows 

Betwixt our fools in verse, and yours in prose: 

For, 'faith, the quarrel rightly understood, 

Tis civil war with their own flesh and blood. 

The threadbare author hates the gaudy coat; 

And swears at the gilt coach, but swears afoot: 

For 'tis observed of every scribbling man. 

He grows a fop as fast as e'er he can; 

Prunes up, and asks his oracle, the glass. 

If pink or purple best become his face. 

For our poor wretch, he neither rails nor prays; 

Nor likes your wit just as you like his plays; 

He has not yet so much of Mr. Bayes. 

He does his best; and if he cannot please, 

Would quietly sue out his writ of ease. 

Yet, if he might his own grand jury call. 

By the fair sex he begs to stand or fall. 

Let Cesar's power the men's ambition move. 

But grace you him who lost the world for love! 

Yet if some antiquated lady say. 
The last age is not copied in his play; 
Heaven help the man who for that face must drudge, 
Which only has the wrinkles of a judge. 
Let not the young and beauteous join with those; 
For should you raise such numerous hosts of foes. 
Young wits and sparks he to his aid must call; 
Tis more than one man's work to please you all. 



io6 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 

BY 
RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 

Richard Brinsley Sheridan, statesman and dramatist, was born in 
Dublin on Oct. 30, 1751. He belonged to a highly talented family, his 
grandfather, Thomas Sheridan, being a prominent Jacobite and a his- 
torian, and his father, also Thomas Sheridan, a distinguished actor, 
theatrical manager, and author. 

Sheridan was educated for the bar, but the success of his comedy, 
"The Rivals," led him into close relations with the theatre. "The Rivals" 
was followed by "St. Patrick's Day," a farce; "The Duenna," a comic 
opera; "A Trip to Scarborough," an adaptation from Vanbrugh; "The 
School for Scandal" (1777); and a patriotic melodrama, "Pizarro." He 
was manager of Drury Lane Theatre, which he twice had a chief part 
in rebuilding; and though he had periods of marked prosperity in his 
management, and exercised a pwwerful influence on the stage history of 
his time, his theatrical activities frequendy involved him in grave finan- 
cial difficulties. 

In 1780 Sheridan entered Parliament, and for over thirty years he took 
a highly distinguished part in pwlitics. He held cabinet office a number 
of times, and was regarded as the most brilliant and effective orator of 
his day. His most famous speeches dealt with the prosecution of Warren 
Hastings; the French Revolution, in connection with which he urged the 
policy of letting the French manage their own government, but of resist- 
ing their attempts to spread their principles by conquest; the war with 
the American colonies, by his opposition to which he earned the gratitude 
of Congress; and the liberty of the press, of which he was an uncompro- 
mising champion. Throughout his career he was an honest and intrepid 
advocate of liberal ideas. 

In "The School for Scandal" Sheridan carried the comedy of manners 
to the highest jwint it has reached in England. In the permanence of its 
hold on the public it is surpassed only by the plays of Shakespeare; and in 
characters like Joseph Surface, Sir Peter, and Lady Teazle, and in the 
scandal scene and the auction scene the author added to the lasting glories 
of the English stage. 

Sheridan died in 1 816, and was buried with great pomp in Westminster 
Abbey. 



A PORTRAIT 

ADDRESSED TO MRS. CREWE, WITH THE COMEDY OF 
THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 

BY R. B. SHERIDAN, ESQ. 

Tell me, ye prim adepts in Scandal's school, 
Who rail by precept, and detract by rule, 
Lives there no character, so tried, so known. 
So decked with grace, and so unlike your own, 
That even you assist her fame to raise, 
Approve by envy, and by silence praise! 
Attend! — a model shall attract your view — 
Daughters of calumny, I summon you! 
You shall decide if this a portrait prove. 
Or fond creation of the Muse and Love. 
Attend, ye virgin critics, shrewd and sage. 
Ye matron censors of this childish age. 
Whose peering eye and wrinkled front declare 
A fixed antipathy to young and fair; 
By cunning, cautious; or by nature, cold. 
In maiden madness, virulently bold! — 
Attend, ye skilled to coin the precious tale. 
Creating proof, where inuendos fail! 
Whose practised memories, cruelly exact. 
Omit no circumstance, except the fact! — 
Attend, all ye who boast, — or old or young, — 
The living libel of a slanderous tongue! 
So shall my theme as far contrasted be, 
As saints by fiends, or hymns by calumny. 
Ck)me, gentle Amoret (for 'neath that name 
In worthier verse is sung thy beauty's fame); 
Come — for but thee who seeks the Muse? and while 
Celestial blushes check thy conscious smile. 
With timid grace, and hesitating eye. 
The perfect model, which I boast, supply: — 
Vain Muse! couldst thou the humblest sketch create 
Of her, or slightest charm couldst imitate — 
109 



no A PORTRAIT 

Could thy blest strain in kindred colours trace 

The faintest wonder of her form and face — 

Poets would study the immortal line, 

And Reynolds own his art subdued by thine; 

That art, which well might added lustre give 

To Nature's best, and Heaven's superlative: 

On Granby's cheek might bid new glories rise, 

Or point a purer beam from Devon's eyes! 

Hard is the task to shape that beauty's praise, 

Whose judgment scorns the homage flattery pays! 

But praising Amoret we cannot err. 

No tongue o'ervalues Heaven, or flatters her! 

Yet she by Fate's f>erverseness — she alone 

Would doubt our truth, nor deem such praise her own. 

Adorning fashion, unadorned by dress, 

Simple from taste, and not from carelessness; 

Discreet in gesture, in deportment mild. 

Not stiff with prudence, nor uncouthly wild: 

No state has Amoret; no studied mien; 

She frowns no goddess, and she moves no queen. 

The softer charm that in her manner lies 

Is framed to captivate, yet not surprise; 

It justly suits the expression of her face, — 

'Tis less than dignity, and more than grace! 

On her pure cheek the native hue is such. 

That, formed by Heaven to be admired so much, 

The hand divine, with a less partial care, 

Might well have fixed a fainter crimson there, 

And bade the gentle inmate of her breast — 

Inshrined Modesty — supply the rest. 

But who the jDeril of her lips shall paint? 

Strip them of smiles — still, still all words are faint. 

But moving Love himself appears to teach 

Their action, though denied to rule her sjxech; 

And thou who seest her speak, and dost not hear. 

Mourn not her distant accents 'scape thine ear; 

Viewing those lips, thou still may'st make pretence 

To judge of what she says, and swear 'tis sense: 

Clothed with such grace, with such expression fraught. 

They move in meaning, and they pause in thought! 



A PORTRAIT III 

But dost thou farther watch, with charmed surprise. 

The mild irresolution of her eyes. 

Curious to mark how frequent they repose, 

In brief eclipse and momentary close — 

Ah! seest thou not an ambushed Cupid there. 

Too timorous of his charge, with jealous care 

Veils and unveils those beams of heavenly light. 

Too full, too fatal else, for mortal sight? 

Nor yet, such pleasing vengeance fond to meet. 

In pardoning dimples hope a safe retreat. 

What though her peaceful breast should ne'er allow 

Subduing frowns to arm her altered brow. 

By Love, I swear, and by his gentle wiles. 

More fatal still the mercy of her smiles! 

Thus lovely, thus adorned, possessing all 

Of bright or fair that can to woman fall. 

The height of vanity might well be thought 

Prerogative in her, and Nature's fault. 

Yet gentle Amoret, in mind supreme 

As well as charms, rejects the vainer theme; 

And, half mistrustful of her beauty's store. 

She barbs with wit those darts too keen before: — 

Read in all knowledge that her sex should reach. 

Though Greville, or the Muse, should deign to teach, 

Fond to improve, nor timorous to discern 

How far it is a woman's grace to learn; 

In Millar's dialect she would not prove 

Apollo's priestess, but Apollo's love. 

Graced by those signs which truth delights to own, 

The timid blush, and mild submitted tone: 

Whate'er she says, though sense apf>ear throughout. 

Displays the tender hue of female doubt; 

Decked with that charm, how lovely wit apf)ears. 

How graceful science, when that robe she wears! 

Such too her talents, and her bent of mind, 

As speak a sprightly heart by thought refined: 

A taste for mirth, by contemplation schooled, 

A turn for ridicule, by candour ruled, 

A scorn of folly, which she tries to hide; 

An awe of talent, which she owns with pride! 



112 A PORTRAIT 

Peace, idle Muse! no more thy strain prolong, 
But yield a theme, thy warmest praises wrong; 
Just to her merit, though thou canst not raise 
Thy feeble verse, behold th' acknowledged praise 
Has spread conviction through the envious train, 
And cast a fatal gloom o'er Scandal's reign! 
And lo! each pallid hag, with blistered tongue. 
Mutters assent to all thy zeal has sung — 
Owns all the colours just — the oudine true; 
Thee my inspirer, and my model — Crewe! 



PROLOGUE 

WRITTEN BY MR. GARRICK 

A School for Scandal! tell me, I beseech you, 

Needs there a school this modish art to teach you? 

No need of lessons now, the knowing think; 

We might as well be taught to eat and drink. 

Caused by a dearth of scandal, should the vapours 

Distress our fair ones — let them read the papers; 

Their pwwerful mixtures such disorders hit; 

Crave what you will — there's quantum sufficit. 

"Lord!" cries my Lady Wormwood (who loves tattle. 

And puts much salt and pepper in her prattle), 

]ust risen at noon, all night at cards when threshing 

Strong tea and scandal — "Bless me, how refreshing! 

Give me the pa[>ers. Lisp — how bold and free! [Sips. 

Last night Lord L. [Sips] was caught u>ith Lady D. 

For aching heads what charming sal volatile! [Sips. 

If Mrs. B. will still continue flirting. 

We hope she'll draw, or we'll undraw the curtain. 

Fine satire, poz — in public all abuse it, 

But, by ourselves [Sips\, our praise we can't refuse it. 

Now, Lisp, read you — there, at that dash and star:" 

"Yes, ma'am — A certain lord had best beware. 

Who lives not twenty miles from Grosvenor Square; 

For, should he Lady W. find willing, 

Wormwood is bitter'' "Oh! that's me! the villain I 

Throw it behind the fire, and never more 
Let that vile paper come within my door." 
Thus at our friends we laugh, who feel the dart; 
To reach our feelings, we ourselves must smart. 
Is our young bard so young, to think that he 
Can stop the full spring-tide of calumny? 
Knows he the world so litde, and its trade? 
Alas! the devil's sooner raised than laid. 
So strong, so swift, the monster there's no gagging: 
Cut Scandal's head off, still the tongue is wagging. 
"3 



1 14 PROLOGUE 

Proud of your smiles once lavishly bestowed, 

Again our young Don Quixote takes the road: 

To show his gratitude he draws his pen, 

And seeks this hydra, Scandal, in his den. 

For your applause all perils fie would through — 

He'll fight — that's write — a cavalliero true. 

Till every drop of blood — that's ink — is spilt for you. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 



DRAMATIS PERSON/E 

AS ORIGINALLY ACTED AT DRURY-LANE THEATRE IN 1 777 



Sir Peter Teazle . 

Sir Oliver Surface 

Sir Harry Bumper 

Sir Benjamin Backbite 

Joseph Surface . 

Charles Surface 

Careless . 

Snake 

Crabtree 

Rowley . 

Moses 

Trip . 

Lady Teazle 

Lady Sneerwell 

Mrs. Candour 

Maria 



Mr. King 
Mr. Yates 
Mr. Gawdry 
Mr. Dodd 
Mr. Palmer 
Mr. Smith 
Mr. Farren 
Mr. Packer 
Mr. Parsons 
Mr. Aicl^in 
Mr. Baddeley 
Mr. Lamas /(^ 
Mrs. Abington 
Miss Sherry 
Miss Pope 
Miss P. Hopkins 
d, and Servants 



Gentlemen, Ma 

SCENE: London 

ACT FIRST 

Scene I. — Lady Sneerwell's Dressing-room 

Lady Sneerwell discovered at her toilet; Snake 

drinking chocolate. 

Lady Sneerwell 

THE paragraphs, you say, Mr. Snake, were all inserted? 
Snaf^e. They were, madam; and, as I copied them myself 
in a feigned hand, there can be no suspicion whence they 
came. 

Lady Sneer. Did you circulate the report of Lady Brittle's intrigue 
with Captain Boastall? 

Sna\e. That's in as fine a train as your ladyship could wish. In 
the common course of things, I think it must reach Mrs. Clackitt's 

"5 



Il6 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

ears within four-and-twenty hours; and then, you know, the busi- 
ness is as good as done. 

Lady Sneer. Why, truly, Mrs. Clackitt has a very pretty talent, 
and a great deal of industry. 

Snake. True, madam, and has been tolerably successful in her 
day. To my knowledge, she has been the cause of six matches being 
broken off, and three sons being disinherited; of four forced elope- 
ments, and as many close confinements; nine separate maintenances, 
and two divorces. Nay, I have more than once traced her causing a 
tete-i-tete in the "Town and County Magazine," when the parties, 
perhaps, had never seen each other's face before in the course of their 
lives. 

hady Sneer. She certainly has talents, but her manner is gross. 

Snakj:. 'Tis very true. She generally designs well, has a free tongue 
and a bold invention; but her colouring is too dark, and her outlines 
often extravagant. She wants that delicacy of tint, and mellowness 
of sneer, which distinguish your ladyship's scandal. 

Lady Sneer. You are partial. Snake. 

SnaXe. Not in the least; everybody allows that Lady Sneerwell 
can do more with a word or look than many can with the most 
laboured detail, even when they happen to have a little truth on their 
side to support it. 

Lady Sneer. Yes, my dear Snake; and I am no hypocrite to deny 
the satisfaction I reap from the success of my efforts. Wounded 
myself, in the early part of my life, by the envenomed tongue of 
slander, I confess I have since known no pleasure equal to the 
reducing others to the level of my own reputation. 

SnaXe. Nothing can be more natural. But, Lady Sneerwell, there 
is one affair in which you have lately employed me, wherein, I con- 
fess, I am at a loss to guess your motives. 

Lady Sneer. I conceive you mean with respect to my neighbour, 
Sir Peter Teazle, and his family ? 

SnaXe. I do. Here are two young men, to whom Sir Peter has acted 
as a kind of guardian since their father's death; the eldest possessing 
the most amiable character, and universally well spoken of — the 
youngest, the most dissipated and extravagant young fellow in the 
kingdom, without friends or character; the former an avowed ad- 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCAhfDAL II7 

mirer of your ladyship, and apparently your favourite; the latter at- 
tached to Maria, Sir Peter's ward, and confessedly beloved by her. 
Now, on the face of these circumstances, it is utterly unaccountable 
to me, why you, the widow of a city knight, with a good jointure, 
should not close with the passion of a man of such character and 
expectations as Mr. Surface; and more so why you should be so 
uncommonly earnest to destroy the mutual attachment subsisting 
between his brother Charles and Maria. 

Lady Sneer. Then, at once to unravel this mystery, I must inform 
you that love has no share whatever in the intercourse between Mr. 
Surface and me. 

Snake. No! 

Lady Sneer. His real attachment is to Maria, or her fortune; but, 
finding in his brother a favoured rival, he has been obliged to mask 
his pretensions, and profit by my assistance. 

Snal{e. Yet still I am more puzzled why you should interest your- 
self in his success. 

Lady Sneer. Heavens! how dull you are! Cannot you surmise the 
weakness which I hitherto, through shame, have concealed even from 
you? Must I confess that Charles — that libertine, that extravagant, 
that bankrupt in fortune and reputation — that he it is for whom I am 
thus anxious and malicious, and to gain whom I would sacrifice 
every thing? 

Sna^e. Now, indeed, your conduct appears consistent: but how 
came you and Mr. Surface so confidential? 

Lady Sneer. For our mutual interest. I have found him out a 
long time since. I know him to be artful, selfish, and malicious — in 
short, a sentimental knave; while with Sir Peter, and indeed with all 
his acquaintance, he passes for a youthful miracle of prudence, good 
sense, and benevolence. 

Snake. Yes; yet Sir Peter vows he has not his equal in England; 
and, above all, he praises him as a man of sentiment. 

Lady Sneer. True; and with the assistance of his sentiment and 
hypocrisy he has brought Sir Peter entirely into his interest with 
regard to Maria; while poor Charles has no friend in the house — 
though, I fear, he has a powerful one in Maria's heart, against whom 
we must direct our schemes. 



Il8 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Enter Servant 

Ser. Mr. Surface. 

Lady Sneer. Show him up. [Exit Servant.] He generally calls 
about this time. I don't wonder at people giving him to me for a 
lover. 

Enter Joseph Surface 

Jos. Surf. My dear Lady Sneerwell, how do you do today.? Mr. 
Snake, your most obedient. 

Lady Sneer. Snake has just been rallying me on our mutual at- 
tachment, but I have informed him of our real views. You know 
how useful he has been to us; and, believe me, the confidence is not 
ill-placed. 

fos. Surf. Madam, it is impossible for me to suspect a man of 
Mr. Snake's sensibility and discernment. 

Lady Sneer. Well, well, no compliments now; but tell me when 
you saw your mistress, Maria — or, what is more material to me, 
your brother. 

Jos. Surf. I have not seen either since I left you; but I can inform 
you that they never meet. Some of your stories have taken a good 
effect on Maria. 

Lady Sneer. Ah, my dear Snake! the merit of this belongs to you. 
But do your brother's distresses increase? 

Jos. Surf. Every hour. I am told he has had another execution in 
the house yesterday. In short, his dissipation and extravagance exceed 
any thing I have ever heard of. 

Lady Sneer. Poor Charles! 

Jos. Surf. True, madam; notwithstanding his vices, one can't help 
feeling for him. Poor Charles! I'm sure I wish it were in my power 
to be of any essential service to him; for the man who does not 
share in the distresses of a brother, even though merited by his own 
misconduct, deserves — 

Lady Sneer. O Lud! you are going to be moral, and forget that 
you are among friends. 

Jos. Surf. Egad, that's true! I'll keep that sentiment till I see Sir 
Peter. However, it is certainly a charity to rescue Maria from such 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL II9 

a libertine, who if he is to be reclaimed, can be so only by a person 
of your ladyship's superior accomplishments and understanding. 

Sna){e. I believe, Lady Sneerwell, here's company coming: I'll go 
and copy the letter I mentioned to you. Mr. Surface, your most 
obedient. 

Jos. Surf. Sir, your very devoted. — {Exit 5nake.] Lady Sneerwell, 
I am very sorry you have put any farther confidence in that fellow. 

Lady Sneer. Why so? 

Jos. Surf. I have lately detected him in frequent conference with 
old Rowley, who was formerly my father's steward, and has never, 
you know, been a friend of mine. 

Lady Sneer. And do you think he would betray us? 

Jos. Surf. Nothing more likely; take my word for't. Lady Sneer- 
well, that fellow hasn't virtue enough to be faithful even to his own 
villany. Ah, Maria! 

Enter Maria 

Lady Sneer. Maria, my dear, how do you do? What's the matter? 

Mar. Oh! there's that disagreeable lover of mine, Sir Benjamin 
Backbite, has just called at my guardian's, with his odious uncle, 
Crabtree; so I slipped out, and ran hither to avoid them. 

Lady Sneer. Is that all ? 

Jos. Surf. If my brother Charles had been of the party, madam, 
perhaps you would not have been so much alarmed. 

Lady Sneer. Nay, now you are severe; for I dare swear the truth of 
the matter is, Maria heard you were here. But, my dear, what has 
Sir Benjamin done, that you should avoid him so? 

Mar. Oh, he has done nothing — but 'tis for what he has said: his 
conversation is a perp>etual libel on all his acquaintance. 

Jos. Surf. Ay, and the worst of it is, there is no advantage in not 
knowing him; for he'll abuse a stranger just as soon as his best 
friend : and his uncle's as bad. 

Lady Sneer. Nay, but we should make allowance; Sir Benjamin is 
a wit and a poet. 

Mar. For my part, I own, madam, wit loses its respect with me, 
when I see it in company with malice. What do you think, Mr. 
Surface ? 



120 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Jos. Surf. Certainly, madam; to smile at the jest which plants a 
thorn in another's breast is to become a principal in the mischief. 

Lady Sneer. Psha! there's no possibility of being witty without a 
little ill nature: the malice of a good thing is the barb that makes it 
stick. What's your opinion, Mr. Surface? 

Jos. Surf. To be sure, madam; that conversation, where the spirit 
of raillery is suppressed, will ever appear tedious and insipid. 

Mar. Well, I'll not debate how far scandal may be allowable; but 
in a man, I am sure, it is always contemptible. We have pride, envy, 
rivalship, and a thousand motives to depreciate each other; but the 
male slanderer must have the cowardice of a woman before he can 
traduce one. 

Re-enter Servant 

Ser. Madam, Mrs. Candour is below, and, if your ladyship's at 
leisure, will leave her carriage. 

Lady Sneer. Beg her to walk in. — [Exit Servant.] Now, Maria, 
here is a character to your taste; for, though Mrs. Candour is a little 
talkative, every body allows her to be the best natured and best sort 
of woman. 

Mar. Yes, with a very gross affectation of good nature and benevo- 
lence, she does more mischief than the direct malice of old Crabtree. 

Jos. Surf. V faith that's true, Lady Sneerwell: whenever I hear 
the current running against the characters of my friends, I never 
think them in such danger as when Candour undertakes their 
defence. 

Lady Sneer. Hush! — here she is! 

Enter Mrs. CANDOtm 

Mrs. Can. My dear Lady Sneerwell, how have you been this cen- 
tury? — Mr. Surface, what news do you hear? — though indeed it is 
no matter, for I think one hears nothing else but scandal. 

Jos. Surf. Just so, indeed, ma'am. 

Mrs. Can. Oh, Maria! child, — what, is the whole affair off between 
you and Charles? His extravagance, I presume — the town talks of 
nothing else. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 121 

Mar. I am very sorry, ma'am, the town has so little to do. 

Mrs. Can. True, true, child: but there's no stopping people's 
tongues. I own I was hurt to hear it, as I indeed was to learn, from 
the same quarter, that your guardian. Sir Peter, and Lady Teazle 
have not agreed lately as well as could be wished. 

Mar. 'Tis strangely impertinent for people to busy themselves so. 

Mrs. Can. Very true, child: but what's to be done? People will 
talk — there's no preventing it. Why, it was but yesterday I was told 
that Miss Gadabout had eloped with Sir Filigree Flirt. But, Lord! 
there's no minding what one hears; though, to be sure, I had this 
from very good authority. 

Mar. Such reports are highly scandalous. 

Mrs. Can. So they are, child — shameful, shameful! But the world 
is so censorious, no character escapes. Lord, now who would have 
suspected your friend. Miss Prim, of an indiscretion? Yet such is the 
ill nature of people, that they say her uncle stopped her last week, 
just as she was stepping into the York Mail with her dancing-master. 

Mar. I'll answer for 't there are no grounds for that report. 

Mrs. Can. Ah, no foundation in the world, I dare swear; no more, 
probably, than for the story circulated last month, of Mrs. Festino's 
affair with Colonel Cassino — though, to be sure, that matter was 
never rightly cleared up. 

Jos. Surf. The licence of invention some people take is monstrous 
indeed. 

Mar. 'Tis so; but, in my opinion, those who report such things 
are equally culpable. 

Mrs. Can. To be sure they are; tale-bearers are as bad as the tale- 
makers — 'tis an old observation, and a very true one: but what's to 
be done, as I said before? how will you prevent people from talk- 
ing? To-day, Mrs. Clackitt assured me, Mr. and Mrs. Honeymoon 
were at last become mere man and wife, like the rest of their ac- 
quaintance. She likewise hinted that a certain widow, in the next 
street, had got rid of her dropsy and recovered her shape in a most 
surprising manner. And at the same time Miss Tattle, who was by, 
affirmed that Lord Buffalo had discovered his lady at a house of no 
extraordinary fame; and that Sir Harry Bouquet and Tom Saunter 
were to measure swords on a similar provocation. But, Lord, do you 



122 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

think I would report these things! No, no! tale-bearers, as I said 
before, are just as bad as the tale-makers. 

Joi. Surf. Ah! Mrs. Candour, if every body had your forbearance 
and good nature! 

Mrs. Can. I confess, Mr. Surface, I cannot bear to hear people 
attacked behind their backs; and when ugly circumstances come out 
against our acquaintance, I own I always love to think the best. By 
the by, I hope 'tis not true that your brother is absolutely ruined? 

Jos. Surf. I am afraid his circumstances are very bad indeed, 
ma'am. 

Mrs. Can. Ah! I heard so — but you must tell him to keep up his 
spirits; every body almost is in the same way: Lord Spindle, Sir 
Thomas Splint, Captain Quinze, and Mr. Nickit — all up, I hear, 
within this week; so, if Charles is undone, he'll find half his 
acquaintance ruined too, and that, you know, is a consolation. 

Jos. Surf, Doubtless, ma'am — a very great one. 

Re-enter Servant 

Ser. Mr. Crabtree and Sir Benjamin Backbite. [Exit. 

Lady Sneer. So, Maria, you see your lover pursues you; positively 
you sha'n't escape. 

Enter Crabtree and Sir Benjamin Backbite 

Crab. Lady Sneerwell, I kiss your hand. Mrs. Candour, I don't 
believe you are acquainted with my nephew, Sir Benjamin Back- 
bite.'' Egad, ma'am, he has a pretty wit, and is a pretty poet too. Isn't 
he, Lady Sneerwell ? 

Sir Ben. Oh, fie, uncle! 

Crab. Nay, egad, it's true; I back him at a rebus or a charade 
against the best rhymer in the kingdom. Has your ladyship heard 
the epigram he wrote last week on Lady Frizzle's feather catching 
fire? — Do, Benjamin, repeat it, or the charade you made last night 
extempore at Mrs. Drozie's conversazione. Come, now, your first is 
the name of a fish, your second a great naval commander, and — 

Sir Ben. Uncle, now — pr'thee — 

Crab. I'faith, ma'am, 'twould surprise you to hear how ready he 
is at all these sorts of things. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 1 23 

Lady Sneer. I wonder, Sir Benjamin, you never publish any 
thing. 

Sir Ben. To say truth, ma'am, 'tis very vulgar to print; and as 
my little productions are mostly satires and lampoons on particular 
people, I find they circulate more by giving copies in confidence to 
the friends of the parties. However, I have some love elegies, which, 
when favoured with this lady's smiles, 1 mean to give the public. 

{Pointing to Maria. 

Crab. [To Maria.] 'Fore heaven, ma'am, they'll immortalize 
you! — you will be handed down to posterity, like Petrarch's Laura, 
or Waller's Sacharissa. 

Sir Ben. \To Maria.] Yes, madam, I think you will like them, 
when you shall see them on a beautiful quarto page, where a neat 
rivulet of text shall meander through a meadow of margin. 'Fore 
Gad they will be the most elegant things of their kind! 

Crab. But, ladies, that's true — have you heard the news? 

Mrs. Can. What, sir, do you mean the report of — 

Crab. No, ma'am, that's not it. — Miss Nicely is going to be mar- 
ried to her own footman. 

Mrs. Can. Impossible! 

Crab. Ask Sir Benjamin. 

Sir Ben. 'Tis very true, ma'am: every thing is fixed, and the wed- 
ding liveries bespoke. 

Crab. Yes — and they do say there were pressing reasons for it. 

Lady Sneer, Why, I have heard something of this before. 

Mrs. Can. It can't be — and I wonder any one should believe such 
a story of so prudent a lady as Miss Nicely. 

Sir Ben. O Lud! ma'am, that's the very reason 'twas believed at 
once. She has always been so cautious and so reserved, that every 
body was sure there was some reason for it at bottom. 

Mrs. Can. Why, to be sure, a tale of scandal is as fatal to the credit 
of a prudent lady of her stamp as a fever is generally to those of the 
strongest constitutions. But there is a sort of puny sickly reputation, 
that is always ailing, yet will outlive the robuster characters of a 
hundred prudes. 

Sir Ben. True, madam, there are valetudinarians in reputation as 
well as constitution, who, being conscious of their weak part, avoid 



124 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

the least breath of air, and supply their want of stamina by care and 
circumspection. 

Mrs. Can. Well, but this may be all a mistake. You know. Sir 
Benjamin, very trifling circumstances often give rise to the most 
injurious tales. 

Crab. That they do, I'll be sworn, ma'am. Did you ever hear how 
Miss Piper came to lose her lover and her character last summer at 
Tunbridge? — Sir Benjamin, you remember it? 

Sir Ben. Oh, to be sure! — the most whimsical circumstance. 

Lady Sneer. How was it, pray ? 

Crab. Why, one evening, at Mrs. Ponto's assembly, the conversa- 
tion happened to turn on the breeding Nova Scotia sheep in this 
country. Says a young lady in company, "I have known instances 
of it; for Miss Letitia Piper, a first cousin of mine, had a Nova 
Scotia sheep that produced her twins." "What!" cries the Lady 
Dowager Dundizzy (who you know is as deaf as a post), "has Miss 
Piper had twins?" This mistake, as you may imagine, threw the 
whole company into a fit of laughter. However, 'twas the next 
morning everywhere reported, and in a few days believed by the 
whole town, that Miss Letitia Piper had actually been brought to bed 
of a fine boy and a girl: and in less than a week there were some 
people who could name the father, and the farm-house where the 
babies were put to nurse. 

Lady Sneer. Strange, indeed! 

Crab. Matter of fact, I assure you. O Lud! Mr. Surface, pray is 
it true that your uncle. Sir Oliver, is coming home? 

Jos. Surf. Not that I know of, indeed, sir. 

Crab. He has been in the East Indies a long time. You can scarcely 
remember him, I believe ? Sad comfort, whenever he returns, to hear 
how your brother has gone on! 

Jos. Surf. Charles has been imprudent, sir, to be sure; but I hope 
no busy people have already prejudiced Sir Oliver against him. He 
may reform. 

Sir Ben. To be sure he may : for my part, I never believed him to 
be so utterly void of principle as people say; and, though he has lost 
all his friends, I am told nobody is better spoken of by the Jews. 

Crab. That's true, egad, nephew. If the Old Jewry was a ward, 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCA>fDAL 1 25 

I believe Charles would be an alderman: no man more popular 
there, 'fore Gad! I hear he pays as many annuities as the Irish ton- 
tine; and that, whenever he is sick, they have prayers for the re- 
covery of his health in all the synagogues. 

Sir Ben. Yet no man lives in greater splendour. They tell me, 
when he entertains his friends he will sit down to dinner with a 
dozen of his own securities; have a score of tradesmen waiting in the 
antechamber, and an officer behind every guest's chair. 

Jos. Surf. This may be entertainment to you, gentlemen, but you 
pay very little regard to the feelings of a brother. 

Mar. [Aside.] Their maUce is intolerable! — [Aloud.] Lady Sneer- 
well, I must wish you a good morning: I'm not very well. [Exit. 

Mrs. Can. O dear! she changes colour very much. 

Lady Sneer. Do, Mrs. Candour, follow her: she may want your 
assistance. 

Mrs. Can. That I will, with all my soul, ma'am. — Poor dear girl, 
who knows what her situation may be! [Exit. 

Lady Sneer. 'Twas nothing but that she could not bear to hear 
Charles reflected on, notwithstanding their difference. 

Sir Ben. The young lady's penchant is obvious. 

Crab. But, Benjamin, you must not give up the pursuit for that: 
follow her, and put her into good humour. Repeat her some of your 
own verses. Come, I'll assist you. 

Sir Ben. Mr. Surface, I did not mean to hurt you; but depend 
on't your brother is utterly undone. 

Crab. O Lud, ay! undone as ever man was — can't raise a guinea! 

Sir Ben. And everything sold, I'm told, that was movable. 

Crab. I have seen one that was at his house. Not a thing left but 
some empty bottles that were overlooked, and the family pictures, 
which I believe are framed in the wainscots. 

Sir Ben. And I'm very sorry also to hear some bad stories against 
him. [Going. 

Crab. Oh, he has done many mean things, that's certain. 

Sir Ben. But, however, as he's your brother— 

[ Going. 

Crab. We'll tell you all another opportunity. 

[Exeunt Crabtree and Sir Benjamin. 



126 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Lady Sneer. Ha! ha! 'tis very hard for them to leave a subject 
they have not quite run down. 

Jos, Surf. And I believe the abuse was no more acceptable to your 
ladyship than Maria. 

Lady Sneer. I doubt her affections are farther engaged than we 
imagine. But the family are to be here this evening, so you may as 
well dine where you are, and we shall have an opportunity of observ- 
ing farther; in the meantime, I'll go and plot mischief, and you shall 
study sentiment. 

[Exeunt. 

Scene II. — A Room in Sir Peter Teazle's House 

Enter Sir Peter Teazle 

Sir Pet. When an old bachelor marries a young wife, what is he 
to expect ? 'Tis now six months since Lady Teazle made me the hap- 
piest of men — and I have been the most miserable dog ever since! 
We tiffed a little going to church, and fairly quarrelled before the 
bell had done ringing. I was more than once nearly choked with 
gall during the honeymoon, and had lost all comfort in life before 
my friends had done wishing me joy. Yet I chose with caution — a 
girl bred wholly in the country, who never knew luxury beyond one 
silk gown, nor dissipation above the annual gala of a race ball. Yet 
she now plays her part in all the extravagant fopperies of fashion 
and the town, with as ready a grace as if she never had seen a bush 
or a grass-plot out of Grosvenor Square! I am sneered at by all my 
acquaintance, and paragraphed in the newspapers. She dissipates 
my fortune, and contradicts all my humours; yet the worst of it is, 
I doubt I love her, or I should never bear all this. However, I'll 
never be weak enough to own it. 

Enter Rowley 

Row. Oh! Sir Peter, your servant: how is it with you, sir? 
Sir Pet. Very bad. Master Rowley, very bad. I meet with nothing 
but crosses and vexations. 
Row. What can have happened since yesterday? 
Sir Pet. A good question to a married man! 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL \T] 

Row. Nay, I'm sure, Sir Peter, your lady can't be the cause of 
your uneasiness. 

Sir Pet. Why, has any body told you she was dead ? 

Row. Come, come, Sir Peter, you love her, notwithstanding your 
tempers don't exactly agree. 

Sir Pet. But the fault is entirely hers. Master Rowley. I am, my- 
self, the sweetest-tempered man alive, and hate a teasing temper; 
and so I tell her a hundred times a day. 

Row. Indeed! 

Sir Pet. Ay; and what is very extraordinary, in all our disputes 
she is always in the wrong! But Lady Sneerwell, and the set she 
meets at her house, encourage the perverseness of her disposition. 
Then, to complete my vexation, Maria, my ward, whom I ought to 
have the power of a father over, is determined to turn rebel too, 
and absolutely refuses the man whom I have long resolved on for 
her husband; meaning, I suppose, to bestow herself on his profligate 
brother. 

Row. You know. Sir Peter, I have always taken the liberty to 
differ with you on the subject of these two young gentlemen, I only 
wish you may not be deceived in your opinion of the elder. For 
Charles, my Ufe on't! he will retrieve his errors yet. Their worthy 
father, once my honoured master, was, at his years, nearly as wild a 
spark; yet, when he died, he did not leave a more benevolent heart 
to lament his loss. 

Sir Pet. You are wrong. Master Rowley, On their father's death, 
you know, I acted as a kind of guardian to them both, till their uncle 
Sir Oliver's liberality gave them an early independence. Of course, 
no person could have more opportunities of judging of their hearts, 
and I was never mistaken in my life. Joseph is indeed a model for 
the young men of the age. He is a man of sentiment, and acts up to 
the sentiments he professes; but for the other, take my word for't, 
if he had any grain of virtue by descent, he has dissipated it with the 
rest of his inheritance. Ah! my old friend. Sir Ohver, will be deeply 
mortified when he finds how part of his bounty has been misapplied. 

Row. I am sorry to find you so violent against the young man, 
because this may be the most critical period of his fortune. I came 
hither with news that will surprise you. 



128 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Sir Pet. What! let me hear. 

Row. Sir Oliver is arrived, and at this moment in town. 

Sir Pet. How! you astonish me! I thought you did not expect him 
this month. 

Row. I did not: but his passage has been remarkably quick. 

Sir Pet. Egad, I shall rejoice to see my old friend. 'Tis sixteen 
years since we met. We have had many a day together: — but does 
he still enjoin us not to inform his nephews of his arrival? 

Row. Most strictly. He means, before it is known, to make some 
trial of their dispositions. 

Sir Pet. Ah! there needs no art to discover their merits — however, 
he shall have his way; but, pray, does he know I am married.? 

Row. Yes, and will soon wish you joy. 

Sir Pet. What, as we drink health to a friend in a consumption! 
Ah! Oliver will laugh at me. We used to rail at matrimony together, 
but he has been steady to his text. Well, he must be soon at my house, 
though — I'll instantly give orders for his reception. But, Master 
Rowley, don't drop a word that Lady Teazle and I ever disagree. 

Row. By no means. 

Sir Pet. For I should never be able to stand Noll's jokes; so I'll 
have him think. Lord forgive me! that we are a very happy couple. 

Row. I understand you: — but then you must be very careful not 
to differ while he is in the house with you. 

Sir Pet. Egad, and so we must — and that's impossible. Ah! Master 
Rowley, when an old bachelor marries a young wife, he deserves — 
no — the crime carries its punishment along with it. 

ACT SECOND 
Scene I. — A Room in Sir Peter Teazle's House 
Enter Sir Peter and Lady Teazle 
Sir Pet. Lady Teazle, Lady Teazle, I'll not bear it! 
Lady Teaz. Sir Peter, Sir Peter, you may bear it or not, as you 
please; but I ought to have my own way in every thing, and, what's 
more, I will too. What! though I was educated in the country, I 
know very well that women of fashion in London are accountable to 
nobody after they are married. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 1 29 

Sir Pet. Very well, ma'am, very well; so a husband is to have no 
influence, no authority? 

Lady Teaz. Authority! No, to be sure: if you wanted authority 
over me, you should have adopted me, and not married me : I'm sure 
you were old enough. 

Sir Pet. Old enough! — ay, there it is. Well, well. Lady Teazle, 
though my life may be made unhappy by your temper, I'll not be 
ruined by your extravagance! 

iMciy Teaz. My extravagance! I'm sure I'm not more extravagant 
than a woman of fashion ought to be. 

Sir Pet. No, no, madam, you shall throw away no more sums on 
such unmeaning luxury. 'Slifel to spend as much to furnish your 
dressing-room with flowers in winter as would suffice to turn the 
Pantheon into a greenhouse, and give a fete champetre at Christmas. 

Lady Teaz. And am I to blame, Sir Peter, because flowers are dear 
in cold weather? You should find fault with the climate, and not 
with me. For my part, I'm sure I wish it was spring all the year 
round, and that roses grew under our feet! 

Sir Pet. Oons! madam — if you had been born to this, I shouldn't 
wonder at you talking thus; but you forget what your situation was 
when I married you. 

Lady Teaz. No, no, I don't; 'twas a very disagreeable one, or I 
should never have married you. 

Sir Pet. Yes, yes, madam, you were then in somewhat a humbler 
style — the daughter of a plain country squire. Recollect, Lady 
Teazle, when I saw you first sitting at your tambour, in a pretty 
figured linen gown, with a bunch of keys at your side, your hair 
combed smooth over a roll, and your apartment hung round with 
fruits in worsted, of your own working. 

Lady Teaz. Oh, yes! I remember it very well, and a curious life 
I led. My daily occupation to inspect the dairy, superintend the poul- 
try, make extracts from the family receipt-book, and comb my aunt 
Deborah's lapdog. 

Sir Pet. Yes, yes, ma'am, 'twas so indeed. 

Lady Teaz. And then you know, my evening amusements! To 
draw patterns for ruffles, which I had not materials to make up; to 
play Pope Joan with the curate; to read a sermon to my aunt; or to 



130 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

be stuck down to an old spinet to strum my father to sleep after a 
fox<hase. 

Sir Pet. I am glad you have so good a memory. Yes, madam, 
these were the recreations I took you from! but now you must have 
your coach — vis-^-vis — and three powdered footmen before your 
chair; and, in the summer, a pair of white cats to draw you to Ken- 
sington Gardens. No recollection, I suppose, when you were con- 
tent to ride double, behind the butler, on a docked coach-horse. 

Lady Teaz. No — I swear I never did that: I deny the butler and 
the coach-horse. 

Sir Pet. This, madam, was your situation; and what have I done 
for you ? I have made you a woman of fashion, of fortune, of rank — 
in short, I have made you my wife. 

Lady Teaz. Well, then, and there is but one thing more you can 
oiake me to add to the obligation, this is — 

Sir Pet. My widow, I suppose? 

Lady Teaz. Hem! hem! 

Sir Pet. I thank you, madam — but don't flatter yourself, for, though 
your ill conduct may disturb my peace of mind, it shall never break 
my heart, I promise you ; however, I am equally obliged to you for 
the hint. 

Lady Teaz. Then why will you endeavour to make yourself so 
disagreeable to me, and thwart me in every little elegant expense? 

Sir Pet. 'Slife, madam, I say, had you any of these little elegant 
expenses when you married me ? 

Lady Teaz. Lud, Sir Peter! would you have me be out of the 
fashion ? 

Sir Pet. The fashion, indeed! what had you to do with the fash- 
ion before you married me? 

Lady Teaz. For my part, I should think you would like to have 
your wife thought a woman of taste. 

Sir Pet. Ay — there again — taste! Zounds! madam, you had no 
taste when you married me! 

Lady Teaz. That's very true, indeed. Sir Peter! and, after having 
married you, I should never pretend to taste again, I allow. But 
DOW, Sir Peter, since we have finished our daily jangle, I presume I 
may go to my engagement at Lady Sneerwell's. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL I3I 

Sir Pet. Ay, there's another precious circumstance — a charming 
set of acquaintance you have made therel 

Lady Teaz. Nay, Sir Peter, they are all people of rank and for- 
tune, and remarkably tenacious of reputation. 

Sir Pet. Yes, egad, they are tenacious of reputation with a ven- 
geance; for they don't choose anybody should have a character but 
themselves! Such a crew! Ah! many a wretch has rid on a hurdle 
who has done less mischief than these utterers of forged tales, 
coiners of scandal, and clippers of reputation. 

Lady Teaz. What, would you restrain the freedom of speech? 

Sir Pet, Ah I they have made you just as bad as any one of the 
society. 

Lady Teaz. Why, I believe I do bear a part with a miserable grace. 

Sir Pet. Grace indeed! 

Lady Teaz. But I vow I bear no malice against the people I abuse: 
when I say an ill-natured thing, 'tis out of pure good humour; and I 
take it for granted they deal exactly in the same manner with me. 
But, Sir Peter, you know you promised to come to Lady Sneerwell's 
too. 

Sir Pet. Well, well, I'll call in, just to look after my own character. 

Lady Teaz. Then, indeed, you must make haste after me, or you'll 
be too late. So goodbye to ye. \Exit. 

Sir Pet. So — I have gained much by my intended expostulation! 
Yet with what a charming air she contradicts every thing I say, and 
how pleasantly she shows her contempt for my authority! Well, 
though I can't make her love me, there is great satisfaction in quar- 
relling with her; and I think she never appears to such advantage as 
when she is doing every thing in her power to plague me. [Exit. 

Scene II. — A Room in Lady Sneerwell's House 

Lady Sneerwell, Mrs. Candour, Crabtree, Sir Ben- 
jamin Backbite, and Joseph SvKfKCs., discovered 

Lady Sneer. Nay, positively, we will hear it, 
Jos. Surf. Yes, yes, the epigram, by all means. 
Sir Ben. O plague on't, uncle! 'tis mere nonsense. 
Crab. No, no; 'fore Gad, very clever for an extempore! 



132 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Sir Ben. But, ladies, you should be acquainted with the circum- 
stance. You must know, that one day last week, as Lady Betty Cur- 
ricle was taking the dust in Hyde Park, in a sort of duodecimo 
phaeton, she desired me to write some verses on her ponies; upon 
which, I took out my pocket-book, and in a moment produced the 
following: — 

Sure never were seen two such beautiful f>onies; 
Other horses are clowns, but these macaronies: 
To give them this title I'm sure can't be wrong, 
Their legs are so slim, and their tails are so long. 

Crab. There, ladies, done in the smack of a whip, and on horse- 
back too. 
fos. Surf. A very Phoebus, mounted — indeed. Sir Benjamin! 
Sir Ben. Oh dear, sir! trifles — trifles. 

Enter Lady Teazle and Maria 

Mrs. Can. I must have a copy. 

Lady Sneer. Lady Teazle, I hope we shall see Sir Peter? 

LMdy Teaz. I believe he'll wait on your ladyship presently. 

LMdy Sneer. Maria, my love, you look grave. Come, you shall sit 
down to piquet with Mr. Surface. 

Mar. I take very little pleasure in cards — however, I'll do as your 
ladyship pleases. 

Lady Teaz. I am surprised Mr. Surface should sit down with her; 
I thought he would have embraced this opportunity of speaking to 
me before Sir Peter came. [Aside. 

Mrs. Can. Now, I'll die, but you are so scandalous, I'll forswear 
your society. 

Lady Teaz. What's the matter, Mrs. Candour ? 

Mrs. Can. They'll not allow our friend Miss Vermilion to be 
handsome. 

Lady Sneer. Oh, surely she is a pretty woman. 

Crab. I am very glad you think so, ma'am. 

Mrs. Can. She has a charming fresh colour. 

Lady Teaz. Yes, when it is fresh put on. 

Mrs. Can. Oh, fie! I'll swear her colour is natural: I have seen it 
come and go! 



THE SCHCXJL FOR SCANDAL I33 

Lady Teaz. I dare swear you have, ma'am: it goes off at night, 
and comes again in the morning. 

Sir Ben. True, ma'am, it not only comes and goes; but, what's 
more, egad, her maid can fetch and carry it! 

Mrs. Can. Ha! ha! ha! how I hate to hear you talk sol But surely, 
now, her sister is, or was, very handsome. 

Crab. Who? Mrs. Evergreen? O Lord! she's six-and-fifty if 
she's an hour! 

Mrs. Can. Now positively you wrong her; fifty-two or fifty-three 
is the utmost — and I don't think she looks more. 

Sir Ben. Ah! there's no judging by her looks, unless one could 
see her face. 

Lady Sneer. Well, well, if Mrs. Evergreen does take some pains 
to repair the ravages of time, you must allow she effects it with great 
ingenuity; and surely that's better than the careless manner in 
which the widow Ochre caulks her wrinkles. 

Sir Ben. Nay, now. Lady Sneerwell, you are severe upon the 
widow. Come, come, 'tis not that she paints so ill — but, when she has 
finished her face, she joins it on so badly to her neck, that she looks 
like a mended statue, in which the connoisseur may see at once that 
the head is modern, though the trunk's antique. 

Crab. Ha! ha! ha! Well said, nephew! 

Mrs. Can. Ha! ha! ha! Well, you make me laugh; but I vow I 
hate you for it. What do you think of Miss Simper? 

Sir Ben. Why, she has very pretty teeth. 

Lady Teaz. Yes; and on that account, when she is neither speak- 
ing nor laughing (which very seldom happens), she never absolutely 
shuts her mouth, but leaves it always a-jar, as it were — thus. 

{Shows her teeth. 

Mrs. Can. How can you be so ill-natured ? 

Lady Teaz. Nay, I allow even that's better than the pains Mrs. 
Prim takes to conceal her losses in front. She draws her mouth till 
it positively resembles the aperture of a poor's-box, and all her words 
appear to slide out edgewise, as it were — thus: How do you do, 
madam? Yes, madam. [Mimics. 

Lady Sneer. Very well, Lady Teazle; I see you can be a little 
severe. 



134 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Lady Teaz. In defence of a friend it is but justice. But here comes 
Sir Peter to spoil our pleasantry. 

Enter Sir Peter Teazle 

Sir Pet. Ladies, your most obedient. — [Aside.] Mercy on me, 
here is the whole set! a character dead at every word, I suppose. 

Mrs. Can. I am rejoiced you are come, Sir Peter. They have been 
so censorious — and Lady Teazle as bad as any one. 

Sir Pet. That must be very distressing to you, indeed, Mrs. 
Candour. 

Mrs. Can. Oh, they will allow good qualities to nobody; not even 
good nature to our friend Mrs. Pursy. 

Lady Teaz. What, the fat dowager who was at Mrs. Quadrille's 
last night .i* 

Mrs. Can. Nay, her bulk is her misfortune; and, when she takes 
so much pains to get rid of it, you ought not to reflect on her. 

Lady Sneer. That's very true, indeed. 

Lady Teaz. Yes, I know she almost lives on acids and small whey; 
laces herself by pulleys; and often, in the hottest noon in summer, 
you may see her on a little squat pony, with her hair plaited up be- 
hind like a drummer's and pufSng round the Ring on a full trot. 

Mrs. Can. I thank you, Lady Teazle, for defending her. 

Sir Pet. Yes, a good defence, truly. 

Mrs. Can. Truly, Lady Teazle is as censorious as Miss Sallow. 

Crab. Yes, and she is a curious being to pretend to be censorious 
— an awkward gawky, without any one good point under heaven. 

Mrs. Can. Positively you shall not be so very severe. Miss Sallow 
is a near relation of mine by marriage, and, as for her person, great 
allowance is to be made; for, let me tell you, a woman labours under 
many disadvantages who tries to pass for a girl of six-and-thirty. 

Lady Sneer. Though, surely, she is handsome still — and for the 
weakness in her eyes, considering how much she reads by candle- 
light, it is not to be wondered at. 

Mrs. Can. True, and then as to her manner; upon my word I think 
it is particularly graceful, considering she never had the least educa- 
tion: for you know her mother was a Welsh milliner, and her father 
a sugar-baker at Bristol. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL I35 

Sir Ben. Ah! you are both of you too good-natured! 

Sir Pet. Yes, damned good-natured! This their own relation! 
mercy on me! [Aside. 

Mrs. Can. For my part, I own I cannot bear to hear a friend ill 
spoken of. 

Sir Pet. No, to be sure! 

Sir Ben. Oh! you are of a moral turn. Mrs. Candour and I can 
sit for an hour and hear Lady Stucco talk sentiment. 

Lady Teaz. Nay, I vow Lady Stucco is very well with the dessert 
after dinner; for she's just like the French fruit one cracks for 
mottoes — made up of paint and proverb. 

Mrs. Can. Well, I will never join in ridiculing a friend; and so I 
constantly tell my cousin Ogle, and you all know what pretensions 
she has to be critical on beauty. 

Crab. Oh, to be sure! she has herself the oddest countenance that 
ever was seen; 'tis a collection of features from all the different coun- 
tries of the globe. 

Sir Ben. So she has, indeed — ^an Irish front — 

Crab. Caledonian locks — 

Sir Ben. Dutch nose — 

Crab. Austrian lips — 

Sir Ben. Complexion of a Spaniard — 

Crab. And teeth i la Chinoise — 

Sir Ben. In short, her face resembles a table d'hdte at Spa — where 
no two guests are of a nation — 

Crab. Or a congress at the close of a general war — wherein all 
the members, even to her eyes, appear to have a different interest, 
and her nose and chin are the only parties Ukely to join issue. 

Mrs. Can. Ha! ha! ha! 

Sir Pet. Mercy on my life! — a person they dine with twice a 
week! [Aside. 

Mrs. Can. Nay, but I vow you shall not carry the laugh off so — 
for give me leave to say, that Mrs. Ogle — 

Sir Pet. Madam, madam, I beg your pardon — there's no stopping 
these good gentlemen's tongues. But when I tell you, Mrs. Candour, 
that the lady they are abusing is a particular friend of mine, I hope 
you'll not take her part. 



136 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Lady Sneer. Ha! ha! ha I well said, Sir Peter! but you are a cruel 
creature — too phlegmatic yourself for a jest, and too peevish to allow 
wit in others. 

Sir Pet. Ah, madam, true wit is more nearly allied to good nature 
than your ladyship is aware of. 

Lady Teaz. True, Sir Peter: I believe they are so near akin that 
they can never be united. 

Sir Ben. Or rather, suppose them man and wife, because one 
seldom sees them together. 

Lady Teaz. But Sir Peter is such an enemy to scandal, I believe he 
would have it put down by parliament. 

Sir Pet. 'Fore heaven, madam, if they were to consider the sport- 
ing with reputation of as much importance as poaching on manors, 
and pass an act for the preservation of fame, as well as game, I be- 
lieve many would thank them for the bill. 

Lady Sneer. O Lud! Sir Peter; would you deprive us of our 
privileges? 

Sir Pet. Ay, madam; and then no person should be permitted to 
kill characters and run down reputations, but qualified old maids 
and disappointed widows. 

Lady Sneer. Go, you monster! 

Mrs. Can. But surely, you would not be quite so severe on those 
who only report what they hear ? 

Sir Pet. Yes, madam, I would have law merchant for them too; 
and in all cases of slander currency, whenever the drawer of the lie 
was not to be found, the injured parties should have a right to come 
on any of the indorsers. 

Crab. Well, for my part, I believe there never was a scandalous 
tale without some foundation. 

Lady Sneer. Come, ladies, shall we sit down to cards in the next 
room? 

Enter Servant, u/ho whispers Sir Peter 

Sir Pet. I'll be with them directly. — [Exit Servant.] I'll get away 
unperceived. [Aside. 

Lady Sneer. Sir Peter, you are not going to leave us? 

Sir Pet. Your ladyship must excuse me; I'm called away by par- 
ticular business. But I leave my character behind me. [Exit, 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL I37 

Sir Ben. Well — certainly, Lady Teazle, that lord of yours is a 
strange being: I could tell you some stories of him would make you 
laugh heartily if he were not your husband. 

Lady Teaz. Oh, pray don't mind that; come, do let's hear them. 
[Exeunt all but Joseph Surface and Maria. 

Jos. Surf. Maria, I see you have no satisfaction in this society. 

Mar. How is it possible I should? If to raise malicious smiles at 
the infirmities or misfortunes of those who have never injured us be 
the province of wit or humour, Heaven grant me a double portion 
of dulness! 

Jos. Surf. Yet they appear more ill-natured than they are; they 
have no malice at heart. 

Mar. Then is their conduct still more contemptible; for, in my 
opinion, nothing could excuse the intemperance of their tongues 
but a natural and uncontrollable bitterness of mind. 

Jos. Surf. Undoubtedly, madam; and it has always been a senti- 
ment of mine, that to propagate a malicious truth wantonly is more 
despicable than to falsify from revenge. But can you, Maria, feel thus 
for others, and be unkind to me alone? Is hope to be denied the 
tenderest passion? 

Mar. Why will you distress me by renewing this subject? 

Jos. Surf. Ah, Maria! you would not treat me thus, and oppose 
your guardian, Sir Peter's will, but that I see that profligate Charles 
is still a favoured rival. 

Mar. Ungenerously urged! But, whatever my sentiments are for 
that unfortunate young man, be assured I shall not feel more bound 
to give him up, because his distresses have lost him the regard even 
of a brother. 

Jos. Surf. Nay, but, Maria, do not leave me with a frown: by all 
that is honest, I swear — [Kneels. 

Re-enter Lady Teazle behind 

[Aside.] Gad's life, here's Lady Teazle. — [Aloud to Maria.] You 
must not — no, you shall not — for, though I have the greatest regard 
for Lady Teazle — 

Mar. Lady Teazle! 

Jos. Surf. Yet were Sir Peter to suspect — 



138 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

LadyTeaz. [Comtng jorward.] What is this, pray ? Does he take 
her for me? — Child, you are wanted in the next room. — [Exit 
Maria.] What is all this, pray.? 

Jos. Surf. Oh, the most unlucky circumstance in nature! Maria 
has somehow suspected the tender concern I have for your happiness, 
and threatened to acquaint Sir Peter with her suspicions, and I was 
just endeavouring to reason with her when you came in. 

Lady Teaz. Indeed! but you seemed to adopt a very tender mode 
of reasoning — do you usually argue on your knees.? 

Jos. Surf. Oh, she's a child, and I thought a little bombast — But, 
Lady Teazle, when are you to give me your judgment on my library, 
as you promised ? 

Lady Teaz. No, no; I begin to think it would be imprudent, and 
you know I admit you as a lover no farther than fashion requires. 

fos. Surf. True — a mere Platonic cicisbeo, what every wife is en- 
titled to. 

Lady Teaz. Certainly, one must not be out of the fashion. How- 
ever, I have so many of my country prejudices left, that, though Sir 
Peter's ill humour may vex me ever so, it never shall provoke me to — 

fos. Surf. The only revenge in your power. Well, I applaud your 
moderation. 

Lady Teaz. Go — you are an insinuating wretch! But we shall be 
missed — let us join the company. 

Jos. Surf. But we had best not return together. 

Lady Teaz. Well, don't stay; for Maria sha'n't come to hear any 
more of your reasoning, I promise you. [Exit. 

Jos. Surf. A curious dilemma, truly, my politics have run me into! 
I wanted, at first, only to ingratiate myself with Lady Teazle, that 
she might not be my enemy with Maria; and I have, I don't know 
how, become her serious lover. Sincerely I begin to wish I had never 
made such a point of gaining so very good a character, for it has led 
me into so many cursed rogueries that I doubt I shall be exposed at 
last. [Exit. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 139 

Scene IIL — A Room in Sir Peter Teazle's House 
Enter Sir Oliver Surface and Rowley 

Sir Oliv. Ha! ha! ha! so my old friend is married, hey? — a young 
wife out of the country. Ha! ha! ha! that he should have stood 
bluff to old bachelor so long, and sink into a husband at last! 

Row. But you must not rally him on the subject. Sir OUver; 'tis 
a tender point, I assure you, though he has been married only seven 
months. 

Sir Oliv. Then he has been just half a year on the stool of repent- 
ance! — Poor Peter! But you say he has entirely given up Charles — 
never sees him, hey? 

Row. His prejudice against him is astonishing, and I am sure 
greatly increased by a jealousy of him with Lady Teazle, which he 
has industriously been led into by a scandalous society in the neigh- 
bourhood, who have contributed not a little to Charles's ill name. 
Whereas the truth is, I believe, if the lady is partial to either of them, 
his brother is the favourite. 

Sir Oliv. Ay, I know there are a set of malicious, prating, prudent 
gossips, both male and female, who murder characters to kill time, 
and will rob a young fellow of his good name before he has years 
to know the value of it. But I am not to be prejudiced against my 
nephew by such, I promise you! No, no: if Charles has done nothing 
false or mean, I shall compound for his extravagance. 

Row. Then, my life on't, you will reclaim him. Ah, sir, it gives 
me new life to find that your heart is not turned against him, and 
that the son of my good old master has one friend, however, left. 

Sir Oliv. What! shall I forget. Master Rowley, when I was at his 
years myself? Egad, my brother and I were neither of us very pru- 
dent youths; and yet, I believe, you have not seen many better men 
than your old master was ? 

Row. Sir, 'tis this reflection gives me assurance that Charles may 
yet be a credit to his family. But here comes Sir Peter. 

Sir Oliv. Egad, so he does! Mercy on me! he's greatly altered, 
and seems to have a settled married look! One may read husband 
in his face at this distance! 



140 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Enter Sir Peter Teazle 

Sir Pet. Ha! Sir Oliver — my old friend! Welcome to England 
a thousand times! 

Sir Oliv. Thank you, thank you, Sir Peter! and i' faith I am glad 
to find you well, believe me! 

Sir Pet. Oh! 'tis a long time since we met^fifteen years, I doubt, 
Sir Ohver, and many a cross accident in the time. 

Sir Oliv. Ay, I have had my share. But what! I find you are mar- 
ried, hey, my old boy? Well, well, it can't be helped; and so — I 
wish you joy with all my heart! 

Sir Pet. Thank you, thank you, Sir Oliver. — Yes, I have entered 
into — the happy state; but we'll not talk of that now. 

Sir Oliv. True, true, Sir Peter; old friends should not begin on 
grievances at first meeting. No, no, no. 

Row. [Aside to Sir Oliver.] Take care, pray, sir. 

Sir Oliv. Well, so one of my nephews is a wild rogue, hey } 

Sir Pet. Wild! Ah! my old friend, I grieve for your disappoint- 
ment there; he's a lost young man, indeed. However, his brother 
will make you amends; Joseph is, indeed, what a youth should be — 
every body in the world speaks well of him. 

Sir Oliv. I am sorry to hear it; he has too good a character to be 
an honest fellow. Every body speaks well of him! Psha! then he has 
bowed as low to knaves and fools as to the honest dignity of genius 
and virtue. 

Sir Pet. What, Sir Oliver! do you blame him for not making 
enemies? 

Sir Oliv. Yes, if he has merit enough to deserve them. 

5/V Pet. Well, well — you'll be convinced when you know him. 
'Tis edification to bear him converse; he professes the noblest senti- 
ments. 

Sir Oliv. Oh, plague of his sentiments! If he salutes me with a 
scrap of morality in his mouth, I shall be sick directly. But, however, 
don't mistake me. Sir Peter; I don't mean to defend Charles's errors: 
but, before I form my judgment of either of them, I intend to make 
a trial of their hearts; and my friend Rowley and I have planned 
something for the purpose. 



THE SCHCXJL FOR SCANDAL. I41 

Row. And Sir Peter shall own for once he has been mistaken. 

Sir Pet. Oh, my life on Joseph's honour! 

Sir Oliv. Well — come, give us a bottle of good wine, and we'll 
drink the lads' health, and tell you our scheme. 

Sir Pet. Allans, then! 

Sir Oliv. And don't. Sir Peter, be so severe against your old friend's 
son. Odds my life! I am not sorry that he has run out of the course 
a little: for my part, I hate to see prudence clinging to the green suck- 
ers of youth; 'tis like ivy round a sapling, and spoils the growth of 
the tree. [Exeunt. 

ACT THIRD 
Scene I. — A Room in Sir Peter Teazle's House 

Enter Sir Peter Teazle, Sir Oliver Surface, and Rowley 

Sir Pet. Well, then, we will see this fellow first, and have our 
wine afterwards. But how is this, Master Rowley? I don't see the 
jest of your scheme. 

Row. Why, sir, this Mr. Stanley, whom I was speaking of, is nearly 
related to them by their mother. He was once a merchant in Dublin, 
but has been ruined by a series of undeserved misfortunes. He has 
applied, by letter, since his confinement, both to Mr. Surface and 
Charles: from the former he has received nothing but evasive prom- 
ises of future service, while Charles has done all that his extravagance 
has left him power to do; and he is, at this time, endeavouring to 
raise a sum of money, part of which, in the midst of his own dis- 
tresses, I know he intends for the service of poor Stanley. 

Sir Oliv. Ah! he is my brother's son. 

Sir Pet. Well, but how is Sir Oliver personally to — 

Row. Why, sir, I will inform Charles and his brother that Stanley 
has obtained permission to apply personally to his friends; and, as 
they have neither of them ever seen him, let Sir Oliver assume his 
character, and he will have a fair opportunity of judging, at least, of 
the benevolence of their dispositions: and believe me, sir, you will 
find in the youngest brother one who, in the midst of folly and dis- 
sipadon, has still, as our immortal bard expresses it, — 



142 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

"a heart to pity, and a hand, 
Of)en as day, for melting charity." 

Sir Pet. Psha! What signifies his having an open hand or purse 
either, when he has nothing left to give? Well, well, make the trial, 
if you please. But where is the fellow whom you brought for Sir 
Oliver to examine, relative to Charles's affairs? 

Row. Below, waiting his commands, and no one can give him 
better intelligence. — This, Sir Oliver, is a friendly Jew, who, to do 
him justice, has done every thing in his power to bring your nephew 
to a proper sense of his extravagance. 

Sir Pet. Pray let us have him in. 

Row. Desire Mr. Moses to walk up stairs. \ Calls to Servant. 

Sir Pet. But, pray, why should you suppose he will speak the truth ? 

Row. Oh, I have convinced him that he has no chance of recover- 
ing certain sums advanced to Charles but through the bounty of 
Sir Oliver, who he knows is arrived; so that you may depend on his 
fidelity to his own interests. I have another evidence in my power, 
one Snake, whom I have detected in a matter little short of forgery, 
and shall shortly produce to remove some of your prejudices, Sir 
Peter, relative to Charles and Lady Teazle. 

Sir Pet. I have heard too much on that subject. 

Row. Here comes the honest Israelite. 

Enter Moses 

— This is Sir Oliver. 

Sir Olif. Sir, I understand you have lately had great dealings with 
my nephew Charles? 

Mos. Yes, Sir Oliver, I have done all I could for him; but he was 
ruined before he came to me for assistance. 

Sir Oliv. That was unlucky, truly; for you have had no oppor- 
tunity of showing your talents. 

Mos. None at all; I hadn't the pleasure of knowing his distresses 
till he was some thousands worse than nothing. 

Sir Oliv. Unfortunate, indeed! But I suppose you have done all 
in your jxjwer for him, honest Moses? 

Mos. Yes, he knows that. This very evening I was to have brought 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 1 43 

him a gentleman from the city, who does not know him, and will, 
I believe, advance him some money. 

Sir Pet. What, one Charles has never had money from before ? 

Mos. Yes, Mr. Premium, of Crutched Friars, formerly a broker. 

Sir Pet. Egad, Sir Oliver, a thought strikes me! — Charles, you say, 
does not know Mr. Premium? 

Mos. Not at all. 

Sir Pet. Now then, Sir Oliver, you may have a better opportunity 
of satisfying yourself than by an old romancing tale of a poor rela- 
tion: go with my friend Moses, and represent Premium, and then, 
I'll answer for it, you'll see your nephew in all his glory. 

Sir Oliv. Egad, I like this idea better than the other, and I may 
visit Joseph afterwards as old Stanley. 

Sir Pet. True — so you may. 

Row. Well, this is taking Charles rather at a disadvantage, to be 
sure. However, Moses, you understand Sir Peter, and will be faith- 
ful? 

Mos. You may depend upon me. — [Loo\s at his watch.] This is 
near the time I was to have gone. 

Sir Oliv. I'll accompany you as soon as you please, Moses — But 
hold! I have forgot one thing — how the plague shall I be able to 
pass for a Jew ? 

Mos. There's no need — the principal is Christian. 

Sir Oliv. Is he? I'm very sorry to hear it. But, then again, ain't 
I rather too smartly dressed to look like a money lender? 

Sir Pet. Not at all; 'twould not be out of character, if you went 
in your own carriage — would it, Moses? 

Mos. Not in the least. 

Sir Oliv. Well, but how must I talk; there's certainly some cant 
of usury and mode of treating that I ought to know? 

Sir Pet. Oh, there's not much to learn. The great point, as I take 
it, is to be exorbitant enough in your demands. Hey, Moses? 

Mos. Yes, that's a very great point. 

Sir Oliv. I'll answer for't I'll not be wanting in that. I'll ask him 
eight or ten per cent, on the loan, at least. 

Mos. If you ask him no more than that, you'll be discovered im- 
mediately. 



144 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Sir Oliv. Hey! what, the plague! how much then? 

Mos. That depends upon the circumstances. If he appears not very 
anxious for the supply, you should require only forty or fifty per 
cent.; but if you find him in great distress, and want the moneys 
very bad, you may ask double. 

Sir Pet. A good honest trade you're learning, Sir Oliverl 

Sir Oliv. Truly, I think so — and not unprofitable. 

Mos. Then, you know, you haven't the moneys yourself, but are 
forced to borrow them for him of a friend. 

Sir Oliv. Oh! I borrow it of a friend, do I? 

Mos. And your friend is an unconscionable dog: but you can't 
help that. 

Sir Oliv. My friend an unconscionable dog, is he? 

Mos. Yes, and he himself has not the moneys by him, but is forced 
to sell stock at a great loss. 

Sir Oliv. He is forced to sell stock at a great loss, is he? Well, 
that's very kind of him. 

Sir Pet. r faith. Sir Oliver — Mr. Premium, I mean — you'll soon 
be master of the trade. But, Moses! would not you have him run out 
a little against the Annuity Bill? That would be in character, I 
should think. 

Mos. Very much. 

Row. And lament that a young man now must be at years of 
discretion before he is suffered to ruin himself? 

Mos. Ay, great pity! 

Sir Pet. And abuse the public for allowing merit to an act whose 
only object is to snatch misfortune and imprudence from the rapa- 
cious gripe of usury, and give the minor a chance of inheriting his 
estate without being undone by coming into possession. 

Sir Oliv. So, so — Moses shall give me farther instructions as we 
go together. 

Sir Pet. You will not have much time, for your nephew lives 
hard by. 

Sir Oliv. Oh, never fear! my tutor appears so able, that though 
Charles lived in the next street, it must be my own fault if I am not 
a complete rogue before I turn the corner. [Exit with Moses. 

Sir Pet. So, now, I think Sir Oliver will be convinced: you are 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 1 45 

partial, Rowley, and would have prepared Charles for the other plot. 

Row. No, upon my word. Sir Peter. 

Sir Pet. Well, go bring me this Snake, and I'll hear what he has 
to say presently. I see Maria, and want to speak with her. — [Exit 
Rowley.] I should be glad to be convinced my suspicions of Lady 
Teazle and Charles were unjust. I have never yet opened my mind 
on this subject to my friend Joseph — I am determined I will do it — 
he will give me his opinion sincerely. 

Enter Maria 

So, child, has Mr. Surface returned with you? 

Mar. No, sir; he was engaged. 

Sir Pet. Well, Maria, do you not reflect, the more you converse 
with that amiable young man, what return his partiality for you 
deserves? 

Mar. Indeed, Sir Peter, your frequent importunity on this subject 
distresses me extremely — you compel me to declare, that I know no 
man who has ever paid me a particular attention whom I would not 
prefer to Mr. Surface. 

Sir Pet. So — here's perverseness! No, no, Maria, 'tis Charles only 
whom you would prefer. 'Tis evident his vices and follies have won 
your heart. 

Mar. This is unkind, sir. You know I have obeyed you in neither 
seeing nor corresponding with him: I have heard enough to con- 
vince me that he is unworthy my regard. Yet I cannot think it 
culpable, if while my understanding severely condemns his vices, 
my heart suggests some pity for his distresses. 

Sir Pet. Well, well, pity him as much as you please; but give your 
heart and hand to a worthier object. 

Mar. Never to his brother! 

Sir Pet. Go, perverse and obstinate! But take care, madam; you 
have never yet known what the authority of a guardian is: don't 
compel me to inform you of it. 

Mar. I can only say, you shall not have just reason. 'Tis true, by 
my father's will, I am for a short period bound to regard you as his 
substitute; but must cease to think you so, when you would compel 
me to be miserable. [Exit. 



146 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Sir Pet. Was ever man so crossed as I am, every thing conspiring 
to fret me! I had not been involved in matrimony a fortnight, before 
her father, a hale and hearty man, died, on purpose, I believe, for 
the pleasure of plaguing me with the care of his daughter. — [Lady 
Teazle sings without.] But here comes my helpmate! She appears 
in great good humour. How happy I should be if I could tease her 
into loving me, though but a little! 

Enter Lady Teazle 

Lady Teazle. Lud! Sir Peter, I hope you haven't been quarrelling 
with Maria ? It is not using me well to be ill-humoured when I am 
not by. 

Sir Pet. Ah, Lady Teazle, you might have the power to make me 
good humoured at all times. 

Lady Teaz. I am sure I wish I had; for I want you to be in a 
charming sweet temper at this moment. Do be good humoured 
now, and let me have two hundred pounds, will you? 

Sir Pet. Two hundred pwunds; what, ain't I to be in a good 
humour without paying for it! But speak to me thus, and i' faith 
there's nothing I could refuse you. You shall have it; but seal me a 
bond for the repayment. 

Lady Teaz. Oh, no — there — my note of hand will do as well. 

[Offering her hand. 

Sir Pet. And you shall no longer reproach me with not giving 
you an independent settlement. I mean shortly to surprise you: but 
shall we always live thus, hey? 

Lady Teaz. If you please. I'm sure I don't care how soon we 
leave off quarrelling, provided you'll own you were tired first. 

Sir Pet. Well — then let our future contest be, who shall be most 
obliging. 

Lady Teaz. I assure you. Sir Peter, good nature becomes you. 
You look now as you did before we were married, when you used 
to walk with me under the elms, and tell me stories of what a gallant 
you were in your youth, and chuck me under the chin, you would; 
and asked me if I thought I could love an old fellow, who would 
deny me nothing — didn't you? 

Sir Pet. Yes, yes, and you were as kind and attentive — 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL I47 

Lady Teaz. Ay, so I was, and would always take your part, when 
my acquaintance used to abuse you, and turn you into ridicule. 

Sir Pet. Indeed! 

Lady Teaz. Ay, and when my cousin Sophy has called you a 
stiff, peevish old bachelor, and laughed at me for thinking of marry- 
ing one who might be my father, I have always defended you, and 
said, I didn't think you so ugly by any means. 

Sir Pet. Thank you. 

Lady Teaz. And I dared say you'd make a very good sort of a 
husband. 

Sir Pet. And you prophesied right; and we shall now be the 
happiest couple — 

Lady Teaz. And never differ again? 

Sir Pet. No, never! — though at the same time, indeed, my dear 
Lady Teazle, you must watch your temper very seriously; for in all 
our little quarrels, my dear, if you recollect, my love, you always 
began first. 

Lady Teaz. I beg your pardon, my dear Sir Peter: indeed, you 
always gave the provocation. 

Sir Pet. Now see, my angel! take care — contradicting isn't the 
way to keep friends. 

Lady Teaz. Then don't you begin it, my love! 

Sir Pet. There, now! you — you are going on. You don't perceive, 
my life, that you are just doing the very thing which you know 
always makes me angry. 

Lady Teaz. Nay, you know, if you will be angry without any 
reason, my dear — 

Sir Pet. There! now you want to quarrel again. 

Lady Teaz. No, I'm sure I don't: but, if you will be so peevish — 

Sir Pet. There now! who begins first? 

Lady Teaz. Why, you, to be sure. I said nothing — but there's no 
bearing your temper. 

Sir Pet. No, no, madam: the fault's in your own temper. 

Lady Teaz. Ay, you are just what my cousin Sophy said you 
would be. 

Sir Pet. Your cousin Sophy is a forward, impertinent gipsy. 

Lady Teaz. You are a great bear, I'm sure, to abuse my relations. 



148 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Sir Pet. Now may all the plagues of marriage be doubled on me, 
if ever I try to be friends with you any more! 

Lady Teaz. So much the better. 

Sir Pet. No, no, madam: 'tis evident you never cared a pin for 
me, and I was a madman to marry you — a pert, rural coquette, that 
had refused half the honest squires in the neighbourhood! 

Lady Teaz. And I am sure I was a fool to marry you — an old 
dangling bachelor, who was single at fifty, only because he never 
could meet with any one who would have him. 

Sir Pet. Ay, ay, madam; but you were pleased enough to listen 
to me: you never had such an offer before. 

Lady Teaz. No! didn't I refuse Sir Tivy Terrier, who every body 
said would have been a better match? for his estate is just as good 
as yours, and he has broke his neck since we have been married. 

Sir Pet. I have done with you, madam! You are an unfeeling, 
ungrateful — but there's an end of everything. I believe you capable 
of everything that is bad. Yes, madam, I now believe the reports 
relative to you and Charles, madam. Yes, madam, you and Charles 
are, not without grounds — 

Lady Teaz. Take care. Sir Peter! you had better not insinuate any 
such thing! I'll not be suspected without cause, I promise you. 

Sir Pet. Very well, madam! very well! A separate maintenance 
as soon as you please. Yes, madam, or a divorce! I'll make an ex- 
ample of myself for the benefit of all old bachelors. Let us separate, 
madam. 

Lady Teaz. Agreed! agreed! And now, my dear Sir Peter, we 
are of a mind once more, we may be the happiest couple, and never 
differ again, you know: ha! ha! ha! Well, you are going to be in a 
passion, I see, and I shall only interrupt you — so, bye! bye! [Exit. 

Sir P<r/. Plagues and tortures! can't I make her angry either! Oh, 
I am the most miserable fellow! But I'll not bear her presuming to 
keep her temper: no! she may break my heart, but she shan't keep 
her temper. [Exit. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL I49 

Scene II. — A Room in Charles Surface's House 

Enter Trip, Moses, and Sir Oliver Surface 

Trip. Here, Master Moses! if you'll stay a moment I'll try whether 
— what's the gentleman's name? 

Sir Oliv. Mr. Moses, what is my name? \Aside to Moses. 

Mos. Mr. Premium. 

Trip. Premium — very well. {Exit talking snu§. 

Sir Oliv. To judge by the servants, one wouldn't believe the master 
was ruined. But what! — sure, this was my brother's house? 

Mos. Yes, sir; Mr. Charles bought it of Mr. Joseph, with the 
furniture, pictures, &c., just as the old gentleman left it. Sir Peter 
thought it a piece of extravagance in him. 

Sir Oliv. In my mind, the other's economy in selling it to him 
was more reprehensible by half. 

Re-enter Trip 

Trip. My master says you must wait, gentlemen: he has company, 
and can't speak with you yet. 

Sir Oliv. If he knew who it was wanted to see him, perhaps he 
would not send such a message. 

Trip. Yes, yes, sir; he knows you are here — I did not forget little 
Premium: no, no, no. 

Sir Oliv. Very well; and I pray, sir, what may be your name? 

Trip. Trip, sir; my name is Trip, at your service. 

5/V Oliv. Well, then, Mr. Trip, you have a pleasant sort of place 
here, I guess? 

Trip. Why, yes — here are three or four of us pass our time agree- 
ably enough; but then our wages are sometimes a little in arrear — 
and not very great either — but fifty pounds a year, and find our own 
bags and bouquets. 

Sir Oliv. Bags and bouquets! halters and bastinadoes! [Aside. 

Trip. And i propos, Moses, have you been able to get me that 
little bill discounted? 

Sir Oliv. Wants to raise money too! — mercy on me! Has his 
distresses too, I warrant, like a lord, and afiects creditors and duns. 

[Aside. 



150 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Mos. 'Twas not to be done, indeed, Mr. Trip. 

Trip. Good lack, you surprise me! My friend Brush has indorsed 
it, and I thought when he put his name at the back of a bill 'twas 
the same as cash. 

Mos. No, 'twouldn't do. 

Trip. A small sum — but twenty pounds. Hark'ee, Moses, do you 
think you couldn't get it me by way of annuity? 

Sir Oliv. An annuity! ha! ha! a footman raise money by way of 
annuity. Well done, luxury, egad! {Aside. 

Mos. Well, but you must insure your place. 

Trip. Oh, with all my heart! I'll insure my place, and my life 
too, if you please. 

Sir Olif. It's more than I would your neck. [Aside. 

Mos. But is there nothing you could deposit? 

Trip. Why, nothing capital of my master's wardrobe has dropped 
lately; but I could give you a mortgage on some of his winter 
clothes, with equity of redemption before November — or you shall 
have the reversion of the French velvet, or a post-obit on the blue 
and silver; — these, I should think, Moses, with a few pair of point 
ruffles, as a collateral security — hey, my little fellow? 

Mos. Well, well. \Bell rings. 

Trip. Egad, I heard the bell. I believe, gentlemen, I can now 
introduce you. Don't forget the annuity, little Moses! This way, 
gentlemen, I'll insure my place, you know. 

Sir Oliv. \ Aside.] If the man be a shadow of the master, this is 
the temple of dissipation indeed! [Exeunt. 

Scene III. — Another Room in the same 

Charles Surface, Sir Harry Bumper, Careless, and Gendemen, 
discovered drinking 

Chas. Surf. 'Fore heaven, 'tis true! — there's the great degeneracy 
of the age. Many of our acquaintance have taste, spirit, and polite- 
ness; but, plague on 't, they won't drink. 

Care. It is so, indeed, Charles! they give into all the substantial 
luxuries of the table, and abstain from nothing but wine and wit. 
Oh, certainly society suf?ers by it intolerably! for now, instead of the 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCA>n)AL I5I 

social spirit of raillery that used to mantle over a glass of bright 
Burgundy, their conversation is become just like the Spa-water they 
drink, which has all the pertness and flatulency of champagne, with- 
out its spirit or flavour. 

/ Gent. But what are they to do who love play better than wine? 

Care. True! there's Sir Harry diets himself for gaming, and is 
now under a hazard regimen. 

Chas. Surf. Then he'll have the worst of it. What! you wouldn't 
train a horse for the course by keeping him from corn? For my 
part, egad, I am never so successful as when 1 am a little merry: 
let me throw on a bottle of champagne, and I never lose. 

All. Hey, what ? 

Care. At least I never feel my losses, which is exactly the same 
thing. 

2 Gent. Ay, that I believe. 

Chas. Surf. And then, what man can pretend to be a believer in 
love, who is an abjurer of wine? 'Tis the test by which the lover 
knows his own heart. Fill a dozen bumpers to a dozen beauties, 
and she that floats at the top is the maid that has bewitched you. 

Care. Now then, Charles, be honest, and give us your real 
favourite. 

Chas. Surf. Why, I have withheld her only in compassion to you. 
If I toast her, you must give a round of her peers, which is impossible 
— on earth. 

Care. Oh! then we'll find some canonised vestals or heathen god- 
desses that will do, I warrant. 

Chas. Surf. Here, then, bumpers, you rogues! bumpers! Maria! 
Maria! — 

Sir Har. Maria who? 

Chas. Surf. Oh, damn the surname! — 'tis too formal to be regis- 
tered in Lx)ve's calendar — Maria! 

All. Maria! 

Chas. Surf. But now, Sir Harry, beware, we must have beauty 
superlative. 

Care. Nay, never study. Sir Harry: we'll stand to the toast, though 
your mistress should want an eye, and you know you have a song 
will excuse you. 



152 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Sir Har. Egad, so I have! and I'll give him the song instead of 
the lady. [Sings. 

Here's to the maiden of bashful fifteen; 

Here's to the widow of fifty; 
Here's to the flaunting extravagant quean, 

And here's to the housewife that's thrifty. 

Chorus. Let the toast pass, — 
Drink to the lass, 
I'll warrant she'll prove an excuse for the glass. 

Here's to the charmer whose dimples we prize; 

Now to the maid who has none, sir : 
Here's to the girl with a pair of blue eyes, 

And here's to the nymph with but one, sir. 
Chorus. Let the toast pass, &c. 

Here's to the maid with a bosom of snow: 
Now to her that's as brown as a berry: 

Here's to the wife with a face full of woe, 
And now to the damsel that's merry. 
Chorus. Let the toast pass, &c. 

For let 'em be clumsy, or let 'em be slim, 
Young or ancient, I care not a feather; 
So fill a pint bumper quite up to the brim. 
So fill up your glasses, nay, fill to the brim, 
And let us e'en toast them together. 
Chorus. Let the toast pass, &c. 

All. Bravo! bravo! 

Enter Trip, and whispers Charles Surface 
Chas. Surf. Gentlemen, you must excuse me a little. — Careless, 

take the chair, will you ? 
Care. Nay, pr'ythee, Charles, what now? This is one of your 

fjeerless beauties, I suppwse, has dropped in by chance? 
Chas. Surf. No, faith! To tell you the truth, 'tis a Jew and a 

broker, who are come by appointment. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 1 53 

Care. Oh, damn it! let's have the Jew in. 

/ Gent. Ay, and the broker too, by all means. 

2 Gent. Yes, yes, the Jew and the broker. 

Chas. Surf. Egad, with all my heart! — Trip, bid the gentlemen 
walk in. — [Exit Trip.] Though there's one of them a stranger, I 
can tell you. 

Care. Charles, let us give them some generous Burgundy, and 
perhaps they'll grow conscientious. 

Chas. Surf. Oh, hang 'em, no! wine does but draw forth a man's 
natural qualities; and to make them drink would only be to whet 
their knavery. 

Re-enter Trip, with Sir Oliver Surface and Moses 

Chas. Surf. So, honest Moses; walk in, pray, Mr. Premium — 
that's the gentleman's name, isn't it, Moses? 

Mos. Yes, sir. 

Chas. Surf. Set chairs, Trip. — Sit down, Mr. Premium. — Glasses, 
Trip. — [Trip gifes chairs and glasses, and exit.] Sit down, Moses. 
— Come, Mr. Premium, I'll give you a sentiment; here's Success to 
usury! — Moses, fill the gentleman a bumper. 

Mos. Success to usury! \Drinks. 

Care. Right, Moses — usury is prudence and industry, and deserves 
to succeed. 

Sir Oliv. Then here's — All the success it deserves! [Drin}{s. 

Care. No, no, that won't do! Mr. Premium, you have demurred 
at the toast, and must drink it in a pint bumper. 

/ Gent. A pint bumper, at least. 

Mos. Oh, pray, sir, consider — Mr. Premium's a gentleman. 

Care. And therefore loves good wine. 

2 Gent. Give Moses a quart glass — this is mutiny, and a high 
contempt for the chair. 

Care. Here, now for 'tl I'll see justice done to the last drop of my 
bottle. 

Sir Oliv. Nay, pray, gentlemen — I did not expect this usage. 

Chas. Surf. No, hang it, you shan't; Mr. Premium's a stranger. 

Sir Oliv. Odd! I wish I was well out of their company. [Aside. 

Care. Plague on 'em then! if they won't drink, we'll not sit down 



154 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

with them. Come, Harry, the dice are in the next room. — Charles, 
you'll join us when you have finished your business with the 
gentlemen ? 

Chas. Surf. I will! I will! — [Exeunt Sir Harry Bumper and 
Gentlemen; Careless follomng.] Careless I 

Care. [Returning.] Well! 

Chas. Surf. Perhaps I may want you. 

Care. Oh, you know I am always ready: word, note, or bond, 'tis 
all the same to me. [Exit. 

Mos. Sir, this is Mr. Premium, a gentleman of the strictest honour 
and secrecy; and always performs what he undertakes. Mr. Premium, 
this is — 

Chas. Surf. Psha! have done. Sir, my friend Moses is a very honest 
fellow, but a little slow at expression: he'll be an hour giving us our 
titles. Mr. Premium, the plain state of the matter is this: I am an 
extravagant young fellow who wants to borrow money; you I take 
to be a prudent old fellow, who have got money to lend. I am block- 
head enough to give fifty f>er cent, sooner than not have it; and you, 
I presume, are rogue enough to take a hundred if you can get it. 
Now, sir, you see we are acquainted at once, and may proceed to 
business without further ceremony. 

Sir Oliv. Exceeding frank, upon my word. I see, sir, you are not 
a man of many compliments. 

Chas. Surf. Oh, no, sir! plain dealing in business I always think 
best. 

Sir Oliv. Sir, I like you better for it. However, you are mistaken 
in one thing; I have no money to lend, but I believe I could procure 
some of a friend; but then he's an unconscionable dog. Isn't he, 
Moses? And must sell stock to accommodate you. Mustn't he, 
Moses? 

Mos. Yes, indeed! You know I always speak the truth, and scorn 
to tell a lie! 

Chas. Surf. Right. People that speak truth generally do. But 
these are trifles, Mr. Premium. What! I know money isn't to be 
bought without paying for 't! 

Sir Oliv. Well, but what security could you give? You have no 
land, I suppose? 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 1 55 

Chas. Surf. Not a mole-hill, nor a twig, but what's in the bough- 
pots out of the window! 

Sir Oliv. Nor any stock, I presume? 

Chas. Surf. Nothing but live stock — and that's only a few pointers 
and ponies. But pray, Mr. Premium, are you acquainted at all with 
any of my connexions? 

Sir Oliv. Why, to say truth, I am. 

Chas. Surf. Then you must know that I have a devilish rich uncle 
in the East Indies, Sir Oliver Surface, from whom I have the greatest 
expectations? 

Sir Oliv. That you have a wealthy uncle, I have heard; but how 
your expectations will turn out is more, I believe, than you can tell. 

Chas. Surf. Oh, no! — there can be no doubt. They tell me I'm a 
prodigious favourite, and that he talks of leaving me every thing. 

Sir Oliv. Indeed! this is the first I've heard of it. 

Chas. Surf. Yes, yes, 'tis just so. Moses knows 'tis true; don't you, 
Moses ? 

Mos. Oh, yes! I'll swear to't. 

Sir Oliv. Egad, they'll persuade me presently I'm at Bengal. 

[Aside. 

Chas. Surf. Now I propose, Mr. Premium, if it's agreeable to you, 
a post-obit on Sir Oliver's life: though at the same time the old 
fellow has been so liberal to me, that I give you my word, I should 
be very sorry to hear that any thing had happened to him. 

Sir Oliv. Not more than I should, I assure you. But the bond you 
mention happens to be just the worst security you could offer me — 
for I might live to a hundred and never see the principal. 

Chas. Surf. Oh, yes, you would ! the moment Sir Oliver dies, you 
know, you would come on me for the money. 

Sir Oliv. Then I believe I should be the most unwelcome dun you 
ever had in your life. 

Chas. Surf. What! I suppose you're afraid that Sir Oliver is too 
good a life? 

Sir Oliv. No, indeed I am not; though I have heard he is as hale 
and healthy as any man of his years in Christendom. 

Chas. Surf. There again, now, you are misinformed. No, no, the 
climate has hurt him considerably, poor uncle Oliver. Yes, yes, he 



156 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

breaks apace, I'm told — and is so much altered lately that his nearest 
relations would not know him. 

Sir Oliv. No! Ha! ha! ha! so much altered lately that his nearest 
relations would not know him! Ha! ha! ha! egad — ha! ha! ha! 

Chas. Surf. Ha! ha! — you're glad to hear that, little Premium? 

Sir Oliv. No, no, I'm not. 

Chas. Surf. Yes, yes, you are — ha! ha! ha! — you know that mends 
your chance. 

Sir Oliv. But I'm told Sir OUver is coming over; nay, some say 
he is actually arrived. 

Chas. Surf. Psha! sure I must know better than you whether he's 
come or not. No, no, rely on't he's at this moment at Calcutta. Isn't 
he, Moses? 

Mos. Oh, yes, certainly. 

Sir Oliv. Very true, as you say, you must know better than I, 
though I have it from pretty good authority. Haven't I, Moses? 

Mos. Yes, most undoubted! 

Sir Oliv. But, sir, as I understand you want a few hundreds im- 
mediately, is there nothing you could dispose of? 

Chas. Surf. How do you mean? 

Sir Oliv. For instance, now, I have heard that your father left 
behind him a great quantity of massy old plate. 

Chas. Surf. O Lud! that's gone long ago. Moses can tell you 
how better than I can. 

Sir Oliv. [Aside.] Good lack! all the family race-cups and cor- 
poration-bowls! — [Aloud.] Then it was also supposed that his 
library was one of the most valuable and compact. 

Chas. Surf. Yes, yes, so it was — vastly too much so for a private 
gentleman. For my part, I was always of a communicative disposi- 
tion, so I thought it a shame to keep so much knowledge to myself. 

Sir Oliv. [Aside.] Mercy upon me! learning that had run in the 
family like an heirloom! — [Aloud.] Pray, what are become of the 
books ? 

Chas. Surf. You must inquire of the auctioneer, Master Premium, 
for I don't believe even Moses can direct you. 

Mos. I know nothing of books. 

Sir Oliv. So, so, nothing of the family property left, I suppose? 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL I57 

Chas. Surf. Not much, indeed; unless you have a mind to the 
family pictures. I have got a room full of ancestors above; and if 
you have a taste for old paintings, egad, you shall have 'em a bargaini 

Sir Oliv. Hey! what the devil! sure, you wouldn't sell your 
forefathers, would you? 

Chas. Surf. Every man of them, to the best bidder. 

Sir Oliv. What! your great-uncles and aunts? 

Chas. Surf. Ay, and my great-grandfathers and grandmothers too. 

Sir Oliv. [Aside.] Now I give him up! — [Aloud.] What the 
plague, have you no bowels for your own kindred? Odd's life! do 
you take me for Shylock in the play, that you would raise money of 
me on your own flesh and blood ? 

Chas. Surf. Nay, my little broker, don't be angry: what need you 
care, if you have your money's worth? 

Sir Oliv. Well, I'll be the purchaser: I think I can dispose of the 
family canvas. — [Aside.] Oh, I'll never forgive him this! never! 

Re-enter Careless 

Care. Come, Charles, what keeps you? 

Chas. Surf. I can't come yet. I'faith, we are going to have a sale 
above stairs; here's little Premium will buy all my ancestors! 

Care. Oh, burn your ancestors! 

Chas. Surf. No, he may do that afterwards, if he pleases. Stay, 
Careless, we want you: egad, you shall be auctioneer — so come along 
with us. 

Care. Oh, have with you, if that's the case. I can handle a hammer 
as well as a dice-box! Going! going! 

Sir Oliv. Oh, the profligates! [Aside. 

Chas. Surf. Come, Moses, you shall be appraiser, if we want one. 
Gad's life, little Premium, you don't seem to like the business? 

Sir Oliv. Oh yes, I do, vastly! Ha! ha! ha! yes, yes, I think it a 
rare joke to sell one's family by auction — ha! ha! — [Aside.] Oh, the 
prodigal! 

Chas. Surf. To be sure! when a man wants money, where the 
plague should he get assistance, if he can't make free with his own 
relations! 

Sir Oliv. I'll never forgive him; never! never! [Exeunt, 



158 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

ACT FOURTH 
Scene I. — A Picture Room in Charles Surface's House 

Enter Charles Surface, Sir Oliver Surface, Moses, and Careless 

Chas. Surf. Walk in, gentlemen, pray walk in; — here they are, 
the family of the Surfaces, up to the Conquest. 

Sir Oliv. And, in my opinion, a goodly collection, 

Chas. Stirj. Ay, ay, these are done in the true spirit of portrait- 
painting; no volontiere grace or expression. Not like the works of 
your modern Raphaels, who give you the strongest resemblance, 
yet contrive to make your portrait independent of you; so that you 
may sink the original and not hurt the picture. No, no; the merit 
of these is the inveterate likeness — all stif? and awkward as the 
originals, and like nothing in human nature besides. 

Sir Oliv. Ah! we shall never see such figures of men again. 

Chas. Surf. I hope not. Well, you see. Master Premium, what a 
domestic character I am; here I sit of an evening surrounded by my 
family. But come, get to your pulpit, Mr. Auctioneer; here's an old 
gouty chair of my grandfather's will answer the pur(X)se. 

Care. Ay, ay, this will do. But, Charles, I haven't a hammer; 
and what's an auctioneer without his hammer? 

Chas. Surf. Egad, that's true. What parchment have we here? 
Oh, our genealogy in full. [Ta/^ing pedigree down.\ Here, Care- 
less, you shall have no common bit of mahogany, here's the family 
tree for you, you rogue! This shall be your hammer, and now you 
may knock down my ancestors with their own pedigree. 

Sir Oliv, What an unnatural rogue! — an ex post facto parricide! 

[Aside. 

Care. Yes, yes, here's a list of your generation indeed; faith, 
Charles, this is the most convenient thing you could have found for 
the business, for 'twill not only serve as a hammer, but a catalogue 
into the bargain. Come, begin — A-going, a-going, a-going! 

Chas. Surf. Bravo, Careless! Well, here's my great-uncle. Sir 
Richard Raveline, a marvellous good general in his day, I assure you. 
He served in all the Duke of Marlborough's wars, and got that cut 
over his eye at the battle of Malplaquet. What say you, Mr. Prem- 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 1 59 

ium? look at him — there's a hero! not cut out of his feathers, as 
your modern clipped captains are, but enveloped in wig and regi- 
mentals, as a general should be. What do you bid? 

Sir Oliv. [Aside to Moses.] Bid him speak. 

Mos. Mr. Premium would have you speak. 

Chas. Surf. Why, then, he shall have him for ten pounds, and I'm 
sure that's not dear for a staff-officer. 

Sir Oliv. [Aside.^ Heaven deliver me! his famous uncle Richard 
for ten pounds! — [Aloud.] Very well, sir, I take him at that. 

Chas. Surf. Careless, knock down my uncle Richard. — Here, now, 
is a maiden sister of his, my great-aunt Deborah, done by Kneller, 
in his best manner and esteemed a very formidable hkeness. There 
she is, you see, a shepherdess feeding her flock. You shall have her 
for five pxjunds ten — the sheep are worth the money. 

Sir Oliv. [Aside.] Ah! fjoor Deborah! a woman who set such a 
value on herself! — [Aloud.] Five pounds ten — she's mine. 

Chas. Surf. Knock down my aunt Deborah! Here, now, are two 
that were a sort of cousins of theirs. — You see, Mo^es, these pictures 
were done some time ago, when beaux wore wigs, and the ladies 
their own hair. 

Sir Oliv. Yes, truly, head-dresses appear to have been a httle lower 
in those days. 

Chas. Surf. Well, take that couple for the same. 

Mos. 'Tis a good bargain. 

Chas. Surf. Careless! — This, now, is a grandfather of my mother's, 
a learned judge, well known on the western circuit. — What do you 
rate him at, Moses.' 

Mos. Four guineas. 

Chas. Surf. Four guineas! Gad's life, you don't bid me the price 
of his wig. — Mr. Premium, you have more resf)ect for the woolsack; 
do let us knock his lordship down at fifteen. 

Sir Oliv. By all means. 

Care. Gone! 

Chas. Surf. And there are two brothers of his, William and Walter 
Blunt, Esquires, both members of parliament, and noted speakers; 
and, what's very extraordinary, I believe, this is the first time they 
were ever bought or sold. 



l6o RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Sir Oliv. That is very extraordinary, indeed! I'll take thein at 
your own price, for the honour of parliament. 

Care. Well said, little Premium! I'll knock them down at forty. 

Chas. Surf. Here's a jolly fellow — I don't know what relation, but 
he was mayor of Norwich: take him at eight pounds. 

Sir Olii/. No, no; six [X)unds will do for the mayor. 

Chas. Surf. Come, make it guineas, and I'll throw you the two 
aldermen there into the bargain. 

Sir Oliv. They're mine. 

Chas. Surf. Careless, knock down the mayor and aldermen. But, 
plague on't! we shall be all day retailing in this manner; do let us 
deal wholesale: what say you, little Premium? Give me three hun- 
dred pounds for the rest of the family in the lump. 

Care. Ay, ay, that will be the best way. 

Sir Oliv. Well, well, any thing to accommodate you; they are 
mine. But there is one portrait which you have always passed 
over. 

Care. What, that ill-looking little fellow over the settee! 

Sir Oliv. Yes, sir, I mean that; though I don't think him so ill- 
looking a little fellow, by any means. 

Chas. Surf. What, that? Oh; that's my uncle Oliver! 'twas done 
before he went to India. 

Care. Your uncle Oliver! Gad, then you'll never be friends, 
Charles. That, now, to me, is as stern a looking rogue as ever I saw; 
an unforgiving eye, and a damned disinheriting countenance! an 
inveterate knave, depend on't. Don't you think so, little Premium? 

Sir Oliv. Upon my soul, sir, I do not; I think it is as honest a 
looking face as any in the room, dead or alive. But I suppose uncle 
Oliver goes with the rest of the lumber? 

Chas. Surf. No, hang it! I'll not part with poor Noll. The old 
fellow has been very good to me, and, egad, I'll keep his picture 
while I've a room to put it in. 

Sir Oliv. [Aside.] The rogue's my nephew after all! — [Aloud.] 
But, sir, I have somehow taken a fancy to that picture. 

Chas. Surf. I'm sorry for't, for you certainly will not have it. Oons, 
haven't you got enough of them? 

Sir Oliv. [Aside.] I forgive him every thing! — [Aloud.] But, sir, 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL l6l 

when I take a whim in my head, I don't value money. I'll give you 
as much for that as for all the rest. 

Chas. Surf. Don't tease me, master broker; I tell you I'll not part 
with it, and there's an end of it. 

Sir Oliv. [Aside.] How like his father the dog is! — [Aloud.] 
Well, well, I have done. — [Aside.] I did not perceive it before, but I 
think I never saw such a striking resemblance. — [Aloud.] Here is 
a draft for your sum. 

Chas. Surf. Why, 'tis for eight hundred pounds! 

Sir Oliv. You will not let Sir Oliver go? 

Chas. Surf. Zounds! no! I tell you, once more. 

Sir Oliv. Then never mind the difference, we'll balance that 
another time. But give me your hand on the bargain; you are an 
honest fellow, Charles — I beg pardon, sir, for being so free. — Come, 
Moses. 

Chas. Surf. Egad, this is a whimsical old fellow! — But hark'ee, 
Premium, you'll prepare lodgings for these gentlemen. 

Sir Oliv. Yes, yes, I'll send for them in a day or two. 

Chas. Surf. But hold; do now send a genteel conveyance for them, 
for, I assure you, they were most of them used to ride in their own 
carriages. 

Sir Oliv. I will, I will — for all but Oliver. 

Chas. Surf. Ay, all but the little nabob. 

Sir Oliv. You're fixed on that? 

Chas. Surf. Peremptorily. 

Sir Oliv. [Aside.] A dear extravagant rogue! — [Aloud.] Good 
day! — Come, Moses. — [Aside.] Let me hear now who dares call 
him profligate. [Exit with Moses. 

Care. Why, this is the oddest genius of the sort I ever met 
with! 

Chas. Surf. Egad, he's the prince of brokers, I think. I wonder 
how the devil Moses got acquainted with so honest a fellow. — Ha! 
here's Rowley. — Do, Careless, say I'll join the company in a few 
moments. 

Care. I will — but don't let that old blockhead persuade you to 
squander any of that money on old musty debts, or any such non- 
sense; for tradesmen, Charles, are the most exorbitant fellows. 



1 62 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Chas. Surf. Very true, and paying them is only encouraging them. 

Care. Nothing else. 

Chas. Surf. Ay, ay, never fear. — [Exit Careless.] So! this was an 
odd old fellow, indeed. Let me see, two-thirds of these five hundred 
and thirty odd pounds are mine by right. 'Fore heaven! I find one's 
ancestors are more valuable relations than I took them for! — Ladies 
and gentlemen, your most obedient and very grateful servant. 

[Bows ceremoniously to the pictures. 

Enter Rowley 

Ha! old Rowley! egad, you are just come in time to take leave of 
your old acquaintance. 

Row. Yes, I heard they were a-going. But I wonder you can have 
such spirits under so many distresses. 

Chas. Surf. Why, there's the point! my distresses are so many, 
that I can't afford to part with my spirits; but 1 shall be rich and 
splenetic, all in good time. However, I suppose you are surprised 
that I am not more sorrowful at parting with so many near relations; 
to be sure, 'tis very affecting, but you see they never move a muscle, 
so why should L' 

Row. There's no making you serious a moment. 

Chas. Surf. Yes, faith, I am so now. Here, my honest Rowley, 
here, get me this changed directly, and take a hundred pounds of it 
immediately to old Stanley. 

Row. A hundred pounds! Consider only — 

Chas. Surf. Gad's Ufe, don't talk about it! poor Stanley's wants 
are pressing, and, if you don't make haste, we shall have some one 
call that has a better right to the money. 

Row. Ah! there's the point! I never will cease dunning you with 
the old proverb — 

Chas. Surf. Be just before you're generous. — ^Why, so I would if 
I could; but Justice is an old, hobbling beldame, and I can't get her 
to keep pace with Generosity, for the soul of me. 

Row. Yet, Charles, believe me, one hour's reflection — 

Chas. Surf. Ay, ay, it's very true; but, hark'ee, Rowley, while I 
have, by Heaven I'll give; so, damn your economy! and now for 
hazard. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL l6$ 

Scene II. — Another room in the same 

Enter Sir Oliver Surface and Moses 
Mos. Well, sir, I think, as Sir Peter said, you have seen Mr. 
Charles in high glory; 'tis great pity he's so extravagant. 
Sir Oliv. True, but he would not sell my picture. 
Mos. And loves wine and women so much. 
Sir Oliv. But he would not sell my picture. 
Mos. And games so deep. 
Sir Oliv. But he would not sell my picture. Oh, here's Rowley. 

Enter Rowley 

Rotv. So, Sir Oliver, I find you have made a purchase — 

Sir Oliv. Yes, yes, our young rake has parted with his ancestors 
like old tapestry. 

Rofv. And here has he commissioned me to redeliver you part of 
the purchase money — I mean, though, in your necessitous character 
of Old Stanley. 

Mos. Ah! there is the pity of all; he is so damned charitable. 

Roiv. And I left a hosier and two tailors in the hall, who, I'm 
sure, won't be paid, and this hundred would satisfy them. 

Sir Oliv. Well, well, I'll pay his debts, and his benevolence too. 
But now I am no more a broker, and you shall introduce me to the 
elder brother as old Stanley. 

Rotv. Not yet awhile; Sir Peter, I know, means to call there about 
this time. 

Enter Trip 

Trip. Oh, gentlemen, I beg pardon for not showing you out; this 
way — Moses, a word. ( Exit tvith Moses. 

Sir Oliv. There's a fellow for you! Would you believe it, that 
puppy intercepted the Jew on our coming, and wanted to raise money 
before he got to his masterl 

Rofv. Indeed! 

Sir Oliv. Yes, they are now planning an annuity business. Ah, 
Master Rowley, in my days servants were content with the follies of 
their masters, when they were worn a little threadbare; but now 



164 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

they have their vices, like their birthday clothes, with the gloss on. 

[Exeunt. 

Scene III. — A Ubrary in Joseph Surface's House 

Enter Joseph Surface and Servant 

Jos. Surf. No letter from Lady Teazle? 

Set. No, sir. 

]os. Surf. [Aside.] I am surprised she has not sent, if she is pre- 
vented from coming. Sir Peter certainly does not suspect me. Yet 
I wish I may not lose the heiress, through the scrape I have drawn 
myself into with the wife; however, Charles's imprudence and bad 
character are great points in my favour. [Knocl{ing without. 

Ser. Sir, I believe that must be Lady Teazle. 

Jos. Surf. Hold! See whether it is or not, before you go to the 
door: I have a particular message for you if it should be my brother. 

Ser. 'Tis her ladyship, sir; she always leaves her chair at the 
milliner's in the next street. 

Jos. Surf. Stay, stay; draw that screen before the window — that 
will do; — my opposite neighbour is a maiden lady of so curious a 
temper — [Servant draws the screen, and exit.] I have a difficult 
hand to play in this affair. Lady Teazle has lately suspected my 
views on Maria; but she must by no means be let into that secret, 
— at least, till I have her more in my power. 

Enter Lady Teazle 

Lady Teaz. What, sentiment in soliloquy now? Have you been 
very impatient? O Lud! don't pretend to look grave. I vow I 
couldn't come before. 

Jos. Surf. O madam, punctuality is a species of constancy very 
unfashionable in a lady of quality. 

[Places chairs, and sits after Lady Teazle is seated. 

Lady Teaz. Upon my word, you ought to pity me. Do you know 
Sir Peter is grown so ill-natured to me of late, and so jealous of 
Charles too — that's the best of the story, isn't it? 

Jos. Surf. I am glad my scandalous friends keep that up. [Aside. 

Lady Teaz. I am sure I wish he would let Maria marry him, and 
then perhaps he would be convinced; don't you, Mr. Surface? 



THE SCHCXJL FOR SCANDAL l6$ 

Jos. Surf. [Aside.] Indeed I do not. — [Aloud.] Oh, certainly I do! 
for then my dear Lady Teazle would also be convinced how wrong 
her suspicions were of my having any design on the silly girl. 

Lady Teaz. Well, well, I'm inclined to believe you. But isn't it 
provoking, to have the most ill-natured things said of one.? And 
there's my friend Lady Sneerwell has circulated I don't know how 
many scandalous tales of me, and all without any foundation too; 
that's what vexes me. 

Jos. Surf. Ay, madam, to be sure, that is the provoking circum- 
stance — without foundation; yes, yes, there's the mortification, in- 
deed; for when a scandalous story is believed against one, there 
certainly is no comfort like the consciousness of having deserved it. 

Lady Teaz. No, to be sure, then I'd forgive their malice; but to 
attack me, who am really so innocent, and who never say an ill- 
natured thing of any body — that is, of any friend; and then Sir 
Peter, too, to have him so peevish, and so suspicious, when I know 
the integrity of my own heart — indeed 'tis monstrous! 

Jos. Surf. But, my dear Lady Teazle, 'tis your own fault if you 
suffer it. When a husband entertains a groundless suspicion of his 
wife, and withdraws his confidence from her, the original compact 
is broken, and she owes it to the honour of her sex to endeavour to 
outwit him. 

Lady Teaz. Indeed! So that, if he suspects me without cause, it 
follows, that the best way of curing his jealousy is to give him reason 
for't.? 

Jos. Surf. Undoubtedly — for your husband should never be de- 
ceived in you: and in that case it becomes you to be frail in compli- 
ment to his discernment. 

Lady Teaz. To be sure, what you say is very reasonable, and when 
the consciousness of my innocence — 

Jos. Surf. Ah, my dear madam, there is the great mistake! 'tis 
this very conscious innocence that is of the greatest prejudice to you. 
What is it makes you negligent of forms, and careless of the world's 
opinion? why, the consciousness of your own innocence. What 
makes you thoughtless in your conduct, and apt to run into a 
thousand little imprudences? why, the consciousness of your own 
innocence. What makes you impatient of Sir Peter's temper, and 



1 66 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

outrageous at his suspicions? why, the consciousness of your in- 
nocence. 

Ljudy Teaz. 'Tis very true! 

Jos. Surf. Now, my dear Lady Teazle, if you would but once 
make a trifling faux pas, you can't conceive how cautious you would 
grow, and how ready to humour and agree with your husband. 

Lady Teaz. Do you think so? 

Jos. Surf. Oh, I am sure on't; and then you would find all scandal 
would cease at once, for — in short, your character at present is like 
a person in a plethora, absolutely dying from too much health. 

Lady Teaz. So, so; then I perceive your prescription is, that I 
must sin in my own defence, and part with my virtue to preserve 
my reputation? 

Jos. Surf. Exactly so, upon my credit, ma'am. 

Lady Teaz. Well, certainly this is the oddest doctrine, and the 
newest receipt for avoiding calumny! 

Jos. Surf. An infallible one, believe me. Prudence, like experience, 
must be paid for. 

Lady Teaz. Why, if my understanding were once convinced — 

Jos. Surf. Oh, certainly, madam, your understanding should be 
convinced. Yes, yes — Heaven forbid I should persuade you to do 
any thing you thought wrong. No, no, I have too much honour to 
desire it. 

Lady Teaz. Don't you think we may as well leave honour out 
of the argument? [Rises. 

Jos. Surf. Ah, the ill effects of your country education, I see, still 
remain with you. 

Lady Teaz. I doubt they do indeed; and I will fairly own to you, 
that if I could be persuaded to do wrong, it would be by Sir Peter's 
ill usage sooner than your honourable logic, after all. 

Jos. Surf. Then, by this hand, which he is unworthy of — 

[Tal(^ing her hand. 

Re-enter Servant 

'Sdeath, you blockhead — what do you want? 

Ser. I beg your pardon, sir, but I thought you would not choose 
Sir Peter to come up without announcing him. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL l6j 

Jos. Surf. Sir Peter! — Oons — the devil! 

Lady Teaz. Sir Peter! O Lud! I'm ruined! I'm ruined! 

Ser. Sir, 'twasn't I let him in. 

Lady Teaz. Oh! I'm quite undone! What will become of me? 
Now, Mr. Lfjgic — Oh! mercy, sir, he's on the stairs — I'll get behind 
here — and if ever I'm so imprudent again — [Goes behind the screen. 

Jos. Surf. Give me that book. 

[Sits down. Servant pretends to adjust his chair. 

Enter Sir Peter Teazle 

Sir Pet. Ay, ever improving himself — Mr. Surface, Mr. Surface — 

[Pats Joseph on the shoulder. 

Jos. Surf. Oh, my dear Sir Peter, I beg your pardon. — [Gaping, 
throws away the bool{.\ I have been dozing over a stupid book. 
Well, I am much obliged to you for this call. You haven't been here, 
I believe, since I fitted up this room. Books, you know, are the only 
things I am a coxcomb in. 

Sir Pet. 'Tis very neat indeed. Well, well, that's proper; and you 
can make even your screen a source of knowledge — hung, I per- 
ceive, with maps. 

Jos. Surf. Oh, yes, I find great use in that screen. 

Sir Pet. I dare say you must, certainly, when you want to find 
any thing in a hurry. 

Jos. Surf. Ay, or to hide any thing in a hurry either. [Aside. 

Sir Pet. Well, I have a little private business — 

Jos. Surf. You need not stay. [To Servant. 

Ser. No, sir. [Exit. 

Jos. Surf. Here's a chair, Sir Peter — I beg — 

Sir Pet. Well, now we are alone, there is a subject, my dear friend, 
on which I wish to unburden my mind to you — a point of the great- 
est moment to my peace; in short, my good friend, Lady Teazle's 
conduct of late has made me very unhappy. 

Jos. Surf. Indeed! I am very sorry to hear it. 

Sir Pet. 'Tis but too plain she has not the least regard for me; 
but, what's worse, I have pretty good authority to suppose she has 
formed an attachment to another. 

Jos. Surf. Indeed! you astonish me! 



1 68 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Sir Pet. Yes! and, between ourselves, I think I've discovered the 
person. 

Jos. Surf. How! you alarm me exceedingly. 

Sir. Pet. Ay, my dear friend, I knew you would sympathise with 
me! 

Jos. Surf. Yes, believe me, Sir Peter, such a discovery would hurt 
me just as much as it would you. 

Sir Pet. I am convinced of it. Ah! it is a happiness to have a 
friend whom we can trust even with one's family secrets. But have 
you no guess who I mean? 

Jos. Surf. I haven't the most distant idea. It can't be Sir Benjamin 
Backbite! 

Sir Pet. Oh, no! What say you to Charles? 

Jos. Surf. My brother! impossible! 

Sir Pet. Oh, my dear friend, the goodness of your own heart 
misleads you. You judge of others by yourself. 

Jos. Surf. Certainly, Sir Peter, the heart that is conscious of its 
own integrity is ever slow to credit another's treachery. 

Sir Pet. True; but your brother has no sentiment — you never 
hear him talk so. 

Jos. Surf. Yet I can't but think Lady Teazle herself has too much 
principle. 

Sir Pet. Ay; but what is principle against the flattery of a hand- 
some, lively young fellow? 

Jos. Surf. That's very true. 

Sir Pet. And then, you know, the difference of our ages makes 
it very improbable that she should have any great affection for me; 
and if she were to be frail, and I were to make it public, why the 
town would only laugh at me, the foolish old bachelor, who had 
married a girl. 

Jos. Surf. That's true, to be sure — they would laugh. 

Sir Pet. Laugh! ay, and make ballads, and paragraphs, and the 
devil knows what of me. 

Jos. Surf. No, you must never make it public. 

Sir Pet. But then again — that the nephew of my old friend, Sir 
Oliver, should be the person to attempt such a wrong, hurts me 
more nearly. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 1 69 

Jos. Surf. Ay, there's the point. When ingratitude barbs the dart 
of injury, the wound has double danger in it. 

Sir Pet. Ay — I, that was, in a manner, left his guardian; in whose 
house he had been so often entertained; who never in my life denied 
him — my advice! 

Jos. Surf. Oh, 'tis not to be credited! There may be a man capable 
of such baseness, to be sure; but, for my part, till you can give me 
positive proofs, I cannot but doubt it. However, if it should be 
proved on him, he is no longer a brother of mine — I disclaim kindred 
with him: for the man who can break the laws of hospitality, and 
tempt the wife of his friend, deserves to be branded as the pest of 
society. 

Sir Pet. What a difference there is between you! What noble 
sentiments! 

Jos. Surf. Yet I cannot suspect Lady Teazle's honour. 

Sir Pet. I am sure I wish to think well of her, and to remove all 
ground of quarrel between us. She has lately reproached me more 
than once with having made no settlement on her; and, in our last 
quarrel, she almost hinted that she should not break her heart if I 
was dead. Now, as we seem to differ in our ideas of expense, I have 
resolved she shall have her own way, and be her own mistress in 
that respect for the future; and, if I were to die, she will find I have 
not been inattentive to her interest while living. Here, my friend, 
are the drafts of two deeds, which I wish to have your opinion on. 
By one, she will enjoy eight hundred a year independent while I 
live; and, by the other, the bulk of my fortune at my death. 

Jos. Surf. This conduct, Sir Peter, is indeed truly generous. — 
[Aside.] I wish it may not corrupt my pupil. 

Sir Pet. Yes, I am determined she shall have no cause to complain, 
though I would not have her acquainted with the latter instance 
of my affection yet awhile. 

Jos. Surf. Nor I, if I could help it. [Aside. 

Sir Pet. And now, my dear friend, if you please, we will talk over 
the situation of your hopes with Maria. 

Jos. Surf. [Softly.] Oh, no. Sir Peter; another time, if you please. 

Sir Pet. I am sensibly chagrined at the little progress you seem to 
make in her affections. 



170 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Jos. Surf.. [Softly.] I beg you will not mention it. What are my 
disappointments when your happiness is in debate! — [Aside.] 
'Sdeath, I shall be ruined every way! 

Sir Pet. And though you are averse to my acquainting Lady 
Teazle with your passion, I'm sure she's not your enemy in the 
affair. 

Jos. Surf. Pray, Sir Peter, now oblige me. I am really too much 
affected by the subject we have been speaking of to bestow a thought 
on my own concerns. The man who is entrusted with his friend's 
distresses can never — 

Re-enter Servant 
Well, sir? 

Ser. Your brother, sir, is speaking to a gentleman in the street, 
and says he knows you are within. 

Jos. Surf. 'Sdeath, blockhead, I'm not within — I'm out for the day. 

Sir Pet. Stay — hold — a thought has struck me: — you shall be at 
home. 

Jos. Surf. Well, well, let him come up. — [Exit Servant.] He'll 
interrupt Sir Peter, however. [Aside. 

Sir Pet. Now, my good friend, oblige me, I entreat you. Before 
Charles comes, let me conceal myself somewhere, then do you tax 
him on the point we have been talking, and his answer may satisfy 
me at once. 

Jos. Surf. Oh, fie. Sir Peter! would you have me join in so mean 
a trick ? — to trepan my brother too ? 

Sir Pet. Nay, you tell me you are sure he is innocent; if so you 
do him the greatest service by giving him an opportunity to clear 
himself, and you will set my heart at rest. Come, you shall not 
refuse me: [Going up.] here, behind the screen will be — Hey! what 
the devil! there seems to be one listener here already — I'll swear I 
saw a petticoat! 

Jos. Surf. Ha! ha! ha! Well, this is ridiculous enough. I'll tell 
you. Sir Peter, though I hold a man of intrigue to be a most despic- 
able character, yet, you know, it does not follow that one is to be an 
absolute Joseph either! Hark'ee, 'tis a little French milliner, a silly 
rogue that plagues me; and having some character to lose, on your 
coming, sir, she ran behind the screen. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL I7I 

Sir Pet. Ah, Joseph! Joseph! Did I ever think that you — But, 
egad, she has overheard all I have been saying of my wife. 

Jos. Surf. Oh, 'twill never go any farther, you may depend 
upon it! 

Sir Pet. No! then, faith, let her hear it out. — Here's a closet will 
do as well. 

Jos. Surf. Well, go in there. 

Sir Pet. Sly rogue! sly rogue! [Goes into the closet. 

Jos. Surf. A narrow escape, indeed! and a curious situation I'm 
in, to part man and wife in this manner. 

Lady Teaz. [Peeping.] Couldn't I steal off? 

Jos. Surf. Keep close, my angel! 

Sir Pet. \ Peeping.] Joseph, tax him home. 

Jos. Surf. Back, my dear friend! 

Lady Teaz. [Peeping.] Couldn't you lock Sir Peter in? 

Jos. Surf. Be still, my life! 

Sir Pet. [Peeping.] You're sure the little milliner won't blab? 

Jos. Surf. In, in, my dear Sir Peter! — 'Fore Gad, I wish I had a 
key to the door. 

Enter Charles Surface 

Chas. Surf. Holla! brother, what has been the matter? Your 
fellow would not let me up at first. What! have you had a Jew or 
a wench with you? 

Jos. Surf. Neither, brother, I assure you. 

C/ias. Surf. But what has made Sir Peter steal off? I thought he 
had been with you. 

Jos. Surf. He was, brother; but, hearing you were coming, he did 
not choose to stay. 

Chas. Surf. What! was the old gentleman afraid I wanted to 
borrow money of him? 

Jos. Surf. No, sir; but I am sorry to find, Charles, you have lately 
given that worthy man grounds for great uneasiness. 

Chas. Surf. Yes, they tell me I do that to a great many worthy 
men. But how so, pray? 

Jos. Surf. To be plain with you, brother, he thinks you are en- 
deavouring to gain Lady Teazle's affections from him. 



172 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Chas. Surf. Who, IPO Lud! not I, upon my word. — Ha! ha! ha! 
so the old fellow has found out that he has got a young wife, has he? 
— or, what is worse. Lady Teazle has found out she has an old 
husband? 

Jos. Surf. This is no subject to jest on, brother. He who can 
laugh — 

Chas. Surf. True, true, as you were going to say — then, seriously, 
I never had the least idea of what you charge me with, upon my 
honour. 

Jos. Surf. Well, it will give Sir Peter great satisfaction to hear this. 

\ Raising his voice. 

Chas. Surf. To be sure, I once thought the lady seemed to have 
taken a fancy to me; but, upon my soul, I never gave her the least 
encouragement. Besides, you know my attachment to Maria. 

Jos. Surf. But sure, brother, even if Lady Teazle had betrayed 
the fondest partiality for you — 

Chas. Surf. Why, look'ee, Joseph, I hope I shall never deliberately 
do a dishonourable action; but if a pretty woman was purposely to 
throw herself in my way — and that pretty woman married to a man 
old enough to be her father — 

Jos. Surf. Well! 

Chas. Surf. Why, 1 believe I should be obliged to — 

Jos. Surf. What? 

Chas. Surf. To borrow a little of your morality, that's all. But, 
brother, do you know now that you surprise me exceedingly, by 
naming me with Lady Teazle; for, i' faith, I always understood you 
were her favourite. 

Jos. Surf. Oh, for shame, Charles! This retort is foolish. 

Chas. Surf. Nay, I swear I have seen you exchange such significant 
glances — 

Jos. Surf. Nay, nay, sir, this is no jest. 

Chas. Surf. Egad, I'm serious! Don't you remember one day, 
when I called here — 

Jos. Surf. Nay, pr'ythee, Charles — 

Chas. Surf. And found you together — 

Jos. Surf. Zounds, sir, I insist — 

Chas. Surf. And another time when your servant — 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 1 73 

Jos. Surf. Brother, brother, a word with you! — [Aside.] Gad, I 
must stop him. 

Chas. Surf. Informed, I say, that — 

Jos. Surf. Hush! I beg your pardon, but Sir Peter has overheard 
all we have been saying. I knew you would clear yourself, or I 
should not have consented. 

Chas. Surf. How, Sir Peter! Where is he? 

Jos. Surf. Softly, there! [Points to the closet. 

Chas. Surf. Oh, 'fore Heaven, I'll have him out. Sir Peter, come 
forth! 

Jos. Surf. No, no — 

Chas. Surf. I say. Sir Peter, come into court. — [Pulls in Sir Peter.] 
What! my old guardian! — What! turn inquisitor, and take evidence 
incog? Oh, fie! Oh, fie! 

5;> Pet. Give me your hand, Charles — I believe I have suspected 
you wrongfully; but you mustn't be angry with Joseph — 'twas my 
plan! 

Chas. Surf. Indeed! 

Sir Pet. But I acquit you. I promise you I don't think near so ill 
of you as I did: what I have heard has given me great satisfaction. 

Chas. Surf. Egad, then, 'twas lucky you didn't hear any more. 
Wasn't it, Joseph? 

Sir Pet. Ah! you would have retorted on him. 

Chas. Surf. Ah, ay, that was a joke. 

Sir Pet. Yes, yes, I know his honour too well. 

Chas. Surf. But you might as well have suspected him as me in 
this matter, for all that. Mightn't he, Joseph? 

Sir Pet. Well, well, I believe you. 

Jos. Surf. Would they were both out of the room. [Aside. 

Sir Pet. And in future, perhaps, we may not be such strangers. 

Re-enter Servant, and tvhispers Joseph Surface 
Ser. Lady Sneerwell is below, and says she will come up. 
Jos. Surf. Lady Sneerwell! Gad's life! she must not come here. 
[Exit Servant.] Gentlemen, I beg pardon — I must wait on you 
down stairs: here is a person come on particular business. 
Chas. Surf. Well, you can see him in another room. Sir Peter 



174 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

and I have not met a long time, and I have something to say to him. 

Jos. Surf. [Aside.] They must not be left together. — [Aloud.] 
I'll send Lady Sneerwell away, and return directly. — [Aside to Sir 
Peter.] Sir Peter, not a word of the French milliner. 

Sir Pet. [Aside to Joseph Surface.] I! not for the world! — [Exit 
Joseph Surface.] Ah, Charles, if you associated more with your 
brother, one might indeed hope for your reformation. He is a man 
of sentiment. Well, there is nothing in the world so noble as a man 
of sentiment. 

Chas. Surf. Psha! he is too moral by half; and so apprehensive of 
his good name, as he calls it, that I suppose he would as soon let a 
priest into his house as a wench. 

Sir Pet. No, no, — come, come, — you wrong him. No, no! Joseph 
is no rake, but he is no such saint either, in that respect. — [Aside.] 
I have a great mind to tell him — we should have such a laugh at 
Joseph. 

Chas. Surf. Oh, hang him! he's a very anchorite, a young hermit! 

Sir Pet. Hark'ee — you must not abuse him: he may chance to 
hear of it again, I promise you. 

Chas. Surf. Why, you won't tell him? 

5/> Pet. No — but — this way. [Aside.] Egad, I'll tell him.— 
[Aloud.] Hark'ee — have you a mind to have a good laugh at Joseph? 

Chas. Surf. I should like it of all things. 

Sir Pet. Then, i' faith, we will! I'll be quit with him for discover- 
ing me. He had a girl with him when I called. [ Whispers. 

Chas. Surf. What! Joseph? you jest. 

Sir Pet. Hush! — a little French milliner — and the best of the jest 
is — she's in the room now. 

Chas. Surf. The devil she is! 

Sir Pet. Hush! I tell you. [Points to the screen. 

Chas. Surf. Behind the screen! 'Slife, let's unveil her! 

Sir Pet. No, no, he's coming: — you sha'n't, indeed! 

Chas. Surf. Oh, egad, we'll have a peep at the little milliner! 

Sir Pet. Not for the world! — Joseph will never forgive me. 

Chas. Surf. I'll stand by you — 

Sir Pet. Odds, here he is! 

[Charles Surface throws down the screen. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 1 75 

Re-enter Joseph Surface 

Chas. Surf. Lady Teazle, by all that's wonderful. 

Sir Pet. Lady Teazle, by all that's damnable! 

Chas. Surf. Sir Peter, this is one of the smartest French milliners 
I ever saw. Egad, you seem all to have been diverting yourselves 
here at hide and seek, and I don't see who is out of the secret. Shall 
I beg your ladyship to inform me? Not a word! — Brother, will you 
be pleased to explain this matter? What! is Morality dumb too? — 
Sir Peter, though I found you in the dark, perhaps you are not so 
now! All mute! — Well — though 1 can make nothing of the affair, 
I suppose you perfectly understand one another; so I'll leave you 
to yourselves. — [Going.] Brother, I'm sorry to find you have given 
that worthy man grounds for so much uneasiness. — Sir Peter! there's 
nothing in the world so noble as a man of sentiment! [Exit. 

Jos. Surf. Sir Peter — notwithstanding — I confess — that appearances 
are against me — if you will afford me your patience — I make no 
doubt — but I shall explain every thing to your satisfaction. 

Sir Pet. If you please, sir. 

Jos. Surf. The fact is, sir, that Lady Teazle, knowing my preten- 
sions to your ward Maria — I say, sir. Lady Teazle, being apprehensive 
of the jealousy of your temper — and knowing my friendship to the 
family — she, sir, I say — called here — in order that — I might explain 
these pretensions — but on your coming — being apprehensive — as I 
said — of your jealousy — she withdrew — and this, you may depend 
on it, is the whole truth of the matter. 

Sir Pet. A very clear account, upon my word; and I dare swear 
the lady will vouch for every article of it. 

Lady Teaz. For not one word of it. Sir Peter! 

Sir Pet. How! don't you think it worth while to agree in the lie? 

Lady Teaz. There is not one syllable of truth in what that gentle- 
man has told you. 

Sir Pet. I believe you, upon my soul, ma'am! 

Jos. Surf. [Aside to Lady Teazle.] 'Sdeath, madam, will you 
betray me? 

Lady Teaz. Good Mr. Hypocrite, by your leave, I'll speak for 
myself. 



176 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Sir Pet. Ay, let her alone, sir; you'll find she'll make out a better 
story than you, without prompting. 

Lady Teaz. Hear me, Sir Peter! — I came here on no matter relat- 
ing to your ward, and even ignorant of this gentleman's pretensions 
to her. But I came, seduced by his insidious arguments, at least to 
listen to his pretended passion, if not to sacrifice your honour to his 
baseness. 

Sir Pet. Now, I believe the truth is coming, indeed! 

Jos. Surf. The woman's mad! 

Lady Teaz. No, sir; she has recovered her senses and your own 
arts have furnished her with the means. — Sir Peter, I do not expect 
you to credit me — but the tenderness you expressed for me, when I 
am sure you could not think I was a witness to it, has so penetrated 
to my heart, that had I left the place without the shame of this 
discovery, my future life should have spoken the sincerity of my 
gratitude. As for that smooth-tongued hypocrite, who would have 
seduced the wife of his too credulous friend, while he affected hon- 
ourable addresses to his ward — I behold him now in a light so truly 
despicable, that I shall never again respect myself for having listened 
to him. [Exit. 

Jos. Surf. Notwithstanding all this. Sir Peter, Heaven knows — 

Sir Pet. That you are a villain! and so I leave you to your con- 
science. 

Jos. Surf. You are too rash. Sir Peter; you shall hear me. The man 
who shuts out conviction by refusing to — 

Sir Pet. Oh, damn your sentiments! 

[Exeunt Sir Peter and Joseph Surface, talking. 

ACT FIFTH 

Scene I. — The Library in Joseph Surface's House 

Enter Joseph Surface and Servant 

Jos. Surf. Mr. Stanley! and why should you think I would see 
him? you must know he comes to ask something. 

Ser. Sir, I should not have let him in, but that Mr. Rowley came 
to the door with him. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 1 77 

Jos. Surf. Psha! blockhead! to suppose that 1 should now be in a 
temper to receive visits from poor relations! — Well, why don't you 
show the fellow up? 

Ser. I will, sir. — Why, sir, it was not my fault that Sir Peter 
discovered my lady — 

Jos. Surf. Go, fool! — [Exit Servant,] Sure Fortune never played 
a man of my policy such a trick before! My character with Sir Peter, 
my hopes with Maria, destroyed in a moment ! I'm in a rare humour 
to listen to other people's distresses! I sha'n't be able to bestow even 
a benevolent sentiment on Stanley. — So! here he comes, and Rowley 
with him. I must try to recover myself, and put a little charity into 
my face, however. [Exit. 

Enter Sir Oliver Surface and Rowley 

Sir Oliv. What! does he avoid us? That was he, was it not? 

Row. It was, sir. But I doubt you are come a little too abruptly. 
His nerves are so weak, that the sight of a poor relation may be too 
much for him. I should have gone first to break it to him. 

Sir Oliv. Oh, plague of his nerves! Yet this is he whom Sir Peter 
extols as a man of the most benevolent way of thinking! 

Rotv. As to his way of thinking, I cannot pretend to decide; for, 
to do him justice, he apjiears to have as much speculative benevolence 
as any private gentleman in the kingdom, though he is seldom so 
sensual as to indulge himself in the exercise of it. 

Sir Oliv. Yet he has a string of charitable sentiments at his fingers' 
ends. 

Row. Or, rather, at his tongue's end. Sir Oliver; for I believe 
there is no sentiment he has such faith in as that Charity begins at 
home. 

Sir Oliv. And his, I presume, is ot that domestic sort which never 
stirs abroad at all. 

Row. I doubt you'll find it so; but he's coming. I mustn't seem to 
interrupt you; and you know, immediately as you leave him, I come 
in to announce your arrival in your real character. 

Sir Oliv. True; and afterwards you'll meet me at Sir Peter's, 

Row. Without losing a moment. [Exit. 

Sir Oliv. I don't like the complaisance of his features. 



178 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Re-enter Joseph Surface 

Jos. Surf. Sir, I beg you ten thousand pardons for keeping you a 
moment waiting. — Mr. Stanley, I presume. 

Sir Oliv. At your service. 

Jos. Surf. Sir, I beg you will do me the honour to sit down — I 
entreat you, sir. 

Sir Oliv. Dear sir — there's no occasion. — [Aside.] Too civil by 
half! 

Jos. Surf. I have not the pleasure of knowing you, Mr. Stanley; 
but I am extremely happy to see you look so well. You were nearly 
related to my mother, I think, Mr. Stanley? 

Sir Oliv. I was, sir; so nearly that my present poverty, I fear, may 
do discredit to her wealthy children, else I should not have presumed 
to trouble you. 

Jos. Surf. Dear sir, there needs no apology; — he that is in distress, 
though a stranger, has a right to claim kindred with the wealthy. 
I am sure I wish I was one of that class, and had it in my power to 
offer you even a small relief. 

Sir Oliv. If your uncle. Sir Oliver, were here, I should have a 
friend. 

Jos. Surf. I wish he was, sir, with all my heart; you should not 
want an advocate with him, believe me, sir. 

Sir Oliv. I should not need one — my distresses would recommend 
me. But I imagined his bounty would enable you to become the 
agent of his charity. 

Jos. Surf. My dear sir, you were strangely misinformed. Sir Oliver 
is a worthy man, a very worthy man; but avarice, Mr. Stanley, is the 
vice of age. I will tell you, my good sir, in confidence, what he has 
done for me has been a mere nothing; though people, I know, have 
thought otherwise, and for my part, I never chose to contradict the 
report. 

Sir Oliv. What! has he never transmitted you bullion — rupees — 
pagodas? 

Jos. Surf. Oh, dear sir, nothing of the kind! No, no; a few pres- 
ents now and then — china, shawls, congou tea, avadavats and In- 
dian crackers — little more, believe me. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 179 

Sir Oliv. Here's gratitude for twelve thousand pounds! — Avada- 
vats and Indian crackers! [Aside. 

Jos. Surf. Then, my dear sir, you have heard, I doubt not, of the 
extravagance of my brother: there are very few would credit what I 
have done for that unfortunate young man. 

Sir Oliv. Not I, for one! [Aside. 

Jos. Surf. The sums I have lent him! Indeed I have been exceed- 
ingly to blame; it was an amiable weakness; however, I don't pre- 
tend to defend it — and now I feel it doubly culpable, since it has 
deprived me of the pleasure of serving you, Mr. Stanley, as my 
heart dictates. 

Sir Oliv. [Aside.] Dissembler! — [Aloud.] Then, sir, you can't 
assist me? 

Jos. Surf. At present, it grieves me to say, I cannot; but, when- 
ever I have the ability, you may depend upon hearing from me. 

Sir Oliv. I am extremely sorry — 

Jos. Surf. Not more than I, believe me; to pity, without the power 
to relieve, is still more painful than to ask and be denied. 

Sir Oliv. Kind sir, your most obedient humble servant. 

Jos. Surf. You leave me deeply ailected, Mr. Stanley. — William, 
be ready to open the door. [Calls to Servant. 

Sir Oliv. Oh, dear sir, no ceremony. 

Jos. Surf. Your very obedient. 

Sir Oliv. Your most obsequious. 

Jos. Surf. You may depend upon hearing from me, whenever I 
can be of service. 

Sir Oliv. Sweet sir, you are too good! 

Jos. Surf. In the meantime I wish you health and spirits. 

Sir Oliv. Your ever grateful and perpetual humble servant. 

Jos. Surf. Sir, yours as sincerely. 

Sir Oliv. [Aside.] Now I am satisfied. [Exit. 

Jos. Surf. This is one bad effect of a good character; it invites ap- 
plication from the unfortunate, and there needs no small degree of 
address to gain the reputation of benevolence without incurring the 
expense. The silver ore of pure charity is an expensive article in the 
catalogue of a man's good qualities; whereas the sentimental French 
plate I use instead of it makes just as good a show, and pays no tax. 



l80 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Re-enter Rowley 

Row. Mr. Surface, your servant: I was apprehensive of interrupt- 
ing you, though my business demands immediate attention, as this 
note will inform you. 

Jos. Surf. Always happy to see Mr. Rowley, — a rascal. — [Aside. 
Reads the letter.] Sir Oliver Surface! — My uncle arrived! 

Row. He is, indeed: we have just parted — quite well, after a 
speedy voyage, and impatient to embrace his worthy nephew. 

Jos. Surf. I am astonished! — WilUam! stop Mr. Stanley, if he's 
not gone. [Calls to Servant. 

Row. Oh! he's out of reach, I believe. 

Jos. Surf. Why did you not let me know this when you came in 
together ? 

Row. I thought you had particular business. But I must be gone 
to inform your brother, and appoint him here to meet your uncle. 
He will be with you in a quarter of an hour. 

Jos. Surf. So he says. Well, I am strangely overjoyed at his com- 
ing. — [Aside.] Never, to be sure, was anything so damned unlucky! 

Row. You will be delighted to see how well he looks. 

Jos. Surf. Oh! I'm overjoyed to hear it. — [Aside.] Just at this time! 

Row. I'll tell him how impatiently you expect him. 

Jos. Surf. Do, do; pray give my best duty and affection. Indeed, 
I cannot express the sensations I feel at the thought of seeing him. — 
[Exit Rowley.] Certainly his coming just at this time is the cruellest 
piece of ill fortune. [Exit. 

Scene II. — A Room in Sir Peter Teazle's House 
Enter Mrs. Candour and Maid 

Maid. Indeed, ma'am, my lady will see nobody at present. 

Mrs. Can. Did you tell her it was her friend Mrs. Candour ? 

Maid. Yes, ma'am; but she begs you will excuse her. 

Mrs. Can. Do go again; I shall be glad to see her, if it be only for 
a moment, for I am sure she must be in great distress. — [Exit Maid.] 
Dear heart, how provoking! I'm not mistress of half the circum- 
stances! We shall have the whole affair in the newspapers, with the 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL l8l 

names of the parties at length, before 1 have dropped the story at a 
dozen houses. 

Enter Sir Benjamin Backbite 

Oh, dear Sir Benjamin! you have heard, I suppose — 

Sir Ben. Of Lady Teazle and Mr. Surface — 

Mrs. Can. And Sir Peter's discovery — 

Sir Ben. Oh, the strangest piece of business, to be sure! 

Mrs. Can. Well, I never was so surprised in my life. I am so sorry 
for all parties, indeed. 

Sir Ben. Now, I don't pity Sir Peter at all : he was so extravagantly 
partial to Mr. Surface. 

Mrs. Can. Mr. Surface! Why, 'twas with Charles Lady Teazle was 
detected. 

Sir Ben. No, no, I tell you : Mr. Surface is the gallant. 

Mrs. Can. No such thing! Charles is the man. 'Twas Mr. Surface 
brought Sir Peter on purpose to discover them. 

Sir Ben. I tell you I had it from one — 

Mrs. Can. And I have it from one — 

Sir Ben. Who had it from one, who had it — 

Mrs. Can. From one immediately. But here comes Lady Sneer- 
well; perhaps she knows the whole affair. 

Enter Lady Sneerwell 

Lady Sneer. So, my dear Mrs. Candour, here's a sad affair of our 
friend Lady Teazle! 

Mrs. Can. Ay, my dear friend, who would have thought — 

Lady Sneer. Well, there is no trusting appearances; though, in- 
deed, she was always too lively for me. 

Mrs. Can. To be sure, her manners were a little too free; but then 
she was so young! 

Lady Sneer. And had, indeed, some good qualities. 

Mrs. Can. So she had, indeed. But have you heard the particulars? 

Lady Sneer. No; but every body says that Mr. Surface — 

Sir Ben. Ay, there; I told you Mr. Surface was the man. 

Mrs. Can. No, no: indeed the assignation was with Charles. 

Lady Sneer. With Charles! You alarm me, Mrs. Candour! 



l82 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Mrs. Can. Yes, yes; he was the lover. Mr. Surface, to do him jus- 
tice, was only the informer. 

Sir Ben. Well, I'll not dispute with you, Mrs. Candour; but, be 
it which it may, I hope that Sir Peter's wound will not — 

Mrs. Can. Sir Peter's wound! Oh, mercy! I didn't hear a word of 
their fighting. 

Lady Sneer. Nor I, a syllable. 

Sir Ben. No! what, no mention of the duel? 

Mrs. Can. Not a word. 

Sir Ben. Oh, yes: they fought before they left the room. 

Lady Sneer. Pray, let us hear. 

Mrs. Can. Ay, do oblige us with the duel. 

Sir Ben. Sir, says Sir Peter, immediately after the discovery, you are 
a most ungrateful fellow. 

Mrs. Can. Ay, to Charles — 

Sir Ben. No, no — to Mr. Surface — a most ungrateful fellow; and 
old as I am, sir, says he, / insist on immediate satisfaction. 

Mrs. Can. Ay, that must have been to Charles; for 'tis very unlikely 
Mr. Surface should fight in his own house. 

Sir Ben. Gad's life, ma'am, not at all — giving me immediate sat- 
isfaction. — On this, ma'am. Lady Teazle, seeing Sir Peter in such 
danger, ran out of the room in strong hysterics, and Charles after 
her, calling out for hartshorn and water; then, madam, they began to 
fight with swords — 

Enter Crabtree 

Crab. With pistols, nephew, pistols! I have it from undoubted 
authority. 

Mrs. Can. Oh, Mr. Crabtree, then it is all true! 

Crab. Too true, indeed, madam, and Sir Peter is dangerously 
wounded — 

Sir Ben. By a thrust in segoon quite through his left side — 

Crab. By a bullet lodged in the thorax. 

Mrs. Can. Mercy on me! Poor Sir Peter! 

Crab. Yes, madam; though Charles would have avoided the mat- 
ter, if he could. 

Mrs. Can. I told you who it was; I knew Charles was the person. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 183 

Sir Ben, My uncle, I see, knows nothing of the matter. 

Crab. But Sir Peter taxed him with basest ingratitude — 

Sir Ben. That I told you, you know — 

Crab. Do, nephew, let me speak! — and insisted on immediate — 

Sir Ben. Just as I said — 

Crab. Odd's life, nephew, allow others to know something too! 
A pair of pistols lay on the bureau (for Mr. Surface, it seems, had 
come home the night before late from Salthill, where he had been 
to see the Montem with a friend, who has a son at Eton), so, un- 
luckily, the pistols were left charged. 

Sir Ben. I heard nothing of this. 

Crab. Sir Peter forced Charles to take one, and they fired, it seems, 
pretty nearly together. Charles's shot took effect, as I tell you, and 
Sir Peter's missed; but, what is very extraordinary, the ball struck 
against a little bronze Shakespeare that stood over the fire place, 
grazed out of the window at a right angle, and wounded the post- 
man, who was just coming to the door with a double letter from 
Northamptonshire. 

Sir Ben. My uncle's account is more circumstantial, I confess; but 
I believe mine is the true one, for all that. 

Lady Sneer. \ Aside.] I am more interested in this affair than they 
imagine, and must have better information. {Exit. 

Sir Ben. Ah! Lady Sneerwell's alarm is very easily accounted for. 

Crab. Yes, yes, they certainly do say — but that's neither here nor 
there. 

Mrs. Can. But, pray, where is Sir Peter at present? 

Crab. Oh! they brought him home, and he is now in the house, 
though the servants are ordered to deny him. 

Mrs. Can. I believe so, and Lady Teazle, I suppose, attending him. 

Crab. Yes, yes; and I saw one of the faculty enter just before me. 

Sir Ben. Hey! who comes here? 

Crab. Oh, this is he: the physician, depend on't. 

Mrs. Can. Oh, certainly! it must be the physician; and now we 
shall know. 

Enter Sir Oliver Surface 

Crab. Well, doctor, what hopes? 

Mrs. Can. Ay, doctor, how's your patient? 



184 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Sir Ben. Now, doctor, isn't it a wound with a small-sword ? 

Cral>. A bullet lodged in the thorax, for a hundred! 

Sir Oliv. Doctor! a wound with a small-sword! and a bullet in the 
thorax! — Oons! are you mad, good people? 

Sir Ben. Perhaps, sir, you are not a doctor? 

Sir Oliv. Truly, I am to thank you for my degree, if I am. 

Crab. Only a friend of Sir Peter's, then, I presume. But, sir, you 
must have heard of his accident ? 

Sir Oliv. Not a word! 

Crab. Not of his being dangerously wounded? 

Sir Oliv. The devil he is! 

Sir Ben. Run through the body — 

Crab. Shot in the breast — 

Sir Ben. By one Mr. Surface — 

Crab. Ay, the younger. 

Sir Oliv. Hey! what the plague! you seem to differ strangely in 
your accounts: however, you agree that Sir Peter is dangerously 
wounded. 

Sir Ben. Oh, yes, we agree in that. 

Crab. Yes, yes, I believe there can be no doubt of that. 

Sir Oliv. Then, upon my word, for a person in that situation, he 
is the most imprudent man alive; for here he comes, walking as if 
nothing at all was the matter. 

Enter Sir Peter Teazle 

Odd's heart. Sir Peter! you are come in good time, I promise you; 
for we had just given you over! 

Sir Ben. [/4^V/(r/o Crabtree.] Egad, uncle, this is the most sudden 
recovery! 

Sir Oliv. Why, man! what do you out of bed with a small-sword 
through your body, and a bullet lodged in your thorax? 

Sir Pet. A small-sword and a bullet! 

Sir Oliv. Ay; these gentlemen would have killed you without law 
or physic, and wanted to dub me a doctor, to make me an accomplice. 

Sir Pet. Why, what is all this? 

5/> Ben. We rejoice, Sir Peter, that the story of the duel is not true, 
and are sincerely sorry for your other misfortune. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 1 85 

Sir Pet. So, so; all over the town already! [Aside. 

Crab. Though, Sir Peter, you were certainly vastly to blame to 
marry at your years. 

Sir Pet. Sir, what business is that o£ yours? 

Mrs. Can. Though, indeed, as Sir Peter made so good a husband, 
he's very much to be pitied. 

Sir Pet. Plague on your pity, ma'am! I desire none of it. 

Sir Ben. However, Sir Peter, you must not mind the laughing and 
jests you will meet with on the occasion. 

Sir Pet. Sir, sir! I desire to be master in my own house. 

Crab. 'Tis no uncommon case, that's one comfort. 

Sir Pet. I insist on being left to myself: without ceremony, I insist 
on your leaving my house directly! 

Mrs. Can. Well, well, we are going; and depend on't, we'll make 
the best report of it we can. [Exit. 

Sir Pet. Leave my house! 

Crab. And tell how hardly you've been treated. [Exit. 

Sir Pet. Leave my house! 

Sir Ben. And how patiently you bear it. [Exit. 

Sir Pet. Fiends! vipers! furies! Oh! that their own venom would 
choke them! 

Sir Oliv. They are very provoking indeed, Sir Peter. 

Enter Rowley 

Rotv. I heard high words: what has ruffled you, sir? 

Sir Pet. Psha! what signifies asking? Do I ever pass a day with- 
out my vexations? 

Row. Well, I'm not inquisitive. 

Sir Oliti. Well, Sir Peter, I have seen both my nephews in the 
manner we proposed. 

Sir Pet. A precious couple they are! 

Row. Yes, and Sir Oliver is convinced that your judgment was 
right. Sir Peter. 

Sir Oliv. Yes, I find Joseph is indeed the man, after all. 

Row. Ay, as Sir Peter says, he is a man of sentiment. 

Sir Oliv. And acts up to the sentiments he professes. 

Row. It certainly is edification to hear him talk. 



1 86 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Sir Oliv. Oh, he's a model for the young men of the age! — but 
how's this Sir Peter? you don't join us in your friend Joseph's 
praise, as I expected. 

Sir Pet. Sir Oliver, we live in a damned wicked world, and the 
fewer we praise the better. 

Row. What! do you say so, Sir Peter, who were never mistaken 
in your life? 

Sir Pet. Psha! plague on you both! I see by your sneering you 
have heard the whole affair. I shall go mad among you! 

Row. Then, to fret you no longer, Sir Peter, we are indeed ac- 
quainted with it all. I met Lady Teazle coming from Mr. Surface's 
so humbled, that she deigned to request me to be her advocate with 
you. 

Sir Pet. And does Sir Oliver know all this? 

Sir Oliv. Every circumstance. 

Sir Pet. What, of the closet and the screen, hey? 

Sir Oliv. Yes, yes, and the little French milliner. Oh, I have been 
vastly diverted with the story! ha! ha! ha! 

Sir Pet. 'Twas very pleasant. 

Sir Oliv. I never laughed more in my life, I assure you: haf ha! ha! 

Sir Pet. Oh, vastly diverting! ha! ha! ha! 

Row. To be sure, Joseph with his sentiments! ha! ha! hal 

Sir Pet. Yes, yes, his sentiments! ha! ha! ha! Hypocritical villain! 

Sir Oliv. Ay, and that rogue Charles to pull Sir Peter out of the 
closet: ha! ha! ha! 

Sir Pet. Ha! ha! 'twas devilish entertaining, to be sure! 

Sir Oliv. Ha! ha! ha! Egad, Sir Peter, I should like to have seen 
your face when the screen was thrown down: ha! ha! 

Sir Pet. Yes, yes, my face when the screen was thrown down: ha! 
ha! ha! Oh, I must never show my head again! 

Sir Oliv. But come, come, it isn't fair to laugh at you neither, my 
old friend; though, upon my soul, I can't help it. 

Sir Pet. Oh, pray don't restrain your mirth on my account: it 
does not hurt me at all! I laugh at the whole affair myself. Yes, yes, 
I think being a standing jest for all one's acquaintance a very happy 
situation. Oh, yes, and then of a morning to read the paragraphs 
about Mr. S , Lady T , and Sir P , will be so entertaining! 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 1 87 

Rou/. Without affectation, Sir Peter, you may despise the ridicule 
of fools. But I see Lady Teazle going towards the next room; I am 
sure you must desire a reconciliation as earnestly as she does. 

Sir Oliv. Perhaps my being here prevents her coming to you. 
Well, I'll leave honest Rowley to mediate between you; but he must 
bring you all presently to Mr. Surface's, where I am now returning, 
if not to reclaim a libertine, at least to expose hypocrisy. 

Sir Pet. I'll be present at your discovering yourself there with 
all my heart; though 'tis a vile unlucky place for discoveries. 

Row. We'll follow. [Exit Sir Oliver Surface. 

Sir Pet. She is not coming here, you see, Rowley. 

Row. No, but she has left the door of that room open, you per- 
ceive. See, she is in tears. 

Sir Pet. Certainly a Httle mortification appears very becoming in 
a wife. Don't you think it will do her good to let her pine a little? 

Row. Oh, this is ungenerous in you! 

Sir Pet. Well, I know not what to think. You remember the letter 
I found of hers evidently intended for Charles.' 

Row. A mere forgery. Sir Peter! laid in your way on purpose. 
This is one of the points which I intend Snake shall give you con- 
viction of. 

Sir Pet. I wish I were once satisfied of that. She looks this way. 
What a remarkably elegant turn of the head she has! Rowley, I'll 
go to her. 

Row. Certainly. 

Sir Pet. Though, when it is known that we are reconciled, people 
will laugh at me ten times more. 

Row. Let them laugh, and retort their malice only by showing 
them you are happy in spite of it. 

Sir Pet. Y faith, so I will! -and, if I'm not mistaken, we may yet be 
the happiest couple in the country. 

Row. Nay, Sir Peter, he who once lays aside suspicion — 

Sir Pet. Hold, Master Rowley! if you have any regard for me, 
never let me hear you utter any thing like a sentiment: I have had 
enough of them to serve me the rest of my life. [Exeunt. 



l88 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Scene III. — The Library of Joseph Surface's House 
Enter Joseph Surface and Lady Sneerwell 

Lady Sneer. Impossible! Will not Sir Peter immediately be recon- 
ciled to Charles, and of course no longer oppose his union with 
Maria ? The thought is distraction to me. 

Jos. Surf. Can passion furnish a remedy? 

Lady Sneer. No, nor cunning either. Oh, I was a fool, an idiot, to 
league with such a blunderer! 

Jos. Surf. Sure, Lady Sneerwell, I am the greatest sufferer; yet you 
see I bear the accident with calmness. 

Lady Sneer. Because the disappointment doesn't reach your heart; 
your interest only attached you to Maria. Had you felt for her what 
I have for that ungrateful libertine, neither your temper nor hypoc- 
risy could prevent your showing the sharpness of your vexation. 

Jos. Surf. But why should your reproaches fall on me for this dis- 
appointment? 

Lady Sneer, Are you not the cause of it ? Had you not a sufficient 
field for your roguery in imposing upon Sir Peter, and supplanting 
your brother, but you must endeavour to seduce his wife? I hate 
such an avarice of crimes; 'tis an unfair monopoly, and never 
prospers. 

Jos. Surf. Well, I admit I have been to blame. I confess I deviated 
from the direct road of wrong, but I don't think we're so totally de- 
feated neither. 

Lady Sneer. No! 

Jos. Surf. You tell me you have made a trial of Snake since we 
met, and that you still believe him faithful to us? 

Lady Sneer. I do believe so. 

Jos. Surf. And that he has undertaken, should it be necessary, to 
swear and prove, that Charles is at this time contracted by vows and 
honour to your ladyship, which some of his former letters to you will 
serve to support? 

Lady Sneer. This, indeed, might have assisted. 

Jos. Surf. Come, come; it is not too late yet. — \Knocl(^ing at the 
door.] But hark! this is probably my uncle. Sir Oliver: retire to that 
room; we'll consult farther when he is gone. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL iSg 

Lady Sneer. Well, but if he should find you out too ? 

Jos. Surf. Oh, I have no fear of that. Sir Peter will hold his 
tongue for his own credit's sake — and you may depend on it I shall 
soon discover Sir Oliver's weak side! 

Lady Sneer. I have no diffidence of your abilities: only be constant 
to one roguery at a time. 

Jos. Surf. I will, I will! — {Exit Lady Sneerwell.] So! 'tis con- 
founded hard, after such bad fortune, to be baited by one's confed- 
erate in evil. Well, at all events, my character is so much better than 
Charles's, that I certainly — hey! — what — this is not Sir Oliver, but 
old Stanley again. Plague on't that he should return to tease me 
just now! I shall have Sir Oliver come and find him here — and — 

Enter Sir Oliver Surface 

Gad's life, Mr. Stanley, why have you come back to plague me at this 
time? You must not stay now, upon my word. 

Sir Oliv. Sir, I hear your uncle Oliver is expected here, and though 
he has been so penurious to you, I'll try what he'll do for me. 

Jos. Surf. Sir, 'tis impossible for you to stay now, so I must beg — 
Come any other time, and I promise you, you shall be assisted. 

Sir Oliv. No: Sir Oliver and I must be acquainted 

Jos. Surf. Zounds, sir! then I insist on your quitting the room 
directly. 

Sir Oliv. Nay, sir — 

Jos. Surf. Sir, I insist on'tl — Here, William! show this gentleman 
out. Since you compel me, sir, not one moment — this is such 
insolence. \ Going to push him out. 

Enter Charles Surface 

Chas. Surf. Heyday! what's the matter now? What the devil, 
have you got hold of my little broker here? Zounds, brother, don't 
hurt little Premium. What's the matter, my little fellow? 

Jos. Surf. So! he has been with you too, has he? 

Chas. Surf. To be sure, he has. Why, he's as honest a little — But 
sure, Joseph, you have not been borrowing money too, have you? 

Jos. Surf. Borrowing! no! But, brother, you know we expect Sir 
Oliver here every — 



ipO RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Chas. Surf. O Gad, that's true! Noll mustn't find the little broker 
here, to be sure. 

Jos. Surf. Yet Mr. Stanley insists — 

Chas. Surf. Stanley! why his name's Premium. 

Jos. Surf. No, sir, Stanley. 

Chas. Surf. No, no, Premium. 

Jos. Surf. Well, no matter which — but — 

Chas Surf. Ay, ay, Stanley or Premium, 'tis the same thing, as you 
say; for I suppose he goes by half a hundred names, besides A. B. at 
the coffee-house. [Knocl^ing. 

Jos. Surf. 'Sdeath! here's Sir Oliver at the door. — Now I beg, Mr. 
Stanley — 

Chas. Surf. Ay, ay, and I beg, Mr. Premium — 

Sir Oliv. Gentlemen — 

Jos. Surf. Sir, by Heaven you shall go! 

Chas. Surf. Ay, out with him, certainly! 

Sir Oliv. This violence — 

Jos. Surf. Sir, 'tis your own fault. 

Chas. Surf. Out with him, to be sure. 

[Both forcing Sir Oliver out. 

Enter Sir Peter and Lady Teazle, Maria, and Rowley 

Sir Pet. My old friend, Sir Oliver — hey! What in the name of 
wonder — here are dutiful nephews — assault their uncle at a first 
visit! 

Lady Teaz. Indeed, Sir Oliver, 'twas well we came in to rescue you. 

Row. Truly it was; for I perceive. Sir Oliver, the character of old 
Stanley was no protection to you. 

Sir Olif. Nor of Premium either: the necessities of the former 
could not extort a shilling from that benevolent gentleman; and 
with the other I stood a chance of faring worse than my ancestors, 
and being knocked down without being bid for. 

Jos. Surf. Charles! 

Chas. Surf. Joseph! 

Jos. Surf. 'Tis now complete! 

Chas. Surf. Very. 

Sir Oliv. Sir Peter, my friend, and Rowley too — look on that elder 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL I91 

nephew ol mine. You know what he has already received from my 
bounty; and you also know how gladly I would have regarded half 
my fortune as held in trust for him: judge then my disappointment 
in discovering him to be destitute of truth, charity, and gratitude! 

Sir Pet. Sir Oliver, I should be more surprised at this declaration, 
if I had not myself found him to be mean, treacherous, and hypo- 
critical. 

Lady Teaz. And if the gentleman pleads not guilty to these, pray 
let him call me to his character. 

Sir Pet. Then, I believe, we need add no more: if he knows him- 
self, he will consider it as the most perfect punishment, that he is 
known to the world. 

Chas. Surf. If they talk this way to Honesty, what will they say 

to me, by and by? [Aside. 

[Sir Peter, Lady Teazle, and Maria retire. 

Sir Oliv. As for that prodigal, his brother, there — 

Chas. Surf. Ay, now comes my turn: the damned family pictures 
will ruin me! [Aside, 

Jos. Surf. Sir Oliver — uncle, will you honour me with a hearing? 

Chas. Surf. Now, if Joseph would make one of his long speeches, 
I might recollect myself a little. [Aside. 

Sir Oliv. [To Joseph Surface.] I suppose you would undertake 
to justify yourself? 

Jos. Surf. I trust I could. 

Sir Oliv. [To Charles Surface.] Well, sir! — and you could jus- 
tify yourself too, I suppose? 

Chas. Surf. Not that I know of, Sir Oliver. 

Sir Oliv. What! — Little Premium has been let too much into the 
secret, I suppose? 

Chas. Surf. True, sir; but they were family secrets, and should not 
be mentioned again, you know. 

Row. Come, Sir Oliver, I know you cannot speak of Charles's 
follies with anger. 

Sir Oliv. Odd's heart, no more I can; nor with gravity either. Sir 
Peter, do you know the rogue bargained with me for all his ances- 
tors; sold me judges and generals by the foot, and maiden aunts as 
cheap as broken china. 



192 RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Chas. Surf. To be sure, Sir Oliver, I did make a little free with the 
family canvas, that's the truth on't. My ancestors may rise in judg- 
ment against me, there's no denying it; but believe me sincere when 
I tell you — and upon my soul I would not say so if I was not — that 
if I do not appear mortified at the exposure of my follies, it is because 
1 feel at this moment the warmest satisfaction in seeing you, my 
liberal benefactor. 

Sir Oliv. Charles, I believe you. Give me your hand again: the 
ill-looking little fellow over the settee has made your peace. 

Chas.Surf. Then, sir, my gratitude to the original is still increased. 

Lady Teaz. \ Advancing.] Yet, I believe, Sir Oliver, here is one 
Charles is still more anxious to be reconciled to. 

\ Pointing to Maria. 

Sir Oliv. Oh, I have heard of his attachment there; and, with the 
young lady's pardon, if I construe right — that blush — 

Sir Pet. Well, child, speak your sentiments! 

Mar. Sir, I have little to say, but that I shall rejoice to hear that he 
is happy; for me, whatever claim I had to his attention, I willingly 
resign to one who has a better title. 

Chas. Surf. How, Maria! 

Sir Pet. Heyday! what's the mystery now? While he appeared 
an incorrigible rake, you would give your hand to no one else; 
and now that he is likely to reform I'll warrant you won't have 
him! 

Mar, His own heart and Lady Sneerwell know the cause. 

Chas. Surf. Lady Sneerwell! 

Jos. Surf. Brother, it is with great concern I am obliged to sp)eak 
on this point, but my regard to justice compels me, and Lady Sneer- 
well's injuries can no longer be concealed. [Opens the door. 

Enter Lady Sneerwell 

Sir Pet. So! another French milliner! Egad, he has one in every 
room in the house, 1 suppose! 

Lady Sneer. Ungrateful Charles! Well may you be surprised, and 
feel for the indelicate situation your perfidy has forced me into. 

Chas. Surf. Pray, uncle, is this another plot of yours? For, as I 
have life, I don't understand it. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 1 93 

Jos. Surf. I believe, sir, there is but the evidence of one person 
more necessary to make it extremely clear. 

Sir Pet. And that person, I imagine, is Mr. Snake. — Rowley, you 
were perfectly right to bring him with us, and pray let him appear. 

Row. Walk in, Mr. Snake. 

Enter Snake 

I thought his testimony might be wanted: however, it happens un- 
luckily, that he comes to confront Lady Sneerwell, not to support her. 

Lady Sneer. A villain! Treacherous to me at last! Speak, fellow, 
have you too conspired against me? 

Snal{e. I beg your ladyship ten thousand pardons: you paid me 
extremely liberally for the lie in question; but I unfortunately have 
been offered double to speak the truth. 

Sir Pet. Plot and counter-plot, egad! I wish your ladyship joy of 
your negociation. 

Lady Sneer. The torments of shame and disappointment on you 
all! [Going. 

Lady Teaz. Hold, Lady Sneerwell — before you go, let me thank 
you for the trouble you and that gentleman have taken, in writing 
letters from me to Charles, and answering them yourself; and let me 
also request you to make my respects to the scandalous college of 
which you are president, and inform them that Lady Teazle, licen- 
tiate, begs leave to return the diploma they granted her, as she leaves 
off practice, and kills characters no longer. 

Lady Sneer. You too, madam! — provoking — insolent! May your 
husband live these fifty years! [Exit. 

Sir Pet. Oons! what a fury! 

Lady Teaz. A malicious creature, indeed! 

Sir Pet. What! not for her last wish-i* 

Lady Teaz. Oh, no! 

Sir Oliv. Well, sir, and what have you to say now ? 

Jos. Surf. Sir, I am so confounded, to find that Lady Sneerwell 
could be guilty of suborning Mr. Snake in this manner, to impose on 
us all, that I know not what to say: however, lest her revengeful spirit 
should prompt her to injure my brother, I had certainly better follow 
her directly. For the man who attempts to — [Exit. 



194 RICHyUlD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN 

Sir Pet. Moral to the last! 

Sir Oliv. Ay, and marry her, Joseph, if you can. Oil and vinegar! 
— egad you'll do very well together. 

Row. I believe we have no more occasion for Mr. Snake at present? 

Sna/^e. Before I go, I beg pardon once for all, for whatever un- 
easiness I have been the humble instrument of causing to the parties 
present. 

Sir Pet. Well, well, you have made atonement by a good deed at 
last. 

Snal(e. But I must request of the company, that it shall never be 
known. 

Sir Pet. Hey! what the plague! are you ashamed of having done a 
right thing once in your life? 

Snal(e. Ah, sir, consider — I live by the badness of my character; 
and, if it were once known that I had been betrayed into an honest 
action, I should lose every friend I have in the world. 

Sir Olif. Well, well — we'll not traduce you by saying any thing in 
your praise, never fear. [Exit Snake. 

Sir Pet. There's a precious rogue! 

Lady Teaz. See, Sir Oliver, there needs no persuasion now to 
reconcile your nephew and Maria. 

Sir Oliv. Ay, ay, that's as it should be, and, egad, we'll have the 
wedding to-morrow morning. 

Chas. Surf. Thank you, dear uncle. 

Sir Pet. What, you rogue! don't you ask the girl's consent first? 

Chas. Surf. Oh, I have done that a long time — a minute ago — and 
she has looked yes. 

Mar. For shame, Charles! — I protest. Sir Peter, there has not been 
a word — 

Sir Oliv. Well, then, the fewer the better; may your love for each 
other never know abatement. 

Sir Pet. And may you hve as happily together as Lady Teazle 
and I intend to do! 

Chas. Surf. Rowley, my old friend, I am sure you congratulate 
me; and I suspect that I owe you much. 

Sir Oliv. You do, indeed, Charles. 

Sir Pet. Ay, honest Rowley always said you would reform. 



THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL 1 95 

Chas. Surf. Why, as to reforming, Sir Peter, I'll make no promises, 
and that I take to be a proof that I intend to set about it. But here 
shall be my monitor — my gentle guide. — Ah! can I leave the vir- 
tuous path those eyes illumine? 

Though thou, dear maid, shouldst waive thy beauty's sway, 
Thou still must rule, because I will obey: 
An humble fugitive from Folly view, 
No sanctuary near but Love and you: 



You can, indeed, each anxious fear remove, 
For even Scandal dies, if you approve. 



\To the Audience. 



[Exeunt omnes. 



EPILOGUE 

BY MR. COLMAN 

SPOKEN BY LADY TEAZLE 

I, who was late so volatile and gay, 
Like a trade-wind must now blow all one way, 
Bend all my cares, my studies, and my vows, 
To one dull rusty weathercock — my sf)ouse! 
So wills our virtuous bard — the motley Bayes 
Of crying epilogues and laughing plays! 
Old bachelors, who marry smart young wives, 
Learn from our play to regulate your lives: 
Each bring his dear to town, all faults upon her^ 
London will prove the very source of honour. 
Plunged fairly in, like a cold bath it serves, 
When principles relax, to brace the nerves: 
Such is my case; and yet I must deplore 
That the gay dream of dissipation *s o'er. 
And say, ye fair! was ever lively wife, 
Born with a genius for the highest life, 
Like me untimely blasted in her bloom. 
Like me condcmn'd to such a dismal doom? 
Save money — v/hen I just knew how to waste it! 
Leave London — just as I began to taste it! 

Must I then watch the early crowing cock. 
The melancholy ticking of a clock; 
In a lone rustic hall for ever pounded, 
With dogs, cats, rats, and squalling brats surrounded? 
With humble curate can I now retire, 
(While good Sir Peter boozes with the squire) 
And at backgammon mortify my soul, 
That pants for loo, or flutters at a vole? 
Seven's the main! Dear sound that must expire. 
Lost at hot cockles round a Christmas fire; 
The transient hour of fashion too soon spent, 
Farewell the tranquil mind, farewell content! 
196 



EPILOGUE 197 

Farewell the plumed head, the cushioned tete, 

That takes the cushion from its proper seat! 

That spirit-stirring drum! — card drums I mean, 

Spadille — odd trick — pam — basto — king and queen! 

And you, ye knockers, that, with brazen throat. 

The welcome visitors' approach denote; 

Farewell all quality of high renown. 

Pride, f)omp, and circumstance of glorious town! 

Farewell! your revels I partake no more, 

And Lady Teazle's occupation 's o'er! 

All this I told our bard; he smiled, and said 'twas clear, 

I ought to play deep tragedy next year. 

Meanwhile he drew wise morals from his play. 

And in these solemn periods stalked away: — 

"Blessed were the fair like you; her faults who stopped 

And closed her follies when the curtain dropped! 

No more in vice or error to engage. 

Or play the fool at large on life's great stage." 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 



BY 
OUVER GOLDSMITH 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 

Oliver Goldsmith, like his contemporary dramatist Sheridan, was an 
Irishman. He was born at Pallas, near Ballymahon, Longford, Novem- 
ber 10, 1728, the son of Charles Goldsmith, a clergyman with narrow 
means and a large family. Through the help of relatives Oliver was able 
to get through his course at Trinity College, Dublin, and after various 
futile experiments he went to Edinburgh to study medicine. Deciding 
to finish his studies abroad, he set out for Leyden, whence he went 
traveling through France, Switzerland, and Italy, usually on foot, and 
earning his meals by playing to the p>easants on the flute. Returning to 
England in 1756 in a state of destitution, he set up as a physician in 
London, later tried teaching, and in 1757 began his work as a literary 
hack in the employment of Griffiths, proprietor of the "Monthly Review." 
The next year he failed in an attempt to reenter the practise of medicine, 
and for the rest of his life was dependent on his pen and the generosity 
of his friends for a precarious livelihood. 

Goldsmith's literary work began with writing for periodicals, and in 
this form appeared his earliest notable production, "The Chinese Letters," 
later republished as "The Citizen of the World." His reputation was 
increased by the publication of "The Traveller" in 1764, and still farther 
by that of "The Vicar of Wakefield" in 1766, so that he obtained abun- 
dance of work from publishers and came as near being in easy circum- 
stances as his improvident nature permitted. In 1768 appeared his first 
attempt at drama, "The Good-Natured Man," which met with fair 
success. "The Deserted Village," issued in 1770, was immediately popu- 
lar; and in 1773 "She Stoops to Conquer" was presented at Covent 
Garden and scored a great triumph. But Goldsmith's money was usually 
spent or given away before it was earned; and he died on April 4, 1774, 
deeply in debt. 

Goldsmith shares with Sheridan the honor of being the only dramatist 
of his century whose plays are both read and acted to-day. "She Stoops 
to Conquer," while less brilliant in both dialogue and characterization 
than "The School for Scandal," is rich in amusing situations and still 
holds its audiences delighted with its genial and rollicking fun. 



To SAMUEL JOHNSON, LLD. 

Dear Sir, — By inscribing this slight performance to you, I do not mean 
so much to compUment you as myself. It may do me some honour to 
inform the public, that I have lived many years in intimacy with you. 
It may serve the interests of mankind also to inform them, that the 
greatest wit may be found in a character, without impairing the most 
unaffected piety. 

I have, particularly, reason to thank you for your partiality to this 
performance. The undertaking a comedy not merely sentimental was 
very dangerous; and Mr. Colman, who saw this piece in its various 
stages, always thought it so. However, I ventured to trust it to the public; 
and, though it was necessarily delayed till late in the season, I have every 
reason to be grateful. 

I am, dear Sir, your most sincere friend and admirer, 

OuvER Goldsmith. 



PROLOGUE 

BY DAVID GARRICK, ESQ. 

Enter Mr. Woodward, dressed in blacl(^, and holding a 
handkerchief to his eyes 

Excuse me, sirs, I pray — I can't yet speak — 
I'm crying now — and have been all the week. 
" 'Tis not alone this mourning suit," good masters: 
"I've that within" — for which there are no plasters! 
Pray, would you know the reason why I'm crying? 
The Comic Muse, long sick, is now a-dying! 
And if she goes, my tears will never stop; 
For as a player, I can't squeeze out one drop: 
I am undone, that's all — shall lose my bread — 
I'd rather, but that's nothing — lose my head. 
When the sweet maid is laid upon the bier, 
Shutcr and I shall be chief mourners here. 
To her a mawkish drab of spurious breed, 
Who deals in sentimentals, will succeed! 
Poor Ned and I are dead to all intents; 
We can as soon sf)eak Greek as sentiments! 
Both nervous grown, to keep our spirits up, 
We now and then take down a hearty cup. 
What shall we do? If Comedy forsake us. 
They'll turn us out, and no one else will take us. 
Cut why can't I be moral ? — Let me try — 
My heart thus pressing — fixed my face and eye — 
With a sententious look, that nothing means, 
(Faces are blocks in sentimental scenes) 
Thus I begin: "All is not gold that glitters, 
Pleasure seems sweet, but proves a glass of bitters. 
When Ignorance enters, Folly is at hand: 
Learning is better far than house and land. 
Let not your virtue trip; who trips may stumble. 
And virtue is not virtue, if she tumble." 
203 



204 PROLOGUE 

I give it up— morals won't do for me; 

To make you laugh, I must play tragedy. 

One hope remains — hearing the maid was ill, 

A Doctor comes this night to show his skill. 

To cheer her heart, and give your muscles motion, 

He, in Five Draughts prepar'd presents a potion: 

A kind of magic charm — for be assur'd. 

If you will swallow it, the maid is cur'd: 

But desperate the Doctor, and her case is, 

If you reject the dose, and make wry faces! 

This truth he boasts, will boast it while he lives. 

No poisonous drugs are mixed in what he gives. 

Should he succeed, you'll give him his degree; 

If not, within he will receive no fee! 

The College you, must his pretensions back. 

Pronounce him Regular, or dub him Quack. 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 

OR 

THE MISTAKES OF A NIGHT 

A COMEDY 



DRAMATIS PERSONS 



Sir Charles Marlow . 
Young Marlow (his son) 
Hardcastle .... 
Hastings .... 
Tony Lumpkin . 
DiGGORY 



Mr. Gardner 
Mr. Lee Lewes 
Mr. Shuter 
Mr. Dubellamy 
Mr. Quici( 
Mr. Saunders 



WOMEN 

Mrs. Hardcastle Mrs. Green 

Miss Hardcastle Mrs. Bul\ley 

Miss Neville Mrs. Kniveton 

Maid Miss Williams 

Landlord, Servants, &c., &c. 



ACT THE FIRST 

Scene — A Chamber in an old-fashioned House 

Enter Mrs. Hardcastle and Mr. Hardcastle 
Mrs. Hardcastle 

I VOW, Mr. Hardcastle, you're very particular. Is there a crea- 
ture in the whole country but ourselves, that does not take a 
trip to town now and then, to rub ofl the rust a little ? There's 
the two Miss Hoggs, and our neighbour Mrs. Grigsby, go to take a 
month's polishing every winter. 

Hard. Ay, and bring back vanity and affectation to last them the 
whole year. I wonder why London cannot keep its own fools at 
home! In my time, the follies of the town crept slowly among us, 

205 



206 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

but now they travel faster than a stage-coach. Its fopperies come 
down not only as inside passengers, but in the very basket. 

Mrs. Hard. Ay, your times were fine times indeed; you have been 
telling us of them for many a long year. Here we live in an old 
rumbling mansion, that looks for all the world like an inn, but that 
we never see company. Our best visitors are old Mrs. Oddfish, the 
curate's wife, and little Cripplegate, the lame dancing-master; and 
all our entertainment your old stories of Prince Eugene and the 
Duke of Marlborough. I hate such old-fashioned trumpery. 

Hard. And I love it. I love everything that's old: old friends, old 
times, old manners, old books, old wine; and I believe, Dorothy 
{talking her hand), you'll own I have been pretty fond of an old 
wife. 

Mrs. Hard. Lord, Mr. Hardcastle, you're for ever at your Dorothys 
and your old wifes. You may be a Darby, but I'll be no Joan, I 
promise you. I'm not so old as you'd make me, by more than one 
good year. Add twenty to twenty, and make money of that. 

Hard. Let me see; twenty added to twenty makes just fifty and 
seven. 

Mrs. Hard. It's false, Mr. Hardcastle; I was but twenty when I 
was brought to bed of Tony, that I had by Mr. Lumpkin, my first 
husband; and he's not come to years of discretion yet. 

Hard. Nor ever will, I dare answer for him. Ay, you have taught 
him finely. 

Mrs. Hard. No matter. Tony Lumpkin has a good fortune. My 
son is not to live by his learning. I don't think a boy wants much 
learning to spend fifteen hundred a year. 

Hard. Learning, quotha! a mere composition of tricks and mis- 
chief. 

Mrs. Hard. Humour, my dear; nothing but humour. Come, Mr. 
Hardcastle, you must allow the boy a little humour. 

Hard. I'd sooner allow him a horse-pxjnd. If burning the foot- 
men's shoes, frightening the maids, and worrying the kittens be 
humour, he has it. It was but yesterday he fastened my wig to the 
back of my chair, and when I went to make a bow, I popt my bald 
head in Mrs. Frizzle's face. 

Mrs. Hard. And am I to blame.' The poor boy was always too 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 10'] 

sickly to do any good. A school would be his death. When he comes 
to be a little stronger, who knows what a year or two's Latin may do 
for him } 

Hard. Latin tor him! A cat and fiddle. No, no; the alehouse and 
the stable are the only schools he'll ever go to. 

Mrs. Hard. Well, we must not snub the poor boy now, for I be- 
lieve we sha'n't have him long among us. Anybody that looks in his 
face may see he's consumptive. 

Hard. Ay, if growing too fat be one of the symptoms. 

Mrs. Hard. He coughs sometimes. 

Hard. Yes, when his liquor goes the wrong way. 

Mrs. Hard. I'm actually afraid of his lungs. 

Hard. And truly so am I; for he sometimes whoops like a speak- 
ing trumpet — (Tony hallooing behind the scenes) — O, there he 
goes — a very consumptive figure, truly. 

Enter Tony, crossing the stage 

Mrs. Hard. Tony, where are you going, my charmer? Won't 
you give papa and I a little of your company, lovee ? 

Tony. I'm in haste, mother; I cannot stay. 

Mrs. Hard. You sha'n't venture out this raw evening, my dear; 
you look most shockingly. 

Tony. I can't stay, I tell you. The Three Pigeons expects me down 
every moment. There's some fun going forward. 

Hard. Ay; the alehouse, the old place; I thought so. 

Mrs. Hard. A low, paltry set of fellows. 

Tony. Not so low, neither. There's Dick Muggins the exciseman. 
Jack Slang the horse doctor, little Aminadab that grinds the music 
box, and Tom Twist that spins the pewter platter. 

Mrs. Hard. Pray, my dear, disappoint them for one night at least. 

Tony. As for disappointing them, I should not so much mind; 
but I can't abide to disappoint myself. 

Mrs. Hard. {Detaining him.) You sha'n't go. 

Tony. I will, I tell you. 

Mrs. Hard. I say you sha'n't. 

Tony. We'll see which is strongest, you or I. 

{Exit, hauling her out. 



208 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

Hard. (Solus.) Ay, there goes a pair that only spoil each other. 
But is not the whole age in a combination to drive sense and dis- 
cretion out of doors? There's my pretty darling Kate! the fashions 
of the times have almost infected her too. By living a year or two in 
town, she is as fond of gauze and French frippery as the best of them. 

Enter Miss Hardcastle 

Hard. Blessings on my pretty innocence! drest out as usual, my 
Kate. Goodness! What a quantity of superfluous silk hast thou got 
about thee, girl! I could never teach the fools of this age, that 
the indigent world could be clothed out of the trimmings of the 
vain. 

Miss Hard. You know our agreement, sir. You allow me the 
morning to receive and pay visits, and to dress in my own manner; 
and in the evening I put on my housewife's dress to please you. 

Hard. Well, remember, I insist on the terms of our agreement; 
and, by the by, I beUeve I shall have occasion to try your obedience 
this very evening. 

Miss Hard. I protest, sir, I don't comprehend your meaning. 

Hard. Then to be plain with you, Kate, I expect the young gentle- 
man I have chosen to be your husband from town this very day. I 
have his father's letter, in which he informs me his son is set out, 
and that he intends to follow himself shortly after. 

Miss Hard. Indeed! I wish I had known something of this before. 
Bless me, how shall I behave? It's a thousand to one I sha'n't like 
him; our meeting will be so formal, and so like a thing of business, 
that I shall find no room for friendship or esteem. 

Hard. Depend upon it, child, I'll never control your choice; but 
Mr. Marlow whom I have pitched upon, is the son of my old friend. 
Sir Charles Marlow, of whom you have heard me talk so often. 
The young gentleman has been bred a scholar, and is designed for an 
employment in the service of his country. I am told he's a man of 
an excellent understanding. 

Miss Hard. Is he? 

Hard. Very generous. 

Miss Hard. I believe I shall like him. 

Hard. Young and brave. 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 209 

Miss Hard. I'm sure I shall like him. 

Hard. And very handsome. 

Miss Hard. My dear papa, say no more {f^issing his hand), he's 
mine; I'll have him. 

Hard. And, to crown all, Kate, he's one of the most bashful and 
reserved young fellows in all the world. 

Miss Hard. Eh! you have frozen me to death again. That word 
reserved has undone all the rest of his accomplishments. A reserved 
lover, it is said, always makes a suspicious husband. 

Hard. On the contrary, modesty seldom resides in a breast that is 
not enriched with nobler virtues. It was the very feature in his 
character that first struck me. 

Miss Hard. He must have more striking features to catch me, I 
promise you. However, if he be so young, so handsome, and so 
everything as you mention, I believe he'll do still. I think I'll have 
him. 

Hard. Ay, Kate, but there is still an obstacle. It's more than an 
even wager he may not have you. 

Miss Hard. My dear papa, why will you mortify one so? Well, if 
he refuses, instead of breaking my heart at his indifference, I'll only 
break my glass for its flattery, set my cap to some newer fashion, and 
look out for some less difficult admirer. 

Hard. Bravely resolved! In the meantime I'll go prepare the 
servants for his reception: as we seldom see company, they want as 
much training as a company of recruits the first day's muster. {Exit. 

Miss Hard. (Sola.) Lud, this news of papa's puts me all in a 
flutter. Young, handsome: these he put last; but I put them fore- 
most. Sensible, good-natured; I like all that. But then reserved and 
sheepish; that's much against him. Yet can't he be cured of his 
timidity, by being taught to be proud of his wife? Yes, and can't I 
— But I vow I'm disposing of the husband before I have secured 

the lover. 

Enter Miss Neville 

Miss Hard. I'm glad you're come, Neville, my dear. Tell me, 
Constance, how do I look this evening? Is there anything whimsical 
about me? Is it one of my well-looking days, child? Am I in face 
to-day? 



210 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

Miss Nev. Perfectly, my dear. Yet now I look again — bless me! 
— sure no accident has happened among the canary birds or the gold 
fishes. Has your brother or the cat been meddling? or has the last 
novel been too moving? 

Miss Hard. No; nothing of all this. I have been threatened — I 
can scarce get it out — I have been threatened with a lover. 

Miss Nev. And his name — 

Miss Hard. Is Marlow. 

Miss Nev. Indeed! 

Miss Hard. The son of Sir Charles Marlow. 

Miss Nev. As I live, the most intimate friend of Mr. Hastings, my 
admirer. They are never asunder. I believe you must have seen him 
when we lived in town. 

Miss Hard. Never. 

Miss Nev. He's a very singular character, I assure you. Among 
women of reputation and virtue he is the modestest man alive; but 
his acquaintance give him a very different character among creatures 
of another stamp: you understand me. 

Miss Hard. An odd character indeed. I shall never be able to 
manage him. What shall I do? Pshaw, think no more of him, but 
trust to occurrences for success. But how goes on your own affair, 
my dear? has my mother been courting you for my brother Tony 
as usual? 

Miss Nev. I have just come from one of our agreeable tete-i-tetes. 
She has been saying a hundred tender things, and setting off her 
pretty monster as the very pink of perfection. 

Miss Hard. And her partiality is such, that she actually thinks 
him so. A fortune like yours is no small temptation. Besides, as she 
has the sole management of it, I'm not surprised to see her un- 
willing to let it go out of the family. 

Miss Nev. A fortune like mine, which chiefly consists in jewels, 
is no such mighty temptation. But at any rate, if my dear Hastings 
be but constant, I make no doubt to be too hard for her at last. How- 
ever, I let her suppose that I am in love with her son; and she never 
once dreams that my affections are fixed upon another. 

Miss Hard. My good brother holds out stoutly. I could almost 
love him for hating you so. 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 211 

Miss Nev. It is a good-natured creature at bottom, and I'm sure 
would wish to see me married to anybody but himself. But my 
aunt's bell rings for our afternoon's walk round the improvements. 
Allans! Courage is necessary, as our affairs are critical. 

Miss Hard. "Would it were bed-time, and all were well." 

{Exeunt. 

Scene — An Alehouse Room. Several shabby Fellows with punch and 
tobacco. Tony at the head of the table, a little higher than the rest, 
a mallet in his hand 

Omnes. Hurrea! hurrea! hurrea! bravo! 

First Fel. Now, gentlemen, silence for a song. The 'squire is 
going to knock himself down for a song. 

Omnes. Ay, a song, a song! 

Tony. Then I'll sing you, gentlemen, a song I made upon this ale- 
house, the Three Pigeons. 

SONG 

Let schoolmasters puzzle their brain 

With grammar, and nonsense, and learning. 
Good liquor, I stoudy maintain, 

Gives genus a better discerning. 
Let them brag of their heathenish gods, 

Their Lethcs, their Styxes, and Stygians, 
Their Quis, and their Quxs, and their Quods, 

They're all but a parcel of Pigeons. 

Toroddle, toroddle, toroll. 

When methodist preachers come down, 

A-prcaching that drinking is sinful, 
I'll wager the rascals a crown, 

They always preach best with a skinful. 
But when you come down with your pence. 

For a slice of their scurvy religion, 
I'll leave it to all men of sense, 

But you, my good friend, are the Pigeon. 

Toroddle, toroddle, torolL 

Then come, put the jorum about. 
And let us be merry and clever, 
Our hearts and our liquors are stout. 



212 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

Here's the Three Jolly Pigeons for ever. 
Let some cry up woodcock or hare, 

Your bustards, your ducks, and your widgeons; 
But of all the gay birds in the air. 

Here's a health to the Three jolly Pigeons. 

Toroddle, toroddle, toroU. 

Omnes. Bravo, bravo! 

First Fel. The 'squire has got spunk in him. 

Second Fel. I loves to hear him sing, bekeays he never gives us 
nothing that's low. 

Third Fel. O damn anything that's low, I cannot bear it. 

Fourth Fel, The genteel thing is the genteel thing any time: if so 
be that a gentleman bees in a concatenation accordingly. 

Third Fel. I likes the maxum of it, Master Muggins. What, 
though I am obligated to dance a bear, a man may be a gentleman 
for all that. May this be my poison, if my bear ever dances but to the 
very genteelest of tunes; "Water Parted," or "The Minuet in 
Ariadne." 

Second Fel. What a pity it is the 'squire is not come to his own. 
It would be well for all the publicans within ten miles round of him. 

Tony. Ecod, and so it would. Master Slang. I'd then show what 
it was to keep choice of company. 

Second Fel. O he takes after his own father for that. To be sure 
old 'Squire Lumpkin was the finest gentleman I ever set my eyes on. 
For winding the straight horn, or beating a thicket for a hare, or a 
wench, he never had his fellow. It was a saying in the place, that he 
kept the best horses, dogs, and girls, in the whole county. 

Tony. Ecod, and when I'm of age, I'll be no bastard, I promise 
you. I have been thinking of Bet Bouncer and the miller's grey 
mare to begin with. But come, my boys, drink about and be merry, 
for you pay no reckoning. Well Stingo, what's the matter.? 

Enter Landlord 

Land. There be two gentlemen in a post<haise at the door. They 
have lost their way upo' the forest; and they are talking something 
about Mr. Hardcastle. 

Tony. As sure as can be, one of them must be the gentleman that's 
coming down to court my sister. Do they seem to be Londoners? 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 213 

Land. I believe they may. They look woundily like Frenchmen. 

Tony. Then desire them to step this way, and I'll set them right 
in a twinkling. {Exit Landlord.) Gentlemen, as they mayn't be 
good enough company for you, step down for a moment, and I'll be 
with you in the squeezing of a lemon. [Exeunt mob. 

Tony. (Solus.) Father-in-law has been calling me whelp and 
hound this half year. Now, if I pleased, I could be so revenged upon 
the old grumbletonian. But then I'm afraid — afraid of what? I 
shall soon be worth fifteen hundred a year, and let him frighten me 
out of that if he can. 

Enter Landlord, conducting Marlow and Hastings 

Mar. What a tedious uncomfortable day have we had of it! We 
were told it was but forty miles across the country, and we have come 
above threescore. 

Hast. And all, Marlow, from that unaccountable reserve of yours, 
that would not let us inquire more frequently on the way. 

Mar. I own, Hastings, I am unwilling to lay myself under an ob- 
ligation to every one I meet, and often stand the chance of an un- 
mannerly answer. 

Hast. At present, however, we are not likely to receive any answer. 

Tony. No offence, gentlemen. But I'm told you have been in- 
quiring for one Mr. Hardcastle in these parts. Do you know what 
part of the country you are in? 

Hast. Not in the least, sir, but should thank you for information. 

Tony. Nor the way you came ? 

Hast. No, sir; but if you can inform us — 

Tony. Why, gentlemen, if you know neither the road you are 
going, nor where you are, nor the road you came, the first thing I 
have to inform you is, that — you have lost your way. 

Mar. We wanted no ghost to tell us that. 

Tony. Pray, gentlemen, may I be so bold so as to ask the place 
from whence you came? 

Mar. That's not necessary towards directing us where we are 
to go. 

Tony. No offence; but question for question is all fair, you 
know. Pray, gentlemen, is not this same Hardcastle a cross-grained. 



214 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

oldfashioned, whimsical fellow, with an ugly face, a daughter, and a 
pretty son ? 

Hast. We have not seen the gentleman; but he has the family 
you mention. 

Tony. The daughter, a tall, trapesing, trolloping, talkative may- 
pole; the son, a pretty, well-bred, agreeable youth, that everybody is 
fond of. 

Mar. Our information differs in this. The daughter is said to be 
well-bred and beautiful; the son an awkward booby, reared up and 
spoiled at his mother's apron-string. 

Tony. He-he-hem! — Then, gentlemen, all I have to tell you is, 
that you won't reach Mr. Hardcastle's house this night, I believe. 

Hast. Unfortunate! 

Tony. It's a damn'd long, dark, boggy, dirty, dangerous way. 
Stingo, tell the gentlemen the way to Mr. Hardcastle's! {Winding 
upon the Landlord.) Mr. Hardcastle's, of Quagmire Marsh, you 
understand me. 

Land. Master Hardcastle's! Lack-a-daisy, my masters, you're come 
a deadly deal wrong! When you came to the bottom of the hill, you 
should have crossed down Squash Lane. 

Mar. Cross down Squash Lane! 

Land. Then you were to keep straight forward, till you came to 
four roads. 

Mar. Come to where four roads meet? 

Tony. Ay; but you must be sure to take only one of them. 

Mar. O, sir, you're facetious. 

Tony. Then keeping to the right, you are to go sideways till you 
come upon CrackskuU Common: there you must look sharp for the 
track of the wheel, and go forward till you come to farmer Murrain's 
barn. Coming to the farmer's barn, you are to turn to the right, and 
then to the left, and then to the right about again, till you find out 
the old mill — 

Mar. Zounds, man! we could as soon find out the longitude! 

Hast. What's to be done, Marlow ? 

Mar. This house promises but a poor reception; though perhaps 
the landlord can accommodate us. 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 215 

Land. Alack, master, we have but one spare bed in the whole 
house. 

Tony. And to my knowledge, that's taken up by three lodgers 
already. {After a pause, in which the rest seem disconcerted.) I have 
hit it. Don't you think, Stingo, our landlady could accommodate the 
gentlemen by the fire-side, with — three chairs and a bolster? 

Hast. I hate sleeping by the fire-side. 

Mar. And I detest your three chairs and a bolster. 

Tony. You do, do you ? then, let me see — what if you go on a mile 
further, to the Buck's Head; the old Buck's Head on the hill, one of 
the best inns in the whole county ? 

Hast. O ho! so we have escaped an adventure for this night, how- 
ever. 

Land. {Apart to Tony.) Sure, you ben't sending them to your 
father's as an inn, be you ? 

Tony. Mum, you fool you. Let them find that out. {To them.) 
You have only to keep on straight forward, till you come to a large 
old house by the road side. You'll see a pair of large horns over the 
door. That's the sign. Drive up the yard, and call stoutly about you. 

Hast. Sir, we are obliged to you. The servants can't miss the way? 

Tony. No, no: but I tell you, though, the landlord is rich, and 
going to leave off business; so he wants to be thought a gentleman, 
saving your presence, he! he! he! He'll be for giving you his com- 
pany; and, ecod, if you mind him, he'll persuade you that his mother 
was an alderman, and his aunt a justice of peace. 

Land. A troublesome old blade, to be sure; but a keeps as good 
wines and beds as any in the whole country. 

Mar. Well, if he supplies us with these, we shall want no farther 
connection. We are to turn to the right, did you say ? 

Tony. No, no; straight forward. I'll just step myself, and show 
you a piece of the way. {To the Landlord.) Mum! 

Land. Ah, bless your heart, for a sweet, pleasant — damn'd mis- 
chievous son of a whore. [Exeunt. 



2l6 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

ACT THE SECOND 

Scene — An old-fashioned House 

Enter Hardcastle, followed by three or 

jour awkward Servants 

Hard. Well, I hope you are perfect in the table exercise I have 
been teaching you these three days. You all know your posts and 
your places, and can show that you have been used to good com- 
pany, without ever stirring from home. 

Omnes. Ay, ay. 

Hard. When company comes you are not to pop out and stare, 
and then run in again, like frighted rabbits in a warren. 

Omnes. No, no. 

Hard. You, Diggory, whom I have taken from the barn, are to 
make a show at the side-table; and you, Roger, whom I have ad- 
vanced from the plough, are to place yourself behind my chair. But 
you're not to stand so, with your hands in your pockets. Take your 
hands from your pockets, Roger; and from your head, you block- 
head you. See how Diggory carries his hands. They're a little too 
stiff, indeed, but that's no great matter. 

Dig. Ay, mind how I hold them. I learned to hold my hands 
this way when I was upon drill for the militia. And so being upon 
drill- 

Hard. You must not be so talkative, Diggory. You must be all 
attention to the guests. You must hear us talk, and not think of 
talking; you must see us drink, and not think of drinking; you must 
see us eat, and not think of eating. 

Dig. By the laws, your worship, that's parfectly unpossible. When- 
ever Diggory sees yeating going forward, ecod, he's always wishing 
for a mouthful himself. 

Hard. Blockhead! Is not a belly-full in the kitchen as good as a 
belly-full in the parlour? Stay your stomach with that reflection. 

Dig. Ecod, I thank your worship, I'll make a shift to stay my 
stomach with a slice of cold beef in the pantry. 

Hard. Diggory, you are too talkative. — Then, if I happen to say 
a good thing, or tell a good story at table, you must not all burst out 
a-laughing, as if you made part of the company. 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 21 7 

Dig. Then ecod your worship must not tell the story of Ould 
Grouse in the gun-room: I can't help laughing at that — he! he! he! 
—for the soul of me. We have laughed at that these twenty years— 
ha! ha! ha! 

Hard. Ha! ha! ha! The story is a good one. Well, honest Dig- 
gory, you may laugh at that — but still remember to be attentive. 
Suppose one of the company should call for a glass of wine, how will 
you behave? A glass of wine, sir, if you please (to Dicgory). — Eh, 
why don't you move ? 

Dig. Ecod, your worship, I never have courage till I see the eat- 
ables and drinkables brought upo' the table, and then I'm as bauld 
as a lion. 

Hard. What, will nobody move ? 

First Serf. I'm not to leave this pleace. 

Second Serv. I'm sure it's no pleace of mine. 

Third Serv. Nor mine, for sartain. 

Dig. Wauns, and I'm sure it canna be mine. 

Hard. You numskulls! and so while, like your betters, you are 
quarrelling for places, the guests must be starved. O you dunces! I 
find I must begin all over again — But don't I hear a coach drive 
into the yard? To your posts, you blockheads. I'll go in the mean 
time and give my old friend's son a hearty reception at the gate. 

[Exit Hardcastle. 

Dig. By the elevens, my pleace is gone quite out of my head. 

Rog. I know that my pleace is to be everywhere. 

First Serv. Where the devil is mine? 

Second Serv. My pleace is to be nowhere at all; and so I'ze go 
about my business. 

[Exeunt Servants, running about as if frighted, different ways. 

Enter Servant with candles, showing in 
Marlow and Hastings 

Serv. Welcome, gentlemen, very welcome! This way. 

Hast. After the disappointments of the day, welcome once more, 
Charles, to the comforts of a clean room and a good fire. Upon my 
word, a very well-looking house; antique but creditable. 

Mar. The usual fate of a large mansion. Having first ruined the 



2l8 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

master by good housekeeping, it at last comes to levy contributions 
as an inn. 

Hast. As you say, we passengers are to be taxed to pay all these 
fineries. I have often seen a good sideboard, or a marble chimney- 
piece, though not actually put in the bill, inflame a reckoning con- 
foundedly. 

Mar. Travellers, George, must pay in all places: the only differ- 
ence is, that in good inns you pay dearly for luxuries; in bad inns you 
are fleeced and starved. 

Hast. You have lived very much among them. In truth, I have 
been often surprised, that you who have seen so much of the world, 
with your natural good sense, and your many opportunities, could 
never yet acquire a requisite share of assurance. 

Mar. The Englishman's malady. But tell me, George, where could 
I have learned that assurance you talk of? My life has been chiefly 
spent in a college or an inn, in seclusion from that lovely part of the 
creation that chiefly teach men confidence. I don't know that I was 
ever familiarly acquainted with a single modest woman — except my 
mother — But among females of another class, you know — 

Hast. Ay, among them you are impudent enough of all conscience. 

Mar. They are of us, you know. 

Hast. But in the company of women of reputation I never saw 
such an idiot, such a trembler; you look for all the world as if you 
wanted an opportunity of stealing out of the room. 

Mar. Why, man, that's because I do want to steal out of the room. 
Faith, I have often formed a resolution to break the ice, and rattle 
away at any rate. But I don't know how, a single glance from a pair 
of fine eyes has totally overset my resolution. An impudent fellow 
may counterfeit modesty; but I'll be hanged if a modest man can 
ever counterfeit impudence. 

Hast. If you could but say half the fine things to them that I have 
heard you lavish upon the bar-maid of an inn, or even a college 
bed-maker — 

Mar. Why, George, I can't say fine things to them; they freeze, 
they petrify me. They may talk of a comet, or a burning mountain, 
or some such bagatelle; but, to me, a modest woman, dresf. out in 
all her finery, is the most tremendous object of the whole creation. 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 2I9 

Hast. Ha! ha! ha! At this rate, man, how can you ever expect to 
marry ? 

Mar. Never; unless, as among kings and princes, my bride were 
to be courted by proxy. If, indeed, like an Eastern bridegroom, one 
were to be introduced to a wife he never saw before, it might be 
endured. But to go through all the terrors of a formal courtship, 
together with the episode of aunts, grandmothers, and cousins, 
and at last to blurt out the broad staring question of, Madam, 
will you marry me? No, no, that's a strain much above me, I 
assure you. 

Hast. I pity you. But how do you intend behaving to the lady 
you are come down to visit at the request of your father? 

Mar. As I behave to all other ladies. Bow very low, answer yes or 
no to all her demands — But for the rest, I don't think I shall venture 
to look in her face till I see my father's again. 

Hast. I'm surprised that one who is so warm a friend can be so 
cool a lover. 

Mar. To be explicit, my dear Hastings, my chief inducement 
down was to be instrumental in forwarding your happiness, not my 
own. Miss Neville loves you, the family don't know you; as my 
friend you are sure of a reception, and let honour do the rest. 

Hast. My dear Marlow! But I'll suppress the emotion. Were I a 
wretch, meanly seeking to carry off a fortune, you should be the 
last man in the world I would apply to for assistance. But Miss 
Neville's person is all I ask, and that is mine, both from her deceased 
father's consent, and her own inclination. 

Mar. Happy man! You have talents and art to captivate any 
woman. I'm doom'd to adore the sex, and yet to converse with the 
only part of it I despise. This stammer in my address, and this awk- 
ward prepossessing visage of mine, can never permit me to soar above 
the reach of a milliner's 'prentice, or one of the duchesses of Drury- 
lane. Pshaw! this fellow here to interrupt us. 

Enter Hardcastle 

Hard. Gentlemen, once more you are heartily welcome. Which 
is Mr. Marlow? Sir, you are heartily welcome. It's not my way, you 
see, to receive my friends with my back to the fire. I like to give 



220 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

them a hearty reception in the old style at my gate. I like to see their 
horses and trunks taken care of. 

Mar. (Aside.) He has got our names from the servants already. 
(To him.) We approve your caution and hospitality, sir. (To 
Hastings.) I have been thinking, George, of changing our travelling 
dresses in the morning. I am grown confoundedly ashamed of mine. 

Hard. I beg, Mr. Marlow, you'll use no ceremony in this house. 

Hast. I fancy, George, you're right : the first blow is half the bat- 
tle. I intend opening the campaign with the white and gold. 

Hard. Mr. Marlow — Mr. Hastings — gentlemen — pray be under no 
constraint in this house. This is Liberty-hall, gentlemen. You may 
do just as you please here. 

Mar. Yet, George, if we open the campaign too fiercely at first, 
we may want ammunition before it is over. I think to reserve the 
embroidery to secure a retreat. 

Hard. Your talking of a retreat, Mr. Marlow, puts me in mind of 
the Duke of Marlborough, when we went to besiege Denain. He 
first summoned the garrison — 

Mar. Don't you think the ventre d'or waistcoat will do with the 
plain brown? 

Hard. He first summoned the garrison, which might consist of 
about five thousand men — 

Hast. I think not : brown and yellow mix but very poorly. 

Hard. I say, gentlemen, as I was telling you, he summoned the gar- 
rison, which might consist of about five thousand men — 

Mar. The girls like finery. 

Hard. Which might consist of about five thousand men, well 
appointed with stores, ammunition, and other implements of war. 
Now, says the Duke of Marlborough to George Brooks, that stood 
next to him — you must have heard of George Brooks — I'll pawn my 
dukedom, says he, but I take that garrison without spilling a drop 
of blood. So — 

Mar. What, my good friend, if you gave us a glass of punch in 
the mean time; it would help us to carry on the siege with vigour. 

Hard. Punch, sir! (Aside.) This is the most unaccountable kind 
of modesty I ever met with. 



SHE STCX)PS TO CONQUER 221 

Mar. Yes, sir, punch. A glass of warm punch, after our journey, 
will be comfortable. This is Liberty-hall, you know. 

Hard. Here's a cup, sir. 

Mar, {Aside.) So this fellow, in his Liberty-hall, will only let us 
have just what he pleases. 

Hard. (Talking the cup.) I hope you'll find it to your mind. I 
have prepared it with my own hands, and I believe you'll own the 
ingredients are tolerable. Will you be so good as to pledge me, sir? 
Here, Mr. Marlow, here is to our better acquaintance. {Drinf(^s. 

Mar. {Aside.) A very impudent fellow this! but he's a character, 
and I'll humour him a little. (To him.) Sir, my service to you. 

[Drinl{s. 

Hast. {Aside.) I see this fellow wants to give us his company, and 
forgets that he's an innkeeper, before he has learned to be a gentle- 
man. 

Mar. From the excellence of your cup, my old friend, I suppose 
you have a good deal of business in this part of the country. Warm 
work, now and then, at elections, I suppose. 

Hard. No, sir, I have long given that work over. Since our betters 
have hit upon the expedient of electing each other, there is no busi- 
ness "for us that sell ale." 

Hast. So, then, you have no turn for politics, I find. 

Hard. Not in the least. There was a time, indeed, I fretted my- 
self about the mistakes of government, like other people; but finding 
myself every day grow more angry, and the government growing no 
better, I left it to mend itself. Since that, I no more trouble my head 
about Hyder Ally, or Ally Cawn, than about Ally Croker. Sir, my 
service to you. 

Hast. So that with eating above stairs, and drinking below, with 
receiving your friends within, and amusing them without, you lead 
a good pleasant bustling life of it. 

Hard. I do stir about a great deal, that's certain. Half the differ- 
ences of the parish are adjusted in this very parlour. 

Mar. (After drinking.) And you have an argument in your cup, 
old gentleman, better than any in Westminster-hall. 

Hard. Ay, young gentleman, that, and a litde philosophy. 



222 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

Mar. {Aside.) Well, this is the first time I ever heard of an inn- 
keeper's philosophy. 

Hast, So then, like an experienced general, you attack them on 
every quarter. If you find their reason manageable, you attack it 
with your philosophy; if you find they have no reason, you attack 
them with this. Here's your health, my philosopher. \Drinl{s. 

Hard. Good, very good, thank you; ha! ha! Your generalship 
puts me in mind of Prince Eugene, when he fought the Turks at the 
batde of Belgrade. You shall hear. 

Mar. Instead of the battle of Belgrade, I beUeve it's almost time to 
talk about supper. What has your philosophy got in the house for 
supper? 

Harrf. For supper, sir! {Aside.) Was ever such a request to a man 
in his own house? 

Mar. Yes, sir, supper, sir; I begin to feel an appetite. I shall make 
devilish work to-night in the larder, I promise you. 

Hard. {Aside.) Such a brazen dog sure never my eyes beheld. 
{To him.) Why, really, sir, as for supper I can't well tell. My 
Dorothy and the cook-maid settle these things between them. I 
leave these kind of things entirely to them. 

Mar. You do, do you? 

Hard. Entirely. By the bye, I believe they are in actual consulta- 
tion upon what's for supper this moment in the kitchen. 

Mar. Then I beg they'll admit me as one of their privy council. 
It's a way I have got. When I travel, I always choose to regulate my 
own supper. Let the cook be called. No offence I hope, sir. 

Hard. O no, sir, none in the least; yet I don't know how; our 
Bridget, the cookmaid, is not very communicative upwn these oc- 
casions. Should we send for her, she might scold us all out of the 
house. 

Hast. Let's see your list of the larder then. I ask it as a favour. 
I always match my appetite to my bill of fare. 

Mar. {To Hardcastle, who loo/^s at them with surprise.) Sir, he's 
very right, and it's my way too. 

Hard. Sir, you have a right to command here. Here, Roger, bring 
us the bill of fare for to-night's supper: I believe it's drawn out — 
Your manner, Mr. Hastings, puts me in mind of my uncle, Colonel 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 223 

Wallop. It was a saying o£ his, that no man was sure of his supper 
till he had eaten it. 

Hast. {Aside.)M\ upon the high rope! His uncle a colonel! we 
shall soon hear of his mother being a justice of the peace. (To Mar- 
low.) But let's hear the bill of fare. 

Mar. {Perusing.) What's here.'' For the first course; for the 
second course; for the dessert. The devil, sir, do you think we have 
brought down a whole Joiners' Company, or the corporation of Bed- 
ford, to eat up such a supper ? Two or three little things, clean and 
comfortable, will do. 

Hast. But let's hear it. 

Mar. {Reading.) For the first course, at the top, a pig and prune 
sauce. 

Hast. Damn your pig, I say. 

Mar. And damn your prune sauce, say I. 

Hard. And yet, gentlemen, to men that are hungry, pig with prune 
sauce is very good eating. 

Mar. At the bottom, a calf's tongue and brains. 

Hast. Let your brains be knocked out, my good sir, I don't like 
them. 

Mar. Or you may clap them on a plate by themselves. I do. 

Hard. {Aside.) Their impudence confounds me. {To them.) 
Gentlemen, you are my guests, make what alterations you please. 
Is there anything else you wish to retrench or alter, gentlemen ? 

Mar. Item, a pork pie, a boiled rabbit and sausages, a Florentine, 
a shaking pudding, and a dish of tiff — taff — taflety cream. 

Hast, Confound your made dishes; I shall be as much at a loss in 
this house as at a green and yellow dinner at the French ambassa- 
dor's table. I'm for plain eating. 

Hard. I'm sorry, gentlemen, that I have nothing you like, but if 
there be anything you have a particular fancy to — 

Mar. Why, really, sir, your bill of fare is so exquisite, that any one 
part of it is full as good as another. Send us what you please. So 
much for supper. And now to see that our beds are aired, and 
properly taken care of. 

Hard. I entreat you'll leave that to me. You shall not stir a 
step. 



224 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

Mar. Leave that to you! I protest, sir, you must excuse me, I 
always look to these things myself. 

Hard. I must insist, sir, you'll make yourself easy on that 
head. 

Mar. You see I'm resolved on it (Aside.) A very troublesome 
fellow this, as I ever met with. 

Hard. Well, sir, I'm resolved at least to attend you. (Aside.) 
This may be modern modesty, but I never saw anything look 
so like old-fashioned impudence. 

[Exeunt Marlow and Hardcastle. 

Hast. (Alone.) So I find this fellow's civilities begin to grow 

troublesome. But who can be angry at those assiduities which are 

meant to please him? Ha! what do I see? Miss Neville, by all that's 

happy! 

Enter Miss Neville 

Miss Nev. My dear Hastings! To what unexpected good fortune, 
to what accident, am I to ascribe this happy meeting? 

Hast. Rather let me ask the same question, as I could never have 
hoped to meet my dearest Constance at an inn. 

Miss Nev. An inn! sure you mistake: my aunt, my guardian, hves 
here. What could induce you to think this house an inn? 

Hast. My friend, Mr. Marlow, with whom I came down, and I, 
have been sent here as to an inn, I assure you. A young fellow, whom 
we accidentally met at a house hard by, directed us hither. 

Miss Nev. Certainly it must be one of my hopeful cousin's tricks, 
of whom you have heard me talk so often; ha! ha! ha! 

Hast. He whom your aunt intends for you? he of whom I have 
such just apprehensions? 

Miss Nev. You have nothing to fear from him, I assure you. You'd 
adore him, if you knew how heartily he despises me. My aunt 
knows it too, and has undertaken to court me for him, and actually 
begins to think she has made a conquest. 

Hast. Thou dear dissembler! You must know, my Constance, I 
have just seized this happy opportunity of my friend's visit here to 
get admittance into the family. The horses that carried us down are 
now fatigued with their journey, but they'll soon be refreshed; and 
then, if my dearest girl will trust in her faithful Hastings, we shall 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 225 

soon be landed in France, where even among slaves the laws o£ 
marriage are respected. 

Miss Net/. I have often told you, that though ready to obey you, 
I yet should leave my little fortune behind with reluctance. The 
greatest part of it was left me by my uncle, the India director, and 
chiefly consists in jewels. I have been for some time persuading my 
aunt to let me wear them. I fancy I'm very near succeeding. The 
instant they are put into my possession, you shall find me ready to 
make them and myself yours. 

Hast. Perish the baubles! Your person is all I desire. In the mean 
time, my friend Marlow must not be let into his mistake. I know 
the strange reserve of his temper is such, that if abruptly informed 
of it, he would instantly quit the house before our plan was ripe 
for execution. 

Miss Nev. But how shall we keep him in the deception? Miss 
Hardcastle is just returned from walking; what if we still continue 
to deceive him? — ^This, this way — V^f'^y conjer. 

Enter Marlow 

Mar. The assiduities of these good people tease me beyond bearing. 
My host seems to think it ill manners to leave me alone, and so he 
claps not only himself, but his old-fashioned wife, on my back. They 
talk of coming to sup with us too; and then, I suppxjse, we are to run 
the gauntlet through all the rest of the family. — What have we got 
here ? 

Hast. My dear Charles! Let me congratulate you! — The most 
fortunate accident! — ^Who do you think is just alighted? 

Mar. Cannot guess. 

Hast. Our mistresses, boy. Miss Hardcastle and Miss Neville. Give 
me leave to introduce Miss Constance Neville to your acquaintance. 
Happening to dine in the neighbourhood, they called on their return 
to take fresh horses here. Miss Hardcastle has just stept into the 
next room, and will be back in an instant. Wasn't it lucky, eh! 

Mar. {Aside.) I have been mortified enough of all conscience, 
and here comes something to complete my embarrassment. 

Hast. Well, but wasn't it the most fortunate thing in the world? 

Mar. Oh! yes. Very fortunate — a most joyful encounter — But our 



226 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

dresses, George, you know, are in disorder — What if we should post- 
pone the happiness till to-morrow? — To-morrow at her own house 
— It will be every bit as convenient — and rather more respectful — 
To-morrow let it be. [Offering to go. 

Miss Nev. By no means, sir. Your ceremony will displease her. 
The disorder of your dress will show the ardour of your impatience. 
Besides, she knows you are in the house, and will permit you to 
see her. 

Mar. O! the devil! how shall I support it? Hem! hem! Hastings, 
you must not go. You are to assist me, you know. I shall be con- 
foundedly ridiculous. Yet, hang it! I'll take courage. Hem! 

Hast. Pshaw, man! it's but the first plunge, and all's over. She's 
but a woman, you know. 

Mar, And, of all women, she that I dread most to encounter. 

Enter Miss Hardcastle, as returned jrom walking, 
a bonnet, &c. 

Hast. {Introducing them.) Miss Hardcastle, Mr. Marlow. I'm 
proud of bringing two persons of such merit together, that only 
want to know, to esteem each other. 

Miss Hard. {Aside.) Now for meeting my modest gendeman 
with a demure face, and quite in his own manner. {After a pause, 
in which he appears very uneasy and disconcerted.) I'm glad of 
your safe arrival, sir. I'm told you had some accidents by the way. 

Mar. Only a few, madam. Yes, we had some. Yes, madam, a 
good many accidents, but should be sorry — madam — or rather glad 
of any accidents — that are so agreeably concluded. Hem! 

Hast. {To him.) You never spoke better in your whole life. Keep 
it up, and I'll insure you the victory. 

Miss Hard. I'm afraid you flatter, sir. You that have seen so 
much of the finest company, can find little entertainment in an 
obscure corner of the country. 

Mar. {Gathering courage.) I have lived, indeed, in the world, 
madam; but I have kept very little company. I have been but an 
observer uf)on life, madam, while others were enjoying it. 

Miss Nev. But that, I am told, is the way to enjoy it at last. 

Hast. {To him.) Cicero never spoke better. Once more, and you 
are confirmed in assurance for ever. 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 227 

Mar. (To him.) Hem! Stand by me, then, and when I'm down, 
throw in a word or two, to set me up again. 

Miss Hard. An observer, like you, upon life were, I fear, disagree- 
ably employed, since you must have had much more to censure than 
to approve. 

Mar. Pardon me, madam. I was always willing to be amused. 
The folly of most people is rather an object of mirth than uneasiness. 

Hast. (To him.) Bravo, bravo. Never spoke so well in your whole 
life. Well, Miss Hardcastle, I see that you and Mr. Marlow are going 
to be very good company. I believe our being here will but embarrass 
the interview. 

Mar. Not in the least, Mr. Hastings. We like your company of 
all things. (To him.) Zounds! George, sure you won't go, how can 
you leave us? 

Hast. Our presence will but spoil conversation, so we'll retire to 
the next room. (To him.) You don't consider, man, that we are to 
manage a little tete-i-tete of our own. [Exeunt. 

Miss Hard. (After a pause.) But you have not been wholly an 
observer, I presume, sir: the ladies, I should hope, have employed 
some part of your addresses. 

Mar. (Relapsing into timidity.) Pardon me, madam, I — I — I — as 
yet have studied — only — to — deserve them. 

Miss Hard. And that, some say, is the very worst way to obtain 
them. 

Mar. Perhaps so, madam. But I love to converse only with the 
more grave and sensible part of the sex. But I'm afraid I grow 
tiresome. 

Miss Hard. Not at all, sir; there is nothing I like so much as grave 
conversation myself; I could hear it for ever. Indeed, I have often 
been surprised how a man of sentiment could ever admire those 
light airy pleasures, where nothing reaches the heart. 

Mar. It's — a disease — of the mind, madam. In the variety of tastes 
there must be some who, wanting a relish — for — um — a — um. 

Miss Hard. I understand you, sir. There must be some, who, 
wanting a relish for refined pleasures, pretend to despise what they 
are incapable of tasting. 

Mar. My meaning, madam, but infinitely better expressed. And 
I can't help observing — a — 



228 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

Miss Hard. (Aside.) Who could ever suppose this fellow im- 
pudent upon some occasions? {To him.) You were going to observe, 
sir — 

Mar. I was observing, madam — I protest, madam, I forget what 
I was going to observe. 

Miss Hard. (Aside.) I vow and so do I. (To him.) You were 
observing, sir, that in this age of hypocrisy — something about hypoc- 
risy, sir. 

Mar. Yes, madam. In this age of hypocrisy there are few who 
upon strict inquiry do not — a — a — a — 

Miss Hard. I understand you perfectly, sir. 

Mar. (Aside.) Egad! and that's more than I do myself. 

Miss Hard. You mean that in this hypocritical age there are few 
that do not condemn in public what they practise in private, and 
think they pay every debt to virtue when they praise it. 

Mar. True, madam; those who have most virtue in their mouths, 
have least of it in their bosoms. But I'm sure I tire you, madam. 

Miss Hard. Not in the least, sir; there's something so agreeable 
and spirited in your manner, such life and force — pray, sir, go on. 

Mar, Yes, madam. I was saying — that there are some occasions, 
when a total want of courage, madam, destroys all the — and puts us 
— upon a — a — a — 

Miss Hard. I agree with you entirely; a want of courage upon 
some occasions assumes the appearance of ignorance, and betrays us 
when we most want to excel. I beg you'll proceed. 

Mar. Yes, madam. Morally speaking, madam — But I see Miss 
Neville expecting us in the next room, I would not intrude for the 
world. 

Miss Hard. I protest, sir, I never was more agreeably entertained 
in all my life. Pray go on. 

Mar. Yes, madam, I was — But she beckons us to join her. Madam, 
shall I do myself the honour to attend you.? 

Miss Hard. Well, then, I'll follow. 

Mar. (Aside.) This pretty smooth dialogue has done for me. 

[Exit. 

Miss Hard. (Alone.) Ha! ha! ha! Was there ever such a sober, 
sentimental interview? I'm certain he scarce looked in my face the 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 229 

whole time. Yet the fellow, but for his unaccountable bashfulness, 
is pretty well too. He has good sense, but then so buried in his fears, 
that it fatigues one more than ignorance. If I could teach him a little 
confidence, it would be doing somebody that I know of a piece of 
service. But who is that somebody .? — That, faith, is a question I can 
scarce answer. [Exit. 

Enter Tony and Miss Neville, followed by 
Mrs. Hardcastle and Hastings 

Tony. What do you follow me for, cousin Con? I wonder you're 
not ashamed to be so very engaging. 

Miss Nef. I hope, cousin, one may speak to one's own relations, 
and not be to blame. 

Tony. Ay, but I know what sort of a relation you want to make 
me, though; but it won't do. I tell you, cousin Con, it won't do; so 
I beg you'll keep your distance, I want no nearer relationship. 

[She follows, coquetting him to the bacl^ scene. 

Mrs. Hard. Well! I vow, Mr. Hastings, you are very entertaining. 
There's nothing in the world I love to talk of so much as London, 
and the fashions, though I was never there myself. 

Hast. N^ver there! You amaze me! From your air and manner, 
I concluded you had been bred all your life either at Ranelagh, St. 
James's, or Tower Wharf. 

Mrs, Hard. O! sir, you're only pleased to say so. We country per- 
sons can have no manner at all. I'm in love with the town, and that 
serves to raise me above some of our neighbouring rustics; but who 
can have a manner, that has never seen the Pantheon, the Grotto 
Gardens, the Borough, and such places where the nobiUty chiefly 
resort? All I can do is to enjoy London at second-hand. I take care 
to know every tete-d-tete from the Scandalous Magazine, and have 
all the fashions, as they come out, in a letter from the two Miss 
Rickets of Crooked Lane. Pray how do you like this head, Mr. 
Hastings ? 

Hast. Extremely elegant and degagee, upon my word, madam. 
Your friseur is a Frenchman, I suppose? 

Mrs. Hard. I protest, I dressed it myself from a print in the Ladies' 
Memorandum-book for the last year. 



230 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

Hast. Indeed! Such a head in a side box at the play-house would 
draw as many gazers as my Lady Mayoress at a City Ball. 

Mrs. Hard. I vow, since inoculation began, there is no such thing 
to be seen as a plain woman; so one must dress a little particular, or 
one may escape in the crowd. 

Hast. But that can never be your case, madam, in any dress. 
(^Bowing.) 

Mrs. Hard, Yet, what signifies my dressing when I have such a 
piece of antiquity by my side as Mr. Hardcastle: all I can say will 
never argue down a single button from his clothes. I have often 
wanted him to throw off his great flaxen wig, and where he was 
bald, to plaster it over, like my Lord Pately, with powder. 

Hast. You are right, madam; for, as among the ladies there are 
none ugly, so among the men there are none old. 

Mrs. Hard. But what do you think his answer was? Why, with 
his usual Gothic vivacity, he said I only wanted him to throw off 
his wig, to convert it into a tete for my own wearing. 

Hast. Intolerable! At your age you may wear what you please, 
and it must become you. 

Mrs. Hard. Pray, Mr. Hastings, what do you take to be the most 
fashionable age about town } 

Hast. Some time ago, forty was all the mode; but I'm told the 
ladies intend to bring up fifty for the ensuing winter. 

Mrs. Hard. Seriously. Then I shall be too young for the fashion. 

Hast. No lady begins now to put on jewels till she's past forty. 
For instance, Miss there, in a polite circle, would be considered as a 
child, as a mere maker of samplers. 

Mrs. Hard. And yet Mistress Niece thinks herself as much a 
woman, and is as fond of jewels, as the oldest of us all. 

Hast. Your niece, is she? And that young gentleman, a brother 
of yours, I should presume? 

Mrs. Hard. My son, sir. They are contracted to each other. Ob- 
serve their little sports. They fall in and out ten times a day, as if 
they were man and wife already. {To them.) Well, Tony, child, 
what soft things are you saying to your cousin Constance this 
evening? 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 23 1 

Tony. I have been saying no soft things; but that it's very hard 
to be followed about so. Ecod! I've not a place in the house now 
that's left to myself, but the stable. 

Mrs. Hard. Never mind him, Con, my dear. He's in another 
story behind your back. 

Miss Net/. There's something generous in my cousin's manner. 
He falls out before faces to be forgiven in private. 

Tony. That's a damned confounded — crack. 

Mrs. Hard. Ah! he's a sly one. Don't you think they are like 
each other about the mouth, Mr. Hastings? The Blenkinsop mouth 
to a T. They're of a size too. Back to back, my pretties, that Mr. 
Hastings may see you. Come, Tony. 

Tony. You had as good not make me, I tell you. (Measuring.) 

Miss Nev. O lud! he has almost cracked my head. 

Mrs. Hard. O, the monster! For shame, Tony. You a man, and 
behave so! 

Tony. If I'm a man, let me have my fortin. Ecod! I'll not be 
made a fool of no longer. 

Mrs. Hard. Is this, ungrateful boy, all that I'm to get for the pains 
I have taken in your education? I that have rocked you in your 
cradle, and fed that pretty mouth with a spoon! Did not I work 
that waistcoat to make you genteel? Did not I prescribe for you 
every day, and weep while the receipt was operating? 

Tony. Ecod! you had reason to weep, for you have been dosing 
me ever since I was born. I have gone through every receipt in the 
Complete Huswife ten times over; and you have thoughts of cours- 
ing me through Quincy next spring. But, ecod! I tell you, I'll not 
be made a fool of no longer. 

Mrs. Hard. Wasn't it all for your good, viper? Wasn't it all for 
your good? 

Tony. I wish you'd let me and my good alone, then. Snubbing 
this way when I'm in spirits. If I'm to have any good, let it come of 
itself; not to keep dinging it, dinging it into one so. 

Mrs. Hard. That's false; I never see you when you're in spirits. 
No, Tony, you then go to the alehouse or kennel. I'm never to be 
delighted with your agreeable wild notes, unfeeUng monster! 



232 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

Tony. EcodI mamma, your own notes are the wildest of the two. 
Mrs. Hard. Was ever the like? But I see he wants to break my 
heart, I see he does. 

Hast. Dear madam, permit me to lecture the young gentleman a 
little. I'm certain I can persuade him to his duty. 

Mrs. Hard. Well, I must retire. Come, Constance, my love. You 
see, Mr. Hastings, the wretchedness of my situation: was ever poor 
woman so plagued with a dear sweet, pretty, provoking, undutiful 
boy? [Exeunt Mrs. Hardcastle and Miss Neville. 

Tony. (Singing.) "There was a young man riding by, and fain 
would have his will. Rang do didlo dee." — Don't mind her. Let 
her cry. It's the comfort of her heart. I have seen her and sister cry 
over a book for an hour together; and they said they liked the book 
the better the more it made them cry. 

Hast. Then you're no friend to the ladies, I find, my pretty young 
gentleman ? 

Tony. That's as I find 'um. 

Hast. Not to her of your mother's choosing, I dare answer ? And 
yet she appears to me a pretty well-tempered girl. 

Tony. That's because you don't know her as well as I. Ecod! I 
know every inch about her; and there's not a more bitter cantan- 
kerous toad in all Christendom. 
Hast. (Aside.) Pretty encouragement this for a lover! 
Tony. I have seen her since the height of that. She has as many 
tricks as a hare in a thicket, or a colt the first day's breaking. 
Hast. To me she appears sensible and silent. 
Tony. Ay, before company. But when she's with her playmate, 
she's as loud as a hog in a gate. 
Hast. But there is a meek modesty about her that charms me. 
Tony. Yes, but curb her never so little, she kicks up, and you're 
flung in a ditch. 

Hast. Well, but you must allow her a litde beauty. — ^Yes, you 
must allow her some beauty. 

Tony. Bandbox! She's all a made-up thing, mun. Ah! could you 
but see Bet Bouncer of these parts, you might then talk of beauty. 
Ecod, she has two eyes as black as sloes, and cheeks as broad and 
red as a pulpit cushion. She'd make two of she. 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 233 

Hast. Well, what say you to a friend that would take this bitter 
bargain off your hands? 

Tony. Anon. 

Hast. Would you thank him that would take Miss Neville, and 
leave you to happiness and your dear Betsy? 

Tony. Ay; but where is there such a friend, for who would take 
her? 

Hast. I am he. If you but assist me, I'll engage to whip her off to 
France, and you shall never hear more of her. 

Tony. Assist you! Ecod I will, to the last drop of my blood. I'll 
clap a pair of horses to your chaise that shall trundle you off in a 
twinkling, and may be get you a part of her fortin beside, in jewels, 
that you little dream of. 

Hast. My dear 'squire, this looks like a lad of spirit. 

Tony. Come along, then, and you shall see more of my spirit 
before you have done with me. (Singing.) 

"We are the boys 
That fears no noise 
Where the thundering cannons roar." [Exeunt, 

ACT THE THIRD 
Scene — A Room in Hardcastle's House 

Enter Hardcastle, alone 

Hard. What could my old friend Sir Charles mean by recom- 
mending his son as the modestest young man in town ? To me he 
appears the most impudent piece of brass that ever spoke with a 
tongue. He has taken possession of the easy chair by the fire-side 
already. He took off his boots in the parlour, and desired me to see 
them taken care of. I'm desirous to know how his impudence affects 
my daughter. She will certainly be shocked at it. 

Enter Miss Hardcastle, plainly dressed 

Hard. Well, my Kate, I see you have changed your dress, as I 
bade you; and yet, I believe there was no great occasion. 
Miss Hard. I find such a pleasure, sir, in obeying your commands, 



234 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

that I take care to observe them without ever debating their pro- 
priety. 

Hard. And yet, Kate, I sometimes give you some cause, partic- 
ularly when I recommended my modest gentleman to you as a 
lover to-day. 

Miss Hard. You taught me to expect something extraordinary, 
and I find the original exceeds the description. 

Hard. I was never so surprised in my life! He has quite con- 
founded all my faculties! 

Miss Hard. I never saw anything like it: and a man of the world 
too! 

Hard. Ay, he learned it all abroad — what a fool was I, to think a 
young man could learn modesty by travelling. He might as soon 
learn wit at a masquerade. 

Miss Hard. It seems all natural to him. 

Hard. A good deal assisted by bad company and a French dancing- 
master. 

Miss Hard. Sure you mistake, papa! A French dancing-master 
could never have taught him that timid look — that awkward ad- 
dress — that bashful manner — 

Hard. Whose look? whose manner, child? 

Miss Hard. Mr. Marlow's: his mauvaise honte, his timidity, struck 
me at the first sight. 

Hard. Then your first sight deceived you; for I think him one 
of the most brazen first sights that ever astonished my senses. 

Miss Hard. Sure, sir, you rally! I never saw any one so modest. 

Hard. And can you be serious? I never saw such a bouncing, 
swaggering puppy since I was born. Bully Dawson was but a fool 
to him. 

Miss Hard. Surprising! He met me with a respectful bow, a 
stammering voice, and a look fixed on the ground. 

Hard. He met me with a loud voice, a lordly air, and a familiarity 
that made my blood freeze again. 

Miss Hard. He treated me with diffidence and respect; censured 
the manners of the age; admired the prudence of girls that never 
laughed; tired me with apologies for being tiresome; then left the 
room with a bow; and "Madam, I would not for the world detain 
you." 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 235 

Hard. He spoke to me as if he knew me all his life before; asked 
twenty questions, and never waited for an answer; interrupted my 
best remarks with some silly pun; and when I was in my best story 
of the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene, he asked if I had 
not a good hand at making punch. Yes, Kate, he asked your father 
if he was a maker of punch! 

Miss Hard. One of us must certainly be mistaken. 

Hard. If he be what he has shown himself, I'm determined he 
shall never have my consent. 

Miss Hard. And if he be the sullen thing I take him, he shall 
never have mine. 

Hard. In one thing then we are agreed — to reject him. 

Miss Hard. Yes; but upon conditions. For if you should find 
him less impudent, and I more presuming — if you find him more 
respectful, and I more importunate — I don't know — the fellow is 
well enough for a man — Certainly we don't meet many such at a 
horse-race in the country. 

Hard. If we should find him so — But that's impossible. The first 
appearance has done my business. I'm seldom deceived in that. 

Miss Hard. And yet there may be many good qualities under that 
first appearance. 

Hard. Ay, when a girl finds a fellow's outside to her taste, she 
then sets about guessing the rest of his furniture. With her, a smooth 
face stands for good sense, and a genteel figure for every virtue. 

Miss Hard. I hope, sir, a conversation begun with a compliment 
to my good sense, won't end with a sneer at my understanding? 

Hard. Pardon me, Kate. But if young Mr. Brazen can find the 
art of reconciling contradictions, he may please us both, perhaps. 

Miss Hard. And as one of us must be mistaken, what if we go 
to make further discoveries? 

Hard. Agreed. But depend on't I'm in the right. 

Miss Hard. And depend on't I'm not much in the wrong. 

[Exeunt. 

Enter Tony, running in with a casl^et 

Tony. Ecod! I have got them. Here they are. My cousin Con's 
necklaces; bobs and all. My mother sha'n't cheat the poor souls out 
of their fortin neither. O! my genus, is that you? 



236 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

Enter Hastings 

Hast. My dear friend, how have you managed with your mother? 
I hope you have amused her with pretending love for your cousin, 
and that you are willing to be reconciled at last? Our horses will 
be refreshed in a short time, and we shall soon be ready to set off. 

Tony. And here's something to bear your charges by the way 
{giving the casl^et) ; your sweetheart's jewels. Keep them: and hang 
those, I say, that would rob you of one of them. 

Hast. But how have you procured them from your mother? 

Tony. Ask me no questions, and I'll tell you no fibs. I procured 
them by the rule of thumb. If I had not a key to every drawer in 
mother's bureau, how could I go to the alehouse so often as I do? 
An honest man may rob himself of his own at any time. 

Hast. Thousands do it every day. But to be plain with you; Miss 
Neville is endeavouring to procure them from her aunt this very 
instant. If she succeeds, it will be the most delicate way at least of 
obtaining them. 

Tony. Well, keep them till you know how it will be. But I know 
how it will be well enough; she'd as soon part with the only sound 
tooth in her head. 

Hast. But I dread the effects of her resentment, when she finds 
she has lost them. 

Tony. Never you mind her resentment, leave me to manage that. 
I don't value her resentment the bounce of a cracker. Zounds! here 
they are. Morrice! Prance! [Exit Hastings. 

Enter Mrs. Hardcastle and Miss Neville 

Mrs. Hard. Indeed, Constance, you amaze me. Such a girl as you 
want jewels! It will be time enough for jewels, my dear, twenty 
years hence, when your beauty begins to want repairs. 

Miss Nev. But what will repair beauty at forty, will certainly 
improve it at twenty, madam. 

Mrs. Hard. Yours, my dear, can admit of none. That natural 
blush is beyond a thousand ornaments. Besides, child, jewels are 
quite out at present. Don't you see half the ladies of our acquaint- 
ance, my Lady Kill-daylight and Mrs. Crump, and the rest of them, 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER lyj 

carry their jewels to town, and bring nothing but paste and mar- 
casites back. 

Miss Nev. But who knows, madam, but somebody that shall be 
nameless would like me best with all my litde finery about me? 

Mrs. Hard. Consult your glasses, my dear, and then see if, with 
such a pair of eyes, you want any better sparklers. What do you 
think, Tony, my dear? does your cousin Con want any jewels in 
your eyes to set off her beauty? 

Toriy. That's as thereafter may be. 

Miss Nev. My dear aunt, if you knew how it would oblige me. 

Mrs. Hard. A parcel of old-fashioned rose and table-cut things. 
They would make you look like the court of King Solomon at a 
puppet-show. Besides, I believe, I can't readily come at them. They 
may be missing, for aught I know to the contrary. 

Tony. (Apart to Mrs. Hardcastle.) Then why don't you tell her 
so at once, as she's so longing for them? Tell her they're lost. It's 
the only way to quiet her. Say they're lost, and call me to bear 
witness. 

Mrs. Hard. (Apart to Tony.) You know, my dear, I'm only 
keeping them for you. So if I say they're gone, you'll bear me wit- 
ness, will you? He! he! he! 

Tony. Never fear me. Ecod! I'll say I saw them taken out with 
my own eyes. 

Miss Nev. I desire them but for a day, madam. Just to be per- 
mitted to show them as relics, and then they may be locked up again. 

Mrs. Hard. To be plain with you, my dear Constance, if I could 
find them you should have them. They're missing, I assure you. 
Lost, for aught I know; but we must have patience wherever they 
are. 

Miss Nev. I'll not believe it! this is but a shallow pretence to deny 
me. I know they are too valuable to be so slightly kept, and as you 
are to answer for the loss — 

Mrs. Hard. Don't be alarmed, Constance. If they be lost, I must 
restore an equivalent. But my son knows they are missing, and not 
to be found. 

Tony. That I can bear witness to. They are missing, and not to 
be found; I'll take my oath on't. 



238 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

Mrs. Hard. You must learn resignation, my dear; for though we 
lose our fortune, yet we should not lose our patience. See me, how 
calm I am. 

Miss Nev. Ay, people are generally calm at the misfortunes of 
others. 

Mrs. Hard. Now I wonder a girl of your good sense should waste 
a thought upon such trumpery. We shall soon find them; and in 
the mean time you shall make use of my garnets till your jewels be 
found. 

Miss Net^. I detest garnets. 

Mrs. Hard. The most becoming things in the world to set off a 
clear complexion. You have often seen how well they look upon me. 
You shall have them. [Exit. 

Miss Nef. I dislike them of all things. You sha'n't stir. — Was 
ever anything so provoking, to mislay my own jewels and force me 
to wear her trumpery? 

Tony. Don't be a fool. If she gives you the garnets, take what 
you can get. The jewels are your own already. I have stolen them 
out of her bureau, and she does not know it. Fly to your spark, he'll 
tell you more of the matter. Leave me to manage her. 

Miss Nei>. My dear cousin! 

Tony. Vanish. She's here, and has missed them already. \Exit 
Miss Neville.] Zounds! how she fidgets and spits about like a 
Catherine wheel. 

Enter Mrs. Hardcastle 

Mrs. Hard. Confusion! thieves! robbers! we are cheated, plun- 
dered, broke open, undone. 

Tony. What's the matter, what's the matter, mamma? I hope 
nothing has happened to any of the good family! 

Mrs. Hard. We are robbed. My bureau has been broken open, 
the jewels taken out, and I'm undone. 

Tony. Oh! is that all? Ha! ha! ha! By the laws, I never saw it 
acted better in my life. Ecod, I thought you was ruined in earnest, 
ha! ha! ha! 

Mrs. Hard. Why, boy, I am ruined in earnest. My bureau has 
been broken open, and all taken away. 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 239 

Tony, Stick to that: ha! ha! ha! stick to that. I'll bear witness, 
you know; call me to bear witness. 

Mrs. Hard. I tell you, Tony, by all that's precious, the jewels are 
gone, and I shall be ruined for ever. 

Tony. Sure I know they are gone, and I'm to say so. 

Mrs. Hard. My dearest Tony, but hear me. They're gone, I say. 

Tony. By the laws, mamma, you make me for to laugh, ha! ha! 
I know who took them well enough, ha! ha! ha! 

Mrs. Hard. Was there ever such a blockhead, that can't tell the 
difference between jest and earnest? I tell you I'm not in jest, booby. 

Tony. That's right, that's right; you must be in a bitter passion, 
and then nobody will suspect either of us. I'll bear witness that they 
are gone. 

Mrs. Hard. Was there ever such a cross-grained brute, that won't 
hear me? Can you bear witness that you're no better than a fool? 
Was ever poor woman so beset with fools on one hand, and thieves 
on the other ? 

Tony. I can bear witness to that. 

Mrs. Hard. Bear witness again, you blockhead you, and I'll turn 
you out of the room directly. My poor niece, what will become of 
her? Do you laugh, you unfeeling brute, as if you enjoyed my 
distress? 

Tony. I can bear witness to that. 

Mrs. Hard. Do you insult me, monster? I'll teach you to vex 
your mother, I will. 

Tony. I can bear witness to that. [He runs off, she follows him. 

Enter Miss Hardcastle and Maid 

Miss Hard. What an unaccountable creature is that brother of 
mine, to send them to the house as an inn! ha! ha! I don't wonder 
at his impudence. 

Maid. But what is more, madam, the young gentleman, as you 
passed by in your present dress, asked me if you were the bar-maid. 
He mistook you for the bar-maid, madam. 

Miss Hard. Did he ? Then as I live, I'm resolved to keep up the 
delusion. Tell me, Pimple, how do you like my present dress? Don't 
you think I look something like Cherry in the Beaux Stratagem? 



240 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

Maid. It's the dress, madam, that every lady wears in the country, 
but when she visits or receives company. 

Miss Hard. And are you sure he does not remember my face or 
person ? 

Maid. Certain of it. 

Miss Hard. I vow, I thought so; for, though we spoke for some 
time together, yet his fears were such, that he never once looked up 
during the interview. Indeed, if he had, my bonnet would have 
kept him from seeing me. 

Maid. But what do you hope from keeping him in his mis- 
take ? 

Miss Hard. In the first place, I shall be seen, and that is no small 
advantage to a girl who brings her face to market. Then I shall 
perhaps make an acquaintance, and that's no small victory gained 
over one who never addresses any but the wildest of her sex. But 
my chief aim is, to take my gentleman off his guard, and, like an 
invisible champion of romance, examine the giant's force before I 
offer to combat. 

Maid. But are you sure you can act your part, and disguise your 
voice so that he may mistake that, as he has already mistaken your 
person ? 

Miss Hard. Never fear me. I think I have got the true bar cant — 
Did your honour call? — Attend the Lion there — Pipes and tobacco 
for the Angel. — The Lamb has been outrageous this half hour. 

Maid. It will do, madam. But he's here. [Exit Maid. 

Enter Marlow 

Mar. What a bawling in every part of the house! I have scarce a 
moment's repose. If I go to the best room, there I find my host and 
his story: if I fly to the gallery, there we have my hostess with her 
curtsey down to the ground. I have at last got a moment to myself, 
and now for recollection. [ Wal/(s and muses. 

Miss Hard. Did you call, sir? Did your honour call? 

Mar. (Musing.) As for Miss Hardcastle, she's too grave and 
sentimental for me. 

Miss Hard. Did your honour call ? {She still places herself before 
him, he turning away.) 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 24 1 

Mar. No, child. (Musing.) Besides, from the glimpse I had of 
her, I think she squints. 

Miss Hard. I'm sure, sir, I heard the bell ring. 

Mar. No, no. (Musing.) I have pleased my father, however, by 
coming down, and I'll to-morrow please myself by returning. 

( Taking out his tablets, and perusing. 

Miss Hard. Perhaps the other gentleman called, sir? 

Mar. I tell you, no. 

Miss Hard. I should be glad to know, sir. We have such a parcel 
of servants. 

Mar. No, no, I tell you. (LooI{^s full in her face.) Yes, child, I 
think I did call. I wanted — I wanted — I vow, child, you are vastly 
handsome. 

Miss Hard. O la, sir, you'll make one ashamed. 

Mar. Never saw a more sprightly malicious eye. Yes, yes, my 
dear, I did call. Have you got any of your — a — what d'ye call it in 
the house? 

Miss Hard. No, sir, we have been out of that these ten days. 

Mar. One may call in this house, I find, to very little purpose. 
Suppose I should call for a taste, just by way of a trial, of the nectar 
of your lips; perhaps I might be disappointed in that too. 

Miss Hard. Nectar! nectar! That's a liquor there's no call for in 
these parts. French, I suppose. We sell no French wines here, sir. 

Mar. Of true English growth, I assure you. 

Miss Hard. Then it's odd I should not know it. We brew all 
sorts of wines in this house, and I have lived here these eighteen 
years. 

Mar. Eighteen years! Why, one would think, child, you kept 
the bar before you were born. How old are you? 

Miss Hard. O! sir, I must not tell my age. They say women and 
music should never be dated. 

Mar. To guess at this distance, you can't be much above forty 
(approaching). Yet, nearer, I don't think so much (approaching). 
By coming close to some women they look younger still: but when 
we come very close indeed — (attempting to kjss her). 

Miss Hard. Pray, sir, keep your distance. One would think you 
wanted to know one's age, as they do horses, by mark of mouth. 



242 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

Mar. I protest, child, you use me extremely ill. If you keep me 
at this distance, how is it possible you and I can ever be acquainted? 

Miss Hard. And who wants to be acquainted with you ? I want 
no such acquaintance, not I. I'm sure you did not treat Miss Hard- 
castle, that was here awhile ago, in this obstropalous manner. I'll 
warrant me, before her you looked dashed, and kept bowing to the 
ground, and talked, for all the world, as if you was before a justice 
of peace. 

Mar. (Aside.) Egad, she has hit it, sure enough! (To her.) In 
awe of her, child? Ha! ha! ha! A mere awkward squinting thing; 
no, no. I find you don't know me. I laughed and rallied her a little; 
but I was unwilling to be too severe. No, I could not be too severe, 
curse me! 

Miss Hard. O! then, sir, you are a favourite, I find, among the 
ladies ? 

Mar. Yes, my dear, a great favourite. And yet hang me, I don't 
see what they find in me to follow. At the Ladies' Club in town 
I'm called their agreeable Rattle. Rattle, child, is not my real name, 
but one I'm known by. My name is Solomons; Mr. Solomons, my 
dear, at your service. (Offering to salute her.) 

Miss Hard. Hold, sir; you are introducing me to your club, not 
to yourself. And you're so great a favourite there, you say ? 

Mar. Yes, my dear. There's Mrs. Mantrap, Lady Betty Blackleg, 
the countess of Sligo, Mrs. Langhorns, old Miss Biddy Buckskin, 
and your humble servant, keep up the spirit of the place. 

Miss Hard. Then it's a very merry place, I suppose ? 

Mar. Yes, as merry as cards, supper, wine, and old women can 
make us. 

Miss Hard. And their agreeable Rattle, ha! ha! ha! 

Mar. (Aside.) Egad! I don't quite like this chit. She looks know- 
ing, methinks. You laugh, child? 

Miss Hard. I can't but laugh, to think what time they all have 
for minding their work or their family. 

Mar. (Aside.) All's well; she don't laugh at me. (To her.) Do 
you ever work, child? 

Miss Hard. Ay, sure. There's not a screen or quilt in the whole 
house but what can bear witness to that. 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 243 

Mar. Odso! then you must show me your embroidery, I embroider 
and draw patterns myself a httle. If you want a judge of your work, 
you must apply to me. {Seizing her hand.) 

Miss Hard. Ay, but the colours do not look well by candlelight. 
You shall see all in the morning. (Struggling.) 

Mar. And why not now, my angel ? Such beauty fires beyond the 
power of resistance. — Pshaw! the father here! My old luck: I never 
nicked seven that I did not throw ames ace three times following. 

[Exit Marlow. 

Enter Hardcastle, who stands in surprise 

Hard. So, madam. So, I find this is your modest lover. This is 
your humble admirer, that kept his eyes fixed on the ground, and 
only adored at humble distance. Kate, Kate, art thou not ashamed 
to deceive your father so? 

Miss Hard. Never trust me, dear papa, but he's still the modest 
man I first took him for: you'll be convinced of it as well as I. 

Hard. By the hand of my body, I believe his impudence is in- 
fectious! Didn't I see him seize your hand? Didn't I see him haul 
you about Uke a milkmaid? And now you talk of his respect and 
his modesty, forsooth! 

Miss Hard. But if I shortly convince you of his modesty, that he 
has only the faults that will pass off with time, and the virtues that 
will improve with age, I hope you'll forgive him. 

Hard. The girl would actually make one run mad! I tell you, 
I'll not be convinced. I am convinced. He has scarce been three 
hours in the house, and he has already encroached on all my pre- 
rogatives. You may like his impudence, and call it modesty, but 
my son-in-law, madam, must have very different qualifications. 

Miss Hard. Sir, I ask but this night to convince you. 

Hard. You shall not have half the time, for I have thoughts of 
turning him out this very hour. 

Miss Hard. Give me that hour then, and I hope to satisfy 
you. 

Hard. Well, an hour let it be then. But I'll have no trifling with 
your father. All fair and open, do you mind me? 

Miss Hard. I hope, sir, you have ever found that I considered your 



244 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

commands as my pride; for your kindness is such, that my duty as 
yet has been inclination. [Exeunt, 

ACT THE FOURTH 

Scene — A Room in Hardcastle's House 

Enter Hastings and Miss Neville 

Hast. You surprise me; Sir Charles Marlow expected here this 
night! Where have you had your information? 

Miss Nev. You may depend up)on it. I just saw his letter to Mr. 
Hardcastle, in which he tells him he intends setting out a few hours 
after his son. 

Hast. Then, my Constance, all must be completed before he ar- 
rives. He knows me; and should he find me here, would discover 
my name, and perhaps my designs, to the rest of the family. 

Miss Nev. The jewels, I hope, are safe? 

Hast. Yes, yes, I have sent them to Marlow, who keeps the keys 
of our baggage. In the mean time, I'll go to prepare matters for 
our elopement. I have had the 'squire's promise of a fresh pair of 
horses; and if I should not see him again, will write him further 
directions. [Exit. 

Miss Nev. Well! success attend you. In the mean time I'll go and 
amuse my aunt with the old pretence of a violent passion for my 
cousin. [Exit. 

Enter Marlow, followed by a Servant 

Mar. I wonder what Hastings could mean by sending me so 
valuable a thing as a casket to keep for him, when he knows the 
only place I have is the seat of a post-coach at an inn-door. Have you 
deposited the casket with the landlady, as I ordered you ? Have you 
put it into her own hands? 

Ser. Yes, your honour. 

Mar. She said she'd keep it safe, did she? 

Ser. Yes, she said she'd keep it safe enough; she asked me how I 
came by it: and she said she had a great mind to make me give an 
account of myself. [Exit Servant. 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 245 

Mar. Ha! ha! ha! They're safe, however. What an unaccountable 
set of beings have we got amongst! This little bar-maid though 
runs in my head most strangely, and drives out the absurdities of 
all the rest of the family. She's mine, she must be mine, or I'm 
greatly mistaken. 

Enter Hastings 

Hast. Bless me! I quite forgot to tell her that I intended to pre- 
pare at the bottom of the garden. Marlow here, and in spirits too! 

Mar. Give me joy, George. Crown me, shadow me with laurels! 
Well, George, after all, we modest fellows don't want for success 
among the women. 

Hast. Some women, you mean. But what success has your honour's 
modesty been crowned with now, that it grows so insolent upon us? 

Mar. Didn't you see the tempting, brisk, lovely little thing, that 
runs about the house with a bunch of keys to its girdle? 

Hast. Well, and what then? 

Mar. She's mine, you rogue you. Such fire, such motion, such 
eyes, such lips, but, egad! she would not let me kiss them though. 

Hast. But are you so sure, so very sure of her? 

Mar. Why, man, she talked of showing me her work above stairs, 
and I am to improve the pattern. 

Hast. But how can you, Charles, go about to rob a woman of her 
honour ? 

Mar. Pshaw! pshaw! We all know the honour of the bar-maid 
of an inn. I don't intend to rob her, take my word for it; there's 
nothing in this house I shan't honestly pay for. 

Hast. I believe the girl has virtue. 

Mar. And if she has, I should be the last man in the world that 
would attempt to corrupt it. 

Hast. You have taken care, I hope, of the casket I sent you to 
lock up? Is it in safety? 

Mar. Yes, yes. It's safe enough. I have taken care of it. But how 
could you think the seat of a post<oach at an inn-door a place of 
safety? Ah! numskull! I have taken better precautions for you 
than you did for yourself — I have — 

Hast. What? 



246 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

Mar. I have sent it to the landlady to keep for you. 

Hast. To the landlady! 

Mar. The landlady. 

Hast. You did? 

Mar. I did. She's to be answerable for its forthcoming, you know. 

Hast. Yes, she'll bring it forth with a witness. 

Mar. Wasn't I right ? I believe you'll allow that I acted prudently 
upon this occasion. 

Hast. (^Aside.) He must not see my uneasiness. 

Mar. You seem a little disconcerted though, methinks. Sure 
nothing has happened? 

Hast. No, nothing. Never was in better spirits in all my Ufe. 
And so you left it with the landlady, who, no doubt, very readily 
imdertook the charge. 

Mar. Rather too readily. For she not only kept the casket, but, 
through her great precaution, was going to keep the messenger too. 
Ha! ha! ha! 

Hast. He! he! he! They're safe, however. 

Mar. As a guinea in a miser's purse. 

Hast. {Aside.) So now all hopes of fortune are at an end, and we 
must set off without it. {To him.) Well, Charles, I'll leave you to 
your meditations on the pretty bar-maid, and, he! he! he! may you 
be as successful for yourself, as you have been for me! [£x»V. 

Mar. Thank ye, George: I ask no more. Ha! ha! ha! 

Enter Hardcastle 

Hard. I no longer know my own house. It's all topsy-turvy. 
His servants have got drunk already. I'll bear it no longer; and yet, 
from my respect for his father, I'll be calm. {To him.) Mr. Marlow, 
your servant. I'm your very humble servant. {Bowing low.) 

Mar. Sir, your humble servant. {Aside.) What's to be the wonder 



nowr 



? 



Hard. I believe, sir, you must be sensible, sir, that no man alive 
ought to be more welcome than your father's son, sir. I hope you 
think so? 

Mar. I do from my soul, sir. I don't want much entreaty. I gen- 
erally make my father's son welcome wherever he goes. 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 247 

Hard. I believe you do, from my soul, sir. But though I say 
nothing to your own conduct, that of your servants is insufferable. 
Their manner of drinking is setting a very bad example in this 
house, I assure you. 

Mar. I protest, my very good sir, that is no fault of mine. If they 
don't drink as they ought, they are to blame. I ordered them not 
to spare the cellar. I did, I assure you. {To the side scene.) Here, 
let one of my servants come up. {To him.) My positive directions 
were, that as I did not drink myself, they should make up for my 
deficiencies below. 

Hard. Then they had your orders for what they do? I'm satisfied! 

Mar. They had, I assure you. You shall hear from one of them- 
selves. 

Enter Servant, drunl{ 

War. You, Jeremy! Come forward, sirrah! What were my orders .' 
Were you not told to drink freely, and call for what you thought 
fit, for the good of the house? 

Hard. {Aside.) I begin to lose my patience. 

Jer. Please your honour, liberty and Fleet-street for ever! Though 
I'm but a servant, I'm as good as another man. I'll drink for no 
man before supper, sir, damme! Good hquor will sit upon a good 
supper, but a good supper will not sit upon — hiccup — on my con- 
science, sir. 

Mar. You see, my old friend, the fellow is as drunk as he can 
possibly be. I don't know what you'd have more, unless you'd have 
the poor devil soused in a beer-barrel. 

Hard. Zounds! he'll drive me distracted, if I contain myself any 
longer. Mr. Marlow — Sir; I have submitted to your insolence for 
more than four hours, and I see no likelihood of its coming to an 
end. I'm now resolved to be master here, sir; and I desire that you 
and your drunken pack may leave my house directly. 

Mar. Leave your house! — Sure you jest, my good friend! What? 
when I'm doing what I can to please you. 

Hard. I tell you, sir, you don't please me; so I desire you'll leave 
my house. 

Mar. Sure you cannot be serious ? At this time o' night, and such 
a night? You only mean to banter me. 



248 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

Hard. I tell you, sir, I'm serious! and now that my passions are 
roused, I say this house is mine, sir; this house is mine, and I com- 
mand you to leave it directly. 

Mar. Ha! ha! ha! A puddle in a storm. I shan't stir a step, sir, I 
assure you. (/« a serious tone.) This your house, fellow! It's my 
house. This is my house. Mine, while I choose to stay. What right 
have you to bid me leave this house, sir? I never met with such 
impudence, curse me; never in my whole life before. 

Hard. Nor I, confound me if ever I did. To come to my house, 
to call for what he Ukes, to turn me out of my own chair, to insult 
the family, to order his servants to get drunk, and then to tell me, 
"This house is mine, sir." By all that's impudent, it makes me laugh. 
Ha! ha! ha! Pray, sir (^bantering), as you take the house, what think 
you of taking the rest of the furniture? There's a pair of silver 
candlesticks, and there's a fire-screen, and here's a pair of brazen- 
nozed bellows; perhaps you may take a fancy to them? 

Mar. Bring me your bill, sir; bring me your bill, and let's make 
no more words about it. 

Hard. There are a set of prints, too. What think you of the Rake's 
Progress, for your own apartment ? 

Mar. Bring me your bill, I say; and I'll leave you and your in- 
fernal house directly. 

Hard. Then there's a mahogany table that you may see your own 
face in. 

Mar. My bill, I say. 

Hard. I had forgot the great chair for your own particular slum- 
bers, after a hearty meal. 

Mar. Zounds! bring me my bill, I say, and let's hear no more on't. 

Hard. Young man, young man, from your father's letter to me, 
I was taught to expect a well-bred modest man as a visitor here, but 
now I find him no better than a coxcomb and a bully; but he will 
be down here presently, and shall hear more of it. [ Exit. 

Mar. How's this? Sure I have not mistaken the house. Every- 
thing looks like an inn. The servants cry, coming; the attendance 
is awkward; the bar-maid, too, to attend us. But she's here, and 
will further inform me. Whither so fast, child ? A word with you. 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 249 

Enter Miss Hardcastle 

Miss Hard. Let it be short, then. I'm in a hurry. (Aside.) I beHeve 
he begins to find out his mistake. But it's too soon quite to unde- 
ceive him. 

Mar. Pray, child, answer me one question. What are you, and 
what may your business in this house be? 

Miss Hard. A relation of the family, sir. 

Mar. What, a poor relation? 

Miss Hard. Yes, sir. A poor relation, appointed to keep the keys, 
and to see that the guests want nothing in my power to give 
them. 

Mar. That is, you act as the bar-maid of this inn. 

Miss Hard. Inn! O law — what brought that in your head? One 
of the best families in the country keep an inn — Ha! ha! ha! old 
Mr. Hardcastle's house an inn! 

Mar. Mr. Hardcastle's house! Is this Mr. Hardcastle's house, 
child? 

Miss Hard. Ay, sure! Whose else should it be? 

Mar. So then, all's out, and I have been damnably imposed on. 
O, confound my stupid head, I shall be laughed at over the whole 
town. I shall be stuck up in caricatura in all the print-shops. The 
Dullissimo Maccaroni. To mistake this house of all others for an 
inn, and my father's old friend for an innkeeper! What a swagger- 
ing puppy must he take me for! What a silly puppy do I find myself! 
There again, may I be hanged, my dear, but I mistook you for the 
bar-maid. 

Miss Hard. Dear me! dear me! I'm sure there's nothing in my 
behaviour to put me on a level with one of that stamp. 

Mar. Nothing, my dear, nothing. But I was in for a list of blun- 
ders, and could not help making you a subscriber. My stupidity 
saw everything the wrong way. I mistook your assiduity for assur- 
ance, and your simplicity for allurement. But it's over. This house 
I no more show my face in. 

Miss Hard. I hop)e, sir, I have done nothing to disoblige you. I'm 
sure I should be sorry to affront any gentleman who has been so 



250 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

polite, and said so many civil things to me. I'm sure I should be 
sorry {pretending to cry) if he left the family upon my account. I'm 
sure I should be sorry if people said anything amiss, since I have no 
fortune but my character. 

Mar. {Aside.) By Heaven! she weeps. This is the first mark of 
tenderness I ever had from a modest woman, and it touches me. (To 
her.) Excuse me, my lovely girl; you are the only part of the family 
I leave with reluctance. But to be plain with you, the difference of 
our birth, fortune, and education, makes an honourable connexion 
impossible; and I can never harbour a thought of seducing simplicity 
that trusted in my honour, of bringing ruin upon one whose only 
fault was being too lovely. 

Miss Hard. {Aside.) Generous man! I now begin to admire him. 
{To him.) But I am sure my family is as good as Miss Hardcastle's; 
and though I'm poor, that's no great misfortune to a contented mind; 
and, until this moment, I never thought that it was bad to want a 
fortune. 

Mar. And why now, my pretty simplicity? 

Miss Hard. Because it puts me at a distance from one that, if I 
had a thousand pounds, I would give it all to. 

Mar. {Aside.) This simplicity bewitches me so, that if I stay, I'm 
undone. I must make one bold effort, and leave her. {To her.) 
Your partiality in my favour, my dear, touches me most sensibly: 
and were I to live for myself alone, I could easily fix my choice. But 
1 owe too much to the opinion of the world, too much to the au- 
thority of a father; so that — I can scarcely speak it — it affects me. 
Farewell. [Exit. 

Miss Hard. I never knew half his merit till now. He shall not go, 
if I have power or art to detain him. I'll still preserve the character 
in which I stooped to conquer; but will undeceive my papa, who 
perhaps may laugh him out of his resolution. [Exit. 

Enter Tony and Miss Neville 

Tony. Ay, you may steal for yourselves the next time. I have done 
my duty. She has got the jewels again, that's a sure thing; but she 
believes it was all a mistake of the servants. 

Miss Net/. But, my dear cousin, sure you won't forsake us in this 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 25 1 

distress? If she in the least suspects that I'm going off, I shall cer- 
tainly be locked up, or sent to my aunt Pedigree's, which is ten times 
worse. 

Tony. To be sure, aunts of all kinds are damned bad things. But 
what can I do? I have got you a pair of horses that will fly like 
Whistle-jacket; and I'm sure you can't say but I have courted you 
nicely before her face. Here she comes, we must court a bit or two 
more, for fear she should suspect us. 

[ They retire, and seem to fondle. 

Enter Mrs. Hardcastle 

Mrs. Hard. Well, I was greatly fluttered, to be sure. But my son 
tells me it was all a mistake of the servants. I shan't be easy, how- 
ever, till they are fairly married, and then let her keep her own 
fortune. But what do I see? Fondling together, as I'm alive. I 
never saw Tony so sprightly before. Ah I have I caught you, my 
pretty doves? What, billing, exchanging stolen glances and broken 
murmurs? Ah! 

Tony. As for murmurs, mother, we grumble a little now and 
then, to be sure. But there's no love lost between us. 

Mrs. Hard. A mere sprinkling, Tony, upon the flame, only to 
make it burn brighter. 

Miss Nev, Cousin Tony promises to give us more of his company 
at home. Indeed, he shan't leave us any more. It won't leave us, 
cousin Tony, will it? 

Tony. O! it's a pretty creature. No, I'd sooner leave my horse in 
a pound, than leave you when you smile upon one so. Your laugh 
makes you so becoming. 

Miss Nev. Agreeable cousin! Who can help admiring that natural 
humour, that pleasant, broad, red, thoughtless {patting his cheeky — 
ah! it's a bold face. 

Mrs. Hard. Pretty innocence! 

Tony. I'm sure I always loved cousin Con's hazel eyes, and her 
pretty long fingers, that she twists this way and that over the 
haspicholls, like a parcel of bobbins. 

Mrs. Hard. Ah! he would charm the bird from the tree. I was 
never so happy before. My boy takes after his father, poor Mr. 



252 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

Lumpkin, exactly. The jewels, my dear Con, shall be yours in- 
continently. You shall have them. Isn't he a sweet boy, my dear? 
You shall be married to-morrow, and we'll put off the rest of his 
education, like Dr. Drowsy's sermons, to a fitter opportunity. 

Enter Digcory 

Dig. Where's the 'squire? I have got a letter for your worship. 

Tony. Give it to my mamma. She reads all my letters first. 

Dig. I had orders to deliver it into your own hands. 

Tony. Who does it come from? 

Dig. Your worship mun ask that o' the letter itself. 

Tony. I could wish to know though (turning the letter, and 
gazing on it). 

Miss Nev. {Aside.) Undone! undone! A letter to him from 
Hastings. I know the hand. If my aunt sees it, we are ruined for 
ever. I'll keep her employed a little if I can. {To Mrs. Hardcastle.) 
But I have not told you, madam, of my cousin's smart answer just 
now to Mr. Marlow. We so laughed. — You must know, madam. — 
This way a little, for he must not hear us. {"^^^y conjer. 

Tony. {Still gazing.) A damned cramp piece of penmanship, as 
ever I saw in my life. I can read your print hand very well. But 
here are such handles, and shanks, and dashes, that one can scarce 
tell the head from the tail. — "To Anthony Lumpkin, Esquire." It's 
very odd, I can read the outside of my letters, where my own name 
is, well enough; but when I come to open it, it's all — buzz. That's 
hard, very hard; for the inside of the letter is always the cream of 
the correspondence. 

Mrs. Hard. Ha! ha! ha! Very well, very well. And so my son 
was too hard for the philosopher. 

Miss Nev. Yes, madam; but you must hear the rest, madam. A 
little more this way, or he may hear us. You'll hear how he puzzled 
him again. 

Mrs. Hard. He seems strangely puzzled now himself, methinks. 

Tony. {Still gazing.) A damned up and down hand, as if it was 
disguised in liquor. — {Reading.) Dear sir, — ay, that's that. Then 
there's an M, and a T, and an S, but whether the next be an izzard, 
or an R, confound me, I cannot tell. 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 253 

Mrs. Hard. What's that, my dear ? Can I give you any assistance ? 

Miss Nev. Pray, aunt, let me read it. Nobody reads a cramp hand 
better than I. (Twitching the letter from him.) Do you know who 
it is from? 

Tony. Can't tell, except from Dick Ginger, the feeder. 

Miss Nev. Ay, so it is. (Pretending to read.) Dear 'Squire, hop- 
ing that you're in health, as I am at this present. The gentlemen 
of the Shake-bag club has cut the gentlemen of Goose-green quite 
out of feather. The odds — urn — odd battle — um — long fighting — 
um — here, here, it's all about cocks and fighting; it's of no conse- 
quence; here, put it up, put it up. (Thrusting the crumpled letter 
upon him.) 

Tony. But I tell you, miss, it's of all the consequence in the world. 
I would not lose the rest of it for a guinea. Here, mother, do you 
make it out. Of no consequence! (Giving Mrs. Hardcastle the 
letter.) 

Mrs. Hard. How's this ? — (Reads.) "Dear 'Squire, I'm now wait- 
ing for Miss Neville, with a post-chaise and pair, at the bottom of 
the garden, but I find my horses yet unable to perform the journey. 
I expect you'll assist us with a pair of fresh horses, as you promised. 
Dispatch is necessary, as the hag (ay, the hag), your mother, will 
otherwise suspect us! Yours, Hastings." Grant me patience. I 
shall run distracted! My rage chokes me. 

Miss Nev, I hope, madam, you'll suspend your resentment for a 
few moments, and not impute to me any impertinence, or sinister 
design, that belongs to another. 

Mrs. Hard. (Curtseying very low.) Fine spoken, madam, you 
are most miraculously polite and engaging, and quite the very pink 
of curtesy and circumspection, madam. (Changing her tone.) And 
you, you great ill-fashioned oaf, with scarce sense enough to keep 
your mouth shut: were you, too, joined against me? But I'll defeat 
all your plots in a moment. As for you, madam, since you have 
got a pair of fresh horses ready, it would be cruel to disappoint them. 
So, if you please, instead of running away with your spark, prepare, 
this moment, to run off with me. Your old aunt Pedigree will keep 
you secure, I'll warrant me. You too, sir, may mount your horse, 
and guard us upon the way. Here, Thomas, Roger, Diggory! I'll 



254 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

show you, that I wish you better than you do yourselves. [Exit. 

Miss Ncv. So now I'm completely ruined. 

Tony. Ay, that's a sure thing. 

Miss Nev. What better could be expected from being connected 
with such a stupid fool, — and after all the nods and signs I made 
him? 

Tony. By the laws, miss, it was your own cleverness, and not my 
stupidity, that did your business. You were so nice and so busy with 
your Shake-bags and Goose-greens, that I thought you could never 
be making believe. 

Enter Hastings 

Hast. So, sir, I find by my servant, that you have shown my let- 
ter, and betrayed us. Was this well done, young gentleman.' 

Tony. Here's another. Ask miss there, who betrayed you. Ecod, 
it was her doing, not mine. 

Enter Marlow 

Mar. So I have been finely used here among you. Rendered con- 
temptible, driven into ill manners, despised, insulted, laughed at. 

Tony. Here's another. We shall have old Bedlam broke loose 
presently. 

Miss Nev. And there, sir, is the gentleman to whom we all owe 
every obligation. 

Mar. What can I say to him, a mere boy, an idiot, whose ignorance 
and age are a protection ? 

Hast. A poor contemptible booby, that would but disgrace cor- 
rection. 

Miss Nev. Yet with cunning and malice enough to make himself 
merry with all our embarrassments. 

Hast. An insensible cub. 

Mar. Replete with tricks and mischief. 

Tony. Bawl damme, but I'll fight you both, one after the other — 
with baskets. 

Mar. As for him, he's below resentment. But your conduct, Mr. 
Hastings, requires an explanation. You knew of my mistakes, yet 
would not undeceive me. 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 255 

Hast. Tortured as I am with my own disappointments, is this a 
time for explanations? It is not friendly, Mr. Marlow. 

Mar. But, sir — 

Miss Net/. Mr. Marlow, we never kept on your mistake till it was 
too late to undeceive you. 

Enter Servant 

Ser. My mistress desires you'll get ready immediately, madam. 
The horses are putting to. Your hat and things are in the next room. 
We are to go thirty miles before morning. [Exit Servant. 

Miss Nev. Weil, well; I'll come presently. 

Mar. {To Hastings.) Was it well done, sir, to assist in rendering 
me ridiculous? To hang me out for the scorn of all my acquaintance? 
Depend upon it, sir, I shall expect an explanation. 

Hast. Was it well done, sir, if you're upon that subject to deliver 
what I entrusted to yourself, to the care of another, sir ? 

Miss Nev. Mr. Hastings! Mr. Marlow! Why will you increase 
my distress by this groundless dispute? I implore, I entreat you — 

Enter Servant 

Ser. Your cloak, madam. My mistress is impatient. 

[Exit Servant. 
Miss Nev. I come. Pray be pacified. If I leave you thus, I shall 
die with apprehension. 

Enter Servant 

Ser. Your fan, mufi, and gloves, madam. The horses are waiting. 

Miss Nev. O, Mr. Marlow! if you knew what a scene of constraint 
and ill-nature lies before me, I'm sure it would convert your resent- 
ment into pity. 

Mar. I'm so distracted with a variety of passions, that I don't 
know what I do. Forgive me, madam. George, forgive me. You 
know my hasty temper, and should not exasperate it. 

Hast. The torture of my situation is my only excuse. 

Miss Nev. Well, my dear Hastings, if you have that esteem for 
me that I think, that I am sure you have, your constancy for three 
years will but increase the happiness of our future connexion. If — 



256 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

Mrs. Hard. {Within.) Miss Neville. Constance, why, Constance, 
I say. 

Miss Nev. I'm coming. Well, constancy. Remember, constancy 
is the word. [Exit. 

Hast. My heart! how can I support this? To be so near happiness, 
and such happiness! 

Mar. {To Tony.) You see now, young gentleman, the effects of 
your folly. What might be amusement to you, is here disappoint- 
ment, and even distress. 

Tony. {From a reverie.) Ecod, I have hit it. It's here. Your hands. 
Yours and yours, my poor Sulky! — My boots there, ho! — Meet me 
two hours hence at the bottom of the garden; and if you don't find 
Tony Lumpkin a more good-natured fellow than you thought for, 
I'll give you leave to take my best horse, and Bet Bouncer into the 
bargain. Come along. My boots, ho! [Exeunt. 

ACT THE FIFTH 
(Scene continued) 

Enter Hastings and Servant 

Hast. You saw the old lady and Miss Neville drive off, you say? 

Ser. Yes, your honour. They went off in a post-coach, and the 
young 'squire went on horseback. They're thirty miles off by this 
time. 

Hast. Then all my hopes are over, 

Ser. Yes, sir. Old Sir Charles has arrived. He and the old gentle- 
man of the house have been laughing at Mr, Marlow's mistake this 
half hour. They are coming this way. 

Hast. Then I must not be seen. So now to my fruitless appoint- 
ment at the bottom of the garden. This is about the time. [Exit. 

Enter Sir Charles and Hardcastle 
Hard. Ha! ha! ha! The peremptory tone in which he sent forth 

his sublime commands! 
Sir Cha. And the reserve with which I suppose he treated all 

your advances. 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 257 

Hard. And yet he might have seen something in me above a 
common innkeeper, too. 

Sir Cha. Yes, Dick, but he mistook you for an uncommon inn- 
keeper, ha! ha! ha! 

Hard. Well, I'm in too good spirits to think of anything but joy. 
Yes, my dear friend, this union of our families will make our per- 
sonal friendships hereditary; and though my daughter's fortune is 
but small — 

Sir Cha. Why, Dick, will you talk of fortune to me? My son is 
possessed of more than a competence already, and can want nothing 
but a good and virtuous girl to share his happiness and increase it. 
If they like each other, as you say they do — 

Hard. If, man! I tell you they do like each other. My daughter 
as good as told me so. 

Sir Cha. But girls are apt to flatter themselves, you know. 

Hard. I saw him grasp her hand in the warmest manner myself; 
and here he comes to put you out of your ijs, I warrant him. 

Enter Marlow 

Mar. I come, sir, once more, to ask pardon for my strange conduct. 
I can scarce reflect on my insolence without confusion. 

Hard. Tut, boy, a trifle! You take it too gravely. An hour or 
two's laughing with my daughter will set all to rights again. She'll 
never like you the worse for it. 

Mar. Sir, I shall be always proud of her approbation. 

Hard. Approbation is but a cold word, Mr. Marlow; if I am not 
deceived, you have something more than approbation thereabouts. 
You take me? 

Mar. Really, sir, I have not that happiness. 

Hard. Come, boy, I'm an old fellow and know what's what as 
well as you that are younger. I know what has passed between you; 
but mum. 

Mar. Sure, sir, nothing has passed between us but the most pro- 
found respect on my side, and the most distant reserve on hers. You 
don't think, sir, that my impudence has been passed upon all the 
rest of the family. 



258 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

Hard. Impudence! No, I don't say that — not quite impudence — 
though girls Hke to be played with, and rumpled a little too, some- 
times. But she has told no tales, I assure you. 

Mar. I never gave her the slightest cause. 

Hard. Well, well, I like modesty in its place well enough. But 
this is over-acting, young gentleman. You may be open. Your 
father and I will like you all the better for it. 

Mar. May I die, sir, if I ever — 

Hard. I tell you, she don't dislike you; and as I'm sure you like 
her — 

Mar. Dear sir — I protest, sir — 

Hard. I see no reason why you should not be joined as fast as the 
parson can tie you. 

Mar. But hear me, sir — 

Hard. Your father approves the match, I admire it; every mo- 
ment's delay will be doing mischief. So — 

Mar. But why won't you hear me.' By all that's just and true, I 
never gave Miss Hardcastle the slightest mark of my attachment, 
or even the most distant hint to suspect me of affection. We had 
but one interview, and that was formal, modest, and uninteresting. 

Hard. {Aside.) This fellow's formal modest impudence is beyond 
bearing. 

Sir Cha. And you never grasped her hand, or made any protesta- 
tions ? 

Mar. As Heaven is my witness, I came down in obedience to your 
commands. I saw the lady without emotion, and parted without 
reluctance. I hope you'll exact no farther proofs of my duty, nor 
prevent me from leaving a house in which I suffer so many mortifica- 
tions. [Exit. 

Sir Cha. I'm astonished at the air of sincerity with which he parted. 

Hard. And I'm astonished at the deliberate intrepidity of his 
assurance. 

Sir Cha. I dare pledge my life and honour upon his truth. 

Hard. Here comes my daughter, and I would stake my happiness 
upon her veracity. 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 259 

Enter Miss Hardcastle 

Hard. Kate, come hither, child. Answer us sincerely and without 
reserve: has Mr. Mar low made you any professions of love and 
affection ? 

Miss Hard. The question is very abrupt, sir. But since you re- 
quire unreserved sincerity, I think he has. 

Hard. {To Sir Charles.) You see. 

Sir Cha. And pray, madam, have you and my son had more than 
one interview? 

Miss Hard. Yes, sir, several. 

Hard. (To Sir Charles.) You see. 

Sir Cha. But did he profess any attachment ? 

Miss Hard. A lasting one. 

Sir Cha. Did he talk of love.'' 

Miss Hard. Much, sir. 

Sir Cha. Amazing! And all this formally? 

Miss Hard. Formally. 

Hard. Now, my friend, I hope you are satisfied. 

Sir Cha. And how did he behave, madam? 

Miss Hard. As most profest admirers do: said some civil things 
of my face, talked much of his want of merit, and the greatness of 
mine; mentioned his heart, gave a short tragedy speech, and ended 
with pretended rapture. 

Sir Cha. Now I'm perfectly convinced, indeed. I know his con- 
versation among women to be modest and submissive: this forward 
canting ranting manner by no means describes him; and, I am con- 
fident, he never sat for the picture. 

Miss Hard. Then, what, sir, if I should convince you to your 
face of my sincerity? If you and my papa in about half an hour, 
will place yourselves behind that screen, you shall hear him declare 
his passion to me in person. 

Sir Cha. Agreed. And if I find him what you describe, all my 
happiness in him must have an end. \Exit. 

Miss Hard. And if you don't find him what I describe — I fear 
my happiness must never have a beginning. [Exeunt. 



260 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

Scene changes to the bac^ of the Garden 
Enter Hastings 

Hast. What an idiot am I, to wait here for a fellow who probably 
takes a delight in mortifying me. He never intended to be punctual, 
and I'll wait no longer. What do I see? It is he! and perhaps with 
news of my Constance. 

Enter Tony, booted and spattered 

Hast. My honest 'squire! I now find you a man of your word. 
This looks like friendship. 

Tony. Ay, I'm your friend, and the best friend you have in the 
world, if you knew but all. This riding by night, by the bye, is 
cursedly tiresome. It has shook me worse than the basket of a 
stage-coach. 

Hast. But how? where did you leave your fellow-travellers? Are 
they in safety? Are they housed? 

Tony. Five and twenty miles in two hours and a half is no such 
bad driving. The poor beasts have smoked for it: rabbit me, but 
I'd rather ride forty miles after a fox than ten with such varment. 

Hast. Well, but where have you left the ladies? I die with 
impatience. 

Tony. Left them! Why where should I leave them but where I 
found them? 

Hast. This is a riddle. 

Tony. Riddle me this, then. What's that goes round the house, 
and round the house, and never touches the house? 

Hast. I'm still astray. 

Tony. Why, that's it, mon. I have led them astray. By jingo, 
there's not a pond or a slough within five miles of the place but they 
can tell the taste of. 

Hast. Ha! ha! ha! I understand: you took them in a round, while 
they supposed themselves going forward, and so you have at last 
brought them home again. 

Tony. You shall hear. I first took them down Feather-bed Lane, 
where we stuck fast in the mud. I then rattled them crack over the 
stones of Up-and-down Hill. I then introduced them to the gibbet 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 26 1 

on Heavy-tree Heath; and from that, with a circumbendibus, I 
fairly lodged them in the horse-pond at the bottom of the garden. 

Hast. But no accident, I hope? 

Tony. No, no. Only mother is confoundedly frightened. She 
thinks herself forty miles off. She's sick of the journey; and the 
cattle can scarce crawl. So if your own horses be ready, you may 
whip off with cousin, and I'll be bound that no soul here can budge 
a foot to follow you. 

Hast. My dear friend, how can I be grateful.'' 

Tony. Ay, now it's dear friend, noble 'squire. Just now, it was 
all idiot, cub, and run me through the guts. Damn your way of 
fighting, I say. After we take a knock in this part of the country, 
we kiss and be friends. But if you had run me through the guts, 
then I should be dead, and you might go kiss the hangman. 

Hast. The rebuke is just. But I must hasten to relieve Miss 
Neville: if you keep the old lady employed, I promise to take care 
of the young one. {Exit Hastings. 

Tony. Never fear me. Here she comes. Vanish. She's got from 
the pond, and draggled up to the waist like a mermaid. 

Enter Mrs. Hardcastle 

Mrs. Hard. Oh, Tony, I'm killed! Shook! Battered to death. I 
shall never survive it. That last jolt, that laid us against the quickset 
hedge, has done my business. 

Tony. Alack, mamma, it was all your own fault. You would be 
for running away by night, without knowing one inch of the 
way. 

Mrs. Hard. I wish we were at home again. I never met so many 
accidents in so short a journey. Drenched in the mud, overturned 
in a ditch, stuck fast in a slough, jolted to a jelly, and at last to lose 
our way. Whereabouts do you think we are, Tony? 

Tony. By my guess we should come upon Crackskull common, 
about forty miles from home. 

Mrs. Hard. O lud! O lud! The most notorious spot in all the 
country. We only want a robbery to make a complete night on't. 

Tony. Don't be afraid, mamma, don't be afraid. Two of the five 
that kept here are hanged, and the other three may not find us. 



262 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

Don't be afraid. — Is that a man that's galloping behind us? No; 
it's only a tree. — Don't be afraid. 

Mrs. Hard. The fright will certainly kill me. 

Tony. Do you see anything like a black hat moving behind the 
thicket? 

Mrs. Hard. Oh, death! 

Tony. No; it's only a cow. Eton't be afraid, mamma; don't be 
afraid. 

Mrs. Hard. As I'm alive, Tony, I see a man coming towards us. 
Ah! I'm sure on't. If he perceives us, we are undone. 

Tony. (Aside.) Father-in-law, by all that's unlucky, come to take 
one of his night walks. (To her.) Ah, it's a highwayman with pistols 
as long as my arm. A damned ill-looking fellow. 

Mrs. Hard. Good Heaven defend us! He approaches. 

Tony. Do you hide yourself in that thicket, and leave me to man- 
age him. If there be any danger, I'll cough, and cry hem. When I 
cough, be sure to keep close. (Mrs. Hardcastle hides behind a tree 
in the bacl(^ scene.) 

Enter Hardcastle 

Hard. I'm mistaken, or I heard voices of people in want of help. 
Oh, Tony! is that you? I did not expect you so soon back. Are your 
mother and her charge in safety? 

Tony. Very safe, sir, at my aunt Pedigree's. Hem. 

Mrs. Hard. (From behind.) Ah, death! I find there's danger. 

Hard. Forty miles in three hours; sure that's too much, my 
youngster. 

Tony. Stout horses and willing minds make short journeys, as 
they say. Hem. 

Mrs. Hard. (From behind.) Sure he'll do the dear boy no 
harm. 

Hard. But I heard a voice here; I should be glad to know from 
whence it came. 

Tony. It was I, sir, talking to myself, sir. I was saying that forty 
miles in four hours was very good going. Hem. As to be sure it 
was. Hem. I have got a sort of cold by being out in the air. We'll 
go in, if you please. Hem, 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 263 

Hard. But if you talked to yourself you did not answer yourself. 
I'm certain I heard two voices, and am resolved (raising his voice) 
to find the other out. 

Mrs. Hard. {From behind.) Oh! he's coming to find me out. Oh! 

Tony. What need you go, sir, if I tell you? Hem. I'll lay down 
my life for the truth — hem — I'll tell you all, sir. {Detaining him. 

Hard. I tell you I will not be detained. I insist on seeing. It's in 
vain to expect I'll believe you. 

Mrs. Hard. {Running forward from behind.) O lud! he'll murder 
my poor boy, my darling! Here, good gentleman, whet your rage 
upon me. Take my money, my life, but spare that young gentleman; 
spare my child, if you have any mercy. 

Hard. My wife, as I'm a Christian. From whence can she come.' 
or what does she mean? 

Mrs. Hard. (Kneeling.) Take compassion on us, good Mr. High- 
wayman. Take our money, our watches, all we have, but spare our 
lives. We will never bring you to justice; indeed we won't, good 
Mr. Highwayman. 

Hard. I believe the woman's out of her senses. What, Dorothy, 
don't you know me? 

Mrs. Hard. Mr. Hardcastle, as I'm alive! My fears blinded me. 
But who, my dear, could have expected to meet you here, in this 
frightful place, so far from home ? What has brought you to follow 



us? 



Hard. Sure, Dorothy, you have not lost your wits? So far from 
home, when you are within forty yards of your own door! (To 
him.) This is one of your old tricks, you graceless rogue, you. (To 
her.) Don't you know the gate, and the mulberry-tree; and don't 
you remember the horse-pond, my dear ? 

Mrs. Hard. Yes, I shall remember the horse-pond as long as I 
live; I have caught my death in it. (To Tony.) And is it to you, 
you graceless varlet, I owe all this? I'll teach you to abuse your 
mother, I will. 

Tony. Ecod, mother, all the parish says you have spoiled me, and 
so you may take the fruits on't. 

Mrs. Hard. I'll spoil you, I will. [Follows him off the stage. Exit, 

Hard. There's morality, however, in his reply. [Exit. 



264 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

Enter Hastings and Miss Neville 

Hast. My dear Constance, why will you deliberate thus? If we 
delay a moment, all is lost for ever. Pluck up a little resolution, and 
we shall soon be out of the reach of her malignity. 

Miss Net/. I find it impossible. My spirits are so sunk with the 
agitations I have suffered, that I am unable to face any new danger. 
Two or three years' patience will at last crown us with happiness. 

Hast. Such a tedious delay is worse than inconstancy. Let us fly, 
my charmer. Let us date our happiness from this very moment. 
Perish fortune! Love and content will increase what we possess 
beyond a monarch's revenue. Let me prevail! 

Miss Nee. No, Mr. Hastings, no. Prudence once more comes to 
my relief, and I will obey its dictates. In the moment of passion for- 
tune may be despised, but it ever produces a lasting repentance. I'm 
resolved to apply to Mr. Hardcastle's compassion and justice for 
redress. 

Hast. But though he had the will, he has not the power to relieve 
you. 

Miss Nev. But he has influence, and upon that I am resolved to 
rely. 

Hast. I have no hopes. But since you persist, I must reluctantly 
obey you. [Exeunt. 

Scene changes to the house 

Enter Sir Charles and Miss Hardcastle 

Sir Cha. What a situation am I in! If what you say appears, I 
shall then find a guilty son. If what he says be true, I shall then lose 
one that, of all others, I most wished for a daughter. 

Miss Hard. I am proud of your approbation, and to show I merit 
it, if you place yourselves as I directed, you shall hear his explicit 
declaration. But he comes. 

Sir Cha. I'll to your father, and keep him to the appointment. 

[Exit Sir Charles. 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 265 

Enter Marlow 

Mar. Though prepared for setting out, I come once more to take 
leave; nor did I, till this moment, know the pain 1 feel in the 
separation. 

Miss Hard. (In her own natural manner^ I believe these suffer- 
ings cannot be very great, sir, which you can so easily remove. A 
day or two longer, perhaps, might lessen your uneasiness, by show- 
ing the little value of what you now think proper to regret. 

Mar. (Aside.) This girl every moment improves upon me. (To 
her.) It must not be, madam. I have already trifled too long with 
my heart. My very pride begins to submit to my passion. The dis- 
parity of education and fortune, the anger of a parent, and the 
contempt of my equals, begin to lose their weight; and nothing can 
restore me to myself but this painful effort of resolution. 

Miss Hard. Then go, sir: I'll urge nothing more to detain you. 
Though my family be as good as hers you came down to visit, and 
my education, I hope, not inferior, what are these advantages with- 
out equal affluence? I must remain contented with the slight appro- 
bation of imputed merit; I must have only the mockery of your 
addresses, while all your serious aims are fixed on fortune. 

Enter Hardcastle and Sir Charles from behind 

Sir Cha. Here, behind this screen. 

Hard. Ay, ay; make no noise. I'll engage my Kate covers him 
with confusion at last. 

Mar. By heavens, madam! fortune was ever my smallest con- 
sideration. Your beauty at first caught my eye; for who could see 
that without emotion? But every moment that I converse with you 
steals in some new grace, heightens the picture, and gives it stronger 
expression. What at first seemed rustic plainness, now appears re- 
fined simplicity. What seemed forward assurance, now strikes me 
as the result of courageous innocence and conscious virtue. 

Sir Cha. What can it mean? He amazes me! 

Hard. I told you how it would be. Hush! 

Mar. I am now determined to stay, madam; and I have too good 



266 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

an opinion of my father's discernment, when he sees you, to doubt 
his approbation. 

Miss Hard. No, Mr. Marlow, I will not, cannot detain you. Do 
you think I could suffer a connexion in which there is the smallest 
room for repentance? Do you think I would take the mean ad- 
vantage of a transient passion, to load you with confusion? Do you 
think I could ever relish that happiness which was acquired by les- 
sening yours? 

Mar. By all that's good, I can have no happiness but what's in 
your power to grant me! Nor shall I ever feel repentance but in not 
having seen your merits before. I will stay even contrary to your 
wishes; and though you should persist to shun me, I will make my 
respectful assiduities atone for the levity of my past conduct. 

Miss Hard. Sir, I must entreat you'll desist. As our acquaintance 
began, so let it end, in indifference. I might have given an hour or 
two to levity; but seriously, Mr. Marlow, do you think I could ever 
submit to a connexion where I must appear mercenary, and you 
imprudent? Do you think I could ever catch at the confident ad- 
dresses of a secure admirer? 

Mar. (Kneeling.) Does this look like security? Does this look 
like confidence? No, madam, every moment that shows me your 
merit, only serves to increase my diffidence and confusion. Here let 
me continue — 

Sir Cha. I can hold it no longer. Charles, Charles, how hast thou 
deceived me! Is this your indifference, your uninteresting con- 
versation ? 

Hard. Your cold contempt; your formal interview! What have 
you to say now? 

Mar. That I'm all amazement! What can it mean? 

Hard. It means that you can say and unsay things at pleasure: 
that you can address a lady in private, and deny it in public: that 
you have one story for us, and another for my daughter. 

Mar. Daughter! — This lady your daughter? 

Hard. Yes, sir, my only daughter; my Kate; whose else should 
she be ? 

Mar. Oh, the devil! 

Miss Hard. Yes, sir, that very identical tall squinting lady you 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 267 

were pleased to take me for (courtesying) ; she that you addressed 
as the mild, modest, sentimental man of gravity, and the bold, for- 
ward, agreeable Rattle of the Ladies' Club. Ha! ha! ha! 

Mar. Zounds! there's no bearing this; it's worse than death! 

Miss Hard. In which of your characters, sir, will you give us leave 
to address you? As the faltering gentleman, with looks on the 
ground, that speaks just to be heard, and hates hypocrisy; or the 
loud confident creature, that keeps it up with Mrs. Mantrap, and 
old Miss Biddy Buckskin, till three in the morning? Ha! ha! ha! 

Mar. O, curse on my noisy head. I never attempted to be impu- 
dent yet, that I was not taken down. I must be gone. 

Hard. By the hand of my body, but you shall not. I see it was all 
a mistake, and I am rejoiced to find it. You shall not, sir, I tell you. 
I know she'll forgive you. Won't you forgive him, Kate? We'll all 
forgive you. Take courage, man. {They retire, she tormenting him, 
to the bacl{ scene.) 

Enter Mrs. Hardcastle and Tony 

Mrs. Hard. So, so, they're gone off. Let them go, I care not. 

Hard. Who gone ? 

Mrs. Hard. My dutiful niece and her gentleman, Mr. Hastings, 
from town. He who came down with our modest visitor here. 

Sir Cha. Who, my honest George Hastings? As worthy a fellow 
as lives, and the girl could not have made a more prudent choice. 

Hard. Then, by the hand of my body, I'm proud of the connexion. 

Mrs. Hard. Well, if he has taken away the lady, he has not taken 
her fortune; that remains in this family to console us for her loss. 

Hard. Sure, Dorothy, you would not be so mercenary? 

Mrs. Hard. Ay, that's my affair, not yours. 

Hard. But you know if your son, when of age, refuses to marry 
his cousin, her whole fortune is then at her own disposal. 

Mrs. Hard. Ay, but he's not of age, and she has not thought 
proper to wait for his refusal. 

Enter Hastings and Miss Neville 

Mrs. Hard. (Aside.) What, returned so soon! I begin not to like it. 
Hast. (To Hardcastle.) For my late attempt to fly off with your 



268 OLIVER GOLDSMITH 

niece let my present confusion be my punishment. We are now 
come back, to appeal from your justice to your humanity. By her 
father's consent, I first paid her my addresses, and our passions 
were first founded in duty. 

Miss Nev. Since his death, I have been obliged to stoop to dissim- 
ulation to avoid oppression. In an hour of levity, I was ready to give 
up my fortune to secure my choice. But I am now recovered from 
the delusion, and hope from your tenderness what is denied me 
from a nearer connexion. 

Mrs. Hard. Pshaw, pshaw! this is all but the whining end of a 
modern novel. 

Hard. Be it what it will, I'm glad they're come back to reclaim 
their due. Come hither, Tony, boy. Do you refuse this lady's hand 
whom I now offer you ? 

Tony. What signifies my refusing? You know I can't refuse her 
till I'm of age, father. 

Hard. While I thought concealing your age, boy, was likely to 
conduce to your improvement, I concurred with your mother's de- 
sire to keep it secret. But since I find she turns it to a wrong use, I 
must now declare you have been of age these three months. 

Tony. Of age! Am I of age, father? 

Hard. Above three months. 

Tony. Then you'll see the first use I'll make of my liberty. (Taj^- 
ing Miss Neville's hand.) Witness all men by these presents, that 
I, Anthony Lumpkin, Esquire, of Blank place, refuse you, Con- 
stantia Neville, spinster, of no place at all, for my true and lawful 
wife. So Constance Neville may marry whom she pleases, and Tony 
Lumpkin is his own man again. 

Sir Cha. O brave 'squire! 

Hast. My worthy friend! 

Mrs. Hard. My undutiful offspring! 

Mar. Joy, my dear George! I give you joy sincerely. And could I 
prevail upon my little tyrant here to be less arbitrary, I should be the 
happiest man alive, if you would return me the favour. 

Hast. {To Miss Hardcastle.) Come, madam, you are now 
driven to the very last scene of all your contrivances. I know you like 
him, I'm sure he loves you, and you must and shall have him. 



SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER 269 

Hard. {Joining their hands.) And I say so too. And, Mr. Mar- 
low, if she makes as good a wife as she has a daughter, I don't be- 
lieve you'll ever repent your bargain. So now to supper. To-morrow 
we shall gather all the poor of the parish about us, and the mistakes 
of the night shall be crowned with a merry morning. So, boy, take 
her; and as you have been mistaken in the mistress, my wish is, that 
you may never be mistaken in the wife. {Exeunt Omnes. 



THE CENCI 

BY 
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 

Percy Bysshe Shelley was born near Horsham, Sussex, England, on 
August 4, 1792, of a wealthy but undistinguished family. He was 
educated at Eton, where he was unpopular and persecuted, and at Uni- 
versity College, Oxford, where he was interested in science, and from 
which he was expelled for the publication of a pamphlet on "The 
Necessity of Atheism." Going up to London, he met at the school 
attended by his sisters a girl of sixteen called Harriet Westbrook, whose 
accounts of the persecution she suffered won Shelley's sympathy and led 
him into a foolish marriage, he being nineteen and she sixteen. Within 
three years they had become estranged; she left him to return with her 
child to her father's house; and a month later he set out for the Continent 
with Mary, daughter of William Godwin, the political philosopher, under 
whose influence Shelley had been for a time. In 1816 Harriet was found 
drowned; Shelley formally married Mary Godwin; and the courts refused 
him the custody of his children. Meantime he was taking active part 
in political agitation on the side of liberty, and was producing a good 
deal of poetry. "Alastor" had been written in 1815, and "The Revolt 
of Islam" appeared in 1818. In that year he returned to Italy, where he 
remained till his death by drowning on July 8, 1822. His ashes were 
buried in Rome. 

These last years were crowded with poetical production, "Prometheus 
Unbound," "The Cenci," the "Ode to the West Wind," "The Sensitive 
Plant," "Epipsychidion," "Adonais," and many of his finest lyrics be- 
longing to this period. Of his dramatic work, the "Prometheus 
Unbound," a mythological drama on the redemption of mankind, in 
gorgeous lyrical verse, and "The Cenci" are the most important. In the 
latter he handled a terrible story of old Roman life with great delicacy 
and tremendous impressiveness. Partly under the influence of Shakes- 
peare, partly from the nature of the subject, this play is more concrete 
and palpable than Shelley's work in general, and displays sides of his 
genius which might not otherwise have been suspected. Though impos- 
sible on the public stage, "The Cenci" has claims to be regarded, by virtue 
of its strength of characterization, its poetry, and its emotional intensity, 
as the greatest drama of the century. 



DEDICATION 

TO 

LEIGH HUNT, Esq. 

My Dear Friend — I inscribe with your name, from a distant country, 
and after an absence whose months have seemed years, this the latest of 
my literary eflorts. 

Those writings which I have hitherto published, have been little else 
than visions which imf)ersonate my own apprehensions of the beautiful 
and the just. I can also perceive in them the literary defects incidental 
to youth and impatience; they are dreams of what ought to be, or may be. 
The drama which I now present to you is a sad reality. I lay aside the 
presumptuous attitude of an instructor, and am content to paint, with 
such colours as my own heart furnishes, that which has been. 

Had I known a person more highly endowed than yourself with all 
that it becomes a man to possess, I had solicited for this work the 
ornament of his name. One more gentle, honourable, innocent and 
brave; one of more exalted toleration for all who do and think evil, and 
yet himself more free from evil; one who knows better how to receive, 
and how to confer a benefit though he must ever confer far more than 
he can receive; one of simpler, and, in the highest sense of the word, of 
purer life and manners I never knew: and I had already been fortunate 
in friendships when your name was added to the list. 

In that patient and irreconcilable enmity with domestic and political 
tyranny and imposture which the tenor of your life has illustrated, and 
which, had I health and talents, should illustrate mine, let us, comforting 
each other in our task, live and die. 

All happiness attend you! Your affectionate friend, 

Percy B. Shelley. 

Rome, May 29, i8ig. 



PREFACE 

A Manuscript was communicated to me during my travels in Italy, 
which was copied from the archives of the Cenci Palace at Rome, and 
contains a detailed account of the horrors which ended in the extinction 
of one of the noblest and richest families of that city during the Pontifi- 
cate of Clement VIII, in the year 1599. The story is, that an old man 
having sfKnt his life in debauchery and wickedness, conceived at length 
an implacable hatred towards his children; which showed itself towards 
one daughter under the form of an incestuous passion, aggravated by 
every circumstance of cruelty and violence. This daughter, after long 
and vain attempts to escape from what she considered a perpetual con- 
tamination both of body and mind, at length plotted with her mother- 
in-law and brother to murder their common tyrant. The young maiden, 
who was urged to this tremendous deed by an impulse which over- 
powered its horror, was evidently a most gende and amiable being, a 
creature formed to adorn and be admired, and thus violently thwarted 
from her nature by the necessity of circumstance and opinion. The deed 
was quickly discovered, and, in spite of the most earnest prayers made 
to the Pope by the highest persons in Rome, the criminals were put to 
death. The old man had during his life repeatedly bought his pardon 
from the Pope for capital crimes of the most enormous and unspeakable 
kind, at the price of a hundred thousand crowns; the death therefore of 
his victims can scarcely be accounted for by the love of justice. The 
Pope, among other motives for severity, probably felt that whoever killed 
the Count Cenci deprived his treasury of a certain and copious source of 
revenue.' Such a story, if told so as to present to the reader all the feel- 
ings of those who once acted it, their hopes and fears, their confidences 
and misgivings, their various interests, passions, and opinions, acting 
upon and with each other, yet all conspiring to one tremendous end, 
would be as a light to make apparent some of the most dark and secret 
caverns of the human heart. 

' The Papal Government formerly took the most extraordinary precautioni against 
the publicity of facts which ofTer so tra^'ical a demonstration of its own wickedness 
and weakness; so that the communication of the MS. had become, until very lately, 
a matter of some difficulty. 

»75 



276 PREFACE 

On my arrival at Rome I found that the story of the Cenci was a sub- 
ject not to be mentioned in ItaHan society without awakening a deep and 
breathless interest; and that the feelings of the company never failed to 
incline to a romantic pity for the wrongs, and a passionate exculpation 
of the horrible deed to which they urged her, who has been mingled two 
centuries with the common dust. All ranks of people knew the outlines 
of this history, and participated in the overwhelming interest which it 
seems to have the magic of exciting in the human heart. I had a 
copy of Guido's picture of Beatrice which is preserved in the Colonna 
Palace, and my servant instantly recognized it as the portrait of La 
Cenci. 

This national and universal interest which the story produces and has 
produced for two centuries and among all ranks of people in a great 
City, where the imagination is kept for ever active and awake, first sug- 
gested to me the conception of its fitness for a dramatic purpose. In 
fact it is a tragedy which has already received, from its capacity of 
awakening and sustaining the sympathy of men, approbation and success. 
Nothing remained as I imagined, but to clothe it to the apprehensions of 
my countrymen in such language and action as would bring it home to 
their hearts. The deepest and the sublimest tragic compositions. King 
Lear and the two plays in which the tale of CEdipus is told, were stories 
which already existed in tradition, as matters of popular belief and inter- 
est, before ShaksfKare and Sophocles made them familiar to the sym- 
pathy of all succeeding generations of mankind. 

This story of the Cenci is indeed eminently fearful and monstrous: any 
thing like a dry exhibition of it on the stage would be insupportable. The 
person who would treat such a subject must increase the ideal, and 
diminish the actual horror of the events, so that the pleasure which arises 
from the poetry which exists in these tempestuous sufferings and crimes 
may mitigate the pain of the contemplation of the moral deformity from 
which they spring. There must also be nothing attempted to make the 
exhibition subservient to what is vulgarly termed a moral purpose. The 
highest moral purpose aimed at in the highest species of the drama, is the 
teaching the human heart, through its sympathies and antipathies, the 
knowledge of itself; in proportion to the possession of which knowledge, 
every human being is wise, just, sincere, tolerant and kind. If dogmas 
can do more, it is well: but a drama is no fit place for the enforcement 
of them. Undoubtedly, no person can be truly dishonoured by the act of 
another; and the fit return to make to the most enormous injuries is 
kindness and forbearance, and a resolution to convert the injurer from 
his dark passions by peace and love. Revenge, retaliation, atonement, 



PREFACE 277 

are pernicious mistakes. If Beatrice had thought in this manner she 
would have been wiser and better; but she would never have been a 
tragic character: the few whom such an exhibition would have interested, 
could never have been sufficiently interested for a dramatic purpose, from 
the want of finding sympathy in their interest among the mass who 
surround them. It is in the restless and anatomising casuistry with which 
men seek the justification of Beatrice, yet feel that she has done what 
needs justification; it is in the superstitious horror with which they con- 
template alike her wrongs, and their revenge, that the dramatic character 
of what she did and suffered, consists. 

I have endeavoured as nearly as possible to represent the characters as 
they probably were, and have sought to avoid the error of making them 
actuated by my own conceptions of right or wrong, false or true: thus 
under a thin veil converting names and actions of the sixteenth century 
into cold impersonations of my own mind. They are represented as 
Catholics, and as Catholics deeply tinged with religion. To a Protestant 
apprehension there will appear something unnatural in the earnest and 
perpetual sentiment of the relations between God and men which per- 
vade the tragedy of the Cenci. It will esfX!cially be startled at the combi- 
nation of an undoubting persuasion of the truth of the popular religion 
with a cool and determined perseverance in enormous guilt. But religion 
in Italy is not, as in Protestant countries, a cloak to be worn on particular 
days; or a passport which those who do not wish to be railed at carry 
with them to exhibit; or a gloomy passion for penetrating the imjjene- 
trable mysteries of our being, which terrifies its possessor at the darkness 
of the abyss to the brink of which it has conducted him. Religion 
coexists, as it were, in the mind of an Italian Catholic, with a faith in 
that of which all men have the most certain knowledge. It is inter- 
woven with the whole fabric of life. It is adoration, faith, submission, 
penitence, blind admiration; not a rule for moral conduct. It has no 
necessary connection with any one virtue. The most atrocious villain may 
be rigidly devout, and without any shock to established faith, confess 
himself to be so. Religion pervades intensely the whole frame of society, 
and is according to the temper of the mind which it inhabits, a passion, 
a persuasion, an excuse, a refuge; never a check. Cenci himself built a 
chapel in the court of his Palace, and dedicated it to St. Thomas the 
Apostle, and established masses for the peace of his soul. Thus in the first 
scene of the fourth act Lucretia's design in exposing herself to the conse- 
quences of an expostulation with Cenci after having administered the 
opiate, was to induce him by a feigned tale to confess himself before 
death; this being esteemed by Catholics as essential to salvation; and she 



278 PREFACE 

only relinquishes her purpose when she perceives that her jjerseverance 
would expose Beatrice to new outrages. 

I have avoided with great care in writing this play the introduction of 
what is commonly called mere poetry, and I imagine there will scarcely 
be found a detached simile or a single isolated description, unless 
Beatrice's description of the chasm appointed for her father's murder 
should be judged to be of that nature.^ 

In a dramatic composition the imagery and the f>assion should inter- 
penetrate one another, the former being reserved simply for the full 
development and illustration of the latter. Imagination is as the im- 
mortal God which should assume flesh for the redemption of mortal 
passion. It is thus that the most remote and the most familiar imagery 
may alike be fit for dramatic purposes when employed in the illustration 
of strong feeling, which raises what is low, and levels to the apprehension 
that which is lofty, casting over all the shadow of its own greatness. In 
other respects, I have written more carelessly; that is, without an over- 
fastidious and learned choice of words. In this respect I entirely agree 
with those modern critics who assert that in order to move men to true 
sympathy we must use the familiar language of men, and that our great 
ancestors the ancient English |X)ets are the writers, a study of whom 
might incite us to do that for our own age which they have done for 
theirs. But it must be the real language of men in general, and not that 
of any particular class to whose society the writer happens to belong. So 
much for what I have attempted; I need not be assured that success is a 
very different matter; particularly for one whose attention has but newly 
been awakened to the study of dramatic literature. 

I endeavoured whilst at Rome to observe such monuments of this 
story as might be accessible to a stranger. The portrait of Beatrice at the 
Colonna Palace is admirable as a work of art; it was taken by Guido 
during her confinement in prison. But it is most interesting as a just 
representation of one of the loveliest specimens of the workmanship of 
Nature. There is a fixed and pale composure upon the features: she 
seems sad and stricken down in spirit, yet the despair thus expressed is 
lightened by the patience of gendeness. Her head is bound with folds 
of white drapery from which the yellow strings of her golden hair 
escape, and fall about her neck. The moulding of her face is exquisitely 
delicate; the eyebrows are distinct and arched: the lips have that perma- 
nent meaning of imagination and sensibility which suffering has not 

' An idea in this speech was suggested by a most sublime passage in "El Purgatorio 
de San Patricio" of Calderon; the only plagiarism which I have intentionally com- 
mitted in the whole piece. 



PREFACE 279 

repressed and which it seems as if death scarcely could extinguish. Her 
forehead is large and clear; her eyes which we are told were remarkable 
for their vivacity, are swollen with weeping and lustreless, but beautifully 
tender and serene. In the whole mien there is a simplicity and dignity 
which united with her exquisite loveliness and deep sorrow are inex- 
pressibly pathetic. Beatrice Cenci appears to have been one of those rare 
persons in whom energy and gentleness dwell together without destroy- 
ing one another: her nature was simple and profound. The crimes and 
miseries in which she was an actor and a sufferer are as the mask and 
the mantle in which circumstances clothed her for her impersonation on 
the scene of the world. 

The Cenci Palace is of great extent; and though in part modernized, 
there yet remains a vast and gloomy pile of feudal architecture in the 
same state as during the dreadful scenes which are the subject of this 
tragedy. The Palace is situated in an obscure corner of Rome, near the 
quarter of the Jews, and from the upper windows you see the immense 
ruins of Mount Palatine half hidden under their profuse overgrowth of 
trees. There is a court in one part of the Palace (perhaps that in which 
Cenci built the Chapel to St. Thomas), supported by granite columns 
and adorned with antique friezes of fine workmanship, and built up, 
according to the ancient Italian fashion, with balcony over balcony of 
open-work. One of the gates of the Palace formed of immense stones and 
leading through a passage, dark and lofty and opening into gloomy 
subterranean chambers, struck me particularly. 

Of the Castle of Petrella, I could obtain no further information than 
that which is to be found in the manuscript. 



THE CENCI 



DRAMATIS PERSONS 



ffiis Sons. 

JO, J 



Count Francesco Cenci. 

GlACOMO, 

Bernardo, 

Cardinal Camillo. 

Orsino, a Prelate. 

Savella, the Pope's Legate. 

Olimpio,"! 

,, > Assassins. 

Marzio, J 

Andrea, Servant to Cenci. 

Nobles — Judges — Guards — Servants. 

Lucret:a, Wife of Cenci, and Step-mother of his children. 

Beatrice, his Daughter. 

The SCENE lies princifwlly in Rome, but changes during the Fourth 
Act to Petrella, a castle among the Apulian Apennines. 

Time. During the Pontificate of Clement VIII. 

ACT I 

Scene I. — An Apartment in the Cenci Palace 
Enter Count Cenci, and Cardinal Camillo 
Camillo 

THAT matter of the murder is hushed up 
If you consent to yield his Holiness 
Your fief that lies beyond the Pincian gate. — 
It needed all my interest in the conclave 
To bend him to this point: he said that you 
Bought perilous impunity with your gold; 
That crimes like yours if once or twice compounded 
Enriched the Church, and respited from hell 
An erring soul which might repent and live: — 
But that the glory and the interest 

281 



282 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

Of the high throne he fills, little consist 
With making it a daily mart of guilt 
As manifold and hideous as the deeds 
Which you scarce hide from men's revolted eyes. 

Cenci. The third of my possessions — let it go! 
Ay, I once heard the nephew of the Pope 
Had sent his architect to view the ground. 
Meaning to build a villa on my vines 
The next time I compounded with his uncle: 
I httle thought he should outwit me so! 
Henceforth no witness — not the lamp — shall see 
That which the vassal threatened to divulge 
Whose throat is choked with dust for his reward. 
The deed he saw could not have rated higher 
Than his most worthless life: — it angers me! 
Respited me from Hell! — So may the Devil 
Respite their souls from Heaven. No doubt Pope Clement, 
And his most charitable nephews, pray 
That the Apostle Peter and the saints 
Will grant for their sake that I long enjoy 
Strength, wealth, and pride, and lust, and length of days 
Wherein to act the deeds which are the stewards 
Of their revenue. — But much yet remains 
To which they show no title. 

Camillo. Oh, Count Cenci! 

So much that thou mightst honourably live 
And reconcile thyself with thine own heart 
And with thy God, and with the offended world. 
How hideously look deeds of lust and blood 
Thro' those snow white and venerable hairs! — 
Your children should be sitting round you now, 
But that you fear to read upon their looks 
The shame and misery you have written there. 
Where is your wife? Where is your gentle daughter? 
Methinks her sweet looks, which make all things else 
Beauteous and glad, might kill the fiend within you. 
Why is she barred from all society 



THE CENCI 283 

But her own strange and uncomplaining wrongs? 

Talk with me, Count, — you know I mean you well. 

I stood beside your dark and fiery youth 

Watching its bold and bad career, as men 

Watch meteors, but it vanished not — I marked 

Your desperate and remorseless manhood; now 

Do I behold you in dishonoured age 

Charged with a thousand unrepented crimes. 

Yet I have ever hoped you would amend, 

And in that hope have saved your life three times. 
Cenci. For which Aldobrandino owes you now 

My fief beyond the Pincian — Cardinal, 

One thing, I pray you, recollect henceforth, 

And so we shall converse with less restraint. 

A man you knew sjwke of my wife and daughter — 

He was accustomed to frequent my house; 

So the next day his wife and daughter came 

And asked if I had seen him; and I smiled: 

I think they never saw him any more. 
Camillo. Thou execrable man, beware! — 
Cenci. Of thee? 

Nay this is idle: — We should know each other. 

As to my character for what men call crime 

Seeing I please my senses as I list. 

And vindicate that right with force or guile 

It is a public matter, and I care not 

If I discuss it with you. I may speak 

Alike to you and my own conscious heart — 

For you give out that you have half reformed me. 

Therefore strong vanity will keep you silent 

If fear should not; both will, I do not doubt. 

All men delight in sensual luxury. 

All men enjoy revenge; and most exult 

Over the tortures they can never feel — 

Flattering their secret peace with others' pain. 

But I delight in nothing else. I love 

The sight of agony, and the sense of joy, 



284 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

When this shall be another's, and that mine. 
And I have no remorse and little fear, 
Which are, I think, the checks of other men. 
This mood has grown upwn me, until now 
Any design my captious fancy makes 
The picture of its wish, and it forms none 
But such as men like you would start to know, 
Is as my natural food and rest debarred 
Until it be accomplished. 

Camillo. Art thou not 

Most miserable? 

Cenci. Why, miserable? — 

No. — I am what your theologians call 
Hardened; — which they must be in impudence. 
So to revile a man's peculiar taste. 
True, I was happier than I am, while yet 
Manhood remained to act the thing I thought; 
While lust was sweeter than revenge; and now 
Invention palls: — Ay, we must all grow old — 
And but that there yet remains a deed to act 
Whose horror might make sharp an appetite 
Duller than mine — I'd do — I know not what. 
When I was young I thought of nothing else 
But pleasure; and I fed on honey sweets: 
Men, by St. Thomas! cannot live like bees. 
And I grew tired: — yet, till I killed a foe. 
And heard his groans, and heard his children's groans, 
Knew I not what delight was else on earth. 
Which now delights me Uttle. I the rather 
Look on such pangs as terror ill conceals. 
The dry fixed eyeball; the pale quivering lip. 
Which tell me that the spirit weeps within 
Tears bitterer than the bloody sweat of Christ. 
I rarely kill the body, which preserves, 
Like a strong prison, the soul within my power, 
Wherein I feed it with the breath of fear 
For hourly pain. 



THE CENCI 285 

Camillo. Hell's most abandoned fiend 

Did never, in the drunkenness of guilt, 
Speak to his heart as now you speak to me; 
I thank my God that I believe you not. 

Enter Andrea 

Andrea. My Lord, a gentleman from Salamanca 
Would speak with you. 

Cenci. Bid him attend me in the grand saloon. 

[Exit Andrea. 

Camillo. Farewell; and I will pray 
Almighty God that thy false, impious words 
Tempt not his spirit to abandon thee. \Exit Camillo. 

Cenci. The third of my possessions! I must use 
Close husbandry, or gold, the old man's sword. 
Falls from my withered hand. But yesterday 
There came an order from the Pope to make 
Fourfold provision for my cursed sons; 
Whom I had sent from Rome to Salamanca, 
Hoping some accident might cut them off; 
And meaning if I could to starve them there, 
I pray thee, God, send some quick death upon them! 
Bernardo and my wife could not be worse 
If dead and damned: — then, as to Beatrice — 

{Loo\ing around him suspiciously.) 
I think they cannot hear me at that door; 
What if they should ? And yet I need not speak 
Though the heart triumphs with itself in words. 
O, thou most silent air, that shalt not hear 
What now I think! Thou, pavement, which I tread 
Towards her chamber, — let your echoes talk 
Of my imperious step scorning surprise. 
But not of my intent! — Andrea! 

Enter Andrea 
Andrea. My lord? 

Cenci. Bid Beatrice attend me in her chamber 
This evening: — no, at midnight and alone. [Exeunt. 



286 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

Scene II. — A Garden in the Cenci Palace 
Enter Beatrice and Orsino, as in conversation 

Beatrice. Pervert not truth, 
Orsino. You remember where we held 
That conversation; — nay, we see the spot 
Even from this cypress; — two long years are past 
Since, on an April midnight, underneath 
The moonlight ruins of mount Palatine, 
I did confess to you my secret mind. 

Orsino. You said you loved me then. 

Beatrice. You are a Priest, 
Speak to me not of love. 

Orsino. I may obtain 
The dispensation of the Pope to marry. 
Because I am a Priest do you believe 
Your image, as the hunter some struck deer, 
Follows me not whether I wake or sleep ? 

Beatrice. As I have said, speak to me not of love: 
Had you a dispensation I have not; 
Nor will I leave this home of misery 
Whilst my poor Bernard, and that gentle lady 
To whom I owe life, and these virtuous thoughts, 
Must suffer what I still have strength to share. 
Alas, Orsino! All the love that once 
I felt for you, is turned to bitter pain. 
Ours was a youthful contract, which you first 
Broke, by assuming vows no Pope will loose. 
And thus I love you still, but holily, 
Even as a sister or a spirit might; 
And so I swear a cold fidelity. 
And it is well perhaps we shall not marry. 
You have a sly, equivocating vein 
That suits me not. — Ah, wretched that I am! 
Where shall I turn ? Even now you look on me 
As you were not my friend, and as if you 
Discovered that I thought so, with false smiles 



THE CENCI 287 

Making my true suspicion seem your wrong. 
Ah no! forgive me; sorrow makes me seem 
Sterner than else my nature might have been; 
I have a weight of melancholy thoughts, 
And they forbode, — but what can they forbode 
Worse than I now endure? 

Orsino. All will be well. 

Is the petition yet prepared? You know 
My zeal for all you wish, sweet Beatrice; 
Doubt not but I will use my utmost skill 
So that the Pope attend to your complaint. 

Beatrice. Your zeal for all I wish; — Ah me, you are cold! 
Your utmost skill . . . speak but one word . . . {aside) Alas! 
Weak and deserted creature that I am. 

Here I stand bickering with my only friend! [To Orsino. 

This night my father gives a sumptuous feast, 
Orsino; he has heard some happy news 
From Salamanca, from my brothers there. 
And with this outward show of love he mocks 
His inward hate. 'Tis bold hypocrisy. 
For he would gladlier celebrate their deaths, 
Which I have heard him pray for on his knees: 
Great God! that such a father should be mine! 
But there is mighty preparation made, 
And all our kin, the Cenci, will be there, 
And all the chief nobility of Rome. 
And he has bidden me and my pale Mother 
Attire ourselves in festival array. 
Poor lady! She expects some happy change 
In his dark spirit from this act; I none. 
At supper I will give you the petition: 
Till when — farewell. 

Orsino. Farewell. {Exit Beatrice.) I know the Pope 
Will ne'er absolve me from my priestly vow 
But by absolving me from the revenue 
Of many a wealthy see; and, Beatrice, 
I think to win thee at an easier rate. 



288 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

Nor shall he read her eloquent petition : 

He might bestow her on some poor relation 

Of his sixth cousin, as he did her sister, 

And I should be debarred from all access. 

Then as to what she suffers from her father, 

In all this there is much exaggeration: — 

Old men are testy and will have their way; 

A man may stab his enemy, or his vassal. 

And live a free life as to wine and women, 

And with a peevish temper may return 

To a dull home, and rate his wife and children; 

Daughters and wives call this foul tyranny. 

I shall be well content if on my conscience 

There rest no heavier sin than what they suffer 

From the devices of my love — A net 

From which she shall escape not. Yet I fear 

Her subtle mind, her awe-inspiring gaze. 

Whose beams anatomise me nerve by nerve 

And lay me bare, and make me blush to see 

My hidden thoughts. — Ah, no! A friendless girl 

Who clings to me, as to her only hope: — 

I were a fool, not less than if a panther 

Were panic-stricken by the antelope's eye, 

If she escape me. [Exit. 

Scene III. — A Magnificent Hall in the Cenci Palace. A Banquet 
Enter Cenci, Lucretia, Beatrice, Orsino, Camillo, Nobles 

Cenci. Welcome, my friends and kinsmen; welcome ye, 
Princes and Cardinals, pillars of the church, 
Whose presence honours our festivity. 
I have too long Hved like an anchorite. 
And in my absence from your merry meetings 
An evil word is gone abroad of me; 
But I do hope that you, my noble friends. 
When you have shared the entertainment here. 
And heard the pious cause for which 'tis given, 



THE CENCI 289 

And we have pledged a health or two together, 
Will think me flesh and blood as well as you; 
Sinful indeed, for Adam made all so, 
But tender-hearted, meek and pitiful. 

First Guest. In truth. My Lord, you seem too light of heart. 
Too sprightly and companionable a man, 
To act the deeds that rumour pins on you. 
{To his companion.) I never saw such blithe and open cheer 
In any eye! 

Second Guest. Some most desired event, 
In which we all demand a common joy. 
Has brought us hither; let us hear it. Count. 

Cenci. It is indeed a most desired event. 
If, when a parent from a parent's heart 
Lifts from this earth to the great father of all 
A prayer, both when he lays him down to sleep. 
And when he rises up from dreaming it; 
One supplication, one desire, one hope, 
That he would grant a wish for his two sons. 
Even all that he demands in their regard — 
And suddenly beyond his dearest hof)e. 
It is accomplished, he should then rejoice, 
And call his friends and kinsmen to a feast. 
And task their love to grace his merriment. 
Then honour me thus far — for I am he. 

Beatrice (to Lucretia). Great God! How horrible! Some 
dreadful ill 
Must have befallen my brothers. 

Lucretia. Fear not, Child, 

He sjjeaks too frankly. 

Beatrice. Ah! My blood runs cold. 

I fear that wicked laughter round his eye, 
Which wrinkles up the skin even to the hair. 

Cenci. Here are the letters brought from Salamanca; 
Beatrice, read them to your mother. God! 
I thank thee! In one night didst thou perform. 
By ways inscrutable, the thing I sought. 



290 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

My disobedient and rebellious sons 

Are dead! — Why, dead! — What means this change of cheer? 

You hear me not, I tell you they are dead ; 

And they will need no food or raiment more: 

The tapers that did light them the dark way 

Are their last cost. The Pope, I think, will not 

Expect I should maintain them in their coffins. 

Rejoice with me — my heart is wondrous glad. 

[LucRETiA sinl{s, half -fainting; Beatrice supports her, 
Beatrice. It is not true! — Dear lady, pray look up. 

Had it been true, there is a God in Heaven, 

He would not Uve to boast of such a boon. 

Unnatural man, thou knowest that it is false. 
Cenci. Ay, as the word of God; whom here I call 

To witness that I speak the sober truth; — 

And whose most favouring Providence was shown 

Even in the manner of their deaths. For Rocco 

Was kneeling at the mass, with sixteen others, 

When the church fell and crushed him to a mummy, 

The rest escaped unhurt. Cristofano 

Was stabbed in error by a jealous man, 

Whilst she he loved was sleeping with his rival; 

All in the self-same hour of the same night; 

Which shows that Heaven has special care of me. 

I beg those friends who love me, that they mark 

The day a feast upon their calendars. 

It was the twenty-seventh of December: 

Ay, read the letters if you doubt my oath. 

[ The Assembly appears confused; several of the guests rise. 
First Guest. Oh, horrible! I will depart — 
Second Guest. And I. — 

Third Guest. No, stay! 

I do believe it is some jest; tho' faith! 

'Tis mocking us somewhat too solemnly. 

I think his son has married the Infanta, 

Or found a mine of gold in El Dorado; 

'Tis but to season some such news; stay, stay! 



THE CENCI 291 

I see 'tis only raillery by his smile. 

Cenci (^filling a bowl of wine, and lifting it up). Oh, thou 
bright wine whose purple splendour leaps 
And bubbles gaily in this golden bowl 
Under the lamp-light, as my spirits do, 
To hear the death of my accursed sons! 
Could I believe thou wert their mingled blood, 
Then would I taste thee like a sacrament, 
And pledge with thee the mighty Devil in Hell, 
Who, if a father's curses, as men say, 
Climb with swift wings after their children's souls. 
And drag them from the very throne of Heaven, 
Now triumphs in my triumph! — But thou art 
Superfluous; I have drunken deep of joy, 
And I will taste no other wine to-night. 
Here, Andrea! Bear the bowl around. 

A Guest {rising). Thou wretchi 

Will none among this noble company 
Check the abandoned villain ? 

Camillo. For God's sake 

Let me dismiss the guests! You are insane. 
Some ill will come of this. 

Second Guest. Seize, silence him! 

First Guest. I will! 

Third Guest. And I! 

Cenci {addressing those who rise with a threatening gesture). 

Who moves? Who speaks? 
{turning to the Company) 
'tis nothing, 
Enjoy yourselves. — Beware! For my revenge 
Is as the sealed commission of a king 
That kills, and none dare name the murderer. 

[The Banquet is brol{en up; several of the Guests are 
departing. 

Beatrice. I do entreat you, go not, noble guests; 
What, although tyranny and impious hate 
Stand sheltered by a father's hoary hair, 



292 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

What, if 'tis he who clothed us in these Umbs 
Who tortures them, and triumphs? What, if we. 
The desolate and the dead, were his own flesh, 
His children and his wife, whom he is bound 
To love and shelter ? Shall we therefore find 
No refuge in this merciless wide world? 

think what deep wrongs must have blotted out 
First love, then reverence in a child's prone mind, 
Till it thus vanquish shame and fear! O think! 

1 have borne much, and kissed the sacred hand 
Which crushed us to the earth, and thought its stroke 
Was perhaps some paternal chastisement! 

Have excused much, doubted; and when no doubt 

Remained, have sought by patience, love, and tears 

To soften him, and when this could not be 

I have knelt down through the long sleepless nights 

And lifted up to God, the father of all. 

Passionate prayers: and when these were not heard 

I have still borne, — until I meet you here, 

Princes and kinsmen, at this hideous feast 

Given at my brothers' deaths. Two yet remain, 

His wife remains and I, whom if ye save not. 

Ye may soon share such merriment again 

As fathers make over their children's graves. 

O Prince Colonna, thou art our near kinsman. 

Cardinal, thou art the Pope's chamberlain, 

Camillo, thou art chief justiciary. 

Take us away! 
Cenci. {He has been conversing with Camillo during the 
first part of Beatrice's speech; he hears the conclusion, 
and now advances.) I hope my good friends here 

Will think of their own daughters — or perhaps 

Of their own throats — before they lend an ear 

To this wild girl. 
Beatrice {not noticing the words of Cenci). Dare no one 
look on me? 

None answer? Can one tyrant overbear 



THE CENCI 293 

The sense of many best and wisest men? 
Or is it that I sue not in some form 
Of scrupulous law, that ye deny my suit? 
O God! That I were buried with my brothersi 
And that the flowers of this departed spring 
Were fading on my grave! And that my father 
Were celebrating now one feast for all! 

Camillo. A bitter wish for one so young and gentle; 
Can we do nothing? 

Colonna. Nothing that I see. 

Count Cenci were a dangerous enemy: 
Yet I would second any one. 

A Cardinal. And I. 

Cenci. Retire to your chamber, insolent girl! 

Beatrice. Retire thou impious man! Ay, hide thyself 
Where never eye can look upon thee more! 
Wouldst thou have honour and obedience 
Who art a torturer? Father, never dream 
Though thou mayst overbear this company, 
But ill must come of ill. — Frown not on me! 
Haste, hide thyself, lest with avenging looks 
My brothers' ghosts should hunt thee from thy seati 
Cover thy face from every living eye, 
And start if thou but hear a human step. 
Seek out some dark and silent corner, there 
Bow thy white head before offended God, 
And we will kneel around, and fervently 
Pray that he pity both ourselves, and thee. 

Cenci. My friends, I do lament this insane girl 
Has spoilt the mirth of our festivity. 
Good night, farewell; I will not make you longer 
Spectators of our dull domestic quarrels. 
Another time. — [Exeunt all but Cenci and Beatrice. 

My brain is swimming round; 
Give me a bowl of wdnel [To Beatrice. 

Thou painted viper! 
Beast that thou art! Fair and yet terrible! 



294 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

I know a charm shall make thee meek and tame, 

Now get thee from my sight! [Exit Beatrice. 

Here, Andrea, 
Fill up this goblet with Greek wine. I said 
I would not drink this evening; but I must; 
For, strange to say, I feel my spirits fail 
With thinking what 1 have decreed to do. — 

\Drin\ing the wine. 
Be thou the resolution of quick youth 
Within my veins, and manhood's purpose stern. 
And age's firm, cold, subtle villainy; 
As if thou wert indeed my children's blood 
Which I did thirst to drink! The charm works well; 
It must be done; it shall be done, I swear! [Exit. 

ACT II 

Scene I. — An Apartment in the Cenci Palace 
Enter Lucretia and Bernardo 

Lticretia. Weep not, my gentle boy; he struck but me 
Who have borne deeper wrongs. In truth, if he 
Had killed me, he had done a kinder deed. 
O, God Almighty, do thou look upon us, 
We have no other friend but only thee! 
Yet weep not; though I love you as my own, 
I am not your true mother. 

Bernardo. O more, more, 

Than ever mother was to any child. 
That have you been to me! Had he not been 
My father, do you think that I should weep! 

LMcretia. Alas! Poor boy, what else couldst thou have done? 

Enter Beatrice 

Beatrice {in a hurried voice). Did he pass this way.' Have 
you seen him, brother.'' 
Ah! No, that is his step upon the stairs; 
'Tis nearer now; his hand is on the door; 



THE CENCI 295 

Mother, if I to thee have ever been 

A duteous child, now save me! Thou, great God, 

Whose image upon earth a father is, 

Dost thou indeed abandon me? He comes: 

The door is opening now; I see his face; 

He frowns on others, but he smiles on me. 

Even as he did after the feast last night. 

Enter a Servant 

Almighty God, how merciful thou art I 

'Tis but Orsino's servant. — Well, what news? 

Servant. My master bids me say, the Holy Father 
Has sent back your petition thus unopened. {Giving a paper. 
And he demands at what hour 'twere secure 
To visit you again? 

LMcretia. At the Ave Mary. 

[Exit Servant. 
So daughter, our last hope has failed; Ah me! 
How pale you look; you tremble, and you stand 
Wrapped in some fixed and fearful meditation. 
As if one thought were over strong for you : 
Your eyes have a chill glare; O, dearest child! 
Are you gone mad ? If not, pray speak to me. 

Beatrice. You see I am not mad: I sp)eak to you. 

Lucretia. You talked of something that your father did 
After that dreadful feast ? Could it be worse 
Than when he smiled, and cried. My sons are deadi 
And every one looked in his neighbour's face 
To see if others were as white as he? 
At the first word he spoke I felt the blood 
Rush to my heart, and fell into a trance; 
And when it passed I sat all weak and wild; 
Whilst you alone stood up, and with strong words 
Checked his unnatural pride; and I could see 
The devil was rebuked that lives in him. 
Until this hour thus have you ever stood 
Between us and your father's moody wrath 



296 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

Like a protecting presence: your firm mind 
Has been our only refuge and defence. 
What can have thus subdued it? What can now 
Have given you that cold melancholy look, 
Succeeding to your unaccustomed fear? 

Beatrice. What is it that you say? I was just thinking 
'Twere better not to struggle any more. 
Men, like my father, have been dark and bloody, 
Yet never — Oh! Before worse comes of it 
'Twere wise to die: it ends in that at last. 

Lucretia. O talk not so, dear child! Tell me at once 
What did your father do or say to you ? 
He stayed not after that accursed feast 
One moment in your chamber. — Speak to me. 

Bernardo. O sister, sister, prithee, speak to us! 

Beatrice {spea/^ing very slowly with a forced calmness). It 
was one word. Mother, one little word; 
One look, one smile. (^Wildly.) Oh! He has trampled me 
Under his feet, and made the blood stream down 
My pallid cheeks. And he has given us all 
Ditch water, and the fever-stricken flesh 
Of buffaloes, and bade us eat or starve, 
And we have eaten. — He has made me look 
On my beloved Bernardo, when the rust 
Of heavy chains has gangrened his sweet limbs, 
And I have never yet despaired — but now! 
What could I say? [Recovering herself. 

Ah! No, 'tis nothing new. 
The sufferings we all share have made me wild: 
He only struck and cursed me as he passed; 
He said, he looked, he did; — nothing at all 
Beyond his wont, yet it disordered me. 
Alas! I am forgetful of my duty, 
I should preserve my senses for your sake. 

LMcretia. Nay, Beatrice! have courage, my sweet girl, 
If any one despairs it should be I 
Who loved him once, and now must live with him 



THE CENCI 297 

Till God in pity call for him or me. 

For you may, like your sister, find some husband, 

And smile, years hence, with children round your knees; 

Whilst I, then dead, and all this hideous coil 

Shall be remembered only as a dream. 

Beatrice. Talk not to me, dear lady, of a husband. 
Did you not nurse me when my mother died ? 
Did you not shield me and that dearest boy ? 
And had we any other friend but you 
In infancy, with gentle words and looks, 
To win our father not to murder us? 
And shall I now desert you? May the ghost 
Of my dead Mother plead against my soul 
If I abandon her who filled the place 
She left, with more, even, than a mother's love! 

Bernardo. And I am of my sister's mind. Indeed 
I would not leave you in this wretchedness. 
Even though the Pope should make me free to live 
In some blithe place, like others of my age, 
With sports, and delicate food, and the fresh air. 
O never think that I will leave you, Mother! 

Lucretia. My dear, dear children! 

Enter Cenci suddenly 

Cenci. What, Beatrice here! 

Come hither! [She shrinks back^, and covers her face. 

Nay, hide not your face, 'tis fair; 
Look up! Why, yesternight you dared to look 
With disobedient insolence upon me. 
Bending a stern and an inquiring brow 
On what I meant; whilst I then sought to hide 
That which I came to tell you — but in vain. 

Beatrice {wildly, staggering towards the door). O that the 
earth would gape! Hide me, O God! 

Cenci. Then it was I whose inarticulate words 
Fell from my lips, and who with tottering steps 
Fled from your presence, as you now from mine. 



298 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

Stay, I command you — from this day and hour 
Never again, I think, with fearless eye, 
And brow superior, and unaltered cheek, 
And that lip made for tenderness or scorn, 
Shalt thou strike dumb the meanest of mankind; 
Me least of all. Now get thee to thy chamber! 
Thou too, loathed image of thy cursed mother, 

[To Bernardo. 
Thy milky, meek face makes me sick with hate! 

[Exeunt Beatrice and Bernardo. 
(Aside.) So much has past between us as must make 
Me bold, her fearful. — 'Tis an awful thing 
To touch such mischief as I now conceive: 
So men sit shivering on the dew^ bank. 
And try the chill stream with their feet; once in . . . 
How the delighted spirit pants for joy! 

Lucretia {advancing timidly towards him). O husband! 
Pray forgive poor Beatrice. 
She meant not any ill. 

Cenci. Nor you perhaps? 

Nor that young imp, whom you have taught by rote 
Parricide with his alphabet? Nor Giacomo? 
Nor those two most unnatural sons, who stirred 
Enmity up against me with the Pope? 
Whom in one night merciful God cut off: 
Innocent lambs! They thought not any ill. 
You were not here conspiring? You said nothing 
Of how I might be dungeoned as a madman; 
Or be condemned to death for some offence, 
And you would be the witnesses? — This failing. 
How just it were to hire assassins, or 
Put sudden poison in my evening drink? 
Or smother me when overcome by wine? 
Seeing we had no other judge but God, 
And he had sentenced me, and there were none 
But you to be the executioners 
Of his decree enregistered in heaven? 



THE CENCI 299 

Oh, no! You said not this? 

LMcretia. So help me God, 

I never thought the things you charge me with! 

Cenci. If you dare speak that wicked Ue again 
I'll kill you. What! It was not by your counsel 
That Beatrice disturbed the feast last night? 
You did not hope to stir some enemies 
Against me, and escape, and laugh to scorn 
What every nerve of you now trembles at? 
You judged that men were bolder than they are; 
Few dare to stand between their grave and me. 

Lucretia. Look not so dreadfully! By my salvation 
I knew not aught that Beatrice designed; 
Nor do I think she designed any thing 
Until she heard you talk of her dead brothers. 

Cenci. Blaspheming Uar! You are damned for this! 
But I will take you where you may persuade 
The stones you tread on to deliver you: 
For men shall there be none but those who dare 
All things — not question that which I command. 
On Wednesday next I shall set out: you know 
That savage rock, the Castle of Petrella: 
'Tis safely walled, and moated round about: 
Its dungeons underground, and its thick towers 
Never told tales; though they have heard and seen 
What might make dumb things speak. — Why do you linger? 
Make speediest preparation for the journey! [Exit Lucretia. 
The all-beholding sun yet shines; I hear 
A busy stir of men about the streets; 
I see the bright sky through the window panes: 
It is a garish, broad, and peering day; 
Loud, Hght, suspicious, full of eyes and ears. 
And every little corner, nook, and hole 
Is penetrated with the insolent light. 
Come darkness! Yet, what is the day to me? 
And wherefore should I wish for night, who do 
A deed which shall confound both night and day? 



300 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

'Tis she shall grope through a bewildering mist 

Of horror: if there be a sun in heaven 

She shall not dare to look upon its beams; 

Nor feel its warmth. Let her then wish for night; 

The act I think shall soon extinguish all 

For me: I bear a darker deadlier gloom 

Than the earth's shade, or interlunar air, 

Or constellations quenched in murkiest cloud. 

In which I walk secure and unbeheld 

Towards my purpose. — Would that it were done! [Exit. 

Scene II. — A Chamber in the Vatican 
Enter Camillo and Giacomo, in conversation 

Camilla. There is an obsolete and doubtful law 
By which you might obtain a bare provision 
Of food and clothing — 

Giacomo. Nothing more? Alas! 

Bare must be the provision which strict law 
Awards, and aged, sullen avarice pays. 
Why did my father not apprentice me 
To some mechanic trade? I should have then 
Been trained in no highborn necessities 
Which I could meet not by my daily toil. 
The eldest son of a rich nobleman 
Is heir to all his incapacities; 
He has wide wants, and narrow powers. If you, 
Cardinal Camillo, were reduced at once 
From thrice-driven beds of down, and delicate food, 
An hundred servants, and six palaces. 
To that which nature doth indeed require? — 

Camillo. Nay, there is reason in your plea; 'twere hard. 

Giacomo. 'Tis hard for a firm man to bear: but I 
Have a dear wife, a lady of high birth. 
Whose dowry in ill hour I lent my father 
Without a bond or witness to the deed: 
And children, who inherit her fine senses, 



THE CENCI 301 

The fairest creatures in this breathing world; 
And she and they reproach me not. Cardinal, 
Do you not think the Pope would interpose 
And stretch authority beyond the law? 

Camillo. Though your peculiar case is hard, I know 
The Pope will not divert the course of law. 
After that impious feast the other night 
I spoke with him, and urged him then to check 
Your father's cruel hand; he frowned and said, 
"Children are disobedient, and they sting 
Their fathers' hearts to madness and despair, 
Requiting years of care with contumely. 
I pity the Count Cenci from my heart; 
His outraged love perhaps awakened hate, 
And thus he is exasperated to ill. 
In the great war between the old and young 
I, who have white hairs and a tottering body, 
Will keep at least blameless neutraHty." 

Enter Orsino 

You, my good Lord Orsino, heard those words. 

Orsino. What words? 

Giacomo. Alas, repyeat them not again! 
There then is no redress for me, at least 
None but that which I may achieve myself, 
Since I am driven to the brink. — But, say. 
My innocent sister and my only brother 
Are dying underneath my father's eye. 
The memorable torturers of this land, 
Galeaz Visconti, Borgia, Ezzelin, 
Never inflicted on the meanest slave 
What these endure; shall they have no protection? 

Camillo. Why, if they would petition to the Pope 
I see not how he could refuse it — yet 
He holds it of most dangerous example 
In aught to weaken the paternal power. 
Being, as 'twere, the shadow of his own. 



302 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

I pray you now excuse me. I have business 

That will not bear delay. [Exit Camillo. 

Giacomo. But you, Orsino, 

Have the petition : wherefore not present it ? 

Orsino. I have presented it, and backed it with 
My earnest prayers, and urgent interest; 
It was returned unanswered. I doubt not 
But that the strange and execrable deeds 
Alleged in it — in truth they might well baffle 
Any belief — have turned the Pope's displeasure 
Upon the accusers from the criminal: 
So I should guess from what Camillo said. 

Giacomo. My friend, that palace-walking devil Gold 
Has whispered silence to his Holiness: 
And we are left, as scorpions ringed with fire. 
What should we do but strike ourselves to death ? 
For he who is our murderous persecutor 
Is shielded by a father's holy name, 
Or I would — {Stops abruptly.) 

Orsino. What? Fear not to speak your thought. 

Words are but holy as the deeds they cover: 
A priest who has forsworn the God he serves; 
A judge who makes Truth weep at his decree; 
A friend who should weave counsel, as I now. 
But as the mantle of some selfish guile; 
A father who is all a tyrant seems. 
Were the profaner for his sacred name. 

Giacomo. Ask me not what I think; the unwilling brain 
Feigns often what it would not; and we trust 
Imagination with such phantasies 
As the tongue dares not fashion into words. 
Which have no words, their horror makes them dim 
To the mind's eye. — My heart denies itself 
To think what you demand. 

Orsino. But a friend's bosom 

Is as the inmost cave of our own mind 
Where we sit shut from the wide gaze of day, 



THE CENCI 303 

And from the all<ommunicating air. 
You look what I suspected — 

Giacomo, Spare me now! 

I am as one lost in a midnight wood, 
Who dares not ask some harmless passenger 
The path across the wilderness, lest he. 
As my thoughts are, should be — a murderer. 
I know you are my friend, and all I dare 
Speak to my soul that will I trust with thee. 
But now my heart is heavy, and would take 
Lone counsel from a night of sleepless care. 
Pardon me, that I say farewell — farewell! 
I would that to my own suspected self 
I could address a word so full of peace. 

Orsino. Farewell! — Be your thoughts better or more 

bold. \^Exit Giacomo. 

I had disposed the Cardinal Camillo 
To feed his hope with cold encouragement: 
It fortunately serves my close designs 
That 'tis a trick of this same family 
To analyse their own and other minds. 
Such self-anatomy shall teach the will 
Dangerous secrets: for it tempts our powers. 
Knowing what must be thought, and may be done. 
Into the depth of darkest purposes: 
So Cenci fell into the pit; even I, 
Since Beatrice unveiled me to myself, 
And made me shrink from what I cannot shun. 
Show a poor figure to my own esteem. 
To which 1 grow half reconciled. I'll do 
As little mischief as I can; that thought 
Shall fee the accuser conscience. 

{After a pause.) Now what harm 

If Cenci should be murdered.? — ^Yet, if murdered. 
Wherefore by me? And what if I could take 
The profit, yet omit the sin and peril 
In such an action.? Of all earthly things 



304 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

I £ear a man whose blows outspeed his words; 

And such is Cenci: and while Cenci lives 

His daughter's dowry were a secret grave 

If a priest wins her. — Oh, fair Beatrice! 

Would that I loved thee not, or loving thee 

Could but despise danger and gold and all 

That frowns between my wish and its effect. 

Or smiles beyond it! There is no escape . . . 

Her bright form kneels beside me at the altar. 

And follows me to the resort of men. 

And fills my slumber with tumultuous dreams. 

So when 1 wake my blood seems liquid fire; 

And if I strike my damp and dizzy head 

My hot palm scorches it: her very name, 

But spoken by a stranger, makes my heart 

Sicken and pant; and thus unprofitably 

I clasp the phantom of unfelt delights 

Till weak imagination half possesses 

The self-created shadow. Yet much longer 

Will I not nurse this life of feverous hours: 

From the unravelled hopes of Giacomo 

I must work out my own dear purposes. 

I see, as from a tower, the end of all: 

Her father dead; her brother bound to me 

By a dark secret, surer than the grave; 

Her mother scared and unexpostulating 

From the dread manner of her wish achieved: 

And she! — Once more take courage my faint heart; 

What dares a friendless maiden matched with thee? 

I have such foresight as assures success: 

Some unbeheld divinity doth ever. 

When dread events are near, stir up men's minds 

To black suggestions; and he prospers best, 

Not who becomes the instrument of ill. 

But who can flatter the dark spirit, that makes 

Its empire and its prey of other hearts 

Till it become his slave ... as I will do. [Exit. 



THE CENCI 305 

ACT III 

Scene I. — An Apartment in the Cenci Palace 
LucRETiA, to her enter Beatrice 

Beatrice. (She enters staggering, and spea\s wildly.) 
Reach me that handkerchief! — My brain is hurt; 
My eyes are full of blood; just wipe them for me . . . 
I see but indistinctly . . . 

Lucretia. My sweet child, 

You have no wound; 'tis only a cold dew 
That starts from your dear brow . . . Alas! Alas! 
What has befallen? 

Beatrice. How comes this hair undone? 

Its wandering strings must be what blind me so, 
And yet I tied it fast. — O, horrible! 
The pavement sinks under my feet! The walls 
Spin round! I see a woman weeping there, 
And standing calm and motionless, whilst I 
Slide giddily as the world reels. . . . My God! 
The beautiful blue heaven is flecked with blood! 
The sunshine on the floor is black! The air 
Is changed to vapours such as the dead breathe 
In charnel pits! Pah! I am choked! There creeps 
A clinging, black, contaminating mist 
About me . . . 'tis substantial, heavy, thick, 
I cannot pluck it from me, for it glues 
My fingers and my limbs to one another. 
And eats into my sinews, and dissolves 
My flesh to a jxjllution, pxjisoning 
The subtle, pure, and inmost spirit of life! 
My God! I never knew what the mad felt 
Before; for I am mad beyond all doubt! 
{More wildly.) No, I am dead! These putrefying limbs 
Shut round and sepulchre the panting soul 
Which would burst forth into the wandering air! {A pause.) 
What hideous thought was that I had even now? 
Tis gone; and yet its burthen remains here 



306 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

O'er these dull eyes . . . upon this weary heart! 
0, world! O, life! O, day! O, misery! 

Lucretia. What ails thee, my poor child ? She answers not : 
Her spirit apprehends the sense of pain, 
But not its cause; suflering has dried away 
The source from which it sprung . . . 

Beatrice (frantically). Like Parricide . . . 

Misery has killed its father: yet its father 
Never like mine . • . O, God! What thing am I? 

Lucretia. My dearest child, what has your father done? 

Beatrice (doubtfully). Who art thou, questioner? I have no 
father. 
(Aside.) She is the madhouse nurse who tends on me. 
It is a piteous office. 

(To Lucretia, in a slow, subdued voice.) Do you know 
I thought I was that wretched Beatrice 
Men speak of, whom her father sometimes hales 
From hall to hail by the entangled hair; 
At others, pens up naked in damp cells 
Where scaly reptiles crawl, and starves her there. 
Till she will eat strange flesh. This woful story 
So did I overact in my sick dreams. 
That I imagined . . . no, it cannot be! 
Horrible things have been in this wild world, 
Prodigious mixtures, and confusions strange 
Of good and ill; and worse have been conceived 
Than ever there was found a heart to do. 
But never fancy imaged such a deed 
As . . . (Pauses, suddenly recollecting herself.) 

Who art thou? Swear to me, ere I die 
With fearful expectation, that indeed 
Thou art not what thou seemest . . . Mother! 

Lucretia. Oh! 

My sweet child, know you . . . 

Beatrice. Yet speak it not: 

For then if this be truth, that other too 
Must be a truth, a firm enduring truth, 



THE CENCI 307 

Linked with each lasting circumstance of life, 

Never to change, never to pass away. 

Why so it is. This is the Cenci Palace; 

Thou art Lucretia; I am Beatrice. 

I have talked some wild words, but will no more. 

Mother, come near me: from this point of time, 

I am . . . {Her voice dies away faintly.) 

Lucretia. Alas! What has befallen thee, child? 
What has thy father done? 

Beatrice. What have I done? 

Am I not innocent? Is it my crime 
That one with white hair and imperious brow, 
Who tortured me from my forgotten years 
As parents only dare, should call himself 
My father, yet should be! — Oh, what am I? 
What name, what place, what memory shall be mine? 
What retrospects, outliving even despair? 

Lucretia. He is a violent tyrant, surely, child : 
We know that death alone can make us free; 
His death or ours. But what can he have done 
Of deadlier outrage or worse injury? 
Thou art unlike thyself; thine eyes shoot forth 
A wandering and strange spirit. Speak to me. 
Unlock those pallid hands whose fingers twine 
With one another. 

Beatrice. 'Tis the restless life 

Tortured within them. If I try to speak 
1 shall go mad. Ay, something must be done; 
What, yet I know not . . . something which shall make 
The thing that I have suffered but a shadow 
In the dread lightning which avenges it; 
Brief, rapid, irreversible, destroying 
The consequence of what it cannot cure. 
Some such thing is to be endured or done: 
When I know what, I shall be still and calm. 
And never any thing will move me more. 
But now! — Oh blood, which art my father's blood, 



308 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

Circling thro' these contaminated veins, 
If thou, poured forth on the polluted earth, 
Could wash away the crime, and punishment 
By which 1 suffer . . . no, that cannot be! 
Many might doubt there were a God above 
Who sees and permits evil, and so die: 
That faith no agony shall obscure in me. 

Lucretia. It must indeed have been some bitter wrong; 
Yet what, I dare not guess. Oh, my lost child. 
Hide not in proud impenetrable grief 
Thy sufferings from my fear. 

Beatrice. I hide them not. 

What are the words which you would have me speak? 
I, who can feign no image in my mind 
Of that which has transformed me : I, whose thought 
Is like a ghost shrouded and folded up 
In its own formless horror: of all words, 
That minister to mortal intercourse. 
Which wouldst thou hear ? For there is none to tell 
My misery: if another ever knew 
Aught like to it, she died as I will die. 
And left it, as I must, without a name. 
Death! Death! Our law and our religion call thee 
A punishment and a reward . . . Oh, which 
Have I deserved.'' 

Lucretia. The peace of innocence; 

Till in your season you be called to heaven. 
Whate'er you may have suffered, you have done 
No evil. Death must be the punishment 
Of crime, or the reward of trampling down 
The thorns which God has strewed upon the path 
Which leads to immortaUty. 

Beatrice. Ay, death . . . 

The punishment of crime. I pray thee, God, 
Let me not be bewildered while I judge. 
If I must live day after day, and keep 
These limbs, the unworthy temple of thy spirit, 



THE CENCl 309 

As a foul den from which what thou abhorrest 
May mock thee, unavenged ... it shall not be! 
Self-murder . . . no, that might be no escape. 
For thy decree yawns like a Hell between 
Our will and it: — O! In this mortal world 
There is no vindication and no law 
Which can adjudge and execute the doom 
Of that through which I suffer. 

Enter Orsino 
(She approaches him solemnly.) Welcome, Friend! 
I have to tell you that, since last we met, 
I have endured a wrong so great and strange, 
That neither life nor death can give me rest. 
Ask me not what it is, for there are deeds 
Which have no form, sufferings which have no tongue. 

Orsino. And what is he who has thus injured you? 

Beatrice. The man they call my father: a dread name. 

Orsino. It cannot be . . . 

Beatrice. What it can be, or not. 

Forbear to think. It is, and it has been; 
Advise me how it shall not be again. 
I thought to die; but a religious awe 
Restrains me, and the dread lest death itself 
Might be no refuge from the consciousness 
Of what is yet unexpiated. Oh, speak I 

Orsino. Accuse him of the deed, and let the law 
avenge thee. 

Beatrice. Oh, ice-hearted counsellor! 
If I could find a word that might make known 
The crime of my destroyer; and that done. 
My tongue should like a knife tear out the secret 
Which cankers my heart's core; ay, lay all bare 
So that my unpolluted fame should be 
With vilest gossips a stale mouthed story; 
A mock, a bye-word, an astonishment: — 
If this were done, which never shall be done, 



310 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

Think of the offender's gold, his dreaded hate 
And the strange horror of the accuser's tale, 
Baffling belief, and overpowering speech; 
Scarce whispered, unimaginable, wrapt 
In hideous hints . . . Oh, most assured redress! 

Orsino. You will endure it then? 

Beatrice. Endure? — Orsino, 

It seems your counsel is small profit. 

{Turns from him, and spea/{s half to herself.) 

Ay, 
All must be suddenly resolved and done. 
What is this undistinguishable mist 
Of thoughts, which rise, like shadow after shadow, 
Darkening each other ? 

Orsino. Should the offender live? 

Triumph in his misdeed? and make, by use, 
His crime, whate'er it is, dreadful no doubt. 
Thine element; until thou mayest become 
Utterly lost; subdued even to the hue 
Of that which thou permittest? 

Beatrice (to herself). Mighty death! 

Thou double-visaged shadow? Only judge! 
Rightfullest arbiter! 

(She retires absorbed in thought.) 

Lucretia. If the lightning 

Of God has e'er descended to avenge . . . 

Orsino. Blaspheme not! His high Providence commits 
Its glory on this earth, and their own wrongs 
Into the hands of men; if they neglect 
To punish crime . . . 

Lucretia. But if one, like this wretch, 
Should mock, with gold, opinion, law, and power? 
If there be no appeal to that which makes 
The guiltiest tremble ? If because our wrongs. 
For that they are unnatural, strange, and monstrous. 
Exceed all measure of belief? O God! 
If, for the very reasons which should make 



THE CENCI 311 

Redress most swift and sure, our injurer triumphs? 
And we, the victims, bear worse punishment 
Than that appointed for their torturer? 

Orsino. Think not 

But that there is redress where there is wrong, 
So we be bold enough to seize it. 

Lucretia. How? 

If there were any way to make all sure, 
I know not . . . but I think it might be good 
To . . . 

Orsino. Why, his late outrage to Beatrice; 
For it is such, as I but faintly guess. 
As makes remorse dishonour, and leaves her 
Only one duty, how she may avenge: 
You, but one refuge from ills ill endured; 
Me, but one counsel . . . 

Lucretia. For we cannot hope 

That aid, or retribution, or resource 
Will arise thence, where every other one 
Might find them with less need. (Beatrice advances.) 

Orsino. Then . . . 

Beatrice. Peace, Orsino! 

And, honoured Lady, while I speak, I pray 
That you put off, as garments overworn, 
Forbearance and respect, remorse and fear. 
And all the fit restraints of daily life. 
Which have been borne from childhood, but which 

now 
Would be a mockery to my holier plea. 
As I have said, I have endured a wrong, 
Which, though it be expressionless, is such 
As asks atonement; both for what is past, 
And lest I be reserved, day after day. 
To load with crimes an overburthened soul, 
And be . . . what ye can dream not. I have prayed 
To God, and I have talked with my own heart. 
And have unravelled my entangled will. 



312 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

And have at length determined what is right. 
Art thou my friend, Orsino? False or true? 
Pledge thy salvation ere I speak. 

Orsino. I swear 

To dedicate my cunning, and my strength, 
My silence, and whatever else is mine. 
To thy commands. 

Lucretia. You think we should devise 

His death? 

Beatrice. And execute what is devised, 
And suddenly. We must be brief and bold. 

Orsino. And yet most cautious. 

Lucretia. For the jealous laws 

Would punish us with death and infamy 
For that which it became themselves to do. 

Beatrice. Be cautious as ye may, but prompt. 

Orsino, 
What are the means? 

Orsino. I know two dull, fierce outlaws, 

Who think man's spirit as a worm's, and they 
Would trample out, for any slight caprice, 
The meanest or the noblest life. This mood 
Is marketable here in Rome. They sell 
What we now want. 

iMcretia. To-morrow before dawn, 

Cenci will take us to that lonely rock, 
Petrella, in the Apulian Apennines. 
If he arrive there . . . 

Beatrice. He must not arrive. 

Orsino. Will it be dark before you reach the tower? 

Lucretia. The sun will scarce be set. 

Beatrice. But I remember 

Two miles on this side of the fort, the road 
Crosses a deep ravine; 'tis rough and narrow, 
And winds with short turns down the precipice; 
And in its depth there is a mighty rock. 
Which has, from unimaginable years. 
Sustained itself with terror and with toil 



THE CENCI 313 

Over a gulph, and with the agony 
With which it clings seems slowly coming down; 
Even as a wretched soul hour after hour, 
Clings to the mass of life; yet clinging, leans; 
And leaning, makes more dark the dread abyss 
In which it fears to fall : beneath this crag 
Huge as despair, as if in weariness, 
The melancholy mountain yawns . . . below, 
You hear but see not an impetuous torrent 
Raging among the caverns, and a bridge 
Crosses the chasm; and high above there grow, 
With intersecting trunks, from crag to crag, 
Cedars, and yews, and pines; whose tangled hair 
Is matted in one solid roof of shade 
By the dark ivy's twine. At noonday here 
'Tis twilight, and at sunset blackest night. 

Orsino. Before you reach that bridge make some excuse 
For spurring on your mules, or loitering 
Until . . . 

Beatrice. What sound is that ? 

Lucretia. Hark! No, it cannot be a servant's step; 
It must be Cenci, unexpectedly 
Returned . . . Make some excuse for being here. 

Beatrice. (To Orsino, as she goes out.) That step we hear 
approach must never pass 
The bridge of which we spoke. 

[Exeunt Lucretia and Beatrice. 

Orsino. What shall I do? 

Cenci must find me here, and I must bear 
The imperious inquisition of his looks 
As to what brought me hither : let me mask 
Mine own in some inane and vacant smile. 

Enter Giacomo, in a hurried manner 

How! Have you ventured hither? Know you thea 
That Cenci is from home ? 

Giacomo. I sought him here; 

And now must wait till he returns. 



314 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

Orsino. Great God! 

Weigh you the danger of this rashness ? 

Giacomo. Ay! 

Does my destroyer know his danger? We 
Are now no more, as once, parent and child. 
But man to man; the oppressor to the oppressed; 
The slanderer to the slandered; foe to foe: 
He has cast Nature off, which was his shield, 
And Nature casts him off, who is her shame; 
And I spurn both. Is it a father's throat 
Which I will shake, and say, I ask not gold; 
I ask not happy years; nor memories 
Of tranquil childhood; nor home-sheltered love; 
Though all these hast thou torn from me, and more; 
But only my fair fame; only one hoard 
Of peace, which I thought hidden from thy hate, 
Under the penury heaped on me by thee. 
Or I will . . . God can understand and pardon. 
Why should I speak with man? 

Orsino. Be calm, dear friend. 

Giacomo. Well, I will calmly tell you what he did. 
This old Francesco Cenci, as you know. 
Borrowed the dowry of my wife from me, 
And then denied the loan; and left me so 
In poverty, the which I sought to mend 
By holding a poor office in the state. 
It had been promised to me, and already 
I bought new clothing for my ragged babes, 
And my wife smiled; and my heart knew repose. 
When Cenci's intercession, as I found. 
Conferred this office on a wretch, whom thus 
He paid for vilest service. I returned 
With this ill news, and we sate sad together 
Solacing our despondency with tears 
Of such affection and unbroken faith 
As temper life's worst bitterness; when he. 
As he is wont, came to upbraid and curse. 



THE CENCI 315 

Mocking our poverty, and telling us 

Such was God's scourge for disobedient sons. 

And then, that I might strike him dumb with shame 

I spoke of my wife's dowry; but he coined 

A brief yet specious tale, how I had wasted 

The sum in secret riot; and he saw 

My wife was touched, and he went smiling forth. 

And when I knew the impression he had made. 

And felt my wife insult with silent scorn 

My ardent truth, and look averse and cold, 

I went forth too: but soon returned again; 

Yet not so soon but that my wife had taught 

My children her harsh thoughts, and they all cried, 

"Give us clothes, father! Give us better food! 

What you in one night squander were enough 

For months!" I looked, and saw that home was hell. 

And to that hell will I return no more 

Until mine enemy has rendered up 

Atonement, or, as he gave life to me 

I will, reversing nature's law . . . 

Orsino. Trust me. 

The compensation which thou seekest here 
Will be denied. 

Giacomo. Then . . . Are you not my friend? 
Did you not hint at the alternative. 
Upon the brink of which you see I stand. 
The other day when we conversed together ? 
My wrongs were then less. That word parricide, 
Although I am resolved, haunts me like fear. 

Orsino. It must be fear itself, for the bare word 
Is hollow mockery. Mark, how wisest God 
Draws to one point the threads of a just doom. 
So sanctifying it: what you devise 
Is, as it were, accomplished. 

Giacomo. Is he dead ? 

Orsino. His grave is ready. Know that since we met. 
Cenci has done an outrage to his daughter. 



3l6 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

Giacomo. What outrage ? 

Orsino. That she speaks not, but you may 
Conceive such half conjectures as I do, 
From her fixed paleness, and the lofty grief 
Of her stern brow bent on the idle air, 
And her severe unmodulated voice. 
Drowning both tenderness and dread; and last 
From this; that whilst her step-mother and I, 
Bewildered in our horror, talked together 
With obscure hints; both self-misunderstood 
And darkly guessing, stumbling, in our talk, 
Over the truth, and yet to its revenge, 
She interrupted us, and with a look 
Which told before she spoke it, he must die: . . . 

Giacomo. It is enough. My doubts are well appeased; 
There is a higher reason for the act 
Than mine; there is a holier judge than me, 
A more unblamed avenger. Beatrice, 
Who in the gentleness of thy sweet youth 
Hast never trodden on a worm, or bruised 
A living flower, but thou hast pitied it 
With needless tears! Fair sister, thou in whom 
Men wondered how such loveliness and wisdom 
Did not destroy each other! Is there made 
Ravage of thee ? O, heart, I ask no more 
Justification! Shall I wait, Orsino, 
Till he return, and stab him at the door? 

Orsino. Not so; some accident might interpose 
To rescue him from what is now most sure; 
And you are unprovided where to fly. 
How to excuse or to conceal. Nay, listen: 
All is contrived; success is so assured 
That . . . 

Enter Beatrice 

Beatrice. 'Tis my brother's voice! You know me not? 
Giacomo. My sister, my lost sister! 



THE CENCI 317 

Beatrice. Lost indeed! 

I see Orsino has talked with you, and 
That you conjecture things too horrible 
To speak, yet far less than the truth. 

Now, stay not. 
He might return: yet kiss me; I shall know 
That then thou hast consented to his death. 
Farewell, farewell! Let piety to God, 
Brotherly love, justice and clemency. 
And all things that make tender hardest hearts 
Make thine hard, brother. Answer not . . . farewell. 

[Exeunt severally. 

Scene II. — A mean Apartment in Giacomo's House 
GiACOMO alone 

Giacomo. 'Tis midnight, and Orsino comes not yet. 

[Thunder, and the sound of a storm. 
What! can the everlasting elements 
Feel with a worm like man ? If so the shaft 
Of mercy-winged lightning would not fall 
On stones and trees. My wife and children sleep: 
They are now living in unmeaning dreams: 
But I must wake, still doubting if that deed 
Be just which was most necessary. O, 
Thou unreplenished lamp! whose narrow fire 
Is shaken by the wind, and on whose edge 
Devouring darkness hovers! Thou small flame. 
Which, as a dying pulse rises and falls, 
Still flickerest up and down, how very soon, 
Did I not feed thee, wouldst thou fail and be 
As thou hadst never been! So wastes and sinks 
Even now, perhaps, the life that kindled mine: 
But that no power can fill with vital oil 
That broken lamp of flesh. Ha! 'tis the blood 
Which fed these veins that ebbs till all is cold: 
It is the form that moulded mine that sinks 
Into the white and yellow spasms of death: 



3l8 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

It is the soul by which mine was arrayed 

In God's immortal likeness which now stands 

Naked before Heaven's judgment seat! 

(A bell stril{es.) One! Two! 

The hours crawl on ; and when my hairs are white, 
My son will then perhaps be waiting thus, 
Tortured between just hate and vain remorse; 
Chiding the tardy messenger of news 
Like those which I expect. I almost wish 
He be not dead, although my wrongs are great; 
Yet ... 'tis Orsino's step . . . 

Enter Orsino 

Speak! 

Orsino. I am come 

To say he has escaped. 

Giacomo. Escaped! 

Orsino. And safe 

Within Petrella. He past by the spot 
Appointed for the deed an hour too soon. 

Giacomo. Are we the fools of such contingencies? 
And do we waste in blind misgivings thus 
The hours when we should act? Then wind and thunder, 
Which seemed to howl his knell, is the loud laughter 
With which Heaven mocks our weakness! I henceforth 
Will ne'er repent of aught designed or done 
But my repentance. 

Orsino. See, the lamp is out. 

Giacomo. If no remorse is ours when the dim air 
Has drank this innocent flame, why should we quail 
When Cenci's Hfe, that light by which ill spirits 
See the worst deeds they prompt, shall sink for ever? 
No, I am hardened. 

Orsino. Why, what need of this? 
Who feared the pale intrusion of remorse 
In a just deed? Altho' our first plan failed, 
E>oubt not but he will soon be laid to rest. 
But light the lamp; let us not talk i' the dark. 



THE CENCI 319 

Giacomo {lighting the lamp). And yet once quenched I 
cannot thus relume 
My father's Ufe: do you not think his ghost 
Might plead that argument with God? 

Orsino. Once gone 

You cannot now recall your sister's peace; 
Your own extinguished years of youth and hope; 
Nor your wife's bitter words; nor all the taunts 
Which, from the prosperous, weak misfortune takes; 
Nor your dead mother; nor . . . 

Giacomo. O, speak no more! 

I am resolved, although this very hand 
Must quench the life that animated it. 

Orsino. There is no need of that. Listen: you know 
Olimpio, the castellan of Petrella 
In old Colonna's time; him whom your father 
Degraded from his post? And Marzio, 
That desperate wretch, whom he deprived last year 
Of a reward of blood, well earned and due ? 

Giacomo. I knew Olimpio; and they say he hated 
Old Cenci so, that in his silent rage 
His lips grew white only to see him pass. 
Of Marzio I know nothing. 

Orsino. Marzio's hate 

Matches Olimpio's. I have sent these men, 
But in your name and as at your request, 
To talk with Beatrice and Lucretia. 

Giacomo. Only to talk ? 

Orsino. The moments which even now 
Pass onward to to-morrow's midnight hour 
May memorise their flight with death: ere then 
They must have talked, and may perhaps have done 
And made an end . . , 

Giacomo. Listen! What sound is that? 

Orsino. The house-dog moans, and the beams crack nought 
else. 

Giacomo. It is my wife complaining in her sleep: 
I doubt not she is saying bitter things 



320 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

Of me; and all my children round her dreaming 
That I deny them sustenance. 

Orsino. Whilst he 

Who truly took it from them, and who fills 
Their hungry rest with bitterness, now sleeps 
Lapped in bad pleasures, and triumphantly 
Mocks thee in visions of successful hate 
Too like the truth of day. 

Giacomo. If e'er he wakes 

Again, I will not trust to hireling hands . . . 

Orsino. Why, that were well. I must be gone; good-night: 
When next we meet — may all be done! 

Giacomo. And all 

Forgotten: Oh, that I had never oeen! 

[Exeunt. 

ACT IV 

Scene I. — An Apartment in the Castle of Petrella 

Enter Cenci 

Cenci. She comes not; yet I left her even now 
Vanquished and faint. She knows the penalty 
Of her delay: yet what if threats are vain.? 
Am I not now within Petrella's moat.? 
Or fear I still the eyes and ears of Rome ? 
Might I not drag her by the golden hair? 
Stamp on her.? Keep her sleepless till her brain 
Be overworn.? Tame her with chains and famine? 
Less would suffice. Yet so to leave undone 
What I most seek! No, 'tis her stubborn will 
Which by its own consent shall stoop as low 
As that which drags it down. 

Enter Lucretia 

Thou loathed wretch! 
Hide thee from my abhorrence; fly, begone! 
Yet stay! Bid Beatrice come hither. 



THE CENCI 321 

LMcretia. Oh, 

Husband! I pray for thine own wretched sake 
Heed what thou dost. A man who walks Hke thee 
Thro' crimes, and thro' the danger of his crimes. 
Each hour may stumble o'er a sudden grave. 
And thou art old; thy hairs are hoary gray; 
As thou wouldst save thyself from death and hell, 
Pity thy daughter; give her to some friend 
In marriage: so that she may tempt thee not 
To hatred, or worse thoughts, if worse there be. 

Cenci. What! like her sister who has found a home 
To mock my hate from with prosperity ? 
Strange ruin shall destroy both her and thee 
And all that yet remain. My death may be 
Rapid, her destiny outsjDeeds it. Go, 
Bid her come hither, and before my mood 
Be changed, lest I should drag her by the hair. 

Liicretia. She sent me to thee, husband. At thy presence 
She fell, as thou dost know, into a trance; 
And in that trance she heard a voice which said, 
"Cenci must die! Let him confess himself! 
Even now the accusing Angel waits to hear 
If God, to punish his enormous crimes. 
Harden his dying heart!" 

Cenci, Why — such things are . . . 
No doubt divine revealings may be made. 
'Tis plain I have been favoured from above, 
For when I cursed my sons they died. — Ay . . . so . . . 
As to the right or wrong that's talk . . . repentance . . . 
Repentance is an easy moment's work 
And more depends on God than me. Well . . . well . . . 
I must give up the greater point, which was 
To poison and corrupt her soul. 

\A pause; Lucretia approaches anxiously, and then shrinl^s 
bacJ{ as he speal^s. 

One, two; 
Ay . . . Rocco and Cristofano my curse 



322 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

Strangled: and Giacomo, I think, will find 

Life a worse Hell than that beyond the grave: 

Beatrice shall, if there be skill in hate, 

Die in despair, blaspheming : to Bernardo, 

He is so innocent, I will bequeath 

The memory of these deeds, and make his youth 

The sepulchre of hope, where evil thoughts 

Shall grow like weeds on a neglected tomb. 

When all is done, out in the wide Campagna, 

I will pile up my silver and my gold; 

My costly robes, paintings and tapestries; 

My parchments and all records of my wealth, 

And make a bonfire in my joy, and leave 

Of my possessions nothing but my name; 

Which shall be an inheritance to strip 

Its wearer bare as infamy. That done. 

My soul, which is a scourge, will I resign 

Into the hands of him who wielded it; 

Be it for its own punishment or theirs, 

He will not ask it of me till the lash 

Be broken in its last and deepest wound; 

Until its hate be all inflicted. Yet, 

Lest death outspeed my purpose, let me make 

Short work and sure . . . [Going. 

Lucretia. (Stops him.) Oh, stay! It was a feint: 
She had no vision, and she heard no voice. 
I said it but to awe thee. 

Cenci. That is well. 

Vile palterer with the sacred truth of God, 
Be thy soul choked with that blaspheming lie! 
For Beatrice worse terrors are in store 
To bend her to my will. 

Lucretia. Oh! to what will? 

What cruel sufferings more than she has known 
Canst thou inflict? 

Cenci. Andrea! Go call my daughter. 
And if she comes not tell her that I come. 
What sufferings? I will drag her, step by step, 



THE CENCI 323 

Thro' infamies unheard of among men : 

She shall stand shelterless in the broad noon 

Of public scorn, for acts blazoned abroad, 

One among which shall be . . . What ? Canst thou guess ? 

She shall become (for what she most abhors 

Shall have a fascination to entrap 

Her loathing will) to her own conscious self 

All she appears to others; and when dead, 

As she shall die unshrived and unforgiven, 

A rebel to her father and her God, 

Her corpse shall be abandoned to the hounds; 

Her name shall be the terror of the earth; 

Her spirit shall approach the throne of God 

Plague-spotted with my curses. I will make 

Body and soul a monstrous lump of ruin. 

Enter Andrea 

Andrea. The Lady Beatrice . . . 

Cenci. Speak, pale slave! What 

Said she? 

Andrea. My lord, 'twas what she looked; she said: 
"Go tell my father that I see the gulf 
Of Hell between us two, which he may pass, 
I will not." [Exit Andrea, 

Cenci. Go thou quick, Lucretia, 
Tell her to come; yet let her understand 
Her coming is consent: and say, moreover. 
That if she come not I will curse her. [Exit Lucretia. 

Ha! 
With what but with a father's curse doth God 
Panic-strike armed victory, and make pale 
Cities in their prosperity? The world's Father 
Must grant a parent's prayer against his child, 
Be he who asks even what men call me. 
Will not the deaths of her rebellious brothers 
Awe her before I speak ? For I on them 
Did imprecate quick ruin, and it came. 



324 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

Enter Lucretia 

Well; what? Speak, wretchl 

Lucretia. She said, "I cannot come; 
Go tell my father that I see a torrent 
Of his own blood raging between us." 

Cenci (^l^neeling). God! 

Hear me! If this most specious mass of flesh, 
Which thou hast made my daughter; this my blood, 
This particle of my divided being; 
Or rather, this my bane and my disease. 
Whose sight infects and poisons me; this devil 
Which sprung from me as from a hell, was meant 
To aught good use; if her bright loveliness 
Was kindled to illumine this dark world; 
If nursed by thy selectcst dew of love 
Such virtues blossom in her as should make 
The peace of life, I pray thee for my sake, 
As thou the common God and Father art 
Of her, and me, and all; reverse that doom! 
Earth, in the name of God, let her food be 
Poison, until she be encrusted round 
With leprous stains! Heaven, rain upon her head 
The blistering drops of the Maremma's dew, 
Till she be speckled like a toad; parch up 
Those love-enkindled lips, warp those fine limbs 
To loathed lameness! All-beholding sun. 
Strike in thine envy those life-darting eyes 
With thine own blinding beams! 

Lucretia. Peace! Peace! 

For thine own sake unsay those dreadful words. 
When high God grants he punishes such prayers. 

Cenci {leaping up, and throwing his right hand towards 
Heaven). He does his will, I mine! This in addition, 
That if she have a child . . . 

Lucretia. Horrible thought! 

Cenci. That if she ever have a child; and thou. 



THE CENCI 325 

Quick Nature! I adjure thee by thy God, 

That thou be fruitful in her, and increase 

And multiply, fulfilling his command, 

And my deep imprecation! May it be 

A hideous likeness of herself, that as 

From a distorting mirror, she may see 

Her image mixed with what she most abhors. 

Smiling upon her from her nursing breast. 

And that the child may from its infancy 

Grow, day by day, more wicked and deformed. 

Turning her mother's love to misery: 

And that both she and it may live until 

It shall repay her care and pain with hate, 

Or what may else be more unnatural. 

So he may hunt her through the clamorous scoffs 

Of the loud world to a dishonoured grave. 

Shall I revoke this curse ? Go, bid her come. 

Before my words are chronicled in Heaven. [Exit Lucretia. 

I do not feel as if I were a man, 

But like a fiend appointed to chastise 

The offences of some unremembered world. 

My blood is running up and down my veins; 

A fearful pleasure makes it prick and tingle: 

I feel a giddy sickness of strange awe; 

My heart is beating with an expectation 

Of horrid joy. 

Enter Lucretia 
What? Speak! 

Lucretia. She bids thee curse; 

And if thy curses, as they cannot do, 
Could kill her soul . . . 

Cenci. She would not come. "Tis well, 
I can do both: first take what I demand, 
And then extort concession. To thy chamber! 
Fly ere I spurn thee: and beware this night 
That thou cross not my footsteps. It were safer 
To come between the tiger and his prey. [Exit Lucretia. 



326 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

It must be late; mine eyes grow weary dim 

With unaccustomed heaviness of sleep. 

Conscience! Oh, thou most insolent of lies! 

They say that sleep, that healing dew of Heaven, 

Steeps not in balm the foldings of the brain 

Which thinks thee an impostor. I will go 

First to belie thee with an hour of rest, 

Which will be deep and calm, I feel: and then . . . 

O, multitudinous Hell, the fiends will shake 

Thine arches with the laughter of their joy I 

There shall be lamentation heard in Heaven 

As o'er an angel fallen and upon Earth 

All good shall droop and sicken, and ill things 

Shall with a spirit of unnatural life 

Stir and be quickened . . . even as I am now. [Exit. 

Scene II. — Before the Castle of Petrella 
Enter Beatrice and Lucretia above on the Ramparts 

Beatrice. They come not yet. 

Lucretia. 'Tis scarce midnight. 

Beatrice. How slow 

Behind the course of thought, even sick with speed, 
Lags leaden footed time! 

Lucretia. The minutes pass . . . 

If he should wake before the deed is done? 

Beatrice. O, mother! He must never wake again. 
What thou hast said persuades me that our act 
Will but dislodge a spirit of deep hell 
Out of a human form. 

Lucretia. 'Tis true he spoke 

Of death and judgment with strange confidence 
For one so wicked; as a man believing 
In God, yet recking not of good or ill. 
And yet to die without confession! . . . 

Beatrice. Oh! 

Believe that Heaven is merciful and just, 



THE CENCI 327 

And will not add our dread necessity 
To the amount of his offences. 

Enter Olimpio and Marzio, below 

Lucretia. See, 

They come. 

Beatrice. All mortal things must hasten thus 
To their dark end. Let us go down. 

[Exeunt Lucretia and Beatrice from above. 

Olimpio. How feel you to this work? 

Marzio. As one who thinks 

A thousand crowns excellent market price 
For an old murderer's life. Your cheeks are pale. 

Olimpio. It is the white reflection of your own, 
Which you call pale. 

Marzio. Is that their natural hue.? 

Olimpio. Or 'tis my hate and the deferred desire 
To wreak it, which extinguishes their blood. 

Marzio. You are inclined then to this business? 

Olimpio. Ay. 

If one should bribe me with a thousand crowns 
To kill a serpent which had stung my child, 
I could not be more willing. 

Enter Beatrice and Lucretia, below 
Noble ladiesl 

Beatrice. Are ye resolved? 

Olimpio. Is he asleep ? 

Marzio. Is all 

Quiet? 

Lucretia. I mixed an opiate with his drink : 
He sleeps so soundly , . . 

Beatrice. That his death will be 

But as a change of sin-chastising dreams, 
A dark continuance of the Hell within him, 
Which God extinguish! But ye are resolved? 
Ye know it is a high and holy deed? 



328 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

Olimpio. We are resolved. 

Marzio. As to the how this act 

Be warranted, it rests with you. 

Beatrice. Well, follow! 

Olimpio. Hush! Hark! What noise is that? 

Marzio. Ha! some one comes! 

Beatrice. Ye conscience-stricken cravens, rock to rest 
Your baby hearts. It is the iron gate, 
Which ye left open, swinging to the wind. 
That enters whistling as in scorn. Come, follow! 
And be your steps like mine, light, quick and bold. [Exeunt. 

Scene III. — An Apartment in the Castle 
Enter Beatrice and Lucretia 

LMcretia. They are about it now. 

Beatrice. Nay, it is done. 

Lucretia. I have not heard him groan. 

Beatrice. He will not groan. 

Lucretia. What sound is that? 

Beatrice. List! 'tis the tread of feet 

About his bed. 

Lucretia. My God! 
If he be now a cold stiff corpse . . . 

Beatrice. O, fear not 

What may be done, but what is left undone: 
The act seals all. 





Enter Olimpio and Marzio 




Is it accomplished ? 


Marzio. 


What? 


Olimpio. 


Did you not call ? 


Beatrice. 


When? 


Olimpio. 


Now. 



Beatrice. I ask if all is over? 

Olimpio. We dare not kill an old and sleeping man; 
His thin gray hair, his stern and reverent brow. 



THE CENCI 329 

His veined hands crossed on his heaving breast, 
And the calm innocent sleep in which he lay, 
Quelled me. Indeed, indeed, I cannot do it. 

Marzio. But I was bolder; for I chid Olimpio, 
And bade him bear his wrongs to his own grave 
And leave me the reward. And now my knife 
Touched the loose wrinkled throat, when the old man 
Stirred in his sleep, and said, "God! hear, O, hear, 
A father's curse! What, art thou not our father?" 
And then he laughed. I knew it was the ghost 
Of my dead father speaking through his Hps, 
And could not kill him. 

Beatrice. Miserable slaves! 

Where, if ye dare not kill a sleeping man, 
Found ye the boldness to return to me 
With such a deed undone? Base palterers! 
Cowards and traitors! Why, the very conscience 
Which ye would sell for gold and for revenge 
Is an equivocation: it sleeps over 
A thousand daily acts disgracing men; 
And when a deed where mercy insults Heaven . . . 
Why do I talk? 

[Snatching a dagger from one of them and raising it. 
Hadst thou a tongue to say. 
She murdered her own father, I must do it! 
But never dream ye shall outlive him long! 

Olimpio. Stop, for God's sake! 

Marzio. I will go back and kill him. 

Olimpio. Give me the weapon, we must do thy will. 

Beatrice. Take it! Depart! Return! 

[Exeunt Olimpio and Marzio. 
How pale thou art! 
We do but that which 'twere a deadly crime 
To leave undone. 

Lucretia. Would it were done! 

Beatrice. Even whilst 

That doubt is passing through your mind, the world 



330 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

Is conscious of a change. Darkness and Hell 
Have swallowed up the vapour they sent forth 
To blacken the sweet light of life. My breath 
Comes, methinks, lighter, and the jellied blood 
Runs freely thro' my veins. Hark! 

Enter Olimpio and Marzio 

He is . . . 
Olimpio, Dead! 

Marzio. We strangled him that there might be no blood; 
And then we threw his heavy corpse i' the garden 
Under the balcony; 'twill seem it fell. 
Beatrice {giving them a bag of coin). Here, take this gold 
and hasten to your homes. 
And, Marzio, because thou wast only awed 
By that which made me tremble, wear thou this! 

[ Clothes him in a rich mantle. 
It was the mande which my grandfather 
Wore in his high prosperity, and men 
Envied his state: so may they envy thine. 
Thou wert a weapon in the hand of God 
To a just use. Live long and thrive! And, mark, 
If thou hast crimes, repent: this deed is none. 

\_A horn is sounded. 
Lucretia. Hark, 'tis the castle horn; my God! it sounds 
Like the last trump. 
Beatrice. Some tedious guest is coming. 

Lucretia. The drawbridge is let down; there is a tramp 
Of horses in the court; fly, hide yourselves! 

[Exeunt Olimpio and Marzio. 
Beatrice. Let us retire to counterfeit deep rest; 
I scarcely need to counterfeit it now: 
The spirit which doth reign within these limbs 
Seems strangely undisturbed. I could even sleep 
Fearless and calm: all ill is surely past. [Exeunt. 



THE CENCI 331 

Scene IV. — Another Apartment in the Castle 

Enter on one side the Legate Savella, introduced by a Servant, 
and on the other Lucretia and Bernardo 

Savella. Lady, my duty to his Holiness 
Be my excuse that thus unseasonably 
1 break upon your rest. 1 must speak with 
Count Cenci; doth he sleep? 

LMcretia {in a hurried and confused manner). I think he 
sleeps; 
Yet wake him not, I pray, spare me awhile, 
He is a wicked and a wrathful man; 
Should he be roused out of his sleep to-night, 
Which is, I know, a hell of angry dreams, 
It were not well; indeed it were not well. 
Wait till day break . . . {aside) O, I am deadly sick! 

Savella. I grieve thus to distress you, but the Count 
Must answer charges of the gravest import. 
And suddenly; such my commission is. 

Lucretia {with increased agitation). 1 dare not rouse him: 
I know none who dare . . . 
'Twere perilous; . . . you might as safely waken 
A serpent; or a corpse in which some fiend 
Were laid to sleep. 

Savella. Lady, my moments here 

Are counted. I must rouse him from his sleep. 
Since none else dare. 

Lucretia {aside). O, terror! O, despair! 
{To Bernardo.) Bernardo, conduct you the Lord Legate to 
Your father's chamber. [^Exeunt Savella and Bernardo. 

Enter Beatrice 

Beatrice. 'Tis a messenger 

Come to arrest the culprit who now stands 
Before the throne of unappealable God. 
Both Earth and Heaven, consenting arbiters. 
Acquit our deed. 



332 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

LMcretia. Oh, agony of £ear! 

Would that he yet might Uve! Even now I heard 
The Legate's followers whisper as they passed 
They had a warrant for his instant death. 
All was prepared by unforbidden means 
Which we must pay so dearly, having done. 
Even now they search the tower, and find the body; 
Now they suspect the truth; now they consult 
Before they come to tax us with the fact; 
O, horrible, 'tis all discovered! 

Beatrice. Mother, 

What is done wisely, is done well. Be bold 
As thou art just. 'Tis like a truant child 
To fear that others know what thou hast done. 
Even from thine own strong consciousness, and thus 
Write on unsteady eyes and altered cheeks 
All thou wouldst hide. Be faithful to thyself. 
And fear no other witness but thy fear. 
For if, as cannot be, some circumstance 
Should rise in accusation, we can blind 
Suspicion with such cheap astonishment, 
Or overbear it with such guiltless pride, 
As murderers cannot feign. The deed is done, 
And what may follow now regards not me. 
I am as universal as the light ; 
Free as the earth-surrounding air; as firm 
As the world's centre. Consequence, to me. 
Is as the wind which strikes the solid rock 
But shakes it not. 

[A cry within and tumult. 

Voices. Murder! Murder! Murder! 

Enter Bernardo and Savella 

Savella {to his jollourers). Go search the castle round; 
sound the alarm; 
Look to the gates that none escape! 
Beatrice. What now? 

Bernardo. I know not what to say . . . my father's dead. 



THE CENCI 333 

Beatrice. How; dead! he only sleeps; you mistake, brother. 
His sleep is very calm, very like death; 
*Tis wonderful how well a tyrant sleeps. 
He is not dead? 

Bernardo. Dead; murdered. 

Lucretia {with extreme agitation). Oh no, no. 
He is not murdered though he may be dead; 
I have alone the keys of those apartments. 

Sa fella. Ha! Is it so? 

Beatrice. My Lord, I pray excuse us; 

We will retire; my mother is not well: 
She seems quite overcome with this strange horror. 

[Exeunt Lucretia and Beatrice. 

Savella. Can you suspect who may have murdered him? 

Bernardo. I know not what to think. 

Savella. Can you name any 

Who had an interest in his death? 

Bernardo. Alas! 

I can name none who had not, and those most 
Who most lament that such a deed is done; 
My mother, and my sister, and myself. 

Savella. 'Tis strange! There were clear marks of violence. 
I found the old man's body in the moonlight 
Hanging beneath the window of his chamber, 
Among the branches of a pine: he could not 
Have fallen there, for all his limbs lay heaped 
And effortless; 'tis true there was no blood . . . 
Favour me, Sir; it much imports your house 
That all should be made clear; to tell the ladies 
That I request their presence. [Ex/V Bernardo. 

lEnter Guards bringing in Marzio 

Guard. We have one. 

Officer. My Lord, we found this ruffian and another 
Lurking among the rocks; there is no doubt 
But that they are the murderers of Count Cenci; 
Each had a bag of coin; this fellow wore 
A gold-inwoven robe, which shining bright 



334 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

Under the dark rocks to the glimmering moon 
Betrayed them to our notice : the other fell 
Desperately fighting. 

Savella. What does he confess? 

Officer. He keeps firm silence; but these lines found on him 
May speak. 

Savella. Their language is at least sincere. [Reads. 

"To THE Lady Beatrice. — That the atonement of what 
my nature sickens to conjecture may soon arrive, I send 
thee, at thy brother's desire, those who will speak and do 
more than I dare write. . . . Thy devoted servant, 

Orsino." 

Enter Lucretia, Beatrice, and Bernardo 
Knowest thou this writing. Lady ? 

Beatrice. No. 

Savella. Nor thou ? 

Lucretia. {Her conduct throughout the scene is marl^ed by 
extreme agitation.) Where was it found? What is it? 
It should be 
Orsino's hand! It speaks of that strange horror 
Which never yet found utterance, but which made 
Between that hapless child and her dead father 
A gulf of obscure hatred. 

Savella. Is it so? 

Is it true. Lady, that thy father did 
Such outrages as to awaken in thee 
Unfilial hate? 

Beatrice. Not hate, 'twas more than hate: 
This is most true, yet wherefore question me? 

Savella. There is a deed demanding question done; 
Thou hast a secret which will answer not. 

Beatrice. What sayest? My Lord, your words are bold and 
rash. 

Savella. I do arrest all present in the name 
Of the Pope's Holiness. You must to Rome. 

Lucretia. O, not to Rome. Indeed we are not guilty. 



THE CENCI 335 

Beatrice. Guilty! Who dares talk of guilt? My Lord, 
I am more innocent of parricide 
Than is a child born fatherless. . . . Dear mother, 
Your gentleness and patience are no shield 
For this keen-judging world, this two-edged lie, 
Which seems, but is not. What! will human laws, 
Rather will ye who are their ministers, 
Bar all access to retribution first, 
And then, when Heaven doth interpose to do 
What ye neglect, arming familiar things 
To the redress of an unwonted crime. 
Make ye the victims who demanded it 
Culprits? 'Tis ye are culprits! That poor wretch 
Who stands so pale, and trembling, and amazed. 
If it be true he murdered Cenci, was 
A sword in the right hand of justest God. 
Wherefore should I have wielded it? Unless 
The crimes which mortal tongue dare never name 
God therefore scruples to avenge. 

Savella. You own 

That you desired his death? 

Beatrice. It would have been 

A crime no less than his, if for one moment 
That fierce desire had faded in my heart. 
'Tis true I did believe, and hope, and pray. 
Ay, I even knew ... for God is wise and just, 
That some strange sudden death hung over him. 
'Tis true that this did happen, and most true 
There was no other rest for me on earth. 
No other hope in Heaven . . . now what of this? 

Savella. Strange thoughts beget strange deeds; and here are 
both: 
I judge thee not. 

Beatrice. And yet, if you arrest me. 

You are the judge and executioner 
Of that which is the life of life : the breath 
Of accusation kills an innocent name. 



336 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

And leaves for lame acquittal the poor life 
Which is a mask without it. 'Tis most false 
That I am guilty of foul parricide; 
Although I must rejoice, for j ustest cause, 
That other hands have sent my father's soul 
To ask the mercy he denied to me. 
Now leave us free; stain not a noble house 
With vague surmises of rejected crime; 
Add to our sufferings and your own neglect 
No heavier sum: let them have been enough: 
Leave us the wreck we have. 

Safclla. I dare not, Lady. 

I pray that you prepare yourselves for Rome: 
There the Pope's further pleasure will be known. 

LMcretia. O, not to Rome! O, take us not to Rome! 

Beatrice. Why not to Rome, dear mother ? There as here 
Our innocence is as an armed heel 
To trample accusation. God is there 
As here, and with his shadow ever clothes 
The innocent, the injured and the weak; 
And such are we. Cheer up, dear Lady, lean 
On me; collect your wandering thoughts. My Lord, 
As soon as you have taken some refreshment, 
And had all such examinations made 
Upon the spot, as may be necessary 
To the full understanding of this matter. 
We shall be ready. Mother; will you come? 

Lucretia. Ha! they will bind us to the rack, and wrest 
Self-accusation from our agony! 
Will Giacomo be there? Orsino? Marzio? 
All present; all confronted; all demanding 
Each from the other's countenance the thing 
Which is in every heart! O, misery! 

[She faints, and is borne out. 

Savella. She faints: an ill appearance, this. 

Beatrice. My Lord, 

She knows not yet the uses of the world. 



THE CENCI 337 

She fears that power is as a beast which grasps 

And loosens not: a snake whose look transmutes 

All things to guilt which is its nutriment. 

She cannot know how well the supine slaves 

Of blind authority read the truth of things 

When written on a brow of guilelessness: 

She sees not yet triumphant Innocence 

Stand at the judgment-seat of mortal man, 

A judge and an accuser of the wrong 

Which drags it there. Prepare yourself, my Lord; 

Our suite will join yours in the court below. [Exeunt. 

ACT V 
Scene I^ — An Apartment in Orsino's Palace 
Enter Orsino and Giacomo 

Giacomo. Do evil deeds thus quickly come to end.' 
O, that the vain remorse which must chastise 
Crimes done, had but as loud a voice to warn 
As its keen sting is mortal to avenge! 
O, that the hour when present had cast off 
The mantle of its mystery, and shown 
The ghastly form with which it now returns 
When its scared game is roused, cheering the hounds 
Of conscience to their prey! Alas! Alas! 
It was a wicked thought, a piteous deed, 
To kill an old and hoary-headed father. 

Orsino. It has turned out unluckily, in truth. 

Giacomo. To violate the sacred doors of sleep; 
To cheat kind nature of the placid death 
Which she prepares for overwearied age; 
To drag from Heaven an unrepentant soul 
Which might have quenched in reconciling prayers 
A life of burning crimes . . . 

Orsino. You cannot say 

I urged you to the deed. 

Giacomo. O, had I never 



33^ PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

Found in thy smooth and ready countenance 
The mirror of my darkest thoughts; hadst thou 
Never with hints and questions made me look 
Upon the monster of my thought, until 
It grew famiUar to desire . . . 

Orsino. 'Tis thus 

Men cast the blame of their unprosperous acts 
Uf)on the abettors of their own resolve; 
Or anything but their weak, guilty selves. 
And yet, confess the truth, it is the peril 
In which you stand that gives you this pale sickness 
Of penitence; confess 'tis fear disguised 
From its own shame that takes the mantle now 
Of thin remorse. What if we yet were safe? 

Giacomo. How can that be? Already Beatrice, 
Lucreda and the murderer are in prison. 
I doubt not oflScers are, whilst we speak, 
Sent to arrest us. 

Orsino. I have all prepared. 

For instant flight. We can escape even now. 
So we take fleet occasion by the hair. 

Giacomo. Rather expire in tortures, as I may. 
What! will you cast by self -accusing flight 
Assured conviction upon Beatrice? 
She, who alone in this unnatural work, 
Stands like God's angel ministered upon 
By fiends; avenging such a nameless wrong 
As turns black parricide to piety; 
Whilst we for basest ends ... I fear, Orsino, 
While I consider all your words and looks. 
Comparing them with your proposal now, 
That you must be a villain. For what end 
Could you engage in such a perilous crime, 
Training me on with hints, and signs, and smiles. 
Even to this gulf? Thou art no liar? No, 
Thou art a lie! Traitor and murderer! 
Coward and slave! But, no, defend thyself; [Drawing. 



THE CENCI 339 

Let the sword speak what the indignant tongue 
Disdains to brand thee with. 

Orsino. Put up your weapon. 

Is it the desperation of your fear 
Makes you thus rash and sudden with a friend, 
Now ruined for your sake? If honest anger 
Have moved you, know, that what I just proposed 
Was but to try you. As for me, I think. 
Thankless affection led me to this point, 
From which, if my firm temper could repent, 
I cannot now recede. Even whilst we speak 
The ministers of justice wait below: 
They grant me these brief moments. Now if you 
Have any word of melancholy comfort 
To speak to your pale wife, 'twere best to pass 
Out at the postern, and avoid them so. 

Giacomo, O, generous friend! How canst thou pardon me? 
Would that my life could purchase thine! 

Orsino. That wish 

Now comes a day too late. Haste; fare thee well! 
Hear'st thou not steps along the corridor? [£x/> Giacomo. 
I'm sorry for it; but the guards are waiting 
At his own gate, and such was my contrivance 
That I might rid me both of him and them. 
I thought to act a solemn comedy 
Upon the painted scene of this new world, 
And to attain my own peculiar ends 
By some such plot of mingled good and ill 
As other weave; but there arose a Power 
Which graspt and snapped the threads of my device 
And turned it to a net of ruin • . . Ha! 

[y4 shout is heard. 
Is that my name I hear proclaimed abroad ? 
But I will pass, wrapt in a vile disguise; 
Rags on my back, and a false innocence 
Upon my face, thro' the misdeeming crowd 
Which judges by what seems. 'Tis easy then 



340 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

For a new name and for a country new, 

And a new life, fashioned on old desires. 

To change the honours of abandoned Rome. 

And these must be the masks of that within. 

Which must remain unaltered . . . Oh, I fear 

That what is past will never let me rest! 

Why, when none else is conscious, but myself. 

Of my misdeeds, should my own heart's contempt 

Trouble me? Have 1 not the power to fly 

My own reproaches? Shall I be the slave 

Of . . . what? A word? which those of this false world 

Employ against each other, not themselves; 

As men wear daggers not for self-offence. 

But if I am mistaken, where shall I 

Find the disguise to hide me from myself, 

As now I skulk from every other eye? 

[Exit. 

Scene II. — A Hall of Justice 

Camillo, Judges, etc., are discovered seated; Marzio is led in 

First Judge. Accused, do you persist in your denial? 
I ask you, are you innocent, or guilty? 
I demand who were the participators 
In your offence? Speak truth and the whole truth. 

Marzio. My God! I did not kill him; I know nothing; 
Olimpio sold the robe to me from which 
You would infer my guilt. 

Second Judge. Away with him! 

First Judge. Dare you, with lips yet white from the rack's 
kiss 
Speak false? Is it so soft a questioner, 
That you would bandy lover's talk with it 
Till it wind out your life and soul? Away! 

Marzio. Spare me! O, spare! I will confess. 

First Judge. Then speak. 

Marzio. I strangled him in his sleep. 

First Judge. Who urged you to it? 



THE CENCI 341 

Marzio. His own son Giacomo, and the young prelate 
Orsino sent me to Petrella; there 
The ladies Beatrice and Lucretia 
Tempted me with a thousand crowns, and I 
And my companion forthwith murdered him. 
Now let me die. 

First Judge. This sounds as bad as truth. Guards, there. 
Lead forth the prisoner! 

Enter Lucretia, Beatrice, and Giacomo, guarded 

Look upon this man; 
When did you see him last? 

Beatrice. We never saw him. 

Marzio. You know me too well, Lady Beatrice. 

Beatrice. I know thee! How.? where.'* when? 

Marzio. You know 'twas I 

Whom you did urge with menaces and bribes 
To kill your father. When the thing was done 
You clothed me in a robe of woven gold 
And bade me thrive: how I have thriven, you see. 
You, my Lord Giacomo, Lady Lucretia, 
You know that what I speak is true. 

[Beatrice advances towards him; he covers his face, and 
shrinl{s bac^. 

O, dart 
The terrible resentment of those eyes 
On the dead earth! Turn them away from me! 
They wound: 'twas torture forced the truth. My Lords, 
Having said this let me be led to death. 

Beatrice. Poor wretch, I pity thee: yet stay awhile. 

Camillo. Guards, lead him not away. 

Beatrice. Cardinal Camillo, 

You have a good repute for gentleness 
And wisdom: can it be that you sit here 
To countenance a wicked farce like this ? 
When some obscure and trembling slave is dragged 
From sufferings which might shake the sternest heart 



342 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

And bade to answer, not as he believes, 

But as those may suspect or do desire 

Whose questions thence suggest their own reply : 

And that in peril of such hideous torments 

As merciful God spares even the damned. Speak now 

The thing you surely know, which is that you. 

If your fine frame were stretched upon that wheel, 

And you were told : "Confess that you did p)oison 

Your little nephew; that fair blue-eyed child 

Who was the loadstar of your life:" — and though 

All see, since his most swift and piteous death, 

That day and night, and heaven and earth, and time, 

And all the things hoped for or done therein 

Are changed to you, through your exceeding grief, 

Yet you would say, "I confess anything:" 

And beg from your tormentors, like that slave, 

The refuge of dishonourable death. 

I pray thee. Cardinal, that thou assert 

My innocence. 

Camillo {much moved). What shall we think, my Lords? 
Shame on these tears! I thought the heart was frozen 
Which is their fountain. I would pledge my soul 
That she is guiltless. 

Judge. Yet she must be tortured. 

Camillo. I would as soon have tortured mine own nephew 
(If he now lived he would be just her age; 
His hair, too, was her colour, and his eyes 
Like hers in shape, but blue and not so deep) 
As that most perfect image of God's love 
That ever came sorrowing upon the earth. 
She is as pure as speechless infancy! 

Judge. Well, be her purity on your head, my Lord, 
If you forbid the rack. His Holiness 
Enjoined us to pursue this monstrous crime 
By the severest forms of law; nay even 
To stretch a point against the criminals. 
The prisoners stand accused of parricide 



THE CENCI 343 

Upon such evidence as justifies 
Torture. 

Beatrice. What evidence? This man's? 

Judge. Even so. 

Beatrice. {To Marzio.) Come near. And who art thou thus 
chosen forth 
Out of the multitude of hving men 
To kill the innocent? 

Marzio. 1 am Marzio, 

Thy father's vassal. 

Beatrice. Fix thine eyes on mine; 

Answer to what I ask. 

(Turning to the Judges.) 
I prithee mark 
His countenance: unlike bold calumny 
Which sometimes dares not speak the thing it looks, 
He dares not look the thing he speaks, but bends 
His gaze on the blind earth. 

(To Marzio.) What! wilt thou say 

That I did murder my own father? 

Marzio. Oh I 

Spare me! My brain swims round ... I cannot speak . . . 
It was that horrid torture forced the truth. 
Take me away! Let her not look on mel 
I am a guihy miserable wretch, 
I have said all I know; now, let me die! 

Beatrice. My Lords, if by my nature I had been 
So stern, as to have planned the crime alleged, 
Which your suspicions dictate to this slave, 
And the rack makes him utter, do you think 
I should have left this two-edged instrument 
Of my misdeed; this man, this bloody knife 
With my own name engraven on the heft, 
Lying unsheathed amid a world of foes. 
For my own death? That with such horrible need 
For deepest silence, 1 should have neglected 
So trivial a precaution, as the making 



344 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

His tomb the keeper of a secret written 
On a thief's memory? What is his poor life? 
What are a thousand \i\es} A parricide 
Had trampled them like dust; and, see, he lives! 

(Turning to Marzio.) And thou . . . 

Marzio. Oh, spare me! 

Speak to me no more! 
That stern yet piteous look, those solemn tones, 
Wound worse than torture. 

(To the Judges.) 1 have told it all; 

For pity's sake lead me away to death. 

Camillo. Guards, lead him nearer the Lady Beatrice, 
He shrinks from her regard like autumn's leaf 
From the keen breath of the serenest north. 

Beatrice. O thou who tremblest on the giddy verge 
Of life and death, pause ere thou answerest me; 
So mayst thou answer God with less dismay : 
What evil have we done thee? I, alas! 
Have lived but on this earth a few sad years 
And so my lot was ordered, that a father 
First turned the moments of awakening life 
To drops, each poisoning youth's sweet hope; and then 
Stabbed with one blow my everlasting soul; 
And my untainted fame; and even that peace 
Which sleeps within the core of the heart's heart; 
But the wound was not mortal; so my hate 
Became the only worship I could lift 
To our great father, who in pity and love. 
Armed thee, as thou dost say, to cut him off; 
And thus his wrong becomes my accusation; 
And art thou the accuser ? If thou hopest 
Mercy in heaven, show justice upon earth: 
Worse than a bloody hand is a hard heart. 
If thou hast done murders, made thy life's path 
Over the trampled laws of God and man. 
Rush not before thy Judge, and say: "My maker, 
I have done this and more; for there was one 



THE CENCI 345 

Who was most pure and innocent on earth; 
And because she endured what never any 
Guilty or innocent endured before: 
Because her wrongs could not be told, not thought; 
Because thy hand at length did rescue her; 
I with my words killed her and all her kin." 
Think, I adjure you, what it is to slay 
The reverence living in the minds of men 
Towards our ancient house, and stainless fame! 
Think what it is to strangle infant pity, 
Cradled in the belief of guileless looks. 
Till it become a crime to suf?er. Think 
What 'tis tx) blot with infamy and blood 
All that which shows like innocence, and is, 
Hear me, great God! I swear, most innocent, 
So that the world lose all discrimination 
Between the sly, fierce, wild regard of guilt. 
And that which now compels thee to reply 
To what I ask : Am I, or am I not 
A parricide? 

Marzio. Thou art not! 

Judge. What is this? 

Marzio. I here declare those whom I did accuse 
Are innocent. 'Tis I alone am guilty. 

Judge. Drag him away to torments; let them be 
Subtle and long drawn out, to tear the folds 
Of the heart's inmost cell. Unbind him not 
Till he confess. 

Marzio. Torture me as ye will : 

A keener pain has wrung a higher truth 
From my last breath. She is most innocent! 
Bloodhounds, not men, glut yourselves well with me; 
I will not give you that fine piece of nature 
To rend and ruin. 

{Exit Marzio, guarded. 

Camillo. What say ye now, my Lords? 

Judge. Let tortures strain the truth till it be white 



346 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

As snow thrice sifted by the frozen wind. 

Camillo. Yet stained with blood. 

Judge {to Beatrice). Know you this paper, Lady? 

Beatrice. Entrap me not with questions. Who stands here 
As my accuser? Hal wilt thou be he, 
Who art my judge? Accuser, witness, judge, 
What, all in one? Here is Orsino's name; 
Where is Orsino? Let his eye meet mine. 
What means this scrawl? Alas! ye know not what, 
And therefore on the chance that it may be 
Some evil, will ye kill us? 

Enter an Officer 

Officer. Marzio's dead. 

Judge. What did he say ? 

Officer. Nothing. As soon as we 

Had bound him on the wheel, he smiled on us, 
As one who bafHes a deep adversary; 
And holding his breath, died. 

Judge. There remains nothing 

But to apply the question to those prisoners. 
Who yet remain stubborn. 

Camillo. I overrule 

Further proceedings, and in the behalf 
Of these most innocent and noble persons 
Will use my interest with the Holy Father. 

Judge. Let the Pope's pleasure then be done. Meanwhile 
Conduct these culprits each to separate cells; 
And be the engines ready: for this night 
If the Pope's resolution be as grave, 
Pious, and just as once, I'll wring the truth 
Out of those nerves and sinews, groan by groan. 

[Exeunt. 
Scene III. — The Cell of a Prison 

Beatrice is discovered asleep on a couch. Enter Bernabdo 
Bernardo. How gently slumber rests upon her face, 
Like the last thoughts of some day sweetly spent 



THE CENCI 347 

Closing in night and dreams, and so prolonged. 

After such torments as she bore last night, 

How light and soft her breathing comes. Ay, me! 

Methinks that I shall never sleep again. 

But I must shake the heavenly dew of rest 

From this sweet folded flower, thus . . . wake! awake! 

What, sister, canst thou sleep.? 

Beatrice {awaiting). I was just dreaming 

That we were all in Paradise. Thou knowest 
This cell seems like a kind of Paradise 
After our father's presence. 

Bernardo. Dear, dear sister. 

Would that thy dream were not a dream! O God! 
How shall I tell? 

Beatrice. What wouldst thou tell, sweet brother? 

Bernardo. Look not so calm and happy, or even whilst 
I stand considering what I have to say 
My heart will break. 

Beatrice. See now, thou mak'st me weep: 

How very friendless thou wouldst be, dear child, 
If I were dead. Say what thou hast to say. 

Bernardo. They have confessed; they could endure no more 
The tortures . , , 

Beatrice. Ha! What was there to confess? 

They must have told some weak and wicked lie 
To flatter their tormentors. Have they said 
That they were guilty? O white innocence. 
That thou shouldst wear the mask of guilt to hide 
Thine awful and serenest countenance 
From those who know thee not! 

Enter Judge tvith Lucretia and 
GiACOMO, guarded 

Ignoble hearts! 
For some brief spasms of pain, which are at least 
As mortal as the limbs through which they pass. 
Are centuries of high splendour laid in dust ? 



348 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

And that eternal honour which should live 

Sunlike, above the reek of mortal fame, 

Changed to a mockery and a bye-word? What! 

Will you give up these bodies to be dragged 

At horses' heels, so that our hair should sweep 

The footsteps of the vain and senseless crowd. 

Who, that they may make our calamity 

Their worship and their spectacle, will leave 

The churches and the theatres as void 

As their own hearts ? Shall the light multitude 

FUng, at their choice, curses or faded pity, 

Sad funeral flowers to deck a living corpse, 

Upon us as we pass to pass away, 

And leave . . . what memory of our having been? 

Infamy, blood, terror, despair? Othou, 

Who wert a mother to the parentless. 

Kill not thy child! Let not her wrongs kill thee! 

Brother, lie down with me upon the rack, 

And let us each be silent as a corpse; 

It soon will be as soft as any grave. 

'Tis but the falsehood it can wring from fear 

Makes the rack cruel. 

Giacomo. They will tear the truth 

Even from thee at last, those cruel pains: 
For pity's sake say thou art guilty now. 

Lucretia. Oh, speak the truth! Let us all quickly die; 
And after death, God is our judge, not they; 
He will have mercy on us. 

Bernardo. If indeed 

It can be true, say so, dear sister mine; 
And then the Pope will surely pardon you, 
And all be well. 

Judge. Confess, or I will warp 

Your limbs with such keen tortures . . . 

Beatrice. Tortures! Turn 

The rack henceforth into a spinning wheel! 



THE CENCI 349 

Torture your dog, that he may tell when last 

He lapped the blood his master shed . . . not me! 

My pangs are of the mind, and of the heart, 

And of the soul; ay, of the inmost soul. 

Which weeps within tears as of burning gall 

To see, in this ill world where none are true, 

My kindred false to their deserted selves. 

And with considering all the wretched life 

Which I have lived, and its now wretched end. 

And the small justice shown by Heaven and Earth 

To me or mine; and what a tyrant thou art. 

And what slaves these; and what a world we make, 

The oppressor and the oppressed . . . such pangs compel 

My answer. What is it thou wouldst with me? 

Judge. Art thou not guilty of thy father's death? 

Beatrice. Or wilt thou rather tax high judging God 
That he permitted such an act as that 
Which I have suffered, and which he beheld; 
Made it unutterable, and took from it 
All refuge, all revenge, all consequence. 
But that which thou hast called my father's death? 
Which is or is not what men call a crime, 
Which either I have done, or have not done; 
Say what ye will. I shall deny no more. 
If ye desire it thus, thus let it be. 
And so an end of all. Now do your will; 
No other pains shall force another word. 

Judge. She is convicted, but has not confessed. 
Be it enough. Until their final sentence 
Let none have converse with them. You, young Lord, 
Linger not here! 

Beatrice. Oh, tear him not away! 

Judge. Guards, do your duty. 

Bernardo (embracing Beatrice). 

Oh! would ye divide 
Body from soul? 



350 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

Officer, That is the headsman's business. 

[Exeunt all but Lucmtia, 
Beatrice, and Giacomo. 

Giacomo, Have I confessed? Is it all over now? 
No hope! No refugel O weak, wicked tongue 
Which hast destroyed me, would that thou hadst been 
Cut out and thrown to dogs first! To have killed 
My father first, and then betrayed my sister; 
Ay, thee! the one thing innocent and pure 
In this black guilty world, to that which I 
So well deserve! My wife! my Utde ones! 
Destitute, helpless, and I . . . Father! God! 
Canst thou forgive even the unforgiving, 
When their full hearts break thus, thus! . . . 

[Covers his jace and weeps. 

Lucretia. O my child! 

To what a dreadful end are we all come! 
Why did I yield? Why did I not sustain 
Those torments? Oh, that I were all dissolved 
Into these fast and unavailing tears, 
Which flow and feel not! 

Beatrice. What 'twas weak to do, 

'Tis weaker to lament, once being done; 
Take cheer! The God who knew my wrong, and made 
Our speedy act the angel of his wrath. 
Seems, and but seems, to have abandoned us. 
Let us not think that we shall die for this. 
Brother, sit near me; give me your firm hand. 
You had a manly heart. Bear up! Bear upl 
O dearest Lady, put your gende head 
Upon my lap, and try to sleep awhile: 
Your eyes look pale, hollow and overworn. 
With heaviness of watching and slow grief. 
Come, I will sing you some low, sleepy tune, 
Not cheerful, nor yet sad; some dull old thing. 
Some outworn and unused monotony, 
Such as our country gossips sing and spin. 



THE CENCl 351 

Till they almost forget they live: lie down! 
So, that will do. Have I forgot the words? 
Faith! They are sadder than I thought they were. 

Song 

False friend, wilt thou smile or weep 
When my life is laid asleep? 
Little cares for a smile or a tear, 
The clay-cold corpse upon the bierl 

Farewell! Heigho! 

What is this whispers low? 
There is a snake in thy smile, my dear; 
And bitter poison within thy tear. 

Sweet sleep, were death like to thee, 
Or if thou couldst mortal be, 
I would close these eyes of pain; 
When to wake ? Never again. 

O World! Farewell! 

Listen to the passing belli 
It says, thou and I must part, 
With a hght and a heavy heart 

[The scene closes. 

Scene IV.— /f Hall of the Prison 

Enter Camiixo and Bernardo 

Camillo. The Pope is stern; not to be moved or bent. 
He looked as calm and keen as is the engine 
Which tortures and which kills, exempt itself 
From aught that it inflicts; a marble form, 
A rite, a law, a custom : not a man. 
He frowned, as if to frown had been the trick 
Of his machinery, on the advocates 
Presenting the defences, which he tore 
And threw behind, muttering with hoarse, harsh voice: 
"Which among ye defended their old father 



352 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

Killed in his sleep?" Then to another: "Thou 

Dost this in virtue of thy place; 'tis well." 

He turned to me then, looking deprecation, 

And baiii these three words, co\d\y : "They must die." 

Bernardo. And yet you left him not? 

Camillo. I urged him still; 

Pleading, as I could guess, the devilish wrong 
Which prompted your unnatural parent's death. 
And he replied: "Paolo Santa Croce 
Murdered his mother yester evening, 
And he is fled. Parricide grows so rife 
That soon, for some just cause no doubt, the young 
Will strangle us all, dozing in our chairs. 
Authority, and power, and hoary hair 
Are grown crimes capital. You are my nephew, 
You come to ask their pardon; stay a moment; 
Here is their sentence; never see me more 
Till, to the letter, it be all fulfilled." 

Bernardo. O God, not so! I did believe indeed 
That all you said was but sad preparation 
For happy news. Oh, there are words and looks 
To bend the sternest purpose! Once I knew them, 
Now I forget them at my dearest need. 
What think you if I seek him out, and bathe 
His feet and robe with hot and bitter tears? 
Importune him with prayers, vexing his brain 
With my perpetual cries, until in rage 
He strike me with his pastoral cross, and trample 
Upon my prostrate head, so that my blood 
May stain the senseless dust on which he treads. 
And remorse waken mercy? I will do it! 
Oh, wait till I return! [Rushes out. 

Camillo. Alas! poor boy! 

A wreck-devoted seaman thus might pray 
To the deaf sea. 



THE CENCI 353 

Enter Lucretia, Beatrice, and 
GiACOMO, guarded 

Beatrice. I hardly dare to fear 

That thou bring'st other news than a just pardon. 

Camillo. May God in heaven be less inexorable 
To the Pope's prayers, than he has been to mine. 
Here is the sentence and the warrant. 

Beatrice {wildly). O 

My God! Can it be possible 1 have 
To die so suddenly? So young to go 
Under the obscure, cold, rotting, wormy ground! 
To be nailed down into a narrow place; 
To see no more sweet sunshine; hear no more 
Blithe voice of living thing; muse not again 
Upon familiar thoughts, sad, yet thus lost — 
How fearful! to be nothing! Or to be . . . 
What? Oh, where am I? Let me not go mad! 
Sweet Heaven, forgive weak thoughts! If there should be 
No God, no Heaven, no Elarth in the void world; 
The wide, gray, lampless, deep, unpeopled world! 
If all things then should be . . . my father's spirit, 
His eye, his voice, his touch surrounding me; 
The atmosphere and breath of my dead life! 
If sometimes, as a shajje more like himself, 
Even the form which tortured me on earth, 
Masked in gray hairs and wrinkles, he should come 
And wind me in his hellish arms, and fix 
His eyes on mine, and drag me down, down, down! 
For was he not alone omnipotent 
On Earth, and ever present ? Even tho' dead, 
Does not his spirit live in all that breathe, 
And work for me and mine still the same ruin. 
Scorn, pain, despair? Who ever yet returned 
To teach the laws of death's untrodden realm? 
Unjust perhaps as those which drive us now. 
Oh, whither, whither? 



354 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

iMcretia. Trust in God's sweet love, 

The tender promises of Christ: ere night, 
Thinii, we shall be in Paradise. 

Beatrice. 'Tis past I 

Whatever comes my heart shall sink no more. 
And yet, I know not why, your words strike chill: 
How tedious, false and cold seem all things. I 
Have met with much injustice in this world; 
No difference has been made by God or man. 
Or any power moulding my wretched lot, 
*Twixt good or evil, as regarded me. 
I am cut off from the only world I know, 
From light, and life, and love, in youth's sweet prime. 
You do well telling me to trust in God, 
I hope I do trust in him. In whom else 
Can any trust? And yet my heart is cold. 

[During the latter speeches Giacomo has re- 
tired conversing with Camillo, who now 
goes out; Giacomo advances. 

Giacomo. Know you not, Mother . . . Sister, know you not ? 
Bernardo even now is gone to implore 
The Pope to grant our pardon. 

Lucretia. Child, perhaps 

It will be granted. We may all then live 
To make these woes a tale for distant years: 
Oh, what a thought! It gushes to my heart 
Like the warm blood. 

Beatrice. Yet both will soon be cold. 

Oh, trample out that thought! Worse than despair. 
Worse than the bitterness of death, is hope: 
It is the only ill which can find place 
Upon the giddy, sharp and narrow hour 
Tottering beneath us. Plead with the swift frost 
That it should spare the eldest flower of spring: 
Plead with awakening earthquake, o'er whose couch 
Even now a city stands, strong, fair, and free : 
Now stench and blackness yawn, like death. Oh, plead 
With famine, or wind-walking Pestilence, 



THE CENCI 355 

Blind lightning, or the deaf sea, not with manl 

Cruel, cold, formal man; righteous in words, 

In deeds a Cain. No, Mother, we must die: 

Since such is the reward of innocent Uves; 

Such the alleviation of worst wrongs. 

And whilst our murderers hve, and hard, cold men, 

Smiling and slow, walk thro' a world of tears 

To death as to life's sleep; 'twere just the grave 

Were some strange joy for us. Come, obscure Death, 

And wind me in thine all-embracing arms! 

Like a fond mother hide me in thy bosom, 

And rock me to the sleep from which none wake. 

Live ye, who live, subject to one another 

As we were once, who now . . . 

[Bernardo rushes in. 
Bernardo. Oh, horrible, 

That tears, that looks, that hope poured forth in prayer, 
Even till the heart is vacant and despairs, 
Should all be vain! The ministers of death 
Are waiting round the doors. I thought I saw 
Blood on the face of one . . . What if 'twere fancy? 
Soon the heart's blood of all I love on earth 
Will sprinkle him, and he will wipe it off 
As if 'twere only rain. O life! O worldl 
Cover me! let me be no more! To see 
That perfect mirror of pure innocence 
Wherein I gazed, and grew happy and good. 
Shivered to dust! To see thee, Beatrice, 
Who made all lovely thou didst look upon . . . 
Thee, light of life . . . dead, dark! while I say, sister, 
To hear I have no sister; and thou. Mother, 
Whose love was as a bond to all our loves . . . 
Dead! The sweet bond broken! 

Enter Camillo and Guards 

They come! Let me 
Kiss those warm lips before their crimson leaves 
Are blighted . . . white . . . cold. Say farewell, before 



356 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 

Death chokes that gentle voicel Oh, let me hear 
You speak! 

Beatrice. Farewell, my tender brother. Think 
Of our sad fate with gentleness, as now; 
And let mild, pitying thoughts lighten for thee 
Thy sorrow's load. Err not in harsh despair, 
But tears and patience. One thing more, my child, 
For thine own sake be constant to the love 
Thou bearest us; and to the faith that I, 
Tho' wrapt in a strange cloud of crime and shame. 
Lived ever holy and unstained. And tho' 
111 tongues shall wound me, and our common name 
Be as a mark stamped on thine innocent brow 
For men to point at as they pass, do thou 
Forbear, and never think a thought unkind 
Of those, who perhaps love thee in their graves. 
So mayest thou die as I do; fear and pain 
Being subdued. Farewell! Farewell! Farewell! 

Bernardo. I cannot say, farewell! 

Camillo. O Lady Beatrice! 

Beatrice. Give yourself no unnecessary pain, 
My dear Lord Cardinal. Here, Mother, tie 
My girdle for me, and bind up this hair 
In any simple knot; ay, that does well. 
And yours I see is coming down. How often 
Have we done this for one another, now 
We shall not do it any more. My Lord, 
We are quite ready. Well, 'tis very well. 



A BLOT IN THE 'SCUTCHEON 



BY 
ROBERT BROWNING 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 

Robert Browning stands, in respect to his origin and his career, in 
marked contrast to the two aristocratic poets beside whose dramas his 
"Blot in the 'Scutcheon" is here printed. His father was a bank clerk 
and a dissenter at a time when dissent meant exclusion from Society; the 
poet went neither to one of the great public schools nor to Oxford or 
Cambridge; and no breath of scandal touched his name. Born in I^ndon 
in i8i2, he was educated largely by private tutors, and sf)cnt two years 
at London University, but the influence of his father, a man of wide 
reading and cultivated tastes, was probably the most impwrtant element 
in his early training. He drew well, was something of a musician, and 
wrote verses from an early age, though it was the accidental reading of 
a volume of Shelley which first kindled his real inspiration. This in- 
debtedness is beautifully acknowledged in his first published poem, 
"Pauline" (1833). 

Apart from frequent visits to Italy, there is litde of incident to 
chronicle in Browning's life, with the one great exception of his more 
than fortunate marriage in 1846 to Elizabeth Barrett, the greatest of 
English poetesses. 

Browning's dramatic period extended from 1835 to the time of his 
marriage, and produced some nine plays, not all of which, however, were 
intended for the stage. "Paracelsus," the first of the series, has been 
fairly described as a "conversational drama," and "Pippa Passes," though 
it has been staged, is essentially a poem to read. The historical tragedy of 
"Straflord" has been impressively performed, but "King Victor and King 
Charles," "The Return of the Druses," "Colombe's Birthday," "A Soul's 
Tragedy," and "Luria," while interesting in many ways, can hardly be 
regarded as successful stage-plays. "A Blot in the 'Scutcheon" was 
performed at Drury Lane, but its chances of a successful run were spoiled 
by the jealousy of Macready, the manager. 

The main cause of Browning's weakness as a playwright lay in the 
fact that he was so much more interested in psychology than in action. 
But in the present tragedy this defect is less prominent than usual, and 
in spite of flaws in construction, it reaches a high pitch of emotional 
intensity, the characters are drawn with vividness, and the lines are rich 
in poetry. 



A BLOT IN THE 'SCUTCHEON 

A TRAGEDY 
(1843) 

DRAMATIS PERSONS 

Mildred Tresham Guendolen Tresham 

Thorold, Earl Tresham Austin Tresham 

Henry, Earl Mertoun 

Gerard, and other retainers of Lord Tresham 

Time, ij — 

ACT I 

Scene I. — The Interior of a Lodge in Lord Tresham's Pari(^. Many 
Retainers crowded at the window, supposed to command a view of 
the entrance to his Mansion. 

Gerard, the Warrener, his back^ to a table on 
which are flagons, etc. 

First Retainer 

AY, do! push, friends, and then you'll push down mel 
jLJL — What for? Does any hear a runner's foot 
.A. .\. Or a steed's trample or a coach-wheel's cry ? 
Is the Earl come or his least poursuivant? 
But there's no breeding in a man of you 
Save Gerard yonder: here's a half -place yet, 
Old Gerard! 
Gerard. Save your courtesies, my friend. Here is my place- 
Second Retainer. Now, Gerard, out with it! 
What makes you sullen, this of all the days 
r the year? To-day that young rich bountiful 
Handsome Earl Mertoun, whom alone they match 
With our Lord Tresham through the country-side, 

359 



360 ROBERT BROWNING 

Is coming here in utmost bravery 
To ask our master's sister's hand ? 

Gerard. What then? 

Second Retainer. What then? Why, you, she speaks to, if 
she meets 
Your worship, smiles on as you hold apart 
The boughs to let her through her forest walks. 
You, always favourite for your no-deserts, 
You've heard, these three days, how Earl Mertoun sues 
To lay his heart and house and broad lands too 
At Lady Mildred's feet: and while we squeeze 
Ourselves into a mousehole lest we miss 
One congee of the least page in his train, 
You sit o' one side — ^"there's the Earl," say I — 
"What then?" say you! 

Third Retainer. I'll wager he has let 

Both swans he tamed for Lady Mildred swim 
Over the falls and gain the river! 

Gerard. Ralph, 

Is not to-morrow my inspecting-day 
For you and for your hawks ? 

Fourth Retainer. Let Gerard be! 

He's coarse-grained, like his carved black cross-bow stock. 
Ha, look now, while we squabble with him, look! 
Well done, now — is not this beginning, now, 
To purpose ? 

First Retainer. Our retainers look as fine — 
That's comfort. Lord, how Richard holds himself 
With his white staff! Will not a knave behind 
Prick him upright? 

Fourth Retainer. He's only bowing, fool! 
The Earl's man bent us lower by this much. 

First Retainer. That's comfort. Here's a very cavalcade! 

Third Retainer. I don't see wherefore Richard, and his troop 
Of silk and silver varlets there, should find 
Their perfumed selves so indispensable 
On high days, holidays! Would it so disgrace 



A BLOT IN THE 'SCUTCHEON 361 

Our family, if I, for instance, stood — 

In my right hand a cast of Swedish hawks, 

A leash of greyhounds in my left ? — 

Gerard. — With Hugh 

The logman for supporter, in his right 
The bill-hook, in his left the brushwood-shears! 

Third Retainer. Out on you, crab! What next, what next? 
The Earl! 

First Retainer. Oh Walter, groom, our horses, do they 
match 
The Earl's? Alas, that first pair of the six — 
They paw the ground — Ah Walter! and that brute 
Just on his haunches by the wheel! 

Sixth Retainer. Ay — ay! 

You, Philip, are a special hand, I hear. 
At soups and sauces: what's a horse to you? 
D'ye mark that beast they've slid into the midst 
So cunningly? — then, Phihp, mark this further; 
No leg has he to stand on! 

First Retainer. No? that's comfort. 

Second Retainer. Peace, Cook! The Earl descends. Well, 
Gerard, see 
The Earl at least! Come, there's a proper man, 
I hope! Why, Ralph, no falcon, Pole or Swede, 
Has got a starrier eye. 

Third Retainer. His eyes are blue: 

But leave my hawks alone! 

Fourth Retainer. So young, and yet 

So tall and shapely! 

Fifth Retainer. Here's Lord Tresham's self! 
There now — there's what a nobleman should be! 
He's older, graver, loftier, he's more like 
A House's head. 

Second Retainer. But you'd not have a boy 
— And what's the Earl beside? — possess too soon 
That stateliness? 

First Retainer. Our master takes his hand — 



362 ROBERT BROWNING 

Richard and his white staff are on the move — 
Back fall our people — (tsh! — there's Timothy 
Sure to get tangled in his ribbon-ties, 
And Peter's cursed rosette's a<oming off!) 
— At last I see our lord's back and his friend's; 
And the whole beautiful bright company 
Close round them — in they go! [Jumping down from the 
window-bench, and maf(tng for the table and its jugs.\ 
Good health, long life. 
Great joy to our Lord Tresham and his House! 

Sixth Retainer. My father drove his father first to court, 
After his marriage-day — ay, did he! 

Second Retainer. God bless 

Lord Tresham, Lady Mildred, and the Earl! 
Here, Gerard, reach your beaker! 

Gerard. Drink, my boys! 

Don't mind me — all's not right about me — drink! 

Second Retainer [aside]. He's vexed, now, that he let the 
show escape! 

[To Gerard.] Remember that the Earl returns this way. 

Gerard. That way? 

Second Retainer. Just so. 

Gerard. Then my way's here. [Goes. 

Second Retainer. Old Gerard 

Will die soon — mind, I said it! He was used 
To care about the pitifullest thing 
That touched the House's honour, not an eye 
But his could see wherein: and on a cause 
Of scarce a quarter this importance, Gerard 
Fairly had fretted flesh and bone away 
In cares that this was right, nor that was wrong. 
Such point decorous, and such square by rule — 
He knew such niceties, no herald more: 
And now — you see his humour: die he will! 

Second Retainer. God help him! Who's for the great serv- 
ants' hall 
To hear what's going on inside! They'd follow 



A BLOT IN THE 'sCUTCHEON 363 

Lord Tresham into the saloon. 

Third Retainer. II — 

Fourth Retainer, 1! — 

Leave Frank alone for catching, at the door, 
Some hint of how the parley goes inside! 
Prosperity to the great House once more! 
Here's the last drop! 

First Retainer. Have at you! Boys, hurrah! 

Scene II. — A Saloon in the Mansion 
Enter Lord Tresham, Lord Mertoun, Austin, and 

GUENDOLEN 

Tresham. I welcome you. Lord Mertoun, yet once more, 
To this ancestral roof of mine. Your name 
— Noble among the noblest in itself. 
Yet taking in your person, fame avers. 
New price and lustre, — (as that gem you wear, 
Transmitted from a hundred knightly breasts. 
Fresh chased and set and fixed by its last lord. 
Seems to re-kindle at the core) — your name 
Would win you welcome! — 

Mertoun. Thanks! 

Tresham, — But add to that. 

The worthiness and grace and dignity 
Of your proposal for uniting both 
Our Houses even closer than respect 
Unites them now — add these, and you must grant 
One favour more, nor that the least, — to think 
The welcome I should give; — 'tis given! My lord. 
My only brother, Austin: he's the king's. 
Our cousin. Lady Guendolen — betrothed 
To Austin: all are yours. 

Mertoun. I thank you — less 

For the expressed commendings which your seal, 
And only that, authenticates — forbids 



364 ROBERT BROWNING 

My putting from me ... to my heart I take 

Your praise . . . but praise less claims my gratitude, 

Than the indulgent insight it implies 

Of what must needs be uppermost with one 

Who comes, like me, with the bare leave to ask, 

In weighed and measured unimpassioned words, 

A gift, which, if as calmly 'tis denied. 

He must withdraw, content upon his cheek, 

Despair within his soul. That I dare ask 

Firmly, near boldly, near with confidence 

That gift, I have to thank you. Yes, Lord Tresham, 

I love your sister — as you'd have one love 

That lady ... oh more, more I love her! Wealth, 

Rank, all the world thinks me, they're yours, you know. 

To hold or part with, at your choice — but grant 

My true self, me without a rood of land, 

A piece of gold, a name of yesterday. 

Grant me that lady, and you . . . Death or life? 

Guendolcn {apart to Austin]. Why, this is loving, Austin! 

Austin. He's so young! 

Guendolen. Young? Old enough, I think, to half surmise 
He never had obtained an entrance here. 
Were all this fear and trembling needed. 

Austin. Hush! 

He reddens. 

Guendolen. Mark him, Austin; that's true love! 
Ours must begin again. 

Tresham. We'll sit, my lord. 

Ever with best desert goes diffidence. 
I may speak plainly nor be misconceived 
That I am wholly satisfied with you 
On this occasion, when a falcon's eye 
Were dull compared with mine to search out faults. 
Is somewhat. Mildred's hand is hers to give 
Or to refuse. 

Mertoun. But you, you grant my suit? 
I have your word if hers? 



A BLOT IN THE 'sCUTCHEON 365 

Tresham. My best o£ words 

If hers encourage you. I trust it will. 
Have you seen Lady Mildred, by the way ? 

Mertoun. I , . . I . . . our two demesnes, remember, touch, 
I have been used to wander carelessly 
After my stricken game: the heron roused 
Deep in my woods, has trailed its broken wing 
Thro' thicks and glades a mile in yours, — or else 
Some eyass ill-reclaimed has taken flight 
And lured me after her from tree to tree, 
I marked not whither. I have come upon 
The lady's wondrous beauty unaware. 
And — and then ... I have seen her. 

Guendolen [aside to Austin]. Note that mode 
Of faltering out that, when a lady passed. 
He, having eyes, did see herl You had said — 
"On such a day I scanned her, head to foot; 
Observed a red, where red should not have been. 
Outside her elbow; but was pleased enough 
Upon the whole." Let such irreverent talk 
Be lessoned for the future! 

Tresham. What's to say 

May be said briefly. She has never known 
A mother's care; I stand for father too. 
Her beauty is not strange to you, it seems — 
You cannot know the good and tender heart, 
Its girl's trust and its woman's constancy, 
How pure yet passionate, how calm yet kind. 
How grave yet joyous, how reserved yet free 
As light where friends are — how imbued with lore 
The world most prizes, yet the simplest, yet 
The . . . one might know I talked of Mildred — thus 
We brothers talk! 

Mertoun. I thank you. 

Tresham. In a word. 

Control's not for this lady; but her wish 
To please me outstrips in its subtlety 



366 ROBERT BROWNING 

My power of being pleased: herself creates 
The want she means to satisfy. My heart 
Prefers your suit to her as 'twere its own. 
Can I say more? 

Mertoun. No more — thanks, thanks — no more! 

Tresham. This matter then discussed . . . 

Mertoun. — We'll waste no breath 

On aught less precious. I'm beneath the roof 
Which holds her: while I thought of that, my speech 
To you would wander — as it must not do, 
Since as you favour me I stand or fall. 
I pray you suffer that I take my leave! 

Tresham. With less regret 'tis suffered, that again 
We meet, I hope, so shortly. 

Mertoun. We? again? — 

Ah yes, forgive me — ^when shall . . , you will crown 
Your goodness by forthwith apprising me 
When . . . if . . . the lady will appoint a day 
For me to wait on you — and her. 

Tresham. So soon 

As I am made acquainted with her thoughts 
On your proposal — howsoe'er they lean — 
A messenger shall bring you the result. 

Mertoun. You cannot bind me more to you, my lord. 
Farewell till we renew ... I trust, renew 
A converse ne'er to disunite again. 

Tresham. So may it prove! 

Mertoun. You, lady, you, sir, take 

My humble salutation! 

Guendolen and Austin. Thanks! 

Tresham. Within there! 

[Servants enter. Tresham conducts Mertoun to 
the door. Meantime Austin remark^s, 

Well, 
Here I have an advantage of the Earl, 
Confess now! I'd not think that all was safe 
Because my lady's brother stood my friend! 



A BLOT IN THE 'sCUTCHEON 367 

Why, he makes sure of her — "do you say yes — 

She'll not say, no," — what comes it to beside? 

I should have prayed the brother, "spieak this speech, 

For Heaven's sake urge this on her — put in this — 

Forget not, as you'd save me, t'other thing, — 

Then set down what she says, and how she looks, 

And if she smiles, and" (in an under breath) 

"Only let her accept me, and do you 

And all the world refuse me, if you dare!" 

Guendolen. That way you'd take, friend Austin? What a 
shame 
I was your cousin, tamely from the first 
Your bride, and all this fervour's run to waste! 
Do you know you speak sensibly to-day? 
The Earl's a fool. 

Austin. Here's Thorold. Tell him so! 

Tresham [returning]. Now, voices, voices! 'St! the lady's 
first! 
How seems he? — seems he not . . . come, faith give fraud 
The mercy-stroke whenever they engage! 
Down with fraud, up with faith! How seems the Earl? 
A name! a blazon! if you knew their worth. 
As you will never! come — the Earl? 

Guendolen. He's young. 

Tresham. What's she? an infant save in heart and brain. 
Young! Mildred is fourteen, remark! And you . . . 
Austin, how old is she? 

Guendolen. There's tact for you! 

I meant that being young was good excuse 
If one should tax him . . . 

Tresham. Well? 

Guendolen. — With lacking wit. 

Tresham. He lacked wit? Where might he lack wit, so 
please you? 

Guendolen. In standing straighter than the steward's rod 
And making you the tiresomest harangue. 
Instead of slipping over to my side 



368 



ROBERT BROWNING 

And softly whispering in my ear, "Sweet lady, 

Your cousin there will do me detriment 

He little dreams of: he's absorbed, I see. 

In my old name and fame — be sure he'll leave 

My Mildred, when his best account of me 

Is ended, in full confidence I wear 

My grandsire's periwig down either cheek. 

I'm lost unless your gentleness vouchsafes" . . . 

Tresham . . . "To give a best of best accounts, yourself, 
Of me and my demerits." You are right! 
He should have said what now I say for him. 
Yon golden creature, will you help us all ? 
Here's Austin means to vouch for much, but you 
— You are . . . what Austin only knows! Come up. 
All three of us: she's in the library 
No doubt, for the day's wearing fast. Precede! 

Guendolen. Austin, how we must — ! 

Tresham. Must what? Must speak truth, 

Malignant tongue! Detect one fault in him! 
I challenge you! 

Guendolen. Witchcraft's a fault in him, 
For you're bewitched. 

Tresham. What's urgent we obtain 

Is, that she soon receive him — say, to-morrow — 
Next day at furthest. 

Guendolen. Ne'er instruct me! 

Tresham. Come! 

— He's out of your good graces, since forsooth, 
He stood not as he'd carry us by storm 
With his perfections! You're for the composed 
Manly assured becoming confidence! 
— Get her to say, "to-morrow," and I'll give you . . . 
I'll give you black Urganda, to be spoiled 
With petting and snail-paces. Will you.'' Come! 



A BLOT IN THE 'sCUTCHEON 369 

Scene III. — Mildred's Chamber. A Painted Window overlooks the Par^ 
Mildred and Guendolen 

Guendolen. Now, Mildred, spare those pains. I have not left 
Our talkers in the library, and climbed 
The wearisome ascent to this your bower 
In company with you, — I have not dared . . . 
Nay, worked such prodigies as sparing you 
Lord Mertoun's pedigree before the flood, 
Which Thorold seemed in very act to tell 
— Or bringing Austin to pluck up that most 
Firm-rooted heresy — your suitor's eyes. 
He would maintain, were grey instead of blue — 
I think I brought him to contrition! — Well, 
I have not done such things, (all to deserve 
A minute's quiet cousin's talk with you,) 
To be dismissed so coolly. 

Mildred. Guendolen! 

What have I done? what could suggest . . . 

Guendolen. There, there! 

Do I not comprehend you'd be alone 
To throw those testimonies in a heap, 
Thorold's enlargings, Austin's brevities, 
With that poor silly heartless Guendolen's 
Ill-time misplaced attempted smartnesses — 
And sift their sense out ? now, I come to spare you 
Nearly a whole night's labour. Ask and have! 
Demand, be answered! Lack I ears and eyes? 
Am I perplexed which side of the rock-table 
The Conqueror dined on when he landed first. 
Lord Mertoun's ancestor was bidden take — 
The bow-hand or the arrow-hand's great meed? 
Mildred, the Earl has soft blue eyes! 

Mildred. My brother — 

Did he . . . you said that he received him well? 

Guendolen. If I said only "well" I said not much. 
Oh, stay — which brother ? 



370 ROBERT BROWNING 

Mildred. Thorold! who — who else? 

Guendolen. Thorold (a secret) is too proud by half, — 
Nay, hear me out — with us he's even gentler 
Than we are with our birds. Of this great House 
The least retainer that e'er caught his glance 
Would die for him, real dying — no mere talk : 
And in the world, the court, if men would cite 
The perfect spirit of honour, Thorold's name 
Rises of its clear nature to their lips. 
But he should take men's homage, trust in it, 
And care no more about what drew it down. 
He has desert, and that, acknowledgment; 
Is he content ? 

Mildred. You wrong him, Guendolen. 

Guendolen. He's proud, confess; so proud with brooding 
o'er 
The light of his interminable line, 
An ancestry with men all paladins, 
And women all . . . 

Mildred. Dear Guendolen, 'tis late! 

When yonder purple pane the climbing moon 
Pierces, I know 'tis midnight. 

Guendolen. Well, that Thorold 

Should rise up from such musings, and receive 
One come audaciously to graft himself 
Into this peerless stock, yet find no flaw, 
No slightest spot in such an one . . . 

Mildred. Who finds 

A spot in Mertoun? 

Guendolen. Not your brother; therefore. 

Not the whole world. 

Mildred. I am weary, Guendolen. 

Bear with me! 

Guendolen. I am foolish. 

Mildred. Oh no, kind! 

But I would rest. 



A BLOT IN THE SCUTCHEON 37I 

Gucndolen. Good night and rest to you! 
I said how gracefully his mantle lay 
Beneath the rings of his light hair ? 
Mildred. Brown hair. 

Gucndolen. Brown? why, it is brown: how could you know 

that? 
Mildred. How? did not you — Oh, Austin 'twas, declared 
His hair was light, not brown — my head! — and look, 
The moon-beam purpling the dark chamber! Sweet, 
Good night! 

Gucndolen. Forgive me — sleep the soundlier for me! 

{Going, she turns suddenly. 
Mildred! 
Perdition! all's discovered! Thorold finds 
— That the Earl's greatest of all grandmothers 
Was grander daughter still — to that fair dame 
Whose garter slipped down at the famous dance! {Goes. 

Mildred. Is she — can she be really gone at last? 
My heart! I shall not reach the window. Needs 
Must I have sinned much, so to suffer. 

{She lifts the small lamp which is suspended before 
the Virgin's image in the u/indow, and places it by 
the purple pane. 

There! 
{She returns to the seat in front. 
Mildred and Mertoun! Mildred, with consent 
Of all the world and Thorold, Mertoun's bride! 
Too late! 'Tis sweet to think of, sweeter still 
To hope for, that this blessed end soothes up 
The curse of the beginning; but I know 
It comes too late: 'twill sweetest be of all 
To dream my soul away and die upon. {A noise without. 
The voice! Oh why, why glided sin the snake 
Into the paradise Heaven meant us both? 

{The window opens softly. A low voice sings. 



372 ROBERT BROWNING 

There's a woman li/^e a dew-drop, she's so purer than the 
purest; 

And her noble heart's the noblest, yes, and her sure faith's the 
surest: 

And her eyes are darf^ and humid, li/^e the depth on depth of 
lustre 

Hid i' the harebell, while her tresses, sunnier than the wild- 
grape cluster. 

Gush in golden tinted plenty down her necl(s rose-misted 
marble: 

Then her voice's music . . . call it the well's bubbling, the 
bird's warble! 

[A figure wrapped in a mantle appears at the window. 
And this woman says, "My days were sunless and my nights 

were moonless, 
Parched the pleasant April herbage, and the larl(s hearths out- 

breal{^ tuneless. 
If you loved me not!" And 1 who — (ah, for words of flame!) 

adore her. 
Who am mad to lay my spirit prostrate palpably before her — 

{He enters, approaches her seat, and bends over her. 
I may enter at her portal soon, as now her lattice tal^es me. 
And by noontide as by midnight ma\e her mine, as hers she 
mat{es me! 

\The Earl throws off his slouched hat and long cloaf{. 
My very heart sings, so I sing, Beloved! 

Mildred. Sit, Henry — do not take my hand! 

Mertoun. 'Tis mine. 

The meeting that appalled us both so much 
Is ended. 

Mildred. What begins now? 

Mertoun. Happiness 

Such as the world contains not. 

Mildred. That is it. 

Our happiness would, as you say, exceed 



A BLOT IN THE 'sCUTCHEON 373 

The whole world's best of blisses: we — do we 
Deserve that? Utter to your soul, what mine 
Long since, Beloved, has grown used to hear. 
Like a death-knell, so much regarded once, 
And so familiar now; this will not be! 

Mertoun. Oh, Mildred, have I met your brother's face? 
Compelled myself — if not to speak untruth. 
Yet to disguise, to shun, to put aside 
The truth, as — what had e'er prevailed on me 
Save you to venture? Have I gained at last 
Your brother, the one scarer of your dreams, 
And waking thoughts' sole apprehension too? 
Does a new life, like a young sunrise, break 
On the strange unrest of our night, confused 
With rain and stormy flaw — and will you see 
No dripping blossoms, no fire-tinted drops 
On each live spray, no vapour steaming up, 
And no expressless glory in the East ? 
When I am by you, to be ever by you. 
When I have won you and may worship you. 
Oh, Mildred, can you say "this will not be"? 

Mildred. Sin has surprised us, so will punishment. 

Mertoun. No — me alone, who sinned alone! 

Mildred. The night 

You likened our past life to — was it storm 
Throughout to you then, Henry ? 

Mertoun. Of your life 

I spoke — what am I, what my life, to waste 
A thought about when you are by me? — you 
It was, I said my folly called the storm 
And pulled the night upon. 'Twas day with me — 
Perpetual dawn with me. 

Mildred. Come what, come will, 

You have been happy: take my hand! 

Mertoun [after a pause]. How good 

Your brother is! I figured him a cold- 
Shall I say, haughty man ? 



374 ROBERT BROWNING 

Mildred. They told me alL 

I know all. 

Mertoun. It will soon be over. 

Mildred. Over ? 

Oh, what is over ? what must I live through 
And say, " 'tis over" ? Is our meeting over ? 
Have I received in presence of them all 
The partner of my guilty love — with brow 
Trying to seem a maiden's brow — with lips 
Which make believe that when they strive to form 
Replies to you and tremble as they strive. 
It is the nearest ever they approached 
A stranger's . . . Henry, yours that stranger's . . . lip — 
With cheek that looks a virgin's, and that is . . . 
Ah God, some prodigy of thine will stop 
This planned piece of deliberate wickedness 
In its birth even! some fierce leprous spot 
Will mar the brow's dissimulating! I 
Shall murmur no smooth speeches got by heart, 
But, frenzied, pour forth all our woeful story. 
The love, the shame, and the despair — with them 
Round me aghast as round some cursed fount 
That should spirt water, and spouts blood. I'll not 
. . . Henry, you do not wish that I should draw 
This vengeance down ? I'll not affect a grace 
That's gone from me — ^gone once, and gone for ever! 

Mertoun. Mildred, my honour is your own. I'll share 
Disgrace I cannot suffer by myself. 
A word informs your brother I retract 
This morning's offer; time will yet bring forth 
Some better way of saving both of us. 

Mildred. I'll meet their faces, Henry! 

Mertoun. When? to-morrow! 

Get done with it! 

Mildred. Oh, Henry, not to-morrow! 

Next day! I never shall prepare my words 



A BLOT IN THE SCUTCHEON 375 

And looks and gestures sooner. — How you must 
Despise me I 

Mertoun. Mildred, break it if you choose, 
A heart the love of you uplifted — still 
Uplifts, thro' this protracted agony, 
To heaven! but Mildred, answer me, — first pace 
The chamber with me — once again — now, say 
Calmly the part, the . . . what it is of me 
You see contempt (for you did say contempt) 
— Contempt for you in! I would pluck it off 
And cast it from me! — but no — no, you'll not 
Repeat that? — will you, Mildred, repeat that? 

Mildred. Dear Henry! 

Mertoun. I was scarce a boy — e'en now 

What am I more? And you were infantine 
When first I met you; why, your hair fell loose 
On either side! My fool's-cheek reddens now 
Only in the recalling how it burned 
That morn to see the shape of many a dream 
— You know we boys are prodigal of charms 
To her we dream of — I had heard of one. 
Had dreamed of her, and I was close to her, 
Might speak to her, might live and die her own. 
Who knew? I spoke. Oh, Mildred, feel you not 
That now, while I remember every glance 
Of yours, each word of yours, with power to test 
And weigh them in the diamond scales of pride^ 
Resolved the treasure of a first and last 
Heart's love shall have been bartered at its worth, 
— That now I think upon your purity 
And utter ignorance of guilt — your own 
Or other's guilt — the girlish undisguised 
Delight at a strange novel prize — (I talk 
A silly language, but interpret, you!) 
If I, with fancy at its full, and reason 
Scarce in its germ, enjoyed you secrecy, 



376 ROBERT BROWNING 

If you had pity on my passion, pity 

On my protested sickness of the soul 

To sit beside you, hear you breathe, and watch 

Your eyelids and the eyes beneath — if you 

Accorded gifts and knew not they were gifts — 

If I grew mad at last with enterprise 

And must behold my beauty in her bower 

Or perish — (I was ignorant of even 

My own desires — what then were you?) if sorrow — 

Sin — if the end came — must I now renounce 

My reason, blind myself to light, say truth 

Is false and lie to God and my own soul? 

Contempt were all of this! 

Mildred. Do you believe . . . 

Or, Henry, I'll not wrong you — you believe 
That 1 was ignorant. I scarce grieve o'er 
The past. We'll love on; you will love me still. 

Mertoun. Oh, to love less what one has injured! Dove. 
Whose pinion I have rashly hurt, my breast — 
Shall my heart's warmth not nurse thee into strength? 
Flower I have crushed, shall I not care for thee? 
Bloom o'er my crest, my fight-mark and device! 
Mildred, I love you and you love me. 

Mildred. Go! 

Be that your last word. I shall sleep to-night. 

Mertoun. This is not our last meeting? 

Mildred. One night more. 

Mertoun. And then — think, then! 

Mildred. Then, no sweet courtship-days, 

No dawning consciousness of love for us, 
No strange and palpitating births of sense 
From words and looks, no innocent fears and hopes, 
Reserves and confidences: morning's over! 

Mertoun. How else should love's perfected noontide follow? 
All the dawn promised shall the day perform. 

Mildred. So may it be! but — 

You are cautious. Love? 



A BLOT IN THE SCUTCHEON 377 

Are sure that unobserved you scaled the walls? 

Mertoun. Oh, trust me! Then our final meeting's fixed 
To-morrow night? 

Mildred. Farewell! stay, Henry . . . wherefore? 

His foot is on the yew-tree bough; the turf 
Receives him: now the moonlight as he runs 
Embraces him — but he must go — is gone. 
Ah, once again he turns — thanks, thanks, my Love! 
He's gone. Oh, I'll believe him every word! 
I was so young, I loved him so, I had 
No mother, God forgot me, and I fell. 
There may be pardon yet: all's doubt beyondl 
Surely the bitterness of death is past. 

ACT II 

Scene. — The Library 
Enter Lord Tresham, hastily 

Tresham. This way! In, Gerard, quick! 

\^As Gerard enters, Tresham secures the door. 

Now speak! or, wait — 

I'll bid you speak directly. {Seats himself. 

Now repeat 
Firmly and circumstantially the tale 
You just now told me; it eludes me; either 
I did not listen, or the half is gone 
Away from me. How long have you lived here? 
Here in my house, your father kept our woods 
Before you? 

Gerard. — As his father did, my lord. 
I have been eating, sixty years almost, 
Your bread. 

Tresham. Yes, yes. You ever were of all 
The servants in my father's house, I know, 
The trusted one. You'll speak the truth. 

Gerard. I'll speak 

God's truth. Night after night . . . 



378 ROBERT BROWNING 

Tresham. Since when? 

Gerard. At least 

A month — each midnight has some man access 
To Lady Mildred's chamber. 

Tresham. Tush, "access" — 

No wide words Uke "access" to me! 

Gerard. He runs 

Along the woodside, crosses to the South, 
Takes the left tree that ends the avenue . . . 

Tresham. The last great yew-tree ? 

Gerard. You might stand upon 

The main boughs hke a platform. Then he . . . 

Tresham. Quick! 

Gerard. Climbs up, and, where they lessen at the top, 
— I cannot see distinctly, but he throws, 
I think — for this I do not vouch — a line 
That reaches to the lady's casement — 

Tresham. — Which 

He enters not! Gerard, some wretched fool 
Dares pry into my sister's privacy! 
When such are young, it seems a precious thing 
To have approached, — to merely have approached, 
Got sight of the abode of her they set 
Their frantic thoughts upon. He does not enter? 
Gerard ? 

Gerard. There is a lamp that's full i' the midst, 
Under a red square in the painted glass 
Of Lady Mildred's . . . 

Tresham. Leave that name out! Well? 

That lamp ? 

Gerard. Is moved at midnight higher up 
To one pane — a small dark-blue pane; he waits 
For that among the boughs: at sight of that, 
I see him, plain as I see you, my lord, 
Open the lady's casement, enter there . . . 

Tresham. — And stay? 

Gerard. An hour, two hoiu'S. 



A BLOT IN THE SCUTCHEON 379 

Tresham. And this you saw 

Once ? — twice ? — quick I 

Gerard. Twenty times, 

Tresham. And what brings you 

Under the yew-trees ? 

Gerard. The first night I left 

My range so far, to track the stranger stag 
That broke the pale, I saw the man. 

Tresham. Yet sent 

No cross-bow shaft through the marauder? 

Gerard. But 

He came, my lord, the first time he was seen. 
In a great moonlight, Ught as any day. 
From Lady Mildred's chamber. 

Tresham [after a pause]. You have no cause 

— Who could have cause to do my sister wrong? 

Gerard. Oh, my lord, only once — let me this once 
Speak what is on my mind! Since first I noted 
All this, I've groaned as if a fiery net 
Plucked me this way and that — fire if 1 turned 
To her, fire if I turned to you, and fire 
If down I flung myself and strove to die. 
The lady could not have been seven years old 
When I was trusted to conduct her safe 
Through the deer-herd to stroke the snow-white fawn 
I brought to eat bread from her tiny hand 
Within a month. She ever had a smile 
To greet me with — she ... if it could undo 
What's done, to lop each limb from off this trunk . . . 
All that is foolish talk, not fit for you — 
I mean, I could not speak and bring her hurt 
For Heaven's compelling. But when I was fixed 
To hold my peace, each morsel of your food 
Eaten beneath your roof, my birth-place too, 
Choked me. I wish I had grown mad in doubts 
What it behoved me do. This morn it seemed 
Either I must confess to you or die: 



380 ROBERT BROWNING 

Now it is done, I seem the vilest worm 
That crawls, to have betrayed my lady. 

Tresham. No — 

No, Gerard! 

Gerard. Let me go! 

Tresham. A man, you say: 

What man ? Young ? Not a vulgar hind ? What dress ? 

Gerard. A slouched hat and a large dark foreign cloak 
Wraps his whole form; even his face is hid; 
But I should judge him young: no hind, be sure! 

Tresham. Why? 

Gerard. He is ever armed: his sword projects 

Beneath the cloak. 

Tresham. Gerard, — I will not say 

No word, no breath of this! 

Gerard. Thanks, thanks, my lord! 

\Goes. 

Tresham {paces the room. After a pause]. Oh, thoughts 
absurd! — as with some monstrous fact 
Which, when ill thoughts beset us, seems to give 
Merciful God that made the sun and stars. 
The waters and the green delights of earth, 
The lie! I apprehend the monstrous fact — 
Yet know the maker of all worlds is good, 
And yield my reason up, inadequate 
To reconcile what yet I do behold — 
Blasting my sense! There's cheerful day outside: 
This is my library, and this the chair 
My father used to sit in carelessly 
After his soldier-fashion, while I stood 
Between his knees to question him: and here 
Gerard our grey retainer, — as he says, 
Fed with our food, from sire to son, an age, — 
Has told a story — I am to believe! 
That Mildred . . . oh, no, no! both tales are true. 
Her pure cheek's story and the forester's! 
Would she, or could she, err — much less, confound 



A BLOT IN THE 'sCUTCHEON 381 

All guilts of treachery, of craft, of . . . Heaven 
Keep me within its hand! — I will sit here 
Until thought settle and 1 see my course. 
Avert, oh God, only this woe from me! 

[As he sinl{s his head between his arms on the table, 
Guendolen's voice is heard at the door. 

Lord Tresham! [She \nocl{s.] Is Lord Tresham there ? 

[Tresham, hastily turning, pulls down the first 
book^ above him and opens it. 

Tresham. Come in! [She enters. 

Ha, Guendolen! — ^good morning. 

Guendolen. Nothing more? 

Tresham. What should I say more? 

Guendolen. Pleasant question! more? 
This more. Did I besiege poor Mildred's brain 
Last night till close on morning with "the Earl," 
"The Earl" — whose worth did I asseverate 
Till I am very fain to hope that . . . Thorold, 
What is all this? You are not well! 

Tresham. Who, L'* 

You laugh at me. 

Guendolen. Has what I'm fain to hope, 

Arrived then? Does that huge tome show some blot 
In the Earl's 'scutcheon come no longer back 
Than Arthur's time? 

Tresham. When left you Mildred's chamber? 

Guendolen. Oh, late enough, I told you! The main thing 
To ask is, how I left her chamber, — sure. 
Content yourself, she'll grant this paragon 
Of Earls no such ungracious . . . 

Tresham. Send her here! 

Guendolen. Thorold? 

Tresham. I mean — acquaint her, Guendolen, 

—But mildly! 

Guendolen. Mildly? 



382 ROBERT BROWNING 

Tresham. Ah, you guessed aright! 

I am not well: there is no hiding it. 
But tell her I would see her at her leisure — 
That is, at once! here in the library! 
The passage in that old Italian book 
We hunted for so long is found, say, found — 
And if I let it slip again . . . you see, 
That she must come — and instantly! 

Guendolen. I'll die 

Piecemeal, record that, if there have not gloomed 
Some blot i' the 'scutcheon! 

Tresham. Go! or, Guendolen, 

Be you at call, — with Austin, if you choose, — 
In the adjoining gallery! There, go! [Guendolen goes. 
Another lesson to me! You might bid 
A child disguise his heart's sore, and conduct 
Some sly investigation point by point 
With a smooth brow, as well as bid me catch 
The inquisitorial cleverness some praise. 
If you had told me yesterday, "There's one 
You needs must circumvent and practise with. 
Entrap by policies, if you would worm 
The truth out: and that one is — Mildred!" There, 
There — reasoning is thrown away on it! 
Prove she's unchaste . . . why, you may after prove 
That she's a poisoner, traitress, what you will! 
Where I can comprehend nought, nought's to say, 
Or do, or think. Force on me but the first 
Abomination, — then outpour all plagues, 
And I shall ne'er make count of them. 

Enter Mildred 

Mildred. What book 

Is it I wanted, Thorold? Guendolen 
Thought you were pale; you are not pale. That book? 
That's Latin surely. 

Tresham. Mildred, here's a line, 

(Don't lean on me: I'll English it for you) 



A BLOT IN THE 'sCUTCHEON 383 

"Love conquers all things." What love conquers them ? 
What love should you esteem — best love? 

Mildred. True love. 

Tresham. I mean, and should have said, whose love is 
best 
0£ all that love or that profess to love.' 

Mildred. The list's so long: there's father's, mother's, 
husband's . . . 

Tresham. Mildred, I do believe a brother's love 
For a sole sister must exceed them all. 
For see now, only see! there's no alloy 
Of earth that creeps into the perfect'st gold 
Of other loves — no gratitude to claim; 
You never gave her life, not even aught 
That keeps life — never tended her, instructed. 
Enriched her — so, your love can claim no right 
O'er her save pure love's claim : that's what I call 
Freedom from earthliness. You'll never hope 
To be such friends, for instance, she and you. 
As when you hunted cowslips in the woods. 
Or played together in the meadow hay. 
Oh yes — with age, respect comes, and your worth 
Is felt, there's growing sympathy of tastes. 
There's ripened friendship, there's confirmed esteem: 
— Much head these make against the newcomer! 
The startling apparition, the strange youth — 
Whom one half-hour's conversing with, or, say. 
Mere gazing at, shall change (beyond all change 
This Ovid ever sang about) your soul 
. . . Her soul, that is, — the sister's soul! With her 
'Twas winter yesterday; now, all is warmth. 
The green leaf's springing and the turtle's voice, 
"Arise and come away!" Come whither? — far 
Enough from the esteem, resp>ect, and all 
The brother's somewhat insignificant 
Array of rights! All which he knows before. 
Has calculated on so long ago! 
I think such love, (apart from yours and mine,) 



384 ROBERT BROWNING 

Contented with its little term of life, 
Intending to retire betimes, aware 
How soon the background must be placed for it, 
— I think, am sure, a brother's love exceeds 
All the world's love in its unworldliness. 

Mildred. What is this for? 

Tresham. This, Mildred, is it for! 

Or, no, I cannot go to it so soon! 
That's one of many points my haste left out — 
Each day, each hour throws forth its silk-slight film 
Between the being tied to you by birth. 
And you, until those slender threads compose 
A web that shrouds her daily life of hopes 
And fears and fancies, all her life, from yours; 
So close you live and yet so far apart! 
And must I rend this web, tear up, break down 
The sweet and palpitating mystery 
That makes her sacred ? You — for you I mean. 
Shall I speak, shall I not speak ? 

Mildred. Speak! 

Tresham. I will. 

Is there a story men could — any man 
Could tell of you, you would conceal from me ? 
I'll never think there's falsehood on that lip. 
Say "There is no such story men could tell," 
And I'll believe you, though I disbelieve 
The world — the world of better men than I, 
And women such as I suppose you. Speak! 
[After a pause."] Not speak? Explain then! Clear it up then! 

Move 
Some of the miserable weight away 
That presses lower than the grave. Not speak ? 
Some of the dead weight, Mildred! Ah, if I 
Could bring myself to plainly make their charge 
Against you! Must I, Mildred ? Silent still? 
[After a pause.] Is there a gallant that has night by night 
Admittance to your chamber? 



A BLOT IN THE 'sCUTCHEON 385 

[After a pause.] Then, his name I 
Till now, I only had a thought for you: 
But now, — his name! 

Mildred. Thorold, do you devise 
Fit expiation for my guilt, if fit 
There be! 'Tis nought to say that I'll endure 
And bless you, — that my spirit yearns to purge 
Her stains off in the fierce renewing fire: 
But do not plunge me into other guilt! 
Oh, guilt enough! I cannot tell his name. 

Tresham. Then judge yourself! How should I act? 
Pronounce! 

Mildred. Oh, Thorold, you must never tempt me thus! 
To die here in this chamber by that sword 
Would seem like punishment: so should I glide, 
Like an arch-cheat, into extremest bliss! 
'Twere easily arranged for me: but you — 
What would become of you ? 

Tresham. And what will now 

Become of me? I'll hide your shame and mine 
From every eye; the dead must heave their hearts 
Under the marble of our chapel-floor; 
They cannot rise and blast you. You may wed 
Your paramour above our mother's tomb; 
Our mother cannot move from 'neath your foot. 
We too will somehow wear this one day out: 
But with to-morrow hastens here — the Earl! 
The youth without suspicion. Face can come 
From Heaven and heart from . . . whence proceed such 

hearts? 
I have dispatched last night at your command 
A missive bidding him present himself 
To-morrow — here — thus much is said; the rest 
Is understood as if 'twere written down — 
"His suit finds favor in your eyes." Now dictate 
This morning's letter that shall countermand 
Last night's — do dictate that! 



386 ROBERT BROWNING 

Mildred. But, Thorold— if 

I will receive him as I said ? 

Tresham. The Earl? 

Mildred. I will receive him. 

Tresham [starting up]. Ho there! Guendolen! 

GuENDOLEN atid AusTiN enter 

And, Austin, you are welcome, tool Look there! 
The woman there! 

Austin and Guendolen. How? Mildred? 

Tresham. Mildred once! 

Now the receiver night by night, when sleep 
Blesses the inmates of her father's house, 
— I say, the soft sly wanton that receives 
Her guilt's accomplice 'neath this roof which holds 
You, Guendolen, you, Austin, and has held 
A thousand Treshams — never one like her! 
No lighter of the signal-lamp her quick 
Foul breath near quenches in hot eagerness 
To mix with breath as foul! no loosener 
O' the lattice, practised in the stealthy tread. 
The low voice and the noiseless come-and-go! 
Not one composer of the bacchant's mien 
Into — what you thought Mildred's, in a word! 
Know her! 

Guendolen. Oh, Mildred, look to me, at least! 
Thorold — she's dead, I'd say, but that she stands 
Rigid as stone and whiter! 

Tresham. You have heard . . . 

Guendolen. Too much! You must proceed no further. 

Mildred. Yes- 
Proceed! All's truth. Go from me! 

Tresham. All is truth, 

She tells you! Well, you know, or ought to know, 
All this I would forgive in her. I'd con 
Each precept the harsh world enjoins, I'd take 
Our ancestors' stern verdicts one by one. 



A BLOT IN THE 'sCUTCHEON 387 

I'd bind myself before them to exact 

The prescribed vengeance — and one word of hers, 

The sight of her, the bare least memory 

Of Mildred, my one sister, my heart's pride 

Above all prides, my all in all so long. 

Would scatter every trace of my resolve. 

What were it silently to waste away 

And see her waste away from this day forth, 

Two scathed things with leisure to repent. 

And grow acquainted with the grave, and die 

Tired out if not at peace, and be forgotten ? 

It were not so impossible to bear. 

But this — that, fresh from last night's pledge renewed 

Of love with the successful gallant there. 

She calmly bids me help her to entice. 

Inveigle an unconscious trusting youth 

Who thinks her all that's chaste and good and pure, 

— Invites me to betray him . . . who so fit 

As honour's self to cover shame's arch-deed ? 

— That she'll receive Lord Mertoun — (her own phrase) — 

This, who could bear ? Why, you have heard of thieves, 

Stabbers, the earth's disgrace, who yet have laughed, 

"Talk not to me of torture — I'll betray 

No comrade I've pledged faith to!" — you have heard 

Of wretched women — all but Mildreds — tied 

By wild illicit ties to losels vile 

You'd tempt them to forsake; and they'll reply 

"Gold, friends, repute, I left for him, I find 

In him, why should I leave him then, for gold. 

Repute or friends?" — and you have felt your heart 

Respond to such poor outcasts of the world 

As to so many friends; bad as you please, 

You've felt they were God's men and women still, 

So, not to be disowned by you. But she 

That stands there, calmly gives her lover up 

As means to wed the Earl that she may hide 

Their intercourse the surelier: and, for this. 



388 ROBERT BROWNING 

I curse her to her face before you all. 

Shame hunt her from the earth! Then Heaven do right 

To both! It hears me now — shall judge her then! 

[As Mildred faints and jails, Tresham rushes out. 

Austin. Stay, Tresham, we'll accompany you! 

Guendolen. We? 

What, and leave Mildred? We? Why, where's my place 
But by her side, and where yours but by mine? 
Mildred — one word! Only look at me, then! 

Austin. No, Guendolen! I echo Thorold's voice. 
She is unworthy to behold . . . 

Guendolen. Us two? 

If you spoke on reflection, and if I 
Approved your speech — if you (to put the thing 
At lowest) you the soldier, bound to make 
The king's cause yours and fight for it, and throw 
Regard to others of its right or wrong, 
— If with a death-white woman you can help. 
Let alone sister, let alone a Mildred, 
You left her — or if I, her cousin, friend 
This morning, playfellow but yesterday, 
Who said, or thought at least a thousand times, 
"I'd serve you if I could," should now face round 
And say, "Ah, that's to only signify 
I'd serve you while you're fit to serve yourself: 
So long as fifty eyes await the turn 
Of yours to forestall its yet half-formed wish, 
I'll proffer my assistance you'll not need — 
When every tongue is praising you, I'll join 
The praisers' chorus — when you're hemmed about 
With lives between you and detraction — lives 
To be laid down if a rude voice, rash eye. 
Rough hand should violate the sacred ring 
Their worship throws about you, — then indeed, 
Who'll stand up for you stout as I?" If so 
We said, and so we did, — not Mildred there 
Would be unworthy to behold us both. 



A BLOT IN THE 'sCUTCHEON 389 

But we should be unworthy, both of us. 
To be beheld by — by — your meanest dog, 
Which, if that sword were broken in your face 
Before a crowd, that badge torn off your breast, 
And you cast out with hooting and contempt, 
— Would push his way thro' all the hooters, gain 
Your side, go off with you and all your shame 
To the next ditch you choose to die in! Austin, 
Do you love me? Here's Austin, Mildred, — here's 
Your brother says he does not believe half — 
No, nor half that — of all he heard! He says, 
Look up and take his hand! 

Austin. Look up and take 

My hand, dear Mildred! 

Mildred. I — I was so youngi 

Beside, I loved him, Thorold — and I had 
No mother; God forgot me: so, I fell. 

Guendolen. Mildred! 

Mildred. Require no further! Did I dream 

That I could palliate what is done ? All's true. 
Now, punish me! A woman takes my hand? 
Let go my hand! You do not know, I see. 
I thought that Thorold told you. 

Guendolen. What is this? 

Where start you to? 

Mildred. Oh, Austin, loosen me! 

You heard the whole of it — your eyes were worse, 
In their surprise, than Thorold's! Oh, unless 
You stay to execute his sentence, loose 
My hand! Has Thorold gone, and are you here? 

Guendolen. Here, Mildred, we two friends of yours will 
wait. 
Your bidding; be you silent, sleep or muse! 
Only, when you shall want your bidding done^ 
How can we do it if we are not by ? 
Here's Austin waiting patiently your will! 
One spirit to command, and one to love 



390 ROBERT BROWNING 

And to believe in it and do its best, 

Poor as that is, to help it — why, the world 

Has been won many a time, its length and breadth. 

By just such a beginning! 

Mildred. I believe 

If once I threw my arms about your neck 
And sunk my head upon your breast, that I 
Should weep again. 

Guendolen. Let go her hand now, Austin! 

Wait for me. Pace the gallery and think 
On the world's seemings and reaUties, 
Until I call you. [Austin goes. 

Mildred. No — I cannot weep. 

No more tears from this brain — no sleep — no tears! 

Guendolen, I love you! 

Guendolen. Yes : and "love" 

Is a short word that says so very much! 
It says that you confide in me. 

Mildred. Confide! 

Guendolen. Your lover's name, then! I've so much to learn, 
Ere I can work in your behalf! 

Mildred. My friend. 

You know I cannot tell his name. 

Guendolen. At least 

He is your lover? and you love him too? 

Mildred. Ah, do you ask me that, — but I am fallen 
So low! 

Guendolen. You love him still, then? 

Mildred. My sole prop 

Against the guilt that crushes me! I say, 
Each night ere I lie down, "I was so young — 

1 had no mother, and I loved him so!" 
And then God seems indulgent, and I dare 
Trust him my soul in sleep. 

Guendolen. How could you let us 

E'en talk to you about Lord Mertoun then? 
Mildred. There is a cloud around me. 



A BLOT IN THE 'sCUTCHEON 39 1 

Guendolen. But you said 

You would receive his suit in spite of this? 

Mildred. I say there is a cloud • . . 

Guendolen. No cloud to me! 

Lord Mertoun and your lover are the same! 

Mildred. What maddest fancy . . . 

Guendolen [calling aloud] . Austin! (spare your pains — 
When I have got a truth, that truth I keep) — 

Mildred. By all you love, sweet Guendolen, forbear! 
Have I confided in you . . . 

Guendolen. Just for this! 

Austin! — Oh, not to guess it at the first! 
But I did guess it — that is, I divined, 
Felt by an instinct how it was : why else 
Should I pronounce you free from all that heap 
Of sins which had been irredeemable? 
I felt they were not yours — what other way 
Than this, not yours? The secret's wholly mine! 

Mildred. If you would see me die before his face . . . 

Guendolen. I'd hold my peace! And if the Earl returns 
To-night ? 

Mildred. Ah Heaven, he's lost! 

Guendolen. I thought so. Austin! 

Enter Austin 

Oh, where have you been hiding? 

Austin. Thorold's gone, 

I know not how, across the meadow-land. 
I watched him till I lost him in the skirts 
O' the beech-wood. 

Guendolen. Gone? All thwarts us. 

Mildred. Thorold too? 

Guendolen. I have thought. First lead this Mildred to her 
room. 
Go on the other side; and then we'll seek 
Your brother: and I'll tell you, by the way. 
The greatest comfort in the world. You said 



392 ROBERT BROWNING 

There was a clue to all. Remember, Sweet, 
He said there was a clue! I hold it. Come! 



ACT III 



Scene I. — The end of the Yew-tree Avenue under Mildred's Window. 
A light seen through a central red pane 

Enter Tresham through the trees 

Tresham. Again here! But I cannot lose myself. 
The heath — the orchard — I have traversed glades 
And dells and bosky paths which used to lead 
Into green wild-wood depths, bewildering 
My boy's adventurous step. And now they tend 
Hither or soon or late; the blackest shade 
Breaks up, the thronged trunks of the trees ope wide, 
And the dim turret I have fled from, fronts 
Again my step; the very river put 
Its arm about me and conducted me 
To this detested spot. Why then, I'll shun 
Their will no longer: do your will with me! 
Oh, bitter! To have reared a towering scheme 
Of happiness, and to behold it razed. 
Were nothing: all men hope, and see their hopes 
Frustrate, and grieve awhile, and hope anew. 
But I ... to hope that from a line like ours 
No horrid prodigy like this would spring, 
Were just as though I hoped that from these old 
Confederates against the sovereign day, 
Children of older and yet older sires. 
Whose living coral berries dropped, as now 
On me, on many a baron's surcoat once. 
On many a beauty's whimple — would proceed 
No poison-tree, to thrust, from hell its root, 
Hither and thither its strange snaky arms. 
Why came I here? What must I do? \A bell strides.'] 

A bell? 



A BLOT IN THE SCUTCHEON 393 

Midnight! and 'tis at midnight . . . Ah, I catch 
— Woods, river, plains, I catch your meaning now. 
And I obey you! Hist! This tree will serve. 

[He retires behind one of the trees. After a pause, 
enter Mertoun chalked as before. 

Mertoun. Not time! Beat out thy last voluptuous beat 
Of hope and fear, my heart! I thought the clock 
r the chapel struck as I was pushing through 
The ferns. And so I shall no more see rise 
My love-star! Oh, no matter for the past! 
So much the more delicious task to watch 
Mildred revive: to pluck out, thorn by thorn. 
All traces of the rough forbidden path 
My rash love lured her to! Each day must see 
Some fear of hers effaced, some hope renewed: 
Then there will be surprises, unforeseen 
Delights in store. I'll not regret the past. 

[The light is placed above in the purple pane. 
And see, my signal rises, Mildred's star! 
1 never saw it lovelier than now 
It rises for the last time. If it sets, 
'Tis that the re-assuring sun may dawn. 

[As he prepares to ascend the last tree of the avenue, 

Tresham arrests his arm. 

Unhand me — peasant, by your grasp! Here's gold. 
'Twas a mad freak of mine. I said I'd pluck 
A branch from the white-blossomed shrub beneath 
The casement there. Take this, and hold your peace. 

Tresham. Into the moonlight yonder, come with me! 
Out of the shadow! 

Mertoun. I am armed, fool! 

Tresham. Yes, 

Or no? You'll come into the light, or no? 
My hand is on your throat — refuse! — 

Mertoun. That voice! 

Where have I heard . . . no— that was mild and slow. 
I'll come with you. [^^O' advance. 



394 ROBERT BROWNING 

T res ham. You're armed: that's well. Declare 

Your name: who are you? 

Mertoun. (Tresham! — she is lost!) 

Tresham. Oh, silent? Do you know, you bear yourself 
Exactly as, in curious dreams I've had 
How felons, this wild earth is full of, look 
When they're detected, still your kind has lookedl 
The bravo holds an assured countenance, 
The thief is voluble and plausible, 
But silently the slave of lust has crouched 
When I have fancied it before a man. 
Your name! 

Mertoun. I do conjure Lord Tresham — ay. 

Kissing his foot, if so I might prevail — 
That he for his own sake forbear to ask 
My name! As heaven's above, his future weal 
Or woe depends upon my silence! Vain! 
I read your white inexorable face. 
Know me, Lord Tresham! \He throws off his disguises. 

Tresham. Mertoun! 

[After a pause.] Draw now! 

Mertoun. Hear me 

But speak first! 

Tresham. Not one least word on your life! 

Be sure that I will strangle in your throat 
The least word that informs me how you live 
And yet seem what you seem! No doubt 'twas you 
Taught Mildred still to keep that face and sin. 
We should join hands in frantic sympathy 
If you once taught me the unteachable, 
Explained how you can live so and so lie. 
With God's help I retain, despite my sense, 
The old belief — a life like yours is still 
Impossible. Now draw! 

Mertoun. Not for my sake, 

Do I entreat a hearing — for your sake. 
And most, for her sake! 

Tresham. Ha, ha, what should I 



A BLOT IN THE SCUTCHEON 395 

Know of your ways? A miscreant like yourself, 
How must one rouse his ire? A blow? — that's pride 
No doubt, to him! One spurns him, does one not? 
Or sets the foot upon his mouth, or spits 
Into his face! Come! Which, or all of these? 

Mertoun. Twixt him and me and Mildred, Heaven be 
judge! 
Can I avoid this? Have your will, my lord! 

[He draws and, after a few passes, falls. 

Tresham. You are not hurt? 

Mertoun. You'll hear me now! 

Tresham. But rise! 

Mertoun. Ah, Tresham, say I not "you'll hear me now!" 
And what procures a man the right to speak 
In his defence before his fellow man. 
But — I suppose — the thought that presently 
He may have leave to speak before his God 
His whole defence? 

Tresham. Not hurt ? It cannot be! 

You made no effort to resist me. Where 
Did my sword reach you? Why not have returned 
My thrusts? Hurt where? 

Mertoun. My lord — 

Tresham. How young he is! 

Mertoun. Lord Tresham, I am very young, and yet 
I have entangled other lives with mine. 
Do let me speak, and do believe my speech! 
That when I die before you presently, — 

Tresham. Can you stay here till I return with help? 

Mertoun. Oh, stay by me! When I was less than boy 
I did you grievous wrong and knew it not — 
Upon my honour, knew it not! Once known, 
I could not find what seemed a better way 
To right you than I took : my life — you feel 
How less than nothing were the giving you 
The life you've taken! But I thought my way 
The better — only for your sake and hers: 
And as you have decided otherwise. 



396 ROBERT BROWNING 

Would I had an infinity of lives 
To offer you! Now say — instruct me — thinki 
Can you, from the brief minutes I have left, 
Eke out my reparation? Oh think — thinki 
For I must wring a partial — dare I say, 
Forgiveness from you, ere I die? 

Tresham. I do 

Forgive you. 

Mertoun. Wait and ponder that great word! 
Because, if you forgive me, I shall hope 
To speak to you of — Mildred! 

Tresham. Mertoun, haste 

And anger have undone us. 'Tis not you 
Should tell me for a novelty you're young. 
Thoughtless, unable to recall the past. 
Be but your pardon ample as my own! 

Mertoun. Ah, Tresham, that a sword-stroke and a drop 
Of blood or two, should bring all this about! 
Why, 'twas my very fear of you, my love 
Of you — (what passion Uke a boy's for one 
Like you?) — that ruined me! I dreamed of you — 
You, all accomplished, courted everywhere. 
The scholar and the gentleman. I burned 
To knit myself to you: but I was young. 
And your surpassing reputation kept me 
So far aloof! Oh, wherefore all that love? 
With less of love, my glorious yesterday 
Of praise and gentlest words and kindest looks. 
Had taken place perchance six months ago. 
Even now, how happy we had been! And yet 
I know the thought of this escaped you, Tresham! 
Let me look up into your face; I feel 
'Tis changed above me: yet my eyes are glazed. 
Where? where? 

[As he endeavours to raise himself, his eye catches the 
lamp. 

Ah, Mildred! What will Mildred do? 
Tresham, her life is bound up in the life 



A BLOT IN THE SCUTCHEON 397 

That's bleeding fast away! I'll live — must live, 
There, if you'll only turn me I shall live 
And save her! Trcsham — oh, had you but heard! 
Had you but heard! What right was yours to set 
The thoughtless foot upon her life and mine. 
And then say, as we perish, "Had I thought, 
All had gone otherwise"? We've sinned and die; 
Never you sin. Lord Tresham! for you'll die, 
And God will judge you. 

Tresham. Yes, be satisfied! 

That process is begun. 

Mertoun. And she sits there 

Waiting for me! Now, say you this to her — 

You, not another — say, I saw him die 

As he breathed this, "I love her" — you don't know 

What those three small words mean! Say, loving her 

Lowers me down the bloody slope to death 

With memories ... I speak to her, not you, 

Who had no pity, will have no remorse, 

Perchance intend her , , . Die along with me. 

Dear Mildred! 'tis so easy, and you'll 'scape 

So much unkindness! Can I lie at rest, 

With rude speech spoken to you, ruder deeds 

Done to you ? — heartless men shall have my heart, 

And I tied down with grave-clothes and the worm. 

Aware, perhaps, of every blow — oh God! — 

Upon those lips — yet of no power to tear 

The felon stripe by stripe! Die, Mildred! Leave 

Their honourable world to them! For God 

We're good enough, though the world casts us out. 

T L Tj r- J I \ A whistle is heard. 

Tresham. Ho, Gerard! "• 

Enter Gerakd, Austin and Guendolen, with lights 

No one speak! You see what's done! 
I cannot bear another voice. 

Mertoun. There's light — 

Light all about me, and I move to it. 
Tresham, did I not tell you — did you not 



398 ROBERT BROWNING 

Just promise to deliver words of mine 
To Mildred? 

Tresham. I will bear those words to her. 

Mertoun. Now? 

Tresham. Now. Lift you the body, and leave me 

The head. 

[As they have half raised Mertoun, he turns suddenly. 

Mertoun. I knew they turned me: turn me not from her! 
There! stay you! there! [Dies. 

Guendolen [after a pause]. Austin, remain you here 
With Thorold until Gerard comes with help: 
Then lead him to his chamber. 1 must go 
To Mildred. 

Tresham. Guendolen, I hear each word 
You utter. Did you hear him bid me give 
His message? Did you hear my promise? I, 
And only I, see Mildred. 

Guendolen. She will die. 

Tresham. Oh no, she will not die! I dare not hope 
She'll die. What ground have you to think she'll die? 
Why, Austin's with you! 

Austin. Had we but arrived 

Before you fought! 

Tresham. There was no fight at all. 

He let me slaughter him — the boy! I'll trust 
The body there to you and Gerard — thus! 
Now bear him on before me. 

Austin. Whither bear him? 

Tresham. Oh, to my chamber! When we meet there next, 
We shall be friends. 

[ They bear out the body of Mertoun. 
Will she die, Guendolen? 

Guendolen. Where are you taking me? 

Tresham. He fell just here. 

Now answer me. Shall you in your whole life 
— You who have nought to do with Mertoun's fate. 
Now you have seen his breast upon the turf. 



A BLOT IN THE SCUTCHEON 399 

Shall you e'er walk this way if you can help? 
When you and Austin wander arm-in-arm 
Through our ancestral grounds, will not a shade 
Be ever on the meadow and the waste — 
Another kind of shade than when the night 
Shuts the woodside with all its whispers up? 
But will you ever so forget his breast 
As carelessly to cross this bloody turf 
Under the black yew avenue? That's well! 
You turn your head: and 1 then? — 

Guendolen. What is done 

Is done. My care is for the Uving. Thorold, 
Bear up against this burden: more remains 
To set the neck to! 

Tresham. Dear and ancient trees 

My fathers planted, and I loved so well! 
What have I done that, like some fabled crime 
Of yore, lets loose a Fury leading thus 
Her miserable dance amidst you all ? 
Oh, never more for me shall winds intone 
With all your tops a vast antiphony. 
Demanding and responding in God's praise! 
Hers ye are now, not mine! Farewell — farewell! 

Scene II. — Mildred's Chamber 
Mildred alone 

Mildred. He comes not! I have heard of those who seemed 
Resourceless in prosperity, — you thought 
Sorrow might slay them when she listed; yet 
Did they so gather up their diffused strength 
At her first menace, that they bade her strike. 
And stood and laughed her subtlest skill to scorn. 
Oh, 'tis not so with me! The first woe fell, 
And the rest fall upon it, not on me: 
Else should I bear that Henry comes not? — fails 
Just this first night out of so many nights ? 



400 ROBERT BROWNING 

Loving is done with. Were he sitting now, 

As so few hours since, on that seat, we'd love 

No more — contrive no thousand happy ways 

To hide love from the loveless, any more. 

I think I might have urged some little point 

In my defence, to Thorold; he was breathless 

For the least hint of a defence: but no. 

The first shame over, all that would might fall. 

No Henry! Yet I merely sit and think 

The morn's deed o'er and o'er. I must have crept 

Out of myself. A Mildred that has lost 

Her lover — oh, 1 dare not look upon 

Such woe! I crouch away from it! 'Tis she, 

Mildred, will break her heart, not I! The world 

Forsakes me: only Henry's left me — left? 

When I have lost him, for he does not come, 

And I sit stupidly . . . Oh Heaven, break up 

This worse than anguish, this mad apathy, 

By any means or any messenger! 

Tresham [without^. Mildred! 

Mildred. Come in! Heaven hears me! 

[£«/«■ Tresham.] You .^ alone? 

Oh, no more cursing! 

Tresham, Mildred, I must sit. 

There — ^you sit! 

Mildred. Say it, Thorold — do not look 

The curse! deliver all you come to say! 
What must become of me ? Oh, speak that thought 
Which makes your brow and cheeks so pale! 

Tresham. My thought? 

Mildred. All of it! 

Tresham. How we waded years — ago- 

After those water-lilies, till the plash, 
I know not how, surprised us; and you dared 
Neither advance nor turn back: so, we stood 
Laughing and crying until Gerard came — 
Once safe upon the turf, the loudest too. 



A BLOT IN THE SCUTCHEON 4©! 

For once more reaching the relinquished prize! 
How idle thoughts are, some men's, dying men'sl 
Mildred, — 

Mildred. You call me kindlier by my name 
Than even yesterday: what is in that? 

Tresham. It weighs so much upon my mind that I 
This morning took an office not my own! 
I might ... of course, I must be glad or grieved, 
Content or not, at every Httle thing 
That touches you. I may with a wrung heart 
Even reprove you, Mildred; I did more: 
Will you forgive me? 

Mildred. Thorold ? do you mock ? 

Oh no . . . and yet you bid me ... say that word! 

Tresham. Forgive me, Mildred! — are you silent. Sweet? 

Mildred [starting up]. Why does not Henry Mertoun come 
to-night ? 
Are you, too, silent? 

[Dashing his mantle aside, and pointing to his scabbard, 

ivhich is empty. 
Ah, this speaks for you! 
You've murdered Henry Mertoun! Now proceed! 
What is it I must pardon? This and all? 
Well, I do pardon you — I think I do. 
Thorold, how very wretched you must be! 

Tresham. He bade me tell you . . . 

Mildred. What I do forbid 

Your utterance of! So much that you may tell 
And will not — how you murdered him . . . but, no! 
You'll tell me that he loved me, never more 
Than bleeding out his life there: must I say 
"Indeed," to that? Enough! I pardon you. 

Tresham. You cannot, Mildred! for the harsh words, yes: 
Of this last deed Another's judge: whose doom 
I wait in doubt, despondency and fear. 

Mildred. Oh, true! There's nought for me to pardon! True! 
You loose my soul of all its cares at once. 



402 ROBERT BROWNING 

Death makes me sure of him for ever! You 
Tell me his last words? He shall tell me them, 
And take ray answer — not in words, but reading 
Himself the heart I had to read him late, 
Which death . . . 

Tresham. Death? You are dying too? Well said 

Of Guendolen! 1 dared not hope you'd die: 
But she was sure of it. 

Mildred. Tell Guendolen 

I loved her, and tell Austin . . . 

Tresham. Him you loved: 

And me ? 

Mildred. Ah, Thorold! Was't not rashly done 
To quench that blood, on fire with youth and hope 
And love of me — whom you loved too, and yet 
Suffered to sit here waiting his approach 
While you were slaying him? Oh, doubtlessly 
You let him speak his poor confused boy's-speech 
— Do his poor utmost to disarm your wrath 
And respite me! — you let him try to give 
The story of our love and ignorance, 
And the brief madness and the long despair — 
You let him plead all this, because your code 
Of honour bids you hear before you strike: 
But at the end, as he looked up for life 
Into your eyes — you struck him down! 

Tresham. No! No! 

Had I but heard him — had I let him speak 
Half the truth — less — had I looked long on him 
I had desisted! Why, as he lay there, 
The moon on his flushed cheek, 1 gathered all 
The story ere he told it: I saw through 
The troubled surface of his crime and yours 
A depth of purity immovable, 
Had I but glanced, where all seemed turbidest 
Had gleamed some inlet to the calm beneath ; 
I would not glance: my punishment's at hand. 



A BLOT IN THE 'sCUTCHEON 403 

There, Mildred, is the truth! and you — say on — 
You curse me? 

Mildred. As I dare approach that Heaven 

Which has not bade a Hving thing despair, 
Which needs no code to keep its grace from stain, 
But bids the vilest worm that turns on it 
Desist and be forgiven, — I — forgive not, 
But bless you, Thorold, from my soul of souls! 

[Falls on his nec\. 
There! Do not think too much upon the past! 
The cloud that's broke was all the same a cloud 
While it stood up between my friend and you; 
You hurt him 'neath its shadow: but is that 
So past retrieve? I have his heart, you know; 
I may dispose of it: I give it you! 
It loves you as mine loves! Confirm me, Henry! [Dies. 

Tresham. I wish thee joy. Beloved! I am glad 
In thy full gladness! 

Gtiendolen [without]. Mildred! Tresham! 

[Entering with Austin.] Thorold, 
I could desist no longer. Ah, she swoons! 
That's well. 

Tresham. Oh, better far than that! 

Guendolen. She's dead! 

Let me unlock her arms! 

Tresham. She threw them thus 

About my neck, and blessed me, and then died: 
You'll let them stay now, Guendolen! 

Austin. Leave her 

And look to him! What ails you, Thorold? 

Guendolen. White 

As she, and whiter! Austin! quick — this side! 

Austin. A froth is oozing through his clenched teeth; 
Both lips, where they're not bitten through, are black: 
Speak, dearest Thorold! 

Tresham. Something does weigh down 
My neck beside her weight: thanks: I should fall 



404 ROBERT BROWNING 

But for you, Austin, I believe! — there, there, 
'Twill pass away soon! — ^ah, — I had forgotten: 
I am dying. 

Guendolcn. Thorold — Thorold — why was this? 

Tresham. I said, just as I drank the poison off, 
The earth would be no longer earth to me. 
The life out of all life was gone from me. 
There are blind ways provided, the fore-done 
Heart-weary player in this pageant-world 
Drops out by, letting the main masque defile 
By the conspicuous portal : I am through — 
Just through! 

GuendoUn. Don't leave him, Austin! Death is close. 

Tresham. Already Mildred's face is peacefuller! 
I see you, Austin — feel you; here's my hand. 
Put yours in it — you, Guendolen, yours too! 
You're lord and lady now — you're Treshams; name 
And frame are yours: you hold our 'scutcheon up. 
Austin, no blot on it! You see how blood 
Must wash one blot away : the first blot came 
And the first blood came. To the vain world's eye 
All's gules again: no care to the vain world. 
From whence the red was drawn! 

Austin. No blot shall come! 

Tresham. I said that: yet it did come. Should it come. 
Vengeance is God's, not man's. Remember me! {Dies. 

Guendolen [letting jail the pulseless arm^. Ah, Thorold, 
we can but — remember you! 



MANFRED 

BY 
LORD BYRON 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 

George Gordon, sixth Lord Byron, was the son of a profligate guards- 
man and an eccentric Scottish heiress. He was born in London on 
January 22, 1788, educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge, 
and came into prominence with the publication of "English Bards and 
Scotch Reviewers" (1809), a satire provoked by an adverse criticism of 
his youthful "Hours of Idleness" in the "Edinburgh Review." After two 
years of travel on the Continent, he published the first two cantos of 
"Childe Harold," and in 1815 married Miss Milbanke, a prospective 
heiress. She left him a year later, and in the scandal which accompanied 
the separation Byron became very unpopular. He left England never 
to return, and Sf)ent most of his remaining years in Italy. 

It is unnecessary to follow in detail the history of his life abroad. In 
spite of great irregularities in conduct, Byron continued to write 
copiously, seldom with care or attention to finish, but often with 
brilliance. His Oriental tales, which made him the hero of the 
sentimental readers of the day, "The Giaour," "The Bride of 
Abydos," "The Corsair," had been written in the years preceding his 
marriage; "Manfred," his first and in many resjjccts his most inter- 
esting drama, appeared in 1817; "Don Juan" came out at intervals 
from 1819 to 1824; and during the same period he produced with 
extraordinary rapidity a group of plays of which the so<alled mys- 
tery, "Cain," is the most important. "The Vision of Judgment," a 
merciless satire on Southey's a-xjtheosis of George III, followed in 
1822. 

Byron had been interested in revolutionary [x>litic$ in Italy, and 
when the Greeks revolted against the Turks in 1823 he joined them 
as a volunteer; but before he saw fighting he died of fever at 
Missolonghi, April 19, 1824. His death at least was worthy of the 
noblest passion of his life, the passion for liberty. 

For dramatic writing Byron was not favorably endowed. His 
egotism was too persistent to enable him to enter vitally and sym- 
pathetically into a variety of characters, and the hero of his plays, as 
of his poems, is usually himself more or less disguised. Yet some 
of his most eloquent lines are to be found in his dramas, and "Manfred" 
is an impressive and characteristic product of one of the most brilliandy 
gifted of English poets. 



MANFRED 

A DRAMATIC POEM 

'There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.' 

DRAMATIS PERSONS 

Manfred Witch of the Alps 

Chamois Hunter Arimanes 

Abbot of St. Maurice Nemesis 

Manuel The Destinies 

Herman Spirits, etc. 

The scene of the Drama is amongst the Higher Alps — partly in the 
Castle of Manfred, and partly in the Mountains. 

ACT I 

Scene I. — Mai^freo alone. — Scene, a Gothic Gallery. 
Time, Midnight. 

Manfred 

THE lamp must be replenish'd, but even then 
It will not burn so long as I must watch. 
My slumbers — if I slumber — are not sleep, 
But a continuance of enduring thought. 
Which then I can resist not: in my heart 
There is a vigil, and these eyes but close 
To look within; and yet I live, and bear 
The aspect and the form of breathing men. 
But grief should be the instructor of the wise; 
Sorrow is knowledge: they who know the most 
Must mourn the deepest o'er the fatal truth, 
The Tree of Knowledge is not that of Life. 
Philosophy and science, and the springs 
Of wonder, and the wisdom of the world, 
I have essay'd, and in my mind there is 

407 



408 LORD BYRON 

A power to make these subject to itself — 

But they avail not: I have done men good, 

And I have met with good even among men — 

But this avail'd not: I have had my foes, 

And none have baffled, many fallen before me — 

But this avail'd not : — Good, or evil, life. 

Powers, passions, all I see in other beings. 

Have been to me as rain unto the sands. 

Since that all-nameless hour. I have no dread. 

And feel the curse to have no natural fear, 

Nor fluttering throb, that beats with hopes or wishes. 

Or lurking love of something on the earth. 

Now to my task. — 

Mysterious Agency! 
Ye spirits of the unbounded Universe, 
Whom I have sought in darkness and in lightl 
Ye, who do compass earth about, and dwell 
In subtler essence! ye, to whom the tops 
Of mountains inaccessible are haunts, 
And earth's and ocean's caves familiar things — 
I call upon ye by the written charm 
Which gives me power upon you — Rise! appear! 

[A pause. 
They come not yet. — Now by the voice of him 
Who is the first among you; by this sign, 
Which makes you tremble; by the claims of him 
Who is undying, — Rise! appear! — Appear! 



If it be so. — Spirits of earth and air. 
Ye shall not thus elude me: by a power. 
Deeper than all yet urged, a tyrant-spell. 
Which had its birthplace in a star condemn'd. 
The burning wreck of a demolish'd world, 
A wandering hell in the eternal space; 
By the strong curse which is upon my soul. 
The thought which is within me and around me, 
I do compel ye to my will. Appear! 



[A pause. 



MANFRED 409 

[A Star is seen at the darf^er end of the gallery: it is 
stationary; and a voice is heard singing. 

First Spirit 

Mortal! to thy bidding bow'd, 
From my mansion in the cloud, 
Which the breath of twilight builds, 
And the summer's sunset gilds 
With the azure and vermilion 
Which is mix'd for my pavilion; 
Though thy quest may be forbidden. 
On a star-beam I have ridden. 
To thine adjuration bow'd; 
Mortal — be thy wish avow'd! 

Voice of the Second Spirit 

Mont Blanc is the monarch of mountains; 

They crown'd him long ago 
On a throne of rocks, in a robe of clouds, 

With a diadem of snow. 
Around his waist are forests braced, 

The Avalanche in his hand; 
But ere it fall, that thundering ball 

Must pause for my command. 
The Glacier's cold and restless mass 

Moves onward day by day; 
But I am he who bids it pass. 

Or with its ice delay. 
I am the spirit of the place, 

Could make the mountain bow 
And quiver to his cavern'd base — 

And what with me wouldst Thou? 

Voice of the Third Spirit 

In the blue depth of the waters, 

Where the wave hath no strife. 
Where the wind is a stranger, 



410 LORD BYRON 

And the sea-snake hath life, 
Where the Mermaid is decking 

Her green hair with shells; 
Like the storm on the surface 

Came the sound of thy spells; 
O'er my calm Hall of Cor:<.l 

The deep echo roll'd — 
To the Spirit of Ocean 

Thy wishes unfold! 

Fourth Spwit 

Where the slumbering earthquake 

Lies pillow 'd on fire, 
And the lakes of bitumen 

Rise boilingly higher; 
Where the roots of the Andes 

Strike deep in the earth, 
As their summits to heaven 

Shoot soaringly forth; 
I have quitted my birthplace, 

Thy bidding to bide — 
Thy spell hath subdued me. 

Thy will be my guide! 

Fifth Spirit 

I am the Rider of the wind, 

The Stirrer of the storm; 
The hurricane I left behind 

Is yet with lightning warm; 
To speed to thee, o'er shore and sea 

I swept upon the blast: 
The fleet I met sail'd well, and yet 

'Twill sink ere night be past. 

Sixth Spirit 

My dwelling is the shadow of the night. 
Why doth thy magic torture me with light? 



MANFRED 4II 

Seventh Spirit 

The star which rules thy destiny 

Was ruled, ere earth began, by me: 

It was a world as fresh and fair 

As e'er revolved round sun in air; 

Its course was free and regular. 

Space bosom'd not a lovelier star. 

The hour arrived — and it became 

A wandering mass of shapeless flame, 

A pathless comet, and a curse, 

The menace of the universe; 

Still rolling on with innate force. 

Without a sphere, without a course, 

A bright deformity on high. 

The monster of the upper sky I 

And thou! beneath its influence born — 

Thou worm! whom I obey and scorn — 

Forced by a power (which is not thine, 

And lent thee but to make thee mine) 

For this brief moment to descend. 

Where these weak spirits round thee bend 

And parley with a thing like thee — 

What wouldst thou. Child of Clay, with me? 

The Seven Spirits 

Earth, ocean, air, night, mountains, winds, thy star. 

Are at thy beck and bidding. Child of Clay! 
Before thee at thy quest their spirits are — 

What wouldst thou with us, son of mortals — say? 

Man. Forgetfulness — 

First Spirit. Of what— of whom — and why ? 

Man. Of that which is within me; read it there — 
Ye know it, and I cannot utter it. 

Spirit. We can but give thee that which we possess: 
Ask of us subjects, sovereignty, the power 



412 LORD BYRON 

O'er earth, the whole, or portion, or a sign 
Which shall control the elements, whereof 
We are the dominators, — each and all. 
These shall be thine. 

Man. Oblivion, self-oblivion — 

Can ye not wring from out the hidden realms 
Ye offer so profusely what I ask? 

Spirit. It is not in our essence, in our skill; 
But — thou mayst die. 

Man. Will death bestow it on me? 

Spirit. We are immortal, and do not forget; 
We are eternal; and to us the past 
Is as the future, present. Art thou answer'd? 

Man. Ye mock me — but the power which brought ye here 
Hath made you mine. Slaves, scoff not at my will! 
The mind, the spirit, the Promethean spark, 
The lightning of my being, is as bright, 
Pervading, and far darting as your own. 
And shall not yield to yours, though coop'd in clay I 
Answer, or I will teach you what I am. 

Spirit. We answer as we answer'd; our reply 
Is even in thine own words. 

Man. Why say ye so? 

Spirit. If, as thou say'st, thine essence be as ours. 
We have replied in telling thee, the thing 
Mortals call death hath nought to do with us. 

Man. I then have call'd ye from your realms in vain; 
Ye cannot, or ye will not, aid me. 

Spirit. Say; 

What we possess we offer; it is thine: 
Bethink ere thou dismiss us, ask again — 
Kingdom, and sway, and strength, and length of days — 

Man. Accursed! What have I to do with days? 
They are too long already. — Hence — begone! 

Spirit. Yet pause: being here, our will would do thee service; 
Bethink thee, is there then no other gift 
Which ye can make not worthless in thine eyes? 



MANFRED 413 

Man. No, none: yet stay — one moment, ere we part — 
I would behold ye face to face. I hear 
Your voices, sweet and melancholy sounds, 
As music on the waters; and I see 
The steady aspect of a clear large star; 
But nothing more. Approach me as ye are. 
Or one, or all, in your accustom'd forms. 

Spirit. We have no forms, beyond the elements 
Of which we are the mind and principle: 
But choose a form — ^in that we will appear. 

Man. I have no choice; there is no form on earth 
Hideous or beautiful to me. Let him, 
Who is most powerful of ye, take such aspect 
As unto him may seem most fitting — Come! 

Seventh Spirit (appearing in the shape of a beautiful female 
figure). Behold! 

Man. Oh God! if it be thus, and thou 

Art not a madness and a mockery, 
I yet might be most happy. I will clasp thee. 
And we again will be— [The figure vanishes. 

My heart is crush'd! 

[Manfred jails senseless. 

{A Voice is heard in the Incantation which follows.) 
When the moon is on the wave. 

And the glow-worm in the grass. 
And the meteor on the grave, 

And the wisp on the morass; 
When the falling stars are shooting, 
And the answer'd owls are hooting. 
And the silent leaves are still 
In the shadow of the hill. 
Shall my soul be upon thine, 
With a power and with a sign. 

Though thy slumber may be deep. 
Yet thy spirit shall not sleep; 



414 LORD BYRON 

There are shades which will not vanish, 
There are thoughts thou canst not banish; 
By a power to thee unknown, 
Thou canst never be alone; 
Thou art wrapt as with a shroud, 
Thou art gather'd in a cloud; 
And for ever shalt thou dwell 
In the spirit of this spell. 

Though thou seest me not pass by. 
Thou shalt feel me with thine eye 
As a thing that, though unseen. 
Must be near thee, and hath been; 
And when in that secret dread 
Thou hast turn'd around thy head. 
Thou shalt marvel I am not 
As thy shadow on the spot, 
And the power which thou dost feel 
Shall be what thou must conceal. 

And a magic voice and verse 

Hath baptized thee with a curse; 

And a spirit of the air 

Hath begirt thee with a snare; 

In the wind there is a voice 

Shall forbid thee to rejoice; 

And to thee shall Night deny 

All the quiet of her sky; 

And the day shall have a sun, 

Which shall make thee wish it done. 

From thy false tears I did distil 
An essence which hath strength to kill; 
From thy own heart I then did wring 
The black blood in its blackest spring; 
From thy own smile I snatch'd the snake, 
For there it coil'd as in a brake; 



MANFRED 415 

From thy own lip I drew the charm 
Which gave all these their chief est harm; 
In proving every poison known, 
I found the strongest was thine own. 

By thy cold breast and serpent smile. 

By thy unfathom'd gulfs of guile, 

By that most seeming virtuous eye, 

By thy shut soul's hypocrisy; 

By the perfection of thine art 

Which pass'd for human thine own heart; 

By thy delight in others' pain, 

And by thy brotherhood of Cain, 

I call upon thee! and compel 

Thyself to be thy proper Hell! 

And on thy head I pour the vial 

Which doth devote thee to this trial; 

Nor to slumber, nor to die, 

Shall be in thy destiny; 

Though thy death shall still seem near 

To thy wish, but as a fear; 

Lo! the spell now works around thee, 

And the clankless chain hath bound thee; 

O'er thy heart and brain together 

Hath the word been pass'd — now wither! 

Scene II. — The Mountain of the Jungfrau. — Time, Morning. 
Manfred alone upon the Cliffs. 

Man. The spirits I have raised abandon me. 
The spells which I have studied baffle me. 
The remedy I reck'd of tortured me; 
I lean no more on superhuman aid. 
It hath no power upon the past, and for 
The future, till the past be gulf'd in darkness, 
It is not of my search. — My mother Earth! 
And thou fresh breaking Day, and you, ye Mountains, 



41 6 LORD BYRON 

Why are ye beautiful ? I cannot love ye. 

And thou, the bright eye of the universe, 

That of)enest over all, and unto all 

Art a delight — thou shin'st not on my heart. 

And you, ye crags, upon whose extreme edge 

I stand, and on the torrent's brink beneath 

Behold the tall pines dwindled as to shrubs 

In dizziness of distance; when a leap, 

A stir, a motion, even a breath, would bring 

My breast upon its rocky bosom's bed 

To rest for ever — wherefore do I pause? 

I feel the impulse — yet I do not plunge; 

I see the peril — yet do not recede; 

And my brain reels — and yet my foot is firm. 

There is a power upon me which withholds. 

And makes it my fatality to live; 

If it be life to wear within myself 

This barrenness of spirit, and to be 

My own soul's sepulchre, for I have ceased 

To justify my deeds unto myself — 

The last infirmity of evil. Ay, 

Thou winged and cloud-cleaving minister, 

[An eagle passes. 
Whose happy flight is highest into heaven, 
Well may'st thou swoop so near me — I should be 
Thy prey, and gorge thine eaglets; thou art gone 
Where the eye cannot follow thee; but thine 
Yet pierces downward, onward, or above. 
With a p)ervading vision. — Beautiful! 
How beautiful is all this visible world! 
How glorious in its action and itself! 
But we, who name ourselves its sovereigns, we, 
Half dust, half deity, alike unfit 
To sink or soar, with our mix'd essence make 
A conflict of its elements, and breathe 
The breath of degradation and of pride, 
Contending with low wants and lofty will. 



MANFRED 417 

Till our mortality predominates, 

And men are — what they name not to themselves, 

And trust not to each other. Hark! the note, 

[ The Shepherd's pipe in the distance is heard. 
The natural music of the mountain reed 
(For here the patriarchal days are not 
A pastoral fable) pipes in the liberal air, 
Mix'd with the sweet bells of the sauntering herd; 
My soul would drink those echoes. — Oh, that I were 
The viewless spirit of a lovely sound, 
A living voice, a breathing harmony, 
A bodiless enjoyment — born and dying 
With the blest tone which made me! 

Enter from below a Chamois Hunter 

Chamois Hunter. Even so 

This way the chamois leapt : her nimble feet 
Have baffled me; my gains to-day will scarce 
Repay my break-neck travail. — What is here? 
Who seems not of my trade, and yet hath reach'd 
A height which none even of our mountaineers. 
Save our best hunters, may attain: his garb 
Is goodly, his mien manly, and his air 
Proud as a freeborn peasant's, at this distance — 
I will approach him nearer. 

Man. {not perceiving the other). To be thus — 
Grey-hair'd with anguish, like these blasted pines. 
Wrecks of a single winter, barkless, branchless, 
A blighted trunk upon a cursed root. 
Which but supplies a feeling to decay — 
And to be thus, eternally but thus. 
Having been otherwise! Now furrow'd o'er 
With wrinkles, plough'd by moments, not by years 
And hours — all tortured into ages — hours 
Which I outlive! — Ye toppling crags of ice! 
Ye avalanches, whom a breath draws down 
In mountainous o'erwhelming, come and crush mel 



4l8 LORD BYRON 

I hear ye momently above, beneath, 
Crash with a frequent conflict; but ye pass, 
And only fall on things that still would live; 
On the young flourishing forest, or the hut 
And hamlet of the harmless villager. 

C. Hun. The mists begin to rise from up the valley; 
I'll warn him to descend, or he may chance 
To lose at once his way and life together. 

Man. The mists boil up around the glaciers; clouds 
Rise curling fast beneath me, white and sulphury, 
Like foam from the roused ocean of deep Hell, 
Whose every wave breaks on a living shore 
Heap'd with the damn'd hke pebbles. — I am giddy. 

C. Hun. I must approach him cautiously; if near, 
A sudden step will starde him, and he 
Seems tottering already. 

Man. Mountains have fallen, 

Leaving a gap in the clouds, and with the shock 
Rocking their Alpine brethren; filling up 
The ripe green valleys with destruction's splinters; 
Damming the rivers with a sudden dash. 
Which crush'd the waters into mist and made 
Their fountains find another channel — thus. 
Thus, in its old age, did Mount Rosenberg — 
Why stood I not beneath it? 

C. Hun. Friend! have a care. 

Your next step may be fatal! — for the love 
Of him who made you, stand not on that brink! 

Man. (not hearing Aim). Such would have been 
for me a fitting tomb; 
My bones had then been quiet in their depth; 
They had not then been strewn upon the rocks 
For the wind's pastime — as thus — thus they shall be — 
In this one plunge. — Farewell, ye opening heavens! 
Look not upon me thus reproachfully — 
Ye were not meant for me — Earth! take these atoms! 



MANFRED 419 

[As Manfred is in act to spring from the cliff, the 
Chamois Hunter seizes and retains him with 
a sudden grasp. 

C. Hun. Hold, madman! — though aweary of thy life. 
Stain not our pure vales with thy guilty blood! 
Away with me — I will not quit my hold. 

Man. I am most sick at heart — nay, grasp me not — 
I am all feebleness — the mountains whirl 
Spinning around me — I grow blind — What art thou? 

C. Hun. I'll answer that anon. — Away with me! 
The clouds grow thicker — there — now lean on me — 
Place your foot here — here, take this staff, and cling 
A moment to that shrub — now give me your hand, 
And hold fast by my girdle — softly — well — 
The Chalet will be gain'd within an hour. 
Come on, we'll quickly find a surer footing, 
And something like a pathway, which the torrent 
Hath wash'd since winter. — Come, 'tis bravely done; 
You should have been a hunter. — Follow me. 

[As they descend the roct^s with difficulty, the scene closes. 

ACT II 
Scene I. — A Cottage amongst the Bernese Alps. 

Manhleo and the Chamois Hunter. 

C. Hun. No, no, yet pause, thou must not yet go forth: 
Thy mind and body are alike unfit 
To trust each other, for some hours, at least; 
When thou art better, I will be thy guide — 
But whither? 

Man. It imports not; I do know 

My route full well and need no further guidance. 

C. Hun. Thy garb and gait bespeak thee of high lineage — 
One of the many chiefs, whose castled crags 
Look o'er the lower valleys — which of these 
May call thee lord? I only know their portals; 



420 LORD BYRON 

My way of life leads me but rarely down 

To bask by the huge hearths of those old halls, 

Carousing with the vassals; but the paths, 

Which step from out our mountains to their doors, 

I know from childhood — which of these is thine? 

Man. No matter. 

C. Hun. Well, sir, pardon me the question, 

And be of better cheer. Come, taste my wine; 
'Tis of an ancient vintage; many a day 
'T has thaw'd my veins among our glaciers, now 
Let it do thus for thine. Come, pledge me fairly, 

Man. Away, away! there's blood upon the brimi 
Will it then never — never sink in the earth ? 

C. Hun. What dost thou mean ? thy senses wander 
from thee. 

Man. I say 'tis blood — my blood! the pure warm stream 
Which ran in the veins of my fathers, and in ours 
When we were in our youth, and had one heart, 
And loved each other as we should not love. 
And this was shed: but still it rises up, 
Colouring the clouds, that shut me out from heaven. 
Where thou art not — and I shall never be. 

C. Hun. Man of strange words, and some half-maddening 
sin. 
Which makes thee people vacancy, whate'er 
Thy dread and sufferance be, there's comfort yet — 
The aid of holy men, and heavenly patience — 

Man. Patience and patience! Hence — that word was made 
For brutes of burthen, not for birds of prey; 
Preach it to mortals of a dust like thine, — 
I am not of thine order. 

C. Hun. • Thanks to heaven! 

I would not be of thine for the free fame 
Of William Tell; but whatsoe'er thine ill. 
It must be borne, and these wild starts are useless. 

Man. Do I not bear it? — Look on me — I live. 

C. Hun. This is convulsion, and no healthful life. 



MANFRED 42I 

Man, I tell thee, man! I have lived many years, 
Many long years, but they are nothing now 
To those which I must number: ages — ages — 
Space and eternity — and consciousness, 
With the fierce thirst of death — and still unslaked! 

C. Hun. Why, on thy brow the seal of middle age 
Hath scarce been set; I am thine elder far. 

Man. Think'st thou existence doth depend on time? 
It doth; but actions are our epochs: mine 
Have made my days and nights imperishable. 
Endless, and all alike, as sands on the shore. 
Innumerable atoms; and one desert. 
Barren and cold, on which the wild waves break, 
But nothing rests, save carcasses and wrecks. 
Rocks, and the salt-surf weeds of bitterness. 

C. Hun. Alas! he's mad — but yet I must not leave him. 

Man. I would I were, for then the things I see 
Would be but a distemper'd dream. 

C.Hun. What is it 

That thou dost see, or think thou look'st upon ? 

Man. Myself, and thee — a peasant of the Alps, 
Thy humble virtues, hospitable home. 
And spirit patient, pious, proud and free; 
Thy self-respect, grafted on innocent thoughts; 
Thy days of health, and nights of sleep; thy toils. 
By danger dignified, yet guiltless; hopes 
Of cheerful old age and a quiet grave. 
With cross and garland over its green turf. 
And thy grandchildren's love for epitaph; 
This do I see — and then I look within — 
It matters not — my soul was scorch'd already! 

C. Hun. And wouldst thou then exchange thy lot for mine ? 

Man. No, friend! I would not wrong thee nor exchange 
My lot with living being: I can bear — 
However wretchedly, 'tis still to bear — 
In life what others could not brook to dream, 
But perish in their slumber. 



422 LORD BYRON 

C. Hun, And with this — 

This cautious feeling for another's pain, 
Canst thou be black with evil? — say not so. 
Can one of gentle thoughts have wreak'd revenge 
Upwn his enemies? 

Man. Oh! no, no, no! 

My injuries came down on those who loved me — 
On those whom I best loved : I never quell'd 
An enemy, save in my just defence — 
But my embrace was fatal. 

C. Hun. Heaven give thee rest! 

And penitence restore thee to thyself; 
My prayers shall be for thee. 

Man. I need them not. 

But can endure thy pity. I depart — 
'Tis time — farewell! — Here's gold, and thanks for thee; 
No words — it is thy due. Follow me not; 
I know my path — the mountain peril's past: 
And once again, I charge thee, follow not! [Exit Manfred, 

Scene II. — A lower Valley in the Alps. — A Cataract. 

Enter Manfred 
Man. It is not noon; the sunbow's rays still arch 

The torrent with the many hues of heaven. 

And roll the sheeted silver's waving column 

O'er the crag's headlong perpendicular. 

And fling its lines of foaming light along. 

And to and fro, like the pale courser's tail 

The Giant steed, to be bestrode by Death, 

As told in the Apocalypse. No eyes 

But mine now drink this sight of loveliness; 

I should be sole in this sweet solitude, 

And with the Spirit of the place divide 

The homage of these waters. — I will call her. 
[Manfred tal^es some of the water into the palm of his hand, 



MANFRED 423 

and flings it in the air, muttering the adjuration. After 
a pause, the Witch of the Alps rises beneath the arck 
of the sunbow of the torrent. 

Beautiful Spirit! with thy hair of light 

And dazzling eyes of glory, in whose form 

The charms of earth's least mortal daughters grow 

To an unearthly stature, in an essence 

Of purer elements; while the hues of youth 

(Carnation'd hke a sleeping infant's cheek 

Rock'd by the beating of her mother's heart, 

Or the rose-tints, which summer's twilight leaves 

Upon the lofty glacier's virgin snow. 

The blush of earth embracing with her heaven) 

Tinge thy celestial aspect, and make tame 

The beauties of the sunbow which bends o'er thee. 

Beautiful Spirit! in thy calm clear brow, 

Wherein is glass'd serenity of soul, 

Which of itself shows immortality, 

1 read that thou wilt pardon to a Son 

Of Earth, whom the abstruser powers permit 

At times to commune with them — if that he 

Avail him of his spells — to call thee thus. 

And gaze on thee a moment. 

Witch. Son of Earth! 

I know thee, and the powers which give thee power; 

I know thee for a man of many thoughts, 

And deeds of good and ill, extreme in both, 

Fatal and fated in thy sufferings. 

I have expected this — what wouldst thou with me? 
Man. To look upon thy beauty — nothing further. 

The face of the earth hath madden'd me, and I 

Take refuge in her mysteries, and pierce 

To the abodes of those who govern her — 

But they can nothing aid me. I have sought 

From them what they could not bestow, and now 

I search no further. 



424 LORD BYRON 

Witch. What could be the quest 

Which is not in the power of the most powerful, 
The rulers of the invisible ? 

Man. A boon; 

But why should I repeat it ? 'twere in vain. 

Witch. I know not that; let thy lips utter it. 

Man. Well, though it torture me, 'tis but the same; 
My pang shall find a voice. From my youth upwards 
My spirit walk'd not with the souls of men, 
Nor look'd upon the earth with human eyes; 
The thirst of their ambition was not mine, 
The aim of their existence was not mine; 
My joys, my griefs, my passions, and my powers, 
Made me a stranger; though I wore the form, 
I had no sympathy with breathing flesh. 
Nor midst the creatures of clay that girded me 
Was there but one who — but of her anon. 
I said, with men, and with the thoughts of men, 
I held but slight communion; but instead. 
My joy was in the Wilderness, to breathe 
The difficult air of the iced mountain's top. 
Where the birds dare not build, nor insect's wing 
FUt o'er the herbless granite; or to plunge 
Into the torrent, and to roll along 
On the swift whirl of the new breaking wave 
Of river-stream, or ocean, in their flow. 
In these my early strength exulted; or 
To follow through the night the moving moon. 
The stars and their development; or catch 
The dazzling lightnings till my eyes grew dim; 
Or to look, list'ning, on the scatter'd leaves. 
While Autumn winds were at their evening song. 
These were my pastimes, and to be alone; 
For if the beings, of whom I was one, — 
Hating to be so, — cross'd me in my path, 
I felt myself degraded back to them, 
And was all clay again. And then I dived, 



MANFRED 425 

In my lone wanderings, to the caves of death, 

Searching its cause in its effect; and drew 

From wither'd bones, and skulls, and heap'd up dust, 

Conclusions most forbidden. Then I pass'd 

The nights of years in sciences, untaught 

Save in the old time; and with time and toil, 

And terrible ordeal, and such penance 

As in itself hath power upon the air 

And spirits that do compass air and earth, 

Space, and the peopled infinite, I made 

Mine eyes familiar with Eternity, 

Such as, before me, did the Magi, and 

He who from out their fountain dwellings raised 

Eros and Anteros, at Gadara, 

As I do thee; — and with my knowledge grew 

The thirst of knowledge, and the power and joy 

Of this most bright intelligence, until — 

Witch. Proceed. 

Man. Oh, I but thus prolong'd my words, 

Boasting these idle attributes, because 
As I approach the core of my heart's grier 
But to my task. I have not named to thee 
Father or mother, mistress, friend, or being, 
With whom I wore the chain of human ties; 
If I had such, they seem'd not such to me — 
Yet there was one — 

Witch. Spare not thyself — proceed. 

Man. She was like me in lineaments — her eyes, 
Her hair, her features, all, to the very tone 
Even of her voice, they said were like to mine; 
But soften'd all, and temper'd into beauty; 
She had the same lone thoughts and wanderings. 
The quest of hidden knowledge, and a mind 
To comprehend the universe; nor these 
Alone, but with them gentler powers than mine. 
Pity, and smiles, and tears — which I had not; 
And tenderness — but that I had for her; 



426 LORD BYRON 

Humility — and that I never had. 

Her faults were mine — her virtues were her own — 

I loved her, and destroy 'd her! 

Witch. With thy hand? 

Man. Not with my hand, but heart — which broke her heart; 
It gazed on mine, and wither'd. I have shed 
Blood, but not hers — and yet her blood was shed — 
I saw, and could not stanch it. 

Witch. And for this, 

A being of the race thou dost despise, 
The order which thine own would rise above, 
Mingling with us and ours, thou dost forego 
The gifts of our great knowledge, and shrink'st back 
To recreant mortality — Away! 

Man. Daughter of Air! I tell thee, since that hour — 
But words are breath — look on me in my sleep, 
Or watch my watchings — Come and sit by rael 
My solitude is solitude no more. 
But peopled with the Furies; — I have gnash'd 
My teeth in darkness till returning morn, 
Then cursed myself till sunset; — I have pray'd 
For madness as a blessing — 'tis denied me. 
I have affronted death, but in the war 
Of elements the waters shrunk from me, 
And fatal things pass'd harmless — the cold hand 
Of an all-pitiless demon held me back. 
Back by a single hair, which would not break. 
In fantasy, imagination, all 
The affluence of my soul — which one day was 
A Croesus in creation — I plunged deep, 
But, like an ebbing wave, it dash'd me back 
Into the gulf of my unfathom'd thought. 
I plunged amidst mankind. — Forgetfulness 
I sought in all, save where 't is to be found. 
And that I have to learn — my sciences, 
My long pursued and superhuman art, 
Is mortal here; I dwell in my despair — 



MANFRED 427 

And live — and live for ever. 

Witch. It may be 

That I can aid thee. 

Man. To do this thy power 

Must wake the dead, or lay me low with them. 
Do so — in any shape — in any hour — 
With any torture — so it be the last. 

Witch. That is not in my province; but i£ thou 
Wilt swear obedience to my will, and do 
My bidding, it may help thee to thy wishes. 

Man. I will not swear — Obey! and whom? the spirits 
Whose presence I command, and be the slave 
Of those who served me — Never! 

Witch. Is this all.? 

Hast thou no gentler answer ? — Yet bethink thee. 
And pause ere thou rejectest. 

Man. I have said it. 

Witch. Enough! — I may retire then — say! 

Man. Retire! 

[The Witch disappears. 

Man. (alone). We are all the fools of time and terror: Days 
Steal on us and steal from us; yet we live, 
Loathing our life, and dreading still to die. 
In all the days of this detested yoke — 
This vital weight upon the struggling heart, 
Which sinks with sorrow, or beats quick with pain. 
Or joy that ends in agony or faintness — 
In all the days of past and future, for 
In life there is no present, we can number 
How few, how less than few, wherein the soul 
Forbears to pant for death, and yet draws back 
As from a stream in winter, though the chill 
Be but a moment's. I have one resource 
Still in my science — I can call the dead. 
And ask them what it is we dread to be: 
The sternest answer can but be the Grave, 
And that is nothing; — if they answer not — 



428 LORD BYRON 

The buried Prophet answered to the Hag 

Of Endor; and the Spartan Monarch drew 

From the Byzantine maid's unsleeping spirit 

An answer and his destiny — he slew 

That which he loved, unknowing what he slew. 

And died unpardon'd — though he call'd in aid 

The Phyxian Jove, and in Phigalia roused 

The Arcadian Evocators to compel 

The indignant shadow to depose her wrath, 

Or fix her term of vengeance — she replied 

In words of dubious import, but f ulfill'd. 

If I had never Uved, that which I love 

Had still been living; had I never loved, 

That which I love would still be beautiful — 

Happy and giving happiness. What is she ? 

What is she now? — a sufferer for my sins — 

A thing I dare not think upon — or nothing. 

Within few hours I shall not call in vain — 

Yet in this hour I dread the thing I dare: 

Until this hour I never shrunk to gaze 

On spirit, good or evil — now I tremble, 

And feel a strange cold thaw upon my heart. 

But I can act even what I most abhor, 

And champion human fears. — The night approaches. [Exit. 

Scene III. — The Summit of the Jungfrau Mountain. 
Enter First Destiny 
The moon is rising broad, and round, and bright; 
And here on snows, where never human foot 
Of common mortal trod, we nightly tread. 
And leave no traces; o'er the savage sea, 
The glassy ocean of the mountain ice. 
We skim its rugged breakers, which put on 
The aspect of a tumbling tempest's foam. 
Frozen in a moment — a dead whirlpool's image. 
And this most steep fantastic pinnacle. 
The fretwork of some earthquake — where the clouds 



MANFRED 429 

Pause to repose themselves in passing by — 

Is sacred to our revels, or our vigils. 

Here do I wait my sisters, on our way 

To the Hall of Arimanes, for to-night 

Is our great festival — 't is strange they come not. 

A Voice without, singing 

The Captive Usurper, 

Hurl'd down from the throne, 
Lay buried in torpor, 
Forgotten and lone; 
I broke through his slumbers, 

I shiver'd his chain, 
I leagued him with numbers — 
He's Tyrant again! 
With the blood of a million he'll answer my care. 
With a nation's destruction — his flight and despair. 

Second Voice, without 

The ship sail'd on, the ship sail'd fast, 

But I left not a sail, and I left not a mast; 

There is not a plank of the hull or the deck, 

And there is not a wretch to lament o'er his wreck; 

Save one, whom I held, as he swam, by the hair, 

And he was a subject well worthy my care; 

A traitor on land, and a pirate at sea — 

But I saved him to wreak further havoc for me! 

First Destiny, answering 

The city lies sleeping; 

The morn, to deplore it, 
May dawn on it weeping: 

Sullenly, slowly, 
The black plague flew o'er it, — 

Thousands lie lowly; 
Tens of thousands shall perish — 

The living shall fly from 



430 LORD BYRON 

The sick they should cherish: 

But nothing can vanquish 
The touch that they die from. 

Sorrow and anguish, 
And evil and dread, 

Envelope a nation — 
The blest are the dead. 
Who see not the sight 

Of their own desolation; 
This work of a night — 
This wreck of a realm — this deed of my doing — 
For ages I've done, and shall still be renewing! 

Enter the Second and Third Destinies 
The Three 

Our hands contain the hearts of men, 

Our footsteps are their graves; 
We only give to take again 

The spirits of our slaves! 

First Des. Welcome! Where's Nemesis? 
Second Des. At some great work; 

But what I know not, for my hands were full. 
Third Des. Behold she cometh. 

Enter Nemesis 

First Des. Say, v/here hast thou been? 

My sisters and thyself are slow to-night. 

Nem. I was detain'd repairing shatter'd thrones, 
Marrying fools, restoring dynasties, 
Avenging men upon their enemies, 
And making them repent their own revenge; 
Goading the wise to madness; from the dull 
Shaping out oracles to rule the world 
Afresh, for they were waxing out of date. 
And mortals dared to ponder for themselves. 



MANFRED 43 1 

To weigh kings in the balance, and to speak 

Of freedom, the forbidden fruit. — Away! 

We have outstay'd the hour — mount we our clouds! [Exeunt. 

Scene IV. — The Hall of Arimanes. — Arimanes on his Throne, a Globe 
of Fire, surrounded by the Spirits. 

Hymn of the Spirits 

Hail to our Master! — Prince of Earth and Air! 

Who walks the clouds and waters — in his hand 
The sceptre of the elements which tear 

Themselves to chaos at his high command! 
He breatheth — and a tempest shakes the sea; 

He speaketh — and the clouds reply in thunder; 
He gazeth — rrom his glance the sunbeams flee; 

He moveth — earthquakes rend the world asunder. 
Beneath his footsteps the volcanoes rise; 

His shadow is the Pestilence; his path 
The comets herald through the crackling skies; 

And planets turn to ashes at his wrath. 
To him War offers daily sacrifice; 

To him Death pays his tribute; Life is his, 
With all its infinite of agonies — 

And his the spirit of whatever is! 

Enter the Destinies and Nemesis 

First Des. Glory to Arimanes! on the earth 
His power increaseth — both my sisters did 
His bidding, nor did I neglect my duty! 

Second Des. Glory to Arimanes! we who bow 
The necks of men, bow down before his throne! 

Third Des. Glory to Arimanes! we await 
His nod! 

Nem. Sovereign of Sovereigns! we are thine, 
And all that liveth, more or less, is ours, 
And most things wholly so; still to increase 
Our power, increasing thine, demands our care. 



432 LORD BYRON 

And we are vigilant. — Thy late commands 
Have been fulfilled to the utmost. 

Enter Manfred 

A Spirit. What is here? 

A mortal! — Thou most rash and fatal wretch, 
Bow down and worship! 

Second Spirit. I do know the man — 

A Magian of great power and fearful skill! 

Third Spirit. Bow down and worship, slave! What, know'st 
thou not 
Thine and our Sovereign? — Tremble, and obey! 

All the Spirits. Prostrate thyself, and thy condemned clay. 
Child of the Earth! or dread the worst. 

Man. I know it; 

And yet ye see I kneel not. 

Fourth Spirit. 'Twill be taught thee. 

Man. 'Tis taught already; — many a night on the earth. 
On the bare ground, have I bow'd down my face. 
And strew'd my head with ashes; I have known 
The fulness of humiliation, for 
I sunk before my vain despair, and knelt 
To my own desolation. 

Fijth Spirit. Dost thou dare 

Refuse to Arimanes on his throne 
What the whole earth accords, beholding not 
The terror of his Glory? — Crouch! I say. 

Man. Bid him bow down to that which is above him. 
The overruling Infinite, the Maker 
Who made him not for worship — let him kneel. 
And we will kneel together. 

The Spirits. Crush the worm! 

Tear him in pieces! — 

First Des. Hence! Avaunt! — he's mine. 

Prince of the Powers invisible! This man 
Is of no common order, as his port 



MANFRED 433 

And presence here denote. His sufferings 

Have been of an immortal nature, like 

Our own; his knowledge and his powers and will, 

As far as is compatible with clay. 

Which clogs the ethereal essence, have been such 

As clay hath seldom borne; his aspirations 

Have been beyond the dwellers of the earth, 

And they have only taught hijii what we know — 

That knowledge is not happiness, and science 

But an exchange of ignorance for that 

Which is another kind of ignorance. 

This is not all; the passions, attributes 

Of earth and heaven, from which no power, nor being. 

Nor breath from the worm upwards is exempt, 

Have pierced his heart; and in their consequence 

Made him a thing, which I, who pity not, 

Yet pardon those who pity. He is mine. 

And thine, it may be; — be it so, or not. 

No other Spirit in this region hath 

A soul like his — or power upon his soul. 

Nem. What doth he here then? 

First Des. Let him answer that. 

Man. Ye know what I have known; and without power 
I could not be amongst ye: but there are 
Powers deeper still beyond — I come in quest 
Of such, to answer unto what I seek. 

Nem. What wouldst thou ? 

Man. Thou canst not reply to me. 

Call up the dead — my question is for them. 

Nem. Great Arimanes, doth thy will avouch 
The wishes of this mortal ? 

Ari. Yea. 

Nem. Whom wouldst thou 

Uncharnel ? 

Man. One without a tomb — call up Astarte. 



434 LORD BYRON 

Nemesis 

Shadow! or Spirit! 

Whatever thou art 
Which still doth inherit 

The whole or a part 
Of the form of thy birth, 
Of the mould of thy clay 
Which return'd to the earth, 

Re-appear to the day! 
Bear what thou borest, 

The heart and the form, 
And the aspect thou worest 

Redeem from the worm. 
Appear ! — Appear 1 — Appear ! 
Who sent thee there requires thee here! 

[The phantom of Astarte rises and stands in the midst. 

Man. Can this be death? there's bloom upon her cheek: 
But now I see it is no Uving hue, 
But a strange hectic — Hke the unnatural red 
Which Autumn plants upon the perish'd leaf. 
It is the samel Oh, God! that I should dread 
To look upon the same — Astarte! — No, 
I cannot speak to her — but bid her speak — 
Forgive me or condemn me. 

Nemesis 

By the power which hath broken 

The grave which enthrall'd thee, 
Speak to him who hath spoken. 
Or those who have call'd thee! 

Man. She is silent. 

And in that silence I am more than answer 'd. 

Nem. My power extends no further. Prince of Air! 
It rests with thee alone — command her voice. 



MANFRED 435 

Art. Spirit — obey this sceptre! 

Nem. Silent still! 

She is not of our order, but belongs 
To the other powers. Mortal! thy quest is vain, 
And we are baffled also. 

Man. Hear me, hear me — 

Astarte! my beloved! speak to me: 
I have so much endured, so much endure — 
Look on me! the grave hath not changed thee more 
Than I am changed for thee. Thou lovedst me 
Too much, as I loved thee: we were not made 
To torture thus each other, though it were 
The deadliest sin to love as we have loved. 
Say that thou loath'st me not, that I do bear 
This punishment for both, that thou wilt be 
One of the blessed, and that I shall die; 
For hitherto all hateful things conspire 
To bind me in existence — in a life 
Which makes me shrink from immortality — 
A future like the past. I cannot rest. 
I know not what I ask, nor what I seek; 
I feel but what thou art — and what I am; 
And I would hear yet once before I perish 
The voice which was my music — Speak to me! 
For I have call'd on thee in the still night, 
Startled the slumbering birds from the hush'd boughs, 
And woke the mountain wolves, and made the caves 
Acquainted with thy vainly echo'd name, 
Which answer'd me — many things answer'd me — 
Spirits and men — but thou wert silent all. 
Yet speak to me! I have outwatch'd the stars. 
And gazed o'er heaven in vain in search of thee. 
Speak to me! I have wander'd o'er the earth. 
And never found thy likeness — Speak to me! 
Look on the fiends around — they feel for me: 
I fear them not, and feel for thee alone. 
Speak to me! though it be in wrath; — but say — 



436 LORD BYRON 

I reck not what — but let me hear thee once — 
This once — once more! 

Phantom of Astarte. Manfred! 

Man. Say on, say on — 

I hve but in the sound — it is thy voice! 

Phan. Manfred! To-morrow ends thine earthly ills. 
Farewell! 

Man. Yet one word more — am I forgiven ? 

Phan. Farewell! 

Man. Say, shall we meet again ? 

Phan. Farewell! 

Man. One word for mercy! Say, thou lovest me. 

Phan. Manfred! [ The Spirit of Astarte disappears. 

Nem. She's gone, and will not be recall'd; 

Her words will be fulfiU'd. Return to the earth. 

A Spirit. He is convulsed — This is to be a mortal 
And seek the things beyond mortality. 

Another Spirit. Yet, see, he mastereih himself, and makes 
His torture tributary to his will. 
Had he been one of us, he would have made 
An awful spirit. 

Nem. Hast thou further question 

Of our great sovereign, or his worshippers? 

Man. None. 

Nem. Then for a time farewell. 

Man. We meet then! Where? On the earth ?- 

Even as thou wilt : and for the grace accorded 

I now depart a debtor. Fare ye well! 

.„ , . [Exit Manfred. 

{Scene closes.) 

ACT III 

Scene I. — A Hall in the Castle of Manfred. 

Manfred and Herman. 
Man. What is the hour ? 

Her. It wants but one till sunset, 

And promises a lovely twilight. 



MANFRED 437 

Man. Say, 

Are all things so disposed of in the tower 
As I directed? 

Her. All, my lord, are ready: 

Here is the key and casket. 

Man. It is well: 

Thou may'st retire. [Exit Herman. 

Man. (alone). There is a calm upon me — 
Inexplicable stillness! which till now 
Did not belong to what I knew of life. 
If that I did not know philosophy 
To be of all our vanities the motliest, 
The merest word that ever fool'd the ear 
From out the schoolman's jargon, I should deem 
The golden secret, the sought "Kalon," found, 
And seated in my soul. It will not last. 
But it is well to have known it, though but once: 
It hath enlarged my thoughts with a new sense, 
And I within my tablets would note down 
That there is such a feeling. Who is there? 

Re-enter Herman 

Her. My lord, the abbot of St. Maurice craves 
To greet your presence. 

Eater the Abbot of St. Maurice 

Abbot. ' Peace be with Ck)unt Manfred! 

Man. Thanks, holy father! welcome to these walls; 
Thy presence honours them, and blesseth those 
Who dwell within them. 

Abbot. Would it were so. Count! — 

But I would fain confer with thee alone. 

Man. Herman, retire. — What would my reverend guest? 

Abbot. Thus, without prelude: — Age and zeal, my office, 
And good intent, must plead my privilege; 
Our near, though not acquainted neighbourhood, 



438 LORD BYRON 

May also be my herald. Rumours strange, 
And of unholy nature, are abroad, 
And busy with thy name; a noble name 
For centuries: may he who bears it now 
Transmit it unimpair'd! 

Man. Proceed, I listen. 

Abbot. 'Tis said thou boldest converse with the things 
Which are forbidden to the search of man; 
That with the dwellers of the dark abodes, 
The many evil and unheavenly spirits 
Which walk the valley of the shade of death, 
Thou communest. I know that with mankind, 
Thy fellows in creation, thou dost rarely 
Exchange thy thoughts, and that thy solitude 
Is as an anchorite's, were it but holy. 

Man. And what are they who do avouch these things.^ 

Abbot. My pious brethren, the scared peasantry. 
Even thy own vassals, who do look on thee 
With most unquiet eyes. Thy life's in peril. 

Man. Take it. 

Abbot. 1 come to save, and not destroy. 

I would not pry into thy secret soul; 
But if these things be sooth, there still is time 
For penitence and pity: reconcile thee 
With the true church, and through the church to heaven. 

Man. I hear thee. This is my reply : whate'er 
I may have been, or am, doth rest between 
Heaven and myself; I shall not choose a mortal 
To be my mediator. Have I sinn'd 
Against your ordinances? prove and punish! 

Abbot. My son! I did not speak of punishment, 
But penitence and pardon; with thyself 
The choice of such remains — and for the last, 
Our institutions and our strong belief 
Have given me power to smooth the path from sin 
To higher hope and better thoughts; the first 
I leave to heaven, — "Vengeance is mine alone!" 



MANFRED 439 

So saith the Lord, and with all humbleness 
His servant echoes back the awful word. 

Man. Old man! there is no power in holy men, 
Nor charm in prayer, nor purifying form 
Of penitence, nor outward look, nor fast, 
Nor agony, nor, greater than all these. 
The innate tortures of that deep despair. 
Which is remorse without the fear of hell 
But all in all sufficient to itself 
Would make a hell of heaven, — can exorcise 
From out the unbounded spirit the quick sense 
Of its own sins, wrongs, sufferance, and revenge 
Upon itself; there is no future pang 
Can deal that justice on the self-condemn'd 
He deals on his own soul. 

Abbot. All this is well; 

For this will pass away, and be succeeded 
By an auspicious hope, which shall look up 
With calm assurance to that blessed place 
Which all who seek may win, whatever be 
Their earthly errors, so they be atoned: 
And the commencement of atonement is 
The sense of its necessity. — Say on — 
And all our church can teach thee shall be taught; 
And all we can absolve thee shall be pardon'd. 

Man. When Rome's sixth emperor was near his last 
The victim of a self-inflicted wound, 
To shun the torments of a public death 
From senates once his slaves, a certain soldier, 
With show of loyal pity, would have stanch'd 
The gushing throat with his officious robe; 
The dying Roman thrust him back, and said — 
Some empire still in his expiring glance — 
"It is too late — is this fidelity?" 

Abbot. And what of this? 

Man. I answer with the Roman, 

"It is too late!" 



440 LORD BYRON 

Abbot. It never can be so, 

To reconcile thyself with thy own soul, 
And thy own soul with heaven. Hast thou no hope? 
'Tis strange — even those who do despair above, 
Yet shape themselves some fantasy on earth, 
To which frail twig they cling like drowning men. 

Man. Ay — father! I have had those earthly visions 
And noble aspirations in my youth, 
To make my own the mind of other men, 
The enlightener of nations; and to rise 
I knew not whither — it might be to fall; 
But fall, even as the mountain-cataract. 
Which, having leapt from its more dazzling height. 
Even in the foaming strength of its abyss 
(Which casts up misty columns that become 
Clouds raining from the reascended skies) 
Lies low but mighty still. — But this is past. 
My thoughts mistook themselves. 

Abbot. And wherefore so? 

Man. I could not tame my nature down; for he 
Must serve who fain would sway — and soothe, and sue. 
And watch all time, and pry into all place. 
And be a living lie, who would become 
A mighty thing amongst the mean, and such 
The mass are; I disdain'd to mingle with 
A herd, though to be leader — and of wolves. 
The lion is alone, and so am I. 

Abbot. And why not live and act with other men? 

Man. Because my nature was averse from Ufe; 
And yet not cruel; for I would not make. 
But find a desolation. Like the wind. 
The red-hot breath of the most lone Simoom, 
Which dwells but in the desert and sweeps o'er 
The barren sands which bear no shrubs to blast. 
And revels o'er their wild and arid waves, 
And seeketh not, so that it is not sought, 
But being met is deadly, — such hath been 



MANFRED 44 1 

The course of my existence; but there came 
Things in my path which are no more. 

Abbot. AlasI 

I 'gin to fear that thou art past all aid 
From me and from my calling; yet so young, 
I still would — 

Man. Look on me! there is an order 

Of mortals on the earth, who do become 
Old in their youth, and die ere middle age, 
Without the violence of warlike death; 
Some perishing of pleasure, some of study. 
Some worn with toil, some of mere weariness. 
Some of disease, and some insanity, 
And some of wither'd or of broken hearts; 
For this last is a malady which slays 
More than are number'd in the lists of Fate, 
Taking all shapes and bearing many names. 
Look upon me! for even of all these things 
Have I partaken; and of all these things. 
One were enough; then wonder not that I 
Am what I am, but that I ever was, 
Or having been, that I am still on earth. 

Abbot. Yet, hear me still — 

Man. Old man! I do respect 

Thine order, and revere thine years; I deem 
Thy purpose pious, but it is in vain. 
Think me not churlish; I would spare thyself, 
Far more than me, in shunning at this time 
All further colloquy; and so — farewell. 

[Exit Manfred. 

Abbot, This should have been a noble creature: he 
Hath all the energy which would have made 
A goodly frame of glorious elements, 
Had they been wisely mingled; as it is. 
It is an awful chaos — light and darkness. 
And mind and dust, and passions and pure thoughts, 
Mix'd, and contending without end or order, 



442 LORD BYRON 

All dormant or destructive. He will perish, 
And yet he must not; I will try once more, 
For such are worth redemption; and my duty 
Is to dare all things for a righteous end. 
I'll follow him — but cautiously, though surely. 



[Exit Abbot. 



Scene II. — Another Chamber. 
Manfred arid Herman. 

Her. My lord, you bade me wait on you at sunset: 
He sinks beyond the mountain. 

Man. Doth he so? 

I will look on him. 

[Manfred advances to the Window of the Hall. 
Glorious Orb! the idol 
Of early nature, and the vigorous race 
Of undiseased mankind, the giant sons 
Of the embrace of angels with a sex 
More beautiful than they, which did draw down 
The erring spirits who can ne'er return; — 
Most glorious orb! that wert a worship, ere 
The mystery of thy making was reveal'd! 
Thou earliest minister of the Almighty, 
Which gladden'd, on their mountain tops, the hearts 
Of the Chaldean shepherds, till they pour'd 
Themselves in orisons! Thou material God! 
And representative of the Unknown, 
Who chose thee for his shadow! Thou chief star! 
Centre of many stars! which mak'st our earth 
Endurable, and temperest the hues 
And hearts of all who walk within thy rays! 
Sire of the seasons! Monarch of the climes. 
And those who dwell in them! for near or far, 
Our inborn spirits have a tint of thee. 
Even as our outward aspects; — thou dost rise 
And shine, and set in glory. Fare thee well! 



MANFRED 443 

I ne'er shall see thee more. As my first glance 

Of love and wonder was for thee, then take 

My latest look: thou wilt not beam on one 

To whom the gifts of life and warmth have been 

Of a more fatal nature. He is gone; 

I follow. [Exit Manfred. 

Scene III. — The Mountains — The Castle of Manfred at some distance 
— A Terrace before a Tower — Time, Twilight. 

Herman, Manuel, and other Dependants of Manfred, 

Her. 'Tis strange enough; night after night, for years. 
He hath pursued long vigils in this tower. 
Without a witness. I have been within it, — 
So have we all been oft-times; but from it. 
Or its contents, it were impossible 
To draw conclusions absolute of aught 
His studies tend to. To be sure, there is 
One chamber where none enter : I would give 
The fee of what I have to come these three years, 
To }X)re upon its mysteries. 

Manuel. 'Twere dangerous; 

Content thyself with what thou knovvest already. 

Her. Ah, Manuel! thou art elderly and wise, 
And couldst say much; thou hast dwelt within the casde — 
How many years is 't ? 

Manuel. Ere Count Manfred's birth, 

I served his father, whom he nought resembles. 

Her. There be more sons in like predicament. 
But wherein do they differ ? 

Manuel. I speak not 

Of features or of form, but mind and habits; 
Count Sigismund was proud, but gay and free — 
A warrior and a reveller; he dwelt not 
With books and solitude, nor made the night 
A gloomy vigil, but a festal time. 
Merrier than day; he did not walk the rocks 



444 LORD BYRON 

And forests like a wolf, nor turn aside 
From men and their delights. 

Her. Beshrew the hour, 

But those were jocund times I I would that such 
Would visit the old walls again; they look 
As if they had forgotten them. 

Manuel. These walls 

Must change their chieftain first. Oh! I have seen 
Some strange things in them, Herman. 

Her. Come, be friendly; 

Relate me some to while away our watch: 
I've heard thee darkly speak of an event 
Which happen'd hereabouts, by this same tower. 

Manuel. That was a night indeed! I do remember 
'T was twilight, as it may be now, and such 
Another evening; yon red cloud, which rests 
On Eigher's pinnacle, so rested then, — 
So like that it might be the same; the wind 
Was faint and gusty, and the mountain snows 
Began to glitter with the climbing moon. 
Count Manfred was, as now, within his tower, — 
How occupied, we knew not, but with him 
The sole companion of his wanderings 
And watchings — her, whom of all earthly things 
That lived, the only thing he seem'd to love, — 
As he indeed, by blood was bound to do, 
The Lady Astarte, his — 

Hush! who comes here? 

Enter the Abbot 

Abbot. Where is your master? 

Her. Yonder in the tower. 

Abbot. I must speak with him. 

Manuel. 'Tis impossible; 

He is most private, and must not be thus 
Intruded on. 

Abbot. Upon myself I take 



MANFRED 445 

The forfeit of my fault, if fault there be — 
But I must see him. 

Her. Thou hast seen him once 

This eve already. 

Abbot. Herman! I command thee, 

Knock, and apprize the Count of my approach. 

Her. We dare not. 

Abbot. Then it seems I must be herald 

Of my own purpose. 

Manuel. Reverend father, stop^ 

I pray you pause. 

Abbot. Why so? 

Manuel. But step this way. 

And I will tell you further. [Exeunt 

Scene IV. — Interior of the Tower. 

Manfred, alone. 

Man. The stars are forth, the moon above the tops 
Of the snow-shining mountains. — Beautifull 
I linger yet with Nature, for the night 
Hath been to me a more familiar face 
Than that of man; and in her starry shade 
Of dim and solitary loveliness, 
I learn'd the language of another world. 
I do remember me, that in my youth. 
When I was wandering, — upon such a night 
I stood within the Coliseum's wall 
Midst the chief relics of almighty Rome. 
The trees which grew along the broken arches 
Waved dark in the blue midnight, and the stars 
Shone through the rents of ruin; from afar 
The watch-dog bay'd beyond the Tiber; and 
More near from out the Cxsars' palace came 
The owl's long cry, and, interruptedly. 
Of distant sentinels the fitful song 
Begun and died upon the gentle wind. 



446 LORD BYRON 

Some cypresses beyond the time-worn breach 

Appear'd to skirt the horizon, yet they stood 

Within a bowshot. Where the Carsars dwelt, 

And dwell the tuneless birds of night, amidst 

A grove which springs through levell'd battlements 

And twines its roots with the imperial hearths, 

Ivy usurps the laurel's place of growth; — 

But the gladiators' bloody Circus stands, 

A noble wreck in ruinous perfection! 

While Caesar's chambers and the Augustan halls 

Grovel on earth in indistinct decay. 

And thou didst shine, thou rolling moon, upon 

All this, and cast a wide and tender light. 

Which soften'd down the hoar austerity 

Of rugged desolation, and fill'd up, 

As 'twere anew, the gaps of centuries; 

Leaving that beautiful which still was so, 

And making that which was not, till the place 

Became religion, and the heart ran o'er 

With silent worship of the great of old, — 

The dead, but sceptred sovereigns, who still rule 

Our spirits from their urns. — 

'Twas such a night! 
'Tis strange that I recall it at this time; 
But I have found our thoughts take wildest flight 
Even at the moment when they should array 
Themselves in pensive order. 

Enter the Abbot 

Abbot, My good lord! 

1 crave a second grace for this approach; 
But yet let not my humble zeal offend 
By its abruptness — all it hath of ill 
Recoils on me; its good in the effect 
May light upon your head — could I say heart — 
Could I touch that, with words or prayers, I should 
Recall a noble spirit which hath wander 'd 
But is not yet all lost. 



MANFRED 447 

Man. Thou know'st me not; 

My days are number'd, and my deeds recorded: 
Retire, or 'twill be dangerous — Away! 

Abbot. Thou dost not mean to menace me? 

Man. Not I; 

I simply tell thee peril is at hand, 
And would preserve thee. 

Abbot. What dost thou mean ? 

Man. Look there! 

What dost thou see ? 

Abbot. Nothing. 

Man. Look there, I say. 

And steadfastly; — now tell me what thou seest. 

Abbot. That which should shake me — but I fear it not : 
I see a dusk and awful figure rise, 
Like an infernal god, from out the earth; 
His face wrapt in a mantle, and his form 
Robed as with angry clouds: he stands between 
Thyself and me — but I do fear him not. 

Man. Thou hast no cause; he shall not harm thee, but 
His sight may shock thine old limbs into palsy. 
I say to thee — Retire! 

Abbot. And I reply. 

Never — till I have battled with this fiend : — 
What doth he here? 

Man. Why — ay — what doth he here? 
I did not send for him, — he is unbidden. 

Abbot. Alas! lost mortal! what with guests like these 
Hast thou to do? I tremble for thy sake: 
Why doth he gaze on thee, and thou on him? 
Ah! he unveils his aspect: on his brow 
The thunder-scars are graven; from his eye 
Glares forth the immortality of hell — 
Avaunt! — 

Man. Pronounce — what is thy mission? 

Spirit. Come! 

Abbot. What art thou, unknown being? answer! — 
speak! 



448 LORD BYRON 

Spirit. The genius of this mortal. — Come! 'tis time. 

Man. I am prepared for all things, but deny 
The power which summons me. Who sent thee here.' 

Spirit. Thou'lt know anon — Come! Come! 

Man. I have commanded 

Things of an essence greater far than thine. 
And striven with thy masters. Get thee hence! 

Spirit. Mortal! thine hour is come — Away! I say. 

Man. I knew, and know my hour is come, but not 
To render up my soul to such as thee: 
Away! I'll die as I have Hved — alone. 

Spirit. Then I must summon up my brethren. — Rise! 

[ Other Spirits rise up. 

Abbot. Avaunt! ye evil ones! — Avaunt! I say, — 
Ye have no power where piety hath power. 
And I do charge ye in the name — 

Spirit. Old man! 

We know ourselves, our mission, and thine order; 
Waste not thy holy words on idle uses, 
It were in vain: this man is forfeited. 
Once more I summon him — Away! away! 

Man. I do defy ye, — though I feel my soul 
Is ebbing from me, yet I do defy ye; 
Nor will I hence, while I have earthly breath 
To breathe my scorn upon ye — earthly strength 
To wrestle, though with spirits; what ye take 
Shall be ta'en limb by limb. 

Spirit. Reluctant morul! 

Is this the Magian who would so pervade 
The world invisible, and make himself 
Almost our equal? — Can it be that thou 
Art thus in love with life.' the very life 
Which made thee wretched! 

Man. Thou false fiend, thou liest! 

My life is in its last hour, — that I know. 
Nor would redeem a moment of that hour. 
I do not combat against death, but thee 



MANFRED 449 

And thy surrounding angels; my past power 

Was purchased by no compact with thy crew, 

But by superior science, penance, daring, 

And length of watching, strength of mind, and skill 

In knowledge of our fathers when the earth 

Saw men and spirits walking side by side 

And gave ye no supremacy : I stand 

Upon my strength — I do defy — deny — 

Spurn back, and scorn ye! — 

Spirit. But thy many crimes 

Have made thee — 

Man. What are they to such as thee? 
Must crimes be punish'd but by other crimes, 
And greater criminals? — Back to thy hell! 
Thou hast no power upon me, that I feel; 
Thou never shalt possess me, that I know: 
What I have done is done; I bear within 
A torture which could nothing gain from thine. 
The mind which is immortal makes itself 
Requital for its good or evil thoughts, 
Is its own origin of ill and end, 
And its own place and time; its innate sense. 
When stripp'd of this mortality, derives 
No colour from the fleeting things without, 
But is absorb'd in sufferance or in joy, 
Born from the knowledge of its own desert. 
Thou didst not tempt me, and thou couldst not tempt me; 
I have not been thy dupe nor am thy prey. 
But was my own destroyer, and will be 
My own hereafter. — Back, ye baffled fiends! 
The hand of death is on me — but not yours! 

[ The Demons disappear. 

Abbot. Alas! how pale thou art — thy lips are white — 
And thy breast heaves — and in thy gasping throat 
The accents rattle. Give thy prayers to Heaven — 
Pray — albeit but in thought, — but die not thus. 

Man. 'Tis over — my dull eyes can fix thee not; 



450 LORD BYRON 

But all things swim around me, and the earth 
Heaves as it were beneath me. Fare thee well — 
Give me thy hand. 

Abbot. Cold — cold — even to the heart — 

But yet one prayer — Alas! how fares it with thee? 

Man. Old man! 'tis not so difficult to die. 

[Manfred expires. 

Abbot. He's gone, his soul hath ta'en its earthless flight; 
Whither? I dread to think; but he is gone.