1. ACT I.
MERCOUR croſſes the Stage; ſees AEMILIA; endeavours to avoid her. She looks at Him ſome Time; then ſpeaks.
AH! what a Look was there! How his Eye ſtarted
As from a Thing of Horrour! I am loſt;
Abandon'd to an unavailing Penitence,
To the Upbraidings of my own weak Heart,
[Looking after him.
To Virtue's keen Reproaches. MERCOUR, MERCOUR—
For all the promis'd Joys of Love and Conſtancy,
Oh! teach me not to feel what now I am,
Or to forget what late I was, how bleſs'd
With Innocence—Alas! now loſt for ever.
MERCOUR ſpeaking as he exters.
It was the Muſick of AEMILIA's Voice,
Tho' much untun'd from its delightful Sounds
When harmonis'd by Love. Tell me, my Heart,
Why did AEMILIA call me?
Repeatedly; with Accent moſt alarming.
It was the Voice of Sorrow and Deſpair,
Deſpair! But how can it approach you,
By Friendſhip guarded in the Arms of Love?
Yet whence thoſe Startings of the Soul, that rend
The labouring Breaſt? Why melts your Eye upon me?
Whence is that Paleneſs on my Fair-one's Cheek,
Where roſy Love, with Pleaſure's Bluſhes glowing,
Was wont to dwell, amidſt the Smiles of Beauty?
And ſure—forbid it Love—you're alter'd too.
Are you the ſame? as conſtant to our Friendſhip—
As you are beautiful. Why doubts AEMILIA
Her wondr'ous Power of charming?
Yet even now
Your Eye meets mine with Pain. Some ſecret Purpoſe
Turns it aſide, and that once dear Proteſting,
(Which Love was wont to warm with his own Language,)
Falls feebly from your Tongue. Yet treat me nobly.
For ſuch a Waſte of Tenderneſs and Truth,
Is it too much—for all that I have ſuffer'd,
For all I'm ſtill to ſuffer—to expect
A little kind Sincerity?
Can ſhe ſuſpect the Heart, that ſhe has form'd;
Where fits her Image, in the Power of Beauty,
To rule its Paſſions, and inſpire its Wiſhes?
Tell me my Fate; nor fear, that I'll upbraid you.
Nor ſhall my Rage, nor ſhall my Tears upbraid you,
Nor even my Love. I'll find a thouſand Reaſons
To juſtify your Change. I'll tell my Heart,
'Midſt its reſenting Beatings, that your Paſſions
Are not your own; that Love's inconſtant Pleaſures
Are ſacred to your lordly Sex; that Men,
However juſt to Honour with each other,
Should ſcorn their fond Engagements with a Woman.
I would be juſt to both. For ſome Days paſt,
I own my Thoughts have been perplex'd, confus'd;
A thouſand varying Projects for your Happineſs—
Oh! my Soul's higheſt Pride,
Does it become the Dignity of Love,
To ſteal into your Arms; to hide our Joys
In Darkneſs and Concealment? I'll no longer
Bear theſe uncertain, caſual Hours of Bliſs,
But let the World behold and envy me
The rich Poſſeſſion of AEMILIA's Beauties—
I'll make you mine for ever.
Your's for ever!
Oh! let my Heart pour forth its Joy in Thanks.
Forgive th' unkind Suſpicions; the Reproaches—
They were Suſpicions, that aroſe from Love.
But will you hear?
My Soul is liſtening to you.
My Father, to ſupport his Country's Honour,
And his own noble Birth, in foreign Embaſſies
Conſum'd a fair Eſtate, and left his Sons,
(My Brother and myſelf) dependant vilely
Upon my Uncle's Bounty.
Oh! how nobly
Has he diſcharg'd the ſacred Truſt of Friendſhip,
And Duty of a Parent!
True; his Duty;
Then how are we oblig'd? Curſe on the Name
Of Obligation. How my Soul diſdains
This Inſolence of Goodneſs, that enſlaves
The free-born Mind! Is not his every Act,
An Inſult on our Wants? Has he not gain'd,
From our Diſtreſs, the Name he moſt delights in,
The Name of Good? Methinks a rich Return
For trivial Benefits, without the Slavery
Of endleſs Gratitude.
Surely you mean
T'inſult my Underſtanding. As for me,
He took me in Diſtreſs of Infancy,
The Orphan of his Friend. With every Tenderneſs,
Even of a Parent's Care, he form'd my Youth,
Alas! in vain, to Sentiments of Virtue.
Here were no Ties of Blood, no Senſe of Duty;
'Twas innate Goodneſs, and my grateful Soul
Through all its Feelings thanks him. But forgive me;
I interrupted you.
The fair EUGENIA,
His much lov'd Daughter—
Ah! what means my Heart
By its tumultuous Beating!
Vain and haughty,
Bred in the virtuous Principles of Pride
By her affected Governeſs—
Ay, ſhe, who even in Poverty aſſumes
An Inſolence, that treats me with Diſdain,
And has refus'd a Bribe, which might have purchas'd
A wealthier Honeſty.
A Bribe! For what?
I would have gain'd her to befriend my Purpoſe
On her fair Pupil; 'midſt the ſolemn Leſſons,
(With which, forſooth, ſhe forms her Heart to Wiſdom)
To ſteal a kindly Mention of my Love
Into her Breaſt, and mix me with its Paſſions.
Wildneſs and Horrour! Paſſions! Love! EUGENIA!
Yet, yet, be kind, and eaſe my tortur'd Heart.
This Morn, I mean to aſk her of her Father,
And if he, eaſy Man, ſhould grant her to me,
With that unmeaſurable Wealth, his Age
Hath long amaſs'd, when a few Days are ſpent
In the cold Duties of the nuptial Bed,
We'll fly, AEMILIA, to ſome diſtant Realm;
Enjoy each other; be a preſent Wonder,
And leave to future Times a bright Example
Of Conſtancy in Love.
A breathleſs Horrour
Heaves, panting, at my Heart. Outcaſts of Virtue,
What Nation will receive us? Whither fly?
Where-e'er the Sun drives round the various Day,
'Tis the ſame Sun, that here beheld our Guilt.
In vain, the Midnight Cloud ſhall fall upon us,
Nor ſhall the Grave's eternal Darkneſs hide it;
'Twill riſe to future Worlds. Oh! could we fly
Far from all human Converſe; from ourſelves,
From Conſcience and from Memory—
I have no Time to waſte in idle Arguments
On viſionary Subjects. Let me rather,
Demand your Aid; th' Aſſiſtance of your Friendſhip
With this fond Girl. It is your Intereſt, Fair-one;
And Intereſt, our beſt Wiſdom, ſhould inſtruct you
To try your Sex's Arts to win her for me.
You know their ſofteſt Moments.
Yes; 'tis juſt.
Moſt exquiſitely juſt, this purpos'd Inſult.
And mark it, ye unhappy Ones, like me,
Thus ſhall it ever prove, who firſt betrays,
Will firſt inſult our Weakneſs. Hear me, Sir,
Fall'n as I am from Honour, loſt to Fame,
And hateful to myſelf, yet dare not think,
I baſely can betray another's Innocence.
Be wiſe, and dread the Wildneſs of my Temper,
Leſt it ſtart out in Madneſs to deſtroy
Myſelf and Thee, with Horrours worthy both.
There goes the Sex's Virtue, and their Spirit.
But that I know her Pride, her Senſe of Shame
(Theſe too are female Virtues) I might fear
The Wildneſs of her Threats. But ſoft, my Uncle!
Now for a ſoothing Tale of Love and Rapture
For my fair Couſin. Yet—I think—I love her;
Not like my Brother, for (I know not what)
Some ſentimental Merit. Mine are Ardours,
Kindling by Nature at the Sight of Beauty.
But now my other Face; dear, dear Diſſembling.
Joy to the Morning, Sir, whoſe Light reſtores
Your Power of doing Good, your ſole Delight.
Thanks, gentle Nephew; for methinks I feel
Your pious Wiſh. My Soul ſits light within me,
As conſcious of ſome happier Hours approaching.
'Tis Heaven, in Bounty to the Good and Virtuous,
That gives this Fore-taſte of approaching Happineſs,
And daſhes the preſumptuous Villain's Hopes
With viſionary Boadings.
DORIMOND, turning a little from MERCOUR.
How nobly juſt are all his Sentiments!
No wonder, Sir; I learn'd them all from you.
Your Converſe, and Example—
Stop we here;
The reſt were Flatt'ry. Let us change the Subject.
When you and my fair Ward, AEMILIA, meet,
I have obſerv'd (nor think me grown too curious)
Your Eyes maintain a gentle Correſpondence
Of many a tender Meaning.
Then I'm ruin'd.
Her Father was my Friend, brave, wiſe, and honeſt;
You were his Favourite; he much eſteem'd you,
And made me firſt obſerve that open Nature,
For which I ſince have lov'd you.
I know he gladly would have ſeen his Daughter
The happy, wedded Partner of your Merit.
This Stroke has Thunder in it.
If a full Third of all that I poſſeſs
Can make you happy—
Sir, enjoy it long—
I ſhall enjoy it; if I make you happy.
Nor me alone. I long have known your Bounty,
(My very Being your's) let it extend
In doing Acts of Charity, Compaſſion,
And univerſal Love. Open the Gates
Of Liberty to Wretches, loſt in Dungeons;
Relieve th' Oppreſt, aſſert the Orphan's Rights,
And teach the Widow's Heart to ſing for Joy.
With Bounty guide the partial Hand of Fortune,
And make the Virtuous happy.
Nor ſhall theſe,
(The Duties of our Being) be neglected.
But let me aſk your Heart, how it approves
Of my Propoſal.
Sir, my Will is yours;
And my Obedience—
No; ſpeak freely to me.
Sir, if I muſt obey you—Let me own
AEMILIA has her Charms; my Eye confeſſes them;
But not the Charm of Looks, the frail Delight
Of Beauty can ſubdue a Heart like mine.
Superior Senſe, the Beauties of the Soul,
That Dignity of Sex, which can chaſtiſe
The Wiſhes it inſpires, tho' pure as Innocence;
—Such are EUGENIA's Charms.
You ſtand amaz'd. What can this Tranſport mean?
Oh! give me back the dear, the fatal Name,
That my Diſtraction utter'd. Wild it ſtarted
From the quick Pantings of my Heart.
In one of your cool Temper! Knows EUGENIA
Your Paſſion for her?
Sir, you hold me honeſt,
Nor would I loſe my own, my Self-Eſteem,
Or bear the Woundings of a ſecret Baſeneſs,
Even for EUGENIA's Beauties. Then imagine,
Whether I could preſume, without your Leave,
To talk to her of Love.
Still truly juſt.
I own, I meant to give her to your Brother.
His Gayety of Youth, I thought, might charm
The fancy of a Girl; but as ye both
Divide my Heart, and ſhare my beſt Eſteem,
It is to me indifferent, who gains her.
I will propoſe you to her, and ſhall plead
Your elder Claim of Birth-right, as of Love.
May Love's own Eloquence inſpire your Tongue.
Paint the pure Paſſion of my Love, refin'd
From ſordid Intereſts, as from ſenſual Meanings,
And with a Parent's ſoft Authority,
Oh! win her to Obedience.
No; I dare not.
I muſt diſclaim all other Influence,
Than that of tender and perſuaſive Reaſon.
Let me diſclaim it too. Ungenerous thought!
In which my honeſt Heart had no Concernment.
I do believe it.
Yes, in Truth, you may.
Th' unlucky Thought eſcap'd me.
My ſecond Care—I think, your Brother's Heart
Is not inſenſible, and ſhe has Beauty—
My Age rejoices in the Hope. This Moment—
Yes—I'll propoſe her to him, for their Union,
And yours with my EUGENIA, are alone
My earneſt Prayer to Heaven.
What eaſy Creatures
Are theſe ſame honeſt Men! ſo credulous,
They're hardly worth deceiving. But this Governeſs—
My Uncle muſt diſcharge her, though her Pride
Will ſcorn to own, I could ſuſpect her Honeſty.
Aemilia wed my Brother!—Honour! Conſcience!
I feel ye not; then why ſhould I believe
An Idiot's Tale about ye. But—impoſſible—
'Tis beyond Hope—He never can conſent—He comes.
And with him—Arm in Arm—a common Soldier!
Who can it be? At Sight of me, they ſtart.
'Tis Guilt; 'tis Fear; at leaſt it is Suſpicion,
Well-manag'd, to produce moſt precious Miſchief.
Good morrow, Brother; is our Uncle riſen?
He is, ſince early Morning, and deſires
Impatiently to ſee you.
I could wiſh,
He might not know you told me.
I had engag'd to do an Act of Kindneſs,
This Morning, for a brave Unfortunate,
Whom highly I eſteem.
Perhaps the Perſon,
Whom now you parted with?
The ſame. His Story
(Which yet I'm not at Liberty to tell you)
Is full of Wonders, mix'd with ſuch Misfortunes—
Has he been long at Paris?
But lately from our Settlements in India.
Laſt Night I brought him with me from the Army,
Where, though conceal'd beneath that mean Diſguiſe,
Yet his great Spirit, through the Ranks of War,
Diffus'd a Soldier's Warmth—The Warmth of Glory.
May I not know him? I, perhaps, can ſerve him.
Why may not I be truſted with this Secret?
It is the Secret of my Friend, not mine.
I'm ſatisfied. It is moſt noble in you
To ſuccour the Diſtreſs'd. Yet your own Happineſs
Might well employ a youthful Lover's Cares
So near his nuptial Day.
You ſeem ſurpriz'd. Has not my Uncle told you,
He means to give you his beloved Daughter,
No, the fair AEMILIA;
In every real Tenderneſs of Heart,
As much his Daughter, as the young EUGENIA.
O my deluded Soul! How ſwift was Hope
To catch th' imaginary Joy! Oh! Brother!
Now for a Strain of Rature. [aſide.] Speak, good Brothers.
In vain would I conceal my Soul's Confuſion;
I am untaught to hide the riſing Paſſion.
Tell me for whom, the happieſt of his Kind,
Is the dear Maid, her Sex's Pride and Envy,
For whom deſign'd?
Is ſhe, indeed, this Wonder?
Sure ſhe was form'd in ſome indulgent Hour,
Which bleſs'd the Works of Nature with Perfection,
That Truth and Honour might with Beauty dwell,
And Virtue with the chaſte Delights of Love.
Such are the Dreams of Lovers. As for me,
Who think, perchance, with leſs myſterious Reverence,
As with leſs Rapture, of a Woman's Worth,
I take her—
For ſome wiſer Reaſons;
Some truer Merit. To deal frankly with you,
The Father's Fortune is the Daughter's Beauty.
Be wiſer ſtill. Enjoy my Uncle's Fortune.
Let me poſſeſs—Oh! give her to my Arms,
Rich in herſelf, in her own native Wealth
Of Youth and Beauty, give the charming Maid,
And make your Brother happy.
Theſe Tranſports, if I thought EUGENIA knew them,
Much more encourag'd them—We yet are Brothers,
But learn to think leſs warmly of the Woman,
Whom you, perhaps to-morrow, may call Siſter.
To-morrow, and my Siſter! What! no more!
Only a Day, and ſuch a Day of Horrour,
Between my Fate and me!
Come now, my Lord,
And after fifteen Years of Baniſhment,
(While every Clime had its peculiar Sorrows)
Behold a new Diſtreſs.
Sure I have ſeen
Affliction's various Forms. Is there a Grief,
That ſaddens human Life, I have not known?
Ha! that Start has Meaning in it.
Then you have heard, you know,—Let me conjure you
Give me each Circumſtance.—
By holy Friendſhip,
My Wonder was to hear that Name pronounc'd
In Accents of Deſpair.
Oh! it was once—
'Twas Muſic tun'd by Love. 'Tis loſt for ever.
My Brother's Wife, my Siſter; theſe are Names
My Tongue muſt learn. EUGENIA's is no more.
Paſs but a few ſhort Hours—I dare not think on't.
My Siſter's Lover! Miſery and Horrour!
Fly to your Uncle; pour your Heart before him;
The Heart has a peculiar Eloquence
To plead the Cauſe of Love.
Has not my Brother
The Aids of Art to paint th' unconſcious Paſſion?
EUGENIA's Virtues, tho' he feel them not,
Her Beauties, though he gaz'd inſenſible,
Are ample Themes for counterfeited Rapture.
But why—my Lord, your Day of Happineſs,
Tho' long o'ercaſt, again is opening on you,
Why ſhould I cloud it o'er?
And can you think,
That I'll enjoy the Bleſſings you reſtore me,
My Sovereign's Pardon, Honours, Friends, and Fame,
Till you are happy? Nor deſpair, my CLERVAL,
For, if without Preſumption to high Heaven,
The Virtuous muſt be happy.
Whence, my Lord,
Are your Misfortunes then?
From Guilt and Juſtice.
Did I not break the Laws of Earth and Heaven?
When for a Point of Honour, falſe, falſe Honour,
I kill'd the Partner of my Soul; my Friend—
I lov'd him, I eſteem'd him—and I kill'd him.
The King, the Judge of Honour, as of Juſtice,
Declares you innocent.
But in that Court,
Where Conſcience, Heavn's Vice-gerent, ſits ſupreme,
Who ſhall acquit me there?
You think too deeply.
The King is gracious; but in vain his Mercy,
Till I can find that dear, that boſom'd Bliſs,
For whom alone I live. Driven from her Arms
To hopeleſs Baniſhment; from the pure Joys,
That bleſs the nuptial Bed.—
And yet, my Lord,
Until your Pardon paſs the uſual Forms,
(For you have powerful Enemies) this Habit,
For a few Hours, (no more) muſt ſtill conceal you.
I will repreſs theſe Longings of the Heart,
And wait, my CLERVAL,—think with what Impatience,
For News of your EUGENIA.
O Sounds, how charming to the Hopes of Love.
Come Love, and Virtue come; unite your Powers,
Inſpire my Heart, with Honour how to gain her,
Or teach it—Oh!—without a Crime to loſe her.
2. ACT II.
DORIMOND and EUGENIA meeting.
MY Morning's Joy, may all its deareſt Bleſſings,
As fall its Dews on Earth, deſcend upon you.
Sure my EUGENIA, riſing with the Morn,
Steals her Complexion from her. Why thoſe Bluſhes!
A Father's Praiſe is but th' Exceſs of Fondneſs,
The Over-flowing of a Heart, that loves you.
And can I wiſh it more? This tender Proof,
That your EUGENIA's not diſpleaſing to you,
Is far beyond all Praiſe.
My Life's firſt Bleſſing;
But yet its tender Care, and ſoft Anxiety—
For while my Heart, with pleaſurable Fondneſs,
Pours its Affections o'er you, ſtill it trembles
With ſtrongly imag'd Fears.
Alas! my Father!
If Heaven's Indulgence ſhould no longer ſpare me
To this delightful Taſk, to form your Youth—
But I'll not pain thy gentle Diſpoſition.
I came to talk to you of Happineſs,
Thou Fondneſs of my Soul.
Where will this end?
Tell me, EUGENIA, can a Virgin's Heart
Conceive the chaſte Delights, the pure Endearments,
That dwell with wedded Love; where holy Friendſhip
Inſpires the mutual Wiſh; where equal Intereſts
Produce an equal Bliſs; where each is happy
In th' other's Happineſs?
Sir, may I own,
If the Acquaintance of a Man of Worth
Be truly valuable, how much more dear
Muſt his Alliance be, his kindred Virtues?
To have my Underſtanding form'd, improv'd,
Enlarg'd by his ſuperior Senſe; to ſhare
In the Eſteem, that's paid him by his Friends,
Or by the public Voice, that ſpeaks his Worth—
If there were ſuch a Man—
There is, there is.
Whom his own Sex eſteems for manly Virtue,
And yours might love for every ſofter Art,
Which makes that Virtue amiable.
But as the higheſt Proof how dear I hold him,
(For Nature bids me love him, as my Kinſman)
I dare to truſt him with EUGENIA's Happineſs.
It is—be ſtill my Heart—It muſt be CLERVAL.
What has my Soul, but Gratitude and Love,
What has my Duty, Sir, but its Obedience,
To pay you back this wondrous Tenderneſs?
Then take him from my Hand, my Heart, my Judgment,
My happy Nephew MERCOUR. Ha! that trembling,
That pale Confuſion on your frighted Cheek,
What can it mean? Whence are thoſe Tears, EUGENIA?
They are not mine; they ſtart involuntary
From Paſſions, not my own. But, Sir, my Will,
My Duty, Love, and Gratitude are mine,
And they ſhall all obey you.
No, my Child;
I am a Father; would be thought a Friend,
Whom Nature has entruſted with your Happineſs;
Whoſe more experienc'd Age might influence,
But not controul, your Choice. Yet this hereafter.
For now my Heart's too full—of Tenderneſs.
Yet ſtay, Oh! ſtay; I'll ſtop theſe guſhing Tears,
Since they diſpleaſe you. Do not leave me thus.
This the firſt Time (think how my Heart muſt feel it)
I ever knew your Anger, your Diſpleaſure.
DORIMOND embracing her.
Is this to be diſpleas'd? Is this like Anger?
Indulgent Nature hovers o'er her Works,
As they yet riſe to Life, with leſs fond Pleaſure
Than fills thy Father's Breaſt; nor will I aſk
Why you are thus alarm'd—Some other Time—
ORPHISA, take my Daughter to your Care.
Your Father ſtrangely mov'd, and you in Tears!
Could you offend him, or can he be angry?
Tho' always moſt indulgent, yet this Morning—
Sure never was a Father's Fondneſs ſhewn
In ſuch exceeding Tenderneſs.
Afflicts you thus?
His Tenderneſs, ORPHISA,
Afflicting, as his Anger. Yet even now
He thinks me diſobedient, baſe, ungrateful.
[Looking after DORIMOND.
Oh! Sir—theſe Tears—this Sorrow of my Soul—
Is this like Diſobedience? This, Ingratitude?
[Turning to ORPHISA.
You, Madam, who have form'd my Heart, muſt know it:
Am I ungrateful? Can Ingratitude,
(The baſeſt Vice that taints the human Heart)
Dwell with the Leſſons you have planted there?
Yet may I underſtand you?
Pray forgive me.
While he pronounc'd his Morning-Bleſſings o'er me,
His Looks were full of Care and ſoft Anxiety.
He talk'd to me of Happineſs; of Marriage;
And earneſt wiſh'd to ſee my Fate united
With one, whom be deſcrib'd with every Art,
With every Charm, that gains Eſteem and Love.
Sure I once knew the dear Original
Of this delightful Picture—Pray go on.
With conſcious Eye, where Joy and Rapture ſhone,
I view'd the pleaſing Portrait; I compar'd it
With that, which Love had pictur'd on my Heart,
And found the Likeneſs real. Think, ORPHISA,
What Horrors fill'd my Eye, my Heart, my Brain,
When, with a much unuſual Warmth, he cry'd,
"Then take him from my Hand, my Heart, my Judgment,
My happy Nephew—MERCOUR!"
Perceiv'd he your Confuſion?
It was not in the Power of Artifice,
Sure not in my Simplicity to hide,
Or to diſguiſe it. While my Tongue ſtopp'd, faultering,
Unknowing how to anſwer; every Feature
Too ſtrongly told th' Averſion of my Soul.
Whence this Averſion? In the World's Opinion,
(Which ſeldom judges wrong, when it commends)
MERCOUR has Merit; an extenſive Knowledge,
In Letters and in Men, with every Elegance,
That's form'd and poliſh'd by the Arts of Courts.
May I not fear, that MERCOUR's greateſt Fault
Is CLERVAL's being amiable?
It is not that my Judgment diſeſteems him.
There's ſomewhat in him, that my Nature ſtarts at,
An Inſtinct of Averſion.
But his Brother—
I will allow his Worth—Yet all Engagements—
That never ſhall tranſgreſs the Bounds of Duty,
Not even in Thought—Will you condemn them, Madam?
I do; I muſt; without your Father's Knowledge.
The Maid, who loves her Innocence, ſhould bluſh
If e'er her wandering Eye excite the Hope
Of ſecret Love; 'tis ev'n a Crime to pleaſe,
Which Virtue ſtartles at. Oh! would EUGENIA
Exert the Spirit of Virtue; let the Senſe
Of filial Piety inſpire her Breaſt,
And at the Marriage-Altar offer up
The Paſſions of the Heart; that nobleſt Sacrifice,
Worthy of her, of Virtue, and of Heaven—
And will high Heaven be mock'd with ſuch a Sacrifice?
And ſhall I give my Hand, that ſacred Pledge
Of Love and Truth, to him my Soul abhors?
Shall I deceive even him? Shall I profane
The Altar and its Rites with Vows of Falſhood?
There ſhall I learn Diſſimulation? there
Firſt ſpeak a Language, foreign to my Heart?
Ye bleſſed Saints and Angels, ſhall ye hear
My unhallow'd Lips pronounce the ſolemn Promiſe
Of everlaſting Love to one I hate?
All holy Things forbid. I durſt not think it.
Yet when th' Affections hear the Voice of Reaſon,
They riſe, like pureſt Incenſe, from the Heart,
Then, who ſhall rob the Father of his Right,
His Child's Obedience? Not his Voice alone,
'Tis Nature's primal Law, that bids, obey;
And Heaven has promis'd to this firſt of Duties
Its firſt of Bleſſings.
But to live, ORPHISA,
A mean Diſſembler of the Heart's Affections,
While Duty coldly acts the part of Love—
Guide of my Youth, Directreſs of my Life,
Teach me, for ſure you know, th' unerring Path,
That leads to Happineſs.
There is but one;
Not hard to find, th' unerring Path of Virtue.
Virtue, that in itſelf commands its Happineſs,
Of every outward Object independant.
I ſee you're mov'd. At ſome more temperate Hour
We may reſume the Subject. Only this,
Let not Averſion, Prejudice or Paſſion,
And, above all, let us not ſuffer CLERVAL
To mix a Lover's Reaſoning with our Councils.
You muſt not ſee him.
How can I avoid him?
Look where he comes.
Retire. Depend upon me.
I'll take a tender Care of all your Intereſts.
EUGENIA looking back as ſhe goes out.
O CLERVAL. CLERVAL!
ORPHISA as CLERVAL enters.
How her Eyes ſpoke a ſtreaming Tenderneſs,
Beyond all Power of Language.
Tell me my Fate, whate'er you purpoſe for me.
Cruel—O ſpeak to me—unkind EUGENIA.
Sir, ſhe has order'd me—
There needs not, Madam,
A Tale of cruel Pity to inform me—
I ſee it plain—that I am moſt undone.
Your Influence, Madam, your too rigid Virtue—
You cannot, Sir, imagine me your Enemy.
I know you cannot be an Enemy;
But can you be the Lover's Friend, who think
That Love is Weakneſs? She, whoſe Virtue ſits
Above the Paſſions, how can ſhe forgive
Their leaſt Miſrule in others? Can ſhe pity
Thoſe ſofter Yieldings, which ſhe ne'er experienc'd?
I would not, Sir, be thought inſenſible
Even to the ſofteſt Yieldings of the Heart,
For I have known them all.
Then tell EUGENIA,
Let me conjure you tell her, that my Heart
Ne'er felt the Power of Beauty for another,
Nor Hopes, nor Fears, nor Wiſhes; that my Eye,
Ne'er gaz'd with Joy on any other Form.
Witneſs, ye Powers, who view our inmoſt Thoughts,
And ſee the Mind yet riſing into Action,
Did I e'er think of Happineſs without her,
Or feel a Grief, but as it gave her Pain.
Is there not too much Warmth, too much of Paſſion
In this Proteſting? When that Youth and Beauty
(Whoſe very Nature is Decay and Frailty)
Which now inſpire theſe Tranſports, ſhall decay,
Will they not alter too? Will they not change?
Yes, Madam, when Diſcretion, Senſe, and Honour,
(Theſe are EUGENIA's Beauties) change their Nature;
Then ſhall my Paſſion change. If it be Paſſion,
'Tis form'd of purer Fire, than that which warms
Our Senſe to Beauty.
Sir, I muſt confeſs,
Theſe Sentiments moſt noble. I acknowledge,
When Virtue rules the Paſſions, they are virtuous.
But how can I oblige you? Is it fitting—
Shall I, the Guardian of EUGENIA's Youth,
I, who ſhould aid her to controul her Heart,
Fill her ſoft Soul with Love's tumultuous Cares?
With Love, that in itſelf is all the Paſſions?
I am perhaps, but an improper Judge
Of this calm, temperate Reaſoning. But my Uncle—
No Motive there of Duty can reſtrain you.
I know how highly he eſteems your Merit.
Let me conjure you then—
I muſt not hear you.
My Duty, Sir, forbids me, leſt my Heart—
It muſt not yield even to its own Eſteem,
[Aſide, ſeeing MERCOUR.
Nor ſhall it, MERCOUR, to my juſt Reſentment
Even for that bold, unworthy Bribe, you offer'd me.
Enter DORIMOND, MERCOUR.
[Aſide to DORIMOND.
Good Heaven, forbid, that I ſhould do her wrong
By my Suſpicions.
I much fear you do not.
I have myſelf obſerv'd—But I'll be ſatisfied.
There is a fooliſh Softneſs in my Nature,
That cannot ſee, what I ſo late eſteem'd,
In the Diſtreſs of Guilt, Your Pardon, Sir;
I muſt retire. Now Miſchief do thy Pleaſure.
DORIMOND, to ORPHISA.
How happy, Madam, did I think my Daughter
Beneath your Care? With what Delight behold her?
Confiding to your Truth the deareſt Treaſure
A Father's Love poſſeſſes.
Have I wrong'd
How did my Heart rejoice
To own the Obligation, and repay it?
Why muſt I charge you with Ingratitude?
Ingratitude! Then I am fall'n indeed.
I am ſo little us'd to ſuch Reproaches—
Forgive me, Sir,—I know not how to anſwer them.
Madam, this haughty Air but ill befits
The Woman, who can mix in dark Intrigues
To hurt the Peace of Families.
This Character? Am I ſo repreſented?
I need not ſay, how highly I eſteem'd you;
I honour'd, as I thought, ſuperiour Merit;
But when I know, you practiſe on my Daughter
To turn her Heart aſide from its Obedience,
And ſcorn or hate, whom I eſteem and love—
Sir, if you know this of me, 'tis in vain
To juſtify my Conduct.
A Maid of ſuch a gentle Diſpoſition—
Who taught her Paſſions? Who theſe ſtrange Averſions?
But, Madam, for the little Time EUGENIA
Shall have occaſion for your Services,
Let me deſire, you may confine your Cares
Within their proper Bounds.
'Tis fitting, Sir,
That I obey you.
Ha! ſuch matchleſs Inſolence!
'Tis ever thus; when Guilt is near Diſcovery,
It boldly takes the conſcious Pride of Innocence.
Then my beſt Hopes are loſt. Much wrong'd ORPHISA!
O Virtue, ill rewarded!
Tell me, Nephew,
Why is my Houſe become the dark Retreat
Of Perſons in Diſguiſe? Can CLERVAL fall
To ſuch low Intimates, ſuch mean Society,
As this appears to be?
Your Pardon, Sir;
They, who, of late, have gain'd your Confidence,
Have much abus'd it. You yourſelf oft told us,
The brave Unfortunate are our beſt Acquaintance.
They ſhew us, Virtue may be much diſtreſs'd,
And give us their Example how to ſuffer.
'Tis true. But wherefore in Diſguiſe? For Virtue,
When juſtly conſcious of her native Worth,
Diſdains to walk in Darkneſs and Diſguiſe.
Or is he what he ſeems? A common Soldier?
As highly eminent in Birth, as Merit.
Sir, a few Hours ſhall give him to your Friendſhip,
The Man, to whom I owe my Life, my Honour,
And France her Share of Glory.
I believe you.
Suſpicion ſhocks my Nature. I rely
On your Diſcretion to avoid Engagements,
Where Friendſhip has a greater Share, than Prudence.
Nor will I aſk the Secret of your Friend;
When I can ſerve him, tell me. But this Action,
This gallant Deed, ſo glorious to his Country,
May ſure be told. 'Tis Honour to repeat it.
'Tis Gratitude; 'tis Friendſhip; and my Heart,
Whenever you permit me, will with Joy—
Then, come to my Apartment; I would talk with you
Of ſomewhat that concerns your Happineſs.
[Exeunt DOR. CLER.
Joy! Friendſhip! Gratitude! This gallant Deed!
Now ſome romantic Tale ſhall quite ſubdue
My Uncle's Spirit. CLERVAL too regains
His Confidence. No matter. All my Views
Are fixing to their Point; for now, EUGENIA,
My haughty, virtuous Maid, [ſhewing a Paper] Here lies thy Fate,
And I the Ruler of it. Rapturous Thought!
To ſee her kneeling in the Duſt for Pity,
And in her Pride's Deſpair, imploring me
To ſave her from her Shame; from Poverty!
While he is reading, AEMILIA enters.
Is it my own diſturb'd Imagination,
Or do I ſee ſtrange Terrour and Confuſion
In every Face I meet? No; there's a Face,
That knows no Change; inflexible in Miſchief.
What! can he ſmile! 'Tis more than common Villainy,
When MERCOUR deigns to ſmile. And now he frowns,
As if ſome Thought of Goodneſs ſmote his Heart.
AEMILIA! moſt unlucky—but perhaps—
I fear, Sir, I diſturb ſome hopeful Project
Of moſt important Goodneſs.
'Twas nothing but ſome light and trivial Thinking.
But may I hope we meet on other Terms,
Than when we parted laſt? The Tempeſt over,
Reaſon enjoys the Calm, and temperate hears
The Voice of Friendſhip.
Ay, my temperate Monitor,
Thus far have I regain'd my native Temper,
Not to reproach the Author of my Ruin,
Or call the violated Hoſt of Heaven
To witneſs to his Perjuries. No, MERCOUR;
The Fault I own, was mine; for oh! one Night,
One falſe, betraying Night, yet hear it not,
Ye holy Matrons, and ye ſtainleſs Virgins,
Feebly I liſten'd to the Voice of Virtue,
And gave away my Soul to Love—and Ruin.
Thus let me thank you for the dear Remembrance
That gives the bliſsful Hour—
And dare you think,
That I could mean, with riotous Intent,
To call Imagination looſely forth
To view the guilty Scene. Too well I ſee
How vilely you eſteem me. I deſerve it.
Yet think not, Sir, I'll ſtand a cold Spectator
To view the Ruins of this happy Dwelling;
For by EUGENIA's Tears, too well I know
Thy Terrours are abroad.
I will not anſwer
Th' unkind Suſpicion; all will ſoon be well,
And you, my beſt AEMILIA, ſhall be made
The Pledge of Peace.
Ah! Me, the Pledge of Peace!
Dear to my Heart, as in the rapturous Hour,
That gave you to my Arms—but Poverty—
Diſtreſs and Penury—how ſhould I ſupport them,
Were you to ſhare them with me? Thus compell'd,
Sure Proof of Love, I force my Heart to yield
Thy Beauties to another; never more
To gaze delighted on Thee; to exchange
The melting Sounds of Tenderneſs and Love
For the cold Name of Siſter.
What new Horrours!
To ſave your Fame, procure you Wealth and Honour,
By my Advice my Uncle is this Moment,
Propoſing you to CLERVAL—
As his Wife!
What! ſhall I ſtain the holy Marriage-Bed!
Give to a noble, unſuſpecting Youth
The foul Pollution of his Brother's Paſſions!
Theſe are among the many Things, AEMILIA,
Which, if not known, are not.
Do not I know them?
But not to tell.
Heaven will in Thunders tell them [...]
If Heaven told Secrets of this Kind in Thunder,
Sure it muſt roll unceaſing.
Hear me, MERCOUR,
Tho' Heaven and Hell ſhould keep the guilty Secret,
There is, who will diſcover it.
By my diſtracted Soul; by theſe new Horrours,
Faſt-gathering round me; by my future Woes,
You will? Expoſe yourſelf to Infamy?
Tho' Men and Angels ſaw it.
Is this AEMILIA? This the tender Maid
Of ſuch unpaſſion'd Gentleneſs of Manners?
No, Sir, I am the Creature you have made me.
Behold your Work, and as you taught me Paſſions,
Now teach me how to rule them in their Wildneſs.
But from this Moment I renounce the World:
Fly from all Converſe with deſtructive Man,
His Oaths, his Vows, his Cruelty, his Baſeneſs;
And chiefly Thee; falſe and inhuman MERCOUR.
Why, what a wilful, wayward Thing is Woman?
Even in their beſt Purſuits ſo looſe of Soul,
That every Breath of Paſſion ſhakes their Frame,
And every Fancy turns them. But her Threats—
They too are weak and womaniſh. EUGENIA—
If ſhe has aught of Woman in her Form,
Their univerſal Vanity, their Pride,
Their wandering Appetites, their Senſe of Shame,
And Dread of Infamy—She muſt be mine.
3. ACT III.
SHEW'D her Refuſal in Contempt, or Hatred?
Or was it, Sir, the Conſciouſneſs of Beauty,
That would be woo'd, and not, unſought, be won.*
Sure it was more. At Mention of your Name,
(For ſhe till then, I thought, with Pleaſure heard me)
Trembling ſhe ſtood, as if ſome ſudden Horror
Had ſmote her Heart.
Only a Virgin Fear,
Starting at Marriage.
I ſhould rather think,
Her Heart's engag'd already.
Sure you wrong her.
Could ſhe, with ſuch a Senſe of filial Duty,
Engage her Heart without your Approbation;
Or, with her open and ingenuous Nature,
Could ſhe have Art to hide it?
That I know not.
I think I might depend upon her Choice.
Would it were CLERVAL.
What! My Brother, Sir?
Perhaps—impoſſible—yet if I thought—
Tho' terrible to think it—that EUGENIA
Indulg'd a ſecret Paſſion for my Brother,
By all the Hopes, which my fond Soul had form'd,
I would reſign, would give her, to his Arms.
How noble ſuch diſintereſted Paſſion!
May I confeſs, even Beauty's rich Poſſeſſion,
EUGENIA's Beauty, but my ſecond Wiſh—
Nearer to be allied to you and Goodneſs,
In a Son's Right to wait upon your Age,
With every grateful Tenderneſs and Care,
Firſt taught me how to love; firſt rais'd to Hope
The conſcious, humble Spirit of my Wiſhes.
You have a dearer Intereſt in my Love
Than yet you know of, Nephew; for my Wife,
(Whoſe Memory will never from my Heart,
While it retains a Senſe of what is amiable
And virtuous in her Sex) eſteem'd you greatly;
And her Eſteem, ſo juſt was her Diſcernment,
Is a full Proof of Merit.
Sir, forgive me;
Theſe Tears, a grateful Tribute to her Memory,
Will force their Way. My ever honour'd Aunt—
But that I know ſhe dies to you again,
Whene'er her Name is mention'd, I could tell you—
Nothing, Sir,—or if—not much—O Fool,
Simple of Soul, and heedleſs that I am;
I wear my Heart upon my Lips.
Sir, I muſt diſobey you; for each Word
Will open all the boſom'd Wounds of Grief—
Let my Requeſt, if not, let my Commands—
With what Reluctance, tho' conjur'd thus ſtrongly,
Do I recall to my afflicted Memory,
Much more to your's, the Hour that took from Earth
All that was good and excellent in Woman.
When you were parted from her; while the Breath
Of Life yet hardly trembled o'er her Lips,
Take this laſt Proof, ſhe cry'd, of my Eſteem.
To you, and to your Virtue, I bequeath
EUGENIA's Youth, to watch her Beauty's Frailty,
And guard her from the World, and its Deluſions.
There ſpoke her Heart, her firſt, laſt Care was Virtue.
Why was I not inform'd of this before?
Fearful (perhaps from too much Delicacy)
Leſt it might ſeem a low-intention'd Fraud,
A baſe and bold Attempt on your Credulity—
Oh! No. I feel its Truth; 'tis in my Heart;
A Power that cannot lie: EUGENIA too
Shall hear, and will obey her Mother's Will.
How my Soul thanks you! Yet my Heart's too delicate
To take her, Sir, from any other Influence
Than that of mutual Love. Have I your Leave
To talk to her alone?
I'll ſend her to you. Yet remember, Nephew,
In all Engagements, where the Heart's concern'd,
The Heart alone muſt chuſe.
So! This was lucky.
He now is mine for ever. Should his Wife
Start from her Shroud, ſhe ſhall not be believ'd.
But ſtill (ſuch ſilly Dotage) his EUGENIA—
Why let her chuſe; or Happineſs or Miſery,
Be mine the Choice of Vengeance, or of Love;
To ruin, or enjoy.
My Father, Sir,
Hath ſent me hither, as I think, to hear
Some moſt important Secret.
Not he alone,
But every better Angel hovering o'er you,
Your Guardian Genius, watchful for your Welfare—
Come ye caeleſtial Hoſt, deſcend to Earth,
And ſave your beauteous Charge—They bid you hear.
Well, Sir, I come prepar'd to know their Pleaſure,
By you, it ſeems, their choſen Miniſter.
Yet have they given you no kind Fore-boadings,
No ſecret Inſtincts of this Hour of Fate?
Still heaves your Boſom with its wonted Calmneſs,
Nor Fear, nor Terror, mix their Pantings there?
What Terror, Sir? What Fear? 'Tis Guilt alone,
Like brain ſick Frenzy, in its feveriſh Mood,
Fills the light Air with viſionary Terrors,
And ſhapeleſs Forms of Fear. I know them not.
How I admire this Dignity of Spirit,
Which my prophetic Love had long foreſeen!
Why do you ſtart? I ſaw your Dawn of Beauty,
Sure Pledge of Day; I ſaw your opening Charms,
Promiſe their preſent Bloom; and was it poſſible,
Without Deſire to ſee them?
Is this the Terror
For which I ſhould invoke my better Genius,
And call my Guardian Angel to my Aid?
No, Sir: however terrible the Danger,
'Tis but to fly for ever, and be ſafe.
MERCOUR, catching her by the Arm.
You ſhall not go. This Hour is Fate's and mine.
Unhand me, MERCOUR—Sir, this ruffian Violence—
'Tis not my Father's Favour—He will hear—
Sure he'll protect his Daughter from ſuch Outrage.
His Daughter! Thou preſumptuous—But 'tis Time
To quell this Inſolence— (Shewing her a Paper) You know this Hand—
My Mother's! And directed to my Father!
The Night before ſhe died, you may remember,
She gave ſome Papers to me. This was one;
And it contains a Secret of ſuch Moment—
You ſeem to think, 'twill mortify my Pride.
If I muſt learn Humility, I know not
Who better can inſtruct me; ſurely none,
Who, with more Pleaſure, will accept the Office.
Is this with Pleaſure to behold your Ruin?
Thus, kneeling, to conjure you to prevent it?
Give me a Huſband's ſacred Right to guard—
Am I to read that Paper?
Pauſe a Moment;
For ſtill my Love, my Weakneſs, would preſerve you.
Or give it me, or let me think you dare not.
Ha! Dare not! (giving it to her) Oh! Yet hold your Hand, raſh Maid;
For know you ſtand upon a Precipice,
And your next Step is bottomleſs Perdition.
Tho' every Letter glar'd with Blood—
Then read it, and be wretched.
Knowing, Sir, how ardently you wiſh'd for Children, and willing to engage your Affection more ſtrongly, I deceived you—with a ſuppoſititious Child. Your Embaſſy to
Spain gave me an Opportunity of making
EUGENIA paſs for my Daughter. Death compels me to reveal my Secret. Oh! Pardon—
(She ſtands gazing fixedly.)
Awake, EUGENIA, to the Voice of Joy,
Of Happineſs and Love.
Where are they, MERCOUR?
Here in my Arms: here let our Fates unite;
Be it our mutual Intereſt to conceal
The Secret of your Birth.
In vain: Conceal it!
Though I deceiv'd the World, can I deceive
Myſelf or you? Can we unknow it, Sir?
Yes; from this Hour I'll blot it from my Memory.
My Eye ſhall gaze, tranſported, on thy Beauty,
And my fond Heart, grown proud of your Alliance,
Shall imitate the Virtues it admires.
Such Virtues, as firſt made Nobility,
And beſt ſupport its Honours.
Once more to ſee that Paper. (Returning it) Sir, I'm ſatisfied.
Now timely think, EUGENIA, who ſhall guard,
Through this tempeſtuous World, thy Orphan Innocence.
Oh! Should Misfortune's Hand fall rudely on you,
And, like a feeble Flower, o'er-charged with Rain,
If you ſhould bend to Earth the weeping Head,
What powerful Hand ſhall then ſupport your Sorrows?
Th' all-powerful Hand
Of Virtue, Honour, Piety.
Yet tell me;
On what do you reſolve.
Not to inherit
A Fortune not my own; not to deceive
The Heart of DORIMOND with falſe Careffes,
Or, impious, fix a Paſſion in his Breaſt,
Which Nature has denied him.
It were impious
To undeceive him. Think what Pangs, EUGENIA,
To tear a boſom'd Fondneſs from the Soul,
However planted there.
Their's be the Guilt,
Who force me to the dire Neceſſity:
Longer to pauſe would make me ſhare that Guilt.
MERCOUR, farewell, for ever.
Have I then
Bow'd down my Soul to Meanneſs? Have I ſunk
My Spirit to a Girl? Yet mark me, proud one,
I ſee through your Deſign to ruin me;
But ſhould you dare inſinuate to my Uncle—
Sir, I dare follow Truth, where-e'er it leads,
And own no other Guide.
'Tis falſe; I ſee
Your better Guide, your Paſſion for my Brother;
Yet know, 'tis in my Power, imperious Beauty,
To make his Pride, nay, even his Love, deſpiſe thee.
Keep your own Secret: 'tis my laſt Advice,
Or dread my Vengeance; mine; no trivial Vengeance.
Is it in Fear or Fancy to imagine;
Is it in MERCOUR's Vengeance, or his Power,
Or even his Heart, to make me yet more wretched?
No. 'Tis ſhe, who was EUGENIA,
The loſt EUGENIA.
Then he has told you—
What? That he has gain'd
My Uncle's Promiſe? But I'll fly this Moment;
I'll throw me at his Feet; he ſhall be ſenſible
Of my Deſpair; the Anguiſh of my Soul—
Shall he not ſee, and pity it?
My Fate depends on DORIMOND no longer.
Not on my Uncle? Not upon your Father?
My Father, CLERVAL! Who, where is my Father?
Ye Powers, who love and guard the Innocent,
What can EUGENIA mean?
What can ſhe mean
But Sorrow and Deſpair? What elſe has Meaning?
Am I not moſt undone?
Whence, where the Danger?
My Love, my Life ſhall guard you. What Misfortune?
'Tis in myſelf; 'tis in my Deſtiny.
Canſt thou do Things, impoſſible to Fate?
Can you recall the Moment of my Birth?
Or, ere I ſaw the Light, can you prevent
The Shame that gave me Being? If thou canſt not,
Let us give Way to Ruin. Let us part—
Oh! Muſt I ſay—for ever?
Part! For ever!
Nor give my Heart a Reaſon for this Dealing?
Let me complain of Fortune, of my Uncle.
Of any thing, but my EUGENIA's Faith.
Let me not think, ſhe can forget the Vows,
Which once—Or did a Lover's Hope deceive me?
She heard without Reluctance.
Yes, with Joy;
The Words of Love and Truth (for CLERVAL ſpoke them)
Thro' my charm'd Ear, fell melting on my Heart.
They were my Bliſs, my Hope, my every Care,
And I was worthy then of Vows like thine.
But now behold me well. Do you not ſee,
Upon my glowing Cheek, the bluſhing Marks
Of Lowlineſs and Shame?
Of Shame? Diſtraction!
Bluſhes and Shame! Are they not Marks of Vice,
Which, ſure, EUGENIA's Purity ne'er knew.
Oh! Where ſhall Virtue ſix her ſacred Throne,
If on that Cheek can looſe Diſhonour ſit
To catch the wandering Eye? No—Thou art pure,
As Light firſt ſtreaming from the Heights of Heaven.
But if you will not tell this fatal Secret,
Yet MERCOUR ſhall.
And I become the Cauſe
Of foul Debate, and Quarrels between Brothers!
The virtuous Man and honeſt—He's my Brother,
And he alone; for Nature never meant
By her Affections to engage our Hearts
To Villainy and Baſeneſs.
Yet will MERCOUR,
Will his fierce Spirit brook the being queſtion'd?
Will he not ſay, I gave her to her Fate,
And only not conceal'd her Story longer?
Rage may enſue, and Paſſions riſe, regardleſs
Of Reaſon, as of Nature. Save me, CLERVAL,
From Images of Horror to diſtract me.
Yes, every Paſſion (Anger and Reſentment)
Shall wait upon my Love. Take your own Time
T' unfold this fatal Tale. Yet, Oh! For Pity,
Hold not my Heart too long upon the Rack
Of Wonder and of Terror.
'Tis in Pity,
That I refuſe to tell the hard Decree,
Which parts our Loves for ever. Here, O Fortune,
Let me reſign the Hopes and Promiſes,
(For they are yours) of titled Birth and Greatneſs;
Here, take them back, with every fond Idea,
That Youth had form'd of Pleaſure and Ambition;
But let me ſtill preſerve the chaſte Remembrance
That I was once thought worthy his Eſteem,
And honour'd with his Love. CLERVAL, farewel.
'Tis but another Pang—Farewell, for ever.
[As ſhe is going out, DELVILLE. enters at the oppoſite Door.]
Come, ſhare my Joys, thou Friend of the Unfortunate,
For ſtill ſome happier Days—What have I done?
Broke in upon the ſacred Hour of Sorrow
With my ill-omen'd Joys?
If you're that Friend,
As I believe, whoſe Story I have heard,
Your own Misfortunes, Sir, will beſt inſtruct you
To pity thoſe of others. Let your Friendſhip
Support his Sorrows in this Hour of Trial.
CLERVAL, farewell. Would it not pain your Heart,
Mine would confeſs the Pangs it feels in Parting.
She's gone; my Wiſhes' Hope; my Light of Life,
And Darkneſs is upon me.
What could mean
Her Threats, at parting, of ſome worſe Misfortune,
Of ſome ſeverer Tryal of your Virtue?
I cannot tell. She bids me not inquire.
'Tis in her Fate ſhe ſays; 'tis in herſelf,
And ſhe no more depends upon her Father.
'Tis Wonder and Diſtraction.
Some light Terror,
By Fancy form'd; her Sex's Fears are on her.
Oh! She has nothing of her Sex's Fears,
Their Truth alone, their Innocence, and Beauty.
And yet ſhe's loſt for ever—But, my Lord,
You talk'd of Happineſs. I have a Soul,
That, through the Griefs of Love, can feel for Friendſhip.
My Pardon is confirm'd, with every Grace,
That honours royal Mercy, and my Heart
Opens to new-born Hope each panting Vein,
And ſtreams again with Joy.
Whoſe Sorrows riſe from that ſame Fountain Stream,
Whence flow the Joys of others!
Oh! Forgive me,
Theſe Tranſports, wildly ſtarting from the Soul.
They ſeem, I own, and yet they only ſeem,
Forgetful of our Friendſhip, of your Happineſs,
The Intereſts of your Heart. Indulge me ſtill
One little Hour—no—Love ſhall fill it largely
With every Bliſs that Years have raviſh'd from me.
I will do more, my Lord; enjoy it with you.
But have you ſeen her yet?
I go this Moment.
The Friend, who only knew our Correſpondence,
He ſhall direct me to the lovely Mourner,
Where ſhe ſtill fighs her Sorrows o'er my Abſence,
Where Love ſits weeping on the Wings of Time,
Weighs down his Flight, and lengthens out the Day.
Grant me but one Embrace to chear her Sadneſs,
To preſs the fair Affliction to my Heart,
And the next Hour, with all it can command,
Ambition, Fortune, Power, is your's and Friendſhip's.
4. ACT IV.
Enter ORPHISA. EUGENIA meeting.
LET me congratulate my dear EUGENIA.
This Spirit, nobly ſhewn in Virtue's Cauſe,
She will herſelf reward.
Too dearly purchas'd!
The generous DORIMOND—For I no more,
(O Name for ever dear, although pronounc'd
By Sorrow and Deſpair, muſt call him Father)
Nature diſclaims me; throws me out for ever
From her Affections; from the tender Names
Of Parent and of Child.
You mention'd DORIMOND—
I did. But Sorrow ſway'd me from my Purpoſe.
Yet weeping while I told my hapleſs Story,
Sudden his Cheek turn'd pale; his trembling Knees—
They ſmote each other, and his firm Chair ſhook
Beneath its Weight. Frighted, I call'd for Help,
But left him in ſuch Agonies, ORPHISA—
For who could bear it—ſuch a Scene of Sadneſs?
Oh! Should he bend his reverend Age to Earth
With Sorrows, not his own; with my Afflictions—
Our Actions are our own; their Conſequence
Belongs to Heaven. The ſecret Conſciouſneſs
Of Duty well perform'd; the public Voice
Of Praiſe, that honours Virtue, and rewards it,
All theſe are yours, they ſhall be yours for ever.
No; I diſclaim theſe high-born Sentiments;
Th' unbending Pride, and Inſolence of Virtue,
That will not own the Miſeries it feels.
I will indulge to Nature, and her Sorrows.
I never ſhall have Cauſe to weep again,
And I'll enjoy it now.
Yet theſe ſoft Sorrows,
That ſadly ſooth the Heart in its Affliction,
Unnerve its Strength, and ſink it to Deſpair.
Why ſhould I not deſpair? Have I not loſt,
At once, the various Charities of Nature?
Her deareſt, firſt Relations—Child and Father?
Do I not ſtand amidſt the Works of Heaven,
A lonely Being, where all Creatures elſe,
Allied by Inſtinct, Duty, or Affection,
Find mutual Aid and Comfort?
Yet who knows,
But you're deſcended from a Line as noble,
As DORIMOND's high Race?
Am I not rather
The Child of Poverty, whoſe wretched Parents
For ſome low Intereſt ſold her? or perhaps,
Oh! Save me from the Thought, the hapleſs Offspring.
Of looſe forbidden Loves? Or could my Heart
Indulge the Hope, preſumptuous, as uncertain,
On what might Fancy found it?
On the Spirit,
That has inform'd your Heart to Nobleneſs;
Upon the Elevation of your Sentiments;
Your Love of Truth, the Soul's beſt, native Greatneſs.
All theſe are your's, and by your Cares impreſt
Upon my Infant Heart. Should you abandon me,
Both they and I were nothing.
Nor will I,
Nor DORIMOND abandon you. His Heart
Will own you ſtill the Child of his Eſteem,
With almoſt Nature's Fondneſs. Here enjoy
The Fortune, that you merit, 'midſt the Splendors—
That once were mine—What! Live where MERCOUR lives!
To ſee his Face, to bear the ſecret Woundings
Of his Contempt, and CLERVAL's kinder Scorn!
To ſtand the public Gaze; the inſulting Pity
Of common Friendſhips, or the vain Compaſſion
Of the good-natur'd Few! No, let me fly
To ſome obſcure Retreat, where Virtue dwells,
And, without Bluſhing, dares to be unfortunate.
Where is my Child, my Daughter, my EUGENIA?
Why did you thus forſake your Father's Sorrows?
For, if I'm not a Father, whence theſe Tears,
That pour my burſting Heart in Fondneſs o'er thee?
Too ſurely I have loſt the beſt of Fathers.
'Tis Falſhood and Impoſture. Goddeſs Nature,
Whoſe ſubtle Power pervades the heavy Maſs
Of Earth and Water, and with Inſtinct pure
Inſpires the light Inhabitants of Air
With genial Care to hover o'er their young,
Say, are not theſe thy Paſſions, theſe thy Tears?
Do they not flow faſt from thy ſacred Fountain
Of univerſal Love?
Alas! My Father,
(Since you indulge me in the tender Name)
I read the fatal Truth; the well-known Hand—
What other Proof? Hands may be counterfeited.
I'll not believe it. 'Tis ſome black Contrivance
To blaſt my Wife's fair Fame, to ruin thee,
And break thy Father's Heart.
Oh! ſpare me, Sir.
This Goodneſs over-powers me. Your Compaſſion
To a poor Maid, once honour'd as your Daughter,
Is all I aſk. Should my unhappy Fate
Diſturb your Peace of Mind, or hurt your Health,
Misfortune then were Guilt, were Parricide.
Too ſure it will. If you tear up the Heart-ſtrings
Will not the Life-blood follow? But, my Nephew—
Why comes he not? I ſent for him on th' Inſtant.
Perhaps he doubts, perhaps he fears his Proofs;
How little does he know him!
He's coming, Sir.
Permit me to retire.
I fear you cannot ſee him without Pain;
Yet you muſt ſtay.
MERCOUR, you come to vindicate your Honour,
Where it is much ſuſpected. My Eſteem
Would yet perſuade me ſome Miſtake has wrong'd you.
Of what am I accus'd?
Of horrid Forgery.
Of ſome pretended Letter of my Wife's,
Full of ſtrange Myſtery, and foul Contrivance.
And who ſo hardy, Sir, as to inform you
Of this pretended Letter?
What need of other Proof? Is not Ingratitude
The Vice of baſe-born Minds? She was not ignorant
How this Diſcovery would affect your Peace,
And yet th' ungrateful Maid—
MERCOUR; no more.
I am her Guardian ſtill, if not her Father,
Nor ſhall ſhe be inſulted.
Sir, your Pardon:
My Zeal to puniſh—Read this Paper, Sir;
Undoubted Proof EUGENIA's not your Daughter.
DORIMOND reads to himſelf.
My unſuſpecting Heart! What Treachery!
'Midſt ſuch Careſſes too! Perfidious Woman!
Why plant the dear Deluſion in my Soul,
Or why now tear it thence?
Ye Powers, was I to blame?
Ye gave her Beauty, to deceive the Heart,
Ye gave her Words, to ſteal away the Soul,
And ſome ſtrong Charm for every Senſe's Weakneſs.
(to MERCOUR) You, Sir, it ſeems, her favour'd Counſellor,
Why, ſince her Death, has this bold, guilty Fraud,
For ten long Months, why has it been conceal'd?
Sir, ſhould I aim the Dagger at your Life?
'Twas in my Fear, alarm'd by my Affection,
My Gratitude and Duty, I reſolv'd
To wed this fair unknown; to mix our Blood
With Vileneſs and Obſcurity.
I thank you.
For me you dar'd to violate the Faith,
Due to the ſacred Dead, and her Repentance.
'Twas for my Sake you ſhew'd this fatal Paper,
And urg'd its Terrors, Poverty and Shame,
To force her to a loath'd, deteſted Marriage.
MERCOUR, your Heart—But can it, Sir, imagine,
(Bold as you are, and ſanguine in Contrivance)
That I'll reſign my Child, (turning to EUGENIA) my Age's Comfort,
My only future Hope—expoſe her Youth,
Her Bloom of Softneſs, to Deſpair and Sorrow,
On this weak Evidence, this trivial Paper?
You would have other Proof?
I will. Such Proofs,
As cannot lie; cannot be counterfeited.
Behold one living Witneſs. Come ORPHISA,
And teſtify a Truth—Which yet you know not.
She, can ſhe be falſe to Honour?
Can ſhe conſpire to ruin her EUGENIA?
I had almoſt forgot this Morning's Inſult,
That would have brib'd my Honeſty to Vileneſs.
I did not, Sir, reſent, becauſe I ſcorn'd;
But Patience, outrag'd thus, might loſe its Nature,
And alter its Complexion.
Spare, good Madam,
This paſſion'd Phraſe, this Dignity of Language.
This Paper, Sir—
Directed to EUGENIA!
Sir, you may read it.
(Aſide to EUGENIA)
Now, my haughty Maid,
Vengeance, at leaſt, is mine.
DORIMOND, giving it to ORPHISA.
Take it, ORPHISA;
My feeble Eyes are ſhaded o'er with Grief.
You knew her Hand. Is there a Hope to doubt?
Beyond all Doubt, her Character.
[Going to read it.
Why ſhould we ſearch, with a too curious Eye,
For Secrets better hid? This fatal Paper—
Why not deſtroy it, with its Guilt, its Terrors?
No, Sir. My perfect Soul, my ſpotleſs Fame
Demand the Light, and dare provoke their Trial.
Shall it be ſaid (Looking at MERCOUR) with what malignant Joy?
That, in a ſecret Conſciouſneſs of Ruin,
I ſhun'd Diſcovery? To avoid Misfortune
Shall I make ſure of Infamy for ever?
[Kneeling to DORIMOND.
Oh! Sir, if in my Days of Happineſs,
If with Delight you heard my Infant Love
Repeat the Name of Father, I implore you,
That Paper may be read, though it expoſe
My ſecret Soul, with all its inmoſt Frailties,
Wide open to the World.
Oh! truly worthy of a better Fate.
It is not without Pity, that I reveal this Secret to you. But I am approaching the Moments of Truth. Your Mother's Diſtreſſes made it not difficult to bribe thoſe about her; to convey you from her at your Birth, and to tell her you were dead. All the Recompence, then, in my Power, was to make her your Governeſs, and, now, to reſtore you to her.
Yes, I am a Mother.
Great Nature's Evidence, her holy Inſtincts
Are in my Heart. I feel; I own their Truth.
MERCOUR, my Friend, my nobleſt Benefactor,
Receive a Mother's Thanks.—My Child, EUGENIA—
Oh! How the tender Names of Child and Parent,
Till now unheard by Nature's Voice pronounc'd,
Melt on my Ear! But what new Paſſions theſe,
That with unwonted Tenderneſs inſpire
My ſwelling Breaſt? O Daughter of Misfortune,
They burſt in Tears upon thee.
Shall I again
Deplore my Fate? I am the Child of Virtue.
Amazing Tale! Could it be poſſible
To rob you of your Child, that no Inquiries,
(For ſuch I muſt ſuppoſe) could e'er diſcover her?
Torn from me midſt the Pangs, that gave her Birth,
While I lay half expiring. When reſtor'd,
By cruel Care, unwillingly to Life,
Inquiring for her, with a Mother's Tenderneſs,
They told me ſhe was dead. Could I ſuſpect?
Could I prevent it? Could the cruel one,
In ſuch an Hour who robb'd me, could ſhe feel
A Mother's Griefs, in Paſſion for her Child?
If you want farther Proof—if other Evidence—
Inhuman Inſult! Oh! too fatal Proof!
Hardly my trembling Limbs—a cold, dead Faintneſs
Thrills through my Veins—It freezes to my Heart.
Who waits there?
Gently bear me to my Couch.
Nature's beſt Joys—my Child—is loſt for ever—
I am no more a Father—poor EUGENIA—
[He is led off.
EUGENIA, running to him.
Away. Not your officious Cares—
Permit me, Sir, (ſure 'tis no great Requeſt)
To wait upon his Griefs; to mix my Weeping;
To ſoften his Affliction, or to ſhare,
Unhappy as I am, the Woes I've caus'd.
And who could bear to ſee the ſoft EUGENIA
Bending to every menial, ſervile Office,
That tends a ſick Man's Couch? And yet it ſhews
A juſt and humble Senſe of your Condition.
Whence I preſume, your better Thoughts repent
Of this perverſe Diſcovery.
What I have loſt, Alliance, Titles, Fortune,
Were not by Merit mine, meer caſual Bleſſings,
Nor by my Crimes are loſt. One dreaded Evil,
Thanks to my Fate, you know I have eſcap'd.
Even inſolent in Ruin! Such the Precepts,
That form'd your Infant Heart. Now let th' Example
Of your illuſtrious Mother teach her Daughter,
The Charm of Words, the ſentimental Language,
Whoſe Spirit can ſupport Contempt and Poverty.
For me reproach'd? For me are you inſulted?
Shall my firſt Hour of Life, for ſuch it is,
Open with Shame and Outrage to my Mother?
O young to Life, unknowing of the Wrongs,
The cruel Mockeries, Reproach, and Inſult,
That Poverty muſt fuffer. Yet I know not,
Whether my Heart exulting in thy Virtues—
Is it ſome ſecret Inſtinct, that high Heaven,
Which thus reſtores you by this Act of Wonder,
Reſerves you for its own good Purpoſes?
Or is it Nature's Voice, that inward whiſpers me,
My Child ſhall ſtill be happy?
I am loſt,
Beyond all Hope, in all Things, but your Love.
No, let us fly from this injurious World,
From its Ill-nature, Inſolence, Compaſſion—
And from its Love, EUGENIA?
Yes, good Madam,
Even from its Love. A Convent's Gloom ſhall hide us
From every Paſſion that diſtracts the Heart,
And triumphs o'er its Virtues. There ſometimes
To talk of our Misfortunes; of my Father—
Spare me, EUGENIA; at that much-lov'd Name
A thouſand ſad Remembrances ariſe
That I was once moſt happy. Such a Father!
By Honour form'd to Greatneſs, and by Nature
Bleſs'd with each ſofter Sentiment of Soul,
That humaniſes Virtue. Such the Huſband,
My widow'd Tears lament.
Is he then dead?
In ſome ſad Hour hereafter,
You ſhall be told with what unſhaken Spirit
He ſacrific'd his Fortune to his Honour.
That Honour is your Portion. 'Tis a Treaſure,
Purchas'd by honeſt Arts, in Time of Peace,
And, midſt the Spoils of War, the nobleſt Wreath,
That crowns a Soldier's Brow. It is a Truſt,
Bequeath'd you by a noble Line of Anceſtors,
Who ſhall again demand it, pure, unſullied,
And bright in its own Luſtre. Even your Father
Is preſent—in his Virtues—to demand it.
And he ſhall find it, Madam, in my Heart,
In every Vein, in every Thought ſhall find it.
I doubt it not. But ſee the Proof.
EUGENIA, ſeeing CLERVAL.
It is, indeed, a Trial of my Heart,
But not its Weakneſs, Madam.
You muſt not meet.
Fate, Honour, Love declares,
We ne'er muſt meet again.
Saw you my Brother, Madam?
Not lately, Sir.
I ſearch for him in vain.
Yet, I will know each Circumſtance—
But, Madam, you can tell my Heart's Impatience,
How does the poor EUGENIA bear her Fate?
As one, who feels it, Sir, moſt ſenſibly,
Yet is not quite dejected.
Retiring to a Convent?
Has ſhe, Sir,
And you attend her there?
You cannot doubt it, Sir.
I do not, Madam.
I know your Goodneſs, and you always lov'd her.
How will it comfort the unhappy Mourner,
To have your Friendſhip near her! Thus employ'd
You can't attend the neceſſary Cares
For your Retirement. Let it be my Office—
Your Office, Sir!
You do not doubt my Zeal.
This Warmth to ſuccour the Unfortunate
Would do much Honour, Sir, to your Humanity,
But, Sir, you love EUGENIA—
Yes, with a Paſſion of ſuch holy Sort—
But I perceive her Delicacy, Madam,
Has taken the Alarm. Then hear me promiſe,
By every Power that guides our Hearts' Affections,
I will not ſee her, till with your Conſent,
I offer her my Hand, my Heart, my Fortune.
Marry EUGENIA, Sir?
Yes, marry her.
The choſen of my Heart, my Senſe, my Judgment.
I know the feeble Reaſons that oppoſe me.
Her Birth, her Parents yet unknown, her Poverty;
Is ſhe not rich in Virtue? Or look round
Among the titled Great-Ones of the World,
Do they not ſpring from ſome proud Monarch's Flatterer,
Some favourite Miſtreſs, or ambitious Miniſter,
The Ruin of his Country, while their Blood
Rolls down thro' many a Fool, thro' many a Villain,
To it now proud Poſſeſſors?
Dare you, Sir,
In bold Defiance of the World, profeſs
Such Sentiments as theſe? How will you bluſh
If poor EUGENIA's Birth—
My Soul is fix'd.
And, in the Preſence of all-ſeeing Heaven,
Here, Madam, in EUGENIA's Name, receive
My plighted Vows, my Honour's holy Promiſe.
I do. Nay more; in my own Right receive them.
EUGENIA is my Daughter.
How loſt, or how reſtor'd? What Ways of Wonder!
But wherefore do I aſk? Be mine t'enjoy
The Wonder that reſtores her; to repeat
My Vows of Love, my Promiſes of Truth.
I muſt not hear ſuch Vows. Your Promiſe too,
In unadvis'd and warmer Tranſport given,
I render back again.
You cannot, Madam;
'Tis regiſtred in Heaven. The Saints have heard it.
Oh! Madam, yet accept my Services,
Let me be honour'd with your Confidence,
And give me Time to merit your Eſteem.
Be this a Proof, how highly I eſteem,
How truly honour you, that I can truſt you
To find out a Retirement proper for us,
And to provide ſome prudent, faithful Friend,
(Since Decency forbids your going with us)
In whom we may confide.
My Diligence ſhall prove,
How gladly I accept th' obliging Truſt.
I ſhall expect you, Sir.
On th' Inſtant, Madam;
Swift as the Rapture of a Lover's Hope.
Now for a Moment's Thinking, to recover
My agitated Spirits. Wherefore think?
Vain is all human Thought, all human Aid.
Come then, Religion, holy, heaven-born Maid,
Thou ſureſt Refuge in our Day of Trouble,
To thy great Guidance, to thy ſtrong Protection,
I give my Child—Oh! hear a Mother's Prayer—
Guide thou her Heart in thy own ſacred Ways,
And keep thine ever-open Eye upon her,
That ſhe be greatly worthy to inherit
Her Father's Name and Honours. Gracious Heaven,
Behold her yet untainted Innocence,
And Oh! reſtore whom Thou and ſacred Nature
Have made her Guide, her Guardian, and Protector,
In Youth's unguarded Paths. Oh! Save her, Heaven.
5. ACT V.
WHAT is the Meaning, CLERVAL, you muſt know,
My Uncle will not ſee me? What's my Crime?
Who my Accuſers? This his boaſted Firmneſs
Where he profeſs'd to love? Theſe light Suſpicions?
Unheard to be condemn'd? Is this his Juſtice?
Whate'er it be, I would not have you meet
His firſt Diſpleaſure; even in Pity to him;
For he has Griefs, without one added Sigh,
To ſink his Age for ever.
How! not vindicate
My Innocence? Not tell him he has wrong'd me?
Let me not think that CLERVAL means me falſely.
I mean you falſely!
By this Advice it ſeems ſo.
A Brother, jealous of a Brother's Honour,
Sure would not thus adviſe him; would himſelf
Believe him innocent.
In this diſtemper'd Warmth it were not ſafe
To hear, or anſwer you.
Yet tell me, CLERVAL,
How I've offended? Is it then a Crime
To keep a painful Secret from his Heart,
And bend my ſwelling Spirit, for his Sake,
To wed this foundling Girl?
O Patience, Heaven!
To taint our Blood, which has thro' Ages flow'd
Unmixt and pure; to ſtain it with Diſhonour.
Can Virtue ſtain it?
Yes, the vulgar Virtue,
Which low-born Spirits practiſe. This ORPHISA—
This Governeſs—and well ſhe fill'd her Station,
For ſhe was equal to it—Say, what Virtues
Can take their Riſe from her? Is the Source foul,
And can the Stream be pure? But you're a Lover,
And Love can change th' unerring Courſe of Nature.
And yet, till this unhappy Morn, your Heart,
Your Tongue, at leaſt, confeſs'd EUGENIA's Merit.
Like me, you ſaw her with a Lover's Eye.
But the perverſe and haughty Maid, it ſeems,
From ſome unnatural Spirit, with Contempt
Look'd down on MERCOUR's Greatneſs.
Look'd down upon me?
No; with th' inborn Pride,
And Dignity of Virtue.
Leſt, in my Rage—I ſee who 'tis ſupports
Her Inſolence—Contempt! I may forget
That Nature made us Brothers.
Raſh, light Man.
Ruin like yours is privileg'd to rail,
And when it raves, tho' impotent of Harm,
Prudence will ſhun its Walks, or hear regardleſs,
Nor anſwer to its Frenzy.
Yet, my Soul,
Suppreſs thy Rage: make ſure of your Revenge,
Then burſt in Horrors on them. Ha! My Uncle!
So, Sir; it ſeems you will be juſtified,
And with the Front of Innocence demand it.
But I am ill at Eaſe to hear th' Harangues
Of practis'd Art.
I'll not diſturb your Quiet.
And Heaven, I doubt not, in its own good Time,
Will clear my injur'd Name.—May all its Bleſſings
Pour'd with abundant Hand, dwell ever round you.
[Pretending to go.
Who would not think him innocent! Stay, MERCOUR.
You will be heard? Will vindicate your Honour?
I know not, Sir, of what I am accus'd;
How l've offended. If it was a Crime,
That, in Obedience to the ſacred Will
Of her who is no more; or that, in Juſtice
To her repentant Sorrows, I diſcover'd
This guilty Secret, yet remember, Sir,
How long did I conceal it? Why conceal it,
But for your Peace of Mind? Or may I own,
In pity—No—I'll own the ſofter Motive—
In love to poor EUGENIA.
She was the firſt, the only of her Sex,
Who ever fill'd my Heart with Hopes, with Wiſhes.
From thence, unpractis'd in the Lovers' Arts,
(Whoſe Boſoms beat with Paſſions, which they feel not)
I told, with Nature's pure Simplicity,
My artleſs Tale. She heard me with Diſdain.
While I, to Reaſon loſt, in my Impatience,
In Impotence of Rage, and mad Revenge,
Gave Way to my Reſentment, and with Threats—
—I know not what—but I am puniſh'd for it—
Deteſted, hated, ſcorn'd—yet ſtill I love.
My poor undone AEMILIA! How could Innocence,
Like thine, eſcape the Snares of this bad Man!
Yes, AEMILIA; Hadſt thou heard
(But thou haſt loſt all Feelings of Humanity)
The generous Maid, amidſt her Soul's Deſpair,
Amidſt the Shame and Bluſhes of her Frailty,
Tell the black Story of her own undoing
To ſave EUGENIA from thy Baſeneſs. Heavens!
Is't poſſible! How would he talk of Virtue—
Angels might liſten to him with Delight.
O Hypocrite, thy Boldneſs ſtrikes at Heaven,
And makes its fervid Saints appear Impoſtors.
Curſe on my Folly, that could riſque my Fortune
Upon the wayward Spirit of a Girl.
Be it one Pang to ſuch a Heart, as thine,
To know that ſhe is happy; reconcil'd
To her ſweet Peace of Mind, by holy Vows,
That conſecrate her future Life to Heaven,
A Siſter of the Saints. Oh! could your Heart
Repent the Crimes, the Horrours, it was forming,
That Heaven may pardon you. 'Till then let Shame,
Let Rage, Deſpair, your diſappointed Schemes,
And Poverty, which, worſe than Death, you dread,
Be long your Puniſhment.
Welcome my Fate,
With all its Horrours, welcome; even with Poverty.
Repentance—no—my haughty Soul diſclaims it.
Your Goodneſs—Weakneſs—might, perhaps, forgive me.
I will not be forgiven—will not bend
To the upbraiding Inſolence of Pardon.
Let me have any Torment, but your Pity.
And ſince we part for ever, I'll no longer
Diſſemble or diſguiſe me. I'm, by Nature,
What you call Villain. I'll enjoy the Title;
Enjoy that ardent Spirit, which can riſe
Above the Terrours, form'd for lower Beings,
The ſenſeleſs Fears, that awe the Fools of Virtue.
Where are thy Terrours, Conſcience? Where thy Juſtice?
That this bad Man dare boldly own his Crimes,
Inſult thy ſacred Power, and glory in it.
But 'tis the Frenzy of Deſpair, and Heaven
Shall yet o'ertake him in his Hours of Thinking.
How fares the lovely Mourner?
In Tears; but with ſuch Dignity of Sorrow—
Sir, ſhe implores you, by each tender Thought,
Which melts the Goodneſs of our Hearts to Pity,
That ſhe may throw her at your Feet, and take
A laſt, ſad, parting Bleſſing from her Father.
I am a weak, old Man, by Years enfeebled,
By theſe Misfortunes more. If, at this Diſtance,
The Thought of parting with her wound my Life,
Oh! how ſhall I divide my Soul from hers,
When mixt in nearer Sorrows! How I dread
This cruel, tender Parting! But I muſt
Yes, I will ſee her—'tis her Fate and mine.
[Aſide, ſeeing EUGENIA.
How, thro' her Tears, with pale and trembling Radiance;
The Eye of Beauty ſhines, and lights her Sorrows!
As riſes o'er the Storm ſome ſilver Star,
The Seaman's Hope, and Promiſe of his Safety.
Enter EUGENIA, ORPHISA.
Receive my laſt Farewell; my Friend, my Father,
And with it every tendereſt Sentiment
Of filial Love, of Gratitude, and Duty.
I never ſhall forget I was your Daughter,
Nor ſhall you bluſh, that you were once my Father.
Child of my Love; my ſole Delight and Joy,
Think not my Heart unfeeling of thy Loſs;
For ſtill you hold a boſom'd Intereſt here.
You live among the ſofteſt Feelings here—
Nature has none, more exquiſitely tender.
Now Pity, Love, and Grief, unite your Powers;
Let them not part—make it impoſſible.
DORIMOND, to ORPHISA.
ORPHISA, I have wrong'd you. Pray, forgive me.
Suſpicion is the Frailty of old Age.
The Weakneſs of my Heart—
No, Sir, its Goodneſs,
Its unſuſpecting Confidence deceiv'd you.
How noble, Sir, how generous!
To make you ſome Amends for ſuch an Inſult,
Take, to your Care, my lov'd, my dear EUGENIA,
My Daughter and your own.
Your Daughter, Sir!
The Daughter of my Choice; of my Eſteem;
If not by Nature, yet by Law, my Daughter.
EUGENIA, I adopt you. Enter, Child,
Into your Rights; nay, more; here take Poſſeſſion
Of a fond Father's Love.
The tender Treaſure!
My grateful Heart pours forth its beſt Affections,
Thro' every Vein, to meet and to receive—
Oh! may I, Sir, deſerve it. Thus reſtor'd
To all the ſacred Charities of Nature,
Of Father, Mother, Child, where ſhall my Wonder,
Where ſhall my Joy begin—Oh! where my Gratitude!
CLERVAL, turning to DORIMOND, with great Agitation.
While your full Hand is dealing Bleſſings round you,
Oh! bleſs me too, my Uncle. Give my Soul
Its only Wiſh of Happineſs hereafter.
Whence are theſe Tranſports!
Was it poſſible,
Converſing with her Lovelineſs, and gazing
On Beauty's perfect Form to gaze uncharm'd?
Form'd as ye are to make each other happy,
How ſhall I joy to ſee your Loves united!
Here, Madam, join with mine a Mother's Bleſſing,
And make my Nephew happy.
And, if I judge aright, a kind Conſenting
Kindles its Bluſhes on EUGENIA's Cheek.
What Language can refuſe this offer'd Bounty,
Yet ſpeak me not ungrateful. There were Days,
The happieſt of my Life, when to have ſeen
My Daughter wedded to your Nephew's Merit,
Had been my higheſt Pride. But now my Fate
Permits me to receive, of all your Goodneſs,
Only that promis'd, kind Retreat.
At ſuch a Time, and in ſuch Circumſtances!
Fal'n from my Wiſhes' Height, a Lover's Hope,
When I had rais'd Imagination high—
ORPHISA to CLERVAL.
Sir, you may break my Heart, not bend its Purpoſe.
I will not offer you a uſeleſs Pity,
And more I cannot give.
[turning to DORIMOND.
Sir, if I've robb'd
My Child of Riches, Titles, Friends, Alliance,
(Oh! judge me in the Goodneſs of your Heart)
Muſt there not be ſome Cauſe, ſome wond'rous Motive?
Indeed 'tis Wonder all.
I own your Goodneſs
Deſerves much more than mere Acknowledgment;
Demands my utmoſt Confidence, as far
As Duty will permit me. Can I, Sir,
Diſpoſe of her in Marriage? Is ſhe mine?—
Not mine alone. Or can I violate
A Father's Right to give away his Child?
My Father living!
Yes, he lives, EUGENIA,
And the ſweet Hope comes ſmiling to my Heart,
That Heaven, whoſe Mercy thus reſtores my Child,
Will give him to my Vows, my Tears, my Hopes—
To my Deſpair, will give him.
Where, where is he?
Oh! teach my Love, my Piety to find him.
Where-e'er he is, ye Heavenly Hoſt protect him.
Ye Angels, ye, who with Delight behold him
In your own Likeneſs form'd, in perfect Goodneſs;
And ye, our miniſtring Spirits here on Earth,
Honour and Virtue, ſtrongly hover round him,
For where he is ye dwell. Oh! pardon me
This Rapture of involuntary Praiſe.
DELVILLE behind the Scenes.
Come, CLERVAL, come; direct me, guide me to her,
The ſweet Support, and Hope, of my Misfortunes.
Ye Powers, what Voice was there!
CLERVAL to DORIMOND.
That noble Friend,
Of whoſe Misfortunes, Sir—
All gracious Providence
That giv'ſt to Things unreal ſuch ſtrong Seemings,
Still, ſtill continue the belov'd Illuſion—
It is too ſtrong a Joy to bear, and live.
'Tis ſhe; 'tis ſhe; her Heart confeſſes me.
Thanks to our Woes, this firſt Embrace is theirs,
[Catching her in his Arms.
And I'll enjoy their Bounty. See, my CLERVAL,
Like a kind Maſter, abſent long from home,
The Soul with Smiles returns to its fair Dwelling;
Flows through the purple Chambers of the Heart,
Where Life reſides, to ſee that all is well,
And wakes her kindling Beauties to their Luſtre.
Lord of my Life; then Heaven declares its Power
In doing Acts of Mercy. How the Joys,
That ſhould, for Years, have fill'd the Arms of Love,
Collected, pour their Tranſports on my Heart.
Unutterable Bliſs! Come, my EUGENIA,
Here pay the Duty, that a Father claims.
Accept it, Sir, in Tears of Love and Rapture.
EUGENIA mine! my Daughter! This the Offspring,
Thus wondrous fair, of our unhappy Loves,
Thus excellent, thus amiable in Virtue?
What can a Father's Fondnefs Wiſh you more,
Than to continue what you are? O CLERVAL,
Thou excellent young Man, to whom I owe
My Friends, my Country, and my Sovereign's Favour,
And theſe more heart-felt Bleſſings, Love and Nature,
What Gratitude can thank you?
[Turning to ORPHISA and EUGENIA.
If to be
A willing Inſtrument of Providence
Deſerve your Thanks—
Let me, my Lord, aſſiſt
His ſpeechleſs Wiſhes.
Sir, I underſtand them.
Come, my EUGENIA, you ſhall pay him for me,
Such Thanks as he deſerves; for I have prov'd it
That Woman, [pointing to ORPHISA] tender, amiable, and conſtant,
Is Virtue's beſt Reward.
Bleſt to my Wiſh,
Beyond my warmeſt Hope—EUGENIA's mine.
And mine, without a Bluſh, to own my Happineſs.
DELVILLE to DORIMOND.
But, Sir, to you, the guardian Friend of Innocence
(For here ſhe dwells, and DORIMOND protects her)
What Thanks are due?
This Guſh of Joy, theſe Tears
This Rapture, that o'erflows my Heart, let them,
For they alone can tell you, how I feel
This Hour of Happineſs— [embracing EUGENIA.] Once more, my child,
Indulge an old Man's Love, whoſe Weakneſs thus
Pours his Heart's Bleſſings on thee.
Thus I meet
With equal, grateful Joy, the tender Tranſport.
Here let us pauſe; with humble Adoration
Behold the Maze, thro' which th' eternal Mercy
Hath guided us to Happineſs. ORPHISA,
When for my Crime—Oh! could no other Puniſhment
Attone its Guilt!—The Law, with rigorous Hand,
Turn'd out thy Softneſs to Deſpair and Anguiſh—
Nobly ſhe ſcorn'd to bend her Dignity,
And your great Name, to the World's proud Compaſſion.
Then choſe this humble Station; this Retreat—
And you, my generous Youth, whoſe Love of Virtue
Woo'd my EUGENIA's Beauties, even in Ruin—
A Father's Thanks are thine.
Not mine, my Lord.
Give them to her, who taught me how to love;
All Praiſe was made for her; all Joy and Tranſport.
Praiſe is the ſacred Attribute of Heaven.
'Tis ours alone, with humble, grateful Hearts
T' employ the gracious Inſtincts it beſtows
To our own Honour, Happineſs and Virtue;
For Happineſs and Virtue are the ſame.