Brand, Hannah, 1754-1821. Plays and poems: by Miss Hannah Brand. Norwich: printed by Beatniffe and Payne; and sold by Messrs. F. and C. Rivington; and Messrs. Elmsley and Bremner, London, 1798. xv,,424p.; 8⁰. (ESTC T42452; OTA K041482.000)
- PLAYS, AND POEMS; BY MISS HANNAH BRAND.
- TO MISS BRAND,
- MISS Ablitt, Butley, Suffolk
- John Addey, Esq. Norwich, deceased
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- Introduction .... Page 1
- Huniades; or, The Siege of Belgrade .... Page 11
- The Conflict; or Love, Honour, and Pride .** Altered from D. Sanche d'Aragon, by P. Corneille.... Page 147
- Adelinda .†† Altered from La Force du Naturel, by Destouches.... Page 251
- Valentine .... Page 379
- Introduction .... Page 381
- The Monk of La Trappe .... Page 386
- Ode to Youth .... Page 416
- Imitation of the French Hymn of Monsieur Des Barreaux .... Page 418
- Ode to Adversity .... Page 419
- Prayer to the Parcoe .... Page 422
- JOHN CORVIN HUNIADES; Regent of Hungary, Vaywode of Transilvania, Guardian to the Princess Agmunda, and General of the King's Forces.
- NICHOLAS VILACH; the Friend of Huniades.
- LADISLAUS CORVINUS; The eldest Son of the Regent Huniades, his Lieutenant General, and Deputy Governor of Transylvania.
- ULRICK, COUNT OF CILLEY; (Great Uncle to Ladislaus, King of Hungary and Bohemia, and Duke of Austria,) appointed by the States Regent of Austria, and Guardian to the King during his minority.
- RODOLPHO; the Confident of Count Cilley.
- CAMPESTRAN; a Franciscan Monk.
- MICHAEL ZILUGO; Governor of Belgrade, and President of the Council.
- First Lord. Old Officer. Herald.
- Lords of the Council, Officers, Soldiers, People, Guards.
- AGMUNDA; Daughter to the late Emperor Albert, and Sister to the young King Ladislaus.
- ELLA; an Attendant on the Princess Agmunda.
- MAHOMET II. Emperor of the Turks.
- MUSTAPHA; his Minister and Favourite.
- CHUSANES; the General of the Turkish Forces.
- ZOGANUS; a Bashaw, Ambassador to the Hungarians.
- Bashaws, Agas, Janizaries, Guards, Mutes, &c.
- Grandees of Castile.
- DON MANRIQUE; Count of Lara.
- DON LOPEZ; Count of Guzman.
- DON ALVAREZ; Count of Lunon.
- DON RAYMOND; Count of Moncade.
- DONNA ISABELLA; Queen of Castile.
- DONNA LEONORA; Queen Dowager of Arragon.
- DONNA ELVIRA; Princess of Arragon.
- Grandees, Officers of the Court, Guards, &c.
- THE MARQUIS D'OLSTAIN.
- THE COUNT D'OLSTAIN.
- THE MARCHIONESS D'OLSTAIN.
- ADELINDA D'OLSTAIN.
- DORCAS. — FLORA.
PLAYS, AND POEMS; BY MISS HANNAH BRAND.
Norwich: PRINTED BY BEATNIFFE AND PAYNE; And sold by Messrs. F. and C. Rivington, St. Paul's Church-yard; and Messrs. Elmsley and Bremner, in the Strand, London. 1798. Entered at Stationer's Hall.
TO MISS BRAND,
THE FOLLOWING PAGES ARE RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED, As a Small, But sincere Memorial, OF THE ESTEEM AND REGARD OF HER FAITHFUL FRIEND, AND MOST AFFECTIONATE SISTER, Hannah Brand.
Page 4, line 22, for Uladislous, read Ladislaus. 200, 15, for D. Elvira, read D. Isabella 385, 10, for Almorer, read Almoner.
HUNIADES; OR, THE SIEGE OF BELGRADE: A Tragedy.
SIGISMOND, the son of the Emperor Charles IV. was elected King of Hungary 1386, and Emperor of Germany 1410. His first wife, Mary, being dead, he espoused, about the year 1414, Barbara, the daughter of Hernan, Count of Cilley. Sigismond made the Counts of Cilley independent Princes of the Empire; and called them to the Diets, without the consent of the House of Austria, their supreme Lords, who, unwilling to emancipate the County from its dependance upon them, declared war against the Count in possession. By Barbara, Sigismond had only one child, a daughter, named Elizabeth. Sigismond died 1437.
Albert V. Duke of Austria, who had married Elizabeth, Sigismond's daughter, succeeded him in the Empire, and the Kingdom of Hungary. Albert died 1440, leaving two daughters; his Queen Elizabeth was big with child at the time of his death; the child proved a son, and was named Ladislaus.
Upon the death of Albert II. as Emperor, and V. as Duke of Austria, his cousin, Frederick, great grandson of Albert II. Duke of Austria, was immediately elected Emperor.[Page 4]
The Hungarians, almost constantly engaged in war against the Turks, either for the defence of their own country, or of the neighbouring states, deemed an infant Prince and a Queen Regent unequal to the safe government of a kingdom which, by frequent wars, was kept in continual alarm. The crown of Hungary, by the constitution of the kingdom, being elective, (though sometimes possessed in hereditary succession) Uladislaus, the young King of Poland, was chosen King, by the advice of John Corvin Huniades, Earl of Bistrie, whom Uladislaus made Vaywode of Transylvania. Huniades was as celebrated for his virtues as for his valour. He was pious towards God, faithful to his country and his prince, and kind and benevolent to his friends; as a warrior he was politic, of invincible courage, and mostly fortunate: he was the first Christian commander who showed that the Turks might be overcome; and he obtained more victories against them than any one of the Christian Princes before him** Sir William Temple says that, "Huniades was one of the three Worthies who deserved a Crown without wearing one." The reward, merited by the virtues and great talents of the father, was paid to the son; for in 1458, the Hungarians, from their love to Huniades, and grateful remembrance of his long services, chose his son, Matthias Corvinus, for their King..
Elizabeth, unable to prevent this choice, put her son, Uladislaus, under the protection of the Emperor Frederick III. Thus, of Albert's possessions, only Austria, and the kingdom of Bohemia, remained unalienated from his posthumous son, Ladislaus.[Page 5]
In the battle of Varna, 1444, fought between the Turks, commanded by their King, Amurath II. and the Hungarians, led by Huniades, Uladislaus the King of Hungary was slain; Huniades, by whose side he fought, having left him to go and rally the left wing of the Christian army.
The Hungarians now elected Albert's son Ladislaus King; and they chose Huniades, their General, Governor of Hungary during his minority. The Emperor Frederick detaining the infant King in Germany, Huniades, as Governor of Hungary, declared war against him. After a long contest, which the Hungarians were obliged to intermit, on account of their wars against the Turks, the Emperor, not strong enough to defend his dominions from being ravaged by the incursions of the Hungarians, at last in 1452 delivered up their king; then eleven years of age. An assembly was appointed at Vienna, to which the nobles of Hungary and Bohemia were invited. At this assembly it was decreed that, during the minority of Ladislaus, Huniades should govern Hungary; that George Podiebrad should govern Bohemia; and that Ulrick, Count of Cilley, great uncle to the King, should govern Austria, and be guardian of his person.
Count Cilley, envious of the glory of Huniades, excited some parties of Bohemians and Moravians to attack Upper Austria: but they proved unsuccessful when opposed by Huniades. Ambitious of the government of Hungary, Count Cilley accused Huniades, the Governor, to the King; but he justified[Page 6] himself from the accusation. Count Cilley's ambition increasing with the power which he derived from being the King's guardian; he attempted to make himself absolute master of Austria. To effect which, he secured the principal fortresses, by giving them to the command of unprincipled people whom he had attached to his interest; gradually removing Elsinger, and the Austrian nobility, from all offices of importance. This conduct gave great umbrage to the people. Elsinger took advantage of their discontent; and, aided by Huniades, obliged Ulrick to retire to his own territory of Cilley. Thus, by the bravery and conduct of these two warriors, Austria was wrested from Count Cilley's usurpation.
Mahomet II. the seventh King, and the first Emperor of the Turks, who took Constantinople May 29, 1453, which his great grandfather, Bajazet I. and his father Amurath II. had unsuccessfully besieged, marched 1456** New Universal History, vol. XXVI. p. 296, there is a mistake in the date of this Siege of Belgrade, which is there put down A.D. 1459; and in vol. XXXII. p. 149, the date is 1456, which last agrees with other Historians. with an army of 150,000 men to besiege Belgrade, then thought the key to Hungary.
As soon as the report of Mahomet's intention to besiege Belgrade, reached the young King Ladislaus, then fifteen years of age, he fled to the court of the Emperor Frederick; which much displeased his Hungarian subjects, as it had before cost them a long and tedious contest to get him out of the Emperor's power.[Page 7]
Besides his numerous army, of 150,000 men, Mahomet provided a fleet, of 200 ships and gallies, which he sent up the Danube from Viden to Belgrade; to the intent that no relief, or aid, should be brought into the city out of Hungary by the great rivers of the Danube and the Save; upon the confluence of which, the city of Belgrade stands. Not contented with thus closely blockading the city on all sides, Mahomet sent part of his fleet further up the Danube, and landing troops spoiled the country in many places on the banks of the river. On his first coming before Belgrade, he made a fierce assault, but was repulsed: he found the Hungarians ready to receive him, and prepared to skirmish with his troops, without the walls, as well as to defend the city. Mahomet, finding his arms so resolutely opposed, began to proceed more warily; and intrenched his army. He provided for its safety, against the sudden sallies of the besieged, by casting up deep trenches and strong rampires. After planting his battery, he began to shake the wall of the city most furiously with his great artillery: insomuch that he battered down a part of it level with the ground. But the defendants with great labour and industry speedily repaired it, by casting up new fortifications and rampires, so that it was stronger than before.
Campestran, a Franciscan monk, having at this time preached, in Germany, a crusade against the Turks, had collected an army of 40,000 men. With[Page 8] these, his followers, he entered Belgrade to assist in its defence against Mahomet, who was become the terror of all Christendom by his conquests, his enterprising genius, his capacious mind improved by all the learning of the age, his indefatigable industry in the pursuit of whatever he undertook, his irresistible courage, his insatiable cruelty, his avowed impiety, his blood-thirstiness, his immeasurable ambition, his impious treachery, and his unrelenting flinty-hearted severity; so that against his ambition there was no mound, on his faith or friendship no dependance, and in his least displeasure death.
Huniades, who was gone to Upper Hungary, to raise supplies, was expected to sail from Buda, with a fleet of ships and gallies stored with warlike provisions; when Mahomet, having been a month before Belgrade, prepared to give a general assault, although his superstitious troops were much dispirited from the appearance of two comets** D'Ohsson's Hist. Gen. of the Othoman Empire, vol. 1. p. 539.; and the death of Carazius the Lieutenant-General, who was killed by a canon-shot from the city; which circumstances they considered as prognosticks of ill success. At this time, A. D. 1456, August 5, the fleet of Huniades came in sight, and was met by Mahomet's fleet four miles up the Danube beyond Belgrade.
Scene THE CITY OF BELGRADE, AND THE SULTAN'S TENT BEFORE IT.
Era A.D. 1456: Time — from the Noon of the 5th of August to Sun-rising, August 6th.
In the representation, many passages were left out: they are not however distinguished; as they will easily be perceived by persons acquainted with the nature of stage effect.
HUNIADES; OR, THE SIEGE OF BELGRADE.Act First.
SCENE FIRST — A HALL OF STATE.
This alludes to the fate of the Sultaness Irene. Mahomet, being told that the Janizaries, and the great officers murmured, that he spent•o much time in her company, and were ready to revolt, assembled the Divan, and brought Irene before them; and after severely reproaching them for daring to murmer at his attachment to her, he, to shew them that he was master over his affections, twisted his hand in her hair which hung flowing over her shoulders, and with one blow of his scimitar struck off her head, to the horror and surprise of all present.
SCENE FIRST — A CHURCH.
SCENE FIRST — THE CHURCH.
SCENE FIRST — THE TENT OF MAHOMET.
SCENE FIRST — THE SULTAN'S TENT.
This was Mahomet's manner of expressing rage, grief, or disappointment. And, when under the influence of his rage, he never thought of his own personal safety. Once seeing his Admiral going to strike to a Genoese ship, he spurred his horse so far into the sea, that he narrowly escaped being drowned.
After this siege of Belgrade, no one dared to mention that city in his presence; and he never mentioned it himself without expressions of grief.
THE CONFLICT; OR, LOVE, HONOUR, AND PRIDE: A HEROIC COMEDY.
SCENE — VALLADOLID.
THE CONFLICT; OR, LOVE, HONOUR, AND PRIDE.Act First.
SCENE FIRST — The Antichamber to the Queen of Castile's Presence-Chamber, to which it opens by the Scene's dividing.
SCENE FIRST — A ROOM OF STATE.
ADELINDA; A COMEDY.
SCENE — PARIS.
SCENE FIRST — A GARDEN.
OH, plague take it! Flora is coming this way. Well, I have had the good luck of a clear coast once to day; and so now I must compound for a little vexation and disappointment. —
What is in the wind now? What do you want?
Mademoiselle Adelinda! I have been looking for you all over the house and gardens, this long while.[Page 252]
Well then, long-looked-for is found at last. —
Lord, Mademoiselle! what can you be always in this garden for?
For? — Fresh air; and the dear comfort of being alone, and in peace and quiet.
You were not formerly so fond of the garden; nor so desirous of being alone. What amusement can you find here, by yourself?
Amusement? — I dance Rigadoons, and study the Stars.
Study the Stars! at high noon day?
Oh yes! I can read enough in them now to tell you your fortune.
I did not know, that amongst your other very rare qualifications, that fortune-telling was to be reckoned.
Oh! I will give you an instant proof of that — Shew me your hand —
you are in love with a man, who is much younger than yourself: — he has slighted all your advances; — but you have still hopes. —
How came this into the little serpent's head? —
Keep your eyes fixed upon mine, Flora! — Let me see — what your face says. — Why you are a great mischief maker; — a plotter; — very curious; — malicious; — and, — as I am alive, given to thieving —
And you, Mademoiselle! are[Page 253] given to be vulgar and rude to every body. You are born to disgrace your birth and high rank, and your noble parents. And I tell you, without the help of the stars, that it will be your fortune, to be sent back once more to your Convent: — and for life too this time. — For I heard my Lord swear by St. Dennis that you should be a Nun. So, Mademoiselle! unless you mend your manners and alter you conduct, your fate will be, to wear the Veil, — eat Soup meager, sleep in a Dormitory, and do Pennance for the remainder of your days. —
Bravo, Flora! — A word in your ear.
The next time my Mother lectures me, you shall be turn'd out neck and heels. — You are by nature sufficiently impertinent without the aid of any of the Marchioness's eloquence. Besides you select only the dregs of it; and you deliver her sermons with as ill a grace as you wear her cast-off gowns.
'T is not what the Marchioness alone says, that I repeat — every body speaks thus of you, and unless —
— You can grow young again, this pretty Youth, on whom you have set your heart, will leave you to hang yourself upon yon willow.
My Lady has waited in her dressing-room this hour for you: — she sent me to look for you. —
Very well! Go you and tell my Mother that I am coming. —[Page 254]
I wait to attend you to her —
But I do not chuse your attendance; so march without me.
No, Mademoiselle! I shall wait your leisure here.
And so you will not go without me?
No, Mademoiselle! I promise you, that I shall not move from this spot, but to follow you.
Well then, Flora! I find, that I must make you my confident.
Ah, Mademoiselle! I suspected that you had other amusements in this garden, besides stargazing and dancing Rigadoons. 'T is well you are willing to tell me; for I was bent upon finding out why you are grown so astonishingly fond of solitude.
I have had a hundred times a mind to trust you, Flora! for I have been in constant fear of your great penetration. — Why you must know then that, through great charity, I keep a whole family here — Father — Mother — Children; and I come every morning, noon, and night, to feed them.
Lord, Mademoiselle! How do these beggars get into the Garden to be fed by you?
They live here constantly, and this is their eldest Child. See
what a fine large black Spider it is.
O pray, Mademoiselle! — Oh, dear! Oh, dear —[Page 255]
Now decamp without me; or I'll fetch the whole family. —
If you do I shall faint — or go into fits —
Faint, ha! ha! ha! —
Indeed, Mademoiselle! I shall faint unless you throw it away.
Then I shall be obliged to let it crawl upon your face, till you have done fainting: for I have no sal volatile, nor eau de luce to recover you. So faint, or go, whichsoever you please instantly.
A perverse little devil! — What mischief is in her wild head now I wonder.
So I am rid of this Argus. —
But here comes my Mother — Well! out of the frying pan into the fire. — Heigh ho! — I must endure it: I cannot frighten her away.
Why, Adelinda! when I sent last night to entreat you to spend this morning in my[Page 256] dressing-room, would you not oblige me? — You may one day perhaps experience the pang which a mother feels, when she begs in vain, for a proof of kindness, and common civility, from her Child.
Lord, Madam! I thought my father would be there; and I was so wearied out, last night, with hearing of my ungrateful, rebellious conduct, of my incorrigible vulgarity, of my want of taste and judgment; and of what a disgrace I am to his name and blood; that I was truly glad to escape from his passionate exclamations, which gall and irritate me so, that I am forced to say things which he does not like. —
Adelinda! you must take care how you provoke your Father: you made him so very angry last night that I trembled for you.
Yes, there was reason to tremble. I expect that he will give me a good beating in one of his passions: for, sure, never was mortal in such a rage, as he was in with me, last night. It is very unfortunate for me, that I have either eyes, understanding, or the use of speech: since I can neither look, think, nor speak, without putting my father into a most horrible pucker.
It was impossible to forbear from being angry with you last night. I assure you, that I should have joined in resenting your behaviour, but your father's severe determination, after he had commanded you from his presence, terrified me to death; and I forgot my own displeasure against you, in my[Page 257] sorrow at the punishment which your father swore to inflict upon you: and, but for my interposition, he would this day have sent you back to your Convent.
What! to make a Nun of me?
I fear so. —
Merciful stars! I did not think that he had been in such a wicked passion as that came to neither. — And all for my telling him an unwelcome truth. I fear and esteem my father; but he has never taught me to love him. He is justice herself, he holds the scales with a steady hand, and wields the sword with unrelenting rigour; — except when he is himself the culprit. But thanks to you, Madam! for interposing, so that he has broken the Oath; 't was rashly made; and not fit to be kept: but in his next passion, he will again swear, and as easily break the vow.
I hope, for your own sake, that you will not make the experiment; for, however willing I may be to sue for your peace, I may lose my influence: for your Mother, Adelinda! could not, last night, obtain your pardon till she knelt for it at your father's feet.
O, my dear Mother! what do I not owe to your patience and your goodness? — But 't is all, all, in vain; for I was born to disgrace and grieve you. Yet do not hate, — do not curse me! —
Horrid thought! — no more of this; we will not awaken humiliating sensations. — Let the future redeem the past. — I have promis'd for[Page 258] you, that you will change your conduct. That you will behave with more duty and attention to your Father; and that you will treat your Cousin more properly.
Oh! that Cousin of mine is as plagueful as a Ghost in a haunted house; I am never at quiet for him: I am always engaged, either in a quarrel with himself; or with my father about him. I wish that the Chaplain would exorcise him for an evil spirit; and confine him to the bottom of the Red Sea for nine hundred and ninety-nine years. I am sure that I would never light the end of candle that should release him.
I am astonished that neither his birth, his rank, nor his accomplishments, procure him respect, or even common civility, from you, and yet you are much indebted to his generous disinterestedness. — Your Father has offered, if you will not change your conduct, to settle his whole fortune upon him: but he most nobly rejected it, declaring that he would never enjoy what he considered as your birthright, unless you shared it with him. He laments, yet always lessens, your imperfections. — And he avers, that notwithstanding your foibles, that both in heart and mind you are capable of great things.
He sticks to his text I find; for he always begins his sermons by telling me what fine things I could do, if I would but give my soul elbow room. Yet I suspect he treats me with the oil of fool, alias flattery, only for the ostentation of displaying[Page 259] his own sagacity, whilst I question his seeing further into a millstone than other people.
Adelinda! be serious, and give me your attention. — If your father's intentions be not altered, by his last night's anger, you will you know be very shortly your Cousin's Wife; even within a few days. Therefore, my dear Child! this is the crisis of your fate; and I am trembling for your future happiness, with all the anxiety of a Mother, who sees the rock, upon which your heedless youth will drive, to its assured destruction.
Alas! Madam, I cannot new make myself, either to shew my gratitude to you, or my obedience to my Lordly Father. He might as well quarrel with his pack of hounds, because they have not flowing manes like his coach-horses, as with me for not being a fine lady. — And when all is said and done, for my share, I do not perceive what there is so outrageously amiss in me, to make all this constant havock about.
That you have good qualities every body allows — But your bluntness, your rudeness of speech, your intractable temper, your churlish manners, your inflexible obstinate humour, disgrace the nobleness of your birth, and disgust every one who lives, or converses, with you. And, indeed, unless you correct your untoward disposition, you cannot expect to live on comfortable and pleasant terms with the Count, when the lover will be lost in the husband. And would you not wish to be considered as your[Page 260] husband's first friend, and favourite companion. Could you like to live neglected, despised, forgotten?
No, faith! I do not say that neither.
Then, for your own sake, determine to polish your manners, and soften the ruggedness of your temper.
There is so much wanting to be done, Madam! to make me what you with, that I shall never have the heart even to begin. I might toil up a high hill, but, alas! I am quite hopeless of walking up the outside of a church steeple; — indeed, Madam! my reformation is a moral impossibility; and you always paint me so much of a Black-a-moor, that I am sure 't is labour in vain to attempt to wash me white.
No, my dear Child! it is not; if you would but once resolve to constrain your temper: — make the effort at least. — Reflect seriously upon the consequence of your first steps in life; they will stamp your character with the world: and have you no wish to be admired?
Oh, no! there is more cost than worship in it; — to gain your sort of admiration, I must be constantly in the pillory — and for what? — why only the hopes of a mouthful of moon-shine.
But, surely, you would at least wish to be esteemed?
Esteemed? yes! I cannot live in any comfort without that: esteem is requisite to be sure; 't is like the air one breathes, a want, but not a pleasure.[Page 261]
But, Adelinda! even esteem is very reluctantly paid, if not refused, to those whose strange humour, and rude, offensive familiarity, disgust and affront every body. And, if you will persist in retaining your churlishness, and inattention, how will you appear in polished society?
O Lord! Madam! like a carp out of water. The society which delights you, is not my element: and I shall never be any thing in it, but a queer fish gaping and floundering about. For the fine folks, and fine manners, of your polished societies, are my hatred and utter aversion; their maxims would suffocate every natural feeling of my heart, and annihilate every useful property of my understanding; for I must love and hate by a factitious rule and measure; and judge and give my voice, by weights which I know to be false; the fastidious drams and scruples, illegally stamped as standard, by the usurped authority of folly, falshood, affectation, and nonsense.
What a sarcastic, ungovernable spirit? We have lost our two Sons, and you, the only Child whom Providence has spared to us, are determind to be the constant source of disquiet and affliction to our minds. — O Adelinda! you have blasted all my comfort; — long, very long, have I looked forward to your present age of reason, and anticipated the treasure, that I hoped to find, in your tender affection as a Child, and your sympathy as a friend. But all these flattering dreams vanish. You[Page 262] have filled my heart with grief and bitter disappointment for the present; and I look forward to the future, with that fearful agony, which makes even the very thoughts of life painful to me.
O, my Mother! —
Can you then feel for me? O! rouse all your affection, all your reason, all your duty. Can you not resolve, my dear Child? will you not promise? —
I can at this moment resolve, if you speak the word — to die — But, O my dear Mother! — I cannot — indeed — I cannot promise what you wish. —
Alas! Adelinda! can you thus partake the anguish of my soul, and have the power, yet want the will, to give me peace? —
I cannot speak the agonizing grief that tears my heart — to think what sorrow I give to yours. I disdain a falsehood — I cannot promise — because I know, too certainly know, the fatal impossibility of keeping my word. Cease to love me, Mother! I am unworthy your affection. Alas! I know I am. —
Yonder your father comes, the Count is with him, Dear Adelinda!
at least in your father's presence, for my sake, constrain your temper. Do not speak, if you cannot speak respectfully. I have passed my word, that you will alter your conduct, else your father will break off this[Page 163] treaty of marriage, and send you back to a Cloister for life. Think of what I suffered, last night, for your sake; and let not such deep humiliation have been in vain. You are silent, my Child! I will yet hope what you dare not promise.
Did the distance deceive me, or did I see Adelinda on her knees?
You did, my Lord!
Why, what thunderbolt was strong enough, to bow your stubborn pride?
My Lord! when gentle Angels warn us of impending dangers; there needs no thunderbolt to bow the stubborn will. Their kindness melts the heart, trembling we own their mercy; and kneel, with gratitude and humbleness, to thank that goodness, which we cannot merit.
My charming Cousin!
How came you, Adelinda! to say so gracious, and so proper a thing? Why are you not always thus?
Because, my Lord! I am not like an[Page 264] Italian Greyhound; fawning without friendship, and licking the hand of every stranger as cordially as that of his Master. I prefer the disposition of the honest English Mastiff, who is submissive only to the kind master whom he loves, and who will fight till he dies, for those to whom he is attached.
I presume, Madam! that you have told Adelinda, what you have promised for her — and, that it was only at your intreaty, that I have forgiven her behaviour to me last night?
I have, my Lord! and Adelinda will, I hope, fulfil the promise which I have ventured to make for her; and by becoming as amiable and as complacent in her manners as you can wish, she will not only rejoice my anxious heart, but reward all my care.
This day then, my dear Count! we will sign the Settlements, and to-morrow shall be the day of the celebration of your Nuptials —
To-morrow, my Lord? No! no! no! not, — not, to-morrow, for Heaven's sake! —
Shall it be Thursday, Adelinda?
Oh! no! no!
Let it be Saturday then.
No! I beg not.
Adelinda! there is no obliging you — I will name the day. To-morrow you give your hand to the Count —
or you return to your Convent for life, whichsoever you please. —[Page 265]
My dear Lord! —
Madam! I will not recede — therefore do not request, what I must have the pain of refusing, even to you.
Daughter! I give your hand to this young Lord: but for him my ancient name would be extinct. I am proud that he is my relation and my friend: And he is most deservedly the Son of my choice. As you value my blessing, Adelinda! I exhort you to merit his affection and preserve his esteem.
Most gratefully I thank you, my Lord! for the honour which you confer upon me, and the sacred trust which you repose in me. I will aspire to maintain, in all its lustre, that name which has been for so many ages renowned: and the happiness of your lovely Daughter shall be the constant object of my tenderest attention.
I resign her with full confidence to your care. Count! avoid my errours. Adelinda! let your altered conduct oblige me to forget the past. Imitate your Mother's exalted merit; or become an alien to your father's love.
My dear Count! though to call you Son, is the first wish of my heart; yet this is a trying moment, which only a Mother, like me, can feel. — Remember, my dear Adelinda! that your own happiness, and the felicity of your parents, depend upon your conduct —
Heaven bless you, my dear Girl! and may no child of yours ever make you know the anxious care, which at this moment rends my heart —
My fair Adelinda! are my wishes indeed accomplished? Your heart sympathizes with your Mother's feelings; Is it then subdued? are you changed?
O Lord, yes! changed, yes. —[Page 267]
In down-right earnest to be sure.
I know that you are sincere — Therefore tell me — are you now serious?
Oh! I am much too sincere at times, and so as to displease you most mightily.
'T is true. For often your sincerity arises from the peculiarly uncouth ruggedness of your temper, rather than from a scrupulous love of truth. Your sincerity is the squib of peevish petulance, and and not the conscientious award of just judgment.
What a pointed, precise, witty, waspish, wiredrawn, distinction you have made: and your domineering decision amblingly alliterates as agreeably as the clinking cadence of the Church Clock's chimes.
It is but too just a decision: — however let it pass, my fair Cousin! — at this most awful period of our lives, let us rather resolve against all future disputes, than now enter upon new ones. You are my destined Bride; —
Yes. — so it seems.
Seems? why are you not? what do you think of it?
What do I think of it? — Nothing at all. —
A clear explication truly! —
Rightly observed, Cousin! 'T is a most[Page 268] accurate, admirable, excellent explication indeed! — For when despotic authority says, "Daughter, you shall marry that man," — and that very man says, "Mademoiselle! you are destined to make my fortune, and, therefore, I reject you not. " — The girl has nothing to think about: for she is precluded from the privilege of thinking to any purpose, — and I assure you, that I think nothing about marrying you, my Lord!
Still haughty! still intractable!
Hola, Cousin! have a care, that your sincerity be not the squib of peevish petulance: — It was but this moment that you resolved against all disputes; and you begin already. So to war we go, jangling like hammer and tongs, as usual.
That phrase is superlatively elegant!
Then, if you don't like it, mend it. —
How ill does that rustic speech and manner agree with eyes that seem to sparkle with intelligence as well as beauty. Your countenance and disposition are by no means assorted; they correspond so little together, that they would disappoint and disgust good company.
Good Company! What is Good Company?
Ridiculous question! Do you not know what Good Company is?
No. Nor you neither, Cousin! by your[Page 169] not answering my question. But I suppose that your Good Company, like the Monster that I saw the other Day, is a non-descript; and so are your People of fashion; and polite Circles; and the great World: with all the immense farrago of fashionable phrases, that pretend to class folks into tribes, which I hold to be as non-descript, as my Monster from the Moon Mountains in Africa.
You mistake, fair Lady! Good Company is as easily defined as wit, sense, taste, or judgment. Good Company, Adelinda! is the select part of People of Rank and Education, of People of great talents and amiable manners; who, having, from superior understandings, a stronger claim to distinction and respect, than the generality of the World possess, seek out each other; and being assimilated by the attractive chain of real merit, enter into friendship, assort together, and form that elect part of society, which I distinguish by the name of Good Company.
And do you make one in Good Company.
I have that flattering distinction.
Well! if you be Good Company then is Good Company the most wearisome thing upon the face of God Almighty's Earth —
Have you any Snuff, my Lord! for your good Company has vapoured me to death.
I expected not so very enchanting a compliment.
I have told you a hundred times that[Page 270] it is the way of me to speak what I think; if it offend you, you can revenge yourself: the catalogue of my manifold imperfections is so very extensive that you can find more ample faults of mine to descant upon, than I have picked out of yours, of your being tiresome, teasing and thwarting: — I do not beg for quarter. —
Indeed you do not deserve it; but your sacred sex protects you; I am bound to respect it, even though you set at defiance, good breeding, politeness, and even the common regards of decent civility.
And where is the real merit of your good breeding, your politeness, and your regards? flummery and nonsense! you flatter, because you want to be flattered in return. Flattery, I suppose, is the current coin which buys a place in Good Company. — Let people speak as they think, and seem only what they are; just as God made them and Nature formed them. As for me, I cannot stem the impulse of my disposition; it carries me away; the current is too strong for my resistance.
But you should endeavour to exterminate so ungracious a disposition.
Yes, and make myself just as artificial and ridiculous a figure as the Yew trees in the Kitchen Garden, tortured into every possible form that can make them appear outlandish and disagreeable —
What an unbending mind! what a stubborn spirit! What hope is there of softening it?[Page 271]
He is dreaming with his eyes open, and talking Gibberish in his sleep — I'll escape —
Adelinda, stay! — I was lost in thought — Can I by any entreaty win you to render your humour complacent —? Beautiful Adelinda! you might, if you pleased, inspire me with the most ardent passion for you. Your heart, I am sure, is good, though so rugged and discourteous to all around you. And (though I lament its constant misapplication) yet I cannot help admiring the strong powers of your understanding. Why then will you call forth dislike, where you might excite love? Why brave censure, when you might create esteem? Make but a just use of the invaluable gifts, with which nature has endowed you, and you will enslave my very soul.
Cousin! you plead so well, that methinks I am half sorry, that 't is impossible for you to gain your suit —
Say not so, Adelinda! Reflect, that in a few hours you will be my Wife: consider that the happiness of my future life is in your hands; and, if you cannot gain a proper ascendancy over your disposition, that I am doomed to be miserable; and every moment of my existence, I shall have to blush, with shame and grief, at my Wife's misconduct. —
No, my Lord! I will save you from so sad a fate, from this all-dreaded shame; never, I promise you, shall my Husband have to blush at my misconduct. —[Page 272]
How you delight me by this promise: then, my amiable Adelinda! you will correct your failings, and kindly condescend to be guided by the tender advice of the man, who wishes to adore you?
I most devoutly make you a second promise: — and I call Heaven to witness the sincerity of my intentions. — That in no one circumstance of my future life shall the advice of you, my Cousin! the Count D'Olstain, — ever govern me. —
No? — You speak riddles! You promise that I shall never have to blush at your misconduct; and yet you threateningly promise defiance against me, either as your friend or counsellor. — For Heaven's sake! condescend to explain this mystery.
No: I shall give no explanation; I intend to surprise every body. —
How can you take a pride in torturing me? You suffer your strange temper to drown every benevolent feeling of your heart. Have you no kindness for others? no sympathy for their distress? Why should you rejoice in creating misery when you might —
Stop! stop! for the love of charity, do not stun my ears with any more of your tedious preachments. — Know, my Lord! that such as my manners and disposition are, such I would have them to be; and such they shall remain, if I were to live to the age of Methuselah. — Therefore, if you can work no surer miracle than my reformation, you will never be canonized for a Saint — But to shew you,[Page 273] that I can, occasionally, do a civil and polite thing, I rid you of my vulgarity; and leave you to the full enjoyment of your own Good Company.
What a strange, what a perverse Girl! If I marry her, I sacrifice all my future happiness. — If I reject her, the Marquis will oblige her to take the Veil; and make me the unjust possessor of her birth-right.
SCENE FIRST — A SALOON.
YOUR Servant, Monsieur Strasbourg!
Down to the ground, yours, Madam Flora!
Charming fellow! how handsome he is! What a fine figure! What an elegant air! — I'll plague him a little, however. — Why, Strasbourg! for a Steward how magnificently you dress — But you are rich; your father had the management of the old Marquis's fortune, and of his Son's, for forty years. You are his heir and still Steward: — And a most pompous fine gentleman to be sure you are; but they say you can afford it: yet, if I were my Lord —
You would not keep a Steward who looked so much like yourself. Ha! my smart Abigail! but I must decline the felicity of your company just now; for my Lord is coming hither upon business — so permit me to hand you out of the saloon.
Well, Monsieur! I am here upon my Lady's business; I came here to look for Mademoiselle Adelinda. —[Page 275]
Then, as she is not here, by all means pursue your business. —
Suppose, Strasbourg! that to keep your dress in proper countenance, you were to embroider your manners with a slight border of politeness.
Child! if I did, you would mistake my meaning. I think you most enchantingly agreeable, and you treat me in a manner that flatters me most delightfully: and if it were not for the extraordinary esteem and respect, that I have for your Lady, I should encourage your predilection. —
What do you mean? what do you insinuate?
Only, divine perfection of a woman! that your Lady would take it very ill at my hands, if I seduced her favourite Abigail from that path of discretion which her years exact that she should tread in, and the practice of that virtue which she is said, hitherto, to have most religiously observed. —
Impudent Coxcomb! audacious Slanderer! good-for-nothing Story-teller! —
Thank your stars, Strasbourg! for my timely appearance — Why I believe that Flora was going to beat you.[Page 276]
No! no! I was not, but, but, I wish to Heaven that somebody would give him a good caning for me. —
Why, Strasbourg! what unpardonable offence have you committed to deserve such treatment from Flora? —
I only said, my Lord! that the Marchioness would be displeased with me, if I seduced Flora's virtue: and behold, for this, she calls me a slanderer! and a story-teller!
No! it was not for that, but for supposing, supposing, — indeed, my Lord! I do not deserve, deserve — but I wish that you would not keep such a fop of a Steward — There is no being happy in the house for him — he is so grand and so proud — and he says — and he says — that, that, he looks like your Lordship —
Why truly, Strasbourg! so I think you do — you are more sumptuous to day than usual, I think. I really must follow Flora's advice and dismiss you — for you always appear so splendid, that indeed there is some hazard of your being mistaken for me.
In Christian charity, my Lord! you are bound not to dismiss me; for no other Nobleman in all Europe can afford to retain me in his service.
How so, Strasbourg?
Because your Lordship is the only one possessed of such princely manners, as to afford, without any danger of mistakes, or derogation from[Page 277] your own dignity and consequence, to keep a Steward who has the vanity to aspire, in his dress and and deportment, to look like a gentleman
Now, Flora! if Strasbourg will pay you as curious a compliment, I am sure that you must forgive him.
Pray, my Lord! do not intercede for me; for a quarrel with Flora is the delight of my soul; her arguments are so terse, her wit so elegantly polished, and her elocution so flowing, and so correct, that to be the object of her anger is the most heavenly amusement that I have any idea of. So no pardon, no quarter, sweet Flora!
Hang the fellow, he always has the art to have every one of his side always; he knows how to flatter himself into people's liking, and out of their hatred.
Poor Flora! — Well, Strasbourg! what is the business?
My Lord! the Widow of your late tenant, Orland, sends me word that she is coming this morning with her rent; and to beg that your Lordship[Page 278] will be pleased to renew the lease of the Olstain Farm to her. I suppose that you have no objection to renewing the lease; but at what rent, my Lord? all your other tenants have had their rents raised; but Dorcas tells me, that she hopes as she nursed my Young Lady that you will favour her. —
Yes: on that consideration; and as she is a Widow, I will renew the lease, for the term of her life, at the same rent. — I suppose the report of Adelinda's marriage brought her hither just at this time, that she might be present at the wedding. Has she brought her pretty Daughter with her?
I do not know, my Lord! — 'tis not certain — perhaps so — I believe she has — I, I, rather think she may — but I cannot be positive —
I begin to think, Strasbourg! that you are in love with that girl: you are always so embarrassed, so shy, and look so very silly, whenever I question you about your visits to that part of the Country. Your confused, mysterious answers, have made me suspect that some love affair was your business at Olstain, and not the barn-building, or seeing after the workmen. — I want to see this girl, this Zella, I have heard so much of her beauty. — But are you seriously in love with her, Strasbourg?
My Lord! Zella, to be sure, is a sweet pretty creature, a sweet pretty creature, indeed, my Lord! to be sure. So genteel, so delicate, so blooming, one must be a statue not to be struck with her. Every body is in love with her. But she rejects[Page 279] every body, and wants her mother to let her be a Nun; but it is pity that she should, as Dorcas can give her a good deal of money whenever she marries.
Are your high notions then so far humbled as to marry a farmer's daughter? What is become of your taste and your pride? But do you really intend to make her your Wife?
Ye — ye — ye — yes, and please your Lo — Lordship!
Ha! ha! ha! you may well hesitate, Stasbourg — you who used to pique yourself upon your consequence and your pretensions — A Brother in the Church, — a good fortune of your own — much respected in your Lord's family — much honoured by his kindness — all this I have heard from you — and are you, indeed, going to make love to a Dairymaid?
Truly, my Lord! I blush at demeaning myself so much — But, my Lord! let love plead my excuse; irresistible love, which, I have been unable to conquer, in spite of every the most powerful reasons for overcoming it. — I love so fervently, that I would rather die, than not win the Woman whom I adore. —
Believe me, my honoured Lord! that the idea of offending you afflicts me much, though even that fear has not been able to subdue my passion! —
You speak as one deeply smitten indeed, Strasbourg! But one thing it behoves me to tell you: Zella, being the daughter of my tenant,[Page 280] and very young, as she has lost her Father, whom I very much respected, I think her intitled to my protection; therefore, know certainly your own mind about this girl, before you lay siege to her heart. Your pride may step in now, but I tell you, that it shall not afterwards. You have had several attachments, so I suspect your constancy in this; and I will allow of no foolery in this affair: you have my consent to court her for your wife; but not to dangle after her for your amusement, and then leave her to wear the willow.
No! to be sure, my Lord! your Lordship is very right, very good —
I own that I did not suppose, that the Daughter of Dorcas would have been your choice. I imagined from your spirit and taste that you would have chosen a fine dashing wife, whom all my tenants would have looked upon as fine lady enough to be the wife of a Lord.
You think my heart lowly. But, alas! my Lord! I fear that it is only too high and too ambitious.
Whom do you seek?
My Lord! I came to tell Monsieur Strasbourg,[Page 281] that Dorcas, the widow farmer from Olstain, asks for him.
Is she come alone?
No, my Lord! there is the handsomest young Woman with her, that I ever set my eyes upon.
Shew them into this room.
Now, Strasbourg! I shall see your taste for beauty.
Walk this way, if you please.
What does he want with them? Has he a mind for the girl himself? 'T is like enough —
Oh! 't is yow, my goode Lord Markis! yar Sarvant, your honours lordship!
Come, Zalla! come along —[Page 282] come in, come in — there's my Lord's worship hisself, yow navvar ramamber to have sat eyes on him, thof he used to take grate notage on yow when yow war tree yare old or so —
What a charming creature she is!
Come, look up!
look up — don't be so sheepish, I say — come, maake a low curtsy to my Lord, and ax his worship's Lordship, if yow have the honour to see him well — come, make a fine curtsy
Why, she curtsies gracefully indeed.
Yas! but why ha'n't she the good manners to look in yar face as I does when I salute
your honour's Lordship — Why look up, I say, ca'n't ye? — what are yow feered of? nobody wull ate yow, child —
'T is her enchanting modesty prevents her from taking her eyes from the ground:
You make her blush, Dorcas! consider, she is before strangers. — What a sweet countenance she has; why, Dorcas! what a beautiful girl she is!
Oh, marry! yas, to be sure she is; why ant she my Darter? and thof I ma'n't be so handsome now quite, time was when I was a booty too. — but I am growing old; I was thirty-four last birth-day; — and Zalla will be eighteen to-morrow tree weeks. — I has spared no pains to make har 'greeable: I has had har in a Convent for tan whole yares, wanter and Sommur; and now I think an intands to maake a[Page 283] Laady on her, unless she's undutiful and wo'n't be advised for her good.
With such a person she may well pretend to be a Lady; she will be admired wherever she goes.
Ah, yah! that's what jantelmen all bedizened with shilver and gewld, an like your Lordship, who saw bar at the grate, at the Nun's Convent, used to say. But that war northing to wonder and marval at, for she war a deal siner clod there; for I ollost caparisoned har like a yong Laady; and I gon har the bast of larnein that I could have for money, and har father navvar cared how much was spant upon har; and she ollost took to it kindly, an as te war naturably as thof she war born to be a Schollard: she larnt to dance, and to sing, and all sorts of good gear of larnein (with hard names I ca'n't spake) that I could have for my money. Oh! she's as larned as any laady o'the Land; and so our Parson says.
Well, Dorcas! and I hope she is a good girl, and that you have no reason to repent the expense.
Oh! no, not I, not an thof it had been a tan times as much: she had avvery body's goode worde, jantle and semple — She wanted to stay in har nunnery all har life, but a noa says I, and har father, she sha'n't a had all that money bestow'd upon har pracious larncin to barry it narther — So the short and the long out was, as I wanted har to keep me company, I fached har home last Childermas day twelvemonth —[Page 284] Alack and a well a day! I was gone for she, whan yar Coach and Six stopped at my house, with my poor Yong Laady Adelinda in it; that yow war so cruel as to sand back to har Convent for a whole long yare against har will — she cried and took on sorely at my house — and I was mainly sorry at yar barbarousness in sanding har back.
Why, Dorcas! I sent her back for improvement — and by what I perceive, I sent back an obstinate, ungracious, awkward, unpolite, girl, the same day that you fetched home an amiable, elegant Young Woman.
O! yas, Zalla! is as alagant as any laady, thof she is so plane drassed — but a when she camed home she would not go fine — she fade that te did not become har lowly stachion to be so drassed; and my silly husband that's dade and gon, he was of har side.
Ah, Dorcas! you are a widow now.
Yas, thank God, and plase yar Lordship, to my grate joy.
Thank God! Why Orland made you a very good husband.
Yas, only we was ollost a quarrelling — he was so surly, so brutal, so obstinate, and so sulky, and plase your Lordship, that he is bast to my liking where he is. —
I have formerly often heard him complain of you, Dorcas! He used to say, that you were crossgrained, crabbed, stubborn, passionate, for ever contradicting him, and woefully disobedient.[Page 285]
Oh! yas, an like your Lordship, I scorned all thority, I navvar gon way, and if I could not get my own mind, I ollost got the last ward; that's what I ollost would have — than when he had no more to say, I got banged a bit; but I ollest made my part good blow for blow, and war'n't I in the right ont, plase yar Lordship!
Oh! as a woman of spirit, very right to be sure
I'd have aten the flash off my own bones sooner than not have bin as masterly as he; but for all his blows, I could make him afeerd of me.
Why, zounds, Dorcas! you could not thrash him, could you?
No, an plase you, no; I could sooner thrash your worship's Lordship — no! no! at fair blows he was twice my match; 't was not so: why yow must know, that we had a great davvil of a rumpus just arter I fached this here cratur home; and he was woundily purvoking, and contradicted me a little too much for my liking — so I farly swore, that if I had not my own way, I'de drown'd myself, and have him hanged for muddering me — He was fule enough to dar me to it; so egad, my lord! I was in such a raging passion, that I raanned right oute of the house, and he arter me, cross the Orchard, cross the Home-stall, into the parkpiece, and jumps me, out of brathe as I was, before his face, right plump into the pond, where the grate carp are — He got me out, but I did not spake for a whole day, I was so drownded. — and so, my Lord ▪[Page 286] whanaver I talked of the pond, arter that, I was ollost sure of having my own way — and so 't was, that I made him afeerd of me —
And does Zella promise to have as good a spirit? she does not look as if she had.
She a good spurrit — I am glad yow have thought of that! Why, Lord! she is the poorest, lamb-likest thing that avvar God made: Spurrit, indeed! she'll navvar stand up for har own rights as long as she brathes — she is so tame and so frightful that she is for all the world like a naturable fule; whan she first camed home, I taked har for a down-right fule-born hideot: she had not the sanse to sa boh! to a goose, with all har dancing and larnein — And she would blush, O good lords! I could navvar open my mouth to spake, but she would blush, and then fall a whimpering, whether I spaked snappish to har or no. And yat, for all that, she do n't want sanse in har way, when she is in the yowmour to talk a bit; but that 's not often.
My Steward tells me that he wishes to marry her —
Yas, an like your Lordship, so he told me, whan I axt him, pretty roundly, what brought him so often to our side of the country; for I was shrewd enough to pick out, that the barn-building was not all the business — and if yow give him yar good word, and are agreeable to it, why he shall have her.
Dear Mother! I beseech you consider —[Page 287]
But how is this, Dorcas? Zella is in tears; how does her heart stand inclined to the match? Does not she prefer somebody else?
Pray now axt har yarself, for I wish I may die, if I can find out what she likes: thof 't is no matters, for I intands that she shall have Mounsheer Strawsbourg, because I like him, and think him the finest jantleman I avvar saw, save and axcept your Lordship's father. But whenever I talks of Mounseer Strawsbourg, she ollost holds down har hade and cries just as she does now; that's har way; so do yow see what yow can make her say.
Zella! my fair damsel, Strasbourg is a good sort of young man, and I hope that he will make you a kind husband. I think it a very advantageous, nay even a great match for you — have you any regard for Strasbourg? Do you think you can love him?
There, I told ye, that's har way — cry, cry, cry — and hold down her hade, that's har way to the life. —
Speak, Zella! — Speak without fear, and tell your real sentiments — Can you like Strasbourg? Speak your mind sincerely. —
Alas! my Lord! No. — Indeed, I can never like him — never! never!
This is a plain answer, Dorcas — here is nothing to find out: — she speaks decidedly enough.
But I wull have yow like him — it is[Page 288] come in my hade, and yow must and sholl love him: 't will be wicked and undutiful in yow not to love him whan I bid yow love him; and ha'n't I ollost told ye, that the sin of undutifulness is worse than the sin of witchcraft, and the sin of witchcraft is worse than the davvil hisself.
Mother! I own that it is my duty to please and obey you: and I wish, as you command it, that I could like him; but, indeed, it is not in my power.
But since my Lord says, 't is such a good match, thof yow wo' n't love him, yow can marry him, ca'n't yow?
My Lord! you were so good as to embolden me, by your permission, to speak my sentiments — encouraged by your condescension, I have spoken them with sincerity, from my inmost soul. Be graciously pleased, then, to plead with my Mother for me, that she may have the kindness to indulge them, and to permit me to spend my life in —
Hold yar tongue this minute about being a Nun, I say — she sha'n't be a Nun, that I swear and declare, for northing shall ever maake me say yas to har going into a Nunnery — for har Father told me, on his dathe-bed, that if avvar I made a Nun of har, that he shode not rest in his grave — and I ha' no mind to see his Ghost, I promise ye —
Why, my fair one! 't is impossible that you can have any objections to a marriage which my Lord considers as every way so advantageous to you. —[Page 289]
Pardon me, Monsieur Strasbourg! but I have objections.
You are quite in the wrong, my little mistress! —
Whather she's right or wrong is nather, hare nor thare, I order it, and that's enough — said is done with me — so as he says, yow are all in the wrong to jangle about it. —
Wrong indeed! But my Lord led me into the errour, when he bade me speak my real sentiments and without fear. — For I was wrong in daring to hope for his pity, his protection. — Alas, Mother! grant me time, that I may try to reconcile my mind to your very hard commands, in forcing me to marry a man whom I cannot like; much less regard with preference.
The girl is stark staring mad, I think, not to like me —
Do not weep, Zella! I advise you, as a friend, to accept of Strasbourg: why can you not love him?
My Lord! I can only obey my Mother; to love him is not in my power. — If she insist, — now I have lost my poor Father, I have no one friend to save me from wretchedness; — unless — unless, my Lord! I might presume to hope for your mediation, to save me from never-ending misery — Will you not, my Lord? — Alas! I have been too presumptuous to ask it —
I am your Child: and it is my duty to obey you, But —[Page 290]
Well, than! I pray why do yow dispute yar duty?
Mother! I mean not to dispute. — I have several times respectfully declared my sentiments to you, lest, when you find how very dear my obedience will cost me, that you should reproach me, that I was not explicit in my declaration. — But this is the last time that I will remonstrate, — the last time that I will resist; but I owe it to you, and to myself, to declare, before it be too late, even for your repentance, that if you lead me to the Altar with this man, that I go a constrained victim to my duty; and though a patient and unresisting, yet not a willing sacrifice. — And, O Mother! from forcing me to that Altar, may you instantly follow me to my grave! —
What is to be done? her grief, her tears, pierce my very soul —
Hold yar tongue, for I tall yow, yow sholl have him, I am intarminated upon it —
Not so hasty, Dorcas! this marriage does not depend upon your will and pleasure.
Well! and I pray come tell me, upon whose will and pleasure but Dorcas's does it depand? my silly husband, thanks be to the praise, is not hare to molest it: and who but he can gainsay it?
That, will I — If my Steward chuse to keep his place; or if you chuse to have the leafe of your farm renewed. And, what is more, till this poor lamb be of age, I will protect her from your unfeeling[Page 291] authority. Zella! I declare myself your Guardian. Dorcas! I claim Zella as my ward. — You have lost your Father, I will supply his place.
Thanks, my liege Lord! — but will you, indeed, save me from this marriage?
On my sacred word, I promise you that I will.
O my Lord! your goodness has given me back to life.
An old fool! he is in love with her himself.
My fair Zella! allow me to salute you.
With my whole heart, my Lord!
Compose your spirits, Zella! weep no more; — depend upon my protection; no one shall force your inclinations. Strasbourg! settle Dorcas's accounts with her. And then, Zella! order the Servants to show you and your Mother into my Study.
Will you forgive me, dear Mother! for appealing to my Lord?[Page 292]
Forgive you? — force has no choice; I must forgive you. My Lord is against us — so what's to be done now, Mounsheer Strawsbourg?
What do you advise, Dorcas?
Od zookers! be even with him, — Marry me, out of spite. —
Yas; and lave this baby-faced thing to har salf. — I have a deal of friendship and esteem for yow; — and I have planty of money, and all in my own power — I navvar intanded to marry again — but as she ont have yow, why, I suppose, yow may persuade me to have pity on ye.
O Madam Dorcas! you do me too much honour.
Not a bit; — there's my hand; — I ar'n't so proud as she yow find.
What the devil! why you cannot be in earnest? come, come, I am too much grieved, to be in a humour for foolery. You promised Zella to me, and she shall marry me.
I'd first hang, and then drown'd myself, before yow shall have har now.
Peace! peace! Dorcas! a truce, a truce; here comes the Count D'Olstain, the finest Gentleman, and the most accomplished Scholar of the age, and the lover of the beautiful Adelinda.
Is that the girl who is thought so pretty? I met the Marquis, and he praised her so highly, that my curiosity brings me to see if she be such a peerless damsel. — That must be she, with her back turned to us. What a fine figure she is! does her face correspond to it?
Yes, my Lord! that is Zella. And she is completely beautiful.
I find that they have told me truth, Zella! and that to see you is to be forced to admire you.
My Lord is pleased to compliment. —
Heavens! surely — that voice — that face —
My Lord! you d stress me. —
Have I not formerly had the pleasure of seeing you at the Convent of Montargo, at the grate of the Abbess's parlour, with my Sister, Augusta D'Olstain, whose friend you were?
You have, my Lord!
But, in what a different dress do I now behold you! a peasant's habit! —
My dress, my Lord! is now that which becomes my situation in life.[Page 294]
How then must you murmur against the injustice of fortune! —
No, my Lord! I murmur not. This, my Lord! is my Mother, whose indulgence placed me, in a Convent, for Education, in a manner far above my sphere, and rank in life.
Yas, har father said she should have the bast of larnein — so I had har put thare, in another guise name; and ollost caparisoned har like a laady, and she did not know no batter, till I fached har home to keep me company —
Charming Zella! what a fate is yours! How do I pity, and admire you.
You may admire her, if you please, but not too much, my Lord!
Why so, Strasbourg?
Because she is my bride elect.
She? this Angel?
Even she, my Lord! are you too surprised at my condescension, in marrying the Daughter of Dorcas? —
No; but I shall be surprised, if she condescend to bestow a thought upon you.
Now your Lordship appears, if you declare yourself my rival, I stand less chance for Zella's favour. — Your rank, fortune, and accomplishments, are, to be sure, almost irresistible attractions. And, though perhaps I ought to despair, yet my vanity will not suffer me to desist. For it would be a glory, that would flatter the ambition of an Alexander's[Page 295] heart, if a poor Steward, like me, should win the affections of a beautiful angel, at whose feet the Count D'Olstain had knelt in vain. Now, Zella! tell us, who has the best chance for your favour? — My Lord here, — or poor Strasbourg? Are you not in love with him? come, tell us the choice of your heart.
Strasbourg! this liberty —
My heart has made no choice. And, give me leave to tell you, that in the present conversation, you have treated me with less consideration, and respect, than even the lowly daughter of a peasant has a right to claim from every man, who is not mean enough to take pleasure in giving distress, where he has a secret fear, that he has deserved, by his ungenerous conduct, to excite contempt.
Ah! Heavens! to find again, at such a moment, this divine assemblage of beauty, sense, judgment — O! too charming Zella! —
Hold, my Lord! you seem at present to forget, that you are in love with my Young Lady, Adelinda!
Peace, Sir! whether I forget, or remember it, is not your concern, but mine. —
Agreed, my Lord! but seeing you so deeply smitten with Zella's charms, I, as her friend ▪ just take the liberty to•…int your engagements: your rank forbids you to court her honourably, — and I[Page 296] cannot permit you to court her otherwise, as she is promised to me.
Marry come up! promised? I scorn yar words.
Why, yes, you yourself promised her to me.
Well, than, I mysalf — my very own salf, Dorcas, who stand here pointing at yow, I now unpromise har; mind yow, that yow sha'n't have her.
We shall see that, Dorcas! my Lord here, who is so successful a lover with Lady Adelinda, will stand my friend, I hope, and court Zella's favour for me; and his rhetoric, I dare say, will be irresistible: especially as Zella has declared, that her heart has made no choice; therefore, I hope to gain her favour, if my Lord, the Count, will intercede for me.
Will you be pleased to hold your tongue, Sir! or quit the room? Had you been my equal, your insolent impertinence should have met with its proper chatisement.
Here comes your future Wife, my Lord! — and if this conversation should go on with such spirit and gallantry, you will make her as jealous as you have made me: and then Zella will be triumphant indeed.
Ah, Nurse! how do you do? I am right glad to see you.
My dear, dear yong Laady! how do yow do?
Well in health, thank you, Nurse! How long have you been come?
I camed this morning, just now: and here's my Darter, Zalla, come with me: yow do'n't remember har, yow ha'n't seen har since she was put to har larnin; ont ye spake to har? —
So, what are you come for, my little Goody?
My Lord Markis's worship, yar Farther, thinks har a grate bewty; do n't yow?
Yes! the thing is well enough. Does it know how to speak?
Yes, Mademoiselle! and how to speak properly too.
What is she going away for? Stay, girl! and let's hear you speak properly, — come. — Oh! you give yourself airs, do you?
Pardon me, Mademoiselle! I do not know any to give myself.
Do not you give yourself airs now?
Then have the goodness to forgive my ignorance;[Page 298] and tell me, that I may amend it, what it is that offends you.
You, and your words, little minx!
Little minx! — Butter yar words with a little manners. 'T is my belief, if I war to set Zalla to hunt the pigs, she would use batter words to them, and more civiller behalf, than yow give to har. Little minx, indeed! marry come up, little minx!
Why, Nurse! you are putting yourself into one of your passions.
Because yow dominare over Zalla for northing: and if I war not too well brad, to use such words to my Lord Markis's Darter, I should call yow, a saucy slut for yar pains. I brought Zalla on purpose to draw me yar pictur — but, Godlys! I might have spared har the trouble of coming, for a dancing bear from our fair, might have sat for yar likeness, yow are so bad mannered —
Silence, woman! you forget yourself. — Adelinda! let Zella go away. How can you delight in thus overpowering one who is too modest to cope with you; and too meek willingly to give you offence?
Cousin! I, by mistake, turned courtier: and having been most horridly mortified by my father, who sent me hither, I vented my illnature where I dared; without reflecting that it was not deserved. — Zella! I have behaved very unhandsomely to you. Be friends with me
Cousin! you are a casuist in these matters, have I[Page 299] said enough for the offence which I gave this gentlelooking spirit? for, in good truth, I feel sorry and ashamed at my own littleness. — Zella! forgive me! but I have offended myself, more than I have offended you.
Adelinda! a moment of forgetfulness, when so gracefully acknowledged, is fully atoned. And never did you look so charming in my eyes as at this moment — I am going into your Father's Study, shall I have the honour to conduct you thither?
No, not now, go without me.
Zella! the Marquis expects you and your Mother; I am going to his apartment.
Well! I 'spose I have affronted yow: but yow should not behave so.
Oh, no! Dorcas! I am as good friends with you as ever. I know you love me; and the saucy slut of a dancing bear owes you no grudge, I promise you. But you and Zella must follow the Count.
Why I ha' n't paid my rent to Mr Strawsbourg.
My Father expects you; and, as he[Page 300] sent me here, he will think, that I make you disobey his orders; and then he will be in a raging passion with me.
O Lord! then, I'll go: for I ollost thought him mortal crabbed to yow; and so I have told him; but yar sarvant, my dear yong laady; I on't make yow mischief, I'm sure; so yar sarvant. —
Strasbourg! this Zella is very handsome. — I am half afraid that you repent.
Repent, my charming Adelinda! had Zella the beauty of ten thousand angels, though my eyes might see it, yet my heart could be inspired with love and adoration, only by your charms, which are so far surpassing hers.
Well! I believe you.
Indeed you may. — And have you not known, from first to last, why I let the family suppose, that Zella had made an impression on my heart. I could not otherwise have seen you without suspicion from my absences; for, though my pilgrim's weeds, and your great charity, cheated my Lady Abbess, so that she suspected nothing, good soul! yet the barn building was too slight an excuse for your Father. So I was glad you know to avail myself of his[Page 301] suspicions about Zella: but, by great good luck, he has forbidden me to think of her.
Yes; and from his breaking off the match, I have a scheme, which, I trust, will put the house in a confusion for a week to come; therefore impute all that you hear of my passion for Zella to contrivance, and never entertain a thought of my being attached to her. But what can my charming Adelinda have to fear? Is she not my wedded Wife? my this day's Bride?
Peace! peace! lest we be overheard. — We shall need all your schemes and contrivance; for we are in more danger than I feared, or you either.
Are we suspected?
No! no! — But my marriage with the Count, which, you know, was to be this week, — is fixed for to-morrow —
But you can beg for time.
That I tried for in vain. My Father was peremptory: — he gave me my choice, either to marry the Count to-morrow, or return for life to my Convent. And an escape from thence, you know, would be impossible.
Heaven help us! What must we do?
Fly this very evening.
That's well said; but whither, my charmer! can we fly, so as to avoid pursuit? by the latter end of the week, all would have been safely[Page 302] ready — My plans were laid, my Brother is preparing for our flight, and to fly with us — but this night — we cannot fly this night — no precautions taken — my Brother absent — for, as soon as he had joined our hands, he sat off for the coast, in order to secure a ship.
Follow him —
But whither? — For when he left me, he had not determined what Port he would go to. Adelinda! we can never escape this night, if we attempt it, we shall be discovered and ruined past redemption.
But I tell you, that we must escape, and this very night too. — For, if we stay, all must be confessed to morrow. — And think of the dreadful consequences.
Distraction! — What can we do?
I must, I think, tell Nurse Dorcas the secret; and persuade her to let us be concealed at her house, till we can get clear off.
If she should betray us?
She loves me too well to do that; especially as she knows that your life would be forfeited to the law, or fall a sacrifice to my father's first fury; and that I should be a prisoner, in some gloomy dungeon of a Convent, for the rest of my miserable days. With her assistance, and your contrivance, I think that we shall get off undiscovered.
On what a tottering precipice do we stand![Page 303]
Do not make me begin to think! — If we cannot escape, horrour ensues, — If we do, alas! my gentle Mother's heart will break. — I am afraid to think — I dare not reflect — Ah! and does your courage fail you, Strasbourg?
Adelinda! if you saw my heart, though it beats with fear, yet it is not for myself, but for you. A moment of distraction, in spite of all my duty to my Master, and all my respect for you, made me discover my hopeless passion; you pardoned this act of presumption and despair — you, like an angel, heard and pitied my sufferings, — fatally heard, and pitied them, till you shared them. O Adelinda! do you not hate me, do you not despise the selfishness, that had not the courage to be wretched by itself? I see with deep repentance, for your sake, the dreadful abyss into which you are going to be plunged. Into what peril have I betrayed you!
The peril is equal for both. — Our regard for each other has been highly blameable: — but it is too late now for repentance. The hazard of our enterprise is not so great as you imagine.
O Adelinda! my eternal gratitude and love will make it the study of my future days —
Peace! peace! I believe you: for when a man is disinterested enough to resign all hopes of fortune, and runs the hazard of his life for marrying his master's daughter, — he certainly loves her to desperation. We must part now, for sear we be surprised. Meet me in an hour in the Alcove[Page 304] When I see which way the land lies, I can give you more directions. Prepare me a disguise, and make what arrangements you can for our departure. Adieu.
As love conducts may it protect us both.
SCENE FIRST — A DRESSING-ROOM.
I AM astonished that Strasbourg, who thinks himself so adorable and a match for a Princess, should condescend to think of the Daughter of Dorcas for a Wife. My Lord's interfering and breaking off the match is to be sure a very extraordinary step; yet I cannot think it a sufficient reason for your suspicions.
My suspicions, as you well know, Madam! have been but too often right. And my Lord Marquis has had too many intrigues, for me, not to suspect him very much, of entering into a new one, when he prevents a pretty girl's marriage, and takes away her Mother's authority, by declaring himself her Guardian.
Has he done that too, as well as prevent the marriage?
Yes, Madam! and Strasbourg is quite jealous about it. — I heard but little, for it was Lucy whom he charged with the embassy to you, but she begged me to tell it to you. I believe that she thinks as I do, for she seemed half frighted out of her wits: she says that Strasbourg has puzzled and confounded[Page 306] her, by telling her of his jealousy. I questioned her; but she said she dared not speak what she thought: and ran away from me. I knew not what to think of her flutterings; perhaps she is in love with him herself.
Well! do not tell me of such shadows of suspicions; I have enough for serious uneasiness, without anticipating vexations.
But, Madam! Strasbourg says, that he will lay his life, that the Marquis has designs upon the Girl; and that he will find her a very easy conquest, unless you interpose. Yet he charged Lucy not to tell you, that my Lord was in love with her, for fear of making you uneasy; but he is sure that he is; and that the girl perceives it, and that as she is quite a village coquette, an artful little monkey, she will know how to secure her conquest.
I hope that my Lord is more honourable than to seduce her.
You may hope it, Madam! but you will be disappointed. If I were you, I would order the little baggage into my presence, box her ears, and command her to be turned out of doors. She should not stay a minute under my roof.
Such conduct would ill become any woman. And though my Lord appears to be relapsing into his former errours, yet who knows, but what he may have some praiseworthy motive for his conduct.
Thus you always excuse him, Madam[Page 307] and I could bite my fingers for madness, to see how you appear to study to deceive yourself. When I am sure, Madam! that, in your heart, you must be as unhappy, as jealousy, that worst of demons, can make you. If I were you, I would make a fine bustle, and havoc, about it: all the world should know how vilely I was treated.
That would be the sure way to make my Husband regard me as an enemy; and he would soon hate me, however unjustly, for having the temerity to proclaim his failings.
O Heavens! I lose all patience. Faith! I shall swear presently as the men do, to vent their rage.
Here comes the Marquis.
Now for it then. Now we shall hear what excuse he will make for breaking off the match.
Do you know, Madam! what is going forward?
Oh yes! but too well.
I am charmed, and so will you.
And with what, my Lord?
With a young Person who, at first sight[Page 308] captivates the heart, and, on conversing with her, astonishes the mind. The more you look at her, and listen to her, the more the strikes you; and you are attached to her by an irresistible impulse. Her gracefulness, her understanding, her beauty, are enchanting; and the delicate modesty of her deportment adds a thousand winning graces to the bloom of youth, in the most lovely, animated countenance, that I ever beheld.
If this be a true likeness, the Girl is either angel, or demon — or a witch at least.
And pray, my Lord! who is this young Person.
Zella, the Daughter of Dorcas and of poor Orland.
You describe her to be charming indeed, my Lord!
I describe her, as she is, with beauty that inspires love, and a mind that creates esteem. She strikes, at once, as an accomplished, and attracts as an amiable, elegant, young woman.
Truly this Girl must be bewitching, else you exaggerate her attractions very much.
Believe me, Madam! I do not exaggerate; what I tell you is the simple truth: I have been conversing with her this hour in my study. Dorcas, through foolish vanity, has given her an excellent education, and, for her years, I am astonished at her knowledge. I most sincerely pity the suffering which the elegant mind of this gentle Girl must[Page 309] endure, in being subjugated to the authority of so rough, and turbulent a woman, as Dorcas is; and I feel the tenderest friendship for this poor child.
A tender friendship! what a tender phrase!
Making a confident of his own Wife! well, there is something new, under the Sun, witness this confabulation.
The poor Girl applied to me, to set aside her Mother's project, of marrying her to Strasbourg.
It seems to me, my Lord! that Strasbourg's proposal does her much honour; even with all the beauty which you describe her to have, she could scarcely expect so advantageous an offer.
But she testified so strong an aversion for him, that, through pity for her, I absolutely forbad the marriage.
In order to reserve Zella for himself. Keep a sharp look out, Madam!
Strasbourg has sent to me, through Lucy and Flora, to beg that I will speak to you in his behalf; therefore permit me to become his advocate. I shall esteem it as the highest favour done to me, if you will put him again upon good terms with Dorcas and her Daughter; and persuade the Girl to accept of so good an offer of marriage.
That is impossible.
How impossible, my Lord ▪ Dorcas ▪[Page 310] it seems, had consented, very wisely, to the marriage. And why, my Lord! should you protect a rebellious, vain Girl in her opposition to her Mother's authority and judgment? You should rather enforce her obedience, than encourage her in her undutiful obstinacy.
Zella, Madam! did not want to have her obedience to her Mother enforced upon her. The sweet Girl was ready to obey her unfeeling mandate, with all the respectful submission of a Daughter, and all the resignation of a martyr. I declare to you, Madam! that, but for her tears, I should have thought an angel stood before me, when, after pleading for pity in vain, she spoke the strong sense which she had of her duty to her Mother, and of her resolution to obey her, though at the price of all her future happiness. Then, and not till then, I interposed my authority in her favour. The thoughts of her being devoted to misery pierced my heart with grief; whilst the fortitude of her resignation almost awed me. I cannot consent that she shall be driven to despair; it would be a deep suffering to myself.
I am astonished, my Lord! at the impression which this Girl has made upon you.
Indeed she has charmed my very soul.
I must go where I may storm and swear at my ease, for my very blood boils in my veins.
You are silent, Madam! —
Silent! why what should she say to this Confidence?[Page 311]
What does Flora say?
Who I, my Lord? I say nothing: I only meditate to myself.
Oh! meditate aloud; else we cannot profit from your wisdom.
No! my meditations would not please your Lordship.
Then keep them wholly to yourself; I will not suffer muttering meditations.
Laugh, as I do, my Lord! at her officiousness. And let us confine the conversation to your Steward. What is to be said to him, as the result of my intercession to your Lordship? Pronounce his fate, my Lord!
Well then! I pronounce his fate. And, though I set going the perpetual motion of Flora's tongue, yet I forbid Strasbourg ever to think of Zella.
Enough, my Lord! I will urge my suit no further.
I am come to beg a favour of you, Madam!
Command me, my Lord! What can I do to oblige you?
Honour Zella with your protection; and take her into your service, as one of your waiting-women
I have promised to become her Guardian; for Dorcas is so tyrannical, absurd, and wrong-headed, that I am sure so sensible, and so gentle, a girl cannot be happy with her. And when you see Zella, you will think of het as I do.[Page 312]
As I do not know her, I may be permitted, without offence, to doubt whether she will make the same impression upon me, as she has done upon your Lordship. But, my Lord! as you desire it, if I approve of her, she shall be received amongst the number of my attendants.
O Madam! do not think of refusing this favour to one so every way amiable. I will send this charming girl to you; but, for decency's sake, order her to be dressed properly; her peasant's habit is too ordinary, and too particular to be worn here. Condescend, Madam! to honour her with a gracious reception. Receive her with that benignant kindness which you have ever uniformly extended to modest merit.
You see, Madam! what credit is due to my suspicions. You are, I hope, convinced, by this time, that my Lord is in love with this Girl; but his asking you to take her into your service is beyond all bearing.
Heaven, grant me patience!
Well! when I have done being in a passion, I'll pray for patience too; and I am sure that[Page 313] we shall stand in need of a double dose: for you will find, that my suspicions are realities, and not visions.
Alas, Flora! so I begin to fear.
I am glad that you are convinced of it, Madam! for it is very mortifying to have one's penetration called in question, when one is so certain of being in the right.
And yet there is something very extraordinary and very cruel in my Lord's conduct, if he have any bad intentions towards this Girl. Have you seen her? Is she so very charming?
No, I have not set eyes upon her. But Lucy, and the Servants who saw her, speak of her as the Marquis does. And Strasbourg said, that every body, at Olstain, was in love with her, for her pretty face.
Is it here?
Yes: and that is my Lady.
Oh! How my heart trembles.
I believe, Madam! that this must be our beauty come to pay her respects.[Page 314]
Let her come forward.
Come, come in, come in sight!
Fear and respect —
You are bid to come forward; — why do you not move?
You frighten me; what have I done amiss that you are so angry with me. — My Lord sent me hither. — I should not have dared to come, without being ordered.
We know it: walk towards my Lady.
Heavens! what an amiable countenance —!
I fear, that I have unknowingly done wrong in coming. I feel that you are displeased, Madam! I am very sorry — yet, indeed — I was told, by my Lord himself, to come. — Pardon me that I did so, I most respectfully retire.
No, Zella! stay. — So, I find that you have insinuated yourself into my Lord's favour.
Alas, Madam! does the pity which my Lord has shewn to a poor, fatherless girl like me, offend you?
Zella! pity is not always restrained within proper bounds — I am neither unkind, nor unjust, nor willingly suspicious: but Strasbourg is jealous, and you know very well his reasons for being so.
No, Madam! I know of no reasons for Strasbourg's jealousy. I only know, that he asserted pretensions to my hand: but I cannot love him. This[Page 315] in the honest sincerity of my heart, I declared before the Marquis. Orphaned as I am, he had the goodness to promise, that he would supply my Father's place, and, like an indulgent Father, he set aside the engagement which my Mother had entered into, so very contrary to my inclinations. Indeed, Madam! had I been forced to fulfil it, my future life, short, as I hope, it would have been, would have run in one continued stream of grief, disgust, and wretchedness.
Zella! a girl like you should fear to excite the partiality of a man of high station. Your beauty might awaken love, in a colder heart than that of my Lord; and I am told that the loves you; and that you know that he loves you; and therefore you refuse Strasbourg. —
O Madam! — Think not thus, I beseech you —
What else can I think? when you refuse so very advantageous an offer, as that which Strasbourg makes you. Your beauty has seduced —
Gracious Lady! say it not again — Trust me, (and I speak as truly to you as I should were you a messenger from heaven,) trust me, that if the little beauty, which I am mistress of, had seduced the affections of your Lord, Honour, would instantly have made me, a voluntary exile from this house: nor should I have even dared to come into your presence. A thought of such love, as you mean, never entered into my mind, till you yourself, cruelly — pardon me the expression, — suggested, from your own suspicions,[Page 316] this detestable idea: the very existence of which, I had not even feared.
Well! if she don't speak truth — I must own that she can tell lies, with the most innocent grace I ever saw.
Had you had a Son, Madam! who had distinguished me by his pity, I should have shrunk back from it, fearing to find, beneath so specious a garb, a licentious Lover. But in your Lord, I saw only the Father, whose protection I wanted, and whose goodness emboldened me to forget his rank, to fly to him with open arms, and hang weeping on his neck.
Has she wings at her back? or has she a cloven foot in her shoe? is she angel, or demon? —
And shall my Lord's generous compassion for me, be interpreted into a crime? or my gratitude for his goodness, into unhallowed affection? Can it be? — and can you, Madam! thus wrongfully interpret his pity? or thus wrest my actions from their true motives. — You, whom my gracious Lord, bade me come, and see, and revere, and love, as I did the Saints in Heaven, for that you were good, and kind like them.
This girl, Flora! melts my heart.
O the little Sorceress! she has the art of taking one by surprise.
Alas! I know not art. Perhaps I should be silent, wanting the judgment to speak as I ought; but I have spoken from my heart, and without guile. [Page 317]Your suspicions, Madam! have wounded my very soul; and have so astonished, and overwhelmed my mind, that what to speak, or what to think, I am altogether ignorant.
Do you wish, Zella! to give me a proof that my suspicions are groundless?
I have no dearer wish.
O Madam! what have you asked? —
If she consent to that, I shall think her a Jew, Turk, or Infidel: if she do, I give her up directly.
Can you have the cruelty, Madam! to bring me to such a test as that, only to eradicate your unjust suspicions? Can you think, that I had so slight a sense of filial duty, as to plead against my own Mother's authority, if I could have made such a sacrifice at any one's request?
O Madam! let me plead for her; indeed she may be a very good girl, without marrying Strasbourg.
Madam! you hold the power to put an end to all your fears.
How Zella? tell me but How?
Overcome my Mother's objections to my being a Nun. Condescend to be present, Madam! when I take my Vows, and bid the world everlastingly farewell. Then judge, by the serenity with which I dedicate myself to heaven, how free my soul is from guilt or impurity. — And, dear Lady! notwithstanding[Page 318] your injustice, yet from henceforth will I never offer up a prayer to the throne of Mercy for myself, without mingling a petition with it, for your felicity. — May all the Saints and Angels have you in their charge.
Yet, stay, Zella! — Did you wish to remain here? did you wish to live with me?
Though my reception freezes, nay terrifies me, though your suspicions hurt and grieve me; yet never before stood I in a presence, that inspired my heart with such tender affection, with such respectful awe. But after what you have said, Madam! I ought not to wish to remain here; — Yet it would make me happy; — but I relinquish even the wish: — for I had rather die a thousand deaths, than give you, even a shadow, for the slightest uneasiness.
Dear Madam! let her stay, I will be surety for her. —
She is her own security. Too charming, too amiable Girl! you have, in spite of my reason, conquered my fears, and subdued every objection. You shall remain here, you shall live with me, as it is your own wish, as well as my Lord's particular request.
And do you indeed consent, that I should stay?
With perfect satisfaction; and, as a pledge of your duty and attachment to me, let what has now passed be kept within your own bosom.
Most sacredly, gracious Lady! living in[Page 319] the constant presence of you, and of my Lord Marquis, will make me happy, beyond what I had ever thought of being in this world.
Let us remember the Marquis's orders to have Zella properly dressed. Lady Adelinda's Wardrobe will, on her marriage with the Count, be given away amongst us servants to-morrow, and therefore may I not dress Zella from it now?
Yes: and without consulting me.
Then she shall for once, be dressed indeed. I want to see how this diamond will look, when it is richly set. Then, Madam! I will shew Zella to my Lord! and this compliance with his orders, will make my peace with him for my saucy meditations.
Be it so. But leave me now; my heart is overpowered: and solitude will best relieve it.
Mind that you continue to hate our fop of a Steward. When I have dressed you, I shall find him out, and fight a good battle with him about you; for he has finely belied you, that I have the honour to tell you.
WELL, thank Heaven! if Dorcas will be our Hostess — I have managed for our escaping this night. I might safely have loved her pretty Daughter, who disdains me. But every one to his fate. It is mine to run away with my Lord's Daughter, and — perhaps, to run my neck into a halter: — two nooses instead of one. I hope that the Marchioness is very uneasy, and that her jealousy will flame out; and then whilst every one is occupied, with thoughts of their own, in the midst of their troubles, we shall be less observed, and escape unsuspectedly; and to-morrow morning, — let them miss us as soon as they please.
Hist! Hist! a word.
I did not expect to see you, my charmer! I am waiting here, by appointment, to see your[Page 321] Maid Lucy, to know her success in an embassy of mine, to your Mother, which I sent her upon, before we met in the Alcove.
I have been upon the watch; and, as I saw nobody about; so I safely pursue my own business. Love, by my hands, presents you with these jewels. They never gave me a moment's pleasure till now; for I detest the fatiguing pomp which obliged me to wear them. But, at this moment, I rejoice in having them, to give to you, as some compensation, for the lucrative post which you quit for my sake.
My dear Adelinda! you may rely upon my love, and my industry, for our support. And besides all my own property, which, in case of accidents, is all secured to you; here is your own fortune, in good Bills of exchange.
I conjure you, Strasbourg! take only what is your proper own. Alas! I have no fortune!
All your Father's money ought one day to be yours; if you had your natural right.
True, Strasbourg! and so it would, if I did not quit my inheritance, through regard for you. But whilst my father lives, no part of his wealth, by any right, can be mine, unless by his own free gift: and of that all hopes must be resigned: — for you cannot, even think, that he will ever be won to forgive me.
Forgive you, my sweet Adelinda! Oh, No! He is too much of a Lord for that; unless you[Page 322] can support and prop the grandeur of his illustrious house; you have no Father in my Master, I promise you. Therefore I have taken these bills, because we shall never have but this only opportunity of helping ourselves. This is the ready money, which my Lord intended for the Count, your Cousin, on his marriage with you; besides two very fine estates.
For Heaven's sake, Strasbourg! do not take the bills. I have pride, and your honour is dear to me. Let my Father have nothing to reproach you with, but the temerity of your love, in carrying off his Daughter. — Let him have no one thing, I beseech you, against your honour and integrity, as his confidential Servant. The Jewels which I brought you are my proper own, they were my Godmother's Gift to me; and I give them to you, as my own unquestionable property. Therefore, be strictly honest, and restore the bills.
Honest! You are too scrupulous. Lady Adelinda! No! No! we will take the bills; 't is surely as honest to take them, without my Lord's leave, as to take you. He will think the loss of his money, nothing in comparison with the loss of his Daughter.
My sweet Adelinda! you have consented to the greater dishonesty; and now you pretend to have scruples. Truly, you are too nice for the courage, which you have shewn till now.
And you, for[Page 323] whom I have shewn it, are to become the punisher of my transgression, against my Parents, by involving me in fresh, unheard-of Guilt — To what have I reduced myself? I ought to have conquered my regard for you, the moment that my heart spoke in your favour — Oh! that I had but trusted some wise friend, whilst it was yet time, to save me from the folly of my own heart; and from this, — Alas! its bitter, — though deserved consequence.
For Heaven's sake, calm! —
Peace, Sir! — Your Master's Daughter, Adelinda D'Olstain, commands your silence! —
I am your Wife, Strasbourg! reflect what a deep suffering that will be to my whole family. I tremble to think, that you Sun, when next it rises, must view my noble Father maddening with rage at my misconduct, and my gentle, my indulgent Mother, dying with grief at my disgrace. — Has not my affection for you enough degraded me? — Must I, henceforth, be classed with the vilest of mankind! with Robbers? — Shall I, a Daughter of the noblest House in France, degenerate beyond all example, all belief —? Shall I become the confident, nay, the unprincipled accomplice, of my Father's plunderer? — No; were I peasant born, not the sharp pang of houseless poverty should tempt me to such base, such low-souled dishonesty — Go, Strasbourg! seek your own safety, fly! — I renounce you. — As for me, sooner will I brave death, from my father's sword, confessing at[Page 324] his feet, my fatal folly, than as a robber quit this sacred house. —
Adelinda, forgive me! — I thank, I applaud your delicacy — blushing, I own, that but for that, I should have acted less scrupulously. But in order to render myself less unworthy of you, I will adopt your principles. —
I will instantly replace this very large sum, and evermore thank my Adelinda, that I remain an honest man.
I am satisfied, Strasbourg! be it forgotten, I must leave you now.
Will Dorcas consent to receive us for a few days?
I have not yet seen her. She is gone out.
Oh! I have no doubt of her standing our friend.
Somebody is coming — I have a thousand fears, for when we left the Alcove, I thought I saw Lucy, and at no great distance. Yet it could not be she, as I had employed her elsewhere. I hope nobody saw us.
Oh, no! and if any body had seen us, of what consequence could that be. Adieu! I shall go this way through the back Hall.
Heigh ho! —
I am come instead of Lucy.
Because Lucy has been after other business elsewhere.
Then it was she, in the Garden; and perhaps she overheard us.
You may well be confused. You are found out. I know all. —
Heaven and Earth! What? How? Which way? — That devil Lucy! Dear, dear Flora! —
Why! I see that you have some conscience remaining by the changeable livery of your face, Red and White by turns — The Lilly and the Rose contending for empire. And I judge, that you have a hot fit, and a cold fit, to answer to your looks — but chiefly cold I conjecture; for by your shaking, and the chattering of your teeth, I think that you cannot be over warm. Sir! you are in my power.
Dear Flora! I do not understand you, you are mysterious.
Oh! but you shall understand me. You are in my power, I tell you. I can spring a mine, that will blow you up. Ruin hangs over your head — and that ruin will be as full, and as complete, as your worst foe could wish it —[Page 326]
Dear Flora! What do you tell me?
I could tell you how to get out of the scrape: but you are too proud to be advised. So, as my Duty binds me, I shall tell my Lord all that I know, and all that I think.
Indeed, Flora! you are mistaken. I — I — I have the highest love, that is the greatest veneration for you. I admire your advice — so, my dear Girl! let me conjure you to be my friend. You shall find me all duty and obedience, to whatever you advise, indeed you shall, and my gratitude shall be eternal. So now, my charmer! be my friend and counsellor, and tell me what I shall do.
Ah, Strasbourg! You can be civil enough, now I have you in my power. But remember this morning how insolent you were; and before my Lord too. I have not forgotten it, I promise you.
My sweet Flora! How can you set so little value upon yourself, as to suppose, that I was in earnest. Why did not you stay, and turn the tables upon me, with all that elegant wit, and charming dexterity, with which you always conquer, in any argument, whenever you please to maintain your ground? how could you he so childish, my dear Girl ▪ as to treat my innocent gaiety, as serious disrespect. Indeed I have the highest regard for you.
Well, Sir! convince me that you did no mean any harm, by changing your mode of behaviour towards me, for one a little more respectful and polite, and then you may expect my friendship.[Page 327]
I am very sorry, that you did not seriously tell me when first you perceived me wanting in respect and politeness towards you. My dear Flora! I am much obliged to you for the friendly concern that you shew, and I shall be very glad of your advice at all times, as I am sure, that you are blessed with a very superiour understanding.
Well then! in the First place, notwithstanding my Lady's interposition, my Lord peremptorily refuses to consent to your marrying Zella. And I tell you, if you attempt to plague the poor Girl with your courtship, after you are thus forbidden, my Lord shall know how you have slandered her, and what fine stories you have told to Lucy about his being in love with the poor girl, and of his plotting to seduce her. So you see how much you are in my power; and how near being ruined yourself.
Yes, as near as the King of Prussia is to being made Pope. And is this all?
All! If my Lord knew this all, you would have a fine downfall: but I am your friend. And I can manage my Lady; and make Lucy hold her tongue.
I am very much obliged to you, indeed, Flora! I am sure that I meant no harm. I only told Lucy what I saw, and what I heard, and what I thought, and what I suspected. And you know as well as I, that my Lord's heart is very easy of access to every handsome face. But if my Lord orders, and you advise me not to think of Zella — Why I have forgotten[Page 328] her — She would have a pretty fortune, it is true. But, my dear Flora! I shall not regret Zella; for I now feel, that my heart is powerfully fascinated by a most amiable woman, who, though she has very little, if any fortune, will I find make herself mistress of my everlasting love; one who has just convinced me, that she has the virtue, sense, and purity of an Angel. — My sweet Flora! I must leave you now: but remark what a change the next twenty-four hours will make in me; and how gratefully I shall prove my obligations to you, for giving me your advice, and thus kindly becoming my friend.
So! So! my fine gentleman! your heart will be mine at last. Now comes my turn to plague you. Well! he is a charming fellow, that is the truth of it. Then he is rich. And how liberal he is not to mind my having so little money — "His heart fascinates him to a most amiable woman, who has just convinced him, that she has the virtue, sense, and purity of an Angel. " — What an elegant way he has of turning a compliment. He is quite a fine Gentleman to be sure. "The virtue, sense, and purity of an Angel." Oh! bow I shall be envied, for many a heart aches, and will ache, for Monsieur Strasbourg.
Has not Strasbourg just left you? Is he very hurt, that his match with Zella is broken off?
No, not much, my Lord! I fancy, that he will easily console himself, notwithstanding Zella is such a charming Girl.
Indeed she is, Flora! I scarcely ever saw her peer in any rank in life, she is a divine assemblage of beauty, sweetness, and good sense.
What will you say of her beauty, my Lord! when you see how much better she looks, now she is dressed? — for your Lordship's orders have been complied with; and my Lady is now quite struck with her, as well as you are. She sent me to see where you were, that Zella might be shewn to you. Shall she come hither, my Lord?
No; I am engaged now. I am going into the Garden. In half an hour, send her into the Elm walk; the Count will be there, and I shall like to see if he will know her again, since, you say, that her dress has so changed her appearance.
Well, Madam Florrah! I could hardly balieve what the eyes of my own hade told me — Why how yow have transmogrified my Dartar — Why yow ba dizened har out till she looks of as grate magnification as the Queen of Shaba comed to visit King Solomon, in the fine Tapestry, in the grate Hall at Olstain.
Ah, Dorcas! have not I dressed her with great taste.
Ods! lickens! Yas. She is beautified from hade to foot, from top to toe — Gold, and musling, and Sattin, and pracious Stones, and Dimuns, of all sorts and colours — Why har gownd is all over sprinkled with glow wurrums. When I cumed home here the Sarvants told me she was in yar chamber: so bounce I want, bolt in — but when I sawed such a fine crature, I thought 't was some visitor cumed to the wadding, so I makes one of my bast curtsies, and says I, — I bag yar Laadyship's pardon, says I, but they told me my Darter was hare. And, whan I found 't was Zalla all that there foine, I could not halp jumping for joy — I ha bin looking at har avvar so long ▪ and Gammini! fathers and mothers! why what a foine presence she is, and how handsome drass makes har. Lord, Florrah! do drass me so, and sat me before a looking-glass; and I shall look at myself for a whole day long —[Page 331]
I thought you liked dress, Dorcas! you always dress so well, and mix colours with such taste.
So I dow — but this hare plane sattin jacket is northing to Zalla's fine long train — Well, I am sure I should think it quite a havvenly blissin for to be so magnanimously drassed — and what a foine, dasperate, beautiful highness I should look, with such grate flippity, flappaty feathers in my hade — I dar sa our fokes would take me for the Quean, and go down of thar knees to me — Do now, pray Madam Florrah, come and drass me up so; and whan I go home, I'll sand yow for a prasant, the gratest, biggest, bast chease, that I ha made all this whole sommer — 'T is a thumper, I promise yow, 't is bigger than the biggest church hassock, yow avvar seed in yar life — Come, wull yow now?
Another time, Dorcas! perhaps to-morrow, to dance at the Wedding.
Yes: but hush! here comes Adelinda; do n't tell her —
Noa! noa! mum for that — I shall like to show hur, what a foine Laady I should have been.
Nurse! I have wanted and wished to see you, and you must go out truly!
Marry, yas! I did not know as how, that I should ha the blissin to see yow agin to-day, arter yow bod me go to yar father; and so I axt his lave, and want out, arter business, whilst he talked to my Darter.
Flora! you may go.
Mademoiselle! I should be glad, if you would tell me a little more of my fortune first.
Flora! this sweetmeat box is full of spiders, Nurse is very fond of them; she eats them up like poached eggs. So you had better go, lest I persuade you to taste of them.
Only tell me first, when I am to hang myself upon the willow in the garden, for love of the sweet youth, who, you say, slights me. I should be much obliged to you to tell me the day and hour.
I am not sure of your having courage enough to do so very clever, and complimentary a thing; — but I can tell you a very extraordinary circumstance that will happen, just before you will have the greatest desire in the world, to oblige all your friends, by hanging yourself; whether you will be so kind to them, or not, is dubious, for the stars are silent, as to your being quite desperate.[Page 333]
Well! and what is this Phenommedra, that is to foretell my fate?
Why, twelve hours, before you will have a mind to hang yourself; a Lion's Whelp will walk tamely through the streets, waiting upon a Fox's Cub. — And, when you hear of this wonder, — then think upon my words. But till then, think of my box full of spiders. — Go, go, go! I will tell you no more now.
You are all in the wrong; for I shall not even wear the willow; much less hang upon it. So that your Lion's Whelp, and your Fox's Cub are all rhodomontade —
— Oh, no Spiders! I am gone.
I must see if she be not listening.
but now she sees. that she is suspected, she will not return to the charge, I presume.
No: she is gone for good now. Nurse! I have been so perplexed at your being out; I wished to see you. I want to talk with you; and to get you to do me a very great kindness.
Well, my dare young Laady! I'll do it to be sartain; what may it be? —[Page 334]
Your help will secure the peace and happiness of my whole life.
Hoh! than 't is something of very grate magnification!
Yes! 't is an affair of very great consequence: but swear to me to do it.
Well! to be sure I sholl.
Aye, but swear, Nurse!
Well! I swear, tan times over, to dow it, to plase yow.
And you must be very cautious, in the mean time, for one single word said will ruin me for ever.
The dowce it wull though! — Hoity toity! then 't is a woundy grate secret indeed?
Alas, Nurse! yes: and without your assistance, I must be miserable. — But do you love me as well as you used to do?
Yas! Yas! That I dow. I love yow as well as I dow the eyes in my hade: so my dare young Laady, tell me, in two words, what I can dow to make yow haappy, that I may dow it at once, with as much spurrit as good will — Come, tell, or how the dowce can I do it? — unless yow tache me to conjur and tell fortens.
Why, you must know, my dear Dorcas! that they are going to marry me. And that to-morrow is to be the day. So that I am half wild with vexation and grief.
Well! I know that yow are to be married[Page 335] to-morrow; that is no secret, avvary body in the house, all Paris, all Olstain, know it, my dare young Laady. And where is the grate misfortune, and grief of that?
It is the greatest misfortune and grief in the world to me, Nurse! for the Count, my Cousin, is designed for my Husband; and I hate and detest him.
That's right — for I do n't much like the match. And so yow do n't like him narther?
No, Nurse! because I like another, whom I love to distraction.
I am glad of it. — I am glad of it: thanks be to the praise, I am glad of it. — Well! and come tell me, is this other yow love so, some verraie grate man? — A Duke now? — Is it a Lord Duke? — I hope 't is; and I sholl jump out of my wits for joy; yas, that I sholl — I hope 't is a Lord Duke. They are avvary one of them, they say, Cousins** Archbishops and Dukes, when addressed in writing by the Kings of France have, from time immemorial, been styled, "Mon Cousin:" Whence this idea of Dorcas. to the King hisself. Therefore I should darely like that yow should marry a Duke, and be cater cousins to majesty. Oh lud! — Oh! the blissin of blissins! to be called cousin to the King. Faith! I navvar liked the match with yar Cousin. I ollost wanted yow to have married grander, and to batter yarself. —
Fie, Nurse! How came this into your head?[Page 336]
Oh! 't was for avvar my will and fancy that yow should be grate — my heart has ollost been sat upon it that yow should marry some grate, gormandising, grandissimo, and be a greater, biggerer, finerer, Laady than yar Marchioness Mother.
But the man whom I like is not of high rank, and I am so determined upon marrying him, that —
Are yow so intarminated, and positive, as that comes to? faith! —
I will tell you no more, Nurse! —
But yow sholl. I wull know the whole; yow have told me too much, for me to let yow stop short: tell me all, and this minute too; and I 'll pravant yar positive intarmination of marrying, I warrant yow.
Dorcas! whatever you may say, is too late, — too late to be regarded now; for —
Ods life! — I hold a wager yow are married awready. —
Yes, Nurse! I am married. And since —
Oh, all the davvils! hare's doings! — Here's a foine piece of work! Zounds! hare will be swearing and storming — Whew! the house will he too hot to hold me for one. — But I 'll cure it all. I 'll have yow unmarried. Godly's! that's what I will, as true as my name is Dorcas. — Oh! the davvil fly away with me, if I hant yow unmarried in the twirling of a mop-staff. — My Lord shall tell me how
Is this your great love for me, Dorcas? Have you then vowed my destruction? If you betray me, my death will be the certain consequence. — Think how very passionate my Father is: he will murder me in his rage, and your treachery will be the cause of my death.
I, the death on ye?
Certainly you will, if you betray me. Indeed, Nurse! I shall be murdered; and you will have it to answer for.
O Lord! O dear! O Lord! What sholl I do? my brain turns topsy turvy — I am all in a mist, I can't see — I am sick at heart — O dear! O dear! what will become of you? Tell my Lord? Tell my Lady? What shall I do? — She 's ruinated all ways. —
Did the Davvil set his cloven foot into yar heart, and make yow dow this to spite me? Te must be the Davvil's doing; he has long owed me a loaf, and now he pays me with a whole batch!
Dear Nurse! I conjure you to pity me; and to suffer me and my husband to be concealed in your house, for a few days. We have gold and jewels in abundance; and we will give you as much of them as you like.
But who is this Husband? Tell me that. — Who is it? Who is it, I say? Tell me this minute.
Stras — Stras — Strasbourg —[Page 338]
Who? Who? What? Say it again — do n't stammer — Speak! —! speak! — it can't be.
Strasbourg? a Sarvant! a Coxcomb! a Villain —
Take that — and that — and that — and that —
Are you mad, Dorcas?
Mad! Yas, mad with rage — cursedly mad — Sarpant — Davvil —
Keep your distance! — You forget yourself, Dorcas! — You mistake me for Zella. Behave with more respect.
I forget myself! — Yow sat me the bad example. Yow first lowered the Laady to a Sarvant — I trated yow, according as yow valued yarself — Whan a Laady do n't respact harself — I pray, come talle me, who respacts har? — Not Dorcas, for one, I promise ye.
But for pity's sake, Nurse! moderate your rage.
Do n't talk to me of pity —
Think what will become of me. — Think, if you betray us, what will be poor Strasbourg's fate.
Oh, a good hanging, thank God! — And sooner than he should go unhanged, I would commit Sacrifuge mysalf; and rob a Church of a Bell-rope, rather than he should want a halter —[Page 339] Oh, you shall be unmarried now by a rope's end: that's one comfort, howaver.
Heaven and earth! to what abjectness has my fatal folly brought me.
Some one is coming. For Heaven's sake, Dorcas! hold your tongue. My life is in your hands.
Whence this intrusion? — How dare you come when I ordered you away? —
'T is very hard, Flora! that I cannot speak to Nurse without your haunting me.
Lord, Mademoiselle! what are you in such a passion for? I do not want to haunt you. One of the Footmen was running into all the rooms to find you. So I, supposing that you were here still, took his message —
Well, dispatch! what is it?
A Man, who says that he is Zella's Uncle, begs very earnestly to see you. I wanted him to tell me his business; but he would not — I suppose he wants you to ask some favour from the Marquis; he says that he is his tenant.
Well, where is he?
In the dining parlour.
Dear Nurse! go and wait for me in my dressing-room.[Page 340]
No, my dear young Laady, let me go along with yow, I beg —
Well, you may, if you chuse it.
SCENE TENTH — A GARDEN.
Here comes the Count: but he seems in a very gloomy humour.
There is no room for doubt — Yet I would fain disbelieve it: but I cannot.
Count! I attend your summons; and here in the Garden, as you requested. But what has happened to you, my dear Cousin! you seem so agitated? Recover yourself.
I neither dare speak, nor yet be silent. I dread the furious transports of his rage. — My dear Marquis! I have an affair to divulge to you, which it imports you to be informed of. But before I will consent to speak, you must promise, — nay take a solemn Oath, — that you will stifle, and triumph over, the first impulses of painful feelings, which I am unfortunately obliged to excite.
Why this preamble?
Alas! it is but too requisite. — For I have a most cruel, heart-wounding affair to break to you.[Page 341]
Heavens! what can have happened, that requires such preparation?
What half distracts me — And you have not the least suspicion of it. Would to Heaven! that I could conceal from you, for ever, a secret which terrifies me; — and which, — my Lord! — dishonours our whole family.
Give me to know it! that my guardian sword may swift revenge the act which stains my honour. — What is it? who has dared invade it?
Sheath your Sword, my Lord! could that have made reparation, I would not have spoken, till mine had redeemed our honour. It would be a prodigy to hear with temper, or even patience, what I have to relate. Therefore, my dear Marquis! on your honour swear, that you will not listen to the first, violent emotions of your soul. Indeed, my Lord! you must make a noble effort to conquer yourself; in order to assist in searching to the bottom of a mysterious affair, the completion of which, — if it be not now too late to prevent it, — can only be prevented, without public dishonour, by the calmest prudence —; and, alas! one of the unhappy accomplices demands your tenderest humanity.
Who? Who is it? — Torture me not with suspense!
The terms, my Lord! or I am silent.
Well then, I swear, give you my solemn word of honour, that I will restrain myself within the bound of prudence. Now what am I to learn? —[Page 342]
A fact which staggers belief —
Tell me, at once, the worst.
Adelinda has the indiscretion to carry on a clandestine correspondence, with a Man whose specious manners have gained her affections.
Who has dared to attempt this?
Think, my Lord! of her extreme youth and inexperience, and let that consideration summon all the Father in your heart, when you shall hear the rest.
This caution makes me dread, I know not what, — Spare me a moment, lest I grow mad at hearing it. — Now speak the worst. —
Speak, I stand prepared. — I hope I do, for worse than I shall hear.
My honoured Kinsman, much I grieve to speak it — Strasbourg —
Strasbourg and Adelinda D'Olstain — Horrour! it cannot be. — My Daughter — carry on a clandestine correspondence with my Servant? — 't is impossible; it exceeds belief!
My Lord! had there been but one doubt in my mind, on which hope might have anchored; trust me, I would not thus have wrung a Father's heart. I have not spoken on bare suspicion, but upon unequivocal conviction, dreadful certainty.
My Daughter! my only child! to be the curse of my age! the dishonour of my house! — And dares my hireling Servant thus prophane my honour? — accursed Villain! — by my hand he dies!
My Lord! your oath to me —
I must have vengeance. Stay me not!
My dear Lord! that vengeance would only add poison to the wound. The detection of this affair, will enough punish the wretched aggressors.
How was this infernal correspondence discovered? Speak all you know!
Lucy, Adelinda's maid, suspected this strange connection, but dared not speak her suspicions. She determined to watch both my cousin and Strasbourg. She saw them this day, before dinner, in deep conference near the Alcove; they entered it, she drew near behind it. — She overheard enough of their conversation to find, that they intend to escape this night. —
The Villain! — You have prevented my taking justice on him myself —! but, thank Heaven! the Laws of France shall give me ample vengeance. A Public ignominious death is the awarded punishment for a crime like his. Ungrateful wretch! He whom I trusted as my confidential Servant, who was in duty bound to guard me from injury, yet He, whilst I sleep, turns Robber; steals my Child, and murders the peace, and honour of my whole family, by this vilely disgraceful seduction.
My Lord! you must forego even that justice, which the laws would give you. Strasbourg must not be put to death.
Who shall prevent it? — Though I have sworn, my Lord! not to be his executioner, I[Page 344] have taken no oath to screen him from the Laws. Justice shall take place.
My dear Lord! think only of what it will be best to do in this dark affair; and do not aggravate the disgrace, by proclaiming it through the world. Arm yourself with the requisite patience. If they be not yet married — (though I fear that they are) my Cousin may yet be saved.
Count! I feel your friendship and attachment in your conduct at this crisis; but for your prudence, my rage would even now flame out too impetuously for my judgment; and I should at this moment heed only my indignation and my vengeance. Prescribe my conduct; your reason can best guide in this deplorable affair? what can you advise? what must I do?
See Lucy, my Lord! and judge from her account, which, though certain as to their correspondence, and their intended flight, is not such as I could make out from — whether they be actually married. When you be certified as to that, command your anger sufficiently to see Strasbourg. — Insist upon his quitting the Kingdom for ever, as the sole means of exemption he can hope, from forfeiting his life, in an ignominious manner, to the offended laws of his country. Conceal this terrible affair from the Marchioness, till every remedy is applied, that can soften it to a Mother's too tender heart.
I will endeavour to do this; and to suppress my rage.
My Cousin! my Friend! The Son of my choice! — I —
— I release you fully, from every engagement with me upon this unhappy Girl's account. After this degeneracy, a marriage with her would dishonour you; without removing the stain from our house. Let your heart select a worthier partner. My Titles must be yours. And you can now no longer object to my settling my whole fortune upon you. Adelinda shall end her days in a Convent: — dishonoured by herself, she is but too justly disinherited by me.
Marquis! if you have any friendship for me, let it be shewn by your pity for my unfortunate Cousin. — Mitigate, I conjure you, her sentence. Let Strasbourg's exile be the sole forfeiture to save his life. Do not make poor Adelinda purchase it, by forcing her to take the Veil. Think of her youth! Do not cancel the strong, the sacred bond of parental love — let nature — pity — common humanity plead for her: — and do not irrevocably fix her fate in the first effusion of your grief and indignation. However wayward, Adelinda has a high strung mind, a noble soul, and a good heart. Let her not be lost: drive her not to utter desperation.
If I restrain the transports of my rage, 't is all that I can do — the very name of Father I disclaim. I am henceforth her judge. My soul is so stung by her infamous conduct, that if she were now before[Page 346] me, I fear it would be impossible for me, to refrain from even a Roman Justice on her guilty head; my reason would forsake me, and some rash act would be the fatal consequence. I leave you, Count! I will strive to compose myself: and then I will see this Villain.
I feel your distress, would I could alleviate it.
I dread the transports of his rage. Heaven grant, that he may be able to surmount them! Poor Adelinda! to what has her folly reduced her! — But what do I behold? — Is it you, Zella? What additional charms! Ah, my Angel! why are your eyes swimming in tears?
I have been weeping this hour, my Lord! at being thus disguised. 'Tis a sad mockery; and I am enough mortified at it. But is he not here?
Whom, Zella! do you seek?
The Marquis. I came by my Lady's order, all ashamed as I am, to present myself, this figure before him.
Oh! why is she a cottager? cruel custom! imperious honour!
How grieved he seems![Page 347]
The world will not censure me, if I win her heart, and then seduce her; — but if I marry her, the taunting finger of the hand of scorn will be for ever pointed at me, as one degraded and dishonoured by marrying a peasant.
Perhaps he is angry that I stay —
Zella, stay! —
My Lord! I am going to seek for Flora, whom I expected to find here, with the Marquis.
Then she will be here presently.
I will go and meet her.
Stay, Zella! I wish to speak with you. Know that I love and adore you, charming Zella! and that I must be miserable, unless I can win your heart.
My Lord! this language hurts, as much as it astonishes me.
Because my Lord does not maintain the honour of his own rank, thus infringing upon the decorum which my humble fortune has a right to expect even from him.
Stay, Zella! Ah! wherefore so much pride? why shun me?
Pardon me, my Lord! it is not pride; I am only grieved, that you have made it requisite for me to leave you now, and shun you hereafter.
Ah, cruel! shun me because I love you? For I must confess, that my heart burns with the most[Page 348] ardent passion for you.
I beg, my Lord! that you will permit me to go away. I can bear no part in such a conversation as this is, — I cannot listen to it.
O Zella! you must hear me; must listen to all the ardent wishes of my soul. Love fires my mind almost to madness. Zella! my passion shall know no bounds in its gratitude, if I can but win your heart. Whatever my fortune can purchase, or my interest command, shall wait upon your will: and every wish of your heart shall be indulged. My charming Girl! will you not, in pity, love me?
No, my Lord! nor even hear you, if I were at liberty to retire. Assure yourself that I shall never love or even pity you.
Cruel Girl! not pity that misery, which you yourself cause? Ah! give me at least a ray of hope, that I may win your heart, by my faithful attachment, my constant adoration. Look kindly on me! save me from despair!
My dear Lord! — Count! you terrify me. Awake from this dream! recover your senses! — I would fain esteem you. It would give me great pleasure, to have reason to respect you: but if you speak thus to me, it will not be in my power.
Zella! 'tis impossible to obey you! I have long loved you, and to adoration, admired your beauty and accomplishments; but I fled from your charms. I begged of my Sister to bring you no more to the[Page 349] grate with her. — I hoped that I had overcome my passion for you: but it was only stifled, not subdued. The seeing you thus unexpectedly has thrown my soul into tumults which I can scarcely support. But your coldness, your cruelty, — Are you then insensible to love and admiration?
I have heard too much of both. Release my hand, I beg of you, my Lord!
Zella! I dare not. If I release your hand, you will fly from me. What would I not give to subdue your cruelty, and to win your heart. — Ah! help me to restore my peace! Surely, my love may hope for your pity; if you will not reward it by a richer gift, — your heart. Say then, in kind commiseration for my suffering love, that you will pity me. Whence this fullen silence, this soul-piercing Scorn?
From the most poignant sensations; from Grief; from Shame; from Indignation; from hatred at your selfishness; from contempt at your meanness. How insidious are you, my Lord! thus pretending to admire my beauty, whilst you are seeking to destroy it; for by invading the innocent serenity of my bosom, you would cover my face with the pale hue of discontent, and drown my eyes with tears. How selfish and artful it is to plead your passion for me, which seeks only my destruction. How mean and contemptible to ask my love or implore my pity. Why should I love you? What pity, or what tenderness can my mind feel for you? You yourself, my Lord! now teach me what regard I ought to have for[Page 350] the repose of your heart, when you seek to plant endless torments in mine.
O Zella! think not thus hardly of me. Does not my love deserve some regard?
Oh, no! it makes you an object of detestation, not of affection. Pardon, my Lord! the disrespectful language which you force from me. Let me beg of you to retain that respect, which I wish to pay to you, by neither prolonging now, nor ever renewing this conversation. — Permit me to depart. — Lowly as I am, I have a right to be much offended at this insolent detension. The Count D'Olstain should be too noble to exert his privileges unjustly against the weak and defenceless. Unhand me, my Lord!
Zella! I beseech you hear me.
Kneeling I beg it. I ask no love. Hear me, I conjure you.
Why will you thus artfully distress me? Rise, my Lord! If kneeling would have prevented this conversation, most willingly would I have knelt; to save my mind from the pain, which the remembrance of it will for ever give me.
Zella! I knew not that I should see you here; — therefore I could have formed no fixed plan of villainy; and when I declared my love, I had no settled intentions: I doted on you to distraction; I would have given the empire of the world to gain your heart. And if you would have listened to my[Page 351] love; or had you condescended to parley with me; I own that I should have hoped to gain your affections: and, such is the difference of our Rank, I should have expected to win a Mistress, where the prejudices of the world did not permit me to chuse a Wife. —
My Lord! I feared that I was to understand all this. The repetition only wounds me further. There needs no explanation. I am enough hurt, enough distressed. —
Oh, stay! I will no further distress you! I have no libertine hopes: These initiatory advances, thus properly, thus indignantly repulsed, I can have none; that virtue, which will not parley, is not to be overcome. Accept of me, charming Zella! as an honourable Lover; and, if I can make myself an interest in your heart, I will take you to my arms, raise you to my rank, make you my Wife.
My Lord! — I cannot love you as you wish. Our hearts are not formed for each other. — Your own honour forbids you all connection with me. Lady Adelinda is your destined Bride.
Know, my sweet Zella! that I am at liberty to offer you my vows. The Marquis on this very spot, has just released me from all my engagements with my Cousin.
Ah! my Lord! what do you tell me?
Some family reasons have put an end to the projected marriage. Therefore, my love, as it is pure and honourable, cannot offend you now.[Page 352]
Your being at liberty, my Lord! cannot raise the lowliness of my birth, the abjectness of my situation.
And if it did, could you then love me? Answer me, Zella! let me flatter myself that you could; speak my Angel!
My Lord! as the thing itself is impossible, no answer can be made.
Are you then insensible even to a laudable ambition? Do you not wish to shine in a more elevated rank, where a soul like yours would find equal fellowship with cultivated spirits? Could you not take a generous pleasure in making the man who adores you happy?
Alas! I find, that birth and fortune would now indeed have charms for me.
I understand you; and I am delighted to believe —
O my Lord! believe nothing; do not deceive yourself; my heart must retain its indifference. It may be ambitious in its wishes, but it is rational in its expectations. I must converse with you no more. The World calls you the most amiable of men; — O my Lord! respect my peace of mind, and do not strive to make me think you so —
Yes, Zella! to make you think so, shall be the business of my life.
My Lord! the prejudices of the world will not permit you to think of me, — who am only a peasant's daughter, — without degradation to yourself —[Page 353]
My Love, charming Zella! shall defy the unjust prejudices of the World.
Never for me, my Lord! — for, were I even so unhappy as to esteem you as you wish, my mind is too high strung to bear the idea of dishonouring your rank, and consequence in society, by a disgraceful alliance every way unworthy of you. — Forget me, my Lord! I never will be your Wife. — I must, as bound in honour and duty, communicate this conversation to my Lord Marquis; and he will fix my future residence, where you, the Heir of all his titles, and the Representative of his illustrious House, shall never see me more. — Let your heart make a worthier choice. I will consecrate mine to my Maker, and dedicate my future days to his service. I will for ever renounce the world, but, though buried in the obscurity of a Cloister, the knowledge of your prosperity and happiness will sometimes pleasingly bring back my mind to the social scene of worldly affairs. Adieu! — farewell! my Lord!
Zella! cruel Zella!
SCENE FIRST — A GARDEN.
STOP, Dorcas! stop! for if you run to the world's end, I will follow you.
Well! here's the World's end for me; if yow continue obstinate.
Dear Dorcas! pray! —
Don't speak it, I won't hear it — I won't do it — and if yow don't go down of yar knees, and wish that yow may die if yow spake of it — why I'll drown'd mysalf. Here's the water — and I'll jump right in —
I intreat you, for Heaven's sake! —
Well! and I intrate yow; and I may as well have my way, as yow yars.
No, Dorcas, no! my way is that of[Page 355] honour, honesty, and justice — In the name of Heaven. I command you, if you hope for mercy here, or hereafter, go with me to my Angel Mother, and at her feet own the whole truth; own —
What! Own and be hanged? —
Trust me, that your only means to avoid it, is no longer to deserve it — Come then to the Marchioness; she is goodness itself — let her be happy; tell her —
Don't dar to spake it; I shall go right raving mad, dasparate if yow dow; and jump into the pond for all yar palavar — ta n't the first time, that I have drownded myself about this varry matter; and I'll dow it again, if yow purvoke me; as sure as can be, and if I do jump in, thank God! yow can't lug me out, as my husband did. —
Would to Heaven that he were here now. —
Hold yar tongue; and don't wish such profanatious things — Come now, hear rason — Yar Mother's fortune, my silly husband told me times and often, was sattled upon har dartar's — thare's none but yow; so 'tis all yar's — so lat har die and brake har heart — than yow'll have a whole twanty thousands of pounds, and be a laady beyond sea — and so now yow and Strasbourg shall run away, this varry blissed night, and hide yow at my house. — Now I'm sure you won't blab — Sha n't I have my own way now? —
No! — long, very long have I been a[Page 356] thorn in the bosom of this best of Mother's — but now that, thank Heaven! I can avoid it, I will not be the Serpent that shall sting her to death.
Why! what wull yow talle now, and be a sarvant's poor wife all yar life long?
I have chosen my own lot. Patiently can I eat the bread of poverty; but, though wandering through a wilderness of distress, never shall dishonesty bring me to shame, and make me chew the bitter weed of repentance — I never will consent.
Then I'll dash yar brains out.
Though I wish to live, I am not so much afraid of dying, as to be frightened by your threatening, into changing my purpose. — This crime shall not be concealed. I will divulge it. And believe me, that I would not thus beg of you to do it, but for the certainty, that there is nothing which will induce the Marquis to pardon you, but your own voluntary confession. — Think what you have to dread from his rage, if you will not strive to mitigate it. I will persuade you no longer. — I quit you to go and unravel this deep-laid iniquity.
Then I'll drown'd myself before yar face. — I'll jump into the pond diractly —