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Pier. I passed this very moment by thy doors,
And found them guarded by a troop of villains:
The sons of public rapine were destroying.
They told me, by the sentence of the law,
They had commission to seize all thy fortune:
Nay, more, Priali's cruel hand had signed it.
Here stood a ruffian with a horrid face,
Lording it o'er a pile of massy plate,
Tumbled into a heap for public sale;
There was another, making villainous jests
At thy undoing: he had taken possession
Of all thy ancient, most domestic, ornaments,
Rich hangings intermixed and wrought with gold;
The very bed, which on thy wedding-night
Received thee to the arms of Belvidera,
The scene of all thy joys, was violated
By the coarse hands of filthy dungeon villains,
And thrown amongst the common lumber.
Jaf. Now thank heaven-

Pier. Thank heaven! for what?
Juf. That I am not worth a ducat.

Pier. Curse thy dull stars, and the worse fate of Venice,

Where brothers, friends, and fathers, are all false; Where there's no truth, no trust; where inno


Stoops under vile oppression, and vice lords it.
Hadst thou but seen, as I did, how at last
Thy beauteous Belvidera, like a wretch
That's doomed to banishment, came weeping

Shining through tears, like April suns in showers, That labour to o'ercome the cloud that loads them;

Whilst two young virgins, on whose arms she leaned,

Kindly looked up, and at her grief grew sad,
As if they catched the sorrows, that fell from her;
Even the lewd rabble, that were gathered round
To see the sight, stood mute, when they beheld

Governed their roaring throats, and grumbled pity;

I could have hugged the greasy rogues: they pleased me.

Jaf. I thank thee for this story, from my soul; Since now I know the worst, that can befal me. Ah, Pierre! I have a heart, that could have borne The roughest wrong, my fortune could have done


But, when I think what Belvidera feels,
The bitterness her tender spirit tastes of,
I own myself a coward: bear my weakness:
If, throwing thus my arms about thy neck,
I play the boy, and blubber in thy bosom.
Oh! I shall drown thee with my sorrows.
Pier. Burn,

First burn and level Venice to thy ruin!
What! starve, like beggars' brats, in frosty wea-


Under a hedge, and whine ourselves to death! Thou, or thy cause, shall never want assistance,

Whilst I have blood or fortune fit to serve thee: Command my heart! thou art every way its mas


Jaf. No, there's a secret pride in bravely dying. Pier. Rats die in holes and corners; dogs run mad:

Man knows a braver remedy for sorrow—
Revenge, the attribute of gods; they stamped it
With their great image on our natures.
Consider well the cause, that calls upon thee :
And, if thou art base enough, die then. Remem-

Thy Belvidera suffers; Belvidera!

Die-damn first-What! be decently interred
In a church-yard, and mingle thy brave dust
With stinking rogues, that rot in winding-sheets,
Surfeit-slain fools, the common dung of the soil!
Jaf. Oh!

Pier. Well said, out with it, swear a littleJaf. Swear! by sea and air; by earth, by heaven and hell,

I will revenge my Belvidera's tears.

Hark thee, my friend-Priuli-is-a senator.
Pier. A dog.

Jaf. Agreed.

Pier. Shoot him.

Jaf. With all my heart.

No more; where shall we meet at night?
Pier. I'll tell thee;

On the Rialto, every night at twelve,

I take my evening's walk of meditation; There we two will meet, and talk of precious Mischief

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If thou art altered, where shall I have harbour? | Endure the bitter gripes of smarting poverty? Where ease my loaded heart? Oh! where complain?

Bel. Does this appear like change, or love decaying,

When thus I throw myself into thy bosom,
With all the resolution of strong truth!
Beats not my heart, as 'twould alarum thine
To a new charge of bliss?—I joy more in thee,
Than did thy mother, when she hugged thee first,
And blessed the Gods for all her travail past.
Jaf. Can there in woman be such glorious

Sure all ill stories of thy sex are false !

Oh woman! lovely woman! Nature made thee To temper man: we had been brutes without you!

Angels are painted fair to look like you:
There's in you all, that we believe of heaven;
Amazing brightness, purity and truth,
Eternal joy, and everlasting love.

Bel. If love be treasure, we'll be wondrous

I have so much, my heart will surely break with it:
Vows can't express it. When I would declare
How great my joys, I'm dumb with the big

I swell, and sigh, and labour with my longing.
O! lead me to some desert wide and wild,
Barren as our misfortunes, where my soul
May have its vent, where I may tell aloud
To the high heavens, and every list'ning planet,
With what a boundless stock my bosom's fraught;
Where I may throw my eager arms about thee,
Give loose to love, with kisses kindling joy;
And let off all the fire, that's in my heart.

Jaf. Oh, Belvidera! doubly I am a beggar:
Undone by fortune, and in debt to thee.
Want, worldly want, that hungry meagre fiend,
Is at my heels, and chaces me in view.
Canst thou bear cold and hunger? Can these limbs,
Framed for the tender offices of love,

When banished by our miseries abroad
(As suddenly we shall be), to seek out
In some far climate, where our names are

For charitable succour; wilt thou then,
When in a bed of straw we shrink together,
And the bleak winds shall whistle round our

Wilt thou then talk thus to me? Wilt thou then
Hush my cares thus, and shelter me with love?

Bel. Oh! I will love thee, even in madness

love thee;

Though my distracted senses should forsake me,
I'd find some intervals, when my poor heart
Should 'swage itself, and be let loose to thine.
Though the bare earth be all our resting-place,
Its roots our food, some clift our habitation,
I'll make this arm a pillow for thy head;
And, as thou sighing liest, and swelled with


Creep to thy bosom, pour the balm of love
Into thy soul, and kiss thee to thy rest;
Then praise our God, and watch thee till the

Jaf. Hear this, you heavens ! and wonder how you made her :

Reign, reign, ye monarchs, that divide the world;
Busy rebellion ne'er will let you know
Tranquillity and happiness like mine!
Like gaudy ships the obsequious billows fall,
And rise again, to lift you in your pride;
They wait but for a storm, and then devour you;
I, in my private bark already wrecked,
Like a poor merchant driven to unknown land,
That had by chance packed up his choicest trea-


In one dear casket, and saved only that;
Since I must wander further on the shore,
Thus hug my little, but my precious store,
Resolved to scorn and trust my fate no more.

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To foil himself at what he is unfit for;
Because I force myself to endure and suffer him,
Thinkest thou, I love him? No; by all the joys
Thou ever gavest me, his presence is my penance.
The worst thing an old man cau be is a lover,
A mere memento mori to poor woman.
I never lay by his decrepid side,
But all that night I pondered on my grave.
Pier. Would he were well sent thither!
Aqui. That's my wish too:

For then, my Pierre, I might have cause, with

To play the hypocrite. Oh! how I could weep
Over the dying dotard, and kiss him too,

In hopes to smother him quite; then, when the

Was come to pay my sorrows at the funeral,
(For he has already made me heir to treasures
Would make me out-act a real widow's whining)
How could I frame my face to fit my mourning!
With wringing hands attend him to his
Fall swooning on his hearse; take mad possession
Even of the dismal vault, where he lay buried;
There, like the Ephesian matron, dwell, till thou,
My loveliest soldier, comest to my deliverance;
Then, throwing up my veil, with open arms
And laughing eyes, run to new-dawning joy.
Pier. No more: I've friends to meet me here

And must be private. As you prize my friend-

Keep up your coxcomb; let him not pry, nor lis-

Nor frisk about the house, as I have seen him,
Like a tame mumping squirrel with a bell on;
Curs will be abroad to bite him, if you do.
Aqui. What, friends to meet! Mayn't I be of
your council?

Pier. How! a woman ask questions out of bed!
Go to your senator; ask him what passes
Amongst his brethren; he'll hide nothing from


But pump not me for politics. No more!
Give order, that whoever in my name
Comes here, receive admittance. So good-night,
Aqui. Must we ne'er meet again? embrace no

Is love so soon and utterly forgotten?

Pier. As you henceforward treat your fool,
I'll think on't.

Aqui. Cursed be all fools-I die, if he for-
sakes me;

And how to keep him, Heaven or hell instruct ne!

SCENE II.-The Rialto.



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like these,

But entertained each other's thoughts like men,
Whose souls were well acquainted. Is the world
Reformed, since our last meeting? What new

Jaf. I am here; and thus, the shades of night Have happened? Has Priuli's heart relented?

around me,

I look as if all hell were in my heart,

And I in hell. Nay surely 'tis so with me!

Can he be honest?

Jaf. Kind Heaven, let heavy curses

Gall his old age; cramps, aches, rack his bones,


And bitterest disquiet wring his heart!
Oh! let him live, till life become his burden!
Let him groan under it long, linger an age
In the worst agonies and pangs of death,
And find its ease, but late!

Pier. Nay, couldst thou not

As well, my friend, have stretched the curse to all

The senate round, as to one single villain?

Jaf. But curses stick not: Čould I kill with cursing,

By Heaven I know not thirty heads in Venice
Should not be blasted. Senators should rot,
Like dogs on dunghills: But their wives and

Die of their own diseases. Oh! for a curse
To kill with!

Pier. Daggers, daggers are much better.
Jaf. Ha!

Pier. Daggers.

Juf. But where are they?

Pier. Oh! a thousand

May be disposed of, in honest hands, in Venice. Jaf. Thou talkest in clouds.

Pier. But yet a heart, half wronged

As thine has been, would find the meaning, Jaffier.

Jaf. A thousand daggers, all in honest hands! And have not I a friend will stick one here! Pier. Yes, if I thought thou wert not to be cherished

To a nobler purpose, I would be that friend;
But thou hast better friends; friends, whom thy

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Jaf. When thou wouldst bind me, is there need of oaths?

For thou'rt so near my heart, that thou may'st see
Its bottom, sound its strength and firmness to thee.
Is coward, fool, or villain in my face?
If I seem none of these, I dare believe
Thou wouldst not use me in a little cause,
For I am fit for honour's toughest task,
Nor ever yet found fooling was my province;
And for a villanous inglorious enterprize,
I know thy heart so well, I dare lay mine
Before thee, set it to what point thou wilt.

Pier. Nay, 'tis a cause thou wilt be fond of,


For it is founded on the noblest basis; Our liberties, our natural inheritance.

There's no religion, no hypocrisy in it;


Openly act a deed, the world shall gaze
With wonder at; and envy, when 'tis done.
Jaf. For liberty!

Pier. For liberty, my friend.

Thou shalt be freed from base Priuli's tyranny,
And thy sequestered fortunes healed again:
I shall be free from those opprobrious wrongs,
That press me now, and bend my spirit down-

All Venice free, and every growing merit
Succeed to its just right: fools shall be pulled
From wisdom's seat: those baleful unclean birds,
Those lazy owls, who, perched near fortune's

Sit only watchful with their heavy wings To cuff down new-fledged virtues, that would rise

To nobler heights, and make the grove harmo


Jaf. What can I do?

Pier. Canst thou not kill a senator?

Jaf. Were there one wise or honest, I could

kill him,

For herding with that nest of fools and knaves. By all my wrongs, thou talkest as if revenge Were to be had; and the brave story warms me. Pier. Swear, then!

Juf. I do, by all those glittering stars, And yon great ruling planet of the night; By all good powers above, and ill below; By love and friendship, dearer than my life, No

power or death shall make me false to thee. Pier. Here we embrace, and I'll unlock my heart.

A council is held hard by, where the destruction Of this great empire is hatching: there I'll lead


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A wretch can build on! It is, indeed, at distance, A goodly prospect, tempting to the view;

We'll do the business, and ne'er fast and pray for it; The height delights us, and the mountain top

Looks beautiful, because 'tis nigh to heaven;
But we ne'er think how sandy the foundation,
What storm will batter, and what tempest shake


Who's there?


Spin. Renault, good-morrow, for by this time I think the scale of night has turned the balance, And weighs up morning. Has the clock struck twelve?

Ren. Yes; Clocks will go as they are set: but man,

Irregular man's ne'er constant, never certain :
I have spent at least three precious hours of dark-


In waiting dull attendance; 'tis the curse
Of diligent virtue to be mixed, like mine,
With giddy tempers, souls but half resolved.
Spin. Hell seize that soul amongst us it can

Ren. What's then the cause, that I am here alone?

Why are we not together?

O, sir, welcome!

Enter ELIOT.

You are an Englishman: when treason's hatching,

One might have thought you'd not have been behindhand.

In what whore's lap have you been lolling?
Give but an Englishman his whore and ease,
Beef, and a sea-coal fire, he's yours for ever.
Eli. Frenchman, you are saucy.
Ren. How!

Enter BEDAMAR the Ambassador, THEODORE,
Bed. At difference? fie!

Is this a time for quarrels? Thieves and rogues Fall out and brawl: should men of your high calling,

Men separated by the choice of Providence
From the gross heap of mankind, and set here
In this assembly as in one great jewel,
To adorn the bravest purpose it e'er smiled on;
Should you, like boys, wrangle for trifles?
Ren. Boys!

Bed. Renault, thy hand.

Ren. I thought I'd given my heart Long since to every man, that mingles here; But grieve to find it trusted with such tempers, That can't forgive my froward age its weakness. Bed. Eliot, thou once had'st virtue. I have

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Oh, Pierre! thou art welcome. Come to my breast! for, by its hopes, thou look'st Lovelily dreadful, and the fate of Venice Seems on thy sword already. Oh, my Mars! The poets, that first feigned the god of war, Sure prophesied of thee.

Pier. Friend, was not Brutus

(I mean that Brutus, who, in open senate, Stabbed the first Cæsar that usurped the world) A gallant man?

Ren. Yes, and Catiline too;

Though story wrong his fame: for he conspired
To prop the reeling glory of his country:
His cause was good.

Bed. And our's as much above it,
As, Renault, thou art superior to Cethegus,
Or Pierre to Cassius.

Pier. Then to what we aim at.

When do we start? or must we talk for ever? Bed. No, Pierre, the deed's near birth; fate seems to have set

The business up, and given it to our care;
I hope there's not a heart or hand amongst us,
But is firm and ready.

All. All.

We will die with Bedamar.

Bed. O men!

Matchless! as will your glory be hereafter:
The game is for a matchless prize, if won,
If lost, disgraceful ruin.

Ren. What can lose it?

The public stock's a beggar; one Venetian
Trusts not another. Look into their stores
Of general safety: empty magazines,
A tattered fleet, a murmuring unpaid army,
Bankrupt nobility, a harassed commonalty,
A factious, giddy, and divided senate,
Is all the strength of Venice: let's destroy it;
Let's fill their magazines with arms to awe them;
Man out their fleet, and make their trade main-

tain it;

Let loose the murmuring army on their masters, To pay themselves with plunder; lop their nobles

To the base roots, whence most of them first sprung;

Enslave the rout, whom smarting will make humble;

Turn out their droning senate, and possess That seat of empire, which our souls were framed for.

Pier. Ten thousand men are armed at your nod, Commanded all by leaders fit to guide

A battle for the freedom of the world:

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