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Heaven's pay on earth for such great souls as I soon will follow; that which now disturbs thee Shall be cleared up, and thou shall not condemn
If fair and innocent, I am your due.
Leon. How, my lord! I interrupt you.
Alon. No, my best life! I must not part with
This hand is mineOh, what a hand is here!
So soft, souls sink into it, and are lost!
Leon. In tears, my lord?
Alon. What less can speak my joy?
I gaze, and I forget my own existence: 'Tis all a vision-my head swims in heaven! Wherefore! oh, wherefore this expence of beauty?
Why, I could gaze upon thy looks for ever,
And drink in all my being from thine eyes:
And I could snatch a flaming thunderbolt,
And hurl destruction!-
Leon. How, my lord! what mean you?
Acquaint me with the secret of your heart,
Or cast me out for ever from your love!
Alon. Art thou concerned for me?
Leon. My lord, you fright me.
Is this the fondness of your nuptial hour?
I am ill-used, my lord, I must not bear it.
Why, when I woo your hand, is it denied me?
Your very eyes, why are they taught to shun me?
Nay, my good lord, I have a title here,
[Taking his hand. And I will have it. Am not I your wife? Have not I just authority to know That heart which I have purchased with my own? Lay it before me then; it is my due. Unkind Alonzo! though I might demand it, Behold I kneel! See, Leonora kneels! And deigns to be a beggar for her own! Tell me the secret, I conjure you tell me. The bride foregoes the homage of her day, Alvarez' daughter trembles in the dust. Speak, then, I charge you speak, or I expire, And load you with my death! My lord, my
[Exit Leon. Oh, how like innocence she looks!-What, stab
And rush into her blood!I never can!
In her guilt shines, and nature holds my hand.
How then? Why thus-No more; it is deter-
Zan. I fear his heart has failed him. She must die.
Can I not rouse the snake that's in his bosom,
To sting our human nature, and effect it!
[Aside.. Alon. This vast and solid earth, that blazing
Those skies through which it rolls, must all have end!
What then is man? the smallest part of nothing! Day buries day, month month, and year the year— Our life is but a chain of many deaths!
Can, then, death's self be feared? our life much rather.
Life is the desert, life the solitude,
Death joins us to the great majority:
'Tis to be borne to Plato's, and to Cæsars;
'Tis to be great for ever;
'Tis pleasure, 'tis ambition then to die.
Zan. I think, my lord, you talked of death.
Alon. I did.
Zan. I give you joy, then Leonora's dead! Alon. No, Zanga, the greatest guilt is mine, 'Tis mine, who might have marked his midnight
Who might have marked her sudden turn of love:
These, and a thousand tokens more; and yet
(For which the saints absolve my soul!) did wed.
Zan. Where does this tend?
Alon. To shed a woman's blood Would stain my sword, and make my wars inglorious;
But just resentment to myself bears in it
A stamp of greatness above vulgar minds.
He, who, superior to the checks of nature,
Dares make his life the victim of his reason,
Does, in some sort, that reason deify,
And take a flight at Heaven.
'Tis not your reason, but her beauty finds
Those arguments, and throws you on your sword.
You cannot close an eye that is so bright;
You cannot strike a breast that is so soft,
That has ten thousand ecstacies in store
For Carlos No, my lord, I mean for you.
Alon. Oh, through my heart and marrow!
Prithee spare me;
Nor more upbraid the weakness of thy lord.
I own, I tried, I quarrelled with my heart,
And pushed it on, and bid it give her death;
But, oh, her eyes struck first, and murdered me!
Zan. I know not what to answer to my lord.
Men are but men; we did not make ourselves.
Farewell, then, my best lord, since you must die.
Oh, that I were to share your monument,
And in eternal darkness close these eyes
Against those scenes which I am doomed to suf- But to forget, and so to love again.
Alon. That thought has more of hell than had
Alon. What dost thou mean?
Zan. And is it then unknown?
Oh, grief of heart to think that you should ask it!
Sure you distrust that ardent love I bear you,
Else could you doubt when you are laid in dust-
But it will cut my poor heart through and through,
To see those revel on your sacred tomb,
Who brought you thither by their lawless loves.
For there they'll revel, and exult to find
Him sleep so fast, who else might mar their joys. |
Alon. Distraction!-But Don Carlos, well
Is sheathed in steel, and bent on other thoughts.
Zan. I'll work him to the murder of his friend.
Another, and another, and another!
And each shall cast a smile upon my tomb!
I am convinced; I must not, will not die.
Zan. You cannot die; nor can you murder her.
What then remains? In nature no third way,
The Greek and Roman name in such a lustre,
But doing right in stern despite to nature,
Shutting their ears to all her little cries,
When great, august, and godlike justice called?
At Aulis, one poured out a daughter's life,
And gained more glory than by all his wars;
Another slew his sister in just rage;
A third, the theme of all succeeding times,
Gave to the cruel axe a darling son.
Nay, more, for justice some devote themselves,
As he at Carthage, an immortal name!
Yet there is one step left above them all,
Above their history, above their fable,
A wife, bride, mistress, unenjoyed-do that,
And tread upon the Greek and Roman glory.
Alon. 'Tis done!- -Again new transports
I had forgot it, 'tis my bridal night.
Friend, give me joy, we must be gay together;
See that the festival be duly honoured.
And when with garlands the full bowl is crowned,
And music gives the elevating sound,
And golden carpets spread the sacred floor,
And a new day the blazing tapers pour;
Thou, Zanga, thou my solemn friends invite,
From the dark realms of everlasting night;
Call Vengeance, call the furies, call Despair,
And Death, our chief invited guest, be there;
He, with pale hand, shall lead the bride, and spread
Eternal curtains round our nuptial bed. [Exeunt.
Alon. Ou, pitiful! Oh, terrible to sight! Poor mangled shade! all covered o'er with wounds.
And so disguised with blood!- Who murdered thee?
Tell thy sad tale, and thou shalt be revenged.
Ha! Carlos?-Horror! Carlos?-Oh, away!
Go to the grave, or let me sink to mine.
I cannot bear the sight-What sight?-Where
There's nothing here-If this was fancy's work,
She draws a picture strongly.-
Zan. Ha!you're pale.
Alon. Is Carlos murdered?
Zan. I obeyed your order.
Six ruffians overtook him on the road;
He fought as he was wont, and four he slew.
Then sunk beneath an hundred wounds to death.
His last breath blest Alonzo, and desired
His bones might rest near yours.
Alon. Oh, Zanga! Zanga!
But I'll not think: for I must act, and thinking
Would ruin me for action. Oh, the medley
Of right and wrong! the chaos of my brain!
He should, and should not die-You should obey,
And not obey-It is a day of darkness,
Of contradictions, and of many deaths.
Where's Leonora, then? Quick, answer me:
I'm deep in horrors, I'll be deeper still.
I find thy artifice did take effect,
And she forgives my late deportment to her.
Zan. I told her, from your childhood you was
On any great surprise, but chiefly then
When cause of sorrow bore it company,
To have your passions shake the seat of reason;
A momentary ill, which soon blew o'er.
Then did I tell her of Don Carlos' death,
(Wisely suppressing by what means he fell)
And laid the blame on that. At first she
Sweet myrtles, and ye golden orange groves!
Why do you smile? Why do you look so fair?
Are ye not blasted as I enter in?
Yes, see how every flower lets fall its head!
How shudders every leaf without a wind!
How every green is as the ivy pale!
Did ever midnight ghosts assemble here?
Have these sweet echoes ever learned to groan?
Joy-giving, love-inspiring, holy bower!
Know, in thy fragrant bosom thou receivest
Amurderer! Oh, I shall stain thy lilies,
And horror will usurp the seat of bliss.
So Lucifer broke into paradise,
And soon damnation followed. [He advances.]
Ha! she sleeps-
The day's uncommon heat has overcome her.
Then take, my longing eyes, your last full gaze.
Oh, what a sight is here! how dreadful fair!
Who would not think that being innocent?
Where shall I strike? Who strikes her, strikes
My own life-blood will issue at her wound.
Oh, my distracted heart!—Oh, cruel Heaven!
To give such charms as these, and then call man,
Mere man, to be your executioner.
doubt-Was it because it was too hard for you?
But such the honest artifice I used,
And such her ardent wish it should be true,
That she, at length, was fully satisfied.
Alon. 'Twas well she was. In our late inter-
My passion so far threw me from my guard,
(Methinks 'tis strange) that, conscious of her guilt,
She saw not, through its thin disguise, my heart.
Zan. But what design you, sir, and how?
Alon. I'll tell thee.
Thus I've ordained it. In the jasmine bower,
The place which she dishonoured with her guilt,
There will I meet her; the appointment's made;
And calmly spread (for I can do it now)
The blackness of her crime before her sight,
And then, with all the cool solemnity
Of public justice, give her to the grave.
Zan. Why, get thee gone! horror and night go
Sisters of Acheron, go hand in hand;
Go dance around the bower, and close them in;
And tell them that I sent you to salute them.
Profane the ground, and for th' ambrosial rose,
And breath of jasmine, let hemlock blacken,
And deadly nightshade poison all the air.
For the sweet nightingale may ravens croak,
Toads pant, and adders rustle through the leaves;
May serpents, winding up the trees, let fall
Their hissing necks upon them from above,
And mingle kisses--such as I could give them.
SCENE II.-The bower.
LEONORA sleeping. Enter ALONZO.
Alon. Ye amaranths! ye roses, like the morn!
But see, she smiles! I never shall smile more.
It strongly tempts me to a parting kiss.
[Going, he starts back. Ha! smile again. She dreams of him she loves. Curse on her charms! I'll stab her through them all. [As he is going to strike, she wakes. Leon. My lord, your stay was long, and yonder Jull
Of falling waters tempted me to rest,
Dispirited with noon's excessive heat.
Alon. Ye powers! with what an eye she mends
While they were closed, I should have given the
Oh, for a last embrace! and then for justice:
Thus, Heaven and I shall both be satisfied.
Leon. What says my lord!
Alon. Why this Alonzo says;
If love were endless, men were gods; 'tis that
Does counterbalance travel, danger, pain-
'Tis Heaven's expedient to make mortals bear
The light, and cheat them of the peaceful grave.
Leon. Alas, my lord! why talk you of the
Your friend is dead in friendship you sustain
A mighty loss; repair it with my love.
Alon. Thy love, thou piece of witchcraft! I
Thou brightest angel! I could gaze for ever.
Where hadst thou this, enchantress, tell me where,
Which, with a touch, works miracles, boils up
My blood to tumults, and turns round my brain?
Even now thou swim'st before me. I shall lose
No, I will make thee sure, and clasp thee all.
Who turned this slender waist with so much art,
And shut perfection in so small a ring?
Who spread that pure expanse of white above,
On which the dazzled sight can find no rest,
But, drunk with beauty, wanders up and down
For ever, and for ever finds new charms?
But oh, those eyes! those murderers! Oh, whence,
Whence didst thou steal their burning orbs? From heaven?
Thou didst; and 'tis religion to adore them.
Leon. My best Alonzo, moderate your thoughts; Extremes still fright me, though of love itself. Alon. Extremes indeed! it hurried me away; But I come home again—and now for justiceAnd now for death-It is impossible
Sure such were made by Heaven guiltless to sin, Or in their guilt to laugh at punishment. [Aside. I leave her to just Heaven.
[Drops the dagger, and goes off.
Leon. Ha, a dagger! What dost thou say, thou minister of death? What dreadful tale dost tell me?Let me think
Zan. Death to my towering hopes! Oh, fall from high !
My close, long-laboured scheme at once is blasted.
That dagger, found, will cause her to enquire;
Enquiry will discover all; my hopes
Of vengeance perish; I myself am lost-
Curse on the coward's heart! wither his hand,
Which held the steel in vain!-What can be
Where can I fix?-That's something still-'twill breed
Fell rage and bitterness betwixt their souls, Which may, perchance, grow up to greater evil: If not, 'tis all I can-It shall be so
Alon. Oh, Zanga, hold thy peace! I am no coward;
But Heaven itself did hold my hand; I felt it,
By the well-being of my soul, I did.
I'll think of vengeance at another season.
Zan. My lord, her guilt-
Alon. Perdition on thee, Moor,
For that one word! Ah, do not rouse that thought!
I have o'erwhelmed it as much as possible :
Away, then, let us talk of other things.
I tell thee, Moor, I love her to distraction.
If 'tis my shame, why, be it so I love her;
Nor can I help it; 'tis imposed upon me
By some superior and resistless power.
I could not hurt her to be lord of earth;
It shocks my nature like a stroke from Heaven.
Angels defend her, as if innocent.
But see, my Leonora comes-Begone.
Oh, seen for ever, yet for ever new!
The conquered thou dost conquer o'er again,
Inflicting wound on wound.
Leon. Alas, my
What need of this to me?
Alon. Ha! dost thou weep?
Leon. Have I no cause?
Alon. If love is thy concern,
Thou hast no cause: none ever loved like me.
But wherefore this? Is it to break my heart,
Which loses so much blood for every tear?
Leon. Is it so tender?
Alon. Is it not? Oh, Heaven!
Doubt of my love! Why, I am nothing else;
It quite absorbs my every other passion.
Oh, that this one embrace would last for ever!
Leon. Could this man ever mean to wrong my
Could this man e'er design upon my life? Impossible! I throw away the thought. [Aside. These tears declare how much I taste the joy
Of being folded in your arms and heart;
My universe does lie within that space.
This dagger bore false witness.
Alon. Ha, my dagger!
It rouses horrid images. Away,
Away with it, and let us talk of love,
Plunge ourselves deep into the sweet illusion,
And hide us there from every other thought.
Leon. It touches you.
Alon. Let's talk of love.
Leon. Of death!
Alon. As thou lov'st happiness-
Leon. Of murder!
Rash woman! yet forbear.
Leon. Approve my wrongs!
Alon. Then must I fly, for thy sake and my
Leon. Nay, by my injuries, you first must
Stab me, then think it much to hear my groan!
Alon. Heaven strike me deaf!
Leon. It well may sting you home.
Leon. This to my face! Oh, Heaven!
Alon. This to thy very soul.
Leon. Thou art not in earnest?
Alon. Serious as death.
Leon. Then Heaven have mercy on thee.
Till now, I struggled not to think it true;
I sought conviction, and would not believe it.
And dost thou force me? This shall not be
Thou shalt repent this insult.
Alon. Madam, stay.
Your passion's wise; 'tis a disguise for guilt:
'Tis my turn now to fix you here awhile;
You and your thousand arts shall not escape me.
Alon. Arts. Confess; for death is in my hand.
Leon. 'Tis in your words.
Alon. Confess, confess, confess!
Nor tear my veins with passion to compel thee. Leon. I scorn to answer thee, presumptuous man!
Alon. Deny, then, and incur a fouler shame.
Alon. Alas, thou quite mistak'st my cause of Where did I find this picture? pain!
Yet, yet dismiss me; I am all in flames.
Leon. Who has most cause, you or myself?
Of my whole life encouraged you to this?
Or of your own, what guilt has drawn it on you?
You find me kind, and think me kind to all;
The weak, ungenerous error of your sex.
What could inspire the thought? We oftenest
Fom our own hearts; and is yours then so
It prompts you to conceive thus ill of me?
He that can stoop to harbour such a thought,
Deserves to find it true.
Alon. Oh, sex, sex, sex! [Turning on her.
The language of you all. Ill-fated woman!
Why hast thou forced me back into the gulf
Of agonies I had blocked up from thought?
I know the cause; thou saw'st me impotent
Ere while to hurt thee, therefore thou turn'st on
But, by the pangs I suffer, to thy woe:
For, since thou hast replunged me in my torture,
I will be satisfied.
Weak and assured at once! thus 'tis for ever.
Who told thee that thy virtue was suspected?
Who told thee I designed upon thy life?
You found the dagger; but that could not speak:
Nor did I tell thee; who did tell thee, then?
By my best hopes, more welcome than thy own.
Alon. I know it; but is vice so very rank,
That thou shouldst dare to dash it in my face?
Nature is sick of thee, abandoned woman!
Alon. Is that for me?
Leon. Fall, ask my pardon.