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O. Wilm. Nor would I live to see it-But dis- | patch. [Exit Agnes. Where must I charge this length of misery, That gathers force each moment as it rolls, And must at last o'erwhelm me, but on hope: Vain, flattering, delusive, groundless hope, That has for years deceived me?-Had I thought As I do now, as wise men ever think, When first this hell of poverty o'ertook me, That power to die implies a right to do it, And should be used when life becomes a pain, What plagues had I prevented!-True, my wife Is still a slave to prejudice and fearI would not leave my better part, the dear
Faithful companion of my happier days,
Enter AGNES, and after her Young WILMOT.
Y. Wilm. You are, I presume,
[Gives a letter.
O. Wilm. [Having read the letter.] -Sir, such welcome
As this poor house affords, you may command. Our ever friendly neighbour-Once we hoped To have called fair Charlotte by a dearer name, But we have done with hope-I pray excuse This incoherence-We had once a son. [Weeps. Agn. That you are come from that dear virtuous maid,
Revives in us the memory of a loss, Which, though long since, we have not learned to bear.
Y. Wilm. The joy to see them, and the bitter
It is to see them thus, touches my soul
-They know me not, and yet I shall, I fear, Defeat my purpose, and betray myself. [Aside. O. Wilm. The lady calls you here her valued friend;
Enough, though nothing more should be implied,
But she, perhaps, has purposed to errich
Who only favours youth, as feeble age
To dry our tears, and dissipate despair.
Agn. The last and most abandoned of our kind,
By heaven and earth neglected or despised,
Y. Wilm. Let ghosts unpardoned, or devoted
Fear without hope, and wail in such sad strains;
O. Wilm. This I have heard a thousand times
And have, believing, been as oft deceived.
Y. Wilm. Behold in me an instance of its truth. At sea twice shipwrecked, and as oft the prey Of lawless pirates; by the Arabs thrice Surprized, and robbed on shore; and once reduced
To worse than these, the sum of all distress
O. Wilm. A rare example
Of fortune's changes; apter to surprise
Agn. Alas! Who knows,
But we were rendered childless by some storm, In which you, though preserved, might bear a part?
Y. Wilm. How has my curiosity betrayed me Into superfluous pain! I faint with fondness; And shall, if I stay longer, rush upon them, Proclaim myself their son, kiss and embrace them, Till, with the excess of pleasure and surprize, Their souls, transported, their frail mansions quit, And leave them breathless in my longing arms. By circumstances then and slow degrees, They must be let into a happiness, Too great for them to bear at once, and live: That Charlotte will perform. I need not feign To ask an hour for rest. [Aside.] Sir, I intreat The favour to retire, where for a while I may repose myself. You will excuse This freedom, and the trouble that I give you. 'Tis long since I have slept, and nature calls.
O. Wilm. I pray no more: Believe we're only troubled,
That you should think any excuse were needful. Y. Wilm. The weight of this to me is some incumbrance,
[Takes a casket out of his bosom, and gives it to his mother.
And its contents of value: If you please
To take the charge of it 'till I awake,
I shall not rest the worse. If I should sleep 'Till I am asked for, as perhaps I may,
I beg that you would wake me.
Distracted as I am with various woes,
What ravage has it made! how has it changed Her lovely form and mind! I feel her anguish, And dread I know not what from her despair. My father too grant them patience, Hea
A little longer, a few short hours more,
I shall remember that. [Exit, with Old Wilmot. And all their cares, and mine, shall end for ever. Y. Wilm. Merciless grief!
He says it is of value, and yet trusts it,
It is not what he says-I am strongly tempted
My eyes are dazzled, and my ravished heart Leaps at the glorious sight. How bright's the lustre,
And how immense the worth, of these fair jewels!
At our approach, and once more bend before us.
The bright temptation, and I see it yet-
Why am I thrilled with horror? Tis not choice,
Enter Old WILMOT.
O. Wilm. The mind contented, with how little pains
The wandering senses yield to soft repose !
And with a look, that pierced me to the soul, Begged me to comfort thee: And-dost thou hear me?
What art thou gazing on? Fie, 'tis not well.
Agn. And who shall know it?
O. Wilm. There is a kind of pride, a decent dignity
Due to ourselves; which, spite of our misfortunes,
May be maintained, and cherished to the last.
Agn. Shews sovereign madness, and a scorn of
Pursue no farther this detested theme:
O. Wilm. To chase a shadow, when the setting
Is darting his last rays, were just as wise
Now the last means for its support are failing:
Die how you will, you shall not die alone.
O Wilm. There is no fear of that.
O. Wilm. Strange folly? where the means?
O. Wilm. Ha! Take heed!
Perhaps thou dost but try me-yet take heed! There's nothing so monstrous but the mind of
Agn. 'Tis less impiety, less against nature, To take another's life, than end our own.
O. Wilm. No matter which, the less or greater crime :
Howe'er we may deceive ourselves or others,
Or none could act amiss: and that all err,
For our own preservation.
O. Wilm. Rest contented:
Agn. Then nought remains
But the swift execution of a deed,
That is not to be thought on, or delayed
O. Wilm. Generous unhappy man! O! what could move thee
To put thy life and fortune in the hands
Shall we effect his death?
O. Wilm. Why, what a fiend!
How cruel, how remorseless and impatient
Agn. Barbarous man!
Whose wasteful riots ruined our estate,
And drove our son, ere the first down had spread His rosy cheeks, spite of my sad presages, Earnest intreaties, agonies, and tears,
And bring me word, if he be still asleep.
Or I'm deceived, or he pronounced himself
He'll never know the loss,
Nor feel the bitter pangs of disappointment-
Is all the happiest of mankind can hope for.
Enter AGNES with YOUNG WILMOT's dagger. Agn. The stranger sleeps at present; but so restless
His slumbers seem, they can't continue long.
O. Wilm. O Agnes! Agnes! if there be a hell,
'Tis just we should expect it.
[Goes to take the dagger, but lets it fall. Agn. Shake off this panic, and be more yourself!
O. Wilm. What's to be done? On what had
Agn. You're quite dismayed.
[Takes up the dagger. O. Wilm. Give me the fatal steel, 'Tis but a single murder,
Necessity, impatience, and despair,
To seek his bread amongst strangers, and to Devour their millions daily: And shall I—
In some remote, inhospitable land;
I ought not to reproach thee. I confess
That thou hast suffered much: So have we both. But chide no more; I am wrought up to thy purpose.
The poor, ill-fated, unsuspecting victim,
But follow me, and see how little cause
[Going the wrong way.
Agn. Where do you go?
The street is that way.
O. Wilm. True! I had forgot,
O. Wilm. Well, I recover.-I shall find the
[Exit. Agn. O softly! softly! The least noise un
Enter CHARLOTTE, EUSTACE, and RANDAL.
Char. What strange neglect! The doors are all unbarred,
And not a living creature to be seen!
Enter Old WILMOT and AGNES.
Char. Sir, we are come to give and to receive A thousand greetings-Ha! what can this mean! Why do you look with such amazement on us? Are these your transports for your son's return? Where is my Wilmot?-Has he not been here? Would he defer your happiness so long, Or could a habit so disguise your son, That you refused to own him?
Agn. Heard you that?—
What prodigy of horror is disclosing,
O. Wilm. Prithee, peace!
The miserable damned suspend their howling, And the swift orbs are fixed in deep attention. Rand. What mean these dreadful words, and frantic air!
That is the dagger my young master wore. Eust. My mind misgives me. Do not stand to gaze
On these dumb phantoms of despair and horror! Let us search further; Randal, shew the way.
Agn. Let life forsake the earth, and light the
Enter RANDAL and EUSTACE. Eust. O Wilmot! Wilmot! Are these the fruits of all thy anxious cares For thy ungrateful parents?— -Cruel fiends! O. Wilm. What whining fool art thou, who would'st usurp
My sovereign right of grief!-Was he thy son?Say! Canst thou shew thy hands reeking with blood,
That flowed, through purer channels, from thy loins?
Compute the sands that bound the spacious ocean, | And swell their number with a single grain; Increase the noise of thunder with thy voice; Or, when the raging wind lays nature waste, Assist the tempest with thy feeble breath; But name not thy faint sorrow, with the anguish Of a curst wretch, who only hopes from this [Stabbing himself.
To change the scene, but not relieve his pain! Rand. A dreadful instance of the last remorse! May all your woes end here!
Ŏ. Wilm. O would they end
A thousand ages hence, I then should suffer
Rand. Heaven grant they may! And may thy penitence atone thy crime! Tend well the hapless Charlotte, and hear hence These bleeding victims of despair and pride; Toll the death bell! and follow to the grave The wretched parents and ill-fated son.
SCENE I.-The street before ARDEN's door. Enter MOSBY.
Mos. THE morning's dark, and horrid as my purpose.
Thrice have my snares been laid for Arden's life,
Some fancied right. Michael, the trencher favourite,
A bastard, bred of Arden's charity,
Maria is his price. I've placed her here,
She could deny me nothing. This to try.
SCENE II-A chamber.
Enter ARDEN in his night-gown. Ard. Unhappy Arden, whither canst thou wan◄ der
To lay thy heavy load of sorrows down!