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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,
To bear the weight of age and want alone.
-I'll try once more—

Enter AGNES, and after her Young WILMOT.
O. Wilm. Returned, my life! so soon!-
Agn. The unexpected coming of this stranger
Prevents my going yet.

Y. Wilm. You are, I presume,
The gentleman to whom this is directed.

[Gives a letter.
What wild neglect, the token of despair,
What indigence, what misery, appears
In this once happy house! What discontent,
What anguish and confusion fill the faces
Of its dejected owners!

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
With tenderness and grief, that will overflow.

-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,
To recommend you to our best esteem;
-A worthless acquisition! May she find
Some means that better may express her kind-

But she, perhaps, has purposed to errich
You with herself, and end her fruitless sorrow
For one, whom death alone can justify
For leaving her so long. If it be so,
May you repair his loss, and be to Charlotte
A second, happier Wilmot! Partial nature,

Who only favours youth, as feeble age
Were not her offspring or below her care,
Has sealed our doom: No second hope shall

To dry our tears, and dissipate despair.

Agn. The last and most abandoned of our kind,

By heaven and earth neglected or despised,
The loathsome grave, that robbed us of our son,
And all our joys in him, must be our refuge.

Y. Wilm. Let ghosts unpardoned, or devoted

Fear without hope, and wail in such sad strains;
But grace defend the living from despair!
The darkest hours precede the rising sun,
And mercy may appear, when least expected.

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
That the most wretched feel on this side hell,
Ev'n slavery itself: Yet here I stand,
Except one trouble, that will quickly end,
The happiest of mankind.

O. Wilm. A rare example

Of fortune's changes; apter to surprise
Or entertain, than comfort or instruct.
If you would reason from events, be just,
And count, when you escaped, how many perished;
And draw your inference thence.

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.
Agn. Doubt it not:

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!



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He says it is of value, and yet trusts it,
As if a trifle, to a stranger's hand—
His confidence amazes me-Perhaps

It is not what he says-I am strongly tempted
To open it, and see-No, let it rest!
Why should I pry into the cares of others,
Who have so many sorrows of my own?
With how much ease the spring gives way-Sur-

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!
Ay, such a treasure would expel for ever
Base poverty, and all its abject train;
Famine; the cold neglect of friends; the scorn,
Or more provoking pity, of the world.
Plenty, content, and power might take their turn,
And lofty pride bare its aspiring head

At our approach, and once more bend before us.
A pleasing dream! 'Tis past; and now I wake.
For sure it was a happiness to think,
Though but a moment, such a treasure mine.
Nay, it was more than thought-I saw and


The bright temptation, and I see it yet-
'Tis here-'tis mine-I have it in possession-
Must I resign it? Must I give it back?
Am I in love with misery and want,
To rob myself, and court so vast a loss?
Retain it then-But how? There is a way—
Why sinks my heart? Why does my blood run

Why am I thrilled with horror? Tis not choice,
But dire necessity suggests the thought.

Enter Old WILMOT.

O. Wilm. The mind contented, with how little pains

The wandering senses yield to soft repose !
He's fallen asleep already-Happy man!
What dost thou think, my Agnes, of our guest?
He seems to me a youth of great humanity:
Just ere he closed his eyes, that swam in tears,
He wrung my hand, and pressed it to his lips;

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.
This casket was delivered to you closed:
Why have you opened it? Should this be known,
How mean must we appear!

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.
To live without reproach, and without leave
To quit the world, shews sovereign contempt,
And noble scorn of its relentless malice.

Agn. Shews sovereign madness, and a scorn of


Pursue no farther this detested theme:
I will not die; I will not leave the world
For all that you can urge, until compelled.

O. Wilm. To chase a shadow, when the setting


Is darting his last rays, were just as wise
As your anxiety for fleeting life,

Now the last means for its support are failing:
Were famine not as mortal as the sword,
Your warmth might be excused-But take thy

Die how you will, you shall not die alone.
Agn. Nor live, I hope.

O Wilm. There is no fear of that.
Agn. Then, we'll live both.

O. Wilm. Strange folly? where the means?
Agn. There-those jewels!

O. Wilm. Ha! Take heed!

Perhaps thou dost but try me-yet take heed! There's nothing so monstrous but the mind of

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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,
We act from inclination, not by rule,

Or none could act amiss: and that all err,
None but the conscious hypocrite denies.
O! what is man, his excellence and strength,
When in an hour of trial and desertion,
Reason, his noblest power, may be suborned
To plead the cause of vile assassination!
Agn. You're too severe: Reason may justly

For our own preservation.

O. Wilm. Rest contented:
Whate'er resistance I may seem to make,
I am betrayed within: My will's seduced,
And my whole soul infected. The desire
Of life returns, and brings with it a train
Of appetites, that rage to be supplied!
Whoever stands to parley with temptation,
Parleys to be o'ercome.

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
Of wretches mad with anguish !
Agn. By what means

Shall we effect his death?

O. Wilm. Why, what a fiend!

How cruel, how remorseless and impatient
Have pride and poverty made thee!"

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.

[Exit Agnes.

Or I'm deceived, or he pronounced himself
The happiest of mankind. Deluded wretch!
Thy thoughts are perishing, thy youthful joys,
Touched by the icy hand of grisly death,
Are withering in their bloom-But, thought ex-

He'll never know the loss,

Nor feel the bitter pangs of disappointment-
Then I was wrong in counting him a wretch:
To die well pleased,

Is all the happiest of mankind can hope for.
To be a wretch, is to survive the loss
Of every joy, and even hope itself,
As I have done-Why do I mourn him then?
For, by the anguish of my tortured soul,
He's to be envied, if compared with me.

Enter AGNES with YOUNG WILMOT's dagger. Agn. The stranger sleeps at present; but so restless

His slumbers seem, they can't continue long.
Here, I've secured his dagger.

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

we determined?

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,
The three wide mouths of that true Cerberus,
Grim poverty, demand: they shall be stopped.
Ambition, persecution, and revenge,

To seek his bread amongst strangers, and to Devour their millions daily: And shall I—


In some remote, inhospitable land;
The loveliest youth, in person and in mind,
That ever crowned a groaning mother's pains!
Where was thy pity, where thy patience then?
Thou cruel husband! thou unnatural father!
Thou most remorseless, most ungrateful man!
To waste my fortune, rob me of my son,
To drive me to despair, and then reproach me
For being what thou hast made me !
O. Wilm. Dry thy tears:

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,
Ere he reclined him on the fatal couch,
From which he's ne'er to rise, took off the sash,
And costly dagger that thou saw'st him wear,
And thus, unthinking, furnished us with arms
Against himself. Steal to the door,

But follow me, and see how little cause
You had to think, there was the least remain
Of manhood, pity, mercy, or remorse,
Left in this savage breast.

[Going the wrong way.

Agn. Where do you go?

The street is that way.

O. Wilm. True! I had forgot,
Agn. Quite, quite confounded!

O. Wilm. Well, I recover.-I shall find the


[Exit. Agn. O softly! softly! The least noise un

does us.

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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,
To render murder venial!

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

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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
Much less than I deserve. Yet let me say,
You'll do but justice to inform the world,
This horrid deed, that punishes itself,
Was not intended, thinking him our son;
For that we knew not, 'till it was too late.
Proud, and impatient under our afflictions,
While Heaven was labouring to make us happy,
We brought this dreadful ruin on ourselves.
Mankind may learn-but-oh-


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.

[Exeunt omnes.

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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,
And thrice hath he escaped. I am not safe:
The living may revenge. Oh! could I win
Alicia to conspire her husband's fall,
Then might I say, security, thou'rt mine,
And laugh at all to come. For other instruments,
There's Green: he bears him hard about this suit
For the abbey-lands, to which the hot youth


Some fancied right. Michael, the trencher favourite,

A bastard, bred of Arden's charity,
He has been privy to our secret joys,
And, on that trust presuming, loves my sister-
Winks at adultery, and may at murder.

Maria is his price. I've placed her here,
Companion of my sweet Alicia's hours,
To spread her charms for ever in his eye:
To her are all my visits. But Alicia-
She must, she shall comply: when to my arms
Her honour she resigned, her fond reluctance

She could deny me nothing. This to try.
[Exit into Arden's house.

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!
Will change of place relieve the afflicted mind,
Or does all nature yield a balm to cure
The pangs of slighted love and broken faith?
Ungrateful false Alicia! false with Mosby,

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