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By a long series of imprudent conduct,
Has brought us all to poverty!-
But would to heaven-
That poverty was all I had to fear;
For labor would gain bread, and bread so earn'd,
Were a sweet morsel when compar'd to those
Rich, costly viands that my bitter griefs
Have so long poison'd! Would they were indeed
The strongest poisons!—ah !—be firm, my soul;
Nor dare a moment listen to the tempter.
"Tis worse than death, his proffer'd liberty,
And from the everlasting book of life
Would blot thy name without a hope of pardon,
O hasten, Clara: bring me my sweet infant :
That smiling cherub is as yet unconscious
Of his surrounding evils; and to see him,
Methinks, gives ease to my perturbed spirit,
There is a secret lodg'd within this bosom,
That with deep horror tinges every thought.
O Doricourt! O Beaufort! names ill join'd!
Names equally destructive to my peace!
Thou fiend-like jealousy, e'en noble minds
Thou sometimes hast, unpitying, o'erthrown.
But when thou art an inmate of that breast,
Where radiant virtue never deigns to enter,
All is confusion, darkness, and despair!
Dreadful the tyranny then exercis'd
O'er those whom fate has plac'd within their power.
Dor, What, madam, still those melancholy looks?
'Tis long since I have either heard or seen
Aught but this face of woe;-Is such the greeting
I must expect henceforward when I meet you?
Theo. I would conceal my sorrow if I could.
Dor. Madam, madam, I am not deceiv'd:"Tis not with mournful looks,—it is with smiles You welcome those you love.
Dor. What then, 'tis deem'd unworthy of regard, Remonstrance from a husband?
Theo. False! Doricourt, O 'tis impossible
Thy heart can credit what thy tongue has utter'd.
The loss of thy affections I submit to;
My want of merit may have caus'd that evil :
A parent's indignation I have borne,
And poverty's approach appals me not.
But midst this mass of evils, one idea
Is left for consolation,-a broad shield,
To interpose between me and despair;
And that is innocence, a conscience clear
Of all that may be deemed offence to thee.
Yet here mistake me not; I am far
From boasting of myself, as free from error;
The sin of disobedience rests upon me.
The first great law of heaven I have broken,
And 'tis but just I suffer for my guilt!
Yet do not thou reproach me!
Dor. Madam, a shorter speech had better pleas'd me,
Who came not here to listen to your boastings,
For I have business calls me from my
Ah! does the news displease you?
Theo. You go not hence to-day?
Theo. Nay, as you please; but surely you remember You have appointed Beaufort here to-day.
You have, I trust, sent to forbid his coming.
Dor. Are you afraid that he should come?—I am not When wives are bless'd with virtue, where's the danger? Theo. Unhappy Doricourt! Ah, wherefore seek
Thus to torment yourself with causeless doubts?
Beaufort comes hither only as your friend:
I must insist his coming be forbidden.
Dor. Insist! and then you'll boast yourself submissive. But I will force you to perform your duty;
Which ever is, t'obey a husband's orders.
This moment write to Beaufort! I command it!
No words; remonstrances are all in vain.
Theo. Yet hear me, Doricourt
Remonstrance is in vain ?-besides, beware;
Even reluctance may betray suspicion ;
Why should you fear to see your husband's friend?
Write instantly what I shall dictate to you,
Or dread the consequence of disobedience.
Sit down-begin-1 hate such affectation.
Write thus: [Theodora appears to comply with great
unwillingness. Doricourt goes on.]
My husband's accidental absence need not
"Delay your visit, he will soon return :
"I shall expect you at the time appointed."
Now sign your name, "yours, Theodora."
[She would speak, but he prevents her.]
Write it, I say, there now-give me the paper.
I charge myself with sending to my friend
This billet from my wife; there is no fear.
He will refuse so kind an invitation.
Theo. 'Tis of your sending, Doricourt.
That need not be debated; I have tried
To give you consolation for my absence;
Am I not complaisant?
Let me implore you to complete your purpose:
Far rather doom me now to instant death!
For thus to torture me with vile suspicions,
Is worse than death! Behold, I stand prepar'd→
Deep in this faithful bosom plunge your sword,
And I will bless the kind releasing stroke;
But go not hence to-day-or take me with you!
Thus kneeling, I implore—
You are deceiv'd.
To be suspicious suits the guilty mind,
Unless you know that I have cause for doubting,
Why should you think I doubt your innocence?
Beaufort and Theodora both are—angels!
And Doricourt-a fiend !—this is the picture
Suits your romantic fancy to contemplate.
But are you sure you color after nature?
I see not the resemblance.-Some time hence
My character will better be explain'd:
For yours-you take no pains that it may please me.
Could I imagine penitence had caus'd
This wond'rous grief, it might excite compassion:--
Hence! to your chamber! I desire your absence.
Now for my plot, to put it to the proof.
If fair Lavinia rightly has inform'd me,
Who could not bear, she said, to see with patience
Her Doricourt the wretched dupe of Beaufort,
And by a wife dishonor'd, and despis'd!
Lavinia's love is ever anxious, faithful,
Ardent to please the object of her wishes:
I'll see her ere the meeting I have plann'd
Has taken place, receive her last instructions,
Then, darting on my unsuspicious prey,
Gain vengeance ample as my soul can wish.
Now, thou proud offspring of the man I hate,
Thy fate suspended hangs―the balance trembles!
And if unwarn'd by thy good genius, Beaufort,
Th' invited interview thou dost not shun,
Thou rushest on inevitable ruin!
Then will the world decide on Theodora!
Doom her to shame!-bless me again with freedom!
To her proud father gladly I'll resign her,
And henceforth only live for my Lavinia!
SCENE II. Beaufort's House.
Enter BEAUFORT and CARLOS.
Beau. I tell thee, Carlos, I will not be rul'd!
Where is the danger? if thy coward soul
Shivers with fear at but imagin'd ills,
And on the verdant plain, where hope and joy
Invite our footsteps to delicious wanderings,
If then thou start and warn me to beware,
Because thou fanciest precipices hid,-
Shall I, who feel no fear, retreat from pleasure?
Car. Let me persuade you, sir, to pause a moment:
My trembling age, no doubt, is prone to fears,
But seldom felt by inexperienc'd youth:
Yet, pardon, sir, the fears affection raises:
"Tis ever watchful, and alarm'd by trifles.
I have of late beheld so great a change
In Doricourt, it has awaken'd caution;
For 'tis now nois'd abroad that he has squander'd
All his large fortune, and with hasty strides,
Ruin approaches, and must overwhelm him.
Beau. O that the ruin fell on him alone!