« AnteriorContinuar »
XV.-Speech of Belial, advising Peace.
I SHOULD be much for open war, O peers, As not behind in hate, if what was urg'd Main reason to persuade immediate war, Did not dissuade the most, and seem to cast Ominous conjecture on the whole success ; When he who most excels in feats of arms, In what he counsels, and in what excels, Mistrustful, grounds his courage on despair And utter dissolution, as the scope Of all his aim, after some dire revenge. First, what revenge? The towers of heaven are fill'd With armed watch, that render all access Impregnable ; oft on the bordering deep Encamp their legions ; or, with obscure wing, Scout far and wide, into the realm of night, Scorning surprise. Or, could we break our way By force, and at our heels all hell should rise With blackest insurrection, to confound Heaven's purest light-yet our great enemy, All incorruptible, would on his throne, Sit unpolluted; and th' ethereal mould, Incapable of stain, would soon expel Her mischief, and purge off the baser fire, Victorious. Thus repuls'd, our final hope Is flat despair. We must exasperate Th’ almighty victor to spend all his rage, And that must end us ; that must be our cure, To be no more. Sad fate! For who would lose, Though full of pain, this intellectual being, Those thoughts that wander through eternity, To perish rather, swallowed up and lost In the wide womb of uncreated night, Devoid of sense and motion ? And who knows, Let this be good, whether our angry foe Can give it, or will ever? How he can, Is doubtful; that he never will, is sure. Will he, so wise, let loose at once his ire, Belike through impotence, or unaware, To give his enemies their wish, and end Them in his anger, whom his anger saves To punish endless? Wherefore cease we then? Say they who counsel war, we are decreed, Reserv'd and destin'd to eternal wo; Whatever doing, what can suffer more, What can we suffer worse? Is this then worst, Thus sitting, thus consulting, thus in arms ?. What, when we fled amain, pursu'd and struck With heaven's afflicting thunder, and besought The deep to shelter us? This hell then seem'd A refuge from those wounds; or when we lay
Chain'd on the burning lake? That sure was worse.
1.-Belcour and Stockwell. Stock. MR. BELCOUR, I am rejoiced to see you; you . are welcome to England.
Bel. I thank you heartily, good Mr. Stockwell. You and I have long conversed at a distance ; now we are met; and the pleasure this meeting gives me, amply compensates for the perils I have run through in accomplishing it.
Stock. What perils, Mr. Belcour? I could not have thought you would have met with a bad passage at this time o’year.
Bel. Nor did we. Courier-like, we came posting to your shores, upon the pinions of the swiftest gales that ever blew. It is upon English ground all my difficulties have arisen ; it is the passage from the river-side I complain of.
Stock. Indeed! What obstructions can you have met between this and the river-side ?
Bel. Innumerable ! Your town's as full of defiles as the island of Corsica ; and I believe they are as obstinately defended. So much hurry, bustle, and confusion, on your quays ; so many sugar casks, porter butts, and common council men, in your streets; that, unless a man marched with artillery in his front, it is more than the labour of a Hercules can effect, to make any tolerable way through your town.
Stock. I am sorry you have been so incommoded.
Bel. Why, truly, it was all my own fault. Accustomed to a land of slaves, and out of patience with the whole tribe of custom-house extortioners, hoatmen, tidewaiters and water bailiffs, that beset me on all sides, worse than a swarm of moschetoes, I proceeded a little too roughly to brush them away with my ratan. The sturdy rogues took this in dudgcon; and beginning to rebel, the mob chose different sides, and a furious scuffle ensued; in the course of which, my person and apparel suffered so much, thai I was obliged to step into the first tavern to refit, before I could make my approaches in any decent trim.
Stock. Well, Mr. Belcour, it is a rough sample you have had of my countrymen's spirit; but I trust you will not think the worse of them for it.
Bel. Not at all, not at all : I like them the better. Were I only a visiter, I might perhaps wish them a little more tractable ; but, as a fellow subject, and a sharer in their freedom, I applaud their spirit—though I feel the effects of it in every bone in my skin. Well, Mr. Stockwell, for the first time in my life, here am I in England; at the fountain head of pleasure ; in the land of beauty, of arts and elegancies. My happy-stars have given me a good estate, and the conspiring winds have blown me hither to spend it.
Stock. To use it, not to waste it, I should hope ; to treat it, Mr. Belcour, not as a vassal over whom you have a wanton despotic power, but as a subject whom you are bound to govern with a temperate and restrained authority.
Bel. True, Sir, most truly said ; mine's a commission, not a right; I am the offspring of distress, and every child of sorrow is my brother. While I have hands to hold, therefore, I will hold them open to mankind. But, Sir, my passions are my masters; they take me where they wil); and oftentimes they leave to reason and virtue, nothing but my wishes and my sighs.
Stock. Come, come, the man who can accuse, corrects himself.
Bel. Ah! that is an office I am weary of. I wish a friend would take it up : I would to heaven you had leisure for the employ. But, did you drive a trade to the four corners of the world, you would not find the task so toilsome as to keep me free from faults.
Stock. Well, I am not discouraged. This candour tells me I should not have the fault of self-conceit to combat ; that, at least, is not among the number.
Bel. No; if I knew that man on earth who thought more humbly of re than I do of myself, I would take his opinion and forego my own.
Stock. And were I to choose a pupil, it should be one of your complexion : so if you will come along with me, we will agree upon your admission, and enter upon a course of lectures directly. Bel. With all my heart.
• II.—Lady Townly and Lady Grace. Lady T. OH, my dear Lady Grace ! how could you leave me so unmercifully alone all this while ?
Lady G. I thought my lord had been with you.
Lady T. Why, yes—and therefore I wanted your relief; for he has been in such a fluster here
Lady Ĝ. Bless me! for what?
Lady T. Only our usual breakfast; we have each of us had our dish of matrimonial comfort this morning—we have been charming company.
Lady G. I am mighty glad of it; sure it must be a vast, happiness when man and wife can give themselves the same turn of conversation !
Lady T. Oh, the prettiest thing in the world!
Lady G. Now I should be afraid, that where two people are every day together so, they must be often in want of something to talk upon.
Lady T. Oh, my dear, you are the most mistaken in the world! married people have things to talk of, child, that never enter into the imagination of others— Why, here's my lord and I, now, we have not been married above two short years, you know, and we have already eight or ten things constantly in bank, that whenever we want company, we can take up any one of them for two hours together, and the subject never the flatter; nay, if we have occasion for it, it will be as fresh next day too, as it was the first hour it entertained us.
Lady G. Certainly that must be vastly pretty.
Lady T. Oh, there's no life like it! Why, t'other day, for example, when you dined abroad, my lord and I, after a pretty cheerful tete a tete meal, sat us down by the fireside, in an easy, indolent, pick tooth way, for about a quarter of an hour, as if we had not thought of one another's being in the room.-At last, stretching himself and yawning
-My dear, says heg -aw you come home very late last night.--'Twas but just turned of two, says I.I was in bed a w- by eleven, says he. So you are every night, says I.-Well, says he, I am amazed you can sit up so late. How can you be amazed, says I, at a thing that happens so often Upon which we entered into a conversation : and though this is a point which has entertained us above fifty times already, we always find so many pretty new things to say upon it, that I believe in my soul it will last as long as I live. · Lady G. But pray, in sueh sort of family dialogues (tho' extremely well for passing the time) doesn't there now and then enter some little witty sort of bitterness ?
Lady T. Oh, yes! which does not do amiss at all. A smart repartee, with a zest of recrimination at the head of it, makes the prettiest sherbet. Ay, ay, if we did not mix a little of the acid with it, a matrimonial society would be , so luscious, that nothing but an old liquorish prude would be able to bear it.
Lady G. Well, certainly you have the most elegant taste
Lady T. Though, to tell you the truth, my dear, i rather think we squeezed a little too much lemon into it this bout; for it grew so sour at last, that I think I almost told him he was a fool and he again---talked something oddly of turning me out of doors.
Lady G. Oh! have a care of that.
Lady T. Nay, if he should, I may thank my own wise father for it..
Lady G. How so?
Lady T. Why, when my good lord first opened his hon- . ourable trenches before me, my unaccountable papa, in whose hands I then was, gave me up at discretion.
Lady G. How do you mean?.
Lady T. He said the wives of this age were come to that pass, that he would not desire even his own daughter should be trusted with pinmoney; so that my whole train