Page images
PDF
EPUB

my habits ?

He need not stick at, to maintain his friend's Lovel. Can you assign any reason, why a genhonour, or his cause.

tleman of Sir Walter's known prudence should Lovel. I think many men would die for their expose his person so lightly? friends.

John. I believe, a certain fondness, John. Death! why 'tis nothing. We go to it for a child-like cleaving to the land that gave him sport,

birth, To gain a name, or purse, or please a sullen Chains him like fate. humour,

Lovel.

I have known some exiles thus When one has worn his fortune's livery thread To linger out the term of the law's indulgence, bare,

To the hazard of being known. Or his spleen'd mistress frowns. Husbands will John. You may suppose sometimes venture on it,

They use the neighb'ring Sherwood for their To cure the hot fits and cold shakings of jealousy. sport, A friend, sir, must do more.

Their exercise and freer recreation.Lovel. Can he do more than die ?

I see you smile. Pray now, be careful. John. To serve a friend this he may do. Pray Lovel. I am no babbler, sir; you need not fear mark me.

me. Having a law within (great spirits feel one)

John. But some men have been known to talk He cannot, ought not, to be bound by any

in their sleep, Positive laws or ord'nances extern,

And tell fine tales that way. But may reject all these : by the law of friend Lovel. I have heard so much. But, to say ship

truth, I mostly sleep alone. He may do so much, be they, indifferently, John. Or drink, sir ? do you never drink too Penn'd statutes, or the land's unwritten usages, freely? As public fame, civil compliances,

Some men will drink, and tell you all their Misnamed honour, trust in matter of secrets,

secrets. All vows and promises, the feeble mind's Lovel. Why do you question me, who know

religion, (Binding our morning knowledge to approve

John. I think you are no sot, What last night's ignorance spake ;)

No tavern-troubler, worshipper of the grape; The ties of blood withal, and prejudice of kin. But all men drink sometimes, Sir, these weak terrors

And veriest saints at festivals relax, Must never shake me. I know what belongs The marriage of a friend, or a wife's birth-day. To a worthy friendship. Come, you shall have Lovel. How much, sir, may a man with safety my confidence.

drink?

[Smiling. Lovel. I bope you think me worthy.

John. Sir, three half pints a day is reasonJohn. You will smile to hear now

able; Sir Walter never has been out of the island. I care not if you never exceed that quantity. Lovel. You amaze me.

Lovel. I shall observe it; John. That same report of his escape to France On holidays two quarts. Was a fine tale, forged by myself—

John. Or stay; you keep no wench? Ha ! ha!

Lovel. Ha ! I knew it would stagger him.

John. No painted mistress for your private Lovel.

Pray, give me leave. hours ? Where has he dwelt, how lived, how lain con. You keep no whore, sir ? ceal'd ?

Lovel.

What does he mean? Sure I may ask so much.

John. Who for a close embrace, a toy of sin, John. From place to place, dwelling in no And amorous praising of your worship's breath, place long,

In rosy junction of four melting lips, My brother Simon still hath borne him company, Can kiss out secrets from you? ('Tis a brave youth, I envy him all his virtues). Lovel. How strange this passionate behaviour Disguised in foreign garb, they pass for French shows in you! men,

Sure you think me some weak one. Two Protestant exiles from the Limousin

John. Pray pardon me some fears. Newly arrived. Their dwelling's now at Not. You have now the pledge of a dear father's life. tingham,

I am a son — would fain be thought a loving Where no soul knows them.

one;

excuse.

You may allow me some fears : do not despise Then, northward ho! such tricks as we shall , me,

play If, in a posture foreign to my spirit,

Have not been seen, I think, in merry Sherwood, And by our well-knit friendship I conjure you, Since the days of Robin Hood, that archer good. Touch not Sir Walter's life.

(Kneels.
You see these tears. My father's an old man.
Pray let him live.
Lovel. I must be bold to tell you, these new
freedoms

ACT THE FOURTH.
Show most unhandsome in you.
John (rising).
Ha! do you say so ?

SCENE.-An Apartment in Woodvil Hall.
Sure, you are not grown proud upon my

Jonn WOODTIL. (Alone.) secret! Ah ! now I see it plain. He would be babbling. A weight of wine lies heavy on my head,

The unconcocted follies of last night. No doubt a garrulous and hard-faced traitor

Now all those jovial fancies, and bright hopes, But I'll not give you leave.

[Draws. Lovel. What does this madman mean?

Children of wine, go off like dreams. John. Come, sir; here is no subterfuge;

This sick vertigo here You must kill me, or I kill you.

Preacheth of temperance, no sermon better. Lovel (drawing). Then self-defence plead my That stick like burrs to the brain, will they ne'er

These black thoughts, and dull melancholy,

leave me? Have at you, sir.

(They fight. John. Stay, sir.

Some men are full of choler, when they are

drunk; I hope you have made your will.

Some brawl of matter foreign to themselves ;
If not, 'tis no great matter.
A broken cavalier has seldom much

And some, the most resolved fools of all,

Have told their dearest secrets in their cups.
He can bequeath : an old worn peruke,
A snuff-box with a picture of Prince Rupert,

SCENE.-The Forest.
A rusty sword he'll swear was used at Naseby,
Though it ne'er came within ten miles of the

SIR WALTER. Srxox. LOVEL. GBAY. place;

Lovel. Sir, we are sorry we cannot return your And, if he's very rich,

French salutation. A cheap edition of the Icon Basilike,

Gray. Nor otherwise consider this garb you! Is mostly all the wealth he dies possest of. trust to than as a poor disguise. You say few prayers, I fancy ;

Lovel. Nor use much ceremony with a traitor.

1 So to it again. [They fight again. Lovel is disarmed. Gray. Therefore, without much induction of Lovel. You had best now take my life. I guess superfluous words, I attach you, Sir Walter you mean it.

Woodvil, of High Treason, in the King's name. John (musing). No :Men will say I fear'd Lovel. And of taking part in the great Rebellion him, if I kill'd him.

against our late lawful Sovereign, Charles the Live still, and be a traitor in thy wish,

First. But never act thy thought, being a coward. Simon. John has betrayed us, father. That vengeance, which thy soul shall nightly Lovel. Come, sir, you had best surrender fairly. thirst for,

We know you, sir. And this disgrace I've done you cry aloud for, Simon. Hang ye, villains, ye are two better Still have the will without the power to execute. known than trusted. I have seen those faces So now I leave you,

before. Are ye not two beggarly retainers, Feeling a sweet security. No doubt

trencher-parasites, to John ? I think ye rank My secret shall remain a virgin for you !

above his footmen. A sort of bed and board

(Goes out smiling, in scorn. worms—locusts that infest our house; a leprosy Lovel (rising). For once you are mistaken in that long has hung upon its walls and princely your man.

apartments, reaching to fill all the corners of my The deed you wot of shall forthwith be done. brother's once noble heart. A bird let loose, a secret out of hand,

Gray. We are his friends. Returns not back. Why, then 'tis baby policy Simon. Fie, sir, do not weep. How these To menace him who hath it in his keeping. rogues will triumph! Shall I whip off their I will go look for Gray ;

heads, father?

(Drams

i

course.

Lovel. Come, sir, though this show handsome Or bid "good night" to John. Who seeks to live in you, being his son, yet the law must have its In amity with thee, must for thy sake

Abide the world's reproach. What then? Simon. And if I tell ye the law shall not have Shall Margaret join the clamours of the world its course, cannot ye be content ? Courage, Against her friend? O undiscerning world, father; shall such things as these apprehend a That cannot from misfortune separate guilt, man? Which of ye will venture upon me ? No, not in thought! O never, never, John. Will you, Mr. Constable self-elect? or you, sir, Prepared to share the fortunes of her friend with a pimple on your nose, got at Oxford by For better or for worse thy Margaret comes, hard drinking, your only badge of loyalty ? To pour into thy wounds a healing love,

Gray. 'Tis a brave youth–I cannot strike at And wake the memory of an ancient friendship. him.

And pardon me, thou spirit of Sir Walter, Simon. Father, why do you cover your face Who, in compassion to the wretched living, with your hands ? Why do you fetch your Have but few tears to waste upon the dead. breath so hard ? See, villains, his heart is burst! O villains, he cannot speak. One of you run for

SCENE.-Woodvil Hall. some water; quickly, ye knaves; will ye have

SANDFORD. MARGARET. (As from a Journey.) your throats cut ?

[They both slink off. How is it with you, Sir Walter? Look up, sir, Sand. The violence of the sudden mischance the villains are gone. He hears me not, and this hath so wrought in him, who by nature is allied deep disgrace of treachery in his son hath touched to nothing less than a self-debasing humour of him even to the death. O most distuned and dejection, that I have never seen anything more distempered world, where sons talk their aged changed and spirit-broken. He hath, with a fathers into their graves! Garrulous and diseased peremptory resolution, dismissed the partners of world, and still empty, rotten and hollow talking his riots and late hours, denied his house and world, where good men decay, states turn round person to their most earnest solicitings, and will in an endless mutability, and still for the worse; be seen by none. He keeps ever alone, and his nothing is at a stay, nothing abides but vanity, grief (which is solitary) does not so much seem chaotic vanity.—Brother, adieu !

to possess and govern in him, as it is by him,

with a wilfulness of most manifest affection, There lies the parent stock which gave us life, entertained and cherished. Which I will see consign'd with tears to earth. Marg. How bears he up against the common Leave thou the solemn funeral rites to me,

rumour? Grief and a true remorse abide with thee.

Sand. With a strange indifference, which who [Bears in the body. soever dives not into the niceness of his sorrow

might mistake for obdurate and insensate. Yet SCENE.- Another Part of the Forest,

are the wings of his pride for ever clipt; and yet Marg. (alone.) It was an error merely, and no a virtuous predominance of filial grief is so ever crime,

uppermost, that you may discover his thoughts An unsuspecting openness in youth,

less troubled with conjecturing what living That from his lips the fatal secret drew,

opinions will say, and judge of his deeds, than Which should have slept like one of nature's absorbed and buried with the dead, whom his mysteries,

indiscretion made so. Unveil'd by any man.

Marg. I knew a greatness ever to be resident Well, he is dead !

in him, to which the admiring eyes of men And what should Margaret do in the forest ? should look up even in the declining and bankO ill-starr'd John !

rupt state of his pride. Fain would I see him, O Woodvil, man enfeoff'd to despair !

fain talk with him; but that a sense of respect, Take thy farewell of peace.

which is violated, when without deliberation we O never look again to see good days,

press into the society of the unhappy, checks Or close thy lids in comfortable nights,

and holds me back. How, think you, he would Or ever think a happy thought again,

bear my presence ? If what I have heard be true.

Sand. As of an assured friend, whom in the Forsaken of the world must Woodvil live, forgetfulness of his fortunes he past by. See If he did tell these men.

him you must; but not to-night. The newness No tongue must speak to him, no tongue of man of the sight shall move the bitterest compuncSalute him, when he wakes up in a morning; tion and the truest remorse; but afterwards,

trust me, dear lady, the happiest effects of a As we put off our high thoughts and proud looks. returning peace, and a gracious comfort, to him,

(Pauses, and observes the pictures. to you, and all of us.

These pictures must be taken down : Marg. I think he would not deny me. He The portraitures of our most ancient family hath ere this received farewell letters from his For nigh three hundred years ! How have I brother, who hath taken a resolution to estrange listen'd, himself, for a time, from country, friends, and To hear Sir Walter, with an old man's pride, kindred, and to seek occupation for his sad Holding me in his arms, a prating boy, thoughts in travelling in foreign places, where and pointing to the pictures where they hung, sights remote and extern to himself may draw Repeat by course their worthy histories, from him kindly and not painful ruminations. (As Hugh de Widville, Walter, first of the name,

Sand. I was present at the receipt of the letter. And Anne the handsome, Stephen, and famous The contents seemed to affect him, for a moment, John : with a more lively passion of grief than he has Telling me, I must be his famous John.) at any time outwardly shown. He wept with But that was in old times. many tears (which I had not before noted in Now, no more him), and appeared to be touched with the sense Must I grow proud upon our house's pride. as of some unkindness; but the cause of their I rather, I, by most unheard-of crimes, sad separation and divorce quickly recurring, he Have backward tainted all their noble blood, presently returned to his former inwardness of Rased out the memory of an ancient family, suffering.

And quite reversed the honours of our house. Marg. The reproach of his brother's presence who now shall sit and tell us anecdotes ? at this hour would have been a weight more than The secret history of his own times, could be sustained by his already oppressed and And fashions of the world when he was young : sinking spirit.—Meditating upon these intricate How England slept out three-and-twenty years, and wide-spread sorrows, hath brought a heaviness While Carr and Villiers ruled the baby king: upon me, as of sleep. How goes the night?

The costly fancies of the pedant's reign, Sand. An hour past sun-set. You shall first Balls, feastings, huntings, shows in allegory, refresh your limbs (tired with travel) with meats And Beauties of the court of James the First and some cordial wine, and then betake your no less wearied mind to repose. Marg. A good rest to us all.

John. Comes Margaret here to witness my Sand. Thanks, lady.

disgrace?
0, lady, I have suffer'd loss,
And diminution of my honour's brightness.

You bring some images of old times, Margaret,
ACT THE FIFTH.

That should be now forgotten.

Marg. Old times should never be forgotten, JOHN WOODVIL (dressing).

John. John. How beautiful (handling his mourning) I came to talk about them with my friend. And comely do these mourning garments show ! John. I did refuse you, Margaret, in my pride. Sure Grief hath set his sacred impress here, Marg. If John rejected Margaret in his pride, To claim the world's respect! they note so (As who does not, being splenetic, refuse

i feelingly

Sometimes old playfellows,) the spleen being! By outward types the serious man within.—

gone, Alas ! what part or portion can I claim

The offence no longer lives. In all the decencies of virtuous sorrow,

O Woodvil, those were happy days, Which other mourners use ? as namely,

When we two first began to love. When first, This black attire, abstraction from society, Under pretence of visiting my father, Good thoughts, and frequent sighs, and seldom (Being then a stripling nigh upon my age,) smiles,

You came a wooing to his daughter, John. A cleaving sadness native to the brow,

Do you remember, All sweet condolements of like-grieved friends, With what a coy reserve and seldom speech, (That steal away the sense of loss almost) (Young maidens must be chary of their speech,) Men's pity, and good offices I kept the honours of my maiden pride?

! Which enemies themselves do for us then, I was your favourite then. Putting their hostile disposition off,

John. O Margaret, Margaret !

MARGARET enters.

These your submissions to my low estate, Nor quit thy hope of happy days to come-
And cleavings to the fates of sunken Woodvil, John yet has many happy days to live;
Write bitter things 'gainst my unworthiness. To live and make atonement.
Thou perfect pattern of thy slander'd sex,

John.

Excellent lady, Whom miseries of mine could never alienate, Whose suit hath drawn this softness from my Nor change of fortune shake; whom injuries,

eyes, And slights (the worst of injuries) which moved Not the world's scorn, nor failing off of friends, Thy nature to return scorn with like scorn, Could ever do. Will you go with me, Margaret ? Then when you left in virtuous pride this house, Marg. (rising.) Go whither, John Could not so separate, but now in this

John.

Go in with me, My day of shame, when all the world forsake me, And pray for the peace of our unquiet minds ? You only visit me, love, and forgive me.

Marg. That I will, John.

[Exeunt. Marg. Dost yet remember the green arbour, John,

SCENE.-- An inner Apartment.
In the south gardens of my father's house,
Where we have seen the summer sun go down,

John is discovered kneeling.--MARGARET standing over him.
Exchanging true love's vows without restraint ? John (rises.) I cannot bear
And that old wood, you call'd your wilderness, To see you waste that youth and excellent beauty,
And vow'd in sport to build a chapel in it, ('Tis now the golden time of the day with you,)
There dwell

In tending such a broken wretch as I am.

Marg. John will break Margaret's heart, if he
Like hermit poor
In pensive place obscure,”

speak so.

O sir, sir, sir, you are too melancholy, And tell your Ave Maries by the curls

And I must call it caprice. I am somewhat bold (Dropping like golden beads) of Margaret's hair; Perhaps in this. But you are now my patient, And make confession seven times a day

(You know you gave me leave to call you so,) Of every thought that stray'd from love and And I must chide these pestilent humours from Margaret;

you. And I your saint the penance should appoint John. They are gone.“ Believe me, sir, I will not now be laid

Mark, love, how cheerfully I speak ! Aside, like an old fashion.

I can smile too, and I almost begin John. O lady, poor and abject are my thoughts; To understand what kind of creature Hope is. My pride is cured, my hopes are under clouds, Marg. Now this is better, this mirth becomes I have no part in any good man's love, In all earth's pleasures portion have I none, John. Yet tell me, if I over-act my mirth I fade and wither in my own esteem,

(Being but a novice, I may fall into that error). This earth holds not alive so poor a thing as I am. That were a sad indecency, you know. I was not always thus.

[Weeps. Marg. Nay, never fear. Marg.

Thou noble nature, I will be mistress of your humours, Which lion-like didst awe the inferior creatures, And you shall frown or smile by the book. Now trampled on by beasts of basest quality, And herein I shall be most peremptory, My dear heart's lord, life's pride, soul-honour'd Cry, “This shows well, but that inclines to John !

levity; Upon her knees (regard her poor request) This frown has too much of the Woodvil in it, Your favourite, once beloved Margaret, kneels. But that fine sunshine has redeem'd it quite." John. What would'st thou, lady, ever honour'd John. How sweetly Margaret robs me of myMargaret ?

self ! Marg. That John would think more nobly of Marg. To give you in your stead a better self ! himself,

Such as you were, when these eyes first beheld More worthily of high Heaven;

You mounted on your sprightly steed, White And not for one misfortune, child of chance,

Margery, No crime, but unforeseen, and sent to punish Sir Rowland my father's gift, The less offence with image of the greater, And all my maidens gave my heart for lost. Thereby to work the soul's humility,

I was a young thing then, being newly come (Which end hath happily not been frustrate Home from my convent education, where quite)

Seven years I had wasted in the bosom of France: O not for one offence mistrust Heaven's mercy, Returning home true protestant, you call'd me

you, John.

« PreviousContinue »