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ISABELLA ;

OR,

THE FATAL MARRIAGE.

ALTERED FROM

SOUTHERN.

PROLOGUE.

SPOKEN BY MRS BRACEGIRDLE.

WHEN once a poet settles an ill name,
Let him write well, or ill, 'tis all the same:
For critics now-a-days, like flocks of sheep,
All follow, when the first has made the leap.
And, do you justice, most are well inclin'd
To censure faults you know not how to find:
Some cavil at the style, and some the actors;
For, right or wrong, we pass for malefactors.
Some well-bred persons carp at the decorum,
As if they bore the drawing-room before 'em.
Sometimes your soft respectful spark discovers,
Our ladies are too coming to their lovers;
For they who still pursue, but ne'er enjoy,
In ev'ry case expect a siege of Troy.

There are some authors too who offer battle, And with their time and place, maul Aristotle. Ask what they mean; and, after some grimace, They tell you, twelve's the time; and for the

place, The chocolate-house, at the looking-glass. To please such judges, some have tir'd their

brains, And almost had their labour for their pains: After a twelvemonth vainly spent in plotting, These mettled critics cry 'tis good for nothing: But wiser authors turn their plots upon you, And plot to purpose when they get your money.

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

MEN. Count BALDWIN, father to Biron and Carlos. BIRON, married io Isabella, supposed dead. Carlos, his younger brother. VILLEROY, in love with Isabella, marries her. SAMPSON, porter to Count Baldwin. A child of Isabella by Biron.

BELFORD, a friend of Biron's.
Pedro, an accomplice of Carlos.

WOMEN.
ISABELLA, married to Biron and Villeroy.
Nurse to Biron.

Officers, Serdants, Men, and Women.

SCENE,–Brussels.

ACT I.

me.

expect it.

SCENE I.-- Before Count BALDWIN'S House. Enter VILLEROY, with ISABELLA and her litik

Son.
Enter VILLEROY and Carlos.

Isa. Why do you follow me? you know I ss Car. This constancy of yours will establish an A bankrupt every way; too far engaged immortal reputation among the women.

Ever to make return: I own you have been Vil. If it would establish me with Isabella More than a brother to me, my friend;

Car. Follow her, follow her: Troy town was And at a time when friends are found no mar, won at last.

A friend to my misfortunes. Vil. I have followed her these seven years, Vil. I must be always your friend. and now but live in hopes.

Isa. I have known, and found you Car. But live in hopes! Why, hope is the Truly my friend; and would I could be yours; ready road, the lover's baiting-place; and, for But the unfortunate cannot be friends: aught you know, but one stage short of the pos- Fate watches the first motion of the soul, session of

your
mistress.

To disappoint our wishes; if we pray Vil. But my hopes, I fear, are more of my For blessings, they prove curses in the end, own making than her's; and proceed rather To ruin all about us. Pray, be gone; from my wishes, than any encouragement she Take warning, and be happy. has given me.

Vil. Happiness! Car. That I cannot tell : the sex is very vari- There's none for me without you: Riches, name, ous; there are no certain measures to be pre- Health, fame, distinction, place, and quality, scribed or followed, in making our approaches Are the incumbrances of groaning life, to the women. All that we have to do, I think, To make it but more tedious without you. is to attempt them in the weakest part. Press What serve the goods of fortune for? 'To raise them but hard, and they will all fall under the My hopes, that you at last will share them with necessity of a surrender at last. That favour comes at once; and sometimes when we least Long life itself, the universal prayer,

And Heaven's reward of well-deservers here, Vil. I shall be glad to find it so.

Would prove a plague to me; to see you always Car. You will find it so. Every place is to And never see you mine! still to desire, be taken, that is not to be relieved: she must | And never to enjoy! comply.

Isa. I must not hear you. Vil. I am going to visit her.

Vil. Thus, at this awful distance, I have served Car. What interest a brother-in-law can have A seven years' bondage-Do I call it bondage, with her, depend upon.

When I can never wish to be redeemed? Vil. I know your interest, and I thank you. No, let me rather linger out a life Car. You are prevented; see, the mourner Of expectation, that you may be mine, comes ;

Than be restored to the indifference She weeps, as seven years were seven hours; Of seeing you, without this pleasing pain: So fresh, unfading, is the memory

I've lost myself, and never would be found, Of my poor brother's, Biron’s, death:

But in these arms. I leave you to your opportunity. [Erit VIL. Isa. Oh, I have heard all this! Though I have taken care to root her from our But must no more the charmer is no more: house,

My buried husband rises in the face I would transplant her into Villeroy's

Of my dear boy, and chides me for my stay: There is an evil fate that waits upon her, Canst thou forgive me, child? To which I wish him wedded-Only him; Child. Why, have you done a fault? You cry His upstart family, with haughty brow,

as if you had. Indeed now, I have done nothing (Though Villeroy and myself are seeming friends) to offend you: but if you kiss me, and look ** Looks down upon our house; his sister, too, very sad upon me, I shall cry too. Whose hand I asked, and was with scorn refused, İsa. My little angel, no, you must not cry i Lives in my breast, and fires me to revenge. Sorrow will overtake thy steps too soon: They bend this way

I should not hasten it. Perhaps, at last, she seeks my father's doors; Vil. What can I say! They shall be shut, and be prepared to give The arguments that make against my hopes The beggar and her brat a cold reception. Prevail upon my heart, and fix me inore; That boy's an adder in my path—they come; Those pious tears you hourly throw away, I'll stand apart, and watch their motions. Upon the grave, have all their quickening chartas

, [Retires. J And more engage my love, to make you mine :

have to say:

have me,

your wishes

When yet a virgin, free, and undisposed, old: by your good-will you would have a finger
I loved, but saw you only with my eyes ; in every body's pye: but mark the end of it; if
I could not reach the beauties of your soul: I am called to account about it, I know what I
I have since lived in contemplation,
And long experience of your growing goodness: Nurse. "Marry come up here! say your plea-
What then was passion, is my judgment now, sure, and spare not. Refuse his eldest son's
Through all the several changes of your life, widow, and poor child, the comfort of seeing
Confirmed and settled in adoring you.

him? She does not trouble him so often. Isa. Nay, then, I must be gone. If you are Samp. Not that I am against it, nurse: but we my friend,

are but scrvants, you know: we must have no If you regard my little interest,

likings, but our lord's; and must do as we are No more of this; you see, I grant you all

ordered. That friendship will allow: be still my friend: Nurse. Nay, that's true, Sampson. That's all I can receive, or have to give.

Samp. Besides, what I did was all for the best: I am going to my father; he needs not an excuse I have no ill-will to the young lady, as a body To use me ill: pray leave me to the trial.

may say, upon my own account; only that I hear Vil. I am only born to be what you would she is poor; and indeed I naturally hate your de

cayed gentry: they expect as much wai upon The creature of your power, and must obey ; as when they had money in their pockets, and In every thing obey you. I am going :

were able to consider us for the trouble. But all good fortune go along with you. [Erit. Nurse. Why, that is a grievance indeed in Isa. I shall need all

[Knocks. great families, where the gifts, at good times, Locked! and fast!

are better than the wages. It would do well to Where is the charity that used to stand,

be reformed. In our forefathers' hospitable days,

Sump. But what is the business, nurse? You At great men's doors, ready for our wants, have been in the family before I came into the Like the good angel of the family,

world: what is the reason, pray, that this daughWith open arms taking the needy in,

ter-in-law, who has so good a report in every To feed and clothe, to comfort and relieve them! body's mouth, is so little set by, by my lord? Now even their gates are shut against their poor.

Nurse. Why, I tell you, Sampson, more or (She knocks again. less: I will tell the truth, that's my way, you

know, without adding or diminishing. Enter SAMPSON to her.

Sump. Ay, marry, nurse. Samp. Well, what's to do now, I trow? You Nurse. My lord's eldest son, Biron by name, knock as loud' as if you were invited; and that the son of his bosom, and the son that he would is more than I heard of; but I can tell you, you have loved best, if he had as many as king Pymay look twice about you for a welcome in a ramus of Troygreat man's family, before you find it, unless you Sump. How! King Pyramus of Troy! Why, bring it along with you.

how many had he? Isa. I hope I bring my welcome along with Nurse. Why, the ballad sings he had fifty sons: me: Is your lord at home? Count Baldwin lives but no matter for that. This Biron, as I was here stil?

saying, was a lovely sweet gentleman, and, inSamp. Ay, ay, Count Baldwin does live here; deed, nobody could blame his father for loving and I am his porter: but what's that to the pur- him: he was a son for the king of Spain; God pose, good woman, of my lord's being at home? bless him, for I was his nurse. But now I come

Isa. Why, dont you know me, friend? to the point, Sampson; this Biron, without askSamp. Not I, not I, mistress; I may have seen ing the advice of his friends, hand over head, as you before, or so; bút men of employment must young men will have their vagaries, not having forget their acquaintance; especially' such as we the fear of his father before his eyes, as I may are never to be the better for.

say, wilfully marries this Isabella. [Guing to shut the dour, Nurse enters, having Sump. How, wilfully! he should have had her overheard him.

consent, methinks. Nurse. Handsomer words would become you, Nurse. No, wilfully marries her; and, which and mend your manners, Sampson: do you know was worse, after she had settled all her fortune

upon a nunnery, which she broke out of to run Isa. I am glad you know me, nurse,

away with him. They say they had the church's Nurse. Marry, Heaven forbid, madam, that I forgiveness, but I had rather it had been his fashould ever forget you, or my little jewel: pray, ther's. go in— (ISABELLA goes in with her child.) Now Sump. Why, in good truth, these nunneries I my blessing go along with you wherever you go, see no good they do. I think the young lady or whatever you are about. Fie, Sampson, how was in the right to run away from a nunnery: could'st thou be such a Saracen? A Turk would and I think our young master was not in the have been a better Christian, than to have done wrong but in marrying without a portion. so barbarously by a good ladly.

Nurse. That was the quarre!, I believe, Samp. Why look you, nurse, I know you of Sampson: upon this, my old lord would never

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who you prate to?

VOL. I.

see him; disinherited him ; took his younger | Speak in this little one, wlio never wronged you, brother, Carlos, into favour, whom he never And plead the fatherless and widow's cause! cared for before; and at last forced Biron to go Oh, if you ever hope to be forgiven, to the siege of Candy, where he was killed. As you will need to be forgiven too, Samp. Alack-a-day, poor gentleman!

Forget our faults, that Heaven may pardon yours! Nurse. For which my old lord hates her, as if č. Bald. How dare you mention Heaven ! she had been the cause of his going thither.

Call to mind Samp. Alas, alas, poor lady! she has suffered Your perjured vows; your plighted, broken faith for it: she has lived a great while a widow. To Heaven, and all things holy: were you not

Nurse. A great while indeed, for a young wo Devoted, wedded to a life recluse, man, Sampson.

The sacred habit on, professed and swom, Sump. Gad so! here they come; I will not A votary for ever? Can you think venture to be seen.

The sacrilegious wretch, that robs the shrine,

Is thunder-proof? Enter Count BALDWIN, followed by ISABELLA

Isa. There, there, began my woes. and her Child.

Let women all take warning at my fate; C. Bald. Whoever of your friends directed Never resolve, or think they can be safe, you,

Within the reach and tongue of tempting men. Misguided and abused you—there's your way; Oh! had I never seen my Biron's face, I can afford to shew you out again.

Had he not tempted me, I had not fallen, What could you expect from me?

But still continued innocent and free Isa. Oh, I have nothing to expect on earth! Of a bad world, which only he had power But misery is very apt to talk :

To reconcile, and make me try again. I thought I might be heard.

C. Bald. Your own inconstancy, your graceC. Bald. What can you say?

less thoughts, Is there in eloquence, can there be in words Debauched and reconciled you to the world: A rerompensing power, a remedy,

He had no hand to bring you back again, A reparation of the injuries,

But what you gave him. Circe, you prevailet The great calamities, that you have brought Upon his honest mind, transforming him On me and mine? You ave destroyed those From virtue, and himself, into what shapes hopes

You had occasion for; and what he did I fondly raised, through my declining life, Was first inspired by you. A cloister was To rest my age upon; and most undone me. Too narrow for the work you had in hand: Isa. I have undone myself too.

Your business was more general; the whole world C. Bald. Speak it again!

To be the scene: therefore you spread your Say still you are undone, and I will hear you,

charms With pleasure hear you.

To catch his soul, to be the instrument, Isa. Would my ruin please you?

The wicked instrument, of your cursed flight. C. Bald. Beyond all other pleasures.

Not that you valued him; for any one, Isa. Then you are pleased for I am most Who could have served the turn, had been es undone.

welcome. C. Bald. I prayed but for revenge, and Hea Isa. Oh! I have sins to Heaven, but none 10 ven has heard,

him. And sent it to my wishes: these grey

hairs C. Bald. Had my wretched son Would have gone down in sorrow to the grave, Married a beggar's bastard ; taken her Which you have dug for me, without the thought, Out of her rags, and made her of my blood, The thought of leaving you more wretched The mischief might have ceased, and ended here.

there. Isa. Indeed I am most wretched When I lost But bringing you into a family, My husband

Entails a curse upon the name and house C. Bald. Would he had never been,

That takes you in : the only part of me Or never had been yours !

That did receive you, perished for his crime. Isa. I then believed

'Tis a defiance to offended Heaven The measure of my sorrow then was full : Barely to pity you: your sins pursue you: But every moment of my growing days

The heaviest judgments that can fall upou you, Makes room for woes, and adds them to the sum. Are your just lot, and but prepare your doom : I lost with Biron all the joys of life:

Expect them, and despair Sirrah, rogue, But now its last supporting means are gone.

How durst thou disobey me? All the kind helps that Heaven in pity raised, Isa. Not for myself

for I am past the hopes In charitable pity to our wants,

Of being heard but for this innocentAt last have left us : now bereft of all,

And then I never will disturb you more. But this last trial of a cruel father,

C. Bald. I almost pity the unhappy child: To save us both from sinking. Oh, my child! But being yours Kneel with me, knock at nature in his heart! Isa. Look on him as your son's; Let the resemblance of a once-loved-son

And let his part in him answer for mine.

[To the Porter.

Oh, save, defend him, save him from the wrongs,
That fall upon the poor !

C. Bald. It touches me,
And I will save him. But to keep him safe,
Never come near him more.

Isa. What! take him from me!
No, we must never part : 'tis the last hold
Of comfort I have left; and, when he fails,
All goes along with him: Oh! could you be
The tyrant to divorce life from my life?
I live but in my child.
No, let me pray in vain, and beg my bread
From door to door, to feed his daily wants,
Rather than always lose him.
C. Bald. Then have your child, and feed him

with your prayers.--
You, rascal, slave, what do I keep you for?
How came this woman in ?

Samp. Why, indeed, my lord, I did as good as tell her, before, my thoughts upon the mat

C. Bald. Did you so, sir? Now, then, tell her

mine;
Tell her, I sent you to her.
There's one more to provide for.

(Thrusts him towards her Samp. Good my lord, what I did was in perfect obedience to the old nurse there. I told her what it would come to.

C. Bald. What ! this was a plot upon me. And you, too, beldam, were you in the conspiracy? Begone, go altogether: Í have provided you an equipage, now set up when you please. She's old enough to do you service; I have none for her. The wide world lies before you : begone! take any road but this to beg or starve in-I shall be glad to hear of you: but never, never,

(He drives them off" before him. Isa. Then Heaven have mercy on me!

(Erit with her Child, followed by SAMP

SON and Nurse.

see me more.

ter

ACT II.

tice, you may be persuaded to take the advans SCENE I.-Continues.

tage of other people's crimes.

Vil. I must despise all those advantages, Enter VILLEROY and CARLOS, meeting.

That indirectly can advance my love. Vil. My friend, I fear to ask-but Isabella No, though I live but in the hopes of her, The lovely widow's tears, her orphan's cries, And languish for the enjoyment of those hopes, Thy father must feel for them-No, I read, I'd rather pine in a consuming want I read their cold reception in thine eyes Of what I wish, than have the blessing mine, Thou pitiest them—though Baldwin—but I spare From any reason but consenting love. him

Oh ! let me never have it to remember, For Carlos' sake; thou art no son of his. I could betray her coldly to comply ! There needs not this to endear thee more to me. When a clear generous choice bestows her on me,

(Embrace. I know to value the unequalled gift: Car. My Villeroy, the fatherless, the widow, I would not have it, but to value it. Are terms not understood within these gates Car. Take your own way; remember what I You must forgive him, sir; he thinks this woman offered came from a friend. Is Biron's fate, that hurried him to death

Vil. I understand it so. I'll serve her for here I must not think on't, lest my friendship stagger. self, without the thought of a reward. [Erit. My friend's, my sister's mutual advantage

Car. Agree that point between you. If you Have reconciled my bosom to its task.

marry

her

any way, you do my business. Vil. Advantage! think not I intend to raise I know him—What his generous soul intends An interest from Isabella's wrongs.

Ripens my plots—I'll first to Isabella. Your father may have interested ends

I must keep up appearances with her too. In her undoing; but my heart has none:

[Erit. Her happiness must be my

interest, And that I would restore.

SCENE II.-ISABELLA's House.
Car. Why, so I mean.
These hardships that my father lays upon

Enter ISABELLA and Nurse; Isabella's liillo I am sorry for, and wish I could prevent;

Son at play upon the floor. But he will have his way.

Isa. Sooner, or later, all things pass away, Since there's no hope from her prosperity, her and are no more. The beggar and the king, change of fortune may alter the condition of her With equal steps, tread forward to their end : thoughts, and make for you.

The reconciling grave swallows distinction first, Vil. She is above her fortune.

that made us foes. Car. Try her again. Women commonly love Though they appear of different natures now, according to the circumstances they are in. They meet at last : Vil. Common women may.

Then all alike lie down in peace together. Car. Since you are not accessary to the injus. | When will that hour of peace arrive for me?

her,

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