Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE

MOURNING BRIDE.

BY

CONGREVE.

PROLOGUE.

The time has been when plays were not so Still they proceed, and, at our charge, write worse; plenty,

'Twere some amends, if they could reimburse. And a less number, new, would well content ye. But there's the devil, though their cause is lost, New plays did then like almanacks appear, There's no recovering damages or cost. And one was thought sufficient for a year: Good wits, forgive this liberty we take, Though they are more like almanacks of late; Since custom gives the losers leave to speak. For in one year, I think they're out of date. But if provok'd your dreadful wrath remains; Nor were they, without reason, join’d together; Take your revenge upon the coming scenes: For just as one ognosticates the weather, For that damn'd poet's spar'd, who damns a How plentiful the crop, or scarce the grain,

brother, What peals of thunder, or what showers of rain; | As one thief 'scapes, that executes another. So t'other can foretell, by certain rules,

Thus far alone does to the wits relate; What crops of coxcombs, or what floods of fools. But from the rest we hope a better fate. In suchlike prophecies were poets skill'd, To please, and move, has been one poet's theme, Which now they find in their own tribe fulfillid. Art may direct, but nature is his aim; The dearth of wit they did so long presage, And, nature miss'd, in vain he boasts his art, Is fallen on us, and almost starves the stage. For only nature can affect the heart. Were you not grieved, as often as you saw Then freely judge the scenes that shall ensue; Poor actors thresh such empty sheafs of straw? But, as with freedom, judge with candour too. Toiling and labʼring at their lungs' expence

He would not lose, through prejudice, his cause; To start a jest, or force a little sense?

Nor would obtain, precariously, applause. Hard fate for us, still harder in th' event : Impartial censure he requests from all, Our authors sin, but we alone repent.

Prepar’d by just decrees to stand or fall.

[blocks in formation]

ACT I.

nal cause,

SCENE I.

Alm. Alphonso ! O Alphonso !

Thou too art quiet—long hast been at peaceA Room of State. The curtain rising slowly to Both, both ! father and son are now no more.

soft music, discovers ALMERIA in mourning, Then why am I? Oh, when shall I have rest? LEONORA waiting in mourning.

Why do I live to say you are no more? After the music, ALMERIA rises from her chair, Why are all these things thus? Is it of force? and comes forward.

Is there necessity I must be miserable ?

Is it of moment to the peace of heaven, Alm. Music has charms to sooth a savage breast, That I should be afflicted thus ? If not, To soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak. Why is it thus contrived? Why are things laid I've read, that things inanimate have moved, By some unseen hand, so as of sure consequence, And, as with living souls, have been informed They must to me bring curses, grief of heart, By magic numbers and persuasive sound.

The last distress of life, and sure despair ? What then am I? Am I more senseless grown Leon. Alas! you search too far, and think too Than trees or flint? O, force of constant woe!

deeply. 'Tis not in harmony to calm my griefs.

Alm. Why was I carried to Anselmo's court? Anselmo sleeps, and is at peace; last night Or there, why was I used so tenderly? The silent tomb received the good old king. Why not ill-treated, like an enemy? He and his sorrows now are safely lodged For so my father would have used his child. Within its cold, but hospitable bosom.

Oh, Alphonso, Alphonso ! Why am not I at peace?

Devouring seas have washed thee from my sightLeon. Dear madam, cease,

No time shall raze thee from my memory; Or moderate your grief; there is no cause- No, I will live to be thy monument: Alm. No cause! Peace, peace; there is eter The cruel ocean is no more thy tomb,

But in my heart thou art interred; there, there, And misery eternal will succeed.

Thy dear resemblance is for ever fixed; Thou canst not tell--thou hast indeed no cause. My love, my lord, my husband still, though lost

Leon. Believe me, madam, I lament Anselmo, Leon. Husband! Oh, Heavens ! And always did compassionate his fortune; Alm. Alas! what have I said? Have often wept, to see how cruelly

My grief has hurried me beyond all thought. Your father kept in chains his fellow-king:

I would have kept that secret ; though I know And oft, at night, when all have been retired, Thy love, and faith to me deserve all confidence. Have stolen from bed, and to his prison crept ; But 'tis the wretch's comfort still to have Where, while his gaoler slept, I through the grate Some small reserve of near and inward woe, Have softly whispered, and enquired his health; Some unsuspected hoard of darling grief, Sent in my sighs and prayers for his deliverance, which they unseen may wail, and weep, and For sighs and prayers were all that I could offer.

mourn, Aim. Indeed thou hast a soft and gentle na And, glutton-like, alone devour. ture,

Leon. Indeed, That thos could melt to see a stranger's wrongs. I knew not this. Oh, Lconora! hadst thou known Anselmo, Alm. Oh, no, thou know'st not half,. How would thy heart have bled to see his suffer- Know'st nothing of my sorrows—if thou didst

If I should tell thee, wouldst thou pity me? Thou hadst no cause, but general compassion. Tell me; I know thou wouldst; thou art colLeon. Love of my royal mistress gave me cause;

passionate. My love of you begot my grief for him :

Leon. Witness these tears For I had heard, that when the chance of war Alm. I thank thee, LeonoraHad blessed Anselmo's arms with victory, Indeed I do, for pitying thy sad mistress : And the rich spoil of all the field, and you, For 'tis, alas! the poor prerogative The glory of the whole, were made the prey Of greatness to be wretched, and unpitiedOf his success; that then, in spite of hate, But I did promise I would tell thee-What? Revenge, and that hereditary feud

My miseries! Thou dost already know them : Between Valentia's and Granada's kings, And when I told thee thou didst nothing know, He did endear himself to your affection,

It was because thou didst not know Alphons: By all the worthy and indulgent ways

For to have known my loss, thou must here His most industrious goodness could invent;

known Proposing, by a match between Alphonso, His worth, his truth, and tenderness of love. His son, the brave Valentian prince, and you, Leon. The memory of that brave prince stands To end the long dissention, and unite

fair The jarring crowns.

In all report

ings!

And I have heard imperfectly his loss ;

This torrent of your grief; for, this I fear, But, fearful to renew your troubles past, 'Twill urge his wrath, to see you drowned in tears. I never did presume to ask the story.

When joy appears in every other face. Alm. If for my swelling heart I can, I'll tell thee. Alm. And joy he brings to every other heart, I was a welcome captive in Valentia,

But double, double weight of woe to mine: Even on the day when Manuel, my father, For with him Garcia comes-Garcia, to whom Led on his conquering troops high as the gates I must be sacrificed, and all the vows Of king Anselmo's palace; which, in rage, I gave my dear Alphonso basely broken. And heat of war, and dire revenge, he fired. No, it shall never be; for I wil die The good king, flying to avoid the flames, First, die ten thousand deaths—Look down, look Started amidst his foes, and made captivity

down, His fatal refuge-Would that I had fallen Alphonso, hear the sacred vow I make! (Kneels. Amidst those flames—but 'twas not so decreed. One moment, cease to gaze on perfect bliss, Alphonso, who foresaw my father's cruelty, And bend thy glorious eyes to earth and me! Had borne the queen and me on board a ship, And thou, Anselmo, if yet thou art arrived, Ready to sail; and, when this news was brought, Through all impediments of purging fire, We put to sea; but being betrayed by some To that bright heaven, where my Alphonso reigns, Who knew our flight, we closely were pursued Behold thou also, and attend my vow! And almost taken; when a sudden storm If ever I do yield, or give consent, Drove us, and those that followed, on the coast By any action, word, or thought, to wed Of Afric: There our vessel struck the shore, Another lord, may then just heaven shower down And, bulging 'gainst a rock, was dashed in pieces; Unheard of curses on me, greater far But heaven spared me for yet much more afflic- (If such there be in angry heaven's vengeance) tion !

Than any I have yet endur'd !.And now (Rising, Conducting them who followed us, to shun My heart has some relief; having so well The shore, and save me floating on the waves, Discharged this debt, incumbent on my love. While the good queen and my Alphonso perished. Yet one thing more I would engage from thee. Leon. Alas! were you then wedded to Al Leon. My heart, my life, and will, are only phonso ?

yours. Alm. That day, that fatal day, our hands were Alm. I thank thee. 'Tis but this : anon, when joined.

all For when my lord beheld the ship pursuing, Are wrapped and busied in the general joy, And saw her rate so far exceeding ours,

Thou wilt withdraw, and privately with me He came to me, and begged me by my love, Steal forth, to visit good Ànselmo's tomb. I would consent the priest should make us one; Leon. Alas! I fear some fatal resolution. That, whether death or victory ensued,

Alm. No, on my life, my faith, I mean no ill, I might be his, beyond the power of fate; Nor violence I feel myself more light, The queen too did assist his suit-I granted; And more at large, since I have made this vow. And in one day was wedded and a widow. Perhaps I would repeat it there more solemnly. Leon. Indeed 'twas mournful

'Tis that, or some such melancholy thought; Alm. 'Twas as I have told thee

Upon my word, no more.
For which I mourn, and will for ever mourn;

Leon. I will attend you.
Nor will I change these black and dismal robes,
Or ever dry these swoln and watery eyes,

Enter ALONZO.
Or ever taste content, or peace of heart,

Alon. The lord Gonsalez comes to tell your While I have life, and thought of my Alphonso.

highness, Leon. Look down, good heaven, with pity on The king is just arrived. her sorrows,

Alm. Conduct him in.

[E.rit Alon. And grant that time may bring her some relief ! That's his pretence; his errand is, I know, Alm. Oh, no! time gives increase to my afflic To fill my ears with Garcia's valiant deeds, tions.

And gild and magnify his son's exploits. The circling hours, that gather all the woes But I am armed with ice around my heart, Which are diffused through the revolving year, Not to be warmed with words, or idle eloquence. Come heavy laden with the oppressing weight

Enter GONS EZ. To me; with me successively, they leave The sighs, the tears, the groans, the restless cares, Gon. Be ev'ry day of your long life like this! And all the damps of grief, that did retard their The sun, bright conquest, and your brighter eyes, flight:

Have all conspired to blaze promiscuous light, They shake their downy wings, and scatter all And bless this day with most unequalled lustre. The dire collected dews on my poor head, Your royal father, my victorious lord, Then fly with joy and swiftness from me. Loaden with spoils, and ever-living laurel,

[Shouts at a distance. Is entering now, in martial pomp, the palace. Leon. Hark!

Five hundred mules precede his solemn march, The distant shouts proclaim your father's triumph. Which groan beneath the weight of Moorish Ocease, for heaven's sake, assuage a little

wealth.

1

Chariots of war, adorned with glittering gems, King. Your zeal to heaven is great, so is you Succeed; and next, a hundred neighing steeds,

debt: White as the fleecy rain on Alpine hills, Yet something, too, is due to me, who gave That bound and foam, and champ the golden bit, That life, which heaven preserved. A day be As they disdained the victory they grace.

stowed Prisoners of war in shining fetters follow; In filial duty, had atoned and given And captains of the noblest blood of Afric A dispensation to your vow-No more! Sweal by his chariot wheel, and lick and grind, 'Twas weak and wilful and a woman's error. With gnashing teeth, the dust his triumphs raise. Yet, upon thought, it doubly wounds my sight, The swarming populace spread every wall, To see that sable worn upon the day, And cling, as if with claws they did enforce Succeeding that, in which our deadliest foe, Their hold; through clifted stones stretching and Hated Anselmo, was interred-By heaven, staring,

It looks as thou didst mourn for him! just 30 As if they were all eyes, and every limb Thy senseless vow appeared to bear its date, Would feel its faculty of admiration;

Not from that hour wherein thou wert preserved, While you alone retire, and shun this sight; But that wherein the cursed Alphonso perished, This sight, which is indeed not seen (though Ha! What? thou dost not weep to think of that! twice

Gon. Have patience, royal sir ; the princess The multitude should gaze) in absence of your

weeps eyes.

To have offended you. If fate decreed, Alm. My lord, my eyes ungratefully behold One 'pointed hour should be Alphonso's loss, The gilded trophies of exterior honours;

And her deliverance, is she to blame: Nor will my ears be charmed with sounding King. I tell thee she's to blame, not to have words,

feasted Or pompous phrase, the pageantry of fools. When my first foe was laid in earth; such enmity, But that my father is returned in safety,

Such detestation bears my blood to his, I bend to heaven with thanks.

My daughter should have revelled at his death, Gon. Excellent princess !

She should have made these palace walls to shake, But 'tis a task unfit for my weak age,

And all this high and ample roof to ring With dying words to offer at your praise. With her rejoicings. What, to mour and weep! Garcia, my son, your beauty's lowest slave, Then, then to weep, and pray, and grieve ! by Has better done, in proving with his sword

heaven, The force and influence of your matchless charms. There's not a slave, a shackled slave of mine,

Alm. I doubt not of the worth of Garcia's deeds, But should have smiled that hour through all his Which had been brave, though I had ne'er been

care, born.

And shook his chains, in transport and rude harLeon. Madam, the king.

(Flourish.

mony. Alm. My women. I would meet him.

Gon. What she has done, was in excess of (Attendants to ALMERIA enter in mourning.

goodness ;

Betrayed by too much piety, to seem Symphony of warlike music. Enter the King, As it she liad offended. Sure, no more. attended by GARCIA and several offeers. Files

King. To seem is to commit, at this conjuncture. of prisoners in chains, and guards, who are

I would not have a seeming sorrow seen ranged in order round the stage. ALMERIA To-day.—Retire; divest yourself with speed meets the King, and kneels : afterwards Gon- Of that offensive black: on me be all Salez kneels and kisses the king's hand, while The violation of your vow; for you GARCIA does the same to the princess.

It shall be your excuse, that I command it. King. Almeria, rise-My best Gonsalez, rise. Gar. [Kneeling.) Your pardon, sir, if I preWhat, tears ! my good old friend

sume so far, Gon. But tears of joy.

As to remind you of your gracious promise. Believe me, sir, to see you thus, has filled

King. Rise, Garcia, I forgot.-Yet stay, AlMine eyes with more delight than they can hold.

meria. King. By heaven, thou lov'st me, and I'm Alm. My boding heart !-What is your plez

pleased thou dost; Take it for thanks, old man, that I rejoice King. Draw near, and give your hand, antl, To see thee weep on this occasion-Some

Garcia, yours : Here are, who seem to mourn at our success. Receive thi: lord, as one whom I have found Why is't, Almeria, that you meet our eyes, Worthy to be your husband, and my son. Upon this solemn day, in these sad weeds ? Gar. Thus let me kneelto take-O not to take In opposition to my brightness, you

But to devote, and yield myself for ever And yours are all like daughters of affliction. The slave and creature of my royal mistress!

Alm. Forgive me, sir, if I in this offend. Gon. O let me prostrate pay my worthless The year, which I have vowed to pay to heaven,

thanksIn mourning and strict life, for my deliverance King. No more: my promise long since pass From wreck and death, wants yet to be expired.

ed, thy services,

sure, sir?

pose him.

And Garcia's well-tried valour, all oblige me. And native right to arbitrary sway,
This day we triumph; but to-morrow's sun, I might be pleased, when I behold this train
Garcia, shall shine to grace thy nuptials With usual homage wait: but when I feel
Alm. Oh!

(Faints. These bonds, I look with loathing on myself, Gar. She saints! Help to support her. And scorn vile slavery, though doubly hid Gon. She recovers.

Beneath mock praises, and dissembled state. King. A fit of bridal fear. How is't, Almeria ? King. Those bonds! 'Twas my command you Alm. A sudden chillness seizes on my spirits.

should be free. Your leave, sir, to retire.

How durst you, Perez, disobey? King. Garcia, conduct her.

Per. Great sir, GARCIA leads ALMERIA to the door, and returns. Your order was she should not wait your triumph, This idle vow hangs on her woman's fears; But at some distance follow, thus attended. I'll have a priest shall preach her from her faith, King. 'Tis false; 'twas more; I bid she should And make it sin, not to renounce that vow

be free; Which I'd have broken.- Now, what would If not in words, I bid it by my eyes. Alonzo ?

Her eyes did more than bid—Free her and her's,

With speed—yet stay—my hands alone can make Enter ALONZO.

Fit restitution here. Thus I release you, Alon. Your beauteous captive, Zara, is arrived, And, by releasing you, enslave myself. And with a train as if she still were wife

Zara. Such favours, so conferred, though when To Albucacim, and the Moor had conquered.

unsought, King. It is our will she should be so attended. Deserve acknowledgment from noble minds. Bear hence these prisoners. Garcia, which is he, Such thanks as one, hating to be obliged, Of whose mute valour you relate such wonders? Yet hating more ingratitude, can pay,

(Prisoners led off. I offer. Gar. Osmyn, who led the Moorish borse; King. Born to excel, and to command ! but he,

As by transcendent beauty to attract Great sir, at her request, attends on Zara. All eyes; so, by pre-eminence of soul, King. He is your prisoner; as you please dis

To rule all hearts !

Garcia, what's he, who, with contracted brow, Gar. I would oblige him, but he shuns my (Beholding Osmyn as they unbind him. kindness;

And sullen port, glooms downward with his eyes, And with a haughty mien, and stern civility, At once regardless of his chains, or liberty? Dumbly declines all offers. If he speak,

Gar. That, sir, is he of whom I spoke; that's 'Tis scarce above a word; as he were born

Osmyn. Alone to do, and did disdain to talk;

King. He answers well the character you gave At least to talk where he must not command.

him. King. Such sullenness, and in a man so brave, Whence comes it, valiant Osmyn, that a man Must have some other cause than his captivity. So great in arms, as thou art said to be, Did Zara, then, request he might attend her? So hardly can endure captivity, Gar. My lord, she did.

The common chance of war? King. That, joined with his behaviour,

Osm. Because captivity Begets a doubt. I'd have them watched; per- Has robbed me of a dear and just revenge. haps

King. I understand not that. Her chains hang heavier on him than his own. Osm. I would not have you.

Zara. That gallant Moor in battle lost a friend, Enter ALONZO, ZARA, and Osmyn bound, con Whom more than life he loved; and the regret, ducted by PEREZ and a guurd, and attended

Of not revenging on his foes that loss, by SELIM and several mutes and eunuchs in a Has caused this melancholy and despair. train.

King. She does excuse him; 'tis as I suspected. King. What welcome, and what honours,

[To Gon. beauteous Zara,

Gon. That friend might be herself; seem not A king and conqueror can give, are yours.

to heed A conqueror indeed, where you are won; His arrogant reply: she looks concerned. Who with such lustre strike admiring eyes,

King. I'll have inquiry made; perhaps his That had our pomp been with your presence

friend graced,

Yet lives, and is a prisoner. His name? The expecting crowd had been deceived; and Zura. Heli,

King. Garcia, that search shall be your care: The monarch enter, not triumphant, but, It shall be mine to pay devotion here; In pleasing triumph led, your beauty's slave. At this fair shrine to lay my laurels down,

Zurn. If I on any terms could condescend And raise love's altar on the spoils of war, To like captivity, or think those honours, Conquest and triumph, now, are mine no more; Which conquerors in courtesy bestow,

Nor will I victory in camps adore: Of equal value with unborrowed rule,

For, lingering there, in long suspence she st?

seen

« PreviousContinue »