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Does not the story say, his keel was split,
Or his masts spent, or some kind rock or other
Met with his vessel ?
Ant. Not as I remember.
Asp. It should ha' been so; could the gods know this, And not of all their number raise a storm? But they are all as ill. This false smile was well es
prest, Just such another caught me; you shall not go so, An
In this place work a quick sand,
And over it a shallow smiling water,
And his ship ploughing it, and then a fear.
Do that fear to the life wench.
Ant. 'Twill wrong the story.
Asp. 'Twill make the story, wrong'd by wanton poets, Live long and be believ'd; but where's the lady?
Ant. There, madam.
Asp. Fie, you have miss'd it here, Antiphila,
You are much mistaken, wench ;
These colours are not dull and pale enough,
To shew a soul so full of misery
As this sad lady's was; do it by me,
Do it again by me the lost Aspatia,
shall find all true but the wild island.
I stand upon the sea beach now, and think
Mine arms thus, and mine hair blown with the wind,
Wild as that art, and let all about me
Tell that I am forsaken, do my face
(If thou hadst ever feeling of a sorrow)
Thus, thus, Antiphila, strive to make me look
Like Sorrow's monument; and the trees about me,
Let them be dry and leaveless; let the rocks
Groan with continual surges, and behind me
Make all a desolation ; look, look, wenches,
A miserable life of this poor picture.
Olym. Dear madam!
Asp. I have done, sit down, and let us
Upon that point fix all our eyes, that point there;
Make a dull silence, till you feel a sudden sadness
Give us new souls.94
Evadne implores forgiveness of Amintor for marrying him
while she was the King's Mistress. .
Evad. O my lord.
Amin. How now!
Evad. My much abused lord!
(Kneels.) Amin. This cannot be. Evad. I do not kneel to live, I dare not hope it ;
94 One characteristic of the excellent old poets is their being able to bestow grace upon subjects which naturally do not seem susceptible of any. I will mention two instances: Zelmane in the Arcadia of Sidney, and Helena in the All's Well that Ends Well of Shakspeare. What can be more unpromising at first sight than the idea of a young man disguising himself in woman's attire, and passing himself off for a woman among women? and that too for a long space of time? yet Sir Philip has preserved such a matchless decorum, that neither does Pyrocles' manhood suffer any stain for the effeminacy of Zelmane, nor is the respect due to the princesses at all diminished when the deception comes to be known. In the sweetly constituted mind of Sir Philip Sidney it seems as if no ugly thought nor unhandsome meditation could find a harbour. He turned all that he touched into images of honour and virtue. Helena in Shakspeare, is a young woman seeking a man in marriage. The ordinary laws of courtship are reversed; the habitual feelings are violated. Yet with such exquisite address this dangerous subject is bandled, that Helena's forwardness loses her no honour; delicacy dispenses with her laws in her favour, and Nature in her single case seems content to suffer a sweet violation.
Aspatia in this Tragedy, is a character equally difficult with Helena of being managed with grace. She too is a slighted woman, refused by the man who had once engaged to marry her. Yet it is artfully contrived that while we pity her, we respect her, and she descends without degradation. So much true poetry and passion can do to confer dignity upon subjects which do not seem capable of it. But Aspatia must not be compared at all points with Helena; she does not so absolutely predominate over her situation but she suffers some diminution, some abatement of the full lustre of the female character ; which Helena never does : her character has many degrees of sweetness, some of delicacy, but it has weakness which if we do not despise, we are sorry for. After all
, Beaumont and Fleteher were but an inferior sort of Shakspeares and Sidneys.
The wrongs I did are greater; look upon me,
Though I appear with
all my faults.
Amin. Stand up.
This is no new way to beget more sorrow?
Heaven knows I have too many; do not mock me;
Though I am tame and bred
with my wrongs,
Which are my foster-brothers, I may leap
Like a hand-wolf into my natural wilderness,
And do an outrage: pray thee do not mock me.
Evad. My whole life is so leprous, it infects
All my repentance: I would buy your pardon
Though at the highest set, even with my life.
That slight contrition, that's no sacrifice
For what I have committed.
Amin. Sure I dazzle :
There cannot be a faith in that foul woman,
That knows no god more mighty than her mischiefs
. Thou dost still worst, still number on thy faults, To
press my poor heart thus. Can I believe
There's any seed of virtue in that woman
Left to shoot up, that dares go co in sin
Known, and so known as thine is? O Evadne !
Would there were any safety in thy sex,
That I might put a thousand sorrows off,
And credit thy repentance: but I must not ;
Thou hast brought me to the dull calamity,
To that strange misbelief of all the world,
And all things that are in it, that I fear
I shall fall like a tree, and find my grave,
Only rememb'ring that I grieve,
Evad. My lord,
Give me your griefs : you are an innocent,
A soul as white as heaven : let not my sins
Perish your noble youth : I do not fall here
To shadow by dissembling with my tears,
As all say women can, or to make less
What my hot will hath done, which heaven and you
Knows to be tougher than the hand of time
Can cut from man's remembrance; no I do not;
I đo appear the same, the same Evadne,
Drest in the shames I liv'd in, the same monster.
But these are names of honour, to what I am ;
I do present myself the foulest creature,
Most poisonous, dangerous, and despis'd of men,
Lerna e'er bred, or Nilus; I am hell,
Till you, my dear lord, shoot your light into me,
The beams of your forgiveness: I am soul-sick,
And wither with the fear of one condemn'd,
Till I have got your pardon.
Amin. Rise, Evadne.
Those heavenly powers that put this good into thee;
Grant a continuance of it: I forgive thee;
Make thyself worthy of it, and take heed,
Take heed, Evadne, this be serious ;
Mock not the powers above, that can and dare
Give thee a great example of their justice
To all ensuing eyes, if thou play'st
With thy repentance, the best sacrifice.
Evad. I have done nothing good to win belief,
My life hath been so faithless; all the creatures
Made for heaven's honours have their ends, and good
All but the cousening Crocodiles, false women;
They reign here like those plagues, those killing sores,
Men pray against; and when they die, like tales
III told, and unbeliev'd, they pass away
And go to dust forgotten: but, my lord,
Those short days I shall number to my rest,
(As many must not see me) shall, though too late,
Though in my evening, yet perceive a will,
Since I can do no good because a woman,
Reach constantly at something that is near it;
I will redeem one minute of my age,
Or like another Niobe I'll weep
Till I am water.
Amin. I am now dissolved :
My frozen soul melts : may each sin thou hast,
Find a new mercy : rise, I am at peace:
Had'st thou been thus, thus excellently good,
Before that devil king tempted thy frailty,
Sure thou had’st made a star: give me thy hand;
From this time I will know thee, and as far
As honour gives me leave, be thy Amintor :
When we meet next, I will salute thee fairly,
And pray the gods to give thee happy days :
My charity shall go along with thee,
Though my embraces must be far from thee.
Men's Natures more hard and subtil than Women's.
How stubbornly this fellow answer'd me !
There is a vile dishonest trick in man,
More than in women : all the men I meet
Appear thus to me, are harsh and rude,
And have a subtilty in every thing,
Which love could never know; but we fond women
Harbour the easiest and smoothest thoughts,
And think all shall go so; it is unjust
That men and women should be matcht together.