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Aye, now I see why my disturbed thoughts
Were so perplext when first I went to her;
My heart held augury. You are abus'd,
Some villain has abus'd you; I do see
Whereto you tend; fall rocks upon his head,
That put this to you ; 'tis some subtil train
To bring that noble frame of yours to nought.
Phi. Thou think'st I will be angry with thee, Come,
Thou shalt know all my drift. I hate her more,
Than I love happiness, and plac'd thee there
To pry with narrow eyes into her deeds.
Hast thou discover'd ? is she fal'n to lust,
As I would wish her? Speak some comfort to me.
· Bell. My lord, you did mistake the boy you sent;
Had she a sin that way, hid from the world,
I would not aid
Her base desires; but what I came to know
As servant to her, I would not reveal,
To make my life last ages.
, Phi. O my heart !
This is a salve worse than the main disease.
Tell me thy thoughts; for I will know the least
That dwells within thee, or will rip thy heart
To know it; I will see thy thoughts as plain
As I do know thy face.
Bell. Why, so you do,
She is (for aught I know) by all the gods,
As chaste as ice; but were she foul as hell,
And I did know it, thus ; the breath of kings,
The points of swords, tortures, nor bulls of brass,
Should draw it from me.
Phi. Then it is no time
To dally with thee; I will take thy life,
For I do hate thee; I could curse thee now.
Bell, If you do hate, you could not curse me worse;
The gods have not a punishment in store
Greater for me than is your hate,
Phi. Fie, fie,
So young and so dissembling! fear'st thou not death?
Can boys contemn that?
Bell. O, what boy is he
Can be content to live to be a man,
That sees the best of men thus passionate,
Thus without reason?
Phi. Oh, but thou dost not know what 'tis to die.
Bell. Yes I do know, my lord.
'Tis less than to be born ; a lasting sleep,
A quiet resting from all jealousy ;
A thing we all pursue; I know besides
It is but giving over of a game
That must be lost.
Phi. But there are pains, false boy,
For perjur'd souls ; think but on these, and then
Thy heart will melt, and thou wilt utter all.
Bell. May they fall all upon me whilst I live,
If I be perjured, or have ever thought
Of that you charge me with; if I be false,
Send me to suffer in those punishments
You speak of; kill me.
Phi. O, what should I do?
Why, who can but believe him? He does swear
So earnestly, that if it were not true,
The gods would not endure bim. Rise, Bellario,
Thy protestations are so deep, and thou
Dost look so truly when thou utter'st them,
That though I know them false, as were my hopes,
I cannot urge thee further; but thou wert
To blame to injure me, for I must love
Thy honest looks, and take no revenge upon
Thy tender youth: a love from me to thee
Is firm whate'er thou dost: it troubles me
That I have call'd the blood out of thy cheeks,
That did so well become thee: but, good boy,
Let me not see thee more; something is done
That will distract me, that will make me mad,
If I behold thee; if thou tender’st me,
Let me not see thee,
Bell. I will fly as far
As there is morning, ere I give distaste
To that most honour'd mind. But through these tears,
Shed at my hopeless parting, I can see
A world of treason practis'd upon you,
And her, and me. Farewell for ever more;
If you shall hear that sorrow struck me dead,
And after find me loyal, let there be
A tear shed from you in my memory,
And I shall rest at peace.
Bellario, discovered to be a Woman, confesses the motive for
her disguise to have been Love for Prince Philaster.
My father would oft speak
Your worth and virtue, and as I did grow
More and more apprehensive, I did thirst
To see the man so prais'd, but yet all this
Was but a maiden longing, to be lost
As soon as found, till sitting in my window,
Printing my thoughts in lawn, I saw a god
I thought (but it was you) enter our gates;
My blood flew out, and back again as fast
As I had puft it forth, and suck'd it in
Like breath; then was I call'd away in haste
To entertain you. Never was a man
Heav'd from a sheep-cot to a sceptre, rais'd
So high in thoughts as I; you left a kiss
Upon these lips then, which I mean to keep
From you for ever; I did hear you talk
Far above singing; after you were gone,
I grew acquainted with my heart, and search'd
What stirr'd it so. Alas! I found it love,
Yet far from lust, for could I have but liv'd
In presence of you, I had had my end.
For this I did delude my noble father
With a feign'd pilgrimage, and drest myself
In habit of a boy, and, for I knew
My birth no match for you, I was past hope
Of having you. And understanding well,
lat when I made discovery of my sex,
could not stay with you, I made a vow
y all the most religious things a maid
ould call together, never to be known,
Vhilst there was hope to hide me from men's eyes,
for other than I seem'd; that I might ever
Abide with you : then sate I by the fount
Where first you took me up.95
95 The character of Bellario must have been extremely popular in its day. For many years after the date of Philaster's first exhibition on the stage, scarce a play can be found without one of these women pages in it, following in the train of some pre-engaged lover, calling on the gods to bless her happy rival (his mistress) whom no doubt she secretly curses in her heart, giving rise to many pretty equivoques by the way on the confusion of sex, and either made happy at last by some surprising turn of fate, or dismissed with the joint pity of the lovers and the audience. Our ancestors seem to have been wonderfully delighted with these transformations of sex. Women's parts were then acted by young men. What an odd double confusion it must have made, to see a boy play a woman playing a man : one cannot disentangle the perplexity without some violence to the imagination.
Donne has a copy of verses addrest to his mistress, dissuading her from a resolution, which she seems to have taken up from some of these scenical representations, of following him abroad as a page. It is so earnest, so weighty, so rich in poetry, in sense, in wit, and pathos, that I have thought fit to insert it, as a solemn close in future to all such sickly fancies as he there deprecates. The Story of his romantic and unfortunate marriage with the Daughter of Sir George Moore, the Lady here supposed to be addrest, may be read in Waltou's Lives.
By our first strange and fatal interview,
By all desires which thereof did ensue,
By our long striving hopes, by that remorse
Which my words' masculine persuasive force
Begot in thee, and by the memory
Of hurts, which spies and rivals threatned me,
I calmly beg. But by thy father's wrath,
By all pains which want and divorcement hath,
Nature that loves not to be questioned
Why she did this, or that, but has her ends,
And knows she does well, never gave the world
*Two things so opposite, so contrary,
I conjure thee; and all the oaths, which I
And thou have sworn to seal joint constancy,
I here unswear, and overswear them thus:
Thou shalt not love by means so dangerous.
Temper, O fair love, love's impetuous rage;
Be my true mistress, not my feigned page.
I'll go, and, by thy kind leave, leave behind
Thee, only worthy to nurse in my mind
Thirst to come back; 0), if thou die before,
My soul from other lands to thee shall soar.
Thy (else almighty) beauty cannot move
Rage from the seas, nor thy love teach them love,
Nor tame wild Boreas' harshness; thou hast read
How roughly he in pieces shivered
The fair Orithea, whom he swore he lov'd. :
Fall ill or good, 'tis madness to have prov'd
Dangers unurg'd; feed on this flattery,
That absent lovers one in th’ other be.
Dissemble nothing, not a boy, nor change
Thy body's habit, nor mind; be not strange
To thyself only. All will spy in thy face
A blusuing womanly discovering grace.
Richly cloath'd apes are call'd apes, and as soon
Eclips'd as bright we call the moon the moon.
Men of France, changeable camelions,
Spittles of diseases, shops of fashions,
Lives' fuellers, and the rightest company
Of players which upon the world's stage be,
Will too too quickly know thee; and alas,
Th’ indifferent Italian, as we pass
His warm land, well content to think thee page,
Will hunt thee with such lust, and hideous rage,
As Lot's fair guests were vext. But none of these,
Nor spungy Aydroptique Dutch shall thee displease,
If thou stay here. O stay here; for, for thee
England is only a worthy gallery,
To walk in expectation, till from thence
Our greatest king call thee to his presence.