’Tis Pity She’s a Whore, by John Ford

ACT V.

SCENE I.

The Street before Soranzo’s House.

Annabella appears at a Window, above.

Annabella. Pleasures, farewell, and all ye thriftless minutes
Wherein false joys have spun a weary life!
To these my fortunes now I take my leave.
Thou, precious Time, that swiftly rid’st in post
Over the world, to finish up the race
Of my last fate, here stay thy restless course,
And bear to ages that are yet unborn
A wretched, woeful woman’s tragedy!
My conscience now stands up against my lust,
With depositions character’d in guilt,

Enter Friar, below.

And tells me I am lost: now I confess;
Beauty that clothes the outside of the face,
Is cursed if it be not cloth’d with grace.
Here like a turtle, (mew’d up in a cage,)
Unmated, I converse with air and walls,
And descant on my vile unhappiness.
O Giovanni, that hast had the spoil
Of thine own virtues, and my modest fame;
Would thou hadst been less subject to those stars
That luckless reign’d at my nativity!
O would the scourge, due to my black offence,
Might pass from thee, that I alone might feel
The torment of an uncontrouled flame!

Friar. What’s this I hear?

Annabella. That man, that blessed friar,
Who join’d in ceremonial knot my hand
To him whose wife I now am, told me oft,
I trod the path to death, and shew’d me how.
But they who sleep in lethargies of lust,
Hug their confusion, making Heaven unjust;
And so did I.

Friar. Here’s music to the soul!

Annabella. Forgive me, my good Genius, and this once
Be helpful to my ends; let some good man
Pass this way, to whose trust I may commit
This paper, double lined with tears and blood;
Which being granted, here I sadly vow
Repentance, and a leaving of that life
I long have died in.

Friar. Lady, Heaven hath heard you,
And hath by providence ordain’d, that I
Should be his minister for your behoof.

Annabella. Ha, what are you?

Friar. Your brother’s friend, the Friar;
Glad in my soul that I have liv’d to hear
This free confession ’twixt your peace and you:
What would you, or to whom? fear not to speak.

Annabella. Is Heaven so bountiful? — then I have found
More favour than I hoped; here, holy man —
[Throws down a letter.
Commend me to my brother, give him that,
That letter; bid him read it, and repent.
Tell him that I, imprison’d in my chamber,
Barr’d of all company, even of my guardian,
(Which gives me cause of much suspect) have time
To blush at what hath past; bid him be wise,
And not believe the friendship of my lord;
I fear much more than I can speak: good father,
The place is dangerous, and spies are busy.
I must break off. — you’ll do’t?

Friar. Be sure I will,
And fly with speed: my blessing ever rest
With thee, my daughter; live, to die more blest!

[Exit.

Annabella. Thanks to the heavens, who have prolong’d my breath
To this good use! now I can welcome death.

[Withdraws from the window.

SCENE II.

Another Room in the same.

Enter Soranzo and Vasques.

Vasques. Am I to be believed now? first, marry a strumpet that cast herself away upon you but to laugh at your horns! to feast on your disgrace, riot in your vexations, cuckold you in your bride — bed, waste your estate upon panders and bawds! —

Soranzo. No more, I say, no more.

Vasques. A cuckold is a goodly tame beast, my lord!

Soranzo. I am resolv’d; urge not another word;
My thoughts are great, and all as resolute
As thunder; in mean time, I’ll cause our lady
To deck herself in all her bridal robes;
Kiss her, and fold her gently in my arms.
Begone — yet hear you, are the banditti ready
To wait in ambush?

Vasques. Good sir, trouble not yourself about other business than your own resolution; remember that time lost cannot be recalled.

Soranzo. With all the cunning words thou canst, invite
The states of Parma to my birth-day’s feast:
Haste to my brother-rival and his father,
Entreat them gently, bid them not to fail;
Be speedy, and return.

Vasques. Let not your pity betray you, till my coming back; think upon incest and cuckoldry.

Soranzo. Revenge is all the ambition I aspire,
To that I’ll climb or fall; my blood’s on fire.

[Exeunt.

SCENE III.

A Room in Florio’s House.

Enter Giovanni.

Giovanni. Busy opinion is an idle fool,
That, as a school-rod keeps a child in awe,
Frights th’ unexperienced temper of the mind:
So did it me; who, ere my precious sister
Was married, thought all taste of love would die
In such a contract; but I find no change
Of pleasure in this formal law of sports.
She is still one to me, and every kiss
As sweet and as delicious as the first
I reap’d, when yet the privilege of youth
Entitled her a virgin. O the glory;
Of two united hearts like hers and mine!
Let poring book-men dream of other worlds;
My world, and all of happiness, is here,
And I’d not change it for the best to come:
A life of pleasure is Elysium.

Enter Friar.

Father, you enter on the jubilee
Of my retired delights; now I can tell you,
The hell you oft have prompted, is nought else
But slavish and fond superstitious fear;
And I could prove it too

Friar. Thy blindness slays thee:
Look there, ’tis writ to thee. [Gives him the letter.

Giovanni. From whom?

Friar. Unrip the seals and see;
The blood’s yet seething hot, that will anon
Be frozen harder than congealed coral. —
Why d’ye change colour, son?

Giovanni. ’Fore heaven, you make
Some petty devil factor ’twixt my love
And your religion-masked sorceries.
Where had you this?

Friar. Thy conscience, youth, is sear’d,
Else thou would’st stoop to warning.

Giovanni. Tis her hand,
I know’t; and ’tis all written in her blood.
She writes I know not what. Death! I’ll not fear
An armed thunderbolt aim’d at my heart.
She writes, we are discover’d — pox on dreams
Of low faint-hearted cowardice! — discover’d?
The devil we are! which way is’t possible?
Are we grown traitors to our own delights?
Confusion take such dotage! ’tis but forged;
This is your peevish chattering, weak old man! —
Now, sir, what news bring you?

Enter Vasques.

Vasques. My lord, according to his yearly custom, keeping this day a feast in honour of his birthday, by me invites you thither. Your worthy father, with the pope’s reverend nuncio, and other magnificoes of Parma, have promised their presence; will’t please you to be of the number?

Giovanni. Yes, tell [him] I dare come.

Vasques. Dare come?

Giovanni. So I said; and tell him more, I will come.

Vasques. These words are strange to me.

Giovanni. Say, I will come.

Vasques. You will not miss?

Giovanni. Yet more! I’ll come, sir. Are you answered?

Vasques. So I’ll say my service to you. [Exit.

Friar. You will not go, I trust.

Giovanni. Not go! for what?

Friar. O, do not go; this feast, I’ll gage my life,
Is but a plot to train you to your ruin;
Be ruled, you shall not go.

Giovanni. Not go! stood death
Threatening his armies of confounding plagues,
With hosts of dangers hot as blazing stars,
I would be there; not go! yes, and resolve
To strike as deep in slaughter as they all;
For I will go.

Friar. Go where thou wilt; — I see
The wildness of thy fate draws to an end,
To a bad fearful end:— I must not stay
To know thy fall; back to Bononia I
With speed will haste, and shun this coming blow.
Parma, farewell; would I had never known thee,
Or aught of thine! Well, young man, since no prayer
Can make thee safe, I leave thee to despair. [Exit.

Giovanni. Despair, or tortures of a thousand hells,
All’s one to me; I have set up my rest.52
Now, now, work serious thoughts on baneful plots;
Be all a man, my soul; let not the curse
Of old prescription rend from me the gall
Of courage, which enrolls a glorious death:
If I must totter like a well-grown oak,
Some under-shrubs shall in my weighty fall
Be crush’d to splits; with me they all shall perish!

[Exit.

52 I have set up my rest.] i.e. I have made my determination; taken my fixed and final resolution. — See Jonson, vol. ii p. 142.

SCENE IV.

A Hall in Soranzo’s Home.

Enter Soranzo, Vasques with Masks, and Banditti.

Soranzo. You will not fail, or shrink in the attempt?

Vasques. I will undertake for their parts; be sure, my masters, to be bloody enough, and as unmerciful as if you were preying upon a rich booty oh the very mountains of Liguria: for your pardons, trust to my lord; but for reward, you shall trust none but your own pockets.

Banditti. We’ll make a murder.

Soranzo. Here’s gold — [Gives them money]— here’s more; want nothing; what you do
Is noble, and an act of brave revenge:
I’ll make you rich, banditti, and all free.

Omnes. Liberty! liberty!

Vasques. Hold, take every man a vizard; when you are withdrawn, keep as much silence as you can possibly. You know the watch-word,53 till which be spoken, move not; but when you hear that, rush in like a stormy flood: I need not instruct you in your own profession.

Omnes. No, no, no.

Vasques. In, then; your ends are profit and preferment. — Away! [Exeunt Ban.

Soranzo. The guests will all come, Vasques?

Vasques. Yes, sir. And now let me a little edge your resolution: you see nothing is unready to this great work, but a great mind in you; call to your remembrance your disgraces, your loss of honour, Hippolita’s blood, and arm your courage in your own wrongs; so shall you best right those wrongs in vengeance, which you may truly call your own.

Soranzo. ’Tis well; the less I speak, the more I burn,
And blood shall quench that flame.

Vasques. Now you begin to turn Italian. This beside; when my young incest-monger comes, he will be sharp set on his old bit: give him time enough, let him have your chamber and bed at liberty; let my hot hare have law ere he be hunted to his death, that, if it be possible, he post to hell in the very act of his damnation.54

Soranzo. It shall be so; and see, as we would wish, He comes himself first —

Enter Giovanni.

Welcome, my much-lov’d brother;
Now I perceive you honour me; you are welcome —
But where’s my father?

Giovanni. With the other states,
Attending on the nuncio of the pope,
To wait upon him hither. How’s my sister?

Soranzo. Like a good housewife, scarcely ready yet;
You were best walk to her chamber.

Giovanni. If you will.

Soranzo. I must expect my honourable friends;
Good brother, get her forth.

Giovanni. You are busy, sir. [Exit.

Vasques. Even as the great devil himself would have it! let him go and glut himself in his own destruction —[Flourish.]— Hark, the nuncio is at hand; good sir, be ready to receive him.

Enter Cardinal, Florio, Donado, Richardetto, and Attendants.

Soranzo. Most reverend lord, this grace hath made me proud,
That you vouchsafe my house; I ever rest
Your humble servant for this noble favour.

Cardinal. You are our friend, my lord; his Holiness
Shall understand how zealously you honour
Saint Peter’s vicar in his substitute:
Our special love to you.

Soranzo. Signiors, to you
My welcome, and my ever best of thanks
For this so memorable courtesy.
Pleaseth your grace walk near?

Cardinal. My lord, we come
To celebrate your feast with civil mirth,
As ancient custom teacheth: we will go.

Soranzo. Attend his grace there. Signiors, keep your way.

[Exeunt.

53 You know the watch-word.] It appears, from a subsequent passage, that this was “Vengeance.”

54 That, if it be possible, he post to hell in the very act of his damnation.] This infernal sentiment has been copied from Shakspeare by several writers who were nearly his contemporaries. — Reed. It is not, however, ill placed in the mouth of such an incarnate fiend as Vasques.

SCENE V.

Annabella’s Bed Chamber in the same.

Annabella, richly dressed, and Giovanni.

Giovanni. What, chang’d so soon! hath your new sprightly lord
Found out a trick in night-games more than we
Could know, in our simplicity? — Ha! is’t so?
Or does the fit come on you, to prove treacherous
To your past vows and oaths?

Annabella. Why should you jest
At my calamity, without all sense
Of the approaching dangers you are in?

Giovanni. What danger’s half so great as thy revolt?
Thou art a faithless sister, else thou know’st,
Malice, or any treachery beside,
Would stoop to my bent brows; why, I hold fate
Clasp’d in my fist, and could command the course
Of time’s eternal motion, hadst thou been
One thought more steady than an ebbing sea.
And what? you’ll now be honest, that’s resolv’d?

Annabella. Brother, dear brother, know what I have been,
And know that now there’s but a dining-time
’Twixt us and our confusion; let’s not waste
These precious hours in vain and useless speech.
Alas! these gay attires were not put on
But to some end; this sudden solemn feast
Was not ordain’d to riot in expense;
I that have now been chamber’d here alone,
Barr’d of my guardian, or of any else,
Am not for nothing at an instant freed
To fresh access. Be not deceiv’d, my brother,
This banquet is an harbinger of death
To you and me; resolve yourself it is,
And be prepared to welcome it.

Giovanni. Well, then;
The schoolmen teach that all this globe of earth
Shall be consumed to ashes in a minute.

Annabella. So I have read too.

Giovanni. But ’twere somewhat strange
To see the waters burn; could I believe
This might be true, I could believe as well
There might be hell or heaven.

Annabella. That’s most certain.

Giovanni. A dream, a dream! else in this other world
We should know one another.

Annabella. So we shall.

Giovanni. Have you heard so?

Annabella. For certain.

Giovanni. But do you think,
That I shall see you there? You look on me.55
May we kiss one another, prate or laugh,
Or do as we do here?

Annabella. I know not that;
But — brother, for the present, what d’ye mean56
To free yourself from danger? some way think
How to escape; I’m sure the guests are come.

Giovanni. Look up, look here; what see you in my face?

Annabella. Distraction and a troubled conscience.57

Giovanni. Death, and a swift repining wrath:— yet look;
What see you in mine eyes?

Annabella. Methinks you weep.

Giovanni. I do indeed; these are the funeral tears
Shed on your grave; these furrow’d up my cheeks
When first I lov’d and knew not how to woo.
Fair Annabella, should I here repeat
The story of my life, we might lose time.
Be record all the spirits of the air,
And all things else that are, that day and night,
Early and late, the tribute which my heart
Hath paid to Annabella’s sacred love,
Hath been these tears, which are her mourners now!
Never till now did nature do her best,
To shew a matchless beauty to the world,
Which in an instant, ere it scarce was seen,
The jealous destinies required again.
Pray, Annabella, pray! since we must part,
Go thou, white in thy soul, to fill a throne
Of innocence and sanctity in heaven.
Pray, pray, my sister!

Annabella. Then I see your drift —
Ye blessed angels, guard me!

Giovanni. So say I;
Kiss me. If ever after-times should hear
Of our fast-knit affections, though perhaps
The laws of conscience and of civil use
May justly blame us, yet when they but know
Our loves, that love will wipe away that rigour,
Which would in other incests be abhorr’d.
Give me your hand: how sweetly life doth run
In these well-colour’d veins! how constantly
These palms do promise health! but I could chide
With nature for this cunning flattery —
Kiss me again — forgive me.

Annabella. With my heart.

Giovanni. Farewell!

Annabella. Will you be gone?

Giovanni. Be dark, bright sun,
And make this mid-day night, that thy gilt rays
May not behold a deed, will turn their splendour
More sooty than the poets feign their Styx!
One other kiss, my sister.

Annabella. What means this?

Giovanni. To save thy fame, and kill thee in a kiss.
[Stabs her.
Thus die, and die by me, and by my hand!
Revenge is mine; honour doth love command.

Annabella. Oh brother, by your hand!

Giovanni. When thou art dead I’ll give my reasons for’t; for to dispute
With thy (even in thy death) most lovely beauty,
Would make me stagger to perform this act
Which I most glory in.

Annabella. Forgive him, Heaven — and me my sins! farewell,
Brother unkind, unkind — mercy, great Heaven! oh — oh! [Dies.

Giovanni. She’s dead, alas, good soul! The hapless fruit
That in her womb received its life from me,
Hath had from me a cradle and a grave.
I must not dally — this sad marriage-bed
In all her best, bore her alive and dead.
Soranzo, thou hast miss’d thy aim in this!
I have prevented now thy reaching plots,
And kill’d a love, for whose each drop of blood
I would have pawn’d my heart. Fair Annabella,
How over-glorious art thou in thy wounds,
Triumphing over infamy and hate!
Shrink not, courageous hand, stand up, my heart,
And boldly act my last, and greater part!

[The scene closes.

55 You look on me.] i. e. You look with surprize or astonishment on me. Such is the force of this expression. — See Jonson, vol. iv. p. 180.

56 But — brother, for the present, what d’ye mean.] The 4to, which is imperfect in this place, reads, “But good for the present.” The word adopted is certainly not the author’s; but it is safe, at least; and I prefer it to inserting a monosyllable at random.

57 Distraction and a troubled conscience.] The old copy reads a troubled countenance; well corrected by Dodsley.

SCENE VI.

A Banquetting Room in the same.58

A Banquet. — Enter the Cardinal, Florio, Donado, Soranzo, Richardetto, Vasques, and Attendants.

Vasques. [apart to Sor.] Remember, sir, what you have to do; be wise and resolute.

Soranzo. Enough — my heart is fix’d. — Pleaseth your grace
To taste these coarse confections: though the use
Of such set entertainments more consists
In custom, than in cause, yet, reverend sir,
I am still made your servant by your presence.

Cardinal. And we your friend.

Soranzo. But where’s my brother Giovanni?

Enter Giovanni, with a Heart upon his Dagger.

Giovanni. Here, here, Soranzo! trimm’d in reeking blood,
That triumphs over death! proud in the spoil
Of love and vengeance! fate, or all the powers
That guide the motions of immortal souls,
Could not prevent me.

Cardinal. What means this?

Florio. Son Giovanni!

Soranzo. Shall I be forestall’d? [Aside.

Giovanni. Be not amaz’d: if your misgiving hearts
Shrink at an idle sight, what bloodless fear
Of coward passion would have seiz’d your senses,
Had you beheld the rape of life and beauty
Which I have acted? — my sister, oh my sister!

Florio. Ha! what of her?

Giovanni. The glory of my deed
Darken’d the mid-day sun, made noon as night.
You came to feast, my lords, with dainty fare,
I came to feast too; but I digg’d for food
In a much richer mine, than gold or stone
Of any value balanced; ’tis a heart,
A heart, my lords, in which is mine entomb’d:
Look well upon’t; do you know it?

Vasques. What strange riddle’s this? [Aside.

Giovanni. Tis Annabella’s heart, ’tis; why do you startle?
I vow ’tis her’s; — this dagger’s point plough’d up
Her fruitful womb, and left to me the fame
Of a most glorious executioner.

Florio. Why, madman, art thyself?

Giovanni. Yes, father; and, that times to come may know,
How, as my fate, I honour’d my revenge,
List, father; to your ears I will yield up
How much I have deserv’d to be your son.

Florio. What is’t thou say’st?

Giovanni. Nine moons have had their changes,
Since I first thoroughly view’d, and truly lov’d,
Your daughter and my sister.

Florio. How? Alas, my lords, He is a frantic madman!

Giovanni. Father, no.
For nine months space, in secret, I enjoy’d
Sweet Annabella’s sheets; nine months I lived
A happy monarch of her heart and her;
Soranzo, thou know’st this; thy paler cheek
Bears the confounding print of thy disgrace;
For her too fruitful womb too soon bewray’d
The happy passage of our stolen delights,
And made her mother to a child unborn.

Cardinal. Incestuous villain!

Florio. Oh, his rage belies him.

Giovanni. It does not, ’tis the oracle of truth;
I vow it is so.

Soranzo. I shall burst with fury —
Bring the strumpet forth!

Vasques. I shall, sir. [Exit.

Giovanni. Do, sir; have you all no faith
To credit yet my triumphs? here I swear
By all that you call sacred, by the love
I bore my Annabella whilst she lived,
These hands have from her bosom ripp’d this heart.

Re-enter Vasques.

Is’t true or no, sir?

Vasques. Tis most strangely true.

Florio. Cursed man — have I lived to — [Dies.

Cardinal. Hold up, Florio.
Monster of children! see what thou hast done,
Broke thy old father’s heart! is none of you
Dares venture on him?

Giovanni. Let them! Oh my father,
How well his death becomes him in his griefs!
Why this was done with courage; now survives
None of our house but I, gilt in the blood
Of a fair sister and a hapless father.

Soranzo. Inhuman scorn of men, hast thou a thought
T’ outlive thy murders? [Draws.

Giovanni. Yes, I tell thee yes;
For in my fists I bear the twists of life.
Soranzo, see this heart, which was thy wife’s;
Thus I exchange it royally for thine, [They fight.
And thus and thus! now brave revenge is mine.
[Soranzo falls.

Vasques. I cannot hold any longer. You, sir, are you grown insolent in your butcheries? have at you.

Giovanni. Come, I am arm’d to meet thee. [They fight.

Vasques. No! will it not be yet? if this will not, another shall. Not yet? I shall fit you anon — Vengeance!59

The Banditti rush in.

Giovanni. Welcome! come more of you; whate’er you be,
I dare your worst
[They surround and wound him.
Oh I can stand no longer; feeble arms,
Have you so soon lost strength? [Falls.

Vasques. Now, you are welcome, sir! — Away, my masters, all is done; shift for yourselves, your reward is your own: shift for yourselves. [Aside to Band.

Banditti. Away, away! [Exeunt.

Vasques. How do you, my lord? See you this? [pointing to Gio.] how is’t?

Soranzo. Dead; but in death well pleas’d, that I have liv’d
To see my wrongs reveng’d on that black devil.
O Vasques, to thy bosom let me give
My last of breath; let not that lecher live —
Oh! — [Dies.

Vasques. The reward of peace and rest be with [you], my ever dearest lord and master!

Giovanni. Whose hand gave me this wound?

Vasques. Mine, sir; I was your first man; have you enough?

Giovanni. I thank thee, thou hast done for me
But what I would have else done on myself.
Art sure thy lord is dead? —

Vasques. Oh impudent slave!
As sure as I am sure to see thee die.

Cardinal. Think on thy life and end, and call for mercy.

Giovanni. Mercy? why, I have found it in this justice.

Cardinal. Strive yet to cry to Heaven.

Giovanni. Oh I bleed fast.
Death, thou’rt a guest long look’d for, I embrace
Thee and thy wounds; oh, my last minute comes!
Where’er I go, let me enjoy this grace,
Freely to view my Annabella’s face. [Dies.

Donado. Strange miracle of justice!

Cardinal. Raise up the city, we shall be murder’d all!

Vasques. You need not fear, you shall not; this strange task being ended, I have paid the duty to the son, which I have vowed to the father.

Cardinal. Speak, wretched villain, what incarnate fiend
Hath led thee on to this?

Vasques. Honesty, and pity of my master’s wrongs: for know, my lord, I am by birth a Spaniard, brought forth my country in my youth by lord Soranzo’s father; whom, whilst he lived, I served faithfully; since whose death I have been to this man, as I was to him. What I have done, was duty, and I repent nothing, but that the loss of my life had not ransomed his.

Cardinal. Say, fellow, know’st thou any yet unnam’d, Of council in this incest?

Vasques. Yes, an old woman, sometime guardian to this murder’d lady.

Cardinal. And what’s become of her?

Vasques. Within this room she is; whose eyes, after her confession, I caused to be put out, but kept alive, to confirm what from Giovanni’s own mouth you have heard. Now, my lord, what I have done you may judge of; and let your own wisdom be a judge in your own reason.

Cardinal. Peace! first this woman,60 chief in these effects,
My sentence is, that forthwith she be ta’en
Out of the city, for example’s sake,
There to be burnt to ashes.

Donado. ’Tis most just.

Cardinal. Be it your charge, Donado, see it done.

Donado. I shall.

Vasques. What for me? if death, ’tis welcome; I have been honest to the son, as I was to the father.

Cardinal. Fellow, for thee, since what thou didst was done
Not for thyself, being no Italian,
We banish thee for ever; to depart
Within three days: in this we do dispense
With grounds of reason, not of thine offence.

Vasques. ’Tis well; this conquest is mine, and I rejoice that a Spaniard outwent an Italian in revenge. [Exit.

Cardinal. Take up these slaughter’d bodies, see them buried;
And all the gold and jewels, or whatsoever,
Confiscate by the canons of the church,
We seize upon to the Pope’s proper use.

Richardetto. [Discovers himself.] Your grace’s pardon; thus long I liv’d disguised,
To see the effect of pride and lust at once
Brought both to shameful ends.

Cardinal. What! Richardetto, whom we thought for dead?

Donado. Sir, was it you

Richardetto. Your friend.

Cardinal. We shall have time
To talk at large of all; but never yet
Incest and murder have so strangely met.
Of one so young, so rich in nature’s store,
Who could not say, ’Tis Pity She’s A Whore?

[Exeunt.

58 A banquetting room.] They had dined in another room, and, according to the usual practice, repaired to the apartment in which the confectionery was set out.

59 Vengeance!] This, as was observed, p. 233. was the watch-word or preconcerted signal for assistance.

60 First this woman, &c.] What! without hearing her? It is well, however, that some one was at hand to satisfy the Cardinal’s fierce love of justice. The sacrifice, it must be confessed, is somewhat like that of the poor bed-rid weaver in Hudibras; and if, of the four who now remain alive upon the stage, three, including his Eminence, had heen sentenced to the hurdle with her, few would have thought them too hardly dealt with.

Here, instead of an Epilogue, we have, in the old copy, an apology for the errors of the press. It forms, as the learned Partridge says, a strange non sequitur; and is, in truth, more captious than logical. As a just compliment, however, to the skill of the performers, and the good taste of Lord Peterborough, it merits preservation. “The general commendation deserved by the actors in the presentment of this tragedy, may easily excuse such faults as are escaped in the printing. A common charity may allow him the ability of spelling, whom a secure confidence assures that he cannot ignorantly err in the application of sense.”

The remarks on this dreadful story cannot be more appositely terminated, perhaps, than by the following passage from the concluding chapter of Sir Thomas Browne s Vulgar Errors. It is, as Mr. Lambe observes, “solemn and fine.” “As there are many relations (he begins) whereto we cannot assent, and make some doubt thereof, so there are divers others whose verities we fear, and heartily wish there were no truth therein.” — “For, of sins heteroclital, and such as want either name or precedent, there is oftimes a sin in their histories. We desire no records of such enormities; sins should be accounted new, that they may be esteemed monstrous. They omit of monstrosity, as they fall from their rarity; for men count it venial to err with their forefathers, and foolishly conceive they divide a sin in its society. The pens of men may sufficiently expatiate without these singularities of villainy; for as they increase the hatred of vice in some, so do they enlarge the theory of wickedness in all. And this is one thing that makes latter ages worse than were the former: for the vicious example of ages past poisons the curiosity of these present, affording a hint of sin unto seduceable spirits, and soliciting those unto the imitation of them, whose heads were never so perversely principled as to invent them. In things of this nature, silence com mendeth history; ’tis the veniable part of tilings lost, wherein there must never rise a Pancirollus, nor remain any register, but that of hell.”— p. 414.

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Last updated Friday, March 14, 2014 at 21:53