Prospect of a village. Before Don Bernard’s house.
(Henriquez; Don Bernard; Leonora; Camillo)
Henriquez is still agonizing over his betrayal of Julio and of Violante, but decides that gaining Leonora would be worth it. Don Bernard brings Leonora out; he strongly favors Henriquez’ suit, though Leonora protests that she has pledged herself to Julio. She begs her father not to make her marry Henriquez, but he considers her a fool for that wish and threatens to disown her if she does not agree to marry the Duke’s son in two days. She walks out, and Henriquez follows her. Don Bernard recalls that Leonora’s mother was much the same, and married him not out of love but to annoy her father. Camillo comes in to find Bernard; Julio has told his father of his love for Leonora, and on reflection Camillo has come to make the case for his son to Don Bernard. Don Bernard puts Camillo off, however, by claiming that Leonora has fallen in love with Henriquez. Camillo refuses to believe him and goes off to find Leonora and hear her version of this, and Don Bernard resolves to lock her up from company to avoid this. (147 lines)
Where were the eyes, the voice, the various charms,
Each beauteous particle, each nameless grace,
Parents of glowing love? All these in her,
It seems, were not: but a disease in me,
That fancied graces in her. Who ne’er beheld
More than a hawthorne, shall have cause to say
The cedar’s a tall tree; and scorn the shade,
The lov’d bush once had lent him. Soft! Mine honor
Begins to sicken in this black reflection.
How can it be, that with my honor safe
I should pursue Leonora for my wife?
That were accumulating injuries,
To Violante first, and now to Julio;
To her a perjur’d wretch, to him perfidious;
And to myself in strongest terms accus’d
Of murd’ring Honor willfully, without which
My dog’s the creature of the nobler kind.
But Pleasure is too strong for Reason’s curb;
And Conscience sinks o’erpower’d with Beauty’s sweets.
Come, Leonora, auth’ress of my crime,
Appear, and vindicate thy empire here;
Aid me to drive this ling’ring Honor hence,
And I am wholly thine.
Enter to him, Don Bernard and Leonora.
Fie, my good lord; why would you wait without?
If you suspect your welcome, I have brought
My Leonora to assure you of it.
Henriquez salutes Leonora.
O kiss, sweet as the odors of the spring,
But cold as dews that dwell on morning flow’rs!
Say, Leonora, has your father conquer’d?
Shall duty then at last obtain the prize,
Which you refus’d to love? And shall Henriquez
Owe all his happiness to good Bernardo?
Ah! No; I read my ruin in your eyes:
That sorrow, louder than a thousand tongues,
Pronounces my despair.
You are not now to learn, this noble lord,
(Whom but to name, restores my failing age,)
Has with a lover’s eye beheld your beauty;
Through which his heart speaks more than language can;
It offers joy and happiness to you,
And honor to our house. Imagine then
The birth and qualities of him that loves you;
Which when you know, you cannot rate too dear.
My father, on my knees I do beseech you
To pause one moment on your daughter’s ruin.
I vow, my heart ev’n bleeds, that I must thank you
For your past tenderness; and yet distrust
That which is yet behind. Consider, sir,
Whoe’er’s th’ occasion of another’s fault,
Cannot himself be innocent. O, give not
The censuring world occasion to reproach
Your harsh commands; or to my charge lay that
Which most I fear, the fault of disobedience.
Prithee, fear neither the one, nor the other: I tell thee, girl, there’s more fear than danger. For my own part, as soon as thou art married to this noble lord, my fears will be over.
Sir, I should be the vainest of my sex,
Not to esteem myself unworthy far
Of this high honor. Once there was a time,
When to have heard my lord Henriquez’ vows,
Might have subdued my unexperienc’d heart,
And made me wholly his.—But that’s now past:
And my firm-plighted faith by your consent
Was long since given to the injur’d Julio.
Why then, by my consent e’en take it back again. Thou, like a simple wench, hast given thy affections to a fellow, that does not care a farthing for them. One, that has left thee for a jaunt to court; as who should say, “I’ll get a place now; ’tis time enough to marry, when I’m turn’d out of it.”
So, surely, it should seem, most lovely maid;
Julio, alas, feels nothing of my passion:
His love is but th’ amusement of an hour,
A short relief from business, or ambition,
The sport of youth, and fashion of the age.
O! Had he known the hopes, the doubts, the ardors,
Or half the fond varieties of passion,
That play the tyrant with my tortur’d soul;
He had not left thee to pursue his fortune:
To practice cringes in a slavish circle,
And barter real bliss for unsure honor.
Oh, the opposing wind,
Should’ring the tide, makes here a fearful billow:
I needs must perish in it.—Oh, my lord,
Is it then possible, you can forget
What’s due to your great name, and princely birth,
To friendship’s holy law, to faith repos’d,
To truth, to honor, and poor injur’d Julio?
O think, my lord, how much this Julio loves you;
Recall his services, his well-tried faith;
Think too, this very hour, where’er he be,
Your favor is the envy of the court,
And secret triumph of his grateful heart.
Poor Julio, how securely thou depend’st
Upon the faith and honor of thy master;
Mistaken youth! This very hour he robs thee
Of all thy heart holds dear. ’Tis so Henriquez
Repays the merits of unhappy Julio.
My slumb’ring honor catches the alarm.
I was to blame to parley with her thus:
She’s shown me to myself. It troubles me.
Mad; mad. Stark mad, by this light.
I but begin to be so. I conjure you,
By all the tender interests of nature,
By the chaste love ’twixt you, and my dear mother,
(O holy heav’n, that she were living now!)
Forgive and pity me.—Oh, sir, remember,
I’ve heard my mother say a thousand times,
Her father would have forced her virgin choice;
But when the conflict was ’twixt love and duty,
Which should be first obey’d, my mother quickly
Paid up her vows to love, and married you.
You thought this well, and she was praised for this;
For this her name was honor’d, disobedience
Was ne’er imputed to her, her firm love
Conquer’d whate’er oppos’d it, and she prosper’d
Long time your wife. My case is now the same;
You are the father, which you then condemn’d;
I, what my mother was; but not so happy.
Go to, you’re a fool. No doubt, you have old stories enough to undo you. What, you can’t throw yourself away but by precedent, ha? You will needs be married to one, that will none of you? You will be happy no body’s way but your own, forsooth. But, d’ye mark me, spare your tongue for the future; (and that’s using you hardly too, to bid you spare what you have a great deal too much of) go, go your ways, and d’ye hear, get ready within these two days to be married to a husband you don’t deserve. Do it, or, by my dead father’s soul, you are no acquaintance of mine.
She weeps: be gentler to her, good Bernardo.
Then woe the day. I’m circled round with fire;
No way for my escape, but through the flames.
Oh, can I e’er resolve to live without
A father’s blessing, or abandon Julio?
With other maids, the choice were not so hard;
Int’rest, that rules the world, has made at last
A merchandize of hearts: and virgins now
Choose as they’re bid, and wed without esteem.
By nobler springs shall my affections move;
Nor own a master, but the man I love.
Go thy ways, contradiction. Follow her, my lord; follow her, in the very heat. This obstinacy must be combated by importunity as obstinate.
Exit Henriquez after her.
The girl says right; her mother was just such another. I remember, two of us courted her at the same time. She lov’d neither of us, but she chose me purely to spite that surly old blockhead my father-in-law. Who comes here, Camillo? Now the refusing part will lie on my side.
My worthy neighbor, I am much in fortune’s favor to find you thus alone. I have a suit to you.
Please to name it, sir.
Sir, I have long held you in singular esteem: and what I shall now say, will be a proof of it. You know, sir, I have but one son.
And the fortune I am blest withal, you pretty well know what it is.
’Tis a fair one, sir.
Such as it is, the whole reversion is my son’s. He is now engaged in his attendance on our master, the Duke. But e’er he went, he left with me the secret of his heart, his love for your fair daughter. For your consent, he said, ’twas ready. I took a night, indeed, to think upon it, and now have brought you mine; and am come to bind the contract with half my fortune in present, the whole some time hence, and, in the mean while, my hearty blessing. Ha? What say you to’t, Don Bernard?
Why, really, neighbor,—I must own, I have heard something of this matter.
Heard something of it? No doubt, you have.
Yes, now I recollect it well.
Was it so long ago then?
Very long ago, neighbor. On Tuesday last.
What, am I mock’d in this business, Don Bernard?
Not mock’d, good Camillo, not mock’d: but in love-matters, you know, there are abundance of changes in half an hour. Time, time, neighbor, plays tricks with all of us.
Time, sir! What tell you me of time? Come, I see how this goes. Can a little time take a man by the shoulder, and shake off his honor? Let me tell you, neighbor, it must either be a strong wind, or a very mellow honesty that drops so easily. Time, quoth’a?
Look’e, Camillo; will you please to put your indignation in your pocket for half a moment, while I tell you the whole truth of the matter. My daughter, you must know, is such a tender soul, she cannot possibly see a Duke’s younger son without falling desperately in love with him. Now, you know, neighbor, when greatness rides post after a man of my years, ’tis both prudence, and good breeding, to let one’s self be overtaken by it. And who can help all this? I profess, it was not my seeking, neighbor.
I profess, a fox might earth in the hollowness of your heart, neighbor, and there’s an end. If I were to give a bad conscience its true likeness, it should be drawn after a very near neighbor to a certain poor neighbor of yours.—Neighbor! With a pox!
Nay, you are so nimble with me, you will hear nothing.
Sir, if I must speak nothing, I will hear nothing. As for what you have to say, if it comes from your heart, ’tis a lie before you speak it. I’ll to Leonora; and if I find her in the same story, why, I shall believe your wife was true to you, and your daughter is your own. Fare you well.
Exit, as into Don Bernard’s house.
Ay, but two words must go to that bargain. It happens, that I am at present of opinion my daughter shall receive no more company to day; at least, no such visits as yours.
Exit Don Bernard, following him.