Act IV



Jaff. Where dost thou lead me? Every step I move,
Methinks I tread upon some mangled limb
Of a rack’d friend: O my dear charming ruin!
Where are we wandering?

Belv. To eternal honour;
To do a deed shall chronicle thy name,
Among the glorious legends of those few
That have sav’d sinking nations: thy renown
Shall be the future song of all the virgins,
Who by thy piety have been preserved
From horrid violation: every street
Shall be adorn’d with statues to thy honour,
And at thy feet this great inscription written,

Remember him that propp’d the fall of Venice.

Jaff. Rather, remember him, who after all
The sacred bonds of oaths and holier friendship,
In fond compassion to a woman’s tears
Forgot his manhood, virtue, truth and honour,
To sacrifice the bosom that relieved him.
Why wilt thou damn me?

Belv. O inconstant man!
How will you promise? how will you deceive?
Do return back, replace me in my bondage,
Tell all thy friends how dangerously thou lov’st me,
And let thy dagger do its bloody office;
O that kind dagger, Jaffeir, how ’twill look
Stuck through my heart, drench’d in my blood to th’ hilts!
Whilst these poor dying eyes shall with their tears
No more torment thee, then thou wilt be free:
Or if thou think’st it nobler, let me live
Till I’m a victim to the hateful lust
Of that infernal devil, that old fiend
That’s damned himself and would undo mankind:
Last night. my love—

Jaff. Name, name it not again,
It shows a beastly image to my fancy,
Will wake me into madness. Oh, the villain!
That durst approach such purity as thine
On terms so vile: destruction, swift destruction
Fall on my coward-head, and make my name
The common scorn of fools if I forgive him;
If I forgive him, if I not revenge
With utmost rage and most unstaying fury,
Thy suffering, thou dear darling of my life.

Belv. Delay no longer, then, but to the Senate;
And tell the dismal’st story ever utter’d,
Tell ’em what bloodshed, rapines, desolations,
Have been prepared, how near’s the fatal hour!
Save thy poor country, save the reverend blood
Of all its nobles, which to-morrow’s dawn
Must else see shed: save the poor tender lives
Of all those little infants which the swords
Of murtherers are whetting for this moment:
Think thou already hearst their dying screams,
Think that thou seest sad distracted mothers
Kneeling before thy feet, and begging pity
With torn dishevell’d hair and streaming eyes,
Their naked mangled breasts besmear’d with blood.
And even the milk with which their fondled babes.
Softly they hush’d, dropping in anguish from ’em.
Think thou seest this, and then consult thy heart.

Jaff. Oh!

Belv. Think too, if [that] thou lose this present minute,
What miseries the next day bring upon thee.
Imagine all the horrors of that night,
Murder and rapine, waste and desolation,
Confusedly ranging. Think what then may prove
My lot! the ravisher may then come safe,
And midst the terror of the public ruin
Do a damn’d deed; perhaps to lay a train
May catch thy life; then where will be revenge,
The dear revenge that’s due to such a wrong?

Jaff. By all Heaven’s powers, prophetic truth dwells in thee,
For every word thou speak’st strikes through my heart
Like a new light, and shows it how’t has wandered;
Just what thou’st made me, take me, Belvidera,
And lead me to the place where I’m to say
This bitter lesson, where I must betray
My truth, my virtue, constancy and friends:
Must I betray my friends! Ah, take me quickly,
Secure me well before that thought’s renewed;
If I relapse once more, all’s lost for ever.

Belv. Hast thou a friend more dear than Belvidera?

  By PanEris using Melati.

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