The mourning bride. A tragedy: As it is acted at the Theatre in Lincoln's-Inn-Fields, by His Majesty's servants. Written by Mr. Congreve.
Congreve, William, 1670-1729.
Page  27


A Prison.
Enter Osmyn alone, with a Paper.
BUT now, and I was clos'd within the Tomb
That holds my Father's Ashes; and but now,
Where he was Pris'ner I am too imprison'd.
Sure 'tis the Hand of Heav'n that leads me thus,
And for some Purpose points out these Remembrances.
In a dark Corner of my Cell I found
This Paper, what it is this Light will show.
If my Alphonso—Ha!
If my Alphonso live, restore him, Heav'n;
Give me more Weight, crush my declining Years
With Bolts, with Chains, Imprisonment and Want;
But bless my Son, visit not him for me.
It is his-Hand; this was his Pray'r—yet more:
Let ev'ry Hair, which Sorrow by the Roots
Tears from my hoary and devoted Head,
Be doubled in thy Mercies to my Son:
Not for my self, but him, hear me, All-gracious—
'Tis wanting what should follow—Heav'n shou'd follow,
But 'tis torn off—Why shou'd that Word alone
Be torn from his Petition? 'Twas to Heav'n,
But Heav'n was deaf, Heav'n heard him not; but thus,
Thus as the Name of Heav'n from this is torn,
So did it tear the Ears of Mercy from
Page  28 His Voice, shutting the Gates of Pray'r against him.
If Piety be thus debarr'd Access
On high, and of good Men the very best
Is singled out to bleed, and bear the Scourge,
What is Reward? or what is Punishment?
But who shall dare to tax Eternal Justice!
Yet I may think—I may, I must; for Thought
Precedes the Will to think, and Error lives
E'er Reason can be born: Reason, the Power
To guess at Right and Wrong; the twinkling Lamp
Of wand'ring Life, that winks and wakes by turns,
Fooling the Follower, betwixt Shade and Shining.
What Noise! Who's there? my Friend! How cam'st thou hither?
Enter Heli.
The Time's too precious to be spent in telling;
The Captain, influenc'd by Almeria's Power,
Gave Order to the Guards for my Admittance.
How does Almeria? But I know, she is
As I am. Tell me, may I hope to see her?
You may; anon, at Midnight, when the King
Is gone to Rest, and Garcia is retir'd,
(Who takes the Privilege to visit late,
Presuming on a Bridegroom's Right) she'll come.
She'll come; 'tis what I wish, yet what I fear.
She'll come, but whither, and to whom? O Heav'n!
To a vile Prison, and a captiv'd Wretch;
To one, whom had she never known she had
Been happy: Why, why was that Heav'nly Creature
Abandon'd o'er to love what Heav'n forsakes?
Why does she follow, with unwearied Steps,
One, who has tir'd Misfortune with pursuing?
One, driv'n about the World like blasted Leaves
And Chaff, the Sport of adverse Winds; 'till late
At length, imprison'd in some Cleft of Rock,
Or Earth, it rests, and rots to silent Dust.
Page  29
Have Hopes, and hear the Voice of better Fate.
I've learn'd there are Disorders ripe for Mutiny
Among the Troops, who thought to share the Plunder,
Which Manuel to his own Use and Avarice
Converts. This News has reach'd Valentia's Frontiers;
Where many of your Subjects, long oppress'd
With Tyranny and grievous Impositions,
Are risen in Arms, and call for Chiefs to head
And lead 'em, to regain their Liberty
And Native Rights.
By Heav'n thou'st rouz'd me from my Lethargy.
The Spirit which was deaf to my own Wrongs,
Deaf to Revenge, and the loud Cries of my
Dead Father's Blood; nay, which refus'd to hear
The piercing Sighs and Murmurs of my Love
Yet unenjoy'd; what not Almeria could
Revive, or raise, my Peoples Voice has waken'd.
O my Antonio, I am all on Fire,
My Soul is up in Arms, ready to charge
And bear amidst the Foe, with conqu'ring Troops.
I hear 'em call to lead 'em on to Liberty,
To Victory; their Shouts and Clamours rend
My Ears, and reach the Heav'ns; where is the King?
Where is Alphonso? ha! where? where indeed?
O I could tear and burst the Strings of Life,
To break these Chains. Off, off, ye Stains of Royalty.
Off Slavery. O curse! that I alone
Can beat and flutter in my Cage, when I
Would soar, and stoop at Victory beneath.
Our Posture of Affairs, and scanty Time,
My Lord, require you should compose your self,
And think on what we may reduce to practice.
Zara, the Cause of your Restraint, may be
The Means of Liberty restor'd. That gain'd,
Occasion will not fail to point out Ways
For your Escape. Mean time, I've thought already
With Speed and Safety, to convey my self
Where not far off some Male-Contents hold Council
Page  30 Nightly; hating this Tyrant; some, who love
Anselmo's Memory, and will, no doubt,
When they shall know you live, assist your Cause.
My Friend and Counsellor, as thou think'st fit,
So do. I will with Patience wait my Fortune.
When Zara comes, abate of your Aversion.
I hate her not, nor can dissemble Love:
But as I may, I'll do. I have a Paper
Which I would shew thee, Friend, but that the Sight
Would hold thee here, and clog thy Expedition.
Within I found it, by my Father's Hand
'Twas writ; a Pray'r for me, wherein appears
Paternal Love prevailing o'er his Sorrows;
Such Sanctity, such Tenderness, so mix'd
With Grief, as wou'd draw Tears from Inhumanity.
The Care of Providence sure left it there,
To arm your Mind with Hope. Such Piety
Was never heard in vain: Heav'n has in Store
For you, those Blessings it with-held from him.
In that Assurance live; which Time, I hope,
And our next Meeting will confirm.
My Friend, the Good thou dost deserve attend thee.
[Ex. Heli.
I've been to blame, and question'd with Impiety
The Care of Heav'n. Not so my Father bore
More Anxious Grief. This shou'd have better taught me;
This Lesson, in some Hour of Inspiration,
By him set down; when his pure Thoughts were born,
Like Fumes of Sacred Incense, o'er the Clouds,
And wafted thence, on Angels Wings, thro' Ways
Of Light to the bright Source of all. There, in
The Book of Prescience, he bfheld this Day;
And waking to the World and Mortal Sense,
Left this Example of his Resignation,
This his last Legacy to me, which I
Will treasure here; more worth than Diadems,
Or all extended Rule of Regal Pow'r.
Page  31 Enter Zara Veil'd.
What Brightness breaks upon me thus thro' Shades,
And promises a Day to this dark Dwelling!
Is it my Love?—
O that thy Heart had taught
[Lifting her Veil.
Thy Tongue that Saying.
Zara! I'm betray'd
By my Surprize.
What, does my Face displease thee?
That having seen it, thou dost turn thy Eyes
Away, as from Deformity and Horror.
If so, this Sable Curtain shall again
Be drawn, and I will stand before thee seeing,
And unseen. Is it my Love? ask again
That Question, speak again in that soft Voice,
And look again with Wishes in thy Eyes.
O no, thou can'st not, for thou seest me now,
As she, whose Savage Breast has been the Cause
Of these thy Wrongs; as she, whose barbarous Rage
Has loaden thee with Chains and galling Irons:
Well dost thou scorn me, and upbraid my Falseness;
Cou'd one that lov'd thus torture what she lov'd?
No, no, it must be Hatred, dire Revenge
And Detestation, that cou'd use thee thus.
So thou dost think; then do but tell me so;
Tell me, and thou shalt see how I'll revenge
Thee on this false one, how I'll stab and tear
This Heart of Flint 'till it shall bleed; and thou
Shalt weep for mine, forgetting thy own Miseries.
You wrong me, beauteous Zara, to believe
I bear my Fortunes with so low a Mind,
As still to meditate Revenge on all
Whom Chance, or Fate working by secret Causes,
Has made perforce subservient to that End
The Heav'nly Pow'rs allot me; no, not you,
But Destiny and inauspicious Stars
Page  32 Have cast me down to this low Being: Or,
Granting you had, from you I have deserv'd it.
Can'st thou forgive me then? wilt thou believe
So kindly of my Fault, to call it Madness?
O, give that Madness yet a milder Name,
And call it Passion; then, be still more kind,
And call that Passion Love.
Give it a Name,
Or Being as you please, such I will think it.
O thou dost wound me more with this thy Goodness,
Than e'er thou cou'dst with bitterest Reproaches;
Thy Anger cou'd not pierce thus to my Heart.
Yet I could wish—
Haste me to know it, what?
That at this Time I had not been this Thing.
What Thing?
This Slave.
O Heav'n! my Fears interpret
This thy Silence; somewhat of high Concern,
Long fashioning within thy labouring Mind,
And now just ripe for Birth, my Rage has ruin'd.
Have I done this? Tell me, am I so curs'd?
Time may have still one fated Hour to come,
Which wing'd with Liberty, might overtake
Occasion past.
Swift as Occasion, I
My self will flie; and earlier than the Morn
Wake thee to Freedom. Now 'tis late; and yet
Some News few Minutes past arriv'd, which seem'd
To shake the Temper of the King—who knows
What racking Cares disease a Monarch's Bed?
Or Love, that late at Night still lights his Lamp,
And strikes his Rays thro' dusk and folded Lids,
Forbidding Rest, may stretch his Eyes awake,
And force their Balls abroad at this dead Hour.
I'll try.
I have not merited this Grace;
Nor, should my secret Purpose take Effect,
Page  33 Can I repay, as you require, such Benefits.
Thou canst not owe me more, nor have I more
To give, than I've already lost. But as
The present Form of our Engagements rests,
Thou hast the Wrong, 'till I redeem thee hence,
That done, I leave thy Justice to return
My Love. Adieu.
[Exit Zara.
This Woman has a Soul
Of God-like Mould, intrepid and commanding,
And challenges, in spight of me, my best
Esteem; to this she's fair, few more can boast
Of Personal Charms, or with less Vanity
Might hope to captivate the Hearts of Kings.
But she has Passions which out-strip the Wind,
And tear her Virtues up, as Tempests root
The Sea. I fear when she shall know the Truth,
Some swift and dire Event of her blind Rage
Will make all fatal. But behold, she comes
For whom I fear, to shield me from my Fears.
Enter Almeria.
The Cause and Comfort of my boding Heart,
My Life, my Health, my Liberty, my All,
How shall I welcome thee to this sad Place?
How speak to thee the Words of Joy and Transport?
How run into thy Arms, with-held by Fetters;
Or take thee into mine, thus manacled
And pinion'd like a Thief or Murderer?
Shall I not hurt or bruise thy tender Body,
And stain thy Bosom with the Rust of these
Rude Irons? Must I meet thee thus, Almeria?
Thus, thus; we parted, thus to meet again.
Thou told'st me thou would'st think how we might meet
To part no more—Now we will part no more,
For these thy Chains, or Death, shall join us ever.
Hard Means to ratifie that Word!—O Cruelty!
That ever I should think beholding thee
Page  34 A Torture!—yet, such is the bleeding Anguish
Of my Heart, to see thy Sufferings—O Heav'n!
That I cou'd almost turn my Eyes away,
Or wish thee from my Sight.
O say not so;
Tho' 'tis because thou lov'st me. Do not say,
On any Terms, that thou dost wish me from thee.
No, no, 'tis better thus, that we together
Feed on each other's Heart, devour our Woes
With mutual Appetite; and mingling in
One Cup the common Stream of both our Eyes,
Drink bitter Draughts, with never-slacking Thirst.
Thus better, than for any Cause to part.
What dost thou think? Look not so tenderly
Upon me—speak, and take me in thy Arms—
Thou canst not! thy poor Arms are bound, and strive
In vain with the remorseless Chains, which gnaw
And eat into thy Flesh, festring thy Limbs
With rankling Rust.
Oh! O—
Give me that Sigh.
Why dost thou heave, and stifle in thy Griefs?
Thy Heart will burst, thy Eyes look red and start;
Give thy Soul way, and tell me thy dark Thought.
For this World's Rule, I wou'd not wound thy Breast
With such a Dagger as then stuck my Heart.
Why? why? To know it, cannot wound me more,
Than knowing thou hast felt it. Tell it me.
—Thou giv'st me Pain with too much Tenderness!
And thy excessive Love distracts my Sense!
O could'st thou be less killing, soft or kind,
Grief would not double thus his Darts against me.
Thou dost me Wrong, and Grief too robs my Heart,
If there he shoot not ev'ry other Shaft;
Thy second self shou'd feel each other Wound,
And Woe shou'd be in equal Portions dealt.
I am thy Wife—
Page  35
O thou hast search'd too deep:
There, there I bleed; there pull the cruel Cords,
That strain my cracking Nerves; Engines and Wheels,
That Piece-meal grind, are Beds of Down and Balm
To that Soul-racking Thought.
Then I am curs'd
Indeed, if that be so; if I'm thy Torment
Kill me, kill me then, dash me with thy Chains,
Tread on me, spurn me: Am I the Bosom-Snake,
That sucks thy warm Life-Blood, and gnaws thy Heart?
O that thy Words had force to break those Bonds,
As they have strength to tear this Heart in sunder;
So should'st thou be at large from all Oppression.
Am I, am I of all thy Woes the worst?
My all of Bliss, my everlasting Life,
Soul of my Soul, and End of all my Wishes,
Why dost thou thus unman me with thy Words,
And melt me down to mingle with thy Weepings?
What dost thou ask? why dost thou talk thus piercingly?
Thy Sorrows have disturb'd thy Peace of Mind,
And thou dost speak of Miseries impossible.
Didst thou not say, that Racks and Wheels were Balm,
And Beds of Ease, to thinking me thy Wife?
No, no; nor should the subtlest Pains that Hell,
Or Hell-born Malice can invent, extort
A Wish or Thought from me, to have thee other.
But thou wilt know what harrows up my Heart:
Thou art my Wife—nay, thou art yet my Bride!
The Sacred Union of Connubial Love
Yet unaccomplish'd; his mysterious Rites
Delay'd; nor has our Hymenial Torch
Yet lighted up his last most grateful Sacrifice;
But dash'd with Rain from Eyes, and swail'd with Sighs,
Burns dim, and glimmers with expiring Light.
Is this dark Cell a Temple for that God?
Or this vile Earth an Altar for such Off'rings?
This Den for Slaves, this Dungeon damp'd with Woes;
Is this our Marriage-Bed! Are these our Joys!
Page  36 Is this to call thee mine? O hold my Heart:
To call thee mine? Yes; thus, ev'n thus, to call
Thee mine, were Comfort, Joy, extreamest Extasie.
But O thou art not mine, not ev'n in Misery;
And 'tis deny'd to me to be so bless'd,
As to be wretched with thee.
No; not that
The extreamest Malice of our Fate can hinder:
That still is left us, and on that we'll feed,
As on the Leavings of Calamity.
There we will feast, and smile on past Distress,
And hug, in scorn of it, our mutual Ruin.
O thou dost talk, my Love, as one resolv'd,
Because not knowing Danger. But look forward;
Think on to Morrow, when thou shalt be torn
From these weak, struggling, unextended Arms;
Think how my Heart will heave, and Eyes will strain,
To grasp and reach what is deny'd my Hands:
Think how the Blood will start, and Tears will gush
To follow thee, my separating Soul.
Think how I am, when thou shalt wed with Garcia!
Then will I smear these Walls with Blood, dash my
Disfigur'd Face, and rive my clotted Hair,
Break on the Ground my throbbing Breast,
And grovel with gash'd Hands to scratch a Grave,
Stripping my Nails, to tear this Pavement up,
And bury me alive; where I will bite the Ground
'Till gorg'd with suffocating Earth.
O dismal Cruel! heart-breaking Horror!
Then Garcia shall lie panting on thy Bosom,
Luxurious, revelling amidst thy Charms;
And thou perforce must yield, and aid his Transport.
Hell! Hell! have I not Cause to rage and rave?
What are all Racks, and Wheels, and Whips to this?
Are they not soothing Softness, sinking Ease,
And wafting Air to this? O my Almeria,
What do the Damn'd endure, but to despair,
But knowing Heav'n, to know it lost for ever?
Page  37
O, I am struck; thy Words are Bolts of Ice,
Which shot into my Breast, now melt and chill me.
I chatter, shake, and faint with thrilling Fears.
No, hold me not—O, let us not support,
But sink each other, lower yet, down, down,
Where levell'd low, no more we'll lift our Eyes,
But prone, and dumb, rot the firm Face of Earth
With Rivers of incessant scalding Rain.
Enter Zara, Perez and Selim.
Somewhat of weight to me requires his Freedom.
Dare you dispute the King's Command? Behold
The Royal Signet.
I obey; yet beg
Your Majesty one Moment to defer
Your ent'ring, 'till the Princess is return'd
From visiting the Noble Prisoner.
[Exit Perez.
What saist thou?
We are lost! undone! discover'd!
Retire, my Life, with speed—Alas, we're seen!
Speak of Compassion, let her hear you speak
Of interceeding for me with the King;
Say somewhat quickly to conceal our Loves,
If possible.—
—I cannot speak.
Let me
Conduct you forth, as not perceiving her,
But 'till she's gone; then bless me thus again.
Trembling and weeping as he leads her forth!
Confusion in his Face, and Grief in hers!
'Tis plain, I've been abus'd—Death and Destruction!
How shall I search into this Mystery?
The bluest Blast of Pestilential Air
Strike, damp, deaden her Charms, and kill his Eyes;
Perdition catch 'em both, and Ruin part 'em
Page  38
This Charity to one unknown, and in
Distress, Heav'n will repay; all Thanks are poor.
[Exit Almeria.
Damn'd, damn'd Dissembler! Yet I will be calm,
Choak in my Rage, and know the utmost depth
Of this Deceiver—You seem much surpriz'd.
At your Return so soon and unexpected!
And so unwish'd, unwanted too it seems.
Confusion! yet I will contain my self.
You're grown a Favourite since last we parted;
Perhaps I'm Sawcy and Intruding—
I did not know the Princess Favourite;
Your Pardon, Sir—mistake me not; you think
I'm angry; you're deceiv'd. I came to set
You free: But shall return much better pleas'd,
To find you have an Interest superior.
You do not come to mock my Miseries?
I do.
I could at this time spare your Mirth.
I know thou cou'dst, but I'm not often pleas'd,
And will indulge it now. What Miseries?
Who would not be thus happily confin'd,
To be the Care of weeping Majesty?
To have contending Queens, at dead of Night
Forsake their Down, to wake with wat'ry Eyes,
And watch like Tapers o'er your Hours of Rest.
O Curse! I cannot hold.—
Come, 'tis much.
How, Madam!
Thou shalt die.
I thank you.
Thou ly'st; for now I know for whom thou'dst live.
Then you may know for whom I'd die.
Hell! Hell!
Yet I'll be calm—Dark and unknown Betrayer!
But now the Dawn begins, and the slow Hand
Page  39 Of Fate is stretch'd to draw the Veil, and leave
Thee bare, the naked Mark of Publick View.
You may be still deceiv'd; 'tis in my Pow'r.
Who waits there?
Enter Perez.
As you'll answer it, take heed
This Slave commit no Violence upon
Himself. I've been deceiv'd. The Publick Safety
Requires he should be more confin'd; and none,
No not the Princes self, permitted to
Confer with him. I'll quit you to the King.
Vile and ingrate! too late thou shalt repent
The base Injustice thou hast done my Love:
Yes, thou shalt know, spite of thy past Distress,
And all those Ills which thou so long hast mourn'd;
Heav'n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn'd,
Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn'd.
[Exeunt Omnes.
The End of the Third Act.