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Scene I.-Enter Biron. Nurse following him.
Bir. I know enough: the important question Of life or death, fearful to be resolved, Is cleared to me: I see where it must end, And need inquire no more -Pray, let me have Pen, ink, and paper. I must write awhile, And then I'll try to rest- to rest for ever !
[Exit Nurse. Poor Isabella! now I know the cause, The cause of thy distress, and cannot wonder That it has turned thy brain. If I look back Upon thy loss, it will distract me too. Oh, any curse but this might be removed ! But 'twas the rancorous malignity Of all ill-stars combined, of heaven and fateHold, hold, my impious tongue-Alas! I rave: Why do I tax the stars, or heaven, or fate? They are all innocent of driving us Into despair ; they have not urged my doom; My father and my brother are my fates That drive me to my ruin. They knew well I was alive. Too well they knew how dear My Isabella-Oh, my wife no more ! How dear her love was to me- -Yet they stood, With a malicious silent joy, stood by, And saw her give up all my happiness, The treasure of her beauty, to another;
Stood by, and saw her married to another.
Scene II.---Draws, shews Biron asleep on a couch.
Enter ISABELLA. Isa. Asleep so soon! Oh, happy, happy thou, Who thus can sleep! I never shall sleep moreIf then to sleep be to be happy, he, Who sleeps the longest, is the happiest : Death is the longest sleep-Oh, have a care! Mischief will thrive apace.—Never wake more.
[T. Biron. If thou didst ever love thy Isabella, To-morrow must be doomsday to thy peace. The sight of him disarms even death itself. The starting transport of new quickening life Gives just such hopes: and pleasure grows again With looking on him-Let me look my lastBut is a look enough for parting love! Sure I may take a kiss-Where am I going !
Help, help me, Villeroy! Mountains and seas
pause she raises herself upon her elbow.
Conflicting passions have at last unhinged
Invite me to their slumbers.
[Sinks into a chair. What noise was that? A knocking at the gate! It may be Villeroy-No matter who.
Bir. Come, Isabella, come.
[Draws a dagger, and goes backward to the
[Just going to stab him, he rises ; she knows
him, and shrieks.] What do I see !
Bir. Isabella, armed !
Isa. Against my husband's life!
husband ! Bir. Thou didst not think it.
Isa. Madness has brought me to the gates of hell, And there has left me. Oh, the frightful change Of my distractions! Or is this interval Of reason but to aggravate my woes,
To drive the horror back with greater force
Bir. Why dost thou fly me so?
Isa. I cannot bear his sight; Distraction, come, Possess me all, and take me to thyself! Shake off thy chains, and hasten to my aid ; Thou art my only cure Like other friends, He will not come to my necessities; Then I must go to find the tyrant outWhich is the nearest way
[Running out. Bir. Poor Isabella ! she's not in a condition To give me any comfort, if she could: Lost to herself- -as quickly I shall be To all the world- Horrors come fast around me; My mind is overcast—the gathering clouds Darken the prospect-I approach the brink, And soon must leap the precipice ! Oh, heaven! While yet my senses are my own, thus kneeling, Let me implore thy mercies on my wife: Release her from her pangs; and if my reason, O'erwhelmed with miseries, sink before the tempest, Pardon those crimes despair may bring upon me!
(Rises. Enter Nurse. Nurse. Sir, there is somebody at the door must needs speak with you; he will not tell his name. Bir. I come to him.
[E.cit Nurse. 'Tis Belford, I suppose; he little knows Of what has happened here; I wanted him, Must employ his friendship, and then [Exit.