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A little longer, a few short hours more,
And all their cares, and mine, shall end for ever.

[Aside. How near is misery and joy allied ! Nor

eye nor thought can their extremes divide :
A moment's space is long, and lightning slow
To fate descending to reverse our woe,
Or blast our hopes, and all our joys o'erthrow.



The Scene continued. Enter AGNES, alone, with the

casket in her hand. Agn. Who should this stranger be? And then this

casketHe says it is of value, and yet trusts it, As if a trifle, to a stranger's handHis confidence amazes me -Perhaps It is not what he says I'm strongly tempted To open it, and see-No, let it rest. Why should my curiosity excite me To search and pry into th' affairs of others, Who have t' employ my thoughts, so many cares And sorrows of my own? -With how much ease The spring gives way! Surprising ! most prodigious ! My eyes are dazzled, and my ravish'd heart Leaps at the glorious sight. How bright's the lustre, How immense the worth of these fair jewels ! Ay, such a treasure would expel for ever

Base poverty, and all its abject train;
The mean devices we're reduc'd to use
To keep out famine, and preserve our lives
From day to day; the cold neglect of friends;
The galling scorn, or more provoking pity
Of an insulting world- -Possess'd of these,
Plenty, content, and pow'r, might take their turn,
And lofty pride bare its aspiring head
At our approach, and once more bend before us.
-A pleasing dream! 'Tis past; and now I wake
More wretched by the happiness I've lost;
For sure it was a happiness to think,
Though but a moment, such a treasure mine.
Nay, it was more than thought I saw and touch'd
The bright temptation, and I see it yet
'Tis here—'tis mine-I have it in possession

-Must I resign it? Must I give it back ?
Am I in love with misery and want?-
To rob myself, and court so vast a loss ?--
Retain it then-But how? There is a way,
Why sinks my heart? Why does my blood run cold?
Why am I thrill'd with horror ? 'Tis not choice,
But dire necessity suggests the thought.

Enter OLD WILMOT, 0. Wilm. The mind contented, with how little

pains The wand'ring senses yield to soft repose, And die to gain new life ! He's fallen asleep AlreadyHappy man! What dost thou think,

My Agnes, of our unexpected guest ?
He seems to me a youth of great humanity:
Just ere he clos'd his eyes, that swam in tears,
He wrung my hand, and press'd it to his lips;
And with a look, that pierc'd me to the soul,
Begg'd me to comfort thee: and-Dost thou hear


What art thou gazing on? Fie, 'tis not well-
This casket was deliver'd to


closed : Why have you open'd it ? Should this be known, How mean must we appear.

Agn. And who shall know it?

0. Wilm. There is a kind of pride, a decent dignity
Due to ourselves; which, spite of our misfortunes,
May be maintain’d and cherish'd to the last.
To live without reproach, and without leave
To quit the world, shews sovereign contempt,
And noble scorn of its relentless malice.
Agn. Shews sovereign madness, and a scorn of

Pursue no farther this detested theme:
I will not die I will not leave the world
For all that you can urge, until compellid.

0. Wilm. To chase a shadow, when the setting sun
Is darting his last rays, were just as wise
As your anxiety for fleeting life,
Now the last means for its support are failing :
Were famine not as mortal as the sword,
This warmth might be excus'd-But take thy choice:
Die how you will, you shall not die alone.

Agn. Nor live, I hope.
0. Wilm. There is no fear of that.
Agn. Then we'll live both.
0. Wilm. Strange folly! where's the means ?
Agn. The means are there; those jewels-

O, Wilm. Ha! -Take heed :
Perhaps thou dost but try me; yet take heed
There's nought so monstrous but the mind of man
In some conditions may be brought t'approve;
Theft, sacrilege, treason, and parricide,
When flatt'ring opportunity entic'd,
And desperation drove, have been committed
By those who once would start to hear them nam’d.

Agn. And add to these detested suicide, Which, by a crime much less, we may avoid.

0. Wilm. Th' in hospitable murder of our guest! How couldst thou form a thought so very tempting, So advantageous, so secure, and easy; And yet so cruel, and so full of horror ?

Agn. 'Tis less impiety, less against nature,
To take another's life, than end our own.

0. Wilm. It is no matter, whether this or that
Be, in itself, the less or greater crime:
Howe'er we may deceive ourselves or others,
We act from inclination, not by rule,
Or none could act amiss-

And that all err,
None but the conscious hypocrite denies.

-0! what is man, his excellence and strength, When in an hour of trial and desertion, Reason, his noblest power, may be suborn'd To plead the cause of vile assassination !



Agn. You're too severe: reason may justly plead For her own preservation,

0. Wilm. Rest contented : Whate'er resistance I may seem to make, I am betray'd within: my will's seducid, And my

whole soul infected. The desire Of life returns, and brings with it a train Of appetites, that rage to be supplied. Whoever stands to parley with temptation, Does it to be o'ercome.

Agn. Then nought remains, But the swift, execution of a deed. That is not to be thought on, or delay'd. We must dispatch him sleeping: should he wake, 'Twere madness to attempt it.

0. Wilm. True; his strength
Single is more, much more than ours united ;
So may his life, perhaps, as far exceed
Ours in duration, should he 'scape this snare.
Gen'rous, unhappy man! O what could move thee
To put thy life and fortune in the hands
Of wretches mad with anguish?

Agn. By what means ?
By stabbing, suffocation, or by strangling,
Shall we effect his death?

0. Wilm. Why, what a fiend !-
How cruel, how remorseless and impatient
Have pride and poverty made thee!

Agn. Barbarous man! Whose wasteful riots ruin'd our estate, And drove our son, ere the first down had spread

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