Obrázky na stránke

Dur. You see in what a changeful world we live:
The beggar of to-day is rich to-morrow;
The rich man poor-despised.

Gar. I'll hear no more.
Dur. Go home, and ponder on't.




-Cumberland. Penruddock. Here then was the residence of my once loved Arabella ; here then she reigned and reveled; a sympathetic gloom comes over me. Woodville is in my power.

(Enter Henry.) Henry. Where am I! What has happened? Why is this house so changed in its appearance ? Pen. Whom do


seek? Henry. A father and a mother who dwelt here. If you have heard the name of Woodville and can ease my anxious mind, tell me they survive.

Pen. Be satisfied—they live.

Henry. Devoutly I return heaven thanks, and bless you for the tidings. Long absent and debarred all correspondence with my family, I came with trembling heart, uncertain of their fate, and I confess the ominous appearance of a deserted house struck me with alarm; but I may hope they have some other residence at hand. If you know where, direct me.

Pen. If I knew where, I would ; but-
Henry. But what? Why do you pause?
Pen. Because I can't proceed.

Henry. Why not proceed? You know they live, can you not tell me where ?

Pen. I cannot. Henry. What is your business here? Pen. None. Henry. Do you not live in London? Pen. No. Henry. What is your name, occupation? Where do you inhabit ? How comes it to pass that you know so well to answer me one question, and are dumb to all the rest ?

Pen. I am not used to interrogatories, nor quite so patient as may suit with your impetuosity.

Henry. I stand corrected; I am too quick.--You will excuse the feelings of a son.

Pen. Most willingly; only I'm sorry to perceive they are so sensitive, because this world abounds in misery.

Henry. Now I am sure you know more than you yet reveal; but having said my parents are still alive, you fortify me against lesser evils. I know my father's failings, and can well suppose that his affairs have fallen into decay.

Pen. To utter ruin. Gaming has undone him.

Henry. Oh! execrable vice, fiend of the human soul, that tears the heart of parent, child, and friend! What crimes, what shame, what complicated misery hast thou brought upon us! Rash, desperate, wretched man! This house was swallowed in the general wreck ?

Pen. With every thing else: Sir George Penruddock had it for a debt, as it is called, of honor.

Henry. A debt of infamy-and may the curse entailed upon such debts descend on him and all that may inherit from him!

Pen. There you outrun discretion : he is dead, and you would not extend your curse to him that now inherits.

Henry. Light where it will, I'll not revoke it. He that is fortune's minion, well deserves it.

Pen. But he that's innocent does not.

Henry. Can he be innocent, who stains his hands with ore drenched in the gamester's blood, dug from the widow's, and the orphan's hearts, with tears, and cries, and agonies unutterable ? 'Tis property accurst; were it a mine as deep as to the centre, I would not touch an atom to preserve myself from starving.

Pen. You speak too strongly, sir.

Henry. So you may think: I speak as I feel. Who is the wretched heir ?

Pen. Roderick Penruddock.
Henry. What! Roderick the recluse ?
Pen. The same.

Henry. My father knew him well—a gloomy misanthrope, shunning and shunned by all mankind. When such a being, after long seclusion, lost to all social charities, and hardened into savage insensibility, comes forth into the world, armed with power and property, he issues like a hungry lion from his den, ravage

and devour, Pen. Stop your invective! Know him before you condemn him. He stands before you.

Henry. Indeed! and I am then in company with Mr. Penruddock?

Pen. You are.


[ocr errors]

port. If

Henry. Then I must throw myself upon your mercy; I have spoken rashly, and abide by any measures you may choose to dictate.

Pen. You can hardly expect much candor in a character such as you have painted-savage, insensible, lost to all social charities, a gloomy misanthrope. Henry. I have spoken, as men are apt to speak, upon re

you mean only to retort the words on me as their retailer, you still leave the original authority in force; but if you can refute that, you at once vindicate your own character from aspersion, and bring me to shame for my credulity and levity.

Pen. You have quoted your own father as the authority on which you rest: very well—of him, then, in the first place, I will speak; of myself in the last. (Puts chairs.) Sit down. (They sit.) Your father and myself were intimates through all that happy age, when nature wears no mask; our boyish sports, our college studies, our traveling excursions, united us in friendship.—This may be tedious talk; and yet I study to be brief for my own sake as well as yours.

Henry. I'm all attention-pray proceed.

Pen. On our return from travel, it was my fortune to gain the affections of a lady—whom, at this distant period, I cannot name without emotions which unman and shake my foolish heart—therefore, no more of her. Your father was our mutual confident, passed and repassed between us on affairs of trust and secrecy, while I was busied in providing for our marriage settlement: I struggled against difficulties that tortured my impatience, and at length overcame them. In that interval a villain had traduced my character, poisoned her credulous mind, and by the display of a superior fortune, prevailed upon her parents to revoke their promises to me, and marry her to him. -What did this wretch deserve ?

Henry. Death from your hands, and infamy from all the world.

Pen. And yet upon his credit you arraign my character :for that wretch (Rises) is your own father.

Henry. I am dumb with horror.

Pen. Now can you wonder, if, when armed with power to extinguish this despoiler of my peace, this still inveterate defamer of my character, I issue, as your own words describe me, like a hungry lion from his den, to ravage and devour ?

Henry. i'll answer that hereafter; and, by the honor of a soldier, I will answer it as truth and justice shall exact of me. But a charge so strong, so serious, so heart-rending to a son, who feels himself referred to in a case so touching, demands a strict discussion: I shall immediately seek my father, whom I have not yet seen.

Pen. If I accuse him falsely, it is not restitution of the debt he owes me, nor all that I possess besides,-no, nor my life itself, that can atone for the calumny.

[blocks in formation]

Aurelius. What answer's for this pile of bills, my lord ?
Catiline. Who can have sent them here?

Aur. Your creditors!
As if some demon woke them all at once,
These having been crowding on me since the morn.
Here, Caius Curtius claims the prompt discharge
Of his half million sesterces; besides
The interest on your bond, ten thousand more.
Six thousand for your Tyrian canopy;
Here, for your Persian horses—your trireme:
Here, debt on debt. Will you discharge them now?

Cat. I'll think of it.

Aur. It must be now; this day!
Or, by to-morrow, we shall have no home.

Cat. 'Twill soon be all the same
Aur. We are undone!

Cat. Aurelius!
All will be well; but hear me-stay-a little :
I had intended to consult with you
On-our departure—from—the city.

Aur. (Indignantly and surprised.) Rome!
Cat. Even so, Aurelius! even so; we must leave Rome.
Aur. Let me look on you; are you Catiline ?
Cat. I know not what I am,—we must be gone!
Aur. Madness! let them take all ?
Cat. The gods will have it so!
Aur. Seize on your house ?
Cat. Seize


last sesterce! Let them have their will. We must endure. Ay, ransack-ruin all ; Tear up my father's grave, tear out my

heart. The world is wide-Can we not dig or beg? Can we not find on earth a den, and tomb ! Aur. Before I stir, they shall hew off my


Cat. What's to be done!

Aur. Now hear me, Catiline :
This day 'tis three years since there was not in Rome,
An eye, however haughty, but would sink
When I turned on it: when I passed the streets
My chariot-wheel was hung on by a host

your chief senators; as if their gaze Beheld an emperor on its golden round; An earthly providence !

Cat. 'Twas so! 'twas so! But it is vanished-gone.

Aur. That day shall come again ; or, in its place, One that shall be an era to the world!

Cat. What's in your thoughts !

Aur. Our high and hurried life
Has left us strangers to each other's souls :
But now we think alike. You have a sword!
llave had a famous name in the legions !

Cat. Hush!

Aur. Have the walls ears ? alas! I wish they had ;
And tongues too, to bear witness to my oath,
And tell it to all Rome.

Cat. Would you destroy ?
Aur. Were I a thunderbolt ! -

Rome's ship is rotten:
Has she not cast you. out; and would you sink
With her, when she can give you no gain else
Of her fierce fellowship? Who'd seek the chain,
That linked him to his mortal enemy?
Who'd face the pestilence in his foe's house?
Who, when the prisoner drinks by chance the cup,
That was to be his death, would squeeze the dregs,
To find a drop to bear him company?

Cat. It will not come to this.

Aur. (Haughtily.) I'll not be dragged,.
A show to all the city rabble ;-robbed, -
Down to the very mantle on our backs,-
A pair of branded beggars! Doubtless Cicero-

Cat. Cursed be the ground he treads! name him no. more.

Aur. Doubtless, he'll see us to the city gates ;; 'Twill be the least respect that he can pay To his fallen rival. With all his lictors shouting, “ Room for the noble vagrants ;. all caps off For Catiline! for him that would be consul.”

« PredošláPokračovať »