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The untouch'd honour of your virtuous wife ;
And (which I value least, yet dearly too)
My own fair reputation.
Winc. How can these
In any way be questioned ?
Y. Ger. Oh, dear sir,
Bad tongues have been too busy with us all;
Of which I never yet had time to think,
But with sad thoughts and griefs unspeakable;
It hath been whispered by some wicked ones,
But loudly thunder'd in my father's ears,
By some that have malign'd our happiness,
(Heaven, if it can brook slander, pardon them !)
That this my customary coming hither,
Hath been to base and sordid purposes;
To wrong your bed; injure her chastity;
And be mine own undoer: which how false
Winc. As heaven is true, I know it.
Y. Ger. Now this calumny Arriving first unto my father's ears, His easy nature was induc'd to think, That these strange things might, perhaps, be possible: I answered him, as I would do to heaven, And clear’d myself in his suspicious thoughts, As truly as the high all-knowing judge Shall of these stains acquit me, which are merely Aspersions and untruths: the good old man (Possess'd with my sincerity, and yet careful Of your renown, her honour, and my fame) To stop the worst that scandal could inflict, And to prevent false rumours, charges me, The cause remov’d to take away the effect; Which only could be, to forbear your house, And this upon his blessing: you hear all.
Winc. And I of all acquit you. This, your absence, (With which my love most cavil'd) orators In your behalf. Had such things past betwixt you, Not: threats nor chidings could have driven you hence. It pleads in your behalf, and speaks in hers ; And arms me with a double confidence, Both of your friendship, and her loyalty : I am happy in you both, and only doubtful Which of you two doth most impart my love. You shall not hence to night.
Y. Ger. Pray pardon, sir...
Winc. You are in your lodging.
Y. Ger. But my father's charge.
Winc. My conjuration shall dispense with that ;
You may be up as early as you please,
But hence to night you shall not.
Y. Ger. You are powerful.
Winc. This night, of purpose, I have parted beds,
Feigning myself not well, to give you meeting ;
Nor can be ought suspected by my wife,
I have kept all so private: now 'tis late,
I'll steal up to my rest. But, howsoever,
Let's not be strange in writing; that way daily
We may confer without the least suspect,
In spite of all such base calumnious tongues ;
So now good night, sweet friend.
· Y. Ger. May he that made you
So just and good, still guard you! Not to bed,
So I, perhaps, might oversleep myself,
And then my tardy waking might betray me
To the more early household ; thus as I am,
I'll rest me on this pallet; but in vain,
I find no sleep can fasten on mine eyes,
There are in this disturbed brain of mine
So many mutinous fancies. This, to me,
Will be a tedious night; how shall I spend it?
No book that I can spy ? no company?
A little let me recollect myself:
Oh, what more wish'd company can I find,
Suiting the apt occasion, time and place,
Than the sweet contemplation of her beauty;
And the fruition too, time may produce,
Of what is yet lent out? 'Tis a sweet lady,
And every way accomplish'd : hath mere accident
Brought me thus near, and I not visit her;
Should it arrive her ear, perhaps might breed
Our lasting separation; for 'twixt lovers,
No quarrel's to unkindness : sweet opportunity
Offers prevention, and invites me to't:
The house is known to me, the stairs and rooms;*
The way unto her chamber frequently
Trodden by me at midnight, and all hours : ,
How joyful to her would a meeting be,
So strange and unexpected; shadowed too
Beneath the veil of night: I am resolved
To give her visitation, in that place
Where we have past deep vows, her bed-chamber.”
The attempt puts him in possession of fatal information :-he hears the wife and Delavel converse in a manner which leaves no room to doubt the nature of their connection. He determines to travel once more ; but before he quits the country, he cannot refuse to pay a parting visit to his friend Wincot, who prepares a little feast for him. Geraldine studiously avoids both his mistress and his false friend. The former, however, seeks for, and succeeds in gaining, an occasion of speaking to him in private. The result is disclosed in the following extract:
“ Wife. You are sad, sir.
Y. Ger. I know no cause.
Wife. Then can I show you some:
Who would be otherwise, to leave a father
So careful, and each way so provident?
To leave so many, and such worthy friends ?
To abandon your own country? These are some :
Nor do I think you can be much the merrier
For my sake.
Y. Ger. Now your tongue speaks oracles ;
For all the rest are nothing : 'tis for you,
Only for you I cannot.
Wife. So I thought:
Why then have you been all this while so strange?
Why will you travel? suing a divorce
Betwixt us, of a love inseparable;
For here shall I be left as desolate
Unto a frozen, almost widowed bed ;
Warm’d only in that future, stor’d in you ;
For who can in your absence comfort me?
Y. Ger. (Aside.) Shall my oppressed sufferance yet break forth
Into impatience, or endure her more ?
Wife. But since by no persuasion, no entreats,
Your settled obstinacy can be sway'd;
Though you seem desperate of your own dear life,
Have care of mine, for it exists in you.
Oh, sir, should you miscarry I were lost,
Lost and forsaken; then by our past vows,
And by this hand once given me, by these tears,
Which are but springs begetting greater flood,
I do beseech thee, my dear Geraldine,
Look to thy safety, and preserve thy health ;
Have care into what company you fall ;
Travel not late, and cross no dangerous seas;
For till heaven bless me in thy safe return,
How will this poor heart suffer?
Y. Ger. (Aside.) I had thought
Long since the syrens had been all destroy'd;
But one of them I find survives in her:
She almost makes me question what I know,
An heretic unto my own belief:
Oh, thou mankind's seducer!
Wife. What, no answer?
Y. Ger. Yes, thou hast spoke to me in showers
I will reply in thunder! Thou, adultress !
Thou hast more poison in thee than the serpent,
Who was the first that did corrupt thy sex,
Wife. To whom speaks the man?
Y. Ger. To thee,
Falsest of all that ever man term'd fair:
Hath impudence so steel'd thy smooth soft skin,
It cannot blush? or sin so obdur'd thy heart,
It doth not quake and tremble ? Search thy conscience,
There thou shalt find a thousand clamorous tongues
To speak as loud as mine doth.
Wife. Save from yours,
I hear no noise at all.
Y. Ger. I'll play the doctor
To open thy deaf ears: Monday, the ninth
Of the last month; canst thou remember that?
That night more black in thy abhorred sin,
Than in the gloomy darkness; that the time.
* Y. Ger. Wouldst thou the place know? Thy polluted chamber,
So often witness of my sinless vows :
Wouldest thou the person? One not worthy name;
Yet to torment thy guilty soul the more,
I'll tell him thee, that monster Delavel ;
Wouldst thou your bawd know? Midnight, that the hour?
The very words thou spake? Now what would Geraldine
Say, if he saw us here? To which was answered,
Tush! he's a coxcomb, fit to be so foold.
No blush? What, no faint fever on thee yet?
How hath thy black sins chang'd thee? Thou Medusa,
Those hairs that late appeared like golden wires,
Now crawl with snakes and adders : thou art ugly!
Wife. And yet my glass, till now, ne'er told me so:
Who gave you this intelligence ?
Who e coer. Onsuch inndelinquentis miracles.
That pitying such innocency as mine,
Should by two such delinquents be betray’d,
He brought me to that place by miracle ;
And made me an ear witness of all this.
Wife. I am undone!
Y. Ger. But think what thou hast lost
To forfeit me: I not withstanding these,
(So fix'd was my love and unutterable)
I kept this from thy husband ; nay, all ears;
With thy transgressions smothering mine own wrongs,
In hope of thy repentance.
Wife. Which begins,
Thus low upon my knees.
Y. Ger. Tush! bow to heaven,
Which thou hast most offended : 1, alas !
(Save in such scarce unheard-of treachery)
Most sinful like thyself. Wherein, oh, wherein,
Hath my unspotted and unbounded love
Desery'd the least of these ? Sworn to be made
A stale for term of life; and this for my goodness :
Die, and die soon; acquit me of my oath ;
But prithee die repentant; farewell ever!
'Tis thou, and only thou, hast banish'd me,
Both from my friends and country.
Wife. Oh, I am lost.”
. We cannot omit that most amusing description of a land shipwreck, which gave Cowley the hint for his Naufragium Joculare.
“ Y. Ger. In the height of their carousing, all their brains
Warm'd with the heat of wine, discourse was offered
Of ships, and storms at sea; when suddenly,
Out of his wild giddyness, one conceives
The room wherein they quaff'd to be a pinnace,
Moving and floating; and the confused noise
To be the murmuring winds, gusts, mariners ;
That their unstedfast footing did proceed