« AnteriorContinuar »
Than on the sun's clear brow: what would'st thou speak ?
Mrs. Fra. I would I had no tongue, no ears, no eyes, i No apprehension, no capacity. When do you spurn me like a dog? when tread me Under feet? when drag me by the hair? Tho' I deserve a thousand thousand fold More than you can inflict: yet, once my husband, For womanhood, to which I am a shame, Though once an ornament; even for his sake That hath redeem'd our souls, mark not my face, Nor hack me with your sword: but let me go Perfect and undeformed to my tomb. I am not worthy that I should prevail In the least suit; no, not to speak to you, Nor look on you, nor be in your presence : Yet as an abject this one suit I crave, This granted, I am ready for my grave.
Fran. My God, with patience arm me! rise, nay rise, And I'll debate with thee. Was it for want Thou play'dst the strumpet? Wast thou not supply'd With every pleasure, fashion, and new toy ; Nay, even beyond my calling ?
Mrs. Fra. I was.
Fran. Did not I lodge thee in my bosom? Wear thee in my heart?
Mrs. Fra. You did.
Fran. 'I did, indeed; witness my tears, I did.
Go bring my infants hither. O Nan, O Nan;
If neither fear of shame, regard of honour,
The blemish of my house, nor my dear love,
Could have withheld thee from so lewd a fact,
Yet for these infants, these young harmless souls,
On whose white brows thy shame is character'd,
And grows in greatness as they wax in years;
Look but on them, and melt away in tears.
Away with them; lest as her spotted body
Hath stain’d their names with stripe of bastardy,
So her adulterous breath may blast their spirits
With her infectious thoughts. Away with them.
Mrs. Fra. In this one life I die ten thousand deaths.
Fran. Stand up, stand up, I will do nothing rashly.
I will retire a while into my study,
And thou shalt hear thy sentence presently. . [exit.
He returns with Cranwel, his friend. She falls on her knees.
Fran. My words are register'd in heaven already.
With patience hear me. I'll not martyr thee,
Nor mark thee for a strumpet; but with usage
Of more humility torment thy soul,
And kill thee even with kindness.
Cran. Mr. Frankford !
Fran. Good Mr. Cranwel.—Woman, hear thy judgment; Go make thee ready in thy best attire ; Take with thee all thy gowns, all thy apparel : Leave nothing that did ever call thee mistress, Or by whose sight, being left here in the house, I may remember such a woman was. Chuse thee a bed and hangings for thy chamber; Take with thee every thing which hath thy mark, And get thee to my manor seven miles off; Where live ; 'tis thine, I freely give it thee, My tenants by shall furnish thee with wains To carry all thy stuff within two hours; No longer will I limit thee my sight. Chuse which of all my servants thou lik'st best, And they are thine to attend thee.
Mrs. Fra. A mild sentence.
Fran. But as thou hop'st for heaven, as thou believ'st
Thy name's recorded in the book of life,
I charge thee never after this sad day
To see me or to meet me; or to send
By word, or writing, gift, or otherwise,
To move me, by thyself, or by thy friends ;
Nor challenge any part in my two children.
So farewell, Nan; for we will henceforth be
As we had never seen, ne'er more shall see.
Mrs. Fra. How full my heart is, in mine eyes appears;
What wants in words, I will supply in tears.
Fran. Come, take your coach, your stuff; all must along : Servants and all make ready, all be gone. It was thy hand cut two hearts out of one.
Cranwel, Frankford, and Nicholas, a Servant. Cran. Why do you search each room about your house, Now that you have despatch'd your wife away?
Fran. O sir, to see that nothing may be left
That ever was my wife's : I lov'd her dearly,
And when I do but think of her unkindness,
My thoughts are all in hell; to avoid which torment,
I would not have a bodkin nor a cuff,
A bracelet, necklace, or rebato wire,
Nor any thing that ever was called her's,
Left me, by which I might remember her.
Seek round about.
Nic. Here's her lute flung in a corner.
Fran. Her lute ? Oh God! upon this instrument
Her fingers have ran quick division,
Swifter than that which now divides our hearts.
These frets have made me pleasant, that have now
Frets of my heart-strings made. O master Cranwel,
Oft hath she made this melancholy wood
(Now mute and dumb for her disastrous chance)
Speak sweetly many a note, sound many a strain
To her own ravishing voice, which being well strung,
What pleasant strange airs have they jointly wrung!
Post with it after her; now nothing's left;
Of her and her's I am at once bereft.
Nicholas overtakes Mrs. Frankford on her journey, and delivers the
Mrs. Fra. I know the lute; oft have I sung to thee :
We both are out of tune, both out of time..
Nic. My master commends him unto ye;
There's all he can find that was ever yours.
He prays you to forget him, and so he bids you farewell.
Mrs. Fra. I thank him, he is kind, and ever was.
All you that have true feeling of my grief,
That know my loss, and have relenting hearts,
Gird me about; and help me with your tears
To wash my spotted sins: my lute shall groan;
It cannot weep, but shall lament my moan.
If you return unto your master, say,
(Tho' not from me, for I am unworthy
To blast his name so with a strumpet's tongue,)
That you have seen me weep, wish myself dead.
Nay you may say too (for my vow is past)
Last night you saw me eat and drink my last.
This to your master you may say and swear:
For it is writ in heaven, and decreed here.
Go break this lute on my coach's wheel,
As the last music that I e'er shall make ;
Not as my husband's gift, but my farewell
To all earth's joy; and so your master tell.
Nic. I'll do your commendations. . .
Mrs. Fra. O no:
I dare not so presume; nor to my children:
I am disclaim'd in both, alas, I am.: :.
O never teach them, when they come to speak,
To name the name of mother; chide their tongue
If they by chance light on that hated word; :
Tell them 'tis naught, for when that word they name
(Poor pretty souls) they harp on their own shame. ,
So, now unto my coach, then to my home, m..
So to my death-bed; for from this sad hour,
I never will nor eat, nor drink, nor taste : 1
Of any cates that may preserve my life: :
I never will nor smile, nor sleep, nor rest.
But when my tears have wash'd my black soul white,
Sweet Saviour ! to thy hands I yield my sprite.
Mrs. Frankford (dying). Sir Francis Acton (her brother). Sir Charles
Mountford, Mr. Malby, and other of her husband's friends. »
Mal. How fare you, Mrs. Frankford ?
Mrs. Fra. Sick, sick, O sick: give me some air. I pray
Tell me, oh tell me, where is Mr. Frankford.
Will he not deign to see me, e'er I die? -
Mal. Yes, Mrs. Frankford: divers gentlemen
Your loving neighbours, with that just request
Have mov'd and told him of your weak estate:
Who, tho' much ado to get belief, } },
Examining of the general circumstance,
Seeing your sorrow and your penitence,
And hearing therewithal the great desire
You have to see him e'er you left the world,
He gave to us his faith to follow us; '
And sure he will be here immediately.
Mrs. Fra. You have half reviv'd me with the pleasing news:
Raise me a little higher in my bed..
Blush I not, brother Acton ? blush I not, Sir Charles ?
Can you not read my fault writ in my cheek? .......
Is not my crime there ? tell me, gentlemen.
Char. Alas! good mistress, sickness hath not left you
Blood in your face enough to make you blush. ; .
Mrs. Fra. Then sickness like a friend my fault would hide.
Is my husband come? my soul but tarries . ..
His arrival, then I am fit for heaven.
Acton. I came to chide you, but my words of hate
Are turn’d to pity and compassionate grief.
I came to rate you ; but my brawls, you see,
Melt into tears, and I must weep by thee.'
Here's Mr. Frankford now.
Mr. Frankford enters.
Fran. Good morrow, brother; morrow, gentlemen:
God, that hath laid this cross upon our heads,
Might (had he pleas'd) have made our cause of meeting
On a more fair and more contented ground:
But he that made us, made us to this woe.
Mrs. Fran. And is he come? methinks that voice I know.
Fran. How do you, woman?
Mrs. Fran. Well, Mr. Frankford, well; but shall be better,
I hope within this hour. Will you vouchsafe
(Out of your grace and your humanity)
To take a spotted strumpet by the hand ?
Fran. This hand once held my heart in faster bonds
Than now 'tis grip'd by me. God pardon them
That made us first break hold.
Mrs. Fra. Amen, Amen. ,
Out of my zeal to heaven, whither I'm now bound,
I was so impudent to wish you here;
And once more beg your pardon. Oh! good man,
And father to my children, pardon me. ·
Pardon, O pardon me: my fault so heinous is,
That if you in this world forgive it not,
Heaven will not clear it in the world to come.
Faintness hath so usurp'd upon my knees
That kneel I cannot; but on my heart's knees
My prostrate soul lies thrown down at your feet
To beg your gracious pardon. Pardon, O pardon me!
Fran. As freely from the low depth of my soul
As my Redeemer hath for us given his death,
I pardon thee; I will shed tears for thee;
Pray with thee:
And, in mere pity of thy weak estate, ,
I'll wish to die with thee.. .
All. So we do all.
Frun. Even as I hope for pardon at that day, When the great judge of heaven in scarlet sits,