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Stood next the shining throne, and winked but half;
Mel. Then I have hope.
Mai Not so; I preached on purpose
Mai. Where am I now? upon the brink of life,
0 could I 'scape so cheap! but ever, ever!
1 feel my heart-strings rend!—I'm here,—I'm gone! Thus men, too careless of their future state, Dispute, know nothing, and believe too late.
[A flash of lightning, they sink together.
SCENE III.—Enter Duke of Guise; Cardinal, and
Card. A dreadful message from a dying man, A prophesy indeed!For souls, just quitting earth, peep into heaven, Make swift acquaintance with their kindred forms*
And partners of immortal secrets grow.
Aum. Tis good to lean on the securer side: When life depends, the mighty stake is such, Fools fear too little, and they dare too much.
Gui. You have prevailed, I will not go to council. I have provoked my sovereign past a pardon, It but remains to doubt if he dare kill me: Then if he dares but to be just, I die. Tis too much odds against me; I'll depart, And finish greatness at some safer time.
Arch. By heaven, 'tis Harry's plot to fright you hence, That, coward-like, you might forsake your friends.
Gui. The devil foretold it dying Malicorn.
Arch. Yes, some court-devil, no doubt: If you depart, consider, good my lord, You are the master-spring that moves our fabric, Which once removed, our motion is no more. Without your presence, which buoys up our hearts, The League will sink beneath a royal name; The inevitable yoke prepared for kings Will soon be shaken off; things done, repealed; And things undone, past future means to do.
Card. I know not; I begin to taste his reasons.
Arch. Nay, were the danger certain of your stay, An act so mean would lose you all your friends, And leave you single to the tyrant's rage: Then better 'tis to hazard life alone, Than life, and friends, and reputation too.
Gui. Sincemore I am confirmed, I'll stand the shock. Where'er he dares to call, I dare to go. My friends are many, faithful, and united; He will not venture on so rash a deed: And now, I wonder I should fear that force, Which I have used to conquer and contemn.
Arch. Your tempter comes, perhaps, to turn the scale, And warn you not to go.
Gui. O fear her not,
Mar. Do you not wonder at this visit, sir?
Gui. No, madam, T at last have gained the point
Mar. Believe me, Guise, 'twere gallantly resolved,
Gui. I change, 'tis true, because I love you still;
Mar. O Guise, I never did; but, sir, I come
Gui. The king's at Blois, and you have reason for
Therefore, what am I to expect from pity,— From yours, I mean,—when you behold me slain?Mar. First answer me, and then I'll speak my heart. Have you, O Guise, since your last solemn oath, Stood firm to what you swore? Be plain, my lord, Or run it o'er a while, because again I tell you, I must never see you more. Gui. Never!—She's set on by the king to sift me. Why, by that never then, all I have sworn Is true, as that the king designs to end me. Mar. Keep your obedience,—by the saints, you live.
G ui. Then mark; 'tis judged by heads grown white in council, This very day he means to cut me off.
Mar. By heaven, then you're forsworn; you've broke your vows.
Gui. By you, the justice of the earth, I have not.
Mar. By you, dissembler of the world, you have. I know the king.
Gui. I do believe you, madam.
Mar. I have tried you both.
Gui. Not me, the king you mean.
Mar. Do these o'erboiling answers suit the Guise? But go to council, sir, there shew your truth; If you are innocent, you're safe; but O, If I should chance to see you stretched along, Your love, O Guise, and your ambition gone, That venerable aspect pale with death, I must conclude you merited your end.
Gui. You must, you will, and smile upon my murder.
Mar. Therefore, if you are conscious of a breach, Confess it to me. Lead me to the king; He has promised me to conquer his revenge, And place you next him; therefore, if you're right, Make me not fear it by asseverations, But speak your heart, and O resolve me truly!
Gui. Madam, I've thought, and trust you with my soul. You saw but now my parting with my brother, The prelate too of Lyons; it was debated Warmly against me, that I should go on.
Mar. Did I not tell you, sir?
Gui. True; but in spite
VOL. vir. H
Of those imperial arguments they urged,
Gui. O say not so, for once again I'll see you.
Mar. This night, my lord, I'm a recluse for ever.
Gui. Ha! stay till morning: tapers are too dim; Stay till the sun rises to salute you; Stay till I lead you to that dismal den Of virgins buried quick, and stay for ever.
Mar. Alas! your suit is vain, for I have vowed it: Nor was there any other way to clear The imputed stains of my suspected honour.
Gui. Hear me a word!—one sigh, one tear, at part
And one last look; for, O my earthly saint,
Mar. O heaven! I now confess,
Gui. Why, madam, why?
Mar. Because by this disorder,
Gui. Without an oath I do; therefore have mercy,