Bev. O this infernal vice! how has it sunk me! A vice, whose highest joy was poor to my domestic happiness. Yet how have I pursued it! Turned all my comforts to bitterest pangs! and all Thy smiles to tears. Damned, damned infatuation!
Mrs. Bev. Be cool, my life! What are the means the letter talks of? Have You, have I those means? Tell me, and ease me. I have no life while You are wretched.
Bev. No, no; it must not be. ’Tis I alone have sinned; ’tis I alone must suffer. You shall reserve those means, to keep my child and his wronged mother from want and wretchedness.
Mrs. Bev. What means?
Bev. I came to rob you of them; but cannot—dare not; those jewels are your sole support—I should be more than monster to request them.
Mrs. Bev. My jewels! Trifles, not worth the speaking of, if weighed against a husband’s peace; but let them purchase That, and the world’s wealth is of less value.
Bev. Amazing goodness! How little do I seem before such virtues!
Mrs. Bev. No more, my love. I kept them till occasion called to use them; now is the occasion, and I’ll resign them chearfully.
Bev. Why, we’ll be rich in love then—But this excess of kindness melts me. Yet for a friend one would do much. He has denied Me nothing.
Mrs. Bev. Come to my closet—But let him manage wisely. We have no more to give him.
Bev. Where learnt my love this excellence? ’Tis heaven’s own teaching; that heaven, which to an angel’s form, has given a mind more lovely. I am unworthy of you, but will deserve you better.
Henceforth my follies and neglects shall
And all to come be penitence and peace;
Vice shall no more attract me with her charms,
Nor pleasure reach me, but in these dear arms.
SCENE I. STUKELY’S lodgings.
Enter STUKELY, and BATES.
Stukely. So runs the world, Bates. Fools are the natural prey of knaves; nature designed them so, when she made lambs for wolves. The laws that fear and policy have framed, nature disclaims: she knows but two; and those are force and cunning. The nobler law is force; but then there’s danger in’t; while cunning, like a skilful miner, works safely and unseen.
Bat. And therefore wisely. Force must have nerves and sinews; cunning wants neither. The dwarf that has it, shall trip the giant’s heels up.
Stu. And bind him to the ground. Why, we’ll erect a shrine for nature, and be her oracles. Conscience is weakness; fear made, and fear maintains it. The dread of shame, inward reproaches, and fictitious burnings, swell out the phantom. Nature knows none of this; Her laws are freedom.
Bat. Sound doctrine, and well delivered!