And mark his feelings at this act of mine:
Observe if shame be o’er his features spread,
By his own victim to be soothed and fed;
But, this inform him, that it is not love
That prompts my heart, that duties only move.
Say, that no merits in his favour plead,
But miseries only, and his abject need;
Nor bring me grov’ling thanks, nor high-flown praise;
I would his spirits, not his fancy, raise:
Give him no hope that I shall ever more
A man so vile to my esteem restore;
But warn him rather, that, in time of rest,
His crimes be all remember’d and confess’d:
I know not all that form the sinner’s debt,
But there is one that he must not forget.”
The mind of Susan prompted her with speed
To act her part in every courteous deed:
All that was kind she was prepared to say,
And keep the lecture for a future day;
When he had all life’s comforts by his side,
Pity might sleep, and good advice be tried.
This done, the mistress felt disposed to look,
As self-approving, on a pious book;
Yet, to her native bias still inclined,
She felt her act too merciful and kind;
But when, long musing on the chilling scene
So lately past—the frost and sleet so keen —
The man’s whole misery in a single view —
Yes! she could think some pity was his due.
Thus fix’d, she heard not her attendant glide
With soft slow step—till, standing by her side,
The trembling servant gasp’d for breath, and shed
Relieving tears, then utter’d, “He is dead!”
“Dead!” said the startled Lady.—“Yes, he fell
Close at the door where he was wont to dwell;
There his sole friend, the Ass, was standing by,
Half dead himself, to see his Master die.”
“Expired he then, good Heaven! for want of food?” —
“No! crusts and water in a corner stood: —
To have this plenty, and to wait so long,
And to be right too late, is doubly wrong:
Then, every day to see him totter by,
And to forbear—Oh! what a heart had I!”
“Blame me not, child; I tremble at the news.”
“Tis my own heart,” said Susan, “I accuse:
To have this money in my purse—to know
What grief was his, and what to grief we owe;
To see him often, always to conceive
How he must pine and languish, groan and grieve,
And every day in ease and peace to dine,
And rest in comfort!—What a heart is mine!”
’Tis thought your deer doth hold you at a bay.
I choose her for myself;
If she and I are pleased, what’s that to you?
Let’s send each one to his wife,
And he whose wife is most obedient
Shall win the wager.
Now, by the world, it is a lusty wench,
I love her ten times more than e’er I did.
Shakespeare, Taming of the Shrew.