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On whom the poison of its canker'd falsehood
Hath wrought for credit to so foul a mischief.
Speak, sir, the churlish voice of this combustion,
Aurelio, speak; nor, gentle sir, forbear
Ought what you know, but roundly use your

eloquence Against a mean defendant.

Mal. He's put to't;
It seems the challenge gravels him.

Aurel. My intelligence
Was issue of my doubts, not of my knowledge.
A self-confession may crave assistance;
Let the lady's justice (then) impose the penance.
So, in the rules of friendship, as of love,
Suspicion is not seldom an improper
Advantage for the knitting faster joints
Of faithfullest affection, by the fevers
Of casualty unloos’d, where lastly error
Hath run into the toil.

Spin. Woful satisfaction For a divorce of hearts !

Aur. So resolute ? I shall touch nearer home : behold these hairs, Great masters of a spirit,' yet they are not By winter of old age quite hid in snow; Some messengers of time, I must acknowledge, Amongst them took up lodging; when we first

9

Behold these hairs, Great masters of a spirit, &c.]

Lenit albescens animos capillus,

Litium et rixæ cupidos, &c. See the Introduction, page clviii.

Exchang'd our faiths in wedlock, I was proud
I did prevail with one whose youth and beauty
Desery'd a choice more suitable in both.

a
Advancement to a fortune could not court
Ambition, either on my side, or hers;
Love drove the bargain, and the truth of love
Confirm'd it, I conceived. But disproportion
In years, amongst the married, is a reason
For change of pleasures: whereto I reply,
Our union was not forced, 'twas by consent;
So then the breach in such a case appears
Unpardonable:--say your thoughts.

Spin. My thoughts
In that respect are as resolute as yours,
The same; yet herein evidence of frailty
Deserv'd not more a separation,
Than doth charge of disloyalty objected
Without or ground or witness: women's faults
Subject to punishments, and men's applauded,
Prescribe no laws in force.

Aurel. Are you so nimble?
Mal. A soul sublimed from dross by compe-

tition, Such as is mighty Auria's famed, descends From its own sphere, when injuries, profound

ones, Yield to the combat of a scolding mastery, Skirmish of words. Hath your wife lewdly ranged, Adulterating the honour of

your

bed? Withold dispute; but execute your vengeance With unresisted rage; we shall look on,

Allow the fact, and spurn her from our bloods :
Else, not detected, you have wrong'd her innocence
Unworthily and childishly, for which
I challenge satisfaction.

Cast. 'Tis a tyranny
Over an humble and obedient sweetness,
Ungently to insult.

Enter ADURNI.

Adur. That I make good, And must without exception find admittance, Fitting the party who hath herein interest. Put case I was in fault, that fault stretch'd merely To a misguided thought; and who in presence, Except the pair of sisters, fair and matchless, Can quit an imputation of like folly? Here I ask pardon, excellent Spinella, Of only you; that granted, he amongst you, Who calls an even reckoning, shall meet An even accountant.

Aur. Baited by confederacy! I must have right.

Spin. And I, my lord, my lordWhat stir and coil is here! you can suspect ? So reconciliation then is needless :-Conclude the difference by revenge, or part, And never more see one another. Sister, Lend me thine arm; I have assumed a courage Above my force, and can hold out no longer: Auria, unkind, unkind!

Cast. She faints.

Aur. Spinella!
Regent of my affections, thou hast conquer'd:
I find thy virtues as I left them, perfect,
Pure and unflaw'd; for instance, let me claim
Castanna's promise.

Cast. Mine ?

Aur. Yours, to whose faith
I am a guardian, not by imposition,
But by you chosen.

chosen. Look
Look you, I have fitted

,
À A husband for you, noble and deserving;

No shrinking back. Adurni, I present her,
A wife of worth.

Mal. How's that?

Adur. So great a blessing
Crowns all desires of life.—The motion, lady,
To me, I can assure you, is not sudden;
But welcomed and forethought; would you

could
please
To say the like!

Aur. Castanna, do.-Speak, dearest,
It rectifies all crooked, vain surmises;
I prithee speak.

Spin. The courtship's somewhat quick,
The match it seems agreed on; do not, sister,
Reject the use of fate.

Cast. I dare not question
The will of heaven.

Mal. Unthought of and unlook'd for!
Spin. My ever honoured lord.

Aurel. This marriage frees Each circumstance of jealousy.

Aur. Make no scruple, Castanna, of the choice; 'tis firm and real: Why else have I so long with tameness nourish'd Report of wrongs, but that I fix'd on issue Of my desires ? Italians use not dalliance, But execution : herein I degenerated From custom of our nation; for the virtues Of my Spinella rooted in

my

soul,

[blocks in formation]

Yet common form of matrimonial compliments,

,'
Short-liv'd as are their pleasures.--Yet in sooth,
My dearest, I might blame your causeless absence,
To whom my love and nature were no strangers :
But being in your kinsman's house, I honour
His hospitable friendship, and must thank it.
Now lasting truce on all hands.

Aurel. You will pardon
A rash and over-busy curiosity.

Spin. It was to blame; but the success remits it.
Adur. Sir, what presumptions formerly have

grounded

for the virtues Of my Spinella rooted in my soul, Yet common form of matrimonial compliments,

Short-liv'd as are their pleasures.] This passage, as it stands in the quarto, is scarcely intelligible. What Auria apparently means to urge is, that the virtues of his wife, of which he was firmly persuaded, triumphed over, or were too great for the flattering, yet common form, &c.”: a verse, therefore, if not more, has been lost press.

It

may be added here, that Ford has imitated himself, in some measure, and awkwardly removed the suspicions of Aurelio, as he had previously done those of Romanello, in the Fancies, by an unlooked for marriage.

1

at the

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