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A Select Collection of Old English Plays, Volume 7

by Various

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It appears from William Webbe's Epistle prefixed to this piece, that after its first exhibition it was laid aside, and at some distance of time was new-written by R. Wilmot. The reader, therefore, may not be displeased with a specimen of it in its original dress. It is here given from the fragment of an ancient MS. taken out of a chest of papers formerly belonging to Mr Powell, father-in-law to the author of "Paradise Lost," at Forest Hill, about four miles from Oxford, where in all probability some curiosities of the same kind may remain, the contents of these chests (for I think there are more than one) having never yet been properly examined. The following extract is from the conclusion of the piece.—Reed. [Reed's extract has been collated with the two MSS. before-mentioned; where the Powell MS. may now be, the editor cannot say. The differences, on the whole, are not material; but the Lansdowne MS. 786 has supplied a few superior readings and corrections.]

    But in thy brest if eny spark remaine    Of thy dere love. If ever yet I coulde    So moche of thee deserve, or at the least    If with my last desire I may obtaine    This at thy handes, geve me this one request    And let me not spend my last breath in vaine.    My life desire I not, which neither is    In thee to geve nor in my self to save,    Althoughe I wolde. Nor yet I aske not this    As mercye for myne Erle in ought to crave,    Whom I to well do knowe howe thou hast slayen.    No, no, father, thy hard and cruell wronge    With pacience as I may I will sustaine    In woefull life which now shall not be longe.    But this one suite, father, if unto me    Thou graunt, though I cannot the same reacquite    Th'immortall goddes shall render unto thee    Thy due reward and largely guerdon it,    That sins it pleased thee not thus secretly    I might enjoy my love, his corps and myne    May nathelesse together graved be    And in one tombe our bodies both to shrine    With which this small request eke do I praie    That on the same graven in brasse thou place    This woefull epitaphe which I shall saye,    That all lovers may rue this mornefull case;    Loe here within one tombe where harbor twaine    Gismonda Quene and Countie Pallurine!    She loved him, he for her love was slayen,    For whoes revenge eke lyes she here in shrine.                                  [GISMONDA dieth

    TANCRED. O me alas, nowe do the cruell paines    Of cursed death my dere daughter bereave.    Alas whie bide I here? the sight constraines    Me woefull man this woefull place to leaue.


TANCRED cometh out of GISMOND'S Chamber.

    TANCRED. O dolorous happe, ruthefull and all of woe    Alas I carefull wretche what resteth me?    Shall I now live that with these eyes did soe    Beholde my daughter die? what, shall I see    Her death before my face that was my lyfe    And I to lyve that was her lyves decay?    Shall not this hand reache to this hart the knife    That maye bereve bothe sight and life away,    And in the shadowes darke to seke her ghoste    And wander there with her?...