LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Hood’s Lamia

Vol. I. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Introductory
Ch. 2: Childhood
Ch. 3: Boyhood
Ch. 4: London
Ch. 5: Companions
Ch. 6: The Cypher
Ch. 7: Edinburgh
Ch. 8: Edinburgh
Ch. 9: Excursion
Ch. 10: Naval Services
Ch. 11: Periodical Press
Ch. 12: Periodical Press
Ch. 13: Past Times
Ch. 14: Past Times
Ch. 15: Literary
Ch. 16: War & Jubilees
Ch. 17: The Criminal
Ch. 18: Mr. Perceval
Ch. 19: Poets
Ch. 20: The Sun
Ch. 21: Sun Anecdotes
Ch. 22: Paris in 1814
Ch. 23: Paris in 1814
Ch. 24: Byron
Vol. I. Appendices
Scott Anecdote
Burns Anecdote
Life of Thomson
John Stuart Jerdan
Scottish Lawyers
Sleepless Woman
Canning Anecdote
Southey in The Sun
‣ Hood’s Lamia
Murder of Perceval
Vol. II. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Literary
Ch. 2: Mr. Canning
Ch. 3: The Sun
Ch. 4: Amusements
Ch. 5: Misfortune
Ch. 6: Shreds & Patches
Ch. 7: A Character
Ch. 8: Varieties
Ch. 9: Ingratitude
Ch. 10: Robert Burns
Ch. 11: Canning
Ch. 12: Litigation
Ch. 13: The Sun
Ch. 14: Literary Gazette
Ch. 15: Literary Gazette
Ch. 16: John Trotter
Ch. 17: Contributors
Ch. 18: Poets
Ch 19: Peter Pindar
Ch 20: Lord Munster
Ch 21: My Writings
Vol. II. Appendices
The Satirist.
Authors and Artists.
The Treasury
Morning Chronicle
Chevalier Taylor
Foreign Journals
Vol. III. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Literary Pursuits
Ch. 2: Literary Labour
Ch. 3: Poetry
Ch. 4: Coleridge
Ch 5: Criticisms
Ch. 6: Wm Gifford
Ch. 7: W. H. Pyne
Ch. 8: Bernard Barton
Ch. 9: Insanity
Ch. 10: The R.S.L.
Ch. 11: The R.S.L.
Ch. 12: L.E.L.
Ch. 13: L.E.L.
Ch. 14: The Past
Ch. 15: Literati
Ch. 16: A. Conway
Ch. 17: Wellesleys
Ch. 18: Literary Gazette
Ch. 19: James Perry
Ch. 20: Personal Affairs
Vol. III. Appendices
Literary Poverty
Ismael Fitzadam
Mr. Tompkisson
Mrs. Hemans
A New Review
Debrett’s Peerage
Procter’s Poems
Poems by Others
Poems by Jerdan
Vol. IV. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Critical Glances
Ch. 2: Personal Notes
Ch. 3: Fresh Start
Ch. 4: Thomas Hunt
Ch. 5: On Life
Ch. 6: Periodical Press
Ch. 7: Quarterly Review
Ch. 8: My Own Life
Ch. 9: Mr. Canning
Ch. 10: Anecdotes
Ch. 11: Bulwer-Lytton
Ch. 12: G. P. R. James
Ch. 13: Finance
Ch. 14: Private Life
Ch. 15: Learned Societies
Ch. 16: British Association
Ch. 17: Literary Characters
Ch. 18: Literary List
Ch. 19: Club Law
Ch. 20: Conclusion
Vol. IV. Appendix
Gerald Griffin
W. H. Ainsworth
James Weddell
The Last Bottle
N. T. Carrington
The Literary Fund
Letter from L.E.L.
Geographical Society
Baby, a Memoir
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Apollonius, a philosopher, a sophist, tutor to Lycius.
Lycius, a young man of noble birth, pupil to Apollonius.
Gallo, and others, young wild gallants of Corinth.
Julius, brother to Lycius.
Domus, (pro tempore) butler to Lamia.
Picus, (ditto) steward to ditto.
Lamia, an Enchantress, by nature a serpent, but now under the
disguise of a beautiful woman.

The scene is in or near Corinth.

A mossy Bank with trees, on the high Road near Corinth.
Enter Lamia.
Here I’ll sit down and watch; till his dear foot
Pronounce him to my ear. That eager hope
Hath won me from the brook before I view’d
My unacquainted self.—But yet it seem’d
A most rare change,—and methinks the change
Has left the old fascination in my eyes.
Look, here’s a shadow of the shape I am—
A dainty shadow! [She sits down on the bank.
How fair the world seems now myself am fair!
These dewy daffodils! these sweet green trees!
I’ve coiled about their roots—but now I pluck
Their drooping branches with this perfect hand!
Sure those were Dryades
That with such glancing looks peep’d thro’ the green
To gaze upon my beauty. [Lycius enters and passes on without noting her.
Lycius! sweet Lycius!—what, so cruel still!
What have I done thou ne’er wilt deign a look,
But pass me like a worm?
Ha! who art thou? [Looking back.
O Goddess, (for there is no mortal tint,
252 LAMIA.  
No line about thee lower than divine)
What may that music mean, thy tuneful tongue
Hath sent in chase of me?—I slight! I scorn thee!
By all the light of day, till this kind hour
I never saw that face!—nor one as fair.
O fie, fie, fie!—what, have you never met
That face at Corinth?—turn’d too oft towards you,
Like the poor maidens that adored Apollo:—
You must have mark’d it!—
Nay, then hear me swear!
By all Olympus and its starry thrones,—
My eyes have never chanced so sweet a sight,
Not in my summer dreams!—
Enough, enough!—why then I’ve watched in vain—
Track’d all your ways, and follow’d like your shadow;
Hung you with blessings—haunted you with love—
And waited on your aspect—all in vain!—
I might as well have spent my loving looks
Like Ariadne,—on the sullen sea
And hoped for a reflection. Youth, farewell.
O not yet—not yet farewell!
Let such an unmatch’d vision still shine on,
Till I have set an impress in my heart
To cope with life’s decay!
You say but well.
I must soon hie me to my elements;
But take your pleasure at my looks till then.
You are not of this, then? [Sadly.
LAMIA. 253
Of this earth?
Why not? And of this same and pleasant isle.
My world is yours, and I would have no other.
One earth, one sea, one sky, in one horizon,
Our room is wide enough, unless you hate me.
Hate you!
Then you may wish to set the stars between us,
The dim and utter lamps of east and west.
So far you’d have me from you.
Cruel Syren!
To set your music to such killing speech.
Look if my eyes turn from you,—if my brows,
Or any hinting featnre shows dislike.
Nay, hear my lips—
If they will promise love
Or talk of it; but chide, and you will kill me!
Then, love, speak forth a promise for thyself,
And all heaven’s witnesses be by to hear thee.—
Hold, hold! I’m satisfied. You’ll love me, then?
With boundless, endless love.
Aye, give me much on’t—for you owe me much,
If you knew all.
I’ve lick’d the very dust whereon you tread—
It is not true!
254 LAMIA.  
I’ll swear it if you will. Jove heard the words,
And knows they are sadly true.
And this for me!
Aye, sweet, and more. A poor, fond wretch, I fill’d
The flowers with my tears; and lay supine
In coverts wild and rank—fens, horrid, desolate!
’Twould shock your very soul if you could see
How this poor figure once was marr’d and vilified,
How grovell’d and debased; contemn’d and hated
By my own self, because, with all its charms,
It then could hope no favour in your eyes;
And so I hid it,
With toads and newts, and hideous shiny things,
Under old ruins, in vile solitudes,
Making their haunts my own.
’Tis strange and piteous,—Why, then, you madden’d?
I was not quite myself—(not what I am)—
Yet something of the woman staid within me,
To weep she was not dead.
Is this no fable?
O most mistrustful Lycius! Hear me call
On Heaven, anew, for vouchers to these facts. [It thunders.
There! Could’st thou question that? Sweet skies I thank ye!
Now, Lycius, doubt me if you may or can;
And leave me if you will. I can but turn
The wretched creature that I was, again,
Crush’d by our equal hate. Once more, farewell.
LAMIA. 255
Farewell, but not till death. O gentlest, dearest,
Forgive my doubts. I have but paused till now
To ask, if so much bliss could be no dream.
Now I am sure——
Thus I embrace it with my whole glad heart
For ever and for ever: I could weep.
Thy tale hath shown me such a matchless love,
It makes the elder chronicles grow dim.
I always thought
I wander’d all uncared for on my way,
Betide me good or ill—nor caused more tears
Than hung upon my sword. Yet I was hung
With dews, rich pearly dews—shed from such spheres
As sprinkle them in amber. Thanks, bounteous stars.
Henceforth you shall but rain your beams upon me
To bless my brighten’d days.
O sweet! sweet! sweet!
To hear you parley thus and gaze upon you!
Lycius, dear Lycius!
But tell me, dearest, will you never—never
Think lightly of myself, nor scorn a love
Too frankly set before you! because ’twas given
Unask’d, though you should never, give again:
Because it was a gift and not a purchase—
A boon, and not a debt; not love for love,
Where one half’s due for gratitude.
Thrice gracious seems thy gift!
Oh, no! Oh, no!
I should have made you wait, and beg, and kneel,
And swear as though I could but half believe you;
I have not even stay’d to prove your patience
By crosses and feign’d slights,—giv’n you no time
256 LAMIA.  
For any bribing gifts or costly shows.
I know you will despise me.
Never, never,
So long as I have sight within these balls,
Which only now I’ve learn’d to thank the Gods for.
’Tis prettily sworn; and frankly I’ll believe you!
Now shall we on our way? I have a house
(Till now no home) within the walls of Corinth:
Will you not master it as well as me?
My home is in your heart; but where you dwell,
There is my dwelling-place. But let me bear you, sweet!
No, I can walk, if you will charm the way
With such discourse; it makes my heart so light,
I seem to have wings within; or, if I tire,
I’ll lean upon you thus.
So lean for ever! [Exeunt.

The Market-place at Corinth.
Apollonius is discovered discoursing with various young Gallants,
, Meroutius, Curio, &c.
Hush Sirs!—
You raise a tingling blush about my ears,
That drink such ribaldry and wanton jests,—
For shame!—for shame!—
You misapply good gifts the gods have granted!
LAMIA. 257
The gods have made us tongues,—brains too, I hope—
And time will bring us beards.
You sages think Minerva’s owl dwells only in such bushes.
Ha! ha!—Why we’ll have wigs upon our chins—
Long grizzled ones—and snarl about the streets,
Hugged up in pride and spleen like any mantle,
And be philosophers!
You will do wisely.
Ay,—I hope—why not?
Though age has heap’d no winter on our pates.
Is wisdom such a frail and spoiling thing
It must be packed in ice?
Or sopp’d in vinegar?
We would you were more grey—
Why would you have us grey before our time?
Oh, Life’s poor capital is too soon spent
Without discounting it. Pray do not grudge us
Our share;—a little wine,—a little love,—
A little youth!—a little, little folly,
Since wisdom has the gross. When they are past
We’ll preach with you, and call ’em vanities.
No!—leave that to your mummies. Sure your act
Will purchase you an enbalming. Let me see!—-
Here’s one hath spent his fortune on a harlot,
And,—if he kept to one it was a merit!—
The next has rid the world of so much wine,—
Why that’s a benefit. And you Sir Plume,
258 LAMIA.  
Have tum’d your Tailor to a Senator;—
You’ve made no man the worse—(for manner’s sake;
My speech exempts yourself). You’ve all done well,
If not,—your dying shall be placed to your credit.
You show us bravely—could you ever praise one?
One! and no more! why then I answer, yes,—
Or rather, no; for I could never praise him.
He’s as beyond my praise, as your complexion,—
I wish you’d take a pattern!—
Of whose back, sir?
Aye there you must begin and try to match
The very shadow of his virtuous worth,
Before you’re half a man.
Who is this model?
An ape—an Afric ape—what he and Plato
Conspire to call a Man.
Then you’re a man already; but no model,
So I must set my own example up;
To show you Virtue, Temperance, and Wisdom,
And in a youth too!—
Not in a wither’d greybeard like myself,
In whom some virtues are mere worn-out vices,
And wisdom but a due and tardy fruit.
He, like the orange, bears both fruit and flower
Upon his odorous bough—the fair and ripe!—
Why you can praise too!
As well as I dispraise:—They’re both in one
LAMIA. 259
Since you’re disparaged when I talk of graces.
For example, when I say that he I spoke of
Is no wild sin-monger—no sot—no dicer,
No blasphemer o’ th’ gods—no shameless scoffer,
No ape—no braggart—no foul libertine—
Oh no—
He hugs no witching wanton to his heart,
He keeps no vices he’s obliged to muffle;—
But pays a filial honour to grey hairs,
And guides him by that voice, Divine Philosophy.
Well, he’s a miracle!—and what’s he called?
Aye, who is he?—who is he?
His name is Lycius.
Then he’s coming yonder:—
Lord, how these island fogs delude our eyes,
I could have sworn to a girl too with him.
Aye, aye,—you know these eyes can shoot so far,
Or else the jest were but a sorry one.
Mercutius sees her too.
In faith I do, sir,—
Peace puppies—nine days hence you will see truer.
Nay, but by all the gods!—
We’ll take our oath on’t.
260 LAMIA.  
Peace, peace! (aside) I see her too—This is some mockery,
Illusion, damn’d illusion!—
What, ho! Lycius!
[Lycius (entering) wishes to pass aside. Lamia clings close to him
Hark!—who is that?—quick fold me in your mantle,
Don’t let him see my face!—
Nay fear not, sweet—
’Tis but old Apollonius—my sage guide.
Don’t speak to him—don’t stay him—let him pass!—
I have a terror of those greybeard men—
They frown on Love with such cold churlish brows
That sometimes he hath flown!—
Aye, he will chide me—
But do not you fear aught. Why how you tremble!
Pray shroud me closer. I am cold—death cold!—
[Old Apollonius comes up, followed by the Gallants.
My son what have you here?
A foolish bird that flew into my bosom:—
You would not drive him hence?
Well, let me see it,
I have some trifling skill in augury,
And can divine you from its beak and eyes
What sort of fowl it is.—
I have learn’d that, sir—
’Tis what is called—a dove—sacred to Venus:—
[The Youths laugh and pluck Apollonius by the sleeve.
LAMIA. 261
Fool! drive it out! [To Lycius.
No, not amongst these hawks here.
Let’s see it then.
Aye, aye, old Greybeard, you say well for once,
Let’s see it:—let’s see it!—
Art sure it is no snake,—to suit the fable,
You’ve nestled in your bosom?—
Lamia (under the mantle).
Lost! lost! lost!—
Hark! the dove speaks—I knew it was a parrot!—
Dear Lycius,—my own son (at least till now)
Let me forewarn you, boy!—
No, peace, I will not.
There spoke a model for you.
O Lycius, Lycius—
My eyes are shock’d, and half my age is kill’d
To see your noble self so ill accompanied!—
And, sir, my eyes are shock’d too—Fie! is this
A proper retinue—for those grey hairs?
A troop of scoffing boys!—Sirs, by your leave
I must and will pass on. [To the Gallants.
That as you can, sir—
262 LAMIA.  
Why then this arm has cleared a dozen such.
[They scuffle: in the tumult Apollonius is overturned.
Unhappy boy!—this overthrow’s your own!—
[Lycius frees himself and Lamia, and calls back.
Lift—help him—pick him up!—fools—braggarts—apes—
Step after me who dares!— [Exit with Lamia.
Whew!—here’s a model!—
How fare you, sir (to Apollonius) your head?—I fear
Your wisdom has suffered by this fall.
My heart aches more:—
O Lycius! Lycius!—
Hark! he calls his model!—
’Twas a brave pattern. We shall never match him.
Such wisdom and such virtues—in a youth too!
He keeps no muffled vices.—
No! no! not he!—
Nor hugs no naughty wantons in his arms—
But pays a filial honor to gray hairs,
And listens to thy voice — Divine Philosophy!
[They run off, laughing and mocking.
You have my leave to jest. The gods unravel
This hellish witchery that hides my scholar!
Lycius! Lycius! [Exit Apollonius.
LAMIA. 263
A rich Chamber, with Pictures and Statues.
Enter Domus unsteadily, with a flask in his hand.
Here’s a brave palace! [Looking round.
Why, when this was spread
Gold was as cheap as sunshine. How it’s stuck
All round about the walls. Your health, brave palace!
Ha! Brother Picus. Look! are you engaged too?
(Enter Picus.)
Hand us your hand: you see I’m butler here.
How came you hither?
How? Why a strange odd man—
A sort of foreign slave, I think—address’d me
I’ the market, waiting for my turn,
Like a beast of burthen, and hired me for this service.
So I was hired, too.
’Tis a glorious house!
But come, let’s kiss the lips of your bottle.
Aye, but be modest: wine is apt to blush.
’Tis famous beverage:
It makes me reel i’ the head.
I believe ye, boy.
Why, since I sipped it—(mind, I’d only sipped)—
I’ve had such glorious pictures in my brains—
264 LAMIA.  
Such rich rare dreams!
Such blooms, and rosy bowers, and tumbling fountains,
With a score of moons shining at once upon me,—
I never saw such sparkling! [Drinks
Here’s a vision!
The sky was always bright; or, if it gloom’d,
The very storms came on with scented waters,
And, if it snow’d, ’twas roses; claps of thunder
Seemed music, only louder; nay, in the end,
Died off in gentle ditties. Then, such birds!
And gold and silver chafers bobb’d about;
And when there came a little gush of wind,
The very flowers took wing and chased the butterflies!
Egad, ’tis very sweet. I prithee, dearest Domus,
Let me have one small sup!
No! hear me out.
The hills seemed made of cloud, bridges of rainbows,
The earth like trodden smoke.
Nothing at all was heavy, gross, or human:
Mountains, with climbing cities on their backs,
Shifted about like castled elephants;
You might have launch’d the houses on the sea,
And seen them swim like galleys!
The stones I pitch’d i’ the ponds would barely sink-—
I could have lifted them by tons! [Drinks.
Dear Domus, let me paint too—dear, dear, Domus.
Methought I was all air—Jove! I was fear’d,
I had not flesh enough to hold me down
From mounting up to the moon.
LAMIA. 265
At every step—
Bounce! when I only thought to stride a pace,
I bounded thirty.
Thirty! Oh, let me drink!
And that too when I’d even eat or drank
At the rate of two meals to the hour! [Drinks.
Two meals to the hour—nay Domus—let me drink,
Dear Domus let me drink—before ’tis empty!—
But then my fare was all so light and delicate,
The fruits, the cakes, the meats so dainty frail,
They would not bear a bite—no, not a munch,
But melted away like ice. Come, here’s the bottle!
Thanks, Domus—Pshaw, it’s empty!—Well, who cares—
There’s something thin and washy after all
In these poor visions. They all end in emptiness,
Like this. [Turns down the bottle.
Then fill again, boy—fill again!
And be ——. I say, look there!—
It is our Lady!
[Lamia enters leaning upon Lycius.
Our Lady’s very welcome: (bowing) yours, my lady—
Sir, your poor butler: (to Lycius) Picus,—man,—speak up,
The very same that swam so in my dreams;
I had forgot the Goddess!—
Peace, rude knave!
You’ve tasted what belonged to nobler brains,
266 LAMIA.  
And maddened!—My sweet love (to Lycius) ’twas kept for you,
’Tis nature’s choicest vintage.
(to Domus) Drink no more, sir!
Except what I’ll provide you.
O sweet Lady!
Lord, and I had a cup I’d thank you in it!—
But you’ve been drunk,—sweet lady—you’ve been drunk!
Here’s Master Picus knows—for we drunk you.—
Not I, in faith.
Ha! ha! my gentle love,
Methinks your butler should have been your steward.
Why you are merry, Sir—
And well you may. Look here’s a house we’ve come to!
O Jupiter!
Look here are pictures, Sir, and here’s our statues!—
That’s Bacchus! [Pointing.
And there’s Apollo,—just aiming at the serpent.
Peace, fool—my dearest Lycius,
Pray send him forth.
Sirrah, take him off! [To steward.
Fie, Domus—know your place.
My place, slave!
What, don’t I know my place? [Falls on his back.
Ain’t I the butler?
No more—no more—there—pull him out by the heels—
[Domus is dragged out.
LAMIA. 267
(To Lamia.) My most dear love—how fares it with you now?
Your cheek is somewhat pale.
Indeed, I’m weary,
We’ll not stay here—I have some cheer provided
In a more quiet chamber. [Exeunt.

A Street in Corinth; on one side a very noble building, which is
the residence of
Lamia. Mercutius, with the other Gallants,
come and discourse in front of the house
So, here they’re lodged!
In faith a pretty nest!
The first that led us hither for revenge—
O brave Mercutius!
Now my humour’s different,
For whilst there’s any stone left in the market-place
That hurt these bones, when that pert chick o’erset us
I’d never let him sleep!—
Nor I, by Nemesis!
I’d pine him to a ghost for want of rest.
To the utter verge of death.
And then you’d beat him.
Is that your noble mind!
Lo! here’s a turncoat!
D’ye hear him, gentles!—he’s come here to fool us!
268 LAMIA.  
Nor I; but that I’m turned, I will confess it;—
For as we came—in thinking over this—
Of Lycius, and the lady whom I glanced
Crouching within his mantle—
Her most distressful look came so across me—
Her death-white cheeks—
That I for one, can find no heart to fret her.
Shall Lycius then go free?
Aye for her sake:—
But do your pleasure;—it is none of mine.
Why, a false traitor!— [Exit
Sirs, I can expound him;
He’s smit—he’s passion-smit—I heard him talk
Of her strange witching eyes—such rare ones,
That they turn’d him cold as stone.
Why let him go then—but we’ll to our own.
Aye let’s be plotting
How we can vent our spites on this Sir Lycius—
I own it stirs my spleen, more than my bruises
To see him fare so well—hang him!—a model!—
One that was perk’d too, underneath our noses,
For virtue and for temperance.
I have a scheme will grieve ’em without end:
I plann’d it by the way.
You know this fellow, Lycius, has a father
Some fifteen leagues away. We’ll send him thither
By some most urgent message.
LAMIA. 269
Bravely plotted:
His father shall be dying. Ah! ’tis excellent.
I long to attempt the lady;— nay, we’ll set
Mercutius, too, upon her! Pray, let’s to it.
Look! here’s old Ban-dog. [Apollonius appears in the distance.
Nay, but I will act
Some mischief ere I go. There’s for thee, Lycius!
[He casts a stone through the window and they run off.
Enter Apollonius.
Go to, ye silly fools!—Lo! here’s a palace!
I have grown gray in Corinth, but my eyes
Never remember it. Who is the master?
Some one is coming forth. Lycius again!
[Lycius comes out disordered, with his face flushed, and reels up to Apollonius.
Why, how now, Graybeard? What! are these your frolics,
To sound such rude alarum in our ears ?
Go to!
Son, do you know me?
Know you? Why?
Or how? You have no likeness in our skies!
Gray hairs and such sour looks! You’d be a wonder!
We have nothing but bright faces. Hebes, Venuses,—
No age, no frowns!
No wrinkle, but our laughter shakes in wine.
I wish you’d learn to drink.
O Lycius! Lycius!
Would you had never learned to drink, except those springs
270 LAMIA.  
We supp’d together! These are mortal draughts,—
Your cup is drugg’d with death!
Grave sir, you lie!
I’m a young God. Look! do you not behold
The new wings on my shoulders? You may die—
That moss upon your chin proclaims you’re mortal—
And feel decays of age. But I’m renewable
At every draught I take! Here, Domus! Domus!
Enter Domus.
Bring a full cup of nectar for this churl. [Exit Domus.
’Twill give you back your youth, sir,—aye, like magic,—
And lift you o’er the clouds. You’ll dream of nothing
That’s meaner than Olympus. Smiling Goddesses
Will haunt you in your sleep. You’ll walk on flowers,
And never crush their heads.
Enter Domus with wine.
Peace, madman, peace!
None of your draughts for me—your magic potions,
That stuff your brains with such pernicious cheats!
I say, bear off the bowl! [To Domus.
What!—will he not?—
Then cast it over him,—’twill do us well—
He shall be a demi-god against his will.
Cast it I say!— [To Domus.
’Tis such a sinful waste!
Why, there then,—there [He throes it over Apollonius.
Look how it falls to the ground!—
Lord you might soak him in it year by year,
And never plump him up to a comely youth
Like you or me, sir!—
LAMIA. 271
Let him go. Farewell!—
Look, foolish Greybeard,—I am going back
To what your wisdom scorn’d.—A minute hence
My soul is in Elysium!— [Exit with Domus.
Why, I was sprinkled,—yet I feel no wet,—
’Tis strange!—this is some magic, against which
Philosophy is proof.—I must untangle it.
Hold!— [He stands in meditation,
I have it faintly dawning in my brain.
’Tis somewhere in my books (which I’ll refer to)—
Speaking of Nature’s monstrous prodigies,
That there be witching snakes—Circean births—
Who by foul spells, and forgeries, can take
The mask and shape of woman—fair externe,
But viperous within.—And so they creep
Into young hearts,—and falsify the brain
With juggling mockeries. Alas, poor boy—
If this should be thy case!—These are sad tales
To send unto thy father.
[Mercutius enters without perceiving Apollonius:
going up to Lamia’s house he recollects himself.
Here again!
What folly led me hither?—I thought I was
Proceeding homeward.—Why I’ve walked a circle
And end where I began!—[Apollonius goes up and calls in his ear.
I’ll tell you, dreamer,
It’s magic, it’s vile magic brought you hither
And made you walk in a fog.—
There, think of that,—be wise, and save yourself!
I’ve better men to care for! [Exit Apollonius.
272 LAMIA.  
What did he say?
The words were drown’d in my ear by something sweeter.
[A strain of wild music within the house.
Music! rare music!—It must be her voice;
I ne’er heard one so thrilling!—Is it safe
To listen to a song so syren-sweet—so exquisite?—
That I might hold my breath entranced and die
Of ardent listening?—she is a miracle!
Enter Domus.
Look, here’s a sot will tell me all he knows.
One of her servants—
Is that your lady’s voice? (to Domus) her pipe’s a rare one.
Ay, marry. If you heard it sound within
Till it makes the glasses chime, and all the bottles,
You’d think yourself in heaven.
I wish she’d sing again!
And if you saw her eyes, how you would marvel!
I have seen my master watch them and fall back
Like a madman in his fits. I’m rather dizzy,
And drunken-like myself—The vile quandaries,
Her beauty brings one into— [Staggers about.
Ay, I’m crazed. But you should see our Picus,—
Lord, how he stands agape, ’till he drops his salver,
And then goes down on his knees.
And so should I,
Had I been born to serve her! [Sighs.
Why you shall, boy;
And have a leather jerkin—marry, shall you?
LAMIA. 273
We need a helper sadly. I’m o’er-burthen’d;
(You see how I am burthen’d) but I’ll teach you
What manners you may want.
Well, I’m for you—
(I will dislike no place that brings me near her)
Mind you have listed me—
And I can promise
You’ll not dislike your fare—’tis excellent, light
As well as savoury, and will not stuff you;
But when you’ve eat your stretch to the outer button,
In half an hour you’ll hunger. It is all feasting,
With barely a tythe of fasting.—Then such drinking!
There’s such a cellar!
One hundred paces long, (for I have paced it)
By about two hundred narrow—Come along boy. [Exeunt.

A Chamber in Lamia’s House. Lamia and Lycius are
discovered sitting on a couch
Nay, sweet-lipp’d Silence,
’Tis now your turn to talk. I’ll not be cheated
Of any of my pleasures,—which I shall be,
Unless I sometimes listen.
Pray talk on,
A little further on. You have not told me
What country bore you, that my heart may set
Its name in a partial place.—Nay, your own name—
Which ought to be my better word for beauty—
I know not.
274 LAMIA.  
Wherefore should I talk of such things
I care not to remember? A lover’s memory
Looks back no further than when love began,
As if the dawn o’ the world.
As for my birth—suppose I like to think
That we were dropped from two strange several stars
(Being thus meant for one), why should you wish
A prettier theory, or ask my name,
As if I did not answer, heart and eyes,
To those you call me by? In sooth I will not
Provide you with a worse.
Then I must find it. Now I’m but puzzled
To compound sweet superlatives enough
In all the world of words. [Domus enters boisterously with a letter.
An express! an express!
Faith, I’ve express’d it.—I did not even wait (aside)
To pry between the folds.
[Lycius takes the letter and reads in great agitation. Lamia watches him.
Alas! what news is this? Lycius! dear Lycius!
Why do you clutch your brow so? What has chanced
To stab you with such grief? Speak! speak!
My father!
Dying—dying—if not dead by this.
I must leave you instantly.
Alas! I thought
This fair-eyed day would never see you from me!
But must you go, indeed?
LAMIA. 275
I must! I must!
This is some fierce and fearful malady
To fall so sudden on him. Why, I left him,
No longer since—ay, even when I met you
We had embraced that morn.
It was but yesterday!
How soon our bliss is marr’d! And must you leave me!
Oh! do not ask again with such a look,
Or I shall linger here and pledge my soul,
To everlasting shame and keen remorse!
The Fates are cruel!
Yet let me cling to thee and weep awhile:
We may not meet again. I cannot feel
You are safe but in these arms. [She embraces him.
I’m split asunder
By opposite factions of remorse and love,
But all my soul clings here.
It makes me weep.
He will not see his father. [Lycius casts himself on the couch.
Lamia (striking Domus).
Wretch! take that,
For harrowing up his griefs! Dearest!—my Lycius!
Lean not your brow upon that heartless pillow!
How he groan’d then!
Lycius, you fright me!
You turn me cold!
276 LAMIA.  
Lycius (rising up).
Oh, in that brief rest,
I’ve had a waking vision of my father!
Ev’n as he lay on his face and groan’d for me,
And shed like bitter tears!
Oh, how those groans will count in heav’n against me,—
One for pain’s cruelty, but two for mine,
That gave a sting to his anguish.
His dying breath will mount to the skies and curse me.
His anger’d ghost
Will haunt my sight, and when I’d look upon you
Step in like a blot between us.
Go, go, or you will hate me. Go and leave me!
If I now strive by words or tears to stay you
For my pleasure’s sake or pains’,
You’d say there was something brutal in my nature
Of cold and fiendish, and unlike woman;
Some taint that devilish——
Yet give me one long look before you go—
One last, long look! [She fixes her eyes on his.
O Gods, my spirit fails me,
And I have no strength to go although I would.
Perhaps he is dead already!
Ha! Why, then,
What can I? Or, if not, what can I still?
Can I keep him from his urn? or give him breath?
Or replenish him with blood?
Alas! alas!
Would I had art or skill enough to heal him!
LAMIA. 277
Ay, art and skill, indeed, do more than love
In such extremities. Stay! here, hard by,
There dwells a learn’d and most renown’d physician.
Hath wrought mere miracles.
Him I’ll engage, arm’d with our vows and prayers,
To spend his utmost study on my father,
And promptly visit him. A short farewell. [Exit. Domus follows.
Farewell—be not o’er long. It made me tremble
That he should see his father! The oldest eyes
Look through some fogs that young ones cannot fathom,
And lay bare mysteries. Ah me! how frail
Are my foundations! Dreams, mere summer dreams,
Which, if a day-beam pierce, return to nothing!
And let in sadder shows. A foot! so soon!
Why, then, my wishes hold.
Enter Domus and Picus.
He’s gone! he’s gone!
He had not snuff’d the air, outside o’ the gate,
When it blew a change in his mind. He bade me tell you,
A voice from the sky-roof, where the gods look down,
Commanded him to his father.
No more! no more!
(The skies begin, then, to dispute my charms.)
But did he ne’er turn back?
Ay, more than twice
He turn’d on his heel, and stood—then turn’d again
And tramp’d still quicker as he got from hence,
Till at last he ran like a lapwing!
This is a tale
Coin’d by the silly drunkard. You, sir, speak. [To Picus.
278 LAMIA.  
Nay, by our troths—
Then, Sirrah, do not speak.
If such vile sense be truth, I’ve had too much on’t.
Hence! fly! or I will kill you with a frown.
You’ve madden’d me!
I saw her eyes strike fire!
[Picus and Domus run out. Lamia looks round the chamber.
Alone! alone?
Then, Lamia, weep, and mend your shatter-web,
And hang your tears, like morning dew, upon it.
Look how your honey-bee has broken loose
Through all his meshes, and now wings away,
Showing the toils were frail. Ay, frail as gossamers
That stretch from rose to rose. Some adverse pow’r
Confronts me, or he could not tear them thus.
Some evil eye has pierced my mystery!
A blight is in its ken!
I feel my charms decay—my will’s revoked—
And my keen sight, once a prophetic sense,
Is blinded with a cloud—horrid and black.
Like a veil before the face of Misery!
Another Apartment in Lamia’s House. Enter Julius (Lycius’s
brother) with Domus.
Rumour has not belied the house i’ the least,—
’Tis all magnificent. I pray you, sir,
How long has your master been gone?
About two quarts, sir,
That is, as long as one would be a drinking ’em.
’Tis a very little while since he set off, sir.
LAMIA. 279
You keep a strange reckoning.
Where is your mistress? Will she see me?
Ay, marry;
That is, if you meet; for it is good broad daylight.
This fellow’s manners speak but ill for the house. (Aside.)
Go, Sirrah, to your lady, with my message:
Tell her, one Julius, Lycius’s best friend,
Desires a little converse. [Exit Domus.
Now for this miracle whose charms have bent
The straightest stem of youth strangely awry—
My brother Lycius!
He was not use to let his inclination
Thus domineer his reason: the cool, grave shade
Of Wisdom’s porch dwelt ever on his brow
And govern’d all his thoughts, keeping his passions
Severely chasten’d. Lo! she comes. How wondrously
Her feet glide o’er the ground. Aye, she is beautiful!
So beautiful, my task looks stern beside her,
And duty faints like doubt. [Lamia enters.
Oh, thou sweet fraud!
Thou fair excuse for sin, whose matchless cheek
Vies blushes with the shame it brings upon thee.
Thou delicate forgery of love and virtue,
Why art thou as thou art, not what here seems
So exquisitely promised?
Sir, do you know me?
If not,—and my near eyes declare you strange,—
Mere charity should make you think me better.
Oh, would my wishful thought could think no worse
Than I might learn by gazing.
Why are not those sweet looks—those heavenly looks,
280 LAMIA.  
True laws to judge thee by, and call thee perfect?
’Tis pity, indeed ’tis pity,
That anything so fair should be a fraud!
Sir, I beseech you, wherefore do you hang
These elegies on me? For pity’s sake
What do you take me for? No woman, sure,
By aiming thus to wound me (weeping).
Ay, call those tears
Into your ready eyes! I’d have them scald
Your cheeks until they fade, and wear your beauty
To a safe and ugly ruin. Those fatal charms
Can show no sadder wreck than they have brought
On many a noble soul, and noble mind!
Pray count me:
How many men’s havocks might forerun the fall
Of my lost brother Lycius?
Are you his brother?
Then I’ll not say a word to vex you: not a look
Shall aim at your offence. You are come to chide me,
I know, for winning him to sell his heart
At such a worthless rate. Yet I will hear you,
Patiently, thankfully, for his dear sake.
I will be as mild and humble as a worm
Beneath your just rebuke. ’Tis sure no woman
Deserved him; but myself the least of all,
Who fall so far short in his value.
She touches me! (Aside.)
Look, sir, upon my eyes. Are they not red?
Within an hour, I’ve rained a flood of tears,
To feel, to know
LAMIA. 281
I am no better than the thing I am,
Having but just now leam’d to rate my vileness.
You cannot charge
My unworthy part so bitterly as I do.
If there’s about me anything that’s honest,
Of true and womanly, it belongs to Lycius,
And all the rest is Grief’s.
Then I’ll not grieve you—
I came with frowns, but I depart in tears
And sorrow for you both; for what he was,
And what you might have been.—A pair of wonders,
The grace and pride of nature—now disgraced,
And fallen beyond redress.
You wring my heart!—
Ay, if you think how you have made him stain
The fair-blown pride of his unblemish’d youth,
His studious years—
And for what poor exchange? these fading charms—
I will not say how frail.
O hold—pray hold!
Your words have subtle cruel stings, and pierce
More deeply than you aim?—This sad heart knows
How little of such wrong and spiteful ill
Were in love’s contemplation when it clasp’d him!
Lycius and bliss made up my only thought;
But now, alas!
A sudden truth dawns on me, like a light
Thro’ the remainder tatters of a dream,
And shows my bliss in shreds.
I pity you!
Nay, doubtless you will be, some wretched day,
A perish’d cast-off weed when found no flower—
282 LAMIA.  
Or else even then, his substance being gone,
My brother’s heart will break at your desertion.
O never, never! [Fervently.
Never, by holy truth! whilst I am woman!
Be false what may, at least my heart is honest.
Look round you, sir; this wealth, such as it is,
Once mine, is now all his; and when ’tis spent,
I’ll beg for him, toil for him, steal for him!
God knows how gladly I would share his lot
This speaking moment in a humble shed
Like any of our peasants!—aye, lay these hands
To rude and rugged tasks, expose these cheeks
You are pleased to flatter, to the ardent sun;
So we might only live in safe pure love
And constant partnership—never to change
In each other’s hearts and eyes!—
You mend your fault.
This late fragmental virtue, much redeems you;
Pray cherish it, Hark! what a lawless riot.
[A loud boisterous shout is heard from below.
O hope—Again! (the noise renewed) why then this is a triumph
Of your true fame, which I had just mistaken;
Shame on thee, smooth dissembler—shame upon thee!
Is this the music of your songs of sorrow,
And well-feigned penitence—lo! here, are these
Your decent retinue—
Enter the wild Gallants, fluslied with wine.
Sir, by heaven’s verity
I do not know a face! indeed I do not;
They are strange to me as the future.
Then the future
Must serve us better, chuck. Here bully mates,
These, Lady, are my friends, and friends of Lycius!
LAMIA. 283
Is it so?—then Lycius is fallen indeed!—
Ay, he has had his trip,—as who has not, sir?
I’ll warrant you’ve had your stumbles,—
Once,—on an ape.
Get out o’ the way of my shins. [Going.
Sir, dearest sir,
In pity do not go, for your brother’s sake,
If not for mine,—take up my guardianship,
’Gainst these ungentle men. [She lays hold of Julius.
Off, wanton, off!—
Would you have me of your crew too? [Exit roughly
Let him go!—
He has a graft in him of that sour crab,
The Apollonius—Let him go, a churl!
Sweet lady, you look sad,—fie, it was ill done of Lycius,
To leave his dove so soon,—but he has some swan
At nest in another place.
I’ll bet my mare on’t.
Kind Sirs,—indeed I’m sorry
Your friend’s not here. If he were by,
He would help you to your welcome.
We’ve no doubt on’t; [Bitterly,
But we’ll not grieve, since here we are quite enough
For any merriment.
284 LAMIA.  
And as for a welcome,
We’ll acknowledge it on your cheer,—
Then that’s but sorry, sir,
If you mean what lies in my heart.
No, no, in faith,
We mean what lies in your cellar,—wine, rare wine,
We will pledge you in floods on’t, and when knock’d off our legs,
Adore you on our knees.
Hear me, sweet gentles,
How you shall win my favour. Set to work and copy—
Be each a Lycius.
Lycius, forsooth! hang him!
A model again! the perfect model.
As if we could not match his vices!
Pray ask your Lycius, when he’s new come back,
(If ever he come back)
What his father ail’d,—or if he ail’d at all,
And how it ail’d too, that his brother Julius
Got no such forged advice.
It had charm’d your heart to see how swift he ran,
(Whether to get from hence or gain elsewhere,
I know not) but I never saw such striving,
Save at the Olympic games to win the goal.
Ha! ha! ha!
Laugh on, I pray laugh on. Ye puny spites!
You think to fret me with these ill coin’d tales;
LAMIA. 285
But look, I join in your glee, [She attempts to laugh.
Or if I cannot, ’tis because I’m choked with a curse.
[She hurries out.
It works! it wings her! What shall we next?
Follow her, or carry her off.
These are too violent,
And perilous to ourselves; but I will fit
Our revenge to its other half. Sir Lycius now
Must have the green eye set in his head, and then
They’ll worry each other’s hearts without our help.
Julius or Apollonius will be our ready organs
To draw his ear.
’Tis plausible, and cannot fail to part ’em,
And when he has shaken her from off his bough
It needs she must fall to us.
I wonder where
That poor sick fool Mercutius is gone?
He hath a chance now.
Methought I glanced him
Below, and forsooth, disguised as a serving-man;
But he avoided me.
The subtle fox!
Let us go beat him up. [Exeunt hallooing.

The Street before Lamia’s House. Enter Apollonius with Julius.
I say she is a snake—
And so say I;
286 LAMIA.  
But not in the same sense—
No, not exactly.
You take that literal, which I interpret
But as a parable—a figure feign’d
By the elder sages, (much inclined to mark
Their subtle meanings in dark allegories)
For those poisonous natures—those bewitching sins
That arm’d and guarded with a woman’s husk,
But viperous within, seduce young hearts,
And sting where they are cherish’d.
Your guess is shrewd;
Nay, excellent enough to have been my own.
But, hark you, I have read in elder oracles
Than ever you will quote, the fact which backs me.
In Greece, in the midst of Greece, it hath been known,
And attested upon oath, i’ the faith of multitudes,
That such true snakes have been—real hissing serpents,
Though outwardly like women.
With one of such, a youth,—a hopeful youth,
Sober, discreet, and able to subdue
His passions otherwise,—even like our Lycius,—
For a fortnight lived, in a luxury of wealth,
Till suddenly she vanish’d, palace and all,
Like the shadow of a cloud.
The dainty fable!
But now unto the proof. Methinks this sounds
Like a real door (knocking); a cloud scarce wars so,
But when Jove strikes it with a thunderbolt.
I’ll tell you, sir,
She is a wanton, and that’s quite enough
To perish a world of wealth. [Picus comes to the door.
Ho, sirrah! fellow!
Is your lady now within?
LAMIA. 287
No, sir, she’s out.
Something hath put her out—she will see nobody.
She’s ill, she’s grievous bad—her head won’t bear
The rout of company. [A loud shout within.
Why, then, I think
The medical conclave might observe more quiet.
Look, knave! are these her grave, her learn’d physicians?
Well met, Sirs. [Another shout, and Curio, &c., issue forth.
That’s as may be. Ha! old mastiff!
Go to your kennel.
You are just in time, sirs,
To settle our dispute: we have a gage on’t,
The sophist here and I.
There is one lives in that house—(pointing to Lamia’s)—how
would you call her?
A woman?
Ay; and sure a rare one,
As I have proved upon her lips.
[Lamia opens a window gently and listens.
Ay, marry, have we!
She was kind enough, for our poor sakes, to send
One Lycius, her late suitor, on an errand
That will make him footsore.
Yes, a sort of summons,
Cunningly forged to bid him haste to his father,
Who lay in the jaws of death. Lord, how he’ll swear
To find the old cock quite well!
This is too true. [To Apollonius.
I left our father but this very morn
288 LAMIA.  
The halest of old men. He was then on his way
Towards this city, on some state affair.
They’ll encounter upon the road!
Here is some foul and double damn’d deception.
[Lamia, by signs, assents to this reflection.
I’ll catechise myself. Here, sir—you—you, [To Curio.
Who have gazed upon this witch, touch’d her, and talk’d with her,
How know you she is woman, flesh and blood,
True clay and mortal lymph, and not a mockery
Made up of infernal elements of magic!
Can’st swear she is no cloud,—no subtle ether,—
No fog, bepainted with deluding dyes,—
No cheating underplot,—no covert shape,
Making a filthy masquerade of nature.
I say, how know ye this?
How? by my senses.
If I nipp’d her cheek, till it brought the white and red,
I wot she is no fog.
Fie on the senses!
What are the senses but our worst arch-traitors?
What is a madman but a king betray’d
By the corrupted treason of his senses?
His robe a blanket, and his sceptre a straw,
His crown his bristled hair.
Fie on the shallow senses! What doth swear
Such perjuries as the senses?—what give birth
To such false rumours, and base verdicts render
In the very spite of truth? Go to: thy senses
Are bond slaves, both to madness and to magic,
And all the mind’s disease. I say the senses
Deceive thee, though they say a stone’s a stone.
And thou wilt swear by them an oath, forsooth,
And say the outer woman is utter woman,
LAMIA. 289
And not a whit a snake? Hark! there’s my answer.
[Lamia closes the window violently
That noise shall be my comment.
He talks in riddles,
Like a sphinx lapp’d in a blanket. Gentles—Curio—
Let us leave him to his wisdom.
Aye, I’ll promise
’Twill dive far deeper than your feather wits
Into some mysteries. [Going towards the door.
There’s one I know in her house,
By name Mercutius, a most savage fellow:
I commend ye to his wrath. [Exeunt Curio, Gallo, &c.
So, get ye gone,
Ye unregarded whelps.
But will you in
Whether she will or no?
Indeed I mean it.
Sirrah (to Picus), lead on. I’ll charge you with your message.

A Chamber in Lamia’s House. Enter Mercutius in a distracted
Where is this haunting witch?—not here! not here!—
Why then for a little rest and unlook’d calm,
Aye, such a calm,
290 LAMIA.  
As the shipmate curses on the stagnate sea
Under the torrid zone, that bakes his deck
Till it burns the sole of his foot. My purpose idles,
But my passions burn without pause; O how this hot
And scarlet plague runs boiling through my veins
Like a molten lava! I’m all parch’d up.
There’s not a shady nook throughout my brain
For a quiet thought to lie—no, not a spring
Of coolness left in my heart.—If I have any name,
It is Fever, who is all made up of fire,
Of pangs—deliriums—raving ecstacies,—
And desperate impulse—ha! a foot!—I know it!—
Now then, I’ll ambush here, and come upon her
Like a wild boar from a thicket.
[He hides himself behind an arras, Lamia enters holding her forehead betwixt her palms.
This should be a real head—or ’twould not throb so—
Who ever doubts it!
I would he had these racking pains within;
Ay—and those he hath set in my heart, to drive him mad.
How now, sir!
Enter Picus.
There are two below, beseech you
For a conference. The one’s a wrinkled greybeard,
The other—
You need not name. I will see neither;
And tell them—look,—with a copy of this frown,
If they congregate again beneath my eaves,
I have that will hush their twitting. [Exit Picus.
Why must I reap
These unearn’d spites where I have sown no hate?
Do the jealous gods
Stir up these canker’d spirits to pursue me?
Another! (Mercutius comes forward) What brings thee hither?
LAMIA. 291
Mercutius (gloomily).
I do not know,—
If love, or hate—indeed I do not know,—
Or whether a twine of both,—they’re so entangled.
Mayhap to clasp thee to my heart, and kiss thee,—
To fondle thee,—or tear thee,—I do not know!
Whether I come to die, or work thy death,
Whether to be thy tyrant, or thy slave,
In truth, I do not know.
But that some potent yearning draws me to thee,
Something, as if those lips were rich and tempting,
And worthy of caressing,—fondly endear’d—
And something as if a tortured devil within me
Sought revenges of his pangs:—I cannot answer
Which of these brings me hither.
Then prythee hence,
Till that be analysed.
Ha! ha! turn back:
Why if I am the tiger—here’s my prey—
Or if the milk-mild dove—here is my choice—
Do you think I shall turn back howe’er it be?—
Let the embrace prove which. Nay, do not shrink,—
If an utter devil press into thy arms,
Thyself invoked him!—
Ah! I know by this
Your bent is evil!
Then ’twas evil born!—
As it works ’twas wrought on—look—say what I am,
For I have no recognisance of myself.
Am I wild beast or man—civil or savage—
Reasoning or brutal—or gone utter mad,—
So am I as thou turn’d me,—hellish or heavenly,
The slavish subject of thy influence,—
292 LAMIA.  
I know not what I am,—nor how I am,
But by thy own enforcement—come to force thee,
Being passion-mad.
How have I wrought hither?
I would thou wert away!
Why dost thou sit then
I’ the middle of a whirlpool drawing me unto thee;
My brain is dizzy and my heart is sick,
With the circles I have made round thee and round thee!
Till I dash into thy arms!—
There shalt thou never!
Go! desperate man;—away!—and fear thy Gods,
Or else the hot indignation in my eyes
Will blast thee. O, beware! I have within me
A dangerous nature, which if thou provoke,
Acts cruelly. Ne’er chafe me; thou had’st better
Ruffle a scorpion than the thing I am!—
Or I’ll bind thy bones till they crack!—
Ha! ha! dost threaten?
Why then come ruin, anguishes, or death,—
Being goaded onward by my headlong fate
I’ll clasp thee!—
Though there be sugar’d venom on thy lips
I’ll drink it to the dregs—though there be plagues
In thy contagious touch—or in thy breath
Putrid infections—though thou be more cruel
Than lean-ribb’d tigers—thirsty and open-fang’d,
I will be as fierce a monster for thy sake,
And grapple thee.
Would Lycius were here!
LAMIA. 293
Ha! would’st thou have him gash’d and torn in strips
As I would scatter him? then so say I
“Would Lycius were here!” I have oft clench’d
My teeth in that very spite.
Thou ruthless devil!
To hear him so bloody a will!—Why then, come hither,
We are a fit pair.
[Mercutius embracing her, she stabs him in the back with a small dagger
Mercutius (falling).
O thou false witch!
Thou hast prick’d me to the heart! Ha! what a film
Falls from my eyes!—or have the righteous Gods
Transform’d me a beast for this! Thou crawling spite,
Thou hideous—venemous— [Dies.
Let the word choke thee!
I know what I am. Thou wilful desperate fool
To charge upon the spikes!—thy death be upon thee!—
Why would’st thou have me sting? Heaven knows I had spared
But for thy menace of a dearer life.
O! Lycius! Lycius!
I have been both woman and serpent for thy sake—
Perchance to be scorn’d in each:—I have but gored
This ill-starr’d man in vain!—hush, methought he stirr’d;
I’ll give him another thrust (stabs the body); there—lie thou quiet.
What a frown he hath upon his face!
May the Gods ne’er mention it
In their thunders, nor set the red stain of his blood
For a sign of wrath in the sky I—O thou poor wretch!
Not thee dull clod!—but for myself I weep—
The sport of such malicious destinies!
Why was I heiress of these mortal gifts
Perishing all whether I love or hate?
294 LAMIA.  
Nay, come out of sight [To the body.
With thy dismal puckering look,—’twill fright the world
Out of its happiness. [She drags the body aside, and covers it with drapery.
Would I could throw
A thicker curtain on thee—but I see thee
All through and through, as though I had
The eyes of a God within; alas, I fear
I am here all human, and have that fierce thing
They call a conscience! [Exit.