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The Fatal Falsehood   By: (1745-1833)

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First Page:

THE FATAL FALSEHOOD: A TRAGEDY. IN FIVE ACTS.

AS IT WAS ACTED AT THE THEATRE ROYAL, COVENT GARDEN.

Drawn from:

THE WORKS OF HANNAH MORE.

VOL. II.

LONDON PRINTED FOR T. CADELL, STRAND 1830.

TO THE COUNTESS BATHURST,

THIS TRAGEDY IS VERY RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED, AS A SMALL TRIBUTE TO HER MANY VIRTUES, AND AS A GRATEFUL TESTIMONY OF THE FRIENDSHIP WITH WHICH SHE HONOURS HER MOST OBEDIENT AND MOST OBLIGED HUMBLE SERVANT,

THE AUTHOR.

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

Earl GUILDFORD, Mr. Clarke. RIVERS, his Son, Mr. Lewis. ORLANDO, a young Italian Count, Mr. Wroughton. BERTRAND, Mr. Aickin.

EMMELINA, Miss Younge. JULIA, Mrs. Hartley.

SCENE Earl Guildford's Castle.

PROLOGUE.

WRITTEN BY THE AUTHOR OF THE TRAGEDY.

SPOKEN BY MR. HULL.

Our modern poets now can scarcely choose A subject worthy of the Tragic Muse; For bards so well have glean'd th' historic field, That scarce one sheaf th' exhausted ancients yield; Or if, perchance, they from the golden crop Some grains, with hand penurious, rarely drop; Our author these consigns to manly toil, For classic themes demand a classic soil, A vagrant she, the desert waste who chose, Where Truth and History no restraints impose. To her the wilds of fiction open lie, A flow'ry prospect, and a boundless sky; Yet hard the task to keep the onward way, Where the wide scenery lures the foot to stray; Where no severer limits check the Muse, Than lawless fancy is dispos'd to choose. Nor does she emulate the loftier strains Which high heroic Tragedy maintains: Nor conquests she, nor wars, nor triumphs sings, Nor with rash hand o'erturns the thrones of kings. No ruin'd empires greet to night your eyes, No nations at our bidding fall or rise; To statesmen deep, to politicians grave, These themes congenial to their tastes we leave. Of crowns and camps, a kingdom's weal or woe, How few can judge, because how few can know! But here you all may boast the censor's art; Here all are critics who possess a heart. Of the mix'd passions we display to night, Each hearer judges like the Stagyrite. The scenes of private life our author shows, A simple story of domestic woes; Nor unimportant is the glass we hold, To show th' effect of passions uncontroll'd; To govern empires is the lot of few, But all who live have passions to subdue. Self conquest is the lesson books should preach, Self conquest is the theme the Stage should teach. Vouchsafe to learn this obvious duty here, The verse though feeble, yet the moral's clear. O mark to night the unexampled woes Which from unbounded self indulgence flows. Your candour once endur'd our author's lays, Endure them now it will be ample praise.

THE FATAL FALSEHOOD.

ACT I.

SCENE An Apartment in Guildford Castle.

Enter BERTRAND.

Ber. What fools are serious melancholy villains! I play a surer game, and screen my heart With easy looks and undesigning smiles; And while my plots still spring from sober thought, My deeds appear th' effect of wild caprice, And I the thoughtless slave of giddy chance. What but this frankness could have won the promise Of young Orlando, to confide to me That secret grief which preys upon his heart? 'Tis shallow, indiscreet hypocrisy To seem too good: I am the careless Bertrand, The honest, undesigning, plain, blunt man. The follies I avow cloak those I hide; For who will search where nothing seems conceal'd? 'Tis rogues of solid, prudent, grave demeanour Excite suspicion; men on whose dark brow Discretion, with his iron hand, has grav'd The deep mark'd characters of thoughtfulness. Here comes my uncle, venerable Guildford, Whom I could honour, were he not the sire Of that aspiring boy, who fills the gap 'Twixt me and fortune: Rivers, how I hate thee!

Enter GUILDFORD.

How fares my noble uncle?

Guild... Continue reading book >>




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