THE WORKS OF APHRA BEHN - VOL. II
THE WORKS OF APHRA BEHN - VOL. II
ABDELAZER; OR THE MOOR'S REVENGE
THE YOUNG KING; OR THE MISTAKE
THE CITY HEIRESS; OR SIR TIMOTHY TREAT-ALL
THE FEIGN'D CURTEZANS; OR A NIGHT'S INTRIGUE
ABDELAZER; OR THE MOOR'S REVENGE.
The old King of Spain having conquered Fez and killed the Moorish
monarch has taken the orphaned prince Abdelazer under his protection and
in time made him General. Abdelazer though always courageous has the
desire of revenge ever uppermost and to gain influence rather than from
any love he becomes the Queen's paramour. She being a lustful and
wicked woman joins with the Moor in poisoning her husband at whose
death Philip her second son newly returned victor from a martial
expedition leaving his army at some distance rushes in mad with rage
and publicly accuses his mother of adultery with Abdelazer. She is
greatly incensed but Cardinal Mendozo as Protector of the King
promptly banishes her gallant. The young King Ferdinand however to
please Florella the Moor's wife whom he loves revokes this decree.
Abdelazer in revenge next orders his native officer Osmin to kill
Philip and the Cardinal. They escape by night disguised as monks whilst
Abdelazer alarms the castle with cries of treason and tells the King that
Philip and the Cardinal are plotting to murder him. Ferdinand orders
Abdelazer to follow them intending to visit Florella during her
husband's absence. Abdelazer fully aware of his plan out of pride
and mischief furnishes Florella with a dagger bidding her stab the
King if he persists in his suit. Elvira the Queen Mother's confidante
Watches the King enter Florella's apartment and conveys the news to her
Mistress who with dissembled reluctance informs Alonzo the Moor's
brother-in-law. Florella resists the King's solicitations and produces
the dagger threatening to stab herself. At this juncture the Queen rushes
in and feigning to think that Florella was about to attempt the King's
life kills her. Her motive for this deed is in reality jealousy.
Whilst the King falls weeping at his dead mistress' feet Abdelazer enters
and in the ensuing fight Ferdinand is slain. Philip is then proclaimed
King but Abdelazer announcing he is a bastard an avowal backed by the
Queen declares himself Protector of Spain Overpowered by his following
The lords accept him. Alonzo however flies to Philip's camp with the
tidings. A battle between the two parties follows but the Queen
treacherously detaches Mendozo who loves her from Philip and although
the Moors are at first beaten back they now gain the advantage and Philip
is captured. At a general assembly of the nobles the Queen relates the
false tale of Philip's illegitimacy and asserts that the Cardinal is his
father. She privately bids Mendozo acknowledge this and so gain the
crown but he refuses to support the lie and is promptly arrested as a
traitor. Abdelazer now brings forward the Infanta Leonora and proclaims
her Queen of Spain He next disposes of the Queen Mother by bidding
Roderigo a creature of his own assassinate her forthwith. Roderigo
gains admittance disguised as a friar and stabs her upon which
Abdelazer to screen himself rushes in and cuts him down. He next openly
declares his love for Leonora and is about to force her when Osmin his
officer enters to inform him that Alonzo to whom Leonora is affianced
has resisted arrest but is at last secured. Abdelazer enraged at the
interruption wounds Osmin in the arm. Leonora pities the blow; and the
Moorish soldier deeply hurt at the insult resolves to betray his
master. He accordingly goes to the prison where Philip the Cardinal and
Alonzo are confined and killing his fellow Zarrack who was to have been
their executioner sets them free. When Abdelazer enters he finds himself
entrapped. He glories however in his crimes and as they set on him
kills Osmin himself falling dead in the melee. The Cardinal is forgiven
Leonora and Alonzo are united whilst Philip ascends the throne.
_Abdelazer; or the Moor's Revenge_ is an alteration of the robustious
_Lust's Dominion; or the _Lascivious Queen_ printed 12mo 1657 and then
attributed to Marlowe who was certainly not the author. It is now
generally identified with _The Spanish Moor's Tragedy_ by Dekker
(Haughton and Day 1600) although as Fleay justly says there is 'an
under-current of pre-Shakespearean work' unlike either Dekker or Day.
There are marked crudities of form and a rough conduct of plot which
stamp it as of very early origin. Probably it was emended and pruned by
the three collaborators.
Although often keeping close to her original Mrs. Behn has dealt with
the somewhat rude material in a very apt and masterly way: she has to
advantage omitted the old King Emanuel King of Portugal Alvero
father to Maria (Florella) and the two farcical friars Crab and Cole;
she adds Elvira and whereas in _Lust's Dominion_ the Queen at the
conclusion is left alive declaiming:--
'I'll fly unto some solitary residence
When I'll spin out the remnant of my life
In true contrition for my past offences.'--
Mrs. Behn far more dramatically kills her Isabella. Perhaps the famous
assassination of Henri III of France by the Dominican Jacques Clement
gave a hint for Roderigo masqued as a monk.
The sexual passion the predominance of which in this tragedy a recent
critic has not a little carpingly condemned is entirely natural in such
an untamed savage as Abdelazer whilst history affords many a parallel to
the lascivious Queen.
_Abdelazer; or The Moor's Revenge_ was first produced at the Duke's
Theatre in Dorset Garden during the late autumn of 1677. It was supported
by a strong cast and Betterton whose Othello Steele--writing
exquisitely in the _Tatler_--seems to have considered artistically quite
perfect was no doubt n wonderful representative of the ferocious Afric.
The effective role of Queen Isabella fell to Mrs. Mary Lee the first
tragedienne of the day Mrs. Marshall the leading lady of the King's
Company having at this time just retired from the stage. [Footnote: Her
last role was Berenice in Crowne's heroic tragedy _The Destruction of
Jerusalem_ (1677).] It is interesting to notice that Mrs. Barry on her
way to fame played the secondary part of Leonora.
_Abdelazer_ seems to have met with good success and on Easter Monday
April 1695 the patentees after the secession of Betterton Mrs. Barry
Mrs. Bracegirdle and their following to Lincoln's Inn Fields chose the
tragedy to reopen Drury Lane. The Moor was played by George Powell a
vigorous and passionate actor who also spoke a new prologue written for
the nonce by Cibber then a mere struggler in the ranks. Colley's verses
were accepted at the eleventh hour in default of better and he tells us
how chagrined he was not to be allowed to deliver them in person. The
house was very full the first day but on the morrow it was empty
probably owing to the inexperience of many of the actors and a too hasty
rehearsing of the play.
On the stage _Abdelazer_ was superseded by Edward Young's _The Revenge_
a tragedy largely borrowed in theme and design from Mrs. Behn with
reminiscences of _Othello_. Produced at Drury Lane 18 April 1721 with
Mills Booth Wilks Mrs. Porter and Mrs. Horton in the cast it attained
considerable success and Zanga the Moor was long a favourite part with
our greatest actors even down to the days of Kean who excelled in it
and Macready. _The Revenge_ is not without merit and it stands out well
before the lean and arid tragedies of its time but this unfortunately
is not much to say. It is not for a moment to be compared with the
magnificent tapestry of _Abdelazer_ woven though the latter may be in
colours strong and daring.
ABDELAZER; or The Moor's Revenge.
_Gallants you have so long been absent hence
That you have almost cool'd your Diligence;
For while we study or revive a Play
You like good Husbands in the Country stay
There frugally wear out your Summer Suit
And in Prize Jerkin after Beagles toot;
Or in Montero-Caps at Feldfares shoot.
Nay some are so obdurate in their Sin
That they swear never to come up again
But all their Charge of Clothes and Treat retrench
To Gloves and Stockings for some Country Wench:
Even they who in the Summer had Mishaps
Send up to Town for Physick for their Claps.
The Ladies too are as resolved as they
And having Debts unknown to them they stay
And with the Gain of Cheese and Poultry pay.
Even in their Visits they from Banquets fall
To entertain with Nuts and Bottle-Ale;
And in Discourse with Secresy report
State-News that past a Twelve-month since at Court.
Those of them who are most refind and gay
Now learn the Songs of the last Summer's Play:
While the young Daughter does in private mourn
Her Lovers in Town and hopes not to return.
These Country Grievances too great appear:
But cruel Ladies we have greater here;
You come not sharp as you are wont to Plays;
But only on the first and second Days:
This made our Poet in her Visits look
What new strange Courses for your time you took
And to her great Regret she found too soon
Damn'd Beasts and Ombre spent the Afternoon;
So that we cannot hope to see you here
Before the little Net-work Purse be clear.
Suppose you should have Luck--
Yet sitting up so late as I am told
You'll lose in Beauty what you win in Gold:
And what each Lady of another says
Will make you new Lampoons and us new Plays.
_Ferdinand_ a young King of Spain in love with
_Florella_. Mr. _Harris_.
_Philip_ his Brother. Mr. _Smith_.
_Akdelazer_ the Moor. Mr. _Betterton_.
_Mendozo_ Prince Cardinal in love with the Queen. Mr. _Medburn_.
_Alonzo_ a young Nobleman of _Spain_ contracted to
_Leonora_. Mr. _Crasbie_.
_Roderigo_ a Creature to the Moor Mr. _Norris_.
_Sebastian_ Two Officers of _Phillip's_. | Mr. _John Lee_.
_Osmin_ | Mr. _Percivall_.
_Zarrack_ Moors and Officers to _Abdelazer_. | Mr. _Richards_.
_Ordonio_ a Courtier.
A Swain and Shepherds.
Courtiers Officers Guards Soldiers Moors Pages and Attendants.
_Isabella_ Queen of _Spain_ Mother to _Ferdinand_
and _Philip_ in love with _Abdelazer_. Mrs. _Lee_.
_Leonora_ her Daughter Sister to _Ferdinand_
and _Philip_. Mrs. _Barrey_.
_Florella_ Wife to _Abdelazer_ and Sister to Mrs. _Betterton_.
_Elvira_ Woman to the Queen. Mrs. _Osborne_.
A Nymph and Shepherdesses.
Other Women Attendants.
SCENE _Spain_ and in the Camp.
SCENE I. _A rich Chamber_.
_A Table with Lights_ Abdelazer _sullenly leaning his Head
on his Hands: after a little while still Musick plays_.
_Love _in fantastick Triumph sat
Whilst bleeding Hearts around him flow'd
For whom fresh Pains he did create
And strange Tyrannick Pow'r he shewed;
From thy bright Eyes he took his Fires
Which round about in sport he hurl'd;
But 'twas from mine he took Desires
Enough t'undo the amorous World.
From me he took his Sighs and Tears
From thee his Pride and Cruelty;
From me his Languishments and Fears
And ev'ry killing Dart from thee:
Thus thou and I the God have arrri'd
And set him up a Deity;
But my poor Heart alone is harm'd
Whilst thine the Victor is and free_.
[_After which he rouzes and gazes_.
_Abd_. On me this Musick lost?--this Sound on me
That hates all Softness?--What ho my Slaves!
_Enter_ Osmin Zarrack.
_Osm_. My gracious Lord--
[_Enter_ Queen Elvira.
_Qu_. My dearest _Abdelazer_--
_Abd_. Oh are you there?--Ye Dogs how came she in?
Did I not charge you on your Lives to watch
That none disturb my Privacy?
_Qu_. My gentle _Abdelazer_ 'tis thy Queen
Who 'as laid aside the Business of her State
To wanton in the kinder Joys of Love--
Play all your sweetest Notes such as inspire
The active Soul with new and soft Desire
[_To_ the Musick they play softly.
Whilst we from Eyes--thus dying fan the Fire.
[_She sits down by him_.
_Abd_. Cease that ungrateful Noise.
_Qu_. Can ought that I command displease my Moor?
_Abd_. Away fond Woman.
_Qu_. Nay prithee be more kind.
_Abd_. Nay prithee good Queen leave me--I am dull
Unfit for Dalliance now.
_Qu_. Why dost thou frown?--to whom was that Curse sent?
_Abd_. To thee--
_Qu_. To me?--it cannot be--to me sweet Moor?--
No no it cannot--prithee smile upon me--
Smile whilst a thousand Cupids shall descend
And call thee Jove and wait upon thy Smiles
Deck thy smooth Brow with Flowers;
Whilst in my Eyes needing no other Glass
Thou shalt behold and wonder at thy Beauty.
_Abd_. Away away be gone--
_Qu_. Where hast thou learnt this Language that can say
But those rude Words--Away away be gone?
Am I grown ugly now?
_Abd_. Ugly as Hell--
_Qu_. Didst thou not love me once and swore that Heav'n
Dwelt in my Face and Eyes?
_Abd_. Thy Face and Eyes!--Baud fetch me here a Glass
And thou shalt see the Balls of both those Eyes
Burning with Fire of Lust:
That Blood that dances in thy Cheeks so hot
That have not I to cool it
Made an Extraction even of my Soul
Decay'd my Youth only to feed thy Lust?
And wou'dst thou still pursue me to my Grave?
_Qu_. All this to me my _Abdelazer_?
_Abd_. I cannot ride through the _Castilian_ Streets
But thousand Eyes throw killing Looks at me
And cry--That's he that does abuse our King--
There goes the Minion of the _Spanish_ Queen
Who on the lazy Pleasures of his Love
Spends the Revenues of the King of _Spain_--
This many-headed Beast your Lust has arm'd.
_Qu_. How dare you Sir upbraid me with my Love?
_Abd_. I will not answer thee nor hear thee speak.
_Qu_. Not hear me speak!--Yes and in Thunder too;
Since all my Passion all my soft Intreaties
Can do no good upon thee
I'll see (since thou hast banish'd all thy Love
That Love to which I've sacrific'd my Honour)
If thou hast any Sense of Gratitude
For all the mighty Graces I have done thee.
_Abd_. Do;--and in thy Story too do not leave out
How dear those mighty Graces I have purchas'd;
My blooming Youth my healthful vigorous Youth
Which Nature gave me for more noble Actions
Than to lie fawning at a Woman's Feet
And pass my Hours in Idleness and Love--
If I cou'd blush I shou'd thro all this Cloud
Send forth my Sense of Shame into my Cheeks.
Have I for this abus'd the best of Men
My noble Husband?
Depriving him of all the Joys of Love
To bring them all intirely to thy Bed;
Neglected all my Vows and sworn 'em here a-new
Here on thy Lips--
Exhausted Treasures that wou'd purchase Crowns
To buy thy Smiles--to buy a gentle Look;
And when thou didst repay me--blest the Giver?
Oh _Abdelazer_ more than this I've done--
This very Hour the last the King can live
Urg'd by thy Witch-craft I his Life betray'd;
And is it thus my Bounties are repaid?
Whate'er a Crime so great deserves from Heav'n
By _Abdelazer_ might have been forgiven: [_Weeps_.
But I will be reveng'd by penitence
And e'er the King dies own my black Offence--
And yet that's not enough--_Elvira_-- [_Pauses_.
Cry murder murder help help.
[_She and her Women cry aloud he is surpriz'd
the_ Queen _falls_ _he draws a Dagger_ at Elvira.
_Elv_. Help murder murder!--
_Abd_. Hell what's this?--peace Baud--'sdeath
They'll raise the Court upon me and then I'm lost--
My Queen--my Goddess--Oh raise your lovely Eyes
I have dissembled Coldness all this while;
And that Deceit was but to try thy Faith.
[_Takes her up sets her in a Chair then kneels_.
Look up--by Heav'n'twas Jealousy--
Pardon your Slave--pardon your poor Adorer.
_Qu_. Thou didst upbraid me with my shameful Passion.
_Abd_. I'll tear my Tongue out for its Profanation.
_Qu_. And when I woo'd thee but to smile upon me
Thou cry'st--Away I'm dull unfit for Dalliance.
_Abd_. Call back the frighted Blood into thy Cheeks
And I'll obey the Dictates of my Love
And smile and kiss and dwell for ever here--
_Enter_ Osmin hastily.
How now--why star'st thou so?
_Osm_. My Lord--the King is dead.
_Abd_. The King dead!--'Twas time then to dissemble. [_Aside_.
What means this Rudeness?--
_Zar_. My Lord--the Cardinal inquiring for the Queen
The Court is in an uproar none can find her.
_Abd_. Not find the Queen! and wou'd they search her here?
_Qu_. What shall I do? I must not here be found.
_Abd_. Oh do not fear--no Cardinal enters here;
No King--no God that means to be secure--
Slaves guard the Doors and suffer none to enter
Whilst I my charming Queen provide for your Security--
You know there is a Vault deep under Ground
Into the which the busy Sun ne'er enter'd
But all is dark as are the Shades of Hell