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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Confession of Evadne to Amintor

By Francis Beaumont (1584–1616) and John Fletcher (1579–1625)

From ‘The Maid’s Tragedy’

EVADNE—Would I could say so [farewell] to my black disgrace!

Oh, where have I been all this time? how friended,

That I should lose myself thus desperately,

And none for pity show me how I wandered?

There is not in the compass of the light

A more unhappy creature: sure, I am monstrous;

For I have done those follies, those mad mischiefs,

Would dare a woman. Oh, my loaden soul,

Be not so cruel to me; choke not up

The way to my repentance!

[Enter Amintor.]
O my lord!

Amintor—How now?
Evadne—My much-abused lord![Kneels.]
Amintor—This cannot be!

Evadne—I do not kneel to live; I dare not hope it;

The wrongs I did are greater. Look upon me,

Though I appear with all my faults.
Amintor—Stand up.

This is a new way to beget more sorrows:

Heaven knows I have too many. Do not mock me:

Though I am tame, and bred up with my wrongs,

Which are my foster-brothers, I may leap,

Like a hand-wolf, into my natural wildness,

And do an outrage: prithee, do not mock me.

Evadne—My whole life is so leprous, it infects

All my repentance. I would buy your pardon,

Though at the highest set, even with my life:

That slight contrition, that’s no sacrifice

For what I have committed.
Amintor—Sure, I dazzle:

There cannot be a faith in that foul woman,

That knows no God more mighty than her mischiefs.

Thou dost still worse, still number on thy faults,

To press my poor heart thus. Can I believe

There’s any seed of virtue in that woman

Left to shoot up that dares go on in sin

Known, and so known as thine is? O Evadne!

Would there were any safety in thy sex,

That I might put a thousand sorrows off,

And credit thy repentance! but I must not:

Thou hast brought me to that dull calamity,

To that strange misbelief of all the world

And all things that are in it, that I fear

I shall fall like a tree, and find my grave,

Only remembering that I grieve.
Evadne—My lord,

Give me your griefs: you are an innocent,

A soul as white as Heaven; let not my sins

Perish your noble youth. I do not fall here

To shadow by dissembling with my tears,

(As all say women can,) or to make less

What my hot will hath done, which Heaven and you

Know to be tougher than the hand of time

Can cut from man’s remembrances; no, I do not;

I do appear the same, the same Evadne,

Drest in the shames I lived in, the same monster.

But these are names of honor to what I am:

I do present myself the foulest creature,

Most poisonous, dangerous, and despised of men,

Lerna e’er bred, or Nilus. I am hell,

Till you, my dear lord, shoot your light into me,

The beams of your forgiveness; I am soul-sick,

And wither with the fear of one condemned,

Till I have got your pardon.
Amintor—Rise, Evadne.

Those heavenly powers that put this good into thee

Grant a continuance of it! I forgive thee:

Make thyself worthy of it; and take heed,

Take heed, Evadne, this be serious.

Mock not the powers above, that can and dare

Give thee a great example of their justice

To all ensuing ages, if thou playest

With thy repentance, the best sacrifice.

Evadne—I have done nothing good to win belief,

My life hath been so faithless. All the creatures

Made for Heaven’s honors have their ends, and good ones,

All but the cozening crocodiles, false women:

They reign here like those plagues, those killing sores,

Men pray against; and when they die, like tales

Ill told and unbelieved, they pass away,

And go to dust forgotten. But, my lord,

Those short days I shall number to my rest

(As many must not see me) shall, though too late,

Though in my evening, yet perceive a will,

Since I can do no good, because a woman,

Reach constantly at something that is near it;

I will redeem one minute of my age,

Or, like another Niobe, I’ll weep,

Till I am water.
Amintor—I am now dissolved:

My frozen soul melts. May each sin thou hast,

Find a new mercy! Rise; I am at peace.[Evadne rises.]

Hadst thou been thus, thus excellently good,

Before that devil-king tempted thy frailty,

Sure thou hadst made a star. Give me thy hand:

From this time I will know thee; and as far

As honor gives me leave, be thy Amintor.

When we meet next, I will salute thee fairly,

And pray the gods to give thee happy days:

My charity shall go along with thee,

Though my embraces must be far from thee.

I should have killed thee, but this sweet repentance

Locks up my vengeance: for which thus I kiss thee—[Kisses her.]

The last kiss we must take; and would to Heaven

The holy priest that gave our hands together

Had given us equal virtues! Go, Evadne;

The gods thus part our bodies. Have a care

My honor falls no farther: I am well, then.

Evadne—All the dear joys here, and above hereafter,

Crown thy fair soul! Thus I take leave, my lord;

And never shall you see the foul Evadne,

Till she have tried all honored means, that may

Set her in rest and wash her stains away.