FORTUNE AND MEN'S EYES

A monologue from the play by Josephine Preston Peabody


  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Fortune and Men's Eyes. Josephine Preston Peabody. Boston: Small Towns, 1900.
  • THE PLAYER: Why should I thirst for it,
    Alone with the one man of all living men
    I have least cause to honor.... She is too false--
    At last, to keep a spaniel's loyalty.
    I do believe it. And by my own soul,
    She shall not have me, what remains of me
    That may be beaten back into the ranks.
    I will not look upon her.... Bitter sweet.
    This fever that torments me day by day--
    Call it not love--this servitude, this spell
    That haunts me like a sick man's fantasy,
    With pleading of her eyes, her voice, her eyes--
    It shall not have me. I am too much stained:
    But, God or no God, yet I do not live
    And have to bear my own soul company,
    To have it stoop so low. She looks on Herbert.
    Oh, I have seen! But he, -- he must withstand her!
    For my sake, yes, for my sake!--I'll not doubt
    His honor; nor the love he hath to me;--
    As Jonathan to David. -- I'll not doubt.
    He knows what I have suffered, -- suffer still --
    Although I love her not. Her ways, her ways.
    It is her ways that eat into the heart
    With beauty more than Beauty; and her voice,
    That silvers o'er the meaning of her speech
    Like moonshine on black waters. Ah, uncoil!...
    He's the sure morning after this dark dream;
    Wide daylight and west wind of a lad's love;
    With all his golden pride, for my dull hours,
    Still climbing sunward. Sink all loves in him!
    And cleanse me of this curs├Ęd, fell distrust
    That marks the pestilence. 'Fair, kind, and true.'
    Lad, lad. How could I turn from friendliness
    To worship such false gods?...
    'Fair, kind, and true.' And yet, if She were true,--
    To me, though false to all things else;--one truth,
    So one truth lived--. One truth! O beggared soul,
    --Foul Lazarus, so starved it can make shift
    To feed on crumbs of honor!--Am I this?

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