"Death Is The Privilege Of Human Nature"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The plot of the first of Rowe's "she-tragedies," concerns Sciolto, a nobleman of Genoa, who has just promised his lovely daughter, Calista, to Altamont, a youth he has befriended since the death of Altamont's parents. Calista secretly loves and has been seduced by Altamont's bitter enemy, "gay Lothario." Lothario forces Calista to meet him on the day of her marriage by threatening to make her shame public. Altamont discovers Lothario and Calista in conference and, having learned their secret, kills Lothario. Sciolto enters and, upon learning of his daughter's shame, attempts to kill her. Altamont prevents this murder, and Sciolto leaves still insisting on justice. In the final act Rowe presents to his audience a scene of appalling melancholy and horror with Calista keeping a deathwatch over the corpse of Lothario. When her father enters, she expresses her wish for death, and he offers his dagger. As she takes the weapon, he announces that his duty as a judge is done and expresses his love for her as a father:

I could curse nature and that tyrant, honor,
For making me thy father and thy judge;
Thou art my daughter still.
For that kind word
Thus let me fall, thus humbly to the earth;
Weep on your feet and bless you for this goodness;
Oh! 'tis too much for this offending wretch,
This parricide, that murders with her crimes,
Shortens her father's age and cuts him off
E'er little more than half his years be numbered.
Would it were otherwise!–but thou must die.–
That I must die–it is my only comfort;
Death is the privilege of human nature,
And life without it were not worth our taking;
Thither the poor, the pris'ner, and the mourner
Fly for relief and lay their burdens down.
Come then, and take me now to thy cold arms,
Thou meagre shade; here let me breathe my last,
Charmed with my father's pity and forgiveness
More than if angels tuned their golden viols
And sung a requiem to my parting soul.