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Ye lead his credulous step? there will we seize him;
Dear him to Rome, the substitute for you,
And give you back to freedom.
If the Druids-
Aul. Did. If they, or he, prevent this artifice,
Then force must take its way: then flaming brands,
And biting axes, wielded by our soldiers,
Must level these thick shades, and so unlodge
The lurking savage.
Gods, shall Mona perish? A.Did. Princes, her ev'ry trunk shall on the ground Stretch its gigantic length; unless, ere dawn, Ye lure this untam'd lion to our toils. Go then, and prosper; I shall to the ships, And there expect his coming. Youths, remember, He must to Rome to grace great Cæsar's triumph: Cæsar and fate demand him at your hand.
[Exeunt AULUS Didius and Romans.
Caractacus among the Druids, where he is to be consecrated one
of their number.
Caractacus ; Evelina, daughter of Caractacus; and Chorus..
Car. This holy place, methinks, doth this nightwear More than its wonted gloom: Druid, these groves Have caught the dismal colouring of my soul, Changing their dark dun garbs to very sable, In pity to their guest. Hail, hallow'd oaks !
Hail, British born! who; last of British race,
Hold your primeval rights by Nature's charter;
Not at the nod of Cæsar. Happy foresters,
Ye wave your bold heads in the liberal air;
Nor ask, for privilege, a pretor's edict.
Ye, with your tough and intertwisted roots,
Grasp the firm rocks ye sprung from; and, erect
In knotty hardihood, still proudly spread
Your leafy banners 'gainst the tyrannous north,
Who, Roman like, assails you. Tell me, Druid,
Is it not better to be such as these,
Than be the thing I am?
To be the thing,
Eternal wisdom wills, is ever best.
Car. But I am lost to that predestin'd use Eternal wisdom will’d; and fitly therefore May wish a change of being. I was born A king; and Heav'n, who bade these warrior oaks Lift their green shields against the fiery sun, To fence their subject plain, did mean that I Should, with as firm an arm, protect my people Against the pestilent glare of Rome's ambition. I fail'd; and how I fail'd, thou know'st too well : So does the babbling world: and therefore, Druid, I would be any thing save what I am.
Chor. See, to thy wish, the holy rites prepar’d, Which, if Heav'n frowns not, consecrate thee Druid: See to the altar's base the victims led, From whose free gushing blood ourself shall read. Its high behests; which if assenting found,
Thiese, est of sawa Bards, marblings Mean W
These hands around thy chosen limbs shall wrap .
The vest of sanctity; while at the act,
Yon white-robod Bards, sweeping their solemn harps,
Shall lift their choral warblings to the skies,
And call the gods to witness. Mean while, prince,
Bethink thee well, if ought on this vain earth
Still holds too firm an union with thy soul,
Estranging it from peace.
I had a.queen :
Bear with my weakness, Druid ! this tough breast
Must heave, a sigh, for she is unreveng'd.
And can I taste true peace, she unreveng'd?
So chaste, so lov'd a queen? Ah, Evelina !
Hang not thus weeping on the feeble arm
That could not save thy mother.
To hang thus
Softens the pang of grief; and the sweet thought,
That a fond father still supports his child,
Sheds, on my pensive mind, such soothing balm,
As doth the blessing of these pious seers,
When most they wish our welfare. Would to Heav'n
A daughter's presence could as much avail,
To ease her father's woes, as his doth mine!
Car. Ever most gentle! come unto my bosom: Dear pattern of the precious prize I lost, Lost, so inglorious lost:—my friends, these eyes Did see her torn from my defenceless camp; Whilst I, hemm'd round by squadrons, could not
save her: My boy, still nearer to the darling pledge,
Beheld her shrieking in the ruffian's arm;
Beheld, and fled.
Ah! sir, forbear to wound
My brother's fame; he fled, but to recal
His scatter'd forces to pursue and save her.
Car. Daughter, he fled. Now, by yon gracious
That rising saw the deed, and instant hid
Her blushing face in twilight's dusky veil,
The flight was parricide.
I know him valiant; and not doubt he fell
'Mid slaughter'd thousands of the haughty foe,
Victim to filial love. Arviragus!
Thou hadst no sister near the bloody field,
Whose sorrowing search, led by yon orb of night,
Might find thy body, wash with tears thy wounds,
And wipe them with her hair.
Peace, virgin, peace ; Nor thou, sad prince, reply; whate'er he is, Be he a captive, fugitive, or corse, He is what Heav'n ordain'd: these holy grove's Permit no exclamation 'gainst Heav'n's will To violate their echoes: Patience here, Her meek hands folded on her modest breast, In mute submission lifts th' adoring eye, Ev'n to the storm that wrecks her. Evel.
Holy Druid, If ought my erring tongue has said pollutes This sacred place, I from my soul abjure it.
And will these lips bar with eternal silence,
Rather than speak a word, or act a deed
Unmeet for thy sage daughters; blessing first
This hallow'd hour, that takes me from the world,
And joins me to their sober sisterhood.
Chor. 'Tis wisely said. See, prince, this prudent
Now, while the ruddy flame of sparkling youth
Glows on her beauteous cheek, can quit the world
Without a sigh, whilst thou
Would save my queen
From a base ravisher; would wish to plunge
This falchion in his breast, and so avenge
Insulted royalty. Oh, holy men!
Ye are the sons of piety and peace;
Ye never felt the sharp vindictive spur,
That goads the injur'd warrior; the hot tide,
That flushes crimson on the conscious cheek
Of him, who burns for glory; else indeed
Ye much would pity me: would curse the fate
That coops me here inactive in your groves,
Robs me of hope, tells me this trusty steel
Must never cleave one Roman helm again;
Never avenge my queen, nor free my country.
Chor. 'Tis Heav'n's high will
I know it, reverend fathers!
'Tis Heav'n's high will, that these poor aged eyes
Shall never more behold that virtuous woman,
To whom my youth was constant; 'twas Heav'n's will
To take her from me at that very hour,