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Orc. E'en as it was e'er I received my mission. Orc. Who brings she with her thus, as if comCordenius Maro is on public duty;
pell’a I have not seen him.-When he knows your offer By playful force ? His heart will bound with joy, like eaglet plumed Sul. 'Tis her Numidian page; a cunning imp, Whose out-stretch'd pinions wheeling round and Who must be wood to do the thing he's proud of.
round, Shape their first circles in the sunny air.
Enter Pontia, dragging Syphax after her, speaking as
she enters. Su. And with good cause. Orc, Methinks I see him now!
Por. Come in, deceitful thing !-I know thee A face with blushes mantling to the brow,
With all thy sly affected bashfulness,
Thou’rt hold enough to sing in Cesar's court,
With the whole senate present. Sul. His face, indeed, as I have heard thee say,
Prince of Parthia, Is like a wave which sun and shadow cross;
I knew not you were here ; but yet I guess
The song which this sly creature sings so well,
Will please you also. step, As tenderness gives way to exultation !
Orc. How can it fail, fair Portia, so commended ?
Sul. What is this boasted lay?
Por. That tune, my father,
Which you so oft have tried to recollect;
But link'd with other words, of new device,
That please my fancy well.—Come, sing it, boy! But seems to me too simple, gay, and thoughtless, For noble Maro. Heiress as she is
Sul. Nay, sing it, Syphax, be not so abashid,
If thou art really so.—Begin, begin!
But speak thy words distinctly as thou sing'st,
That I may have their meaning perfectly.
SONG. or any other man, I had most frankly
The storm is gathering far and wide, Removed all hinderance to so fair a suit.
Yon mortal hero must abide. For, in these changeling and degenerate days,
Power on earth, and power in air,
Falchion's gleam and lightning's glare; I scarcely know a man of nobler worth.
Arrows hurtling through the blast; Orc. Thou scarcely know'st! Say certainly thou
Stenes from flaming meteor cast : dost not.
Floods from burdend skies are pouring, He is, to honest right, as simply true
O’er mingled strife of battle roaring; As shepherd child on desert pasture bred,
Nature's rage and Denion's ire,
Belt him round with turmoil dire: Where falsehood and deceit have never been ;
Noble hero! earthly wight!
Brace thee bravely for the fight.
And so, indeed, thou takest thy stand,
Shield on arm and glaive in hand; Make such an union as in Nero's court
Breast encased in burnish'd steel, May pass for curious and unnatural.
Helm on head, and pike on heel; Sul. But is the public duty very urgent,
And, more than meets the outward eye That so untowardly delays our happiness?
The soul's high-temper'd panoply, Orc. The punishment of those poor Nazarenes,
Which every limb for action lightens, Who, in defiance of imperial power,
The form dilates, the visage brightens :
Thus art thou, lofty, mortal wight To their forbidden faith and rites adhere
Full nobly harness'd for the fight.
Sul. A stubborn contumacy unaccountable ! Orc. The picture of some very noble hero
Sul. So it should seem ; one of the days of old. But be it what it may, or good or ill,
Por. And why of olden days? There liveth now They look on death in its most dreadful form, The very man-a man-I mean to say, As martial heroes on a wreath of triumph.
There may be found amongst our Roman youth, The fires are kindled in the place of death, One, who in form and feelings may compare And bells toll dismally. The life of Rome With him whose lofty virtues these few lines In one vast clustering mass hangs round the spot, So well describe. And no one to his neighbour utters word,
Orc. Thou mean'st the lofty Gorbus. But in an alter'd voice ; with breath restrain's, Por. Out on the noisy braggart ! Arms without Like those who speak at midnight near the dead. He hath, indeed, well burnish'd and well plumed, Cordenius heads the band that guards the pile ; But the poor soul, within, is pluck'd and bare, So station'd, who could speak to him of pleasure ? Like any homely thing. For it would seem as an ill-omen'd thing.
Orc, Sertorius Galba then ? Sul. Cease; here comes Portia, with a careless Por. O, stranger still ! face:
For if he hath no lack of courage, certes, She knows not yet the happiness that waits her. He hath much lack of grace. Sertorius Galba !
Orc. Perhaps thou mean’st Cordenius Maro, lady. Officers and Soldiers still remaining ; the Thy cheeks grow scarlet at the very name,
Officers on the front, and Cordenius apart from Indignant that I still should err so strangely.
them in a thoughtful posture.) Por. No, not indignant, for thou errest not; First Offi. Brave Varus marches boldly at the Nor do I blush, albeit thou think'st I do,
head there is not of our Romans one,
Of that deluded band. Whose martial form a truer image gives
Second Offi. Are these the men, who hateful Of firm, heroic courage.
orgies hold Sul.
Cease, sweet Portia ; In dens and deserts, courting, with enchantments, He only laughs at thy simplicity.
The intercourse of demons ? Orc. Simplicity seen through a harmless wile, Third Offi.
Ay, with rites Like to the infant urchin, half conceal'd
Cruel and wild. To crucify a babe ; Behind his smiling dam's transparent veil. And while it yet hangs shrieking on the rood The song is not a stranger to mine ear,
Fall down and worship it! device abominable Methinks I've heard it, passing through those wilds, First Offi. Dost thou believe it? Whose groves and caves, if rumour speak the truth, Third Offi. I can believe all this or any thing Are by the Nazarenes or Christians haunted. Of the possess'd and mad.
Sul. Let it no more be sung within my walls: First Offi. What demonry, thinkest thou, posA chant of theirs to bring on pestilence !
sesses Varus? Sing it no more. What sounds are those I hear ? Second Off. That is well urged. (To the other.) Orc. The dismal death-drum and the crowd
Is he a maniac? without.
Alas, that I should see so brave a soldier They are this instant leading past your door Thus, as a malefactor, led to death! Those wretched Christians to their dreadful doom. First Offi. Viewing his keen, enliven'd counSul. We'll go and see them pass.
tenance [Exeunt hastily Sulpicius, Orceres. And stately step, one should have rather guess'd Por. (Stopping her ears.) I cannot look on them, He led victorious soldiers to the charge : nor hear the sound.
And they, indeed, appear to follow him
With noble confidence.
'Tis all vain seeming. Look on them as they pass ?
He is a man, who makes a show of valour Por.
No; go not, child : To which his deeds have borne slight testimony. 'Twill frighten thee; it is a horrid sight.
Cor. (advancing indignantly.) Thou liest : Page. Yet, and it please you, lady, let me go.
better and a braver soldier Por. I say it is a horrid, piteous sight,
Ne'er fronted foe, or closed in bloody strife. Thou wilt be frighten'd at it.
(Turning away angrily to the back ground.) Page. Nay, be it e'er so piteous or so horrid, First Off. Our chief, methinks, is in a fretful I have a longing, strong desire to see it.
mood, Por. Go, then ; there is in this no affectation : Which is not usual with him. There's all the harden'd cruelty of man
Second Offi. He did not seem to listen to our Lodged in that tiny form, child as thou art.
words. [Exeunt, severally. But see he gives the signal to proceed ; SCENE II.-AN OPEN SQUARE WITH BUILDINGS.
We must advance, and with our closing ranks
The fatal pile encircle. Enter CORDENIUS Maro, at the head of his SOLDIERS, who draw up on either side: then enters along proces
[Exeunt in order, whilst a chorus of Martyrs is sion of public Functionaries, &c. conducting MARTYRS
heard at a distance.) to the place of execution, who, as they pass on, sing together in unison: one more noble than the others, SCENE III.-AN APARTMENT IN A PRIVATE HOUSE. walking first. SONG.
Enter two CHRISTIAN WOMEN, by opposite sides.
First Wom. Hast thou heard any thing?
Second Wom. Naught, save the murmur of the
Sinking at times to deep and awful silence,
From which again a sudden burst will rise
Like mingled exclamations, as of horror
Or admiration. In these neighbouring streets
I have not met a single citizen,
The town appearing uninhabited.
But wherefore art thou here? Thou should'st have
With the unhappy mother of poor Cælus.
First Wom. She sent me hither in her agony
Of fear and fearful hope.
Second Wom. Ha! does she hope deliverance EXEUNT Martyrs, &c. &c. Cordenius with his
First Wom. O no! thou wrong'st her, friend ; it disperse and leave him alone. He walks a few paces is not that:
slowly, then stops and continues for a short time in a Deliverance is her fear, and death her hope.
thoughtful posture. A second time she bears a mother's throes
Cor. There is some power in this, or good or ill,
To desperate sacrifice, 'tis ardent passion,
Can loathsome demonry in dauntless bearing,
Mocking all thought-incomprehensible.
(Remains for a moment silent and thoughtful,
while Sylvius enters behind him unperceived. Fath. Yes, daughter, as I trust, they are ere this Delusion! ay, 'tis said the cheated sight In high immortal bliss. Cælus alone
Will see unreal things ; the cheated ear First IV om. He bath apostatized ! O wo is me!
List to sweet sounds that are not; even the reason O wo is me for his most wretched mother!
Maintain conclusions wild and inconsistent. Fath. Apostatized ! No; stripling as he is,
We hear of this :—the weak may be deluded ; His fortitude, where all were braced and brave,
But is the learn'd, th' enlighten’d, noble Varus Shone paramount.
The victim of delusion ?-Can it be? For his soft downy cheek and slender form
I'll not believe it. Made them conceive they might subdue his firm
Syl. (advancing to him.) No, believe it not. ness,
Cor. (starting.) Ha! one so near me ! Therefore he was reserved till noble Varus
I have seen thy face before ; but where ?-who art And his compeers had in the flames expired.
thou ? Then did they court and tempt him with fair pro
Syl. E'en that centurion of the seventh legion, mise
Who, with Cordenius Maro, at the siege Of all that earthly pleasure or ambition
Of Fort Volundum, mounted first the breach ; Can offer, to deny his holy faith.
And kept the clustering enemy in check, But be, who seem'd before so meek and timid,
Till our encouraged Romans follow'd us. Now suddenly imbued with holy grace,
Cor. My old companion then, the valiant SylLike the transition of some watery cloud
vius. In passing o'er the moon's refulgent disc,
Thou'st done hard service since I saw thee last: Glow'd with new life ; and from his fervid tongue Thy countenance is mark'd with graver lines Words of most firm, indignant constancy
Than in those greener days: I knew thee not. Pour'd eloquently forth; then to the pile
Where goest thou now? I'll bear thee company. Sprung lightly up, like an undaunted warrior
Syl. I thank thee: yet thou may'st not go with Scaling the breach of honour; or, alas ! As I have seen him midst his boyish mates,
The way that I am wending suits not thee, Vaulting aloft for every love of motion.
Though suiting well the noble and the brave.
It were not well, in fiery times like these,
To tempt thy generous mind.
Cor. What dost thou mean? Left him yet living midst devouring flame ;
Syl. (after looking cautiously round to see that Therefore I spoke of Cælus doubtfully,
nobody is near.) Did I not hear thee comIf he as yet belong'd to earth or heaven.
mune with thyself
Cor. How blessed? My unsettled thoughts were voices
busy In grateful thanks be raised ! Those ye lament, With things mysterious ; with those magic powers Have earthly pangs for heavenly joy exchanged.
That work the mind to darkness and destruction ; The manly Varus and the youthful Cælus,
With the sad end of the deluded Varus. The lion and the dove, yoke-fellows link'd,
Syl. Not so, not so ! The wisest prince on earth, Have equal bliss and equal honour gain'd.
With treasured wealth and armies at command, First Wom. And praised be God, who makes the Ne'er earn'd withal such lofty exaltation weakest strong!
As Varus now enjoys. I'll to his mother with the blessed tidings. (Exit. Cor. Thy words amaze me, friend ; what is their Fath. Let us retire and pray. How soon our
Syl. They cannot be explain' with hasty speecb May have like ending, God alone doth know ! In such a place. If thou would'st really know0! may like grace support us in our need! And may such light
[EXEUNT. Cor. Why dost thou check thy words, SCENE IV.-AN OPEN SPACE IN FRONT OF A TEMPLE. And look so much disturb’d, like one in doubt ? Enter CORDENIUS, as returning from the execution
Syl. What am I doing! Zeal, perhaps, betrays with his SOLDIERS, who, upon a signal from him,
Yet, wherefore hide salvation from a man |(Granting again that such a one might be,)
Who hath but seen the element of fire Cor. Why art thou agitated thus ? What moves on household earth or woodman's smoky pile, thee?
And looks at once, midst 'stounding thunder-peals, Syl. And would'st thou really know it? On Jove's magnificence of lightning.---Pardon, Cor. Dost thou doubt me ?
I pray you pardon me! I mean his lightning, I have an earnest, most intense desire.
Who is the Jove of Jove, the great Jehovah. Syl. Sent to thy heart, brave Roman, by a power Fath. (smiling.) Be not disturbid, my son : the Which I may not resist. (Bowing his head.)
lips will utter, But go not with me now in open day.
From lengthen'd habit, what the mind rejects. At fall of eve, I'll meet thee in the suburb,
Cor. These blessed hours which I have pass'd Close to the pleasure garden of Sulpicius ;
with you Where in a bushy crevice of the rock
Have to my intellectual being given There is an entry to the catacombs,
New feelings and expansion, like to that Known but to few
Which once I felt, on viewing by degrees Cor.
Ha ! to the catacombs! The wide development of nature's amplitude. Syl. A dismal place, I own, but heed not that ; Fath. And how was that, my son ? For there thou'lt learn what, to thy ardent mind, Cor. I well remember it; even at this moment Will make this world but as a thorny pass Imagination sees it all again. . To regions of delight; man's natural life | 'Twas on a lofty mountain of Armenia, With all its varied turmoil of ambition,
O'er which I led by night my martial cohort, But as the training of a wayward child
To shun the fierce heat of a summer's day. To manly excellence ; yea, death itself
Close round us hung, the vapours of the night But as a painful birth to life unending.
Had form'd a woofy curtain, dim and pale, The word eternal has not to thine ears,
Through which the waning moon did faintly mark As yet, its awful, ample sense convey'd.
Its slender crescent. Cor. Something possesses thee.
Fath. Ay, the waned moon through midnight Syl.
Yes, noble Maro;
vapours seen, But it is something which can ne'er possess
Fit emblem is of that retrenching light, A mind that is not virtuous.—Let us part;
Dubious and dim, which to the earliest patriarchs It is expedient now.-All good be with thee ! Was at the first vouchsafed; a moral guide,
Cor. And good be with thee, also, valia soldier ! Soon clouded and obscured to their descendants,
close of day, and near the pleasure gar- The fertile earth.—But this is interruption.
Proceed, my son.
Well, on the lofty summit Cor. I know the spot, and will not fail to meet We halted, and the day's returning light thee.
[EXEUNT. On this exalted station found us. Then
Our brighten'd curtain, wearing into shreds
Glimpse after glimpse of slow revealed beauty,
Which held th' arrested senses magic bound,
Fath. From such an eminence, the opening SUPPORTED BY THICK PILLARS OF THE ROUGH
mist UNHEWN ROCK, WITH RUDE TOMBS AND HEAPS Would to the eye reveal most beauteous visions. OF HUMAN BONES, AND THE WALLS IN MANY
Cor. First, far beneath us, woody peaks appear'd,
And knolls with cedars crested; then, beyond, Enter CORDENIUS Maro, speaking to a CHRISTIAN And lower still, the herdsmen's cluster'd dwellings,
Father, on whose arm he leans, and followed by With pasture slopes, and Aocks just visible;
Then, further still, soft wavy wastes of forest, Cor. One day and two bless'd nights, spent in In all the varied tints of sylvan verdure, acquiring
Descending to the plain; then wide and boundless Your heavenly lore, so powerful and sublime The plain itself, with towns and cultured tracks, 0! what an alter'd creature they have made me ! And its fair river gleaming in the light, Fath. Yes, gentle son, I trust that thou art with all its sweepy windings, seen and lost, alter'd.
And seen again, till through the pale gray tint Cor. I am, methinks, like one, who, with bent of distant space, it seem'd a loosen'd cestus back
From virgin's tunic blown ; and still beyond, And downward gaze-if such a one might be The earth's extended vastness from the sight, Hath only known the boundless azure sky
Wore like the boundless ocean. By the strait circle of reflected beauty,
My heart beat rapidly at the fair sightSeen in the watery gleam of some deep pit, This ample earth, man's natural habitation. Till of a sudden roused, he stands erect,
But now, when to my mental eye reveald, And wondering looks aloft and all around
His moral destiny, so grand and noble, On the bright sunny firmament :-like one Lies stretching on e’en to immensity,
PLACES LINED WITH HUMAN SKULLS.
It overwhelms me with a flood of thoughts, I struck my hand against my soldier's mail,
And cried, “ This faith is worthy of a man!"
thoughts Cor. I am most thankful for the words of power To one great universal Lord of all, Which from thy gifted lips and sacred Scripture Lord e'en of Jove himself and all the gods; I have received. What feelings they have raised ! But who dost feel for that high, distant Essence O what a range of thought given to the mind! A warmer sentiment than deep submission? And to the soul what loftiness of hope !
But now, adoring love and grateful confidence
I am too bold: I should be humbled first
Fath. Check not the generous tenor of thy My soul is roused within me at the sound,
thoughts : Like some poor slave, who from a dungeon issues o check it not ! Love leads to penitence, To range with free-born men his native land. And is the noblest, surest path ; whilst fear Fath. Thou may'st, indeed, my son, redeem'd Is dark and devious. To thy home return, from thraldom,
And let thy mind well weigh what thou hast heard. Become the high compeer of blessed spirits. If then thou feel'st within thee, faith assured Cor. The high compeer of such —These gushing That faith, which may, even through devouring tears,
flames, Nature's mysterious tears, will have their way. Its passage hold to heaven, baptismal rites Fath. To give thy heart relief.
Shall give thee entrance to a purer life; Cor. And yet mysterious. Why do we weep Receive thee, as thy Saviour's valiant soldier, At contemplation of exalted virtue ?
For his high warfare arm’d. Perhaps in token of the fallen state
Cor. I am resolved, and feel that in my heart In which we are, as thrilling sympathy
There lives that faith; baptize me ere we part. Strangely acknowledges some sight and sound, Fath. So be it then. But yet that holy rite Connected with a dear and distant home,
Must be preferrd; for lo! our brethren come, Albeit the memory hath that link forgotten : Bearing the ashes of our honour'd saints, A kind of latent sense of what we were
Which must, with hymns of honour be received. Or might have been ; a deep, mysterious token. Fath. Perhaps thou’rt right, my son ; for e'en Enter Christians, seen advancing slowly along one of the wicked
the aisles, and bearing a large veiled urn; which they
set down near the front. They then lift off the veil Will sometimes weep at lofty, generous deeds.
and range themselves round it, while one sings and Some broken traces of our noble nature
the rest join in the chorus at the end of each short Were yet preserved ; therefore our great Creator Still loved his work, and thought it worth redemp
Departed brothers, generous, brave, And therefore his bless'd Son, our generous master,
Who for the faith have died, Did, as the elder brother of that race,
Nor its pure source denied,
Your bodies from devouring flames to save. Whose form he took, lay down his life to save us.
Chorus. But I have read thee, in our sacred Book,
Honour on earth, and bliss in heaven, His gentle words of love.
Be to your saintly valour given! Cor. Thou hast ! thou hast ! they're stirring in
And we, who, left behind, pursue my heart :
A pilgrim's weary way Each fibre of my body thrills in answer
To realms of glorious day, To the high call.
Shall rouse our fainting souls with thoughts of you. Fath. The spirit of power, my son, dealing
Honour on earth, &c. with thee.
Your ashes mingled with the dust,
Than e'er breathed vital air,
Honour on earth, &c.
With tones far sent and sweet, Of God supreme to an infinity
Which countless hosts repeat, Of awful greatness, yet connects us with him,
The generous martyr's never-fading name. As children, loved and cherish'd ;
Honour on earth, and bliss in heaven,
Be to your saintly valour given! Adoring awe with tenderness united. Syl. (eagerly.) Ay, brave Cordenius, that same Cor. (to Father.) And ye believe those, who a thought more moved
few hours since My rude, unletter'd mind than all the rest. Were clothed in flesh and blood, and here, before us,