Слике страница
PDF
ePub

While hostile banners, o'er thy rampart walls,
Wave their proud blazonry?
Gui.

Even so.

I stood
Last night before my own ancestral towers,
An unknown outcast, while the tempest beat
On my bare head—what reck'd it ?- There was joy
Within, and revelry; the festive lamps
Were streaming from each turret, and gay songs,
I'th' stranger's tongue, made mirth. They little deemid
Who heard their melodies !—but there are thoughts
Best nurtured in the wild ; there are dread vows
Known to the mountain-echoes. Procida !
Call on the outcast when revenge is nigh.

Pro. I knew a young Sicilian, one whose heart
Should be all fire. On that most guilty day,
When, with our martyr'd Conradin, the flower
Of the land's knighthood perished; he, of whom
I speak, a weeping boy, whose innocent tears
Melted a thousand hearts that dared not aid,
Stood by the scaffold, with extended arms,
Calling upon his father, whose last look
Turned full on him its parting agony.
That father's blood gushed o'er him!—and the boy
Then dried his tears, and, with a kindling eye,
And a proud flush on his young cheek, look'd up
To the bright heaven.--Doth he remeniber still
That bitter hour?
Gui.

He bears a sheathless sword !
-Call on the orphan when revenge is nigh.

Pro. Our band shows gallantly—but there are men
Who should be with us now, had they not dared
In some wild moment of festivity
To give their full hearts way, and breathe a wish
For freedom !—and some traitor-it might be
A breeze perchance-bore the forbidden sound
To Eribert :-so they must die-unless
Fate (who at times is wayward) should select
Some other victim first !—But have they not
Brothers or sons amongst us ?
Gui.

Look on me!
I have a brother, a young, high-soul'd boy,
And beautiful as a sculptor's dream, with brow
That wears, amidst its dark, rich curls, the stamp
Of inborn nobleness. In truth, he is
A glorious creature ! But his doom is sealed

With theirs of whom you spoke ; and I have knelt-
Ay, scorn me not ! 'twas for his life-I knelt
E'en at the viceroy's feet, and he put on
That heartless laugh of cold malignity
We know so well, and spurned me. But the stain
Of shame like this, takes blood to wash it off,
And thus it shall be cancell'd !--Call on me,
When the stern moment of revenge is nigh.

Pro. I call upon thee now! The land's high soul
Is roused, and moving onward, like a breeze,
Or a swift sunbeam, kindling nature's hues
To deeper life before it. In his chains,
The peasant dreams of freedom !-ay, 'tis thus
Oppression fans th' imperishable flame
With most unconscious hands.

Now, before
The majesty of yon pure Heaven, whose eye
Is on our hearts, whose righteous arm befriends
The arm that strikes for freedom ; speak! decree
The fate of our oppressors.
Mont.

Let them fall
When dreaming least of peril !-When the heart,
Basking in sunny pleasure, doth forget
That hate may smile, but sleeps not. Hide the sword
With a thick veil of myrtle, and in halls
Of banqueting, where the full wine-cup shines
Red in the festal torch-light; meet we there,
And bid them welcome to the feast of death.

Rai. Must innocence and guilt
Perish alike?

Mont. Who talks of innocence ? When hath their hand been stayed for innocence ? Let them all perish !-Heaven will choose its own. Why should their children live? The earthquake whelms Its undistinguished thousands, making graves Of peopled cities in its path-and this ls Heaven's dread justice—ay, and it is well! Why then should we be tender, when the skies Deal thus with man? What, if the infant bleed ? Is there not power to hush the mother's pangs? What, if the youthful bride perchance should fall In her triumphant beauty ?-Should we pause ? As if death were not mercy to the pangs Which make our lives the records of our foes?

Let them all perish !-And if one be found
Amidst our band, to stay th' avenging steel
For pity or remorse, or boyish love,
Then be his doom as theirs !

[A pause.

Why gaze ye thus?
Brethren, what means your silence ?
Gui.

Be it so!
If one amongst us stay th' avenging steel
For love or pity, be his doom as theirs !
Pledge we our faith to this!
Rai.

Our faith to this!
No! I but dreamt I heard it !--Can it be?
My countrymen, my father !—Is it thus
That freedom should be won ?-Awake! Awake
To loftier thoughts !-Lift up, exultingly,
On the crown'd heights, and to the sweeping winds,
Your glorious banner!-Let your trumpet's blast
Make the tombs thrill with echoes ! Call aloud,
Proclaim from all your hills, the land shall bear
The stranger's yoke no longer !—What is he
Who carries on his practised lip a smile,
Beneath his vest a dagger, which hut waits
Till the heart bounds with joy, to still its beatings?
That which our nature's instinct doth recoil from,
And our blood curdle at-Ay, yours and mine-
A murderer !-Heard ye?-Shall that name with ours
Go down to after days ?-Oh, friends! a cause
Like that for which we rise, hath made bright names
Of the elder time as rallying-words to men,
Sounds full of might and immortality !
And shall not ours be such ?
Mont.

Fond dreamer, peace!
Fame! What is fame ?-Will our unconscious dust
Start into thrilling rapture from the grave,
At the vain breath of praise !—I tell thee, youth,
Our souls are parch'd with agonizing thirst,
Which must be quench'd though death were in the draught :
We must have vengeance, for our foes have left
No other joy unblighted.

Pro. The time is past for such high dreams as thine. Thou know'st not whom we deal with. Knightly faith, And chivalrous honour, are but things whereon They cast disdainful pity. We must meet Falsehood with wiles, and insult with revenge.

Oh! my son,

,

Rai.

Procida, know,
I shrink from crime alone. Oh! if my voice
Might yet have power amongst you, I would say,
Associates, leaders, be avenged! but yet
As knights, as warriors !
Mont.

Peace ! have we not borne
Th' indelible taint of contumely and chains ?
We are not knights and warriors. Our bright crests
Have been defiled and trampled to the earth.
Boy! we are slaves—and our revenge shall be
Deep as a slave's disgrace.
Rai.

Why, then farewell;
I leave you

counsels. He that still Would hold his lofty nature undebased, And his name pure, were but a loiterer here.

to your

SECTION XIV.

SIR JOSEPH BANKS-PETER....John Wolcott.

Sir Joseph. Your meaning, friend, I easily divine !
Peter. Yes, quit for life the chair-resign, resign.

Sir J. No, with contempt the grinning world I see, And always laugh at those who laugh at me.

Pet. To steal a point then, may I never thrive
But you must be the merriest man alive.
Sir J. Good !—but, my friend, 'twould be a black No-

vember,
To lose the chair, and sneak a vulgar member;
Sit on a bench mumchance without my hat,
Sunk from a lion to tame tom cat:
Just like a schoolboy trembling o'er his book,
Afraid to move, or speak, or think, or look,
When Mr. President, with mastiff air,
Vouchsafes to grumble 'Silence' from the chair.

Pet. All this is mortifying to be sure,
And more than flesh and blood can well endure !
Then to your turnip fields in peace retire :
Return, like Cincinnatus, country 'squire.
Thus, though proud London dares refuse you fame,
The towns of Lincolnshire shall raise your name,
Knock down the bear, and bull, and calf, and king,
And bid Sir Joseph on their signposts swing.

And trembled lest the Consul might be won;
For ebbing resolution ne'er returns,
But still falls farther from its former shore.
To aid my father in this trying hour
Did I assume a dastard's vile disguise.

Æmil. And did I meet you with reproach and scorn!
With scorn encounter my devoted son,
Who came to strengthen and support his sire ?
Forgive me, last of the Æmilian line!
Pure and unstained the current of our blood
Ends as it long has flowed.
Var.

Thou noble youth,
Whose life more and more precious still I deem,
I am the friend of Rome; of yonder host
No slender part under my ensigns move.
With them I watch the tyrant's overthrow,
And guard my country with a stronger power,
Than Aquileia, and her feeble walls.
Great is thy glory; thou hast reached the top
Of magnanimity, in bloom of youth
The Regulus revived of ancient Rome :
Inflexible to terror, yield to prudence,
No tongue shall tax thine or thy father's fame.

Titus. Renowned Varus! often have I heard
Of thee, and of thy virtues ; oft rejoiced,
That I could claim affinity with them;
But not the sanction of thy honour'd voice,
Not all the credence due to worth like thine,
Can move my steadfast mind. There is but one,
One only path which mortals safely tread,
The sacred path of rectitude and truth.
I follow, though it leads me to the tomb.
Forgive me, noble Roman! o'er thy head,
Perhaps, this instant, dire discovery hangs,
And thou and Rome are lost, and basely lost.
No, let the Consul, as he ought, defy
The tyrant's threat'ning, and rely on Heaven.
For me, and Paulus too, our hearts are fixed,
Deliberation of our state is vain :
For if the Consul should the city yield,
Inevitable death abides his son.

Æmil. Eternal gods! thy mystic words explain.

Titus. A solemn oath determined we have sworn, Ne'er to survive the ignominious ransom. Restored to liberty, to death we fly, And perish mutual by each other's sword,

« ПретходнаНастави »