Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

THE CONSPIRATORS OF PALERMO.

189

now

now

For freedom ! But have they not
Brothers or sons amongst us?

Gui. Look on me!
I have a brother, a young, high-souled boy,
His doom is sealed
With theirs of whom you spoke ; and I have knelt -
Ay, scorn me not! 't was 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 canceled !- Call on me,
When the stern moment of revenge is nigh.
Pro. I call

upon
thee 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! 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.

Raimond. 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.
Let them all perish ! — And if one be found
Amid our band, to stay the avenging steel
For pity or remorse, or boyish love,
Then be his doom as theirs ! — Why gaze ye thus ?
Brethren, what means your silence ?

Gui. Be it so!
If one amongst us stay the 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 dreamed 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 crowned 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 practiced lip a smile,
Beneath his vest a dagger, which but 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 ? 0, 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 parched with agonizing thirst,
Which must be quenched, though death were in the draught:
We must have vengeance, for our foes have left
No other joy unblighted.

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

Rai. Procida, know,
I shrink from crime alone. O, 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
The indelible taint of con'tumely 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 to your counsels. He that still

if my

* The ch in chiv'alry, chav'alrous, &c., has the sound of sh.

CÆSAR'S MESSAGE TO CATO.

191

Would hold his lofty nature undebased,
And his name pure, were but a loiterer here.
Dearer than vengeance — ay, than freedom, dearer
Is honor to me.

And
So,
fare
ye
well.

MRS. HEMANS (altered).

II. – CÆSAR'S MESSAGE TO CATO.

DECIUS AND CATO.

Decius, Cæsar sends health to Cato.

Cato. Could he send it
To Cato's slaughtered friends, it would be welcome.
Are not your orders to address the Senate ?

Dec. My business is with Cato. Cæsar sees
The straits to which you ’re driven; and, as he knows
Cato's high worth, is anxious for your

life.
Cato. My life is grafted on the fate of Rome.
Would he save Cato? Bid him spare his country
Tell
your

dictator this: and tell him, Cato Disdăins a life which he has power to offer.

Dec. Rome and her senators submit to Cæsar;
Her generals and her consuls are no more,
Who checked his conquests, and denied his triumphs.
Why will not Cato be this Cæsar's friend?

Cato. Those very reasons thou hast urged forbid it.

Dec. Cato, I've orders to expostulate,
And reason with you, as from friend to friend.
Think on the storm that gathers o'er your head,
And threatens every hour to burst upon it;
Still may you stand high in your country's honors :
Do but comply and make your peace with Cæsar,
Rome will rejoice, and cast its eyes on Cato,
As on the second of mankind.

Cato. No more;
I must not think of life on such conditions.

Dec. Cæsar is well acquainted with your virtues,
And therefore sets this value on your life:
Let him but know the price of Cato's friendship,
And name your terms.

Cato. Bid him disband his legions,
Restore the commonwealth to liberty,
Submit his actions to the public censure,
And stand the judgment of a Roman Senate;
Bid him do this, and Cato is his friend.

Dec. Cato, the world talks loudly of your wisdom —

Cato. Nay, more, though Cato's voice was ne'er employed
To clear the guilty, and to varnish crimes,
Myself will mount the Rostrum in his favor,
And strive to gain his pardon from the people.

Dec. A style like this becomes a conqueror.
Cato. Decius, a style like this becomes a Roman.
Dec. What is a Roman, that is Cæsar's foe?
Cato. Greater than Cæsar: he's a friend to virtue.

Dec. Consider, Cato, you 're in Utica,
And at the head of your own little Senate;
You don't now thunder in the Capitol,
With all the mouths of Rome to second you.

Cato. Let him consider that who drives us hither;
'Tis Cæsar's sword has made Rome's Senate little,
And thinned its ranks. Alas! thy dazzled eye
Beholds this man in a false glaring light,
Which conquest and success have thrown upon him ;
Didst thou but view him right, thou 'dst see him black
With murder, treason, sacrilege, and — crimes
That strike my soul with horror but to name them.
I know thou look'st on me as on a wretch
Beset with ills, and covered with misfortunes ;
But, as I love my country, millions of worlds
Should never buy me to be like that Cæsar.

Dec. Does Cato send this answer back to Cæsar,
For all his generous cares and proffered friendship?

Cato. His cares for me are insolent and vain : Presumptuous man! the gods take care of Cato. Would Cæsar show the greatness of his soul, Bid him employ his care for these my

friends, And make good use of his ill-gotten power, By sheltering men much better than himself. ADDISON

III. — CORIOLANUS AND AUFIDIUS.

Tho passages enclosed between brackets in the following scene are by Shaks.

peare; the rest, with a few alterations, are by Thom.on. Coriolanus. I plainly, Tullus, by your looks perceive You disapprove my conduct.

Aufidius. I mean not to assail thee with the clamor
Of loul seproaches and the war of words ;
But, pride apart, and all that can pervert

CORIOLANUS AND AUFIDIUS.

193

The light of steady reason, here to make
A candid, fair proposal.

Cor. Speak, I hear thee.

Auf. I need not tell thee, that I have performed
My utmost promise. Thou hast been protected;
Hast had thy amplest, most ambitious wish;
Thy wounded pride is healed, thy dear revenge
Completely sated; and, to crown thy fortune,
At the same time thy peace with Rome restored.
Thou art no more a Volscian, but a Roman.
Return, return; thy duty calls upon

thee
Still to protect the city thou hast saved ;
It yet may be in danger from our arms.
Retire: I will take care thou may'st with safety.

Cor. With safety? - safety? Thinkest thou that I,
Coriolanus, of Co-ri'oli,
Will stoop to thee for safety? - No: my safeguard
Is in myself, a bosam void of fear.
0, 't is an act of cowardice and baseness
To seize the

very
time
my

hands are fettered
By the strong chain of former obligation,
The safe, sure moment, to insult me. Safety!
Were I now free, as on that day I was,
When at Corioli I tamed thy pride,
This had not been.

Auf. Thou speakest the truth: it had not.
O, for that time again! Propitious gods,
If
you

will bless me, grant it! Know, for that,
For that dear purpose, I have now proposed
Thou shouldst return; I pray thee, Marcius, do it;
And we shall meet again on nobler terms.
Cor. Till I have cleared my

honor in

your council, And proved before them all, to thy confusion, The falsehood of thy charge,

as soon in battle I would before thee fly, and howl for mercy, As quit the station they've assigned me here !

Auf. Thou canst not hope acquittal from the Volscians.

Cor. I do: — nay, more, expect their approbation, Their thanks. I will obtain them such a peace As thou durst never ask; a perfect union Of their whole nation with imperial Rome, In all her privileges, all her rights ; By the just gods, I will! — What wouldst thou more? Auf What would I more, proud Roman? This I would —

« ПредишнаНапред »