Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

Sleeking thy looks to silken Buckingham,
Thou shalt- no matter! I have outlived love.
Oh beautiful, all golden, gentle youth!
Making thy palace in the carless front
And hopeful eye of man-ere yet the soul
Hath lost the memories which (so Plato dream'd)
Breathed glory from the earlier star it dwelt in-
Oh! for one gale from thine exulting morning,
Stirring amid the roses, where of old
Love shook the dewdrops from his glancing hair !
Could I recall the past, or had not set
The prodigal treasures of the bankrupt soul
In one slight bark upon the shoreless sea;
The yoked steer, after his day of toil,
Forgets the goad and rests: to me alike
Or day or night : ambition has no rest!
Shall I resign? who can resign himself?
For custom is ourself; as drink and food
Become our bone and flesh, the aliments
Nurturing our nobler part, the mind-thoughts, dreams,
Passions, and aims, in the revolving cycle
Of the great alchymy, at length are made
Our mind itself; and yet the sweets of leisure,
An honour'd home, far from these base intrigues,
An eyrie on the heaven-kiss'd heights of wisdom

(Taking up the book. Speak to me, moralist! I'll heed thy counsel. Were it not best(Enter François hastily, and in part disguised.) RICHELIEU (flinging away the book).

Philosophy, thou liest! Quick, the despatch! Power, empire! Boy, the packet!

FRANCOIS.

Kill me, my lord.

RICHELIEU.

They knew thee, they suspected, They gave it notmuch evidence for it, to have been too presuming in an interview with Anne of Austria (the queen), and to have bitterly resented the contempt she expressed for him. The Duke of Buckingham’s frantic and Quixotic passion for the queen is well known.

FRANCOIS.

He gave it-he, the Count De Baradas; with his own hand he gave it!

RICHELIEU. Baradas. Joy! out with it!

FRANCOIS.

Listen,
And then dismiss me to the headsman.

RICHELIEU.

Ha!

FRANCOIS.

They led me to a chamber; there Orleans and Baradas, and some half score Whom I know not, were met

RICHELIEU.

Not more!

FRANCOIS.

But from The adjoining chamber broke the din of voices, The clattering tread of armed men; at times A shriller cry, that yell’d out, “ Death to Richelieu !"

RICHELIEU.

Speak not of me: thy country is in danger!
The adjoining room. So, so, a separate treason!
The one thy ruin, France! the meaner crime,
Left to their tools, my murder!

FRANCOIS.

Baradas Question'd me closedemurr'd-until, at last, O'erruled by Orleans, gave the packet, told me That life and death were in the scroll—this gold

RICHELIEU.

Gold is no proof

FRANCOIS.

And Orleans promised thousands, When Bouillon's trumpets in the streets of Paris

Rang out shrill answer; hastening from the house,
My footstep in the stirrup, Marion stole
Across the threshold, whispering “Lose no moment
Ere Richelieu have the packet: tell him, too,
Murder is in the winds of night, and Orleans
Swears, ere the dawn the cardinal shall be clay.”
She said, and, trembling, fled within; when, lo!
A hand of iron griped me; through the dark
Gleam'd the dim shadow of an armed man:
Ere I could draw, the prize was wrested from me,
And a hoarse voice gasp'd, "Spy, I spare thee, for
This steel is virgin to thy lord !" with that
He vanish’d. Scared and trembling for thy safety,
I mounted, fled, and, kneeling at thy feet,
Implore thee to acquit my faith, but not,
Like him, to spare my life.

RICHELIEU.

Who spake of life? I bade thee grasp that treasure as thine honour, A jewel worth whole hecatombs of lives! Begone, redeem thine honour; back to Marion, Or Baradas, or Orleans; track the robber, Regain the packet, or crawl on to ageAge and gray hairs like mine-and know, thou hast lost That which had made thee great and saved thy country. See me not till thou'st bought the right to seek me. Away! Nay, cheer thee; thou hast not fail'd yet; There's no such word as fail !"

FRANCOIS.

Bless you, my lord,
For that one smile! I'll wear it on my heart
To light me back to triumph.*

[Exit. RICHELIEU.

'T'he poor youth! An elder had ask'd life! I love the young ! For as great men live not in their own time,

* The fear and the hatred which Richelieu generally inspired were not shared by his dependants and those about his person, who are said “to have adored him.”-Ses domestiques le regardaient comine le meilleur des maîtres.-Le Clerc. In fact, although il étoit orgueilleux et colère, he was, en même temps, affable et plein de douceur dans l'abord ; and he was no less generous to those who served than severe to those who opposed him.

S

But the next race, so in the young my soul
Makes many Richelieus. He will win it yet.
François ! He's gone. My murder! Marion's warning!
This bravo's threat! Oh for the morrow's dawn!
I'll set my spies to work; I'll make all space
(As does the sun) a universal eye;
Huguet shall track, Joseph confess-ha! ha!
Strange, while I laugh'd I shudder'd, and ev'n now
Through the chill air the beating of my heart
Sounds like a death-watch by a sick man's pillow;
If Huguet could deceive me-hoofs without-
The gates unclose-steps near and nearer!

(Enter Julie.)

JULIE.

Cardinal ! My father! (falls at his feet.)

RICHELIEU.

Julie at this hour! and tears ! What ails thee?

JULIE.

I am safe ; I am with thee !

RICHELIEU.
Safe! Why, in all the storms of this wild world,
What wind would mar the violet ?

JULIE.

That man Why did I love him ? clinging to a breast That knows no shelter ?

Listen: late at noon, The marriage-day, ev'n then no more a lover, He left me coldly; well, I sought my chamber To weep and wonder, but to hope and dream. Sudden a mandate from the king, to attend Forthwith his pleasure at the Louvre.

RICHELIEU.

Ha! You did obey th summons; and the king Reproach'd your hasty nuptials.

[ocr errors]

JULIE.

Were that all! He frown'd and chid; proclaim'd the bond unlawful ; Bade me not quit my chamber in the palace, And there at night, alone-this night-all stillHe sought my presence--dared—thou read'st the heart, Read mine! I cannot speak it!

RICHELIEU.

He a king, You, woman; well, you yielded !

JULIE.

Cardinal,
Dare you say “yielded ?” Humbled and abash'd,
He from the chamber crept—this mighty Louis ;
Crept like a baffled felon! Yielded ! Ah!
More royalty in woman's honest heart
Than dwells within the crowned majesty
And sceptred anger of a hundred kings!
Yielded! Heavens! yielded !

RICHELIEU.

To my breast, close, close ! The world would never need a Richelieu, if Men-bearded, maild men—the lords of earthResisted flattery, falsehood, avarice, pride, As this poor child with the dove's innocent scorn Her sex's tempters, vanity and power! He left you : well!

JULIE.

Then came a sharper trial !
At the king's suit the Count de Baradas
Sought me to sooth, to fawn, to flatter, while
On his smooth lip insult appear'd more hateful
For the false mask of pity : letting fall
Dark hints of treachery, with a world of sighs
That Heaven had granted to so base a lord
The heart whose coldest friendship were to him
What Mexico to misers! Stung at last
By my disdain, the dim and glimmering sense
of his cloak'd words broke into bolder light,
And THEN-ah! then, my haughty spirit fail'd me!
Then I was weak-wept-oh! such bitter tears !

« ПредишнаНапред »