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Cat. (Turning away.) Thus to be, like the scorpion, ringed with fire,
Till I sting mine own heart! (Aside.) There is no hope!
Aur. One hope there is, worth all the rest-Revenge!
The time is harassed, poor, and discontent;
Your spirit practised, keen, and desperate,-
The senate full of feuds-the city vext
With petty tyranny-the legions wronged-
Cat. Yet, who has stirred? Aurelius, you paint the air With passion's pencil.
Aur. Were my will a sword!
Cat. Hear me, bold heart. The whole gross blood of
Could not atone my wrongs! I'm soul-shrunk, sick,
And now my mind is fixed
For Libyia there to make companionship
Rather of bear and tiger,-of the snake,—
The lion in his hunger,-than of man!
Aur. I had a father once, who would have plunged
Rome in the Tiber for an angry look!
You saw our entrance from the Gaulish war,
When Sylla fled?
Cat. My legion was in Spain.
Aur. Rome was all eyes; the ancient tottered forth; The cripple propped his limbs beside the wall;
The dying left his bed to look-and die.
The way before us was a sea of heads;
The way behind a torrent of brown spears:
So on we rode, in fierce and funeral pomp,
Through the long, living streets.
Cat. Those triumphs are but gewgaws.
What is it? Dust and smoke. I've done with life!
Aur. Before that eve-one hundred senators-
And fifteen hundred knights, had paid-in blood,
The price of taunts, and treachery, and rebellion!
Were my tongue thunder-I would cry, Revenge !
Cat. No more of this! Begone and leave me !
There is a whirling lightness in my brain,
That will not now bear questioning. Away!
(Aurelius moves slowly towards the door.) Where are our veterans now? Look on these walls; I cannot turn their tissues into life.
Where are our revenues-our chosen friends?
Are we not beggars? Where have beggars friends?
I see no swords and bucklers on these floors!
I shake the state! I-What have I on earth
But these two hands? Must I not dig or starve ?
Come back! I had forgot. My memory dies,
I think, by the hour. Who sups with us to-night?
Let all be of the rarest,-spare no cost.
If 'tis our last ;-it may be-let us sink
In sumptuous ruin, with wonderers round us!
Our funeral pile shall send up amber smokes;
We'll burn in myrrh, or-blood!
Douglas. Oh jealousy, thou aggregate of woes!
Were there no hell, thy torments would create one.
But yet she may be guiltless-may? she must.
How beautiful she looked! pernicious beauty!
Yet innocent as bright seemed the sweet blush
That mantled on her cheek. But not for me,
But not for me, those breathing roses blow!
And then she wept-What! can I bear her tears?
Well-let her weep-her tears are for another:
Oh, did they fall for me, to dry their streams
I'd drain the choicest blood that feeds this heart,
Nor think the drops I shed were half so precious. (He stands in a musing posture. Enter Lord Raby.)
Raby. Sure I mistake—am I in Raby Castle?
Impossible; that was the seat of smiles;
And cheerfulness and joy were household gods.
I used to scatter pleasures when I came,
And every servant shared his lord's delight;
But now suspicion and distrus♦ dwell here,
And discontent maintains a sullen sway.
Where is the smile unfeigned, the jovial welcome,
Which cheered the sad, beguiled the pilgrim's pain,
And made dependency forget its bonds?
Where is the ancient, hospitable hall,
Whose vaulted roof once rung with harmless mirth,
Where every passing stranger was a guest,
And every guest a friend? I fear me much,
If once our nobles scorn their rural seats,
Their rural greatness, and their vassals' love,
Freedom and English grandeur are no more.
Dou. (Aavancing.) My lord, you are welcome.
Raby. Sir, I trust I am;
But yet methinks I shall not feel I'm welcome
Till my Elwina bless me with her smiles;
She was not wont with lingering step to meet me,
Or greet my coming with a cold embrace;
Now, I extend my longing arms in vain :
My child, my darling, does not come to fill them.
Oh, they were happy days, when she would fly
To meet me from the camp, or from the chase,
And with her fondness overpay my toils!
How eager would her tender hands embrace
The ponderous armor from my war-worn limbs,
And pluck the helmet which opposed her kiss!
Dou. Oh, sweet delights, that never must be mine!
Raby. What do I hear?
Dou. Nothing: inquire no farther.
Raby. My lord, if you respect an old man's peace,
If e'er you doted on my much loved child,
As 'tis most sure you made me think you did,
Then, by the pangs which you may one day feel,
When you, like me, shall be a fond, fond father,
And tremble for the treasure of your age,
Tell me what this alarming silence means?
You sigh, you do not speak, nay more, you hear not;
Your laboring soul turns inward on itself,
As there were nothing but your own sad thoughts
Deserved regard. Does my child live?
Dou. She does.
Raby. To bless her father!
Dou. And to curse her husband!
Raby. Ah! have a care, my lord, I'm not so oldDou. Nor I so base, that I should tamely bear it; Nor am I so inured to infamy,
That I can say, without a burning blush,
She lives to be my curse!
Raby. How's this?
Dou. I thought
The lily opening to the heaven's soft dews,
Was not so fragrant, and was not so chaste.
Raby. Has she proved otherwise? I'll not believe it.
Who has traduced my sweet, my innocent child?
Yet she's too good to escape calumnious hands.
I know that slander loves a lofty mark:
It saw her soar a flight above her fellows,
And hurled its arrow to her glorious height,
To reach her heart, and bring her to the ground.
Dou. Had the harsh tongue of slander so presumed,
My vengeance had not been of that slow sort
To need a prompter; nor shall any arm,
No, not a father's, dare dispute with mine,
The privilege to die in her defense.
None dares accuse Elwina but-
Raby. But who?
Raby. (Puts his hand to his sword.) You?
Oh, spare my age's weakness!
You do not know what 'tis to be a father;
You do not know, or you would pity me,
The thousand tender throbs, the nameless feelings,
The dread to ask, and yet the wish to know,
When we adore and fear; but wherefore fear?
Does not the blood of Raby fill her veins?
Dou. Percy;-knowest thou that name?
Raby. How? What of Percy?
Dou. He loves Elwina, and my curses on him!
He is beloved again.
Dou. Not the two Theban brothers bore each other Such deep, deadly hate as I and Percy.
Raby. But tell me of my child.
Dou. (Not minding him.) As I and Percy!
When at the marriage rites, Oh rites accursed!
I seized her trembling hand, she started back,
Cold horror thrilled her veins, her tears flowed fast.
Fool that I was, I thought 'twas maiden fear:
Dull, doting ignorance: beneath those terrors,
Hatred for me, and love for Percy lurked.
Raby. What proof of guilt is this?
Dou. E'er since our marriage,
Our days have still been cold and joyless all;
Painful restraint, and hatred ill disguised,
Her sole return for my waste of fondness.
This very morn I told her 'twas your will
She should repair to court, with all those graces,
Which first subdued my soul, and still enslave it.
She begged to stay behind in Raby Castle,
For courts and cities had no charms for her.
Curse my blind love! I was again insnared,
And doted on the sweetness which deceived me.
Just at the hour she thought I should be absent,
For chance could ne'er have timed their guilt so well,
Arrived young Harcourt, one of Percy's knights,
Strictly enjoined to speak to none but her;
I seized the miscreant: hitherto he's silent;
But tortures soon shall force him to confess.
Raby. Percy is absent.—They have never met.
Dou. At what a feeble hold you grasp for succor!
Will it content me that her person's pure?
No, if her alien heart dotes on another,
She is unchaste, were not that other Percy.
Let vulgar spirits basely wait for proof,
She loves another-'tis enough for Douglas.
Raby. Be patient.
Dou. Be a tame convenient husband,
And meanly wait for circumstantial guilt?
No-I am nice as the first Cæsar was,
And start at bare suspicion. (Going.)
Raby. (Holding him.) Douglas, hear me : Thou hast named a Roman husband; if she's false, I mean to prove a Roman father.
Verner. Ah! Albert! What have you there?
Albert. My bow and arrows, Verner.
Ver. When will you use them like your father, boy? Alb. Sometime, I hope.
Ver. You brag! There's not an archer
In all Helvetia can compare with him.
Alb. But I'm his son: and when I am a man,
I may be like him. Verner, do I brag,
To think I sometime may be like my father?
If so, then is it he that teaches me;
For, ever as I wonder at his skill,
He calls me boy, and says I must do more
Ere I become a man.
Ver. May you be such
A man as he-if heaven wills, better-I'll
Not quarrel with its work; yet 'twill content me
If you are only such a man.
How I can shoot. (Goes out to fix the mark,)