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Good sooth-a gallant presence! it should speak
The embassador methinks, and not the spy.
Thou comest with message from our mighty masters:
Doubtless 'tis so:-in sending thee they deemed
That lofty carriage could not but suffice
At once to fright us into good behavior.
Fair youth-thy noble pleasure?
Fitz-Edward. Scornful man—
I reck not of thy taunts,—who merits not
May well despise them; but before I tell
The purport of my presence here, resolve me—
Art thou the chief of this insurgent troop,
Or whom do I address?
Cas. Ask of thy country: :
Ask at whose uttered name in times of yore
The stoutest of her warriors shook with dread;
Whom even yet perhaps she chiefly fears.
Ask who it is that still hath stood erect
E'en in the midst of kneeling Cambria:
Who still hath scorned her conqueror—disowned—
Despised-spurned-baffled him,—and I am he!
Fitz-Ed. Is't possible?-Caswallon!
What! doth it shake thee?-Is the gulf that gapes. Beneath thy tottering feet, at length revealed? Thou art Caswallon's captive.
Think not that I stoop to deprecate your wrath.
My life is in your hands :-I am unarmed.
Use your advantage as you may-I reck not,
Yet-though the assertion now, I blush to think it,
May somewhat show like the device of fear,-
Yet truth demands my utterance to declare
I did not seek your hills with hostile aim—
I am not what you think me.-
Thou art a Saxon?—and thy coming hither
Doubtless it was-
Fitz-Ed. To serve ye-yes, to save.
For think not that your rising is unknown:
Or that the Argus hate of Mortimer
Is slumbering 'mid your councils.
'Twas pity for your past, your present woes That brought me hither. Oh! it is most true Ye have had wrongs—
Fitz-Ed. And heaven's my witness
That I have felt them to my inmost soul.
That I have ne'er forgot the ties that bind me
Το my dear—my native land, nor yet-
Thine!-did I hear aright ?—and thou art then-
Fitz-Ed. E'en like thyself, a Cambrian.
Hear him!—he heralds forth his own deep shame!
Pranked in the trappings of his guilt, he comes
To beard us with the boast-the very boast
Of his apostate baseness!
Fitz-Ed. Spare to chide
Till thou hast heard my story.—I have fought
Abroad beneath the banner, it is true,
Of English Edward: true, to him I owe
My name-my knighthood-all that I possess.
Since from my earliest years, while yet an infant,
Found after Deva's fight, I still have lived—
Cas. That fight!-oh name it not! (Covering his face, and then regarding Fitz-Edward with softened looks.)
Art thou a sufferer too from that same fight?
Yet do not tell me. Oh, thou hast recalled
Days of despair and images of horror!-
A murdered wife and son. No more no more.
And thou wert ravished from thy parents, youth?
So ran thy tale.
Fitz-Ed. 'Tis all I have to tell.
"Tis all I know, that in the sanctuary
Of a deserted convent, chance revealed me
Beside a dying mother.
Cas. Heavenly powers!
But this is strange-and stranger thoughts provokes.
A convent!-'Twas to such a place―The time too
Exactly suiting.-A deserted convent!-
The name ;-the name?
Fitz-Ed. What can this mean?
Cas. (With impatient eagerness.) The name?
Fitz-Ed. I have been told-
Cas. Was it St. Cybi's?
You then have heard
Cas. It was! and I am wild
With hope new risen as from the vanquished tomb! (Re-Enter Mador.)
Mad. My lord, the assembled bands—
Cas. I know.-Come hither,
Dost thou observe that youth ?—his shape-his mien-
Nay-look upon him: for by all my hopes
Here and hereafter, I do think that youth
To be the child of my Guideria,
My long-lost living son.
Mad. That Saxon knight,
Fitz-Ed. (Aside.) Amazement mocks my every sense!
Why should he eye me with such altered looks ?—
Haply he knew my parents.-Ha!-dread chief-
If aught, as thy demeanor doth denote,
Aught of my birth thou knowest, I do beseech thee
Declare it. Have I-oh! I fear to ask-
Have I a father?-thou art silent. Speak.
Restore to me a father;-or if fate
Hath envious snatched him from these filial arms,
Restore to me a name, and I will bless thee!
Cas. Yet, yet, my heart, thou art too small to hold
A tide of bliss so copious!
One word more.—
Thou namedst an expiring mother.
By a chance arrow, as I since have heard,
While flying with myself, her infant charge,
From the victorious foe-to earth she fell:
And from her arms, that could no longer hold,
Unwilling gave me up-gave me to him
Who led that day the assailant host, and now
With sorrowing heart stood o'er her as she died.
Cas. Go on-she spoke to him.
Fitz-Ed. She fain had spoken,
But could not-could not thank him for his oath
That nought should harm me, but with trembling lips
Just breathed the name of Armyn, and expired.
Cas. The name of Armyn! I can doubt no longer.
Off!-let me hold him to my bursting heart:
My own-my living son!
Fitz-Ed. Mysterious heaven!
Art thou my father!-thou art-thy looks-
These clasping hands-all-all proclaim the truth.
Oh! let me kneel-
Cas. (Preventing him.) No-to my bosom ever.
And am I still a father? Haste thou, Mador,
Spread wide my bliss-thou knowest to whom it will be
Most grateful. (Exit Mador.)
My bold Armyn, dost thou weep?
Fitz-Ed. A most degenerate softness that I blush at— But 'tis confessed-my heart is all too weak,
Unmoved to stem this sudden surge of joy.
Cas. Alas! my son,-now as I look
Past times live o'er again. The veiling mist
That years have shed o'er my young manhood's morn
Doth break away, and all its hopes and joys
In shining prospect stand revealed before me.
I see thee still an infant, as when last
We parted; when from off my brow I put
1ts dragon-crested terrors, and impressed
A father's hasty farewell on thy cheek.
Oh! then, amid her tears, thy mother smiled.
Let from my thought what followed. I have much,
My son, to pour into thy listening ear;
But moments now are precious. Go we hence,
And on the way I will discourse with thee.
Thy fate is glorious; thou shalt uplift
To its proud state and ancient sovereignty
The trampled standard of thy country's fame!-
From the mid-eyry of her hundred hills,
Shouting triumphant o'er her tyrant foes,
Thy mother-land shall vaunt of thee for ever!
Thy hand. Caswallon welcomes his brave son
To the last sole retreat of Cambrian freedom.
A priest! what means this most unwelcome visit?
Gonzales. Who questions thus a son of the holy church?
Look on these walls, whose stern, time-stained brows
Frown like relentless justice on their inmates!
Listen!-that voice is echo's dull reply
Unto the rattling of your chains, my lord:-
What should a priest do here?
Bour. Ay, what, indeed!—
Unless you come to soften down these stones
With your discourse, and teach the tedious echo
A newer lesson: trust me, that is all
Your presence, father, will accomplish here.
Gon. Oh! sinful man! and is thy heart so hard,
That I might easier move thy prison stones!
Know, then, my mission-death is near at hand!
Bour. Go to go to! I have fought battles, father,
Where death and I have met in full close contact,
And parted, knowing we should meet again;
Go prate to others about skulls and graves;
Thou never didst in heat of combat stand,
Or know what good acquaintance, soldiers have
With the pale scarecrow-death!
Gon. (Aside.) Ah! thinkest thou so?
Hear me, thou hard of heart!
They who go forth to battles, are led on
With sprightly trumpets and shrill clamorous clarions;
The drum doth roll its double notes along,
Echoing the horses' tramp; and the sweet fife
Runs through the yielding air in dulcet measure,
That makes the heart leap in its case of steel!
Thou shalt be knelled unto thy death by bells,
Ponderous and iron-tongued, whose sullen toll
Shall cleave thy aching brain, and on thy soul
Fall with a leaden weight: the muffled drum
Shall mutter round thy path like distant thunder;
Instead of the war-cry, the wild battle-roar,—
That swells upon the tide of victory,
And seems unto the conqueror's eager ear,
Triumphant harmony of glorious discords,
There shall be voices cry foul shame on thee!
And the infuriate populace shall clamor
To heaven for lightnings on thy rebel head!
Bour. Monks love not bells, which call them
In the dead noon of night, when they would snore,
Rather than watch: but, father, I care not,
E'en if the ugliest sound I e'er did hear—
Thy raven voice-croak curses o'er my grave.
Gon. What! death and shame! alike you
Then, mercy! use thy soft, persuasive arts,
And melt this stubborn spirit! Be it known
To you, my lord, the queen hath sent me hither.
Bour. Then get thee hence again, foul, pandering priest!