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By heaven! I knew that cowl did cover o'er
Some filthy secret, that the day dared not
To pry into-out, thou unholy thing!
If for thy fame, if for thy warm heart's blood
Thou wilt not hear me, listen in the name of France, thy country!
Bour. I have no country,—
I am a traitor, cast from out the arms
Of my ungrateful country! I disown it!
Withered be all its glories, and its pride!
May it become the slave of foreign power!
May foreign princes grind its thankless children,
And make all those who are such fools, as yet
To spill their blood for it, or for its cause,
Dig it like dogs! and when they die, like dogs,
Rot on its surface, and make fat the soil,
Whose produce shall be seized by foreign hands!
Gon. You beat the air with idle words; no man
Doth know how deep his country's love lies grained
In his heart's core, until the hour of trial!
Fierce though you hurl your curse upon the land,
Whose monarchs cast ye from its bosom, yet
Let but one blast of war come echoing
From where the Ebro and the Duero roll,—
Let but the Pyrenees, reflect the gleam
Of twenty of Spain's lances, and your sword
Shall leap from out its scabbard to your hand!
Bour. Ay, priest, it shall! eternal heaven, it shall,
And its far flash, shall lighten o'er the land,
The leading star of Spain's victorious host,
But flaming like some dire portentous comet,
In the eyes of France, and her proud governors!
Be merciful, my fate, nor cut me off
Ere I have wreaked my fell desire, and made
Infamy glorious, and dishonor fame!
But, if my wayward destiny hath willed
That I should here be butchered shamefully,
By the immortal soul that is man's portion,
His hope and his inheritance, I swear,
That on the day that Spain o'erflows its bounds,
And rolls the tide of war upon these plains,
My spirit on the battle's edge shall ride;
And louder than death's music and the roar
Of combat, shall my voice be heard to shout,
On-on-to victory and carnage!
That day is come, ay, and that very hour;
Now shout your war-cry; now unsheath your sword!
I'll join the din, and make these tottering walls
Tremble and nod to hear our fierce defiance!
Nay, never start, and look upon my cowl.-
Off! vile denial of my manhood's pride!—
Nay, stand not gazing thus: it is Garcia,
Whom thou hast met in deadly fight full oft,
When France and Spain joined in the battle-field!
Beyond the Pyrenean boundary
That guards thy land are forty thousand men―
Impatient halt they there; their foaming steeds
Pawing the huge and rock-built barrier,
That bars their further course: they wait for thee:
For thee whom France hath injured and cast off:
For thee, whose blood it pays with shameful chains,
More shameful death; for thee, whom Charles of Spain
Summons to head his host, and lead them on
To conquest and to glory!
Bour. To revenge!
Why, how we dream! why look, Garcia; canst thou
With mumbled priestcraft file away these chains,
Or must I bear them into Spain with me,
That Charles may learn what guerdon valor wins
This side the Pyrenees?
Gon. It shall not need
What ho! but hold-together with this garb,
Methinks I have thrown off my prudence!
(Resumes the monk's cowl.)
Wilt thou to Spain with me in frock and cowl,
That men shall say De Bourbon is turned driveler,
And rides to war in company with monks?
Gon. Listen, the queen for her own purposes
Confided to my hand her signet-ring,
Bidding me strike your fetters off, and lead you
By secret passes to her private chamber;
But being free, so use thy freedom, that
Before the morning's dawn all search be fruitless.—
What ho! within. (Enter Jailer.)
Behold this signet-ring!
Strike off those chains, and get thee gone.
And now follow.-How's this
First for thy habit's sake; and next, because
Thou rather, in a craven priest's disguise,
Tarriest in danger in a foreign court,
Than seekest that danger in thy country's wars.
Gon. Thou art unarmed: there is my dagger; 'tis
The only weapon that I bear, lest fate
Should play me false; take it, and use it, too,
If in the dark and lonely path I lead thee,
Thou markest me halt, or turn, or make a sign
Of treachery!-but first tell me, dost know
John Count Laval?
Bour. What! Lautrec's loving friend,
Now bound for Italy, along with him?
Gon. Then the foul fiend hath mingled in my plot,
And marred it too! my life's sole aim and purpose!
Didst thou but know what damned injuries,
What foul unknightly shame and obloquy,
His sire-whose name is wormwood to my mouth-
Did heap upon our house-didst thou but know—
No matter-get thee gone—I tarry here.
And should we never meet again, when thou
Shalt hear of the most fearful deed of daring,
Of the most horrible and bloody tale,
That ever graced a beldam's midnight legend,
Or froze her gaping listeners, think of me
And my revenge! now, Bourbon, heaven speed thee!
COL. WALSINGHAM-BARON HOHENDAHL-ALASCO.-Shee.
Walsingham. Nay! my good lord! you carry this too far: Alasco leader of a band of rebels!
Hohendahl. I have it here in proof;
Rebellion wears his livery, and looks big
In promise of his aid: his followers
Are seen in midnight muster on our hills,
Rehearsing insurrection, and arrayed
In mimicry of war.
Wal. It cannot be !
By heaven it cannot be !-your spies deceive you.
I know the madness of the time has reached him,
And when the fit is on, like other fools,
He raves of liberty and public rights;
But he would scorn to lead the low cabals
Of vassal discontent and vulgar turbulence.
Hoh. My good old friend! your loyal nature yields
Unwilling credence to such crimes as these;
But I have marked Alasco well, and found,
Beneath the mask of specious seeming, still
The captious critic of authority;
Ready to clap sedition on the back,
And stir the very dregs and lees of life,
To foam upon its surface-but I see
The subject moves you.
Wal. Yes, it does, indeed!
His father was my friend and fellow-soldier;
A braver spirit never laid his life
Upon his country's altar. At my side
He fell his wife and son, with his last breath,
Bequeathing to my care-a sacred trust,
Of half its duties speedily curtailed;
For grief soon bowed the widow to her grave.
Sole guardian of Alasco, 'twas my pride
To form him like his father-and indeed,
So apt in honor and all worth he grew,
My wishes scarce kept pace with his advancement..
While yet a boy, I led him to the field,
And there such gallant spirit he displayed,
That e'en the steady veteran in the breach
Was startled at his daring. To be brief,-
I loved him as my son. (Enter Alasco.)
You were our theme, Alasco.
Alasco. A subject, sir, unworthy of discussion,
If slander have not given it a zest.
Alas. Ay, sir, slander's abroad,
And busy; few escape her-she can take
All shapes and sometimes, from the blistered lips
Of galled authority, will pour her slime
On all who dare dispute the claims of pride,
Or question the high privilege of oppression.
Hoh. Your words seem pointed, sir; and splenetic.
Alas. They are honest, my lord, and you well understand
Wal. What means this heat, Alasco? Innocence
Can fear no slander, and suspects no foe.
Alas. He's on his guard who knows his enemy, And innocence may safely trust her shield
Against an open foe; but who's so mailed
That slander shall not reach him?-coward calumny
Stabs in the dark. (Going.)
Wal. Alasco!-Count Alasco!
Alas. (Returning.) Sir, your pleasure?
Wal. "Tis now, methinks, some twenty years, or more, Since that brave man, your father, and my friend, While life scarce fluttered on his quivering lips, Consigned your youthful fortunes to my care.
Alas. And nobly, sir, your generous spirit stands Acquitted of that trust.
Wal. "Tis well!-perhaps
I may assume I've been Alasco's friend.
Alas. My friend !-my father!—say, my more than father! And let me still, with love and reverence, pay
The duty of a son.
Wal. A son of mine
Must be the soul of loyalty and honor:
A scion worthy of the stock he grafts on:
No factious mouther of imagined wrongs,
To sting and goad the maddening multitude
And set the monster loose for desolation.
Alas. Is this to me !-has slander gone so far,
As dare to taint the honor of Alasco?
Wal. How suits it with the honor of Alasco,
To plot against his country's peace, and league
With low confederates, for a lawless purpose?
Manoeuvring miscreants in the form of war,
And methodizing tumult?
Wal. How must it soothe thy father's hovering shade, To hear his name, so long to glory dear,
Profaned and sullied in sedition's mouth,
The countersign of turbulence and treason?
Alas. The proud repulse that suits a charge like this,
Preferred by lips less reverenced, I forbear.
Wal. Are you not stained
With foul disloyalty—a blot indelible?
Have you not practised on the senseless rabble,
Till disaffection breeds in every breast,
And spawns rebellion?
Alas. No! by heaven, not so!
With most unworthy patience have I borne