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My country's ruin-seen an ancient state
Struck down by scepters_trampled on by kings,
And fraud and rapine registered in blood,
As Europe's public law, e'en on the authority
Of thrones—this, have I seen-yes, like a slave,
A coward, have I seen what well might burst
The patriot's heart, and from its scabbard force
The feeblest sword that ever slumbered at
A courtier's side—yet have I never stirred
My country-never roused her sons to vengeance,
But rather used the sway their love allowed me,
To calm the boiling tumult of their hearts,
Which else had chafed and foamed to desperation.
Hoh. The state is much beholden to Alasco;
And we, her humble instruments, must bow,
And to his interference owe our safety.
Alas. Tyrants, proud lord, are never safe, nor should be;
The ground is mined beneath them as they tread;
Haunted by plots, cabals, conspiracies,
Their lives are long convulsions, and they shake,
Surrounded by their guards and garrisons.
Hoh. Your patriot care, sir, would redress all wrongs
That spring from harsh restraints of law and justice.
Your virtue prompts you to make war on tyrants,
And like another Brutus free your country.
Alas. Why, if there were some slanderous tool of state-
Some taunting, dull, unmannered deputy-
Some district despot prompt to play the Tarquin,-
By heaven! I well could act the Roman part,
And strike the brutal tyrant to the earth,
Although he wore the mask of Hohendahl.
Hoh. Ha! darest thou thus provoke me, insolent! (Draws.) Wal. (Advancing between them.) Rash boy, forbear! My
lord, you are too hasty.
Alas. This roof is your protection from my arm.
Wal. Methinks, young man, a friend of mine might claim
More reverence at your hands.
Alas. Thy friend ! by heaven!
That sacred title might command my worship;
But cover not with such a shield, his baseness
His country's foe can be the friend of no man.
Wal. Alasco, this is wild and mutinous ;
An outrage, marking deep and settled spleen
To just authority.
Show me authority in honor's garb,
And I will down upon the humblest knee
That ever homage bent to sovereign sway:
But shall I reverence pride, and hate, and rapine ?
No. When oppression stains the robe of state,
And power's a whip of scorpions in the hands,
Of heartless knaves, to lash the o'erburthened back
Of honest industry, the loyal blood
Will turn to bitterest gall, and the o'ercharged heart
Explode in execration.
Hoh. (Going to the side scene.) My servants, there,
Audacious railer! thou provokest my wrath
Beyond forbearance. (Two of the Baron's servants enter.)
Seize the Count Alasco-
I here proclaim him rebel to the state.
Alas. (Drawing and putting himself on his defense.) Slaves! At your peril
, venture on my sword!
Wal. My lord! my lord! this is my house-my castle ;
You do not-cannot mean this violation :
Beneath the sanctuary of a soldier's roof,
His direst foe is safe.
Hoh. But not his sovereign's;
You would not screen a traitor from the law!
Wal. Nor yield a victim, sir, to angry power :
He came in confidence, and shall depart
In safety.--Here my honor guards him.
Your loyalty, my friend, seems rather nice,
And stands upon punctilio.
Wal. Yes, the loyalty
That is not nice, in honor and good faith,
May serve the tool--the slave-the sycophant-
But does not suit the soldier.
Hoh. Colonel Walsingham,
My station must prescribe my duty here :
-To the attendants.)
Bear hence your prisoner, and await my orders.
Wal. (Drawing and interposing.) Ha! touch him, ruffians,
on your lives! By heaven!
This arm has not yet lost its vigor. Hence-
Hence, miscreants, from my presence, lest my rage
Forget that you are unworthy of my sword.
(The Baron motions his attendants to retire.)
My lord, this is an outrage on my honor-
Alasco, like a father I have loved thee,
And hoped a worn-out soldier might have found
Fit refuge, in the winter of his age,
Beneath thy sheltering virtues ; but no more :
I have now beheld thee attainted of a crime,
Which blots thy fame and honor in my sight,
Beyond the blackest hue of felon trespass.
You've heard the charge, and as you may, must answer it.
Alas. Had conscious wrong drawn down upon my head
This solemn censure from a friend like thee,
It had been death to hear it : But, thank heaven!
My soul in honor, as in duty clear,
Indignant triumphs o'er unjust reproach,
And holds her seat unshaken. For this lord
This minion of usurped authority,
He knows I hold him less in fear than scorn,
And when, and where he dares, will answer him.
SALADIN—MALEK ADHEL—ATTENDANT.-Anonymous. Attendant. A stranger craves admittance to your highness. Saladin. Whence comes he ?
Atten. That I know not-
Enveloped in a vestment of strange form,
His countenance is hidden, but his step,
His lofty port, his voice in vain disguised,
Proclaim—if that I dared pronounce it,-
Atten. Thy royal brother.
Sal. Bring him instantly. (Exit Attendant.)
Now with his specious, smooth, persuasive tongue,
Fraught with some wily subterfuge, he thinks
To dissipate my anger—he shall die.
(Enter Attendant, and Malek Adhel.) Sal. Leave us together. (Exit Attendant.) (Aside.) I should
know that form.
Now summon all thy fortitude, my soul,
Nor, though thy blood cry for him, spare the guilty.
(Aloud.) Well, stranger, speak; but first unveil thyself,
For Saladin must view the form that fronts him,
Malek Adhel. Behold it, then!
Sal. I see a traitor's visage.
Mal. Ad. A brother's.
Saladin owns no kindred with a villain.
Mal. Ad. Oh, patience, heaven! Had any tongue but thine Uttered that word, it ne'er should speak another.
Sal. And why not now? Can this heart be more pierced.
By Malek Adhel's sword than by his deeds?
Oh, thou hast made a desert of this bosom!
For open candor, planted sly disguise ;
For confidence, suspicion ; and the glow
Of generous friendship, tenderness, and love,
For ever banished. Whither can I turn,
When he by blood, by gratitude, by faith,
By every tie bound to support, forsakes me ?
Who, who can stand, when Malek Adhel falls ?
Henceforth I turn me from the sweets of love,
The smiles of friendship--and this glorious world,
In which all find some heart to rest upon,
Shall be to Saladin a cheerless void
His brother has betrayed him !
Mal. Ad. Thou art softened;
I am thy brother then ; but late thou saidst
My tongue can never utter the base title.
Sal. Was it traitor ? True
Thou hast betrayed me in my fondest hopes.
Villain? 'Tis just; the title is appropriate.
Dissembler ? 'Tis not written in thy face;
No, nor imprinted on that specious brow,
But on this breaking heart the name is stamped,
For ever stamped, with that of Malek Adhel.
Thinkest thou I'm softened? By Mohammed, these hands
Should crush these aching eyeballs, ere a tear
Fall from them at thy fate !—Oh monster, monster!
The brute that tears the infant from its nurse
Is excellent to thee, for in his form
The impulse of his nature may be read, -
But thou, so beautiful, so proud, so noble,
Oh, what a wretch art thou! Oh! can a term
In all the various tongues of man be found
To match thy infamy?
Mal. Ad. Go on, go on;
'Tis but a little while to hear thee, Saladin,
And, bursting at thy feet, this heart will prove
Its penitence at least.
Sal. That were an end
Too noble for a traitor; the bowstring is
A more appropriate finish—thou shalt die!
Mal. Ad. And death were welcome at another's mandate!
What, what have I to live for? Be it so,
If that in all thy armies can be found
An executing hand.
Sal. Oh, doubt it not!
They're eager for the office. Perfidy,
So black as thine, effaces from their minds
All memory of thy former excellence.
Mal. Ad. Defer not then their wishes. Saladin,
If e'er this form was joyful to thy sight,
This voice seemed grateful to thine ear, accede
To my last prayer-Oh, lengthen not this scene,
To which the agonies of death were pleasing-
Let me die speedily.
Sal. This very hour!
(Aside.) For oh! the more I look upon that face,
The more I hear the accents of that voice,
The monarch softens, and the judge is lost
In all the brother's weakness; yet such guilt,
Such vile ingratitude, it calls for vengeance,
And vengeance it shall have ! What ho! who waits there?
(Enter Attendant.) Atten. Did your highness call ?
Sal. Assemble quickly
My forces in the court !—tell them they come
To view the death of yonder bosom-traitor :
And bid them mark, that he who will not spare
His brother when he errs, expects obedience,
Silent obedience from his followers. (Exit Attendant.)
Mal. Ad. Now, Saladin,
The word is given-I have nothing more
To fear from thee, my brother—I am not
About to crave a miserable life-
Without thy love, thy honor, thy esteem,
Life were a burthen to me: think not, either,
The justice of thy sentence I would question:
But one request now trembles on my tongue,
One wish still clinging round the heart, which soon
Not even that shall torture—will it then,
Thinkest thou, thy slumbers render quieter,
Thy waking thoughts more pleasing, to reflect,
That when thy voice had doomed a brother's death,