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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.
Wal. Slander, Alasco!
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 ?
Manœuvring miscreants in the form of war,
And methodizing tumult?
Alas. Have I done this?
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
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 chased 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
(Two of the Baron's servants enter.) Seize the Count AlascoI 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.)
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.
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.