Obrázky na stránke

not nave acted better! Why, had you not elected them, Appius would have gone without his left hand, and each of his two feet.

Ser. Out! you are dishonest !
Den. Ha!
Ser. What would content you!
Der. A post in a hot battle! Out, you cur! Do you talk to me?

Citizen. (From behind.) Down with him! he does nothing but insult the people. (The people approach Dentatus threateningly.)

(Enter Icilius suddenly.) Icil. Stand back! Who is it that says, down with Siccius Dentatus ? Down with him! 'Tis what the enemy could never do; and shall we do it for them ? Who uttered that dishonest word ? Who uttered it, I say? Let him answer a fitter, though less worthy mate, Lucius Icilius !

Citizens. Stand back, and hear Icilius !

. What! hav'nt I voted for the decemvirs, and do I snarl at his jests? Has he not a right to jest ? the good, honest Siccius Dentatus, that, alone, at the head of the veterans, van: quished the Æqui for you. Has he not a right to jest ? For shame! get to your houses ! The worthy Dentatus! Cheer for him, if you are Romans! Cheer for him before you go! Cheer for him, I say.

(Exeunt citizens, shouting.) Den. And now, what thanks do you expect from me, Icilius? Icil. None.

Den. By Jupiter, young man, had you thus stepped before me in the heat of battle, I would have cloven you

down-but I'm obliged to you, Icilius—and hark you! There's a piece of furniture in the house of a friend of mine, that's called Virginius, I think you've set your heart upon-dainty enough-yet not amiss for a young man to covet. Ne'er lose your hopes ! He may

be brought into the mind to part with it. As to these curs, I question which I value more, their fawnings or their snarlings. But I thank you, boy—Thanks, Icilius.

Icil. Thanks to me? No, Dentatus—Icilius is the debtor. So, a fair good-morrow, noble Roman.

Den. Good-morrow, boy. (Exit Icilius.) Don't lose your hopes. (Enter Virginius.) Noble Virginius, I am glad to see you! This meeting's to my wish._I have news for you—brave news.

Vir. Well, your news, Dentatus—is it of Rome?

Den. More violence and wrong from these new masters of ours, our noble decemvirs—these demi-gods of the good people of Romne! No man's property is safe from them.

The senators themselves, scared at their audacious rule, withdraw themselves to their villas, and leave us to our fate.

Vir. Rome never saw such days!


Den. And she'll see worse, unless I fail in my reckoning, -But how is thy daughter—the fair Virginia ? I was just wishing for a daughter.

Vir. A plague, you mean.
Den. I am sure you should not say so.
Vir. Well—had you a daughter, what would you do with her?

Den. Do with her? I'd give her to Icilius. I should have been just now torn to pieces, but for his good offices. The gentle citizens, that are driven about by the decemvir's lictors like a herd of tame oxen, and with most beast-like docility, only low applauses to them in return, would have done me the kindness to knock my brains out; but the noble Icilius bearded them singly, and railed them into temper. Had I a daughter worthy of such a husband, he should have such a wife, and a patrician's dower along with her.

Vir. Dentatus, Icilius is a young man whom I honor, but he has had, as thou knowest, a principal hand in helping us to our decemvirs. It may be that he is what I would gladly think him ; but I must see him clearly-clearly, Dentatus. Ah! (Looking off :) Here comes the youth—'tis well!

(Enter Icilius.) Vir. Boy, Icilius ! Thou seest this hand ? It is a Roman's, boy; 'Tis sworn to liberty-It is the friend Of honor-Dost thou think so ?

Icil. Do I think
Virginius owns that hand ?

Vir. Then you'll believe
It has an oath deadly to tyranny,
And is the foe of falsehood! by the gods,
Knew it the lurking-place of treason, though
It were a brother's heart, 'twould drag the caitiff
Forth. Darest thou take that hand ?

Icil. I dare, Virginius.

Vir. Then take it! is it weak in thy embrace ?
Returns it not thy gripe? Thou wilt not hold
Faster by it, than it will hold by thee!
I overheard thee say, thou wast resolved
To win my friendship quite. Thou canst not win
What thou hast won already!
And hark you, sir,
At your convenient time, appoint a day
Your friends and kinsmen may confer with me-
There is a bargain I would strike with you.
Come on, I say; come on. Your hand, Dentatus.





Welcome! my noble friends, we meet in joy! Now may we bear ourselves erect, resuming The kingly port of freemen! Who shall dare, After this proof of slavery's dread recoil, To weave us chains again ?—Ye have done well.

Montalba. We have done well. There needs no choral song,
No shouting multitudes to blazon forth
Our stern exploits.

The silence of our foes
Doth vouch enough, and they are laid to rest
Deep as the sword could make it. Yet our task
Is still but half achieved. Determined hearts,
And deeds to startle earth, are yet required,
To make the mighty sacrifice complete.
Knowest thou that we have traitors in our councils ?

Proc. I know some voice in secret must have warned
De Couci. And if there be such things
As may to death add sharpness, yet delay

which gives release; if there be power
In execration, to call down the fires
Of yon avenging heaven, whose rapid shafts
But for such guilt were aimless; be they heaped
Upon the traitor's head-Scorn make his name
Her mark for ever!

Mont. In our passionate blindness,
We send forth curses, whose deep stings recoil
Oft on ourselves.

Proc. Whatever fate hath of ruin
Fall on his house !—What! to resign again
That freedom for whose sake our souls have now
Engrained themselves in blood !—Why, who is he
That hath devised this treachery?
Who should be so vile ?-
Alberti ?-In his eye is that which ever
Shrinks from encountering mine ?—But no! his race
Is of our noblest!-Urbino ?/Conti ?-No!
They are too deeply pledged.— There is one name more!
I cannot utter it! Speak your thoughts.
Montalba! Guido !- Who should this man be?

Mont. Why what Sicilian youth unsheathed, last night,
His sword to aid our foes, and turned its edge


Against his country's chiefs ?-He that did this,
May well be deemed for guiltier treason ripe.

Proc. And who is he?
Mont. Nay, ask thy son.

Proc. My son !
What should he know of such a recreant heart?
Speak, Guido! Thou art his friend!

Guido. I would not wear
The brand of such a name!
Who but he
Could warn De Couci, or devise the guilt
These scrolls reveal ? (Showing papers.) Hath not the traitor still
Sought, with his fair and specious eloquence,
To win us from our purpose ? All things seem
Leagued to unmask him.

Proc. There was one
Who mourned for being childless !-Let him now
Feast o'er his children's graves, and I will join
The revelry!

Mont. (Aside.) You shall be childless too!

Proc. Was it you, Montalba ?-Now rejoice! I say.
There is no name so near you that its stains
Should call the fevered and indignant blood
To your dark cheek !-But I will dash to earth
The weight that presses on my heart, and then
Be glad as thou art.

Mont. What means this, my lord ?
Who hath seen gladness on Montalba's mien?

Proc. Why, should not all be glad who have no sons
To tarnish their bright name?

Mont. I am not used
To bear with mockery.

Proc. Friend! By yon high heaven,
I mock thee not !—'tis a proud fate, to live
Alone and unallied.
Oh! I could laugh to think
Of the joy that riots in baronial halls,
When the word comes-“ A son is born !"-A son !
They should say thus—“He that shall knit


brow To furrows, not of years; and bid your eye Quail its proud glance; to tell the earth its shame, Is born, and so, rejoice!"--Then might we feast, And know the cause :--Were it not excellent?

Mont. This is all idle. There are deeds to do; Arouse thee, Procida !


Proc. Why, am I not
Calm as immortal justice ?-She can strike,
And yet be passionless-and thus will I.
I know thy meaning:-Deeds to do !—’tis well.
They shall be done ere thought on.- --Go

There is a youth who calls himself my son,
His name is Raimond—in his eye is light
That shows like truth—but be ye not deceived !
Bear him in chains before us. We will sit
To-day in judgment, and the skies shall see
The strength which girds our nature.— Will not this
Be glorious, brave Montalba ?-Linger not,
Ye tardy messengers ! for there are things
Which ask the speed of storms. (Exeunt all but Montalba.)

Mont. Now this is well!
I hate this Procida ; for he hath won
In all our councils that ascendancy
And mastery over bold hea which should have been
Mine by a thousand claims.-Had he the strength
like mine ?-No! for that name-

ne-his country
He strikes—my vengeance hath a deeper fount:
But there's dark joy in this !-and fate hath barred
My soul from every other.
SCENE 2.-Hall of a Public building.- Procida, Montalba,

Guido and others, seated as on a tribunal. Procida. The morn lowered darkly, but the sun hath now, With fierce and angry splendor, through the clouds Burst forth, as if impatient to behold This, our high triumph.-Lead the prisoner in.

(Raimond is brought in fettered and guarded.) Why, what a bright and fearless brow is here! Is this man guilty ?-look on him, Montalba !

Montalba. Be firm. Should justice falter at a look ?

Proc. No, thou sayest well. Her eyes are filleted,
Or should be so. Thou that dost call thyself,
But no! I will not breathe a traitor's name-
Speak! thou art arraigned of treason.

Raimond. I arraign
You, before whom I stand, of darker guilt,
In the bright face of heaven; and your own hearts
Give echo to the charge. Your very looks
Have taken the stamp of crime, and seem to shrink
With a perturbed and haggard wildness, back
From the too-searching light.-Why, what hath wrought

« PredošláPokračovať »