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THE RETURN OF GRACCHUS
From Act I, Scene III.
But mother, you
Methinks are hardly glad to know he's coming.
Your cheek has found no flush of expectation,
Your eye no glance of triumph. There you sit
And argue calmly, while I am mad
To strain him to my heart.
Your love, my child, Is wild with youth. Mine, sobered with life's age, By thought and sorrow tamed to curb itself, Is therefore not less true, and might perchance Die for the loved one, full as soon as yours.
But tell me, mother, when you heard it said
Your son was coming home, why did a tear
Start to your eye? And while my poor heart beat
And fluttered with the wildness of its hope,
Why did you simply wipe that tear away,
Nor ever even say, "I'm glad to know it"?
Surely you love him, mother!
But see, the loved one here!
Ah! my sweet bird, Who watchest for thy mate, now tune thy song To welcome home the wanderer. Mother, here I bring you home the heart whose every thought Hath been for you, this dear one, and for Rome.
But thou art strange! didst promise right This is not he!
Why truly, mother, thou
That I had lost my love.
This bearded soldier, seamed and browned in the wars!
What, saucy one! Would'st thou disown thy lord?
Nay, I am used to keep a stricter rule,
And will allow no mutiny in camp.
So rebel, come, that I may punish thee
With this, and this—and thus with kisses plague thee!
Nay; get thee gone. I must perforce admit,
By these rough ways, thou'rt still the feather-head
Who left me here, some many years agone.
I thought thou hadst grown wiser.
How's this, mother?
You have not been half strict enough, I fear,
In training of this sauce-box. But pardon,
I am a fool; for I stand trifling here,
The while your grave look holds some big import.
What is it, mother? Speak. I too have learned
To wrap me much in deeper thoughts of late.
Nay, Gracchus-prithee, love! nay, not that look!
Thou mak'st me thus already weep to think
That thou art come again to this stern Rome.
What, have you not grown older? Still the same?
My little pet must pout her rosy lip,
And sulk at business, when it rivals love!
Smooth down thy ruffled feathers, pretty one;
For surely not my wish, but need, doth force
My thought aside so soon, to wander from thee.
Mother, your anxious look should find its words.
Unwillingly, with harshness thus to break
Upon our happy meeting; but I fear
Each moment lost is so much life-blood drawn,
Weakening your cause, to make it hang its head
As evil-conscienced, or as sick at heart.
Rome's all a-fire; and your best lovers now
Half-turned against you, pondering, shake their heads.
As doubtful of your course.
What! would they wish.
To see me drag out life the Senate's drudge?
To rot away my soul, like worthless carcass
In the highway cast, for daws and crows to pick at!
Bear down my spirit to feebleness of age!
All for the profit of the proud usurpers,
Who from between our teeth the hard-earned bread
Snatch wantonly, to make them luxuries
At which the starving people stare, and wonder
What are their uses and their purposes!
Be cool be cool! and heed that you do not,
In blaming one extreme, to the other rush.
But for the present, think first of yourself,
And purge yourself from rashness. Claim your right,
Making appeal to the censors of your cause.
Where you are slandered, charge the slander back,
And cleanse the name that envy seeks to blot.
Mother, you're right. I loiter here too long.
Farewell, Licinia, I'll be quickly back.
Send your best wishes with me and take heart.
From Act II, Scene II.
I knew it! bless the Gods! We're now almost
The people's voice
Upon the ladder's top.
Will hoist up Gracchus!
Then, good luck, his friends!
Spite of the Senate they will make him tribune.
Ay; to be sure they will! and he will make
A glorious tribune too! Pray ye, remember
I've always been his friend. No shuffler, I,
To catch the passing time. I've ever kept
My service in his cause, and I know too,
He notes my merits kindly.
Gracchus is our tribune!
The votes are counted.
Huzza for Caius Gracchus!
I told you so! I'm one of his best friends!
Huzza for Caius Gracchus !
A tribune who, as cunningly as need be,
May pose the law against your Livius Drusus.
Ay, let our lordly rulers champ the bit
And fret their hearts out; 'tis not like that Gracchus
Will abdicate the tribuneship to please them.
He's fairly mounted and he'll ride them down.
'Twill do me good to see the proud patrician
Bending beneath the spur, plunging and foaming,
Like high-bred courser vaulting from the will
Of who would ride him: forced again to crouch,
Groaning in mingled rage and agony,
Till whip and spur at last have done their work,
And the proud blood is tamed to bow its neck,
Offering its head to meet the steady rein
Which leads him to his task.
From Act II, Scene IV.
But you are too unruly. You have schooled
The citizens to riot. When they should
By hardy temperance, steady perseverance,
Push on to their great end, you rouse them idly
To drinking and excess. Those powers of mind
Which to a resolute effort should be turned
You make them drown in license and debauch.
Why, one would think, you had not yet unlearned
Your school-boy lesson; that you truly deemed
The popular majesty an enthroned thought,
And not a joke to gull the dirty crowd
And coax the votes from its high mightiness.
You word it well; an enthroned thought it is!
The might of mind, whose myriad streamlets meet,
One gathered flood of condensed light to form.
Each dirty rivulet its ripple brings,
Which in the sweeping current mingling, drops
Its dust and dross. Its purer part goes on,
And on, and on-until at last the whole,
By the great alchemy of reason, flows
Pure as it must be, from its origin.
Thought sprang from God, and all bestained with earth,