Page images
PDF
EPUB

These are dark times' I have not been alone
In my affliction.
Third citizen (with bitterness).
Why, we have but this thought

Left for our gloomy comfort —And 'tis well! -
Aye, let the balance be awhile struck even
Between the noble's palace and the hut,
Where the worn peasant sickens!—They that bear
The humble dead unhonour'd to their homes,
Pass now i' th' streets no lordly bridal train,
With its exulting music; and the wretch
Who on the marble steps of some proud hall
Flings himself down to die, in his last need
And agony of famine, doth behold
No scornful guests, with their long purple robes,
To the banquet sweeping by. Why, this is just
These are the days when pomp is made to feel
Its human mould !

FOURTH CITIZEN.

Heard you last night the sound Of Saint Jago's bell?—How sullenly From the great tower it peal’d

FIFTH CITIZEN.

Aye, and 'tis said

No mortal hand was near when so it seem'd
To shake the midnight streets.
OLD CITIZEN.

Too well I know
The sound of coming fate —"Tis ever thus
When Death is on his way to make it night
In the Cid's ancient house.”—Oh! there are things
In this strange world of which we have all to learn
When its dark bounds are pass'd.—Yon bell, untouch'd,
(Save by the hands we see not) still doth speak—
—When of that line some stately head is mark'd,
With a wild hollow peal, at dead of night,
Rocking Valencia's towers. I have heard it oft,
Nor known its warming false.

FOURTH CITIZEN.
And will our chief
Buy with the price of his fair children's blood
A few more days of pining wretchedness
For this forsaken city ?
Old Citizen.
Doubt it not

—But with that ransom he may purchase still
Deliverance for the land –And yet 'tis sad

To think that such a race, with all its fame,

Should pass away!—For she, his daughter too,
Moves upon earth as some bright thing whose time
To sojourn there is short.
FiFTH CITIZEN.
Then woe for us
When she is gone!—Her voice—the very sound
Of her soft step was comfort, as she moved
Through the still house of mourning !—Who like her
Shall give us hope again f
OLD CITIZEN.
Be still !—she comes,
And with a mien how changed —A hurrying step,
And a flush'd cheek —What may this bode —Be still !

XIMENA enters, with Attendants carrying a Banner.

Ximen A.
Men of Valencial in an hour like this,
What do ye here 2
A Citizen.
We die
XIMENA.
Brave men die now

Girt for the toil, as travellers suddenly

By the dark night o'ertaken on their way !
These days require such death !—It is too much
Of luxury for our wild and angry times,
To sold the mantle round us, and to sink
From life, as flowers that shut up silently,
When the sun's heat doth scorch them —Hear ye not ?
A CITIZEN.
Lady what wouldst thou with us?
XIMENA.
Rise and arm '
E’en now the children of your chief are led
Forth by the Moor to perish —Shall this be,
Shall the high sound of such a name be hush'd,
I' th' land to which for ages it hath been
A battle word, as 'twere some passing note
Of shepherd-music —Must this work be done,
And ye lie pining here, as men in whom
The pulse which God hath made for noble thought
Can so be thrill'd no longer ?
CITIZEN.

'Tis even so : Sickness, and toil, and grief, have breath’d upon us, Our hearts beat faint and low.

XIMENA.
Are ye so poor

Of soul, my countrymen that ye can draw
Strength from no deeper source than that which sends
The red blood mantling through the joyous veins,
And gives the fleet step wings —Why, how have age
And sensitive womanhood ere now endured,
Through pangs of searching fire, in some proud cause,
Blessing that agony —Think ye the Power
Which bore them nobly up, as if to teach
The torturer where eternal Heaven had set
Bounds to his sway, was earthy, of this earth,
This dull mortality ?—Nay, then look on me !
Death's touch hath mark'd me, and I stand amongst you
As one whose place, i' th' sunshine of your world,
Shall soon be left to fill!—I say, the breath
Of th’ incense, floating through yon fane, shall scarce
Pass from your path before me! But even now,
I have that within me, kindling through the dust,
Which from all time hath made high deeds its voice
And token to the nations !—Look on me !
Why hath Heaven pour'd forth courage, as a flame
Wasting the womanish heart, which must be still'd

Yet sooner for its swift consuming brightness,

« PreviousContinue »