« PreviousContinue »
I too have dreamt of glory, and the word
Hath to my soul been as a trumpet's voice,
Making my nature sleepless. But the deeds
Whereby 'twas won, the high exploits, whose tale
Bids the heart burn, were of another cast
Than such as thou requirest.
Every deed Hath sanctity, if bearing for its aim The freedom of our country; and the sword Alike is honour'd in the patriot's hand, Searching, 'midst warrior-hosts, the heart which gave Oppression birth ; or flashing through the gloom Of the still chamber, o'er its troubled couch, At dead of night.
RAIMOND (turning away).
There is no path but one For noble natures.
Wouldst thou ask the man Who to the earth hath dash'd a nation's chains, Rent as with heaven's own lightning, by what means
The glorious end was won ?-Go, swell th' acclaim !
Bid the deliverer, hail ! and if his path
To that most bright and sovereign destiny
Hath led o’er trampled thousands, be it call'd
A stern necessity, and not a crime ;
Father ! my soul yet kindles at the thought
Of nobler lessons, in my boyhood learn'd
Ev’n from thy voice.—The high remembrances
Of other days are stirring in the heart
Where thou didst plant them; and they speak of men
Who needed no vain sophistry to gild
Acts, that would bear heaven's light.—And such be mine!
Oh, father! is it yet too late to draw
The praise and blessing of all valiant hearts
On our most righteous cause ?
I would go forth, and rouse th’ indignant land
To generous combat. Why should freedom strike
Mantled with darkness ?- Is there not more strength
E'en in the waving of her single arm
Than hosts can wield against her?-I would rouse
That spirit, whose fire doth press resistless on
To its proud sphere, the stormy field of fight!
Aye! and give time and warning to the foe
To gather all his might !-It is too late.
There is a work to be this eve begun,
When rings the vesper-bell! and, long before
To-morrow's sun hath reach'd i'th' noonday heaven
His throne of burning glory, every sound
Of the Provençal tongue within our walls,
As by one thunderstroke-(you are pale, my son)-
Shall be for ever silenced.
What! such sounds As falter on the lip of infancy In its imperfect utterance? or are breathed By the fond mother, as she lulls her babe ? Or in sweet hymns, upon the twilight air Pour'd by the timid maid ?--Must all alike Be still'd in death; and wouldst thou tell my heart There is no crime in this ?
Such horror of our purpose, in thy power
Are means that might avert it.
How would those rescued thousands bless thy name
Shouldst thou betray us!
Father! I can bear-
Aye, proudly woo—the keenest questioning
Of thiy soul-gifted eye; which almost seems
To claim a part of Heaven's dread royalty,
- The power that searches thought !
PROCIDA (after a pause).
Thou hast a brow
Clear as the day—and yet I doubt thee, Raimond !
Whether it be that I have learn'd distrust
From a long look through man's deep-folded heart;
Whether my paths have been so seldom cross'd
By honour and fair mercy, that they seem
But beautiful deceptions, meeting thus
My unaccustom’d gaze ;-bowe'er it be-
I doubt thee!-See thou waver not-take heed !
Time lifts the veil from all things !
Youth fades from off our spirit; and the robes
Of beauty and of majesty, wherewith
We clothed our idols, drop -0! bitter day,
When, at the crushing of our glorious world,
We start, and find men thus !-Yet be it so!
Is not my soul still powerful, in itself
To realize its dreams?-Aye, shrinking not
From the pure eye of heaven, my brow may well
Undaunted meet my father's.—But, away!
Thou shalt be saved, sweet Constance !-Love is yet
Mightier than vengeance.
SCENE III.-Gardens of a Palace.
There was a time when my thoughts wander'd not
Beyond these fairy scenes ; when, but to catch
The languid fragrance of the southern breeze