« AnteriorContinuar »
What wear we arms for ? (Others call out) SCENE II.—THE RAMPARTS OF THE TOWN.
No, he dares not do it. The Soldiers are discovered, drawn up in a disorderly
(One voice very loud) manner, hollaing and speaking big, and clashing their Disband us at thy peril, treacherous Basil ! arms tumultuously.
(Several of the Soldiers brandish their arms, and 1st Sol. No, comrade, no; hell gape and swallow threaten to attack him; the Officers gather me,
round Basil, and draw their suords to defend If I do budge for such most devilish orders !
him.) 20 Sol. Huzza! brave comrades! Who says Bas. Put up your swords, my friends, it must not otherwise ?
be. 3d Sol. No one, huzza ! confound all treacherous I thank your zeal, I'll deal with them alone. leaders!
Ros. What, shall we calmly stand and see thee (The Soldiers huzza and clash their arms.)
butcher'd ? 5th Sol. Heaven dart its fiery lightning on his Bas. (very earnestly.) Put up, my friends. head!
(Officers still persist.) What! are you We're men, we are not cattle to be slaughter'a !
rebels too? 20 Sol. They who do long to caper high in air,
Will no one here his general's voice obey ? Into a thousand bloody fragments blown,
I do command you to put up your swords. May follow our brave general.
Retire, and at a distance wait th' event. 1st Sol,
Curse his name ! Obey, or henceforth be no friends of mine. I've fought for him till my strain'd nerves have Officers retire very unwillingly. Basil waves crack'd!
them off with his hand till they are all gone, 2d Sol. We will command ourselves : for Milan,
then walks up to the front of his Soldiers, comrades.
who still hold themselves in a threatening 5th Sol. Ay, ay, for Milan, valiant hearts, huzza. posture.) (All the Soldiers cast up their caps in the air and Soldiers ! we've fought together in the field, huzza.)
And bravely fought: i' the face of horrid death; 20 Sol. Yes, comrades, tempting booty waits us At honour's call, I've led you dauntless on; here,
Nor do I know the man of all your bands, And easy service: keep good hearts, my soldiers !
That ever poorly from the trial shrunk, The general comes, good hearts! no flinching, Or yielded to the foe contended space. boys!
Am I the meanest then of all my troops, Look bold and fiercely: we're the masters now.
That thus ye think, with base unmanly threats, (They all clash their arms and put on a fierce To move me now? Put up those paltry weapons ;
threatening aspect to receive their general, who They edgeless are to him who fears them not; now enters, followed by Rosinberg and Officers. Rocks have been shaken from the solid base ; Basil walks close along the front ranks of the But what shall move a firm and dauntless mind? Soldiers, looking at them very steadfastly; then Put up your swords, or dare the threaten’d deed retires a few paces back, and raising his arm, Obey, or murder me.speaks with a very full loud voice.)
(A confused murmur-some of the Soldiers call Bas. How is it, soldiers, that I see you thus,
out) Assembled here unsummon’d by command ? March us to Milan, and we will obey thee. (A confused murmur is heard amongst the Sol
(Others call out) diers ; some of them call out)
Ay, march us there, and be our leader still. But we ourselves command: we wait no orders. Bas. Nay, if I am your leader, I'll command ye; (A confused noise of voices is heard, and one And where I do command, there shall you go, louder than the rest calls out)
But not to Milan. No, nor shall you deviate Must we be butcher'd for that we are brave? E’en half a furlong from your destined way, (A loud clamour and clashing of arms, then To seize the golden booty of the east. several voices call out)
Think not to gain, or temporize with me; Damn hidden treachery! we defy thy orders. For should I this day's mutiny survive, Frederick shall lead us now
Much as I've loved you, soldiers, ye shall find me
(Others call out) Still more relentless in pursuit of vengeance ; We'll march where'er we list; for Milan march. Tremendous, cruel, military vengeance. Bas. (waving his hand, and beckoning them to There is no mean—a desperate game ye play;
be silent, speaks with a very loud voice.) Therefore, I say, obey, or murder me. Yes, march where'er ye list: for Milan march. Do as ye will, but do it manfully. Sol. Hear him, hear him!
He is a coward who doth threaten me : (The murmur ceases—a short pause.) The man who slays me, but an angry soldier ; Bas. Yes, march where'er ye list; for Milan Acting in passion, like the frantic son, march:
Who struck his sire and wept. But as banditti, not as soldiers go;
(Soldiers call out) It was thyself who sought to For on this spot of earth I will disband,
murder us. And take from you the rank and name of soldiers. 1st Sol. You have unto the emperor pledged (A great clamour amongst the ranks-some call
your faith, out)
To lead us foremost in all desperate service:
You have agreed to sell your soldiers' blood, Unto no easy service :-hardships, toils,
Will be your portion ; and when all is o'er, 20 Sol. No, hear him not, he means to cozen you. Each, like his general, must contented be Frederick will do you right
Home to return again, a poor brave soldier. (Endeavouring to stir up a noise and confusion How say ye now? I spread no tempting lure amongst them.)
A better fate than this, I promise none. Bas. What cursed fiend art thou, cast out from Soldiers. We'll follow Basil. hell
Bas. What token of obedience will ye give? To spirit up rebellion ? damned villain
(A deep pause.) (Seizes upon 2d Soldier, drags him out from the Soldiers, lay down your arms ! ranks, and wrests his arms from him; then
(They all lay down their arms.) takes a pistol from his side, and holds it to his If any here are weary of the service, head.)
Now let them quit the ranks, and they shall have Stand there, damnd meddling villain, and be silent; A free discharge, and passport to their homes; For if thou utterest but a single word,
And from my scanty fortune I'll make good A cough or hem, to cross me in my speech, The well-earn'd pay their royal master owes them. I'll send thy cursed spirit from the earth,
Let those who follow me their arms resume. To bellow with the damn'a !
(They all resume their arms.) (The Soldiers keep a dead silence-after a pause, Bas. (holding up his hands.) High heaven be Basil resumes his speech.)
praised ! Listen to me, my soldiers.
I had been grieved to part with you, my soldiers. You say that I am to the emperor pledged
Here is a letter from my gracious master, To lead you foremost in all desperate service,
With offers of preferment in the north, For now you call it not the path of glory;
Most high preferment, which I did refuse, And if in this I have offended you,
For that I would not leave my gallant troops. I do indeed repent me of the crime.
(Takes out a letter, and throws it amongst them.) But new from battles, where my native troops (A great commotion amongst the Soldiers ; many So bravely fought, I felt me proud at heart,
of them quit their ranks, and crowd about him, And boasted of you, boasted foolishly.
calling out) I said, fair glory's palm ye would not yield Our gallant general!
(Others call out) To e'er the bravest legion train'd to arms.
We'll spend our hearts' blood for thee, noble I swore the meanest man of all my troops
Basil! Would never shrink before an armed host,
Bas. And so you thought me false ? this bites to If honour bade him stand. My royal master
the quick! Smiled at the ardour of my heedless words, My soldiers thought me false ! And promised, when occasion claim'd our arms, (They all quit their ranks, and croud eagerly To put them to the proof.
around him. Basil, waving them off with his But ye do peace, and ease, and booty love,
hands.) Safe and ignoble service—be it so
Away, away, you have disgusted me! Forgive me that I did mistake you thus,
(Soldiers retire to their ranks.) But do not earn with savage mutiny,
'Tis well--retire, and hold yourselves prepared Your own destruction. We'll for Pavia march, To march upon command, nor meet again To join the royal army near its walls;
Till you are summon'd by the beat of drum. And there with blushing forehead will I plead, Some secret enemy has tamper'd with you, That ye are men with warlike service worn, For yet I will not think that in these ranks Requiring ease and rest. Some other chief, There moves a man who wears a traitor's heart. Whose cold blood boils not at the trumpet's sound, (The Soldiers begin to march off, and music Will in your rearward station head you then,
strikes up.) And so, my friends, we'll part. As for myself, Bas. (holding up his hand.) Cease, cease, A volunteer, unheeded in the ranks,
triumphant sounds, I'll rather flight, with brave men for my fellows,
Which our brave fathers, men without reproach, Than be the leader of a sordid band.
Raised in the hour of triumph! but this hour (A great murmur rises amongst the ranks, Sol- To us no glory bringsdiers call out)
Then silent be your march-ere that again We will not part ! no, no, we will not part ! Our steps to glorious strains like these shall move,
(All call out together) | A day of battle o’er our heads must pass, We will not part ! be thou our general still. And blood be shed to wash out this day's stain. Bas. How can I be your general ? ye obey
[EXEUNT Soldiers, silent and dejected. As caprice moves you ; I must be obey'd
Enter FREDERICK, who starts back on seeing BASIL As honest men against themselves perform
alone. A sacred oath.
Bas. Advance, lieutenant; wherefore shrink ye Some other chief will more indulgent prove
back ? You're weary grown-I've been too hard a master- I've even seen you bear your head erect,
Soldiers. Thyself, and only thee, will we obey. And front your man though arm'd with frowning Bas. But if you follow me, yourselves ye pledge
Have you done aught the valiant should not do ? And cursed thine ill-timed absence.
(Fred. looks confused.) There's treason in this most deceitful court, With secret art, and false insinuation,
Against thee plotting, and this morning's tumult, The simple untaught soldiers to seduce
Hath been its damn'd effect. From their sworn duty, might become the base,
Nay, nay, my friend! Become the coward well; but O! what villain The nature of man's mind too well thou knowest, Had the dark power to engage thy valiant worth To judge as vulgar hoodwink'd statesmen do; In such a work as this !
Who, ever with their own poor wiles misled, Fred. Is Basil, then, so lavish of his praise Believe each popular tumult or commotion On a neglected pitiful subaltern ?
Must be the work of deep-laid policy. It were a libel on his royal master ;
Poor, mean, mechanic souls, who little know A foul reproach upon fair fortune cast,
A few short words of energetic force, To call me valiant :
Some powerful passion on the sudden roused, And surely he has been too much their debtor The animating sight of something noble, To mean them this rebuke.
Some fond trait of the memory finely waked, Bas. Is nature then so sparing of her gifts, A sound, a simple song without design, That it is wonderful when they are found
In revolutions, tumults, wars, rebellions, Where fortune smiles not?
All grand events, have oft effected more Thou art by nature brave and so am I ;
Than deepest cunning of their paltry art. But in those distant ranks moves there not one Some drunken soldier, eloquent with wine,
(pointing off the stage.) Who loves not fighting, hath harangued his mates, Of high ennobled soul, by nature formid
For they in truth some hardships have endured : A hero and commander, who will yet
Wherefore in this should we suspect the court ? In his untrophied grave forgotten lie
Ros. Ah! there is something, friend, in Mantua's With meaner men ? I dare be sworn there does.
court, Fred. What need of words? I crave of thee no Will make the blackest trait of barefaced treason, favour,
Seem fair and guiltless to thy partial eye. I have offended 'gainst arm'd law, offended,
Bas. Nay, 'tis a weakness in thee, Rosinberg, And shrink not from my doom.
Which makes thy mind so jealous and distrustful. Bas. I know thee well, I know thou fear’st not Why should the Duke be false ? death ;
Ros. Because he is a double, crafty prince On scaffold or in field with dauntless breast Because I've heard it rumour'd secretly, Thou wilt engage him: and if thy proud soul, That he in some dark treaty is engaged, In sullen obstinacy, scorns all grace,
E'en with our master's enemy, the Frank. E'en be it so. But if with manly gratitude
Bas. And so thou thinkestThou truly canst receive a brave man's pardon, Ros.
Nay, hear me to the end. Thou hast it freely.
Last night that good and honourable dame,
From the gay clamorous throng my steps beguiled, Bas.
I know thou hast; Unmask'd before me, and with earnest grace But thou art brave, and I forgive thee all.
Entreated me, if I were Basil's friend, Fred. My lord! my general! 0 I cannot To tell him hidden danger waits him here, speak !
And warn him earnestly this court to leave. I cannot live and be the wretch I am.
She said she loved thee much; and hadst thou seen Bas. But thou canst live and be an honest man How anxiously she urged From error turn'd,-canst live and be my friend. Bas. (interrupting him.) By heaven and earth
(Raising Fred. from the ground.) There is a ray of light breaks through thy tale,
Fred. No cunning traitor did my faith attempt, In secret politics ; one only charge
And she would have me hence-it must be so. Has work'd within my breast, and made me 0! would it were ! how saidst thou, gentle Rosinwretched.
berg? I've lent mine ear to foolish idle tales,
She urged it earnestly-how did she urge it! Of very zealous, though but recent friends.
Nay, prithee do not stare upon me thus, Bas. Softly, our friends approach-of this again. But tell me all her words! What said she ?
[EXEUNT. Ros. O Basil ! I could laugh to see thy folly,
But that thy weakness doth provoke me so.
Most admirable, brave, determined man !
So well, so lately tried, what art thou now? Ros. Thank heaven I am now alone with thee. A vain deceitful thought transports thee thus. Last night I sought thee with an anxious mind, Thinkst thou
I will not tell thee what I think. And I might yet from some high towering cliff Ros. But I can guess it well, and it deceives thee. Perceive her distant mansion from afar, Leave this detested place, this fatal court,
Or mark its blue smoke rising eve and morn ; Where dark deceitful cunning plots thy ruin. Nay, though within the circle of the moon A soldier's duty calls thee loudly hence.
Some spell did fix her, never to return, The time is critical. How wilt thou feel
And I might wander in the hours of night,
Fondly to mark upon its varied disk
How canst thou say to one who loves like me, Our fortunes rest not on a point so nice,
Thou hast no hope ? That one short day should be of all this moment; Ros. But with such hope, my friend, how stand And yet this one short day will be to me
thy fears? Worth years of other time.
Are they so well refined ? how wilt thou bear Ros.
Nay, rather say, Ere long to hear, that some high-favour'd prince A day to darken all thy days beside.
Has won her heart, her hand, has married her? Confound the fatal beauty of that woman,
Though now unshackled, will it always be ? Which hath bewitch'd thee so !
Bas. By heaven thou dost contrive but to torBas. 'Tis most ungenerous
Ros. No, not malignity, but kindness, Basil, Ros. God knows my heart ! I would not give That fain would save thee from the yawning gulf, thee pain ;
To which blind passion guides thy heedless steps. But it disturbs me, Basil, vexes me
Bas. Go, rather save thyself To see thee so inthralled by a woman.
From the weak passion which has seized thy breast, If she is fair, others are fair as she.
T'assume authority with sage-like brow,
And shape my actions by thine own caprice.
Yes, do thyself, Bas. What, is it possible thou hast beheld, And let no artful woman do it for thee. Hast tarried by her too, her converse shared,
Bas. I scorn thy thought: it is beneath my scorn: Yet talk'st as though she were a common fair one, It is of meanness sprung--an artful woman! Such as a man may fancy and forget ?
0! she has all the loveliness of heaven
Ros. I mean not to impute dishonest arts,
No, 'faith thou canst not. Yet, in their lives, some many maidens love.
Ros. What, can I not? their arts all women Fy on it! leave this town, and be a soldier:
have. Bas. Have done, have done! why dost thou bate But now of this no more ; it moves thee greatly. me thus ?
Yet once again, as a most loving friend,
What noble spirits love, and well I know
And give thy soldiers orders for the march. Ay, on the instant. Is't not desperation
Bas. Nay, since thou must assume it o'er me To stay, and hazard ruin on thy fame,
thus, Though yet uncheer'd e’en by that tempting lure, Be general, and command my soldiers too. No lover breathes without ? thou hast no hope. Ros. What, hath this passion in so short a space, Bas. What, dost thou mean-curse on the paltry 0! curses on it! so far changed thee, Basil, thought !
That thou dost take with such ungentle warmth, That I should count and bargain with my heart, The kindly freedom of thine ancient friend ? Upon the chances of unstinted favour,
Methinks the beauty of a thousand maids As little souls their base-bred fancies feed ? Would not have moved me thus to treat my friend, 0! were I conscious that within her breast My best, mine earliest friend! I held some portion of her dear regard,
Bas. Say kinsman rather ; chance has link'd us Though pent for life within a prison's walls,
No act of choice did e'er unite our souls. Though placed by fate where some obstructing Men most unlike we are ; our thoughts unlike; bound,
My breast disowns thee-thou’rt no friend of Somc deep impassable between us rollid,
Ros. Ah! have I then so long, so dearly loved Ros. (hanging over him with pity and affection.) thee;
Alas! my friend! So often, with an elder brother's care,
Bas. In all her lovely grace she disappear'd, Thy childish rambles tended, shared thy sports ; Ah! little thought I never to return! Fill'd up by stealth thy weary school-boy's task ; Ros. Why so desponding? think of warlike glory. Taught thy young arms thine earliest feats of The fields of fair renown are still before thee; strength;
Who would not burn such noble fame to earn ? With boastful pride thine early rise beheld
Bas. What now are arms, or fair renown to me? In glory's paths, contented then to fill
Strive for it those who will—and yet, a while, A second place, so I might serve with thee; Welcome rough war; with all thy scenes of blood ; And say'st thou now, I am no friend of thine ?
(starting from his seat.) Well, be it so; I am thy kinsman then,
Thy roaring thunders, and thy clashing steel! And by that title will I save thy name,
Welcome once more! what have I now to do From danger of disgrace. Indulge thy will. But play the brave man o'er again, and die? I'll lay me down and feign that I am sick:
Enter ISABELLA. And yet I shall not feign-I shall not feign ;
Isab. (to Bas.) My princess bids me greet you: For thy unkindness makes me so indeed.
noble count: It will be said that Basil tarried here
Bas. (starting.) What dost thou say? To save his friend, for so they'll call me still ;
Damn this untimely message! Nor will dishonour fall upon thy name
Isab. The princess bids me greet you, noble For such a kindly deed.
count: (Basil walks up and down in great agitation, then In the cool grove, hard by the southern gate
stops, covers his face with his hands, and seems She with her trainto be overcome. Rosinberg looks at him ear
What, she indeed, herself? nestly.)
Isab. Herself, my lord, and she requests to see O blessed heaven, he weeps !
you. (Runs up to him, and catches him in his arms.)
Bas. Thank heaven for this! I will be there anon, O Basil! I have been too hard upon thee.
Ros. (taking hold of him.) Stay, stay, and do And is it possible I've moved thee thus ?
not be a madman still. Bas. (in a convulsed, broken voice.) I will re
Bas. Let go thy hold: what, must I be a brute, nounce-I'll leave
A very brute to please thee? no, by heaven! Ros. What says my Basil ?
(Breaks from him, and Exit.) Bas. I'll Mantua leave-I'll leave this seat of
Ros. (striking his forehead.) All lost again! ill bliss
fortune light upon her! This lovely woman,tear my heart in twain
(Turning eagerly to Isab.) Cast off at once my little span of joy
And so thy virtuous mistress sends thee here Be wretched-miserable-whate'er thou wilt
To make appointments, honourable dame? Dost thou forgive me?
Isab. Not so, my lord, you must not call it so: Ros. O my friend! my friend !
The court will hunt to-morrow, and Victoria I love thee now more than I ever loved thee.
Wond have your noble general of her train. I must be cruel to thee to be kind :
Ros. Confound these women, and their artful Each pang I see thee feel strikes through my
Since men will be such fools! Then spare us both, call up thy noble spirit,
Isab. Yes, grumble at our empire as you will And meet the blow at once. Thy troops are
Ros. What, boast ye of it? empire do ye call it ? ready
It is your shame! a short-lived tyranny, Let us depart, nor lose another hour.
That ends at last in hatred and contempt. (Basil shrinks from his arms, and looks at him
Isab. Nay, but some women do so wisely rule, with somewhat of an upbraiding, at the same Their subjects never from the yoke escape. time a sorrowful look.)
Ros. Some women do, but they are rarely found. Bas. Nay, put me not to death upon the instant; There is not one in all your paltry court I'll see her once again, and then depart.
Hath wit enough for the ungenerous task. Ros. See her but once again, and thou art ruin'd! | 'Faith! of you all, not one, but brave Albini, It must not be if thou regardest me
And she disdains it-Good be with you, lady! Bas. Well then, it shall not be. Thou hast no
Isab. O would I could but touch that stubborn Ros. Ah! thou wilt bless me all thine after-life
heart! For what now seems to thee so merciless.
How dearly should he pay for this hour's scorn! Bas. (sitting down very dejectedly.) Mine after
(Exeunt severally, life! what is mine after-life? My day is closed ! the gloom of night is come! SCENE IV.-A SUMMER APARTMENT IN THE COUNA hopeless darkness settles o'er my fate.
TRY, THE WINDOWS OF WHICH LOOK TO A FOREST, I've seen the last look of her heavenly eyes ; Enter Victoria in a hunting dress, followed by ALBINI I've heard the last sounds of her blessed voice;
and ISABELLA, speaking as they enter. I've seen her fair form from my sight depart: Vict. (to Alb.) And so you will not share our My doom is closed !