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It overwhelms me with a flood of thoughts, I struck my hand against my soldier's mail,
And cried, " This faith is worthy of a man!”
thoughts Cor. I am most thankful for the words of power | To one great universal Lord of all, Which from thy gifted lips and sacred Scripture Lord e'en of Jove himself and all the gods; I have received. What feelings they have raised ! But who dost seel for that high, distant Essence ( what a range of thought given to the mind ! A warmer sentiment than deep submission ? And to the soul what loftiness of hope !
But now, adoring love and grateful confidence
I am too bold: I should be humbled first
In penitence and sorrow, for the stains
Of many a hateful vice and secret passion.
Fath. Check not the generous tenor of thy
And let thy mind well weigh what thou hast heard.
Shall give thee entrance to a purer life ;
For his high warfare arm’d.
Cor. I am resolved, and feel that in my heart
There lives that faith ; baptize me ere we part.
Must be preferr'd; for lo! our brethren come,
Which must, with hymns of honour be received.
Enter Christians, seen advancing slowly along one of the wicked
the aisles, and bearing a large veiled urn; which they
set down near the front. They then list off the veil Will sometimes weep at lofty, generous deeds.
and range themselves round it, while one sings and Some broken traces of our noble nature
the rest join in the chorus at the end of each short Were yet preserved ; therefore our great Creator Still loved his work, and thought it worth redemp
Departed brothers, generous, brave,
Who for the faith have died,
Nor its pure source denied,
Your bodies from devouring flames to save.
Honour on earth, and bliss in heaven,
Be to your saintly valour given!
And we, who, left behind, pursue
A pilgrim's weary way
To realms of glorious day,
Shall rouse our fainting souls with thoughts of you.
Honour on earth, &c.
Your ashes mingled with the dust,
Than e'er breathed vital air,
When earth again gives up her precious trust.
Honour on earth, &c.
The trump of angels shall proclaim,
With tones far sent and sweet,
Which countless hosts repeat,
The generous martyr's never-fading name.
Honour on earth, and bliss in heaven,
Be to your saintly valour given! Syl. (eagerly.) Ay, brave Corden''s, that same Cor. (to Father.) And ye believe those, who a thought more moved
few hours since My rude, unletter'd mind than all the rest. Were clothed in flesh and blood, and here, before us,
Lie thus, even to a few dry ashes changed,
Cor. Come, lead me, father, to the holy fount, Are now exalted spirits, holding life
If I in humble penitence may be With blessed powers, and agencies, and all From worldly vileness clear'd. Who have on earth a virtuous part fulfill'd ? Fath. I gladly will, my son. The spirit of grace The dear redeem'd of Godlike love, again
Is dealing with thy spirit: be received, To their primeval destiny restored ?
A ransom'd penitent, to the high fellowship It is a generous, powerful, noble faith.
Of all the good and bless'd in earth and heaven ! Syl. Did I not tell thee, as we pass'd a.ong,
Enter a CONVERT. It well became a Roman and a soldier ? Fath. Nay, worthy Sylvius, somewhat more of Whence comest thou, Fearon ? Why wert thou meekness
prevented And less of martial ardour were becoming
From joining in our last respectful homage In those, whose humble Lord stretch'd forth his To those, who have so nobly for the truth hand,
Laid down their lives? His saving hand, to e'en the meanest slave
Con. I have been watching near the grated dunWho bends beneath an earthly master's rod.
geon This faith is meet for all of human kind.
Where Ethocles, the Grecian, is immured. Cor. Forgive him, father : see, he stands re
Fath. Thou say'st not so! A heavier loss than proved ;
this, His heart is meek, though ardent;
If they have seized on him, the righteous cause It is, indeed, a faith for all mankind.
Could not have suffer'd. Art thou sure of it? Fath. We feel it such, my son, press'd as we are ;
We had not heard of his return from Syria. On every side beset with threatening terrors.
Con. It is too true: he landed ten days since Look on these ghastly walls, these shapeless pillars, On the Brundusian coast, and as he enter'd These heaps of human bones,--this court of death; The gates of Rome, was seized and dragg'd to E'en here, as in a temple, we adore
prison. The Lord of life, and sing our song of hope,
Fath. And we in utter ignorance of this ! That death has lost his sting, the grave his triumph.
Con. He travellid late and unaccompanied, Cor. O make me then the partner of your hopes! So this was done at nightfall and conceal'd. (Taking the hand of Sylvius, and then of several But see his writing, given me by a guard, other Christians.)
Who has for pity's sake betray'd his trust : Brave men! high destined souls ! immortal beings ! It is address'd to thee. (Giving him a paper.) The blessed faith and sense of what we are
Fath. (after reading it.) Alas, alas : it is a brief Comes on my heart, like streams of beamy light
account Pour'd from some opening cloud. O to conceive
Of his successful labours in the East; What lies beyond the dim, dividing veil,
For with his excellent gifts of eloquence, Of regions bright, of blest and glorious being !
Learning, and prudence, he has made more converts Fath. Ay, when it is withdrawn, we shall behold Than all our zealous brotherhood besides. What heart hath ne'er conceiver, nor tongue could | What can we do? He will be sacrificed : utter.
The church in him must bleed, if God so wills. Cor. When but a boy, I've gazed upon the sky,
It is a dreadful blow. With all its sparks of light, as a grand cope
Cor. (to the Convert.) I pray thee, in what prison For the benighted world. But now my fancy
is he kept? Will greet each twinkling star, as the bright lamp Con. In Sylla's tower, that dwelling of despair. Of some fair angel on his guardian watch.
Cor. Guarded by Romans? And think ye not, that from their lofty stations,
Yes; and strongly guardedi. Our future glorious home, our Father's house,
Cor. Yet, he shall be released. May lie within the vast and boundless ken
Fath. (to Cordenius.) Beware, my son, of rash, Of such seraphic powers ?
imprudent zeal: Fath. Thy fancy soars on wide and buoyant The truth hath suffer'd much from this ; beware; wings;
Risk not thyself: thy life is also precious. Speak on, my son, I would not check thy ardour. Cor. My whole of life is precious; but this shred,
Cor. This solid earth is press'd beneath our feet, This earthly portion of it, what is that, But as a step from which to take our flight; But as it is employ'd in holy acts ? What boots it then, if rough or smooth it be, Am I Christ's soldier at a poorer rate Serving its end ?-Come, noble Sylvius !
Than I have served an earthly master? No; We've been companions in the broil of battle, I feel within my glowing breast a power Now be we fellow soldiers in that warfare Which says I am commission'd for this service. Which best becomes the brave.
Give me thy blessing—thy baptismal blessing, Syl. Cordenius Maro, we shall be companions And then God's spirit guide me ! Serving God, When this wide earth with all its fields of blood, I will not count the cost but to discharge it. Where war hath raged, and all its towers of Fath. His will direct thee then, my generous
strength Which have begirded been with iron hosts, His blessing be upon thee ! Lead him, Sylvius, Are shrunk to nothing, and the flaming sun To the blest fount, where from his former sins Is in his course extinguish'd.
He shall by heavenly grace be purified. [EXEUNT.
An ardent, strange desire, though mix'd with fear. SCENE II.-THE GARDEN OF SULPICIUS.
Nay, do not smile, my father : such fair sights
Were seen--were often seen in ancient days; Enter SULPICIUS, and PORTIA, with flowers in her hand.
The poets tell us so.
Ah! could'st thou so remain, and still with me Like little rounded gems of silver sheen,
Be as in years gone by SIt may not be ; Whilst curling tendrils grasp with vigorous hold Nor should I wish it : all things have their season: The stem that bears them ! All looks young and She may not now remain an old man's treasure. fresh.
With all her woman's beauty grown to blossom. The very spider through his circled cage
Orc. And who considers hours, whose heart is Is it not so, my father?
bent Sul. Yes, morn and youth and freshness sweetly On what concerns a lover and a friend ? join,
Where is thy daughter? And are the emblems of dear changeful days. Sul. Within yon Rowery thicket, blithe and By night those beauteous things
careless ; Por.
And what of night! For though she loves, 't is with sweet, maiden fancy, Why do you check your words ? You are not sad? Which, not impatient, looks in cheering hope Sul. No; Portia, only angry with myself
To future years. For crossing thy gay stream of youthful thoughts Orc.
Ay, 'tis a shelter'd passion, With those of sullen age. Away with them! A cradled love, by admiration fosterd : What if those bright-leaved flowers, so soft and A showy, toward nurse for babe so bashfu). silken,
Thus in the shell athwart whose snowy lining Are gathered into dank and wrinkled folds Each changeful tint of the bright rainbow plays, When evening chills them, or upon the earth A little pearl is found, in secret value With broken stems and buds torn and dispersed, Surpassing all the rest. Lie prostrate, of fair form and fragrance reft
But say'st thou nothing When midnight winds pass o'er them ; be it so! Of what I wish to hear? What of Cordenius? All things but have their term.
Orc. By my good war-bow and its barbed shafts, In truth, my child, I'm glad that I indulged thee By the best war-horse archer e'er bestrode! By coming forth at such an early hour
I'm still in ignorance: I have not seen him. To pay thy worship to so sweet a goddess,
Sul. Thou hast not seen him ! this is very Upon her yearly feast.
strange. Por. I thank you, father ! On her feast, 'tis said, Orc. So it indeed appears.--My wayward friend That she, from mortal eye con l'd, vouchsafes Has from his home been absent. Yesterday Her presence in such sweet and flowery spots : There and elsewhere I sought, but found him not. And where due offerings on her shrine are laid, This morning by the dawn again I sought him, Blesses all seeds and shoots, and things of promise. Thinking to find him surely, and alone ; Sul. How many places in one little day
But his domestics, much amazed, have told me She needs must visit then!
He is not yet return'd. Por. But she moves swift as thought. The basty Sul. Hush! through yon thicket I perceive a
zephyr That stirr'd each slender leaf, now as we enter'd,
Orc. Some thief or spy. And made a sudden sound, by stillness follow'd,
Let us withdraw a while, Might be the rustling of her passing robe.
And mark his motions; he observes us not.
Enter CORDENIUS from a thicket in the back ground. Por.
Wherefore call it wild ? Cor. (after looking round him with delight.) Full many a time I've listen'd when alone
Sweet light of day, fair sky, and verdant In such fair spots as this, and thought I heard
earth, Sweet mingled voices uttering varied tones Enrich'd with every beauteous herb and flower, Of question and reply, pass on the wind,
And stately trees, that spread their boughs like And heard soft steps upon the ground; and then
tents The notion of bright Venus or Diana,
For shade and shelter, how I hail ye now!
For happy innocence, yet, in the wreck
(Stooping to look at the flowers.) And 0, how I have long'd to look upon them; Ye little painted things, whose varied hues
Charm, even to wonderment; that mighty hand That thou wilt give me Portia—thy dear Portia?
Sul. And truly too, Cordenius. She is thine,
Cor. (Eagerly clasping the knees, and then There is a father's full, unstinted love
kissing the hands of Sulpicius.) Thanks, Display'd o'er all, and thus on all I gaze
thanks !-thanks from my swoll'n, o'erWith the keen thrill of new-waked ecstasy.
flowing heart, What voice is that so near me and so sweet? Which has no words.-Friend, father, Portia's (Portia without, singing some notes of prelude, father! and then a Song.)
The thought creates in me such sudden joy
I am bewilder'd with it.
Calm thy spirits.The lady in her early bower
Thou shouldst in meeter form have known it
Had not the execution of those Christians-
(Pests of the earth, whom on one burning pile, Like skylark o'er the morning cloud ;
With all their kind, I would most gladly punish,) The lady's smiles are smiles that pass
Till now prevented me. Thy friend, OrceresLike morning's breath o'er wavy grass.
Thou owest him thanks-plead for thee powerfully, She thinks of one, whose harness d car
And had my leave. But dost thou listen to me?
Thy face wears many colours, and big drops
Burst from thy brow, whilst thy contracted lips
Quiver, like one in pain.
Orc. What sudden illness racks thee?
Cor. I may not tell you now: let me depart.
Sul. (holding him.) Thou art my promised son;
I have a right Cor. Her voice indeed, and this my favourite
To know whate'er concerns thee,-pain or pleasure. It is that gentle creature, my sweet Portia
Cor. And so thou hast, and I may not deceive
thee. I call her mine, because she is the image Which hath possess'd my fancy. Such vain
Take, take, Sulpicius.—0 such withering words! thoughts
The sinking, sickening heart and parched mouth!
I cannot utter them.
Sul. Why in this agony of perturbation?
Nay, strive not now to speak.
I must, I must(Sings without, as before.) Take back thy proffer'd gift; all earth could She wanders fitfully from lay to lay,
give;But all of them some air that I have praised
That which it cannot give I must retain. In happy hours gone by.
Sul. What words are these? If it were possible, SONG,
I could believe thee touch'd with sorcery, The kind heart speaks with words so kindly sweet,
The cursed art of those vile Nazarenes. That kindred hearts the catching tones repeat; Where hast thou past the night? their haunts are And love, therewith his soft sigh gently blending, Makes pleasing harmony. Thus softly sending
Orc. Nay, nay; repress thine anger ; noble Maro Its passing cheer across the stilly main, Whilst in the sounding water dips the oar,
May not be question d thus. And glad response bursts from the nearing shore, Sul. He may, and shall. And yet I will not Comes to our ears the home-bound seamen's strain,
urge him, Who from the lofty deck, hail their own land again. If he, with hand press'd on his breast, will say,
Cor. O gentle, sweet, and cheerful! form'd to be That he detests those hateful Nazarenes. Whate'er my heart could prize of treasured love!
Cor. No ; though my life, and what is dearer far Dear as thou art, I will not linger here.
My Portia's love, depended on the words,
I would not, and I durst not utter them. Re-enter SULPICIUS and ORCERES, breaking out upon Sul. I see it well: thou art insnared and blinded him, and Orceres catching hold of his robe as he By their enchantments. Demoniac power is going off.
Will drag thee to thy ruin. Cast it off; Orc. Ha! noble Maro, to a coward turn'd, Defy it. Say thou wilt forbear all intercourse Shunning a spot of danger!
With this detested sect. Art thou a madman? Sul. Stay, Cordenius.
Cor. If I am mad, that which possesses me
Or poets e'er imagined.-Listen to me.
Call ye these Christians vile, because they suffer Than I will grant all that may make thee happy, All nature shrinks from, rather than deny If Portia has that power.
What seems to them the truth ? Call ye them sorCor. And dost thou mean, in very earnest mean,
Because their words impart such high conceptions Sul. I will not betray him.
Por. Then all may yet be well ; for our great In one great Being join'd, as makes the heart
gods, Bound with ennobling thoughts ? Call ye them Whom Cæsar and his subject nations worship, curst
Will not abandon Rome's best, bravest soldier Who daily live in steady strong assurance
To power demoniac. That can never be Of endless blessedness ? O, listen to me!
If they indeed regard us.
Orc. Were he in Parthia, our great god, the sun, Re-enter PORTIA, bursting from a thicket close to them. Or rather he who in that star resides, Por. O, listen to him, father!
Would not permit his power to be so thwarted, Sul. Let go my robe, fond creature ! Listen to For all the demonry that e’er exerted him!
Its baleful influence on wretched men. The song of syrens were less fatal. Charms Beshrew me! for a thought gleams through my Of dire delusion, luring on to ruin,
brain, Are mingled with the words that speak their faith ; It is this God, perhaps, with some new name, They, who once hear them, slutter round destruction which these bewilder'd Nazarenes adore. With giddy fascination, like the moth,
Sul. With impious rites, most strange and horriWhich, shorn of half its form, all scorch'd and
Orc. If he, my friend, in impious rites hath join'd, Still to the torch returns. I will not listen ; Demons, indeed, have o'er the soul of man No, Portia, nor sbalt thou.
A power to change its nature. Ay, Sulpicius ; Por. 0, say not so !
And thou and I may, ere a day shall pass, For if you listen to him, you may save him, Be very Nazarenes. We are in ignorance; And win him from his errors.
We shoot our arrow in the dark, and cry, Sul. Vain hope ! vain hope! What is man's 'It is to wound a foe.' Come, gentle Portia ; natural reason
Be not so sad ; the man thou lovest is virtuous, Opposed to demon subtlety? Cordenius!
And brave, and loves thee well; why then despair ? Cordenius Maro! I adjure thee, go!
Por. Alas! I know he is brave and virtuous, Leave me; why wouldst thou pull destruction on Therefore, I do despair.
In Nero's court, indeed, On one who loved thee so, that though possess'd Such men are ever on the brink of danger, Of but one precious pearl, most dearly prized, But wouldst thou have him other than he is ? Prized more than life, yet would have given it to Por. O no! I would not; that were base and thee.
sordid; I needs must weep : c'en for thyself I weep. Yet shed I tears, e'en like a wayward child Cor. Weep not, my kind Sulpicius! I will leave Who weeps for that which cannot be attain'd, thee,
Virtue, and constancy, and safety join'd. Albeit the pearl thou wouldst bestow upon me I pray thee pardon me, for I am wretched, Is, in my estimation, dearer far
And that doth make me foolish and perverse. Than life, or power, or fame, or earthly thing.
(EXEUNT. When these fierce times are past, thou wilt, per
haps, Think of me with regard, but not with pity,
ACT. III. How fell soe'er my earthly end hath been,
SCENE I.-BEFORE THE GATE OF NERO'S PALACE : For I shall then be blest. And thou, dear Portia,
GUARDS WITH THEIR OFFICERS, DISCOVERED ON Wilt thou remember me? That thought, alas !
DUTY. Dissolves my soul in weakness.
Enter to them another Officer, speaking as he enters to 0, to be spared, if it were possible,
the SOLDIERS. This stroke of agony. Is it not possible,
First Offi. Strike up some sacred strain of Roman That I might yet-Almighty God forgive me !
triumph ; Weak thoughts will lurk in the devoted heart,
The Pontiff comes to meet the summon'd council. But not be cherish'd there. I may not offer
Omit not this respect, else he will decm Aught short of all to thee.
We are of those who love the Nazarenes. Farewell, farewell! sweet Portia, fare thee well!
Sing loud and clearly. (Orceres catches hold of him to prevent his going.) Retain me not: I am a Parthian now,
Enter PONTIFF attended. My strength is in retreat.
SACRED HYMN BY THE SOLDIERS. Por. That noble mind! and must it then be
That chief, who bends to Jove the suppliant knee, ruin'd?
Shall firm in power and high in honour be ; O save him, save him, father! Brave Orceres,
And who to Mars a soldier's homage yields, Wilt thou not save thy friend, the noble Maro? Shall la irell'd glory reap in bloody fields ; Orc. We will, sweet maid, if it be possible.
Who vine crown'd Bacchus, bounteous lord, adores, We'll keep his faith a secret in our breasts ;
Shall gather still, unscath’d, his vintage stores;
Who to fair Venus liberal offering gives, And he may yet, if not by circumstances
Enrich'd with love, and sweet affection lives, Provoked to speak, conceal it from the world.
Then, be your praises still our sacred theme, Por. And you, my father?
O Venus, Bacchus, Mars, and Jove supreme !