Tantumque nefas patrio extidit ore?
PERSONS IN THE DRAMA
The King of Sicily
Majone, his prime minister.
Verino, an old General.
Haymond. Jan Sen.
uberto, a Priest.
LeLio, an Attendant of Verino.
Eudora. the wife of Raymond.
SCENE I.—TIIE PALACE.
VERINO. [Meeting an Officer.]
Hast thou inform’d Eudora of our triumph,
she quickly follow to the palace
The happiest of fathers?
Yes, my Lord;
daughter, in a grateful transport,
Charg’d me to thank you for the joyous summons
Which she is hastening to obey.
These blest achievements of my son, impart
New being to my soul. Yet this high joy
Seems incomplete, till I rejoice with her,
Whose beauty, and whose love, inspir’d his valor;
Whose faithful purity, and fervent prayers,
Have won the watchful ministers of heaven
To turn all evil from her fearless hero
In danger’s darkest hour—O! love, and joy
Are light of foot, and lead her swiftly to me!
Rejoice, rejoice, sweet partner of our glory!
Soon thou shalt meet thy dear victorious lord,
The blessing of my age, the young preserver
Of wasted Sicily.—He comes to pay thee
With love, ennobled by successful courage,
For all thy pains of fond anxiety.
My proud heart pants to fold him to itself;
To question him on all his glorious share
In this brave enterprise; and while he speaks
Of peril hardly ’scaped, with shuddering joy
Clasp my safe hero, and devoutly pour
Tears of extatic gratitude to Heaven!
But when, my dear Lord, when shall we behold him?
The Prince and Haymond are now hastening hither
From their triumphant Camp; eager to taste
The fruits of victory, and meet th’ applause
Of a deliver’d nation. All Palermo
Stands on the watch of joyous expectation
To pour its welcome to those youthful victors,
Who have so nobly driven, I trust for ever,
The Moorish spoilers from our fruitful Isle.
It is a blest exploit! Reward it, Heaven,
With long, long years of happiness and fame.
The wily Moors had, by a nightly march,
Surprised our ardent and incautious army,
And gain’d the prince’s tent; his sacred blood
In that dread hour had issued at the stroke
Of midnight murder, had not Raymond then
Like lightning, darting through the gloomy storm,
Repell’d the black assassins, and restored
His prince to Life, to Victory, and Honor.
A people’s thanks, and everlasting praise
Shall crown the noble deed.
The generous Prince
Has own’d the mighty debt—He bade the camp
Shew choicest honors to his brave deliverer,
And tells the world, that he regards my son
As bound in closest friendship to his soul.
O may that friendship, yes! it must, endure
Uninjured, undiminish’d! The corrupt,
The brittle ties, that vice and folly form,
Shrink at the power of accident and time;
But friendship, founded on superior virtue,
Unshaken stands, and like its base, immortal.
True! thou dear eulogist!—but hark! our Sovereign—
Wilt thou retire awhile?
THE KING, MAJONE, VERINO, OFFICERS.
Still may success
Unwearied wait upon our Royal Master!
Thanks! my old Soldier, who from earliest days
With unremitted ardor hast display’d
Thy gallant spirit in thy sovereign’s cause!
I joy, that Raymond has so well pursued
The bright example of thy youth, and by
Transcendent valor proved himself thy son.
Thank Heaven! my boy has not disgraced our name!
He has preserv’d the honor of my crown:
A nation’s thanks shall to the world proclaim
How well he has deserv’d; and in our love
Next to the prince our son, henceforth we hold him.
Make him, kind Heaven! O make him ever worthy
These praises of his king!
Does not thy heart, Verino,
Pant with impatience for the wish’d return
Of our brave sons, in whom with pride we see
The glorious scenes of our past youth renew’d?
Would they were entering glad Palermo’s Gates!
Ere noon they will be here: throughout the city
Triumphant songs, festivity and mirth,
Shall speak aloud their welcome.
THE KING, SIAJONE, EUDORA, VERINO, OFFICERS.
Health, and glory,
Still shed their blessings on my gracious liege!
A Courier from the prince is just arrived:
Farther I have not learnt.
Thanks for thy news,
My gentle Fair —Go bring him to our presence!
Thou soon, Eudora, shalt behold thy Raymond
Adorn’d with glory equal to thy charms;
And be it long ere we shall call again
His ardent spirit to the field of peril
To fill thy heart with terror! well I know
How quick thy tender bosom takes alarm,
And trembles, anxious for a husband’s safety.
I must confess, my liege, a woman’s weakness;
But tho’ my frame will shudder at the thought
Of dangers, that my gallant Lord derides,
I trust I still have courage to adopt
His own just estimate of human blessings,
And hold his honor dearer than his life!
THE KI NG.
Thy mind, still better than thy matchless beauty,
Deserves a soldier’s heart.
THE KING, MAJONE, VERINO, EUDORA, SICARDI,
What from the Prince?
Thy looks already have forerun thy tongue,
And chill’d my blood with fear: all is not well:
But speak, and let us hear the worst!
The shades of death seem hovering o’er the Prince!
O say, where I may find the hapless youth,
And haste to throw a father’s arms around him?
Upon the road from Mazara, and lodged
Within the castle of the Count Verino
I left my royal Lord; ere my departure
Relentless death had more than half subdued
Contending nature, and I fear ere this
Has to the realms of endless peace consign’d
The people’s darling, and the soldier’s pride!
Is this the triumph, which my eager soul
Thirsted with fond impatience to behold!
But let me hear each dreadful circumstance!
Ere yester sun was set, the prince then warm
With present joy, and thoughts of future fame,
By chosen friends attended reach’d the castle:
Lord Raymond, on the wings of duteous love,
Had sped before him, eager to prepare .
For the reception of his royal guest:
In sweet society and genial mirth
The happy evening past. The pride of conquest
Glowed in each breast, and shone in every eye.
Little ’twas thought the morrow would reverse
Our fairest expectations: but, ere morn,
Severest tortures seized the unhappy prince,
Convulsive pangs so shook his laboring frame,
That scarce the semblance of himself remained.
What! all the vigor of his blooming youth!
All in a moment blasted—Oh my child!
The quick disease still gather’d strength, and mocked
The weak attempts of art.
In all the battle’s rage didst thou withhold
Thy unrelenting shaft, to wound more deeply,
And strike the hero in his hour of triumph?
O yet my liege, indulge not this despair!
Nature, assisted by the strength of youth,
Oft throws the burden of diseases from her,
And is again herself.
No, no, Majone,
Has he not said there is no room for hope?
And see a second messenger of death!
OFFICER, [entering hastily
Scarce have I power to tell my royal master,
That all our hope, our joy, is now no more.
Support me gracious Heaven!—Lead me, Majone,
Lead to my chamber!—Stay—yet would I know—
Speak thou, Sicardi, did the power of art
Find no immediate cause?— Why dost thou turn?
Why shrink, unwilling to resolve my question?
I charge thee speak!
Since you command my voice,
I must unfold, my liege, the painful truth:
It is contest no common cause, no ill,
Of all the train, which haunt the life of man
And tend by known degrees to dissolution,
Could thus have rack’d the suffering frame with torture
And left to speedy agonizing death:
Some baleful drug, some quick prevailing poison.—
What! poison saidst thou?
No! it cannot be:
Whence could proceed attempts against a life,
Which all confess much dearer than their own?
If there’s a villain, whose pernicious soul
Could form a crime of this infernal hue,
Mark him, just Heaven for my signal vengeance!
But utter all particulars!—I'll hear
Thy bare suspicions!
At your sacred word
I must perforce constrain my tongue to speak
What in this presence, it would fain suppress:
The Prince’s friends, in wildness of their grief,
Have thrown suspicion, where there least was cause,
And e’en accused Lord Raymond.
Ha! sayst thou Raymond!
Liar and slave! tis false—no voice but thine
Had dared to sully his illustrious name:
I know thou think’st my age.—.
Peace! Peace! Verino;
Grief and distraction have o’erwhelm’d my senses,
Trust me, brave veteran, if thy son be wrong’d—
I would, but cannot speak to thee, till time
Aids my crush’d faculties to bear this anguish.
[Exit, leaning on Majone, with attendants.
SICARDI, VERINO, EUDORA.
“If he be wrong’d!”—hast thou so soon forgot
The debt, thou once hadst virtue to acknowledge?
But ’tis affliction’s privilege to speak
What cool reflection will disclaim—for thee,
Thou villain slanderer.
Indeed, my Lord,
I spake no more than duty bade me utter.
Confusion mar the organs of thy speech
And sense forsake thee for thy vile aspersion!
Revered Verino, let thy daughter’s voice
Soothe the wild tumult of thy troubled soul!
Soon shall we see my injured Lord return,
And clear his honor to the admiring world:
Then let not passion thus distract my father,
But let his heart be still!
Be still, my daughter!
Thy voice, Eudora, would as soon persuade
Our Etna’s bursting caverns to be still,
When, in its gulph the fiery tempest swells.
Thou little know’st the niceties of honor;—
Honor! the wealth, the being of a Soldier!
If sharpest arrows pierce the tortured flesh,
'Tis in the power of art to soothe its anguish,
And make the shatter’d fibres join again:
But tenderer honor! if that chance to suffer,
E’en lightly suffer, with malicious joy
Envy will fret the wound, that slander gave,
Increase its pangs, and force it ne’er to close ’
I hope, my Lord, and doubt not, but Lord Raymond
Will make the world confess these strange suspicions
Have done him greatest wrong.
Villain! tis false;
I know what hopes such beings as Sicardi
Have harbour’d of my son—But hence I—be gone
Away I—thy sight is painful to my eyes,
And my soul sickens but to hear thy voice:
Hence! and expect my vengeance!
Know, my Lord,
I am not used to brook such insolence:
But age and grief claim pity more than anger,
And make me pardon, what I else would punish.
VERl NO, EUDORA.
Talk’st thou to me of pardon? gracious Heaven!
Why have I lived to this? O tell me why
You suffer thus to creep on earth a wretch,
Once great in arms, now doomed to stand exposed,
Weak, and unable to revenge the scorn,
Which every passing coward heaps upon him!
Return! return! sole succour of my age!
Return, my Son! in whom alone I live!
Come thou to heal the sufferings of my soul,
To throw dishonor back upon our foes,
And crush the slaves, who dare insult thy father!
Yes! he will come, with all-enlightening virtue,
Come, to confound the dark designs of falsehood,
And bid our troubled hearts revive again.
I think he will, Eudora! but alas!
Now that the fiercer fit of rage has left me,
Distracting thoughts rush in upon my mind:
The Prince, whose loss I feel with truest sorrow,
Dead on the sudden!—under Raymond’s roof!—
O, if ambition—if the lust of power,
Could have so far—No! no!
I will not think it. Yet whence could this --
O mv most honor’d Father,
Let not the trouble of your soul so far
Overwhelm your reason, as to make you doubt
Of things impossible.
Impossible! Thou well, my child, mayst call impossible,
What to thy nature must appear most strange;
Thou ne’er hast felt but gentle, fond desires;
Softness beyond thy sex, unclouded truth,
And sweet serenity of soul are thine:
Hence little knowst thou of the mind of man,
That wild, tempestuous, ever-shifting scene.
Where noblest faculties oft only serve
To minister to vice—where the fierce shock
Of lawless thoughts and turbulent desires
Will oft destroy the fairest plans of action,
By virtue form’d, and ratified by reason.
Tho’ little read in knowledge of mankind,
I know the heart, the inmost soul of Raymond
Incapable of ill, and true to honor;
His passions swell not to a wild excess,
And combat only on the side of virtue.
There, there, dear daughter, is my sole support;
Could I believe—no! thou hast rightly said:
It is impossible: and I have injured
My generous boy in doubting but a moment.—.
Struck by the lustre of superior truth
The King shall own that they have basely wrong’d him:
Our country too, if she can be deceived,
Shall soon repent the error, and behold,
With conscious pride, her young deliverer
Shine forth again with undiminish’d glory.
Thanks, thou excelling minister of vengeance
How was the happy fraud at first received?
How did they credit him, who dared accuse
Their new raised idol, Raymond?
O my Lord, Our sanctified Uberto has the power
To work still greater wonders—as I live,
I think he holds the popular opinion
But as his puppet; for unseen he guides it,
And to his purpose gives it voice and action.
He is a creature of most deep devices,
And exquisite hypocrisy: but wanting
Thy heart, Sicardi, he excites my doubts:
I wish we could have spared his services,
Important as they are.
Impossible, All noble Lord—consider but his office!
He as the Prince’s confessor must watch
His closing life, and ---
I know it—this associate
Was needful to us—he is firmly ours;
And yet my heart forebodes some evil from him.
Dismiss your fears, since all his hopes of fortune
Must rise and fall with your prosperity!
Remember too, how far we stand indebted
To his rare chymic skill! his hand prepared
The drug of subtlest potency, that ended
Your enemy’s existence.
Its forceful agency!
My lord, I did;
And finding its effect most rapid, flew
To bring you the great tidings, while Uberto
Exerts his priestly arts to make the people
Believe the Prince’s death the deed of Raymond.
'Tis well Sicardi; but we must not trust
That shifting sand, the popular opinion;
While yet our story holds in wild amaze
The gaping vulgar, we must try, my friend,
To make suspicion wear the face of proof.
I and Verino have this morn exchanged
Mutual professions of sincerest friendship.
Will not Verino, or his wary son
Suspect a rival’s friendship?
’Tis the curse
Of fools to hold suspicion a dishonor.
I will persuade him, that some unknown foe
Misguides the afflicted King, who threatens Raymond
With all, that vengeance can inflict upon him.
Verino’s pride will kindle at the thought,
And madly drive him to some desperate deed,
Which, having sunk them in the King’s esteem,
O’erwhelms at once the father and the son.
Your soul, my Lord, was surely form’d for empire,
And smiling fortune leads you to that grandeur,
Which nature seemed to claim for you, in framing
Your princely faculties.
At length, my friend
My happier genius has begun to triumph—
Now it exerts its power. There was a tune
When abject passion, when a foolish girl,
Engross’d my every thought, and held my mind
Enslaved, enervated. Thanks to her folly!
Eudora soon dispell’d the weak illusion.
My soul awaking from that idle dream,
Rose, with new vigor, to the warm pursuit
Of sovereign greatness.
The Sicilian sceptre,
Now sinking from the palsied hand of age,
Shall soon be given to thy superior guidance.
Yes my Sicardi, by the prince’s fall,
The paths of empire open to my view,
Clear of obstruction—but the sweets of vengeance,
Vengeance alone demands our present care:
Thou shalt repent thee of thy simple choice,
Ill-judging girl! O how my heart will swell
With the proud triumph of revenge—to see thee
Weep o’er the fallen minion of thy wishes,
And curse thy abject fate! but hence, Sicardi,
I must with keen attendance watch the King,
Work to a storm his undecided passions
And teach the bursting tempest where to fall!
Now fair deceit
Inspire my tongue, and let my clamorous sorrow
Assume the semblance of a generous zeal!
THE KING, MAJONE,
THE KING, [entering.]
Where, where, Majone is a Prince secure,
If all the blooming loveliness of youth
Crown’d with a mind benevolent as Heaven,
Can perish thus by treason?—O had I
Been born the humble lord of some poor cottage,
I had preserv’d my darling child in peace.
Now I’ve no comfort.
O my royal master
I lov’d the prince, e’en as a father lov’d him,
And feel the sharpness of a father's sorrow;
Tis not within the power of art to make
Such woes seem light, or soothe the troubled mind
To calm oblivion of a loss like this!
Yet there is vengeance;—vengeance can unbind.
The charm of grief, and o’er the fading cheek
Of cold affliction spread a smile of joy.
Could I with justice but revenge my son,
I think Majone, it would ease rny soul
Of half the burden, that now weighs me down:
But ne’er, O ne’er let my misguided vengeance
Rashly condemn the innocent to bleed!
Heaven shield the innocent! but shall our pride
Our empire’s dear delight be ravish’d from us,—
Shall the brave youth, who fought his country’s battles,
Untimely fall, by blackest treason fall,
And perish unreveng’d?—O had the wretch,
Whose treacherous heart could plan so base a deed,
Been born my brother, had he long been bound
In closest ties of friendship to my soul,
This hellish act would cancel every bond,
And I would drag him to the stroke of justice.
My kind Majone! well I know thy love
Is warm and zealous to revenge thy master:
Thou dost not think that Raymond can be guilty.
I would not think it—but alas I my liege,
The lust of empire in the youthful mind
Can burst the ties of gratitude and honor,
And dare, beyond what honest men can think;
I’ve heard but now, that two of Raymond’s train
Have publicly disclosed the dreadful deed
And proved their master’s guilt—this may be false,
So do I hope, and so believe it is;
Yet while he stands accused, ’twere due respect
To that dear youth, whose memory I doat on,
To hold Lord Raymond prisoner, but so slightly,
As least may hurt his freedom and his fame.
Thou counsel’st well, Majone, but alas
This bitter trial has o’erpowered thy master!
My soul has lost its strength, and wearied life
Is hastening to its close: yet would I live
To see the hour of vengeance.—’Tis from thee --
From thee, my good Majone, I expect it:
My power be thine, and whosoe’er he be,
Tho’ all the ministers of darkness hide him,
Produce the villain with such damning proof
That justice cannot pause! grant me but this,
And I will bow me to the will of Heaven,
Adore its mercies; and then die content.
Thanks easy dotard! thou dost well to yield
Thy falling sceptre to an abler hand!
Majone prospers:—Be thyself my soul,
Nor let weak scruples mar thy towering thoughts,
The noble end gives sanction to the means,
And all, that leads to greatness, must be great;
Thou shalt be mine; Thou! that alone art worth
The wishes of a man, unbounded power!
Thou! at whose nod the sons of earth submit,
Wisdom grows mute, and beauty yields her pride.
Alas! Eudora, ’twas not thus I wish’d
To meet thy kind embraces; ’twas not thus
I thought to pay thee for the restless hours Of tedious absence.
Thou art still the same,
Still rich in virtue, and unrivall’d honor.
Dear to my soul, far dearer than when first
I fondly listen’d to thy tender vows,
And holy marriage made me thine for ever.
Will not thy heart, will not thy spotless soul,
So nobly great, and shrined in such a form,
Kings might be proud to share their empire with thee,
Will it not mourn its melancholy lot
Joined to a wretch, and wedded to dishonor?
Canst thou; my Raymond, so unkindly question?
O had thy nature, (which it ne’er could be)
Had it been led from virtue’s sacred paths,
Had some wild start of frenzy, or ambition
Plung’d thee, unthinking, in a crime so great,
Could I in misery, in guilt, forsake thee?
No! Raymond, no! when thy repentant soul,
As soon it must, had seen its fatal error,
I should have echoed sigh to thee for sigh;
I should have watched thee weeping, till our tears
With mingled streams had wash’d out the offence,
’Till Heaven with mercy had beheld our sorrows,
And healed thy wounded spirit with forgiveness.
O thou most perfect! best beloved of women!
Yet, my dear Lord, I see thy troubled mind:
O let me soothe it! let me pour the balm
Of love into the wound, teach thee secure
In conscious virtue, to deride the malice
Of rancorous envy, to despise its arts,
Nor feel oppressed by phantoms of dishonor?
Now I am blest in thee, thou purest joy!
'Thou richest treasure; thou divinest good,
That gracious Heaven, in fulness of its bounty,
E’er deigned to shed upon the sons of men!
Yet must our hearts lament the royal youth,
Whose hovering spirit calls aloud on me
To avenge his murder.
Has thy friendly zeal
Unmasked the close assassin?
Heaven forgive me,
If my surmises wrong a troubled mind
As guiltless as my own—but I have seen
Those signs of hurry, fear, and perturbation
In the o’erbusy Priest, that --
Where is my Soldier, whose ungrateful country
Pays him for its security and fame
With all the indignities of vile suspicion?
Hark ’ my father!
I strongly wish, yet almost dread to meet him.
Leave me, my life, but for a few short minutes,
To calm his trouble; and I then will fly
To the soft bosom of my dear Eudora,
Whose love is honor, and whose words are peace!
O my brave son! come to thy father’s arms,
And pour thy spirit in this aged heart!
My lord! my father! tis to you I owe
The little value, which your son can boast;
To you, as to its judge, my grateful heart
Has ever bowed; each action of my life
Has ta’en its color from your voice alone;
Fame was imperfect, till confirmed by you:
And what is slander, which you disbelieve?
Shame to the wretch, who can behold thee Raymond,
And think thou art a villain; but my son,
What strange mysterious troubles hover o’er thee!
Whence are these wonders? and what murd’rous hand
Has ta’en the prince’s life, and aims at thine?
Tell me, my son, how far thine eyes have pierced
Into this scene of darkness!
VERINO, RAYMOND, OFFICER WITH GUARDS.
Pray, my lord,
Forgive the unwilling messenger of ill!
I have strict orders to arrest Lord Raymond,
And bear him instantly to close confinement.
By Heaven it shall not be: Old as I am,
I will not tamely see my child destroyed
By the base arts of deep designing villains.
My noble father, moderate your rage!
It is a soldier’s glory to obey;
Were each man injured, to indulge his wrath,
And madly dare to be his own avenger,
The beauteous chain of order would be broken;
And horrid anarchy o’erturn the world.
For me, I hold it cowardice to doubt
The justice of my king, and freely pardon
This harsh command to his afflicted age!
Sir I obey.
I am reproved, my Raymond,
Pardon, thou gallant youth, thy father’s frenzy!
And be the weakness of my soul forgotten
In the bright blaze of thy superior virtue!
MAJONE, VERINO, RAYMOND, OFFICER, &c.
MAJONE, [entering hastily.]
I come, Verino, as your friend, I come,
In just compassion to your suffering age,
And that brave youth, whose fame is basely wronged,
To warn you of the dangers that await you:
Have you received the king’s commands? a fate
More horribly severe attends your son:
But these are matters for your private ear,
And claim your deepest thought—we must retire.
My Lord, my orders were—
Sir, I attend you:
Be comforted my Father, for thy son
Is armed for every exigence,
Best portion of my being!
[Exit with Majone.]
RAYMOND, OFFICER AND GUARDS.
Thou, firm power, Thou, Innocence, bright guardian of the soul!
Thou shalt support me still—thy cheering aid
Can make my dungeon luminous, or take
The stings of anguish from ignoble death!
SCENE I.~A PRISON.
Most fortunate prevention! had Verino
Once gained admittance to the troubled King,
His grief, his age, and proofs of service past,
Might have destroyed our hopes, and cancelled all
The King’s suspicions on the guilt of Raymond!
It might Sicardi; had not my precaution
Rendered such interview impossible.
O had you seen the proud old man repulsed
Grief, disappointment, anger, and despair
Convulsed his shattered frame.—Homeward at length
His servants bore him, overwhelm’d with rage,
And wanting power to threaten, or complain:
Soon as reviving nature gives him strength,
Hither I know he’ll hasten to his son,
Would you then meet him here?
He shall not find me;
I came to place—but be it now thy care!
Find me some trusty soldier, who may watch
The son and father when they next shall meet,
And bring me instant tidings of their purpose.
I fly, my Lord, to execute your wish.
Stay, my Sicardi! I would have a letter
Despatched to Raymond from a friend unknown,
To heighten still their fear, and further urge them
To deeds of desperation—
I, my Lord,
Live but to aid your great designs.
My friend, Prepare to reap, with me, the golden fruit!
Yet is our plan imperfect, till our arts
Can lead the King, by glaring marks of guilt,
To order Raymond to immediate death.
And sudden it must be; suspicion else
May fire the troops, who worship as their idols
Verino, and his son .
Thou sayst, Sicardi,
Raymond oft quitted the expiring prince—
Yes, my dear Lord, unable to support
That scene of agony, and pressed, I think,
To leave the chamber, by the calm Uberto,
Who wished not such a witness of the scene.
The priest did wisely—
Yet perchance, my Lord,
Raymond was present at the latest pang;
For oft he would return, and oft retire
Unable to assist the shrieking youth,
Before whose final moment, my quick zeal
Had brought me to your lordship.
’Tis no matter;
His frequent absence from the dying boy
Will answer my design:—Canst thou not forge
A scroll, short, incoherent, and confused?
Broken by pain, and dictated in death?
Such from the Prince?—but haste, my good Sicardi,
Dispose our sentinel, and meet thy friend
Where more securely we may join our counsels;
And, like the unseen spirits of destruction,
From thickest clouds send forth our secret shafts,
Strike our blind foes, and triumph in their fall.
Amid the tumults of tempestuous life,
Tho’ strange events confound the wond’ring mind,
Thou, virtue, art unmoved! How should I joy
To quit this troubled scene, but that thy voice
Forbids the thought, and whispers to my soul
Its task is unperformed! O thou blest spirit!
Thou murdered friend, whose blood is charged on him
Who would have bought thy being with his own!
Support, inspire me, and instruct thy
Raymond now best to satisfy thy injured shade!
[Raymond retires to the farther part of the Stage.]
Is this a mansion for Verino’s son?
And menaced with the rack!—-hold, reason, hold!
RAYMOND, [coming forward]
My noble father, welcome to thy son!
Still have I from my earliest years enjoyed
Thy tenderest care, and still my grateful soul
Has sought thy praise, and gloried in thy love.
Thou hast, my Raymond, thou excelling youth!
Joy of thy old fond father! but, alas!
I come not now, as in our happier days,
To pour a warrior’s spirit in thy breast,
To fire thy soul, and point the way to fame:
I come, my child, the messenger of horror!
O speak, my Lord! whatever fate be mine,
’Twill yet be pleasure to a mind oppressed
To learn that fate from you.
Couldst thou believe,
The King rejects me!— has refused to see
The loyal servant, who, with truth unshaken,
Thro’ the long course of no inglorious life,
Has fought his battles, and upheld his power.
He has denied me, what a slave might challenge,
The privilege to speak, and dooms my child
To infamy and torture.
Then no more
Must Raymond hope to see his Prince revenged.
I still have friends, have honest valiant friends,
Who yet shall save us from that scene of horror:
The generous spirits, who at my command
Have rushed to conquest, will defend that virtue
Which led them on to glory! They will join
In brave resentment with an injured father.
O! let me die in agonies more fierce
Than nature e’er endured, rather than lead
My honored father to forget his duty;
To stain the glories of a life well spent,
And perish in rebellion!
Not preserve thee!
Not save thee from the rack! am I a father?
Can I be deaf to nature, when she bids me
Obey her strongest law, and haste to guard
My darling child from ignominious death?
From that ungrateful, that unworthy King.—
He was a father too: and mourns a child,
Whose virtues charmed the world—perhaps already
He has condemned his own too easy faith,
Which wronged your son: ere now perhaps he seeks
To sooth his sorrows with your faithful counsel,
And calls for comfort on his friend Verino!
[Enter an officer.
I have engaged at hazard of my life,;
To give this letter to Lord Raymond’s hand!
What means, my Raymond, this mysterious paper?
The King, misguided by thy bitterest foes,
Believes thee guilty; and resolves by torture
To force thee to confession: still they fear,
Lest the wronged army should demand its idol:
Hence ’tis decreed securely in thy prison,
This night to execute their horrid purpose.
If yet thou canst, regard this friendly warning,
And fly to join a numerous band, who wait thee
With anxious ardor, and a fixed resolve
To guard thy life, or perish in thy cause!
Wilt thou not listen to the noble call
Of generous friendship? not attempt to fly
From death, from shame, from torture?
No! my Father;
If I must die; I doubt not but hereafter,
Time, who ne’er fails, tho' slow, to draw the veil
From truth’s bright image, will inform the world,
And do full justice to my injured honor.
And shall these eyes, that have beheld thy triumphs,
That from thy childhood to this fatal hour
Have gazed with transport on thee, shall they see
Thy graceful form with agony distorted,
And lost in blood and horror
Perhaps, my Raymond, when convulsive anguish
Writhes thy torn limbs, and nature sinks beneath it,
Perhaps thy lips may speak—thou knowst not what—
If to ourselves our strength be known, my mind
Is proof ’gainst every pang: But thou, my father,
Thou shalt not suffer, not a moment suffer
A fear so deadly to a heart like thine:
No! take my dagger, and by one kind blow
Anticipate, elude the shameful sentence!
So thou shalt ’scape the horrid scene, whose image
Thus harrows up thy soul; so shall thy son,
Unlike a criminal, and worthy thee,
Yield his last breath with pleasure in thy sight,
And bless the hand, that saves him from disgrace.
By Heaven ’tis well:—thy spirit has awaked
New powers within my soul: Yes! noble youth!
Since cruel destiny alike denies thee
To live with honor, or with brave revenge
To fall, as suits a soldier, in the field,
I will defeat the malice of our foes;
I will, tho’ nature shudders at the thought,
I will preserve thee from--
Behold my breast.
And can this arm, that in thy tender years
So oft, with exquisite delight has borne thee,
Proud of its little charge—can it forget,
That heaven ordained it to protect thy being,
Not shed thy blood!—what would thy mother say,
Had death not saved her from this dreadful hour?
O she could never, never poorly wish
Her son should linger out a few sad moments
To die dishonoured.
No! thou shalt not be so—;
Be firm my heart! be firm!
Strike! strike, my Father!
sTis but a blow, and thou art placed beyond
The grasp of power!
Complete thy generous purpose!
1 will, I will- —O Heaven! and has the grave—
Stay, blessed spirit! -- yet a moment stay!—
What would my father? speak?
Whence is this wild amazement in thine eyes?
Sawst thou not thy mother?
Her troubled spirit shot in anger by!
Believe me, sir, 'tis idle mockery all!
The mere creation of a mind disordered!
It may, it must be so:—but the sad image
Has withered all my little strength:—This hand,
This faltering hand, as soon could force a passage
To the dark centre of the earth—as wound
The bosom of my child.
Then let me aid
That failing arm, unequal to thy soul; ,
Give me the dagger!
Though my heart be frozen,
I will deliver thee. Not shed thy blood,
I cannot that—nor see my slaughtered boy
Expiring at my feet: yet I will free thee—
A friendly poison—aye—without a pang!
I will receive it as the dearest gift
Of a kind father’s love.
No racks—no tortures—no disgraceful death-
No—our inhuman foes-----they shall not triumph —
Pride of my soul! they shall not—no my child,
I fly to set thee free—Farewell for ever.
Yes! thou sure end of sorrow! friendly refuge
From persecution, tyranny, and pain!
I will embrace thee, death. I will eager rush
To thy protecting shade, since hope no more
Can give to fading life those flattering colours,
Which please, tho’ false, and cheat us into joy.
My dreams are vanished, my delusive dreams
Of future years! all pregnant with delight,
And sweet connubial love! for I must leave thee
Leave thee defenceless in this world of trouble,
Thou lovely partner of my faithful heart!
Yet ere my lingering soul is severed from thee,
I fain would press thee with a dying hand,
Leave on thy lips one parting kiss, and yield
My latest breath in fervent prayers, that Heaven
May sooth the sufferings of my loved Eudora.
My Lord! my husband I take me to thy arms,
And let us part no more! but let me still
Thro’ every fortune be thy dear companion!
Now, as I entered here, I thought I heard,
Or love deceived me with a fancied sound,
Thy lips pronounce my name.
Thou heardst aright,
Thou, ever present to my constant mind!
Tho’ deepest horrors, shame, and death, and anguish
Press me on every side, still is thy image
First in my thoughts, and nearest to my soul.
I wish to tell thee,—but, by Heaven, I cannot—
How shall I teach my tongue to wound thine ear
With such a tale?
What! has infernal falsehood
Reached thy dear life?
Thy fears too well inform thee:
Yes! I must die—if, ye almighty powers,
If ye regard the prayer, the righteous prayer
Of innocence oppressed, O hear me now!
For every ill which you have heaped on me,
Pour down a blessing on this beauteous head,
Let not affliction—
Think, yet think my Lord,
Canst thou not ’scape from these detested walls?
Canst thou not fly unseen? O I will follow thee
Thro’ every peril, to the utmost verge
Of this wide earth; to some far happier clime,
Unstained by falsehood, and to guilt unknown.
Vain is thy matchless tenderness and love:
O! I must tell thee all—my open soul
Can never hide a single thought from thee,
But summon all thy fortitude, I pray thee,
And hear it like thyself! E’en now, my father
Distracted told me, that the king misled,
Dooms me to death—’tis said, that in my prison
This night, the rack—
O tyranny accurst!
Distraction! horror! what thy limbs be torn!
Thou, thou endure the torture!
Banish the dreadful image from thy fancy.
We are prepared against it.
Tell me Raymond!
A SERVANT, [entering]
My Lord Verino sends --
Enough! my friend,
I know thy message: give me what thou bring’st,
And say in answer to my noble father,
I bless him for a thousand proofs of kindness,
But chiefly for the last.
O speak, my Raymond,
Explain these horrid mysteries, while yet
My reason holds, and I have sense to hear thee!
Compose this wild emotion of thy soul!
Thou shalt not see me sunk to the condition
Of vilest criminals, and made a prey
To the stern ministers of blood and torture:
My father’s love has armed me well against them;
I wait, Eydora, but to take a long,
A last farewell of thee, and then my soul,
Enfranchised by this friendly drug, shall soar
Beyond oppression, and elude its power.
Must thou destroy thyself? think what it is
To die unbidden! to throw off obedience,
And in defiance of divine command,
Rush to the presence of offended Heaven!
Thus humbly on my knees let me entreat thee
To weigh the rash design!
Can my Eudora
Be thus unmindful of her husband’s honor?
Can she, with tears, entreat him to preserve
A few sad moments of precarious life
To die disgraced, in agony and shame!
O witness, Heaven ’ that I have ever prized
Thy honor as thy life!—they both may yet--
Thy grief, my love, overwhelms thy troubled reason:
Life stands no longer in thy husband’s choice:
I die to shun dishonorable death;
The rack’s prepared—no power—
Yes, Raymond, yes!
There is a power: that all-protecting hand,
Which oft has saved thee in the rage of battle,
And turned the uplifted falchion from thy head,
May still preserve thee. I conjure thee, do not
Resign that hope! do not, by blindly yielding
To fierce despair, distract thy wretched wife,
Forsake thy children; and distrust thy God!
I must not hear thee, for thy pleasing voice
Has known so long the passage to my soul,
That it may steal on my unguarded reason,
And lead me to forget the call of honor,
The expectations of a generous father.
He saw me doomed to infamy and torture,
And sends me freedom; shall he hear that I,
In weak compliance with a woman’s tears,
Dare not embrace the remedy he gives?
Shall he despise me for an abject coward?
Despise the son, whom yet he fondly thinks
Firm like himself, and resolutely brave!
O Raymond, say! what is it to be brave?
?Tis, to maintain the glorious cause of truth;
To fear not man; but, strong in conscious virtue.
And the protection of approving Heaven,
To stand unshaken in the sternest hour
That puts to proof the temper of his soul.
By Heaven, thy words have changed my every sense,
And thou appearst to my enlightened eyes
A guardian angel, speaking with a voice
Of eloquence divine; inspired by thee,
And surely thou art virtue’s self, my soul
Shall quit its hasty purpose—Thou hast armed me
With nobler courage—I can now despise,
And calmly meet the terrors of my fate.
O blessed change! Illusion now has left
Thy noble mind; thou art thyself again:
Some Heavenly spirit checks my rising fears,
And whispers to me, we shall yet be happy:
But let me haste, nor lose these precious moments;
I'll force admittance to our royal master,
Will set thy innocence, thy worth before him,
And visit thee again with life and honor!
SCENE I.—THE PALACE.
The King will soon regard this awful paper,
(Thanks to the cunning of Sicardi’s hand!)
As the last prayer of his expiring son,
And Raymond dies; my hated rival, dies,
And falling, leaves my path to sovereign power
Free from its worst impediment.
SICARDI, [entering hastily.]
My Lord! I bring you tidings, that surpass the reach
Of warmest expectation. Blind Verino,
Wild with despair, and dread of public shame,
To save his son from a disgraceful death,
Has given him poison.
By our hopes ’tis great:
Fate seems to labor to fulfil my wishes,
And when in thought I seal my rival’s death,
To aid my great designs, obedient nature
Cancels her strongest law, and arms for me
A father’s hasty hand to kill his child;
On him then be the blood! But say! did Raymond
Yield such exact obedience to Verino
As not to hesitate?
That is, my Lord,
What I am yet to learn: the trusty spy,
Whom 1 had stationed to observe their purpose,
Heard long discourse, but soon as he informed me
Of this its desperate issue, I in haste
Flew to apprise you of this great event,
Ere you could shew that paper to the King,
Which now’tis better to conceal. .
Ere Raymond’s death be known, I will appear,
His warmest advocate; so shall I keep
The secret motions of my heart disguised,
And ’scape that vengeance, which I else might fear
From those, who may lament him.
Hark! my Lord.
A sound of tumult!
GUARDS, [behind the scene]
No! you must not pass.
EUDORA, [behind the scenes]
Do not forbid affliction to appear
Where justice dwells!
It is Eudora’s voice:
She comes, unknowing of her husband’s fate,
To supplicate the King: I could not wish
A better witness of the zeal I mean
To shew for Raymond’s life: retire my friend,
And keep a watchful eye upon Verino.
MA JONE, EUDORA entering with LELIO, and OTHER ATTENDANTS.
How hard the heart of that unfeeling wretch,
Who strives to banish from the ear of power
The plaintive cries of innocence oppressed!
'Tis not incruelty itself to bar
Eudora’s passage: Beauty of such lustre
Shining thro’ tears, and lovely in affliction,
Might force obedience from a ruthless savage.
The King, whose presence I am here expecting,
Will surely yield to your resistless prayers,
And clear the honor of your injured Lord.
But see! our Sovereign comes!
THE KING, MAJONE, EUDORA, LELI0, and OTHER ATTENDANTS.
THE KING, [entering.]
O do not turn, my gracious liege, from, her
Who once was happy in your royal favor!
I come, an humble suppliant, to implore
The blessed spirit of impartial justice,
Whose throne is in the bosom of my King.
I grieve to find my sorrows must receive
Increase from thine; full well Eudora knows
That I have looked on her as on my daughter;
That I was fondly pleased to see her wedded
To an aspiring youth, whom once thought
Surpassing all in loyalty and honor.
O think so still! believe me, while 1 swear
By Heaven’s all-seeing power, that not a thought
Of base ingratitude, or blind ambition,
Has stained the virtues, which you once admired:
That Raymond bears, thus injured as he is,
A mind as spotless, and a heart as loyal,
As Sicily can boast.
I am persuaded
Thou think’st so of him, and I would, to Heaven,
That thou wert not deceived.
Am 1 deceived?
Do I not know myself? for O my liege,
Our souls are one, and not a thought e’er rose
In Raymond’s mind, which was not known to me.
Thou dost not know the frenzy of ambition.
O! if my King suspects, that thirst of empire
Can taint a mind, which never sought distinction.
Save what arises from superior virtue,
Banish my Raymond! let us fly together
To some lone spot, some unfrequented wild!
There, like the first inhabitants of earth,
We may securely live, in that sweet peace,
Which ever dwells with innocence and truth.
My mournful soul, tho’ loaded with affliction,
Felt every pang redoubled, when I heard
That two, who followed Raymond, have confirmed
The charge against him, and proclaim their lord
The murderer of my son!
Can there be wretches
So deeply tainted with ungrateful falsehood?
Monsters of perfidy! -- as worthy credence
As the base atheist, who denies his maker!
These slaves may be suborned by envious malice.
Can the bold falsehood of unblushing traitors,
Can oaths, like theirs, confound the voice of truth,
And in the bosom of a King outweigh
The nobler witness of a soul well tried,
Untainted honor, and a life of glory?
O hapless virtue! where art thou secure,
When man is partial to each foe of thine,
And quick to credit every monstrous tale,
Which art can frame, and villany suggest?
Thou wrong’st me much: but I forgive, and love
Thy generous warmth: yet know me for thy friend!
By Heaven I swear, that wretched as I am,
’Twould give me truest joy, to see thy Raymond
Clear every doubt, and rise again to fame.
Eternal blessings on the noble mind,
Which forms that virtuous wish!—Beware my liege!
Beware of treacherous art! nor think I plead
For Raymond’s life alone! I plead for you:
For think! O think what agonies of soul
Must rend your bosom, if, by fraud misled,
You doom my Lord to death, and find too late,
That you have slaughtered, as your son’s assassin,
The gallant soldier, who preserved that son,
The man who honored, and the friend who loved him!
O think of this! and grant me one request!
That on the cunning semblances of guilt,
Which frontless perjury may cast on Raymond,
You will not hastily decide, but swear,
For the small space of only three short months,
To hold his life as sacred!
Join in this just request! I dare affirm,
At hazard of my life, that Raymond bears
A heart too noble, and too firm a spirit
To wrong his sovereign by a timorous flight.
Generous Majone! may that power reward thee.
Who pours his blessings on the sons of pity!
Yes! my Eudora, thy request is granted:
But, till the time, thou pray’st for, is expired,
See me no more! I would be left to dwell
In silent sorrow on the loved idea
Of my unhappy child. I must retire,
And try to reconcile my tortured mind
To Heaven’s most dreadful sentence; oh farewell!
And be my virtuous wishes crowned with peace!
[Exit the King.
MAJONE, EUDORA, LELIO, and ATTENDANTS,.
Good Angels visit thee with Heavenly comfort!
Thou faithful Lelio seek my Lord Verino!
Raise him to happier thoughts, and bid him haste
To shed the tears of joy on Raymond’s breast,
In thankful adoration of that power,
Which has preserved us from impending horror;
Which gives us now to think, our youthful hero
Will rise superior to the wounds of slander,
And run with glory, the full course of life!
[Exit with her attendants.
Hence! and indulge, deluded as thou art,
Thy momentary triumph I on thy steps
The powerful genius of Majone waits,
To pay me amply for thy transient pleasure,
And for the lively beams of flattering hope,
To pour the darkness of despair upon thee!
[To MAJONE, enter sicardi. '
Whence, my Sicardi, this disordered haste?
Alas ’ my lord, our better plans are blasted:
Raymond still lives: Eudora’s piety,
With fond entreaties, and prevailing tears,
Awaked him from despair; taught him to scorn
The desperate remedy of self-destruction,
And trust his being to the power who gave it.
Curse on her saintly pride! it ever springs
To thwart my great designs: but ’twill not be;
The glorious aim of spirits like to mine
Is not defeated by a doleful prayer—
This paper still shall urge the troubled King
To break his promise, and the very suit,
In which I lent my voice, to aid Eudora,
Shall, as my instrument of vengeance, serve
To hasten Raymond’s death.—But say my friend,
What learn you of Verino?
Now retired, He broods in silence o’er his violent deed,
As yet unknowing that Eudora’s tears
Prevailed on Raymond to neglect his present,
He thinks him poisoned.
Let him think so still!
It shall be now my first, my greatest care
To keep him thus deceived—hence may arise
Most glorious mischief, and of this at least
We shall be sure, that while Verino thus
Laments the fancied murder of his son,
He cannot mar the arts I now must use
To ruin Raymond with the King.—But time
Calls us my friend to seize the golden minute,
Which hastes to crown us with our great reward!
AN APARTMENT IN VERINO'S HOUSE.
What art thou now, my child? thy gentle spirit
Is fled ------ ah whither fled?------
Mysterious, unknown terrors crowd upon me—
This trembling withered body would impart
Its weakness to my soul; but thou support me!
Thou! who, delivered from this treacherous world,
Art free to range with spirits like thyself!
Now, thou blest being! now assist thy father,
Who fondly conscious of thy spotless virtue,
Hacked his own heart, and strained the powers of nature
To save that virtue from accurst oppression!
Teach me to find thee thro’ those dreary paths,
That mock the searches of inquiring man!
Look down, my Raymond while --
VERINO, enter LELIO.
Ah ’ what art thou,
Who dar’st, in scorn of my express command,
To break upon my privacy? Begone!
My gracious Lord, the tidings that I bear
Will plead in my excuse,
Ah! thou art come
But to repeat a melancholy tale,
I know too well: yet say! didst thou behold --
That injured spirit take its joyful flight
From this accursed earth?
Your words, my Lord, amaze and terrify.
Dost thou not bring
A last farewell from my expiring son
To his fond father? Speak! •
My gracious Lord,
I have not seen Lord Raymond; but I come
With joy to tell you, that your dear Eudora
Has taught our royal master to respect
His injured virtue, and almost restore him
To full possession of suspended honor;
Then fear not for his life.
Slave I wouldst thou mock me?
But I perceive thee villain! thou art sent
By some insidious foe to rack my brain,
And torture me to madness!
Can mv Lord
Suspect that faith, he has so oft acknowledged?
By many years of duty well approved,
By the loved virtues of your son I swear,
I heard, and heard with joy unspeakable,
Our generous sovereign pledge his royal word
To your dear daughter, that he yet would hold
Lord Raymond’s life as sacred as his own.
Then am I curst beyond the reach of Heaven.
My son! my innocent, my murdered son!
Oh! I have plunged into a gulf of horror,
Whence not the mercy of a pitying God
Could snatch my sinking soul! O Raymond! Raymond!
[Falls into the arms of Lelio]
What moans this dreadful agony, which thus
Shakes his enfeebled age? I fear the shock
Of his son’s late dishonor has o’erwhelmed
His troubled reason. But reviving strength
Dawns in his face. How fares my worthy lord?
My faithful Lelio! ah!
Let me support
Your faltering steps, and guide them to your son,
Who free from danger, and restored to fame,
Wants but your presence to complete his triumph.
I have no son: why, Heaven? why had I ever
Haste, haste to fly me, nor disgrace thyself
By shameful kindness to a wretch, whose pride
Has burst the bonds of nature, and destroyed
The worthiest son, that ever blest a father!
I, I have murdered Raymond!
Yet he may live—some blessed chance may yet
Keep my infernal present from his lips:
Ah no, false flattering hope! He never knew
His father form a wish, how wild soever,
But with the fervor of a fond obedience
He hasted to fulfil it: and that father,
That honored, much-loved father in return
Has murdered him
If there is room to doubt,
Still think the watchful and o’er-ruling power,
Which guards the virtuous, has preserved your son;
Still hope my lord!
Oh blessed heavenly sound!
Yes I will hope:—But let us fly to clear
The dreadful doubt!—now mercy! mercy Heaven!
MAJONE, VERINO, LELIO.
VERINO as he is going out, meets Majone.
O say, my friend, canst thou inform me aught
Would to Heaven I had not
So sad a tale of misery to tell!
O! lost again! beyond recovery lost!
Ill fated youth! now when thy King resolved
To shield thy valor from the shafts of envy!
How hard to perish by a base assassin!
Curse on the envious wretch, the hellish fiend,
Who robbed the world of thy unequalled virtue.
Curse on forever! search thro’ earth and hell
For curses never merited till now!
And pour them all on this devoted head!
I am that wretch! I am that hellish fiend!
1 murdered Raymond, I destroyed my son -----
Blind credulous fool! I leave thee to thy frenzy.
Since I have nothing now to dread from thee,
I haste secure to end the mighty work
Of vengeance and ambition!
Earth gape wide!
And instant hide me——
O! my wretched Lord!
To kill a child so loving, and so loved -----
Nor earth, nor air, nor the dark sea contain,
A monster so abhorred.—
O grant him patience!
Hark! hark! a voice! it is my Raymond speaks.
See! to a synod of enquiring angels
He tells the dreadful tale:—they stand aghast:
They call for vengeance equal to the crime:
But see! he pleads, my generous child! for me:
He pleads for mercy on the hand, that slew him.
The murdering father!
My good lord retire!
No no! it must not be—Vengeance divine
Denies the suit— Hark how she calls Verino!
See! see! she beckons—let her victim go!
I own her justice; and I haste to meet it.
SCENE I.—THE PALACE.THE KING, MAJONE, OFFICERS, &c.
'Tis unexampled treachery; beyond
The reach of thought! my foolish easy nature
With false compassion pleaded for his life;
Joined in Eudora’s suit; nor would believe
Strong proofs of guilt: but these heart-piercing words.
These sacred orders of my dying prince
Strike full conviction on my soul! I fly
To see his murderer pay blood for blood
With ample retribution.
Yes! let him expire
In tortures equal to his guilt! but thou!
Stay thou, my good Majone! to support
The fainting spirits of thy aged master!
Tho' all my prayer was to revenge my son,
A thousand thoughts embitter my revenge,
And make the justice, which I longed to do
Most grievous to my soul: the mild Eudora,
And old Verino cannot share his falsehood:
Worn out with battles nobly fought for me!
He could not enter into hellish leagues,
Against his master, and his friend: Inform me,
Where is Verino?
Passing to the palace.
But now my liege, I heard the unhappy chief
Rave in wild frenzy to the pitying crowd,
Who pressed to gaze upon him: now in scorn
He curst his foes: and now with bitter groans,
That pierced the heart, he cried, “ my murdered Raymond!”
And ever as he spoke that much loved name,
Rent the white locks in anguish from his head,
And drenched them in his tears.
Anon, a sudden swell of frantic joy
Appeared to drown remembrance of his grief,
And lift his soul to Heaven; but sunk as sudden,
And plunged him deeper in the gulf of horror.
What! my companion! my old faithful soldier
Could he distracted wander in our streets,
Without a friend to lead him to his home?
Many, my liege, with kindest art have tried
To guide him to a place of rest; but still
He slighted all.—And some of warmer zeal
With gentle force endeavoured to compel him:
Then raged he more, and instantly a number
Of angry veterans interfered, who oft
Had fought beneath him in the fields of glory,
In pity mingled with religious awe
They gazed upon him, swore he should not suffer
Constraint so painful, and thus forced his friends
To give his madness way—but see! my liege,
See! where with frantic and triumphant gesture
He rushes on toward you!
THE KING, MA JONE, OFFICERS, &C.
Enter VERINO. [distracted]
Hang up fresh garlands on the palace gates!
Let the young virgins scatter flowers before him-----
And swell their voices to the victor’s praise!
Let their sweet songs to listening Heaven proclaim,
That valiant Raymond, old Verino’s son,
Returns triumphant from the vanquished Moors—
See! sec! he comes -----
Twelve Moorish Princes drag his golden car,
And crouch beneath his frown!
But see! behold a hellish fiend, whose breath
Would blast the brightness of the mid-day sun
Has seized him in his course: ah me! she tears
His laurel crown, and in its place inscribes
Infernal characters; see! round his brow,
Whence beamed the radiance of a God, she spreads
A hideous gloom, and brooding in the midst
Sits haggard Shame:—avaunt detested slander!
Alas! the fate of his unworthy son
O’erwhelms his mind, and drowns in deepest horror
His nobler faculties.
Will you believe it?
Will you, ungrateful, credit such a tale?
Is that a countenance of guilt? that face
Where honor sits enthroned! where from the dawn
Of earliest youth each opening virtue bloomed!
Ah me! they hear me not—Ingratitude
Has steeled their hearts; they have forgotten all
My boy’s exploits, the glories of his youth:
Slander has cancelled all, and see they send
Their brave deliverer to a dungeon’s gloom,
To die disgraced, to perish like a robber!
This piteous spectacle will rend my heart:
I cannot bear his wretchedness: Majone,
Try thou to sooth him—-and with mild persuasion
To lead him hence!
MAJONE, to VERINO.
Come my good lord, be comforted!
Compose your spirits—all will yet be well!
Let me attend you to -----
No! Raymond, no!
Thou shalt not to the rack! should we endure it,
Oh should I suffer thee, my son, to finish
Thy days of glory, by a death so vile,
The gallant soldiers, our great ancestors,
E’en in their very graves would shake with horror:
And their pure spirits in the realms of bliss,
Would scorn to join in fellowship with ours,
Nor own us for their line—it shall not be!
I will preserve thee yet—still in my bosom
I wear a faithful guard against dishonor:
Tis but a blow—-’I’ve struck it—thou art free!
[Wounds Majone and exit.
THE KING, MAJONE.
O fatal deed! the blindness of his frenzy
Has murdered good Majone:
No! my liege
Thanks to my better stars! I yet am safe:
The guardian swiftness of my ready hand
Turning his dagger’s point, has made its wound
My gracious master! I tremble still to think your sacred life
Stood in his frenzy’s reach. Our love and duty
To you, and to the state enjoins us all
To press for Raymond’s death, and the confinement
Of this old maniac, whose distempered mind
May spread sedition.
Thou say’st true Majone.
See him safe lodged under some gentle guard,
And swiftly bid the stroke of justice fall
Upon his guilty son! I shall not rest
Till thou return’st with tidings, that his blood
Has flowed in just atonement to thy prince.
[Exit with Officers]
My proudest hopes are realized, and sovereignty
Appears already mine:
[To MAJONE, enter SICARDI.]
What now Sicardi?
My prosperous lord our provident Uberto
Anxious to aid us with the giddy rabble,
And hurry Raymond’s fate, has reached the city.—
Before a litter with the prince’s body,
Bare-headed, and denouncing heavenly vengeance
On all we hate, he fires the gathering croud,
And guides the maddening tumult to our wishes.
Excellent priest! His presence will prevent
What most I feared, the rescue of our foe;
Haste, and direct his holy voice to pour
Its potent thunders round the important spot,
Where Raymond at this moment is led forth
To public death. Expect me in that scene!
There the rich banquet of revenge awaits us!
RAYMOND and EUDORA, WITH GUARDS, &c.
Take this last kiss’.—yet once more let me bless thee!
And now farewell! O haste my love to leave me!
And hide thy killing softness from my sight!
Tis there I feel the anguish of my fate.
No! no! thou dear supporter of my being,
1 cannot, must not leave thee.
Spare thine eyes
This horrid scene of blood!
’Tis not in absence
To save me from the sight—these wretched eyes
Will see thee ever—till they close in death
Still must they have thy mangled form before them.
My lord you must prepare.
Bind! bind these arms!
If he is guilty I am guilty too;
And beg to perish with him.
O! my love,
Collect thy noble fortitude! and raise
Thy drooping soul to better thoughts! remember
Thy virtue taught my mind a due submission
To Heaven’s high will, and saved my hands from guilt:
Thou my angelic monitor prepared’st
My soul for future bliss, and O if ever
Departed beings may to earth repair,
Still as thy guardian will I hover round thee:
And here my latest breath shall beg of Heaven
To give thee peace, and heal thy wounded spirit.
Pray not to Heaven to punish me with life
When thou art severed from me!
Good my lord,
Excuse me! but fresh orders are arrived,
That claim my prompt obedience.
Friend, forgive me!
I will but fold her once more to my heart:
To quit this bosom is indeed to burst
My strings of life: The rest is but a form,
That will be briefly past—nor feared, nor felt.
Judge of the world! desert not innocence!
Yet save him—yet preserve--
[A loud Shout is heard]
AND A VOICE BEHIND THE SCENES EXCLAIMS
He shall not die, The blood of Raymond shall not stain our city.
[The Shouts are redoubled.]
Transporting sounds! ye just, ye generous people
Ye will restore him yet to life and glory!
[The tumultuous clamour increases]
ANOTHER VOICE BEHIND THE SCENE EXCLAIMS
Let Raymond die! ’tis Heaven demands his blood!
Perish the base assassin of his prince!
RAYMOND, EUDORA, GUARDS, &c.
[Uberto enters before the litter, with the body of the Prince.]
Your paeans change to plaintive cries,
Mingled with sorrow’s silent shower!
In death’s dark shade the hero lies,
By treason slain in glory’s hour!
Re-echoed thro’ the troubled air
From victory’s voice the dirge shall flow
And transport turning to despair,
Shall deeply sound a nation’s woe!
Dear murder’d victor! at thy doom
Valour must pour affliction’s flood,
And justice mourning o’er thy tomb,
Appease thy shade with tears of blood!
Why sleeps the sword of justice? Heaven has sent me
Loudly to call it into instant action.
In me, Sicilians, in my faithful voice
You hear your murdered prince. This sacred corse
Speaks thro’ my organs and demands revenge.
[THE GUARDS SEIZE RAYMOND.]
Hold yet a moment in the name of Heaven!
I feel inspired, for Truth and Equity
Two seraphs on my side sustain my soul
And with their searching spirit, bid me question
This recreant man of God, whose treacherous tongue
Turned agent to the fiend of murderous slander.
Curse on this penetrating woman’s voice!
It pierces thro’ my heart; she must be silenced
Or we are lost indeed. Good citizens!
Who pity female wretchedness, convey,
This lady, frantic from her husband’s crimes,
Safe to some quiet scene.
’Tis not a frantic woman, whom thou hear’st;
It is thy warning genius speaks in me,
And bids thee not in thy career of guiit,
Pass on, beyond those barriers of perdition,
Which, if they close on thy encumbered soul,
The arm of heavenly mercy may not open.
Away with her! my friends! away with her!
Some heavenly visitation would lay waste
Your populous city, could Palermo suffer
The church’s holy sons to be insulted,
By the wild ravings of a troubled woman:
Unhand me villains! if the living lose
All sense of right, the dead may be my friend;
O that in thee thou precious sacred corse!
The honest blood (they say such things have been)
Might at the touch of the concealed assassin,
Gush, and proclaim the real man of guilt.
This may not be—Yet will I fondly clasp
Thy clay cold band, and gaze upon thy features,
Whence comfort used to beam on all the afflicted
[Uncovers the face of the Prince.]
Benignant still in death!
Wretch that I am,
This pallid form appals me.
The spirit from its seat of heavenly radiance,
To dart one beam of doubt-dispelling light,
And in this dreadful crisis here decide
Twixt truth and falsehood calling both on thee.
But is thy spirit fled -----
O could I
The slightest symptom of suspended life,
Thou wert indeed an angel of redemption!
No there is none! -----
Heaven prompts thee not to cancel, but to punish
Repented guilt. Thy words are brands of fire.
Hell is already in the. murderer’s breast—
These torments tell thee I am he—Majone -----
Majone’s curst ambition was the tempter -----
Release Lord Raymond, from his guiltless blood,
Still let me save my over-burdened soul!
O blessed moment! merciful detection!
My heaven-protected lord!
My guardian angel!
Seize me, ye ready ministers of justice!
Nothing can slake the flames around my soul,
But bathing in my own detested blood!
Unhappy man be calm.
Thou blest inquisitor, whom heaven inspires,
Fly, and reveal to the deluded king
Thy Raymond’s innocence, Majone’s crimes,
And my remorse, my anguish, my despair.
I go, and will entreat him to suspend
The doom, thou call’st for, and allow thee time,
To make, if possible, thy peace with heaven!
RAYMOND, UBERTO, GUARDS, &c.
RAYMOND [advancing to the litter.]
Friend of my heart, how does thy gentle nature
Reign in thy visage, still unmarred by death!
O were there aught of life—
No, ’tis too late —He’s in the grasp of death,
And I in torture—bear him to the palace!
Thither, ye men of justice, follow me,
1 am your willing, your determined victim!
The Scene changes.
Enter VERINO, attended by LELIO.
Old foolish eyes! will you not cease to pour?
These unavailing streams! not all the tears
That penitence has shed, since crimes began,
Can make atonement for such guilt, or wash
My child’s blood, from my hand.
Talk not of comfort! hence and teach the world
To hate my name, and tremble at my crimes,
For it shall feel their weight! my monstrous deed
Will fright domestic happiness from earth,
With filial love—The son no more shall live
In sweet dependance on a father’s care,
But fear to meet a dagger from that arm
Whose every sinew should be strained to ----Hark!
What cries of vengeance! ’Tis the righteous people
They come to tear me piece-meal:—bid them plunge;
In some infuriate whirlpool of the deep
This savage heart, not worthy to find rest,
In earth’s parental bosom.
VERINO, LELIO, OFFICER.
OFFICER [entering with a drawn sword.]
The wretches, who have toil’d to crush thy house,
Have hurried quick perdition on themselves;
The generous people, raging for thy wrongs,
And now apprized of all Majone’s crimes,
With a precipitate justice have destroyed
Him, and his creature, the corrupt Sicardi!
There’s comfort yet—the hero’s slanderers
Can stab his fame no more—lend me thy weapon!
When his assassin, whom thou know’st not, soldier
Has at the stroke of retribution yielded
His forfeit life to this thy honest sword—
We still in happier worlds—
EUDORA, [Entering behind him and snatching the sword as he attempts to destroy himself]
Thou tender father! blest be heaven! I save thee!
For O! I come to banish thy deep anguish,
And raise thee up to joy!
My daughter! O!
Speak not of joy, Eudora to a wretch,
Weighed down with guilt! nor wear that kind concern!
No! no! my daughter! take a different form!
Come like the angel of eternal wrath,
Arrayed in terrors from avenging heaven!
And with a voice, whose horror-striking sound
May penetrate the earth, demand thy husband!
Thy murder’d Raymond! bid the guilty father
Restore the son he slew!
Alas! my Lord!
A fatal error clouds your troubled sense.
My Raymond lives—
My poor deluded daughter!
He might have lived; long years with glory lived;
Nor envy, fraud, nor slander could oppress
His stronger innocence, but O Eudora!
There is, there is, my child, a curst assassin,
Whose base unnatural heart—
Again my father shall embrace his Raymond:
He comes to say how providence has saved
The son so worthy of his glorious sire;
See, my dear Lord, he comes!
VERINO, EUDORA, LELIO, RAYMOND, &c.
It is good heaven!
It is his form: O mock me not!
He speaks! he lives! I have not killed my child.
My honored father! yes! thy son yet lives,
To heal thy wounded heart and bless thy age
Witness ye spirits! friends to human kind!
Witness the father has not slain his son!
What miracle preserved thy precious life
From my despair, my guilt?
Behold my Lord:
Behold the dear preserver of your son’.
'Twas this celestial monitor, inspired
By pitying heaven, who taught me to defy
Impending torture with superior courage.
Angel of safety, let me fold thee close,
Close to my panting heart! O, I will sit,
Whole days to hear of thy amazing worth,
And bless thee o’er and o’er! but say my son
Has Heaven revealed the murderers of the prince?
Revealed and punished—-but the King expects us,
His noble heart finds generous consolation
Under the bitter loss, which justly claims
Our deepest sympathy, in blessing Heaven
That saved him from the horror of destroying
The prince’s bosom friend, for his assassin!
Away then to the palace! the old fathers
Shall mingle tears of blended grief and joy;
Nor will we e’er forget, thou lovely angel!
All that we owe to thee; thy fortitude
Shall be our daily theme!
O! may the mercy
So signalized on us, when hope seemed lost,
Restrain the wild precipitance of man
In hours of misery, and through the worldTeach patient virtue, to confide in Heaven!