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Which must retard, perhaps undo him quite.
Thanks to his childish love, which has so well
Procured us time to tamper with the fools.
Gent. Ah! but those feelings he has waked
Are generous feelings, and endear himself.
1st Mask. Away, thou art a saucy, jeering knave,
Gaur. It matters not; though generous in their And fain wouldst make a jest of all true love.
Ros. Nay, gentle ladies, do not buffet me:
I am a right true servant of the fair;
And as this woful chaplet on my brow,
And these tear-blotted sonnets would denote,
A poor abandon'd lover, out of place;
With any lover ready to engage,
Who will enlist me in her loving service.
Of a convenient kind my talents are,
And to all various humours may be shaped.
2d Mask. What canst thou do?
They yet may serve a most ungenerous end;
And he who teaches men to think, though nobly,
Doth raise within their minds a busy judge
To scan his actions. Send thine agents forth,
And sound it in their ears how much Count Basil
Affects all difficult and desperate service,
To raise his fortunes by some daring stroke;
Having unto the emperor pledged his word,
To make his troops all dreadful hazards brave:
For which intent he fills their simple minds
With idle tales of glory and renown;
Using their warm attachment to himself
For most unworthy ends.
This is the busy time: go forth, my friend;
Mix with the soldiers, now in jolly groups
Around their evening cups. There, spare no
cost, (gives him a purse.)
Observe their words, see how the poison takes
And then return again.
I will, my lord.
SCENE III-A SUITE OF GRAND APARTMENTS, WITH
THEIR WIDE DOORS THROWN OPEN, LIGHTED UP
WITH LAMPS, AND FILLED WITH COMPANY IN
Enter several Masks, and pass through the first apartment to the other rooms. Then enter BASIL in the disguise of a wounded soldier.
Enter ROSINBERG, fantastically dressed, with a willow upon his head, and scraps of sonnets, and torn letters fluttering round his neck; pursued by a group of Masks from one of the inner apartments, who hoot at him, and push him about as he enters.
Bas. (alone.) Now am I in the region of delight!
Within the blessed compass of these walls
She is; the gay light of those blazing lamps
Doth shine upon her, and this painted floor
Is with her footsteps press'd. E'en now, perhaps,
Amidst that motley rout she plays her part:
There will I go; she cannot be conceal'd;
For but the flowing of her graceful robe
Will soon betray the lovely form that wears it,
Though in a thousand masks. Ye homely weeds,-
(looking at his habit.)
Which half conceal, and half declare my state,
Beneath your kind disguise, O! let me prosper,
And boldly take the privilege ye give:
Follow her mazy steps, crowd by her side;
Thus near her face my listening ear incline,
And feel her soft breath fan my glowing cheek,
Her fair hand seize, yea, press it closely too!
May it not be e'en so? by heaven it shall!
This once, O! serve me well, and ever after,
Ye shall be treasured like a monarch's robes
Lodged in my chamber, near my pillow kept;
And oft with midnight lamp I'll visit ye,
And, gazing wistfully, this night recall,
With all its past delights.-But yonder moves
A slender form, dress'd in an azure robe;
It moves not like the rest-it must be she!
(Goes hastily into another apartment, and mixes
with the Masks.)
Ay, what besides offending?
Ros. O! I can sigh so deeply, look so sad,
Pule out a piteous tale on bended knee;
Groan like a ghost; so very wretched be,
As would delight a tender lady's heart
But to behold.
Poo, poo, insipid fool!
Ros. But should my lady brisker mettle own,
And tire of all those gentle, dear delights,
Such pretty little quarrels I'd invent-
As whether such a fair one (some dear friend)
Whose squirrel's tail was pinch'd, or the soft maid,
With favourite lap-dog of a surfeit sick,
Have greatest cause of delicate distress
1st Mask. Go, too bad thou art indeed! (aside.) How could he know I quarrell'd with the count?
2d Mask. Wilt thou do nothing for thy lady's fame?
Ros. Yes, lovely shepherdess, on every tree
I'll carve her name, with true-love garlands bound:
Write madrigals upon her roseate cheeks;
Odes to her eye; 'faith, every wart and mole
That spots her snowy skin shall have its sonnet!
I'll make love posies for her thimble's edge,
Rather than please her not.
3d Mask. But for her sake what dangers wilt
Ros. In truth, fair nun, I stomach dangers less
Than other service, and were something loath
To storm a convent's walls for one dear glance;
But if she'll wisely manage this alone,
As maids have done, come o'er the wall herself,
And meet me fairly on the open plain,
I will engage her tender steps to aid
In all annoyance of rude brier or stone,
Or crossing rill, some half foot wide or so,
Which that fair lady should unaided pass,
Ye gracious powers forbid! I will defend
Against each hideous fly, whose dreadful buzz-
4th Mask. Such paltry service suits thee best,
What maid of spirit would not spurn thee from her?
Ros. Yes, to recall me soon, sublime sultana!
For I can stand the burst of female passion,
Each change of humour and affected storm;
Be scolded, frown'd upon, to exile sent,
Recall'd, caress'd, chid, and disgraced again;
And say what maid of spirit would forego
The bliss of one to exercise it thus ?
O! I can bear ill treatment like a lamb!
hast deserved it well.
4th Mask. (beating him.) Well, bear it then, thou But to my purpose-You are Basil's friend: Be friendly to him then, and warn him well Ros. 'Zounds, lady! do not give such heavy This court to leave, nor be allured to stay; blows; For if he does, there's mischief waits him here May prove the bane of all his future days. Remember this, I must no longer stay. God bless your friend and you; I love you both. [EXIT. Ros. (alone.) What may this warning mean? I had my fears.
5th Mask. Such as thou wouldst, such as thy There's something hatching which I know not of genius suits; I've lost all spirit for this masking now.
For since of universal scope it is,
All women's humour shalt thou find in me.
I'll gently soothe thee with such winning smiles-
To nothing sink thee with a scornful frown:
Tease thee with peevish and affected freaks;
Caress thee, love thee, hate thee, break thy pate;
But still between the whiles I'll careful be,
In feigned admiration of thy parts,
(Throwing away his papers and his willows.)
Away, ye scraps! I have no need of you.
I would I knew what garment Basil wears:
I watch'd him, yet he did escape my sight;
But I must search again and find him out. [EXIT.
Thy shape, thy manners, or thy graceful mien,
To bind thy giddy soul with flattery's charm;
For well thou know'st that flattery ever is
The tickling spice, the pungent seasoning
Which makes this motley dish of monstrous scraps With the imagined rustling of her robes,
So pleasing to the dainty lover's taste.
Thou canst not leave, though violent in extreme,
And most vexatious in her teasing moods;
Thou canst not leave the fond admiring soul,
Who did declare, when calmer reason ruled,
Thou hadst a pretty leg.
Ros. Marry, thou hast the better of me there.
5th Mask. And more; I'll pledge to thee my
That when your noble swainship shall bestow
More faithful homage on the simple maid,
Who loves you with sincerity and truth,
Than on the changeful and capricious tyrant,
Who mocking leads you like a trammel'd ass,
My studied woman's wiles I'll lay aside,
And such a one become.
I'm not your husband, as belike you guess.
5th Mask. Come, lover, I enlist thee for my swain; Therefore, good lady, do forbear your blows, Nor thus assume my rights.
Ros. Agreed. Wilt thou a gracious mistress prove?
Ros. Well spoke, brave lady, I will follow thee.
(Follows her to the corner of the stage.)
Now on my life, these ears of mine I'd give,
To have but one look of that little face,
Where such a biting tongue doth hold its court
To keep the fools in awe. Nay, nay, unmask:
I'm sure thou hast a pair of wicked eyes,
A short and saucy nose: now prithee do.
Alb. (unmasking.) Well, hast thou guess'd me
Alb. I thank your lordship for these courteous words;
Most honour'd lady, than a conn'd oration.
Thou art the only one of all thy sex,
Who wear'st thy years with such a winning grace;
Thou art the more admired the more thou fadest.
Enter BASIL much agitated, with his mask in his hand.
Bas. In vain I've sought her, follow'd every form
Where aught appear'd of dignity or grace:
I've listen'd to the tone of every voice;
I've watch'd the entrance of each female mask;
My fluttering heart roused like a startled hare,
At every dame's approach. Deceitful night,
How art thou spent! where are thy promised joys?
How much of thee is gone! O spiteful fate!
Yet within the compass of these walls
Somewhere she is, although to me she is not.
Some other eye doth gaze upon her form,
Some other ear doth listen to her voice;
Some happy favourite doth enjoy the bliss
My spiteful stars deny.
Disturber of my soul! what veil conceals thee?
What devilish spell is o'er this cursed hour?
O heavens and earth! where art thou?
Enter a Mask in the dress of a female conjurer. Mask. Methinks thou art impatient, valiant soldier:
Thy wound doth gall thee sorely; is it so?
Bas. Away, away, I cannot fool with thee.
Mask. I have some potent drugs may ease thy
Where is thy wound? is't here?
(Pointing to the bandage on his arm.) Bas. Poo, poo, begone! Thou canst do naught-'tis in my head, my heart"Tis everywhere, where medicine cannot cure.
Mask. If wounded in the heart, it is a wound Which some ungrateful fair one hath inflicted,
Ros. (bowing low.) Wild freedom, changed to And I may conjure something for thy good. most profound respect,
Bas. Ah! if thou couldst! what, must I fool with thee?
Doth make an awkward booby of me now.
Alb. I've joined your frolic with a good intent,
For much I wish'd to gain your private ear.
The time is precious, and I must be short.
Mask. Thou must a while, and be examined too.
What kind of woman did the wicked deed?
Bas. I cannot tell thee. In her presence still
Ros. On me your slightest word more power will My mind in such a wild delight hath been,
I could not pause to picture out her beauty,
Yet naught of woman e'er was form'd so fair.
Mask. Art thou a soldier, and no weapon bear'st
To send her wound for wound?
Bas. Alas! she shoots from such a hopeless height,
No dart of mine hath plume to mount so far.
None but a prince may dare.
Mask. But, if thou hast no hope, thou hast no love.
Bas. I love, and yet in truth I had no hope,
But that she might at least with some good will,
Some gentle, pure regard, some secret kindness,
Within her dear remembrance give me place.
This was my all of hope, but it is flown:
For she regards me not; despises, scorns me:
Scorns, I must say it too, a noble heart,
That would have bled for her.
Mask. (discovering herself to be Victoria, by speaking in her true voice.) O! no, she does not. [EXIT hastily in confusion. Bas. (stands for a moment riveted to the spot, then holds up both his hands in an ecstacy.) It is herself! it is her blessed self! O! what a fool am I, that had no power To follow her, and urge th' advantage on. Begone, unmanly fears! I must be bold. [EXIT after her.
A Dance of Masks.
Enter DUKE and GAURIECIO, unmasked.
Duke. This revelry, methinks, goes gayly on.
The hour is late, and yet your friend returns not.
Gaur. He will return ere long-nay, there he
Duke. Does all go well? (going close up to him.)
All as your grace could wish.
For now the poison works, and the stung soldiers
Rage o'er their cups, and, with fire-kindled eyes,
Swear vengeance on the chief who would betray
That Frederick, too, the discontented man
Of whom your highness was so lately told,
Swallows the bait, and does his part most bravely.
Gauriecio counsell'd well to keep him blind,
Nor with a bribe attempt him. On my soul!
He is so fiery he had spurn'd us else,
Utter'd at unawares, with little heed,
And urge their meaning far beyond the right.
Bas. I thought, indeed, that they were kindly
As though thy gentle breast did kindly feel
Some secret pity for my hopeless pain,
And would not pierce with scorn, ungenerous scorn,
A heart so deeply stricken.
Vict. So far thou'st read it well.
Ha! have I well?
Thou dost not hate me, then?
My father comes
He were displeased if he should see thee thus.
Bas. Thou dost not hate me, then?
Vict. Away! he'll be displeased-I cannot say-
Bas. Well, let him come: it is thyself I fear;
For did destruction thunder o'er my head,
By the dread Power of heaven, I would not stir,
Till thou hadst answer'd my impatient soul!
Thou dost not hate me?
Vict. Nay, nay, let go thy hold-I cannot hate
(Breaks from him and exit.)
Bas. (alone.) Thou canst not hate me! no, thou
canst not hate me!
For I love thee so well, so passing well,
That it were sinful not to pay me back
With such o'erflowing heart, so very dearly,
Some small, some kind return.
Enter MIRANDO, dressed like Cupid.
Mir. Bless thee, brave soldier.
Bas. What say'st thou, pretty child? what play-
Has deck'd thee out in this fantastic guise?
Mir. It was Victoria's self; it was the princess.
Bas. Thou art her favourite, then?
They say I am:
I think in very truth she loves me well.
And now, between ourselves, I'll tell thee, soldier,
Such merry little songs she teaches me-
Sly riddles too, and when I'm laid to rest,
Ofttimes on tip-toe near my couch she steals,
And ruin'd all the plot.
Duke. Speak softly, friend-I'll hear it all in And lifts the covering so, to look upon me.
A gay and careless face we now assume.
DUKE, GAUR. and GENT. retire into the inner apartment,
appearing to laugh and talk gayly to the different Masks
as they pass them.
And oftentimes I feign as though I slept;
For then her warm lips to my cheek she lays,
And pats me softly with her fair white hands;
And then I laugh, and through mine eyelids peep,
And then she tickles me, and calls me cheat;
And then we so do laugh, ha, ha, ha, ha!
Re-enter VICTORIA, followed by BASIL.
Bas. What! does she even so, thou happiest child?
Vict. Forbear, my lord; these words offend mine And have those rosy cheeks been press'd so dearly? Delicious urchin! I will kiss thee too.
Bas. Yet let me but this once, this once offend,
Nor thus with thy displeasure punish me;
And if my words against all prudence sin,
O! hear them, as the good of heart do list
To the wild ravings of a soul distraught.
Vict. If I indeed should listen to thy words,
They must not talk of love.
Bas. To be with thee, to speak, to hear thee speak, And, if I could, some pretty song I'd sing,
To claim the soft attention of thine eye,
I'd be content to talk of any thing,
If it were possible to be with thee,
And think of aught but love.
Vict. I fear, my lord, you have too much presumed
On those unguarded words, which were in truth
(Takes him eagerly up in his arms, and kisses him.)
Mir. No, let me down, thy kisses are so rough,
So furious rough-she doth not kiss me so.
Bas. Sweet boy, where is thy chamber? by Vic-
Mir. Hard by her own.
Bas. Then will I come beneath thy window soon:
To lull thee to thy rest.
Mir. O no, thou must not! 'tis a frightful place;
It is the churchyard of the neighbouring dome.
The princess loves it for the lofty trees,
Whose spreading branches shade her chamber walls:
So do not I; for when 'tis dark o' nights,
Goblins howl there, and ghosts rise through the
I hear them many a time when I'm a bed,
And hide beneath the clothes my cowering head.
O! is it not a frightful thing, my lord,
To sleep alone i' the dark?
Bas. Poor harmless child! thy prate is wondrous
Enter a group of Masks.
1st Mask. What dost thou here, thou little truant boy?
Come, play thy part with us.
Child, with many a childish wile,
Timid look, and blushing smile,
Downy wings to steal thy way,
Gilded bow, and quiver gay,
Who in thy simple mien would trace
The tyrant of the human race?
Re-enter ROSINBERG, &c. from the house.
Ros. Himself! himself! He's here! he's here!
Masks place MIRANDO in the middle, and range them- What friend at such a time could lead thee forth?
selves round him.
Bas. The blue air of the morning pinches keenly.
Beneath her window all the chilly night,
I felt it not. Ah! night has been my day;
And the pale lamp which from her chamber
Has to the breeze a warmer temper lent
Than the red burning east.
SCENE I. THE STREET BEFORE BASIL'S LODGINGS.
Enter ROSINBERG and two Officers
Ros. (speaking as he enters.) Unless we find him
quickly, all is lost.
1st Off. His very guards, methinks, have left their post To join the mutiny.
Ros. (knocking very loud.) Holla! who's there within confound this door!
It will not yield. O for a giant's strength!
Holla, holla, within! will no one hear?
Bas. What is the matter which disturbs you thus ?
Ros. Matter that would a wiser man disturb.
Treason's abroad: thy men have mutinied.
Bas. It is not so; thy wits have mutinied,
And left their sober station in thy brain.
1st Off. Indeed, my lord, he speaks in sober
Some secret enemies have been employed
To fill your troops with strange imaginations.
As though their general would, for selfish gain,
Their generous valour urge to desperate deeds.
All to a man assembled on the ramparts,
Now threaten vengeance, and refuse to march.
Bas. What! think they vilely of me? threaten
O! most ungenerous, most unmanly thought!
Didst thou attempt (to Ros.) to reason with their
Folly it is; baseness it cannot be.
Ros. Yes, truly, I did reason with a storm,
And bid it cease to rage.-
Their eyes look fire on him who questions them
The hollow murmurs of their mutter'd wrath
Sound dreadful through the dark extended ranks,
Like subterraneous grumblings of an earthquake.
-The vengeful hurricane
Does not with such fantastic writhings toss
The wood's green boughs, as does convulsive rage
Their forms with frantic gestures agitate.
Around the chief of hell such legions throng'd
To bring back curse and discord on creation.
Bas. Nay, they are men, although impassion
I'll go to them
Enter a Porter from the house.
Ros. And we will stand by thee. My sword is thine against ten thousand strong, Ros. (eagerly to the porter.) Is he return'd? is If it should come to this. he return'd not yet? Thy face doth tell me so.
Not yet, my lord.
Ros. Then let him ne'er return!-
Tumult, disgrace, and ruin have their way!
I'll search for him no more.
No, never, never!
There is no mean: I with my soldiers must
Or their commander or their victim prove.
But are my officers all stanch and faithful?
Ros. All but that devil, Frederick-
He, disappointed, left his former corps,
Port. He hath been absent all the night, my lord. Where he, in truth, had been too long neglected,
Ros. I know he hath.
And yet 'tis possible
He may have entered by the secret door;
And now perhaps, in deepest sleep entranced,
Is dead to every sound.
Thinking he should all on the sudden rise,
From Basil's well-known love of valiant men;
And now, because it still must be deferr'd,
He thinks you seek from envy to depress him,
And burns to be revenged.
(Ros. without speaking, rushes into the house, and
the rest follow him.)
-This grieves me too
SCENE II. THE RAMPARTS OF THE TOWN. The Soldiers are discovered, drawn up in a disorderly manner, hollaing and speaking big, and clashing their arms tumultuously.
1st Sol. No, comrade, no; hell gape and swallow me,
If I do budge for such most devilish orders!
2d Sol. Huzza! brave comrades! Who says otherwise?
(The Soldiers huzza and clash their arms.) 5th Sol. Heaven dart its fiery lightning on his head!
We're men, we are not cattle to be slaughter'd !
2d Sol. They who do long to caper high in air,
Into a thousand bloody fragments blown,
May follow our brave general.
3d Sol. No one, huzza! confound all treacherous I thank your zeal, I'll deal with them alone.
Ros. What, shall we calmly stand and see thee butcher'd?
Curse his name! I've fought for him till my strain'd nerves have crack'd!
2d Sol. We will command ourselves: for Milan, comrades.
5th Sol. Ay, ay, for Milan, valiant hearts, huzza. (All the Soldiers cast up their caps in the air and huzza.)
2d Sol. Yes, comrades, tempting booty waits us here,
And easy service: keep good hearts, my soldiers! The general comes, good hearts! no flinching, boys! Look bold and fiercely: we're the masters now. (They all clash their arms and put on a fierce threatening aspect to receive their general, who now enters, followed by Rosinberg and Officers. Basil walks close along the front ranks of the Soldiers, looking at them very steadfastly; then retires a few paces back, and raising his arm, speaks with a very full loud voice.) Bas. How is it, soldiers, that I see you thus, Assembled here unsummon'd by command ? (A confused murmur is heard amongst the Soldiers; some of them call out)
But we ourselves command: we wait no orders.
(A confused noise of voices is heard, and one
louder than the rest calls out)
Must we be butcher'd for that we are brave?
(A loud clamour and clashing of arms, then
several voices call out)
Damn hidden treachery! we defy thy orders.
Frederick shall lead us now-
(Others call out) We'll march where'er we list; for Milan march. Bas. (waving his hand, and beckoning them to be silent, speaks with a very loud voice.) Yes, march where'er ye list: for Milan march. Sol. Hear him, hear him!
(The murmur ceases-a short pause.) Bas. Yes, march where'er ye list; for Milan march:
But as banditti, not as soldiers go;
For on this spot of earth I will disband, And take from you the rank and name of soldiers. (A great clamour amongst the ranks-some call
Bas. (very earnestly.) Put up, my friends. (Officers still persist.) What! are you rebels too?
Will no one here his general's voice obey?
I do command you to put up your swords.
Retire, and at a distance wait th' event.
Obey, or henceforth be no friends of mine.
Officers retire very unwillingly. Basil waves
them off with his hand till they are all gone,
then walks up to the front of his Soldiers,
who still hold themselves in a threatening
Soldiers! we've fought together in the field,
And bravely fought: i' the face of horrid death,
At honour's call, I've led you dauntless on;
Nor do I know the man of all your bands,
That ever poorly from the trial shrunk,
Or yielded to the foe contended space.
Am I the meanest then of all my troops,
That thus ye think, with base unmanly threats,
To move me now? Put up those paltry weapons;
They edgeless are to him who fears them not;
Rocks have been shaken from the solid base;
But what shall move a firm and dauntless mind?
Put up your swords, or dare the threaten'd deed-
Obey, or murder me.-
(A confused murmur-some of the Soldiers call out)
March us to Milan, and we will obey thee.
(Others call out)
Ay, march us there, and be our leader still.
Bas. Nay, if I am your leader, I'll command ye;
And where I do command, there shall you go,
But not to Milan. No, nor shall you deviate
E'en half a furlong from your destined way,
To seize the golden booty of the east.
Think not to gain, or temporize with me;
For should I this day's mutiny survive,
Much as I've loved you, soldiers, ye shall find me
Still more relentless in pursuit of vengeance;
Tremendous, cruel, military vengeance.
There is no mean a desperate game ye play;
Therefore, I say, obey, or murder me.
Do as ye will, but do it manfully.
He is a coward who doth threaten me:
The man who slays me, but an angry soldier;
Acting in passion, like the frantic son,
Who struck his sire and wept.
(Soldiers call out) It was thyself who sought to murder us.
1st Sol. You have unto the emperor pledged your faith,
To lead us foremost in all desperate service: