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Beneath their cloudless azure, weigh me down
Con. Must we part?
Raim. Oh, speak not thus !
Con. A few short years ! Less time may well suffice for death and fate To work all change on earth; to break the ties Which early love had form'd; and to bow down Th'elastic spirit, and to blight each flower Strewn in life's crowded path! But be it so ! Be it enough to know that happiness Meets thee on other shores.
Raim. Where'er I roam, Thou shalt be with my soul! Thy soft low voice Shall rise upon remembrance, like a strain Of music heard in boyhood, bringing back Life's morning freshness. Oh ! that there should be Things which we love with such deep tenderness, But, through that love, to learn how much of woe Dwells in one hour like this ! Yet weep thou not! We shall meet soon; and many days, dear love! Ere I depart.
Con. Then there's a respite still. Days !-not a day but in its course may bring Some strange vicissitude to turn aside Th' impending blow we shrink from. Fare thee well.
(Returning.) -Oh, Raimond ! this is not our last farewell ! Thou wouldst not so deceive me?
Raim. Doubt me not,
[Exit CONSTANCE. Raim. (after a pause.) When shall I breathe in
freedom, and give scope To those untameable and burning thoughts, And restless aspirations, which consume My heart i' th' land of bondage? Oh! with you, Ye everlasting images of power
And of infinity! thou blue-roling deep,
(PROCIDA enters unobserved.
It is the hour
Pro. (coming forward.) He is here.
and pursue Thought like a spirit, haunting its lone hoursReveal thyself; what art thou?
Pro. One whose life
Raim. Seek'st thou for peace ?
thoughts Back to their source, and mantle its pale mien With a dull hollow semblance of repose, May so be call'd.
Pro. There are such calms full oft Preceding earthquakes. But I have not been So vainly school'd by fortune, and inured To shape my course on peril's dizzy brink, That it should irk my spirit to put on Such guise of hush'd submissiveness as best May suit the troubled aspect of the times. Raim. Why, then, thou 'rt welcome, stranger,
to the land Where most disguise is needful. He were bold Who now should wear his thoughts upon his brow Beneath Sicilian skies. The brother's eye Doth search distrustfully the brother's face; And friends, whose undivided lives have drawn From the same past their long remembrances, Now meet in terror, or no more; lest hearts Full to o'erflowing, in their social hour, (winds Should pour out some rash word, which roving Might whisper to our conquerers. This it is, To wear a foreign yoke.
Pro. It matters not
To him who holds the mastery o'er his spirit,
Raim. What wouldst thou with me?
Pro. I would counsel thee. Thou must do that which men-ay, valiant menHourly submit to do; in the proud court, And in the stately camp, and at the board Of midnight revellers, whose flush'd mirth is all A strife, won hardly. Where is he whose heart Lies bare, through all its foldings, to the gaze Of mortal eye? If vengeance wait the foe, Or fate th' oppressor, 'tis in depths conceal'd Beneath a smiling surface.—Youth, I say, Keep thy soul down! Put on a mask !— tis worn Alike by power and weakness, and the smooth And specious intercourse of life requires Its aid in every scene.
Raim. Away, dissembler ! Life hath its high and its ignoble tasks, Fitted to every nature. Will the free And royal eagle stoop to learn the arts By which the serpent wins his spell-bound prey ? It is because I will not clothe mys In a vile garb of coward semblances, That now, e'en now, I struggle with my heart, To bid what most I love a long farewell, And seek my country on some distant shore, Where such things are unknown!
Pro. (exultingly.) Why, this is joy: After a long conflict with the doubts and fears, And the poor subtleties, of meaner minds, To meet a spirit, whose bold elastic wing Oppression hath not crush'd. High-hearted youth, Thy father, should his footsteps e'er again Visit these shores
Raim. My father! what of him Speak! was he known to thee?
Pro. In distant lands With him I've traversed many a wild, and look'd On many a danger; and the thought that thou Wert smiling then in peace, a happy boy, Oft through the storm hath cheer'd him.
Raim. Dost thou deem
Pro. It may be that he lives,
Raim. From my mind His form hath faded long, for years have pass'd Since he went forth to exile : but a vague, Yet powerful image of deep majesty, Still dimly gathering round each thought of him, Doth claim instinctive reverence; and my love For his inspiring name hath long become Part of my being.
Pro. Raimond ! doth no voice
Pro. Oh! this hour
Raim. Yet why so long
mine, Till I could hail the dayspring of that hope Which now is gathering round us. Listen, youth! Thou hast told me of a subdued and scorn'd And trampled land, whose very soul is bow'd And fashion'd to her chains :--but I tell thee Of a most generous and devoted land, A land of kindling energies; a land Of glorious recollections !- proudly true To the high memory of her ancient kings, And rising, in majestic scorn, to cast Her alien bondage off !
Raim. And where is this?
Pro. Here, in our isle, our own fair Sicily ! Her spirit is awake, and moving on, In its deep silence mightier, to regain Her place amongst the nations; and the hour Of that tremendous effort is at hand. [life
Raim. Can it be thus indeed? Thou pour'st new Through all my burning veins! I am as one Awakening from a chill and deathlike sleep To the full glorious day.
Pro. Thou shalt hear more ! Thou shalt hear things which would—which will,
The proud free spirits of our ancestors
Raim. My noble father!
sun-stroke freed. Pro. Ay, this is well! Such natures burst men's chains !-Now follow me.
SCENE I. -Apartment in a Palace.
Strange, that your lips thus earnestly should plead
Con. Have you no fear?
Con. No !-But that earth
Eri. Am I then To pause, and doubt, and shrink, because a girl, A dreaming girl, hath trembled at a look ?
Con. Oh ! looks are no illusions, when the soul, Which may not speak in words, can find no way But theirs to liberty! Have not these men Brave sons or noble brothers ?
Eri. Yes! whose name
Con. But not forgotten! Ah! beware, beware!
Eri. Nay, I but smiled to think What a fond fool is Hope! She may be taught To deem that the great sun will change his course To work her pleasure, or the tomb give back Its inmates to her arms. In sooth, 'tis strange! Yet, with your pitying heart, you should not thus Have mock'd the boy's sad mother: I have saidYou should not thus have mock'd her !-Now, farewell !
(Exit ERIBERT. Con. O brother ! hard of heart !—for deeds like
these There must be fearful chastening, if on high Justice doth hold her state. And I must tell Yon desolate mother that her fair young son Is thus to perish! Haply the dread tale May slay her too-for heaven is merciful. —'Twill be a bitter task! [Exit CONSTANCE.
Con. Will you not hear me? Oh ! that they
who need Hourly forgiveness—they who do but live While mercy's voice, beyond th' eternal stars, Wins the great Judge to listen, should be thus, In their vain exercise of pageant power, Hard and relentless! Gentle brother! yot 'Tis in your choice to imitate that heaven, Whose noblest joy is pardon.
Eri. 'Tis too late. You have a soft and moving voice, which pleads With eloquent melody—but they must die. Con. What !-die !-for words for breath
which leaves no trace To sully the pure air wherewith it blends, And is, being utter'd, gone? Why, 'twere enough For such a venial fault to be deprived One little day of man's free heritage, [doem Heaven's warm and sunny light! Oh! if you That evil harbours in their souls, at least Delay the stroke, till guilt, made manifest, Shall bid stern justice wake.
Eri. I am not one Of those weak spirits that timorously keep watch For fair occasions, thence to borrow hues Of virtue for their deeds. My school hath been Where power sits crown'd and arm'd. And, mark
SCENE II.-A ruined Tower surrounded by woods
To a distrustful nature it might seem
Pro. Thy vassals are prepared, then ?
Fit. Yes; they wait
SCENE III.-A Chapel, with a monument on which Thy summons to their task.
is laid a sword.-- Moonlight. Pro. Keep the flame bright,
PROCIDA, RAIMOND, MONTALBA.
Mon. And know you not my story?
Pro. In the lands Vit. What should I shrink from?
Where I have been a wanderer, your deep wrongs Pro. Oh ! the forest-paths
Were number'd with our country's; but their tale Are dim and wild, e'en when the sunshine streams
Came only in faint echoes to mine ear. Through their high arches; but when powerful
I would fain hear it now. night
Mon. Hark! while you spoke, Comes, with her cloudy phantoms, and her pale
There was a voice-like murmur in the breeze, Uncertain moonbeams, and the hollow sounds Which even like death came o'er me. 'Twas a night Of her mysterious winds; their aspect then
Like this, of clouds contending with the moon, Is of another and more fearful world
A night of sweeping winds, of rustling leaves, A realm of indistinct and shadowy forms, [this—
And swift wild shadows floating o'er the earth, Waking strange thoughts almost too much for Clothed with a phantom life, when, after years Our frail terrestrial nature.
Of battle and captivity, I spurr'd (dreams Vit. Well I know
[abodes My good steed homewards. Oh! what lovely All this, and more. Such scenes have been th' Rose on my spirit! There were tears and smiles, Where through the silence of my soul have pass'd But all of joy! And there were bounding steps, Voices and visions from the sphere of those And clinging arms, whose passionate clasp of love That have to die no more! Nay, doubt it not ! Doth twine so fondly round the warrior's neck If such unearthly intercourse hath e'er
When his plumed helm is doff*d. Hence, feeble Been granted to our nature, 'tis to hearts
(mine! Whose love is with the dead. They, they alone, -I am sterner now, yet once such dreams were Unmadden'd could sustain the fearful joy
Raim. And were they realised ? And glory of its trances! At the hour
Mon. Youth ! ask me not, Which makes guilt tremulous, and peoples earth But listen ! I drew near my own fair homeAnd air with infinite viewless multitudes,
There was no light along its walls, no sound I will be with thee, Procida.
Of bugle pealing from the watch-tower's height Pro. Thy presence
At my approach, although my trampling steed Will kindle nobler thoughts, and, in the souls Made the earth ring, yet the wide gates were throwi Of suffering and indignant men, arouse
All open. Then my heart misgave me first, That which may strengthen our majestic cause And on the threshold of my silent hall With yet a deeper power. Know'st thou the spot? I paused a moment, and the wind swept by Vit. Full well. There is no scene so wild and With the same deep and dirge-like tone which lone,
pierced In these dim woods, but I have visited
My soul e'en now! I call’d-my struggling voice Its tangled shades.
Gave utterance to my wife's, my children's names. Pro. At midnight, then, we meet.
They answer'd not. I roused my failing strength,
[Exit PROCIDA. And wildly rush'd within.-And they were there. Vit. Why should I fear? Thou wilt be with Raim. And was all well ? me—thou,
Mon. Ay, well !—for death is well: Th' immortal dream and shadow of my soul, And they were all at rest! I see them yet, Spirit of him I love ! that meet'st me still
Pale in their innocent beauty, which had fail'd In loneliness and silence; in the noon
To stay the assassin's arm !
Raim. Oh, righteous Heaven!
Mon. Who !
Raim. Man of woe !
Pro. For woes like these
Mon. None !
but I Am wakeful o'er their dust ! I laid my sword, Without its sheath, on their sepulchral stone, As on an altar; and the eternal stars, And heaven, and night, bore witness to my vow, No more to wield it save in one great causeThe vengeance of the grave! And now the hour Of that atonement comes !
[He takes the sword from the tomb. Raim. My spirit burns ! And my full heart almost to bursting swells. --Oh, for the day of battle !
Pro. Raimond, they Whose souls are dark with guiltless blood must die, -But not in battle.
Raim. How, my father?
Mon. Leave me for a time,
Pro. Remember !-in the cavern by the cross. Now follow me, my son.
[Exeunt Procida and RAIMOND. Mon. (after a pause, leaning on the tomb.) [life Said he,“ My son ?” Now, why should this man's Go down in hope, thus resting on a son, And I be desolate? How strange a sound Was that—"my son !” I had a boy, who might
PROCIDA, RAIMOND. Pro. And is it thus, beneath the solemn skies Of midnight, and in solitary caves, Where the wild forest creatures make their lairIs't thus the chiefs of Sicily must hold The councils of their country?
Raim. Why, such scenes In their primeval majesty, beheld Thus by faint starlight and the partial glare Of the red-streaming lava, will inspire Far deeper thoughts than pillar'd halls, wherein Statesmen hold weary vigils. Are we not O'ershadow'd by that Etna, which of old With its dread prophecies bath struck dismay Through tyrants' hearts, and bade them seek a home
(now, In other climes? Hark! from its depths, e'en What hollow moans are sent !
Enter MONTALBA, Gumo, and other Sicilians. Pro. Welcome, my brave associates ! We can share
[haunt The wolf's wild freedom here! Th' oppressor's Is not midst rocks and caves. Are we all met?
Sicilians. All, all !
Pro. The torchlight, sway'd by every gust, But dimly shows your features.—Where is he Who from his battles had return'd to breathe Once more without a corslet, and to meet The voices and the footsteps and the smiles Blent with his dreams of home? Of that dark tale The rest is known to vengeance ! Art thou here, With thy deep wrongs and resolute despair, Childless Montalba ?
Mon. (advancing.) He is at thy side. Call on that desolate father in the hour When his revenge is nigh.
Pro. Thou, too, come forth, From thine own halls an exile ! Dost thou make