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The mountain-fastnesses thy dwelling still,
While hostile banners o'er thy rampart walls
Wave their proud blazonry?

1st Sicilian. Even so. I stood

Last night before my own ancestral towers
An unknown outcast, while the tempest beat
On my bare head. What reck'd it? There was joy
Within, and revelry; the festive lamps
Were streaming from each turret, and gay songs
I' th' stranger's tongue, made mirth. They little

Who heard their melodies! But there are thoughts
Best nurtured in the wild; there are dread vows
Known to the mountain echoes. Procida !
Call on the outcast, when revenge is nigh.

Pro. I knew a young Sicilian-one whose heart
Should be all fire. On that most guilty day
When, with our martyr'd Conradin, the flower
Of the land's knighthood perish'd; he of whom
I speak, a weeping boy, whose innocent tears
Melted a thousand hearts that dared not aid,
Stood by the scaffold with extended arms,
Calling upon his father, whose last look
Turn'd full on him its parting agony.
The father's blood gush'd o'er him! and the boy
Then dried his tears, and with a kindling eye,
And a proud flush on his young cheek, look'd up
To the bright heaven.-Doth he remember still
That bitter hour?

2d Sicilian. He bears a sheathless sword! -Call on the orphan when revenge is nigh. [men Pro. Our band shows gallantly-but there are Who should be with us now, had they not dared In some wild moment of festivity

To give their full hearts way, and breathe a wish
For freedom!—and some traitor-it might be
A breeze perchance-bore the forbidden sound
To Eribert: so they must die-unless
Fate (who at times is wayward) should select
Some other victim first! But have they not
Brothers or sons among us?

Gui. Look on me!

I have a brother-a young high-soul'd boy,
And beautiful as a sculptor's dream, with brow
That wears amidst its dark rich curls, the stamp
Of inborn nobleness. In truth, he is

A glorious creature! But his doom is seal'd
With theirs of whom ye spoke; and I have knelt-
Ay, scorn me not! 'twas for his life-I knelt
E'en at the viceroy's feet, and he put on
That heartless laugh of cold malignity
We know so well, and spurn'd me. But the stain
Of shame like this takes blood to wash it off,
And thus it shall be cancell'd! Call on me,

When the stern moment of revenge is nigh.

Pro. I call upon thee now! The land's high soul
Is roused, and moving onward, like a breeze
Or a swift sunbeam, kindling nature's hues
To deeper life before it. In his chains,
The peasant dreams of freedom!-Ay, 'tis thus
Oppression fans th' imperishable flame
With most unconscious hands. No praise be hers
For what she blindly works! When slavery's cup
O'erflows its bounds, the creeping poison, meant
To dull our senses, through each burning vein
Pours fever, lending a delirious strength
To burst man's fetters. And they shall be burst!
I have hoped, when hope seem'd frenzy; but a

Abides in human will, when bent with strong
Unswerving energy on one great aim,

To make and rule its fortunes! I have been
A wanderer in the fulness of my years,
A restless pilgrim of the earth and seas,
Gathering the generous thoughts of other lands,
To aid our holy cause. And aid is near:
But we must give the signal. Now, before
The majesty of yon pure heaven, whose eye
Is on our hearts-whose righteous arm befriends
The arm that strikes for freedom-speak! decree
The fate of our oppressors.

Mon. Let them fall

When dreaming least of peril!-when the heart,
Basking in sunny pleasure, doth forget [sword
That hate may smile, but sleeps not. Hide the
With a thick veil of myrtle; and in halls
Of banqueting, where the full wine-cup shines
Red in the festal torchlight, meet we there,
And bid them welcome to the feast of death.
Pro. Thy voice is low and broken, and thy words
Scarce meet our ears.

Mon. Why, then, I must repeat

Their import. Let th' avenging sword burst forth
In some free festal hour-and woe to him
Who first shall spare!

Raim. Must innocence and guilt
Perish alike?

Mon. Who talks of innocence?

When hath their hand been stay'd for innocence?
Let them all perish!-Heaven will choose its own.
Why should their children live? The earthquake

Its undistinguish'd thousands, making graves
Of peopled cities in its path-and this
Is heaven's dread justice-ay, and it is well!
Why then should we be tender, when the skies
Deal thus with man? What if the infant bleed}
Is there not power to hush the mother's pangs?

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Raim. (rushing forward indignantly.) Our faith No! I but dreamt I heard it! Can it be? My countrymen, my father!-is it thus That freedom should be won? To loftier thoughts! Lift up exultingly, On the crown'd heights and to the sweeping winds, Your glorious banner! Let your trumpet's blast Make the tombs thrill with echoes! Call aloud, Proclaim from all your hills, the land shall bear The stranger's yoke no longer! What is he Who carries on his practised lip a smile, Beneath his vest a dagger, which but waits Till the heart bounds with joy, to still its beatings? That which our nature's instinct doth recoil from, And our blood curdle at-ay, yours and mineA murderer! Heard ye? Shall that name with


Go down to after days? O friends! a cause
Like that for which we rise, hath made bright


Of th' elder time as rallying-words to men-
Sounds full of might and immortality!
And shall not ours be such?

Mon. Fond dreamer, peace!

Fame! What is fame? Will our unconscious dust
Start into thrilling rapture from the grave!
At the vain breath of praise? I tell thee, youth
Our souls are parch'd with agonising thirst,
Which must be quench'd, though death were in

the draught:

We must have vengeance, for our foes have left No other joy unblighted.

Pro. O my son !

The time is past for such high dreams as thine. Thou know'st not whom we deal with: knightly faith And chivalrous honour are but things whereon They cast disdainful pity. We must meet Falsehood with wiles, and insult with revenge. And, for our names-whate'er the deeds by which We burst our bondage-is it not enough

That in the chronicle of days to come,
We, through a bright "For Ever," shall be call'd
The men who saved their country?

Raim. Many a land

Hath bow'd beneath the yoke, and then arisen
As a strong lion rending silken bonds,
And on the open field, before high heaven,
Won such majestic vengeance as hath made
Its name a power on earth. Ay, nations own
It is enough of glory to be call'd

The children of the mighty, who redeem'd
Their native soil-but not by means like these.
Mon. I have no children. Of Montalba's blood
Not one red drop doth circle through the veins
Of aught that breathes? Why, what have I to do
With far futurity? My spirit lives

But in the past. Away! when thou dost stand
On this fair earth as doth a blasted tree
Which the warm sun revives not, then return,
Strong in thy desolation: but till then,
Thou art not for our purpose; we have need
Of more unshrinking hearts.

Raim. Montalba! know

I shrink from crime alone. Oh! if my voice
Might yet have power among you, I would say,
Associates, leaders, be avenged! but yet
As knights, as warriors!

Mon. Peace! have we not borne
Th' indelible taint of contumely and chains?
We are not knights and warriors. Our bright


Have been defiled and trampled to the earth.
Boy! we are slaves—and our revenge shall be
Deep as a slave's disgrace.

Raim. Why, then, farewell:

I leave you to your counsels. He that still
Would hold his lofty nature undebased,
And his name pure, were but a loiterer here.
Pro. And is it thus indeed?-dost thou forsake
Our cause, my son !

Raim. O father! what proud hopes
This hour hath blighted! Yet, whate'er betide,
It is a noble privilege to look up
Fearless in heaven's bright face-and this is mine,
And shall be still.

Pro. He's gone! Why, let it be!

I trust our Sicily hath many a son
Valiant as mine. Associates ! 'tis decreed
Our foes shall perish. We have but to name
The hour, the scene, the signal.

Mon. It should be

In the full city, when some festival

Hath gather'd throngs, and lull'd infatuate hearts To brief security. Hark! is there not

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I come to ask your aid. You see me, one
Whose widow'd youth hath all been consecrate
To a proud sorrow, and whose life is held
In token and memorial of the dead.
Say, is it meet that lingering thus on earth,
But to behold one great atonement made,
And keep one name from fading in men's hearts,
A tyrant's will should force me to profane
Heaven's altar with unhallow'd vows-and live
Stung by the keen unutterable scorn

Of my own bosom, live-another's bride? [lady!
Sicilians. Never! oh, never! Fear not, noble
Worthy of Conradin !

Vit. Yet hear me still

His bride, that Eribert's, who notes our tears
With his insulting eye of cold derision, [works,
And, could he pierce the depths where feeling
Would number e'en our agonies as crimes.
-Say, is this meet?

Gui. We deem'd these nuptials, lady,
Thy willing choice; but 'tis a joy to find
Thou'rt noble still. Fear not; by all our wrongs,
This shall not be.

Pro. Vittoria, thou art come

To ask our aid-but we have need of thine.
Know, the completion of our high designs
Requires a festival; and it must be
Thy bridal!

Vit. Procida!

Pro. Nay, start not thus.

'Tis no hard task to bind your raven hair
With festal garlands, and to bid the song
Rise, and the wine-cup mantle. No-nor yet
To meet your suitor at the glittering shrine,
Where death, not love, awaits him!

Vit. Can my soul

Dissemble thus?

Pro. We have no other means

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Part of our band,

Is heard o'er land and wave.
Wearing the guise of antic revelry,
Shall enter, as in some fantastic pageant,
The halls of Eribert; and at the hour
Devoted to the sword's tremendous task,
I follow with the rest. The Vesper-bell!
That sound shall wake th' avenger; for 'tis come,
The time when power is in a voice, a breath,
To burst the spell which bound us. But the night
Is waning, with her stars, which one by one
Warn us to part. Friends to your homes !-your

That name is yet to win. Away! prepare
For our next meeting in Palermo's walls.
The Vesper-bell! Remember!
Sicilians. Fear us not.
The Vesper-bell!


[Exeunt omnes.

SCENE I.-Apartment in a Palace.


Vit. Speak not of love-it is a word with deep Strange magic in its melancholy sound, To summon up the dead; and they should rest, At such an hour, forgotten. There are things

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-Who shall look through the far futurity,
And, as the shadowy visions of events
Develop on his gaze, midst their dim throng,
Dare, with oracular mien, to point, and say,
"This will bring happiness?" Who shall do this?
Who, thou and I, and all! There's One, who sits
In His own bright tranquillity enthroned,
High o'er all storms, and looking far beyond
Their thickest clouds! but we, from whose dull

A grain of dust hides the great sun-e'en we
Usurp his attributes, and talk, as seers,
Of future joy and grief!

Eri. Thy words are strange.

Yet will I hope that peace at length shall settle
Upon thy troubled heart, and add soft grace
To thy majestic beauty. Fair Vittoria!
Oh! if my cares

Vit. I know a day shall come

Of peace to all. Ev'n from my darken'd spirit Soon shall each restless wish be exorcised, Which haunts it now, and I shall then lie down Serenely to repose. Of this no more.

I have a boon to ask.

Eri. Command my power,

And deem it thus most honour'd.

Vit. Have I then

Soar'd such an eagle pitch, as to command
The mighty Eribert?-And yet 'tis meet;
For I bethink me now, I should have worn
A crown upon this forehead. Generous lord!
Since thus you give me freedom, know, there is
An hour I have loved from childhood, and a sound
Whose tones, o'er earth and ocean sweetly bearing
A sense of deep repose, have lull'd me oft
To peace-which is forgetfulness; I mean
The Vesper-bell. I pray you let it be

The summons to our bridal. Hear you not?
To our fair bridal!

Eri. Lady, let your will

Appoint each circumstance. I am too bless'd,

Proving my homage thus.

Vit. Why, then, 'tis mine

To rule the glorious fortunes of the day,
And I may be content. Yet much remains
For thought to brood on, and I would be left
Alone with my resolves. Kind Eribert !
(Whom I command so absolutely,) now

Part we a few brief hours; and doubt not, when
I'm at thy side once more, but I shall stand
There to the last!

Eri. Your smiles are troubled, lady— May they ere long be brighter! Time will seem Slow till the Vesper-bell.

Vit. "Tis lovers' phrase

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Pro. Wouldst thou ask the man Who to the earth hath dash'd a nation's chains, Rent as with heaven's own lightning, by what means The glorious end was won? Go, swell th' acclaim! Bid the deliverer, hail! and if his path, To that most bright and sovereign destiny, Hath led o'er trampled thousands, be it call'd A stern necessity, but not a crime!


Raim. Father! my soul yet kindles at the thought
Of nobler lessons, in my boyhood learn'd,
Ev'n from thy voice. The high remembrances
Of other days are stirring in the heart
Where thou didst plant them; and they speak of
Who needed no vain sophistry to gild [mine!
Acts that would bear heaven's light-and such be
O father! is it yet too late to draw

The praise and blessing of all valiant hearts
On our most righteous cause?

Pro. What wouldst thou do?

Raim. I would go forth, and rouse th' indignant land

To generous combat. Why should freedom strike
Mantled with darkness? Is there not more strength
Ev'n in the waving of her single arm

Than hosts can wield against her? I would rouse
That spirit whose fire doth press resistless on
To its proud sphere-the stormy field of fight!
Pro. Ay! and give time and warning to the foe
To gather all his might! It is too late.
There is a work to be this eve begun
When rings the Vesper-bell; and, long before
To-morrow's sun hath reach'd i' th' noonday heaven
His throne of burning glory, every sound
Of the Provençal tongue within our walls,

As by one thunderstroke (you are pale, my son)-
Shall be for ever silenced!

Raim. What! such sounds
As falter on the lip of infancy,

In its imperfect utterance? or are breathed
By the fond mother as she lulls her babe?
Or in sweet hymns, upon the twilight air
Pour'd by the timid maid? Must all alike

Be still'd in death? and wouldst thou tell my heart
There is no crime in this?

Pro. Since thou dost feel

Such horror of our purpose, in thy power

Are means that might avert it.

Raim. Speak! oh speak!

Pro. How would those rescued thousands bless

thy name

Shouldst thou betray us!

Raim. Father! I can bear

Ay, proudly woo-the keenest questioning Of thy soul-gifted eye, which almost seems

To claim a part of heaven's dread royalty, -The power that searches thought.

Pro. (after a pause.) Thou hast a brow Clear as the day-and yet I doubt thee, Raimond! Whether it be that I have learn'd distrust From a long look through man's deep-folded heart; Whether my paths have been so seldom cross'd By honour and fair mercy, that they seem But beautiful deceptions, meeting thus My unaccustom'd gaze: howe'er it be

I doubt thee! See thou waver not-take heed.
Time lifts the veil from all things! [Exit PROCIDA.
Raim. And 'tis thus

Youth fades from off our spirit; and the robes
Of beauty and of majesty, wherewith
We clothed our idols, drop! Oh, bitter day!
When, at the crushing of our glorious world,
We start, and find men thus ! Yet be it so !
Is not my soul still powerful in itself
To realise its dreams? Ay, shrinking not
From the pure eye of heaven, my brow may well
Undaunted meet my father's. But, away! [yet
Thou shalt be saved, sweet Constance !-Love is
Mightier than vengeance.

SCENE III.-Gardens of a Palace.


Con. There was a time when my thoughts wander'd not

Beyond these fairy scenes !-when but to catch
The languid fragrance of the southern breeze
From the rich flowering citrons, or to rest,
Dreaming of some wild legend, in the shade
Of the dark laurel foliage, was enough
Of happiness. How have these calm delights
Fled from before one passion, as the dews,
The delicate gems of morning, are exhaled
By the great sun!
[RAIMOND enters.
Raimond! oh! now thou'rt come-

I read it in thy look-to say farewell
For the last time-the last!

Raim. No, best beloved!

I come to tell thee there is now no power

To part us but in death.

Con. I have dreamt of joy,

But never aught like this. Speak yet again!
Say we shall part no more!

Raim. No more-if love

Can strive with darker spirits; and he is strong
In his immortal nature! All is changed
Since last we met. My father-keep the tale
Secret from all, and most of all, my Constance,

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