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Rosaura. What can it be?
There sallies forth a troop
From yonder besieged palace, pressing on
To vanquish the proud force of Sigismund.
Rosaura. And I, a coward, am not by his side,
The wonder of the world ;—while law and order
Avail not against such ferocity.
[Exit. Voices within. Long live our king ! Other Voices.
Long live our liberty !
Clarin. The king and liberty! Ay, long live both!
I care not on which side they reckon me,
Because, retreating from this great confusion
I shall play Nero's part, who never cared
For any one. Or if I want to grieve
At something, it shall be about myself,
From this snug nook I can see all the sport,
'Tis strong and secret, guarded by the rocks.
Here death can't reach me, so a fig for death!
(Drums, the sound of Arms.) Enter King Basilio, Astolfo und
CLOTALDO, as in flight.
Basilio. Unhappy monarch! Persecuted father !
Clotaldo. Thy conquered army without order fies.
Astolfo. The traitors remain victors.
In these conflicts
The victors are true men, the conquered, traitors.
Clotaldo, let us fly the cruelty,
The savage fury of my tyrant son.
(A shot is fired from behind the scenes, and CLARIN falls
from the place of his concealment.)
Clarin. Oh heav'ns !
Who can this luckless soldier be,
Who, bathed in blood, has fallen at our feet ?
Clarin. I'm an unhappy wight, who sought my death,
Thinking to ward it off; from death I fled,
And therefore met it, for there is no place
Which can conceal us from it. Well, this proves
That he who Alies the blow is struck the first.
Return, return, then, to th' ensanguined field.
There is more safety among arms and fire
Than in the firmest rock; there is no path
By which to shun the rigour of our fate.
Thus ye who would avoid your death by flight,
Know that you only hasten to your death,
If it be God's decree that you must die.
(Falls of the stage.) Basilio. “ Know that you only hasten to your death,
If it be God's decree that you must die.”
Ye heavens, how well our ignorance is led
To better knowledge by this hapless corpse,
Discoursing from its wound as from a mouth.
Yon fluid is its bleeding tongue, and tells
How vain is all the industry of man,
When he would struggle against higher pow'r.
Thus I, by labouring to save my country
From blood and tumult, have delivered it
Into those hands from which I sought to free it.
Clotaldo. Although, my liege, all paths are known to fate,
Although it finds us, even when we hide
In mountain-crevices, it is not Christian
To say there is no guard against its rage.
There is ;-the prudent man can vanquish fate.
If from misfortune you have not been saved,
Exert yourself to shun it for the future.
Astolfo. Clotaldo warns thee as a prudent man,
Whose wisdom is matured; and I will speak
As a bold youth. Among the thickets here,
There is a horse, swift offspring of the wind !
Fly with him, while I cover thy retreat.
Basilio. If 'tis the will of God that I must die,
If death awaits me here—now let it find me,
For boldly will I meet it, face to face.
(The sound of arms.) Enter SIGISMUND, with all his band. Soldier. Among th' entangled bushes on this hill,
The king conceals himself.
Pursue him, then.
Let not a tree be missed, but all with care,
Trunk after trunk, branch after branch, be searched.
Clotaldo. Oh, fly, my liege !
What is their aim ? Busilio. Astolfo, draw aside. Clotaldo.
What dost thou wish ?
To try the only remedy that's left.
If it is me thou seek'st (to Sigismund), behold me now,
Thus kneeling at thy feet, to which I give
A carpet in the snow of these white hairs.
Tread on my neck, and trample on my crown,
And level my high honour with the dust.
Avenge thyself upon my dignity,
Make me thy slave, while after such precautions,
Fate gains its homage, Heav'n fulfils its vow.
Sigismund. Illustrious Court of Poland, having seen
So many marvels, pray attend to me,
It is your prince who now addresses you.
Heav'n's dictates, on an azure tablet writ
By God, who takes those boundless sheets of blue
Adorned with golden letters for his mandates,
Never deceive, and never can be false;
He who misuses them, and would inquire
Their import,--he alone is the deceiver,
My father to escape my savage nature
Made me a brute,-a beast in human shape,
So that when, by my high nobility,
My royal blood, and by my natural gifts,
I was a gentle and obedient child,
This mode of education and of life
Alone sufficed to brutalize my mind.
'Twas a fine way, in truth, to check my course !
If we should tell a man some savage beast
Would kill him, do you think he would be wise
In waking one, whene'er he found it sleeping ?
If we should tell him that the sword he wore
Would cause his death, 'twould be a sorry mode
Of shunning it, to draw it from its sheath,
And point it at his breast. If we should say,
That in the water he would find a tomb-
A silver monument, he would do ill
To venture on the sea, when it was raising
Mountains of snow, and curling hills of crystal.
My father now has met with the same lot,
As he, who threaten'd with the beast, awakes him ;
As he, who draws the sword, at which he trembles ;
As he, who wakes the billows of the storm ;
For if my anger was a sleeping beast,
If my dread fury was a sword unsheathed,
And all my cruelty a peaceful calm,
Fate was not to be conquered with injustice
Or vengeance ;- these would but provoke it more.
Thus he who would overcome an evil fate,
Must act with prudence and with temperance.
It is not by foreseeing future ills
We can prevent them. With humility
We may protect ourselves, when they befall us,
But from befalling us, cannot stay them.
This spectacle may serve for an example,
This wondrous sight, this prodigy, this horror.
None can be greater than to see my father
Thus kneeling at my feet,-a king thus humbled
After so much precaution against fate.
'Twas heaven's decree, however he would shun it,
All proved, impossible. What, then, shall I
Inferior in wisdom, valour, years,
Be able to prevent it ?-Here, my liege,
Give me thy hand; now heaven at last has freed thee
From the belief that thou couldst conquer it.
My head awaits thy vengeance, and I fall
Submissive at thy feet.
This act, my son,
Again engenders thee within my heart.
Thou art the prince,-the laurel and the palm
Belong to thee, the victory is thine;
Let thy deeds crown thee.
Long live Sigismund. Sigismund. My valour hopes to gain high victories ;
To-day the conquest shall be o'er myself.
Astolfo, give thy hand unto Rosaura,
Thou know'st that to her honour it is due,
And I must claim it.
Though I must confess
I am her debtor, 'tis an obstacle,
She knows not who she is; for 'twould be base
To wed a woman who
Nay, prithee cease,
Rosaura is as noble as thyself,
My sword will in the field defend her cause.
Enough, she is my daughter.
What is this? Clotaldo. Before I saw her noble, honoured, wed,
I would not own her. 'Tis a tedious tale,
The sum of which is, that she is my child.
Astolfo. If it be so, I will fulfil my word.
Sigismund. And that Estrella having lost a prince
Of such great power, may not be left to grieve,
I offer her my hand, for my deserts,
If not above Astolfo's, equal them;
Give me thy hand.
I gain by such high fortune. Sigismund. As for Clotaldo, who so faithfully
My father served, my arms are open to him,
With such rewards as he may wish.
One of Sigismund's Band.
If thou rewardest those who serve thee not
What wilt thou give to me? I was the cause
Of all the tumult, freed thee from the tow'r.
Sigismund. The tow'r shall be thy gift. There strictly guarded
Shalt thou remain the period of thy life.
. The treason passed, we do not need the traitor.
Basilio. All must admire thy wisdom.
What a change!
Rosaura. How prudent and discreet !
Why do ye wonder?
Is it that my preceptor was a dream?
And that I fear to wake and find myself
Again lock'd in my prison? If 'tis not so,
To dream it is enough. Thus have I learn'd
That human joy is transient as a dream;
And now I will improve it while it lasts,
Asking a pardon for so many faults,
As pardon is the gift of noble minds.
Resty welth willeth me the widow to winne,
To let the world wag and take my ease in mine inne.
OLD EPIGRAM. To take one's ease in one's inn, was an ancient proverb of our ancestors. And to this Falstaff alludes in the third Act of the First Part of Henry IV,: “ Shall I not take mine ease in mine inn, but shall have my pocket picked ?"
Again, Ben Jonson, in his comedy called “ The New Inn, or The Light Heart," puts the following words into the mouth of Good-stock, the host :
“ And if I have got
A seat to sit at ease here, i' mine inn
To see the comedy; and laugh and chuck
At the variety and throng of humours
And dispositions that come justling in,
And out still, as they one drove hence another,
Why will you envy me my happiness ?" Which passage not only embraces the independent spirit which every one feels when at home, in his own house, and which has given rise to