Abbildungen der Seite

them on,

Our sacred sisters rush'd in sable robes,

Of sacrifice. They may in limbs of freedom With hair dishevell’d, and funereal brands Replace your free-born souls, and their high Hurld round with menacing fury. On they rush'd mercy In fierce and frantic mood, as is their wont Haply shall to some better world advance you; Amid the magic rites, they do to Night

Or else in this restore that golden gift, In their deep dens below. Motions like these Which lost, leaves life a burden. Does there Were never dared before in open air !

breathe Cho. Did I not say, we had a power within us, A wretch so 'pall’d with the vain fear of death That might appal even Romans?

Can call this cruelty? 'tis love, 'tis mercy; Bard. And it did.

And grant, ye gods, if e'er I'm made a captive, They stood aghast, and to our vollied darts, I meet the like fair treatment from the foe, That thick as hail fell on their helms and corslets, Whose stronger star quells mine. Now lead Scarce rais’d a warding shield. The sacred trumpet

And, while they live, treat them, as men should Then rent the air, and instant at the signal

men, Rush'd down Arviragus with all our vassals ; And not as Rome treats Britain. A hot, but short-liv'd conflict then ensued :

[Ereunt Captives. For soon they fled. I saw the Romans fly,

Druid, these, Before I left the field.

Ev'n should their chief escape, may to the gods Car. My son pursued !

In sacrifice-Whence was that shriek ?
Bard. The prince and Elidurus, like twin lions,

Did side by side engage. Death seem'd to guide
Their swords, no stroke fell fruitless, every wound Evel. My father,
Gave him a victim.

Support me, take me trembling to your arms; Car. Thus, my friend Ebrancus,

All is not well. Ah me, my fears o'ercome me! Ill-fated prince ! didst thou and I in youth Car. What means my child ? Unite our valours. In his prime he fell,

Evel. Alas, we are betray'd! On Conway's banks I saw him fall, and slew Ev'n now, as wand'ring in yon eastern grove, His murderer. But how far did they pursue? I call the gods to aid us, the dread sound Bard. Even to the ships : for I descried the Of many hasty steps did meet mine ear: rout,

This way they prest:
Far as the twilight gleam would aid my sight. Car. Daughter, thy fears are vain.
Car. Now, thanks to the bright star that ruld Evel. Methought I saw the flame of lighten
his birth;

Yes, he will soon return to claim my blessing, And what did glitter to my dazzled sight,
And he shall have it pour'd in tears of joy Like swords and helms.
On his bold breast ! methought I heard a step: Car. All, all the feeble coinage
Is it not his?

Of maiden fear.
Bard. 'Tis some of our own train,

Evel. Nay, if mine ear mistook not, And, as I think, they lead six Romans captive.

I heard the traitor's voice, who that way 'scap'de

Calling to arms.

Car. Away with idle terrors ! Cho. My brethren, bear the prisoners to the Know, tny brave brother's helm is crown'd with cavern,

conquest, 'Till we demand them.

Our foes are fled, their leaders are our captives. Car. Pause ye yet a while.

Smile, my lov'd child, and imitate the sun,
They seem of bold demeanour, and have helms, That rises ruddy from behind yon oaks
That speak them leaders. Hear me, Romans, To hail bim victor.

Cho. That the rising sun !
you are captives, is the chance of war: O horror! horror! sacrilegious fires
Yet captives as ve are, in Britain's eye

Devour our groves : They blaze, they blaze! O Ye are not slaves. Barbarians though ye call us, sound We know the native rights, man claims from The trump again ! recall the prince, or all

Is lost. And therefore never shall we gall your necks Car. Druid, where is thy fortitude? With chains, or drag you at our scythed cars Do not I live? Is not this holy sword In arrogance of triunph. Nor 'till taught Firm in my grasp? I will preserve your groves. By Rome (what Britain sure should scorn to Britons, I go : Let those that dare die nobly,

Follow my step

(Exit CAR. Her avarice, will we barter you for gold.

Evel. O whither does he go?
True, ye are captives, and our country's safety Return, return : Ye holy men, recall him.
Forbids, we give you back to liberty:

What is his arm against a host of Romans ?
We give you therefore to the immortal gods, 0 I have lost a father!
To them we lift you in the radiant cloud

Cho. Ruthless gods


man ;


from me,


Ye take away our souls: A general panic Look on this innocent maid. She must to Rome,
Reigns through the grove. O fly, my brethren, fly, Captive to Rome. Thou seest warm life flow
To aid the king, Ay to preserve your altars !
Alas ! 'tis all in vain ; our fate is fixed.

Ere long she'll have no brother. Heav'n's my Look there, look there, thou miserable maid !

witness, Behold thy bleeding brother.

I do not wish, that thou shouldst live the slave

Of Rome: But yet she is my sister. ARVIRAGUS, ELIDURUS, EVELINA, CHORUS.

Eli. Prince, Arvi. Thanks, good youth!

Thou urgest that, might make me drag an age Safe hast thou brought me to that holy spot, In fetters worse than Roman. I will live, Where I did wish to die. Support me still. And while I live0, I am sick to death! Yet one step more: Now lay me gently down. I would drag out

Enter Bard. This life, though at some cost of throbs and pangs, Fly to your caverns, druids, Just long enough to claim my father's blessing, The grove's beset around. The chief approaches. And sigh my last breath in my sister's arms.- Cho. Let him approach, we will confront his And here she kneels, poor maid! all dumb with pride; grief.

The seer that rules amid the groves of Mona Restrain thy sorrow, gentlest Evelina !

Has not to fear his fury. What though age True, thou dost see me bleed: I bleed to death. Slackens our sinews; what though shield and Evel. Say'st thou to death ? O gods ! the barb- sword ed shaft

Give not their iron aid to guard our body; Is buried in his breast. Yes, he must die; Yet virtue arms our soul, and gainst that panoply And I, alas ! am doom'd to see him die. What 'vails the rage of robbers? Let him come. Where are your healing arts, medicinal herbs, Arvi. I faint apace.-Ye venerable men, Ye holy men, your wonder-working spells ? If ye can save this body from pollution, Pluck me but out this shaft, stanch but this blood, If ye can tomb me in this sacred place, And I will call down blessings on your heads I trust ye will. I fought to save these groves, With such a fervency–And can ye not! And, fruitless though I fought, some grateful oak, Then let me beg you on my bended knee, I trust, will spread its reverential gloom Give to my misery some opiate drug,

O'er my pale ashes—Ah! that pang was death! May shut up all my senses.- -Yes, good fathers, My sister, Oh !Mingle the potion so, that it may kill me,

Eli. She faints! Ah raise her!Just at the instant this poor languisher

Evel. Yes, Heaves his last sigh.

Now he is dead. I felt his spirit go Arvi. Talk not thus wildly, sister,

In a cold sigh, and, as it past, methought Think on our father's age

It paus’d a while, and trembled on my lips ! Evel. Alas! my brother!

Take me not from him : Breathless as he is, We have no father now; or, if we have, He is my brother still, and if the gods He is a captive.

Do please to grace him with some happier being, Arvi. Captive! O my wound!

They ne'er can give to him a fonder sister. It stings me now -But is it so ?

Cho. Brethren, surround the corse, and, ere (Turning to the CHORUS. the foe Cho. Alas !

Approaches, chaunt with meet solemnity We know no more, save that he sallied single That grateful dirge your dying champion claims. To meet the foe, whose unexpected host Semicho. Lo, where incumbent o'er the shade Round by the east had wound their fraudful Rome's rav’ning eagle bows her beaked head! march,

Yet while a moment fate affords, And fired our groves.

While yet a moment freedom stays, Eli. O fatal, fatal valour!

That moment, which outweighs Then is he seiz'd, or slain.

Eternity's unmeasur'd hoards, Arvi. Too sure he is !

Shall Mona's grateful Bards employ, Druid, not half the Romans met our swords; To hymn their godlike hero to the sky. We found the fraud too late : the rest are yonder. Semicho. Ring out, ye mortal strings; Cho. How could they gain the pass ?

Answer, thou heavenly harp, instinct with spirit all

, Arvi. The wretch, that fled

That o'er the jasper arch self-warbling swings That

way, return'd, conducting half their powers; Of blest Andraste's throne : And—But thy pardon, youth, I will not woundthee, Thy sacred sounds alone He is thy brother.

Can celebrate the fall
Eli. Thus my honest sword

Of bold Arviragus-
Shall force the blood from the detested heart,
That holds alliance with him.

Enter AULUS DIDIUS and Romans. Ardi. Elidurus,

Aulus. Ye bloody priests,
Hold, on our friendship, hold! Thou noble youth, Behold we burst on your infernal rites,

[ocr errors]



His pity

And bid you pause. Instant restore our soldiers, , I saw the slave, that cowardly behind
Nor hope that Superstition's ruthless step Pinion'd his arms; I saw the sacred sword
Shall wade in Roman gore. Ye savage men,

Writh'd from his grasp : I saw, what now ye see, Did not our laws give licence to all faiths, Inglorious sight! those barbarous bonds upon We would o'erturn your altars, headlong heave

him. These shapeless symbols of your barbarous gods, And let the golden sun into your caves.

CARACTACUS, AULUS DIDIUS, CHORUS, &c. Cho. Servant of Cæsar, has thine impious Car. Romans, methinks the malice of your ty."

tongue Spent the black venom of its blasphemy? Might furnish heavier chains. Old as I am, It has. Then take our curses on thine head, And wither'd as you see these war-worn limbs, Ev’n his fell curses, who doth reign in Mona, Trust me, they shall support the weightiest load Vicegerent of those gods thy pride insults. Injustice dares impose. dulus. Bold priest, I scorn thy curses, and thy- Proud-crested soldier !

(To Didius. self.

Who seem'st the master-mover in this business, Soldiers, go search the caves, and free the pri- Say, dost thou read less terror on my brow,

Than when thou met'st me in the fields of war Take heed, ye seize Caractacus alive.

Heading my nations ? No, my free-born soul Arrest yon youth ; load him with heaviest irons, Has scorn still left to sparkle through these eyes, He shall to Cæsar answer for his crime.

And frown defiance on thee. Is it thus ! Eli. I stand prepar’d to triumph in my crime.

[Seeing his son's body. Aulus. 'Tis well, proud boy-Look to the Then I'm indeed a captive, Mighty gods !

beauteous maid, [To the Soldiers. My soul, my soul submits : Patient it bears That tranc'd in grief, bends o'er yon bleeding The pond'rous load of grief ye heap upon it. corse ;

Yes, it will grovel in this shatter'd breast, Respect her sorrows.

And be the sad tame thing it ought to be, Erel. Hence, ye barbarous men,

Coopt in a servile body. Ye shall not take him welt'ring thus in blood, dulus. Droop not, king. To shew at Rome, what British virtue was. When Claudius, the great master of the world, Avaunt! The breathless body that ye

touch Shall hear the noble story of thy valour, Was once Arviragus ! Aulus. Fear us not, princess,

Car. Can a Roman pity, soldier ? We reverence the dead.

And if he can, gods! must a Briton bcar it? Cho. Would too to heav'n,

Arviragus, my bold, my breathless boy, Ye reverenc'd the gods but ev'n enough Thou hast escap'd such pity; thou art free. Not to debase with slavery's cruel chain, Here in high Mona shall thy noble limbs What they created free.

Rest in a noble grave; posterity Aulus. The Romans fight

Shall to thy tomb with annual reverence bring Not to enslave, but humanize the world. Sepulchral stones, and pile them to the clouds : Cho. Go to, we will not parley with thee, Ro- Whilst mine

Aulus. The morn doth hasten our departure. Instant pronounce our doom.

Prepare thee, king, to go: A fav’ring gale Aulus. Hear it, and thank us.

Now swells our sails. This once our clemency shall spare your groves,

Car. Inhuman, that thou art ! If at our call ye yield the British king :

Dost thou deny a moment for a father Yet learn, when next ye aid the foes of Cæsar, To shed a few warm tears o'er his dead gon? That each old oak, whose solemn gloom ye boast, I tell thee, chief, this act might claim a life, Shall bow beneath our axes.

To do it duly; even a longer life, Cho. Be they blasted,

Than sorrow ever suffer'd. Cruel man! Whene'er their shade forgets to shelter virtue. And thou deniest me moments. Be it so.

I know you Romans weep not for your couldren; Enter Bard.

Ye triumph o'er your tears, and think it valour : Mourn, Mona, mourn. Caractacus is captive! I triumph in my tears. Yes, best-lov'd boy, And dost thou smile, false Roman? do not think Yes, I can weep, can fall upon thy corse, He fell an easy prey. Know, ere he yielded, And I can tear my hairs, these few grey hairs, Thy bravest veterans bled. He too, thy spy, The only honours war and age have left me. The base Brigantian prince, hatín seald his fraud Ah son! thou might'st have ruld o'er many na With death. Bursting through armed ranks, that tions, hemm'd

As did thy royal ancestry: But I, The caitiff round, the brave Caractacus

Rash that I was, ne'er knew the golden curb Seiz’d his false throat; and as he gave him death Discretion hangs on brav'ry: Else perchance Indignant thunder'd, · Thus is my last stroke, These men, that fasten fetters on thy father, * The stroke of justice.' Numbers then oppress- Had sued to him for peace, and claim’d his frie



[ocr errors]

ed him :



had arms,

Aulus. But thou wast still implacable to Rome, When trick'd and varnish'd by your glossing And scorn'd her friendship.

penmen, Car. (Starting up from the body.] Soldier, I Will shine in honour's annals, and adorn

Himself; it boots not me. Look there, look Had neighing steeds to whirl my iron cars,

there, Had wealth, dominion. Dost thou wonder, Ro- The slave that shot that dart, killd ev'ry hope

Of lost Caractacus ! Arise, my daughter. man, I fought to save them? What if Cæsar aims, Alas! poor prince; art thou too in vile fetters! To lord it universal o'er the world,

(To ELIDURUS. Shall the world tamely crouch at Cæsar's foot- Come hither, youth: Be thou to me a son, stool ?

To her a brother. Thus with trembling arms Aulus. Read in thy fate our answer. Yet if I lead you forth; children, we go to Rome.

Weep'st thou, my girl? I prithee hoard thy tears Thy pride had yielded

For the sad meeting of thy captive mother: Car. Thank thy gods, I did not.

For we have much to tell her, much to say Had it been so, the glory of thy master, Of these good men, who nurtur'd us in Mona; Like my misfortunes, had been short and trivial, Much of the fraud and malice, that pursu'd us; Oblivion's ready prey: Now, after struggling Much of her son, who pour'd his precious blood Nine years, and that right bravely, 'gainst a ty- To save his sire and sister : Think'st thon, maids rant,

Her gentleness can hear the tale, and live? I am his slave to treat as seems him good; And yet she must. O gods, I grow a talker ! If cruelly, 'twill be an easy task

Grief and old age are ever full of words: To bow a wretch, alas ! how bow'd already! But I'll be mute. Adieu ! ye holy men; Down to the dust : If well, his clemency, Yet one look more-Now lead us bence for ever.



[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Like fam'd La Mancha's knight, who, lance in | And at his touch, each grace and beauty dies. hand,

Love, gentleness, and joy, to rage give away, Mounted his steed to free th' enchanted land, And the soft dove becomes a bird of prey. Our Quixote bard sets out a monster-taming, May this our bold advent'rer break the spell, Arm'd at all points, to fight that monster, Gaming. And drive the dæmon to his native hell. Aloft on Pegasus he waves his


Ye slaves of passion, and ye dupes of chance, And hurls defiance at the caitift's den:

Wake all your powers from his destructive The first on fancied giants spent his rage,

trance ! But this has more than windmills to engage. Shake off the shackles of this tyrant vice: He combats passion rooted in the soul,

Hear other calls than those of cards and dice: Whose powers at once delight ye, and controul ; Be learn'd in nobler arts than'arts of play, Whose magic bondage each lost slave enjoys, And other debts than those of honour pay. Nor wishes freedom, though the spell destroys. No longer live insensible to shame, To save our land from this magician's charms, Lost to your country, families, and fame. And rescue maids and matrons from his arms, Could our romantic muse this work atchieve, Our knight poetic comes-And, oh! ye fair Would there one honest heart in Britain grieve? This black enchanter's wicked arts beware! Th’attempt,though wild, would not in vain be made, His subtle poison dims the brightest eyes, If every honest hand would lend its aidh.

[blocks in formation]
« ZurückWeiter »