Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

by a strange frenzy driven, fight for power, for plunder, and extended rule: we, for our country, our altars, and our homes. They follow an adventurer whom they fear, and obey a power which they hate : we serve a monarch whom we love — a God whom we adore. When. e'er they move in anger, desolation tracks their progress! Whene'er they pause in amity, affliction mourns their friendship. They boast they come but to improve our state, enlarge our thoughts, and free us from the yoke of error! Yes: they will give enlightened freedom to our minds, who are themselves the slaves of passion, avarice, and pride! They offer us their protection : yes, such protection as vultures give to lambs — covering and devouring them! They call on us to barter all of good we have enhanced and proved, for the desperate chance of something better which they promise. Be our plain answer this :— The throne we honor is the People's choice; the laws we reverence are our brave fathers’ legacy; the faith we follow teaches us to live in bonds of charity with all mankind, and die with hope of bliss beyond the grave. Tell your invaders this ; and tell them, too, we seek no change, — and, least of all, such change as they would bring us!

5. RICHELIEU AND FRANCE. – Sir E. Bulwer Lytton.

My liege, your anger can recall your trust,
Annul my office, spoil me of my lands,
Rifle my coffers; but my name,

- my deeds,
Are royal in a land beyond your sceptre.
Pass sentence on me, if you will; — from Kings,
Lo, I appeal to time! Be just, my liege.
I found your Kingdom rent with heresies,
And bristling with rebellion ; — lawless nobles
And breadless serfs; England fomenting discord;
Austria, her clutch on your dominion; Spain
Forging the prodigal gold of either Ind
To armèd thunderbolts. The Arts lay dead;
Trade rotted in your marts; your Armies mutinous,
Your Treasury bankrupt. Would you now revoke
Your trust, so be it! and I leave you, sole,
Supremest Monarch of the mightiest realm,
From Ganges to the Icebergs. Look without,
No foe not humbled! Look within, — the Arts
Quit, for our schools, their old Hesperides,
The golden Italy! while throughout the veins
Of your vast empire flows in strengthening tides
Trade, the calm health of Nations! Sire, I know
That men have called me cruel ;
I am not; — I am just! I found France rent asunder,
The rich men despots, and the poor banditti;
Sloth in the mart, and schism within the temple;

[ocr errors]

Brawls festoring to rebellion; and weak laws
Rotting away with rust in antique sheaths.
I have re-created France; and, from the ashes
Of the old feudal and decrepit carcass,
Civilization, on her luminous wings,
Soars, phoenix-like, to Jove! What was my art ?
Genius, some say ;

some, Fortune; · Witchcraft, some.
Not so; - my art was JUSTICE!

1

6.

CROMWELL ON THE DEATH OF CHARLES THE FIRST. - Original adaptation

from Sir E. Bulwer Lytton. By what law fell King Charles? By all the laws He left us! And I, Cromwell

, here proclaim it. ·
Sirs, let us, with a calm and sober eye,
Look on the spectre of this ghastly deed.
Who spills man's blood, his shall by man be shed !
'Tis Heaven's first law; to that law we had come,
None other left us. Who, then, caused the strife
That crimsoned Naseby's field, and Marston's moor?
It was the Stuart; so the Stuart fell !
A victim, in the pit himself had digged !
He died not, Sirs, as hated Kings have died,
In secret and in shade, no eye to trace
The one step from their prison to their pall;
He died i’ the eyes of Europe, in the face
Of the broad Heaven; amidst the sons of England,
Whom he had outraged; by a solemn sentence,
Passed by a solemn Court. Does this seem guilt ?
You pity Charles ! 't is well; but pity more
The tens of thousand honest humble men,
Who, by the tyranny of Charles compelled
To draw the sword, fell butchered in the field !
Good Lord! when one man dies who wears a Crown,
How the earth trembles, — how the Nations gape,
Amazed and awed ! but when that one man's victims,
Poor worms, unclothed in purple, daily die,
In the grim cell, or on the groaning gibbet,
Or on the civil field, ye pitying souls
Drop not one tear from your

indifferent eyes!
He would have stretched his will
O’er the unlimited empire of men's souls,
Fettered the Earth's pure air, for freedom is
That air, to honest lips, and here he lies,
In dust most eloquent, to after time
A never-silent oracle for Kings!
Was this the hand that strained within its grasp
So haught a sceptre ? — this the shape that wore
Majesty like a garment? Spurn that clay, -

It can resent not; speak of royal crimes, And it can frown not; — schemeless lies the brain Whose thoughts were sources of such fearful deeds. What things are we, O Lord, when, at thy will, A worm like this could shake the mighty world ! A few years since, and in the port was moored A bark to far Columbia's forests bound; And I was one of those indignant hearts Panting for exile in the thirst for freedom. Then, that pale clay (poor clay, that was a King!) Forbade my parting, in the wanton pride Of vain command, and with a fated sceptre Waved back the shadow of the death to come. Here stands that baffled and forbidden wanderer, Loftiest amid the wrecks of ruined empire, Beside the coffin of a headless King! He thralled my fate, — I have prepared his doom; — He made me captive, – lo! his narrow cell! So hands unseen do fashion forth the earth Of our frail schemes into our funeral urns; So, walking dream-led in Life's sleep, our steps Move blindfold to the scaffold or the Throne ! —o7. PROCREATIVE VIRTUE OF GREAT EXAMPLES. Lord Byron.

WE will not strike for private wrongs alone:
Such are for selfish passions and rash men,
But are unworthy a tyrannicide.
We must forget all feelings save the one :
We must resign all passions save our purpose;
We must behold no object save our country, -
And only look on death as beautiful,
So that the sacrifice ascend to Heaven,
And draw down freedom on her evermore.

“But if we fail—?” They never fail who die
In a great cause! The block may soak their gore;
Their heads may sodden in the sun; their limbs
Be strung to city gates and castle walls; —
But still their spirit walks abroad. Though years
Elapse, and others share as dark a doom,
They but augment the deep and sweeping thoughts
Which overpower all others, and conduct
The world, at last, to freedom 2 What were we,
If Brutus had not lived He died in giving
Rome liberty, but left a deathless lesson, —
A name which is a virtue, and a soul
Which multiplies itself throughout all time,
When wicked men wax mighty, and a State

Turns servile. He and his high friends were styled
“The last of Romans!” Let us be the first
Of true Venetians, sprung from Roman sires;

8. MARINO FALIERO TO THE WENETIAN CONSPIRATORS. — Lord Byron.

You see me here,
As one of you hath said, an old, unarmed,
Defenceless man; and yesterday you saw me -
Presiding in the hall of ducal state,
Apparent sovereign of our hundred isles, *
Robed in official purple, dealing out -
The edicts of a power which is not mine,
Nor yours, but of our masters, the Patricians.
Why I was there, you know, or think you know;
Why I am here, he who hath been most wronged,
He who among you hath been most insulted,
Outraged, and trodden on, until he doubt
If he be worm or no, may answer for me,
Asking of his own heart, — what brought him here !
You know my recent story; all men know it,
And judge of it far differently from those
Who sate in judgment to heap scorn on scorn.
But spare me the recital, - it is here,
Here, at my heart, the outrage! — but my words,
Already spent in unavailing 'plaints,
Would only show my feebleness the more;
And I come here to strengthen even the strong,
And urge them on to deeds, and not to war
With woman's weapons; but I need not urge you.
Our private wrongs have sprung from public vices
In this — I cannot call it commonwealth,
Nor kingdom, which hath neither prince nor People,
But all the sins of the old Spartan state,
Without its virtues, temperance, and valor.
The lords of Lacedemon were true soldiers;
But ours are Sybarites, while we are Helots,
Of whom I am the lowest, most enslaved,
Although dressed out to head a pageant, as
The Greeks of yore made drunk their slaves, to form
A pastime for their children. You are met
To overthrow this monster of a State,
This mockery of a Government, this spectre,
Which must be exorcised with blood, and then
We will renew the times of truth and justice,
Condensing, in a fair, free commonwealth,
Not rash equality, but equal rights,
Proportioned like the columns to the temple,

Giving and taking strength reciprocal,
And making firm the whole with grace and beauty,
So that no part could be removed without
Infringement on the general symmetry.
In operating this great change, I claim
To be one of you, if you trust in me;
If not, strike home; - my life is compromised,
And I would rather fall by freemen's hands,
Than live another day to act the tyrant,
As delegate of tyrants. Such I am not,
And never have been. Read it in our annals.
I can appeal to my past government
In many lands and cities; they can tell you
If I were an oppressor, or a man
Feeling and thinking for my fellow-men.
Haply, had I been what the Senate sought,
A thing of robes and trinkets, dizened out
To sit in state as for a sovereign's picture,
A popular scourge, a ready sentence-signer,
A stickler for the Senate and “the Forty,”
A sceptic of all measures which had not
The sanction of “the Ten," a council-fawner,
A tool, a fool, a puppet, — they had ne'er
Fostered the wretch who stung me! What I suffer
Has reached me through my pity for the People;
That many know, and they who know not yet
Will one day learn ; meantime, I do devote,
Whate'er the issue, my last days of life,
My present power, such as it is ; not that
Of Doge, but of a man who has been great
Before he was degraded to a Doge,
And still has individual means and mind;-
I stake my fame (and I had fame), — my breath
(The least of all, for its last hours are nigh),
My heart, my hope, my soul, upon this cast !
Such as I am, I offer me to you,
And to your chiefs. Accept me or reject me,
A prince who fain would be a citizen
Or nothing, and who has left his throne to be so !

9. DYING SPEECH OF MARINO FALIERO. – Lord Byron.

I SPEAK to Time and to Eternity, Of which I grow a portion, not to man. Ye elements in which to be resolved I hasten, let my voice be as a spirit Upon you! Ye blue waves! which bore my banner ; Ye winds! which fluttered o'er as if you loved it,

« ZurückWeiter »