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Against his country's chiefs ?—He that did this,
May well be deemed for guiltier treason ripe.
Proc. And who is he?
Mont. Nay, ask thy son.
Proc. My son!
What should he know of such a recreant heart?
Speak, Guido! Thou art his friend!
Guido. I would not wear
The brand of such a name!
Who but he
Could warn De Couci, or devise the guilt
These scrolls reveal ? (Showing papers.) Hath not the traitor still
Sought, with his fair and specious eloquence,
To win us from our purpose ? All things seem
Leagued to unmask him.
Proc. There was one
Who mourned for being childless !-Let him now
Feast o'er his children's graves, and I will join
Mont. (Aside.) You shall be childless too!
Proc. Was it you, Montalba ?-Now rejoice! I say.
There is no name so near you that its stains
Should call the fevered and indignant blood
To your dark cheek !-But I will dash to earth
The weight that presses on my heart, and then
Be glad as thou art.
Mont. What means this, my lord ?
Who hath seen gladness on Montalba's mien?
Proc. Why, should not all be glad who have no sons
To tarnish their bright name?
Mont. I am not used
To bear with mockery.
Friend! By yon high heaven,
I mock thee not !—'tis a proud fate, to live
Alone and unallied.
Oh! I could laugh to think
Of the joy that riots in baronial halls,
When the word comes—"A son is born!”—A son !
Proc. Why, am I not
Calm as immortal justice ?-She can strike,
And yet be passionless--and thus will I.
I know thy meaning.---Deeds to do!—'tis well.
They shall be done ere thought on.-Go ye
There is a youth who calls himself my son,
His name is-Raimond-in his
That shows like truth—but be ye not deceived !
Bear him in chains before us. We will sit
To-day in judgment, and the skies shall see
The strength which girds our nature.-Will not this
Be glorious, brave Montalba ?-Linger not,
Ye tardy messengers ! for there are things
Which ask the speed of storms. (Exeunt all but Montalba.)
Mont. Now this is well!
I hate this Procida ; for he hath won
In all our councils that ascendancy
And mastery over bold hearts, which should have been
Mine by a thousand claims.-Had he the strength
Of wrongs like mine ?—No! for that name
He strikes—my vengeance hath a deeper fount:
But there's dark joy in this !—and fate hath barred
My soul from every other.
SCENE 2.-Hall of a Public building.--Procida, Montalba,
Guido and others, seated as on a tribunal. Procida. The morn lowered darkly, but the sun hath now, With fierce and angry splendor, through the clouds Burst forth, as if impatient to behold This, our high triumph.-Lead the prisoner in.
(Raimond is brought in fettered and guarded.) Why, what a bright and fearless brow is here! Is this man guilty ?-look on him, Montalba !
Montalba. Be firm. Should justice falter at a look ?
Proc. No, thou sayest well. Her eyes are filleted,
Or should be so. Thou that dost call thyself-
But no! I will not breathe a traitor's name-
Speak! thou art arraigned of treason.
Raimond. I arraign
You, before whom I stand, of darker guilt,
In the bright face of heaven; and your own hearts
Give echo to the charge. Your very looks
Have taken the stamp of crime, and seem to shrink
With a perturbed and haggard wildness, back
From the too-searching light.-Why, what hath wrought
This change on noble brows? There is a voice,
With a deep answer, rising from the blood
Your hands have coldly shed! Ye are of those
From whom just men recoil, with curdling veins,
All thrilled by life's abhorrent consciousness,
And sensitive feeling of a murderer's presence.
Away! come down from your tribunal seat,
Put off your robes of state, and let your
Be pale and humbled ; for ye bear about you
That which repugnant earth doth sicken at,
More than the pestilence.—That I should live
To see my father shrink!
Proc. Montalba, speak! There's something chokes my voice—but fear me not.
Mont. If we must plead to vindicate our acts,
Be it when thou hast made thine own look clear!
Most eloquent youth! What answer canst thou make
To this our charge of treason?
Rai. I will plead
That cause before a mightier judgment-throne,
Where mercy is not guilt. But here, I feel
Too buoyantly the glory and the joy
Of niy free spirit's whiteness : for even now
The embodied hideousness of crime doth seem
Before me glaring out.—Why, I saw thee,
Thy foot upon an aged warrior's breast,
Trampling out nature's last convulsive heavings.
And thou—thy sword-Oh, valiant chief!-is yet
Red from the noble stroke which pierced, at once,
A mother and the babe, whose little life
Was from her bosom drawn !-Immortal deeds
For bards to hymn !
Guido. (Aside.) I look upon his mien,
And waver.—Can it be ?–My boyish heart
Deemed him so noble once! Away, weak thoughts !
Why should I shrink, as if the guilt were mine,
From his proud glance ?
Proc. Oh, thou dissembler !-thou, So skilled to clothe with virtue's
The hollow cheek of cold hypocrisy,
That, with thy guilt made manifest, I can scarce
Believe thee guilty !-look on me,
Whose was the secret warning voice, that saved
De Couci, with his bands, to join our foes,
And forge new fetters for the indignant land ?
Whose was this treachery? (Shows him papers.)
Who hath done this,
But thou, a tyrant's friend ?
Rai. Who hath done this?
Father !—if I may call thee by that name-
Look, with thy piercing eye, on those whose smiles
Were masks that hid their daggers. There, perchance,
May lurk what loves not light too strong. For me,
I know but this—there needs no deep research
the truth-that murderers
may be traitors, Even to each other.
Proc. (To Montalba.) His unaltering cheek
Still vividly doth hold its natural hue,
And his eye quails not !-Is this innocence ?
Mont. No! 'tis the unshrinking hardihood of crime.
Thou bearest a gallant mien !—But where is she
Whom thou hast bartered fame and life to save,
The fair provençal maid ?—What! knowest thou not
That this alone were guilt, to death allied ?
Was it not our law that he who spared a foe,–
And is she not of that detested race ?-
Should henceforth be among us as a foe?
Where hast thou borne her?—Speak!
Rai. That heaven, whose eye
Burns up thy soul with its far-searching glance,
Is with her; she is safe.
Proc. And by that word
Thy doom is sealed.—Oh God! that I had died
Before this bitter hour, in the full strength
And glory of my heart !
over, And I have but to die.
Mont. Now, Procida,
Comes thy great task. Wake! summon to thine aid
All thy deep soul's commanding. energies ;
For thou, a chief among us, must pronounce-
The sentence of thy son, It rests with thee.
Pro. Ha! ha!--Men's hearts should be of softer mold
Than in the elder time. Fathers could doom
Their children then with an unfaltering voice,
And we must tremble thus! Is it not said,
That nature grows degenerate, earth being now
So full of days?
Mont. Rouse up thy mighty heart.
Proc. Ay, thou sayest right. There yet are souls which tower As landmarks to mankind. Well, what's the task ? There is a man to be condemned, you say? Is he then guilty ?
All. Thus we deem of him
With one accord.
Proc. And hath he nought to plead ?
Rai. Nought but a soul unstained.
Proc. Why, that is little.
Stains on the soul are but as conscience deems them,
And conscience may be seared.--But, for this sentence!
Was it not the penalty imposed on man,
Even from creation's dawn, that he must die?
It was : thus making guilt a sacrifice
Unto eternal justice; and we but
Obey heaven's mandate when we cast dark souls
To the elements from amongst us.- Be it so!
Such be his doom!—I have said. Ay, now my heart
Is girt with adamant, whose cold weight doth press
Its gaspings down. Off! let me breathe in freedom!
Mountains are on my breast!
(He sinks back.) Mont. Guards, bear the prisoner Back to his dungeon.
Rai. Father! oh, look up!
Thou art my father still !
Guido. Oh! Raimond, Raimond !
If it should be that I have wronged thee, say
Thou dost forgive me.
Rai. Friend of my young days,
So may all-pitying heaven!
(Raimond is led out.) Proc. Whose voice was that? Where is he?-gone ?-now I breathe once more.. In the free air of heaven. Let us away.