The Vespers of Palermo/The Vespers of Palermo, Act Four
ACT THE FOURTH.
Scene I.—A Street in Palermo.
Procida. How strange and deep a stillness loads the air,
As with the power of midnight!—Ay, where death
Hath pass'd, there should be silence,—But this hush
Of nature's heart, this breathlessness of all things,
Doth press on thought too heavily, and the sky,
With its dark robe of purple thunder-clouds
Brooding in sullen masses, o'er my spirit
Weighs like an omen!—Wherefore should this be?
Is not our task achieved, the mighty work
Of our deliverance?—Yes; I should be joyous:
But this our feeble nature, with its quick
Instinctive superstitions, will drag down
Th' ascending soul.—And I have fearful bodings
That treachery lurks amongst us.—Raimond! Raimond!
Oh! Guilt ne'er made a mien like his its garb!
It cannot be!
Montalba, Guido, and other Sicilians, enter.
Pro. Welcome; we meet in joy!
Now may we bear ourselves erect, resuming
The kingly port of freemen! Who shall dare,
After this proof of slavery's dread recoil,
To weave us chains again?—Ye have done well.
Montalba. We have done well. There need no choral song,
No shouting multitudes to blazon forth
Our stern exploits.—The silence of our foes
Doth vouch enough, and they are laid to rest
Deep as the sword could make it. Yet our task
Is still but half achieved, since, with his bands,
De Couci hath escaped, and, doubtless, leads
Their footsteps to Messina, where our foes
Will gather all their strength. Determined hearts,
And deeds to startle earth, are yet required,
To make the mighty sacrifice complete.—
Where is thy son?
Pro. I know not. Once last night
He cross'd my path, and with one stroke beat down
A sword just raised to smite me, and restored
My own, which in that deadly strife had been
Wrench'd from my grasp: but when I would have press'd him
To my exulting bosom, he drew back,
And with a sad, and yet a scornful, smile,
Full of strange meaning, left me. Since that hour
I have not seen him. Wherefore didst thou ask?
Mon. It matters not. We have deeper things to speak of.—
Know'st thou that we have traitors in our councils?
Pro. I know some voice in secret must have warn'd
De Couci; or his scatter'd bands had ne'er
So soon been marshall'd, and in close array
Led hence as from the field. Hast thou heard aught
That may develope this?
Mon. The guards we set
To watch the city-gates have seized, this morn,
One whose quick fearful glance, and hurried step
Betray'd his guilty purpose. Mark! he bore
(Amidst the tumult deeming that his flight
Might all unnoticed pass) these scrolls to him,
The fugitive Provençal. Read and judge!
Pro. Where is this messenger?
Mon. Where should he be?—
They slew him in their wrath.
Give me the scrolls. [He reads
Now, if there be such things
As may to death add sharpness, yet delay
The pang which gives release; if there be power
In execration, to call down the fires
Of yon avenging heaven, whose rapid shafts
But for such guilt were aimless; be they heap'd
Upon the traitor's head!—Scorn make his name
Her mark for ever!
Mon. In our passionate blindness,
We send forth curses, whose deep stings recoil
Oft on ourselves.
Pro. Whate'er fate hath of ruin
Fall on his house!—What! to resign again
That freedom for whose sake our souls have now
Engrain'd themselves in blood!—Why, who is he
That hath devised this treachery?—To the scroll
Why fix'd he not his name, so stamping it
With an immortal infamy, whose brand
Might warn men from him?—Who should be so vile?
Alberti?—In his eye is that which ever
Shrinks from encountering mine!—But no! his race
Is of our noblest—Oh! he could not shame
That high descent!—Urbino?—Conti?—No!
They are too deeply pledged.—There's one name more!
—I cannot utter it!—Now shall I read
Each face with cold suspicion, which doth blot
From man's high mien its native royalty,
And seal his noble forehead with the impress
Of its own vile imaginings!—Speak your thoughts,
Montalba! Guido!—Who should this man be?
Mon. Why what Sicilian youth unsheath'd, last night
His sword to aid our foes, and turn'd it's edge
Against his country's chiefs?—He that did this,
May well be deem'd for guiltier treason ripe.
Pro. And who is he?
Mon. Nay, ask thy son.
Pro. My son!
What should he know of such a recreant heart?
Speak, Guido! thou 'rt his friend!
Guido. I would not wear
The brand of such a name!
Pro. How! what means this?
A flash of light breaks in upon my soul!
Is it to blast me?—Yet the fearful doubt
Hath crept in darkness through my thoughts before,
And been flung from them.—Silence!—Speak not yet!
I would be calm, and meet the thunder-burst
With a strong heart. (A pause.
Now, what have I to hear?
Guido. Briefly, 'twas your son did thus;
He hath disgraced your name.
Pro. My son did thus!
—Are thy words oracles, that I should search
Their hidden meaning out?—What did my son?
I have forgot the tale.—Repeat it, quick!
Guido. 'Twill burst upon thee all too soon. While we
Were busy at the dark and solemn rites
Of retribution; while we bathed the earth
In red libations, which will consecrate
The soil they mingled with to freedom's step
Thro' the long march of ages; 'twas his task
To shield from danger a Provençal maid,
Sister of him whose cold oppression stung
Our hearts to madness.
Mon. What! should she be spared
To keep that name from perishing on earth?
—I cross'd them in their path, and raised my sword
To smite her in her champion's arms.—We fought—
The boy disarm'd me!—And I live to tell
My shame, and wreak my vengeance!
Guido. Who but he
Could warn De Couci, or devise the guilt
These scrolls reveal?—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.
Mon. Know you not there came,
E'en in the banquet's hour, from this De Couci,
One, bearing unto Eribert the tidings
Of all our purposed deeds?—And have we not
Proof, as the noon-day clear, that Raimond loves
The sister of that tyrant?
Pro. There was one
Who mourn'd for being childless!—Let him now
Feast o'er his children's graves, and I will join
Mon. (apart.) You shall be childless too!
Pro. Was 't you, Montalba?—Now rejoice! I say.
There is no name so near you that its stains
Should call the fever'd 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.
Mon. What means this, my lord?
Who hath seen gladness on Montalba's mien?
Pro. Why, should not all be glad who have no sons
To tarnish their bright name?
Mon. I am not used
To bear with mockery.
Pro. Friend! By yon high heaven,
I mock thee not! —'t is a proud fate, to live
Alone and unallied.—Why, what's alone?
A word whose sense is—free!—Ay, free from all
The venom'd stings implanted in the heart
By those it loves.—Oh! I could laugh to think
O' th' joy that riots in baronial halls,
When the word comes—"A son is born!"—A son!
—They should say thus—"He that shall knit your brow
"To furrows, not of years; and bid your eye
"Quail its proud glance; to tell the earth its shame,—
"Is born, and so, rejoice!"—Then might we feast,
And know the cause:—Were it not excellent?
Mon. This is all idle. There are deeds to do;
Arouse thee, Procida!
Pro. 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!—'t is well.
They shall be done ere thought on.—Go ye forth;
There is a youth who calls himself my son,
His name is—Raimond—in his eye is light
That shows like truth—but be not ye 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 Guido and others.
Is not this well?
Mon. 'T is noble. Keep thy spirit to this proud height,
(Aside) And then—be desolate like me!—my woes
Will at the thought grow light.
Pro. What now remains
To be prepared?—There should be solemn pomp
To grace a day like this.—Ay, breaking hearts
Require a drapery to conceal their throbs
From cold inquiring eyes; and it must be
Ample and rich, that so their gaze may not
Explore what lies beneath. [Exit Procida.
Mon. Now this is well!
—I hate this Procida; for he hath won
In all our councils that ascendancy
And mastery o'er bold hearts, which should have been
Mine by a thousand claims.—Had he the strength
Of wrongs like mine?— No! for that name—his country—
He strikes—my vengeance hath a deeper fount:
But there's dark joy in this!—And fate hath barr'd
My soul from every other. [Exit Montalba.
Scene II.—A Hermitage, surrounded by the Ruins of
an ancient Temple.
Constance. 'T is strange he comes not!—Is not this the still
And sultry hour of noon?—He should have been
Here by the day-break.—Was there not a voice?
—"No! 'tis the shrill Cicada, with glad life
"Peopling these marble ruins, as it sports
"Amidst them, in the sun.—Hark! yet again!"
No! no!—Forgive me, father! that I bring
Earth's restless griefs and passions to disturb
The stillness of thy holy solitude;
My heart is full of care.
Anselmo. There is no place
So hallow'd, as to be unvisited
By mortal cares. Nay, whither should we go,
With our deep griefs and passions, but to scenes
Lonely and still; where he that made our hearts
Will speak to them in whispers? I have known
Affliction too, my daughter.
Con. Hark! his step!
I know it well—he comes—my Raimond, welcome!
Vittoria enters, Constance shrinks back on perceiving her.
Oh heaven! that aspect tells a fearful tale.
Vittoria. (not observing her.) There is a cloud of horror on my soul;
And on thy words, Anselmo, peace doth wait,
Even as an echo, following the sweet close
Of some divine and solemn harmony:
Therefore I sought thee now. Oh! speak to me
Of holy things, and names, in whose deep sound
Is power to bid the tempests of the heart
Sink, like a storm rebuked.
Ans. What recent grief
Darkens thy spirit thus?
Vit. I said not grief.
We should rejoice to-day, but joy is not
That which it hath been. In the flowers which wreathe
Its mantling cup there is a scent unknown,
Fraught with some strange delirium. All things now
Have changed their nature; still, I say, rejoice!
There is a cause, Anselmo!—We are free,
Free and avenged!—Yet on my soul there hangs
A darkness, heavy as th' oppressive gloom
Of midnight phantasies.—Ay, for this, too,
There is a cause.
Ans. How say'st thou, we are free?
There may have raged, within Palermo's walls,
Some brief wild tumult, but too well I know
They call the stranger, lord.
Vit. Who calls the dead
Conqueror or lord?—Hush! breathe it not aloud,
The wild winds must not hear it!—Yet, again,
I tell thee, we are free!
Ans. Thine eye hath look’d
On fearful deeds, for still their shadows hang
O'er its dark orb.—Speak! I adjure thee, say.
How hath this work been wrought?
Vit. Peace! ask me not!
Why shouldst thou hear a tale to send thy blood
Back on its fount?—We cannot wake them now
The storm is in my soul, but they are all
At rest!—Ay, sweetly may the slaughter'd babe
By its dead mother sleep; and warlike men
Who, midst the slain have slumber'd oft before,
Making the shield their pillow, may repose
Well, now their toils are done.—Is't not enough?
Con. Merciful heaven! have such things been? And yet
There is no shade come o'er the laughing sky!
—I am an outcast now.
Ans. O Thou, whose ways
Clouds mantle fearfully; of all the blind,
But terrible, ministers that work thy wrath,
How much is man the fiercest!—Others know
Their limits—Yes! the earthquakes, and the storms,
And the volcanoes!—He alone o'erleaps
The bounds of retribution!—Couldst thou gaze,
Vittoria! with thy woman's heart and eye,
On such dread scenes unmoved?
Vit. Was it for me
To stay th' avenging sword?—No, tho' it pierced
My very soul?—"Hark, hark, what thrilling shrieks
"Ring thro' the air around me!—Can'st thou not
"Bid them be hush'd?—Oh! look not on me thus!
Ans. "Lady! thy thoughts lend sternness to the looks
"Which are but sad!"—Have all then perish’d? all?
Was there no mercy?
Vit. Mercy! it hath been
A word forbidden as th' unhallowed names
Of evil powers.—Yet one there was who dared
To own the guilt of pity, and to aid
The victims; but in vain.—Of him no more!
He is a traitor, and a traitor's death
Will be his meed.
Con. (coming forward.) Oh Heaven!—his name, his name?
Is it—it cannot be!
Vit. (starting.) Thou here, pale girl!
I deem'd thee with the dead!—How hast thou 'scaped
The snare?—Who saved thee, last of all thy race?
Was it not he of whom I spake e'en now,
Raimond di Procida?
Con. It is enough.
Now the storm breaks upon me, and I sink!
Must he too die?
Vit. Is it ev'n so?—Why then,
Live on—thou hast the arrow at thy heart!
"Fix not on me thy sad reproachful eyes,"
I mean not to betray thee. Thou may'st live!
Why should death bring thee his oblivious balms?
He visits but the happy.—Didst thou ask
If Raimond too must die?—It is as sure
As that his blood is on thy head, for thou
Didst win him to this treason.
Con. "When did man
"Call mercy, treason?—Take my life, but save
"My noble Raimond!
Vit. Maiden!" He must die.
E'en now the youth before his judges stands,
And they are men who, to the voice of prayer,
Are as the rock is to the murmur'd sigh
Of summer-waves; ay, tho' a father sit
On their tribunal. Bend thou not to me.
What would'st thou?
Con. Mercy!—Oh! wert thou to plead
But with a look, e'en yet he might be saved!
If thou hast ever loved—
Vit. ——If I have loved?
It is that love forbids me to relent;
I am what it hath made me.—O'er my soul
Lightning hath pass'd, and sear'd it. Could I weep,
I then might pity—but it will not be.
Con. Oh! thou wilt yet relent, for woman's heart
Was formed to suffer and to melt.
Why should I pity thee?—Thou wilt but prove
What I have known before—and yet I live!
Nature is strong, and it may all be borne—
The sick impatient yearning of the heart
For that which is not; and the weary sense
Of the dull void, wherewith our homes have been
Circled by death; yes, all things may be borne!
All, save remorse.—But I will not bow down
My spirit to that dark power:—there was no guilt!
Anselmo! wherefore didst thou talk of guilt?
Ans. Ay, thus doth sensitive conscience quicken thought,
Lending reproachful voices to a breeze,
Keen lightning to a look.
Vit. Leave me in peace!
Is't not enough that I should have a sense
Of things thou canst not see, all wild and dark,
And of unearthly whispers, haunting me
With dread suggestions, but that thy cold words,
Old man, should gall me too?—Must all conspire
Against me?—Oh! thou beautiful spirit! wont
To shine upon my dreams with looks of love,
Where art thou vanish'd?—Was it not the thought
Of thee which urged me to the fearful task,
And wilt thou now forsake me?—I must seek
The shadowy woods again, for there, perchance,
Still may thy voice be in my twilight-paths;
—Here I but meet despair! [Exit Vittoria.
Ans. (to Constance.) Despair not thou,
My daughter!—he that purifies the heart
With grief, will lend it strength.
Con. (endeavouring to rouse herself.) Did she not say
That some one was to die?
Ans. I tell thee not
Thy pangs are vain—for nature will have way.
Earth must have tears; yet in a heart like thine,
Faith may not yield its place.
Con. Have I not heard
Some fearful tale?—Who said, that there should rest
Blood on my soul?—What blood?—I never bore
Hatred, kind father, unto aught that breathes;
Raimond doth know it well.—Raimond!—High heaven,
It bursts upon me now!—and he must die!
For my sake—e'en for mine!
Ans. Her words were strange,
And her proud mind seem'd half to frenzy wrought—
—Perchance this may not be.
Con. It must not be.
Why do I linger here?(She rises to depart.
Ans. Where wouldst thou go?
Con. To give their stern and unrelenting hearts
A victim in his stead.
Ans. Stay! wouldst thou rush
On certain death?
Con. I may not falter now.
—Is not the life of woman all bound up
In her affections?—What hath she to do
In this bleak world alone?—It maybe well
For man on his triumphal course to move,
Uncumber'd by soft bonds; but we were born
For love and grief.
Ans. Thou fair and gentle thing,
Unused to meet a glance which doth not speak
Of tenderness or homage! how shouldst thou
Bear the hard aspect of unpitying men,
Or face the king of terrors?
Con. There is strength
Deep bedded in our hearts, of which we reck
But little, till the shafts of heaven have pierced
Its fragile dwelling.—Must not earth be rent
Before her gems are found?— Oh! now I feel
Worthy the generous love which hath not shunn'd
To look on death for me!—My heart hath given
Birth to as deep a courage, and a faith
As high in its devotion. [Exit Constance.
Ans. She is gone!
Is it to perish?—God of mercy! lend
Power to my voice, that so its prayer may save
This pure and lofty creature!—I will follow—
But her young footstep and heroic heart
Will bear her to destruction faster far
Than I can track her path. [Exit Anselmo.
Scene III.—Hall of a Public Building.
Procida, Montalba, Guido, and others, seated as on a
Procida. The morn lower'd darkly, but the sun hath now,
With fierce and angry splendour, thro' 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?
Pro. No, thou say'st well. Her eyes are filletted,
Or should be so. Thou, that dost call thyself—
—But no! I will not breathe a traitor's name—
Speak! thou art arraign'd 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 ta'en the stamp of crime, and seem to shrink,
With a perturb'd 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 thrill'd 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 mien
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!
Pro. Montalba, speak!
There's something chokes my voice—but fear me not.
Mon. 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 my free spirit's whiteness; for e'en now
Th' embodied hideousness of crime doth seem
Before me glaring out.—Why, I saw thee,
Thy foot upon an aged warrior's breast,
Trampling our 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
Deem'd him so noble once!—Away, weak thoughts!
Why should I shrink, as if the guilt were mine,
From his proud glance?
Pro. Oh, thou dissembler!—thou,
So skill'd to clothe with virtue's generous flush
The hollow cheek of cold hypocrisy,
That, with thy guilt made manifest, I can scarce
Believe thee guilty!—look on me, and say
Whose was the secret warning voice, that saved
De Couci with his bands, to join our foes,
And forge new fetters for th' indignant land?
Whose was this treachery? (Shows him papers.
Who hath promised here,
(Belike to appease the manès of the dead,)
At midnight to unfold Palermo's gates,
And welcome in the foe?—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
To prove the truth—that murderers may be traitors
Ev'n to each other.
Pro. (to Montalba.) His unaltering cheek
Still vividly doth hold its natural hue,
And his eye quails not;—Is this innocence?
Mon. No! 'tis th' unshrinking hardihood of crime.
—Thou bear'st a gallant mien!—But where is she
Whom thou hast barter'd fame and life to save,
The fair Provençal maid?—What! know'st thou not
That this alone were guilt, to death allied?
Was't not our law that he who spared a foe,
(And is she not of that detested race?)
Should thenceforth be amongst 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.
Pro. And by that word
Thy doom is seal'd.—Oh God! that I had died
Before this bitter hour, in the full strength
And glory of my heart!
(Constance enters, and rushes to Raimond.)
Constance, Oh! art thou found?
—But yet, to find thee thus!—Chains, chains for thee?
My brave, my noble love!—Off with these bonds;
Let him be free as air:—for I am come
To be your victim now.
Rai. Death has no pang
More keen than this.—Oh! wherefore art thou here?
I could have died so calmly, deeming thee
Saved, and at peace.
Con. At peace!—And thou hast thought
Thus poorly of my love!—But woman's breast
Hath strength to suffer too.—Thy father sits
On this tribunal; Raimond, which is he?
Rai. My.father!—who hath lull'd thy gentle heart
With that false hope?—Beloved! gaze around—
See, if thine eye can trace a father's soul
In the dark looks bent on us.
Con. (After earnestly examining the countenances of
the judges, falls at the feet of Procida.)
Thou art he!
Nay, turn thou not away!—for I beheld
Thy proud lip quiver, and a watery mist
Pass o'er thy troubled eye; and then I knew
Thou wert his father!—Spare him!—take my life!
In truth a worthless sacrifice for his,
But yet mine all.—Oh! he hath still to run
A long bright race of glory.
Rai. Constance, peace!
I look upon thee, and my failing heart
Is as a broken reed.
Con. (still addressing Procida.) Oh, yet relent!
If 'twas his crime to rescue me, behold
I come to be the atonement! Let him live
To crown thine age with honour.—In thy heart
There 's a deep conflict; but great nature pleads
With an o'ermastering voice, and thou wilt yield!
—Thou art his father!
Pro. (after a pause.) Maiden, thou 'rt deceived!
I am as calm as that dead pause of nature
Ere the full thunder bursts.—A judge is not
Father or friend. Who calls this man my son?
—My son!—Ay! thus his mother proudly smiled—
But she was noble!—Traitors stand alone,
Loosed from all ties.—Why should I trifle thus?
—Bear her away!
Rai. (starting forward.) And whither?
Mon. Unto death.
Why should she live when all her race have perish'd?
Con. (sinking into the arms of Raimond.)
Raimond, farewell!—Oh! when thy star hath risen
To its bright noon, forget not, best beloved,
I died for thee!
Rai. High heaven! thou seest these things;
And yet endur'st them!—Shalt thou die for me,
Purest and loveliest being?—but our fate
May not divide us long.—Her cheek is cold—
Her deep blue eyes are closed—Should this be death!
—If thus, there yet were mercy!—Father, father!
Is thy heart human?
Pro. Bear her hence, I say!
Why must my soul be torn?
(Anselmo enters, holding a Crucifix.)
Anselmo. Now, by this sign
Of heaven's prevailing love, ye shall not harm
One ringlet of her head.—How! is there not
Enough of blood upon your burthen'd souls?
Will not the visions of your midnight couch
Be wild and dark enough, but ye must heap
Crime upon crime?—Be ye content:—your dreams,
Your councils, and your banquettings, will yet
Be haunted by the voice which doth not sleep,
E'en tho' this maid be spared!—Constance, look up!
Thou shalt not die.
Rai. Oh! death e'en now hath veil'd
The light of her soft beauty.—Wake, my love;
Wake at my voice!
Pro. Anselmo, lead her hence,
And let her live, but never meet my sight.
—Begone!—My heart will burst.
Rai. One last embrace!
—Again life's rose is opening on her cheek;
Yet must we part.—So love is crush'd on earth!
But there are brighter worlds!—Farewell, farewell!
(He gives her to the care of Anselmo.
Con. (slowly recovering.) There was a voice which call'd me.—Am I not
A spirit freed from earth?—Have I not pass'd
The bitterness of death?
Ans. Oh, haste away!
Con. Yes! Raimond calls me.—He too is released
From his cold bondage.—We are free at last,
And all is well—Away! (She is led out by Anselmo.
Rai. The pang is o'er,
And I have but to die.
Mon. 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 mould
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?
Mon. Rouse up thy mighty heart.
Pro. Ay, thou say'st right. There yet are souls which tower
As landmarks to mankind.—Well, what's the task?
—There is a man to be condemn'd, you say?
Is he then guilty?
All. Thus we deem of him
With one accord.
Pro. And hath he nought to plead?
Rai. Nought but a soul unstain'd.
Pro. Why, that is little.
Stains on the soul are but as conscience deems them,
And conscience—may be sear'd.—But, for this sentence!
—Was 't not the penalty imposed on man,
E'en 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 th' 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.
Mon. Guards, bear the prisoner
Back to his dungeon.
Rai. Father! oh, lookup;
Thou art my father still!
Guido (leaving the Tribunal, throws himself on the neck
of Raimond.) Oh! Raimond, Raimond!
If it should be that I have wrong'd thee, say
Thou dost forgive me.
Rai. Friend of my young days,
So may all-pitying heaven! (Raimond is led out.
Pro. Whose voice was that?
Where is he?—gone?—now I may breathe once more
In the free air of heaven. Let us away.
END OF ACT THE FOURTH.