Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

DEDICATION.

TO H. MARTIN, ESQ.

OF JESUS COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE. Dear Sir, Accept, as a small testimony of my grateful attachment, the following Dramatic Poem, in which I have endeavoured to detail, in an interesting form, the fall of a man, whose great bad actions have cast a disastrous lustre on his name. In the execution of the work, as intricacy of plot could not have been attempted without a gross violation of recent facts, it has been my sole aim to imitate the impassioned and highly figurative language of the French Orators, and to develop the characters of the chief actors on a vast stage of horrors. Yours fraternally,

S. T. COLERIDGE. Jesus COLLEGE, September 22, 1794.

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

ROBESPIERRE.
BARRERE.
TALLIEN.
LEGENDRE.
ROBESPIERRE JUNIOR.
Couthon.
St-Just.
BILLAUD VARENNES.
BOURDON L'OISE.
Collor D'HERBOIS.
Dubois CRANCÉ.
FRERON.
LECOINTRE.
MERLIN or Douoy.
DEPUTIES.
MESSENGERS.
CITIZENS.
ADELAIDE.

THE FALL OF ROBESPIERRE.

ACT I.

SCENE—The Tuilleries.

Bar. The tempest gathers—be it mine to seek A friendly shelter, ere it bursts upon him. But where? and how? I fear the tyrant's soulSudden in action, fertile in resource, And rising awful ʼmid impending ruins; In splendour gloomy, as the midnight meteor, That fearless thwarts the elemental war. When last in secret conference we met, He scowld upon me with suspicious rage, Making his eye the inmate of my bosom. I know be scorns me—and I feel, I hate himYet there is in him that which makes me tremble!

[Erit. Enter Tallien and Legendre. Tal. It was Barrere, Legendre! didst thou mark

him? Abrupt he turned, yet linger'd as he went, And towards us cast a look of doubtful meaning. Legen. I mark'd him well. I met his eye's last

glance; It menaced not so proudly as of yore.

Methought he would have spoke—but that he dared

notSuch agitation darken'd on his brow. Tal. 'Twas all-distrusting guilt that kept from

bursting
Th' imprison'd secret struggling in the face;
E'en as the sudden breeze upstarting onwards
Hurries the thunder-cloud, that poised awhile
Hung in mid air, red with its mutinous burthen.

Legen. Perfidious traitor!-still afraid to bask
In the full blaze of power, the rustling serpent
Lurks in the thicket of the tyrant's greatness,
Ever prepared to sting who shelters him.
Each thought, each action in himself converges;
And love and friendship on his coward heart
Shine like the powerless sun on polar ice:
To all attach’d, by turns deserting all,
Cunning and dark—a necessary villain!
Tal. Yet much depends upon him—well you

know
With plausible harangue 'tis his to paint
Defeat like victory—and blind the mob
With truth-mix'd falsehood. They, led on by him,
And wild of head to work their own destruction,
Support with uproar what he plans in darkness.

Legen. O what a precious name is Liberty
To scare or cheat the simple into slaves!
Yes—we must gain him over: by dark hints
We'll show enough to rouse his watchful fears,
Till the cold coward blaze a patriot.

But see

O Danton! murdered friend! assist my counsels
Hover around me on sad memory's wings,
And pour thy daring vengeance in my heart.
Tallien! if but to-morrow's fateful sun
Beholds the tyrant living—we are dead!
Tal. Yet his keen eye that flashes mighty mean-

ingsLegen. Fear not-or rather fear th' alternative, And seek for courage e'en in cowardice

-hither he comes—let us away! His brother with him, and the bloody Couthon, And high of haughty spirit, young St-Just.

[Exeunt. Enter Robespierre, Couthon, St-Just, and

Robespierre Junior. Robesp. What! did La Fayette fall before my

power? And did I conquer Roland's spotless virtues ? The fervent eloquence of Vergniaud's tongue ? And Brissot's thoughtful soul unbribed and bold ? Did zealot armies haste in vain to save them? What! did th' assassin's dagger aim its point Vain, as a dream of murder, at my bosom ? And shall I dread the soft luxurious Tallien ? Th’ Adonis Tallien ? banquet-hunting Tallien ? Him, whose heart flutters at the dice-box? him, Who ever on the harlots' downy pillow Resigns his head impure to feverish slumbers ! St-Just. I cannot fear him—yet we must not scorn

him.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »