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To me, Politian, of thy camps and courts.

Oh, I am sick, sick, sick, even unto death,

Of the hollow and high-sounding vanities

Of the populous Earth! Bear with me yet awhile.

We have been boys together—schoolfellows,

And now are friends, yet shall not be so long;

For in the Eternal City thou shalt do me

A kind and gentle office, and a Power—

A Power august, benignant, and supreme—

Shall then absolve thee of all further duties

Unto thy friend.

Hal. Thou speakest a fearful riddle

I will not understand.

Pol. Yet now as Fate

Approaches, and the Hours are breathing low,
The sands of Time are changed to golden grains,
And dazzle me, Baldazzar. Alas! alas!
I cannot die, having within my heart
So keen a relish for the beautiful
As hath been kindled within it. Methinks the air
Is balmier now than it was wont to be;
Rich melodies are floating in the winds,
A rarer loveliness bedecks the earth,
And with a holier lustre the quiet moon
Sitteth in heaven.—Hist! hist! thou canst not say
Thou hearest not now, Baldazzar?

Bal. Indeed, I hear not.

Pol. Not hear it! listen now—listen! the faintest sound,

And yet the sweetest, that ear ever heard!
A lady's voice !—and sorrow in the tone.
Baldazzar, it oppresses me like a spell!
Again! again! how solemnly it falls
Into my heart of hearts! that eloquent voice
Surely I never heard: yet it were well
Had I but heard it with its thrilling tones
In earlier days!

Bal. I myself hear it now.

Be still!—the voice, if I mistake not greatly,
Proceeds from yonder lattice, which you may see
Very plainly through the window. It belongs—
Does it not ?—unto this palace of the Duke:
The singer is undoubtedly beneath
The roof of his excellency, and perhaps
Is even that Alessandra of whom he spoke
As the betrothed of Castiglione,
His son and heir.

Pol. Be still!— it comes again!

Voidt (very faintly).

"And is thy heart so strong
As for to leave me thus,

Who' hath loved thee so long

In wealth and woe among?

And is thy heart so strong
As for to leave me thus?

Say nay—say nay!'

Bal. The song is English, and I oft have heard it
In merry England,—never so plaintively.
Hist! hist! it comes again!

Voice (more loudly).
"Is it so strong
As for to leave me thus,
Who hath loved thee so long
In wealth and woe among?
And is thy heart so strong
As for to leave me thus?

Say nay—say nay!"

Bal. Tis hushed, and all is still!

Pol. All is not still!

Bal. Let us go down.

Pol. Go down, Baldazzar,—go!

Bal. The hour is growing late—the Duke awaits
Thy presence is expected in the hall
Below. What ails thee, Earl Politian?

Voice (distinctly).
"Who hath loved thee so long,
In wealth and woe among,
And is thy heart so strong?

Say nay—say nay!"
Bal. Let us descend !—'tis time. Politian, give
These fancies to the wind. Remember, pray,

Your bearing lately savoured much of rudeness
Unto the Duke. Arouse thee, and remember 1

Pol. Remember? I do. Lead on! I do remember. [Going. Let us descend. Believe me, I would give,— Freely would give, the broad lands of my earldom To look upon the face hidden by yon lattice,— "To gaze upon that veiled face, and hear Once more that silent tongue."

Bal. Let me beg you, sir,

Descend with me; the Duke may be offended.
Let us go down, I pray you.

Voice (loudly).
"Say naysay nay .'"

Pol. (Aside.) 'Tis strange!—'tis very strange!
Methought the voice
Chimed in with my desires, and bade me stay!

[Approaching the window. Sweet voice, I heed thee, and will surely stay! Now be this Fancy, by Heaven! or be it Fate, Still will I not descend. Baldazzar, make Apology unto the Duke for me: I go not down to-night.

Bal. Your lordship's pleasure

Shall be attended to. Good night, Politian.

Pol. Good night, my friend, good night.

[graphic][merged small]

The gardens of a palace—Moonlight. Lalage and Politian.

Lalage. And dost thou speak of love
To me, Politian ?—dost thou speak of love
To Lalage ?—Ah, woe—ah, woe is me!
This mockery is most cruel — most cruel indeed!

Politian. Weep not! oh, sob not thus!—thy bitter tears Will madden me. Oh mourn not, Lalage —

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