« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Van. Who shall confine it?
The Romans ?-let them rule their slaves; I blush,
That dazzled in my youth by ostentation,
The trappings of the men seduced my virtue !
Val. Blush rather that you are a slave to passion ;
Subservient to the wildness of your will;
Which, like a whirlwind, tears up all your virtues,
And gives you not the leisure to consider.
Did not the Romans civilize you?
Van. No. They brought new customs and new vices over,
Taught us more arts than honest men require,
And gave us wants that nature never knew.
Val. We found you naked.
Van. And you found us free.
Val. Would you be temperate once, and hear me out.
. Van. Speak things that honest men may hear with temper,
Speak the plain truth and varnish not your crimes.
Say that you once were virtuous—long ago
A frugal hardy people, like the Britons,
Before you grew thus elegant in vice,
And gave your luxuries the name of virtues.
The civilizers !—the disturbers, say;
The robbers, the corruptors of mankind;
Proud vagabonds !--who make the world your home,
And lord it where you have no right:
What virtue have you taught ?
Van. Oh, patience!
Val. Can you disown a truth confessed by all ?
A praise, a glory known in barbarous climes ?
Far as our legions march they carry knowledge,
The arts, the laws, the discipline of life.
Our conquests are indulgencies, and we
Not masters, but protectors of mankind.
Van. Prevaricating, false-most courteous tyrants ;
Romans ! rare patterns of humanity !
Come you then here, thus far through waves to conquer,
To waste, to plunder, out of mere compassion ?
Is it humanity that prompts you on
To ravage the whole earth, to burn, destroy ?
To raise the cry of widows and of orphans ?
To lead in bonds the generous free-born princes,
Who spurn, who fight against your tyranny ?
Happy for us, and happy for you spoilers,
Had your humanity ne'er reached our world
It is a virtue-(so it seems you called it,)
A Roman virtue that cost you dear :
And dearer shall it cost if Vanoc lives,
Or if we die we shall leave those behind us
Who know the worth of British liberty.
Val. I mean not to reproach your ancestors ;
Untaught, uncultivated as they were ;
Inhospitable, fiery, and ferocious;
Lions in spirit, cruel beyond men ;
Your altars reeking oft with human blood.
Van. Hence, insulter ; nor tempt me into rage ;
This roof protects thy rashness; but begone.
I cannot answer for my indignation.
(Gustavus disguised as a peasant.). Gustavus. Ye men of Sweden, wherefore are ye come? See ye not yonder, how the locusts swarm, To drink the fountains of your honor up, And leave your hills a desert !-Wretched men! Why came ye forth? Is this a time for sport ? Or are ye met with song and jovial feast, To welcome your new guests, your Danish visitants ? To stretch your supple necks beneath their feet, And fawning lick the dust ?-Go, go my countrymen, Each to your several mansions, trim them out, Cull all the tedious earnings of your toil, To purchase bondage.-0h, Swedes! Swedes ! Heavens ! are ye men, and will ye suffer this ? There was a time, my friends, a glorious time! When had a single man of your
Upon the frontiers met a host in arms,
courage scarce had turned; himself had stood,
Alone had stood, the bulwark of his country.
Come, come on then. Here I take my stand!
Here on the brink, the very verge of liberty;
Although contention rise upon the clouds,
Mix heaven with earth, and roll the ruin onward,
Here will I fix, and breast me to the shock,
Till I or Denmark fall.
Sivard. And who art thou, That thus would swallow all the glory up That should redeem the times ? Behold this breast, The sword has tilled it; and the stripes of slaves Shall ne'er trace honor here; shall never blot The fair inscription.--Never shall the cords Of Danish insolence bind down these arms, That bore my royal master from the field. Gust. Ha! Say you, brother ? Were you there—Oh,
Where liberty and Stenon fell together?
Siv. Yes, I was there.--A bloody field it was,
Where conquest gasped, and wanted breath to tell
Its o'er-toiled triumph. There our bleeding king,
There Stenon on this bosom made his bed,
And, rolling back his dying eyes upon me,
Soldier, he cried, if e'er it be thy lot
To see my gallant cousin, great Gustavus,
Tell him--for once, that I have fought like him,
And would like him have
Gust. Oh, Danes ! Danes !
You shall weep blood for this. Shall they not, brother?
Yes, we will deal our might with thrifty vengeance,
A life for every blow, and, when we fall,
There shall be weight in't; like the tottering towers,
That draw contiguous ruin.
Siv. Brave, brave man!
My soul admires thee. By my father's spirit,
I would not barter such a death as this
For immortality! Nor we alone-
Here be the trusty gleanings of that field,
Where last we fought for freedom; here's rich poverty,
Though wrapped in rags—my fifty brave companions ;
Who through the force of fifteen thousand foes
Bore off their king, and saved his great remains.
Gust. Why, captain,
We could but die alone, with these we'll conquer.
My fellow-laborers too—What say ye, friends ?
Shall we not strike for it?
Siv. Death! Victory or death!
All. No bonds! no bonds !
Arnoldus. Spoke like yourselves.—Ye men of Dalecarlia,
Brave men and bold! whom every future age
Shall mark for wondrous deeds, achievements won
From honor's dangerous summit, warriors all !
Say, might ye choose a chief
Speak, name the man,
Who then should meet your wish ?
Siv. Forbear the theme.
Why wouldst thou seek to sink us with the weight
Of grievous recollection ! Oh, Gustavus !
Could the dead awake, thou wert the man.
Gust. Didst thou know Gustavus ?
Siv. Know him! Oh, heaven! what else, who else was
The knowledge of a soldier? That great day,
When Christiern, in his third attempt on Sweden,
Had summed his powers, and weighed the scale of fight,
On the bold brink, the very push of conquest,
Gustavus rushed, and bore the battle down;
In his full sway of prowess, like leviathan
That scoops his foaming progress on the main
And drives the shoals along-forward I sprung,
All emulous, and laboring to attend him;
Fear fled before, behind him rout grew loud,
And distant wonder gazed. At length he turned,
And having eyed me with a wondrous look
Of sweetness mixed with glory_grace inestimable !
He plucked this bracelet from his conquering arm,
And bound it here. My wrist seemed trebly nerved ;
My heart spoke to him, and I did such deeds
As best might thank him. But from that blessed day
I never saw him more—yet still to this,
I bow, as to the relics of my saint:
Each morn I drop a tear on every bead,
Count all the glories of Gustavus o'er,
And think I still behold him.
Gust. Rightly thought,
For so thou dost, my soldier,
Behold your general,
Gustavus ! Come once more to lead you on
To laureled victory, to fame, to freedom!
Siv. Strike me, ye powers ! It is illusion all!
It cannot-It is, it is ! \(Falls and embraces his knees.)
Gust. Oh, speechless eloquence !
Rise to my arms, my friend.
Siv. Friend! say you, friend?
Oh, my heart's lord! my conqueror! my
Gust. Approach, my fellow-soldiers, your Gustavus
Claims no precedence here.
Haste brave men!
Collect your friends, to join us on the instant;
Summon our brethren to their share of conquest,
And let loud echo, from her circling hills,
Sound freedom, till the undulation shake
"The bounds of utmost Sweden.
Durazzo. Now Perez, give your happy master joy,
And change the title of your reverence
To suit his new condition. I am come,
Ennobled by the king, to mate with greatness.
Perez. Thank heaven, I live to call you lord; therefore, My lord, I give you joy.
Dur. Proclaim it far,
That those who mocked my humble state may gnaw
Their lips with envy. 'Tis not that I prize
The empty title for its empty sake;
'Tis but a phrase ; yet, as the world is caught
With syllables, the phrase hath value i'nt,
And I would give it swelling currency
Throughout the realm.
Per. It shall not lack my voice.
Dur. I met a noble as I came, who thought
To look me out of favor with myself,
As he was wont to do. My soul was nigh
To burst its mortal bound as I rebuked him.
Per. But yonder look, where comes
Don Garcia through the vestibule.
Dur. Depart. (Exit Perez.)
And let us be alone. What! would he break
On my retirement rudely thus uncalled
No leave obtained—no question asked; but in,
As if I kept a tavern for his highness?
Gar. How, my lord ?