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But see -hither he comes-let us away!
His brother with him, and the bloody Couthon,
And high of haughty spirit, young St. Just.
[Ereunt. Enter ROBESPIERRE, COUTHON, St. Just, and
Rob. 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 powt
Vain, as a dream of murder, at my bosomn ?
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 harlot's downy pillow
Resigns his head impure to feverish slumbers !
St. Just. I cannot fear him—yet we must not scoru
Was it not Antony that conquer'd Brutus,
Th’ Adonis, banquet-hunting Antony ?
The state is not yet purified: and though
The stream runs clear, yet at the bottom lies
The thick black sediment of all the factions
It needs no magic hand to stir it up!
Cou. O we did wrong to spare them-fatal error !
Why lived Legendre, when that Danton died ?
And Collot d'Herbois dangerous in crimes ?
I've feard him, since his iron heart endured
To make of Lyons one vast human shambles,
Compared with which the sun-scorch'd wilderness
Of Zara were a smiling paradise.
St. Just. Rightly thou judgest, Couthou ! He is one, Who flies from silent solitary anguish,
Seeking forgetful peace amid the jar
Of elements. The howl of maniac uproar
Lulls to sad sleep the memory of himself.
A calm is fatal to him—then he feels
The dire upboilings of the storm within him.
A tiger mad with inward wounds.I dread
The fierce and restless turbulence of guilt.
Rob. Is not the commune ours? The stern tribunal?
Dumas ? and Vivier ? Fleuriot? and Louvet?
And Henriot ? We'll denounce a hundred, nor
Shall they behold to-morrow's sun roll westward.
Rob. jun. Nay-I am sick of blood; my aching
Reviews the long, long train of hideous horrors
That still have gloom'd the rise of the republic.
I should have died before Toulon, when war
Became the patriot!
Most unworthy wish!
He, whose heart sickens at the blood of traitors,
Would be himself a traitor, where he not
A coward ! 'Tis congenial souls alone
Shed tears of sorrow for each other's fate.
O thou art brave, my brother! and thine eye
Full firmly shines amid the groaning battle-
Yet in thine heart the woman-form of pity
Asserts too large a share, an ill-timed guest !
There is unsoundness in the state-To-morrow
Shall see it cleansed by wholesome massacre !
Rob. jun. Beware! already do the sections mur-
“O the great glorious patriot, Robespierre-
The tyrant guardian of the country's freedom !"
Cou. 'T were folly sure to work great deeds by halves
Much I suspect the darksome fickle heart
Of cold Barrere !
I see the villain in him !
Rob. jun. If he—if all forsake thee—what remains ?
Rob. Myself! the steel-strong Rectitude of soul
And Poverty sublime ʼmid circling virtues !
The giant Victories, my counsels form’d,
Shall stalk around me with sun-glittering plumes,
Bidding the darts of calumny fall pointless.
[Exeunt cæteri. Manet Couthon. Cou. (solus). So we deceive ourselves! What goodly
virtues Bloom on the poisonous branches of ambition ! Still, Robespierre ! thou'lt guard thy country's freedom To despotize in all the patriot's pomp. While Conscience, 'mid the mob's applauding clamours, Sleeps in thine ear, nor whispers—blood-stain'd tyrant! Yet what is Conscience ? Superstition's dream, Making such deep impression on our sleepThat long th' awaken'd breast retains its horrors ! But he returns--and with him' comes Barrere.
Enter ROBESPIERRE and BARRERE.
Rob. There is no danger but in cowardice.-
Barrere! we make the danger, when we fear it.
We have such force without, as will suspend
The cold and trembling treachery of these members.
Bar. ”T will be a pause of terror.–
But to whom ?
Rather the short-lived slumber of the tempest,
Gathering its strength anew. The dastard traitors!
Moles, that would undermine the rooted oak !
A pause !-a moment's pause !—'Tis all their life.
Bar. Yet much they talk—and plausible their speech. Couthon's decree las given such powers, thatRob.
That what? Bar. The freedom of debate
Transparent mask !
They wish to clog the wheels of government,
Forcing the hand that guides the vast machine
To bribe them to their duty-English patriots !
Are not the congregated clouds of war
Black all around us? In our very vitals
Works not the king-bred poison of rebellion ?
Say, what shall counteract the selfish plottings
Of wretches, cold of heart, nor awed by fears
Of hin, whose power directs th' eternal justice ?
Terror? or secret-sapping gold ? The first
Heavy, but transient as the ills that cause it;
And to the virtuous patriot render'd light
By the necessities that gave it birth :
The other fouls the font of the republic,
Making it flow polluted to all ages;
Inoculates the state with a slow venom,
That, once imbibed, must be continued ever.
Myself incorruptible, I ne'er could bribe them-
Therefore they liate me.
Are the sections friendly? Rob. There are who wish my ruin—but I'll make
them Blush for the crime in blood ! Bar.
Nay, but I tell thee, Thou art too fond of slaughter--and the right (If right it be) workest by most foul means ! Rob. Self-centering Fear! how well thou canst
ape Mercy! Too fond of slaughter! matchless hypocrite ! Thought Barrere so, when Brissot, Danton died ? Thought Barrere so, when through the streaming
streets Of Paris red-eyed Massacre o'er-wearied Reeld heavily, intoxicate with blood ?
And when (O heavens !) in Lyons' death-red square
Sick Fancy groan'd o'er putrid hills of slain,
Didst thou not fiercely laugh, and bless the day?
Why, thou hast been the mouth-piece of all horrors,
And, like a blood-hound, crouch'd for murder! Now
Aloof thou standest from the tottering pillar,
Or, like a frighted child behind its mother,
Hidest thy pale face in the skirts of—Mercy!
Bar. O prodigality of eloquent anger!
Why now I see thou’rt weak—thy case is desperate !
The cool ferocious Robespierre turned scolder !
Rob. Who from a bad man's bosom wards the blow
Reserves the wetted dagger for his own.
Denounced twice—and twice I saved his life! [Exit.
Bar. The sections will support them—there's the
No! he can never weather out the storm-
Yet he is sudden in revenge-No more !
I must away to Tallien.
SCENE.—Changes to the house of ADELAIDE.
ADELAIDE enters, speaking to a SERVANT. Ade. Didst thou present the letter that I gave thee? Did Tallien answer, he would soon return ?
Ser. He is in the Tuilleries--with him LegendreIn deep discourse they seem’d; as I approach'd, He waved his hand as bidding me retire: I did not interrupt him. [Returns the letter. Ade.
Thou didst rightly.
[Exit SERVANT. O this new freedom! at how dear a price We've bought the seeming good! The peaceful virtues, And every blandishment of private life, The father's cares, the mother's fond endearment, All sacrificed to Liberty's wild riot.