Page images
PDF
EPUB

To attend my husband for a limited number A high crime, which I neither can deny
Of hours.

Nor palliate, as parent or as Duke:
Doge. You had so.

Had he but borne a little little longer Mar. 'Tis revoked.

His Candiote exile, I had hopes--he has quench'd Doge. By whom? He must return.

[themMar. “The Ten "-When we had reach'd “the Mar.

To exile?
Bridge of Sighs,"

Doge.

I have said it. Which I prepared to pass with Foscari,

Mar. And can I not go with him ? The gloomy guardian of that passage first

Doge.

You well know Demurr'd: a messenger was sent back to

This prayer of yours was twice denied before “The Ten;" but as the court no longer sate, By the assembled “Ten,” and hardly now And no permission had been given in writing, Will be accorded to a third request, I was thrust back, with the assurance that Since aggravated errors, on the part Until that high tribunal re-assembled

Of your lord, render them still more austere. The dungeon walls must still divide us.

Mar. Austere? Atrocious! The old human fiends, Doge.

True, With one foot in the grave, with dim eyes, strange The form has been omitted in the haste

To tears save drops of dotage, with long while With which the court adjourn'd; and till it meets, And scanty hairs, and shaking hands, and heads ”T is dubious.

As palsied as their hearts are hard, they council, Mar. Till it meets ! and when it meets, Cabal, and put men's lives out, as if life They'll torlure him again; and he and I

Were no more than the feelings long extinguish'd Must purchase by renewal of the rack

In their accursed bosoms. The interview of husband and of wife,

Doge.

You know not-
The holiest lie beneath the heavens!-Oh God! Mar. I doI do—and so should you, methinks-
Dost thou see this?

That these are demons: could it be else that
Doge.
Child-child-

Men, who have been of women born and suckledMar. (abruptly.) Call me not "child !” Who have loved, or talk'd at least of love-have You soon will have no children-you deserve none

given You, who can talk thus calmly of a son

Their hands in sacred vows-have danced their babes In circumstances which would call forth tears

Upon their knees, perhaps have mourn'd above Of blood from Spartans! Though these did not weep

them
Their boys who died in battle, is it written In pain, in peril, or in death—who are,
That they beheld them perish piecemeal, nor Or were at least in seeming, human, could
Stretch'd forth a hand to save them ?

Do as they have done by yours, and you yourself, Doge.

You behold me: You, who abet them? I cannot weep-I would I could; but if

Doge.

I forgive this, for
Each white hair on this head were a young life, You know not what you say.
This ducal cap the diadem of earth,

Mar.

You know it well, This ducal ring with which I wed the waves And feel it nothing. A talisman to still them-I'd give all

Doge.

I have borne so much, For him.

That words have ceased to shake me. Mar. With less he surely might be saved.

Mar.

Oh, no doubt! Doge. That answer only shows you know not You have seen your son's blood flow, and your flesh Venice.

shook not: Alas! how should you ? she knows not herself, And, after that, what are a woman's words? (you. In all her mystery. Hear me—they who aim No more than woman's tears, that they should shake At Foscari aim no less at his father;

Doge. Woman, this clamorous grief of thine, I The sire's destruction would not save the son;

tell thee, They work by different means to the same end, Is no more in the balance weigh'd with that And that is -But they have not conquer'd yet. Which But I pity thee, my poor

Marina! Mar. But they have crush'd.

Mar. Pity my husband, or I cast it from me; Doge.

Nor crush'd as yet-I live. Pity thy son! Thou pity !- 't is a word Mar. And your son,-how long will he live? Strange to thy heart-how came it on thy lips ? Duge.

I trust, Doge. I must bear these reproaches, though they For all that yet is past, as many years

wrong me. And happier than his father. The rash boy, Couldst thou but readWith womanish impatience to return,

Mar.

'T is not upon thy brow, Hath ruin'd all by that detected letter:

Nor in thine eyes, nor in thine acts --where then

Should I behold ibis sympathy? or shall ?

Mar. I say he's innocent! And, were he not so, Doge 'pointing downwards). There!

Is our own blood and kin to shrink from us
Mar.

In the earth? In fatal moments ?
Doge.
To which I am tending: when Doge.

I shrank not from him :
It lies upon this heart, far lightlier, though But I have other duties than a father's;
Loaded with marble, than the thoughts which press The state would not dispense me from those duties;
Now, you will know me better.

[it Twice I demanded it, but was refused: Mar.

Are you, then, They must then be fulfill'd. (1)
Indeed, thus to be pitied ?
Dege.
Pitied! None

Enter an Attendant.
Shall ever use that base word, with which men
Cloke their soul's hoarded triumph, as a fit one

Atl.

A message from

« The Ten." To mingle with my name; that name shall be, As far as I have horne it, what it was

Doge. Who bears it? When I received it.

Att.

Noble Loredano. Mar.

But for the poor children Doge. He !--but admit him. [Exit Attendant. Of him thou canst not or thou wilt not save,

Mar.

Must I then retire? You were the last to bear it.

Doge. Perhaps it is not requisite, if this Doge.

Would it were so! Concerns your husband, and if not--Well, signor, Belter for him he never had been born;

Your pleasure! [TO LOREDANO entering. Better for me.--I have seen our house dishonour'd.

Lor.

I bear that of “the Ten." Mar. That's false! A truer, nobler, trustier heart, Doge.

They More loving, or more loyal, never beat

Have chosen well their envoy. Within a human breast. I would not change

Lor,

T is their choice My exiled, persecuted, mangled husband,

Which leads me here. Oppress'd but not disgraced, crush'd, overwhelmid, Doge.

It does their wisdom honour, Alive, or dead, for prince or paladin

And no less to their courtesy.- Proceed. In story or in fable, with a world

.Lor. We have decided. To back his suit. Dishonourd !-he dishonour'd! Doge.

We! I tell thee, Doge, 'l is Venice is dishonour'd;

Lor.

- The Ten” in council. His name shall be her foulest worst reproach, Doge. What! have they met again, and met without For what he suffers, not for what he did.

Apprising me? T is ye who are all traitors, tyrant !--ye!

Lor.

They wish'd to spare your feelings, Did you but love your country like this victim,

No less than age. Who tollers back in chains to tortures, and

Doge. That's new-when spared they either? Submits to all things rather than to exile,

I thank them, notwithstanding. You'd fling yourselves before him, and implore Lor.

You know well His grace for your enormous guilt.

That they have power to act at their discretion, Doge.

With or without the presence of the Doge. Indeed all you have said. I better bore

Doge, ’T is some years since I learn'd this, long The deaths of the two sons Heaven took from me,

before Than Jacopo's disgrace.

I became Doge, or dream'd of such advancement. Mar.

That word again! You need not school me, signor; 1 sate in Doge. Has he not been condemn'll?

That council when you were a young patrician. Mar.

Is none but quilt so ? Lor. True, in my father's time; I have heard him Doge. Time may restore his memory-I would The admiral, his brother, say as much. (and hope so.

Your highness may remember them ? they both He was my pride, my--But’t is useless now Died suddenly. I am not given to tears, but wept for joy

Doge. And if they did so, better When he was born : those drops were ominous. So die than live on lingeringly in pain.

He was

(1) “The interest of this play is founded upon feelings so pe- his unhappy fate, he should be implicated in his guilt-thouglı he culiar or overstrained, as to engage no sympathy; and the whole is supposed guiltless. He, the Doge, is afraid to stir hand or foot, story turns on incidents that are neither pleasing nor natural. to look or speak, while these inexplicable horrors are transacting, The younger Foscari undergoes the rack (wice (once in the on account of the hostility of one Loredano. who lords it in the bearing of the audience), merely because he has chosen to feign council of the Ten,' nobody knows why or how; and who al himsell a traitor, that he might be brought back from undeserved last • enmeshies’ both father and son in his toils, in spite of their banishment, and dies at last of pure dolage on this sentiment; passive obedience and non-resistance to his plans. They are while the elder Foscari subunits, in profound and immoveable silly flies for this spider to catch, and óseed fat his ancient grudge silence, to this treatment of his son, lest, by seeming to feel for upou.'” Jeffrey.

Lor. No doubt; yet most men like to live their A priest's for the high altar, even unlo
Doge. And did not they?

[days out. The sacrifice of my own blood and quiel, Lor.

The grave knows best : they died, Safety, and all save honour,--the decrees, As I said, suddenly.

The health, the pride, and welfare of the stale, Doge. Is that so strange,

And now, sir, to your business.

Lor. That you repeat the word emphatically?

'T is decrecid, Lor. So far from strange, that never was there That, without farther repelition of death

The Question, or continuance of the trial, In my mind half so natural as theirs.

Which only tends to show how stubborn guilt is Think you not so?

(“The Ten,” dispensing with the stricter law Doge.

What should I think of mortals? Which still prescribes the Question till a full Lor. That they have mortal foes.

Confession, and the prisoner partly having Doge.

I understand you; Avow'd his crime in not denying that Your sires were mine, and you are heir in all things. The letter to the Duke of Milan's bis), ior. You best know if I should be so.

James Foscari return to banishment, Duge.

I do. And sail in the same galley which convey'd him. Your fathers were my foes, and I have heard

Mar. Thank God! At least they will not drag bim Foul rumors were abroad; I have also read Before that horrible tribunal. Would he (more Their epitaph, altributing their deaths

But think so, to my mind the happiest doom, To poison. 'Tis perhaps as true as most

Not he alone, but all wlu dwell here, could Inscriptions upon tombs, and yet no less

Desire, were lo escapevom such a land. A fable.

Doge. That is not a Venetian thought, my daughter. Lor. Who dares say so?

Mar. No,'t was too hyman. May I share his exile? Doge.

I!-'Tis true

Lor. Of this “the T¢n” said nothing. Your fathers were mine enemies, as bilter

Mar.

So I thought As their son e'er can be, and I no less

That were too human, also. But it was not Was theirs; but I was openly their foe:

Inhibited ? I never work’d by plot in council, nor

Lor. It was not named. Cabal in commonwealth, nor secret means

Mar. (1o the Doge.)

Then father, Of practice against life by steel or drug.

Surely you can obtain or grant me thus much: The proof is, your existence. (1)

(To LOREDANO Lor.

I fear not.

And you, sir, nol oppose niy prayer to be Doge. You have no cause, being what I am; but Permitted to accompany my husband. were 1

Doge. I will endeavour. That you would have me thought, you long ere now

Mar.

And you, signor? Were past the sense of fear. Hate on; I care not.

Lor.

Lady! Lor. I never yet knew that a noble's life

'T is not for me to anticipate the pleasure In Venice had to dread a Doge's frowa

Of le tribunal. That is, by open means.

Mar.

Pleasure! what a word Doge.

But I, good signer, To use for the decrees ofAin, or at least was, more than a mere duke. Duge.

Daughter, know you In blood, in mind, in means; and that they know In what a presence you pronounce these things? Who dreaded to elect me, and have since

Mar. A prince's and his subject's. Striven all they dare to weigh me down; be sure,

Lor.

Subject! Before or since that period, had I held you

Mar.

Oh! At so much price as to repuire your absence, It galls you :-well, you are his equal, as A word of mine had set such spirits to work You think; but that you are not, nor would be, As would have made you nothing. But in all things Were he a peasant:-well, then, you 're a prince, I have observed the strictest reverence;

A princely noble; and what then am I? Not for the laws alone, for those you have strajnid Lor. The offspring of a noble house. (I do not speak of you but as a single

Mar.

And wedded Voice of the many) somewhat beyond what To one as noble. What, or whose, then, is I could enforce for my authority,

The presence that should silence my free thoughts? Were I disposed to brawl; but, as I said,

Lor. The presence of your husband's judges. I have observed with veneration, like

Doge.

And

The deference due even to the lightest word (1) In the MS.

That falls from those who rule in Venice. ". The proof is-that you live."-E.

Mar.

Keep

[ocr errors]

Those maxims for your mass of scared mechanics, All our advantages are those of fortune;
Your merchants, your Dalmatian and Greek slaves, Birth, wealth, health, beauty, are her accidents,
Your tributaries, your dumb citizens,

And when we cry out against Fate, 't were well And mask'd nobility, your sbirri, and

We should reinember Fortune can take nought Your spies, your galley and your other slaves, Save what she gave—the rest was nakedness, To whom your midnight carryings off and drownings, And lusts, and appetites, and vanities, Your dungeons next the palace roofs, or under The universal heritage, to battle The water's level; your mysterious meetings, With as we may, and least in humblest stations, And unknown dooms, and sudden executions, Where hunger swallows all in one low want, (2) Your "Bridge of Sighs," (1) your strangling-cham- And the original ordinance, that man ber and

Must sweat for his poor pittance, keeps all passions Your torturing-instruments, have made ye seem Aloof, save fear of famine! All is low, The beings of another, and worse world!

And false, and hollow-clay from first to last, Keep such for them: I fear ye not. I know ye; The prince's urn no less than potter's vessel. Have known and proved your worst, in the infernal Our fame is in men's breath, (3) our lives

upon Process of my poor husband ! Treat me as

Less than their breath ; our durance upon days, Ye treated him :-you did so, in so dealing Our days on seasons; our whole being on With him. Then what have I to fear from you, Something which is not us!-So, we are slaves, Even if I were of fearful nature, which

The greatest as the meanest-nothing rests
I trust I am not ?

Upon our will; the will itself no less
Doge.

You hear, she speaks wildly. Depends upon a straw than on a storm ; (4)
Mar. Not wisely, yet not wildly.

And when we think we lead, we are most led,
Lor.

Lady! words And still towards death, a thing which comes as Utterd wilhin these walls I bear no further

much Than to the threshold, saving such as pass

Without our act or choice as birth, so that Between the Duke and me on the state's service. Methinks we must have sinn'd in some old world, Doge! have you aught in answer?

And this is hell: the best is, that it is not Doge.

Something from Eternal. The Doge; it may be, also, from a parent.

Mar. These are things we cannot judge Lor. My mission here is to the Doge.

On earth. Doge.

Doge. And how then shall we judge each other, The Doge will choose his own ambassador, Who are all earth, and I, who am calld upon Or state in person what is mect; and for

To judge my son ? I have administer'd
The father--

My country faithfully-victoriously-
Lor. I remember mine.-Farewell! I dare them to the proof, the chart of what
I kiss the hands of the illustrious lady,

She was and is: my reign has doubled realms;
And bow me to the Duke. [Exit LOREDANO. And, in reward, the gratitude of Venice
Nar.

Are you content? Has left, or is about to leave, me single. Doge. I am what you behold.

Mar. And Foscari ? I do not think of such things, Mar.

And that's a mystery. So I be left with him. Doge. All things are so to mortals; who can rcad Doge.

You shall be so;

Thus much they cannot well deny. Save he who made? or, if they can, the few

Mar.

And if And gifted spirits, who have studied long

They should, I will fly with him. That loathsome volume-man, and pored upon

Doge.

That can ne'er be. Those black and bloody leaves, his heart and And whither would you fly? brain, (1)

Mar.

I know not, reck notBut learn a magic which recoils upon

To Syria, Egypt, to the OttomanThe adept who pursues it: all the sins

Any where, where we might respire unfelter'd, We find in others, nature made our own;

And live nor girt by spies, nor liable

Then say

them,

(1) In the MS.

« The blackest leaf, his heart, and blankest his brain."

(3) See Stanzas writton on the road between Florence and Pisa.

“ What's fame? a fapcied life in others' breath,

A thing beyond us, ev'n before our death." Pope.-E. (4) In the MS.

"the will itsell dependent Upon a storm, a straw, and both alike Leadirg to death."-E.

(3) In the MS.

'Where hunger swallows all-where ever was

The monarch who could bear a three days' fast."-E.

No;

To edicts of inquisitors of state.

To me it seems the worst barbarity. Doge. Whal, wouldst thou have a renegade for Let me seek out my husband : the sage “Ten," And turn him into traitor?

[husband, With all its jealousy, will hardly war
Mar.
He is none!

So far with a weak woman as deny me
The country is the traitress, which thrusts forth A moment's access to his dungeon.
Her best and bravest from her. Tyranny

Doge.

I'll
If far the worst of treasons. Dost thou deem So far take on myself, as order that
None rebels except subjects ? The prince who You may be admitted.
Neglects or violates his trust is more

Mar.

And what shall I say A brigand than the robber-chief.

To Foscari from his father?
Doge.

I cannot
Doge.

That he obey
Charge me with such a breach of faith.

The laws. Mar.

thou

Mar. And nothing more? Will you not see him Observest, obey'st, such laws as make old Draco's Ere he depart? It may be the last time. A code of mercy by comparison.

Doge. The last!--my boy!- the last time I shall Doge. I found the law; I did not make it. Were I My last of children! Tell him I will come. ser A subject still, I might find parts and portions

(Eseunt. Fit for amendment; but, as prince, I never Would change, for the sake of my house, the charter

ACT III.
Left by our fathers.
Mar.
Did they make it for

SCENE I.
The ruin of their children ?
Doge.
Under such laws, Venice

The Prison of Jacopo Foscari.
Has risen to what she is—a state to rival

Jac. Fos. (solus.) No light, save yon faint gleam, In deeds, and days, and sway, and, let me add,

which shows me walls In glory (for we have had Roman spirits

Which never echo'd but lo sorrow's sounds,
Amongst us), all that history has bequeath'd The sigh of long imprisonment, the step
Of Rome and Carthage in their best times, when Of feet on which the iron clank'd, the groan
The people sway'd by senates.

Of death, the imprecation of despair!
Mar.

And yet for this I have return'd to Venice. Groan'd under the stern oligarchs.

With some faint hope, 't is true, that time, which Doge.

Perhaps so;
But yet subdued the world : in such a state The marble down, had worn away the hate
An individual, be he richest of

Of men's hearts; but I knew them not, and here Such rank as is permitted, or the meanest,

Must I consume my own, which never beat Without a name, is alike nothing, when

For Venice but with such a yearning as The policy, irrevocably tending

The dove has for her distant nest, when wheeling To one great end, must be maintain'd in vigour. High in the air on her return to greet Mar. This means that you are more a Doge than Her callow brood. What letters are these which father.

(Approaching the wall. Doge. It means, I am more citizen than either. Are scrawlid along the inexorable wall?(1) If we had not for many centuries

Will the gleam let me trace them ? Ah! the names Had thousands of such citizens, and shall,

Of my sad predecessors in this place; I trust, have still such, Venice were no city. The dates of their despair, the brief words of

Mar. Accursed be the city where the laws A grief too great for many. This stone page
Would stifle nature's!

Holds, like an epitaph, their history;
Doge.
Had I as many sons

And the poor captive's tale is graven on
As I have years, I would have given them all, His dungeon barrier, like the lover's record
Not without feeling, but I would have given them Upon the bark of some tall tree, which bears
To the state's service, to fulfil her wishes

His own and his beloved's name. Alas!
On the flood, in the field, or, if it must be, I recognise some names familiar to me,
As it, alas ! has been, to ostracism,

And blighted like to mine, which I will add, Exile, or chains, or whatsoever worse

Fittest for such a chronicle as this, She might decree.

Which only can be read, as writ, by wretches. (2) Mar. And this is patriotism!

(He engraves his name.

Rather say,

Wears

(1) See antè, appendix to Canlo IV. of Childe Harold, for Hobhouse's account of the state Jungeons of Venice.-E.

(2) In the MS.

" Which never can be read but, as 't was written,

By wretched beings." - E.

« PreviousContinue »