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The form of the following dramatic poem is in humble imitation of the Winter's Tale of Shakspeare, except that I have called the first part a Prelude instead of a first Act, as a somewhat nearer resemblance to the plan of the ancients, of which one specimen is left us in the Æschylean Triology of the Agamemnon, the Orestes, and the Eumenides. Though a matter of form merely, yet two plays, on different periods of the same tale, might seem less bold, than an interval of twenty years between a first and second act. This is, however, in mere obedience to custom. The effect does not, in reality, at all depend on the time of the interval; but on a very different principle. There are cases in which an interval of twenty hours between the acts would have a worse effect (i. e. render the imagination less disposed to take the position required) than twenty years in other cases. For the rest, I shall be well content if my readers will take it up, read and judge it as a Christmas tale.
EMERICK, Usurping King of Illyria.
SCENE I.-Front of the Palace with a magnificent
colonnade. On one side a military guard-house. Sentries pacing backward and forward before the Palace.
Chef Ragozzi, at the door of the guard-house, as look
ing forwards at some object in the distance.
C. Rag. My eyes deceive me not, it must be he, Who but our chief, my more than father, who But Raab Kiuprili moves with such a gait ? Lo! e'en this eager and unwonted haste But agitates, not quells, its majesty. My patron, my commander! yes, 'tis he! Call out the guards. The Lord Kiuprili comes.
[Drums beat, &c. the guard turns out.
Enter Raab Kiuprili. R. Kiu. (making a signal to stop the drums, &c.) Silence! enough!
This is no time, young friend! For ceremonious dues. The summoning drum, The air-shattering trumpet, and the horseman's clatter, Are insults to a dying sovereign's ear. Soldiers, 'tis well! retire! your general greets you, His loyal fellow-warriors.
[Guards retire. C. Rag.
Pardon my surprise.
Tell me first,
friends (And none but they approach him) scoff at hope.
R. Kiu. Ragozzi! I have reared thee from a child, And as a child I have reared thee. Whence this air Of mystery ? That face was wont to open Clear as the morning to me, showing all things. Hide nothing from me.
C. Rag. O most loved, most honoured, The mystery, that struggles in my looks, Betrayed my whole tale to thee, if told thee That I am ignorant; but fear the worst. And mystery is contagious. All things here Are full of motion: and yet all is silent : And bad men's hopes infect the good with fears. R. Kiu. I have trembling proof within, how true
thou speakest. C. Rag. That the prince Emerick feasts the soldiery, Gives splendid arms, pays the commanders' debts, And (it is whispered) by sworn promises Makes himself debtor-hearing this, thou hast heard All But what my lord will learn too soon himself.
R. Kiu. Ha! well then, let it come! Worse
scarce can come.
This letter, written by the trembling hand
C. Rag. Remember you, my lord ! that Hebrew Whose face so much distemper'd you? [leech, R. Kiu.
To him, in chief,
(cunning, C. Rag. With pomp of words beyond a soldier's And shrugs and wrinkled brow, he smiles and
R. Kiu. The venomous snake! My heel was on And (fool !) I did not crush it!
[its head, C. Rag.
Nay, he fears, Zapolya will not long survive her husband.