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R. Kiu. Manifest treason! Even this brief delay Half makes me an accomplice- (If he live,)
[Is moving toward the palace. If he but live and know me, all mayC. Rag.
[Stops him. On pain of death, my lord! am I commanded To stop all ingress to the palace. R. Kiu.
Thou! C. Rag. No place, no name, no rank excepted— R. Kiu.
C. Rag. This life of mine, O take it, Lord Kiuprili!
I give it as a weapon to thy hands,
Mine own no longer. Guardian of Illyria,
Useless to thee, 'tis worthless to myself.
Thou art the framer of my nobler being ;
Nor does there live one virtue in my soul,
One honourable hope, but calls thee father.
Yet ere thou dost resolve, know that yon palace
Is guarded from within, that each access
Is thronged by armed conspirators, watched by
Pampered with gifts, and hot upon the spoil
Which that false promiser still trails before them.
I ask but this one boon-reserve my life
Till I can lose it for the realm and thee!
R. Kiu. My heart is rent asunder. O my country,
O fallen Illyria, stand I here spell-bound ?
Did my king love me? Did I earn his love?
Have we embraced as brothers would embrace ?
Was I his arm, his thunderbolt ? And now
Must I, hag-ridden, pant as in a dream ?
Or like an eagle, whose strong wings press up
Against a coiling serpent's folds, can I
Strike but for mockery, and with restless beak
Gore my own breast ?—Ragozzi, thou art faithful ?
C. Rag. Here before heaven I dedicate my faith
To the royal line of Andreas.
Hark, Ragozzi! Guilt is a timorous thing ere perpetration : Despair alone makes wicked men be bold. Come thou with me! They have heard my voice in
flight, Have faced round, terror-struck, and feared no longer The whistling javelins of their fell pursuers. Ha! what is this?
[Black flag displayed from the tower of the
palace: a death bell tolls, &c. Vengeance of heaven! he is dead. C. Rag. At length then 'tis announced. Alas!
I fear, That these black death-flags are but treason's signals. R. Kiu. A prophecy too soon fulfilled ! See
yonder! O rank and ravenous wolves! the death-bell echoes Still in the doleful air—and see! they come.
C. Rag. Precise and faithful in their villany
Even to the moment, that the master traitor
Had pre-ordained them.
Was it over haste,
Or is it scorn, that in this race of treason
Their guilt thus drops its mask, and blazons forth
Their infamous plot even to an idiot's sense.
C. Rag. Doubtless they deem heaven too usurp'd!
[heaven's justice Bought like themselves!
Being equal all in crime,
Do you press on, ye spotted parricides
For the one sole pre-eminence yet doubtful !
The prize of foremost impudence in guilt ?
R. Kiu. The bad man's cunning still prepares
For its own outwitting. I applaud, Ragozzi!
Ragozzi I applaud, In thee, the virtuous hope that dares look onward And keeps the life-spark warm of future action Beneath the cloak of patient sufferance. Act and appear, as time and prudence prompt thee: I shall not misconceive the part thou playest. Mine is an easier part—to brave the usurper.
[Enter a procession of Emerick's adherents, nobles,
chieftains, and soldiers, with music. They advance toward the front of the stage. Kiuprili makes the signal for them to stop.—The music
Leader of the Procession. The Lord Kiuprili!
Welcome from the camp. R. Kiu. Grave magistrates and chieftains of Illyria, In good time come ye hither, if ye come As loyal men with honourable purpose To mourn what can alone be mourned; but chiefly
To enforce the last commands of royal Andreas
And shield the queen, Zapolya: haply making
The mother's joy light up the widow's tears.
purpose demands speed. Grace
our procession ;
A warrior best will greet a warlike king.
R. Kiu. This patent written by your lawful king,
(Lo! his own seal and signature attesting)
Appoints as guardians of his realm and offspring,
The queen, and the prince Emerick, and myself.
[Voices of Live king Emerick ! an Emerick ! an
What means this clamour ? Are these madmen's
Or is some knot of riotous slanderers leagued
To infamize the name of the king's brother
With a lie black as hell ? unmanly cruelty,
Ingratitude, and most unnatural treason ?
What mean these murmurs ? Dare then any here
Proclaim pripce Emerick a spotted traitor ?
One that has taken from you your sworn faith,
And given you in return a Judas' bribe,
Infamy now, oppression in reversion,
And heaven's inevitable curse hereafter ?
[Loud murmurs, followed by cries—Emerick! No
baby Prince! No changelings !
Yet bear with me awhile! Have I for this
Bled for your safety, conquered for your honour !
Was it for this, Illyrians ? that I forded
Your thaw-swoln torrents, when the shouldering ice
Fought with the foe, and stained its jagged points
With gore from wounds, I felt not ? Did the blast
Beat on this body, frost-and-famine-numbed,
Till my hard flesh distinguished not itself
From the insensate mail, its fellow warrior ?
And have I brought home with me Victory,
And with her, hand in hand, firm-footed Peace,
Her countenance twice lighted up with glory,
As if I had charmed a goddess down from heaven?
But these will flee abhorrent from the throne
Of usurpation !
[Murmurs increase—and cries of onward! onward!
Have you then thrown off shame,
And shall not a dear friend, a loyal subject,
Throw off all fear? I tell ye, the fair trophies
Valiantly wrested from a valiant foe,
Love's natural offerings to a rightful king,
Will hang as ill on this usurping traitor,
This brother-blight, this Emerick, as robes
Of gold plucked from the images of gods
Upon a sacrilegious robber's back.
Enter Lord Casimir.
Cas. Who is this factious insolent, that dares brand
The elected king, our chosen Emerick ?
R. Kiu. Casimir! He, he a traitor !
Too soon, indeed, Ragozzi ! have I learnt it.
[aside. Cas. My father and my lord! R. Kiu.
I know thee not!