Fazio, a young, ardent scholar, deeply imbued with a belief in the possibility of transmuting base metals into gold, devotes his time to study amid his retorts aud alembics. One evening an old miser, Fazio's neighbor, is set upon by robbers, stabbed and falls dying at the alchemist's door. Fazio carries him into his house, where he dies. Then th · poor scholar is tempted to bury the miser's body in his garden, and enrich hiniself by the almost boundle-s wealth of the dead man. Giving out that he had discovered the secret of making gold, he runs a career of reckless extravagance. One Aldabella, a beautiful but profligate woman, lures him from Bianca's arms. His wife, actuated by frantic jealousy, denounces him as the robber of the miser. Fazio is arrested, and doomed to die. Then the heart-broken wife relents, and would save her erring husband at all risks. Her efforts are futile.

The scenes which follow take place in the interim between the alchemist's condemnation and execution.

COSTUMES. - Fazio, a close fitting dress of dark brown or black cloth or velvet. Bianca, a handsome court dress of any rich material, but worn in a disordered manner.?

SCENE-A Prison.

FAZIO and BIANCA discovered.

FAZ. (L. C.). Let's talk of joy, Bianca; we'lldeceive
This present and this future, whose grim faces
Stare at us with such deep and hideous blackness:
We'll fly to the past. Dost thou remember, love,
Those gentle moonlights, when my fond guitar
Was regular, as convent vesper hymn,
Beneath thy lattice, sometimes the light dawn
Came stealing on our voiceless intercourse,
Soft in its grey and filmy atmosphere ?

BIAN, (C.). Oh yes, oh yes !—There'll be adawn to-morrow Will steal upon us. Then, oh then

Faz. Oh, think not on't !-
And thou remember'st too that beauteous evening
Upon the Arno; how we sail'd along,
And laugh'd to see the stately towers of Florence
Waver and dance in the blue depth beneath us.
How carelessly thy unretiring hand
Abandon'd its soft whiteness to my pressure?

BIAN. Oh yes ! To-morrow evening, if thou close
Thy clasping hand, mine will not meet it then-
Thou'lt only grasp the chill and senseless earth.

FAZ. Thou busy, sad remembrancer ot eyil ! How exquisitely happy have we two

Sate in the dusky and discolored light,
That flicker't throught our shaking lattice bars !
Our children at our feet, or on our laps,
Warm in their breathing slumbers, or at play
With rosy laughter on their cheeks !-Oh God!-
Bianca, such a flash of thought crossd o'er me.
I dare not speak it.

BIAN. Quick, my Fazio !
Quick, let me have't-to-morrow thou'lt not speak it.

Faz. Oh, what a life must theirs be, those poor innocents!
When they have grown up to a sense of sorrow-
Oh, what a feast will there be for rude misery !
Honest men's boys and girls, whene'er they mingle.
Will spurn them with the black and branded title,

6 The murderer's children :" Infamy will pin That pestilent label on their backs: the plague-spot Will bloat and blister on them till their death-beds ; And if they beg-for beggars they must beThey'll drive them from their doors with cruel jeers Upon my riches, villainously style them “ The children of Lord Fazio, the philosopher.”

BIAN. To-morrow will the cry begin,-to-morrorIt must not be, and I sit idle here ! Fazio, there must be in this wide, wide city, Piercing and penetrating eyes for truth, Souls not too proud, too cold, too stern for mercy. I'll hunt them out, and swear them to our service. I'll raise up something-oh, I know not whatShall boldly startle the rank air of Florence With proclamation of thy innocence. I'll raise the dead! I'll conjure up the ghost Of that old rotten thing, Bartolo; make it Cry out i' the market place, “Thou didst not slay him !" Farewell, farewell! If in the walls of Florence Be anything like hope or comfort, Fazio, I'll clasp it with such strong and steadfast arms, I'll drag it to thy dungeon,

and make laugh This silence with strange uncouth sounds of joy.

[blocks in formation]

Enter BIANCA, L.,
BIAN. (C.) Ah, what a fierce an frantic coil is here,
Because the sun must shine on one man less !

I'm sick and weary—my feet drag along.
Why must I trail, like a scotch'd serpent, hither?
Here to this house, where all things breathe of Fazio ?
The air tastes of him—the walls whisper of him.
Oh, I'll to bed! to bed !-What find I there?
Fazio, my fond, my gentle, fervent Fazio ?
No! -Cold stones are his couch, harsh iron bars
Curtain his slumbers-oh, no, no,-I have it-
He is in Aldabella's arms.Out on't!
Fie, fie! that's rank, that's noisome !-I remember-
Our children-ay, my children-Fazio's children.
'Twas my thoughts' burthen as I came along.
Were it not wise to bear them off with us
Away from this cold world!—Why should we breed up
More sinners for the Devil to prey upon ?
There's one a boy-some strumpet will enlace him,
And make him wear her loathsome livery.
The other a girl; if she be ill, she'll sink
Spotted to death-she'll be an Aldabella :
If she be chaste, she'll be a wretch like me,
A ous wretch, a frantic guilty wretch.-
No, no; they must not live, they must not live!

[ocr errors]

Enter into a back chamber, L. D. F. After a pause she returns.

It will not be, it will not be-they woke
As though e'en in their sleep they felt my presence,
And then they smiled upon me fondly, playfully,
And stretch'd their rosy fingers to sport with me:
The boy did arch his eyebrows so like Fazio,
Though my soul wish'd that God would take them to him
That they were 'scaped this miserable world,
I could but kiss them; and when I had kissed them,
I could as soon have leap'd up to the moon,
As speck'd or soild their alabaster skins.
Wild that I am !--Take them to another world-
As though I, I, my husband's murderess,
In the dread separation of the dead,
Should meet again those spotless innocents!
Oh, happy they !-they will but know to-morrow
By the renewal of the soft warm daylight. [Exit, R.

[merged small][ocr errors]

BYRON. (This impassioned lyric is one of the most fiery, fervent and heroio that even the soul of Byron has ever breathed forth.

It is not possible to throw into it too much glowing eloquence, as the speaker recals the days when the antique heroes drew their shining blades for Freedom: Occasionally the voice lowers into sadness when contrasting the present with the past of the country of Leonidas and Plato )

THE isles of Greece! the isles of Greece!

Where burning Sappho lov'd and sung,
Where grew the arts of war and peace,

Where Delos rose and Phoebus sprung!
Eternal summer gilds them yet,
But all, except their sun, is set.

The Scian and the Teian muse,

The hero's harp, the lover's lute,
Have found the fame your shores refuse :

Their place of birth, alone, is mute
To sounds that echo further west
Than your sires' “ Islands of the blest."
The mountains look on Marathon,

And Marathon looks on the sea :
And musing there an hour alone,

I dream'd that Greece might still be free;
For, standing on the Persian's grave,
I could not deem myself a slave.

A king sat on the rocky brow

That looks o'er sea-born Salamis;
And ships by thousands lay below,

And men in nations ;-all were his !
He counted them at break of day,
And when the sun set where were they ?

And where are they? and where art thou,

My country? On thy voiceless shore
The heroic lay is tuneless now-

The heroic bosom beats no more!
And must thy lyre, so long divine,
Degenerate into hands like mine ?
'Tis something in the dearth of fame,

Though link'd among a fetter'd race,

To feel at least a patriot's shame,

Even as I sing, suffuse my face,
For, what is left the poet here?
For Greeks a blush-for Greece a tear.

Must we but weep o'er days more bless'd ?

Must we but blush ? Our fathers bled. Earth! render back from out thy breast

A remnant of our Spartan dead !
Of the three hundred grant but three,
To make a new Thermopylæ !

What! silent still ? and silent all ?

Ah! no ;-the voices of the dead Sound like a distant torrent's fall,

And answer, “ Let one living head, But one arise,—we come, we come;" "Tis but the living who are dumb.

In vain-in vain : strike other chords,

Fill high the cup of Samian wine! Leave battles to the Turkish hordes,

And shed the blood of Scio's vinel Hark! rising to the ignoble callHow answers each bold bacchanal!

You have the Pyrrhic dance as yet

Where is the Pyrrhic phalanx gone ? Of two such lessons, why forget

The nobler and the manlier one ? You have the letters Cadmus gaveThink you he meant them for a slave ?

Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!

We will not think of themes like these! It made Anacreon's song divine;

He serv'd—but serv'd PolycratesA tyrant; but our masters then Were still at least our countrymen.

The tyrant of the Chersonese

Was freedom's best and bravest friend; That tyrant was Miltiades !

Oh! that the present hour would lend Another despot of the kind ! Such chains as his were sure to bind.

« VorigeDoorgaan »