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AGNES. The sash.
If you make use of that, I can assist.
O. WIL. No.
"T is a dreadful office, and I'll spare
Thy trembling hands the guilt. Steal to the door,
And bring me word if he be still asleep. [ Exit Agnes]
Or I'm deceived, or he pronounced himself
The happiest of mankind. Deluded wretch !
Thy thoughts are perishing; thy youthful joys,
Touched by the icy hand of grisly death,
Are withering in their bloom. But though extinguished,
He'll never know the loss, nor feel the
Of bitter disappointment. Then I was wrong
In counting him a wretch: to die well pleased
Is all the happiest of mankind can hope for.
To be a wretch, is to survive the loss
Of every joy, and even hope itself,
As I have done. Why do I mourn him, then?
For, by the anguish of my tortured soul
He's to be envied, if compared with me!
From M188 MITFORD's Tragedy of RIENZI.
COLA DI RIENZI, Tribune of the People,
ANGELO COLONNA, a Young Noble,
ALBERTI, Captain of the Guard.
(This noble play-grand in conception of character, and magnificent in execution-gives us the most interesting incidents in the life of Rienzi, the last of the Tribunes. This true patriot, fired by a love of liberty, rouses the people to shake off the yoke of the nobles and once more make Rome a Republic. By his fervid eloquence he succoeds in firing the popular heart, and is elected ruler, by the people. Meanwhile his daughter, Claudia, and young Angelo become enamored of each other. Angelo, however, joining the aristocratic party is beheaded by the rulers of the Republic. Rienzi attempts in vain to save him, and is himself slain by the spears of the citizens.
In reciting this eloquent extract the speakers may address them. selves to the citizens who may be placed off the stage, if necessary, thus doing away with necessity of costuming so many mere auxil. iaries.
COSTUMES.-- Rienzi may wear a garb like that of the olden Roman Senators-i. e., the toga and mantle. Angelo, a rich Italian dress : close fitting shape, and short mantle, with velvet cap and long ostrich plume. Alberti, same form of dress as Angelo but of coarser materials.
The opening scene takes place in the street before the gatos of the Capitol.)
· Enter RIENZI, and ALBERTI from 2 E. L., doron C.
RIE (advancing to the front). Darkness! did ye never
Watch the dark glooming of the thunder-cloud,
Ere the storm burst? We'll light this darkness, sir,
With the brave flash of spear and sword.
The CITIZENS off, shout. Rienzi!
Live brave Rienzi honest Cola!
CITIZENS (of). Long live Rienzi !
ALB. Listen to him.
I come not here to talk. Ye know too well
The story of our thraldrom. We are slaves !
The bright sun rises to his course, and lights
A race of slaves !-He sets, and his last beam
Falls on a slave,-
Slave to a horde
Of petty tyrants, feudal despots; lords
Rich in some dozen paltry villages,
Strong in some hundred spearman,-only great
In that strange spell-a name. Each hour, dark fraud,
Or open rapine, or protected murder,
Cry out against them. But this very day,
An honest man, my neighbor. (pointing to PAOLO, off R.
corner)—there he stands,
Was struck,--struck like a dog, by one who wore
The badge of Ursini ; because forsooth,
He tossed not high his ready cap in air,
At sight of that great ruffian. Be we men,
And suffer such dishonor? Men, and wash not
The stain away in blood ? Such shames are common:
I have known deeper wrongs. I that speak to ye,
I had a brother once.
How I loved
That gracious boy! Younger by fifteen years,
Brother at once and son ! * He left my side ;
A summer bloom on his fair cheeks,-a smile
Parting his innocent lips.” In one short hour
The pretty harmless boy was slain! I saw
The corpse, the mangled corpse, and when I cried
For vengeance !-Rouse, ye Romans !
Have ye brave sons ?-Look in the next fierce brawl
To see them die. Have ye fair daughters ?—Look
To see them live, torn from your arms, distained,
Dishonored ; and, if ye dare call for justice,
Be answered by the lash. Yet, this is Rome,
That sate on her seven hills, and from her throne
Of beauty ruled the world!
Once again, I swear,
The eternal city shall be free; her sons
Shall walk with princes. Ere to-morrow's dawn,
FIRST CIT. Hush! Who passes there?
ALB. A foe.
By his proud bearing. Seize him.
RIE. As I deem, good Alberti,
"Tis Angelo Colonna. Touch him not,
I would hold parley with him.
The hour is nigh. Away!
Now, sir! (to ANGELO.)
ANG. (L.). What be ye,
That thus in stern and watchful mystery
Cluster beneath the veil of night, and start
To hear a stranger's foot ?
ANG. And wherefore Meet ye, my countrymen ?
RIE. For freedom.
Thou art Cola di Rienzi ?
RIE. Ay, that voice,
The traitor voice.
ANG. I knew thee by the words.
Who, save thyself, in this bad age, when man
Lies prostrate like yon temple, dared conjoin
The sounds of Rome and freedom ?
RIE. I shall teach
The world to blend those words, as in the days
Before the Cæsars. Thou shalt be the first
To hail the union. I have seen thee hang
On tales of the world's mistress; thy young hand
Hath clenched thy maiden sword. Unsheath it now,-
Now, at thy country's call! What, dost thou pause ?
Is the flame quenched ? Dost falter? Hence with thee,
Pass on ! pass whilst thou may! (crosses to L.)
ANG. Hear me, Rienzi.
Even now my spirit leaps up at the thought
Of those brave storied days a treasury
Of matchless visions, bright and glorified,
Paling the dim lights of this darkling world
With the golden blaze of heaven; but past and gone,
As clouds of yesterday, as last night's dream.
RIE. A dream! Dost see yon phalanx, still and stern ?
An hundred leaders, each with such a band,
Wait with suppressed impatience till they hear
The great bell of the Capitol, to spring
At once on their proud foes. Join them.
ANG. My father!
RIE. Already he hath quitted Rome.
ANG. My kinsmen!
RIE. We are too strong for contest. Thou shall see
No other change within our peaceful streets
Than that of slaves to freemen. Such a change
As is the silent step from night to day,
From darkness into light. We talk too long.
ANG. Yet reason with them,-warn them.
RIE. And their answer-
Will be the gaol, the gibbet, or the axe,
The keen retort of power. Why, I have reasoned ;
And, but that I am held, amongst your great ones,
Half madman and half fool, these bones of mine
Had whitened on yon wall. Warn them! They met
At every step dark warnings,
Friend met friend, nor smiled,
Till the last footfall of the tyrant's steed
Had died upon the ear.
Sir, the boys, -
The unfledged boys, marched at their mother's hist,
Besides their grandsires ; even the girls of Rome,
The gentle and the delicate, array
Their lovers in this cause. I have one yonder,
Claudia Rienzi, thou hast seen the maid-
A silly trembler, a slight fragile toy,
As ever nursed a dove, or reared a flower,-
Yet she, even she, is pledged-
ANG. To whom? to whom ?
Rie. To liberty.
A king's son
Might kneel in vain for Claudia. None shall wed her,
Save a true champion of the cause.
ANG. I'll join ye: (gives his hand to RIENZI.)
How shall I swear?
RIE. (to the people). friends, comrades, countrymen!
I bring unhoped-for aid. Young Angelo,
To join your band.
(All the CITIZENS shout)-He's welcome!
ANG. Hear me swear
By Rome-by freedom-by Rienzi! Comrades,
How have ye titled your deliverer? consul-
Dictator, emperor ?
Those names have been so often steeped in blood,
So shamed by folly, so profaned by, sin,
The sound seems ominous,-l'll none of them,
Call me the Tribune of the people: there
My honoring (uty lies. (the CITIZENS off, shout, Hail to our
Tribnne!- The bell sounds thrice ; shouts again.)
Hark-the bell, the bell!
That, to the city and the plain,
Proclaims the glorious_tale
Of Rome re-born, and Freedom. See, the clouds
Are swept away, and the moon's boat of light
Sails in the clear blue sky, and million stars
Look out on us, and smile. (ALBERTI lays the keys at RIEN-
Hark! that great voice
Hath broke our bondage. Look, without a stroke
The Capitol is won—the gates unfold-
The keys are at our feet. Alberti, friend,
How shall I pay the service ? Citizens !
First to possess the palace citadel-
The famous strength of Rome; then to sweep are,
Triumphant, through her streets.
A: RIENZI is entering the Capitol, he pausch
Oh, glorious wreck
Of gods and Cæsars ! thou shalt reign again,
Queen of the world; and I- -come on, come on,
CITIZENS (off). Live Rienzi-live our Tribune!