Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

To harm you ; and your eyes are spared, I see,
For many a Milan conquest.

Isab. There's but one my duty bids me look to.
Duke. And your heart ?
Isab. And—and my heart,
Duke. Indeed ?

[They talk.
De Med. My lord, my lord !
Sforza. Ha! good De Medici ! welcome.

De Med. Thanks, dear Sforza ;
I thought you'd not have marked me. Is your mood
Always so very contemplative ?

Sforza. Ono !
'Tis the fair princess. But my nephew has
Forgot me : Galeazzo, may I ask,
(When you're at leisure,) that you'll make me known
To your sweet bride?

Duke. O! my dear uncle, pardon ;
This is my guardian, dearest Isabel :
My father, I should say—I pray you love him.

Sforza. Ludovico Sforza, lady, and your knight ;
If you will own so poor a one.

Isab. Thanks, sir.

De Med. He is a dangerous man, my princess, for I saw him gazing on you

Sforza. How?

De Med. As though he'd found
A star, and was under the influence of
The planets.

Sforza. Prythee but the princess has
Not seen the Alps by day-light: Turn your eyes
Here, madam ; look ! methinks their snowy crowns
Shine radiantly as they had seen the sun.

Duke. The very hills give welcome to my love!
And every thing seems happy, now, but most
The heart of Milan.

Isab. Oh! take care, my lord,
You'll spoil me else, I fear.

Sforza. This day looks like
The holiday of Nature, madam, and you
The queen of't.

Isab. Pray--no more.

Duke. No more then. Now-
Now for our marriage : blush not, for by this blue
And bending canopy, there's nought so fair
As thee, my own sweet bride ; and none so happy
As now the Duke of Milan. Come.
Sforza. I'll follow.

(Exeunt.
She's gone-and it is night. What! shall I in
My age be follying ? and this puny boy
To cheat his tutorIt may please him now

To reign in Milan-no, no, that's my care.
Oh! what an eye she has ; it is not likely
She will live quiet here : Her look forbids it.
She will be Duke: And I Now had I been
The same Ludovico Sforza who did win
(Some twenty years ago) the prize at Florence,
Perhaps she might have loved me : Out on't, I
Grow foolish in my age. My love that I
Might conquer, or my ambition : Oh! but here
Both spur me on.-

-Whither no matter ; I
Am borne upon the wings of fate to do
Some serious act, or thus it seems, and will
Not quarrel with my destiny. I'll think on't.

[Exit.

SCENE II.-A Room with a Banquet.

ISABELLA.
Time lags, and slights his duty. I remember
The days when he would fly.-How sweet they were :
Then I rebuked his speed, and now—and now
I drench his wing with tears. How heavily
The minutes pass. Can he avoid me? Oh!
I almost wish—and yet that must not be.
Hark, hark ! I hear a step come sounding through
The hall. It is the murderer, Sforza. Now,
Rise up my heart in thy own strength, and da
Thy act of justice bravely. So.

Enter SFORZA.
Sforza. My love !-
Oh! my delight, my deity! I am come
To thank you for being gracious. I am late ?

Isab. Oh! no : you are in time, my lord !

Sforza. You look
But sad, my Isabella : let me hope
No ill has happened : nothing sweet to sway
Your promise from me ?

Isab. Be assured of that
My soul I mean that—Ah ! you're grave: Well! you
Have cause to chide me, but my spirits have
Been faint to-night at times. I'll do my best
To entertain you as you merit.

Sforza. Far
Better, I hope, my Isabel.

Isab. Your grace
May challenge any thing : Report has been
So lavish in its favors tow'rd you, that
All hearts must fain be yours.

Even I, you see,
Although a widow, not divested of
Her sorrows quite, am here i’ the midst of tears,

To smile (like April) on you ; But you'll grow
To vanity, sir, unless some stop be put
To your amorous conquests. I must do 't.

Sforza. You shall,
You shall, my Isabella.

Isab. Sir, I will.
You shall be wholly mine-till death. I have,
As yet, been full of miseries : they have swelled
My heart to bursting. You shall soothe me.

Sforza. How ?

Isab. We'll find a way–Nay, not so free, my lord ;
I must be won with words, (though hallow,) smiles
And vows, (although you mean them not,) kind looks
And excellent flattery. Come, my lord, what say you ?
I'm all impatience-

Sforza. Oh! what can I say ?
Thou art so lovely to me, that my words
Must sound like cheats to many. They of whom
The poets told, men say, were shadows, and
So they will swear of thee.

Isab. Alas ! my lord,
I have no patronage

Sforza. But I will have
Your name recorded in the sweetest verse;
And sculptors shall do honour to themselves
And their delicious art, by fashioning thee ;
And painters shall devise for us a story,
Where thou and I, love, shall be seen reclining,
Thou on my arm-

Isab. A happy thought.

Sforza, And in
The guise of the throned Juno ; I as Jove,
In his diviner moments, languishing
Beneath thy look.

Isab. She was a shrew, my lord, (That queen o' the heavens) and I.

Sforza. Then thou shalt be Like her, who, in old inimitable tales, Was pictured gathering flowers in Sicily, And raised to Dis' throne : Methinks she was A beautiful prophecy of thee; and there Mountains shall rise, and grassy valleys lie Asleep i’ the sun, and blue Sicilian streams Shall wander, and green woods (their leaves just touched With light,) shall bend 'fore some faint westering wind, And bow to bright Apollo as he comes Smiling from out the east. What more ? Oh! you Shall kneel and pluck the flow'rs, and look aside, As hearkening ; and—I will be there, (a god,) Rushing tow'rds thee, my sweet Proserpina.

Isab. An ugly story.

Sforza. How, sweet ?

Isab. You would take me
ToHELL, then. Pardon me, my lord, I am
Not well. Come, you must honour me, and taste
Of my poor entertainment.

Sforza. Willingly.
Isab. We'll be alone.
Sforza. 'Tis better. I have now

[They feast. No appetite for common viands ; yet I'll drink to thee, my queen.

Isab. This is
A curious wine, my lord ; and like those drops
Sought by philosophers, (the life elixir,)
Will make you immortal.

Sforza. Give it me, my love.
May you ne'er know an hour of sorrow.

Isab. Ha !
Stay, stay ; soft, put it down.

Sforza. Why, how is this?
Isab. Would-would you drink without me ? Shame

upon you !
Look at this fruit: a sea-worn captain, who
Has sailed all 'round the world, brought it me from
The Indian islands, and the natives there
Do worship it. This

Sforza. "T has a luscious taste.
My nephew (when he lived) was fond of a fruit
That's not unlike it.
Isab. Thanks, ye spirits of vengeance !

[ Aside. Now you shall taste the immortal wine, my lord, And drink a health to Cupid.

Sforza. Cupid, then.
He was a cunning god : he dimmed men's eyes,
'Tis prettily said i' the fable. But my eyes
(Yet how I love !) are clear as though I were
A stoic. Ah!

Isab. Ha! what's the inatter, sir ?
Sforza. The wine is cold.

Isab. You'll find it warmer, shortly.
It is its nature, as I'm told, to heat
The heart. -My lord, I read but yesterday
Of an old man, (a Grecian poet,) who
Devoted all his life to wine, and died
O’ the grape : methinks 'twas just.

Sforza. 'Twas so. This wine

Isab. And stories have been told of men, whose lives
Were infamous, and so their end : I mean
That the red murderer has been murdered, and
The traitor struck with treason : He, who has let
The orphan perish, came himself to want :
Thus justice, and great God have ordered it,

So that the scene of evil has been turned
Against the actor in't ; black thoughts arisen
And foil'd the schemes of fierce imaginers ;
And poison given for poison.

Sforza. Oh! my heart !
Isab. Is the wine still so cold, sir ?

Sforza. Oh! I burn.
Some water. I burn with thirst. Oh! what is this?
Isab. You're pale. I'll call for help. Here !

Servants enter.
Isab. Bind that man
To his seat.

Sforza. Traitress !
Isab. Now begone.-

-My lord ! [Servants cxeunt.
I'll not deceive you : you have drank a draught
Will send you from this world.

Sforza. My heart, my heart !
Traitress !- I faint-faint-Ah !-

Isab. I would have done
My act of justice yet more mildly on you :
But 't could not be. I felt that you must die
For my sake, for my boy, and Milan. You
Murdered my lord and husband. Stare not. 'Tis
A melancholy truth. You have usurped
The first place in the dukedom, and swept all
My child's rights to the dust. What say you, sir ?
Do you impeach my story? While you've time,
Give answer to me.

[He dies. You are silent.

Then
You are condemned for ever. I could grieve
Almost to see you with that marble look.
Alas! that neck which bore the ducal chain,
That head the coronet, both bending once
Tow’rd shouting slaves, are fixed now : His eye
Is motionless. How like those forms he looks,
That sit in stony whiteness over tombs,
Memorials of their cold inhabitants.
Speak ! are you grown to stone ? What can you say
In your defence, sir ? Turn your eyes from me:
Villain ! how dare you look at me ? You shall
Be amorous no more. -Away : Must I
Rouse you? How idly his arms hang.-Turn your eyes
Away. I dare not touch him—yet I must.
Ha ? he is dead-dead. So, by me.- -Sweet heaven!
Forgive me ; I'm a widow-broken-hearted ;
A mother, too-and 'twas for my child. I-
I-was not in my nature cruel, but
Yon bloody man did press so hardly on us ;
He would have torn my pretty bird from me :
(I had but one)—what could I do? There was
No other way. And this is blood for blood.

« VorigeDoorgaan »