Act 3 d.
The interior of a magnificent Cathedral. A Gothic Monument in the foreground, with steps round it, and the figure of an old Warrior on the top,
D'Alba, Leanti, Valore, Calvi, and other nobles.
Where stays the king?
He's robing, to assume
What a gloom reigns in the Cathedral!
Where are the people who should make and grace
'Tis too sudden.
Saw ye not
How coldly, as the slow procession moved,
Men's eyes were fixed upon him? Silently
We passed amid dull silence. I could hear
The chink of money, which the Heralds flung,
Reverberate on the pavement. They who stooped
To gather up the
, looked on the impress
Of young Alfonso, sighed, and shook their heads
As 'twere his funeral.
Methinks this place,
The general tomb of his high like, doth cry
Shame on us! The mute citizens do mourn him
Better than we.
Therefore the gates are closed,
And none but peers of Sicily may pass
The guarded doors.
Where is Prince Julian?
Here comes the mighty-one, and the great prelates,
That shall anoint his haughty brow; 'tis bent
With a stern joy.
Enter Nobles, Bishops,
Abbots &c. in procession. An Abbot,
bearing the crown, and lastly Melfi, in royal robes.
No! To no tapered shrine! Here! This is my Altar;
The tomb of my great ancestor, who first
Won from the Paynim this Sicilian crown,
And wore it gloriously; whose name I bear,
As I will bear his honoured sceptre. Here,
At this most kingly Altar, will I plight
My vow to Sicily, the nuptial vow
That links my fate to hers. Here I'll receive
Her Barons' answering faith. Hear me, thou shade
Of great Rugiero, whilst I swear to guard,
With heart and hand, the realm thy valour won,
The laws thy wisdom framed--brave legacy
To prince and people! to defend their rights;
To rule in truth and justice peacefully,
If peace may be; and with the aweful arm
Of lawful power to sweep the oppressor off
From thy blest Isle; to be the peasants' king,--
Nobles, hear that!--the peasant's king and yours'!
Look down, ancestral spirit, on my oath,
And sanctify and bless it! Now the crown.
What noise is that at the gate?
Give me the crown,
And with a steady grasp it shall endue
These throbbing brows, that burn till they are bound
With that bright diadem.
Enter Julian quickly hurrying Alfonso along.
Stop! Place it here.
This is the King, the real, the only King!
The living King Alfonso!
Out, foul traitor!
'Tis an impostor.
Look on him, Count D'Alba!
Calvi, Valore, look! Ye know him well.
And ye, that never saw him, know ye not
His father's lineaments? Remove thy hand
From that fair forehead. 'Tis the pallid brow
Bent with pensiveness, the dropping eye-lid,
The womanish changing cheek,--his very self!
Look on him. Do ye know him? Do ye own
The crown upon his head, and hear me swear
Low at his feet, as subject, kinsman, prince,
Rise, dear Cousin.
Kneel here with me, thou, his first subject, thou,
The guardian of the state, kneel first, and vow
Thy princely fealty.
Off cursed Viper!
Off, ere I hurl thee on the stones!
My duty. Was it not my duty?
Sit here by me--here on the
We must demand of thee, Regent, once more,
How chanced this tale of murder? Here's our prince,
Safe, and unhurt. But where's the Assassin? Where
The regicide? Where he that wounded thee?
Pointing to Julian
Demand of him.
Where be the murderers?
Art sure thou saw'st them, Duke? Or was't a freak
Of the deft Fay, Morgana? Did'st thou
The trenchant blade? Or, was the hurt thou talk'st of
A fairy wound, a phantasm? Once again,
I warn thee speak.
Demand Prince Julian, Sir,
This work is his.
He speaks not. Little King,
What say'st thou?
Julian saved me.
Saved! From whom?
A King should have no memory
But for good deeds. My lords, an it so please you
We'll to the palace. I'll not wear to-day
This crown: Some fitting season, but not now.
I'm weary. Let us home.
Aye, take him hence,
Home with him, Count Valore. Stay by him
Till I come to ye. Leave him not.--Nay, Calvi,
Remain. Hence with the boy.
My cousin Julian,
Wilt thou not go with us?
I've done my duty--
Was't not my duty? But look there, look there!
I cannot go with thee. I am his now,
Away, bright worm--
What ho! the guard!
My lord, where Julian is
I need no guard. Question no more of this,
But follow us.
Exeunt Valore, Alfonso, and other nobles.
I do contemn myself
That I hold silence. Warriors, kinsmen, friends,
Barons of Sicily, the valiant princes
Of this most fertile and thrice famous Isle,
Hear me! What yonder crafty Count hath dared,
With subtle question, and
To slide into a meaning, is as true
As he is false. I would be King. I'd reign
Over fair Sicily; I'd call myself
Your Sovereign, Princes; thine, Count D'Alba, thine,
Calvi, and old Leanti:--We've been comrades
Many a year in the rough path of war,
And now ye know me all. I'll be a King
Fit for this warlike nation, which brooks sway
Only of men. Yon slight fair boy is born
With a woman's heart. Let him go tell his beads
For us, and for our kingdom. I'll be King,
I'll lend unto that title such a name
As shall enchase this bauble with one blaze
Of honour. I'll lead on to glory, Lords,
And ye shall shine in the brightness of my fame
As planets round the sun. What say ye?
Calvi and others.
Say thou, Leanti, thou'rt a soldier,
Worthy of the name, a brave one! What say'st thou?
If young Alfonso--
Peace! Why, this is well.
This morning I received a tale--I'm not
An over-believer in man's excellence;
I know that in this slippery path of life
The firmest foot may fail; that there have been,
Ere now, ambitious generals, grasping heirs,
Unnatural kinsmen, foul usurpers, murderers.
I know that man is frail, and might have fallen,
Tho' Eve had never lived, albeit, I own
The smiling mischief's potency. But this,
This tale was made up of such several sins,
All of them devilish, treason, treachery,
And pitiless cruelty made murder pale
With their red shame. I doubt not readily,
When man and guilt are joined--but this the common,
And general sympathy, that links our kind,
Forbade to believe. Yet, now, before ye all,
His peers and mine, before the vacant throne
He sought to usurp, before the crown that fell
As conscious from his brow. I do arraign
Rugiero, Duke of Melfi, General, Peer,
Regent, and Prince, of treason.
We quarrel not for words. Let these but follow
And bold emprise shall bear a happier name.
Sicilians, have ye lost your Island spirit?
Barons, is your ancient bravery tamed down
By this vain scoffer? I'll to the people. They
Love their old soldier.
Stop. Duke. I arraign thee
Of murder; planned, designed, attempted murder,
Though incomplete, on the thrice sacred person
Of young Alfonso, kinsman, ward, and king.
Wilt thou defend this too? Was't a brave deed
To draw the Assassin's sword on that poor child?
Come near who dares! Where be thy proofs?
Where be thy witnesses?
There's one, Prince Julian,
Rouse thee!He props himself against the tomb, as though
A statue too.--Only he trembles so.
Rouse thee, and answer as before thy god.
As there is truth in heaven, did'st thou not see
Thy father's sword at young Alfonso's breast?
Lay not the boy already dead with fear,
At his false guardian's feet? Answer!
Prince Julian! Dost thou falter now? On! On!
And drive the dagger home. On, on, I say.
We wait your Highness' answer.
The prisoner, whil'st that look severely sad
Is fastened on the witness, Truth is chained.
He pants beneath the spell, as the charmed bird
Fixed by the rattle-snake.
Convey the Duke
To the Hall of Justice. We shall follow straight.
Go, summon Juan Castro thither. Hence!
Why loiter ye?
One word with thee, Prince Julian.
I pray ye, listen; 'tis no treason, Lords.
I would but say, finish thy work; play well
The part that thou hast chosen; cast aside
All filial yearnings; be a gallant foe;
Rush onward through the fight; trample me down:
Tread on my neck; be perfect in that quality,
Which thou call'st justice; quell thy womanish weeping,
Let me respect the enemy, whom once
I thought my son.
I'm no father.
Rouse not my soul to curse thee. Tempt me not
To curse thy mother. She, whom once I deemed
A saint in purity. Be resolute.
Palter not with them. Lie not.
Did I ever?--
Finish thy work. On, soldiers.
The Duke, as thou hast heart, disclaims thee.
A man of ye say that. I am his son.--
Tremble, lest my sword should prove me so!--A part
Of his own being. He gave me this life,
These senses, these affections. The quick blood
That knocks so strongly at my heart is his--
Would I might spill it for him! Had ye no fathers,
Have ye no sons, that ye would train men up
In parricide? I will not answer ye.
This passion is thy answer. Could'st thou say
No, in that simple word were more comprised
Than in a word of fiery eloquence.
Can'st thou not utter No? 'Tis short and easy,
The first sound that a stuttering babe will lisp
To his fond nurse; yet thy tongue stammers at it.
I ask him if his father be at once
Traitor and murderer; and he cannot say
Subtle, blood-thirsty fiend! I'll answer
To nought that thou can'st ask. Murderer! The King
Lives. Seek of him. One truth I'll tell thee, D'Alba,
And then the record of that night shall pass
Down to the grave in silence. But one sword
Was stained with blood in yonder glen,--'twas mine
I was the only guilty. This I swear
Before the all-seeing God, whose quenchless gaze
Pierced through that twilight-hour. Now condemn
The Duke of Melfi, an ye dare. I'll speak no more
On this foul question.
Thou the guilty!
I have said it.
I had heard a tale--
This must be sifted.
In that twilight hour
A mortal eye beheld them. An old Spaniard,
One of the guard. By heaven, it is a tale
So bloody, so unnatural, man may scarce
And the King still lives.
A mystery. Let's to the hall of Justice,
And hear this soldier. Sir, they are ambitious,
Father & son.--We can pass judgement there:
This is no place--Leanti, more ambitious
Than thou can'st guess.
Aye, by a thousand fold!
I am an Eaglet born, and can drink in
The sunlight, when the blinking owls go darkling,
Dazzled, and blinded by the day. Ambitious!
I have had my dreams would have shamed the visions
Of that great master of the world, who wept
For other worlds to conquer. I'd have lived
An age of sinless glory, and gone down
Storied, and epitaph'd, and chronicled
To the very end of time.--Now--But I still
May suffer bravely--may die as a prince,
A man.--Ye go to Judgement. Lords, remember
I am the only guilty.
We must needs
On such confession give you into charge
A prisoner. Ho! Captain.
The Officer & Guards advance.
Goes he with us?
No; for the Hall is near, and they are best
Questioned apart. Walk by me, good Leanti,
And I will shew thee why.
That Julian and his father fought?
They met as friends. No! No!
Exeunt Calvi and other Lords
Enter Annabel (hastily).
Where is he? Where?
Stay me not--My Julian!
Oh! how she sinks her head upon his arm!
How her curls kiss his cheek! And her white hand
Lies upon his. The cold, and sluggish husband!
He does not clasp that loveliest hand!
Count D'Alba, see
We are alone--Wilt thou not come?
Now he hath seized her hand, hath dared to grasp--
He shall not hold it long.
They'll wait us, Count.
That white hand shall be mine!
Exeunt D'Alba & Leanti
Why art thou here?
They said--I was a fool,
That believed them.--Constance said she heard a cry.
Down with the Melfi!--and the rumour ran,
That there had been a fray, that thou wast slain:--
But thou art safe, my Julian?
As thou see'st.
But thou art breathless still.
Aye--I flew through the streets,
Piercing the crowds like light! I was a fool--
But thou had'st left me on a sudden, bearing
The young Alfonso with thee;--
I knew not--Love is fearful,
And I have learnt to fear. But thou'rt not well:--
Home! by the way thou'lt tell me
What hath befallen. Where is Alfonso?
The King, the rightful, the acknowledged King!
Thou dost not grieve to lose a crown my fairest!
Oh, no! no!
I'm only proud of thee.
Where's thy father, Julian?
Forgive me. I have pained thee.
No. The pang
Is mastered. Where? he is a prisoner
Before the States--I am a prisoner here--
These are my guards--Be calm, sweetest! Rend not
This holy place with shrieks.
They seek thy life,
They'll sentence thee! They'll kill thee! No, they shall not;
Unless they kill me first. What crime? Oh Heaven!
This full line is out of focus in the photofacsimile of the manuscript. Two words are faintly legible: "of crime" and in the middle of the line an exclamation point, suggesting that this may be the same line or close to the version in the 1823 publication.
they to bring?
Somewhat of yon sad night
Where's Theodore? The Page? The King?
Hold me not!
Where would'st thou go?
To the States.
I'll tell the truth, the truth,
The irresistible truth! Let go,--a moment
May cost thy life--our lives--Nothing but truth,
That's all thy cause can need! Let go!
What's a thousand such as he
To thee, my husband! But he shall be safe;
He is thy father; I'll say nought can harm him.--
He was ever kind to me; I'll pray for him!
Nay, an thou fear'st me, Julian, I'll not speak
One word.--I'll only kneel before them all,
Lift up my hands, and pray in my inmost heart,
As I pray to God.
My loving wife, to him,
Pray to him only. Leave me not my dearest.
I'm content and strong
to suffer. Be thou--
Enter D'Alba, Calvi, Leanti and Nobles
Already! This is quick. But I'm prepared.
Tell it not! Ye are its judges;
Ye have the power of life and death; your words
Are fate--Oh! Speak not yet. Listen to me!
Aye, a long summer day. What would'st thou?
He shall not die.
Now, bless thee, D'Alba!
Bless thee! He's safe! he's free!
Once more I ask,
His doom, for that is mine. If ye have dared
In mockery of justice, to arraign,
And sentence your great ruler, with less pause
Than a petty thief, taken in the manner--What's
Sir, our great ruler (we, that love not
Law's tedious circumstance, may thank him) spared
All trial by confession. He avowed
Treason & regicide, and all that thou
Had'st said, or might say, he avouched unheard
For truth, then cried, as thou hast done, for judgement.
I can die, too.
A milder doom
Unites ye. We have spared the royal blood.
Only the blood. Estates and honors all
Are forfeit to the king. The Assembled States
Banish ye--The most holy church declares ye
Beneath her ban. This is your sentence, Sir.
A herald waits to read it in the streets
Before ye. And from out the city gates
To thrust ye; outlawed, excommunicate,
Infamous amongst men. Ere noon to-morrow
Ye must depart from Sicily; on pain
Of death to ye, the outlaws, death to all that harbour ye,
Death to whoe'er shall give
Food, shelter, comfort, so pass ye forth
Rest on your heads, false Judges! Outlawed! Banished!
Bereft of all state and title! Thou art still
Best of the good, greatest of the great,
My Julian! Must they die that give thee food,
And rest, and comfort? I shall comfort thee,
I, thy true wife! I'll never leave thee, never!
We'll walk together to the gate, my hand
In thine, as lovers--Let us forth. We'll go
Aye, but not to-night. I'll meet thee
To-morrow, at the harbour.
No, no, no!
I will not leave thee.
Cling not thus! She trembles!
She cannot walk. Brave Sir, we have been comrades,
There is a pity in thine eye, that well
Beseems a soldier. Take this weeping lady
To King Alfonso--Tell the royal boy,
One, who was once his kinsman, and his friend,
Commends her to him. Go! To-morrow, dearest,
We'll meet again--Now for this sentence. Lords,
I question not your power. I submit
To all, even to this shame. Be quick! be quick!
End of Act 3 rd