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Text: Edgar Allan Poe, "Scenes from 'Politian' [III and IX]" (B-2), Southern Literary Messenger, January 1836, 2:106-108

[page 106, column 1, continued:]



ROME. — A Hall in a Palace.  Alessandra and Castiglione.

    Alessandra.  Thou art sad, Castiglione.
    Castiglione.  Sad! — not I.
Oh, I'm the happiest, happiest man in Rome!
A few days more, thou knowest, my Alessandra,
Will make thee mine. Oh, I am very happy!
    Aless.  Methinks thou hast a singular way of showing
Thy happiness! — what ails thee, cousin of mine?
Why didst thou sigh so deeply?
    Cas.  Did I sigh?
I was not conscious of it. It is a fashion,
A silly — a most silly fashion I have
When I am very happy. Did I sigh?                         (sighing.[column 2:]
    Aless. Thou didst. Thou art not well. Thou hast indulged
Too much of late, and I am vexed to see it.
Late hours and wine, Castiglione, — these
Will ruin thee! thou art already altered —
Thy looks are haggard — nothing so wears away
The constitution as late hours and wine.
    Cas. (musing.)  Nothing, fair cousin, nothing — not even deep sorrow —
Wears it away like evil hours and wine.
I will amend.
    Aless. Do it! I would have thee drop
Thy riotous company, too — fellows low born —
Ill suit the like with old Di Broglio's heir
And Alessandra's husband.
    Cas.  I will drop them.
    Aless.   Thou wilt — thou must. Attend thou also more
To thy dress and equipage — they are over plain
For thy lofty rank and fashion — much depends
Upon appearances.
    Cas.  I'll see to it.
    Aless. Then see to it! — pay more attention, sir,
To a becoming carriage — much thou wantest
In dignity.
    Cas.  Much, much, oh much I want
In proper dignity.
    Aless.(haughtily.)  Thou mockest me, sir!
    Cas. (abstractedly.)  Sweet, gentle Lalage!
    Aless. Heard I aright?
I speak to him — he speaks of Lalage!
Sir Count! (places her hand on his shoulder) what art thou dreaming? he's not well!
What ails thee, sir?
    Cas. (startling.)  Cousin! fair cousin! — madam!
I crave thy pardon — indeed I am not well —
Your hand from off my shoulder, if you please.
This air is most oppressive! — Madam — the Duke!

    Enter Di Broglio.

    Di Broglio.  My son, I've news for thee! — hey? — what's the matter? (observing Alessandra.)
I' the pouts? Kiss her, Castiglione! kiss her,
You dog! and make it up, I say, this minute!
I've news for you both. Politian is expected
Hourly in Rome — Politian, Earl of Leicester!
We'll have him at the wedding. 'Tis his first visit
To the imperial city.
    Aless. What! Politian
Of Britain, Earl of Leicester?
    Di Brog.  The same, my love.
We'll have him at the wedding. A man quite young
In years, but grey in fame. I have not seen him,
But Rumor speaks of him as of a prodigy
Pre-eminent in arts and arms, and wealth,
And high descent. We'll have him at the wedding.
    Aless. I have heard much of this Politian.
Gay, volatile and giddy — is he not?
And little given to thinking.
    Di Brog.  Far from it, love.
No branch, they say, of all philosophy
So deep abstruse he has not mastered it.
Learned as few are learned.
    Aless. 'Tis very strange,
I have known men have seen Politian
And sought his company. They speak of him
As of one who entered madly into life,  [page 107:]
Drinking the cup of pleasure to the dregs.
    Cas.  Ridiculous! Now I have seen Politian
And know him well — nor learned nor mirthful he.
He is a dreamer and a man shut out
From common passions.
    Di Brog.  Children, we disagree.
Let us go forth and taste the fragrant air
Of the garden. Did I dream, or did I hear
Politian was a melancholy man?                             (exeunt.)


The suburbs. Politian alone.

[[    Politian.]] This weakness grows upon me. I am faint,
And much I fear me ill — it will not do
To die ere I have lived! — Stay — stay thy hand,
O Azrael, yet awhile! — Prince of the Powers
Of Darkness and the Tomb, O pity me!
O pity me! let me not perish now,
In the budding of my hopes — give me to live,
Give me to live yet — yet a little while:
'Tis I who pray for life — I who so late
Demanded but to die! — what sayeth the Count?

    Enter Baldazzar.

.  That knowing no cause of quarrel or of feud
Between the Earl Politian and himself.
He doth decline your cartel.
   Pol.  What didst thou say?
What answer was it you brought me, good Baldazzar?
With what excessive fragrance the zephyr comes
Laden from yonder bowers! — a fairer day,
Or one more worthy Italy, methinks
No mortal eyes have seen! — what said the Count?
    Bal.  That he, Castiglione, not being aware
Of any feud existing, or any cause
Of quarrel between your lordship and himself,
Cannot accept the challenge.
   Pol.  It is most true —
All this is very true. When saw you, sir,
When saw you now, Baldazzar, in the frigid
Ungenial Britain which we left so lately,
A heaven so calm as this — so utterly free
From the evil taint of clouds? — and he did say?
   Bal.  No more, my lord, than I have told you, sir:
The Count Castiglione will not fight,
Having no cause for quarrel.
    Pol.  Now this is true —
All very true. Thou art my friend, Baldazzar,
And I have not forgotten it — thou'lt do me
A piece of service? wilt thou go back and say
Unto this man, that I, the Earl of Leicester,
Hold him a villain — thus much, I prythee, say
Unto the Count — it is exceeding just
He should have cause for quarrel.
   Bal.  My lord! — my friend! —
   Pol.  (aside.) 'Tis he! — he comes himself? (aloud.) thou reasonest well.
I know what thou wouldst say — not send the message —
Well! — I will think of it — I will not send it.
Now prythee, leave me — hither doth come a person
With whom affairs of a most private nature
I would adjust.
   Bal.  I go — to-morrow we meet,
Do we not? — at the Vatican.
    Pol.  At the Vatican.                                     (exit Bal.)     [column 2:]
If that we meet at all, it were as well
That I should meet him in the Vatican —
In the Vatican — within the holy walls
Of the Vatican.   (Enter Castigilone.)

.  The Earl of Leicester here!
    Pol.  I am the Earl of Leicester, and thou seest,
Dost thou not? that I am here.
    Cas.  My lord, some strange,
Some singular mistake — misunderstanding —
Hath without doubt arisen: thou hast been urged
Thereby, in heat of anger, to address
Some words most unaccountable, in writing,
To me, Castiglione; the bearer being
Baldazzar, Duke of Surrey. I am aware
Of nothing which might warrant thee in this thing,
Having given thee no offence. Ha! — am I right?
'Twas a mistake? — undoubtedly — we all
Do err at times.
    Pol.  Draw, villain, and prate no more!
    Cas.  Ha! — draw? — and villain? have at thee — have at thee then,
Proud Earl!                                                 (draws.)
   Pol.  (drawing.)  Thus to th' expiatory tomb,
Untimely sepulchre, I do devote thee
In the name of Lalage!
   Cas.  (dropping his sword and recoiling to the extremity of the stage.)
Of Lalage!
Hold off — thy sacred hand! — Avaunt I say!
Avaunt — I will not fight thee — I dare note — dare not.
   Pol.  Thou wilt not fight with me didst say, Sir Count?
Shall I be baffled thus? — now this is well;
Didst say thou darest not? Ha!
   Cas.  I dare not — dare not —
Hold off thy hand — with that beloved name
So fresh upon thy lips I will not fight thee —
I cannot — dare not.
   Pol.  Now by my halidom
I do believe thee! — Coward! I do believe thee!
Thou darest not!
   Cas.  Ha! — coward! — this may not be!

    (clutches his sword and staggers towards Politian, but his purpose is changed before reaching him, and he falls upon his knee at the feet of the Earl)

                            Alas! alas!
It is — it is — most true. In such a cause
I am — I am — a coward. O pity me!
    Pol.  (greatly softened.)  Alas! — I do — indeed I pity thee.
    Cas.  And Lalage ——
    Pol.  Scoundrel! — arise and die!
    Cas.  It needeth not be — thus — thus — O let me die
Thus on my bended knee. It were most fitting
That in this deep humiliation I perish.
For in the fight I will not raise a hand
Against thee, Earl of Leicester. Strike thou home —

(baring his bosom.)

Here is no let or hindrance to thy weapon —
Strike home. I will not fight thee.
    Pol.  Now s'Death and Hell!
Am I not — am I not sorely — grievously tempted
To take thee at thy word? But mark me, sir!
Think not to fly me thus. Do thou prepare  [page 108:]
For public insult in the streets — before
The eyes of the citizens. I'll follow thee —
Like an avenging spirit I'll follow thee
Even unto death. Before those whom thou lovest —
Before all Rome I'll taunt thee, villain, — I'll taunt thee,
Dost hear? with cowardice — thou wilt not fight me?
By God! thou shalt!                                      (exit.)
    Cas.  Now this — now this is just!
Most righteous, and most just, avenging Heaven!


Although numbered I and II in the original printing, these scenes are actually scenes III and IX in the manuscript of the play.

[S:0 - SLM, 1836] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - Scenes from Politian (B-2)