Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Politian” (reading copy)


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[[In Preparation]]

 

POLITIAN, A TRAGEDY.

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Scene: Rome in the [16th] century.

Characters:

  • Lalage - an orphan ward of Di Broglio.
  • Alessandra - niece of Di Broglio, and betrothed to Castiglione.
  • Jacinta - servant maid to Lalage.
  • Duke Di Broglio.
  • Castiglione - his son and heir.
  • San Ozzo - companion of Castiglione.
  • Politian.
  • Baldazzar - his friend.
  • A monk.
  • Ugo, Benito, and Rupert - Servants in the family of Di Broglio.

I.

An apartment in the Palazzo of Di Broglio. Traces of a protracted revel. On a wine-table some candles burnt to the socket. Masks, a lute, a lady’s slipper, cards and broken bottles are strewn about the floor and on the table. Enter Benito meeting Ugo intoxicated.

Ugo: Oh! is that you Benito (hiccup) are they gone?

Benito: Faith that’s a question, Ugo, hard to answer,

But are the bottles empty? — then they’re gone.

As for the Count San Ozzo who knocked me down

Just now on the staircase as I came up hither,

I can with more precision speak of him —

He’s gone, I’m sure of that — pretty far gone.

Ugo: Is the bravo gone? (hiccup) where is the buffo-singer?

Did you say his Excellency had departed?

Are all the fiddlers off (hiccup) the devil go with them!

I’m positively stupid for want of sleep!

Benito: (eyeing him.) Oh you are right — quite right — being as you say

Ugo, a most confounded stupid man.

Ugo:   Sirrah! I said not so, or else I (hiccup) lied.

Benito: I have no doubt, good Ugo, that you lied

Being, as you observe, a most notorious liar —

(Ugosits, and helps himself to wine. Enter Rupert.)

Well, master Rupert what have you done with the count?

Rupert: What should I do with any drunken man?

I pulled him from under the table where he lay

And tumbled him into bed.

Benito: I say, good Rupert!

Can it be the Duke di Broglio is acquainted

With these untimely revels of his son?

It is a pity in so proper a man

Is’t not a pity in so young a man

And of so gentle blood? Here is a change

I had not look’d to see — he is sadly altered!

Ugo: He is drunk, Benito, — did you not say so, Rupert?

Most men are sadly altered when they’re drunk

Oh, I am sadly altered when I’m (hiccup) drunk.

Rupert: (to Benito.) You think the Count Castiglione altered —

I think so too. He was, not long ago,

Barring some trivial improprieties,

A very nobleman in heart and deed.

Benito: Now I’ve no faith in him, poor Lady Lalage!

So beautiful and kind.

Rupert: Truly Benito

His conduct there has damned him in my eyes.

O villain! villain! she his plighted wife

And his own father’s ward. I have noticed well

That we may date his ruin — so I call it —

His low debaucheries — his gambling habits

And all his numerous vices from the time

Of that most base seduction and abandonment.

Benito: We may: the sin sits heavy on his soul

And goads him to these courses. They say the Duke

Pardons his son, but is most wroth with her

And treats her with such marked severity

As humbles her to the dust.

Rupert: She sits alone

Continually in her chamber with clasped hands

(Jacinta tells me this).

Benito: Ah Noble lady!

I saw her yester eve thro’ the lattice-work

Of her chamber-window sobbing upon her knees

And ever and anon amid her sobs

She murmured forth Castiglione’s name

Rupert, she loves him still!

Rupert: How will she bear

Think you, the consummation of these nuptials?

Tomorrow week are they not?

Benito: Most true! they are.

Tomorrow week Castiglione weds

His cousin Alessandra. She was the friend

The bosom friend of the fair lady Lalage

Ere this mischance. I cannot bear to think

On the despair of the young lady Lalage.

Ugo: This wine’s not bad! gentlemen why d’ye blame

My master in this matter? very good (hiccup) wine!

Who is my lady Lalage? God knows!

I don’t, a super(hiccup)ciliary somebody

Who play’d on the guitar! most excellent wine!

And pride should have a fall. The count’s a rake

Or was, that very sure, but he’s reforming

And drinks none but the very (hiccup!) best of wine.

Rupert: Let us to bed! the man is steeped in liquor.

(to Benito.) Come let us to bed (Exeunt Rupertand Benito.)

Ugo: (arousing.) What did they say? to bed!

Is it so late? is it all gone? very well!

I will to bed anon (Enter Jacinta) ah! bless my eyes!

Jacinta! is it you?

Jacinta: Why, yes it is And yet it isn’t, Ugo, there’s a riddlel

I was Jacinta yesternight, but now Madam Jacinta if you please, Sir Ugo!

Ugo: Sweetheart, I fear me (hiccup!) very much (hiccup!) that you

Have been at the bottle — a pretty madam truly!

Jacinta: You may well say that Sir Ugo — very pretty!

At all events the Count Castiglione

Tells me I’m pretty — drunken dolt look here! (Showing some jewels)

Ugo: (Hiccup!) where?

Jacinta: Here! — look here!

Ugo: Jacinta! (hiccup!) why, Jacinta!

You do not mean to say the count my master

Gave you those jewels!

Jacinta: What if he did friend Ugo? What if he did?

Ugo: Look here! — I’ll take my oath

I saw that very ring upon the finger

The middle — the fore — no on the little finger

Of the Count. I’m (hiccup!) done with You Jacinta!

O you vile wretch! I’ll (hiccup!) not have you Jacinta!

I’m in despair! I’ll (hiccup!) do some desperate deed!

I’m desperate!

Jacinta: You’re drunk!

Ugo: I’m going to cut —

Jacinta: Your throat! O Heaven!

Ugo: To cut you altogether! I’m gone Jacinta. (going.)

Jacinta: (pulling him back.) Stop! you snivelling fool!

Will you not see the jewels — look you here!

This broach — these pearls — these rubies — don’t you see?

Ugo: (sulkily.) I see.

Jacinta: These emeralds and this topaz! — won’t you see?

Ugo: I see.

Jacinta: You see! you see! can I get nothing more

Out of your ugly mouth but “I see, I see”? —

Dolt I’m not sure you see — or if you see

You certainly see double. Here’s a cross

A cross of rubies, you oaf! a cross of rubies!

D’ye hear — a cross which never cost a zecchin

Less than five thousand crowns!

Ugo: I see, oh I (hiccup!) see it all. (looking knowing.)

Jacinta: You see it all!

You do not see it all. Heaven grant me patience!

You do not see it all (mocking him) you do not see

That I’m the richest waiting maid in Rome

The richest vintner’s daughter owning these jewels!

You do not see, I say, that my mistress Lalage

Who gave them to me, d’ye hear? who gave them to me

As a free gift, and for a marriage present

(All of her jewels! — every one of them!)

Is certainly gone mad!

Ugo: The lady Lalage

Gave you the jewels! How (hiccup!) came you by the ring?

Jacinta: The count Castiglione, your sweet master

Gave it her as a token of his love

Last year — she gave it to me — d’ye see?

Ugo: Jacinta! (with a leer.)

Jacinta: Ugo! (returning it.)

Ugo: What dear Jacinta?

Jacinta: Do you see?

Ugo: Oh, nonsense, sweet Jacinta, let me look

Again (hiccup!) at the jewesl

Jacinta: D’ye see?

Ugo: Pshaw! — let me look!

Jacinta: D’ye see? (going and holding up the jewels.)

Ugo: Sweet, dear, Jacinta! madame Jacinta.

Jacinta: Oh I see. (Puts them up and exit followed by Ugostaggering.)

II.

Castiglione’s dressing-room. Castiglione(in dishabille) and San Ozzo.

San Ozzo: An excellent joke!

I’ faith an excellent joke!

Ha! ha! hat ha! — a most superlative joke!

I shall die, Castiglione, I shall die!

Ha! ha! ha! ha! — Oh, I shall die of laughing!

I shall die, I shall die.

Castiglione: (sullenly.) I meant it for no joke.

San Ozzo: Oh no! oh no! — you meant it for no joke.

Not you! — ha! ha! ha! ha! — I’ll die, I’ll die!

It’s a very serious business I assure you

To get drunk — a very serious business — excellent!

So you’ve turned penitent at last — bravo!

Why, Cast I’ve got a string of beads at home

(I’ll send them to you) — a bundle of paternosters

(You shall have them all) a robe of sackcloth too  

I used at a masquerade, you shall have it — you shall have it!

And I’ll go home and send you in a trice A tub of excellent ashes!

Castiglione: San Ozzo! have done for — (hesitating.)

San Ozzo: Oh! I am — I am done for — completely done for — I’ll die!

I shall die of laughing — yes! I’m done for — I’m done fort

Castiglione: (sternly.) San Ozzo!

San Ozzo: Sir?

Castiglione: I am serious.

San Ozzo: I know it — very!

Castiglione: Why then do you worry me with these ribald jests

I’ve the headache, and besides I am not well

Either in body or soul. When saw you last

The lady — Lalage?

San Ozzo: Not for eleven months. What could have put that creature in your head?

Castiglione: (fiercely.) San Ozzo!

San Ozzo: (calmly.) Sir?

Castiglione: (after a pause.) Nothing. When did you say

You spoke to the Lady Lalage?

San Ozzo: Sir Count, I have not seen her for eleven months.

The Duke your father, as you very well know,

Keeps her secluded from society

And, between you and I, he’s right in it:

Ha! ha! you understand?

Castiglione: Not I, San Ozzo!

I do not understand.

San Ozzo: Well! well! no matter (sings.)

Birds of so fine a feather

And of so wanton eye

Should be caged — should be caged

Should be caged in all weather

Lest they fly!

Castiglione: San Ozzo! you do her wrong — unmanly wrong

Never in woman’s breast enthroned sat

A purer heart! If ever woman fell

With an excuse for falling it was she!

If ever plighted vows most sacredly

Solemnly sworn perfidiously broken

Will damn a man, that damned villain am I!

Young, ardent, beautiful, and loving well

And pure as beautiful, how could she think —

How could she dream, being herself all truth

Of my black perfidy? Oh that I were not

Castiglione but some peasant hind

The humble tiller of some humble field

That I might dare be honest!

San Ozzo: Exceeding fine!

I never heard a better speech in my life.

Besides you’re right — Oh! honesty’s the thing!

Honesty, poverty, and true content,

With the unutterable extacies

Of butternuts, gingerbread, and milk and water!

Castiglione: (trying to suppress a smile.) San Ozzo you are a fool!

San Ozzo: He’s right again. My lord, I’m going home,

Ere I be tainted with your wisdomship.

Good day! — I crave your patronage however

When you become a cardinal: meantime

I’ll take the opportunity of sending

The sackcloth and the ashes.    (Exit.)

Castiglione: Get you gone

You merry devil! ha! ha! he makes me laugh

Spite of myself. One can’t be angry with him

For the life of one. After all I don’t see why

I should so grieve about this little matter

This every-day occurrence. Marry her — no!

Castiglione wed him with a wanton!

Never! — oh never! — what would they say at the club?

What would San Ozzo think? I have no right

Had I the will, to bring such foul disgrace

Upon my family — Di Broglio’s line

Di Broglio’s haughty and time-honoured line!

No right at all to do it. Am I not bound too

By the most sacred ties of honor bound

To my cousin Alessandra? Honor’s the thing!

I can not pawn my honor! and Lalage

Is lowly born — I can not pawn my honor.

My honor — my honor. Pshaw! Pshaw! ‘tis but the headache -

The consequence of yestereve’s debauch —

Gives me these qualms of conscience. Be a man!

A man, Castiglione, be a man!

A glass of wine will put you all to rights. Ugo! — do you hear there? — wine!

(Enter Ugo, bearing a bundle and a basket full of bottles.)

What the devil’s that?

Ugo: (hesitatingly.) My lord!

Castiglione: What’s that I say? — where is the wine?

Ugo: My lord! — the wine? — here is some wine my lord —

A dozen bottles, my lord.

Castiglione: A dozen fools!

Bring me a glass of wine!

Ugo: A dozen bottles

So please you, Sir, of best Salermo brand

Sent as a present by his reverence

The Count San Ozzo.

Castiglione: Really I’m much obliged

(smiling) To his reverence — did you not say his reverence?

Uncork a bottle, Ugo, and let me see

What it is made of.

Ugo: No, Sir, you can’t have any.

Castiglione: How, Sir! — not have it? — what do you mean by that?

Ugo: Not a drop, Sir, — not a drop.

Castiglione: And why? you ass.

Ugo: Why, Sir, you see, the servant who brings it says

You’re not to have the wine, only your choice.

Castiglione: What does the idiot mean?

Ugo: There’s another present Down in the hall, Sir, — you’re to have your choice

Of the wine or of that.

Castiglione: Blockhead! why don’t you bring

The other present in?

Ugo: Eh? — Sir?

Castiglione: Dolt! dunderhead! why don’t you bring me up

The other present and let me see it?

Ugo: I can’t.

Castiglione: You can’t! you villain? I’ll try and make you then!

(in a passion) Scoundrel bring it up! What’s that you have on your shoulder?

Ugo: Sir? — it’s the sackcloth, and that down below

(throwing down the bundle) ‘S a monstrous tub of ashes — I can’t lift it.

Castiglione: A monstrous tub of ashes! San Ozzo’s a fool!

Ha! hat ha! ha! too bad upon my soul!

A tub of ashes! too bad! I can’t be angry

If I should die for it — to have my choice

The wine or the ashes! Ugo, send word to the Count

Ha! ha! ha! ha! — Ugo send word to the Count

I’ll keep the wine, and he may have the ashes.

Stay! — tell him I’ve been thinking — I’ve been thinking

Of what he said — he knows — and that I’ll meet him

At the masquerade, and afterwards crack a bottle

(Exit Ugo)

With him and the buffo-singer. Ha! ha! ha!

Only to think of that! a tub of ashes!

Ha! ha! ha! ha! I can’t be angry with him!

He’s a fine fellow after all, San Ozzo! (Exit.)

III.

ROME. — A Hall in a Palace.  Alessandraand 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!

Alessandra: Methinks thou hast a singular way of showing

Thy happiness! — what ails thee, cousin of mine?

Why didst thou sigh so deeply?

 

Castiglione: 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.)

 

Alessandra: 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.

 

Castiglione: (musing.)  Nothing, fair cousin, nothing — not even deep sorrow —

Wears it away like evil hours and wine.

I will amend.

 

Alessandra: 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.

 

Castiglione:  I will drop them.

 

Alessandra:   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.

 

Castiglione:  I’ll see to it.

 

Alessandra: Then see to it! — pay more attention, sir,

To a becoming carriage — much thou wantest

In dignity.

 

Castiglione:  Much, much, oh much I want

In proper dignity.

 

Alessandra: (haughtily.)  Thou mockest me, sir!

 

Castiglione: (abstractedly.)  Sweet, gentle Lalage!

 

Alessandra: 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?

 

Castiglione: (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.

 

Alessandra: What! Politian

Of Britain, Earl of Leicester?

 

Di Broglio:   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 Rumour 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.

 

Alessandra: I have heard much of this Politian.

Gay, volatile and giddy — is he not?

And little given to thinking.

 

Di Broglio:   Far from it, love.

No branch, they say, of all philosophy

So deep abstruse he has not mastered it.

Learned as few are learned.

 

Alessandra: ’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,

Drinking the cup of pleasure to the dregs.

 

Castiglione:  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 Broglio:   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.)

IV.

A Lady’s apartment, with a window open and looking into a garden. Lalage, in deep mourning, reading at a table on which lie some books and a hand mirror. In the background Jacinta (a servant maid) leans carelessly upon a chair.

Lalage: Jacinta! is it thou?

 

Jacinta: (pertly.) Yes, Ma’am, I’m here.

 

Lalage:   I did not know, Jacinta, you were in waiting.

Sit down! — Let not my presence trouble you —

Sit down! — for I am humble, most humble.

 

Jacinta: (aside.) ’Tis time.

(Jacinta seats herself in a side-long manner upon the chair, resting her elbows upon the back, and regarding her mistress with a contemptuous look. Lalage continues to read.)

Lalage: “It in another climate, so he said,

“Bore a bright golden flower, but not i’ [[in]] this soil!”

(pauses — turns over some leaves, and resumes.)

“No lingering winters there, nor snow, nor shower —

“But Ocean ever to refresh mankind

“Breathes the shrill spirit of the western wind.”

Oh, beautiful! — most beautiful! — how like

To what my fevered soul doth dream of Heaven!

O happy land! (pauses.) She died! — the maiden died!

O still more happy maiden who couldst die!

Jacinta!

(Jacinta returns no answer, and Lalage presently resumes.)

Again! — a similar tale

Told of a beauteous dame beyond the sea!

Thus speaketh one Ferdinand in the words of the play —

“She died full young” — one Bossola answers him —

“I think not so — her infelicity

“Seemed to have years too many” — Ah luckless lady!

Jacinta! (still no answer.)

Here’s a far sterner story

But like — oh, very like in its despair —

Of that Egyptian queen, winning so easily

A thousand hearts — losing at length her own.

She died. Thus endeth the history — and her maids

Lean over and weep — two gentle maids

With gentle names — Eiros and Charmion!

Rainbow and Dove! —— Jacinta!

 

Jacinta: (pettishly.) Madam, what is it?

 

Lalage:   Wilt thou, my good Jacinta, be so kind

As go down in the library and bring me

The Holy Evangelists.

 

Jacinta: Pshaw!   (exit.)

 

Lalage: If there be balm

For the wounded spirit in Gilead it is there!

Dew in the night time of my bitter trouble

Will there be found — “dew sweeter far than that

Which hangs like chains of pearl on Hermon hill.”

(re-enter Jacinta, and throws a volume on the table.)

There, ma’am,’s the book. Indeed she is very troublesome. (aside.)

Lalage: (astonished.)  What didst thou say, Jacinta? Have I done aught

To grieve thee or to vex thee? — I am sorry.

For thou hast served me long and ever been

Trust-worthy and respectful.

(resumes her reading.)

 

Jacinta: I can’t believe

She has any more jewels — no — no — she gave me all. (aside.)

Lalage: What didst thou say, Jacinta? Now I bethink me

Thou hast not spoken lately of thy wedding.

How fares good Ugo? — and when is it to be?

Can I do aught? — is there no farther aid

Thou needest, Jacinta?

 

Jacinta: Is there no farther aid!

That’s meant for me. (aside) I’m sure, madam, you need not

Be always throwing those jewels in my teeth.

 

Lalage: Jewels! Jacinta, — now indeed, Jacinta,

I thought not of the jewels.

 

Jacinta: Oh! perhaps not!

But then I might have sworn it. After all,

There’s Ugo says the ring is only paste,

For he’s sure the Count Castiglione never

Would have given a real diamond to such as you;

And at the best I’m certain, Madam, you cannot

Have use for jewels now. But I might have sworn it. (exit.)

(Lalage bursts into tears and leans her head upon the table — after a short pause raises it.)

Lalage:   Poor Lalage! — and is it come to this?

Thy servant maid! — but courage! — ‘tis but a viper

Whom thou hast cherished to sting thee to the soul!

(taking up the mirror)

Ha! here at least’s a friend — too much a friend

In earlier days — a friend will not deceive thee.

Fair mirror and true! now tell me (for thou canst)

A tale — a pretty tale — and heed thou not

Though it be rife with woe: It answers me.

It speaks of sunken eyes, and wasted cheeks,

And Beauty long deceased — remembers me

Of Joy departed — Hope, the Seraph Hope,

Inurned and entombed! — now, in a tone

Low, sad, and solemn, but most audible,

Whispers of early grave untimely yawning

For ruined maid. Fair mirror and true! — thou liest not!

Thou hast no end to gain — no heart to break —

Castiglione lied who said he loved ——

Thou true — he false! — false! — false!

(While she speaks, a monk enters her apartment, and approaches unobserved.)

Monk: Refuge thou hast,

Sweet daughter! in Heaven. Think of eternal things!

Give up thy soul to penitence, and pray!

 

Lalage: (arising hurriedly.)  I cannot pray! — My soul is at war with God!

The frightful sounds of merriment below

Disturb my senses — go! I cannot pray —

The sweet airs from the garden worry me!

Thy presence grieves me — go! — thy priestly raiment

Fills me with dread — thy ebony crucifix

With horror and awe!

 

Monk: Think of thy precious soul!

 

Lalage:   Think of my early days! — think of my father

And mother in Heaven! think of our quiet home,

And the rivulet that ran before the door!

Think of my little sisters! — think of them!

And think of me! — think of my trusting love

And confidence — his vows — my ruin — think — think

Of my unspeakable misery! —— begone!

Yet stay! yet stay! — what was it thou saidst of prayer

And penitence? Didst thou not speak of faith

And vows before the throne?

 

Monk:   I did.

 

Lalage: ’Tis well.

There is a vow were fitting should be made —

A sacred vow, imperative, and urgent,

A solemn vow!

 

Monk: Daughter, this zeal is well!

 

Lalage:   Father, this zeal is anything but well!

Hast thou a crucifix fit for this thing?

A crucifix whereon to register

This sacred vow?  (he hands her his own.)

Not that — Oh! no! — no! — no! (shuddering.)

Not that! Not that! — I tell thee, holy man,

Thy raiments and thy ebony cross affright me!

Stand back! I have a crucifix myself, —

I have a crucifix! Methinks ‘twere fitting

The deed — the vow — the symbol of the deed —

And the deed’s register should tally, father!

(draws a cross-handled dagger and raises it on high.)

Behold the cross wherewith a vow like mine

Is written in Heaven!

 

Monk: Thy words are madness, daughter,

And speak a purpose unholy — thy lips are livid —

Thine eyes are wild — tempt not the wrath divine!

Pause ere too late! — oh be not — be not rash!

Swear not the oath — oh swear it not!

 

Lalage: ’Tis sworn!

V.

A room in the palace of Di Broglio: Di Broglioand Castiglione:

Castiglione: [[. . . about twenty or thirty lines are lost from the manuscript . . .]] Undoubtedly.

Duke: Why do you laugh?

Castiglione: Indeed

I hardly know myself. Stay! was it not

On yesterday we were speaking of the Earl?

Of the Earl Politian? Yes it was yesterday.

Alessandra, you and I, you must remember!

We were walking in the garden.

Duke: Perfectly

I do remember it — what of it? — what then?

Castiglione: O nothing — nothing at all.

Duke: Nothing at all!

It is most singular now that you should laugh

At nothing at all!

Castiglione: Most singular — singular!

Duke: Look you, Castiglione, be so kind

As tell me, Sir, at once what is’t you mean. What are you talking of?

Castiglione: Was it not so?

We differed in opinion touching him.

Duke: Him! — whom?

Castiglione: Why, Sir, the Earl Politian.

Duke: The Earl of Leicester! — yes! — is it he you mean?

We differed indeed. If I now recollect

The words you used were that the Earl you knew

Was neither learned nor mirthful.

Castiglione: Ha! ha! — now did I?

Duke: That did you, Sir, and well I knew at the time

You were wrong — it being not the character

Of the Earl — whom all the world allows to be

A most hilarious man. Be not, my son,

Too positive again.

Castiglione: ’Tis singular!

Most singular! I could not think it possible

So little time could so much alter one!

To say the truth about an hour ago

As I was walking with the Count San Ozzo

All arm in arm we met this very man

The Earl — he with his friend Baldazzar

Having just arrived in Rome. Ha! ha! he is altered!

Such an account he gave me of his journey!

‘Twould have made you die with laughter — such tales he told

Of his caprices and his merry freaks

Along the road — such oddity — such humour

Such wit — such whim — such flashes of wild merriment

Set off too in such full relief by the grave

Demeanour of his friend — who to speak the truth

Was gravity itself.

Duke: Did I not tell you?

Castiglione: You did — and yet ‘tis strange! but true as strange.

How much I was mistaken! I always thought The Earl a gloomy man.

Duke: So, So, you see.

Be not too positive. Whom have we here?

It cannot be the Earl?

Castiglione: The Earl! oh, no!

’Tis not the Earl — but yet it is — and leaning

Upon his friend Baldazzar. Ah! welcome, Sirl

(Enter Politianand Baldazzar.)

My Lord! a second welcome let me give you

To Rome — his Grace the Duke of Broglio.

Father! this is the Earl Politian, Earl

Of Leicester in Great Britain, (Politian bows haughtily) this his friend

Baldazzar, Duke of Surrey. The Earl has letters,

So please you for your Grace.

Duke: Ah — ha! most welcome

To Rome and to our palace Earl Politian!

And you most noble Duke! am glad to see you!

I knew your father well, my lord Politian.

Castiglione! call your cousin hither

And let me make the noble Earl acquainted

With your betrothed. You come, Sir, at a time

Most seasonable. The wedding —

Politian: Touching those letters, Sir,

Your son made mention of — (your son is he not?)

Touching those letters, Sir, I wot not of them.

If such there be, my friend Baldazzar here —

Baldazzar! — ah! — my friend Baldazzar here

Will hand them to your Grace. I would retire.

Duke: Retire! — so soon?

Castiglione: What ho! Benito! Rupert!

His lordship’s chambers — show his lordship to them!

His lordship is unwell! (Enter Benito.)

Benito: This way my lord! (Exit followed by Politian:)

Duke: Retire! — unwell!

Baldazzar: So please you, Sir, I fear me

’Tis as you say — his lordship is unwell.

The damp air of the evening — the fatigue

Of a long journey — the — indeed I had better

Follow his lordship. He must be unwell.

I will return anon.

Duke: Return anon!

Now this is very strange! Castiglione!

This way, my son, I wish to speak with thee.

You surely were mistaken in what you said

Of the Earl, mirthful indeed! — which of us said

Politian was a melancholy man? (Exeunt.)

VI.

An apartment in a palace. Politian and Baldazzar.

Baldazzar. ——— Arouse thee now, Politian!

Thou must not — nay indeed, indeed, thou shalt not

Give way unto these humours. Be thyself!

Shake off the idle fancies that beset thee,

And live, for now thou diest!

 

Politian.   Not so, Baldazzar!

Surely I live.

 

Baldazzar. Politian, it doth grieve me

To see thee thus.

 

Politian.   Baldazzar, it doth grieve me

To give thee cause for grief, my honoured friend.

Command me, sir! what wouldst thou have me do?

At thy behest I will shake off that nature

Which from my forefathers I did inherit,

Which with my mother’s milk I did imbibe,

And be no more Politian, but some other.

Command me, sir!

 

Baldazzar.   To the field then — to the field —

To the senate or the field.

 

Politian. Alas! alas!

There is an imp would follow me even there!

There is an imp hath followed me even there!

There is —— what voice was that?

 

Baldazzar.   I heard it not.

I heard not any voice except thine own,

And the echo of thine own.

Politian.   Then I but dreamed.

 

Baldazzar.   Give not thy soul to dreams: the camp — the court

Befit thee — Fame awaits thee — Glory calls —

And her the trumpet-tongued thou wilt not hear

In hearkening to imaginary sounds

And phantom voices.

 

Politian.   It is a phantom voice!

Didst thou not hear it then?

 

Baldazzar.   I heard it not.

 

Politian.   Thou heardst it not! —— Baldazaar, speak no more

To me, Politian, of thy camps and courts.

Oh! I am sick, sick, sick, even unto death,

Of the hollow and high-sounding vanities

Of the populous Earth! Bear with me yet awhile!

We have been boys together — school-fellows —

And now are friends — yet shall not be so long —

For in the eternal city thou shalt do me

A kind and gentle office, and a Power —

A Power august, benignant and supreme —

Shall then absolve thee of all further duties

Unto thy friend.

 

Baldazzar.   Thou speakest a fearful riddle

I will not understand.

 

Politian.   Yet now as Fate

Approaches, and the Hours are breathing low,

The sands of Time are changed to golden grains,

And dazzle me, Baldazzar. Alas! alas!

I cannot die, having within my heart

So keen a relish for the beautiful

As hath been kindled within it. Methinks the air

Is balmier now than it was wont to be —

Rich melodies are floating in the winds —

A rarer loveliness bedecks the earth —

And with a holier lustre the quiet moon

Sitteth in Heaven. — Hist! hist! thou canst not say

Thou hearest not now, Baldazzar?

 

Baldazzar.   Indeed I hear not.

 

Politian.   Not hear it! — listen now — listen! — the faintest sound

And yet the sweetest that ear ever heard!

A lady’s voice! — and sorrow in the tone!

Baldazzar, it oppresses me like a spell!

Again! — again! — how solemnly it falls

Into my heart of hearts! that eloquent voice

Surely I never heard — yet it were well

Had I but heard it with its thrilling tones

In earlier days!

 

Baldazzar.   I myself hear it now.

Be still! — the voice, if I mistake not greatly,

Proceeds from yonder lattice — which you may see

Very plainly through the window — it belongs,

Does it not? unto this palace of the Duke.

The singer is undoubtedly beneath

The roof of his Excellency — and perhaps

Is even that Alessandra of whom he spoke

As the betrothed of Castiglione,

His son and heir.

 

Politian.   Be still! — it comes again!

Voice

(very faintly.)

“And is thy heart so strong

As for to leave me thus

Who hath loved thee so long

In wealth and wo among?

And is thy heart so strong

As for to leave me thus?

       

Say nay — say nay!”

 

Baldazzar.   The song is English, and I oft have heard it

In merry England — never so plaintively —

Hist! hist! it comes again!

Voice

(more loudly.)

“Is it so strong

As for to leave me thus

Who hath loved thee so long

In wealth and wo among?

And is thy heart so strong

As for to leave me thus?

Say nay — say nay!”

 

Baldazzar.   ’Tis hushed and all is still!

 

Politian.   All is not still!

Baldazzar.   Let us go down.

Politian.   Go down, Baldazzar, go!

Baldazzar.   The hour is growing late — the Duke awaits us, —

Thy presence is expected in the hall

Below. What ails thee, Earl Politian?

Voice

(distinctly.)

“Who hath loved thee so long,

In wealth and wo among,

And is thy heart so strong?

 

Say nay — say nay!”

 

Baldazzar.   Let us descend! — ‘tis time. Politian, give

These fancies to the wind. Remember, pray,

Your bearing lately savoured much of rudeness

Unto the Duke. Arouse thee! and remember!

 

Politian.   Remember? I do. Lead on! I do remember.  (going.)

Let us descend. Believe me I would give,

Freely would give the broad lands of my earldom

To look upon the face hidden by yon lattice —

“To gaze upon that veiled face, and hear

Once more that silent tongue.”

 

Baldazzar.   Let me beg you, sir,

Descend with me — the Duke may be offended.

Let us go down, I pray you.

(Voice loudly.) Say nay! — say nay!

 

Politian. (aside.)  ’Tis strange! — ‘tis very strange — methought the voice

Chimed in with my desires and bade me stay!  (approaching the window.)

Sweet voice! I heed thee, and will surely stay.

Now be this Fancy, by Heaven, or be it Fate,

Still will I not descend. Baldazzar, make

Apology unto the Duke for me;

I go not down to-night.

 

Baldazzar.   Your lordship’s pleasure

Shall be attended to. Good night, Politian.

 

Politian.   Good night, my friend, good night.

VII.

The gardens of a palace — Moonlight.   Lalage and Politian.

Lalage.   And dost thou speak of love

To me, Politian? — dost thou speak of love

To Lalage? — ah wo — ah wo is me!

This mockery is most cruel — most cruel indeed!

 

Politian.   Weep not! oh, sob not thus! — thy bitter tears

Will madden me. Oh mourn not, Lalage —

Be comforted! I know — I know it all,

And still I speak of love. Look at me, brightest,

And beautiful Lalage! — turn here thine eyes!

Thou askest me if I could speak of love,

Knowing what I know, and seeing what I have seen.

Thou askest me that — and thus I answer thee —

Thus on my bended knee I answer thee.

(kneeling.)

Sweet Lalage, I love theelove theelove thee;

Thro’ good and ill — thro’ weal and wo I love thee.

Not mother, with her first born on her knee,

Thrills with intenser love than I for thee.

Not on God’s altar, in any time or clime,

Burned there a holier fire than burneth now

Within my spirit for thee. And do I love?

(arising.)

Even for thy woes I love thee — even for thy woes —

Thy beauty and thy woes.

 

    Lalage:   Alas, proud Earl,

Thou dost forget thyself, remembering me!

How, in thy father’s halls, among the maidens

Pure and reproachless of thy princely line,

Could the dishonored Lalage abide?

Thy wife, and with a tainted memory —

My seared and blighted name, how would it tally

With the ancestral honours of thy house,

And with thy glory?

 

Politian.   Speak not to me of glory!

I hate — I loathe the name; I do abhor

The unsatisfactory and ideal thing.

Art thou not Lalage and I Politian?

Do I not love — art thou not beautiful —

What need we more? Ha! glory! — now speak not of it!

By all I hold most sacred and most solemn —

By all my wishes now — my fears hereafter —

By all I scorn on earth and hope in heaven —

There is no deed I would more glory in,

Than in thy cause to scoff at this same glory

And trample it under foot. What matters it —

What matters it, my fairest, and my best,

That we go down unhonoured and forgotten

Into the dust — so we descend together.

Descend together — and then — and then perchance ——

 

Lalage:   Why dost thou pause, Politian?

 

Politian.   And then, perchance

Arise together, Lalage, and roam

The starry and quiet dwellings of the blest,

And still ——

 

Lalage:   Why dost thou pause, Politian?

 

Politian.   And still togethertogether.

 

Lalage:   Now Earl of Leicester!

Thou lovest me, and in my heart of hearts

I feel thou lovest me truly.

 

Politian.   Oh, Lalage!  (throwing himself upon his knee.)

And lovest thou me?

Lalage:   Hist! hush! within the gloom

Of yonder trees methought a figure past —

A spectral figure, solemn, and slow, and noiseless —

Like the grim shadow Conscience, solemn and noiseless.  (walks across and returns.)

I was mistaken — ‘twas but a giant bough

Stirred by the autumn wind. Politian!

 

Politian.   My Lalage — my love! why art thou moved?

Why dost thou turn so pale? Not Conscience’ self,

Far less a shadow which thou likenest to it,

Should shake the firm spirit thus. But the night wind

Is chilly — and these melancholy boughs

Throw over all things a gloom.

 

Lalage:   Politian!

Thou speakest to me of love. Knowest thou the land

With which all tongues are busy — a land new found —

Miraculously found by one of Genoa —

A thousand leagues within the golden west?

A fairy land of flowers, and fruit, and sunshine,

And crystal lakes, and over-arching forests,

And mountains, around whose towering summits the winds

Of Heaven untrammelled flow — which air to breathe

Is Happiness now, and will be Freedom hereafter

In days that are to come?

 

Politian.   O, wilt thou — wilt thou

Fly to that Paradise — my Lalage, wilt thou

Fly thither with me? There Care shall be forgotten,

And Sorrow shall be no more, and Eros be all.

And life shall then be mine, for I will live

For thee, and in thine eyes — and thou shalt be

No more a mourner — but the radiant Joys

Shall wait upon thee, and the angel Hope

Attend thee ever; and I will kneel to thee

And worship thee, and call thee my beloved,

My own, my beautiful, my love, my wife,

My all; — oh, wilt thou — wilt thou, Lalage,

Fly thither with me?

 

Lalage:   A deed is to be done —

Castiglione lives!

 

Politian.   And he shall die!

 

(exit.)

 

Lalage: (after a pause.)   And — he — shall — die! ——— alas!

Castiglione die? Who spoke the words?

Where am I? — what was it he said? — Politian!

Thou art not gone — thou art not gone, Politian!

I feel thou art not gone — yet dare not look,

Lest I behold thee not; thou couldst not go

With those words upon thy lips — O, speak to me!

And let me hear thy voice — one word — one word,

To say thou art not gone, — one little sentence,

To say how thou dost scorn — how thou dost hate

My womanly weakness. Ha! ha! thou art not gone —

O speak to me! I knew thou wouldst not go!

I knew thou wouldst not, couldst not, durst not go.

Villain, thou art not gone — thou mockest me!

And thus I clutch thee — thus! ——— He is gone, he is gone —

Gone — gone. Where am I? —— ‘tis well — ‘tis very well!

So that the blade be keen — the blow be sure,

’Tis well, ‘tis very well — alas! alas!

(exit.)

VIII.

A street near a Palace. Bells ringing and shouts heard in the distance. Several persons cross and recross the stage rapidly. Enter Benitowalking quickly, and followed by Rupertat the sane pace.

Rupert: What ho! Benito! did you say to-night?

Is it to night — the wedding?

Benito: To night I believe. (Exeunt.)

(Enter Jacintafantastically dressed, and bearing a flat band-box. She enters at first quickly — then saunteringly — and finally stops near the middle o f the stage, and is lost in the contemplation of the jewels upon one of her hands, which is ungloved. She at length sets down the band-box and looks at a watch hanging by her side.)

Jacinta: It is not late — o no! it is not late —

What need is there of hurry? I’ll answer for it

There’s time enough to spare — now let me see!

The wedding is to be at dark, and here

The day is not half done, — stay I can tell

To a minute how many hours there are between

This time and dark — one, two, three, four, five, six!

Six hours! why I can very easily do

The whole of my errands in two hours at farthest!

Who’d be without a watch? — these are pretty gloves!

I will not walk myself to death at all —

I won’t — I’ll take my time.

(Seats herself on a bank and kicks the bandbox to and fro with an air of nonchalance. Benitorecrosses the stage rapidly with a bundle.)

Look you Benito!

Benito! I say — Benito! — don’t you hear?

The impudent varlet not to answer me!

The wretch not even to deign to condescend

To see me, as I sit upon the bank

Looking so like a lady! I’m a lady!

I am indeed! — but after all I think

There is a difference between some ladies

And others — the ignorant, stupid, villain! —

Between my former mistress, Lalage,

For instance, and my present noble mistress

The lady Alessandra: I made a change

For the better I think — indeed I’m sure of it —

Besides, you know it was impossible

When such reports have been in circulation

To stay with her now. She’d nothing of the lady

About her — not a tittle! One would have thought

She was a peasant girl, she was so humble.

I hate all humble people! — and then she talked

To one with such an air of condescension.

And she had not common sense — of that I’m sure

Or would she, now — I ask you now, Jacinta,

Do. you, or do you not suppose your mistress

Had common sense or understanding when

She gave you all these jewels?

(Rupert recrosses the stage rapidly and without noticing Jacinta:)

That man’s a fool

Or he would not be in a hurry — he would have stopped —

If he had not been a fool he would have stopped —

Taken off his hat, and, making a low bow,

Said “I am most superlatively happy

To see you, Madam Jacinta:” Well I don’t know

Some people are fools by nature — some have a talent

For being stupid — look at that ass now, Ugo,

He thinks I’ll have him — but oh no! — I couldn’t.

He might as well, for all the use he makes of it,

Have been born without a head. Heigho! what’s this?

Oh! it’s the paper that my lady gave me,

With the list of articles she wants — ten yards

Of taffeta — sixteen of gold brocade —

And ten of Genoa velvet — one, two, three,

(As she counts, she tears a slip from the paper at each number, and arranges it on the floor in an abstracted manner.)

Four, five, six, seven — that’s it — now eight, nine, ten,

Ten yards — I can’t forget it now — ten yards —

Ten yards of velvet — I must try and get me

A dress of Genoa velvet — ‘tis becoming.

And I would look so like my lady in it!

Methinks I see her now — Oh! she’s a lady

Worth serving indeed — oh she has airs and graces

And dignity — yes! she has dignity.

(Arises and struts affectedly across the stage.)

And then she has a voice. Heavens! what a voice!

So loud, so lady-like, and so commanding!

“Jacinta, get me this” — “D’ye hear? — bring that”

“And tell the Count Castiglione I want him.”

Then “yes ma’am” I reply, and curtsey thus

Meekly and daintily thus. Oh! I’m a maid

One in a thousand for a dainty curtsey.

But when I get to be a lady — when

I wed the apothecary — oh then it will be

A different thing — a different thing indeed!

I’ll play my lady to a T, that will I.

I’ll be all dignity, and I’ll talk thus

“Ugo, you villain!” (Ugo shall be my servant)

(During this part of the soliloquy Ugoenters unperceived and in his astonishment treads upon the bandbox, and remains with his foot in it, as if stupefied.)

“Ugo you villain! — look you here, you rascal!

“You good-for-nothing, idle, lazy scoundrel!

“What are you doing here? Begone you ugly

“You silly, sulky, dirty, stupid idiot!

“Begone I say this minute — get out you viper.

“Get out you jackass! — out you vagabond!”

And then if he’s not gone in half a moment

I’ll turn about and let him have it (seeing Ugo whom she encounters in turning round) — who’s this

It’s he, by all that’s good, it is himself!

I’ll turn about and let him have it so — (striking him.) It’s as well now as any other time —

Thus — thus — I’ll let him have it thus — thus — thus.

You wretch! what are you doing with your foot

Stuffed in that bandbox? I’ll let him have it thus

Thus — thus — (Exit Ugo followed by Jacinta who throws the bandbox after him.)

IX.

The suburbs. Politianalone.

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 Paradisal Hope!

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.

Baldazzar: That knowing no cause of quarrel or of feud

Between the Earl Politian and himself.

He doth decline your cartel.

 

Politian: 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?

 

Baldazzar: That he, Castiglione, not being aware

Of any feud existing, or any cause

Of quarrel between your lordship and himself,

Cannot accept the challenge.

 

Politian: 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?

 

Baldazzar: No more, my lord, than I have told you, sir:

The Count Castiglione will not fight,

Having no cause for quarrel.

 

Politian: 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.

 

Baldazzar: My lord! — my friend! —

 

Politian: (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.

 

Baldazzar: I go — to-morrow we meet,

Do we not? — at the Vatican.

 

Politian: At the Vatican.

(exit Baldazzar.)

 

Enter Castigilone.

Castiglione:   The Earl of Leicester here!

 

Politian:   I am the Earl of Leicester, and thou seest,

Dost thou not? that I am here.

 

Castiglione:   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.

 

Politian:   Draw, villain, and prate no more!

 

Castiglione:  Ha! — draw? — and villain? have at thee then at once,

Proud Earl!

(draws.)

 

Politian:   (drawing.)   Thus to the expiatory tomb,

Untimely sepulchre, I do devote thee

In the name of Lalage!

 

Castiglione:  (letting fall 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 — indeed I dare not.

 

Politian:   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!

 

Castiglione:  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.

 

   Politian:   Now by my halidom

I do believe thee! — coward, I do believe thee!

 

   Castiglione: 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! my lord,

It is — it is — most true. In such a cause

I am the veriest coward. O pity me!

 

Politian: (greatly softened.)   Alas! — I do — indeed I pity thee.

 

Castiglione: And Lalage ——

 

Politian: Scoundrel!arise and die!

 

Castiglione: 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.

 

Politian: 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

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?

Thou liest! thou shalt!

(exit.)

 

Castiglione: Now this indeed is just!

Most righteous, and most just, avenging Heaven!

X.

[[The beginning of scene X is missing from the manuscript. The action takes place in the Hall of Di Broglio’s Palace. Ugo and San Ozzo.]]

[[Ugo: ————— ]] That’s flat (uttered with a curse.)

San Ozzo: D —— d if he does that’s flat! why — yes, that’s flat.

Extremely flat, and candid, and so forth

And sociable, and all that kind of thing

Damned if you do? — look you, you ignoramus

What is it you mean? is it your fixed intention

To lie all day in that especial manner

If so pray let me know!

Ugo: I’ll let you know

Nothing about it, and for the best of reasons

In the first place, Sir, I did not hear a word

Your honour said, and in the second, Sir,

I cannot talk at all. It’s very strange

You can’t perceive I’m dead!

San Ozzo: It’s very strange

I can’t perceive you’re dead? soho! I See!

(aside) I’ve heard before that such ideas as these

Have seized on human brains, still not believing

The matter possible. Ha! ha! I have itl

I wish to see the Count — he’ll not admit me —

Being in the dumps about this little matter

Touching Politian, who in the public streets

Called him a coward on yesterday forenoon,

Set him a laughing once, and he’ll forget

Both the Earl and himself. I’d bet a trifle now

I’ll make this idiot go and tell the Count

That he’s deceased — if so the game is up.

(aloud) So — so — you’re dead eh? come now — come Ugo!

Be candid with me — is it indeed a fact

And are you really dead?

Ugo: Not, Sir, exactly

Dead, so to say, but having just committed

Felo de se, I’m what they call deceased.

San Ozzo: Ah! I perceive — it’s positively so

Poor soul he’s gone! But now I think of it

Deceased is not the word.

What say you, Ugo?

Deceased is not the proper word to express

Your case with due exactitude.

Perhaps Defunct would suit it better.

Ugo: Sir! — I’m defunct.

San Ozzo: Ah — very well! — then I shall tell your master

That you’re defunct — or stop suppose I say —

I think there would be more of dignity

In saying “Sir Count, your worthy servant Ugo

Not being dead, nor yet to say deceased,

Nor yet defunct, but having unluckily

Made way with himself — that’s felo de se you know — go

Hath now departed this life.”

Ugo: Say that, Sir, say that!

For now, upon consideration, I think

I have — departed this life.

San Ozzo: I will — I’ll say it!

I will inform the Count — but not so fast —

I’m wrong — I must not do it — it were against

All rules of etiquette. This is a matter

Demanding due consideration, Ugo,

One of the last importance.

Do you not think

(You see I yield unto your better judgment)

Do you not think it were more fitting, Sir,

More decorous, you know, — you understand me?

More delicate, more proper, and all that —

That you should tell the circumstance yourself

Unto the Count — ha! — do you take me Sir!

’Tis the better plan, is it not?

Ugo: Why yes, it is.

San Ozzo: Undoubtedly — it is — you are right — get up!

And lose no time about it — be quick — get up!

Ugo: Get up? I can’t — Sir, I’ve been dead an hour And am stiff as you perceive.

San Ozzo: Well, yes, I do. You are a little — stiff — all very true.

I most sincerely pity you — but, Sir,

Could you not, think you, by a desperate effort,

Contrive to stir a little? let me help you?

Paugh! this will never do! — why, bless me, Sir,

Perhaps you’re not aware that — that — in short

The day is very sultry — and that a corpse

In very hot weather won’t — keep, you take me, Sir?

My nose is delicate, and to be plain

You smell, Sir, yes you smell — come now be quick!

Indeed I cannot will not answer for

The consequence of any longer stay

Sir, you may drop to pieces!

Ugo: Good God! that’s true! Lend me your hand, Sir, do!

San Ozzo: Ah that is well!

Extremely well attempted! — Sir I am glad

To see you on your legs, — a little stiff

No matter! — not ungraceful in a corpse.

Now Sir, this leg — a little farther — that’s it!

Most excellent! — ah! that is exquisite!

Now Sir the left — you have a genius, Ugo,

For putting out a leg! Pray Sir proceed!

Superlative! — now that’s what I call walking!

Magnificent! — a little farther, Sir!

Farewell! — now recollect you tell

The Count as I directed — you’ve departed

This life — you’re dead, deceased, defunct,

And all that sort of thing — ha! ha! ha! ha!

XI.

Interior of the Coliseum. Politianentering from behind — moonlight.

Politian: Shall meet me here within the Coliseum!

Type of the antique Rome — rich reliquary

Of lofty contemplation left to Time

By buried centuries of pomp and power!

At length at length after so many days

Of weary pilgrimage, and burning thirst

(Thirst for the springs of lore that in thee lie)

I stand, an altered and an humble man

Amid thy shadows, and so drink within

My very soul thy grandeur, gloom and glory!

She comes not, and the spirit of the place

Oppresses me!

Vastness and Age and Memories of Eld

Silence and Desolation and dim Night

Gaunt vestibules, and phantom-peopled aisles

I feel ye now — I feel ye in your strength!

O spells more sure than e’er Judxan king

Taught in the gardens of Gethsemane

O spells more potent than the rapt

Chaldee Ever drew down from out the quiet stars!

She comes not and the moon is high in Heaven!

Here where a hero fell, a column falls

Here where the mimic eagle glared in gold

A secret vigil holds the swarthy bat

Here where the dames of Rome their yellow hair

Waved to the wind, now wave the reed and thistle:

Here where on ivory couch the Caear sate

On bed of moss lies gloating the foul adder:

Here where on golden throne the monarch lolled

Glides spectre-like unto his marble home

Lit by the wan light of the horned moon

The swift and silent lizard of the stones.

These crumbling walls — these tottering arcades

These mouldering plinths — these sad and blackened shafts

These vague entablatures: this broken frieze

These shattered cornices, this wreck, this ruin,

These stones, alas! these grey stones are they all

All of the great and the colossal left

By the corrosive hours to Fate and me?

Not all the echoes answer me — not all:

Prophetic sounds and loud arise forever

From us and from all ruin unto the wise,

As from the granite Memnon to the sun.

We rule the hearts of mightiest men: we rule

With a despotic sway all giant minds.

We are not desolate we pallid stones,

Not all our power is gone — not all our Fame

Not all the magic of our high renown

Not all the wonder that encircles us

Not all the mysteries that in us lie

Not all the memories that hang upon

And cling around about us as a garment

Clothing us in a robe of more than glory.

(Enter Lalage wildly) .

She comes.

Lalage: I come. And now the hour is come For vengeance or will never. So! the priest

Is standing by the altar — the robed priest!

And by him the bride — so beautiful — the bride

And in a bride’s array! and by the bride

The bridegroom — where art thou?

Politian: ’Tis true where am I? Not where I should be? — By the God of Heaven I’ll mar this bridal if at the altar’s foot

The bridegroom dies. (Exit)

Lalage: Away — Away — farewell Farewell Castiglione and farewell

My hope in Heaven! (Exit)


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Notes:

None.

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[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - Politian (reading copy)