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PROLOGUE

WRITTEN BY GEORGE CROLY, SPOKEN BY MR. H. KEMBLE.

TIME rushes o'er us; thick as evening clouds, Ages roll back: — what calls them from their shrouds? What in full vision brings their good and great, The men whose virtues make the nation's fate, The far, forgotten stars of humankind ? The STAGE — the mighty telescope of mind ! If later, luckless arts that stage profane, The actor pleads — not guilty of the stain : He, but the shadow flung on fashion's tide — Yours, the high will that all its waves must guide: Your voice alone the great reform secures, His, but the passing hour — the age is yours,

Our pledge is kept. Here yet no chargers wheel,
No foreign slaves on ropes or scaffolds reel,
No Gallic amazons, half naked, climb
From pit to gallery - the low sublime !
In Shakspeare's halls, shall dogs and bears engage?
Where brutes are actors, be a booth the stage !
And we shall triumph yet. The cloud has hung
Darkly above — but day shall spring — has sprung-
The tempest has but swept, not shook the shrine;
No lamp that genius lit has ceased to shine!
Still lives its sanctity. Around the spot
Hover high spirits — shapes of burning thought -
Viewless — but call them, on the dazzled eye
Descends their pomp of immortality:
Here, at your voice, Rowe, Otway, Southem come
Flashing like meteors through the age's gloom.
Perpetual here — king of th' immortal band,
Sits SHAKSPEARE crowned. He lifts the golden wand,
And all obey; - the visions of the past
Rise as they lived — soft, splendid, regal, vast.
Then Ariel harps along the enchanted wave,
Then the weird sisters thunder in their cave -
The spell is wound. Then shows his mightier art
The Moor's lost soul; the hell of Richard's heart;
And stamps, in fiery warning to all time,
The deep damnation of a tyrant's crime.

To-night we take our lesson from the tomb:
'Tis thy sad cenotaph, colossal Rome !
How is thy helmet cleft, thy banner low!
Ashes and dust are all thy glory now!
While o'er thy wreck a host of monks and slaves
Totter to “ seek dishonourable graves.”

The story is of Brutus, - in that name Towered to the sun her eagle's wing of flame !

When sank her liberty, that name of power
Poured hallowed splendours round its dying hour.
The lesson lived for man - that heaven ward blaze
Fixed on the pile the world's eternal gaze.

Unrivalled England ! to such memories thou This hour dost owe the laurel on thy brow; Those fixed, when earth was like a grave, thy tread Prophet and warrior !''twixt the quick and dead Those bade the war for man - those won the name That crowns thee — famed above all Roman fame,

Now, to our scene - we feel no idle fear, Sure of the hearts, the British justice here; If we deserve it, sure of your applause Then, hear for Rome, for England, for “our cause."

DRAMATIS PERSONA

BRUTUS.
TITUS.
SEXTUS TARQUIN.
ARUNS.
CLAUDIUS.
COLLATINUS.
VALERIUS.
LUCRETIUS.
HORATIUS.
CELIUS.
FLAVIUS CORUNNA.
CENTURION.
FIRST PLEBEIAN.
SECOND PLEBEIAN.
THIRD PLEBEIAN.
FOURTH PLEBEIAN.
FIFTH PLEBEIAN.
TULLIA.
TARQUINIA.
LUCRETIA.
LAVINIA.
PRIESTESS.

BRUTUS

ACT I

SCENE 1.-A STREET IN ROME

Enter VALERIUS and LUCRETIUS.

V

AL. Words are too feeble to express the horror

With which my soul revolts against this Tarquin;

By poison he obtained his brother's wife, Then, by a baser murder, grasped the crown! These

eyes beheld that agèd monarch thrown Down from the senate-house - his feeble limbs Bruised by the pavement

his time-honoured locks, –
Which from the very robber would have gained
Respect and veneration - bathed in blood !
With difficulty raised, and tottering homeward,
The murderers followed — struck him - and he died !

Luc. Inexpiable crime !

Val. High in her regal chariot, Tullia came
The corpse lay in the street. The charioteer
Turned back the reins in horror. “On, slave, on !
Shall dead men stop my passage to a throne?”
Exclaimed the parricide. The gore was dashed
From the hot wheels up to her diadem !

Luc. And Heaven's avenging lightnings were withheld !
Here rules this Tullia, while the king, her husband,
Wastes our best blood in giddy, guilty war!
Spirit of Marcus Junius !— Would the gods
Deign to diffuse thy daring through the land,
Rome from her trance with giant spirit would start,
Dash off her fetters, and amaze the world !

Val. Junius, didst say? Oh! tyranny long since
Had sunk — chained - buried in its native hell
But Tarquin, trembling at his virtues, murdered
Him and his elder son. The younger, Lucius,
Then on his travels, 'scaped the tyrant's sword,
But lost his reason at their fearful fall.

Luc. Ay, the same Lucius, who now dwells with Tarquin, The jest, the fool, the laughing-stock o' th' court,

Whom the young princes always carry with 'em
To be the butt of their unfeeling mirth.

Val. Hold ! I hear steps. Great things may yet be done,
If we are men, and faithful to our country.

[Exeunt.

SCENE II. - THE CAMP BEFORE ARDEA

Enter CLAUDIUS and ARUNS, laughing.
Aruns. There is no doctor for the spleen like Lucius.
What precious scenes of folly did he act
When, lately, through the glorious scenes of Greece,
He went with us to Delphi ! But, behold,
Where, full of business, his wise worship comes.

Enter LUCIUS JUNIUS.
Claud. Whither so fast, good Junius, tell us whither?

Luc. To Rome, to Rome - the queen demands my presence.
The state needs aid, and I am called to court. [They laugh.
Am I a fool? If so, you can not say
I'm the first fool graced by a monarch's favour.

Aruns. Why, Junius, travel has improved thy wit:
Thou speakest shrewdly.

Luc. Do I so, my lord ?
I'm always glad when you and I agree;
You have just such a wit as I should choose.
Would I could purchase such ! though it might split
My head, as confined air does - water bubbles !
Claud. How say you? Purchase? Prithee, what would'st

give ?
Luc. What would I give ? - ten acres of my land.
Aruns. Thy land! Where lies it?

Luc. Ask the king, my cousin :
He knows full well. I thank him, he's my steward,
And takes the trouble off my hands.

Claud. Who told thee so?

Luc. The king himself. Now twenty years are past, Or more, - since he sent for me from my farm. “Kinsman," said he, with a kind, gracious smile, “For the black crime of treason which was charged Against thy father and thy elder brother, Their lives have paid : for thee, as I love mercy, Live and be happy: simple is thy mind”

Aruns. True, kinsman, true — i' faith, 't is wondrous simple.

Luc. And that simplicity will be a pledge That thou wilt never plot against thy sovereign.”

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Claud. Indeed, for that I'll be your bondsman, Junius.

Luc. “Live in my house, companion of my children.
As for thy land, to ease thee of all care
I'll take it for thy use; all that I ask
Of thee, is gratitude.”

Aruns. And art thou not
Grateful for goodness so unmerited ?

Luc. Am I not? Never, by the holy gods,
Will I forget it! 'Tis my constant prayer
To Heaven, that I may one day have the power
To pay the debt I owe him. But stay — stay –
I brought a message to you from the king.

Aruns. Thank the gods, then, for thy good memory, fool!
Luc. The king, your father, sends for you to council,
Where he debates how best to conquer Ardea.
Shall I before, and tell him ye are coming ?

Claud. Ay, or behind, or with us, or stay here As thy wits prompt - as suits thy lofty pleasure.

[Exeunt ARUNS and CLAUDIUS, laughing. Luc. [Alone.] Yet, 't is not that which ruffles me — the gibes And scornful mockeries of ill-governed youth Or flouts of dastard sycophants and jesters Reptiles, who lay their bellies on the dust Before the frown of majesty !— All this I but expect, nor grudge to bear; the face I carry, courts it! Son of Marcus Junius ! When will the tedious gods permit thy soul To walk abroad in her own majesty, And throw this vizor of thy madness from thee, To avenge my father's and my brother's murder? (And sweet, I must confess, would be the draught !) Had this been all, a thousand opportunities I've had to strike the blow — and my own life I had not valued as a rush. But still There's something nobler to be done !— My soul, Enjoy the strong conception ! Oh! 't is glorious To free a groaning country – To see Revenge Spring like a lion from the den and tear These hunters of mankind ! Grant but the time, Grant but the moment, gods! If I am wanting, May I drag out this idiot-feignèd life To late old age, and may posterity Ne'er hear of Junius but as Tarquin's fool!

[Exit.

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