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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,
To-night we take our lesson from the tomb:
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
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."
SCENE 1.-A STREET IN ROME
Enter VALERIUS and LUCRETIUS.
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, –
Luc. Inexpiable crime !
Val. High in her regal chariot, Tullia came
Luc. And Heaven's avenging lightnings were withheld !
Val. Junius, didst say? Oh! tyranny long since
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
Val. Hold ! I hear steps. Great things may yet be done,
SCENE II. - THE CAMP BEFORE ARDEA
Enter CLAUDIUS and ARUNS, laughing.
Enter LUCIUS JUNIUS.
Luc. To Rome, to Rome - the queen demands my presence.
Aruns. Why, Junius, travel has improved thy wit:
Luc. Do I so, my lord ?
Luc. Ask the king, my cousin :
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.”
Claud. Indeed, for that I'll be your bondsman, Junius.
Luc. “Live in my house, companion of my children.
Aruns. And art thou not
Luc. Am I not? Never, by the holy gods,
Aruns. Thank the gods, then, for thy good memory, fool!
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!