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Be verified, turn back, and give some sign
What thou hast seen Thou can'st excuse this weakness,
Being thyself a father.
[Valerius gives the sign.
Ha ! — enough:
I understand thee: — Since it must be so,
Do your great pleasure, gods! Now, now it comes !
TITUS and TARQUINIA are brought in, guarded. Titus advances,
TARQUINIA remains in the background.
Tit. My father ! — Give me present death, ye powers !
Cent. What have I done! - Art thou the son of Brutus?
Tit. No, Brutus scorns to father such a son !
Oh, venerable judge, wilt thou not speak?
Turn not away; hither direct thine eyes,
And look upon this sorrow-stricken form,
Then to thine own great heart remit my plea,
And doom as nature dictates.
you'll anger him –
Be silent, and await! Oh, suffering mercy,
Plead in a father's heart, and speak for nature ! [BRUTUS turns away from his son, waves his hand to the Centurion
to remove him to a farther distance, and then walks forward
and calls COLLATINUS to him,
Bru. Come hither, Collatinus. The deep wound
You suffered in the loss of your Lucretia
Demanded more than fortitude to bear;
I saw your agony
- I felt your woe
Col. You more than felt it -you revenged it, too.
Bru. But, ah ! my brother consul, your Lucretia
Fell nobly, as a Roman spirit should —
She fell, a model of transcendent virtue.
Col. My mind misgives. What dost thou aim at, Brutus ?
Bru. That youth — my Titus — was my age's hope —
I loved him more than language can express
I thought him born to dignify the world.
Col. My heart bleeds for you — he may yet be saved
Bru. Consul for Rome I live — not for myself :
I dare not trust my firmness in this crisis,
Warring 'gainst everything my soul holds dear.
Therefore return without me to the Senate :
Haply my presence might restrain their justice.
Look that these traitors meet their trial straight, –
And then despatch a messenger to tell me
How the wise fathers have disposed of — Go!
[COLLATINUS goes out, attended, and as BRUTUS is departing, TAR
QUINIA rushes forward.]
Tar. Stop, - turn and hear the daughter of your king!
I speak for justice — mercy, thou hast none,
For him, your son :
By gratitude and love I drew him off —
I preserved his life !
Who shall condemn him for protecting mine?
Bru. We try the crime; the motive, Heaven will judge.
My honour he hath stabbed - I pardon that.
He hath done more — he hath betrayed his country.
That is a crime which every honest heart
That beats for freedom, every Roman feels,
And the full stream of justice must have way.
Tar. Because thy soul was never swayed by love,
Canst thou not credit what his bosom felt?
Bru. I can believe that beauty such as thine
May urge a thousand fascinating snares
To lure the wavering and confound the weak;
But what is honour, which a sigh can shake?
What is his virtue, whom a tear can melt?
Truth — valour — justice — constancy of soul
These are the attributes of manly natures :-
Be woman e'er so beauteous, man was made
For nobler uses than to be her slave.
Tar. Hard, unrelenting man! Are these the fruits
Of filial piety, — and hath thy son
Wearied the gods with pray'rs, till they restored
A mind, and gave thee reason? Would to Heaven
They'd given thee mercy, too ! 't would more become thee
Than these new ensigns, Brutus; more than all
Thy lictors, haughty consul, - or thy robes
Dipped in the blood, - oh, horror ! of a son !
Bru. No more By all the gods, I'll hear no more !
Tit. A word, for pity's sake. Before thy feet,
Humbled in soul, thy son and prisoner kneels -
Love is my plea : a father is my judge ;
Nature my advocate ! I can no more :
If these will not appease a parent's heart,
Strike through them all, and lodge thy vengeance here !
Bru. Break off! I will not, can not hear thee further!
The affliction nature hath imposed on Brutus,
Brutus will suffer as he may. Enough
That we enlarge Tarquinia. Go, be free !
Centurion, give her conduct out of Rome !
Lictors, secure your prisoner. Point your axes.
To the Senate
[Exeunt BRUTUS and Guards. Cent. Come, lady, you must part.
Tar. Part! Must we part?
You must not tear him from me; I will die
Embracing the sad ruin I have made.
Cent. You've heard the consul.
Tar. Thou hast heard the king,
Fought for him while he led you on to conquest.
Thou art a soldier, and should'st spurn an office
Which malefactors, though condemned for murder,
Would rather die by torture than perform.
Tit. If thou dost wish
That I should 'scape the peril of my fate,
I conjure thee to accord
To Brutus, and accept his promised safeguard.
Your words, your looks, your beauty, feed his wrath ;
In that fair face he reads my guilty love,
And pity Aies his heart. Let passion pause ;
Leave me to solitude, to silence leave me :
Then nature's gentlest whispers may be heard.
Tar. Say'st thou? Conduct me to the dreariest waste
That ever melancholy madness trod,
And let my swelling heart in silence burst;
Plunge me in darkness, shroud this fatal form
In everlasting night, I am content !
Lo! I obey! This is the test of love :
This is the sacrifice — I part to save thee ! [Officers advance.
Tit. See, I am warned. Farewell, my life's last joy.
When my eyes lose thy image, they may look
On death without dismay. To those blessed powers
Who gave thee every virtue, every grace
That can ensure perfection, I commit thee. [They embrace, and are torn asunder. Titus is carried off by the
Lictors, and TARQUINIA faints and is borne off by the Centurion and Guards.
SCENE II.- ROME – AN APARTMENT IN THE HOUSE OF BRUTUS
Bru. Like a lost, guilty wretch, I look around
And start at every footstep, lest it bring
The fatal news of my poor son's conviction ! -
Oh, Rome, thou little know'st — No more It comes.
Val. My friend, the Senate have to thee transferred
The right of judgment on thy son's offence.
Bru. To me !
Val. To thee alone.
Bru. What of the rest?
Val. Their sentence is already passed.
E'en now, perhaps, the lictor's dreaded hand
Cuts off their forfeit lives.
Bru. Say'st thou, that the Senate have to me referred
The fate of Titus ?
Val. Such is their sovereign will.
They think you merit this distinguished honour.
A father's grief deserves to be revered :
Rome will approve whatever you decree.
Bru. And is his guilt established beyond doubt?
Val. Too clearly.
Bru. Oh, ye gods ! ye gods! Valerius !
Val. What would'st thou, noble Roman?
Bru. 'T is said thou hast pulled down thine house, Valerius, The stately pile that with such cost was reared.
Val. I have; but what doth Brutus then infer?
Bru. It was a goodly structure : I remember How fondly you surveyed its rising grandeur. — With what a — fatherly - delight you summoned Each
grace and ornament, that might enrich The — child of
your creation, till it swelled
To an imperial size, and overpeered
The petty citizens, that humbly dwelt
Under its lofty walls, in huts and hovels,
Like emmets at the foot of tow'ring Ætna :
Then, noble Roman, then with patriot zeal,
Dear as it was, and valued, you condemned
And levelled the proud pile; and, in return,
Were by your grateful countrymen surnamed,
And shall to all posterity descend, -
Val. Yes, Brutus, I conceive
The awful aim and drift of thy discourse
But I conjure thee, pause! Thou art a father.
Bru. I am a Roman consul ! What, my friend,
Shall no one but Valerius love his country
Dearer than house, or property, or children?
Now, follow me; — and, in the face of Heaven,
I'll mount the judgment seat: there, see if Brutus
Feel not for Rome as warmly as Poplicola.
SCENE III. — EXTERIOR OF THE TEMPLE OF MARS— SENATORS,
CITIZENS, COLLATINUS, AND LUCRETIUS, DISCOVERED. A TRIBUNAL, WITH A CONSULAR CHAIR UPON IT
BRUTUS enters, followed by VALERIUS - he bows as he passes, and
ascends the tribunal.
Bru. Romans, the blood which hath been shed this day
Hath been shed wisely. Traitors, who conspire
Against mature societies, may urge
Their acts as bold and daring; and though villains,
Yet they are manly villains - But to stab
The cradled innocent, as these have done,
To strike their country in the mother-pangs
Of struggling child-birth, and direct the dagger
To freedom's infant throat — is a deed so black,
That my foiled tongue refuses it a name.
[A pause. There is one criminal still left for judgment
Let him approach.
Titus is brought in by the Lictors, with their axes turned edgewise
Romans, forgive this agony of grief -
My heart is bursting — Nature must have way
I will perform all that a Roman should -
I can not feel less than a father ought ! [Gives a signal to the Lictors to fall back, and advances from the
Well, Titus, speak - how is it with thee now?
Tell me, my son, art thou prepared to die?
Tit. Father, I call the powers of heaven to witness
Titus dares die, if so you have decreed.
The gods will have it so?
Bru. They will, my Titus :
Nor heav'n, nor earth, can have it otherwise.
It seems as if thy fate were pre-ordained
To fix the reeling spirits of the people,
And settle the loose liberty of Rome.
'T is fixed ; -oh, therefore, let not fancy cheat thee :
So fixed thy death, that 't is not in the power
Of mortal man to save thee from the axe.