페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

Why art thou silent? Wherefore holds thy tongne
Its peace, and not thy cheek ?

Huon. My cheek?

Duke. It talks!
A flush passed o'er it as I spoke to thee:
And now it talks again—and on the ground
Thou cast'st thine eye. “ Thou first must love"-My

friend,
Thou art in love already. Art thou not ?
Art thou not, Huon ?- Never mind, but keep
Thy secret. I have fixed that thou shalt marry.

Huon. My lord

Duke. (Interrupting him.) I know it will advantage thee.
And I have looked around my court to find
A partner for thee, and I have lit on one.

Huon. (More earnestly.) My lord-
Duke. (Interrupting him again.] She has beauty, Huon,

she has wealth;
And what doth qualify her better still-
As of unequal matches discords grow-
She's of thy own class, Huon-she is a serf.

Huon. (Impetuously.) My lord-
Duke. Interrupting, indignantly. My serf!-How

now! Wouldst thou rebel? Huon. Rebel, my lord !

Duke. I trust I was deceived:
I did not see defiance in thine eye,
And hear it on thy tongue? Thou wouldst not dare
So much as harbour wish to thwart thy lord,
Much less intent?. Thou know'st him! know'st thyself!
Thou may'st have scruples--that thou canst not help;
But thou canst help indulging them in the face
Of thy lord's will. And so, as 'tis my

will
Thou marry straight, and I have found thy match,
I'll draw a paper up, where thou shalt make
The proffer of thy hand to Catherine,
And thou shalt sign it, Huon.

(Writes. Huon. That I were dead! Oh, what is death, compared to slavery! “ Brutes may bear bondage—they were made for it, “ When Heaven set men above them; hut no mark, “ Definite and indelible, it put

Upon one man to mark him from another,
" That he should live his slave ?" Oh, heavy curse !
To have thought, reason, judgment, feelings, tastes,
Passions, and conscience, like another man,
And not have equal liberty to use them,
But call his mood their master! Why was I born
With passion to be free-with faculties
To use enlargement with desires that cleave
To high achievements—and with sympathies
Attracting me to objects fair and noble,
And
yet
with

power over myself as little
As any beast of burden? Why should I live ?
There are of brutes themselves that will not tame,
So high in them is nature ;-whom the spur
And lash, instead of curbing, only chafe
Into prouder mettle ;—that will let you kill them,
Ere they will suffer you to master them.
I am a man, and live.

Duke. Here, Huon, sign,
And Catherine is your wife.

Huon. I will not sign.
Duke. How now, my serf!

Huon. My lord, I am a man :
And as a man, owe duty higher far
Than that I owe to thee, which Heaven expects
That I discharge. Didst thou command me murder,
Steal, commit perjury, or even lie,
Should I do it, though thy serf ? No! To espouse her,
Not loving her, were murder of her peace.
I will not sign for that! With like default
To compass mastery of her effects,
Were robbery. I will not sign for that!
To swear what I must swear to make her mine,
Were perjury at the very altar! Therefore
I will not sign! To put forth plea of love,
Which not a touch of love bears witness to,
Were uttering a lie. And so, my lord,
I will not sign at all!

[Crosses, R. Duke. How, slave!

Huon. Oh, good my liege,
My lord, my master, ask me not to sign !
My sweat, my blood, use without sparing; but

Leave me my

heart-a

-a miserable one
Although it be! Coerce me not in that,
To make me do the thing my heart abhors !
I beg no more!

The Duke draws his sword, and resolutely approaches
Huon. At the same minute the Countess enters, un-

perccived, and stops short, R.
Duke. Huon, I love thee,
And would not do thee harm, unless compelled.
Thou shouldst not play with me, and shalt not. Take,
Therefore, thy choice-death, or the paper.
Huon. Death! (Falls on his knees, opens his vest, tukes

the point of the Duke's sword and places it opposite

his heart. Set here thy point : 'Tis right against my heart! Press firm and straight ; The more, the kinder!

(A pause. Duke. As thou wishest death, I will not kill thee for thy disobedience. An hour I grant for calm reflection :-use it. If, on the lapse of that brief space, I find The page without addition, thou may'st learn That even slavery hath its degrees, Which makes it sometimes sweet. Our felons throng The galleys: but 'tis hard, or we shall find A bench and oar for thee.

(Exit, L. Huon. My lord, come back ! My lord! What now's my mind, be sure 'twill be At the end of the hour! of the day! of my life !—My

lord !He does not hear, or will not. Most sweet cause Of most insufferable misery, Would'st thou not weep at this ? Couldst thou look on, And keep pride sitting in thy woman's eyeThe proper throne of pity—which for me, The melting queen has yet refused to fill, But to a stern usurper all abandoned ! Wouldst ihou not weep? “Or would my name alone

My sole condition set 'gainst all myself; "The vivid thoughts, the feelings sensitive, " The quick affections, passions of a man, “Despite his misery of birthright; flesh,

for me.

“Warm, warm; of as high vitality as though “ His lot had been an heirdom to a throne

Would that, prevailing 'gainst such odds as these, « Prevent thee ?" Yes! Thou wouldst not

weep Oh, knew I what would make thee! Would my corpse ? Then to my father! own my passion for thee, Tell him his serf aspires to love his daughter, Boasts of it, though he sends him to the galleys, Will glory in it, chained beside the felon, Ay, with the tasker's whip whirling above him, Reiterate it, when he-threatens me, And when again he threatens, justify it, On the broad rights of common human nature, Till with his own hand he transfixes me!

(Following the Duke, L. Countess. (Interposing.) Stop, Huon!- What's the mat

ter? Huon. Huon-Huon! Didst thou say Huon-and with gentleness? Madam-my mistress—I am your slave!~I am nothing But the poor serf!

Coun. See if that door is free From list'ners.

Huon. (Goes to the door, L., and returns.] There is no

one here.

Coun. Now, what's the matter With

my

father and you ?
Huon. He bade me sign that paper,
And I refused.

Coun. What is it? Let me see it.
Huon. (Hands the paper and watches the Countess while

she reads.) How her eye fastens on the writing

seems

To grasp it, as her hand the paper! What!
Did she start ? She did! Oh, wherefore ?- What is

this?
Her sweet face that just now was all a calm,
Show signs of brooding tempest! Yes, 'tis on-
Lowers on her brow, and flashes on her cheek,
Like cloud and lightning. How her bosom heaves !
What makes it heave? (She drops the paper.) She has let

the paper drop,

Yet there she stands as though she held it yet!
And where but now was all astir-now, all
Again is stillness! Dare I speak to her ?
She is like to faint-no-no-she breathes !
Her haughty spirit wakes in her again,
Towering, alas! as ne'er it did before.
Coun. After a violent struggle, giving way.] Huon, I

die!
Huon. Heavens !-Mercy!

Coun. [Bursting into tears.] It is over.
Do not speak to me! Let my tears flow on!

Huon. Flow they for me ?
Coun. I told you not to speak.

Huon. Sweet heaven! your voice in tears !
Your looks are tears; your air, your motions, all
Are tears ! floods! floods! to those that course your

cheeks, And fall more bright than diamonds on the hands Which now I clasp to thee in supplication, That thou wilt deign this once vouchsafe me audience, To give my fatal passion vent before thee For years pent up

within

my

wretched breastAnd then I'm mute forever!

Coun. Huon, peace-
I know thou lov'st me.

Huon. Thou know'st it, dost thou ?
And say'st it !-and mildly say'st it!
Not with a tone of scorn, not with a threat,
Nor accent yet of cold indifference
For the poor serf, who, body, soul, and all,
Not being worth a tithe of thee, yet dares
To love thee !-dares to wish for thee!--yes, wish,
Although he knows thee out of reach of him,
As the sun!—as the stars—a million, million times
Beyond the sun! The poor, despised serf,
Despised of himself—of thee—of every one-
Thou see'st he loves thee, and thou deign'st to say it !
Say it with pity-with most tender pity!
Behold’st him kneeling at thy feet, and know'st
The passion throws him there, and suffer'st him
To stay there!-Let him die there! Let him die
Al thy feet !

(Falls at her feet.

« 이전계속 »