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2.--VANOC AND VALENS, IN THE TRAGEDY OF THE BRITON.
Van. Now, tribune!
Val. Health to Vanoc.
Van. Speak your business.
Val. I come not as a herald, but a friend:
And I rejoice that Didius chose out me
To greet a prince in my esteem the foremost.
Van. So much for words.-
-Now to your purpose, tribune. Val. Sent by our new lieutenant, who in Rome And since from me has heard of your renown, I come to offer peace; to reconcile Past enmities; to strike perpetual league
With Vanoc; whom our emperor invites
To terms of friendship; strictest bonds of union.
Van. We must not hold a friendship with the Romans.
Val. Why must you not?
Van. Virtue forbids it.
You thought our friendship was your greatest glory.
Van. I thought you honest.-I have been deceived.-
Would you deceive me twice? No, tribune; no!
You sought for war,-maintain it as you may.
Val. Believe me, prince, your vehemence of spirit,
Prone ever to extremes, betrays your judgment.
Would you once coolly reason on our conduct-
Van. O, I have scanned it thoroughly-Night and day
I think it over, and I think it base;
Most infamous! let who will judge-but Romans.
Did not my wife, did not my menial servant,
Seducing each the other, both conspire
Against my crown, against my fame, my life?
Did they not levy war and wage rebellion ?
And when I would assert my right and power
As king and husband, when I would chastise
Two most abandoned wretches-who but Romans
Opposed my justice and maintained their crimes?
Val. At first the Romans did not interpose,
But grieved to see their best allies at variance.
Indeed, when you turned justice into rigour,
And even that rigour was pursued with fury,
We undertook to mediate for the queen,
And hoped to moderate-
Van. To moderate !
What would you moderate?-my indignation,
The just resentment of a virtuous mind?
To mediate for the queen!-you undertook?
Wherein concerned it you, but as you love
To exercise your insolence? Are you
To arbitrate my wrongs? Must I ask leave,
Must I be taught to govern my own household?
Am I then void of reason and of justice?
When in my family offences rise,
Shall strangers, saucy intermeddlers, say,
Thus far, and thus you are allowed to punish?
When I submit to such indignities;
When I am tamed to that degree of slavery-
Make me a citizen, a senator of Rome,
To watch, to live upon the smile of Claudius;
To give my wife and children to his pleasures,
To sell my country with my voice for bread.
Val. Prince, you insult upon this day's success;
You may provoke too far-but I am cool-
I give your answer scope.
Van. Who shall confine it?—
The Romans ?-Let them rule their slaves-I blush,
That, dazzled in my youth with ostentation,
The trappings of the men seduced my virtue.
Val. Blush rather that you are a slave to passion;
Subservient to the wildness of your will;
Which, like a whirlwind, tears up all your virtues,
And gives you not the leisure to consider.
Did not the Romans civilize you?
Van. No. They brought new customs and new vices over, Taught us more arts than honest men require,
And gave us wants that nature never knew
Val. We found you naked
Van. And you found us free.
Val. Would you be temperate once, and hear me out--Van. Speak things that honest men may hear with temper, Speak the plain truth, and varnish not your crimes. Say, that you once were virtuous-long ago A frugal hardy people, like the Britons, Before you grew thus elegant in vice, And gave your luxuries the name of virtues. The civilizers!-the disturbers, say ;
The robbers, the corrupters of mankind,
Proud vagabonds!--who make the world your home,
And lord it where you have no right.
What virtue have you taught?
Van. Oh! Patience!
Val. Can you disown a truth confessed by all?
A praise, a glory, known in barbarous climes?
Far as our legions march, they carry knowledge,
The arts, the laws, the discipline of life.
Our conquests are indulgencies, and we
Not masters, but protectors of mankind.
Van. Prevaricating, false-most courteous tyrants ;-
Romans! Rare patterns of humanity!
Came you then thus far through waves to conquer,
To waste, to plunder out of mere compassion?
Is it humanity that prompts you on
To ravage the whole earth, to burn, destroy?
To raise the cry of widows and of orphans?
To lead in bonds the generous free-born princes,
Who spurn, who fight against your tyranny?
Happy for us, and happy for you spoilers,
Had your humanity ne'er reached our world-
It is a virtue (so it seems you call it)
A Roman virtue that has cost you dear:
And dearer shall it cost if Vanoc lives,
Or if we die, we shall leave those behind us
Who know the worth of British liberty.
3.-CORIN AND EMMA'S HOSPITALITY.
Emma. SHEPHERD, 'tis he. Beneath yon aged oak,
All on the flowery turf he lays him down.
Corin. Soft: let us not disturb him. Gentle Emma,
My pity waits with reverence on his fortune.
Modest of carriage, and of speech most gracious,
As if some saint or angel in disguise,
Had graced our lowly cottage with his presence,
He steals, I know not how, into the heart,
And makes it pant to serve him. Trust me, Emma,
He is no common man.
Em. Some lord, perhaps,
Or valiant chief, that from our deadly foe,
The haughty, cruel, unbelieving Dane,
Seeks shelter here.
Cor. And shelter he shall find.
Who loves his country is my friend and brother.
Behold him well. Fair virtue in his aspect,
Even through the homely russet that conceals him,
Shines forth and proves him noble. Seest thou, Emma,
Yon western clouds? The sun they strive to hide
Yet darts his beams around.
Em. Your thought is mine;
He is not what his present fortunes speak him.
But, ah! the raging foe is all around us:
We dare not keep him here.
Cor. Content thee, wife:
This island is of strength. Nature's own hand
Hath planted round a deep defence of woods,
The sounding ash, the mighty oak; each tree
A sheltering grove; and choked up all between
With wild encumbrance of perplexing thorns,
And horrid brakes. Beyond this woody verge
Two rivers broad and rapid hem us in.
Along their channel spreads the gulfy pool,
And trembling quagmire, whose deceitful green
Betrays the foot it tempts. One path alone
Winds to this plain, so roughly difficult,
This single arm, poor shepherd as I am,
Could well dispute it with twice twenty Danes.
Em. Yet think, my Corin, on the stern decree Of that proud foe: "Who harbours or relieves "An English captain, dies the death of traitors: "But who his haunt discovers, shall be safe, "And high rewarded."
Cor. Now, just Heaven forbid,
A British man should ever count for gain
What villany must earn. No: are we poor?
Be honesty our riches. Are we mean,
And humbly born? The true heart makes us noble :
These hands can toil, can sow the ground, and reap
For thee and thy sweet babes. Our daily labour
Is daily wealth; it finds us bread and raiment :
Could Danish gold give more? And for the death
These tyrants threaten, let me rather meet it,
Than e'er betray my guest.-
Em. Alas the while,
That loyal faith is fled from hall and bower
To dwell with village swains!
Cor. Ah look! behold
Where, like some goodly tree by wintry winds
Torn from the roots and withering, our sad guest
Lies on the ground diffused.
Em. I weep to see it.
Cor. Thou hast a heart sweet pity loves to dwell in.
Dry up thy tears, and lean on this just hope:
If yet to do away his country's shame,
To serve her bravely on some blest occasion,
If for these ends this stranger sought our cottage,
The heavenly hosts are hovering here unseen,
To watch and to protect him. But, oh! when-
My heart burns for it-shall I see the hour
Of vengeance on these Danish infidels,
That war with Heaven and us?
Em. Alas, my love!
These passions are not for the poor man's state;
To Heaven, and to the rulers of the land,
Leave such ambitious thoughts. Be warned, my Corin,
And think our little all depends on thee.
4.-CORIOLANUS AND AUFIDIUS.
Cor. I PLAINLY, Tullus, by your looks perceive
You disapprove my conduct.
Auf. I mean not to assail thee with the clamour
Of loud reproaches and the war of words;
But, pride apart, and all that can pervert
The light of steady reason, here to make
A candid, fair proposal.
Cor. Speak, I hear thee.
Auf. I need not tell thee, that I have performed
My utmost promise. Thou hast been protected;
Hast had thy amplest, most ambitious wish ;
Thy wounded pride is healed, thy dear revenge
Completely sated; and to crown thy fortune,
At the same time, thy peace with Rome restored.
Thou art no more a Volscian, but a Roman:
Return, return; thy duty calls upon thee
Still to protect the city thou hast saved ;
It still may be in danger from our arms:
Retire: I will take care thou may'st with safety.
Cor. With safety ?-Heavens !-and thinkest thou Coriolanus
Will stoop to thee for safety?—No: my safeguard
Is in myself, a bosom void of fear.
O, 'tis an act of cowardice and baseness,
To seize the very time my hands are fettered
By the strong chain of former obligation,