Page images

The safe, sure moment to insult me.- -Gods!
Were I now free, as on that day I was
When at Corioli I tamed thy pride,
This had not been.

Auf. Thou speakest the truth: it had not. O, for that time again! Propitious gods,

If you will bless me, grant it! Know, for that,
For that dear purpose, I have now proposed
Thou should'st return: I pray thee, Marcius, do it;
And we shall meet again on nobler terms.

Cor. Till I have cleared my honour in your council,
And proved before them all, to thy confusion,
The falsehood of thy charge; as soon in battle
I would before thee fly, and howl for mercy,
As quit the station they've assigned me here.

Auf. Thou canst not hope acquittal from the Volscians. Cor. I do:-Nay, more, expect their approbation, Their thanks. I will obtain them such a peace

As thou durst never ask; a perfect union

Of their whole nation with imperial Rome,
In all her privileges, all her rights;

By the just gods, I will.-What would'st thou more?

Auf. What would I more, proud Roman? This I wouldFire the cursed forest, where these Roman wolves

Haunt and infest their nobler neighbours round them;
Extirpate from the bosom of this land
A false, perfidious people, who, beneath
The mask of freedom, are a combination
Against the liberty of human kind ;-
The genuine seed of outlaws and of robbers.

Cor. The seed of gods.—'Tis not for thee, vain boaster,—

'Tis not for such as thou,—so often spared
By her victorious sword, to speak of Rome,
But with respect, and awful veneration.-
Whate'er her blots, whate'er her giddy factions,
There is more virtue in one single year

Of Roman story, than your Volscian annals

Can boast through all their creeping, dark duration.
Auf. I thank thy rage:-This full displays the traitor.
Cor. Traitor!-How now?

Auf. Ay, traitor, Marcius.

Cor. Marcius!

Auf. Ay, Marcius, Caius Marcius: Dost thou think I'll grace thee with that robbery, thy stolen name, Coriolanus, in Corioli ?

You lords, and heads of the state, perfidiously
He has betrayed your business, and given up,
For certain drops of salt, your city Rome,-
I say, your city,-to his wife and mother;
Breaking his oath and resolution like
A twist of rotten silk; never admitting
Counsel of the war: but at his nurse's tears
He whined and roared away your victory ;
That pages blushed at him, and men of heart
Looked wondering at each other.

Cor. Hearest thou, Mars?

Auf. Name not the god, thou boy of tears.
Cor. Measureless liar, thou hast made my heart
Too great for what contains it.-Boy!-
Cut me to pieces, Volscians; men and lads,
Stain all your edges on me.-Boy !—
If you have writ your annals true, 'tis there,
That, like an eagle in a dovecot, I
Fluttered your Volscians in Corioli;
Alone I did it :-Boy!-But let us part;
Lest my rash hand should do a hasty deed
My cooler thought forbids.

Auf. I court

The worst thy sword can do; while thou from me
Hast nothing to expect but sore destruction;
Quit then this hostile camp: once more I tell thee,
Thou art not here one single hour in safety.
Cor. O, that I had thee in the field,
With six Aufidiuses, or more, thy tribe,
To use my lawful sword!

5.-LADY RANDOLPH AND DOUGLAS. L. Ran. My son! I heard a voice

Doug. The voice was mine.

L. Ran. Didst thou complain aloud to Nature's ear,
That thus, in dusky shades, at midnight hours,
By stealth the mother and the son should meet ?

Doug. No: on this happy day, this better birth-day,
My thoughts and words are all of hope and joy.

L. Ran. Sad fear and melancholy still divide The empire of my breast with hope and joy. Now hear what I advise.

Doug. First let me tell


may the tenor of your counsel change.


L. Ran. My heart forebodes some evil!
Doug. 'Tis not good-

At eve, unseen by Randolph and Glenalvon,
The good old Norval, in the grove, o'erheard
Their conversation: oft they mentioned me
With dreadful threatenings; you they sometimes named
'Twas strange, they said, a wonderful discovery ;
And ever and anon they vowed revenge.

L. Ran. Defend us, gracious God! we are betrayed!
They have found out the secret of thy birth;
It must be so. That is the great discovery.
Sir Malcolm's heir is come to claim his own;
And he will be revenged. Perhaps even now,
Armed and prepared for murder, they but wait
A darker and more silent hour to break
Into the chamber where they think thou sleepest.
This moment, this, Heaven hath ordained to save thee!
Fly to the camp, my son!

Doug. And leave you here?

No to the castle let us go together,

Call up the ancient servants of your house,

Who in their youth did eat your father's bread;

Then tell them loudly that I am your son.
If in the breasts of men one spark remains
Of sacred love, fidelity, or pity,—
Some in your cause will arm: I ask but few

To drive those spoilers from my father's house.

L. Ran. O Nature, Nature! what can check thy force!

Thou genuine offspring of the daring Douglas!
But rush not on destruction: save thyself,
And I am safe. To me they mean no harm ;
Thy stay but risks thy precious life in vain.
That winding path conducts thee to the river;
Cross where thou seest a broad and beaten way,
Which, running eastward, leads thee to the camp.
Instant demand admittance to Lord Douglas ;
Show him these jewels which his brother wore.
Thy look, thy voice, will make him feel the truth,
Which I, by certain proof, will soon confirm.

Doug. I yield me and obey: but yet my heart
Bleeds at this parting. Something bids me stay
And guard a mother's life. Oft have I read
Of wondrous deeds by one bold hand achieved.
Our foes are two; no more: let me go forth,
And see if any shield can guard Glenalvon.

L. Ran. If thou regardest thy mother, or reverest
Thy father's memory, think of this no more.
One thing I have to say before we part:

Long wert thou lost; and thou art found, my child,
In a most fearful season. War and battle
I have great cause to dread. Too well I see
Which way the current of thy temper sets;
To-day I've found thee. Oh! my long-lost hope!
If thou to giddy valour givest the rein,
To-morrow I may lose my son for ever.
The love of thee, before thou sawest the light,
Sustained my life, when thy brave father fell.
If thou shalt fall, I have nor love nor hope
In this waste world! My son, remember me!

Doug. What shall I say? how can I give you comfort? The God of battles of my life dispose,

As may be best for you! for whose dear sake

I will not bear myself as I resolved.

But yet consider, as no vulgar name

That which I boast, it sounds 'mongst martial men ;
How will inglorious caution suit my claim?
The post of fate, unshrinking, I maintain.
My country's foes must witness who I am;
On the invaders' heads I'll prove my birth,
Till friends and foes confess the genuine strain.
If in this strife I fall, blame not your son,
Who, if he lives not honoured, must not live.

L. Ran. I will not utter what my bosom feels. Too well I love that valour which I warn. Farewell, my son! my counsels are but vain ; And as high Heaven hath willed it, all must be.


King. ART thou the chief of that unruly band
Who broke the treaty and assailed the Moors?
Youth. No chief, no leader of a band am I.
The leader of a band insulted me,

And those he led basely assailed my life;
With bad success indeed. If self-defence
Be criminal, O king! I have offended.

King. With what a noble confidence he speaks!
See what a spirit through his blushes breaks!
Observe him, Hamet.


Hamet. I am fixed upon him.

King. Didst thou alone engage a band of Moors
And make such havock? Sure it cannot be.
Recall thy scattered thoughts. Nothing advance
Which proof may overthrow.


-What I have said

No proof can overthrow. Where is the man,
Who, speaking from himself, not from reports
And rumours idle, will stand forth and say,
I was not single when the Moors attacked me?

Hamet. I will not be that man, though I confess
That I came hither to accuse thee, youth,
And to demand thy punishment.-I brought
The tale our soldiers told.

Youth. The tale was false.

Hamet. I thought it true, but thou hast shook my faith. The seal of truth is on thy gallant form,

For none but cowards lie.

King. Thy story tell,

With every circumstance which may explain
The seeming wonder; how a single man
In such a strife could stand?

Youth. 'Twill cease to be

A wonder when thou hearest the story told.
This morning, on my road to Oviedo,
A while I halted near a Moorish post.
Of the commander I inquired my way,
And told my purpose; that I came to see
The famous combat. With a scornful smile,
With taunting words and gestures he replied,
Mocking my youth; advised me to return
Back to my father's house, and in the ring
To dance with boys and girls. He added too
That I should see no combat: That no knight
Of Spain durst meet the champion of the Moors.
Incensed, I did indeed retort his scorn.

The quarrel grew apace, and I defied him

To a green hill, which rose amidst the plain,
An arrow's flight or farther from his post.
Alone we sped: alone we drew, we fought.
The Moorish captain fell. Enraged, his men
Flew to revenge his death. Secure they came
Each with his utmost speed. Those who came first,
Single, I met and slew. More wary grown,
The rest together joined, and all at once

« PreviousContinue »