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Yet, wherefore hide salvation from a man (Granting again that such a one might be,)
Who hath but seen the element of fire Cor. Why art thou agitated thus ? What moves On household earth or woodman's smoky pile, thee?
And looks at once, midst 'stounding thunder-peals, Syl. And would'st thou really know it ? On Jove's magnificence of lightning.Pardon, Cor. Dost thou doubt me ?
I pray you pardon me! I mean his lightning, I have an earnest, most intense desire.
Who is the Jove of Jove, the great Jehovah. Syl. Sent to thy heart, brave Roman, by a power Fath. (smiling.) Be not disturb'd, my son : the Which I may not resist. (Bowing his head.)
lips will utter, But go not with me now in open day.
From lengthen'd habit, what the mind rejects. At fall of eve, I'll meet thee in the suburb,
Cor. These blessed hours which I have pass'd Close to the pleasure garden of Sulpicius ;
with you Where in a bushy crevice of the rock
Have to my intellectual being given There is an entry to the catacombs,
New feelings and expansion, like to that Known but to few
Which once I felt, on viewing by degrees Cor.
Ha! to the catacombs ! The wide development of nature's amplitude. Syl. A dismal place, I own, but heed not that ; Fath. And how was that, my son ? For there thou'lt learn what, to thy ardent mind, Cor. I well remember it; even at this moment Will make this world but as a thorny pass Imagination sees it all again. To regions of delight; man's natural life
'Twas on a lofty mountain of Armenia, With all its varied turmoil of ambition,
O'er which I led by night my martial cohort, But as the training of a wayward child
To shun the fierce heat of a summer's day. To manly excellence ; yea, death itself
Close round us hung, the vapours of the night But as a painful birth to life unending.
Had form'd a woofy curtain, dim and pale, The word eternal has not to thine ears,
Through which the waning moon did faintly mark As yet, its awful, ample sense convey'd.
Its slender crescent. Cor. Something possesses thee.
Fath. Ay, the waned moon through midnight Syl.
Yes, noble Maro;
vapours seen, But it is something which can ne'er possess
Fit emblem is of that retrenching light, A mind that is not virtuous.—Let us part; Dubious and dim, which to the earliest patriarchs It is expedient now.-All good be with thee! Was at the first vouchsafed; a moral guide,
Cor. And good be with thee, also, Valiant soldier! Soon clouded and obscured to their descendants,
close of day, and near the pleasure gar- The fertile earth.—But this is interruption.
Proceed, my son.
Well, on the lofty summit Cor. I know the spot, and will not fail to meet Wc halted, and the day's returning light thee.
[EXEUNT. On this exalted station found us. Then
Our brighten'd curtain, wearing into shreds
Glimpse after glimpse of slow revealed beauty,
Which held th' arrested senses magic bound,
Fath. From such an eminence, the opening SUPPORTED BY THICK PILLARS OF THE ROUGH
mist UNHEWN ROCK, WITH RUDE TOMBS AND HEAPS Would to the eye reveal most beauteous visions. OF HUMAN BONES, AND THE WALLS IN MANY
Cor. First, far beneath us, woody peaks appear'd, PLACES LINED WITH HUMAN SKULLS.
And knolls with cedars crested; then, beyond, Enter CORDENIUS MARO, speaking to a CHRISTIAN And lower still, the herdsmen's cluster’d dwellings,
FATHER, on whose arm he leans, and followed by With pasture slopes, and Aocks just visible;
Then, further still, soft wavy wastes of forest, Cor. One day and two bless'd nights, spent in In all the varied tints of sylvan verdure, acquiring
Descending to the plain ; then wide and boundless Your heavenly lore, so powerful and sublime The plain itself, with towns and cultured tracks, 0! what an alter'd creature they have made me! And its fair river gleaming in the light, Fath. Yes, gentle son, I trust that thou art with all its sweepy windings, seen and lost, alter'd.
And seen again, till through the pale gray tint Cor. I am, methinks, like one, who, with bent of distant space, it seem'd a loosen'd cestus back
From virgin's tunic blown; and still beyond, And downward gaze—if such a one might be The earth's extended vastness from the sight, Hath only known the boundless azure sky Wore like the boundless ocean. By the strait circle of reflected beauty,
My heart beat rapidly at the fair sightSeen in the watery gleam of some deep pit, This ample earth, man's natural habitation. Till of a sudden roused, he stands erect,
But now, when to my mental eye reveald, And wondering looks aloft and all around
His moral destiny, so grand and noble, On the bright sunny firmament:-like one Lies stretching on e'en to immensity,
It overwhelms me with a flood of thoughts, I struck my hand against my soldier's mail,
And cried, " This faith is worthy of a man!”
thoughts Cor. I am most thankful for the words of power | To one great universal Lord of all, Which from thy gifted lips and sacred Scripture Lord e'en of Jove himself and all the gods; I have received. What feelings they have raised ! But who dost seel for that high, distant Essence ( what a range of thought given to the mind ! A warmer sentiment than deep submission ? And to the soul what loftiness of hope !
But now, adoring love and grateful confidence
I am too bold: I should be humbled first
In penitence and sorrow, for the stains
Of many a hateful vice and secret passion.
Fath. Check not the generous tenor of thy
And let thy mind well weigh what thou hast heard.
Shall give thee entrance to a purer life ;
For his high warfare arm’d.
Cor. I am resolved, and feel that in my heart
There lives that faith ; baptize me ere we part.
Must be preferr'd; for lo! our brethren come,
Which must, with hymns of honour be received.
Enter Christians, seen advancing slowly along one of the wicked
the aisles, and bearing a large veiled urn; which they
set down near the front. They then list off the veil Will sometimes weep at lofty, generous deeds.
and range themselves round it, while one sings and Some broken traces of our noble nature
the rest join in the chorus at the end of each short Were yet preserved ; therefore our great Creator Still loved his work, and thought it worth redemp
Departed brothers, generous, brave,
Who for the faith have died,
Nor its pure source denied,
Your bodies from devouring flames to save.
Honour on earth, and bliss in heaven,
Be to your saintly valour given!
And we, who, left behind, pursue
A pilgrim's weary way
To realms of glorious day,
Shall rouse our fainting souls with thoughts of you.
Honour on earth, &c.
Your ashes mingled with the dust,
Than e'er breathed vital air,
When earth again gives up her precious trust.
Honour on earth, &c.
The trump of angels shall proclaim,
With tones far sent and sweet,
Which countless hosts repeat,
The generous martyr's never-fading name.
Honour on earth, and bliss in heaven,
Be to your saintly valour given! Syl. (eagerly.) Ay, brave Corden''s, that same Cor. (to Father.) And ye believe those, who a thought more moved
few hours since My rude, unletter'd mind than all the rest. Were clothed in flesh and blood, and here, before us,
Lie thus, even to a few dry ashes changed,
Cor. Come, lead me, father, to the holy fount, Are now exalted spirits, holding life
If I in humble penitence may be With blessed powers, and agencies, and all From worldly vileness clear'd. Who have on earth a virtuous part fulfill'd ? Fath. I gladly will, my son. The spirit of grace The dear redeem'd of Godlike love, again
Is dealing with thy spirit: be received, To their primeval destiny restored ?
A ransom'd penitent, to the high fellowship It is a generous, powerful, noble faith.
Of all the good and bless'd in earth and heaven ! Syl. Did I not tell thee, as we pass'd a.ong,
Enter a CONVERT. It well became a Roman and a soldier ? Fath. Nay, worthy Sylvius, somewhat more of Whence comest thou, Fearon ? Why wert thou meekness
prevented And less of martial ardour were becoming
From joining in our last respectful homage In those, whose humble Lord stretch'd forth his To those, who have so nobly for the truth hand,
Laid down their lives? His saving hand, to e'en the meanest slave
Con. I have been watching near the grated dunWho bends beneath an earthly master's rod.
geon This faith is meet for all of human kind.
Where Ethocles, the Grecian, is immured. Cor. Forgive him, father : see, he stands re
Fath. Thou say'st not so! A heavier loss than proved ;
this, His heart is meek, though ardent;
If they have seized on him, the righteous cause It is, indeed, a faith for all mankind.
Could not have suffer'd. Art thou sure of it? Fath. We feel it such, my son, press'd as we are ;
We had not heard of his return from Syria. On every side beset with threatening terrors.
Con. It is too true: he landed ten days since Look on these ghastly walls, these shapeless pillars, On the Brundusian coast, and as he enter'd These heaps of human bones,--this court of death; The gates of Rome, was seized and dragg'd to E'en here, as in a temple, we adore
prison. The Lord of life, and sing our song of hope,
Fath. And we in utter ignorance of this ! That death has lost his sting, the grave his triumph.
Con. He travellid late and unaccompanied, Cor. O make me then the partner of your hopes! So this was done at nightfall and conceal'd. (Taking the hand of Sylvius, and then of several But see his writing, given me by a guard, other Christians.)
Who has for pity's sake betray'd his trust : Brave men! high destined souls ! immortal beings ! It is address'd to thee. (Giving him a paper.) The blessed faith and sense of what we are
Fath. (after reading it.) Alas, alas : it is a brief Comes on my heart, like streams of beamy light
account Pour'd from some opening cloud. O to conceive
Of his successful labours in the East; What lies beyond the dim, dividing veil,
For with his excellent gifts of eloquence, Of regions bright, of blest and glorious being !
Learning, and prudence, he has made more converts Fath. Ay, when it is withdrawn, we shall behold Than all our zealous brotherhood besides. What heart hath ne'er conceiver, nor tongue could | What can we do? He will be sacrificed : utter.
The church in him must bleed, if God so wills. Cor. When but a boy, I've gazed upon the sky,
It is a dreadful blow. With all its sparks of light, as a grand cope
Cor. (to the Convert.) I pray thee, in what prison For the benighted world. But now my fancy
is he kept? Will greet each twinkling star, as the bright lamp Con. In Sylla's tower, that dwelling of despair. Of some fair angel on his guardian watch.
Cor. Guarded by Romans? And think ye not, that from their lofty stations,
Yes; and strongly guardedi. Our future glorious home, our Father's house,
Cor. Yet, he shall be released. May lie within the vast and boundless ken
Fath. (to Cordenius.) Beware, my son, of rash, Of such seraphic powers ?
imprudent zeal: Fath. Thy fancy soars on wide and buoyant The truth hath suffer'd much from this ; beware; wings;
Risk not thyself: thy life is also precious. Speak on, my son, I would not check thy ardour. Cor. My whole of life is precious; but this shred,
Cor. This solid earth is press'd beneath our feet, This earthly portion of it, what is that, But as a step from which to take our flight; But as it is employ'd in holy acts ? What boots it then, if rough or smooth it be, Am I Christ's soldier at a poorer rate Serving its end ?-Come, noble Sylvius !
Than I have served an earthly master? No; We've been companions in the broil of battle, I feel within my glowing breast a power Now be we fellow soldiers in that warfare Which says I am commission'd for this service. Which best becomes the brave.
Give me thy blessing—thy baptismal blessing, Syl. Cordenius Maro, we shall be companions And then God's spirit guide me ! Serving God, When this wide earth with all its fields of blood, I will not count the cost but to discharge it. Where war hath raged, and all its towers of Fath. His will direct thee then, my generous
strength Which have begirded been with iron hosts, His blessing be upon thee ! Lead him, Sylvius, Are shrunk to nothing, and the flaming sun To the blest fount, where from his former sins Is in his course extinguish'd.
He shall by heavenly grace be purified. [EXEUNT.
An ardent, strange desire, though mix'd with fear. SCENE II.-THE GARDEN OF SULPICIUS.
Nay, do not smile, my father : such fair sights Enter SULPicius, and PORTIA, with flowers in her hand.
Were seen--were often seen in ancient days;
The poets tell us so. Por. Was it not well to rise with early morn But look, the Indian roses I have foster'd And pay my homage to sweet Flora? Never Are in full bloom; and I must gather them! Were flowers by midday cull’d so fair, so fragrant,
(Exit eagerly. With blending streaky tints, so fresh and bright. Sul. (alone.) Go, gentle creature, thou art careSee ; twinkling dew-drops lurk in every bell, And on the fibred leaves stray far apart,
Ah! could'st thou so remain, and still with me Like little rounded gems of silver sheen,
Be as in years gone by !-It may not be ; Whilst curling tendrils grasp with vigorous hold Nor should I wish it : all things have their season : The stem that bears them! All looks young and She may not now remain an old man's treasure. fresh.
With all her woman's beauty grown to blossom. The very spider through his circled cage
Orc. And who considers hours, whose heart is Is it not so, my father ?
bent Sul. Yes, morn and youth and freshness sweetly On what concerns a lover and a friend ? join,
Where is thy daughter? And are the emblems of dear changeful days. Sul. Within yon fowery thicket, blithe and By night those beauteous things~
careless ; Por.
And what of night! For though she loves, 'tis with sweet, maiden fancy, Why do you check your words? You are not sad ? | Which, not impatient, looks in cheering hope Sul. No; Portia, only angry with myself
To future years. For crossing thy gay stream of youthful thoughts Orc.
Ay, 'tis a shelter'd passion, With those of sullen age. Away with them! A cradled love, by admiration fosterd : What if those bright-leaved flowers, so soft and A showy, toward nurse for babe so bashful. silken,
Thus in the shell athwart whose snowy lining Are gathered into dank and wrinkled folds Each changeful tint of the bright rainbow plays, When evening chills them, or upon the earth A tle pearl is found, in secret value With broken stems and buds torn and dispersed, Surpassing all the rest. Lie prostrate, of fair form and fragrance reft
But say'st thou nothing When midnight winds pass o'er them ; be it so! Of what I wish to hear? What of Cordenius? All things but have their term.
Orc. By my good war-bow and its barbed shafts, In truth, my child, I'm glad that I indulged thee By the best war-horse archer e'er bestrode! By coming forth at such an early hour
I'm still in ignorance: I have not seen him. To pay thy worship to so sweet a goddess,
Sul. Thou hast not seen him ! this is very Upon her yearly feast.
strange. Por. I thank you, father! On her feast, 'tis said, Orc. So it indeed appears.—My wayward friend That she, from mortal eye conceal'd, vouchsafes llas from his home been absent. Yesterday Her presence in such sweet and flowery spots : There and elsewhere I sought, but found him not. And where due offerings on her shrine are laid, This morning by the dawn again I sought him, Blesses all seeds and shoots, and things of promise. Thinking to find him surely, and alone ; Sul. How many places in one little day
But his domestics, much amazed, have told me She needs must visit then!
He is not yet return’d. Por. But she moves swift as thought. The hasty Sul. Hush! through yon thicket I perceive a
zephyr That stirr'd each slender leaf, now as we enter'd,
Orc. Some thief or spy. And made a sudden sound, by stillness follow'd,
Let us withdraw a while, Might be the rustling of her passing robe.
And mark his motions ; he observes us not.
Enter CORDENIUS from a thicket in the back ground. Por,
Wherefore call it wild ? Cor. (after looking round him with delight.) Full many a time I've listen'd when alone
Sweet light of day, fair sky, and verdant In such fair spots as this, and thought I heard
earth, Sweet mingled voices uttering varied tones Enrich'd with every beauteous herb and flower, Of question and reply, pass on the wind,
And stately trees, that spread their boughs like And heard soft steps upon the ground; and then
tents The notion of bright Venus or Diana,
For shade and shelter, how I hail ye now!
For happy innocence, yet, in the wreck
(Stooping to look at the flowers.) And 0, how I have long'd to look upon them; Ye little painted things, whose varied hues
Charm, even to wonderment; that mighty hand That thou wilt give me Portia—thy dear Portia?
Sul. And truly too, Cordenius. She is thine,
Cor. (Eagerly clasping the knees, and then There is a father's full, unstinted love
kissing the hands of Sulpicius.) Thanks, Display'd o'er all, and thus on all I gaze
thanks !-thanks from my swoll'n, o'erWith the keen thrill of new-waked ecstasy.
flowing heart, What voice is that so near me and so sweet? Which has no words.-Friend, father, Portia's (Portia without, singing some notes of prelude, father! and then a Song.)
The thought creates in me such sudden joy
I am bewilder'd with it.
Calm thy spirits.The lady in her early bower
Thou shouldst in meeter form have known it
Had not the execution of those Christians-
(Pests of the earth, whom on one burning pile, Like skylark o'er the morning cloud ;
With all their kind, I would most gladly punish,) The lady's smiles are smiles that pass
Till now prevented me. Thy friend, OrceresLike morning's breath o'er wavy grass.
Thou owest him thanks-plead for thee powerfully, She thinks of one, whose harness d car
And had my leave. But dost thou listen to me?
Thy face wears many colours, and big drops
Burst from thy brow, whilst thy contracted lips
Quiver, like one in pain.
Orc. What sudden illness racks thee?
Cor. I may not tell you now: let me depart.
Sul. (holding him.) Thou art my promised son;
I have a right Cor. Her voice indeed, and this my favourite
To know whate'er concerns thee,-pain or pleasure. It is that gentle creature, my sweet Portia
Cor. And so thou hast, and I may not deceive
thee. I call her mine, because she is the image Which hath possess'd my fancy. Such vain
Take, take, Sulpicius.—0 such withering words! thoughts
The sinking, sickening heart and parched mouth!
I cannot utter them.
Sul. Why in this agony of perturbation?
Nay, strive not now to speak.
I must, I must(Sings without, as before.) Take back thy proffer'd gift; all earth could She wanders fitfully from lay to lay,
give;But all of them some air that I have praised
That which it cannot give I must retain. In happy hours gone by.
Sul. What words are these? If it were possible, SONG,
I could believe thee touch'd with sorcery, The kind heart speaks with words so kindly sweet,
The cursed art of those vile Nazarenes. That kindred hearts the catching tones repeat; Where hast thou past the night? their haunts are And love, therewith his soft sigh gently blending, Makes pleasing harmony. Thus softly sending
Orc. Nay, nay; repress thine anger ; noble Maro Its passing cheer across the stilly main, Whilst in the sounding water dips the oar,
May not be question d thus. And glad response bursts from the nearing shore, Sul. He may, and shall. And yet I will not Comes to our ears the home-bound seamen's strain,
urge him, Who from the lofty deck, hail their own land again. If he, with hand press'd on his breast, will say,
Cor. O gentle, sweet, and cheerful! form'd to be That he detests those hateful Nazarenes. Whate'er my heart could prize of treasured love!
Cor. No ; though my life, and what is dearer far Dear as thou art, I will not linger here.
My Portia's love, depended on the words,
I would not, and I durst not utter them. Re-enter SULPICIUS and ORCERES, breaking out upon Sul. I see it well: thou art insnared and blinded him, and Orceres catching hold of his robe as he By their enchantments. Demoniac power is going off.
Will drag thee to thy ruin. Cast it off; Orc. Ha! noble Maro, to a coward turn'd, Defy it. Say thou wilt forbear all intercourse Shunning a spot of danger!
With this detested sect. Art thou a madman? Sul. Stay, Cordenius.
Cor. If I am mad, that which possesses me
Or poets e'er imagined.-Listen to me.
Call ye these Christians vile, because they suffer Than I will grant all that may make thee happy, All nature shrinks from, rather than deny If Portia has that power.
What seems to them the truth ? Call ye them sorCor. And dost thou mean, in very earnest mean,