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Because their words impart such high conceptions Sul. I will not betray him.
Por. Then all may yet be well ; for our great In one great Being join'd, as makes the heart
gods, Bound with ennobling thoughts ? Call ye them Whom Cæsar and his subject nations worship, curst
Will not abandon Rome's best, bravest soldier Who daily live in steady strong assurance
To power demoniac. That can never be Of endless blessedness ? O, listen to me!
If they indeed regard us.
Orc. Were he in Parthia, our great god, the sun, Re-enter PORTIA, bursting from a thicket close to them. Or rather he who in that star resides, Por. O, listen to him, father!
Would not permit his power to be so thwarted, Sul. Let go my robe, fond creature ! Listen to For all the demonry that e’er exerted him!
Its baleful influence on wretched men. The song of syrens were less fatal. Charms Beshrew me! for a thought gleams through my Of dire delusion, luring on to ruin,
brain, Are mingled with the words that speak their faith ; It is this God, perhaps, with some new name, They, who once hear them, slutter round destruction which these bewilder'd Nazarenes adore. With giddy fascination, like the moth,
Sul. With impious rites, most strange and horriWhich, shorn of half its form, all scorch'd and
Orc. If he, my friend, in impious rites hath join'd, Still to the torch returns. I will not listen ; Demons, indeed, have o'er the soul of man No, Portia, nor sbalt thou.
A power to change its nature. Ay, Sulpicius ; Por. 0, say not so !
And thou and I may, ere a day shall pass, For if you listen to him, you may save him, Be very Nazarenes. We are in ignorance; And win him from his errors.
We shoot our arrow in the dark, and cry, Sul. Vain hope ! vain hope! What is man's 'It is to wound a foe.' Come, gentle Portia ; natural reason
Be not so sad ; the man thou lovest is virtuous, Opposed to demon subtlety? Cordenius!
And brave, and loves thee well; why then despair ? Cordenius Maro! I adjure thee, go!
Por. Alas! I know he is brave and virtuous, Leave me; why wouldst thou pull destruction on Therefore, I do despair.
In Nero's court, indeed, On one who loved thee so, that though possess'd Such men are ever on the brink of danger, Of but one precious pearl, most dearly prized, But wouldst thou have him other than he is ? Prized more than life, yet would have given it to Por. O no! I would not; that were base and thee.
sordid; I needs must weep : c'en for thyself I weep. Yet shed I tears, e'en like a wayward child Cor. Weep not, my kind Sulpicius! I will leave Who weeps for that which cannot be attain'd, thee,
Virtue, and constancy, and safety join'd. Albeit the pearl thou wouldst bestow upon me I pray thee pardon me, for I am wretched, Is, in my estimation, dearer far
And that doth make me foolish and perverse. Than life, or power, or fame, or earthly thing.
[EXEUNT. When these fierce times are past, thou wilt, per
haps, Think of me with regard, but not with pity,
ACT. III. How fell soe'er my earthly end hath been,
SCENE I.-BEFORE THE GATE OF NERO'S PALACE : For I shall then be blest. And thou, dear Portia,
GUARDS WITH THEIR OFFICERS, DISCOVERED ON Wilt thou remember me? That thought, alas !
DUTY. Dissolves my soul in weakness.
Enter to them another Officer, speaking as he enters to 0, to be spared, if it were possible,
the SOLDIERS. This stroke of agony. Is it not possible,
First Offi. Strike up some sacred strain of Roman That I might yet-Almighty God forgive me !
triumph ; Weak thoughts will lurk in the devoted heart,
The Pontiff comes to meet the summon'd council. But not be cherish'd there. I may not offer
Omit not this respect, else he will decm Aught short of all to thee.
We are of those who love the Nazarenes. Farewell, farewell! sweet Portia, fare thee well!
Sing loud and clearly. (Orceres catches hold of him to prevent his going.) Retain me not: I am a Parthian now,
Enter PONTIFF attended. My strength is in retreat.
SACRED HYMN BY THE SOLDIERS. Por. That noble mind! and must it then be
That chief, who bends to Jove the suppliant knee, ruin'd?
Shall firm in power and high in honour be ; O save him, save him, father! Brave Orceres,
And who to Mars a soldier's homage yields, Wilt thou not save thy friend, the noble Maro? Shall la irell'd glory reap in bloody fields ; Orc. We will, sweet maid, if it be possible.
Who vine crown'd Bacchus, bounteous lord, adores,
Shall gather still, unscath’d, his vintage stores; We'll keep his faith a secret in our breasts ;
Who to fair Venus liberal offering gives, And he may yet, if not by circumstances
Enrich'd with love, and sweet affection lives, Provoked to speak, conceal it from the world.
Then, be your praises still our sacred theme, Por. And you, my father?
O Venus, Bacchus, Mars, and Jove supreme !
Pon. I thank ye, soldiers ! Rome, indeed, hath
Enter ORCERES, followed by SULPICIUS. triumph'd, Bless'd in the high protection of her gods,
The Parthian prince, who will inform us truly. The sovereign warrior nation of the world; Orceres, is thy friend Cordenius coming? And, favour'd by great Jove and mighty Mars,
I have commanded him, and at this hour, So may she triumph still, nor meanly stoop
To bring his guarded prisoner to the palace, To worship strange and meaner deities,
Here to remain till the appointed time. Adverse to warlike glory. (Exit, with his train. Ore. I know not; nor have I beheld Cordenius First Offi. The Pontiff seems disturb’d, his brow Since yesterday ; when, at an early hour, is lowering.
Sulpicius and myself met him by chance : Second Offi, Reproof and caution, mingled with But for the prisoner, he is at hand, his thanks,
E’en at the palace gate; for as we enter'd Though utter'd graciously.
We saw him there, well circled round with guards First Offi.
He is offended, Though in the martial throng we saw not Maro. Because of late so many valiant soldiers
Nero. (To the Pontiff.) Said I not so? Have proselytes become to this new worship; (To an Officer.) Command them instantly A worship too, as he insinuates,
To bring this wordy Grecian to our presence. Unsuited to the brave.
[Exit Officer. Third Offi. Ay, ay! the sacred chickens are in Sulpicius, thou hast known this Ethocles, danger.
Is he a madman or ambitious knave, Second Offi. Sylvius is suspected, as I hear. Who sought on human folly to erect
First Offi. Hush ! let us to our duty; it is time A kind of fancied greatness for himself? To change the inner guard.
Sul. I know not which, great Nero. [Exeunt with music, into the gate of the palace. Nero. And didst thou not advise me earnestly
To rid the state of such a pestilence? SCENE II.-A COUNCIL CHAMBER IN THE PALACE, Sul. And still advise thee, Nero; for this Greek
NERO WITH HIS COUNSELLORS DISCOVERED ; NERO Is dangerous above all, who, with their lives, IN THE ACT OF SPEAKING.
Have yet paid forfeit for their strange belief. Nero. Yes, Servius ; formerly we have admitted, They come: the prisoner in foreign garb As minor powers, amongst the ancient gods So closely wrapp'd, I scarcely see his face. Of high imperial Rome, the foreign deities Of friendly nations; but these Nazarenes
Enter Prisoner, attended. Scorn such association, proudly claiming
Pon. If it in truth be he. For that which is the object of their faith,
Nero. (To the Pontiff.) Dost thou still doubt? Sole, undivided homage: and our altars,
(To the Prisoner.) Stand forth, audacious rebel, to Our stately temples, the majestic forms Of Mars, Apollo, thundering Jove himself, Dost thou still brave it, false and subtle spirit ? By sculptor's art divine, so nobly wrought,
Cor. (throwing off his Grecian cloak, and Are held by these mad zealots in contempt.
advancing to Nero.) I am not false, AuExamine, sayest thou shall imperial Cæsar
gustus, but if subtle, Deign to examine what withstands his power?
Add to my punishment what shall be deem'd
Meet retribution. I have truly sworn,
Or to produce thy thrall, or, therein failing,
To give my life for his ; and here I stand. And craves admittance.
Ethocles, by a higher power than thine, Nero. Let him be admitted.
Is yet reserved for great and blessed ends.
Take thou the forfeit; I have kept my oath.
Nero. I am amazed beyond the power of utter. Pontiff, thy visage, if I read it well,
ance ! Says, that some weighty matter brings thee here: Grows it to such a pitch that Rome's brave captains Thou hast our leave to speak.
Are by this wizard sorcery so charm'd ? Pon, Imperial Nero, didst thou not condemn Then it is time, good sooth! that sweeping venThat eloquent, but pestilential Nazarene,
geance The Grecian Ethocles, whose specious words Should rid the earth of every tainted thing Wrap in delusion all who listen to him,
Which that curst sect hath touch'd. Cordenius Spreading his baleful errors o'er the world ?
Maro, Nero. Did I condemon him! E'en this very day, Thou who hast fought our battles, graced our state, He in the amphitheatre meets his doom ;
And borne a noble Roman's honourd name, Having, I trust, no power of words to charm What, 0 what power could tempt thee to this The enchafed lion, or the famish'd wolf.
shame? Pon. I am inform'd, and I believe it true
Cor. I have been tempted by that mighty Power, That this bold malefactor is enlarged.
Who gave to Rome her greatness, to the earth Nero. It is impossible ! Cordenius Maro
Form and existence ; yea, and to the soul Is sworn to guard the prisoner; or, failing, Of living, active man, sense and perception: (How could he fail ?) to pay with his own life But not to shame, O Cæsar! not to shame! The forfeit. But bebold his favourite friend, Nero. What, hast thou not become a Nazarene,
As now I apprehended ? Say, thou hast not; First bind thyself by every sacred oath
O could I speak what might convince Rome's chief, Cor. If thou wouldst spare my life, and to that Her senators, her tribes, her meanest slaves, grace
Of Christ's most blessed truth, the fatal pile
Vaults to his envied seat, while Rome's throng'd Basely deny.
streets Nero. Thou art a Christian, then? Thou art a Resound his shouted name. Within me stirs maniac!
The spirit of truth and power which spoke to me, Cor. I am a man, who, seeing in the flames And will upon thy mind.Those dauntless Christians suffer, long'd to know Nero.
I charge thee cease! What power could make them brave the fear of Orc. Nay, emperor! might I entreat for him ? death,
Cor. (catching hold of Orceres eagerly.) Not for Disgrace, and infamy.-And I have learnt That they adore a God,-one God, supreme,
Orc. No; not for that, brave Maro! Who, over all men, his created sons,
(To Nero.) Let me entreat that he may freely Rules as a father ; and beholding sin,
speak. Growth of corruption, mar this earthly race, Fear'st thou he should convince thee by his words? Sent down to earth his sinless, heavenly Son,
That were a foul affront to thine own reason, Who left, with generous devoted love,
Or to the high divinities of Rome. His state of exaltation and of glory,
Nero. Cease, Prince of Parthia ! nor too far preTo win them back to virtue, yea, to virtue Which shall be crown'd with never-ending bliss. Upon a noble stranger's privilege. I've learnt that they with deep adoring gratitude
Pon. Shall words so bold be to mine ear august Pay homage to that Son, the sent of God,
So freely utter'd with impunity ? Who here became a willing sacrifice
Orc. Pontiff! I much revere thy sacred office, To save mankind from sin and punishment, But scorn thy paltry words. Not freely speak! And earn for them a better life hereafter,
Not with impunity! Is this a threat ? When mortal life is closed. The heart's deep ho- Let Rome's great master, or his angry slaves, mage
Shed one drop of my blood, and on our plains Becoming well such creatures, so redeem'd. Where heretofore full many a Roman corse, Nero. Out on that dreaming madness ?
With Parthian arrows pierced, have vultures fed, Cor. Is it madness
Twice thirty thousand archers in array, To be the humble follower of Him,
Each with his bow strain'd for the distant mark, Who left the bliss of heaven to be for us
Shall quickly stand, impatient for revenge. A man on earth, in spotless virtue living
Not with impunity! As man ne'er lived : such words of comfort speak
Sul. Nay, nay, Orceres ! with such haughty ing,
words To rouse, and elevate, and cheer the heart, Thou'lt injure him thou plead'st for. Noble Cæsar! As man ne'er spoke ; and suffering poverty,
Permit an aged man, a faithful servant,
Hear not his raving words, but spare his life,
He will himself entreat your clemency,
And be again the soldier of the state,
Cor. I thank thee, good Sulpicius, but my life, Nero. Away, away! with all those lofty words ! For which thou plead'st, take no account of that; They but bewilder thee.
I yield it freely up to any death, Cor. Yet hear them, Nero! O resist them not! Cruel or merciful, which the decree Perhaps they are appointed for thy good,
Of Cæsar shall inflict, for leave to speak And for the good of thousands. When these hands E’en but a few short moments. Princely Nero! Which have so oft done Rome a soldier's service, The strong enchantment which deludes my soul This tongue which speaks to thee, are turn'd to Is, that I do believe myself the creature, ashes,
Subject and soldier, if I so may speak,
Of an Almighty Father, King, and Lord,
Of flesh and blood disrobed, I shall appear,
That e'er have lived on earth; yea, and with spirits.
Higher than earth e'er own’d, in such pure bliss Orc. Noble Cordenius! can thy martial spiri:
Fighting with savage beasts, the sport of fools,
Mangled and piece-meal torn? It must not be. With souls of wicked men and wrathful demons. Cor. Be not so moved, Orceres; I can bear it That I believe this earth on which we stand The God I worship, who hath made me humble, Is but the vestibule to glorious mansions,
Hath made me dauntless too. And for the share Through which a moving crowd for ever press; Which, as I guess, disturbs thee most, my Master, And do regard the greatest Prince, who now The Lord and Leader I have sworn to follow, Inflicts short torment on this flesh, as one
Did as a malefactor end his days, Who but in passing rudely rends my robe.
To save a lost, perverted race: shall I And thinkest thou that I, believing this,
Feel degradation, then, in following him? Will shrink to do his will whom I adore ?
Orc. In this, alas! thou'lt follow him too surely; Or thinkest thou this is a senseless charm,
But whither, noble Maro? Which soon will pass away?
Cor. E’en to my destined home, my Fatbers Nero. High words, indeed, if resting on good
Orc. And where is that? O, canst thou teil de A maniac's fancies may be grand and noble.
where? Cor. Ay, now thou listenest, as a man should Beyond the ocean or beneath the earth? listen,
Be there more worlds than this, beyond our ken With an inquiring mind. Let me produce In regions vast, above the losty stars? The proofs which have constrain'd me to believe, Could we through the far stretch of space desery From written law and well-attested facts ; E’en but the distant verge, though dimly mark, Let me produce my proofs, and it may be,
Of any other world, I would believe The Spirit of Truth may touch thy yielding heart, That virtuous men deceased have in good truth And save thee from destruction,
A destined place of rest. Nero. Ha ! dost thou think to make of me a con Cor. Believe it-o, believe it, brave Orceres! vert?
Orc. I'll try to do it. I'll become a Christian, Away, weak fool! and most audacious rebel! Were it but only to defy this tyrant. Give proofs of thy obedience, not thy faith,
Cor. Thou must receive with a far different spirit If thou wouldst earn thy pardon.
The faith of Jesus Christ. Perhaps thou wilt. Cor. If thou condemn me in the flames to die My heart leaps at the thought. When I am dead, I will and must obey thee; if to live,
Remain in Rome no longer. In the East Disgraced by pardon won through treachery Search thou for Ethocles, whom I have rescued; To God, my King supreme, and his bless's Christ, And if he shall convert thee, 0, how richly I am, indeed, thy disobedient rebel.
He will repay all I have done for him! Nero. And shall as such, most dearly pay the -But, I would now withdraw a little space, forfeit.
To pour my thoughts in prayer and thankfulness Out -take him from my presence till the time To Him, the great, the good, the wise, the just, Of public execution.
Who holds man's spirit in his own high keeping, Cordenius Maro, thou shalt fall this day
And now supports my soul, and will support it, By no ignoble foe;--a noble lion,
Till my appointed task is done. In secret Famish'd and fierce, shall be thy adversary. The hearts by Jesus taught, were bid to pray, Ard dost thou smile and raise thy head at this, And, if it be permitted, so will I. In stately confidence?
(To the Guards, who adrance as he speaks to Cor. God will deliver me from every adversary.
them.) And thou too smilest.— Yes; he will deliver
My guards and, some time past, my fellow soldiers, That which I call myself. For this poor form Let me remain alone a little while, Which vests me round, I give it to destruction And fear not my escape. If ye distrust me, As gladly as the storm-beat traveller,
Watch well the door, and bind my hands with Who, having reach'd his destined place of shelter,
chains. Drops at the door his mantle's cumbrous weight. First Offi. Yes, brave Cordenius, to another Nero. (going.) Then to thy visionary hopes I
chamber leave thee,
Thou mayst retire, and we will watch without. Incorrigible man! Here, in this chamber
But be thy person free: we will not bind, Keep him secure till the appointed hour.
With felon cord or chain, those valiant hands
(To the Officers, &c.) which have so often for thy country fought, Off, good Sulpicius! hang not on me thus ! Until we are commanded.
Sul. O, mighty Cæsar! countermand your orders : Cor. I thank ye all, my friends, and I believe Delay it but a month, a week, a day.
That I shall meet and thank ye too hereafter; (Exeunt Nero, Sulpicius, Senators, &c. Sulpicius For there is something in you God must love,
still keeping close to Nero in the act of sup- And, loving, will not give to reprobation. plication. - Orceres, Cordenius, and Guards
(To First Officer.) remain, the Guards standing respectfully at a Codrus, thou once didst put thy life in hazard, distance in the back-ground,
And sufferedst much to save a helpless Greek
Who sought protection of thee.
E’en to be spent in want and contumely, (Turning to the Second Officer.) Rather than grieve thy kind and tender heart,
Ay, and thou, My dearest, gentlest friend! I had accepted : Young Lelius, once a rich and tempting ransom But to deny my God, and put dishonour Nobly remittedst to a wretched captive.
Upon the noblest, most exalted faith Ye are of those whom Jesus came to save:
That ever was to human thoughts reveald, Yes; we shall meet hereafter. (To Third Officer.) | Is what I will not-yea, and though a Roman, And thou, my former enemy, weepest thou ? A noble Roman, and a soldier too, We're enemies no more ; thou art my brother. I dare not do. Let Nero have this answer. I will retire; my little term of life
Por. No, not this answer, Maro ; not this anRuns fleetly on; I must not spend it thus.
swer! [EXEUNT. Cast not life from thee, dear, most dear Cordenius !
Life, too, which I should spend my life in cheering, SCENE III.-A CROWDED AMPHITHEATRE: NERO
Cast it not from thee like a worthless thing. AND THE SENATORS DISCOVERED IN THE BACK
Cor. Because it is not worthless but most preGROUND SITTING IN STATE, PORTIA BY THE SIDE OF NERO, IN THE ACT OF SUPPLICATION.
cious, Enter Sulpicius on the front, meeting with another noble And now, when dear to thee, more precious far ROMAN.
Than I have e'er esteem'd it, 'tis an offering Sul. (eagerly.) Is he advancing ?
More meet for God's acceptance ; Noble Rom.
Yes, and close at hand, Withheld from Him, not e’en thyself, sweet maid, Surrounded by a group of martial friends.
Couldst cheer its course, nor yet couldst thou be Oft have I seen him on a day of battle
happy. March to the charge with noble, portly gait,
Por. Nay, but I could !-to see thee still alive, But now he treads the ground with buoyant steps
And by my side, mine own redeemed friend,
Cor. I should be by thy side, dear love! but Seems stately and enlarged beyond its wont;
thou, And in his countenance, oft turn'd to heaven,
With all thy excellence, couldst have no happiness, There is a look as if some god dwelt in him.
Mated with one, whose living form alone Sul. How do the people greet him?
Could move upon the earth, whilst far adrift Noble Rom.
His mind would dwell, by ceaseless meditation, Gazing upon him, turns, with transit quick,
In other worlds of blessedness or wo; Pity to admiration. Warlike veterans
Lost to the one, and to the other link'd Are shedding tears like infants. As he pass’d
By horrid sympathy, till his wrench'd nature The legion he commanded in Armenia,
Should to a demon's fell and restless spirit They raised a shout as if a victor came,
At last be changed. Saluting him with long and loud applause
Por. Alas, alas! and dost thou then believe None daring to reprove them.
That naught remains for thee but death or misery? (Noise without of shoutings.)
Cor. No, gentle Portia ! firmly I believe
That I shall live in endless happiness,
And with the blest hereafter shall behold Enter Cordenrus, followed by ORCERES and Sylvius, Thy blessed self, with ecstasy of love, and attended by other friends, with GUARDS, &c.
Exceeding every thought of earth-born passion, Sul. (advancing eagerly to meet him.) Cordenius, As the fair morning star in lovely brightness O Cordenius! hear a friend,
Excels a night-fly, twinkling through the gloom. A faithful, ancient friend; thy Portia's father!
Live in this hope, dear Portia ! hold it fast;
Farewell, in love and hope ! farewell, in peace!
Por. (clasping his knees.) Nay, let me yet conThat nature's instinct seems in me extinguish'd.
jure thee! But if the emperor freely pardon me,
Make me not wretched, me who once was happy, I shall believe it is the will of God
Ay, happiest of all in loving thee. That I should yet on earth promote his service, Cor. This is mine anguish and my suffering ! And, so believing, am content to live ;
0, good Sulpicius! bear her to her home. Living or dying, to his will resign'd.
Sul. (leading her gently away, while she still Enter Portia on the front, and catching hold of CORDE
clings to him.) Forbear, my child, thy NIUS with eagerness and great agitation.
tears are all in vain. Por. Cordenius, thou art pardoned. Nero spares
Enter a LICtor. thee, If thou wilt only say thou art a Roman,
Lic. Cæsar forbids all further interruption In heart and faith as all thy fathers were,
To his imperial sentence. Let Cordenius Or but forbear to say thou art a Christian.
Forthwith prepare him for the fatal fight. Cor. Thanks, gentle Portia ! life preserved by This is mine office, and I must perform it. thee,
(Begins to disrobe Cordenius, while Portia shrieks