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CHARLES THE FIRST.

A FRAGMENT.

ACT I.

SCENE. I.–The Pageant to celebrate the arrival of the Queen.

A PURSUIVANT.

PLACE for the Marshal of the Masque !

FIRST SPEAKER.

What thinkest thou of this quaint masque, which

turns
Like morning from the shadow of the night,
The night to day, and London to a place
Of peace and joy ?

SECOND SPEAKER.

And Hell to Heaven. Eight years are gone, And they seem hours, since in this populous street I trod on grass made green by summer's rain, For the red plague kept state within that palace Where now reigns vanity--in nine years more The roots will be refreshed with civil blood ; And thank the mercy of insulted Heaven

16

VOL. III.

That sin and wrongs wound as an orphan's cry, The patience of the great Avenger's ear.

THIRD SPEAKER (а youth.) Yet, father, 'tis a happy sight to see, Beautiful, innocent, and unforbidden By God or man ;—'tis like the bright possession Of skyey visions in a solemn dream From which men wake as from a paradise, And draw new strength to tread the thorns of life. If God be good, wherefore should this be evil ? And if this be not evil, dost thou not draw Unseasonable poison from the flowers Which bloom so rarely in this barren world ? Oh, kill these bitter thoughts which make the

present Dark as the future !

*

When avarice and tyranny, vigilant fear,
And open-eyed conspiracy, lie sleeping
As on Hell's threshold ; and all gentle thoughts
Waken to worship him who giveth joys
With his own gift.

SECOND SPEAKER.

How young art thou in this old age of time!
How

green in this gray world ! Canst thou not

think Of change in that low scene, in which thou art Not a spectator, but an actor?

The day that dawns in fire will die in storms,
Eren though the noon be calm. My travel's done;
Before the whirlwind wakes I shall have found
My inn of lasting rest, but thou must still
Be journeying on in this inclement air.

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Rather say the Pope. London will be soon his Rome: he walks As if he trod upon the heads of men. He looks elate, drunken with blood and gold ;Beside him moves the Babylonian woman Invisibly, and with her as with his shadow, Mitred adulterer! he is joined in sin, Which turns Heaven's milk of mercy to revenge.

ANOTHER CITIZEN (lifting up his eyes.) Good Lord ! rain it down upon him. Amid her ladies walks the papist queen As if her nice feet scorned our English earth. There's old Sir Henry Vane, the Earl of Pem

broke, Lord Essex, and Lord Keeper Coventry, And others who made base their English breed By vile participation of their honours

With papists, atheists, tyrants, and apostates.
When lawyers mask 'tis time for honest men
To strip their vizor from their purposes.

*

FOURTH SPEAKER (a pursuivant.)
Give place, give place!
You torch-bearers, advance to the great gate,
And then attend the Marshal of the Masque
Into the Royal presence.

FIFTH SPEAKER (a law student.)

What thinkest thou Of this quaint show of ours, my aged friend?

FIRST SPEAKER.

I will not think but that our country's wounds May yet be healed—The king is just and gracious, Though wicked councils now pervert his will : These once cast off

SECOND SPEAKER.

As adders cast their skins And keep their venom, so kings often change; Councils and councillors hang on one another, Hiding the loathsome [ ] Like the base patchwork of a leper's rag.

THIRD SPEAKER.

Oh, still those dissonant thoughts-List, loud music Grows on the enchanted air! And see, the torches

Restlessly flashing, and the crowd divided
Like waves before an admiral's prow.

ANOTHER SPEAKER.

Give place To the Marshal of the Masque!

THIRD SPEAKER.

How glorious! See those thronging chariots
Rolling like painted clouds before the wind :

Some are
Like curved shells dyed by the azure depths
Of Indian seas; some like the new-born moon;
And some like cars in which the Romans climbed
(Canopied by Victory's eagle-wings outspread)
The Capitolian-See how gloriously
The mettled horses in the torchlight stir
Their gallant riders, while they check their pride,
Like shapes of some diviner element !

SECOND SPEAKER.

Ay, there they are-
Nobles, and sons of nobles, patentees,
Monopolists, and stewards of this poor farm,
On whose lean sheep sit the prophetic crows.
Here is the pomp that strips the houseless orphan,
Here is the pride that breaks the desolate heart.
These are the lilies glorious as Solomon,
Who toil not, neither do they spin,-unless

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