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-Is this man guilty ?-Look on him, Montalba !
Be firm. Should justice falter at a look ?
No, thou say'st well. Her eyes are filleted,
Or should be so. Thou, that dost call thyself
-But no! I will not breathe a traitor's name-
Speak! thou art arraign'd of treason.
You, before whom I stand, of darker guilt,
In the bright face of heaven ; and your own hearts
Give echo to the charge. Your very looks
Have ta’en the stamp of crime, and seem to shrink,
With a perturb’d and haggard wildness, back
From the too-searching light.—Why, what hath wrought
This change on noble brows?-There is a voice,
With a deep answer, rising from the blood
Your hands have coldly shed !-Ye are of those
From whom just men recoil, with curdling veins,
All thrill'd by life's abhorrent consciousness,
And sensitive feeling of a murderer's presence.
-Away! come down from your tribunal-seat,
Put off your robes of state, and let your mien
Be pale and humbled; for ye bear about you
That which repugnant earth doth sicken at,
More than the pestilence.—That I should live
To see my father shrink !
Montalba, speak! There's something chokes my voice—but fear me not.
If we must plead to vindicate our acts,
Be it when thou hast made thine own look clear!
Most eloquent youth! What answer canst thou make
To this our charge of treason?
I will plead That cause before a mightier judgment-throne, Where mercy is not guilt. But here, I feel Too buoyantly the glory and the joy Of my free spirit's whiteness; for e'en now Th' embodied hideousness of crime doth seem Before me glaring out.—Why, I saw thee, Thy foot upon an aged warrior's breast, Trampling our nature's last convulsive heavings. -And thou—thy sword—Oh, valiant chief !-is yet Red from the noble stroke which pierced, at once,
A mother and the babe, whose little life
Was from her bosom drawn !-Immortal deeds
For bards to hymn!
I look upon his mien,
And waver.-Can it be?-My boyish heart
Deem'd him so noble once !-Away, weak thoughts!
Why should I shrink, as if the guilt were mine,
From his proud glance?
Oh, thou dissembler —thou,
So skilld to clothe with virtue's generous flush
The hollow cheek of cold hypocrisy,
That, with thy guilt made manifest, I can scarce
Believe thee guilty Slook on me, and say
Whose was the secret warning voice, that saved
De Couci with his bands, to join our foes,
And forge new fetters for th’ indignant land?
Whose was this treachery? (Shows him papers.)
Who hath promised here,
(Belike to appease the manès of the dead,)
At midnight to unfold Palermo's gates,
And welcome in the foe?--Who hath done this,
But thou, a tyrant's friend?
Who hath done this: Father !-ifl
call thee by that nameLook, with thy piercing eye, on those whose smiles Were masks that hid their daggers. There, perchance, May lurk what loves not light too strong. For me, I know but this—there needs no deep research To prove the truth—that murderers may be traitors Ev'n to each other.
PROCIDA (to MONTALBA).
His unaltering cheek
Still vividly doth hold its natural hue,
And his eye quails not !- Is this innocence ?
No! 'tis th' unshrinking hardihood of crime.
-Thou bear'st a gallant mien ! But where is she
Whom thou hast barter'd fame and life to save,
The fair Provençal maid ?-What! know'st thou not
That this alone were guilt, to death allied ?
Was 't not our law that he who spared a foe,
(And is she not of that detested race ?)
Should thenceforth be amongst us as a foe?
-Where hast thou borne her ?-speak!
That Heaven, whose eye Burns up thy soul with its far-searching glance, Is with her; she is safe.
And by that word
Thy doom is seal’d. Oh God! that I had died
Before this bitter hour, in the full strength
And glory of my heart !
(CONSTANCE enters, and rushes to RAIMOND.)
Oh ! art thou found ? -But yet, to find thee thus !-Chains, chains for thee! My brave, my noble love!-Off with these bonds; Let him be free as air :—for I am come To be your victim now.
Death has no pang
More keen than this.-Oh! wherefore art thou here?
I could have died so calmly, deeming thee
Saved, and at peace.