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Countess. Didst thou slay him sleeping ?
The horrible deed !--Thou couldst not! O thou couldst not!
Garcio. Well mayst thou say it! I've become, sweet Margaret,
Living, though most unworthy as I was,
Companion of thy virtues, one whose heart
Has been to good affections form’d and bent;
But then it was not so.—My hapless youth
In bloody, savage, predatory war
Was rear'd. It was no shock to my rude childhood
To see whole bands of drunk or sleeping men
In cold blood butcher'd. Could I tell to thee
The things that I have seen: things, too, in which
My young hand took its part; thou wouldst not wonder,
That, seeing thus my enemy in my power,
Love, fortune, honours, all within the purchase
Of one fell stroke, I raised my arm and gave it.
Countess. Fearful temptation !
The behaviour of the countess surpasses, if possible, the force and thrilling effect of the whole scene. Nothing can be finer than her weakness and her strength, the calm dignity of her resolution, crossed by her fears for her husband's safety, and the lingering and inextinguishable feelings of deep attachment. We have marked one or two lines in italics.
Countess. And I have been the while thy bosom's mate,
Pressing in plighted love the bloody hand
That slew my brother!
Thou, indeed, hast been
An angel pure link'd to a fiend. Yet think not
I have enjoy'd what guilt so deep had earn'd.
Oh no! I've borne about, where'er I went,
A secret wretchedness within my breast
Turning delight to torment. Now thou knowest
Why on my midnight couch thou'st heard me oft
Utter deep groans, when thou, waked from thy sleep,
Hast thought some nightmare press'd me.
Oh! were the deed undone, not all the difference
Of sublunary bliss that lies between
A world's proud monarch and the lothliest wretch
That gleans subsistence from the fetid dunghill,
Would tempt me to embrue my hands in murder.
(Speaking these last words loud and vehemently.) COUNTESS, Hush ! speak not thus! thou'lt be o'erheard : some
list'ner Is at the door. I thought I heard a noise. (Going to the door, open
ing it, then shutting it softly and returning.) No; there is nothing : 't was my fears deceived me. GARCIO, And dost thou fear for me? Is there within thee
Still some remains of love for one so guilty?
Thou wilt not then, in utter detestation,
Heap curses on my head.
Countess. Guilty as thou hast been, I cannot curse thee.
O no! I'll nightly from my cloister'd cell
Send up to pitying Heaven my prayers for thee.
GARCIO. Thy cloister'd cell! What mean those threatening words?
Countess. Garcio, we must part.
Garcio. No; never ! Any punishment but this! We shall not part.
Countess. We must, we must! 'T were monstrous,'t were unholy Longer to live with thee.
Garcio. No, Margaret, no! Think'st thou I will indeed
Submit to this, even cursed as I am ?
No; were I black as hell's black fiends, and thou
Pure as celestial spirits (and so thou art),
Still thou art mine; my sworn, my wedded love,
And still as such I hold thee.
Countess. Heaven bids us part: yea, Nature bids us part.
GARCIO. Heaven bids us part! Then let it send its lightning
To strike me from thy side. Let yawning earth,
Opening beneath my feet, divide us. Then,
And not till then, will I from thee be sever'd.
COUNTESS. Let go thy terrible grasp: thou wouldst not o'er me A dreaded tyrant rule ? Beneath thy power
Watching in secret horror every glance
Of thy perturbed eye, like a quell'd slave,
If this suffice thee; but all ties of love
All sympathy between us now is broken
And lost for ever.
Garcio. And canst thou be so ruthless ? No, thou canst not!
Let Heaven in its just vengeance deal with me!
Let pain, remorse, disease, and every ill
Here in this world of nature be my portion !
And in the world of spirits too well I know
The murderer's doom abides me.
Is this too little for thy cruelty ?
No; by the living God! on my curst head
Light every ill but this! We shall not part.
Countess. Let go thy desperate hold, thou desperate man!
Thou dost constrain me to an oath as dreadful;
And by that awful name
Then it must be; there is no mitigation.
(Throws himself on the ground, uttering a deep groan, when
Rovani and SOPHERA burst in upon them from opposite sides.)
Rovani (to the Countess). What is the matter? Hath he on himself Done some rash act? I heard him loud and stormy.
Sophers. She cannot answer thee: look to the Count,
And I will place her gently on her couch ;
For they are both most wretched.
(Sophera supports the Countess, while Rovani endearours
to raise Garcio from the ground, and the scene closes.)'
vol. ii. pp. 48-60. Religion subdues the mind of Garcio, not merely to consent to, but to acknowledge the inevitable necessity of the Separution. He submits to it as a meet penance for his awful crime. His strength now comes in aid of her almost wavering, almost failing resolution.
The parting scene between Garcio and the Countess is equally high-wrought and affecting :COUNTESS.
Alas! thou'rt greatly alter'd:
So pale thy cheek, thine eyes so quench'd and sunk!
Hath one short night so changed thee?
Garcio. A night spent in the tossings of despair,
When the fierce turmoil of contending passions
To deepest self-abasement and contrition
Subside ;-a night in which I have consented
To tear my bosom up-to rend in twain
Its dearest, only ties ;-ay, such a night
Works on the mortal frame the scathe of years.
Countess. Alas! thy frame will feel, I fear, too soon
The scathe of years. Sorrow and sickness then
Will bow thee down, while cold unkindly strangers
Neglect thy couch, nor give thee needful succour.
GARCIO. And wherefore grieve for this ? So much the better:
They least befriend the wretched who retard
The hour of his release. Why should I live
If Heaven accept my penitence? Hath earth
Aught still to raise a wish, or gleam the path
Of one so darken'd round with misery?
COUNTESS. Nay, say not so: thy child, thy boy, to see him
In strength and stature grown,-would not this tempt thee
To wish some years of life?
GARCIO. Others shall rear him; others mark his change
From the sweet cherub to the playful boy ;
Shall, with such pity as an orphan claims,
Share in his harmless sports and catch his love;
Whilst I, if that I live and am by Heaven
Permitted, coming as a way-worn stranger,
At distant intervals, to gaze upon him,
And strain him to my heart, shall from his eye
The cold and cheerless stare of wonderment
Instead of love receive.
• COUNTkSs. O think not so! he shall be taught to love thee-.
He shall be taught to lisp thy name, and raise
His little hands to Heaven for blessings on thee
As one most dear, though absent.
GARCIO, I do believe that thou wilt teach him so.
I know that in my logely state of penitence,
Sever'd from earthly bliss, I to thy mind
Shall be like one whom death hath purified.
O that, indeed, or death, or any suff'rings
By earthly frame or frameless spirit endured,
Could give me such a nature as again
Might be with thine united !!
• COUNTEss. And wilt thou then a houseless wand'rer be?
Shall I, in warm robe wrapp'd, by winter fire
List to the pelting blast, and think the while
Of thy unshelter'd head?
Or eat my bread in peace, and think that Garcio-
Reduce nie not to such keen misery!
(Bursting into an agony of lears.) . GARCIO. And dost thou still feel so much pity for me? Retain I yet some portion of thy love? O, if I do- I am not yet abandoned To utter reprobation. (Falling at her feet, and embracing her knees.)
Margaret! wife! May I still call thee by that name so dear ? COUNTESS (disentangling herself from his hold, and removing to
some distance.) 0, leave me, leave me! for Heaven's mercy leave me !
Garcio ( following her, and bending one knee to the ground.)
Margaret, beloved wife! keenly beloved!
Countess. Oh, move me not! forbear, forbear in pity!
Fearful, and horrible, and dear thou art!
Both heaven and hell are in thee! Leave me then,-
Leave me to do that which is right and holy
GARCIO. Yes, what is right and holy thou shalt do;
Stain'd as I am with bloodwith kindred blood-
How could I live with thee? O do not think
I basely seek to move thee from thy purpose,
0, no! Farewell, most dear and honour'd Margaret;
Yet, ere I go, couldst thou without abhorrence-(Pauses.)
COONTESS. What wouldst thou, Garcio ?
GARCIO. If but that hand beloved were to my lips
Once more in parting press'd, methinks I'd go
With lighten'd misery. Alas! thou canst not!
Thou canst not to such guilt -
I can! I will!
And Heaven in mercy pardon me this sin,
If sin it be.'—vol. ii. pp. 70-72.
VOL, LV. NO. CX.
We have hitherto chosen our extracts chiefly to display the strong dramatic effect of these compositions--before we conclude, we must make room for one more passage in Miss Baillie's sweetest tone of poetry :-
SOPHERA. And look, I pray, how sweet and fresh and fragrant
The dewy morning is. There, o'er our heads
The birds conven'd like busy gossips sit,
Trimming their speckled feathers. In the thick
And tufted herbage, with a humming noise
Stirs many a new-waked thing; amongst the grass
Beetles, and lady-birds, and lizards glide,
Showing their shining coats like tinted gold.
Countess. Yes, all things, in a sunny morn like this,
That social being have and fellowship
With others of their kind, begin the day
Gladly and actively. Ah! how wakes he,
His day of lonesome silence to begin,
Who, of all social intercourse bereft,
On the cold earth hath pass’d the dismal night?
Cheerful domestic stir, nor crowing cock,
Nor greeting friend, nor fawning dog hath he
To give him his good-morrow.
Sophera. Nay, do not let your fancy brood on this,
Think not my Lord, though he with Gomez parted
In a lone wood, will wander o'er the earth
In dreary solitude. In every country
Kind hearts are found to cheer the stranger's way.
COUNTESS. Heaven grant he meet with such!
SOPHERA. Then be not so cast down. Last night the air
Was still and pleasant; sweetly through the trees,
Which moved not, look'd the stars and crescent moon :
The night-bird's lengthen'd call with fitful lapse,
And the soft ceaseless sound of distant rills
Upon the list’ning ear came soothingly;
While the cool freshness of the air was mix'd
With rising odours from the flowery earth.
In such sweet summer nights, be well assured
The unhoused head sleeps soundest.
Countess. The unhoused head! and Garcio's now is such!"
vol. ii. pp. 79, 80. The close of the Separation is rather melo-dramatic; but on the stage might produce a stirring effect. The Marquis of Tortona, indignant at the contemptuous rejection of his suit by the widow-wife of Garcio, invests the castle with a great body of troops. Among the objects of charity who crowd to the hospitable gate of the Countess is a mysterious hermit, who conceals himself in the castle during this siege. The small garrison is re