AN UNPUBLISHED DRAMA.
ROME.—A Hall in a Palace. ALESSANDRA and CASTIGLIONE
Alessandra. Thou art sad, Castiglione.
Castiglione. Sad!—not I.
Oh, I’m the happiest, happiest man in Rome!
A few days more, thou knowest, my Alessandra,
Will make thee mine. Oh, I am very happy!
Aless. Methinks thou hast a singular way of showing
Thy happiness—what ails thee, cousin of mine?
Why didst thou sigh so deeply?
Cas. Did I sigh?
I was not conscious of it. It is a fashion,
A silly—a most silly fashion I have
When I am very happy. Did I sigh? (sighing.)
Aless. Thou didst. Thou art not well. Thou hast indulged
Too much of late, and I am vexed to see it.
Late hours and wine, Castiglione,—these
Will ruin thee! thou art already altered—
Thy looks are haggard—nothing so wears away
The constitution as late hours and wine.
Cas. (musing ). Nothing, fair cousin, nothing—
Not even deep sorrow—
Wears it away like evil hours and wine.
I will amend.
Aless. Do it! I would have thee drop
Thy riotous company, too—fellows low born
Ill suit the like of old Di Broglio’s heir
And Alessandra’s husband.
Cas. I will drop them.
Aless. Thou wilt—thou must. Attend thou also more
To thy dress and equipage—they are over plain
For thy lofty rank and fashion—much depends
Cas. I’ll see to it.
Aless. Then see to it!—pay more attention, sir,
To a becoming carriage—much thou wantest
Cas. Much, much, oh, much I want
In proper dignity.
(haughtily). Thou mockest me, sir!
(abstractedly). Sweet, gentle Lalage!
Aless. Heard I aright?
I speak to him—he speaks of Lalage?
(places her hand on his shoulder)
what art thou dreaming?
He’s not well!
What ails thee, sir?
Cas.(starting). Cousin! fair cousin!—madam!
I crave thy pardon—indeed I am not well—
Your hand from off my shoulder, if you please.
This air is most oppressive!—Madam—the Duke!
Enter Di Broglio.
Di Broglio. My son, I’ve news for thee!—hey!
—what’s the matter?
I’ the pouts? Kiss her, Castiglione! kiss her,
You dog! and make it up, I say, this minute!
I’ve news for you both. Politian is expected
Hourly in Rome—Politian, Earl of Leicester!
We’ll have him at the wedding. ’Tis his first visit
To the imperial city.
Aless. What! Politian
Of Britain, Earl of Leicester?
Di Brog. The same, my love.
We’ll have him at the wedding. A man quite young
In years, but gray in fame. I have not seen him,
But Rumor speaks of him as of a prodigy
Pre-eminent in arts, and arms, and wealth,
And high descent. We’ll have him at the wedding.
Aless. I have heard much of this Politian.
Gay, volatile and giddy—is he not,
And little given to thinking?
Di Brog. Far from it, love.
No branch, they say, of all philosophy
So deep abstruse he has not mastered it.
Learned as few are learned.
Aless. ’Tis very strange!
I have known men have seen Politian
And sought his company. They speak of him
As of one who entered madly into life,
Drinking the cup of pleasure to the dregs.
Cas. Ridiculous! Now I have seen Politian
And know him well—nor learned nor mirthful he.
He is a dreamer, and shut out
From common passions.
Di Brog. Children, we disagree.
Let us go forth and taste the fragrant air
Of the garden. Did I dream, or did I hear
Politian was a melancholy man?
ROME.—A Lady’s Apartment, with a window open and looking into a garden.
LALAGE, in deep mourning, reading at a table on which lie some books and
a hand-mirror. In the background JACINTA (a servant maid) leans
carelessly upon a chair.
Lalage. Jacinta! is it thou?
(pertly). Yes, ma’am, I’m here.
Lal. I did not know, Jacinta, you were in waiting.
Sit down!—let not my presence trouble you—
Sit down!—for I am humble, most humble.
Jac. (aside). ’Tis time.
(Jacinta seats herself in a side-long manner upon the chair, resting
her elbows upon the back, and regarding her mistress with a contemptuous
look. Lalage continues to read.)
Lal. “It in another climate, so he said,
Bore a bright golden flower, but not i’ this soil!”
(pauses—turns over some leaves and resumes.)
“No lingering winters there, nor snow, nor shower—
But Ocean ever to refresh mankind
Breathes the shrill spirit of the western wind”
Oh, beautiful!—most beautiful!—how like
To what my fevered soul doth dream of Heaven!
O happy land! (pauses) She died!—the maiden died!
O still more happy maiden who couldst die!
(Jacinta returns no answer, and Lalage presently resumes.)
Again!—a similar tale
Told of a beauteous dame beyond the sea!
Thus speaketh one Ferdinand in the words of the play—
“She died full young”—one Bossola answers him—
“I think not so—her infelicity
Seemed to have years too many”—Ah, luckless lady!
Jacinta! (still no answer.)
Here’s a far sterner story—
But like—oh, very like in its despair—
Of that Egyptian queen, winning so easily
A thousand hearts—losing at length her own.
She died. Thus endeth the history—and her maids
Lean over her and keep—two gentle maids
With gentle names—Eiros and Charmion!
Rainbow and Dove!—Jacinta!
(pettishly). Madam, what is it?
Lal. Wilt thou, my good Jacinta, be so kind
As go down in the library and bring me
The Holy Evangelists?
Lal. If there be balm
For the wounded spirit in Gilead, it is there!
Dew in the night time of my bitter trouble
Will there be found—”dew sweeter far than that
Which hangs like chains of pearl on Hermo