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Tar. Approve that firmness in the shock of trial,
And if my love can recompense thy virtue,
Nor tortures, nor temptations, nor the wreck
Of Rome and empire, shall divide me from thee.
To this I pledge my hand. Now to the temple !
SCENE I.-The Tent of Sextus in the Camp before Ardea.
A magnificent Banquet. SEXTUS, R., COLLATINUS, R.C., CLAUDIUS, L. C., and ARUNS,
L., discovered, drinking. Sex. Come, then, here's to the fairest nymph in Italy And she's in Rome.
Aruns. Here's to the fairest nymph in Italy;
And she is not in Rome.
Sex. Where is she, then ?
Aruns. Ask Collatine ; he'll swear she's at Collatia.
Sex. His wife!
Aruns. Even so. [They rise and come forward
Claud. Is it so, Collatine?
Well, 'tis praiseworthy, in this vicious age,
To see a young man true to his own spouse.
Oh, 'tis a vicious age! When I behold
One who is bold enough to steer against
The wind of tide and custom, I behold him
With veneration; 'tis a vicious age!
Col. Laugh on, though I'm the subject! If to love
My wife's ridiculous, I'll join the laugh;
Though I'll not say if I laugh at or with you !
Aruns. [Ironically.) The conscious wood was witness
to his sighs,
The conscious Dryads wiped their watery eyes,
For they beheld the wight forlorn, to-day,
And so did I ;-but I shall not betray.
Here now he is, however, thanks to me
That is, his semblance, for his soul dwells hence.
How was it when you parted? (Mimicking.) Shemy
love, *Fear not, good so th, I'll very constant prove.' He :—' And so will 1,--for whereso'er I steer, ''Tis but my mortal clay; my soul is here.' [All laugh.
Sex. And prythee, Collatine, in what array
Did the god Hymen come to thee? How dressed,
And how equipped ? I fear me much, he left
His torch behind, so that thou couldst not see
A fault in thy beloved; or was the blaze
So burning bright, that thy bedazzled eyes
Have since refused their office ?
Col. And doth Sextus
Judge by his own experience, then, of others ?
To him, I make no doubt, hath Hymen's torch
Discovered faults enough! what pity 'twas
He had not likewise brought i' th' other hand,
A mirror, where the prince might read himself.
Sex. I like thee now: thou’rt gay, and I'll be grave.
As to those dear, delicious creatures, women,
Hear what my own experience has taught me :-
I've ever found 'em fickle, artful, amorous,
Fruitful in schemes to please their changeful fancies,
And fruitful in resources when discovered.
They love unceasingly—they never change-
Oh, never !-no!-excepting in the object !
Love of new faces is their first great passion ;
Then love of riches, grandeur, and attention !
Knowing all this, I seek not constancy,
But, to anticipate their wishes, rove,
Humour their darling passion, and am blessed!
Col. This is the common cant—the stale, gross, idle, Unmeaning jargon, of all those, who, conscious Of their own littleness of soul, avoid With timid eye the face of modest virtue ; Who, mingling only with the base, and flushed With triumphs over those they dare attack, The weak, the forward, or depraved, declare (And fain would make their shallow notions current) That womankind are all alike, and hoot At virtue, whereso'er she passes by them. I have seen sparks like these-and I have seen
A little worthless village cur, all night
Bay with incessant noise the silver moon,
While she, serene, throned in her pearléd car,
Sailed in full state along-—But Sextus' judgment
Owns not his words, and the resemblance glances
Un others, not on him.
Ser. Let it glance where and upon whom it will,
Sextus 18 mighty careless of the matter.
Now hear what I have seen. I've seen young men,
Who, having fancied they have found perfection-
Col. Sextus, no more-
e-lest I forget myself, And thee.-I tell thee, prince
Aruns. Nay, hold ! Sextus, you go too far.
Sex. Why, pray, good sir, may I not praise the wife Of this same testy, froward husband here, But on his cheek offence must quivering sit? And dreamed of insult !-the abortive child Of misconstruction, whose near-sighted eye Discerns not jest for real. Col. I heed you not-jest on ; I'll aid your
humour : Let Aruns use me for his princely laughter, Let Claudius deck me with ironic praise ; But when you touch a nearer, dearer subject, Perish the man, nay, may he doubly perish, Who can sit still, and hear, with skulking coolness, The least abuse, or shadow of a slight, Cast on the woman whom he loves ! though here Your praise or blame are pointless equally, Nor really add the least, nor take away From her true value, more than they could add To th' holy gods.
Aruns. If that a man might dare to ope When Collatinus frowns, I would presume To say one word in praise of my own wife; And I will say, could our eyes stretch to Rome, In spite of the perfections of Lucretia, My wife, who loves her fire-side, and hates gadding, Would prove far otherwise employed-and better, Ay, better, as a woman, than the deity Residing at Collatia.
Sex. (Aside.] Well timed ;-I'll seize th' occasion :
View this Lucretia ere I sleep, and satisfy
My senses whether fame has told the truth.
[Aloud.] I'll stake my life on't–Let us mount our horses.
And post away this instant towards Roine.
That we shall find thy wife, and his, and his,
Making the most of this, their liberty.
Why, 'tis the sex : enjoying to the full
The swing of licence which their husbands' absence
Affords. I'll stake my life that this is true :
And that my own, (ill as I may deserve it)-
Knows her state best, keeps best within the bounds
Her matron duties claim; that she's at home,
While yours are feasting at their neigbours' houses.
What say'st thou, Collatine,
On rioting at home ?
Col. Had I two lives, I'd stake them on the trial
Nor fear to live both out.
Sex. Let us away, then.
Come, come, my Collatinus,—droop not thus---
Col. I am not sad-
Sex. But fearful for th' event.
Col. Not in the least.
Sex. A little.
Col. Not a whit:
You do not know Lucretia.
Sex. But we shall.
Let's lose no time. Come, brothers ! Let's away.
[Exeunt omnes, R.
SCENE II.-Rome.-- An Apartment in the Palace.
Enter BRUTUS, L.
Bru. (Alone. Oh, that some light would beam from
heav'n to teach me
When to 'burst forth, and how to gain my purpose !
For Rome I would resign all other bonds,
And tear each private tie from my fixed heart.
Ha !-Some one comes ! It is
He seems Wrapt a Elysium, and elate with joy! [Retires
Enter TITUS, L.
Tit. Tis döne! 'tis done ! suspicious are the fates
Tarquinia's word is pledged, and all is brightness !
Bru. [Coming down.] That exclamation was too lofty,
Such raptures ill become the troubled times-
Of such, no more.
Tit. Oh! at an hour like this,
Who could repress the thrill of grateful joy!
Bru. [Eagerly.] What dost thou mean?
Bru. What of her ?
Tit. Her vows are pledged,
And Heaven's propitious smile will make her mine.
Bru. Thine? What! Thine? Heaven make Tar.
quinia thine ?
Away! away! Heav'n spurns the race she springs from !
Tit. How !-Father, wert thou to thyself restored,
Thou would'st exult to see thy son thus blest.
Our vows are past. They cannot be recalled.
And soon the nuptial altar will behold her
My own forever.
Bru. No, Titus, not forever !
If thou art mine, thou canst not be Tarquinia's.
Renounce thy father-or renounce thy love.
Tit. Nay, loose me, father-this is frenzy all.
E'en hadst thou spoken the dictates of thy soul,
(For sure thou canst not know what thou requir’st,)
I must not, would not, could not, yield Tarquinia.
Nay—let me go—or my racked heart will break.
Bru. Leave me.
Retire. Thine is no Roman heart.
Ere long the moon will change-the moon—my god-
And then thou may'st behold a change in Brutus.
Tit. 'Tis as I thought; Folly resumes its reign.
Look on him, oh, ye gods!
Grant him once more the treasure now withheld,
And to his son restore a long lost father! [Exit, R.
Bru. [Alone.] I was too sudden. I should have delayed,
And watched a surer moment for my purpose.
He must be frighted from this dream of love.
What, shall the son of Junius wed a Tarquin!
As yet I've been no father to my son-
I could be none : but, through the cloud that wraps me