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Which places in my hand a gift 10 wished for,
I almost feared never to call it mine,
Fulfilling hopes too oft and long deferred ;
Tasso. If you are satisfied, I must be so,
For I regard the work as yours in spirit.
The embodying, indeed, is mine ; but all
Which gives my lay its worth and dignity
Takes rise from you. For if I were endowed
By Nature with the power to tell in song
The visitings of gentle Fancy, Fortuno
Always refused to aid her sister's bounty ;
The fire which Nashed from the boy-poet's eye
Was often quenched with ineffcctual tears,
Forced by his parents' undeserved distress ;
And his lyre's sweetest tones could not alleviate
The sorrows of those dear ones: till thy grace
Sought out and drew me from this living grave
To liberty and light, wherein my soul
Her powers expanded, and gavo forth a voice
of love and courage. But for you this lay
Had never seen the light. Receive your work.
Alph. Be doubly honored for thy modesty.
Tasso. O, could I speak as I profoundly feel
My gratitude! My youth knew nought of arms;
Apart from action's busy scene I learned
From thee the varied forms of life. The wisdom
of the commander, the heroic courage
of youthful knighthood - if my lay could paint them,
'Tis from thy converse I have drawn their being.
Prin. Enough! Rejoice in the delight thou givest.
Alph. In the applause of all good minds.
Leon. Of all the world!
Tasso. This moment gives reward and joy enough.
On you I thought whether I mused or wrote;
To give you pleasure was my constant wish,
My highest aim and hope. Who finds not
A world in his friends' hearts, can never merit
That the world hear his name. Why! in this circle
My soul could live and find it wide enough ;
Experience, wisdom, taste have forged the links
Which bind you to all after ages. What
Can crowds do for the artist? Mingled voices
Bewilder and confuse him. Only those
Who feel like you shall understand and judge me.
Alph. If in thy eyes we really represent
The present and the future world, we should not
Omit to give this thought some outward token :
The crown which even heroes must rejoice
To wreathe around the temples of the bard,
Without whom all their glory could not live,
Some genius must have placed upon the head
Of thy great ancestor for this occasion.
[Pointing to the bust of Virgil. Methinks he
says, “If you would truly vonerate
The illustrious dead, do honor to the living,
As our contemporaries did to us.
My statue tells its tale, and needs no crown;
Bestow its living honors on tho living."
[Alphonso beckons his sister ; she takes the crown
and approaches Tasso; he draws back. Leon. Wilt thou refuse the imperishablo crown
From such a hand ?
O, pardon me ; such honor is not for me.
Alph. Soon shall the world pronounce it justly thino.
Prin. (Holding up the crown.) Wilt thou deny me the rare
Without a word to tell thee what I think?
The precious burden from that dearest hand
My head, though weak, shall not decline.
[Kneels down ; she places it on his heada Leon.
Thy first crown becomes thee well.
Another shall be added at the Capitol.
Prin. And plaudits there shall tell thee what the lips
Of friendship can but whisper now.
o, take it
From this unworthy head; my locks are singed,
And thought burned from my brain as by the rays
Of an o'erpowering sun. A foverish heat
veins. Pardon I it is too much. Leon. Rather shall it protect thy head when wandering
In Fame's domain, which lies so near the sun,
And yield a grateful shade.
I am not worthy
Of such refreshment. Rather place it
Amid the farthest clouds, that life-long toils
May strive to such an aim.
He who early wins,
Best prizes this world's sweetest blessings. He
Obtaining early, ill endures the loss
of that which long possessed seems part of life ;
And he who would possess must still be ready.
Tasso. And that requires a never failing strength,
Which now deserts me. In this prosperous moment
My heart misses the courage which ne'er failed me
In rudest shocks of past adversity.
Yet once again, my princess, hear my prayer ;
Remove the crown ; it does, and must, oppress me. Prin. If thou couldst humbly walk beneath the weight
Of Nature's richest, rarest gifts, thou wilt not
Sink under that of laurel garlands :
Content thee in our will. Even if we wished,
We could not take them from the brows they once
Let me go then
To that still grove where oft I mused in sorrow,
To mcditate iny happiness. There no cye
Can glance reproaches at my want of merit;
And should some fountain give me back the image
Of one who sits 'nenth heaven's blue canopy
Amid those lofty pillars, his brow crowned
And his eye fixed in thought, I shall but fancy
Elysium lies before mine eye. I ask,
Who is the happy one ? Some bard or hero
From the bright by-gone day. Where are the others,
His comrades and inspirers ? O, to see them
Bound in a circle by that strongest magnet
Which links the answering souls of bards and horoes I
Homer felt not himself; his true existence
Was in the contemplation of two heroes ;
And Alexander welcomes in Elysium
With like embrace Achilles and his poet.
O, might I share such greeting!
Hush such fancies, Dost thou disdain the present? Tasso
'Tis that present Which elevates me to such rapturous thoughts.
The former persons and ANTONIO.
For thine own sake, and for the prosperous end
Of thine adventure.
To us also welcome.
Anto. Can I express the pleasure of these moments ?
To see you all at last, and find you
With all which I have done in your behalf,
0, 'tis full recompense for each vexation,
The wearing cares, and days of weariness.
I have fulfilled your wishes and am happy.
Leon. I bid thee cordial welcome, though thy coming
Is summons to my undesired departure.
Anto. And this is bitter mixed in
cup Tasso. To me too, welcome. May I also hope
Some benefit from thine experience ?
Anto. If thou shouldst e'er incline to cast a look
From thy world into mine.
Though from thy letters
I know the outlines of thy late transactions,
Yet many questions I would ask. How finally
Was thy success obtained ? Full well I know
A faithful servant is hard tasked in Rome ;
For there, the powers that be, take all, give nought Anto. Not through my diplomatic skill, my lord,
Was all you wished obtained. But many chances
Came to my aid, and Gregory, the worthiest,
The most discriminating head which ever
Worc the tiara, loves and honors thee,
Nor ever crossed my strivings in thy cause.
His favorable thoughts must give me pleasure,
But not invite my confidence. I know
As well as thou what sways the Vatican;
The wish for universal empire. Talk not
or favor, then, from princes or from men,
But say what helped thee most.
The pope's high mind sees truly, great as great And little things as little. He is one Who can command a world, yet love his neighbor. He knows the strip of land he yields to thee Is less worth than thy friendship. He would have Peace near him, that he may more undisturbed Rule Christendom, and hurl his thunderbolts With concentrated strength against the heathen.
Who are his counsellors and favorites ?
Wise and experienced men possess his ear ; His instruments do honor to his choice. Having long served the state, he knows her powers, And how to sway those foreign courts, all which He studied in succession as ambassador. Ho is not blinded by his separate interests To those of others, and his every action Speaks a large purpose, and a plan matured By many days of silent scrutiny. There is no fairer sight than a wise prince Swnying all interests to a just subservience To that of the great whole ; each man is proud