DUKE OF FERRARA.
TORRISMOND; his son.
The Marquis MALASPINA.
CYRANO; his son.
AMADEUS; a young nobleman.
VERONICA; Malaspina’s daughter.
ELVIRA; her attendant.
ERMINIA; Melchior’s sister.
An apartment in the ducal palace.
Enter the DUKE, Courtiers, and attendants.
Who has seen Torrismond, my son, to-night?
My lord, he has not crossed me, all the day.
(To Gomez aside.) You need not say we saw him pass the terrace,
All red and hot with wine. The duke is angry:
Mark how he plucks his robe.
Gomez, nor you?
Your Grace, in Garcia’s answer
Beheld the face of mine. I have not lent him
A word to-day.
Nor you? none of you, sirs?—
No answer! have ye sold yourselves to silence?
Is there not breath, or tongue, or mouth among you,
Enough to croak a curse?—Nay: there’s no wonder.
Why do I ask? that know you are his curs,
His echo-birds, the mirrors of his tongue.
He has locked up this answer in your throats,
And scratched it on your leaden memories.
What do I ask for? well: go on, go on;
Be his sop-oracles, and suck yellow truth
Out of the nipple of his jingling pouch.
But tell me this, dogs, that do wag your tails
Round this dwarf Mercury, this gilded Lie-god,
Will you set out and beg with him to-morrow?
Why, my good lord?
Because, my evil slave,—
Because unless he can these sunbeams coin,
Or, like a bee in metals, suck me out
The golden honey from their marly core,
He’s like to board with the cameleon:
Because I will untie him from my heart,
And drop him to the bottom of the world:—
Because I’ll melt his wings.—Enough!
You are too rough.—
Too rough! were I as loud
As shaggy Boreas in his bearish mood,—
Did I roll wheels of thunder o’er your souls,
And break them into groans,—weep yourselves waves,
And kneel beneath my storming. Worms ye are,
Born in the fat sides of my pouring wealth:—
Lie there and stir not, or I dash you off.
I am no lord, sir, but a father:
My son has stuck sharp injuries in my heart,
And flies to hide in your obscurity.
Cover him not with falsehoods; shield him not;
Or, by my father’s ashes,—but no matter.
You said I was a duke: I will be one,
Though graves should bark for it. You’ve heard me speak:
Now go not to your beds until my son
(—It is a word that cases not a meaning,—)
Come from his riots: send him then to me:
And hark! ye fill him not, as ye are wont,
To the lip’s brim with oily subterfuges.—
I sit this evening in the library.
Lights, lights there for the duke!
For the duke’s soul I would there were a light!
Well; on thy flinty resolution strike,
Benighted man! The sun has laid his hair
Up in that stone, as I have treasured love
In a cold heart;—but it begins to boil,
And, if it breaks its casket, will be out.
Find me a book of fables: he, whose world
Grows in his thoughts, methinks, alone is happy.
So now good-night; and do as I have said.
We shall.—Good dreams, your grace!
Good acts, you mean.
He who does ill, awake, and turns to night
For lovely-painted shades,
Is like a satyr grinning in a brook
To find Narcissus’ round and downy cheek.
(Exit, with attendants: manent Garcia and Gomez.
I never saw my lord so sad and angry:
His blood foamed, white with wrath, beneath his face,
Rising and falling like a sea-shore wave.
What boils him thus?
Perhaps some further outrage,
Reported of his son; for the young lord,
Whose veins are stretched by passion’s hottest wine,
Tied to no law except his lawless will,
Ranges and riots headlong through the world;—
Like a young dragon, on Hesperian berries
Purplely fed, who dashes through the air,
Tossing his wings in gambols of desire,
And breaking rain-clouds with his bulging breast.
Thus has he been from boy to youth and manhood,
Reproved, then favoured; threatened, next forgiven;
Renounced, to be embraced: but, till this hour,
Never has indignation like to this,
With lightning looks, black thoughts, and stony words,
Burst o’er the palace of their love, which stretches
From heart to heart.
I fear that both will shake;
And that fair union, built by interchange
Of leaning kindnesses, in the recoil
May fall between, and leave no bridge for pardon.
The little that we can, then let us strive
To hold them in the lock of amity:
For which our thoughts let us compare within.
A banqueting room in Malaspina’s palace.
CYRANO, AMADEUS, TORRISMOND, and other young lords, drinking.
Another health! Fill up the goblets, sirrah!
This wine was pressed from full and rolling grapes
By the white dance of a Circassian princess,
Whose breast had never aught but sunlight touched,
And her own tears: ’tis spicy, cool, and clear
As is a magic fount where rainbows grow,
Or nymphs by moonlight bathe their tremulous limbs;
And works an intellectual alchemy,
Touching the thoughts to sunshine. Now, to whom,—
To what young saint, between whose breathing paps
Love’s inspiration lies,—shall we devote
This last and richest draught: with whose soft name
Shall we wash bright our hearts? Say, Cyrano.
Let Torrismond be sponsor for this bowl.
He sate so still last night, that by plump Cupid,
That merry, cherry-lipped, delicious god,
Whose name is writ on roses, I must think
He’s paid away his soul in broken sighs,
Glass oaths, and tears of crocodilish coinage,
For one quick finger-kiss. Ask him, what name,
Made to be written upon hearts and trees,
And grace a sonnet, shall be sugar here,
Making the juice steam music.
I beseech you,
Waste not this Araby of words on me:
I’m dull, but not in love.
What means a leaning head, eye-lids ajar,
And lips thick-sown with whispers? Sir, I say,
Before to-morrow you’ll be soused in love,
To the ear’s tip. In truth, it will be so;
Sure as an almanac.
I lay my fate
Upon your mercy: e’en tie love-knots in it,
If you’ve nought else to do. Good Cyrano,
And you, sirs, all pray drink. I fear the fog
Of my most stupid dulness spreads.
One cup,—one more liquid delight, my friends;
Then for the masquerade at Signor Paulo’s.—
Ay; dedicated to the sweet To be,
The lady Future of our comrade’s love.
What rhymes unborn are shut within that word!
Thus then I soak my heart’s dear roots in wine,
And the warm drops roll up and down my blood,
Till every tendril of my straying veins
Rings with delight.
And now, my sons of Bacchus,
To the delirious dance!—Nay, Torrismond,
You’ll come with us at least.—
To night, I thank you,
It is against my will; indeed I cannot;
I’m vilely out of tune,—my thoughts are cracked,
And my words dismal. ‘Pray you, pardon me:
Some other night we will, like Bacchanals,
Shiver the air with laughter and rough songs,
And be most jovial madmen.
Be it so,
If be it must. We bid you, sir, farewell.
Good night, good lads.
[Exeunt Amadeus and others: manent Torrismond and Cyrano.
Now go, dear Cyrano;
Let me not keep you by my wayward mood.
If it does not offend you, suffer me—
Offend me! No; thou dost not, Cyrano;
I do offend myself. Hadst thou but eyes
To see the spirit toiling in this breast,
How low a wretch should I appear to thee;
How pitifully weak! Now tell me, sir,—
I shrink not from the truth, although it stab,
And beg it from your mouth,—what think you of me?
Of you, my lord?
Yes, yes; my words, my manners,
My disposition, will,—how seem they to you?
Sir, my heart speaks of you as one most kind;
Spirited and yet mild: a man more noble
Breathes not his maker’s air.
Stay, my good friend; I did not ask for flattery.
Nor I answer it;
Saying, that here I shake him by the hand
That has no better in humanity:
A fine, free spirit.
You had better say
A whirring, singing, empty wine-bubble,
Like one of these that left us. So I was;
Vain, futile, frivolous; a boy, a butterfly,—
In semblance: but inside, by heaven! a depth
Of thoughts most earnest, an unfuelled flame
Of self-devouring love. Cyrano, Cyrano,
I yearn, and thirst, and ache to be beloved,
As I could love,—through my eternal soul,
Immutably, immortally, intensely,
Immeasurably. Oh! I am not at home
In this December world, with men of ice,
Cold sirs and madams. That I had a heart,
By whose warm throbs of love to set my soul!
I tell thee I have not begun to live,
I’m not myself, till I’ve another self
To lock my dearest, and most secret thoughts in;
Change petty faults, and whispering pardons with;
Sweetly to rule, and Oh! most sweetly, serve.—
Have you no father,—nor a friend? Yet I,
I, Torrismond, am living, and the duke.
Forgive me, sir, forgive me: I am foolish;
I’ve said I know not what, I know not why;
‘Tis nothing,—fancies; I’ll to bed;—’tis nothing;
Worth but a smile, and then to be forgotten.
Good-night: to-morrow I will laugh at this.
I’ll say no more but that I hope you will.
I knew it would be so. He thinks me now
Weak, unintelligible, fanciful,—
A boy shut up in dreams, a shadow-catcher:
So let him think. My soul is where he sees not,
Around, above, below. Yes, yes; the curse
Of being for a little world too great,
Demanding more than nature has to give,
And drinking up, for ever and in vain,
The shallow, tasteless skimmings of their love,
Through this unfathomable fever here.—
A thought of comfort comes this way; its warmth
I feel, although I see it not. How’s this?
There’s something I half know; yes, I remember,—
The feast last night: a dear, ingenuous girl
Poured soft, smooth hope upon my dashing passions,
Until they tossed their billowy selves to sleep.
I’ll seek her, try her: in this very garden
Often she walks; thither I’ll bear my wishes,
And may she prove the echo of their craving!
A garden by moonlight.
VERONICA, ELVIRA and other female attendants.
Come then, a song; a winding, gentle song,
To lead me into sleep. Let it be low
As zephyr, telling secrets to his rose,
For I would hear the murmuring of my thoughts;
And more of voice than of that other music
That grows around the strings of quivering lutes;
But most of thought; for with my mind I listen,
And when the leaves of sound are shed upon it,
If there’s no seed remembrance grows not there.
So life, so death; a song, and then a dream!
Begin before another dewdrop fall
From the soft hold of these disturbed flowers,
For sleep is filling up my senses fast,
And from these words I sink.
How many times do I love thee, dear?
Tell me how many thoughts there be
In the atmosphere
Of a new-fall’n year,
Whose white and sable hours appear
The latest flake of Eternity:—
So many times do I love thee, dear.
How many times do I love again?
Tell me how many beads there are
In a silver chain
Of evening rain,
Unravelled from the tumbling main,
And threading the eye of a yellow star:—
So many times do I love again.
She sees no longer: leave her then alone,
Encompassed by this round and moony night.
A rose-leaf for thy lips, and then good-night:
So life, so death; a song, and then a dream!
[Exeunt Elvira and attendants, leaving Veronica asleep.
Herself! her very self, slumbering gently!
Sure sleep is turned to beauty in this maid,
And all the rivalry of life and death
Makes love upon her placid face. And here,
How threads of blue, wound off yon thorny stars
That grow upon the wall of hollow night,
Flow o’er each sister-circle of her bosom,
Knotting themselves into a clue for kisses
Up to her second lip. There liquid dimples
Are ever twinkling, and a sigh has home
Deep in their red division,—a soft sigh,
Scarce would it bow the summer-weeds, when they
Play billows in the fields, and pass a look
Of sunshine through their ranks from sword to sword,
Gracefully bending. On that cheek the blush
That ever dawns dares be no common blush,
But the faint ghost of some dishevelled rose
Unfurls its momentary leaves, and bursts
So quick the haunted fairness knows it not.
O that this gaze could be eternity!
And yet a moment of her love were more.
Were there infection in the mind’s disease,
Inoculation of a thought, even now
Should she, from all the windings of her dream,
Drink my impetuous passion, and become
All that I ask. Break from your buds, dear eyes,
And draw me into you.
(awaking.) Who’s there? I dreamt:—
As I do love that broad, smooth-edged star,
And her young, vandyked moons that climb the night
Round their faint mother, I would not have had
Another eye peeping upon that dream,
For one of them to wear upon my breast;
And I’ll not whisper it, for fear these flags
Should chance to be the green posterity
Of that eaves-dropping, woman-witted grass,
That robbed the snoring wasps of their least voice,
To teach their feathery gossips of the air
What long, and furry ears king Midas sprouted;
And I’ll not think of it, for meditation
Oft presses from the heart its inmost wish,
And thaws its silence into straying words.
(aside.) I am no man, if this dream were not spun
By the very silk-worm, that doth make his shop
In Cupid’s tender wing-pit, and winds fancies
In lovers’ corner thoughts, when grandam Prudence
Has swept the hearth of passion, thrown on cinders,
And gone to bed:—and she is not a woman,
If this same secret, buried in her breast,
Haunt not her tongue,—and hark! here comes its ghost.
A fable and a dream! Here, in this garden,
It seemed I was a lily:—
(aside.) So you are,
But fitter for Arabian paradise,
Or those arched gardens where pale-petalled stars,
With sunlight honeying their dewy cores,
Tremble on sinuous, Corinthian necks,—
Where Morn her roses feeds, her violets Night.
And to my lily-ship a wooer came,
Sailing upon the curvous air of morn,
(For ’twas a sunny dream, and a May sky
The lid of it;) and this imagined suitor,
A glass-winged, tortoise-shell, heart-broken bee,
Was—he you know of, heart. How did he bend
His slender knee, doffing his velvet cap,
And swearing, by the taste of Venus’ lip,
If I did not accept his airy love,
The truest heart, that ever told the minutes
Within an insect’s breast, should shed its life
Around the hilt of his unsheathed sting.
And then this tiny thunderer of flowers,
Quite, quite subdued, let down a string of tears,
(Little they were, but full of beeish truth,)
Almost a dew-drop-much, on the fair pages
Of transmigrated me; whereon, O Love!
Thou tamed’st the straightest prude of Flora’s daughters;
For I did pity Torrismond the bee,
And let him, if his life lived in my love,
Have that for courtesy.—
(coming forward.) O lady! then
Will you deny him now? when here he kneels,
And vows by heaven, and by the sacred souls
Of all the dead and living, in your pity
His hope is folded, in your soul his love,
And in that love his everlasting life.
Out on my tongue, the naughty runaway!
What has he heard? Now, if this man should be
Vain, selfish, light, or hearted with a stone,
Or worthless any way, as there are many,
I’ve given myself, like alms unto an idiot,
To be for nothing squandered.
And for my truth, O that my mind were open,
My soul expressed and written in a book,
That thou might’st read and know! Believe, believe me!
And fear me not, for, if I speak not truth,
May I speak never more, but be struck dumb!
May I be stripped of manhood and made devil,
If I mean not as truly unto thee,
Though bold it be, as thou unto thyself!
I will not swear, for thou dost know that easy:
But put me to the proof, say, ‘kill thyself;’
I will outlabour Hercules in will,
And in performance, if that waits on will.
Shall I fight sword-less with a youthful lion?
Shall I do ought that I may die in doing?
Oh! were it possible for such an angel,
I almost wish thou hadst some impious task,
That I might act it and be damned for thee.
But, earned for thee, perdition’s not itself,
Since all that has a taste of thee in it
Is blest and heavenly.
Stop! You frighten me: I dare not doubt you.
Dare not? Can you so?
I dare not, for I cannot. I believe you:
It is my duty.
To the dutiful
Their duty is their pleasure. Is it not?
‘Twas a rash word; it rather is my fate.
It is my fate to love; thou art my fate,
So be not adverse.
How can I say further?
I do believe you: less I’ll not avow,
And more I cannot.
This very night we both of us may die,
Or one at least: and it is very likely
We never meet; or, if we meet, not thus,
But somehow hindered by the time, the place,
The persons. There are many chances else,
That, though no bigger than a sunny mote,
Coming between may our whole future part,—
With Milo’s force tear our existence up,
And turn away the branches of each life,
Even from this hour, on whose star-knotted trunk
We would engraft our union; it may sever us
As utterly as if the world should split
Here, as we stand, and all Eternity
Push through the earthquake’s lips, and rise between us.
Then let us know each other’s constancy:
Thou in my mind, and I in thine shall be;
And so disseparable to the edge
Of thinnest lightning.—
Stay: be answered thus.
If thou art Torrismond, the brain of feather;
If thou art light and empty Torrismond,
The admiration, oath, and patron-saint
Of frivolous revellers, he whose corky heart,
Pierced by a ragged pen of Cupid’s wing,
Spins like a vane upon his mother’s temple
In every silly sigh,—let it play on:—
It is not so; I vow, Veronica—
If you unpeopled the Olympian town
Of all its gods, and shut them in one oath,
It would not weigh a flue of melting snow
In my opinion. Listen thus much more:
If thou art otherwise than all have held
Except myself; if these, which men do think
The workings of thy true concentrate self,
Have been indeed but bubbles raised in sport
By the internal god, who keeps unseen
The fountains of thine undiscovered spirit;
If, underneath this troubled scum of follies,
Lies what my hopes have guessed:—why guess thy wishes,
What it may be unto Veronica.
What need of doubts and guesses? make me firm;
With fixed assurance prop my withering hopes,
Or tear them up at once: give truth for truth.
I know it is the custom to dissemble,
Because men’s hearts are shallow, and their nature
So mean, ill-nurtured, selfish, and debased,
They needs must paint and swaddle them in lies,
Before the light could bear to look upon them.
But as thou art, thus unalloyed and fresh
From thy divine creation, soul and body,
Tread artifice to dust, and boldly speak
Thine innocent resolve.
Thus then I say:
As I believe thee steadfast and sincere,
(And, if it be not so, God pity me!)
I love thee dearly, purely, heartily;
So witness heaven, and our own silent spirits!
And by my immortality I swear,
With the like honesty, the like to thee,
Thou picture of the heavens!
Hark! some one comes:—
Now we must part. Henceforth remember thou,
How in this azure secresy of night,
And with what vows, we here have dedicated
Ourselves, and our eternity of being,
Unto each other in our maker’s presence.
Good-night then, Torrismond.
And such to thee,
As thou to me hast given, fairest fair!
Best good! of thy dear kind most ever dear!
An apartment in the ducal palace.
Enter the DUKE and courtiers.
Yes, was it not enough, good Garcia,—
Blood spilt in every street by his wild sword;
The reverend citizens pelted with wrongs,
Their rights and toil-won honours blown aside,
Torn off, and trampled ‘neath his drunken foot;
The very daughters of the awful church
Smeared in their whiteness by his rude attempts;
The law thus made a lie even in my mouth;
Myself a jest for beer-pot orators;
My state dishonoured;—was it not enough
To turn a patience, made of ten-years’ ice,
Into a thunderbolt?
It was too much:
I wonder at your grace’s long endurance.
Did you ne’er chide him?
No, never in his life:
He has not that excuse. My eyes and ears
Were frozen-closed. Yet was it not enough
That his ill deeds outgrew all name and number,
O’er-flowed his years and all men’s memories?
Gaudentio, I was mild; I bore upon me
This world of wrongs, and smiled. But mark you now,
How he was grateful.—Tell them, Melchior.
Linked, as it is surmised, with Lutherans,
And other rebels ‘gainst his father’s state,
He has not only for their aid obtained
From me, the steward of the dukedom, money,
But also robbed, most treacherously robbed,
By night, and like a thief, the public treasury.
I’ll not believe it; and he is a villain,
Ay, and the very thief, that did the thing,
Who brings the accusation.
Knave, I think
Thou wert my son’s accomplice.
Nay, my lord,
He says what all would say, and most myself,
But that these facts—
What facts? What witnesses?
Who saw? Who heard? Who knows?
Our trusty steward.
A Spanish Jew! a godless, heartless exile,
Whose ear’s the echo of the whispering world.
Why, if he only knows, and saw, and heard,
This Argus-witness, with his blood-hound nose,
Who keeps a fairy in his upright ear,
Is no more than a black, blind, ugly devil,
Nick-named a lie.
Be silent, slave, or dead.
I do believe him: Garcia, so dost thou?
All honest men, good Melchior, like thyself,—
For that thou art, I think, upon my life,—
Believe thee too.
It is my humble trust:
And, in the confidence of honesty,
I pray you pardon this good servant’s boldness.
(aside) God help the miserable velvet fellow!
It seems he has forgot that little story,
How he debauched my poor, abandoned sister,
And broke my family into the grave.—
That’s odd; for I exceeding well remember it,
Though then a boy.
Gaudentio, thou dost hear
Why I forgive thee: but be cautious, sir.
Cautious,—but honest,—cautious of a villain.
No more!—But see where comes the man we talk of.
Leave us together.
Torrismond, well met!—
Why then well parted, for I’m going to bed.
I’m weary; so, good-night.
Stay; I must speak to you.—
To-morrow then, good father, and all day.
But now no more than the old sleepy word,
And so again, good-night.
Turn, sir, and stay:
I will be brief, as brief as speech can be.—
Seek elsewhere a good night: there is none here.
This is no home for your good nights, bad son,
Who hast made evil all my days to come,
Poisoned my age, torn off my beauteous hopes
And fed my grave with them.—Oh! thou hast now,
This instant, given my death an hundred sinews,
And drawn him nearer by a thousand hours.
But what of that? You’d sow me like a grain,
And from my stalk pick you a ducal crown.
But I will live.—
That you may live and prosper
Is every day my prayer, my wish, my comfort.
But what offence has raised these cruel words?
That I may live, you plot against my life;
That I may prosper, you have cured my fortunes
Of their encrusted jaundice,—you have robbed me.
So, for your prayers and wishes I do thank you;
But for your deeds I wish and pray Heaven’s vengeance.
Is this your own invention, or—O nature!
O love of fathers! could a father hear
His offspring thus accused, and yet believe?
Believe! Could he endure, and not strike dead,
The monster of the lie? Sir, here or there,
In you, or your informers, there’s a villain,
A fiend of falsehood: so beware injustice!
I never was unjust, but when I pardoned
Your bloody sins and ravening appetites,—
For which Heaven pardon me, as I repent it!
But I’ll not play at battledore with words.
Hear me, young man, in whom I did express
The venom of my nature, thus the son,
Not of my virtuous will, but foul desires,
Not of my life, but of a wicked moment,
Not of my soul, but growing from my body,
Like thorns or poison on a wholesome tree,
The rank excrescence of my tumid sins,—
And so I tear thee off: for, Heaven doth know,
All gentler remedies I have applied;
But to this head thy rankling vice has swelled,
That, if thou dwellest in my bosom longer,
Thou wilt infect my blood, corrode my heart,
And blight my being: therefore, off for ever!
O mother, thou art happy in thy grave!
And there’s the hell in which my father lies,
The serpent that hath swallowed him!
GAUDENTIO rushes in.
(As he enters, to those without, the other
courtiers, who also enter but remain at the side.) Away!
Let me come in!…Now, I beseech you, lords,
Put out this anger; lay a night of sleep
Upon its head, and let its pulse of fire
Flap to exhaustion. Do not, sir, believe
This reptile falsehood: think it o’er again,
And try him by yourself; thus questioning,
Could I, or did I, thus, or such a fault,
In my beginning days? There stands before you
The youth and golden top of your existence,
Another life of yours: for, think your morning
Not lost, but given, passed from your hand to his,
The same except in place. Be then to him
As was the former tenant of your age,
When you were in the prologue of your time,
And he lay hid in you unconsciously,
Under his life. And thou, my younger master,
Remember there’s a kind of god in him,
And after heaven the next of thy religion.
Thy second fears of God, thy first of man,
Are his, who was creation’s delegate,
And made this world for thee in making thee.
A frost upon thy words, intended dog!
Because thy growth has lost its four-legged way
And wandered with thee into man’s resemblance,
Shalt thou assume his rights? Get to thy bed,
Or I’ll decant thy pretext of a soul,
And lay thee, worm, where thou shalt multiply.
Sir slave, your gibbet’s sown.
Leave him, Gaudentio,
My father and your master are not here;
His good is all gone hence, he’s truly dead;
All that belonged to those two heavenly names
Are gone from life with him, and changing cast
This slough behind, which all abandoned sins
Creep into and enliven devilishly.
What! stand I in thy shadow? or has Momus
Opened a window ‘twixt thy heart and mine?
‘Tis plated then!
We talk like fighting boys:—
Out on’t! I repent of my mad tongue.
Come, sir; I cannot love you after this,
But we may meet and pass a nodding question—
Never! There lies no grain of sand between
My loved and my detested. Wing thee hence,
Or thou dost stand to-morrow on a cob-web
Spun o’er the well of clotted Acheron,
Whose hydrophobic entrails stream with fire;
And may this intervening earth be snow,
And my step burn like the mid coal of Ætna,
Plunging me, through it all, into the core
Where in their graves the dead are shut like seeds,
If I do not—O but he is my son!
If I do not forgive thee then—but hence!
Gaudentio, hence with him, for in my eyes
He does look demons.—
(to Torrismond.) Come out with me and leave him:
You will be cool, to-morrow.
That I shall;
Cool as an ice-drop on the skull of Death,
For winter is the season of the tomb,
And that’s my country now.
Away with him!
I will not hear.—Where did I leave my book?
Or was it music?—Take the beggar out.
Is there no supper yet?—O my good Melchior!
I’m an eternal gap of misery.—
Let’s talk of something else.
O father, father! must I have no father,
To think how I shall please, to pray for him,
To spread his virtues out before my thought,
And set my soul in order after them?
To dream, and talk of in my dreaming sleep?
If I have children, and they question me
Of him who was to me as I to them;
Who taught me love, and sports, and childish lore;
Placed smiles where tears had been; who bent his talk,
That it might enter my low apprehension,
And laughed when words were lost.—O father, father!
Must I give up the first word that my tongue,
The only one my heart has ever spoken?
Then take speech, thought, and knowledge quite away,—
Tear all my life out of the universe,
Take of my youth, unwrap me of my years,
And hunt me up the dark and broken past
Into my mother’s womb: there unbeget me;
For ’till I’m in thy veins and unbegun,
Or to the food returned which made the blood
That did make me, no possible lie can ever
Unroot my feet of thee. Canst thou make nothing?
Then do it here, for I would rather be
At home nowhere, than here nowhere at home.
Why ask’st thou me? Hast thou no deeds to undo,
No virtues to rebuy, no sins to loose?
Catch from the wind those sighs that thou hast caused;
Out of large ocean pick the very tears,
And set them in their cabinets again.
Renew thyself, and then will I remember
How thou camest thus. Thou art all vices now
Of thine own getting. My son Torrismond
Did sow himself under a heap of crime,
And thou art grown from him: die to the root,
So I may know thee as his grave at least.—
Now, Melchior, we’ll away.
Not yet, my lord:
I wait upon this gentleman.
Why then, begone! Good morrow to you, sirs.
Farewell! and be that word a road to death
Uncrossed by any other! Not a word!
[Exit with courtiers: manent Torrismond and Melchior.
Will you not stay?
He’s gone: but follow not:—
There’s not a speck of flesh upon his heart!
What shall we do?
What shall we do?—why, all.
How many things, sir, do men live to do?
The mighty labour is to die: we’ll do’t,—
But we’ll drive in a chariot to our graves,
Wheel’d with big thunder, o’er the heads of men.