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To own a thousand despots in his place.
And add too, that his mind is liberal,
What and resign
Scene, the Space between the Canal and the Church
of San Giovanni e San Paolo. An equestrian
Statue before it. — A Gondola lies in the Canal at
Enter the Dog E alone, disguised.
A lazar-house of tyranny : the task
The one of toil, the other in the field,
Enter Ism. AEL BERTuccio. I. Ber. Who goes there 7 Doge. A friend to Venice. I. Ber. 'Tis he. Welcome, my lord, – you are before the time. Doge. I am ready to proceed to your assembly. I. Ber. Have with you. —I am proud and pleased to see Such confident alacrity. Your doubts Since our last meeting, then, are all dispell'd 2 Doge. Not so—but I have set my little left Of life upon this cast: the die was thrown When I first listen'd to your treason—Start not That is the word; I cannot shape my tongue To syllable black deeds into smooth names, Though I be wrought on to commit them. When I heard you tempt your sovereign, and forbore To have you dragg'd to prison, I became Your guiltiest accomplice : now you may, If it so please you, do as much by me. I. Ber. Strange words, my lord, and most unmerited; I am no spy, and neither are we traitors. Doge. We 1 — We 1–no matter—you have earn'd the right To talk of us. – But to the point. — If this Attempt succeeds, and Venice, render'd free And flourishing, when we are in our graves, Conducts her generations to our tombs, And makes her children with their little hands
acquittance 2 requital 2" – MS.] * The Doge, true to his appointment, is waiting for his conductor before the church of San Paolo e Giovanni. There is great loftiness, both of feeling and diction, in this passage. – Jeffrey.] * [There is a great deal of natural struggle in the breast of the high-born and haughty Doge, between the resentment with which he burns on the one hand, and the reluctance with which he considers the meanness of the associates with whom he has leagued himself on the other. The conspiring Doze is not, we think, meant to be ambitious for himself, but he is sternly, proudly, a Venetian noble ; and it is impossible for him to tear from his bosom the scorn for every thing
* [" By thy descendant, merit such
Strew flowers o'er her deliverers' ashes, then
I. Ber. 'T is not the moment to consider thus,
Doge. We are observed, and have been.
I. Ber. We observed : Let me discover—and this stcel
Doge. Put up ; Here are no human witnesses: look there— What see you ?
I. Ber. Only a tall warrior's statue Bestriding a proud steed, in the dim light Of the dull moon.
Doge. That warrior was the sire Of my sire's fathers, and that statue was Decreed to him by the twice rescued city : — Think you that he looks down on us, or no 2
1. Ber. My lord, these are mere fantasies; there
No eyes in marble.
Doge. But there are in Death. I tell thee, man, there is a spirit in Such things that acts and sees, unseen, though felt; And, if there be a spell to stir the dead, 'T is in such deeds as we are now upon. Dcem'st thou the souls of such a race as mine Can rest, when he, their last descendant chief, Stands plotting on the brink of their pure graves With stung plebeians ? 4
I. Ber. It had been as well To have ponder'd this before, — ere you embark'd In our great enterprise. — Do you repent 7
Doge. No-but I feel, and shall do to the last. I cannot quench a glorious life at once, Nor dwindle to the thing I now must be, 5 And take men's lives by stealth, without some pause: Yet doubt me not; it is this very feeling, And knowing what has wrung me to be thus, Which is your best security. There's not A roused mechanic in your busy plot So wrong'd as I, so fall'n, so loudly call'd To his redress: the very means I am forced By these fell tyrants to adopt is such, That I abhor them doubly for the deeds Which I must do to pay them back for theirs.
I. Ber. Let us away—hark—the hour strikes.
plebeian which has becn implanted there by birth, education, and a long life of princely command. There are other thoughts, too, and of a gentler kind, which cross from time to time his perturbed spirit. He remembers — he cannot entirely forget — the days and nights of old companionship, by which he had long been bound to those whose sentence he has consented to seal. He has himself been declaiming against the folly of mercy, and arguing valiantly the necessity of total extirpation, — and that, too, in the teeth even of some of the plebeian conspirators themselves: yet the Poet, with profound insight into the human heart, makes him shudder when his own impetuosity has brought himself, and all who hear him, to the brink. He cannot look upon the bloody resolution, no not even after he himself has been the chief instrument of its formation. – Lock HART.] 5 ris Mr. - the thing I now must he, so Nor dwindle to 3 out too to holdering.” –
212 BYRON'S WORKS. ACT III. Doge. On–On— Ber. Who It is our knell, or that of Venice – On : Distrusts me? 1. Ber. Say rather, 'tis her freedom's rising peal Cal. Not I; for if I did so,
Of triumph This way — we are near the place.
sce N e ii. The House where the Conspirators meet.
DAgolixo, Doño, BERTRAxt, FEDELE TREvisaxo,
Cal. Where's Bertram 2
The number wanting in your company 2
Ber. I had mark'd out some : but I have not dared To trust them with the secret, till assured That they were worthy faith.
Catl. There is no need Of trusting to their faith : who, save ourselves And our more chosen comrades, is aware Fully of our intent 2 they think themselves Engaged in secret to the Signory, 1 To punish some more dissolute young nobles Who have defied the law in their excesses; But once drawn up, and their new swords well-flesh'd In the rank hearts of the more odious senators, They will not hesitate to follow up Their blow upon the others, when they sce The example of their chiefs, and I for one Will set them such, that they for very shame And safety will not pause till all have perish'd.
Ber. How say you? all /
Cal. Whom wouldst thou spare 2
Ber. I spare 7 I have no power to spare. I only question'd, Thinking that even amongst these wicked men There might be some, whose age and qualities Might mark them out for pity.
Cal. Yes, such pity
Dag. Should one survive,
Cal. Look to it well,
! An historical fact. See Appendix: Marino Faliero, Note
Thou wouldst not now be there to talk of trust:
Ber. You should know
Cal. You are welcome, When once our enterprise is o'er, which must not Be interrupted by a private brawl.
Ber. I am no brawler; but can bear myself As far among the foe as any he Who hears me; else why have I been selected To be of your chief comrades? but no less I own my natural weakness; I have not Yet learn'd to think of indiscriminate murder Without some sense of shuddering ; and the sight Of blood which spouts through hoary scalps is not To me a thing of triumph, nor the death Of men surprised a glory. Well—too well I know that we must do such things on those Whose acts have raised up such avengers; but If there were some of these who could be saved From out this sweeping fate, for our own sakes And for our honour, to take off some stain Of massacre, which else pollutes it wholly, I had been glad : and see no cause in this For sneer, nor for suspicion 1
Dag. Calm thee, Bertram ; For we suspect thee not, and take good heart. It is the cause, and not our will, which asks Such actions from our hands: we'll wash away All stains in Freedom's fountain l
Enter IskAEL BErruccio, and the Doc E, disguised.
Dag. Welcome, Israel. Consp. Most welcome. —Brave Bertuccio, thou art late — Who is this stranger ?
Cal. It is time to name him. Our comrades are even now prepared to greet him In brotherhood, as I have made it known That thou wouldst add a brother to our cause, Approved by thee, and thus approved by all, Such is our trust in all thine actions. Now Let him unfold himself. I. Ber. Stranger, step forth : [The Doge discovers himself. Consp. To arms 1 — we are betray’d—it is the Doge ; Down with them both ! our traitorous captain, and The tyrant he hath sold us to : Cal. (drawing his sword). Hold : hold : Who moves a step against them dies. Hold hear B rtuccio – What are you appall'd to see A lone, unguarded, weaponless old man Amongst you ? — Israel, speak what means this mystery 7 [bosoms, I. Ber. Let them advance and strike at their own Ungrateful suicides : for on our lives Depend their own, their fortunes, and their hopes.
fearful Than any your rash weapons can inflict, I should not now be here: —Oh, noble Courage The eldest born of Fear, which makes you brave Against this solitary hoary head See the bold chiefs, who would reform a state And shake down senates, mad with wrath and dread At sight of one patrician 1–Butcher m3, You can ; I care not. —Israel, are these men The mighty hearts you spoke of 2 look upon them : Cal. Faith : he hath shamed us, and deservedly. Was this your trust in your true chief Bertuccio, To turn your swords against him and his guest ? Sheathe them, and hear him. 1. Ber. I disdain to speak. They might and must have known a heart like mine Incapable of treachery; and the power They gave me to adopt all fitting means To further their design was ne'er abused. They might be certain that whoe'er was brought By me into this council had been led To take his choice—as brother, or as victim. Doge. And which am I to be 2 your actions leave Some cause to doubt the freedom of the choice. I. Ber. My lord, we would have perish'd here together, Had these rash men proceeded ; but, behold, They are ashamed of that mad moment's impulse, And droop their heads; believe me, they are such As I described them – Speak to them. Cal. We are all listening in wonder. 1. Ber. (addressing the Conspirators). You are safe, Nay, more, almost triumphant—listen then, And know my words for truth. Doye. You see me here, As one of you hath said, an old, unarm'd, Defenceless man; and yesterday you saw me Presiding in the hall of ducal state, Apparent sovereign of our hundred isles, Robed in official purple, dealing out The edicts of a power which is not mine, Nor yours, but of our masters — the patricians. Why I was there you know, or think you know ; Why I am here, he who hath been most wrong’d, He who among you hath been most insulted, Outraged and trodden on, until he doubt If he be worm or no, may answer for me, Asking of his own heart, what brought him here 2 You know my recent story, all men know it, And judge of it far differently from those Who sate in judgment to heap scorn on scorn. But spare me the recital — it is here, Here at my heart the outrage—but my words, Already spent in unavailing plaints, Would only show my feebleness the more, And I come here to strengthen even the strong, And urge them on to deeds, and not to war With woman's weapons; but I need not urge you. Our private wrongs have sprung from public vices, In this—I cannot call it commonwealth Nor kingdom, which hath neither prince nor people, But all the sins of the old Spartan state 1
Doge. Strike 1–If I dreaded death, a death more
Without its virtues—temperance and valour. The lords of Lacedæmon were true soldiers, But ours are Sybarites, while we are Helots, Of whom I am the lowest, most enslaved; Although dress'd out to head a pageant, as The Greeks of yore made drunk their slaves to form A pastime for their children. You are met To overthrow this monster of a state, This mockery of a government, this spectrc, Which must be exorcised with blood, – and then We will renew the times of truth and justice, Condensing in a fair free commonwealth Not rash equality but equal rights, Proportion'd like the columns to the temple, Giving and taking strength reciprocal, And making firm the whole with grace and beauty, So that no part could be removed without Infringement of the general symmetry. In operating this great change, I claim To be one of you — if you trust in me; If not, strike home, – my life is compromised, And I would rather fall by freemen's hands Than live another day to act the tyrant As delegate of tyrants: such I am not, And never have been—read it in our annals; I can appeal to my past government In many lands and cities; they can tell you If I were an oppressor, or a man Feeling and thinking for my fellow men. Haply had I been what the senate sought, A thing of robes and trinkets, dizen'd out To sit in state as for a sovereign's picture; A popular scourge, a ready sentence-signer, A stickler for the Senate and “the Forty,” A sceptic of all measures which had not The sanction of “the Ten,” a council-fawner, A tool, a fool, a puppet, — they had ne'er Foster'd the wretch who stung me. What I suffer Has reach'd me through my pity for the people; That many know, and they who know not yet Will one day learn: meantime, I do devote, Whate'er the issue, my last days of life— My present power such as it is— not that Of Doge, but of a man who has been great Before he was degraded to a Doge, And still has individual means and mind; I stake my fame (and I had fame)—my breath— (The least of all, for its last hours are nigh) My heart—my hope—my soul—upon this cast ! Such as I am, I offer me to you And to your chiefs, accept me or reject me, A Prince who fain would be a citizen Or nothing, and who has left his throne to be so.
Cal. Long live Faliero ! — Venice shall be free 1
Consp. Long live Faliero!
I. Ber. Comrades 1 did I well ? Is not this man a host in such a cause ?
Doge. This is no time for eulogies, nor place For exultation. Am I one of you ?
Cal. Ay, and the first amongst us, as thou hast been Of Venice — be our general and chief.
Doge. Chief – general – I was general at Zara, And chief in Rhodes and Cyprus, prince in Venice : I cannot stoop that is, I am not fit To lead a band of patriots: when I lay Aside the dignities which I have borne, 'T is not to put on others, but to be Mate to my fellows—but now to the point:
Israel has stated to me your whole plan—
Cul. Elen when thou wilt. Is it not so, my friends?
Ber. So soon 2
Doge. So soon 7 —so late—each hour accumulates Peril on peril, and the more so now Since I have mingled with you; —know you not The Council, and “the Ten 2" the spies, the eyes | Of the patricians dubious of their slaves, [one 2 And now inore dubious of the prince they have made I tell you, you must strike, and suddenly, Full to the Hydra's heart—its heads will follow.
Cul. With all my soul and sword, I yield assent;
Doge. When you hear
I. Ber. And there 2 –
Doge. By different routes Let your march be directed, every sixty t Entering a separate avenue, and still ! Upon the way let your cry be of war And of the Genoese fleet, by the first dawn Discern'd before the port; form round the palace, Within whose court will be drawn out in arms My nephew and the clients of our house, Many and martial ; while the bell tolls on, Shout ye, “Saint Mark I — the foe is on our waters :"
Cal. I see it now — but on, my noble lord.
Doge. All the patricians flocking to the Council, (Which they dare not refuse, at the dread signal Pealing from out their patron saint's proud tower,) Will then be gather'd in unto the harvest, And we will reap them with the sword for sickle. If some few should be tardy or absent them, 'T will be but to be taken faint and single, When the majority are put to rest.
Injustice to thy comrades and thy cause !