Page images
[ocr errors][merged small]

whom he considers an usurper of his rights, and an intruder upon
his inheritance. In pursuance of his dreadful plan of vengeance,
he had appeared to favour the attachment of his daughter Ric-
ciarda, to Guido, one of Averardo's sons. They were affianced,
and, at the bridal banquet, he had succeeded in poisoning one of
his nephews, but Guido had escaped through the intervention of
Ricciarda : Averardo is, therefore, besieging the tyrant in Salerno
as his declared enemy; but Guido is lying hid within the walls of
the city, to watch over his beloved Ricciarda. The play opens
with an endeavour made by Corrado, a friend, and a faithful war-
rior of Averardo's army, to persuade Guido to abandon his des-
perate enterprize; Guido replies, that since Ricciarda saved his
life, he considers it entirely and solely devoted to her; in Salerno,
therefore, he must remain, lest the tyrant should revenge upon his
own daughter the preservation of her lover, or should set the city
on fire and sacrifice himself and her in the flames. The indignant
spirit of Guido after the departure of his friend, ill brooks his
base concealment; Ricciarda, however, enters: her character we
think beautifully drawn, it is all modest affection for her lover,
and compassionate tenderness to her father,-to Guido she says,

Me miserable! to lose thee from my sight,
It is a thought so bitter; 'tis scarce worse,

The sad assurance that thou stay'st to perish.
Of her father, who Guido says preserves her alive only as a means
of subduing him, who 'notes in his dark record' every proof of
her love, to blot it out one day in blood,' she observes,

As much as one can love, who hates himself,
He loveth me—this calms his wrath-to all
He doth reveal his crimes; but his heart's anguish,
Save me alone, he hides from all :- I only,
When even his bandits are all sunk in sleep,
Do hear him wand'ring through the vacant house-
He dreads to be alone, seeks me to lead him-
And after a long silence, calls upon

His ancestors, and death, his wife and children.
They are alarmed, Guido retires among the tombs, and the
father enters; his restless suspicion is finely shewn in their first

Guelfo. ' Thou here:

Guelfo. Confused and pale! Thou here?'
she replies that she knew he wished her to be somewhere in
his palace.
Here whither I have come, this of thy palace


[ocr errors]

My Lord.

Is part.

Guelfo. The best part–Dost thou come so readily
To find me here? meihinks before his time

Thou seek'st thy father here-among the tombs.' The second act is occupied by a scene between Ricciarda and her father; the wayward tyrant, after reproaching his daughter with her fondness for Guido, after forcing her to renounce, and urging her to hate him, is melted into tears by her unalterable tenderness towards himself and her offers to devote her life to him in sadness and in solitude. Averardo then appears, disguised as an embassador from himself:-there is eloquence in their dialogue, but we think that the incident is not productive of sufficient consequences for its importance; it is striking, but leads to no result. The third act contains a scene between Guido and his father, whose influence is also vainly exerted to induce him to leave Salerno; Ricciarda is then brought solemnly before Averardo to shew the last proof of her parental obedience, in renouncing Guido. War is then declared again in form, and Averardo withdraws. In the fourth act we have the parting interview of Guido and Ricciarda, she tells him that her father would have forced her to swear eternal hatred to him, and that he had forced her to swear never to be his. This scene has great beauty, Guido endeavours to persuade her to fly, not to break her vow to her father, but to put it out of her power to tempt him to her murder; he incautiously adds, that if this at last be the case, he will still watch over her, and that she shall not die unrevenged; Ricciarda at this threat demands his dagger from him.

Guido. Death then thou dread'st
· Certain and imminent from thy father's hand.

Ricciarda. I dread his troubled heart-I dread mine own
That ne'er will brook that I should be another's;
Thy love still more I dread--when hangs suspended
My father's arm, and trembles still to slay me-
Thou wilt precipitate his crime--and ours-
Thee shall I see or slain, or slaying—haply
Thee only slain-and from thy death shall have
The sad bequest, in death to hate my father,
To execrate the mercy that he felt
Towards his daughter.

Guido. Take the dagger.' They part—Guelfo enters hastily—and she lets fall the dagger.

Guelfo. · Here must I find thee ever then?_a weapon
Fell from thine hand-Oh! steel accurst, I know thee,
Well thou return'st to me-come let me grasp thee,
Not as that day—but ever still to hold thee,
Yet once again with mine own blood bedew'd-[a pause.]


Approach-unnatural woman !-o'er my wrath
Bebold, at length, a horrid calm hath stolen,
I doubt no longer if I can abhor thee-
With tears-oh yes—but not with steelmat least
Not with this steel did I believe thee armed-

Know'st thou it?' It was the very dagger which he had drawn from the body of his own son when he had fallen in battle against the party of Averardo ; he had made Ricciarda adorn it with jewels, and had given it, on the day of his nuptials, and of his intended murder, to Guido. The incident increases his suspicion: she delays her answers, and he supposes that it is in order to withhold him from the battle, at all events it shews some collusion with Guido, and he threatens to return and elucidate the dreadful secret; indeed, if we correctly understand one of Ricciarda's speeches, there is something jesuitical in ber excuse, which does not suit the generally beautiful simplicity of her character. In the fifth act, he does return defeated and desperate.

Guelfo. ' Brief time have I to live, yet time enough
To die unvanquish'd-go ye, to the conqueror,
Go strangers with the rest—and take with you
My palace treasures for your spoil, ere yet
The base usurper come-enough for Guelfo
His fathers' tombs—his daughter-and his sword.
Off-and obey !-Off-I yet live-


Now hear me,
Thou said'st but now that over me did hang
The sword-

Ricciarda. I said so.

And thou had'st it then
From Guido-to no other hand but thine
Would he have yielded up so dear a weapon.
This day thou had'st it-woman-to thy father
And heaven thou speakest from a tomb-

Ricciarda. This day ! he adds some reasons for his suspicion that Guido gave it to her, that she received it for some fatal purpose, and that he is still concealed near.

Guelfo. Thy life is on thy words-quick-answer me,
Where is he?

Ricciarda. Here I saw him--where he went
I know not.

Guelfo. Speak-we have no time for words,
No time for calm and tranquil reasoning.
Ricciarda. Here, where I speak these my last words, I saw


Be this, my Lord, the proof that I deceive not,
That thus I speak-for knew I where he is,
In vain thou had'st questioned--nor will I be guilty
Of what he does in madness, or his death.

Guelfo. I'll have his blood--or endless tears from thee
Conquer'd I'm not with vengeance in my grasp ;
He here, or thou shalt live no longer.

Guelfo. Unworthy ! if thou diest for him, thou'rt guilty,
Guiltier, if thou conceal'st him from me—die then.
Ricciarda. Thou sheddest innocent blood-give me the

I, I alone will plunge it in my bosom.
See, I am pale with horror at thy crime;
Not mine own conscience--see, I tremble not-
It was my weakness secretly to love him~-
But from that day-to heaven, that only knew it,
I've paid a bitter penalty of sorrow.
Thou hallowed'st our love--for my sake Guido
Did lose his brother--and could I not love him?
Yes, he was here—and armed-yet not in ambush
'Gainst thee—that sword he gave lest he should draw it,
Beholding me as at this dreadful instant.

Guelfo. Ah new ! ah horrible anguish! he may see me
A parricide-nor I have power to slay him.

Ricciarda. Give me the sword then ?-thus I join my mother For ever-in


hand shall Guido see
The sword-hilt-and thou 'scape the infamy,
And he will weep with thee o'er thy lost child,
Thy bleeding innocent child; and thou, repentant,
Shalt groan, and clasp him to thy heart, and pardon
Win from the eternal mercy !-Lord of heaven
My blood I shed, so that my father with it
Reek not before thee.

Ha!-in God thou trustest
In God who only reigneth to avenge.
Already in his deep infernal night,
While yet mine eyes behold the light of day,
He hath plunged me and enveloped – horribly
round my

miserable soul,
Dark ’mid his lightnings; never do I utter
His name, but he doth seem to answer me,

I wake for vengeance”-and at once revenge
Rekindles then within my mortal bosom,
Because he doth deny me pardon—Thee!
But thee alone, my daughter, shall I slay
For my revenge?-ah me! if thou art innocent,
Thee, God, a mute, a bleeding shade, will send
Unto my sepulchre, to wait the day


When from my dust and ashes I shall rise.
Thou wilt not shew them to me—with thy looks
Thou, the sole refuge of my dark sаd life,
E'en now hast pardoned me-but I shall see them,
Those agonies, with which so long ago
I shall have quench'd thy glad and youthful beauty.
And smoke and blood shall issue from the wound,
And God, outstretching his own fiery sword
Unto my heart, shall say–Look, impious, look!
A father thou hast slain thy innocent daughter!
Down, fatal dagger, down,- lead me, my daughter,
To death-I ought no longer now to live.

Ricciarda. Come with me, come-

Did ever fugitive prince
Find even a tomb secure? I have been mighty,
And shall be scorn'd I was their dread, they'll now
Shake fire-brands in my path--e'en now with flames
Yon sea is blazing that false Tuscan city
Hath throng’d it with her sails, and fires my fleet.

Ricciarda. Oh, God unfolds his bosom to the wretched-
Father, oh come- —they will but see thee fly
As kings should fly-only to save thy daughter-
Prostrate at the altar, they'll have mercy on us.

Guelfo. On thee they will-on them I ne'er had mercy!
Infamy, infamy, 'twill be-a sceptre
T’have borne, nor bear it to my grave-fly then,
Here rest I with my sires that knew not fear.

Ricciarda. That I should leave thee!

1, of all my lineage
The last remain, ere morning, shall have perished.
But thou-shalt thou be then the bastard's spoil
That doth usurp my realın, my arms, my name,
Even of thy last sad tears will he bereave
My corpse—hath he not reft me of my sons ?

Ricciarda. Ah me--avert from that fell steel thine eyes

He hears me not-alas !--more fierce he looks on it.'Rage returns again to the bosom of the tyrant; while Ricciarda embraces her mother's tomb in silent terror, he rushes through the vaults calling on Guido—he comes back, and with his dagger uplifted over her exclaims

Hear me-

e—thou coward, or thy lady dies-
Tremendously I cry again-hear me

I hear thee.' Guido offers his own life, if the tyrant will spare his daughter. He approaches to fulfil his offer in spite of the tears of Ricciarda. The tyrant stabs him—at that moment the victorious troops of Averardo enter, he then stabs his daughter and finally himself.


« PreviousContinue »