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Bal. The song is English, and I oft have heard it
In merry England,—never so plaintively.
Hist! hist! it comes again!

Voice (more loudly).
"Is it so strong
As for to leave me thus,
Who hath loved thee so long
In wealth and woe among?
And is thy heart so strong
As for to leave me thus?

Say nay—say nay!"

Bal. Tis hushed, and all is still!

Pol. All is not still!

Bal. Let us go down.

Pol. Go down, Baldazzar,—go!

Bal. The hour is growing late—the Duke awaits
us,—
Thy presence is expected in the hall
Below. What ails thee, Earl Politian?

Voice (distinctly).
"Who hath loved thee so long,
In wealth and woe among,
And is thy heart so strong?

Say nay—say nay!"
Bal. Let us descend !—'tis time. Politian, give
These fancies to the wind. Remember, pray,

Your bearing lately savoured much of rudeness
Unto the Duke. Arouse thee, and remember 1

Pol. Remember? I do. Lead on! I do remember. [Going. Let us descend. Believe me, I would give,— Freely would give, the broad lands of my earldom To look upon the face hidden by yon lattice,— "To gaze upon that veiled face, and hear Once more that silent tongue."

Bal. Let me beg you, sir,

Descend with me; the Duke may be offended.
Let us go down, I pray you.

Voice (loudly).
"Say naysay nay .'"

Pol. (Aside.) 'Tis strange!—'tis very strange!
Methought the voice
Chimed in with my desires, and bade me stay!

[Approaching the window. Sweet voice, I heed thee, and will surely stay! Now be this Fancy, by Heaven! or be it Fate, Still will I not descend. Baldazzar, make Apology unto the Duke for me: I go not down to-night.

Bal. Your lordship's pleasure

Shall be attended to. Good night, Politian.

Pol. Good night, my friend, good night.

[graphic][merged small]

The gardens of a palace—Moonlight. Lalage and Politian.

Lalage. And dost thou speak of love
To me, Politian ?—dost thou speak of love
To Lalage ?—Ah, woe—ah, woe is me!
This mockery is most cruel — most cruel indeed!

Politian. Weep not! oh, sob not thus!—thy bitter tears Will madden me. Oh mourn not, Lalage —

Be comforted! I know — I know it all,
And still I speak of love. Look at me, brightest,
And beautiful Lalage !—turn here thine eyes!
Thou askest me if I could speak of love,
Knowing what I know, and seeing what I have seen.
Thou askest me that—and thus I answer thee—
Thus on my bended knee I answer thee — [Kneeling.
Sweet Lalage, I love thee love theelove thee;
Thro' good and ill—thro' weal and woe I love thee.
Not mother, with her first-born on her knee,
Thrills with intenser love than I for thee.
Not on God's altar, in any time or clime,
Burned there a holier fire than burneth now
Within my spirit for thee. And do I love ? [Arising.
Even for thy woes, I love thee—even for thy woes —
Thy beauty and thy woes.

Lal. Alas, proud Earl,

Thou dost forget thyself, remembering me!
How, in thy father's halls, among the maidens
Pure and reproachless of thy princely line,
Could the dishonoured Lalage abide?
Thy wife, and with a tainted memory—
My seared and blighted name, how would it tally
With the ancestral honours of thy house,
And with thy glory?

Pol. Speak not to me of glory!

I hate—I loathe the name; I do abhor
The unsatisfactory and ideal thing.

Art thou not Lalage and I Politian?

Do I not love —art thou not beautiful—

What need we more? Ha! glory !—now speak not

of it! By all I hold most sacred and most solemn— By all my wishes now—my fears hereafter— By all I scorn on earth and hope in heaven— There is no deed I would more glory in, Than in thy cause to scoff at this same glory, And trample it under foot! What matters it— What matters it, my fairest and my best, That we go down unhonoured and forgotten Into the dust, so we descend together? Descend together; and then — and then, perchance

Lal. Why dost thou pause, Politian?

Pol. And then, perchance,
Arise together, Lalage, and roam
The starry and quiet dwellings of the blest,
And still

Lal. Why dost thou pause, Politian?

Pol. And still togethertogether.

Lal. Now, Earl of Leicester,
Thou lovest me, and in my heart of hearts
I feel thou lovest me truly.

Pol. Oh, Lalage! [Throwing himself upon his knee. And lovest thou me?

Lal. Hist! hush! within the gloom

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