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The people trust their destiny, the great
Their fortunes, Ronje her quiet long disturbed,
Weary of broils. And stands he idly, here-
And, shall I say, forgetful of his friends,
And of himself?
In the dialogue which ensues, Opimius informs Drusus that
Gracchus is in Rome; which he had learned by means of his
and that it is his intention to have an interview with him, in order, under pretence of reasoning him into forbearancé, to drive him to some sudden act which might lead to his destruction. Gracchus enters, with the people, shouting his name, and denouncing the patricians. He persuades them to retire; and an admirable scene follows, between Opimius and Gracchus, which we cannot give entire, and which does not admit of selections. Drusus enters, and announces the sudden death of Æmilianus, and that it was whispered that he perished by violence. Cornelia also enters with the tidings; and a dreadful suspicion crosses the mind of Gracchus, as the hints of Fulvius on the preceding night recur to his recollection. His confusion is remarked by Opimius and Drusus, who retire to consult their measures, on the hint thus obtained. As Caius is meditating on his suspicions, Fulvius enters, who does not deny his guilt, but justifies it as an act of patriotism. He descants on the tyranny, pride and cruelty of the Scipios, both at home and abroad; and vindicates himself still farther on the ground, that Gracchus had himself said that Æmilianus deserved death as a tyrant; and that he had therefore only acted the part of a friend, in obeying the suggestion. We give the remainder of the dialogue, which concludes the second act.
Caius. Thou my friend, villain! I have never been
The friend of profligates. Oh! that the bolt
Of justice would descend with heaviest crash,
Scattering the miscreants, who, through paths of blood,
Find out not liberty, but chains for man,
Making more horrible than servitude
Even liberty itself. Say not, blasphemer,
Say not such sentiment was ever.mine.
I wished bim dead-but by the awful axe
Of public justice, which shall one day fall
On thy base neck. Thou hast brought upon my name
Fearful disgrace—and tremble !
Ful. Gracchus, cease
These outrages. I counsel thee--desist.
And be this act unjust or just, do thou
Reap of my deed the harvest
and be silent.
Force me not to say more.
Caius. What more?
Ful. That wbich I may not utter.
Caius. What? of farther crimes ?
Ful. I know not.
Caius. Knowest thou not? cold horror creeps
Upon me, and I dare not ask thee more.
Ful. Thou hast good reason for't.
Caius. What sayest thou ?
Caius. His words torment my heart. 0! what a thought
Flashes, with horrid light, across my brain!
Hast thou accomplices ?
Deinand no more.
Caius. I will know.
Ful. Have a care,
Thou wilt repent of this.
Caius. No more. I will know,
Ful. Thou wilt ?-ask then-thy sister. (exit.)
Caius. (solus.) Ask my sister ?
Has she been in her husband's murder part?
Oh damping guilt! the Gracchi's stainless name
Spotted with everlasting infamy !
With infamy? How at the thought I feel
The damp hairs rise with horror o'er my brow!
Where shall I hide my head ? and in what wave
Wash the deep shame from this dishonoured front?
What's to be done? I hear a dreadful voice
That murmurs in my soul, and shrieks out there
Go-speed thee-take the forfeit of her guilt !
Terrible voice of honour thus betrayed,
Voice of my ancestry! I will obey.
For blood thou criest-blood thou shalt have. I swear it.
The third act opens with a scene between Cornelia, Lici. nia and Gracchus, in which the majesty of the Roman matron, and the dignified tenderness and apprehensions of the wife of Gracchus, are displayed with great power and beauty, Cornelia endeavours to persuade her son to desist from his purpose of investigating the circumstances of Scipio's death; well aware that the result would bring disgrace upon her daughter and her family. We pass on to the scene which follows.
(.A crier advances, bearing a decree of the Senate, which he suspends on a pillar, and the people collect in a hasty manner to read it. A citizen, having observed it
, approaches Gracchus, who stands absorbed in grief, and shakes him by the mantle.)
Cit. Gracchus, behold! observest thou the decree?
Approach and read it.
Caius. (reading:) LET THE CONSUL LOOK
THAT THE REPUBLIC DO SUSTAIN NO HARM.
Cit. Beware, unfortunate Roman! this decree
Bodes danger to thy life.
Licinia. What do I hear?
Caius. I see it; and I thank thee, courteous friend : Thou art, or I mistake,-thou art Quintilius?
Cit. The same, and still thy friend. Coraggio! (exit.)
Cornelia. Turn, Gracchus, and behold— midst all the people,
This way advancing, proud Opimius comes.
Awake! the bour has come to try thy soul.
Caius. Depart, and fear not.
Corn. Give me thine hand.
Caius. 'Tis there; Feel if it tremble.
Corn. No'tis firm, and tells me, That better knowest thou how to die, tban how To forfeit honour I am well content.
Caius. Licinia, fare thee well! if this embrace
Should be if fate-support the unhappy woman,
Oh mother! consciousness hath left her quite.
Farewell ! I trust to thee my wife, my son.
(Cornelia retires supporting Licinia.)
Caius. (pausing before the statue of his father.)
Oh thou, who from that silent marble speakest
To thy son's constant heart ! unconquered sire !
I feel thy summons; thou shalt be content.
Or Kome this day is free, or soon I too,
A naked ghost shall rush to thine embrace! Opimius now enters, preceded by the lictors, and followed by the senators, tribunes and populace. He addresses the
peo. ple in an harangue of great art and eloquence, and vides them in their opinions. Gracchus, after a short tumult, obtains leave to speak.
Caius. (from the tribunal) This is the last time I shall speak to you,
My countrymen. My enemies and yours
Have on my death resolved. I owe ye thanks,
That to my lips allowing their free speech,
Ye will not suffer me to die infamous.
And greater infamy can a Roman know,
Than with the name of tyrant on his front
Branded, to pass among the silent dead?
A murdered brother's ghost will meet me there,
See me all covered with inglorious wounds,
cry, “What hand hath wrought this shame ? from whence
These gory trenches?” And what answer, then,
Shall I return, O Romans ? Those same hands,
Will I reply, have me to slaughter dragged,
Which butchered thee, that day the people left
Ungrateful, their defender to his foes,-
When thy sad corse lay in the open street,
Horribly mangled, -and thy forehead rent
Wide with a grisly wound-thine innocent blood
Ran in long streamsmas, like some worthless wreck,
They cast thy corse, yet warm, in Tiber's wave,
Which, for the first time stained with Roman blood
In civil conflict spilt, flowed to the sea.
Nor aught availed thee then the tribune's rank,
Which made thy person sacred. And I too,
My tale will run--was by patrician hate
Murdered. I too, for the same crimes condemned,
Was called a tyrant; I, whose every thought
Was to my country only consecrated;
1, who redeemed the people from the bonds
Of their insatiate lords ; I, who restored
Their ravished rights to their paternal fields ;
I who am poor, plebeian; I who have been
The eternal torment of all tyrants~I
Too am a tyrant! Oh my countrymen!
Is this the wages that your servants gain?
3d Citizen. Gracchus, take heart. The people is not thus Ungrateful, and none here thinks thee a tyrant. Speak boldly in your argument, and fear not.
Caius. Here let the oppressor fear. Am I, forsooth,
Of the Patrician temper? Did I fear,
When, at the imminent peril of my life,
I dared surround your prostrate liberties,
With solemn laws, as bulwarks? I am he,
Oh Rome, acknowledge me! I am he, who
Against the unjust, usurping senate stood,
And made the people free-yea, made them kings,
All powerful. And in this have I offended ?
Answer me, countrymen, was this my crime?
3d Cit. No; here we all are kings.
ad Čit. And in the people All power resides.
1st Cit. The senate of our will Is executor, and no more.
Caius. Your foe
Is then declared, who charges as my sin
Your perfect liberty, and makes his moan,
Ever, o'er lost patrician tyranny.
Three hundred base and hireling senators
Sat in the judgment seat. The strong broke through,
Or bought exemption from the feeble bonds
Of law, and poverty became a vice.
I overthrew this venal, odious court,
And thrice a hundred judges, of staunch faith
And incorrupt, I added. So the people
Had their due share of the judicial power.
Now, Romans, who, for this most holy work,
Dares censure Caius Gracchus before you?
Who? an Opimius, and those same, same traitors,
To whom the market of your lives and fortunes
Was barred by me. Oh virtue, name how vain !
Mocked by the wicked and the vile! ah! where,
Now, wilt thou rear thy throne, when even here,
Here, in the centre of all famous Rome,
And all her sacred gods, thou bearest the name
Of guilt, and so art punished !
(An old Man.) True; too true; 'Tis dangerous to be warm in virtue's cause. Surely, some god is reasoning from his lips.
Caius. By the great goodness of the immortal gods, Born in the lap of this fair Italy,
The rights of Roman citizenship I deemed
Common to all her soil; from slavery
Redeemed, and made her the world's greatest nation.
You, Romans, you, renowned, illustrious sons
Of this loved mother, will you, as a crime,
Impute to me her rescued liberty ?
ist Cit. No; we are all Italians; one sole people, One single family.
People. Italians all, And brethren.
Old Man. Oh delightful sound! Oh words Noble, divine ! these tears for joy o'erflow.
Caius. Oh! now indeed I hear the shouts sublime, Of Romans worthy; and behold the tears Worthy of men. But cease your griefs awhile; Hear my last damning crime; and
not of grief,
But the hot tears of madness and of wrath,
Will ye pour forth, oh people much abused !
Grant me your patient audience. Of your lords
The insatiate avarice, that on your woes
Remorseless trampled, had by rapine seized
All your possessions, and had only left
Your souls to tenant their debased abodes.
Your tyrants left ye life, but to enjoy
Your never ceasing sorrows—but to tread
On your bowed necks—draw tight your servile bonds,-
And, as the climax of your wrongs, despise ye
Even for the sufferance themselves enforced.
Now hear my crime,-m.y most unheard offence,
Whose total sum I in two words express-
To give you back your own--to give you back
So much of earth, as with a little dust,
Might hide your over-toiled and wearied bones.
Oh miserable brethren! the wild beasts
Have, 'mid the desert rocks and savage woods,
Some lair, where each may lay his limbs in peace,
And shun the assaults of the inclement skies.
You, Romans, you, who 'neath an iron load,
O'er the whole earth, expose to painful death
Your lives in Rome's behalf-you, the world's masters,
Nought in this world possess -save what not even
All-grasping avarice can take away,
The common air and light. . Along our plains,
Ye wander idly; fainting by your sides,
With famine, sad and piteous company!
Your squalid wives and naked babes attend,
Meantime, their banquets high,
Drunk with rich wine and lustful surfeits, hold
The gown-robed harpies, with some wanton strain
Feeding their rs: and all this which their gorge
Insatiable devours, is your own blood.
Your blood has brought their dazzling palaces,
Bright with barbaric pomp, and trapped with gold;
Their perfumes from Arabia, and the dye