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The archbishop leaves him to a herald, who proves to be Roderigo: he comes to tell Julian that the face of the war is altered, numbers having flocked to his standard, and, among others, Sisabert, who had been betrothed to Covilla, another character in which the poet has thought proper to depart from the received account. He offers Julian, if he will send away the Moors, or forsake them, to cede to his sovereignty the country beyond the Ebro, and to make all the reparation possible to his daughter, by putting away his queen Egilona and marrying her. Upon this Julian exclaims
'Blind insolence! base insincerity!
Power and renown no mortal ever shared
Who could retain, or grasp them, to himself:
And, for Covilla? patience! peace! for her?
She call upon her God, and outrage him
At his own altar! she repeat the vows
She violates in repeating! who abhors
Thee and thy crimes, and wants no crown of thine.
Force may compel the abhorrent soul, or want
Lash and pursue it to the public ways;
Virtue looks back and weeps, and may return
To these, but never near the abandon'd one
Who drags religion to adultery's feet,
And rears the altar higher for her sake.'
Abdalazis, son of the Moorish commander, Muza, now enters, bringing his father's orders to Julian to prepare for battle. He tells him of the women who are awaiting admittance without his tent, and while he is yet speaking, Muza himself comes in, bringing one of them with him. It is Egilona. At her sight, Roderigo discovers himself, the Moors attempt to seize him, but Julian protects and sends him away unhurt.
The second act begins with an interview between Julian and his daughter, in whom the poet seems to have delighted to set forth an ideal portrait of female gentleness and loveliness. Sisabert enters, who is, not very probably, represented as ignorant of all that has happened to his mistress, and accusing her of breach of faith towards him, under which error he is suffered to depart. Egilona is now introduced and her character developes itself; loving her husband still, but fearing the loss of power more than the loss of his affection, suspicious of Covilla, who has, however, innocently supplanted her there, and suspicious that Julian is actuated by the hope of making himself king. This character is afterwards described in a rich strain of poetry.
Opas. Beaming with virtue inaccessible
Stood Egilona; for her lord she lived,
And for the heavens that raised her sphere so high:
All thoughts were on her-all, beside her own.
Negligent as the blossoms of the field,
Arrayed in candour and simplicity,
Before her path she heard the streams of joy
Murinur her name in all their cadences,
Saw them in every scene, in light, in shade,
Reflect her image-but acknowledged them
Hers most complete when flowing from her most.
All things in want of her, herself of none,
Pomp and dominion lay beneath her feet
Unfelt and unregarded: now behold
The earthly passions war against the heavenly!
Pride against love, ambition and revenge
Against devotion and compliancy-
Her glorious beams adversity hath blunted,
And coming nearer to our quiet view
The original clay of coarse mortality
Hardens and flaws around her.'-p. 66.
Egilona is confirmed by some misapprehended expressions of Opas, in her suspicion that Julian and Covilla mean to accept Roderigo's offer, and under this belief, offers herself and the crown to Abdalazis.
Act III. Opas meantime has gone to Roderigo at Xeres. The king avows that he is satiated with Egilona, that he feels no compunction or sorrow for what he has done, and that he wants no pity. To this the archbishop replies
O what a curse
To thee, this utter ignorance of thine!
Julian, whom all the good commiserate,
Sees thee, below him far in happiness:
A state indeed of no quick restlessness,
No glancing agitation-one vast swell
Of melancholy, deep, impassable,
Interminable, where his spirit alone
Broods and o'ershadows all, bears him from earth
And purifies his chastened soul for heaven.-
-I have heard
The secrets of the soul, and pitied them.
Bad and accursed things have men confest
Before me, but have left them unarrayed,
Naked, and shivering with deformity.
The troubled dreams and deafening gush of youth
Fling o'er the fancy, struggling to be free,
Discordant and impracticable things:
If the good shudder at their past escapes,
Shall not the wicked shudder at their crimes?
They shall and I denounce upon thy head
God's vengeance-thou shalt rule this land no more.' p. 53.
Roderigo orders him to be seized, but he is soon relieved by Sisabert, who, though yet ignorant of the whole extent of the tyrant's guilt, has discovered that he would have forced Covilla to become his queen, and therefore joined Julian amid the general revolt of Roderigo's soldiers. Juliau is thus described by him in the decisive conflict.
'He called on God, the witness of his cause,
On Spain, the partner of his victories,
And yet amidst these animating words
Rolled the huge tear down his unvizor'd face-
A general swell of indignation rose
Thro' the long line, sobs burst from every breast,
Hardly one voice succeeded-you might hear
The impatient hoof strike the soft sandy plain:
But when the gates flew open, and the king
In his high car came forth triumphantly,
Then was Count Julian's stature more elate;
Tremendous was the smile that smote the eyes
Of all he past-" fathers, and sons, and brothers,"
He cried, "I fight your battles, follow me!
Soldiers, we know no danger but disgrace!"
Father, and general, and king, they shout,
And would proclaim him-back he cast his face,
Pallid with grief, and one loud groan burst forth;
It kindled vengeance thro' the Asturian ranks,
And they soon scatter'd, as the blasts of heaven
Scatter the leaves and dust, the astonished foe.'-p. 73.
In the fourth act Roderigo appears as a prisoner in Julian's tent, and a scene occurs containing parts in as deep a tone of passion as can be found in English poetry.
'Jul. Torne hast thou from me all my soul held dear!
Her form, her voice, all, hast thou banish'd from me,
Nor dare I, wretched as I am! recal
Those solaces of every grief, erewhile!
I stand abased before insulting crime.
I faulter like a criminal myself.
The hand that hurled thy chariot o'er its wheels,
That held thy steeds erect and motionless
As moulten statues on some palace-gates,
Shakes, as with palsied age, before thee now.
Gone is the treasure of my heart, for ever,
Without a father, mother, friend, or name!
Daughter of Julian-Such was her delight-
Such was mine too! what pride more innocent,
What, surely, less deserving pangs like these,
Than springs from filial and parental love!
Debarred from every hope that issues forth
To meet the balmy breath of early life,
Her sadden'd days, all, cold and colourless,
Will stretch before her their whole weary length
Amid the sameness of obscurity.
She wanted not seclusion, to unveil
Her thoughts to heaven, cloister, nor midnight bell;
She found it in all places, at all hours:
While, to assuage my labours, she indulged
A playfulness that shunn'd a mother's eye,
Still, to avert my perils, there arose
A piety that, even from me, retired.
Rod. Such was she!-what am I!-those are the arms
That are triumphant when the battle fails.
O Julian, Julian! all thy former words
Struck but the imbecile plumes of vanity;
These, thro' its steely coverings, pierce the heart.
I ask not life nor death; but, if I live,
Send my most bitter enemy to watch
My secret paths, send poverty, send pain-
Jul. This further curse hast thou inflicted; wretch,
I cannot pardon thee.
Rod. Thy tone, thy mien,
Refute those words.
Jul. No-I can not forgive.
Rod. Upon my knees, my conqueror, I implore-
Upon the earth, before thy feet-hard heart!
Jul. Audacious! hast thou never heard that prayer
And scorn'd it? 'tis the last thou shouldst repeat.
Upon the earth! upon her knees! O God!-
Rod. Pardon me not, then-but with purer lips
Implore of God, who would hear thee, to pardon.
Jul. Hope it I may-pronounce it-O Roderigo!
Ask it of him who can; I too will ask,
And, in my own transgressions, pray for thine.
Rod. One name I dare not-
Jul. Go-abstain from that,
I do conjure thee; raise not in my soul
Again the tempest that has wrecked my fame;
Thou shalt not breathe in the same clime with her.
Far o'er the unebbing sea thou shalt adore
The eastern star, and-may thy end be peace.'-p. 81.
To point out particular beauties in a scene like this would be, at best, but an impertinent office; yet we cannot forbear from noticing the description of Julian and the chariot-horses, as one of the noblest images of human power that we recollect. Yet this is
equalled in a following scene, where Julian is thus described by his foster-brother:
'Not victory, that o'ershadows him, sees he!
No airy and light passion stirs abroad
To ruffle or to soothe him; all are quelled
Beneath a mightier, sterner, stress of mind:
Wakeful he sits, and lonely, and unmoved,
Beyond the arrows, views, or shouts of men;
As oftentimes an eagle, when the sun
Throws o'er the varying earth his early ray,
Stands solitary, stands immovable
Upon some highest cliff, and rolls his eye,
Clear, constant, unobservant, unabased,
In the cold light, above the dews of morn.' p. 97.
The escape of Roderigo and the departure of Covilla at the same time, confirm the suspicions of Egilona, and of Muza, who is represented with all the perfidy and cruelty of the Moorish character. Tarik and Abdalazis, who are of more generous natures, will not, at first, believe that Julian can have been false to them, and the latter relates what had past with Roderigo.
-There is a poor half-ruin'd cell
In Xeres, whither few indeed resort;
Green are the walls within, green is the floor
And slippery from disuse; for christian feet
Avoid it, as half-holy, half-accurst.
Still in its dark recess fanatic sin
Abases to the ground his tangled hair,
And servile scourges and reluctant groans
Roll o'er the vault uninterruptedly,
Till, such the natural stilness of the place,
The very tear upon the damps below
Drops audible, and the heart's throb replies.
There is the idol maid of christian creed,
And taller images, whose history
I know not, nor inquired-
Hither the aged Opas of Seville
Walked slowly, and behind him was a man
Barefooted, bruized, dejected, comfortless,
In sack-cloth; the white ashes on his head
Dropt as he smote his breast-he gathered up,
Replaced them all, groaned deeply, looked to heaven,
And held them, like a treasure, with claspt hands.' p. 103.
Julian is summoned by the Moorish chief to explain his conduct: but Tarik, the only one to whom he would have replied, leaves him as soon as he hears him admit that he had sent Rode