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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 exclaimsBlind insolence! base insincerity!
Power and renown no mortal ever shared
Thee and thy crimes, and wants no crown of thine.
Virtue looks back and weeps, and may return
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
And for the heavens that raised her sphere so high:
All thoughts were on her-all, beside her own.
Before her path she heard the streams of joy
The earthly passions war against the heavenly!
Her glorious beans adversity hath blunted,
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!
Broods and o'ershadows all, bears him from earth
-I have heard
The secrets of the soul, and pitied them.
The troubled dreams and deafening gush of youth
If the good shudder at their past escapes,
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. Julian is thus described by him in the decisive conflict.
'He called on God, the witness of his cause,
Thro' the long line, sobs burst from every breast,
Father, and general, and king, they shout,
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,
What, surely, less deserving pangs like these,
She wanted not seclusion, to unveil
Her thoughts to heaven, cloister, nor midnight bell;
While, to assuage my labours, she indulged
A playfulness that shunn'd a mother's eye,
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.
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-
Jul. Audacious! hast thou never heard that prayer
Rod. Pardon me not, then-but with purer lips
Ask it of him who can; I too will ask,
And, in my own transgressions, pray for thine.
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!
Upon some highest cliff, and rolls his eye,
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;
Still in its dark recess fanatic sin
Walked slowly, and behind him was a man
Dropt as he smote his breast-he gathered up,
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