Read SCENE II of The Bride of Messina A Tragedy, free online book, by Friedrich Schiller, on

The hall of pillars.  It is night.

The stage is lighted from above by a single large lamp. 
Donna Isabella and Diego advance to the front.

As yet no joyful tidings, not a trace
Found of the lost one!

            Nothing have we heard,
My mistress; yet o’er every track, unwearied,
Thy sons pursue.  Ere long the rescued maid
Shall smile at dangers past.

               Alas!  Diego,
My heart is sad; ’twas I that caused this woe!

Vex not thy anxious bosom; naught escaped
Thy thoughtful care.

           Oh! had I earlier shown
The hidden treasure!

           Prudent were thy counsels,
Wisely thou left’st her in retirement’s shade;
So, trust in heaven.

           Alas! no joy is perfect
Without this chance of ill my bliss were pure.

Thy happiness is but delayed; enjoy
The concord of thy sons.

             The sight was rapture
Supreme, when, locked in one another’s arms,
They glowed with brothers’ love.

                 And in the heart
It burns; for ne’er their princely souls have stooped
To mean disguise.

          Now, too, their bosoms wake
To gentler thoughts, and own their softening sway
Of love.  No more their hot, impetuous youth
Revels in liberty untamed, and spurns
Restraint of law, attempered passion’s self,
With modest, chaste reserve. 
               To thee, Diego,
I will unfold my secret heart; this hour
Of feeling’s opening bloom, expected long,
Wakes boding fears:  thou know’st to sudden rage
Love stirs tumultuous breasts; and if this flame
With jealousy should rouse the slumbering fires
Of ancient hate-I shudder at the thought! 
If these discordant souls perchance have thrilled
In fatal unison!  Enough; the clouds
That black with thundering menace o’er me hung
Are past; some angel sped them tranquil by,
And my enfranchised spirit breathes again.

Rejoice, my mistress; for thy gentle sense
And soft, prevailing art more weal have wrought
Than all thy husband’s power.  Be praise to thee
And thy auspicious star!

             Yes, fortune smiled;
Nor light the task, so long with apt disguise
To veil the cherished secret of my heart,
And cheat my ever-jealous lord:  more hard
To stifle mighty nature’s pleading voice,
That, like a prisoned fire, forever strove
To rend its confines.

            All shall yet be well;
Fortune, propitious to our hopes, gave pledge
Of bliss that time will show.

                I praise not yet
My natal star, while darkening o’er my fate
This mystery hangs:  too well the dire mischance
Tells of the fiend whose never-slumbering rage
Pursues our house.  Now list what I have done,
And praise or blame me as thou wilt; from thee
My bosom guards no secret:  ill I brook
This dull repose, while swift o’er land and sea
My sons unwearied, track their sister’s flight,
Yes, I have sought; heaven counsels oft, when vain
All mortal aid.

         What I may know, my mistress,

     On Etna’s solitary height
A reverend hermit dwells,-benamed of old
The mountain seer,-who to the realms of light
More near abiding than the toilsome race
Of mortals here below, with purer air
Has cleansed each earthly, grosser sense away;
And from the lofty peak of gathered years,
As from his mountain home, with downward glance
Surveys the crooked paths of worldly strife. 
To him are known the fortunes of our house;
Oft has the holy sage besought response
From heaven, and many a curse with earnest prayer
Averted:  thither at my bidding flew,
On wings of youthful haste, a messenger,
To ask some tidings of my child:  each hour
I wait his homeward footsteps.

                If mine eyes
Deceive me not, he comes; and well his speed
Has earned thy praise.

Messenger, Isabella, Diego.

Isabella (to messenger). 
            Now speak, and nothing hide
Of weal or woe; be truth upon thy lips! 
What tidings bear’st thou from the mountain seer?

His answer:  “Quick! retrace thy steps; the lost one
Is found.”

      Auspicious tongue!  Celestial sounds
Of peace and joy! thus ever to my vows. 
Thrice honored sage, thy kindly message spoke! 
But say, which heaven-directed brother traced
My daughter?

’Twas thy eldest born that found
The deep-secluded maid.

             Is it Don Manuel
That gives her to my arms?  Oh, he was ever
The child of blessing!  Tell me, hast thou borne
My offering to the aged man? the tapers
To burn before his saint? for gifts, the prize
Of worldly hearts, the man of God disdains.

He took the torches from my hands in silence
And stepping to the altar-where the lamp
Burned to his saint-illumed them at his fire,
And instant set in flames the hermit cell,
Where he has honored God these ninety years!

What hast thou said?  What horrors fright my soul?

And three times shrieking “Woe!” with downward course,
He fled; but silent with uplifted arm
Beckoned me not to follow, nor regard him
So hither I have hastened, terror-sped.

Oh, I am tossed amid the surge again
Of doubt and anxious fears; thy tale appals
With ominous sounds of ill.  My daughter found-
Thou sayest; and by my eldest born, Don Manuel? 
The tidings ne’er shall bless, that heralded
This deed of woe!

          My mistress! look around
Behold the hermit’s message to thine eyes
Fulfilled.  Some charm deludes my sense, or hither
Thy daughter comes, girt by the warlike train
Of thy two sons!

Beatrice is carried in by the Second Chorus on a litter,
and placed in the front of the stage.  She is still without
perception, and motionless.

Isabella, Diego, messenger, Beatrice.

Chorus (Bohemund, Roger, Hippolyte, and the other nine followers
of Don Cæsar.)

Chorus (Bohemund). 
         Here at thy feet we lay
The maid, obedient to our lord’s command: 
’Twas thus he spoke-“Conduct her to my mother;
And tell her that her son, Don Cæsar, sends her!”

Isabella (is advancing towards her with outstretched arms, and starts
     back in horror). 
Heavens! she is motionless and pale!

Chorus (Bohemund). 
                   She lives,
She will awake, but give her time to rouse
From the dread shock that holds each sense enthralled.

My daughter!  Child of all my cares and pains! 
And is it thus I see thee once again? 
Thus thou returnest to thy father’s halls! 
Oh, let my breath relume thy vital spark;
Yes!  I will strain thee to a mother’s arms
And hold thee fast-till from the frost of death
Released thy life-warm current throbs again.

   To the Chorus.

Where hast thou found her?  Speak!  What dire mischance
Has caused this sight of woe?

Chorus (Bohemund). 
                My lips are dumb! 
Ask not of me:  thy son will tell thee all-
Don Cæsar-for ’tis he that sends her.

                     ’Tell me
Would’st thou not say Don Manuel?

Chorus (Bohemund). 
                  ’Tis Don Cæsar
That sends her to thee.

Isabella (to the messenger). 
             How declared the Seer? 
Speak!  Was it not Don Manuel?

                ’Twas he! 
Thy elder born.

         Be blessings on his head
Which e’er it be; to him I owe a daughter,
Alas! that in this blissful hour, so long
Expected, long implored, some envious fiend
Should mar my joy!  Oh, I must stem the tide
Of nature’s transport!  In her childhood’s home
I see my daughter; me she knows not-heeds not-
Nor answers to a mother’s voice of love
Ope, ye dear eyelids-hands be warm-and heave
Thou lifeless bosom with responsive throbs
To mine!  ’Tis she!  Diego, look! ’tis Beatrice! 
The long-concealed-the lost-the rescued one! 
Before the world I claim her for my own!

Chorus (Bohemund). 
New signs of terror to my boding soul
Are pictured;-in amazement lost I stand! 
What light shall pierce this gloom of mystery?

Isabella (to the Chorus, who exhibit marks of confusion and
Oh, ye hard hearts!  Ye rude unpitying men! 
A mother’s transport from your breast of steel
Rebounds, as from the rocks the heaving surge! 
I look around your train, nor mark one glance
Of soft regard.  Where are my sons?  Oh, tell me
Why come they not, and from their beaming eyes
Speak comfort to my soul?  For here environed
I stand amid the desert’s raging brood,
Or monsters of the deep!

             She opes her eyes! 
She moves!  She lives!

            She lives!  On me be thrown
Her earliest glance!

           See!  They are closed again-
She shudders!

Isabella (to the Chorus). 
        Quick!  Retire-your aspect frights her.

Chorus steps back.

Well pleased I shun her sight.

                With outstretched eyes,
And wonderstruck, she seems to measure thee.

Not strange those linéaments-where am I?

Her sense returns.

          Behold! upon her knees
She sinks.

      Oh, angel visage of my mother!

Child of my heart!

          See! kneeling at thy feet
The guilty one!

         I hold thee in my arms! 
Enough-forgotten all!

            Look in my face,
Canst thou remember me?

             The reverend brows
Of honest old Diego!

           Faithful guardian
Of thy young years.

           And am I once again
With kindred?

        Naught but death shall part us more!

Will thou ne’er send me to the stranger?

Fate is appeased.

          And am I next thy heart? 
And was it all a dream-a hideous dream? 
My mother! at my feet he fell!  I know not
What brought me hither-yet ’tis well.  Oh, bliss! 
That I am safe in thy protecting arms;
They would have ta’en me to the princess, mother-
Sooner to death!

         My daughter, calm thy fears;
Messina’s princess -

           Name her not again! 
At that ill-omened sound the chill of death
Creeps through my trembling frame.

                  My child! but hear me -

She has two sons by mortal hate dissevered,
Don Manuel and Don Cæsar -

               ’Tis myself! 
Behold thy mother!

          Have I heard thee?  Speak!

I am thy mother, and Messina’s princess!

Art thou Don Manuel’s and Don Caesar’s mother?

And thine!  They are thy brethren whom thou namest.

Oh, gleam of horrid light!

              What troubles thee? 
Say, whence this strange emotion?

                  Yes! ’twas they! 
Now I remember all; no dream deceived me,
They met-’tis fearful truth!  Unhappy men! 
Where have ye hid him?

She rushes towards the Chorus; they turn away from her. 
A funeral march is heard in the distance.

             Horror!  Horror!

Speak-who is hid? and what is true?  Ye stand
In silent dull amaze-as though ye fathomed
Her words of mystery!  In your faltering tones-
Your brows-I read of horrors yet unknown,
That would refrain my tongue!  What is it?  Tell me! 
I will know all!  Why fix ye on the door
That awe-struck gaze?  What mournful music sounds?

The march is heard nearer.

Chorus (Bohemund). 
It comes! it comes! and all shall be declared
With terrible voice.  My mistress! steel thy heart,
Be firm, and bear with courage what awaits thee-
For more than women’s soul thy destined griefs

     What comes? and what awaits me?  Hark
With fearful tones the death-wail smites mine ear-
It echoes through the house!  Where are my sons?

   The first Semi-chorus brings in the body of Don Manuel
   on a bier, which is placed at the side of the stage. 
   A black pall is spread over it.

   Isabella, Beatrice, Diego.

   Both Choruses.

     First Chorus (Cajetan).

     With sorrow in his train,
   From street to street the King of Terror glides;
    With stealthy foot, and slow,
     He creeps where’er the fleeting race
   Of man abides
   In turn at every gate
   Is heard the dreaded knock of fate,
    The message of unutterable woe!


   When, in the sere
    And autumn leaves decayed,
    The mournful forest tells how quickly fade
   The glories of the year! 
    When in the silent tomb oppressed,
   Frail man, with weight of days,
    Sinks to his tranquil rest;
   Contented nature but obeys
   Her everlasting law,-
   The general doom awakes no shuddering awe! 
   But, mortals, oh! prepare
   For mightier ills; with ruthless hand
   Fell murder cuts the holy band-
    The kindred tie:  insatiate death,
   With unrelenting rage,
   Bears to his bark the flower of blooming age!


   When clouds athwart the lowering sky
    Are driven-when bursts with hollow moan
    The thunder’s peal-our trembling bosoms own
   The might of awful destiny! 
   Yet oft the lightning’s glare
   Darts sudden through the cloudless air:-
    Then in thy short delusive day
   Of bliss, oh! dread the treacherous snare;
   Nor prize the fleeting goods in vain,
    The flowers that bloom but to decay! 
   Nor wealth, nor joy, nor aught but pain,
   Was e’er to mortal’s lot secure:-
   Our first best lesson-to endure!

What shall I hear?  What horrors lurk beneath
This funeral pall?

   She steps towards the bier, but suddenly pauses,
   and stands irresolute.

Some strange, mysterious dread
Enthrals my sense.  I would approach, and sudden
The ice-cold grasp of terror holds me back!

To Beatrice, who has thrown herself between her and the bier.

Whate’er it be, I will unveil -

On raising the pall she discovers the body of Don Manuel.

Eternal Powers! it is my son!

She stands in mute horror.  Beatrice sinks to the ground
with a shriek of anguish near the bier.

Unhappy mother! ’tis thy son.  Thy lips
Have uttered what my faltering tongue denied.

My soul!  My Manuel!  Oh, eternal grief! 
And is it thus I see thee?  Thus thy life
Has bought thy sister from the spoiler’s rage? 
Where was thy brother?  Could no arm be found
To shield thee?  Oh, be cursed the hand that dug
These gory wounds!  A curse on her that bore
The murderer of my son!  Ten thousand curses
On all their race!

          Woe!  Woe!

                And is it thus
Ye keep your word, ye gods?  Is this your truth? 
Alas for him that trusts with honest heart
Your soothing wiles!  Why have I hoped and trembled? 
And this the issue of my prayers!  Attend,
Ye terror-stricken witnesses, that feed
Your gaze upon my anguish; learn to know
How warning visions cheat, and boding seers
But mock our credulous hopes; let none believe
The voice of heaven! 
           When in my teeming womb
This daughter lay, her father, in a dream
Saw from his nuptial couch two laurels grow,
And in the midst a lily all in flames,
That, catching swift the boughs and knotted stems
Burst forth with crackling rage, and o’er the house
Spread in one mighty sea of fire.  Perplexed
By this terrific dream my husband sought
The counsels of the mystic art, and thus
Pronounced the sage:  “If I a daughter bore,
The murderess of his sons, the destined spring
Of ruin to our house, the baleful child
Should see the light.”

Chorus (Cajetan and Bohemund). 
            What hast thou said, my mistress? 
Woe!  Woe!

      For this her ruthless father spoke
The dire behest of death.  I rescued her,
The innocent, the doomed one; from my arms
The babe was torn; to stay the curse of heaven,
And save my sons, the mother gave her child;
And now by robber hands her brother falls;
My child is guiltless.  Oh, she slew him not!

Woe!  Woe!

No trust the fabling readers of the stars
Have e’er deserved.  Hear how another spoke
With comfort to my soul, and him I deemed
Inspired to voice the secrets of the skies! 
“My daughter should unite in love the hearts
Of my dissevered sons;” and thus their tales
Of curse and blessing on her head proclaim
Each other’s falsehood.  No, she ne’er has brought
A curse, the innocent; nor time was given
The blessed promise to fulfil; their tongues
Were false alike; their boasted art is vain;
With trick of words they cheat our credulous ears,
Or are themselves deceived!  Naught ye may know
Of dark futurity, the sable streams
Of hell the fountain of your hidden lore,
Or yon bright spring of everlasting light!

     First Chorus (Cajetan).

    Woe!  Woe! thy tongue refrain! 
   Oh, pause, nor thus with impious rage
    The might of heaven profane;
   The holy oracles are wise-
   Expect with awe thy coming destinies!

My tongue shall speak as prompts my swelling heart;
My griefs shall cry to heaven.  Why do we lift
Our suppliant hands, and at the sacred shrines
Kneel to adore?  Good, easy dupes!  What win we
From faith and pious awe? to touch with prayers
The tenants of yon azure realms on high,
Were hard as with an arrow’s point to pierce
The silvery moon.  Hid is the womb of time,
Impregnable to mortal glance, and deaf
The adamantine walls of heaven rebound
The voice of anguish:-Oh, ’tis one, whate’er
The flight of birds-the aspect of the stars! 
The book of nature is a maze-a dream
The sage’s art-and every sign a falsehood!

     Second Chorus (Bohemund).

   Woe!  Woe!  Ill-fated woman, stay
    Thy maddening blasphemies;
    Thou but disown’st, with purblind eyes,
   The flaming orb of day! 
   Confess the gods,-they dwell on high-
   They circle thee with awful majesty!

     All the Knights.

   Confess the gods-they dwell on high-
   They circle thee with awful majesty!

Why hast thou saved thy daughter, and defied
The curse of heaven, that marked me in thy womb
The child of woe?  Short-sighted mother!-vain
Thy little arts to cheat the doom declared
By the all-wise interpreters, that knit
The far and near; and, with prophetic ken,
See the late harvest spring in times unborn. 
Oh, thou hast brought destruction on thy race,
Withholding from the avenging gods their prey;
Threefold, with new embittered rage, they ask
The direful penalty; no thanks thy boon
Of life deserves-the fatal gift was sorrow!

     Second Chorus (Berengar) looking towards the door
     with signs of agitation.

    Hark to the sound of dread! 
   The rattling, brazen din I hear! 
   Of hell-born snakes the hissing tones are near! 
    Yes-’tis the furies’ tread!


    In crumbling ruin wide,
   Fall, fall, thou roof, and sink, thou trembling floor
    That bear’st the dread, unearthly stride! 
   Ye sable damps arise! 
    Mount from the abyss in smoky spray,
    And pall the brightness of the day! 
   Vanish, ye guardian powers! 
   They come!  The avenging deities

Don Cæsar, Isabella, Beatrice.  The Chorus.

On the entrance of Don Cæsar the Chorus station themselves
before him imploringly.  He remains standing alone in the
centre of the stage.

Alas! ’tis he -

Isabella (stepping to meet him). 
         My Cæsar!  Oh, my son! 
And is it thus I meet the?  Look!  Behold! 
The crime of hand accursed!

She leads him to the corpse.

First Chorus (Cajetan, Berengar).

Break forth once more
Ye wounds!  Flow, flow, in swarthy flood,
Thou streaming gore!

Shuddering with earnest gaze, and motionless,
Thou stand’st.-yes! there my hopes repose, and all
That earth has of thy brother; in the bud
Nipped is your concord’s tender flower, nor ever
With beauteous fruit shall glad a mother’s eyes,

Don Cæsar
Be comforted; thy sons, with honest heart,
To peace aspired, but heaven’s decree was blood!

I know thou lovedst him well; I saw between ye,
With joy, the bands old Nature sweetly twined;
Thou wouldst have borne him in thy heart of hearts
With rich atonement of long wasted years! 
But see-fell murder thwarts thy dear design,
And naught remains but vengeance!

Don Cæsar
                  Come, my mother,
This is no place for thee.  Oh, haste and leave
This sight of woe.

He endeavors to drag her away.

Isabella (throwing herself into his arms). 
          Thou livest!  I have a son!

Alas! my mother!

Don Cæsar
         On this faithful bosom
Weep out thy pains; nor lost thy son,-his love
Shall dwell immortal in thy Caesar’s breast.

First Chorus (Cajetan, Berengar, Manfred).

Break forth, ye wounds! 
Dumb witness! the truth proclaim;
Flow fast, thou gory stream!

Isabella (clasping the hands of Don Cæsar and Beatrice). 
My children!

Don Cæsar
       Oh, ’tis ecstasy! my mother,
To see her in thy arms! henceforth in love
A daughter-sister -

Isabella (interrupting him). 
           Thou hast kept thy word. 
My son; to thee I owe the rescued one;
Yes, thou hast sent her -

Don Cæsar (in astonishment). 
              Whom, my mother, sayst thou,
That I have sent?

          She stands before thine eyes-
Thy sister.

Don Cæsar
       She!  My sister?

                Ay, What other?

Don Cæsar
My sister!

      Thou hast sent her to me!

Don Cæsar
His sister, too!

         Woe! woe!

               Alas! my mother!

Speak!  I am all amaze!

Don Casar
            Be cursed the day
When I was born!

         Eternal powers!

Don Cæsar
The womb that bore me; cursed the secret arts,
The spring of all this woe; instant to crush thee,
Though the dread thunder swept-ne’er should this arm
Refrain the bolts of death:  I slew my brother! 
Hear it and tremble! in her arms I found him;
She was my love, my chosen bride; and he-
My brother-in her arms!  Thou hast heard all! 
If it be true-oh, if she be my sister-
And his! then I have done a deed that mocks
The power of sacrifice and prayers to ope
The gates of mercy to my soul!

     Chorus (Bohemund).

   The tidings on thy heart dismayed
    Have burst, and naught remains; behold! 
   ’Tis come, nor long delayed,
    Whate’er the warning seers foretold: 
   They spoke the message from on high,
   Their lips proclaimed resistless destiny! 
   The mortal shall the curse fulfil
   Who seeks to turn predestined ill.

The gods have done their worst; if they be true
Or false, ’tis one-for nothing they can add
To this-the measure of their rage is full. 
Why should I tremble that have naught to fear? 
My darling son lies murdered, and the living
I call my son no more.  Oh!  I have borne
And nourished at my breast a basilisk
That stung my best-beloved child.  My daughter, haste,
And leave this house of horrors-I devote it
To the avenging fiends!  In an evil hour
’Twas crime that brought me hither, and of crime
The victim I depart.  Unwillingly
I came-in sorrow I have lived-despairing
I quit these halls; on me, the innocent,
Descends this weight of woe!  Enough-’tis shown
That Heaven is just, and oracles are true!

Exit, followed by Diego.

Beatrice, Don Cæsar, the Chorus.

Don Cæsar (detaining Beatrice). 
My sister, wouldst thou leave me?  On this head
A mother’s curse may fall-a brother’s blood
Cry with accusing voice to heaven-all nature
Invoke eternal vengeance on my soul-
But thou-oh! curse me not-I cannot bear it!

   Beatrice points with averted eyes to the body.

I have not slain thy lover! ’twas thy brother,
And mine that fell beneath my sword; and near
As the departed one, the living owns
The ties of blood:  remember, too, ’tis I
That most a sister’s pity need-for pure
His spirit winged its flight, and I am guilty!

   Beatrice bursts into an agony of tears.

Weep!  I will blend my tears with thine-nay, more,
I will avenge thy brother; but the lover-
Weep not for him-thy passionate, yearning tears
My inmost heart.  Oh! from the boundless depths
Of our affliction, let me gather this,
The last and only comfort-but to know
That we are dear alike.  One lot fulfilled
Has made our rights and wretchedness the same;
Entangled in one snare we fall together,
Three hapless victims of unpitying fate,
And share the mournful privilege of tears. 
But when I think that for the lover more
Than for the brother bursts thy sorrow’s tide,
Then rage and envy mingle with my pain,
And hope’s last balm forsakes my withering soul? 
Nor joyful, as beseems, can I requite
This inured shade:-yet after him content
To mercy’s throne my contrite spirit shall fly,
Sped by this hand-if dying I may know
That in one urn our ashes shall repose,
With pious office of a sister’s care.

   He throws his arms around her with passionate tenderness.

I loved thee, as I ne’er had loved before,
When thou wert strange; and that I bear the curse
Of brother’s blood, ’tis but because I loved thee
With measureless transport:  love was all my guilt,
But now thou art my sister, and I claim
Soft pity’s tribute.

He regards her with inquiring glances, and an air of
painful suspense-then turns away with vehemence.

No! in this dread presence
I cannot bear these tears-my courage flies
And doubt distracts my soul.  Go, weep in secret-
Leave me in error’s maze-but never, never,
Behold me more:  I will not look again
On thee, nor on thy mother.  Oh! how passion
Laid bare her secret heart!  She never loved me! 
She mourned her best-loved son-that was her cry
Of grief-and naught was mine but show of fondness! 
And thou art false as she! make no disguise-
Recoil with horror from my sight-this form
Shall never shock thee more-begone forever!


She stands irresolute in a tumult of conflicting
passions-then tears herself from the spot.

Chorus (Cajetan).

Happy the man-his lot I prize
That far from pomps and turmoil vain,
Childlike on nature’s bosom lies
Amid the stillness of the plain. 
My heart is sad in the princely hall,
When from the towering pride of state,
I see with headlong ruin fall,
How swift! the good and great! 
And he-from fortune’s storm at rest
Smiles, in the quiet haven laid
Who, timely warned, has owned how blest
The refuge of the cloistered shade;
To honor’s race has bade farewell,
Its idle joys and empty shows;
Insatiate wishes learned to quell,
And lulled in wisdom’s calm repose:-
No more shall passion’s maddening brood
Impel the busy scenes to try,
Nor on his peaceful cell intrude
The form of sad humanity! 
’Mid crowds and strife each mortal ill
Abides’-the grisly train of woe
Shuns like the pest the breezy hill,
To haunt the smoky marts below.

     Berengar, Bohemund, and Manfred.

   On the mountains is freedom! the breath of decay
    Never sullies the fresh flowing air;
   Oh, Nature is perfect wherever we stray;
    ’Tis man that deforms it with care.

     The whole Chorus repeats.

   On the mountains is freedom, etc., etc.

   Don Cæsar, the Chorus.

Don Cæsar (more collected). 
I use the princely rights-’tis the last time-
To give this body to the ground, and pay
Fit honors to the dead.  So mark, my friends,
My bosom’s firm resolve, and quick fulfil
Your lord’s behest.  Fresh in your memory lives
The mournful pomp, when to the tomb ye bore
So late my royal sire; scarce in these halls
Are stilled the echoes of the funeral wail;
Another corpse succeeds, and in the grave
Weighs down its fellow-dust-almost our torch
With borrowed lustre from the last, may pierce
The monumental gloom; and on the stair,
Blends in one throng confused two mourning trains. 
Then in the sacred royal dome that guards
The ashes of my sire, prepare with speed
The funeral rites; unseen of mortal eye,
And noiseless be your task-let all be graced,
As then, with circumstances of kingly state.

My prince, it shall be quickly done; for still
Upreared, the gorgeous catafalque recalls
The dread solemnity; no hand disturbed
The edifice of death.

Don Cæsar
            The yawning grave
Amid the haunts of life?  No goodly sign
Was this:  the rites fulfilled, why lingered yet
The trappings of the funeral show?

                  Your strife
With fresh embittered hate o’er all Messina
Woke discord’s maddening flames, and from the deed
Our cares withdrew-so resolute remained,
And closed the sanctuary.

Don Cæsar
              Make no delay;
This very night fulfil your task, for well
Beseems the midnight gloom!  To-morrow’s sun
Shall find this palace cleansed of every stain,
And light a happier race.

Exit the Second Chorus, with the body of Don Manuel.

              Shall I invite
The brotherhood of monks, with rights ordained
By holy church of old, to celebrate
The office of departed souls, and hymn
The buried one to everlasting rest?

Don Cæsar
Their strains above my tomb shall sound for ever
Amid the torches’ blaze-no solemn rites
Beseem the day when gory murder scares
Heaven’s pardoning grace.

              Oh, let not wild despair
Tempt thee to impious, rash resolve.  My prince
No mortal arm shall e’er avenge this deed;
And penance calms, with soft, atoning power,
The wrath on high.

Don Cæsar
          If for eternal justice
Earth has no minister, myself shall wield
The avenging sword; though heaven, with gracious ear,
Inclines to sinners’ prayers, with blood alone
Atoned is murder’s guilt.

              To stem the tide
Of dire misfortune, that with maddening rage
Bursts o’er your house, were nobler than to pile
Accumulated woe.

Don Cæsar
         The curse of old
Shall die with me!  Death self-imposed alone
Can break the chain of fate.

               Thou owest thyself
A sovereign to this orphaned land, by thee
Robbed of its other lord!

Don Cæsar
              The avenging gods
Demand their prey-some other deity
May guard the living!

            Wide as e’er the sun
In glory beams, the realm of hope extends;
But-oh remember! nothing may we gain
From Death!

Don Cæsar
       Remember thou thy vassal’s duty;
Remember and be silent!  Leave to me
To follow, as I list, the spirit of power
That leads me to the goal.  No happy one
May look into my breast:  but if thy prince
Owns not a subject’s homage, dread at least
The murderer!-the accursed!-and to the head
Of the unhappy-sacred to the gods-
Give honors due.  The pangs that rend my soul-
What I have suffered-what I feel-have left
No place for earthly thoughts!

   Donna Isabella, Don Cæsar, The Chorus.

Isabella (enters with hesitating steps, and looks irresolutely
     towards Don Cæsar; at last she approaches, and addresses
     him with collected tones). 
I thought mine eyes should ne’er behold thee more;
Thus I had vowed despairing!  Oh, my son! 
How quickly all a mother’s strong resolves
Melt into air!  ’Twas but the cry of rage
That stifled nature’s pleading voice; but now
What tidings of mysterious import call me
From the desolate chambers of my sorrow? 
Shall I believe it?  Is it true? one day
Robs me of both my sons?


   Behold! with willing steps and free,
    Thy son prepares to tread
   The paths of dark eternity
    The silent mansions of the dead. 
   My prayers are vain; but thou, with power confessed,
   Of nature’s holiest passion, storm his breast!

I call the curses back-that in the frenzy
Of blind despair on thy beloved head
I poured.  A mother may not curse the child
That from her nourishing breast drew life, and gave
Sweet recompense for all her travail past;
Heaven would not hear the impious vows; they fell
With quick rebound, and heavy with my tears
Down from the flaming vault! 
               Live! live! my son! 
For I may rather bear to look on thee-
The murderer of one child-than weep for both!

Don Cæsar
Heedless and vain, my mother, are thy prayers
For me and for thyself; I have no place
Among the living:  if thine eyes may brook
The murderer’s sight abhorred-I could not bear
The mute reproach of thy eternal sorrow.

Silent or loud, my son, reproach shall never
Disturb thy breast-ne’er in these halls shall sound
The voice of wailing, gently on my tears
My griefs shall flow away:  the sport alike
Of pitiless fate together we will mourn,
And veil the deed of blood.

Don Cæsar (with a faltering voice, and taking her hand). 
               Thus it shall be,
My mother-thus with silent, gentle woe
Thy grief shall fade:  but when one common tomb
The murderer and his victim closes round-
When o’er our dust one monumental stone
Is rolled-the curse shall cease-thy love no more
Unequal bless thy sons:  the precious tears
Thine eyes of beauty weep shall sanctify
Alike our memories.  Yes!  In death are quenched
The fires of rage; and hatred owns subdued,
The mighty reconciler.  Pity bends
An angel form above the funeral urn,
With weeping, dear embrace.  Then to the tomb
Stay not my passage:-Oh, forbid me not,
Thus with atoning sacrifice to quell
The curse of heaven.

           All Christendom is rich
In shrines of mercy, where the troubled heart
May find repose.  Oh! many a heavy burden
Have sinners in Loretto’s mansion laid;
And Heaven’s peculiar blessing breathes around
The grave that has redeemed the world!  The prayers
Of the devout are precious-fraught with store
Of grace, they win forgiveness from the skies;-
And on the soil by gory murder stained
Shall rise the purifying fane.

Don Cæsar
                We pluck
The arrow from the wound-but the torn heart
Shall ne’er be healed.  Let him who can, drag on
A weary life of penance and of pain,
To cleanse the spot of everlasting guilt;-
I would not live the victim of despair;
No!  I must meet with beaming eye the smile
Of happy ones, and breathe erect the air
Of liberty and joy.  While yet alike
We shared thy love, then o’er my days of youth
Pale envy cast his withering shade; and now,
Think’st thou my heart could brook the dearer ties
That bind thee in thy sorrow to the dead? 
Death, in his undecaying palace throned,
To the pure diamond of perfect virtue
Sublimes the mortal, and with chastening fire
Each gathered stain of frail humanity
Purges and burns away:  high as the stars
Tower o’er this earthly sphere, he soars above me;
And as by ancient hate dissevered long,
Brethren and equal denizens we lived,
So now my restless soul with envy pines,
That he has won from me the glorious prize
Of immortality, and like a god
In memory marches on to times unborn!

My Sons!  Why have I called you to Messina
To find for each a grave?  I brought ye hither
To calm your strife to peace.  Lo!  Fate has turned
My hopes to blank despair.

Don Cæsar
              Whate’er was spoke,
My mother, is fulfilled!  Blame not the end
By Heaven ordained.  We trode our father’s halls
With hopes of peace; and reconciled forever,
Together we shall sleep in death.

                  My son,
Live for thy mother!  In the stranger’s land,
Say, wouldst thou leave me friendless and alone,
To cruel scorn a prey-no filial arm
To shield my helpless age?

Don Cæsar
              When all the world
With heartless taunts pursues thee, to our grave
For refuge fly, my mother, and invoke
Thy sons’ divinity-we shall be gods! 
And we will hear thy prayers:-and as the twins
Of heaven, a beaming star of comfort shine
To the tossed shipman-we will hover near thee
With present help, and soothe thy troubled soul!

Live-for thy mother, live, my son-
Must I lose all?

She throws her arms about him with passionate emotion. 
He gently disengages himself, and turning his face away
extends to her his hand.

Don Cæsar

               I can no more;
Too well my tortured bosom owns how weak
A mother’s prayers:  a mightier voice shall sound
Resistless on thy heart.

She goes towards the entrance of the scene.

My daughter, come. 
A brother calls him to the realms of night;
Perchance with golden hues of earthly joy
The sister, the beloved, may gently lure
The wanderer to life again.

Beatrice appears at the entrance of the scene.

Donna Isabella, Don Cæsar, and the Chorus.

Don Cæsar (on seeing her, covers his face with his hands). 
               My mother! 
What hast thou done?

Isabella (leading Beatrice forwards). 
           A mother’s prayers are vain! 
Kneel at his feet-conjure him-melt his heart! 
Oh, bid him live!

Don Cæsar
          Deceitful mother, thus
Thou triest thy son!  And wouldst thou stir my soul
Again to passion’s strife, and make the sun
Beloved once more, now when I tread the paths
Of everlasting night?  See where he stands-
Angel of life!-and wondrous beautiful,
Shakes from his plenteous horn the fragrant store
Of golden fruits and flowers, that breathe around
Divinest airs of joy;-my heart awakes
In the warm sunbeam-hope returns, and life
Thrills in my breast anew.

Isabella (to Beatrice). 
              Thou wilt prevail! 
Or none!  Implore him that he live, nor rob
The staff and comfort of our days.

                  The loved one
A sacrifice demands.  Oh, let me die
To soothe a brother’s shade!  Yes, I will be
The victim!  Ere I saw the light forewarned
To death, I live a wrong to heaven!  The curse
Pursues me still:  ’twas I that slew thy son-
I waked the slumbering furies of their strife-
Be mine the atoning blood!

              Ill-fated mother! 
Impatient all thy children haste to doom,
And leave thee on the desolate waste alone
Of joyous life.

         Oh, spare thy precious days
For nature’s band.  Thy mother needs a son;
My brother, live for her!  Light were the pang
To lose a daughter-but a moment shown,
Then snatched away!

Don Cæsar (with deep emotion). 
           ’Tis one to live or die,
Blest with a sister’s love!

               Say, dost thou envy
Thy brother’s ashes?

Don Cæsar
           In thy grief he lives
A hallowed life!-my doom is death forever!

My brother!

Don Cæsar
       Sister! are thy tears for me?

Live for our mother!

Don Cæsar (dropping her hand, and stepping back). 
           For our mother?

Beatrice (hiding her head in his breast). 
For her and for thy sister!

Chorus (Bohemund). 
               She has won! 
Resistless are her prayers.  Despairing mother,
Awake to hope again-his choice is made! 
Thy son shall live!

At this moment an anthem is heard.  The folding doors
are thrown open, and in the church is seen the catafalque
erected, and the coffin surrounded with candlesticks.

Don Cæsar (turning to the coffin). 
           I will not rob thee, brother! 
The sacrifice is thine:-Hark! from the tomb,
Mightier than mother’s tears, or sister’s love,
Thy voice resistless cries:-my arms enfold
A treasure, potent with celestial joys,
To deck this earthly sphere, and make a lot
Worthy the gods! but shall I live in bliss,
While in the tomb thy sainted innocence
Sleeps unavenged?  Thou, Ruler of our days,
All just-all wise-let not the world behold
Thy partial care!  I saw her tears!-enough-
They flowed for me!  I am content:  my brother! 
I come!

   He stabs himself with a dagger, and falls dead
   at his sister’s feet.  She throws herself into her
   mother’s arms.

Chorus, Cajetan (after a deep silence). 
    In dread amaze I stand, nor know
If I should mourn his fate.  One truth revealed
Speaks in my breast;-no good supreme is life;
But all of earthly ills the chief is-Guilt!