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Pon. I thank ye, soldiers ! Rome, indeed, hath triumph'd,
Enter ORCERES, followed by SULPICIOS. Bless'd in the high protection of her gods,
The Parthian prince, who will inform us truly, The sovereign warrior nation of the world; Orceres, is thy friend Cordenius coming ? And, favour'd by great Jove and mighty Mars,
I have commanded him, and at this hour, So may she triumph still, nor meanly stoop To bring his guarded prisoner to the palace, To worship strange and meaner deities,
Here to remain till the appointed time. Adverse to warlike glory. (Exit, with his train. Orc. I know not; nor have I beheld Cordenius First Offi. The Pontiff seems disturb’d, his brow Since yesterday; when, at an early hour, is lowering.
Sulpicius and myself met him by chance : Second Offi. Reproof and caution, mingled with But for the prisoner, he is at hand, his thanks,
E'en at the palace gate; for as we enter'd Though utter'd graciously.
We saw him there, well circled round with guards, First Offi.
He is offended, Though in the martial throng we saw not Maro. Because of late so many valiant soldiers
Nero. (To the Pontiff.) Said I not so ? Have proselytes become to this new worship; |(To an Officer.) Command them instantly A worship too, as he insinuates,
To bring this wordy Grecian to our presence. Unsuited to the brave.
(Exit Officer Third Offi. Ay, ay! the sacred chickens are in Sulpicius, thou hast known this Ethocles, danger.
Is he a madman or ambitious knave, Second Offi. Sylvius is suspected, as I hear. Who sought on human folly to erect
First Offi. Hush ! let us to our duty ; it is time a kind of fancied greatness for himself? To change the inner guard.
Sul. I know not which, great Nero. [Exeunt with music, into the gate of the palace.' Nero. And didst thou not advise me earnestly
To rid the state of such a pestilence ? SCENE II.-A COUNCIL CHAMBER IN THE PALACE, Sul. And still advise thee, Nero; for this Greek NERO WITH HIS COUNSELLORS DISCOVERED ; NERO Is dangerous above all, who, with their lives, IN THE ACT OF SPEAKING.
Have yet paid forfeit for their strange belief. Nero. Yes, Servius ; formerly we have admitted, They come: the prisoner in foreign garb As minor powers, amongst the ancient gods So closely wrapp'd, I scarcely see his face. Of high imperial Rome, the foreign deities Of friendly nations; but these Nazarenes
Enter PRISONER, attended. Scorn such association, proudly claiming
Pon. If it in truth be he. For that which is the object of their faith,
Nero. (To the Pontiff.) Dost thou still doubt? Sole, undivided homage: and our altars,
(To the Prisoner.) Stand forth, audacious rehel, to Our stately temples, the majestic forms
my will! Of Mars, Apollo, thundering Jove himself, Dost thou still brave it, false and subtle spirit ; By sculptor's art divine, so nobly wrought,
Cor. (throwing off his Grecian cloak, and Are held by these mad zealots in contempt.
advancing to Nero.) I am not false, AuExamine, sayest thou ! shall imperial Cæsar
gustus, but if subtle, Deign to examine what withstands his power?
Add to my punishment what shall be deem'd
Meet retribution. I have truly sworn,
Or to produce thy thrall, or, therein failing,
To give my life for his; and here I stand. And craves admittance.
Ethocles, by a higher power than thine, Nero. Let him be admitted.
Is yet reserved for great and blessed ends.
Take thou the forfeit; I have kept my oath.
Nero. I am amazed beyond the power of utterPontiff, thy visage, if I read it well,
ance ! Says, that some weighty matter brings thee here: Grows it to such a pitch that Rome's brave captains Thou hast our leave to speak.
Are by this wizard sorcery so charro'd ? Pon. Imperial Nero, didst thou not condemn Then it is time, good sooth! that sweeping venThat eloquent, but pestilential Nazarene,
geance The Grecian Ethocles, whose specious words Should rid the earth of every tainted thing Wrap in delusion all who listen to him,
Which that curst sect hath touch'd. Cordenius Spreading his baleful errors o'er the world?
Maro, Nero. Did I condemn him! E'en this very day, Thou who hast fought our battles, graced our state, He in the amphitheatre meets bis doom; . And borne a noble Roinan's honour'd name, Having, I trust, no power of words to charm What, o what power could tempt thee to this The enchafed lion, or the famish'd wolf.
shame? Pon. I am inform’d, and I believe it true
"Cor. I have been tempted by that mighty Power That this bold malefactor is enlarged.
Who gave to Rome her greatness, to the eartă Ncro. It is impossible ! Cordenius Maro
Form and existence ; yea, and to the soul Is sworn to guard the prisoner; or, failing, Of living, active man, sense and perception : (How could he fail ?) to pay with his own life | But not to shame, o Cæsar! not to shame! The forfeit. But bebold his favourite friend, | Nero. What, hast thou not become a Nazarene,
As now I apprehended ? Say, thou hast not ; | First bind thyself by every sacred oath
O could I speak what might convince Rome's chief, Cor. If thou wouldst spare my life, and to that Her senators, her tribes, her meanest slaves, grace
Of Christ's most blessed truth, the fatal pile
Vaults to his envied seat, while Rome's throng'd Basely deny.
streets Nero. Thou art a Christian, then ? Thou art a Resound his shouted name. Within me stirs maniac!
The spirit of truth and power which spoke to me, Cor. I am a man, who, seeing in the flames And will upon thy mind.Those dauntless Christians suffer, long'd to know Nero.
I charge thee cease ! What power could make them brave the fear of Orc. Nay, emperor ! might I entreat for him? death,
Cor. (catching hold of Orceres eagerly.) Not for Disgrace, and infamy.-And I have learnt
my life. That they adore a God, yone God, supreme,
Orc. No ; not for that, brave Maro! Who, over all men, his created sons,
(To Nero.) Let me entreat that he may freely Rules as a father ; and beholding sin,
speak. Growth of corruption, mar this earthly race, Fear'st thou he should convince thee by his words? Sent down to earth his sinless, heavenly Son, That were a foul affront to thine own reason, Who left, with generous devoted love,
Or to the high divinities of Rome. His state of exaltation and of glory,
Nero. Cease, Prince of Parthia ! nor too far preTo win them back to virtue, yea, to virtue
sume Which shall be crown'd with never-ending bliss. Upon a noble stranger's privilege. I've learnt that they with deep adoring gratitude
| Pon. Shall words so bold be to mine ear august Pay homage to that Son, the sent of God,
So freely utter'd with impunity? Who here became a willing sacrifice
Orc. Pontiff! I much revere thy sacred office, To save mankind from sin and punishment, But scorn thy paltry words. Not freely speak! And earn for them a better life hereafter,
Not with impunity! Is this a threat ? When mortal life is closed. The heart's deep ho- Let Rome's great master, or his angry slaves, mage
Shed one drop of my blood, and orr our plains Becoming well such creatures, so redeem'd. Where heretofore full many a Roman corse, Nero. Out on that dreaming madness?
With Parthian arrows pierced, have vultures fed, Cor. Is it madness
Twice thirty thousand archers in array, To be the humble follower of Him,
Each with his bow strain’d for the distant mark, Who left the bliss of heaven to be for us
Shall quickly stand, impatient for revenge. A man on earth, in spotless virtue living
Not with impunity! As man ne'er lived : such words of comfort speak- Sul. Nay, nay, Orceres ! with such haughty ing,
words To rouse, and elevate, and cheer the heart, Thou’lt injure him thou plead’st for. Noble Cæsar! As man ne'er spoke; and suffering poverty, Permit an aged man, a faithful servant, Contempt, and wrong, and pain, and death itself, To speak his thoughts. This brave deluded youth As man ne'er suffer'd ?-0, if this be madness, Is now, as I sincerely do believe, Which makes each generous impulse of my nature Beneath the power of strong and dire enchantment. Warm into ecstasy, each towering hope
Hear not his raving words, but spare his life, Rise to the noblest height of bold conception ;
And when its power (for all delusion holds That which is reason call’d, and yet has taught you Its power but for a season) shall be spent, To worship different gods in every clime,
| He will himself entreat your clemency, As dull and wicked as their worshippers,
And be again the soldier of the state, Compared to it, is poor, confined, and mean,
Brave and obedient. Do not hear him now; As is the Scythian's curtain'd tent, compared
Command him to retire. With the wide range of fair, expanded nature. Cor. I thank thee, good Sulpicius, but my life,
Nero. Away, away! with all those lofty words! For which thou plead'st, take no account of that ; They but bewilder thee.
I yield it freely up to any death, Cor. Yet hear them, Nero ! O resist them not! Cruel or merciful, which the decree Perhaps they are appointed for thy good,
Of Cæsar shall inflict, for leave to speak And for the good of thousands. When these hands E’en but a few short moments. Princely Nerc ! Which have so oft done Rome a soldier's service, The strong enchantment which deludes my soul This tongue which speaks to thee, are turn'd to Is, that I do believe myself the creature, ashes,
Subject and soldier, if I so may speak, What now appears so wild and fanciful,
Of an Almighty Father, King, and Lord, May be remembered with far other feelings. Before whose presence, when my soul shall be It is not life that I request of Nero,
Of flesh and blood disrobed, I shall appear, Although I said these hands have fought for Rome. There to remain with all the great and good No; in the presence of these senators,
| Thate'er have lived on earth; yea, and with spirits
Higher than earth e'er own'd, in such pure bliss Orc. Noble Cordenius! can thy martial spirit
Fighting with savage beasts, the sport of fools,
Mangled and piece-meal torn ? It must not be. With souls of wicked men and wrathful demons. Cor. Be not so moved, Orceres ; I can bear it That I believe this earth on which we stand The God I worship, who hath made me humble, Is but the vestidule to glorious mansions,
Hath made me dauntless too. And for the shame Through which a moving crowd for ever press; Which, as I guess, disturbs thee most, my Master, And do regard the greatest Prince, who now The Lord and Leader I have sworn to follow, Inflicts short torment on this flesh, as one
| Did as a malefactor end his days, Who but in passing rudely rends my robe.
To save a lost, perverted race: shall I And thinkest thou that I, believing this,
Feel degradation, then, in following him? Will shrink to do his will whom I adore ?
Orc. In this, alas! thou'lt follow him too surely: Or thinkest thou this is a senseless charm,
But whither, noble Maro? Which soon will pass away?
Cor. E'en to my destined home, my Father's Nero. High words, indeed, if resting on good
Orc. And where is that? O, canst thou tell me A maniac's fancies may be grand and noble.
where? Cor. Ay, now thou listenest, as a man should Beyond the ocean or beneath the earth? listen,
Be there more worlds than this, beyond our ken With an inquiring mind. Let me produce
In regions vast, above the lofty stars? The proofs which have constrain'd me to believe, Could we through the far stretch of space descry From written law and well-attested facts ;
E'en but the distant verge, though dimly mark'd, Let me produce my proofs, and it may be,
Of any other world, I would believe The Spirit of Truth may touch thy yielding heart, That virtuous men deceased have in good truth And save thee from destruction.
A destined place of rest. Nero. Ha ! dost thou think to make of me a con- Cor. Believe it-0, believe it, brave Orceres ! vert?
Orc. I'll try to do it. I'll become a Christian, Away, weak fool! and most audacious rebel !
Were it but only to defy this tyrant. Give proofs of thy obedience, not thy faith,
Cor. Thou must receive with a far different spirit If thou wouldst earn thy pardon.
The faith of Jesus Christ. Perhaps thou wilt. Cor. If thou condemn me in the flames to die My heart leaps at the thought. When I am dead, I will and must obey thee; if to live,
Remain in Rome no longer. In the East Disgraced by pardon won through treachery Search thou for Ethocles, whom I have rescued ; To God, my King supreme, and his bless'd Christ, And if he shall convert thee, 0, how richly I am, indeed, thy disobedient rebel.
He will repay all I have done for him! Nero. And shall as such, most dearly pay the -But, I would now withdraw a little space, forfeit.
To pour my thoughts in prayer and thankfulness Out!-take him from my presence till the time To Him, the great, the good, the wise, the just, Of public execution.
Who holds man's spirit in his own high keeping, Cordenius Maro, thou shalt fall this day
And now supports my soul, and will support it, By no ignoble foe;--a noble lion,
Till my appointed task is done. In secret Famish'd and fierce, shall be thy adversary. The hearts by Jesus taught, were bid to pray, Ard dost thou smile and raise thy head at this, And, if it be permitted, so will I. In stately confidence ?
(To the Guards, who advance as he speaks to Cor. God will deliver me from every adversary. them.) And thou too smilest.-Yes; he will deliver My guards and, some time past, my fellow soldiers, That which I call myself. For this poor form
Let me remain alone a little while, Which vests me round, I give it to destruction
And fear not my escape. If ye distrust me, As gladly as the storm-beat traveller,
Watch well the door, and bind my hands with Who, having reach'd his destined place of shelter,
chains. Drops at the door his mantle's cumbrous weight.
First Offi. Yes, brave Cordenius, to another Nero. (going.) Then to thy visionary hopes !!
chamber leave thee,
Thou mayst retire, and we will watch without. Incorrigible man! Here, in this chamber
But be thy person free: we will not bind, Keep him secure till the appointed hour.
With felon cord or chain, those valiant hands
(To the Officers, &c.) Which have so often for thy country fought, Off, good Sulpicius ! hang not on me thus ! Until we are commanded.
Sul. O, mighty Cæsar! countermand your orders : Cor. I thank ye all, my friends, and I believe Delay it but a month, a week, a day.
That I shall meet and thank ye too hereafter ; [EXEUNT Nero, Sulpicius, Senators, &c. Sulpicius For there is something in you God must love,
still keeping close to Nero in the act of sup- And, loving, will not give to reprobation. plication. — Orceres, Cordenius, and Guards
(To First Officer.) remain, the Guards standing respectfully at a Codrus, thou once didst put thy life in hazard, distance in the back-ground.
And sufferedst much to save a helpless Greek
Who sought protection of thee.
E’en to be spent in want and contumely, (Turning to the Second Officer.) Rather than grieve thy kind and tender heart,
Ay, and thou, My dearest, gentlest friend! I had accepted: Young Lelius, once a rich and tempting ransom But to deny my God, and put dishonour Nobly remittedst to a wretched captive.
Upon the noblest, most exalted faith Ye are of those whom Jesus came to save:
That ever was to human thoughts reveal'a, Yes; we shall meet hereafter. (To Third Officer.) Is what I will not-yea, and though a Roman, And thou, my former enemy, weepest thou ? A noble Roman, and a soldier too, We're enemies no more ; thou art my brother. I dare not do. Let Nero have this answer. I will retire; my little term of life
Por. No, not this answer, Maro ; not this anRuns fieetly on; I must not spend it thus.
wer! (EXEUNT. Cast not life from thee, dear, most dear Cordenius!
Life, too, which I should spend my life in cheering, SCENE III.-A CROWDED AMPHITHEATRE: NERO
Cast it not from thee like a worthless thing. AND THE SENATORS DISCOVERED IN THE BACKCROUND SITTING IN STATE. PORTIA BY THE SIDE 1 Cor. Because it is not worthless but most preOF NERO, IN THE ACT OF SUPPLICATION.
cious, Enter SULPICIUS on the front, meeting with another noble |
| And now, when dear to thee, more precious far ROMAN.
Than I have e'er esteem'd it, 'tis an offering Sul. (eagerly.) Is he advancing
More meet for God's acceptance ; Noble Rom.
Yes, and close at hand.) Withheld from Him, not e'en thyself, sweet maid, Surrounded by a group of martial friends.
Couldst cheer its course, nor yet couldst thou be Oft have I seen him on a day of battle
happy. March to the charge with noble, portly gait,
Por. Nay, but I could !--to see thee still alive, But now he treads the ground with buoyant steps | And by my side, mine own redeemed friend, Which from its surface spring, as though he press'd Should
Should I not then be happy?
not Substance of renovating power. His form
Cor. I should be by thy side, dear love! but Seems stately and enlarged beyond its wont;
thou, And in his countenance, oft turn'd to heaven,
With all thy excellence, couldst have no happiness, There is a look as if some god dwelt in him.
Mated with one, whose living form alone Sul. How do the people greet him
Could move upon the earth, whilst far adrift Noble Rom.
His mind would dwell, by ceaseless meditation, Gazing upon him, turns, with transit quick,
In other worlds of blessedness or wo; Pity to admiration. Warlike veterans
Lost to the one, and to the other link'd Are shedding tears like infants. As he pass'd
By horrid sympathy, till his wrench'd nature The legion he commanded in Armenia,
Should to a demon's fell and restless spirit They raised a shout as if a victor came,
At last be changed. Saluting him with long and loud applause
Por. Alas, alas! and dost thou then believe None daring to reprove them.
That naught remains for thee but death or misery? (Noise without of shoutings.) 1 Cor. No, gentle Portia ! firmly I believe Hark! he comes.
That I shall live in endless happiness,
And with the blest hereafter shall behold Enter CORDENIUS, followed by Orceres and Sylvius, | Thy blessed self, with ecstasy of love, and attended by other friends, with GUARDS, &c.
Exceeding every thought of earth-born passion, Sul. (advancing eagerly to meet him.) Cordenius,
As the fair morning star in lovely brightness
Excels a night-fly, twinkling through the gloom. A faithful, ancient friend ; thy Portia's father!
Live in this hope, dear Portia! hold it fast; At Nero's footstool she is pleading for thee,
And may his blessing rest upon thy head, And will not plead in vain, if thou wilt testify
Who loves the loving and the innocent! A yielding mind, a willingness to live.
Farewell, in love and hope ! farewell, in peace ! Cor. I am so pleased to die, and am so honour'd, Farewell, in quickening faith,-in holy joy! In dying for the pure and holy truth,
Por. (clasping his knees.) Nay, let me yet conThat nature's instinct seems in me extinguish'd.
jure thee! But if the emperor freely pardon me,
Make me not wretched, me who once was happy, I shall believe it is the will of God
Ay, happiest of all in loving thee. That I should yet on earth promote his service, Cor. This is mine anguish and my suffering! And, so believing, am content to live ;
0, good Sulpicius! bear her to her home. Living or dying, to his will resign'd.
Sul. (leading her gently avay, while she still Ever PORTIA on the front, and catching hold or CORDE
clings to him.) Forbear, my child, thy NIUS with eagerness and great agitation.
tears are all in vain. Por. Cordenius, thou art pardoned. Nero spares
Enter a LICTOR thee, If thou wilt only say thou art a Roman,
Lic. Cæsar forbids all further interruption In heart and faith as all thy fathers were,
To his imperial sentence. Let Cordenius Or but forbear to say thou art a Christian. | Forthwith prepare him for the fatal fight. Cor. Thanks, gentle Portia! life preserved by | This is mine office, and I must perform it. thee,
(Begins to disrobe Cordenius, while Portia shrieks
aloud, and is carried off in the arms of her
NOTE TO THE DRAMA.
For the better understanding, of different allusions in
the foregoing drama, I beg to transcribe a few passages Master
from Fox's History of Martyrs, taken from book i., which Hath braced me with an armour that defies
contains an account of the ten persecutions of the primi. All hostile things; in which I'll strive more proudly live church. Than I have ever fought in field or breach
He says, on the authority of Justin Martyr, And With Rome's or Nero's foes.
whether earthquake, pestilence, or whatever public ca.
lamity befell, it was attributed to the Christians;" (then Lic. Cæsar desires thee also to remember,
is added) "over and besides all these, a great occasion That no ignoble audience, e'en thy emperor,
that stirred up the emperors against the Christians came And all the states of Rome, behold thy deeds. by one Publius Tarquinius, the chief prelate of the Cor. Tell him my deeds shall witness'd be by | idolatrous sacrifices, and Mamertinus, the chief governor those
of the city, in the time of Trajanus, who, partly with Compared to whom the emperor of Rome,
money, partly with sinister, pestilent counsaile, partly
with infamous accusations, (as witnesseth Nauclerus,) With all her high estates, are but as insects
incensed the mind of the emperor so much against Hovering at midday o'er some tainted marsh. God's people.” I know full well that no ignoble audience
In the account of the third persecution (an. 100,) Are present, though from mortal eyes conceal'd. Eustasius, a great and victorious captain, is mentioned Farewell, my friends! kind, noble friends, farewell!
as suffering martyrdom by order of the Emperor Adrian,
who went to meet him on his return from conquest over Apart to Sylvius, while Orceres goes off, reap
the barbarians; but upon Eustasius's refusing on the pearing in another part of the theatre.) way to do sacrifice to Apollo for his victory, brought Sylvius, farewell! If thou shouldst e'er be call'd him to Rome, and had him put to death. To die a holy martyr for the truth,
In the fourth persecution, (an. 162,) it is mentioned God give thee then the joy which now I feel.
that many Christian soldiers were found in the army
of Marcus Aurelius. But keep thy faith conceal'd, till useful service
"As these aforesaid were going to their execution, Shall call thee to maintain it. God be with thee!
there was a certain soldier who in their defence took
(Looking round.) part against those who railed upon them, for the which Where is Orceres gone? I thought him near me. cause the people crying out against him, he was appreSyl. 'Tis but a moment since he left thy side
hended, and being constant in his profession, was forthWith eager haste.
In the persecutions of Decius, several soldiers are Cor. He would not see my death. I'm glad he's
mentioned as martyrs, some of whom had before congone.
cealed their faith; and in the tenth persecution, Mauri. Say I inquired for him, and say I bless'd him. tius, the captain of the Theban band, with his soldiers, -Now I am ready. Earthly friends are gone.
to the number of 6666, (a number probably greatly exAngels and blessed spirits, to your fellowship
aggerated) are recorded as having been slain as
martyrs by the order of Maximinian. A few short pangs will bring me.
Tertullian, in his Apology for the Christians, mentions -0, Thou, who on the cross for sinful men
the slanderous accusations against them, of putting A willing sufferer hung'st! receive my soul ! to death children and worshipping an ass's head. And Almighty God and sire, supreme o'er all!
when we consider how fond the ignorant are of excitePardon my sins and take me to thyself!
ment arising from cruel, absurd, and wonderful stories,
and how easily a misapprehended and detached exAccept the last words of my earthly lips :
pression may be shaped by conjecture into a detailed High hallelujah to thy holy name!
transaction, such accusations were very probable and (A Lion now appears, issuing from a low door might be naturally expected; particularly when the
at the end of the Stage, and Cordenius, advan- unoffending meekness of their behaviour made supposed cing to meet it, enters the Arena, when Orceres
hidden atrocities more necessary for the justification of from a lofty stand amongst the spectators, sends
their persecutors. an arrow from his bow, which pierces Cordenius through the heart. He then disappears, and re-entering below, catches hold of his hand as Sylvius supports him from falling to the
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS. ground.) Orc. (lo Cordenius.) Have I done well, my Is there a man, that from some losty steep, friend ?-this is a death
Views in his wide survey the boundless deep, More worthy of a Roman.
When its vast waters, lined with sun and shade, I made a vow in secret to my heart,
Wave beyond wave, in seried distance, fade That thou shouldst ne'er be made a mangled sight To the pale sky;-or views it, dimly seen, For gazing crowds and Nero's ruthless eye. The shifting screens of drifted mist between Syl. That dying look, wbich almost smiles upon As the huge cloud dilates its sable form, thee,
When grandly curtain’d by th’approaching storm, Says that thou hast dope well; though words no Who feels not his awed soul with wonder rise more .
To Him whose power created sea and skies, May pass from these closed lips, whose last bless'a | Mountains and deserts, giving to the sight utterance
The wonders of the day and of the night? Was the soul's purest and sublimest impulse. But let some fleet be seen in warlike pride,
(The curtain drops.) | Whose stately ships the restless billows ride,