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Mont. Yet the expression of your face has not That frightful air such patients often have.
Tas. My Lord, I am not so mad as they may think
The worthy man from—---- But proceed-your errand?
From bile diseased, and which at times breaks out
Tas. (aside.) Patience!-grant me patience, Heaven!
Gifts that are known and praised as they deserve;
A vain and overweening fantasy,
And hopes, which, if they were not criminal,
All things offend you. Now, confess it fairly,
Has given you more vexation than it ought.
Tas. Not so, fair sir! If what I write be good,
'Tis not the critic's voice can make it ill.
Mont. Ha ha! I give you joy, good friend.
The art which God has given me, is to me
I cherish this persuasion, when my spirit
When yours with all its pomp shall be forgotten.
The message is far enough from being consolatory. In answer to a letter which the poet had addressed to the Duke, the courtier bears a verbal answer, strictly prohibiting every such application in future, under the penalty of having his imprisonment rendered more close and rigorous than before; the letters which he may write to others are to be submitted to Montecatino's inspection, and those only for
warded of which he approves. Last
Keep. He sleeps, so please your Highness;
Is doubled, for he feels how much he suffers.
Do for him what you can
Alleviate as you may his destiny-
None is needed,
For we already love him; and my niece,
A child when he came here, and motherless,
Is always near him, bears him company,
And tends him lovingly. He loves the child too,
He wakes, he moves.
My knees give way.
O God! one glance alone!-
Tas. (looking up, exclaims, with a wild cry.) Ha!
[At the same moment the Keeper closes the glass door, and Angioletta rushes in from the side-room.
What is this, good Heaven?
Tas. 'Twas she-'twas she herself! It was no dream,
I am myself-my senses do not wander
That was herself- [Sinks on his knee, and stretches out his arms.
Act Second opens in Tasso's chamber, as before. The Keeper is attempting to persuade Tasso that the appearance of the Princess was a mere delu
sion of the imagination. The poet tells him his efforts are in vain; that he knows it was the Princess herself who had visited his cell; he infers that his
death had been resolved on by the Duke, and that her visit was a parting At this moment, Montecatino is again announced. Tasso believes
he comes to announce his sentence, and tells him he is prepared to die. A striking scene follows.
Mont. Dismiss these idle visions from your brain!
Torquato, you are free!
Tas. Free! Stop-be silent.
Take this note, and read.
Tasso! be composed.
Tas. My eyes are dazzled.
Tas. (after a pause.) Be firm, my heart: O, break not yet! What?-free!
Ah, me!—within the whole wide realm of speech
O give me words, O give me tones, kind Heaven,
To vent the exulting music of my soul,
That to the winds I may proclaim the joy
That fills my heart too full; for which no name
Mont. But only on conditions you are free.
In future is forbidden. Should you dare
Tas. It is enough for me. Let me go forth
But as a beggar, clad in sackcloth rags,
Not on my feet, but on my knees, to wander
Like one in penance-only let me go.
Mont. Do as you will; but be it done to-day.
Tas. Oh! death is nothing, life is nothing, freedom
Is all in all !
Free from this dark imprisonment to rove
From place to place, through mountain, wood, and vale
To see the day and night, and light and colour—
To drink the air into the gasping soul,
That were existence, that indeed were life
That I might sweep as freely as the eagle
Along the earth, and gaze-and gaze my fill !
Ang. Now, God be praised, Torquato! that you can.
Know liberty again—that I should live
To hear that sentence-" Tasso, you are free!"
Like an enfranchised slave. I shall behold
Keep. Joy makes your senses wander just like grief.
And nothing but his kindness is remember'd.
But whose entreaty moved the Prince to grant
The boon, when former prayers had proved in vain ?
In such an hour as this appear ungrateful,
Or towards God or towards man: I would not
Appear ungrateful even to my foes.
Mont. To many: yet methinks your chiefest thanks Are due unto the noble Duke of Mantua,
Tas. I feel so happy, that methinks the gall
At once has vanish'd from my joyous breast,
Since not a word even from his mouth offends me.
For the last time I do behold you, then,
Ye walls, which seven long years environ'd me.
Ye witnesses of all my sufferings,
My sorrow, my despair-to-day I quit ye!
And yet, so strange a riddle is man's heart,
I almost might imagine loth to go.
Ang. You go, Torquato-you return no more,
And I shall never, never more behold you.
Tas. Thou, too, my child-and must I part with thee!
A bitter drop within the cup of joy
That fires me thus. Much thou hast been to me,
More than thou could'st believe, or I
That I still live, perchance, I owe to thee.
Ang. And must we separate?—I cannot bear it.
A lovely child, at first, thou play'dst around me,
And thou hast grown a maiden by my side
Take me with you, Torquato!
Alone in this wide house, no more to see you;
No more to hear-I cannot bear it.
Oh take me with you! I will follow thee,
Guide you, where'er it be-tend you elsewhere
Tas. But whither would you go?
Ang. You are so ill-you need another's care;
Tas. Ay, so it is. I am a mouldering trunk ;
I was a child: I am a child no more.
How this has been, what change is wrought within,
I feel as I have never felt till now:
My world is where you are. You are my light,
Dreamt not of this before-not till this moment:
For, with my growth, did my affection grow
Part of myself; it was the atmosphere
Which I till now unconsciously inhaled.
Tas. Oh! speak no more of this! May God forbid
Should cross thy young and blooming thread of life!
The next scene is in front of the ducal palace at Ferrara. The palace is lighted up: masks in festal dresses are coming and retiring. Tasso enters to take a last look at the residence which contained Leonora. He asks of a nobleman who is about to enter the palace, what is the occasion of the festival, and is told that it is in honour of the intended espousal of Leonora to the Duke of Mantua. In despair, he resolves to set at defiance the prohibi
[Kisses her on the forehead, and exit.
tion of the Duke, to make his way into
Tasso, (in a pilgrim's dress and masked,) LEONOra.