Robert Browning.

The complete poetic and dramatic works of Robert Browning online

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Cha, Sir, that had proved

lite worthy of your sneer, no doubt : — a few
ne thoughts, regard for you alone could

Lame as they are, from brains like mine, be-
As 't is, sir, I am spared both toil and sneer.
These are the papers.

Vic. Well, sir? I suppose

Ton hardly burned them . Now for your resnlt I

Cha. 1 never should have done great things,
of course.
But ... oh my father, had you loved me more I

Vic, Loved? [Aside.] Has D'Ormea played
me false, I wonder?
[Aloud.] Why, Charles, a king's love is diffused

— yourself
May overlook, perchance, your part in it.
Our monarchy is absolutest now
In Europe, or my trouble 's thrown away.
I love, my mode, that subjects each and all
May^ have the power of loving, all and each.
Their mode : 1 doubt not, many have their sons
To trifle with, talk soft to, aU day long :
I have that crown, thid chair, D'Ormea, Charles I

Cha. 'T is well I am a subject then, not yon.

Vic. [Aside.] D'Ormea has told him every-
thing. [Aloud.] Aha,
I apprehend you : when all 's said, you take
Tour private station to be prized beyond
My own, for instance ?

Cha. — Do and ever did

So take it : 'tis the method you pursue
That grieves . . .

Vic. These words! Let me express, my
Tour thoughts. Ton penetrate what I supposed
Secret. D'Ormea plies his trade betimes I
I purpose to resign my crown to you.

Cha. Tome?

Vic. Now, — in that chamber.

Cha. Ton resigii

The crown to me ?

Vic. And time enough, Charles, suref

Confess with me. at four-and-sixty years
A crown 's a load. I covet quiet once
Before I die, and summoned yon for that.

Cha. 'T is I will speak : yon ever hated me*
I bore it, — have insulted me. borne too —
Now you insult vourself ; ana I remember
What I believed yon, what you really are.
And cannot bear it. What ! My life has passed
Under your eye, tormented as you know, —
Tour wnole sagacities, one after one.
At leisure brought to play on me -^ to prove me
A fool, I thought and I submitted ; now
Ton 'd prove . . . what would you prove me ?

Vic. This to me ?

I hardly know you !

Cha. ^ Know me? Oh indeed

Ton do not ! Wait till I complain next time
Of my simplicity ! — for here s a sage
Knows the world well, is not to be deceived^
And his experience and his Macchiavels,
D'Ormeas, teach him — what ? — that I this

Have envied him his crown ! He has not smiled,
I warrant, — has not eaten, drunk, nor slept.
For I was plotting with my Princess yonder !
Who knows what we might do or might not do?
Go now, be politic, astound the world I
That sentry in the antechamber — nay.

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The Tariet who disposed thispreoioiis trap

iPoimtimg to the croum.
That was to take me — ask them if they think
Their own sons envy them their posts I — Know
me I

Vic. Bnt von know me, it seems : so, learn,
in brief,
Mypleasnre. This assembly is convened . . .

Cka. Tell me, that woman put it in yoor
Yon were not sole contriver of the scheme,
Hyf ather I

Vic. Now observe me, sir I I jest

Seldom — on these points, never. Here, I say,
The knights assemble to see me concede.
And yon accept, ISardinia^s crown.

Cha. Farewell t

^were vain to hope to change this: I can end it.
Not that I cease from being youn, when sunk
Into obscurity : I *11 die for you,
Bnt not annoy yon with my presence. Sir,
Farewell 1 Farewell I

{BnUr D'Obhba.)

jD* O. [AsideA Ha, snre he 's changed again—
Means not to fall into the cunning trap I
Then, Victor, I shall vet escape you, Victor t

Vie. [Suadetdy placing the crown upon the


head of Charles.] D^Ormea, vour king t
To Cra.] My son, obey me ! CharlM,

oar father, clearer«ghted than yourself.
Decides it most be so. 'Faith, thja looks real I
Mv reasons after ; reason upon reason
Alter: but now, obey me I Trust in me I
By thisL you save Sardinia, you save me I
Why, the boy swoons I \To D'0.\ Come this
jyO, [At Crablbs fvm» from him to Vic-
tor ] Ton persist f
Vic. Tes, I conceive the gesture's meaning.
He almost seems to hate you: how is that?
Be reassured, my Charles t Is 't over now ?
llien. Marquis, teU the new King what remains
To do I A moment's work. Del Borgo reads
The Act of Abdication out, you sign it,
^en I sign ; after that, come back to me.
lyp. Sir, for the last time, pause I
Vie. Five minutes longer

I am your sovereign. Marquis. Hesitate —
And I 'U so turn those minutes to account
That . . . Av, jou recollect me I [Agidcl

Could I brmg
1^ foolish mind to undergo the reading
That Act of Abdication t

[A* OaAKUi moHom D^OmaA to preeede Mm.
Thanks, dear Charles I

[OaAKUi (tnd D*OBiau retire.
Vie. A novel feature in the boy, -— indeed
Just what I feared he wanted most. Quite

This earnest tone : your truth, now for effect I
It answers every purpose : with that look.
That voice, — 1 hear him : ** I began no

(He speaks to Spain,) **nor ever dreamed of

Yon show me ; this I from mv soul regret;
But if my &tner signed it, bid not me

Dishonor him — who gave me all, beside: "
And, ** true," says Spain, ** 't were harsh to

visit that
Upon the Prince." Than come the nobles

" I grieve at these exactions — I had cut
This hand off ere impose them ; bnt shall I
Undo mv father's deed ? " -> and thev conte :
** Doubtless he was no party, after all ;
Give the Prince time I "

Ay, give us time, but time t
OnW, he must not, when the dark day comes,
Reter our friends to me and frustrate all.
We '11 have no child's play, no desponding fits.
No Charles at each cross tun entreating Victor
To take his crown again. Guard against that 1

{Enter D*Obmba.)
Long live King Charies I

No — Charies's counsellor I
Well, is it over. Marquis ? Did I jest P

D'O. ''King Charles!" What then may
you be?

Vic. Anything I

A country gentleman that, cured of bustle.
Now beats a quick retreat toward Chamber^,
Would hunt and hawk and leave jron ndinr folk
To drive jrour trade without him. I 'm Count

Remont —
Count Tende — any little pUce's Coont 1

D'O. Then '^Hotor. Captain aniiMt Catinat
At Staffarde, where tne French beat yon ; and

At Turin, where you beat the French; King

Of Savoy, Piedmont, Monti emt, Sardinia,
— Now, *^any little pUce's Count " —

Vic. Ptoceed!

D'O. Breaker of vows to €kMl, who crowned
you first;
Breaker of vows to man, who kept you since ;
Most profligate to me who outraged God
And man to serve you, and am made pay crimes
I was but privy to, by passing thus
To your imbecile son — who, well yon know.
Must — (when the people here, and nations

Clamor for you the main delinquent, slipped
From King to—'' Count of any little place)"
Must needs surrender me, all in his reach, —
I, sir, forgive you : for I see the end —
See jou on your return — (you will return) —
To him you trust, a moment ...

Vic. Trust him? How?

My poor man, merely a prime-minister.
Make me know where my trust errs !

D'O. In his fear.

His love, his — but discover for ^ronnelf
What you are weakest, trusting in t

Vic. Aha,

D'Ormea, not a shrewder scheme than this
In your repertory ? You know old Victor —
Vain, oholericj inconstant, rash — (I 've heard
Talkers who htUe thought the King so dose) —
Felicitous now, were 't not, to provoke him
To dean forget, one minute afterward.
His solemn act, and call the nobles back
And pray them give again the very power
He has abjured r — for the dear sake of what?

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Vengeance on yon, D^Onnea ! No : snob am I,
Count Tende or Count anvtlung you please,
— Only, the same that did the tlungs yon say.
And, among other things yon say not, used
Your finest fibre, meanest muscle, — ^ou
I used, and now, since you will have it so,
Leare to your fate — mere' lumber in the midst.
You and your works. Why, what on earth be-
Are you made for, you sort of ministers ?

D'O. Not left, though, to my fate I Your
witless son
Has more wit than to load himself with lupiber :
He foils von that way, and I follow you.

Vic, Btay with my son — protect the weaker
side I

D'O. Ay, to be tossed the people like a rag,
And flung by them for Spam and Anstria^i

Abolishing the record of your part
In all this perfidy I

Vic, Prevent, beside.

My own return 1

X>'0. That 's half prevented now I

'T will go hard but you find a wondrous charm
In exile, to discredit me. The Al]^
Silk-mills to watch, vines asking vigilance —
Hounds open for the stag, your hawk 's

Brave days that wait the Louis of the South,
Italy *s Janus I

Vic. So, the lawyer's d''"^

Won't tell me that I shall repent I

D^O, ' You give me

Full leave to ask if you repent ?

Vic. Whei^'er

Sufficient time 's elapsed for that, you judge t

iShouU Uuide, ** Sjio Chablm t **

D'O. Do you repent?
Vic, [AJtar a dtaht pause.] . . . I 've kept
than waiting? Yes!
Come in, complete the Abdication, sir! [They
go out.

{BtUer PoLTXBiA.)

Pol. A shout I The sycophants are free of
Oh. is not this like Italy? Nofruit
Of nis or my distempered fancy, this.
But just an ordinary fact I Beside,
Here they 've set forms for such proceedings ;

Imprisoned Ids own mother : he should know,
If any, how a son 's to be deprived
Of a son's right. Our duty ^s palpable.
Ne'er was my husband for the wily king
And the unworthy subjects : be it so 1
Come you safe out of them, my Charles I Our

Grows not the broad and dazrling life, I

Might prove your lot ; for strength was shut in

None guessed but I— strength which, untram-
melled once,
Had little shamed your vaunted ancestry —
Patience and self Hievotion, fortitude,
Simplierty and utter truthfulness
— All wmoh, they shout to lose I


So, now my work
from regret. Save

Begins — to save

Regret ? — the noble nature I He 's not made

Like these Italians : 't is a German souL
(Ghablis mtert troumed.)

Oh, Where's the King's heir? Gone: — the
Crown-prince ? Gone : —

Where 's Savoy ? Gone!— Sardinia? Gonel
But Charles

Is left I And when my Rhine-land bowers ar-

If he looked almost handsome ;^ester-twilight

As his gray eyes seemed widening into black

Because I praised him, then how will he look ?

Farewell, yon stripi>ed and whited mulberry-

Bound each to each by lazy ropes of vine I

Now I'll teach you my language: I'm not

To speak Italian now, Charles ?

IShe sees the croton.} ^ What is this?

Answer me — who has done this ? Answer !
Cha. He!

I am King now.
Pol. Oh worst, worst, worst of all!

Tell me! What, Victor? He has made you

What 's he then? What 's to follow this? You,
Cha. Have I done wrong ? Yes, for yon were

not by 1
Pol. Tell me from first to last.
Cha. Hush — a new world

Brightens before me ; he is moved away

— Ijie dark form that eclipsed it, he subsides

Into a shape supporting me like yon,

And I, alone, tend upward, more and more

Tend upward : I am grown Sardinia's King.
Pol. Now stop: was not this Victor, Duke
of Savoy

At ten years old?
Cha. He was.

Pol. And the Duke spent.

Since then, just four-aud-fifty years in toil

To be— what?

Cha. K™ftL

Then why unking bimnAlf f
Those years are cause enough.

The only cause?
Some new perplexities.

Which yon can solve
Although he cannot ?
Cha. He assures me so.

Pol. And this he means shall last — how

Cha. How long?

Think you I fear the perils I confront ?
He 's praising me before the people's face —
My people !
Pol. Then he *s changed — grown kind, the
Where can the tnq» be ?

Cha. Heart and soul I pledge f

My father, could I guard the crown you gainedi
Transmit as I received it, — all good else
Would I surrender !
Pol. Ah, it opens then


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Before 700^ all yoa dreaded f ormerlr ?
Yoa are rejoieea to be a kins', my Charles f
Cha> So mnoh to dare ? The better,— nmoh
to dread:
Hie better. I H adrentore though alone.
Triamph or die, there 's Victor etill to witnev
Who dies or triumphs — either way, alone !
Pol, Once I had f oond my share in trinmph,
Or death.

Cka. Bntyoaarell Botyoaloall
To take. Heaven's proxy, tows I tendered

A ■Mii ii ent since. I will deserve the erown 1
Pol, Yoa will. [Aside,^ No doubt it were a
glorious thing
For any people, if a heart like hw
Baled over it. I woold I saw the trap.
(Enter Vioxoa.)

Tis he most show me.

Vic, So, the mask falls off

An old man's fooUsh love at last. Spare thanks 1
I know yoa, and Polyxena I know.
Here 's Charles — I am hisgaest now — does he

bid me
Be seated? And my light-haired bloe-eyed

Most not f oiget the old man far away
At Chambery, who doses while she reigns.

Pol, Most gratefol shall we now be, talking

Of gratatade — indeed of anything

That hinden what yoarself most need to say

To Charles.

Cka, Ftey speak, sir 1

Vie, 'Faith, not much to say :

Only what shows itself, yoa once i' the point
Of sight. Yoa 're now the King : yoa jI com-
Mnch voa may oft have wondered at — the

Dissinmlation. wiliness I showed.

For what 'soar post? Here 's Savc^ and here 's

Here 's liontf errat — a breadth here, a space

there —
To o'er«weep all th o s e , what 's one weapon

I often think of how they f (mht in Greece
(Or Rome, which was it ? xoa 're the scholar,

Yoa made a front-throst ? But if year shield

Were not adroitly planted, some shrewd knave
Beached yon behmd ; and nim foiled, straight if

And handle of that shield were not oast loose.
And yon enabled to ontstrip the wind,
Freeh foes assailed yoa, either side ; 'scape these.
And reach yonr place of refuge— e'ea then,

H the gate opened anless breath enoagh
Were vsSt in yoa to make its lord a speech.
(H^voa will see I

CHa, No : strai^ on shall I go,

TVoth helptng ; win with it or die with it.
Vie, 'Faitn, Charles, yon 're not made

Europe's fitting-man I

The barrier-goarder, if yoa please. Yoaelatolf
Hold and consolidate, with envious France
This side, with Austria that, the territory
Iheld^ay, andwiUhold . . . which yon shall

Despite the couple I But I 've surely earned
Exemption from these weary politios,
— The privilege to prattle with my son
And dau|rhter here, though Europe wait the

Pel. Nay, sir, — at Chambery. away forever.
As soon you will be, 't is farewell we bid you :
Turn thoM few fleeting moments to account !
'T is just as thoogh it were a death.

Vic. Indeed I

Pd. [A$ide.^ Is the trap there ?

Cha. Ay, call tnis parting — death I

The sacreder vour memory becomes.
H I misrule Sardinia, how bring back
My father?


Pol. [who watekes Viotob narrowly thU
whUe], Your father does not mean

Yon should be ruling for your father's sake :
It is your people must concern you wholly
Instead ot him. You mean this, sir ? (He drops
My hand I)

Cha. That people is now nart of me.

Vie. About the people 1 I took certain

Some short time sinoe . . . (Hi, I know well,

you know
But little of my measures I These affect
The nobles ; we 've resumed some grants, im-
A tax or two: prepare yoarself . in short.
For clamor on that score. Mark me: you yield
Nojot of aught entrusted you t

Pol. Nojot

You 3rield I

Cmi, My father, when I took the oath,

Although my eye might stray in search of yours,
I heara it, understood it, promised Qod
What you require. Till from this eminence
He move me, here I keep, 'nor shall concede
The meanest of my rights.

Vie. {A»ide.\ The boy 's a fool !

— Or rather, I^m a fool : fori what 's wrong

To-day the sweets of reigning : let to-morrow
Be ready with its bitters.

{Enter D'Obhba.)

There 's beside
Somewhat to press upon yonr notice first.

Cha. Then why delay it for an instant, sir ?
That Spanish claim perchance ? And, now yoa

— Tins morning, my opimon was mature.
Which, boy-like, I was bashful in producing
To one I ne'er am hke to fear in future !

My thought is formed upon that Spanish chum.

Vic. Betimes indeed. Not now, Charles I
You require
A host of papers on it.

D'O. [CominpfonoaTd.l Here they are.
[To Cha.] I, sir, was minister and much beside
Of the late monarch ; to say little, him
I served : on you I have, to say e'ea leas.

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Ko dairo. This case oontiuiiB those pi^rs:

with them
I tender you mj office.

Vic. IHcutify,] Keep him, Charles 1

There *8 reason for it — many reasons : yon
Distmst him, nor are so far wrone there, — bat
He *8 mixed ojp in this matter — he '11 desire
To quit yon, for occasions known to me :
Do not accept those reasons : hare him star !

Pol. [Aside.] His minister throst on ns 1

Cha. [To D'O.l Sir, beUeve,

In justice to myself, yon do not need
E'en this commending : howsoe'er migiht seem
My feelings toward yon, as a private man.
They ^uit me in the yast and untried field
Of action. Thoup^h I shall myself (as late
In your own hearmg I engaged to do)
Preside o'er my^sardinia, yet your help
Is necessary. Think the pieut forgotten
And serre me now I

D*0. I did not offer you

My service — would that I could serve you, ear 1
As for the Spanish matter . . .

Vic. But dispatch

At least the dead, in my good daughter's phrase.
Before the Hving ! Help to house me sale
Ere with D'Ormea jrou set the world agape I
Here is a paper — will you overlook
What I propose reserving for my needs?
Iget as tar from you as possible :
Here 's what I reckon mjr expenditure.

Cha. [Beading.] A miserable fifty thousand
^ crowns I

Vic. Oh, quite enough for oonntiy gentle-
Beside, the exehequer happeoB . . . but find

All that, jourselft

Cha. (StiU reading.] ** Count Tende" —
what means this?

Vic. Me : you were but an infimt when I

Through the defile of Tende upon France.
Had only my allies kept true to me !
No matter. Tende 's, then, a name I take
Just as . . .

D*0. — The Marchioness Sebastian takes
The name of Spigno.

Cha. How, sir?

Vic. [ToD'O.] Fooll All that

Was for mv own detailing. [To Cha.] That
anon I

Cha. [ToD^O.] Explain what you hare
said, sirl

D'O. I supposed

The marriage of the King to her I named.
Profoundly kept a secret these few weeks,
Was not to be one, now he 's Count.

Pol. [Aside.] With us

The minister— with him the mistress t

Cha. [To Vic] No-

Tell me you have not taken her — that wo-

To live with, past recall I

Vic, And where 's the crime . . .

Pol. [To Cha.] True, sir, this is a matter
past recall
And past your cognizance. A day before.

And you had been compelled to note this —

Why note it ? The King saTed his Hoaaa

from shame:
What the Count did, is no concern of ^nrs.
Cha. [After a pause.] The Spanish claim,

Vic. Why, my son,

I took some ill-advised . . . erne's age, in fact.
Spoils everjrthing : though I was overreached,
A younger brain, we 'U trust, may extricate
Sardinia readily. To-^norrow, D'Ormea,
Inform the King I
D^O. [Without regarding VicroB, and

Thus stands the case with Spain :
When first the Infant Carlos claimed his proper
Succession to the throne of Tuscany . . .
Vic. 1 tell you, that stands over I Let that
There is the policy !

Cha. [To 2>'0.] Thus much I know.
And more — too much. Tlie remedy ?

D'O. Of course I

Nqglimpse of one.

Vic. No remedy at all I

It makes the remedy itself — tune makes it.
D'O. [To Cha.] Butif . . .
Vic. [Still more hastily.] In fine, I shall
take care of that :
And, with another project that I have . . .
D^O. [I^uming on him.] Oh, since Count
Tende means to take again
King Victor's crown ! —
Pol. [Throwing hersdf at VicrroB's feet.]
£• en now retake it, sir I
Oh, speak I We are your subjects both, once

Say it — a word effects it ! ^ You meant not.
Nor do mean now, to take it : but you must 1
'Tii in Tou — in your nature — and the shame *•
Not half the shame 't wouldgrow to afterwards I
Cha. Polyxena I

Pol. A word recalls the knifi^its —

Say it I— What's promising and what"s the

Say you are still King Victor I

D^O. Better say

The Count repents, in brief I

[VlOTOB Hm«.

Cha. With such a crime

I have not charged yon, sir !
Pol. Charles turns from me !



Enter Qubh Poltxbxa and D*0bmx4. — A pause.

Pol. And now, sir, what have you to say ?

D'O. Count Tende . . .

Pol. Affirm not I betrayed you; you r&
On uttering this strange intelligence
— Nay, post yourself to find me ere I reach
The capital, because jrou know Eling Charles
Tarries a day or two at Evian baths

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Behind me : — but take warning, — here and
thus iSeaUng kerseifm the nyai teat,

I liBten, if I listen — not your friend.
EzpUoitly the statement, if yon still
Persist to um it on me, most proceed :
I am not made for aught else.

D'O, Good! Count Tende .. .

Pol. I, who mistrust yon, shall acquaint
King: Charles,
Who even more mistrusts you.

D'O, Does he so?

Pol. Why should he not?

D'O, Ay, wh^not? Motives, seek

You virtuous people, motives I Say, I serve
God at the devil's bidding — will that do?
I 'm proud : our people have been pacified.
Really I know not how —

Pol. By truthf nbiesB.

jD'O. Exactly ; that shows I had naught to

With pacifving them. Our foreign perils

Also exceed my means to stay : bntnere

T is otherwise, and my pride *s piqued. Count

Completes a full year's absence : would yoo,

Have the old monarch back, his mistress back.
His measures back ? I pray you, act upon
My counsel, or they will be.

Pol. When?

D'O. Let's think.

Home-matters settled — Victor 's coming now ;
Let foreign matters settle — Victor 's heie
Unless I stop him ; as I wilL this way.

Pol. [Reading the papers he preserUs^Vlt this
should prove a plot 'twixt you and Victor ?
Too seek annoyances to give the pretext
For what you say yon fear I

D'O. Oh, possibly t

Igo for nothing. Onlv show King Charles
That thus Count Tenoe purposes return.
And style me his inviter, if ^ou please I

Pol. Half of your tale is true ; most like,
the Count
Seeks to return : but wh^ stay yoa with us?
To aid in such emeigenoiee.

D'O. Keep safe

Those piqiers : or, to serve me, leave no proof
I thus nave counselled I When the Count re-
And the Kmg abdicates, 't will stead me little
To have thus counselled.

Pol. The King abdicate!

D^O, He's eood, we knew long since —
wise, we discover —
Firm, let us hope : — but I 'd have gone to work
With him away. Well!

[CmABUbR without.] In the Council Chamber?

D'O. All's lost!

Pol. Oh, surely not King Charles I He 's
changed —
That 's not this year's care-burdened voice and

Tis last year's step, the Prince's voice I

D'O. I know.

(Enter Cbaxlb — D*Obiixa retiring a little,)

Cha. Now wish me joy, Polyxena I Wish it

ay! IShe embraces kim.

There was too much cause for that I

The old

But I have found myself again. What
At Turin? Oh, if you but felt the load
I 'm free of ~ free 1 I said this year would

Or it, or me — but I am free, thank God I

Pol. How, Charles?

Cha. Ton do not guess ? The day I found
Sardinia's hideous o(nl, at home, abroad.
And how my father was involved in it, —
Of course, I vowed to rest and smile no more
Until I cleared his name from obloquy.
We did the people right— 't was much to

That point, redress our nobles' grievance, too —
But tnat took place here, was no crying shame :
All must be done abroad, — if I abroad
Appeased the justly-angered Powers, destroyed
The scandal, took down Victor's name at la^
From a bad eminence, I then might breathe
And rest ! No moment was to lose. Behold
The proud result — a Treaty, Austria, Spain
Agree to —

V'O. [Aeide.] I shall merely stipulate
For an experienced headsman.

Cha. Not a soul

Is compromised : the blotted pMt 's a blank :
Even U'Ormea escapes unquestioned. See !
It reached me from Vienna ; I remained
At Evian to dispatch the Count his news ;
'T is sone to Chambery a week afo —
And here am I : do I deserve to feel
Your warm white arms around me ?

lyO. [Cominp forward.] He knows that?

Online LibraryRobert BrowningThe complete poetic and dramatic works of Robert Browning → online text (page 33 of 198)