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And this I sue for; nor shall frowns and taunts,
(The common scarecrows of all good men's suits,)
Nor misconstruction, that doth colour still
Licentiate justice, punishing good for ill,
Keep my free throat from knocking at the sky,
If thunder chid me from my equity.
Hen. Thy equity is to be ever banish'd
From court, and all society of noblesse,
Amongst whom thou throw'st balls of all dissension.
Thou art at peace with nothing but with war;
Hast no heart but to hurt, and eat’st thy heart
If it but think of doing any good :
Thou witchest with thy smiles; suck'st blood with
Mock’st all humanity ; society poison’st ;
Cozen’st with virtue: with religion
Betray'st and massacre'st; so vile thyself,
That thou suspect'st perfection in others :
A man must think of all the villanies
He knows in all men to decipher thee,
That art the centre to impiety,
Away, and tempt me not.
Laf. But you tempt me,
To what, thou Sun be judge, and make him see.
“ At the time of the Duke of Savoy's arrival, Byron is ambassador at the court of the archduke, where attempts are also made to draw him from his allegiance. The character of Byron is conceived with great strength and animation. He is represented as bold in the field, boastful, filled with a proud conceit of his own merits, and weakly addicted to flattery, which his enemies know how to manage. On his embassy, he is approached with
the must profound but artful respect, and is thus ushered in to the sound of music :"
“Byr. What place is this, what air, what region,
In which a man may hear the harmony
Of all things moving? Hymen marries here
Their ends and uses, and makes me his temple.
Hath any man been blessed and yet lived ?
The blood turns in my veins; I stand on change,
And shall dissolve in changing ; 'tis so full
Of pleasure, not to be contained in flesh;
To fear a violent good, abuseth goodness ;
'Tis immortality to die aspiring,
As if a man were taken quick to heaven:
What will not hold perfection, let it burst:
What force hath any cannon, not being charged,
Or being not discharged ? To have stuff and form,
And to lie idle, fearful, and unused,
Nor form, nor stuff shews. Happy Semele,
That died comprest with glory. Happiness
Denies comparison, of less, or more,
And not at most, is nothing.–Like the shaft,
Shot at the sun by angry Hercules,
And into shivers by the thunder broken,
Will I be if I burst: and in my heart
This shall be written, yet 'twas high and right.
Here too! they follow all my steps with music,
As if my feet were numerous, and trod sounds
Out of the centre, with Apollo's virtue,
That out of every thing his each part touch'd
Struck musical accents. Wheresoe'er I go
They hide the earth from me with coverings rich,
To make me think that I am here in heaven.”
66 The duke, however, does not immediately fall
into the designs of the enemies of his master, but replies to the incitements of one of their agents”—
“ Byr. O 'tis a dangerous and a dreadful thing To steal prey from a lion, or to hide A head distrustful in his open'd jaws; To trust our blood in others' veins, and hang 'Twixt heaven and earth in vapours of their breaths : To leave a sure space on continuate earth, And force a gate in jumps from tower to tower, As they do that aspire from height to height. The bounds of loyalty are made of glass, Soon broke, but can in no date be repair'd; And as the Duke D’Aumall (now here in court) Flying his country, had his statue torn Piecemeal with horses; all his goods confiscate ; His arms of honour kick'd about the streets; His goodly house at Annet razed to th' earth ; And, for a strange reproach to his foul treason, His trees about it cut off by their waists; So, when men fly the natural clime of truth, And turn themselves loose, out of all the bounds Of justice, and the straightway to their ends, Forsaking all the sure force in themselves, To seek, without them, that which is not theirs, The forms of all their comforts are distracted ; The riches of their freedoms forfeited; Their human noblesse shamed; the mansions Of their cold spirits eaten down with cares, And all their ornaments of wit and valour, Learning and judgment, cut from all their fruits.”
“ Lafin, being brought over by the Duke of Savoy, is made the means of seducing Byron. He commences his operations by throwing himself in the duke's way, in a pretended fit of furious indig
nation. Lafin, it will be observed, hints at the skill in magic which he was supposed to possess, and the duke supposed to believe in.”
“ Byr. Here is the man. My honour'd friend, Lafin, Alone and heavy-count'nanced! On what terms Stood th' insultation of the king upon you ?
Laf. Why do you ask ?
Byr. Since I would know the truth.
Laf. And when you know it, what?
Byr. I'll judge betwixt you,
And, as I may, make even th' excess of either.
Laf. Alas, my lord, not all your loyalty,
Which is in you more than hereditary,
Nor all your valour, which is more than human,
Can do the service you may hope on me,
In sounding my displeased integrity.
Stand for the king, as much in policy
As you have stirr'd for him in deeds of arms,
And make yourself his glory, and your country's,
Till you be suck'd as dry, and wrought as lean
As my flay'd carcass : you shall never close
With me as you imagine.
Byr. You much wrong me
To think me an intelligencing lord.
Laf. I know not how your so affected zeal
To be reputed a true-hearted subject
May stretch or turn you. I am desperate;
If I offend you, I am in your power :
I care not how I tempt your conq'ring fury;
I am predestined to too base an end.
To have the honour of your wrath destroy me,
And be a worthy object for your sword.
I lay my hand, and head too, at your feet,
As I have ever; here I hold it still :
End me directly, do not go about.
Byr. How strange is this ! The shame of his disgrace Hath made him lunatick.
Laf. Since the king hath wrong'd me, He thinks I'll hurt myself: no, no, my lord ; I know that all the kings in Christendom, If they should join in my revenge, would prove Weak foes to him, still having you to friend. If you were gone (I care not if you tell him) I might be tempted then to right myself. [Exit.
Byr. He has a will to me, and dares not shew it: His state decay'd, and he disgraced, distracts him.
Laf. Change not my words, my lord. I only said
I might be tempted then to right myself-
Temptation to treason is no treason;
And that word “tempted” was conditional too,
If you were gone. I pray inform the truth.
Byr. Stay, injured man, and know I am your friend.
Far from these base and mercenary reaches
I am, I swear to you.
Laf. You may be so;
And yet you'll give me leave to be Lafin,
A poor and expuate humour of the court :
But what good blood came out with me; what veins
And sinews of the triumphs now it makes,
I list not vaunt; yet will I now confess,
And dare assume it, I have power to add
To all his greatness, and make yet more fix'd
His bold security. Tell him this, my lord ;
And this (if all the spirits of earth and air
Be able to enforce) I can make good.
If knowledge of the sure events of things,
Even from the rise of subjects into kings,
And falls of kings to subjects, hold a power
Of strength to work it, I can make it good.