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Pour'd into kennels by it, and who dares
From whence of late 'twas health to have a beam.
D'Auv. Now none will speak to us, we thrust ourselves
Into men's companies, and offer speech,
As if not made for their diverted ears,
Their backs tnrn'd to us, and their words to others,
And we must like obsequious parasites,
Byr. Is't not an easy loss to lose their looks,
D'Auv. But methinks,
Being courtiers, they should cast best looks on men
Byr. O no, my Lord:
They ne'er dissemble but for some advantage.
It is not without frequent attempts on the part of the King to induce Byron to confess his error, and receive a pardon, that he permits his ministers to proceed to extremities against the unfortunate marshal. Byron however still holds out, and persists in insolently maintaining his innocence, though Henry hints at his having in his possession undeniable proofs of his guilt. The king is represented as much agitated on the subject of the delinquency of his favourite, and its necessary consequences. In one of his solitary reflections on the subject, he gives utterance to these noble and elevated thoughts.
"O thou that govern'st the keen sword of kings,
Or hold it, being advanc'd. The weight of blood,
If he be just and worthy, dwells so dark,
But humour and their lusts! For which alone
"As a bird
Enter'd a closet, which unwares is made
Byron and D'Auvergne are, at length, committed to prison, and the former is afterwards brought to trial. The evidence of his confidential agent, La Fin, is brought against him, and in spite of his passionate defence of himself, and his own belief, he is condemned. From the moment of his committal to prison to that of his death, he behaves like a madman, with comparatively lucid intervals, if, at least, he may not be said to have done so from the opening of the play. In his confinement
he is described:
"As a savage boar, that, hunted long
And when brought to the scaffold, this simile is applied to
VOL. IV. PART II.
Swimming in fire, keeps off the baying hounds,
So fares the furious duke, and, with his looks,
The scenes of his execution are perhaps the best part of the second half of the play. The fierce impatience of the prisoner, his persisting in believing the trial and sentence a trick to frighten him, his constant delay in hopes of "mercy yet," and when he finds he must die, his determining to have a "will" in his death, and die just at the moment he pleases, are all in admirable keeping, and shew his outrageous character in a more natural light, than that in which it had hitherto been exhibited. When the archbishop desires to administer to him religious consolation, he exclaims:
"Let me alone in peace,.
I know this body but a sink of folly,
The groundwork and rais'd frame of woe and frailty;
A quick corpse, only sensible of grief;
A walking sepulchre or household thief;
A slave bound face to face to death, till death ;
Of senseless dreams, terrors, and broken sleeps;
And make man long in dying, racks his death,
Am seated like earth betwixt both the heavens,
I likewise fall to heaven: what stronger faith
Like to a clergyman; but like the captain
Chan. Desire you then
To speak with any man ?
Byr. I would speak with La Force and St. Blancart. Do they fly me!
Where is Prevost, comptroller of my house?
Pra. Gone to his house i'th' country, three days since. Byr. He should have staid here; he keeps all my blanks. O all the world forsakes me! Wretched world, Consisting most of parts, that fly each other; A firmness, breeding all inconstancy;
A bond of all disjunction. Like a man
Why should I keep my soul in this dark light,
Har. My lord, it is the manner once again
Byr. Yet more sentences!
How often will ye make me suffer death,
Chan. It must be read, my lord; no remedy.
As he is proceeding to execution, he says:
"Good sir, I pray
Go after and beseech the Chancellor,
Desc. I go, my lord.
And no man come with comfort! Farewell, world:
Whose ends will make him greatest, and not best.
To every mole-hill; every bank embrace
That checks their currents; and when torrents come,
Vit. My lord, 'tis late; wilt please you to go up?
There should go shouts to upshots. Not a breath
Pral. The executioner, my lord.
Byr. Death, slave, down! or by the blood that moves me I'll pluck thy throat out. Go, I'll call you straight."
The archbishop again exhorts the dying man, now blinded for execution, to turn his thoughts to heaven; but meets with a similar repulse. After which, the duke arranges matters with his executioner, appeals to the soldiery in vain, and then submits to his fate.
"Arch. My lord, now you are blind to this world's sight, Look upwards to a world of endless light.
Byr. Ay, ay, you talk of upward still to others,
Hang. Here, my lord.
Byr. Where's that?
Hang. There, there, my lord.
Byr. And where, slave, is that there?
Hang. Kneel, I beseech your grace,