The Complete Poetical Works of Lord Byron

By George Gordon Byron | Go to book overview
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And freedom to the rest, or leave it black
To all the growing calumnies of time, Which never spare the fame of him who fails, But try the Cæsar, or the Catiline, By the true touchstone of desert -- success.


ACT II

SCENE I

An Apartment in the Ducal Palace.

ANGIOLINA (wife of the DOGE) and MARIANNA.

Ang. What was the Doge's answer?

Mar. That he was That moment summond to a conference; But 't is by this time ended. I perceived Not long ago the senators embarking; And the last gondola may now be seen Gliding into the throng of barks which stud The glittering waters.

Ang. Would he were return'd!
He has been much disquieted of late;
And Time, which has not tamed his fiery spirit,

Nor yet enfeebled even his mortal frame 10
Which seems to be more nourish'd by a soul
So quick and restless that it would consume
Less hardy clay -- Time has but little power
On his resentments or his griefs. Unlike
To other spirits of his order, who,
In the first burst of passion, pour away
Their wrath or sorrow, all things wear in him
An aspect of eternity: his thoughts,
His feelings, passions, good or evil, all
Have nothing of old age; and his bold brow
Bears but the' scars of mind, the thoughts of
years, 21
Not their decrepitude: and he of late
Has been more agitated than his wont.
Would he were come! for I alone have power
Upon his troubled spirit.

Mar. It is true,
His highness has of late been greatly moved
By the affront of Steno, and with cause:
But the offender doubtless even now
Is doom'd to expiate his rash insult with
Such chastisement as will enforce respect

To female virtue, and to noble blood. 31

Ang. 'T was a gross insult; but I heed it not
For the rash seorner's falsehood in itself, But for the effect, the deadly deep impres-sion
Which it has made upon Faliero's soul, The proud, the fiery, the austere -- austere To all save me: I tremble when I think To what it may conduct.

Mar. Assuredly The Doge cannot suspect you?

Ang. Suspect me
Why Steno dared not: when he scrawl'd his

lie, 40
Grovelling. by stealth in the moon's glim-mering light,
His own still conscience smote him for the act,
And every shadow on the walls frownd shame
Upon his coward calumny.

Mar. 'T were fit He should be punish'd grievously.

Ang. He is so.

Mar. What! is the sentence pass'd? is he condemn'd?

Ang. I know not that, but he has been detected.

Mar. And deem you this enough for such foul scorn?

Ang. I would not be a judge in my own cause,
Nor do I know what sense of punishment
May reach the soul of ribalds such as

Steno; 51
But if his insults sink no deeper in
The minds of the inquisitors than they
Have ruffled mine, he will, for all acquit-tance,
Be left to his own shamelessness or shame.

Mar. Some sacrifice is due to slander'd virtue.

Ang. Why, what is virtue if it needs a victim?
Or if it must depend upon men's words?
The dying Roman said, ''t was but a name:'

It were indeed no more, if human breath 60
Could make or mar it.

Mar. Yet full many a dame, Stainless and faithful, would feel all the wrong
Of such a slander; and less rigid ladies, Such as abound in Venice, would be loud And all-inexorable in their cry For justice.

Ang. This but proves it is the name And not the quality they prize: the first Have found it a hard task to hold their honour,
If they require it to be blazon'd forth;

-509-

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