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Caius. I see it; and I thank thee, courteous friend:
Cit. The same, and still thy friend. Coraggio! (exit.)
Cornelia. Turn, Gracchus, and behold—'midst all the people,
Awake! the hour has come to try thy soul.
Caius. Depart, and fear not.
Feel if it tremble.
Corn. Give me thine hand.
Corn. No-'tis firm, and tells me,
Caius. 'Tis there;
Caius. Licinia, fare thee well! if this embrace
(Cornelia retires supporting Licinia.)
A naked ghost shall rush to thine embrace!
Opimius now enters, preceded by the lictors, and followed by the senators, tribunes and populace. He addresses the people in an harangue of great art and eloquence, and divides them in their opinions. Gracchus, after a short tumult, obtains leave to speak.
Caius. from the tribunal) This is the last time I shall speak to you,
Have on my death resolved. I owe ye thanks,
A murdered brother's ghost will meet me there,
See me all covered with inglorious wounds,
And cry, "What hand hath wrought this shame? from whence
These gory trenches?" And what answer, then,
Shall I return, O Romans? Those same hands,
Will I reply, have me to slaughter dragged,
My tale will run, was by patrician hate
Murdered. I too, for the same crimes condemned,
1, who redeemed the people from the bonds
3d Citizen. Gracchus, take heart. The people is not thus Ungrateful, and none here thinks thee a tyrant.
Speak boldly in your argument, and fear not.
Caius. Here let the oppressor fear. Am I, forsooth,
All power resides.
2d Cit. And in the people
1st Cit. The senate of our will
Is executor, and no more.
Caius. Your foe
Is then declared, who charges as my sin
Three hundred base and hireling senators
Sat in the judgment seat. The strong broke through,
Of law, and poverty became a vice.
I overthrew this venal, odious court,
And thrice a hundred judges, of staunch faith
And all her sacred gods, thou bearest the name
(An old Man.) True; too true,
'Tis dangerous to be warm in virtue's cause.
Surely, some god is reasoning from his lips.
Caius. By the great goodness of the immortal gods, Born in the lap of this fair Italy,
The rights of Roman citizenship I deemed
Redeemed, and made her the world's greatest nation.
Impute to me her rescued liberty?
1st Cit. No; we are all Italians; one sole people, One single family.
People. Italians all,
Old Man. Oh delightful sound! Oh words Noble, divine! these tears for joy o'erflow.
Caius. Oh! now indeed I hear the shouts sublime,
Of Romans worthy; and behold the tears
Worthy of men. But cease your griefs awhile;
On your bowed necks-draw tight your servile bonds,—
You, Romans, you, who 'neath an iron load,
Your lives in Rome's behalf—you, the world's masters,
The common air and light. Along our plains,
Who cry for bread.
Meantime, their banquets high,
Your blood has brought their dazzling palaces,
Sidonian, and their sumptuous carpetings;
Their paintings and their statues ;—in one word,
"Fight for your household gods, your fathers' tombs!"
People, (with a loud shout.) Not one!
Caius. For whom then do ye rush to death?
For whose sake have ye gained those scars, whose large
Through each worn tunic's rents? Oh! let me kiss
Those honourable wounds! Their sight o'erpowers
I thrill with anger, and dissolve in tears.
2d Cit. Poor Caius! see, he weeps-for us he weeps, Magnanimous heart!
A tumult soon ensues; and the lictor Antilius, in endeavouring to drive back the people, is stabbed by Fulvius and his followers. Gracchus throws himself from the tribunal. to save the life of Opimius, and prevent the effusion of more blood. He cites Opimius to appear before the people, on the expiration of his consulship; and persuades the multitude to disperse quietly. Fulvius departs full of vexation, at this unexpected clemency. Opimius, determined on revenge, after giving private orders to one of his creatures, retires followed by the senators.
In the fourth act, as Cornelia is discoursing with Gracchus on the dangerous magnanimity he had just displayed, the forum is surrounded by armed mercenaries, and he finds himself in the power of his enemies. One of the finest scenes in the drama ensues between Cornelia, Gracchus and Licinia, whose pathetic appeals to his conjugal and paternal tenderness
at length overpower her husband's resolution to go forth and confront his enemies, at the certain peril of his life. At this juncture, a citizen enters, and informs Gracchus that a rumour is abroad, implicating him with his sister and Fulvius, in the murder of Emilianus. On hearing this he rushes from the portico. While his wife breaks out into uncontrouled anguish, Cornelia here preserves the firmness and dignity of her character, and her devotion to the glory of her son, though preserved only by a violent death.
Is there on earth a family more wretched,
For such fair names renowned-I who was wooed
The melancholy splendour of my woes.
Two sons I bore for Rome; two noble sons;
To give life to great souls; and those are praised
It better pleases, that my sons should perish
Ah me! what crowd draws nigh? a funeral bier-
Uprear it on their shoulders. How the sight
Freezes my veins. It is dead Scipio's hearse.
My heart fails, and my feet seemed clogged to earth.
Oh impious daughter! what a deed was thine!
Enter Opimius and the Senators, carrying the bier of Æmilianus, Lictors and People.
Opimius. Here, for a while, set down your funeral load.
People, friends, senators, 'tis here we owe
The last sad tribute that the public grief
Of Asia and of Afric; for the arm
Invincible, that made their armies quake,
We, with our tears, demand him back to life.