The Days of Yore: A DRAMA IN THREE ACTS. PERFORMED AT THE THEATRE-ROYAL, COVENT-GARDEN.

BY RICHARD CUMBERLAND, ESQ.

DUBLIN: PRINTED FOR P. WOGAN, P. BYRNE, W. JONES, J. RICE, J. MILLIKEN, AND G. FOLINGSBY. 1796.

PROLOGUE.

Spoken by Mr. TOMS.
THIS night the Muse devotes to Days of Yore,
When the fierce Dane insulted England's shore;
She, hapless isle, in the wild tempest tost,
Saw all but her inherent courage lost;
Like some stout ship, which, sinking to her grave,
Surveys what none but British hearts can brave,
Death in a thousand shapes of horror drest,
Night without stars, and billows without rest;
When some bold voice, loud as the roaring sea,
Cries out—"All hands! the port is in our lea!"
Instant they rouse—brace up the swelling sail,
She rights, she lifts, she rides before the gale;
Then safe in port the joyous glass goes round,
And all past sorrows in that glass are drown'd.
So in the night of England's deep despair,
Great Alfred, issuing from his secret lair,
Rose like a meteor—The glad nation heard
His glorious call; and this was Alfred's word—
"Fight, fight! or perish in your country's cause,
"Stand for your king, your liberties, your laws:
"'Tis Alfred leads you on—his heart is true,
"And he, for whom your bleed, shall bleed for you!"
Sons of that gallant race, to you we give
These pictur'd scenes, in which your fathers live;
View them with candor, give the sketch some praise,
Which features out the chiefs of ancient days
And recollect whatever here is shewn,
Their cause, their courage, both are now your own:
They met the fierce invader at their doors,
No foes but captive foes invade your shores;
Their wives, their daughters, fill'd the air with cries,
To your kind land the helpless sufferer flies;
Blest in a king, mild, merciful, and good,
Firm in allegiance to that king they stood,
When they saw death, disease, or danger near,
All, all was terror for a life so dear.
These are the scenes our drama sets to view—
The moral of that fable rests with you.

Dramatis Personae.

  • ALFRED, King of England
    Mr. Middleton.
    ODDUNE, Earl of Devonshire
    Mr. Harley.
    ALRIC, Earl of Northumberland
    Mr. Toms.
    GOTHRUN, a Danish Chief
    Mr. Richardson.
    VOLTIMAR, Son of Hastings, the Dane,
    Mr. Pope.
    LOTHAIRE, a Page
    Mrs. Clendining.
    MOLLO, Steward to Earl Oddune
    Mr. Thompson.
    Lords attending upon Alfred.
    SIBALD
    Mr. M'Cready.
    EGBERT Lords attending upon Alfred.
    Mr. Claremont.
    REDWALD Lords attending upon Alfred.
    Mr. Davenport.
    SWITHUN Lords attending upon Alfred.
    Mr. Blurton.
    ROGER DE MALVERN Lords attending upon Alfred.
    Mr. Hull.
    Messenger
    Mr. Williamson.
    DANE
    Mr. Abbot.
  • OSWENA, Widow of Hastings
    Miss Morris.
    ADELA, Daughter of Oddune
    Mrs. Pope.
  • Danes, Minstrels, Wardours of the Castle, Servants, &c.

SCENE. (Kenwith Castle, and the Country adjoining.)

[Page]THE The Days of Yore: A DRAMA IN THREE ACTS.

ACT I.

(A wild and rugged Scene on the Western Coast of England, with a distant View of the Sea.
OSWENA; GOTHRUN.
OSWENA.

WHY do you follow me? I'll go no fur­ther.

Goth.

I am your countryman, a vanquisht Dane.

Osw.

Speak your necessities; is it for food or rest, or shelter from pursuit of the victorious foe, that you wou'd importune me?

Goth.

I need them all, yet ask for nothing but your patient hearing.

Osw.

Speak then, and to the point—be brief.

Goth.

It suits me so to be, for I am spent with [Page 2] toil, and sorely bruis'd in fight under the walls of Exeter.

Osw.

'Twas a disastrous day—

Goth.

A fatal one for Denmark—what thou­sands fell in battle, how many of your wretched countrymen were slaughter'd in pursuit, or pe­rish'd in the sea, to which they fled, were hor­rible to tell. All, all is lost—Alfred, invincible in arms, reigns in his people's hearts, for virtue and for valour worthily (of force I must confess it) surnam'd the Great.

Osw.

If this be all, farewell!

Goth.

Nay, lady, hear me out.

Osw.

Have I not heard enough? Well may our cause be lost when we have lost our courage. We have lived in England till we are become fat as the soil, and foggy as the climate: It is our meanness that makes Alfred great. There was a Dane that made that great one tremble—Knew you not Hastings?

Goth.

I knew him well, and honor those who lov'd him; most of all the illustrious Oswena—

Osw.

Hah! do you know me?

Goth.

I know you for the widow of my chief—a noble gem hid in a barbarous soil.

Osw.

Why then do you expose me to discove­ry?—Who and what are you?

Goth.

Gothrun the Dane—dishonour never yet was coupled to that name.

Osw.

No, nor defeat till now; well may we say Alfred is great, when he has conquer'd Goth­run.

Goth.

He is unassailable by open war; all Eng­land is his garrison; but tho' we cannot face him in the field, we may yet foil him by surprize and stratagem—'Tis not the warrior's process, I con­fess; yet when all nobler means are out of reach, [Page 3] hope lost, his soldiers spirits sunk, his conqueror triumphant, and his own life at risque, nature will rouse him, in mere self-defence, to deal the avenging stroke.

Osw.

Strike then, and vindicate your coun­try's cause—But what can I do, living here by sufferance under the watchful eye of the Earl Oddune, whose proud castle overpeers my hum­ble cottage, and keeps all around him in terror and subjection?

Goth.

You have a son—revenge is his inheri­tance.

Osw.

I have a son—but such a son, alas! as cannot be inspir'd with any noble passion; least of all with ambition or revenge: His mind is like a tuneless instrument, unstrung, and not to be provok'd by any touch, even of a master's hand.

Goth.

Unhappy tidings! if the son of Has­tings and Oswena so degenerates, what hope is left? May I not see your son?

Osw.

It were a spectacle to wound the heart of any loyal Dane: Whether his spirit is debas'd by spells and filtres (for rumor speaks of such) or that his father's death has plung'd him into grief, enervating his faculties, I cannot say; but all the noble promise of his youth, like blossoms scat­ter'd by the eastern blight, is wither'd and de­cay'd.

Goth.

No more; we are observ'd—some one approaches, whose noble carriage ill accords with the mean garb he wears.

Osw.

It is my son—'tis Voltimar himself—Oh! that a shrine so rich shou'd encase nought but beggary!

[Page 4](VOLTIMAR enters.)

How now! whence come you?

Volt.

From the sea I come: I have brought fish to feed you: I angled for them rarely.

Osw.

They were but foolish things, to be tre­pann'd by such a witless angler.

Volt.

They are Alfred's fish; land, sea, and air are Alfred's. Good chance but I am questi­on'd for conspiring the death of Alfred's sub­jects.

Goth.

There's matter in that mind, altho' de­rang'd.

Volt.

This man's a Dane; I know it by his locks, they are yellow like my father's; his were a shade betwixt the butter-flower and marygold, but they are paler since his death; grisly and pale, a sad, sad spectacle.—There was blood upon his beard, when I saw him yester-night, as I came home by moonlight from the beach. He nodded to me thrice, and graciously, as he passed on; but I was scar'd, and what small wits I have wou'd not stay by me;—so he did not speak—was not that pitiful?

Osw.

Oh, that I had been with you?

Volt.

Oh that you had! your senses are entire; mine are—alas, alas! where are they?

Osw.

Come, come, be pacified—another night I will go with you to the spot he visits.

Goth.

Do you believe this vision?

Osw.

Three several times within these few days past he has repeated the same tale.

Volt.

I have, I have: three times, you are right; and eight days are gone by; I notch'd them on my staff. I can count ten, and there my learning stops.

Goth.
[Page 5]

This is most marvellous; his eye is steady, his demeanor grave, and, tho' his thoughts are wild, yet are they utter'd firmly, and in lan­guage apposite: I can discern no outward symp­toms of an unfound mind.

Volt.

Go, get you gone! why do you peer at me, and listen to my talk? I am for Alfred, I; you are a naughty Dane, such are not to be suf­fer'd: hence, away with you!

Goth.

Wou'd you drive me away, being a friend and countryman?

Volt.

I keep the seas for Alfred; I pay him tribute of the spoil I take; and when I flesh my hook I do pronounce his name three times for luck, and then the silly fry come to the bait re­ligiously, and I catch them—Oh! 'tis brave sport—I'll go again to-night, and if I meet my father on the beach, so you will watch, good mother, I will call to you—Good bye to you!

Osw.

Stay, Voltimar, I've a thing to say to you—

Volt.

No, no, no; send hence that ugly man; he means no good—I will not fight against the king, not I—besides, the sun is up, and then I sleep till he reels home to bed like a hot fleckor'd reveller as he is. The moon, the moon's my mistress; when she's up, then I come out and prowl upon the shore to plant my ozier traps un­der the rocks, or fix my baited trimmers in the sand, when the ebb leaves it dry.

Osw.

Have you no feeling for your country's fate? Stay, and this warrior will describe the battle.

Volt.

Let him not tell me what I saw myself. Twelve miles upon the stretch I ran to Haldown hill, that overlooks the field; the roebuck or the hart cannot outstrip me on the level plain. I saw [Page 6] the Danish host scattered like sheep. By sea, earth, air, and fire! if I were other than the the thing I am, I could have told them where to plant a blow in Alfred's battle, that had made it reel.

Goth.

I wou'd this sword was planted in his heart?

Volt.

You are not wise, to talk thus to a fool.—Go, go, begone! Mother, that yellow Dane will be your ruin—trust him not. Farewell.

[Exit.
Goth.

I'm cast into astonishment, and can form no conjecture of his mind; whether this spectre has disturb'd his reason, or that he feigns infanity for purposes conceal'd and secret, is not for me to say; but this I boldly will aver, his name alone will be a tower of strength, and his import­ant presence the sure rallying point for all our scatter'd powers, if by persuasion you can draw him forth.

Osw.

Gothrun, be sure my heart is with your cause, and pants for vengeance: shew me but the form and shape of any hopeful enterprize, and Voltimar, if words of mine can move him, shall be your's. Come then with me—rest and re­freshment my poor cottage can still afford; there we'll consult together.

[Exeunt.
(Scene changes to Kenwith Castle, belonging to ODDUNE, Earl of Devonshire.)
(Earl ODDUNE and MOLLO.)
Oddune.

Mollo!

Mollo.

My Lord!

Oddune.
[Page 7]

Are we provided for to-morrow's festival? This glorious victory of our King at Exeter, together with the celebration of our daughter's nuptials, will demand ample largess for our vassals: I am not one that pamper the rich guest, and leave the poor unfed.

Mollo.

Most puissant earl, your careful pur­veyor hath spar'd no pains to make provision for an entertainment worthy the princely giver, on a day of so much joy and triumph. If Kenwith Castle does not blaze to-morrow, let Mollo bear the blame: your larders do not own one idle hook, your cellars not one empty cask, and your slaugh­ter-houses stream with the blood of beeves, that makes our river's tide run purple to the sea.

Oddune.

So your execution does but keep pace with your eloquence, all will be well. Have you bespoke the minstrels?

Mollo.

They are forewarn'd, noble sir: there will be harpers, pipers, and anticks from all parts, with masques and interludes not void of fancy, tho' I say it: 'twill be a glorious wassail.

Oddune.

Is Voltimar amongst them? If you have not secur'd that fool of noble quality, the lady Adela, who listens to his harp with such de­light, will think your choir imperfect.

Mollo.

I have retain'd the fool; and that his memory might take some root, I laid him under orders lustily with a good oaken cudgel.

Oddune.

Hah! you did so? 'twas an irreve­rend cudgel, that smote the son of Hastings: his brave father, who kept our royal Alfred pent in the neatherd's cottage, would not have let even your words cudgel his ears unpunish'd.

Mollo.

'Tis a mere dolt, my lord, sluggish, and only to be taught by blows.

Oddune.
[Page 8]

Spare your instruction then, and what his nature will not apprehend with ease, forbear to enforce with cruelty; when he presents him­self, as is his daily duty, at the castle, set him before me.—Go, observe my orders.—Adela ap­proaches.

[Exit MOLLO.
(ADELA enters.)
Adela.

Health and a happy morning to my fa­ther.

Oddune.

Bless you, my child! and may to­morrow's fun rise with peculiar lustre, to bedeck the fairest bride that England's isle can boast.

Adela.

Ah, sir! to-morrow? did you say to­morrow?

Oddune.

Can happiness, my child, come out of time? For whom but you, my darling, and your betroth'd, the noble Alric of Northumber­berland, are we thus busied, watching every hour, nay, every minute, such is our impatience, till those, whom we have station'd in our castle's towers, give signal of his coming?

Adela.

Call it a knell, that warns me from the arms of a fond fostering parent, to receive a husband, perhaps a tyrant, whom I cannot love.

Oddune.

How, Adela! you cannot love a man, not less distinguish'd for a noble nature than for illustrious birth, graceful in person, courteous in his manners, and, which confirms his merit, high in the favor of our virtuous king?

Adela.

I wou'd the king had favor'd him so highly, as to have rais'd his thoughts to loftier objects than the poor humble Adela.

Oddune.
[Page 9]

What would you mean by those cold freezing terms? When my heart glows with joy, why do you chill it? am I not pledg'd to Alric? are not you? Have you forgot the sacred sense of honour? Do you not reverence truth, and me your father? Do you not love me, Adela?

Adela.

Oh! with the truest heart I reverence you, love you, and obey—only in this let me not offend my father—if, whilst I submit, I tremble.

(MOLLO enters.)
Mollo.

My lord, the foolish Voltimar is come.

Adela.

Better be foolish, Mollo, than unmerci­ful; I hear sad tales of you; is it a manly act to strike a harmless unresisting creature?

Oddune.

I have reprov'd him for it.

Adela.

I thank you, sir; it well becomes a hero.

Oddune.

Go, tell the Dane that we wou'd see see him here—tell it respectfully, as to the son of one who aw'd this island, at whose frown you wou'd have cower'd into the dust with terror—and recollect, that when you call him foolish, you give yourself the worst of titles; for to strike a fool, like insult to a woman, what is it but to stamp yourself a coward?

[Exit MOLLO.
Adela.

I thank you from my soul.

Oddune.

Well, well! you have an interest in that soul, sad though you have made it. I will be a friend to this poor youth for your sake; none shall hurt him, when you are far away, and he has lost his gentle patroness.

Adela.

Oh! that is kind indeed, most kind and charitable; he will have need of comfort.

[Page 10](VOLTIMAR appears, ushered in by MOLLO, who bows, and retires.)
Oddune.

Now, Voltimar, what news?

Volt.

Good news, great sir; your steward is grown courteous, and forbears to scoff and strike me.—Save you, sweet rose! the dew of heaven fall on you!

Oddune.

Love you our gentle daughter, my good fellow?

Volt.

I wou'd, most noble sir, did I know what love is; if it resembles weeping, I do that when she looks sad and sorrowful as now.

Adela.

Nay, Voltimar, I am not sad, except to hear that Mollo is so harsh.

Volt.

Pray be not sad for me; hereafter I will laugh when Mollo beats me, as I did once to see a scurvy ass kick at the thunder; the thunder did not heed the foolish insult; for 'twas an ass that kick'd, and the clouds were too high to be injur'd by his heels.

Oddune.

Talk thus, and you shall no more be called the foolish Voltimar, but Voltimar the phi­losopher.

Volt.

If I outlive to-morrow, I shall merit it.

(Aside.
Oddune.

What say you of to-morrow? speak out, I heard it not.

Volt.

I say to-morrow will be one day more than I have yet outliv'd.

Oddune.

Aye, and the happiest you have seen, we'll hope; therefore array yourself in your best trim, and screw your harp up to its sprightliest pitch, for we shall need your minstrelsy.

Volt.

My harp and I have quarrel'd, and are parted.

Oddune.
[Page 11]

What do you mean? Explain your­self.

Volt.

There came your servant, Mollo, high in glee, and warn'd me to attend the wedding-day of this your beauteous daughter with Earl Alric—I was to harp, forsooth, in his Northumbrian ears.—This summons did not please me—Was I Earl Alric's harper, I demanded?—At this your servant grew in wrath, and with his staff smote me upon the head.

Adela.

Impudent varlet, he deserves the death.

Volt.

The sun was then just glittering o'er the waves, and I was sitting on the sea-beat rock, greeting his rising beams with such poor min­strelsy and humble oraisons as my small art cou'd furnish: stunn'd with the stroke, and somewhat angry to be so saluted, I took my harp, and in a thoughtless moment dash'd it from off the rock, with all my might, into the waste of waters—The tuneful victim gave one dying groan, and burst asunder; never again will it discourse sweet music; the ebbing tide wafted the shiver'd frag­ments out of sight.

Oddune.

'Twas a rash act; and had you not defect of reason for your plea, you shou'd be chidden for it—but we'll provide you with ano­ther harp.

Volt.

I cannot play; my soul is out of tune: if I shou'd touch the string, it wou'd not speak.

Adela.

Urge him no further; let his humour pass.

Oddune.

We do not yield to such a stubborn humour; let come what will, he shall perform to-morrow.

Volt.

I cannot harp to Alric, and I will not.

Oddune.

What! not if Adela requires it of you?

Volt.
[Page 12]

She is too merciful; she'll not require it.

Oddune.

But what if I command it?

Volt.

Oh! then I'll play most lustily to Alric, as I did once at Bamflete fight; the tune has slipt me, but his better recollection will bring it to my mind.

Oddune.

What do you mean? Was you in Bamflete fight?

Volt.

I think I was, but I know nothing right­ly: I am a fool with a most witty memory; all things fall from it—even my own miseries.

(He retires to the back scene.
Adela.

Sure you forget his father fell at Bam­flete. Lo! how he's rapt!

Oddune.

Shame on me, I forgot it—True, most true; 'twas there the mighty Hastings fell: I was not in the battle. I'm sorry at my heart to have disturb'd him: I see the filial feelings are alive, weak as his reason is: go, go, and comfort him.

Adela.

Oh! that I could—going, but stops short.

(Bugle sounds.
Oddune.

Hark! what is that? the warden on the tower gives the alarm! By all my hopes, Lord Alric is arriv'd!

Volt.

Hah! Alric—

Adela.

Peace! are you mad thus to betray yourself?

Volt.

Down, down, my heart!

(One of Earl ODDUNE's Men enters.)
Oddune.

Speak! is the Earl arriv'd?

Serv.

My lord, it is a courier from the King.

Oddune.

Hah! say'st thou? What does his dispatch import?

Serv.
[Page 13]

Alfred the Great, having dispers'd his foes, and rais'd the siege of Exeter, has put his army into march, and purposes this night to be your lordship's guest at Kenwith Castle.

Oddune.

Alfred my guest!—his kingly purpose is most kind and gracious.—Now, Adela, your king, who is his people's father, will be your's, and join your hand to Alric's—I will forth, and welcome these glad tidings.

(Exit attended.
VOLTIMAR and ADELA.
Volt.

So! this concludes my destiny.—Alric is fortune's minion; I a poor beaten slave.

Adela.

Think what I sufFer; agonize me not with your complainings—above all things, Vol­timar, I do conjure you, by the love you bear me, do not alarm my father. Words cannot de­scribe what terrors I endur'd whilst you spoke so unguarded.

Volt.

Who can be calm at such a moment? To you alone the secret is confided that I have feign'd this folly: I need not feign henceforth—when you are Alric's bride I shall be nature's scorn, that wretched thing, whose reason grief hath wreck'd.

Adela.

How terrible is that thought! the bride of Alric?—No, my heart revolts! How can my father so approve and favor that cold, ob­scure, impenetrable man, whose mind is black as night, his thoughts perplext and absent, and whose conscience seems ever to upbraid him, whilst he professes what he does not feel.

Volt.

I know Lord Alric; but for my weak nature, this fate had ne'er befallen you.—When my brave father drew his battle forth at Bamflete [Page 14] trenches, I fought beside him, where it was my chance to encounter this same Alric, and unhorse him; I had him then at my sword's point, de­fenceless, prostrate—Pity smote my heart, his youth, his cries, his wounded helpless state plead­ed for life; I check'd the mortal stroke, and for that act of mercy am repaid with misery worse than death.—And does your father think that I play the antick, and pipe to my own prisoner—will I'll perish first.

Adela.

It shall not be required.—Oh! Volti­mar, if you cou'd see my heart—

Volt.

I shou'd behold the victim of obedience; I shou'd then see the very shrine of virtue wit­ness the struggles of a pure affection, opprest and thwarted by paternal power; I shou'd con­template all that can inspire me with love, and animate me with courage to brave all dangers, even death itself, rather than tamely yield you to Lord Alric.

Adela.

Ah Voltimar, I fear my doom is seal'd, Lord Alric's high nobility—

Volt.

The worms had fed on his nobility, but for my mercy—

Adela.

My father's will—the king's authority—

Volt.

Is your father's will irrevocable? is not your king compassionate? In short, is any thing impossible to love ardent as mine, and a soul re­solute to attempt your rescue?

Adela.

You terrify me: what do you intend?

Volt.

When Hastings lived, Alfred (tho' now surnam'd the Great) was but the second man in England—the son of Hastings, vanquish'd and a prisoner, depress'd by fortune and reduc'd to as­sume a counterfeited weakness, is not so degene­rate as to submit tamely without a struggle to a [Page 15] rival, in arms less than his equal, in nobility not greater.

Adela.

Break off! we are observ'd.

(A Servant enters.)
Serv.

Lady, the Earl demands your instant pre­sence.

Adela.

The Earl shall be obeyed—I will but drop a word with this poor ignorant, and follow you—

(Exit Servant.

Hear me, and make no answer, or speak soft­ly; you know my window in the eastern tower, underneath which you have so often harp'd—be there at evening-fall, in the still hour.—I read your answer in your eyes—Be cautious! not a word more.—Well, if it must be so, there is my hand!—now be content, release me.—Farewell!

[Exit VOLTIMAR.
END OF ACT I.

ACT II.

(An Apartment in the House of OSWENA.)
OSWENA and LOTHAIRE.
OSWENA.

COME hither, Lothaire! I've a word in secret for you—You lov'd your noble mas­ter, and you will be faithful to his sad widow, though times are chang'd, and you no longer are the fine gay page that follow'd the Lord Hast­ings, when he held his court in splendor, and gave law to England.

Loth.

I have been faithful ever, and I will be.

Osw.

That's my good lad—Now mark me!—here are Danes scatter'd about, the reliques of the fight at Exeter, who wou'd do noble service, if we cou'd persuade my son to be amongst them: I have urg'd him to it, every means I have tried to stir his stagnant spirit; a cause methinks like our's might move the very stones to rise and cry for vengeance.

Loth.

He fought courageously at Bamflete trenches.

Osw.

And sometimes I incline to hope courage so natural to him, will awake from sleep, and reassume its energy. I noted his emotions as I talk'd, and tho' he answer'd not, his eyes shot fire, his colour came and went, and I do think the senses that shou'd quicken him afresh, were [Page 17] in commotion—You can do much, Lothaire, for you are in his heart; me he regards with caution and reserve.

Loth.

Ah, Madam! if I have any interest in his heart, 'tis simply that of pity and benevo­lence; on matters of such moment as you hint at, I dare not move him, for since this malady has hung upon him, he will not suffer me to speak of Denmark; nay, hardly will endure a Dane to approach him.

Osw.

'Tis true; and sometimes I suspect he feigns this humor, only to avoid their importu­nities.

Loth.

I cannot tell, but certain it is he has kept all quiet in these purlieus, where none will stir but at his bidding. With me, altho' he passes many hours, he talks but little; fishing is his sport, watching his baits by night upon the beach, a pensive occupation; sometimes indeed he touch­es his harp, and then I sing to him.

Osw.

Cou'd you not introduce the madrigal I late gave you, which touches on his malady?

Loth.

I am prepar'd with it, and only wait his call to sing it to him—and see he comes.

Osw.

I'll leave you—Oh! Lothaire, rouse him, redeem him, save him if you can.

[Exit.
VOLTIMAR and LOTHAIRE.
Loth.

Bless you, my gentle master!

Volt.

Bless you, bless you!

Loth.

I'm proud to see you in your best attire.

Volt.

'Tis a proud day, Lothaire; Kings are abroad: The sun himself is in his best attire, and so am I.

Loth.
[Page 18]

It well becomes you: You now shew as the son of Hastings should.

Volt.

The son of Hastings should be what he is not; he should be braver than to take a blow from a base menial groom, nobler than to beat the strings of a poor trembling harp to pleasure the proud ears of young Northumberland.—I harp to him! his heart-strings shall make music with my sword or ere I'll harp to him. Mark me, Lothaire! my folly is not constant.

Loth.

Wou'd Heaven that it were pass'd and gone for ever.

Volt.

Madmen have intervals of sober reason; fools have the gleamings of a mind at times. Now if you say this to my mother, Lothaire, you are no friend of mine—for she is mad without the loss of reason.—Answer me this—what is the best device to remedy a sick mind?

Loth.

I know no other remedy but patience.

Volt.

You might as well say to the bed-rid wretch—rise and be well at once. You have forgot your lesson; 'twas not this that my re­vengeful mother bade you say—she would pre­scribe rebellion, blood and plunder; those are her Danish drugs; but I'll not taste them.—Give me the softening, the assuaging powers, music and meditation.

Loth.

Shall I fetch your harp?

Volt.

Not for the world; I love you much too well, to send you on that errand; my harp is wreck'd at sea—but I'll sit down, and you shall sing to me.

Loth.

I have a song; the words are new, the strain familiar, and by your favorite minstrel old Llewellyn; I caught it from your harp.

Volt.

'Tis well, his plaintive melody delights me most.

Loth.

You may suppose it address'd to some warrior, who being lost to his country, and bu­ried [Page 19] in profound melancholy, the poet strives to rouse him by the following strain:

"Where is that tow'ring spirit fled
"Which zeal heroic fir'd?
"Is that creative genius dead
"Which every muse inspir'd?
"Is it in grief's o'erwhelming tide
"That ardent fire was lost?
"Or have those senses turn'd aside,
"In love severely crost?
"Come then, sweet sounds, for you alone
"Can bid the tumult cease,
"Restore his reason to its throne,
"His bosom to its peace.
"The turbid passions shall retire
"Before the minstrel's art,
"And the same hand that sweeps the lyre
"Shall heal the stricken heart."
Volt.

Enough, Lothaire! If this will not ex­ercise the foul spirit, it is because he has no ear for melody—And now retire; you have done your part, and whether I redeem my mind, which you think lost, or perish in my folly, you are clear in your allegiance, and the ever-faithful servant of the noble Hastings has proved himself the zealous friend of his ignoble son. Leave me without more words—I have some thoughts abroad which I wou'd fain call home.

Loth.

I'll not disturb your thoughts—farewell.

[Exit LOTHAIRE.
[Page 20](VOLTIMAR alone.)

Oh England! generous but hostile country, how would'st thou tremble didst thou know this arm cou'd make thee kingless ere to-morrow! I have the death of Hastings at my heart—but I'll not strike so deep; revenge so terrible I will not take—Rest, rest, poor land! Denmark hath drank too largely of thy blood.—Spirit of my il­lustrious father, if thou it is that visitest me night­ly, foster these meditations!—

(OSWENA and GOTHRUN enter.)
Osw.

Lo, where he sits! Let us pursue our talk without regarding him.—If Alfred's armies are so far advanc'd, he leaves the country betwixt them and Exeter open to an attack.

Volt.

Aye, aye, more blood—she lives upon the scent.

(aside.)
Osw.

What force could you collect on an emergency, and where is it dispos'd?

Goth.

Of those who surviv'd the slaughter, a remnant sav'd themselves on board the ships then hovering on the coast. These are entire, and though our thousands are diminish'd to hundreds, yet I cou'd disembark a force sufficient for any sudden enterprize, if such presented itself; if not, I shall go off to them, and sail for Den­mark.

Volt.

Sail then, and leave this island to its peace!

[He rises, and comes forward.
Osw.

Peace to your folly, mean degenerate Dane!

Volt.

Who talks of folly? If I have assum'd this weakness, thinking it less shame to seem the fool of nature than be the slave of man, it is be­cause I have a spirit indignant of subjection; and [Page 21] you, who think me mean and degenerate, are in an error.

Osw.

Convict me of that error, and stand forth for Denmark.

Volt.

Away! I have a better cause than to lay waste with fire and sword defenceless villages.—Accursed warfare! worthy only of savages, not soldiers.

Goth.

Give us to know your cause, and we'll support it.

Volt.

Gothrun, you thirst for blood, so do not I—You said, when last we met, you wish'd your sword was buried in the heart of Alfred. Had I met Alfred fairly in the fight, where he dealt slaughter round him, I wou'd have prov'd the temper of my sword upon his mailed corslet; but had I struck him down, as I did Alric of Northumberland, I wou'd have scorn'd to stab a fallen foe; and when his valor was no longer ter­rible, I wou'd have reverenc'd his virtues, and have spar'd him.

Osw.

Remember we are prisoners of Earl Od­dune; and chains, how light soever they may be, are still inglorious—Remember too, that the lost standard of your country, the magic Raefen, the proudest trophy England has to boast, floats in Earl Oddune's hall.

Volt.

Enough: remember on your part, that meekness is the woman's grace, and to abide ill fortune patiently, a conduct more becoming of your sex than to resent it proudly. Fare you well!

[Exit VOLTIMAR.
GOTHRUN and OSWENA.
Osw.

I'm wrapt in wonder; how his spirit towers! how awful, and how stern!

Goth.

Let us not quit him, but follow, and [Page 22] endeavour to obtain some insight into his myste­rious purposes.

Osw.

'Tis well advis'd; proceed!

[Exeunt.
(A Hall in Kenwith Castle. The Warders and Servants of the Earl ranged for the Reeeption of the King. The Danish Standard of the Raven is displayed. Earl ODDUNE enters hastily.)
ODDUNE.

Throw wide my gates, or cast them from their hinges; turn out my warders in their best attire, and let my castle towers, if it were possible, bow down their heads in honor of our guest. Sound, trumpets! and salute the sovereign, the saviour of his country! Hah! fall back, give large and am­ple room; shew yourselves courtly to our noble visitors.

(Flourish.
(ALFRED, preceded by his Lords and Courtiers, appears through the Gate.)

Brave Sibald, and brave Egbert, welcome, wel­come! Redwald, and Kenulph, Swithun, and my honor'd kinsman Roger de Malvern—and, Oh! sight of joy, the head and heart of Eng­land—my king, my father!

(Kneels.
Alfred.

Rather say your son; for it was you that nurs'd my infant hopes, and taught me how to conquer.—Rise! Stand up! My heart bounds to embrace you.

Oddune.

Each drop of blood that flows from it is Alfred's.

Alfred.

We know your love, and rate it at a price not less in value than the crown we wear: you was our great forerunner; you first track'd the road to victory, and we have trac'd your steps at humble distances. If our memory needed a [Page 23] prompter, we have but to cast our eyes upon that ensign of your victory, and mend our recollecti­on; but our thoughts are faithful to your services; and, by the rights of hospitality, which I now claim of you as my much honor'd host, I call upon you to demand a boon; and may that ban­ner fall upon my head, if I refuse it!

Oddune.

My gracious liege, 'tis at my lips al­ready.

Alfred.

Speak, and 'tis granted.

Oddune.

Sire, that you will honor with your royal presence my daughter's nuptials.

Alfred.

Which of our Nobles does the Lady Adela make choice of to promote to this felicity?

Oddune.

One whom I look'd to have found at­tending on your highness, Earl Alric of Northum­berland.

Sibald.

Heaven give me patience! Did you say Lord Alric!

Oddune.

Aye, Sibald, is he not a worthy lord?

Alfred.

Our kingdom boasts none worthier.—You, brave Sibald, of all whom I have heard, are warmest in your praises of his courage, ho­nor, and accomplishments; for you are Alric's nearest and most ardent friend; and much it glads me when my friends and nobles ltve in such love and concord with each other.

Oddune.

Let me then ask, under favor of your highness, this noble lord, why, when I named Earl Alric for my daughter, he started, and gave signs of such astonishment?

Sibald.

I know my king is just, and I might speak, without offending him, what truth and ho­nour warrant, tho' my charge glanc'd upon his heart even in the tenderest point; but it is not my custom to appeal till I stand face to face be­fore my judge, with him who wrongs me; till [Page 24] then I humbly pray our joys may not be damp'd by any inference drawn from my incautious words.

Alfred.

Let it be so, though I must own I'm touch'd even to the quick, to think that any cause of difference shou'd arise betwixt two gallant he­roes, whom I have ever held not less incapable of doing wrong than I myself of screening the offender; but we'll not shew so little courtesy to our kind host, as to give way to sorrow till it meets us.—Come, my good lord, you must not think to keep your castle's richest treasure out of sight: if Lady Adela will condescend to admit us as we are, in the rough trim of soldiers on their march, we shall be proud to pay our ho­mage as her faithful knight.

Oddune.

Not so, my liege! but, with Lord Sibald's leave, her gracious sponsor.

Alfred.

Ah, Sibald, Sibald! But let that grief sleep—that we may touch upon no string that jars, we'll visit her alone.—Lead, I will follow you.

[Exeunt ALFRED and ODDUNE.
SIBALD, EGBERT, REDWALD, SWITHUN, and ROGER DE MALVERN.
Egbert.

The king is vext.

Sibald.

I'm sorry at my soul.

Redwald.

I know not when I have seen him so much mov'd.

Roger de M.

Lord Oddune too can scarce re­strain himself.

Sibald.

Roger de Malvern, you have known me long, so have you all; and if I am no com­mon talker, to let fly my words at random with­out forecast, am not noted for one that vouches rashly, and after shrinks from what he has so [Page 25] vouch'd; I will believe you'll credit me for ma­king good whatever I have hinted or depos'd in hearing of my sovereign and yourselves; till then, though I cannot recal the words improvidently wrested from me by surprize, I can at least re­frain from adding to a fault which I repent of.

Roger de M.

Spoken like yourself, and we, with the same candor, will not prejudge you or your cause. The king, who loves his friend, as we all know, and no friend more deservedly than yourself, is yet so pure, so equal in his high seat of justice, that no appellant has been heard to say, why did he this?

Swithan.

The nation, with one voice, will tes­tify to this?

Roger de M.

Long may he live and reign, ho­nor'd, obey'd, and lov'd! And mark my words, young lords—I'm old enough to be a prophet, were I as wise withal.—The character of Alfred hath not yet attain'd to half that lustre, which in future times, if Heaven preserves his life, it will diffuse thro' the admiring world: victorious as he is, and great in warlike qualities, the powers and energies of his capacious mind are but obscurely seen, till peace shall give his meditations scope for action and display: then he will shine; and you, who may expect to see those glorious days, will call, when I am dead, these words to mind, and say—"Malvern predicted rightly."

Sibald.

No, my good Lord; we rather hope you'll live to witness the fulfilment of these aus­picious words—then we'll record them joyfully together.

Roger de M.

And I shall die content.

Egbert.

Die when you may, your memory will be honor'd to all time.—Now let us seek the [Page 26] king, and tender him our duty—Come my lords!

Exeunt.
(Scene changes to ADELA's Apartment in the Castle.)
ADELA.

Alfred is now arriv'd, and I must face or fly the doom that threatens me. Unhappy Adela! seal'd down to misery, if once the fatal word shall pass my lips in presence of the king. What shall I do? To whom shall I resort? Is not the father of his people just, tender of heart, and pitiful to those who kneel to him for mercy?—I will kneel.—Hark, he approaches.—Benignant Heaven! support me!

(ALFRED, preceded by Earl ODDUNE.)
Oddune.

Daughter, behold your king! Kneel now to him, for whom so often you have knelt to Heaven.

[She offers to kneel.
Alfred.

Not so, fair excellence.—Saints kneel not to sinners, and kings themselves will bend the knee to beauty.

Adela.

My humble duty waits upon your high­ness.

Alfred.

My love on you—wing'd with a thou­sand wishes that Heaven may prosper what it has adorn'd and beautified so highly.—I am now your guest, fair Adela, and, if my hopes deceive me not, shall be in nearer trust with you to-morrow; I have requested therefore of your father admis­sion to you private and alone.

Oddune.

My liege, I have thrown my treasure at your feet, and now resign it to you.

[Exit ODDUNE.
Alfred.

Pray be compos'd; you tremble, gen­tle maid.

Adela.
[Page 27]

I have cause, dread Sir; it is an awful thing to be in presence of him, whom more than all the world I honor and revere.

Alfred.

It is more awful to approach the altar with a back-sliding heart.—Let me know there­fore, if with free consent and hearty approba­tion, you espouse Lord Alric of Northumber­land?

Adela.

It is my duty to obey my father.

Alfred.

I am to be your father in that office; and how far I am warranted in conscience to ex­ecute that office, will depend on your reply.

Adela.

My heart is full—Oh! that I had dar'd to speak—

Alfred.

Speak, I conjure you! I am all atten­tion.

Adela.

You are all goodness, Sir; the power that Heaven has put into your hands, you, as Heaven's almoner, dispense so bounteously, that misery flies to you as to a friend, and every child of sorrow owns you for its father. I have ven­tur'd to lift up my eyes towards your's, and I have there discover'd beams of such mild bene­volence, that I perceive, where you are present, fear cannot inhabit even in my woman's heart.

Alfred.

If purity and truth cou'd fear my pre­sence, I were a tyrant, which I trust I am not—therefore proceed.

Adela.

I am in love and duty so fast bound to obey my father's will, and yet so adverse to this marriage, that I have nothing in my choice but choice of misery.

Alfred.

Adverse to marriage, and yet on the very eve! How is this, Adela? Do you see good cause to marry Alric, and no cause to love him?

Adela.

'Twould be redemption for me if I cou'd.

Alfred.
[Page 28]

Have you discover'd aught that con­tradicts what fame reports of him?—He may have faults, errors of temper; but integrity and honor are his own.

Adela.

It is the test of merit to be prais'd by him, whose praise resounds throughout the world.—Glory enough for Alric, and good cause why I should honor him whom Alfred favors: but judge me, royal Sir; am I in fault, if nature, which has given him grace to merit these high honours, hath not endow'd me with a heart to love him?

Alfred.

What shall I say? It is not in my hand those springs are plac'd that guide the will, and govern the affections. Forewarn'd as I now am, I'll not approach the altar, there to make a lying deposition, and affront the Majesty of Hea­ven. No, Adela, that's past; but when you know how ardently your father patronizes Alric's suit, I must believe a heart so dutiful as your's wou'd not oppose his wishes, nor reject a choice so worthy, were it not bestow'd upon some hap­pier lover.

Adela.

Ah! gracious Sir! my heart is in your sight: I dare not stand before you and prevari­cate.

Alfred.

And wherefore shou'd you? for, if I conjecture rightly, you have plac'd your choice on one, whose virtues, valor, and illustrious birth, rank with the first in England, though hard misfortune has fallen heavy on him.

Adela.

How glorious is such praise from Al­fred's lips! How godlike such benevolence! I do perceive you have discover'd him.

Alfred.

I saw the secret workings of his heart, his horror and surprize, when your father an­nounc'd your nuptials for to-morrow.

Adela.
[Page 29]

My father!—Did my father see all this?

Alfred.

Assuredly he did.

Adela.

Oh, heaven and earth! then we are both undone, if Voltimar has thus betrayed him­self.

Alfred.

How say you?—Voltimar!—I speak not of him.

Adela.

Sir!—Not of Voltimar?

Alfred.

I speak of Sibald.—Voltimar's a Dane, the son of Hastings.—Can you love a Dane?

Adela.

He is a Dane; but noble, brave, and virtuous: he is the son of Hastings, but merciful to Alfred's friends, as Alfred is to him; the very air that Alric breathes is Voltimar's: at Bamflete fight he struck him from his horse, and when he might have spear'd him to the earth, even in the heat and madness of the battle, in pity he forbore, and gave him life: is not such mercy lovely?

Alfred.

'Tis enviably noble; 'tis heroic.

Adela.

I knew to whom it was that I appeal'd.

Alfred.

I've heard Lord Alric speak of this generous action in terms of rapturous gratitude, and I trust it never shall be said of my country­men, that they suppress the good deeds of an enemy, and only publish evil ones. And now, fair Adela, thanks for your candor; what you have imparted to me I shall commit to my most serious thoughts, and in all honorable measures serve you.

Adela.

Ah, Sir! I stand in wonder at your goodness, and blush to think that any thought of me should occupy a mind, where a whole nati­on's interests are repos'd—But pity ever marks the hero's character.

Alfred.
[Page 30]

I shall confer with Voltimar—Fare­well!—Exit.

[Exit.
(ADELA alone)

Confer with Voltimar!—Hark! what is this?—He strikes upon the harp; it is his signal, call­ing me to the window.—Oh! well tim'd, blest occasion! I can now prepare him for his inter­view with Alfred, allay his fears, his jealousies of Alric, and by the sympathy of souls transfuse into his breast the hope that springs in mine.—Again he summons me—I come, I come!

END OF ACT II.

ACT III.

The Castle.
ADELA speaks from the window.
ADELA.

HUSH, hush! not a word more—I hear my father's voice.—Away, away!

[Shuts the casement.
(ODDUNE enters.)
Oddune.

I left you to your conference with the king; tell me what pass'd.

Adela.

Alfred is ever gracious.

Oddune.

That's granted; and as such, that you have confided to him your whole heart, I can well believe. He is now gone forth alone to meet Lord Alric; else I had heard from him what wou'd have made my question needless.

Adela.

You have been ever good to me; and so tender, that you have even treated my faults with gentleness; therefore it is I am the more afraid to offend you.

Oddune.

Nay, no evasion. I need not to be told your heart is not accordant to my wishes; in plainer words, you do not love Lord Alric.

Adela.

If I may judge of him, he has as little wish to gain my heart, as I have will to give it him—Sullen, obscure, and with himself displeas'd, he took no pains to recommend his suit, but cold­ly told me you had given consent, and hop'd I [Page 32] wou'd confirm it. To this I made no answer; nor did he urge me to it; but taking my silence for his acquittal from an irksome penance, bow'd and departed.

Oddune.

Truth to confess, his manners have not pleas'd me; there seems to be something upon his mind that presses and dispirits him: time must reveal it.—Of this be sure, I shall not be less forward to resent contempt, than you are quick to feel it.

Adela.

Upon my knees I thank you.—Oh! my father, honor'd, rever'd, and lov'd, save your poor child from misery and destruction!

Oddune.

Be patient! rise—there needs not all this vehemence of prayer to melt a heart that is not made of marble; I am not one of those ob­durate fathers to stop my ears against the cries of nature—Was you this instant with the king? Did you confess yourself to him averse to this impending marriage, and in like fervent terms?

Adela.

I did confess; and he, with a benignity (for which may Heaven crown him with bles­sings!) heard and approv'd my prayer.

Oddune.

Hah! did he so? What said he?

Adela.

The words, indeed, of Alfred may be repeated; the grace that marks all that he says or does, who can describe? I pray you let my humble plea approach you, not through my lips, but Alfred's.

Oddune.

It shall be so; you have appeal'd to Alfred; let Alfred judge betwixt us.—Retire to peace.

Adela.

Kind Heaven reward and bless you for this goodness!

[Exeunt severally.
[Page 33](A Grove withoutside the Castle.)
ALFRED and ALRIC.
Alfred.

Here we are private; and now, my Lord of Northumberland, by the right I have in you as your king and friend, I call on you to make answer to a few plain questions, which concern not only your own honor but mine also.

Alric.

Sir, if I were as clear in conscience to­wards all others as I am true and faithful to your highness, I shou'd not fear the closest scrutiny.

Alfred.

Fear nothing; only give me up your heart.

Alric.

'Tis at my lips, command, and it shall forth.

Alfred.

How is it you have suffer'd me to be inform'd by any other than yourself of your en­gagement with the lady Adela? Is it fitting that you shou'd have so great a happiness in contem­plation, and I your friend not know of it?

Alric.

I cannot answer you, but on my knees implore you to dismiss me, as one no longer wor­thy to approach you.

Alfred.

Stand up; I will not hear you in that posture.

Alric.

Ah! my too gracious master, tho' you can pity errors, you cannot pardon crimes: I am undone for ever in your thoughts, and have so deeply wrong'd the earl of Devonshire, that all the atonement I can tender him is to lay bare my bosom to his sword, and meet the death I merit. Alas! dread sir, when I forbore to speak to you of what you term my happiness, it was because I trembled to reveal my shame: I must not, can not wed the lady Adela.

Alfred.

You cannot! why? Does that impe­diment spring from yourself or her?

Alric.
[Page 34]

From myself solely; for I deserv'd the cold reception she gave me.

Alfred.

How then are you dishonor'd with the earl, if, finding her repugnant to your suit, you modestly withdraw it?

Alric.

Because, (to my eternal shame I own it) I made proposals for earl Oddune's daughter, when I was bound by solemn word and promise to another.

Alfred.

My lord, my lord, what plea have you to make for such duplicity?

Alric.

None, royal sir, but that I am unhappy in a nature, which, loving ardently, resents too quickly: In one of these rash moments, on a suspected slight, when my fond heart 'twixt love and jealousy was rent asunder, almost bereft of reason, and hurried on by an impetuous passion, I took the desperate measure that has plung'd me in this disgraceful business with earl Oddune.

Alfred.

And not with him alone, but with the lady, whose appeal will bear so hard against you, and whom yet you have not nam'd.

Alric.

There I am doubly guilty, for that lady is grac'd with loveliness so charming, join'd to a nature so ingenuous, that nothing less than folly blind as mine cou'd have mistaken it—Born of a noble house, illustrious for its loyalty, whose branches death has sever'd without mercy, the lady Bertha—

(SIBALD enters hastily.)
Sibald.

Hath yet a brother living, who will not suffer insult and perjury to escape his venge­ance. My sovereign lord, I kneel to you for justice.

Alfred.
[Page 35]

Rise, Sibald; and if we cut short your accusation, it is because the justice of your appeal is known already, and the Lord Alric by his own confession stands self-condemn'd.

Sibald.

My wrongs, dread sir, cannot be put aside by an extorted penitence: I once accounted this unworthy lord my honor'd, valued friend; he has betrayed me. You have a heart, my liege, alive to all the feelings of a man; you know the stabs that a false friend can give, and by your own sensations will allow for mine.

Alfred.

Not to the passions, Sibald, but to jus­tice, make your appeal—Proceed!

Sibald.

My name, great sir, will not be found less frequent or less honor'd in our annals than that of Alric; my house can boast as many tro­phies of a warlike ancestry; a nobler father and three gallant brothers have died in arms for Al­fred and their country; the Danish sword has gash'd our line so deeply, that nothing now re­mains to me but one dear sister, pure as the air she breathes, and without spot, save that of loving this false faithless man, who has abandon'd her for earl Oddune's daughter; for which act here in your royal presence I brand him for a traitor to his oath, a perjur'd traitor, and de­mand the lists.

Alfred.

A dreadful reference you make, Lord Sibald, and put your cause to an uncertain issue; but if, when justice tenders you her sword, you still prefer your own, what you will do, you must; I cannot stay you.

Alric.

Nor shall I shun the lists, if he demands them; but I must execrate those bloody laws, that subject me, on the same day which wedded me to Bertha, to the dire chance of being found the murderer of her brother.

Sibald.
[Page 36]

Wedded to Bertha! speak that word again.

Alric.

Yes, Sibald, I have ask'd and obtain'd pardon of your injur'd sister; she has seal'd it with her hand before the altar, and let my sove­reign say if I, who have not yet aton'd to the father of Adela, am warranted to take up the gage from the brother of Bertha.

Alfred.

I do forbid the lists.—Sibald, I know you well; no English bosom wears a braver heart; as well I know Lord Alric, and esteem him worthy no less praise; yet herein I com­mend him not, that he should suffer a mere lover's quarrel to spread into such mischief.

Sibald.

Oh! my rever'd and ever gracious lord, permit me first to embrace him as a bro­ther, and after cast myself at your feet, and sup­plicate your influence with earl Oddune to medi­ate for his pardon.

Alfred.

Rise, Sibald; to this task I willingly accord; for much 'twould wound my heart, if, when your swords are wanted to repel the inva­ders of your country, feuds and dissentions be­twixt friend and friend shou'd turn them on each other—Follow me to the castle; Alric will keep his station here without, till we return.

[Exeunt.
ALRIC.

Who wou'd not die for such a generous mas­ter? faultless himself, he is all candor to the faults of others, and lives amongst us like a de­scended angel, sent to reform our errors by the example of his own perfections.

(VOLTIMAR enters to ALRIC.)
Volt.

Hah! by my hopes Lord Alric—Do you know me?

Alric.
[Page 37]

Do I know Voltimar?—My conqueror, my preserver, come to my arms.

Volt.

Forbear! there is a spirit within me, sunk, tho' I am in misery and despair, that will not suffer you, tho' now a conqueror in your turn, and towering far above the wretched son of Hastings, to take this base advantage of your fortune, and drag a trembling victim to the altar only to riot in the tears of beauty, and throw your chains upon a heart, that never can be your's.

Alric.

Pause from your rage, and say in plain­er terms on whose behalf it is that you accuse me.

Volt.

I do accuse you of unmanly conduct—accuse you on the part of the lady Adela.

Alric.

My conscience does that office, without the aid of other advocates to plead against me.

Volt.

Draw then, and answer one, whom no­thing less definitive than death can satisfy or silence.

Alric.

She has a father; him I now expect, he has the prior claim upon my sword.

Volt.

What do you tell me of a father's claim? I love her to distraction, he destroys her: there­fore no more; it is a poor evasion to talk of prior claims to one, who boasts possession of her heart. Defend yourself.

Alric.

I will, but first explain our cause of quarrel.

Volt.

Away! you trifle with the time, what more can you desire?—You are arm'd, accou­tred, practis'd in the combat, and flusht with conquest—I, a vanquisht prisoner, a poor wretch­ed thing, assuming folly to conceal my shame, sunk even to beggary, and driven to harp for charitable scraps at great men's tables.—Yet by [Page 38] the blood of Hastings, my inheritance, you shall not wed with Adela.

Alric.

I will not wed with Adela; I cannot—

Volt.

Go on.

Alric.

I am the husband of Lord Sibald's sis­ter—A broken faith I have to answer for—but that is Oddune's quarrel—If you are Oddune's champion, so deputed, lo! I draw forth my sword—set to, and spare not.

Volt.

Return your sword into its case again, till Oddune calls it forth: I have no cause to mur­mur at your choice, tho' much to wonder at it.

Alric.

Had I no other duty for my sword than to defend the justice of my choice, I were most happy—but the time approaches, when I expect Earl Oddune and the king; that is an interview you will not court.

Volt.

No, for if Alfred's eloquence protects you, you'll want no other second in your cause.—Farewell! assure yourself of a successful issue.

[Exeunt severally.
(Another part of the adjacent country.)
GOTHRUN and OSWENA.
Goth.

Darkness comes on, the night befriends us; and Heaven itself conspires with our attempt. Nothing is wanting to ensure success but your son's presence: Alfred and his nobles are weakly garrison'd in Kenwith Castle. Oh! what a glo­rious moment will be lost, if Voltimar will not come forth. He, and he alone, through all these haunts and purlieus, is the chief can draw our Danes together.

Osw.

His power with them is absolute; his voice, like magic, can waft them where he lists; [Page 39] call them together in a swarm like bees, or scat­ter them abroad, and send them hence, each to his hiding-place, upon a word.

Goth.

Hark! whence is that alarm? We are discover'd.

Osw.

No, 'tis Lothaire; I sent him on the heights to give the well-known signal. There's not a Dane within ear-reach of it, but will turn out, believing it the call of Voltimar, who never since his father died has given that bugle breath. Let us go hence and meet them on the beach; there they will muster.

[Exeunt.
(A party of arm'd Danes rush in. Scene changes to a Wood.)
(VOLTIMAR enters hastily.)
Volt.

Are ye all mad? Why is my ear disturb'd by your rude clamours? Who dares to sound that horn?

Dane.

Son of our chief, your ever faithful Danes believ'd it was your summonss, and obey'd it.

Volt.

Send out, and set that insolent before me, whose cursed breath dares to profane the air with that unholy blast.—Hah! mother, is it you?

(OSWENA enters.)
Osw.

All hail, my son! Denmark revives in Voltimar.

Volt.

Peace, peace! go home, where women shou'd be found. Busy yourself no more in these dark doings.

[Page 40](GOTHRUN and a party bringing in ALFRED.)
Goth.

Drag him along, or instantly dispatch him.—Now, Danes, we'll immolate at least one victim to the manes of our countrymen.—How! Voltimar amongst us?—Joy to you, chief! we seiz'd this muffled Saxon under the castle walls.

Volt.

You seiz'd him! you—under the castle walls!—You fled, like deer, under the walls of Exeter!—For shame!—This single man un­arm'd; with only Alfred's banner in his hand, had chas'd you thence a thousand in a herd.—Behold, I draw a sword in his defence, that ne­ver yet lower'd its point in battle; but scorns the coward trade of midnight stabbers.—Stand at my side, stranger, and fear nothing!

Alfred.

I never yet fear'd any thing but disho­nor.

Goth.

Danes, will you let your prize be ra­vish'd from you?

Volt.

Danes, will you let your honor be dis­grac'd? Friends, if indeed ye do deserve the name, silence that babbler, send him to his ships, and let him preach to those with whom he fled. You never serv'd with Gothrun.—Me you know; with me you've liv'd, and breath'd the air of England; breathe then the sentiments of English generosity, and scorn to injure a defenceless man.

Osw.

Are you the son of Hastings?

Volt.

I am the son of Hastings; and by the immortal spirit of my father, if one amongst you dares to draw a bow or rear a pike against this Saxon's breast, I'll thrust my sword into that mis­creant's heart, and spurn him to the earth.

Goth.

If you're the son of Hastings, by inhe­ritance [Page 41] you are the foe of Alfred.—Who can tell? This may be Alfred himself.

Volt.

And if it be, I would not, like you, Gothrun, steal on his walk by night, lurk in his path.—Be witness for me, Heaven, I would not kill the father of his people, the patriot law­giver, the peaceful king, were I to gain his throne by the assassination.

Alfred.

Heroic Voltimar! how grateful to the ears of Alfred would be this praise, were it his chance to hear it!

Volt.

It is the purer praise, because he hears it not.—If I, who every night water a father's me­mory with my tears, and wander forth to meet his unappeased ghost upon the beach, proclaim the praise of Alfred, his virtues must be great.

Alfred

I can abstain no longer—I am Alfred.

[Throws off his cloak.
Volt.

Hah!—Alfred!

Alfred.

Alfred, and England's king.

Volt.

Live, live! great sir!

Goth.

Die rather, and atone for all the thou­sands that are lost to Denmark.

[Advances to kill ALFRED.
Volt.

Seize him, disarm him! stop his mur­derous hand!—Thou bloody, cruel, and degene­rate Dane!

(He is seiz'd.)

You are my prisoner now. Thanks, countrymen, for this! this act becomes you!

Alfred.

Thanks to my brave deliverer! and you, who have disarm'd that stabber, you shall find a richer ransom for the living Alfred, than by the bounty you had gain'd in Denmark for these dead bones—for never had you landed them alive.

Volt.

Now all disarm; convert your hostile spears to shepherd's crooks, your swords to [Page 42] sickles.—Oh! my worthy friends, we are the last of all our countrymen, that shou'd conspire against the life of Alfred; for we, above all others, are debtors to his mercy! The very air we breathe, the food that we subsist on, the sleep and rest that we enjoy, are Alfred's bounty; and to his forbearance you are indebted for those peaceful homes to which I now commend you.—Go, go! reflect how you are blest, and in your prayers remember him that blesses you!

[They depart.
Osw.

Look, if they do not vanish at his bid­ding.

Volt.

Peace, Madam! let that angry spirit of your's sink into silence.—Now, dread sir, I move you to give this Danish chief safe conduct to his ships; let him, and the sad remnant of his shat­ter'd army, quit your triumphant shores without hostility on your part, on their's without delay.

Alf.

'Tis granted to the full of what you ask. We have had ample vengeance on their rash­ness; they chastisement too bitter to repeat it.

Goth.

Well! be it so; if we have lost a prize, whose capture every English heart had rued to the last hour of life, I am acquitted. England, fare­well for ever!

[Exit, guarded.
Osw.

Ah, Voltimar, will this appease your father's spirit?

Volt.

I have heard a warning voice, whose words, with more than mortal utterance and au­thority, fell on my ear by night.—He spoke to me of mercy, peace, forbearance: him with a filial reverence I obey.

Osw.

Why did you feign a folly, only to be­tray me?

Volt.

My folly has been wisdom, and preserv'd you.

Alfred.
[Page 43]

Mother and son, forbear! in you, as widow of the illustrious Hastings, I pardon this high spirit of resentment; but I will combat it with heart so meek and hand so liberal, that you shall cease in very shame to murmur, and either feel or feign yourself converted.—For you, my brave preserver, I have a happiness in store, which, with the honors I will shower upon you, shall prove Alfred is not insensible of soul to those who merit his munificence.—Now let us to the castle.—Farewell, Madam! guarded by Voltimar, we'll brave a host.

Osw.

Go, my brave son; great must be Al­fred's virtues, when they have conquer'd me: I yield you to him, and conjure you, Voltimar, be true and faithful to your generous master, so shall your loyal service and good deeds cancel the memory of Oswena's errors.

[Exeunt severally.
(Scene the Castle.)
ODDUNE, EGBERT, REDWALD, SWITHUN, ROGER DE MALVERN.
Roger de M.

The king gone forth alone!

Oddune.

Such was his royal pleasure; and whilst there's aught to do in love and charity the sole of his foot knows no rest. He is now re­turn'd in quest of the Lord Alric, to bear him tidings of our reconcilement.

Roger de M.

Who says that Alfred is a mighty conqueror gives him but half his praise: he is a peace-maker by natural choice, a warrior by necessity.

(SIBALD enters.)
Sibald.

My Lord of Devonshire, if you have [Page 44] knowledge of any Danes hovering about this quarter, I must think you will do well to keep a careful watch.—As I walk'd forth but now, I heard a bugle give the call to arms; 'twas sound­ed from the wood upon the heights—Is not the king come in?

(ALRIC enters hastily.)
Alric.

Noble Earl Oddune, pardon this intru­sion: I held it for my duty to inform you, that as I watch'd without your castle walls, an armed party, as I think, of Danes, rush'd from the wood near which I had taken my station, waiting the king's return.

Oddune.

Arm, arm, my lords! and let us sally forth—By heaven and earth, I will not live an hour if any evil chance befall my king under this roof.

Omnes.

Draw, draw! we'll die for Alfred—

(They are rushing out with their swords drawn.)
(ALFRED meets them, he is followed by VOLTI­MAR.)
Alfred.

How now, my friends? all's well.

Omnes.

Heaven's mercy guard the sacred life of Alfred!

[They all kneel.
Oddune.

Joy to our eyes! the light of England beams upon us bright and serene as ever.

Alfred.

So to be greeted, is indeed a triumph: Heaven sees my heart, and knows how it is pene­trated by these proofs of your unfeign'd affecti­on—Rise, rise, and tell me what alarm'd you thus.

Oddune.

These lords had heard strange noises; and Northumberland saw some that he believ'd were armed Danes.

Alfred.
[Page 45]

Here is an armed Dane, the son of Hastings, but no enemy.

Oddune.

Poor witless thing!—a very harmless elf—where did your highness cross upon that na­tural?

Alfred.

I'll tell you that anon;—say first, if you seal'd the pardon I sued out?

Oddune.

Thus in your royal presence I confirm it.

[Embraces Alric.
Alric.

Oh! my thrice honor'd lord! this ge­nerous pardon binds me for ever to you.

Oddune.

Our king is now amongst us; and who can love and serve him best, shall be our only contest.

Alric.

In that, and only that, I am your rival.

Roger de M.

Old as I am, I'll struggle in that race.

Alfred.

And see, here's one that will not be the last—the castle's beauteous mistress.

(ADELA enters, and makes her reverence to ALFRED.)

Lovely Adela; I have a friend—I will not speak him more or better than he is, (the best have need of pardon) but if you'll greet him as your father's guest, with a forgiving smile, I shall be much your debtor.

[Presenting ALRIC.
Adela.

Prove me, great sir; by some severer task; to welcome Alfred's friend is easy service.

Oddune.

Well said, my child! Now let our joys break forth! where are the minstrels? Sir­rah, you Voltimar, what do you here without a harp? Go, and provide yourself.

Alfred.

Hold, with your leave; I have a word to offer—Hear me, my noble friends! If I your king have been assail'd and seiz'd, made captive by a band of roving Danes, and on the point of [Page 46] being forc'd away or kill'd upon the spot, what does that man deserve, who singly stemm'd their brutal fury; and, tho' himself a Dane, sav'd me in this extremity, dispers'd the traitorous rabble, and restor'd me safe and unhurt to you and to my country?—Speak you, my lord, for all!

[To ODDUNE.
Oddune.

Oh! heaven and earth, amazement stops my tongue; nor can I speak his merits, or prescribe the measure of our gratitude; it is, as wou'd have been our loss and misery, above all computation.

Alfred.

Wou'd you, my lord, refuse that man a boon, shou'd he request of you?

Oddune.

No, though it were my life.

Alfred.

Suppose it were the nearest thing to life, nay dearer to you than the life itself, your lovely daughter.

Oddune.

She shou'd be his, or never more be mine.

Alfred.

Stand forth, my brave deliverer!—This is the man.

Oddune.

Uphold me, Heaven!—Voltimar!

Alfred.

Voltimar, and Earl of Hastings. Such I create him, by his great father's name, endow­ing him with ample manors thereunto pertaining, fit for his state and title.—Speak, you my lords, have I your voices to confirm the gift?

Omnes.

All, all! the nation hails him our pre­server.

Volt.

May England never want hearts to de­fend her king, nor king to copy Alfred's bright example!

Oddune.

Come hither, Adela! where is his folly fled?

Adela.

Ah, sir, it is amongst his noblest merits to have feign'd that weakness.

Oddune.
[Page 47]

Nay then, let joy go round—Adela; do you love your king?

Adela.

Heaven be my witness, with a heart how true.

Oddune.

Love his deliverer then.—Now join your hands!

Volt.

Oh! my soul's earthly heaven, do I pos­sess thee? words cannot speak my bliss.

Oddune.

You have earn'd the oaken garland—Adela shall twine the myrtle in it; so shall you be crown'd by your beloved bride, your grateful country, and your glorious king.

FINIS.

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