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? Mid the lone majesty of untam'd nature,
Controlling sober reason; tell me else,
Why do these haunts of barb'rous superstition
O’ercome me thus? I scorn them, yet they awe me.
Call forth the British princes: in this gloom
I mean to school them to our enterprise.

Ye pledges dear of Cartismandua's faith,
Approach ! and to mine uninstructed ear
Explain this scene of horror.

Daring Roman,
Know that thou stand'st on consecrated ground:
These mighty piles of magic-planted rock,
Thus rang'd in mystic order, mark the place
Where but at times of holiest festival
The Druid leads his train.
Aul. Did.

Where dwells the seer? Vel. In yonder shaggy cave; on which the moon Now sheds a side-long gleam. His brotherhood Possess the neighb'ring cliffs. Aul. Did.


up the hill Mine

descries a distant



caves, Delv'd in the ridges of the craggy steep; And this


still another. Elid.

On the left
Reside the sages skill'd in nature's lore:
The changeful universe, its numbers, powers,
Studious they measure, save when meditation
Gives place to holy rites: then in the grove
Each hath his rank and function. Yonder grots

Are tenanted by Bards, who nightly thence,
Rob’d in their flowing vests of innocent white,
Descend, with harps that glitter to the moon,
Hymning immortal strains. The spirits of air,
Of earth, of water, nay of Heav'n itself,
Do listen to their lay; and oft, 'tis said,
In visible shapes dance they a magic round
To the high minstrelsy.--Now, if thine eye
Be sated with the view, haste to thy ships,
And ply thine oars; for, if the Druids learn
This bold intrusion, thou wilt find it hard
To foil their fury.
Aul. Did.

Prince, I did not moor
My light-arm'd shallops on this dangerous strand
To sooth a fruitless curiosity;
I come in quest of proud Caractacus ;
Who, when our veterans put his troops to flight,
Found refuge here.

If here the monarch rests, Presumptuous chief! thou might'st as well essay To pluck him from yon stars: Earth's ample range Contains no surer refuge: underneath The soil we tread, a hundred secret paths, Scoop'd through the living rock in winding maze, Lead to as many caverns, dark, and deep: In which the hoary sages act their rites Mysterious, rites of such strange potency, As, done in open day, would dim the sun, Though thron'd in noontide brightness. In such dens He may for life lie hid.



Aul. Did.

We know the task
Most difficult, yet has thy royal mother
Furnish'd the means.

My mother, say'st thou, Roman?
Aul. Did. In proof of that firm faith she lends to

She gave you up her honour's hostages.

Elid. She did : and we submit.
Aul. Did.

To Rome we bear you;
From your dear country bear you; from your joys,
Your loves, your friendships, all your souls hold

precious. Elid. And dost thou taunt us, Roman, with ourfate? Aul. Did. No, youth, by Heav'n, I would avert

that fate. Wish ye for liberty?

Vel. and Elid. More than for life.
Aui. Did. And would do much to gain it ?

Name the task.
Aul. Did. The task is easy. Haste ye to these

Druids :
Tell them ye come, commission'd by your queen,
To seek the great Caractacus; and call
His valour to her aid, against the legions,
Which, led by our Ostorius, now assail
Her frontiers. The late treaty she has seal'd
Is yet unknown: and this her royal signet,
Which more to mask our purpose was obtain'd,
Shall be your pledge of faith. The eager king
Will gladly take the charge; and, he consenting,
What else remains, but to the Menaï's shore

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Ye lead his credulous step? there will we seize him;
Lear him to Rome, the substitute for you,
And give you back to freedom.

If the Druids
Aul. Did. If they, or he, prevent this artifice,
Then force must take its way: then flaming brands,
And biting axes, wielded by our soldiers,
Must level these thick shades, and so unlodge
The lurking savage.

Gods, shall Mona perish? A.Did. Princes, her ev'ry trunk shall on the ground Stretch its gigantic length; unless, ere dawn, Ye lure this untam'd lion to our toils. Go then, and prosper; I shall to the ships, And there expect his coming. Youths, remember, He must to Rome to grace great Cæsar's triumph: Cæsar and fate demand him at your hand.

[Exeunt Aulus Didius and Romans.


Caractacus among the Druids, where he is to be consecrated one

of their number.

Caractacus; Evelina, daughter of Caractacus; and Chorus.

Car. This holy place, methinks, doth this nightwear More than its wonted gloom: Druid, these groves Have caught the dismal colouring of my soul, Changing their dark dun garbs to very sable, In pity to their guest. Hail, hallow'd oaks!

Hail, British born! who; last of British race,
Hold your primeval rights by Nature's charter;
Not at the nod of Cæsar. Happy foresters,
Ye wave your bold heads in the liberal air;
Nor ask, for privilege, a pretor's edict.
Ye, with your tough and intertwisted roots,
Grasp the firm'rocks ye sprung from; and, erect
In knotty bardihood, still proudly spread
Your leafy banners 'gainst the tyrannous north,
Who, Roman like, assails you. Tell me, Druid,
Is it not better to be such as these,
Than be the thing I'am?

To be the thing,
Eternal wisdom wills, is ever best.

Car. But I am lost to that predestin'd use Eternal wisdom will’d, and fitly therefore May wish a change of being. I was born A king; and Heav'n, who bade these warrior oaks Lift their green shields against the fiery sun, To fence their subject plain, did mean that I Should, with as firm an arm, protect my people Against the pestilent glare of Rome's ambition. I fail'd; and how I fail'd, thou know'st too well : So does the babbling world: and therefore, Druid, I would be any thing save what I am.

Chor. See, to thy wish, the holy rites prepar'd, Which, if Heav'n frowns not, consecrate thee Druid: See to the altar's base the victims led, From whose free gushing blood ourself shall read Its high behests; which if assenting found,

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