THE DYNASTS ACT v
NAPOLEON (answering as in soliloquy)
The trustless, timorous lease of human life Warns me to hedge in my diplomacy. The sooner, then, the safer! Ay, this eve, This very night, will I take steps to rid My morrows of the weird contingencies That vision round and make one hollow-eyed. . . -The unexpected, lurid death of Lannes— Rigid as iron, reaped down like a straw-Tiptoed Assassination haunting round In unthought thoroughfares, the near success Of Staps the madman, argue to forbid The riskful blood of my previsioned line And potence for dynastic empery To linger vialled in my veins alone, Perhaps within this very house and hour, Under an innocent mask of Love or Hope, Some enemy queues my ways to coffin me* . „ *
When at the first clash of the late campaign, A bold belief in Austria's star prevailed, There pulsed quick pants of expectation round Among the cowering kings, that too well told What would have fared had I been overthrown! So ; I must send down shoots to future time Who'll plant my standard and my story there; And a way opens,—Better I had not Bespoke a wife from Alexander's house* Not there now lies my look. But done is done!
The dance ends and masks enter, BERTH XKR among them, NAPOLEON beckons to him, and he comes forward.
God send you find amid this motley crew
Frivolities enough, friend Berthier—eh ? My thoughts have worn oppressive shades despite such! What scandals of me do they bandy here ? These close disguises render women bold— Their shames being of the light, not of the thing—-And your sagacity has garnered much,