NOTE ON POLITIAN
20. Such portions of “Politian” as are known to the public first saw the light of publicity in the ‘Southern Literary Messenger’ for December 1835 and January 1836, being styled “Scenes from Politian; an unpublished drama.” These scenes were included, unaltered, in the 1845 collection of Poems by Poe. The larger portion of the original draft subsequently became the property of the present editor, but it is not considered just to the poet’s memory to publish it. The work is a hasty and unrevised production of its author’s earlier days of literary labor; and, beyond the scenes already known, scarcely calculated to enhance his reputation. As a specimen, however, of the parts unpublished, the following fragment from the first scene of Act II. may be offered. The Duke, it should be premised, is uncle to Alessandra, and father of Castiglione her betrothed.
Duke. Why do you laugh?
I hardly know myself. Stay! Was it not
On yesterday we were speaking of the Earl?
Of the Earl Politian? Yes! it was yesterday.
Alessandra, you and I, you must remember!
We were walking in the garden.
I do remember it—what of it—what then?
Cas. O nothing—nothing at all.
Duke. Nothing at all!
It is most singular that you should laugh
At nothing at all!
Cas. Most singular—singular!
Duke. Look yon, Castiglione,
be so kind
As tell me, sir, at once what ’tis you mean.
What are you talking of?
Cas. Was it not so?
We differed in opinion touching him.
Cas. Why, sir, the Earl Politian.
Duke. The Earl of Leicester!
Yes!—is it he you mean?
We differed, indeed. If I now recollect
The words you used were that the Earl you knew
Was neither learned nor mirthful.
Cas. Ha! ha!—now did I?
Duke. That did you, sir, and
well I knew at the time
You were wrong, it being not the character
Of the Earl—whom all the world allows to be
A most hilarious man. Be not, my son,
Too positive again.