Forgive me! As light clouds athwart the sun,
So cares and fears float darkling o’er my soul.
Oh, banish fear! With danger it hath form’d
A close alliance,—they are constant friends.
It is an honest scruple, which forbids
That I should cunningly deceive the king,
And plunder him who was my second father.
Him thou dost fly, who would have slain thy brother.
To me, at least, he hath been ever kind.
What Fate commands is not ingratitude.
Alas! it still remains ingratitude;
Necessity alone can justify it.
Thee, before gods and men, it justifies.
But my own heart is still unsatisfied.
Scruples too rigid are a cloak for pride.
I cannot argue, I can only feel.
Conscious of right, thou shouldst respect thyself.
Then only doth the heart know perfect ease.
When not a stain pollutes it.
In this fane
Pure hast thou kept thy heart. Life teaches us
To be less strict with others and ourselves;
Thou’lt learn the lesson too. So wonderful
Is human nature, and its varied ties
Are so involv’d and complicate, that none
May hope to keep his inmost spirit pure,
And walk without perplexity through life.
Nor are we call’d upon to judge ourselves;
With circumspection to pursue his path,
Is the immediate duty of a man;
For seldom can he rightly estimate,
Of his past conduct or his present deeds.
Almost thou dost persuade me to consent.
Needs there persuasion when no choice is granted?
To save thyself, thy brother, and a friend,
One path presents itself, and canst thou ask
If we shall follow it?
Still let me pause,
For such injustice thou couldst not thyself
Calmly return for benefits receiv’d.
If we should perish, bitter self-reproach,
Forerunner of despair, will be thy portion.
It seems thou art not used to suffer much,
when, to escape so great calamity,
Thou canst refuse to utter one false word.