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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Rogero’s Soliloquy
By George Canning (1770–1827)
From ‘The Rovers; or the Double Arrangement’

  The scene is a subterranean vault in the Abbey of Quedlinburgh, with coffins, ’scutcheons, death’s-heads, and cross-bones; toads and other loathsome reptiles are seen traversing the obscurer parts of the stage.—Rogero appears, in chains, in a suit of rusty armor, with his beard grown, and a cap of a grotesque form upon his head; beside him a crock, or pitcher, supposed to contain his daily allowance of sustenance.—A long silence, during which the wind is heard to whistle through the caverns.—Rogero rises, and comes slowly forward, with his arms folded.

ROGERO.—Eleven years! it is now eleven years since I was first immured in this living sepulchre—the cruelty of a Minister—the perfidy of a Monk—yes, Matilda! for thy sake—alive amidst the dead—chained—coffined—confined—cut off from the converse of my fellow-men. Soft! what have we here!  [Stumbles over a bundle of sticks.]  This cavern is so dark that I can scarcely distinguish the objects under my feet. Oh, the register of my captivity! Let me see; how stands the account?  [Takes up the sticks and turns them over with a melancholy air; then stands silent for a few minutes as if absorbed in calculation.]  Eleven years and fifteen days!—Hah! the twenty-eighth of August! How does the recollection of it vibrate on my heart! It was on this day that I took my last leave of Matilda. It was a summer evening; her melting hand seemed to dissolve in mine as I prest it to my bosom. Some demon whispered me that I should never see her more. I stood gazing on the hated vehicle which was conveying her away forever. The tears were petrified under my eyelids. My heart was crystallized with agony. Anon I looked along the road. The diligence seemed to diminish every instant; I felt my heart beat against its prison, as if anxious to leap out and overtake it. My soul whirled round as I watched the rotation of the hinder wheels. A long trail of glory followed after her and mingled with the dust—it was the emanation of Divinity, luminous with love and beauty, like the splendor of the setting sun; but it told me that the sun of my joys was sunk forever. Yes, here in the depths of an eternal dungeon, in the nursing-cradle of hell, the suburbs of perdition, in a nest of demons, where despair in vain sits brooding over the putrid eggs of hope; where agony wooes the embrace of death; where patience, beside the bottomless pool of despondency, sits angling for impossibilities. Yet even here, to behold her, to embrace her! Yes, Matilda, whether in this dark abode, amidst toads and spiders, or in a royal palace, amidst the more loathsome reptiles of a court, would be indifferent to me; angels would shower down their hymns of gratulation upon our heads, while fiends would envy the eternity of suffering love—Soft; what air was that? it seemed a sound of more than human warblings. Again  [listens attentively for some minutes].  Only the wind: it is well, however; it reminds me of that melancholy air which has so often solaced the hours of my captivity. Let me see whether the damps of this dungeon have not yet injured my guitar.  [Takes his guitar, tunes it, and begins the following air with a full accompaniment of violins from the orchestra:—]

[Air, ‘Lanterna Magica.’]

Whene’er with haggard eyes I view
  This dungeon that I’m rotting in,
I think of those companions true
  Who studied with me at the U—
    —niversity of Gottingen,
    —niversity of Gottingen.
  [Weeps and pulls out a blue kerchief, with which he wipes his eyes; gazing tenderly at it, he proceeds:—]

  Sweet kerchief, checked with heavenly blue,
  Which once my love sat knotting in!—
Alas! Matilda then was true!
  At least I thought so at the U—
    —niversity of Gottingen,
    —niversity of Gottingen.
  [At the repetition of this line Rogero clanks his chains in cadence.]

  Barbs! barbs! alas! how swift you flew,
  Her neat post-wagon trotting in!
Ye bore Matilda from my view;
  Forlorn I languished at the U—
    —niversity of Gottingen,
    —niversity of Gottingen.
This faded form! this pallid hue!
  This blood my veins is clotting in!
My years are many—they were few
  When first I entered at the U—
    —niversity of Gottingen,
    —niversity of Gottingen.
There first for thee my passion grew,
  Sweet, sweet Matilda Pottingen!
Thou wast the daughter of my Tu-
  tor, law professor at the U—
    —niversity of Gottingen,
    —niversity of Gottingen.
Sun, 1 moon, and thou, vain world, adieu!
  That kings and priests are plotting in:
Here doomed to starve on water gru—
  el, never shall I see the U—

  [During the last stanza Rogero dashes his head repeatedly against the walls of his prison, and finally so hard as to produce a visible contusion. He then throws himself on the floor in an agony. The curtain drops, the music still continuing to play till it is wholly fallen.]
Note 1. This verse is said to have been added by the younger Pitt. [back]

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