Rodelinda , Queen of Lombardy, and Wife to Bertarido
Bertarido, expell`d his Throne by Grimoaldo
Grimoaldo, Duke of Benevento, promis ́d in Marriage to Edwig
Edwig, Sister to Bertarido
Unulfo, a Nobleman of Lombardy, Counsellor to Grimoaldo, but a secret friend of Bertarido
Garibaldo, Duke of Turin, Rebel to Bertarido and Friend to Grimoaldo
The Scene is Milan
The apartments of Rodelinda. Rodelinda
appears seated in a mournful posture and
weeping. Enter afterwards Grimaldo and
My love, my life, is lost, is gone,
and I the swelling tide of woe
am left to meet, and meet alone,
while sorrows upon sorrows grow.
What shall I do, or wither turn?
I have a son, and dare not die;
look where I will, hope looks forlorn
and still portends new perils nigh.
Ah, Grimaldo, in my present state,
injurious is to me the name of the Queen;
and most injurious, when thus given by thee,
that of a husband and a crown deprived me.
And now I come, this minute, to restore
thee to thy spouse and cr
own, and them to thee.
While your spouse lived, I ever did conceal,
oh charming Rodelinda, from thine eyes
the fire of my love. But now, his death
makes room for me, and justifies my hopes
love blazes out abroad, that you may see it.
What do I hear? What feel? It’s not enough
to rob me of a crown, and of a husband,
but you must, too, lay snares against my
No, Grimaldo, I the gift disclaim,
keep you the throne, but let me keep my fame.
The impious rigour of my adverse fate
may make me wretched, but can’t make me
And though you’ve bound me down and rule
talk not of love to me, base barb ́rous man,
nor strive to please me, for you strive in vain.
Grimaldo and Garibaldo
Duke, did`st tho
u ever see a fairer scorner?
I never saw, my Lord, one of a temper to
suffer more than you can.
I tremble to offend her:
Edwig and Rodelinda both conspire
one hate exciting, and this other love
to raise a war of passions in my breast.
A rigid conduct soon would tame them both
and mould them to the scope of your desires
I pray thee how?
Despise, contemn the troublesome affection
of nauseous Edwig – shew her, that you loath
her; then Rodelinda, in spite of her proud heart
will meet your eye with reverential fear.
My heart is not strong enough for that hard
Then leave to me the execution of it,
and shortly hope to see her grown less haughty.
See, Edwig comes.
Therefore, begin with her:
begin and put my counsels on the trial.
Edwig and the aforesaid
Methinks, since, late, you’ve born the
sovereign sway,you are most haughty grown – false Grimoaldo!
No – if you’ll have it, since I’ve been a King,
I am become, to one, perhaps, less constant,
that to another I may prove more just.
I proffered you my hand, but you distained it,
now, me you offer yours, and I reject it:
there let the matter rest.
I, whom I please will call to share my throne.
I loved thee, and did court the joy,
which, scorning to bestow,
the more I courted, you grew coy
and still you answered no.
And now, coy fair one, be it known,
who looked at me with scornful eyes,
must never hope to mount my throne
nor share the glittering prize.
Edwig and Garibaldo
And you do, say you love me?
And, yet, you have a he
art, you wear a sword,
have all the power that revenge could wish for,
yet tamely bear the wrongs, the slights, the
heart-aches, which hourly break my quiet?
I’ll give thee instant proofs of prompt
and glut thy vengeance with the traitors head.
(Offers to go)
No, stop –
and you shall see him – this proud man,
bowed down to lowly ac
ts of supplication:
before me, on his bended knees, shall see him
beseech a pardon, but obtain it never.
you, you’ll be able to do this?
Yes, do it to the purpose.
In his proud ear these flinging words I’ll say,
go, and that heart, all treacherous, bear,
bear it perjured, quick away
to the fond feet of some more easy fair.
Then, while he, listening, looks in deep amaze,
by heavens, I’ll, turning, court thee to his face.
How will the traitor look when I resign
to thee my heart, and call thee life of mine
Edwig, thou widely dost deceive thy self,
I am no more than suitor top thy crown,
and only make thy nuptials a pretext
to leap into a throne – there ends my love.
On bright Cupids pow`rful wings
to empire summits I would soar;
gain, by loves hid cheats, the pow`r
and perch upon the throne of Kings.
A cypress-grove, in which are seen the monument of the kings of Lombardy; and among them, the urn, newly erected to Bertarido.
Bertarido dressed in a Hungarian habit, and to him Unulfo.
Vain pomp of death!
O flatt`ring lamentation, lying grief, thus to
preserve my image and my name
only to swell the lofty conquerors pride!
Our vain inscriptions here proclaim me dead,
alas my grief tell me, too sure, I am not,
no, I am worse than dead.
Reads the inscription on his tomb
“Bertarido was King, but he, subdued by Grimaldo, fled -
`mongst the Hunns he died.
Rest to his soul, and to his ashes peace.”
Peace to my ashes! O je tyrant stars!
Why thus, it seems then, ever while I live,
till I, indeed, am ashes, till the last breath
wings from these lips must I wage weary war
with endless hardships, and perpetual wrongs.
Where art thou, o my lovely treasure,
come, thy husband to condole,
bring some comfort, bring some pleasure,
balm to ease a wearied soul.
dead oppressed with pains I languish,
there’s no balm to cure the anguish
till those eyes I see again.
But when I see those radiant eyes,
I’ll dry my own, and cease my cries
and own the blessing cures the pain.
But bless ye gracious heavens, Unulfo comes.
Let me, thou good, thou truly loyal man
thus with these circling arms...
(Going to embrace him)
My ever honoured Lord,
if the hard turns of ill revolted fate
ravished a sceptre from your Royal hands,
from me they have not taken, nor shall take
a loyal subjects reverence to his liege.
O hold and only grant this royal boon
(Unulfus avoids the Honour of the embrace)
that with an humble kiss on this dear hand
I may imprint the pledges of my duty.
On this dear Hand breathe forth my old tried
faith, on this dear hand declare my latest service.
While, in distress, I find a friend so faithful,
I bless the very woes that prove his faith.
But say, o tell me quick, how does my spouse,
my Rodelinda do – ho fares it with my son?
What fate’s unworthy lot could never do,
that, the false news of your reported death
severely has effected – o that news caused
majestick woe – becoming floods of tears
poured from her radiant eyes.
Heavens! And did you not discover, lovely mourner,
did you not tell her, that I still was living?
I did not, for I judged,
that sad solemnity of sincere sorrow
might give a face of credit to the rumour,
and, much, it still behoves
you, to conceal it.
O that soft loving heart! What Pangs it feels,
what mighty pangs – is there no end of
Why, look Unulfo, there she is, `tis she
it is my wife – and `tis my son – it is –
o let me fly, my friend, to their embraces.
For heavens sake, my Lord, you would not,
surely, let ill timed passion prove your
Yes, let me, good Unulfo,
after so tedious and so long an exile,
fold to this panting bosom my loved wife
and print a parents kiss on my sons lips.
Say, would you then, to have them one short
moment, lose them for ever after?
What a perplexed variety of torment!
I pray, my Liege, retire!
Wouldst have me flay or die,
for when I’m gone, I’m dead.
No, du but hide, conceal yourself a while,
and try to suffer yet a little longer
Rodelinda, leading Flavio by the hand, and
the aforesaid apart
Ye gloomy groves, and rev`rend shades,
urns, that with terror seem to rise,
ye give no terror, cause no fright,
to Rodelindas inquiring sight.
To me delightful you would prove,
if, as his image I behold,
your marble wombs did but infold
the ashes of the lord I love.
Ye gloomy etc.
Oh shade invisible of him, that once
charmed these fond eyes with greedy gazing at him
and now, perhaps, round this resembling form,
of what thou did`st inhabit, hov`ring fly`st,
behold the tears, that trickle from these eyes,
oh listen to the faithful sighs and groans,
of an afflicted wife and wretched son.
(I can no longer bear it)
(Bridle your passion – curb affections, pray
Receive these kisses that
we thus and thus –
(Kisses the urn, and makes Flavio do the like.)
I pray you let me - -
It must not be, my lord, indeed, it must not.
Keep silence, and observe.
The aforesaid and Garibaldo with a party of
Vain and unprofitable kisses those,
Which to cold tombs you give, Rodelinda!
And yet, by such, you may redeem a Kingdom.
(That fell traitor Garibaldo!)
(Once more I beg your patience; curb your anger.)
Perfidious Wretch! Distresses and misfortunes
sink me so low that thou darest take upon thee
t`intrude thy bold discourse.
Thus Grimaldo greets thee then, and hear it:
He claims direct obedience to his will;
No bargaining for love – no contracts or
disputes. Or this night take him to your arms,
And, while you may, with him, embrace good
fortune, or else prepare –
Prepare – for what? Perhaps for death you mean,
why let it come, `tis welcome,
I have nought else to f
ear, nor aught to hope.
Hast thou nought else to fear?
Say`st thou so? Then leave this boy with me.
Takes her child from her.
(Still let me beg your patience.)
His eminent danger,
perhaps, will bring your pride a little lower,
teach you a needful lesson to grow wiser.
Grimoaldo does consent
Once more to place your fortune in your choice;
but then determine briefly which you choose,
death for your son, or with his life a throne.
Yes yes, false man, I understand thee well,
This is the wicked counsel, that you gav`st him.
Well, since it must be so, restore my son.
Takes back her son.
Back to thy lord return with this reply:
Tell him, I give myself in marriage to him,
and on those terms accept the crown he offers.
(Ah, miserable me! then I am dead indeed !)
(O heavens! What is`t I hear!)
But tremble thou, vile counsellor, for fear,
unworthy minister, thou`lt have cause to fear,
I, as thy judge, thee, traitor, will arraign
and thou ́rt as sure to die as I to reign.
Yes, thou shalt die – I’ll make that head
the step, by which to thrones I’ll tread.
I`ll claim it of my new-made spouse,
he’ll grant it to cement our vows.
I know no gift will please me more
that he can grant, or I implore.
Yes, thou etc.
Bertarido and Unulfo, hidden. Garibaldo,
Grimoaldo and guards.
Well then, my Duke, and is there room for
may I expect some comfort from your project?
Oh yes, my Lord – fair Rodelinda`s yours.
Say, is it possible, what you now tell me?
My Lord, `tis surely so – you are most happy,
But as for me, I’m a dead man – that’s certain.
What can this mean? Saidst thou not dead?
If she regains the Kingdom, she has sworn
to hurl the bolt of vengeance at my head;
I’m to be made a victim.
Banish that fear;beneath my laurels shalt
thou stand protected,
against the thunder of her wrath secure.
Thro` thy means, if I enjoy her,
what or whom hast thou to dread?
Justice strikes, as I employ her,
Strikes, when kings demand a head.
Bertarido and Unulfo
O my Unulfo, is this constancy?
And do I live, unhappy me?
Is this the boasted faith?
To the first menaces, the very first,
She yielded forwardly,
surrender`d almost e`re the assault was made.
I’ll see and let her know, my lord,
you still are living.
By no means that – that shall not be
And would you then –
It must not be – thus constancy in her
is mere necessity, and not a virtue:
My lord, I must confess, I’m at a loss,
I’m not myself, an know not what to think.
Hope still the best, and lay aside despair,
while thus dejected and alone I go
to seek for comfort, and appease your woe.
Great and cruel are the blows,
fate does to the brave oppose,
yet not mortal, though they’re great,
to brave souls that face their fate.
But when Cupid throws his darts,
he both wise and brave confounds,
when he strikes the noblest hearts
then he deals the deadliest wounds.
Yes, let my faithless wife still think me dead,
plight to her new-chose spouse the self-same
faith, she kept so well to me.
Then let her know I live, and, blushing, find
the fickle promise of her female mind
light as a leaf, that’s sporting in the wind.
Let my false and perjured bride,
whose grief was all fictitious pride,
let her be with pain surrounded,
she, that in the face of death,
mock`d the mourner’s murm`ring breath,
let her fall with shame confounded.
Tho` she won my belief,
when she acted her grief,
tears, false as my reported death, she shed,
An kill`d the living, while she mourn`d the
The end of the first act
A great hall
Edwig and Garibaldo
Madam, you see, you’ve lost beyond repair
the name of wife and title of a queen.
Touch that harsh note no more – already grief
makes too much progress in my aching heart.
But then, my friend and counsellor,
what can`st thou do? what think of to assist me?
Trust in me, Edwig.
Give but the least assurance to my hopes,
smile on my love, and by that love, I swear,
that I’ll maintain your title to the throne.
Then trust me, when I promise to be yours.
No, you must make yourself, this minute, mine,
it must be so, my truly wedded wife.
Is that a right request,
to claim rewards, before the service done?
When I am vested with so fair a title,
the name of traitor, in the name of husband,
will be quite lost – none, then, will call me rebel
this matter claims your speediest resolution.
Oh could you only see my heart –
I see it through and through – and so adieu,
not me you love, not me, ungrateful maid,
thou lov`st the man that has thy love betray`d.
Edwig, Rodelinda and Flavio
Is Rodelinda with such a melancholy face returned
from the enjoyments of a bridal bed,
and the possession of her new gained throne?
Or sad, or joyful, let me be, no matter;
thee, as thy Queen, I can command, at pleasure
Do`st trust to Grimoaldo, trust to him,
that perjured traitor,
monster of a rebel,
who broke his faith to Gondibert and me?
Then Grimaldo was a Duke,
but now he is a King.
And I, who made, can
soon unmake that King,
I’ll hurl the bolt of vengeance, flaming hot
at his perfidious head - soon will he find
his laurels, by my thunder, changed, become
a cypress, and his blasted throne a tomb.
My love, to fury changed, his heart shall shake,
such keen revenge on that false man, I’ll take,
by his example others shall beware,
nor, trembling, dare t`incense the slighted fair.
My love etc.
Rodelinda and Flavio, Grimoaldo, Unulfo,
Garibaldo and guards
And is, m
y Rodelinda, is this true?
Most certain, Grimoaldo,
I yield, surrender, trust myself to you.
(Avert it heavens!)
But swear you will religiously observe
one compact first – and then – as you shall
please – name me your spouse, or but your
humble hand maid.
Ay ther`s her aim – now `tis my head she wants.
Ask what you wilt, ask anything,
aught but the death of - -
Right, ask anything but that.
`Tis vanity in souls so vile as his
to fear my noble rage would stoop so low.
Say then, dear charmer, and complete my wishes
say but thy will – I’m sworn – and will fulfil it.
Then take the style of bloody and inhumane,
names that will suit thee well,
with thy own hand, before my very eyes,
take this my son, and murder him. – Fulfil it,
so may thy glory, all, all,
in that one crime lie buried.
(What is`t I hear!)
Are these –
Yes, these, these are my last firm sentiments.
Sure, you are far from earnest, or you dream?
No, I don’t dream, nor do I now deceive you,
I cannot be, at once, a tyrant’s wife
and mother of a young and lawful king
I cannot to this chas
te and modest bosom,
clasp, at one time, my son and foe together.
Say duke, was this the way,
that Rodelinda would become my wife?
Yes, upon this condition,
I offer you my hand. Think well, and know,
if you my spouse, and I your consort be,
I wed revenge, and you wed death in me.
(How artful she works his passion up,
and what a faithful pattern to her sex.)
How are my vast designs all cross`d at once!
Cruel men, o hear me swear,
to my son I give my heart,
you may raise my grief and fear
but can never make me part.
Me that husband never shall
in his marriage bonds, enthral,
that has been my greatest foe,
only cause of all my woe.
Grimoaldo, Unulfo, Garibaldo and guards
Unulfo, Garibaldo, in this bosom
expir`d all the hopes that love once nourish`d,
but love itself won’t die, that will survive
large as it was, and undiminished still.
Summon, my Lord, your virtue to your aid
and fence and guard your heart with that.
O that can never be,
that faith, that in her bosom shines confest
lights up my love the more and fires my breast.
Let love then, to her inward charms confin`d,
forget her face and doat upon her mind.
What further trial is there left for me?
Stand not amaz`d at false appearances,
but take her at her word,- she’ll soon recall it.
And would you then behold him stain his hands
with the blood royal of an guiltless infant?
The voice of virtue
finds no admittance through a lover’s ear,
or, if it does, passes, unheeded, through it,
and reaches not the heart.
Captive is my soul in chains,
but so pleasing are its pains,
that it wishes not to be,
if it could, at liberty.
Dost thou, o Duke, preach such unworthy
maxims, whisper such guilty counsels in his
ears, to whom `tis giv`n to hear majestick way?
Yes, for I `d have the man,
who is a tyrant, like a tyrant act.
And would you? –
Ay, I would have him perjur`d, to a proverb,
and fam`d for violation of his faith.
But would you? –
Would? - I would havem him, by impurest
methods, lay snares for honesty, and stain it fouly.
Would you? –
Ay more, still more, I `d have him special cruel,
full of unjust, blood thirsty, murdering maxims –
And spill blood-royal, even to profusion?
Ha! Mean`st thou not so?
Even just so – most certainly.
For so usurpers make their title good,
and live up to the meaning of their name.
As he by tyranny procur`d the crown,
by blood he must secure his reign.
Pity but weakly props a tott`ring throne
which nought, but rigour can maintain.
As he... etc.
Thro` all storms, that wreck my breast
a calm of joy at length appears,
and blessed with truth, in her I love,
at once I banish all my cares.
A delightful prospect
Bertarido, then Eduig, and afterwards Unulfo
With hoarse, rough murm`ring streams,
each brook, each river, running by,
to make most mournful musick, seems
all, sighing, to my sighs reply.
In half-choak`d accents, and a broken sound,
the mountains seem, relenting,
to echo my lamenting,
and caves on caves rebound.
(entering on the other side)
It seems to me most like the living voice
of my poor (late departed) brother –
It is most like it - - or delusion steals
fast on the sense, that fancies, what it likes.
With hoarse, rough murm`ring streams etc.
Ah no! impossible! – I `m not deceived,
his voice, face, air, they
cannot, all, deceive me.
It’s he – my brother lives – and, tho` disguis`d
in foreign garb, I know him well - `tis he.
I am discover`d
don’t or do my eyes behold alright!
and art thou living still!
What, is my life then worth one sigh of yours,
and did it coast that groan?
O no! I pry` thee now for bear thy sighing`,
I am not he that you mistook me for –
Bertarido had a throne – he, he had friends,
had vassals, that, depending, watched his nod,
had princes, join`d to him in closed alliance,
he had a wife too – gracious heavens! - he had
a seeming faithful and a constant wife! –
but ah! for me – I’m not that happy man –
I am weight`d down with woes, and to
increase them, nought, but the memory of blessings lost,
fills my dark soul and surely haunts reflection.
Some causal heat – some rage by accident
may flacken for a while the ties between us,
but nought can quite dissolve those bands of union,
which nature tasten`d with her utmost strength,
and joined so close together. – If I, your sister,
if I have help ́d to wrest a Kingdom from you,
there’s Rodelinda has reveng`d your wrongs.
́T was not, believe me sister, not a kingdom,
that was so much the object of my wishes,
to draw me hither - ́t was not that, which
made me, or put on this disguise, or form the
project of my pretended death – no, no, it was not
that, my whole design center`d in this alone,
that I might steal my wife and only son,
these dearest pledges,
from the tyrant’s hands,
and bear, o far away, to share my exile,
Those precious remnants of my shipwreck`d
(So then – at last I’ve found him – but who’s
there? The secret is all out, and he discover`d.)
And yet this one, this sole content,
which fate might sure,
methinks, have lent,
invidious fate denies;
for when I turn my wretched eyes,
those wretched eyes, so turned, survey,
a wife, that does her vows betray.
That is, of all your late mistakes, the greatest,
your Rodelinda is most faithful to you.
What say`st thou, my Unulfo,
is that most certain truth?
A wife, more true, more faithful and more
constant, no heart, that fed on fondness, e`er
could wish for.
To free your Rodelinda and young Flavio
is then, it seems, the sum of all your wishes?
I’ve not a wish beyond it.
Then I’ll be bound to give your heart full ease,
and, setting yours, I set my own at peace.
Come, my good lord, `tis now no longer needful
to keep it as a secret from your wife
that you are living.
Lead on, my friend, I
soon will follow thee,
my heart reposes all its trusts in thee.
If your dread anger be upon my head,
take, take for ever, if
you please, my throne,
and take my subjects fro
m me, take them all,
do but restore my Rodelinda to me,
chaste are my hopes and faithful are my
wishes, take all beside, and prostrate, I will thank you.
The swallow, driven from her nest
to other shores retires.
But, if with her companion blest,
she no more bliss desires,
pleased with her love, she never can complain,
but joyful builds the little house again.
The swallow etc.
A gallery in Rodelindas apartment
Rodelinda and Unulfo
My spouse still living, say you?
Living, my Queen, and longing to embrace
At such a sudden turn, joy springs too fast,
my heart might fail me out of to much transport,
yet, ah, I know not, but it sinks with fear.
Fears, at this time, are most importunate,
and out of envy to the blessings there,
crowd to disturb your breast, and damp your
Pray you, with all the haste imaginable,
let me my Lord Bertarido behold,
dear to my eyes as light – and to my heart
dear as the vital drops
that flow within it.
He shall, with all dispatch, be safe conducted.
What do these strange, unusual heavings
mean, like as `twere somewhat boding in my soul?
My heart beats fast and flatters in my breast,
whether `tis caus`d by joy or fear, I know not.
Return my dear, my life return,
return my joy, my treasure.
This hopeless heart shan`t pant and mourn,
but pant and dance for pleasure.
Come my love, come quick away,
then to relieving,
me from grieving,
joy shall sorrow overpay.
Rodelinda, then Bertarido, and to them
Grimoaldo with guards
See, see, he comes, the lord of my desires,
my life, my soul, my all!
(runs to embrace him.)
Hold, for I am, by no means, worthy, yet,
to taste the blessing of thy chaste embraces,
since I dar`d call thy wond`rous trust in
O let me first, upon my bended knees,
prostrate before thee, in the humblest manner,
implore thy pardon for my false suspicions,
absolve me, virtuous beauty, from that crime,
then, chear`d and pardon`d, clasp me to thy
Beneath the vaulted heavens, her`s nought
sufficient, to cool and damp the fervour of our love,
with the raw qualms of fore-ey`d jealousy.
Ah, thou`rt my soul –Embraces him.
Shall I believe my eyes – is this your chaste
Is this the boasted constancy of faith,
which you, (o Rodelinda) would preserve
tow`rds your departed spouse?
Was is, for this, that, when a king, your lover
offer`d to take you by the hand, his bride,
and lead you up, all sparkling, to his throne?
You threw him from you like some loath`d
and spurn`d at him with insolence of pride?
(Thank heav`ns, he knows not that it is my
husband, o love assist me now, o help to save
him, save but my husbands life – let honour suffer
the wrongs of each rash judgement – on that
score, I will be a willing sufferer.)
Oh thou, quite lost to modesty,
hast me one word to offer for thyself?
Say, what defence,
what stories art thou framing in the head,
and what excuse to varnish ov`r thy guilt?
How could`st thou stoop to some stray goat of
lewdness, thou, that could`st scorn a monarchs
All this, indeed, is true.
(And shall I, out of base and servile fear
permit her honour to be blasted thus,
permit her virtue, white as new fall`n snow,
to be thus tainted by detractions breath?
No, welcome death, so but her honour lives!)
No, Grimoaldo, wrongfully you tax
of falsehoods vile and foul impurity
the truest, chastest and sincerest heart.
Chaste, where the fond embraces, that you saw,
place`d, where they due, within a husbands
arms, know, I am he, my name Bertarido!
That story will not pass - - `tis known too well,
Ay, that Bertarido is long since dead.
He feign`d it well, howev`r, to save my honour.
To prove, that `tis no fiction, that I`m he,
you need but think, that to pr eserve my life,
sits nearer to her heart, than her own honour.
Him to safe custody – for you, now hear me,
be he your stallion, or your spouse, no matter.
Take him once more and clasp him to your
bosom, you’ve my consent to that, I shan`t dispute,
if these embraces lawful be or no,
but you shall take your farewell of them now,
and never meet again.
If he’s your spark, my rival he,
and if your spouse, my foe,
to me no matter, which he be,
he to the shades shall go.
A sacrifice to that embrace,
thy blood shall, sure, be spilt,
if `twas not chaste, or if it was,
still equal is the guilt.
Was `t not sufficient, oh my husband, was `t not
to stab me thro` the heart with distant news,
cruel advices of thy death abroad,
in foreign lands, and in the midst of strangers;
but love must guide you, to inflict a wound
sharper and deeper in my panting bosom,
to come here to me, and to fall a victim
before my very eyes.
Ah, my dear spouse,
I place that down to fortune’s other hardships,
but yet, methinks, it is a pleasure too,
since `twas in fate that I must be betray ́d,
that I was so agreeable betray`d,
with you, and for your honours sake.
With this embrace I bid adieu.
ah, rather could I wish to die.
But greater pangs I yet must bear,
since heav`n that blessing will deny.
Eduige and Unulfo
Now while my brother is indanger`d thus,
my love, my jealousy, my blood, my
and all the counsel, I could wish, are injured
and ev`ry hope I shipwreck`d, once again.
Fierce Grimoaldo, obstinate in fury,
condemns Bertarido, and vows his death.
But cannot thy officious zeal find means,
to steal him from his
fate, and loose his
How is it possible to compass that?
Is he not pris`ner to thy care committed?
`Tis true, and Grimoaldo grants you liberty
to visit him, at pleasure, in the prison,
but where’s the use of it and what avails it?
This is a key, that in the prison opens
a passage thro` a subterraneous vault
that leads directly to the royal garden.
Thither I can conduct his Rodelinda,
by that blind way we’ll free him from the
prison, and o`er the walls leave his escape to me.
Bless`d with your aid and counsel, I can’t find it
an enterprise too difficult; `twill joy my soul,
to draw so brave a hero from his fate.
and if I could but save my lord and master,
my life were, too well, spent in such a cause.
Hopes, like Zephirs, gently blowing,
sweet refreshments still bestowing,
set my troubl`d heart at ease.
O could I my sovereign save,
I no greater bliss could crave,
cou`d enjoy no firmer peace.
By this one act of justice, I would cancel
the black enormity of that vast crime,
which, let by blind ambition for a crown,
I, late, committed. Nor do I doubt preserving
Bertarido, the Prince, and Rodelinda.
Fierce and more fierce, tho` tempests rise,
I raise proportion`d hopes, and go,
and place the port before my eyes,
and doubt not, safe, to lend the prize,
tho` winds on winds should blow.
Grimoaldo, Garibaldo and guards
Or Bertarido is false, or false the letter
from the Hungarian king – but be`t as `twill,
the jealousy, that’s owing to a crown
demands his death.
conflicts shake my wav`ring heart,
now sad suspicions sway my restless soul,
now love, now hope, now fear all combate
there, and glory next, and jealousy of empire.
This should, above all other thoughts,
and this alone prevail – be he or right or wrong –
kill Bertarid, and then you’ll kill suspicion.
Or be he really so, or but pretends it,
should I kill Bertarid,
how could I ever hope to make my peace
And while he lives as husband, true or feign`d,
how can you hope for peace?
Again you sigh, and yet you suffer scorns,
and take no warning from those sufferings,
what measures best will ease them;
Eduig and Rodelinda both combine
to heighten all your sorrows with disdain:
or he must cease to live, or you to reign.
Amidst suspicions, hopes, and fears
my heart distracted is with anguish,
now `tis bold, and now despairs,
now does rage and now does languish.
A very dark dungeon
Bertarido, and, afterwards, Unulfo
Say, blind love, say, cruel fate,
which of you most deserves my hate,
which of you prov`d the greatest cheat?
By cruel fate compell`d to fly,
I lost the seat of majesty
by love betray`d, in chains I lie.
Say blind etc.
Say, which of you – but hark,
there’s something, but I know not, what it is,
as from some distant height, fell at my feet,
but here the thick obscure and darksome air
forbids the eye the sight of any objects.
(Gropes on the earth.)
Oh I have found it out
– from some most friendly hand
this sword was, surely, thrown – as who
should say: Takes this and grasp it in thy own defence,
and smite the first, that should oppose thy passage
This, if thou wilt, may favour thy escape;
for what remains, leave to the care of friends.
(He draws the sword.)
Yes, I will grasp thee,
o thou friendly blade,
thou trusty steel – but see the prison gates
appear to open – death’s dire minister,
perhaps, approaches – now my just wrath is up
and rising indignation fires my soul –
die, traitor, die
(Smites Unulfo, just as he enters)
Bertarido? My liege? My king?
What have I done, Unulfo, wretched me!
Your wish for liberty, my lord, ‘ s not great,
when thus you wound the arm, that would
Oh curs`d unlucky hand!
My dear, my much lov`d friend! Ungrateful
Bertarid, blind fatal Horror!
O thou curs`d steel, fram
`d in some evil hour,
and, here, in some most unlucky season thrown.
(Throws away the sword.)
No more –
these moments are too precious to be spent
in such complaints as these.
Your life and safety are of more concern
than is my wound: this garb, that’s known too
well, please, my good lord, to lay aside, and take
this sword once more, to serve a better purpose.
Quick let us fly, for ev`ry moments stay,
drags fate along and threatens our delay.
My friend, you, now, I most am guilty, set me free.
Hark! Sure I hear the tread of people near,
let us make haste, for fear the jealous keeper.
Come unawares, and blast our good design.
My foot and hand commit an equal guilt
that trample on the blood, that this has spilt.
(They go by a secret passage out of the prison.)
Eduig, who leads Rodelinda by the hand, and
Be not afraid, my lord –
Brother? – So dark and so obscure the dungeon,
there is no seeing any thing.
Alas! He is struck dumb with terror,
as he, indeed, has reason.
I will provide a light.
(Eduig goes out of the prison.)
Oh my Bertarido! My heart’s best consort!
Still thou repliest not?
Perhaps, thy wearied eyes are clos ́d in sleep,
where are you, my dear lord – where are you
hid, in this sad darkness, from my longing eyes?
(Eduig returns with a light)
Alas! I was too true a prophetess –
see here the spoils, the
garments of Bertarido!
And the floor round it swimming fresh with blood
See, it reeks still! What fee seek I more? – o wretched!
This blood yet warm, this well known mantle
here declare my dear dear lord is –
grief choaks me up, and I can say no more.
And ah, what comfort can my grief afford thee,
what will condoling thee supply of ease?
Eduig, thy brother’s dead,
the king, thy father, o thou young orphan, `s
dead, my spouse is dead – he’s dead, gone, lost
O my too slow and sluggish pity came
when `twas too late,
and with defensive steel armed him in vain.
Where is that charitable hand at least,
that would` present me with his cold, cold urn,
that on his ashes I might print my kisses,
and o`er the reliques of that worship`d man,
prevent my doom, and weep myself to death?
Since my grief’s too weak to end me,
who’ll, in pity, take my part,
who the piercing dagger lent me,
or transfix and free my heart?
Who, from worse of pangs of death
will, in pity to my woe,
set me free! My parting breath
shall bless the hand that gave the blow.
A royal garden
Bertarido, who supports Unulfo wounded
Trust me, beyond my own unhappy fortune,
thy wound does grieve me much.
My lord, only my arm receive`d your valour`s proof,
and for the wound, it is far from dangerous.
(Bertarido takes up a bandage and ties up the
arm of Unulfo.)
O let me reach the hand of pity to you,
and help to stop the passage of the blood.
My king, I’m lost in deep confusion,
but now it’s fit that
I should go and seek
the queen, your consort, and the prince, your
son; meanwhile amongst these
trees conceal yourself
till I return, from ev`ry threat`ning danger.
I’ll yet conceal myself; nor longer fear
the hart commands of an imperious tyrant.
Since heav`n has set me free, I wish no more
but trust my fortune to my courage.
Thus when a savage beast in snares is caught,
he fiercely roars and bites the rattling chain,
but when, to liberty restored, he roams,
the trembling prey their safety seek in vain.
Into a hell itself my breast is turn`d,
I have three furies reigning in my heart
arm`d with more scourges than hell’s furies are;
Love, Jealousy and Indignation.
Methinks, I by some Cerberus am gnaw`d,
the dog of many mouths; such my remorse is,
it barks aloud – it’s cries torment my ear
howling it seems to cry – thou, Grimoaldo,
thou`rt a rank traitor, perj`ror, usurper,
a most flagitious tyrant.
But try, my wearied eye, if this sweet air
can sooth you to a gentle short repose,
here, Grimoaldo, try to favour sleep,
and if, among the fountains and the flowers,
you find the balmy ease leaf, then ye` leave
of haughty palaces th`uneasy thrones
for the souls rest is precious above crowns.
The little shepherd of some scanty flock,
sleeps with content, enjoys his ease,
beneath the spreading beech, or spacious oak,
while I, a king, can find no peace.
In vain by gold and purple made,
I can command the stately shade,
since, when I strive for sleep, still fly
peace from my breast, and slumber from my eye
The little etc.
Grimoaldo asleep, and Garibaldo
What do I see!
How friendly fortune seconds my designs!
With his own sword, and by that very hand,
which lately fix`d the crown upon his head,
by that right hand he falls.
(He takes the sword from Grimoaldos side,
who, wakening, speaks)
What treachery is ? –
What horrid treason` s this?
Who robb`d me of my sword?
Die, tyrant, die!
Grimoaldo, Garibaldo, Bertarido, afterwards
guards, and after them Rodelinda, leading
Flavio by the hand)
Traitor, `tis thou shalt die – away to death!
(Drives him off the stage)
O heav`ns! Guards! – Who was there!
Who was t`defend me! – Could it be?
Was it Bertarido –
(The guards come up)
Yes, `tis Bertarido, that you have murdered
o most unworthy man!
There, Grimoaldo, I restore thy sword,
(throws it at Grimoaldos feet)
What vision’s this?
Or do I wake, or dream, or am I mad?
Then you’re, in very deed, Bertarido?
What greater proof could you desire or wish
of his unconquer`d soul?
But who could set you from your fetters free?
Scene the last
Unulfo, then Eduig, and the aforesaid
See you before the guilty –
I could not, even w
ithout horror, see
a brother languishing beneath his chains.
If to Bertarido you all are friends,
then I receive you too as friends of mine,
who owe my life to him.
Eduig, my wife, I clasp thee to my heart
and on the throne of Pavia, due to you,
I’ll sit and reign, renouncing all besides.
(Taking Bertarido by the hand)
Milan, behold thy king, and homage pay,
to him, thy first and only lawful lord,
No, Grimoaldo, I nought ask but this –
Take, take your son,, your spouse, and take
We now, my love, are out of danger’s reach.
While I embrace you, o embrace the child.
Thy sighs, thy sobs, my love give o ́er,
my heart is now, no longer, sore,
and grief and pain shall feel no more.
Seeing thee pleased,
has hush`d my care,
come to my breast, its pleasures share,
now love has fix`d his dwelling there.
My spouse, my son, my sister and my friends,
into my bosom I receive you all,
how is my heart indebted to you all.
Let festivals and great rejoicings reach
to the last limits of our kingdom
and let the present joy our subjects taste
be equal to the suff`rings that are past.
As after some dark dismal night
a day more bright,
a sky more clear,
with lovely light
the eye does chear;
o`er natures face the sun displays
stronger beams and warmer rays.
So, when sorrows are blown over
joy the son of gallant woe,
does true solid bliss recover,
which does out of virtue grow.