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Voltaire, The Works of Voltaire, Vol. IX The Dramatic Works Part 1 (Alzire, Orestes, Sémiramis, Catiline, Pandora) and Part II (The Scotch Woman, Nanine, The Prude, The Tatler). [1901]

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Voltaire, From The Works of Voltaire, A Contemporary Version, (New York: E.R. DuMont, 1901), A Critique and Biography by John Morley, notes by Tobias Smollett, trans. William F. Fleming. Vol. IX The Dramatic Works Part 1 (Alzire, Orestes, Sémiramis, Catiline, Pandora) and Part II (The Scotch Woman, Nanine, The Prude, The Tatler). http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2197

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About this Title:

Volume 9 of the 21 volume 1901 edition of the Complete Works. It contains 9 plays: Alzire, Orestes, Sémiramis, Catiline, Pandora, The Scotch Woman, Nanine, The Prude, The Tatler.

Copyright information:

The text is in the public domain.

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This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.

Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [i]

The WORKS of VOLTAIRE

Between two servants of Humanity, who appeared eighteen hundred years apart, there is a mysterious relation. * * * * Let us say it with a sentiment of profound respect: JESUS WEPT: VOLTAIRE SMILED. Of that divine tear and of that human smile is composed the sweetness of the present civilisation.

VICTOR HUGO.
Edition: current; Page: [ii]

College of Du Page Instructional Resources Center

Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Presented by

Mr. & Mrs.

Henry A. Diekmann

Edition: current; Page: [iii]
lf0060-09_figure_001.jpg
Edition: current; Page: [iv]
THE WORKS OF VOLTAIRE
A CONTEMPORARY VERSION
A CRITIQVE & BIOGRAPHY BY The RT. HON. JOHN MORLEY Notes by Tobias Smollelt Revised and Modernized New Translations by William F. Fleming and an Introduction by Oliver H.G.Leigh
TWENTY-TWO VOLVMES

One hundred & sixty-eight designs, comprising reproductions of rare old engravings, steel plates, photogravures & curious fac-similes.

DONE BY THE CRAFTSMEN OF THE ST. HUBERT GVILD
Edition: current; Page: [v]

Copyright, 1901,

By E. R. DuMont

Owned by

The St. Hubert Guild

New York

Edition: current; Page: [vi]

THE DRAMATIC WORKS OF VOLTAIRE Vol. IX—Part I

Edition: current; Page: [vii] Edition: current; Page: [viii]

CONTENTS

  • ALZIRE: Dramatis PersonÆ . . . page 4
    • Act I . . . . . . . 5
  • ORESTES: Dedication . . . . 65
    • Dramatis PersonÆ . . . . . 68
    • Act I . . . . . . . 69
  • SÉMIRAMIS: Dramatis PersonÆ . . 146
    • Act I . . . . . . . 147
  • CATILINE: Dramatis PersonÆ . . . 226
    • Act I . . . . . . . 227
  • PANDORA: Dramatis PersonÆ . . . 290
    • Act I . . . . . . . 291
Edition: current; Page: [ix] Edition: current; Page: [1]

LIST OF PLATES
Part I

Edition: current; Page: [2] Edition: current; Page: [3]

ALZIRE

Edition: current; Page: [4]

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

Don Guzman, Governor of Peru.

DON ALVAREZ, { Father of Guzman, and late Governor.

Zamor, Sovereign of a Part of Potosi.

Montezuma, Sovereign of another Part.

Alzire, Daughter of Montezuma.

EMIRA, } Attendants on Alzire.
CEPHALE. }

Spanish Officers.

Americans.

Scene, Lima.

In his preface to this play Voltaire says; “This tragedy, the fable of which is invented, and almost of a new species, was written with a view of showing how far superior the spirit of true religion is to the light of nature. The religion of a barbarian consists in offering up to his gods the blood of his enemies; a Christian badly instructed has seldom much more humanity: to be a strict observer of some unnecessary rites and ceremonies, and at the same time deficient in the most essential duties, to say certain prayers at particular times, and carefully to conceal his vices; this is his religion: that of a true Christian is to look upon all mankind as his brethren, to do them all the good in his power and pardon their offences: such is Guzman at the hour of death, and Alvarez during the whole course of his life; such a man was Henry IV., as I have described him, even with all his foibles: in every part of my writings I have endeavored to enforce that humanity which ought to be the distinguishing characteristic of a thinking being: the reader will always find in them (if I may venture to say so much of my own works) a desire to promote the happiness of all men, and an abhorrence of injustice and oppression: it is this, and this alone, which hath hitherto saved them from that obscurity to which their many inperfections would otherwise long since have condemned them.”

Edition: current; Page: [5]

ACT I.

SCENE I.

alvarez, guzman.

alvarez.
  • At length, for so the council hath decreed,
  • Guzman succeeds Alvarez; long, my son,
  • Mayest thou preserve for heaven and for thy king
  • This better half of our new conquered world,
  • This fertile source of riches and of crimes!
  • Joyful to thee I yield the post of honor,
  • That suits but ill with feeble age like mine;
  • In youth thy father trod the paths of glory;
  • Alvarez first our winged castles bore
  • To Mexico’s astonished sons; he led
  • Spain’s gallant heroes to this golden shore:
  • After a life spent in my country’s service,
  • Could I have formed these heroes into men,
  • Could I have made them virtuous, mild, and good,
  • I had been amply paid for all my toils:
  • But who shall stop the haughty conqueror?
  • Alas! my son, their cruelties obscure
  • The lustre of their fame; I weep the fate
  • Of these unhappy victors, raised by heaven
  • To greatness but to be supremely wicked.
  • O Guzman, I am verging to the grave,
  • Let me but live to see thee govern here
  • As justice shall direct thee, and I die
  • With pleasure.
Edition: current; Page: [6]
guzman.
  • By thy great example fired,
  • With thee I fought and conquered for my country;
  • From thee must learn to rule: it is not mine
  • To give the wise and good Alvarez laws,
  • But to receive them from him.
alvarez.
  • No; my son,
  • The sovereign power can never be divided:
  • Worn down with years and labor, I resign
  • All worldly pomp; it is enough for me
  • If yet my feeble voice be sometimes heard
  • To counsel and direct thee; trust me, Guzman,
  • Men are not creatures one would wish to rule:
  • To that almighty being, whom too long
  • I have neglected, would I consecrate
  • My poor remains of life; one boon alone,
  • As friend, I ask of thee, as father claim;
  • To give me up those slaves who by your order
  • Are here confined; this day, my son, should be
  • A day of pardon, marked by clemency,
  • And not by justice.
guzman.
  • A request from you
  • Is a command; but think, my lord, I beg,
  • What dangers may ensue: a savage people,
  • But half subdued, and to the yoke of slavery
  • Bending reluctant, ready for revolt,
  • Should never be familiar with their conquerors,
  • Or dare to look on those they should be taught
  • To tremble at: unarmed with power and vengeance
  • They would despise us: these untutored Indians,
  • Fiery and bold, ill brook the galling rein
  • Edition: current; Page: [7]
  • Of servitude, by chastisement alone
  • Made tame, and humble, pardoned once, they think
  • You fear them; power, in short, is lost by mildness;
  • Severity alone insures obedience.
  • The brave Castilian serves in honor’s cause,
  • With cheerful resignation, ’tis his pride,
  • His glory; but inferior nations court
  • Oppression; force and only force constrains them:
  • Did not the gods of these barbarians drink
  • The blood of men, they would not be adored.
alvarez.
  • And can a Christian, as thou art, approve
  • These tyrant maxims, the detested offspring
  • Of narrow policy? are these the means
  • To win the wild barbarian to our faith?
  • Thinkest thou to rule them with an iron hand,
  • And serve a God of peace with war and slaughter?
  • Braved I for this the burning tropic’s rage,
  • And all the terrors of a world unknown,
  • To see our country cursed, our faith disgraced?
  • God sent us here for other purposes,
  • Sent us to make his holy name revered,
  • His sacred laws beloved: whilst we, my son,
  • Unmindful of that faith which we profess,
  • The laws we teach, and all the tender ties
  • Of soft humanity, insatiate still
  • For blood and gold, instead of winning o’er
  • These savages by gentle means, destroy them.
  • All is confusion, death, and horror round us,
  • And nought have we of heaven but its thunder;
  • Our name indeed bears terror with it; Spain
  • Is feared, but hated too: we are the scourge
  • Of this new world, vain, covetous, unjust;
  • In short, I blush to own it, we alone
  • Edition: current; Page: [8]
  • Are the barbarians here: the simple savage,
  • Though fierce by nature, is in courage equal,
  • In goodness our superior. O my Guzman,
  • Had he, like us, been prodigal of blood,
  • Had he not felt the throbs of tender pity,
  • Alvarez had not lived to speak his virtues:
  • Hast thou forgot that day, when by a crowd
  • Of desperate natives I was circled in
  • On every side, and all my faithful band
  • Of followers cut off; alone I stood,
  • And every moment looked for death, when, lo;
  • At mention of my name, they dropped their arms;
  • And straight a young American approached me,
  • Embraced my knees, and bathed them with his tears;
  • And “is it you,” he cried, “is it my friend?
  • Live, good Alvarez, virtue pure as thine
  • May be most useful to us; be a father
  • To the unhappy; let thy tyrant nation,
  • That would enslave us, learn from hence—to pardon,
  • And own a savage capable of virtue.”
  • I see you are moved; O hearken to the voice
  • Of mild humanity, by me she speaks,
  • By me addresses Guzman; O my son,
  • Canst thou expect the object of thy wishes,
  • The fair Alzire ever will crown thy hopes,
  • If thou art cruel? thinkest thou to cement
  • The dearest bonds of nature in the blood
  • Of her loved countrymen, or shall their groans
  • Be heard, and Guzman soften into mercy?
guzman.
  • ’Tis your command, my lord, and I submit;
  • They have their freedom, but on this condition,
  • Edition: current; Page: [9]
  • For so our laws require, they must be Christians:
  • To quit their idols, and embrace our faith,
  • Alone can save them; we must bend by force
  • Their stubborn hearts, and drag them to the altar;
  • One king must be obeyed, one God adored.
alvarez.
  • Hear me, my son, I wish, as much as Guzman,
  • That truth may fix her sacred empire here,
  • That neither heaven nor Spain henceforth may find
  • A foe on earth; but know, the heart oppressed
  • Is never conquered: I force none, yet I
  • Have conquered many; the true God, my son,
  • The God of Christians is a God of mercy.
guzman.
  • You’ve conquered, sir, the father over his son
  • Is absolute; and you, my lord, would soften
  • The hardest heart, whilst virtue by Alvarez
  • In mildest accents pleads her powerful cause:
  • O since kind heaven to thee hath lent the art
  • Of soft persuasion, use it for thy son,
  • On thee alone depends the happiness
  • Of Guzman’s life: the proud Alzire scorns
  • My proffered hand: I love her but too well,
  • Heaven knows how dearly! but I cannot stoop
  • Meanly to sooth a haughty woman’s pride,
  • I cannot make myself a poor tame slave
  • To her imperious will; but thou hast power
  • O’er the fair tyrant’s father; talk to him
  • For the last time; let him command his daughter
  • To take my hand, and make your Guzman happy;
  • And yet it hurts my soul to think Alvarez
  • Should stoop so low, and be a suppliant for me.
Edition: current; Page: [10]
alvarez.
  • Already I have spoke, and Montezuma
  • Hath seen his daughter; she will soon be thine.
  • I’ve been a friend to his unhappy race,
  • And soothed the sorrows of captivity:
  • Already he hath quitted his false gods;
  • Alzire too, a convert to our faith,
  • To this new world shines forth a bright example.
  • She only can unite the jarring nations,
  • And make us happy; thy long wished-for nuptials
  • Shall join two distant globes; these fierce barbarians,
  • Who now detest our laws, when they shall see
  • The daughter of their king in Guzman’s arms,
  • Cheerful beneath thy easy yoke shall bend
  • Their willing hearts, and soon be all our own:
  • But Montezuma comes; away, my son,
  • Expect me with Alzire at the altar.

SCENE II.

alvarez, montezuma.

alvarez.
  • At length, obedient to a father’s will,
  • Alzire yields, I hope, to thy persuasion.
montezuma.
  • If yet my daughter trembles at the thought
  • Of wedding him who has destroyed her race,
  • Alvarez will forgive a woman’s weakness;
  • For thou hast been a father to the wretched:
  • Thy gentle manners teach us to revere
  • That holy faith from whence they sprung; by thee
  • The will of heaven to this new world revealed,
  • Edition: current; Page: [11]
  • Enlightened our dark minds; what mighty Spain
  • Unconquered left, thy virtue has subdued:
  • Thy cruel countrymen’s remorseless rage
  • Had rendered even thy God detestable,
  • But that in thee His great perfections shine,
  • His goodness, and His mercy; in thy heart
  • We trace his image; Montezuma’s thine,
  • His daughter, and his house; the good Alvarez
  • Shall have them all: Potosi and Peru,
  • With my Alzire, shall descend to Guzman:
  • Prepare the nuptial rites, adorn your temple,
  • And let your son be ready to receive her:
  • Methinks it is as if the immortal beings
  • Had deigned to visit earth, and mix with men.
alvarez.
  • O Montezuma, let me live to see
  • This blest event, and I shall die content.
  • O God, whose gracious hand conducted us
  • To this new world, enlighten and preserve it;
  • Propitious smile on these first holy vows
  • Made at thy altar here! adieu, my friend,
  • To thee I owe my Guzman’s happiness.

SCENE III.

montezuma.
  • [Alone.
  • O thou true God, whose powerful arm destroyed
  • Those idle deities I once adored,
  • Watch o’er the poor remains of my sad life,
  • And sooth my sorrows; I have lost my all,
  • All but Alzire, O protect her youth,
  • Watch o’er her steps, and guide her tender heart!
Edition: current; Page: [12]

SCENE IV.

montezuma, alzire.

montezuma.
  • Daughter, the hour is come to make thyself
  • And the world happy, to command the conqueror,
  • And make the vanquished smile, restore thy country
  • To her lost honor, and to regal power
  • Rise from the bosom of adversity.
  • Alzire will obey, I know she will;
  • Dry up thy tears, a father must not see them.
alzire.
  • I have no will but yours; yet, O my lord,
  • See my despair, and look into my soul.
montezuma.
  • No more of that; thy word is passed, Alzire,
  • And I depend on it.
alzire.
  • ’Twas extorted from me;
  • The cruel sacrifice: is this a time
  • To plight my faith, and think of nuptial joy,
  • This hapless day, when all I held most dear
  • Was ravished from me, when our wide-stretched empire
  • And all her hosts, the children of the sun,
  • Inglorious fell beneath the cruel Guzman?
  • O ’twas a day marked by the hand of heaven
  • As most unfortunate.
montezuma.
  • Our days, Alzire,
  • Are happy or unhappy from ourselves,
  • Edition: current; Page: [13]
  • And not from circumstance or accident,
  • As superstition taught our ancestors
  • To credit; think no more on it.
alzire.
  • On this day
  • My Zamor fell, our country’s great avenger,
  • My lover, chosen by thee, by thee, my father,
  • To be Alzire’s husband.
montezuma.
  • I have paid
  • The debt of sorrow due to Zamor’s ashes,
  • And hold his memory dear; but death has cancelled
  • Your mutual bonds; therefore no longer shed
  • Those fruitless tears, but carry to the altar
  • A free and cheerful heart; thy God commands,
  • He calls thee to him; if thou art a Christian,
  • Now hear his voice.
alzire.
  • Alas! my lord, I know
  • A father’s power, and know my duty to him,
  • ’Tis to obey, to fall a sacrifice
  • Before him; I have passed the utmost bounds
  • Which nature ever prescribed; thy will alone
  • Hath been my law, nor did I ever stain
  • With disobedience my true faith, for thee
  • I left my country’s gods, and am a Christian:
  • Alas! my father, why wouldst thou deceive me,
  • Why tell me, the new deity I serve
  • Would bring me peace, that his all-healing power
  • Would ease my tortured heart? delusive promise!
  • For O my lord, the deadly poison still
  • Lurks in my veins, still Zamor’s image dwells
  • In his Alzire’s heart, nor time nor death
  • Edition: current; Page: [14]
  • Can e’er efface it: well I know Alvarez
  • Condemns that passion which he once approved:
  • But I will make him ample recompense
  • By my obedience:—wed me to the tyrant,
  • Give me to Guzman, ’tis a sacrifice
  • I owe my country; but remember, sir,
  • How dreadful ’tis, and tremble at the thought
  • Of such unnatural, such detested bonds,
  • Thou who condemnest me to these fatal nuptials,
  • Who bidst Alzire give her hand to Guzman,
  • And at the altar promise him a heart
  • Which is not hers to give.
montezuma.
  • What says my child?
  • O in the name of every tender tie
  • That binds thee to me, spare a wretched father!
  • Pity my age, and do not, by the woes
  • Which thou alone, Alzire, canst remove,
  • Let me entreat thee, O embitter not
  • The sad remainder of Alvarez’s life!
  • Have I not ever strove to make thee happy,
  • And wilt thou not return it? O my daughter,
  • Let virtue guide thy steps in duty’s path,
  • And lead thee on to bliss! thy country calls,
  • Wilt thou betray her? learn henceforth, Alzire,
  • To be the mistress of thyself.
alzire.
  • And must I
  • Learn to dissemble then? ungrateful task!
Edition: current; Page: [15]

SCENE V.

guzman, alzire.

guzman.
  • These long delays, Alzire, are unkind,
  • And, let me add, ungenerous, to the man
  • Who lives but to oblige you: for thy sake
  • I stopped the hand of justice; all those captives,
  • Whose pardon you solicited, are free:
  • But I should blush to think that Guzman owed
  • Thy kind compliance to so poor a service;
  • ’Tis on thyself, and thy consenting heart,
  • He founds his hopes, nor thought I ever till now
  • My happiness could make Alzire wretched.
alzire.
  • Wretched indeed! O grant, kind heaven, this day
  • May not prove fatal to us both! you see
  • I am abashed, confounded, left a prey
  • To horror and despair: do not these eyes
  • Alone betray the anguish of a mind
  • Oppressed with grief? canst thou not read it there?
  • I know thou canst: such is my nature, Guzman;
  • Ne’er did Alzire’s face belie her heart:
  • Dissimulation and disguise, my lord,
  • Are European arts, which I abhor.
guzman.
  • I love thy frankness, but lament the cause;
  • Zamor is still beloved, his memory lives
  • Within thy breast, my rival even in death:
  • This is too much, Alzire; duty, honor,
  • Virtue forbid it: weep no more, it wounds
  • My heart, and I am jealous of thy tears.
Edition: current; Page: [16]
alzire.
  • Jealous of him, my lord, who in the grave
  • Is mouldering now, my loved, lamented Zamor?
  • For I confess I loved him, we were bound
  • By mutual vows, and still I weep his fate:
  • If thou art a friend to constancy and truth,
  • Thou wilt not blame my passion, but approve it.
  • By this, and this alone, may Guzman gain
  • Alzire’s heart.

SCENE VI.

guzman.
  • [Alone.
  • Her pride astonishes,
  • And yet I know not how her freedom charms me:
  • There is a savage beauty in her heart
  • That suits the wildness of her native clime;
  • But softer manners may subdue her mind,
  • And bind her stubborn fierceness to the yoke
  • Of duty; Guzman now is lord of all,
  • And nought remains unconquered but Alzire:
  • Resolved by force or art to make her mine,
  • Our hands, if not our hearts, shall be united.

End of the First Act.

ACT II.

SCENE I.

zamor, americans.

zamor.
  • My noble friends, and fellow-sufferers,
  • Whom dangers strengthen, and misfortunes make
  • Edition: current; Page: [17]
  • But more illustrious, shall we ne’er obtain
  • Our sweet revenge, or honorable death?
  • Still must we live unable or to serve
  • Alzire, or our country; shall we never
  • Find out the hated Guzman, and destroy
  • That fell destroyer? O my country’s gods,
  • Powerless and vain, ye gave up this fair land
  • Of liberty to hostile deities;
  • And tamely suffered a few wandering Spaniards
  • To spoil your altars, lay your temples waste,
  • And desolate our empire; I have lost
  • A kingdom and Alzire; all is gone
  • But shame, and sorrow, and resentment, those
  • I carried with me to the burning sands
  • And gloomy deserts; there I cherished long
  • The secret hopes of vengeance: you, my friends
  • Revived your drooping Zamor, and inspired
  • His soul with flattering thoughts of better days:
  • Deep in the forest’s shade we left a band
  • Of chosen spirits, resolute and bold,
  • And hither came, impatient to observe
  • The walls upraised by our tremendous foe.
  • They watched, and seized us: in a dungeon long
  • Confined, at length our tyrant masters grant us
  • Leave to walk forth, and breathe the wholesome air,
  • Yet will not deign to let us know our fate:
  • Can none inform me where we are, who dwells
  • Within this seat of sorrow? where’s Alzire,
  • Where’s Montezuma, lives he, is he free,
  • Or a vile slave like Zamor? say, my friends,
  • And partners in affliction, know ye not?
an american.
  • Like you, my lord, in chains, and hither led
  • By secret paths, we’re ignorant of all:
  • Edition: current; Page: [18]
  • Great Cacique, worthy of a better fate,
  • If ’tis decreed that thou must fall, at least
  • Thou shalt find friends prepared to perish with thee,
  • And own them not unworthy of their master.
zamor.
  • After a glorious victory, my friends,
  • A glorious death is most to be desired;
  • But O, to die in vile obscurity,
  • To perish thus in ignominious bondage,
  • To leave our bleeding country thus enslaved
  • By European robbers, those assassins
  • Whose thirst for blood and gold, these proud usurpers,
  • Who would extort by every cruel art
  • Of punishment those riches which we hold
  • More cheap, more worthless than themselves, to leave
  • My loved Alzire, Zamor’s dearer half,
  • To their licentious fury, O my friends,
  • ’Tis worse than death: I tremble at the thought.

SCENE II.

alvarez, zamor, americans.

alvarez.
  • Live, and be free.
zamor.
  • Good heavens, what do I hear?
  • O unexpected sound! what God art thou
  • In human shape? a Spaniard, and forgive!
  • It cannot be: art thou the ruler here?
Edition: current; Page: [19]
alvarez.
  • No, captive; I am only the protector
  • Of innocence oppressed.
zamor.
  • Thou good old man,
  • What is thy office here?
alvarez.
  • To aid the wretched.
zamor.
  • What could inspire thee with a thought so noble?
alvarez.
  • My gratitude, religion, and my God.
zamor.
  • God and religion! what! these cruel tyrants,
  • These ruffians, that still bathed in human blood
  • Depopulate earth, and change the smiling face
  • Of nature to a dreary desert, they
  • Who worship avarice alone! their God
  • Cannot be thine!
alvarez.
  • It is the same, my son,
  • But they offend him, they disgrace his name,
  • And are indeed more guilty; they abuse
  • Their new-got power: thou knowest their crime, but know
  • My duty too: twice hath the travelling sun
  • Enlightened in his course our world and yours
  • Since a brave Indian, who he was I know not,
  • Stepped from amidst his fellow-savages,
  • And saved me from their fury; from that moment
  • I felt your sorrows, pitied your misfortunes,
  • And held you as my brethren and my friends;
  • Edition: current; Page: [20]
  • Could I but meet my kind deliverer,
  • That gallant stranger, I should die in peace.
zamor.
  • His age, his features, his transcendent virtue,
  • All, all conspire to say it is Alvarez:
  • Behold, and mark us well, canst thou distinguish
  • The hand that saved thee?
alvarez.
  • Gracious heaven! come near.
  • O Providence! it is, it must be he,
  • The wished-for object of my gratitude;
  • He whom these eyes, grown dim with age, have sought
  • So long in vain; my son, my benefactor,
  • What shall I do to serve thee? thou shalt live
  • With old Alvarez; he shall be thy father,
  • Thy guardian and protector here: kind heaven
  • In gracious pity hath prolonged my days,
  • That I might pay the debt I owe to thee.
zamor.
  • O if thy barbarous nation had possessed
  • But half the virtues that adorn Alvarez,
  • Our willing world had bowed submissive down
  • Before them; but their souls are not like thine,
  • For they delight in blood, whilst nature’s self
  • Abhorring shudders at their cruelty;
  • Death were more welcome far than life with them:
  • Urge me not therefore, good Alvarez, all
  • I wish to know is this, have they destroyed
  • My noble friend, the wretched Montezuma?
  • Where’s my Alzire’s father? O my lord,
  • Forgive these tears, the memory of past griefs
  • Sits heavy on me.
Edition: current; Page: [21]
alvarez.
  • Let them flow my son,
  • ’Tis the best mark of our humanity:
  • The heart that feels not for another’s woe
  • Is fit for every crime: thy friend survives,
  • And full of years and honors lives with us
  • In happiness and peace.
zamor.
  • Might I behold him?
alvarez.
  • Yes; thou shalt see him soon: may his persuasion
  • Induce thee to think better of us all,
  • And follow his example!
zamor.
  • Can he live
  • With Christians, Montezuma live with Christians?
alvarez.
  • Have patience, son, and he shall tell thee all,
  • Touching our union, and the sacred bonds
  • That soon shall bind in cords of amity
  • Our world to thine—but I must to my son,
  • And let him know my happiness; I leave thee
  • But for a moment; fare thee well.

SCENE III.

zamor, americans.

zamor.
  • At last
  • Heaven seems to smile on Zamor; I have found
  • Amongst these vile barbarians one just man,
  • Edition: current; Page: [22]
  • Honest and true: Alvarez is a god,
  • Sent down from heaven to soften this rude world,
  • And bless mankind: he said he had a son,
  • That son shall be my brother and my friend,
  • If he is worthy of his noble father:
  • O glorious hope! shall I again behold
  • Great Montezuma after three long years?
  • Alzire too, my dear, my loved Alzire,
  • Shall I embrace thee, hast thou kept thy faith,
  • That first of virtues, to reward thy Zamor?
  • The heart oppressed is ever diffident:
  • Another old man comes this way: my soul
  • It still perplexed.

SCENE IV.

montezuma, zamor, americans.

zamor.
  • O noble Montezuma,
  • Do I once more embrace thee? see thy Zamor
  • Snatched from the jaws of death; he lives to save
  • And to defend his prince: behold thy friend,
  • Thy soldier, and thy son: O where’s Alzire?
  • Be quick, and tell me, let me know her fate,
  • My life depends on that.
montezuma.
  • Unhappy Cacique,
  • With grief sincere we have lamented thee;
  • Thy fellow-soldiers to thy memory raised
  • The decent tomb, and every honor paid
  • Due to thy virtues: but thank heaven! thou livest,
  • Henceforth may happier days await thee, Zamor!
  • But say, why camest thou hither?
Edition: current; Page: [23]
zamor.
  • To avenge
  • My gods, myself, my father and Alzire.
montezuma.
  • What sayst thou?
zamor.
  • Call to mind that dreadful day
  • When the fierce Spaniard, terrible in arms,
  • Rushed through our powerless hosts, o’erthrew our bulwarks,
  • And laid our empire waste; his name was Guzman:
  • That name, thou well rememberest, was the signal
  • Given for destruction; at that name they snatched
  • The sweet Alzire, thy loved daughter, from me,
  • And bore her to captivity with thee
  • And all thy race; destroyed the holy altar,
  • Where I had hoped to make Alzire mine,
  • Then dragged me to the tyrant: shall I tell thee
  • What cruel torments that insatiate monster
  • Inflicted on me, to extort confession
  • Of hidden gold, the Christian’s deity,
  • Which we despise and trample on? half-dead
  • They left me and retired: time, Montezuma,
  • Can never bury injuries like mine;
  • Thou seest me here, prepared for great revenge:
  • Some chosen friends, attached to Zamor’s cause,
  • By equal wrongs provoked, with equal hate
  • Inspired, await me in the neighboring forest,
  • Resolved with me to conquer or to die.
montezuma.
  • O Zamor, whither would thy headlong passion
  • Transport thee? wherefore wouldst thou thus pursue
  • That death which seems so willing to avoid thee?
  • Edition: current; Page: [24]
  • What can thy friends do for thee? their weak arms,
  • Their fish-bone spears, their sabres made of stone,
  • Their soldiers naked, and ill-disciplined,
  • Against these giants armed with mortal steel,
  • And launching their dread thunder bolts against thee?
  • Swift as the winds, their fiery coursers bear them
  • To certain victory; the world is theirs,
  • And we, my Zamor, must submit.
zamor.
  • Whilst life
  • Shall animate these veins, I never will:
  • No, Montezuma: their destructive thunder,
  • Their coats of steel, their fiery coursers taught
  • Like them to fight, and share their master’s glory,
  • This might affright, and terrify a while
  • Our gaping savages, but I behold
  • This pompous scene unruffled: to subdue
  • Our haughty foe one thing alone’s required,
  • And that is, not to fear them; novelty,
  • That conquers cowards, only has enslaved us:
  • Gold, that pernicious native of our soil,
  • Draws Europe hither, but defends us not
  • Against her; niggard nature has denied us
  • A nobler metal, her all-conquering steel,
  • And given it to barbarians; but kind heaven,
  • In lieu of this indulgence, hath bestowed
  • Virtues on us which Europe never knew.
  • I come to fight and conquer for Alzire.
montezuma.
  • Urge it no more, my Zamor, heaven declares
  • Against us, calm thy rage; the times are changed.
zamor.
  • Changed, didst thou say, my lord? it cannot be,
  • Edition: current; Page: [25]
  • If Montezuma’s heart is still the same,
  • If my Alzire’s faithful, if I live
  • Still in her memory.—Thou turnest aside
  • And weepest.
montezuma.
  • Unhappy Zamor!
zamor.
  • Am I not
  • Thy son? our tyrants have not altered thee?
  • They cannot, sure they cannot have corrupted
  • An old man’s heart, and made it false as theirs?
montezuma.
  • I am not guilty, Zamor, nor are all
  • These conquerors tyrants; some were sent by heaven
  • To guide our footsteps in the paths of truth,
  • To teach us arts unknown, immortal secrets,
  • The knowledge of mankind, the arts, my son,
  • To speak, to think, to live, and to be happy.
zamor.
  • O horrid! canst thou praise these ruffians, whilst
  • Thy daughter, thy Alzire, is their slave?
montezuma.
  • Zamor, Alzire’s free.
zamor.
  • Ha! Montezuma,
  • Alzire free? forgive me, but remember,
  • She’s mine, my lord, by every solemn tie;
  • You promised me, before the gods you promised,
  • To give her to me; they received our vows;
  • She is not perjured?
Edition: current; Page: [26]
montezuma.
  • Call not on those gods,
  • For they are vain, and fancied idols all;
  • I have abjured them, and henceforth must worship
  • That power supreme which hath subdued them.
zamor.
  • Ha!
  • The law of thy forefathers, thy religion,
  • Is that deserted?
montezuma.
  • I have found its weakness,
  • And left its vain chimeras: may the God
  • Of Gods convert thee, and inspire with truth
  • Thy unenlightened soul! unhappy Zamor,
  • Soon mayest thou know that Europe thou condemnest,
  • Her virtues, and her faith!
zamor.
  • What mighty virtues
  • Has she to boast? thou art indeed a slave
  • If thou hast lost thy gods, thy faith, thy honor,
  • And broke thy sacred word: Alzire too,
  • Has she betrayed me? O take heed!
montezuma.
  • My heart
  • Reproaches me for nothing: fare thee well!
  • I bless my own good fate, and weep for thine.
zamor.
  • If thou art false, thou hast cause to weep indeed:
  • Pity the torments which I feel for thee,
  • And for thy guilt; pity a heart distracted
  • By love and vengeance; let me find out Guzman
  • Edition: current; Page: [27]
  • Let me behold Alzire, let me fall
  • Beneath her feet; O do not hide her from me:
  • Conduct me, urge me not thus to despair,
  • Put on a human heart, let thy lost virtue—

SCENE V.

montezuma, zamor, Guards.

guard.
  • [To Montezuma.
  • The ceremony waits, my lord.
montezuma.
  • I come.
zamor.
  • Thou wilt not leave me? tell me, Montezuma,
  • What ceremony’s this.
montezuma.
  • No more: away,
  • And leave this fatal place.
zamor.
  • Though heaven itself
  • Forbade me, I would follow thee.
montezuma.
  • Forgive
  • My rude denial, Zamor, but you must not,
  • I say you must not—guards, prevent him—pagans
  • Must not profane our Christian altars; I
  • Command not here, but Guzman speaks by me:
  • You must obey: farewell.
Edition: current; Page: [28]

SCENE VI.

zamor, americans.

zamor.
  • What do I hear?
  • Guzman? O shameful treason! Montezuma
  • The slave of Guzman! where is virtue fled?
  • Alzire too, is my Alzire guilty?
  • Has she too drank corruption’s poisonous bowl
  • From these vile Christians?—that destroyer Guzman
  • Rules here, it seems; what’s to be done?
first american.
  • Permit me
  • To counsel you, my lord; the good old man
  • Who saved thee with his son will soon return,
  • He can deny you nothing; ask of him
  • Safe conduct to the city gates; that done,
  • We may return and join our noble friends
  • Against the foe: I doubt not of success:
  • We will not spare a man of them except
  • Alvarez, and his son: I’ve marked, my lord,
  • With most observant eye, their fosses, ramparts,
  • And brazen thunders, European arts
  • That fright not me: alas! our countrymen
  • Forge their own shameful chains, and tamely bend
  • Beneath these sons of pride; but soon, my lord,
  • When they shall see their great avenger here,
  • Then will they rise indignant, and destroy
  • This ignominious work of slavery:
  • Yes; on the bleeding bodies of our foes
  • We’ll make a path to glory; on the heads
  • Edition: current; Page: [29]
  • Of these vile Christians turn the fiery tempest,
  • And with their own destructive instruments
  • Of murder shake this all-usurping power,
  • Founded by pride on ignorance and fear.
zamor.
  • O how I joy, ye great unfortunate,
  • To find your kindred breasts thus nobly beat
  • With sympathetic fury! let us punish
  • The haughty Guzman, let his blood atone
  • For our lost country’s: O thou deity
  • Of injured mortals, sweet revenge, O come,
  • Assist thy servants, let but Guzman perish
  • And we are satisfied! but O my friends,
  • We talk of vengeance, yet are captives still,
  • Still groan beneath the yoke of shameful bondage:
  • Deserted by Alvarez, and betrayed
  • By Montezuma, all I love perhaps
  • Is in the power of him whom most I hate,
  • The only comfort left me is—to doubt.
  • But hark! what noise is that? the torches flame
  • On every side, and yield a double day:
  • This barbarous people’s brazen thunder speaks
  • Some horrid rites, or pompous sacrifice
  • Preparing: look around, and see if Zamor
  • Shall save his much-loved friends, or perish with them.

End of the Second Act.

ACT III.

SCENE I.

alzire.
  • [Alone.
  • Ye manes of my dear departed Zamor,
  • Edition: current; Page: [30]
  • Forgive me, O forgive the wife of Guzman!
  • The holy altar hath received our vows,
  • And they are sealed in heaven: pursue me not,
  • Indignant shade! O if Alzire’s tears,
  • Her bitter anguish, her remorse, the pangs
  • Of her reluctant soul, can reach the dead,
  • If in a happier world thou still retainest
  • Thy generous noble spirit, thou wilt pardon
  • My weakness; ’twas a father’s cruel will,
  • A people’s happiness required it of me;
  • Could I refuse the dreadful sacrifice?
  • Thou art at peace, my Zamor, do not thus
  • Distract my soul, but leave me to my fate;
  • Alas! already it has cost me dear.

SCENE II.

alzire, emira.

alzire.
  • And shall I not behold my countrymen,
  • The loved companions of my infant years,
  • Those wretched captives, may I not enjoy
  • The mournful privilege to mix with theirs
  • My friendly tears, and mourn their cruel fate?
emira.
  • O madam, we have cause indeed to weep,
  • To dread the wrath of Guzman, to lament
  • And tremble for our country; for the hour
  • Of slaughter and destruction is at hand:
  • Again I saw the bloody flag displayed,
  • The proud tribunal’s met, and Montezuma
  • Is summoned to appear: all dreadful omens!
  • What will become of us?
Edition: current; Page: [31]
alzire.
  • Unpitying heaven!
  • I’ve been deceived, betrayed:—cruel O Guzman!
  • Was it for this I gave him at the altar
  • My long reluctant hand? that fatal bond
  • I shall repent of to my latest hour:
  • O under what malignant star, my father,
  • Madest thou these cruel, these detested nuptials?

SCENE III.

alzire, emira, cephanes.

cephanes.
  • One of those slaves, whom this propitious day
  • Restored to freedom, begs admittance to you
  • In secret.
alzire.
  • Let him enter; ’twill rejoice
  • My heart to see him; he and all his friends
  • Are welcome to Alzire: but why comes he
  • Alone?
cephanes.
  • Some secret labors in his breast,
  • Which you and only you, he says, must know.
  • ’Twas he, it seems, whose heaven-directed arm
  • Saved the good father of thy valiant lord,
  • The noble Guzman.
emira.
  • He has sought you long;
  • But Montezuma’s private orders were,
  • He should not see you: melancholy sits
  • Edition: current; Page: [32]
  • On his dark brow, as if he were intent
  • On some great purpose.
cephanes.
  • Grief and anguish seem
  • To rack his soul: at mention of your name
  • He sighed, and wept, as if yet ignorant
  • Of your new honors and the rank you bear.
alzire.
  • Unworthy rank, and honors I despise!
  • Perhaps the hero knows my wretched race.
  • And is no stranger to Alzire’s woes:
  • Perhaps he knew my Zamor; who can tell
  • But he might be a witness of his death,
  • And comes to tell the melancholy tale?
  • A dreadful duty! that would but renew
  • A lover’s pangs, and double my distress;
  • But let him come: I know not why my heart
  • Should flutter thus; this hateful palace ever
  • Hath been a scene of sad disquietude
  • And trouble to me: bid him enter.

SCENE IV.

alzire, zamor, emira.

zamor.
  • Yes;
  • It is Alzire: is she then restored?
alzire.
  • Such were his features, voice, and motion: heaven!
  • It cannot be: O Zamor!—O support me.
  • [She faints.
Edition: current; Page: [33]
zamor.
  • ’Tis he.
alzire.
  • Ha! Zamor at Alzire’s feet?
  • ’Tis all delusion.
zamor.
  • No; I live for thee,
  • And at thy feet reclaim thy plighted faith;
  • O my Alzire, idol of my soul,
  • Wilt thou not hear me? where are all thy vows,
  • The sacred ties that bound us fast together?
  • Thou hast not broke them?
alzire.
  • Thou dear fatal object
  • Of grief and joy, of rapture and despair,
  • In what a dreadful moment hast thou chose
  • To meet Alzire? every word thou utterest
  • But plunges a new dagger in my heart.
zamor.
  • Thou weepest, yet lookest on Zamor!
alzire.
  • ’Tis too late:
zamor.
  • I know you thought me dead: e’er since that hour
  • Of terror, when those European tyrants
  • Deprived me of my gods, my throne and thee,
  • I’ve been a poor unhappy wanderer.
  • Knowest thou, my love, that savage murderer, Guzman,
  • With ignominious stripes, and cruel torture,
  • Insulted me? the husband of thy choice,
  • Thy once loved happy Zamor, fell a prey
  • Edition: current; Page: [34]
  • To ruffians:—how it wounds thy tender heart!
  • Thou burnest with fierce resentment of my wrongs,
  • And thou wilt join with Zamor to avenge them:
  • Some guardian god, propitious to our loves,
  • Saved me from death, that we might meet again
  • In happiness: I hope Alzire’s true:
  • Thou hast not left thy gods, betrayed thy country,
  • Thou art not grown a false perfidious Spaniard?
  • They tell me I shall meet with Guzman here,
  • I come to free thee from that proud barbarian:
  • Thou lovest me, my Alzire, and wilt give
  • The victim to my wrath.
alzire.
  • Thou hast been wronged;
  • Revenge thyself and see thy victim—here.
zamor.
  • What sayest thou?—ha! thy faith, thy vows—
alzire.
  • No more,
  • But strike—I merit not life or thee.
zamor.
  • O cruel Montezuma! what thou toldest me
  • Was but too true.
alzire.
  • And could he tell thee all;
  • Named he the wretch for whom I quitted Zamor?
zamor.
  • He did not, durst not name him; that remains
  • For thee: O speak it: I shall be surprised
  • At nothing.
alzire.
  • Hear then all my guilt.
Edition: current; Page: [35]
zamor.
  • Alzire!
alzire.
  • That Guzman—
zamor.
  • Gracious heaven!
alzire.
  • Thy murderer,
  • Within this hour received my guilty hand;
  • He is—my husband.
zamor.
  • Guzman!
alzire.
  • Montezuma,
  • Alvarez—they betrayed my easy youth,
  • And urged me to the deed: the lost Alzire
  • Did at the Christian altar give up all
  • That she held dear on earth, her gods, her country,
  • Her—Zamor: O by those dear injured names
  • I beg thee, take this hated life.
zamor.
  • Alzire,
  • Can it be true? is Guzman then thy husband?
alzire.
  • To plead a father’s undisputed right,
  • To say how long I struggled with my duty,
  • To number o’er the fruitless tears I shed
  • For three long years lamenting Zamor’s death,
  • That still I loved thee, that I left in wrath
  • Those powerless gods that had deserted thee.
  • And from despair alone became a Christian,
  • Perhaps might mitigate Alzire’s crime;
  • Edition: current; Page: [36]
  • But I disdain it, I acknowledge all,
  • Confess my guilt, and sue for punishment.
  • Who shall absolve the wretch whom love condemns?
  • Take then a life that is not worth my care
  • Without thee; dost thou not abhor me, Zamor?
zamor.
  • No: if thou lovest me still, thou are not guilty:
  • May I yet hope that Zamor has a place
  • In his Alzire’s heart?
alzire.
  • When old Alvarez
  • And Montezuma led me to the altar
  • I thought on Zamor, thought him then no more,
  • But reverenced, but adored his memory:
  • Our tyrants, our usurpers know I loved thee;
  • I told them all, told heaven and earth, nay told
  • My husband—and O take this last farewell,
  • I love thee still.
zamor.
  • Is this then our last hour
  • Of happiness, and must we part so soon,
  • So lately met? O if the voice of love—
alzire.
  • ’Tis Guzman and his father.

SCENE V.

alvarez, guzman, zamor, alzire, Attendants.

alvarez.
  • [To Guzman.
  • Son, behold
  • With thy Alzire stands my great preserver,
  • Edition: current; Page: [37]
  • My benefactor, my deliverer.
  • [To Zamor.
  • O noble youth, to thee I owe my life,
  • Let me embrace thee, be my second son,
  • And share the pleasures of this happy day
  • With Guzman and Alvarez.
zamor.
  • He thy son;
  • Guzman then thy son, that proud barbarian?
alzire.
  • Avert the terrors of this dreadful moment,
  • Indulgent heaven!
alvarez.
  • In what astonishment—
zamor.
  • How could a father, brave and good, like thee
  • Be cursed with such a son?
guzman.
  • Insulting slave,
  • Who gave thee license thus to spurn thy master?
  • Thou knowest not who I am.
zamor.
  • I know thee well;
  • And thou among the wretches thou hast made
  • Perhaps mayest one day meet the injured Zamor.
guzman.
  • And art thou he?
alvarez.
  • Ha! Zamor!
Edition: current; Page: [38]
zamor.
  • ’Tis the same,
  • ’Tis Zamor, whom thy cruel hand oppressed
  • With ignominious tortures, he whose eye
  • Thou darest not meet; thou tyrant ravisher,
  • Comest thou at last to rob me of my best
  • And dearest treasure? with thy ruthless sword
  • Make sure thy vengeance, and prevent the fate
  • Which thou deservest, ere Zamor, who preserved
  • The father, shall chastise the guilty son.
alvarez.
  • [To Guzman.
  • What sayest thou, Guzman, canst thou answer this?
guzman.
  • It were beneath me; punishment alone
  • Should answer insolence, and, but for thee,
  • Ere this he should have met with it.
  • [Turning to Alzire.
  • You, madam,
  • For your own honor might have more regard,
  • If not for mine, than thus to parley with
  • A traitor: come, no more of this, Alzire,
  • Thy tears offend me: husbands may be jealous;
  • Remember that and tremble.
alzire.
  • [To Guzman.
  • Cruel Guzman!
  • My kind protector,
  • [Turning to Alvarez.
  • Good Alvarez, hear me:
  • And thou,
  • [To Zamor.
  • Edition: current; Page: [39]
  • In better days my dearest hope,
  • O look with pity on the lost Alzire!
  • [Pointing to Zamor.
  • Behold the husband whom my father chose;
  • Long ere this hapless country bowed the neck
  • To European tyrants, Zamor fell,
  • So fame reported, and with him Peru,
  • Then first subdued: my wretched father, old
  • And full of sorrows, to the Christian’s God,
  • Forsaken by his own, indignant fled;
  • The Christian altar saw Alzire’s hand
  • Given to her lover’s murderer: thy new faith,
  • Which yet I know not, may condemn Alzire,
  • But virtue will forgive me when I add,
  • That still I love thee, Zamor; but my oath,
  • My marriage vow, rash fatal marriage! says
  • I never must be thine—nor can I now
  • Be Guzman’s—false to both, ye both have cause
  • To hate me: which of you will kindly end
  • My wretched being? Guzman’s hand, already
  • Stained with the blood of my unhappy race,
  • Were fittest to revenge the injured rights
  • Of honor and of love; be just for once,
  • And strike the guilty.
guzman.
  • Darest thou thus abuse
  • The goodness thou deservest not? but remember
  • ’Twas thy request; thy punishment is ready:
  • My rival dies;—away with him.
alvarez.
  • Inhuman!
  • O stop, my son, consider what is due
  • To him who saved thy father—ye are both
  • Edition: current; Page: [40]
  • My children—let that tender name inspire
  • Your breasts with pity for an aged father:
  • At least—

SCENE VI.

alvarez, guzman, alzire, zamor.

don alonzo, a Spanish officer.

alonzo.
  • My lord, the foe is at our gates;
  • On every side their brazen bucklers ring
  • With barbarous dissonance: aloud they cry,
  • Revenge, and Zamor, whilst with measured steps,
  • Solemn and slow, the close-wedged phalanx moves,
  • As if these savages had learned from us
  • The arts by which we conquered them.
guzman.
  • Away:
  • Let us be gone; my presence soon shall teach
  • These slaves their duty—heroes of Castile,
  • Ye sons of victory, this new world was made
  • To wear your chains, to fear, and to obey you.
zamor.
  • To fear and to obey? ’tis false, proud Guzman;
  • Ye are but mortals like ourselves, no more.
guzman.
  • Guards, drag him hence.
zamor.
  • [To the Spaniards surrounding him.
  • Ye dare not: are ye gods,
  • And must we worship deities thus bathed
  • In our own blood?
Edition: current; Page: [41]
guzman.
  • Obey me, slaves.
alzire.
  • My lord!
alvarez.
  • Remember, son, that Zamor saved thy father.
guzman.
  • My lord, I shall remember your instructions,
  • You taught me how to conquer, and I fly
  • Once more to victory: farewell!

SCENE VII.

alvarez, alzire.

alzire.
  • [Kneeling.
  • My lord,
  • Behold me at your feet, accept the homage
  • Due to thy virtues! Guzman’s injured honor
  • Calls for revenge, Alzire was to blame;
  • But I was bound to Zamor by the ties
  • Of sacred love, long ere I knew thy son;
  • We cannot give our hearts a second time:
  • Zamor had mine, and ever must preserve it:
  • O he is good and virtuous, for he saved
  • Thy life, Alvarez—O forgive me!
alvarez.
  • Rise
  • Alzire, I forgive and pity thee;
  • Feel as a father and a friend thy sorrows,
  • Lament thy Zamor’s fate, and will protect him:
  • Edition: current; Page: [42]
  • But let the solemn vow thou madest to Guzman
  • Be graved within thy heart; thou are no longer
  • The mistress of thyself: remember well
  • Thou art my daughter—Guzman was most cruel,
  • I know he was, but still he is—thy husband:
  • Perhaps he may relent; heaven grant he may!
alzire.
  • Alas! why art not thou my Zamor’s father?

End of the Third Act.

ACT IV.

SCENE I.

alvarez, guzman.

alvarez.
  • Fortune, my son, has crowned thee with success,
  • Endeavor to deserve it; do not stain
  • The laurel wreath with blood, but let fair mercy,
  • That adds new lustre to the conqueror’s glory,
  • Inspire thy breast with pity; be a man,
  • A Christian, and forgive: Alvarez asks thee
  • To pardon Zamor—shall a father plead
  • In vain? O Guzman, shall I never soften
  • Thy savage manners, never teach my son
  • To conquer hearts?
guzman.
  • Alvarez has pierced mine
  • Most deeply; ask my life, and it is yours,
  • But leave my honor, leave me my revenge;
  • How can I pardon Zamor, when I know
  • Alzire loves him?
Edition: current; Page: [43]
alvarez.
  • Therefore he deserves
  • Thy pity more.
guzman.
  • O to be pitied thus,
  • And thus beloved, Guzman would die with pleasure.
alvarez.
  • With all that fierce resentment, feelest thou too
  • The pangs of jealousy?
guzman.
  • And canst thou blame
  • An injured husband? I have too much cause
  • For jealousy, and yet thou pitiest not
  • The unhappy Guzman.
alvarez.
  • Thou art wild, impetuous,
  • And bitter in thy wrath; Alzire’s virtues
  • Deserve a milder treatment; when opposed,
  • Her open heart, rough as her native soil,
  • Resists with stubborn firmness, but would yield
  • To soft persuasion; gentle means, my son,
  • Are ever the most powerful.
guzman.
  • Must I soothe
  • The pride of beauty, wear a brow serene,
  • And cover my resentment, to expose
  • My easy heart to new indignities?
  • I should have thought that, jealous of my honor
  • You would approve, and not condemn my rage:
  • Is it not shame enough that I am wedded
  • To a proud slave who hates me, braves my power,
  • Edition: current; Page: [44]
  • And owns her heart is given to another?
  • Whom yet, to make me more accursed, I love.
alvarez.
  • Why blush at that? it is a lawful passion,
  • Indulge, but keep it within proper bounds,
  • For all excess is guilty—only promise
  • You will determine nothing till I’ve seen her
  • Once more.
guzman.
  • A father’s will must be obeyed;
  • I will suspend my wrath, but urge me, sir,
  • No further.
alvarez.
  • All I want is time: farewell.
  • [Exit.
guzman.
  • [Alone.
  • And have I lived to envy Zamor’s fate,
  • To envy a vile slave, who scarce deserves
  • The name of man!—What do I see? Alzire!

SCENE II.

guzman, alzire, emira.

alzire.
  • ’Tis I, my lord, ’tis the afflicted wife
  • Of Guzman; she who honors, who reveres
  • And yet has injured thee: I come, my lord,
  • To throw me at your feet, to own my crime,
  • And beg forgiveness: nought have I disguised,
  • My open heart confessed its fatal passion
  • For the unhappy Zamor; if he dies,
  • Edition: current; Page: [45]
  • He dies because Alzire was sincere;
  • But I shall more astonish thee, I come
  • To plead for him: I know that Guzman’s proud,
  • Resentful, and severe, and yet I hope
  • He may be generous, ’tis a conqueror’s pride,
  • His glory to forgive: an act like this
  • Would gain thee more than conquest can bestow,
  • Win every heart, perhaps even change Alzire’s.
  • A fawning Spaniard might have promised more,
  • Have sighed, and wept, and softened thee with tears,
  • Which I disdain; the hand of nature formed
  • My plain untutored heart, if ought can move it,
  • ’Tis generosity: let Guzman try
  • If it is made of penetrable mould.
guzman.
  • If you’re so fond of virtue, ’twould become you
  • To know and practise it, to study, madam,
  • Those manners you condemn, to learn your duty,
  • To treat yourself, your honor, and your fame
  • With more respect; nor dare to name a rival
  • Whom I abhor, but wait in humble silence
  • Till I determine what shall be his fate;
  • It is enough if I forgive Alzire:
  • This heart is not insensible; but know,
  • Those who believe shall always find me cruel.

SCENE III.

alzire, emira.

emira.
  • He loves you still, and yet may be persuaded.
Edition: current; Page: [46]
alzire.
  • Ay, but he’s jealous, that destroys my Zamor,
  • I lost his life by asking it; but say,
  • Emira, canst thou save him? shall he live,
  • Though far from his Alzire? didst thou try
  • That soldier?
emira.
  • Yes; the grand corrupter, gold,
  • Has bought him to our interest; he is ready.
alzire.
  • Thank heaven, that metal doth not always prove
  • The instrument of ill: but haste, Emira.
emira.
  • Is Zamor then devoted to destruction?
  • Cannot Alvarez save him? have the council—
alzire.
  • I have a thousand fears for him: alas!
  • These tyrants think the world was made for them,
  • That they were born the sovereigns of mankind,
  • That Zamor is a rebel and a slave:
  • Barbarians as they are—this cruel council—
  • But I’ll prevent their murderous purposes:
  • That soldier, my Emira, how he lingers!
emira.
  • Be not alarmed; night’s friendly shade protects him,
  • And he will soon be here with Zamor; sleep
  • Hath closed the tyrant’s eyes, and we are safe.
alzire.
  • O let him lead me to the prison gate
  • That I may set him free.
Edition: current; Page: [47]
emira.
  • Behold, he comes:
  • But should ye be discovered, foul dishonor,
  • Disgrace, and infamy—
alzire.
  • Attend on her
  • Who would betray the man she loves; this shame
  • Thou talkest of is a European phantom,
  • Which fools mistake for virtue! ’tis the love
  • Of glory not of justice, not the fear
  • Of vice but of reproach; a shame unknown
  • In these untutored climes, where honor shines
  • In its own native light, and scorns the aid
  • Of such false lustre; honor bids me save
  • A lover and a hero thus deserted.

SCENE IV.

alzire, zamor, emira, a soldier.

alzire.
  • O Zamor, all is lost, thy punishment
  • Already is prepared, and thou art doomed
  • To instant death; lose not a moment’s time,
  • But haste away, this soldier will conduct thee:
  • Alas! thou seest my grief and my despair,
  • O save my husband from the guilt of murder,
  • Save thy dear self, and leave me to my fate.
zamor.
  • Thou bidst me live, I must obey Alzire:
  • But wilt thou follow the poor friendless Zamor?
  • Edition: current; Page: [48]
  • A desert and this heart are all I now
  • Have left to offer; once I had a throne.
alzire.
  • What were a throne and empire without thee?
  • Alas! my Zamor, to the gloomy desert
  • My soul shall follow thee; but I am doomed
  • To wander here alone, to drag a life
  • Of bitterness and woe, to spend my hours
  • In sad reflections on my wretched state,
  • To be another’s, and yet burn for thee:
  • I bid farewell to Zamor and to joy;
  • Away, and leave me to my duty; fain
  • Would I preserve my honor, and my love,
  • They both are sacred.
zamor.
  • What’s this idle honor,
  • This European phantom, that deludes thee;
  • This Christian altar, those detested oaths
  • Extorted from thee, this triumphant God;
  • What have they done to rob me of Alzire?
alzire.
  • My sacred promise—
zamor.
  • ’Twas a guilty vow,
  • And binds thee not; perdition on thy oaths,
  • And thy false God, whom I abhor! farewell!
alzire.
  • O stop, my Zamor.
zamor.
  • Guzman is thy husband.
Edition: current; Page: [49]
alzire.
  • Do not upbraid but pity me.
zamor.
  • O think
  • On our past loves.
alzire.
  • I think but on thy danger.
zamor.
  • Thou hast betrayed me.
alzire.
  • No; I love thee still:
  • If ’tis a crime, I own, nay glory in it;
  • But hence, and leave me here to die alone;
  • Some dreadful purpose labors in thy breast:
  • How thy eyes roll! O Zamor—
zamor.
  • ’Tis resolved.
alzire.
  • Where art thou going?
zamor.
  • Glorious liberty,
  • I’ll use thee nobly.
alzire.
  • If thou diest remember
  • I perish with thee.
zamor.
  • In this hour of terror
  • Thou talkest to me of love: but time is precious,
  • Conduct me, soldier; fare thee well.
Edition: current; Page: [50]

SCENE V.

alzire.
  • He’s gone;
  • But where I know not: dreadful moment! Guzman,
  • For thee I quitted Zamor: haste, Emira,
  • Follow him, fly, return, and tell me all.
  • Thinkest thou that soldier will be faithful to us?
  • [Exit Emira.
  • I know not why, but something tells me here,
  • This day, for me, will be a day of horror.
  • O God of Christians, thou all-conquering power,
  • Whom yet I know not, O remove the cloud
  • From my dark mind; if by my fatal passion
  • I have offended thee, pour all thy vengeance
  • On me, but spare my Zamor; O conduct
  • His wandering footsteps through the dreary desert!
  • Is Europe only worthy of thy care?
  • Art thou the partial parent of one world,
  • And tyrant o’er another? all deserve
  • Thy equal love, the victor and the vanquished
  • Are all the work of thy creating hand.
  • But hark! what dreadful cry is that? methought
  • They called on Zamor—hark! again that noise!
  • It comes this way: my Zamor’s lost.

SCENE VI.

alzire, emira.

alzire.
  • Emira,
  • I’m glad thou art come: what hast thou seen, what done?
  • Where is he? speak, and ease my troubled soul.
Edition: current; Page: [51]
emira.
  • O it is past all hope; he cannot live:
  • Conducted safely by the faithful soldier
  • He passed the guards, then darting from him rushed
  • Towards the palace; trembling I pursued him,
  • Amidst the horrors of the silent night,
  • Almost to Guzman’s chamber; there he escaped me,
  • Though oft I called on him, oft looked in vain:
  • I heard a dreadful shriek, some cried aloud,
  • He’s dead: the palace is in arms: fly, madam,
  • And save yourself.
alzire.
  • Let us begone, and help
  • My Zamor.
emira.
  • What can we do for him?
alzire.
  • Die.

SCENE VII.

alzire, emira, don alonzo, Guards.

alonzo.
  • I’ve orders, madam, to secure you.
alzire.
  • Slave,
  • What meanest thou? where’s my Zamor?
alonzo.
  • That I know not:
  • Permit me to conduct you.
Edition: current; Page: [52]
alzire.
  • Cruel fate!
  • I must not die then? Zamor is no more,
  • And yet I live, a captive, and in chains:
  • O ignominious!—dost thou weep, barbarian?
  • I must indeed be wretched, if my woes
  • Can touch a heart like thine; I’ll follow thee;
  • If death awaits me, I obey with pleasure.

End of the Fourth Act.

ACT V.

SCENE I.

alzire, Guards.

alzire.
  • Prepare your tortures, you who call yourselves
  • The judges of mankind; why am I left
  • In dread suspense, uncertain of my fate?
  • To live, or die? if I but mention Zamor
  • The guards around me tremble, and look pale,
  • His very name affrights them.

SCENE II.

montezuma, alzire.

alzire.
  • Ha! my father!
montezuma.
  • O my Alzire, what a scene of woe
  • Hath thy imprudent fatal passion brought
  • Edition: current; Page: [53]
  • Among us! we were pleading for thy Zamor,
  • The good Alvarez had well nigh prevailed,
  • When on a sudden an armed soldier rushed
  • With violence in, and bore down all before him;
  • ’Twas Zamor’s self; with fury in his aspect,
  • And wild distraction, on he sprang to Guzman,
  • Attacked, and plunged the dagger in his breast:
  • The blood that issued from your husband’s wound
  • Gushed on your father: Zamor then resigned,
  • With calm submission at Alvarez’s feet
  • Fell humble; “take,” he cried, “this guilty sword,
  • Stained with thy Guzman’s blood, I am revenged;
  • Now nature calls on thee to do thy duty,
  • As I have mine; strike here;” then bared his breast
  • To the expected blow: the good Alvarez
  • Sunk breathless in my arms; confusion followed
  • And cries and horror; Guzman’s friends upraised him,
  • Bound up his wounds, and tried by every art
  • Of medicine to preserve his life; the people
  • Accuse thee as accomplice in the deed,
  • And call for justice on thee.
alzire.
  • And couldst thou—
montezuma.
  • O no; my heart suspects thee not, Alzire,
  • Thy soul I know is capable of error,
  • But not of guilt: alas! thou didst not see
  • The precipice before thee: Guzman dies
  • By Zamor’s hand, thy husband by thy lover;
  • They will condemn thee to a shameful death,
  • But I will try if possible to move
  • The council in thy favor.
Edition: current; Page: [54]
alzire.
  • Do not sue
  • For me, my father, of these cruel tyrants,
  • Let but Alvarez live, and love me still,
  • I ask no more: Guzman’s untimely fate
  • I must lament, because ’twas horrible,
  • Because, more dreadful still, he had deserved it:
  • Zamor avenged his wrongs, I cannot blame
  • Nor can I praise him for it; he must die;
  • Alzire wishes but to follow him.
alvarez.
  • O heaven, assist me in this work of mercy!

SCENE III.

alzire.
  • Now end all gracious power, this wretched being!
  • Alas! Alzire, the new God thou servest
  • Withholds thy hand, and says thou must not finish
  • Thy hated life; the deities I left
  • Denied me not the privilege to die.
  • Is it a crime to hasten on, perhaps
  • A few short years, the universal doom
  • Appointed for us all? and must we drink
  • The bitter cup of sorrow to the dregs?
  • In this vile body is there aught so sacred
  • That the free spirit should not leave at will
  • Its homely mansion? this all-conquering nation,
  • Shall they depopulate earth, destroy my race,
  • Condemn Alzire, and I not be mistress
  • Of my own life? Barbarians! Zamor then
  • Must die in tortures.
Edition: current; Page: [55]

SCENE IV.

zamor in chains, alzire, Guards.

zamor.
  • Yes, it is decreed:
  • We both must die; beneath the specious name
  • Of justice, the tribunal hath condemned us;
  • Guzman yet lives, my erring hand had left
  • Its work unfinished; the barbarian lives
  • To glut his vengeance with Alzire’s blood,
  • To taste a tyrant’s savage joy, and see us
  • Perish together—to pronounce our doom
  • Alvarez comes: I am the guilty cause;
  • Thou diest for me, Alzire.
alzire.
  • Then no more,
  • For death is welcome if it comes with Zamor:
  • O bless the happy hour that shall dissolve
  • My ties to Guzman; I may love thee now
  • Without a crime, without remorse; receive
  • The heart that’s due to thee, and thee alone:
  • Yon dreadful scaffold, for our death prepared,
  • Shall be the altar of my love; there, Zamor,
  • I’ll offer up my faith, and expiate there
  • My crime of infidelity—the worst
  • Of all our sentence is, that it must come
  • From good Alvarez.
zamor.
  • See, he’s here; his cheeks
  • Are bathed in tears.
Edition: current; Page: [56]
alzire.
  • Alas! who most deserves
  • Compassion? this will be a dreadful parting.

SCENE V.

alzire, zamor, alvarez, Guards.

zamor.
  • From you we both expect to hear our fate,
  • Pronounce it, we are not afraid to die:
  • Zamor deserves it, he has slain thy son,
  • The son of good Alvarez, of my friend;
  • But what, my lord, has this fair innocent,
  • What has Alzire done? thou art not cruel,
  • Proud, and revengeful, like thy countrymen,
  • Distinguished by thy clemency, we loved
  • Alvarez; wilt thou give up the fair title
  • Of just and good, and bathe thee in the blood
  • Of innocence?
alzire.
  • Avenge thyself, avenge
  • Thy son; but do not thus condemn the guiltless:
  • I am the wife of Guzman, that alone
  • Should tell thee, I would save, and not betray him,
  • Even though I hated, I respected him,
  • And swerved not from my faith, thou knowest I did not:
  • Careless of what the slandering multitude
  • May think, I rest my character on thee;
  • Acquitted by Alvarez, for the rest
  • ’Tis equal all: if Zamor dies, Alzire
  • Must go with him: I pity thee alone.
Edition: current; Page: [57]
alvarez.
  • Amazing scene of tenderness and horror!
  • That he should be the murderer of my son
  • Who was my kind deliverer! O Zamor,
  • To thee I owe a life which I abhor;
  • It was a fatal gift, and bought too dear:
  • I am a father, yet I am a man;
  • Spite of a parent’s grief that cries aloud
  • For vengeance on thee, gratitude pleads strongly;
  • She will be heard:—and thou who wert my daughter,
  • Whom yet I call by that dear tender name;
  • Think not I joy in the inhuman pleasure
  • Of fell revenge; I lose a friend, I lose
  • A daughter, and a son: the council dooms thee
  • To death, and bids a wretched father pass
  • The cruel sentence; I could not refuse
  • The dreadful task, and now am come, my children,
  • To save you both: it is in Zamor’s power.
zamor.
  • To save Alzire? say, what’s to be done?
alvarez.
  • Believe in Him who now inspires Alvarez;
  • One word will change your fate: the law decrees,
  • Whoe’er becomes a Christian meets forgiveness,
  • The God of pardon will himself o’ershade
  • Thy every crime, and take thee to his mercy;
  • Spain will protect and love thee as a brother;
  • Alzire shall be safe, ye both shall live;
  • I’ll answer for her life as for thy own;
  • Zamor, to thee I speak; of thee I ask
  • Another life, I owe thee one already;
  • A father asks thee only to be happy,
  • To be a Christian, and to save Alzire.
Edition: current; Page: [58]
alzire.
  • What says my love? say, should we purchase life
  • So dearly? Shall I quit my gods for Guzman’s,
  • And be a traitor? tell me, thou sage tyrant,
  • When I was master of thy fate, wouldst thou,
  • Had Zamor sued, have quitted thy own gods
  • For mine?
alvarez.
  • I should have done as now I do,
  • Implored the almighty being to enlighten
  • A heart like thine, and make thee a true Christian.
zamor.
  • O cruel contest! what am I to choose,
  • Or life or death, Alzire, or my gods,
  • Which must I leave? Alzire, ’tis thy cause,
  • Determine it; I think thou wouldst not bring
  • Dishonor on thy Zamor.
alzire.
  • Hear me then:
  • Thou knowest that, to obey a father’s will,
  • I gave another what to thee alone
  • I had devoted; I embraced his faith,
  • And worshipped Montezuma’s God; perhaps
  • It was the error of my easy youth,
  • And thou wilt blame me for it; but methought
  • The law of Christians was the law of truth,
  • And therefore only did I make it mine
  • But to renounce those gods our heart adores;
  • That is no venial error, but a crime
  • Of deepest die; it is to give up both,
  • The God we worship, and the God we leave;
  • ’Tis to be false to heaven, to the world,
  • And to ourselves: no, Zamor, if thou diest,
  • Edition: current; Page: [59]
  • Die worthy of Alzire; hear the voice
  • Of conscience; act as she alone directs thee.
zamor.
  • Thou hast determined as I thought thou wouldst,
  • Zamor shall die with honor.
alvarez.
  • Then ye scorn
  • Our proffered mercy: hark! those mournful cries—

SCENE VII.

alvarez, guzman, zamor, americans, soldiers.

zamor.
  • O save Alzire; let me perish.
alzire.
  • No:
  • I will be joined to Guzman, and to thee.
alvarez.
  • My son is in the agonies of death;
  • O Guzman, hear me.
zamor.
  • Look on Zamor, learn
  • Of him to die.
guzman.
  • [To Zamor.
  • Perhaps I may teach thee
  • Another lesson: I have owed the world
  • Edition: current; Page: [60]
  • A good example long, and now I mean
  • To pay the debt.
  • [Turning to Alvarez.
  • My soul is on the wing,
  • And ere she takes her flight but waits to see
  • And imitate Alvarez; O my father,
  • The mask is off, death has at last unveiled
  • The hideous scene, and showed me to myself;
  • New light breaks in on my astonished soul:
  • O I have been a proud, ungrateful being,
  • And trampled on my fellow-creatures: heaven
  • Avenges earth: my life can never atone
  • For half the blood I’ve shed: prosperity
  • Had blinded Guzman, death’s benignant hand
  • Restores my sight; I thank the instrument
  • Employed by heaven to make me what I am.
  • A penitent: I yet am master here;
  • And yet can pardon: Zamor, I forgive thee,
  • Live and be free; but O remember how
  • A Christian acted, how a Christian died.
  • [To Montezuma, who kneels to him.
  • Thou, Montezuma, and ye hapless victims
  • Of my ambition, say my clemency
  • Surpassed my guilt, and let your sovereigns know,
  • That we were born your conquerors.
  • [To Zamor.
  • Observe
  • The difference, Zamor, ’twixt thy God and mine:
  • Thine teach thee to revenge an injury,
  • Mine to forgive and pity thee.
alvarez.
  • My son,
  • Thy virtue’s equal to thy courage.
Edition: current; Page: [61]
alzire.
  • Heaven!
  • How wonderful a change! amazing goodness!
zamor.
  • Thou wilt oblige me to repent.
guzman.
  • Yes, Zamor,
  • I will do more, thou shalt admire and love me:
  • Guzman too long hath made Alzire wretched,
  • I’ll make her happy; with my dying hand
  • I give her to thee, live and hate me not,
  • Restore your country’s ruined walls, and bless
  • My memory.
  • [To Alvarez.
  • Alvarez, be once more
  • A father to them, let the light of heaven
  • Shine forth upon them; Zamor is thy son,
  • Let him repair my loss.
zamor.
  • Amazed, confounded,
  • And motionless I stand; can Christians boast
  • Of such exalted virtue? ’twas inspired
  • By heaven; the Christian’s law must be divine:
  • Friendship, and faith, and constancy I knew
  • Already; but this soars above them all:
  • I must indeed admire and love thee, Guzman
  • [Falls at his feet.
alzire.
  • My lord, permit me to embrace thy knees:
  • O I could die for Guzman; will you then
  • Forgive my weakness?
Edition: current; Page: [62]
guzman.
  • Yes: I pardon all,
  • I cannot see thee weep and not forgive thee.
  • Come near, my father, take my last farewell!
  • [Dies.
alvarez.
  • [To Montezuma.
  • I see the hand of God in all our woes,
  • And humbly bend myself before that power
  • Who wounds to heal, and strikes but to forgive.

End of the Fifth and Last Act.

Edition: current; Page: [63]

ORESTES

Edition: current; Page: [64]

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

Ægisthus.

Orestes, Son of Agamemnon and Clytemnæstra.

ELECTRA, } Sisters of Orestes.
IPHISA, }

ClytemnÆstra, Wife of Ægisthus.

Pylades, Friend of Orestes.

Pammenes, an old Man, attached to the Family of Agamemnon.

Dimas, an Officer of the Guards.

Attendants.

Scene, the seashore, a wood, a temple, a palace and a tomb, on one side: on the other, Argos at a distance.

Edition: current; Page: [65]

“Orestes” was produced in 1750, an experiment which intensely interested the literary world and the public. In his Dedicatory Letters to the Duchess of Maine, Voltaire has the following passage on the Greek drama:

“We should not, I acknowledge, endeavor to imitate what is weak and defective in the ancients: it is most probable that their faults were well known to their contemporaries. I am satisfied, Madam, that the wits of Athens condemned, as well as you, some of those repetitions, and some declamations with which Sophocles has loaded his “Electra:” they must have observed that he had not dived deep enough into the human heart. I will moreover fairly confess, that there are beauties peculiar not only to the Greek language, but to the climate, to manners and times, which it would be ridiculous to transplant hither. Therefore I have not copied exactly the “Electra” of Sophocles—much more I knew would be necessary; but I have taken, as well as I could, all the spirit and substance of it. The feast celebrated by Ægisthus and Clytemnæstra, which they called the feast of Agamemnon; the arrival of Orestes and Pylades; the urn which was supposed to contain the ashes of Orestes; the ring of Agamemnon; the character of Electra, and that of Iphisa, which is exactly the Chrysothemis of Sophocles; and above all, the remorse of Clytemnæstra; these I have copied from the Greek tragedy. When the messenger, who relates the fictitious story of the death Edition: current; Page: [66] of Orestes, says to Clytemnæstra: ‘I see, Madam, you are deeply affected by his death;’ she replies, ‘I am a mother, and must therefore be unhappy; a mother, though injured, cannot hate her own offspring:’ she even endeavors to justify herself to Electra, with regard to the murder of Agamemnon, and laments her daughter. Euripides has carried Clytemnæstra’s repentance still further. This, Madam, was what gained the applause of the most judicious and sensible people upon earth, and was approved by all good judges in our own nation. No character, in reality, can be more natural than that of a woman, criminal with regard to her husband, yet softened by her children; a woman, whose proud and fiery disposition is still open to pity and compassion, who resumes the fierceness of her character on receiving too severe reproaches, and at last sinks into submission and tears. The seeds of this character were in Sophocles and Euripides, and I have only unfolded them. Nothing but ignorance, and its natural attendant, presumption, can assert that the ancients have nothing worthy of our imitation: there is scarcely one real and essential beauty and perfection, for the foundation of which, at least, we are not indebted to them.

“I have taken particular care not to depart from that simplicity so strongly recommended by the Greeks, and so difficult to attain; the true mark of genius and invention, and the very essence of all theatrical merit. A foreign character, brought into “Œdipus” or “Electra,” who should play a principal part and draw aside the attention of the audience, would be a monster in the eyes of all those who have any knowledge of the ancients, or of that nature which they have so finely painted. Art and genius Edition: current; Page: [67] consist in finding everything within the subject, and never going out of it in search of additional ornaments: but how are we to imitate that truly tragic pomp and magnificence which we find in the verses of Sophocles, that natural elegance and purity of diction, without which the piece, howsoever well conducted in other respects, must after all be but a poor performance!

“I have at least given my countrymen some idea of a tragedy without love, without confidants, and without episodes: the few partisans of good taste acknowledge themselves obliged to me for it, though the rest of the world withhold their approbation for a time, but will come in at last, when the rage of party is over, the injustice of persecution at an end, and the clouds of ignorance dissipated. You, Madam, must preserve among us those glittering sparks of light which the ancients have transmitted to us; we owe everything to them: not an art was born among us: everything was transplanted: but the earth that bears these foreign fruits is worn out, and our ancient barbarism, by the help of false taste, would break out again in spite of all our culture and improvement: and the disciples of Athens and Rome become Goths and Vandals, corrupted with the manners of the Sybarites, without the kind favor and protection of persons of your rank. When nature has given them either genius, or the love of genius, they encourage this nation, which is better able to imitate than to invent; and which always looks up towards the great for those instructions and examples which it perpetually stands in need of. All that I wish for, Madam, is, that some genius may be found to finish what I have but just sketched out; to free the stage from that effeminacy and Edition: current; Page: [68] affectation which it is now sunk into; to render it respectable to the gravest characters; worthy of the few great masterpieces which we already have among us; worthy, in short, the approbation of a mind like yours, and all those who may hereafter endeavor to resemble you.”

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ACT I.

SCENE I.

iphisa, pammenes.

iphisa.
  • Sayest thou, Pammenes? shall these hated walls,
  • Where I so long have dragged a life of woe,
  • Afford at least the melancholy comfort
  • Of mingling sorrow with my dear Electra?
  • And will Ægisthus bring her to the tomb
  • Of Agamemnon, bring his daughter here,
  • To be a witness of the horrid pomp,
  • The sad solemnity, which on this day
  • Annual returns, to celebrate their crimes,
  • And make their guilt immortal?
pammenes.
  • O Iphisa,
  • Thou honored daughter of my royal master,
  • Like thee, confined within these lonely walls,
  • The secrets of a vile abandoned court
  • Do seldom reach Pammenes; but, ’tis rumored,
  • The jealous tyrant brings Electra here,
  • Fearful lest Argos, by her cries alarmed,
  • Should rise to vengeance; every heart, he knows,
  • Feels for the injured princess, therefore much
  • He dreads her clamors; with a watchful eye
  • Observes her conduct, treats her as a slave,
  • And leads the captive to adorn his triumph.
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iphisa.
  • Good heaven! and must Electra be a slave!
  • Shall Agamemnon’s blood be thus disgraced
  • By a barbarian? Will her cruel mother,
  • Will Clytemnæstra bear the vile reproach
  • That on herself recoils, and all her race?
  • Perhaps my sister is too fierce of soul,
  • She mingles too much pride and bitterness
  • Of keen resentment with her griefs; alas!
  • Weak are her arms against a tyrant’s power:
  • What will her anger, what her pride avail her?
  • They only irritate a haughty foe,
  • And cannot serve our cause: my fate at least
  • Is milder, and this solitary state
  • Shields me from wrongs which must oppress Electra.
  • Far from my father’s foes, these pious hands
  • Can pay due offerings to his honored shade:
  • Far from his murderer, in this sad retreat
  • Freely I weep in peace, and curse Ægisthus:
  • I’m not condemned to see the tyrant here,
  • Save when the Sun unwillingly brings round
  • The fatal day that knit the dreadful tie,
  • When that inhuman monster shed the blood
  • Of Agamemnon, when base Clytemnæstra—

SCENE II.

electra, iphisa, pammenes.

iphisa.
  • O my Electra! art thou here? my sister—
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electra.
  • The day of horror is returned, Iphisa:
  • The dreadful rites, the guilty feast prepared,
  • Have brought me hither; thy Electra comes,
  • Thy captive sister, comes a wretched slave,
  • To bear the tidings of their guilty joy.
iphisa.
  • To see Electra is a blessing still,
  • It pours some joy into the bitter cup
  • Of sorrow, thus to mix my tears with thine.
electra.
  • Tears, my Iphisa! I have shed enough
  • Of them already: O thou bleeding ghost
  • Of my dead father, ever-honored shade,
  • Is that the tribute which I owe to thee?
  • I owe thee blood, and blood thou hast required;
  • Amidst the pomp of this dire festival,
  • Dragged by Ægisthus here, I will collect
  • My scattered spirits, shake off these vile chains,
  • And be my own avenger: yes, Iphisa,
  • This feeble arm shall reach the tyrant’s heart:
  • Did not the cruel Clytemnæstra shed
  • A husband’s blood? did I not see her lift
  • Her barbarous hand against him, and shall we
  • Suspend the blow, and let a murderer live?
  • O vengeance, and thou, animating virtue,
  • That dost inspire me, art thou not as bold
  • As daring guilt? we must revenge ourselves,
  • We must, Iphisa: fearest thou then to strike,
  • Fearest thou to die? shall Clytemnæstra’s daughter,
  • The blood of Atreus fear? O rather lend
  • Thy aid, and join the desperate Electra!
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iphisa.
  • My dearest sister, moderate thy rage,
  • And calm thy troubled mind: against our foes
  • What can we bring but unavailing tears?
  • Who will assist us? who will lend us arms?
  • Or how shall we surprise a watchful king,
  • For guilt is ever fearful, by his guards
  • Surrounded? why, Electra, wilt thou court
  • Perpetual danger? should the tyrant hear
  • Thy loud complaints, I tremble for thy life.
electra.
  • Why let him hear them? I would have my grief
  • Sink to his heart, and poison all his joys:
  • Yes; I would have my cries ascend to heaven,
  • And bring the thunder down; would have them raise
  • A hundred kings, who never yet have dared,
  • Unworthy cowards as they are, to avenge
  • Great Agamemnon: but I pardon thee,
  • And the vain terrors of thy fearful soul,
  • That shrinks at danger; for he favors you,
  • I know he does, and only crushes me
  • Beneath his iron yoke: thou hast not been,
  • Like me, a wretched persecuted slave;
  • Thou didst not see the impious parricide,
  • The horrid1 feast, the dire solemnity,
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  • When Clytemnæstra—O the dreadful image
  • Is still before me, in this place, Iphisa,
  • Where now thou tremblest to declare thy wrongs,
  • There did these eyes behold our hapless father
  • Caught in the deadly snare: Pammenes heard
  • His dying groans, and ran with me to save him:
  • But when I came, what did I see! my mother
  • Plunging her ruthless dagger in his breast,
  • To rob him of the poor remains of life.
  • [Turning to Pammenes.
  • Thou sawest me take Orestes in my arms,
  • My dear Orestes; little knew he then
  • Of danger, but as near his murdered father
  • He stood, called out for aid to Clytemnæstra:
  • She, midst the horrors of the guilty scene,
  • Stopped for a moment short, and gave us time
  • Safe to convey the victim from Ægisthus.
  • Whether the tyrant has completed yet
  • The imperfect vengeance in Orestes’ blood,
  • I know not: O my brother, dost thou live,
  • Or hast thou followed thy unhappy father?
  • Alas! I weep for him, and fear for thee.
  • These hands are loaded with inglorious chains,
  • And these sad eyes, forever bathed in tears,
  • See naught but guilt, oppression, and despair.
pammenes.
  • Ye dear remains of Atreus’ honored race,
  • Whose splendor I have seen, whose woes I feel,
  • Permit a friend to fill your weeping souls
  • With cheerful hope, that ever waits propitious
  • To soothe affliction: call to mind what heaven
  • Long since hath promised, that its vengeful hand
  • Should one day lead Orestes to the place
  • Where we preserved him; that Ægisthus there,
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  • Even at yon tomb, and on the fatal day
  • Marked for his impious triumph o’er the dead,
  • Should pay the forfeit of his crime: the Gods
  • Can ne’er deceive; in darkness still they veil
  • Their secret purpose from the eyes of men,
  • And punishment with slow but certain steps,
  • Still follows guilt.
iphisa.
  • But wherefore stays so long
  • Their tardy vengeance? I have languished here
  • In grief and anguish many a tedious hour;
  • Electra, still more wretched, is in chains:
  • Meantime the proud oppressor lives in peace,
  • And glories in his crimes.
electra.
  • Thou seest, Pammenes,
  • Ægisthus still renews his cruel triumph,
  • And celebrates the fatal nuptials; still
  • A wretched exile lives my dear Orestes,
  • Forgetful of his father, and Electra.
pammenes.
  • But mark the course of time: he touches now
  • The age when manly strength, with courage joined,
  • May aid your purpose; hope for his return,
  • And trust in heaven.
electra.
  • We will: thou son of wisdom,
  • Thou good old man, O thou hast darted forth
  • A ray of hope on my despairing soul!
  • If with unpitying eye the gods beheld
  • Our miseries here, and proud oppression, still
  • Unpunished, trampled on the tender feet
  • Of innocence, what hand would crown their altars
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  • With incense and oblation! but kind heaven
  • Will give Orestes to a sister’s arms,
  • And blast the tyrant: hear my voice, Orestes,
  • O hear thy country’s, hear the cries of blood,
  • That call thee forth; come from thy dreary caves,
  • And pathless deserts, where misfortune long
  • Hath tried thy courage; leave thy savage prey,
  • And all the roaming monsters of the forest,
  • To chase the beasts of Argos, to destroy
  • The tyrants of the earth, the murderers
  • Of kings; O haste, and let me guide thy hand
  • Even to the traitor’s breast.
iphisa.
  • No more: repress
  • Thy griefs, Electra; see, thy mother comes.
electra.
  • And have I yet a mother?

SCENE III.

clytemnæstra, electra, iphisa.

clytemnæstra.
  • Hence, and leave me;
  • You may retire, Pammenes; stay, my daughters.
iphisa.
  • Alas! that sacred name dispels my fears.
electra.
  • And doubles mine.
clytemnæstra.
  • Touching your fate, my children,
  • I came to lay a mother’s heart before you.
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  • Barren, thank heaven, hath been my second bed,
  • Nor brought a race of jealous foes to sow
  • Division here. Alas! my little race
  • Is almost run; the secret grief that long
  • Hath preyed on my sad heart will finish soon
  • A life of woe: spite of Ægisthus, still
  • I love my children; spite of all his rage,
  • Electra, thou who in thy infant years
  • So oft hast given me comfort, when the loss
  • Of Iphigenia, and her cruel father
  • Oppressed my soul; though now thy pride disdains me,
  • And braves my power, thou art my daughter still;
  • Unworthy as thou art, there’s still a place
  • In Clytemnæstra’s heart for her Electra.
electra.
  • For me! O heaven, and am I yet beloved;
  • And dost thou feel for thy unhappy daughter?
  • O, if thou dost, behold her chains, behold
  • Yon tomb—
clytemnæstra.
  • Unkind Electra, thus to wake
  • The sad remembrance! thou hast plunged a dagger
  • Into thy mother’s breast; but I deserve it.
electra.
  • Thou hast disarmed Electra, nature pleads
  • A mother’s cause; I own myself to blame
  • For all the bitterness of sorrow poured
  • In dreadful execrations on thy head.
  • By thee delivered to the tyrant’s power,
  • I would have torn thee from him; I lament,
  • But cannot hate thee. O, if gracious heaven
  • Hath touched thy soul with wholesome penitence,
  • Obey its sacred will, and hear the voice
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  • Of conscience, that commands thee to unloose
  • The horrid ties that bind thee to a wretch
  • Despised and hated; follow the great God
  • Who leads thy footsteps to the paths of virtue;
  • Call back your son, let him return to fill
  • The throne of his great ancestors, to scourge
  • A tyrant, to avenge his murdered father,
  • His sisters, and his mother: haste and send
  • For my Orestes.
clytemnæstra.
  • Talk no more of that,
  • Electra, nor speak thus of my Ægisthus:
  • I grieve to see thee in these shameful bonds;
  • But know, a sovereign cannot tamely brook
  • Repeated insults, or embrace a foe:
  • You had provoked him to, be cruel; I,
  • Who am but his first subject, oft have tried
  • To soothe his anger, but in vain: my words,
  • Instead of healing, but inflamed the wound:
  • Electra is indebted to herself
  • For all her deep-felt injuries; henceforth bend
  • To thy condition; let thy sister teach thee
  • That we must yield submissive to our fate,
  • If e’er we hope to change it. I could wish
  • To end my days in peace amongst my children;
  • But if thy rapid and imprudent zeal
  • Should bring Orestes here before the time,
  • His life might answer for it, and thy own,
  • If the king see him: though I pity thee,
  • Electra, yet I owe a husband more
  • Than a lost son, whom I have cause to fear.
electra.
  • O heaven, that monster! he thy husband, he!
  • And is it thus thou pitiest me? alas,
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  • What will this poor, this light remorse avail thee,
  • This fleeting sorrow? was thy tenderness
  • But for a moment, dost thou threaten me,
  • [To Iphisa.
  • Is this, Iphisa, this a mother’s love?
  • [To Clytemnæstra.
  • It seems thou threatenest my Orestes too;
  • Thou hast no cause to fear, nor I to hope
  • For him: alas! perhaps he is no more;
  • Perhaps Ægisthus, the detested tyrant,
  • He whom but now thou didst not blush to call
  • Thy husband, hath in secret ta’en his life.
iphisa.
  • Believe me, Madam, when I call the gods
  • To witness, poor Electra and myself
  • Are strangers to the fate of dear Orestes;
  • Have pity then on your afflicted daughter,
  • Pity your helpless son and spare Electra:
  • She has been wronged; her tears and her reproaches
  • Suit well her fate, and ought to be forgiven.
electra.
  • I must not hope it, must not even complain;
  • And if Orestes lives but in my thoughts
  • ’Tis deemed a crime. I know Ægisthus well,
  • Know his fierce nature; if he fears my brother,
  • He’ll soon destroy him.
clytemnæstra.
  • Know, thy brother lives;
  • If he’s in danger, ’tis from thy imprudence;
  • Therefore be humble, moderate thy transports,
  • Respect thy mother: thinkest thou I come here,
  • Elate with joy, to lead the splendid triumph?
  • O no, to me it is a day of sorrow;
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  • Thou weepest in chains, and I upon a throne.
  • I know the cruel vows thy hatred made
  • Against me: O, Electra! cease thy prayers,
  • The gods have heard thee but too well already:
  • Retire, and leave me.

SCENE IV.

clytemnæstra.
  • [Alone.
  • How it shocks my soul
  • To see my children! O the guilty bed!
  • My fatal marriage, and long prosperous crimes,
  • Adultery and murder, horrid bonds!
  • How ye torment me now! my little dream
  • Of happiness is o’er, and conscience darts
  • Its sudden rays on my affrighted soul.
  • How can Ægisthus live so long in peace!
  • Fearless he leads me on to share with him
  • These cruel triumphs; but my spirits fail,
  • My strength forsakes me, and I tremble now
  • At every omen; fear my subjects, fear
  • All Argos, Greece, Electra, and Orestes.
  • How dreadful ’tis to hate the blood that flowed
  • Congenial with our own, to dread the names
  • Which mortals hold so sacred and so dear!
  • But injured nature, banished from my heart,
  • Indignant frowns, and to avenge herself
  • Now bids me tremble at the name of son.
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SCENE V.

ægisthus, clytemnæstra.

clytemnæstra.
  • Cruel Ægisthus, wherefore wouldst thou lead me
  • To this sad place, the seat of death and horror?
ægisthus.
  • Is then the solemn pomp, the feast of joy,
  • The sweet remembrance of our prosperous days,
  • Grown hateful to thee? is our marriage day
  • A day of horror?
clytemnæstra.
  • No: but here, Ægisthus,
  • There may be danger: my unhappy children
  • Have filled this heart with anguish: poor Iphisa
  • Weeps her hard lot; Electra is in chains;
  • This fatal place reminds me of the blood
  • We shed, reminds me of my dear Orestes,
  • Of Agamemnon.
ægisthus.
  • Let Iphisa weep,
  • And proud Electra rave; I bore too long
  • Her bitter taunts, ’tis fit her haughtiness
  • Should now be humbled; I’ll not suffer her
  • To stir up foul rebellion in my kingdom,
  • To tell the factions that Orestes comes,
  • And call down vengeance on me; every hour
  • That hated name is echoed in my ear,
  • I must not bear it.
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clytemnæstra.
  • Ha! what name was that?
  • Orestes! O, I shudder at the thought
  • Of his approach: an oracle long since
  • Declared, that here, even at the fatal tomb
  • Whither thou leadest, his parricidal hand
  • Should one day rise vindictive, and destroy us.
  • Why therefore wouldst thou tempt the gods, why thus
  • Expose a life so dear to Clytemnæstra?
ægisthus.
  • Be not alarmed; Orestes ne’er shall hurt thee:
  • His be the danger; for I have sent forth
  • Some friends in search of him, and soon I hope
  • Shall see him in the toils; a wretched exile
  • From clime to clime he roams, and now it seems
  • In Epidaurus’ gloomy forest hides
  • His ignominious head; but there perhaps
  • We have more friends than Clytemnæstra thinks of;
  • The king may serve us.
clytemnæstra.
  • But, my son—
ægisthus.
  • I know
  • He’s fierce, implacable, revengeful; stung
  • By his misfortunes, all the blood of Atreus
  • Boils in his breast, and animates his rage.
clytemnæstra.
  • Alas! my lord, his rage is but too just.
ægisthus.
  • Be it our business then to make it vain;
  • Thou knowest I’ve sent my Plisthenes in secret
  • To Epidaurus.
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clytemnæstra.
  • But for what?
ægisthus.
  • To fix
  • My throne in safety, and remove thy fears:
  • Yes, Plisthenes, my son, by thee adopted
  • Heir to my kingdom, knows too well how much
  • His interest must depend on the event
  • E’er to neglect his charge: he is thy son,
  • Think of no other: had Electra’s heart
  • Submissive yielded to another’s counsels,
  • She had been happy in my Plisthenes:
  • But she shall feel the power which she contemns,
  • She and her haughty brother, her Orestes,
  • He may be found perhaps.—You seem disturbed.
clytemnæstra.
  • Alas! Ægisthus, must we sacrifice
  • More victims? must I purchase length of days
  • With added guilt? Thou knowest whose blood we shed—
  • And must my son too perish, must I pay
  • So dear a price for life?
ægisthus.
  • Remember—
clytemnæstra.
  • No:
  • First let me ask the sacred oracle—
ægisthus.
  • What canst thou hope from gods or oracles,
  • Were they consulted on the blissful day
  • That gave Ægisthus to his Clytemnæstra?
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clytemnæstra.
  • Thou hast recalled a time when heaven, I fear,
  • Was much offended: love defies the gods,
  • But fear adores them; guilt weighs down my soul,
  • Do not oppress my feeble spirits; time,
  • That changes all, hath altered this proud heart;
  • The hand of heaven is on me, and subdues
  • The haughty rage that once inspired my breast;
  • Not that my tender friendship for Ægisthus
  • Can e’er decay, our interests are the same;
  • But to behold my daughter made a slave,
  • To think on my poor lost abandoned son,
  • To think that now, even now, perhaps he dies
  • By vile assassins, or, if living, lives
  • My foe, and hates the guilty Clytemnæstra,
  • Is it not dreadful? pity me, Ægisthus,
  • I am a mother still.
ægisthus.
  • Thou art my wife;
  • Thou art my queen; resume thy wonted courage,
  • And be thyself again; indulge no more
  • This foolish fondness for ungrateful children,
  • Who merit not thy love; consult alone
  • Ægisthus’ safety, and thy own repose.
clytemnæstra.
  • Repose! the guilty mind can ne’er enjoy it.

End of the First Act.

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ACT II.

SCENE I.

orestes, pylades.

orestes.
  • Whither, my Pylades, hath cruel fate
  • Conducted us? alas! Orestes lives
  • But to increase the sorrows of his friend:
  • Our arms, our treasures, and our soldiers lost
  • In the rude storm; here on this desert coast,
  • No succor near, deserted and forlorn
  • We wander on, and naught but hope remains.
  • Where are we?
pylades.
  • That I know not; but since fate
  • Hath led us hither, let us not despair;
  • It is enough for me, Orestes lives:
  • Be confident; the barbarous Ægisthus
  • In vain pursued thy life, which heaven preserved
  • In Epidaurus, when thy arm subdued
  • The gallant Plisthenes: let naught alarm
  • Or terrify thy soul, but boldly urge
  • Thy way, protected by that guardian God
  • Who watches o’er the just, the great avenger,
  • Who hath already to thy valor given
  • The son, and promised that ere long the father
  • Shall follow him.
orestes.
  • Alas, my friend, that God
  • In anger now withdraws his powerful aid,
  • And frowns upon us, as thy cruel fate
  • Too plainly shows; a terrible example!
  • But say, within the rock didst thou conceal
  • Edition: current; Page: [85]
  • The urn, which to Mycenæ, horrid seat
  • Of murder, by the gods command, we bear;
  • That urn which holds the ashes of my foe,
  • Of Plisthenes; with that we must deceive
  • The tyrant.
pylades.
  • I have done it.
orestes.
  • Gracious heaven!
  • When shall we reap the fruits of our obedience?
  • When will the wished-for day of vengeance come?
  • Shall I again behold my native soil,
  • The dear, the dreadful place where first I saw
  • The light of day? Where, shall I find my sister,
  • The pride, the glory, of admiring Greece;
  • That generous maid, whom all unite to praise,
  • But none will dare to succor? She preserved
  • My life; and, worthy of her noble father,
  • Hath never bent beneath the oppressive hand
  • Of power, but braved the fury of the storm.
  • How many kings, how many heroes, fought
  • For Menelaus! Agamemnon dies,
  • And Greece forgets him, whilst his hapless son,
  • Deserted, wanders o’er a faithless world,
  • To seek some blest asylum for repose.
  • Alas, without thy friendship I had been
  • The most distressed, most abject of mankind:
  • But heaven, in pity to my woes, hath sent
  • My Pylades; it would not let me perish,
  • But gave me to subdue my hated foe,
  • And half avenge my father: say, my friend,
  • What path will lead us to the tyrant’s court?
pylades.
  • Behold that palace, and the towering height
  • Edition: current; Page: [86]
  • Of yon proud temple, the dark grove overgrown
  • With cypress, and the tomb, rich images
  • Of mournful splendor all: and see! this way
  • Advancing, comes a venerable sage,
  • Of mildest aspect, and whose years, no doubt,
  • Have long experience of calamity;
  • His soul will melt at thy disastrous fate.
orestes.
  • Is every mortal born to suffer? hark!
  • He groans, my Pylades.

SCENE II.

orestes, pylades, pammenes.

pylades.
  • Whoe’er thou art,
  • Stop, and inform us: we are strangers here.
  • Two poor unhappy friends, long time the sport
  • Of winds and waves, now on this unknown shore
  • Cast helpless, canst thou tell us if this place
  • Will be or fatal to us, or propitious?
pammenes.
  • I am a simple, plain old man, and here
  • Worship the gods, adore their justice, live
  • In humble fear of them, and exercise
  • The sacred rights of hospitality;
  • Ye both are welcome to my little cottage,
  • There to despise with me the pride of kings,
  • Their pomp and riches; come, my friends, for such
  • I ever hold the wretched.
Edition: current; Page: [87]
orestes.
  • Generous stranger,
  • May gracious heaven inspire us with the means
  • To recompense thy goodness! but inform us
  • What place is this; who is your king?
pammenes.
  • Ægisthus:
  • I am his subject.
orestes.
  • Terrors, crimes, and vengeance!
  • O heaven, Ægisthus!
pylades.
  • Soft: do not betray us;
  • Be careful.
orestes.
  • Gods, Ægisthus! he who murdered—
pammenes.
  • The same.
orestes.
  • And Clytemnæstra, lives she still
  • After that fatal blow.
pammenes.
  • She reigns with him;
  • The rest is known too well.
orestes.
  • That tomb before us,
  • And yonder palace—
pammenes.
  • Is inhabited
  • Now by Ægisthus; built, I well remember,
  • Edition: current; Page: [88]
  • By worthier hands, and for a better use.
  • The tomb thou seest, forgive me if I weep
  • At the remembrance, is the tomb of him
  • I loved, my lord, my king—of Agamemnon.
orestes.
  • O ’tis too much! I sink beneath it.
pylades.
  • Hide
  • Thy tears, my friend.
  • [To Orestes, who turns away from him.
pammenes.
  • You seem much moved, and fain
  • Would stop the tide of grief: O give it way,
  • Indulge thy sorrows, and lament the son
  • Of gods, the noble conqueror of Troy;
  • Whilst they insult his sacred memory here,
  • Strangers shall weep the fate of Agamemnon.
orestes.
  • A stranger as I am, I cannot look
  • With cold indifference on the noble race
  • Of Atreus, ’tis a Grecian’s duty ever
  • To weep the fate of heroes, and I ought—
  • But doth Electra live in Argos still?
pammenes.
  • She doth, she’s here.
orestes.
  • I run, I fly to meet her.
pylades.
  • Ha! whither wouldst thou go! What! brave the gods
  • Hazard thy precious life! forbear, my lord.
  • [To Pammenes.
  • O, sir, conduct us to the neighboring temple,
  • Edition: current; Page: [89]
  • There will we lay our gifts before the altar
  • In humble duty, and adore that God
  • Who ruled the waves, and saved us from destruction.
orestes.
  • Wilt thou conduct us to the sacred tomb
  • Where lie the ashes of a murdered hero?
  • There must I offer to his honored shade
  • A secret sacrifice.
pammenes.
  • O heavenly justice,
  • Thou sacrifice to him! amidst his foes!
  • O noble youth! my master had a son,
  • Who, in Electra’s arms—but I forbear,
  • Ægisthus comes: away; I’ll follow you.
orestes.
  • Ægisthus! ha!
pylades.
  • We must avoid his presence.

SCENE III.

ægisthus, clytemnæstra, pammenes.

ægisthus.
  • [To Pammenes
  • Who are those strangers? one of them methought
  • Seemed, by his stately port and fair demeanor,
  • Of noble birth, a gloom of melancholy
  • Hangs on his brow: he struck me as he passed:
  • Is he our subject? knowest thou whence he came?
Edition: current; Page: [90]
pammenes.
  • I only know they are unfortunate;
  • Driven by the tempest on those rocks, they came
  • For shelter here; as strangers I relieved them;
  • It was my duty: if they tell me truth,
  • Greece is their country.
ægisthus.
  • Thou shalt answer for them
  • On peril of thy life.
clytemnæstra.
  • Alas! my lord,
  • Can these poor objects raise suspicion?
ægisthus.
  • Yes:
  • The people murmur; everything alarms me.
clytemnæstra.
  • Such for these fifteen years hath been our fate,
  • To fear, and to be feared; the bitter poison
  • To all my happiness.
ægisthus.
  • Away, Pammenes;
  • Let me know who and whence they are; why thus
  • They come so near the palace; from what port
  • Their vessel sailed, and wherefore on the seas
  • Where I command: away, and bring me word.
Edition: current; Page: [91]

SCENE IV.

ægisthus, clytemnæstra.

ægisthus.
  • Well, madam, to remove thy idle fears,
  • The interpreters of heaven it seems at length
  • Have been consulted; but in vain: their silence
  • Doubles thy grief, and heightens thy despair;
  • For to thyself, thy restless spirit ne’er
  • Will know repose; thou tremblest at the thought
  • Of thy son’s death, yet fearest his dangerous life:
  • Consult no more thy doubtful oracles,
  • And hesitating priests, that brood in secret
  • O’er the dark bosom of futurity;
  • But hear Ægisthus, he shall give thee peace,
  • And satisfy thy soul: this hand determines,
  • This tongue pronounces Clytemnæstra’s fate:
  • If thou wouldst live and reign, confide in me,
  • And me alone, and let me hear no more
  • Of your unworthy son; but for Electra,
  • She’s to be feared, and we must think of her:
  • Perhaps her marriage with my Plisthenes
  • Might stop the mouth of faction, and appease
  • The discontented people: thou wouldst wish
  • To see the deadly hatred, that so long
  • Hath raged between us, softened into peace;
  • To see our interests and our hearts united:
  • Let it be so. Go thou, and talk with her;
  • But take good heed her pride refuses not
  • The proffered boon, that were an insult soon
  • She might repent of; but I hope with you,
  • That slavery hath bowed down her haughty spirit,
  • Edition: current; Page: [92]
  • That this unhoped for, unexpected change
  • From poverty and chains to rank and splendor,
  • Joined to a mother’s kind authority,
  • And above all, to Ambition, will persuade her
  • To seize the golden minutes, and be wise:
  • But if she spurns the happiness that courts her,
  • Her insolence shall meet its due reward.
  • Your foolish fondness, and her father’s name,
  • Have fed her pride too long; but let her dread,
  • If she submits not, a severer fate,
  • Chains heavier far, and endless banishment.

SCENE V.

clytemnæstra, electra.

clytemnæstra.
  • Come near, my daughter, and with milder looks
  • Behold thy mother: I have mourned in secret,
  • And wept with thee thy hard and cruel bondage,
  • Though not unmerited; for sure thy hatred
  • Was most unjust, Electra: as a queen,
  • I was offended; as a mother, grieved;
  • But I have gained your pardon, and your rights
  • Are all restored.
electra.
  • O madam, at your feet—
clytemnæstra.
  • But I would still do more.
electra.
  • What more?
Edition: current; Page: [93]
clytemnæstra.
  • Support
  • Your race, restore the honored name of Pelops,
  • And re-unite his long-divided children.
electra.
  • Ha! talkest thou of Orestes? speak, go on.
clytemnæstra.
  • I speak of thee, and hope at last Electra
  • Will be Electra’s friend: I know thy soul
  • Aspires to empire, be thyself again,
  • And let thy hopes transport thee to the throne
  • Of Argos and Mycenæ; rise from chains
  • And ignominious slavery to the throne
  • Of thy great ancestors: Ægisthus yields
  • To my entreaties, as a daughter yet
  • He would embrace thee, to his Plisthenes
  • Would join Electra; every hour the youth
  • From Epidaurus is expected here;
  • When he returns he weds you: look, my daughter,
  • Towards the bright prospect of thy future glory,
  • And bury all the past in deep oblivion.
electra.
  • Can I forget the past, or look with joy
  • On that which is to come? O cruel fate,
  • This is the worst indignity that e’er
  • Electra bore: remember whence I sprang,
  • Remember, I am Agamemnon’s daughter,
  • And wouldst thou bind me to his murderer’s son?
  • Give me my chains again, oppress my soul
  • With all the horrors of base servitude;
  • All that the tyrant e’er inflicted on me,
  • Shame and reproach suit with my sad condition;
  • I have supported them, and looked on death
  • Edition: current; Page: [94]
  • Without a fear: a thousand times Ægisthus
  • Hath threatened me with death, but this is worse;
  • Thou art more cruel far to ask my vows,
  • My love, my honor; but I see your aim,
  • I know your purpose; poor Orestes slain,
  • His murderer trembles at a sister’s claim,
  • And dreads my title to a father’s throne:
  • The tyrant wants my hand to second him,
  • To seal his poor precarious rights with mine,
  • And make me an accomplice in his guilt:
  • O, if I have a right Ægisthus fears,
  • Let him erase my title in my blood,
  • And tear it from me: if another arm
  • Be needful to his purpose, lend him thine;
  • Strike here, and join Electra to her brother;
  • Strike here, and I shall know ’tis Clytemnæstra.
clytemnæstra.
  • It is too much: ungrateful as thou art,
  • I pitied thee; but all my hopes are past:
  • What have I done, what would I do, to bend
  • Thy stubborn heart? tears, menaces, reproaches,
  • And love and tenderness, the throne itself,
  • Which but for me thou never couldst have hoped,
  • Prayers, punishment, and pardon, naught availed,
  • And now I yield thee to thy fate: farewell!
  • Thou sayest that thou shalt know me for thy mother,
  • For Clytemnæstra, by my cruelty:
  • I am thy mother, and I am thy queen,
  • Remember that; to Agamemnon’s race
  • Naught do I owe but hatred and revenge;
  • I will not warm a serpent in my breast
  • To sting me: henceforth storm, complain, and weep,
  • I shall not heed the clamors of a slave:
  • I loved thee once, with grief I own I loved thee;
  • But from this hour remember Clytemnæstra
  • Edition: current; Page: [95]
  • Is not thy mother, but Ægisthus’ wife;
  • The bonds are broken that united us,
  • Electra broke them; nature hath disclaimed,
  • And I abjure them.

SCENE VI.

electra.
  • [Alone.
  • Gracious heaven! is this
  • A mother’s voice? O day the bitterest sure
  • That ever rose since my dear father’s death!
  • I fear I said too much, but my full heart,
  • Spite of myself, would pour its venom forth:
  • She told me my Orestes was no more;
  • Could I bear that? O if a cruel mother
  • Has robbed me of my best, my dearest treasure,
  • Why should I court my worst of foes, why fawn
  • And cringe to her, to live a vile dependant
  • On her precarious bounties; to lift up
  • These withered hands to unrelenting heaven,
  • To see my father’s bed and throne usurped
  • By this base spoiler, this inhuman tyrant,
  • Who robbed me of a mother’s heart, and now
  • Hath taken Orestes from me?

SCENE VII.

electra, iphisa.

iphisa.
  • O Electra,
  • Complain no more.
Edition: current; Page: [96]
electra.
  • Why not?
iphisa.
  • Partake my joy.
electra.
  • Joy is a stranger to this heart, Iphisa,
  • And ever shall be.
iphisa.
  • Still there is hope.
electra.
  • O no,
  • Still must we weep: for if I may believe
  • A mother, our dear brother, our Orestes,
  • Is dead.
iphisa.
  • And if I may believe these eyes,
  • He lives, he’s here, Electra.
electra.
  • Can it be?
  • Good heaven! O do not trifle with a heart
  • Like mine: Iphisa, didst thou say Orestes?
iphisa.
  • I did.
electra.
  • Thou wouldst not with a flattering dream
  • Deceive me, my Iphisa—but, go on,
  • For hope and fear distract me.
iphisa.
  • O my sister,
  • Two strangers, cast by some benignant God
  • Edition: current; Page: [97]
  • On these unhappy coasts, are just arrived,
  • And hither, by the care of good Pammenes,
  • Conducted; one of them—
electra.
  • I faint: die—
  • Well, one of them—
iphisa.
  • I saw the noble youth:
  • O what a lustre sparkled in his eye!
  • His air, his mien, his every gesture bore
  • The perfect semblage of a demi-god;
  • Even as they paint the illustrious Grecian chief,
  • The conqueror of Troy; such majesty
  • And sweet deportment ne’er did I behold;
  • But with Pammenes he retired, and hid
  • His beauteous form from my desiring eyes:
  • Struck with the charming image, and amazed,
  • I ran to seek thee here, beneath the shade
  • Of this dark grove, to tell the pleasing tale:
  • But mark what followed—on the sacred tomb,
  • Where we so oft have mingled our sad tears,
  • I saw fresh garlands, saw the votive wreath,
  • The water sprinkled over it, and the hair
  • Doubtless of those whom I so late had seen,
  • The illustrious strangers: near to these was laid,
  • What most confirmed my hopes, a glittering sword,
  • That spoke methought the day of vengeance near:
  • Who but a son, a brother, and a hero,
  • Raised by the gods to save his falling country,
  • Would dare to brave the tyrant thus? ’Tis he,
  • Electra, heaven hath sent him to our aid,
  • The lightning glares upon us, and the thunder
  • Will soon be heard.
Edition: current; Page: [98]
electra.
  • I must believe Iphisa,
  • And hope the best; but is it not a snare
  • Laid by the tyrant? Come: we’ll know the truth,
  • Let us away—I must be satisfied.
iphisa.
  • We must not search him in the dark retreat
  • Where he is hid. Pammenes says, his life
  • Would answer for it.
electra.
  • Ha! what dost thou say?
  • Alas! we are deceived, betrayed, Iphisa,
  • By cruel heaven: thus, after fifteen years,
  • Restored, Orestes would have run with joy
  • To the dear arms that saved him, would have cheered
  • Electra’s mournful heart, he ne’er had fled
  • From thee, Iphisa: O that sword thou sawest,
  • Which raised thy sanguine hope, alarms my fears;
  • A cruel mother would be well informed,
  • And in her eyes I read the barbarous joy
  • She felt within: O dart one ray of hope,
  • Ye vengeful gods, on my despairing soul!
  • Will not Pammenes yield to my entreaties?
  • He will; he must: away, I’ll speak to him.
iphisa.
  • Do not, Electra; think what cruel eyes
  • Watch o’er our steps, and mark our every action.
  • If he is come, we shall discover him
  • By our fond zeal, and hazard his sweet life:
  • If we’re deceived, our search but irritates
  • The tyrant, and endangers good Pammenes;
  • But let us pay our duty at the tomb,
  • Edition: current; Page: [99]
  • There we at least may weep without offence.
  • Who knows, Electra, but the noble stranger
  • May meet us in that blest asylum; there
  • That heaven, whose goodness thy impatient rage
  • Hath called in question, may yet hear my vows,
  • And give him to our wishes and our tears:
  • Let us be gone.
electra.
  • Thou hast revived my hopes:
  • But O, I die with grief, if thou deceivest me!

End of the Second Act.

ACT III.

SCENE I.

orestes, pylades, pammenes.

[A slave at the farther end of the stage carrying an urn and a sword.

pammenes.
  • Blest be the day that to our wishes thus
  • Restores the long-expected hope of Greece,
  • My royal master’s son, the minister
  • Of heaven’s high will, to execute swift vengeance
  • On Agamemnon’s foes! The tyrant long
  • Hath dreaded, long foreseen the impending blow;
  • Conscious of guilt, in every face unknown
  • Still he beholds his master and his judge,
  • And still Orestes haunts his troubled soul:
  • Much he inquires concerning you, and longs
  • To see you both. I have a thousand fears,
  • A thousand hopes; heaven grant we may succeed!
  • Meantime I have obeyed your orders, sounded
  • The people’s hearts, and strove to animate
  • Edition: current; Page: [100]
  • Their zeal; inspired them with the distant hope
  • Of an avenger; soon or late the race
  • Of rightful kings must prosper: every heart
  • Glowed with warm transport at Orestes’ name;
  • Awakened from her slumber, vengeance rises
  • With double vigor; my few faithful friends,
  • Who dwell in this lone desert with Pammenes,
  • Lift up their hands to heaven, and call on thee;
  • And yet I tremble to behold thee here
  • Unarmed and unassisted, lest some chance
  • Discover thee, and blast our hopes: the foe
  • Is barbarous, active, vigilant, and bold;
  • One fatal stroke may ruin all; whilst thou,
  • Against a tyrant seated on his throne,
  • Bringest nothing but Orestes, and his friend.
pylades.
  • And are not they sufficient? ’Tis the work
  • Of heaven that oft fulfils its own designs
  • By means most wonderful, that in the deep
  • O’erwhelmed our little all, and here alone
  • Hath left us to perform the sacrifice.
  • Sometimes it arms the sovereigns of the earth
  • With tenfold vengeance; sometimes, in contempt
  • Of human valor, strikes in awful silence;
  • Nature and friendship then assert the rights
  • Of heaven, and vindicate its power divine.
orestes.
  • Orestes asks no other aid, no arm
  • But thine, my Pylades.
pylades.
  • Take heed, my friend,
  • Quit not the paths of safety pointed out
  • By the just gods; remember thou art bound
  • Edition: current; Page: [101]
  • By solemn oath to hide thee from Electra;
  • Thy peace, thy happiness, thy kingdom, all
  • Depend upon it: O refrain thy transports,
  • Dissemble, and obey; ’tis fit Electra
  • Should be deceived, even more than Clytemnæstra.
pammenes.
  • Thank heaven, that thus ordained it for thy safety.
  • Already hath Electra, bathed in tears,
  • And calling for her great avenger, filled
  • These solitary mansions with her cries;
  • Importunate and bold, she sought me out,
  • And with imprudent warmth, demanded loud,
  • Where was her brother, where her dear Orestes:
  • Nature had whispered to her anxious heart
  • He was not far from his Electra: scarce
  • Could I withhold her eager steps.
orestes.
  • Ye gods!
  • Must I refrain? O insupportable!
pylades.
  • You hesitate; O think, my dear Orestes,
  • Think on the menaces of angry heaven,
  • Think on its goodness that preserved thy life
  • From every danger; if thou shouldst oppose
  • Its sacred will, eternal wrath awaits
  • To blast thy purpose; tremble, son of Atreus
  • And Tantalus, remember what thy hapless race
  • Hath suffered, nor expect a milder doom.
orestes.
  • What power invincible presides unseen
  • O’er human actions, and directs our fate?
  • Is it a crime to listen to the voice
  • Of fond affection? O eternal justice,
  • Edition: current; Page: [102]
  • Thou deep abyss, unsearchable to man!
  • Shall not our weakness and our guilt by thee
  • Be still distinguished? shall the man who wanders
  • From virtue’s paths unknowing, and who braves
  • Thy power, shall he who yields to nature’s laws,
  • And he who breaks them, share an equal fate?
  • But shall the slave condemn his master? heaven
  • Gave us our being, and can owe us nothing:
  • Therefore no more: in silence I obey.
  • Give me the urn, the ring, and bloody sword,
  • Which thou hast hither brought, they shall be offered
  • Far from Electra’s sight: let us be gone;
  • I’ll see my sister when I have avenged her.
  • [Turning to Pammenes.
  • Go thou, Pammenes, and prepare the hearts
  • Of thy brave followers for the great event
  • Which Greece awaits, and I must execute:
  • Deceive Ægisthus, and my guilty mother;
  • Let them enjoy the transitory bliss,
  • The short-lived pleasure of Orestes’ death,
  • If an unnatural mother can behold
  • With joy the ashes of a murdered son:
  • Here will I wait, and stop them as they pass.

SCENE II.

electra and iphisa on one side of the stage orestes and pylades on the other, with a slave carrying an urn and a sword.

electra.
  • [To Iphisa.
  • Hope disappointed is the worst of sorrows.
  • O my Iphisa, all thy flattering dreams
  • Edition: current; Page: [103]
  • Are vanished, and Pammenes, with a word,
  • Hath undeceived us; the fair day that shone
  • So bright is clouded o’er, and darkness spreads
  • On every side: alas! our wretched life
  • Is but a round of never-ending woes.
orestes.
  • [To Pylades.
  • Two women, and in tears!
pylades.
  • Alas, my lord,
  • Beneath a tyrant all things wear the face
  • Of grief and misery.
orestes.
  • In Ægisthus’ court
  • Nothing should reign but sorrow.
iphisa.
  • [To Electra.
  • Look, Electra,
  • The strangers come this way.
electra.
  • Unhappy omen!
  • They did pronounce Ægisthus’ hated name.
iphisa.
  • One is that hero whom I told thee of,
  • The noble youth—
electra.
  • [Looking at Orestes.
  • Alas! I too, like thee,
  • Have been deceived.
  • [Turning to Orestes.
  • Who are ye, wretched strangers;
  • And what hath led you to this fatal shore?
Edition: current; Page: [104]
orestes.
  • We come to see the king who reigns in Argos,
  • And take our orders from him.
electra.
  • Are ye Grecians,
  • And call ye him a king, the murderer
  • Of Agamemnon?
orestes.
  • He is sovereign here,
  • And heaven commands us to respect his throne,
  • Not to dispute his title.
electra.
  • Horrid maxim!
  • And what have you to ask of this proud king,
  • This bloody monster here?
orestes.
  • We come to bring him
  • Some happy tidings.
electra.
  • Dreadful then to us
  • They must be.
iphisa.
  • [Seeing the Urn.
  • Ha! an urn! O grief, O horror!
pylades.
  • Orestes—
electra.
  • O ye gods! Orestes dead!
  • I faint, I die.
Edition: current; Page: [a]
lf0060-09_figure_002.jpg
Edition: current; Page: [105]
orestes.
  • What have we done, my friend!
  • They could not be mistaken, for their grief
  • Betrays them: O! my blood runs cold.—Fair princess,
  • Be comforted, and live.
electra.
  • Orestes dead?
  • And can I live? O no, barbarians, here
  • Complete your cruelty.
iphisa.
  • Alas! you see
  • The poor remains of Agamemnon; we
  • Are his unhappy daughters, the sad sisters
  • Of lost Orestes.
orestes.
  • O Electra! O
  • Iphisa! O where am I? cruel gods!
  • [To the slave carrying the urn.
  • Take from their sight those monuments of woe,
  • That fatal urn, which—
electra.
  • [Running towards the urn.
  • Wouldst thou take it from me?
  • Wouldst thou deprive me of the little all
  • That’s left Electra by offended heaven?
  • O give it me.
  • [She takes the urn, and embraces it.
orestes.
  • Forbear; what wouldst thou do?
Edition: current; Page: [106]
pylades.
  • Away: Ægisthus only must receive
  • These precious relics.
electra.
  • Must I then behold
  • My brother’s ashes in a tyrant’s hand,
  • And are Orestes’ murderers before me?
orestes.
  • Horrid reproach! it shocks my very soul:
  • I can no longer—
electra.
  • Yet you weep with me:
  • O, in the name of the avenging gods,
  • If ye are guiltless, if your generous hands
  • Collected his dear ashes—
orestes.
  • Gracious heaven!
electra.
  • If ye lament his death, O answer me:
  • Who told you of his fate: art thou his friend?
  • Speak, noble youth: both dumb! yet both afflicted:
  • Even whilst your words plant daggers in my heart,
  • Ye seem to pity me.
orestes.
  • It is too much;
  • The gods have been obeyed enough already.
electra.
  • What sayest thou?
orestes.
  • Leave those poor remains.
Edition: current; Page: [107]
electra.
  • O no:
  • I never will: alas! is every heart
  • Inflexible? I tell thee, cruel stranger,
  • I must not, cannot give thee back again
  • The fatal gift thy pity hath bestowed:
  • ’Tis my Orestes; and I will embrace him:
  • Behold his dying sister.
orestes.
  • Cruel gods!
  • Where are your thunders now? O strike: Electra,
  • I can no longer—
electra.
  • Ha!
orestes.
  • I ought—
pylades.
  • O heaven!
electra.
  • Go on—
orestes.
  • Know then—

SCENE III.

ægisthus, clytemnæstra, orestes, pylades, electra, iphisa, pammenes, Guards.

ægisthus.
  • O glorious spectacle!
  • Fortune, I thank thee: Can it be, Pammenes?
  • Edition: current; Page: [108]
  • My rival dead! it is, it must be true,
  • Electra’s grief confirms it.
electra.
  • Dreadful hour?
orestes.
  • To what am I reserved?
ægisthus.
  • Seize on the urn,
  • And wrest it from her.
  • [They take the urn from her.
electra.
  • O thou hast robbed me of the only good
  • This life could e’er afford me, barbarous monster!
  • O take Electra too, tear forth this heart
  • And join me to Orestes; father, son,
  • Sister, and brother, all thy wretched victims
  • Unite to satiate thy revenge: now, tyrant,
  • Enjoy thy happiness, enjoy thy crimes:
  • And thou, inhuman mother, look with him
  • On the delightful spectacle, it suits
  • Thy nature, and is worthy of you both.
  • [Iphisa leads her off.

SCENE IV.

ægisthus, clytemnæstra, orestes, pylades, Guards.

clytemnæstra.
  • Must I bear this?
Edition: current; Page: [109]
ægisthus.
  • She shall be punished for it:
  • Let her complain to heaven, for heaven itself
  • Will justify Ægisthus; it approves
  • Where it forbids not; therefore I am guiltless,
  • And happy too: my throne stands firmly now,
  • My life’s in safety; but I must reward
  • The zeal and valor of these noble Grecians.
orestes.
  • It was our duty, royal sir, to lay
  • These proofs before you: take this sword, this ring,
  • You must remember it: ’twas Agamemnon’s.
clytemnæstra.
  • And was it then by thee Orestes fell?
ægisthus.
  • If thou hast served me, thine be the reward:
  • But, say, who art thou, of what race?
orestes.
  • My name
  • Must not as yet be known; perhaps hereafter
  • It may be: in the fields of Troy my father
  • Distinguished shone amongst the great avengers
  • Of Menelaus; in those days of glory
  • He fought, and fell: deserted and forlorn,
  • Left by a cruel mother, and pursued
  • By most inhuman foes, this friend alone
  • Supported me; was fortune, father, all;
  • With him I still have trod the paths of honor,
  • With him defied the malice of my fate:
  • Such is my story.
ægisthus.
  • But say where thy arm
  • Avenged me of this hated prince: inform me.
Edition: current; Page: [110]
orestes.
  • ’Twas a word that to the temple leads
  • Of Epidaurus, near Achemor’s tomb.
ægisthus.
  • The king had set a price upon his head:
  • How came you not to ask for your reward?
orestes.
  • Because I hated infamy, and fought
  • For vengeance, not for hire; I did not mean
  • To sell his blood; a private motive raised
  • This arm against him, as my friend well knows,
  • And I revenged myself without the aid
  • Of kings, nor shall I boast the victory:
  • Forgive me, sir: I tremble; for the widow
  • Of Agamemnon’s here; perhaps I’ve served,
  • Perhaps offended her; I’ll take my leave.
ægisthus.
  • Thou shalt not; stay, I charge thee.
clytemnæstra.
  • Let him go:
  • That urn, and the sad story he has told,
  • Have filled my soul with horror: heaven, my lord,
  • Protects your throne and life, be thankful for it,
  • And leave a mother to indulge her sorrows.
orestes.
  • Madam, I thought that Agamemnon’s son
  • Was hateful to you.
clytemnæstra.
  • I must own I feared him.
orestes.
  • Feared him?
Edition: current; Page: [111]
clytemnæstra.
  • I did indeed; for he was born
  • To be most guilty.
orestes.
  • Guilty? and to whom?
clytemnæstra.
  • The wretched wanderer, thou knowest, was doomed
  • To hate a mother, doomed to shed the blood
  • From whence he sprang; such was his horrid fate:
  • Perhaps he had fulfilled—and yet, his death,
  • I know not why, affrights me, and I tremble
  • To look on you who saved me from his vengeance.
orestes.
  • Alas! a son against a mother armed!
  • O who could loose that sacred tie? perhaps
  • He wished—
clytemnæstra.
  • O heaven!
ægisthus.
  • What sayest thou? didst thou know him?
pylades.
  • [Aside.
  • He will discover all.
  • [To Ægisthus.
  • He did, my lord,
  • The wretched soon unite, and soon divide:
  • At Delphi first we saw him.
orestes.
  • Yes: I know
  • His purpose well.
Edition: current; Page: [112]
ægisthus.
  • What was it?
orestes.
  • To murder thee.
ægisthus.
  • I’ve seen his malice long, but I despised it.
  • Meantime Electra used Orestes’ name
  • To spread division o’er my kingdom; she
  • Was my worst foe: thou hast avenged me of her,
  • Take thy reward, I yield her to thy power;
  • She shall be thine: the haughty maid, who spurned
  • The great alliance with Ægisthus’ son;
  • Henceforth she is thy slave: the wretched race
  • Of Priam long beneath the conqueror’s yoke
  • Submissive bowed, and dragged the servile chain;
  • And wherefore should not Agememnon’s blood
  • Bend in its turn, and share an equal fate?
clytemnæstra.
  • Would Clytemnæstra suffer that!
ægisthus.
  • Thou wouldst not
  • Defend thy worst of foes; proscribe Orestes,
  • Yet spare Electra.
  • [To Orestes.
  • Leave the urn with me.
orestes.
  • We will, my lord, and shall accept your offer.
clytemnæstra.
  • That were to carry our resentment further
  • Than justice warrants: let him hence, and bear
  • Some other recompense: we too must go:
  • Edition: current; Page: [113]
  • Let us, my lord, I beg thee, let us quit
  • These horrid mansions of the dead, where naught
  • But dreadful images on every side
  • Surrounds me: O we never can prepare
  • The bloody feast between the father’s tomb
  • And the son’s ashes! How shall we invoke
  • The household gods, whom we have injured; how,
  • Amidst our cruel sports, give up the blood
  • Of Clytemnæstra to the murderer
  • Of her Orestes? O it must not be!
  • I tremble at the thought: my fears, Ægisthus,
  • Should waken thine: this stranger rives my heart;
  • His very sight is deadliest poison to me.
  • Away, my lord, and let me be concealed
  • From every eye; would it were possible
  • To hide me from myself!
  • [Exit Clytemnæstra.
ægisthus.
  • [To Orestes.
  • Stay thou, and wait
  • Till time befriend thee; nature for a moment
  • Is clamorous and loud, but soon as reason
  • Shall reassume its empire, interest then
  • Must plead thy cause, and she alone be heard.
  • Meantime remain with us, and celebrate
  • Our nuptial day:
  • [To one of his attendants.
  • Haste you to Epidaurus,
  • And hither bring my son; let him confirm
  • The welcome tidings.
Edition: current; Page: [114]

SCENE V.

orestes, pylades.

orestes.
  • Yes, Orestes comes
  • To join the cruel pomp, and make thy feast
  • A feast of blood.
pylades.
  • O how I trembled for thee!
  • I feared thy love; I feared thy tenderness;
  • And, more than all, thy honest rage, that burst
  • In transports forth when thou beheldest the tyrant:
  • I saw thee ready to insult him; saw
  • Thy soul take fire at Agamemnon’s name,
  • And dreaded the sad consequence.
orestes.
  • My mother,
  • O, Pylades, my mother pierced my heart.
  • Didst thou not mark the workings of her soul
  • Whilst I was speaking? O I felt them all!
  • Scarce could my voice in faltering accents tell
  • The melancholy tale, whilst Clytemnæstra
  • Still gazed, and trembled still: a father’s murder;
  • A sister unrevenged; a tyrant yet
  • Unpunished; and a mother to be taught
  • Her interest and her duty; what a weight
  • Of secret cares! great heaven complete thy work!
  • Urge on the lingering moments that retard
  • My vengeance; O, let me perform the task
  • Of love, and hatred; let me mix the blood
  • Of base Ægisthus with the vile remains
  • Edition: current; Page: [115]
  • Of Plisthenes; let sweet Electra see
  • The cruel tyrant gasping at my feet,
  • And know her dear deliverer in Orestes!

SCENE VI.

orestes, pylades, pammenes.

orestes.
  • What hast thou done, Pammenes, may we hope—
pammenes.
  • O my dear lord, never, since the fatal day
  • When Agamemnon fell, did greater perils
  • Threaten thy precious life.
orestes.
  • Ha! what hath happened?
pylades.
  • Still
  • Must I have cause to tremble for Orestes?
pammenes.
  • This instant is arrived a messenger
  • From Epidaurus, and ere this related
  • The death of Plisthenes.
pylades.
  • Immortal gods!
orestes.
  • And knows he that Orestes slew his son?
pammenes.
  • They speak of nothing but his death; ere long
  • Fresh tidings are expected; and the news
  • Edition: current; Page: [116]
  • Meantime concealed from Greece that she has lost
  • One of her tyrants; the king, still in doubt,
  • Shuts himself up with Clytemnæstra: this
  • I learned from one, who, to the royal blood
  • Still faithful, pines in loathsome servitude
  • Beneath the proud usurper.
orestes.
  • I have gathered
  • At least the first fair fruits of promised vengeance;
  • Grant me, ye gods, to reap a plenteous harvest!
  • Thinkest thou, my friend, they would uplift this arm
  • In vain, and only prosper to deceive me;
  • To my successful valor give the son,
  • And after yield me to the father’s power?
  • Let us away: danger should make us bold;
  • Who fears not death is master of his foe;
  • I’ll seize the moment of uncertainty,
  • Ere the full day of truth glares in upon him,
  • And points his rage.
pammenes.
  • Away: you must be known
  • To those few noble spirits who will die
  • To serve their prince; this secret place conceals
  • Some faithful friends, who may be still more useful,
  • Because unknown.
pylades.
  • Haste then; and if the tomb
  • Of thy dear father, if thy honored name
  • Joined to Electra’s, if the wrath of heaven
  • Against usurpers, if the gracious gods
  • Who hither led thee, if they all should fail,
  • If this detested spot is doomed by fate
  • To be thy grave, O take a wretched life
  • To thee devoted, we will die together,
  • Edition: current; Page: [117]
  • That comfort’s left; for Pylades shall fall
  • Close by thy side, and worthy of Orestes.
orestes.
  • Strike me, kind heaven! but O for pity save
  • His matchless valor, and protect my friend!

End of the Third Act.

ACT IV.

SCENE I.

orestes, pylades.

orestes.
  • Perhaps the vigilance of good Pammenes
  • May for awhile remove the king’s suspicions;
  • And gracious heaven, in pity to our woes,
  • Deceive Ægisthus to a fond belief,
  • That the devoted race of Tantalus
  • Is now no more; but, O my Pylades,
  • The sword I offered at my father’s tomb
  • Is stolen by sacrilegious hands, that reach
  • Even to the sacred mansions of the dead:
  • If it be carried to the tyrant, all
  • Will be discovered; let us haste, my friend,
  • And seize him, ere it be too late.
pylades.
  • Pammenes
  • Is watchful o’er our interest: we must wait
  • For him: when we have gathered the few friends
  • That mean to serve us, be this tomb the place
  • Of meeting for us all, Pammenes then
  • Will join us here.
Edition: current; Page: [118]
orestes.
  • O Pylades, O heaven!
  • This barbarous law that forces me to wound
  • A tender heart that lives but for Orestes!
  • And must I leave Electra to her sorrows?
pylades.
  • Yes: thou hast sworn it, therefore persevere;
  • Thou hast more cause to dread Electra now
  • Than all thy foes; she may destroy, but never
  • Can serve us, and the tyrant’s eyes may soon
  • Be opened: O subdue, if possible,
  • The pangs of nature, and conceal thy love:
  • We came not here to comfort thy Electra,
  • But to avenge her.
orestes.
  • See, my Pylades,
  • She comes this way, perhaps in search of me.
pylades.
  • Her every step is watched: you must not see her:
  • Begone; and doubt not, I’ll observe her well;
  • The eyes of friendship seldom are deceived.

SCENE II.

electra, iphisa, pylades.

electra.
  • The villain hath escaped me; he avoids
  • My hated sight, and leaves me to my fate,
  • To fruitless rage, and unavailing tears,
  • Without the hope of vengeance: say, barbarian,
  • Thou vile accomplice in his crimes, where went
  • Edition: current; Page: [119]
  • The murderer, my tyrant, my new lord,
  • (For so it seems Ægisthus has decreed)
  • Where is he gone?
pylades.
  • To do the will of heaven,
  • In dutiful obedience to the gods,
  • And well would it become the royal maid
  • To follow his example: fate ofttimes
  • Deceives the hearts of men, directs in secret,
  • And guides their wandering steps through paths unknown;
  • Ofttimes it sinks us in the deep abyss
  • Of misery, and then raises us to joy;
  • Binds us in chains, or lifts us to a throne,
  • And gives us life midst horrors, tombs, and death.
  • Complain no more, but yield to thy new sorrows;
  • Be patient, and be happy: fare thee well.

SCENE III.

electra, iphisa.

electra.
  • He swells my rage to fury and despair:
  • Thinks he I’ll tamely bear these cruel insults?
  • Could not a father’s and a brother’s death
  • Fill up the measure of Electra’s woes;
  • But she must bend beneath the vile assassin
  • Of her Orestes; be a common slave
  • To all the murderers of her hapless race?
  • Thou dreadful sword, wet with Orestes’ blood,
  • Exposed in triumph at the sacred tomb,
  • Thou execrable trophy, for a moment
  • Thou didst deceive me, but thou hast insulted
  • The ashes of the dead; I’ll make thee serve
  • Edition: current; Page: [120]
  • A nobler purpose: though Ægisthus hides
  • His guilty head, and with the queen in secret
  • Plans future crimes, and meditates destruction,
  • Still we may find the murderer of Orestes:
  • I cannot bathe me in the blood of both
  • My tyrants, but on one at least my soul
  • Shall be revenged.
iphisa.
  • I cannot blame the grief
  • Which I partake; but hear me, hear the voice
  • Of reason; every tongue speaks of Orestes;
  • They say, he lives, and the king’s fears confirm it.
  • You saw Pammenes talking with this stranger
  • In secret, saw his ardent zeal to serve
  • And to attend him: thinkest thou, our best friend,
  • Our comforter, the good old man, would e’er
  • Associate with a murderer? never, never,
  • He could not be so base.
electra.
  • He may be false,
  • Or weak; old age is easily deceived:
  • We are betrayed by all; I know we are:
  • Did not the cruel stranger boast his deed?
  • Did not Ægisthus yield me up a victim?
  • Was not Electra made the price of guilt,
  • The murderer’s reward? Orestes calls me
  • To join him in the tomb: now then, my sister,
  • If e’er thou lovest Electra, pity her
  • In her last moments; bloody they must be,
  • And terrible. Away; inform thyself
  • Touching Pammenes; see if the assassin
  • Be with the queen: she flatters all my foes;
  • She heard unmoved the murder of her son,
  • And seemed, O gods! a mother seemed, to share
  • Edition: current; Page: [121]
  • The guilty transport with her savage lord.
  • O that this sword could reach him in her arms,
  • And pierce the traitor’s heart! I’ll do it.
iphisa.
  • No more:
  • Indeed you wrong her; for the sight of him
  • Offends her: be not thus precipitate
  • And rash, Electra; I will to Pammenes,
  • And talk with him: or I am much deceived,
  • Or by their silence they but mean to hide
  • Some mystery from us: your imprudent warmth
  • (Yet who would not forgive it in the wretched?)
  • Perhaps alarms them, and they would conceal
  • From you their purpose; what it is, I know not:
  • Pammenes seems to shun you, let me go
  • And speak to him; but do not, my Electra,
  • Hazard a deed thou wilt too late repent of.

SCENE IV.

electra.
  • The subtle tyrants have gained o’er Pammenes;
  • Old age is weak and fearful: what can faith
  • Or friendship do against the hand of power?
  • Henceforth Electra to herself alone
  • Shall trust her vengeance: ’tis enough: these hands,
  • Armed with despair, shall act with double vigor.
  • Arise ye furies, leave your dark abode
  • For seats more guilty, and another hell,
  • Open your dreary caverns, and receive
  • Your victims: bring your flaming torches here,
  • Daughters of vengeance, arm yourselves and me;
  • Approach, with death and terror in your train;
  • Edition: current; Page: [122]
  • Orestes, Agamemnon, and Electra
  • Invoke your aid: and lo! they come, I see
  • Their glittering swords, and unappalled behold them;
  • They are not half so dreadful as Ægisthus:
  • The murderer comes; and see, they throng around him;
  • Hell points him out, and yields him to my vengeance.

SCENE V.

electra.
  • [At the bottom of the stage.
orestes.
  • [On the other side at a distance from her.
orestes.
  • Where am I? hither they directed me:
  • O my dear country! and thou, fatal spot
  • That gave me birth, thou great but guilty race
  • Of Tantalus, for ever shall thy blood
  • Be wretched? horror here on every side
  • Surrounds me: wherefore am I punished thus?
  • What have I done? why must Orestes suffer
  • For his forefathers’ crimes?
electra.
  • [Advancing a little from the bottom of the stage.
  • What power withholds me?
  • I cannot lift my arm against him; but
  • I will go on.
Edition: current; Page: [123]
orestes.
  • Methought I heard a voice:
  • O my dear father, ever-honored shade,
  • Much injured Agamemnon, didst thou groan?
electra.
  • Just heaven! durst he pronounce that sacred name?
  • And see he weeps: can sighs and penitence
  • Find entrance here? but what is his remorse
  • To the dire horrors that Electra feels!
  • [She comes forward.
  • He is alone; now strike—die, traitor—O
  • I cannot—
orestes.
  • Gods! Electra, art thou here,
  • Furious and trembling?
electra.
  • Sure thou art some god
  • Who thus unnervest me—thou has slain my brother:
  • I would have taken thy life for it, but the sword
  • Dropped from my hand; thy genius hath prevailed;
  • I yield to thee, and must betray my brother.
orestes.
  • Betray him, no! O, why am I restrained?—
electra.
  • At sight of thee my resolution dies,
  • And all is changed: could it be thou who filled
  • My soul with terror?
orestes.
  • O, I would repay
  • Thy precious tears with hazard of my life!
Edition: current; Page: [124]
electra.
  • Methought I heard thee speak of Agamemnon.
  • O gentle youth, deceive me not, but speak:
  • For I had well nigh done a desperate deed;
  • O show me all the guilt of it! explain
  • The mystery; tell me who thou art.
orestes.
  • O sister
  • Of dear Orestes, fly from me, avoid me.
electra.
  • But wherefore? speak.
orestes.
  • No more—I am—take heed
  • They see us not together.
electra.
  • Gracious heaven!
  • Thou fillest my heart with terror and with joy.
orestes.
  • O if thou lovest thy brother—
electra.
  • Love him! yes:
  • And O in thee I hear a father’s voice,
  • And see his features; nature hath unveiled
  • The mystery: O be kind and speak for her,
  • Do not deny it; say thou art my brother:
  • Thou art, I know thou art—my dear Orestes;
  • How could a sister seek thy precious life?
orestes.
  • [Embracing her.
  • Heaven threatens in vain, and nature will prevail:
  • Electra is more powerful than the gods.
Edition: current; Page: [125]
electra.
  • The gods have given a sister to thy vows,
  • And dost thou fear their wrath?
orestes.
  • Their cruel orders
  • Would have deprived me of my dear Electra,
  • And may perhaps chastise a brother’s weakness.
electra.
  • Thy weakness there was virtue; O rejoice
  • With me, Orestes; wherefore wouldst thou force me
  • To that rash act? it might have cost thee dear.
orestes.
  • I’ve broken my sacred promise.
electra.
  • ’Twas thy duty.
orestes.
  • A secret trusted to me by the gods.
electra.
  • I drew it from thee; I extorted it;
  • Mine be the guilt; an oath more sacred far
  • Binds me to vengeance: what hast thou to fear?
orestes.
  • My destiny, the oracles, the blood
  • From whence I sprung.
electra.
  • That blood henceforth shall flow
  • In purer streams; haste then, and join with me
  • To scourge the guilty; oracles and gods
  • Are all propitious to our great design,
  • And the same power that saved will guide Orestes.
Edition: current; Page: [126]

SCENE VI.

electra, orestes, pylades, pammenes.

electra.
  • Rejoice with me, my friends, for I have found
  • My dear Orestes.
pylades.
  • [To Orestes.
  • Hast thou then revealed
  • The dangerous secret? Couldst thou think—
orestes.
  • If heaven
  • Expects obedience, it must give us laws
  • We can obey.
electra.
  • Canst thou reproach him thus
  • Only for making poor Electra happy?
  • Wouldst thou adopt the cruel sentiments
  • Of persecuting foes, and hide Orestes
  • From my embraces? what unjust decree
  • What harsh commands—
pylades.
  • I meant to save him for thee,
  • That he might live, and be thy great avenger.
pammenes.
  • Princess, thou knowest, in this detested place
  • They watch thee nearly; every sigh is heard,
  • And every motion carefully observed:
  • Those private friends, whose humble state eludes
  • The tyrants search, adore this noble youth,
  • Edition: current; Page: [127]
  • And would have served him; everything’s prepared;
  • But thy imprudence now will hazard all.
electra.
  • Did not Ægisthus give me to a hand,
  • Stained, as he thought, with my Orestes’ blood?
  • [To Orestes.
  • Thou art my master; I am bound to serve thee;
  • I will obey the tyrant; his commands,
  • For once, are welcome, and the prospect brightens
  • On every side.
pammenes.
  • It may be clouded soon,
  • Ægisthus is alarmed, and we have cause
  • To tremble; if he but suspects us, death
  • Must be our portion, therefore let us part.
pylades.
  • [To Pammenes.
  • Hence, good Pammenes, bring our friends together,
  • The hours are precious; haste and finish soon
  • Thy noble work; ’tis time we should appear,
  • And—like ourselves.

SCENE VII.

ægisthus, clytemnæstra, electra, orestes, pylades, Guards.

ægisthus.
  • Slaves, execute your office,
  • And bear these traitors to the dungeon.
Edition: current; Page: [128]
orestes.
  • Once
  • There ruled o’er Argos those who better knew
  • The rights of hospitality.
pylades.
  • Ægisthus,
  • What is our crime? Inform us, and at least
  • Respect this noble youth.
ægisthus.
  • Away with them;
  • Ye stand aghast, as if ye feared to touch
  • His sacred person: hence, I say, take heed
  • Ye disobey me not: guards, drag them off.
electra.
  • O stay, barbarian, stay; for heaven itself
  • Pleads for their sacred lives—they tear them from me,
  • O gods!
ægisthus.
  • Electra, tremble for thyself,
  • Perfidious as thou art, and dread my wrath.

SCENE VIII.

electra, clytemnæstra.

electra.
  • O hear me, if thou art a mother, hear;
  • Let me recall thy former tenderness,
  • Forgive my guilty rage, the sad effect
  • Of unexampled sorrows; to complain,
  • Is still, the mournful privilege of grief:
  • Pity these wretched strangers; heaven perhaps,
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  • Whose dreadful vengeance thou so long hast feared,
  • May for their sakes forgive thy past offences;
  • The pardon thou bestowest on them may plead
  • For thee: O save them, save them.
clytemnæstra.
  • Why shouldst thou
  • Be thus solicitous? What interest prompts
  • Thy ardent zeal?
electra.
  • Thou seest, the gods protect them,
  • Who saved them from the Ocean’s boisterous rage,
  • And brought them here: heaven gives them to thy care,
  • And will require them at thy hands—to one,
  • O if thou knewest him—but they both are wretched.
  • Are we in Argos, or at Tauris, where
  • The cruel priestess bids her altars smoke
  • With stranger’s blood? What must I do to save him?
  • Command, and I obey: to Plisthenes
  • You’d have me wedded; I submit, though death
  • Were far more welcome; lead me to his bed.
clytemnæstra.
  • You mean to mock us: knowest thou not, he’s dead?
electra.
  • Just heaven! and hath Ægisthus lost a son?
clytemnæstra.
  • I see the joy that sparkles in thy eyes;
  • Thou art pleased to hear it.
electra.
  • No: I am too wretched
  • To be delighted with another’s woe:
  • I pity the unhappy, nor would shed
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  • The blood of innocence: O save the strangers!
  • I ask no more.
clytemnæstra.
  • Away: I understand thee,
  • And know thee but too well; thou hast confirmed
  • The king’s suspicions, and revealed the secret:
  • One of these strangers is—Orestes.
electra.
  • Well,
  • Suppose it were; suppose that gracious heaven,
  • In tender pity, had restored thy son—
clytemnæstra.
  • O dreadful moment! how am I to act?
electra.
  • Is it a doubt, and canst thou hesitate?
  • Thy son! O heaven! think on his past misfortunes,
  • Think on his merits; but if still thy mind
  • Is doubtful, all is lost: farewell Orestes.
clytemnæstra.
  • I’m not in doubt; I am resolved; even thou,
  • With all thy fury, canst not change the love,
  • The tenderness I bear him: I will guard,
  • Save, and protect him—he may punish me,
  • Perhaps he will; I tremble at his name;
  • No matter—I’m a mother still, and love
  • My children; thou mayst yet preserve thy hate.
electra.
  • No: I will fall submissive at thy feet,
  • And thank thy bounty: now, indulgent heaven,
  • Thy mercy shines superior to thy wrath;
  • For thou hast given a mother to my vows,
  • Changed her resentful heart, and saved Orestes.

End of the Fourth Act.

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ACT V.

SCENE I.

electra.
  • I am forbid to enter here; oppressed
  • With fears, in vain I lift these hands to heaven:
  • Iphisa comes not; but behold the gates
  • Are opened: ha! she’s here, I tremble.

SCENE II.

electra, iphisa.

electra.
  • Say,
  • My dear Iphisa, what have I to hope,
  • Will Clytemnæstra dare to be a mother?
  • Has she the power, has she the will to make us
  • Some poor amends for all the cruel evils
  • She has inflicted on us? Could she e’er—
  • But she’s a slave to guilt, and to Ægisthus:
  • I am prepared to hear the worst; O speak,
  • Say, all is past, and we must die.
iphisa.
  • I hope,
  • And yet I fear: Ægisthus hath received
  • Some dark suggestions, but is doubtful still,
  • Whether Orestes is his prisoner here,
  • And Clytemnæstra never named her son:
  • She seems to feel a mother’s fondness for him,
  • And, pierced with anguish, trembles for his life:
  • She struggles with herself, and fears alike
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  • To speak or to be silent; strives to soothe
  • The tyrant’s rage, and save them from his vengeance:
  • But should Orestes once be known, he dies.
electra.
  • O cruel thought! perhaps when I implored
  • My barbarous mother I destroyed Orestes;
  • Her grief will but enrage the fierce Ægisthus;
  • Nature is ever fatal here: I dread
  • Her silence, and yet would not have her speak;
  • Danger is on every side: but say, Iphisa,
  • What hath Pammenes done?
iphisa.
  • His feeble age
  • Seems strengthened by misfortune, and our dangers
  • But breathe new spirit o’er his ardent zeal
  • To serve our cause; he animates our friends
  • With double vigor; even the servile throng,
  • That cringe around the tyrant’s throne, begin
  • To murmur at the name of great Orestes:
  • Veterans, who served beneath the father, burn
  • With honest ardor to support the son:
  • Such power have justice and the sacred laws
  • O’er mortal minds, howe’er by vice corrupted.
electra.
  • O that Electra could inflame their souls
  • With glowing virtue, breathe her own fierce spirit
  • Into their timid hearts, and animate
  • Their cold resentment! would I had but known,
  • Ere he arrived on this detested shore,
  • That my Orestes lived! or that Pammenes
  • Had further urged—
Edition: current; Page: [133]

SCENE III.

ægisthus, clytemnæstra, electra, iphisa, Guards.

ægisthus.
  • Guards, seize that hoary traitor,
  • And let him be confronted with those strangers
  • Whom I have doomed to death; he is their friend,
  • And confidant, the accomplice in their crimes:
  • How dreadful was the snare which they had laid!
  • O, Claytemnæstra, ’tis the cursed Orestes,
  • It must be he; do not deceive thyself,
  • Do not defend him: O, I see it all,
  • It is too plain: alas! this urn contains
  • The ashes of my son: the murderers brought
  • This fatal present to his weeping father.
clytemnæstra.
  • Canst thou believe—
ægisthus.
  • I can; I must rely
  • On the sworn hatred ’twixt the unhappy children
  • Of Atreus and Thyestes; must believe
  • The time, the place, the rage of fierce Electra,
  • Iphisa’s tears, your undeserved compassion,
  • Your ill-timed pity for these base assassins;
  • Orestes lives, and I have lost my son;
  • But I have caught him in the toils; whiche’er
  • It be, for yet I know not, I’ll be just,
  • I’ll sacrifice the murderer to my son,
  • And to his mother.
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clytemnæstra.
  • Horrid sacrifice!
  • I must not see it.
ægisthus.
  • Horrible to thee?
clytemnæstra.
  • O yes; already blood enough hath flowed
  • In this sad scene of slaughter: O ’tis time
  • To end the woes of Pelops’ hapless race:
  • If after all it should not be Orestes,
  • Wouldst thou, on dark suspicion’s vague report,
  • Murder the innocent? and if it be
  • Indeed my son, my lord, I must defend him,
  • Must gain his pardon at thy hands, or perish.
ægisthus.
  • I cannot, dare not yield to thy request;
  • For thy own sake I dare not; thy fond pity
  • May be thy ruin; all that melts thy heart
  • To soft compassion, sharpens mine to rage
  • And fierce resentment: one of them I know
  • Must be Orestes, therefore both shall die;
  • I ought not even to hesitate a moment:
  • Guards, do your office.
iphisa.
  • O, my lord, behold me
  • Low at your feet; must all our hapless race
  • Thus humbly bend, thus supplicate in vain?
  • Electra, kneel with me, embrace his knees,
  • Thy pride destroys us.
electra.
  • Can I stoop so low?
  • Shall I bring foul disgrace on thee, my brother,
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  • And ignominy, and shame? it shocks my soul;
  • But I will suffer all to save Orestes.
  • [Turning to Ægisthus.
  • It thou wilt save him, here I promise thee,
  • (Not to forget my father’s murder, that
  • I never can, but) in respectful silence
  • To pay thee homage, still to live with thee
  • A willing slave, let but my brother live.
ægisthus.
  • Thy brother dies, and thou shalt live a slave;
  • My vengeance is complete: thy pride is humbled,
  • And sues in vain.
clytemnæstra.
  • Ægisthus, ’tis too much,
  • To trample thus on the unhappy race
  • Of him who was thy master once; away,
  • Spite of thy rage, I will defend my son;
  • Deaf as thou art to a fond sister’s prayers,
  • A mother’s may prevail: O think, my lord,
  • Think on thy happy state, above the reach
  • Of adverse fortune no, Orestes ne’er
  • Can hurt thee, and Electra bends submissive
  • Beneath thy power, Iphisa at thy feet;
  • Can nothing move thee? I have gone too far
  • Already with thee in the paths of guilt,
  • And offered up a dreadful sacrifice.
  • Thinkest thou I’ll yield thee up my purest blood
  • To glut thy rage? Am I forever doomed
  • To take a murderous husband to my arms?
  • At Aulis one a lovely daughter slew,
  • The other threatens to destroy my son
  • Before my eyes, close to his father’s tomb:
  • O rather let this fatal diadem,
  • Hateful to Greece, and to myself a load
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  • Of misery, fall with me, and be no more
  • Remembered! O Ægisthus, well thou knowest,
  • I loved thee, ’tis amongst my blackest crimes,
  • And stands the foremost; but I love my children,
  • And will defend them; against thy arm upraised
  • To shed their blood will lift my vengeful hand,
  • And blast thy purpose: tremble, for thou knowest me:
  • The bands are sacred that united us,
  • Thy interest is most dear to Clytemnæstra:
  • Remember still, Orestes is my son,
  • And fear his mother.
electra.
  • You surpass my hopes.
  • Surely a heart like thine could ne’er be guilty;
  • Go on, my honored mother, and avenge
  • Your children, and your husband.
ægisthus.
  • Slave, thou fillest
  • The measure of thy crimes: gods! shall Ægisthus
  • Withhold his vengeance for a woman’s cries,
  • For Agamemnon’s widow, and her children?
  • Unhappy queen! say, whom dost thou accuse?
  • Whom dost thou plead for? hear me and obey.
  • Away with them to instant death.

SCENE IV.

ægisthus, clytemnæstra, electra, iphisa, dymas.

dymas.
  • My lord?
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ægisthus.
  • Thou seemest disordered: what has happened? Speak.
dymas.
  • Orestes is discovered.
iphisa.
  • Ha! where is he?
clytemnæstra.
  • My son!
electra.
  • My brother?
ægisthus.
  • Have you punished him
  • As he deserves?
dymas.
  • My lord, as yet he lives.
ægisthus.
  • And wherefore were my orders disobeyed?
dymas.
  • His friend and fellow-captive, Pylades,
  • Pointed him out, and to the soldiers showed
  • Great Agamemnon’s son; they seemed much moved;
  • I dread the consequence.
ægisthus.
  • I must prevent it,
  • For they shall die: who dares not to revenge me
  • Shall feel my justice: Dymas, follow me:
  • Stay thou and guard his sisters; I defy
  • The blood of Agamemnon: from the father
  • Of Plisthenes, and great Thyestes’ son,
  • What mortal, or what god, shall save Orestes?
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SCENE V.

clytemnæstra, electra, iphisa.

iphisa.
  • Fear not, but follow him; Electra, speak,
  • Exhort our friends, and animate their zeal.
electra.
  • [To Clytemnæstra.
  • O, in the name of powerful nature, now
  • Complete thy noble work; conduct us, fly—
clytemnæstra.
  • You must not hence, the guards will not permit it:
  • Stay here, my children, and rely on me,
  • On a fond mother, and a tender wife:
  • I will perform the double task, and take
  • Orestes and Ægisthus to my care.

SCENE VI.

electra, iphisa.

iphisa.
  • Alas! the avenging god pursues us still;
  • Though she defends Orestes, still Ægisthus
  • Is at her heart; perhaps the tender cries
  • Of pity and remorse shall naught avail
  • Against the tyrant; he is proud, revengeful,
  • Implacable, and furious; who shall save
  • If he condemns? we must submit, and die.
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electra.
  • O that before my death I had not fallen
  • So low as to entreat him, to belie
  • My honest heart, and supplicate the tyrant!
  • Despair and horror sink me to the tomb
  • With infamy and shame; my vain endeavors
  • To save Orestes but urge on his fate.
  • Where are these boasted friends Pammenes talked of,
  • Who, with fell rancor, and determined hate,
  • Pursued Ægisthus? Where those vengeful gods
  • Who hid Orestes from my sight, upraised
  • His righteous arm, and promised to support him?
  • Where are ye now, infernal goddesses,
  • Daughters of night, ye who so lately shook
  • Your dreadful torches here? all nature once
  • United seemed to guard and to protect us,
  • But all desert us now, all court Ægisthus,
  • And men and gods, and heaven and hell betray me.

SCENE VII.

electra, pylades, iphisa.

electra.
  • What sayest thou, Pylades? the deed is done?
pylades.
  • It is: Electra’s free, and heaven obeyed.
electra.
  • How?
pylades.
  • Yes, Orestes reigns: he sent me hither.
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iphisa.
  • Just gods!
electra.
  • Orestes! is it possible!
  • I faint, I die with joy.
pylades.
  • Orestes lives,
  • And has avenged the blood of innocence.
electra.
  • What wondrous power hath wrought this strange event.
pylades.
  • His father’s name, Electra’s, and his own;
  • His valor, and his virtue; our misfortunes,
  • Justice, and pity; and the power that pleads
  • In human hearts for wretchedness like thine.
  • Pammenes, by the tyrant’s order bound,
  • Was led with us to death; in weeping crowds
  • The people followed, and deplored our fate:
  • I saw their rage was equal to their fears,
  • But the guards watched them closely: then Orestes
  • Cried, “Strike, ye slaves, and sacrifice the last
  • Of Argos’ kings; ye dare not.” When he spoke,
  • On his fair front such native majesty
  • And royal lustre shone, we almost thought
  • Great Agamemnon’s spirit from the tomb
  • Had risen, and came once more to bless mankind.
  • I spoke, and friendship’s happy voice prevailed;
  • The people rose, the soldiers stood aghast,
  • And dropped the uplifted falchions from their hands;
  • The crowd encircled us, and desperate love,
  • With friendship joined, fought nobly for Orestes;
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  • The joyful people bore him off in triumph:
  • Ægisthus flew to seize his destined prey,
  • And in the slave he meant to punish, found
  • A conqueror: pleased I saw his humbled pride;
  • His friends deserted, and his guards betrayed him:
  • The insulting people triumphed in his fall.
  • O glorious day! O all discerning justice!
  • Ægisthus wears the chains that bound Orestes;
  • The queen alone attends, protects, and saves him
  • From the mad crowd, that press tumultuous on,
  • Big with revenge, and thirsting for his blood;
  • While Clytemnæstra holds him in her arms,
  • And shields him from their rage, implores Orestes
  • To save her husband: he respects her still,
  • Fulfils the duties of a son and brother:
  • Safe from the foe you will behold him soon
  • Triumphant here, a conqueror and a king.
iphisa.
  • Let us away, to greet the loved Orestes,
  • And comfort our afflicted mother.
electra.
  • Gods!
  • What unexpected bliss! O Pylades,
  • Thou best of friends, thou kind protector, haste,
  • Let us begone.
pylades.
  • [To his attendants.
  • Take off those shameful bonds;
  • [They take off her chains.
  • Fall from her hands, ye chains, for they were made
  • To wield a sceptre.
Edition: current; Page: [142]

SCENE VIII.

electra, iphisa, pylades, pammenes.

electra.
  • O Pammenes, where,
  • Where is my Orestes, my deliverer?
  • Why comes he not?
pammenes.
  • This is a dreadful moment,
  • And full of terror, for his father’s spirit
  • Demands a sacrifice, and justice waits
  • To pay it, so hath heaven decreed: this tomb
  • Must be the altar where the victim’s blood
  • Shall soon be shed; that sacred duty done,
  • He will attend thee; but thou must not see
  • A sight so terrible: thou knowest the laws
  • Of Argos suffer not thy spotless hands
  • To join with her ere the appointed time.
iphisa.
  • But say, Pammenes, what of Clytemnæstra,
  • How acts she in this dreadful crisis?
pammenes.
  • Vainly
  • She deprecates the wrath of fierce Orestes,
  • And strives to save Ægisthus; kneels for pardon,
  • And craves that boon she never will obtain:
  • Meantime the furies, deaf to her entreaties,
  • And thirsting for the cruel murderer’s blood,
  • Throng round Orestes, and demand his life.
Edition: current; Page: [143]
iphisa.
  • O may this day of terror be a day
  • Of pardon and forgiveness; may it finish
  • The cruel woes of our unhappy race!
  • Hark, Pylades, Electra, heard ye not
  • A dreadful groan?
electra.
  • My mother’s sure.
pammenes.
  • ’Tis she.
clytemnæstra.
  • [Behind the scenes.
  • O spare me!
iphisa.
  • Heaven!
clytemnæstra.
  • [Behind the scenes.
  • My son!
electra.
  • He kills Ægisthus.
  • O hear her not, Orestes, but go on,
  • Revenge, revenge, dissolve the horrid tie,
  • And sacrifice the murderer in her arms:
  • Strike deep.
clytemnæstra.
  • My son! O, thou hast slain thy mother.
pylades.
  • O cruel fate!
iphisa.
  • O guilt!
Edition: current; Page: [144]
electra.
  • O wretched brother!
  • Crimes punish crimes; forever be this day
  • Lamented by us!

SCENE IX.

orestes.
  • [Enters.
  • Open wide, thou earth,
  • And swallow me: O Clytemnæstra, Atreus,
  • And Tantalus, I come, I follow you
  • To Erebus, a partner in your crimes,
  • To share your tortures.
electra.
  • O what hast thou done?
orestes.
  • She strove to save him, and I smote them both—
  • I can no more—
electra.
  • She fell then by thy hand!
  • O dreadful stroke! and couldst thou—
orestes.
  • ’Twas not I;
  • ’Twas not Orestes; some malignant power
  • Guided my hand, the hateful instrument
  • Of heaven’s eternal wrath: Orestes lives
  • But to be wretched; banished from my country,
  • When my dear father fell, my mother slain,
  • And by my hand; an exile from the world,
  • Bereft of parents, country, fortune, friends,
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  • Now must I wander: all is lost to me:
  • O thou bright orb, thou ever glorious sun,
  • Shocked at our crimes, and Atreus’s horried feast,
  • Thou didst withdraw thy beams, and yet thou shinest
  • On me! O wherefore in eternal night
  • Dost thou not bury all? O tyrant gods,
  • Merciless powers, who punished me for guilt
  • Yourselves commanded, O for what new crime
  • Am I reserved? speak—ye pronounce the name
  • Of Tauris, there I’ll seek the murderous priestess,
  • Who offers blood alone to the angry gods,
  • To gods less cruel, less unjust than you.
electra.
  • Stay, and conjure their justice and their hate.
pylades.
  • Where’er the gods may lead, thy Pylades
  • Shall follow still, and friendship triumph o’er
  • The woes of mortals, and the wrath of heaven.

End of the Fifth and Last Act.

Edition: current; Page: [b] Edition: current; Page: [c]

SÉMIRAMIS

Edition: current; Page: [146]

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

Sémiramis.

Arsaces, or Ninias.

Azema, a Princess of the Family of Belus.

Assur, a Prince of the Family of Belus.

Oroes, High Priest.

Otanes, a Favorite of Semiramis.

Mitranes, Friend of Arsaces.

Cedar, Friend of Assur. Guards, Magi, Slaves, Attendants.

This was produced in 1748 and a burlesque upon it was played at Fontainebleau.

Edition: current; Page: [147]

ACT I.

The scene represents a large peristyle, at the bottom of which is the palace of Sémiramis. Gardens with fine hanging terraces, raised above the palace: on the right hand the temple of the magi, and on the left a mausoleum adorned with obelisks.

SCENE I.

arsaces, mitranes.

[Two slaves at a distance carrying a coffer.

arsaces.
  • Once more, Mitranes, thou beholdest thy friend,
  • Who, in obedience to the royal mandate
  • In secret sent, revisits Babylon,
  • The seat of empire; how Sémiramis
  • Imprints the image of her own great soul
  • On every object! these stupendous piles,
  • These deep enclosures, where Euphrates pours
  • His tributary waves; the temple’s pride,
  • The hanging gardens, and the splendid tomb
  • Of Ninus, wondrous monuments of art!
  • And only less to be admired than she
  • Who raised them! here, in all her splendid pomp,
  • More honored than the monarchs of the East,
  • Arsaces shall behold this glorious queen.
mitranes.
  • O my Arsaces, credit not the voice
  • Of Fame, she is deceitful oft, and vain;
  • Edition: current; Page: [148]
  • Perhaps hereafter thou mayest weep with me,
  • And admiration on a nearer view
  • May turn to pity.
arsaces.
  • Wherefore?
mitranes.
  • Sunk in grief,
  • Sémiramis hath spread o’er every heart
  • The sorrows which she feels; sometimes she raves,
  • Filling the air with her distressful cries,
  • As if some vengeful God pursued her; sits
  • Silent and sad within these lonely vaults,
  • Sacred to night, to sorrow, and to death,
  • Which mortals dare not enter; where the ashes
  • Of Ninus, our late honored sovereign, lie:
  • There will she oft fall on her knees and weep:
  • With slow and fearful steps she glides along,
  • And beats her breast besprinkled with her tears:
  • Oft as she treads her solitary round,
  • Will she repeat the names of son and husband,
  • And call on heaven, which in its anger seems
  • To thwart her in the zenith of her glory.
arsaces.
  • Whence can her sorrow flow?
mitranes.
  • The effect is dreadful:
  • The cause unknown.
arsaces.
  • How long hath she been thus
  • Oppressed, Mitranes?
Edition: current; Page: [149]
mitranes.
  • From the very time
  • When first her orders came to bring Arsaces.
arsaces.
  • Me, saidst thou?
mitranes.
  • You, my lord: when Babylon
  • Rejoicing met to celebrate thy conquests,
  • And saw the banners thy victorious arm
  • Had wrested from our vanquished foes; when first
  • Euphrates brought to our delighted shore
  • The lovely Azema, from Belus sprung,
  • Whom thou hadst saved from Scythian ravishers,
  • Even in that hour of triumph and success,
  • Even in the bosom of prosperity,
  • The heart of majesty was pierced with grief,
  • And the throne lost its lustre.
arsaces.
  • Azema
  • Was not to blame; she could not be the cause
  • Of sorrow or distress; one look from her
  • Would soothe the wrath of gods: but say, my friend,
  • Sémiramis is still a sovereign here,
  • Her heart is not forever sunk in grief?
mitranes.
  • No: when her noble mind shakes off the burden,
  • Resumes its strength, and shines in native lustre,
  • Then we behold in her exalted soul
  • Powers that excel whatever flattery’s self
  • Hath e’er bestowed on kings; but when she sinks
  • Beneath this dreadful malady, loose flow
  • The reins of empire, dropping from her hand;
  • Then the proud satrap, fiery Assur, guides
  • Edition: current; Page: [150]
  • The helm and makes the nations groan beneath him:
  • The fatal secret never yet hath reached
  • The walls of Babylon: abroad we still
  • Are envied, but, alas! we mourn at home.
arsaces.
  • What lessons of instruction to weak mortals,
  • When happiness is mingled thus with woe!
  • I, too, am wretched, thus deprived of him
  • Whose piercing wisdom best could give me council,
  • And lead me through the mazes of a court.
  • O I have cause to weep: without a father,
  • Left as I am to all the dangerous passions
  • Of heedless youth, without a friendly guide,
  • What rocks encompass and what shoals affright me!
mitranes.
  • I weep with thee the loss of him we loved,
  • The good old man; Phradates was my friend;
  • Ninus esteemed and gave to him the care
  • Of Ninias, his dear son, our country’s hope:
  • But O! one fatal day destroyed them both,
  • Father and son: to voluntary exile
  • Devoted, long he lived: his banishment
  • Was fortunate to thee, and made thee great:
  • Close by his side, in honor’s glorious field,
  • Arsaces fought, and conquered for his country:
  • Now, ranked with princes, thy exalted virtue
  • Claims its reward by merit all thy own.
arsaces.
  • I know not what may be my portion here:
  • Perhaps, distinguished on Arbazan’s plains
  • With fair success, my name is not unknown:
  • On Oxus’ banks to great Sémiramis,
  • When vanquished nations paid the homage due,
  • Edition: current; Page: [151]
  • From her triumphant cars she dropped a ray
  • Of her own glory on Arsaces’ head:
  • But oft the soldier, honored in the field,
  • In courts neglected lies, and is forgotten.
  • My father told me in his dying hour
  • The fortune of Arsaces here depended
  • Upon the common cause; then gave to me
  • These precious relics, which from every eye
  • He had preserved: I must deliver them
  • To the high priest, for he alone can judge,
  • And know their value: I must talk with him
  • In secret, touching my own fate, for he
  • Can best conduct me to Sémiramis.
mitranes.
  • He seldom sees the queen: in solitude
  • Obscure he lives: his holy ministry
  • Engrosses all his care; without ambition,
  • Fearless, and void of art: is always seen
  • Within the temple, never at the court:
  • Never affects the pride of rank and title,
  • Nor his tiara near the diadem
  • Immodest wears: the less he seeks for greatness,
  • The more is he admired, the more revered:
  • I have access to every avenue
  • Of his retirement in this sacred place,
  • And can this moment talk to him in secret;
  • Ere day’s too far advanced I’ll bring him hither.

SCENE II.

arsaces.
  • [Alone.
  • Immortal gods! for what am I reserved?
  • Make known your will: why did my dying father
  • Edition: current; Page: [152]
  • Thus send me to the sanctuary, me
  • A soldier, bred amidst the din of arms?
  • A lover, too? How can Arsaces serve
  • The gods of the Chaldæans?—Ha! what voice
  • From yonder tomb in plaintive accents strikes
  • My frighted ear, and makes my hair to stand
  • On end with horror! Near this place I’ve heard
  • The spirit of Ninus dwells—again it shrieks—
  • It shocks my soul—Ye dark and dreary caves,
  • And thou, the shade of my illustrious master,
  • Thou voice of heaven, what wouldst thou with Arsaces?

SCENE III.

arsaces, oroes, the high priest, the magi attending him, mitranes.

mitranes.
  • [Speaking to Oroes.
  • He’s here, my lord, and waits to give you up
  • Those precious relics.
arsaces.
  • Most revered father,
  • Permit a soldier to approach your presence,
  • Pleased to fulfil a father’s last command,
  • One whom you deigned to love; thus at your feet,
  • Obedient to his will, I here resign them.
oroes.
  • Welcome! thou brave and noble youth! that God
  • Who governs all, and not a father’s will,
  • Guided thee here: Phradates was my friend;
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  • Dear is his memory to me; thou shalt know
  • Perhaps hereafter how I love his son:
  • Where are the gifts he sent me?
arsaces.

[The slaves deliver the coffer to two of the magi, who place it on an altar.

  • Here, my lord.
oroes.

[Opening the coffer, bowing reverentially to it, and seeming greatly affected.

  • Ye sacred relics! do these eyes at length
  • Behold you! O, I weep for joy to press
  • These monuments of woe, whilst tears recall
  • My solemn oath: Mitranes, let no ear
  • Profane disturb our holy mystery:
  • We would be private.
  • [The magi retire.
  • Mark this seal, Arsaces:
  • ’Tis that which to the laws of Ninus gave
  • Their public force, and kept the world in awe:
  • The letter, too, which with his dying hand
  • He wrote: Arsaces, view the wreath that crowned
  • His royal brows, and his victorious sword:
  • The vanquished Medes and Persians felt its power:
  • It comes at last to vindicate its master,
  • And to revenge him; useless instrument
  • Against base treachery, and destructive poison,
  • Whose mortal—
arsaces.
  • Heaven! what sayest thou?
oroes.
  • The dread secret
  • Hath long been hid in darkness from the eyes
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  • Of men within the sepulchre; the shade
  • Of Ninus, and offended heaven, long time
  • Have raised their voice in vain, and called for vengeance.
arsaces.
  • It must be as thou sayest: for know, but now,
  • Even on this spot, I heard most dreadful groans.
oroes.
  • It was the voice of Ninus.
arsaces.
  • Twice the noise
  • Affrighted me.
oroes.
  • ’Twas he: he calls for vengeance.
arsaces.
  • He has a right to ask it: but on whom?
oroes.
  • On the vile murderers, whose detested hands
  • Had of the best of sovereigns robbed mankind;
  • No tracks are left behind of the base treason,
  • But all with him lies buried in the tomb:
  • With ease might they deceive the sons of men,
  • But not the all-seeing eye of watchful heaven,
  • Which pierces the deep night of human falsehood.
arsaces.
  • O would to heaven this feeble hand had power
  • To punish crimes like these! I know not wherefore,
  • But when I cast my eyes towards you tomb,
  • New horrors rise: O might I not consult
  • That venerable shade, the inhabitant
  • Of those dark mansions?
Edition: current; Page: [155]
oroes.
  • No; it is forbidden:
  • An oracle severe long since denounced
  • The wrath of heaven against whoe’er should press
  • Into this vale of tears, inhabited
  • By death and the avenging gods: await
  • With me, Arsaces, for the day of justice:
  • Soon will it come, and all shall be accomplished:
  • I can no more: sequestered from the world,
  • I pray in secret to offended heaven,
  • Which, as it wills, commissions me to speak,
  • Or close my lips in silence: I have said
  • All that I dare, and all I ought: be careful
  • Lest in these walls a word, or look, or gesture,
  • Betray the secret which the god by me
  • Hath trusted with thee; for on that depends
  • His glory, Asia’s welfare, and thy life.
  • Approach, ye magi, hide these sacred relics
  • Beneath the altar.
  • [The great gate of the palace opens, Assur appears at a distance, surrounded by attendants and guards on every side.
  • Ha! the palace opens:
  • The courtiers crowding to the queen: behold
  • The haughty Assur with his servile throng
  • Of flatterers round him! O almighty power!
  • On whom dost thou bestow thy bounties here?
  • O monster!
arsaces.
  • Ha! what meanest thou?
oroes.
  • Fare thee well:
  • When night shall cast her sable mantle o’er
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  • These guilty walls, I’ll have more converse with thee,
  • Before the gods: revere them, my Arsaces,
  • For know, brave youth, their eyes are fixed on thee.

SCENE IV.

Arsaces, Mitranes, in the front of the stage, Assur, Cedar, with attendants, on one side.

arsaces.
  • His words are dreadful; they affright my soul:
  • What horrid crimes! and what a court is here!
  • How little known! my royal master poisoned,
  • And Assur, but too well I see, suspected!
mitranes.
  • Assur is sprung of royal race, and claims
  • The deference due to his authority:
  • He is the favorite of Sémiramis,
  • And thou, without a blush, mayest pay him homage.
arsaces.
  • Homage to him!
assur.
  • [To Cedar.
  • Ha! do my eyes deceive me,
  • Or is Arsaces here without my order?
  • Amazing insolence!
arsaces.
  • What haughtiness!
assur.
  • [Advancing.
  • Come hither, youth: what new engagements here
  • Have brought you from the camp?
Edition: current; Page: [157]
arsaces.
  • My duty, sir,
  • And the queen’s orders.
assur.
  • Did the queen send for you?
arsaces.
  • She did.
assur.
  • But, know you not, with her commands
  • You should have asked for mine?
arsaces.
  • I know not that,
  • And should have thought the honor of her crown
  • Debased by such a mean submission to thee:
  • My lord, you must forgive a soldier’s roughness,
  • We are bad courtiers: bred up in the plains
  • Of Arbazan and Scythia, I have served
  • Your court, but am not much acquainted with it.
assur.
  • Age, time, and place, perhaps, may teach you, sir.
  • What would you with the queen? for know, young man,
  • Assur alone can lead you to her presence.
arsaces.
  • I come to ask my valor’s best reward,
  • The honor still to serve her.
assur.
  • Thou wantest more,
  • Presumptuous boy! I know thy bold pretences
  • To Azema, but that thou wouldst conceal.
Edition: current; Page: [158]
arsaces.
  • Yes: I adore that lovely maid: her heart
  • Would I prefer to empire: my respect,
  • My tenderest love—
assur.
  • No more: thou knowest not whom
  • Thou art insulting thus: what! join the race
  • Of a Sarmatian to the demigods
  • Of Tigris and Euphrates! mark me well:
  • In pity to thy youth I would advise thee
  • Ne’er, on thy peril, to Sémiramis
  • Impart thy insolent request; for know,
  • Rash boy, if thou shouldst dare to violate
  • The rights of Assur, ’twill not pass unpunished.
arsaces.
  • I’ll go this instant: thou hast given me courage:
  • Thus threatenings always terrify Arsaces:
  • Thou hast no right, whate’er thy power may be,
  • To affront a soldier who has served his queen,
  • The state, and thee: perhaps my warmth offends;
  • But thou art rasher than myself, to think
  • That I would bend beneath thy servile yoke,
  • Or tremble at thy power.
assur.
  • Perhaps thou mayest;
  • I’ll teach thee what a subject may expect
  • For insolence like this.
arsaces.
  • We both may learn it.
Edition: current; Page: [159]

SCENE V.

sémiramis, at the farther end of the stage, leaning on her women.

otanes, assur, arsaces, mitranes, in the front.

otanes.
  • [Advancing.
  • My lord, the queen at present would be private:
  • You must retire, and give her sorrows way:
  • Withdraw, ye gods, the hand of vengeance from her!
arsaces.
  • How I lament her fate!
assur.
  • [To one of his attendants.
  • Let us begone,
  • And study how we best may turn her griefs
  • To our advantage.
  • [Sémiramis comes forward, and is joined by Otanes.
otanes.
  • My royal mistress, be yourself again,
  • And wake once more to joy and happiness.
sémiramis.
  • O death! when wilt thou come with friendly shade
  • To close these eyes that hate the light of day?
  • Be shut, ye caves; horrible phantom, hence!
  • Strike if thou wilt, but threaten me no more.
  • Otanes, is Arsaces come?
Edition: current; Page: [160]
otanes.
  • Ere morn
  • Rose on the temple, madam, he was there.
sémiramis.
  • That dreadful voice, from heaven or hell I know not,
  • Which in the dead of night so shakes my soul,
  • Told me, my sorrows, when Arsaces came,
  • Would soon be o’er.
otanes.
  • Rely then on the gods,
  • And let the cheerful ray of hope dispel
  • This melancholy.
sémiramis.
  • Is Arsaces here?
  • Methinks, when I but hear his name, my soul
  • Is less disturbed, and guilt sits lighter on me!
otanes.
  • O! quit, forever quit the sad remembrance:
  • Let the bright days of great Sémiramis,
  • Replete with glory, blot one moment out
  • That broke the chain of thy ill-fated nuptials:
  • Had Ninus driven thee from his throne and bed,
  • All Babylon with thee had been destroyed;
  • But happily for us, and for mankind,
  • That wanted such distinguished virtues, you
  • Prevented him; and fifteen years of toil,
  • Spent in the service of thy country, lands
  • Desert and waste made fertile by thy care,
  • The savage tamed, and yielding to the laws,
  • The useful arts, obedient to thy voice,
  • Uprising still, the glorious monuments
  • Of wealth and power, the wonder of mankind,
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  • And the loud plaudit of a grateful people,
  • All plead thy cause before the throne of heaven;
  • But if impartial justice hold the scale,
  • If vengeance is required for Ninus’ death,
  • Why thus should Assur brave the angry gods,
  • And live in peace? He was more guilty far
  • Than thou wert, yet the ruthless hand that poured
  • The fatal draught never shakes with fear: he feels
  • No stings of conscience, no remorse affrights him.
sémiramis.
  • Our duties different, different is our fate:
  • Where ties are sacred, crimes are heavier far:
  • I was his wife, Otanes, and I stand
  • Without excuse; my conscience is my judge
  • And my accuser: but I hoped the gods,
  • Offended at my crimes, had punished me
  • Enough, when they deprived me of my child;
  • Hoped my successful toils, that made the earth
  • Respect my name, had soothed the wrath of heaven:
  • But months on months have passed in agony
  • Since this dire spectre hath appalled my soul:
  • My eyes forever see him, and my ears
  • Still hear his cries: I get me to the tomb,
  • But dare not enter: trembling I revere
  • His ashes, and invoke his honored shade,
  • Which only answers me in dismal groans.
  • Some dread event is nigh: perhaps the time
  • Is come to expiate the offence.
otanes.
  • But thinkest thou
  • The spirit of thy lord hath left indeed
  • The mansions of the dead, and stalks abroad?
  • Ofttimes the soul, by powerful fancy led,
  • Edition: current; Page: [162]
  • Starts at a phantom of its own creation;
  • Still it beholds the objects it has made,
  • And everything we fear is present to us.
sémiramis.
  • O no! it was not the wild dream of fancy
  • By slumber wrought, I saw him but too well:
  • The stranger, Sleep, had long withheld from me
  • His sweet delusions; watchful as I stood,
  • And mused on my unhappy fate, a voice
  • Close to my bed, methought, cried out, “Arsaces!”
  • The name revived me: well thou knowest, long time
  • Assur has pierced this heart with deadly grief:
  • I shudder at his presence, and the blushes
  • That show my guilt increase my punishment,
  • Hate the reproachful witness of my shame,
  • And wish I could—but wherefore should I add
  • To crimes like mine fresh guilt? I sought Arsaces
  • To punish Assur, and the thought of him
  • Awhile relieved me! but in the sweet moment
  • Of consolation, sudden stood before me
  • That minister of death, all bathed in blood,
  • And in his hand a falchion: still I see,
  • Still hear him: comes he to defend, or punish?
  • ’Twas at that very hour Arsaces came.
  • This day was fixed by heaven to end my sorrows,
  • But peace is yet a stranger to my soul,
  • And hope is lost in horror and despair:
  • The load of life is grown too heavy for me,
  • My throne is hateful, and my glories past
  • But add fresh weight to my calamities.
  • Long time I’ve hid my sorrows from the world
  • And blushed in secret, fearful to consult
  • That reverend sage whom Babylon adores:
  • I would not thus degrade the majesty
  • Edition: current; Page: [163]
  • Of sovereign power, or let Sémiramis
  • Betray her fears before a mortal’s eye,
  • But I have sent to Libya’s sands in secret
  • There to consult the oracle of Jove:
  • As if removed from man, the God of truth
  • Had hid in desert plains his will divine.
  • Alas! Otanes, that dread power which dwells
  • Within these lonely walls, hath long received
  • My fears and adorations; at his altars
  • My gifts were offered, and my incense rose;
  • But gifts and incense never can atone
  • For crimes like mine: to-day I shall receive
  • Answers from Memphis.

SCENE VI.

sémiramis, otanes, mitranes.

mitranes.
  • An Egyptian priest
  • Is at the palace gate, and begs admittance.
sémiramis.
  • Then will my woes be ended, or complete.
  • Let us begone, and hide from Babylon
  • Her queen’s disgraceful sorrows: let Arsaces
  • Be sent to me: soon may his presence calm
  • This storm of grief, and soothe my troubled soul!

End of the First Act.

Edition: current; Page: [164]

ACT II.

SCENE I.

arsaces, azema.

azema.
  • To thee, Arsaces, this great empire owes
  • Its lustre, I my liberty and life.
  • When vanquished Scythia, thirsting for revenge,
  • From its wild desert rushed indignant forth,
  • And bore down all before it; when my father,
  • Oppressed by numbers, fell, and left me there
  • A hapless slave; then, armed with thunder, thou,
  • Piercing their dark retreats, didst break my chains,
  • And give me ample vengeance on my foes.
  • Thou wert my great deliverer, Arsaces,
  • And in return I give thee all my heart;
  • I will be thine, and only thine; but O!
  • Our fatal passion will destroy us both:
  • Thy generous heart, too open and sincere,
  • Believed that gallant deeds, and fair renown
  • In arms, would gain thee honors in a court;
  • And, fearless of success, thou bringest with thee
  • A hero’s fierceness and a lover’s heart.
  • Assur is incensed: alas! thou dost not know him:
  • He is too powerful for us; he rules all
  • At Babylon; and much, I fear, abuses
  • His fatal influence o’er Sémiramis:
  • He is thy great inexorable—rival.
arsaces.
  • Ha! does he love thee?
azema.
  • No; that savage mind,
  • Subtle and dark, a foe to every virtue,
  • Edition: current; Page: [165]
  • Insensible to love and every charm
  • But those ambition boasts, could never feel
  • A real passion for me: but he knows
  • That Azema is descended from the race
  • Of our Assyrian kings, and soon may claim
  • My right of empire here, as next the throne;
  • And therefore means to blend his interest here
  • With mine, and gain the sceptre for himself:
  • But if the youth whom Ninus had decreed,
  • Even from my infant years, to be my husband,
  • The son of great Sémiramis, and heir
  • Of Babylon, were living now, and here
  • Would offer me his heart and half his empire,
  • By love I swear, and by thy precious self,
  • Ninias should sue in vain, and see me quit
  • A throne with him for banishment with thee.
  • Even Scythia’s bleak inhospitable plains
  • Would yield a sweet asylum to our love;
  • For they would echo my Arsaces’ name,
  • And sound his praise; those barren wilds, where first
  • Our passion grew, would be to me a court,
  • Nor should I cast a thought on Babylon.
  • But much I fear this subtle statesman means
  • To carry his resentment further still:
  • I’ve searched his soul, and know the blackness of it:
  • Or I mistake, or guilt sits lightly on him;
  • Already he is jealous of thy glory,
  • He fears, and hates thee.
arsaces.
  • And I hate him more,
  • But fear him not, since Azema is mine:
  • Keep thou thy faith, and I despise his anger.
  • At least I share with him the royal favor:
  • Edition: current; Page: [166]
  • I saw the queen, and her humanity
  • Equalled the pride of Assur: when I fell
  • Prostrate before her, gently she upraised me,
  • And called me the support of Babylon:
  • With pride I heard the flattering voice of her
  • Whose name contending kings unite to honor:
  • The distance ’twixt her royal state and mine
  • Was lessened soon by mildest condescension;
  • It touched, it melted me; and, after thee,
  • To me she seemed, of all the human race,
  • Most nearly to resemble the divine.
azema.
  • If she protects us, Assur’s threats are vain:
  • I heed them not.
arsaces.
  • Inspired by thee, I went,
  • Fearless and brave, to lay before the feet
  • Of my great mistress, that aspiring passion
  • Which Assur dreads, and Azema approves;
  • When lo, that very moment came a priest
  • From Egypt with Ammonian Jove’s decree:
  • Trembling she opened quick the awful scroll,
  • First fixed her eyes on me, then sudden turned
  • Her face aside, and wept: stood fixed in grief
  • Like one distraught, then sighed, and vanished from me.
  • They tell me, she is fallen into despair,
  • And hath of late been dreadfully pursued
  • By some avenging god: I pity her:
  • ’Tis wonderful that after fifteen years,
  • Heaven, that so long defended, should at last
  • Oppress her thus: by what hath she offended
  • The angry gods, and wherefore are they changed?
Edition: current; Page: [167]
azema.
  • We hear of naught but dreadful spectres, omens,
  • And vengeance from above: the queen of late
  • Lets loose the reins of empire: we had cause
  • To fear for Babylon, least subtle Assur,
  • Who knows her weakness, in this dangerous time,
  • Should seize the helm, and bury all in ruin;
  • But the queen came, and all was calm again;
  • All owned the power of her despotic sway.
  • If I have any knowledge of the court,
  • The queen hates Assur, but keeps fair with him,
  • And watches close; they’re fearful of each other,
  • Would quarrel soon, but that some secret cause,
  • Some mutual interest, still prevents a rupture:
  • I saw her fire indignant at his name;
  • The blushes on her cheeks betrayed her thoughts,
  • And her heart seemed to glow with deep resentment:
  • But sudden changes happen in a court;
  • Return, and speak to her.
arsaces.
  • I will; but know not
  • Whether again I e’er shall gain admittance.
azema.
  • Thou hast my vows, my wishes, and my prayers
  • For thy success: I glory in my love,
  • And in my duty: let Sémiramis
  • Rule o’er the vanquished East, I envy her
  • Nor fame nor conquest; let the world be hers,
  • Arsaces mine: but Assur comes this way.
arsaces.
  • The traitor! how I shudder at his presence!
  • My soul abhors him.
Edition: current; Page: [168]

SCENE II.

assur, arsaces, azema.

assur.
  • Your reception, sir,
  • I find, was noble, such as kings have oft
  • Solicited in vain: you saw the queen
  • In secret, did she not reprove a conduct
  • Injurious to my honor and her own?
  • Did she not tell thee Azema’s designed
  • For Assur, not for thee? Long since her hand
  • To Ninias given was for the blood of kings
  • Alone reserved; and therefore is my right,
  • As next to the throne: did she acquaint you, sir,
  • Into what fatal snares your pride would lead you,
  • That neither fame nor honors will excuse
  • Your bold pretensions?
arsaces.
  • I well know what’s due
  • To your high birth, and to the rank you bear,
  • And should have paid it, though you had not thus
  • Instructed me; but as a master here
  • I own you not: your royal ancestors,
  • From Belus sprung, perhaps may give you claim
  • To Azema; the welfare of the state,
  • Present and future, all, I own, conspire
  • To raise your hopes of bliss, and make her yours:
  • These are your claims, and I acknowledge them:
  • But I have one that’s worth them all: I love her:
  • I might have added this, that I avenged
  • And saved her, gave new lustre to the throne
  • Edition: current; Page: [169]
  • Which she was born to fill, if I had chosen,
  • Like thee, to boast of my exploits before her.
  • But I must leave thee, to perform her orders.
  • Sémiramis and her I shall obey,
  • And them alone: a day perhaps may come
  • When thou shalt be our master: heaven sometimes
  • In anger sends us kings: but thou art deceived,
  • At least in one of thy ambitious views,
  • If amongst thy subjects thou hast ranked Arsaces.
assur.
  • The measure’s full: thou courtest thy own destruction.

SCENE III.

assur, azema.

assur.
  • I’ve borne his insolence too long already,
  • ’Tis time we enter on a nobler subject,
  • And worthier thy attention.
azema.
  • Can there be one?
  • But speak.
assur.
  • Ere long all Asia shall attend
  • On our resolves, and low concerns like these
  • Must pass unheeded by: a world demands
  • Our mutual care: Sémiramis is now
  • The shadow of herself, her glory’s past,
  • That star which shone with such transcendent lustre,
  • Declining now, sends forth a feeble ray;
  • Edition: current; Page: [170]
  • The people see and wonder at her fall,
  • Whilst every tongue demands a—successor:
  • That word sufficeth: you well know my right:
  • ’Tis not for love to deal forth sovereign power,
  • And point out who shall rule in Babylon;
  • Not that my soul, to beauty blind, would make
  • A virtue of insensibility;
  • But I should blush for thee and for myself,
  • To see the welfare of a nation thus
  • Dependent on a sigh: thoughts worthier both
  • Must guide my fortune, and determine thine:
  • Our ancestors the same, we should offend
  • Their venerable shades, and lose the world
  • By not uniting: I astonish you:
  • These are harsh words for tender age like thine;
  • But I address me to the kings and heroes
  • From whom you sprung, to all those demigods
  • Whom here you represent: too long trod down
  • Beneath a woman’s feet their ashes lay,
  • Their glories she eclipsed, usurped their power,
  • And fettered vanquished nations with her laws;
  • But she is gone, and thou must now support
  • The building she had raised: she had thy beauty,
  • And thou must have her courage: let not love
  • Or folly wrest the sceptre from thy hand,
  • But grasp it close: you will not sacrifice
  • To a Sarmatian’s idle passion for you
  • The name you ought to honor, and the throne
  • You should ascend, of universal empire.
azema.
  • Let not Arsaces be the theme, my lord,
  • Of your reproaches, but depend on me
  • To vindicate the honor of my race,
  • And to defend, whene’er occasion calls,
  • Edition: current; Page: [171]
  • The rights of my loved ancestors; I know
  • Their worth and virtues, but I know not one
  • Amongst the heroes which Assyria boasts
  • More great, more virtuous, more beloved, than he,
  • Than this Sarmatian, whom you thus disdain.
  • Do justice to his merit: for myself,
  • When I shall bend to Hymen’s laws, the queen
  • Must guide my choice, and at her hands alone
  • Will I receive a master: for the crowd,
  • The babbling echo of one secret voice,
  • I heed it not; nor know I if the people
  • Are tired of their obedience to a woman,
  • But still I see them bow the knee before her;
  • And if they murmur, murmur in the dust:
  • The hand of heaven, they say, is raised against her:
  • I am a stranger to her guilt, but think
  • That heaven would never have made choice of thee
  • To tell its high commands, or minister
  • Its justice to mankind: Sémiramis
  • Is still a queen, and you who lord it here
  • Receive from her the laws which you dispense:
  • For me, I own her power, and hers alone:
  • My glory is to obey, be thine the same.

SCENE IV.

assur, cedar.

assur.
  • Obey! I blush to think how long already
  • I have obeyed: O insupportable!
  • But say, hast thou succeeded, are the seeds
  • Of hatred sown in secret through the realm?
  • Edition: current; Page: [172]
  • Will they spring up into a fruitful harvest
  • Of discord, and rebellion?
cedar.
  • All is well:
  • The people, long deluded by the arts
  • And dazzling glory of Sémiramis,
  • At length have lost their idle veneration:
  • No longer chained to silence, they demand
  • A successor: each lover of his country
  • Calls for a master, and looks up to thee.
assur.
  • Heart-burning care! and ever-during shame!
  • Still must my hopes, my fate depend on her?
  • Was it for this that Ninus and his son
  • Fell by my hand, that Assur might be still
  • Only her first of slaves? So near the throne,
  • To languish in illustrious servitude,
  • And only be the second of mankind!
  • The queen was satisfied with Ninus’ death,
  • But I went further, and pursued my blow:
  • Ninias, in secret murdered by my order,
  • Opened my passage to the throne; but she
  • Denied me entrance.—A long time in vain
  • I soothed her pride with flattery on her charms;
  • Still hoped one day to gain upon her youth
  • That happy influence which assiduous care
  • And humble adoration seldom fail
  • To win o’er artless minds that bend with ease:
  • I little knew the firmness of her soul,
  • Inflexible, and bold; the world alone
  • Could satisfy her pride: she seemed indeed
  • Most worthy of it: spite of my resentment,
  • I own she was, and yield the praise she merits.
  • The reins of empire, that flowed loose before,
  • Edition: current; Page: [173]
  • Strongly she held; appeased the murmuring crowd,
  • Silenced their plaints, and quashed conspiring rebels;
  • Fought like a hero, like a monarch ruled:
  • She led her army and her people captive,
  • And spite of fame, with more than magic art,
  • Chained down the minds of men: the universe
  • Astonished stood, and trembled at her feet.
  • In short, her beauty, woman’s best support,
  • Strengthened the laws which power and valor made;
  • And when I strove to raise conspiracies
  • My friends stood mute, and only could admire her.
  • At length the charm is broke: her power decays;
  • Her genius droops; remorse, and idle fears,
  • And fond credulity have bound her faith
  • To lying oracles, which knavish priests
  • Had taught to speak in Egypt’s barren plain:
  • She pours her daily incense at their altars,
  • And wearies heaven with vows: Sémiramis
  • Creeps on a level now with common mortals,
  • And condescends to fear: I know her weakness:
  • Know, till she falls, Assur can never rise:
  • But I have raised the people’s voice against her,
  • And she must yield: this blow decides her fate:
  • If she consents to give me Azema,
  • She is no longer queen; if she refuses,
  • The kingdom will revolt: on every side
  • The snare is laid, and nothing now can save her.
  • Yet, after all, perhaps I am deceived,
  • And fortune, so long called for, comes at last
  • But to betray me.
cedar.
  • If the queen is forced
  • To name a successor, and yields the princess
  • To Assur’s bed, what can he have to fear,
  • Edition: current; Page: [174]
  • When the divided branch of Asia’s kings
  • Shall be united? all conspires to pave
  • Your way to empire.
assur.
  • Azema is safe;
  • She must be mine; but wherefore send so far
  • For this Arsaces? she supports him too;
  • And when I would chastise his insolence,
  • Her interposing hand prevents me still:
  • A minister without the power, a prince
  • Without a subject, girt around with honors,
  • And yet a poor dependent, what is Assur?
  • All, all unite to persecute me now:
  • A peevish mistress, and a haughty rival,
  • Consulted priests that teach their gods to speak
  • Against me; with Sémiramis, who strives
  • To free herself, yet trembles at my presence:
  • But we shall see how far this proud ingrate
  • Will urge an angry rebel who defies her.

SCENE V.

assur, otanes, cedar.

otanes.
  • My lord, the queen commands you to attend her
  • In secret, and alone.
assur.
  • I shall obey
  • Her sacred orders, and with care perform
  • My sovereign’s will.
Edition: current; Page: [175]

SCENE VI.

assur, cedar.

assur.
  • Whence springs this sudden change?
  • These three months past she has avoided me,
  • Even as the object of her hatred: oft
  • When she beheld me she would cast her eyes
  • Down on the earth, as if she loathed the sight:
  • Whene’er we met, ’twas in a gaping crowd
  • Of hearers; when she spoke, her sighs and tears
  • Would interrupt our converse, or perchance
  • Silence was all the answer she would give me.
  • What can she want? What can she say to me?
  • But here she comes: ’tis she—wait you within.
  • [To Cedar.

SCENE VII.

sémiramis, assur.

sémiramis.
  • My lord, I come to ease a troubled heart
  • Of its long hidden woes, and pour it all
  • Before you: I have ruled o’er Asia long,
  • And not ingloriously: Babylon perhaps
  • May pay this tribute to my memory,
  • And say Sémiramis deserved to rank
  • Among the greatest of her kings: thy hands
  • Have helped me to support the weight of empire;
  • With absolute dominion have I ruled,
  • Adored by all, and crowned with victory
  • Edition: current; Page: [176]
  • On every side: intoxicated long
  • With flattery’s pleasing incense, I forgot
  • The crimes that raised me to this envied state;
  • Forgot the justice of high heaven: it comes;
  • It speaks to me: Sémiramis must yield:
  • This noble structure, which I fondly thought
  • Superior to the injuries of time,
  • Is tottering now, and shakes from its foundation;
  • Means must be found to strengthen and support it.
assur.
  • The work is yours, and you must finish it:
  • Foresee the attacks of time, and stop his rapine:
  • Who shall obscure the lustre of thy days,
  • Or wherefore fearest thou heaven whilst earth obeys thee?
sémiramis.
  • Yonder the ashes of my husband lie;
  • Canst thou look there, and wonder at my fears?
assur.
  • I cannot bear to hear the noisy crowd
  • Still talk of Ninus: wherefore should remembrance
  • Call back the thoughts of that inglorious reign?
  • Can they believe, that, after fifteen years,
  • His angry spirit still calls out for justice?
  • Ere now he would have taken due vengeance on us,
  • Had he the power: why from the peaceful realms
  • Of dark oblivion wouldst thou call the dead,
  • Or search for truth in lying oracles?
  • I am astonished too, but ’tis at thee,
  • And thy vain fears: to make the gods propitious,
  • We must be resolute: this idle phantom,
  • At once the child and parent of your fears,
  • Why should it thus alarm you? Prodigies
  • Edition: current; Page: [177]
  • Never appear to those who dread them not:
  • Baits to allure the unthinking multitude,
  • By knaves invented, and by fools believed;
  • The great despise them: but if nobler views
  • Inspire thy soul to immortalize the blood
  • Of Belus, if the beauteous Azema
  • Claims her high rank.—
sémiramis.
  • Assur, on that I came
  • To speak with thee: our Babylon demands,
  • For such is Ammon’s will, a successor:
  • Heaven and my people will be satisfied
  • When I shall take a partner to my throne:
  • Thou knowest, my pride could never condescend
  • To a divided sway; ’twas my resolve
  • To rule alone, while the impatient world
  • Urged me in vain; and when the people’s voice,
  • Which now is echoed by the voice of heaven,
  • Still presses me, in the bloom of youth, to give
  • A sovereign to mankind, I still refused:
  • If I had yielded then to any claim,
  • It had been thine; you had a right to hope,
  • And to expect it; but you knew too well,
  • How much Sémiramis abhorred a master.
  • Without submitting to a tie so fatal,
  • I made thee then the second of mankind,
  • And only not my equal; ’twas enough,
  • I thought, to satisfy even thy ambition.
  • At length the gods make known their will divine,
  • And I obey them: hear the oracle:
  • “All shall again be well at Babylon,
  • When Hymen’s torch a second time shall blaze
  • Propitious; then shalt thou, O cruel wife,
  • And wretched mother, then shall thou appease
  • Edition: current; Page: [178]
  • The shade of Ninus.” Thus the voice of heaven
  • Declares its sacred will: I know thy arts;
  • Know, thou hast formed a party in the state,
  • And mean to oppose me with the royal blood
  • From whence you sprung: from thee and Azema
  • My successor, it seems, must rise; I know
  • You look that way, and she perhaps aspires
  • To equal honors; but, observe me well:
  • I shall not suffer your united claims
  • To rob me of my right: remember, sir,
  • You know my will; ’tis constant, and as fate
  • Irrevocable: thinkest thou now the God
  • Whose arm is lifted o’er me hath deprived
  • My soul of all its wonted strength and spirit,
  • Or dost thou still behold Sémiramis,
  • Who can support the honor of her throne?
  • Know, Babylon ere long shall at my hands
  • Receive a master: whether the high choice
  • Shall fall on thee, or be another’s lot,
  • I’ll take a sovereign as a sovereign ought:
  • Bring me the magi and the princess here
  • To join their voices with Sémiramis.
  • To give away my freedom and my empire
  • Is the first, greatest act of royal power,
  • And therefore let it be performed with awe
  • And silence due to my authority.
  • Heaven hath appointed this great day to show
  • Its mercy to me, and the gods at length
  • Remit their anger; nothing can disarm it
  • But my repentance; ’tis the only virtue:
  • Trust me, it is, howe’er you may despise it,
  • Remaining for the guilty: weak, I know,
  • And fearful thou esteemest me; but henceforth
  • Remember, Assur, guilt alone is weakness:
  • Think not that fear can e’er disgrace a throne,
  • Edition: current; Page: [179]
  • It has done good to kings, and might to thee;
  • I tell thee, statesman, to obey the gods,
  • And tremble at their power, is no abasement.

SCENE VIII.

assur.
  • [Alone.
  • Astonishment! such language, such designs!
  • Or is it artifice, or weakness in her,
  • Or cowardice or courage? Does she mean,
  • By yielding thus, to prop her tottering power,
  • And by our union to defeat my purpose?
  • I must not think, it seems, of Azema,
  • Because, perhaps, I’m destined for herself.
  • It must be so. What all my cares in vain
  • Solicited, my flattery of her charms,
  • My deep intrigues, and our united crimes,
  • With all her fears, could never gain, at length
  • An idle dream, and a dark oracle
  • From Egypt have performed. What power unknown
  • Decrees the fate of mortals? Great events
  • Hang on the slenderest thread: still I am doubtful:
  • I’ll see Sémiramis again; she seemed
  • Too much in haste; such sudden resolutions
  • Betray an overanxious mind, and those
  • Who change with ease are either weak, or wicked.

End of the Second Act.

Edition: current; Page: [180]

ACT III.

SCENE I.

sémiramis, otanes.

[The scene represents an apartment in the palace.

sémiramis.
  • Who would have thought, Otanes, that the gods,
  • Offended as they were, at length should smile
  • Propitious thus, and threaten but to save!
  • Should drop the uplifted thunder from their hand,
  • And pardon me; should send Arsaces hither
  • To change my fate! for know it is their will
  • That I should wed, and by a second tie
  • Expiate the crimes of my first fatal nuptials.
  • They are the great disposers of our hearts,
  • And mine with pleasure yields to their decrees:
  • It even outruns their purposes: Arsaces,
  • I’m thine; for thou wert born to rule o’er me,
  • And o’er the world.
otanes.
  • Arsaces! he!
sémiramis.
  • Thou knowest,
  • In Scythia’s plains, when I avenged the Persian,
  • And conquered Asia, this young hero fought
  • Beneath his father’s banners, and, surrounded
  • With captives, brought to me the bloody spoils,
  • And, blushing, laid his victims at my feet.
  • When first I saw him, I could feel his heart,
  • As by some secret power, attracting mine
  • Insensibly towards him; all mankind,
  • Besides Arsaces, seemed not worth my notice.
  • Edition: current; Page: [181]
  • Assur grew jealous of him, and ever since
  • Has fired with indignation at his name;
  • Whilst his dear image still employed my thoughts,
  • Before that voice which guides my every word
  • And every action named him for my husband,
  • Before the gods had pointed out Arsaces.
otanes.
  • It was indeed a noble conquest, thus
  • To bend that haughty spirit which disdained
  • The proffered homage of our Eastern monarchs,
  • Who as her subjects, not as lovers, still
  • Accepted kings! You who contemned those charms,
  • That sovereign beauty, which extended wide
  • Your universal empire; whilst your eyes
  • Pierced every heart, you scarce would condescend
  • To mark their power; and dost thou yield at last
  • To love’s imperious sway; to fears and horror
  • Succeed the tender passions? Can it be?
sémiramis.
  • O, no; it is not love: I am not fallen
  • So much beneath myself, as to bestow
  • On beauty the reward that’s due to virtue;
  • I feel a nobler passion in my breast:
  • Alas! such weakness would but ill become
  • Sémiramis: unhappy as I am,
  • For me to think of love, Otanes, how
  • Couldst thou suppose it? Once I was a mother,
  • But scarce had studied to deserve the name
  • By my fond cares, when heaven in anger snatched
  • My child away, and left me here alone
  • A prey to anguish. I had nothing near me
  • That I could love; and, midst my grandeur, felt
  • An aching void within my soul. I fled
  • The court, endeavored to avoid myself,
  • Edition: current; Page: [182]
  • And sought relief in these proud monuments,
  • Amusing flatterers of a restless heart
  • That shunned reflection: rest was still a stranger,
  • And long remained so; but he comes once more,
  • I feel him now, and wonder at the power
  • That charmed him hither: ’twas Arsaces; he
  • Shall hold the place of husband and of son,
  • A conquered world, and all my glories past.
  • How much I owe to thee, celestial power,
  • Who thus propitious leadest me to the altar
  • So long abhorred; and hast thyself inspired
  • That passion which alone can make me happy!
otanes.
  • But what will be the rage and grief of Assur?
  • Hast thou reflected on it, when he hears
  • Thy new resolves? He is not without hopes:
  • The people have already fixed thy choice
  • On him, and his resentment will not end
  • In mere complaints.
sémiramis.
  • I never have deceived,
  • And therefore fear him not: these fifteen years,
  • Whate’er his views have been, I’ve taught him still
  • To rank but with my subjects, though the first
  • Amongst them; and set bounds to his ambition,
  • Which he hath never o’erleaped: I reigned alone;
  • And if this feeble hand so long could guide
  • The helm of power, and curb his haughtiness,
  • What can his courage or his cunning do
  • Against Arsaces and Sémiramis?
  • Yes: Ninus hath accepted my repentance,
  • And leaves the mansions of the dead to urge
  • Our happy union: his illustrious shade
  • Again would rage to see his murderer seize
  • Edition: current; Page: [183]
  • His throne and bed: this calls him from the tomb,
  • And Ammon’s oracles unite with him
  • To crown my bliss: no more the awful virtue
  • Of Oroes affrights me; I’ve sent for him
  • To be a witness of the great event,
  • And soon expect him here.
otanes.
  • His honored name
  • And sacred character may give indeed
  • A sanction to your choice.
sémiramis.
  • I know it will,
  • And establish my resolves.
otanes.
  • Behold, he comes.

SCENE II.

sémiramis, oroes,

sémiramis.
  • Great successor of Zoroaster, welcome:
  • To-day must Babylon receive a king;
  • Thy office is to crown him; is all ready
  • For the solemnity?
oroes.
  • The magi wait
  • Thy pleasure, and the nobles all attend:
  • To pay obedience to the sovereign power
  • Is all my duty, and I shall fulfil it:
  • I am not to judge kings, for that belongs
  • To heaven alone.
Edition: current; Page: [184]
sémiramis.
  • By this mysterious language,
  • It seems you disapprove my purpose.
oroes.
  • Madam,
  • I know it not, but wish it fair success.
sémiramis.
  • Thou canst interpret heaven’s high will: these signs
  • Which I have seen, can they be fatal to me?
  • A spectre hath of late, perhaps some god,
  • Appeared, and in the bosom of the earth
  • Re-entered soon: what power hath thus broke down
  • The eternal barrier that divides the light
  • From darkness? wherefore should a mortal thus
  • Rise from the tomb to visit me?
oroes.
  • Know, heaven
  • Doth oft suspend its own eternal laws
  • When justice bids, reversing death’s decree;
  • Thus to chastise the sovereigns of the earth,
  • And terrify mankind.
sémiramis.
  • The oracles
  • Demand a sacrifice.
oroes.
  • It shall be offered.
sémiramis.
  • Eternal justice, thou whose piercing eye
  • Beholdest my naked heart, O fill it not
  • Again with horror, bury in oblivion
  • Edition: current; Page: [185]
  • My first unhappy nuptials!
  • Oroes, stay.
  • [To Oroes, who is retiring.
oroes.
  • [Returning.
  • I thought my presence might disturb you, madam.
sémiramis.
  • Return, and answer me: this morning, say,
  • Did not Arsaces offer at your altars
  • Gifts to the gods?
oroes.
  • He did; and precious were they:
  • Arsaces is the favorite of heaven.
sémiramis.
  • I know he is, and I rejoice to hear it.
  • Can I be wretched if I trust to him?
oroes.
  • He is the empire’s best support; the gods
  • Conducted him; his glory is their care.
sémiramis.
  • With transport I accept the fair presage,
  • Whilst hope and peace return to calm my breast.
  • Away: again let purest incense rise
  • Before your altars; let your magi come
  • And sanctify the choice; bring down the smiles
  • Of the assenting gods, and make us happy.
  • Henceforth may Babylon with me revive,
  • And shine amongst the nations of the earth
  • With double splendor! Go thou, and prepare
  • The solemn pomp.
Edition: current; Page: [186]

SCENE III.

sémiramis, otanes.

sémiramis.
  • Heaven seconds my design,
  • And I am only the interpreter
  • Of its high will, to give the world a master:
  • Thus to receive a kingdom at my hand
  • Will strike him with astonishment: even now
  • How little thinks he of the approaching greatness!
  • How will proud Assur and his fawning crowd
  • Be humbled! But a word, and the whole earth
  • Falls at his feet; and, grateful as he is,
  • I know he will repay me: I shall wed him,
  • And for my portion carry him a world;
  • My glory’s pure, and now I shall enjoy it.

SCENE IV.

sémiramis, otanes, mitranes. an officer of the palace.

otanes.
  • Arsaces begs admittance to your presence,
  • To lay his sorrows at your feet.
sémiramis.
  • Arsaces!
  • What sorrows can Arsaces feel when I
  • Am near him, he who thus hath banished mine?
  • Quick, let him come: he knows not yet his power
  • Edition: current; Page: [187]
  • O’er the fond heart of his Sémiramis.
  • O thou dread shade whose voice alarmed my soul,
  • Whose blood no more calls out for vengeance on me,
  • And you, the guardian gods of this great empire.
  • Of the Assyrians, Ninus, and my son,
  • Unite to bless Arsaces! Ha! the sight
  • Alarms me; whence can these strange terrors rise?

SCENE V.

sémiramis, arsaces.

arsaces.
  • O queen, I am devoted to thy service;
  • My life is thine; and when I shed this blood,
  • I am rewarded if it flows for thee.
  • My father had some small renown in arms;
  • I saw him perish bravely in the field,
  • And at the head of thy victorious bands;
  • He left his hapless son a fair example,
  • Perhaps but ill pursued: I’ll not recall
  • The memory of my father’s services.
  • ’Twould ill become me; at your royal knees,
  • Though here I sue for favor and protection:
  • Pity the rashness of a guilty youth,
  • Who listened to the dictates of imprudence.
  • And even in serving feared he might offend you.
sémiramis.
  • Offend me! thou, Arsaces! fear it not.
arsaces.
  • To-day you give your kingdom and your hand:
  • My heart, I know, should on the great event
  • Keep secret all its fears, and humbly still
  • Edition: current; Page: [188]
  • In silence, with depending monarchs, wait
  • To know our master; but this Assur steps
  • So haughtily, and triumphs in his conquest,
  • We cannot brook his pride: the people call him
  • Already their new sovereign; his high blood
  • And rank support him: may he prove himself
  • Worthy of both! but I have still a soul
  • Too proud to bend beneath him, or adore
  • The power I had defied: his jealous heart
  • I know detests Arsaces: let me then
  • Retire in safety, far from him, and thee:
  • Permit me to revisit the dear climes
  • Where first I served my royal mistress, there
  • His tyranny can never reach: perhaps
  • I may hereafter—
sémiramis.
  • Wilt thou leave me then,
  • And fearest thou Assur?
arsaces.
  • No: Arsaces fears
  • Naught but the anger of Sémiramis.
  • Perhaps thou knowest my fond ambition, then
  • I’ve cause indeed to tremble.
sémiramis.
  • Hope the best,
  • And know that Assur ne’er shall be thy master.
arsaces.
  • I own it shocked my soul to look on him
  • As Ninus’ successor: but is he then
  • Designed for Azema? forgive this bold
  • Presumptuous questioner: long since I know
  • She was to Ninias given, proud Assur sprung
  • Edition: current; Page: [189]
  • From the same race, and claims her as his own:
  • I am but a poor subject, yet I dare—
sémiramis.
  • Such subjects are my kingdom’s best support;
  • I know thee well; thy noble soul, superior
  • To vulgar minds, hath sought Sémiramis,
  • Not for her fortunes, but herself; thy eyes
  • Are fixed on her true interest, and on thee
  • I shall depend: Assur and Azema
  • Shall never meet; their union would be dangerous:
  • But their designs are known, and by my care
  • Will be prevented.
arsaces.
  • Since my heart at length
  • Is open to thee, and thou hast discovered—
azema.
  • [Enters suddenly, and throws herself at the feet of Sémiramis.
  • O queen, permit me thus—
sémiramis.
  • Rise, Azema:
  • Where’er my choice may light, thou mayest depend
  • On my protection, and shalt find respect
  • Due to thy birth; for, destined as thou wert
  • To be the wife of my lamented son,
  • I look upon thee with a mother’s eye:
  • [To them both.
  • Go, place yourselves with those whom I have called
  • To witness my resolves, and mark my choice.
  • [To Arsaces.
  • Be thou, my best protector, near the throne.
Edition: current; Page: [190]

SCENE VI.

The apartment of Sémiramis opens into a magnificent saloon richly ornamented; a number of officers in their proper habits on the steps of the throne, which is raised in the middle; the satraps on each side: the high priest enters with the magi, and places himself between Assur and Arsaces: the queen in the midst with Azema, and her attendants: guards at the lower end of the saloon.

oroes.
  • Ye princes, magi, warriors, the support
  • Of Babylon, assembled by command
  • From great Sémiramis, the will of heaven
  • Soon shall ye know: the gods that guard our empire
  • Have fixed on this important hour to work
  • A great and mighty change; whoe’er the queen
  • Shall here appoint her sovereign and our own
  • It is our duty to obey; and here
  • I bring my tribute to the throne, my prayers
  • And wishes for the glory and the welfare
  • Of them, and of their kingdom: may these days
  • Of joy and gladness ne’er be changed to hours
  • Of grief and sorrow, nor these songs of mirth
  • To mournful plaints!
azema.
  • A king, my lords, will soon
  • Be named; whoe’er he be, the choice will injure
  • Myself alone; but Azema was born
  • And must remain a subject; I submit
  • To the queen’s pleasure, and on her protection
  • Shall still depend; nor with the dark presage
  • Of future ills shall interrupt your joy:
  • But leave you my example of obedience.
Edition: current; Page: [191]
assur.
  • Howe’er the queen may choose, and heaven determine,
  • We must consult the public good alone;
  • Let us then swear by this imperial throne,
  • And great Sémiramis, to yield submissive,
  • And without murmuring to obey her will.
arsaces.
  • I swear it; and this arm that fought for her,
  • This heart obedient ever to her voice,
  • Which next the voice of heaven I still revered,
  • This blood which flowed with pleasure for her sake,
  • Shall be devoted to that royal master
  • Whom she appoints.
high priest.
  • I wait the great award
  • Of heaven and Sémiramis.
sémiramis.
  • Enough:
  • Each to his place, and now attend, my people.
  • [She seats herself on the throne.
  • [azema, assur, oroes (the high priest) and arsaces take their places, and she proceeds.
  • If in that hand which custom and the laws
  • Of an imperious husband had confined
  • To homely cares, and to a distaff chained,
  • I bore aloft the sceptre and the sword,
  • Beyond my subjects’ hope, nor sunk beneath
  • The weight of empire, let me now extend
  • To latest times its glory: ’tis my purpose
  • This day to take a partner in the throne:
  • Edition: current; Page: [192]
  • The gods must be obeyed, whose dread command
  • At length subdued my long unconquered heart:
  • They who deprived me of my son, perhaps
  • May one day raise an heir to Babylon
  • Worthy of empire, who shall follow me
  • Through all the thorny paths that I have trod,
  • Finish my work, and make my reign immortal.
  • I might have chosen a sovereign from the kings
  • That dwell around me, but they are all my foes,
  • Or tributary slaves: a foreign hand
  • Shall never wield this sceptre: my own subjects
  • Are better than the kings which they have conquered:
  • Belus was born a subject; if he gained
  • The diadem, he owed it to the people,
  • And to himself: by rights like his I hold
  • The power supreme; and, mistress of a kingdom
  • Larger than his, have bent beneath my yoke
  • The nations of the East, which Belus ne’er
  • Had seen or heard of: what he but attempted
  • Sémiramis performed; for they who found
  • A kingdom, and they only, can preserve it.
  • You want a king who may be worthy of you,
  • Worthy of such an empire, shall I add
  • Worthy the hand that crowns him, and the heart
  • Which I shall give: I have consulted heaven,
  • My country’s weal, the interest of mankind,
  • And choose a king to make the world more happy.
  • Adore the hero, see in him revived
  • The princes of my honored race; observe him,
  • And know, this king, this hero, is—Arsaces.
  • [She descends from the throne, and they all rise.
azema.
  • Arsaces! the perfidious—
Edition: current; Page: [193]
assur.
  • Rage and vengeance!
arsaces.
  • Believe me, Azema—
oroes.
  • Just heaven! avert
  • These omens.
sémiramis.
  • Thou who sanctifiest my choice,
  • Confirm it at the altar: see in him
  • Ninus and Ninias both restored.
  • [It thunders, and the tomb shakes.
  • O heaven!
  • What do I hear?
oroes.
  • Great gods, protect us now!
sémiramis.
  • The thunder comes, in anger or in love
  • I know not: pardon, gracious gods! Arsaces
  • Must win them to forgiveness. Ha! what voice
  • Distracts me thus? and see, the tomb is open.
  • O heaven! I die.
  • [The ghost of Ninus comes out of the tomb.
assur.
  • The shade of Ninus’ self.
  • Gods! is it possible?
arsaces.
  • What sayest thou? speak,
  • Thou god of terrors.
assur.
  • O unfold thy tale.
Edition: current; Page: [194]
sémiramis.
  • Comest thou to pardon, or to punish me?
  • It is thy sceptre and thy bed which here
  • I have bestowed: speak, is he worthy of it?
  • Determine: I obey thee.
the ghost of ninus to arsaces.
  • Thou shalt reign,
  • Arsaces, but there are some dreadful crimes
  • Which thou must expiate: hie thee to the tomb,
  • And to my ashes offer sacrifice:
  • Serve me and Ninias: remember well
  • Thy father: listen to the pontiff.
arsaces.
  • O!
  • Thou venerable shade, thou demigod,
  • Who dwellest within these walls, the sight of thee
  • Inspires but does not amaze Arsaces:
  • Yes, I will go, on peril of my life,
  • And meet thee in the tomb: but tell me, what
  • Must be the sacrifice? O speak! he’s gone.
  • [The ghost retires towards the entrance of the mausoleum.
sémiramis.
  • Thou honored spirit of my lord, permit me
  • Thus on my knees to pour my sorrows forth,
  • Permit me in the tomb to—
ghost.
  • [At the entrance of the tomb.
  • Stop: no farther:
  • Respect my ashes: when the time is come
  • I’ll send for thee.
  • [The ghost goes into the tomb, and the mausoleum closes.
Edition: current; Page: [195]
assur.
  • Amazing!
sémiramis.
  • Follow me,
  • My people, to the temple: be not thus
  • Dismayed: for know, the gentle shade of Ninus
  • Is not implacable; it loves your king,
  • And therefore will it spare Sémiramis:
  • Heaven that inspired my choice will now support it:
  • Haste then, and pray for me, and for Arsaces.

End of the Third Act.

ACT IV.

SCENE I.

Representing the porch of the temple.

arsaces, azema.

arsaces.
  • Do not oppress me in this hour of grief,
  • And aggravate my sorrows; I have borne
  • Enough already: this dread oracle
  • Affrights me; prodigies on every side
  • Disturb the course of nature: heaven deprives me
  • Of all, if Azema is lost.
azema.
  • No more,
  • False man, nor to the horrors of this day
  • Add the remembrance of thy perfidy;
  • No more the terrors of Sémiramis,
  • The walking spectre, and the opening grave,
  • Appal me now; of all the prodigies
  • Edition: current; Page: [196]
  • Which I have seen, thy base inconstancy
  • Hath shocked me most: go on, appease the shade
  • Of Ninus, and begin the sacrifice
  • With Azema; behold, and strike the victim.
arsaces.
  • It is too much; my heart was not prepared
  • Against this cruel stroke: thou knowest, my soul
  • Prefers thee to the empire of the world:
  • What was the object of that fame in arms
  • I held so dear, of all my victories?
  • All my ambition hoped for was at last
  • To merit thee: Sémiramis, thou knowest,
  • Was dear to both; thy tongue unites with mine
  • To praise her; she was still the guardian god
  • That cherished and protected us; as such
  • We both revered her with that pious zeal
  • And chaste regard which mortals bear to heaven:
  • Judge of my spotless faith by my surprise
  • At the queen’s choice, and mark the precipice
  • It leads us to, thence learn our future fate.
azema.
  • I know it.
arsaces.
  • Learn, that neither thou nor empire
  • Were destined for Arsaces; know, that son
  • Whom I must serve, the child of Ninus, he
  • Who must inherit here—
azema.
  • Well; what of him?
arsaces.
  • That Ninias, he who from his cradle lit
  • The torch of Hymen with thee, who was born
  • My rival and my master—
Edition: current; Page: [197]
azema.
  • Ninias!
arsaces.
  • Lives;
  • And will be with us soon.
azema.
  • Ha! then the queen—
arsaces.
  • Even to this day deceived, laments his death.
azema.
  • Ninias alive!
arsaces.
  • It is a secret yet
  • Within the temple, and she knows it not.
azema.
  • But Ninus crowns thee, and his widow’s thine.
arsaces.
  • Ay, but his son was born for Azema;
  • He is my king, so says the oracle,
  • And I must serve him.
azema.
  • But love claims his own,
  • And will be heard in spite of all, Arsaces:
  • His orders are not doubtful, or obscure.
  • Love is my oracle, and that alone
  • Shall be obeyed. Ninias, thou sayest, yet lives,
  • Let him appear, and let Sémiramis
  • Recall her plighted faith to him; let Ninus
  • Rise from the tomb, to join the fatal knot
  • Made in our infant years; let Ninias come,
  • My king, thy master, and thy rival, fired
  • Edition: current; Page: [198]
  • With all the love which once Arsaces had
  • For Azema, then see how I will slight
  • His proffered vows; then shalt thou see me scorn
  • The sceptre at my feet, and spurn a crown
  • Which is my due: where is he now? What secret,
  • What mystery veils him from us? Let him come;
  • But know, nor Ninias, nor Sémiramis,
  • No, nor the sacred spirit of his father
  • Risen from the tomb, nor all the powers of nature
  • Thrown in confusion, from my heart would wrest
  • The image of my perjured dear Arsaces:
  • Go, ask thy own, if it will dare to act
  • As mine hath done. What are those dreadful crimes
  • Which thou must expiate? if thou e’er shouldst break
  • The sacred tie that binds us, if thou art false,
  • I know no crime, no treachery like thy own.
  • I see the sage interpreter of fate
  • This way advancing, love will never plead
  • Thy cause with heaven, if thou betrayest me: go,
  • From Ninus’ hand receive thy doom; remember,
  • Thy fate depends on heaven, and mine on thee.
  • [Exit Azema.
arsaces.
  • Arsaces still is thine: stay, cruel maid:
  • How mingled is our happiness and woe!
  • What strange events that contradict each other—

SCENE II.

arsaces, oroes, the magi attending.

oroes.
  • [To Arsaces.
  • Let us retire to yonder lonely walk;
  • Edition: current; Page: [199]
  • I see you are much moved: prepare yourself
  • For strokes more dreadful.
  • [To the magi.
  • Bring the royal wreath.
  • [The magi bring the coffer.
  • This letter, and this sacred sword, to thee,
  • Arsaces, I deliver.
arsaces.
  • Reverend father,
  • Wilt thou not save me from the precipice
  • That gapes before me? wilt thou not at length
  • Uplift the veil, that from my eyes conceals
  • My future fate?
oroes.
  • ’Twill be removed, my son;
  • The hour is come, when in his dreary mansions,
  • Ninus from thee expects a sacrifice
  • That shall appease his angry spirit.
arsaces.
  • What
  • Can Ninus ask, what sacrifice from me?
  • Must I be his avenger, when his son
  • Still lives? Let Ninias come; he is my king,
  • And I will serve him.
oroes.
  • ’Tis his father’s will,
  • Thou must obey him: an hour hence, Arsaces,
  • Be at his tomb, armed with this sacred sword,
  • And with this wreath adorned, which Ninus wore,
  • And which thyself did bring to me.
Edition: current; Page: [200]
arsaces.
  • The wreath
  • Of Ninus!
oroes.
  • ’Tis his royal will that thus
  • Thou shouldst appear, to offer up the blood
  • That must be shed; the victim will be there:
  • Strike thou, and leave the rest to him, and heaven.
arsaces.
  • If he requires my life, I’ll give it him:
  • But where is Ninias? thou speakest naught of him:
  • Thou hast not told me how his father gives
  • To me his kingdom and his queen.
oroes.
  • To thee
  • His queen! O heaven, to thee Sémiramis
  • Be given! Arsaces, the important hour
  • Which I had promised thee is come, when thou
  • Shalt know thy fate, and this abandoned woman.
arsaces.
  • Great gods!
oroes.
  • ’Twas she who murdered Ninus.
arsaces.
  • She,
  • Saidst thou, the queen?
oroes.
  • Assur, that foul disgrace
  • Of human nature, Assur gave the poison.
arsaces.
  • I’m not surprised at Assur’s cruelty,
  • But that a wife, a queen, and such a queen,
  • Edition: current; Page: [201]
  • The pride of sovereigns, the delight of nations,
  • That she should e’er be guilty of a crime
  • So horrible! it passes all belief.
  • How can such virtues and such guilt as hers
  • Subsist together!
oroes.
  • How indeed! the question
  • Is worthy of thy noble heart: but now
  • ’Twere needless to dissemble, every moment
  • Is big with some new secret, horrible
  • To nature, who already whispers to thee
  • Her soft complaints; thy generous heart, I see,
  • Spite of thyself, is shocked, and mourns within thee:
  • But wonder not that Ninus from the tomb
  • Indignant rises on this seat of guilt;
  • He comes to break the horrid nuptial tie,
  • Woven by the furies, and expose to light
  • Unpunished crimes; to save his son from incest:
  • He speaks to, he expects thee: know thy father,
  • For thou art Ninias, and the queen’s thy mother.
arsaces.
  • Thou hast o’erpowered me in one dreadful moment
  • With such repeated wonders, that I stand
  • Astonished, and the night of death surrounds me.
  • Am I his son, and can it be?
oroes.
  • Thou art:
  • Ninus, the morn before he died, foresaw
  • His end approaching; knew the deadly draught
  • Which he had drunk was ministered to thee
  • By the same hand, and, dying as thou wert,
  • Withdrew thee from this wicked court: for Assur
  • Had poisoned thee that he might wed thy mother,
  • Edition: current; Page: [202]
  • Thought to exterminate the royal race,
  • And open thus his passage to the throne:
  • But whilst the kingdom mourned thy loss, Phradates,
  • Our faithful friend, secreted and preserved thee;
  • With skilful hand the precious herbs prepared,
  • O’er Persia spread by her benignant God,
  • Whose wondrous power drew forth the latent venom
  • From thy parched limbs: his own son dying, you
  • Supplied his place, and still wert called Arsaces.
  • He waited patient for some lucky change,
  • But the great judge of kings had otherwise
  • Determined; truth at length descends from heaven,
  • And vengeance rises from the tomb.
arsaces.
  • O God!
  • Enough already hast thou tried thy servant,
  • Or must I yield that life which you restored?
  • Yes: I was born midst grandeur, shame, and horror:
  • My mother—Ninus! O what deadly purpose—
  • But if the traitor Assur was alone
  • To blame, if he—
oroes.
  • [Giving him the letter.
  • Behold this paper here,
  • Too faithful witness of her guilt, then say
  • If yet a doubt remains.
arsaces.
  • Haste, give it me,
  • And clear them all.
  • [He reads.
  • Ha! “Ninus to Phradates:
  • I die by poison, guard my Ninias well,
  • Defend him from his foes: my guilty wife—”
Edition: current; Page: [203]
oroes.
  • Needest thou more proof? this witness came from thee.
  • He had not finished; death, thou seest, broke off
  • The imperfect scroll, and stopped his feeble hand;
  • Phradates hath unfolded all the rest,
  • Read this, and learn the whole.
  • [Gives him another paper.
  • It is enough
  • That Ninus hath commanded thee, he guides
  • Thy steps, and leads thee to the throne, but says
  • He must have blood.
arsaces.
  • [After reading the paper.
  • O day of miracles,
  • And you, ye dreadful oracles from hell,
  • Dark as the tomb which I must visit, how
  • Shall I unveil your secret purposes,
  • When he who is to make the sacrifice
  • Knows not his victim! Who shall guide my choice?
  • I tremble at it.
oroes.
  • Tremble for the guilty.
  • Amidst the horrors that oppress thy soul,
  • The gods will guide thee; deem not thou thyself
  • A common mortal, from the race of men
  • Thou art distinguished, set apart by heaven,
  • And noted by its signature divine,
  • Walk thou secure, though night conceals thy fate,
  • The gods of thy great ancestors employ thee
  • But as their instrument. What right hast thou
  • To litigate their power, and to oppose
  • Thy masters? Saved from death, as thou hast been,
  • Be thankful still; complain not, but adore.
Edition: current; Page: [204]

SCENE III.

arsaces, mitranes.

arsaces.
  • I cannot reconcile this strange event:
  • Sémiramis my mother! can it be?
mitranes.
  • [Entering in haste.
  • My lord, the people in this hour of terror
  • Demand their king: permit me first to hail thee
  • The husband of Sémiramis, and lord
  • Of Babylon: the queen is hasting hither
  • In search of thee; I bless the happy hour
  • That gave her to thee: ha! not answer me!
  • Despair is in thy looks, thy lips are closed
  • In dreadful silence, thou art pale with terror,
  • And thy whole frame’s disordered: what has passed?
  • What have they said?
arsaces.
  • I’ll fly to Azema.
mitranes.
  • Amazing! can it be Arsaces? fly
  • A queen’s embraces; scorn her proffered love;
  • Insult her choice; the royal hand that spurned
  • Kings for thy sake! thus are her hopes betrayed?
arsaces.
  • Gods! ’tis Sémiramis herself; O Ninus,
  • Now let thy tomb in its dark bosom hide
  • Her crimes, and me!
Edition: current; Page: [205]

SCENE IV.

sémiramis, arsaces.

sémiramis.
  • Arsaces, all is ready,
  • We want but thee, great master of the world,
  • Whose fate, like mine, depends on thee; O haste,
  • And make our bliss complete! with joy I see
  • Thy brows encircled with that sacred wreath:
  • The priest, I know, was by the gods commanded
  • To crown thee with it; heaven and hell at once
  • Approve my choice, and by these signs confirm it:
  • Assur’s seditious party, struck with awe
  • And holy reverence, tremble at my presence;
  • Ninus, at length propitious, hath required
  • A sacrifice, O haste, and give it him,
  • That we may soon be blest: the people’s hearts
  • Are all with us, and Assur’s threats are vain.
arsaces.
  • [Walking about with great emotion.
  • Assur! away! in his perfidious blood
  • The parricide—we will revenge thee, Ninus.
sémiramis.
  • What do I hear? just heaven! speakest thou of him,
  • Of Ninus?
arsaces.
  • [Wildly.
  • Saidst thou not, his guilty hand
  • [Coming to himself.
  • Had shed—to arm against his queen! the slave,
  • That was enough to make me hate him.
Edition: current; Page: [206]
sémiramis.
  • Haste then,
  • Receive my hand, and thus begin thy vengeance.
arsaces.
  • My father!
sémiramis.
  • Ha! what looks are those, Arsaces?
  • Is this the soft submissive tender heart
  • Which I expected from thee, when I gave
  • My willing hand? That fearful prodigies,
  • And spectres rising from their dark domain,
  • Should leave the marks of horror on thy soul,
  • Alarms me not, I feel them too, but less
  • When I behold Arsaces: do not thus
  • O’erspread this fairest dawn of happiness
  • With sorrow’s gloomy shade, but still appear
  • Such as thou wert when trembling at my feet,
  • Lest Assur e’er should be thy master; fear
  • Nor him, nor Ninus and his angry shade;
  • My dear Arsaces, thou art my support,
  • My lord, my husband.
arsaces.
  • [Turning aside from her.
  • ’Tis too much, O stop:
  • Her guilt o’erwhelms me.
sémiramis.
  • How his soul’s disturbed!
  • Alas! he wants that peace which he bestowed
  • On me.
arsaces.
  • Sémiramis—
Edition: current; Page: [207]
sémiramis.
  • What wouldst thou? speak.
arsaces.
  • I cannot: leave me, leave me: hence! begone.
sémiramis.
  • Amazing! leave thee! can I e’er forsake
  • Arsaces? O explain this mystery to me,
  • And ease my tortured soul: it makes us both
  • Unhappy:—ha! despair is in thy aspect;
  • Thou chillest my veins with horror, and thy eyes
  • Are dreadful; they affright me more than heaven
  • And hell united to oppose my vows:
  • Scarce can my trembling lips pronounce, I love thee:
  • Some power invisible now leads me on
  • Towards thee, now withholds me from thy arms,
  • And mingles, how I know not, tenderest love
  • With sentiments of horror and despair.
arsaces.
  • Hate me, abhor me.
sémiramis.
  • Canst thou bid me hate thee?
  • Cruel Arsaces, no: I still must trace
  • Thy footsteps, still my heart must follow thine:
  • What is that paper which thou lookest on thus
  • With horror, whilst thy eyes are bathed in tears,
  • Does that contain a reason for thy coldness?
arsaces.
  • It does.
sémiramis.
  • Then give it me.
arsaces.
  • I must not: darest thou—
Edition: current; Page: [208]
sémiramis.
  • I’ll have it.
arsaces.
  • Leave to me that dreadful scroll,
  • To thee ’twere fatal, I have use for it.
sémiramis.
  • Whence came it?
arsaces.
  • From the gods.
sémiramis.
  • And wrote by whom?
arsaces.
  • Wrote by my father.
sémiramis.
  • Ha! what sayest thou?
arsaces.
  • Tremble.
sémiramis.
  • Give it me, let me know at once my fate.
arsaces.
  • Urge it no more; there is death in every line.
sémiramis.
  • No matter: clear my doubts, or I shall think
  • That thou art guilty.
arsaces.
  • Ye immortal powers
  • That guide our steps, it is to your decrees
  • That I submit.
Edition: current; Page: [209]
sémiramis.
  • For the last time, Arsaces,
  • I here command thee, listen, and obey.
arsaces.
  • [Giving her the letter.
  • O may thy justice, heaven, be satisfied!
  • And this the only punishment that e’er
  • Shall be inflicted on her! now ’tis past,
  • And thou wilt know too much.
  • [She reads.
sémiramis.
  • [To Otanes.
  • What do I read?
  • Support me, or I die.
  • [She faints.
arsaces.
  • She sees it all.
sémiramis.
  • [Coming to herself, after a long silence.
  • Delay not, but fulfil thy destiny:
  • Punish this guilty, this unhappy wretch,
  • And in my blood wash out the deadly stain.
  • Nature deceived is horrible to both,
  • Avenge thy father, strike, and punish me.
arsaces.
  • No: let the sacred character I bear,
  • The name of son, preserve me from that crime!
  • Much rather would I pierce the heart of him
  • Who still reveres thee, the poor lost Arsaces.
Edition: current; Page: [210]
sémiramis.
  • [Kneeling.
  • Be cruel as Sémiramis; she felt
  • No pity, therefore be the son of Ninus,
  • And take my life: thou wilt not; nay, thy tears
  • Even mix with mine: O Ninias, ’tis a day
  • Of horrors, yet there’s pleasure in this pain.
  • Before thou givest me what I have deserved,
  • The stroke of death, let nature’s voice be heard:
  • O let a guilty mother’s tears bedew
  • That dear, that fatal hand.
arsaces.
  • I am thy son,
  • ’Tis not for thee, whate’er thy guilt, to fall
  • Thus at my feet: O rise, thy Ninias begs,
  • He loves thee still, still vows obedience to thee,
  • Respect and purest love: consider me
  • As a new subject, only more submissive,
  • More humble, than the rest; I hope, more dear.
  • Heaven that restores thy son is sure appeased:
  • The gods who pardon thee reserve their vengeance
  • For Assur; leave him to his fate.
sémiramis.
  • Receive
  • My crown and sceptre, I have much disgraced them.
arsaces.
  • Still, I beseech you, hold me ignorant
  • Of all, and let me with the world adore you.
sémiramis.
  • O no: my guilt’s too flagrant.
Edition: current; Page: [e]
lf0060-09_figure_003.jpg
Edition: current; Page: [211]
arsaces.
  • But repentance
  • May blot it out.
sémiramis.
  • Ninus hath given to thee
  • The reins of empire, thou must not offend
  • His vengeful spirit.
arsaces.
  • O it will relent
  • At thy remorse, and soften at my tears.
  • Otanes, in the name of heaven, preserve
  • My mother, and conceal the horrid secret.

End of the Fourth Act.

ACT V.

SCENE I.

sémiramis, otanes.

otanes.
  • O ’twas some god that smiled propitious on thee,
  • Who thus prevented these abhorred nuptials;
  • Whilst nature shuddered at the approaching danger,
  • Gave thee a son, and saved thee thus from incest.
  • The oracles of Ammon, and the voice
  • From hell, the shades of Ninus, all declared
  • The day appointed for thy second marriage
  • Should end thy sorrows, but they never said
  • That marriage e’er should be accomplished: No:
  • The nuptials were prepared: thou hast fulfilled
  • Thy destiny: thy son reveres thee still:
  • Mild is the justice of offended heaven,
  • Which only asks a private sacrifice:
  • This day Sémiramis shall still be happy.
Edition: current; Page: [212]
sémiramis.
  • Alas! there is no happiness for me,
  • Otanes: Ninias smiles indeed upon me:
  • A mother’s sorrows for a time will plead
  • More strongly with him than the blood of Ninus,
  • And my past crimes; but soon his tenderness
  • And filial love may change perhaps to wrath
  • And fierce resentment for a murdered father.
otanes.
  • What fearest thou from a son? what dire presage—
sémiramis.
  • Fear is the natural punishment of guilt,
  • And still attends it: this detested Assur,
  • Has he attempted aught, say, does he know
  • What passed of late, and who Arsaces is?
otanes.
  • The dreadful secret still remains unknown;
  • The shade of Ninus is by all revered;
  • But how to comprehend the oracle
  • They know not; how they must avenge his ashes;
  • How serve his son—the minds of men are struck
  • With wild astonishment, in silence now
  • They wait the hour when the self-opened tomb
  • Shall banish all their fears, and make them happy.
  • Meantime the soldiers are in arms, the people
  • Crowd to the altars; wretched Azema,
  • Trembling and pale, with terror in her looks,
  • Walks round the tomb, and lifts her hands to heaven;
  • Whilst Ninias stands astonished in the temple,
  • Prepared to strike his victim yet unknown:
  • The gloomy Assur meditates revenge,
  • Edition: current; Page: [213]
  • Unites the remnants of his scattered party,
  • And forms some dark design.
sémiramis.
  • I have kept fair
  • Too long already with him: seize the traitor,
  • Otanes, bear him to my son in chains;
  • Ninias shall soon appease eternal justice,
  • At least with Assur’s blood, my vile accomplice.
  • Ninus, thou seest I am a mother still;
  • Thou seest my heart, O take it, take it all,
  • And may it rise a grateful sacrifice!
  • Ha! who approaches with such hasty steps?
  • How everything appals my fluttering soul!

SCENE II.

sémiramis, azema, otanes.

azema.
  • O Queen, forgive me if I come uncalled;
  • But terrors worse than death have forced me thus
  • To clasp thy knees, and beg thy royal mercy—
sémiramis.
  • What wouldst thou, princéss? speak.
azema.
  • To snatch a hero
  • From instant danger, stop a traitor’s hand,
  • And save Arsaces.
sémiramis.
  • Ha! what hand? Arsaces!
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azema.
  • He is thy husband, Azema’s betrayed,
  • He lives for you alone; no matter—
sémiramis.
  • He
  • My husband! gods!
azema.
  • The sacred tie that binds you—
sémiramis.
  • The tie is dreadful, impious, and abhorred:
  • Arsaces is—but speak, go on; I tremble:
  • What dangers? haste, and tell me.
azema.
  • Well thou knowest,
  • Perhaps this very moment, whilst I ask
  • Thy aid, perhaps—
sémiramis.
  • Well, what?
azema.
  • That demigod
  • Whom we adore, demands the sacrifice
  • Within the dreary labyrinths of the tomb:
  • What are the crimes Arsaces must atone for
  • I know not.
sémiramis.
  • Crimes! just heaven!
azema.
  • But impious Assur
  • Hath sworn to violate that sacred place
  • Which mortals dare not enter.
Edition: current; Page: [215]
sémiramis.
  • Ay! indeed!
  • Hath Assur sworn it?
azema.
  • In the dead of night
  • The wily traitor had long since secured
  • A safe retreat, if e’er occasion called,
  • Within the secret windings of the tomb,
  • Where now he means to do the bloody deed,
  • To brave the powers of hell, and wrath of heaven;
  • With sacrilegious hand he would destroy
  • The generous Arsaces.
sémiramis.
  • Heaven! what sayest thou?
  • By what detested means?
azema.
  • Believe a heart
  • By love enlightened, and by love inspired:
  • I know the traitor’s rank envenomed hatred,
  • Marked how the trembling faction by his zeal
  • Revived; I pried into their secret councils,
  • Pretended to unite his cause with mine,
  • And join our interests; I have looked into him,
  • Have wrested from his heart the fatal secret.
  • Boldly he marches on, and hopes to pass
  • Unpunished: well he knows that none dare enter
  • That holy place, not Oroes himself:
  • Thither he’s gone: meantime his slaves report
  • Arsaces is the victim that must die
  • For Babylon, and Ninus in his blood
  • Shall satiate his revenge: the nobles meet,
  • The people murmur; Ninus, Assur, heaven,
  • Are all incensed: I tremble for Arsaces.
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sémiramis.
  • My dearest Azema, heaven speaks by thee:
  • It is enough: I see what must be done.
  • Repose thyself with safety on a mother;
  • Daughter, our danger is the same; go thou,
  • Defend thy husband, I will save my son.
azema.
  • O heaven!
sémiramis.
  • I meant to wed him, but the gods
  • In mercy have forbade it: they inspire
  • A hapless mother now—but time is precious;
  • Go: leave me here, and in my name command
  • The nobles, priests, and people, to attend me.
  • [Azema goes into the porch of the temple, and Sémiramis advances toward the tomb.
  • Thou shade of Ninus, lo! I fly to avenge thee;
  • The hour is come when thou didst promise me
  • Admittance to thy tomb; I have obeyed thee,
  • Called by thy voice, behold me here to save
  • My son. Ye guards that wait around my throne
  • Approach: henceforth Arsaces is your king;
  • No more obedient to Sémiramis,
  • Observe his laws, to him the sovereign power
  • I here resign: be you his subject now,
  • And his defenders.
  • [Guards appear, and range themselves on each side at the further part of the stage.
  • Gracious heaven! protect me.
  • [She goes into the tomb.
Edition: current; Page: [217]

SCENE III.

azema.
  • [Returning from the porch of the temple to the front of the stage.
  • What can she purpose? O it is too late
  • To save him now; I know not what to think:
  • ’Tis wondrous all; O ’tis a dreadful moment,
  • Arsaces! Ninias! ye immortal powers
  • Who guide our fate, O say, did you restore
  • My loved Arsaces but to snatch him from me?

SCENE IV.

azema, ninias.

azema.
  • Ha! Ninias! can it be? Art thou indeed
  • Great Ninus’ son, my sovereign, and my husband?
ninias.
  • O! thou beholdest me, Azema, ashamed
  • To know myself, sprung from the blood of gods,
  • And shuddering at the thought: O! Azema,
  • Remove my terrors, calm my troubled soul,
  • Strengthen my arm upraised to avenge a father.
azema.
  • Take heed how thou performest that dreadful office.
ninias.
  • He hath commanded, and I must obey.
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azema.
  • Ninus would never sacrifice his son:
  • Impossible!
ninias.
  • What says my Azema?
azema.
  • Ne’er shalt thou enter that abhorred place,
  • For know, a traitor lies in wait for thee.
ninias.
  • Who shall withhold or terrify Arsaces?
azema.
  • Thou art the victim to be offered there:
  • With sacrilegious steps the impious Assur
  • Profanes the sacred tomb, and rashly dares
  • To violate its privilege divine:
  • He waits thee there.
ninias.
  • Good heaven! then all is plain;
  • I’m satisfied: the victim is prepared;
  • My father, poisoned by the wicked Assur,
  • Demands the traitor’s blood: instructed thus
  • By Oroes, and conducted by the gods,
  • Armed by the hand of Ninus’ self, I go
  • To punish the assassin: thither led
  • By heaven’s eternal justice, my weak hand
  • Is but the instrument of power divine:
  • The gods do all, and my astonished soul
  • Yields to that voice which must decree my fate:
  • Spite of ourselves, our ways are noted down,
  • Marked, and determined: prodigies are spread
  • Around the throne, and spirits called from hell
  • To wander here: but fearless I obey.
  • Believe, and trust in heaven.
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azema.
  • Whate’er the gods
  • Have done but fills my soul with sad dismay:
  • Ninus was loved by them; yet Ninus perished.
ninias.
  • But now they will avenge him: cease thy plaints.
azema.
  • Oft have they chose the purest victim, oft
  • Have shed the blood of innocence.
ninias.
  • No more;
  • They will defend whom thus they have united:
  • They by a father’s voice exhorted us,
  • Gave me a throne, a mother, and a wife.
  • Soon shalt thou see me sprinkled with the blood
  • Of the vile murderer; from the tomb those gods
  • Shall lead me to the altar; I obey;
  • It is enough: the rest be left to heaven.

SCENE V.

azema.
  • [Alone.
  • O guard his footsteps in this fatal tomb!
  • Ye powers inscrutable, whose blood must flow
  • This day? I tremble for the event, and dread
  • The hand of Assur, long inured to slaughter;
  • Even on his father’s ashes may he shed
  • The blood of Ninias: O may the dark womb
  • Of hell receive and swallow up his rage!
  • Ye lightnings blast him! O illustrious shade
  • Of Ninus, wherefore wouldst thou not permit
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  • A wretched wife to go with her dear lord?
  • O guide, support him in this place of darkness!
  • Did I not hear the voice of Ninias mixed
  • With deadly groans? O would this sacred tomb,
  • Which I profane, but open to my wishes
  • The gate of death!—I will descend:—I go—
  • Hark! the earth shakes, and dreadful lightnings flash
  • Athwart the skies: fear, hope, despair—he comes.

SCENE VI.

ninias, a bloody sword in his hand, azema.

ninias.
  • O heaven! Where am I?
azema.
  • O! my lord, you’re pale,
  • And bloody, frozen with horror.
ninias.
  • ’Tis the blood
  • Of the vile parricide: I wandered down
  • Even to the bottom of the tomb; my father
  • Still led me onward through its winding paths,
  • He walked before, and pointed out the place
  • Of my revenge: there, by the imperfect light
  • That glimmered through the dreary vault, I saw,
  • Or thought I saw, upraised the murderer’s sword:
  • Methought he trembled; guilt is ever fearful:
  • Twice did I plunge my sword into his heart,
  • And with my bloody arm, which rage had strengthened,
  • Had dragged him in the dust towards the place
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  • Whence the dim rays of light appeared: and yet
  • I own to thee, his deep heart-rending sighs,
  • The mournful sounds, imperfect as they were,
  • That reached my ears, his humble vows to heaven,
  • With that repentance which in his last hour
  • Seemed to possess his soul, the hallowed place,
  • The voice of pity, which, revenge once o’er,
  • Calls loudly on us, with I know not what
  • Of dark mysterious terror, shook my soul,
  • And made me leave the bleeding victim there.
  • What can this trouble, this strange horror mean
  • That dwells upon me, Azema? My heart
  • Is pure, ye gods, my hands are innocent,
  • Stained only with the blood you bid me shed;
  • I’ve served the cause of heaven, and yet am wretched.
azema.
  • The dead are satisfied, and nature too:
  • Come let us quit this horrid place, and seek
  • Thy mother, she shall calm thy troubled mind:
  • Since Assur is no more—

SCENE VII.

ninias, azema, assur.

[Assur appears at a distance with Otanes, surrounded by guards.

azema.
  • O heaven! he’s there.
ninias.
  • Assur!
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azema.
  • O haste, ye ministers of heaven,
  • Ye servants of the king, defend your master.

SCENE VIII.

oroes, the high priest, with the magi and people assembled, otanes, ninias, azema, mitranes, assur.

[Disarmed.

otanes.
  • They need not: by the queen’s command I’ve seized
  • The traitor, who attempted to profane
  • Yon sacred monument, and enter there:
  • I shall deliver him to thee.
ninias.
  • Alas!
  • What victim then hath Ninias sacrificed?
oroes.
  • Heaven is appeased, and vengeance now complete.
  • Behold, ye people, your king’s murderer.
  • [Pointing to Assur.
  • Behold, ye people, your king’s successor.
  • [Pointing to Ninias.
  • ’Tis Ninias, Babylon’s lost prince, restored:
  • He is your sovereign, know him, and obey.
assur.
  • Thou Ninias!
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oroes.
  • Ay; ’tis he: the guardian god,
  • Who saved him from thy rage, hath brought him hither;
  • That god whose vengeance hath o’erthrown thee.
assur.
  • Ha! did Sémiramis then give thee life?
ninias.
  • She did, and power withal to punish thee:
  • Guards take him hence, and rid me of a monster.
  • He was not worthy of my sword; to fall
  • By Ninias’ hand had been a death too glorious.
  • The victim hath escaped me; let him die,
  • Even as he lived, with infamy: away.
assur.
  • It is my heaviest punishment to see
  • Ninias my sovereign: but ’tis pleasure still
  • To leave thee more unhappy than myself;
  • [Sémiramis appears at the foot of the tomb, wounded, and almost dead, one of the magi supporting her.
  • Look yonder, and behold what thou hast done.
  • [Pointing to Sémiramis.
ninias.
  • Whom have I slain?
azema.
  • Fly, my dear Ninias, fly
  • This fatal place.
mitranes.
  • What hast thou done?
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oroes.
  • [Placing himself between Ninias and the tomb.
  • Away;
  • And cleanse those bloody hands: give me the sword,
  • That fatal instrument of wrath divine.
ninias.
  • No: let me plunge it to my heart.
  • [He attempts to destroy himself, the guards interpose.
oroes.
  • Disarm him.
sémiramis.
  • [Brought forward and seated on a sofa.
  • Revenge me, O my son; some base assassin
  • Has slain thy mother.
ninias.
  • O unhappy hour;
  • Unheard of guilt! for know, that base assassin,
  • That monster was—thy son: this hand hath pierced
  • The breast that nourished and supported me:
  • But soon thou shalt have vengeance, Ninias soon
  • Shall follow thee.
sémiramis.
  • I went into the tomb
  • To save thee, Ninias; thy unhappy mother—
  • But from thy hands, I have received the fate
  • I merited.
ninias.
  • This last, this fatal stroke,
  • Sinks deep into my soul: but here I call
  • Those gods to witness who conducted me,
  • Those who misled my steps—
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sémiramis.
  • No more, my son:
  • Freely I pardon thee, and only make
  • This last request, that those dear hands may close
  • My dying eyes.
  • [He kneels.
  • A mother begs it of thee:
  • Thy heart I know was stranger to the deed:
  • O would that I had been as innocent
  • When Ninus died! but I have suffered for it.
  • Henceforth let mortals know, that there are crimes
  • Offended heaven never can forgive.
  • O Ninias, Azema, let your blessed union
  • Blot out my crimes; come near your dying mother;
  • Give me your hands; long may ye live and reign
  • In happiness! that hope still gives me comfort,
  • And mingles joy even with the pangs of death.
  • It comes, I feel it. O! my children, think
  • On your Sémiramis, O do not hate
  • My memory,—O my son, my son—’tis past.
oroes.
  • Her eyes are sunk in darkness: help the king
  • And guard his life. Learn from her sad example,
  • That heaven is witness to our secret crimes:
  • The higher is the criminal, remember,
  • The gods inflict the greater punishment;
  • Kings, tremble on your thrones, and fear their justice.

End of the Fifth and Last Act.

Edition: current; Page: [f]

CATILINE

Edition: current; Page: [226]

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

CICERO, SEPTIMUS,
CÆSAR, CRASSUS,
CATILINE, CLODIUS,
AURELIA, CETHEGUS,
CATO, LENTULUS-SURA,
LUCULLUS, Conspirators,
MARTIAN, Lictors.

The Scene represents, on one side, the palace of Aurelia; on the other the temple of Tellus, where the senate assembled: At a distance, a gallery communicating to some private passages that lead from the palace of Aurelia to the vestibule of the temple.

In his preface to this play Voltaire says:

“The learned will not here meet with a faithful narrative of Catiline’s conspiracy: a tragedy, they very well know, is not a history, but they will see a true picture of the manners of those times: all that Cicero, Catiline, Cato and Cæsar do in this piece is not true, but their genius and character are faithfully represented: if we do not there discover the eloquence of Cicero, we shall at least find displayed all that courage and virtue which he showed in the hour of danger. In Catiline is described that contrast of fierceness and dissimulation which formed his real character; Cæsar is represented as growing into power, factious, and brave; that Cæsar who was born at once to be the glory and the scourge of Rome.”

Edition: current; Page: [227]

ACT I.

SCENE I.

catiline.
  • [Soldiers at the bottom of the stage.
  • Yes, thou proud talker, thou vile instrument
  • Of a deluded people, soon thy power
  • Shall be no more; and thou whose savage virtue,
  • Inflexibly severe, destroys the nation
  • It means to save, imperious Cato, know
  • Thy doom is passed, thou and the tyrant senate
  • Must fall together; they who keep the world
  • In bondage shall themselves be slaves; their chains
  • Are forged already, and usurping Pompey
  • Shall pay for dear bought honors with his blood.
  • Cæsar, his haughty rival, shall oppose him,
  • His equal Cæsar: he who, like myself,
  • Was ever factious, shall assist my cause;
  • The snare is laid, and Cæsar shall prepare
  • The throne for Catiline; I’ll make them all
  • Subservient to my purpose: Cicero’s self,
  • The man whom most I hate, shall be my friend:
  • My wife too may be useful, and may prove
  • A step to greatness: fathers, husbands, all
  • Those empty names mistaken mortals call
  • Most sacred, hence, I give you to the winds:
  • Ambition, I am thine.
Edition: current; Page: [228]

SCENE II.

catiline, cethegus.

catiline.
  • Well, my Cethegus,
  • Whilst Rome and our designs are hid in night,
  • Say, hast thou called together our brave chiefs?
cethegus.
  • Even here, my lord, beneath this portico,
  • Safe from the consul’s prying eyes, and near
  • That impious scene where our proud tyrants sit,
  • Thy friends shall meet—already they have signed
  • The solemn compact, and are sworn to serve thee.
  • But how stands Cæsar, will he second us?
catiline.
  • He is a turbulent unruly spirit,
  • And acts but for himself.
cethegus.
  • And yet without him
  • We never shall succeed.
catiline.
  • I’ve laid a snare
  • He cannot escape: my soldiers, in his name,
  • Shall seize Præneste—he’s been long suspected.
  • This will confirm his guilt—the furious consul
  • Shall soon accuse him to the senate—Cæsar
  • Will hazard all to satiate his revenge.
  • Edition: current; Page: [229]
  • I’ll rouse this sleeping lion from his den,
  • And make him roar for me.
cethegus.
  • But Nonnius still
  • Rules in Præneste; he’s a friend to Rome.
  • In vain already thou hast tried to tempt
  • His stubborn virtue—what must be his fate?
catiline.
  • Thou knowest I love his daughter, though I hate
  • Her surly father: long he strove in vain
  • To thwart our mutual passion, and prevent
  • Our private marriage, which at last the churl
  • Unwillingly consented to: he feared
  • To incur his angry party’s high displeasure
  • And the proud consul’s—but I’ve made his pride
  • Subservient to our purpose—he is bound
  • By solemn oaths to keep our marriage still
  • A secret: Sura only and Cethegus
  • Are privy to it: this perhaps may serve
  • More purposes than one: Aurelia’s palace
  • Conducts us to the temple; there I’ve placed
  • My instruments of ruin, arms, and firebrands,
  • To execute our great design: thy zeal
  • To friendship much I owe, but more to love.
  • Beneath the senate’s sacred vault, beneath
  • The roof of Nonnius will we sacrifice
  • These tyrants—you, my friends, must to Præneste;
  • You to the capitol; remember whom
  • You serve, the oath that binds you, and the cause
  • You are engaged in—thou, my loved Cethegus,
  • Must watch o’er all, and guide the great machine.
Edition: current; Page: [230]

SCENE III.

aurelia, catiline.

aurelia.
  • O Catiline, my lord, my husband, ease
  • My troubled heart, remove my doubts, my fears,
  • My horror, my despair—alas! what means
  • This dreadful preparation?—every step
  • I tread alarms me; why these soldiers, why
  • With arms and torches is my palace filled?
  • The days of Marius and of Sulla sure
  • Are now returned, and discord reigns amongst us:
  • Explain, my lord, this dreadful mystery:
  • Do not turn from me—by the sacred tie
  • That joins our hearts, by the dear babe thou lovest,
  • I talk not to thee of its mother’s danger,
  • For thee alone I tremble: pity me,
  • Pity a wretched wife, and tell me all.
catiline.
  • Know then, my life, my fortune, and my fame,
  • Thy safety, and my own, the common cause,
  • Demand a conduct which thy fears condemn:
  • But if thou lovest me, let whate’er thou seest
  • Be buried in thy breast: I mean to save
  • Rome’s better part; the senate and the people
  • Are disunited—danger threats the state
  • On every side; I’ve taken the best means
  • To make all well again.
aurelia.
  • I hope thou hast;
  • But can we hide our hearts from those we love?
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  • Canst thou deceive me? yet what thou hast said
  • Doubles my fears. Alas! thy looks are wild,
  • And full of horror. What will Nonnius say
  • When he shall see these dreadful preparations?
  • The voice of nature, and the tender names
  • Of father and brother oft have passed
  • Unheard and unregarded when the cause
  • Of Rome required it—well thou knowest our marriage
  • Gave much offence, and when my angry father
  • Returning, shall behold these sad effects
  • Of our unhappy union, what, my lord,
  • Must I expect? O why wilt thou abuse
  • The power which love has given thee o’er a heart
  • Devoted to thy service?—thou hast gained
  • A party, but consider well my father,
  • Cato, and Cicero, and Rome, and heaven,
  • Are all thy foes: Nonnius perhaps may come
  • This very day on purpose to destroy thee.
catiline.
  • Be not afraid, I know he cannot.
aurelia.
  • How?
catiline.
  • Whene’er he comes he must approve our purpose:
  • I am not left at liberty to tell thee
  • What we design, suffice it that his interest
  • And mine are one: I know when he shall find
  • The fair result, he then will join with me
  • To pull down the proud tyrants he obeys:
  • Trust me, Aurelia, what I do shall prove
  • The fertile spring of everlasting glory
  • And honor to you both—
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aurelia.
  • Alas! the honor
  • I fear is doubtful, and the danger certain:
  • What seekest thou? wherefore wouldst thou urge thy fate?
  • Is it not enough to rank among the first
  • Of human kind, and rule the subject world?
  • Why wouldst thou mount the giddy heights of power,
  • And court destruction? my foreboding heart
  • Already sees, and trembles at thy danger.
  • Are these the promised joys of flattering love?
  • The peace I hoped for? I have lost it now
  • For ever: O, my lord, when last these eyes
  • Were in a short and broken slumber closed,
  • Methought I saw in flames imperial Rome;
  • Saw murders, deaths, and rivers stained with blood,
  • My father massacred in open senate,
  • And thee, my Catiline, amidst a band
  • Of vile assassins, breathing forth thy soul
  • In dreadful agonies: I rose, and fled
  • From these sad images to find my lord,
  • My guardian, my protector—thou art here,
  • And I, alas! am but the more unhappy.
catiline.
  • Away—thy omens fright not Catiline;
  • Complain not, but be resolute: I want
  • Thy courage, not thy tears, when I am serving
  • Thee and my country.
aurelia.
  • Is it thus thou meanst
  • To serve her? O, my lord, I know not what
  • Thy purpose is, but were it fair and just
  • Perhaps I might long since have been consulted;
  • Edition: current; Page: [233]
  • Our mutual interest claimed it from a husband:
  • If thou dissemblest with me, I have cause
  • To doubt, and to be wretched—Cicero
  • Has long suspected thee, and Rome thou knowest
  • Adores him.
catiline.
  • Whom? my hated rival?

SCENE IV.

catiline, aurelia, martian.

One of the Conspirators.

martian.
  • Sir,
  • The consul comes this way—by his command
  • The senate meet; he wishes first to see
  • And speak with you.
aurelia.
  • I tremble at his name.
catiline.
  • Why tremble at the name of Cicero?
  • Let Nonnius fear and reverence him, disgrace
  • His rank and character by mean submission;
  • I pity the weak senator, but hoped
  • To find in thee a noble soul: not thus,
  • Remember, acted thy brave ancestors:
  • Gods! that a woman, and a Roman, sprung
  • From Nero’s blood, should thus be void of pride
  • Or of ambition! noble minds are ne’er
  • Without them.
Edition: current; Page: [234]
aurelia.
  • Mine perhaps thou thinkest is mean
  • And timid; cruelty alone with thee
  • Is courage; thy reproach is most unkind;
  • But know me better; know that this fond wife,
  • Whom thou contemnest, who has not power to change
  • Or soften thee, has more of Roman in her
  • Than thou canst boast; and, coward as she is,
  • Can teach thee how to die.
catiline.
  • How many cares
  • At once surround me!—Cicero comes—but him
  • I fear not: this Aurelia.—

SCENE V.

cicero, catiline, Chief of the Lictors.

cicero.
  • [To the Chief Lictor.
  • Do as I
  • Command you—I’ll try if I can sound
  • This faithless heart; leave me alone with him:
  • Sometimes a villain may be wrought by fear
  • To better counsel, and renounce his purpose.
  • Who’s there? the proud plebeian, chosen by Rome
  • To be her master?
  • [Turns to Cataline.
  • Ere the senate meet,
  • Catiline, I come for the last time to hold
  • The friendly torch, and save thy wandering steps
  • From the dread precipice of guilt and ruin.
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catiline.
  • Who, thou?
cicero.
  • Yes, I.
catiline.
  • And is it thus thy hate
  • Pursues me?
cicero.
  • Call it pity—but observe me.
  • The capitol is weary of thy plaints,
  • Thy factious cries, and bold impertinence;
  • Rome, and the senate have, it seems, debased
  • The consul’s dignity by choosing me:
  • Thy pride we know expected it, but how
  • Hadst thou deserved it? was it by the name,
  • Or family, thy valor, or the pride
  • Of a loose prodigal in shows and feasts
  • And idle pomp; could these entitle thee
  • To such exalted honors? couldst thou hope
  • To be the great dispenser of the laws,
  • To guide the mistress of the world who rules
  • O’er prostrate kings? had Catiline been what
  • He ought to be, I might perhaps to him
  • Have yielded the contested palm.—Hereafter
  • Thou mayest support the state, but to be consul
  • ’Tis fit thou first shouldst be—a citizen.
  • Thinkest thou by vile reflections on my birth,
  • My fortune, and my fame, to taint my honor,
  • Or weaken the firm basis of my power?
  • In our corrupted days it is not name,
  • Or family, that Rome has need of: no:
  • ’Tis virtue; and the pride of Cicero
  • Hath ever been, that he should nothing owe
  • To his forefathers—my nobility
  • Springs from myself, and thine may end in thee.
Edition: current; Page: [236]
catiline.
  • It ill becomes a temporary power,
  • Like thine, to boast of its authority.
cicero.
  • Had Cicero used that power as thou deservest,
  • Thou wouldst not have been here to question it:
  • Thou who hast stained our altars with pollution
  • And sacrilegious rage, thy days are numbered
  • But by thy crimes: thy merit is to dare,
  • To strike at all, dissemble, and betray:
  • Thou hast abused the precious gifts that heaven
  • Bestowed on thee for other purposes:
  • Sense, beauty, courage, and heroic warmth,
  • All the fair ornaments of human nature,
  • In thee are but the instruments of ill.
  • My voice, which still is raised to scourge the wicked,
  • And plead for the oppressed, hath spared thee yet;
  • Nor with the odious Verres ranked the name
  • Of Catiline: but long impunity
  • Hath made thee shameless, and insensible
  • Of all reproof—thou hast betrayed the state:
  • At Rome, and in Etruria all is discord,
  • And foul confusion; Umbria is revolted;
  • Præneste staggers in her faith; the soldiers
  • Of barbarous Sulla, drenched in blood, come forth
  • From their dark caves prepared for slaughter, armed
  • By cruel Mallius; all are leagued with thee;
  • Thy partisans declared, or secret friends,
  • All are united in one guilty bond,
  • And sworn to the destruction of their country:
  • I know thee for their chief, for I have eyes
  • On every side, and hands too, thou shalt find,
  • That, spite of thee, shall vindicate the cause
  • Of injured Rome; thy guilty friends shall feel
  • Edition: current; Page: [237]
  • My justice too: thou hast beheld me long
  • But as thy rival, now behold thy judge,
  • And thy accuser, who will force thee soon
  • To answer for thy actions by those laws
  • Which thou so oft hast trampled on unpunished,
  • Those laws which thou contemnest, and I revenge.
catiline.
  • I’ve told you, sir, already, that your office
  • But ill excuses this indecent freedom:
  • But for that country’s sake, whom both are bound
  • To serve, I pardon your unjust suspicions;
  • Nay, I do more, I honor your warm zeal;
  • Blind though it be, in such a cause ’tis just:
  • But do not thus reproach me for past errors,
  • For the wild follies of impetuous youth,
  • That soon are o’er; your senate is to blame,
  • I followed their example; pomp and pride,
  • Excess and luxury, the fruits of conquest,
  • Are the time’s vices, not the native bent
  • Of Catiline’s heart: I served the commonweal
  • In Asia as a soldier, as a judge
  • In Africa: spite of our domestic feuds,
  • Did I not make the name of Rome revered
  • Among the nations? I who have defended
  • Shall ne’er betray her.
cicero.
  • Sulla too and Marius
  • Both served their country well, and then destroyed her.
  • Tyrants have all some specious show of virtue,
  • And ere they break their country’s laws support them.
Edition: current; Page: [238]
catiline.
  • If you suspect each brave and gallant soldier,
  • Let Cæsar, Pompey, Crassus be accused:
  • Why fix on me amongst so many? why
  • Am I the only object of your fears?
  • Have I deserved it?
cicero.
  • That you best can tell.
  • But wherefore deign I thus to answer you?
catiline.
  • The more I plead in my defence, the more
  • Will Cicero condemn me: if as friend
  • Thou talkest to me, thou but deceivest thyself,
  • I am thy foe; if as a citizen,
  • So too is Catiline; if as a consul,
  • A consul’s not a master, he presides
  • But in the senate, I defy him there.
cicero.
  • Thou durst not; for I there can punish guilt:
  • If thou art innocent, I will protect thee;
  • If not, I charge thee, be not seen in Rome.
catiline.
  • This is too much: I will no longer bear
  • Thy insults, though I scorn thy vague suspicions:
  • Yet know I think the worst affront that thou
  • Couldst put on Catiline, would be to protect him.
cicero.
  • [Alone.
  • Insolent traitor! means he thus to prove
  • His innocence by false affected pride?
  • Perfidious wretch, I’m not to be deceived,
  • Nor shalt thou thus escape the watchful eye
  • Of vengeance.
Edition: current; Page: [239]

SCENE VI.

cicero, cato.

cicero.
  • Well, my friend, hast thou prepared
  • For Rome’s defence?
cato.
  • Your orders are obeyed;
  • I have disposed the chiefs, and all are ready
  • To march as you direct them; but I fear
  • The people, nay the senate.
cicero.
  • Ha! the senate?
cato.
  • Ay—they are swollen with pride—and foul division
  • Will soon enslave them.
cicero.
  • Much indeed I fear
  • Our vices will avenge the conquered world;
  • Our liberty and virtue are no more;
  • But Rome may still have hope whilst Cato lives.
cato.
  • Alas! who serves his country often serves
  • A most ungrateful mistress—even thy merit
  • Offends the senate; with a jealous eye
  • It views thy greatness.
cicero.
  • Cato’s approbation
  • Is recompense enough; thy honest praise
  • Edition: current; Page: [240]
  • Will more than balance their ingratitude;
  • On that and on posterity alone
  • I shall rely; let us perform our duty,
  • And leave the rest to heaven.
cato.
  • How shall we stem
  • The torrent of corruption? when I see,
  • Even in this sacred temple, raised to virtue,
  • Infamous treason rise with shameless front:
  • Can we suppose that Manlius, that proud rebel,
  • Would dare advance his standard, and blow up
  • The flames of civil war, if greater powers
  • Did not support him, if some secret foe
  • Abetted not their vile conspiracy?
  • The leaders of the senate may betray us;
  • From Sulla’s ashes may new tyrants rise:
  • My just suspicions light on Cæsar.
cicero.
  • Mine
  • On Catiline; perfidious, sordid, rash,
  • And bold; he loves rebellion, and delights
  • In novelty; more dangerous than Cæsar;
  • I know him well; even now I parted from him:
  • What passed between us but confirms me more
  • In my suspicions; on his face I read
  • Rage and resentment, the determined pride
  • Of his fierce spirit, that no longer deigned
  • To hide its purpose, but stood forth, and owned
  • Its enmity to Rome.—I must discover
  • His bold compeers, perhaps I may prevent
  • His future crimes, and save my falling country.
cato.
  • Catiline has friends, and much I fear the power
  • Of these united tyrants may prove fatal:
  • Edition: current; Page: [241]
  • Our forces are in Asia, and at Rome
  • We are corrupted; but one upright man
  • May save the state.
cicero.
  • If we unite, our country
  • Has naught to fear—in factions discord soon
  • Dissolves the tie: Cæsar perhaps may join them;
  • But, if I know him right, his noble soul
  • Will never stoop to serve a worthless tyrant;
  • He loves his country still, and hates a master;
  • Though soon the time will come when he shall strive
  • To be one; both are eager for applause,
  • And both ambitious: both are raised too high
  • To meet in friendship long; by their division
  • Rome may be saved; let us not tamely wait
  • To see our country’s ruin, or behold
  • In shameful chains the masters of mankind.

End of the First Act.

ACT II.

SCENE I.

catiline, cethegus.

cethegus.
  • At length the torch is lit to set on fire
  • Rome and the subject world; our army’s nigh,
  • And all is ready for the great event.
  • Knowest thou meantime, my friend, what passes here?
catiline.
  • I know the consul’s prudence, so he calls
  • His cowardice, which deeply ruminates
  • On future ills: like an unskilful pilot
  • Edition: current; Page: [242]
  • He sets up every sail for every wind,
  • But knows not or which way the tempest comes,
  • Or whither it may drive him—for the senate,
  • I fear it not; that many-headed monster,
  • So proud of conquest and nobility,
  • Looks with an evil eye on Cicero;
  • I know it hates him, so does Cæsar; Crassus
  • Would gladly yield him up a sacrifice
  • To our resentment; on their jealousy
  • Depend my hopes—he’s like a dying man,
  • With feeble arm he struggles for a while,
  • But soon shall sink beneath us and expire.
cethegus.
  • Envy I know attacks him, but his tongue
  • Can soften all; he leads the captive senate.
catiline.
  • I brave him everywhere; despise his clamors,
  • And smile at his resentment: let him rail
  • To his last hour, and triumph in the shouts
  • Of his admirers, I have other cares
  • That sit more heavy on me.
cethegus.
  • What should stop
  • Thy rapid progress in the paths of glory
  • And happiness? Canst thou have aught to fear?
catiline.
  • My numerous foes I heed not, ’tis my friends
  • I have most cause to dread; the jealousy
  • Of Lentulus, the aspiring soul of Cæsar,
  • And, above all, my wife.
Edition: current; Page: [243]
cethegus.
  • Shall Catiline
  • Be frightened at a woman’s tears?—for shame,
  • Leave her to indulge her visionary fears:
  • I thought thou lovest her as a master should,
  • And madest her but the servile instrument
  • Of thy ambition.
catiline.
  • ’Tis a dangerous one:
  • Rome and her child divide with me her love.
  • Curse on the name of Rome, that even beneath
  • The roof of Catiline those should dwell who love
  • Their country! But before the important hour
  • That must decide our fate, she shall be moved,
  • She and her son—be that thy care, Cethegus:
  • Our wives and children must not trouble us
  • In those distressful moments—but for Cæsar—
cethegus.
  • What’s to be done? if he refuse to join
  • Our cause, shall we proscribe him; shall the names
  • Of Cicero and of Cæsar be united?
catiline.
  • Let me consider—to cut Cæsar off—
  • That were a dreadful sacrifice; methinks
  • I cannot but admire him, and revere
  • In him the honor of the Roman name:
  • But where is Lentulus?
cethegus.
  • O fear not him;
  • His pride we know will prompt him to believe
  • That thou with him wilt share the sovereign power.
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catiline.
  • Let him believe it still! the credulous fool!
  • Thou seest, Cethegus, with what sublety
  • I’m forced to manage these imperious spirits;
  • Their rage, resentment, pride and jealousy:
  • Knowest thou he dares even to be Cæsar’s rival?
  • To keep my friends within the pale of prudence
  • Will cost me much more trouble than the ruin
  • Of Cicero and Rome—to guide a party
  • Is of all tasks the hardest.—
cethegus.
  • Lentulus
  • Is here, my lord.

SCENE II.

catiline, cethegus, lentulus-sura.

sura.
  • In spite of my remonstrance
  • You will rely on Cæsar, and confide
  • In him alone; Præneste’s in his power.
  • And I must yield to him; but know I scorn it,
  • The blood of Scipio was not made to yield.
catiline.
  • I’ve joined with Cæsar, but depend not on him;
  • He may support our cause, or he may hurt it;
  • I use his name, but ’tis for your advantage.
sura.
  • And what is there in Cæsar’s name superior
  • To yours or mine? why must we meanly court
  • His favor? but because he’s Pompey’s rival
  • Edition: current; Page: [245]
  • Rome makes a God of him.—I am thy friend;
  • Sura and Catiline may defy them all,
  • And without Cæsar make the world their own.
catiline.
  • We may—thy conduct and approved valor
  • Have ever been my best and surest hope;
  • But Cæsar is beloved, respected, feared;
  • The senate and the people all admire
  • And court him; statesman, general, magistrate;
  • In peace revered, and terrible in war;
  • A thousand ways he charms the multitude;
  • In short he will be necessary.—
sura.
  • Say
  • Destructive rather—if to-day he shines
  • Our equal, by to-morrow he will prove
  • Our rival, and ere long perhaps our master;
  • Trust me, I know him well, and therefore think
  • Our party has not a more dangerous foe:
  • Perhaps his haughty soul may yield to thee,
  • But play the tyrant o’er the rest; for me,
  • I cannot, will not, brook it—I’ve devoted
  • My honor and my fortunes to thy service;
  • But I renounce my plighted faith, renounce
  • Thee and thy cause, if Cæsar is preferred.
catiline.
  • And so thou shalt—I’d sacrifice my life
  • Rather than e’er permit a haughty rival
  • To soar above us—Cæsar is our tool,
  • Our instrument; to-day I flatter him,
  • To-morrow can bring down his pride, perhaps
  • Do more—thou knowest our mutual happiness
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  • And interest are my first and dearest care.
  • [To Cethegus.
  • Away, and let Aurelia be prepared:
  • Go; or her fond intruding love may ruin
  • Our deep laid schemes, and mar the great design:
  • Return some private way and meet me here,
  • I wait for Cæsar.
sura.
  • Nothing’s to be done.
  • I find, without him—but I’ll wait the event.
catiline.
  • Farewell: remember I rely on thee
  • More than on Cæsar.—
cethegus.
  • I shall execute
  • Your high command, and gather all our friends
  • Before the standard of great Catiline.

SCENE III.

catiline, cæsar.

catiline.
  • Hail, godlike Cæsar, thou whom from the days
  • Of Sulla I have ranked amongst my best
  • And dearest friends, whose fortunes I foretold:
  • Born as thou art to be the first of Romans,
  • How suits it with thy pride to be the slave
  • Of a plebeian, who forever thwarts
  • And braves thee to thy face? I know thou hatest him;
  • Thy piercing eye observes impatient Rome
  • Contending for her freedom, will not Cæsar
  • Edition: current; Page: [247]
  • Assist his country to shake off her chains?
  • The cause is noble, and the fate of millions
  • Depends on this important crisis; thou
  • Wilt join us—lookest thou not with jealous eye
  • On Pompey still? dost thou not still abhor
  • The surly Cato? canst thou serve the gods
  • With half thy wonted zeal when the proud consul
  • Presides at the altar? will thy noble spirit
  • Bear these imperious rulers; soft Lucullus,
  • Sunk in the arms of luxury and sloth;
  • The greedy Crassus, grasping his large heaps
  • Of ill-got wealth, enough to purchase Rome
  • And all her venal sons? on every side
  • Or faction or corruption reigns; the world
  • Calls out on Cæsar; wilt thou hear her voice?
  • Wilt thou redress and save thy falling country?
  • Will Cæsar listen to his friend?
cæsar.
  • He will;
  • And if the senate do thee wrong, step forth
  • To plead thy cause; I never will betray thee;
  • But ask no more.
catiline.
  • Are these the utmost bounds
  • Of Cæsar’s friendship, but to talk for him?
cæsar.
  • I’ve weighed the projects, and shall not oppose them;
  • I may approve, but would not execute.
catiline.
  • I understand you, you are on that side
  • Which fortune favors, and would stand aloof
  • Edition: current; Page: [248]
  • To mark the progress of our civil wars,
  • And raise your fortunes on the common ruin.
cæsar.
  • No—I have nobler views; my hate of Cato,
  • My jealousy of Pompey, the renown
  • Of Cicero, conspire to make me wish
  • I might surpass them all; fair glory calls,
  • The banks of Seine, the Tagus, and the Rhine;
  • I pant for honor, and for victory.
catiline.
  • If conquest is thy aim, begin with Rome;
  • To-morrow we may reign the masters of her.
cæsar.
  • The enterprise is great, perhaps too bold;
  • But, to be open with thee, though ’tis worthy
  • Of Catiline, it suits not Cæsar.
catiline.
  • How!
cæsar.
  • I do not choose to serve.
catiline.
  • To share with Cæsar
  • Were no dishonor to the most ambitious.
cæsar.
  • But power supreme is not to be divided:
  • I’ll not be dragged at Catiline’s chariot wheels
  • To grace his triumph: as a friend I love thee;
  • But know that friend shall never be—my master:
  • Even Pompey shall not—Sulla, whom thy valor
  • Hath nobly followed in the race of glory,
  • Whose courage I admire, whose lawless rage
  • Edition: current; Page: [249]
  • I ever shall abhor, enslaved proud Rome:
  • But he deserved the glorious prize, subdued
  • The Hellespont, and made Euphrates tremble:
  • Asia was conquered: Mithridates owned
  • His martial genius—but what noble deeds
  • Hast thou to boast? what kings hast thou subdued?
  • What seas has Catiline passed, what lands explored?
  • Thou hast the seeds of greatness in thy nature;
  • But to enslave thy country is above
  • Thy present powers, above the powers of Cæsar:
  • We have not strength, authority or name
  • For such an enterprise. Rome soon must fall:
  • But ere I will attempt to be her master,
  • I will extend her empire and her glory;
  • And if I forge my country’s chains, at least
  • Will cover them with laurels.
catiline.
  • Mine, perhaps,
  • Is, after all, the shortest path to glory:
  • How did your boasted Sulla rise to empire?
  • He had an army, so has Catiline;
  • Raised by myself alone, and not, like his,
  • The gift of fortune; he observed with care
  • The favorable hour, and well improved it:
  • I have done more; have made the times and seasons
  • Subservient to me. Sulla was a king.
  • Wouldst thou be one? wilt thou be Cicero’s slave,
  • Or rule with Catiline?
cæsar.
  • Neither. To be free,
  • For I no longer will dissemble with you,
  • I esteem Cicero; but love him not,
  • Nor fear him: though I love, I dread not thee.
  • Edition: current; Page: [250]
  • Divide the senate if thou canst, pull down
  • The proud oppressors; thou hast my consent;
  • But hope no more, nor dare to think that Cæsar
  • Will ever be thy slave: I’ll keep thy secret,
  • And be thy friend or foe, as thou deservest it.

SCENE IV.

catiline.
  • If he supports us not, even let him fall
  • The victim of his folly: Sulla knew
  • And would have cut him off, but Sulla dared not:
  • I know he is my secret enemy,
  • As such I shall beware of him.

SCENE V.

catiline, cethegus, lentulus-sura.

sura.
  • What says
  • The mighty Cæsar? is he friend or foe?
catiline.
  • His barren friendship only offers me
  • A feeble aid; but we can do without him:
  • Perhaps he may repent it; and meantime
  • We’ve better pillars to support the fabric.
  • Behold, the heroes come.
Edition: current; Page: [251]

SCENE VI.

catiline, the conspirators.

catiline.
  • Hail, bold Statilius,
  • Valiant Autronius, noble Piso, hail,
  • Vargontes, and the rest of my brave friends,
  • The first of men, the conquerors of kings,
  • The great avengers of a world oppressed,
  • This seat of empire soon shall be your own:
  • The vanquished nations, which your valor gained,
  • Were ravished from you by usurping tyrants;
  • For the proud senate still your blood hath flowed;
  • For them Tigranes, Mithridates fell;
  • For them alone; and all your poor reward
  • Was but to stand at distance, and adore
  • Your haughty masters; but at length the hour
  • Of vengeance is approaching: be prepared
  • For no inglorious enterprise: I know
  • Your souls would scorn a victory cheaply bought;
  • But I will bring you noble conquests, full
  • Of danger and of glory: seize, my friends,
  • The golden opportunity: already
  • I see your foes expiring at your feet.
  • Rush on your prey, burn, plunder, and destroy;
  • But, above all, let union guide your counsels:
  • Even now Præneste falls: the brave remains
  • Of Sulla’s scattered forces march towards us:
  • I shall command them, and Rome must be yours
  • Petreius vanquished, I shall clear my way
  • Even to the capitol: then you, my friends,
  • Shall rise to empire, to a throne disgraced
  • Edition: current; Page: [252]
  • By worthless Romans, and by you restored
  • To its true lustre: Curius and his band
  • Will open me the gates; but tell me, friend,
  • The gladiatorian cohorts, where are they?
  • Will those brave veterans join our cause?
lentulus-sura.
  • They will:
  • Myself shall lead them in the dead of night,
  • And arm them in this secret place.
catiline.
  • Mount Cælius—
  • Is that secured?
statilius.
  • I’ve bribed the sentinels,
  • And all is safe.
catiline.
  • You to mount Aventine
  • Repair, and soon as Mallius shall display
  • His colors, light your torches, spread destruction
  • On every side; let the proscribed perish.
  • Let Cicero—ye have sworn it—be my first
  • My darling victim: Cæsar too must die,
  • And Cato; these removed, the senate soon
  • Will tremble and obey: already fortune
  • Declares for us, and blinds them to their ruin:
  • Within their walls, and almost in their sight
  • We lay the snares of death, and mark them out
  • For sacrifice: remember not to take up arms
  • Before the appointed time: we must surprise
  • Ere we destroy: let Cicero and Rome
  • Perish together, and the lightning blast
  • Before the thunder’s threatening voice alarms them.
  • Call not this deed a foul conspiracy;
  • ’Tis a just war declared against the foes
  • Edition: current; Page: [253]
  • Of Rome and all mankind; reclaim your rights,
  • The empire of the world, which base usurpers
  • Had ravished from you.
  • [To Cethegus and Lentulus-Sura.
  • Haste, ye gallant leaders,
  • Haste to the senate; see your victims there:
  • Hear your proud consul roar; ’tis the last time
  • That he shall triumph there—now, worthy Romans,
  • Swear by this sword, that with the blood of tyrants
  • Shall soon be stained, to perish, or to conquer,
  • With Catiline.
martian.
  • By thee and by this sword
  • We swear with thee to perish or to conquer.
another conspirator.
  • Perish the senate! perish all who serve,
  • All who defend them! if there be amongst us
  • A traitor, let him die.
catiline.
  • Away, this night
  • Will finish all, and Rome shall be our own.

End of the Second Act.

ACT III.

SCENE I.

catiline, cethegus, martian, septimus.

catiline.
  • Are all things ready? do our troops advance?
martian.
  • Even so, my lord; the faithful Mallius comes
  • Prepared to circle these devoted walls;
  • Edition: current; Page: [254]
  • Our friends impatient brook not dull delay,
  • But urge each other to the bloody scene;
  • We wait but thy command; appoint the hour
  • When Rome must fall.
catiline.
  • Soon as I quit the senate
  • Begin the sacrifice: let this great day
  • Be sacred to destruction: but meantime
  • Take special care the consul’s busy friends
  • Do not observe our motions.
cethegus.
  • Were it not
  • Most prudent to destroy him in the senate?
  • He has alarmed the people, and foresees
  • Our every action.
catiline.
  • Knows he the revolt
  • Of Mallius? knows he Catiline’s deep designs?
  • Knows he an army is approaching for me?
  • Fear not, my friends, ours is no common cause,
  • ’Tis fit the means should be proportioned to it:
  • When vulgar mortals, grovelling and obscure,
  • Form ill-digested schemes, and idle plans
  • Of future greatness, if one slender wheel
  • Is broke, it overthrows the whole machine:
  • But souls like ours, a firm and chosen band,
  • Plans deeply laid, the conquerors of kings,
  • The sons of Mars, united to support
  • And raise each other, these must be superior
  • To Cicero’s art, or Cicero’s vigilance:
  • We’ve naught to fear.
Edition: current; Page: [255]
cethegus.
  • But is Præneste ours
  • In Cæsar’s name?
catiline.
  • Ay; that was my first stroke
  • Of policy: the unsuspecting senate
  • Will be deceived: I’ve whispered it abroad,
  • That Nonnius hath conspired against the state,
  • And half our credulous fools believe the tale.
  • Ere he can clear his innocence, my army
  • Will be in Rome, and all secured: away,
  • Remove Aurelia: let no little cares
  • Intrude to stop or hurt the great design.

SCENE II.

aurelia, catiline, cethegus, etc.

aurelia.
  • [A letter in her hand.
  • There, Catiline, read Aurelia’s fate and thine,
  • Thy crime and thy just sentence.
catiline.
  • What rash hand—
  • Ha! ’tis thy father’s.
aurelia.
  • Read it.
catiline.
  • [Reads the letter.
  • “Death too long
  • Hath spared me, and the child I loved too well
  • Must finish my sad days: at length I suffer
  • Edition: current; Page: [256]
  • For my own follies, and that hapless marriage
  • Which I consented to; I know the plots
  • Of thy vile husband: Cæsar has betrayed us,
  • And would have seized Præneste: thou partakest
  • The treason: but repent, or perish with them.”
  • But how could Nonnius e’er discover that
  • Which even the consul knows not?
cethegus.
  • This may prove
  • Our ruin.
catiline.
  • [To Cethegus.
  • It may turn to our advantage.
  • Aurelia, I must tell thee all: this day
  • The world is armed in Catiline’s defence:
  • Say, in the hour of danger wilt thou serve
  • A father or a husband?
aurelia.
  • To be silent,
  • And trouble thee no more, were the commands
  • Which Catiline laid on his neglected wife,
  • Spite of her fond entreaties, prayers, and tears:
  • What hast thou further to desire?
catiline.
  • Away:
  • This moment, send that letter to the consul;
  • I have my reasons; I would have him know,
  • That Cæsar is as much to be suspected
  • As I am: he’s accused, and Catiline not
  • So much as named: it is as I could wish.
  • Take with thee our loved infant, and return not
  • To bleeding Rome, till I am master there:
  • Then thou shalt reign with me: our marriage yet
  • Edition: current; Page: [257]
  • Is kept a secret: I’ll not have it known,
  • ’Till at the head of our victorious army
  • I shall proclaim it loud to Italy,
  • And to the world: then shall thy haughty father,
  • As our first subject, humbly bend before thee,
  • And sue to be forgiven: begone, Aurelia,
  • And leave me to my fate. I would not wish
  • Thou shouldst partake my dangers or my cares:
  • This night prepare to meet a conqueror.
aurelia.
  • O Catiline, meanest thou to destroy thy country?
  • Is this the day appointed for destruction?
catiline.
  • To-day I purpose to chastise my foes;
  • All is prepared.
aurelia.
  • Begin then with Aurelia;
  • For I had rather perish by thy hand,
  • Than live to share thy guilt.
catiline.
  • O let the tie
  • That binds us—
cethegus.
  • Drive not thus to desperation
  • A husband and a friend, who trusts his all
  • To thee; thou art entered in the paths of glory,
  • And to retreat were fatal.
aurelia.
  • Misery
  • And sure destruction were Aurelia’s fate:
  • Edition: current; Page: [258]
  • From that unhappy moment, when by thee
  • And thy vile counsels led, I gave my hand
  • To Catiline; despised, neglected, long
  • Have I beheld, with eyes of detestation,
  • Your horrid plots: spite of myself you made me
  • A vile accomplice; but you know I loved,
  • And basely have imposed upon my weakness:
  • I blush to think how grossly you abused
  • A woman’s fond credulity; but know
  • I’ll no longer be guilty of a crime
  • Which I abhor: no longer serve a tyrant:
  • No, I renounce my vows, my faith to thee;
  • These hands shall rise against thee, thou vile traitor:
  • Henceforth I am thy foe. Strike, Catiline, strike;
  • Destroy me; carry into burning Rome,
  • For thy first victim, an expiring wife
  • Slain by thy hand; destroy the hapless infant,
  • Sad pledge of our detested nuptials: then,
  • Barbarian as thou art, complete thy guilt,
  • And in the blood of millions glut thy vengeance.
catiline.
  • And is the gentle, kind Aurelia then
  • Amongst my foes? thus in the noblest war,
  • That e’er was waged for freedom and for empire,
  • When Pompey, Cæsar, Cato, are subdued,
  • My worst of enemies at last are found
  • In my own house; I am deserted there
  • For an unworthy father: threatened too.
aurelia.
  • I threaten guilt, and tremble for—a husband:
  • Even in my rage thou seest my tenderness;
  • Abuse it not, it is my only weakness:
  • But I would have thee fear—
Edition: current; Page: [259]
catiline.
  • That word, Aurelia,
  • Was never made for Catiline—but hear me:
  • I love thee; yet presume not on thy power,
  • Nor think I e’er will sacrifice my friends,
  • My noble cause, my interest, and my fame,
  • Glory and empire: no, it is enough
  • If I forgive and pity thee, but know—
aurelia.
  • The crown thy pride looks up to I despise:
  • I should behold it as the shameful mark
  • Of infamy: thou showest thy love for me
  • By pity and forgiveness; and I mine,
  • By holding back, if possible, thy hand
  • From guilt and error—therefore will I go—

SCENE III.

catiline, cethegus, lentulus-sura, aurelia, etc.

lentulus-sura.
  • We are discovered, lost, undone; our friends
  • Betrayed, our plots unravelled all; Præneste
  • Not yielded to us; Nonnius is in Rome;
  • One of our spies is seized, and has confessed;
  • Nonnius in open senate will accuse
  • His son-in-law; he’s gone to Cicero,
  • Who knows too much already.
aurelia.
  • Now behold
  • The fruits of guilt, and all thy great designs,
  • Thy boasted fortunes, empire, and the throne,
  • Which I despised: are thy eyes opened yet?
Edition: current; Page: [260]
catiline.
  • [After a long pause.
  • This is a blow I thought not of; but say,
  • Wilt thou betray me?
aurelia.
  • ’Tis what thou deservest:
  • My country claims, and heaven demands it of me;
  • But I’ll do more, I’ll save both Rome and thee;
  • And though I have not all thy rage, may boast
  • Some of thy courage; love will make me brave:
  • Long since I saw thy danger, Catiline:
  • ’Tis come, and now I will partake it with thee;
  • I’ll see my father, and obtain thy life,
  • Or lose my own; I know he is forgiving,
  • Gentle, and mild: I know he loves Aurelia,
  • And will not urge too far a foe like thee,
  • Desperate and brave; I’ll talk to Cicero
  • Who fears, and to the senate who adores thee;
  • They will be glad to think thee innocent;
  • Those whom we fear we readily forgive:
  • But let sincerest penitence atone
  • For thy past crimes: convicted guilt by that,
  • And that alone, can hope for pardon; though
  • I know it hurts thy pride, it must be done:
  • At least I hope I shall procure thee time,
  • Or to quit Rome, or to defend thyself:
  • I’ll not reproach thee; even when most guilty
  • I loved, and in misfortune will not leave thee;
  • But rather die to save thy life and glory.
  • Farewell; let Catiline learn henceforth to trust me;
  • I have deserved it.
catiline.
  • Sad alternative;
  • It is most dreadful—but I yield to thee:
  • Edition: current; Page: [261]
  • Remember that a husband’s plea is stronger,
  • Much stronger than a father’s: if I err,
  • The crime is thine.
aurelia.
  • I’ll take it all upon me;
  • Nay, even thy hatred, if it must be so;
  • I act for thee, and I’m satisfied.
  • Daughter, and wife, and Roman, every duty
  • Shall be performed; remember thine, and keep
  • Thy heart as pure and spotless as Aurelia’s.

SCENE IV.

catiline, cethegus, lentulus-sura, freedmen.

lentulus-sura.
  • Is this the bold and fearless Catiline,
  • Or Nonnius’ timid son; a woman’s slave;
  • Appalled by phantoms? how thy great soul shrunk
  • Soon as Aurelia spoke!
cethegus.
  • It cannot be;
  • Catiline will never change; his noble soul
  • By opposition grows but more resolved:
  • Præneste lost, the senate our accusers,
  • We may be conquerors still, and make them tremble
  • Whilst they condemn us; we have noble friends,
  • And will deserve them.
lentulus-sura.
  • Ere the signal’s given
  • We may be seized; thou knowest at dead of night,
  • Just as the senate part, we had agreed
  • Edition: current; Page: [262]
  • To execute our purpose: what, my friends,
  • Must be resolved on?
cethegus.
  • [To Catiline.
  • Catiline, thou art silent,
  • And tremblest too.
catiline.
  • I tremble at the blow
  • Which I shall strike; my fate demands it of me.
lentulus-sura.
  • I’ve no dependence on Aurelia: all
  • That we can hope for is to sell our lives
  • As dearly as we can.
catiline.
  • I count the moments,
  • And weigh each circumstance; Aurelia’s tears
  • And flattery will a while suspend our fate;
  • Cicero on other business is detained,
  • And all is safe; let me have arms and men,
  • No matter who they are, or slaves or free,
  • Assassins, robbers, if they will but fight,
  • We’ll have them: thou brave Septimus, and thou
  • My dearest Martian, whose approved zeal
  • I shall depend on, must observe Aurelia;
  • And Nonnius; when they’re parted, talk to him
  • About his daughter; tell him of her danger,
  • Draw him by artful means to the dark path
  • That leads to the Tiber, seize the lucky moment,
  • And hurl him—ha! who’s this?
Edition: current; Page: [263]

SCENE V.

cicero, catiline, cethegus, etc.

cicero.
  • Audacious traitor,
  • Where art thou going? speak, Cethegus, who
  • Assembled you?
catiline.
  • We’ll tell thee in the senate.
cethegus.
  • There we shall see if thou art authorized
  • Thus to pursue us.
lentulus-sura.
  • Or what right
  • The son of Tullius has to question us.
cicero.
  • At least I have a right to ask of these,
  • Who brought them here: these are not like yourselves,
  • Of senatorial rank; away with them.
  • To prison.
catiline.
  • Darest thou thus on mere suspicion
  • Confine a Roman; where’s our liberty?
cicero.
  • They are of thy council, that’s sufficient cause;
  • Tremble, thyself; lictors, obey.
  • [The lictors carry off Septimus and Martian.
Edition: current; Page: [264]
catiline.
  • ’Tis well:
  • Go on, proud consul, and abuse thy power,
  • The time will come when thou shalt answer for it.
cicero.
  • Instant I will examine them, hereafter
  • Thus may I treat their masters; Nonnius knows
  • All thy designs, Præneste’s mine, and Rome
  • Prepared for her defence; we soon shall see
  • Which most prevails, or Catiline’s artifice
  • Or Cicero’s vigilance: I do not preach
  • Repentance and forgiveness to thee; no,
  • I talk of punishment, thou mayest expect it:
  • Come to the senate; follow if thou darest.

SCENE VI.

catiline, cethegus, lentulus-sura.

cethegus.
  • Must we at last then bend to Cicero,
  • And own his hated power?
catiline.
  • To the last hour
  • I will defy him: still his curious soul
  • Pries into all, but can discover nothing:
  • Our friends will only lead him more astray,
  • By holding out false lights that will misguide
  • His wandering footsteps: in that fatal scroll
  • Cæsar’s accused; the senate is divided,
  • And Manlius with his army’s at the gate:
  • You think that all is lost, but follow me.
  • And mark the event; we shall be conquerors still.
Edition: current; Page: [265]
lentulus-sura.
  • Nonnius, I fear, will make it all too plain.
catiline.
  • But he and Cicero shall never meet;
  • Depend on that; away, address the senate
  • With confidence, and leave the rest to me:
  • But whither am I going?
cethegus.
  • Ha!
catiline.
  • Aurelia!
  • O gods! what shall I do with that proud heart?
  • Remove her from me: if I see my wife,
  • Bold as I am, I shall relapse: away.

End of the Third Act.

ACT IV.

SCENE I.

The Scene represents the place prepared for the reception of the Senate, with part of the gallery leading from Aurelia’s palace to the temple of Tellus; a double row of benches in a circular form, with a raised seat for Cicero in the middle of it.

cethegus, lentulus-sura.

lentulus-sura.
  • These reverend fathers are exceeding slow,
  • I thought ere this they would have met; perhaps
  • Uncertain yet, and trembling for their fate,
  • They know not how to act.
Edition: current; Page: [266]
cethegus.
  • The oracle
  • Of Rome, (for so he deems himself,) engaged
  • In a continued round of toil, is busied
  • In questioning his prisoner Septimus,
  • Who will perplex him more; ’tis that retards
  • Their meeting.
lentulus-sura.
  • Would to heaven that we already
  • Had taken up arms! I own I dread the senate.
  • That reverence and attachment to the state,
  • That sacred name of country, which awakes
  • The sense of honor in each patriot breast;
  • I like it not.
cethegus.
  • ’Tis nothing but a name,
  • A word without a meaning; in the days
  • Of our forefathers men respected it.
  • Save a few stubborn stoics, none retain
  • The memory of it; Cicero has raised
  • Suspicions only; Cato’s credit’s lost;
  • Cæsar is for us, what have we to fear?
  • Defend yourselves, and Rome will be your own.
lentulus-sura.
  • But what if Catiline, by an artful wife
  • Seduced, at last should leave us; we have all
  • Our weaknesses, and well thou knowest Aurelia
  • Can lead him as she lists; he loves, esteems,
  • And may be ruled by her.
cethegus.
  • His love will yield
  • To his ambition.
Edition: current; Page: [267]
lentulus-sura.
  • Thou beheldest him tremble.
  • In short, my friend, when tender ties like these—
cethegus.
  • [Taking him aside.
  • Cato approaches, let us listen to him.
  • [Lentulus-Sura and Cethegus sit down at one corner of the Senate-house.

SCENE II.

cato enters the Senate with lucullus, crassus, favonius, clodius, murena, cæsar, catullus, marcellus, etc.

cato.
  • [Observing the two conspirators.
  • Lucullus, mark those dangerous men; behold them
  • In secret conference; see, the blush of guilt
  • Glows on their cheeks at sight of me; already
  • Treason with bold and shameless front stalks forth
  • Amongst us, and the senate still dissemble
  • Their knowledge of it; Sulla’s demon sure
  • Hath breathed its baneful influence o’er the souls
  • Of our blind rulers.
cethegus.
  • Cato, thy rash censure
  • May cost thee dear.
cato.
  • [Sits down, the other senators take their places.
  • The gods of Rome sometimes
  • Permit a traitor’s crimes to pass unpunished;
  • Edition: current; Page: [268]
  • They crushed our ancestors beneath the yoke
  • Of cruel tyrants; shall imperial Rome,
  • The mistress of the world, again submit
  • To slavery? no: the guilt she spared in Sulla,
  • In Catiline and Cethegus she may punish.
cæsar.
  • Cato, what meanest thou? thy outrageous virtue
  • Can serve no purpose but to make thee foes.
cato.
  • [To Cæsar.
  • Cæsar is still the factious leader’s friend,
  • The patron of corruption, and preserves
  • A soul unmoved whate’er his country suffers.
cæsar.
  • When danger calls, my country will not say
  • I am too calm, therefore complain not, Cato.
cato.
  • I must complain, must weep the fate of Rome,
  • Deserted and betrayed: now where is Pompey?
  • Would he were here to save us!
cæsar.
  • Why not call
  • On Cæsar?
cato.
  • Pompey loves his country.
cæsar.
  • That
  • Would I dispute with him.
Edition: current; Page: [269]

SCENE III.

cicero.
  • [Entering with precipitation, the senators rise.
  • Why waste ye thus in idle altercation,
  • The precious time when Rome is on the brink
  • Of ruin, whilst on you she calls for succor,
  • When the dread signal is already given?
  • Already is this land of freedom stained
  • With senatorial blood.
lucullus.
  • O heavens!
cato.
  • What sayest thou?
cicero.
  • The equestrian cohort, formed by my command,
  • Were posted where they best might quell the foe;
  • Nonnius, my friend, that generous old man,
  • Who, amidst the crimes of this degenerate age,
  • Still uncorrupted, from Præneste came,
  • To guide us through this labyrinth of treason,
  • And lead our wandering steps to peace and safety,
  • When lo! two bloody ruffians rushed upon him,
  • And plunged their daggers in his faithful heart:
  • He fell: confusion followed, and wild uproar
  • Amongst the people: we pursued the traitors,
  • Spite of the multitude that thronged around them,
  • And night’s dark shade to favor their escape:
  • One I have seized, and bound in chains; already
  • He has confessed that Catiline set him on.
Edition: current; Page: [270]

SCENE IV.

catiline.
  • [Standing up between Cato and Cæsar, Cethegus next to Cæsar, the Senate seated.
  • Yes, reverend fathers, know, the deed was mine;
  • I slew your foes; ’twas Catiline who revenged
  • His injured country, and destroyed a traitor.
cicero.
  • Barbarian, thou?
cato.
  • And darest thou boast of it?
cæsar.
  • Remember, fathers, we’ve no right to punish
  • Before we hear him.
cethegus.
  • Speak, defend thyself,
  • And triumph o’er the malice of thy foes.
cicero.
  • Romans, where are we?
catiline.
  • Amidst evil days
  • And evil men, the horrors of foul discord
  • And civil war; amidst determined foes,
  • Whom I alone must conquer; Sulla’s spirit
  • Inspires once more the haughty sons of Rome:
  • With grief I see expiring liberty,
  • With grief behold this reverend senate torn
  • Edition: current; Page: [271]
  • By discord, horrors spread on every side,
  • And Cicero pouring in the senate’s ear
  • Unjust suspicions: Cicero talks for Rome,
  • But I avenge her: I have shown her cause
  • Is dearer far to me than e’er it was
  • To your proud consul. Nonnius was the soul,
  • The leader of this foul conspiracy:
  • It was a dangerous crisis; I stepped forth
  • And saved you all: thus by a soldier fell
  • The daring Spurius; thus was Gracchus slain
  • By the brave Scipio: who shall punish me
  • For acting like a Roman? which of you
  • Will dare accuse me?
cicero.
  • I, who know thy crime;
  • I, who can prove it—bring those freedmen here,
  • Let them be heard. Fathers, behold the man
  • Who has destroyed a senator of Rome:
  • Will ye permit him thus to speak, to boast
  • Of his foul deed, and call his crime a virtue?
catiline.
  • And will ye, Romans, let this vile accuser
  • Thus persecute your fellow-citizens,
  • Your best, your noblest friends? but know from me
  • What Cicero could not tell you, and improve
  • The important secret to your best advantage:
  • In his own palace, know, this impious man,
  • This vile betrayer, Nonnius, had concealed
  • Arms, torches, all the instruments of death
  • Designed for our destruction: if Rome lives,
  • She lives by me, and to this arm you owe
  • Your safety: send and seize them, and then say
  • What’s due to Catiline from his thankless country.
Edition: current; Page: [272]
cicero.
  • [To the lictors.
  • Go you to the palace, bring with you the daughter
  • Of Nonnius—ha! thou tremblest.
catiline.
  • I? ’tis false:
  • Know, I despise this mean, this last resource
  • Of disappointed malice—fathers, say,
  • Have I not cleared myself? are you convinced!
cicero.
  • I am, that thou art guilty: can ye think
  • That good old man was ever capable
  • Of such detested fraud? it was thy art,
  • Thy cunning, miscreant, to conceal from me
  • Thy treachery; therefore didst thou choose the palace
  • Of Nonnius to secrete thy instruments
  • Of vengeance; there thou wouldst have hid thy guilt:
  • Perhaps thou hast seduced his wretched daughter:
  • Alas! his family is not the first
  • Where thou hast carried sorrows, crimes, and death;
  • And now thou wouldst destroy thy country too;
  • Yet boldly darest, instead of punishment,
  • To call for approbation and reward.
  • O thou abandoned traitor, murderer,
  • Reviler, hypocrite; such titles suit
  • Thy boasted services. O you, who once
  • Stood forth the happy patrons of mankind,
  • The sovereign judges of the world, at length
  • Will you submit, to let a tyrant hold
  • Dominion o’er you, will you shut your eyes
  • And rush into the precipice? awake,
  • Edition: current; Page: [273]
  • Revenge yourselves, or you partake his guilt:
  • This day or Rome or Catiline must perish:
  • Lose not a moment therefore, but determine:
cæsar.
  • Judgments too quickly made are oft unjust:
  • This is the cause of Rome, and therefore merits
  • Our strict attention: when our equals lag
  • Beneath the stroke of censure, we should act
  • With caution, and in them respect ourselves:
  • Too much severity suits none but tyrants.
cato.
  • Too much indulgence here suits none but traitors.
  • What! balance ’twixt a murderer and Rome!
  • Is it not Cicero speaks, and shall we doubt?
cæsar.
  • These are suspicions only; give us proof:
  • The arms once found, and Nonnius’ guilt confirmed,
  • Catiline deserves our praise.
  • [Turning to Catiline.
  • Thou knowest I’ll keep
  • My word with thee in all things.
cicero.
  • O my country!
  • O Rome! O gods! thus shall a hero plead
  • A traitor’s cause; art thou the senate’s friend,
  • And canst be Catiline’s? henceforth Rome has naught
  • To fear but from her own ungrateful sons.
clodius.
  • Rome is in safety; Cæsar loves his country,
  • And we should think with him.
Edition: current; Page: [274]
cicero.
  • It well becomes
  • A man like Clodius to unite with those
  • Who plan destruction, and delight in ruin:
  • But whereso’er I turn my eyes, they meet
  • With bold conspirators, or citizens
  • Cold and inactive in the cause of Rome:
  • Catiline, without or fear or danger, drives
  • The storm upon us; he proscribes the senate;
  • Already reaps in thought the bloody harvest;
  • Marks out his victims, threatens, and commands;
  • And when I point out the dread consequence,
  • Then Cæsar talks of senatorial rights,
  • And Clodius joins him: Cicero must be dumb:
  • Catiline has murdered Nonnius; he who takes
  • Another’s life should lose his own; no rights,
  • No laws should plead for him: the first great care
  • Is to defend our country; but, alas!
  • That country is no more.

SCENE V.

the senate, aurelia.

aurelia.
  • Ye great avengers
  • Of innocence oppressed, my only hope,
  • And thou, O consul, virtue’s kind protector,
  • To thee my murdered father calls for vengeance:
  • O let me wash thy feet with tears—assist,
  • [She falls at Cicero’s feet; he raises her up.
  • Avenge me: tell me, if thou canst, who slew
  • My father.
Edition: current; Page: [275]
cicero.
  • There he stands.
  • [Pointing to Catiline.
aurelia.
  • O gods!
cicero.
  • ’Twas he
  • Who did the deed, and boasts of it.
aurelia.
  • Good heaven!
  • Can it be Catiline? did I hear aright?
  • O bloody monster, didst thou murder him?
  • [The Lictors support her.
catiline.
  • [Turning to Cethegus, and fainting in his arms.
  • This is a dreadful sight—support me—this
  • Is punishment enough.
cethegus.
  • Why droops my friend?
  • Aurelia calls for vengeance: but if Catiline
  • Has served his country, what has he to fear?
catiline.
  • [Turning to Aurelia.
  • Aurelia, ’tis too true—my cruel duty—
  • My country—think me not so base; Aurelia
  • Thou knowest my love, my tenderness—but ties
  • Of a more sacred nature, ties—
Edition: current; Page: [276]

SCENE VI.

the senate, aurelia, chief of the lictors.

chief of the lictors.
  • My lord,
  • We’ve seized these arms.
cicero.
  • At Nonnius’s?
chief lictor.
  • His house
  • Was the receptacle of all: our prisoners
  • Accuse him as the chief conspirator.
aurelia.
  • Malice and calumny! the lying slaves
  • First take his life, and then destroy his fame:
  • The wretch whose murderous hand—
cicero.
  • Go on—
aurelia.
  • Just gods.
  • For what have ye reserved me?
cicero.
  • Speak: let truth
  • In open day appear: but at the sight
  • Of him you tremble; your dejected eyes,
  • And sudden silence, show how much you dread
  • The tyrant.
Edition: current; Page: [277]
aurelia.
  • I have been to blame; Aurelia
  • Alone is guilty.
catiline.
  • No; thou art not.
aurelia.
  • Hence,
  • Detested monster, I abhor thy pity,
  • Disclaim all converse, all relation with thee:
  • Alas! too late, I see my guilt; too late
  • Confess my crimes; yes, reverend fathers; yes,
  • Aurelia knew the traitor, and concealed him:
  • I asked for aid, but merit punishment;
  • My weakness may be fatal; Rome’s in danger;
  • The world this day may be subverted: thou,
  • Thou traitor, ledst me to the dark abyss
  • Of infamy; thou madest my tenderness
  • Subservient to thy wicked purposes;
  • Curse on the guilty hour that gave my heart
  • To Catiline; to thee I have been faithful,
  • But false to heaven, and to my country; false
  • To my unhappy father: I betrayed,
  • And I destroyed him.
  • [Whilst Aurelia is speaking, Cicero seems deeply affected.
  • Ye avenging gods,
  • Ye sacred walls, and thou much injured spirit
  • Of my dear father, Romans, senators,
  • Behold my husband, your inveterate foe.
  • [Turning to Catiline.
  • Now, miscreant, mark, and imitate Aurelia.
  • [Stabs herself.
Edition: current; Page: [278]
catiline.
  • O wretched Catiline!
cato.
  • O dreadful day!
cicero.
  • [Rising.
  • ’Tis worthy of this guilty age.
aurelia.
  • O consul!
  • There was a letter sent you—murder threatens
  • On every side—take heed—alas!—I die.
  • [Aurelia is carried off.
cicero.
  • Let her have needful succor: Aufidus,
  • Search for that paper—still are ye in doubt;
  • Still will ye suffer this vile murderer
  • To lord it o’er the senate, shall the deaths
  • Of Nonnius and Aurelia pass unpunished?
catiline.
  • The guilt was thine: thy rancor and fell hatred
  • Of Catiline urged him to the deed; ambition
  • Inspired us both; thy happier fortune soared
  • Above me, thou hast been the cause of all:
  • I hate thee, Cicero, hate Rome itself
  • For loving thee: long have I sought thy ruin,
  • And I will seek it still: the wrongs I suffer
  • Shall be revenged on thee; thy blood shall pay
  • For mine; inconstant Rome, that now adores thee,
  • Shall one day see with joy the mangled limbs
  • Of her proud consul scattered o’er the senate:
  • Remember Catiline has foretold thy fate;
  • I hasten to accomplish it: farewell.
Edition: current; Page: [279]
cicero.
  • Guards, seize the traitor.
cethegus.
  • Let them if they dare.
lentulus-sura.
  • The senate is divided: we defy thee.
catiline.
  • The war then is declared: friends, follow me,
  • We must to battle: the uncertain senate
  • Will think on’t, and determine at their leisure.
  • [He goes out with some senators of his party.
cicero.
  • Now, ye illustrious conquerors of the world,
  • Which will ye choose, or slavery or empire:
  • Where is the freedom, where the majesty
  • Of ancient Rome? where is her lustre now?
  • ’Tis faded all: awake, my slumbering country;
  • Lucullus, Cæsar, and Murena, listen;
  • O listen to the voice of Rome; she calls
  • Aloud for help, demands some gallant leader
  • To fight for her; equality of rank
  • Must be reserved for happier times, the Gauls
  • Are here, Camillus must be found, we want
  • A chief, a warrior, a dictator; now
  • Name the most worthy, and I’ll follow him.

SCENE VII.

the senate, chief lictor.

chief lictor.
  • My lord, I found this letter to Aurelia
  • From Nonnius: all our cares for her were vain.
Edition: current; Page: [280]
cicero.
  • [Reading the letter.
  • More dangers threatening! “Cæsar, who betrays us,
  • Would seize Præneste,” ha!
  • [Turning to Cæsar.
  • Art thou too, Cæsar,
  • A vile accomplice? this completes our woes;
  • And wilt thou bend beneath a tyrant?—read it.
cæsar.
  • I have: I am a Roman, ruin comes
  • Upon us, danger is on every side;
  • ’Tis well: I must be gone: you have my answer.
cato.
  • It was a doubtful one: most certainly
  • He is their friend.
cicero.
  • Away: let us defend
  • The state against them all: O Senators!
  • If Nonnius’ death, if poor Aurelia’s pangs,
  • If bleeding Rome, if a subverted world
  • Have power to stir up your resentment, rise,
  • Fly to the capitol, defend your gods,
  • Defend your country, punish Catiline.
  • I’ll not reproach you; though ’twas most unkind,
  • To spurn at Cicero, and embrace a villain.
  • But to avoid a tyrant, name your chief:
  • You, who are friends to virtue, separate
  • From traitors.
  • [The Senators separate themselves from Cethegus and Lentulus-Sura.
  • Now let us unite, my friends,
  • Never let quarrels, jealousies, and strife,
  • Edition: current; Page: [281]
  • Divide us; ’twas by them that Sulla triumphed.
  • For me, wherever danger calls, I go
  • Intrepid and inflexible: O gods!
  • Strengthen this arm, and animate this voice:
  • O grant me still to save ungrateful Rome!

End of the Fourth Act.

ACT V.

SCENE I.

cato, with part of the senate in arms.

clodius.
  • [To Cato.
  • What! whilst the senate armed for its own safety
  • From busy faction’s power can scarce preserve
  • These sacred walls; thus shall a proud plebeian
  • Insult us? shall a people, born to freedom,
  • Be treated like dependent slaves? by him,
  • Shall Rome’s best friends, the conquerors of the world,
  • Be put in chains? because he is a consul,
  • Shall he condemn his masters? Catiline’s self
  • Were less despotic, and less dangerous:
  • With you I feel my country’s wretchedness,
  • And weep her fate; but cannot, will not, see
  • The senate thus disgraced.
cato.
  • Disgrace attends
  • On those alone who merit it—but know,
  • The blood of nobles, your patrician friends,
  • Debased by guilt, should rank below the meanest;
  • Those who betrayed us are condemned to death:
  • Edition: current; Page: [282]
  • Cicero condemned them; he who saved your country,
  • The glorious consul, whom ye dare accuse,
  • Because he loved you but too well: yet fear
  • And tremble all, ungrateful as ye are
  • To join with traitors, for an equal fate
  • Shall soon o’erwhelm you; Catiline’s at our gates.
  • What Cæsar hath determined yet we know not;
  • Whether he means to save, or to destroy
  • His country: Cicero bravely acts alone,
  • And hazards all for Rome, whilst you despise
  • Your best of friends, and treat him as a foe.
clodius.
  • Cato has more severity than courage,
  • And ever rigorous, hates not guilt so much
  • As he loves punishment: reproach us not,
  • Nor act the censor when we want a friend.
  • Whilst the destructive flames of war surround,
  • ’Tis not a consul’s edict can defend us.
  • What can your lictor and his fasces do,
  • Against a band of fierce conspirators?
  • You talk of dangers, and of Cæsar’s power:
  • Who does not know that Cæsar is the friend
  • Of Catiline? you have pointed out the ills
  • That threaten Rome; it were a nobler task
  • To show us how we may remove them.
cato.
  • Yes;
  • And so I will: I would advise the senate
  • To be aware of Cæsar, and of—thee;
  • Nay, more—but see our father comes.
Edition: current; Page: [283]

SCENE II.

cicero, cato, part of the senate.

cato.
  • [To Cicero.
  • Behold
  • Great Cicero, the sons of thankless Rome:
  • Approach and save us; envy’s self shall soon
  • Fall at thy feet, in humble admiration
  • Of such transcendent virtue.
cicero.
  • Friends and Romans,
  • The love of glory is my ruling passion,
  • Fame is the fair reward of human toil,
  • And I would wish to merit it from you:
  • I have done little yet, perhaps hereafter
  • I may do more to serve my country: Rome
  • Was full of open and of secret foes;
  • Patricians, and plebeians, citizens
  • And soldiers, all in wild confusion, seemed
  • To thirst for blood: I saw the gathering storm
  • That threatened universal ruin; saw
  • The bold conspirators tumultuous rise,
  • And bear down all before them: at their head
  • Were Sura and Cethegus; them I seized,
  • And gave to justice; but the Hydra faction
  • Hath many heads which still successive rise,
  • And mock my labors: Catiline boldly pushed
  • To the Quirinal gate; by gallant deeds,
  • Almost incredible, he kept the field,
  • And forced a passage to his army; Rome
  • Beheld him with amazement; Antony
  • Edition: current; Page: [284]
  • In vain opposing Sulla’s hardy veterans,
  • Was baffled and subdued; Petreius strove
  • To succor him, but with unequal force
  • And fruitless valor: thus on every side,
  • Surrounded by calamities, great Rome,
  • The mistress of the world, is on the brink
  • Of ruin; Cicero trembles for her fate.
crassus.
  • What part hath Cæsar taken?
cicero.
  • He hath behaved
  • As Cæsar must, with most undaunted courage,
  • Yet not as Rome could wish a zealous friend
  • Would act in her defence. I saw him quell
  • The rebel foe; yet after that, stir up
  • Seditious spirits, and by every art
  • Of smooth insinuation, work himself
  • Into the people’s hearts. Amidst this scene
  • Of blood, methought a secret joy o’erspread
  • His glowing cheek, whilst his all-soothing voice
  • Courted applause, inviting Rome to be
  • His slave hereafter.
cato.
  • I was ever fearful
  • Of Cæsar’s power; he is not to be trusted.

SCENE III.

the senate, cæsar.

cæsar.
  • Well: am I still suspected in the senate?
  • Edition: current; Page: [285]
  • Is Cato’s stubborn virtue still my foe?
  • Of what does he accuse me?
cato.
  • As a friend
  • To Catiline, the sworn enemy of Rome;
  • You have protected him, and leagued with those
  • It had become you better to chastise.
cæsar.
  • I would not stain my laurels with the blood
  • Of such vile miscreants: Cæsar fights with none
  • But warriors.
cato.
  • What are these conspirators?
cæsar.
  • A dastard crowd, contemptible and vile:
  • They fled like slaves before me; but the soldiers
  • Of Sulla are a formidable band,
  • And boast an able chief; from them indeed
  • Rome hath some cause to fear; Petreius sinks
  • Beneath his wounds, and Catiline marches onward;
  • Our soldiers are alarmed: what says our consul?
  • And what has he resolved?
cicero.
  • I’ll tell thee, Cæsar:
  • Grant, heaven, we may succeed!—thou hast deserved
  • Suspicion, but I’ll give thee the fair means
  • To clear thy honor, and avenge thy country.
  • I know thee well, thy virtues and thy frailty;
  • Know what thou canst, and what thou darest not do;
  • Know Cæsar would command, but not betray,
  • A noble friend, and a most dangerous foe:
  • Edition: current; Page: [286]
  • Whilst I condemn I cannot but esteem thee.
  • Away: remember that the eyes of Rome,
  • And of the world, are on thee: go, support
  • Petreius, save the empire, and deserve
  • The love of Cato: we have men, but want
  • A general to conduct them; Cæsar best
  • Can lead them, and to him alone we trust
  • The safety and the glory of mankind.
cæsar.
  • Cicero on Cæsar safely may depend;
  • Farewell: I go to conquer or to die.
  • [Exit.
cato.
  • You’ve touched him in the tenderest part; ambition
  • Will urge him on.
cicero.
  • Great souls must ever thus
  • Be treated: I have bound him to the state
  • By this firm confidence; I know his valor
  • Will now support us: the ambitious still
  • Should be distinguished from the traitor; I
  • Shall make him virtuous if he is not so
  • Already. Courage, as directed, forms
  • The mighty hero, or the mighty villain;
  • And he who is renowned for guilt alone,
  • Had glory fired his breast, to him had been
  • The incense poured, to him the temple raised
  • For his exalted merit: Catiline’s self,
  • By me conducted, had like Scipio shone:
  • Though many a Sulla is in Cæsar hid,
  • Yet doubt I not but Rome shall find in him
  • Her best support.
  • [Turning to the chief of the Lictors, who enters armed.
  • Edition: current; Page: [287]
  • Well: these conspirators,
  • What have they done?
chief lictor.
  • My lord, they met the fate
  • They merited, but other foes rise up,
  • Sprung from their blood; like Ætna’s flames, that burst
  • From the parched entrails of the burning mount:
  • Another Hannibal, but far more dreadful,
  • Because amongst the guilty sons of Rome
  • He finds his traitorous friends, is at our gates.
  • A hundred voices roar for Catiline,
  • Condemn your laws, and curse your tardy senate;
  • Demand their ancient rights, and cry aloud
  • For vengeance on the consul.
clodius.
  • Well indeed
  • They may, while Cicero tramples on the laws,
  • And spurns his equals thus; perhaps the senate—
cicero.
  • Clodius, no more; restrain thy envious tongue,
  • Nor rashly blame the guiltless; my short power
  • Will soon be wrested from me; whilst it lasts
  • It shall not be controlled; you will have time
  • Enough to vex and persecute hereafter;
  • But whilst the state’s in danger, Cicero claims
  • The tribute of respect: I know too well
  • This fickle world to hope for constancy
  • And candor from it; foul ingratitude
  • Is all that I expect; on false surmises
  • Great Scipio was accused; he thanked the gods,
  • And quitted Rome: I too will pay my vows
  • To gracious heaven, but will not leave you; no;
  • Edition: current; Page: [288]
  • My days are all devoted to my country,
  • And all shall be expended in her service.
cato.
  • Suppose I were to show myself in Rome,
  • Perhaps my presence might disperse the crowd,
  • And be a check on Cæsar, whom I own
  • I much suspect: if fortune frowns upon us—
cicero.
  • We cannot do without you in the senate;
  • I’ve given my orders; Cæsar’s in the field;
  • Thy great example may be useful here,
  • And Rome’s expiring glory be restored
  • By Cato’s virtue—but behold he comes,
  • And crowned with victory.
  • [Cæsar enters; Cicero embraces him.
  • Most noble Cæsar,
  • Hast thou preserved the state?—
cæsar.
  • I hope so: now
  • The consul will believe me—brave Petreius
  • Has gained immortal glory: here we fought,
  • Beneath this sacred rampart, in the sight
  • Of our domestic gods that fired each soul
  • With nobler rage: Metellus, and Murena,
  • With the brave Scipios showed in Rome’s defence
  • The same exalted courage that subdued
  • Asia and Carthage; they have merited
  • Most nobly of their country: touching Cæsar
  • Let others speak: the desperate remains
  • Of Sulla’s army seemed to brave their fate,
  • And in the agonies of death breathed forth
  • Their curses on us: midst the general slaughter,
  • The fiery Catiline long undaunted stood,
  • Edition: current; Page: [289]
  • Fought through a host of circling foes, till spent
  • With ceaseless toil, and covered o’er with wounds,
  • Bravely he fell: I must admire the soldier,
  • Though I detest the rebel: once I loved him,
  • I own it; but let Cicero judge, if ever
  • To friendship Cæsar sacrificed his honor.
cicero.
  • Cæsar is all that Cicero could desire,
  • All that he wished, and all he hoped to find him:
  • Go on, brave youth, preserve thy noble spirit,
  • And be thy country’s friend; may heaven protect
  • And guard thee: never may thy generous soul
  • Be stained with vice, nor false ambition urge
  • Thy spotless youth to quit the paths of virtue!

End of the Fifth and Last Act.

Edition: current; Page: [g]

PANDORA

Edition: current; Page: [290]

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

Prometheus, a Son of Heaven and Earth, a Demi-God.

Pandora.

Jupiter.

Mercury.

Nemesis.

Nymphs.

Titans.

Celestial Deities.

Infernal Deities.

Edition: current; Page: [291]

ACT I.

The scene represents a fine country, with mountains at a distance.

SCENE I.

prometheus, chorus of nymphs, pandora.

[At the farther end of the stage, lying down in an alcove.

prometheus.
  • In vain, Pandora, do I call on thee,
  • My lovely work; alas! thou hearest me not,
  • All stranger as thou art to thy own charms,
  • And to Prometheus’ love: the heart I formed
  • Is still insensible; thy eyes are void
  • Of motion; still the ruthless power of Jove
  • Denies thee life, and drives me to despair:
  • Whilst nature breathes around thee, and the birds
  • In tender notes express their passion, thou
  • Art still inanimate; death holds thee still
  • Beneath his cruel empire.

SCENE II.

prometheus, the titans, enceladus, typhon, etc.

enceladus and typhon.
  • Child of Earth
  • And Heaven, thy cries have raised the forest; speak;
  • Who amongst the gods hath wronged Prometheus?
Edition: current; Page: [292]
prometheus.
  • [Pointing to Pandora.
  • Jove
  • Is jealous of my work divine; he fears
  • That altars will be raised to my Pandora;
  • He cannot bear to see the earth adorned
  • With such a peerless object; he denies
  • To grant her life, and makes my woes eternal.
typhon.
  • That proud usurper Jove did ne’er create
  • Our nobler souls; life, and its sacred flame,
  • Come not from him.
enceladus.
  • [Pointing to his brother Typhon.
  • We are the sons of Night
  • And Tartarus:
  • To thee, eternal night, we pray,
  • Thou wert long before the day;
  • Let then to Janarus Olympus yield.
typhon.
  • Let the unrelenting Jove
  • Join the jealous gods above;
  • Life and all its blessings flow
  • From hell, and from the gods below.
prometheus and the two titans.
  • Come from the centre, gods of night profound,
  • And animate her beauty; let your power
  • Assist our bold emprize!
prometheus.
  • Your voice is heard,
  • The day looks pale, and the astonished earth
  • Edition: current; Page: [293]
  • Shakes from its deep foundations: Erebus
  • Appears before us.
  • [The scene changing represents chaos; all the gods of hell come upon the stage.]
chorus of infernal deities.
  • Light is hateful to our eyes,
  • Jove and heaven we despise;
  • The guilty race, as yet unborn, must go
  • With us to hell’s profoundest depths below.
nemesis.
  • The waves of Lethe, and the flames of hell,
  • Shall ravage all: speak, whom must Janarus
  • In its dark womb embrace?
prometheus.
  • I love the earth,
  • And would not hurt it: to that beauteous object
  • [Pointing to Pandora
  • Have I given birth; but Jove denies it power
  • To breathe, to think, to love, and to be happy.
the three parcæ.
  • All our glory, and our joy,
  • Is to hurt, and to destroy;
  • Heaven alone can give it breath,
  • We can nought bestow but death.
prometheus.
  • Away then, ye destroyers, ye are not
  • The deities Prometheus shall adore;
  • Hence to your gloomy seats, ye hateful powers,
  • And leave the world in peace.
Edition: current; Page: [294]
nemesis.
  • Tremble thou, for thou shalt prove
  • Soon the fatal power of love:
  • We will unchain the fiends of war,
  • And death’s destructive gates unbar.
  • [The infernal deities disappear, and the country resumes its verdure: the nymphs of the woods range themselves on each side of the stage.]
prometheus.
  • [To the Titans.
  • Why would ye call forth from their dark abyss
  • The foes of nature, to obscure the light
  • Of these fair regions?
  • From hell Pandora never shall receive
  • That flame divine which only heaven should give.
enceladus.
  • Since, good Prometheus, ’tis thy dear delight
  • To scatter blessings o’er this new abode,
  • Thou best deservest to be its master: haste
  • To yon blest regions, and snatch thence the flame
  • Celestial, form a soul, and be thyself
  • The great Creator.
prometheus.
  • Love’s in heaven; he reigns
  • O’er all the gods: I’ll throw his darts around,
  • And light up his fierce fires: he is my god,
  • And will assist Prometheus.
chorus of nymphs.
  • Fly to the immortal realms above,
  • And penetrate the throne of Jove;
  • Edition: current; Page: [295]
  • The world to thee shall altars raise,
  • And millions celebrate thy praise.

End of the First Act.

ACT II.

The scene represents the same country; Pandora inanimate reclining in the alcove; a flaming chariot descends from heaven.

prometheus, pandora, nymphs, titans, etc.

a dryad.
  • Ye woodland nymphs, rise from your fair abode,
  • And sing the praises of the demi-god;
  • Who returns from above
  • In the chariot of love?
chorus of nymphs.
  • Ye verdant lawns, and opening flowers,
  • Ye springs which lavish nature’s powers;
  • Ye hills that bear the impending sky,
  • Put on your fairest forms to meet his eye.
prometheus.
  • [Descending from the chariot, with a torch in his hand.
  • Ravished from heaven I bring to happier earth
  • Love’s sacred flame, more brilliant than the light
  • Of glittering day, and to Jove’s boasted thunder
  • Superior.
chorus of nymphs.
  • Go, thou enlivening, animating soul,
  • Through nature’s every work, pervade the whole;
  • To earth, to water, and to air impart,
  • Edition: current; Page: [296]
  • Thy vivid power, and breathe o’er every heart.
prometheus.
  • [Coming near to Pandora.
  • And may this precious flame inspire thy frame
  • With life and motion! earth, assist my purpose!
  • Rise, beauteous object, love commands thee; haste,
  • Obey his voice; arise, and bless Prometheus!
  • [Pandora rises, and comes forward.
chorus.
  • She breathes, she lives; O love, how great thy power!
pandora.
  • Whence, and what am I? to what gracious powers
  • Owe I my life and being?
  • [A symphony is heard at a distance.
  • Hark! my ears
  • Are ravished with enchanting sounds; my eyes
  • With beauteous objects filled on every side:
  • What wonders hath my kind creator spread
  • Around me! O where is he? I have thought
  • And reason to enlighten me: O earth,
  • Thou art not my mother; some benignant god
  • Produced me: yes, I feel him in my heart.
  • [She sits down by the side of a fountain.
  • What do I see! myself, in this fair fountain,
  • That doth reflect the face of heaven? the more
  • I see this image, sure the more I ought
  • To thank the gods who made me.
nymphs and titans.
  • [Dancing round her.
  • Fair Pandora,
  • Daughter of heaven, let thy charms inspire
  • An equal flame, and fan the mutual fire.
Edition: current; Page: [297]
pandora.
  • What lovely object that way draws my eyes?
  • [To Prometheus.
  • Of all I see in these delightful mansions,
  • Nought pleases like thyself; ’twas thou alone
  • Who gavest me life, and I will live for thee.
prometheus.
  • Before those lovely eyes could see
  • Their author, they enchanted me;
  • Before that tongue could speak, Prometheus loved thee.
pandora.
  • Thou lovest me then, dear author of my life,
  • And my heart owns its master; for to thee
  • It flies with transport: have I said too much,
  • Or not enough?
prometheus.
  • O thou canst never say
  • Too much; thou speakest the language of pure love
  • And nature: thus may lovers always speak!
duet.
  • God of my heart, eternal power,
  • Great love, enliven every hour;
  • Thy reign begins, and may thy transports prove
  • The reign of pleasure is the reign of love!
prometheus.
  • But hark! the thunder rolls; thick clouds of darkness,
  • As envious of the earth’s new happiness,
  • Disturb our joys: what horrors throng around me!
  • Hark! the earth shakes, and angry lightnings pierce
  • Edition: current; Page: [298]
  • The vault of heaven: what power thus moves the world
  • From its foundations?
  • [A car descends, on which are seated Mercury, Discord, Nemesis, etc.]
mercury.
  • Some rash hand hath stolen
  • The sacred fire from heaven: to expiate
  • The dire offence, Pandora, thou must go
  • Before the high tribunal of the gods.
prometheus.
  • O cruel tyrant!
pandora.
  • Dread commands!
mercury.
  • Obey:
  • Thou must to heaven.
pandora.
  • I was in heaven already,
  • When I beheld the object of my love.
prometheus.
  • Have pity, cruel gods!
prometheus and pandora.
  • Barbarians, stay.
mercury.
  • Haste, offenders, haste away,
  • Jove commands, you must obey:
  • Bear her, ye winds, to heaven’s eternal mansions.
  • [The car mounts and disappears.
prometheus.
  • The cruel tyrants, jealous of my bliss,
  • Edition: current; Page: [299]
  • Have torn her from me; she was the lovely work
  • Of my own hands: I have done more than Jove
  • Could ever do: Pandora’s charming eyes,
  • Soon as they opened, told me that she loved:
  • Thou jealous god! but thou shalt feel my wrath,
  • And I will brave thy power: for know, usurper,
  • Less dreadful far will all thy thunders prove,
  • Than bold Prometheus fired by hopeless love.

End of the Second Act.

ACT III.

The scene represents the palace of Jupiter.

jupiter, mercury.

jupiter.
  • O Mercury, I’ve seen this lovely object,
  • Earth’s fair production; heaven is in her eye,
  • The graces dwell around her, and my heart
  • Is sacrificed a victim to her charms.
mercury.
  • And she shall answer to thy love.
jupiter.
  • O no:
  • Terror is mine, and power; I reign supreme
  • O’er earth, and hell, and heaven; but love alone
  • Can govern hearts: malicious, cruel fate,
  • When it divided this fair universe,
  • Bestowed the better part on mighty love.
mercury.
  • What fearest thou? fair Pandora scarce hath seen
  • The light of day; and thinkest thou that she loves?
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jupiter.
  • Love is a passion learned with ease; and what
  • Cannot Pandora do? she is a woman,
  • And handsome: but I will retire a moment,
  • Enchant her eyes, and captivate her heart:
  • Ye heavens! in vain, alas! ye shine, for nought
  • Have you so fair, so beauteous as Pandora.
  • [He retires.
pandora.
  • Scarce have these eyes beheld the light of day,
  • Scarce have they looked on him I loved, when lo!
  • ’Tis all snatched from me; death, they say, will come
  • And take me soon: O I have felt him sure
  • Already: is not death the sudden loss
  • Of those we love? O give me back, ye gods,
  • To earth, to that delightful grove where first
  • I saw my kind creator, when at once
  • I breathed and loved: O envied happiness!
  • [The gods, with their several attributes, come upon the stage.]
chorus of gods.
  • Let heaven rejoice
  • At the glad voice
  • Of heaven’s eternal king.
neptune.
  • Let the sea’s bosom—
pluto.
  • And the depths of hell—
chorus of gods.
  • To distant worlds his endless praises tell.
  • Let heaven rejoice, etc.
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pandora.
  • How all conspires to threaten and alarm me!
  • O how I hate and fear this dazzling splendor!
  • Another’s merit how can I approve,
  • Or bear the praise of aught but him I love?
the three graces.
  • Love’s fair daughter, here remain,
  • Thou in right of him shalt reign;
  • Heaven thy chosen seat shall be,
  • Earth in vain shall wish for thee.
pandora.
  • All affrights me,
  • Nought delights me,
  • Alas! a desert had more charms for me.
  • Hence, ye idle visions; cease,
  • Discordant sounds,
  • [A Symphony is heard.
  • And give me peace.
  • [Jupiter comes forth out of a cloud.
jupiter.
  • Thou art the best and fairest charm of nature,
  • Well worthy of eternity: from earth
  • Sprang thy weak body; but thy purer soul
  • Partakes of heaven’s unalterable fire,
  • And thou wert born for gods alone: with Jove
  • Taste then the sweets of immortality.
pandora.
  • I scorn thy gift, and rather would be nothing,
  • From whence I sprang; thy immortality,
  • Without the lovely object I adore,
  • Is but eternal punishment.
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jupiter.
  • Fair creature,
  • Thou knowest not I am master of the thunder:
  • Canst thou in heaven look back to earth?
pandora.
  • That earth
  • Is my abode; there first I learned to love.
jupiter.
  • ’Twas but the shadow of it, in a world
  • Unworthy of that noble flame, which here
  • Alone can burn unquenchable.
pandora.
  • Great Jove,
  • Content with glory and with splendor, leave
  • To earthly lovers happiness and joy:
  • Thou art a god; O hear my humble prayer!
  • A gracious god should make his creatures happy.
jupiter.
  • Thou shalt be happy, and in thee I hope
  • For bliss supreme: ye powerful pleasures, you
  • Who dwell around me, now exert your charms,
  • Deceive her lovely eyes, and win her heart.
  • [The Pleasures dance around her and sing.
chorus of pleasures.
  • Thou with us shalt reign and love,
  • Thou alone art worthy Jove.
a single voice.
  • Nought has earth but shadows vain,
  • Of pleasures followed close by pain;
  • Soon her winged transports fly,
  • Soon her roses fade and die.
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chorus.
  • Thou with us shalt reign and love,
  • Thou alone art worthy Jove.
single voice.
  • Here the brisk and sportive hours
  • Shall cull thee ever-blooming flowers;
  • Time has no wings, he cannot fly,
  • And love is joined to immortality.
chorus.
  • Thou with us shalt reign and love,
  • Thou alone art worthy Jove.
pandora.
  • Ye tender pleasures, ye increase my flame,
  • And ye increase my pain: if happiness
  • Is yours to give, O bear it to my love.
jupiter.
  • Is this the sad effect of all my care,
  • To make a rival happy?
  • [Enter Mercury.
mercury.
  • Assume thy lightnings, Jove, and blast thy foe;
  • Prometheus is in arms, the Titans rage,
  • And threaten heaven; mountain on mountain piled,
  • They scale the skies; already they approach.
jupiter.
  • Jove has the power to punish; let them come.
pandora.
  • And wilt thou punish? thou, who art the cause
  • Of all his miseries; thou art a jealous tyrant:
  • Go on, and love me; I shall hate thee more;
  • Be that thy punishment.
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jupiter.
  • I must away:
  • Rive them, ye thunder-bolts.
pandora.
  • Have mercy, Jove!
jupiter.
  • [To Mercury.
  • Conduct Pandora to a place of safety:
  • The happy world was wrapped in peace profound,
  • A beauty comes, and nought is seen but ruin.
  • [He goes out.
pandora.
  • [Alone.
  • O fatal charms! would I had ne’er been born!
  • Beauty and love, and every gift divine,
  • But make me wretched: if, all-powerful Love,
  • Thou didst create me, now relieve my sorrows;
  • Dry up my tears, bid war and slaughter cease,
  • And give to heaven and earth eternal peace.

End of the Third Act.

ACT IV.

The scene represents the Titans armed, mountains at a distance, with giants throwing them on each other.

enceladus.
  • Fear not, Prometheus, nature feels thy wrongs,
  • And joins with us in just revenge: behold
  • These pointed rocks, and shaggy mountains; soon
  • The jealous tyrants all shall sink beneath them.
prometheus.
  • Now, earth, defend thyself, and combat heaven:
  • Trumpets and drums, now shall ye first be heard:
  • Edition: current; Page: [305]
  • March, Titans, follow me: the seat of gods
  • Is your reward; be fair Pandora mine.
  • [They march to the sound of trumpets.
chorus of titans.
  • Arm, ye valiant Titans, arm,
  • Spread around the dread alarm:
  • Let proud immortals tremble on their thrones.
prometheus.
  • Their thunder answers to our trumpets’ voice.
  • [Thunder is heard; a car descends, bearing the gods towards the mountains: Pandora is seated near Jupiter; Prometheus speaks.]
  • Jove gives the dreadful signal; haste, begin
  • The battle.
  • [The giants rise towards heaven.
chorus of nymphs.
  • Earth, and hell, and heaven confounded,
  • All with terrors are surrounded:
  • Cease, ye gods, and Titans, cease
  • Your cruel wars, and give us peace.
titans.
  • Yield, cruel tyrants.
gods.
  • Rebels, fly.
titans.
  • Yield, heaven, to earth.
gods.
  • Die, rebels, die.
pandora.
  • O heaven! O earth! ye Titans, and ye gods,
  • O cease your rage, all perish for Pandora:
  • I have made the world unhappy.
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titans.
  • Draw
  • Your arrows now.
gods.
  • Strike, thunders.
titans.
  • Hurl down heaven.
gods.
  • Destroy the earth.
both.
  • Yield, cruel tyrants—rebels fly—
  • Yield, earth, to heaven—die, rebels, die.
  • [A dead silence for a time; a bright cloud descends; Destiny appears, seated in the middle of it.]
destiny.
  • Cease, hostile powers, attend to me,
  • And hear the will of Destiny.
  • [Silence ensues.
prometheus.
  • Unalterable being, power supreme,
  • Speak thy irrevocable doom; attend,
  • Ye tyrants, and obey.
chorus.
  • Speak, the gods must yield to thee;
  • Speak, immortal Destiny.
destiny.
  • [In the middle of the gods, who throng round him.
  • Hear me, ye gods; another world this day
  • Brings forth: meantime let every gift adorn
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  • Pandora; and you, Titans, who ’gainst heaven
  • Have raised rebellious war, receive your doom,
  • Beneath these mountains sunk forever groan.
  • [The rocks fall upon them; the chariot of the gods descends to earth; Pandora is restored to Prometheus.
jupiter.
  • O fate, my empire yields to thee,
  • Jove submits to destiny:
  • Thou art obeyed; but from this hour let earth
  • And heaven be disunited: Nemesis,
  • Come forth.
  • [Nemesis advances from the bottom of the stage, and Jupiter proceeds.
  • Nemesis, thy aid impart,
  • Pierce the cruel beauty’s heart;
  • My vengeance let Pandora know,
  • In the gifts that I bestow:
  • Let heaven and earth henceforth be disunited.

End of the Fourth Act.

ACT V.

The scene represents a grove, with the ruins of rocks scattered about it.

prometheus, pandora.

pandora.
  • [Holding a box in her hand.
  • And wilt thou leave me then? art thou subdued,
  • Or art thou conqueror?
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prometheus.
  • Victory is mine:
  • If yet thou lovest me, love and destiny
  • Speak for Prometheus.
pandora.
  • Wilt thou leave me then?
prometheus.
  • The Titans are subdued: lament their fate:
  • I must assist them; let us teach mankind
  • To succor the unhappy.
pandora.
  • Stay a moment:
  • Behold thy victory: let us open this,
  • It was the gift of Jove.
prometheus.
  • What wouldst thou do?
  • A rival’s gift is dangerous; ’tis some snare
  • The gods have laid.
pandora.
  • Thou canst not think it.
prometheus.
  • Hear
  • What I request of thee, and stay at least
  • Till I return.
pandora.
  • Thou biddest, and I obey:
  • I swear by love still to believe Prometheus.
prometheus.
  • Wilt thou then promise?
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pandora.
  • By thyself I swear:
  • All are obedient where they love.
prometheus.
  • Enough:
  • I’m satisfied: and now, ye woodland nymphs,
  • Begin your songs; sing earth restored to bliss;
  • Let all be gay, for all was made for her.
first nymph.
  • Come, fair Pandora, come and prove
  • An age of gold, of innocence, and love;
  • And, like thy parent Nature, be immortal.
second nymph.
  • No longer now shall earth affrighted mourn,
  • By cruel war her tender bosom torn:
  • Pleasures now on pleasures flow,
  • Happiness succeeds to woe:
  • The flowers their fragrant odors yield;
  • Who would wither the fair field?
  • The blest creation teems with mirth and joy,
  • And nature’s work what tyrant would destroy?
the chorus.
  • [Repeats.
  • Come, fair Pandora, come and prove
  • An age of gold, etc.
first nymph.
  • See! to Pandora Mercury appears,
  • And ratifies great Nature’s kind decree.
  • [The nymphs retire: Pandora advances with Nemesis, under the figure of Mercury.]
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nemesis.
  • Already I have told thee, base Prometheus
  • Is jealous of thee, and exerts his power
  • Like a harsh tyrant.
pandora.
  • O he is my lord,
  • My king, my god, my lover, and my husband.
nemesis.
  • Why then forbid thee to behold the gift
  • Of generous heaven?
pandora.
  • His fearful love’s alarmed,
  • And I would wish to have no will but his.
nemesis.
  • He asks too much, Pandora, nor hath done
  • What thou deservest: he might have given thee beauties
  • Which now thou hast not.
pandora.
  • He hath formed my heart
  • Tender and kind; he charms and he adores me;
  • What could he more?
nemesis.
  • Thy charms will perish.
pandora.
  • Ha!
  • Thou makest me tremble.
nemesis.
  • This mysterious box
  • Will make thy charms immortal; thou wilt be
  • Edition: current; Page: [311]
  • Forever beauteous, and forever happy:
  • Thy husband shall be subject to thy power,
  • And thou shalt reign unrivalled in his love.
pandora.
  • He is my only lord, and I would wish
  • To be immortal, but for my Prometheus.
nemesis.
  • Fain would I open thy fair eyes, and bless thee
  • With every good; would make thee please forever.
pandora.
  • But dost thou not abuse my innocence?
  • And canst thou be so cruel?
nemesis.
  • Who would hurt
  • Such beauty?
pandora.
  • I should die with grief, if e’er
  • I disobliged the sovereign of my heart.
nemesis.
  • O in the name of Nature, in the name
  • Of thy dear husband, listen to my voice!
pandora.
  • That name has conquered, and I will believe thee.
  • [She opens the box; darkness is spread over the stage, and a voice heard from below.]
  • Ha! what thick cloud thus o’er my senses spreads
  • Its fatal darkness? thou deceitful god!
  • O I am guilty, and I suffer for it.
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nemesis.
  • I must away: Jove is revenged, and now
  • I will return to hell.
  • [Nemesis vanishes: Pandora faints away on the grass.]
prometheus.
  • [Advancing from the farther end of the stage.
  • O fatal absence! dreadful change! what star
  • Of evil influence thus deforms the face
  • Of Nature? where’s my dear Pandora? why
  • Answers she not to my complaining voice?
  • O my Pandora! but behold, from hell
  • Let loose, the monsters rise, and rush upon us.
  • [Furies and demons running on the stage.
furies.
  • The time is come when we shall reign:
  • Fear and grief, remorse and pain,
  • From this great decisive hour,
  • O’er the world shall spread their power;
  • Death shall come, a bitter draught,
  • By the Furies hither brought.
prometheus.
  • That cruel guest shall powers infernal bring?
  • And must the earth lose her eternal spring?
  • To time, and dire disease, and horrid vice,
  • Shall mortals fall a helpless sacrifice?
  • The nymphs lament our fate: Pandora, hear
  • And answer to my griefs! she comes, but seems
  • Insensible.
pandora.
  • I am not worthy of thee:
  • I have destroyed mankind, deceived my husband,
  • Edition: current; Page: [313]
  • And am alone the guilty cause of all:
  • Strike: I deserve it.
prometheus.
  • Can I punish thee?
pandora.
  • Strike, and deprive me of that wretched life
  • Thou didst bestow.
chorus of nymphs.
  • Tenderest lover, dry her tears,
  • She is full of lover’s fears;
  • She is woman, therefore frail,
  • Let her beauty then prevail.
prometheus.
  • Hast thou then, spite of all thy solemn vows,
  • Opened the fatal box?
pandora.
  • Some cruel god
  • Betrayed me: fatal curiosity!
  • The work was thine: O every evil sprung
  • From that accursed gift: undone Pandora!
love.
  • [Descending from heaven.
  • Love still remains, and every good is thine:
  • [Scene changes, and represents the palace of love.]
  • [Love proceeds.
  • For thee will I resist the power of fate;
  • I gave to mortals being, and they ne’er
  • Shall be unhappy whilst they worship me.
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pandora.
  • Soul of my soul, thou comforter divine,
  • O punish Jove; inspire his vengeful heart
  • With double passion for the blessed Pandora.
prometheus and pandora.
  • Heaven shall pierce our hearts in vain
  • With every grief, and every pain;
  • With thee no pains torment, no pleasures cloy;
  • With thee to suffer is but to enjoy.
love.
  • Lovely hope, on mortals wait;
  • Come, and gild their wretched state;
  • All thy flattering joys impart.
  • Haste, and live in every heart;
  • Howe’er deceitful thou mayest be,
  • Thou canst grant felicity,
  • And make them happy in futurity.
pandora.
  • Fate would make us wretched here,
  • But hope shall dry up every tear;
  • In sorrow he shall give us rest,
  • And make us even in anguish blest:
  • Love shall preserve us from the paths of vice,
  • And strew his flowers around the precipice.

End of the Fifth and Last Act.

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lf0060-09_figure_004.jpg
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THE DRAMATIC WORKS OF VOLTAIRE
Vol. IX—Part II

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CONTENTS

  • THE SCOTCH WOMAN: Dramatis PersonÆ . . . . . page 4
    • Act I . . . . . 5
  • NANINE: Dramatis PersonÆ . . 90
    • Act I . . . . . 91
  • THE PRUDE: Dramatis PersonÆ . 160
    • Act I . . . . . 161
  • THE TATLER: Dramatis PersonÆ . 262
    • Act I . . . . . 263
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LIST OF PLATES
Part II

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THE SCOTCH WOMAN

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Represented at Paris in 1760.

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

Mr. Fabrice, master of a Coffee-house.

Miss Lindon, a Scotchwoman.

Lord Montross, a Scotchman.

Lord Murray.

Polly, maid to Miss Lindon.

Freeport, a Merchant of London.

Wasp, a Writer.

Lady Alton.

Several English Gentlemen frequenting the Coffee-house, Servants, Messengers, &c.

SCENE LONDON.

Voltaire dashed off this comedy in eight days, to ridicule Fréron, who had unfavorably criticised Candide. It was first published as by Hume, or Home, author of the tragedy “Douglas.”

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ACT I.

SCENE I.

The scene represents a coffee-house, with apartments on the same floor on each side communicating with it.

wasp.

[At one corner of the room reading the papers. Coffee, pen and ink, etc., on the table before him.]

A plague on this vile news! here are places and pensions given to above twenty people, and nothing for me! a present of a hundred guineas to a subaltern for doing his duty! a great merit indeed! so much to the inventor of a machine to lessen the number of hands; so much to a pilot; so much settled on men of letters, but nothing for me! here’s another pension, and another—but the deuce a farthing for Wasp [he throws down the paper and walks about] and yet I have done the state some service; I have written more than any one man in England; I have raised the price of paper; and yet nothing is done for me: but I will be revenged on all those whom the world calls men of merit: I have got something already by speaking ill of others; and if I can but contrive to do them a real mischief, my fortune is made. I have praised fools, and calumniated every good quality and perfection of human nature, and yet can scarce live by it: in short, to be a great man, you must not be content with slander and destruction, but endeavor to be Edition: current; Page: [6] really hurtful. [To the master of the coffee-house.] Good morrow to you, Mr. Fabrice. Well, Mr. Fabrice, everybody’s affairs, I find, go well but mine; it is intolerable.

fabrice.

Indeed, indeed, Mr. Wasp, you make yourself a great many enemies.

wasp.

I believe I excite a little envy.

fabrice.

On my soul I believe not; but rather a passion of a very different kind: to be free, for I have really a friendship for you, I am extremely concerned to hear people talk of you as they do: how do you contrive to be so universally hated?

wasp.

It is because I have merit, Mr. Fabrice.

fabrice.

That may possibly be; but you are the only person who ever told me so: they say you are a very ignorant fellow: but that is nothing; they say, moreover, that you are ill-natured and malicious; that gives me concern, as it must every honest man.

wasp.

I assure you I have a good and tender heart. I do indeed now and then speak a little freely of the men; but for the women, Mr. Fabrice, I love them all, provided they are handsome. As a proof of it, I must absolutely insist on your introducing me to your amiable lodger, whom I have never yet been able to converse with.

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fabrice.

Upon honor, Mr. Wasp, that young lady will never do for you; for she never praises herself, or speaks ill of anybody else.

wasp.

She speaks ill of nobody, because, I suppose, she knows nobody: are you not in love with her, Fabrice?

fabrice.

Not I indeed, sir; she has something in her air so noble, that I dare not think of it—besides, her virtue—

wasp.

[Laughing.

Ha! ha! ha! her virtue indeed!

fabrice.

Why so merry, sir? think you there is no such thing as virtue?—but I hear a coach at the door, and yonder is a livery servant with a portmanteau in his hand; some lord coming to lodge with me, perhaps.

wasp.

Be sure, my dear friend, you recommend me to him as soon as possible.

SCENE II.

lord montross, fabrice, wasp.

montross.

You, sir, I suppose, are Mr. Fabrice.

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fabrice.

At your service, sir.

montross.

I shall stay here only a few days. (Protect me, heaven, unhappy as I am!) I am recommended to you, sir, as a worthy honest man.

fabrice.

So, sir, we ought all to be. You will here, sir, I believe, meet with all the conveniences of life; a tolerably good apartment, and my own table, if you choose to do me the honor to dine at it, and the amusement of coffee-house conversation.

montross.

Have you many boarders with you at present?

fabrice.

Only one young lady, sir, very handsome and extremely virtuous.

wasp.

O mighty virtuous, ha! ha!

fabrice.

Who lives quite retired.

montross.

Beauty and youth are not for me. Let me have an apartment, sir, if possible, entirely to myself. (What do I feel!) Have you any remarkable news in London?

fabrice.

This gentleman, sir, can inform you: he talks and writes more than any one man in England, and is extremely useful to foreigners.

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montross.

[Walking about.

I have other business.

fabrice.

I’ll step out, sir, and get things ready for you.

[Exit.

wasp.

[Aside.

This gentleman, I suppose, is just arrived in England: he must be some great man, for he seems to care for nobody. [Turning to Montross.] Permit me, my lord, to present to your lordship my respects; my pen and self, my lord, are at your lordship’s service.

montross.

I am no lord, sir: to boast of a title, if we have one, is the part of a fool; and to assume one when we have no right, that of a knave. I am what I am; but pray, sir, what may be your employment in this house?

wasp.

I don’t belong to the house, sir; but I spend most of my time in the coffee-room; write news, politics, and so forth, and am always ready to do an honest gentleman service. If you have any friend you want to have praised, or any enemy to be abused; any author you want to protect or to decry; ’tis but one guinea per paragraph: if you are desirous of cultivating any acquaintance for profit or pleasure, sir, I am your man.

montross.

And have you no other business, friend?

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wasp.

O sir, it is a very good one, I assure you.

montross.

And have you never been shown in public with a pretty iron collar about your neck?

wasp.

This fellow has no notion of literature.

SCENE III.

wasp.

[Sitting down to the table] several people walking about the coffee-house; Montross comes forward.

montross.

Will my misfortunes never have an end? proscribed, banished, condemned to lose my head in Scotland; in my dear native country: I have lost my honors, my wife, my son, my whole family; except one unhappy daughter, like myself a miserable wanderer, perhaps dishonored; and must I die without taking revenge on Murray’s barbarous family? I am razed out of the book of life; I am no more; even my name is wrested from me by that cruel decree: I am but a poor departed ghost, that hovers round its tomb.

[One of the gentlemen in the coffee-house slapping Wasp on the shoulder.

Well! you saw the new piece yesterday, it met with great applause; the author is a young fellow of merit, but has no fortune, the public ought to encourage him.

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another.

Rot the new piece; public affairs are strangely carried on; stocks rise; the nation’s rich, and I’m ruined, absolutely undone.

wasp.

[Writing.

The piece is good for nothing; the author’s a fool, and so are all those that support him: public affairs are in a wretched condition: the nation’s ruined: I shall prove it in my pamphlet.

another gentleman.

Your pamphlet’s nonsense: philosophy is the most dangerous thing in the world; it was that which lost us the island of Minorca.

montross.

[At a distance from them.

Lord Murray’s son shall pay dearly for it. O that before I die I could avenge the father’s injuries in the son’s blood!

a gentleman.

I thought the comedy last night was an excellent one.

wasp.

Detestable: our taste grows worse and worse.

another gentleman.

Not so bad as your criticisms.

another.

Philosophers sink the public funds: we must send another ambassador to Porte.

Edition: current; Page: [12]
wasp.

We should always hiss a successful piece, for fear anything good should appear.

[Four of them talk at once.

first gentleman.

If there was nothing good, you would lose all the pleasure of satirizing it: now I think the fifth act has great beauties.

second gentleman.

I can’t sell any of my goods.

third gentleman.

I am in pain for Jamaica this year: depend on’t, these philosophers will make us lose it.

wasp.

The fourth and fifth acts are both contemptible.

montross.

What a riot is here.

first gentleman.

It is impossible the government can exist as it is.

second gentleman.

If the price of Barbadoes water is not lowered, the nation’s undone.

montross.

How happens it, that in every country when men meet they all talk together, though they are certain of not being heard or attended to!

enter fabrice.

[A napkin in his hand.

Dinner’s on the table, gentlemen; but pray, let us have no disputes there, if you mean to dine with Edition: current; Page: [13] me any more. Sir, [Turning to Montross.] shall we have the honor of your company?

montross.

What, with this tribe? no, friend, let me have something in my own room. Hark’ee, sir, [Whispering to him.] Is my Lord Falbridge in London?

fabrice.

No, sir, but I believe he will be here soon.

montross.

Does he come to your house sometimes? I think I have heard so.

fabrice.

He has done me that honor.—

montross.

Very well. Good morrow to you.—How hateful is life to me!

[Exit.

fabrice.

This man seems lost in grief and thought; I should not be surprised to hear he had made away with himself; ’twould concern me, for he has the appearance of a worthy gentleman.

[The gentlemen leave the coffee-house, and go to dinner; Wasp continues at the table writing: Fabrice knocks at Mrs. Lindon’s door.

Edition: current; Page: [14]

SCENE IV.

fabrice, polly, wasp.

fabrice.

Mrs. Polly, Mrs. Polly.

polly.

Who’s there, my landlord?

fabrice.

Will you be so obliging as to favor us with your company to dinner?

polly.

I dare not, my mistress eats nothing. How indeed should we eat! we have too much grief.

fabrice.

O it will give you spirits, and make you cheerful.

polly.

I can’t be cheerful: when my mistress suffers, I must suffer with her.

fabrice.

Then I’ll send you up something privately.

[Exit.

wasp.

[Rising from the table.

I’ll follow you, Mr. Fabrice—well, and so, my dear Polly, you will not introduce me to your mistress—still inflexible?

Edition: current; Page: [15]
polly.

’Tis a fine thing for you to pretend to make love to a woman of her condition.

wasp.

Pray what is her condition?

polly.

A respectable one, I assure you, sir. I should think a servant was good enough for you.

wasp.

That is to say, if I were to court you, you would be thankful.

polly.

Not I, indeed.

wasp.

And what, pray, is the reason why your mistress positively refuses to see me, and her waiting-maid treats me so contemptuously?

polly.

We have three reasons for it. First, you are a wit; secondly, you are very tiresome; and thirdly, you are a wicked fellow.

wasp.

And what right has your mistress, pray, who is kept here on charity, to despise me?

polly.

Upon charity? who told you so, sir? my mistress, sir, is very rich: if she is not expensive, it is because she hates pomp: she is plainly clad, out of modesty, and eats little, because temperance is prescribed to her: in short, sir, you are very impertinent.

Edition: current; Page: [16]
wasp.

Don’t let her give herself so many airs; we know her conduct, her birth, and her adventures.

polly.

You, sir, who told them you? what do you know?

wasp.

O, I have correspondents in every part of the world.

polly.

[Aside.

O heaven! this man will ruin us.

[Turning to him.

Mr. Wasp, my dear Mr. Wasp, if you know anything, don’t betray us.

wasp.

O ho! there is something then, and now I am dear Mr. Wasp: well, well, I shall say nothing, but you must—

polly.

What?

wasp.

You must love me.

polly.

Fie, fie, sir, that’s impossible.

wasp.

Either love or fear me. You know there is something—

polly.

There is nothing, sir, but that my mistress is as respectable as you are hateful. We are truly easy. We fear nothing, and only laugh at you.

Edition: current; Page: [17]
wasp.

They are very easy: from that I conclude they are almost starved: they fear nothing, that is to say, they are afraid of being discovered—I shall get to the bottom of it by and by, or—I shall not. I’ll be revenged on them for their insolence. Despise me!

SCENE V.

Miss Lindon [Coming out of her chamber dressed very plainly.

miss lindon, polly.

miss lindon.

O my dear Polly, you have been with that vile fellow, Wasp; he always makes me uneasy; a destestable character, whose pen, words, and actions are all equally abominable: they tell me he works himself into families to bring in misery where there is none, and to increase it where it is: I had left this house because he frequents it, long since, but for the honesty and good heart of our landlord.

polly.

He absolutely insisted on seeing you, and I would not let him.

miss lindon.

To see me! where is my Lord Murray, he has not been here these two days!

polly.

True, madam, but because he does not come, are we never to dine?

Edition: current; Page: [18]
miss lindon.

Remember, Polly, to conceal my misery from him, and from all the world: I am content to live on bread and water: poverty is not intolerable, but contempt is: I am satisfied to be in want, but I would not have it known I am so.

polly.

Alas! my dear mistress, whoever looks at me will easily perceive it: with you it is a different thing; your nobleness of soul supports you, you seem to rejoice in calamities, and only look the handsomer for it: but I grow thinner and thinner, you may see me fall away every minute; I am so altered within this last year that I scarcely know myself.

miss lindon.

We must not part with our courage nor our hopes: I can support my own poverty, but yours indeed affects me. My dear girl, let the labor of my hands relieve you, we will have no obligations to anybody. Go and sell this embroidery which I have done lately. I think I succeed pretty well in this kind of work. You have assisted me, and in return my hands shall feed and clothe you: It is noble to owe our subsistence to nothing but our virtue.

polly.

Let me kiss, let me bathe with my tears the dear hands that have labored in my service O! I had rather die with my dear mistress in poverty, than be servant to a queen. Would I could administer some comfort to you!

miss lindon.

Alas! Lord Murray is not come: he whom I ought to hate, the son of him who was the author of Edition: current; Page: [19] all my misfortunes: alas! the name of Murray will be forever fatal to me: if he comes, as he certainly will, let him not know my country, my condition, or my misfortunes.

polly.

Do you know, that villain, Wasp, pretends to be well acquainted with him?

miss lindon.

How is it possible he should know anything of him, when even you are scarcely acquainted with him? Nobody writes to me, I am locked up in my chamber as closely as if I were in my grave: he only pretends to know something in order to make himself necessary: take care he does not so much as find out the place of my birth. You know, my dear Polly, I am an unfortunate woman whose father was banished in the late troubles, and whose family is ruined: my father is wandering from desert to desert in Scotland. I should have left London to join him in his misfortunes, but that I have still some hopes in Lord Falbridge; he was my father’s friend: our true friends never desert us. He has returned from Spain, and is now at Windsor: I wait but to see him: but alas! Murray comes not. I have opened my heart to thee, remember the most fatal blow thou canst give to it would be the disclosure of my condition.

polly.

To whom should I disclose it; I never go from you; besides that, the world is very indifferent about the poor and unfortunate.

miss lindon.

The world is indifferent, Polly, in this respect; Edition: current; Page: [20] but still it is always inquisitive, and loves to tear open the wounds of the wretched: besides that, the men assume a right over our sex when they are unhappy, and abuse their power. I would make even my miseries respectable: but alas! Lord Murray will not come.

SCENE VI.

miss lindon, polly, fabrice.

fabrice.

Forgive me, madam, I am not acquainted with your name or quality; but I have, I know not why, the greatest respect for you. I have left the company below to wait on you, and know your commands.

miss lindon.

The regard which you express for me, my dear sir, deserves my most grateful acknowledgments: but what are your commands with me?

fabrice.

I came, madam, only to know yours: you had no dinner yesterday.

miss lindon.

I was sick, sir, and could not eat.

fabrice.

You are worse than sick, madam, you are melancholy: you will pardon me, but I cannot help thinking your fortune is not equal to your person and appearance.

Edition: current; Page: [21]
miss lindon.

Why should you think so? I never complained of my fortune.

fabrice.

Notwithstanding that, madam, I am sure it is not what you could wish it were.

miss lindon.

What say you?

fabrice.

I say, madam, that the world you seem to shun, admires and pities you. I am but a plain man, madam, but I can see all your merit as well as the finest courtier. Let me entreat you, my dear lady, to take a little refreshment: there is above stairs an elderly gentleman who would be glad to eat with you.

miss lindon.

What, sit down to table with a stranger!

fabrice.

The gentleman, I am sure, would be agreeable to you: you seem afflicted, and so does he. The communication of your grief might, perhaps, give mutual consolation.

miss lindon.

I cannot, will not, see anybody.

fabrice.

At least, madam, permit my wife to pay her respects to you, and keep you company: permit her—

miss lindon.

I return you thanks, sir, but I want nothing.

Edition: current; Page: [22]
fabrice.

You will pardon me, madam, but I cannot think you want nothing, when you stand in need even of common necessaries.

miss lindon.

Who could make you believe so? indeed, sir, you are imposed upon.

fabrice.

You will forgive me, madam.

miss lindon.

O Polly, ’tis two o’clock, and Lord Murray not come yet!

fabrice.

That lord you speak of, madam, is one of the best of men; you never received him here but before company. Why would not you permit me to furnish out a little repast for you both? he is, perhaps, a relative of yours.

miss lindon.

My dear sir, you are mistaken.

fabrice.

[Pulling Polly by the sleeve.

Go, child, there is a good dinner for you in the next room. This woman is incomprehensible: but who is yonder lady in the coffee-room with a masculine air? I should have taken her for a man: how wildly she looks!

polly.

O my dear mistress! ’tis Lady Alton, who wanted to marry my lord—I remember I saw her once before this way: ’tis certainly she.

Edition: current; Page: [23]
miss lindon.

And my lord not come! then I am undone. Why am I still condemned to live?

[She goes in.

SCENE VII.

lady alton.

[Walking across the stage in a violent passion, and taking Fabrice by the arm.

Follow me, sir, I must talk with you.

fabrice.

With me, madam?

lady alton.

With you, wretch.

fabrice.

What a devil of a woman!

End of the First Act.

ACT II.

SCENE I.

lady alton, fabrice.

lady alton.

I don’t believe a word you say, Mr. Coffeeman; you will absolutely drive me out of my senses.

fabrice.

Then pray, madam, get into them again.

Edition: current; Page: [24]
lady alton.

You have the impudence to affirm to me, that this fortune-hunter here is a woman of honor, though she has received visits from a nobleman. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

fabrice.

Why so, madam? when my lord came, he never came in privately; she received him publicly, the doors of her apartment were open, and my wife present. You may despise my condition, madam, but you should respect my honesty; and as to the lady you are pleased to call a fortune-hunter, if you knew her, you would esteem her.

lady alton.

Leave me, sir, you grow impertinent.

fabrice.

What a woman!

lady alton.

[Goes to Miss Lindon’s door, and knocks rudely.

Open the door.

SCENE II.

miss lindon, lady alton.

miss lindon.

Who knocks so? what do you want, madam?

lady alton.

Answer me, madam. Does not Lord Murray come here sometimes?

Edition: current; Page: [25]
miss lindon.

What’s that to you? what right have you to ask me? am I a criminal, and you my judge?

lady alton.

I am your accuser. If my lord still visits you, if you encourage that wretch’s passion, tremble: renounce him, or you are undone.

miss lindon.

If I had a passion for him, your menaces, madam, would but increase it.

lady alton.

I see you love him; that the perfidious villain has seduced you; he has deceived you, and you brave me: but know, there is no vengeance which I am not capable of executing.

miss lindon.

Then, madam, know, I do love him.

lady alton.

Before I revenge myself I will astonish you. There, know the traitor, look at these letters he wrote to me: there is his picture too which he gave me; but let me have it back, or—

miss lindon.

[Giving her back the picture.

What have I seen? unhappy woman! madam—

lady alton.

Well.

miss lindon.

I no longer love him.

Edition: current; Page: [26]
lady alton.

Keep your resolution and your promise; know, he is inconstant, cruel, proud, the worst of characters.

miss lindon.

Stop, madam; if you continue to speak ill of him, I may relapse, and love him again. You are come here on purpose to take away my wretched life: that, madam, will easily be done.—Polly, ’tis all over; come and assist me to conceal this last and worst of all my miseries.

polly.

What is the matter, my dear mistress, where is your courage?

miss lindon.

Against misfortune, injustice, and poverty, there are arms that will defend a noble heart; but there is an arrow that always must be fatal.

[They go out.

SCENE III.

lady alton, wasp.

lady alton.

To be betrayed, abandoned for this worthless little wretch.

[To Wasp.

You, news-writer, have you done what I ordered you? have you employed your engines of intelligence, and found out who this insolent creature is that makes me so completely miserable?

Edition: current; Page: [27]
wasp.

I have fulfilled your ladyship’s commands, and have discovered that she is a Scotchwoman, and hides herself from the world.

lady alton.

Prodigious news indeed!

wasp.

I can find out nothing else at present.

lady alton.

What service then have you been of?

wasp.

When we discover a little, we add a little; and one little joined to another, makes a great deal. There’s a hypothesis for you.

lady alton.

How, pedant, a hypothesis!

wasp.

Yes, I suppose she is an enemy to the government.

lady alton.

Certainly, nothing can be worse inclined; for she has robbed me of my lover.

wasp.

You plainly see, therefore, that in troublesome times, a Scotchwoman, who conceals herself, must be an enemy to the state.

lady alton.

I can’t say I see it altogether so clearly, but I heartily wish it were so.

Edition: current; Page: [28]
wasp.

I would not lay a wager about it, but I’d swear to it.

lady alton.

And would you venture to affirm this before people of consequence?

wasp.

I have the honor of being related to many persons of the first fashion. I am intimate with the mistress of a valet de chambre to the first secretary of the prime minister: I could even talk with the lackeys of your lover, Lord Murray, and tell them that the father of this young girl has sent her up to London, as a woman ill disposed. Now observe, this might have its consequences, and your rival, for her bad intentions, might be sent to the same prison where I have so often been for my writings.

lady alton.

Good, very good: violent passions must be served by people who have no scruples about them. Let the vessel go with a full sail, or let it go to the bottom. You are certainly right; a Scotchwoman who conceals herself at a time when all the people of her country are suspected, must certainly be an enemy to the state. You are no fool, as you have been represented to me. I thought you had been only a smatterer on paper, but I see you have genius. I have already done something for you; I will do a great deal more. You must let me know everything that passes here.

wasp.

Let me advise you, madam, to make use of everything you know, and of everything you do not know. Edition: current; Page: [29] Truth stands in need of some ornament: downright lies indeed may be vile things, but fiction is beautiful. What after all is truth? a conformity with our own ideas; what one says is always conformable to the idea one has whilst one is talking; therefore, properly speaking, there is no such thing as a lie.

lady alton.

You seem to be an excellent logician, I fancy you studied at St. Omer’s. But go, only tell me whatever you discover, I ask no more of you.

SCENE IV.

lady alton, fabrice.

lady alton.

This is certainly one of the vilest and most impudent scoundrels; dogs bite from an instinct of courage, and this fellow from an instinct of meanness. Methinks, now I am a little cool, his behavior makes me out of love with revenge. I could almost take my rival’s part against him. She has in her low condition a pride that pleases me; she is decent, and I am told, sensible: but she has robbed me of my lover, and that I can never pardon. [To Fabrice, whom she sees in the coffee-room.] Honest man, your servant, you are a good kind of fellow, but you have got a sad rascal in your house.

fabrice.

I have heard, madam, from many, that he is as wicked as Miss Lindon is virtuous and amiable.

lady alton.

Amiable! that wounds my heart.

Edition: current; Page: [30]

SCENE V.

fabrice, mr. freeport.

[Dressed plainly, with a large hat.

fabrice.

Heaven be praised, Mr. Freeport, I see you safe returned: how are you since your voyage to Jamaica?

freeport.

Pretty well, I thank you, Mr. Fabrice, I have been very successful, but am much fatigued. [To the waiter.] Boy, some chocolate and the papers—one finds it more difficult to amuse oneself than to get rich.

fabrice.

Will you have Wasp’s papers?

freeport.

No: what should I do with such stuff? It is no concern of mine if a spider in the corner of a wall walks over his web to suck the blood of flies. Give me the Gazette! What public news have you?

fabrice.

None at present.

freeport.

So much the better; the less news the less folly. But how go your affairs, my friend? have you a good deal of business? who lodges with you now?

fabrice.

This morning an old gentleman came who won’t see anybody.

Edition: current; Page: [31]
freeport.

He’s in the right of it: three parts of the world are good for nothing, either knaves or fools, and as for the fourth, they keep to themselves.

fabrice.

This gentleman has not so much as the curiosity to see a charming young lady who is in the same house with him.

freeport.

There he’s wrong. Who is she, pray?

fabrice.

She is something more singular even than himself: she has now been with me these four months, and has never stirred out of her apartment: she calls herself Lindon, but I believe that is not her real name.

freeport.

I make no doubt but she’s a woman of virtue, or she would not lodge with you.

fabrice.

O she is more than you can conceive; beautiful to the last degree, greatly distressed, and the best of women. Between you and me she is excessively poor, but of a high spirit and very proud.

freeport.

If that be the case she is more to blame even than your old gentleman.

fabrice.

By no means: her pride is an additional virtue. She denies herself common necessaries, and at the Edition: current; Page: [32] same time would let nobody know she does: works with her own hands to get money to pay me; never complains, but hides her tears: it is with the utmost difficulty I can persuade her to expend a little of her money, due for rent, on things she really wants; and am forced to make use of a thousand arts before she will suffer me to assist her. I always reckon what she has at half the price it cost me, and when she finds it out, there is always a quarrel between us, which indeed is the only quarrel we have ever had: in short, sir, she is a miracle of virtue, misfortune, and intrepidity: she frequently draws from me tears of tenderness and admiration.

freeport.

You are naturally tender; I am not. I admire none, though I esteem many: but I will see this woman; I am a little melancholy, and she may divert me.

fabrice.

O sir, she scarcely ever receives any visitors. There is a lord indeed who comes now and then to see her, but she will never speak to him unless before my wife. He has not been here for some time, and now she lives more retired than ever.

freeport.

I love retirement too, and hate a crowd as much as she can: I must see her, where is her apartment?

fabrice.

Yonder: even with the coffee-room.

freeport.

I’ll go in.

Edition: current; Page: [33]
fabrice.

You must not.

freeport.

I say I must: why not go into her chamber? bring in my chocolate and the papers. [Pulls out his watch.] I have not much time to lose, for I am engaged at two.

SCENE VI.

miss lindon, [frightened, Polly following her.]

freeport, fabrice.

miss lindon.

My God! who is this? sir, you are extremely rude; I think you might have shown more respect to my sex than thus to intrude on my retirement.

freeport.

You will pardon me, madam, [To Fabrice] bring me the chocolate.

fabrice.

Yes, sir, with the lady’s consent.

freeport.

[Seats himself near a table, reads the newspaper, and looks up to Miss Lindon and Polly, takes off his hat, and puts it on again.

polly.

This gentleman seems pretty familiar.

freeport.

Why won’t you sit down, madam? you see I do.

Edition: current; Page: [34]
miss lindon.

Which I think, sir, you ought not to do. I am astonished, sir: I never receive visits from strangers.

freeport.

A stranger, madam! I am very well known; my name’s Freeport, a merchant, and rich: inquire of me on ’Change.

miss lindon.

Sir, I know nobody in this country, I should be obliged to you if you would not intrude on a person to whom you are an utter stranger, and to whom as a woman you should have shown more respect.

freeport.

I don’t mean to incommode you, madam: be at your ease, as I am at mine; you see I am reading the news, take up your tapestry, or drink chocolate with me, or without me, just as you please.

polly.

This is an original!

miss lindon.

Good heaven! what a visit! and my lord not come. This whimsical fellow distracts me, and I don’t know how to get rid of him. How could Fabrice let him in! I must sit down.

[She sits down, and works, chocolate is brought in; Freeport takes a dish without offering her any; he sips, and talks by turns.

freeport

Hark’ee, madam, I hate compliments, I have heard one of the best of characters of you: you are Edition: current; Page: [35] poor and virtuous, but they tell me you are proud; that’s a fault.

polly.

And pray, sir, who told you all this?

freeport.

The master of this house, who is a very honest man, and therefore I believe him.

miss lindon.

O sir, ’tis all a fable; he has deceived you; not indeed with regard to pride, which always accompanies true modesty: nor as to virtue, which is my first duty; but with regard to that poverty of which he suspects me. Those who want nothing can never be poor.

freeport.

You don’t stick to truth, which is even a worse fault than being proud: I know better, I know you are in want of everything, and sometimes deny yourself so much as a dinner.

polly.

That’s by order of the doctor.

freeport.

Hold your tongue, hussy, do you pretend to give yourself airs too?

polly.

What an original!

freeport

In a word, whether you are proud or not, is nothing to me. I have made a voyage to Jamaica that has brought me in five thousand pounds: now, you must know, it is a law with me, and ought to be Edition: current; Page: [36] a law with every good Christian, always to give away a tenth part of what I get: it is a debt which I owe to the unfortunate. You are unhappy, though you won’t acknowledge it. There’s five hundred pounds for you: now, remember, you’re paid: let me have no curtseys, no thanks, keep the money and the secret.

[Throws down a large purse on the table.

polly.

In faith this is more original still.

miss lindon.

[Rising.

I never was so astonished in my life—alas! how everything conspires to humble me! what generosity! and yet what an affront!

freeport.

[Reading the news and drinking his chocolate.

This impertinent writer! a ridiculous fellow to talk such nonsense with an air of consequence—“The king is arrived: he makes a most noble figure, being extremely tall.” The blockhead! what signifies it whether he is tall or short? could not he have told us the plain fact?

miss lindon.

[Coming up to Freeport.

Sir—

freeport.

Well, madam—

miss lindon.

What you have done, sir, surprises me still more than what you said: but I cannot possibly accept the Edition: current; Page: [37] money, as it may not, perhaps, ever be in my power to repay it.

freeport.

Who talks of repaying it?

miss lindon.

I thank you, sir, for your goodness, from the bottom of my heart: you have my sincere acknowledgments, my admiration; I can no more.

polly.

You are more extraordinary than the gentleman himself. Surely, madam, in the condition you are in, deserted by all the world, you must have lost your senses to refuse an unexpected succor, thus offered you by one of the most generous, though whimsical and absurd men I ever met with.

freeport.

What do you mean by that, madam! whimsical and absurd!

polly.

If you won’t accept of it for your own sake, take it for mine. I have served you in your ill-fortune, and have some right to partake of the good: in short, sir, this is no time to dissemble, we are in the utmost distress; and if it had not been for our kind landlord, must have perished with cold and hunger. My mistress concealed her condition from all those who might have been of service to us: you became acquainted with it in spite of her: in spite of herself, therefore, oblige her to accept of that which heaven hath sent her by your generous hand.

miss lindon.

Dear Polly, you will ruin my honor.

Edition: current; Page: [38]
polly.

You, my dear mistress, would ruin yourself by your folly.

miss lindon.

If you love me, consider my reputation. I shall die with shame.

freeport.

[Reading.

What are these women prating about?

polly.

And if you love me, madam, don’t oblige me to perish with hunger.

miss lindon.

O Polly, what think you my lord would say, if still he loves me? could he believe me capable of such meanness? I always pretended to him that I wanted nothing; and shall I receive a present from another, from a stranger?

polly.

Your pretence was wrong, and your refusal still more so: as to my lord, he’ll say nothing about it, for he has deserted you.

miss lindon.

My dear Polly, by our sorrows I entreat you, do not let us disgrace ourselves: contrive in some way to excuse me to this strange man, who means well, though he is so rude and unpolished: tell him, when an unmarried woman accepts such presents, the world will always suspect she does it at the expense of her virtue.

Edition: current; Page: [39]
freeport.

[Reading.

What does she say?

polly.

[Coming close to him.

O sir, something mighty ridiculous; she talks of the suspicions of the world, and that an unmarried woman—

freeport.

Is she unmarried then?

polly.

Yes, sir, and I too

freeport.

So much the better. So she says that an unmarried woman—

polly.

Cannot take a present from a man—

freeport.

She does not know what she says. Why am I to be suspected of a dishonest purpose, because I do an honest action?

polly.

Do you hear him, madam?

miss lindon.

I hear, and I admire him, but am still resolved not to accept it: they would say I loved him; that villain. Wasp, would certainly report it, and I should be undone.

polly.

[To Freeport.

She is afraid, sir, you are in love with her.

Edition: current; Page: [40]
freeport.

In love with her! how can that be, when I know nothing of her? indeed, madam, you may make yourself easy on that head; and if perchance some years hence I should fall in love with you, and you with me, well and good; as you determine, I shall determine also; and if you think no more of it, I shall think no more of it; if you tell me I am disagreeable to you, you will soon be so to me; if you desire not to see me, you shall never see me again; and if you desire me to return, I will.

[Pulls out his watch.

So fare you well. I have a little business at present. Madam, your, servant.

miss lindon.

Your servant, sir, you have my esteem and my gratitude; but take your money with you, and once more spare my blushes.

freeport.

The woman’s a fool.

miss lindon.

Mr. Fabrice, Mr. Fabrice, for heaven’s sake come and assist me.

fabrice.

[Coming in a violent hurry.

What’s the matter, madam?

miss lindon.

[Giving him the purse.

Here, take this purse: the gentleman left it by mistake, give it him again, I charge you; assure him of my esteem, and remember I want no assistance from any one.

Edition: current; Page: [41]
fabrice.

[Taking the purse.

O Mr. Freeport, I know you by this generous action; but be assured this lady means to deceive you: she is really in want of this.

miss lindon.

’Tis false: and is it you, Mr. Fabrice, who would betray me?

fabrice.

I will obey you, madam.

[Aside to Freeport.

I will keep this money; it may be of service to her without her knowing it. My heart bleeds to see such virtue joined to such misfortunes.

freeport.

I feel for her too, but she is too haughty: tell her it is not right to be proud. Adieu.

SCENE VII.

miss lindon, polly.

polly.

Well, madam, you have made a fine piece of work of it; heaven graciously offered you assistance, and you resolve to perish in indigence; I too must fall a sacrifice to your virtue, a virtue which is not without its alloy of vanity: that vanity, madam, will destroy us both.

miss lindon.

Death is all I have to wish for: Lord Murray no longer loves me; he has left me these three days; Edition: current; Page: [42] he has loved my proud and cruel rival; perhaps, he loves her still. I was to blame to think of him, but ’tis a crime I shall not long be guilty of.

[She sits down to write.

polly.

She seems in despair, alas! she has but too much reason to be so; her condition is far worse than mine: a servant has always some resource, but a woman like her can have none.

miss lindon.

[Folding up her letter.

’Tis no great sacrifice. There, Polly, when I am no more, carry that letter to him—

polly.

What says my dear mistress?

miss lindon.

To him who is the cause of my death. I have recommended you to him, perhaps he may comply with my last request: go, Polly, [embracing her] and be assured, that amongst all my misfortunes, that of not being able to recompense you as you deserve, is not the least which this wretched heart has experienced.

polly.

O my dear mistress, I cannot refrain from tears, you harrow up my soul: what is your dreadful purpose? what means this letter? God forbid I should ever deliver it! [she tears the letter.] Alas! madam, why would not you open your heart to Lord Murray? perhaps your cold reserve has disgusted him.

Edition: current; Page: [43]
miss lindon.

Perhaps so, indeed: my eyes are open now, I must have offended him: but how could I disclose my condition to the son of him who ruined my father and family?

polly.

How, madam! was it my lord’s father who—

miss lindon.

Yes, it was he who persecuted my father, had him condemned to death, deprived us of our nobility, and took away everything from us: left as I am without father, mother, or fortune, I have nothing but my reputation and my fatal love. I ought to detest the son of Murray: misfortune, that still pursues me, brought me acquainted with him. I have loved him, and I ought to suffer for it.

polly.

O madam, you grow pale, your eyes are dim.

miss lindon.

May grief perform that office for me, which sword or poison—

polly.

Help here, Mr. Fabrice, help: my mistress faints.

fabrice.

Help, help here! where are ye all, my wife, my servants, come down: tell the gentlemen above—help here—

[Fabrice’s wife, her maids, and Polly, carry off Miss Lindon into her chamber.

Edition: current; Page: [44]
miss lindon.

[As she is going out.

Why will ye bring me back to life again? let me die in peace.

SCENE VIII.

montross, fabrice.

montross.

What’s the matter, landlord?

fabrice.

That beautiful young lady, sir, I told you of, fainted away just now: but it will be over soon.

montross.

O the mere effect of vapors in young girls; they are not dangerous: what service could I be of? why call me down for this? I thought the house must have been on fire.

fabrice.

I had rather it were, than this sweet creature should be hurt. If Scotland has many such beauties as her, it must be a charming country.

montross.

Is she Scotch then?

fabrice.

So it seems; though I knew it but to-day: our news-writer tells me so, and he knows everything.

montross.

And what’s her name?

Edition: current; Page: [45]
fabrice.

She calls herself Lindon.

montross.

That’s a name I’m not acquainted with. [He walks about.] The bare mention of my country rives my heart. Was ever man treated with such cruelty and injustice as I have been? Barbarous Murray, thou art dead; but thy son survives: I will have justice or revenge. O my dearest wife, my children, my daughter! I have lost all. This sword had long since ended all my cares, did not the hopes of sweet revenge force me still to bear the detestable load of life.

fabrice.

[Returning.

Thank God! all is well again.

montross.

What sudden change has happened then?

fabrice.

O, sir, she has recovered her senses, and is pretty well; looks still pale, but always beautiful.

montross.

O it’s nothing. I must go out—I must run the hazard—I will.

[Exit.

fabrice.

This man does not trouble himself much about young ladies that faint; but if he had seen Miss Lindon, he would not be so indifferent.

End of the Second Act.

Edition: current; Page: [46]

ACT III.

SCENE I.

lady alton, andrew.

lady alton.

Yes: since I can’t see the villain at home, I’ll see him here: he’ll certainly come. This news-writer told me truth, and was in the right of it: a Scotchwoman concealed in these dangerous times! she must be in a conspiracy against the state; she shall be seized; the order is given; at least I am too sure she conspires against me: but here comes Andrew, my lord’s servant; I will know the whole of my misfortune. Andrew, you have got a letter from my lord, have not you?

andrew.

Yes, madam.

lady alton.

For me.

andrew.

No, madam.

lady alton.

How? have not you brought me several from him?

andrew.

Yes, madam: but this is not for you; ’tis for a certain person whom he is most desperately in love with.

lady alton.

Well, and was not he most desperately in love with me when he used to write to me?

Edition: current; Page: [47]
andrew.

O no, madam, he loved you calmly and coldly; ’tis quite another thing here; he neither sleeps nor eats, runs about day and night, and does nothing but talk of his dear Lindon. O there’s a great deal of difference, I assure you.

lady alton.

Perfidious wretch! but no matter: I tell you that letter is for me: ’tis without a superscription, is not it?

andrew.

Yes, madam.

lady alton.

Were not all the letters you brought me without a superscription too?

andrew.

Yes, madam; but this I know is for Miss Lindon.

lady alton.

I tell you ’tis for me, and to prove it to you, here are ten guineas for you.

andrew.

Indeed, madam, I begin to think the letter was for you; I was certainly mistaken: but if after all it is not, I hope you will not betray me; you may say you found it at Miss Lindon’s.

lady alton.

O leave that to me.

andrew.

After all, where is the harm in giving a love letter designed for one woman to another? they are all Edition: current; Page: [48] alike; and if Miss Lindon does not receive this letter, she may have twenty others. I have executed my commission, and made a pretty good hand of it too.

lady alton.

[Opens the letter, and reads.

Now for it—“My dear, amiable, and truly virtuous Miss Lindon”—that’s more than ever he said to me—“ ’tis now two days, an age to me, since I had the happiness of seeing you: but I have denied myself that pleasure with the hopes of serving you. I know what you are, and what I owe you. I will change the face of your affairs, or perish in the attempt. My friends are zealous for you. Depend on me as on the most faithful of lovers, and one who will endeavor to prove himself worthy of your affection.”

This is an absolute conspiracy; there can be no doubt of it: she is a Scotchwoman, and her family ill disposed to the government. Murray’s father commanded in Scotland: his friends, he says, are zealous; he runs about day and night: ’tis certainly a conspiracy. Thank God, I am as zealous as he, and if she does not accept my offers, she shall be seized in an hour’s time, before her vile lover comes to her assistance.

SCENE II.

lady alton, miss lindon, polly.

lady alton.

[To Polly, who is passing from her mistress’s apartment towards the coffee-room.

You, madam, go immediately and tell your mistress Edition: current; Page: [49] I must speak with her; she need not be afraid; I shall say nothing to her but what will be agreeable, and concerns her happiness: let her come immediately, immediately, do you hear? she need not be afraid, I say.

polly.

O madam, we are afraid of nothing; but your looks make me tremble.

lady alton.

I’ll see if I can’t persuade this virtuous lady to do as I would have her: I’ll make my proposals, however.

miss lindon.

[Comes in trembling, supported by Polly.

What are your commands with me, madam? are you come again only to insult me in my distress?

lady alton.

No: I come to make you happy. I know you are worth nothing; I am rich; I now make you an offer of one of my seats on the borders of Scotland, with all the lands belonging to it; go and live there, you and your family, if you have any; but you must immediately quit my lord forever, nor must he know of your retreat as long as you live.

miss lindon.

Alas! madam, he has abandoned me: be not jealous of a poor unfortunate: in vain you offer me a retreat; I shall soon find one without you, an eternal one, in a place where I need not blush at my obligations to you.

lady alton.

Rash woman, is this an answer for me?

Edition: current; Page: [50]
miss lindon.

Rashness, madam, would ill suit with my condition; firmness and intrepidity will much better become it: my birth, madam, is as good as yours; my heart, perhaps, much better; and as to my fortune, it shall not depend on any one, much less on my rival.

[Goes out.

lady alton.

[Alone.

It shall depend on me. I am sorry she reduces me to this extremity, and am ashamed to make use of this rascal, Wasp; but she obliges me to it. Faithless lover! unhappy passion! O! I am choked with rage.

SCENE III.

freeport and montross [in the coffee-room, with Fabrice’s wife, and servants putting things in order.

fabrice, lady alton.

lady alton.

[To Fabrice.

Mr. Fabrice, you see me here often; but ’tis your own fault.

fabrice.

On the contrary, madam, we could wish—

lady alton.

I am more concerned than you can be; but you shall see me again, I assure you.

[She goes out.

Edition: current; Page: [51]
fabrice.

So much the worse. What would she be at now? What a difference there is betwixt her and the beautiful patient Miss Lindon!

freeport.

True; she is, as you say, beautiful and virtuous.

fabrice.

I am sorry this gentleman never saw her; I am sure he would be greatly affected with her behavior.

montross.

[Aside.

Wretch that I am! I have other things to think of.

freeport.

I am always either on’Change or at Jamaica; but one can’t help liking now and then to see a fine woman: she is really a fine creature, a sweet behavior, a charming countenance, and has something noble in her air and demeanor.—I must see her again one day or other. ’Tis pity she’s so proud.

montross.

My landlord here informs me you behaved to her in a most generous manner.

freeport.

Who I? no. Would not you, or any man in my place, have done the same?

montross.

If I had been rich, and she had merit, I believe I might.

Edition: current; Page: [52]
freeport.

What is there in it then to be wondered at? [He takes up the papers.] Well, what news have we to-day? How’s this? Lord Falbridge dead!

montross.

Falbridge dead! the only friend I had on earth, or from whom I could expect relief? O fortune, fortune, wilt thou ever persecute me?

freeport.

Was he your friend? I am sorry for you.—“Edinburgh, April 14. Great search is being made after Lord Montross, condemned to lose his head about eleven years ago.”

montross.

Just heaven! what do I hear? What’s that, sir, Lord Montross condemned—

freeport.

Yes, sir, Lord Montross; there, sir, read it yourself.

montross.

[Looking on the paper.

’Tis so indeed. [Aside.] I must get away as fast as I can; this place is too public: sure, earth and hell conspired together never heaped so many misfortunes on one man. [To his servant.] John, let my horses be saddled, perhaps I may be going towards evening—how bad news flies!

freeport.

Bad news, why so? what signifies it whether Lord Montross is beheaded or not? everything passes away—to-day a head is cut off, to-morrow we have Edition: current; Page: [53] it in the newspapers, and next day we talk no more of it. If this Miss Lindon was not so proud, I would go and ask her how she did; she is very handsome, and a very worthy creature.

SCENE IV.

To them a King’s Messenger.

messenger.

Is your name Fabrice, sir?

fabrice.

Yes, sir, your commands with me?

messenger.

You keep a coffee-house, and let lodgings?

fabrice.

I do, sir.

messenger.

You have a young Scotch lady in your house, named Lindon?

fabrice.

I have, sir, and esteem it a great happiness.

freeport.

A most beautiful and virtuous lady; everybody tells me so.

messenger.

I come to seize her by order of the government; there’s my warrant.

fabrice.

Amazing! I shudder at the thought.

Edition: current; Page: [54]
montross.

A young Scotchwoman seized on the very day of my arrival! O my unhappy family, my country, what will become of my unfortunate daughter! she is, perhaps, the victim of my misfortunes, languishing in poverty and a prison: why was she ever born?

freeport.

I never heard of young girls being seized by order of the government: I am afraid, Mr. Messenger, you are a rascal.

fabrice.

If she is a fortune-hunter, as Wasp said, it will ruin my house; I am undone: this court lady had some reasons I see plainly—and yet she must be good and virtuous.

messenger.

Let’s have none of your reasons, sir, to prison, or give bail, that’s the rule.

fabrice.

I’ll give you bail, myself, my house, my goods, my person.

messenger.

Your person’s nothing; the house, perhaps, not your own—your goods, where are they? I must have money.

fabrice.

Good Mr. Freeport, shall I give him the five hundred pounds which she so nobly refused, and which are still in my possession?

freeport.

Ay, ay, I’ll give five hundred, a thousand, two thousand; I’ll be answerable for it, my name’s Freeport. Edition: current; Page: [55] I believe the girl’s strictly virtuous; but she should not be so proud.

messenger.

Come, sir, give us your bond.

freeport.

With all my heart.

fabrice.

’Tis not every one employs their money thus.

freeport.

To spend it in doing good is putting it out to the best interest.

[Freeport and the Messenger retire to the corner of the coffee-room to count out the money.

SCENE V.

montross, fabrice.

fabrice.

You are astonished, sir, at Mr. Freeport; but ’tis his constant practice: happy are those whom he takes a fancy to! he is no complimenter, but does a man a service in less time than others spend in making protestations about it.

montross.

[Aside.

There are still in the world some noble souls—what will become of me?

fabrice.

We must take care not to let the poor young lady know anything of the danger she has been in.

Edition: current; Page: [56]
montross.

I must be gone this night.

fabrice.

One should never tell people of their danger till it is past.

montross.

The only friend I had in London is dead: what should I do here?

fabrice.

We should make her faint away a second time.

SCENE VI.

montross.

A young Scotchwoman is seized, a person who lives retired, and is suspected by the government. I don’t know why, but this adventure throws me into deep reflections. Everything conspires to awaken the memory of my sorrows, my afflictions, my misfortunes, and my resentment.

SCENE VII.

montross.

[Seeing Polly crossing the stage.

One word with you, madam, are you that pretty amiable young lady, born in Scotland, who—

polly.

Yes, sir—I, I am tolerably young, and a Scotchwoman; and as to pretty they say I am not amiss.

Edition: current; Page: [57]
montross.

Have you any news from your own country?

polly.

No, sir, I have left it a long time.

montross.

And what are your relations, pray?

polly.

My father was an excellent baker, as I have heard, and my mother waiting-maid to a woman of quality.

montross.

O, now I understand you. You, I suppose, are servant to that young lady I have heard so much of. I was mistaken.

polly.

O sir, you do me too much honor.

montross.

You know who your mistress is, I suppose?

polly.

Yes, sir, the sweetest and most amiable of her sex, and one too who has the most fortitude in affliction.

montross.

She is in distress then?

polly.

Yes, sir, and so am I: but I had rather serve her in affliction than be ever so happy.

montross.

But don’t you know her family?

Edition: current; Page: [58]
polly.

My mistress, sir, desires to remain unknown: she has no family: sir, why do you ask me these questions?

montross.

To remain unknown! say you? O heaven, if I could at last—but ’tis a vain imagination. Tell me, pray, how old is your mistress?

polly.

One may safely tell her age. She is just eighteen.

montross.

Eighteen! the very age of my dear Montross, my lovely infant, the only remaining hope of my unhappy family—eighteen sayest thou?

polly.

Yes, sir, and I am but two and twenty, there’s no great difference between us. I see no reason why you should make so many reflections on her age.

montross.

Eighteen, and born in my country, desires to remain unknown! I cannot contain myself—by your permission I must see and talk to her immediately.

polly.

Telling him of a girl of eighteen has turned this old gentleman’s brain.—You can’t possibly see her at present, sir, she’s in the greatest distress.

montross.

For that very reason I must see her.

Edition: current; Page: [59]
polly.

O, sir, fresh griefs and calamities have torn her heart, and deprived her of her senses. She is not one of those I assure you, sire, who faint away for nothing; she is but just now come to herself, and the little rest she now enjoys is mixed with grief and bitterness. Have pity, sir, on her condition.

montross.

All you say but increases my desire. I am her countryman, and partake of her afflictions, perhaps I may be able to lessen them; permit me, I beg you, before I leave this place, to have an interview with her.

polly.

You affect me deeply, sir; stay here a few minutes. It is impossible a young lady, who has just fainted away, should be able to receive visits immediately. I’ll go to her, and come back to you soon.

SCENE VIII.

montross, fabrice.

fabrice.

[Pulling him by the sleeve.

Sir, is there nobody near us?

montross.

With what impatience shall I wait for her return!

fabrice.

Can nobody hear us?

Edition: current; Page: [60]
montross.

I can never support this anxiety.

fabrice.

They are in search of you, sir,—

montross.

Who, where, what?

fabrice.

I say, sir, they are in search of you; I cannot help interesting myself in the safety of those who lodge in my house. I don’t know who you are, sir, but I have been asked a thousand questions about you. They have surrounded the house, passing, and repassing, getting all the information they can. In short I shall not be surprised if in a little time they should pay you the same compliment as they did the young lady, who, it seems, is of the same country.

montross.

I must speak with her before I go.

fabrice.

Take my advice, sir, and get away as fast as you can; our friend, Freeport, perhaps might not be in the humor to do as much for you as for a girl of eighteen.

montross.

Pardon me, but I know not where I am; I scarce heard you—what must I do, or where can I go? my dear sir, I cannot go without seeing her: let me talk to you a little in private: I must beg you some how or other to let me have an opportunity of seeing this young lady.

Edition: current; Page: [61]
fabrice.

I told you before, you would want to see her. I assure you nothing can be more beautiful, more virtuous, or more agreeable.

End of the Third Act.

ACT IV.

SCENE I.

fabrice, wasp.

[At a table in the coffee-room.

freeport

[Smoking a pipe.

fabrice.

I must be so free as to tell you, Mr. Wasp, if I may believe all that is said of you, you would do me a favor by never coming to my house again.

freeport.

All that is said is generally false: what fly has stung you, Mr. Fabrice?

fabrice.

You come, and write your papers here, Mr. Wasp; and my coffee-house will be looked on as a poison shop.

freeport.

[To Fabrice.

This fellow seems to deserve what you say.

fabrice.

[To Wasp.

They say you speak ill of all mankind.

freeport.

Of all mankind! that’s too much indeed.

Edition: current; Page: [62]
fabrice.

They begin even to say you are an informer, and a scoundrel, but I am loth to believe them.

freeport.

[To Wasp.

Do you hear, sir? this is past raillery.

wasp.

I am an illustrious writer, sir, a man of taste.

fabrice.

Taste or no taste, sir, I say you have done me an injury.

wasp.

So far from it, sir, that I have helped off your coffee, made it fashionable to come to your house, ’tis my reputation that has brought you custom.

fabrice.

A fine reputation indeed! that of a spy, a bad author, and a worse man!

wasp.

Stop, Mr. Fabrice, if you please. You may attack my morals, but my works—I will never suffer that.

fabrice.

Your writings, sir, are not worth my consideration; but you are suspected of a design against the amiable Miss Lindon.

freeport.

If I thought so, I would drown the dog with my own hands.

Edition: current; Page: [63]
fabrice.

’Tis said, you accused her of being Scotch, and the honest gentleman too who lives above stairs.

wasp.

Well, and suppose I had, what harm is there in being of any particular country?

fabrice.

’Tis moreover reported that you have had several conferences with the agents of a certain choleric lady who comes here, and with the servants of a noble lord, who used to frequent this house: that you tell tales, and blow up quarrels.

freeport.

[To Wasp.

Are you really such a rogue? then shall I detest you.

fabrice.

O thank God! here comes my lord, if I am not mistaken.

freeport.

A lord, is it? then your humble servant, I hate a lord, as much as I do a bad writer.

fabrice.

He’s not like other lords, I assure you.

freeport.

Like other lords or not, ’tis no matter. I never love to be disturbed, so fare you well. I don’t know how it is, my friend, but I am always thinking of this young Scotchwoman—I’ll come back presently—immediately. I want to talk seriously to her—your servant. This Scotchwoman is handsome, and Edition: current; Page: [64] a good creature.—Adieu—[returning] tell her, I intend to serve her greatly.

SCENE II.

lord murray.

[Pensive and in great agitation.

wasp.

[Bowing to him, of which he takes no notice.

fabrice.

[At a distance from him.

lord murray.

[To Fabrice.

I’m glad to see you, friend: how is that charming girl you have the pleasure to boast of as your lodger here?

fabrice.

She has been very ill, sir, since she saw you: but I’m sure she will be better now.

lord murray.

Great God, thou protector of innocence, I implore thee for her; O deign to make me an instrument in doing justice to virtue, and sheltering the unfortunate from oppression! Thanks to thy goodness, and my own endeavors, I have hopes of success. Hark’ee, friend, I would talk a little with that man.

[Pointing to Wasp.

wasp.

[To Fabrice.

You see, sir, you were mistaken, and I have some credit still at court.

Edition: current; Page: [65]
fabrice.

[Going out.

That’s not quite so clear.

lord murray.

[To Wasp.

Well, my friend—

wasp.

[Bowing.

Permit me, my lord, to dedicate a volume to your lordship—

lord murray.

No, sir, we are not talking about dedications: you are the person that informed my servants of the arrival of the old gentleman just come from Scotland; you described him, and made the same report to the minister of state.

wasp.

My lord, I only did my duty.

lord murray.

[Giving him a purse.

You have done me a service without knowing it: but I don’t consider the intention. Some folks say you meant to hurt, and have done good: there’s something for your service. But if ever from this time forward you so much as pronounce the name of that gentleman, or of Miss Lindon, I’ll throw you out at window,—away, be gone, sir.

wasp.

My lord, I return you thanks; everybody abuses me, and gives me money; I am certainly a cleverer fellow than I thought I was.

Edition: current; Page: [66]

SCENE III.

lord murray.

[Alone.

An old gentleman just arrived from Scotland; Miss Lindon born in the same country! alas! if it were possible to repair the cruel injuries my father did—if heaven would graciously permit—but I’ll go in. [To Polly, who comes out of Miss Lindon’s apartment.] Polly, were not you surprised at not seeing me for so long a time? two whole days! I should not have forgiven myself had I not been engaged in my dear Miss Lindon’s service: the ministers of state were at Windsor, and I was obliged to follow them there. Heaven surely inspired thee, when thou toldst me, Polly, the secret of her birth.

polly.

I’m frightened yet, my mistress so often forbade me: were I to give her the least uneasiness I should die with grief. Alas! sir, your absence this very day threw her into a fainting fit, and I believe I should have fainted too, if I had not exerted all my strength to assist her.

lord murray.

There, Polly, there’s something for the fainting fit you had like to have fallen into.

[Gives her money.

polly.

My lord, I thank you; I am not so high spirited as my mistress, who refuses to accept of anything; and pretends to be quite at her ease, when she is absolutely starving.

Edition: current; Page: [67]
lord murray.

Good heaven! the daughter of Montross reduced to poverty! how guilty am I! but I will repair everything, her condition shall soon be changed: why would she so long conceal it from me?

polly.

’Tis the only thing in which she deceived you, or I believe ever will.

lord murray.

But let us go in, I long to throw myself at her feet.

polly.

O my lord, not yet; she is now with an old gentleman, a very old gentleman, who is her countryman, and they are saying such tender things.

lord murray.

Who is this old gentleman? methinks I am already interested in his favor.

polly.

I know nothing of him.

lord murray.

Would to God he were the person I wish him to be! and what did they say to each other?

polly.

They began to grow very serious, the gentleman seemed to wish me out of the room, and so I came away.

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SCENE IV.

lady alton, lord murray, polly.

lady alton.

So, sir, at last I’ve caught you: thou base perfidious man, now sir, I am convinced of your inconstancy, and my own disgrace.

lord murray.

True, madam, you are so. [Aside.] what an unseasonable intrusion!

lady alton.

Perfidious monster!

lord murray.

A monster I may appear in your eyes, and I am glad of it; but perfidious I never was; ’tis not my character: before I loved another, I frankly told you I had no longer any regard for you.

lady alton.

After a promise of marriage, wretch, after so many protestations of love!

lord murray.

When I made those protestations I loved you, and when I promised to marry you, I meant to do so.

lady alton.

And why then did not you keep your word? what prevented you?

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lord murray.

Your character, your fiery temper and disposition: marriage was intended to make us happy, and I saw too plainly we were not made for each other.

lady alton.

And so you have quitted me for a wandering lady errant, a poor fortune-hunter.

lord murray.

No, madam, I leave you for softness and good-nature, for every grace, and every virtue.

lady alton.

But you are not yet possessed of her: know, traitor, I will be revenged, and speedily too.

lord murray.

I know your vindictive temper, know you have more envy than jealousy, more rage than tenderness, but you will be forced to honor and respect the woman I love.

lady alton.

I know the object of your affection, sir, better than you do; know I who she is; I know too who that stranger is, who came hither yesterday: yes sir, I am acquainted with it all, and so are they who have more power and authority than Lord Murray: that unworthy rival, for whom I am despised, shall soon be seized and taken from you.

lord murray.

What says she, Polly? I’m terrified at the thought.

polly.

And so am I. We are undone, sir.

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lord murray.

Stay, madam, explain yourself—hear me.

lady alton.

I’ll hear nothing, answer nothing, explain nothing: you are an inconstant, false-hearted, perfidious villain.

[Exit.

SCENE V.

lord murray, polly.

lord murray.

What does this fury mean? her jealousy is terrible: heaven grant I never may be jealous! she talks of having my dear girl seized, and pretends to know this stranger. What would she be at?

polly.

To tell you the truth, my mistress has been taken up by order of the government, and I too, I believe; and if it had not been for an honest fat man, who is goodness itself, and who gave in bail for us, we had both been in prison at this very time. They had made me swear not to tell you anything of it: but how can I conceal it from you?

lord murray.

What do I hear? misfortune on misfortune! your mistress’s very name I find is suspected. Alas! my family was born to be the destruction of hers: heaven, fortune, justice, and love would repair all, but guilt opposes me. It shall not, must not triumph; do not alarm my dear girl. I’ll go myself to the ministry! Try everything, do everything to save Edition: current; Page: [71] her. I’ll deny myself the happiness of seeing her till I can assure her of success. I fly, Polly, to serve her, and will return immediately. Tell her I have left only because I adore her.

[Going out.

polly.

This is a strange adventure. I see this world is nothing but a perpetual contest between the virtuous and the wicked, and we poor girls are always the sufferers.

SCENE VI.

montross, miss lindon.

[Nods to Polly, who goes out.

montross.

Every word you utter pierces my soul: born in Lochaber! persecuted, oppressed, and deserted! a woman with such noble sentiments!

miss lindon.

Those sentiments, sir, perhaps are owing to my misfortunes: had I been brought up in ease and luxury, my soul, which is fortified by adversity, had been weak and vain.

montross.

O thou art worthy of a nobler fate. You acknowledge to me you are sprung from one of the proscribed families, whose blood was shed on a scaffold in our civil wars. But still you conceal from me your name and birth.

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miss lindon.

Duty binds me to silence. My father himself was proscribed: they are even now in search of him, and were I to name perhaps I might destroy him. You inspire me, I own, with uncommon tenderness and respect, but I know you not, and I have everything to fear. You see I am myself suspected, and am a prisoner here. One word might ruin me.

montross.

One word perhaps might give me the greatest comfort: but tell me only what age you were of when you parted from your father, who was afterwards so unhappy?

miss lindon.

I was then but five years old.

montross.

Great God, have mercy on me! everything she says contributes to throw new light on my dark paths! O providence, do not withdraw thy goodness from me!

miss lindon.

You weep, sir, alas! nor can I help joining my tears with yours.

montross.

[Wiping his eyes.

Go on, I conjure you: after your father had quitted his family to see it no more, how long did you remain with your mother?

miss lindon.

I was ten years old when she died in my arms, oppressed with grief and misery, and after she had heard that my brother was killed in battle.

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montross.

O, I faint; what a dreadful moment! O thou dear, unhappy wife, and thou more fortunate son, to die without seeing so much misery! do you remember this picture?

[Takes a picture out of his pocket.

miss lindon.

What do I see? is this a dream? surely ’tis my mother’s picture.

montross.

It is, it is your mother; and I am that unhappy father who is condemned to death, whose trembling arms now embrace thee.

miss lindon.

Do I live? where am I? O, sir, behold me at your knees: this is the first happy moment of my life: O, my father! alas! how darest you venture hither? I tremble for you, even whilst I am thus happy in your sight.

montross.

My dearest child, you know the misfortunes of our family; you know that the house of Murray, still jealous of ours, plunged us into these calamities. I have lost all: one friend alone remained, who by his interest and power might have restored me, and had promised it; but on my arrival here, I find that friend is dead, that I am searched after in Scotland, and a price put on my head. ’Tis, no doubt, the son of my old enemy who still persecutes me: I will die by his hand, or be revenged on him.

miss lindon.

And come you then with a resolution to kill Lord Murray?

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montross.

Yes: I will avenge you and my family, or die. I only hazard a life already devoted to the scaffold.

miss lindon.

O fortune, in what new horrors dost thou involve me! what must I do? O my father!

montross.

My dearest daughter! how cruel is thy fate to be born of such a wretched father!

miss lindon.

O sir, I am much more unhappy than you think me: are you resolved on this fatal enterprise?

montross.

Ay, to death.

miss lindon.

O, my dear father, let me conjure you by that life which you gave me, by your misfortunes, by my own, which are, perhaps, still greater, do not expose me to the dread of losing you; have pity on me, spare your own life, and preserve mine.

montross.

Your voice reaches to my inmost soul: methinks I hear in thee, thy much-loved mother; speak, what would you?

miss lindon.

Do not expose your precious life, but quit this dangerous place, dangerous for us both: yes, I am resolved I will renounce all for my dear father’s sake. I am ready to follow you, I will accompany you, sir, to some far distant island, and there these Edition: current; Page: [75] hands shall labor to support you. It is my duty, and I will perform it: ’tis done, away.

montross.

I must not then avenge you?

miss lindon.

No, sir, that vengeance would destroy me: come, let us be gone.

montross.

Well, I submit. The father’s love prevails over all: since you have the courage to accompany me, I will go: I will prepare everything for our departure from London within this hour: be ready: one more embrace, and farewell.

SCENE VII.

miss lindon, polly.

miss lindon.

’Tis all over, Polly: I shall never see Lord Murray again.

polly.

Indeed, madam, but you will; he’ll be here in a few minutes: he is but just gone from hence.

miss lindon.

Gone from hence! and not see me; this is worse than all. O my unhappy father! why did we not go before?

polly.

If he had not been interrupted by that detestable Lady Alton.

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miss lindon.

What! did he meet her here after all to insult me! after leaving me for three days without so much as writing! to affront me so grossly. O if my life were not necessary to my dear father, this moment would I part from it.

polly.

But hear me, madam, I swear to you my lord.—

miss lindon.

Perfidious wretch! but all men are so. O my poor father! hereafter I will think on none but thee.

polly.

On my soul, madam, you are wrong; my lord is not false or perfidious, but one of the best of men: he loves you from his soul, and has given me convincing proofs of it.

miss lindon.

Nature should be superior to love. I know not whither I am going, or what will become of me; but certainly I can never be more miserable than I am at present.

polly.

My dear mistress, you will hear nothing; recover your spirits a little: I tell you, you are beloved.

miss lindon.

O Polly, will you follow me?

polly.

To the end of the world, madam: but hear me; you are beloved, indeed you are.

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lf0060-09_figure_005.jpg
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miss lindon.

Let me alone; talk no more to me of my lord: alas! if he did love me, I must leave him—that gentleman you saw with me—

polly.

Well—

miss lindon.

Come in, and I’ll tell you all: tears and sighs will not let me speak: follow me, and get everything ready for our departure.

End of the Fourth Act.

ACT V.

SCENE I.

miss lindon, freeport, fabrice.

fabrice.

Polly, I find, is packing up your things; you are going to leave us: you can’t imagine, madam, the concern it gives me.

miss lindon.

My dear landlord, and you, sir, to whom I am so much indebted for your unmerited generosity, I am sorry it is not in my power to return it; but be assured I shall never, whilst I have life, forget you.

freeport.

What is all this, what is all this? if you like us, why do you leave us? you aren’t afraid of anything are you? a girl, like you, can have nothing to fear.

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fabrice.

Mr. Freeport, the old gentleman, who it seems is her countryman, is going too. The lady wept, and he wept, at parting; and I am ready to weep too.

freeport.

Ridiculous! I never wept in my life: our eyes were never given us for that purpose: I own I’m sorry. Though she is a little proud, as I told you, yet she is such a good creature, one can’t help being concerned at losing her. If you go, madam, you must write to me; I shall always be glad to do you any service: perhaps we may meet again one day or other, who knows! but be sure you don’t forget to write to me.

miss lindon.

I assure you, sir, I will; and if ever fortune—

freeport.

Fabrice, I’m sure this woman is well-born. I shall expect a letter from you, but don’t put too much wit into it.

fabrice.

You will forgive me, madam, but I really don’t think you are at liberty to go hence, as Mr. Freeport is bail for you, and must lose five hundred pounds if you leave us.

miss lindon.

O heaven! another distress! another humiliation! must I then remain here? and my lord—my father too.—

freeport.

[To Fabrice.

O don’t let that stop her—there is something in her that charms me—but let her go as soon as she Edition: current; Page: [79] pleases: you don’t suppose I value five hundred pounds. Hark’ee, Fabrice, put five hundred more into her portmanteau. I beg, madam, [to Miss Lindon] you will go whenever it is agreeable to you; write to me, and let me see you when you return; for I have really conceived a great esteem and affection for you.

SCENE II.

lord murray and servants at one part of the stage, miss lindon and the rest at the other.

lord murray.

[To his servants.

Stay you here: and do you run to the court of chancery, and bring me those parchments as soon as they are finished: go you and get things ready at my new house. [Pulls a paper out of his pocket, and reads.] What happiness it will be to make her happy!

miss lindon.

[To Polly.

O Polly, I am distracted at the sight of him.

freeport.

This lord always comes in unseasonably: he is handsome and well-made, and yet I don’t like him: but what’s that to me? I have certainly some regard for her; but I am not in love with her.—Madam, your servant.

miss lindon.

I shall not go, sir, without paying my respects to you.

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freeport.

O pray, madam, no ceremony; perhaps it may affect me too much. Don’t think I’m in love with you, madam; but I should be glad to see you once more before you go: I shall be in the house, and must see you set out. Go, Fabrice, and help the good gentleman above. I find I have a prodigious regard for this young lady.

SCENE III.

lord murray, miss lindon.

lord murray.

At length once more I am happy in the sight of all I hold dear on earth. What a house is this for Miss Lindon! but one more worthy of her is prepared: you look down and weep: for heaven’s sake what has happened to you? who was that surly looking fellow talking with you? if he is the cause of your uneasiness, he shall soon repent it.

miss lindon.

Alas! my lord, he is one of the best of men; one who has taken pity on my misfortunes; who has never abandoned, never insulted me; one who never talked to my rival without deigning to look on me; one who, if he had loved me, would not have let three days pass without writing.

lord murray.

Believe me, when I tell you, I had rather die than merit the least of those cruel reproaches. I absented myself but for your sake, thought of nothing but you, and have served you in spite of yourself: if, on Edition: current; Page: [81] my return here, I found that clamorous revengeful woman, could I help it? I went back again immediately to counteract her fatal designs. My God, not write to you!

miss lindon.

No.