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THEODOSIUS:

OR,

THE FORCE OF LOVE.

BY

NATHANIEL LEE.

PROLOGUE.

Wir long opprest, and fill'd at last with rage, True rogues, their own, not god's elect, command. Thus in a sullen mood rebukes the age :

Let pigs then be prophane; but broth’s allow'd, What loads of fame do modern heroes bear, Possets and christian caudles may be good, For an inglorious, long, and lazy war?

Meat helps, to reinforce a brother's blood; Who for some skirmish, or a safe retreat, Therefore each female saint he doth advise, (Not to be dragg'd to battle) are called great.

With

groans, and hums, and ha's, and goggling But oh, what do ambitious statesmen gain,

eyes, Who into private chests whole nations drain ? To rub him down, and make the spirit rise; What sums of gold they hoard, is daily known, While with his zeal transported from the ground, To all men's cost, and sometimes to their own. He mounts, and sanctifies the sisters round. Your lawyer too, that like an oyes bawls, On poets only no kind star e'er smil'd; That drowns the market-higler in the stalls, Curst fate has damn’d 'em every mother's child: That seems begot, conceiv'd, and born in Therefore he warns his brothers of the stage, brawls,

To write no more for an ungrateful age. Yet thrives : he and his crowd get what they Think what penurious masters you have serv'd; please,

Tasso run mad, and noble Spencer starv'd: Swarming all term-time through the Strand Turn then, whoe're thou art that canst write like bees,

well, They buz at Westminster, and lie for fees. Thy ink to gall

, and in lampoons excel. The godly too their ways of getting have, Forswear all honesty, traduce the great, But none so much as your fanatic knave : Grow impudent, and rail against the state; Wisely the wealthiest livings they refuse, Bursting with spleen, abroad thy pasquils send, Who by the fattest bishoprics would lose ; And chuse some libel-spreader for thy friend : Who with short hair, large ears, and small blue The wit and want of Timon point thy mind, band,

And for thy satyr-subject chuse mankind.

DRAMATIS PERSONE.

MEN.

WOMEN.
THEODOSIUS, emperor of Constantinople. PULCHERIA, elder sister of THEODOSIUS.
VARANES, his friend, prince of Persia. ATHENAIS, daughter of LEONTINE.
MARCIAN, general of the Roman army. JULIA.
Lucius, a soldier, his friend.

DELIA.
ATTICUS, chief priest.

Attendants, Singers, Chorus.
LEONTINE, father to ATHENAIS.
ARANTHES, friend to VARANES.

SCENE,--Constantinople,

ACT I.

To-day with Theodosius leave the world. SCENE I.-A stately Temple, which represents Leont. Methinks at such a glorious resignathe Christian religion, us in its first magnifi

tion, cence, being but lately established at Rome and The angelic orders should at once descend, Constantinople. The side scenes shew the hor- In all the paint and drapery of heaven, rid toriures, with which the Roman tyrants With charming voices, and with luitling strings, persecuted the church; and the flat scene, To give full grace to such triumphant zeal. which is the limit of the prospect, discovers an Attic. No, Leontine; I fear there is a fauit: altar richly adorned, before which Constantine For when I last confessed the emperor, is seen kneeling, with commanders about him, Whether disgust and melancholy blood, gazing at a bloody cross in the air, which, being From restless passions, urg'd not this divorce? encompassed with many angels, offers itself to He only answered me with sighs and blushes. vien, with those words distinctly written, In 'Tis sure, his soul is of the tenderest make, hoc signo vinces ! instruments are heard, and Therefore I'll tax him strictly: but, my friend, many attendants. The ministers, at divine ser- Why should I give his character to you, vice, wulk busily up and down, till Atticus, Who, when his father sent him into Persia, the chief of all the priests, and successor of St Were by that mighty monarch then appointed Chrysostom, in rich robes, comes forward with To breed him with his son, the prince Varanes. the philosopher LEONTINE; the waiters in Leont. And what will raise your admiration is, ranks, bowing all the way before him.

That two such difierent tempers should agree :

You know that Theodosius is compos'd
A chorus heard at distance.

Of all the softness that should make a woman; Prepare, prepare ! the rites begin,

Judgment almost like fear fore-runs his actions, Let none unhallowed enter in.

And he will poise an injury so long,
The temple with new glory shines ;

As if he had rather pardon than revenge it: Adorn the altars, wash the shrines,

But the young Persian prince quite opposite, And purge the place from sin.

So fiery fierce, that those who view him nearly

May see his haughty soul still mounting in his Attic. O Leontine! was ever morn like this,

face; Since the celestial incarnation dawn'd?

Yet did I study these so different tempers, I think no day, since that, such glory gave

Till I at last bad formed a perfect union, To Christian altars, as this morning brings. As if two souls did but inforin one body;

Leont, Great successor of holy Chrysostom, A friendship that may challenge all the world, Who now triumphs above, a saint of honour, And at the proof be matchless. Next in degree to those bright sons of heaven, Attic. I long to read Who never fell, nor stain’d their orient beams; This gallant prince, who, as you have informed me, What shall I answer? How shall I approach you

Comes from his father's court to see our emperor. Since my conversion, which your breath inspir’d? Leont. So he intended till he came to Athens, Attic. To see, this day, the emperor of the And at my homely board beheld my daughter; east

Where, as fate ordered, she,—who never saw Leave all the pleasures that the earth can yield, The glories of a court, bred up to books That nature can bestow, or art invent,

In closets like a Sybil,--she, I say, In his life's spring, and bloom of gaudy years, Long since from Persia brought by me to Athens, To undergo the penance of a cloyster,

Unskill'd in charins, but those which nature gave Confined to narrow rooms, and gloomy walks,

her, Fastings, and exercises of devotion,

Wounded this scornful prince. In short, he Which from his bed at midnight must awake

forced me him,

To wait him thither, with deep protestations, Methinks, O Leontine! is something more, That moment that bereft him of the sight Than yet philosophy could ever reach.

Of Athenais, gave him certain death. Leont. True, Atticus; you have amaz’d my

Enter VARANES and ATHENAIS. Atlic. Yet more, to our religion's lasting ho- But see my daughter honoured with his pre

nour, Marina and Flavilla, two young virgins,

Varu.'Tis strange, 0 Athenais! wonil'rous all; Imperial born, cast in the fairest mould, Wond'rous the shrines, and wonderful the altars! That e'er the hands of beauty form’d for woman; The martyrs, though but drawn in painted Aames, The mirrors of our court, where chastity Amaze me with the image of their sufferings; And innocence might copy spotless lustre; Saints canoniz'd that dared with Roman tyrants,

reason.

sence.

Hermits that liv'd in caves, and fed with angels, - | I fear would forfeit all his vows to heaven, By Orosmades, it is wond'rous all.

And fix upon thy world, thy world of beauty. That bloody cross, in yonder azure sky,

[Ereunt. Above the head of kneeling Constantine, Inscribed about with golden characters,

Enter THEODOSIus leading MARINA and FLA• Thou shalt o'ercome in this ;' if it be true,

VILLA (all three drest in white) followed by I say again, by heaven, 'tis wond'rous strange.

PULCHERIA. Åthen. O prince, if thus imagination stirs you, Theo. Farewell, Pulcheria! and I pray, no A fancy rais'd from figures in dead walls,

more; How would the sacred breath of Atticus For all thy kind complaints are lost upon me. Inspire your breast, purge all your dross

away, Have I not sworn the world and I must part? And drive this Athenais from your soul, Fate has proclaimed it, therefore weep no more; To make a virgin room, whom yet the mould Wound not the tenderest part of Theodosius, Of your rude fancy cannot comprehend ! My yielding soul, that would expire in calms ! Varu. What says my fair? Drive Athenais Wound me not with thy tears, and I will tell from me!

thee, Start me not into frenzy, lest I rail

Yet ere I take my last farewell for ever, At all religion, and fall out with heaven.

The cause of all my sufferings. Oh, my sister! And what is she, alas, that should supplant thee? A bleeding heart, the stings of pointed love, Were she the mistress of the world, as fair What constitution soft as mine can bear? As winter stars, or summer setting suns,

Pulch. My lord, my emperor, my dearest broAnd thou set by in nature's plainest dress,

ther, With that chaste modest look when first I saw Why all this while did you conceal it from me? thee,

Theo. Because I was ashamed to own my The heiress of a poor philosopher,

weakness; (Recorders ready to flourish. I knew thy sharper wit, and stricter wisdom, I swear by all I wish, by all I love,

Would dart reproofs, which I could not endure. Glory and thee, I would not lose a thought, Draw near, 0 Atticus, and mark me well, Nor cast an eye that way, but rush to thee, For never yet did my complaining spirit To these loved arms, and lose myself for ever. Unload this weighty secret upon him, Athen. Forbear, my lord.

Nor groan a syllable of her oppression. Vara. O cruel Athenais!

Attic. Concealment was a fault; but speak at Why dost thou put me off, who pine to death,

large, And thrust me from thee when I would approach Make bare the wound, and I will pour in balm. thee?

Theo. 'Tis folly all, and fondness.-0, rememCan there be aught in this? Curse then thy

brance! birth-right,

Why dost thou open thus my wound again, Thy glorious titles and ill-suited greatness, And from my heart call down those warmer drops Since Athenais scorns thee. Take again That make me die with shame? Hear then, Pula Your ill-timed honours; take'em, take 'em, gods !

cheria! And change me to some humble villager, Some few preceding days before I left If so at last for toils at scorching noon,

The Persian court, hunting one morning early, In mowing meadows, or in reaping fields, I lost myself and all the company. At night she will but crown me with a smile, Still wandering on as fortune would direct me, Or reach the bounty of her hand to bless me. I past a rivulet, and alighted in Athen. When princes speak, their subjects The sweetest solitude I ever saw. should be silent;

When straight, as if enchantment had been there, Yet with humility I would demand,

Two charming voices drew me, till I came Wherein appears my scorn, or my aversion ? Where divers arbours overlook'd the river. Have I not for your sake abandoned home, Upon the osier bank two women sate, Where I had vowed to spend my calmer days? Who, when their song was ended, talk'd to one, But you perhaps imagine it but little

Who, bathing, stood far in the crystal stream. For a poor maid to follow you abroad,

But oh, what thought can paint that fair perfece Especially the daughter of old Leontine;

tion, Yet I must tell you, prince,

Or give a glimpse of such a naked glory! Vara. I cannot bear

Not sea-born Venus, in the courts beneath, Those frowns: I have offended, but forgive me. When the green nymphs first kiss'd her coral lips, For who, Athenais, that is toss'd

All polish'd, fair, and wash'd with orient beauty, With such tempestuous tides of love as I, Could in my dazzling fancy match her brightness. Can steer a steady course? Retire, my fair, Attic. Think where you are.

[Recorders flourish. Theo. O, sir, you must forgive me! Hark! the solemnities are now beginning, The chaste enthusiastic form appears, And Theodosius comes. Hide, hide thy charms ! As when I saw her; yet I swear, Pulcheria, If to his clouded eyes such day should break, Had cold Diana been a looker-on, The royal youth, who dotes to death for love, She must have praised the virtues of the virgin

The satyrs could not grin, for she was veil'd; I run the race of lusty youth again.
Nothing immodest, from her naked bosom

Vara. By heaven it joys me too when I reDown to her knees, the nymph was wrapt in

member lawn :

Our thousand pastimes !when we borrow'd names, But oh for me! for me, that was too much ! Alcides I, and thou my dearest Theseus ; Her legs, her arms, her hands, her neck, her when through the woods we chas'd the foaming breasts,

boar, So nicely shap'd, so matchless in their lustre, With hounds that open'd like Thessalian bulls, Such all-perfection, that I took whole draughts Like tygers flu’d, and sanded as the shoar, Of killing love, and ever since have languish'd With ears and chests that dash'd the morning With ling'ring surfeits of her fatal beauty!

dew: Alas, too fatal, sure! O Atticus,

Driv'n with the sport, as ships are tost in storms, Forgive me, for my story now is done.

Weran like winds, and matchless was our course; The nymph was drest, and with her two compa- Now sweeping o'er the limit of a hill, nions,

Now with a full career come thund'ring down Having descry'd me, shriek’d and fled away, The precipice, and sweat along the vale. Leaving me motionless, till Leontine,

Theo. O glorious time ! and when the gatherThe instructor of my youth, by chance came in,

ing clouds And wak'd me from the wonder that entranc'd me. Have called us home, say, did we rest, my

broAttic. Behold, my lord, the man whom you

ther? have namd,

When on the stage, to the admiring court, The harbinger of prince Varanes, here.

We strove to represent Alcides' fury, Theo. O Leontine! ten thousand welcomes In all that raging heat, and pomp.

of madness, meet thee!

With which the stately Seneca adorned him; Thou foster-father of my tender youth,

So lively drawn, and painted with such horror, Who rear’d the plant, and prun'd it with such That we were forced to give it o'er; so loud care,

The virgins shriek’d, so fast they died away. How shall I look upon thec, who am fallen Vara. My Theodosius still ! 'tis my

lov'd bro From all the principles of manlier reason,

ther; By thee infus'd, to more than woinan's weakness? And by the gods we'll see those times again! Now by the majesty divine, that awes

Why then has rumour wrong'd thee, that reThis sacred place, I swear you must not kneel;

ported And tell me, for I have a thousand things Christian enthusiasm had charm’d thee from us; To ask thee, where, where is my godlike friend? That, drawn by priests, and work'd by melanIs he arriv'd, and shall I see his face,

choly, Before I am cloyster'd from the world for ever ? Thou’dst laid the golden reins of empire down, Leont. He comes, my lord, with all the ex. And sworn thyself a votary for ever! pecting joys

Theo. 'Tis almost true; and had not you arOf a young promis'd lover; from his

riv'd, Big hopes look forth, and boiling fancy forms The solemn business had by this been ended. Nothing but Theodosius still before him; This I have made the empress of the east, His thought, his every word, is Theodosius. My eldest sister; these with me reti

Theo. Yet, Leontine, yet answer me once more, Devoted to the pow'r whom we adore. With tremblings I demand thee,

Vara. What power is that, that merits such Say, hast thou seen,-Oh, has that heavenly

oblations? form

I thought the sun more great and glorious, Appears to thee again ?-Behold he's dumb ! Than any that e'er mingled with the gods; Proceed then to the solemn last farewell; Yet even to him my father never offer'd Never was man so willing, and prepar'd.

More than a hecatomb of bulls and horses :

Now by those golden beams, that glad the world, Enter VARANES, ARANTHES, and Attendants. I swear it is too much ! For one of these, Vara. Where is my friend! oh where is my But half so bright, our god would drive no more, belov'd,

He'd leave the darken'd globe, and in some cave My Theodosius ! Point him out, ye gods, Enjoy such charms for ever. That I may press him dead betwixt my arms, Aitic, My lord, forbear! Devour him thus with over-hasty joys,

Such language does not suit with our devotion: That languish at his breast, quite out of breath, Nothing prophane must dare to murmur here, And cannot utter more!

Nor stain the hallow'd beauties of the place. Theo. Thou mightiest pleasure,

Yet, thus far we must yield; the emperor And greatest blessing, that kind heaven could Is not enough prepar’d to leave the world. send,

Vara. Thus low, most reverend of this sacred To glad my parting soul, a thousand welcomes !

place, 0, when I look on thee, new starts of glory I kneel for pardon, and am half-converted, Spring in my breast, and, with a backward bound, By your permission that my Thcodosius

eyes

Return to my embraces. O my brother!
Why dost thou droop? There will be time

enough
For prayer and fasting, and religious vows;
Let us enjoy, while yet thou art my own,
All the magnificence of eastern courts ;
I hate to walk a lazy life away:
Let's run the race which fate has set before us,
And post to the dark goal.

Theo. Cruel destiny ! Why am not I thus too, O my Varanes ! Why are these costly dishes set before me? Why do these sounds of pleasure strike my ears, Why are these joys brought to my sick remem

brance, Who have no appetite, but am to sense, From head to foot, all a dead palsy o'er? Vara. Fear not, my friend, all shall be well

again ; For I have thousand ways, and thousand stories, To raise thee up to pleasure: we'll unlock Our fastest secrets, shed upon each other Our tender'st cares, and quite unbar those doors, Which shall be shut to all mankind beside. Attic. Silence and reverence are the temple's

dues :
Therefore, while we pursue the sacred rites,
. Be these observ'd, or quit the awful place.--
Imperial sisters, now twin-stars of heaven,
Answer the successor of Chrysostom;
Without least reservation answer me,
By those harmonious rules I charg'd ye learn.

ATTICUS sings.
Attic. Canst thou, Marina, leave the world,

The world that is devotion's bane,
Wherecrownsaretost, and sceptreshurld

Where lust and proud ambition reign ?
Priest. Can you your costly robes forbear,

To live with us in poor attire?
Can you from courts to cells repair,

To sing at midnight in our quire ? 3 Priest. Can you forget your golden beds,

Where you might sleep beyond the morn,
On mats to lay your royal heads,

And have your beauteous tresses shorn ?
Attic. Can you resolve to fast all day,

And weep and groan to be forgiven ?
Can you in broken slumbers pray,

And by affliction merit heao'n?
Chor. Suy, votaries, can this be done ? -

While we the grace divine implore,
The world has lost, the battle's won,

And sin shall never charm ye more. Marina The gate to bliss does open stand, sings. And all my penance is in view ;

The world, upon the other hand,
Cries out, do not bid adieu !

Yet, sacred sirs, in these ertremes,
Where pomp and pride their glories tell;
Where youth and beauty are the themes,
And plead their moving cause so well ;
If aught that's vain my thoughts possess,
Ör any passions govern here,
But what divinity may bless,

O may I never enter there ! Flavilla What can pomp or glory do ; sings. Or what can human charms persuade;

That mind that has a heav'n in view,
How can it be by earth betrayed ?
No monarch full of youth and fame,
The joy of eyes, and nature's pride,
Should once my thoughts from heav'n te

claim,
Though now he woo'd me for his bride.
Haste then, oh haste, and take us in!
For ever lock Religion's door,
Secure us from the charms of sin,

And let us see the world no more. Attic. Hark! hark ! behold the heavenly choir, sings. They cleave the air in bright attire,

And see his lute each angel brings,
And, hark, divinely thus he sings!
To the pow'rs divine all glory be given,

By men upon earth, and angels in heaven.
Scene shuts, and all the Priests, with

MARINA and FLAV. disappear. Pulch. For ever gone! for ever parted from O Theodosius, till this cruel moment I never knew how tenderly I lov'd them; But on this everlasting separation, Methinks my soul has left me, and my time Of dissolution points me to the grave. Theo. O my Varanes, does not now thy tem

per Bate something of its fire? dost thou not melt In mere compassion of my sisters' fate, And cool thyself with one relenting thought ? Vara. Yes, my dar'd soul rolls inward; melan

choly, Which I ne'er felt before, now comes upon me, And I begin to loath all human greatness. Oh! sigh not then, nor thy hard fate deplore, For, 'tis resolv'd, we will be kings no more: We'll fly all courts, and love shall be our guide; Love, that's more worth than all the world be

side, Princes are barr’d the liberty to roam, The fetter'd mind still languishes at home; In golden bands she treads the thoughtful round, Business and cares eternally abound. And when for air the goddess would unbind, She's clogged with scepters and to crowns confin’d.

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