Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

ACT II.

out.

And still, when e'er occasion calls for arms,
SCENE I.

Heav'n send the emperor a general

Renown'd as Marcian; as to what is past, Enter PULCHERIA, JULIA, Attendants.

I think the world will rather praise than censure Pulch. These packets for the emperor Honorius; Pulcheria, when she pardons you the action. Be swift, let the agent haste to Rome,

Marc. Gods! gods! and thou, great founder I hear, my Julia, that our general

of old Rome! Is from the Goths returned with conquest home. What is become of all that mighty spirit,

Jul. He is; to-day I saw him in the presence, Thạt rais'd our empire to a pitch so high? Sharp to the courtiers, as he ever was

Where is it pent? What but almighty power Because they went not with him to the wars. Could thus confine it, that but ome tew atons To you he bows, and sues to kiss your hand. Now run through all the east and occident? Pulch. He shall, my dearest Julia ; oft I have Pulch. Speak calmly, Marcian. told thee

Marc. Who can be temperate, The secret of my soul: If e'er I marry,

That thinks as Ido, madam! Why here's a fellow, Marcian's my husband; he is a man, my Julia, I have seen him fight against a troop of Vandals Whom I have studied long, and found him

perfect : In your defence, as if he lov'd to bleed :Old Rome at every glance looks through his eyes, Come to my arms, my dear! Thou canst not talk, And kindles the beholders : Some sharp atoms But hast a soul above the proudest of 'em.Run through his frame, which I could wish were 0, madam, when he has been all o'er blood,

And hack'd with wounds that seem'd to mouth He sickens at the softness of the emperor,

his praises, And speaks too freely of our female court; I've seen him sinile still as he push'd death Then sighs, comparing it with what Rome was.

from him,

And with his actions rally distant fate.
Enter MARCIAN and LUCIUS.

Pulch. He has a noble form. Pulch. Ha! who are these that dare prophane Marc. Yet even this man, this place

That fought so bravely in his country's cause, With more than barb'rous insolence ?

This excellent man, this morning in the presence, Marc. At your feet,

Did I see wrong'd before the emperor, Behold I cast the scourge of these offenders, Scorn'd and despis'd because he could not cringe, And kneel to kiss your hand,

Nor plant his feet as some of them could do. Putch. Put up your sword,

One said his clothes were not well made, and And ere I bid you welcome from the wars,

damn'd Be sure you clear your honour of this rudeness, His taylor-Another said, he look'd Or, Marcian, leave the court.

As if he had not lost his maidenhead. Marc. Thus then, madam.

If things are suffer'd to be thus, down all The emperor

receiv'd me with affection, Authority, pre-eminence, degree and virtue; Embrac'd me for my conquests, and retir'd; Let Rome be never mention'd; no, in the name When on a sudden all the gilded flies,

Of all the gods, be she forgotten ever. That buzabout the court,came fluttering round me: Effeminate Persians, and the Lydian softness, This, with affected cringes, and minc'd words, Make all your fights; Marcian shall out no more: Begs me to tell my tale of victories;

For, by my arms, it makes a woman of me, Which done, hethanks me, slips behind his fellow, And my swoln eyes run o'er to think this worth, Whispers him in the ear, then smiles and lis- This fuller honour than the whole court holds, tens,

Should be ridiculous to knaves and fools; While I relate my story once again :

Should starve for want of what is necessary A third comes in, and asks me the same favour; To life's convenience, when luxurious bawds Whereon they laugh, while I, still ignorant, Areso o'er grown with fat, and cramm’d withriot, Go on; but one behind, more impudent, That they can hardly walk without an engine. Strikes on my shoulder; then they laugh outright. Puich. Why did you not inform the emperor? But then, I, guessing the abuse too late,

Marc. Because he will not hear me. Alas, Return'd my knight behind a box o'th' ear ;

good man! Thendrew, and briefly told them they were rascals. He flies from this bad world, and still, when wars They, laughing still, cry'dout the general's musty;' And dangers come, he runs to his devotions, Whereon I drove 'em, madam, as you saw. To your new thing, I know not what you call it, This is, in short, the truth, I leave the judgment Which Constantine began. To your own justice; if I have done ill,

Pulch. How, Marcian! are not you of that Sentence me, and I'll leave the court for ever. Religion which the emperor owns ? Pulch. First, you are welcome, Marcian, from Marc. No, madam; if you'll see my naked the Wars;

thought,

ness.

I am not of their principle, that take

That I might put 'em once again in heart, A wrong; so far from bearing with a foe, I said 'twas true, the emperor was to blame, I would strike first : like old Rome, I would fortn, Who dealt too coldly with his faithful servants, Elbow the neighbouring nations round about, And paid their great arrears by second hand: Invade, enlarge my empire to the bounds I promis'd, too, when we returned to court, Of the too narrow universe. Yes, I own Things should be mendedThat I despise your holy innovations.

But how!-oh gods, forgive my blood this tranI am for the Roman gods, for funeral piles,

sport!
For mounting eagles, and the fancied greatness To the cternal shame of female councils,
Of our forefathers. Methinks my heated spirit And to the blast of Theodosius' name,
Could utter things worth losing of my

head. Whom never warlike chronicle shall mention, Pulch. Speak freely, Marcian, fors know thee O let me speak it with a Roman spirit !honest.

We were received like undone prodigals, Marc. O, madam, long, long may the empe- By curst ungrateful stewards, with cold looks, ror live!

Who yet got all by those poor wretches' ruin, But, I must say, his gentle disposition

Like malefactors, at the hands of justice. Suits not, alas, the oriental sway.

I blush, I almost weep with bursting rage; Bid him but look on Pharamond: O gods ! If thus receiv’d, how paid our long arrears? Awake himwith the image of that spirit, Why, as intrusted misers pay the rights Which, like a pyramid revers’d, is grown Of helpless widows, or the orphans' tears. Ev'n from a point to the most dreadful great- O soldier,-for to thee, to thee I speak it,

Bawds, for the drudgery of citizens' wives, His very name already shakes the world; Would better pay debilitated stallions.And still in person heading his first squadrons, Madam, I have said perhaps too inuch; if so, Like the first Cæsar o'er the hardy Gauls, It matters not; for he who lies, like me, He seems another thunderbolt of war.

On the hard ground, is sure to fall no further. Pulch. I oft have blam’d my brother most for Pulch. I have given you patient hearing, hothis,

nest Marcian; That to my hand he leaves the state affairs: And, as far as I can see into your temper, And how that sounds, you know

(I speak my serious judgment in cold blood, Marc. Forgive me, madam;

With strictest consultation on the matter,) I think that all the greatness of your sex, I think this seeming plain and honest Marcian Rome's Clelia, and the fam'd Semiramis, An exquisite and most notorious traitor. With all the amazonian valour too,

Marc. Ha! traitor! Meet in Pulcheria ; yet I say, forgive me,

Pulch. Yes, a most notorious traitor. If with reluctance í behold a woman

Murc. Your grandfather, whose frown could Sit at the empire's helm, and steer the world.

awe the world, Pulch. I stand rebuk’d.

Would not have called me so--or if he had Marc. Mark but the growing French.

Pulch. You would have taken it. But to the The most auspicious omen of their greatness,

business : That I can guess, is their late Salique law, Was't not enough,--oh heaven! thou know'st, Blest by their priests, the Salii, and pronoun

too much!ced

At first to own yourself an infidel, To stand for ever; which excludes all women A bold contemner, even to blasphemy, From the imperial crown. But, oh! I speak Of that religion which we all profess, The least of all those infinite grievances, For which your heart's best blood can ne'er sufWbich make the subjects murmur : In the army,

fice; Though I proceeded still like Hannibal, But you must dare, with a seditious army, And punish'd every mutineer with death, Thus to conspire against the emperor ! Yet, oh! it stabbed me through and through the I mențion not your impudence to me, soul

Taxing the folly of my government, To pass the wretches' doom, because I knew Ev'n to my face ; such an irreverence, With justice they complained; for hard they As sure no barb'rous Vandal would have urged; fought,

Beside your libelling all the court, as if And with their blood earn'd that forbidden | You had engross’d the whole world's honesty, bread,

And flatterers, fools, sycophants, knaves, Which some at court, and great ones, though (Such was your language,) did inhabit here. unnam'a,

Marc. You wrest my honest meaning, by the Cast to their hounds, while the poor soldier's

gods starv'd

You do; and if you thus go on, I feel Pulch. Your pity, too, in mournful fellow- | My struggling spirit will no longer bear it. ship,

Pulch. I thought the meaning of all rational No doubt might sooth their murmurs ? Murc. Yes, it did.

Should still be gathered out of their discourse ;,

men

nour.

Nor are you so imprudent, without thinking, I'll find a time. Till then be still, my soul To vent such words, though now you fain would No general now! A member of thy country, hide it;

But most corrupt, therefore to be cut off ; You find the guilt, and baulk the accusation. Loyal, plain-dealing, honest Marcian! But think not you shall 'scape so easily ! A slave, a traitor ! Oye eternal gods!--[Ereunt. Once more, I do confront you as a traitor;

Leon. So, Athenais; now our compliment And as I am entrusted with full pow'r,

To the young Persian prince is at an end ; Divest you, in the name of Theodosius, What then remains, but that we take our leave, Of all your offices, commissions, honours; And bid him everlastingly farewell ? Command you leave the court within three days, Athen. My lord ! Loyal, plain-dealing, honest Marcian!

Leon. I say, that decency requires Marc. Gods! gods !

We should be gone, nor can you stay with hoPulch. What now! ha! does the traitor murmur?

Athen. Most true, my lord. If in three days,-mark me; 'tis I that doom Leon. The court is now at peace, thee!

The emperor's sisters are retir'd for ever, Rash, inconsiderate man, a wretch beneath And he himself compos'd; what hinders then, The torments I could execute upon thee !- But that we bid adieu to prince Varanes ? If, after three days space, thou’rt found in court, Athen. Ah, sir, why will you break my heart? Thou dy'st! thy head, thy head shall pay the Leon. I would not ; forfeit.

Thou art the only comfort of my age ; Farewell: now rage! now rail and curse the Like an old tree I stand among the storms, court;

Thou art the only limb that I have left me, Saucily dare to abuse the best of princes, My dear green branch; and how I prize thee, And let thy lawless tongue lash all it can ;

child, Do, like a madman, rave! deplore thy fortune, Heaven only knows ! Why dost thou kneel and While pages laugh at thee; then haste to the

weep? army,

Athen. Because you are so good, and will, I Grow popular, and lead the multitude ;

hope, Preach up thy wrongs, and drive the giddy beast Forgive my fault, who first occasioned it. To kick at Cæsar. Nay, if thou weep’st, I am Leon. I charg'd thee to receive and hear the gone.

prince. O Julia! if I stay, I shall weep too.

Athen. You did, and, oh, my lord! I heard Yet 'tis but just that I the heart should see

too much! Or him who once must lord it over me.

Too much, I fear, for my eternal quiet. [Erit PULCHERIA, &c. Leon. Rise, Athenais! Credit him who bears Luc. Why do you droop, sir ? Come, no more More years than thou: Varanes has deceived o'this,

thee. You are and shall be still our general :

Athen. How do we differ then! You judge the Say but the word, I'll fill the Hippodrome

prince With squadrons that shall make the emperor Impious and base ; while I take Heav'n to wittremble;

ness, We'll fire the court about his ears.

I think him the most virtuous of men : Methinks, like Junius Brutus, I have watch'd Therefore take heed, my lord, how you accuse him, An opportunity, and now it comes !

Before you make the trial.-Alas, Varanes, Few words and I are friends; but, noble Marcian, If thou art false, there's no such thing on earth If yet thou art not more than general

As solid goodness or substantial honour.-Ere dead of night, say Lucius is a coward. A thousand times, my lord, he has sworn to Marc. I charge thee, in the name of all the

give me gods,

(And I believe his oaths) his crown and empire, Come back ! I charm thee by the name of friend. That day I make him master of my heart. All's well, and I rejoice I am no general.

Leon. That day he'll make thee mistress of But, hush! within three days we must be gone, And then, my friend, farewell to ceremony.

Which carries a foul name among the vulgar, We'll fly to some far distant lonely village, No, Athenais! let me see thee dead, Forget our former state, and breed with slaves, Borne a pale corpse, and gently laid in earth, Sweat in the eye of day, and, when night comes, So I may say, she's chaste, and died a virgin, With bodies coarsely tilld, and vacant souls, Rather than view thee with these wounded eyes Sleep like the labour'd hinds, and never think; Seated upon the throne of Isdigerdes, For if I think again, I shall go mad,

The blast of common tongues, the nobles' scorn, Enter LEONTINE and ATHENAIS, $c.

Thy father's curse; that is, the prince's whore.

Athen. O horrid supposition ! how I detest it, Therefore no thought. But see, we are inter- Be witness, heaven, that sees my secret thoughts! rupted !-

Have I for this, my lord, been taught by you O court ! O emperor! yet let death threaten, The nicest justice, and severest virtue,

his power,

To fear no death, to know the end of life, To all the Persian greatness !
And, with long search, discern the highest good Athen. I believe you;
No, Athenais! when the day beholds thee For I have heard you swear as much before.
So scandalously rais’d, pride cast thee down, Vara. Hast thou? 0 why then did I swear
The scorn of honour, and the people's prey !

again! No, cruel Leontine, not to redeem

But that my love knew nothing worthier of thee, That aged head from the descending axe, And could no better way express my passion. Not, though I saw thy trembling body rack’d, Athen. O rise, my lord! Thy wrinkles about thee filld with blood,

Vara. I will do every thing Would I for empire, to the man I love,

Which Athenais bids : If there be more Be made the object of unlawful pleasure. In nature to convince thee of my love, Leon. O greatly said ! and by the blood which Whisper it, oh some god, into my ear ! warms me,

And on her breasts thus to her listening soul Which runs as rich as any Athens holds, I'll breathe the inspiration! Wilt thou not speak? It would improve the virtue of the world, What, but one sigh, no more! Can that suffice If every day a thousand votaries,

For all my vast expence of prodigal love!
And thousand virgins came from far to hear thee. 0, Athenais! What shall I say or do,
Athen. Look down, ye pow'rs, take notice we To gain the thing I wish?
obey

Athen. What's that, my lord ?
The rigid principles ye have infus'd!

Vara. Thus to approach thee still ! thus to Yet oh, my noble father, to convince you,

behold thee. Since you will have it so, propose a marriage;

Yet there is more Though with the thought I'm covered o'er with Athen. My lord, I dare not hear you. blushes.

Vura. Why dost thou frown at what thou dost Not that I doubt the prince, that were to doubt

not know? The heavens themselves; I know he is all truth: 'Tis an imagination which ne'er pierc'd thee ; But modesty,

Yet, as 'tis ravishing, 'tis full of honour. The virgin's troublesome and constant guest, Athen. I must not doubt you, sir: But oh I That, that alone forbids.

tremble Leon. I wish to heav'n

To think if Isdigerdes should behold you, There prove no greater bar to my belief. Should hear you thus protesting to a maid Behold the prince; I will retire a while,

Of no degree, but virtue, in the world-.. And, when occasion calls, come to thy aid. Vara. No more of this, no more; for I disdain

[Exit Leon. All pomp when thou art by; far be the noise

Of kings and courts from us, whose gentle souls Enter VARANES and ARANTHES.

Our kinder stars have steer'd another way! Vara. To fix her on the throne, to me, seems Free as the forest-birds, we'll pair together, little ;

Without rememb’ring who our fathers were; Were I a god, yet would I raise her higher, Fly to the arbours, grots, and flow'ry meads, This is the nature of thy prince: But, oh! And in soft murmurs interchange our souls ; As to the world, thy judgment soars above me, Together drink the crystal of the stream, And I am dar'd with this gigantic honour. Or taste the yellow fruit which autumn yields, Glory forbids her prospect to a crown,

And when the golden evening calls us home, Nor must she gaze that way; my haughty soul, Wing to our downy nest, and sleep till morn. That day when she ascends the throne of Cyrus, Athen. Ah, prince ! no more ! Will leave my body pale, and to the stars Forbear, forbear to charm me, Retire in blushes, lost, quite lost for ever, Since I am doom'd to leave you, sir, for ever. Aran. What do you purpose then?

Vara. Hold, Athenais-Vara, I know not what :

Athen. I know your royal temper, But, see, she comes, the glory of my arms, And that high honour reigns within your breast, The only business of my instant thought, Which would disdain to waste so many hours My soul's best joy, and all my true repose ! With one of humble blood compar'd to you, I swear I cannot bear these strange desires, Unless strong passion sway'd your thoughts to These strong impulses, which will shortly leave

love her ;

Therefore receive, oh prince, and take it kindly, Dead at thy feet.

For none on earth but you could win it from me, Athen. What have you found, my lord, Receive the gift of my eternal love! In me so harsh or cruel, that you fear

'Tis all I can bestow, nor is it little ; To speak your griefs ?

For sure a heart so coldly chaste as mine, Vara. First let me kneel and swear,

No charms but yours, my lord, could e'er have And on thy hand seal my religious vow,

warmd ! Straight let the breath of gods blow me from Vara. Well have you made amends, by this earth,

last comfort, Swept from the book of fame, forgotten ever, For the cold dart you shot at me before. If I prefer thee not, O Athenais,

For this last goodness, O my Athenais !

me

(For now, methinks, I ought to call you mine!) I look and tremble at the vast descent:
I empty all my soul in thanks before you : Yet even there, to the vast bottom down,
Yet oh! one fear remains, like death it chills me; My rash adventurous love would have me leap,
Why my relenting love did talk of parting ! And grasp my Athenais with my ruin.
Athen. Look there, and cease your wonder; Leon. 'Tis well, my lord.
I have sworn

Vara. Why dost thou thus provoke me?
To obey my father, and he calls me hence. I thought that Persia's court had store of honour

To satisfy the height of thy ambition,
Enter LEONTINE
Besides, old man, my love is too well

grown, Vara. Ha, Leontine ! by which of all my ac- To want a tutor for his good behaviour ; tions

What he will do, he will do of himself, Have I so deeply injur'd thee, to merit

And not be taught by you.The smartest wound revenge could form to end Leon. I know he will not: me?

Fond tears away! I know, I know he will not; Leon. Answer me now, O prince! for virtue But he would buy with his old man's preferment prompts me,

My daughter for your whore. And honesty will dally now no longer :

Vara. Away, I say, my soul disdains the moWhat can the end of all this passion be?

tion! Glory requires this strict accompt, and asks Leon. The motion of a marriage ; yes, I see What you intend at last to Athenais ?

it; Vara. How, Leontine!

Your angry looks and haughty words betray it: Leon. You saw her, sir, at Athens; said you I found it at the first. I thank you, sir, lov'd her ;

You have at last rewarded your old tutor
I charg'd her humbly to receive the honour, For all his cares, his watchings, services;
And hear your passion : Has she not, sir, obey'd Yet, let me tell you, sir, this humble mad,
me ?

This daughter of a poor philosopher,
Vara. She has, I thank the gods ! but whither Shall, if she please, be seated on a throne
would'st thou?

As high as that of the immortal Cyrus. Leon, Having resolv'd to visit Theodosius, Vara. I think that age and deep philosophy You swore you would not go without my daugh- Have crack'd thy brain

: Farewell

, old Leoptine, ter,

Retire to rest; and when this brawling humour Whereon I gave command that she should follow. Is rock'd asleep, I'll meet my Athenais,

Vora. Yes, Leontine, my old remembrancer, And clear the accounts of love, which thou hast Most learn'd of all philosophers, you did.

blotted.

[Erit. Leon. Thus long she has attended, you have Leon. Old Leontine! perhaps I am mad inseen her,

deed. Sounded her virtues and her imperfections; But hold my heart, and let that solid virtue, Therefore, dread sir, forgive this bolder charge, Which I so long ador'd, still keep the reins. Which honour sounds, and now let me demand | O Athenais ! But I will not chide thee;

Fate is in all our actions, and, methinks, Vara, Now help, Aranthes, or I'm dash'd for At least a father judges so, it has

Rebuk'd thee smartly for thy easiness; Aran. Whatever happens, sir, disdain the There is a kind of mournful eloquence marriage.

In thy dumb grief, which shames all clamorous Leon. Can your high thoughts so far forget themselves,

Athen. Alas! my breast is full of death; meTo admit this humble virgin for your bride ?

thinks Vara. Ha!

I fear ev’n youAthen. He blushes, gods ! and stammers at Leon. Why should'st thou fear thy father? the question.

Athen. Because you have the figure of a man! Leon. Why do you walk, and chafe yourself, Is there, o speak, a possibility

To be forgiven ! The business is not much,

Leon, Thy father does forgive thee, Vara. How, Leontine!

And honour will; but on this hard condition Not much? I know that she deserves a crown; Never to see him moreYet 'tis to reason much, though not to love ; Athen, See him! Oh heavens! And sure the world would blush to see the Leon. Unless it be, my daughter, to upbraid him: daughter

Not though he should repent and straight return, Of a philosopher on the throne of Cyrus, Nay, proffer thee his crown-No more of that. Athen. Undone for ever!

Honour too cries revenge, revenge thy wrongs, Leon. Is this your answer, sir?

Revenge thyself, revenge thy injur'd father; Varu. Why dost thou urge me thus, and push For 'tis revenge so wise, so glorious too, me to

As all the world shall praise. The very brink of glory? where, alas !

Athen. O give me leave,

[ocr errors]

ever.

sorrow.

my lord ?

VOL. I.

« НазадПродовжити »