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Miss O'Neil. Mrs. Humphries.
Enter MELANTHoN and PHILOTAs.
Mel. Yet, yet a moment; hear, Philotas, hear me!
Phil. No more; it must not be.
Mel. Obdurate man; Thus wilt thou spurn me, when a king distress'd, A good, a virtuous, venerable king, The father of his people, from a throne Which long with ev'ry virtue he adorn'd, Torn by a ruffian, by a tyrant's hand, Groans in captivity? In his own palace Lives a sequester'd prisoner? Oh! Philotas, If thou hast not renounc'd humanity, Let me behold my sovereign; once again Admit me to his presence; let me see My royal master.
Phil. Urge thy suit no further; Thy words are fruitless; Dionysius' orders Forbid access; he is our sov’reign mow. 'Tis his to give the law, mine to obey. Mel. Thou canst not mean it: his to give the law Detested spoiler —his a vile usurper Have we forgot the elder Dionysius, Surnam'd the Tyrant? To Sicilia's throne The monster waded through whole seas of blood. Sore groan'd the land beneath his iron rod; Till rous’d at length Evander came from Greece, Like Freedom's Genius came, and sent the tyrant Stript of the crown, and to his humble rank Once more reduc’d, to roam, for vile subsistence, A wandering sophist through the realms of Greece. Phil. Whate'er his right, to him in Syracuse All bend the knee; his the supreme dominion, And death and torment wait his sovereign nod. Mel. But soon that pow'r shall cease behold his walls Now close encircled by the Grecian bands; Timoleon leads them on; indignant Corinth Sends her avenger forth, array'd in terror, To hurl ambition from a throne usurp’d, And bid all Sicily resume her rights. Phil. Thou wert a statesman once, Melanthon; now, Grown dim with age, thy eye pervades no more The deep-laid schemes which Dionysius plans. Know then, a fleet from Carthage even now Stems the rough billow; and, ere yonder sun, That now declining seeks the western wave, Shall to the shades of night resign the world, Thou'lt see the Punic sails in yonder bay, Whose waters wash the walls of Syracuse. Mel. Art thou a stranger to Timoleon's name 2 Intent to plan, and circumspect to see All possible events, he rushes on
Resistless in his course ! Your boasted master
Scarce stands at bay; each hour the strong blockade
Hems him in closer, and, ere long, thou’lt view
Oppression's iron rod to fragments shiver'd :
The good Evander then
Phil. Alas, Evander
Will ne'er behold the golden time you look for!
Mel. How! not behold it! Say, Philotas, speak!
Has the fell tyrant, have his felon murderers—
Phil. As yet, my friend, Evander lives.
Mel. And yet
Thy dark half-hinted purpose—lead me to him;
If thou hast murder'd him
Phil. By Heav'n, he lives!
Mel. Then bless me with one tender interview.
Thrice has the sun gone down since last these eyes
Have seen the good old king; say, why is this 2
Wherefore debarr'd his presence? Thee, Philotas,
The troops obey that guard the royal pris'ner;
Each avenue to thee is open; thou -
Canst grant admittance; let me, let me see him!
Phil. Entreat no more; the soul of Dionysius
Is ever wakeful; rent with all the pangs
That wait on conscious guilt.
Mel. But when dun night—
Phil. Alas! it cannot be: but mark my words:
Let Greece urge on her general assault.
Despatch some friend, who may o'erleap the walls,
And tell Timoleon, the good old Evander
Has liv'd three days, by Dionysius' order,
Lock'd up from ev’ry sustenance of nature,
And life, now wearied out, almost expires.
Mel. If any spark of virtue dwell within thee,
Lead me, Philotas, lead me to his prison 1
Phil. The tyrant’s jealous care hath mov’d him
Mel. Ha! mov’d him, say’st thou?
Phil. At the midnight hour,
Silent convey'd him up the steep ascent,
To where the elder Dionysius form'd,
On the sharp summit of the pointed rock,
Which overhangs the deep, a dungeon drear :
Cell within cell, a labyrinth of horror,
Deep cavern'd in the cliff, where many a wretch,
Unseen by mortal eye, has groan'd in anguish,
And died obscure, unpitied, and unknown.
Mel. Clandestine murderer! Yes, there's the scene
Of horrid massacre. Full oft I've walk'd
When all things lay in sleep and darkness hush'd.
Yes, oft I've walk'd the lonely sullen beach,
And heard the mournful sound of many a corse
Plung'd from the rock into the wave beneath,
That murmurs on the shore. And means he thus
To end a monarch’s life : Oh! grant my pray'rl
My timely succour may protract his days;
The guard is yours—
Phil. Forbear; thou plead'st in vain;
And though I feel soft pity throbbing here;
Though each emotion prompts the gen’rous deed,
I must not yield; it were assur’d destruction.
Farewell, despatch a message to the Greeks;
I'll to my station; now thou know'st the worst.
Mel. Oh, lost Evander! Lost Euphrasia too!
How will her gentle nature bear the shock
Of a dear father, thus, in ling'ring pangs,
A prey to famine, like the veriest wretch
Whom the hard hand of misery hath grip’d 1
In vain she'll rave, with impotence of sorrow ;
Perhaps, provoke her fate: Greece arms in vain;
All's lost Evander dies |
Cal. Where is the king?
Our troops, that sallied to attack the foe,