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Amph. Yet they who mean To gratify these passions must conceal them. This day decides my fate. So let it be, Such brief conclusion have I ever loved.— Assist me, Hermes, god of stratagems, With artful words, to sooth the mind of Agis, And turn him ftom the track my purpose holds!
Enter Agis and Agesistrata.
Ages. Alas ! my son ! that bold bad man I dread! Agis. He seems to wait us.—At this hour, Am
phares, I think that thou of all men shouldst have shunn'd
Amph. My motive in attending here your presence Merits a less injurious salutation.
Agis. I know thy merits, and I will reward
Art thou not author of the woes of Sparta,
Amph. What has dishonour'd thee?
Agis. Thou and thy practices: They have com
To leave the noblest station of a prince.
Ages. Peril, my son ! dwells not in camps alone:
Amph. I know my actions have incensed the
But I imagined not that such suspicions
Agis. Hast thou not join'd the enemies of Agis? Thou who wast once his friend, inconstant man!
Amph. I have opposed the counsel of a foe, Whose arts deprived me of my prince's favour.
Agis. Thou hast opposed Lycurgus and the laws, Which raised the name of Sparta to the skies. The Delphic God inspired the deep design: For more than human was that power of thought Which join'd the public to the private good, With such perfection, that each selfish passion Flow'd in the channel of the common welfare, And, like one family of sons and sires, And dearest brothers, a great people lived: In peace they lived, without or strife or scorn; In war they fought to conquer, or to die. Equal and free, our happy fathers knew No interest but the interest of the state; No gain but Sparta's glory; proud they bore That palm aloft, and shared the high respect, The admiration, which consenting Greece Paid to th' imperial virtue of their country.
Amph. Revolving time that system overthrew, And changed the manners and the laws of Sparta.
Agis. The laws have been neglected, not annulTd, And corrupt rulers have corrupted manners. Authority will soon revive the laws, And great example yet restore the manners, In spite of those who have oppress'd their country,
Deprived the people of their ancient rights,
Amph. Moved by the present perils of the state,
Agis. If I should judge the future by the past, Thou mtist forgive me, though I doubt thy faith.
Ages. Yet hear him, Agis: in an hour like this, He who assistance offers is a friend.
Agis. This hour may yet deceive their country's
I know the base foundation of that hope
Amph. The boldness of their hopes their deeds
will prove In the assembly, if Achaia conquer.
Ages. Amphares, say, what is their utmost aim?
Amph. The old dependants of the exiled king, And all the venal members of the state, Won by Sandane's arts and foreign gold, Aim to restore Leonidas, who comes With hostile armies to enslave his country: Therefore Sandane's proffers I rejected, Have warn'd the king, and would have served him
But since resentment and distrust prevent me, Neutral I stand, and will not seek that welcome Which his more artful enemies would give.
Agis. Thou speak'st more boldly than becomes
Add that to the offences I forgive.