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Erir. My bosom meets the point, Than Perseus far more welcome to my breast.
Don. Necessity, for gods themselves too strong, Is weaker than thy charms. [Drops the dagger.
Erix. Oh, my Demetrius! [Turns, and goes to a farther part of the stage.
Don. Oh, my Erixene!
[Both silent, weep, and tremble.
Erix. Farewell! [Going.
Dem. Where goest! [Passionately seizing her.
Erix. To seek a friend.
Dem. He's here.
Erix. Yes, Perseus' friend Earth, open and receive me!
Dem. Heaven strike us dead, And save me from a double suicide, And one of tenfold death.—O Jove! 0 Jove!
[Falling on his knees. But I'm distracted. [Suddenly starting up.
What can Jove? Why pray i
Erix. For a heart.
Dem. Yes, one, That cannot feel. Mine bleeds at every vein. Who never loved, ne'er suffered; he feels nothing, Who nothing feels but for himself alone; And, when we feel for others, reason reels, O'erloaded, from her path, and man runs mad. As love alone can exquisitely bless, Love only feels the marvellous of pain; Opens new veins of torture in the soul, And wakes the nerve, where agonies are born. E'en Dymas, Perseus, (hearts of adamant!) Might weep these torments of their mortal foe.
Erix. Shall I be less compassionate than they? [Takes up the dagger. What love denied, thine agonies have done,
[Stats herself. Demetrius' sigh outstings the dart of death.
Enter the King, $c.
King. Give my Demetrius to my arms; I call
him To life from death, to transport from despair. Dem. Sec Perseus' wife! [Pointing at Erix.
let Delia tell the rest. Xing. My grief-accustomed heart can guess
too well. Dem. That sight turns all to guilt, but tears
and death. King. Death! Who shall quell false Perseus, now in arms?
Who pour my tempest on the capital?
How shall I sweeten life to thy sad spirit?
I'll quit my throne this hour, and thou shalt reign. Dem. You recommend that death, you would dissuade; Ennobled thus by lame and empire lost, As well as life! Small sacrifice to love.
[Going to stab himself, the king runs to prevent him; but too late. King. Ah, hold! nor strike thy dagger through
my heart 1 Dem. 'Tis my first disobedience, and my last.
[Falls. King. There Philip fell! There Macedon expired! I see the Roman eagle hovering o'er us, And the shaft broke, should bring her to tho ground. [Pointing to Demetrius. Dem. Hear, good Antigonus, my last request: Tell Perseus, if he'll sheath his impious sword Drawn on his father, I'll forgive him all; Though poor Erixene lies bleeding by: Her blood cries vengeance; but my father's^—
King. As much his goodness wounds me, as his death. What then are both? 0 Philip, once renowned! Where is the pride of Greece, the dread of Rome, The theme of Athens, the wide world's example, And the god Alexander's rival, now i Even at the foot of fortune's precipice, Where the slave's sigh wafts pity to the prince, And his omnipotence cries out for more I
Ant. As the swoln column of ascending smoke. So solid swells thy grandeur, pigmy man! King. My life's deep tragedy was planned with art, From scene to scene, advancing in distress, Through a sad series, to this dire result; As if the Thracian queen conducted all, And wrote the moral in her children's blood; Which seas might labour to wash out in vain. Hear it, ye nations! distant ages, hear, And learn the dread decrees of Jove to fear! His dread decrees the strictest balance keep; The father groans who made a mother weep; But if no terror for yourselves can move, Tremble, ye parents, for the child ye love; For your Demetrius: mine is doomed to bleed, A guiltless victim, for hjs father's deed.
AN HISTORICAL TRAGEDY.
An epilogue, through custom, is your right, But ne'er, perhaps, was needful till this night; To-night the virtuous falls, the guilty flies, Guilt's dreadful close our narrow scene denies.
In history's authentic record read
Perseus surviv'd, indeed, and fill'd the throne; But ceaseless cares in conquest made him groan. Nor reign'd he long; from Rome swift thunder
flew, And headlong from his throne the tyrant threw: Thrown headlong down, by Rome in triumph led, For this night's deed, his perjur'd bosom bled. His brothers ghost each moment made him start, And all his father's anguish rent his heart. When rob'd in black his children round him
hung, And their rais'd arms in early sorrows wrung; The younger smil'd, unconscious of their woe, At which thy tears, O Rome! began to flow, So sad the scene: what then must Perseus feel, To see Jove's race attend the victor's wheel: To see the slaves of his worst foes increase.
From such a source! an emperor's embrace!
He sicken'd soon to death, and, what is worse,
When breathing statues mould'ring waste away,
Of love, made greatly wretched by excess!
If no compassion, when his crimes are weigh'd,
Herod the Great.
His Young Son.
Pheroras, the King's Brother.
Sohemus, first Minister.
Narbal, a Lord of the Queens Party.
Hazerotii, a young Lord related to the Queen
SAMEAS, the King's Cup-bearer.
Salome, the King's Sister.
Arsinoe, chief Attendant on the Queen.
Guards, Messengers, Attendants. Scene,—A Room of State in Herod's Palace at Jerusalem.
Enter PlTERORAS, NARBAL, and SOHEMUS.
P/icr. The morning in her richest purple rob"d,
Aar. This blest day
Soh. Fortune at length to merit grows a friend,
Nar. Herod avov/d the dear respect be bore To Antony, and dropp'd a generous tear To grace his ruins.
Pher. Yes, and Ca?sar sat
Soil. From the grace
Pher. Narbal, your care
Sji. My lord, the province you've assign'd
With Narbal's talents; none is better form'd
Pher. In that high sphere you, Sohemus, alone
Soh. With blushes I must hear you call mei wise, When one impassion'd woman can destroy My surest plans, and with a sigh blow down The firmest fabric of deliberate thought. Heav'ns! that a king consummate for a throne, So wise in council, and so great in arms, Should, after nine long years, remain a slave, Because his wife is fair! What art thou, beauty, Whose charm makes sense and valour grow as
Pher. Is thy wisdom proof
Soh. In thoughtless youth, gay nature gives the
Pher. He never can; For Mariamne with superior charms Triumphs o'er reason; in her look she bears A paradise of ever-blooming sweets: Fair as the first idea beauty prints On the young lover's soul: a winning grace Guides every gesture, and obsequious love Attends on all her steps; for, majesty Streams from her eye to each beholder's heart, And checks the transport which her charms inspire: Who would not live her slave !—Nor is her mind Form'd with inferior elegance !—By her, So absolute in every grace, we guess What essence angels have.
Soh. Who can admire The brightest angel, when his hand unsheaths The vengeful sword, or with dire pestilence Unpeoples nations? If death sits entliron'd In the soft dimple of a damask cheek, He thence can aim his silent dart as sure, As from the wrinkle of a tyrant's frown:
And that's our case! Yet with a lover's eye
Pher. We sure may praise
Soh. But low in dust
lord, Nq clearer light than this, by which to read The purpose of my soul.
Pher. Though 'tis obscure,
Soh. If to pursue
Enter Messenger with a Letter to PHERORAS.
Pher. 'Tis from the king:
Soh. May I, my lord, partake?
Phar. The infant prince Must live an hostage of the league at Rome; Caesar hath sent a minister of trust With guards to wait him. This perhaps the king Hath kept concealed, that his return might calm The afflicted queen, and soften the surprise.
Soh. Names he, my lord, the general to whose care The prince must be consigned?
Pher. Rome could not chuse For that high charge a nobler delegate, Than my Flaminius; for a bolder hand Ne'er flew her conquering eagles at their prey. We in the Parthian wars together learned The rudiments of arms; the summer sun Hath seen our marches measured by his own; In battle so intrepid, that he shewed An appetite of danger; oft I've heard The weary veterans, resting on their spears, Swear by the gods and majesty of Rome, Thcv blushed with indignation to behold
The garland of the war, by partial fate TransferrM from theirs, to grace a stripling's
But I with Narbal will prevail, to impart
Sal. I hope, my lord, young Hazeroth'g affront Will not pass unresented.
Soh. I've dispatched
Sat. He mentioned me?
Soh. Traduced you basely, by the opprobrious name Of Iduma^an spinster, in degree The third descendant of an heathen slave, Who kept Apollo's temple.
Sat. The king's veins Hold the same blood, whatever is the source; And if the wretch survives that vile reproach, The king's a slave indeed. What was your crime?
Soh. He said by my sole counsels were de-
Sat. That vain boy
&>A. What time more fit
The blissful hour is past Curst, doubly curst
Be this boy-emperor! who tamely spar'd
Sal. Can you discern
Soh. The king will send
Sal. Were triple thunder vollied at the queen.
Soh. At this little spark,