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Is this moment
A fitting one for the resumption of
Thy yet unslept-off revels ?
SARDANAPALUS (taking the cup from him).
If these barbarian Greeks of the far shores
And skirts of these our realms lie not, this Bacchus
Conquer'd the whole of India, did he not?
Salem. He did, and thence was deem'd a deity.
Sardan. Not so :--of all his conquesis a few columns,
Which may be his, and might be mine, if I
Thought them worth purchase and conveyance, are
The landmarks of the seas of gore he shed,
The realms he wasted, and the hearts he broke.
But here, here in this goblet is his title
To immortality--the immortal grape
From which he first express'd the soul, and gave
To gladden that of man, as some atonement
For the victorious mischiefs he had done.
Had it not been for this, he would have been
A mortal still in name as in his grave;
And, like my ancestor Semiramis,
A sort of semi-glorious human monster.
Here's that which deified him-let it now
Humanize thee; my surly, chiding brother,
Pledge me to the Greek god!
For all thy realms
I would not so-blaspheme our country's creed.
Sardan. That is to say, thou thinkest him a hero,
That he shed blood by oceans; and no god,
Because he turn'd a fruit to an enchantment,
Which cheers the sad, revives the old, inspires
The young, makes Weariness forget his toil,
And Fear her danger; opens a new world
When this, the present, palls. Well, then, I pledge thee
And him as a true man, who did his utmost
In good or evil to surprise mankind.
Salem. Wilt thou resume a revel at this hour?
Sardan. And if I did, 'twere better than a trophy,
Being bought without a tcar. But that is not
My present purpose : since thou wilt not pledge me,
Continue what thou pleasest.
(To the Cupbearer.)
Salem. I would but have recall'd thee from thy dream :
Better by me awaken'd than rebellion.
Sardan. Who should rebel? or why? what cause ? .
I am the lawful king, descended from
A race of kings who knew no predecessors.
What have I done to thee, or to the people,
That thou shouldst rail, or they rise up against me?
Salem. Of what thou hast done to me, I speak not.
Thou think'st that I have wrong'd the queen : is't not so ?
Salem. Think! Thou hast wrong'd her!
Patience, prince, and hear me.
She has all power and splendour of her station,
Respect, the tutelage of Assyria's heirs,
The homage and the appanage of sovereignty.
I married her as monarchs wed-for state,
And loved her as most husbands love their wives.
If she or thou supposedst I could link me
Like a Chaldean peasant to his mate,
Ye knew nor me, nori monarchs, nor mankind.
Salem. I pray thee, change the theme; my blood dis-
Complaint, and Salenenes' sister seeks not
Reluctant love even from Assyria's lord !
Nor would she deign to accept divided passion
With foreign stränipets and Ionian slaves.
The queen is sileni.
And why not her brother ?
Salem. I only echo thee the voice of empires,
Which he who long neglects not long will govern.
Sardan. "The ungrateful and ungracious slaves ! they
Because I have not shed their blood, nor led them
To dry into the desert's dust by miriads,
Or whiten with their bones the banks of Ganges;
Nor decimated them with savage laws,
Nor sweated them to build up pyramids,
Or Babylonian walls.
Yet these are trophies
More worthy of a people and their prince
Than songs, and lutes, and feasts, and concubines,
And lavish'd treasures, and contemned virtues.
Sardan. Or for my trophies I have founded cities .
There's Tarsus and Anchialus, both built
In one day—what could that blood laving beldame,
My martial grandam, chaste Semiramis,
Do more, except destroy them?
'Tis most true ;.
I own thy merit in those founded cities,
Built for a whim, recorded with a verse
Which shames both them and thee to coming ages.
Surdun. Shame me! By Baal, the cities, though wel?
Are not more goodly than the verse! Say what
Thou wilt 'gainst me, my mode of life or rule,
But nothing 'gainst the truth of that brief record..
Why, those few lines contain the history
Of all things human; hear—“Sardanapalus
The king, and son of Anacyndaraxes,
In one day built Anchialus and Tars 43.
Eat, drink, and love; the rest's not worth a fillip.'.
Salem. A worthy moral, and a wise inscription,
For a king to put up before his subjects!
Sardun. Oh, thou wouldst have me doubtless set up,
Obey the king---contribute to his treasure-
Recruit his phalanx --spill your blood at bidding-
Fall down and worship, or get up and toil,"
Or thus--" Sardanapalus on this spot
Slew fifty thousand of his enemies.
These are their sepulchres, and this his trophy."
I leave such things to conquerors ; enough
For me, if I can make my subjects feel
The weight of human misery less, and glide
Ungroaning to the comb; I take no licence
Which I deny to them. We all are men.
Salem. Thy sires have been revered as gods-
And death, where they are neither gods nor men.
Talk not of such to me! the worms are gods;
At least they banqueted upon your gods,
And died for lack of farther nutriment.
Those gods were merely men; look to their issue
I feel a thousand mortal things about me,
But nothing godlike, unless it may be
The thing which you condemn, a disposition
To love and to be merciful, to pardon
The follies of my species, and (that's human)
To be indulgent to my own.
The doom of Nineveh is seal'dl.-Woe-woe
To the unrivall'd ciry!
What dost dread ?
Salem. Thou art guarded by thy foes: in a few hours
The tempest may break out which overwhelms thee,
And thine and mine ; and in another day
What is shall be the past of Belus' race.
Sardan. What must we dread ?
Which has environ'd thee with snares : but yet
There is resource : empower me with thy signct
To quell the machinations, and I lay
The heads of thy chief foes before thy feet.
Sardan. The hcads--how many ?
Must I stay to number
When even thine own's in perit? Let me go;
Give me thy signet-trust me with the rest.
Sarıtan, I will trust no man with unlimited lives. When we take those from others, we nor know Whai we have taken, nor the thing we give. Sulem. Wouldst thou not take their lives who seck for thine ?
Sardan. That's a hard question.--But, I answer Yes.
Cannot the thing be done without ? Who are they
Whom thou suspectest?--Let them be arrested.
Salem. I would thou wouldst not ask me; the next mo-
Will send my answer through thy babbling troop
Of paramours, and thence fly o'er the palace,
Even to the city, and so baile all.
Thou knowest I have done so ever;
Take thou the signet,
(Gives the signet. Salen.
I have one more request.am Sardan. Name it.
Salem. That thou this night forbear the banquet
In the pavilion over the Euphrates.
Sardan, Forbear the banquet! Not for all the plotters
That ever shook a kingdom! Let them come,
And do their worst : I shall not blench for them;
Nor rise the sooner ; nor forbear the goblet ;
Nor crown me with a single rose the less;
Nor lose one joyous hour.--I fear them not.
Sulem, But thou wouldst arm thee, wouldst thou not, if
Sardan. Perhaps. I have the goodliest armour, and
A sword of such a temper; and a bow
And javelin, which might furnish Nimrod forth :
A little heavy, but yet not unwieldy.
And now I think on't, 'tis long since I've used them,
Even in the chase. Hast ever seen them, brother ?
Salem. Is this a time for such fantastic trifling
If need be, wilt thou wear them?
Will I not?
Oh! if it must be so, and these rash slaves
Will not be ruled with less, I'll use the sword
Till they shall wish it turn'd into a distaff.
Salem. They say, thy sceptre's turn'd to that already.
Sardan. That's false! but let them say so: the old
Of whom our captives often sing, related
The same of their chief hero, Hercules,