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Because he loved a Lydian queen : thou seest
The populace of all the nations seize
Each calumny they can to sink their sovereigns,
Salem. They did not speak thus of thy fathers.
They dared not. They were kept to toil and combat,
And never changed their chains but for their armour:
Now they have peace and pastime, and the licence
To revel and to rail; it irks me not.
I would not give the smile of one fair girl
For all the popular breath that e'er divided
A name from nothing. What are the rank tongues
Of this vile Herd, grown insolent with feeding,
That I should prize their noisy praise, or dread
Their poisome clamour ?
You have said they are men ; As such their hearts are something. Sardan,
So my dogs' are ; And better, as more faithful :--but, proceed ; Thou hast my signet :--since they are tumultuous, Let them be temper'd, yet not roughly, till Necessity enforce it. I hate all pain, Given or received ; we have enough within us, The meanest vassal as the loftiest monarch, Not to add to each other's natural burthen Of mortal misery, but rather lessen, By mild reciprocal alleviation, The fatal penalties imposed on life ; But this they know not, or they will not know. I have, by Baal! done all I could to soothe them : I made no wars, I added no new imposts, I interfered not with their civic lives, I let them pass their days as best might suit them, Passing my own as suited me. Salem.
Thou stopp'st Short of the duties of a king; and therefore They say thou art unfit to be a monarch.
Sardan. They lie.—Unhappily, I am unfit To be aught save a monarch ; else for me, The mcanest Mede might be the king insteasl.
Salem. There is one Mede, at least, who seeks to be so.
Sardan. What means't thou ?--'tis thy secret ; thou de-
Few questions, and I'm not of curious nature.
Take the fit steps; and, since necessity
Requires, I sanction and support thee. Ne'er
Was man who more desired to rule in peace
The peaceful only; if they rouše me, better
They had conjured up stern Nimrod from his ashes,
“ The mighty hunter." I will turn these realms
To one wide desert chase of brutes, who were,
But would no more, by their own choice, be human.
What they have found me, they belie; that which
They yet may find me--shall defy their wish
To speak it worse ; and let them thank themselves.
Salem. Then thou at last canst feel ?
Feel! who feels not
I will not pause to answer
With words, but deeds. Keep thou awake that energy
Which sleeps at times, but is not dead within thee,
And thou may'st yet be glorious in thy reign,
As powerful in thy realm. Farewell!
He's gone ; and on his finger bears my signet,
Which is to him a sceptre. He is stern
As I am heedless; and the slaves deserve
To feel a master. What may be the danger,
I know not :- he hath found it, let him quell it.
Must I consume my life--this titule lite-
In guarding against all may make it less ?
It is not worth so much! Il were to die
Before my hour, to live in dread of death,
Tracing revolt: suspecting all about me,
Because they are near; and all who are remote,
Because they are far. But if it should be so
If they should sweep me off from earth and empire,
Why, what is earth or empire of the earth ?
I have loved, and lived, and multiplied my image ;
To die is no less natural than those-
Acts of this clay! 'Tis true I have not shed
Blood, as I might have done, in oceans, till
My name became the synonyme of death-
A terror and a trophy. But for this
I feel no penitence; my life is love;
If I must shed blood, it shall be by force.
Till now, no drop from an Assyrian vein
Hath flow'd for me, nor hath the smallest coin
Of Nineveh's vast treasures e'er been lavish'd
On objects which could cost fier sons a tear :
If then they hate me, 'tis because I hate not ;
If they rebel, it is because l oppress not ;
Oh, men ! ye must be ruled with scythes not sceptres,
And mow'd down like the grass, else all we reap
Is sank abundance, and a rotten harvest
Of discontents infecting the fair soil,
Making a desert of fertility.--
l'II think no more. Within there, ho!
Slave, tell The lonian Myrrha we would crave her presence. Attend. King, she is here.
SARDANAPALUS (apart to Attendant).
Away! (Addressing MYRRHA.) Beautiful heing! "Thou dost almost anticipate my heart; It throbbed for thee, and here thou comest: let mc Deem that some unknown influence, some sweet oracle, Communicates between us, though unseen, In absence, and attracts us to each other.
Myrrha. There doth.
I know there doth, but not its name, What is it?
Myrrha. In my native land a God,
And in my heart a feeling like a God's,
Exalted ; yet I own'tis only mortal;
For what I feel is humble, and yet happy-
That is, it would be happy z but-
[MYRRIA pauses Sardan,
For ever something between us and what
We deem our happiness : let me remove
The barrier which that hesitating accent
Proclaims to thine, and mine is sealed.
Sardan. My lord—my king-sire-sovereign! thus it
For ever thus, addressed with awe. I ne'er
Can see a smile, unless in some broad banquet's
Intoxicating glare, when the buffoons
Have gorged themselves up to equality,
Or I have quaffed me down to their abasement.
Myrrha, I can hear all these things, these names,
Lord-king-sire monarch - nay, time was I prized
That is, I suffered thom-from slaves and nobles;
But when they falter from the lips I love,
The lips which have been press'd to mine, a chill
Comes o'er my heart, a cold sense of the falsehood
Of this my station, which represses feeling
In those for whom I have felt most, and makes me
Wish that I could lay down the dull tiara,
And share a cottage on the Caucasus
With thee, and wear no crowns but those of flowers.
Myrrha. Would that we could !
And dost thou feel this ?-Why? Myrrha. Then thou wouldst know what thou canst
never know, Sardan, And that is
Myrrha. The true value of a heart ;
At least, a woman's.
I have proved a thousand-
A thousand, and a thousand.
I think so.
Myrrha. Not one! the time may come thou may'st.
Hear, Myrrha; Salemenes has declared
Or why or how he hath divined it, Belus,
Who founded our great realm, knows more than I-
But Salemenes hath declared my throne
He did well.
And say'st thou so?
Thou whom he spurn'd so harshly, and now dared
Drive from our presence with his savage jeers,
And made thee weep and blush ?
I should do both
More frequently, and he did well to call me
Back to my duty. But thou spakest of peril-
Peril to thee-
Ay, from dark plots and snares
From Medes--and discontented troops and nations.
I know not what-a labyrinth of things-
A maze of mutter'd threats and mysteries ?
Thou know'st the man-it is his usual custom.
But he is honest. Come, we'll think no more on't-
But of the midnight festival.
To think of aught save festivals. Thou hast not
Spurn'd his sage cautions ?
What--and dost thou fe ar?
Myrrha. Fear !-I'm a Greek, and how should I fear
A slave, and wherefore should I dread my freedoin ?
Sardan. Then wherefore dost thou turn so pale ?
Sardan. And do not I? I love thee farfar more
Than either the brief life or the wide realm,
Which, it may be, are menaced ;--yet I blench not.
Myrrha. That means thou lovest nor thyself nor me;
For he who loves another loves himself,
Even for that other's sake. This is too rash?
Kingdoms and lives are not to be so lost.