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Surdan. Lost!- why, who is the aspiring chief who
dared Assume to win them? Myrrha.
Who is he should dread To try so much? When he who is their rulcr Forgets himself, will they remember him?
Sardan. Myrrha !
Myrrha. Frown not upon me? you have smiled
Too often on me not to make those frowns
Bitterer to bear than any punishment
Which they may augur.-King, I am your subject!
Master, I am your slave! Man, I have loved you!-
Loved you, I know not by what fatal weakness,
Although a Greek, and born a foe to monarchs-
A slave, and hating fetters--an lonian,
And, therefore, when I love a stranger, more
Degraded by that passion than by chains !
Still I have loved you. If that love were strong
Enough to overcome all former nature,
Shall it nut claim the privilege to save you?
Sardan Save me, my beauty! Thou art very fair,
And what I seek of thee is love--not safety.
Myrrha. And without love where dwells security ?
Sardan. I speak of woman's love.
The very first
Of human life must spring from womáu's breast,
Your first small words are taught you from her lips,
Your first tears quench'd by her, and your last sighs
Too often breathed out in a woman's hearing,
When men have shrunk from the ignoble care
Of watching the last hour of him who led them.
Sardan. My eloqueni Ionian! thou speak'st music,
The very chorus of the tragic song
I have heard thee talk of as the favourite pastime
Of thy far father-land. Nay, weep not-calm thee.
Myrrha. I wecp not-But I pray thee, do not speak
About my fathers or their land.
Thou speakest of them.
True-true: constant thought
Will overflow in words unconsciously;
But when another speaks of Greece, it wounds me.
Sardan. Well, then, how wouldst thou save me, as thou
Myrrha. By teaching thee to save thyself, and not
Thyself alone, but these vast realms, from all
The rage of the worst war-the war of brethren.
Sardan. Why, child, I loathe all war, and warriors ;
I live in peace and pleasure: what can man
Myrrha. Alas! my lord, with common men
There needs too oft the show. of war to keep
The substance of sweet peace; and for a king,
Tis sometimes better to be fear'd than loved.
Sardan. And I have never sought but for the last.
Myrrha. And now art neither.
Dost thou say so, Myrrha ?
Myrrha. I speak of civic popular love, self love,
Which means that men are kept in awe and law,
Yet not oppress'd-at least they must not think so;
Or if they think so, deem it necessary,
To ward off worse oppression, their own passions.
A king of feasts, and Aowers, and wine, and revel,
And love, and mirth, was never king of glory.
Sardan. Glory! what's that?
Ask of the gods thy fathers. Sardan. They cannot answer; when the priests speak
for them, Tis for some small addition to the temple.
Myrrha. Look to the annals of thine empire's founders.
Sardan. They are so blotted o'er with blood, I cannot.
But what wouldst have the empițe has been founded.
I cannot go on multiplying empires.
Myrrhu. Preserve thine own.
At least I will enjoy it.
Come, Myrrha, let us on to the Euphrates ;
The hour mvites, the galley is prepared,
And the pavilion, deck'd for our return,
In fit adornment for the evening banquet,
Shall blaze with beauty and with light, until
It seems unto the stars which are above us
Itself an opposite star; and we will sit
Crown'd with fresh flowers like-
No, like sovereigns, .
The shepherd kings of patriarchal times,
Who knew no brighter gems than summer wreaths,
And none but tearless triumphs. Let us on..
Pania, May the king live for ever!
Not an hour
Longer than he can love. How my soul hates
'This language, which makes life itself a lie,
Flattering dust with eternity. Well, Pania!
I am charged by Salemenes to:
Reiterate his prayer unto the king,
That for this day, at least, he will not quit
The palace: when the general returns,
He will adduce such reasons as will warrant
His daring, and perhaps obtain the pardon
Of his presumption.
What! am I then coop'd ?
Already captive ? can I not even breathe
The breath of heaven ? Tell prince Salemenes,
Were all Assyria raging round the walls
In mutinous myriads, I would still go forth.
Pania. I must obey, and yet -
Oh, monarch, listen.
How many a day and moon thou hast reclined
Within these palace walls in silken dalliance,
And never shown thee to thy people's longing;
Leaving thy subjects' eyes ungratified,
The satraps uncontrolld, the gods unworshippid,
And all things in the anarchy of sloth,
'Till all, save evil, slumber'd through the realm!
And wift thou not now tarry for a day,
A day which may redeem thee? Wilt thou not
Yield to the few still faithful a few hours,
For them, for thee, for thy past fathers' race,
And for thy sons' inheritance ?
From the deep urgency with which the prince
Despatch'd me to your sacred presence, I
Must dare to add my feeble voice to that
Which now has spoken.
No, it must not be.
Myrrha. For the sake of thy realm!
Of all thy faithful subjects, who will rally
Round thee and thine.
These are mere phantasies ;
There is no peril :-'tis a sullen scheme
Of Salemenes, to approve his peal,
And show himself more necessary to us.
Myrrha. By all that's good and glorious take this counsel.
Sardan. Business to-morrow,
Ay, or death to-night.
Sardan. Why let it come then unexpectedly,
'Midst joy and gentleness, and mirth and love;
So let me fall like the pluck'd rose ! far better
'Thus than be wither'd.
Then thou wilt not yield,
Even for the sake of all that ever stirr'd
A monarch into action, to forego
A trifting revel.
Then yield for mine;
For my sake!
Thine! my Myrrha?
'Tis the first Boon which I c'er ask'd Assyria's king. Surdan. That's true, and wer't my kingdom must be
Well, for thy sake, 1 yield me. Pania, hence!
Thou hear'st me.
I marvel at thee.
What is thy motive, Myrrha, thus to urge me?
Myrrha. Thy safety; and the certainty that nought
Could urge the prince thy kinsman to require
Thus much froni thee, but some impending danger.
Sardan. And if I do not dread it, why shouldst thou ?
Myrrha. Because thou dost not fear, I fear for thee.
Sardan. To-morrow thou wilt smile at these vain fancies.
Myrrha. If the worst come, I shall be where none weep,
And that is better than the power to smile.
I shall be king, as heretofore.
Sardan. With Baal, Nimrod, and Semiramis,
Sole in Assyria, or with them elsewhere.
Fate made me what I am,
-may make me nothing-
But either that or nothing must I be;
I will not live degraded.
Hadst thou felt
Thus always, none would ever dare degrade thee.
Sardan. And who will do so now?
Dost thou suspect none?
Surdan. Suspect!-that's a spy's office, Oh! we lose
Ten thousand precious moments in vain words,
And vainer fears. Within there !-Ye slaves, deck
The hall of Nimrod for the evening revel:
If I must make a prison of oar palace,
At least we'll wear our setters jocundly;
If the Euphrates be forbid us, and
The summer dwelling on its beauteous border,
Here we are still unmenaced. Ho! within there!
[Exit SARDANAPALUS. Myrrha (solus.) Why do I love this man? My country's
Love none but heroes. But I have no country!
The slave hath lost all save her bonds. I love him;
And that's the heaviest link of the long chain-
To love whom we esteem not. Be it so:
The hour is coming when he'll need all I ve,