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And find none. To fall from him now were baser
Than to have stabb'd him on his throne when highest
Would have been noble in my country's creed;
I was not made for either. Could I save him,
I should not lose him better, but myself;
And I have need of the last, for I have fallen
In my own thoughts, by loving this soft stranger :
And yet methinks I love him more, perceiving
'That he is hated of his own barbarians,
The natural foes of all the blood of Greece
Could I but wake a single thought like those-
Which even the Phrygians felt when battling long
"Twixt Ilion and the sea, within his heart,
He would tread down the barbarous crowds, and triumph.
He loves me, and I love him; the slave loves
Her master, and would free him from his vices,
If not, I have a means of freedom still,
And if I cannot teach him how to reign,
May show him how alone a king can leave
His throne. I must not lose him from my sight.
The Portal of the same Hall of the Palace.
The sun goes down: methinks be seis more slowly,
Taking his last look of Assyria's empire.
How red he glares amongst those deepening clouds,
Like the blood he predicts. If not in vain,
Thou sun that sinkest, and ye stars which rise,
I have outwatch'd ye, reading ray by ray
The edicts of your orbs, which make Time tremble
For what he brings the nations, 'tis the furthest
Hour of Assyria's years. And yet how całm !
In earthquake should announce so great a tall-
A summer's sun discloses it. Yon disk,
To the star-read Chaldean, beårs upon
Its everlasting page the end of what
Seem'd everlasting; but oh! thou true sun!
The burning oracle of all that live,
As fountain of all life, and symbol of
Him who bestows it, wherefore dost thou limit
Thy love unto calamity? Why not
Unfold the rise of days more worthy thine
All-glorious burst from ocean? why not dart
A beam of hope athwart the future's years,
As of wrath to its days? Hear me! oh! hear me!
I am thy worshipper, thy priest, thy servant-
I have gazed on thee at thy rise and fall,
And bow'd my head beneath thy mid-day beams,
When my eye dared not meet thee. I have watch'd
For thee, and after thee, and pray'd to thce,
And sacrificed to thee, and read, and feard thee,
And ask'd of thec, and thou hast answer'd--but
Only to thus much: while I speak, he sinks
Is gone_and leaves his beauty, not his knowledge,
To the delighted west, which revels in
Its hues of dying glory. Yet what is
Death, so it be but glorious? Tis a sunset;
And mortals may be happy to resemble
The gods but in decay.
Enter ARBACES, by an inner door.
So rapt in thy devotions? Dost thou stand
Gazing to trace thy disappearing god
Into some realm of undiscover'd day?
Our business is with night-'tis come.
Arb. Let it roll on-we are ready.
Would it were over!
Does the prophet doubt,
To whom the very stars shine victory?
Bel, I do not doubt of victory--but the victor,
Arl. Well, let thy science settle that. - Meantime,
I have prepared as many glittering spears
As will out-sparkle our allies---your planets.
There is no more to thwart us. The she-king,
That less than woman, is even now upon
The waters with his female mates. The order
Is issued for the feast in the pavilion.
The first cup which he drains will be the last
Quaff'd by the line of Nimrod.
'Twas a brave one.
Arb. And is a weak one-'lis worn out-we'll mend it.
Bel. Art sure of that?
Its founder was a hunter--
I am a soldier--what is there to fear ?
Bel. The soldier.
And the priest, it may be ; but
If you thought thus, or think, why not retain
Your king of concubines ? why stir me up ?
Why spur me to this enterprise ? your own
No less than mine?
Look to the sky!
Bel.. What seest thou ?
A fair summer's twilight, and
The gathering of the stars.
And midst them, mark
Yon castiest, and the brightest, which so quivers,
As it would quit its place in the blue ether.
Arb. Well ?
Bel. 'Tis thy natal ruler--thy birth planct.
Arb. (touching his scabbard). My star is in this scab-
bard: when it shines,
It shall out-dazzle comets. Let us think
Of what is to be done to justify
Thy planets and their portents. When we conquer,
They shall have temples—ay, and priests-and thou,
Shall be the pontiff of-what gods thou wilt;
For I observe that they are ever just,
And own the bravest for the most devout.
Bel. Ay, and the most devout for brave-thou hast not Seen me turn back from Lattle.
No, 'I own thee As firm in fight as Babylonia's captain, As skilful in Chaldea's worship ; now, Will it but please thee to forget the priest, And be the warrior ? Bel.
Why not both ? Arb.
The better; And yet it almost shames me, we shall have So little to effect. This woman's warfare Degrades the very conqueror. To have pluck'd A bold and bloody despot from bis throne, And grappled with him, clashing steel with steel, That were heroic or to win or fall; But to upraise my sword against this silkworm, And hear him whine, it may be
Do not deem it:
He has that in him which may make you strife yet;
And were he all you think, his guards are hardy,
And headed by the cool, stern Salemenes.
Art. They'll not resist.
Why not? they are soldiers.
True, And therefore need a soldier to command them.
Bel. That Salemenes is.
But not their king.
Besides, he hates the effeminate thing that governs,
For the queen's sake, his sister. Mark you not
He keeps aloof from all the revels?
Not from the council-there he is ever constant.
Arb. And ever thwarted; what would you have more
To niake a rebel out of? A fool reigning,
His blood dishonour'd, and himself disdain'd;
Why, it is his revenge we work for.
He but be brought to think so; this, I doubt of.
Arb. What, if we sound him?
Yes if the time served,
Bal. Satraps ! The king commands your presence at
The feast to-night.
To hear is to obey.
In the pavilion ?
No; here in the palace.
Arb. How! in the palace ? it was not thus order'd.
Bal. It is so order'd now.
I know not.
May I retire?
Stay. Bel. (to ARBACES aside). Hush! let him go his way. (Alternately to BALEA). Yes, Balea, thank the monarch,
kiss the hem
Of his imperial robe, and say, his slaves
Will take the crums he deigns to scatter from
His royal table at the hour-was it midnight ?
Bel. It was ; the place, the Hall of Nimrod. Lords,
I humble me before you, and depart. [Erit. BALEA.
Arb.' like not this same sudden change of place, There is some mystery ; wherefore should he change it?
Bel. Doth he not change a thousand times a day?
Sloth is of all things the most fanciful-
And moves more parasangs in its intents
Than generals in their marches when they seek
To leave their foe at fault.-Why dost thou muse?
Arb. He loved that gay pavilion,-it was ever
His summer dotage.
And he loved his queen
And thrice a thousand harlotry besides-
And he has loved all things by turns, except
Wisdom and glory.
Still-I like it not.
If it has changed—why so must we: the attack
Were easy in the isolated bower,
Beset with drowsy guards and drunken courtiers;
But in the Hall of Nimrod -
Is it so ?