Methought the haughty soldier fear'd to mount
A throne too easily does it disappoint thee:
To find there is a slipperier step or two .
Than what was counted on?

When the hour comes,
Thou shalt perceive how far I fear or no.

Thou hast seen my life at stake—and gaily play'd form
But here is more upon the dye--a kingdom.

Bel. I have foretold already-thou wilt win it:
Then on, and prosper.

Now were I a soothsayer,
I would have boded so much to myself.
But be the stars obey'd - I cannot quarrel
With them, nor their interpreter. Who's here ?

Salem. Satraps !

My prince!

Well met-1 sought ye both,
But elsewhere than the palace.

Wherefore so ?
Salem. 'Tis not the hour.

The hour-what hour?

Of niidnight.
Bel. Midnight, my lord !

What, are you not invited ?
Bel. Oh! yes—we had forgotten.

Is it usual
Thus to forget a sovereign's invitation ?

Arb. Why-we but now received it.

Then why here?
Arb. On duty.

On what duty ?

On the state's.
We have the privilege to approach the presence;
But found the monarch absent,

And I too
Am upon duty..

May we crave its purport?

Salem. To arrest two traitors. Guards! Within there!

Enter Guards.

Salem. (continuing).

Satraps, Your swords.

Bel. (delivering his). My lord, behold my scimitar,
Arb. (drawing his sword). Take mine.
Salem. (advancing),

I will."

But in your heart the blade
The hilt quits not this hand.

Salem. (drawing). How! dost thou brave me?
'Tis well--this saves a trial, and false mercy,
Soldiers, hew down the rebel!

Soldiers ! Ay-
Alone you dare not.

Alone! foolish
What is there in thee that a prince should shrink from
Of open force? We dread thy treason, not
Thy strength : thy tooth is nought without its venom
The serpent's, not the lion's. Cut him down.
Bel. (interposing). Arbaces! are you mad? Have I not

renderd My sword ? Then trust like me our sovereign's justice,

Arb. No,I will sooner trust the stars thou prat'st of
And this slight arm, and die a king at least
Of my own breath and body-so far that
None else shall chain them.

Salem. (to the Guards). You hear him, and me. Take him not,-kill.

[The Guards attack ARBACES, who defends himself

valiantly and desterously till they waver. Salem.

Is it even so; and must
I do the hangman's office? Recreants ! see
How you should fell a traitor.


Enter SARDANAPALUS and Train.


Hold your handsome Upon your lives, I say. What, deaf or drunken?


My s'word!" Oh fool, I wear no sword : here, fellow,
Give me thy weapon.

[To u Guard,
[SARDANAPALUS snatches a sword from one of the

soldiers, and makes between the combatantsthey


In my very palace!
What hinders me from cleaving you in twain,
Audacious brawlers ?

Sire, your justice.

Your weakness.
Snrdan. (raising the sword).

How ?

Strike! So the blow's repeated
Upon yon traitor-whom you spare a moment,
I trust, for törture-- I'm content.

Who dares assail Arbaces?


Prince, you forget yourself. Upon what warrant?

Salem. (showing the signet). Thine.
Arb. (confused). The king's!

Yes! and let the king confirm it.
Sardan. I parted not from this for such a purpose.

Salem. You parted with it for your safety-1
Employ'd it for the best. Pronounce in person,
Here I am but your slave-a moment past
I was your representative.

Then sheathe
Your swords.

[Arbaces and Salemenes return their swords to

the scabbards. Salem, Mine's sheathed : I pray you sheathe not yours ; 'Tis the sole sceptre left you now with safety.

Sardan. A heavy one; the hilt, too, hurts my hand. (To a Guard). Here, fellow, take thy weapon back.

Well sirs, What doth this mean? Bel.

The prince must answer that. Salem. Truth upon my part, treason upon theirse :

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Sardan. Treason-Arbaces! treachery and Beleses !
That were an union I will not believe..
Bel. Where is the proof?

I'll answer that, if once
The king demands your fellow traitor's sword.
Arb. (to Salemenes). A sword which hath been drawn

as oft as thine Against his foes. Salem.

And now against his brother, And in an hour or so against himself.

Sardan. That is not possible: he dared not; nom
No-I'll not hear of such things. These vain bickerings
Are spawn'd in courts by base intrigues, and baser
Hirelings, who live by lies on good men's lives.
You must have been deceived, my brother.

Let him deliver up his weapon, and
Proclaim himself your subject by that duty,
And I will answer all.

Why, if I thought so-
But no, it cannot be; the Mede Arbaces-
The trusty, rough, true soldier—the best captain
Of all who discipline our nations --No,
' I'll not insult him thus, to bid him render
The scimitar to me he never yielded
Unto our enemies. Chief, keep your weapon.
Salem. (delivering back the signet). Monarch, take back

your signet. Sardan,

No, retain it;
But use it with more moderation.

I used it for your honour, and restorę it
Because I cannot keep it with my own.
Bestow it on Arbaces,

So I should;
He never asked it,

Doubt not, he will have it
Without that hollow semblance of respect.

Bel, I know not what bath prejudiced the prince

So strongly 'gainst two subjects, than whom none
Have been more zealous for Assyria's weal.

Salem. Peace, factious priest and faithless soldier ! thou.
Unit'st in thy own person the worst vices
Of the most dangerous orders of mankind.
Keep thy smooth words and juggling homilies
For those who know thee not. Thy fellow's sin
Is, at the least, a bold one, and not temper'd
By the tricks taught thee in Chaldea.

Hear him,
My liegenthe son of Belus ! he blasphemes
The worship of the land, which bows the knee
Before your fathers.

Oh! for that I pray you
Let him have absolution. I dispense with
The worstrip of dead men ; feeling that I ?
Am mortal, and believing that the race
From whence I sprung are—what I see them--ashes.

Bel. King! Do not deem so: they are with the stars, And

Surdan. You shall join them there'ere they will rise, If you preach fạrther. Why, this is rank treason.

Salem. My lord!

To school me in the worship of
Assyria's idols! Let him be released
Give him his sword:

My lord, and king, and brother,

pray ye pause. Sardan.

Yes, and be sermonized,
And dinn'd, and deafen'd with dead men and Baal,
And all Chaldea's starry mysteries.

Bel. Monarch! respect them.

Oh ! for that I love them;
I love to watch them in the deep blue vault,
And to compare them with my Myrrha's eyes ;
I love to see their rays redoubled in
The tremulous silver of Euphrates' wave,
As the light breeze of midnight crisps the broad
And rolling water, sighing through the sedges

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