Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Myrrha. And wilt thou ?
Sardan,

Will I not?
Ho, there !

-But seek not for the buckler; 'tis.
Too heavy :-a light cuirass and my sword.
Where are the rebels?
Panią.

Scarce a furlong's length
From the outward wall, the fiercest conflict rages.
.: Sardan, Then I may charge on horseback. Sfero, ho !
Order my horse out.~-There is space enough
Even in our courts, and by the outer gate,
To martial half the horsemen of Arabia.

[Exit SPERO for the armour. Myrrha, How I do love thee! Sardan

I never doubted it. Myrrha. But now I know thee.

SARDANAPALUS (to his attendant).

Bring down my spear, too.
Where's Salemenes?
Pania.

Where a soldier should become
In the thick of the fight.
Surdan.

Then hasten to him- -Is
The path still open, and communication
Left 'twixt the palace and the phalanx ?
Pania.

'Twas
When I late left him, and I have no fear :
Our troops were steady, and the phalanx form'd.

Sardan. Tell him to spare his person for the present, And that I will not spare my own--and say, I come. Pania. There's victory in the very

word.

[Exit Pania. Sardan. Altada--Zames---forth, and arm.ye! There Is all in readiness in the armoury. See that the women are bestow'd in safety In the remote apartments : let a guard Be set before them, with strict charge to quit The post but with their lives command it, Zames. Altada, arm yourself, and return here; Your post is near our person.

[Exeunt ZAMES, ALTADA, and all save MYRRHA.

Enter Spero and others with the King's Arms, &c.
Sfero.

King ! your armour.
SARDANAPALUS (arming himself).
Give me the cuirass-s0 : my baldric ; now
My sword: I had forgot the helm, where is it?
That's well-no, 'tis too heavy : you mistake, toom
It was not this I meant, but that which bears
A diadem around it.
Sfero.

Sire, I decm'd
That too conspicuous from the precious stones
To risk your sacred brow beneath-and, trust me,
This is of better metal though less rich
Sardan, You deem'd ? Are you too turn'd a rebel?

Fellow !
Your part is to obey : return, and no-
It is too late- I will go forth without it.

Sfero. At least wear this.
Sardan.

Wear Caucasus ! why, 'tis
A mountain on my temples.
Sfero.

Sire, the meanest
Soldier goes not forth thus exposed to battle.
All men will recognize you--for the storm
Has ceased, and the moon breaks forth in her brightness.

Sardan. I go forth to be recognized, and thus Shall be so sooner. Now-my spear! I'm arm'd.

[In going stops short, and turns to SFERO, Sfero—I had forgotten-bring the mirror (1)

Sfero. The mirror, sire?

Surdan. Yes, sir, of polish'd brass, Brought from the spoils of India—but be speedy

[Exit SFERO. Sardan. Myrrha, retire unto a place of safety. Why went you not forth with the other damsels ?

Myrrhan Because my place is here.
Sardan.

And when I am gone

(1) Such the mirror Oiho held

In the Illyrian field."-See Juvenal.

Myrrha, I follow.
Sardan.

You! to battle?
Myrrha,

If it were sn,
'Twere not the first Greek girl hath trod the path.
I will await here your return.
Sardan.

The place
Is spacious, and the first to be sought out,
If they prevail; and, if it should be so,
And I return not

Myrrha. Still, we meet again.
Sardan. How?

Myrrha. In the spot where all must meet at last
In Hades! if there be, as I believe,
A shore beyond the Styx; and if there be not,
In ashes.

Sardan. Dar'st thou so much?
Myrrha.

I dare all things
Except survive what I have loved, to be
A rebel's booty : forth, and do your bravest.

Re-enter Seero, with the mirror.

[SALEMENES (looking at himself.) This cuirass fits me well, the baldric better, And the helm not at all. Mechinks, I seem

[Flinging away the helmet after trying it again.. Passing well in these toys; and now to prove them. Altada ? Where's Altada? Sfero.

Waiting, sire,
Without: he has your shield in readiness.

Sardan, True ; I forgot he is my shield-bearer
By right of blood, derived from age to age.
Myrrha, embrace me; yet once more-once more-
Love me, whate'er betide. My chiefest glory
Shall be to make me worthier of your love.
Myrrha, Go forth, and conquer! .

[Exit SARDANAPALUS and SFERO.

Now, I am alone. All are gone forth, and of that all how few Perhaps retuin. Let him but vanquish, and

Me perish! If he vanquish not, I perish;
For I will not outlive him. He has wound
About my heart, I know not how nor why.
Not for that he is king; for now his kingdom
Rocks underneath his throne, and the earth yawns
To yield him no more of it than a grave;
And yet I love him more. Oh, mighty Jove !
Forgive this monstrous love for a barbarian,
Who knows not of Olympus : yes, I love him
Now, now, far more than Hark---to the war shout!
Methinks it nears me. If it should be so,

[She draws forth a small vial.
This cunning Colchian poison, which my father
Learn'd to compound on Euxine shores, and taught me
How to preserve, shall free me! It had freed me
Long ere this hour, but that I loved, until
I half forgot I was a slave :-where all
Are slaves save one, and proud of servitude,
So they are served in turn by something lower
In the degree of bondage, we forget
That shackles worn like ornaments no less
Are chains. Again that shout ? and now the clash
Of arms and now and now

Enter ALTADA.

Ho, Sfero, ho! Myrrha. He is not here; what wouldst thou with him ?

How
Goes on the conflict ?
Altada,

Dubiously and fiercely.
Myrrha. And the king ?
Altada.

Like a king. I must find Sfero,
And bring him a new spear and his own helmet:
He fights till now bare-headed, and by far
Too much exposed. The soldiers knew his face,
And the foe too, and in the moon's broad light.
His silk tiara and his flowing hair
Make him a mark too royal. Every arrow
Is pointed at the fair hair and fair features,

Ye gods,

And the broad fillet which crowns both.

Myrtha.
Who fulmine o'er my fathers' land, protect him!
Were you sent by the king ?
Altada,

By Salernenes,
Who sent me privily upon this charge,
Without the knowledge of the careless sovereign,
The king! the king fights as he revels ! ho !
What, Sfero! I will seek the armoury,
He must be there.

[Exit ALTADA. Myrrha,

•Tis no dishonour-no-
'Tis no dishonour to have loved this man.
I almost wish now, what I never wish'd
Before that he were Grecian. If Alcides
Were shamed in wearing Lydian Omphale's
She garb, and wielding her vile distaff ; surely
He, who springs up a Hercules at once,
Nurs'd in effeminate arts from youth tu manhood,
And rushes from the banquet to the battle,
As though it were a bed of love, deserves
That a Greek girl should be his paramour,
And a Greek bard his minstrel, a Greek tomb
His monument. How goes the strife, sir ?

Entor an Officer.

Officer.

Lost,
Lost almost past recovery. Zames ! Where
Is Zames?

Myrrha. Posted with the guard appointed
To watch before the apartment of the women.

[Exit OFFICER. MYRRHA (solus). He's gone ; aud told no more than that all's lost ! What need have I to know more? In those words, Those little words, a kingdom and a king, A linc of thirteen ages, and the lives Of thousands, and the fortune of all left With life, are merged ; and I, too, with the great, Like a small bubble breaking with the wave

a

« ForrigeFortsett »