Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Pania. My order is unto the satraps and
Their household train.
Arbaces.

But
Beleses.

It must be obey'd;
Say, we depart.
Pania.

My order is to see you
Depart, and not to bear your answer.
Beleses (aside.)

Ay!
Well, sir, we will accompany you hence.

Pania. I will retire to marshal forth the guard
Of honour which befits your rank, and wait
Your leisure, so that it the hour exceeds not.

[Exit Panja. Beleses. Now then obey ! Arbaces.

Doubtless. Beleses.

Yes, to the gates
That grate the palace, which is now our prison,
No further.

Arbaces. Thou hast harp'd the truth indeed !
The realm itself, in all its wide extension,
Yawns dungeons at each step for thee and me.

Beleses. Graves !

Arbaces. If I thought so, this good sword should dig One more than mine. Beleses.

It shall have work enough :
Let me hope better than thou augurest;
At present let us hence as best we may.
Thou dost agree with me in understanding
This order as a sentence.
Arbaces.

Why, what other
Interpretation should it bear? it is
The very policy of orient monarchs
Pardon and poison--favours and a sword-
A distant voyage, and an eternal sleep.
How many satraps in his father's time
For he I own is, or at least was, bloodless-

Beleses. But will not, can not be só now.
Arbaces.

I doubt it.
How many satraps have I seen set out
In his sire's day for mighty vice-royalties,

Whose tombs are on their path; I know not how,
But they all sicken'd by the way, it was
So long and heavy.
Beleses.

Let us but regain
The free air of the city, and we'll shorten
The journey.
Arbaces.

"Twill be shorten'd at the gates,
It may be.
Beleses.

No; they hardly will risk that,
They mean us to die privately, but not
Within the palace or the city walls,
Where we are known and may have partisans :.
If they had meant to slay us here, we were
No longer with the living. Let us hence.

Arbaces. If I but thought he did not mean my life

Beleses. Fool! hence--what else should despotism Alarm'd mean? Let us but rejoin our troops, and march.

Arbaces. Towards our provinces ?
Beleses.

No ; towards your kingdom.
There's time, there's heart, and hope, and power, and

means,
Which their half measures leave us in full scope,
Away!

Arbaces: And I even yet repenting must
Relapse to guilt!
Beleses.

Self-defence is a virtue,
Sole bulwark of all right. Away, I say !
Let's leave this place, the air grows thick and choking,
And the walls have a scent of night-shade--hence!
Let us not leave them time for further council.
Our quick departure proves our civic zeal;
Our quick departure hinders our good escort,
The worthy Pania, from anticipating
The orders of some parasangs from hence ;
Nay, there's no other choice but hence, I say.

[Exil with ARBACES, who follows reluctantly.

Enter SARDANAPALUS and SALEMENES.

Sardan. Well, all is remedied and without bloodshed,

That worst of mockeries of a remedy;
We are now secure by these men's exile.
Salemenes.

Yes,
As he who treads on flowers is from the adder
Twined round their roots.

Sardan. Why, what wouldst have me do?
Salem. Undo what you have done.
Sardan.

Revoke my pardon ?
Salem. Replace the crown now tottering on your temples.
Sardan. That were tyrannical.
Salem:

But sure, Sardan.

We are so. What danger can they work upon the frontier ?

Salem. They are not there yet-never should they be so, Were I well listen'd to.

Sardan, Nay, I have listen'd Impartially to thee-why not to them?

Salem. You may know that hereafter; as it is,
I take my leave, to order forth the guard.

Sardan. And you will join us at the banquet ?
Salem,

Sire,
Dispense with me I am no wassailer :
Command me in all service save the Bacchant's.

Sardan. Nay, but it is fit to revel now aud then.
Salen. And fit that some should watch for those who

revel
Too oft. Am I permitted to depart?

Sardan. Yes~-Stay a moment, my good Salemenes, My brother, my best subject, better prince Than I am king. You should have been the monarch, And I-I know not what, and care not; but Think not I am insensible to all Thine honest wisdom, and thy rough yet kind, Though oft reproving, sufferance of my follies. If I have spared these men against thy counsel, That is, their lives it is not that I doubt The advice was sound; but, let them live : we will not Cavil about their lives--so let them mend them. Their banishment will leave me still sound sleep, Which their death had not left me.

Salem.

Thus you run
•The risk to sleep for ever, to save traitors-
A moment's pang now changed for years of crime.
Still let them be made quiet.
Sardan.

Tempt me not :
My word is past.
Salem.

But it may be recall d.
Sardan. 'Tis royal.
Salem.

And should therefore be decisive.
This half indulgence of an exile serves
But to provoke-a pardon should be full
Or it is none.
Sardan,

And who persuaded me
After I had repeal'd them, or at least,
Only dismissed them from our presence, who
Urged me to send them to their satrapies?

Salem. True; that I had forgotten ;, that is, sire,
If they e'er reach their satrapies :, why then
Reprove me more for my advice?
Sardan.

And if
They do not reach them look to it!-in safety,
In safety, mark me and security
Look to thine own.
Salemenes.

Permit me to depart ;
Their safety shall be cared for.
Sardan.

Get thee hence, then;
And, prithee, think more gently of thy brother.
Salem. Sire, I shall ever duly serve my sovereign.

[Exit SALEMENES. Sardan. (solus.) That man is of a temper too severe : Hard but as lofty as the rock, and free From all the taints of common earth-while I Am softer clay, impregnated with flowers. But as our mould is, must the produce be. If I have erred this time, 'tis on the side Where error sits most lightly on that sense, I know not what to call it; but it reckons With me ofttimes for pain, and sometimes pleasure; A spirit which seems placed about my heart To court its throbs, not quicken them, and ask

Questions which mortal never dared to ask me,
Nor Baal, though an oracular deity-
Albeit his marble face majestical
Frowns as the shadows of the evening dim
His brows to changed expression, till at times
I think the statue looks in act to speak.
Away with these vain thoughts, I will be joyous-
And here comes Joy's true herald.

Enter MYRRHA,
Myrrha.

King! the sky
Is overcast, and musters muttering thunder,
In clouds that seem approaching fast, and show
In forked flashes a commanding tempest.
Will you then quit the palace ?
Sardan,

Tempest, say'st thou?
Myrrha. Ay, my good lord.

Sardan, For my own part, I should be
Not ill content to vary the smooth scene,
And watch the warring elements; but this
Would little suit the silken garments and
Smooth faces of our festive friends. Say, Myrrha,
Art thou of those who dread the roar of clouds ?

Myrrha. In my own country we respect their voices
As auguries of Jove.
Sardan.

Jovem-ay, your Baal-
Ours also has a property in thunder,
And ever and anon some falling bolt
Proves his divinity, and yet sometimes
Strikes his own altars,
Myrrha.

That were a dread omen. :
Sardan. Yes, for the priests. Well, we will not go forth
Beyond the palace walls to-night, but make
Our feast within.

Myrrha. Now, Jove be praised! that he
Hath heard the prayer thou wouldst not hear. The gods
Are kinder to thee than thou to thyself,
And flash this storm between thee and thy foes,
To shield thee from them.
Sardan.

Child, if there be peril,
Methinks it is the same within these walls
As on the river's brink.

« ForrigeFortsett »