Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Myrrha.

Not 80 ; these walls
Are high and strong, and guarded. Treason has
To penetrate through many a winding way,
And massy portal ; but in the pavilion
There is no bulwark.
Sardan,

No, nor in the palace,
Nor in the fortress, nor upon the top
Of cloud-fenced Caucasus, where the eagle sits
Nested in pathless clefts, if treachery be:
Even as the arrow finds the airy king,
The steel will reach the earthly. But be calm :
The men, or innocent or guilty, are
Banish'd, and far upon their way.
Myrrha.

They live, then?
Sardan. So sanguinary ? Thou !
Myrrha.

I would not shrink
From just infliction of due punishment
On those who seek your life : wer't otherwise,
I should not merit mine. Besides, you heard
The princely Salemenes.
Sardan.

This is strange ;
The gentle and the austere are both against me,
And urge me to revenge.
Myrrha.

'Tis a Greek virtue.
Sardan. But not a kingly one-l'll none on't ; or
If ever I indulge in't, it shall be
With kings--my equals.
Myrrha.

These men sought to be so.
Sardan. Myrrha, this is too feminine, and springs
From fear

Myrrha.
Sardan.

No matter-still 'tis fear
I have observed your sex, once roused to wrath,
Are timidly vindictive to a pitch
Of perseverance, which I would not copy.
I thought you were exempt from this, as from
The childish helplessness of Asian women.

Myrrhu.. My lord, I am no boaster of my love,
Nor of my attributes ; I have shared your splendour,
And will partake your fortunes. You may live

For you.

To find one slave more true than subject myriads';
But this the gods avert? I am content
To be beloved on trust for what I feel,
Rather than prove it to you in your griefs,
Which might not yield to any cares of mine.

Sardan. Griefs cannot come where perfect love exists,
Except to heighten it, and vanish from
That which it could not scare away. Let's in--
The hour approaches, and we must prepare
To meet the invited guests, who grace our feast.

ACT III. SCENE I.

The Hall of the Palace Illuminated-SARDANAPALUS and

his Guests at Table-A Storm without, and Thunder occasionally heard during the Banquet.

SARDANAPALUS. Fill full! Why this is as it should be: here Is my true realm, amidst bright eyes and faces Happy as fair! Here sorrow cannot reach. Zames. Nor elsewhere - where the king is, pleasure

sparkles.
Sardan. Is not this better now than Nimrod's huntings,
Or my wild grandam's chase in search of kingdoms
She could not keep when conquer'd ?
Altada.

Mighty though
They were, as all thy royal line have been,
Yet none of those who went before have reach'd
The acme of Sardanapalus, who
Has placed his joy in peace—the sole true glory.

Sardan. And pleasure, good Altada, to which glory
Is hut the path. What is it that we seek?
Enjoyment! We have cut the way short to it,
And not gone tracking it through human ashes,
Making a grave with every footstep.

Zames.
All hearts are happy, and all voices bless

No;

The king of peace, who holds a world in jubilee.

Sardan, Art sure of that? I have heard otherwise;
Some say that there be traitors.
Zames.

Traitors they
Who dare to say so !-_'Tis impossible.
What cause ?

Sardan, What cause ? true,fill the goblet up;
We will not think of them ; there are none such,
Or if the be, they are gone.
Altada.

Guests, to my pledge! Down on your knees, and drink a measure to The safety of the king-the monarch, say I? The god Sardanapalus ! [Zames and the Guests kneel, and exclaim

Mightier than His father Baal, the god Sardanapalus ! [It thunders as they kneel; some start ир

in confusion, Zames. Why do ye rise, my friends ? In that strong

peal His father gods consented. Myrrha.

Menaced, rather.
King, wilt thou bear this mad impiety?

Sardan. Impiety !--nay, if the sires who reign'd
Before me can be gods, I'll not disgrace
Their lineage. But arise, my pious friends,
Hoard your devotion for the thunderer there :
I seek but to be lov'd, not worshipp'd.
Altada.

Both
Both you must ever be by all true subjects.

Sardan, Methinks the thunders still increase : it is
An awful night.
Myrrha.

for those who have No palace to protect their worshippers.

Sardan. That's true, my Myrrha ; and could I convert
My realm to one wide shelter for the wretched,
I'd do it.

Myrrha. Thou'rt no god, then, not to be
Able to work a will so good and general
As thy wish would imply.

Oh yes,

Sardan,

And your gods,then,
Who can, and do not?
Myrrha.

Do not speak of that,
Lest we provoke them.
Sardan,

True, they love not censure
Better than mortals, Friends, a thought has struck me :
Were there no temples, would there, think ye, be
Air worshippers--that is, when it is angry,
And pelting as even now?
Myrrha.

The Persian prays
Upon his mountain.
Sardan,

Yes, when the sun shines.
Myrrha. And I would ask if this your palace were
Unroofd and desolate, how many flatterers
Would lick the dust in which the king lay low?

Altada. The fair Ionian is too sarcastic
Upon a nation whom she knows not well;
The Assyrians know no pleasure but their king's,
And homage is their pride.
Sardan.

Nay, pardon, guests,
The fair Greek's readiness of speech.
· Altada.

Pardon! sire :
We honour her of all things next to thee.
Hark! what was that?
Zames.

That ! nothing but the jar
Of distant portals shaken by the wind.

Altada. It sounded like the clash of_hark again!
Zames. The big rain pattering on the roof.
Sardan,

No more.
Myrrha, my love, hast thou thy shell in order ?
Sing me a song of Sappho, her, thou know'st,
Who in thy country threw

Enter PANIA. Wilh his sword and garments bloody, and disa

ordered. The Guests rise in confusion.

PANIA (to the Guards.)

Look to the portals; And with your best speed to the wall without,

[ocr errors]

To march;

Too many

Your arms; To arms! The king's in danger. Monarch'!
Excuse this haste,-'tis faith.
Sardan,

Speak on.
Pania.

It is
As Salemenes fear'd; the faithless satraps-
Sardan. You are wounded-give some wine. Take.

breath, good Pania.
Pania. 'Tis nothing-a mere flesh wound. I am worn
More with my speed to warn my sovereign,
Than hurt in his defence.
Myrrha.

Well, sir, the rebels.
Pania. Soon as Arbaces and Beleses reach'd
Their stations in the city, they refused

and on my attempt to use the power
Which I was delegated with, they call'd
Upon their troops, who rose in fierce defiance.

Myrrha, All ?
Pania.

Sardan, Spare not of thy free speech
To spare mine ears the truth.
Penia.

My own slight guard
Were faithful and what's left of it is still so.

Myrrha. And are these all the force still faithful ?
Pania.

NO
The Bactrians, now led on by Salemenes,
Who even then was on his way, still urged
By strong suspicion of the Median chiefs,
Are numerous, and make strong head against
The rebels, fighting inch by inch, and forming
An orb around the palace, where they mean
To centre all their force, and save the king.
(He hesitates.) I am charged to-
Myrrha.

Tis no time for hesitation
Pania. Prince Salemenes doth implore the king
To arm himself, although but for a moment,
And show himself unto the soldiers : his
Sole presence in this instance might do more
Than hosts can do in his behalf.
Sardan,

What, ha!
My armour there.

« ForrigeFortsett »