Page images

And see if you discover in my looks
An angry judge, or an obdurate foe.
Why will you force me to desert your cause?
In your son's name I beg we may be friends!
Think, oh think,

Oh, my dead lord! Oh, Priam's royal house!
Oh, my Astyanax! at what a price
Thy mother buys thee!-Let us go.
Ceph. But whither?

And what does your unsettled heart resolve?
(Tis the last time) you both may yet be happy! Andro. Come, my Cephisa, let us go together
I know the ties I break, the foes I arm; To the sad monument which I have rais'd
I wrong Hermione; I send her hence; To Hector's shade; where, in their sacred urn,
And with her diadem I bind your brows. The ashes of my hero lie enclos'd,
Consider well; for 'tis of moment to you. The dear remains which I have sav'd from Troy;
Choose to be wretched, madam, or a queen. There let me weep, there summon to my aid,
I leave you to your thoughts. When I return, With pious rites, my Hector's awful shade;
We'll to the temple. There you'll find your son; Let him be witness to my doubts, my fears;
And there be crown'd, or give him up for ever. My agonizing heart, my flowing tears:
[Exit. Oh! may he rise in pity from his tomb,

Ceph. I told you, madam, that, in spite of And fix his wretched son's uncertain doom.


You would o'errule the malice of your fortune.
Andro. Alas, Cephisa, what have I obtain'd?
Only a poor short respite for my son.

Ceph. You have enough approv'd your faith
to Hector;

To be reluctant still would be a crime.
He would himself persuade you to comply




Cle. This unexpected silence, this reserve, This outward calm, this settled frame of mind, After such wrongs and insults, much surprise me!

Andro. How! wouldst thou give me Pyr-You, who before could not command your rage,

rhus for a husband?

Ceph. Think you 'twill please the ghost of your dead husband,


That you should sacrifice his son? Consider,
Pyrrhus once more invites you to a throne;
Turns all his power against the foes of Troy,
Remembers not Achilles was his father,
Retracts his conquests, and forgets his hatred.
Andro. But how can I forget it? how can
Forget my Hector, treated with dishonour,
Depriv'd of funeral rites, and vilely dragg'd,
A bloody corpse, about the walls of Troy?
Can I forget the good old king, his father,
Slain in my presence-at the altar slain;
Which vainly for protection he embrac'd?
Hast thou forgot that dreadful night, Cephisa,
When a whole people fell? Methinks I see
Pyrrhus, enrag'd and breathing vengeance, enter
Amidst the glare of burning palaces:

When Pyrrhus look'd but kindly on his captive;
How can you bear unmov'd, that he should
wed her,

And seat her on a throne which you should fill?
I fear this dreadful stillness in your soul!
Twere better, madam —

Her. Have you call'd Orestes?

Cle. Madam, I have; his love is too impatient Not to obey with speed the welcome summons. His love-sick heart o'erlooks his unkind usage: His ardour's still the same.-Madam, he's here.


Ores. Ah, madam, is it true? does then Orestes

At length attend you by your own commands?
What can I do?

Her. Orestes, do you love me?
Ores. What means that question, princess?
Do I love you?

I see him hew his passage through my brothers, My oaths, my perjuries, my hopes, my fears, And, bath'd in blood, lay all my kindred waste. My farewell, my return-all speak my love. Think, in this scene of horror, what I suffer'd! Her. Avenge my wrongs, and I'll believe them all.


the courtship I receiv'd from Pyrrhus; And this the husband thou wouldst give me! No, We both will perish first! I'll ne'er consent. Ceph. Since you resolve Astyanax shall die, Haste to the temple, bid your son farewell. Why do you tremble, madam?

Andro. O Cephisa!

Thou hast awaken'd all the mother in me.
How can I bid farewell to the dear child,
The pledge, the image of my much-lov'd lord!
But, ob! while I deliberate, he dies.
No, no, thou must not die, while I can save thee:
Oh let me find out Pyrrhus-Oh, Cephisa!
Do you go find him.

Ceph. What must I say to him?
Andro. Tell him I love my son to such

[blocks in formation]


Ores. It shall be done. My soul has caught
th' alarm.

We'll spirit up the Greeks; I'll lead them on:
Your cause shall animate our fleets and armies.
Let us return; let us not lose a moment,
But urge the fate of this devoted land:
Let us depart.

Her. No, prince, let us stay here!
will have vengeance here; I will not carry
'This load of infamy to Greece, not trust
The chance of war to vindicate my wrongs.
Ere I depart, I'll make Epirus mourn.
If you avenge me, let it be this instant;
My rage brooks no delay; haste to the temple,
Haste, prince, and sacrifice him.

Ores. Whom?

Her. Why, Pyrrhus.

Ores. Pyrrhus! Did you say Pyrrhus?
Her. You demur.-

Oh, fly! be gone! give me not time to think.
Talk not of laws-he tramples on all laws.
Let me not hear him justified-away!

Ores. You cannot think I'll justify my rival.
Madam, your love has made him criminal,


You shall have vengeance; I'll have vengeance Charge him to say, Hermione's resentments,
Not those of Greece, have sentenc'd him to death.
Haste, my Cleone! My revenge is lost,
If Pyrrhus knows not that be dies by me!
Cle. I shall obey your orders.-But I see
The king approach.-Who could expect him

But let our hatred be profess'd and open:
Let us alarm all Greece, denounce a war;
Let us attack him in his strength, and hunt
him down

By conquest. Should I turn base assassin,
Twould sully all the kings I represent.


Her. O fly, Cleone, fly! and bid Orestes
Her.Have not I been dishonour'd, set at nought, Not to proceed a step before I see him.

Expos'd to public scorn?-And will you suffer
The tyrant, who dares use me thus, to live?
Know, prince, I hate him more than once I lov'd


[Exit Cleone.


Pyr. Madam, I ought to shun an injur'd princess.

The gods alone can tell how once I lov'd him.
Yes, the false, perjur'd man, I once did love him; Your distant looks reproach me; and I come
And, spite of all his crimes and broken vows, Not to defend, but to avow my guilt.
If he should live, I may relapse-who knows Pyrrhus will ne'er approve his own injustice,
But I to-morrow may forgive his wrongs? Nor form excuses while his heart condemns him.
Ores. First let me tear him piecemeal. He

shall die.

But, madam, give me leisure to contrive
The place, the time, the manner of his death:
Yet I'm a stranger in the court of Pyrrhus;
Scarce have I set my foot within Epirus,
When you enjoin me to destroy the prince.
It shall be done this very night.

Her. But now,

This very hour, he weds Andromache;
The temple shines with pomp, the golden throne
Is now prepar'd, the joyful rites begin;
My shame is public-Oh, be speedy, prince!
My wrath's impatient-Pyrrhus lives too long!
Intent on love, and heedless of his person,
He covers with his guards the Trojan boy.
Now is the time; assemble all your Greeks;
Mine shall assist them; let their fury loose:
Already they regard him as a foe.

Be gone, Orestes! kill the faithless tyrant;
My love shall recompense the glorious deed.
Ores. Consider, madam -

Her. You but mock my rage!

I was contriving how to make you happy.
Think you to merit by your idle sighs,
And not attest your love by one brave action?
Go, with your boasted constancy! and leave
Hermione to execute her own revenge.
I blush to think how my too easy faith
Has twice been baffled in one shameful hour!
Ores. Hear me but speak! You know I'll
die to serve you!

Discharge your anger on this perjur'd man! For I abhor my crime, and should be pleas'd To hear you speak your wrongs aloud: no terms, No bitterness of wrath, nor keen reproach, Will equal half the upbraidings of my heart.

Her. I find, sir, you can be sincere: you scorn To act your crimes with fear, like other men. A hero should be bold, above all laws; Be bravely false, and laugh at solemn ties. To be perfidious shows a daring mind! And you have nobly triumph'd o'er a maid! To court me-to reject me to returnThen to forsake me for a Phrygian slaveTo lay proud Troy in ashes; then to raise The son of Hector, and renounce the Greeks, Are actions worthy the great soul of Pyrrhus! Pyr. Madam, go on! Give your resentment


And pour forth all your indignation on me.
Her. 'Twould please your queen, should I
upbraid your falsehood;
Call you perfidious, traitor, all the names
That injur'd virgins lavish on your sex;
I should o'erflow with tears, and die with grief,
And furnish out a tale to sooth her pride;
But, sir, I would not overcharge her joys.
If you would charm Andromache, recount
Your bloody battles, your exploits, your

Your great achievements in her father's palace. She needs must love the man, who fought so bravely,

Her. I'll go myself; I'll stab him at the altar; And in her sight slew half her royal kindred! Then drive the poniard, reeking with his blood, Pyr. With horror I look back on my past Through my own heart. In death we shall unite. deeds! Better to die with him, than live with you! I punish'd Helen's wrongs too far; I shed Ores. That were to make him blest, and Too much of blood: but, madam, Helen' me more wretched. daughter

Madam, he dies by me. Have you a foe,
And shall I let him live? My rival too!
Ere yon meridian sun declines, he dies;
And you shall say
that I deserve your love.
Her. Go, prince; strike home! and leave the

rest to me.

Let all your ships stand ready for our flight. [Exit Orestes. Cle. Madam, you'll perish in this bold attempt. Her. Give me my vengeance, I'm content to perish.

I was to blame to trust it with another:
In my own hands it had been more secure.
Orestes hates not Pyrrhus as I hate him.
Oh, would Orestes, when he gives the blow,
Tell him he dies my victim!-Haste, Cleone,

Should not object those ills the mother caus'd
However, I'm pleas'd to find you hate me;
I was too forward to accuse myself;
The man who ne'er was lov'd, can ne'er be fals
Obedience to a father brought you hither;
And I stood bound by promise to receive you
But our desires were different ways inclin'd
And you, I own, were not oblig'd to love m

Her.Have I not lov'd you then! perfidious man For you I slighted all the Grecian princes; Forsook my father's house; conceal'd my wron When most provok'd; would not return Sparta,

In hopes that time might fix your wavering hear I lov'd you when inconstant; and even now Inhuman king! that you pronounce my dea

My heart still doubts if I should love or hate you-
But, ob, since you resolve to wed another,
Defer your cruel purpose till to-morrow,
That I may not be here to grace your triumph!
This is the last request I e'er shall make you.
See, if the barbarous prince vouchsafes an

Go, then, to the lov'd Phrygian; hence! be gone!
And bear to her those vows that once were mine:
Go, in defiance to the avenging gods!
Be gone! the priest expects you at the altar;
But, tyrant, have a care I come not thither. [Exit.


Phoe. Sir, did you mind her threats? your fife's in danger:

There is no trifling with a woman's rage. The Greeks that swarm about the court, hate you;

And call him to this hated light again,
To see Andromache in Pyrrhus' arms?
Would Hector, were he living, and I dead,
Forget Andromache, and wed her foe?
Ceph. I cannot guess what drift your thoughts


But, oh, I fear there's something dreadful in it!
Must then Astyanax be doom'd to die,
And you to linger out a life in bondage?
Andro. Know then the secret purpose of
my soul:

Andromache will not be false to Pyrrhus,
Nor violate her sacred love to Hector.
This hour I'll meet the king; the holy priest
Shall join us, and confirm our mutual vows.
This will secure a father to my child:
That done, I have no further use for life:
all This pointed dagger, this determin'd hand,
Shall save my virtue, and conclude my woes.
Cephisa, thou

Will treat you as their country's enemy,
And join in her revenge: besides, Orestes
Still loves her to distraction. Sir, I beg-
Pyr. How, Phoenix, should I fear a wo-
man's threats?,

Wilt lend a hand to close thy mistress' eyes.
Ceph. Oh, never think that I will stay behind


Andro. No, my Cephisa, I must have thee live. A nobler passion takes up all my thoughts: I must commit into thy faithful hands I must prepare to meet Andromache. All that is dear and precious to my soul. Do thou place all my guards about her son: Live, and supply my absence to my child; If he be safe, Pyrrhus is free from fear. [Exit. All that remains of Troy; a future progeny Phoe. Oh, Pyrrhus! oh, what pity 'tis, the gods, Of heroes, and a distant line of kings, Who fill'd thy soul with every kingly virtue, In him, is all intrusted to thy care. Form'd thee for empire and consummate Tell him my soul repos'd itself on him,


Should leave thee so expos'd to wild desires,
That hurry thee beyond the bounds of reason!

But see, the queen,
Magniscent in royal pride, appears.
I must obey, and guard her son from danger.

Ceph. Madam, once more you look and
move a queen.
Your sorrows are dispers'd, your charms revive,
And every faded beauty blooms anew.
Andro. Yet all is not as I could wish, Cephisa.
Ceph. You see the king is watchful o'er

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

When I resign'd my son to his protection.
Ceph. Oh, for a spirit to support my grief!
Is there aught more, before you go for ever?
Andro. Oh, my Cephisa! my swoln heart
is full!

I have a thousand farewells to my son-
But tears break in! Grief interrupts my speech!
My soul o'erflows in fondness! Let him know
I died to save him-and would die again.
Season his mind with early hints of glory;
Make him acquainted with his ancestors;
Trace out their shining story in his thoughts;
Dwell on the exploits of his immortal father;
And sometimes let him hear his mother's name.
He must be taught to stifle his resentments,
And sacrifice his vengeance to his safety.
Should he prove headstrong, rash, or unadvis'd,
He then will frustrate all his mother's virtue,
Provoke his fate, and I shall die in vain.
Ceph. Alas, I fear I never shall outlive you!
Andro. No more; thy tears, Cephisa, will
betray me;

Assume a cheerful look. But still remember-
[Flourish within.

Hark how the trumpet, with its sprightly_notes,
Proclaims th'appointed hour, and calls us hence:
Hector, I come once more a queen, to join thee!
Thus the gay victim, with fresh garlands crown'd,
Pleas'd with the sacred fife's enlivening sound,
Through gazing crowds,in solemn state proceeds,
And dress'd in fatal pomp magnificently bleeds.



Her. What have I done? Where am I?
Where is Pyrrhus?

Ye gods! what mean these horrors? I'm undone
My soul is on the rack! I cannot bear it
Why do I wander like some guilty ghost?

[blocks in formation]

Her. No; I'll avenge myself; I'll to the temple;
I'll overturn the altar, stab the priest;
I'll hurl destruction, like a whirlwind, round me!
They must not wed! they must not live! they
shall not!

The court of Pyrrhus has no room for me!
Do I still doubt if I should love or hate him?
Hard-hearted man! how unconcern'd he left me!
Did he once sigh? bestow one pitying look? Let me be gone; I have no time to lose;
Once shed a tear? or speak one soft, kind word? Stand off! hold me not! I am all distraction!
Did he so much as feign one moment's sorrow, O Pyrrhus! tyrant! traitor! thou shalt bleed.
To calm my grief, and mitigate his falsehood?
Why am I still thus anxious for his life?
Why do I start at his impending fate?

Shall be then live? Shall the base traitor live
To laugh at my distress? No, let him perish!
Be quick, Orestes! Execute my orders!
Alas! my orders! Oh, preposterous guilt!
Can I decree the death of him I love?
Was it for this my soul delighted in him?
Was it for this I left my father's court?
Have I then cross'd so many realms and seas
To murder Pyrrhus?

Enter CLEOne.

[blocks in formation]


Ores. Madam, 'tis done: your orders are

The tyrant lies expiring at the altar.
Her. Is Pyrrhus slain?

Ores. Even now he gasps in death.
Our Greeks, all undistinguish'd in the crowd,
Flock'd to the temple and dispers'd themselves
On every side the altar: I was there:
Pyrrhus observ'd me with a haughty eye,
And, proud to triumph over Greece in me,
From his own brows he took the diadem,
And bound it on the temples of his captive.
Receive, said he, my crown; receive my faith;
Mine and my people's sovereign reign for ever.
From this blest hour, a father to your son,
I'll scourge his foes: henceforward be he styl'd
The Trojan king: I swear it at the altar,
And call the gods to ratify my vows.
His subjects with loud acclamations shook
The spacious dome! our Greeks enrag'd cry'd out
"Revenge! revenge!" broke through the throng-
ing press,

She pass'd along with a dejected air,
And 'seem'd to mourn her Hector to the last.
Her. Insulting tyrant! I shall burst with rage! And rush'd tumultuous on the unguarded king.
But say, Cleone, didst thou mark him well? Pyrrhus awhile oppos'd their clashing swords,
Was his brow smooth? Say, did there not appear And dealt his fatal blows on every side
Some shade of grief? some little cloud of sorrow? With manly fierceness; till oppress'd by
Did he not stop? Did he not once look back?


Didst thou approach him? Was he not con- Streaming with blood, all over gash'd with


Did he not-Oh, be quick, and tell me all!
Cle. Madam, the tumult of his joy admits
No thought but love. Unguarded he march'd on,
'Midst a promiscuous throng of friends and foes,
His cares all turn upon Astyanax,
Whom he has lodg'd within the citadel,
Defended by the strength of all his guards.
Her. Enough! he dies! the traitor! Where's

Cle. He's in the temple, with his whole retinue.
Her. Is he still resolute? Is he still determin'd?
Cle. Madam, I fear-

Her. How? Is Orestes false?
Does he betray me too?

Cle. A thousand doubts

Perplex his soul, and wound him with remorse;
His virtue and his love prevail by turns.
He told me Pyrrhus should not fall ignobly;
Pyrrhus, the warlike son of great Achilles,
He dreads the censure of the Grecian states,
Of all mankind, and fears to stain his honour.
Her. Poor tim'rous wretch! 'tis false! he
basely fears


He reel'd, he groan'd, and at the altar fell.
Haste, madam, let us fly! haste to our ships!
They lie unmoor'd: our friends attend us there.
Her. What have they done?


Ores. Madam, forgive their rage.
own your vengeance had been more complete
Had Pyrrhus fall'n by me; and had he known
Hermione chastis'd him by my arm.

Her. Peace, monster, peace! Go tell thy
horrid tale

To savages, and howl it out in deserts.
Wouldst thou impute to me thy barbarous guilt?
Me wouldst thou make th' accomplice of thy

Hence, to thy Greeks, and boast thy foul ex-

My soul abhors them! I disclaim the deed.
Be gone! I know thee not, thou fell barbarian
What had he done? What could provoke thy


To assassinate so great, so brave a man?
Who set thee on

Ores. Oh, grant me patience, heaven! To cope with dangers, and encounter death! With your own lips did you not curse the tyrant Tis that he fears. Am I bright Helen's daughter? Pronounce his death, and urge me to destro To vindicate her wrongs all Greece conspir'd; For her confederate nations fought, and kings

were slain;


Her. What if, transported by my boundles passion,

Troy was o'erthrown, and a whole empire fell. I could not bear to see him wed another, My eyes want force to raise a lover's arm Were you t' obey a jealous woman's frenzy? Against a tyrant that has dar'd to wrong me! You should have div'd into my inmost thought Cle. Madam, like Helen, trust your cause My heart, though full of rage, was free fro to Greece.


And all my anger was excess of love.
Why did you take me at my word? You saw
The struggles of my soul; you heard me rave:
You should have question'd me a thousand times,
Yet still have doubted, and have question'd on,
Before you ventur'd on a life so precious.
Ores. Hear me but speak. Heaven knows,
against my will—

Her. Why did you not return? Why not
consult me

A second time? and, undetermin'd still,
Again return, and still find new delays?
What had your rash officious Greeks, dire

To do with my revenge? What drew you hither?
To bring on me the vengeful foes that haunt you?
Are these the fruits of your detested
Your fatal embassy, your hateful presence
Drove Pyrrhus to my rival, and destroys
Both him and me. He might have lov'd me still,
Had you ne'er interpos'd. Avaunt! be gone!
And leave me in Epirus. I renounce
My friends, my country, Greece, and all

But chiefly I renounce thee! monster, thee!
Ores. Am I awake? where am I? Soft,
my soul;

Be not too rash. Was that Hermione?
Why should her anger thunder against me?
Was not this blood shed all by her command?
I am indeed a most outrageous monster!
A ruffan, murderer, a base assassin!
And all to please a false ungrateful woman.
Henceforward let the laws of nature cease;
And let the pale that severs right and wrong,
Things sacred and profane, be broken down;
Gods in their temples, kings upon their thrones,
Are not in safety while Orestes lives.

Oh, never more shall my torn mind be heal'd,
Nor taste the gentle comforts of repose!
A dreadful band of gloomy cares surround me,
And lay strong siege to my distracted soul.

Enter PYLADES, attended by Greeks.
Pyl. Haste, prince; let us be gone: 'tis death
to stay.
Andromache reigns queen: she gives the alarm,
And vows revenge upon the foes of Pyrrhus.
The people arm and muster in the streets:
Our Greeks will not he able long to guard
The palace gates, and to secure our flight.
We must be speedy, sir.

Ores. You may depart,

A dreadful instance of your power to punish.
I'm singled out to bear the wrath of heaven.
Pyl. You hazard your retreat by these delays.
The guards will soon beset us. Your complaints
Are vain, and may be fatal.

Ores. True, my friend:

And therefore 'twas I thank'd the bounteous gods.
My fate's accomplish'd; I shall die content.
Oh, bear me hence. Blow winds!
Pyl. Let us be gone.

Ores. The murder'd lovers wait me. Hark!
they call.

Nay, if your blood still reeks, I'll mingle mine;
One tomb will hold us all.
Pyl. Alas! I fear

His raving will return with his misfortunes.
am dizzy! Clouds! Quite lost in
utter darkness!

Guide me, some friendly pilot! through the storm.
I shiver! Oh, I freeze! So-light returns;
'Tis the grey dawn. See, Pylades! behold,
I am encompass'd with a sea of blood!
The crimson billows! Oh, my brain's on fire!
Pyl. How is it, sir? Repose yourself on me.
Ores. Pyrrhus, what wouldst thou? How
he glares!

What envious hand has clos'd thy wounds?
Have at thee.

It is Hermione that strikes. Confusion!
She catches Pyrrhus in her arms. Oh, save me!
How terrible she looks! She knits her brow;
She frowns me dead; she frights me into madness.
Where am I? Who are you?

Pyl. Alas, poor prince!

Help to support him. How he pants for breath!

Ores. This is most kind, my Pylades. Oh, why, Why was I born to give thee endless trouble? Pyl. All will go well: he settles into reason. Ores. Who talks of reason? Better to have none,


Than not enough. Run, some one, tell my Greeks
will not have them touch the king. Now, now!
I blaze again! See there: look where they come;
A shoal of furies. How they swarm about me!
My terror! Hide me! Oh, their snaky locks!
Hark,how they hiss! See,see their flaming brands!
Now they let drive at me! How they grin,
And shake their iron whips! My ears! what

And see, Hermione! she sets them on.
Thrust not your scorpions thus into my bosom!
Oh, I am stung to death! Dispatch me soon!
There-take my heart, Hermione! Tear it out!
Disjoint me! kill me! Oh, my tortur'd soul!
Pyl. Kind heaven, restore him to his wonted

My friends: Hermione and I remain.
Her cruelty has quite undone me. Go.
Pyl Alas, unhappy princess! she's no more. Oft have I seen him rave, but never thus.
Ores. Hermione no more! O, all ye powers! Quite spent! Assist me, friends, to bear him off.
Pl. Full of disorder, wildness in her looks, Our time is short: should his strong rage return,
With hands expanded, and dishevell'd hair, Twould be beyond our power to force him hence.
Breathless and pale, with shrieks she sought Away, my friends! I hear the portal open.

the temple;

In the mid-way she met the corpse of Pyrrhus:

She rais'd her


Enter PHOENIX, attended by Guards. She startled at the sight; then, stiff with horror, Phoe. All, all are fled! Orestes is not here! Gaz'd frightful! Waken'd from the dire amaze, Triumphant villains! The base, giddy rabble, eyes to heaven with such a look Whose hands should all have been employ'd As spoke her sorrows, and reproach'd the gods; Then plung'd a poniard deep within her breast, To waste the fleet, flock'd round the dying And fell on Pyrrhus, grasping him in death.

with fire,


Ores. I thank you, gods: I never could expect And, while they stand agaze, the Greeks embark.
To be so wretched! You have been industrious Oh, 'tis too plain! this sacrileg'ous murder
To finish your decrees; to make Orestes

Was authoriz'd. The ambassador's escape

« EelmineJätka »