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If I neglect your vows, is he to blame?
Oh, my dead lord! Oh, Priam's royal house!
Has he reproached you with his slaughtered kin- Oh, my Astyanax! At what a price
Can he resent those ills he does not know?
But, oh! 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 thou go find him,
Ceph. What must I say to him?
Andr. Teil him I love my son to such excessBut dost thou think he means the child shall die? Can love rejected turn to so much rage?
Ceph. Madam, he'll soon he here—Resolve on something.
Andr. Well then, assure him-
Ceph. Madam, of your love?
Andr, Alas, thou knowest it is not in my power.
SCENE I-ANDROMACHE, CEPHISA.
Thy mother buys thee!- Let us go.
Ceph. But whither?
And what does your unsettled heart resolve?
Andr. Come, my Cephisa, let us go together,
To the sad monument which I have raised
To Hector's shade; where in their sacred urn
The ashes of my hero lie inclosed;
The dear remains, which I have saved from Troy.
There let me weep, there summon to my aid,
With pious rites, my Hector's awful shade;
Let him be witness to my doubts, my fears,
My agonizing heart, my flowing tears;
Oh! may he rise in pity from his tomb,
And fix his wretched son's uncertain doom!
Ceph. BLEST be the tomb of Hector, that inspires
These pious thoughts: or is it Hector's self, That prompts you to preserve your son! 'Tis he Who still presides o'er ruined Troy; 'tis he Who urges Pyrrhus to restore Astyanax.
Andr. Pyrrhus has said he will; and thou hast heard him
Just now renew the oft-repeated promise.
Ceph. Already in the transports of his heart, He gives you up his kingdom, his allies, And thinks himself o'er-paid for all in you.
Andr. I think I may rely upon his promise: And yet my heart is over-charged with grief. Ceph. Why should you grieve! You see he bids defiance
To all the Greeks; and to protect your son Against their rage, has placed his guards about him;
Leaving himself defenceless for his sake:
But, madam, think, the coronation pomp
Will soon demand your presence in the temple:
'Tis time you lay aside these mourning weeds.
Andr. I will be there; but first would see my
Ceph. Madam, you need not now be anxious for him;
He will be always with you, all your own,
To lavish the whole mother's fondness on him.
What a delight to train beneath your eye,
A son, who grows no longer up in bondage,
A son, in whom a race of kings revive!
But, madam, you are sad, and wrapt in thought,
As if you relished not your happiness.
Andr. Oh, I must see my son once more,
Ceph. Madam, he now will be no more a captive;
Your visits may be frequent as you please.
To-morrow you may pass the live-long dayAndr. To-morrow! Oh, Cephisa!-But, no more!
Cephisa, I have always found thee faithful:
A load of care weighs down my drooping heart.
Ceph. Oh! that 'twere possible for me to ease
Andr. I soon shall exercise thy long-tried faith.
Mean while I do conjure thee, my Cephisa,
Thou take no notice of my present trouble:
And when I shall disclose my secret purpose,
That thou be punctual to perform my will.
Ceph. Madam, I have no will but yours. My life Is nothing, balanced with my love to you.
Andr. I thank thee, good Cephisa; my Astyanax Will recompense thy friendship to his mother. But, come; my heart's at ease: assist me now To change this sable habit.-Yonder comes Hermione; I would not meet her rage. [Exeunt,
Enter HERMIONE and CLEONE.
Cleo. This unexpected silence, this reserve, This outward calm, this settled frame of mind, After such wrongs and insults, much surprise me! You, who before could not command your rage, When Pyrrhus looked but kindly on his captive; How can you bear unmoved, 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, madain-
Her. Have you called Orestes?
Cleo. Madain, 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.
Orest. 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?
Orest. What means that question, princess?
Do I love you?
My oaths, my perjuries, my hopes, my fears,
My farewell, my return, all speak my love.
Her. Avenge my wrongs, and I'll believe them
Orest. It shall be done-my soul has catched the 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!
I will have vengeance here-I will not carry
This load of infamy to Greece, nor 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!
Her. Why, Pyrrhus.
Orest. Pyrrhus! Did you say, Pyrrhus?
Her. You demur !
Oh, fly, begone! give me no time to think!
Talk not of laws-he tramples on all laws-
Let me not hear him justified-away!
Orest. You cannot think I'll justify my rival.
Madam, your love has made him criminal.
You shall have vengeance; I'll have vengeance
But let our hatred be profest and open :
Let us alarm all Greece, denounce a war;
Let us attack him in his strength, and hunt him
By conquest: should I turn base assassin,
"Twould sully all the kings I represent.
Her. Have I not been dishonoured! set at nought!
Exposed 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 loved
The gods alone can tell how once I loved him;
Yes, the false perjured man, I once did love him;
And spite of all his crimes and broken vows,
If he should live, I may relapse-who knows,
But I to-morrow may forgive his wrongs?
Orest. First let me tear him piece-meal-he
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.
This very hour, he weds Andromache;
The temple shines with pomp; the golden throne
Is now prepared; 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.
Begone, Orestes-kill the faithless tyrant:
My love shall recompense the glorious deed.
Orest. 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!
Orest. Hear me but speak!—you know I'll
die to serve you!
Her. I'll go myself: I'll stab him at the altar; Then drive the poniard, recking with his blood, Through my own heart. In death we shall
Better to die with him, than live with you!
Orest. That were to make him blest, and me more wretched:
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
Let all your ships be ready for our flight.
[Exit Orestes. Cleo. Madam, you'll perish in this bold at
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 :
I should have thrust the dagger home; have seen
The tyrant curse me with his panting breath,
And roll about his dying eyes, in vain,
To find Andromache, whom I would hide.
Oh, would Orestes, when he gives the blow,
Tell him he dies my victim!-Haste, Cleone;
Charge him to say, Hermione's resentments,
Not those of Greece, have sentenced him to
Haste, my Cleone! My revenge is lost,
If Pyrrhus knows not that he dies by me!
Cleo. I shall obey your orders-But see
The king approach!-Who could expect him
Pyr. Madam, I ought to shun an injured prin
Your distant looks reproach me: and I come,
Not to defend, but to avow my guilt.
Pyrrhus will ne'er approve his own injustice;
Nor form excuses, while his heart condemns him.
I might perhaps alledge, our warlike sires,
Unknown to us, engaged us to each other,
And joined our hearts by contract, not by love:
But I detest such cobweb arts; I own
My father's treaty, and allow its force.
I sent ambassadors to call you hither;
The man, who ne'er was loved, can ne'er be false.
Obedience to a father brought you hither;
And I stood bound by promise to receive you :
But our desires were different ways inclined;
And you, I own, were not obliged to love me.
Her. Have I not loved you, then! perfidious
For you I slighted all the Grecian princes;
Forsook my father's house; concealed my wrongs,
When most provoked: would not return to
In hopes that time might fix your wavering heart,
I loved you when inconstant: and even now,
Received you as my queen; and hoped my Inhuman king, that you pronounce my death,
So oft renewed, might ripen into love.
The gods can witness, madam, how I fought
Against Andromache's too fatal charms!
And still I wish I had the power to leave
This Trojan beauty, and be just to you.
Discharge your anger on this perjured man!
For I abhor my crime! and should be pleased
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 shews a daring mind!
And you have nobly triumphed o'er a maid!
To court me; to reject me; to return;
Then to forsake me for a Phrygian slave:
To 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 resentments
And pour forth all your indignation on me.
Her. 'Twould please your queen, should I up-
braid your falsehood;
Call you perfidious, traitor, all the names
That injured virgins lavish on your sex;
I should o'erflow with tears, and die with grief,
And furnish out a tale to soothe her pride.
But, sir, I would not over-charge her joys:
If you would charm Andromache, recount
Your bloody battles, your exploits, your slaugh-
Your great achievements, in her father's palace. She needs must love the man, who fought so bravely,
And in her sight slew half her royal kindred. Pyr. With horror I look back on my past deeds!
I punished Helen's wrongs too far; I shed
Too much of blood: but, madam, Helen's
Should not object those ills the mother caused.
However I am pleased to find you hate me :
I was too forward to accuse myself:
My heart still doubts, if I should love or hate
Pha. Sir, did you mind her threats? Your life is in danger!
There is no trifling with a woman's rage.
The Greeks, that swarm about the court, all hate
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 woman's threats?
A nobler passion takes up all my thought:
I must prepare to meet Andromache.
Do thou place all my guards about her son:
If he be safe, Pyrrhus is free from fear.
Oh, Pyrrhus! oh, what pity 'tis, the gods,
Who filled thy soul with every kindly virtue,
Formed thee for empire and consummate great-
Should leave thee so exposed to wild desires,
That hurry thee beyond the bounds of reason!
[A flourish of trumpets.
Such was Achilles; generous, fierce, and brave,
Open and undesigning: but impatient,
Undisciplined, and not to be controuled:
I fear the whirl of passion, this carcer,
That overbears reflection and cool thought;
I tremble for the event! But see, the queen,
Relate the dreadful vision, which I saw,
When first I landed captive in Epirus.
That every night, as in a dream I lay,
A ghastly figure, full of gaping wounds,
His eyes aglare, his hair all stiff with blood,
Full in my sight thrice shook his head, and
I soon discerned my slaughtered Hector's shade; But, oh, how changed! Ye, gods, how much unlike
The living Hector! Loud he bid me fly!
Fly from Achilles' son! then sternly frowned,
And disappeared. Struck with the dreadful
I started and awaked.
Ceph. But did he bid you Destroy Astyanax ?
Andr. Cephisa, I'll preserve him;
With my own life, Cephisa, I'll preserve him. Ceph. What may these words, so full of horror, mean?
Andr. Know, then, the secret purpose of my soul:
Andromache will not be false to Pyrrhus,
For Heaven's sake, madam, let me know your Nor violate her sacred love to Hector.
Couldst thou believe I would be false to Hector?
Fall off from such a husband! break his rest,
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 pursue;
But, oh, I fear there's something dreadful in it!
Must then Astyanax be doomed to die;
And you to linger out a life in bondage?
Andr. Nor this, nor that, Cephisa, will I
My word is past to Pyrrhus, his to me;
And I rely upon his promised faith.
Unequal as he is, I know him well :
Pyrrhus is violent, but he's sincere,
And will perform beyond what he has sworn.
The Greeks will but incense him more; their
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 farther use for life:
This pointed dagger, this determined hand,
Shall save my virtue, and conclude my woes.
Ceph. Ah, madam! recollect your scattered
This fell despair ill suits your present fortunes. Andr. No other stratagem can serve my purpose:
This is the sole expedient to be just
To Hector, to Astyanax, to Pyrrhus.
I shall soon visit Hector, and the shades
Of my great ancestors: Cephisa, thou
Wilt lend a hand to close thy mistress' eyes?
Ceph. Oh, never think that I will stay behind
Andr. No, my Cephisa; I must have thee live.
Remember, thou didst promise to obey,
And to be secret: wilt thou now betray me?
After thy long, thy faithful service, wilt thou
Refuse my last commands, my dying wish?
Once more I do conjure thee, live for me.
Ceph. Life is not worth my care when you are
The first impetuous onsets of his grief;
Use every artifice to keep him stedfast.
Sometimes with tears thou mayst discourse of
Speak of our marriage; let him think I loved
Tell him my soul reposed itself on him,
When I resigned my son to his protection.
Ceph. Oh, for a spirit to support my grief!
Is there ought more before you go for ever?
Andr. Oh, my Cephisa! my swoln heart is
I have a thousand farewells to my son:
But tears break in! Grief interrupts my speech-
-My soul overflows 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.
Let him reflect upon his royal birth
With modest pride; Pyrrhus will prove a friend :
But let him know he has a conqueror's right.
He must be taught to stifle his resentments,
And sacrifice his vengeance to his safety.
Should he prove headstrong, rash, or unadvised,
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.
Andr. No more thy tears, Cephisa, will be-
Why am I still thus anxious for his life?
Why do I start at his impending fate?
Shall he 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 crossed so many realms and seas,
To murder Pyrrhus?
Her. Oh, Cleone, help me!
What have I done? Is Pyrrhus yet alive?
What sayst thou? Answer me: Where is the
Cleo. Madam, I saw the cruel prince set for-
Triumphant in his looks, and full of joy.
Still as he walked his ravished eyes were fixt
On the fair captive; while through shouting
She passed along with a dejected air,
And seemed to mourn her Hector to the last.
Her. Insulting tyrant! I shall burst with rage!
But say, Cleone, didst thou mark him well!
Was his brow smooth? Say, did there not appear
Some shade of grief, some little cloud of sorrow?
Did he not stop? Did he not look once back?
Didst thou approach him? Was he not confound-
Did he not-
Assume a chearful look, but still remember-
Hark how the trumpet, with its sprightly notes,
Proclaims the appointed hour, and calls us hence.
Hector, I come, once more a queen, to join thee!
Thus the gay victim, with fresh garlands crown-Whom he has lodged within the citadel,
-Oh, be quick and tell me all!
Cleo. Madam, the tumult of his joy admits
No thought but love. Unguarded he marched on,
'Midst a promiscuous throng of friends and foes.
His cares all turn upon Astyanax,
Pleased with the sacred fife's enlivening sound,
Through gazing crowds in solemn state proceeds,
And, drest in fatal pomp, magnificently bleeds.
What have I done? Where am I? Where is
Defended by the strength of all his guards.
Her. Enough! he dies!-the traitor !-
Cleo. He's in the temple with his whole retinue.
Her. Is he still resolute? Is he still determined?
Cleo. Madam, I fear-
Her. How! Is Orestes false?
Does he betray me too?
Cleo. A thousand doubts
Perplex his soul, and wound him with remorse:
Ye gods! What mean these horrors? I am un- His virtue and his love prevail by turus.
My soul is on the rack! I cannot bear it :
Why do I wander like some guilty ghost?
What brought me to this place? What keeps me
The court of Pyrrhus has no room for me!
Do I still doubt if I should love or hate him?
Hard-hearted man! How unconcerned he left
Did he once sigh? Bestow one pitying look?
Once shed a tear? Or speak one soft, kind word?
Did he so much as feign one moment's sorrow,
To calm my griefs, and mitigate his falsehood?
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 timorous wretch! 'tis false! he base-
To cope with dangers, and encounter death;
"Tis that he fears:-Am I bright Helen's daugh-
To vindicate her wrongs all Greece conspired;
For her confederate nations fought, and kings
Troy was o'erthrown, and a whole empire fell.