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Is vice, is pain, is infamy. Alas!
These were the lessons of thy private life.
This I have told thee oft, but my fond tongue
Runs o'er its former precepts, and forgets
Thou now must mount a throne; a larger scene
Of duty opens.

Ilys. Yet the tender friend,

Who should direct me, leaves me to myself.
Canst thou abandon me?

Alet. Would fate permit,

I would attend thee still. But, Oh, Ilyssus,
Whate'er becomes of me, when thou shall reach
That envied pinacle of earthly greatness,
Where faithful monitors but rarely follow,
Even there, amidst the kindest smiles of fortune,
Forget not thou wert once distressed and friend-

Be strictly just; but yet, like Heaven, with mercy

Temper thy justice. From thy purged ear
Banish base flattery, and spurn the wretch,
Who would persuade thee thou art more than


Weak, erring, selfish man, endued with power
To be the minister of public good.

If conquest charm thee, and the pride of war
Blaze on thy sight, remember thou art placed
The guardian of mankind, nor build thy fame
On rapines, and on murders. Should soft peace
Invite to luxury, the pleasing bane

Of happy kingdoms, know, from thy example,
The bliss or woe of nameless millions springs,
Their virtue, or their vice. Nor think by laws
To curb licentious man; those laws alone
Can bend the headstrong many to their yoke,
Which make it present interest to obey them.
Oh, boy!-

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Cre. That voice is sure familiar to my ear! Who art thou? Speak!

Alet. One whom adversity

Has taught to know himself. I bring thee tidings Of an unhappy man, who wronged thee much, But much repented of the wrongs he did thee; Of thy Nicander, queen.

Cre. Nicander, say'st thou ?

Oh, then thou art indeed my better genius!
Alet. Now arm thy soul for wonders yet to
Perhaps he lives.
Cre. He lives!

[Looking on him with amazement. Alet. [After great irresolution and struggles with himself.] Behold him here! [She faints What has my rashness done! The blush of life Has left her cheek, the pulse forgets to move. Where shall I turn? I cannot call for aid, Nor can I leave her thus. She breaths, she stirs! Yes, yes, Creusa, thy Nicander lives, And he will catch at least this dear embrace, Though now thou art another's!

Cre. Gracious gods!

It is, it is Nicander, 'tis my lord!
Oh, I am only thine! no power on earth
Shall e'er divide us more.

It cannot be, my senses all deceive me-
And yet it is. Oh, let me gaze upon thee,
Recall each trace which marks thee for my own,
And gives me back the image of my heart!
How time and grief have changed thee! But my

Can know no change. My lord, my life, my bus band!

Where hast thou wandered? How hast thou bera hid

From love's all-piercing sight? The bloody ruf

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Beyond redress, nor knew another means,
But by my death, to save thee from dishonour.

Cre. To what have I consented? Ha! Who Despair I thought might conquer love, and the

art thou,

That thus intrudest on sacred privacy,

When the o'erburthened mind unloads its griefs, Its hoarded miseries?

Alet. Thy better genius!

Once more be Athens' pride. The precies


Forbade a real death: I therefore stained With blood my well-known garments, which pre


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Cre. A cursed effect. But I have nearer fears: | But now if thou consent'st, all, all is mine, How cam'st thou hither? Wherefore to these

The boy, where is he?

Nic. Far from hence-
Cre. Thank Heaven!

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And the vile maid

Nic. The priestess, it should seem,

With Xuthus, has conspired to fix his race On Athens' throne.

Cre. But never shall his race

That sceptre wield.

Nic. It never shall, Creusa.

I have a means

Cre. My means, thank Heaven, are surer. [Aside. Nic. But I will tell thee all from first to last. Hear, then, and weigh my words, for fate is in them.

Xuthus, the Athenian king

Cre. I think not of him.

Nic. Beware of that. Whate'er thou think'st,

Xuthus must still reign on, thy lord and husband.

Cre. Xuthus, my lord! then what art thou,

Dost thou despise me for a crime thyself
Hast forced me to commit? My soul was thine,
Even when I gave my hand, and still remains
Undaunted, undefiled.

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And I forgive my fate. The dear, dear boy, I have a means to place him on the throne Secure as we could wish.

Cre. Secure he shall be;

I will proclaim him to the world as mine,
And Athens shall with joy receive its sovereign;
The tyrant Xuthus shall be taught to fear
A master's frown.

Nic. Thy rashness, my Creusa,
May ruin all,

Čre. I will be rash, if this

Be rashness, to declare to earth, to Heaven,
A mother's heart-felt joy, whose only child,
Snatched from the grave, unhoped for, comes to

every grace and every
virtue crowned,
The imperial seat of his great ancestors.
And shall we want a means?

Nic. We need not wait;

For by my care the important means is found
Already, and no human power but thine
Can hinder our success. I would have hid
The secret from thee till thy wished consent
Had given my purpose strength; but thou de-


My utmost caution, and wilt force me tell thee, Ilyssus is young Ion!-Ha! Creusa!

What means this look? Good Heaven! How her

eye fixes!

What have I done? What said, which could at


The seats of sense with this amazing force? My wife, my queen, Oh speak!

Cre. Off, touch me not!

Thou canst not bring relief. Oh, I am cursed Beyond all power of aid! Thou too art cursed, And know'st it not! He dies, he dies, Nicander!

Nic. Amazement! Who?

Cre. Oh, had he not been mine, His youth, his softness, each attracting graceI should have staid whole ages, ere in thought I had consented to so damned a deed. Tears, tears, why burst ye not? But what have I To do with tears? Those are for tender mothers. The tygress weeps not o'er her mangled prey. He dies, he dies, Nicander!

Nic. Who? Ilyssus?
Speak, speak, Creusa!

Cre. Phorbas urged the deed,
And I consented; at the feast he dies
By poison, Oh, my soul!

Nic. Fly, then, this instant!

Perhaps thou may'st prevent it; as thou cam'st He parted hence. I knew not to his death! Cre. I go, I fly.

Nic. Yet stay, thy rashness there, If fate has saved him, may undo us yet. The Pythia! true, the Pythia shall rush in To stop the fatal banquet, and declare The feast unhallowed; at this lucky moment 4 R


She waits me in the temple. Stay, Creusa. [Exit Nicander. Cre. The Pythia, no; I will myself outstrip

The lightning's speed. Whatever be the event, 'Tis not too late to die.



SCENE I.-The Laurel Grove.

Enter PHORBAS and LYCEA. Lyc. OH, earth! Oh, Heaven! Oh, wretched, wretched Athens!

Phor. Speak on, Lycea; wherefore art thou silent?

Why dost thou lead me to this secret shade?
What mean thy flowing tears?

Lyc. The queen, the queen!
Phor. Say, what of her?

Lyc. I know not; all to me

Is terror and confusion.

Phor. What thou know'st Relate.

Lyc. She sent me forth to seek thee, Phorbas;

I found thee not, but met, at my return,
Creusa's self. Despair was in her eyes,
With hasty steps she shot impatient by me,

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yet will blast their schemes. Yes, let her die, By her own folly perish. Athens still Survives, and shall survive. I must be sudden. She, doubtless, will betray me to the king, And cut off even this last resource. Lycea, Be secret, and thy country shall be free.

Lyc. Were it not better, Phorbas, first to see her.

Perhaps, some secret unrevealed may lurk
Beneath this shew of unexampled rashness.

Nor listened when I spake. I followed wonder-She left the banquet soon, and, with the Pythia,


And entered the pavilion.

Phor. The pavilion!

Why, went she to the banquet?

Lyc. Eager went,

Despair and anguish mixing in her look.

But, O good Heaven! how changed was that despair

To inexpressive joy, when, from the crowd,
She learnt Ilyssus had delayed the feast,
And won the king once more to ask her presence.
Where is he? let me clasp him to my breast,'
She cried; I now no longer will resist
"Heaven's high command.' Imperial Xuthus rose,
With transport, to receive her; and loud shouts
Proclaimed the people's joy. When, death to

Eternal pain to memory! the slave
Presents the goblet; 'Fill,' she cried, 'a third!
I, too, will hail Ilyssus king of Athens.
"But, first, all swear, swear by immortal Jove,
"By the far darting god who here presides,

And the chaste guardian of our native fanes, "Swear here, swear all, and binding be the oath, Ilyssus only shall be Athens' king.' Phor. What could she mean? Lyc. Attentive Xuthus caught, With joy, the happy omen, and all swore Illysus only should be Athens' king. This done, I saw her from Ilyssus' hand Snatch the dire goblet, and to him resign

Her own untouched. The slave, who mixed the


Turned pale and trembled; I, with eager zeal, Pressed forward, but in vain; she firmly grasped

Entered the temple.

Phor. With the Pythia, say'st thou? Then there is mischief toward.

Lyc. Yet now alone

We may surprise her, for I saw the maid Quick from the fane return with hasty steps, As if dispatched on some important message; Perhaps to find thee out. Sure thou shouldst see

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Too much already have I been deceived;
I will not leave thee in a woman's power.
Yet hold, Lycea may inform her of them,
And my designs prove yet abortive. Maid,
Thy presence may be needful.

Lyc. Mine! good Heaven!
In what? Creusa will require my aid;
At least my tears are due to my poor queen
In her last moments.

Phor. Stay, she wants them not;

I know the poison's force too well, Lycea,
To fear a death so sudden. This way, maid;
Nay, thou must go; I shall have business for

Some secret message to the queen, Lycea,
Which thou alone canst bear.




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Nic. This action of the queen sits near my heart.

Pyth. She bade me tell thee—But why waste we time?

Thou now may'st enter at the postern gate,
Unseen by all.

Nic. Why didst thou not rush in, and stop the feast?

Thy speedy presence there had saved us all. Pyth. What could I do? The queen was there already,

And all secmed peace and joy; could I suspect That poison lurked beneath so fair a seeming? Nic. She breaks through my designs.-Unhap

py woman!

My soul bleeds for her, and confusion hangs On

every rising thought. The dear, dear boy ! Where is he? at the banquet still?

Pyth. He is.

Nic. And where Creusa?

Pyth. I already told thee,

But thou regardest not, in the temple's gloom
Retired she sits, expecting thy approach.
We there may settle all.

Nic. I fear her much.

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Upon the instant. But first hear me, Pythia;
Thou seest on what a precipice we stand;
It were in vain to hope we could conceal

The truth from Xuthus; from the rest we may; 'Tis thy task, therefore

Pyth. What? to own the fraud,

And publish to the king, that Delphi's shrine
Is not oracular? Ha!

Nic. To the king

'Twere better sure to publish the deceit

Nic. What yet? To Phorbas thou with ease May'st own the truth. He will not start at fraud In sacred things. But see, the queen approaches, Impatient of our stay. She changes not! The bloom of health is still upon her cheek! Fain would I hope-But hopes, alas! are vain.

What hast thou done, Creusa?

Cre. [Entering.] Saved Ilyssus!

Nic. Thou mightst have lived with honour.
Cre. Lived! good Heaven!

I start, I tremble at the thoughts of life.
Canst thou reflect on what I had designed,
On what I am, and what, alas! I have been,
And not perceive death was my only refuge?
Am I not Xuthus' wife? and what art thou?
O hadst thou seen the torments of my soul,
When in one hasty moment it ran o'er
The business of an age, weighed all events,
Saw Xuthus, thee, Ilyssus, Athens, bleed
In one promiscuous carnage! Light, at length,
Burst through the gloom, and heaven's own voice

One victim might suffice.

For Xuthus honour strove, and mightier love Assumed Nicander's cause. Who, then, could fall?

Could Xuthus? Could Nicander!-No; Creusa. Nic. Would thou hadst been less kind !—But, O my queen,

To blame thee now were vain.

Cre. To blame! 'tis praise,

'Tis triumph I demand. He lives! he reigns!
Young Ion lives! young Ion reigns in Athens!
O bring him, Pythia, bring him to my arms;
Let me but pour a last sad blessing o'er him,
And death has lost its terrors.
How now, Lycea ?

Enter LYCEA, hastily.

Lyc. Mighty queen, I know not

If thy command would authorize the attempt,
But Phorbas, with an armed Athenian band,
Now enters the pavilion, to destroy

Than to the world; and, where's the means but The king and young Ilyssus.


To hide it? By Creusa's art thou say'st

He is already bound in solemn oaths

To leave Ilyssus heir to Athens' throne.

Canst thou not add still stronger oaths, or ere

Thou dost reveal the secret of our fate?

Nic. Earth and Heaven! What say'st thou, maid?

Cre. O let me fly to save him!

Here shall their poniards――

Nic. Rest thou there, Creusa.

Thy embassies to-day have proved too fatal.

Then who shall dare to break them? Shall the My life for his I save him from the stroke, king?

Thou know'st his scrupulous piety extends
Almost to weakness. What should tempt him

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And on the instant send him to thy arms. Now, fate, be doubly mine!


Cre. Off, let me go, I will not be restrained. They tear him piecemeal!

Pyth. Patience, mighty queen! What man can do Nicander will perform. Cre. He is a father only to my child, He cannot tell them what a mother feels.Phorbas was born the curse of me and mine. I might have known to what his impious rage

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Gods! must I never know sweet peace again! Not even in death have rest!

Pyth. Behold, who comes


Nic. To death, to death, Creusa.
Amid the fray I met the fate I sought for.
All else is safe, and Xuthus now pursues

To bless thee ere thou diest, and cease to murmur A scattered few, who fall beneath his sword.

At Heaven's high will.


Cre. It is, it is Ilyssus

My son, my son !

Ilys. Good Heavens ! and do I live To see a parent melt in fondness o'er me!Aletes saved me from the soldiers' arms, And bade me fly to find a mother here. Art thou, indeed, that mother, mighty queen! And may I call thee so? Thou art! thy looks, Thy tears, thy kind embraces-all, all proclaim The truth.-O let me thus, thus on my kneesCre. Rise, rise, my child; I am, I am thy mother.

Ilys. O sacred sound, Ilyssus is no more That outcast youth. A mother and a queen He finds at once.

Cre. But art thou safe, my child? Hast thou no wound?

Ilys. The old grey-headed man,

Who brought this morn the news of thy arrival, Had raised against my breast his eager sword, Defenceless I; when good Aletes came

And snatched me from the stroke. I would have staid,

Unarmed with him have staid, but his command
Was absolute, that I should fly to find,
What I have found, a mother!
Yet, oh, queen!


Why am I thus encompassed round with wonder?

May I not know this riddle of my fate?
Why first condemned to pass my infant days
In this obscure retreat? If I am thine,
Thy son, illustrious queen, sure I was born
To thrones and empires?

Cre. Thou art born to thrones,
And shalt in Athens reign.

Ilys. As Xuthus' heir?

Is Xuthus, then, my sire? Forgive me, queen, I have a thousand, and a thousand doubtsCan Xuthus be my sire?

Pyth. Forbear, Ilyssus,

Where is my boy?-Ye guards of innocence!
How has he been beset, and how escaped!
Where is my boy? for I may own him now,
And clasp him to my breast; no more Aletes,
The sage instructor of a youth unknown,
But the dear father weeping o'er his child.
Ilys. Oh, sir, what gratitude before inspired
Let duty pay.
time to waste

Nic. I have no In fondness now. And bind them to


Hear my last words, Ilyssus, thy heart. Thou still must

The son of Xuthus. The good Pythia here
Will tell thee all the story of thy fate:
And may'st thou prosper as thou dost obey
Her sacred counsel! Xuthus, too, must know
The fatal tale; but to the world beside
It must be hid in darkness.

Pyth. Phorbas sure Should be informed.

Nic. Phorbas has breathed his last; And the bribed slave, who mixed the poisonous draught,

Fell by this hand.—Ilyssus, oh, farewell !
I will not bid adieu to thee, Creusa;
Thy colour changes, and the lamp of life
Fades in thy eye; we soon shall meet again.
Ilyssus, oh!-

Ilys. How hard he grasps my hand!
My lord, my father! Have I learned so late
To call thee by that name, and must I lose,
For ever lose?- -Good Heaven! she grasps me

too! What means it, Pythia? the cold damps of death Are on her.

Cre. Oh! my child, enquire no farther; 'Tis fitting we should part. Lycea, Pythia, Intreat of Xuthus-yet I need not fear His goodness; though I wronged him, foully wronged him,

He yet will prove a father to my child,
And from the world conceal the fatal truth.
Oh, I am cold-what bolts of ice shoot through


How my limbs shiver !—Nearer yet, my child;

Nor press thy fate too far. When time permits, My sight grows dim, and I could wish to gaze Thou shalt know all.

Cre. Shalt know it now, Ilyssus.

Not Xuthus is thy sire, but that brave man, Who but this instant snatched thee from thy fate, And by that act proclaimed himself a father. Ilys. Aletes?

Cre. Not Aletes, but Nicander,

My wedded lord, thy sire!-And see, he comes To bless thee, and confirm the sacred truth.Good Heaven, he bleeds!

For ever on thee.-Oh! it will not be

Ev'n thou art lost, Ilyssus !- -Oh- -Farewell.


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