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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!
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 once look back?
Didst thou approach him? Was he not confounded ?
Did he not- -Oh, be quick and tell me all !
Cleo. 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 Orestes ? Cleo. He's in the temple with his whole retinue. Her. Is he still resolute? Is he still determin'd ? 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 :
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
To cope with dangers, and encounter death;
'Tis that he fears :-Am I bright Helen's daughter?
To vindicate her wrongs all Greece conspir'd;
For her confederate nations fought, and kings were
Troy was o'erthrown, and a whole empire fell.
My eyes want force to raise a lover's arm
Against a tyrant that has dar'd to wrong me.
Cleo. Madam, like Helen, trust your cause to Greece.
Her. No; I'll avenge myself; I'll to the temple;
I'll overturn the altar, stab the priest;
l'll hurl destruction like a whirlwind round me!
They must not wed! they must not live! they shall
Let me be gone! I have no time to lose !
Stand off! hold me not! I am all distraction!
Oh, Pyrrhus ! Tyrant ! Traitor! Thou shalt bleed.
Orest. Madam, 'tis done ; your orders are obey'd :
The tyrant lies expiring at the altar.
Her. Is Pyrrhus slain?
Orest. 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 ;
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, cried out,
Revengel revenge I broke thro’the thronging press,
And rush'd tumultuous on the unguarded king,
“ Their eager fury left no work for me.”
Pyrrhus awhile oppos’d their clashing swords,
And dealt his fatal blows on ev'ry side
With manly fierceness; till opprest by numbers,
Streaming with blood, all over gash'd with wounds,
He reeld, 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!
Orest. Madam, forgive their rage.
I 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 in the deserts.
Would'st thou impute to me thy barb'rous guilt ?
Me would'st thou make th'accomplice of thy crimes ?
Hence to thy Greeks, and boast thy foul exploits !
My soul abhors them! I disclaim the deed !
Begonel I know thee not! Thou fell barbarian!
What had he done? What could provoke thy madness
To assassinate so great, so brave a man?
Who set thee on?
Orest. Oh, grant me patience, heav'n!
With your own lips did you not curse the tyrant,
Pronounce his death, and urge me to destroy him?
Her. What if, transported by my boundless passion, I could not bear to see him wed another, Were you to obey a jealous woman's phrenzy? You should have div'd into my inmost thoughts ; My heart, tho'full of rage, was free from malice; 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 still question'd on, Before you ventur'd on a life so precious.
Orest. Hear me but speak : Heav'n knows, against
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 blood
hounds! To do with my revenge? What drew you
hither? To bring on me the vengeful woes that haunt
Are these the fruits of your detested love ?
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! Begone!
And leave me in Epirus. I renounce
My friends, my country, Greece, and all mankind:
But chiefly I renounce thee! monster, thee! [Exit.
Orest. 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 ruffian, murderer, a base assassin!
And all to please a false, ungrateful woman.
Henceforward let the laws of nations cease ;
And let the pale, that seyers 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 heald,
Nor taste the gentle comforts of repose !
A dreadful barid 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
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 be able long to guard
The palace gates, and to secure our flight.
We must be speedy, sir.