« EelmineJätka »
Magnificent in royal pride, appears.
I must obey, and guard her son from danger.
Enter ANDROMACHE and CEPHISA.
Ceph. Madam, once more you look and move
Your sorrows are dispersed, your charms revive,
And every faded beauty blooms anew.
Andr. Yet all is not as I could wish, Cephisa.
Ceph. You see the king is watchful o'er your
Decks him with princely robes, with guards surrounds him.
Astaynax begins to reign already.
Andr. Pyrrhus is nobly minded: and I fain
Would live to thank him for Astyanax:
'Tis a vain thought-However, since my child
Has such a friend, I ought not to repine.
Ceph. These dark unfoldings of your soul per-
What meant those floods of tears, those warm embraces,
As if you bid your son adieu for ever?
For Heaven's sake, madam, let me know your griefs!
If you mistrust my faith
Andr. That were to wrong thee.
Oh, my Cephisa! this gay, borrowed air,
This blaze of jewels, and this bridal dress,
Are but mock trappings to conceal my woe:
My heart still mourns; I still am Hector's widow.
Ceph. Will you then break the promise given
Blow up his rage afresh, and blast your hopes?
Andr. I thought, Cephisa, thou hadst known
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
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?
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 un-
The living Hector! Loud he bid me fly!
Fly from Achilles' son! then sternly frowned,
And disappeared. Struck with the dreadful
This fell despair ill suits your present fortunes.
Andr. No other stratagem can serve my pur-
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?
Andr. Nor this, nor that, Cephisa, will I Once more I do conjure thee, live for me.
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 him;
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 naine.
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-
What have I done? Where am I? Where is Pyrrhus?
Ye gods! What mean these horrors? I am undone!
My soul is on the rack! I cannot bear it:
Why do I wander like some guilty ghost?
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?
Did he not- -Oh, be quick and tell me all!
Cleo. Madam, the tuinult 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,
Whom he has lodged within the citadel,
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:
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;
What brought me to this place? What keeps me Of all mankind; and fears to stain his honour.
Her. Poor timorous wretch! 'tis false! he base ly fears
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.
My eyes want force to raise a lover's arin,
Against a tyrant that has dared to wrong me !
Cleo. Madam, like Helen, trust your cause to
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
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!
What had he done? What could provoke thy
To assassinate so great, so brave a man?
Who set thee on?
Orest, Oh, grant me patience, Heaven!
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
I could not bear to see him wed another,
Were you to obey a jealous woman's frenzy?
You should have dived into my inmost thoughts:
My heart, though full of rage, was free from ma-
Orest. Madam, 'tis done; your orders are obey- And all my anger was excess of love.
The tyrant lies expiring at the altar,
Her. Is Pyrrhus slain?
Orest. Even now he gasps in death:
Our Greeks, all undistinguished in the crowd,
Flocked to the temple, and dispersed themselves
On every side the altar. I was there;
Pyrrhus observed 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 styled
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, enraged, cried
Revenge! revenge! broke through the thronging
And rushed, tumultuous, on the unguarded king;
Their eager fury left no work for me.
Pyrrhus awhile opposed their clashing swords,
And dealt his fatal blows, on every side,
With manly firmness; till, opprest by numbers,
Streaming with blood, all over gashed with wounds,
He reeled, he groaned, and at the altar fell.
-Haste, madam; let us fly! Haste to our ships!
They lie unmoored: 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 fallen by me, and had he known
Hermione chastised him by my arm.
Her. Peace, monster! peace! Go tell thy hor-
To savages, and howl it in the desert.
Wouldst thou impute to me thy barbarous guilt?
Me wouldst thou make the accomplice of thy
Hence to thy Greeks, and boast thy foul ex-
My soul abhors them! I disclaim the deed! Begone! I know thee not! Thou fell barbarian!
Why did you take me at my word! You saw
The struggles of my soul; you heard me rave;
You should have questioned me a thousand times,
Yet still have doubted, and still questioned on,
Before you ventured on a life so precious.
Orest, Hear me but speak: Heaven knows,
against my will-
Her. Why did you not return? Why not con
A second time? And, undetermined still,
Again return, and still find new delays?
What had your rash officious Greeks, dire blood-
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 loved me still,
Had you ne'er interposed-Avaunt! Begone!
And leave me in Epirus. I renounce
My friends, my country, Greece, and all man-
But chiefly I renounce thee! monster, thee!
[Exit. Orest. Am I awake? Where am I? Soft my, soul;
-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 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 healed,
Nor taste the gentle comfort of
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
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.
My friends -Hermione and I remain-
Her cruelty has quite undone me !-Go,
And leave me to myself—I'll find her out,
Pyl. Alas, unhappy princess! she's no more;
Forget her, sir, and save yourself with us.
Orest. Hermione no more!-Oh, all ye powers! Pyl. Full of disorder, wildness in her looks, With hands expanded, and dishevelled hair, Breathless and pale, with shrieks she sought the temple;
In the mid-way she met the corpse of Pyrrhus; She started at the sight; then, stiff with horror, Gazed frightful: waked from the dire amaze, She raised her eyes to heaven with such a look, As spoke her sorrows, and reproached the gods: Then plunged a poniard deep within her breast, And fell on Pyrrhus, grasping him in death. Orest. I thank you, gods-I never could expect
To be so wretched-You have been industrious
To finish your decrees; to make Orestes
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.
His ravings will return with his misfortunes. Orest. I 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 encompassed with a sea of blood!-
The crimson billows!-Oh, my brain's on fire!
Pyl. How is it, sir?-Repose yourself on me.
Orest. Pyrrhus, stand off!- -What wouldst
I blaze again! See there! Look where they come; A shoal of furies-How they swarm about me! My terror! Hide me! Oh, their snakey locks! Hark, how they hiss! See, see their flaming brands!
Now they let drive full at me! How they grin, And shake their iron whips! My ears! What yelling!
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 tortured soul !
Pyl. Kind Heaven restore him to his wonted
Oft have I seen him rave, but never thus :
Quite spent! Assist me, friends, to bear him off;
Our time is short: should his strong rage return,
'Twould be beyond our power to force him hence.
Away, my friends! I hear the portal open.
Enter PHENIX, attended by Guards. Phan. All, all are fled! Orestes is not here! Triumphant villains!-The base, giddy rabble, Whose hands should all have been employed with fire,
To waste the fleet, flocked round the dying prin
And, while they stand agaze, the Greeks embark.
Oh, 'tis too plain!-this sacrilegious murder
Was authorised.The ambassador's escape
Declares his guilt.- -Most bloody embassy!
Most unexampled deed!—Where, where, ye gods,
Is majesty secure, if in your temples
You give it no protection!-See, the queen.
[A flourish of trumpets.
Enter ANDROMACHE and CEPHISA.
Andr. Yes, ye inhuman Greeks! the time will
When you shall dearly pay your bloody deeds! What envious hand has closed thy wounds? How should the Trojans hope for mercy from
Ceph. It is the corpse of Pyrrhus. The weeping soldiers bear him on their shields. Andr. Ill-fated prince! too negligent of life, And too unwary of the faithless Greeks! Cut off in the fresh ripening prime of manhood, Even in the pride of life: thy triumphs new, And all thy glories in full blossom round thee! The very Trojans would bewail thy fate.
Ceph. Alas, then, will your sorrows never end! Andr. Oh, never, never!—While I live, my
Will never cease; for I was born to grieve.Give present orders for the funeral pomp: [To Phanix. Let him be robed in all his regal state; Place round him every shining mark of honour: And let the pile, that consecrates his ashes, Rise like his fame, and blaze above the clouds. [A flourish of trumpets.