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Is vice, is pain, is infamy. Alas!
Ilys. Yet the tender friend,
Who should direct me, leaves me to myself.
Alet. Would fate permit,
I would attend thee still. But, Oh, Ilyssus,
Be strictly just; but yet, like Heaven, with mercy
Temper thy justice. From thy purged ear
Weak, erring, selfish man, endued with power
If conquest charm thee, and the pride of war
Of happy kingdoms, know, from thy example,
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!
[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!
It cannot be, my senses all deceive me-
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
Beyond redress, nor knew another means,
Cre. To what have I consented? Ha! Who Despair I thought might conquer love, and the
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
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
Nic. Far from hence-
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
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,
Nic. Thy rashness, my Creusa,
Čre. I will be rash, if this
Be rashness, to declare to earth, to Heaven,
Nic. We need not wait;
For by my care the important means is found
My utmost caution, and wilt force me tell thee, Ilyssus is young Ion!-Ha! Creusa!
What means this look? Good Heaven! How her
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?
Cre. Phorbas urged the deed,
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?
Lyc. The queen, the queen!
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,
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
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,
Eternal pain to memory! the slave
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
Too much already have I been deceived;
Lyc. Mine! good Heaven!
Phor. Stay, she wants them not;
I know the poison's force too well, Lycea,
Some secret message to the queen, Lycea,
Enter PYTHIA and NICANDER.
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,
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
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
Nic. I fear her much.
Upon the instant. But first hear me, Pythia;
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
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.
I start, I tremble at the thoughts of life.
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!
Enter LYCEA, hastily.
Lyc. Mighty queen, I know not
If thy command would authorize the attempt,
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
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
Gods! must I never know sweet peace again! Not even in death have rest!
Pyth. Behold, who comes
Nic. To death, to death, Creusa.
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
Why am I thus encompassed round with wonder?
May I not know this riddle of my fate?
Cre. Thou art born to thrones,
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!
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
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 !
Ilys. How hard he grasps my hand!
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,
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.