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Sal. Why, like a man—a hero; baffled, but And skirts of these our realms lle not, Not vanquish’d. With but twenty guards,
this Bacchus she made
Conquer'd the whole of India, did he not? Good her retreat to Bactria.
Sal. He did,and thence was deem'd a deity. Sard. And how many
Sard. Not so:- of all his conquests a Left she behind in India to the vultures ?
few columns, Sal. Our annals say not.
Which may be his, and might be mine, if I Sard. Then I will say for them- Thought them worth purchase and conThat she had better woven within her palace
veyance, are Some twenty garments, than with twenty The landmarks of the seas of gore he shed, guards
The realms he wasted, and the hearts he Have fled to Bactria, leaving to the ravens,
broke. And wolves, and men, the fiercer of the But here, here in this goblet is his title three,
To immortality-the immortal grape Her myriads of fond subjects. Is this glory? From which he first express'd the soul, and Then let me live in ignominy ever.
gave Sal. All warlike spirits have not the To gladden that of man, as some atonement same fate.
For the victorious mischiefs he had done. Semiramis, the glorious parent of
Had it not been for this, he would have been A hundred kings, although she fail'd in A mortal still in name as in his grave; India,
And, like my ancestor Semiramis, Brought Persia, Media, Bactria, to the A sort of semi-glorious human monster. realm
Here's that which deified him - let it now Which she once sway'd—and thou mightst Humanize thee; my surly, chiding brother, sway.
Pledge me to the Greek god! Sard. I sway them
Sal. For all thy realms She but subdued them.
I would not so blaspheme our country's Sal. It may be ere long
creed. That they will need her sword more than Sard. That is to say, thou thinkest him your sceptre.
a hero, Sard. There was a certain Bacchus, was That he shed blood by oceans; and no god, there not?
Because he turn'd a fruit to an enchantment, I've heard my Greek girls speak of such, which cheers the sad, revives theold, inspires
The young, makes Weariness forget his toil, He was a god, that is, a Grecian god, And Fear her danger; opens a new world An idol foreign to Assyria's worship, When this, the present, palls. Well, then, Who conquer'd this same golden realm of I pledge thee Ind
And him as a true man, who did his utmost Thou prat’st of, where Semiramis was in good or evil to surprise mankind. vanquish'd.
.[Drinks. Sal. I have heard of such a man; and Sal. Wilt thou resume a revel at this hour? thou perceiv'st
Sard. And if I did, 'twere better than That he is deem'd a god for what he did.
a trophy, Sard. And in his godship I will honour Being bought without a tear. But that is not him
My present purpose: since thou wilt not Not much as man. What, ho! my cupbearer!
pledge me, Sal. What means the king ?
Continue what thou pleasest. Sard. To worship your new god (To the Cupbearer) Boy, retire. And ancient conqueror. Some wine, I say.
[Erit Cupbearer. Enter Cupbearer.
Sal. I would but have recall'd thee from
thy dream: Sard. (addressing the Cupbearer) Better by me awaken’d than rebellion. Bring me the golden goblet thick with gems, Sard. Who should rebel? or why? what Which bears the name of Nimrod's chalice.
cause ? pretext? Hence!
I am the lawful king, descended from Fill full, and bear it quickly.
A race of kings who knew no predecessors.
[Exit Cupbearer. What have I done to thee, or to the people, Sal. Is this moment
That thou shouldst rail, or they rise up A fitting one for the resumption of
against me? Thy yet unslept-off revels ?
Sal. Of what thou hast done to me, 1 Rc-enter Cupbearer, with wine.
Sard. But Sard. (taking the cup from him) Noble Thou thinkst that I have wrong'd the kinsman,
queen : is't not so? If these barbarian Greeks of the far shores Sal. Think! Thou hast wrong'd her!
Sard. Patience, prince, and hear me. Sal. A worthy moral, and a wise inShe has all power and splendour of her scription, station,
For a king to put up before his subjects! Respect, the tutelage of Assyria's heirs, Sard. Oh, thou wouldst have me doubtThe homage and the appanage of sove- less set up edictsreignty.
“Obey the king contribute to his treasureI married her as monarchs wed-for state, Recruit his phalanx-spill your blood at And loved her as most husbands love their bidding wives.
Fall down and worship, or get up and toil." If she or thou supposedst I could link me Or thus—“Sardanapalus on this spot Like a Chaldean peasant to his mate, Slew fifty thousand of his enemies. Ye knew nor me, normonarchs, nor mankind. These are their sepulchres, and this his Sal. I pray thee, change the theme; my trophy." blood disdains
I leave such things to conquerors ; enough Complaint, and Salemenes' sister seeks not For me, if I can make my subjects feel Reluctant love even from Assyria's lord ! The weight of human misery less, and glide Nor would she deign to accept divided Ungroaning to the tomb ; I take no licence passion
Which I deny to them. We all are men. With foreign strumpets and Ionian slaves. Sal. Thy sires have been revered as The queen is silent.
godsSard. And why not her brother ?
Sard. In dust Sal. I only echo thee the voice of empires, And death, where they are neither gods Which he who long neglects not long will govern.
Talk not of such to me! the worms are gods; Sard. The ungrateful and ungracious At least they banqueted upon your gods, slaves! they murmur
And died for lack of further nutriment. Because I have not shed their blood, nor Those gods were merely men; look to led them
their issueTo dry into the desert's dust by myriads, I feel a thousand mortal things about me, Or whiten with their bones the banks of But nothing godlike, unless it may be Ganges;
The thing which you condemn,a disposition Nor decimated them with savage laws,
To love and to be merciful, to pardon Nor sweated them to build up Pyramids, The follies of my species,and (that's human) Or Babylonian walls.
To be indulgent to my own.
Sard. What dost dread ? And lavish'd treasures, and contemned Sal. Thou art guarded by thy foes : in virtues.
a few hours Sard. Now, for my trophies I have founded The tempest may break out which overcities :
whelms thee, There's Tarsus and Anchialns, both built And thine and mine; and in another day In one day-what could that blood-loving What is shall be the past of Belus' race. beldame,
Sard. What must we dread ?
Which has environ'd thee with snares;
signet Which shames both them and thee to coming To quell the machinations, and I lay ages.
The heads of thy chief foes before thy fect. Sard. Shame me! By Baal, the cities, Sard. The heads-- how many! though well built,
Sal. Must I stay to number Are not more goodly than the verse! Say When even thine own's in peril? Let me go; what
Give me thy signet – trust me with the rest. Thou wilt gainst me,my mode of life or rule, Sard. I will trust no man with unliBut nothing 'gainst the truth of that brief
mited lives. record.
When we take those from others, we nor know Why, those few lines contain the history What we have taken, nor the thing we Of all things human; hear—“Sardanapalus
give. The king, and son of Anacyndaraxes, Sal. Wouldst thou not take their lives In one day built Anchialus and Tarsus.
who seek for thine? Eat, drink, and love; the rest's not worth Sard. That's a hard question.--But, I a fillip."
Cannot the thing be done without? Who I would not give the smile of one fair girl are they
For all the popular breath that e'er divided Whom thou suspectest? - Let them be A name from nothing. What are the rank arrested.
tongues Sal. I would thou wouldst not ask me; of this vile herd, grown insolent with the next moment
feeding, Will send my answer through thy bab- That I should prize their noisy praise, or bling troop
As such their hearts are something.
Thou hast my signet :- since they are Sard. Name it.
tumultuous, Sal. That thou this night forbear the Let them be temper'd; yet not roughly, till banquet
Necessity enforce it. I hate all pain, In the pavilion over the Euphrates. Given or received; we have enough within us, Sard. Forbear the banquet! Not for all The meanest vassal as the loftiest monarch, the plotters
Not to add to each other's natural barthen That ever shook a kingdom ! Let them come, of mortal misery, but rather lessen, And do their worst: I shall not blench for By snild reciprocal alleviation, them;
The fatal penalties imposed on life; Nor rise the sooner; nor forbear the goblet; But this they know not,or they will not know. Nor crown me with a single rose the less; I have, by Baal! done all I could to soothe Nor lose one joyous hour.-I fear them not.
them: Sal. But thou wouldst arm thee, wouldst I made no wars, I added no new imposts, thou not, if needful ?
I interfered not with their civic lives, Sard. Perhaps. I have the goodliest I let them pass their days as best might armour, and
suit them, A sword of such a temper; and a bow Passing iny own as suited me. And javelin, which might furnish Nimrod Sal. Thou stopp'st forth:
Short of the duties of a king; and therefore A little heavy, but yet not unwieldy. They say thou art unfit to be a monarch. And now I think on't, 'tis long since I've Sard. They lie.—Unhappily, I am unfit used them,
To be aught save a monarch; else for me, Even in the chase. Hast ever seen them, The meanest Mede might be the king instead. brother?
Sal. There is one Mede, at least, who Sal. Is this a time for such fantastic
seeks to be so. trifling?
Sard. What meanst thou? – 'tis thy secret; If need be, wilt thou wear them?
thou desirest Sard. Will I not?
Few questions, and I'm not of carious nature. Oh! if it must be so, and these rash slaves Take the fit steps; and since necessity Will not be ruled with less, I'll use the Requires, I sanction and support thee. Ne'er sword
Was man who more desired to rule in peace Till they shall wish it turn'd into a distaff
. The peaceful only; if they rouse me, better Sal. They say, thy sceptre 's turn’d to They had conjured up stern Nimrod from that already.
his ashes, Sard. That's false! but let them say so: "The mighty hunter." I will turn these the old Greeks,
realms Of whom our captives often sing, related To one wide desert-chase of brutes, who were, The same of their chief hero, Hercules, But would no more, by their own choice, Because he loved a Lydian queen : thou seest
be human. The populace of all the nations seize What they have found me, they belie; that Each calumny they can to sink their which sovereigns.
They yet may find me - shall defy their Sal. They did not speak thus of thy fathers.
wish Sard. No;
To speak it worse ; and let them thank They dared not. They were kept to toil
themselves. and conibat,
Sal. Then thou at last canst feel ? And never changed their chains but for Sard. Feel! who fecls not their armour:
Ingratitude ? Now they have peace and pastime, and the Sal. I will not pause to answer licence
With words, but deeds. Keep thou awake To revel and to rail; it irks me not.
Which sleeps at times, but is not dead Sard. I know there doth, but not its name; within thee,
What is it? And thou mayst yet be glorious in thy reigu, Myrrha. In my native land a God, As powerful in thy realm. Farewell ! And in my heart a feeling like a God's,
[Exit Salemenes. Exalted ; yet I own 'tis only mortal, Sard. (solus). Farewell!
For what I feel is humble, and yet happyHe's gone; and on his finger bears my signet, That is, it would be happy; but Which is to him a sceptre. He is stern
(Myrrha pauses. As I am heedless; and the slaves deserve Sard. There comes To feel a master. What may be the danger, For ever something between us and what I know not:-he hath found it, let him we deem our happiness: let me remove quell it.
The barrier which that hesitating accent Must I consume my life-this little life - Proclaims to thine, and mine is seal'd. In guarding against all may make it less? Myrrha. My lord ! It is not worth so much! It were to die Sard. My lord - my king-sire—soveBefore my hour, to live in dread of death, reign! thus it isTracing revolt; suspecting all about me, For ever thus, address'd with awe. I ne'er Because they are near; and all who are can see a smile, unless in some broad remote,
banqnet's Because they are far. But if it should be so- Intoxicating glare, when the buffoons If they should sweep me off from earth Have gorged themselves up to equality, and empire,
Or I have quafld me down to their abasoWhy, what is earth or empire of the earth?
ment. I have loved, and lived, and multiplied Myrrha, I can hear all these things, these my image;
names, To die is no less natural than those- Lord – king-sire-monarch—nay, time was Acts of this clay! 'Tis true I have not shed I prized them, Blood, as I might have done, in oceans, till That is, I suffer'd them—from slaves and My name became the synonyme of death
nobles ; A terror and a trophy. But for this But when they falter from the lips I love, I feel no penitence; my life is love: The lips which have been press'd to mine, If I must shed blood, it shall be by force. Till now no drop from an Assyrian vein Comes o'er my heart, a cold sense of the Hath flow'd for me, nor hath the smallest
of this my station, which represses feeling Of Nineveh's vast treasures e'er been lavish'd In those for whom I have felt inost, and On objects which could cost her sons a tear :
makes me If then they hate me, 'tis because I hate not; Wish that I could lay down the dull tiara, If they rebel, it is because I oppress not. And share a cottage on the Caucasus Oh, men! ye must be ruled with scythes, With thee, and wear no crowns but those not sceptres,
of flowers. And mow'd down like the grass, else all Myrrha. Would that we could ! we reap
Sard. And dost thou feel this ? - Why? Is rank abundance, and a rotten harvest Myrrha. Then thou wouldst know what Of discontents infecting the fair soil,
thou canst never know. Making a desert of fertility.
Sard. And that is
At least a woman's.
Sard. I have proved a thousand-
A thousand, and a thousand. The Ionian Myrrha we would crave her Myrrha Hearts? presence.
Sard. I think so. Attendant. King, she is here.
Myrrha. Not one! the time may come
thou mayst. MYRRHA enters.
Sard. It will. Sard. (apart to Attendant) Away! Hear, Myrrha; Salemenes has declaredAddressing Myrrha) Beautiful being ! Or why or how he hath divined it, Belus, Thou dost almost anticipate my heart; Who founded our great realm, knows more It throbb’d for thee, and here thou comest:
than 1let me
But Salemenes bath declared
throne Deem that some unknown influence, some In peril. sweet oracle,
Myrrha. He did well. Communicates between us, though unseen, Sard. And sayst thou so? ? absence, and attracts us to each other. Thou whom he spurn'd so harshly, and Myrrha. There doth.
Drive from our presence with his savage Sard. Save me, my beauty! Thou art
jeers, And made thee weep and blush ?
And what I seek of thee is lovo-not Myrrha. I should do both
safety. More frequently, and he did well to call me Myrrha. And without love where dwells Back to my duty. But thou spakest of peril
security ? Peril to thee
Sard. I speak of woman's love. Sard. Ay, from dark plots and snares Myrrha. The very first From Medes-- and discontented troops and of human life must spring from woman's nations.
breast, I know not what-a labyrinth of things, Your first small words are taught you A maze of mutter'd threats and mysteries: from her lips, Thou knowst the man-it is his usual Your first tears quench'd by her, and your custom.
last sighs But he is honest. Come, we'll think no Too often breathed out in a woman's hearing, more on't
When men have shrunk from the ignoble But of the midnight-festival. Myrrha. 'Tis time
Of watching the last hour of him who led To think of ught save festivals. Thou
them. hast not
Sard. My eloquent Ionian! thou speakst Spurn’d his sage cautions ?
music, Sard. What!--and dost thou fear? The very chorus of the tragic song Myrrha. Fear!- I'm a Greek, and how I have heard thee talk of as the favourite should I fear death?
pastime A slave, and wherefore should I dread my Of thy far father-land. Nay, weep notfreedom?
calm thee. Sard. Then wherefore dost thou turn so Myrrha. I weep not.-But I pray thee, pale?
do not speak Myrrha. I love.
Abont my fathers or their land. Sard. And do not I? I love thee far- Sard. Yet oft far inore
Thou speakest of them. Than either the brief life or the wide realmı, Myrrha. True-true: constant thought Which, it may be, are menaced ;-yet I Will overflow in words unconsciously; blench not.
But when another speaks of Greece, it Myrrha. That means thou lovest nor wounds me. thyself nor me;
Sard. Well, then, how wouldst thon For he who loves another loves himself,
save me, as thou saidst? Even for that other's sake. This is too rash: Myrrha. By teaching thee to save thyKingdoms and lives are not to be so lost.
self, and not Sard. Lost!-- why, who is the aspiring Thyself alone, but these vast realms, from all chief who dared
The rage of the worst war-the war of Assume to win them ?
brethren. Myrrha. Who is he should dread Sard. Why, child, I loathe all war, and To try so much? When he who is their ruler warriors; Forgets himself, will they remember him? I live in peace and pleasure: what can man Sard. Myrrha !
Do more? Myrrha. Frown not upon me: you have Myrrha. Alas! my lord, with common men smiled
There needs too oft the show of war to keep Too often on me not to make those frownsi The substance of sweet peace; and for a Bitterer to bear than any punishment
king, Which they may augur. -King, I am your 'Tis sometimes better to be fear'd than subject !
loved. Master, I am your slave! Man, I have Sard. And I have never songht but for loved you !
Sard. Dost thou say so, Myrrha ? Although a Greek, and born a foe to Myrrha. I speak of civic popular love, monarchs
self love, A slave, and hating fetters-an Ionian, Which means that men are kept in awe and And, therefore, when I love a stranger, more
law, Degraded by that passion than by chains! Yet not oppress'd—at least they must not Still I have loved you. If that love were strong
Or if they think so, deem it necessary, Enough to overcome all former nature, To ward off worse oppression, their own Shall it not claim the privilege to save you? passions.
think so ;