THE GRECIAN DAUGHTER;
A TRAGEDY, IN FIVE ACTS;
BY ARTHUR MURPHY, ESQ.
AS PERFORMED AT THE THEATRE ROYAL, COVENT GARDEN.
PRINTED UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THE MANAGERS FROM THE PROMPT BOOK.
WITH REMARKS BY MRS. INCHBALD.
PRINTED FOR LONGMAN, HURST, REES, AND ORME, PATERNOSTER ROW.
WILLIAM SAVAGE, PRINTER, BEDFORD BURY, LONDON.
This tragedy has been so rapturously applauded on the stage, and so severely criticised in the closet, that it is a task of peculiar difficulty to speak either of its beauties or its defects, with any degree of certainty. To conciliate both the auditor and the reader, both the favourable and the unfavourable critic, the "Grecian Daughter" demands a set of Remarks for each side of the question—and the good-natured side shall have precedence.
This play had, on its first appearance, the most brilliant success, and still holds a place in the list of dramas performed during every season. There is a splendour of decoration, a glow of martial action, events of such deep interest, and, above all, a moral of such excellent tendency, which concludes the performance, that its attraction can readily be accounted for, without the slightest imputation upon the judgment of the public.
Perhaps, of all the events recorded in history, that filial piety, on which the fable of this play is founded, may be classed among the most affecting—yet it was one the most hazardous for a dramatist to adopt; for nothing less than complete skill could have given to this singular occurrence effectual force, joined to becoming delicacy. In this arduous effort Mr. Murphy has evinced the most exact judgment, and the nicest execution.
If this tragedy has not the smooth flowing verse of Otway, Thomson, or Rowe, it possesses, in energy and fire, charms more theatrical; nor does the heroic so wholly engross every scene, but that it yields, at times, to melting pathos.
Another praise due to this production is, that wonderful events take place by the most natural agency. Incidents arise progressively from each other, till the last great incident of all, fills every mind with enthusiasm in the cause of virtue and justice—in the joy of an empire made free by the overthrow of its tyrant.
* * * * *
It is hardly possible to read this tragedy of the "Grecian Daughter," without laughing as well as crying. Some passages excite tears, whilst certain high-sounding sentences, with meaning insignificant, are irresistibly risible.
The popular story, from which the fable of this tragedy is produced, and the surprising event in the last scene—where a woman performs that which a whole army has in vain attempted—together with the powerful acting of Mrs. Barry in the part of Euphrasia, rendered this play greatly attractive when it was first performed; and as those causes of attraction still remain, or rather, an improvement is introduced by Mrs. Siddons's appearance in the Grecian Daughter, the play is still of use to the theatre.
The men's characters have been all sacrificed by the author to the valour of the woman—he has made his female do the deed of a man, and his best man perform the act of a child.
Though Evander ranks as the first male character in this play, no actor likes to appear in the part. He would rather be inferior, and less infirm.
As Mr. Murphy had much theatrical experience as well as taste, it is astonishing that the personage most talked of, most praised, and by far the most perfect character in the whole drama, should never make his appearance!
Timoleon is a great warrior and a good man; and it seems wonderful how the audience, on the first night of the play, would quit the theatre without seeing him. Yet it was but modesty and respect in the author, not to bring so magnanimous a hero on the scene, to speak bad poetry.
The great tragic dramatist, Otway, wrote miserable comedies: Let it be no disgrace to Murphy that he has written an indifferent tragedy. By the merit of his comic scenes, his tragic ones are perhaps judged, and in the comparison lose half their value.
DIONYSIUS Mr. Cory. EVANDER Mr. Kemble. PHILOTAS Mr. C. Kemble. MELANTHON Mr. Hull. PHOCION Mr. Brunton. ARCAS Mr. Davenport. GREEK HERALD Mr. Creswell. CALIPPUS Mr. Klanert. GREEK SOLDIER Mr. Field. OFFICER
EUPHRASIA Mrs. Siddons. ERIXENE Mrs. Humphries.
THE GRECIAN DAUGHTER.
ACT THE FIRST.
Enter MELANTHON and PHILOTAS.
Mel. Yet, yet a moment; hear, Philotas, hear me.
Phil. No more; it must not be.
Mel. Obdurate man; Thus wilt thou spurn me, when a king distress'd, A good, a virtuous, venerable king, The father of his people, from a throne Which long with ev'ry virtue he adorn'd, Torn by a ruffian, by a tyrant's hand, Groans in captivity? In his own palace Lives a sequester'd prisoner? Oh! Philotas, If thou hast not renounc'd humanity; Let me behold my sovereign; once again Admit me to his presence; let me see My royal master.
Phil. Urge thy suit no further; Thy words are fruitless; Dionysius' orders Forbid access; he is our sov'reign now; 'Tis his to give the law, mine to obey.
Mel. Thou canst not mean it: his to give the law! Detested spoiler!—his! a vile usurper! Have we forgot the elder Dionysius, Surnam'd the Tyrant? To Sicilia's throne The monster waded through whole seas of blood. Sore groan'd the land beneath his iron rod, Till rous'd at length Evander came from Greece, Like Freedom's Genius came, and sent the tyrant, Stript of the crown, and to his humble rank Once more reduc'd, to roam, for vile subsistence, A wandering sophist through the realms of Greece.
Phil. Whate'er his right, to him in Syracuse All bend the knee; his the supreme dominion, And death and torment wait his sovereign nod.
Mel. But soon that pow'r shall cease: behold his walls Now close encircled by the Grecian bands; Timoleon leads them on; indignant Corinth Sends her avenger forth, array'd in terror, To hurl ambition from a throne usurp'd, And bid all Sicily resume her rights.
Phil. Thou wert a statesman once, Melanthon; now, Grown dim with age, thy eye pervades no more The deep-laid schemes which Dionysius plans. Know then, a fleet from Carthage even now Stems the rough billow; and, ere yonder sun, That now declining seeks the western wave, Shall to the shades of night resign the world, Thou'lt see the Punic sails in yonder bay, Whose waters wash the walls of Syracuse.
Mel. Art thou a stranger to Timoleon's name? Intent to plan, and circumspect to see All possible events, he rushes on Resistless in his course! Your boasted master Scarce stands at bay; each hour the strong blockade Hems him in closer, and ere long thou'lt view Oppression's iron rod to fragments shiver'd! The good Evander then——
Phil. Alas, Evander Will ne'er behold the golden time you look for!
Mel. How! not behold it! Say, Philotas, speak; Has the fell tyrant,—have his felon murderers——
Phil. As yet, my friend, Evander lives.
Mel. And yet Thy dark half-hinted purpose—lead me to him; If thou hast murder'd him——
Phil. By Heav'n, he lives.
Mel. Then bless me with one tender interview. Thrice has the sun gone down, since last, these eyes Have seen the good old king; say, why is this? Wherefore debarr'd his presence? Thee, Philotas, The troops obey, that guard the royal pris'ner; Each avenue to thee is open; thou Canst grant admittance; let me, let me see him.
Phil. Entreat no more; the soul of Dionysius Is ever wakeful; rent with all the pangs That wait on conscious guilt.
Mel. But when dun night——
Phil. Alas! it cannot be: but mark my words. Let Greece urge on her general assault. Despatch some friend, who may o'erleap the walls, And tell Timoleon, the good old Evander Has liv'd three days, by Dionysius' order, Lock'd up from ev'ry sustenance of nature, And life, now wearied out, almost expires.
Mel. If any spark of virtue dwell within thee, Lead me, Philotas, lead me to his prison.
Phil. The tyrant's jealous care hath mov'd him thence.
Mel. Ha! mov'd him, say'st thou?
Phil. At the midnight hour, Silent convey'd him up the steep ascent, To where the elder Dionysius form'd, On the sharp summit of the pointed rock, Which overhangs the deep, a dungeon drear: Cell within cell, a labyrinth of horror, Deep cavern'd in the cliff, where many a wretch, Unseen by mortal eye, has groan'd in anguish, And died obscure, unpitied, and unknown.
Mel. Clandestine murderer! Yes, there's the scene Of horrid massacre. Full oft I've walk'd, When all things lay in sleep and darkness hush'd. Yes, oft I've walk'd the lonely sullen beach, And heard the mournful sound of many a corse Plung'd from the rock into the wave beneath, That murmurs on the shore. And means he thus To end a monarch's life? Oh! grant my pray'r; My timely succour may protect his days; The guard is yours——
Phil. Forbear; thou plead'st in vain; And though I feel soft pity throbbing here; Though each emotion prompts the gen'rous deed, I must not yield; it were assur'd destruction! Farewell, despatch a message to the Greeks; I'll to my station; now thou know'st the worst.
Mel. Oh, lost Evander! Lost Euphrasia too! How will her gentle nature bear the shock Of a dear father, thus in ling'ring pangs A prey to famine, like the veriest wretch Whom the hard hand of misery hath grip'd! In vain she'll rave, with impotence of sorrow; Perhaps, provoke her fate: Greece arms in vain, All's lost; Evander dies!
Cal. Where is the King? Our troops, that sallied to attack the foe, Retire disordered; to the eastern gate The Greeks pursue: Timoleon rides in blood! Arm, arm, and meet their fury!
Mel. To the citadel Direct thy footsteps; Dionysius there Marshals a chosen band.
Cal. Do thou call forth Thy hardy veterans; haste, or all is lost! [Exit.
Mel. Now, ye just gods, now look propitious down; Now give the Grecian sabre tenfold edge, And save a virtuous king! [Warlike Music.
Eup. War on, ye heroes, Ye great assertors of a monarch's cause! Let the wild tempest rage. Melanthon, ha! Did'st thou not hear the vast tremendous roar? Down tumbling from its base the eastern tow'r, Burst on the tyrant's ranks, and on the plain Lies an extended ruin.
Mel. Still new horrors Increase each hour, and gather round our heads.
Eup. The glorious tumult lifts my tow'ring soul. Once more, Melanthon, once again, my father Shall mount Sicilia's throne.
Mel. Alas! that hour Would come with joy to ev'ry honest heart, Would shed divinest blessings from its wing; But no such hour in all the round of time, I fear, the fates averse will e'er lead on.
Eup. And still, Melanthon, still does pale despair Depress thy spirit? Lo! Timoleon comes Arm'd with the pow'r of Greece; the brave, the just, God-like Timoleon! ardent to redress, He guides the war, and gains upon his prey. A little interval shall set the victor Within our gates triumphant.
Mel. Still my fears Forbode for thee. 'Would thou hadst left this place, When hence your husband, the brave Phocion, fled, Fled with your infant son!
Eup. In duty fixed, Here I remain'd, while my brave, gen'rous Phocion, Fled with my child, and from his mother's arms Bore my sweet little one. Full well thou know'st The pangs I suffer'd in that trying moment. Did I not weep? Did I not rave and shriek, And by the roots tear my dishevell'd hair? Did I not follow to the sea-beat shore, Resolv'd with him, and with my blooming boy, To trust the winds and waves?
Mel. Deem not, Euphrasia, I e'er can doubt thy constancy and love.
Eup. Melanthon, how I loved, the gods, who saw Each secret image that my fancy form'd, The gods can witness how I lov'd my Phocion, And yet I went not with him. Could I do it? Could I desert my father? Could I leave The venerable man, who gave me being, A victim here in Syracuse, nor stay To watch his fate, to visit his affliction, To cheer his prison hours, and with the tear Of filial virtue bid ev'n bondage smile?
Mel. The pious act, whate'er the fates intend, Shall merit heartfelt praise.
Eup. Yes, Phocion, go, Go with my child, torn from this matron breast, This breast that still should yield its nurture to him, Fly with my infant to some happier shore, If he be safe, Euphrasia dies content. Till that sad close of all, the task be mine To tend a father with delighted care, To smooth the pillow of declining age, See him sink gradual into mere decay, On the last verge of life watch ev'ry look, Explore each fond unutterable wish, Catch his last breath, and close his eyes in peace.
Mel. I would not add to my afflictions; yet My heart misgives; Evander's fatal period——
Eup. Still is far off; the gods have sent relief, And once again I shall behold him king.
Mel. Alas! those glitt'ring hopes but lend a ray To gild the clouds, that hover o'er your head, Soon to rain sorrow down, and plunge you deeper In black despair.
Eup. The spirit-stirring virtue, That glows within me, ne'er shall know despair. No, I will trust the gods. Desponding man! Hast thou not heard with what resistless ardour Timoleon drives the tumult of the war? Hast thou not heard him thund'ring at our gates? The tyrant's pent up in his last retreat; Anon thou'lt see his battlements in dust, His walls, his ramparts, and his tow'rs in ruin; Destruction pouring in on ev'ry side, Pride and oppression at their utmost need, And nought to save him in his hopeless hour.
[A flourish of Trumpets.
Mel. Ha! the fell tyrant comes.—Beguile his rage, And o'er your sorrows cast a dawn of gladness.
Enter DIONYSIUS, CALIPPUS, OFFICERS, &c.
Dio. The vain presumptuous Greek! His hopes of conquest, Like a gay dream, are vanish'd into air. Proudly elate, and flush'd with easy triumph O'er vulgar warriors, to the gates of Syracuse He urg'd the war, till Dionysius' arm Let slaughter loose, and taught his dastard train To seek their safety by inglorious flight.
Eup. O, Dionysius, if distracting fears Alarm this throbbing bosom, you will pardon A frail and tender sex. Should ruthless war Roam through our streets, and riot here in blood, Where shall the lost Euphrasia find a shelter? In vain she'll kneel, and clasp the sacred altar. O let me then, in mercy let me seek The gloomy mansion, where my father dwells; I die content, if in his arms I perish.
Dio. Thou lovely trembler, hush thy fears to rest. The Greek recoils; like the impetuous surge That dashes on the rock, there breaks, and foams, And backward rolls into the sea again. All shall be well in Syracuse: a fleet Appears in view, and brings the chosen sons Of Carthage. From the hill that fronts the main, I saw their canvass swelling with the wind, While on the purple wave the western sun Glanc'd the remains of day.
Eup. Yet till the fury Of war subside, the wild, the horrid interval In safety let me sooth to dear delight In a lov'd father's presence: from his sight, For three long days, with specious feign'd excuse Your guards debarr'd me. Oh! while yet he lives, Indulge a daughter's love; worn out with age Soon must he seal his eyes in endless night, And with his converse charm my ear no more.
Dio. Why thus anticipate misfortune? Still Evander mocks the injuries of time. Calippus, thou survey the city round; Station the centinels, that no surprise Invade the unguarded works, while drowsy night Weighs down the soldier's eye. Afflicted fair, Thy couch invites thee. When the tumult's o'er, Thou'lt see Evander with redoubled joy. Though now unequal to the cares of empire His age sequester him, yet honours high Shall gild the ev'ning of his various day.
Eup. For this benignity accept my thanks. They gush in tears, and my heart pours its tribute.
Dio. Perdiccas, ere the morn's revolving light Unveil the face of things, do thou despatch A well-oar'd galley to Hamilcar's fleet; At the north point of yonder promontory, Let some selected officer instruct him To moor his ships, and issue on the land. Then may Timoleon tremble: vengeance then Shall overwhelm his camp, pursue his bands, With fatal havoc, to the ocean's margin, And cast their limbs to glut the vulture's famine, In mingled heaps upon the naked shore.
Eup. What do I hear? Melanthon, can it be? If Carthage comes, if her perfidious sons List in his cause, the dawn of freedom's gone.
Mel. Woe, bitt'rest woe, impends; thou wouldst not think——
Eup. How? speak! unfold.
Mel. My tongue denies its office.
Eup. How is my father? Say, Melanthon——
Mel. He, I fear to shock thee with the tale of horror! Perhaps he dies this moment.—Since Timoleon First form'd his lines round this beleagur'd city, No nutriment has touch'd Evander's lips. In the deep caverns of the rock imprison'd He pines in bitterest want.
Eup. Well, my heart, Well do your vital drops forget to flow.
Mel. Despair, alas! is all the sad resource Our fate allows us now.
Eup. Yet, why despair? Is that the tribute to a father due? Blood is his due, Melanthon; yes, the blood, The vile, black blood, that fills the tyrant's veins, Would graceful look upon my dagger's point. Come, vengeance, come, shake off the feeble sex, Sinew my arm, and guide it to his heart. And thou, O filial piety, that rul'st My woman's breast, turn to vindictive rage; Assume the port of justice; show mankind Tyrannic guilt hath never dar'd in Syracuse, Beyond the reach of virtue.
Mel. Moderate your zeal, Nor let him hear these transports of the soul, These wild upbraidings.
Eup. Shall Euphrasia's voice Be hush'd to silence, when a father dies? Shall not the monster hear his deeds accurst? Shall he not tremble, when a daughter comes, Wild with her griefs, and terible with wrongs; Fierce in despair, all nature in her cause Alarm'd and rous'd with horror? Melanthon come; my wrongs will lend me force; The weakness of my sex is gone; this arm Feels tenfold strength; this arm shall do a deed For Heav'n and earth, for men and gods to wonder at! This arm shall vindicate a father's cause.
ACT THE SECOND.
A wild romantic Scene amidst overhanging Rocks; a Cavern on one side.
ARCAS, with a Spear in his Hand.
Arcas. The gloom of night sits heavy on the world; And o'er the solemn scene such stillness reigns, As 'twere a pause of nature; on the beach No murmuring billow breaks; the Grecian tents Lie sunk in sleep; no gleaming fires are seen; All Syracuse is hush'd; no stir abroad, Save ever and anon the dashing oar, That beats the sullen wave. And hark!—Was that The groan of anguish from Evander's cell, Piercing the midnight gloom?—It is the sound Of bustling prows, that cleave the briny deep. Perhaps at this dead hour Hamilcar's fleet Rides in the bay.
Enter PHILOTAS, from the Cavern.
Phil. What, ho! brave Arcas! ho!
Arcas. Why thus desert thy couch?
Phil. Methought the sound Of distant uproar chas'd affrighted sleep.
Arcas. At intervals the oar's resounding stroke Comes echoing from the main. Save that report, A death-like silence through the wide expanse Broods o'er the dreary coast.
Phil. Do thou retire, And seek repose; the duty of thy watch Is now perform'd; I take thy post.
Arcas. How fares Your royal pris'ner?
Phil. Arcas, shall I own A secret weakness? My heart inward melts To see that suffering virtue. On the earth, The cold, damp earth, the royal victim lies; And while pale famine drinks his vital spirit, He welcomes death, and smiles himself to rest. Oh! 'would I could relieve him!
Arcas. May no alarm disturb thee. [Exit.
Phil. Some dread event is lab'ring into birth. At close of day the sullen sky held forth Unerring signals. With disastrous glare, The moon's full orb rose crimson'd o'er with blood; And lo! athwart the gloom a falling star Trails a long tract of fire!—What daring step Sounds on the flinty rock? Stand there; what, ho! Speak, ere thou dar'st advance. Unfold thy purpose: Who and what art thou?
Eup. [Within.] Mine no hostile step; I bring no value to alarm thy fears: It is a friend approaches.
Phil. Ha! what mean Those plaintive notes?
Eup. [Within.] Here is no ambush'd Greek, No warrior to surprise thee on the watch. An humble suppliant comes—Alas, my strength Exhausted quite forsakes this weary frame.
Phil. What voice thus piercing thro' the gloom of night— What art thou? what thy errand? quickly say, Wherefore alarm'st thou thus our peaceful watch?
Eup. [Within.] Let no mistrust affright thee—
Lo! a wretch, The veriest wretch that ever groan'd in anguish, Comes here to grovel on the earth before thee, To tell her sad, sad tale, implore thy aid, For sure the pow'r is thine, thou canst relieve My bleeding heart, and soften all my woes.
Phil. Euphrasia!—— Why, princess, thus anticipate the dawn? Still sleep and silence wrap the weary world; The stars in mid career usurp the pole; The Grecian bands, the winds, the waves are hush'd; All things are mute around us; all but you Rest in oblivious slumber from their cares.
Eup. Yes; all, all rest: the very murd'rer sleeps; Guilt is at rest: I only wake to misery.
Phil. How didst thou gain the summit of the rock?
Eup. Give me my father; here you hold him fetter'd; Oh! give him to me——If ever The touch of nature throbb'd within your breast, Admit me to Evander. In these caves I know he pines in want; let me convey Some charitable succour to a father.
Phil. Alas, Euphrasia! 'would I dare comply!
Eup. It will be virtue in thee. Thou, like me, Wert born in Greece:—Oh! by our common parent— Nay, stay; thou shalt not fly; Philotas, stay;— You have a father too; think, were his lot Hard as Evander's; if by felon hands Chain'd to the earth, with slow-consuming pangs He felt sharp want, and with an asking eye Implor'd relief, yet cruel men deny'd it, Wouldst thou not burst thro' adamantine gates, Thro' walls and rocks, to save him? Think, Philotas, Of thy own aged sire, and pity mine. Think of the agonies a daughter feels, When thus a parent wants the common food, The bounteous hand of nature meant for all.
Phil. 'Twere best withdraw thee, princess; thy assistance Evander wants not; it is fruitless all; Thy tears, thy wild entreaties, are in vain.
Eup. Ha!—thou hast murder'd him; he is no more; I understand thee;—butchers, you have shed The precious drops of life.
Phil. Alas! this frantic grief can nought avail. Retire and seek the couch of balmy sleep, In this dead hour, this season of repose.
Eup. And dost thou then, inhuman as thou art! Advise a wretch like me to know repose? This is my last abode:—these caves, these rocks, Shall ring for ever with Euphrasia's wrongs. Here will I dwell, and rave, and shriek, and give These scatter'd locks to all the passing winds; Call on Evander lost;— And cruel gods, and cruel stars invoking, Stand on the cliff in madness and despair.
Phil. By Heav'n, My heart in pity bleeds. No other fear assails this warlike breast. I pity your misfortunes; yes, by Heav'n, My heart bleeds for you.—Gods! you've touch'd my soul! The gen'rous impulse is not giv'n in vain. I feel thee, Nature, and I dare obey. Oh! thou hast conquer'd.—Go, Euphrasia, go, Behold thy father.
Eup. Raise me, raise me up; I'll bathe thy hand with tears, thou gen'rous man!
Phil. Yet, mark my words; if aught of nourishment Thou wouldst convey, my partners of the watch Will ne'er consent.
Eup. I will observe your orders: On any terms, oh! let me, let me see him.
Phil. Yon lamp will guide thee thro' the cavern'd way.
Eup. My heart runs o'er in thanks; the pious act Timoleon shall reward; the bounteous gods, And thy own virtue shall reward the deed.
[Goes into the Cave.
Phil. Prevailing, powerful virtue!—Thou subdu'st The stubborn heart, and mould'st it to thy purpose. 'Would I could save them!—But tho' not for me The glorious pow'r to shelter innocence, Yet for a moment to assuage its woes, Is the best sympathy, the purest joy Nature intended for the heart of man, When thus she gave the social gen'rous tear. [Exit.
The Inside of the Cavern.
Enter ARCAS and EUPHRASIA.
Arcas. No; on my life, I dare not.
Eup. But a small, A wretched pittance; one poor cordial drop To renovate exhausted drooping age, I ask no more.
Arcas. Not the smallest store Of scanty nourishment must pass these walls. Our lives were forfeit else: a moment's parley Is all I grant; in yonder cave he lies.
Eva. [Within the Cell.] Oh, struggling nature! let thy conflict end. Oh! give me, give me rest.
Eup. My father's voice! It pierces here! it cleaves my very heart. I shall expire, and never see him more.
Arcas. Repose thee, princess, here, [Draws a Couch] here rest thy limbs, Till the returning blood shall lend thee firmness.
Eup. The caves, the rocks, re-echo to his groans! And is there no relief?
Arcas. All I can grant, You shall command. I will unbar the dungeon, Unloose the chain that binds him to the rock, And leave your interview without restraint.
[Opens a Cell in the back Scene.
Eup. Hold, hold my heart! Oh! how shall I sustain The agonizing scene? [Rises.] I must behold him; Nature, that drives me on, will lend me force. Is that my father?
Arcas. Take your last farewell. His vigour seems not yet exhausted quite. You must be brief, or ruin will ensue. [Exit.
Eva. [Raising himself.] Oh! when shall I get free? —These ling'ring pangs—
Eup. Behold, ye pow'rs, that spectacle of woe!
Eva. Despatch me, pitying gods, and save my child! I burn, I burn; alas! no place of rest:
[Rises and comes out.
A little air; once more a breath of air; Alas! I faint; I die.
Eup. Heart-piercing sight! Let me support you, sir.
Eva. Oh! lend your arm. Whoe'er thou art, I thank thee: that kind breeze Comes gently o'er my senses—lead me forward: And is there left one charitable hand To reach its succour to a wretch like me?
Eup. Well may'st thou ask it. O! my breaking heart! The hand of death is on him.
Eva. Still a little, A little onward to the air conduct me; 'Tis well;—I thank thee; thou art kind and good, And much I wonder at this gen'rous pity.
Eup. Dost thou not know me, sir?
Eva. Methinks I know That voice: art thou—alas! my eyes are dim! Each object swims before me—No, in truth I do not know thee.
Eup. Not your own Euphrasia?
Eva. Art thou my daughter?
Eup. Oh! my honour'd sire!
Eva. My daughter, my Euphrasia? come to close A father's eyes! Giv'n to my last embrace! Gods! do I hold her once again? Your mercies Are without number. [Falls on the Couch. This excess of bliss O'erpow'rs; it kills; Euphrasia—could I hope it? I die content—Art thou indeed my daughter? Thou art; my hand is moisten'd with thy tears: I pray you do not weep—thou art my child: I thank you, gods! in my last dying moments You have not left me—I would pour my praise; But oh! your goodness overcomes me quite! You read my heart; you see what passes there.
Eup. Alas, he faints! the gushing tide of transport Bears down each feeble sense: restore him, Heaven!
Eva. All, my Euphrasia, all will soon be well. Pass but a moment, and this busy globe, Its thrones, its empires, and its bustling millions, Will seem a speck in the great void of space. Yet, while I stay, thou darling of my age!— Nay, dry those tears.
Eup. I will, my father.
Eva. Where,— I fear to ask it, where is virtuous Phocion?
Eup. Fled from the tyrant's pow'r.
Eva. And left thee here Expos'd and helpless?
Eup. He is all truth and honour: He fled to save my child.
Eva. My young Evander! Your boy is safe, Euphrasia?—Oh! my heart! Alas! quite gone; worn out with misery; Oh! weak, decay'd old man!
Eup. Inhuman wretches! Will none relieve his want? A drop of water Might save his life; and even that's deny'd him.
Eva. These strong emotions—Oh! that eager air— It is too much—assist me; bear me hence; And lay me down in peace.
Eup. His eyes are fix'd! And those pale, quiv'ring lips! He clasps my hand: What, no assistance! Monsters, will you thus Let him expire in these weak, feeble arms?
Phil. Those wild, those piercing shrieks will give th'alarm.
Eup. Support him; bear him hence; 'tis all I ask.
Evan. [As he is carried off.] O Death! where art thou? Death, thou dread of guilt, Thou wish of innocence, affliction's friend, Tir'd nature calls thee; come, in mercy come, And lay me pillow'd in eternal rest. My child—where art thou? give me; reach thy hand, Why dost thou weep?—My eyes are dry—Alas! Quite parch'd, my lips—quite parch'd, they cleave together. [Exeunt.
Arcas. The grey of morn breaks thro' yon eastern clouds. 'Twere time this interview should end: the hour Now warns Euphrasia hence: what man could dare, I have indulg'd—Philotas!—ha! the cell Left void!—Evander gone!—What may this mean? Philotas, speak.
Phil. Oh! vile, detested lot, Here to obey the savage tyrant's will, And murder virtue that can thus behold Its executioner, and smile upon him. That piteous sight!
Arcas. She must withdraw, Philotas; Delay undoes us both. The restless main Glows with the blush of day. The time requires Without or further pause, or vain excuse, That she depart this moment.
Phil. Arcas, yes; My voice shall warn her of th' approaching danger. [Exit.
Arcas. 'Would she had ne'er adventur'd to our guard! I dread th' event; and hark!—the wind conveys In clearer sound the uproar of the main. The fates prepare new havoc; on th' event Depends the fate of empire. Wherefore thus Delays Euphrasia? Ha! what means, Philotas, That sudden haste, that pale, disorder'd look?
Phil. O! I can hold no more; at such a sight Ev'n the hard heart of tyranny would melt To infant softness. Arcas, go, behold The pious fraud of charity and love; Behold that unexampled goodness; see Th' expedient sharp necessity has taught her; Thy heart will burn, will melt, will yearn to view A child like her.
Arcas. Ha!—say what mystery Wakes these emotions?
Phil. Wonder-working virtue! The father foster'd at his daughter's breast! O! filial piety!—The milk design'd For her own offspring, on the parent's lip Allays the parching fever.
Arcas. That device Has she then form'd, eluding all our care, To minister relief?
Phil. On the bare earth Evander lies; and as his languid pow'rs Imbibe with eager thirst the kind refreshment, And his looks speak unutterable thanks, Euphrasia views him with the tend'rest glance, Ev'n as a mother doating on her child; And, ever and anon, amidst the smiles Of pure delight, of exquisite sensation, A silent tear steals down; the tear of virtue, That sweetens grief to rapture. All her laws Inverted quite, great nature triumphs still.
Arcas. The tale unmans my soul.
Phil. Ye tyrants, hear it, And learn, that, while your cruelty prepares Unheard-of torture, virtue can keep pace With your worst efforts, and can try new modes To bid men grow enamour'd of her charms.
Arcas. Philotas, for Euphrasia, in her cause, I now can hazard all. Let us preserve Her father for her.
Phil. Oh! her lovely daring Transcends all praise. By Heav'n, he shall not die.
Arcas. And yet we must be wary; I'll go forth, And first explore each avenue around, Lest the fix'd sentinel obstruct your purpose.
Phil. I thank thee, Arcas; we will act like men Who feel for other's woes—She leads him forth, And tremblingly supports his drooping age.
[Goes to assist him.
Enter EUPHRASIA and EVANDER.
Eva. Euphrasia, oh! my child! returning life Glows here about my heart. Conduct me forward; At the last gasp preserved! Ha! dawning light! Let me behold; in faith I see thee now; I do indeed: the father sees his child.
Eup. I have reliev'd him—Oh! the joy's too great; 'Tis speechless rapture!
Eva. Blessings, blessings on thee!
Eup. My father still shall live. Alas! Philotas, Could I abandon that white hoary head, That venerable form? Abandon him To perish here in misery and famine?
Phil. Thy tears, thou miracle of goodness. Have triumph'd o'er me. Take him, take your father; Convey him hence; I do release him to you.
Eva. What said Philotas! Do I fondly dream? Indeed my senses are imperfect; yet Methought I heard him! did he say release me?
Phil. Thou art my king, and now no more my pris'ner; Go with your daughter, with that wond'rous pattern Of filial piety to after times. Yes, princess, lead him forth; I'll point the path, Whose soft declivity will guide your steps To the deep vale, which these o'erhanging rocks Encompass round. You may convey him thence To some safe shelter. Yet a moment's pause; I must conceal your flight from ev'ry eye. Yes, I will save 'em, or perish in their cause.
Eva. Whither, oh! whither shall Evander go? I'm at the goal of life; if in the race Honour has follow'd with no ling'ring step, But there sits smiling with her laurel wreath, To crown my brow, there would I fain make halt, And not inglorious lay me down to rest.
Eup. And will you then refuse, when thus the gods Afford a refuge to thee?
Eva. Oh! my child, There is no refuge for me.
Eup. Pardon, sir: Euphrasia's care has form'd a safe retreat; There may'st thou dwell; it will not long be wanted. Soon shall Timoleon with resistless force, Burst yon devoted walls.
Eup. Yes. The brave Timoleon, with the pow'r of Greece; Another day shall make this city his.
Eva. Timoleon come to vindicate my rights! Oh! thou shalt reign in Sicily! my child Shall grace her father's throne. Indulgent Heaven! Pour down your blessings on this best of daughters; To her and Phocion give Evander's crown; Let them, oh! let them both in virtue wear it, And in due time transmit it to their boy!
Phil. All things are apt; the drowsy sentinel Lies hush'd in sleep; I'll marshall thee the way Down the steep rock.
Eup. Oh! let us quickly hence.
Eva. The blood but loiters in these frozen veins: Do you, whose youthful spirit glows with life, Do you go forth, and leave this mould'ring corpse. To me had Heav'n decreed a longer date, It ne'er had suffer'd a fell monster's reign, Nor let me see the carnage of my people. Farewell, Euphrasia; in one lov'd embrace To these remains pay the last obsequies, And leave me here to sink to silent dust.
Eup. And will you, then, on self destruction bent, Reject my prayer, nor trust your fate with me.
Eva. Trust thee, Euphrasia? Trust in thee, my child? Though life's a burden I could well lay down, Yet I will prize it, since bestow'd by thee. Oh! thou art good; thy virtue soars a flight For the wide world to wonder at; in thee, Hear it all nature, future ages hear it, The father finds a parent in his child. [Exeunt.
ACT THE THIRD.
A Rampart near the Harbour.
Dio. Base deserters! Curse on their Punic faith! did they once dare To grapple with the Greek? Ere yet the main Was ting'd with blood, they turn'd their ships averse. May storms and tempests follow in their rear, And dash their fleet upon the Lybian shore!
Cal. My liege, Timoleon, where the harbour opens, Has storm'd the forts, and even now his fleet Pursues its course, and steers athwart the bay.
Dio. Ruin impends; and yet, if fall it must, I bear a mind to meet it undismay'd, Unconquer'd ev'n by Fate.
Cal. Through ev'ry street Despair and terror fly. A panic spreads From man to man, and superstition sees Jove arm'd with thunder, and the gods against us.
Dio. With sacred rites their wrath must be appeas'd. Let instant victims at the altar bleed: Let incense roll its fragrant clouds to Heav'n, And pious matrons, and the virgin train, In slow procession to the temple bear The image of their gods. The solemn sacrifice, the virgin throng, Will gain the popular belief, and kindle In the fierce soldiery religious rage. Away, my friends, prepare the sacred rites.
[Exeunt CALIPPUS, &c.
Philotas, thou draw near: how fares your pris'ner? Has he yet breath'd his last?
Phil. Life ebbs apace; To-morrow's sun sees him a breathless corse.
Dio. Curse on his ling'ring pangs! Sicilia's crown No more shall deck his brow; and if the sand Still loiter in the glass, thy hand, my friend, May shake it thence.
Phil. It shall, dread sir; that task Leave to thy faithful servant.
Dio. Oh! Philotas, Thou little know'st the cares, the pangs of empire. The ermin'd pride, the purple that adorns A conqueror's breast, but serves, my friend, to hide A heart that's torn, that's mangled with remorse. Each object round me wakens horrid doubts; The flatt'ring train, the sentinel that guards me, The slave that waits, all give some new alarm, And from the means of safety dangers rise. Ev'n victory itself plants anguish here, And round my laurels the fell serpent twines.
Phil. Would Dionysius abdicate his crown, And sue for terms of peace?
Dio. Detested thought! No, though ambition teem with countless ills, It still has charms of pow'r to fire the soul. Though horrors multiply around my head, I will oppose them all. The pomp of sacrifice, But now ordain'd, is mockery to Heav'n. 'Tis vain, 'tis fruitless; then let daring guilt Be my inspirer, and consummate all. Where are those Greeks, the captives of my sword, Whose desperate valour rush'd within our walls, Fought near our person, and the pointed lance Aim'd at my breast?
Phil. In chains they wait their doom.
Dio. Give me to see 'em; bring the slaves before me.
Phil. What, ho! Melanthon, this way lead your prisoners.
Enter MELANTHON, with GREEK OFFICERS and SOLDIERS.
Dio. Assassins, and not warriors! do ye come, When the wide range of battle claims your sword, Thus do ye come against a single life To wage the war? Did not our buckler ring With all your darts, in one collected volley, Shower'd on my head? Did not your swords at once Point at my breast, and thirst for regal blood?
G. Off. We sought thy life. I am by birth a Greek. An open foe in arms, I meant to slay The foe of human kind. With rival ardour We took the field; one voice, one mind, one heart; All leagu'd, all covenanted: in yon camp Spirits there are who aim, like us, at glory. Whene'er you sally forth, whene'er the Greeks Shall scale your walls, prepare thee to encounter A like assault. By me the youth of Greece Thus notify the war they mean to wage.
Dio. Thus, then, I warn them of my great revenge. Whoe'er in battle shall become our pris'ner, In torment meets his doom.
G. Off. Then wilt thou see How vile the body to a mind that pants For genuine glory. Twice three hundred Greeks Have sworn like us, to hunt thee through the ranks; Ours the first lot; we've fail'd; on yonder plain Appear in arms, the faithful band will meet thee.
Dio. Vile slave, no more. Melanthon, drag 'em hence To die in misery. Impal'd alive, The winds shall parch them on the craggy cliff. Selected from the rest, let one depart A messenger to Greece, to tell the fate Her chosen sons, her first adventurers met.
Mel. Unhappy men! how shall my care protect Your forfeit lives? Philotas, thou conduct them To the deep dungeon's gloom. In that recess, 'Midst the wild tumult of eventful war We may ward off the blow. My friends, farewell: That officer will guide your steps.
[All follow PHILOTAS, except PHOCION.
Phoc. Satisfy my doubts; how fares Euphrasia?
Mel. Euphrasia lives, and fills the anxious moments With every virtue. Wherefore venture hither? Why with rash valour penetrate our gates?
Phoc. Could I refrain? Oh! could I tamely wait Th' event of ling'ring war? With patience count The lazy-pacing hours, while here in Syracuse The tyrant keeps all that my heart holds dear; For her dear sake, all danger sinks before me? For her I burst the barriers of the gate, Where the deep cavern'd rock affords a passage. A hundred chosen Greeks pursu'd my steps, We forc'd an entrance; the devoted guard Fell victims to our rage; but in that moment Down from the walls superior numbers came. The tyrant led them on. We rush'd upon him, If we could reach his heart, to end the war. But Heav'n thought otherwise. Melanthon, say,— I fear to ask it, lives Evander still?
Mel. Alas, he lives imprisoned in the rock. Thou must withdraw thee hence; regain once more Timoleon's camp! alarm his slumb'ring rage; Assail the walls; thou with thy phalanx seek The subterraneous path; that way at night The Greeks may enter, and let in destruction On the astonish'd foe.
Phoc. By Heav'n I will; My breath shall wake his rage; this very night When sleep sits heavy on the slumb'ring city, Then Greece unsheaths her sword, and great revenge Shall stalk with death and horror o'er the ranks Of slaughter'd troops a sacrifice to freedom! But first let me behold Euphrasia.
Mel. Hush Thy pent-up valour: to a secret haunt I'll guide thy steps; there dwell, and in apt time I'll bring Euphrasia to thy longing arms.
Phoc. Oh! lead me to her; that exalted virtue With firmer nerve shall bid me grasp the javelin; Shall bid my sword with more than lightning's swiftness. Blaze in the front of war, and glut its rage With blow repeated in the tyrant's veins. [Exeunt.
A Temple, with a Monument in the Middle.
Enter EUPHRASIA, ERIXENE, and other Female Attendants.
Eup. This way, my virgins, this way bend your steps. Lo! the sad sepulchre where, hears'd in death, The pale remains of my dear mother lie. There, while the victims at yon altar bleed, And with your pray'rs the vaulted roof resounds. There let me pay the tribute of a tear, A weeping pilgrim o'er Eudocia's ashes.
Erix. Forbear, Euphrasia, to renew your sorrows.
Eup. My tears have dry'd their source; then let me here, Pay this sad visit to the honour'd clay, That moulders in the tomb. These sacred viands I'll burn an offering to a parent's shade, And sprinkle with this wine the hallow'd mould. That duty paid, I will return, my virgins.
[She goes into the Tomb.
Erix. Look down, propitious pow'rs! behold that virtue, And heal the pangs that desolate her soul.
Phil. Mourn, mourn, ye virgins; rend your scatter'd garments: Some dread calamity hangs o'er our heads. In vain the tyrant would appease with sacrifice Th' impending wrath of ill-requited Heav'n. Ill omens hover o'er us: at the altar The victim dropp'd, ere the divining seer Had gor'd his knife. The brazen statues tremble, And from the marble, drops of blood distil.
Erix. Now, ye just gods, if vengeance you prepare, Now find the guilty head.
Enter EUPHRASIA, from the Tomb.
Eup. Virgins, I thank you—Oh! more lightly now My heart expands; the pious act is done, And I have paid my tribute to a parent. Ah! wherefore does the tyrant bend his way?
Phil. He flies the altar; leaves th' unfinish'd rites. No god there smiles propitious on his cause. Fate lifts the awful balance; weighs his life, The lives of numbers, in the trembling scale.
Eup. Despair and horror mark his haggard looks. Do you retire, Retire, Philotas; let me here remain, And give the moments of suspended fate To pious worship and to filial love.
Phil. Alas! I fear to yield: awhile I'll leave thee, And at the temple's entrance wait thy coming. [Exit.
Eup. Now, then, Euphrasia, now thou may'st indulge The purest ecstacy of soul. Come forth, Thou man of woe, thou man of every virtue.
Enter EVANDER, from the Monument.
Eva. And does the grave thus cast me up again, With a fond father's love to view thee? Thus To mingle rapture in a daughter's arms?
Eup. How fares my father now?
Eva. Thy aid, Euphrasia, Has giv'n new life. Thou from this vital stream Deriv'st thy being; with unheard-of duty Thou hast repaid it to thy native source.
Eup. Sprung from Evander, if a little portion Of all his goodness dwell within my heart, Thou wilt not wonder.
Eva. Joy and wonder rise In mix'd emotions!—Though departing hence, After the storms of a tempestuous life, Tho' I was entering the wish'd-for port, Where all is peace, all bliss, and endless joy, Yet here contented I can linger still To view thy goodness, and applaud thy deeds, Thou author of my life?—Did ever parent Thus call his child before?—my heart's too full, My old fond heart runs o'er; it aches with joy.
Eup. Alas! too much you over-rate your daughter; Nature and duty call'd me—Oh! my father, How didst thou bear thy long, long suff'rings? How Endure their barb'rous rage?
Eva. My foes but did To this old frame, what Nature's hand must do. In the worst hour of pain, a voice still whisper'd me, "Rouse thee, Evander; self-acquitting conscience "Declares thee blameless, and the gods behold thee." I was but going hence by mere decay, To that futurity which Plato taught. Thither, oh! thither was Evander going, But thou recall'st me; thou!
Eup. Timoleon too Invites thee back to life.
Eva. And does he still Urge on the siege?
Eup. His active genius comes To scourge a guilty race. The Punic fleet, Half lost, is swallow'd by the roaring sea. The shatter'd refuse seek the Lybian shore, To bear the news of their defeat to Carthage.
Eva. These are thy wonders, Heaven! Abroad thy spirit Moves o'er the deep, and mighty fleets are vanish'd.
Eup. Ha!—hark!—what noise is that! Some busy footstep beats the hallow'd pavement. Oh! sir, retire—Ye pow'rs!—Philotas!—ha!
Phil. For thee, Euphrasia, Dionysius calls. Some new suspicion goads him. At yon gate I stopp'd Calippus, as with eager haste He bent his way to seek thee.—Oh! my sovereign, My King, my injur'd master, will you pardon The wrongs I've done thee? [Kneels to EVANDER.
Eva. Virtue such as thine, From the fierce trial of tyrannic pow'r, Shines forth with added lustre.
Phil. Oh! forgive My ardent zeal? there is no time to waste. You must withdraw; trust to your faithful friends. Pass but another day, and Dionysius Falls from a throne usurp'd.
Eva. But ere he pays The forfeit of his crimes, what streams of blood Shall flow in torrents round! Methinks I might Prevent this waste of nature—I'll go forth And to my people show their rightful king.
Eup. Banish that thought; forbear; the rash attempt Were fatal to our hopes; oppress'd, dismay'd, The people look aghast, and, wan with fear, None dare espouse your cause.
Eva. Yes, all will dare To act like men;—their king, I gave myself To a whole people. I made no reserve; My life was theirs; each drop about my heart Pledg'd to the public cause; devoted to it; That was my compact; is the subjects' less? If they are all debas'd, and willing slaves, The young but breathing to grow grey in bondage, And the old sinking to ignoble graves, Of such a race no matter who is king. And yet I will not think it; no! my people Are brave and gen'rous; I will trust their valour.
Eup. Yet stay; yet be advis'd.
Phil. As yet, my liege, No plan is fix'd, and no concerted measure. The fates are busy: wait the vast event. Trust to my truth and honour. Witness, gods, Here, in the temple of Olympian Jove, Philotas swears——
Eva. Forbear: the man like thee, Who feels the best emotions of the heart, Truth, reason, justice, honour's fine excitements, Acts by those laws, and wants no other sanction.
Eup. Again th'alarm approaches; sure destruction To thee, to all, will follow:—hark! a sound Comes hollow murm'ring through the vaulted aisle. It gains upon the ear. Withdraw, my father; All's lost, if thou art seen.
Phil. And lo! Calippus Darts with the lightning's speed across the aisle.
Eva. Thou at the senate house convene my friends. Melanthon, Dion, and their brave associates, Will show, that liberty has leaders still. Anon I'll meet them there: my child, farewell; Thou shalt direct me now. [Exit PHILOTAS.—EVANDER enters the Tomb. Eup. Coming forward.] How my distracted heart throbs wild with fear! What brings Calippus? wherefore? save me, Heaven!
Cal. This sullen musing in these drear abodes Alarms suspicion: the king knows thy plottings, Thy rooted hatred to the state and him. His sov'reign will commands thee to repair This moment to his presence.
Eup. Ha! what means The tyrant?—I obey. [Exit CALIPPUS.] And, oh! ye pow'rs, Ye ministers of Heaven, defend my father; Support his drooping age; and when anon Avenging justice shakes her crimson steel, Oh! be the grave at least a place of rest; That from his covert, in the hour of peace, Forth he may come to bless a willing people, And be your own just image here on earth. [Exit.
ACT THE FOURTH.
Enter DIONYSIUS, CALIPPUS, &c.
Dio. Away each vain alarm; the sun goes down: Nor yet Timoleon issues from his fleet. There let him linger on the wave-worn beach; Here the vain Greek shall find another Troy, A more than Hector here. Though Carthage fly, Ourself, still Dionysius, here remains. And means the Greek to treat of terms of peace? By Heav'n, this panting bosom hop'd to meet His boasted phalanx on the embattled plain. And doth he now, on peaceful councils bent, Despatch his herald?—Let the slave approach.
Enter the HERALD.
Now speak thy purpose; what doth Greece impart?
Her. Timoleon, sir, whose great renown in arms Is equall'd only by the softer virtues Of mild humanity, that sway his heart, Sends me his delegate to offer terms, On which ev'n foes may well accord; on which The fiercest nature, though it spurns at justice, May sympathize with his.
Dio. Unfold thy mystery; Thou shalt be heard.
Her. The gen'rous leader sees, With pity sees, the wild destructive havoc Of ruthless war; he hath survey'd around The heaps of slain that cover yonder field, And, touch'd with gen'rous sense of human woe, Weeps o'er his victories.
Dio. Your leader weeps! Then let the author of those ills thou speak'st of, Let the ambitious factor of destruction, Timely retreat, and close the scene of blood. Why doth affrighted peace behold his standard Uprear'd in Sicily? and wherefore here The iron ranks of war, from which the shepherd Retires appall'd, and leaves the blasted hopes Of half the year, while closer to her breast The mother clasps her infant?
Her. 'Tis not mine To plead Timoleon's cause; not mine the office To justify the strong, the righteous motives That urge him to the war: the only scope My deputation aims at, is to fix An interval of peace, a pause of horror, That they, whose bodies, on the naked shore, Lie weltering in their blood, from either host May meet the last sad rites to nature due, And decent lie in honourable graves.
Dio. Go tell your leader, his pretexts are vain. Let him, with those that live, embark for Greece, And leave our peaceful plains; the mangled limbs Of those he murder'd, from my tender care Shall meet due obsequies.
Her. The hero, sir, Wages no war with those, who bravely die. 'Tis for the dead I supplicate; for them We sue for peace; and to the living too Timoleon would extend it, but the groans Of a whole people have unsheath'd his sword. A single day will pay the funeral rites. To-morrow's sun may see both armies meet Without hostility, and all in honour; You to inter the troops who bravely fell; We, on our part, to give an humble sod To those, who gain'd a footing on the isle, And by their death have conquer'd.
Dio. Be it so; I grant thy suit: soon as to-morrow's dawn Illume the world, the rage of wasting war In vain shall thirst for blood. Thou know'st my last resolve, and now farewell. Some careful officer conduct him forth.
By Heav'n, the Greek hath offered to my sword An easy prey; a sacrifice to glut My great revenge. Calippus, let each soldier This night resign his wearied limbs to rest, That ere the dawn, with renovated strength, On the unguarded, unsuspecting foe, Disarm'd, and bent on superstitious rites, From every quarter we may rush undaunted, Give the invaders to the deathful steel, And by one carnage bury all in ruin. My valiant friends, haste to your several posts, And let this night a calm unruffled spirit Lie hush'd in sleep: away, my friends, disperse. Philotas, waits Euphrasia as we order'd?
Phil. She's here at hand.
Dio. Admit her to our presence. Rage and despair, a thousand warring passions, All rise by turns, and piecemeal rend my heart. Yet ev'ry means, all measures must be tried, To sweep the Grecian spoiler from the land, And fix the crown unshaken on my brow.
Eup. What sudden cause requires Euphrasia's presence?
Dio. Approach, fair mourner, and dispel thy fears. Thy grief, thy tender duty to thy father, Has touch'd me nearly. In his lone retreat, Respect, attendance, every lenient care To sooth affliction, and extend his life, Evander has commanded.
Eup. Vile dissembler! Detested homicide! [Aside.]—And has thy heart Felt for the wretched?
Dio. Urgencies of state Abridg'd his liberty; but to his person All honour hath been paid.
Eup. The righteous gods Have mark'd thy ways, and will in time repay Just retribution.
Dio. If to see your father, If here to meet him in a fond embrace, Will calm thy breast, and dry those beauteous tears, A moment more shall bring him to your presence.
Eup. Ha! lead him hither! Sir, to move him now, Aged, infirm, worn out with toil and years— No, let me seek him rather—If soft pity Has touch'd your heart, oh! send me, send me to him.
Dio. Control this wild alarm; with prudent care Philotas shall conduct him; here I grant The tender interview.
Eup. Disastrous fate! Ruin impends!—This will discover all! I'll perish first. [Aside. Though much I languish to behold my father, Yet now it were not fit—the sun goes down; Night falls apace; soon as returning day—
Dio. This night, this very hour, you both must meet. Together you may serve the state and me. Thou seest the havoc of wide wasting war; And more, full well you know, are still to bleed. Thou may'st prevent their fate.
Eup. Oh! give the means, And I will bless thee for it.
Dio. From a Greek Torments have wrung the truth. Thy husband, Phocion—
Eup. Oh! say, speak of my Phocion.
Dio. He; 'tis he Hath kindled up this war; with treacherous arts Inflam'd the states of Greece; and now the traitor Comes with a foreign aid to wrest my crown.
Eup. And does my Phocion share Timoleon's glory?
Dio. With him invests our walls, and bids rebellion Erect her standard here.
Eup. Oh! bless him gods! Where'er my hero treads the paths of war, List on his side; against the hostile javelin Uprear his mighty buckler; to his sword Lend the fierce whirlwind's rage, that he may come With wreaths of triumph, and with conquest crown'd, And a whole nation's voice Applaud my hero with a love like mine!
Dio. Ungrateful fair! Has not our sovereign will On thy descendants fix'd Sicilia's crown? Have I not vow'd protection to your boy?
Eup. From thee the crown! from thee! Euphrasia's children Shall on a nobler basis found their rights; On their own virtue, and a people's choice.
Dio. Misguided woman!
Eup. Ask of thee protection! The father's valour shall protect his boy.
Dio. Rush not on sure destruction; ere too late Accept our proffer'd grace. The terms are these; Instant send forth a message to your husband; Bid him draw off his Greeks! unmoor his fleet, And measure back his way. Full well he knows You and your father are my hostages; And for his treason both may answer.
Eup. Think'st thou then So meanly of my Phocion?—Dost thou deem him Poorly wound up to a mere fit of valour, To melt away in a weak woman's tear? Oh! thou dost little know him; know'st but little Of his exalted soul. With gen'rous ardour Still will he urge the great, the glorious plan, And gain the ever honour'd bright reward, Which fame entwines around the patriot's brow, And bids for ever flourish on his tomb, For nations freed, and tyrants laid in dust.
Dio. By Heav'n, this night Evander breathes his last.
Eup. Better for him to sink at once to rest, Than linger thus beneath the gripe of famine, In a vile dungeon, scoop'd with barb'rous skill Deep in the flinty rock; a monument Of that fell malice, and that black suspicion, That mark'd your father's reign; a dungeon drear, Prepar'd for innocence!—Vice liv'd secure, It flourish'd, triumph'd, grateful to his heart; 'Twas virtue only could give umbrage; then, In that black period, to be great and good Was a state crime; the pow'rs of genius then Were a constructive treason.
Dio. Now your father's doom Is fix'd; irrevocably fix'd.
Eup. Thy doom, perhaps, May first be fix'd; the doom that ever waits The fell oppressor, from a throne usurp'd Hurl'd headlong down. Think of thy father's fate At Corinth, Dionysius!
Dio. Ha! this night Evander dies; and thou, detested fair! Thou shalt behold him, while inventive cruelty Pursues his wearied life through every nerve. I scorn all dull delay. This very night Shall sate my great revenge. [Exit.
Eup. This night, perhaps, Shall whelm thee down, no more to blast creation. My father, who inhabit'st with the dead, Now let me seek thee in the lonely tomb, And tremble there with anxious hope and fear. [Exit.
The Inside of the Temple.
Enter PHOCION and MELANTHON.
Phoc. Each step I move, a grateful terror shakes My frame to dissolution.
Mel. Summon all Thy wonted firmness; in that dreary vault A living king is number'd with the dead. I'll take my post, near where the pillar'd aisle Supports the central dome, that no alarm Surprise you in the pious act. [Exit.
Phoc. If here They both are found; if in Evander's arms Euphrasia meets my search, the fates atone For all my suff'rings, all afflictions past. Yes, I will seek them—ha!—the gaping tomb Invites my steps—now, be propitious Heaven!
[He enters the Tomb.
Eup. All hail, ye caves of horror!—In this gloom Divine content can dwell, the heartfelt tear, Which, as it falls, a father's trembling hand Will catch, and wipe the sorrows from my eye, Thou Pow'r supreme! whose all-pervading mind Guides this great frame of things; who now behold'st me, Who, in that cave of death, art full as perfect As in the gorgeous palace, now, while night Broods o'er the world, I'll to thy sacred shrine, And supplicate thy mercies to my father. Who's there?—Evander?——Answer——tell me——speak——
Enter PHOCION, from the Tomb.
Phoc. What voice is that?—Melanthon!
Eup. Ha! those sounds!— Speak of Evander; tell me that he lives, Or lost Euphrasia dies.
Phoc. Heart-swelling transport! Art thou Euphrasia? 'tis thy Phocion, love; Thy husband comes.
Eup. Support me;—reach thy hand.
Phoc. Once more I clasp her in this fond embrace!
Eup. What miracle has brought thee to me?
Phoc. Love Inspir'd my heart, and guided all my ways.
Eup. Oh, thou dear wanderer! But wherefore here? Why in this place of woe? My tender little one,— Say, is he safe? Oh! satisfy a mother; Speak of my child, or I go wild at once! Tell me his fate, and tell me all thy own.
Phoc. Your boy is safe, Euphrasia; lives to reign In Sicily: Timoleon's gen'rous care Protects him in his camp:—dispel thy fears; The gods once more will give him to thy arms.
Eup. My father lives sepulchred ere his time, Here in Eudocia's tomb; let me conduct thee.
Phoc. I came this moment thence.
Eup. And saw Evander?
Phoc. Alas! I found him not.
Eup. Not found him there?— And have they then—Have the fell murderers—Oh!
Phoc. I've been too rash; revive, my love, revive; Thy Phocion calls; the gods will guard Evander, And save him to reward thy matchless virtue.
Enter EVANDER and MELANTHON.
Eva. Lead me, Melanthon; guide my aged steps; Where is he? let me see him.
Phoc. My Euphrasia; Thy father lives;—thou venerable man! Behold!—I cannot fly to thy embrace.
Eup. These agonies must end me—ah, my father! Again I have him, gracious pow'rs! again I clasp his hand, and bathe it with my tears.
Eva. Euphrasia!—Phocion, too!—Yes, both are here! Oh, let me thus, thus strain you to my heart.
Phoc. Protected by a daughter's tender care, By my Euphrasia sav'd! That sweet reflection Exalts the bliss to rapture.
Eup. Why, my father, Why thus adventure forth! The strong alarm O'erwhelm'd my spirits.
Eva. I went forth, my child, When all was dark, and awful silence round, To throw me prostrate at the altar's foot, And crave the care of Heav'n for thee and thine. Melanthon there——
Phil. Inevitable ruin hovers o'er you: The tyrant's fury mounts into a blaze; Unsated yet with blood, he calls aloud For thee, Evander! thee his rage hath order'd This moment to his presence.
Eva. Lead me to him: His presence hath no terror for Evander.
Eup. Horror! It must not be.
Phil. No, never, never: I'll perish rather! But the time demands Our utmost vigour. His policy has granted A day's suspense from arms; yet even now His troops prepare, in the dead midnight hour, With base surprise to storm Timoleon's camp.
Eva. And doth he grant a false insidious truce, To turn the hour of peace to blood and horror?
Eup. I know the monster well: when specious seeming Becalms his looks, the rankling heart within Teems with destruction.
Mel. Now, Phocion, now, on thee our hope depends. Fly to Timoleon; I can grant a passport: Rouse him to vengeance; on the tyrant turn His own insidious arts, or all is lost.
Phoc. Evander thou, and thou, my best Euphrasia, Both shall attend my flight.
Mel. It were in vain; Th'attempt would hazard all.
Eup. Together here We will remain, safe in the cave of death; And wait our freedom from thy conqu'ring arm.
Eva. Oh, would the gods roll back the stream of time, And give this arm the sinew that it boasted At Tauromenium, when its force resistless Mow'd down the ranks of war: I then might guide The battle's rage, and, ere Evander die, Add still another laurel to my brow.
Eup. Enough of laurell'd victory your sword Hath reap'd in earlier days.
Eva. And shall my sword, When the great cause of liberty invites, Remain inactive, unperforming quite? Youth, second youth, rekindles in my veins: Tho' worn with age, this arm will know its office; Will show, that victory has not forgot Acquaintance with this hand.—And yet—O shame It will not be: the momentary blaze Sinks, and expires: I have survived it all; Surviv'd my reign, my people, and myself.
Eup. Fly, Phocion, fly; Melanthon will conduct thee.
Mel. And, when th'assault begins, my faithful cohorts Shall form their ranks around this sacred dome.
Phoc. And my poor captive friends, my brave companions Taken in battle, wilt thou guard their lives?
Mel. Trust to my care: no danger shall assail them.
Phoc. By Heav'n, the glorious expectation swells This panting bosom! Yes, Euphrasia, yes; A while I leave you to the care of Heaven. Fell Dionysius tremble; ere the dawn Timoleon thunders at your gates! the rage, The pent-up rage, of twenty thousand Greeks, Shall burst at once; and the tumultuous roar, Alarm th'astonish'd world.
Eva. Yet, ere thou go'st, young man, Attend my words: Tho' guilt may oft provoke, As now it does, just vengeance on its head, In mercy punish it. The rage of slaughter Can add no trophy to the victor's triumph; Bid him not shed unnecessary blood. Conquest is proud, inexorable, fierce; It is humanity ennobles all. So thinks Evander, and so tell Timoleon.
Phoc. Farewell;—the midnight hour shall give you freedom.
[Exit, with MELANTHON and PHILOTAS.
Eup. Ye guardian deities, watch all his ways.
Eva. Come, my Euphrasia, in this interval Together we will seek the sacred altar, And thank the God, whose presence fills the dome, For all the wond'rous goodness lavish'd on us.
ACT THE FIFTH.
Enter DIONYSIUS and CALIPPUS.
Dio. Ere the day clos'd, while yet the busy eye Might view their camp, their stations, and their guards, Their preparations for approaching night;— Didst thou then mark the motions of the Greek?
Cal. From the watch-tower I saw them: all things spoke A foe secure, and discipline relax'd.
Dio. Their folly gives them to my sword. Are all My orders issued?
Dio. The troops retir'd To gain recruited vigour from repose?
Cal. The city round lies hush'd in sleep.
Dio. Anon Let each brave officer, of chosen valour, Forsake his couch, and with delib'rate spirit, Meet at the citadel. An hour, at furthest, Before the dawn; 'tis fix'd to storm their camp; Haste, Calippus, Fly to thy post, and bid Euphrasia enter.
Evander dies this night:—Euphrasia too Shall be dispos'd of. Curse on Phocion's fraud, That from my pow'r withdrew their infant boy. In him the seed of future kings were crush'd, And the whole hated line at once extinguish'd.
Once more approach and hear me; 'tis not now A time to waste in the vain war of words. A crisis big with horror is at hand. I meant to spare the stream of blood, that soon Shall deluge yonder plains. My fair proposals Thy haughty spirit has with scorn rejected. And now, by Heav'n, here, in thy very sight, Evander breathes his last.
Eup. If yet there's wanting A crime to fill the measure of thy guilt, Add that black murder to the dreadful list;— With that complete the horrors of thy reign.
Dio. Woman, beware: Philotas is at hand, And to our presence leads Evander. All Thy dark complottings, and thy treach'rous arts, Have prov'd abortive.
Eup. Ha!—What new event? And is Philotas false?—Has he betray'd him?
Dio. What, ho! Philotas!
Eup. How my heart sinks within me!
Dio. Where's your pris'ner?
Phil. Evander is no more.
Dio. Ha!—Death has robb'd me Of half my great revenge.
Phil. Worn out with anguish, I saw life ebb apace. With studied art We gave each cordial drop, alas, in vain; He heav'd a sigh, invok'd his daughter's name, Smil'd, and expir'd.
Dio. Bring me his hoary head!
Phil. You'll pardon, sir, my over-hasty zeal. I gave the body to the foaming surge, Down the steep rock despis'd.
Dio. Now rave and shriek, And rend your scatter'd hair. No more Evander Shall sway Sicilia's sceptre. Now then, thou feel'st my vengeance.
Eup. Glory in it; Exult and triumph. Thy worst shaft is sped. Yet still th'unconquer'd mind with scorn can view thee; With the calm sunshine of the breast can see, Thy pow'r unequal to subdue the soul, Which virtue form'd, and which the gods protect.
Dio. Philotas, bear her hence; she shall not live; This moment, bear her hence!—you know the rest:— Go, see our will obey'd; that done, with all A warrior's speed, attend me at the citadel;— There meet the heroes, whom this night shall lead To freedom, victory,—to glorious havoc, And the destruction of the Grecian name. [Exit.
Eup. Accept my thanks, Philotas;—generous man! These tears attest th'emotions of my heart. But, oh! should Greece defer——
Phil. Dispel thy fears; Phocion will bring relief; or should the tyrant Assault their camp, he'll meet a marshall'd foe. Let me conduct thee to the silent tomb.
Eup. Ah! there Evander, naked and disarm'd, Defenceless quite, may meet some ruffian stroke.
Phil. Lo here's a weapon; bear this dagger to him. In the drear monument, should hostile steps Dare to approach him, they must enter singly; This guards the passage; man by man they die. There may'st thou dwell amidst the wild commotion.
Eup. Ye pitying gods, protect my father there!
Enter CALIPPUS, and several OFFICERS: DIONYSIUS meeting them.
Dio. Ye brave associates, who so oft have shar'd Our toil and danger in the field of glory, My fellow warriors, what no god could promise, Fortune hath giv'n us. In his dark embrace Lo! sleep envelops the whole Grecian camp. Against a foe, the outcasts of their country, Freebooters, roving in pursuit of prey, Success by war or covert stratagem Alike is glorious. Then, my gallant friends, What need of words? The gen'rous call of freedom, Your wives, your children, your invaded rights, All that can steel the patriot breast with valour, Expands and rouses in the swelling heart. Follow th'impulsive ardour; follow me, Your king, your leader: in the friendly gloom Of night, assault their camp; your country's love, And fame eternal, shall attend the men Who march'd through blood and horror, to redeem, From the invader's pow'r, their native land.
Cal. Lead to the onset; Greece shall find we bear Hearts prodigal of blood, when honour calls, Resolv'd to conquer or to die in freedom.
Dio. Thus I've resolv'd: When the declining moon Hath veil'd her orb, our silent march begins. The order thus:—Calippus thou lead forth Iberia's sons with the Numidian bands, And line the shore.—Perdiccas, be it thine To march thy cohorts to the mountain's foot, Where the wood skirts the valley; there make halt Till brave Amyntor stretch along the vale. Ourself with the embodied cavalry Clad in their mail'd cuirass, will circle round To where their camp extends its furthest line; Unnumber'd torches there shall blaze at once, The signal of the charge; then, oh, my friends! On every side let the wild uproar loose, Bid massacre and carnage stalk around, Unsparing, unrelenting; drench your swords In hostile blood, and riot in destruction. Away, my friends! Rouse all the war! fly to your sev'ral posts, And instant bring all Syracuse in arms!
The Inside of the Temple.
A Monument in the Middle.
EUPHRASIA, ERIXENE, and FEMALE ATTENDANTS.
Eup. Which way, Erixene, which way, my virgins, Shall we direct our steps? What sacred altar Clasp on our knees?
Erix. Alas, the horrid tumult Spreads the destruction wide. On ev'ry side The victor's shouts, the groans of murder'd wretches, In wild confusion rise. Once more descend Eudocia's tomb; there thou may'st find a shelter.
Eup. Anon, Erixene, I mean to visit, Perhaps for the last time, a mother's urn. This dagger there, this instrument of death, Should fortune prosper the fell tyrant's arms, This dagger then may free me from his pow'r, And that drear vault intomb us all in peace.
[Puts up the Dagger.
The din Of arms with clearer sound advances. Hark! That sudden burst!—Again!—They rush upon us! The portal opens; lo!—see there!—behold, War, horrid war, invades the sacred fane! No altar gives a sanctuary now. [Warlike Music.
Enter DIONYSIUS and CALIPPUS, with several SOLDIERS.
Dio. Here will I mock their siege; here stand at bay, And brave them to the last.
Cal. Our weary foes Desist from the pursuit.
Dio. Tho' all betray me, Tho' ev'ry god conspire, I will not yield. If I must fall, the temple's pond'rous roof, The mansion of the gods combin'd against me, Shall first be crush'd, and lie in ruin with me. Euphrasia here! Detested, treach'rous woman! For my revenge preserv'd!—By Heaven, 'tis well; Vengeance awaits thy guilt, and this good sword Thus sends thee to atone the bleeding victims This night has massacred.
Cal. [Holding DIONYSIUS'S Arm.] My liege, forbear; Her life preserv'd may plead your cause with Greece, And mitigate your fate.
Dio. Presumptuous slave! My rage is up in arms;—by Heav'n, she dies.
Enter EVANDER, from the Tomb.
Eva. Horror! forbear!—Thou murd'rer, hold thy hand! The gods behold thee, horrible assassin! Restrain the blow; it were a stab to Heav'n; All nature shudders at it!—Will no friend Arm in a cause like this a father's hand? Strike at this bosom rather. Lo! Evander Prostrate and groveling on the earth before thee! He begs to die:—exhaust the scanty drops That lag about his heart;—but spare my child.
Dio. Evander!——Do my eyes once more behold him?— May the fiends seize Philotas! Treach'rous slave! 'Tis well thou liv'st; thy death were poor revenge From any hand but mine. [Offers to strike.
Eup. No, tyrant no; [Rushing before EVANDER. I have provok'd your vengeance; through this bosom Open a passage; first on me, on me Exhaust your fury. Ev'ry pow'r above Commands thee to respect that aged head: His wither'd frame wants blood to glut thy rage: Strike here; these veins are full; here's blood enough; The purple tide will gush to glad thy sight.
Dio. Amazement blasts and freezes ev'ry pow'r! Ha! the fierce tide of war [A flourish of Trumpets. This way comes rushing on.
[Goes to the Top of the Stage.
Eup. [Embracing EVANDER.] Oh! thus, my father, We'll perish thus together.
Dio. Bar the gates; Close ev'ry passage, and repel their force.
Eva. And must I see thee bleed? Oh, for a sword! Bring, bring me daggers!
Dio. Guards, seize the slave, And give him to my rage.
Eva. [Seized by the GUARDS.] Oh! Inhuman villains!
Eup. Now, one glorious effort!—
Dio. Let me despatch; thou traitor, thus my arm—
Eup. A daughter's arm, fell monster, strikes the blow. [Stabs DIONYSIUS. Yes, first she strikes; an injur'd daughter's arm Sends thee devoted to th' infernal gods. [He falls.
Dio. May curses blast thy arm! May Aetna's fires Convulse the land; to its foundation shake The groaning isle! May civil discord bear Her flaming brand through all the realms of Greece; And the whole race expire in pangs like mine! [Dies.
Eup. Behold, all Sicily behold!—The point Glows with the tyrant's blood. Ye slaves, [To the GUARDS.] look there; Kneel to your rightful king: the blow for freedom Gives you the rights of men! And, oh, my father, My ever honour'd sire, it gives thee life!
Eva. My child—my daughter—sav'd again by thee! [He embraces her.
A Flourish of Trumpets. Enter PHOCION, MELANTHON, PHILOTAS, &c.
Phoc. Now let the monster yield.—My best Euphrasia!
Eup. My lord!—my Phocion!—welcome to my heart.— Lo! there the wonders of Euphrasia's arm!
Phoc. And is the proud one fall'n! The dawn shall see him A spectacle for public view. Euphrasia! Evander too!—Thus to behold you both——
Eva. To her direct thy looks; there fix thy praise, And gaze with wonder there. The life I gave her, Oh, she has us'd it for the noblest ends! To fill each duty; make her father feel The purest joy, the heart-dissolving bliss To have a grateful child.—But has the rage Of slaughter ceas'd?
Phoc. It has.
Eva. Where is Timoleon?
Phoc. He guards the citadel; there gives his orders To calm the uproar, and recal from carnage His conqu'ring troops.
Eup. Oh! once again, my father, Thy sway shall bless the land. Not for himself Timoleon conquers; to redress the wrongs Of bleeding Sicily, the hero comes. Thee, good Melanthon, thee, thou gen'rous man, His justice shall reward. Thee too, Philotas, Whose sympathizing heart could feel the touch Of soft humanity, the hero's bounty, His brightest honours, shall be lavish'd on thee. Evander, too, will place you near his throne; And show mankind, ev'n on this shore of being, That virtue still shall meet its sure reward.
Phil. I am rewarded: feelings, such as mine, Are worth all dignities; my heart repays me.
Eva. Come, let us seek Timoleon; to his care I will commend ye both: for now, alas! Thrones and dominions now no more for me. To thee I give my crown: yes, thou, Euphrasia; Shalt reign in Sicily. And, oh! ye Pow'rs, In that bright eminence of care and peril, Watch over all her ways; conduct and guide The goodness you inspir'd; that she may prove, If e'er distress like mine invade the land, A parent to her people; stretch the ray Of filial piety to times unborn, That men may hear her unexampled virtue, And learn to emulate "The Grecian Daughter."
[Transcriber's Note: The following typographical errors in the original edition have been corrected. "Dia." has been changed to "Dio." in the speech beginning "Perdiccas, ere the morn's revolving light"; "Enp." has been changed to "Eup." in the speech beginning "Give me my father; here you hold him fetter'd;"; "Couduct me forward" has been changed to "Conduct me forward"; and a missing bracket has been added before the stage direction "To the GUARDS.".]