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ROXANA. What new disaster comes to overwhelm me?
What can his bidding be? What my reply ?
Doubtless the Sultan, in his mind perturbed,
Has Bajazet condemned a second time.
Without my sanction none will dare to take
His life ; for all obey me here. But ought I
To shield him ? Bajazet or Amurath
Which claims allegiance? One have I betrayed ;
The other may be false to me.
Time presses ;
I must resolve this fatal doubt, nor let
The precious moments pass. Love, when most cautious,
Cannot conceal its secret inclination.
I will watch Bajazet and Atalide :
Then crown the lover, or destroy the traitor.
THE APPEAL OF ANDROMACHE.
(From "Andromaque.") Scene: The palace of Pyrrhus, at Buthrotum in Epirus. Present:
ANDROMACHE, HERMIONE, CLEONE, CEPHISSA.
ANDROMACHE (to HERMIONE]. Why fly you, madam ? Is
it not a sight
To please you, Hector's widow at your knees,
Weeping? But not with tears of jealousy
I come, nor do I envy you the heart
Surrendered to your charms. A cruel hand
Robbed me of him whom only I admired.
Love's flame was lit by Hector long ago,
With him it was extinguished in the tomb.
But he has left a son. Some day you 'll know
How closely to one's heart a son can cling;
you will never know, I wish it not,
How keen the pang when danger threatens him,
And they would take him from you, — all that's left
To soothe a blighted heart. Ah, when worn out
With ten long years of woe, the Trojans sought
Your mother's life, on Hector I prevailed
To succor her. O’er Pyrrhus you have power
As I had then o'er Hector. Can they dread
The infant he has left ? Him let me hide
In some far distant isle. And they may trust
My fears to keep him there, taught but to weep
HERMIONE. I feel for you, but duty holds
My tongue tied when my sire declares his will:
It is by him that Pyrrhus's wrath is stirred.
But who can bend him better than yourself ?
His soul has long been subject to your eyes :
Make him pronounce the word, and I'll consent.
ANDROMACHE. How scornfully did she refuse my prayer !
CEPHISSA. Accept her counsel. See him, as she says;
One look of yours may Greece and her confound -
But look, he seeks you of his own accord.
Enter PYRRHUS and PHENIX.
PYRRHUS [to PHENIX]. Where is the princess ? Said you
not that she Was here?
PHENIX. I thought so.
ANDROMACHE (to CEPHISSA). Now you see what power My eyes have over him ! PYRRHUS.
What says she? ANDROMACHE.
All Is lost!
PHENIX. Hermione is gone, and we
CEPHISSA. Speak! Why obstinately dumb?
ANDROMACHE. Has he not promised them my child ?
But not Given him up.
ANDROMACHE. Vain are my tears, — his death Is certain.
PYRRHUS. How her pride disdains to look
ANDROMACHE. I should but irritate him more.
Let us retire.
Come, Hector's son shall be
Yielded to Greece.
ANDROMACHE (throwing herself at his feet] -
Stop, Sire. What will you do?
Give up the son? Why not the mother, then ?
Where is the kindness that you swore to me
So lately? Can I touch no chord at least
Of pity ? Does this sentence bar all hope
PYRRHUS. Phænix knows my word is pledged.
ANDROMACHE. No dangers were too great for you to brave On my behalf !
PYRRHUS. Blind then, I now can see.
Your wishes might have won his pardon once ;
You ne'er so much as asked it. Now you come
ANDROMACHE. Full well you understood, my lord,
The sigh that feared repulse. Forgive the trace
Of pride, that died not with my royal rank,
And made me shrink from importunity.
My lord, you know, had it not been for you,
Andromache would never have embraced
A master's knees.
PYRRHUS. No, in your secret soul
You hate me, scorn to owe me anything.
This son, the only object of your care,
You would have loved him less, had he been saved
Through me. You hate me with a bitter scorn,
And worse than all the other Greeks combined.
Enjoy at leisure such a noble rage.
ANDROMACHE. I will go where Hector's gone.
What further can I say to him ? The author of my woes, he knows them all.
[To PYRRHUS] See to what state you have reduced me, sire ! I've seen my father slain, our walls enwrapt In flames, and all our family cut off, My husband's bloody corpse dragged through the dust, His only son reserved for chains with me. For his sake I endure to live a slave. Yea, more, this thought has sometimes brought relief, That fate has fixed my place of exile bere; The son of many kings beneath your sway Is happier as a slave than he could be Elsewhere, and I had hoped his prison walls Might be a place of refuge. Priam found Achilles could respect his fallen state : I thought his son more generous still. That trust, My Hector, pardon, when I deemed thy foe Too noble to commit a dastard's crime! Ah, had he but allowed us to abide Where for thine ashes I had raised a tomb, And ending there his hatred and our woes, Parted us not from thy beloved remains !
PYRRHUS. Go and await me, Phænix.
Your tears may yet win back this cherished son.
Yes, I regret that, moving you to weep,
I armed you with a weapon 'gainst myself;
I thought I could have brought more hatred here.
You might at least consent to look at me:
See, are my eyes those of an angry judge,
Whose pleasure 't is to cause you misery ?
Why force me to be faithless to yourself?
Now for your son's sake let us cease to hate.
'Tis I who urge you, Save the child from death.
Must sighs of mine beg you to spare his life?
And must I clasp your knees to plead for him ?
Once more, but once, Save him and save yourself.
I know what solemn vows for you I break,
What hatred I bring down upon myself.
Hermione shall go, and on her brow
For crown I set a burning brand of shame;
And in the fane decked for her marriage rites
Her royal diadem yourself shall wear.
This offer, lady, is no longer one
You can afford to scorn. Perish or reign!
A year's contempt has made me desperate,
Nor can I any longer live in doubt,
Harassed by fears and mingling threats with groans.
To lose you is to die, - 't is death to wait.
I leave you to consider, and will come
To bring you to the temple where this child
My fury shall destroy before your eyes,
Or where in love I crown you as my queen.
THE CONFESSION OF PHÆDRA.
(From “ Phèdre.") Scene: The palace at Træzen, in the Peloponnesus. Present :
PHÆDRA, HIPPOLYTUS, ENONE.
PHÆDRA (to Enone].
There I see him !
My blood forgets to flow, my tongue to speak
What I am come to say.
Think of your son,
How all his hopes depend on you.
You leave us and in haste. I come to add
My tears to your distress, and for a son
Plead my alarm. No more has he a father,
And at no distant day my son must witness
My death. Already do a thousand foes
Threaten his youth. You only can defend him.
But in my secret heart remorse awakes,
And fear lest I have shut your ears against
His cries. I tremble lest your righteous anger
Visit on him ere long the hatred earned
By me, his mother.
No such base resentment,
Madam, is mine.
PHÆDRA. I could not blame you, prince,
should hate me. I have injured you:
So much you know, but could not read my heart.
T' incur your enmity has been mine aim:
The selfsame borders could not hold us both;
In public and in private I declared
Myself your foe, and found no peace till seas
Parted us from each other. I forbade
Your very name to be pronounced before me.
And yet if punishment should be proportioned
To the offence, if only hatred draws
Your hatred, never woman merited
More pity, less deserved your enmity.
HIPPOLYTUS. A mother jealous of her children's rights
Seldom forgives the offspring of a wife
Who reigned before her. Harassing suspicions
Are common sequels of a second marriage.
Of me would any other have been jealous
No less than you, perhaps more violent.
PHÆDRA. Ah, prince, how Heaven has from the general
law Made me exempt, be that same Heaven witness! Far different is the trouble that devours me!
HIPPOLYTUS. This is no time for self-reproaches, madam.
It may be that your husband still beholds
The light, and Heaven may grant him safe return,
In answer to our prayers. His guardian god
Is Neptune, ne'er by him invoked in vain.
PHÆDRA. He who has seen the mansions of the dead
Returns not thence. Since to those gloomy shores
Theseus is gone, 't is vain to hope that Heaven
May send him back. Prince, there is no release
From Acheron's greedy maw. And yet, methinks,
He lives and breathes in you. I see him still