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But, dost thou know me? Know'st thou, too, what


Is dropping from my hands ? Hast thou beheld
The sepulchres, wide-yawning, from their depths
Send forth their spectres to o'erturn my throne ?
Nay, with their hands thrust in my bristling hair,
To wrest from me my crown ? Hast thou e'er heard
A voice tremendous thundering around :
( ' Die, die, accursed wretch ! " Yes ; I will die :

I'm ready, Here's my breast, my heart's warm

blood :

Shed, shed it all : be nature's cause aveng'd j
And save me from the horror of thy sight,
Relentless shade !

Gon. Thy words, in truth, appal me.
Too much thou'st said, to be misconstrued now :

Scene IV. THE SPECTRE. 127

Thy soul, I see, is stung with fell remorse.
How hast thou sinn'd 1 What crime hast thou com-

T* inflame the Gods with so much wrath against thee ?
Unfold this mystery.- The fidelity
Of thy Gonippus is well known to thee ;
Oft hast thou honour'd him with confidence :
Entrust him, now, with this -, for still, the weight
Of ills is lessen'd by participation.

Aris. Mine, by disclosure, would but be embitter'd.
Seek not to penetrate their hidden source,
Gonippus. Tempt me not to break a silence
Ah ! leave, in pity, leave me !

Gon. Never, no !
While thou maintain'st that silence. These white


And my long service, have not, sure, deserv'd
Distrust from thee ?

Aris. But what is thy design
In thus entreating ? For, the veil remov'd,
Which hides this fatal secret, horror, sure,
Will strike thee dumb !

Gon. Ah ! what canst thou reveal '
Which yields not to the horror of beholding
Thee, thus, expiring in my sight ? My lord !
J. do beseech thee, by the tears I shed,
And by thy sacred knees which thus I clasp,
No longer torture me, but speak ! [Kneeling.

Aris. I will,


Since them so earnestly entreat'st it. Rise.
Oh Heaven ! What a tale must I unfold I

[Draws a dagger from his bosom.

Gon. Speak on ; proceed. What weapon is't thou
grasp'st ?

Arts. A murd'rous steel. Inspect it. Dost thou

This blood congeal' d upon it ?

Gon. Heav'n ! What blood ?

Who shed it ?

Arts. From my daughter's heart it came 5
And know'st thou, by what hand ?

Gon. No more, no more !
Utter it not : too well I understand thee !

Aris. But dost thou know the cause ?

Gon. There, I'm perplex'd.

Aris. Hear then. Remember thou hast wrung from


The dread recital which will freeze thy veins.
Hear me 5 and learn the whole atrocious truth -,
My mystery, and my crime. Recall to mind,
That period, when the Delphic Oracle,
For Erebus demanding human victims,
A virgin of the race of Jipytus
Was, from Messenia, claim'd in sacrifice.
Thou wilt remember, by the fatal urn,
Lyciscus' daughter, solemnly coiidemn'd,
By flight was by her father sav'd. For her,
Another maid must perish; and behold !

Scene IV. THE SPECTRE. 129

A second time, assembling round the urn,
Each parent trembled for his daughter's doom.
Precisely then, Messenia's throne was vacant.
Dost thou remember this ?

Gon. I do. Moreover,
I recollect, the royal diadem
Was pending, at that time, between thyself,
Damis, and Cleon : for the people's choice
Suspended hung, 'mid three opposing factions.

Aris. Well then, Gonippus : to secure the throne,
At once, and gain the people, hear the thought
Which my unpitying, mad ambition fram'd.
Let me (cried I within myself,) henceforth,
To profit turn the weakness of mankind.
The vulgar ever favour most, the man
Who most can dazzle and deceive them ; thus
A kingdom oft rewards superior craft,
Let me, then, cheat this senseless crowd, amending
Lyciscus* error : let my daughter's blood
Atone it: be the people, and the crown,
Both purchas'd by her blood.

Gon. Ah, Heav'n ! My lord,

What say'st thou ? What could to thy mind inspire
A project so atrocious ?

ris. Learn, Gonippus,
The man who is ambitious, must be cruel.
Between his views of greatness and himself,
Place ev'n his father's and his brother's heads,
Beneath his feet he'll trample them ; and make
Of both, a footstool for himself to rise on.



Such did I make my daughter j to the axe
Of sacrificing priests, so did I proffer
My child, Dircea. Then did Telamon,
Dircea's lover, aim t* oppose my plan.
He supplicated, threaten'd 5 yet, in vain,
Essay 'd to tear from me my fix'd resolve.
Desperate, at length, while prostrate at my feet
He fell, my pardon craving, he declar'd,
Dircea could not now be sacrific'd.
A virgin's blood the oracle demanded ;
But she was near to claim a mother's title,
While he confess'd a father's. To his aid,
My wife, Argia came, and, to secure
Belief from me, bore witness to the words
Of Telamon.

Gon. What didst thou then ?

Aris. With rage

I inly burn'd : and, goaded by the shame
Of my insulted honour ; sharpen'd more
By the defeat of my ambitious hopes,
(Since, from my grasp, I deem'd the kingdom torn 5)
Silent, on Telamon my angry eyes
I fix'd, dissembling calmness, though my wrath
To phrensy rose ; and sought my daughter's chamber.
Stretch'd on her couch, I found her ; pale, perturb'd,
Disconsolate: her eyes, with weeping weary,
A languid lethargy awhile had clos'd.
Gonippus, ah ! what wrath might not that sight
Have soften'd ? but wild rage mine eyes had seal'd ;
While indignation boil'd in every vein.

Scene IV. THE SPECTRE. 131

Whence (grasping this accursed steel,) all sense
Of nature's shudderings, wholly quench'd within me,
Furious, I rais'd then, piling' d it in her breast.
The hapless creature op'd her eyes j she knew me :
Quick cov'ring then her face, " My father, oh ! "
She cried, ' ' my father ! "and she spoke no more.

Gon. I freeze with horror

Aris. To express thy feelings,
Awhile forbear j and thou ere long, Gonippus,
Shalt find deep horror overwhelm thy soul.
Now, agonizing in the grasp of death,
Wounded, and panting still, the victim lay.
With dying eyes she still appear'd to seek
The light again 5 the last breath faintly play'd
On her wan lip. Meanwhile, the blood in torrents
Gush'd from the wound, and flow'd beneath my feet.
In the fierce transports of my unslak'd rage,
And of my crime, yet incomplete, convinc'd
That she was guilty, with this steel I dar'd
Lay open wide her dying frame. Nay, dar'd,
Amidst the hot smoke of her weltering corse,
To seek her crime oh ! she was innocent !

Gon. (after a pause.} Gods ! Could the wildest fury
so transport thee ?

Aris. Ask not : suffice it, she was innocent.
Then, from mine eyes the bandage fell 5 then, clear
The fraud appear'd ; and pity whelm'd my heart.
Through all my shiv'ring veins, cold horror ran ;
Nay, even seem'd to petrify the tears
That rested on my cheeks. Congeal'd I stood,

K 2

132 AR1STODBMUS ; OR, Act I.

Until her mother, entering suddenly,

Beheld the direful spectacle. Awhile,

Pale, cold, and mute, she gaz'd; then, desp'rate


Swift as the winged lightning, grasp'd the poniard,
Which, from my nerveless hand, had fall'n to earth,
And, piercing her own bosom, fell, in death
Extended by her murder'd daughter's side.
Behold the fatal end of both. Behold
The mystery, which fifteen years have seen
Entomb'd within my heart ; which, but for thee,
Were buried still, within it.

Gon. Thou hast told,

In truth, a fearful tale j and thy narration
Has with such horror chilTd my freezing veins,
That from the bare thought, all my soul recoils !
Yet, tell me, how have scenes so terrible
Been, still, conceal'd from all enquiring eyes ?

Aris. Be not at this surpris'd. My name was great,
My name was dreaded too -, and, to the throne,
The general suffrage, at this period, call'd me.
'Twas easy, then, t' effect a fraudful purpose ;
For, well thou know'st, the shadow of a throne
Spreads wide, to cover crimes. The feeble priests,
(Who are constraint the voice of Heav'n itself
To hide in silence, when the law of force
Speaks from the lips of power) alone, and silent,
Beneath the fav'ring shade of night, convey'd
Within the precincts of the sacred fane,
The dead Dircea : raising thus, belief

Scene IV. THE SPECTRE. 133

That she, upon the altar slain, that night,
Had, with her blood, appeas'd th' offended gods.
Her virgin frame they shew'd, to falsify
The base and wide-spread fraud of Telamon 3
Adding, that heart-struck by Dircea's fate,
Her mother had, in phrensy, slain herself.
But o'er the wicked, still, the eyes of Heaven
Are vigilant ; and there is, sure, a God,
Who, from the tomb itself, will rouse to life,
From their long sleep, the crimes of guilty men,
Thund'ring their cry ev'n on their impious hearts.
Shall I divulge it ? I, seme time, have been
By a tremendous spectre

Gon. (interrupting.) Leave, ah! leave
The fear of spectres to the vulgar herd ;
And seek not from their graves to raise the dead.
Think, for thy comfort, that thy keen remorse
May lessen, in the sight of Heav'n, thy crime.
Be calm ; give place to thoughts of greater moment.
I have already told thee, that Lysander,
Th' ambassador from Sparta, is arriv'd,
And brings us terms of peace. Hear him ; reflect,
It is thy country that entreats this peace ;
And that her walls, and her few torn remains
Of devastated empire, recommend it.

Arts. Then shall my country be obey'd. Come hence.



134 AlllSTODKMUS; OR, Act II.




Pal. How strange a tale is this ! I'm so replete
With wonder, that I feel as in a dream !
Cesira, daughter of Aristodemus ?

Lys. Speak lower. Yes, Cesira is his daughter $
His lost, his long-deplor'd Argia. How,
On Ladon's banks, I took her prisoner,
Three lustres since ; and how compassion, then,
For the poor innocent, overcame me, I
Already have informed thee : I proceed
To tell thee, that, designing to employ her
Against Aristodemus' self, should need
Require, I, to my friend Talthybius, gave
In charge to rear her; binding him, by oath,
Ne'er to divulge her birth. He rear'd, and lov'd her
As she had been his own : he was reputed
Her father, and took pleasure in the name :
And, though he had it not by nature, love
Entitled him to bear it.

Pal. Has Cesira
Suspected aught of this ?

Lys. Nay; never aught.


Pal. But what became, then, of Eumams, he
Who bore the babe in charge ?

Lys. A prison held

Eumaeus, safely ; for 'twas my intent,
In him, a witness of the truth to keep,
And call for, at my need. I, therefore, spar'd him,
Not through compassion, friend, but policy.

Pal. And lives he still ?

Lys. I know not : for the duties of the field
Have held me long remote from Sparta's walls.
But well, ere this, Talthybius knows, who shar'd
Throughout, my confidence unlimited.

Pal. Strange tale ! But wherefore, to the injury
Of these unhappy beings, wouldst thou, now,
With fruitless caution, still, the secret hide ?

Lys. Nay, 'tis a secret useful to the hate
Of Sparta ; useful to her deep-laid schemes
Of policy j and comes, at once, in aid
Of universal vengeance. Gall to mind,
Aristodemus is our greatest foe.
The valleys of Amphea, yet, are red
With our best blood, shed by his vengeful sword:
The Spartan widows, weeping still, deplore
Their husbands slain j while, by his hand transpierc'd,
At once, a sire, and brother, I bewail.

Pal. He slew them, bravely, in an equal field :
Not like a base assassin.

Lys. Wouldst thou have me
For this, forgive m'm, or abhor him less ?

Pal. Abhor him ? Wherefore ? Pardon me ; I too,


Well recollect the slaughter j and the flames

Of our paternal roofs : and still, methinks,

I see Aristodemus, 'mid the fires,

Tread my slain children's bodies in the dust :

Yet, not for this, do I abhor him -, since,

Possess'd of power, I had myself, 'gainst him,

Shewn equal enmity j but rather, I

Feel grateful tow'rds him, who so kindly freed

From me, my chains, as from a friend 5 and truly,

I should ev'n love him, were I not a Spartan,

And he Messenian born.

Lys. 'Tis evident,

That slavery has corrupted, in thy mind,
Its pristine, strict, and vigorous sentiments.
But though thy thoughts have chang'd, so have not


Within my heart, if any virtue dwell,
Assur'dly, 'tis not pity for my foes.
For ill should I esteem I serv'd my country,
Did I, forgetful of th' imperious duty
Of every Spartan soul, through weak affections,
Betray her cause.

Pal. Is pity, then, a weakness ?

Lys. If to our country prejudicial,
'Tis more j disgraceful and unjust. But see,
Cesira comes. Retire we hence. More safely,
We elsewhere may converse. I'd have thee know
The whole importance of this mystery.


Scene II. THE SPECTRE. 157



Gon. They'll talk of peace 3 but the result, Cesira,
Who, of this singular discourse, may tell ?
The vulgar eye transpierces not the depth
Of kingly thoughts. To govern and dispose
Is, still, the sov' reign's part : 'tis ours t' obey.
Yet hope 1 peace j and peace, I'm well assur'd,
Provided Sparta with discretion seek it,
Aristodemus wishes, and will grant.

Ces. Alas ! I know not why, I rather fear it ;
And feel my soul divided in its choice.
To Sparta, now, a mourning father calls me j
Now, in Messenia, pity for the fate
Of sad Aristodemus, bids me stay.
And, should I be oblig'd to leave him Ah !
Heav'n knows how painfully 'twill wring my heart !
What secret, sweet intelligence exists,
Through which his mournful features won my soul
I cannot comprehend -, but, more than these,
Methinks, his very misery binds me to him.
I only know, that, when remote from him,
My days will be disconsolate and sad.

Gon. And dost thou deem that, losing thee, his days
Will be more joyous ? Oft have I observ'd
The wretched king, when by thy side, t* appear
Forgetful of his sorrows. Often, too,

138 AK1STODEMUS ', OR, Act II.

A word, a smile of thine,, has had the power
To calm the tempests that lay waste his soul,
And render life itself less painful to him.
Judge then, what anguish will attend thy loss !

Ces. See, he approaches - } and his looks, methinks,
Speak, somewhat more compos'd, his spirit.

Gon. True.

He comes a conference of peace to hold 5
A subject to discuss, whereon depends
The kingdom's welfare : and, when cares so weighty
Demand his thoughts, all other cares give place.


Aris. Let the ambassador from Sparta come.




Aris. If fate propitious smile on me, this day,
The long-protracted enmity, Cesira,
Of Sparta and Messenia shall have end j
And we, once more, shall welcome peace. But yet,
The first-fruits of such peace will bring, to me,
A taste of bitterness ; since I must lose thee,
And here in sickness, and in grief remain,
While thou shalt, gladly, wing thy flight, to seek
The walls of Sparta, long desir'd in vain.

Scene IV. THE SPECTRE. 139

Ces. This proves, thou dost not read my heart j but

Both reads, and comprehends it.

Aris. Generous maid!

Wouldst thou, indeed, with willingness remain ?
Couldst thou sincerely wish it? Ah! forgett'st thou,
Thy father, who, while anxiously awaiting,
Lives but in the fond hope of seeing thee ?

Ces. My father lives for ever in my heart :
But thou art also here 5 {.Laying her hand on her heart,

and still, for thee,

This heart pleads warmly, telling me, that thou
Hold'st ev'n superior right : a right, thou clainl'st
From my true gratitude, from thy misfortunes,
My pity, and another fond sensation,
Which agitates my soul j and yet remains
Ev'n to myself, inexplicable.

Aris. Yes:

Our hearts, indeed, hold sympathy together ;
But, to thy father, and to him alone,
Thou ow'st these tender sentiments, Cesira.
Return to him j and be his comfort still.
Happy old man ! I cannot number thee
'Mid those, whom Heav'n has, in its wrath, made


But to chastise them. Thou wilt have, at least,
One who may close thine eyes -, and thou wilt feel
In death, thy cheeks warm'd by a daughter's kisses,
And water' d by her tears. While I Oh, Heaven !
Hadst thou but left her to me ! even I


My hopes might also flatter with like bliss,
And bury all my sufferings in her arms !

Ces. How ! Of whom speaks my lord ?

Aris. I speak, Cesira,
Of my Argia. Pardon, that so oft
I call her to remembrance. Well thou know'st,
In her, my last, my dearest hopes were centred
Of consolation, in my wane of life.
Methinks I see her, even now : her form
Imagination cruelly portrays ;
And while, in thee, I fancy I behold her,
With trembling, and with palpitating heart,
Heav'n mocks my fruitless fondness.

Ces. Wretched father!

Aris. Still had she liv'd, her years had equalPd

thine :

Nor had, perchance, her charms and virtues bloom'd
To thine inferior.

Ces. 'Twas a fatal step,
Indeed, my lord, the sending her to Argos ;
The peril of her capture unforeseen.

Aris. Yes j 'twas a fatal step : a foolish prudence.
Ah ! was not the unhappy babe with me,
Sufficiently secure ? A safer shield
Can children have, than the parental breast ?

Ces. Oh! wherefore has Heav'n torn her from

Aris. Heaven
Design'd the full completion of my woes.

Ces. Still did she live, would it content thee fully ?

Scene V. THE SPBCTRE. 141

Aris. Cesira, one embrace of hers, one sole
Embrace, and I were happy.

Ces. Would to Heaven,
I, then, were she !

Aris. Ah! if thou wert My daughter!

Ces. Call'st thou me, daughter?

Aris. Yes ; that name, my heart
Impell'd my lips to utter.

Ces. And my heart,
With like affection, bids me call thee, father.

Aris. Yes, yes j still call me father. In that name,
A charm I find, a sweetness, that transports me.
Fully to taste the pleasure it aifords,
'Twere needful to have drain'd, as I have done,
The bitter chalice of calamity 5
The pangs of nature to have felt, and keenly !
One's children to have lost, and lost for ever !

Ces. (aside.) He breaks my heart.



Gon. My lord, the orator
Of Sparta comes.

Aris. Oh, Heav'n ! in what a moment
Does he surprise me ! Go, and leave me, both.
Farewell, Cesira ; we shall meet again.




Aris. Awake, arouse thee, now, my dormant virtue !
Behold, at stake, the welfare of our kingdom ;
Whence it, at once, behoves us to maintain
Our rights, and satisfy our people's wishes.
Yes! to command, be 't now, the subject's part;
And be 't the king's, t' obey. But, like a king,
Let him obey : nor let Aristodemus
Be seen to crouch, a timorous supplicant
For peace, from hostile hands. Nor breathe my words
The servile spirit of peace j as, in his heart,
Doubtless, this haughty Spartan deems they will.



Aris. Lysander, sit ; and freely now, impart,
Be they of adverse or of friendly scope,
The views of Sparta.

Lys. To Messenia's king,
Sparta sends health ; and peace, if he desire it

Aris. Peace I demanded ; it is, therefore, clear,
That I desir'd it. And I now, with joy,
Hear that, at length, of strife and slaughter weary,
Sparta, desisting from an unjust war,
Seeks to renew our ancient amity.


Lys. How ! unjust war ? Call you that war unjust,
Which aims t' avenge an injury sustained ?
Your subjects, with the blood of Teleclus,
Polluted the Limnean sacrifices ;
And Teleclus, (you know it,) was our king.
From this, and from no other source, have sprung
Our long contentions. This, my lord, remember.

Aris. Nay, I on this have purposely been silent,
Only to spare thee shame. Say now, Lysander,
Where learn'd the great Alcides' generous sons
Meanly to skulk, disguis'd in female robes ;
And basely plot the death of my Messenians ;
Who then, in all the confidence of peace,
With hymns, with dances, and with festal rites,
Around the sacred altar were assembled ?

Lys. That tale, full oft, hath diff rently been told :
Neither is Sparta so devoid of worth,
That, purposing destruction to her foes,
By making war, she need descend t' adopt
Th* unworthy medium of a base pretext.

Aris. 'Tis true ; while Sparta deems herself possess'd
Of pow'r superior, she but ill maintains
Her dignity, employing base pretexts.
When contests are decided by the sword,
Justice and truth become an useless plea,
If not injurious ; nor, indeed, is justice
The virtue Sparta boasts -, but despotism
Adroitly veil'd beneath the modest cloak
Of liberty. 'Tis hence, your policy
T' avoid the path of honour, if it seem


To lead to aught that hurts yourselves ; and fly
With ready zeal, to profitable crimes.
To sow dissension, still, 'mid neighbouring states,
And, when division has impair'd their strength,
T' attack them suddenly, and, more betray'd
Than conquer'd, drag them to a servile yoke.
And thus,*all Greece ye would subdue. In truth,
A noble art is this, of conq'ring empires !
And dare ye boast yourselves, for other states,
A bright example ? Of the fam'd Lycurgus,
Are you the fellow-citizens r Did he
These laws bequeath to you ? Away ! Strip off
These pompous seemings. To the eyes of men,
Shew fewer laws, and more substantial virtues :
Yes j let faith, honour, justice, henceforth reign
Ev'n among you, degen'rate sons of Sparta !

Lys. Sire, clemency still reigns among her sons j
And what, were it not so, would be your fate ?
Already are the rocks and tow'rs, that crown'd
The heights of burnt Ithome, laid in ruins.
And should all- conqu' ring Sparta further urge
Her triumph, what Divinity defends you ?

Arts. Aristodemus. And, while still he breathes,
He will suffice alone : and when the grave
Receives him, still, his silent ashes there
Shall, ev'n in death, strike terror to your hearts.

Lys. Deem you, my lord, that they who fear you not
Alive, will fear you dead ? But, if we meet
To parley of offence alone, I've done.
To Sparta I return j and I will warn her,


Not yet to sheathe the sword ; but challenge, here,
Her few remaining foes. [Rises.

Aris. (Rising.) Return to Sparta,
Ev'n what thou wilt $ but warn her yet, at least,
That, to subdue those few remaining foes,
She, first, must breathe awhile j and with fresh blood,
Her empty and exhausted veins replenish.

Lys. Less will she need, than now, Messenia asks,
To heal the wounds which, weeping, she deplores.

Aris. Grant that Messenia weep j 'tis not less true,
That Sparta does not smile.

Lys. Yet, Sparta's pride
Stoops not to sue for peace.

Aris. I sued for peace.

And now, let Sparta tremble, lest, repentant,
I should reject it. Well she knows, the arms
Of Elis, Argos, Sicyon, prop my cause.
She knows how ardent a desire of vengeance
Inflames Messenian breasts ; how keen our swords,
How strongly-nerv'd our arms. She knows, full well,
That various are the fortunes of the field :
She well remembers, that, when she o'ercame us,
Fraud, more than valour, ever won the day.
Lysander, this the sum of Sparta's mercy :
Peace to concede, and boast of clemency,
Through fear, alone, of being foil'd in war.

Lys. For war declare, then.

Aris. I declare for peace.
And thank your Gods, that so I fix my choice.
Oh, yet, had it been true ! But come; once more



Let us be friends, [.They sit again,

be brothers j and forgetting
Our past dissensions, sheathe the angry sword.
Shall human wrath eternally endure ?
Have we from Heav'n receiv'd the gift of life,
Only to hate and massacre each other ?
Did Nature, from the bosom of the earth,
Bid us the iron tear, that man might pierce
His fellow's breast, and make it so, the tool
Of human slaughter, and inhuman crimes ? >
Unless we shortly terminate our wars.
Both Sparta and Messenia will be deserts.
Nor will there aught remain, ere long, in either,
Save wretched bands of widows and of orphans.
And what, meanwhile, says Greece, of our dissensions ?
She says : The horrible atrocities
Of Thebes, we're now renewing j that, the Spartans,
With our Messenians own the self-same blood 5
That, Thebes, two fratricides alone disgrac'd ;
But here, they are as numerous as the corses
With which our savage fury strews the field.
And wherefore all this rage ? But for a few
Parch'd clods of earth, which barely will suffice
T* afford us sepulture ; which yet, are crimsonM
With fathers' and with brothers' blood, of whom
Ourselves are the assassins. Ah ! let Greece
No longer tell, of us, such tales of shame !
Or, if fame move us not, at least, let interest.
Proud Thebes and jealous Athens, by our side,

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