161 M1r

The Fate of Sparta.

or,
The Rival Kings.

A Tragedy.

Vol. II. M 162 M1v

The Fate designated in the Title is no fate fraught with Woe, but the atchievement of the downfall of a Tyrant. The play was brought out at Drury Lane in 17881788. The Author’s Prologue gives Notice that its scene is not laid in the heroic times of Sparta, but in its latter days of luxury and weakness.

Finding however in its history, combined in one character, a Wife and Daughter with as much of the Heroism of her Ancestors as change of circumstances would admit of, so fine a theme excited the Author to present such a being to view—rather to raise the loftier passions than to subdue to the weakness and the tears in which Melpomene, laying aside her Dagger, full frequently indulges.

Thus Chelonice, in whose bosom reign co-equally filial and connubial love, arraigned before her Father for her attachment to her Husband, invokes, for the credit of his administration of Justice, the rigid Sentence of the Law, not Mercy to his Child; and yet, prefers the Exile with which her husband is threatened in his fallen fortunes, to the splendors of a Throne.

The Author’s object was but to display all the bearings of such a Character. With this view, and to constitute a Fable dramatic in its texture, the particular events of the Tragedy are, in a considerable degree, derived but from the Poet’s usual source—Invention. But, that Leonidas and Cleombrotus alternately dethroned each other, and that the Heroine of this play, the Daughter of the former and the Wife of the latter, devoted herself to soothing the fate of each, as he sought refuge in the Temple from the other—this is History.

163 M2r

To John Cowley, Esquire.

When Letters were yet in their Infancy, and knowledge and the arts were still groping their way through mists, some splendid Name was necessary to give an Author Celebrity—hence the custom of Dedications; hence those floods of Adulation that poured from the press, and outraged the feelings of the Addresser and the Addressed.

But now, when Poets and writers of every denomination accept Patronage only from the Public, and when Fame is to be obtained only by deserving it, the custom of dedicating can be continued only, as a medium through which to convey personal respect. It is delightful to make an offering to those we love, when that offering has had value stamped upon it by the voice of the Public. Thus The Fate of Sparta seeks you in the recesses of a Counting House; and, whilst you are engaged in supporting our national manufactures, and invoking Commerce from her distant realms, solicits your attention to the Muses.

When I hinted an intention of addressing this Tragedy to you, you shrunk from the idea, and desiredM2 164 M2v 164 sired me to chuse a worthier name. My dearest Brother, where shall I turn to find it?—This shall not be an address of Adulation, therefore I shall only observe, that those to whom you are known will acknowledge that I am justified in the choice I have made of a patron; and those who know you not, will do my pride the credit to believe that I should not have selected for that patron, a man whose name and situation did not reflect honour on me.

There is yet another motive for using my Poetic Wand to call your Shade before posterity. As your regard has been one of the chief blessings of my life, I wish those who succeed us to know how much I hold myself indebted to it. I wish my own children and your’s to feel the sweet influence of our mutual friendship; and, as they carry in their veins the same blood, to cherish in their hearts the same attachment. Dear Children! who will wander again and again over this page, after the hand which traces it moves no more, after the heart to which it is addressed hath ceased to beat!

I was about to conclude with this pensive idea; but, I recollect that I have not yet mentioned, in dedicatory form, the Work dedicated. The following Tragedy then, Sir, is in its fable and events Invention—except in the Conduct of Chelonice and the scene in the Temple; and with the circumstance on which that scene is founded I have taken some liberties. Other deviations from History will 165 M3r 165 strike; but, if I have altered Circumstances, I have still abided by Character. Leonidas, at Drury Lane, as in Sparta, is artful, tyrannical, and doats on his Daughter. The impetuous amd crafty Amphares, the destroyer of Agis, is here true to his System. Cleombrotus, ambitious and considerably obstinate, is yet sensible of the merits of his wife. He, though my Hero, is not—a faultless monster. If the Lady should appear too perfect, I appeal to the grave authority of Plutarch, who I believe is not suspected of writing Fictions to compliment women.

Struck with admiration at the slight, yet powerful, touches with which that Biographist had sketched the Heroine, I wondered such a character had never been brought on stage, in honour of the sex; yet, I had pleasure in reflecting that this was precisely the age in which it ought to be done, for this age boasts Mrs. Siddons.

The public prints bear testimony that the Tragedy excited the best efforts of that Lady, and of the other performers; and I record it with pleasure, not merely because it is flattering to myself, but because I wish the present I thus offer you, to be surrounded by every circumstance that can make it interesting.

With the best wishes and affection, I have the honour to be, Your devoted humble servant,

H. Cowley.

166 M3v

Prologue.

To ask your Favour we’re by Custom bound,

So Prologue bows before you to the ground.

But, interchange of Favours we are told

Is truest method to make friendship hold.

My gift is this;—these chilly wintry nights,

Whilst hoar frost glitters, and the north wind bites,

I’ll waft you the gentlest Summer sky,

Where rose-buds swell, and softest zephyrs fly;

Where the bright Sun, with scarce diminished ray,

November’s month bids charm like florid May;

Where, ’neath sweet myrtle shades, the Lover dies,

As gales, with fragrance fraught, perfume his sighs—

Presto! I waft you now from Drury Lane,

To Greece, where first Taste rear’d immortal fane.

You’ve heard of Spartan Boys, who let young foxes

Feed on their blood, placid as beaus in boxes,

Sans shriek, or groan. You’ve heard of black broth too,

More prized than our ice-creams by me or you;

With many other mighty noble things,

At which less stubborn times have had their flings.

Alas! th’ events on which we found our play,

Were long posterior to that stoick day!

Sparta conceived a whim—to be polite,

Black broth, with changing fashion, took its flight,

And, Luxury her flood gates opening wide,

Wild dissipation came with headstrong tide,

167 M4r 167

Plain dress, and frugal meals, no more were yokes,

And Godlike Spartans lived—like other folks!

Turned fiddlers brokers merchants, gamed, and betted,

Their Boast—but what they risked, or what they netted,

Till haughty Sparta, circled now by Walls,

Admits there’s Danger, and assaulted falls.

Of old, their Privy-Council urged a plan,

By double sway to curb degenerate man,

Each of two Monarchs wore a splendid crown—

Castor and Pollux like, this up, that down?

Oh no—they both together were enthroned,

And subject slaves, in double slavery, groaned.

Each Privy-Council’s wise!—yet, e’en away

This passed; but first, th’ Adventures of our play.

The ground work true, a little Fancy grant

Where Fact had in its tribute been but scant,

A trade in fibs all Poets are allowed,

By our’s, with hopes of pardon, ’tis avowed!

168 M4v

Characters.

Leonidas, King of Sparta, Mr. Bensley.

Amphares, Mr. Barrymore.

Nicrates, Mr. Whitfield.

Sarpedon, Mr. Phillimore.

Generals,

High Priest of Minerva, Mr. Wilson.

Cleombrotus, the deposed King, Mr. Kemble.

Chelonice, his Wife, Daughter of Leonidas, Mrs. Siddons.

Their Son,

Mezentius,

Corex,

Leaders of the Thracian Mercenaries in his Army,

Mr. Williams.

Mr. Staunton.

169 M5r

The Fate of Sparta.

Act the First.

Scene I.

A Forest. Moonlight. In the back ground a Camp. Beyond it Sparta. Enter Mezentius and Corex.

Corex.

How the thick vapours clog the sultry air,

As glowing Sirius in his fervid rage

Sends noxious languors through the sickening sky!

Mezentius.

Majestic Nature’s thunders through the day

In full terrific grandeur struck the ear.

Whilst elements with wrathful elements engaged

Through labouring Æther flew the living flame

The darken’d concave fiercely to illume,

The Heavens the Earth all aiding in the fray

And heightening terror to the region round!

170 M5v 170

Corex.

The conflict of the elements is past,

The Tempest which so lately seemed to stir

All ’neath the louring sky, at length hath paused.

And agitated nature gained repose,

As, in the beauteous regions of the West,

Whilst gorgeous dyes their thousand tints gave forth,

And pour’d their utmost brilliance on the sight,

The Sun descending gradually withdrew.

Mezentius.

Aye, for a time the stormy air is still,

Whilst other conflicts live in uncheck’d rage.

That war is past, and now, the war of men,

The rush of Armies, and the shouts of death,

Will reach the skies.

Corex.

Olympus must take part,

When Empires vibrate in the scales of Fate.

Not more illustrious was the hour in which

Enthroned Gods hung o’er the fate of Troy,

And granted to celestial Juno’s hate

A People’s ruin!

Mezentius.

May th’ avengeful Gods

Frown thus on Sparta, and its hoary Tyrant!

But, where’s Cleombrotus? The trumpets sound,

And sound to Arms in vain! Is this the Leader

Who from the fields of Thrace and proud Iberia

Brought us to reap the richer spoils of Sparta?

Where is the Courage that should lead us on

And rouze the tardy valour of the troops?

Corex.

Suspect his courage! That his daring mind

Knows not to fear, his lofty well earned Name

Secures from wavering doubt.—Pierce thou the Wood

171 M6r 171

Where yonder Cypress veils the dazzling moon,

I’ll this way bend my steps to seek the Prince,

For tis within these glades he shuns the camp,

And, in deep Thought, retreats awhile from fame.

Trumpet sounds.

He’ll hear Bellona’s voice! its powerful charm

Will break the spell of gloomy solitude,

And give us back the Warrior and the King!

Exeunt, opposite sides, in the distance. Enter Cleombrotus.

Resistless sounds! ye chace my lethargy,

And rouse the Soldier in my languid heart;

My Soul awakens to the glorious impulse!

But, may the Moon whose beams their silver shed

On those proud towers, as decking them for sacrifice,

Glide cloudless onward through th’ etherial plains,

That, when o’er yonder battlements war raves,

Check’d by her rays, the dreaded arm may spare

All those who Mercy ask! May her chaste light

Protect the Matron and the trembling maid

Inviolate to Safety!—Me it guides

To Chelonice, Daughter to my foe,

Yet my loved Wife!—Dian! avert from her,

And from my beauteous boy, each hovering ill,

Till I, enfolding them within my arms,

May soothe their terrors with the voice of Love!

Enter Mezentius.

Mezentius.

At length then, Prince! I’ve traced thy lingering steps.

Th’ impatient warriors seek thee through the camp;

The meanest Soldier now his ardors boasts,

Whilst thou, whose all on this great hour depends,

Retir’st to Shades, sunk coldly in reflection.

172 M6v 172

Cleombrotus.

Not cool, Mezentius, though alone, and thoughtful,

For oh! my breast with poignant feeling throbs.

The common soldier’s heart expands with joy

For the rude hour of plunder; mine, my warrior,

Contracts with fear—lest that wish’d hour should sink

In undistinguish’d ruin, her I love,

With him who, though her Father, I must hate.

Mezentius.

These are a Lover’s fears—

Cleombrotus.

They are a Husband’s!

Oh! when I ponder, in the Battle’s rage

What various ruin darts from ’neath its banners,

Not to be agonized were not to feel!

Unsparing War, that topples yonder Towers,

May, in blind sway, form Chelonice’s grave!

Mezentius.

Hath she not fled thee? Yes, the Wife, thus loved,

Hath left thy bosom for a tyrant Father’s,

Who seeks thy Life and robs thee of thy Crown!

If Woman I can judge—

Cleombrotus.

Thou can’st not her!

Her’s is no common heart. Melting with Love,

Alive to Nature’s softest impulses,

Tenderest of all her faithful tender sex,

Yet, where her duty bids, she hath a Mind

Firm and unbending as the laws of truth.

Mezentius.

Of late, her wavering conduct gives surmise

Fame erred, thus speaking honour of her name.

173 M7r 173

Cleombrotus.

With highest honour it shall speak, yet err not!

When th’ Ephori bestowed on me the Crown,

Which had been wrested from her tyrant father,

Making me colleague in the throne with Agis,

Quickly thou know’st Leonidas had planned

The fall of both, and thus to reign alone.

Mezentius.

His fruitless efforts caused you but a Triumph!

Cleombrotus.

Dethroned Leonidas for Refuge sought

Minerva’s altar: Chelonice quick

Her Father followed, left a splendid Court,

And all the State that waits on Royalty,

Within the Sanctuary to weep and watch

Around her Sire whom there she found o’erthrown.

Mezentius.

Be Sparta’s daughters thence with reverence named,

And proudly boast amongst the Grecian maids

They breathe the air that nourish’d Chelonice.

But, to your home, oft since, you’ve vainly woo’d her!

Cleombrotus.

Oh yes, and there to greet her would be transport!

But in her Heart, the Filial Principle

As strongly burns; and easier ’twere to woo

The murmuring ring-dove from her unfledged brood

Than her from him who gave the mourner life.

She thinks his Safety guarded by her presence;

Oh, can I blame the cruel charming Duty

Which thus detains her all unwilling from me!

Mezentius.

Fortune! benignant reign throughout this eve,

And in a few hours we’ll see thee King and Husband!

174 M7v 174

Cleombrotus.

Dear, glorious, titles! how my Soul does greet ye!

Mezentius.

The Soldiers, all in arms, but Signal wait!

Cleombrotus.

First, let the Altar’s blaze propitiate Heaven.

Mars and Bellona guide me in the battle!

Draws his Sword.

Precede my chariot, nerve afresh my arm,

And give me energy to rule my fate!

Whilst Victory bends from yonder starry seat,

And waves her flag triumphant to the town,

The generous transport labours in my breast

And conquest beams already on my helm!

Exeunt.

Scene II.

The Palace of Leonidas. Enter Amphares and Nicrates.

Nicrates.

My Amphares! how dread this hour for Sparta!

Amphares.

Of lofty import is indeed the hour.

See how the People throng! Each house pours forth

Its fearful inmates; whilst the eager hum

Of the enquiring multitude, that breaks

Like distant surges on th’ invaded ear,

Mars the strict due of soothing Night’s repose.

Nicrates.

How widely swerves th’ event from foster’d hope!

175 M8r 175

When first Leonidas, with Agis, reigned,

And lost his share of rule by Tyranny,

The Ephori adjudged his vacant seat

To Chelonice’s Lord. Exchanging thus

The Tyrant for his Son, they hoped to bind

The arms of Sparta with the wreathes of Peace.

Amphares.

Weak baseless hope! for hate most fierce and deadly

Gained hold in either breast, and, faction-nursed,

Grew strong, and shook th’ unsettled fabrick down.

—Whence, say, the King and the Princess?

Nicrates.

From the Temple;

Where vows, and tears, and immolated victims,

Still strive to change th’ unfavouring will of heaven.

Amphares.

Stern Fate demands far other immolations!

Cleombrotus leads armies flesh’d and keen,

As hounds insatiate, that fiercely course

The lightning footed stag. Can none save Sparta?

Nicrates.

None but the King! let him invest Cleombrotus

With the disputed sceptre, and the crown

Sparta adjudged him, and he nobly wore.

Your eye speaks surely Amphares a language

Too gay in glances for so dread a moment!

Amphares.

Brother! my spirit was not made for Peace!

The dark hued raven loves not more the tempest

In which he sails, up-borne by warring winds,

Than I the tempest of contending states.

Tis in such Storms superior natures rise,

And seize on stations niggard Fate had grudged them!

176 M8v 176

Nicrates.

Though kindred, uncongenial are our souls!

Hadst thou possessed a mind less turbulent,

Cleombrotus upon a steady throne

Had now been seated, Lacedemon’s hopes,

Sustained and nourished ’neath the rule of peace.

Amphares.

Not so, for though Lycurgus gave the law,

By double tyranny to curb proud Sparta,

A Biarchy, beyond each mode of slavery

Wild Theory e’er formed to rule a People,

Is scheme least fraught with Peace. Tis thus that I,

With Envy leagued, Cleombrotus dethroned;

But with such secret, though commanding, skill,

He deems me yet his Friend!

Nicrates.

Cleombrotus

And Agis reigned together, jointly sway’d

The Spartan sceptre, nor did discord ’twixt them

Disturb our peace whilst annual suns rolled on.

Short time Leonidas has reigned alone,

And all is Anarchy, Distress, and War!

Amphares.

And all shall so remain, till I have worked,

Through all these tempests, for myself a day,

With unextinguishable Lustre bright!

I would unfold my heart yet more—I’m stayed,

The King and beauteous Chelonice come.

Enter Leonidas and Chelonice, with Guards and Attendants.

Leonidas.

Let all the troops be hasten’d to the walls—

177 N1r 177

The Troops!—let every man can wield a Sword,

Let beardless boys, and indolent old age,

Rouse at the call! youth leave its darling sports,

Old age its aches forget, whilst all unite,

His hopes and proud Cleombrotus to crush.

Chelonice.

Ah!

Leonidas.

Sigh’st thou, Chelonice?—can thy Heart,

Say dares it feel then one convulsive pang,

That a rebellious foe shall be opposed

And perish?

Chelonice.

That foe’s Husband to thy Child!

Leonidas.

Too true he is; but, his foe is thy Father!

Speak then; wouldst see me be his slave or Conqueror?

Pause.

Unduteous Silence! which too clearly means

Thou would’st behold me dragg’d from ’neath this dome,

My aged limbs with iron shackles braced,

My time-blanch’d head within a dungeon housed,

Because the man who perpetrates such ills,

Is the loved husband—of my only Child!

Chelonice.

That he’s the husband of thy only child,

My conscious Heart doth feel! But, when that child

Forgets, amidst her griefs, that thou’rt her Father,

When she forsakes thee in the hour of sorrow,

Or owns a Duty to thy Conqueror—

Then may the skies refuse her every prayer,

And Shame alone associate with her name!

Leonidas.

Then daughter, banish from your brow this gloom

Vol. II. N 178 N1v 178

That louring censures whom your Speech yet spares—

Enter Sarpedon.

Thy News!

Sarpedon.

A soldier of the foe is seized.

Impelled by tortures slowly he confessed

Cleombrotus this night triumphant hopes

To fix his Standard o’er thy Palace gates.

His mercenary army, mad for plunder,

All the vengeance which such victors dare,

Urge on our fate. The battering rams approach,

And threat our walls with instant demolition.

Leonidas.

Why then let ruin come!—’tis my Election!

Full twenty years I’ve borne the Spartan Sceptre,

And shall I yield it, tamely, at his bid,

Like a light toy of which possession cloys me?

No, I’ll reign still, and still alone, will reign,

Or give up Life and Sovereignty together.

Sarpedon.

Unhappy Sparta! thus thy fate is fixed.

T’ oppose is vain; we can but watch awhile

The gathering storm whose bursting will o’erwhelm us.

Leonidas.

How Slave! a murmur at my Will! dispute

His word, whose voice annihilates thy race!

What are ye all?—dependents on my Breath!

Of me are held your Lives: if Death I lot

Who’s he averts the doom! ―― My Daughter,

Bear up your mind for this night’s dread event!

For, ere its circling minutes have been told,

Thou’lt through thy Father’s blood ascend his Throne,

179 N2r 179

Or see thy Husband weltering at his feet.

Thy Heart must make a Choice, for one of us

Thy Prayers must mount to Heaven—tell me not which!

Lest my pierced breast thy husband’s probing steel

Should feel more keen, there knowing it was sped

By a loved Daughter’s wishes!

Exit, followed by all but Chelonice and Nicrates.

Nicrates.

Fixed and mute,

She bears to grief a front beyond the port

Of common female minds.—I venture Princess,

To break a silence that has dread expression!

The Tear were better that gave sorrow vent.

Chelonice.

Nicrates, tears! dost think such woes as mine

Can waste in tears? Bid lighter sorrows weep,

Mine shall be cherished in my bursting heart!

Nicrates.

Mysterious skies! Why power and beauty given,

Why all the virtues can adorn a mind,

Yet gift them not with privilege from woe?

Chelonice.

My Soul as firm is as its woes are keen—

Yet how my wishes shape? how shall my heart

Frame prayer aright, when every hope it forms,

Such my distracting fate, must be a crime

Against my father, or against my lord!

Nicrates.

To sooth the torturous conflict in thy mind

Would I had words.

Chelonice.

This is a night for Deeds!

And cannot I, and wherefore not, from both,

N2 180 N2v 180

By some bold act, avert the ills that threat!

In this great exigence Olympus hear,

Inspire your suppliant, send a ray of light

To guide me midst the darkness that surrounds!

Nicrates.

No deed can save that’s prefaced by Delay.

E’en whilst we speak Destruction hastens on,

Within the hour, your husband leaves his camp!

Chelonice.

Heaven speaks through thee! Each female dread away,

Whilst I gain safety for our tottering State!

Nicrates.

Princess, beware some sudden thought of frenzy!

Too dear to Sparta dangers to incur—

Chelonice.

Oh! what are Dangers when such Duties call!

The Spirit of my Ancestors is on me,

A sacred fervour seizes on my soul,

A fire unknown within my bosom glows

And chases female fear!

Nicrates.

How falsely said

The mind heroic but on Man’s bestowed!

Chelonice.

My Father! and my Country! Oh, for these

An Army I would lead t’inspire the troops;

Ascend the breach, and, like him of Macedon,

Leap midst the foe to dare my followers on,

And, whilst death’s whizzing darts sigh’d round my head,

Scorn their vain terrors, and their painless wounds!

Not such risk now.—Should busy Fame e’er trump

181 N3r 181

Her charge of Treason ’gainst me, close thine ear!

—The deed I venture I dare not confide,

Lest let officious bar me of my aim!

Nicrates.

Then chilling Prudence hence! such Ardors seem,

In cause so good, the stirring voice of Fate,

That with inspiring Motives urges on

Its Fiat to atchieve!

Chelonice.

Aid now each guide

Of human actions! Howsoe’er we plan,

Howe’er begun our deeds, th’ Event is your’s!

We name the goal, but, biassed as we run,

Take paths diverging to the end ordained!

Exeunt.
Act 182 N3v 182

Act the Second.

Scene I.

The Tent of Cleombrotus. Cleombrotus, surrounded by Generals, ;c.

Cleombrotus.

Rising.

Perdicas ’gainst the Northern gate lead you

Th’ Iberian troops, and you Menecrates

Support the Thracians at the Eastern gate.

I will myself lead on my loyal Spartans;

Then, if I fall, I fall midst those whose Rights

I shall too cheaply purchase with my Life!

If I am Conqueror, with them to conquer

Will add to victory a sweeter sense

And make my Laurels dearer than my Crown.

Corex.

Live Prince! long flourish, by the Sword, in Sparta!

Cleombrotus.

True Princes flourish but by patriot rule,

Who lives not in the Love of those he governs,

Is not their Monarch, but their missioned Scourge!

Mezentius.

The night wears on, and our intrepid troops

Demand to place thee, ere deep darkness fly,

Firm on the throne thou know’st so well to fill.

183 N4r 183

Cleombrotus.

Instant I’ll join, and lead them to the battle.

Their force superior, and their honest cause,

Must doubly act upon our fear struck foes,

And prompt to spare the horrors of Assault—

Enter Officer.

Well Sir, what tidings of the foe?

Officer.

A Priestess,

Hallowed beneath the sacred vest she passed

Nor friend nor foe presumed to know her errand,

Asks audience Prince, and now with hasty step

Eager she seeks thy Presence.

Cleombrotus.

Priestess say’st thou?

Of highest import must the errand be

That asks a messenger so pure and holy;

My friends, her Office claims that you retire,

He, now, who bids you go, shall soon bid follow!

Nor give you stay, till his glad voice shall hail you

Victors in Sparta.―― Bid the Stranger in.

Exeunt all but Cleombrotus. Enter The Priestess veil’d.

Thus, holy maid, respectful, yet surprised,

I greet your presence. Say, what great behest

At this hour brought thee from thy hallowed couch

To seek, amidst the hurry of a Camp,

A care-worn Soldier?

Priestess.

Couch, Cleombrotus?

Dost thou then think within the mournful walls

184 N4v 184

These feet have left, that one unfeeling wretch

Can seek a couch, or venture on repose?

Restore our banished rest! let soothing sleep

Again revisit our long watchful lids;

It is for this I seek thee in thy camp,

For anxious Sparta Respite to obtain

At least a day, that Conference may have room

T’ arrange all deadly strife and mutual claims.

Kneels.

Cleombrotus.

But that I dared not touch thy sacred form

Thou should’st not humbly thus to me have bent!

She rises.

But, for thy Errand to our martial plain,

’T were well the Fire that burns within your Temple

Yet felt your feeding hand.—Your Altars, virgin,

They are the places whence your Prayers should rise,

Thence, mixed with incense, they might reach Olympus,

But here, they fall on earthly ear obtuse,

Uncustomed to their sway.

Priestess.

Canst thou, who own’st

A Sovereign’s guardian feelings, think a moment

On the dread horrors of the waning night,

And yet resolve to guide the mischiefs on?

Cleombrotus.

Bid him who governs save!—Leonidas

How wretched is this art! Yield me my Crown!

Nor thus descend to seek, by woman’s tears,

Th’ appointed hour of vengeance to delay.

Priestess.

By the bright flame that burns to chaste Minerva

Leonidas ne’er stoops to supplicate!

Knows not the step that I unprompted take.

185 N5r 185

Cleombrotus.

’Tis well; his firmness shall be firmly met!

Return then, Priestess, let your king prepare

His roughest welcome for unbidden guests;

His roughest welcome all have sworn to merit!

Priestess.

Oh! for seductive wiles to perjure them!

’T were crime most holy!—Say, Cleombrotus,

Exists not one—say Stubborn! ask thy Heart,

Is there not one could move thee?—Chelonice!

Cleombrotus.

Oh, name her not, her image doth unman me!

Her form, her supplicating look—resist her!

Oh. she could drag me from the path of Glory,

And make me turn with Victory at my sword!

Priestess.

That form is blest!—it henceforth is immortal

It saves my Country! View, Cleombrotus,

Throws up her Veil.

See her before thee, even at thy feet.

Kneels.

Cleombrotus.

Gods! wherefore this? must I upbraid, or thank ye?

Oh, thank ye ever—safe is Chelonice!

Raising her.

Now rage, rage freely, furies of the War!

Bear fiercest vengeance to the Tyrant’s gates,

Devoid of every Fear attack, for now

My Chelonice breathes not in his walls!

Hear the impatient Soldiery! Lead on!

I’ll follow with an arrow’s swiftness—spare

One Moment spare me!—Hector thus did linger

In parley with Andromache, till caught

The Spirit fit for Victory, then darted

Amidst his foes, inspired by thought of her,

186 N5v 186

And wreak’d his vengeance through th’ ensanguined field!

Chelonice.

Darest thou deceive! this Chelonice’s power!

Goes to the Side.

Stay your rash speed! your Prince commands ye stay,

Stir not till he shall lead you to your spoil!

Cleombrotus.

My Chelonice, sink not from thyself!

Or that high Fate with which the moment teems!

My Crown this night, from Usurpation wrested,

Will grace thy brow!

Chelonice.

Will decorate my Bier!

The crown of which Leonidas is robbed

Encircles ne’er this brow. But go, lead on!

My anxious ear shall catch the cry of Victory,

The Signal of my Death!

Cleombrotus.

Though Woman’s voice

Oft makes the Heart a rebel to the Will—

Chelonice.

Not a mere woman’s—but a Spartan’s threat!

The hour in which Leonidas you vanquish,

Shall view the Pile in flame around his Child!

Cleombrotus.

New ties should abrogate a Father’s right,

Your Duty you mistake.

Chelonice.

Mistake it! how?

My Husband asking respite for my Father!

Is this Mistake of duty?—if it be,

I’ll ever so mistake, and boast my error!

187 N6r 187

Yes, till Leonidas sits throned in safety,

His Daughter shall forget she is a Wife,

Suppress each new traced fondness in her heart,

And own no ties, but those first awful ones

By Nature stampt!

Cleombrotus.

Cleombrotus’s Wife,

Thy Honour and thy Fame’s derived from him,

Thy Happiness from that same source should flow.

How dear those hours, ah! wherefore passed away?

When thou hadst not an object but my Love.

Chelonice.

Hadst thou, content with Love—

Cleombrotus.

I’m born to reign!

And he so born knows fires the gentler mind

Could not endure. Let every Subject feel,

Let them be taught, that in the humble Shade,

Far from the glare of proud Ambition’s path,

Felicity hath raised her rustic seat;

Sound rule for them.—Felicity to us,

Is not a nymph in humble russet clad,

Sweet flowrets weaving on a streamlet’s bank—

Oh, no! she’s scepter’d! and her gifts are Crowns!

Chelonice.

A Soul I have to prize her gifts like thine.

A mind I have that craves sublimer cares

Than Subjects e’er can know. I would be great,

And bear the cares of thousands.—But ambition,

And every lofty sentiment it gives,

Are airy nothing, to his life opposed

From whom I drew my own.

Cleombrotus.

Were I disposed

To grant thee all, and sink from high estate,

188 N6v 188

Yet am I bound my Troops to lead this night.

It is not Glory, nor the hope of Fame

The Mercenary feels—his god is Plunder!

Should I protract their promised hour of harvest,

Disgust and mutiny would fill their ranks—

I cannot—dare not—yield to thee!

Chelonice.

Farewell!

I’ll be the Herald of thy near approach.

The child shall bid her father bare his breast

To her Lord’s sword; shall bid the citizens

Throw wide their portals to admit these plunderers!

Then, whilst our Spartans are o’ercome by Numbers,

And from a Parricide receive their chains,

Amidst her last deep sighs shall Chelonice,

Mixed with the shouts of victory, proclaim

Her murderous husband Lacedemon’s King!

Going.

Cleombrotus.

Her Spartan Firmness nothing can make shrink!

The last sad sighs of ―― Ah! my Chelonice

Follows, agitated, and leads her back.

Sweet cruel Tyrant, who is Victor now?—

Until to-morrow, respite I accord!

—Nature! in mockery thou gav’st us Mast’ry!

Th’ historic rolls, recording all the acts

That stand the loftiest in an empire’s fate,

Report but Woman’s will!

Chelonice.

Ah! dost thou yield!

How my Soul thanks thee peaceful hours shall tell!

Now, on joy’s swiftest pinions let me bear

The grateful tidings to the gates of Sparta.

—May filial Duty ever thus be crowned

With Joy as pure as Chelonice feels!

Exit, led by Cleombrotus. 189 N7r 189 Mezentius and Corex enter instantly on the opposite side.

Mezentius.

The Conference thou heard’st! Where now the hopes,

The high raised hopes, that brought us here from Thrace?

Corex.

They can exist no more. She who could win

To spare her Lacedemon for an hour,

Now, when the Soldiery for the Battle pant

And every breast is warm with martial glow,

Will next, like Omphale, her Hercules

Bid story in the Loom a bloodless siege!

Mezentius.

And us disband! our steeds unrein’d and driven,

In envied freedom, to the neighbouring plains!

No, Thrace boasts Warriors of more stubborn nerve,

Who know no more to yield to Woman’s will

Than Man’s defiance. Well dost thou remember

When, through the numerous lets that gave delay,

In a dread moment when no thought of aid,

Of human aid, had glanced across his soul,

Down yonder Mountain’s haughty swell there rushed

Our numerous sons of war; at the blest sight,

What transport seized this Leader and his troops!

And is it but to truckle for a Peace,

That he enticed us from our native fields?

Forgot his tempting Promise of reward

Their herds their Jewels and their treasured wealth!

Corex.

The wages of our labour are at hand,

The herds the jewels and the treasured wealth,

Our Troops obedient; why then not assault

190 N7v 190

The city we were summoned to reduce,

And, for ourselves, the promised booty seize?

Mezentius.

Our Country’s Genius, Corex, speaks in thee!

Astrea’s Balance useless were with us,

Her Sword is all we ask! He who bears that,

Carves Justice for himself. Let us then now

Away at once to where the timorous deer

In their enclosures herded wait their fate!

Corex.

Let caution guide; Cleombrotus may yet,

Supported by th’ Iberians, defeat

The glorious perfidy we meditate!

Revolt seems ripe: see how resentment burns

Looking out at the side.

Amongst the troops, as he his Order gives

To spare Leonidas, for this one night,

The pain to be unking’d!

Mezentius.

Let us assist!

The struggling flame with secret breath we’ll fan,

And thus, this Woman’s Soldier shall be taught,

The great events that turn each empire’s fate,

And stand examples to instruct the World,

Are not mere coin of female artifice,

But struck by Genius from a bolder die!

Exeunt.
191 N8r 191

Scene II.

The Palace. Enter Leonidas and Amphares.

Leonidas.

Forsaken by my child!—If not, the hour

Were wanting still in congregated woes!

Doth th’ enemy advance?—My Daughter leave me!—

Left for a Rebel!—ah! the foe’s too tardy.

Destruction! slow to those who court thee, haste

Thy pace to me!

Amphares.

Destruction quickens on!

The Princess flown, and longing for thy Crown,

To conquest traiterous her husband goads!

Leonidas.

I do not curse her—mark me—I abstain!

Leonidas and Cruelty are sounds

Combining freely in the mind of Greece;

Am I now cruel? These late turbid veins,

In which such raging fires have coursed each other,

Have now no pulse for cruelty.—Yet, should I,

The thought arouses all my latent rage—

Should I, whilst yet I live, encounter them,

Gods! grant me such a moment, that my life,

In that last act, may end more satiate

Than e’er it was by vengeance or by crowns!

Nicrates.

Without.

Where is the King?

Enters

Leonidas.

Here’s he, who in an hour

May be a King no more!

192 N8v 192

Nicrates.

Not so Leonidas!

Thine enemies, whose late deserted Camp

Sent forth its eager troops upon the Plain,

Are housed again within the tented field,

No Standard seen, Their Spears’ bright beams eclipsed.

Leonidas.

Haste, prithee! whence is’t known?

Nicrates.

As the Moon glides,

Giving each object perfect and distinct,

Crouds on the ramparts bless the favouring light

That shows their foes retiring and unarmed!

Amphares.

Tis but some subterfuge! the subtile Princess

The fraud hath framed with her ambitious Lord,

To lull thy mind in false security!

Leonidas.

Well hast thou spoke the feint I had conceived.

But! who shall speak the Father’s mad despair!

Nicrates.

Oh Sir, abstain! the Virtues of your Daughter—

Leonidas.

Mention her not! henceforth to name the Rebel,

But with the title Parricide is Fate

To him who speaks. Your several stations gain.

The troops, too credulous, remit their fervour,

But I’ll restore and fix it in their hearts

To live yet Sovereign but an added day!

Exit.

Nicrates.

Stay, my prompt brother! Of Grace a moment grant

From duty so imposed. Your’s is the storm,

Now raging in his heart against his child!

193 O1r 193

Amphares.

I know I raised the storm, and there will urge it.

Nicrates.

Ah! to what end? she’ll scarce life escape,

So fierce and rageful is her father’s anger!

Amphares.

Not to that air of menace I reveal,

But to thy love fraternal which insures

Guard from exposure if no needful help.

Nicrates.

From the same Father we descent acquire,

On one maternal neck delighted hung;

Yet not such ties—the Father whom we loved,

Nor the chaste Mother round whose neck we clung,

Shall bribe me to forget superior Duties,

Or aid thee in a cause disclaimed by virtue.

Amphares.

Warm from the Schools, you’re still full glib in phrase,

In empty declamation prompt.

Nicrates.

Not so.

For still simplicity, in Spartan schools,

Disclaims, proscribes, misleading Eloquence.

You, bred in Athens, taught each mental skill,

’Tis you who boast the gloss of Rhetoric,

That makes a shadow seem substantial good

As lurking guile ’neath flowery periods glides.

—Yet wherefore, ’gainst her Sex’s paragon,

You still persist t’ inflame the King, impart!

Amphares.

A Paragon I thought her! and her Birth,

That made her Dower a Kingdom, fix’d me her’s.

Vol. II. O 194 O1v 194

Our line, a scion from that root whence sprung

Leonidas, well warranted my hope.

In Athens ’twas I learned Cleombrotus,

Become her husband, was co-equal King.

Had I been here, his sceptre on that day

Were stained with blood ere closed the solemn rite.

Nicrates.

But now—

Amphares.

But now, my hate’s in unslack’d vigour,

Their Ruin I have sworn!

Nicrates.

Their ruin say’st thou!

Amphares.

Interrogative brother, yes!—his Death!

Were he no more, then Lacedemon’s free,

And who could stand ’twixt me and Royalty

But a weak Boy?—whose tender bud of life,

Fatality or accident may nip.—

With eye so firmly fixed, and moody look,

Dost vainly ponder counteracting spells?

Nicrates.

Nor spells nor prayers, for they alike were vain,

Nor shall I reason ’gainst thy villain hope,

Nor bid thee dread the vengeance from above;

For, on a mind the Furies thus possess,

Virtue and Reason urge their claims in vain.

But, whilst thou spread’st thy toils and lurking snares,

And brav’st the Skies—my vigilance still dread!

Exit.

Amphares.

Intrusive Insolence, impede me not!

Nor intercept one race for a Crown

195 O2r 195

And dares his hopes to fix on Sparta’s Princess!

Thy moderate strength, as well might hope, good Brother,

A solid Pyramid’s firm base to stir,

As me to move from purposes so grand.

Thou prat’st of Virtue! I behold a Throne!

Me thou bidst fear—all hope for Chelonice!

Exit.
O2 Act 196 O2v 196

Act the Third.

Scene I.

The Tribunal. The People assembled. Enter Leonidas, Amphares, Sarpedon and others.

Leonidas.

Yes, the morn’s Sun beholds me yet a King,

Cleombrotus is yet beyond our walls!

For this, let Altars blaze with sacrifice,

And hallowed victims yield the sanguine stream.

Amphares.

In vain shall hallowed victims yield their lives,

Or blood of hecatombs bedew our altars,

If Treason, deep veil’d, silently spreads snares!

Leonidas.

Her mask shall be removed, her snares exposed.

Here, in this awful seat, where great Lycurgus

Woo’d Justice from her high Olympian court,

And bade her rule unswayed by partial tie,

Here shall Leonidas his glory emulate

And rise e’en o’er the pleaded claims of Nature!

—Say, deep in Sorrow was the Princess found?

Sarpedon.

Not sunk in tears, but in more haughty grief,

Denied to vindicate her secret visit,

Her virgins tell she passed the sleepless night.

197 O3r 197

Amphares.

Great Sir!—You’re on your guard!

Leonidas.

Her vaunted Duty

To test most dread I’ll bring! If that she shun,

Hence tears and feigned Submission! Not my Child,

Unfilial Traitress will she stand before me,

And lose her Father in th’ offended Prince.

He seats himself.

Amphares.

See, she advances in her wonted grandeur!

Yet, as composed and calm as if prepared,

Not gracious pardon to beseech, but grant!

Enter Chelonice, attended by Nicrates, Guards, ; c.

Leonidas.

Ill Daughter suits it with such deeds as your’s

T’ approach with looks, thus unabashed, before us!

Repentant tears, and cheeks tinged deep with shame,

Would best become your traitorous frauds and guiles.

Chelonice.

Ah! may my cheeks indeed be tinged with shame,

And tears repentant, all unheeded, flow,

When traitorous disobedience brands the life

Of wretched Chelonice!—Oh, my father!

Whence are these Charges?

Leonidas.

From the mouth of Sparta!

Who stiles those traitors that desert to foes.

Princess of Sparta thus art thou accused!

Chelonice.

If merited the charge, the death she dooms

198 O3v 198

To traitors fall on me! Not Daughter now,

Mere Subject, and arraign’d, I bow before thee,

Not to a Father pleading, but, a Judge!

Leonidas.

’Tis Lacedemon calls thee to th’ ordeal.

Chelonice.

Nay, ’tis all Greece will turn its eyes towards thee,

And, as thou act’st at this important hour,

Will load thy name with honour, or dispraise.

Beware of Weakness then! with Rigour try me!

And, if the crime imputed shall be proved,

Then, Agamemnon like, devote thy child

A victim due to your immortal Fame!

The World demands such lessons; and ne’er fear

Leonidas’s child will meanly shrink,

Or e’er disgrace thee in the part assigned her.

Leonidas.

Such Firmness should by Innocence be sanctioned!

—Last night, disguised, you passed our centinels

And bent your steps where your rebellious Lord

Plots Lacedemon’s fall. Your Motive now,

To this mysterious visit, we demand!

Chelonice.

Behold it in your undemolish’d walls!

Behold it Sparta in your station’d domes,

Which yet untoppled to the skies aspire;

See it ye Mothers in the tender babes,

Reposing safely in your matron arms;

And you ye Husbands,

Addressing all assembled.

in whose sheltering homes

Your wives yet breathe inviolate and pure.

—These the high motives of my secret visit!

Leonidas.

What! Sparta’s welfare, and her Matrons’ honour,

199 O4r 199

Hang on a thread so slight! Our brazen Gates

Escape their fall but at a Woman’s bid!

Chelonice.

Forgive the seeming boast, yet had not I,

Last night with lonely and adventurous steps,

Stole secret to my Husband’s camp to win him

To change the purpose of the hour, and wrest

A day for Parley ere the die was cast,

This roof, beneath whose dome I stand accused!

Had now resounded with the shrieks of Death.

Leonidas.

If this thy purpose, and if such th’ event,

Then Daughter, Lacedemon owes to thee

That she enjoys an added day of Safety,

Short torturous respite from impending Woe!—

Draws her aside.

Were’t in thy power her safety to prolong—

Oh! would’st thou, for an end so sanctified,

Boldly resolve to be a Spartan Daughter,

And tear unworthy Weakness from thy heart?

Chelonice.

What can exist that I would not resign,

To save my Country, and affirm thy reign!

Leonidas.

Oh moment glorious! ’twill be Fame immortal!

The name of Chelonice shall be heard

Wherever female acts of worth and daring

Rescue the sex, and equal them with Man.

—Thy Country’s Enemy! ceased he t’ exist,

Thrace and Iberia would withdraw their troops

And Sparta rest from deadly Civil War!

In Sparta, every Virtue’s made to yield

To that is held the welfare of the State.—

Invite him from the Camp! propose this night

200 O4v 200

To meet him in the Grove, he shall be met

By those less tender than my Chelonice!

Chelonice.

Horror!

Leonidas.

Dost shrink? Is this thy Patriot boast!

Chelonice.

It was my Father! ’twas my Father spoke!

I have no Answer!

Leonidas.

Rebel! answer’s made;

This Test assures that all is false pretence

With which thou’st gloss’d thy visit to the Traitor—

Thyself a traitor leagued with Sparta’s foe!

Chelonice.

Inspire me Heaven, with firmness to submit!

Leonidas.

Submission now is all the Duty left thee,

And thou shalt learn to practise it in chains.

Bear her to Prison, as a Rebel guard her,

And with the Mother let the Son be captive.

Chelonice.

Ah! mercy yet! amidst the Judge’s firmness,

The Parent’s love steps in to bar despair;

I yield me to my chains!

Officers enter and put them on her wrists.

Amphares.

In Conflict now

Are filial duty and connubial love,

Opposing Principles—and one must yield!

Forgive! if, trembling, filial duty fail,

And give the dubious triumph to a husband.

201 O5r 201

Chelonice.

Who told thee that those Principles oppose?

That one must yield? Has Nature then, improvident,

So narrow formed the Heart, that only one

Of all the various Duties she commands,

Can there have rule? Misjudging Reasoner know,

The duties of the Wife and Child may each,

Without opposing, sway the heart.—In mine

They both, co-equally, exist!

Nicrates.

Oh, spare her!

Sarpedon.

Hear us Leonidas!

The People.

Ah! spare thy child!

Nicrates.

Judge, Sir, in Mercy! See, th’ astonished People,

With supplicating looks, before thee bend,

Shall they implore in vain? They ask a Sire

To judge in Mercy when he fates his Child,

Oh, hear their Prayers! Their voice is that of Sparta!

Chelonice.

Plead for a Rebel! Pity were misplaced!

Addressing herself around.

Should I be spared, the gate to Treason’s open;

For, could the Prince dare punish in another,

The crime his child is convict of and spared?

Lead to my Prison.—Murmur not! be proud

That in your Sovereign you have found a Hero!

Will punish those, most precious to his heart,

When crimes, ’gainst Sparta’s weal, his sentence ask!

Lead forth.

Exit, with Guards
202 O5v 202

Amphares.

See! self-arraign’d, the Princess goes,

Acknowledging the justice that condemns!

Leonidas.

Were I, a Sovereign, weakly to refuse

A Sacrifice that Patriot Love demands,

Of Crown bereft, myself would merit chains!

List this way Amphares!— Cleombrotus

Leads Amphares aside.

Would come as General, with a train too costly

For frugal Sparta’s charge.—Is there no way,

To gain an interview where watch no Guards!

By heaven the man who should perform such Service,

I’d rank for ever next my Crown and Life.

Amphares.

Swift execution instant should attend

The Will of Princes soon as ’tis revealed.

Methinks there might be found a man in Sparta,

Who, bribed thus highly, would despise all risk,

And deem all glorious, that his Country saves!

Leonidas.

If such a man there be—thou know’st the rest!

Time presses hard, my friend, and Fate allows

But a few hours for acts, whose fame shall live

Through Ages yet unborn.—I’ll leave thee now—

For Sparta’s welfare be thy mission sped!

Exeunt, all but Amphares.

Amphares.

For Sparta’s welfare! Dost think me to cozen?

’Tis mere Ambition that assumes the port.

—The furtive mission to the Camp is well!

Cleombrotus, thy fall my hope subserves,

And, whilst I seem but to obey, I rule!

Exit.
203 O6r 203

Scene II.

The tent of Cleombrotus. Enter Cleombrotus followed by Mezentius.

Cleombrotus.

Mark me! the man who stirs towards the town,

With hostile views, shall find his death, not there

But from my arm. Your mad’ning Thracians seem

Like midnight Wolves that scent the air for prey,

Rather than Soldiers, bravely me to right

An injured King.

Mezentius.

So think them!— Midnight wolves

Will not without their scented prey retire;

Resolve then to dismiss, or lead us on!

Cleombrotus.

I can do neither. I am bound by Oath,

The oath e’en he reveres who rules Olympus,

Not to begin till springs to-morrow’s sun.

Mezentius.

Who forced thee to the oath?

Cleombrotus.

Oh thee to tell,

Obdurate Thracian! were to utter words,

Whose stranger-sounds whilst striking on thy ear

Whould fail to fix an image in thy mind.

What dost thou know of all th’ enchanting sway

That love connubial owns? Why talk to thee

Of the sweet edicts spoke by rosy lip

Of chaste, yet tender, beauty? Ears like thine

204 O6v 204

Would find no music in the tale, nor own

E’en ruin pleasing, so to be undone!

Mezentius.

Undone indeed, and—

Cleombrotus.

Nay, not so! My word

Binds but few hours; ere heaven’s lofty arch

Shall in its present height receive again

Yon radiant Orb, by arms, or peaceful terms,

I shall be Sparta’s Sovereign!

Mezentius.

Coward Peace

Was not the prospect thou held’st forth, to draw

Us from our homes!

Cleombrotus.

Then, War and Victory

Seemed the sole road to lead me to my throne.

But, should Leonidas propose those terms

On which I must consent the siege to raise,

Then due reward shall gratify the troops

Without the deadly labour that they crave.

Goes to the back of the tent, looking anxiously out.

Mezentius.

Aside.

Our troops will not accept a Largess, Prince,

Where they can seize a Right! And on thyself

Rest all the mischief of thy broken faith!

Cleombrotus.

Behold the messenger of Peace approach!

What humbler cause could Amphares bring hither?

Mezentius.

You wish the Conference private. May th’ event

Be happier Prince than that of yesterday,

When, by a soother, you were guiled of Victory,

205 O7r 205

Shame! with the Laurel just within your grasp.

Exit.

Cleombrotus.

Unfurl your Banners, and let breathe the trumpets!

Receive the Spartan Lord with that salute

You give your Generals, and conduct him on.

Enter Amphares.

When last, my Amphares, we met ’twas not

A Camp that witnessed our embrace.

Amphares.

Oh, no!

We met thou know’st beneath a festive dome;

Where echoes trilled with music’s sweetest sounds,

And sparkling beauty lent its powerful spells

To cheer the hour and every joy refine!

Cleombrotus.

Such hours yet wait us, ’neath the reign of Peace.

Leonidas, I trust, hath now resolved,

To spare the slaughter in devoted Sparta,

And drain of blood in dread pursuit of crime.

Amphares.

He counsels secret, Prince! nor do I know

Whether the Tyrant doth your sword await,

Or means to yield thy Crown without compulsion.

Cleombrotus.

Art thou not come th’ Ambassador of Peace!

Amphares.

Oh, no!

Cleombrotus.

Ill founded hope!

Amphares.

Had’st thou such hopes?

206 O7v 206

Cleombrotus.

Or know this hour were, Amphares, not his,

To waste in insolent deliberation.

But, if not Peace, what cause—

Amphares.

I know thy Question.

Though on no public errand I approach,

Yet will you think the cause of not less pith

Than were an Empire holden of my breath,

Aye, e’en an Empire’s fate! for what were that

Compared with those dear interests of the Heart,

Which, though perchance less splendid, still have sway

Beyond the interests of haughtier name.

Cleombrotus.

Then thou ’rt Ambassador from Chelonice,

What says my most beloved? what pleasing message

Breathed her sweet lips, for him whose Fate she rules?

Amphares.

No message bear I, Prince! for, unsolicited,

Have I come forth, perchance return unthanked!

Cleombrotus.

Forbid it Courtesy!—What urged the visit?

Amphares.

Say rather, what urged thee to sleep last night

Within thy Camp, whilst every Spartan eye

Kept wakeful to salute thee once more King?

Cleombrotus.

What, but the powerful influence thou hast named,

’Twas Chelonice!

Amphares.

This contrived she too?

And snatch’d thy Sceptre from thee!

207 O8r 207

Cleombrotus.

Wherefore, say,

This sudden flashing of thy eye? this scorn?

Her filial tortured heart asked yet a day

For Sparta and her Sire.

Amphares.

For Sparta, and—

But I repress the name! Say, dares your eye

Witness for whom she knelt?

Cleombrotus.

For whom sayst thou!

Amphares.

Why should I speak? such tales meet surly welcome.

Hard ’tis t’ excite Belief, of what to yield to

Is to endure the keenest Agonies

Fate hath prepared for man!

Cleombrotus.

List Amphares!

I see thou’rt come to raise Suspicion here

Where yet Suspicion never knew to live,

At least to live when pointed at my Wife!

Amphares.

This is the wonder-working magic philtre

Bestowed by Hymen in the bridal cup;

Which taken, makes man what his Wife may please,

Credulous, doating, disbelieving, blind!

Cleombrotus.

Were I of that quick temperament that flames

And blazes at a touch, thou’st said enough,

To raise a fire unquenchable, in which,

Thou, its first victim, should’st be sacrificed!

Yet, though my Passions even level seek,

They’ll mount, when stirred, as doth the boisterous ocean

That all that dares it in its rage o’erthrows—

209 O8v 208

Beware!

Amphares.

I’m caution’d from Regard, not Fear.

Cleombrotus.

I’m from Suspicion free, as you from Fear!

Since Chelonice at the Altar vowed

The duties of connubial love to me,

Her Heart I’ve studied, watch’d each turn of Temper,

And ne’er had there Caprice a moment’s sway.

Her Virtues, though blent all with female softness,

Are of the lofty, grand, and stubborn cast,

And, in firm league, upon temptation smile.

Amphares.

All then is well.

Cleombrotus.

Not so. For though no Doubts,

That might dishonour her, can reach my heart,

To justify her Fame, I must all know

That malice dares suggest.

Amphares.

If to the Grove,

Whose shades impervious bound the Palace gardens,

You’ll bend your evening steps, you’ll there behold—

Whom I forbear to name! These ears imbibed

The whisper’d assignation, as, unseen,

I loitered near. The impulse of the Moment

Bade me convey discovery so dread.

Cleombrotus.

Though, Amphares, Distrust assail me not—

Who was the Villain? tell me that—his Name!

impetuously.

Amphares.

You’ll know.

Cleombrotus.

No trifling! ’Twere more safe t’obstruct

209 P1r 209

The deadly Tyger’s path than thus delay

My course from wild surmises to the Truth!

Amphares.

Thou know’st Cephisus, on whose downy cheek

The half-blown blossom spreads its doubful red,

Whose tuneful voice seems softest note of Love,

And whose light form bespeaks a Sylvan God—

Him wilt thou find.

Cleombrotus.

Now Amphares enough!

Untouched am I by Doubt; but, I will prove,

For Chelonice’s sake, I’ll prove this night ――

Farewell! escort this stranger to the walls!

Amphares.

Evening’s first shade is the appointed time,

This, and the watch-word Ceres, lets you pass.

Gives a Jewel, Exit.

Cleombrotus.

The air’s too close.—Now, I can breathe again!

Could this be Jealousy! Suspicion? What

Of Chelonice?—Oh beloved! much sooner

Could I suspect ―― But he the whisper heard!

Whisper—who whisper’d? not my Chelonice!

I’ll, fearless, hie me to the threaten’d Grove,

Whose venerable Dyrads’ hope were vain

Her graceful steps amidst their haunts to view!

Exit.
Vol. II. P 210 P1v 210

Act the Fourth.

Scene I.

The Palace. Enter Amphares hastily, followed by Nicrates.

Amphares.

Suspicious Brother!

Nicrates.

True, I am suspicious.

Your private visit to Cleombrotus,

Who, you admit, is but your hate and envy,

Th’ impatient steps with which you seek the King,

The fiery thoughtfulness within your eye,

Which ever indicates some fostered evil,

Give my suspicions birth.—Thus your eye rolled

Whilst planning ruin for the generous Agis,

And such the brow you wore, this early day,

When, by your arts seduced, the wretched King,

Instead of Blessings, gave his Daughter chains.

Amphares.

If thou believ’st that I have power and will

To crush to earth the beings that offend,

Why so licentious in reproof? If Agis,

Throned as he was within his People’s hearts

Is from their bosoms dragged; if Chelonice,

Beloved to dotage by her tyrant Sire,

Seeks, at my bidding, patience in a prison,

211 P2r 211

What Fate threats thee? Why dare the sway that rules

The fate of Agis, and of Chelonice?

Nicrates.

Thy threat appals me not! thy fatal sway

May reach my Heart, but shall not taint my Virtue!

I’ve not been tamed to fear to give reproof

For evil deeds, though acted by a Brother!

And shouldst thou dare to screen thy guilty brow,

Within the awful circle of a Crown,

Reproof shall then but glow with added strength,

And what the Brother scorns, shall reach the King!

Amphares.

Accept my caution, and beware! In Words

Thou speak’st rude brother, Monarchs speak in Deeds!

Enter Leonidas.

Leonidas.

Thy rapid steps were winged to my desires,

So short the time they, Amphares, consumed.

Secrets of state require this hour for privacy!

Exit Nicrates.

When Expectation pants, detail of Question

Is all too cold to suit its ardors. Speak,

Speak Amphares, and ease impatient thought!

Amphares.

Should all your Hopes but meet with the success

That crowned my task, Leonidas would rank

Most fortunate of Kings!

Leonidas.

The Victim’s snared?

Amphares.

Not snared; but rushing eager to the toils.

P2 212 P2v 212

Leonidas.

And are they toils from which he may escape!

Amphares.

Yes, when the Dove escapes the Eagle’s strike

Who cowers above her, watching from the clouds.

Leonidas.

What can reward thee? Amphares explain,

Unfold the Guile that triumphed o’er his mind.

Amphares.

Thou know’st Cleombrotus, though bold as Soldier,

Bears all the Lover’s weakness in his heart,

Doating t’ excess on beauteous Chelonice.

Excess of Love—how easy to make jealous!

I talked of Rival, named the fatal Grove,

As guilty spot where lawless Cupids reign.

Leonidas.

eagerly.

He will be there?

Amphares.

Yes, with night’s earliest shades.

Leonidas.

And thou wilt meet him there?

Amphares.

Is’t your command!

Leonidas.

’Tis my most fervent wish, my ardent hope!

Are these not strong enough to urge thy arm?

Then think of thy reward—’tis Chelonice!

Her widow’d heart shall know no Lord but thee,

Son of my choice, and partner of my throne!

Amphares.

Hear Jove!—th’ avenger of each broken vow!

Whilst thus by Sparta’s guardian god I swear,

213 P3r 213

Not to behold thee, till this loyal arm

Hath sent from earth the man whom thou dost dread.

Leonidas.

Ah! would the coming torturous hours were passed,

Whose tardy course delays our Sparta’s Safety!

Amphares.

Not hours, but Minutes interpose their pause;

Eve’s shades already mantle all the sky.

Leonidas.

A new anxiety each moment brings!

Be firm, succed—thy boon is Chelonice!

Exeunt.

Scene II.

The Prison. Chelonice enters at a distance, And advances to her son, who is asleep on a Pallet.

Chelonice.

Whilst forth her hidden throne the soothing Night,

Coeval Power to whom all Nature yields

Well pleased obedience, rules the drowsy world,

Still o’er this Infant’s brow extend thy veil

Sweet Sleep! ’Neath thy reign blest, nor Prison walls,

Nor chains, nor parent’s cruelty, have power

T’ inflict a pang. Oh! ’tis reflecting Thought,

And a sense full waken’d in the mad’ning soul,

That misery acts on to intense Perception.

The blow how impotent that wounds not Mind!

—Celestial Power! shall future time e’er know,

From senseless Nothing why we’re called to Life,

And gifted thus with nerve to agonize?

Bends over her Child.

Excluded now from deeds that pass without,

I fancy converse with thy future life,

214 P3v 214

Thy sovereign Passions, each the other urge

And restlessly oppose, in Thought survey.

—What are these chains that bind the shackled arms,

Compared with Passions that enthral the Mind!

Our Sects of Sophists urge—the mind is free!

Yet, mourns it not, rejoices, or despairs,

By Reason free’d not, as our Passions list,

Slaved Reason acting but t’enforce their will?

—Our Passions Masters! Reason aids, not curbs!

Whence the controul, who regulates the Heart,

And gives for masters Passions that will bless?

Whence, for my Child, shall I beseech the boon

The Vices of our hundred Gods deny?

Will coming Time e’er give the Light we want,

And clear from mystery whence the World is ruled!

—My sweet one wakes! How now, my lovely Boy,

Art thou refresh’d? thy slumber hath been long!

Child.

Would it were longer! for, I’ve had such dreams,

Such pretty dreams! I am grieved to wake.

I thought, dear mother! that this gloomy place

Became a Palace, and these wicked chains,

That make me weep to look at them, dropt off—

Oh let me tear them off—

Attemps.

Were I a Man

How proud I’d be of Strengh—to free my Mother!

Chelonice.

Regard them not, my Love! This chain of Steel

That loads thy mother’s arm, a heart doth neighbour

More peaceful far than that within the breast

On which, hereafter, you perchance may see

The golden chains of showy Grandeur ranged.

Nicrates.

Without.

Oppose me not; admittance I must have—

I to the King will answer it.

Chelonice.

Who’s this

215 P4r 215

That spurns at all restraint, and visit makes

To the sad inmates of a dungeon’s gloom?

Nicrates.

Entering.

Oh Princess!

Chelonice.

It’s Nicrates? Generous youth,

Ah! why risk you offence, to largess Pity

Where Pity’s tenderest looks must glance in vain?

Nicrates.

’Twas not with Pity to intrude I came,

Though thus to see you, royal, virtuous, lady,

Will force a sigh that cannot be restrained!

I came for cousel, and, to rend your ear

With things so dreadful, that will demand

All the high Firmness of your lofty mind

To bear with Fortitude!

Chelonice.

Awhile abstain!

Delay the shock ―― oh yet breathe not a sound ――

Excuse that Woman, for a moment, fears!

—But now, I’m firm! Speak, freely, harshest truth,

Whilst I for steady fortitude breathe prayer.

Nicrates.

Oh that in gentle terms, and due gradation,

The torturing tale I might unfold! But time

Too closely presses, for, this very hour,

Unless some tutelary God shall speed

And aid thee now with sudden inspiration

To save thy Husband ―― look not wildly thus!

Your apprehensive mind—

Chelonice.

Where is he—speak!

Nicrates.

Advancing to the toil my Brother’s hand

Hath spread. Lured singly to the Grove,—

216 P4v 216

Chelonice.

Shrieks.

The Grove!

I see it all!—Unshackled murderer—

These chains—I’ll fly—unrivet me these chains

That I in pride of Reason have contemn’d!

Tis now I feel their power!—they hold me here—

And oh! are Fate to my Cleombrotus!

Nicrates.

Princess, abstain! be firm!

Chelonice.

I’ll pass the guards!

They cannot, dare not—

Nicrates.

The attempt is fruitless.

Their Lives must answer should they let you pass.

Not even this heart-piercing Agony,

Or all the eloquence inspired by Grief,

Will make them dare be faithless to the King.

Chelonice.

Oh, for some secret pass, through which to force

This wretched frame.—Vain! ’tis in vain! here fixed,

Here madden’d I must stay ―― Ah! where’s my Father?

Eagerly.

My Father did I say! ’tis he destroys him!

Nicrates.

With Amphares—my Brother he’s no more—

He now did part. Though ordered to avoid them,

I staid within the sound of all that passed,

Then hastened to your presence, here, perchance,

To learn the effort due.

Chelonice.

From me away!

Speed onward to the Grove! tend swiftest steps

217 P5r 217

To where the Murderer crouches for his prey!

Save my Cleombrotus! his danger show—

But ―― still be tender to a Father’s name

Whose Heart is victim to a villian’s guile!

Exit Nicrates.

—Now come my Son! within our dismal cell

Prone on the earth we’ll supplicate the Gods

To scant the measure of encreasing woe!

Exeunt.

Scene III.

The Grove Dark.
Enter Cleombrotus. Wearing a Mantle.

Why gently undulates the scented air?

Why, fragrant Zephyrs, why so sweetly breathe?

These glades I passed all agonized with dread,

Pursue their mazes with such shuddering horror

As the mad Priestess feels, within whose soul

The Demon whispers forth unknown events.

A grave-sent spectre in the deep of night

Could scarce give horror to a shrinking sinner

More than to me would give the form of Man.

The day yet lingers; but, within these woods,

Where eager night intrudes her earliest shade,

Adulterous vice may, fearless, converse hold—

Yet, ’tis but Slander!—Oh! to be assured,

What were the Crown of Sparta, the Dominion

Of the wide Universe ―― whence came that sound—

Again! be faithful then my ear, and guide me!

Exit.
Enter Amphares.

These gloomy shades forestall the night, and Jealousy

Ere this hath brought my prey within my grasp.

218 P5v 218

Now then, Cleombrotus, I do forgive thee,

Forgive thy glorious fate that gifted thee

With regal power, and chained me down thy Subject,

This hour thy life, thy wife, thy crown, are mine!

—Why linger thus to seize my destined prey?

In which concealed recess hath Fate ordained

The earth imbibe his blood? This way I’m drawn—

By heaven I miss’d him! if my eyes are true,

The base of yonder Statue is his rest—

He lifeless Statue soon!

Exit, Following Cleombrotus.
After a Pause, Amphares re-enters.

Fate! thou’rt obeyed!

The act’s attested by this point that reeks

With blood a moment since in kingly veins!

But hark!—That groan’s his last, for sure I am

This crimson steel was in his bosom fixed.

—Now then, Leonidas, dread thou the arm

Thou’st taught to murder!

Exit.
Nicrates staggers in, leaning on his sword.

Stay! stay, Fratricide!

He’s gone, and thinks atchieved his villainy,

I cannot on ――

Sinks down

by wound so sure unman’d!

Cleombrotus.

Entering.

Whence flow these piercing moans of Death—ah! speak

What wretch art thou?

Nicrates.

Ah! is ’t Cleombrotus?

219 P6r 219

Cleombrotus.

’Tis he.

Nicrates.

I’ve saved thee!—Sent by Chelonice

To warn thee hence from threat’ning Death which now

I’ve drawn on me. But I—e’en now—rejoice

That—oh—

Cleombrotus.

Too generous youth, speak on; for yet,

Who ’tis that speaks this failing light denies me.

Nicrates.

I am his Brother, by whose arm I die!

He loves the Princess, and would reach thy Crown—

He here appointed thee ―― to meet his Sword

But—plunged it haply in a meaner breast—

Fly, fly this spot—it is – – – Nicrates bids thee.

Cleombrotus.

Ah, then ’twas Amphares!— hath vice no bounds!

His arm that pierced thee thus!

Nicrates.

’Twas—even his.

Cleombrotus.

From Rage and Horror scarcely can I question—

Yet, breathe one word—say – – – where is Chelonice!

Nicrates.

Chained and imprisoned by ―― oh ――

Expires.

Cleombrotus.

Chained and imprisoned! wild distraction! speak!

Still let thy fleeting Spirit linger, tell ――

E’en now his spirit fled!—What would I know?

Do I not know that Amphares is villain?

Do I not know my Chelonice true

220 P6v 220

To thrill my Heart with every sweetest Joy!

—This hapless Youth Fate gives not time to mourn;

To Amphares I’ll on till Justice find

Its rightful prey! ―― her prison shall I seek—

Or her traducer’s breast?—With mind relieved,

Thus guised, I yield me up to trackless Chance

Lead it to Vengeance, or to Chelonice!

Exit.
221 P7r 221

Act the Fifth.

Scene I.

The Prison. Enter Leonidas and Amphares, followed by the Officer of the Prison.

Leonidas.

Inform the Princess that her Father comes

To break her chains, restore her to his love!

Exit Officer, at a distant part of the prison.

The rending tumults of her grief I dread,

As, on her widow’d heart, the full woe bursts.

Amphares.

Not abruptly should the tale of woe

Be trusted to her ear; her mind first cherish

By tokens of your love—by due degrees

Prepare her for her loss—and last for Vows

My raptured heart pants eagerly to pay.

Leonidas.

Farewell those keen distrusts, which have too long

The tender flow of love paternal staid!

Cleombrotus, my Rival, is no more,

And Chelonice now no more shall feel,

The torturous anguish of her father’s frown—

222 P7v 222 Enter Chelonice, looking wildly.

Ah! my loved Child! the bonds, the King commanded,

Thy Father, thus impatiently takes off!

Advances towards her.

Chelonice.

Passes him, and hurries on to Amphares.

Where is my Husband!—Murderer!—say where?

Why start’st thou thus!

Amphares.

Why question me fair Princess

Of him whose Station is before our walls,

The army leading that may level them?

Chelonice.

Is it? ―― or is it in the Grove! say—pale one!

That hue! guilt’s clearly tinctured in that cheek!

I’ll hence and seek him!

Exit.

Leonidas.

Say, whence this?— Cleombrotus!

The Grove!

Amphares.

Betrayed!—impossible!

Some Deity’s against us, or th’ opinion

Philosophy doth spread about the world

Is true; the Soul survives its humbler part,

And his must have revealed our dreadful secret!

Enter Sarpedon.

Sarpedon.

Pardon, that thus unbid I rush before thee!

To Leonidas.

Thee Amphares I sought, t’ impart a Murder!

223 P8r 223

Amphares.

What murder?—Why, to me, are all the tales

Of Murder pointed! Can’t a Spartan bleed,

But strait the public eye is bent on me!

Sarpedon.

You chiefly it concerns.

Amphares.

And why! whose death

Would’st speak then?

Sarpedon.

Abruptly I must tell ――

Fallen is Nicrates by Assassin’s hand!

Amphares.

Say’st thou Nicrates ’twas that fell!

Sarpedon.

Thy Brother.

As true as that our Lacedemon boasts

No higher gifted youth.

Leonidas.

Well hast thou said.

But, whose the guilt?

Sarpedon.

Th’ assassin fled unknown.

Amphares.

Unknown, and fled! the Furies keep him pace

Whatever land his guilty feet may press!

Where fell my Brother?

Sarpedon.

As I search’d the Grove,

My evening duty, I observed the Base

Of great Lycurgus’ statue stained with blood!

224 P8v 224

I traced the sanguine steps, and found full near

The lifeless body whence the blood had flown.

Amphares.

You found not him!—fell torturer say no ――

Nicrates bled not there!

Sarpedon.

Alas! full well

These eyes each feature knew, as from his neck

This honoured badge I took, by Agis given.

Amphares.

Go. Thou’st done well.

Exit Sarpedon.

Leonidas.

Why breathless, Amphares?

Amphares.

Why breathe I now, thou rather should’st demand—

I’ve slain my Brother!

Leonidas.

Wasn’t then him you slew!

Amphares.

I am his Murderer! ’twas the fraud of Night.

Lycurgus’ Statue was the spot where I

Plunged in his heart the instrument of Death!

Leonidas.

The Furies ’gainst his murderer you invoked,

The Prayer was just! and speed it winds to Heaven!

Fool! this the End of all thy Perfidies?

Thou, he to wear a Crown, and wed my Daughter!

Henceforth away, ill-destined man, and bid

Ambition quit a mind whose faculties

Are vassals to the humbler fates, nor dare

To loose thy thoughts again towards a Throne!

Exit. 225 Q1r 225

Amphares.

Revenge!—come thou, enlist this humble mind!

Ambition, Hatred, both are crossed; and now

Revenge be thou the Passion of my heart!

Yes, I will cherish thee to mad’ning rage,

And, in the remnant of my hated life,

No thought will nurture not inspired by thee!

Exit.

Scene II.

A colonnade in the palace Enter Sarpedon, followed by others.

Sarpedon.

Speaking as he enters.

Pursue not me! haste through each avenue,

Rouse every street, where, lulled in false security,

Our citizens repose.—I’ll to Prison

Where but a moment since I left the King,

The Prison which full soon may be his home!

Exeunt. Enter Cleombrotus.

Cleombrotus.

Of well known haunts I vainly trace the scite,

For Amphares escapes my vengeful eye!

Nor can I find the gloomy mansion holds,

From my fond gaze, the Innocence he slurs.

Ah! sure ’tis she who moves at distance on—

It is—’tis she, that witching form that step

That graceful air proclaim my beauteous Wife!

As eager zephyrs haste them to the Rose,

I to the sweeter presence of my Love!

Exit, and re-enters with Chelonice. Vol. II. Q 226 Q1v 226

Chelonice.

Cleombrotus! yet scarcely can I credit

That ’tis thy arm enfolds. My Lord beloved

My trembling faultering steps e’en now were bent

To mar a deed of such extreme of horror

I shudder at the thought!

Cleombrotus.

My Guardian Love!

How thy sweet tenderness o’erpays all risk!

—Who thus approaches?

Chelonice.

Speed! retire my Lord!

It were not safe he should behold thee here

Exit Cleombrotus. Enter Sarpedon.

Sarpedon.

Where, Princess, is the King?

Chelonice.

Whence is thy haste?

Sarpedon.

A part of th’ Army of Cleombrotus

Beset our walls; they have begun th’ attack,

And with a fury that bespeaks belief

Our efforts will be crushed. The rest, reserved,

Advance not yet. I anxious seek the King!

Exit.

Chelonice.

Dishonest warrior! Is it thus the man,

Enter Cleombrotus.

Aspiring to be King, observes his oaths?

Is’t thus thou break’st thy solemn pledge of Truce,

227 Q2r 227

Stealing like midnight robber to thy prey,

From whom, through fear, the beams of day had kept you!

Cleombrotus.

By heaven the wretch who hath infringed the oaths

That bound the promise you from me extorted,

Shall by my Sword be taught how I detest

So black a perfidy! This ne’er had been

Had not fell Amphares seduced me hither.

This moment, in my Camp, would I, impatient,

Have waited terms of Peace thou bidst me hope.

Mezentius is the man— Revenge awaits him!

Going.

Chelonice.

What! risk thyself where each side holds thee foe,

Oh stay!

Cleombrotus.

I dare not! for, in such a Cause,

I must resist thy Prayers, thy Tears, thy Love!

Large is thy sway; but, thou’st a Rival now,

The only Rival thou can’st ever dread,

’Tis Honour! and, what she suggests, my Soul

Ne’er balanced in debate. Her high behests

Are not mere worded Rules, but innate impulse,

The native spirit of Morality,

Which, if we pause to analize, is lost!

Chelonice.

Go then, obey such impulse, and chastise him.

They embrace. Exit Cleombrotus. Enter Leonidas, opposite side, speaking.

Leonidas.

Fly swiftly then, and bid Demophilus

Lead his division quickly to the breach;

I’ll follow with my own.—Who was it, Daughter,

Abruptly parted hence as I advanced?

Q2 228 Q2v 228

Chelonice.

My Father!

Leonidas.

Ah! well may’st thou hesitate,

Before confessing ’twas my mortal foe,

Whose troops this instant burst my city’s gates!

He, whose skilled sword is levelled at my breast

My faithless Daughter presses to her own!

Chelonice.

’Tis harsh reproach! he knew not of th’ attack,

And left me now, to punish him who leads.

Leonidas.

Dost thou believe? oh, Woman’s easy faith!

His troops beset our walls without Command!

—How wilt thou greet him, when he soon shall stain

These Pillars with my blood!

Chelonice.

As my worst foe;

As him I’m bound to shrink from! Thee I’d join,

Remain till breathless on thy funeral pile.

Leonidas.

My child! I press thee, once yet, in my arms!

Hear me acknowledge in this awful moment,

Perhaps the last we e’er shall pass together,

That the vast ruin which this dark hour threats,

The loss of Empire, Liberty, and Life,

Could not afflict my soul with half the anguish

Thy disobedience would bestow. Thy love,

Thy filial tenderness, is cordial sweet

To tortures in my breast. Posterity,

Whilst my demerit will thy fame enhance,

With charge of Cruelty receives my name,

But oh, Parental Love hath ne’er one instant

Lost its sweet influence in this beating heart!

229 Q3r 229

Chelonice.

Is this our parting moment! If it be,

Bear witness to my oft repeated vow;

This bosom ne’er shall shelter him whose sword

Shall pierce my Father’s! oh! thy blessing give,

Horror on either hand assails my mind—

Heaven grant it be not Frenzy!

Leonidas.

I do bless thee;

My Soul doth bless thee child. Awhile Retire.

She goes, he gazes after her.

I’d fain indulge my eyes a little longer,

Lest they should shortly close on her forever!

What spell is this, that suddenly unnerves me?

Why loiter here?—All Energy is gone,

Each feeling of a King, or Soldier, flown!

A violent noise.

That noise, that speaks the Battering-rams atchieve,

By wrathful efforts that convulse the walls,

Our Sparta’s ruin, cannot rouze my blood,

Nor the proud Marbles as to earth they fall,

At one view giving ruin vast and wild!

Corroding Age hath thus unsinewed me

In fatal hour!

Enter Sarpedon, and Troops.

Sarpedon.

Joy, great Leonidas!

Leonidas.

Joy! and to me?

Sarpedon.

The Enemy’s repulsed!

They fly beyond the town.

230 Q3v 230

Leonidas.

By whose atchievement?

Sarpedon.

Cleombrotus himself opposed his soldiers,

And forced his conquering troops beyond the breach!

Leonidas.

Mere Battle’s rumour! he force back his troops!

Sarpedon.

They were but Thracians, by Mezentius brought

Who fell beneath Cleombrotus’s arm!

Soon as they saw their Leader fall all fled.

Leonidas.

All fled! Oh, had Cleombrotus but staid,

The fortune of the hour had been complete!

Sarpedon.

Still are thy wishes sped! Cleombrotus,

Espying Amphares, had rushed upon him,

And instant was closed in. Then, like the flame

The Lightning darts that cleaves each obstacle,

O’erprowering all he quickly forced his way

And reach’d Asylum at Minerva’s Altar.

Leonidas.

Gods, ye retaliate! Astrea then

Hath not retreated back to heaven. Mark’st thou?

Ten circling Moons have scarcely o’ver our fields

Their silver brightness shed, since I myself,

His faction Victors, hied for Sanctuary,

Flying unarmed before the Slaves I governed,

To that same Temple which now shelters him.

Sarpedon.

Now great Leonidas thou’rt safe!

Leonidas.

My blood

231 Q4r 231

Flows warm again within my veins! I thought

Chill cowardice had sprung of cankering age

And seized upon my Heart; ’tis now I find

’Twas but despair that sent its torpid stream

Through every pulse. Bright hope hath chased it hence,

I feel again the animating fires

That have so oft destroyed the foes of Sparta!

Let us away, one foe doth yet remain,

When he’s no more, I shall indeed be great!

Exeunt.

Scene III.

The Temple. Present Minerva’s Priests. A noise without.

High Priest.

Who is’t thus claims the holy Sanctuary

Of our bright Goddess?

A Priest.

’Tis Cleombrotus.

He, who was late our Prince, now asks a refuge

Beneath this sheltering dome!

High Priest.

Ne’er fancy wove

Vicissitudes more strange than each hour knows!

Cleombrotus advance, dread no approach;

Enter Cleombrotus.

Minerva’s Altar doth ensure protection,

Midst every threatning danger may arise

From all the potent Nothings that embroil

From Age to Age the Sons of mad Ambition!

Cleombrotus.

I bend to thee, great Pallas! and to thee,

232 Q4v 232

The Chief amongst her Priests! You lately saw

My seat a Throne, now, thou beholdest me

In flight o’erprowered by troops full oft I’ve led!

High Priest.

’Tis not to vulgar minds the Gods decree

Such strong Reverses. When they fate a Soul

T’ encounter all th’ extremes of human change,

They gift with Fortitude. Sustained by virtue,

Be grateful then that thus the Gods have framed thee,

Nor grudge the Ease that meaner minds enjoy.

Cleombrotus.

In this I hail Minerva! and myself

Yield willing prisoner beneath her sway.

High Priest.

My Son! is’t now you first your freedom lose?

Ambition’s Vot’ries ne’er can boast they’re free!

Bound to consult the people’s wild desires,

To gain the powers of Rulers they are Slaves!

Sarpedon.

Entering.

Prepare your Greetings Priests! the King arrives!

Cleombrotus.

Comes hither then my Foe!

High Priest.

Beneath this roof,

Foes lose their power, and enmity its war,

The slightest menace here is sacrilege.

Leonidas.

Entering.

Have I then found thee!

Cleombrotus.

Meet I thee but here?

Would ’twere another place!

233 Q5r 233

Leonidas.

The place is fit,

The rights of Kings are sacred and uncurbed.

Vicegerents from the Gods, their power we wield,

Their temples our’s.—Yet, I will not imbue

The sacred pavement with thy rebel blood;

Bear him away! and instant to the block

His forfeit head convey.

High Priest.

The Sanctuary’s claimed!

Leonidas.

Bold Priest, retire!—away with all thy tribe!

Soldiers! your duty—why advance ye not?

Enter Sarpedon and numerous Soldiers. The Priests withdraw.

Sarpedon.

The Altar grants him its Asylum.

Leonidas.

Fools!

The fortune of the day shall I resign,

Because you’re scruple-bound!—Cleombrotus,

The favouring Fates will me to be the priest

To render thee a sacrifice to them.

Cleombrotus.

Nay then—forgive me Goddess! as from hence

Hurries to the Altar.

I seize thy sacred glave, with that secure

Th’ asylum which thy altar doth accord!

Enter Chelonice and Attendants, with the Child.

Chelonice.

Armed ’gainst my Father!

Unarms him. 234 Q5v 234

Leonidas.

Unexampled love!

Cleombrotus.

Oh, was this well!

Leonidas.

Now, bear him to his Death!

Chelonice.

Death to my husband! Oh, remember now,

How on the very spot on which we stand,

Successive days and nights, at thy feet sunk,

I wept, and watch’d, and pour’d my soul in prayer,

When hither thou, by the ’Ephori, wert driven

Who made my husband King!—I left his Throne,

Thy mind perturbed to soothe with tender tears,

And bind the Cypress round the riven Crown.

I scorned his splendid Diadem, and here

For ever I had staid, had not thy fate

Again restored thee to thy Royal seat.

Now!—spare my husband’s life!

Leonidas.

After agitation.

Impossible.

Chelonice.

Approaching the Altar.

Then now receive me, Goddess, at thy Altar,

For here from henceforth I’ll remain, nor quit,

So aid me Pallas, till—

Leonidas.

Thy rash vow cease!

Without thee what were Royalty? Thus far

I will reward thy long tried filial love—

Accept thy husband’s Life! But, be he banished

To the most distant region of our realm,

There guarded close.

Cleombrotus.

Dost think me sunk t’ accept

Mercy from thee!

235 Q6r 235

Leonidas.

Bring here the Diadem!

They bring it on a Cushion. He places it on Chelonice’s head.

Your Queen salute! Henceforward Sovereign

She reigns with me. Ye, who would bounties ask,

Or mercies gain, ’tis through your Queen alone

You can know either.—Queen of Sparta, hail!

Attendants.

Hail Queen of Sparta!

Chelonice.

Sweet joy swells my heart!

I see thee safe, thy enemies are fled.

Thou art secure upon thy Throne! And I,

I too am Queen, crowned and hail’d Sovereign!

—And what’s he yonder?—But an exiled man!

Who’s banished hence without a Comforter,

From Sparta banished. ―― Off, unvalued toy!

Placing the Crown on the Altar.

My homeless, friendless, banished Love, I’m thine!

Be it in the desart lands, or sun-scorched climes,

May arm shall pillow thee, my bosom rest

Thy aching head.

Child.

Hanging upon her.

And will you not be Queen!

Chelonice.

Boy, we must hence. Come, lead us for the Port

From whence we bid farewell to Lacedemon!

Cleombrotus.

Thou matchless woman!

Leonidas.

Most ungrateful Daughter!

236 Q6v 236

Would’st leave me then to solitary age?

Abandon him who lived to cherish thee!

Chelonice.

Not for whole worlds—wert thou not King again!

But, how could I give joy to thee, myself

A wretch? With heart unmated cold and joyless,

A wanderer within my father’s palace!

This is my home, my resting place, and here

Will I forever dwell.

Leading the child, and resting on her husband’s arm.

Leonidas.

Ingrate! may he,

For whom thou sacrific’st so much, reward thee

With scorn neglect and hatred, wring thy heart,

And thus retaliate my bitter pangs

On thee who giv’st them!

Exit.

Chelonice.

Oh, Cleombrotus!

Could’st thou do this? Oh no! thy Soul I read

In the pure honest beaming of thine eye

That speaks unchanging love.

Cleombrotus.

And will so speak,

E’en when unnerving time shall dim its beam,

Or quench the brighter flames that live in thine.

And when, in some ambitious hour, my Soul

For Sceptres sickens, and revolves on crowns,

Th’ alluring Phantoms I will bid avaunt,

Prefer the dearer empire of thy Heart!

There I will reign, with undivided sway,

And rule with all the tyranny—of Love!

Chelonice.

My Father, hear’st thou what a banishment

237 Q7r 237

Thou hast decreed! We, instant, will begin

That life of Joy the marble colonnades

Of regal domes were ne’er known to secure.

—My sweet Boy come! in Exile thou’lt not learn

The graceful arts of Courts; but, thou shalt learn

The higher art, the art to emulate

Each deed of dignity, the art to scorn

A vicious act, though ermined robes may shield it.

Chelonice, supported by Cleombrotus, leads the Child. As they are going off, folowed by the Guards, a Noise is heard without.—They turn.

Cleombrotus.

Whence these deep moans? that groan was surely Death’s!

Chelonice.

Oh! Nature aid me in this torturous view!

From Amphares my parent bleeding flies—

Now, now Cleombrotus be true to Virtue,

Preserve my Father!

Leonidas enters reeling, sinks and drops his Sword. Chelonice seizes and gives it to Cleombrotus, who meets Amphares. She assits her Father, as he sinks.

Cleombrotus.

Stay! behold a form

More meet than his t’ arrest thy murderous sword!

An arm more fit to give due chastisement

To vices deep as thine!

Amphares.

Within his breast,

My sword already hath atchieved revenge;

And when from thine its satiate point hath drawn

The life-blood stream, the Crown of Lacedemon

Shall decorate the brow of him thus scorned!

They fight. Amphares falls. 238 Q7v 238

Cleombrotus.

Thy brow doth find its Diadem in dust!

Leonidas’s sword, by my arm urged,

Hath worked a double vengeance! this alone

Could expiate thy slanders ’gainst my Wife!

Amphares.

Oh, had my erring sword ―― but ―― ’tis too late

Thy fortune triumphs!—if my breath would hold

To speak the maledictions that I ――

Expires.

Chelonice.

Look up my Father! see the Traitor lie

Fallen at thy feet.— Cleombrotus—my Husband!

With grateful Pride I will repeat the sound,

My Husband hath preserved thee from thy foe!

Oh then be cheer’d, and thro’ long years to come—

Leonidas.

Nor added years, nor instants, now remain!

Yet, yet, support me! Thee to bless I came

With dying breath. Yes, to my closing eye,

Be thou the last dear object, thou ―― these pangs!

For whom my soul was ever full of Love!

Ascend my Throne—thy husband hath revenged—

The crown of Lacedemon, and thy Heart,

His rich rewards!—and—may ye ever ――

Expires.

Chelonice.

Th’ unfinished Blessing, check’d by death-closed lips,

T’ Elysium wafts his Soul.—But, where am I!—

Left here, with heart replete with filial love,

Of every pleasing filial care bereft!

Continues kneeling behind the body, and bending over it.

Cleombrotus.

The voice of Consolation now were gross,

239 Q8r 239

Thy tears I’ll cherish and thy sorrows aid.

But, Spartans bear ye witness to my Life!

Your Glory, and my Chelonice’s bliss,

No other objects shall be hence my aim.

The bleeding body to the Palace bear,

And screen it from the insults of the crowd,

Who now will triumph with indecent joy

O’er him whose nod a moment since was fate.

But, ere we hence, we’ll lowly bend to Heaven,

In adoration of the hidden will,

Which, when the eager glance of Hope’s obscured,

Doth thus, through darkness, work our brightest Days!

240 Q8v

Epilogue.

Spoken by Mrs. Siddons.

Think you our Author copied from the Life,

In drawing such a Daughter, such a Wife?

Judging from what we know, I’m half afraid

The piece is Fancy! yet, I ask your aid

To fix my Judgment. Fairly try the Cause,

Try it by the sublimest of all laws

An English Jury!—I recall the word!

Ha! ha! was ever Mortal so absurd,

Soon comes the Verdict with with the sternest fury,

Should Brother Scribblers be amongst the Jury!

Oh, let the Court—take any other Form

And my firm Soul abides the pitiless storm!

Resolve yourselves Committee of the House

And prosecute—yet ah! no panting mouse

At stern Grimalkin could conceive more fears,

What! try a Poet by her scribbling Peers!

No Wit could save her, and no Hope could cheer,

The crime would be so plain, the case so clear,

Mercy, thrice blest! her power would vainly try,

And Guilty! Guilty!—Death! would be the cry.

—All others I make Judges as you sit,

Ye dear Celestials! Gallery! Boxes! Pit!

241 R1r

I’m now a Pleader; mark me pray, the same,

Counsellor Siddons—do you know the Name?

I have no Brief ’tis true—

Sighing, and looking at her hands.

But there, my case

By many a Learned Brother’s kept in face.

Many with clear white band, and powdered tye,

That with the blossoms of the hawthorn vie,

Parade the Hall, and nod, and smile, in vain,

nodding.

Attornies smile again, but—dont retain!

Whilst the Leviathans of Law’s vast ocean

Their jaws distend, and gobble every Motion.

I’m only talking!—I’ve forgot to plead!

If your kind eyes speak Truth, I’ve now no need.

With heighten’d hopes, in their bright beams we bask,

You seem prepared to grant all I can ask;

Your Hands I ask! Such thunders never fright!

Repeat the peal once more! and now—Good Night!

Vol. II. R