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Your paramour, as though you were a peasant—
Nay, more, if that the peasant were a Greek.

Sar. You talk it well

And truly.

In the hour

Of man's adversity all things grow daring
Against the falling; but as I am not
Quite fall'n, nor now disposed to bear reproaches,
Perhaps because I merit them too often,
Let us then part while peace is still between us.
Myr. Part!
Sar. Have not all past human beings parted,
And must not all the present one day part?
Myr. Why?

Sar. For your safety, which I will have look'd to,
With a strong escort to your native land;
And such gifts, as, if you had not been all

A queen, shall make your dowry worth a kingdom. Myr. I pray you talk not thus.

Sur. The queen is gone: You need not shame to follow. I would fall Alone I seek no partners but in pleasure. Myr. And I no pleasure but in parting not. You shall not force me from you.

Think well of it




It soon may be too late.

So let it be;
For then you cannot separate me from you.

Sur. And will not; but I thought you wish'd it.


Sar. You spoke of your abasement.

Myr. And I feel it Deeply - more deeply than all things but love. Sar. Then fly from it. Myr. 'T will not recall the past 'T will not restore my honour, nor my heart. No-here I stand or fall. If that you conquer, I live to joy in your great triumph: should Your lot be different, I'll not weep, but share it. You did not doubt me a few hours ago.

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Sar. Your courage never—nor your love till now; And none could make me doubt it save yourself. Those words

Myr. Were words. I pray you, let the proofs Be in the past acts you were pleased to praise This very night, and in my further bearing, Beside, wherever you are borne by fate.

Sar. I am content; and, trusting in my cause,
Think we may yet be victors and return
To peace- -the only victory I covet.
To me war is no glory-conquest no
Renown. To be forced thus to uphold my right
Sits heavier on my heart than all the wrongs
These men would bow me down with. Never, never
Can I forget this night, even should I live
To add it to the memory of others.

I thought to have made mine inoffensive rule
An era of sweet peace 'midst bloody annals,
A green spot amidst desert centuries,
On which the future would turn back and smile,
And cultivate, or sigh when it could not
Recall Sardanapalus' golden reign.

I thought to have made my realm a paradise,
And every moon an epoch of new pleasures.
I took the rabble's shouts for love-the breath
Of friends for truth- - the lips of woman for
My only guerdon—so they are, my Myrrha :
[He kisses her.

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Ho, my arms again, my arms! [Exeunt.



The same Hall in the Palace.


Myr. (at a window). The day at last has broken.
What a night

Hath usher'd it! How beautiful in heaven!
Though varied with a transitory storm,
More beautiful in that variety!

How hideous upon earth! where peace and hope,
And love and revel, in an hour were trampled
By human passions to a human chaos,
Not yet resolved to separate elements.
'Tis warring still! And can the sun so rise,
So bright, so rolling back the clouds into
Vapours more lovely than the unclouded sky,
With golden pinnacles, and snowy mountains,
And billows purpler than the ocean's, making
In heaven a glorious mockery of the earth,
So like we almost deem it permanent;
So fleeting, we can scarcely call it aught
Beyond a vision, 't is so transiently
Scatter'd along the eternal vault 2: and yet
It dwells upon the soul, and soothes the soul,
And blends itself into the soul, until
Sunrise and sunset form the haunted epoch
Of sorrow and of love; which they who mark not,
Know not the realms where those twin genii 3
(Who chasten and who purify our hearts,
So that we would not change their sweet rebukes
For all the boisterous joys that ever shook
The air with clamour), build the palaces
Where their fond votaries repose and breathe
Briefly; but in that brief cool calm inhale
Enough of heaven to enable them to bear
The rest of common, heavy, human hours,

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["A leech's lancet would have done as much."- MS.]

2 [This description of the sun rolling back the vapours is apparently imitated from a magnificent scene in the second book of Wordsworth's Excursion :

"Round them and above, Glitter. with dark recesses interposed, Casement, and cottage-roof, and stems of trees

And dream them through in placid sufferance;
Though seemingly employ'd like all the rest
Of toiling breathers in allotted tasks 4

Of pain or pleasure, two names for one feeling,
Which our internal, restless agony

Would vary in the sound, although the sense
Escapes our highest efforts to be happy.

Bal. You muse right calmly: and can you so watch The sunrise which may be our last?

It is
Therefore that I so watch it, and reproach
Those eyes, which never may behold it more,
For having look'd upon it oft, too oft,
Without the reverence and the rapture due

To that which keeps all earth from being as fragile
As I am in this form. Come, look upon it,
The Chaldee's god, which, when I gaze upon,
I grow almost a convert to your Baal.

Bal. As now he reigns in heaven, so once on earth He sway'd.

Myr. He sways it now far more, then; never Had earthly monarch half the power and glory Which centres in a single ray of his.

Bal. Surely he is a god! Myr. So we Greeks deem too; And yet I sometimes think that gorgeous orb Must rather be the abode of gods than one Of the immortal sovereigns. Now he breaks Through all the clouds, and fills my eyes with light That shuts the world out. I can look no more. Bal. Hark! heard you not a sound? Myr. No, 't was mere fancy; They battle it beyond the wall, and not As in late midnight conflict in the very Chambers: the palace has become a fortress Since that insidious hour; and here, within The very centre, girded by vast courts And regal halls of pyramid proportions, Which must be carried one by one before They penetrate to where they then arrived, We are as much shut in even from the sound Of peril as from glory.


But they reach'd

Thus far before.

Yes, by surprise, and were
Beat back by valour: now at once we have
Courage and vigilance to guard us.

May they


Myr. That is the prayer of many, and
The dread of more: it is an anxious hour;
I strive to keep it from my thoughts. Alas!
How vainly!

Bal. It is said the king's demeanour In the late action scarcely more appall'd The rebels than astonish'd his true subjects.

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Myr. The wretch was overthrown, but rescued to Triumph, perhaps, o'er one who vanquish'd him In fight, as he had spared him in his peril; And by that heedless pity risk'd a crown.

Bal. Hark!

[slowly. Myr. You are right: some steps approach, but Enter Soldiers, bearing in SALEMENES wounded, with a broken Javelin in his Side: they seat him upon one of the Couches which furnish the Apartment. Myr. Oh, Jove!


Then all is over.

That is false.
Hew down the slave who says so, if a soldier.
Myr. Spare him—he's none: a mere court but-

That flutters in the pageant of a monarch.
Sal. Let him live on, then.
So wilt thou, I trust.
Sal. I fain would live this hour out, and the event,
But doubt it. Wherefore did ye bear me here?

Sol. By the king's order. When the javelin struck

you, You fell and fainted: 'twas his strict command To bear you to this hall.

Sul. 'T was not ill done : For seeming slain in that cold dizzy trance, The sight might shake our soldiers - but — 't is vain, I feel it ebbing!


Let me see the wound; I am not quite skilless in my native land

'T is part of our instruction. War being constant,

We are nerved to look on such things. I


The javelin.

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Hold! no, no, it cannot be. Sal. I am sped, then! Myr. With the blood that fast must follow The extracted weapon, I do fear thy life.

Where was the king

Sal. And I not death.
when you
Convey'd me from the spot where I was stricken ?
Sol. Upon the same ground, and encouraging
With voice and gesture the dispirited troops
Who had seen you fall, and falter'd back.

Whom heard ye


Named next to the command?


I did not hear.

Sal. Fly, then, and tell him, 't was my last request
That Zames take my post until the junction,
So hoped for, yet delay'd, of Ofratanes,
Satrap of Susa. Leave me here: our troops
Are not so numerous as to spare your absence.
Sol. But prince
Hence, I say! Here's a courtier and
A woman, the best chamber company.
As you would not permit me to expire
Upon the field, I'll have no idle soldiers
About my sick couch. Hence and do my bidding!
[Exeunt the Soldiers.
Myr. Gallant and glorious spirit! must the earth
So soon resign thee?

Gentle Myrrha, 'tis
The end I would have chosen, had I saved
The monarch or the monarchy by this;
As 't is, I have not outlived them.

["We are used to such inflictions."— MS.]

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Well, the fault's a brave one.
Sar. But fatal. Oh, my brother! I would give
These realms, of which thou wert the ornament,
The sword and shield, the sole-redeeming honour,
To call back. But I will not weep for thee;
Thou shalt be mourn'd for as thou wouldst be mourn'd.
It grieves me most that thou couldst quit this life
Believing that I could survive what thou
Hast died for our long royalty of race.
If I redeem it, I will give thee blood

Of thousands, tears of millions, for atonement,
(The tears of all the good are thine already).
If not, we meet again soon,- if the spirit
Within us lives beyond: -1 thou readest mine,
And dost me justice now. Let me once clasp
That yet warm hand, and fold that throbless heart
[Embraces the body.
To this which beats so bitterly. Now, bear
The body hence.


Where's Zames?

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Pan. Proceed, thou hearest. Off. The wall which skirted near the river's brink Is thrown down by the sudden inundation Of the Euphrates, which now rolling, swoln From the enormous mountains where it rises, By the late rains of that tempestuous region, O'erfloods its banks, and hath destroyed the bulwark. Pan. That's a black augury! it has been said For ages, "That the city ne'er should yield To man, until the river grew its foe."

Sar. I can forgive the omen, not the ravage. How much is swept down of the wall?



Some twenty stadii. 1

Sar. And all this is left Pervious to the assailants?


For the present The river's fury must impede the assault; But when he shrinks into his wonted channel, And may be cross'd by the accustom'd barks, The palace is their own.

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Report of the true state of this irruption
Of waters.
Against you.

They are not my subjects, girl,
And may be pardon'd, since they can't be punish'd.
Myr. I joy to see this portent shakes you not.
Sar. I am past the fear of portents: they can tell me
Nothing I have not told myself since midnight:
Despair anticipates such things.



Sar. No; not despair precisely. When we know All that can come, and how to meet it, our Resolves, if firm, may merit a more noble Word than this is to give it utterance.

But what are words to us? we have well nigh done With them and all things.


Save one deed the last And greatest to all mortals; crowning act Of all that was-or is-or is to be

[Exeunt PANIA and the Officer. Thus the very waves rise up

The only thing common to all mankind,
So different in their births, tongues, sexes, natures,
Hues, features, climes, times, feelings, intellects, ?
Without one point of union save in this,

To which we tend, for which we're born, and thread
The labyrinth of mystery, call'd life. [cheerful.

Sur. Our clew being well nigh wound out, let's be They who have nothing more to fear may well Indulge a smile at that which once appall'd; As children at discover'd bugbears.

Re-enter PANIA.

"T is
As was reported: I have order'd there
A double guard, withdrawing from the wall
Where it was strongest the required addition
To watch the breach occasion'd by the waters.

Sar. You have done your duty faithfully, and as My worthy Pania! further ties between us

Draw near a close. I pray you take this key: い Gives a key.

It opens to a secret chamber, placed

Behind the couch in my own chamber. (Now

Press'd by a nobler weight than e'er it bore-
Though a long line of sovereigns have lain down
Along its golden frame-as bearing for
A time what late was Salemenes.) Search

The secret covert to which this will lead you;
'Tis full of treasure 3; take it for yourself
And your companions: there's enough to load ye
Though ye be many.4 Let the slaves be freed, too;
And all the inmates of the palace, of
Whatever sex, now quit it in an hour. [pleasure,
Thence launch the regal barks, once form'd for
And now to serve for safety, and embark.
The river's broad and swoln, and uncommanded
(More potent than a king) by these besiegers.
Fly and be happy!

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I ever disobey'd: but now




So all men Dare beard me now, and Insolence within Apes Treason from without. Question no further; "Tis my command, my last command. Wilt thou Oppose it ? thou!


But yet not yet.

Sar. Well, then, Swear that you will obey when I shall give The signal.

With a heavy but true heart,

I promise.


'Tis enough.

Now order here Faggots, pine-nuts, and wither'd leaves, and such Things as catch fire and blaze with one sole spark ; Bring cedar, too, and precious drugs, and spices, And mighty planks, to nourish a tall pile; Bring frankincense and myrrh, too, for it is For a great sacrifice I build the pyre! And heap them round yon throne.

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"Tis the first time

My lord!
I have said it,

And could keep my faith
[Exit PANIA.
You shall know
Anon - what the whole earth shall ne'er forget.

Without a vow.

What mean you?

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Let his head be thrown from our walls within The rebels' lines, his carcass down the river. Away with him!

[PANIA and the Guards seizing him. Pan. I never yet obey'd Your orders with more pleasure than the present. Hence with him, soldiers! do not soil this hall Of royalty with treasonable gore; Put him to rest without.

A single word:

My office, king, is sacred.
And what's mine?
That thou shouldst come and dare to ask of me
To lay it down?

I but obey'd my orders,
At the same peril if refused, as now
Incurr'd by my obedience.

So there are
New monarchs of an hour's growth as despotic
As sovereigns swathed in purple, and enthroned
From birth to manhood!

Her. My life waits your breath. Yours (I speak humbly) — but it may be-yours May also be in danger scarce less imminent: Would it then suit the last hours of a line Such as is that of Nimrod, to destroy A peaceful herald, unarm'd, in his office; And violate not only all that man Holds sacred between man and man-but that More holy tie which links us with the gods? [act Sar. He's right. Let him go free. My life's last Shall not be one of wrath. Here, fellow, take [Gives him a golden cup from a table near. This golden goblet, let it hold your wine, And think of me; or melt it into ingots, And think of nothing but their weight and value. Her. I thank you doubly for my life, and this Most gorgeous gift, which renders it more precious. But must I bear no answer?


Yes, -I ask

An hour's truce to consider.

But an hour's?
Sar. An hour's: if at the expiration of
That time your masters hear no further from me,
They are to deem that I reject their terms,
And act befittingly.

I shall not fail
To be a faithful legate of your pleasure.
Sar. And hark! a word more.
Whate'er it be.

Commend me to Beleses;
And tell him, ere a year expire, I summon
Him hence to meet me.


I shall not forget it,

Her. Sar. At Babylon. At least from thence he will depart to meet me. Her. I shall obey you to the letter. [Exit Herald. Sar. Pania! Now, my good Pania!— quick! with what I order'd. Pan. My lord, the soldiers are already charged. And, see they enter.

[Soldiers enter, and form a Pile about the Throne, &c.

Sar. Higher, my good soldiers, And thicker yet; and see that the foundation Be such as will not speedily exhaust

Its own too subtle flame; nor yet be quench'd

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