Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

Drove you from court, from Crete, and from your

father :
The court, all Crete, deplor'd their suffering hero
And I (the sad occasion) most of all.
Yet could you know relenting Phædra's soul!
Oh, could you think with what reluctant grief
I wrong'd the hero whom I wish'd to cherish!
Oh! you'd confess me wretched, not unkind,
And own those ills did most deserve your pity,
Which most procurd your hate.

Hij. My hate to Phædra !
Ha! could I hate the royai spouse of Theseus,
My queen, my mother?

Phæd. Why your queen and mother?
More humble ties would suit my lost condition.
Alas! the iron hand of death is on me,
And I have only time t'implore your pardon.
Ah! would my lord forget injurious Phædra,
And with compassion view her helpless orphan!
Would he receive hinı to his dear protection,
Defend his youth from all encroaching foes!

Hip. Oh, I'll defend him! with my life defend hiin!
Heaven, dart your judgment on this faithless head,
If I don't pay bin all à slave's obedience,
And all a father's love.

Pbæd. A father's love! Oh, doubtful sounds! oh, vain deceitful hopes ! My grief's much eas`d by this transcending goodness, And Theseus' death sits lighter on my soul,

Ca

Death! he's not dead : he lives, he breathes, he speaks;
He lives in you, he's present to my eyes ;
I see him, speak to hiin.--My heart1 I rave,
And all my folly's known.

Hip. Oh, glorious folly!
See, Theseus, see, how much your Phædra lov'd you.

Phed. Love him, indeed! dote, languish, die for him. Forsake

my food, my sleep, all joys for Theseus; “ (But not that hoary venerable Theseus)” But Theseus, as he was when mantling blood Glow'd in his lovely cheeks ; “ when his bright eyes “ Sparkled with youthful fires;" when ev'ry grace Shone in the father, which now crowns the son i When Theseus was Hippolitus.

Hip. Ha!-amazement strikes me : Where will this end?

Lyc. Is’t difficult to guess ? Does not her flying paleness, “ that but now “ Sat cold and languid in her facling cheek, “ (Where now succeeds a momentary lustre) “ Does not her beating heart," her trembling limbs, Her wishing looks, her speech, her present silence, A!), all proclaim imperial Phædra loves you ?

Hip. What do I hear? what, does no lightning flash, No thunder bellow, when such monstrous crimes Are own'd, avow'd, confest? All-seeing Sun! Hide, hide in shameful night thy beamy head, And cease to view the horrors of thy race. Alas! I share th’amazing guilt; these eyes, That first inspir'd the black incestuous flame,

These ears, that heard the tale of impious love,
Are all accurs'd, and all deserve your thunder.

Phæd. Alas, iny lord ! believe me not so vile.
No; “ by thy goddess, by the chaste Diana,
“ None but my first, my much-lov'd lord Arsamnes,
“ Was e'er receiv'd in these unhappy arms."
No; for the love of thee, of those dear charms,
Which now I see are doum'd to be my ruin,
I still deny 'd my lord, my husband Theseus,
The chaste, the modest joys of spotless marriage ;
That drove him hence to war, to stormy seas,
To rocks and waves, less cruel than his Phædra.
Hip. If that drove Theseus hence, then that killid

Theseus,
And cruel Phædra kill'd her husband Theseus.
Phad. Forbear, rash youth, nor dare to rouse my

vengeance ;
Provoke me not; nor tempt my swelling rage
With black reproaches, scorn, and provocation,
To do a deed my reason would abhor.
Long has the secret struggled in my breast,
Long has it rack'd and rent my tortur'd bosom ;
But now 'tis out. Shame, rage, confusion tear
And drive me on to act unbeard-of crimes;
To niurder thee, myself, and all that know it.
As when convulsions cleave the lab'ring earth,
Before the dismal yawn appears, the ground
Trembles and heaves, the nodding houses crash;
He's safe, who from the dreadful warning flies
But he that sees its opening bosom dies.

(Exit,

Hip. Then let me take the warning and retire ;
I'd rather trust the rough Ionian waves,
Than woman's fiercer rage.

“ [Ismena shews berself, listening."
Lyc. Alas, my lord!
You must not leave the queen to her despair.
Hip. Must not! from thee? from that vile upstart

Lycon ? I.yc. Yes; from that Lycon who derives his greatness Fro:n Phædra's race, and now would guard her life. Then, sir, forbear, view here this royal signet, And in her faithful slave obey the queen.

CRATANDER and Guards enter. Guards, watch the prince, but at that awful distance, With that respect it may not seem confinement, But only meant for honour.

Hip. So, confinement is
The honour Crete bestows on Theseus son;
Am I confin'd! and is't so soon forgot,
When fierce Procrustes' arms o’er-ran your kingdom ?
When your streets echo'd with the cries of orphans,
Your shrieking maids clung round the hallow'd shrines,
When all your palaces and lofty towers
Smoak d on the earth, when the red sky around
Glow'd with your city's fiames (a dreadful lustre):
Then, then my father flew to your assistance ;

Then Theseus sav'd your lives, estates, and honours,
And do you thus reward the hero's toil?
And do you now confine the hero's son ?

Lyc. Take not an easy short confinement ill, Which your own safety and the queen's requires; Nor harbour fear of one that joys to serve you.

Hip. Oh, I disdain thee, traitor, but not fear thee ; Nor will I hear of services from Lycon. Thy very looks are lies: eternal falshood Smiles in thy looks, and Aatters in thy eyes ; Ev'n in thy humble face I read my ruin, In ev'ry cringing bow and fawning smile. Why else d'ye whisper out your dark suspicions ? Why with malignant elogies encrease The people's fears, and praise me to my ruin ? Why thro' the troubled streets of frighted Gnossus Do bucklers, helms, and polish'd armour blaze ? Why sounds the dreadful din of instant war, Whilst still the foe's unknown?

Lyc. Then quit thy arts; Put off the statesman, and resume the judge. (Aside, Thou, Proteus, shift thy various forms no more, But boldly own the god.

That foe's too near.

[To Hip. The queen's disease, and your aspiring mind, Disturb all Crete, and give a loose to war.

Hip. Gods ! dares he speak thus to a monarch's son, And must this earth-born slave command in Crete? Was it for this my godlike father fought? Did Theseus bleed for Lycon ? Oye Cretans, See there your king, the successor of Minos, And heir of Jove. Lyc. You may as well provoke

« VorigeDoorgaan »