« PreviousContinue »
Speaking of him and his. They come, the slaves! Is to contribute to thine every wish.
Lest it should clash wiih thine; for thou art still
Too prompt to sacritice thy thoughts for others. Enter SARDANAPALUS effeminately dressed, his Save in beholding thine ; (4) yet-
Myr. I would remain : I have no happiness Head crowned with Flowers, and his Robe
Yet! what YET ? negligently flowing, attended by a Train of Thy own sweet will shall be the only barrier Women and young Slaves.
Which ever rises betwixt thee and me. Sar. (speaking to some of his attendants.) Let Myr. I think the present is the wonted hour the pavilion over the Euphrates
Of council; it were better I retire. Be garlanded, and lit, and furnish'd forth
Sal. (comes forward and says,) The Ionian For an especial banquet; at the hour
slave says well: let her retire. Of midnight we will sup there : see nought wanting, Sar. Who answers? How now, brother? And bid the gallery be prepared. There is
The queen's brother, A cooling breeze which crisps the broad clear river: And your most faithful vassal, royal lord. We will embark anon. Fair nymphs! who deign Sar. (addressing his train.) As I have said, let To share the soft hours of Sardanapalus,
all dispose their hours We'll meet again in that the sweetest hour, Till midnight, when again we pray your presence. When we shall gather like the stars above us,
[The court retiring. And you will form a heaven as bright as theirs; (TO MYRRHA,(5) who is going.) Myrrha! I thought Till then, let each be mistress of her time,
thou wouldst remain. And thou, my own lonian Myrrha,(2) choose,
Great king, Wilt thou along with them or me?
Thou didst not say so.
My lord !--
But thou lookedst it: Sar. My lord, my life! why answerest thou so I know each glance of those lonic eyes, (6) coldly?
Which said thou wouldst not leave me. It is the curse of kings to be so answer'd.
Sire! your brotherRule thy own hours, thou rulest mine-say wouldst Sal. His consort's brother, minion of Ionia! Accompany our guests, or charm away [thou How darest thou name me and not blush ? The moments from me ?
Not blush! Myr.
The king's choice is mine.(3) Thou hast no more eyes than heart, to make her Sar. I pray thee say not so: my chiefest.joy Like to the dying day on Caucasus, (crimson
(1) "Salemenes is the direct opposite 10 sclfishness; and the
(3) “The chief charm and vivifying angel of the piece is Myrcharacter, though slightly sketched, displays little less ability tha, the Greek slave of Sardanapalus-a beautiful, heroic, dethan that of Sardanapalus. He is a stern, loyal, plain-spoken voted, and etherial being in love with the generous and insoldier and subject; clear-sighted, just and honourable in his ul- faluated monarch-ashamed of loving a barbarian-and using all timate views, though not more punctiilious about the means of her influence over him to ennoble as well as to adorn his existence, obtaining them than might be expected from a respectable and to arm him against the terrors of its close. Her voluptuousness satrap of ancient Nineveh, or a respectable vizier of the mo
is that of the heart—her heroism of the affections. If the part dern Turkish empire. To bis king, in spite of personal neglect she takes in the dialogue be sometimes too subdued and submisand family injuries, he is, throughout, pertinaciously attached sive for the lofty daring of her character, it is still such as might and punctiliously faithful. To the king's rebels he is inclined become a Grcek slave-a lovely lonian girl, in whom the love of
to be severe, bloody, and even treacherous; an imperfection, liberty and the scorn of death were tempered by the consciousness bowerer, in his character, lo want which would, in his silua
of what she regarded as a degrading passion, and an inward Lion, be almost unnatural, and which is skilsully introduced as
sense of fitness and decorum with reference to her condition." a contrast to the instinctive perception of virtue and honour
Jeffrey. which flashes out from the indolence of his master. Of the satrap,
(4) "That the character of Myrrha was drawn from life, and however, the faults as well as the virtues are alike the offspring of
that the Guiccioli was the model, I have no doubt. He had with disinterested loyally and patriotism. It is for his country and him the very being in person whom he has depicted in the drama, king that he is patient of injury; for them he is valiant; for them
of dispositions and endowments greally similar, and in circumeruel. He has no ambition of personal power, no thirst of indi
stances in which she could not but feel as Myrrha is supposed to vidual fame. In battle and in victory, · Assyria!' is bis only have felt: and it must be admitted that he has applied the good war-cry. When he sends off the queen and princes, he is less fortune of that incident to a beautiful purpose. This, however, anxious for his dephews and sister than for the preservation of is not all that the tragedy possesses of the author. The character the line of Nimrod; and, in his last moments, it is the supposed of Zarina is, perhaps, even still more strikingly drawn from life ; flight of his sovereign which alone distresses and overcomes him." there are many touches in the scene with her which he could Heber.-E.
not have imagined without thinking of his own domestic dis(2) "The lopian name had been still more comprehensive, asters.” Gali. having included the à chaians and the Bæolians, who, together
(5) In the original draught, “Byblis."-E. with those to whom it was allerwards confined, would make
(6) In the MS. nearly the whole of the Greek nation; and among the orientals it was always the general name for the Greeks.” Milford's Greece. "I know each glance of those deep Greek-sould eyes."-E.
Where sunset lints the snow with rosy shadows, Sal.
Virtue. And then reproach her with thine own cold blind Sar.
Not know the word! ness,
Never was word yet rung so in my earsWhich will not see it. What! in tears, my Myrrha? Worse than the rabble's shout, or splitting trumpet :
Sal. Let them flow on: she weeps for more than I've heard thy sister talk of nothing else. And is herself the cause of bitterer tears. (one, Sal. To change the irksome theme, then, hear of Sar. Cursed be he who caused those tears to flow!
Sar. From whom?
(vice. Sal. Curse not thyself-millions do that already. Sal. Even from the winds, if thou couldst listen
Sar. Thou dost forget thee: make me not remem- Unto the echoes of the nation's voicc. I am a monarch.
Sar. Come, I'm indulgent, as thou knowest; Sal. Would thou couldst!
My sovereign! As thou hast often proved-speak out! what moves I pray, and thou, too, prince! permit my absence.
Sal. Thy peril.
[thee? Sar. Since it must be so, and this churl has check'd
Say on. Thy gentle spirit, go; but recollect
Thus, then : all the nations, That we must forthwith meet: I had rather lose For they are many, whom thy father left An empire than thy presence. (Bxit MYRRHA. In heritage, are loud in wrath against thee. Sal.
It may be,
Sar. 'Gainst me! What would the slaves ? Thou wilt lose both, and both for ever!
A king Sar. Brother, Sar.
And what I can at least command myself, who listen
Am I then? To language such as this: yet urge me not
Sal. In their eyes a nothing; but Beyond my easy nature.
In mine a man who might be something still. Sal. 'T is beyond
Sar. The railing drunkards! why, what would That easy, far too easy, idle nature,
they have? Which I would urge thee. O that I could rouse Have 'hey nol peace and plenty ? thee!
Of the first Though 't were against myself
More than is glorious; of the last, far less Sar.
By the god Baal! Than the king recks of. The man would make me tyrant.
Whose then is the crime, Sal.
So thou art. But the false satraps', who provide no better? Think'st thou there is no tyranny but that
Sal. And somewhat in the monarch wbo ne'er Of blood and chains ? The despotism of vice
looks The weakness and the wickedness of luxury Beyond his palace walls; or if he slirs The negligence-the apathy-the evils
Beyond them, 't is but to some mountain palace, Of sensual sloth-produce ten thousand tyrants, Till summer heals wear down. O glorious Baal! Whose delegated cruelty surpasse
Who built up this vast empire, and wert made The worst acts of one energetic master,
A god, or at the least shinest like a god However harsh and hard in his own bearing. Through the long centuries of thy renown, The false and fond examples of thy lusts
This, thy presumed descendant, ne'er bcheld Corrupt no less than they oppress, and sap As king the kingdoms thou didst Icave as hero, In the same moment all thy pageant power Won with thy blood, and toil, and time, and peril! And those who should sustain it; so that whether For what ? to furnish imposts for a revel, A foreign foe invade, or civil broil
Or multiplied extortions for a minion. Distract within, both will alike prove fatal:
Sar. I understand thee-thou wouldst have me go The first thy subjects have no heart to conquer; Forth as a conqueror. By all the stars The last they rather would assist than vanquish. Which the Chaldeans read-lhe restless slaves(1) Sar. Why, what makes thee the mouth-piece of Deserve that I should curse them with their wishes, the people ?
And lead them forth to glory. Sal. Forgiveness of the queen, my sister's wrongs; Sal.
Wherefore not ? A natural love unto my infant nephews;
Semiramis-a woman only-led
Sar. 'T is most true. And how return'd ? Sar. What's that?
Sal. Why, like a man—a hero; baffled, but Sal. To thee an unknown word.
(1) In the MS. Sar.
Yet speak it; I love to learn.
To curse the restless slaves with their own wishes."-E.
-- I have a mind
Nol vanquish’d. With but twenty guards, she madle Thought them worth purchase and conveyance, are
The landmarks of the seas of gore he shed,
The realms he wasted, and the hearts he broke, Left she bebind in India to the vultures ?
But here, here in this goblet, is his title
To immortality--the immortal grape
A mortal still in name as in his grave; Her myriads of fond subjects. Is this glory ? And, like my ancestor Semiramis, Then let me live in ignominy ever.
A sorl of semi-glorious human monster.
Humanise thee; my surly chiding brother,
For all thy realms, Which she once sway'd-and thou migh'st sway. I would not so bilaspheme our country's creed. Sar.
I sway thein Sar. That is to say, thou thinkest him a hero, She but subdued them.
That be shed blood by oceans; and no god, Sal.
It may be, ere long, Because he turn d a fruit to an enchantment, That they will need her sword more than your Which cheers the sad, revives the old, inspires sceptre.
The young, makes Weariness forget his toil, Sar. There was a certain Bacchus, was there not? And Fear her danger; opens a new world I've heard my Greek girls speak of such-they say When this, the present, palls. Well then I pledge He was a god, that is, a Grecian god,
thee, An idol foreign to Assyria's worship,
And him as a true man, who did his utmost Who conquer'd this same golden realm of Ind In good or evil to surprise mankind. [Drinks. Thou pratest of, where Semiramis was vanquish'd. Sal. Wilt thou resunie a revel at ihis hour?
Sal. I have heard of such a man; and thou per Sar. And if I did, 't were better than a trophy, That he is deem'd a god for what he did. (ceivest Being bought without a tear. But that is not
Sar. And in his godship I will honour him My present purpose: since thou wilt not pledge me, Not much as man. Whal, ho! my cupbearer! Continue what thou pleasest. Sal. What means the king ?
(To the Cupbearer).
[Brit Cupbearer. And ancient conqueror. Some wine, I say.
Sal. I would but have recall'd thee from thy dream;
Better by me awaken'd than rebellion.
Sar. Who should rebel ? or why? what cause ?
pretext? Sar. (addresing the Cupbearer.) Being me the I am the lawful king, descended from golden goblet thick with gems,
A race of kings who knew no predecessors. Which bears the name of Nimrod's chalice. Hence! What have I done to thee, or to the people, Fill full, and hear it quickly. [Exit Cupbearer. That thou shouldst rail, or they rise up against mic? Sal. Is this moment
Sal. Of what thou hast done to me, I speak not. A fitting one for the resumption of
But. Thy yet unslept-off revels ?
Thou think'st that I have wrong’d the queen: is 't
not so ? Re-enter Cupbearer, with wine.
Sal. Think! Thou hast wrong d her!(2) Sar.(taking the cup from him.)Noble kinsman! Sar.
Patience, prince, and hear me. If these barbarian Greeks of the far shores
She has all power and splendour of her station, And skirts of these our realms lie not, this Bacchus Respect, the tutelage of Assyria's heirs, Conquer'd the whole of India, did he not? The homage and the appanage of sovereignty.
Sal. He did, and thence was deem'd a deity. (1) I married her as monarchs wed—for state.
Sar. Not so:-of all his conquests a few columns, And loved her as most husbands love their wives. Which may be his, and might be mine, if I
If she or thou supposedst I could link me
(1) In the MS.
has more in his eye the case of a sinful Christian that has but "He did, and thence was deem'd a god in story."-E.
one wise, and a sly business or so which she and her kin do not
| approve of, than a bearded Oriental like Sardanapalus, with three (2)“ In many parts of this play, it strikes me that Lord Byron hundred wives and seven hundred concubines." Ilogg.
Like a Chaldean peasant to his mate,
Eat, drink, and love; lhe rest's nol worth a fillip." (1) Ye knew nor me, nor monarchs, nor mankind. Sal. A worthy moral, and a wise inscription, Sal. I pray thee, change the theme: my blood For a king to put up before his subjects! [edictsdisdains
Sar. Oh! thou wouldst have me, doubtless, set up Complaint, and Salemenes' sister seeks not "Obey the king-contribute to his treasureReluctant love even from Assyria's lord!
Recruit his phalanx-spill your blood at bidding, Nor would she deign to accepl divided passion Fall down and worship, or get up and toil.” With foreign strumpets and lonian slaves.
Or thus—"Sardanapalus on this spot The queen is silent.
Slew fifty thousand of his enemies. Sar.
And why not her brother? These are their sepulchres, and this his trophy.” Sal. I only echo thee the voice of empires, I leave such things to conquerors; enough Which he who long neglects not long will govern. For me, if I can make my subjects feel Sar. The ungrateful and ungracious slaves ! they The weight of human misery less, and glide
Ungroaning to the tomb: I take no license Because I have not shed their blood, nor led them Which I deny to them. We all are men. To dry into the deserl's dust by myriads,
Sal. Thy sires have been revered as godsOr whiten with their bones the banks of Ganges;
In dust Nor decimated them with savage laws,
And death, where they are neither gods nor men. Nor sweated them to build up pyramids,
Talk not of such to me! the worms are gods; Or Babylonian walls.
At least they banqueled upon your gods, Sal.
Yet these are trophies And died for lack of farther nutriment, More worthy of a people and their prince
Those gods were merely men ; look to their issue. Than songs, and lutes, and feasts, and concubines, I feel a thousand mortal things about me, And lavish'd treasures, and condemned virtues. But nothing godlike,-unless it may be
Sar. Or for my trophies I have founded cities : The thing which you condemn, a disposition There's Tarsus and Anchialus, both built
To love and to be merciful, to pardon In one day—what could that blood-loving beldame, The follies of my species, and (that's human) My martial grandam, chaste Semiramis,
To be indulgent to my own. Do more, except destroy them?
'T is most true; The doom of Nineveh is seal'd.-Woe-woe I own thy merit in those founded cities,
To the unrivalld city! Built for a whim, recorded with a verse
What dost dread ?
And thine and mine; and in another day
Ambitious treachery, Why, those few lines contain the history
Which has environ'd thee with snares; but yet Of all things human: hear—"Sardanapalus, There is resource: empower me, with thy signet, The king, and son of Anacyndaraxes,
To quell the machinations, and I lay In one day built Anchialus and Tarsus.
The heads of thy chief foes before thy feet.
(1) “For ibis expedition he took only a small chosen body of the inhabitants could be at once in circumstances to abandon the phalanx, but all his light troops. In the first day's march he themselves to the intemperale joys which their prince has been reached Anchialus, a lown said to have been founded by the King supposed to have recommended, is not obvious: but it may deof Assyria, Sardanapalus. The fortifications, in their magnitude serve observation thal, in that line of cuast, the southern of and extent, still, in Arrian'slime, bore the character of greatness Lesser Asia, ruins of cities, evidently of an age after Alexander, which the Assyrians appear singularly to have assected in works yet barely named in history, at this day astonish the adventurous of the kind. A monument representing Sardanapalus was found iraveller by their magnilicence and elegance. Amid the desoThere, warranted by an inscription in Assyrian characters, of lalion whioh, under a singularly barbarian government, bas for course in the old Assyrian language, which the Greeks, whether so many centuries been daily spreading in the finest countries well or ill, interpreted thus : 'Sardanapalus, son of Anacynda- of the globc, whether more from soil and climate, or from opporraxes, in one day founded Anchialus and Tarsus. Eat, drink, lunities for commerce, extraordinary means must have been play: all other human joys are not worth a fillip.' Supposing this found for communities to flourish there; whence it may seem that version nearly exact (sor Arrian says it was not quite so), whether the measures of Sardanapalus were directed by juster views than the purpose has not been to invite to civil order a people disposed have been commonly ascribed to him : but that monarch baring to turbulence, rather than to recommend immoderate luxury, been th last of a dynasty ende: by a revolution, obloquy on his may perhaps reasonably be questioned. What, indeed, could be memory would follow of course, from the policy of his successors the object of a king of Assyria in sounding such towns in a country and their partisans. The inconsistency of traditions concerning so distant from his capital, and so divided from it by an immense Sardanapalus is striking in Diodorus's account of him.” Milford's extent of sandy deserts and losty mountains, and, still more, how Greece
Sar. The heads—how many ?
For all the popular breath that e'er divided
Must I stay to number A name from nothing. What are the rank tongues
Sar. I will trust no man with unlimited lives. Their noisome clamour? When we take those from others, we nor know Sal.
You have said they men; What we have taken, nor the thing we give. As such, their hearts are something. Sal. Wouldst thou not take their lives who seek Sar.
So my dogs' are;(1) for thine ?
And better, as more faithful:-but, proceed;
The meanest vassal as the loftiest monarch,
By mild reciprocal alleviation,
The fatal penalties imposed on life: Sar. Thou knowest I have done so ever: But this they know not, or they will not know. Take thou the signet.
[Gives the signet. I have, by Baal! done all I could to soothe them: Sal.
I have one more request.— I made no wars, I added no new imposts,
I interfered not with their civic lives,
Passing my own as suited me.
To be aught save a monarch; else for me Nor lose one joyous hour.-I fear them not. The meanest Mede might be the king instead. (so. Sal. But thou wouldst arm thee, wouldst thou not, Sal. There is one Mede, at least, who seeks to be if needful?
Sar. What mean'st thou ?—'t is thy secret; thou Sar. Perhaps. I have the goodliest armour, and
desirest A sword of such a temper, and a bow
Few questions, ana I'm not of curious nature. And javelin, whicb might furnish Nimrod forth: Take the fit steps; and, since necessity A little heavy but yet not unwieldy.
Requires, I sanction and support thee. Ne'er And now I think on't, 't is long since I've used them, was man who more desired to rule in peace Even in the chase. Hast ever seen them, brother? The peaceful only: if they rouse me, belter
Sal. Is this a time for such fantastic trifling ? They had conjured up slern Nimrod from his ashes,
"The mighty hunter.” I will turn these realms Sar.
Will I not? To one wide desert chase of brutes, who were, Oh! if it must be so, and these rash slaves
But would no more, by their own choice, be human. Will not be ruled with less, I 'll use the sword What they have found me, they belie: that which Till they shall wish it turn'd into a distaff. They yet may find me—shall defy their wish
Sal. They say thy sceptre 's turn’d to that already. To speak it worse; and let them thank themselves.
Sar. That's false! but let them say so: the old Sal. Then thou at last canst feel ?
Feel! who feels not
Ingratitude ? Because he loved a Lydian queen: thou seest
Sal. I will not pause to answer The populace of all the nations seize
With words, but deeds. Keep thou awake that Each calumny they can to sink their sovereigns.
No; And thou mayst yet be glorious in thy reign,
(Brit SALEXENES. Now they have peace and pastime, and the license To revel and to rail; it irks me not.
(1) See MISCELLANEOUS Poems. Inscriplion on the Monument I would not give the smile of one fair girl
of a Newfoundland Dog.