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Another shoots before the aching eye,
King. Eternal curses fall upon his head!
him, heav'n! Meres. Ever the happy slave of your good
pleasure! King. And let our soothsayers and astrologers Be summon'd quick, to ascertain and say What is the secret cause of our alarm: If they should waver in the great account, Or fail in giving us one point minute, Each word they utter shall but prophecy Their own destruction :* now, Meres, away!
Erit Meres. Semiramis, our crown, that twice ten suns
* However extravagant this language may appear, it is perfectly weak and moderate, when compared with that which the kings of Babylon are recorded in the scriptures to have really used on similar occasions.
Have now illum'd, giving and borrowing splen
dor, Stands on a cold and barren eminence, And sheds no ray upon the time to come : Since our lov'd brother's e'er lamented death, And your dear boy's, whose cradle was his grave, (Alas that such sweet innocence should die) The race of Ninus perishes in us, Or finds alone collateral support: Azema, hear'st thou how on thee depends What yet remains of all thy country love?
Az. My thoughts have seldom dar'd to stray
As to embrace the interests of a people.
King. Would it were needless!
Queen. Are you then amaz'd That such alarming signs should shake the city As Meres speaks, when the first barriers Break the full course of that unnumber'd race, Whose glory and their country's have been one? When you can boast but half the Ninian blood, And many distant stains pollute Azema's ? Oh, my dear boy, whose cradl'd beauty gave Such hopes of all a nation might adoreKing. (Aside.) She loves this pretty jargon !
self-deceiv’d, Weak, shallow woman! sooth, 'twas pitiful ! Queen. Hadst thou been present, thou hadst
fought our battles, And e'en Araxes' glory sunk in thine!
King. We'll try to find an easier mode, good
Erit. Queen. Now comes the hour by Oroes ap
pointed For me to hold in secret conference This young, this lov'd, this noble, brave Araxes: This hapless outcast-idol of his country, Child of my bounty-whom the world adore, This peasant slave—the image of great Ninus. He has I find some secrets to disclose That point directly at my throne and peace: My heart, I trust, will not play reckless truant, And teach me to betray both throne and peace.
Az. Oh! that my spirits could mount high as
But not my brilliant expectations save me
And ev'ry smile I would assume is false.
SCENE III.--A Hall in the Palace, with statues
ranged along it.
Arar. Here is my way: why should I trem
ble thus ? I go to plead with a maternal judge A cause to melt the very earth to pity : This palace is mine own, where high enthron’d, In royal state, my mighty fathers rul'd The eastern world, beyond man's memory : These images would give us back the dead, And in their faint and ineffectual lines Pourtray the warrior's fire : why should I fear? Here is my dwelling, for the people say I cast no shame upon a race of heroes : Who was the last-I've seen him in the tomb,*
• The Babylonian customs of sepulture were the sai as those of the Egyptians, by which the body was preserved a long time.
And twenty years have not effac'd the wound
Enter MERES and ZAPAAN.
Meres. Well met, my lord Araxes !
year to learn our better manners here, And then return to shew our worst at home; Your officers of state that slander tells Will unsay all they ever said for place, And saving principle will alter conduct, Or changing both laugh out poor honesty ; Your hypocrites, with conscience on their lips, The only place their conscience ever held, Who make the gods their instruments of power,