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And, madam, all that I can promise now,
Is but to die, before death reaches

you.
Ber. Now death draws near, a strange perplexity
Creeps coldly on me, like a fear to die:
Courage uncertain dangers may abate;
But who can bear the approach of certain fate?
S. Cath. The wisest and the best some fear may

show, And wish to stay, though they resolve to go.

Ber. As some faint pilgrim, standing on the shore, First views the torrent he would venture o'er; And then his inn upon the farther ground, Loth to wade through, and lother to go round ; Then dipping in his staff, does trial make How deep it is, and, sighing, pulls it back; Sometimes resolved to fetch his leap, and then Runs to the bank, but there stops short again; So I at once Both heavenly faith and human fear obey, And feel before me in an unknown way. For this blest voyage I with joy prepare, Yet am ashamed to be a stranger there.

S. Cath. You are not yet enough prepared to die; Earth hangs too heavy for your soul to fly. Por. One way (and heaven, I hope, inspires my

mind) I for your safety in this strait can find; But this fair queen must further

S. Cath. Name any way your reason can invent.
Por. to Ber. Though your religion (which I can-

not blame,
Because my secret soul avows the same)
Has made your life a forfeit to the laws,
The tyrant's new-born passion is the cause.
Were this bright princess once removed away,
Wanting the food, the flame would soon decay;

my intent.

And I'll prepare a faithful guard this night
To attend her person, and secure her flight.
Ber. to S. Cath. By this way I shall both from

death be freed, And you unforced to any wicked deed. S. Cath. Madam, my thoughts are with them

selves at strife, And heaven can witness how I prize your life; But 'tis a doubtful conflict I must try, Betwixt my pity and my piety: Staying, your precious life I must expose; Going, my crown of martyrdom I lose. Por. Your equal choice when heaven does thus

divide, You should, like heaven, still lean on mercy's side. S. Cath. The will of heaven, judged by a private

breast, Is often what's our private interest; And therefore those, who would that will obey, Without their interest must their duty weigh. As for myself, I do not life despise, But as the greatest gift of nature prize. My sex is weak, my fears of death are strong, And whate'er is, its being would prolong. Were there no sting in death, for me to die, Would not be conquest, but stupidity; But if vain honour can confirm the soul, And sense of shame the fear of death controul; How much more then should faith uphold the mind, Which, showing death, shows future life behind?

Ber. Of death's contempt heroic proofs you give; But, madam, let my weaker virtue live. Your faith

you your own life resign; But not when yours must be involved with mine. Since then you do not think me fit to die, Ah, how can you that life I beg deny!

inay bid

S. Cath. Heaven does in this my greatest trial

make, When I, for it, the care of you forsake; But I am placed, as on a theatre, Where all my acts to all mankind appear, To imitate my constancy or fear: Then, madam, judge what course I should pursue, When I must either heaven forsake, or you.

Por. Were saving Berenice's life a sin,
Heaven had shut up your flight from Maximin.
S. Cath. Thus with short plummets heaven's deep

will we sound,
That vast abyss where human wit is drowned!
In our small skiff we must not launch too far;
We here but coasters, not discoverers, are.
Faith's necessary rules are plain and few;
We many, and those needless, rules pursue:
Faith from our hearts into our heads we drive,
And make religion all contemplative.
You on heaven's will may witty glosses feign;
But that which I must practise here is plain:
If the All-great decree her life to spare,
He will the means, without my crime, prepare.

[Erit St Cath. Por. Yet there is one way left! it is decreed, To save your life, that Maximin shall bleed; 'Midst all his guards I will his death pursue, Or fall a sacrifice to love and you.

Ber. So great a fear of death I have not shown, That I would shed his blood to save my own; My fear is but from human frailty brought, And never mingled with a wicked thought.

Por. "Tis not a crime, since one of you must die, Or is excused by the necessity.

Ber. I cannot to a husband's death consent, But, by revealing, will your crime prevent. The horror of this deed

Against the fear of death has armed my mind,
And now less guilt in him than you I find.
If I a tyrant did detest before,
I hate a rebel, and a traitor more:
Ungrateful man,
Remember whose successor thou art made,
And then thy benefactor's life invade.
Guards, to your charge I give your prisoner back,
And will from none but heaven my safety take.

[Exit with Valerius and Guards. Por. [Solus.] "Tis true, what she has often urged

before,
He's both my father, and my emperor!
O honour, how can'st thou invent a way
To save my queen, and not my trust betray!
Unhappy I, that e'er he trusted me!
As well his guardian-angel may his murderer be,
And yet let honour, faith, and virtue fly,
But let not love in Berenice die.
She lives !
That's put beyond dispute, as firm as fate;
Honour and faith let argument debate.
Enter Maximin and VALERIUS talking, and

Guards.
Max. 'Tis said, but I am loth to think it true,

[To Por. That my late orders were contemned by you: That Berenice from her guards you freed.

Por. I did it, and I glory in the deed.
Mar. How, glory my commands to disobey!
Por. When those commands would your renown

betray.
Max. Who should be judge of that renown you

name, But I?

Por. Yes, I, and all who love your fame.

Mar. Porphyrius, your replies are insolent.
Por. Sir, they are just, and for your service

meant.
If for religion you our lives will take,
You do not the offenders find, but make.
All faiths are to their own believers just;
For none believe, because they will, but must.
Faith is a force from which there's no defence;
Because the reason it does first convince :
And reason conscience into fetters brings;
And conscience is without the power of kings.

Max. Then conscience is a greater prince than 1,
At whose each erring call a king may die!
Who conscience leaves to its own free command,
Puts the worst weapon in a rebel's hand.
Por. Its empire, therefore, sir, should bounded

be,
And, but in acts of its religion, free:
Those who ask civil power and conscience too,
Their monarch to his own destruction woo.
With needful arms let him secure his

peace; Then, that wild beast he safely may release.

Max. I can forgive these liberties you take,
While but my counsellor yourself you make:
But you first act your sense, and then advise ;
That is, at my expence you will be wise.
My wife I for religion do not kill;
But she shall die--because it is my will.

Por. Sir, I acknowledge I too much have done,
And therefore merit not to be your son:
I render back the honours which you gave;
My liberty's the only gift I crave.
Mar. You take too much -but, ere you lay it

down,
Consider what you part with in a crown:
Monarchs of cares in policy complain,
Because they would be pitied, while they reign;

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