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Their province is to talk, 't is mine to act,
And show this tyrant when he dar'd to wrong me
He wrong'd a man whose attribute is vengeance.
Cas. All nations bow their heads with servile homage,
And kiss the feet of this exalted man.
The name, the shout, the blast, from ev'ry mouth
Is Alexander ! Alexander stuns
The list’ning ear and drowns the voice of Heaven!
The earth's commanders fawn like crouching spaniels;
And if this hunter of the barb'rous world
But wind himself a god, all echo him
With universal cry.
Poly. I fawn or echo him!
Cassander no; my soul disdains the thought!
Let eastern slaves or prostituted Greeks
Crouch at his feet, or tremble if he frown;
When Polyperchon can descend so low,
False to that honour which thro' fields of death
I still have courted where the fight was fiercest,
Be scorn my portion, infamy my lot.
Thes. The king may doom me to a thousand tortures,
Ply me with fire, and rack me like Philotas,
Ere I shall stoop to idulize his pride.
Cas. Not Aristadner, had he rais'd all hell,
Could more have shock'd my soul than thou hast done
By the bare mention of Philotas' murder.
Oh Polyperchon! how shall I describe it!
Did not your eyes rain blood to see the hero ?
Did not your spirits burst with smother'd vengeance
To see thy noble fellow-warrior tortur’d,
Yet without groaning or a tear endure
The torments of the damn'd? Oh! death to think it!
We saw him bruis'd, we saw his bones laid bare,
His veins wide lac'd, and the poor quiv'ring flesh
With fiery pincers from his bosom torn,
Till all beheld where the great heart lay panting.
Poly. Yet all like statues stood Imcold lifeless sta-
As if the sight had froze us into marble,
When with collected rage we should have flown
To instant vengeance on the ruthless cause,
And plung'd a thousand daggers in his heart.
Cas. At our last banquet, when the bowl had gone
The giddy round, and wine inflam'd my spirits,
I saw Craterus and Hephestion enter
In Persian robes; to Alexander's health
They largely drank, and falling at his feet
With impious adoration thus address'd
Their idol god : hail, son of thund'ring Jove !
Hail, first of kings! young Ammon, live for ever!
Then kiss'd the ground, on which I laugh'd aloud,
And scoffing ask'd 'em why they kiss'd no harder ?
Whereon the tyrant, starting from his throne,
Spurn'd me to earth, and stamping on my neck,
Learn thou to kiss it, was his fierce reply,
While with his foot he press’d me to the earth
Till I lay welt’ring in a foam of blood.
Poly. Thus when I mock'd the Persians that ador'd
He struck me on the face,
And bid his guards chastise me like a slave:
But if he 'scape my vengeance may lie live
Great as that god whose name he thus profanes,
And like a slave may I again be beaten,
Scoff'd as I pass, and branded for a coward.
Cas. There spoke the spirit of Calisthenes.
Remember he's a man, his flesh as penetrable
As any girl's, and wounded too as soon;
To give him death no thunders are required :
Struck by a stone young Jupiter has fall’n,
A sword has pierc'd him and the blood has follow'd,
Water will drown him, or the fire will burn;
Nay, we have seen an hundred common aliments
Bring this immortal to the gates of death.
Poly. Oh let us not delay the glorious bus'ness ! Our wrongs are great, and honour calls for vengeance. Are your hearts firm?
Thes. As heaven or hell can make them.
Poly. Take then my hand, and if you doubt my truth Rip up my breast and lay my heart
it. Cas. While thus we join our hands and hearts to.
gether, Remember Hermolaus, and be hush'd.
Poly. Hush'd as the eve before an hurricane,
Or baneful planets when they shed their poisons.
Cas. This day exulting Babylon receives
The mighty robber-with him comes Roxana,
Fierce haughty fair I on his return from India
Artful she met him in the height of triumph ;
And by a thousand wiles at Susa kept him
In all the luxury of eastern revels.
Poly. How bore Statira his revolted love ?
For if I err not ere the king espous'd her
She made him promise to renounce Roxana.
Thes. No words can paint the anguish it occasion’d;
Ev’n Sysigambis wept, while the wrong’d queen,
Struck to the heart, fell lifeless on the ground,
And thus remain'd, spite of her care and cordials,
For an hour.
Cas. When the first tumult of her grief was laid I sought to fire her into wild revenge, And to that end with all the art I could Describ’d his passion for the bright Roxana; But tho’ I could not to my wish inflame her, Thus far at least her jealousy will help ; She 'll give him troubles that perhaps may end him, And set the court in universal uproar. But see, she comes. Our plots begin to ripen; Now change the vizor, ev'ry one disperse, And with a face of friendship meet the king. [Exeunt.
Enter SYSIGAMBIS, STATIRA, and PARISATIS.
Stat. Oh for a dagger, a draught of poison, flames ! Swell heart ! break, break, thou wretched stubborn
Now by the sacred fire I'll not be held !
Why do you wish my life, yet stifle me for
Want of air is
-Pray give me leave to walk.
Sys. Is there no rev’rence to my person due ?
Trust me, Statira, had thy father liv'd
Darius would have heard me.
Stat, Oh, he 's false !
This glorious man, this wonder of the world,
Is to his love and ev'ry god foresworn!
Oh! I have heard him breathe such ardent vows,
Outweep the morning with his dewy eyes,
And sigh and swear the list'ning stars away!
Sys. Believe not rumour; 't is impossible :
Thy Alexander is renown'd for truth,
Stat. Away, and let me die : 'Twas but my fondness, 't was my easy nature, Would have excus'd him,Are not his falsehoods and Statira's wrongs A subject canvass'd in the mouths of millions ? The babbling world can talk of nothing else. Why, Alexander, why would'st thou deceive me ! Have I not lov'd thee, cruel as thou art! Have I not kiss'd thy wounds with dying fondness, · Bath'd 'em in tears, and bound 'em with my hair ! Whole nights I ’ave sat and watch'd thee as a child, Lull’d thy fierce pains, and sung thee to repose !
Par. If man can thus renounce the solemn ties Of sacred love who would regard his vows?
Stat. Regard his vows! the monster, traitor! Oh!
I will forsake the haunts of men, converse
No more with aught that's human, dwell with dark.
For since the sight of him is now unwelcome,
What has the world to give Statira joy?
Yet I must tell thee, perjur'd as he is,
Not the soft breezes of the genial spring,