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Cas. Oh, princess ! had you seen his wild despair, Had you beheld him when he heard her vow, Words would but wrong the agonies he felt; He fainted thrice, and life seem'd fled for ever ; And when by our assidious care recall'd, He snatch'd his sword, and aim'd it at his breast; Then rail'd at you with most unheard of curses.
Rox. If I forget it may'st thou, Jove, deprive me Of vengeance, make me the most wretched thing On earth while living, and when dead the lowest Of the fiends.
Cas. Oh, nobly said !
Just is the vengeance which inflames your soul ;
Your wrongs demand it-but let reason govern ;
This wild rage else may disappoint your aims.
Rox. Away, away, and give a whirlwind room!
Pride, indignation, fury, and contempt,
War in my breast, and torture me to madness.
Cas. Oh! think not I would check your boldest
No I approve 'em, and will aid your vengeance :
But, princess, let us choose the safest course;
Or we may give our foes new cause of triumph,
Should they discover and prevent our purpose.
Rox. Fear not, Cassander, nothing shall prevent it,
Roxana dooms him, and her voice is fate.
My soul from childhood has aspir'd to empire ;
In early nonage I was us'd ro reign
Among my she companions; I despis'd
The trilling arts and little wiles of women,
And taught them with an Amazonian spirit
To win the steed, to chase the foaming boar;
And conquer man, the lawless, charter'd savage.
Cas. Her words, her looks, her every motion, fires
Rox. But when I heard of Alexander's fame,
How with a handful he had conquer'd millions,
Spoil'd all the east, and captive led our queens,
Unconquer'd by their charms,
With heavenly pity he assuag'd their woes,
Dry'd up their tears, and sooth'd them into peace,
I hung attentive on my father's lips,
And wish'd him tell the wondrous tale again.
No longer pleasing were my former sports,
Love had it's turn, and all the woman reign’d:
Involuntary sighs heav'd in my breast,
And glowing blushes crimson'd on my cheek;
Even in my slumbers I have often mourn'd
In plaintive sounds, and murmur'd, Alexander.
Cas. Curse on his name-she doats upon him still. Lirieker
Rox. At length this conqueror to Zogdia came,
And cover'd o'er with laurels storm'd the city :
But oh, Cassander | where shall I find words
To paint th' ecstatic transports of my soul ;
When midst the circle of unrivall'd beauties
I saw myself distinguish'd by the hero!
With artless rapture I receiv'd his vows,
The warmest sure that lover ever breath'd
Of fervent love and everlasting truth.
Cas. And need you then be told those times are past !
Statira now engrosses all his thoughts;
The Persian queen without a rival reigns
Sole mistress of his heart-nor can thy charms,
The brightest sure that ever woman boasted,
Nor all his vows of everlasting love,
Secure Roxana from disdain and insult.
Rox. Oh, thou hast rous'd the lion in my soul!
Hal shall the dai er of Darius hold him ?
No, 't is resolv'd; I will resume my sphere,
Or falling, spread a general ruin round me.
Roxana and Statira ! they are names
That must for ever jar;
When they encounter, thunder must ensue.
Cas. Behold she comes in all the pomp of sorrow, Determin'd to fulfil her solemn vow.
Enter SY SIGAMBIS and STATIRA. Rox. Away, and let'us mark th' important scene. -Sys. Oh, my Statiral how has passion chang'd theel Think in the rage of disappointed love, If treated thus and hurry'd to extremes, What Alexander may denounce against us, Against the poor remains of lost Darius.
Stat. Oh, fear not that! I know he will be kind, For my sake kind, to you and Parisatis. Tell him I rail'd not at his falsehood to me, But with my parting breath spoke kindly of him ; Tell him I wept at our divided loves, And sighing sent a last forgiveness to him.
Sys. No, I can ne'er again presume to meet him,
Never approach the much-wrong'd Alexander,
If thou refuse to see him-Oh,' Statira !
Thy aged mother and thy weeping country
Claim thy regard and challenge thy compassion :
Hear us, my child, and lift us from despair.
Siat. Thus low I cast me at your royal feet
To bathe them with my tears; or if you please
I'll let out life and wash 'em with my blood;
But I conjure thee not to rack my soul,
Nor hurry my wild thoughts to perfect madness:
Should now Darius' awful ghost appear,
And you, my mother, stand b:seeching by,
I would persist to death and keep my vow.
Rox. This fortitude of soul compels my wonder.
Sys. Hence from my sight! ungrateful wretch bee
Hence to some desert,
And hide thee where bright virtue never shone;
For in the sight of Heaven I here renounce
And cast thee off, an alien to my blood. [Exit Sys.
Rox. [Comes forward.] Forgive, great queen, th'
intrusion of a stranger;
With grief Roxana sees Statira weep:
I’ave heard and much applaud your fixt resolve
To quit the world for Alexander's sake ;
And yet I fear so greatly he adores you
That he will rather choose to die of sorrow
Than live for the despisd Roxana's charms.
Stat. Spare, madam, spare your counterfeited fears ;
You know your beauty and have proved it's power :
Tho' humbly born, have you not captive held
In love's soft chains the conqueror of the world!
Away to libertines and boast thy conquest,
A shameful conquest! In his hour of riot
Then, only then, Roxana could surprise
My Alexander's heart.
Rox. To some romantic grove's sequester'd gloom
Thy sickly virtue would it seems retire
To shun the triumphs of a favour'd rival:
In vain thou fly'st-for there, even there, I 'll haunt
thee, Plague thee all day, and torture thee all night: There thou shalt hear in what ecstatic joys Roxana revels with the first of men ; And as thou hear'st the rapt'rous scene recited, With frantic jealousy thou 'lt madly curse Thy own weak charms that could not fix the rover.
Stat. How weak is woman! at the storm she shrinks, Dreads the drawn sword and trembles at the thunder; Yet when strong jealousy inflames her soul The sword may glitter and the tempest roar; She scorns the danger and provokes her fate. Rival, I thank thee-thou hast fir'd my soul, And rais'd a storm beyond thy power to lay ; Soon shalt thou tremble at the dire effects, And curse too late the folly that undid thee.
Rox. Sure the disdain'd Statira dares not mean it.
Stat. By all my hopes of happiness I dare : And know, proud woman, what a mother's threats, A sister's sighs, and Alexander's tears,