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Is but the path. What is it that we seek ? Enjoyment! We have cut the way short to it,

And not gone tracking it through human ashes,

Making a grave with every footstep.
Zam.

No;

All hearts are happy, and all voices bless The king of peace, who holds a world in

jubilee.

Sar. Art sure of that? I have heard
otherwise;

Some say that there be traitors.
Zam.
Traitors they
Who dare to say so!-'T is impossible.
What cause?

Sar. What cause? true, fill the goblet up; We will not think of them: there are none such,

Or if there be, they are gone.
Alt.
Guests, to my pledge!
Down on your knees, and drink a measure

to

The safety of the king the monarch, say

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21

The god Sardanapalus!

[ZAMES and the Guests kneel, and exclaim —

Mightier than His father Baal, the god Sardanapalus ! [It thunders as they kneel; some start up in confusion. Zam. Why do you rise, my friends? in that strong peal

His father gods consented.

Myr. Menaced, rather. King, wilt thou bear this mad impiety? 31 Sar. Impiety!-nay, if the sires who reign'd

Before me can be gods, I'll not disgrace

Their lineage. But arise, my pious friends; Hoard your devotion for the thunderer there:

I seek but to be loved, not worshipp'd.
Alt.

Both Both you must ever be by all true subjects.

Sar. Methinks the thunders still in-
crease: it is

An awful night.
Myr.
Oh yes, for those who have
No palace to protect their worshippers. 40
Sar. That's true, my Myrrha; and could
I convert

My realm to one wide shelter for the
wretched,
I'd do it.

Myr. Thou 'rt no god, then, not to be Able to work a will so good and general As thy wish would imply.

Sar.

And your gods, then,

Who can and do not?
Myr.

Do not speak of that,

Lest we provoke them.
Sar.
True, they love not censure
Better than mortals. Friends, a thought
has struck me:

Were there no temples, would there, think ye, be

49

Air worshippers? that is, when it is angry And pelting as even now.

The Persian prays

Myr.
Upon his mountain.

Sar.
Yes, when the sun shines.
Myr. And I would ask, if this your pal-

ace were

Unroof'd and desolate, how many flatterers Would lick the dust in which the king lay low?

Alt. The fair Ionian is too sarcastic Upon a nation whom she knows not well; The Assyrians know no pleasure but their king's,

And homage is their pride.
Sar.
Nay, pardon, guests,
The fair Greek's readiness of speech.
Alt.
Pardon! sire: 60
We honour her of all things next to thee.
Hark! what was that?

Zam.
That! nothing but the jar
Of distant portals shaken by the wind.
Alt. It sounded like the clash of hark

again! Zam. The big rain pattering on the roof. Sar. No more.

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Pan. Prince Salemenes doth implore the king

To arm himself, although but for a moment, And show himself unto the soldiers: his Sole presence in this instant might do more Than hosts can do in his behalf.

What, ho!

Sar.
My armour there.

Myr.

Sar. Will I not? Ho, there! But seek not for the buckler: 't is Too heavy: :-a light cuirass and my sword. Where are the rebels?

100

Pan. Scarce a furlong's length From the outward wall the fiercest conflict rages.

Sar. Then I may charge on horseback. Sfero, ho!

Order my horse out.

There is space

And wilt thou?

enough

Even in our courts and by the outer gate,
To marshal half the horsemen of Arabia.
[Exit SFERO for the armour.
Myr. How I do love thee!
Sar.
I ne'er doubted it.
Myr. But now I know thee.
Sar. (to his Attendant). Bring down my
spear too,
Where's Salemenes?
Pan.
Where a soldier should be,
In the thick of the fight.
Sar.
Then hasten to him - Is
The path still open, and communication
Left 'twixt the palace and the phalanx ?

109

Pan. "T was When I late left him, and I have no fear: Our troops were steady, and the phalanx form'd.

for the

Sar. Tell him to spare his person present, And that I will not spare my ownsay,

and

I come.

Pan. There's victory in the very word. [Exit PANIA. forth, and arm

Sar. Altada Zames
ye! There

Is all in readiness in the armoury.
See that the women are bestow'd in safety
In the remote apartments: let a guard
Be set before them, with strict charge to

command

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quit The post but with their lives it, Zames.

120

Altada, arm yourself and return here;
Your post is near our person.

[Exeunt ZAMES, ALTADA, and all save MYRRHA. Enter SFERO and others with the King's Arms, etc. Sfe. King! your armour. Sar. (arming himself). Give me the cuirass so: my baldric; now My sword: I had forgot the helm — where is it? That's well- no, 't is too heavy: you mistake, too It was not this I meant, but that which bears

130

A diadem around it.

Sfe.

Sire, I deem'd That too conspicuous from the precious

stones

To risk your sacred brow beneath — and

trust me,

This is of better metal, though less rich.

Sar. You deem'd! Are you too turn'd
a rebel? Fellow!

Your part is to obey: return, and -no
It is too late - I will go forth without it.
Sfe. At least, wear this.
Sar.

Wear Caucasus! why, 't is
A mountain on my temples.
Sfe.
Sire, the meanest
Soldier goes not forth thus exposed to
battle.
All men will recognise you - for the storm
Has ceased, and the moon breaks forth in
her brightness.

140

Sar. I go forth to be recognised, and thus

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Shall be so sooner. Now my spear!

I'm arm'd.

--

[In going stops short and turns to SFERO. Sfero - I had forgotten — bring the mirror. Sfe. The mirror, sire? Sar. Yes, sir, of polish'd brass, Brought from the spoils of India — but be speedy. [Exit SPERO. Sar. Myrrha, retire unto a place of safety. Why went you not forth with the other

damsels ?

149

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once more

170

Love me, whate'er betide. My chiefest glory

Shall be to make me worthier of
your love.
Myr. Go forth, and conquer !
[Exeunt SARDANAPALUS and SFERO.
Now, I am alone.
All are gone forth, and of that all how few
Perhaps return. Let him but vanquish,
and

Me perish! If he vanquish not, I perish;
For I will not outlive him. He has wound
About my heart, I know not how nor why.
Not for that he is king; for now his king-
dom
Rocks underneath his throne, and the earth

180

yawns

To yield him no more of it than a grave; And yet I love him more. Oh, mighty

Jove! Forgive this monstrous love for a barba

rian Who knows not of Olympus! Yes, I love him

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And the foe too; and in the moon's broad light,

His silk tiara and his flowing hair
Make him a mark too royal. Every arrow
Is pointed at the fair hair and fair fea-
tures,
And the broad fillet which crowns both.
Myr.
Ye gods,
Who fulminate o'er my father's land, pro-
tect him!

Were you sent by the king?
Alt.
By Salemenes,
Who sent me privily upon this charge, 211
Without the knowledge of the careless
sovereign.

The king, the king fights as he revels. Ho! What, Sfero! I will seek the armoury He must be there. [Erit ALTADA. "T is no dishonour

Myr.

no

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mour,

And a Greek bard his minstrel, a Greek tomb

His monument. How goes the strife, sir?

Enter an Officer.

Lost,

Officer.
Lost almost past recovery. Zames! Where
Is Zames?

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women.

Myr. Posted with the guard appointed
To watch before the apartment of the
[Exit Officer.
Myr. (sola). He's gone; and told no more
than that all's lost!
What need have I to know more? In those
words,

Those little words, a kingdom and a king,
A line of thirteen ages, and the lives
Of thousands, and the fortune of all left
With life, are merged; and I, too, with the
great,

Like a small bubble breaking with the

wave

Which bore it, shall be nothing. At the
least,

My fate is in my keeping: no proud victor
Shall count me with his spoils.

Enter PANIA.

Pan.

Away with me, 240
Myrrha, without delay; we must not lose
A moment all that's left us now.

Enter SARDANAPALUS and SALEMENES with Soldiers.
PANIA quits MYRRHA, and ranges himself with them.
Sar.
Since it is thus,
We'll die where we were born-in our
own halls.

Serry your ranks stand firm. I have
despatch'd

A trusty satrap for the guard of Zames, 260
All fresh and faithful; they 'll be here anon.
All is not over.
231
Pania, look to Myrrha.

[PANIA returns towards MYRRHA.
Sal. We have breathing time: yet once
more charge, my friends
One for Assyria!

Myr.

The king? Pan. Sent me here to conduct you hence,

beyond

The river, by a secret passage.

Then

Myr.
He lives-
Pan.
And charged me to secure
your life,
And beg you to live on for his sake till
He can rejoin you.

Myr.

Pan. Not till the last. Still, still he does whate'er

Will he then give way

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Sar.
Rather say for Bactria !
My faithful Bactrians, I will henceforth be
King of your nation, and we'll hold together
This realm as province.

Sal. Hark! they come — - they come.

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