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Pregnant with stores that India's mines might envy, Th' accumulated wealth of toiling ages.
DEMETRIUS. That wealth, too sacred for their country's use That wealth too pleasing to be lost for freedom ! That wealth, which, granted to their weeping prince, Had rang’d embattled nations at our gates ! But, thus reserv'd to lure the wolves of Turkey, Adds shame to grief, and infamy to ruin. Lamenring Av'rice now too late discovers Her own neglected in the publick safety,
Reproach not misery. The sons of Greece,
Ill-fated race! so oft besieg'd in vain,
With false security beheld invasion.
Why should they fear :-That pow's that kindly
The clouds, a signal of impending show'rs,
To warn the wand'ring linnet to the shade,
Beheld without concern expiring Greece,
And not one prodigy foretold our fate.
A thousand horrid prodigies foretold it.
A feeble government, eluded laws,
A factious populace, luxurious nobles,
And all the maladies of sinking states.
When publick Villainy, too strong for justice,
Shews his bold front, the harbinger of ruin,
Can brave Leontius call for airy wonders,
Which ,cheats interpret, and which fools regard?
When some neglected fabrick nods beneath
The weight of years, and toţters to the tempest,
Must Heav'n dispa:ch the messengers of light,
Or wake the dead, to warn us of its fall?
Well might the weakness of our empire sink
Before such foes of more than human forces
Some Pow'r invisible, from Heav'n or Hell,
Conducts their armies, and asserts their cause.
And yet, my friend, what miracles were wrought
Beyond the pow'r of constancy and courage ?
Did unresisted lightning aid their cannon?
Did roaring whirlwinds sweep us from the ramparts?
'Twas vice that shook our nerves, 'twas vice, Leontius,
That froze our veins, and wither'd all our pow'rs.
Whate'er our crimes, our woes demand compassion,
Each night, protected by the friendly darkness,
Quitting my close retreat, I range the city,
And, weeping, kiss the venerable ruins ;
With silent pangs I view the tow'ring domes,
Sacred to pray'r ; and wander through the streets,
Where commerce lavish'd unexhausted plenty,
And jollity maintain'd eternal revels.
-How chang'd, alas !-Now ghastly Desolation
In triumph sits upon our shatter'd spires ;
Now superstition, ignorance, and error,
Usurp our temples, and profane our altars.
From ev'ry palace bursts a mingled clamour,
The dreadful dissonance of barb’rous triumph,
Shrieks of affright and wailings of distress,
Oft when the cries of violated beauty
Arose to Heav'n, and pierc'd my bleeding breast,
I felt thy pains, and trembled for Aspasia.
DEMETRIUS, Aspasia! spare that lov'd, that mournful name: Dear hapless maid--tempestuous grief o’erbears My reasoning pow'rs-Dear, hapless, lost Aspasia !
LEONTIUS, Suspend the thought.
All thought on her is madness;
Yet let me think I see the helpless maid,
Behold the monsters gaze with savage rapture,
Behold how lust and rapine struggle round her!
Awake, Demetrius, from this dismal dream,
Sink not beneath imaginary sorrows ;
Call to your
Think on the sudden change of human scenes ;
Think on the various accidents of war;
Think on the mighty power of awful virtue;
Think on that Providence that guards the good.
O Providence! extend thy care to me,
For Courage droops unequal to the combat,
And weak Philosophy denies her succours.
Sure some kind sabre in the heat of battle,
Ere yet the foe found leisure to be cruel,
Dismiss'd her to the sky,
Some virgin-martyr, Perhaps, enamour'd of resembling virtue, With gentle hand restrain'd the streams of life, And snatch'd her timely from her country's fate.
DEMETRIUS, From those bright regions of eternal day, Where now thou shin'st among thy fellow-saints, Array'd in purer light, look down on me: In pleasing visions and assuasive dreams, O! sooth my soul, and teach me how to lose thee.
LEONTIUS. Enough of unavailing tears, Demetrius: I came obedient to thy friendly summons, And hop'd to share thy counsels, not thy sorrows: While thus we mourn the fortune of Aspasia, To what are we reșertid?
To what I know not:
But hope, yet hope, to happiness and honour;
If happiness can be without Aspasia.
But whence this new-sprung hope ?
From Cali Bassa, The chief, whose wisdom guides the Turkish counsels. He, tir'd of slavery, though the highest slave, Projects at once our freedom and his own; And bids us thus disguis'd await him here.
LEONTIUS. Can he restore the state he could not save ? In vain, when Turkey's troops assail'd our walls, His kind intelligence betray'd their measures ; Their arms prevaild, though Cali was our friend.
DEMETRIUS. When the tenth sun had set upon our sorrows, At midnight's private hour, a voice unknown Sounds in my sleeping ear, “ Awake, Demetrius, " Awake, and follow me to better fortunes.' Surpriz'd I start, and bless the happy dream; Then, rouzing, know the fiery chief Abdalla, Whose quick impatience seiz'd my doubtful hand, And led me to the shore where Cali stood, Pensive and list’ning to the beating surge. There, in soft hints and in ambiguous phrase, With all the diffidence of long experience, That oft bad practis'd fraud, and oft detected, The vet'ran courtier half reveal'd his project. By his command, equipp'd for speedy flight, Deep in a winding creek a galley lies, Mann'd with the bravest of our fellow-captives, Selected by my care, a hardy band, That long to hail thee chief.
But what avails
So small a force? or why should Cali fly?
Or how can Cali's flight restore our country?
Reserve these questions for a safer hour;
Or hear himself, for see the Bassa comes.
DEMETRIUS, LEONTIUS, CALI BASSA.
Now summon all thy soul, illustrious Christian!
Awake each faculty that sleeps within thee,
The courtier's policy, the sage's firmness,
The warrior's ardour, and the patriot's zeal :
If, chasing past events with vain pursuit,
Or wand'ring in the wilds of future being,
A single thought now rove, recall it home.
But can thy friend sustain the glorious cause,
The cause of liberty, the cause of nations
Observe him closely with a statesman's eye,
Thou that hast long perus’d the draughts of Nature,
And know’st the characters of vice and virtue,
Left by the hand of Heav'n on human clay.
His mien is lofty, his demeanour great;
Nor sprightly folly wantons in his air,
Nor dull serenity becalns his eyes.
Such had I trusted once as soon as seen,
But cautious age suspects the flatt'ring form,
And only credits what experience tells.