Mont. What can this gift, he bids me ask him, be! Perhaps he has perceived our mutual fires, And now, with ours, would crown his own desires; 'Tis so, he sees my service is above All other payments but his daughter's love.
Inca. So quick to merit, and to take so slow? I first prevent small wishes, and bestow This prince, his sword and fortunes, to thy hand; He's thine unasked; now make thy free demand.
Mont. Here, prince, receive this sword, as only due
[Gives ACACIS his sword.
To that excess of courage shown in you.— When you, without demand, a prince bestow, Less than a prince to ask of you were low.
Inca. Then ask a kingdom; say, where thou wilt reign.
Mont. I beg not empires, those my sword can gain; But, for my past and future service too, What I have done, and what I mean to do; For this of Mexico which I have won, And kingdoms I will conquer yet unknown; I only ask from fair Orazia's eyes To reap the fruits of all my victories.
1 Peru. Our Inca's colour mounts into his face.
2 Peru. His looks speak death.
Inca. Young man of unknown race, Ask once again; so well thy merits plead, Thou shall not die for that which thou hast said; The price of what thou ask'st, thou dost not know; That gift's too high.
Mont. And all besides too low.
Inca. Once more I bid thee ask.
Mont. Once more I make The same demand.
Inca. The Inca bids thee take Thy choice, what towns, what kingdoms thou would'st have.
Mont. Thou giv'st me only what before I gave. Give me thy daughter.
Inca. Thou deserv'st to die. O thou great author of our progeny, Thou glorious sun, dost thou not blush to shine, While such base blood attempts to mix with thine!
Mont. That sun, thou speak'st of, did not hide his face, When he beheld me conquering with his race.
Inca. My fortunes gave thee thy success in fight! Convey thy boasted valour from my sight; I can o'ercome without thy feeble aid.
[Exeunt Inca, ORAZIA, and Peruvians.
Mont. And is it thus my services are paid? Not all his guards—
[Offers to go, ACACIS holds him.
Aca. Hold, sir.
Mont. Unhand me.
Aca. No, I must your rage prevent From doing what your reason would repent; Like the vast seas, your mind no limits knows, Like them, lies open to each wind that blows.
Mont. Can a revenge, that is so just, be ill?
Aca. It is Orazia's father, you would kill.
Mont. Orazia! how that name has charmed my sword!
Aca. Compose these wild distempers in your breast; Anger, like madness, is appeased by rest.
Mont. Bid children sleep, my spirits boil too high; But, since Orazia's father must not die, A nobler vengeance shall my actions guide; I'll bear the conquest to the conquered side, Until this Inca for my friendship sues, And proffers what his pride does now refuse.
Aca. Your honour is obliged to keep your trust.
Mont. He broke that bond, in ceasing to be just.
Aca. Subjects to kings should more obedience pay.
Mont. Subjects are bound, not strangers, to obey.
Aca. Can you so little your Orazia prize, To give the conquest to her enemies? Can you so easily forego her sight? I, that hold liberty more dear than light, Yet to my freedom should my chains prefer, And think it were well lost to stay with her.
Mont. How unsuccessfully I still o'ercome! I brought a rival, not a captive, home; Yet I may be deceived; but 'tis too late To clear those doubts, my stay brings certain fate. [Aside. Come, prince, you shall to Mexico return, Where your sad armies do your absence mourn; And in one battle I will gain you more Than I have made you lose in three before.
Aca. No, Montezuma, though you change your side, I, as a prisoner, am by honour tied.
Mont. You are my prisoner, and I set you free.
Aca. 'Twere baseness to accept such liberty.
Mont. From him, that conquered you, it should be sought.
Aca. No, but from him, for whom my conqueror fought.
Mont. Still you are mine, his gift has made you so.
Aca. He gave me to his general, not his foe.
Mont. How poorly have you pleaded honour's laws! Yet shun the greatest in your country's cause.
Aca. What succour can the captive give the free.
Mont. A needless captive is an enemy. In painted honour you would seem to shine; But 'twould be clouded, were your wrongs like mine.
Aca. When choler such unbridled power can have, Thy virtue seems but thy revenge's slave: If such injustice should my honour stain, My aid would prove my nation's loss, not gain.
Mont. Be cozened by thy guilty honesty, To make thyself thy country's enemy.
Aca. I do not mean in the next fight to stain My sword in blood of any Mexican, But will be present in the fatal strife, To guard Orazia's and the Inca's life.
Mont. Orazia's life, fond man! First guard thy own; Her safety she must owe to me alone.
Aca. Your sword, that does such wonders, cannot be, In an ill cause, secure of victory.
Mont. Hark, hark! [Noise of trampling.
Aca. What noise is this invades my ear? Fly, Montezuma! fly, the guards are near: To favour your retreat, I'll freely pay That life, which you so frankly gave this day.
Mont. I must retire; but those, that follow me, Pursue their deaths, and not their victory.
Aca. Our quarrels kinder than our friendships prove: You for my country fight, I for your love.
Enter INCA and Guards.
Inca. I was to blame to leave this madman free; Perhaps he may revolt to the enemy, Or stay, and raise some fatal mutiny.
Aca. Stop your pursuits, for they must pass through me.
Inca. Where is the slave?
Aca. O'er the plain; Where he may soon the camp, or city, gain.
Inca. Curse on my dull neglect! And yet I do less cause of wonder find, That he is gone, than that thou stayest behind.
Aca. My treatment, since you took me, was so free, It wanted but the name of liberty. I with less shame can still your captive live, Than take that freedom, which you did not give.
Inca. Thou brave young man, that hast thy years outdone, And, losing liberty, hast honour won, I must myself thy honour's rival make, And give that freedom, which thou would'st not take. Go, and be safe.—
Aca. But that you may be so— Your dangers must be past before I go. Fierce Montezuma will for fight prepare, And bend on you the fury of the war, Which, by my presence, I will turn away, If fortune gives my Mexicans the day.
Inca. Come, then, we are alike to honour just, Thou to be trusted thus, and I to trust. [Exeunt.
Enter ZEMPOALLA, TRAXALLA, and attendants.
Zemp. O my Acacis! Does not my grief, Traxalla, seem too rude, Thus to press out before my gratitude Has paid my debts to you?—yet it does move My rage and grief, to see those powers above Punish such men, as, if they be divine, They know will most adore, and least repine.
Trax. Those, that can only mourn when they are crost, May lose themselves with grieving for the lost. Rather to your retreated troops appear, And let them see a woman void of fear: The shame of that may call their spirits home. Were the prince safe, we were not overcome, Though we retired: O, his too youthful heat, That thrust him where the dangers were so great! Heaven wanted power his person to protect From that, which he had courage to neglect: But since he's lost, let us draw forth, and pay His funeral rites in blood; that we or they May, in our fates, perform his obsequies, And make death triumph when Acacis dies.
Zemp. That courage, thou hast shown in fight, seems less Than this, amidst despair to have excess: Let thy great deeds force fate to change her mind: He, that courts fortune boldly, makes her kind.
Trax. If e'er Traxalla so successful proves, May he then say he hopes, as well as loves; And that aspiring passion boldly own, Which gave my prince his fate, and you his throne? I did not feel remorse to see his blood Flow from the spring of life into a flood; Nor did it look like treason, since to me You were a sovereign much more great than he.
Zemp. He was my brother, yet I scorned to pay Nature's mean debts, but threw those bonds away; When his own issue did my hopes remove, Not only from his empire, but his love. You, that in all my wrongs then bore a part, Now need not doubt a place within my heart: I could not offer you my crown and bed, Till fame and envy with long time were dead; But fortune does now happily present Occasions, fit to second my intent. Your valour may regain the public love, And make the people's choice their queen's approve.
Hark, hark, what noise is this, that strikes my ear!
Trax. 'Tis not a sound that should beget a fear; Such shouts as these have I heard often fly From conquering armies, crowned with victory.
Zemp. Great God of vengeance, here I firmly vow, Make but my Mexicans successful now, And with a thousand feasts thy flames I'll feed; And that I take shall on the altars bleed; Princes themselves shall fall, and make thy shrine, Died with their blood, in glorious blushes shine.
Enter a Messenger.
Trax. How now! What news is this that makes thy haste a flight?
Mess. Such as brings victory without a fight. The prince Acacis lives—
Zemp. Oh, I am blest!—
Mess. Reserve some joy till I have told the rest. He's safe, and only wants his liberty: But that great man, that carries victory Where'er he goes; that mighty man, by whom In three set battles we were overcome; Ill used (it seems) by his ungrateful king, Does to our camp his fate and valour bring. The troop gaze on him, as if some bright star Shot to their aids; call him the god of war: Whilst he, as if all conquest did of right Belong to him, bids them prepare to fight; Which if they should delay one hour, he swears He'll leave them to their dangers, or their fears, And shame, which is the ignoble coward's choice. At this the army seemed to have one voice, United in a shout, and called upon The god-like stranger, "Lead us, lead us on." Make haste, great sir, lest you should come too late, To share with them in victory, or fate.
Zemp. My general, go; the gods be on our side; Let valour act, but let discretion guide.
Great god of vengeance, I see thou dost begin to hear me now: Make me thy offering, if I break my vow. [Exeunt.
ACT II. SCENE I.
Enter INCA and ORAZIA, as pursued in a battle.
Oraz. O fly, sir, fly; like torrents your swift foes Come rolling on—
Inca. The gods can but destroy. The noblest way to fly is that death shows; I'll court her now, since victory's grown coy.
Oraz. Death's winged to your pursuit, and yet you wait To meet her—
Inca. Poor Orazia, time and fate Must once o'ertake me, though I now should fly.
Oraz. Do not meet death; but when it comes, then die.
Enter three Soldiers.
3 Sold. Stand, sir, and yield yourself, and that fair prey.
Inca. You speak to one, unpractised to obey.
Mont. Hold, villains, hold, or your rude lives shall be Lost in the midst of your own victory: These have I hunted for;—nay, do not stare; Be gone, and in the common plunder share.
How different is my fate, from theirs, whose fame From conquest grows! from conquest grows my shame.
Inca. Why dost thou pause? thou canst not give me back, With fruitless grief, what I enjoyed before; No more than seas, repenting of a wreck, Can with a calm our buried wealth restore.
Mont. 'Twere vain to own repentance, since I know Thy scorn, which did my passions once despise, Once more would make my swelling anger flow, Which now ebbs lower than your miseries: The gods, that in my fortunes were unkind, Gave me not sceptres, nor such gilded things; But, whilst I wanted crowns, enlarged my mind To despise sceptres, and dispose of kings.
Inca. Thou art but grown a rebel by success, And I, that scorned Orazia should be tied To thee my slave, must now esteem thee less: Rebellion is a greater guilt than pride.
Mont. Princes see others' faults, but not their own; 'Twas you that broke that bond, and set me free: Yet I attempted not to climb your throne, And raise myself; but level you to me.
Oraz. O, Montezuma, could thy love engage Thy soul so little, or make banks so low About thy heart, that thy revenge and rage, Like sudden floods, so soon should overflow? Ye gods, how much I was mistaken here! I thought you gentle as the gall-less dove; But you as humoursome as winds appear, And subject to more passions than your love.
Mont. How have I been betrayed by guilty rage, Which, like a flame, rose to so vast a height, That nothing could resist, nor yet assuage, Till it wrapt all things in one cruel fate. But I'll redeem myself, and act such things, That you shall blush Orazia was denied; And yet make conquest, though with wearied wings, Take a new flight to your own fainting side.
Inca. Vain man, what foolish thoughts fill thy swelled mind! It is too late our ruin to recall; Those, that have once great buildings undermined, Will prove too weak to prop them in their fall.
Enter TRAXALLA, with the former soldiers.
1 Sold. See, mighty sir, where the bold stranger stands, Who snatched these glorious prisoners from our hands.
Trax. 'Tis the great Inca; seize him as my prey, To crown the triumphs of this glorious day.
Mont. Stay your bold hands from reaching at what's mine, If any title springs from victory; You safer may attempt to rob a shrine, And hope forgiveness from the deity.
Trax. O, my dear prince, my joys to see you live Are more than all that victory can give.
Aca. How are my best endeavours crost by fate! Else you had ne'er been lost, or found so late. Hurried by the wild fury of the fight, Far from your presence, and Orazia's sight, I could not all that care and duty show, Which, as your captive, mighty prince, I owe.
Inca. You often have preserved our lives this day, And one small debt with many bounties pay. But human actions hang on springs, that be Too small, or too remote, for us to see. My glories freely I to yours resign, And am your prisoner now, that once were mine.
Mont. These prisoners, sir, are mine by right of war; And I'll maintain that right, if any dare.
Trax. Yes, I would snatch them from thy weak defence; But that due reverence, which I owe my prince, Permits me not to quarrel in his sight; To him I shall refer his general's right.
Mont. I knew too well what justice I should find From an armed plaintiff, and a judge so kind.
Aca. Unkindly urged, that I should use thee so; Thy virtue is my rival, not my foe; The prisoners fortune gave thee shall be thine.
Trax. Would you so great a prize to him resign?
Aca. Should he, who boldly for his prey designed To dive the deepest under swelling tides, Have the less title if he chance to find The richest jewel that the ocean hides? They are his due— But in his virtue I repose that trust, That he will be as kind as I am just: Dispute not my commands, but go with haste, Rally our men, they may pursue too fast, And the disorders of the inviting prey May turn again the fortune of the day.
Mont. How gentle all this prince's actions be! Virtue is calm in him, but rough in me.
Aca. Can Montezuma place me in his breast?
Mont. My heart's not large enough for such a guest.
Aca. See, Montezuma, see, Orazia weeps.
Mont. Acacis! is he deaf, or, waking, sleeps? He does not hear me, sees me not, nor moves; How firm his eyes are on Orazia fixt! Gods, that take care of men, let not our loves Become divided by their being mixt.
Aca. Weep not, fair princess, nor believe you are A prisoner, subject to the chance of war; Why should you waste the stock of those fair eyes, That from mankind can take their liberties? And you, great sir, think not a generous mind To virtuous princes dares appear unkind, Because those princes are unfortunate, Since over all men hangs a doubtful fate: One gains by what another is bereft; The frugal deities have only left A common bank of happiness below, Maintained, like nature, by an ebb and flow.
ZEMPOALLA _appears seated upon a throne, frowning upon her attendants; then comes down and speaks.
Zemp_. No more, you, that above your prince's dare proclaim, With your rebellious breath, a stranger's name.
1 Peru. Dread empress—
Zemp. Slaves, perhaps you grieve to see Your young prince glorious, 'cause he sprang from me; Had he been one of base Amexia's brood, Your tongues, though silent now, had then been loud.
Traxalla, welcome; welcomer to me Than what thou bring'st, a crown and victory.
Trax. All I have done is nothing; fluttering fame Now tells no news, but of the stranger's name, And his great deeds; 'tis he, they cry, by whom Not men, but war itself is overcome; Who, bold with his success, dares think to have A prince to wear his chains, and be his slave.
Zemp. What prince?
Trax. The great Peruvian Inca, that of late In three set battles was so fortunate, Till this strange man had power to turn the tide, And carry conquest into any side.
Zemp. Would you permit a private man to have The great Peruvian Inca for his slave? Shame to all princes! was it not just now I made a sacred, and a solemn vow, To offer up (if blest with victory) The prisoners that were took? and they shall die.
Trax. I soon had snatched from this proud stranger's hand That too great object for his bold demand; Had not the prince, your son, to whom I owe A kind obedience, judged it should be so.
Zemp. I'll hear no more; go quickly take my guards, And from that man force those usurped rewards; That prince, upon whose ruins I must rise, Shall be the gods', but more my sacrifice: They, with my slaves, in triumph shall be tied, While my devotion justifies my pride: Those deities, in whom I place my trust, Shall see, when they are kind, that I am just. [Exit.
Trax. How gladly I obey! There's something shoots from my enlivened frame, Like a new soul, but yet without a name, Nor can I tell what the bold guest will prove; It must be envy, or it must be love: Let it be either, 'tis the greatest bliss For man to grant himself, all he dares wish; For he, that to himself himself denies, Proves meanly wretched, to be counted wise. [Exit TRAXALLA.
Enter MONTEZUMA and ACACIS.
Aca. You wrong, me, my best friend, not to believe Your kindness gives me joy; and when I grieve, Unwillingly my sorrows I obey: Showers sometimes fall upon a shining day.
Mont.. Let me, then, share your griefs, that in your fate Would have took part.
Aca. Why should you ask me that? Those must be mine, though I have such excess; Divided griefs increase, and not grow less.
Mont. It does not lessen fate, nor satisfy The grave, 'tis true, when friends together die; And yet they are unwilling to divide.
Aca. To such a friend nothing can be denied. You, when you hear my story, will forgive My grief, and rather wonder that I live; Unhappy in my title to a throne, Since blood made way for my succession: Blood of an uncle too, a prince so free From being cruel, it taught cruelty. His queen Amexia then was big with child; Nor was he gentler than his queen was mild; Th'impatient people longed for what should come From such a father, bred in such a womb; When false Traxalla, weary to obey, Took with his life their joys and hopes away. Amexia, by the assistance of the night, When this dark deed was acted, took her flight; Only with true Garucca for her aid: Since when, for all the searches that were made, The queen was never heard of more: Yet still This traitor lives, and prospers by the ill: Nor does my mother seem to reign alone, But with this monster shares the guilt and throne. Horror choaks up my words: now you'll believe, 'Tis just I should do nothing else but grieve.
Mont. Excellent prince! How great a proof of virtue have you shown, To be concerned for griefs, though not your own!
Aca. Pray, say no more.
Enter a Messenger hastily.
Mont. How now, whither so fast?
Mess. O sir, I come too slow with all my haste! The fair Orazia—
Mont. Ha, what dost thou say?
Mess. Orazia with the Inca's forced away Out of your tent; Traxalla, in the head Of the rude soldiers, forced the door, and led, Those glorious captives, who on thrones once shined, To grace the triumph, that is now designed. [Exit.
Mont. Orazia forced away!—what tempests roll About my thoughts, and toss my troubled soul! Can there be gods to see, and suffer this? Or does mankind make his own fate or bliss; While every good and bad happens by chance, Not from their orders, but their ignorance?— I will pull a ruin on them all, And turn their triumph to a funeral.
Aca. Be temperate, friend.
Mont. You may as well advise That I should have less love, as grow more wise.
Aca. Yet stay—I did not think to have revealed A secret, which my heart has still concealed; But, in this cause since I must share with you, 'Tis fit you know—I love Orazia too: Delay not then, nor waste the time in words, Orazia's cause calls only for our swords.
Mont. That ties my hand, and turns from thee that rage Another way, thy blood should else assuage: The storm on our proud foes shall higher rise, And, changing, gather blackness as it flies: So, when winds turn, the wandering waves obey, And all the tempest rolls another way.
Aca. Draw then a rival's sword, as I draw mine. And, like friends suddenly to part, let's join In this one act, to seek one destiny; Rivals with honour may together die. [Exeunt.
ACT III. SCENE I.
ZEMPOALLA appears seated upon her Slaves in triumph, and the Indians, as to celebrate the victory, advance in a warlike dance; in the midst of which triumph, ACACIS and MONTEZUMA fall in upon them.
ZEMPOALLA _descends from her triumphant throne, and_ ACACIS _and_ MONTEZUMA _are brought in before her.
Zemp_. Shame of my blood, and traitor to thy own: Born to dishonour, not command a throne! Hast thou, with envious eyes, my triumph seen? Or couldst not see thy mother in thy queen? Couldst thou a stranger above me prefer?
Aca. It was my honour made my duty err; I could not see his prisoners forced away, To whom I owed my life, and you the day.
Zemp. Is that young man the warrior so renowned?
Mont. Yes, he, that made thy men thrice quit their ground. Do, smile at Montezuma's chains; but know, His valour gave thee power to use him so.
Trax. Grant that it did, what can his merits be, That sought his vengeance, not our victory? What has thy brutish fury gained us more, Than only healed the wounds, it gave before? Die then, for, whilst thou liv'st, wars cannot cease; Thou may'st bring victory, but never peace. Like a black storm thou roll'st about us all, Even to thyself unquiet, till thy fall. [Draws to kill him.
Aca. Unthankful villain, hold!
Trax. You must not give Him succour, sir.
Aca. Why then, I must not live. Posterity shall ne'er report, they had Such thankless fathers, or a prince so bad.
Zemp. You're both too bold to will or to deny: On me alone depends his destiny. Tell me, audacious stranger, whence could rise The confidence of this rash enterprise?
Mont. First tell me, how you dared to force from me The fairest spoils of my own victory?
Zemp. Kill him—hold, must he die?—why, let him die;— Whence should proceed this strange diversity. In my resolves? Does he command in chains? What would he do, Proud slave, if he were free, and I were so? But is he bound, ye gods, or am I free? 'Tis love, 'tis love, that thus disorders me. How pride and love tear my divided soul! For each too narrow, yet both claim it whole: Love, as the younger, must be forced away.— Hence with the captives, general, and convey To several prisons that young man, and this Peruvian woman.
Trax. How concerned she is! I must know more.
Mont. Fair princess, why should I Involve that sweetness in my destiny? I could out-brave my death, were I alone To suffer, but my fate must pull yours on. My breast is armed against all sense of fear; But where your image lies, 'tis tender there.
Inca. Forbear thy saucy love, she cannot be So low, but still she is too high for thee.
Zemp. Be gone, and do as I command; away!
Mont. I ne'er was truly wretched till this day.
Oraz. Think half your sorrows on Orazia fall, And be not so unkind to suffer all: Patience, in cowards, is tame hopeless fear, But, in brave minds, a scorn of what they bear. [Exit Inca, MONTEZUMA, ORAZIA, and TRAXALLA.
Zemp. What grief is this which in your face appears?
Aca. The badge of sorrow, which my soul still wears.
Zemp. Though thy late actions did my anger move, It cannot rob thee of a mother's love. Why shouldst thou grieve? Grief seldom joined with blooming youth is seen; Can sorrow be where knowledge scarce has been? Fortune does well for heedless youth provide, But wisdom does unlucky age misguide; Cares are the train of present power and state, But hope lives best that on himself does wait: O happiest fortune if well understood, The certain prospect of a future good!
Aca. What joy can empire bring me, when I know That all my greatness to your crimes I owe:
Zemp. Yours be the joy, be mine the punishment.
Aca. In vain, alas, that wish to Heaven is sent For me, if fair Orazia must not live.
Zemp. Why should you ask me what I cannot give? She must be sacrificed: Can I bestow What to the gods, by former vows, I owe?
Aca. O plead not vows; I wish you had not shown You slighted all things sacred for a throne.
Zemp. I love thee so, that, though fear follows still, And horror urges, all that have been ill, I could for thee Act o'er my crimes again; and not repent, Even when I bore the shame and punishment.
Aca. Could you so many ill acts undertake, And not perform one good one for my sake?
Zemp. Prudence permits not pity should be shown To those, that raised the war to shake my throne.
Aca. As you are wise, permit me to be just; What prudence will not venture, honour must; We owe our conquest to the stranger's sword, Tis just his prisoners be to him restored. I love Orazia; but a nobler way, Than for my love my honour to betray.
Zemp. Honour is but an itch of youthful blood, Of doing acts extravagantly good; We call that virtue, which is only heat That reigns in youth, till age finds out the cheat.
Aca. Great actions first did her affections move, And I, by greater, would regain her love.
Zemp. Urge not a suit which I must still deny; Orazia and her father both shall die: Begone, I'll hear no more.
Aca. You stop your ears— But though a mother will not, Heaven will hear; Like you I vow, when to the powers divine You pay her guiltless blood, I'll offer mine. [Exit.
Zemp. She dies, this happy rival, that enjoys The stranger's love, and all my hopes destroys; Had she triumphed, what could she more have done, Than robbed the mother, and enslaved the son? Nor will I, at the name of cruel, stay: Let dull successive monarchs mildly sway: Their conquering fathers did the laws forsake, And broke the old, ere they the new could make, I must pursue my love; yet love, enjoyed, Will, with esteem, that caused it first, grow less: But thirst and hunger fear not to be cloyed, And when they be, are cured by their excess.
Trax. Now I shall see, what thoughts her heart conceals; For that, which wisdom covers, love reveals. [Aside. Madam, the prisoners are disposed.
Zemp. They are? And how fares our young blustering man of war? Does he support his chains with patience yet?
Trax. He, and the princess, madam—
Zemp. Are they met?
Trax. No: but from whence is all this passion grown?
Zemp. 'Twas a mistake.
Trax. I find this rash unknown Is dangerous; and, if not timely slain, May plunge your empire in new wars again.
Zemp. Thank ye; I shall consider.
Trax. Is that all? The army doat on him, already call You cruel; and, for aught I know, they may By force unchain, and crown him in a day.
Zemp. You say, I have already had their curse For his bad usage; should I use him worse?
Trax. Yet once you feared his reputation might Obscure the prince's in the people's sight.
Zemp. Time will inform us best what course to steer, But let us not our sacred vows defer: The Inca and his daughter both shall die.
Trax. He suffers justly for the war; but why Should she share his sad fate? A poor pretence, That birth should make a crime of innocence.
Zemp. Yet we destroy the poisonous viper's young, Not for themselves, but those from whom they sprung.
Trax. O no, they die not for their parents' sake, But for the poisonous seed which they partake. Once more behold her, and then let her die, If in that face or person you can see But any place to fix a cruelty. The heavens have clouds, and spots are in the moon; But faultless beauty shines in her alone.
Zemp. Beauty has wrought compassion in your mind!
Trax. And you to valour are become as kind. To former services there's something due, Yet be advised—
Zemp. Yes, by myself, not you.
Trax. Princes are sacred.
Zemp. True, whilst they are free: But power once lost, farewell their sanctity: 'Tis power, to which the gods their worship owe, Which, uncontrouled, makes all things just below: Thou dost the plea of saucy rebels use; They will be judge of what their prince must chuse: Hard fate of monarchs, not allowed to know When safe, but as their subjects tell them so. Then princes but like public pageants move, And seem to sway, because they sit above. [Exit.
Trax. She loves him; in one moment this new guest Has drove me out from this false woman's breast; They, that would fetter love with constancy, Make bonds to chain themselves, but leave him free With what impatience I her falsehood bear! Yet do myself that, which I blame in her; But interest in my own cause makes me see That act unjust in her, but just in me. [Exit.
ISMERON asleep.—Enter ZEMPOALLA.
Zemp. Ho, Ismeron, Ismeron! He stirs not; ha, in such a dismal cell Can gentle sleep with his soft blessings dwell? Must I feel tortures in a human breast, While beasts and monsters can enjoy their rest? What quiet they possess in sleep's calm bliss! The lions cease to roar, the snakes to hiss, While I am kept awake, Only to entertain my miseries. Or if a slumber steal upon my eyes, Some horrid dream my labouring soul benumbs And brings fate to me sooner than it comes. Fears most oppress when sleep has seized upon The outward parts, and left the soul alone. What envied blessings these cursed things enjoy! Next to possess, 'tis pleasure to destroy. Ismeron! ho, Ismeron, Ismeron! [Stamps.
Ism. Who's that, that with so loud and fierce a call Disturbs my rest?
Zemp. She, that has none at all, Nor ever must, unless thy powerful art Can charm the passions of a troubled heart.
Ism. How can you have a discontented mind, To whom the gods have lately been so kind?
Zemp. Their envious kindness how can I enjoy, When they give blessings, and the use destroy?
Ism. Dread empress, tell the cause of all your grief; If art can help, be sure of quick relief.
Zemp. I dreamed, before the altar that I led A mighty lion in a twisted thread; I shook to hold him in so slight a tie, Yet had not power to seek a remedy: When, in the midst of all my fears, a clove, With hovering wings, descended from above, Flew to the lion, and embraces spread, With wings, like clasping arms, about his head, Making that murmuring noise that cooing doves Use, in the soft expression of their loves; While I, fixed by my wonder, gazed to see So mild a creature with so fierce agree: At last the gentle dove turned from his head, And, pecking, tried to break the slender thread, Which instantly she severed, and released From that small bond the fierce and mighty beast, Who presently turned all his rage on me, And, with his freedom, brought my destiny.
Ism. Dread empress, this strange vision you relate Is big with wonder, and too full of fate, Without the god's assistance, to expound. In those low regions, where sad night hangs round The drowsy vaults, and where moist vapours steep The god's dull brows, that sways the realm of sleep; There all the informing elements repair, Swift messengers of water, fire, and air, To give account of actions, whence they came, And how they govern every mortal frame; How, from their various mixture, or their strife, Are known the calms and tempests of our life: Thence souls, when sleep their bodies overcome, Have some imperfect knowledge of their doom. From those dark caves those powers shall strait appear; Be not afraid, whatever shapes they wear.
Zemp. There's nothing, thou canst raise, can make me start; A living form can only shake my heart.
Ism. You twice ten hundred deities, To whom we daily sacrifice; You powers, that dwell with fate below, And see what men are doomed to do; Where elements in discord dwell; Thou god of sleep, arise and tell Great Zempoalla what strange fate Must on her dismal vision wait.
Zemp. How slow these spirits are! Call, make them rise, Or they shall fast from flame and sacrifice.
Ism. Great empress, Let not your rage offend what we adore, And vainly threaten, when we must implore. Sit silently, and attend— While my powerful charms I end.
By the croaking of the toad, In their caves that make abode; Earthy Dun that pants for breath, With her swelled sides full of death; By the crested adders' pride, That along the clifts do glide; By thy visage fierce and black; By the death's-head on thy back; By the twisted serpents placed For a girdle round thy waist; By the hearts of gold that deck Thy breast, thy shoulders, and thy neck: From thy sleepy mansion rise, And open thy unwilling eyes, While bubbling springs their music keep, That use to lull thee in thy sleep.
God of Dreams rises.
God. Seek not to know what must not be revealed; Joys only flow where fate is most concealed: Too busy man would find his sorrows more, If future fortunes he should know before; For, by that knowledge of his destiny, He would not live at all, but always die. Enquire not, then, who shall from bonds be freed, Who 'tis shall wear a crown, and who shall bleed: All must submit to their appointed doom; Fate and misfortune will too quickly come: Let me no more with powerful charms be pressed; I am forbid by fate to tell the rest.
[The god descends.
Zemp. Stay, cozener, thou, that hat'st clear truth like light, And usest words dark as thy own dull night. You tyrant gods, do you refuse to free The soul, you gave, from its perplexity? Why should we in your mercies still believe, When you can never pity, though we grieve? For you have bound yourselves by harsh decrees; And those, not you, are now the deities. [Sits down sad.
Ism. She droops under the weight of rage and care: You spirits, that inhabit in the air, With all your powerful charms of music, try To bring-her soul back to its harmony.
SONG SUNG BY AERIAL SPIRITS.
Poor mortals, that are clogged with earth below, Sink under love and care, While we, that dwell in air, Such heavy passions never know. Why then should mortals be Unwilling to be free From blood, that sullen cloud, Which shining souls does shroud? Then they'll shew bright, And like us light, When leaving bodies with their care, They slide to us and air.
Zemp. Death on these trifles! Cannot your art find Some means, to ease the passions of the mind? Or, if you cannot give a lover rest, Can you force love into a scornful breast?
Ism. Tis reason only can make passions less; Art gives not new, but may the old increase; Nor can it alter love in any breast, That is with other flames before possessed.
Zemp. If this be all your slighted arts can do, I'll kindle other flames, since I must burn, And all their temples into ashes turn.
Ism. Great queen—
_Zemp. If you would have this sentence staid, Summon their godheads quickly to your aid, And presently compose a charm, that may Love's flames into the stranger's breast convey, The captive stranger, he whose sword and eyes Wheree'er they strike, meet ready victories: Make him but burn for me, in flames like mine, Victims shall bleed, and feasted altars shine: If not— Down go your temples, and your gods shall see They have small use of their divinity. [_Exeunt_.
SCENE I.—The scene opens, and discovers MONTEZUMA sleeping in prison.
Enter TRAXALLA leading in ORAZIA.
Trax. Now take your choice, and bid him live or die; To both shew pity, or shew cruelty: 'Tis you that must condemn, I'll only act; Your sentence is more cruel than my fact.
Oraz. You are most cruel, to disturb a mind, Which to approaching fate was so resigned.
Trax. Reward my passion, and you'll quickly prove There's none dare sacrifice what I dare love. Next to thee, stranger; wake, and now resign The bold pretences of thy love to mine, Or in this fatal minute thou shalt find—
Mont. Death, fool; in that thou may'st be just and kind: 'Twas I that loved Orazia, yet did raise The storm, in which she sinks: Why dost thou gaze, Or stay thy hand from giving that just stroke, Which, rather than prevent, I would provoke? When I am dead, Orazia may forgive; She never must, if I dare wish to live.
Oraz. Hold, hold—O Montezuma, can you be So careless of yourself, but more of me? Though you have brought me to this misery, I blush to say I cannot see you die.
Mont. Can my approaching fate such pity move? The gods and you at once forgive and love.
Trax. Fond fool, thus to mis-spend that little breath I lent thee to prevent, not hasten, death: Let her thank you she was unfortunate, And you thank her for pulling on your fate; Prove to each other your own destinies. [Draws.
Enter ZEMPOALLA hastily, and sets a dagger to ORAZIA'S breast.
Zemp. Hold, hold, Traxalla, or Orazia dies.— O, is't Orazia's name that makes you stay? 'Tis her great power, not mine, that you obey. Inhuman wretch, dar'st thou the murderer be Of him, that is not yet condemned by me?
Trax. The wretch, that gave you all the power you have, May venture sure to execute a slave; And quench a flame your fondness would have burn, Which may this city into ashes turn, The nation in your guilty passion lost; To me ungrateful, to your country most: But this shall be their offering, I their priest.
Zemp. The wounds, thou giv'st, I'll copy on her breast: Strike, and I'll open here a spring of blood, Shall add new rivers to the crimson flood. How his pale looks are fixed on her!—'tis so. Oh, does amazement on your spirits grow? What, is your public love Orazia's grown? Could'st thou see mine, and yet not hide thy own? Suppose I should strike first, would it not breed Grief in your public heart to see her bleed?
Trax. She mocks my passion; in her sparkling eyes Death, and a close dissembled fury lies: I dare not trust her thus. [Aside.]—If she must die, The way to her loved life through mine shall lie.
[He puts her by, and steps before ORAZIA; and she runs before MONTEZUMA.
Zemp. And he, that does this stranger's fate design, Must, to his heart, a passage force through mine.
Trax. Can fair Orazia yet no pity have? 'Tis just she should her own preserver save.
Zemp. Can Montezuma so ungrateful prove To her, that gave him life, and offers love?
Oraz. Can Montezuma live, and live to be Just to another, and unjust to me? You need not be ungrateful; can she give A life to you, if you refuse to live?— Forgive my passion; I had rather see You dead, than kind to any thing but me.
Mont. O, my Orazia! To what new joys and knowledge am I brought! Are death's hard lessons by a woman taught? How to despise my fate I always knew; But ne'er durst think, at once, of death and you: Yet since you teach this generous jealousy, I dare not wish your life, if I must die. How much your love my courage does exceed! Courage alone would shrink to see you bleed!
Zemp. Ungrateful stranger! thou shalt please thy eyes, And gaze upon Orazia while she dies!— I'll keep my vow!—It is some joy to see, That my revenge will prove my piety.
Trax. Then both shall die!—We have too long withstood, By private passions urged, the public good.
Zemp. Sure he dissembles; and, perhaps, may prove My ruin, with his new ambitious love: Were but this stranger kind, I'd cross his art, And give my empire, where I gave my heart. [Aside. Yet, thou ungrateful man, Let thy approaching ruin make thee wise.
Mont. Thee, and thy love, and mischief, I despise!
Zemp. What shall I do? Some way must yet be tried;— What reason can she use whom passions guide!
[Aside. Trax. Some black designs are hatching now:—False eyes Are quick to see another's treacheries.
[Aside. Zemp. Rash stranger, thus to pull down thy own fate!
Mont. You, and that life you offer me, I hate.
Zemp. Here, jailor, take—What title must he have? Slave, slave!—Am I then captive to a slave?— Why art thou thus unwilling to be free?
Mont. Death will release me from these chains, and thee.
Zemp. Here, jailor, take this monster from my sight, And keep him where it may be always night. Let none come near him; if thou dost, expect To pay thy life, the price of the neglect.
Mont. I scorn thy pity, and thy cruelty; And should despise a blessing sent from thee.
Zemp. O, horror to my soul! take him away!— My rage, like dammed-up streams, swelled by some stay, Shall, from this opposition, get new force, And leave the bound of its old easy course.— Come, my Traxalla, let us both forgive, And in these wretches' fates begin to live. The altars shall be crowned with funeral boughs, Peace-offerings paid,—but with unquiet vows. [Exeunt ZEMP. and TRAX.
Oraz. How are things ordered, that the wicked should Appear more kind and gentle than the good? Her passion seems to make her kinder prove, And I seem cruel through excess of love: She loves, and would prevent his death; but I, That love him better, fear he should not die. My jealousy, immortal as my love, Would rob my grave below, and me above, Of rest.—Ye gods, if I repine, forgive! You neither let me die in peace, nor live.
Enter ACACIS, Jailor, and Indian.
Jail. They are just gone, sir.
Aca. 'Tis well: Be faithful to my just design, And all thy prince's fortune shall be thine. [Exit ACACIS.
Ind. This shall to the empress. [Exit Indian.
Oraz. What can this mean!— 'Twas Prince Acacis, if I durst believe My sight; but sorrow may like joy deceive: Each object different from itself appears, That comes not to the eyes, but through their tears.
Enter ACACIS, bringing in MONTEZUMA. Ha!—
Aca. Here, sir, wear this again;—[Gives a sword. Now follow me.
Mont. So, very good;— I dare not think, for I may guess amiss; None can deceive me while I trust in this. [Exeunt.
Enter ORAZIA, conducted by two Indians with their swords drawn; MONTEZUMA, ACACIS whispering another Indian.
Aca. Think what a weight upon thy faith I lay.
Ind. I ne'er did more unwillingly obey.
Aca. First, Montezuma, take thy liberty; Thou gavest me freedom, here I set thee free: We're equal now. Madam, the danger's great Of close pursuit; to favour your retreat, Permit we two a little while remain Behind, while you go softly o'er the plain.
Oraz. Why should I go before?—What's your intent?— Where is my father?—Whither am I sent?
Aca. Your doubts shall soon be cleared. Conduct her on. [Exit ORAZIA.
So, Montezuma, we are now alone. That which my honour owed thee I have paid; As honour was, so love must be obeyed. I set Orazia, as thy captive, free; But, as my mistress, ask her back from thee.
Mont. Thou hast performed what honour bid thee do: But friendship bars what honour prompts me to.— Friends should not fight.
Aca. If friendship we profess, Let us secure each others happiness: One needs must die, and he shall happy prove In her remembrance, t'other in her love. My guards wait near; and, if I fail, they must Give up Orazia, or betray their trust.
Mont. Suppose thou conquer'st, would'st thou wander o'er The south-sea sands, or the rough northern shore, That parts thy spacious kingdom from Peru, And, leaving empire, hopeless love pursue?
Aca. By which of all my actions could you guess, Though more your merit, that my love was less? What prize can empire with Orazia bear? Or, where love fills the breast, what room for fear?
Mont. Let fair Orazia then the sentence give, Else he may die whom she desires to live.
Aca. Your greater merits bribe her to your side; My weaker title must by arms be tried.
Mont. Oh, tyrant love! how cruel are thy laws! I forfeit friendship, or betray thy cause: That person, whom I would defend from all The world, that person by my hand must fall.
_Aca_. Our lives we to each others friendship owe; But love calls back what friendship did bestow: Love has its cruelties, but friendship none; And we now fight in quarrels not our own. [_Fight.
Oraz. What noise is this?— Hold, hold! what cause could be so great, to move This furious hatred?—
Mont. 'Twas our furious love.—
Aca. Love, which I hid till I had set you free, And bought your pardon with my liberty; That done, I thought, I less unjustly might With Montezuma, for Orazia, fight; He has prevailed, and I must now confess His fortune greater, not my passion less; Yet cannot yield you, till his sword remove A dying rival, that holds fast his love.
Oraz. Whoever falls, 'tis my protector still, And then the crime's as great, to die as kill.— Acacis, do not hopeless love pursue; But live, and this soft malady subdue.
Aca. You bid me live, and yet command me die! I am not worth your care;—Fly, madam, fly! (While I fall here unpitied) o'er this plain, Free from pursuit, the faithless mountains gain; And these I charge, As they would have me think their friendship true, Leave me alone, to serve, and follow you: Make haste, fair princess, to avoid that fate, Which does for your unhappy father wait.
Oraz. Is he then left to die, and shall he see Himself forsaken, ere his death, by me?
Mont. That would you do?
Oraz. To prison I'll return, And there, in fetters, with my father mourn.
Mont. That saves not his, but throws your life away.
Oraz. Duty shall give what nature once must pay.
Aca. Life is the gift, which heaven and parents give, And duty best preserves it, if you live.
Oraz. I should but further from my fountain fly, And, like an unfed stream, run on and die: Urge me no more, and do not grieve to see Your honour rivalled by my piety. [She goes softly of, and often looks back.
Mont. If honour would not, shame would lead the way; I'll back with her.
Aca. Stay, Montezuma, stay!— Thy rival cannot let thee go alone, My love will bear me, though my blood is gone.
[As they are going off,
Enter ZEMPOALLA, TRAXALLA, the Indian that went to tell her, and the rest, and seize them.
Zemp. Seize them!—
Aca. Oh, Montezuma, thou art lost.
Mont. No more, proud heart, thy useless courage boast!— Courage, thou curse of the unfortunate! That canst encounter, not resist, ill fate.
Zemp. Acacis bleeds!— What barbarous hand has wounded thus my son?
Mont. 'Twas I; by my unhappy sword 'twas done.— Thou bleed'st, poor prince, and I am left to grieve My rival's fall.
Trax. He bleeds, but yet may live.
Aca. Friendship and love my failing strength renew; I dare not die, when I should live for you; My death were now my crime, as it would be My guilt to live when I have set you free: Thus I must still remain unfortunate, Your life and death are equally my fate.
ORAZIA comes back.
Oraz. A noise again!—alas, what do I see! Love, thou didst once give place to piety: Now, piety, let love triumph awhile;— Here, bind my hands: Come, Montezuma, smile At fortune; since thou sufferest for my sake, Orazia will her captive's chains partake.
Mont. Now, fate, thy worst.
Zemp. Lead to the temple straight, A priest and altar for these lovers wait: They shall be joined, they shall.
Trax. And I will prove Those joys in vengeance, which I want in love.
Aca. I'll quench your thirst with blood, and will destroy Myself, and, with myself, your cruel joy. Now, Montezuma, since Orazia dies, I'll fall before thee, the first sacrifice; My title in her death shall exceed thine, As much as, in her life, thy hopes did mine: And when with our mixed blood the altar's dyed, Then our new title let the gods decide. [Exeunt.
ACT V. SCENE I.
_The Scene opens, and discovers the Temple of the Sun, all of gold, and four Priests, in habits of white and red feathers, attending by a bloody altar, as ready for sacrifice.
Then enter the Guards_, ZEMPOALLA, _and_ TRAXALLA; _Inca_, ORAZIA, _and_ MONTEZUMA,_ bound. As soon as they are placed, the Priest sings_.
You to whom victory we owe, Whose glories rise By sacrifice, And from our fates below; Never did your altars shine Feasted with blood so near divine; Princes to whom we bow, As they to you:— Thus you can ravish from a throne, And, by their loss of power, declare your own.
Zemp. Now to inflict those punishments, that are Due to the authors of invasive war; Who, to deceive the oppressed world, like you, Invent false quarrels to conceal the true.
Inca. My quarrel was the same, that all the gods Must have to thee, if there be any odds Betwixt those titles that are bad or good, To crowns descended, or usurped by blood:— Swell not with this success; 'twas not to thee, But to this man, the gods gave victory.
Mont. Since I must perish by my own success, Think my misfortunes more, my crimes the less; And so, forgiving, make me pleased to die, Thus punished for this guilty victory.
Inca. Death can make virtue easy; I forgive: That word would prove too hard, were I to live; The honour of a prince would then deny, But in the grave all our distinctions die.
Mont. Forgive me one thing yet; to say, I love, Let it no more your scorn and anger move; Since, dying in one flame, my ashes must Embrace and mingle with Orazia's dust.
Inca. Name thy bold love no more, lest that last breath, Which should forgive, I stifle with my death.
Oraz. Oh, my dear father! Oh, why may not I, Since you gave life to me, for you now die?
Mont. 'Tis I, that wrought this mischief, ought to fall A just and willing sacrifice for all. Now, Zempoalla, be both just and kind, And, in my fate, let me thy mercy find: Be grateful, then, and grant me that esteem, That as alive, so dead, I may redeem.
Oraz. O, do not for her cruel mercy move; None should ask pity but from those they love.
Inca. Fond girl! to let thy disobedient eyes Show a concern for him, whom I despise.
Oraz. How love and nature may divide a breast, At once by both their powers severely prest! Yet, sir, since love seems less, you may forgive; I would not have you die, nor have him live; Yet if he dies, alas! what shall I do? I cannot die with him, and live with you.
Mont. How vainly we pursue this generous strife, Parting in death more cruel than in life!— Weep not, we both shall have one destiny; As in one flame we lived, in one we'll die.
Trax. Why do we waste in vain these precious hours? Each minute of his life may hazard ours: The nation does not live whilst he enjoys His life, it is his safety that destroys. He shall fall first, and teach the rest to die.
Zemp. Hold!— Who is it that commands;—ha! you, or I?— Your zeal grows saucy!—sure, you may allow Your empress freedom first to pay her vow.
Trax. She may allow—a justice to be done By him, that raised his empress to her throne.
Zemp. You are too bold,—
Trax. And you too passionate.
Zemp. Take heed, with his, you urge not your own fate.— For all this pity is now due to me.
Mont. I hate thy offered mercy more than thee.
Trax. Why will not then the fair Orazia give Life to herself, and let Traxalla live?
Mont. Orazia will not live, and let me die; She taught me first this cruel jealousy.
Oraz. I joy that you have learned it!— That flame not like immortal love appears. Where death can cool its warmth, or kill its fears.
Zemp. What shall I do? am I so quite forlorn, No help from my own pride, nor from his scorn! My rival's death may more effectual prove; He, that is robbed of hope, may cease to love:— Here, lead these offerings to their deaths.
Trax. Let none Obey but he, that will pull on his own!
Zemp. Tempt me not thus; false and ungrateful too!
Trax. Just as ungrateful, and as false, as you.
Zemp. 'Tis thy false love that fears her destiny.
Trax. And your false love that fears to have him die.
Zemp. Seize the bold traitor!
Trax. What a slighted frown Troubles your brow! feared nor obeyed by none; Come, prepare for sacrifice.
Enter ACACIS weakly.
Aca. Hold, hold! such sacrifices cannot be Devotions, but a solemn cruelty: How can the gods delight in human blood? Think them not cruel, if you think them good. In vain we ask that mercy, which they want, And hope that pity, which they hate to grant.
Zemp. Retire, Acacis;— Preserve thyself, for 'tis in vain to waste Thy breath for them: The fatal vow is past.
Aca. To break that vow is juster than commit A greater crime, by your preserving it.
Zemp. The gods themselves their own will best express To like the vow, by giving the success.
Aca. If all things by success are understood, Men, that make war, grow wicked to be good: But did you vow, those that were overcome, And he that conquered, both, should share one doom? There's no excuse; for one of these must be Not your devotion, but your cruelty.
Trax. To that rash stranger, sir, we nothing owe; What he had raised, he strove to overthrow: That duty lost, which should our actions guide, Courage proves guilt, when merits swell to pride.
Aca. Darest thou, who didst thy prince's life betray, Once name that duty, thou hast thrown away? Like thy injustice to this stranger shown, To tax him with a guilt, that is thy own?— Can you, brave soldiers, suffer him to die, That gave you life, in giving victory? Look but upon this stranger, see those hands, That brought you freedom, fettered up in bands. Not one looks up,— Lest sudden pity should their hearts surprise, And steal into their bosoms through their eyes.
Zemp. Why thus, in vain, are thy weak spirits prest? Restore thyself to thy more needful rest.
Aca. And leave Orazia!—
Zemp. Go, you must resign: For she must be the gods'; not yours, nor mine.
Aca. You are my mother, and my tongue is tied So much by duty, that I dare not chide.— Divine Orazia! Can you have so much mercy to forgive? I do not ask it with design to live, But in my death to have my torments cease: Death is not death, when it can bring no peace.
Oraz. I both forgive, and pity;—
Aca. O, say no more, lest words less kind destroy What these have raised in me of peace and joy: You said, you did both pity and forgive; You would do neither, should Acacis live. By death alone the certain way appears, Thus to hope mercy, and deserve your tears.
Zemp. O, my Acacis! What cruel cause could urge this fatal deed?—
He faints!—help, help! some help! or he will bleed His life, and mine, away!— Some water there!—Not one stirs from his place! I'll use my tears to sprinkle on his face.
Zemp. Fond child! why dost thou call upon her name? I am thy mother.
Aca. No, you are my shame. That blood is shed that you had title in, And with your title may it end your sin!— Unhappy prince, you may forgive me now, Thus bleeding for my mother's cruel vow.
Inca. Be not concerned for me; Death's easier than the changes I have seen: I would not live to trust the world again.
Mont. Into my eyes sorrow begins to creep; When hands are tied, it is no shame to weep.
Aca. Dear Montezuma, I may be still your friend, though I must die Your rival in her love: Eternity Has room enough for both; there's no desire, Where to enjoy is only to admire: There we'll meet friends, when this short storm is past.
Mont. Why must I tamely wait to perish last?
Aca. Orazia weeps, and my parched soul appears Refreshed by that kind shower of pitying tears; Forgive those faults my passion did commit, 'Tis punished with the life that nourished it; I had no power in this extremity To save your life, and less to see you die. My eyes would ever on this object stay, But sinking nature takes the props away. Kind death, To end with pleasures all my miseries, Shuts up your image in my closing eyes.
Enter a Messenger.
Mess. To arms, to arms!
Trax. From whence this sudden fear?
Mess. Stand to your guard, my lord, the danger's near: From every quarter crowds of people meet, And, leaving houses empty, fill the street.
Trax. Fond queen, thy fruitless tears a while defer; Rise, we must join again—Not speak, nor stir! I hear the people's voice like winds that roar, When they pursue the flying waves to shore.
Enter Second Messenger.
2 Mess. Prepare to fight, my lord; the banished queen, With old Garucca, in the streets are seen.
Trax. We must go meet them or it be too late; Yet, madam, rise; have you no sense of fate?
Enter third Messenger.
3 Mess. King Montezuma their loud shouts proclaim, The city rings with their new sovereign's name; The banished queen declares he is her son, And to his succour all the people run.
Zemp. Can this be true? O love! O fate! have I Thus doated on my mortal enemy?
Trax. To my new prince I thus my homage pay; Your reign is short, young king—
Zemp. Traxalla, stay— 'Tis to my hand that he must owe his fate, I will revenge at once my love and hate.
[She sets a dagger to MONTEZUMA'S breast.
Trax. Strike, strike, the conquering enemy is near. My guards are passed, while you detain me here.
Zemp. Die then, ungrateful, die; Amexia's son Shall never triumph on Acacis' throne. Thy death must my unhappy flames remove: Now where is thy defence—against my love?
[She cuts the cords, and gives him the dagger.
Trax. Am I betrayed? [He draws and thrusts at MONTEZUMA, he puts it by and kills him.
Mont. So may all rebels die: This end has treason joined with cruelty.
Zemp. Live thou whom I must love, and yet must hate; She gave thee life, who knows it brings her fate.
Mont. Life is a trifle which I would not take, But for Orazia's and her father's sake: Now, Inca, hate me, if thou canst; for he, Whom thou hast scorned, will die, or rescue thee.
As he goes to attack the guards with TRAXALLA'S sword, enter AMEXIA, GARUCCA, Indians, driving some of the other party before them.
Gar. He lives; ye gods, he lives! great queen, see here Your coming joys, and your departing fear.
Amex. Wonder and joy so fast together flow, Their haste to pass has made their passage slow; Like struggling waters in a vessel pent, Whose crowding drops choak up the narrow vent. My son!—
[She embraces him.
Mont. I am amazed! it cannot be That fate has such a joy in store for me.
Amex. Can I not gain belief that this is true?
Mont. It is my fortune I suspect, not you.
Gar. First ask him if he old Garucca know.
Mont. My honoured father! let me fall thus low.
Gar. Forbear, great prince; 'tis I must pay to you That adoration, as my sovereign's due: For, from my humble race you did not spring; You are the issue of our murdered king, Sent by that traitor to his blest abode, Whom, to be made a king, he made a god: The story is too full of fate to tell, Or what strange fortune our lost queen befel.
Amex. That sad relation longer time will crave; I lived obscure, he bred you in a cave, But kept the mighty secret from your ear, Lest heat of blood to some strange course should steer Your youth.
Mont. I owe him all, that now I am; He taught me first the noble thirst of fame. Shewed me the baseness of unmanly fear, Till the unlicked whelp I plucked from the rough bear, And made the ounce and tyger give me way, While from their hungry jaws I snatched the prey: 'Twas he that charged my young arms first with toils, And drest me glorious in my savage spoils.
Gar. You spent in shady forest all the day, And joyed, returning, to shew me the prey, To tell the story, to describe the place, With all the pleasures of the boasted chace; Till fit for arms, I reaved you from your sport, To train your youth in the Peruvian court: I left you there, and ever since have been The sad attendant of my exiled queen.
Zemp. My fatal dream comes to my memory; That lion, whom I held in bonds, was he, Amexia was the dove that broke his chains; What now but Zempoalla's death remains?
Mont. Pardon, fair princess, if I must delay My love a while, my gratitude to pay. Live, Zempoalla—free from dangers live, For present merits I past crimes forgive: Oh, might she hope Orazia's pardon, too!
Oraz. I would have none condemned for loving you; In me her merit much her fault o'erpowers; She sought my life, but she preserved me yours.
Amex. Taught by my own, I pity her estate, And wish her penitence, but not her fate.
Inca. I would not be the last to bid her live; Kings best revenge their wrongs, when they forgive.
Zemp. I cannot yet forget what I have been: Would you give life to her, that was a queen? Must you then give, and must I take? there's yet One way, that's by refusing, to be great: You bid me live—bid me be wretched too; Think, think, what pride, unthroned, must undergo: Look on this youth, Amexia, look, and then Suppose him yours, and bid me live again; A greater sweetness on these lips there grows, Than breath shut out from a new-folded rose: What lovely charms on these cold cheeks appear! Could any one hate death, and see it here? But thou art gone—
Mont. O that you would believe Acacis lives in me, and cease to grieve.
Zemp. Yes, I will cease to grieve, and cease to be. His soul stays watching in his wound for me; All that could render life desired is gone, Orazia has my love, and you my throne, And death, Acacis—yet I need not die, You leave me mistress of my destiny; In spite of dreams, how am I pleased to see, Heaven's truth, or falsehood, should depend on me! But I will help the Gods; The greatest proof of courage we can give, Is then to die when we have power to live. [Kills herself.
Mont. How fatally that instrument of death Was hid—
Amex. She has expired her latest breath.
Mont. But there lies one, to whom all grief is due.
Oraz. None e'er was so unhappy and so true.
Mont. Your pardon, royal sir.
Inca. You have my love. [Gives him ORAZIA.
Amex. The gods, my son, your happy choice approve.
Mont. Come, my Orazia, then, and pay with me, [Leads her to ACACIS. Some tears to poor Acacis' memory; So strange a fate for men the gods ordain, Our clearest sunshine should be mixt with rain; How equally our joys and sorrows move! Death's fatal triumphs, joined with those of love. Love crowns the dead, and death crowns him that lives, Each gains the conquest, which the other gives. [Exeunt omnes.
SPOKEN BY MONTEZUMA.
You see what shifts we are enforced to try, To help out wit with some variety; Shows may be found that never yet were seen, 'Tis hard to find such wit as ne'er has been: You have seen all that this old world can do, We, therefore, try the fortune of the new, And hope it is below your aim to hit At untaught nature with your practised wit: Our naked Indians, then, when wits appear, Would as soon chuse to have the Spaniards here. 'Tis true, you have marks enough, the plot, the show, The poet's scenes, nay, more, the painter's too; If all this fail, considering the cost, 'Tis a true voyage to the Indies lost: But if you smile on all, then these designs, Like the imperfect treasure of our minds, Will pass for current wheresoe'er they go, When to your bounteous hands their stamps they owe.
THE INDIAN EMPEROR OR, THE CONQUEST OF MEXICO BY THE SPANIARDS.
BEING THE SEQUEL OF THE INDIAN QUEEN.
Dum relego, scripsisse pudet, quia plurima cerno, Me quoque, qui feci, judice, digna limi. OVID.
TO THE MOST EXCELLENT AND MOST ILLUSTRIOUS PRINCESS, ANNE, DUCHESS OF MONMOUTH AND BUCCLEUCH, WIFE TO THE MOST ILLUSTRIOUS AND HIGH-BORN PRINCE, JAMES, DUKE OF MONMOUTH[A].
[Footnote A: Anne Scott, duchess of Buccleuch and Monmouth, was the last scion of a race of warriors, more remarkable for their exploits in the field, than their address in courts, or protection of literature. She was the heiress of the Scotts, barons and earls of Buccleuch; and became countess, in her own right, upon the death of her elder sister, lady Mary, who married the unfortunate Walter Scott, earl of Tarras, and died without issue in 1662. In 1665, Anne, countess of Buccleuch, married James Fitzroy, duke of Monmouth, eldest natural son of Charles II. They were afterwards created duke and duchess of Buccleuch. She was an accomplished and high-spirited lady, distinguished for her unblemished conduct in a profligate court. It was her patronage which first established Dryden's popularity; a circumstance too honourable to her memory to be here suppressed.]
May it please Your Grace, The favour which heroic plays have lately found upon our theatres, has been wholly derived to them from the countenance and approbation they have received at court. The most eminent persons for wit and honour in the royal circle having so far owned them, that they have judged no way so fit as verse to entertain a noble audience, or to express a noble passion; and among the rest which have been written in this kind, they have been so indulgent to this poem, as to allow it no inconsiderable place. Since, therefore, to the court I owe its fortune on the stage; so, being now more publicly exposed in print, I humbly recommend it to your grace's protection, who by all knowing persons are esteemed a principal ornament of the court. But though the rank which you hold in the royal family might direct the eyes of a poet to you, yet your beauty and goodness detain and fix them. High objects, it is true, attract the sight; but it looks up with pain on craggy rocks and barren mountains, and continues not intent on any object, which is wanting in shades and greens to entertain it. Beauty, in courts, is so necessary to the young, that those, who are without it, seem to be there to no other purpose than to wait on the triumphs of the fair; to attend their motions in obscurity, as the moon and stars do the sun by day; or, at best, to be the refuge of those hearts which others have despised; and, by the unworthiness of both, to give and take a miserable comfort. But as needful as beauty is, virtue and honour are yet more: The reign of it without their support is unsafe and short, like that of tyrants. Every sun which looks on beauty wastes it; and, when it once is decaying, the repairs of art are of as short continuance, as the after-spring, when the sun is going further off. This, madam, is its ordinary fate; but yours, which is accompanied by virtue, is not subject to that common destiny. Your grace has not only a long time of youth in which to flourish, but you have likewise found the way, by an untainted preservation of your honour, to make that perishable good more lasting: And if beauty, like wines, could be preserved, by being mixed and embodied with others of their own natures, then your grace's would be immortal, since no part of Europe can afford a parallel to your noble lord in masculine beauty, and in goodliness of shape. To receive the blessings and prayers of mankind, you need only to be seen together: We are ready to conclude, that you are a pair of angels sent below to make virtue amiable in your persons, or to sit to poets when they would pleasantly instruct the age, by drawing goodness in the most perfect and alluring shape of nature. But though beauty be the theme on which poets love to dwell, I must be forced to quit it as a private praise, since you have deserved those which are more public: For goodness and humanity, which shine in you, are virtues which concern mankind; and, by a certain kind of interest, all people agree in their commendation, because the profit of them may extend to many. It is so much your inclination to do good, that you stay not to be asked; which is an approach so nigh the Deity, that human nature is not capable of a nearer. It is my happiness, that I can testify this virtue of your grace's by my own experience; since I have so great an aversion from soliciting court-favours, that I am ready to look on those as very bold, who dare grow rich there without desert. But I beg your grace's pardon for assuming this virtue of modesty to myself, which the sequel of this discourse will no way justify: For in this address I have already quitted the character of a modest man, by presenting you this poem as an acknowledgment, which stands in need of your protection; and which ought no more to be esteemed a present, than it is accounted bounty in the poor, when they bestow a child on some wealthy friend, who will better breed it up. Offsprings of this nature are like to be so numerous with me, that I must be forced to send some of them abroad; only this is like to be more fortunate than his brothers, because I have landed him on a hospitable shore. Under your patronage Montezuma hopes he is more safe than in his native Indies; and therefore comes to throw himself at your grace's feet, paying that homage to your beauty, which he refused to the violence of his conquerors. He begs only, that when he shall relate his sufferings, you will consider him as an Indian Prince, and not expect any other eloquence from his simplicity, than what his griefs have furnished him withal. His story is, perhaps, the greatest which was ever represented in a poem of this nature; the action of it including the discovery and conquest of a new world. In it I have neither wholly followed the truth of the history, nor altogether left it; but have taken all the liberty of a poet, to add, alter, or diminish, as I thought might best conduce to the beautifying of my work: it being not the business of a poet to represent historical truth, but probability. But I am not to make the justification of this poem, which I wholly leave to your grace's mercy. It is an irregular piece, if compared with many of Corneille's, and, if I may make a judgment of it, written with more flame than art; in which it represents the mind and intentions of the author, who is with much more zeal and integrity, than design and artifice,
MADAM, Your Grace's most obedient, And most obliged servant, JOHN DRYDEN, October 12. 1667.
Betwixt 1664, when our author assisted Sir Robert Howard in composing the preceding play, and the printing of the Indian Emperor in 1668, some disagreement had arisen betwixt them. Sir Robert appears to have given the first provocation, by prefixing to his tragedy of the Duke of Lerma, or Great Favourite, in 1668, some remarks, which drew down the following severe retort. It is therefore necessary to mention the contents of the offensive preface.
Sir Robert Howard begins, as one taking leave of the drama and dramatic authors, "his too long acquaintances;" and unwilling again to venture "into the civil wars of Censure,
Ubi—Nullos habitura triumphos."
He states his unwilling interference to be owing to the "unnecessary understanding" of some, who endeavoured to apply as strict rules to poetry as mathematics, which rendered it incumbent on him to justify his having written some scenes of his tragedy in blank verse. In the next paragraph, Dryden is expressly pointed out as the author of the Essay on Dramatic Poetry; and is ridiculed for attempting to prove, not that rhyme is more natural in a dialogue on the stage supposed to be spoken extempore, but grander and more expressive. In like manner, Sir Robert unfortunately banters our author for drawing from Seneca an instance of a lofty mode of expressing so ordinary a thing as shutting a door[A], instead of giving an example to the same effect in English.
Reserate clusos regii postes laris.
Howard's mistranslation of this passage seems to have been inadvertent. In the Essay it is rendered,
"Set wide the palace gates."]
The author of the Duke of Lerma proceeds to attack the unities; arguing, because it is impossible that the stage can represent exactly a house, or that the time of acting can be extended to twenty-four hours; therefore it is needless there should be any limitation whatever as to time or place, since otherwise it must be inferred, that there are degrees in impossibility, and that one thing may be more impossible than another.
The whole tone of the preface is that of one who wished to have it supposed, that he was writing concerning a subject rather beneath his notice, and only felt himself called forth to do so by the dogmatism of those who laid down confident rules or laws in matters so trifling. This affectation of supercilious censure appears deeply to have provoked Dryden, and prompted the acrimony of the following Defence, which he prefixed to a second edition of the Indian Emperor published in 1668, probably shortly after the offence had been given. The angry friends were afterwards reconciled; and Dryden, listening more to the feelings of former kindness than of recent passion, cancelled the Defence, which was never afterwards reprinted, till Congreve collected our author's dramatic works. It is worthy of preservation, as it would be difficult to point out deeper contempt and irony, couched under language so temperate, cold, and outwardly respectful.
A DEFENCE OF AN ESSAY OF DRAMATIC POESY; BEING AN ANSWER TO THE PREFACE OF THE GREAT FAVOURITE, OR THE DUKE OF LERMA.
The former edition of "the Indian Emperor" being full of faults, which had escaped the printer, I have been willing to overlook this second with more care: and though I could not allow myself so much time as was necessary, yet by that little I have done, the press is freed from some errors which it had to answer for before. As for the more material faults of writing, which are properly mine, though I see many of them, I want leisure to amend them. It is enough for those who make one poem the business of their lives, to leave that correct: yet, excepting Virgil, I never met with any which was so in any language.
But while I was thus employed about this impression, there came to my hands a new printed play, called, "The Great Favourite, or, The Duke of Lerma;" the author of which, a noble and most ingenious person, has done me the favour to make some observations and animadversions upon my Dramatic Essay. I must confess he might have better consulted his reputation, than by matching himself with so weak an adversary. But if his honour be diminished in the choice of his antagonist, it is sufficiently recompensed in the election of his cause: which being the weaker, in all appearance, as combating the received opinions of the best ancient and modern authors, will add to his glory, if he overcome; and to the opinion of his generosity, if he be vanquished, since he engages at so great odds; and, so like a cavalier, undertakes the protection of the weaker party. I have only to fear, on my own behalf, that so good a cause as mine may not suffer by my ill management, or weak defence; yet I cannot in honour but take the glove when it is offered me; though I am only a champion by succession, and no more able to defend the right of Aristotle and Horace, than an infant Dimock[A] to maintain the title of a king.
[Footnote A: The family of Dimock, or Dymock, are hereditary champions of England; and, as such, obliged to maintain the king's title in single combat against all challengers.]
For my own concernment in the controversy, it is so small, that I can easily be contented to be driven from a few notions of dramatic poesy; especially by one, who has the reputation of understanding all things: and I might justly make that excuse for my yielding to him, which the philosopher made to the emperor; why should I offer to contend with him, who is master of more than twenty legions of arts and sciences? But I am forced to fight, and therefore it will be no shame to be overcome.
Yet I am so much his servant, as not to meddle with any thing which does not concern me in his preface: therefore I leave the good sense and other excellencies of the first twenty lines, to be considered by the critics. As for the play of "The Duke of Lerma," having so much altered and beautified it as he has done, it can justly belong to none but him. Indeed they must be extremely ignorant, as well as envious, who would rob him of that honour; for you see him putting in his claim to it, even in the first two lines:
Repulse upon repulse, like waves thrown back, That slide to hung upon obdurate rocks.
After this, let detraction do its worst; for if this be not his, it deserves to be. For my part, I declare for distributive justice; and from this, and what follows, he certainly deserves those advantages, which he acknowledges to have received from the opinion of sober men.
In the next place, I must beg leave to observe his great address in courting the reader to his party: For, intending to assault all poets, both ancient and modern, he discovers not his whole design at once, but seems only to aim at me, and attacks me on my weakest side, my defence of verse.
To begin with me, he gives me the compellation of "The Author of a Dramatic Essay;" which is a little discourse in dialogue, for the most part borrowed from the observations of others: therefore, that I may not be wanting to him in civility, I return his compliment, by calling him, "The Author of the Duke of Lerma."
But (that I may pass over his salute) he takes notice of my great pains to prove rhyme as natural in a serious play, and more effectual than blank verse. Thus indeed I did state the question; but he tells me, "I pursue that which I call natural in a wrong application; For 'tis not the question, whether rhyme, or not rhyme, be best, or most natural for a serious subject, but what is nearest the nature of that it represents."
If I have formerly mistaken the question, I must confess my ignorance so far, as to say I continue still in my mistake: But he ought to have proved that I mistook it; for it is yet but gratis dictum; I still shall think I have gained my point, if I can prove that rhyme is best, or most natural for a serious subject. As for the question as he states it, whether rhyme be nearest the nature of what it represents, I wonder he should think me so ridiculous as to dispute, whether prose or verse be nearest to ordinary conversation.
It still remains for him to prove his inference; that, since verse is granted to be more remote than prose from ordinary conversation, therefore no serious plays ought to be writ in verse: and when he clearly makes that good, I will acknowledge his victory as absolute as he can desire it.
The question now is, which of us two has mistaken it; and if it appear I have not, the world will suspect, "what gentleman that was, who was allowed to speak twice in parliament, because he had not yet spoken to the question[A];" and perhaps conclude it to be the same, who, as it is reported, maintained a contradiction in terminis, in the face of three hundred persons.
[Footnote A: A sneer which Sir Robert aims at Dryden. Dryden had written twice on the question of rhyming tragedies.]
But to return to verse, whether it be natural or not in plays, is a problem which is not demonstrable of either side: It is enough for me, that he acknowledges he had rather read good verse than prose: for if all the enemies of verse will confess as much, I shall not need to prove that it is natural. I am satisfied if it cause delight; for delight is the chief, if not the only, end of poesy: Instruction can be admitted but in the second place, for poesy only instructs as it delights. It is true, that to imitate well is a poet's work; but to affect the soul, and excite the passions, and, above all, to move admiration (which is the delight of serious plays), a bare imitation will not serve. The converse, therefore, which a poet is to imitate, must be heightened with all the arts and ornaments of poesy; and must be such as, strictly considered, could never be supposed spoken by any without premeditation.
As for what he urges, that "a play will still be supposed to be a composition of several persons speaking extempore, and that good verses are the hardest things which can be imagined to be so spoken;" I must crave leave to dissent from his opinion, as to the former part of it: For, if I am not deceived, a play is supposed to be the work of the poet, imitating, or representing, the conversation of several persons: and this I think to be as clear, as he thinks the contrary.
But I will be bolder, and do not doubt to make it good, though a paradox, that one great reason why prose is not to be used in serious plays, is, because it is too near the nature of converse: There may be too great a likeness; as the most skilful painters affirm, that there may be too near a resemblance in a picture: To take every lineament and feature is not to make an excellent piece, but to take so much only as will make a beautiful resemblance of the whole: and, with an ingenious flattery of nature, to heighten the beauties of some parts, and hide the deformities of the rest. For so says Horace,
Ut pictura poesis erit. &c.— Haec amat obscurum, vult haec sub luce videri, Judicis argutum quae formidat acumen. Et quae Desperat tractata nitescere posse, relinquit.
In "Bartholomew Fair," or the lowest kind of comedy, that degree of heightening is used, which is proper to set off that subject: It is true the author was not there to go out of prose, as he does in his higher arguments of comedy, "The Fox" and "Alchemist;" yet he does so raise his matter in that prose, as to render it delightful; which he could never have performed, had he only said or done those very things, that are daily spoken or practised in the fair: for then the fair itself would be as full of pleasure to an ingenious person as the play, which we manifestly see it is not. But he hath made an excellent lazar of it; the copy is of price, though the original be vile. You see in "Catiline" and "Sejanus," where the argument is great, he sometimes ascends to verse, which shews he thought it not unnatural in serious plays; and had his genius been as proper for rhyme as it was for humour, or had the age in which he lived attained to as much knowledge in verse as ours, it is probable he would have adorned those subjects with that kind of writing.
Thus Prose, though the rightful prince, yet is by common consent deposed, as too weak for the government of serious plays: and he failing, there now start up two competitors; one, the nearer in blood, which is Blank Verse; the other, more fit for the ends of government, which is Rhyme. Blank Verse is, indeed, the nearer Prose, but he is blemished with the weakness of his predecessor. Rhyme (for I will deal clearly) has somewhat of the usurper in him; but he is brave, and generous, and his dominion pleasing. For this reason of delight, the ancients (whom I will still believe as wise as those who so confidently correct them) wrote all their tragedies in verse, though they knew it most remote from conversation.
But I perceive I am falling into the danger of another rebuke from my opponent; for when I plead that the ancients used verse, I prove not that they would have admitted rhyme, had it then been written. All I can say is only this, that it seems to have succeeded verse by the general consent of poets in all modern languages; for almost all their serious plays are written in it; which, though it be no demonstration that therefore they ought to be so, yet at least the practice first, and then the continuation of it, shews that it attained the end, which was to please; and if that cannot be compassed here, I will be the first who shall lay it down: for I confess my chief endeavours are to delight the age in which I live. If the humour of this be for low comedy, small accidents, and raillery, I will force my genius to obey it, though with more reputation I could write in verse. I know I am not so fitted by nature to write comedy: I want that gaiety of humour which is required to it. My conversation is slow and dull; my humour saturnine and reserved: In short, I am none of those who endeavour to break jests in company, or make repartees. So that those, who decry my comedies, do me no injury, except it be in point of profit: reputation in them is the last thing to which I shall pretend. I beg pardon for entertaining the reader with so ill a subject; but before I quit that argument, which was the cause of this digression, I cannot but take notice how I am corrected for my quotation of Seneca, in my defence of plays in verse. My words are these: "Our language is noble, full, and significant; and I know not why he, who is a master of, it, may not clothe ordinary things in it as decently as in the Latin, if he use the same diligence in his choice of words." One would think, "unlock a door," was a thing as vulgar as could be spoken; yet Seneca could make it sound high and lofty in his Latin.
"Reserate clusos regii postes laris."
But he says of me, "That being filled with the precedents of the ancients, who writ their plays in verse, I commend the thing, declaring our language to be full, noble, and significant, and charging all defects upon the ill placing of words, which I prove by quoting Seneca loftily expressing such an ordinary thing as shutting a door."
Here he manifestly mistakes; for I spoke not of the placing, but of the choice of words; for which I quoted that aphorism of Julius Caesar, Delectus verborum est origo eloquentiae; but delectus verborum is no more Latin for the placing of words, than reserate is Latin for shut the door, as he interprets it, which I ignorantly construed unlock or open it.
He supposes I was highly affected with the sound of those words, and I suppose I may more justly imagine it of him; for if he had not been extremely satisfied with the sound, he would have minded the sense a little better.
But these are now to be no faults; for ten days after his book is published, and that his mistakes are grown so famous, that they are come back to him, he sends his Errata[A] to be printed, and annexed to his play; and desires, that, instead of shutting, you would read opening, which, it seems, was the printer's fault. I wonder at his modesty, that he did not rather say it was Seneca's or mine; and that, in some authors, reserate was to shut as well as to open, as the word barach, say the learned, is both to bless and curse.
[Footnote A: This erratum has been suffered to remain in the edition of the Knight's plays now before us, published in 1692.]
Well, since it was the printer, he was a naughty man to commit the same mistake twice in six lines: I warrant you delectus verborum, for placing of words, was his mistake too, though the author forgot to tell him of it: If it were my book, I assure you I should. For those rascals ought to be the proxies of every gentleman author, and to be chastised for him, when he is not pleased to own an error. Yet since he has given the errata, I wish he would have enlarged them only a few sheets more, and then he would have spared me the labour of an answer: For this cursed printer is so given to mistakes, that there is scarce a sentence in the preface without some false grammar, or hard sense in it; which will all be charged upon the poet, because he is so good-natured as to lay but three errors to the printer's account, and to take the rest upon himself, who is better able to support them. But he needs not apprehend that I should strictly examine those little faults, except I am called upon to do it: I shall return therefore to that quotation of Seneca, and answer, not to what he writes, but to what he means. I never intended it as an argument, but only as an illustration of what I had said before concerning the election of words; and all he can charge me with is only this, that if Seneca could make an ordinary thing sound well in Latin by the choice of words, the same, with the like care, might be performed in English: If it cannot, I have committed an error on the right hand, by commending too much the copiousness and well-sounding of our language, which I hope my countrymen will pardon me; at least the words which follow in my Dramatic Essay will plead somewhat in my behalf; for I say there, that this objection happens but seldom in a play; and then, too, either the meanness of the expression may be avoided, or shut out from the verse by breaking it in the midst.
But I have said too much in the defence of verse; for, after all, it is a very indifferent thing to me whether it obtain or not. I am content hereafter to be ordered by his rule, that is, to write it sometimes because it pleases me, and so much the rather, because he has declared that it pleases him. But he has taken his last farewell of the muses, and he has done it civilly, by honouring them with the name of "his long acquaintances," which is a compliment they have scarce deserved from him. For my own part, I bear a share in the public loss; and how emulous soever I may be of his fame and reputation, I cannot but give this testimony of his style, that it is extremely poetical, even in oratory; his thoughts elevated sometimes above common apprehension; his notions politic and grave, and tending to the instruction of princes, and reformation of states; that they are abundantly interlaced with variety of fancies, tropes, and figures, which the critics have enviously branded with the name of obscurity and false grammar.
"Well, he is now fettered in business of more unpleasant nature:" The muses have lost him, but the commonwealth gains by it; the corruption of a poet is the generation of a statesman.
"He will not venture again into the civil wars of censure, ubi—nullos habitura triumphos:" If he had not told us he had left the muses, we might have half suspected it by that word ubi, which does not any way belong to them in that place: the rest of the verse is indeed Lucan's, but that ubi, I will answer for it, is his own. Yet he has another reason for this disgust of poesy; for he says immediately after, that "the manner of plays which are now in most esteem is beyond his power to perform:" to perform the manner of a thing, I confess, is new English to me. "However, he condemns not the satisfaction of others, but rather their unnecessary understanding, who, like Sancho Panza's doctor, prescribe too strictly to our appetites; for," says he, "in the difference of tragedy and comedy, and of farce itself, there can be no determination but by the taste, nor in the manner of their composure."