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MARIAMNE.

A

TRAGEDY.

BY

ELIJAH FENTON.

PROLOGUE.

WAEN breathing statues mould'ring waste away, of love, made greatly wretched by excess !
And tombs, unfaithful to their trust, decay, From lust of pow'r to jealous fury tost,
The muse recalls the suffering good to fame, We shew the tyrant in the lover lost.
Or wakes the prosp'rous villain into shame : If no compassion, when his crimes are weigh'a,
To the stern tyrant gives fictitious pow'r, To his ill-fated fondness must be paid,
To reign the restless monarch of an hour. Yet see, ye fair ! and see with pitying eyes,

Obedient to her call, this night appears The bright afflicted Mariamne rise.
Great Herod rising from a length of years ; No fancied tale our op'ning scenes disclose,
A name enlarg'd with titles not his own, Historic truth, and swell with real woes.
Servile to mount, and savage on the throne : Awful in virtuous grief the queen appears,
Whose bold ambition trembling. Jewry view'd, And strong the eloquence of royal tears.
In blood of half her royal race imbru’d.

Then let her fate your kind attention raise, But now reviving in the British scene,

Whose perfect charms were but her second praise: He looks majestic with a milder mien :

Beauty and virtue your protection claim ; His features soften’d with the deep distress Give tears to beauty, and to virtue fame.

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

SAMEAS, the King's Cup-bearer.
MEN.

FLAMINIUS, a Roman Generala
HEROD the Great.

WOMEN.
His Young Son.
PHERORAS, the King's Brother.

MARIAMNE.
SOHEMUS, first Minister.

SALOME, the King's Sister.
NARBAL, « Lord of the Queen's Party. ARSINOE, chief Attendunt on the Queen,
HAZEROTH, a young Lord related to the Queen.
High-Priest,

Guards, Messengers, Attendanls.
SÇENE,—A Room of State in Herod's Palace at Jerusalem.

ACT I.

With Narbal's talents ; none is better form’d SCENE I.

To gild the pageant of a gaudy day:

He's nobly born, and popularly vain, Enter PHERORAS, NARBAL, and SOHEMUS.

Rare tinsel-stuff' t'adorn a room of state ! Pher. The morning in her richest purple rob’d, But in the council

, where the public careSmiles with auspicious lustre on the day,

Pher. In that high sphere you, Sohemus, alone Which brings my royal brother back from Rhodes, Must ever shine: and may your wisdom raise Confirm'd in empire by the general voice

Your master's fortune, to divide the globe Of Cæsar, and the senate.

With this new Cæsar; and no longer sway Nar. This blest day

A short precarious sceptre, which must shake In latest annals shall distinguish'd shine, With each tempestuous gust that blows from Sacred to majesty, and dear to love:

Rome. The same which saw the royal lovers march Soh. With blushes I must hear you call me In nuptial pomp, revolving, now restores

wise, Herod to Mariamne, and his crown.

When one impassion'd woman can destroy Soh. Fortune at length to merit grows a friend, My surest plans, and with a sigh blow down Or fate ordaind the happiest stars to shed

The firmest fabric of deliberate thought. Their influence on his birth: or sure, since Rome, Heav'ns! that a king consummate for a throne, With civil discord rent, so oft hath chang'd So wise in council, and so great in arms, Her own great lords, (as bleeding conquest rais'd, Should, after nine long years, remain a slave, Or sunk the doubtful balance,) we had shar'd

Because his wife is fair! What art thou, beauty, The same vicissitudes of restless pow'r.

Whose charm makes sense and valour grow as Nar. Herod avow'd the dear respect he bore

tame To Antony, and dropp'd a generous tear

As a blind turtle? To grace his ruins.

Pher. Is thy wisdom proof Pher. Yes, and Caesar sat

Against the blandishments of warm desire ? Pensive and silent; in his anxious breast It ill defends thee from Arsinoe's charms ! Perhaps revolving, that of all his train,

The sullen sweetness of a down-cast eye, Who proudly wanton in his mounted rays, A feign'd unkindness, or a just reproach, Gay flutt'ring insects of a summer noon, Breath'd in a sigh, and soften'd with a tear, How few would bear the wintry storms of fate! Would make thy rigid marble melt like snow At length he smiling rose, receiv'd the crown On the warm bosom of the youthful spring. From Herod's hand, and plac'd it on his brow; Soh. In thoughtless youth, gay nature gives the Crying, shine there! for Cæsar cannot find

rein A worthier head to wear thee.

To love, and bids him urge the full career : Soh. From the grace

But Herod should restrain his head-strong course, Of such a victor to receive a crown,

Now reason is mature. With such peculiar attributes of fame,

Pher. He never can; Confers more glory than a chronicle

For Mariamne with superior charms Of scepter'd ancestors.

Triumphs o'er reason; in her look she bears Pher. Narbal, your care

A paradise of ever-blooming sweets : Will see due honours to the day discharg'd. Fair as the first idea beauty prints Let the shrill trumpet's cheerful note enjoin On the young lover's soul: a winning grace A general feast, and joy with loud acclaim Guides every gesture, and obsequious love Through all the streets of Solyma resound : Attends on all her steps ; for, majesty Let steams of grateful incense cloud the sky, Streams from her eye to each beholder's heart, 'Till the rich fragrance reach the utmost bounds And checks the transport which her charms inOf Herod's empire: let each smiling brow

spire: Wear peaceful olive, whilst the virgin choirs Who would not live her slave !-Nor is her mind Warbling his praise, his paths with flow'rs per- Form’d with inferior elegance !-By her, fume,

So absolute in every grace, we guess Who guards Judæa with the shield of Rome. What essence angels have.

(Erit NAR. Soh. Who can adınire

The brightest angel, when his hand unsheaths SCENE II.

The vengeful sword, or with dire pestilence

Unpeoples nations? If death sits enthron'd ] PHERORAS and SOHEMUS.

In the soft diinple of a damask cheek, Sch. My lord, the province you've assign'd He thence can aim his silent dart as sure, agrees

As from the wrinkle of a tyrant's frown : VOL, II,

D

my.

name

And that's our case! Yet with a lover's eye The garland of the war, by partial fate
You view the gay malignance, that will blast Transferr'd from theirs, to grace a stripling's
Both you and all your
friends.

browPher. We sure may praise

But I with Narbal will prevail, to impart The snake that glitters in her summer pride, This most ungrateful order to the queen. And yet beware the sting.

[Exit PHER. Soh. But low in dust Crush the crown'd basilisk, or else she kills

SCENE III. Whate'er her eye commands.--You need, my

SALOME enters to SOHEMUS. lord, No clearer light than this, by which to read Sal. I hope, my lord, young Hazeroth's affront The purpose of soul.

Will not pass unresented. Pher. Though 'tis obscure,

Soh. I've dispatched It strikes like lightning that with fear confounds A message to the king: the account I gave The pale night-wanderer, whilst it shews the path. Imported nothing but severest truth; You, Sohemus, have cause to think the queen Yet wittiest malice scarce could feign a roll Charges the taking off her uncle's head

Of keener calumnies. To your advice; and gladly would atone

Sal. He mentioned me?
Her kindred blood with yours: revenge still glows, Soh. Traduced you basely, by the opprobrious
Though hid in treacherous embers; and you'll
feel

Of Idumæan spinster, in degree
The dire effect, whene'er occasion breathes The third descendant of an heathen slave,
A gale to waken and foment the flame.

Who kept Apollo's temple.
But I, unpractis’d in th' intrigues of courts, Sal. The king's veins
And disciplin'd in camps, will not supply Hold the same blood, whatever is the source;
Increase of fuel to these home-bred jars : And if the wretch survives that vile reproach,
I hope the king will see them soon supprest; The king's a slave indeed. What was your crime?
Or care succeeding care will ever tread

Soh. He said by my sole counsels were deThe circle of his crown.

stroyed Soh. If to pursue

All of the royal Asmonæan race, The safest measure to secure his throne,

Whom justice made the victims of the state: Shall irritate the queen to make me fall Whose injured, discontented ghosts too long A victim to her rage, the conscious pride Had cried revenge, but should not cry in vain : Of having acted what the king ordained,

Then half unsheathed his sabre.

Sal. That vain boy Enter Messenger with a Letter to PHERORAS.

Believes his near relation to the queen
Will yet support me. 'Tis not worth my care, Exempts his haughty youth from all restraint.
Whether the trembling hand of age must shake

He's Mariamne's echo, and repeats
From the frail glass my last remaining sand; But half her menaces.
Ör fortune break the phial, ere the sum

Soh. What time more fit
Of half my life is told.

To put her threats in act, than when the king Pher. 'Tis from the king :

Flies with redoubled ardour to her arms? A most unpleasing message for the queen. Passion improves with absence; and his heart Soh. May I, my lord, partake?

So soft and passive to the power of love, Phar. The infant prince

Will then be vacant only to his queen. Must live an hostage of the league at Rome; Fortune of late a glorious scene disclos’d, Cæsar hath sent a minister of trust

But soon snatch'd back the visionary joy! With guards to wait him. This perhaps the king The blissful hour is past --Curst, doubly curst Hath kept concealed, that his return might calm Be this boy-emperor! who tamely spard The afflicted queen, and soften the surprise. The warmest friend that Antony could boast. Soh. Names he, my lord, the general to whose Had Herod perish'd by his vengeful sword,

I soon had sent (for so he left in charge) The prince must be consigned?

His queen, the worshipp'd idol of his soul, Pher. Rome could not chuse

To attend him to the shades.-Clouds of despair For that high charge a nobler delegate,

Now terminate our view! Than my Flaminius; for a bolder hand

Sal. Can

you

discern Ne'er flew her conquering eagles at their prey. No glimmering hope? Though dim, the distan We in the Parthian wars together learned

ray
The rudiments of arms; the summer sun May serve to steer our course.
Hath seen our marches measured by his own; Soh. The king will send
In battle so intrepid, that he shewed

His son for hostage, to reside in Rome.
An appetite of danger; oft I've heard

Sal. Were triple thunder vollied at the queen, The weary veterans, resting on their spears, It could not rend her bleeding bosom more Swear by the gods and majesty of Rome,

Than such a message. They blushed with indignation to behold

Soh. At this little spark,

care

Discord may light her ever-burning torch : Your sound allegiance.
The imperious queen perhaps will edge her tongue, Arsi. If a single thought
With keen resentments for her ruined race. Were tinctured with disloyalty, this hand
For 'tis the infirmity of noblest minds,

Should pierce my heart to drive the rebel out. When ruffled with an unexpected woe,

Your strict command with pleasure I obey ; To speak what settled prudence would conceal : For at the sight of Salome, my breast As the vexed ocean, working in a storm, Shivers with chilling horror, and revolves Oft brings to light the wrecks, which long lay The destiny which a Chaldæan seer calm

Of late foretold. The pious sage had pass’d In the dark bosom of the secret deep.

Full sixty winters in a private cell: From such reproach, his promised joy may change His locks were silvered o'er with reverend white; To coldness and distrust, perhaps to hate; And on his cheeks appeared the pale effect And their high souls, that now, like friendly stars, of studious abstinence: his custom was Mingling their beams, in mutual ardour shine, In his small hermitage to outwatch the moon, In fiercest opposition then will thwart

To marshal in his schemes the host of heaven; Each other's infuence, and divide the court: And from their ruling influence at the birth, Then, mischief, to thy work !-

Formed his predictions. As the princess pass’d, Sal. In me you'll find

I asked him if his foresight could discern A sure assistant. Shall Pheroras join?

The colour of her fate : he answered, black ! Soh. I'd fly him at the quarry, but I fear 'Tis black chequered with blood ! deep in her He'd check, if other game should cross the flight:

breast He scorns dissimulation, nor perceives

I see the dagger, doomed by heaven's decree That nature never meant simplicity

To cut her half-spun thread. A grace to charm in courts : he serves the crown Mar. What powerful cause With such a blind disinterested zeal,

Urged you to hear a vain diviner tell He's even proud to obey.

His waking dreams ? Perhaps you went to know Sal. Let him enjoy

What happy star presided o'er the love,
His cold-complexioned principles, and fall Which Schemus, I hear, addressed to you:
A traitor to himself.

If so, I'll be your oracle; forbear
Soh. O princess ! born

To enquire the doubtful omehs of the sky, To bless the world with a long progeny

And fix your faith on this unerring truth: Of future heroes; and renew the strain

If your ill-judging choice mislead your heart, Of valour, which the softness of your sex To meet his passion with an equal Alame, Unspirited at first ! So great a soul

Henceforth forever banished from my sight,
Deserves, and sure is destined to a throne ! In exile you shall end an odious life;
But hark !

Attended only in that friendless state
Sal. The queen's approaching: she repairs By black remorse, which step by step pursues
To sacrifice.

The ungrateful and the false. Soh. 'Tis best we both retire. [Ereunt. Arsi. I long have felt

The afflicting hand of heaven, without the guilt SCENE IV.

Of murmur or complaint: but to be thought

False and ungrateful, is too much to bear.
MARIAMNE and ARSINOE.

Chase that suspicion from your royal mind;
Mar. The princess and her friend were un-

Nor cast my blameless innocence a prey prepared

To those who envy your distinguished grace, To pay the decencies the day requires :

With which I've long been honoured. The most unpractis'd in the courtier's art,

Mar. To receive And they who hate us most, might sure vouchsafe Private addresses from my deadliest foe; A smooth unmeaning compliment at least. A wretch, whose dark infernal arts have wrought But night-born treason is too tender-ey'd,

The ruin of my race, but ill repays To bear the blaze of dazzling majesty,

My condescending favour, which vouchsafed And seeks the guilty shade.

To lose the style of subject and of queen, Arsi. They're both deprived

In friendship's softer name. of your propitious smile; so dire a loss

Arsi. While thus I kneel, Would cloud the most serene.

Imploring heaven to attest my spotless faith, Mar. That sullen gloom

May I be fixed a dreadful monument Proceeds not from a conscience of their crimes Of perjured guilt, if e'er my bosom gave Which sues by penitence for royal grace; Reception to his suit. Were he possessed But argues high contempt; their brows display Of all the sun surveys, and formed to please A banner of defiance, and avow

With every grace that captivates the soul ; Their trait’rous combination : but I'll quell And your command, concurrent with his love, The towering crest of their presumptuous hate, Should urge me to comply; that hard command, Or perish in the attempt. Henceforth forbear And that alone I dare to disobey.All commerce with the princess, and her train, No, my dear Roman! nothing can deface For fear the infection of example taint

Thy image from thy virgin-widow's breast ;

The inviolable band of strong desire

Of Antony engaged my father's sword; Shall ever join our souls.

Thither I fled, and was received with grace Mar. Dismiss your fears,

To Cleopatra's train : with her I came And let them with my vanish'd doubt expire: To Palestine; where the detested sight But, whence this transport of reviving woe? Of Antony so rack'd me, and reviv'd Recite the series of your fate at large.

The sad remembrance of my murdered lord,
Arsi. When Anto y and Cæsar found the globe I begged to be dismissed. You then received
Too narrow, to suffice the boundless views The fugitive, whom fortune's rage hath made !
Of two such mighty spirits, my virgin-vow Wretched indeed, but hath not power to make
Was plighted to a brave patrician youth, False or ungrateful.
The friend of Cæsar. Antony proscribed

Mar. Poor Arsinoe!
The chiefs who sided with his potent foe; My favours shall deface the memory
And foremost in the tablet my lov'd lord of past afflictions. On a soul secure
Was doom'd to slaughter ; whilst with nuptial In native innocence, or grief or joy
joy

Should make no deeper prints than air retains ;
His palace rung, crowded with friends who came Where fleet alike the vulture and the dove,
To attend the bride's arrival, through the gates And leave no trace. Blind fortune, that bestows
A troop of cut-throats rushing in, surpris'd The perishable toys of wealth and power,
And dragged him to his fate!

At random oft resumes them, pleased to make Mar. In that distress

A burricane of life: but, the firm mind What could you do, and whither did you fly? Safe on exalted virtue reigns sedate,

Arsi. At Alexandria then the fatal cause Superior to the giddy whirls of fate. (Ereunt.

ACT II.

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Would soon interpret love; but softly sighed, SCENE I.

And slipt it in his bosom. Strait her cheeks Enter NARBAL and FLAMINIUS.

Glowed with an angry blush, which faded soon,

And left them lily pale. Breathless and faint Nar. The queen will see you, sir; a just regard She then reclined her head, and from his breast To Cæsar's friendship is so sacred here, Snatch'd what she fear'd might lie too near his That though on this high jubilee the court

heart: Suspends all state affairs, the queen vouchsafes With amorous reluctance while he strove To admit your message to her royal ear. To gain the ravish'd prize, she let it fall

Fla. Th' ambassadors of Rome never demand (More by design than chance) into the Nile:
Admission more than once : your king defers He springing up to catch it, half-o'er-set
His entry till the

queen
shall execute

The gilded barge; and with a sterner brow, What Cæsar's will requires.

And haughtier tone, than e'er she knew before, Nar. That cause alone

He cried, your river is too well repaid, Would urge our prompt compliance; for the For all the wealth you owed.king

(A messenger enters to NAR. Makes love the impatient register of time:

Mess. Pheroras, sir,
In his account each moment seems an age, Desires to see the Roman general.
That keeps him from his Mariamne's arms; Nar. Sir, I'll conduct you.

[Ereunt. Who well deserves such passion. Fla. Distant fame

SCENE II.
Hath pictured all her graces on my mind:
Perhaps you've heard of Dellius.

Enter SOHEMUS and the High-Priest. Nar. Whạt ! the friend

Soh. But the human mind, of Antony?

When 'tis divorced from matter, cannot pierce Fla. His qualities disgrace

The distant cloud of dark futurity. The name of friend; but in his softer hours You sleep not sound, my lord! Old age deHe liked him for his elegance of taste

press'd In luxury and love. I heard him tell,

With melancholy damps, oft dwindles down How once when Antony in amorous pomp To second infancy, and then renews With Cleopatra sailed along the Nile,

Its cradle dreams; which superstitious fear To grieve the proud Egyptian, he produced Makes sacred with the venerable names A miniature of Mariamne's face.

Of vision, or of prophecy; devis'd Nar. And what said Antony?

To cheat the vulgar, and too oft employed Fla. With vast surprise

To cover disaffection to the state. He viewed each lineament, but yet forbore High-Pr. I have, my lord, no craving appetites To praise or blame it, which he knew the queen | To glut with gain or titles; I've attained

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