CYRUS: A TRAGEDY.

[Price One Shilling and Sixpence.]

CYRUS: A TRAGEDY. As it is performed at the THEATRE ROYAL IN COVENT-GARDEN. BY JOHN HOOLE.

LONDON: Printed for T. DAVIES, in Russel-Street, Covent-Garden.

M. DCC. LXVIII.

TO THE DUCHESS OF NORTHUMBERLAND, &c.

MADAM,

PERMIT me to assure YOUR GRACE of the deep sense I retain of Your great Goodness and Condescension in the Protection which You have been pleased to extend to my first Effort in the Drama.

Were I to listen to those suggestions that natu­rally arise in the mind of a Writer, on the first dawnings of success, the favourable reception which this Tragedy has met with from the Public would lead me to hope that it might not be found wholly unworthy of YOUR GRACE'S Patronage: but when I reflect how many circumstances con­tribute to please on the Stage, where every Thought [Page]or Expression is enforced with the graces of action and utterance, I cannot but be anxious lest the Reader should withhold that approbation in the closet which the Spectator testified in the representation.

It is with the utmost Deference I submit the following Scenes to YOUR GRACE'S Perusal; and am,

MADAM,
with the greatest respect, YOUR GRACE'S most obliged most obedient and most devoted servant, JOHN HOOLE.

PROLOGUE.

NEW to the stage, before this dread array,
Prepar'd to offer here his virgin play,
Our tim'rous Author, diffident of praise,
Grafts his first laurels on another's bays;
Takes from another's breast the gen'rous fire,
And fits to English strains a foreign lyre:
Aspires to please by unsuspected means,
Importing passion from Italian scenes;
Where heroes combate to soft music's note;
And tyrants warble thro' an eunuch's throat:
To symphony despairing lovers sigh;
And struggling traitors by the gamut die!
Yet here a living bard, whose fame out-runs
The foremost of the tunesul Drama's sons,
Can ev'n in song his magic pow'r dispense,
At once uniting harmony and sense.
From him our poet now essays to write,
And plans from him the story of to-night;
A well-known tale—who has not heard the name:
Of CYRUS, and the rising Median fame?
Each puling school-boy can discuss the theme;
The suff'ring grandson, and the monarch's dream.
O! should his genius catch th' inspiring thought,
And nobly copy what was nobly wrought;
Or where the master's hand but sketch'd the line,
With happy warmth fill up the bold design;
Then ev'ry figure, with full force imprest,
May wake the feelings of th' impassion'd breast;
While each bright eye, amidst this circle, pays
The tribute of involuntary praise.

Dramatis Personae.

  • ASTYAGES, Mr. CLARKE.
  • CAMBYSES, Mr. SMITH.
  • CYRUS, Mr. POWELL.
  • HARPAGUS, Mr. HULL.
  • MITHRANES, Mr. BENSLEY.
  • MIRZA, Mr. DAVIS.
  • MANDANE, Mrs. YATES.
  • ASPASIA, Mrs. MATTOCKS.
  • Officer, Guards, Messenger, &c.

SCENE on the Borders of Media.

CYRUS: A TRAGEDY.

ACT I.

SCENE, A wood, a stately pavilion erected for ASTYAGES; view of a temple at a distance.
MANDANE, ASPASIA.
MANDANE.
BEHOLD the limits of the Median land,
And see the temple where Astyages
Returns each year to shed the victim's blood,
On great Astarte's altar—O! Aspasia!
This is the place, the day, nam'd by my father,
To bless me with the tenderest interview;
Here shall I meet again my long lost Cyrus:
Is he not found, was he not snatch'd from death,
Sav'd by some God to fill these eager arms!
And is not this the happy destin'd grove,
Where once again I shall embrace my child?
ASPASIA.
[Page 2]

'Tis true—but what can all this passion mean?

MANDANE.
What can it mean!—where is my Cyrus hid?
What does he?—wherefore comes he not?
ASPASIA.
Alas!
Time, wing'd with swiftest pinions, lags behind
The ardent wishes of a mother's love.
Thou know'st the hour of sacrifice is fix'd
For his reception; that we must not pay
Our vows to night's pale queen, till yonder sun
Declines to ev'ning skies, and now his beams
But just begin to dawn o'er eastern hills.
MANDANE.

Alas! Aspasia,—still I fear—

ASPASIA.
And wherefore?
When now Astyages no longer seeks
His death, but wishes to behold his Cyrus,
To give him back a parent's kind protection,
And shew, in him, our Media's future king?
MANDANE.
Yet if the visions of the night may claim.
Belief—a dreadful dream—
ASPASIA.
And shall Mandane
Be mov'd with shadows! sure you should detest
Such visionary fears; from these you first
[Page 3]May date your sorrows: well you know, your father,
On the vain credit of a dream, condemn'd
Your Cyrus to be slain; nor this suffic'd;
But that the nuptial bed no more might prove
Fruitful to thee in children, and to him
Give endless cause of terror, far from hence
To banishment he sent your lord, your husband,
Your dear Cambyses, where, in Persia's realm
He lives, an alien to his consort's arms.
MANDANE.
And yet 'tis not a dream that twice ten years
Have seen the chearful harvest crown our fields,
Since at his birth my child was ravish'd from me.
On this blest day I hope once more to see him,
And thinks Aspasia now to find me calm?
ASPASIA.
You lost your Cyrus when your age had scarce
Beheld the round of thirteen annual suns;
And can you still so deeply feel the grief
Imprest in life's first bloom?
MANDANE.
Alas! Aspasia,
Thou know'st not what it is to be a mother.
ASPASIA.
Yet your Aspasia too has known her sorrows;
If you lament a husband and a son,
I mourn a brother's loss, who fell beneath
The vengeful anger of Astyages.
MANDANE.
[Page 4]
There, there, my bosom shar'd thy father's sufferings,
And oft I've wept in secret his misfortunes.
Unhappy man! a fatal recompense
My father gave?thee for his grandson sav'd!
What hast thou suffer'd for thy love to Cyrus,
Thy loyal truth!—but see, the good man comes,
He comes, perchance, with tidings of my son—
O haste, my Harpagus, where is he?
Enter HARPAGUS.
HARPAGUS.
Princess,
Your son is now arriv'd.
MANDANE.

Arriv'd!—ah!—where?

HARPAGUS.
He must not, till Astyages appears,
Presume to pass the borders of the kingdom:
'Tis so decreed.
MANDANE.
Then let us seek him out
Where now impatient, with long exil'd feet,
He comes to tread his native wish'd-for soil,
And ease a mother's pains.
[Going.
HARPAGUS.
It must not be.
Mandane, stay—your father will be present,
A witness to your meeting.
MANDANE.
[Page 5]
Wherefore then
This long delay?—O did Astyages
Feel half Mandane feels, these arms had now
Embrac'd my dearest Cyrus! what detains
My father thus?
HARPAGUS.
'Ere now he's on his way;
But the long pomp that waits on Media's kings,
Forbids his swift approach.
MANDANE.
And must Mandane
Attend the dull and tedious forms of state?
Aspasia, if thou lov'st me, instant go,
And seek the blooming youth—Yet stay, and hear me—
Observe his air, his voice, his ev'ry look;
Mark if his features bear his mother's likeness,
Or his lov'd father's—But, als! I rave;
Thou never knew'st his hapless banish'd father!
Relate my sufferings, and enquire of his:
Ask what kind hand supply'd a mother's care;
How when, Mandane, torn with heart-felt anguish,
Deem'd him a prey to savage rage, the woods
Preserv'd him in their hospitable shades.
Tell him—O heaven! I know not what—but tell him
More than a mother's fondness can express,
Not what I speak, but all I wish to utter.
O fly! and with the rapid speed of thought,
Return to my impatience.
[Exit ASPASIA.
HARPAGUS.
[Page 6]
Should this day,
That gives once more your son to your embrace,
Restore Cambyses to you—
MANDANE.
Would to heaven
I might indulge that hope—All gracious powers!
What torture in his exile must he feel,
To hear his son yet lives; to know this day
Restores my Cyrus to his native land;
Yet be deny'd to gaze with transport on him,
Or clasp him in a father's sheltering arms!
HARPAGUS.
Hear, and be silent;—happier fortune now
Prepares to crown each wish your soul can form;
Cambyses is at hand.
MANDANE.
Cambyses! where?
O! tell me, Harpagus.
HARPAGUS.
I dare not further
Explain it now—let this suffice.
MANDANE.
Alas!
I fear thou dost deceive me.
HARPAGUS.
No, Mandane,
Trust to my faith.—This day you shall behold him.
MANDANE.
[Page 7]
Ye powers! what deluge of unhop'd-for bliss
Now bursts upon me! O my son! my husband!
Happy Mandane—Harpagus, my friend,
Teach me to bear this wild excess of joy.
HARPAGUS.
Be calm, compose your looks; let not the king
Perceive this conflict of tumultuous passions.
MANDANE.
Yes, I will go, and meet Astyages;
Will strive to hide the strugglings of my soul,
Check these emotions, though my swelling bosom
Can scarce find room to hold the mighty transport;
Transport, which only such as I can feel,
And only those, who love like me, conceive.
Exit.
HARPAGUS alone.
Thus far 'tis well.—This day I mean to shew
The hidden Cyrus to the expecting world.
The realm is ripe for a revolt; the nobles
Resolve to invest him with the regal sway—
But my resentment still demands its victim:
Yes, dearest shade of my lamented son,
For ever present to thy father's sight,
Thou yet shalt be appeas'd; for this so long
I've worn the mask of loyalty—but now
Vengeance is on the wing she tow'rs alost,
And, like an eagle, kens her destin'd prey.
Exit.
[Page 8]SCENE changes to a grove; outside of a sinall build­ing of simple architecture, representing the dwelling of MITHRANES.
Enter CYRUS and MITHRANES.
CYRUS.
Can it be possible? O say, my father,
For such thou still hast been, am I indeed
The Median Cyrus? Sure I dream! am I
The offspring of Cambyses and Mandane?
That wretched offspring, whom Astyages
Sentenc'd to die, when scarce the vital spirit
Breath'd from his infant lips.
MITHRANES.
Believe me, prince,
Thou art that offspring.
CYRUS.
Tell me then, Mithranes,
How many bear the name? Thou know'st already
One Cyrus, on the borders of the land
Is now arriv'd; and comes not here the king
To welcome his approach?
MITHRANES.
The king's deceiv'd;
That Cyrus is but feign'd—thou art the true.
CYRUS.

Whence is this mystery?

MITHRANES.
Astyages,
When thou wert yet unborn, beheld a vision
That fill'd his soul, with dread.
CYRUS.
[Page 9]
Of this, Mithranes,
Thou need'st not speak; oft have I heard it told,
How, from his dream, the magic had denounc'd,
That of Mandane should a child be born,
That must one day deprive him of his throne;
And well I know at Cyrus' luckless birth,
The rigid charge was given to Harpagus,
To end his life, and ease a monarch's fears,
MITHRANES.
From thence begins a tale thou ne'er hast heard:
The cruel sentence Harpagus receiv'd,
His heart refus'd to obey; to me he brought thee,
Wrapp'd in a regal mantle.
CYRUS.
Then 'twas thou
That in the woods expos'd—
MITHRANES.
Not so—be patient—
My consort then (mark well the providence
That watch'd thy preservation) had brought forth
A lifeless child; thy harmless innocence
Excited pity; on thy tender cheek
Stood the big tear, as if thy heart already
Were conscious of misfortune, while thy hands
Were stretch'd, as if to implore protection, from us.
My Barce wept, and with a mother's fondness,
Clasp'd in her arms, she strain'd thee to her bosom,
Lull'd thee to rest, and hush'd thy little sorrows.
CRYUS?
Forgive me, sir, if gratitude awhile
Breaks in upon your tale, and fills my eyes
In dear remembrance of your Barce's virtues;
She whose indulgence watch'd my helpless years.
MITHRANES.
[Page 10]
T [...]ou wert, indeed, the darling of her age.
As my own son I bred thee in these shades,
And call'd thy name Alcaeus; in thy stead,
Exposing in the wood the lifeless infant.
CYRUS.

What of Astyages?

MITHRANES.
When he believ'd
His dire command compleated, nature's voice
At length awaken'd in his breast remorse.
Full fifteen years did Harpagus remain
Without disclosing aught; then seem'd the tale
Ripe for discovery: yet he first would prove
The current's depth before he left the shore.
Five years have now elaps'd, since thro' the realm
The tidings spread, that Cyrus being found
An infant in the forest, was preserv'd
And liv'd among the Scythians: such report
Perhaps the impostor rais'd, or from the rumour
Perhaps he sprung: but be it as it may,
Some bold adventurer, lur'd with hopes of greatness,
Usurps thy name.
CYRUS.
Is this the Cyrus then
Who comes—
MITHRANES.
The same—but mark me—Harpagus
Procur'd the fiction credit with the king;
For thus he reason'd—should Astyages
With joy receive the news, I safely may
Reveal the kingdom's heir; or should his fears
Once more return, and prompt some new design
Against the prince, the baffled aim will light
Upon the impostor's head.
CYRUS.
[Page 11]
But since the king
Confesses now such tenderness for Cyrus;
At length recalls him from a life of exile,
To clasp him to his bosom, wakens all
The soft endearments in a mother's soul,
And every tender passion in a son;
Wherefore should unavailing caution still
Withhold the secret from him?
MITHRANES.
Harpagus
Relies not firmly on the royal goodness:
For when he own'd, that with compassion mov'd,
He had not slain the infant, but expos'd him
Amidst the woods, Astyages to punish
His disobedience, doom'd to cruel death
His only son; and though the king now seems
To mourn his grandson's fate, and wears the semblance
Of deep remorse, yet sure but ill agrees
Such love for thee, with such resentment shewn
Against thy kind preserver.
CYRUS.
Tell me ther,
Why at this solemn pomp of sacrifice,
Are all our country's nobles here conven'd,
But to receive the lawful successor?
And shall not Cyrus, conscious of his birth,
Strip from a bold impostor his salse titles,
And stand reveal'd to all? Oh! sir, by you,
Ev'n 'midst these rude uncultivated wilds,
My soul has long been train'd to virtuous daring;
And shall I now ignobly lurk conceal'd?
What can the subject hope from such a prince?
That king will never guard his people's rights,
Who wants the courage to assert his own.
MITHRANES.
[Page 12]
O greatly urg'd—yet think not, my lov'd prince,
Mithranes less regards thy fame, than safety.
Suppress a few short hours this generous ardour;
Soon as you sun shall reach the western waves,
Thou shalt be shewn to all; thou shalt embrace
Thy parents yet unknown; th' assembled nobles
Shall own thy cause, and ev'n Astyages
Receive in thee the kingdom's better hope.
CYRUS.
What say'st thou? shall I then with filial transport
Embrace his honour'd knees, whom fate deny'd
To guard my youth with his paternal care?
Hang on a mother's circling arms, that never
Till this blest moment clasp'd a banish'd son,
And never rear'd his infant years with fondness?
MITHRANES.
Thou shalt, my prince; Cambyses will ere long
Arrive; already is Mandane here.
CYRUS.
Mandane!—let me fly to ease her breast
Of every racking doubt, and dry the tears
Of an afflicted parent.
[Going.
MITHRANES.
Hear me still—
Cambyses and Mandane both suppose
The impostor is their son; and much it now
Imports they should be still deceiv'd, till time
Matures our enterprize; for should Mandane
Learn that in thee he lives—
CYRUS.
Fear not, Mithranes;
This day the mighty secret shall remain
Lock'd in my breast; I never will reveal it
[Page 13]Till thou permit'st me—let me but behold her—
Farewell—Dost thou still doubt my faith—I call
On every God to witness to my vows.
[Going.
MITHRANES.
Oh,—no, forbear—when wilt thou learn to curb
These eager sallies of unbridled passion?
This is the awful day that teems with thine
And Media's fate! Thou know'st that ev'ry deed
Must first begin with Heav'n—Go, seek the temple,
Devoutly there implore the gracious Gods
To smile propitious on our hopes, and learn
Henceforth to moderate—What have I said?
Cyrus forgive this licence of my tongue,
So long accustom'd to a father's language;
I now must change my speech—I am no more
The rigid parent that reproves his son;
I am a subject, that with faithful counsels
Wou'd aid his sov'reign.
CYRUS.
Thou art still my father,
My dearest father—I confess my warm
Ungovern'd temper; but I will suppress
These starts of youth, and learn to tread the path
Thy wisdom points: too dearly should I buy
The throne, if I no more must call thee father
MITHRANES.
Yes, royal youth, thou shalt be still my son,
Son of my fondest hopes;—for thee I've, watch'd
The tedious round of twenty circling years
Each turn of fate, in this sequester'd, dwelling,
Far distant from the busy haunts of men,
[Page 14]Where, but on this returning annual pomp
Of sacrifice, the print of human feet
Scarce marks the unworn turf.
CYRUS.
Once more farewell.
Yes, I will seek yon hallow'd roof to raise
Devotion's voice, and supplicate the Gods
To breathe a hero's spirit in this breast;
That when the ripening hours shall bring to light
The wish'd events of this auspicious day,
My soul, enlarg'd to thoughts of conscious greatness,
May hail with virtuous pride its birth to glory.
[Exit.
MITHRANES.
All gracious heav'n, with thy protecting arm
Defend my prince! Let me in one glad moment
Reap the full harvest of my pious toils,
And old Mithranes then has liv'd enough—
But see where Harpagus appears.
Enter HARPAGUS.
My friend,
Where is Astyages?
HARPAGUS
But now arriv'd:
I left him in his tent in gloomy silence,
As if revolving in his mind the end
Of this day's sacrifice. He sends me hither
To learn if Cyrus yet approach the borders
And what the train he brings.
MITHRANES.
Believ'st thou then
He means, indeed, to answer Media's hopes,
And give the realm a successor in Cyrus?
HARPAGUS.
[Page 15]
Trust me, Mithranes, never.—If sometimes
He feigns a momentary joy, or speaks
With seeming fondness of the approach of Cyrus,
Methinks thro' all the dark disguise appears
Some cruel purpose brooding in his soul.
MITHRANES.
Thanks to the pow'r that thus provides a victim
To frustrate ev'ry ill that thence might threaten
The safety of the prince: this bold impostor,
Who wears his name, shall with his name inherit
Each evil that's design'd him.
HARPAGUS.
Nor does Media
Owe less her thanks to heav'n, that gave Mithranes
To rear her prince to every future greatness,
In virtue's safest school, an humble station,
Far from the splendid vices of a court,
Where golden luxury, and silken sloth,
Enervate our unhappy sons.—But say,
Hast thou to Cyrus yet reveal'd his birth?
MITHRANES.

I have.

HARPAGUS.

And how did he receive the tidings?

MITHRANES.
Amaz'd at first he heard the important truth;
But when convinc'd—O had you then beheld
His generous ardour;—scarce cou'd I prevent
His filial love from seeking out Mandane,
And throwing at her feet a darling son.
HARPAGUS.
[Page 16]
Of that we must beware.—The weighty secret
Of his concealment must not be entrusted
To a fond mother's transports: not Cambyses
Knows yet this mystery of fate.
MITHRANES.
'Tis strange
Cambyses comes not yet.
HARPAGUS.
Doubt not, Mithranes,
Cambyses will be present 'ere the hour
Fix'd for the sacrifice; perhaps ev'n now
He lurks disguis'd upon the neighbouring confines.
He must be wary; well thou know'st what danger
Awaits him, shou'd Astyages discover
His mandate disobey'd—but let us part,
We must not thus be found; the king may soon
Be here; where'er he goes, pale visag'd fear,
And black suspicion, on his steps attend.
Exeunt severally.
END of the FIRST ACT.

ACT II.

SCENE continues.
Enter MITHRANES.
CYRUS not yet return'd! still, still my breast
Owns all the fears and fondness of a father—
But hark! this way I hear the sound of feet—
Some stranger by his dress—O mighty Gods!
What do I see—sure I should know that face!
Enter CAMBYSES disguis'd.
CAMBYSES.
If in this land you venerate the pow'rs
Of hospitality, direct me, friend,
To where the annual sacrifice is held:
I come a votary from distant climes,
To pay my offering at Astarte's shrine,
And view the sacred pomp.
MITHRANES.
Myself will thither
Conduct your steps—it must, it must be he.
[Aside.
CAMBYSES.
The Gods, protectors of your Median race,
Repay the courteous deed—but tell me farther;
How may a friendless stranger gain access
To princely Harpagus?
MITHRANES.
The king now holds him
On business of the state: this day the people
[Page 18]Expect to find the kingdom's heir restor'd;
If haply thou hast heard the name of Cyrus.
CAMBYSES.
Fame has thro' many a land divulg'd your story:
I knew Cambyses; both in Persia born,
One city bred us: I remember well,
A private warrior, when he sought the court
Of Media's king, till by his merit rais'd
He gain'd Mandane's hand; but dearly since
He paid the price of love with years of exile.
MITHRANES.
Shall I yet speak
[Aside.]
—Since thou indeed hast known
[To Cambyses.
Unfortunate Cambyses—but behold
Astyages is near—avoid his presence:
Thy garb would breed suspicion in the king,
And danger to thyself—in that close covert
A while remain conceal'd.
[Cambyses retires.
Enter ASTYAGES.
ASTYAGES.
Guards, keep the pass
And suffer none to enter here.
[Speaks to Mirza entering.
MITHRANES.
[Aside.]
What means
Astyages? has he beheld this stranger?
Or has some spy in evil hour for Cyrus,
Reveal'd the secret of his fate?
ASTYAGES.

Mithranes!

MITHRANES.

My sov'reign liege.

ASTYAGES.
[Page 19]

Are we alone?

MITHRANES.

We are.

ASTYAGES.
Come near, Mithranes, tell me, dost thou still
Retain in mind remembrance of the good
I did thee once?
MITHRANES.
My mind retains it all.
When first received into your royal court
I ow'd your bounty much; and when I left
The pomp of cities for the sylvan wild,
It was your hand that gave this wish'd retreat.
ASTYAGES.
Say, if my happiness, if all I sought
Depended on thy zeal, might I not then
Expect to find thee grateful?—answer me.
MITHRANES.
What is there in my power that can avail
The welfare of my sov'reign?
ASTYAGES.
Yes, my friend,
Thou can'st do much, can'st firmly fix the crown
Upon thy sovereign's brow—know, all I seek
Is in thy hand—yes, spite of our decree,
Cyrus preserv'd—
MITHRANES.
[Page 20]

What will my fate do with me!

[Aside.
CAMBYSES.

Did not my ears receive the name of Cyrus?

[Listening.
ASTYAGES.
Thy colour fades; thou dost perhaps divine
What I would say.
MITHRANES.

Thus prostrate at your feet—

[Kneels.
ASTYAGES.
No, be not terrify'd, but rise—the deed
Is easier than thy fears have form'd it—Cyrus
Believes our summons, and already comes,
With some few Scythians, on the kingdom's borders,
To wait the expected meeting—well thou know'st,
For years accustom'd to this rustic dwelling,
Each outlet of the wood, and may'st with ease
In some close ambush so dispose of Cyrus,
That he may never wake my terrors more.
CAMBYSES.

Inhuman murderer!

[Aside.
ASTYAGES.

What say'st thou, speak.

MITHRANES.

It shall be so,—my king shall be obey'd.

[Aside.
CAMBYSES.

Most impious traytor!

[Aside.
ASTYAGES.
[Page 21]
For the atttempt thyself
Alone will not suffice; thou must with care
Select thy trusty part'ners of the deed.
MITHRANES.
There needs no other but my son Alcaeus:
'Twere dangerous to confide to other hands,
An enterprize of such import—Alcaeus,
Skill'd in the winding mazes of the wood,
Thro' which, at early dawn, he oft' is wont
To urge the savage chace, shall unsuspected
Reach with a distant shart his life—
ASTYAGES.
Enough—
'Tis well conceiv'd—go then, my best Mithranes,
Instruct thy son; tell him, Astyages
Expects from him the end of all his terrors;
The deed once done I plant him next my heart,
To grow to wealth and honours.
MITHRANES.
Heavenly pow'rs!
[Aside.
Defend me still, and from suspicion's eye
Preserve yon stranger!
[Exit.
ASTYAGES.
Now, methinks, my mind
Is eas'd of ev'ry fear—Let Cyrus die,
And with him die the many doubts that shake
The bosom of Astyages.
[Page 22] Enter CAMBYSES.
CAMBYSES.
Revoke
The dreadful mandate which thy lips pronounc'd,
On by th' eternal gods, the great avengers
Of guiltless blood—
ASTYAGES.
Ha! traitor! what art thou,
That lurking thus unfeen—death be thy portion.
[Draws.
CAMBYSES.

Nay then—

[Draws.
ASTYAGES.
Off, peasant!—dar'st thou lift thy hand
A gainft the sun's vicegerent!—
Enter MIRZA and guards.
MIRZA.
Seize the ruffian,
And instant drag him hence.
[Cambyses is disarmed, and at a signal from ASTYAGES the guards retire.
ASTYAGES.
Audacious villain!
Know'ft thou what punishment awaits thy crime?
Already torture shakes his scorpions o'er thee,
And anguish claims thee as her destin'd prey:
Confess what motives urg'd thy desperate deed.
CAMBYSES.
Whate'er my motives, know, the soul that dares
[Page 23]Attempt a tyrant's life, has fortitude
To brave whate'er a tyrant can inflict.
ASTYAGES.

Presumptuous slave!

CAMBYSES.
Look here, Astyages,
View well this face; do not these features wake
Thy recollection? Twice ten years of suff'rance
Have wrought some change, yet sure here still remains
The trace of what I have been.
ASTYAGES.
Ha! whate'er?
Thou art, rightly my better genius warn'd me,
That something baneful to my nature, lurk'd
Beneath those abject vestments.
CAMBYSES.
Tyrant, yes;
'Tis not for nought thy conscience takes the alarm▪
For he's that injur'd ever is the bane
Of him that injures; let this meeting then
Rouse each awak'ning terror in thy soul,
To see the man thou most hast wrong'd—Cambyses,
[Throws open his disguise.
ASTYAGES.
Thou wretch! how hast thou dar'd to enter Media
Against our high decree? And com'st thou too,
Assassin like, with sacrilegious rage
To lift thy hand against a monarch's life?
But thou shalt find a welcome.
CAMBYSES.
[Page 24]
Yes, such welcome
As thy paternal love prepares for Cyrus;
Thou hoary ruffian! was it then for this
The nobles of the realm were summon'd here?
For this was Cyrus call'd, to fall a victim
To thy death-dealing minion—curs'd Mithranes!
ASTYAGES.

Confusion! am I then betray'd?

[Aside.
CAMBYSES.
For me!
I scorn thy feeble menaces; I know
My life awaits thy nod—but mark me well,
The time may come, ev'n now perhaps the black,
The fatal hour impends, when thou shalt feel
The avenging hand of heaven.
ASTYAGES.
What say'st thou, ha!
Does secret treason lurk amid the smiles
Of seeming loyalty? Give me to know
What mischief threatens.
CAMBYSES.
Seek to know no more;
Let it suffice I've given thy terrors birth,
And be it thine to cherish them.
AsTYAGES.
Ho! guards!
Convey this traytor to yon city's walls,
And lay him in some loathsome dungeon; there,
There shalt thou learn to speak.
CAMBYSES.
[Page 25]
Thy rage is fruitless;
Hope not from me to be inform'd of aught
That may import thy safety.
ASTYAGES.
Lead him hence—
I'll hear no further—shall a wretch proscrib'd
Revile the awful majesty of kings;
And dare his anger, whose all-pow'rful word
Can in a moment six his doom?—Away.
CAMBYSES.
Come, whither must I go? Conduct me where
The cavern'd earth unfolds her deepest prison,
Where light ne'er dawns; yet steady virtue there
Shall dissipate the gloom; there the firm soul
Shall smile in torture, when amidst the blaze
Of courts, the tyrant's mind shall shrink in darkness,
And while security surrounds his throne,
Trembles with fancy'd terror!
[Exit guarded.
Manent ASTYAGES and MIRZA.
ASTYAGES.
Yes, I feel
His threats already here; my lab'ring breast
Teems with new fears—Mirza.
MIRZA, coming forward.

What would my sov'reign?

ASTYAGES.
Whence did this daring rebel break upon us,
And how elude thy vigilance?
MIRZA.
[Page 26]
My lord,
No steps un-notic'd could have pass'd the guard;
Cambyses must have lurk'd in secret here
Beneath some neighbouring shade; nor knew we aught
Of danger near your person, till the sound
Of tumult brought us to your timely rescue.
ASTYAGES aside.
What should I think? is then Mithranes false?
Mirza, I thank thy zeal; be ever thus
And I'll reward thee—sure some deep design
Is brooding now against me—
Enter MANDANE.
MANDANE.
Hear me, sir,
O! by these tears—
ASTYAGES.

What would my daughter? rise—

MANDANE.
O never, never,—here I'll grow to earth
'Till pity, kindling in a father's breast,
Extend a gracious hand to save Cambyses.
ASTYAGES.

Cambyses!—name him not.

MANDANE.
Alas! my father,
After a tedious twenty years of absence,
Fate now returns him, but returns in vain,
If, by your anger, he's deny'd to view
[Page 27]His lov'd Mandane, to behold his son
Preserv'd; but ah! for him preserv'd in vain!
ASTYAGES.
Had'st thou, Mandane, heard his rebel threats,
His daring insults breath'd against the throne—
MANDANE.
Forgive the transport of a bosom, torn
With double pangs, the father, and the husband:
Alas! perhaps, he knew not Cyrus liv'd,
He knew not that Astyages had fix'd
This day, to meet and name him for his heir.
ASTYAGES.
And pleads my daughter in defence of him
Whose impious hand assail'd my life?
MANDANE.

O heaven!

ASTYAGES.
Tell me, when treason works the secret mine
To sap my kingdom, shall Mandane's tongue
Extenuate his offence who plans my fall?
But thou, perhaps, art privy to their wiles,
Perhaps confederate with thy father's foes.
MANDANE.
What do I hear? And can you thoughts suggest
(My soul is chill'd with horror) that Mandane
Would join in murder's black conspiracy
Against the hand that gave me life?
ASTYAGES.
I know not—
Whom should I fear? Methinks I see rebellion
[Page 28]Where duty's most profess'd! and those my power
Can shake with terror, give me equal dread:
But for Cambyses, would'st thou prove thy truth,
Name him no more—thus much a father-grants,
He shall not die—I to your tears remit
His forfeit life, which else had fall'n the victim
Of torture's sharpest pangs—but as I prize
My crown, again he's banish'd from the land.
[Exit.
MANDANE.
And is it thus my fate begins to smile?
Is this the meeting Harpagus foretold!
O! my Cambyses!
Enter CYRUS.
What art thou, that break'st
Thus importunely on my grief?
CYRUS.
Forgive
This seeming rudeness, beauteous excellence;
A son of freedom, nurtur'd in these woods,
Now shuns a fate, that threats that liberty
Which bounteous nature gave.
MANDANE.

What dost thou mean?

CYRUS.
The royal guards pursue my steps, and soon
These limbs, that 'till this hour, have rang'd at large
O'er the steep hill, or through the forest shade,
May seel the galling weight of servile chains
MANDANE.

Declare thy crime.

CYRUS.
[Page 29]
My crime was self-defence:
Th' oppressor's sword was rais'd again?s;t my life,
But heav'n then nerv'd my strength, and from this arm
The wretch receiv'd that death he meant to give.
MANDANE.
What means my throbbing bosom?—Gentle youth,
Proceed—methinks I feel some secret impulse
To listen to thy story.
CYRUS.
As but now
Alone I sought the temple, from the woods
I heard a cry of deep distress:—I turn'd
And saw two ruffians seize a beauteous maid;
Fir'd at the brutal deed I cast my dart,
And one I slew; the other, struck with terror,
Forsook th' affrighted fair, who trembling fled,
And ere I could pursue her stops, a youth
Of fierce demeanour, clad in rich attire,
With sword unsheath'd, impetuous cross'd my way,
And menac'd vengeance for his slain companion—
But see the nymph herself, whom fav'ring heav'n
Sent me to save.
Enter ASPASIA.
MANDANE.
Wert thou the maid distress'd?
And is it true, that thou hast 'scap'd the arm
Of brutal violence?
ASPASIA.
Yes, sell destruction
Was hov'ring o'er me, when behold the friend,
That freed Aspasia from impending ruin,
With peril of his own—but, thanks to heav'n,
[Page 30]My brave defender lives.—Say, gallant youth,
How did'st thou 'scape the ruffian's boist'rous rage,
That threaten'd thee with death?
MANDANE.
Relate the sequel;
For since Aspasia bears an interest in it,
My heart more freely listens to thy tale.
CYRUS.
But little now remains—the fierce invader
Still press'd upon me, whilst a river flow'd
Behind my steps, preventing all retreat;
Disarm'd, what could I do? Necessity
Supply'd me with new arms; sudden I snatch'd
A craggy flint from the rough pebbled shore,
And launch'd against the foe; a sanguine stream
Bath'd all his face, the sword forsook his hand,
And as he stagger'd round, with dying grasp
He seiz'd a bough, that over-hung the tide,
Which yielding to his weight, at once he fell,
And in the waves was lost.
MANDANE.
Is this the crime
That justice should pursue? Yes, my Aspasia,
'Midst all the anguish of a breaking heart,
I feel a dawn of joy for thy deliverance.
ASPASIA.

What new distress afflicts Mandane?

CYRUS.
Gods!
[Aside.
Was it Mandane whom I thus unknown
Have held in converse?
MANDANE.
Oh! I'll tell thee all,
And rest my sorrows on thy faithful bosom.
[Page 31] Enter Officer and Guards.
Officer.
Secure yon traitor, who has dar'd to raise
His sacrilegious hand against his prince.
MANDANE.

Against his prince!

Officer.
'Tis to his arm we owe
The death of Cyrus.
MANDANE.

Say'st thou—death of Cyrus!

CYRUS.
It must be so—mysterious Providence!
[Aside.
This hand, impell'd by some o'er-ruling pow'r,
Has slain th'impostor that usurp'd my name.
MANDANE.
And did I hear thee right? Speak, speak, Aspasia,
What meant his words?—Was C?rus then the slain?
O impious villain!
Officer.
'Tis, alas! too true,
The prince is dead, and by this youth.
ASPASIA.

O! heav'n!

CYRUS, aside.
I must reveal my self—but, no, I have sworn
To keep my birth still secret.
MANDANE.
O perfidious!
And cam'st thou then to me!—O all ye Gods!
To tell a well-feign'd story of thy deeds,
And thus deride a wretched mother's grief.
CYRUS.
[Page 32]

Alas! I knew not, princess—

MANDANE.
Peace, deceiver;
Thou knew'st too well—thy tale is falsehood all.
O my lov'd son!—thy mother's better part!
And have I lost thee thus again?—distraction!
O! my torn heart!
CYRUS.

I cannot bear her grief.

[Aside.
MANDANE.
Speak, dear Aspasia, were not then my fears
Indeed prophetic? thus to lose a son,
To find my hopes thus blasted in their spring,
A mother's fondest hopes!
CYRUS.
O heaven! you know not—
The youth who fell beneath this hand—O! torture.
MANDANE.

Guards, drag the monster strait before the king—

ASPASIA.
O princess, calm the tempest of your rage;
If by resistless fate impell'd, the youth
Incurr'd this guilt, indulgent heaven extends
Forgiveness to involuntary crimes;
Then imitate the mercy of the Gods.
MANDANE.
No more Aspasia—the relentless Gods
To me no mercy shew—my son is murder'd,
My husband doom'd once more to banishment!
What is there else remains in angry fate
To add to what I suffer! every hour
[Page 33]Of my succeeding life is mark'd for horror,
And all my thoughts are now despair and madness.
[Exit,
Manent CYRUS, ASPASIA, Officer and Guards.
CYRUS.
Go, fair Aspasia, follow and support her,
And O! in pity sooth a mother's sorrows.
ASPASIA.
A mother's sorrows from Aspasia's friendship
Shall claim the tenderest care—And yet, Alcaeus,
This bosom now has terrors of its own,
I must confess I fear—
CYRUS.
What fears afflict
Thy gentle breast?
ASPASIA.
The danger of Alcaeus:
Think'st thou I can behold the gallant youth,
Who freed me from the ruffian grasp of pow'r,
Expos'd to death, yet feel not for his safety?
CYRUS.
My safety merits not Aspasia's care;
Nor think the succour this weak arm could give
To innocence distress'd, was more than heaven
Claims from a heart, that, though in forests bred,
Glows at another's suff'rings.
ASPASIA.
Generous youth!
Wherefore, ah! wherefore has relentless fate
Involv'd such virtue in misfortune's maze!
And urg'd thy hand to shed chy prince's blood;
That hand, which seem'd by every God design'd
To guard the life it took.
Officer.
[Page 34]

Remove the prisoner.

CYRUS.
Farewell, Aspasia, and remember time
May soon dispell this cloud of seeming gui?t
Now cast around Alcaeus.
[Exit guarded.
ASPASIA alone.
Grant it heaven!
What mean these heaving sighs, these swelling tears,
Why flutters thus my heart? Is it compassion,
Or gratitude to him whose valour sav'd me?
Ah! no—I fear a gentler cause excites
These strange emotions—Spite of all the pride
My sex and rank inspire—I love Alcaeus:
This sylvan hero bears down my resolves
That still have prov'd in vain: when with my father
Chance led me first to visit good Mithranes,
I gaz'd with pleasure on his blooming son;
Again I saw, yet knew not that I lov'd him,
'Till this day's act that sav'd me from dishonour—
And yet for this day's act Alcaeus dies—
And shall he die for thee?—Ah! no, Aspasia,
The guilt was thine, thy fate has murder'd Cyrus;
Then let me seek the king, plead for Alcaeus,
And for his forfeit life lay down my own.
[Exit.
END of the SECOND ACT.

ACT III.

SCENE, A Wood. The pavilion of ASTYAGES seen at a distance.
Enter MANDANE and MITHRANES.
MANDANE.
WHAT hast thou said, Mithranes? Is Alcaeus
My son, my dearest Cyrus?
MITHRANES.
Peace, Mandane,
O heavens! be heedful.
MANDANE.

Where is now the danger?

MITHRANES.
Danger is ev'ry where: when cruelty
Extends her iron reign, we ne'er can keep
Too strict a guard upon our speech: a dream
May rouze the slumbering fury: fell suspicion
On innocence will stamp the mark of guilt,
And tyranny assumes the mien of justice
To punish crimes that never yet had being.
The genial feast, the nuptial bed, the temples
Are not secure from treachery.
MANDANE.
At least
Confirm my doubting thoughts.
MITHRANES.
What further proof
Can you require? Ask your own heart, Mandane;
Your heart will testify a mother's feeling.
MANDANE.
[Page 36]
'Tis true, 'tis true—O! I remember all—
When first I view'd Alcaeus, how my blood
Thrill'd with some unknown passion! Why, Mithranes,
Wou'd'st thou so long conceal him from my love?
MITHRANES.
I fear'd to trust maternal tenderness,
Which wisdom ill can rule; had not your sorrows
Awak'd my pity, had I not suspected
The worst from your revenge against Alcaeus,
To you your son had still remain'd unknown.
MANDANE.
And yet Mandane's wretched, envious fortune,
Spite of the sunshine that would gild the prospect,
Spreads o'er my day affliction's sable clouds.
Cyrus return'd and living must excite
A mother's dearest transports; but Cambyses
Return'd, and doom'd again to banishment,
Unseen, unwelcom'd, swells this heart with anguish.
MITHRANES.
Alas! my princess, calm your grief; let hope
Point you to future scenes of happiness:
Heav'n that preserv'd your Cyrus, will again
Restore Cambyses to your longing arms,
And give him back to liberty and love.
MANDANE.
Fain would I listen to the flattering sounds
Of happiness and peace—But yet, Mithranes,
Thou hast not told the fortunes of my child:
Relate whate'er his tender youth has suffer'd,
By what strange means—declare each circumstance.
MITHRANES.
Some fitter time must tell thee—in the grove
That leads to my retreat—meet me ere long,
[Page 37]And thou shalt learn it all—but soft; from far
I see the king approaching.
MANDANE.
Let us fly,
And bear to him the news that Cyrus lives.
MITHRANES.

O hold! 'twas this I fear'd—

MANDANE.
Thou know'st my son
Is now a prisoner.
MITHRANES.
But consent to leave me,
And keep his birth still secret from your father,
I plight my life to free him from his chains,
And give him to your arms.
MANDANE.
Is't possible?
And may Mandane in thy faith confide?
MITHRANES.
Confide in me!—Almighty powers! is this,
This the reward for all my loyal service!
Is then my truth suspected!
MANDANE.
O! forgive
Th' involuntary doubt, forgive the thoughts
Of one, who long the mark of sorrow's shafts,
Distrusts each promids'd joy—I know thy goodness;
Yes, thou wilt still prevent my busy fears,
Minister to my hopes with faithful hand,
And to preserve the mother, save the son.
[Exit.
MITHRANES.
Mandane, yes—still in this care-worn breast,
Thy Cyrus lives; time, that unnerves these limbs,
Strengthens my loyal truth—be these white locks
[Page 38]An emblem of my faith—But see the king,
Impatient for the news for Cyrus' fate.
Enter ASTYAGES.
ASTYAGES.

Mithranes!

MITHRANES.
Sir, your mandate is obey'd,
Be ev'ry fear that Cyrus rais'd, forgotten,
For Cyrus is no more.
ASTYAGES.
I know it well:
How do I stand indebted to thy zeal:
And yet, my friend, all is not here at ease,
I fear our secret is betray'd; Cambyses
Reproach'd me with the purpos'd deed; Mithranes,
Tell me what says report? Does the loud tongue
Of popular invective point at me,
Or does suspicion sleep?
MITHRANES.
No rumour yet,
Of this, my lord, has reach'd my watchful ear;
Your guards convey'd Cambyses pris'ner hence,
Nor aught from him has rouz'd the public notice
Respecting what your thoughts suggest.
ASTYAGES.
Enough—
Retire my friend.
MITHRANES.
Permit me to remind
My sovereign master, that my son Alcaeus—
ASTYAGES.
I know what thou would'st say—thy son's in honds;
Already have I in my thoughts resolv'd
To set him free, to heap rewards upon him;
[Page 39]But yet we must beware, it might be dangerous
At once to pardon him whom all the realm
Must mark for open vengeance; such proceeding
Might give a sanction to whate'er the breath
Of discontent might raise against their king.
Trust to my care—I'll watch th' important crisis—
Farewell, Mithraues.
[Exit MITHRANES.
ASTYAGES.
O! Astyages!
To what art thou reduc'd! The king's becom?
The slave of slaves—I now detest the wretch
Subservient to my fears, but death shall soon
Seal up his lips,—Alcaeus too shall die.
The fate of Cyrus yields a fair pretence—
But hold—should these by public justice suffer,
It must not be—some private hand were best—
But then Cambyses—yes, he too must fall,
Or we are lost—What dire necessity
Plunges me deeper still in guilt! one crime
Begets a thousand! Heav'ns! how is my soul
Bewilder'd in extremes of rage and dread!
I'm cruel from my fears, and from my cruelty
My fears increase, while one eternal round
Of torture plays the tyrant in my breast.
Enter HARPAGUS.
HARPAGUS.

Alas! my Lord.

ASTYAGES.
What say'st thou, Harpagus?
Why are those looks of terror?
HARPAGUS.
Mighty king,
I fear for thee; I fear for Media's safety;
Ev'n majesty itself is not secure.
ASTYAGES.
[Page 40]
Hast thou discover'd aught of treason then
Against our person?
HARPAGUS.
No—but Cyrus slain
Alarms each loyal bosom, while his blood
Calls out for vengeance on the murderer's head.
ASTYAGES.
My friend, hast thou then heard thy king's affliction?
Yes, cruel fate, at one unlook'd-for stroke,
Has robb'd my age of every promis'd comfort.
HARPAGUS.
O mockery of grief! but with deceit
Deceit shall be repaid.
[Aside.
ASTYAGES.
To increase my sorrow,
Justice forbids me to revenge the deed,
And punish on the wretch who murder'd Cyrus,
Th' involuntary crime—the care be thine
To guard him safe 'till we decree his doom.
Enter ASPASIA.
ASPASIA.
O mighty king! behold a prostrate maid,
Imploring grace.
ASTYAGES.

Aspasia, speak thy guilt.

HARPAGUS.

What means my daughter? whither can this tend?

ASPASIA.
A crime of deeper dye ne'er stain'd a subject;
'Tis I'm the wretched cause of Cyrus' death;
'Tis I'm the wretched cause that Media mourns;
'Tis I alone am guilty, not Alcaeus:
[Page 41]In my defence, alas! th' ill-fated youth
Was urg'd, unconscious, to the doed—O give
Your royal mercy breath, and spare his life.
ASTYAGES.
Aspasia, rise; and learn whate'er the motive
That urges thus thy pity for Alcaeus,
Tho' nature loudly plead within my breast
For vengeance on the hand that murder'd Cyrus,
Astyages, unbiass'd by her voice,
Will act as public justice shall determine.
HARPAGUS.
O royal hypocrite! but this rass girl
Has wak'd a thought that 'till this hour escap'd
The cautious search of all-discerning age.
[Aside.
My liege, the prisoner, by his guards conducted,
Is this way bending.
[To ASTYAGES.
ASTYAGES.
Let us thon behold him,
Tho' nature at his sight recoil.
HARPAGUS.

He's here.

Enter CYRUS guarded.
ASTYAGES.

Say, is this youth the offspring of Mithranes?

HARPAGUS.

D?ead sir, he is.

ASTYAGES.
He bears a noble aspect;
Those looks erect, that open mien, hespeak not
A lowly birth—What say'st thou, Harpagus?
HARPAGUS.
Appearance oft deceives; not always does
The polish'd court display the fairest forms;
[Page 42]And in the simple rustic's homely cell,
Nature sometimes assumes a nameless grace,
Which greatness cannot reach.
ASTYAGES.
Yet, Harpagus,
There's something in those looks that moves me strangely.
HARPAGUS.
My fears increase—
[Aside.]
Retire, my lord, his presence
But adds to your affliction.
CYRUS advancing.
Mighty king,
Ere you depart, permit me thus to approach
With reverend awe; howe'er this erring hand
May call for public vengeance, yet believe
No conscious guilt draws down the stroke of justice;
Here then before your sacred feet—
HARPAGUS.
Forbear,—
Intrude not rashly on thy sovereign's grief,
Think who thou art, and what has brought thee hither,
Let it suffice thee in respectful silence
To await the laws decree.
CYRUS.
I stand reprov'd,
And bow me to the justice of the king.
HARPAGUS.
Still do you pause, my lord, what means this wonder?
Why are your looks thus chang'd?
ASTYAGES.
I know not why:
I feel emotions never known before;
And my heart melts with sudden tenderness;
I leave him to thy care.
[Exit.
HARPAGUS.
[Page 43]
Again my soul's
At ease—Retire, Aspasia, with the criminal
I would be left alone.
[CYRUS walks apart.
ASPASIA.
My dearest father.
If e'er you lov'd Aspasia, if the hand
Of this Alcaeus sav'd her from the rage
Of an inhuman spoiler, do not sully
Her brave deliverer with the name of guilt.
HARPAGUS.

Has he not shed the royal blood?

ASPASIA.
Alas!
He knew not that the youth he slew was Cyrue,
To guard his life he but repuls'd a force
That first assil'd.
HARPAGUS.

No more, but leave me.

ASPASIA.
O!
If you defend him not, you never lov'd
Your poor Aspasia—Think you now behold her
All pale and trembling in the ruffian's pow'r,
Hear her invoking earth and heav'n to aid,
Behold Alcaeus hasting to her rescue,
And say, my father, then—
HARPACUS.
Take heed, Aspasia,
I fear me something more than gratitude
Is hid beneath this warmth—but mark me well,
Unthinking maid, and hear a father's caution:
Let not imagination raise such hopes
[Page 44]As thou may'st find too late but ill befit
Thy glory, and my own.
[Exit Aspasia.
Let all depart,
And leave me with the prisoner.
[Guards retire.
Thanks to heaven,
I can at length, without constraint, address
My vows to Cyrus, from my prince's hands
Loose these vile manacles—before him bend
The humble knee of loyalty.
[Kneels.
CYRUS.

O! rise.

HARPAGUS.
Permit me here to pay my earliest tribute;
Be this embrace the first, the sole reward
My truth shall challenge.
[Embraces Cyrus's knees,
Yet forgive me, Cyrus,
If down my check unbidden steals a tear,
When I bchold that young, that blooming grace,
Spite of my constancy, ideas rise
Of tenderest recollection—I confess
The father here—but hence, ye soft'ning thoughts,
Be witness, heav'n, above my pangs I prize
This interview, tho' purchas'd with a son.
CYRUS.
Rise, my deliverer—and while I thus
Enfold thee in my arms, accept these tears,
The sole returns which gratitude can yield
For all thy suft'rings; but above the rest,
For that unhappy son decreed to fall
An early victim in the cause of Cyrus.
HARPAGUS.
Let not the sorrows of a subject claim
The tears of royalty.
CYRUS.
[Page 45]
Does royalty
Exempt the breast from every social tye
That links mankind? Shall kings, my Harpagus,
Forget, that one inspiring breath to life
Awak'd the prince and peasant; and shall he,
The public voice proclaims his people's father,
Not feel those sorrows which his children feel.
HARPAGUS.

Exalted youth!

CYRUS.
Yes, I have beard it all.
Mithranes has unroll'd the secret page
That chronicles thy deeds; there I've perus'd
All that I owe to thee—and yet, my friend,
When I reflect, that after years of exile,
Cambyses now return'd, is doom'd once more
To ignominious bonds; when I reflect,
These eyes have never yet beheld, these arms
Embrac'd a father—
HARPAGUS.
But the hour approaches
Shall give thee ev'ry wish; as yet the work
Is incomplete, when yon declining sun
Shall gild with feeble rays the temple's summit,
Thy fortune shall assume a brighter aspect.
CYRUS.
But still, Mandane,—ever honour'd name,
Still shall she mourn a son's imagin'd fate?
Shall I not see her, Harpagus, and speak.
The voice of comfort to a mother's grief?
HARPAGUS.
Alas! your filial piety o'er leaps
The bounds of cooler prudence—let us then
[Page 46]Be circumspect, my prince; nor in a moment
Destroy the great, the labour'd work of years;
But I must hence, Astyages expects me;
Mean while, retir'd to good Mithranes' dwelling,
Securely wait the great event, which time
Prepares for speedy birth.
[Exit.
Enter CYRUS and MANDANE.
CYRUS.
O! could Mandane
Surmise, that in Alcaeus lives—
MANDANE.
This way
They led him to the king.
[Entering,
CYRUS.
What tender sound,
No stranger to these ears—Ha! 'tis Mandane.
MANDANE.
It is, it is my son, my only child,
My dear, my long lost Cyrus.
CYRUS.
Heav'nly pow'rs!
She knows me!
MANDANE.
Turn, O! turn for shelter here
Within these arms—O! wherefore dost thou shun me?
Why fly from my embraces?
CYRUS.
Mighty gods!
What shall I answer?—
MANDANE.
Scatter ?o the winds
Each lingering doubt—I am, I am thy mother—
Does not thy heart confess me?
CYRUS.
[Page 47]
O! no more,
There is a something here—forgive me, princess,
I dare no longer stay—
MANDANE.

Dost thou avoid me?

GYRUS.
Has she not known it all, and shall I still
Distract her bosom thus?—O! never, never,
Since fortune thus compels me—No, my oath
Is register'd above—the solemn tye
Mithranes only can release.
[Aside.
MANDANE.
Go on:
Think with an eager mother's fond attention,
I listen to thy words—He hears me not!
Why dost thou hold a converse with thyself?
What means that restless step?—Why is thy speech
Confus'd and broken? Hast thou not been told
That I'm thy mother? if thou hast, ah! why
Would'st thou estrange thyself? and if till now
Thou knew'st it not, why wilt thou thus receive
A mother's love with coldness? Speak.
CYRUS.
My blood
Is all in tumult, ev'ry throbbing pulse
Confesses nature's pow'r.
MANDANE.
Are these the transports
I vainly hop'd! Where are the starting tears
Of mutual fondness? Where the dear embrace,
And the enquiries of impatient love?
This is too much—either thou'rt not my son,
[Page 48]Or, to complete Mandane's misery,
Nature in thee reverses all her laws.
CYRUS.

Yes, I will fly this instant to Mithranes.

[Going.
MANDANE.

Wilt thou not speak to me?

CYRUS.
Yet, yet a while
Suspend your fond distress till my return.
[Going.
MANDANE.
But 'ere thou goest, with one poor word relieve
These cruel doubts—art thou, or not, my Cyrus?
CYRUS.
Farewell—I can no more—necessity
Compels me now to silence, but when next
We meet, this face shall undisguis'd declare
Th' emotions of my heart, and unreserv'd
These faithful lips pour all my soul before thee.
[Exit.
MANDANE alone.
What may this mean? Are then my hopes deceiv'd?
It cannot be—yet this mysterious meeting
Gives ev'ry fear th' alarm—Ye pow'rs! that guard
(If such there are) a mother's peace, remove
These new sprung doubts; and, oh! direct my steps,
Loft and bewilder'd in this maze of fate.
END of the THIRD ACT

ACT IV.

SCENE, The Wood, &c.
MANDANE alone.
MANDANE.
SUSPENSE, thou cruel state of human susserings,
Life's deadliest calm!—still, still my thoughts are fix'd
On that dear youth I dare not call my son:
Did he not plight his faith when next we met,
To ease my soul?—He did—and hark he comes,
And every doubt is o'er.
Enter CAMBYSES.
MANDANE.
Ha! can it be?
What well known form—
CAMBYSES.
Mandane! O! 'tis she,
My life's best treasure!
[Embraces.
MANDANE.
Is is possible!
Cambyses, do I once again enfold him?
Art thou escap'd from bonds? what friendly hand—
CAMBYSES.
A messenger from Harpagus o'crtook
The guard that led me—but some other time
Shall give thee all—for, O! I've much to tell thee,
And love impatient grudges each delay,
Each little pause of joy.
MANDANE.
How hast thou borne
A life of absence? how return'd again?
[Page 50]How hast thou—but I cannot speak—let this,
This dear embrace, speak where all words must fail—
Hast thou yet heard our son—
CAMBYSES.
O! there, Mandane,
Ev'n at this meeting, while I hold thee thus,
My heart weeps blood—his infancy preserv'd
From threaten'd death, bred up to ripening manhood,
Then, then to fall a sacrifice at last,
To a curst ruffian's rage!—
MANDANE.
What means my love?
O! were true, Mandane might indeed
Bid ev'ry joy farewell.
CAMBYSES.
Ha! true Mandane,
Is there a dawn of hope, that Cyrus lives?
MANDANE.
Yes I have been taught to hope, that he who fell
Was an impostor that assum'd his name,
And that the youth who slew him, was our son.
CAMBYSES.
Confirm it, pitying pow'rs!—but say, Mandane,
Hast thou yet seen this youth?
MANDANE.
'Twas not long since
He parted from me.
CAMBYSES.
As I cross'd the wood,
Where yon' tall poplars shade the dimpled pool,
I late beheld a youth, whose noble mien
Attracted my regard, I turn'd to gaze,
While with light steps he bounded o'er the turf;
[Page 51]His auburn locks flow'd graceful down his back.
Quick was his piercing eye; his manly shoulders
A spotted tyger's dreadful spoils adorn'd,
Some gallant trophy of his sylvan wars.
MANDANE.
'Tis he, 'tis that dear form that holds me now
In torture of suspense.
CAMBYSES.
But when thou saw'st him,
What said he?
MANDANE.
Little he reply'd to all
My fond address, and when he spoke, the words
Half falter'd on his tongues his thought, confus'd,
Seem'd big with something which he fear'd to utter.
AMBYSES.
Thy presence might abash a simple swain,
Brought up in woods, unskill'd in courtly phrase;
But who reveal'd to thee his birth?
MANDANE.

Mithranes.

CAMBYSES.

Ha! did I hear thee right!

MANDANE.
If we may trust
Mithranes' faith, by him was Cyrus bred
As his own son, and call'd by him Alcaeus.
CAMBYSES.
O! treachery forg'd in hell! Detested flaves?
Too credulous Mandane!
MANDANE.
Ah! what means
This frantic rage!
CAMBYSES.
[Page 52]
Alcaeus is the assassin
That murder'd wretched Cyrus, the dire blow
Was given by him, and at the king's command.
MANDANE.

What says Camyses!

CAMBYSES.
Yes, I heard it all—
When first arriy'd chance led me to the dwelling
Of this accurs'd Mithranes, there conceal'd
I heard the king propose the deed, I heard?
Mithranes promise, that his son Alcaeus
Should be death's fatal agent—O Mandane!
Judge what were then my thoughts? rage urg'd me soon
To start from my concealment, when with Mirza
The guards rush'd in, and I was made their prisoner.
MANDANE.
Where, where are now the hopes I vainly fed?
All lost, for ever lost!
CAMBYSES.
Cyrus is slain,
And slain by this Alcaeus—see'st thou not
Mithranes, fearing thy revenge, invents
This tale, to save his son from thy resentment?
Does not the silence now of Harpagus,
Whose loyal truth is known, too well confirm it?
MANDANE.
O! 'tis too plain—Alcaeus is the assassin—
Hence his confusion in my sight—for this
He flew from my embraces, and tho' he came
With purpose to deceive a mother's fondness,
His soul shrunk back, all traitor as he was,
And shudder'd at a thought of so much horror.
CAMBYSES.
[Page 53]

Could'st thou so soon believe—

MANDANE.
Hadst thou, Cambyses,
Heard how Mithranes spoke, while every word
Seem'd the pure dictates of his heart—to this,
A strange emotion that Alcaeus rais'd,
Gave sanction to the tale—and add to all,
That what we wish we easily believe.
CAMBYSES.
Has then delusive hope but lur'd us on,
To plunge us deep in fathomless despair?
MANDANE.
To lead a wretched mother to caress
The murderer of her son—O! my Cambyses,
It is not grief I feel—'tis rage, 'tis madness,—
CAMBYSES.
Thou shalt be satisfied,—
This arm, Mandane, shall revenge—farvewell
MANDANE.

But whither would'st thou go?

CAMBYSES.
To seek Alcaeus,
To pierce his murderous heart—not all the powers
Of earth oppos'd shall save him from my sword;
Where, 'wixt yon' steepy hills, th' embo'wring wood
Forms a dark vale, Astarte's fountain flows
With lonely noise; there will I wait, that path
Leads to his home—my fury now is loose,
And when this hand greets thee again, Mandane,
It greets thee with revenge.
[Exit.
MANDANE alone.
Strike home, Cambyses,
And tell him 'tis a mother gives the blow!
[Page 54]What if the traitor should again return?
He comes!—O heaven! I shudder at his sight.
Enter CYRUS.
CYRUS.
Entering.]
Bear, bear me swistly to her—some kind spirit
Breath gently on her sense, and bi [...] her wake
To all a parents rapture—Turn, Mandane,
Behold your son, your how aoknowledg'd Cyrus.
MANDANE.

O! most abandon'd slave!

[Aside.
CYRUS.
At length, Mithranes
Consents that in this wish'd embracc—
[Advancing.
MANDANE.
Forbear!
And dwells deceit in such a form!
[Aside.
CYRUS.
Ye gods!
How are those features chang'd! what means that glance
Of keen resentment! why am I repuls'd!
Or is it thus I'm punish'd for my silence
When last we met! What would my mother? Speak.
MANDANE.

The name of mother rives my bleeding heart—

CYRUS.
If I've offended, here I'll kneel and pray
Forgiveness for my fault—I swear by Mithras,
Whose chearing beam enlightens all, whose eye
Surveys the soul's recess, that while my lips,
Restrain'd by solemn ties, durst not confess
The feelings of a son, warm and alive
To nature's strongest pow'r, my suffering heart
Bled for Mandane's pangs.
MANDANE.
[Page 55]
Be still my rage—
[Aside.
There lives not one whose breast more warmly feels
Maternal tenderness—betwixt yon' trees
Methought I heard some lurking spies—these woods
Are full of guilt and treason—smiling villain!
[aside.
CYRUS.
Then let us seek some safer part to vent
These struggling passions—lead me where thou wilt,
I wait thy bidding—or if yet thou fear'st
To come with me might give suspicion birth,
Where shall we meet?—O! say.
MANDANE.

I cannot speak.

[Aside.
CYRUS.
Say, thou wilt follow, and I'll haste to where
Astarte's fountain bathes the neighbouring wood
Of thickest growth; in that sequester'd gloom
No prying eyes shall witness to our meeting
Thy Cyrus there—know'st thou the place?
MANDANE.

I do.

[Impatiently.
CYRUS.

Let me not long expect thee.

MANDANE.

Hence, be gone!

[looking furicusly at him.
CYRUS.

Celestial pow'rs!—wherefore that dreadful look!

MANDANE.

I would give way—but leave me—

CYRUS.
Yes, I'll go;
And while I wait thy coming, ev'ry breeze
[Page 56]Shall seem the murmuring of a mother's voice;
Each little sound shall seem a mother's step,
Stealing to clasp a much-lov'd son! Remember
Astarte's sacred fount—
[Exit.
MANDANE alone.
MANDANE.
O young deceiver!
He's gone!—What means my heart? Departing hence
He left, methought, a strange emotion here;
Yes, spite of all my fury, I confess
The feelings of my sex—his graceful mien,
His tender speech, his blooming years, excite
Involuntary pity—wretched mother,
What must she suffer, when she sees her son
All gash'd, and bleeding with a thousand wounds—
But hence, this vain remorse!—wilt thou, Mandane,
Compassionate the grief that others feel,
Forgetful of thy own?—no—let him die,
Thou art a mother too—
Enter ASPASIA.
ASPASIA.
Tell me, Mandane,
Know'st thou what fortune yet awaits Alcaeus?
Say, does he live? is he absolv'd, or sentenc'd?
MANDANE.
For pity's sake, name not Alcaeus to me,
My ears detest the sound—yes, curst Mithranes,
I come—inspire me now with direst rage,
Give venom to my tongue, that every word
May plant a dagger in his heart!
[Exit.
ASPASIA alone.
How shall I learn his fate!—unhappy youth!
Mandane's frantic?grief—'tis thence I dread
Some cruel mischief—but my father comes.
[Page 57] Enter HARPAGUS.
HARPAGUS.

Aspasia, where's the princess?

ASPASIA.
But ev'n now
She went from hence, in all the pangs of sorrow.
HARPAGUS.
What can this mean? Has she not seen her son?
I fear some mystery.
[Aside.]
Tell me, Aspasia,
Aught said she of Alcaeus?
ASPASIA.
No, my lord,
But when I ask'd her of his fate—with looks
All pale and wild, she started at the sound,
Then charg'd me never more to name Alcaeus,
And vanish'd from my sight.—You seem disturb'd,
Forgive me, Sir, if with a daughter's love,
I press too boldly on your private thoughts:
Indeed I am to blame—but yet I fear
All is not well.
HARPAGUS.
The time is teeming now
With great events, and think not that thy father,
When hopes and fears divide each other's breast,
Can unconcern'd survey the hour decreed,
Perhaps to fix the freedom of his country.
ASPASIA.
Ere the glad hour of peace, while dangers rise,
Shall I not tremble for a father's safety?
Cyrus is slain, and by his death deprives
The people of their long expected joy
To hail the kingdom's heir.—Who knows from hence,
What insurrections may be fear'd? the king
Is by his nature cruel, ever feeds
Suspicion in his soul; that oft' incites him
[Page 58]To break the tenderest ties—Did not my brother,
Your lov'd Arsaces, fall an early victim?
HARPAGUS.
O! my poor boy! here dwells thy fate! and vengeance
Alone can blot it thence.
[Aside.
ASPASIA.
Why, gracious pow'rs!
Was I not steel'd with manly fortitude?
Why throbs this breast with more than female terrors?
O! that a better sex had given me sanction
To share in all your toils!
HARPAGUS.
No more, my daughter,
The milder fame that waits on passive virtue,
Is woman's boast—but tho' thy gentle kind
Forbids to mix in the rough scenes of life,
Yet thus far let me tell thee, Harpagus,
From this eventful day, expects to gather
A fruit long planted, that Alcaeus—
ASPASIA.

Sir!

[with emotion.
HARPAGUS.
Be not alarm'd, I see that name has warm'd
The roses in thy cheek. Fear not, my child,
I will not chide thee; no, thou art my joy.
When first with me'thou saw'ft Mithrane's son,
Scarce now three moons elaps'd, thou may'st remember
Thy father's caution—
ASPASIA.
And these faithful lips
Have never breath'd his name.
HARPAGUS.
I know it well—
O! thou art goodness all—and 'tis with grief,
[Page 59]With tenderness I speak—but yet, Aspasia,
There is a cause—if thou regard'st thy peace,
If thou regard'st a parent's will, expunge
A passion from thy soul, which ere the sun
Descends, may whelm thee in despair.
Enter MIRZA.
The king,
My lord, requires your presence.
HARPAGUS.
I attend him:
Farewell, Aspasia, and remember—
[Exit.
ASPASIA alone.
O!
I see, I see it all,—remorseless love,
In every day of my succeeding life,
Plants the sharp thorns of sorrow—still, my father,
I will obey thee: yes, I will contend
Against this fatal passion; yet forgive me
If all is vain, at least the smother'd flame
Shall burn within, and if I cannot cease
To love, I can resolve to be unhappy.
[Exit.
SCENE. The Grove before the Dwelling of MITHRANES.
MITHRANES, MANDANE.
MANDANE.
There needs no more, Mithranes, I confess thee
A mirror of unsully'd truth—proceed
No further in thy tale—I know already
What thou hast done for Cyrus, and Cambyses
Knows it not less—Invention has been rack'd
How to reward thy worth—persidious slave!
[Aside.
'Tis true, the recompense that's giv'n, will ever
Fall short of thy desert-yet what is done,
Tho' it seem little in Mandane's eyes,
Mithranes, when he hears, may find too much.
MITHRANES.
[Page 60]
What means Mandane? wherefore speak'st thou thus
Of recompense and merits? by yon' heaven,
My soul abhors the mercenary sounds!
Learn that my duty to my prince fulfill'd,
Comprizes all reward—this humble garb
Debases not the mind: thou know'st in me
These weeds are voluntary, that I chose
To lead this life of rustic solitude,
To keep, what still I boast, this breast unstain'd,
And never prove what thou would'st seem to think me.
MANDANE.

Gods! can he thus dissemble?

[Aside,
MITHRANES.
Thou hast started
A thought that calls a blush to these old cheeks,
And wrongs my honest services.
MANDANE.
Forgive me,
I must confess, the warmth of gratitude
Transported me too far: I know full well
That to exalted minds, their deeds alone
Are their reward: and he who can attain,
As thou hast done, the sov'reign height of virtue,
Finds all within himself, tranquility
With endless pleasure, that in part resembles
The state of the immortals—speak, Mithranes,
Hast thou not prov'd such happiness?
MITHRANES.
I have;
Nor would I change it for a thousand worlds.
MANDANE.
I can no longer hold—detested villain!
Thou murderous traitor! monster!
MITHRANES.
[Page 61]
Say'st thou, princess!
Speak'st thou to me!
MANDANE.
To thee—and could'st thou think
Thy frauds would be conceal'd? and didst thou hope,
Thou wretch, that for my own, I should have clasp'd
Thy son in my embraces—no, perfidious!
I am not yet so hateful to the gods.
I've lost my Cyrus, but I'm not to learn
By what curs'd means—I know by whom he fell,
And can and will revenge it.
MITHRANES.
What distraction!
What cruel error clouds your reason!
MANDANE.
Peace!
And mark me well!—now tremble if thou canst—
Know that this instant, while I speak, thy son
Gasps for his latest breath.
MITHRANES.

What say'st thou? ha!

MANDANE.
Know too, ?hou wretch, 'twas I, 'twas I deceiv'd
And sent him to his fate.
MITHRANES.

Thou!—Heav'nly pow'rs!

MANDANE.
Now see if thou hast ought to hope, the place
Is far remov'd from help, and he who there
Awaits him, is—Cambyses.
MITHRANES.
Ah! Mandane,
What hast thou done! O! haste! at least discover
The fatal place.
MANDANE.
[Page 62]
Indeed—so might'st thou come
To intercept my vengeance—thou shalt know it,
But not 'till it is drench'd with blood, the blood
Of thy lov'd son, Alcaeus.—
MITHRANES.
Princess, yet
Have pity on yourself, he whom you think
Alcaeus, is your Cyrus—is your son—
MANDANE.

Hope not again to cheat my easy faith.

MITHRANES.
Gape earth, and swallow these time-wither'd limbs;
Heaven's swiftest light'nings strike this hoary head,
If what I speak be false.
MANDANE.
Vain imprecations!
Familiar to the wicked—where's the wretch,
Harden'd like thee, who fears with impious tongue
To invoke the gods to falsehood?
MITHRANES.
Grant but this.
While here I'm kept in bands, haste thou, prevent
The horrid deed, and if I then deceive you,
Return and vent on me your keenest rage;
Tear this old breast by piece-meal, for each hour
I've dragg'd this wretched life, invent a pang,
'Till cruelty herself shall stand aghast.
MANDANE.
O! subtle hypocrite! but naught avails thee;
I see thy purpose, driven to this extreme
At least thou would'st suspend the blow—thou know'st
I have no friend to trust, and thou may'st hope
The king mean time may hear, and bring thee aid.
MITHRANES.
[Page 63]
What shall I do? Instruct me, gracious pow'rs
O! my poor prince!—Unhappy, fruitless cares.
Have I then toil'd my age for this!—Mandane,
I here again adjure each pitying god,
In witness to this truth—the feign'd Alcaeus
Is Cyrus—is your son—run, quickly save him;
Yet, yet believe me—If thou dost mistrust
This agony of grief, thou wilt become
An object hateful to the world, and all
Thy future days shall be despair and horror.
MANDANE.

Rave on, for I enjoy it.

MITHRANES.
Mighty gods!
Do these white hairs deserve so little faith?
These furrows fill'd with tears—
MANDANE.
'Tis all in vain—
Those pangs but speak the parent—yes, barbarian,
Such is the state to which I am reduc'd
By thee—and such Cambyses feels—'tis now
Thy turn to prove what 'tis to lose a son!
MITHRANES.
Blind, wretched mortals! that too oft' exult
When misery hovers o'er them—Speak, Mandane,
Say, where is Cyrus?—thou wilt speak, but O!
'Twill then be found too late!
MANDANE.
Avaunt, thou traitor!
Hope not to shake my purpose!
MITHRANES.
Do I wake!
Where am I? ha! what darkness gathers round me!
Tell me, inhuman!—Why too cruel, gods!
[Page 64]Am I reserv'd for this—still art thou silent!
O! let me fly—but whither? some kind power
Direct my steps—'tis all in vain—behold!
He dies!—O save him, save him!—
[Runs off.
HARPAGUS within.
HARPAGUS.

I've sought him, but in vain!

MANDANE.

Sure 'tis the voice of Harpagus.

Enter HARPAGUS.
Mandane,
In happy time—hast thou beheld Alcaeus?
Unless we find him, all our hopes are air.
MANDANE.
Is this the purport of thy search—be calm,
I can inform thee of him.
HARPAGUS.
Thanks to heaven!
Direct me to him—he must now be brought
Before the people—nothing more remains
But to produce him—
MANDANE.
O! too generous friend!
I see thy aim, thou would'st appease my vengeance
With public punishment—I thank thy zeal,
But 'tis too late, already has Mandane
Obtain'd revenge—
HARPAGUS.

Revenge! on whom?

MANDANE.

On him who murder'd Cyrus.

HARPAGUS.

Speak'st thou of Alcaeus?

MANDANE.

I do.

HARPAGUS.
[Page 65]
What means Mandane? has thy rage
Attempted aught against him?—O! take heed,
Thou tread'st a precipice.
MANDANE.

Ha!

HARPAGUS.
Know'st thou not
Alcaeus is thy son?
MANDANE.
My son!—O heaven!
Speak this again—
HARPAGUS.
Doubt not the truth—Alcaeus
And Cyrus are but one.—
MANDANE.

O! all ye host above, assist me!

[going.
HARPAGUS.
Whither?
Hear me, Mandane—
MANDANE.
Let us fly, I cannot—
Cold, cold, my heart.—
HARPAGUS.
What means the deadly paleness
That steals upon thy cheek? the fatal dews
Of death are on thee, and thy trembling knees
Totter beneath their burden.
[Mandane sinks down.
MANDANE.
Harpagus,
Fly to Astarte's fountain—save my son!
Perhaps he yet may live.
HARPAGUS.
What says Mandane!
Astarte's fountain?
MANDANE.
[Page 66]
Linger not a moment,
Even now he dies, and by a father's hand!
HARPAGUS.

Almighty pow'rs!

[runs off.
MANDANE alone.
O most accurs'd Mandane!
What fiend possess'd thy senses, when Mithranes
Too truly spoke—and is there then no glimpse
Of hope?—O! none!—all, all conspires to banish
The least kind doubt—these eyes beheld my son,
I heard his lips pronounce a mother's name,
My heart confess'd th' emotions of a parent;
And yet—
[rising]
methinks even now I see him, now
His voice is in my ears!—with what reluctance
He parted from me—O! my child! as if
His heart presag'd his fate—and I—distraction!—
O horror! horror! hark, my husband calls!—
He kneels! that angel form!—those pleading looks!
Strike not—it is—it is—O! mercy, heaven!
[Exit.
END of the FOURTH ACT.

ACT V.

SCENE, another part of the Wood.
MANDANE alone.
WHERE am I wandering! this way leads—but whither?
Hold, hold, my brain!—down, down, my busy thoughts,
All recollection's madness—there a train
Of horrid images crowd thick upon me!
Yon bubbling fountain streams with blood—I tread
On mangled limbs—what noise was that—a groan!
Enter MITHRANES.
MITHRANES.
Wearied with fruitless search, methought but now,
I heard the sound of wild distress—Mandane!
MANDANE.

Ha! what art thou?

[wildly.
MITHRANES.
O! tell me where is Cyrus?
Does he yet live?
MANDANE.
Who dares to speak of Cyrus?
[raving.
Is't thou—take heed—we are observ'd—look there!
See were he comes, all pale and bleeding! ha!
Why do'st thou turn those piteous eyes upon me!
Come, come, my son—nay, pry'thee do not shun me!
Thy mother will no more betray thee—
MITHRANES.
Break,
Break my too stubborn heart—have comfort.
MANDANE.
Comfort!
Curs'd be the tongue that speaks again of comfort.
[Page 68]Snatch me, ye whirlwinds, to some yawning gulph,
Let my remembrance perish, left for me
Each son should execrate a mother's name.
MITHRANES.
What shall I say to sooth her? speak, Mandane,
'Tis your Mithranes, your old faithful—
MANDANE.
Ha!
I know thee now—thou'rt heav'n's vicegerent, sent
To judge, and to condemn me—
Thou strict inquisitor of crimes, before
Whose great tribunal—see yon dreadful witness!
At length 'tis done—and I am sentenc'd!—Oh!—
Where have I been?—Mithranes!—
[Recovers.
MITHRANES.

How fares Mandane?

MANDANE.
Harpagus has curs'd me
With all the horrid truth—and now he's gone
To save my son, but O! I fear too late!
MITHRANES.

Then yet there's hope—

MANDANE.
Haste to Astarte's fountain,
There death displays his terrors!—
MANDANE alone.
Pitying gods!
[Kneels.
In this short interval of sense, O! hear
A mother's anguish; save him, save my child;
Strike from his breast the lifted steel, nor curse
With a son's blood, a father's erring hand!
[Rises.
And now methinks some gentle spirit whispers,
Mandane, yet have hope—eternal justice
[Page 69]Can never fail—my Cyrus lives—he lives!
And I shall once again embrace—but hark!
What hasty steps!—ha! 'tis Cambyses! horror!
'Tis done, 'tis done—
[swoons.
Enter CAMBYSES, his sword drawn, and bloody.
CAMBYSES.
My soul! Mandane! speak—she hears me not,
Senseless and cold—but see, life gently breathes
Thro' her pale icy lips—direct me, heaven,
How to recall her wandering sp?rits home.
Enter CYRUS.
'Tis she, O! let me gently steal upon her,
Nor give her tender soul too soon the alarm!
CAMBYSES.

Gods! is not that the murderer of my son?

[turning.
CYRUS.

My mother pale and breathless!

[advancing.
CAMBYSES.
Pass no further.
Art thou not call'd Alcaeus? speak.
CYRUS.

I am,

CAMBYSES.
My wife!
Look up, behold your wish'd revenge compleated
By your Cambyses' hand.
[attacks Cyrus.
CYRUS.
Yet stay—O! heavens!
Tell me—art thou Cambyses?
CAMBYSES.
Yes, thou wretch!
I am Cambyses—die—
CYRUS.
My dearest father!
Defer your rage—first know me for your son,
[Page 70]Then plunge your weapon here, I will not shrink,
But bare my breast to meet the blow.
[kneels.
MANDANE.
Where am I!
Ha! is it possible! what means that form!
[raising herself.
CAMBYSES.
And shall I listen to his soothing tale
All salfe as hell—no—perish.
[attacks Cyrus.
MANDANE.
Hold, Cambyses!
[interposing.
Thou kill'st thy son!
CAMBYSES.

Ha! kill my son!

[drops his sword.
MANDANE.
My child!
[embracing Cyrus.
And do I clasp thee thus! it is too much.
CYRUS.
And do I now embrace a mother's knees?
And does she own me too?
CAMBYSES.
Amazement!—speak,
Mandane, do I dream? Can this be Cyrus?
MANDANE.
O! yes—it is my Cyrus—gracious heav'n
That snatch'd him from a father's rage!
CYRUS.

My father!

[kneels.
CAMBYSES.
Rise to my arms, my son! [embrace] how is my soul
Perplex'd amidst these strange events—Mithranes—
MANDANE.
Mithranes still is true—but say what blood
Distain'd thy sword? didst thou not wait but now
With dreadsul purpose?
CAMBYSES.
[Page 71]
No—ere I had reach'd
The appointed place, Mirza by chance assail'd me
With a few sca [...]ter'd guards; I wounded some,
Then under favour of the sheltering wood
Escap'd from their pursuit; and hence the blood
That wak'd thy terrors.
CYRUS.
At the sacred fount,
I waited long, till Harpagus appear'd,
Disclos'd a wonderous tale, and bade me fly
To ease a mother's anguish.
Enter MITHRANES.
MANDANE.
O! Mithranes,
What blest events!
MITHRANES.
The time admits not, princess,
Of long congratulations—Harpagus
Has told me all; the hour of sacrifice
Is now at hand; my prince, retire awhile;
Thou too, Cambyses, for this way the king
Goes to the temple.
MANDANE.

Must we part so soon?

CYRUS.

But for a time—farewell—lead, good Mithranes.

[Exeunt Cyrus and Mithranes.
Enter ASTYAGES and MIRZA bebind.
MANDANE.

And wilt thou leave me too?

CAMBYSES.
Mourn not, my love,
When next we meet, we meet in happier hour,
To part no more.
ASTYAGES.
Mirza, 'tis true—but hold,
Let us observe awhile.
CAMBYSES.
[Page 72]
Yes, my Mandane,
Since Cyrus lives—
ASTYAGES.

What do I hear?

[aside.
CAMBYSES.
His fortune
Shall be our constant theme.—Heav'n that preserv'd,
Has surely form'd him for a life of glory:
But I must hence, farewell.
[going.
ASTYAGES.

Cambyses, stay.

[coming forward.
MANDANE.

O heav'ns, the king!

ASTYAGES.
Let not my presence check
Your rising joys, I came to share them with you;
Disclose the wonderous truth: what pious care
Bred up his youth? where is he now conceal'd?
Not speak—Mandane—does my daughter too
Refuse this satisfaction to a parent?
Since then the father mildly pleads in vain,
The king shall force obedience—seize Cambyses—
[Guards enter and seize him.
Enter HARPAGUS.
HARPAGUS.
Astyages,
[in haste.
Thou art betray'd—haste—stop the kindling tumult,
Thy presence only can prevent.—
ASTYAGES.
What mean'st thou?
Whence this new alarm?
HARPAGUS.
The rumour spreads
That Cyrus lives, that now he's at the temple,
[Page 73]All thither run with speed, to see and swear
Allegiance to him, while the madding crowds,
With general voice exclaim, "Cyrus is king!"
"Cyrus still lives, Astyages shall die."
ASTYAGES.
Perfidious slaves!—is this the secret then
Your breasts conceal'd?
[To Cambyses and Mandane.
But henceforth I'll forget
All ties of blood, both perish by this hand,
The victims of my just resentment.
[Draws.
HARPAGUS.
Hold,
My king—if it be true that Cyrus lives,
Preserve his parents still, as hostages
That may secure his faith.
ASTYAGES.
Thou counsell'st well;
Remove them hence: Mirza, the charge be thine
To guard them in my tent; come, Harpagus,
And let us prove the worst; but if we fall,
We will not fall alone.
HARPAGUS.
Assist me now,
[Aside.
Ye demons of revenge; nerve this good arm,
And, tyrant, if thou canst, escape my toils.
[Exeunt Astyages and Harpagus on one side, and Cambyses and Mandane on the other, guarded.
SCENE. The Grove before the Dwelling of Mithranes.
CYRUS alone.
Yet, yet a little, and thy fortune, Cyrus,
Shall break upon the light; perhaps this instant
Verges on the discovery—teach me, heaven!
To bear this burst of dignity—but now
A simple inmate of these woods; and now
The heir of Media's e?pire! humble merit
Suffic'd Alcaeus—narrow bounds prescrib'd
[Page 74]His social duties, but the soul of Cyrus
Expands to nobler views; a prince's virtues
Are not confin'd to private life, but grasp
The happiness of millions.
Enter ASPASIA.
ASPASIA.
Haste, Alcaeus,
Haste, and partake the general transport! Cyrus
Yet lives, again he's found, the wretch who fell
By thee, usurp'd his title.
CYRUS.
Fair Aspasia,
How know'st thou this?
ASPASIA.
There is no room for doubt:
These plains re-echo nothing now but Cyrus.
[shout.
Hark! how applauding shouts proclaim their rapture!
Some scatter flowers, or round their temples bind
The festive wreaths, with tears of gratitude
Some pay their thanks to heaven: from rural toil
This drags his fellow; in the unfinish'd furrow
Here rests the share; there roves, without their shepherd,
The flock forsaken: mothers wild with joy,
Teach their young sons to lisp the name of Cyrus;
Even age forgets its feeble state; and children,
Taught by example, tho' they know not why,
With infant prattle join the common voice.
Enter MITHRANES and Guards.
MITHRANES.
Let us to the temple,
My prince, these guards by Harpagus are sent
For your defence—come then, and with your presence,
Ease your impatient friends.
CYRUS.
Is then my fate
Already publish'd?
MITHRANES.
[Page 75]
All is now proclaim'd,
And Harpagus has, by undoubted proofs,
Reveal'd your birth.
CRYUS.
Didst thou not wish, Aspasia,
To gaze on Cyrus? now thou may'st behold him,
I am that Cyrus.
ASPASIA.
Ha!
CYRUS.
Why droops Aspasia?
Dost thou not joy in my success, or does
The heart that trembled for Alcaeus' danger,
Repine at Cyrus' fortune?
ASPASIA.
Pardon, sir,
A simple maid, nor wonder that the blush
Overspreads my cheek, when I reflect, for me
My sovereign's life expos'd.—
CYRUS.
Rise, fair Aspasia,
And know the daughter of my Harpagus,
In her defence may justly claim that life
Her father's truth preserv'd.
Enter MESSENGER.
MITHRANES.
Dispatch, my son—
But who comes here? whence art thou?
MESSENGER.
From the temple,
Where all is tumult and dismay; the king,
Encompass'd by a rebel band, is threaten'd
With speedy death—
CYRUS.
Swist let us fly to save him:
Whate'er the errors of Astyages,
[Page 76]His kindred blood flows thro' the veins of Cyrus,
And nature shudders at a parent's danger—
Away, my friends! farewell, farewell, Aspasia!
ASPASIA alone.
Alcaeus—Cyrus! O! that fatal thought,
My father too—did I not hear ev'n now,
Of tumult and revolt—amidst the waste
Of rebels rage, where death wings ev'ry shaft,
Who knows what perils may surround his life?
Then let me fly, and intercept with mine,
The point that threats the breast of Harpagus!
Or shall he fall? which all ye pow'rs avert,
?t least partake his fate, and die beside him!
[Exeunt Cyrus, Mithranes, and guards.
SCENE, outside view of a magnificent temple.
Clashing of swords; Astyages his sword drawn; Harpagus enters.
ASTYAGES.
O! perjur'd traitors! where is now the faith,
You vow'd your king? do all forsake my cause?
No some shall yet be found—what, Harpagus,
Thou com'st in time to give thy sovereign aid,
Thy loyal sword—
HARPAGUS.
Tyrant, thou art deceiv'd
Know, 'tis by me thou fall'st.
ASTYAGES.
By thee?—confusion!
Is this thy faith?
HARPAGUS.
What faith was due from him,
Whose son thy fury murder'd? long, too long
A father's breast has borne the smother'd anguish;
At length it bursts to vengeance; and this hour
Exacts full retribution—blood for blood!
ASTYAGES.
[Page 77]

Dissembling traitor!

HARPAGUS.
'Tis not now a time
To waste in vain debate—this to thy heart,
This for my poor Arsaces!
[sight.
CYRUS.
Hold, my people!
[within.
What rage transports you? 'tis your Cyrus calls,
Save, save the king—where is Astyages?
Enter CYRUS, his sword drawn, attended.
CYRUS.
'Tis then too late—turn villain—
[Goes to kill Harpagus, who turns to him.
Harpagus!—
What hast thou done!—
O! thou hast stain'd my infancy of glory,
And late posterity will brand the name
Of Cyrus, that to ascend the Median throne,
He waded thro' that sacred blood—my king!
Lift up your eyes, behold your Cyrus here.
ASTYAGES.
Say, what art thou?—O! I have wander'd long
In darkness, now methinks the scene is drawn;
And death, that great remembrancer, calls forth
A thousand black ideas—who art thou?
CYRUS.

Your Cyrus, Mandane's Cyrus.

ASTYAGES.
Art thou
Indeed my Cyrus? art thou he whose life
My cruelty pursu'd?—but heaven is just;
Astyages shall be no longer fear'd—
Cyrus to thee, as to Mandane's offspring,
[Page 78]My crown shall now descend—my dearest son,
Be warn'd by me—still venerate the gods,
And with thy glory veil the shame of—oh!
[dies.
CYRUS.

There fled the royal spirit.—

HARPAGUS.
Forgive me, prince, howe'er resentment urg'd
This hand against Astyages, my faith
To thee has been unshaken—witness heaven,
I die, and die with joy; since I behold
Cyrus restor'd to Media.
[sinks.
CYRUS.

Ha! thou faint'st!

HARPAGUS.
Yes, generous youth!—thou need'st not seek revenge
For what this arm has done—ere I had reach'd
Astyages, his weapon pierc'd my breast,
And mark'd me for the shades—this deed of death
Was mine alone—to none my soul imparted
Her preconceiv'd revenge; then with me die
Remembrance of it—yet there's something more—
I have a daughter—O! I fa?nt!—if aught
I may implore of Cyrus, let her find
Protection—oh!
[dies.
CYRUS.
Thou most unhappy man!
Why was thy lise thus clos'd, that Cyrus scarce
Without a crime can pay the grateful sorrows
Thy merit claims—
Enter CAMBYSES, MANDANE, and MITHRANES.
MANDANE.

Alas! alas! my father!

[runs to Astyages, and kneels by him.
CYRUS.

Cambyses and Mandane here!

CAMBYSES.
Amidst
The rising tumult now, a chosen troop
Of friends assail'd the royal tent, when Mirza
Was slain, and we were freed.
MANDANE.
[Page 79]
Then he is gone—
His faults sink with him to the grave—farewell,
Farewell for ever—my remembrance now
Looks back but on those happy years, when all
A father's fondness whatch'd his darling child—
These tributary tears—
CAMBYSES.
Awake, Mandane,
To better scenes—the tempest that so long
Has blacken'd round us, shall be now dispell'd,
And days of peace succeed.
MITHRANES.
See where Aspasia,
[looking out.
Frantic with grief, breaks thro' the pitying crowd,
And seeks for Harpagus.
CYRUS.
Unhappy fair-one,
Look to the lovely mourner—thou, Mandane,
Wilt sooth her orphan sorrows.—
CAMBYSES.
Droop not, son,
But rouze the latent hero; think from thee
What fate exacts; on thee what nations turn
Their long-desiring eyes.—
CYRUS.
Alas, my father!
How shall I run this arduous race of glory?
Be present thou, and with maturer counsels
Support my erring youth: thou too, Mithranes,
Still guard that virtue which thy fostering care
First taught to bloom in life's sequester'd vale;
O! may it now thro' Asia's realms extend
The blessings of my sway, that every age
May learn to venerate the name of Cyrus!

EPILOGUE.

WEll, here I am—thank heaven! no more Mandane—
Among ourselves this bard is but a Zany.
Says I—when first he offer'd me the part,
I hope'tis nature—levell'd at the heart!
Says he—a husband thought sar off to roam,
Disguis'd, and unexpectedly comes home.
A son returns, lost twenty years, dy'e see,
To call you mother, tho' not thirty-three.
This (I reply'd) will do, if I can guess,
For this indeed is natural distress—
Distress! (he cry'd) you quite mistake the thing;
Astyages you'll find—had dreamt—the king—
I stop'd him short—perhaps it may be true,
That your old nature differs from your new.
From various causes equal sorrows flow,
All realms and times have some peculiar woe:
With us what griefs from ills domestic rise,
When now a beau—and now a monkey dies!
In this our iron age, still harder lot,
A masquerade, no ticket to be got—
Your obsolete distress may now be told—
Let's see—there's ravishing—that's very old.
There's love that scorn'd a title and estate—
These woes of love are vastly ou? of date!
Then there's your martyr to his country's weal—
What strange distress these ancients us'd to seel!
The love of country now indeed runs high;
They prove its value most, who dearest buy;
Think what our patriots pay in sterling gold,
A single borough for seven years to hold.
Tho' here in statu quo I still remain,
I've oft been married, ravish'd, erown'd and slain!
None of all these have been my [...] to-night,
So us'd to fancy'd angu [...] and [...]light;
Yet let me hope you felt the part I bore,
Give me your plaudit— [...] can wish no more.
FINIS.

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