Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

IRENE; A TRAGEDY

ACT I.- SCENE I

DEMETRIUS and LEONTIUS, in Turkish habits

LEONTIUS

AND, is it thus Demetrius meets his friend,
Hid in the mean disguise of Turkish robes,
With servile secrecy to lurk in shades,
And vent our sufforings in clandestine groans ?

DEMETRIUS Till breathless fury rested from destruction, These groans were fatal, these disguises vain: But, now our Turkish conquerors have quench'd Their rage, and pall’d their appetite of murder, No more the glutted sabre thirsts for blood; And weary cruelty remits her tortures.

LEONTIUS

Yet Greece enjoys no gleam of transient hope,
No soothing interval of peaceful sorrow:
The lust of gold succeeds the rage of conquest;-
The lust of gold, unfeeling and remorseless,
The last corruption of degen’rate man!
Urg'd by th' imperious soldiers' fierce command,
The groaning Greeks break up their golden caverns,
Pregnant with stores, that India's mines might

envy,
Th’accumulated wealth of toiling ages.

DEMETRIUS
That wealth, too sacred for their country's use!
That wealth, too pleasing to be lost for freedom!
That wealth, which, granted to their weeping

prince,
Had rang'd embattled nations at our gates!
But, thus reserv’d to lure the wolves of Turkey,
Adds shame to grief, and infamy to ruin.
Lamenting av'rice, now too late, discovers
Her own neglected in the publick safety.

LEONTIUS

Reproach not misery. The sons of Greece,
Ill fated race! so oft besieg'd in vain,
With false security beheld invasion.
Why should they fear?– That pow'r that kindly

spreads
The clouds, a signal of impending show'rs,
To warn the wand'ring linnet to the shade,
Beheld without concern expiring Greece;
And not one prodigy foretold our fate.

DEMETRIUS
A thousand horrid prodigies foretold it:
A feeble government, eluded laws,
A factious populace, luxurious nobles,
And all the maladies of sinking states.
When publick villany, too strong for justice,
Shows his bold front, the harbinger of ruin,
Can brave Leontius call for airy wonders,
Which cheats interpret, and which fools regard ?

[ocr errors]

When some neglected fabrick nods beneath
The weight of years, and totters to the tempest,
Must heav'n despatch the messengers of light,
Or wake the dead, to warn us of its fall ?

LEONTIUS
Well might the weakness of our empire sink
Before such foes of more than human force:
Some pow'r invisible, from heav'n or hell,
Conducts their armies, and asserts their cause.

DEMETRIUS And yet, my friend, what miracles were wrought Beyond the pow'r of constancy and courage ? Did unresisted lightning aid their cannon ? Did roaring whirlwinds sweep us from the ramparts ? 'Twas vice that shook our nerves, 'twas vice, Leon

tius, That froze our veins, and wither'd all our pow'rs.

LEONTIUS

Whate'er our crimes, our woes demand compassion.
Each night, protected by the friendly darkness,
Quitting my close retreat, I range the city,
And, weeping, kiss the venerable ruins;
With silent pangs, I view the tow’ring domes,
Sacred to pray’r; and wander through the streets,
Where commerce lavish'd unexhausted plenty,
And jollity maintain’d eternal revels—

DEMETRIUS

-How chang’d, alas!—Now ghastly desolation, In triumph, sits upon our shatter'd spires;

145

Vol. 6 - 10

« PreviousContinue »