SCENE, A Fountain.
Enter AMANA, with a Goblet in her Hand.
1 HAIL sacred fount! blessed by our holy prophet
2 Whose precepts, pure as thy translucent stream,
3 Cleanse the foul man, diffusing health and virtue.
4 Frequent ablutions purge our outward stains,
5 And moral laws preserve our inward pureness.
6 But hark! a caravan approaches near.
7 Quick from all eyes let me conceal my own.
8 Damsel, by heat and thirst impelled, I come
9 To seek refreshment from this hallowed spring.
10 Say, wilt thou lend that goblet?
Take it freely.
reaching it to him.
11 Heavens! what an arm, a shape, a mien, an air!
12 Such are the Houries promised us above,
13 And why not taste our happiness below?
14 She must unveil.
14 Withdraw that curtain, maid,
15 To cure my passion, or confirm my wonder.
taking hold of her.
Rude stranger, hold —
Nay then, I'll do it for thee.
they struggle, and her veil falls off.
16 Insolent slave, forego thy brutal hold,
17 Or by the soul of my departed father,
18 This moment is thy last. Say, beauteous maid,
19 Can you forgive this ruffian's barbarous outrage,
20 Or shall his instant death make just attonement?
Enter ABDALLAH, and Amana runs to him.
O! let me hide me in my father's bosom.
21 My loved Amana! my last grasp of life!
22 What monster viler than the wildest Arab,
23 Could dare insult thy unoffending youth,
24 Or force thee lave thy glowing cheeks with tears?
25 The slave who dared offend the angelic maid,
26 Waits to receive his doom from her decree,
27 And justice satisfied, too lovely fair,
28 I hope that vassal's crime will rest on him,
29 Absolving us from any purpose vile;
30 Nor may the innocent attone the guilty.
31 Injustice dwells not in a heart like mine,
32 Nor can resentment there long hold a place.
33 To you, my lord, my grateful thanks are due,
34 Who rescued me from brutal violence:
35 That wretch's rude assault I pardon, also.
36 Let him depart unharmed.
37 Excellent maid!
38 Thy mind and body sure are of a piece,
39 Bright emanations of the deity!
40 If you from insult have preserved Amana,
41 O! take a father's prayer, whose feeling heart,
42 For every wrong she suffers, must drop blood:
43 My age's darling! sole remaining stay
44 Which holds my frame from sinking to the grave.
45 O! could I see that tender lilly propt
46 By fortune's fostering hand, or better far,
47 Supported by the bride-groom rose, I then,
48 With smiles would close my wearied eyes in death.
49 O! if the purest flame that ever warmed
50 A virgin heart, for such is mine to love,
51 Unknowing of its pleasures or its pains,
52 'Till I beheld this loveliest of her sex,
53 And gazed my soul away. O! if a passion,
54 Which in a moment equals that of years,
55 Can make me worthy to possess such charms,
56 Accept that prop, that firm support in me,
57 Whose circling arms shall screen her from each blast,
58 Cherish her blooming years, and nurse her age.
59 Since heaven deprived me of its richest bounty,
60 My lost Amestris, joy hath never once
61 Pervaded this dark mansion: the busy guest
62 Now fills each space, nor leaves me room for utterance —
63 Generous young man! thy worth, thy wealth and power,
64 To me are fully known, with gratitude
65 I willingly accept the proffered honour,
66 If my Amana's heart feel no reluctance
67 To aid her father's wish, and make us blest.
68 But should all Egypt's monarch, from his Throne
69 Descending, court her to the bridal bed,[Page 6]
70 If her repugnant heart refused his love,
71 I would remit a father's stern behest,
72 Nor force my child to splendid misery.
73 What says Amana?
74 My father's tenderness has been so great,
75 That I have scarcely felt the bonds of duty,
76 As inclination prompted every act
77 Which might appear obedience; and in this,
78 The most important deed of all my life,
79 My heart feels no reluctance to obey.
80 Extatic sound! thus prostrate at thy feet,
81 Let my full heart pour forth its grateful rapture;
82 And by a life of love, and friendly care,
83 Repay the happiness I now receive.
84 Arise, my son, and may our holy prophet
85 With benign aspect smile upon your union:
86 May long and prosperous days attend your lives,
87 And every hour increase your mutual flame.
88 This day the mourning for my father ends;
89 From Mecca's shrine, to which in pilgrimage
90 I went, I now return; some Angel, sure,
91 Hath led my footsteps near this sacred fount,
92 And in reward for filial duty paid,
93 Hath blessed me with an husband's happy rites.
94 With her's and your consent, to-morrow's sun
95 Shall see us joined in Hymen's constant bands.
96 Meantime, to Cairo instant we'll repair,
97 Where choicest ornaments shall deck my fair.
98 Their rays inferior by thy eyes be shewn,
99 Which shine in native modesty alone.
exeunt Nouradin, Amana and Abdallah.[Page 7]
100 May swift destruction overtake you both,
101 And if wronged Caled's means can lend it aid,
102 They shall be well supplied. Thou Nouradin,
103 Hast robbed me of this maid; I met her first,
104 And had a prior claim. Her childish coyness
105 Would soon have yielded to my free-est wishes,
106 Hadst thou not intervened; while she, right woman,
107 Preferred the fortune to the man. Nor yet,
108 Is this the worst offence; did he not strike thee?
109 And act the bravo's part throughout? A blow!
110 What tho' the chance of war hath quite reversed
111 My outward seemings, still my pride remains
112 As high, as when in Spain, my native country,
113 I was saluted by the stile of lord.
114 And tho' the Turk hath sold my limbs to bondage,
115 The inward man no shackles can controul.
116 My abject state restrains a nobler daring;
117 Therefore I'll seek amends by cautious means,
118 And may revenge quick animate my purpose!
119 'Tis said that love has wings — But vengeance still
120 Outstrips its flight — The Cyprian queen is drawn
121 By doves — The bird of Jupiter's an eagle.
122 On eagles wings my vengeance now shall speed,
123 And in my talons grasp'd these doves shall bleed.
SCENE changes to a palace.
124 What art thou, pomp? an airy being sure,
125 Delusive shade! which fools alone admire,[Page 8]
126 But wisemen ne'er enjoy. Even substances
127 Grow vain, and mock the eager grasp; the mind
128 Sated, not satisfied with blooming beauty,
129 Lo! dull disgust pursues the tired embrace.
130 Variety's a cheat — Instead of quickening,
131 It only palls the taste; and sinks our relish
132 To depravity. The lowly cottager,
133 Whose homely wife, made coarse by labour, rests
134 Within his arms, feels more of bliss than I,
135 Who can command a thousand various fair,
136 To inspire new wishes, and revive my ardor:
137 But then it is submission, and not love,
138 Which prompts their yielding — They chuse not Osmin,
139 But obey the Sultan; while in full gust
140 Of amorous dalliance, I but feel myself
141 An happy brute, yet still a wretched man!
142 Why Fatima, with ill-timed zeal and fondness,
143 Dost thou obtrude upon my private leizure?
144 Blame not th'impatience of unchanging passion,
145 Which follows where attraction leads the way:
146 Tho' that, which once to me you urged, is dead,
147 Mine, like the fragrant mittle, lives in frost:
148 Thy chilling coldness may destroy its blossoms,
149 But cannot kill the root.
150 These strong professions,
151 Of never-ceasing love, sound like upbraidings
152 To my tired ear — I like them not — nor thee.
153 Oh! do not wound me with such harsh expression;[Page 9]
154 But since my once loved image hath forborne
155 To mark its former traces in thy bosom,
156 Yet still, in pity to my sex's weakness,
157 Restrain thy speech from scorn. O! spare the guilt
158 To thy own breast, of stabbing mine with grief;
159 Yet leave me hope — the wretch's only solace —
160 And let the jealous doubts of slighted love,
161 And not thy stern decree, pronounce my doom.
162 Oh! suffer me to gaze sometimes in rapture,
163 Upon my sovereign's face; to hear that voice,
164 Which whilom used to inspire my soul with joy,
165 And ease my heart with sighing on thy bosom.
166 Away — away — dalliance without desire,
167 Is lifeless sport — besides, it might encrease
168 Thy hapless flame; and I in generous pity,
169 Would quickly cure thy simple sex's folly.
170 Retire — I am used to dictate — not to argue.
171 Since you pronounce it, I will go for ever,
172 A banished wretch, exiled of joy or hope.
173 But dread the anguish thou hast made me feel,
174 May be repaid thee in the same degree:
175 Love is a vengeful power, and will, I hope,
176 Resent his votary's cause: some beauteous maid
177 Shall yet avenge my wrongs, and make thee know
178 Worse pangs than I do now — if possible.
179 Thy vain predictions, like phantastic dreams,
180 Vanish in empty air. I dare deny
181 That all the charms of thy whole sex conjoined,
182 Can raise, or pain or pleasure, in my breast —
183 Full well I know, therefore despise ye all.
184 Then hear, almighty love, thy suppliant's prayer —
185 If thou dost ever touch that stubborn heart,
186 With bitterest venom tinge the piercing dart;
187 Mix yellow jealousy, and fire-eyed rage,
188 And may no healing balm his pangs assuage;
189 Let him feel all love's anguish, all its pain,
190 And may his fondest wishes meet disdain.
191 May endless days of never fading bliss
192 Await my sovereign, may still ripening honours
193 Bloom round his brow, and each day add new trophies
194 To adorn his fame. Behold from Gaza's walls
195 A messenger arrived, proclaims your arms
196 Victorious o'er the rebel slaves, who now
197 All own allegiance to thy rightful sway.
198 'Tis well.
199 Now let those lofty disaffected towers,
200 That braved the heavens, and me, be razed to earth;
201 And let all those who dared oppose my reign,
202 Now feel my vengeance. Is the city sacked?
Yes, mighty Sultan.
203 Then let its name no longer be remembered.
204 But see, O Nardic! how the short-lived joy,
205 Inspired by this success, like the swift glare
206 Of lightning, is extinguished. Discontent
207 Returns, and renders still thy prince unhappy.
208 Where then may we seek bliss, if he whose nod
209 Gives life or death, while numerous nations wait
210 Attendant on his will, can yet be wretched! [Page 11]
211 Whose every sense is gratified to fulness;
212 While all of art, and all of nature join
213 To soothe his wish, and court his appetite!
214 Our bounteous Nile yields all that can indulge
215 The smell or taste, of fruits and flowers luxuriant;
216 Our minstrels cunning in their harmony,
217 Draw forth such dulcet sounds as might assist
218 Creation in her work, and animate
219 The dust from whence we sprang. But, O! the last,
220 The best, the highest pitch of mortal bliss,
221 See the collected master works of nature,
222 The lovely fair from various regions sought,
223 Envying each other every partial smile.
224 Avaunt, audacious slave! darest thou presume
225 To expostulate with me? When I have said
226 That I am most unhappy, think'st thou then,
227 Thy flattering tongue can gloss my wretchedness?
228 But wherefore do I suffer thee to breathe,
229 Thou abject thing, except to administer
230 Delight to Osmin? Then hear my firm resolve —
231 If in three days thou find'st not some new joy,
232 Some untried vanity, that may awake
233 My soul, and rouse it to a sense of pleasure,
234 Thy head shall pay the forfeit — Vanish straight,
235 Nor waste thy precious time in vain debating.
236 I have surrounded joy's capricious maze,
237 Yet cannot find the clue — Some demon sure
238 With-holds it — But I'll seek it in the pit
239 Of Acheron, or missing, sink in the pursuit.
240 Nor rapes, nor murders, shall obstruct my course,[Page 12]
241 Pleasures, like maids, must first be won by force;
242 Of them too, when we taste, we soon are cloyed,
243 And only sigh for those not yet enjoyed.
End of the First Act.
SCENE, NARDIC's Apartment.
1 TERROR, solicitude, and wild despair,
2 Pursue my steps! Each moment seems my last!
3 The tyrant seeks my life, and he must have it —
4 Where can I turn to find new joys for one,
5 Who has in vain exhausted nature's treasure,
6 And plenteous as she is, hath made her bankrupt?
7 Were he indeed a king, I might supply
8 New objects daily to relieve his languor,
9 And yield him transports beyond mortal sense.
10 To feed the poor, to comfort the distressed,
11 To usher bashful genius into life,
12 Become a parent to the orphan's tear,
13 "And cause the widow's heart to sing for joy,"
14 Exalt a monarch to an angel's rank:
15 But virtue ne'er hath warmed his earth-born soul,
16 'Tis a sixth sense to Osmin. Science fair
17 To him hath spread her lettered page, in vain —[Page 13]
18 His mind ne'er reached to contemplation's height,
19 Nor felt the rapture of a moral sense:
20 His pulse, his nerves form all his notices;
21 His heart, his soul are aliens to his joys.
22 I have sent proclamation forth, that he,
23 Who in two days produce the fairest virgin
24 To fill the Sultan's arms, shall in degree,
25 Stand next to Nardic, be the third within
26 This spacious realm. No claimant yet appears.
Enter an Attendant, and CALED.
27 This stranger, mighty lord, earnest desires
28 To come into thy presence. I have now
29 Fulfilled thy wish.
'Tis well — Retire.
What would'st thou?
30 Let Nardic's smiles from out the dust raise up
31 The lowest slave that mingles with his fellows.
32 Here may my faithful service be accepted,
33 And Osmin's arms be blessed with sovereign beauty.
Say on, for lo! my ears are all attention.
34 This day the merchant Nouradin prepares
35 To wed the fairest maid Circassia's plains,
36 Or Georgia's vales have ever yet presented
37 To the seraglio's of the South or East.
38 The fabled Venus fails of her description,
39 And those angelic nymphs which by our prophet
40 Are promised to the happy saints above,
41 But equal her perfection. Never sure,
42 For vulgar use were charms like her's ordained —
43 Our Caliph only may deserve such bliss.
44 If that thy tongue, unused to flattering speech,
45 Hath but reported truly, quick expect
46 The high reward proclaimed — Nay more, endowed
47 With all the active friendship of my life.
48 Haste then, and bring this most transcendent fair,
49 To bless my longing sight.
50 My gracious lord,
51 Without thy aid our purposed wish were vain.
52 Lo! Caled is the slave of Nouradin;
53 And shall he dare to ravish from his arms
54 The bride of his affections? Thou must lend
55 The Sultan's power, which only can accomplish
56 His happiness and ours: with that invested,
57 Instant I'll force her to your raptured gaze,
58 And prove that I want art to paint her charms.
59 The royal mandate quick shall be prepared,
60 And if our holy prophet aids my prayer,
61 She'll answer to thy boast. Come in with me.
SCENE, A Garden.
NOURADIN and AMANA seated in a Bower.
62 My beauteous bride, with pleasure I survey
63 These dazzling gems diminished in their lustre
64 By thy bright eyes, like stars before the sun.
65 But O! that glorious planet moves but slowly,
66 Stopping perhaps his course to gaze on thee.
67 Were Thetis such a bride as my Amana,
68 His chariot would outspeed the wind, and yet,
69 Not equal my impatience for the night.
70 All that I hear, all that I see, is new;
71 Yet not the pride of sudden elevation
72 Swells my full heart, but gratitude to thee.
73 These splendid ornaments, and this gay scene,
74 Attract my wonder, but inspire not joy:
75 'Tis he, the fond dispenser of them all,
76 'Tis Nouradin alone that gives them value,
77 And makes them pleasing to Amana's eyes.
78 O! were the flaming mines where diamonds grow,
79 With all of wealth and grandeur, in my power,
80 How poorly should I estimate the gift,
81 Compared to that which I receive from thee!
82 Too highly dost thou rate so slight a prize,
83 For poor Amana's heart is all her treasure,
84 There humblest duty, joined with tenderest love,
85 And grateful sentiment, shall ever dwell,
86 For thee, my lord, my lover, husband, friend.
87 Transporting charmer, generous to excess!
88 But words are feeble to express my sense.
89 Here then I make a solemn vow, that tho'
90 Our law admits plurality of wives,
91 Thy Nouradin's sincere and faithful heart
92 Shall never wander from Amana's charms,
93 Nor feel the power of beauty but from her,
94 The pride, the pleasure of his future life,
95 His whole of bliss below. Who dares intrude?
Enter CALED, and Guards.
96 Unmannered slave! what insolence to rush
97 Into my presence thus?
Then know my errand.
presenting the mandate.
With reverence I receive the Caliph's mandate.
98 Can'st thou not read it? Why dost tremble so?
99 Arouse, and be a man — I did not strike thee —
100 Thou first bereaved me of that precious beauty —
101 I but repay thee justice for thy wrongs.
102 Ten thousand daggers stick within my heart —
103 Monster, Barbarian, Oh!
drops the paper, and Caled takes it up.
104 Alas! he faints,
105 Quick let me fly to aid him.
runs to him.
106 Lovely maid,
107 Thy tender cares must henceforth be bestowed
108 On one more worthy of thy charms. The Sultan
109 In tedious languishment attends thy presence,
110 And we must not delay.
111 Oh! never, never —
112 This world hath no exchange for Nouradin.
113 Tear out my heart, pluck all my limbs asunder,
114 Wreak thy full vengeance on this wretched body —
115 But spare, Oh! spare Amana.
116 Nought but death
117 Shall ever wrest me from my love. My father!
118 Wilt thou not rescue me?
Observe this mandate.
Alas! my child, it is not in my power.
119 Since wealth can bribe thee to an act of baseness,
120 Let it, for once, inspire humanity.
121 Take all that I possess — excepting her —
122 Thou can'st not leave me poor —
123 Were all thy wealth
124 Trebled a thousand fold, nay were it more
125 Than even thought can number, for it all
126 I'd not forego the joys I feel in vengeance.
127 Now thou art answered — Quick prepare to part —
128 I will indulge thee with a last embrace.
129 They shall dismember me to loose this hold —
130 Oh! kill me, sir, and save me from dishonour.
to her father.
131 Oh! my unhappy child, thy father wishes
132 To see thee dead, but cannot give the blow.
133 Come, madam, to delay your bliss were vain;
134 If you consent not, force shall make you happy.
lays hold of her.
135 Oh! do not hurt her tender limbs, and I
136 Will quit my hold of her, and life together.
137 My loved, my lost Amana!
they force her off. He falls.
138 Curst be this clime, and doubly cursed its Prophet!
139 For whose false faith I left the only true;
140 At once abandoned heaven, and my country,
141 Renounced both worlds for my Amestris' charms.
142 O liberty! thou first, best gift, to man
143 Bestowed in Paradise — Nature's creation
144 Subject to him, himself without controul,
145 Except to heaven alone. Thus, thus derived,
146 We claim it as our birth-right. Yet, O shame!
147 Whole nations have resigned this right divine,
148 From heaven revolting, yet submit to man.
149 Albion alone preserves the blest Palladium,
150 Where every power of doing good is free,
151 And peasants may defend their rights from kings.
152 A second Eden in religion also,[Page 18]
153 In faith and practice purest among men.
154 Yet I a renegade to each advantage,
155 Tho' born a Briton, bred a Christian too,
156 My creed, my country, for a woman's love
157 Did forfeit. True indeed, my paradise
158 I have enjoyed below — But vengeance sure
159 Tho' slow, hath now o'erta'en, and my Amana
160 Is marked a victim for her father's crime.
161 Yet still, just heaven! If sin may be attoned
162 By deep contrition, weigh my penitence,
163 Nor shed the parent's guilt upon the child.
164 Oh! rather let me live while nature's powers
165 Admit existence, in that life be cursed
166 With pain, with penury, with every ill
167 To vex the mind, or torture human sense:
168 Extend those evils to my latest gasp,
169 And purge my apostasy with wounds and death!
170 Why did I part with her! Why not sustain
171 The Sultan's cruelty, and Caled's vengeance!
172 Oh! had they hewed me piece-meal, what could they
173 Have done, but kill'd me! And I now must suffer
174 A thousand, thousand deaths! But fear for her
175 Unmanned my nature quite — For in the strife,
176 They might have injured her. There, there I died —
177 Torn from my bleeding heart where is she now?
178 Perhaps encircled in the Caliph's arms!
179 Stay that ungenerous thought — tho' born a slave,
180 My daughter ever hath been bred a Briton;
181 Nor will she condescend to live on terms
182 Which her chaste soul abhors — From earliest youth,[Page 19]
183 She has been taught to know that life is dowerless.
184 Without virtue: stript of that rich portion,
185 One lot alone remains — to die with honour.
186 Therefore believe Amana still a virgin,
187 Or no more —
188 Why dost thou seek to aggravate my sorrows?
189 I hoped Amana's heart might be at peace,
190 That wealth, that grandeur might have bought her smiles,
191 And left me only, wretched — Oh! 'tis false!
192 Vile treason against love! That heavenly maid,
193 Within this hour, declared she only lived
194 For Nouradin — Then let me instant fly,
195 To save her from pollution: this good sword
196 Lodge deep in Osmin's breast — or in my own.
197 My son, attend. A thought has quick occurred,
198 Which may perhaps, redeem us from despair.
199 The captain of the guards, his name is Hamet,
200 Was once a well tried friend of mine: honest,
201 Sincere and brave; strict bound in gratitude,
202 For services, no matter now to tell.
203 And if the modes of court have not erased
204 All generous feelings from his aged breast,
205 He will both pity, and assist our purpose.
206 Should he but lend his aid, I yet have hope,
207 Of rescuing Amana from perdition.
208 But, oh! he never felt a father's anguish,
209 Nor did his heart e'er bleed as mine does now!
210 O! lose not time in fruitless doubts or fears.
211 But fly this moment, and strong urge your suit;
212 Use every argument that thought can frame,[Page 20]
213 To bind him to our friendship: if my wealth
214 Can buy his service, let him take it all,
215 And pay me with one sight of my Amana.
216 Thou need'st not seek to press a father's haste
217 To save an only child; for tho' no raptures
218 Now fire my blood like yours, more generous passions,
219 Rage 'gainst oppression, with parental fondness,
220 Have made my heart as brave as his who dares
221 The cannon's roar in battle. But my son,
222 Know that the adventure is most hazardous;
223 Therefore with caution let us now proceed,
224 Entreating heaven to bless the pious deed —
225 And if we fail, I am prepared to bleed.
End of the Second Act.
SCENE, NARDIC's Apartment.
1 WHAT strong impatience agitates my mind!
2 Would Caled were arrived. I long, yet dread
3 To view this promised maid, upon whose charms
4 Depends my life or death. Oh! the mean slavery
5 Of proud dependence! How contemptuous seem
6 All power, all greatness, which we poorly borrow
7 From another's smiles! or purchase basely[Page 21]
8 With office servile, or with treachery buy!
9 Strange state of man, to be or slave or tyrant!
10 Is there no mean condition, holy prophet?
11 Are all then born for one? No way to blend
12 Prerogative with liberty? To poise
13 In equal scales, the prince and people's rights,
14 And make them mutually suspend each other?
Enter CALED, leading in Amana veiled.
15 Now let thy servant's truth be fully proved.
16 Behold the fair Amana.
17 Her shape and stature vouch in part thy praise,
18 Her face I hope will certify the rest.
takes off her veil.
19 Transcendent charmer, dry those falling tears,
20 And let thy lovely eyes be decked in smiles,
21 To greet thy coming greatness; happiest,
22 As fairest of thy sex, I hail thee queen,
prostrates himself before her.
23 And here devote my future life, and service,
24 To the commands of our bright Sultaness,
25 The fair Amana.
26 O detested flattery!
27 Offspring of meanness and ambition, fostered
28 In courts, luxuriant soil for every vice
29 To thrive and flourish in. Know I disdain
30 The Sultan and his greatness. If indeed,
31 Thou mean'st thy kind professions for my service,
32 O! give me back to a fond father's arms,
33 To a despairing husband's bleeding heart,
34 Or with thy poignard set my own at rest.
35 Alas! bright maid, thy youth and inexperience
36 Have much deceived thee, and thou know'st not yet[Page 22]
37 The joys superior which attend on greatness.
38 Soon in the Caliph's arms thou wilt renounce
39 The mean plebeian whom thou now lamentest,
40 And thank our prophet for the blest exchange.
41 The highest transport to a female heart,
42 Shall too be thine; for thou wilt triumph o'er
43 Contending rivals for the prize of beauty.
44 A thousand fair ones shall obey thy will,
45 Who while they pine in envy at thy bliss,
46 Must still acknowledge thy superior charms.
47 I soon shall lead thee to true happiness,
48 And lodge thee safe in Osmin's fond embrace.
exeunt Nard. and Cal.
49 Rather to instant death convey me straight!
50 What will my fate do with me? Oh, Nouradin!
51 Why did my soul receive its first, its tenderest,
52 Its only feelings, from thy worth! Why was
53 Thy generous love bestowed on such a wretch,
54 Lost and abandoned now to vile pollution!
55 No — it shall never be — tho' void of means
56 To free myself by force, my daring soul
57 Shall seek some horrid way — I know not what —
58 To rescue me from force, and prostitution.
Enter OSMIN and NARDIC.
59 There stands the lovely fair, whom I described —
60 Now let thine eyes be judge.
61 Retire a while.
62 My beauteous maid, bend not thy eyes thus mournful,
63 Upon the earth, but let them shine on Osmin.
64 O let the judge of nations hear my prayer!
throws herself at his feet.
65 With eyes of pity not desire, behold[Page 23]
66 The unhappiest of her sex; unworthy far,
67 Or of his greatness, or his love: for oh!
68 Her aliened heart was wholly won, e'er she
69 Beheld the mighty Osmin, given away
70 By sacred contract, to a lovely youth;
71 And this day was to have solemnized our nuptials,
72 But for the treachery of a barbarous slave.
73 Then let not him for whom fond beauties sigh,
74 Retain the furtive prize of villainy;
75 But quick restore her to the virtuous ties
76 Of filial duty, and of wedded love.
77 Arise — but be assured thou plead'st in vain —
78 The tenderness of thy complaint hath moved me,
79 But not to pity — Since thou can'st feel love,
80 Why not sustain its pleasing pains for me?
81 Thou art not formed of coarse plebeian mould,
82 Too delicate to sill a vassal's arms.
83 I would preserve thy passion in its force,
84 But thou must learn to change the happy object.
85 The task is easy, from my own experience,
86 For I have loved before — and now love thee.
87 As well might'st thou command sweet flowers to grow
88 On the tempestuous sea, as force true love
89 To change its object. 'Tis impossible!
90 From one strong stem, rooted in both our hearts,
91 Our passions bloomed at once, reciprocal:
92 Thy breath may blast the fruit, but ne'er thy hand
93 Reap the ripe harvest. Then, O mighty Sultan!
94 If ever thou dost hope to taste the joys
95 Of mutual love, O let my streaming eyes,[Page 24]
96 And lifted hands, procure my reconveyance.
97 Or if thou enviest him this poor possession,
98 Quick let my death destroy his hopes, with thine.
99 Thou shalt not die, nor will I part with thee —
100 But know the slave for whom thy fondness pleads,
101 Shall bleed within thy sight, if in the space
102 Of two revolving suns thou yieldest not
103 To gratify my wish with soft compliance.
104 'Tis thy own fault if henceforth thou art unhappy —
105 By gentle means I chuse to win thy love;
106 My utmost power thou may'st command, at will,
107 Thy friends shall all be great; nay more, the slave,
108 The very slave thou sigh'st for, will I serve:
109 His life or death depends on thee — thou art,
110 As well as mine, his destiny — Farewel.
offers to go.
111 O! do not leave me! Thy relenting heart
112 Speaks in thy eyes, and gives a dawn of hope.
113 Thou wilt not murder Nouradin! Thou wilt not —
114 I know thou wilt not. Say his life is safe,
115 And bid me be at peace from wild distraction.
116 I have already told thee my resolve,
117 Nor am I used to trifle in my speech.
118 My words are firm decrees; and since pronounced,
119 That wretch's fate now rests on thee — Not me.
120 Then hear my resolution, fixed as thine —
121 Tho' dearer to my heart is Nouradin,
122 Than sight is to the blind, health to the sick,
123 To prisoners liberty — O far, far dearer
124 Than life, and all its joys, to his Amana —
125 Yet will I put with him, survey the mutes[Page 25]
126 Fixing the bow string round his neck, where I
127 Should fold my grateful arms, to death devote him,
128 Rather than wound his image in my heart,
129 Or stain that mirror with a second object.
130 Beware, and stop thy heedless tongue, lest I
131 Revoke the clemency my grace hath proffered,
132 And doom thy minion to an instant death.
133 Oh! I am silent, will not dare to speak,
134 Even to intreat thy pity — O Nouradin!
135 Thou can'st not know what I endure for thee.
136 'Tis well — restrain thy impetuous grief, and let
137 The tedious interval I have indulged thee,
138 Be well employed to brighten every charm,
139 Which now obscured, and deadened by thy sorrow,
140 Shew like Aurora when her infant beams
141 Hold contest with the gloomy shades of night.
142 And like the glorious ruler of the day,
143 Let genial warmth dispel the sullen mist;
144 Then in the full meridian of thy charms,
145 With perfect beauty bless my longing arms.
Enter NARDIC, CALED and HAMET.
146 Joy to thee Caled! May still prosperous days
147 Attend thy life with full and long enjoyment.
148 Our Sultan has accepted thy fair gift,
149 And owns her equal to his fondest wish.
150 Therefore with power in next degree to mine,
151 I here invest thee Aga of the guards.
152 Hamet in thy new office will instruct thee —
153 He has resigned it to make way for Caled.
154 Most mighty lord, Caled is bound to thee,
155 Thy future slave; for even those flattering honours
156 With which thou load'st him, hold inferior rank,
157 As second to the higher debt he owes thee
158 Who slaked his thirsty soul with sweet revenge.
159 But much I long to know how did Amana
160 Receive the overture of Osmin's flame?
161 True woman, I suppose, for such the sex,
162 One lover out of sight, with greedy ear
163 She listened to the second's soothing tale,
164 Forgot her vows, and sunk into his arms.
165 Caled, thou'rt much deceived — her stubborn will
166 Yet bends not — She is indeed a woman —
167 Perverse and obstinate — pleads plighted love
168 To Nouradin, intreats to be restored
169 To his embrace, or begs that she may die.
170 How would her sighs delight my list'ning ear!
171 But then I fear lest thro' her sullen coyness,
172 The Sultan take disgust, and cast her from him.
173 Perhaps restore her to her husband's arms —
174 The thought has daggers in't.
175 O fear not that —
176 He is too much enamoured of her charms,
177 To quit the fond pursuit: the power of beauty
178 Had never such effect upon his heart,
179 Since first I marked the movement of his passions.
180 Besides, his restive pride will scorn to yield,
181 And force is ready should persuasion fail.
182 He has allowed a respite of two days,
183 To abate her grief, and tune her soul to joy;[Page 27]
184 While, as he knows his own unbridled will,
185 Which like a whirlwind bears down all before it,
186 He hath withdrawn himself from the serrail,
187 To waste the tedious space in solitude,
* The plain of the Mummies, near Kairo. Sakara upon the bank of Nile;
189 Where I must now attend him, by command.
190 Thou Caled to thy charge repair, and know
191 That any who attempt to pass thy watch,
192 Within the palace wards, must die. Farewel.
Adieu, and fear not Caled's strictest duty.
193 Oh! I am well repaid for thirty years
194 Of brave and faithful services, displaced
195 For a vile pandar. True indeed, I ne'er
196 Have ravished virgins from their bridegroom's arms,
197 To gratify his satyr's lust — I warred
198 With men, not maids; and oft in heat of battle
199 At peril of my own have saved his life.
200 But that is past — his kingdom is at peace,
201 He does not want me now; and like his armour,
202 I am left to rust, too cumbrous to be worn.
203 Welcome, my antient, and approved friend,
204 Thou comest in proper time to lend me aid
205 And comfort with thy philosophic counsel.
206 Thou art the man on earth I wished to see —
207 Thy friendly tongue hath oft advised beware[Page 28]
208 The dangerous shoals and rocks which frequent lurk
209 Beneath the tide of royal favour — Now,
210 Behold me stuck aground, shipwrecked indeed!
211 Thy adverse fate sincerely I lament,
212 Thy well-proved merit claims this tribute grief.
213 But oh! my friend, a nearer, higher sorrow
214 Now fills up all my thoughts — A father's anguish
215 For an only child! My lost Amana!
216 Say, what of her? My dear, unhappy friend!
217 Has the destroying angel torn her from thee,
218 And veiled her beauties in the silent tomb?
219 Had fate demanded her, I were resigned —
220 But oh! she still survives, a sacrifice
221 To brutal force, unless thy generous aid
222 Shall join to rescue her from vile pollution.
223 By this good sword, which never yet hath failed me,
224 In hottest battle, even by Hamet's life,
225 Or what is dearer still, his unstained honour,
226 I swear I will redeem the virtuous maid,
227 Or failing, perish in the attempt.
228 Enough —
229 But see the monster Caled nigh approaches —
230 Let us retire, and plan the generous purpose.
The die is cast — my life upon the hazard.
Enter CALED, as they are going out.
231 Amana's father, in discourse with Hamet!
232 I like not that — perhaps they plot my ruin.
233 I stand on slippery ground. My elevation
234 Was too precipitate; and like the pine,[Page 29]
235 Whose hastened growth outstrips its slender girth,
236 Each blast alarms me, and I shrink my head.
237 Old Hamet's well earned post, and long worn honours,
238 He hath resigned with silence and submission,
239 Unlike a soldier conscious of his worth;
240 Therefore I doubt not deep within his heart
241 He will retain the sense of injury,
242 Which like an inward wound will rankle there,
243 'Till it break out and shew the putrefaction.
244 Tho' freed from bondage, yet a slave to fear,
245 That worst of tyrants, I am wretched still.
246 His steps I must attend with cautious eye,
247 Quickened by malice — For whom we have wronged,
248 'Tis natural to fear, and thence, to hate.
SCENE, NOURADIN's apartment.
He lying on a couch.
249 This feverish grief, and torturing expectation,
250 Drink up my blood, my bosom is on flame,
251 My nerves shrunk up, and I shall first expire
252 Before Abdallah comes to tell me — What?
253 What can he tell me! Save that my Amana
254 Is dead — or worse — a victim to dishonour!
255 His frigid age feels not a lover's pains,
256 Nor can the fondness of a thousand fathers,
257 In nature or degree, compare with mine.
Arise, my son, and let thy soul taste hope.
258 Thou dost not mock me sure, oh! quickly speak,[Page 30]
259 Say does she live, and free from brutal stain?
260 Have thy blest eyes beheld the unsullied maid?
261 Oh! say may she again be mine! My wife?
262 I have not seen her, but I know she lives,
263 And dwells in innocence; and may, I hope,
264 Again be thine — The friend I told thee of,
265 Hath proved his worth, and with his utmost power,
266 Hath promised to assist the bold adventure,
267 Therefore prepare to quit this cursed land,
268 Where tyranny is law; and innocence
269 Can find no safety, but in hasty flight.
270 If we succeed in rescuing Amana,
271 My native country shall afford us refuge;
272 But if successless in the brave attempt,
273 Our solace be that we shall die in virtue.
274 Oh! I am all impatience for the tryal:
275 To live with her were happiness indeed!
276 But if my fate that blessing shall deny,
277 Death is its next best gift. Now speak the means.
278 Know then, the tyrant, whether thro' compassion,
279 Or still in hope to soothe her to compliance,
280 Hath granted her two days to wean her sorrow,
281 To conquer nature, and submit to fate;
282 During which interval he hath retired
283 To Sakara, whence like an epicure,
284 Fasting from beauty to increase appetite,
285 He, like an hungry glatton, may return,
286 And feast his quickened sense with fuller gust.
287 O! may the grasp of death first seize his heart,
288 And cast him forth a prey to ravening vultures!
289 To disappoint his vicious purpose, know,
290 My antient friend, the kind, the generous Hamet,
291 Late captain of his guard, now subaltern
292 To impious Caled, from a twofold reason,
293 Impelled by friendship's ties, and just disdain,
294 On being thus disgraced to pay the hire
295 Of hellish deeds, of rape and treachery,
296 Will introduce thee in the Sultan's robes,
297 His yearly perquisite, at dusk of even,
298 To the seraglio, to Amana's ward;
299 From whence, by means which Hamet shall direct,
300 Thou may'st descend into the garden, where
301 I shall be stationed to receive my children,
302 And thro' a private portal straight convey
303 A treasure richer than the crown of Egypt.
304 From thence to happy England let's repair,
305 That land of liberty, and wealth, and valour.
306 Whether indeed thou rav'st of that blest clime,
307 In meer Eutopian dream, I cannot say,
308 But this I dare pronounce, that with Amana,
309 A desart would supply that heaven on earth,
310 My paradise below, is love and virtue.
311 Within this hour Hamet will doubtless bring
312 The safe disguise, by him thou must be led.
313 But oh! when thou beholdest thy Amana,
314 Beware, my son, of dalliance, suffer not
315 A lover's fondness disappoint his wishes:
316 Lose not the important moment, but remember
317 Each instant's precious to thy life, and her's.
318 Oh! that the hour were come! fear not, Abdallah. [Page 32]
319 If Nouradin's fond arms once more enfold her,
320 Again behold that face, that form divine,
321 No power on earth shall ever force her from me,
322 And leave me life to plain, as I do now.
323 Alas, my son, I doubt not of thy prowess,
324 It is thy fondness which I fear; that weakness,
325 Which only brave men know; and while it sinks
326 Their spirit as a vain presumptuous man,
327 Exalts it to the softness of a seraph.
328 Were but my life, my happiness, at stake,
329 Well might'st thou doubt the weakness of my virtue,
330 Against Amana's charms — But where her safety
331 Becomes the question, I can turn a stoic;
332 Scarcely indulge my ravished eyes to gaze,
333 Or raptured hand to feast upon her touch,
334 'Till I restore her to her father's arms,
335 O! may the blessings of a mutual love,
336 Light on you both: let me but see you safe
337 Beyond the tyrant's lust, or violence,
338 And all the business of my life is o'er.
SCENE, the seraglio.
Enter AMANA and FATIMA.
339 Unhappy fair! I pity thy sad fate,
340 Tho' quite unlike my own. I never thought
341 The chaste, the tender love that women feel,
342 Could e'er be won by outward form of man.
343 Beauty's our own peculiar character,
344 Their's, sense and learning, bravery and honour:
345 Desire and admiration are their rôle;
346 Esteem, submission, gratitude are ours.
347 Sure in some northern climate thou wert born,
348 Where Cupid, as the poets represent him,
349 Is but a child indeed — A playful god —
350 His darts unvenomed, and unnerved his arm.
351 Not so he took possession of my heart;
352 But shot himself, with his whole train of ills,
353 Into my glowing breast: thou happy fair,
354 Wert formed to inspire the passion in its rage,
355 Thy heart insensible to all its pangs.
356 Alas! thou art deceived: Amana's heart
357 Feels all the fond solicitudes of love:
358 But then it was thy chaste, thy generous passion,
359 Unhappy Nouradin! that lighted up
360 The flame in my cold bosom, which with life
361 Alone shall be extinguished.
362 Hapless maid!
363 Here I return thy pity twenty fold —
364 Alas, thou art more wretched than myself —
365 I have but one concern — with mutual warmth
366 To inspire the Sultan's breast — while doubly vexed,
367 Thou hast a love debarred, and one to shun.
368 The Caliph's fate and mine exact the same;
369 Pursuing, fled from, meeting hate for love.
370 Curst be his passion, curst his vicious love,
371 And doubly curst the hour he saw Amana!
372 Oh! that deformity would spread its veil
373 Over these few but ill-starred charms! To avoid
374 His brutal passion I would e'en forego
375 The chaste, the tender love of Nouradin;
376 Or trust to constancy to insure his faith. [Page 34]
377 Or that the sudden hand of death would seize
378 My captive limbs, and rescue my free soul
379 From the more dreaded tyrant. Some way yet,
380 I will escape — Despair point out the means!
381 If thou indeed hate Osmin more than death;
382 And art yet unprovided of the means
383 To shun his loathed embrace, I may, perhaps,
384 Assist thy frenzy; but, unhappy fair one,
385 Weigh well the desperate deed; for once begun,
386 It were too late to save thee from thy folly.
387 Thou might'st indeed rob Fatima of life,
388 But nought of mortal aid could rescue thine.
389 O! do not judge so poorly of Amana,
390 To think that she could ever be induced
391 To wrong her kind deliverer — Here I vow,
392 No rack shall wrest the secret from my lips,
393 Which with their latest breath shall bless thy service.
394 My mother was well skilled in nature's lore;
395 And this small vial dying she bequeathed me,
396 Saying, that should this world of teeming ills,
397 E'er load my life with woes too strong for sufferance,
398 I need but quaff this draught, and ready death
399 Within an hour would swallow up my pains —
400 Accept it then, for wretched as I am,
401 Even lost to hope, I dare not wish to die.
402 With gratitude sincere I thank thee for it —
403 Welcome thou anodyne of human cares!
404 I'll place thee near my heart; for oh! 'tis thou,
405 And thou alone, I fear, can'st give it rest.
406 Now, hated Osmin, I defy thy vice,[Page 35]
407 In spite of thee I shall escape dishonour.
408 Wafted on air my unstained soul shall fly,
409 And seek its native mansion in the sky;
410 A bower of bliss for Nouradin prepare,
411 And deck it with the choicest garlands there;
412 Await his coming for a little space,
413 Then live for ever in his chaste embrace.
End of the Third Act.
SCENE, A Gothic building, representing the palace of Sakara.
Enter OSMIN and NARDIC.
1 HOW poor is greatness, and how weak is power!
2 When a fond girl shall dare resist my will,
3 And yield that love which I in vain sollicit,
4 To a plebeian, to an abject slave,
5 Low as the groveling worm on which I tread,
6 Compared to Osmin's wealth, his rank, his birth.
7 My word may render that mean wretch unhappy,
8 But cannot make me blest — Even in my arms
9 The adverse fair will sigh for Nouradin,
10 And curse the tyrant for the unwilling joy.
11 And what avail her curses, while her charms
12 Shall gratify my sovereign's fond desire,
13 And feast his every sense?
14 Away — away —
15 I am surfeited of sense, want higher gust,
16 Which love reciprocal alone can yield.
17 Oh! must I never taste the fond embrace
18 Of mutual love? The ardour ne'er behold
19 Of unfeigned passion, modesty alone,
20 That brightest ornament of female beauty,
21 Restraining its excess? Must I ne'er see
22 The half denying, half consenting glance
23 Steal from Amana's eye? I may possess,
24 But not enjoy her charms — Dull feast!
25 To gorge a clove-foot satyr's appetite!
26 O! that I could transform my outward semblance,
27 And take the shape and garb of Nouradin!
28 Then might I feel the true extatic joy
29 Of being pressed with transport to the heart
30 Of this too lovely, but capricious fair.
31 The very thought inspires an half enjoyment.
32 Then why not practise the deceit, my liege?
33 I have seen this Nouradin, when late he came
34 To sue a licence out for Mecca's shrine,
35 Whither his filial piety and duty
36 Inclined him to perform a pilgrimage,
37 In zeal and honour of his father's shade.
38 He seemed a comely youth; in face and person
39 Resembling much my prince. The least disguise,
40 In the dun shades of night, might gratify
41 My sovereign's present wish: thy fond embrace
42 Would fill her arms as well as Nouradin.
43 'Twill make her happy during the delusion,[Page 37]
44 And save a world of virgin coyness: then,
45 If she be woman, she'll forgive the cheat,
46 And bless the artifice that saved her shame.
47 Haste then — supply me with a merchant's garb,
48 This night I'll play Amphytrion; absolved
49 By gods who smile at the fond frauds of love.
50 I'll enter the seraglio, steal into
51 The sighing fair one's ward, disguise my voice,
52 And whisper in her ear, "'Tis Nouradin,
53 " Thy love, thy husband! Quick let us enjoy
54 "Those transports which the sacred priest this morn,
55 " Hath sanctified by Hymen's virtuous bands.
56 "Thus, thus, w'ell disappoint the tyrant's hope."
57 O the transcending joy I then shall feel,
58 When full possessing all she can bestow,
59 I let her know 'tis Osmin she has blessed,
60 And like another Jove confound her sense
61 With my full blaze of glory.
62 I am charmed
63 At this fair scene which opens to thy view,
64 Such happy thefts exceed those dull enjoyments
65 Which willing beauty yields. This key conveys
66 My royal master thro' the palace gates,
67 Unseen by all his guards. Within an hour,
68 I will provide a dress to suit the intent,
69 Exact the same that bridegrooms wear, for such
70 We must suppose was Nouradin's this morn,
71 When habited in form to espouse the fair.
72 And may success attend my sovereign's will,
73 Equal to his and Nardic's mutual wish.
74 Cold and inanimate thou talk'st of wishes,[Page 38]
75 Who neither know'st the pride of king's disdained,
76 Nor the indignance of a thwarted passion —
77 O! could I, like another Phaeton,
78 But guide the Sun's bright chariot, for a day,
79 I'd plunge the world in deep and sudden darkness,
80 Nor ask for light but from Amana's eyes.
81 Like him too, once to obtain my soul's ambition,
82 I'd hazard mine, and this whole globe's existence;
83 For I in truth, could never yet believe
84 Our lying Imans, or their flattering prophet:
85 All that I know of bliss, I will enjoy,
86 And leave the rest to chance, or destiny.
SCENE, NOURADIN's House.
Enter NOURADIN in the Sultan's Robes, with HAMET and ABDALLAH.
87 My friends, I have risqued my life to aid your cause,
88 And much I fear, but more I hope the event;
89 These robes of royalty sit easy on thee,
90 And as thou bearest a likeness to the Sultan,
91 The guards will ne'er suspect the masquerade —
92 But should the least suspicion chance to arise
93 In any of the watch, deep plunge this dagger
94 In his heart, and speed thy course in silence.
95 If there be such a deity as love,
96 He will protect and guide me to Amana;
97 For sure a fonder votary ne'er bowed
98 Before his altar in the Cyprian isle.
99 Night too will be my friend; accustomed still
100 To smile on lovers, she will not refuse[Page 39]
101 Her aid to Nouradin. My beating heart
102 Bounds with prophetic rapture! I shall yet
103 Retrieve the angelic maid from soul offence,
104 And make her future life one scene of bliss.
105 I would not wish to damp thy virtuous hope,
106 But much I dread there is an heavy cloud
107 Hangs o'er our heads, to shower down evils on us.
108 My cursed apostasy hath brought this ruin
109 On my ill-fated house, and my Amana,
110 With you my son, tho' innocent, may suffer
111 For my impiety — So heaven decrees!
112 What means Abdallah?
113 In the distracted moment when my child
114 Was deemed a sacrifice to brutal lust,
115 And torn from thy despairing arms, and mine,
116 I told thee of my country and religion;
117 And oh! I told thee —
118 I do remember something like a dream;
119 While on the ground in agony I lay,
120 You talked methought, in wild phantastic vision,
121 Of lands of freedom, of a purer faith,
122 And judgments visited for sins derived.
123 To thee, my son, I might appear to rave,
124 Born as thou art beneath a tyrant's yoke,
125 And early taught to bend thy passive neck
126 To arbitrary sway. The mountain goddess
127 Hath never deigned to mark her footsteps here;
128 Nor yet hath heaven its saving grace extended
129 To lands of despotism, and gross imposture.
130 But what I tremble for is, lest the charms[Page 40]
131 Of my Amestris, opening in their prime
132 In my Amana, may perhaps induce
133 The curse of disobedience to our law.
134 Let not thy timorous faith forebode such ills,
135 Nor sink the spirit of our bold emprize.
136 For thee or me, the muddy dregs of life,
137 Are scarcely worth the draught. A nauseous potion!
138 Therefore, without repining at the past,
139 With calmness let us wait the pregnant future,
140 And whether death or freedom be our lot,
141 Let us receive the alternative like men.
142 My friends, I fear not for myself, my life
143 Hath filled its years; and like a full fed guest,
144 I'd gladly quit the banquet, and depend
145 On penitence sincere for future bliss.
146 But oh! I dread lest those, much dearer to me,
147 Than all the joys of earth combined, may starve,
148 Like dowerless children of a spendthrift father,
149 For my extravagance and luxury.
150 Forbear these sad reflections — If high heaven,
151 Whose justice with the tenderest mercy tempered,
152 Presides o'er all its works, if it regard
153 The ways of man, its justice will pronounce
154 Amana mine, and in its goodness will
155 Restore her to my fond and faithful arms.
156 Prophetic be thy hope — This silver key,
157 The last remaining badge of Hamet's greatness,
158 None but the mighty Nardic hath another,
159 And he most luckily attends the Sultan,
160 Will open every gate within the palace. [Page 41]
161 Beneath the garden wall we'll wait for thee —
162 If thou escapest we shall be free, if not,
163 This dagger shall release my bonds — Farewel.
164 The servent blessings of a grateful heart,
165 Raised from the depth of sorrow into joy,
166 Dwell ever round thee, and protect thy age.
looking after him.
167 But why that heavy gloom upon thy brow,
168 Ill-boding to our hopes, as low'ring clouds
169 In days of harvest, to the rural swain?
170 From threescore years of tedious disappointment,
171 I have been taught that hope is the true curse
172 Of Tantalus; and when the flattering draught
173 Seems just to touch our lips, some sullen sprite
174 Dashes the stream aside, and makes us feel
175 Our griefs increased, by bordering on joy.
176 Therefore I bid thy inexperience fear.
177 Thy philosophic lore I'll strive to learn,
178 When my tumultuous passions are at peace;
179 Then only can it rule the human heart:
180 The rudder's useless in a storm, must yield
181 To raging billows, and resistless winds,
182 Whilst the scared pilot stands in mute despair.
183 But to our holy prophet here I kneel,
184 To bless my little bark with prosperous gales —
185 Let but Amana be the precious freight,
186 No other treasure shall I wish on board,
187 Or care what course we steer — Possessed of her,
188 All climes, all nations are the same to me.
189 Where-e'er she smiles a paradise will bloom,
190 And every withered herb breathe rich perfume;[Page 42]
191 Fruits will spontaneous grow beneath her eyes,
192 And flowers to deck her bed will gladly rise.
SCENE, the Garden of the Seraglio.
Enter AMANA and FATIMA.
193 My spirits are attuned to peace and harmony,
194 And now with tenderest pity I bemoan
195 Thy ill-placed love — Surely I think there is
196 A curse attends that passion in our sex,
197 And she alone is blest whose equal pulse
198 Beats undisturbed, in senseless apathy.
199 O! say not so — It is the balm of life,
200 And even its pains delightful — What must then,
201 Its pleasures be! But those, alas! I fear,
202 I ne'er again shall know.
203 Do not despair —
204 When the first tumults of the Caliph's rage,
205 For my escape, are past, then may'st thou hope.
206 By arts of soothing tenderness, once more
207 To steal into his heart, and win his love.
208 By soft indulgence to his present passion,
209 Thou may'st revive the former in his breast,
210 And thus regain the empire thou hast lost.
211 She who would please proud man, must not disdain
212 The lowest methods to attain her purpose:
213 Humility's the garb in which their sex
214 The most delight to see us dressed — By this,
215 Their vain superiority is shewn,
216 And our dependent state upon their wills.
217 Thy calm expressions raise my utmost wonder!
218 Thou can'st not surely, mean to die e'er long,
219 Yet talk with such reflection and composure!
220 My soul is fixed, and therefore am I calm.
221 Did hope or fear perplex this constant breast,
222 The strong emotions could not be concealed.
223 What can I hope, from lust and tyranny?
224 Or what have I to fear, who in that hour
225 When I was forced from my fond husband's arms,
226 Lost the last glimpse of happiness below!
227 For thee alone, my generous Nouradin,
228 And my unhappy father, do I feel.
229 O! Fatima, this thought hath roused sensations,
230 Which I could wish had slept — I am, alas!
231 I feel it now, a weak, a very woman!
232 Unhappy fair! thou speak'st too modestly —
233 No Greek or Roman ever yet recorded,
234 Hath shewn less fear, or more contempt of death.
235 If in the hour of trial, thy firm soul
236 Support thee thus, thou art a prodigy!
237 It will not then forsake me. I am armed
238 With innocence; and none but guilty souls
239 Should fear, or hesitate at death's approach.
240 My father will rejoice at my escape;
241 And even thy grief, my faithful Nouradin,
242 Will soften into tenderness and peace,
243 By knowing I am happy — My loved shade
244 Thou wilt invoke, thy guardian seraph then!
245 Whilst I with joy still hovering o'er thy head,
246 Shall guide thy footsteps in the paths of bliss.
247 Amazing fortitude! Sure angels prompt,
248 And will reward thy virtue. But behold,
249 The setting sun hath warned us to retire —
250 Soft rest, and pleasing visions bless thy slumbers.
251 Adieu, my friend, may every happiness
252 Thou prayest for me, await thee in return;
253 May Osmin, since it is thy wish, restore
254 That aliened heart which thou hast bought so dear.
255 My senses are oppressed — Within this bower
256 I will indulge their bent — Spirits benign!
257 Who rule o'er dusk and dawn, watch and protect me
258 From all the dangers of the sullen night —
259 And O! if virgin thoughts as pure as snow,
260 May hope for favour from ye, send a dream
261 Of Nouradin, my lost, my hapless lord!
262 Let him be present to my sleeping eyes,
263 Whom waking I shall never more behold,
264 Or in these faithful arms again enfold;
265 In gentlest whispers let him breathe his love,
266 Then sighing leave me like the widowed dove.
End of the Fourth Act.
SCENE before the Palace.
Enter the SULTAN disguised.
1 I Have safely passed thro' all the several gates,
2 And windings of these spacious courts, and trod[Page 45]
3 In paths I never traced before — This door
4 Leads into the serrail, and brings me near
5 The summit of my joy — Why do I not
6 Anticipate my bliss, feel all o'er rapture?
7 No — I despise myself for such mean arts,
8 To put on this disguise, and counterfeit
9 A vassal's semblance thus, to gain — a Woman!
10 Curse on the vulgar passion that enslaves us,
11 Which ever is at war with reason's laws,
12 And so fortuitous, we scarcely find
13 Two hearts united in one mutual flame,
14 While adverse loves still jostle one another.
15 Oh! 'tis the plague of man — and woman too.
16 But what are they? The very sport of nature;
17 Formed solely for our use, like the fair flower
18 That blooms but to be cropt, then cast away.
19 Now let me haste to rifle its perfume,
20 Then loath the withering stalk.
opens the door, out of which Caled. rushes and draws his sword.
20 Ha! what art thou!
21 Beyond my wish, beyond my utmost hope,
22 This lucky incident hath intervened —
23 I thank thee, gracious Alha! thou poor wretch,
24 As thou hast raised, art bent to fix my fortunes.
25 Thy head shall shower down honours upon mine.
26 This instant I'll convey it to the Sultan,
27 Who highly will reward me for the prize.
28 What means the frantic slave? Avaunt, and know
29 Thy Sultan stands before thee — Quick retire,
30 Or instant death shall quit thy insolence.
31 Think'st thou thy ravings can affect my brain? [Page 46]
32 The shades of night are not so far advanced,
33 But I can spy the heroe Nouradin,
34 Who for a girl's caprice, so bravely struck
35 His late dependant, his superior now.
36 The conference 'twixt Hamet and Abdallah,
37 I guessed might be for some such hopeful purpose,
38 And therefore, quite beyond my line of duty,
39 I have attended to this pass; and now
40 Shall make thy bridal robes thy funeral weeds.
41 Resistance all is vain, therefore submit.
Thus then I recompence thy officious duty.
they fight, are both wounded, and fall.
42 Thou hast reached my heart, but well I think my sword
43 Hath met with thine — Thou shalt not triumph long,
44 Nor reap the fruits of thy rebellion — Oh!
45 Too sure his weapon has been busy here —
46 My heart impatient of the least controul,
47 Full of indignant rage opposed its point,
48 And now I bleed to death. Oh! the disgrace,
49 The shame that will attend my memory,
50 When I am found disguised, and by a slave
51 O'erpowered, in mean attempt to win a vassal!
52 This — this wounds deeper than the fatal steel.
53 Curse on the wayward sex — Curse my tame folly —
54 And oh! Curse —
SCENE, An Apartment in the Seraglio.
Enter NOURADIN, in the Sultan's Robes.
55 To that blest providence which hitherto
56 Hath led my unerring steps thro' all the turns[Page 47]
57 And mazes of this palace, I with awe
58 And reverential gratitude, here bend.
59 O! power benign! continue thy protection,
60 And grant the arduous enterprize success.
61 Unless my speech betray me, the deep gloom,
62 Which now involves the world, will safe conceal
63 The honest fraud. Hamet desired me strike
64 Thus on the floor, when I would be attended.
he stamps, and enter a female attendant.
65 Go bring Amana to my presence straight,
66 And upon pain of death, let none else enter.
67 To gain this mighty realm I'd not endure,
68 But for another day, the strong emotions
69 Of hope and fear, which agitate my mind.
70 But 'tis an higher prize than wealth or power,
71 That stirs up my ambition — 'Tis Amana,
72 Whose love rewards my hazard and my pains.
73 I had forgot that Hamet bid me enter
74 The close pavilion at this gallery's end;
75 Where Osmin still employs his vacant hours,
76 In amorous dalliance with the alternate fair;
77 And whither none uncalled, dare come. 'Tis here —
going to the side of the stage.
78 I cannot calm my spirits — My full heart
79 Beats at my breast, as if to force a passage
80 To my beloved, my betrothed Amana —
81 An universal tremor shakes my frame!
82 Sure 'tis the approaching joy of seeing her,
83 That makes this tumult here. I must, I will
84 Indulge my flattered soul in the fond triumph
85 Of seeing her disdainful hate of Osmin,[Page 48]
86 Quick change to tenderest love for Nouradin.
87 Would this important hour were past —
88 I will retire, and wait the wished event.
enters the pavilion.
SCENE draws, and discovers Amana in a Bower, rising from a Couch. The Attendant waiting.
89 Why did you wake me from the sweetest sleep
90 I ever yet enjoyed? My Nouradin
91 Soft called Amana, bid me rise and walk;
92 Straight I obeyed, and on he led my steps
93 To the Elysian fields; or if there be
94 A place more beautiful, 'twas there — While he
95 With converse fond, but chaste, engaged my ear,
96 And sighed out vows of never ceasing love.
97 He promised too, that we should part no more,
98 But smile at tyranny, and death defie.
99 Oh! 'twas a dear delusion!
100 'Twas no more —
101 The Sultan has this moment summoned you
102 To attend his pleasure in the close pavilion;
103 Else I had not disturbed your happy slumber.
104 The Sultan, said you? What! is he returned!
105 Did he not promise me a poor two days,
106 And is this pittance now curtailed to half?
107 But what's a day, a week, a year, to me,
108 Whose fate's already fixed, and soul resolved!
109 Then why should I resent this breach of faith,
110 Or start at hastening from the griefs I feel,
111 And speeding to the land of peace and rest?
112 Retire a while, I shall obey the Sultan.
Attendant retires to the back of the scene.[Page 49]
113 Now, now, Amana, summon all thy courage —
114 What means this chilling damp that clings around me!
115 Why do I tremble thus! my tottering limbs
116 Why should they now refuse their wonted aid!
117 A little longer, and I shall not want it;
118 But pale and cold stretched on my parent earth,
119 No longer be a burthen to myself.
120 Can love of life have power o'er the unhappy!
121 Or shall a wretch who languishes in prison,
122 Refuse to be set free? The instinctive voice
123 Perhaps of nature, pleads too strongly here,
124 And silences the stiller pleas of virtue.
125 But cannot love inspire my timid sex?
126 Shall I be led a willing sacrifice
127 To gratify a mean and gross desire!
128 O never! Death has lost its terrors now.
129 This cordial draught shall lead me to his arms,
130 To peace and Nouradin —
130 'Tis done, and now,
131 Fear, hope, and every passion of the soul,
132 Are all extinct, but love — That still remains,
133 And in my latest moments will prevail
134 In prayers and blessings on my Nouradin.
135 What strengthening power hath braced my sinews thus?
136 'Tis love, 'tis hope, 'tis immortality!
137 Lavinia come — Attend me to the Sultan.
SCENE, The Pavilion. The Stage darkened.
Enter AMANA, and Attendant, the latter retires.
138 Approach, my fair, nor longer now delay
139 Thy suppliant monarch's bliss, whose fond impatience[Page 50]
140 Hath urged him to infringe his royal word,
141 And make a sacrifice to love, transcending far
142 What he requests from thee. Reduce him not
143 To win by force, what he would owe to favour —
144 Believe me the rich bounties of thy love,
145 Shall not be spent on my sole luxury,
146 But treasured in my heart, to be repaid
147 With grateful use, to purchase joys for thee.
148 Banish those vicious hopes, and know that I
149 Nor dread thy power, nor supplicate thy pity.
150 Thou see'st no more the weeping, trembling maid,
151 Who late implored thy grace — But one who comes
152 To dare thy rage, and prove its impotence.
Whence comes this boast? What means the frantic fair!
153 She means to pour out her whole soul before thee,
154 Its love, its hate, without disguise or fear;
155 To curse thee tyrant from her wounded heart,
156 And breathe forth fervent wishes for thy rival.
157 May every joy of which thou hast deprived him,
158 Be doubled tenfold by all gracious heaven;
159 May long and happy days attend him here,
160 And may we meet again in that blest place,
161 Where tyrants ne'er can come, to part us more.
162 Thy prayers are prophesies, my virtuous bride!
163 Behold thy fondest wishes are fulfilled,
164 And underneath this hated garb thou see'st
165 The happy Nouradin! O! let me press
166 Thy constant heart close to his faithful breast.
shrieks, and faints.
167 She faints! the strong surprize hath overpowered[Page 51]
168 Her delicate and agitated frame —
169 Awake, my love — My soul's immortal joy
170 Revive, and bless me with a look, a word!
Oh Nouradin! fly, fly this hated place —
171 Come let me bear thee in these longing arms,
172 Convey thee quick from out these cursed walls,
173 And give thee back to love and liberty.
174 Alas! my bounds are set! I ne'er shall quit
175 This fatal spot, 'till soul and body part.
176 Dost thou indeed refuse to go with me!
177 Has bondage then such charms, or has thy tongue
178 Belied thy heart in feigning generous love,
179 To enhance thy sacrifice to princely grandeur?
180 O! cease to wound me by unkind suspicion!
181 My heart is wholly thine — The last sad drops
182 It e'er shall weep, will be fond tears for thee.
183 Why then, thou angel maid, wilt thou provoke
184 Our adverse fate, by this ill-timed delay?
185 Alas! I fear to tell what must be known,
186 For now ten thousand fires rage in my bosom,
187 Oh Nouradin!
188 I am on the rack! what mean these strong convulsions!
189 Speak quickly, my heart's love — I am all distraction.
190 That pang is past; and if my strength will hold,
191 I'll tell thee the sad tale of woe.
192 O stay!
193 Whilst thou hast ease let me convey thee hence.
194 Alas, my love! it is impossible.
195 Death riots in my veins.
Death! Said you death!
196 Too sure he has possession of my heart,
197 Thy only rival there! O Nouradin!
198 He grasps me hard, wilt thou not struggle with him!
199 I would contend with the united world,
200 To save my more than life. But say, O! say,
201 How camest thou thus! I press, yet dread to know.
202 When torn from thee, and my unhappy father,
203 And led a captive to the foul serrail,
204 I firm resolved to die e'er flames impure
205 Should blast this shrine, hallowed to love, and thee.
206 A rival sultaness approved my vow,
207 And whether moved by jealousy or pity,
208 Supplied the deadly draught which late I drank,
209 When summoned to attend the tyrant's will,
210 In this lewd scene of infamy and vice.
211 Now, now, I feel its baneful influence
212 Too strong for mortal powers —
213 O holy prophet!
214 Exchange my life for her's!
215 O Nouradin!
216 Forgive this fatal rashness — Had I staid
217 A few short moments, we had now been blest;
218 But wresting from the hand of providence
219 The means of my escape, we both are wretched.
220 But love and virtue called, and here resigned,
221 I fall a sacrifice to heaven, and thee —
223 Speak on, tho' every word thy lips may utter,
224 Be daggers here — Yet O! Speak on, and live!
225 And art thou silent then! Shall I ne'er hear
226 Thy tender, tuneful voice once more! Nay then,[Page 53]
227 No other mournful tale shall ever vex
228 My wounded ear, or grieve my tortured breast.
229 Thus, from all future anguish am I free!
230 My life, my soul shall follow my Amana.
stabs himself, and dies.
Enter NARDIC, and FATIMA, with Lights.
HAMET and ABDALLAH, guarded.
231 The Sultan's slain — Secure those hoary traitors —
232 The rack shall force them to reveal their crimes —
233 What's here! Another Osmin dead! and by him
234 The fair Amana!
O! my unhappy children!
235 Then all is at an end — Now Nardic, know
236 I plotted not the Caliph's death; but sought
237 That maid's release; and in those royal robes
238 I gained admittance for that injured youth —
239 How heaven hath countermined our honest purpose,
240 I cannot say; but this I know, that I
241 Am ready to resign a life, which both
242 My years, and this world's base ingratitude,
243 Have now made stale, and absynth to my sense.
244 Convey him to the dungeon, and the wheel.
245 Dost thou know aught of this sad tragedy?
246 My strong remorse, alas! too plainly shews
247 I am in part, an actor in this scene;
248 Tho' wholly guiltless of the Sultan's death.
249 How far concerned in this catastrophé,
250 When the fierce passions which now tear my soul,
251 Will give me leave, I shall with truth relate.
252 O! turn your vengeance on this guilty wretch! [Page 54]
253 'Tis I am the curst source of all these sorrows —
254 My darling child that now lies dead before you,
255 Was sacrificed by me — Curse on this head,
256 And these grey hairs, which have involved you both,
257 In guilt like mine.
kneeling over the dead bodies.
258 Thy wretchedness, old man,
259 Hath turned thy brain — How could thy feeble arm
260 Have power to bring these dread events to pass?
261 Not mine indeed, but heaven's avenging hand
262 Hath struck this heavy blow — The Sultan's vice
263 Hath earned his fate — For tyranny should bleed!
264 But these unhappy innocents were doomed
265 For my foul crimes, my vile apostasy;
266 For quitting heaven, and native liberty —
267 Let those who dwell in Albion's happy land,
268 Grateful acknowledge heaven's most bounteous hand:
269 Its choicest boon in freedom is bestowed,
270 And their best praise to its protector owed;
271 Who not in Britain's cause alone sustains
272 The toils of council, and of hostile plains:
273 The world's great champion, born for all mankind,
274 In whom the oppressed a certain refuge find:
275 Whose sword, but like the lancet, wounds to heal,
276 Where moral lenitives can nought avail;
277 Whose olive bearing laurel peace restores,
278 And calms the discord of contending powers.