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Unwearied, through the numerous host he past,
Viewing, with careful eye, each several quarter;
Whilst from his looks, as from divinity,
The soldiers took presage, and cried, Lead on,
Great Alla, and our emperor; lead on
To victory, and everlasting fame.'
Mir. Hear you of Bajazet?
Pr. Late in the evening
A slave, of near attendance on his person,
'Scaped to our camp. From him we learned, the
With rage redoubled, for the fight prepares;
Some accidental passion fires his breast,
(Love, as 'tis thought, for a fair Grecian captive)
And adds new horror to his native fury.
For five returning suns, scarce was he seen
By any, the most favoured of his court,
But in lascivious ease, among his women,
Lived, from the war retired; or else alone,
In sullen mood, sat meditating plagues
And ruin to the world; till yester morn,
Like fire, that, labouring upwards, rends the earth,
He burst with fury from his tent, commanding
All should be ready for the fight this day.
Zam. I know his temper well, since in his court,
Companion of the brave Axalla's embassy,
I oft observed him proud, impatient
Of aught superior, e'en of Heaven, that made him;
Fond of false glory, of the savage power
Of ruling without reason, of confounding
Just and unjust, by an unbounded will;
By whom religion, honour, all the bands
That ought to hold the jarring world in peace,
Were held the tricks of state, snares of wise
To draw their easy neighbours to destruction.
Mir. Thrice, by our law and prophet, has he
By the world's lord and maker, lasting peace,
With our great master, and his royal friend,
The Grecian emperor; as oft, regardless
Of plighted faith, with nost unkingly baseness,
Has ta'en the advantage of their absent arms,
Without a war proclaimed, or cause pretended,
To waste, with sword and fire, their fruitful fields;
Like some accursed fiend, who, 'scaped from hell,
Poisons the balmy air through which he flies,
He blasts the bearded corn, and loaded branches,
The labouring hind's best hopes, and marks his
way with ruin.
Pr. But see his fate! The mighty Tamerlane
Comes, like the proxy of inquiring Heaven,
To judge, and to redress. [Flourish of trumpets.
Enter TAMERLANE, Guards, and other
Tam. Yet, yet a little, and destructive slaughter Shall rage around, and mar this beauteous prospect;
Pass but an hour, which stands betwixt the lives
Of thousands and eternity. What change
Shall hasty death make in yon glittering plain!
Oh, thou fell monster, War! that in a moment Layest waste the noblest part of the creation, The boast and masterpiece of the great Maker, That wears, in vain, the impression of his image, Unprivileged from thee.
Health to our friends, and to our arms success,
[To the Prince, Zama, and Mirvan.
Such as the cause for which we fight deserves!
Pr. Nor can we ask beyond what Heaven be-
Preventing still our wishes. See, great sir,
The universal joy your soldiers wear,
Omen of prosperous battle.
Impatient of the tedious night, in arms
Watchful they stood, expecting opening day;
And now are hardly by their leaders held
From darting on the foe. Like a hot courser,
That bounding paws the mouldering soil, dis-
The rein that checks him, eager for the race.
Tam. Yes, prince, I mean to give a loose to
This morn Axalla, with my Parthian horse, Arrives to join me. He, who, like a storm, Swept, with his flying squadrons, all the plain Between Angoria's walls and yon tall mountains, That seem to reach the clouds; and now he comes,
Loaden with spoils and conquest, to my aid. [Flourish of Trumpets. Zam. These trumpets speak his presence—
Enter AXALLA, who kneels to TAMERLANE. Tam. Welcome! thou worthy partner of my laurels,
Thou brother of my choice, a band more sacred
Than nature's brittle tie. By holy friendship,
Glory and fame stood still for thy arrival!
My soul seemed wanting in its better half,
And languished for thy absence; like a prophet,
That waits the inspiration of his god.
Ar. My emperor! My ever royal master !
To whom my secret soul more lowly bends,
Than forms of outward worship can express;
How poorly does your soldier pay this goodness,
Who wears his every hour of life out for you!
Yet 'tis his all, and what he has, he offers;
Nor now disdain to accept the gift he brings,
Enter SELIMA, MONESES, STRATOCLES, Prison-
ers; Guards, Mutes, &c.
This earnest of your fortune. See, my lord,
The noblest prize that ever graced my arms!
Approach, my fair-
Tam. This is indeed to conquer,
And well to be rewarded for thy conquest;
The bloom of opening flowers, unsullied beauty,
Softness, and sweetest innocence she wears,
And looks like nature in the world's first spring.
But say, Axalla-
Sel. Most renowned in war,
Look with compassion on a captive maid,
Though born of hostile blood; nor let my birth,
Derived from Bajazet, prevent that mercy,
Which every subject of your fortune finds.
War is the province of ambitious man,
Who tears the miserable world for empire;
Whilst our weak sex, incapable of wrong,
On either side claims privilege of safety.
Tam. [raising her.] Rise, royal maid! the pride
of haughty power
Pays homage, not receives it, from the fair.
Thy angry father fiercely calls me forth,
And urges me, unwillingly, to arms.
Yet, though our frowning battles menace death,
And mortal conflict, think not that we hold
Thy innocence and virtue as our foe.
Here, till the fate of Asia is decided,
In safety stay. To-morrow is your own.
Nor grieve for who may conquer, or who lose;
Fortune on either side shall wait thy wishes.
Sel. Where shall my wonder and my praise
From the successful labours of thy arms,
Or from a theme more soft, and full of peace,
Thy mercy and thy gentleness? Oh, Tamerlane!
What can I pay thee for this noble usage,
But grateful praise? So Heaven itself is paid.
Give peace, ye powers above, peace to mankind;
Nor let my father wage unequal war,
Against the force of such united virtues!
Dwells with the brave, unknown to fawning syco-
And claims a privilege of being believed.
I take thy praise as earnest of thy friendship.
Mon. Still you prevent the homage I should offer.
O, royal sir! let my misfortunes plead,
And wipe away the hostile mark I wore.
I was, when, not long since, my fortune hailed me,
Blessed to my wish, I was the prince Moneses;
Born, and bred up to greatness: witness the blood,
Which, through successive heroes' veins, allied
Tam. Heaven hear thy pious wish!-But since To our Greek emperors, rolled down to me,
Looks darkly on futurity, till fate
Determine for us, let thy beauty's safety
Be my Axalla's care; in whose glad eyes,
I read what joy the pleasing service gives him.
Is there amongst thy other prisoners aught
Worthy our knowledge?
Ar. This brave man, my lord,
[Pointing to Mon. With long resistance held the combat doubtful. His party, prest with numbers, soon grew faint, And would have left their charge an easy prey; Whilst he alone, undaunted at the odds, Though hopeless to escape, fought well and firmly;
Nor yielded, till, o'ermatched by many hands, He seemed to shame our conquest, whilst he owned it.
Tam. Thou speak'st him as a soldier should a soldier,
Just to the worth he finds. I would not war
[To Mon. With aught that wears thy virtuous stamp of greatness.
Thy habit speaks thee Christian-Nay, yet more, My soul seems pleased to take acquaintance with thee,
As if allied to thine: perhaps 'tis sympathy
Of honest minds; like strings wound up in music,
Where, by one touch, both utter the same harmony.
Feeds the bright flame of glory in my heart.
Tam. Even that, that princely tie should bind
If virtue were not more than all alliance.
Mon. I have a sister,-oh, severe remembrance! Our noble house's, nay, her sex's pride; Nor think my tongue too lavish, if I speak her Fair as the fame of virtue, and yet chaste As its cold precepts; wise beyond her sex And blooming youth; soft as forgiving mercy, Yet greatly brave, and jealous for her honour: Such as she was, to say I barely loved her, Is poor to my soul's meaning. From our infancy, There grew a mutual tenderness between us, Till, not long since, her vows were kindly plighted To a young lord, the equal of her birth. The happy day was fixed, and now approaching, When faithless Bajazet (upon whose honour, In solemn treaty given, the Greeks depended,) With sudden war, broke in upon the country, Secure of peace, and for defence unready.
Tam. Let majesty no more be held divine, Since kings, who are called gods, profane themselves.
Mon. Among the wretches, whom that deluge swept
Away to slavery, myself and sister,
Then passing near the frontiers to the court,
(Which waited for her nuptials) were surprised,
And made the captives of the tyrant's power.
Soon as we reached his court, we found our usage
Beyond what we expected, fair and noble ; 'Twas then the storm of your victorious arms Looked black, and seemed to threaten, when he prest me
(By oft repeating instances) to draw
My sword for him: But when he found my soul
Disdained his purpose, he more fiercely told me,
That my Arpasia, my loved sister's fate,
Depended on my courage shewn for him.
I had long learnt to hold myself at nothing;
But for her sake, to ward the blow from her,
I bound my service to the man I hated.
Six days are past, since, by the sultan's order,
I left the pledge of my return behind,
And went to guard this princess to his camp:
The rest the brave Axalla's fortune tells you.
Tam. Wisely the tyrant strove to prop his
By leaguing with thy virtue; but just Heaven Has torn thee from his side, and left him naked To the avenging bolt, that drives upon him. Forget the name of captive, and I wish
I could as well restore that fair one's freedom, Whose loss hangs heavy on thee: yet ere night, Perhaps, we may deserve thy friendship nobler; The approaching storm may cast the shipwrecked wealth
Back to thy arms; till that he past, since war (Though in the justest cause) is ever doubtful, I will not ask thy sword to aid my victory, Lest it should hurt that hostage of thy valour, Our common foe detains.
Allow me, from the experience of a lover, To say, one person, whom your story mentioned, (If he survive) is far beyond you wretched : You named the bridegroom of your beauteous sister.
Mon. I did. Oh, most accurst!
Ar. Think what he feels,
Dashed in the fierceness of his expectation:
Then, when the approaching minute of possession
Had wound imagination to the height
Think, if he lives!
Mon. He lives! he does: 'tis true
He lives! But how? To be a dog, and dead,
Were Paradise to such a state as his :
He holds down life, as children do a potion,
With strong reluctance and convulsive strug-
Whilst his misfortunes press him to disgorge it. VOL. I.
Tam. Spare the remembrance; 'tis an useless grief,
And adds to the misfortune by repeating.
The revolution of a day may bring
Such turns, as Heaven itself could scarce have promised,
Far, far beyond thy wish: let that hope cheer thee.
Haste, my Axalla, to dispose with safety
Thy beauteous charge, and on the foe revenge
The pain which absence gives; thy other care,
Honour and arms, now summon thy attendance.
Now do thy office well, my soul! Remember
Thy cause, the cause of Heaven and injured
O thou Supreme! if thy great spirit warms
My glowing breast, and fires my soul to arms,
Grant that my sword, assisted by thy power,
This day may peace and happiness restore,
That war and lawless rage may vex the world no
[Exeunt Tamerlane, Moneses, Stratocles,
Prince of Tanais, Zama, Mirvan, and
Ar. The battle calls, and bids me haste to leave
Oh, Selima!--but let destruction wait. Are there not hours enough for blood and slaughter?
This moment shall be love's, and I will waste it
In soft complainings, for thy sighs and coldness,
For thy forgetful coldness; even at Birza,
When in thy father's court my eyes first owned
Fairer than light, the joy of their beholding,
Even then thou wert not thus.
Sel. Art not thou changed,
Christian Axalla? Art thou still the same?
Those were the gentle hours of peace, and thou
The world's good angel, that didst kindly join
Its mighty masters in harmonious friendship :
But since those joys that once were ours are lost,
Forbear to mention them, and talk of war;
Talk of thy conquests and my chains, Axalla.
Ar. Yet I will listen, fair, unkind upbraider! Yet I will listen to thy charming accents, Although they make me curse my fame and for
Thy vows, and thy protesting. Know, my conqueror,
Thy sword has vanquished but the half of Selima; Her soul disdains thy victory.
Ar. Hear, sweet heaven!
Hear the fair tyrant, how she wrests love's laws,
As she had vowed my ruin! What is conquest?
What joy have I from that, but to behold thee,
To kneel before thee, and, with lifted eyes,
To view thee, as devotion does a saint,
With awful, trembling pleasure; then to swear
Thou art the queen and mistress of my soul?
Has not even Tamerlane (whose word, next
Makes fate at second-hand) bid thee disclaim
Thy fears? And dost thou call thyself a slave,
Only to try how far the sad impression
Can sink into Axalla?
Sel. Oh, Axalla!
Ought I to hear you?
Ar. Come back, ye hours,
And tell my Selima what she has done!
Bring back the time, when to her father's court
I came, ambassador of peace from Tamerlane;
When, hid by conscious darkness and disguise,
I past the dangers of the watchful guards,
Bold as the youth who nightly swam the Helles-
Then, then she was not sworn the foe of love;
When, as my soul confest its flame, and sued
In moving sounds for pity, she frowned rarely,
But, blushing, heard me tell the gentle tale;
Nay, even confest, and told me, softly sighing,
She thought there was no guilt in love like mine.
Sel. Young, and unskilful in the world's false
I suffered love to steal upon my softness,
And warm me with a lambent guiltless flame:
Yes, I have heard thee swear a thousand times,
And call the conscious powers of heaven to wit-
Sel. Forego your right of war,
And render me this instant to my father.
Ar. Impossible!--The tumult of the battle,
That hastes to join, cuts off all means of com-
Betwixt the armies.
Sel. Swear then to perform it,
Which way soe'er the chance of war determines, On my first instance.
Ar. By the sacred majesty
Of heaven, to whom we kneel, I will obey thee! Yes, I will give thee this severest proof
Of my soul's vowed devotion; I will part with thee,
(Thou cruel, to command it!) I will part with thee,
As wretches, that are doubtful of hereafter,
Part with their lives, unwilling, loth, and fearful,
And trembling at futurity. But is there nothing,
No small return that honour can afford,
For all this waste of love?
Sel. The gifts of captives
Wear somewhat of constraint; and generous
Disdain to give, where freedom of the choice
Does but seem wanting.
Ar. What! not one kind look?
Then thou art changed indeed. [Trumpets.] Hark,
I am summoned,
And thou wilt send me forth like one unblessed,
Whom fortune has forsaken, and ill fate
Marked for destruction. Thy surprising cold-
Hangs on my soul, and weighs my courage down; And the first feeble blow I meet shall raze me From all remembrance: nor is life or fame Worthy my care, since I am lost to thee. [Going. Sel. Ha! goest thou to the fight?
Ax. I do.-Farewell!
Sel. What! and no more! A sigh heaves in my breast,
And stops the struggling accents on my tongue, Else, sure, I should have added something more, And made our parting softer.
The niggard honour, that affords not love,
Forbids not pity-
Sel. Fate perhaps has set
This day, the period of thy life and conquests;
And I shall see thee, borne at evening back,
A breathless corse.- -Oh! can I think on that,
And hide my sorrows?-No-they will have way,
And all the vital air, that life draws in,
Is rendered back in sighs.
Ax. The murmuring gale revives the drooping flame,
That at thy coldness languished in my breast:
So breathe the gentle zephyrs on the spring,
And waken every plant, and odorous flower,
Which winter frost had blasted, to new life.
Sel. To see thee for this moment, and no
Oh! help me to resolve against this tenderness, That charms my fierce resentments, and presents thee,
Not as thou art, mine and my father's foe,
But as thou wert, when first thy moving accents
Won me to hear; when, as I listened to thee,
The happy hours past by us unperceived,
So was my soul fixed to the soft enchantment.
Ar. Let me be still the same! I am, I must be.
If it were possible my heart could stray,
One look from thee would call it back again,
And fix the wanderer for ever thine.
Sel. Where is my boasted resolution now? [Sinking into his arms. Oh, yes! thou art the same; my heart joins with thee,
And, to betray me, will believe thee still:
It dances to the sounds that moved it first,
And owns at once the weakness of my soul.
So, when some skilful artist strikes the strings,
The magic numbers rouse our sleeping passions,
And force us to confess our grief and pleasure.
Alas! Axalla, say-dost thou not pity
My artless innocence, and easy fondness?
Oh! turn thee from me, or I die with blushing.
Ar. No, let me rather gaze, for ever gaze,
And bless the new-born glories that adorn thee!
From every blush, that kindles in thy cheeks,
Ten thousand little loves and graces spring,
To revel in the roses-it will not be,
[Trumpets. This envious trumpet calls, and tears me from thee
Sel. My fears incrcase, and doubly press me
I charge thee, if thy sword comes cross my ther,
Stop for a moment, and remember me.
Ar. Oh, doubt not but his life shall be my care; Even dearer than my own
Sel. Guard that for me too.
Ar. O, Selima! thou hast restored my quiet.
The noble ardour of the war, with love
Returning, brightly burns within my breast,
And bids me be secure of all hereafter.
So cheers some pious saint a dying sinner
(Who trembled at the thought of pains to come)
With Heaven's forgiveness, and the hopes of
At length, the tunult of his soul appeased,
And every doubt and anxious scruple eased,
Boldly he proves the dark, uncertain road;
The peace, his holy comforter bestowed,
Guides, and protects him like a guardian god.
Sel. In vain all arts a love-sick virgin tries,
Affects to frown, and seem severely wise,
In hopes to cheat the wary lover's eyes.
If the dear youth her pity strives to move,
And pleads with tenderness, the cause of love,
Nature asserts her empire in her heart,
And kindly takes the faithful lover's part.
By love herself, and nature, thus betrayed,
No more she trusts in pride's fantastic aid,
But bids her eyes confess the yielding maid.
[Exit Selima, Guards following.
SCENE I-Tamerlane's Camp.
Mon. THE dreadful business of the war is
Most happily returned, might I believe
Thou bring'st me any joy?
Stra. With my best diligence,
This night I have enquired of what concerns you.
Scarce was the sun, who shone upon the horror
Of the past day, sunk to the western occan,
When, by permission from the prince Axalla,
I mixt among the tumult of the warriors
Returning from the battle: here, a troop
Of hardy Parthians, red with honest wounds,
Confest the conquest they had well deserved:
There, a dejected crew of wretched captives,
Sore with unprofitable hurts, and groaning
Under new bondage, followed sadly after
The haughty victor's heels. But that, which fully
Crowned the success of Tamerlane, was Bajazet,
Fallen, like the proud archangel, from the
Where once (even next to majesty divine)
Enthroned he sat, down to the vile descent
And lowness of a slave: but, oh! to speak
The rage, the fierceness, and the indignation!-
It bars all words, and cuts description short.
Mon. Then he is fallen! that comet which on
Portended ruin; he has spent his blaze,
And shall distract the world with fears no more.
Sure it must bode me well; for oft my soul
Has started into tumult at his name,
As if my guardian angel took the alarm,
At the approach of somewhat mortal to me.