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Lycos. Did my return bring comfort to her sorrow?
Oh! I beg you stay. Then haste, conduct me to the lovely mourner : 0 I will kiss the pearly drops away;
What? stay when Phædra calls ?
Oh! on my knees And all her sorrows shall be lost in love.
By all the gods, my lord, I beg you stay;
As you respect your peace, your life, your glory: YCON.
As Phædra's days are precious to your soul; Does Theseuş burn with such unheard-of pas- By all your love, by all her sorrows, stay.
sion? And must not she with out-stretch'd arms receive
Where lies the danger ? wherefore should I stay! And with an equal ardour meet bis vows, The vows of one so dear! O righteous gods !
LYCON. Why must the bleeding heart of Theseus bear Your sudden presence would surprise her soul, Such torturing pangs? while Phadra, dead to love, Renew the galling image of her wrongs, Now with accusing eyes on angry Heaven
Revive her sorrow, indignation, shame; Stedfastly gazes, and upbraids the gods;
And all your son would strike her from your eyes. Now with dumb piercing grief, and humble shame, Fixes her gloomy watry orbs to earth;
THESEUS. Now, burst with swelling anguish, rends the skies My son ! But he's too good, too brave to Hith loud complaints of her outrageous wrongs !
-Whence then that shocking change, that THESEUS.
strong surprise ; Wrong'd! Is she wrong’d? and lives he yet who That fright that seiz'd him at the name of Phædra! wrong'd her?
Was lie surpris'd ? that show'd at least remorsea
Presage some dire attempt. -Say, what remorse! geance,
I would not
This you com-
This Phædra orders; thrice her faultering tongue The wretch so meanly base to injure Phædra,
Bad me unfold the guilty scene to Theseus: So rashly brave to dare the sword of Theseus.
Thrice with loud cries recall’d me on my way, Lycos.
And blam'd my speed, and chid my rash obedience, I dare not speak; but sure her wrongs are
Lest the unwelcome tale should wound your peace.
At last, with looks serenely sad, she cry'd, mighty : The pale cold hue that deadens all her charms,
“Go, tell it all;" but in such artful words, Her sighs, her hollow groans, her flowing tears,
Such tender accents, and such melting sounds, Make me suspect her monstrous grief will end her.
As may appease his rage, and move his pity;
A grievous fault, but still a fauk of love,
Of love! what strange suspicions rack my soult
As you regard my peace, declare, what love! LYCON.
LYCON. O noble heat of unexampled love! This Phædra hop'd, when in the midst of grief, So urg'd, I must declare; yet, pitying Heaven, In the wild torrent of o'erwhelming sorrows, Why must I speak? Why must unwilling Lycon She,groaning, still invok’d, still call'd on Theseus. Accuse the prince of impious love to Phædra ?
THESEUS. Did she then name me! Did the weeping charmer Love to his mother! to the wife of Theseus ! Invoke my name, and call for aid on Theseus ?
LYCON. Oh, that lov'd voice upbraided my delay. Why then this stay? I come, I fly, oh Phædra! Yes, at the first moment he viewid her eyes, Lead on-Now, dark disturber of my peace, Evin at the altar, when you join'd your hands, If now thou 'rt known, what luxury of vengeance His easy heart receiv'd the guilty flame, Maste, lead, conduct me.
And from that time he prest her with his passion:
Then 'twas for this she banish'd him from Crete; Oh impious monster! Oh forgive me, Phædra! I thought it hatred ail: O righteous hatred! And may the gods inspire my injur'd soul Forgive me, Heaven; forgive me, injur'd Phædra, With equal vengeance that inay suit his crimes. That I in secret have condemn'd thy justice. Ob! 'twas all just, and Theseus shall revenge,
LTc0N. Ev'n on his son, revenge his Phædra's wrongs.
Por Phädra's sake, forbear to talk of vengeance;
That with new pains would wound her tender LYCON.
breast: What easy tools are these blunt honest heroes, Send him away from Crete, and by his absence Who with keen hunger gorge the naked hook, Give Phædra quiet; and afford him mercy. Prevent the bait the statesman's art prepares, And post to ruin !-Go, believing fool,
THESEUS. Go act thy far-fam'd justice on thy son,
Mercy! for what! Oh! well has he rewarded Next on thyself, and both make way for Lycon. Poor Phadra's mercy.Oh most barbarous
To wrong such beauty, and insult such goodness. THESEUS.
Mercy! what's that? a virtue coin'd by villains ; Ha! am I sure she's wrong'd? perhaps 'tis Who praise the weakness which supports their malice.
crimes. Slave, make it clear, make good your accusation, Be mute, and Ay, lest when my rage is rous'd, Or treble fury shall revenge my son.
Thou for thyself in vain implore my mercy.
Lycos. Am I then doubted! and can faithful Lycon
Dull fool, I laugh at mercy more than thou dost, Be thought to forge such execrable falsehoods?
More than I do the justice thou 'art so fond of. Gods! when the queen unwillingly complains,
Now come, young hero, to thy father's arms, Can you suspect her truth? () godlike Theseus !
Receive the due reward of haughty virtue; Is this the love you bear unhappy Phædra!
Now boast thy race,and laugh at earth-born Lycon. Is this her bop'd-for aid! Go, wretched matron,
(Erit. Sigh to the winds, and rend th' unpitying heavens
Enter Hippolitus. With thy vain sorrows, since relentless Theseus,
THESEUS. Thy hope, thy refuge, Theseus, will not hear thee!
Yet can it be? Is this th’incestuous villain How great his presence, how erect his look,
How every grace, how all his virtuous mother Not hear my Phædra! Not revenge her wrongs! Shines in his face, and charms me from his eyes! Speak, make thy proofs, and then his doom 's as Oh Neptune! Oh, great founder of our race! fix'd
Why was he fram'd with such a godlike look ? As when Jove speaks, and high Olympus shakes, Why wears he not some most detested form, And Pate his voice obeys.
Baleful to sight, as horrible to thought;
That I might act my justice without grief,
Punish the villain, nor regret the son?
May I presume to ask, what secret care
And fright Hippolitus, they us'd to cheer?
Answer me first: wben call'd to waiton Phædra,
Why did your ebbing blood forsake yoar cheeks Svore to employ in nought but acts of honour?
Why did you hasten from your father's arms, Now, faithful youth, thou nobly hast fulfilld To shun the queen your duty bids you please? Thy generous promise. O most injurd Phædra! Why did I trust to his deceitful form?
HIPPOLITUS. Why blame thy justice, or suspect thy truth? My lord, to please the queen, Im forc'd to
And keep this hated object from her sight.
And bless your age with trophies like your op. When last attend her? Oh unhappy qucen!
Gods! How that warm'd me! How my throbbing
heart Your errour's known, yet I disdain to wrong you, Or to betray a fault myself have caus'd. [Aside.
Leapt to the image of my father's joy,
When you should strain me in your folding arms,
Commend my valour, and confess your son!
How did I think my glorious toil o'er-paid ? Nor dare to trifle with your father's rage.
Then great indeed, and in my father's love,
With more than conquest crown'd? “ Go on, HipHIPPOLITUS.
politus, My lord, this very morn I saw the queen.
Go tread the rugged paths of daring honour;
Practise the strictest and austerest virtue,
And all the rigid laws of righteous Minos;
Theseus, thy father Theseus, will reward thee."
Reward thee! Yes, as Minos would rerfard I ask'd permission to retire.
Was Minos then thy pattern ? And did Minos, And was that all ?
The great, the good, the just, the righteous Minos,
The judge of Hell, and oracle of Earth,
Did he inspire adultery, force, and incest ?
[Asick. Yet you don't answer with your low submissions. Answer, or never hope to see me more.
Amazement! Incest: — HIPPOLITUS. Too much he knows, I fear, without my telling; And the poor queen's betray'd and lost for ever.
Incest with Phædra, with thy mother Phædra! (Aside.
This charge so unexpected, so amazing,
Stuns my astonish'd soul, and ties my voice. [Aside.
Then let this wake thee, this once glorious sword, As from some loathsome monster, not your son ?
With which thy father arm'd thy infant hand,
Not for this purpose. Oh abandon'd slave! THESEUS.
Oh early villain! Most detested coward! Thou art that monster, and no more my son.
With this my instrument of youthful glory! Not one of those of the most horrid form,
With this! -Oh noble entrance into arms! Of which my hand has eas'd the burthen'd Earth,
With this t'invade the spotless Phædra's honour! Was half so shocking to my sight as thou.
Phædra! My life! My better half, my queen!
That very Phædra, for whose just defence
The gods would claim thy sword.
HIPPOLITUS. Am I awake? Am I Hippolitus?
Amazement! Death! THESEUS.
Heavens! Durst I raise the far-fam'd sword of Thou art that fiend--Thou art Hippolitus.
Theseus Thou art!-Oh fall! Ob fatal stain to honour! | Against his queen, against my mother's bosom. How had my vain imagination form’d thee ! Brave as Alcides, and as Minos just! Sometimes it led me through the maze of war;
If not, declare when, where, and how you lost it! There it survey'd thee ranging through the field, How Phædra gain'd it? Oh all the gods! He's Mowing down troops, and dealing out destruction: silent. Sometimes with wholesome laws reforming states, Why was it bard? Whose bosom was it aim'd at ! Crowning their happy joys with peace and plenty; What meant thy arm advanc'd, thv glowing cheeks, While you
Thy hand, heart, eyes? On villain! monstrous
Is there no way, no thought, no beam of light! To bunt through bloody fields the chase of glory, No clue to guide ine through this gloomy maze,
To clear my honour, yet preserve my faith ?
Then to my bed to force your impious way; None! None, ye powers ! And must I groan be. With horrid lust t’insuit my yet warm urn; neath
Make me the scorn of Hell, and sport for fiends! This execrable load of foul dishonour ?
Th se are the funeral honours paid to Theseus, Must Theseus suffer such unheard-of torture ! These are the sorrows, these the hallow'd rites, Theseus, my father! No, I'll break through all; To which you'd call your father's hovering spirit. A'l oaths, all vows, all idle imprecations,
Hear me, my lord, ere yet you fix his doom. To bind thyself in voluntary chains;
[Turning to Theseus. Yet to thy fatal trust continue firm!
Hear one that comes to shield his injur'd honour, Beneath disgrace, though infamous yet honest,
And guard his life with hazard of her own.
Though thou 'rt the daughter of my hated foe,
Though ev'n tby beauty's loathsome to my eyes,
Yet justice bids me hear thee.
Thus I thank you. [Kneels. witness Heaven, Hell, and Earth. I mark it not from one, Could ne'er be sway'd by impious love to Phædra,
Then know, mistaken prince, his honest soul That breathes beneath such complicated guilt.
Since I before engay'd his early vows;
With all my wiles subdued his struggling heart; Was that like guilt, when with expanded arms
For long bis duty struggled with his love.
Speak, is this true? On thy obedience, speak. Fixt on that awful face, I stand the charge;
So charg'd, I own the dangerous truth; I own,
THESEUS. A fearful view, then sunk again with horrour?
Canst thou be only cleard by disobedience,
And justify'd by crimes? ---What! love my foe! This is for raw, untaught, unfinish'd villains. Love one descended from a race of tyrants, Thou in thy bloom hast reach'd th' abhorr'd per- Whose blood yet reeks on my avenging sword! fection :
I'm curst each moment I delay thy fate : 'Thy even looks could wear a peaceful calm, Haste to the shades, and tell the happy Pallas The beauteous stamp (oh Heavens !) of faultless Ismena's flames, and let bim taste such joys virtue,
As thou giv'st me; go tell applauding Minos While thy foul heart contriv'd this horrid deed. The pious love you bore his dauzhter Phædra ; Oh harden'd fiend, can't such transcending crimes Tell it the chattering ghosts, and hissing furies, Disturb thy soul, or rume thy smooth brow? Tell it the grinning fiends, till Hell sound nothing What, no remorse! No qualms! No pricking To thy pleas'd ears but Phædra and Ismena.
pangs! No feeble struggle of rebelling honour!
Enter Cratander. O'twas thy joy! thy secret hoard of bliss,
Seize him, Cratander ; take this guilty sword, To dream, to ponder, act it o'er in thought;
Let his own hand avenge the crimes it acted, To doat, to dwell on; as rejoicing misers
And bid him die, at least, like Theseus' son.
Take him away, and execute my orders.
Heavens! How that strikes me! How it wounds
When you shall fiud Hippolitus was guiltless!
When you shall mourn your son's unhappy fate,
Oh, I beseech you by the love you bore me,
Oh, for my sake, forbear to touch your life,
Fresh in your breast, but be my woes forgot;
Oh ! let me dwell for ever in your thoughts,
PHÆDRA. Let me be honour'd still, but not deplor'd.
By thee I'm branded, and by thee destroy'd; Thou bosom serpent, thoa alluring fiend!
Yet shan't you boast the miseries you cause, Then thy chief care is for thy father's life.
Nor’scape the ruin you have brought on all.
Was it not your command ? Has faithful Lycon Oh all ye gods! how this inflames my fury!
F'er spoke, e'er thought, design'd, contrivd, or I scarce can hold my rage; my eager hands
acted ? Tremble to reach thee. No, dishonour'd Theseus !
Has he done aught without the queen's consent? Blot not thy fame with such a monster's blood. Snatch him away.
Plead'st thou consent to what thou first inspir'dst?
Was that consent? O senseless politician!
When adverse passions struggled in any breast,
When anger, fear, love, sorrow, guilt, despair, ISMENA.
Drove out my reason, and usurp'd my soul, Oh! take me with him, let me share his fate,
Yet this consent you plead, O faithful Lycon! Oh awful Theseus! Yet revoke his doom :
Oh! only zealous for the fame of Phædra! See, see the very ministers of Death,
With this you blot my name, and clear your own; Though bred to blood, yet shrink, and wish to save
And what's my frenzy, will be call'd my crime: him.
What then is thine ? Thou cool, deliberate villain,
Thou wise, fore-thinking, weighing politician! THESEUS. Slaves, villains, tear her from him, cut her arms
Oh! 'twas so black, my frighten'd tongue recoil'd
At its own sound, and horrour shook my soul. Oh! tear me, cut me, till my sever'd limbs
Yet still, though pierc'd with such amazinganguish,
Such was my zeal, so much I lov'd my queen, Grow to my lord, and share the pains he suffers.
I broke through all, to save the life of Phædra. THESEUS.
PHEDRA. Villains, away.
What's life? Oh all ye gods! Can life atone ISMENA.
For all the monstrous crimes by which 'tis bought? O Theseus ! Hear me, hear me.
Or can I live! When tbou, oh soul of honour!
Oh early hero! by my crimes art ruin'd.
Perhaps ev'n now the great unhappy youth Away, nor taint me with thy loathsome touch. Falls by the sordid hands of butchering villains; Off, woman,
Now, now he bleeds, he dies-Oh perjur'd traitor!
See, his rich blood in purple torrt nts flows,
And Nature sallies in unbidden groans;
His rosy beauties fade, his starry eyes Bear it, ye winds, upon your pitying wings; Now darkling swim, and fix their closing beams; Resound it, Pame, with all your hundred tongues. Now in short gasps his labouring spirit heaves, Oh hapless youth! All Heaven conspires against And weakly flutters on his faultering tongue, you.
And struggles into sound. Hear, monster, hear, The conscious walls conceal the fatal secret :
With his last breath he curses perjur'd Phædra: Th’untainted winds refuse th' infecting load :
He summons Phædra to the bar of Minos; And Fame itself is mut: -Nay, ev'n Ismena,
Thou too shalt there appear; to torture thee, Thy own Ismena's sworn to thy destruction, Whole Hellshall beemploy'd, and suffering Phædra But still, whate'er the cruel gods design,
Shall find some ease to see thee still more wretched. In the same fate our equal stars combine,
LYCON. And he who dooms thy death pronounces mine.
Oh all ye powers! Oh Phadra! Hear me, hear
By all my zeal, by all my anxious cares,
By those unhappy crimes I wrought to serve you,
By these old wither'd limbs and hoary hairs, Enter Phædra and Lycon,
By ali my tears ! -Oh heavens! She minds me not,
She hears not my complaints. Oh wretched Lycon!
To what art thou reserv'd ?
Reserv'd to all
The sharpest, slowest pains that Earth can furnish. And brand your fame, and work your own de- | To all I wish on Phadra-Guards, si care struction ?
[Lycon carried of.