The Works of John Dryden, Vol. II
Edited by Walter Scott
Part 7 out of 10
[_The Taxallans retire_.
_Mont_. The fierce Taxatlans lay their weapons down,
Some miracle in our relief is shewn.
_Guy_. These bearded men in shape and colour be
Like those I saw come floating on the sea.
[MONT. _kneels to_ CORT.
_Mont_. Patron of Mexico, and God of wars,
Son of the sun, and brother of the stars--
_Cort_. Great monarch, your devotion you misplace.
_Mont_. Thy actions shew thee born of heavenly race.
If then thou art that cruel God, whose eyes
Delight in blood, and human sacrifice,
Thy dreadful altars I with slaves will store,
And feed thy nostrils with hot reeking gore;
Or if that mild and gentle God thou be,
Who dost mankind below with pity see,
With breath of incense I will glad thy heart;
But if, like us, of mortal seed thou art,
Presents of choicest fowls, and fruits I'll bring,
And in my realms thou shalt be more than king.
_Cort_. Monarch of empires, and deserving more
Than the sun sees upon your western shore;
Like you a man, and hither led by fame,
Not by constraint, but by my choice, I came;
Ambassador of peace, if peace you chuse,
Or herald of a war, if you refuse.
_Mont_. Whence, or from whom, dost thou these offers bring?
_Cort_. From Charles the Fifth, the world's most potent king.
_Mont_. Some petty prince, and one of little fame,
For to this hour I never heard his name:
The two great empires of the world I know,
That of Peru, and this of Mexico;
And since the earth none larger does afford,
This Charles is some poor tributary lord.
_Cort_. You speak of that small part of earth you know;
But betwixt us and you wide oceans flow,
And watry desarts of so vast extent,
That passing hither four full moons we spent.
_Mont_. But say, what news, what offers dost thou bring
From so remote, and so unknown a king?
[_While_ VASQUEZ _speaks_, CORTEZ _spies the ladies
and goes to them, entertaining_ CYDARIA _with
courtship in dumb shew_.
_Vasq_. Spain's mighty monarch, to whom heaven thinks fit,
That all the nations of the earth submit,
In gracious clemency, does condescend
On these conditions to become your friend.
First, that of him you shall your sceptre hold;
Next, you present him with your useless gold:
Last, that you leave those idols you implore,
And one true deity with him adore.
_Mont_. You speak your prince a mighty emperor,
But his demands have spoke him proud and poor;
He proudly at my free-born sceptre flies,
Yet poorly begs a metal I despise.
Gold thou mayest take, whatever thou canst find,
Save what for sacred uses is designed:
But, by what right pretends your king to be
The sovereign lord of all the world and me?
_Piz_. The sovereign priest--
Who represents on earth the power of heaven,
Has this your empire to our monarch given.
_Mont_. Ill does he represent the powers above,
Who nourishes debate, not preaches love;
Besides, what greater folly can be shewn?
He gives another what is not his own.
_Vasq_. His power must needs unquestioned be below,
For he in heaven an empire can bestow.
_Mont_. Empires in heaven he with more ease may give,
And you, perhaps, would with less thanks receive;
But heaven has need of no such viceroy here,
Itself bestows the crowns that monarchs wear.
_Piz_. You wrong his power, as you mistake our end,
Who came thus far religion to extend.
_Mont_. He, who religion truly understands,
Knows its extent must be in men, not lands.
_Odm_. But who are those that truth must propagate
Within the confines of my father's state?
_Vasq_. Religious men, who hither must be sent
As awful guides of heavenly government;
To teach you penance, fasts, and abstinence,
To punish bodies for the soul's offence.
_Mont_. Cheaply you sin, and punish crimes with ease,
Not as the offended, but the offenders please;
First injure heaven, and, when its wrath is due,
Yourselves prescribe it how to punish you.
_Odm_. What numbers of these holy men must come?
_Piz_. You shall not want, each village shall have some;
Who, though the royal dignity they own,
Are equal to it, and depend on none.
_Guy_. Depend on none! you treat them sure in state,
For 'tis their plenty does their pride create.
_Mont_. Those ghostly kings would parcel out my power,
And all the fatness of my land devour.
That monarch sits not safely on his throne
Who bears, within, a power that shocks his own.
They teach obedience to imperial sway,
But think it sin if they themselves obey.
_Vasq_. It seems, then, our religion you accuse,
And peaceful homage to our king refuse.
_Mont_. Your Gods I slight not, but will keep my own;
My crown is absolute, and holds of none.
I cannot in a base subjection live,
Nor suffer you to take, though I would give.
_Cort_. Is this your answer, sir?
_Mont_.--This, as a prince,
Bound to my people's and my crown's defence,
I must return; but, as a man, by you
Redeemed from death, all gratitude is due.
_Cort_. It was an act my honour bound me to:
But what I did, were I again to do,
I could not do it on my honour's score,
For love would now oblige me to do more.
Is no way left that we may yet agree?
Must I have war, yet have no enemy?
_Vasq_. He has refused all terms of peace to take.
_Mont_. Since we must fight, hear, heavens, what prayers I make!
First, to preserve this ancient state and me,
But if your doom the fall of both decree,
Grant only he, who has such honour shewn,
When I am dust, may fill my empty throne!
_Cort_. To make me happier than that wish can do,
Lies not in all your Gods to grant, but you;
Let this fair princess but one minute stay,
A look from her will your obligements pay.
[_Exeunt_ MONTEZUMA, ODMAR, GUYOMAR, ORBELLAN, ALMERIA, and
_Mont_. to _Cyd_. Your duty in your quick return be shewn.--
Stay you, and wait my daughter to the town.
[_To his guards_.
[CYDARIA _is going, but turns and looks back upon_ CORTEZ, _who
is looking on her all this while_.
_Cyd_. My father's gone, and yet I cannot go;
Sure I have something lost or left behind!
_Cort_. Like travellers who wander in the snow,
I on her beauty gaze 'till I am blind.
_Cyd_. Thick breath, quick pulse, and heaving of my heart,
All signs of some unwonted change appear:
I find myself unwilling to depart,
And yet I know not why I would be here.
Stranger, you raise such torments in my breast,
That when I go, (if I must go again)
I'll tell my father you have robbed my rest,
And to him of your injuries complain.
_Cort_. Unknown, I swear, those wrongs were which I wrought,
But my complaints will much more just appear,
Who from another world my freedom brought,
And to your conquering eyes have lost it here.
_Cyd_. Where is that other world, from whence you came?
_Cort_. Beyond the ocean, far from hence it lies.
_Cyd_. Your other world, I fear, is then the same,
That souls must go to when the body dies.
But what's the cause that keeps you here with me,
That I may know what keeps me here with you?
_Cort_. Mine is a love which must perpetual be,
If you can be so just as I am true.
_Orb_. Your father wonders much at your delay.
_Cyd_. So great a wonder for so small a stay!
_Orb_. He has commanded you with me to go.
_Cyd_. Has he not sent to bring the stranger too?
_Orb_. If he to-morrow dares in fight appear,
His high-placed love perhaps may cost him dear.
_Cort_. Dares!--that word was never spoke to Spaniard yet,
But forfeited his life, who gave him it;
Haste quickly with thy pledge of safety hence,
Thy guilt's protected by her innocence.
_Cyd_. Sure in some fatal hour my love was born,
So soon o'ercast with absence in the morn!
_Cort_. Turn hence those pointed glories of your eyes;
For if more charms beneath those circles rise,
So weak my virtue, they so strong appear,
I shall turn ravisher to keep you here.
SCENE I.--_The Magician's Cave_.
_Enter_ MONTEZUMA, _and High-Priest_.
_Mont_. Not that I fear the utmost fate can do,
Come I the event of doubtful war to know;
For life and death are things indifferent;
Each to be chose as either brings content:
My motive from a nobler cause does spring,
Love rules my heart, and is your monarch's king;
I more desire to know Almeria's mind,
Than all that heaven has for my state designed.
_High Pr_. By powerful charms, which nothing can withstand,
I'll force the Gods to tell what you demand.
Thou moon, that aidest us with thy magic might,
And ye small stars, the scattered seeds of light,
Dart your pale beams into this gloomy place,
That the sad powers of the infernal race
May read above what's hid from human eyes,
And in your walks see empires fall and rise.
And ye, immortal souls, who once were men,
And now, resolved to elements again,
Who wait for mortal frames in depths below,
And did before what we are doomed to do;
Once, twice, and thrice, I wave my sacred wand,
Ascend, ascend, ascend at my command.
[_An earthy spirit rises_.
_Spir_. In vain, O mortal men, your prayers implore
The aid of powers below, which want it more:
A God more strong, who all the Gods commands,
Drives us to exile from our native lands;
The air swarms thick with wandering deities,
Which drowsily, like humming beetles, rise
From our loved earth, where peacefully we slept,
And, far from heaven, a long possession kept.
The frighted satyrs, that in woods delight,
Now into plains with pricked-up ears take flight;
And scudding thence, while they their horn-feet ply,
About their sires the little silvans cry.
A nation loving gold must rule this place,
Our temples ruin, and our rites deface:
To them, O king, is thy lost sceptre given.
Now mourn thy fatal search, for since wise heaven
More ill than good to mortals does dispense,
It is not safe to have too quick a sense.
_Mont_. Mourn they, who think repining can remove
The firm decrees of those, who rule above;
The brave are safe within, who still dare die:
Whene'er I fall, I'll scorn my destiny.
Doom as they please my empire not to stand,
I'll grasp my sceptre with my dying hand.
_High Pr_. Those earthy spirits black and envious are;
I'll call up other Gods, of form more fair:
Who visions dress in pleasing colour still,
Set all the good to shew, and hide the ill.
Kalib, ascend, my fair-spoke servant rise,
And sooth my heart with pleasing prophesies.
KALIB ascends all in white, in shape of a woman,
_Kal_. _I looked and saw within the book of fate,
Where, many days did lowr,
When lo one happy hour
Leapt up, and smiled to save thy sinking state;
A day shall come when in thy power
Thy cruel foes shall be;
Then shall thy land be free,
And thou in peace shalt reign.
But take, O take that opportunity,
Which, once refused, will never come again._
_Mont_. I shall deserve my fate, if I refuse
That happy hour which heaven allots to use:
But of my crown thou too much care dost take;
That which I value more, my love's at stake.
_High Pr_. Arise, ye subtle spirits, that can spy,
When love is entered in a female's eye;
You, that can read it in the midst of doubt,
And in the midst of frowns can find it out;
You, that can search those many cornered minds,
Where women's crooked fancy turns and winds;
You, that can love explore, and truth impart,
Where both lie deepest hid in woman's heart,
[_The ghosts of_ TRAXALLA _and_ ACACIS _arise; they stand
still, and point at_ MONTEZUMA.
_High Pr_. I did not for these ghastly visions send;
Their sudden coming does some ill portend.
Begone,--begone,--they will not disappear!
My soul is seized with an unusual fear.
_Mont_. Point on, point on, and see whom you can fright.
Shame and confusion seize these shades of night!
Ye thin and empty forms, am I your sport?
If you were flesh--
You know you durst not use me in this sort.
[_The ghost of the Indian Queen rises betwixt the
ghosts, with a dagger in her breast_.
I feel my hair grow stiff, my eye-balls roll!
This is the only form could shake my soul.
_Ghost_. The hopes of thy successful love resign;
Know, Montezuma, thou art only mine;
For those, who here on earth their passion shew
By death for love, receive their right below.
Why dost thou then delay my longing arms?
Have cares, and age, and mortal life such charms?
The moon grows sickly at the sight of day,
And early cocks have summoned me away:
Yet I'll appoint a meeting place below,
For there fierce winds o'er dusky vallies blow,
Whose every puff bears empty shades away,
Which guidless in those dark dominions stray.
Just at the entrance of the fields below,
Thou shalt behold a tall black poplar grow;
Safe in its hollow trunk I will attend,
And seize thy spirit when thou dost descend.
_Mont_. I'll seize thee there, thou messenger of fate.--
Would my short life had yet a shorter date!
I'm weary of this flesh which holds us here,
And dastards manly souls with hope and fear;
These heats and colds still in our breast make war,
Agues and fevers all our passions are. [_Exeunt_.
CYDARIA _and_ ALIBECH, _betwixt the two armies_.
_Alib_. Blessings will crown your name, if you prevent
That blood, which in this battle will be spent;
Nor need you fear so just a suit to move,
Which both becomes your duty and your love.
_Cyd_. But think you he will come? their camp is near,
And he already knows I wait him here.
_Alib_. You are too young your power to understand,
Lovers take wing upon the least command;
Already he is here.
_Enter_ CORTEZ _and_ VASQUEZ _to them_.
_Cort_. Methinks, like two black storms on either hand,
Our Spanish army and your Indians stand;
This only space betwixt the clouds is clear,
Where you, like day, broke loose from both appear.
_Cyd_. Those closing skies might still continue bright,
But who can help it, if you'll make it night?
The Gods have given you power of life and death,
Like them to save, or ruin, with a breath.
_Cort_. That power they to your father did dispose,
'Twas in his choice to make us friends or foes.
_Alib_. Injurious strength would rapine still excuse,
By offering terms the weaker must refuse;
And such as these your hard conditions are,
You threaten peace, and you invite a war.
_Cort_. If for myself to conquer here I came,
You might perhaps my actions justly blame:
Now I am sent, and am not to dispute
My prince's orders, but to execute.
_Alib_. He, who his prince so blindly does obey,
To keep his faith his virtue throws away.
_Cort_. Monarchs may err; but should each private
Judge their ill acts, they would dispute their best.
_Cyd_. Then all your care is for your prince, I see;
Your truth to him out-weighs your love to me:
You may so cruel to deny me prove,
But never after that pretend to love.
_Cort_. Command my life, and I will soon obey;
To save my honour I my blood will pay.
_Cyd_. What is this honour which does love controul?
_Cort_. A raging fit of virtue in the soul;
A painful burden which great minds must bear,
Obtained with danger, and possest with fear.
_Cyd_. Lay down that burden if it painful grow;
You'll find, without it, love will lighter go.
_Cort_. Honour, once lost, is never to be found.
_Alib_. Perhaps he looks to have both passions crowned;
First dye his honour in a purple flood,
Then court the daughter in the father's blood.
_Cort_. The edge of war I'll from the battle take,
And spare her father's subjects for her sake.
_Cyd_. I cannot love you less when I'm refused.
But I can die to be unkindly used;
Where shall a maid's distracted heart find rest.
If she can miss it in her lover's breast?
_Cort_. I till to-morrow will the fight delay;
Remember you have conquered me to-day.
_Alib_. This grant destroys all you have urged before;
Honour could not give this, or can give more.
Our women in the foremost ranks appear;
March to the fight, and meet your mistress there:
Into the thickest squadrons she must run,
Kill her, and see what honour will be won.
_Cyd_. I must he in the battle, but I'll go
With empty quiver, and unbended bow;
Not draw an arrow in this fatal strife,
For fear its point should reach your noble life.
_Cort_. No more: your kindness wounds me to the death:
Honour, be gone! what art thou but a breath?
I'll live, proud of my infamy and shame,
Graced with no triumph but a lover's name;
Men can but say, love did his reason blind,
And love's the noblest frailty of the mind.--
Draw off my men; the war's already done.
_Piz_. Your orders come too late, the fight's begun;
The enemy gives on, with fury led,
And fierce Orbellan combats at their head.
_Cort_. He justly fears, a peace with me would
Of ill concernment to his haughty love;
Retire, fair excellence! I go to meet
New honour, but to lay it at your feet.
[_Exeunt_ CORTEZ, VASQUEZ, _and_ PIZARRO.]
_Enter_ ODMAR _and_ GUTOMAR, _to_ ALIBECH _and_
_Odm_. Now, madam, since a danger does appear
Worthy my courage, though below my fear;
Give leave to him, who may in battle die,
Before his death, to ask his destiny.
_Guy_. He cannot die, whom you command to live;
Before the fight, you can the conquest give;
Speak, where you'll place it?
_Alib_. Briefly, then, to both,
One I in secret love, the other loathe;
But where I hate, my hate I will not show,
And he, I love, my love shall never know;
True worth shall gain me, that it may be said,
Desert, not fancy, once a woman led.
He who, in fight, his courage shall oppose,
With most success, against his country's foes,
From me shall all that recompence receive,
That valour merits, or that love can give.
'Tis true, my hopes and fears are all for one,
But hopes and fears are to myself alone.
Let him not shun the danger of the strife;
I but his love, his country claims his life.
_Odm_. All obstacles my courage shall remove.
_Guy_. Fall on, fall on.
_Odm_. For liberty!
_Guy_. For love!
[_Exeunt, the women following_.
SCENE III.--_Changes to the Indian country_.
_Enter_ Montezuma, _attended by the Indians_.
_Mont_. Charge, charge! their ground the faint Taxallans yield!
Bold in close ambush, base in open field.
The envious devil did my fortune wrong:--
Thus fought, thus conquered I, when I was young.
_Alarm. Enter CORTEZ bloody_.
_Cort_. Furies pursue these false Taxallans' flight;
Dare they be friends to us, and dare not fight?
What friends can cowards be, what hopes appear
Of help from such, who, where they hate, show fear!
_Enter_ PIZARRO _and_ VASQUEZ.
_Piz_. The field grows thin; and those, that now remain,
Appear but like the shadows of the slain.
_Vasq_. The fierce old king is vanished from the place,
And, in a cloud of dust, pursues the chase.
_Cort_. Their eager chase disordered does appear,
Command our horse to charge them in the rear:
You to our old Castilian foot retire, [_To_ VASQ.
Who yet stand firm, and at their backs give fire.
_Enter_ ODMAR _and_ GUTOMAR, _meeting each other in the
_Odm_. Where hast thou been, since first the fight began,
Thou less than woman in the shape of man?
_Guy_. Where I have done what may thy envy move,
Things worthy of my birth, and of my love.
_Odm_. Two bold Taxallans with one dart I slew,
And left it sticking ere my sword I drew.
_Guy_. I sought not honour on so base a train,
Such cowards by our women may be slain;
I felled along a man of bearded face,
His limbs all covered with a shining case:
So wondrous hard, and so secure of wound,
It made my sword, though edged with flint, re-bound.
_Odm_. I killed a double man; the one half lay
Upon the ground, the other ran away.
[_Guns go off within.
Enter_ Montezuma, _out of breath, with him_ Alibech, _and an
_Mont_. All is lost!--
Our foes with lightning and with thunder fight;
My men in vain shun death by shameful flight:
For deaths invisible come winged with fire,
They hear a dreadful noise, and strait expire.
Take, gods! that soul, ye did in spite create,
And made it great, to be unfortunate:
Ill fate for me unjustly you provide,
Great souls are sparks of your own heavenly pride:
That lust of power we from your godheads have,
You're bound to please those appetites you gave.
_Enter_ Vasquez _and_ Pizarro, _with Spaniards._
_Vasq_. Pizarro, I have hunted hard to-day,
Into our toils, the noblest of the prey;
Seize on the king, and him your prisoner make,
While I, in kind revenge, my taker take.
[Pizarro, _with two, goes to attack the king_. Vasquez, _with
another, to seize_ Alibech.
_Guy_. Their danger is alike;--whom shall I free?
_Odm_. I'll follow love!
_Guy_. I'll follow piety!
[Odmar _retreats from_ Vasquez, _with_ Alibech, _off the
stage_; Guyomar _fights for his father_.
_Guy_. Fly, sir! while I give back that life you gave;
Mine is well lost, if I your life can save.
[Montezuma _fights off_; Guyomar, _making his retreat, stays_.
_Guy_. Tis more than man can do to scape them all;
Stay, let me see where noblest I may fall.
[_He runs at_ Vasquez, _is seized behind and taken_.
_Vasq_. Conduct him off,
And give command, he strictly guarded be.
_Guy_. In vain are guards, death sets the valiant free.
[_Exit_ Guyomar, _with guards_.
_Vasq_. A glorious day! and bravely was it fought;
Great fame our general in great dangers sought;
From his strong arm I saw his rival run,
And, in a crowd, the unequal combat shun.
_Enter_ Cortez _leading_ Cydaria, _who seems crying and
begging of him_.
_Cort_. Man's force is fruitless, and your gods would fail
To save the city, but your tears prevail;
I'll of my fortune no advantage make,
Those terms, they had once given, they still may take.
_Cyd_. Heaven has of right all victory designed,
Where boundless power dwells in a will confined;
Your Spanish honour does the world excel.
_Cort_. Our greatest honour is in loving well.
_Cyd_. Strange ways you practise there, to win a heart;
Here love is nature, but with you 'tis art.
_Cort_. Love is with us as natural as here,
But fettered up with customs more severe.
In tedious courtship we declare our pain,
And, ere we kindness find, first meet disdain.
_Cyd_. If women love, they needless pains endure;
Their pride and folly but delay their cure.
_Cort_. What you miscall their folly, is their care;
They know how fickle common lovers are:
Their oaths and vows are cautiously believed,
For few there are but have been once deceived.
_Cyd_. But if they are not trusted when they vow,
What other marks of passion can they show?
_Cort_. With feasts, and music, all that brings delight,
Men treat their ears, their palates, and their sight.
_Cyd_. Your gallants, sure, have little eloquence,
Failing to move the soul, they court the sense:
With pomp, and trains, and in a crowd they woo,
When true felicity is but in two;
But can such toys your women's passions move?
This is but noise and tumult, 'tis not love.
_Cort_. I have no reason, madam, to excuse
Those ways of gallantry, I did not use;
My love was true, and on a nobler score.
_Cyd_. Your love, alas! then have you loved before?
_Cort_. 'Tis true I loved, but she is dead, she's dead;
And I should think with her all beauty fled,
Did not her fair resemblance live in you,
And, by that image, my first flames renew.
_Cyd_. Ah! happy beauty, whosoe'er thou art!
Though dead, thou keep'st possession of his heart;
Thou makest me jealous to the last degree,
And art my rival in his memory:
Within his memory! ah, more than so,
Thou livest and triumph'st o'er Cydaria too.
_Cort_. What strange disquiet has uncalmed your breast,
Inhuman fair, to rob the dead of rest!--
Poor heart! she slumbers in her silent tomb;
Let her possess in peace that narrow room.
_Cyd_. Poor heart!--he pities and bewails her death!--
Some god, much hated soul, restore thy breath,
That I may kill thee; but, some ease 'twill be,
I'll kill myself for but resembling thee.
_Cort_. I dread your anger, your disquiet fear,
But blows, from hands so soft, who would not bear?
So kind a passion why should I remove?
Since jealousy but shows how well we love.
Yet jealousy so strange I never knew;
Can she, who loves me not, disquiet you?
For in the grave no passions fill the breast,
'Tis all we gain by death, to be at rest.
_Cyd_. That she no longer loves, brings no relief;
Your love to her still lives, and that's my grief.
_Cort_. The object of desire once ta'en away,
'Tis then not love, but pity, which we pay.
_Cyd_. 'Tis such a pity I should never have,
When I must lie forgotten in the grave;
I meant to have obliged you, when I died,
That, after me, you should love none beside.--
But you are false already.
_Cort_. If untrue,
By heaven! my falsehood is to her, not you.
_Cyd_. Observe, sweet heaven, how falsely he does swear!--
You said, you loved me for resembling her.
_Cort_. That love was in me by resemblance bred,
But shows you cheared my sorrows for the dead.
_Cyd_. You still repeat the greatness of your grief.
_Cort_. If that was great, how great was the relief!
_Cyd_. The first love still the strongest we account.
_Cort_. That seems more strong which could the first surmount:
But if you still continue thus unkind,
Whom I love best, you, by my death, shall find.
_Cyd_. If you should die, my death shall yours pursue;
But yet I am not satisfied you're true.
_Cort_. Hear me, ye gods! and punish him you hear,
If aught within the world I hold so dear.
_Cyd_. You would deceive the gods and me; she's dead,
And is not in the world, whose love I dread.--
Name not the world; say, nothing is so dear.
_Cort_. Then nothing is,--let that secure your fear.
_Cyd_. 'Tis time must wear it off, but I must go.
Can you your constancy in absence show?
_Cort_. Misdoubt my constancy, and do not try,
But stay, and keep me ever in your eye.
_Cyd_. If as a prisoner I were here, you might
Have then insisted on a conqueror's right,
And staid me here; but now my love would be
The effect of force, and I would give it free.
_Cort_. To doubt your virtue, or your love, were sin!
Call for the captive prince, and bring him in.
_Enter_ Guyomar, _bound and sad_.
You look, sir, as your fate you could not bear:
Are Spanish fetters, then, so hard to wear?
Fortune's unjust, she ruins oft the brave,
And him, who should be victor, makes the slave.
_Guy_. Son of the sun! my fetters cannot be
But glorious for me, since put on by thee;
The ills of love, not those of fate, I fear;
These can I brave, but those I cannot bear:
My rival brother, while I'm held in chains,
In freedom reaps the fruit of all my pains.
_Cort_. Let it be never said that he, whose breast
Is filled with love, should break a lover's rest.--
Haste! lose no time!--your sister sets you free:--
And tell the king, my generous enemy,
I offer still those terms he had before,
Only ask leave his daughter to adore.
_Guy_. Brother, (that name my breast shall ever own,
[_He embraces him_.
The name of foe be but in battles known;)
For some few days all hostile acts forbear,
That, if the king consents, it seem not fear:
His heart, is noble, and great souls must be
Most sought and courted in adversity.--
Three days, I hope, the wished success will tell.
_Cyd_. Till that long time,--
_Cort_. Till that long time, farewell.
SCENE I.--_A Chamber Royal_.
_Enter_ ODMAR _and_ ALIBECH.
_Odm_. The gods, fair Alibech, had so decreed,
Nor could my valour against fate succeed;
Yet though our army brought not conquest home,
I did not from the fight inglorious come:
If, as a victor, you the brave regard,
Successless courage, then, may hope reward;
And I, returning safe, may justly boast,
To win the prize which my dear brother lost.
_Enter_ GUYOMAR _behind him_.
_Guy_. No, no, thy brother lives! and lives to be
A witness, both against himself and thee;
Though both in safety are returned again,
I blush to ask her love for vanquished men.
_Odm_. Brother, I'll not dispute but you are brave;
Yet I was free, and you, it seems, a slave.
_Guy_. Odmar, 'tis true that I was captive led;
As publicly 'tis known, as that you fled:
But of two shames, if she must one partake,
I think the choice will not be hard to make.
_Odm_. Freedom and bondage in her choice remain;
Darest thou expect she will put on thy chain?
_Guy_. No, no, fair Alibech, give him the crown,
My brother is returned with high renown:
He thinks by flight his mistress must be won,
And claims the prize, because he best did run.
_Alib_. Your chains were glorious, and your flight was wise,
But neither have o'ercome your enemies:
My secret wishes would my choice decide,
But open justice bends to neither side.
_Odm_. Justice already does my right approve,
If him, who loves you most, you most should love.
My brother poorly from your aid withdrew,
But I my father left, to succour you.
_Guy_. Her country she did to herself prefer,
Him who fought best, not who defended her;
Since she her interest, for the nation's, waved,
Then I, who saved the king, the nation saved.
You, aiding her, your country did betray;
I, aiding him, did her commands obey.
_Odm_. Name it no more; in love there is a time
When dull obedience is the greatest crime.
She to her country's use resigned your sword,
And you, kind lover, took her at her word;
You did your duty to your love prefer,
Seek your reward from duty, not from her.
_Guy_. In acting what my duty did require,
'Twas hard for me to quit my own desire;
That fought for her, which, when I did subdue,
'Twas much the easier task I left to you.
_Alib_. Odmar a more than common love has shown,
And Guyomar's was greater, or was none;
Which I should chuse, some god direct my breast.
The certain good, or the uncertain best.--
I cannot chuse,--you both dispute in vain,--
Time and your future acts must make it plain;
First raise the siege, and set your country free,
I, not the judge, but the reward, will be.
_To them, Enter_ MONTEZUMA, _talking with_ ALMERIA
_Mont_. Madam, I think, with reason, I extol
The virtue of the Spanish general;
When all the gods our ruin have foretold,
Yet generously he does his arms withhold,
And, offering peace, the first conditions make.
_Alm_. When peace is offered, 'tis too late to take;
For one poor loss, to stoop to terms like those!--
Were we o'ercome, what could they worse impose?
Go, go, with homage your proud victors meet!
Go, lie like dogs beneath your masters' feet!
Go, and beget them slaves to dig their mines,
And groan for gold, which now in temples shines!
Your shameful story shall record of me,
The men all crouched, and left a woman free!
_Guy_. Had I not fought, or durst not fight again,
I my suspected counsel should refrain;
For I wish peace, and any terms prefer,
Before the last extremities of war.
We but exasperate those we cannot harm,
And fighting gains us but to die more warm:
If that be cowardice, which dares not see
The insolent effects of victory,
The rape of matrons, and their childrens cries,--
Then I am fearful, let the brave advise.
_Odm_. Keen cutting swords, and engines killing far,
Have prosperously begun a doubtful war:
But now our foes with less advantage fight,
Their strength decreases with our Indians' fright.
_Mont_. This noble vote does with my wish comply,--
I am for war.
_Alm_. And so am I.
_Orb_. And I.
_Mont_. Then send to break the truce, and I'll take care
To chear the soldiers, and for fight prepare.
[_Exeunt_ MONT. ODM. GUY. _and_ ALIB.
_Alm_. to _Orb_. 'Tis now the hour which all to rest allow,
And sleep sits heavy upon every brow;
In this dark silence softly leave the town,
[GUYOMAR _returns, and hears them_.
And to the general's tent,--'tis quickly known,--
Direct your steps: You may despatch him: strait,
Drowned in his sleep, and easy for his fate:
Besides, the truce will make the guards more slack.
_Orb_. Courage, which leads me on, will bring me back.--
But I more fear the baseness of the thing:
Remorse, you know, bears a perpetual sting.
_Alm_. For mean remorse no room the valiant find,
Repentance is the virtue of weak minds;
For want of judgment keeps them doubtful still,
They may repent of good, who can of ill;
But daring courage makes ill actions good,
'Tis foolish pity spares a rival's blood;
You shall about it strait.
[_Exeunt_ ALM. _and_ ORB.
_Guy_. Would they betray
His sleeping virtue, by so mean a way!--
And yet this Spaniard is our nation's foe,--
I wish him dead,--but cannot wish it so;--
Either my country never must be freed,
Or I consenting to so black a deed.--
Would chance had never led my steps this way!
Now if he dies, I murder him, not they;--
Something must be resolved ere 'tis too late;--
He gave me freedom, I'll prevent his fate.
SCENE II.--_A Camp_.
_Enter CORTEZ alone, in a night-gown_.
_Cort_. All things are hushed, as nature's self lay dead;
The mountains seem to nod their drowsy head;
The little birds, in dreams, their songs repeat,
And sleeping flowers beneath the night-dew sweat.
Even lust and envy sleep; yet love denies
Rest to my soul, and slumber to my eyes.--
Three days I promised to attend my doom,
And two long days and nights are yet to come:--
'Tis sure the noise of some tumultuous fight,
They break the truce, and sally out by night.
_Enter_ ORBELLAN, _flying in the dark, his sword
_Orb_. Betrayed! pursued! O, whither shall I fly?
See, see! the just reward of treachery!--
I'm sure among the tents, but know not where;
Even night wants darkness to secure my fear.
[_Comes near_ CORTEZ, _who hears him_.
_Cort_. Stand! who goes there?
_Orb_. Alas, what shall I say?--
A poor Taxallan that mistook his way,
And wanders in the terrors of the night.
_Cort_. Soldier, thou seem'st afraid; whence comes thy fright?
_Orb_. The insolence of Spaniards caused my fear,
Who in the dark pursued me entering here.
_Cort_. Their crimes shall meet immediate punishment,
But stay thou safe within the general's tent.
_Orb_. Still worse and worse.
_Cort_. Fear not, but follow me;
Upon my life I'll set thee safe and free.
[CORTEZ _leads him in, and returns.
To him_ VASQUEZ, PIZARRO, _and Spaniards with Torches_.
_Vasq_. O sir, thank heaven, and your brave Indian friend,
That you are safe; Orbellan did intend
This night to kill you sleeping in your tent:
But Guyomar his trusty slave has sent,
Who, following close his silent steps by night,
Till in our camp they both approached the light,
Cried-_Seize the traitor, seize the murtherer_!
The cruel villain fled I know not where;
But far he is not, for he this way bent.
_Piz_. The enraged soldiers seek, from tent to tent,
With lighted torches, and in love to you,
With bloody vows his hated life pursue.
_Vasq_. This messenger does, since he came, relate,
That the old king, after a long debate,
By his imperious mistress blindly led,
Has given Cydaria to Orbellan's bed.
_Cort_. Vasquez, the trusty slave with you retain;
Retire a while, I'll call you back again.
[_Exeunt_ VASQ. _and_ PIZ.
CORTEZ _at his tent door_.
Indian, come forth; your enemies are gone,
And I, who saved you from them, here alone.
_Enter ORBELLAN, holding his face aside_.
You hide your face, as you were still afraid:
Dare you not look on him, who gave you aid?
_Orb_. Moon, slip behind some cloud, some tempest, rise,
And blow out all the stars that light the skies,
To shrowd my shame!
_Cort_. In vain you turn aside,
And hide your face; your name you cannot hide:
I know my rival and his black design.
_Orb_. Forgive it, as my passion's fault, not mine.
_Cort_. In your excuse your love does little say;
You might, howe'er, have took a fairer way.
_Orb_. 'Tis true, my passion small defence can make;
Yet you must spare me for your honour's sake,
That was engaged to set me safe and free.
_Cort_. 'Twas to a stranger, not an enemy:
Nor is it prudence to prolong thy breath,
When all my hopes depend upon thy death;
Yet none shall tax me with base perjury:
Something I'll do, both for myself and thee;
With vowed revenge my soldiers search each tent,
If thou art seen, none can thy death prevent;
Follow my steps with silence and with haste.
_They go out, the Scene changes to the Indian Country, they
_Cort_. Now you are safe, you have my outguards past.
_Orb_. Then here I take my leave.
_Cort_. Orbellan, no;
When you return, you to Cydaria go:
I'll send a message.
_Orb_. Let it be exprest;
I am in haste.
_Cort_. I'll write it in your breast.
_Orb_. What means my rival?
_Cort_. Either fight or die,
I'll not strain honour to a point too high;
I saved your life, and keep it if you can,
Cydaria shall be for the bravest man;
On equal terms you shall your fortune try,
Take this, and lay your flint-edged weapon by;
[_Gives him a sword_.
I'll arm you for my glory, and pursue
No palm, but what's to manly virtue due.
Fame, with my conquest, shall my courage tell.
This you shall gain, by placing love so well.
_Orb_. Fighting with you, ungrateful I appear.
_Cort_. Under that shadow, thou would'st hide thy fear:
Thou would'st possess thy love at thy return,
And in her arms my easy virtue scorn.
_Orb_. Since we must fight, no longer let's delay;
The moon shines clear, and makes a paler day.
[_They fight_, ORBELLAN_ is wounded in the hand,
his sword falls out of it_.
_Cort_. To courage, even of foes, there's pity due;
It was not I, but fortune, vanquished you:
[_Throws his sword again_.
Thank me with that, and so dispute the prize,
As if you fought before Cydaria's eyes.
_Orb_. I would not poorly such a gift requite;
You gave me not this sword to yield, but fight:
[_He strives to hold it, but cannot_.
But see, where yours has forced its bloody way;
My wounded hand my heart does ill obey.
_Cort_. Unlucky honour, that controul'st my will?
Why have I vanquished, since I must not kill?
Fate sees thy life lodged in a brittle glass,
And looks it through, but to it cannot pass.
_Orb_. All I can do is frankly to confess,--
I wish I could, but cannot, love her less:
To swear I would resign her, were but vain,
Love would recal that perjured breath again;
And in my wretched case, 'twill be more just,
Not to have promised, than deceive your trust.
Know, if I live once more to see the town,
In bright Cydaria's arms my love I'll crown.
_Cort_. In spite of that, I give thee liberty,
And with thy person leave thy honour free;
But to thy wishes move a speedy pace,
Or death will soon o'ertake thee in the chase.--
To arms, to arms; fate shows my love the way,
I'll force the city on thy nuptial day.
_Enter_ MONTEZUMA, ODMAR, GUYOMAR, ALMERIA.
_Mont_. It moves my wonder, that in two days space,
This early famine spreads so swift a pace.
_Odm_. 'Tis, sir, the general cry; nor seems it strange,
The face of plenty should so swiftly change:
This city never felt a siege before,
But from the lake received its daily store;
Which now shut up, and millions crowded here,
Famine will soon in multitudes appear.
_Mont_. The more the number, still the greater shame.
_Alm_. What if some one should seek immortal fame,
By ending of the siege at one brave blow?
_Mont_. That were too happy!
_Alm_. Yet it may be so.
What if the Spanish general should be slain?
_Guy_. Just heavens I hope, does otherwise ordain.
_Mont_. If slain by treason, I lament his death.
_Enter_ ORBELLAN, _and whispers his sister_.
_Odm_. Orbellan seems in haste, and out of breath.
_Mont_. Orbellan, welcome; you are early here,
A bridegroom's haste does in your looks appear.
[ALMERIA _aside to her brother_.
_Alm_. Betrayed! no, 'twas thy cowardice and fear;
He had not 'scaped with life, had I been there:
But since so ill you act a brave design,
Keep close your shame;--fate makes the next turn mine.
_Enter_ ALIBECH _and_ CYDARIA.
_Alib_. O sir, if ever pity touched your breast,
Let it be now to your own blood exprest:
In tears your beauteous daughter drowns her sight,
Silent as dews that fall in dead of night.
_Cyd_. To your commands I strict obedience owe,
And my last act of it I come to show:
I want the heart to die before your eyes,
But grief will finish that which fear denies.
_Alm_. Your will should by your father's precept move.
_Cyd_. When he was young, he taught me truth in love.
_Alm_. He found more love than he deserved, 'tis true,
And that, it seems, is lucky too to you;
Your father's folly took a headstrong course,
But I'll rule yours, and teach you love by force.
_Mess_. Arm, arm, O king! the enemy comes on,
A sharp assault already is begun;
Their murdering guns play fiercely on the walls.
_Odm_. Now, rival, let us run where honour calls.
_Guy_. I have discharged what gratitude did owe,
And the brave Spaniard is again my foe.
[_Exeunt_ ODMAR _and_ GUYOMAR.
_Mont_. Our walls are high, and multitudes defend:
Their vain attempt must in their ruin end;
The nuptials with my presence shall be graced.
_Alib_. At least but stay 'till the assault be past.
_Alm_. Sister, in vain you urge him to delay,
The king has promised, and he shall obey.
_Enter second Messenger_.
_2 Mess_. From several parts the enemy's repelled,
One only quarter to the assault does yield.
_Enter third Messenger_.
_3 Mess_. Some foes are entered, but they are so few,
They only death, not victory, pursue.
_Orb_. Hark, hark, they shout!
From virtue's rules I do too meanly swerve,
I, by my courage, will your love deserve.
_Mont_. Here, in the heart of all the town, I'll stay;
And timely succour, where it wants, convey.
_A noise within. Enter_ ORBELLAN, _Indians driven
in_, CORTEZ _after them, and one or two Spaniards_.
_Cort_. He's found, he's found! degenerate coward, stay:
Night saved thee once, thou shalt not scape by day.
_Orb_. O, I am killed--
_Enter_ GUYOMAR _and_ ODMAR.
_Guy_. Yield, generous stranger, and preserve your life;
Why chuse you death in this unequal strife?
[_He is beset_.
[ALMERIA _and_ ALIBECH _fall on_ ORBELLAN'S _body_.
_Cort_. What nobler fate could any lover meet?
I fall revenged, and at my mistress' feet.
[_They fall on him, and bear him down_, GUYOMAR _takes his sword_.
_Alib_. He's past recovery; my dear brother's slain,
Fate's hand was in it, and my care is vain.
_Alm_. In weak complaints you vainly waste your breath:
They are not tears that can revenge his death.
Despatch the villain strait.
_Cort_. The villain's dead.
_Alm_. Give me a sword, and let me take his head.
_Mont_. Though, madam, for your brother's loss I grieve,
Yet let me beg--
_Alm_. His murderer may live?
_Cyd_. 'Twas his misfortune, and the chance of war.
_Cort_. It was my purpose, and I killed him fair:
How could you so unjust and cruel prove,
To call that chance, which was the act of love?
_Cyd_. I called it any thing to save your life:
Would he were living still, and I his wife!
That wish was once my greatest misery:
But 'tis a greater to behold you die.
_Alm_. Either command his death upon the place,
Or never more behold Almeria's face.
_Guy_. You by his valour once from death were freed:
Can you forget so generous a deed?
_Mont_. How gratitude and love divide my breast!
Both ways alike my soul is robbed of rest.
But--let him die--Can I his sentence give?
Ungrateful, must he die, by whom I live?
But can I then Almeria's tears deny?
Should any live whom she commands to die?
_Guy_. Approach who dares: He yielded on my word;
And, as my prisoner, I restore his sword.
[_Gives his sword_.
His life concerns the safety of the state,
And I'll preserve it for a calm debate.
_Mont_. Dar'st thou rebel, false and degenerate boy?
That being, which I gave, I thus destroy.
[_Offers to kill him_, ODMAR _steps between_.
_Odm_. My brother's blood I cannot see you spill,
Since he prevents you but from doing ill.
He is my rival, but his death would be
For him too glorious, and too base for me.
_Guy_. Thou shalt not conquer in this noble strife:
Alas, I meant not to defend my life:
Strike, sir, you never pierced a breast more true;
'Tis the last wound I e'er can take for you.
You see I live but to dispute your will;
Kill me, and then you may my prisoner kill.
_Cort_. You shall not, generous youths, contend for me:
It is enough that I your honour see:
But that your duty may no blemish take,
I will myself your father's captive make:
[_Gives his sword to_ MONTEZUMA.
When he dares strike, I am prepared to fall:
The Spaniards will revenge their general.
_Cyd_. Ah, you too hastily your life resign,
You more would love it, if you valued mine!
_Cort_. Despatch me quickly, I my death forgive;
I shall grow tender else, and wish to live;
Such an infectious face her sorrow wears,
I can bear death, but not Cydaria's tears.
_Alm_. Make haste, make haste, they merit death all three:
They for rebellion, and for murder he.
See, see, my brother's ghost hangs hovering there
O'er his warm blood, that steams into the air;
Revenge, revenge, it cries.
_Mont_. And it shall have;
But two days respite for his life I crave:
If in that space you not more gentle prove,
I'll give a fatal proof how well I love.
'Till when, you, Guyomar, your prisoner take;
Bestow him in the castle on the lake:
In that small time I shall the conquest gain
Of these few sparks of virtue which remain;
Then all, who shall my headlong passion see,
Shall curse my crimes, and yet shall pity me.
SCENE I.--_A prison_.
_Enter_ ALMERIA _and an Indian; they speak entering_.
_Ind_. A dangerous proof of my respect I show.
_Alm_. Fear not, Prince Guyomar shall never know:
While he is absent let us not delay;
Remember 'tis the king thou dost obey.
_Ind_. See where he sleeps.
[CORTEZ _appears chained and laid asleep_.
_Alm_.--Without, my coming wait;
And, on thy life, secure the prison gate.
[_She plucks out a dagger, and approaches him_.
Spaniard, awake: thy fatal hour is come:
Thou shalt not at such ease receive thy doom.
Revenge is sure, though sometimes slowly paced:
Awake, awake, or, sleeping, sleep thy last.
_Cort_. Who names revenge?
_Alm_.--Look up, and thou shalt see.
_Cort_. I cannot fear so fair an enemy.
_Alm_. No aid is nigh, nor canst thou make defence:
Whence can thy courage come?
_Alm_. From innocence? let that then take thy part.
Still are thy looks assured--have at thy heart!
[_Holds up the dagger_.
I cannot kill thee; sure thou bear'st some charm,
Or some divinity holds back my arm.
Why do I thus delay to make him bleed?
Can I want courage for so brave a deed?
I've shook it off; my soul is free from fear.
And I can now strike any where--but here:
His scorn of death, how strangely does it move!
A mind so haughty who could chuse but love!
Plead not a charm, or any god's command,
Alas, it is thy heart that holds thy hand:
In spite of me I love, and see, too late,
My mother's pride must find my mother's fate.
--Thy country's foe, thy brother's murderer,--
For shame, Almeria, such mad thoughts forbear:
It w'onnot be,--if I once more come on,
[_Coming on again_.
I shall mistake the breast, and pierce my own.
[_Comes with her dagger down_.
_Cort_. Does your revenge maliciously forbear
To give me death, 'till 'tis prepared by fear?
If you delay for that, forbear or strike,
Foreseen and sudden death are both alike.
_Alm_. To show my love would but increase his pride:
They have most power, who most their passions hide.
Spaniard, I must confess, I did expect
You could not meet your death with such neglect;
I will defer it now, and give you time:
You may repent, and I forget your crime.
_Cort_. Those, who repent, acknowledge they do ill:
I did not unprovoked your brother kill.
_Alm_. Petition me, perhaps I may forgive.
_Cort_. Who begs his life does not deserve to live.
_Alm_. But if 'tis given, you'll not refuse to take?
_Cort_. I can live gladly for Cydaria's sake.
_Alm_. Does she so wholly then possess your mind?
What if you should another lady find,
Equal to her in birth, and far above
In all that can attract, or keep your love,
Would you so doat upon your first desire,
As not to entertain a nobler fire?
_Cort_. I think that person hardly will be found,
With gracious form and equal virtue crowned:
Yet if another could precedence claim,
My fixed desires could find no fairer aim.
_Alm_. Dull ignorance! he cannot yet conceive:
To speak more plain, shame will not give me leave.
--Suppose one loved you, whom even kings adore:
Who, with your life, your freedom would restore,
And add to that the crown of Mexico:
Would you, for her, Cydaria's love forego?
_Cort_. Though she could offer all you can invent,
I could not of my faith, once vowed, repent.
_Alm_. A burning blush has covered all my face;
Why am I forced to publish my disgrace?
What if I love? you know it cannot be,
And yet I blush to put the case--'twere me.
If I could love you with a flame so true,
I could forget what hand my brother slew--
--Make out the rest--I am disordered so,
I know not farther what to say or do:
--But answer me to what you think I meant.
_Cort_. Reason or wit no answer can invent:
Of words confused who can the meaning find?
_Alm_. Disordered words show a distempered mind.
_Cort_. She has obliged me so, that could I chuse,
I would not answer what I must refuse. [_Aside_.
_Alm_. His mind is shook--suppose I loved you, speak,
Would you for me Cydaria's fetters break?
_Cort_. Things, meant in jest, no serious answer need.
_Alm_. But, put the case that it were so indeed.
_Cort_. If it were so,--which but to think were pride,--
My constant love would dangerously be tried:
For since you could a brother's death forgive,
He, whom you save, for you alone should live:
But I, the most unhappy of mankind,
Ere I knew yours, have all my love resigned:
'Tis my own loss I grieve, who have no more:
You go a-begging to a bankrupt's door.
Yet could I change, as sure I never can,
How could you love so infamous a man?
For love, once given from her, and placed in you,
Would leave no ground I ever could be true.
_Alm_. You construed me aright--I was in jest:
And, by that offer, meant to sound your breast;
Which since I find so constant to your love,
Will much my value of your worth improve.
Spaniard, assure yourself you shall not be
Obliged to quit Cydaria for me:
'Tis dangerous though to treat me in this sort,
And to refuse my offers, though in sport. [_Exit_.
_Cort_. In what a strange condition am I left?
More than I wish I have, of all I wish bereft!
In wishing nothing, we enjoy still most;
For even our wish is, in possession, lost:
Restless, we wander to a new desire,
And burn ourselves, by blowing up the fire:
We toss and turn about our feverish will,
When all our ease must come by lying still:
For all the happiness mankind can gain
Is not in pleasure, but in rest from pain.
[_Goes in, and the scene closes upon him_.
_Enter_ MONTEZUMA, ODMAR, GUYOMAR, _and_
_Mont_. My ears are deaf with this impatient crowd.
_Odm_. Their wants are now grown mutinous and loud:
The general's taken, but the siege remains;
And their last food our dying men sustains.
_Guy_. One means is only left. I to this hour
Have kept the captive from Almeria's power;
And though, by your command, she often sent
To urge his doom, do still his death prevent.
_Mont_. That hope is past: Him I have oft assailed;
But neither threats nor kindness have prevailed;
Hiding our wants, I offered to release
His chains, and equally conclude a peace:
He fiercely answered, I had now no way
But to submit, and without terms obey:
I told him, he in chains demanded more
Than he imposed in victory before:
He sullenly replied, he could not make
These offers now; honour must give, not take.
_Odm_. Twice have I sallied, and was twice beat back:
What desp'rate course remains for us to take!
_Mont_. If either death or bondage I must chuse,
I'll keep my freedom, though my life I lose.
_Guy_. I'll not upbraid you, that you once refused
Those means, you might have then with honour used;
I'll lead your men, perhaps bring victory:
They know to conquer best, who know to die.
[_Exeunt_ MONTEZUMA _and_ ODMAR.
_Alib_. Ah me, what have I heard! stay, Guyomar,
What hope you from this sally you prepare?
_Guy_. A death, with honour, for my country's good:
A death, to which yourself designed my blood.
_Alib_. You heard, and I well know the town's distress,
Which sword and famine both at once oppress:
Famine so fierce, that what's denied man's use,
Even deadly plants, and herbs of poisonous juice,
Wild hunger seeks; and, to prolong our breath,
We greedily devour our certain death:
The soldier in th' assault of famine falls:
And ghosts, not men, are watching on the walls.
As callow birds--
Whose mother's killed in seeking of the prey,
Cry in their nest, and think her long away;
And at each leaf that stirs, each blast of wind,
Gape for the food, which they must never find:
So cry the people in their misery.
_Guy_. And what relief can they expect from me?
_Alib_. While Montezuma sleeps, call in the foe:
The captive general your design may know:
His noble heart, to honour ever true,
Knows how to spare as well as to subdue.
_Guy_. What I have heard I blush to hear: And grieve,
Those words you spoke I must your words believe.
I to do this! I, whom you once thought brave,
To sell my country, and my king enslave?
All I have done by one foul act deface,
And yield my right to you, by turning base?
What more could Odmar wish that I should do,
To lose your love, than you persuade me to?
No, madam, no, I never can commit
A deed so ill, nor can you suffer it:
'Tis but to try what virtue you can find
Lodged in my soul.
_Alib_. I plainly speak my mind;
Dear as my life my virtue I'll preserve,
But virtue you too scrupulously serve:
I loved not more than now my country's good,
When for its service I employed your blood:
But things are altered, I am still the same,
By different ways still moving to one fame;
And by disarming you, I now do more
To save the town, than arming you before.
_Guy_. Things good or ill by circumstances be,
In you 'tis virtue, what is vice in me.
_Alib_. That ill is pardoned, which does good procure.
_Guy_. The good's uncertain, but the ill is sure.
_Alib_. When kings grow stubborn, slothful, or unwise,
Each private man for public good should rise.
_Guy_. Take heed, fair maid, how monarchs you accuse:
Such reasons none but impious rebels use:
Those, who to empire by dark paths aspire,
Still plead a call to what they most desire;
But kings by free consent their kingdoms take,
Strict as those sacred ties which nuptials make;
And whate'er faults in princes time reveal,
None can be judge where can be no appeal.
_Alib_. In all debates you plainly let me see
You love your virtue best, but Odmar me:
Go, your mistaken piety pursue:
I'll have from him what is denied by you;
With my commands you shall no more be graced.
Remember, sir, this trial was your last.
_Guy_. The gods inspire you with a better mind;
Make you more just, and make you then more kind!
But though from virtue's rules I cannot part,
Think I deny you with a bleeding heart:
'Tis hard with me whatever choice I make;
I must not merit you, or must forsake:
But, in this strait, to honour I'll be true,
And leave my fortune to the gods and you.
_Enter Messenger privately_.
_Mess_. Now is the time; be aiding to your fate;
From the watch-tower, above the western-gate,
I have discerned the foe securely lie,
Too proud to fear a beaten enemy:
Their careless chiefs to the cool grottoes run,
The bowers of kings, to shade them from the sun.
_Guy_. Upon thy life disclose thy news to none;
I'll make the conquest or the shame my own.
[_Exeunt_ GUYOMAR _and Messenger_.
_Alib_. I read some welcome message in his eye:
Prince Odmar comes: I'll see if he'll deny.--
Odmar, I come to tell you pleasing news;
I begged a thing, your brother did refuse.
_Odm_. The news both pleases me, and grieves me
For nothing, sure, should be denied to you:
But he was blessed who might commanded be;
You never meant that happiness to me.
_Alib_. What he refused, your kindness might bestow,
But my commands, perhaps, your burden grow.
_Odm_. Could I but live till burdensome they prove,
My life would be immortal as my love.
Your wish, ere it receive a name, I grant.
_Alib_. 'Tis to relieve your dying country's want;
All hopes of succour from your arms is past,
To save us now you must our ruin haste;
Give up the town, and, to oblige him more.
The captive general's liberty restore.
_Odm_. You speak to try my love; can you forgive
So soon, to let your brother's murderer live?
_Alib_. Orbellan, though my brother, did disgrace,
With treacherous deeds, our mighty mother's race;
And to revenge his blood, so justly spilt,
What is it less than to partake his guilt?
Though my proud sister to revenge incline,
I to my country's good my own resign.
_Odm_. To save our lives, our freedom I betray--
Yet, since I promised it, I will obey;
I'll not my shame nor your commands dispute;
You shall behold your empire's absolute. [_Exit_.
_Alib_. I should have thanked him for his speedy grant,
And yet, I know not how, fit words I want:
Sure I am grown distracted in my mind;--
That joy, this grant should bring, I cannot find:
The one, denying, vexed my soul before;
And this, obeying, has disturbed me more:
The one, with grief, and slowly, did refuse,
The other, in his grant, much haste did use:
--He used too much--and, granting me so soon,
He has the merit of the gift undone:
Methought with wondrous ease he swallowed down
His forfeit honour, to betray the town:
My inward choice was Guyomar before,
But now his virtue has confirmed me more--
I rave, I rave, for Odmar will obey,
And then my promise must my choice betray.
Fantastic honour, thou hast framed a toil
Thyself, to make thy love thy virtue's spoil. [_Exit_.
_A pleasant grotto discovered; in it a fountain spouting;
round about it Vasquez, Pizarro, and other
Spaniards, lying carelessly unarmed, and by them
many Indian women, one of which sings the following
Ah fading joy! how quickly art thou past!
Yet we thy ruin haste.
As if the cares of human life were few,
We seek out new:
And follow fate, which would too fast pursue.
See, how on every bough the birds express,
In their sweet notes, their happiness.
They all enjoy, and nothing spare;
But on their mother nature lay their care:
Why then should man, the lord of all below,
Such troubles chuse to know,
As none of all his subjects undergo?
Hark, hark, the waters, fall, fall, fall,
And with a murmuring sound
Dash, dash, upon the ground,
To gentle slumbers call.
_After the song two Spaniards arise, and dance a saraband with
castanietas: At the end of which Guyomar and his Indians enter, and,
ere the Spaniards can recover their swords, seize them_.
_Guy_. Those, whom you took without, in triumph bring;
But see these strait conducted to the king.
_Piz_. Vasquez, what now remains in these extremes?
_Vasq_. Only to wake us from our golden dreams.
_Piz_. Since by our shameful conduct we have lost
Freedom, wealth, honour, which we value most,
I wish they would our lives a period give:
They live too long, who happiness out-live.
[_Spaniards are led out_.
_1 Ind_. See, sir, how quickly your success is spread;
The king comes marching in the army's head.
_Enter Montezuma, Alibech, Odmar discontented_.
_Mont_. Now all the Gods reward and bless my son. [_Embracing_.
Thou hast this day thy father's youth outdone.
_Alib_. Just heaven all happiness upon him shower,
Till it confess its will beyond its power.
_Guy_. The heavens are kind, the Gods propitious
I only doubt a mortal deity:
I neither fought for Conquest, nor for fame,
Your love alone can recompence my flame.
_Alib_. I gave my love to the most brave in war;
But that the king must judge.
[_Soldiers shout_, A Guyomar, &c.
_Mont_. This day your nuptials we will celebrate;
But guard these haughty captives 'till their fate:
Odmar, this night to keep them be your care,
To-morrow for their sacrifice prepare.
_Alib_. Blot not your conquest with your cruelty.
_Mont_. Fate says, we are not safe unless they die:
The spirit, that foretold this happy day,
Bid me use caution and avoid delay:
Posterity be juster to my fame;
Nor call it murder, when each private man
In his defence may justly do the same:
But private persons more than monarchs can:
All weigh our acts, and whate'er seems unjust,
Impute not to necessity, but lust.
[_Exeunt_ MONTEZUMA, GUYOMAR _and_ ALIBECH.
_Odm_. Lost and undone! he had my father's voice,
And Alibech seemed pleased with her new choice:
Alas, it was not new! too late I see,
Since one she hated, that it must be me.
--I feel a strange temptation in my will
To do an action, great at once and ill:
Virtue, ill treated, from my soul is fled;
I by revenge and love am wholly led:
Yet conscience would against my rage rebel--
Conscience, the foolish pride of doing well!
Sink empire, father perish, brother fall,
Revenge does more than recompence you all.
Conduct the prisoners in.
_Enter_ VASQUEZ, _and_ PIZARRO.
Spaniards, you See your own deplored estate:
What dare you do to reconcile your fate?
_Vasq_. All that despair, with courage joined, can do.
_Odm_. An easy way to victory I'll shew;
When all are buried in their sleep or joy,
I'll give you arms, burn, ravish, and destroy;
For my own share one beauty I design;
Engage your honour that she shall be mine.
_Piz_. I gladly swear.
_Vasq_.--And I; but I request
That, in return, one, who has touched my breast,
Whose name I know not, may be given to me.
_Odm_. Spaniard, 'tis just; she's yours, whoe'er she
_Vasq_. The night comes on: if fortune bless the bold,
I shall possess the beauty.
_Piz_. I the gold. [_Exeunt_.
SCENE IV.--_A Prison_.
CORTEZ _discovered bound:_ ALMERIA _talking with him_.
_Alm_. I come not now your constancy to prove;
You may believe me when I say I love.
_Cort_. You have too well instructed me before
In your intentions, to believe you more.
_Alm_. I'm justly plagued by this your unbelief,
And am myself the cause of my own grief:
But to beg love, I cannot stoop so low;
It is enough that you my passion know:
'Tis in your choice; love me, or love me not;
I have not yet my brother's death forgot.
[_Lays hold on the dagger_.
_Cort_. You menace me and court me in a breath:
Your Cupid looks as dreadfully as death.
_Alm_. Your hopes, without, are vanished into smoke:
Your captains taken, and your armies broke.
_Cort_. In vain you urge me with my miseries:
When fortune falls, high courages can rise;
Now should I change my love, it would appear
Not the effect of gratitude, but fear.
_Alm_. I'll to the king, and make it my request,
Or my command, that you may be releast;
And make you judge, when I have set you free,
Who best deserves your passion, I, or she.
_Cort_. You tempt my faith so generous a way,
As without guilt might constancy betray:
But I'm so far from meriting esteem,
That, if I judge, I must myself condemn;
Yet having given my worthless heart before,
What I must ne'er possess, I will adore:
Take my devotion then this humbler way;
Devotion is the love which heaven we pay.
[_Kisses her hand_.
_Cyd_. May I believe my eyes! what do I see!
Is this her hate to him, his love to me!
'Tis in my breast she sheaths her dagger now.
False man, is this thy faith? is this thy vow?
_Cort_. What words, dear saint, are these I hear you use?
What faith, what vows, are those which you accuse?
_Cyd_. More cruel than the tyger o'er his spoil;
And falser than the weeping crododile:
Can you add vanity to guilt, and take
A pride to hear the conquests, which you make?
Go, publish your renown; let it be said,
You have a woman, and that loved, betrayed.
_Cort_. With what injustice is my faith accused!
Life, freedom, empire, I at once refused;
And would again ten thousand times for you.
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