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IRENE;

A TRAGEDY.

A C T I.

C .

SCENE I.

DEMETRIUS and LEONTIUS, in Turkish Habits.

LEONTIUS,

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

DEMETRIUS.

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

LEONTIUS.

Yet Greece enjoys. no gleam of transient hope,
No soothing interval of peaceful sorrow;
The lust of gold succeeds the rage

of conquest, The lust of gold, unfeeling and remorseless,

The last corruption of degenerate man!
Urg'd by th' imperious soldier's fierce command,
Thegroaning Greeksbreak up their golden caverns,
Pregnant with stores that India's mines might envy,
Th' accumulated wealth of toiling ages.

DEMETRIUS.

That wealth, too sacred for their country's use!
That wealth, too pleasing to be lost for freedom!
That wealth, which, granted to their weeping prince,
Had rang’d embattled nations at our gates !
But, thus reservd to lure the wolves of Turkey,
Adds shame to grief, and infamy to ruin.
Lamenting Av'rice now too late discovers
Her own neglected in the publick safety.

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

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

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

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

LEONTIUS.

Well might the weakness of our empire sink Before such foes, of more than human force; Some Pow'r invisible, from Heav'n or Hell, Conducts their armies, and asserts their cause.

DEMETRIUS.

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

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

LFONTIUS.

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

DEMETRIUS.

-How chang'd, alas!-Now ghastly Desolation
In triumph sits upon our shatter'd spires;
Now superstition, ignorance, and error,
Usurp our temples, and profane our altars:

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LEONTIUS.

From ev'ry palace bursts a mingled clamour,
The dreadful dissonance of barb'rous triumph,
Shrieks of affright and wailings of distress.
Oft when the cries of violated beauty
Arose to heav'n, and pierc'd my bleeding breast,
I felt thy pains, and trembled for Aspasia.

DEMETRIUS.

Aspasia! spare that lov'd, that mournful name: Dear hapless maid-tempestuous grief o'erbears My reasoning pow'rs-Dear, hapless, lost Aspasia!

LEONTIUS.

Suspend the thought.

DEMETRIUS.

All thought on her is madness ; Yet let me think-I see the helpless maid, Behold the monsters gaze with savage rapture, Behold how lust and rapine struggle round her!

LEONTIUS.

Awake, Demetrius, from this dismal dream,
Sink pot beneath imaginary sorrows;
Call to

your
aid
your courage

and
your

wisdon;
Think on the sudden change of human scenes ;
Think on the various accidents of war;
Think on the mighty power of awful virtue ;
Think on that Providence that guards the good.

DEMETRIUS.

O Providence! extend thy care to me,
For Courage droops unequal to the combat,
And weak Philosophy denies her succours.
Sure some kind sabre in the heat of battle,
Ere yet the foe found leisure to be cruel,
Dismiss'd her to the sky.

LEONTIUS.

Some virgin martyr, Perhaps, enamour'd of resembling virtue, With gentle hand restrain's the streams of life, And snatch'd her timely from her country's fate.

DEMETRIUS.

From those bright regions of eternal day,
Where now thou shin'st among thy fellow-saints,
Array'd in purer light, look down on me:
In pleasing visions and assuasive dreams,
O! sooth my soul, and teach me how to lose thee.

LEONTIUS.

Enough of unavailing tears, Demetrius:
I came obedient to thy friendly summons,
And hop'd to share thy counsels, not thy sorrows :
While thus we mourn the fortune of Aspasia,
To what are we reserv’d?

DEMETRIUS.

To what I know not: But hope, yet hope, to happiness and honour; If happiness can be without Aspasia,

LEONTIUS.

But whence this new-sprung hope?

DEMF.TRIUS.

From Cali Bassa, The chief, whose wisdom guides the Turkish coun

sels.
He, tir'd of slavery, though the highest slave,
Projects at once our freedom and his own;
And bids us thus disguis'd await him here.

LEONTIUS.

Can he restore the state he could not save?
In vain, when Turkey's troops assail'd our walls

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