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That fires thy cheek, and elevates thy mien,
Nor thus usurp the dignity of virtue.
Review this day.
Irene. Whate'er thy accusation,
The Sultan is my judge.
That hope is past;
Hard was the strife of justice and of love;
But now 'tis o'er, and justice has prevail'd.
Know'st thou not Cali ? know'st thou not Demetrius ?
Irene. Bold slave, I know them both-I know them
traitors. Mus. Perfidious !-yes—too well thou know'st them
Irene. Their treason throws no stain upon Irene.
This day has prov'd my fondness for the Sultan;
He knew Irene's truth.
The Sultan knows it,
He knows how near apostacy to treason-
But 'tis not mine to judge—I scorn and leave thee.
go, lest vengeance urge my hand to blood, To blood too mean to stain a soldier's sabre.
[Exit Mustapha IRENE, to her Attendants. Go, blust'ring slave-He has not heard of Murza. That dextrous message frees me from suspicion.
Enter Hasan, Caraza, with Mutes, who throw the
black robe upon IRENE, and sign to her Attendants to withdraw.
Has. Forgive, fair Excellence, th' unwilling tongue, The tongue, that, forc'd by strong necessity, Bids beauty, such as thine, prepare to die. Irene. What wild mistake is this! Take hence with
speed Your robe of mourning, and your dogs of death.
Quick from my sight, you inauspicious monsters,
Nor dare henceforth to shock Irene's walks.
Has. Alas! they come commanded by the Sultan,
Th’unpitying ministers of Turkish justice,
Nor dare to spare the life his frown condemns.
Irene. Are these the rapid thunderbolts of war,
That pour with sudden violence on kingdoms,
And spread their flames resistless, o'er the world?
What sleepy charms benumb these active heroes,
Depress their spirits, and retard their speed ?
Beyond the fear of ling’ring punishment,
Aspasia now within her lover's arms
Securely sleeps, and in delightful dreams
Smiles at the threat’nings of defeated rage.
Car. We come, bright Virgin, though relenting Nature
Shrinks at the hated task, for thy destruction.
When summond by the Sultan's clam'rous fury,
We ask'd with tim'rous tongue th' offender's name,
He struck his tortur'd breast, and roar'd, Irene.
We started at the sound, again inquir’d;
Again this thund'ring voice return'd, Irene.
Irene. Whence is this rage? what barb'rous tongue has
wrong'd me? What fraud misleads him? or what crimes incense?
Has. Expiring Cali nam'd Irene's chamber, The place appointed for his master's death.
Irene. Irene's chamber! From my faithful bosom Far be the thought-But hear my protestation.
Car. 'Tis ours, alas ! to punish, not to judge,
Not call’d to try the cause, we heard the sentence,
Ordain'd the mournful messengers of death.
Irene. Some ill-designing stateman's base intrigue !
Some cruel stratagem of jealous beauty!
Perhaps yourselves the villains that defame me,
Now haste to murder, ere returning thought
Recall th' extorted doom.It must be so : :
Confess your crime, or lead me to the Sultan;
There dauntless truth shall blast the vile accuser ;
Then shall you feel what language cannot utter,
Each piercing torture, ev'ry change of pain,
That vengeance can invent, or power inflict.
[Enter ABDALLA: he stops short and listens.
IRENE, HASAN, CARAZA, ABDALLA.
All is not lost, Abdalla ; see the queen,
See the last witness of thy guilt and fear
Enrob’d in death-Dispatch her, and be great.
Car. Unhappy fair! compassion calls upon me
To check this torrent of imperious rage;
While unavailing anger crowds thy tongue
With idle threats and fruitless exclamation,
The fraudful moments ply their silent wings,
And steal thy life away. Death's horrid angel
Already shakes his bloody sabre o'er thee.
The raging Sultan burns till our return,
Curses the dull delays of ling’ring mercy,
And thinks his fatal mandates ill obey'd.
Abd. Is then your sovereign's life so cheaply rated,
That thus you parly with detected treason?
Should she prevail to gain the Sultan's presence,
Soon might her tears engage a lover's credit;
Perhaps her malice might transfer the charge ;
Perhaps her pois’nous tongue might blast Abdalla.
Irene. O let me but be heard, nor fear from me
Or flights of pow'r, or projects of ambition.
My hopes, my wishes, terminate in life,
A little life, for grief, and for repentance.
Abd. I mark'd her wily messenger afar,
And saw him skulking in the closet walks :
I guess'd her dark designs, and warn’d the Sultan,
And bring her former sentence new confirmed.
Has. Then call it not our cruelty, nor crime;
Deem us not deaf to woe, nor blind to beauty,
That thus constrain'd we speed the stroke of death.
[Beckons the Mutes.
Irene. O, name not death! Distraction and amazement,
Horror and agony, are in that sound !
Let me but live, heap woes on woes upon me,
Hide me with murd'rers in the dungeon's gloom,
Send me to wander on some pathless shore,
Let shame and hooting infamy pursue me,
Let slav'ry harass, and let hunger gripe.
Car. Could we reverse the sentence of the Sultan,
Our bleeding bosoms plead Irene's cause.
But cries and tears are vain ; prepare with patience
To meet that fate we can delay no longer.
[The Mutes at the sign lay hold of her.
Abd. Dispatch, ye ling’ring slaves; or nimbler hands,
Quick at my call, shall execute your charge;
Dispatch, and learn a fitter time for pity.
Irene. Grant me one hour, O grant me but a moment, And bounteous Heav'n repay the mighty mercy With peaceful death, and happiness eternal.
Car. The prayer I cannot grant– I dare not hear. Short be thy pains.
[Signs again to the Mutes. Irene.
Guilt and Despair, pale spectres! grin around me,
And stun me with the yellings of damnation !
O, hear my pray’rs ! accept, all-pitying Heav'n,
These tears, these pangs, these last remains of life;
Nor let the crimes of this detested day
Be charg'd upon my soul. O, mercy! mercy !
[Mutes force her out.
Safe in her death, and in Demetrius' flight,
Abdalla, bid thy troubled breast be calm.
Now shalt thou shine the darling of the Sultan,
The plot all Cali's, the detection thine.
HASAN to CARAZA.
Does not thy bosom (for I know thee tender,
A stranger to th'oppressor's savage joy,)
Melt at Irene's fate, and share her woes?
Car. Her piercing cries yet fill the loaded air,
Dwell on my ear, and sadden all my soul.
But let us try to clear our clouded brows,
And tell the horrid tale with cheerful face;
The stormy Sultan rages at our stay.
Abd. Frame your report with circumspective art :
Inflame her crimes, exalt your own obedience;
But let no thoughtless hint involve Abdalla.
Car. What need of caution to report the fate
Of her the Sultan's voice condemn'd to die?
Or why should he, whose violence of duty
Has serv'd his prince so well, demand our silence?
Abd. Perhaps my zeal too fierce betray'd my prudence;
Perhaps my warmth exceeded my commission;
Perhaps I will not stoop to plead my cause,
with the slave that sav'd Demetrius. Car. From his escape learn thou the pow'r of virtue; Nor hope his fortune, while thou want'st his worth.
Has. The Sultan comes, still gloomy, still enraged.
HASAN, CARAZA, MAHOMET, MUSTAPHA, ABDALLA.
Mah. Where's this fair trait'ress? Where's this smiling
mischief, Whom neither vows could fix, nor favours bind ?
Has. Thine orders, mighty Sultan! are perform’d, And all Irene now is breathless clay.
Mah. Your hasty zeal defrauds the claim of justice, And disappointed vengeance burns in vain. I came to heighten tortures by reproach,