« AnteriorContinuar »
DEMETRIUS and LEONTIUS, in Turkish habits.
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?
Till breathless fury rested from destruction,
These groans were fatal, these disguises vain : i
But, now our Turkish conquerors have quench'd
Their rage, and palļd their appetite of murder,
No more the glutted sabre thirsts for blood;
And weary cruelty remits her tortures.
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 degen'rate man!
Urg'd by th’imperious soldiers' fierce command,
The groaning Greeks break up their golden caverns,
Pregnant with stores, that India's mines might envy,
Th' accumulated wealth of toiling ages.
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 reserv'd 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.
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 villany, too strong for justice,
Shows his bold front, the harbinger of ruin,
Can brave 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 despatch the messengers of light,
Or wake the dead, to warn us of its fall ?
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.
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 sbook our nerves, 'twas vice, Leontius,
That froze our veins, and wither'd all our pow'rs.
Whate'er our 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-
-How chang'd, alas !Now ghastly desolation,
In triumph, sits upon our shatter'd spires ;
Now superstition, ignorance, and errour,
Usurp our temples, and profane our altars.
From ev'ry palace bursts a mingled clamour,
The dreadful dissonance of barb'rous triumph,
Shrièks 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.
Aspasia (spare that lov'd, that mournful name:
Dear, hapless maid-tempestuous grief o'erbears
My reasoning pow'rs—Dear, hapless, lost Aspasia!.
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!
Awake, Demetrius, from this dismal dream;
Sink not beneath imaginary sorrows;
Call to your aid your courage and your wisdom;
Think on the sudden change of human scenes;
Think on the various accidents of war;
Think on the mighty pow'r of awful virtue;
Think on that providence that guards the good.
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.
Some virgin martyr,
Perhaps, enamour'd of resembling virtue,
With gentle hand, restrain'd the streams of life,
And snatch'd her timely from her country's fate.
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 come 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 resery'd ?
To what I know not:
But hope, yet hope, to happiness and honour;
If happiness can be, without Aspasia.
But whence this new-sprung hope ?
From Cali bassa, The chief, whose wisdom guides the Turkish counsels. He, tir'd of slav'ry, though the highest slave, Projects, at once, our freedom and his own; And bids us, thus disguis'd, await him here.
Can he restore the state he could not save ?
In vain, when Turkey's troops assail'd our walls,
His kind intelligence betray'd their measures ;
Their arms prevail'd, though Cali was our friend.
When the th sun had set upon our sorrows,
At midnight's private hour, a voice unknown
Sounds in my sleeping ear, · Awake, Demetrius,
Awake, and follow me to better fortunes.'
Surpris’d I start, and bless the happy dream ;
Then, rousing, know the fiery chief Abdalla,
Whose quick impatience seiz'd my doubtful hand,
And led me to the shore where Cali stood,
Pensive, and list'ning to the beating surge.
There, in soft hints, and in ambiguous phrase,
With all the diffidence of long experience,