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What sleepy charms benumb these active herces,
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.
We come, bright Virgin, though relenting Nature
Shrinks at the hated task, for thy destruction ;
When summon’d 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 his thund'ring voice return'd, Irene.
Whence is this rage?
barb'rous tongue wrong'd me? What fraud misleads him? or what crimes incense ?
Expiring Cali nam'd Irene's chamber,
The place appointed for his master's death.
Irene's chamber! From
faithful bosom Far be the thought-But hear my protestation.
CARAZA. '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.
Some ill-designing statesman'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 pow'r 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.
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.
Is then your sov'reign's life so cheaply rated,
Thạt thus you parley 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.
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.
I mark'd her wily messenger afar,
And saw hrim skulking in the closest walks :
I guess'd her dark designs, and warn'd the Sultan,
And bring her former sentence new confirm'd.
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.
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.
Couid 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.
Dispatch, ye ling'ring slaves; or nimbler hands, Quick at my call, shall execute your charge ; Dispatch, and learn a fitter time for pity,
Grant me one hour, O grant me but a moment, And bounteous Heav'n repay the mighty mercy With peaceful death, and happiness eternal.
The prayer I cannot grant—I dare not hear. Short bé thy pains. [Signs again to the Mutes.
Unutterable anguish! Guilt and Despair, pale spectres ! grin around me And stun me with the yellings of damnation ! O, hear my prayers ! 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.
ABDALLA, HASAN, CARAZA.
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?
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.
Frame your report with circumspective art ;
Inflame her crimes, exalt your own obedience ;
But let no thoughtless hint involve Abdalla.
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, demnand our silence?
Perhaps my zeal too fierce betray'd my prudence;
Perhaps my warmth exceeded
commission ; Perhaps I will not stoop to plead my cause, Or argue with the slave that sav'd Demetrius,
escape learn thou the pow'r of virtue ; Nor hope his fortune, while thou want'st his worth.
The Sultan comes, still. gloomy, still enrag'd.
HASAN, CARAZA, MAHOMET, MUSTAPHA,
MAHOMET. Where's this fair trait’ress? Where's this smiling
mischief, Whom neither vows could fix, nor favours bind ?
Thine orders, mighty Sultan! are perform'd,
And all Irene now is breathless clay.