University of Virginia Library


Act I.

Scene I.

SCENE, The Sea-Port of Alexandria.
Cleomenes solus.
Dejected! no, it never shall be said,
That Fate had power upon a Spartan Soul:
My mind on its own Centre stands unmov'd,
And Stable; as the Fabrick of the World:
Propt on it self; still I am Cleomenes:
I fought the Battle bravely, which I Lost;
And lost it, but to Macedonians,
The Successors of those who Conquer'd Asia.
'Twas for a Cause too, such a Cause I fought,
Unbounded Empire hung upon my Sword:
Greece, like a lovely Heiser, stood in view,
To see the Rival Bulls each other gore:
But wish'd the Conquest mine.
I fled; and yet I languish not in Exile;


But here in Egypt, whet my Blunted Horns;
And meditate new Fights, and chew my Loss.
Ah! why ye Gods, must Cleomenes wait
On this Effeminate Luxurious Court,
For tardy helps of base Egytian Bands?
Why have not I, whose individual mind
Would ask a Nation of such Souls t'inform it,
Why have not I ten Thousand hands to fight
It all my self? and make the Work my own?

Enter Cratisiclea, Cleora, Cleonidas.
Is this well done? or like the King of Sparta?
Or like my Son? to waste your time in Tears?
What have you done, that you avoid Mankind?
And sculk in Corners like a Guilty Slave?

We have been seeking you, my dearest Lord,
Thro' all the shady Walks and dark Retreats
Of Secret Care; That false deluding Friend,
That only sooths and keeps you Company,
To prey upon your last remains of Life.

I've heard you—

Hear her still; She tells you true.
This Melancholly Flatters; but Unmans you.
What is it else, but Penury of Soul;
A Lazie Frost, a numness of the Mind;
That Locks up all the Vigour to Attempt,
By barely Crying, 'tis Impossible?

You both mistake me: That I Grieve, 'tis true:
But 'tis a Grief of Fury; not Despair!
And if a manly drop or Two fall down,
It scalds along my Cheeks, like the Green Wood
That sputtring in the Flame works outward into Tears.

Why would you leave me then, and be alone?
Indeed it was a Churlish kind of sorrow;
Indeed it was, t'engross it all your self;
And not permit me to endure my share.
Think you, because I am of tender Mould,


I cannot suffer and partake your burdens;
Alas! I suffer more by not partaking

My Wife! My Mother! O! I am so divided,
That I grieve most for both, and love both most;
Two twining Vines about this Elm, whose fall
Must shortly—Very shortly crush you both,
And yet I will not go to Ground,
Without a Noble Ruine round my Trunk;
The Forest shall be shaken when I sink,
And all the neighboring Trees
Shall groan and fall beneath my vast Destruction.

That's something yet, an earnest of an Action;
Another Groan or two, and all goes well.

Well: I will live.

Thou shalt.

I'le try at least.

Do not go back: and bate of what thou saidst

Peace, peace: good Grandmother; he lives already,
And Conquers too, in saying he will try;
Nay, if the King of Sparta says he'll do't,
I ask no more then that;
For 'tis below a King to tell a Lye.

But where's the means?

The means is in the daring;
Had my own Mother liv'd, and ask'd that Question
I should have thought my Father had begot me,
Without her help, as Pallas sprung from Jove.

Think'st thou, he can defend us all, alone?

No—for I mean to help him.

That my Boy, my hopeful Lyons Whelp

Takes him and kisses him.
So Hector hugg'd his young Astyanax;
Went out to fight and never saw him more.

But why did not Astyanax go with Hector?

Because he was a Child, and could not go.

Was he a Spartan Child?

Oh no! a Trojan.

There's it, a Trojan Child: But grant me this,
There are no Spartan-Children we are born Men,


And tho' you say, I have but Fifteen years,
We Spartans take ten Strides before our Age,
And start beyond dull Nature.

Let me but live to shadow this young Plant,
From Blites and Storms; He'll soon shoot up a Heroe:
He must; I got him in the pride of Conquest;
For coming back from my first Maiden Battle,
Wherein I made the Great Aratus fly,
And added all his Laurels to my Brow,
I well remember that I spurr'd it hard,
And like a Meteor, shot before my Troops,
To reach my Love that night; I was a Bridegroom,
Or scarce had lost that name, and stealing home,
According to my Countries modest use,
I found my Ægiatis just undrest,
Wearying the gods with Vows for my return,
My Transport was so great, I could not stay,
But kiss'd, and took her trembling in my Arms,
And in that Fury of my Love, I stampt,
This Image of my Soul.
Enter Pantheus.
What, my Pantheus?
Where hast thou been this long long Year of Hours?

Where I have past a merry Mornings Walk,
With the best Company.

With whom?

Why with my self, in laughing at the World,
Making a Farce of Life, where Knaves and Fools,
And Mad-men, that's all Human-kind were Actors.

And what part Acted you?

As little as I could: And daily would have less,
So please the Gods, for that's a Wise Man's part.

Would I could share thy Balmy, even Temper,
And Milkiness of Blood.

You may.

As how?


By! but forgetting you have been a King.

Then must I rust in Ægypt, never more
Appear in Arms, and be the Chief of Greece?
Now, by yon Blew Palace,
The Mansion of my great Fore-father Hercules
I would loose o're-agen Sellasia's Field
Rather than Fight behind, when proud Aratus led the
Græcian Van.

What, when the lively Trumpets sound a Charge,
The word of Battle may be Hercules,
And after our great Grandsires Name, Aratus
Cries Cleomenes, bring you up the Rear.

If Fortune takes not off this Boy betimes,
He'l make mad work, and Elbow all his Neighbors.

My Neighbours! Little: Elbow all the World,
And push off Kings, like Counters from the Board,
To place my self the foremost.

What wilt thou be, young Cockeril, when thy Spurs
Are grown to sharpness?

Why? I'll be a Spartan.
For if I said a King, I should say less:
I mean a Spartan while I live on Earth;
But when in Heaven, I'le stand next Hercules,
And thrust between my Father and the God.

Do you not view, my Lord?
As in a Glass, your Darling Fault, Ambition,
Reflected in your Son?

My Virtue rather:
I love to see him sparkle out betimes,
For 'twas my Flame that lighted up his Soul:
I am pleas'd with my own Work; Jove was not more
With Infant Nature, when his spatious Hand
Had rounded this huge ball of Earth, and Seas,
To give it the first push, and see it rowl
Along the vast Abyss.

My Mother would have had my Youth brought up
To Spin with Girls in Sparta.

Well said, my Boy; Yet Hercules they say
Took up the Distaff once.


Yes, when he had been Conquer'd by a Woman.

to Cleom.
One thing I had forgot, which may import you,
You'l suddainly hear news from Greece.

Thou wert
Indeed forgetful, not to tell me that,
For, from my first arrival on this Coast,
This fatal Ægypt, where I fled for Refuge,
In three long Months I have not heard from Greece.
What makes thee think I shall have news so soon?

As walking on the Beach I saw a Ship
Just entring in the Port, and on the Deck
Stood Cœnus.

Cœnus, saidst thou?

Yes, our Cœnus, the rich Messenian Lord;
I saw and knew him, but amidst the shouts
Of Mariners, and busie Care to sling
His Horses soon ashore—He saw not me.

Then I shall hear of thee once more, Dear Country;
I fear too soon; shall hear how proud Antigonus
Led o'er Eurota's Banks, Iris Conquering Troops
And first, to wondring Sparta—shew'd a King,
A King that was not Hers:
Then I shall hear of Sacriledge and Murthers,
And Fires, and Rapes on Matrons, and on Maids.

Such news we must expect.

O happy Ghosts!
Of those that fell in the last fatal Fight,
And liv'd not to survive their Countries Loss;
Base as I was—I should have fall'n there too;
But first have rais'd a Mountain of the Dead,
To choak their way to Sparta.

Thus I knew
Your Blood would boil, and therefore I delaid
So long to tell you Cœnus was arriv'd.

My Mother, my Cleora, and my Boy—
[Stroking Cleonid.
Your Ears would be polluted with such Ills;


Which I must try to mollify before
They reach your tender hearing.

I Obey you.
But let not Grief disorder you too much
For what you lost.—
For me, while I have You, and you are kind,
I ask no more of Heaven.

I go too,
Because my King and Father bids me go:
Else, I have sternness in my Soul enough
To hear of Murders, Rapes, and Sacrilege:
For those are Soldiers work; and I wou'd hear 'em
To spur me to Revenge.

[Exeunt Cratisiclea, Cleora, Cleonidas.
He's here already.
Now bear it like your self.

I am arm'd against it.

Enter Cœnus, Salutes Cleomenes.
I heard, Sir, you were refug'd in this Court,
And come to beg a favour.

Good! a Favour!
Sure, thou mistak'st me for the King of Egypt;
And think'st I govern here?

Y'are Cleomenes.

No thanks to Heaven for that: I shou'd have dy'd,
And then I had not been this Cleomenes.

You promis'd Patience, Sir.

Thou art a Scurvy Monitor, I am Patient.
Do I foam at Lips;
Or stare at Eyes: Methinks I am wondrous Patient.
Now, thou shalt see how I can swallow Gall.
I prithee, Gentle Cœnus, tell the Story.—
[Speaking Softly.
Of Ruin'd Sparta; leave no Circumstance
Untold of all their Woes: And I will hear thee,
As unconcern'd, as if thou told'st a Tale
Of ruin'd Troy. I prithee tell us how


The Victors robb'd the Shrines, polluted Temples,
Ransack'd each Wealthy House: No, spare me that,
Poor honest Sparta had no Wealth to lose.
But when thou com'st to tell of Matrons ravish'd,
Raises his Voice.
And Virgins forc'd; Then raise thy Voice,
And let me hear their Howlings,
And dreadful shrieks, as in the act of Rape.

Again you are distemper'd!

Peace, I am not.
I was but teaching him to grace his Tale
With decent Horror.

Your sick Imagination feigns all this;
Now hear a truth, and wonder!

Has not the Conqueror been at Sparta?


Nay; then I know what follows Victory.

You interrupt as if you would not know.

Then if you will Imagine, think some King,
Who lov'd his People, took a peaceful Progress
To some far distant place of his Dominions;
Smil'd on his Subjects as he rode in Triumph,
And strew'd his Plenty, wheresoe'er he pass'd.
Nay, raise your Thoughts yet higher. Think some Deity,
Some better Ceres drawn along the Sky,
By Gentle Dragons, scatter'd as she flew,
Herfruitful Grains upon the teeming Ground,
And bad new Harvests rise.

Do we Dream, Pantheus?

No sure! We are awake—but 'tis he Dreams.

The Soldiers march'd, as in Procession, slow;
And enter'd Sparta like a Choir of Priests,
As if they fear'd to tread on holy Ground.
No Noise was heard; no Voice, but of the Cryer,
Proclaiming Peace, and Liberty to Sparta;
And that a peal of loud applause rang out,
And thin'd the Air, till even the Birds fell down
Upon the Shouters Heads: The Shops flew open,
And all the busie Trades renew'd their Tasks:


No Law was chang'd, no Custom was controul'd;
That had Lycurgus liv'd, or you return'd,
So Sparta would have shown.

If this be true!

If this indeed be true,
Then farewell Sparta.

Hear me out.
He reap'd no fruit of Conquest, but their Blessings;
Nor stay'd three Days in Sparta; Summon'd thence,
With sudden News that a Barbarian Host,
Was enter'd Macedonia!
And like a Mighty Deluge, rowling on,
Swept all before 'em. Thus alarm'd, he left us;
March'd Homeward; Met and Fought 'em; Nay, and Liv'd
To say the Field is mine.

Dy'd of his Wounds?

Not so; but straining loud his feeble Voice,
To animate his Soldiers, broke a Vein;
And in a purple Vomit pour'd his Soul.

O Bless'd! Bless'd Cœnus! for this happy News.

Embraces Cœnus.
O Wretch! O Born to all misfortunes! Curst,
Curst Cleomenes!

How's this! Are these the thanks you pay the Gods?
Who freed your Sparta, and remov'd by Death
Your only fatal Foe!

O Blind Pantheus!
Can'st thou not find, that had I but defer'd
Sellasia's Fight three Days; but three short Days:
Fate then had fought my Battle with Antigonus;
And I not fighting had been still a King.

That's true; but that you knew not when you fought.

Why therefore, once again, Curst Cleomenes!
'Tis not to be endur'd.
That Fate of Empires, and the fall of Kings
Should turn on flying Hours, and Catch of Moments.

Now, by my Soul, 'tis Lazy Wickedness,
To rail at Heaven, and not to help your self.
Heaven's but too kind, in offring you the means:


Your Fate, once more, is laid upon the Anvil:
Now pluck up all the Spartan in your Soul;
Now stretch at every stroke and Hammer out,
A new and nobler Fortune;
Else may the Peaceful Ground restore the Dead,
And give up Old Antigonus again.

I thank thee: Thou hast added Flame to Fury.
The Spartan Genius shall once more be rowz'd;
Our Houshold Gods, that droop upon our Hearths,
Each from his Venerable Face shall brush
The Macedonian Soot, and shine again.

Now you confess the Spartan.

Haste, Pantheus!
I struggle like the Priestess with a God;
With that oppressing God, that works her Soul.
Haste to Cleanthes, my Egyptian Friend;
That only Man that Egypt ever made:
He's my Lucina. Say my Friendship wants him
To help me bring to light a Manly Birth;
Which to the wondring World I shall disclose,
Or if he fail me, perish in my Throwes.

[Ex. Omnes.