University of Virginia Library


Act III.

Scene I.

SCENE, The King's Apartment.
A Table set.—Ptolomey, Sosybius, Cassandra, sitting: Ptolomy at the Upper end; Cassandra on one side, Sosybius on the other.
I must confess 'twas Obvious.

He said he could Command 'em with his Nod:
Can he do this with Mercenaries, rais'd
Not at his Charge, but yours? by you maintain'd:
What could he more, had they been Spartans born?

What would you hence infer?

What you observ'd?
Some are born Kings; and so is Cleomenes.

A great Soul dares not call himself a Villain:
He has that Interest, and will use it nobly;
To serve, and not to ruine his Protector,

Is Ægypt's safety, and the Kings, and Yours,
Fit to be trusted on a bare suppose,
That he is Honest? Honest, let him be;
But on his own Experiment, not ours!
Man is but Man; Unconstant still, and Various;
There's no to Morrow in him, like to Day.
Perhaps the Atoms rowling in his Brain,
Make him think Honestly this present Hour;
The next a Swarm of Base, Ungrateful Thoughts
May mount aloft: And where's our Ægypt then?
Who would trust Chance? since all Men have the Seeds
Of Good and Ill, which should work upward first.

All men! then you are one; and by that Rule,
Your wicked Atomes may be working now
To give bad Council; That you still may Govern.

I would the King would Govern.

Because you think I have too much Command.

Would you would rule me both by turns, in quiet,
And let me take my Ease!


Then my turns first.

Our Masters Safety in sound reason ought
To be prefer'd to both.

So thinks Cassandra too.

No; Court Sosybius, and cast Cassandra off.

What have I said, or done,
To merit this unkindness?
Tell me but what you think of Cleomenes,
And be my Oracle.

I know him Grateful.

To know him grateful, is enough for Jove.

And therefore not too much for me in Ægypt:
I say, I know him Honest.

Then I know it.
Now may Sosybius speak?

He may: but not to contradict my knowledge.

Then I concur, to let him go for Greece;
And wish our Ægypt fairly rid of him.
For, as our Apis, tho' in Temples fed,
And under Golden Roofs, yet loaths his food,
Because restrain'd; and longs to roam in Meads,
Among the Milky-Mothers of the Herd.
So, Cleomenes, kept by force in Ægypt,
Is sullen at our Feasts; abhors our Dainties;
And longs to change 'em for his Spartan Broth.
He may be dang'rous here; Then send him hence,
With aid enough to Conquer all he lost,
And make him formidable to Mankind.

He may be formidable then to us,
That thou wou'dst say.

No: for you know him grateful.

Would thou wouldst learn to speak without a double,
Thou Delphian Statesman.

Would I could know your Wishes that I might:
I would but smooth their way and make em 'easy!

Good Old Man!
A little over Zealous, but well-meaning.
My Wishes are the honour of my King.
That Ptolomy may keep his Royal word,


And I my promise to procure this Aid;
If to be Mistriss, signifies Command,
Let this be done: If not, the King may find,
Another Beauty, worthier of his Bed;
And I another Lover, less ungrateful:

Let Ægypt sink before that fatal day;
No, we are one: Cassandra, we are one:
Or I am nothing? Thou art Ptolomy.

Now you deserve to be the first of Kings,
Because you rank your self the first of Lovers:
What can I do to show Cassandra grateful?
Nothing but this;
To be so nice in my Concerns for you:
To doubt where Doubts are not: To be too fearful:
To raise a Bug-bear Shadow of a Danger,
And then be frighted, tho' it cannot reach you.

Be pleas'd to name your apprehensions, Madam.

Plain Souls like mine, judge others by themselves:
Therefore I hold our Cleomenes honest:
But since 'tis possible: Tho' barely so,
That he may prove ungrateful,
I would have pledges given us of his Faith,
His Wife, his Mother, and his Son, be left
As Hostages in Ægypt.

Some God inspir'd you with this prudent Council.

I thought so too, but that I durst not speak.

Leave me to manage this.

My best Sosybius!
But do it surely, by the easiest means,
Infuse it gently: Do not pour it down;
Let him not think he stands suspected here;
And least of all, by Me!

He shall not, Madam.
Now Sir, th'Illumination-Feast attends you:
For Apis has appear'd,

Why then I must be formal,
Go to the Temple.


Come my fair Cassandra,
That I may have an Object worth my Worship.

The God that I Adore is in my Breast;
This is the Tomple: This is the Sacrifice:
But to the Pow'rs Divine we make Appeal,
with great Devotion; and with little Zeal.

[Exeunt Ptol, and Cassand.
Yes yes, it shall be done; but not her way:
Call in my Son Cleanthes: This Cassandra
Is our enchanting Syren: She that Sings
Our Ptolomy into secure Destruction:
In vain I Counsel him t'avoid his Ruine:
These Women-Charmers, Oh they have a Devil
Too strong to dispossess. Call in my Son.
[Goes to the Door.
Enter Cleanthes.
Cleanthes! Are you Cleomenes's Friend,
Or only seem you such?

To seem to be, and not to be what I seem,
Are things my honest Nature understands not.

But you must love your King and Country more.

Yes, when I have a King and Country
That can deserve my Love!
Ægypt, as Ægypt is, deserves it not:
A People, baser than the Beasts they worship:
Below their Pot-herb-gods that grow in Gardens:
The King—

Go to; Young Man, what e'er he be,
I must not hear my Master vilify'd.

Why did you name him then? Were I at Pray'rs,
And even for you, whom as my Soul I love,
If Ptolomy should come a Cross my Thoughts,
A Curse would follow where I meant a Blessing.

'Tis well, tis well, I am so fond a Father;
Those words were death in any other Mouth;
I know too much of you, you love the Spartan,
Beyond your King and Country.


'Tis a Truth;
So Noble; I would own it to the Gods,
And they be proud to hear it,

Confess you love him better than your Father.

No; but I love him equal with my Father.

Say better, and say true:
If we were opposite, and one must fall,
Whom wouldst thou Save?

Neither; For both would dye:
Before I could resolve.

If I command thee,
To break thy Friendship with him? Wouldst thou?


Why then thou hast confess'd, thou lov'st him more.

Not so: For should he bid me disobey,
Or not love you: Thus, would I answer him,
As I have answer'd you.

Ungrateful Boy!

You bid me tell you true, and this is my reward.

Go from my Sight.

I will; but would not go
Without your Blessing.

O, so well I love thee,
That I could Curse thee for not loving me:
Stay, I would send thee on a Message to him,
But that I fear thy Faith.

You wrong my Piety.

It much concerns my Interest, which is thine;
Would'st thou deliver what I have to say?
Would'st thou induce his Reason to comply?

Both; Granting your Proposals Honourable;
If not, employ some Mercenary Tongue,
The Court affords you store: And spare my Virtue!

I would have Cleomenes sent away,
With Royal Aid.

You promis'd him he should.

And would have thee perswade him to this Voyage.

A welcome Errand: Oh my dear, dear Father.


But on my terms, mark that; my terms; Cleanthes.

I fear'd the Statesman in you.

I would have Ægypt safe: That's all my Interest;
And therefore he must leave behind for Pawns,
His Mother, Wife and Son.

'Tis clogging of a Gift: 'Tis base, mean Council;
I hope you gave it not.

No: 'Twas Cassandra!
But she would have that Odium cast on me,
I am her Beast of Burden and must bear it.

I never can belye so good a Father!
But this I'll do:
The Message shall be faithfully deliver'd,
And all the Strumpet stand expos'd to shame.

Thou hitst my meaning; but he must be secret;
Must seem to take the Favour as from Her:
And lay the hardship of the Terms on me.

He shall.

And thou wilt Gild this bitter Pill:
For there's no other way to go from hence,
But leaving these behind.

A Beam of Thought comes glancing on my Soul.
I'll undertake it
To his Father.
The Pledges shall be left.

My best Cleanthes:
[Embraces him.
But haste, and lose no time!

I am all on fire to serve my Friend and Father.
Ex. Cleanthes.

This Cleomenes ought to be dispatch'd:
Dispatch'd the safest way: He ought to dye;
Not, that I hate his Virtue; but I fear it:
The Mistriss drives my Councils to the Leeward;
Now I must edge upon a point of Wind;
And make slow way, recovering more and more,
Till I can bring my Vessel safe ashore.
Exit. Sosyb.


SCENE of a Temple with Illuminations. An Altar, Apis painted above; Priests and Choristers. Ptolomy, Cassandra, Courtiers Men and Women, all decently plac'd. Musick Instrumental and Vocal. Then Ptolomy taking Cassandra by the Hand, advances to the Altar of Apis, bowing thrice, and gives the High Priest a Purse. Soft Musick all the while Ptolomy and Cassandra are Adoring and speaking.
Soul of the Universe, and source of Life,
Immortal Apis, thou thrice Holy Fire,
Hear Ægypt's Vows and mine: if as we dream,
Ægyptian Earth Impregnated with Flame,
Sprung the first man;
Preserve thy Primitive Plantation here.
Then for my self, thy Type, and thy Vicegerent,
Rowl from my Loins a long Descent of Kings:
Mix'd of Cassandra's kindly blood and mine.
Mine be she only, and I only hers.
And when I shall resolve again to thee,
May she survive me, and be Queen of Ægypt:
Hear this, and firm it with some happy Omen.

[An Augury portending good Success arises from the Altar.
Apis be prais'd for this Auspicious Omen.

[Ptolo. bowing retires and seems pleas'd.
Great pow'r of Love! who spreadst thy gentle sire
Thro' humane Hearts, art every where Ador'd;
Accept these Vows, in shew to Apis paid,
And make his Altar thine: Hear not that wretch!
Because his Prayers were not address'd to thee;
Or only hear his last: that I may reign.
Make Cleomenes mine, and mine alone:
Give us a flight secure, a safe arrival;
And Crown our Wishes in each others Arms.
Hear this and firm it with some happy Omen.

[A bad Omen arises from the Flames of the Altar.
Avert this Omen, Apis.


Accurs'd be thou, Grass-eating fodder'd God!
Accurs'd thy Temple! more accurs'd thy Priests!
The Gods are theirs, not ours; and when we pray
For happy Omens, We their price must pay:
In vain at Shrines, th'ungiving suppliant stands;
This 'tis to make a Vow with Empty hands:
Fat Offrings are the Priesthoods only care;
They take the Money, and Heaven hears the Prayer.
Without a Bribe their Oracles are mute,
And their Instructed Gods refuse the suit.

[Exit Cass. in a fury, King and Attendants follow. Scene closes.
SCENE, The Port of Alexandria.
Enter Cleomenes, and Cleanthes.
The Propositions are unjust and hard;
And if I swallow 'em, 'Tis as we take
The Wrath of Heaven.
We must have patience, for they will be Gods,
And give us no account of what we suffer.

My Father much abhors this middle way,
Betwixt a Gift and Sale of Courtesy:
But 'tis the Mistress; She that seem'd so kind,
'Tis she, that bears so hard a hand upon you:
She that would half Oblige, and half Affront.

Let her be what she is: That's Curse enough.
But such a Wife, a Mother, and a Son!
Oh sure, ye Gods! when ye made this vile Ægypt:
Ye little thought, they should be Mortgag'd here!
My only Comfort
Is, that I trust these precious Pawns with thee:
For thou art so religiously a Friend,
That I would sooner leave 'em in thy hands,
That if I had security from Heav'n,
And all the Gods to answer for their safety.


Yes, yes; They shall be safe;
And thou shalt have a pledge,
As strong as Friendship can make over to thee:
Deny me not, for I must go with thee,
And share what Fate allots for thee in Greece.
[Cleomenes looks discontentedly.
Nay cast not on me that forbidding frown;
But let me be their pawn, as they are thine:
So I shall have thee wholly to my self.
And be thy Wife, thy Mother, and thy Son,
As thou art all to me.

Oh Friend!

[Sighs and wipes his Eyes.
What wouldst thou say, my better part?

No more, but this; That thou art too unkind,
When even in kindness thou wouldst over-come.

Let me be proud; and pardon thou my Pride;
Base, Worthless Ægypt has no other Pawn,
To Counter-ballance these but only me.
'Twas on such terms alone, I durst propose it:
Shalt thou leave these?
And I not leave a Father, whom I love?
Come, come; It must be so.
We'll give each other all we have besides;
And then we shall be even. Here they are!
I leave thee. Break those tender Ties of Nature,
As gently as thou canst; they must be broken.
[Going returns.
But when thou seest Cassandra, curb thy Spleen;
Seem to receive the kindness as from her:
And if thou thinkst I love thee, for my sake,
Remembring me; strive to forget my Father.
[Exit Cleanth.

Enter Cleora, Cratisiclea, and Cleonidas.
But how can I sustain to tell 'em this,
Walking from 'em.
Even in the gentlest Terms.
There are not words in any Tongue so soft
As I would use: The Gods must make a new one,
If they would have me speak.


How King of Sparta! When your Fortune smiles,
A Glorious Sun-shine, and a Gloomy Soul.
The Gods love chearfullness, when they are kind;
They think their Gifts despis'd, and thrown away
On sullen thankless Hearts.

I hear my dearest Lord that we shall go.


What a mournful Eccho makes my Father!
By Mars, he stifles Go upon his Tongue;
And kills the joyful sound, he speaks so low,
That Heaven must Listen if it hear his thanks.

Yes, I shall go; but how?

With Ægypt's aid.

With his own Soul and Sword, a Thousand strong;
And worth ten Ægypts, and their ten Thousand Gods.

There's something more in this, than what we guess!
Some Secret anguish rowls within his Breast,
That shakes him like an Earthquake, which he presses,
And will not give it vent. I know him well,
He Blushes, and would speak, and wants a Voice!
And stares and Gapes like a forbidden Ghost,
Till he be spoke to first.—Tell me my Son!

Mother, I will,—And yet I cannot neither.
Mother! that word has struck me dumb again:
For, how can I say Mother, and propound
To leave her here behind, who gave me Life?
Mother! and Wife! and Son! the names that Nature
Most Loves to speak, are banish'd from my Mouth.

Tell us, My Love, the King has chang'd his mind,
And has refus'd us leave; for we can bear it:
Ægypt is Greece to me, while you are here.

Oh I would speak! But, Oh! you speak so kindly,
That you forbid my Speech: You call me, Love.

Was that too kind a Word?

It was to me; I am a meer Barbarian;
A Brute, a stock, for I have no Relations,
Or shortly shall have none.

Then we must die!


We must: and welcome Death.

To save his Life.

The Gods forbid that you should dye for me!
No: You may live; but I must dye thrice over:
For I must leave you here, or must not go:
These are the hard Conditions offer'd me.

Then Ægypt would have Pledges: Is this all?

Yes, and a mighty All: 'Tis all I have:
But I propose it not; Remember that.

I do: and therefore I propose it first,
To save this virtuous Shame, this good Confusion,
That would not let you speak.

Oh! I could almost think you love me not:
You Granted me so quick, so willingly:
What I—bear witness Heaven, was slow to ask.
And would be loath to have.

I cannot leave you.

I was but wishing, thou wouldst draw me back,
And now I cannot go.

Are you turn'd Woman?
No more of this fond Stuff;

Shall I be left to gather Rust in Ægypt?
A Glue of Sloth to stick to my young Pinions;
And marr their flight; Habitual Cowardise:
No; I must learn my stubborn Trade of War,
From you alone, and envy you betimes.

But the Conditions! Oh these hard Conditions,
That such a Spirit must be left behind,
Untaught! unfashion'd by a Fathers hands!
A Spirit fit to start into an Empire,
And look the World to Law.

No more debating, for I see the pinch,
He must be left, and so must She and I:
For we are but your softnesses, My Son:
Th'Incumbrances and Luggage of the War:
Fight for us, and redeem us, if you please;
For there we are your clogs of Virtue: Here,
The Spurs of your return.


I Thank you, Mother,
Once more you have Erected me to Man,
And set me upright with my Face to Heaven!
The Woman and the Boy, be yours awhile:
The War be mine alone!

There spoke the Spartan King: Think not on us.

I wonnot.

Not in Pray'rs!

In Pray'rs! That's poor,
As if the Gods were Thoughtless of their work;
Think on us, when you fight: and when you make
A lusty stroke, Cry out, That's for my Boy.

Dispose this mouldring Carcass as you please,
E're lingring Age or Sickness wear it out;
Unprofitable then for Sparta's good:
Be cheerful, fight it well, and all the rest,
Leave to the Gods and Fortune.

If they fail me,
Theirs be the Fault, For Fate is theirs alone:
My Virtue, Fame, and Honour are my own.

Exeunt omnes.