Captives, The. A Tragedy - Act 2, Scene 2


Dor. Why sits the queen thus overcast with thought?
Is Majesty all plac'd in outward pomp?
Is it a Queen, to have superior cares?
And to excell in sorrows and distresses?
'Tis in your power to have superior pleasures,
And feel your self a Queen.
Ast. This mighty empire
I know I do command, and him that rules it.
That was a pleasure once, but now 'tis past!
To you alone I have disclos'd my heart.
I know you faithful.
Dor. What avails my service?
Can I redress you? can I calm your mind?
Ast. Thou know'st, Doraspe , amidst all this power,
That I'm a slave, the very worst of slaves.
The yoke of bondage, and the dungeon's horrors
Are easy suff'rings, if compar'd with mine.
I am confin'd to dwell with one I hate,
Confin'd for life to suffer nauseous love,
Like a poor mercenary prostitute.
His fondness is my torture.
Dor. Love is a pleasure for inferior minds;
Your lot is rais'd above that vulgar passion.
Ambition is the pleasure of the great,
That fills the heart, and leaves no room for love.
Think you're a Queen, enjoy your pomp, your power;
Love is the paradise of simple shepherds.
You hold a sceptre.
Ast. O insipid greatness!
She who has never lov'd, has never liv'd.
All other views are artificial pleasures
For sluggish minds incapable of love.
My soul is form'd for this sublimer passion:
My heart is temper'd for the real joy;
I sigh, I pant, I burn, I'm sick of love!
Yes, Media , I renounce thy purple honours.
Farewell the pomp, the pageantry of state,
Farewell ambition, and the lust of empire;
I've now no passion, no desire but love.
O may my eyes have power! — I ask no more.
Where stays Sophernes? Were he now before me,
My tongue should own what oft my eyes have spoke,
For love has humbled pride. — Why this intrusion?
Who call'd you here a witness to my frailties?
Away and leave me.
Dor. I obey my Queen.
Ast. Doraspe , stay. Excuse this start of passion;
My mind is torn with wishes, doubts, and fears;
I had forgot myself. — Should fortune frown,
And tear the diadem from off my brow,
Couldst thou be follower of my adverse fortune?
I think thou couldst.
Dor. If I might give that proof,
Without your sufferings, I could wish the tryal;
So firm I know my heart.
Ast. Life, like the seasons,
Is intermix'd with sun-shine days and tempests.
Prosperity has many thousand friends;
They swarm around us in our summer hours,
But vanish in the storm.
Dor. What means my Queen,
To wound her faithful servant with suspicion?
Ast. Whene'er my mind is vex'd and torn with troubles,
In thee I always find the balm of counsell:
And can I then mistrust thee? No. Doraspe ,
Suspicion ne'er with-held a thought from thee,
Thou know'st the close recesses of my heart:
And now, ev'n now I fly to thee for comfort.
Dor. How my soul longs to learn the Queen's commands!
Ast. When conquest over-power'd my father's legions.
We were made captives of the war together:
Phraortes saw me, rais'd me to his throne,
Heav'n knows with what reluctance I consented!
For my heart loath'd him. But O curs'd ambition!
I gave my self a victim to his love,
To be a Queen, the outside of a Queen.
I then was, what I'm now, a wretch at heart!
Whene'er I was condemn'd to hours of dalliance,
All Media 's gems lay glitt'ring at my feet,
To buy a smile, and bribe me to compliance.
But what 's ambition, glory, riches, empire?
The wish of misers, and old doating courtiers;
My heart is fill'd with love — — Go, my Doraspe ,
Enquire the cause that has detain'd Sophernes
From his accustom'd walk. — — I'm fix'd, determin'd,
To give up all for love. — — A life of love.
With what impatience shall I wait thy coming!
Dor. Happy Sophernes!
Ast. If you chance to meet him,
Talk of me to him, watch his words, his eyes;
Let all you say be turn'd to wake desire;
Prepare him for the happy interview,
For my heart bursts, and I must tell it all.
To what an abject state am I reduc'd?
To proffer love! Was beauty given for this?
Yes. 'Tis more gen'rous; and I'll freely give
What kneeling monarchs had implor'd in vain.
Dor. This well rewards him for an empire lost.
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