Captives, The. A Tragedy - Act 3, Scene 2


Ara. Make room; The Persian Prince attends his sentence.
Phra. Most noble Prince, I grieve that you were injur'd.
When foul conspiracy molests a state
The ear of Kings is open to suspicion,
And we grow jealous of our bosom friends.
When calumny would blast a virtuous man,
And justice has made clear his innocence;
It only throws a brighter lustre on him,
And serves to make his virtues more conspicuous.
Approach the throne; and let the King's embrace
Make some attonement for your shameful bonds.
I feel your suff'rings, and my heart grows fonder.
Now bring the pris'ners to receive their sentence.
Justice cries loud for vengeance on your crimes.
Say, have ye ought to plead to ward the blow,
Ere I enroll your names among the dead?
Hyd. That I design'd to bath these hands in blood,
Even in thy blood, O King, I dare confess,
And glory in th' attempt. I know thy power;
I know that death with all his dreadful tortures
Stands ready at thy nod. Give then the signal,
For I unmov'd can face the ghastly terror.
How is thy wisdom foil'd! Prepare to follow.
Think not with us our enterprize is lost.
A King shall bleed to pacifie our ghosts.
Come, lead to death. Spend all thy wrath on us.
The raging tyger bites the shaft that wounds him,
And spares the man who threw it. I have done.
Phra. These are the starts and ravings of despair.
Think'st thou by threats to force me into mercy?
Hyd. I grow impatient; lead me to my fate.
Phra. Know you that I have life within my power?
Hyd. I know the utmost of thy power is death.
Mag. Ye Gods avert his words, and save the King!
Phra. What said he? Speak again.
Hyd. Death is my choice.
Phra. I will be satisfy'd.
Hyd. I've said too much.
Phra. Say more, or torture shall extort it from you.
Hyd. Let torture do its worst. You dare not try it.
Mag. If memory can recal the solemn speech.
These were his very words,
A King shall bleed to pacifie our ghosts.
The raging tyger bites the shaft that wounds him,
But spares the man who threw it. Was it thus?
Hyd. Now let your wisdom fathom this deep secret.
I answer no more questions.
Phra. Reverend fathers,
What may these words portend? Expound the mystery.
Mag. Thy sacred life, O King, is still in danger.
While justice pours down vengeance on these wretches,
These mean subservient instruments of mischief,
Their leader scapes, and lives for future crimes.
Hyd. Go on.
Mag. The words imply no more.
Hyd. 'Tis well.
All 's safe. — I'm ready. — Why is death delay'd?
Phra. Thus speaks the voice of Mercy from my lips.
Th' irrevocable sentence is not sign'd,
And still there 's room for hope. Attend, and live:
By this bright sceptre, by the throne of Media ,
By yon great light that rules the rolling year,
If you lay ope the depth of this foul treason,
And point me out that undetected villain,
I swear, to grant you life and liberty.
Speak now, or death shall seal your lips for ever.
Hyd. The royal word is giv'n, and I accept it.
The King shall live, and all his foes shall perish.
Danger stands near the throne. How blind is Justice!
The Persian Prince!
Phra. Sophernes!
Hyd. He 's a traytor.
'Twas he that put the dagger in my hand.
So. Now I have betray'd. O love of life!
Where was my resolution? I'm a coward;
And cowards can endure a life of shame.
Phra. Sophernes! — Let strong proof confirm your charge,
I must have proof.
Hyd. Call in my fellow-prisoners.
Soph. What can set bounds to man's impiety,
And where is virtue safe? Accus'd thus falsely,
With all the strongest circumstance of guilt,
By one I know not! Heav'n has then determin'd
That I must fall. Shall man contest with Jove?
'Tis all in vain. The will of Fate be done.
Hyd. Those who accus'd us, brib'd with Persian gold,
Conceal'd the author of our enterprize.
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