Captives, The. A Tragedy - Act 3, Scene 8


Phraortes. Astarbe.

Phra. Welcome, my Queen; how my heart springs to meet thee
Each day, each hour, thy beauty grows upon me,
Ev'n while I gaze some undiscover'd charm
Opens it self, and wounds my heart anew.
Rejoyce, Astarbe ; Media is deliver'd:
The gathering storm that threaten'd desolation
Is over-blown, and all is now serene.
Then let us give our future days to pleasure;
My ev'ry pleasure is compris'd in thee.
Ast. Be firm in justice, nor give way to mercy,
'Tis the mind's frailty, and the nurse of crimes.
Punish. And root out treason from the land.
Phra. Sophernes was their chief.
Ast. Ungrateful villain!
Phra. How he deceiv'd me!
Ast. Your too easy nature
Must always harbour mischiefs in your empire.
Does he still live?
Phra. His death is fix'd and sign'd.
Ast. Each hour he lives, your people doubt your justice.
Would you deter the populace from crimes,
Let punishment be sudden. That 's true mercy.
Phra. He never shall behold another Sun.
But why should cares of state intrude upon us?
Ast. Why this reproof? In what have I deserv'd it?
All my concern was for the peace of Media ,
And for your safety. I have said too much.
Phra. What has Astarbe ask'd, that I refus'd?
Thy beauty has all power. Who waits without?
Go; let the Captives be dismiss'd the palace,
The King resigns his privilege of choice.
Should the selected beauties of the world
In full temptation stand before my presence,
Still would my heart and eye be fixt on thee.
Thy charms would (like the Sun's all-powerful rays)
Make all those little stars of beauty fade.
Why that dejected look? that thoughtful sigh?
In what have I offended? If to love,
Be to offend; Phraortes is most wretched.
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