Captives, The. A Tragedy - Act 5, Scene 6


Phra. Again we must defer the solemn worship.
Bid the procession move towards the Temple:
And let th' offender stand before the presence.
Ast. Sophernes has expos'd me to this woman;
And while she lives, I live in fear and shame.
Shall she then triumph in a Queen's disgrace?
Cyl. Most gracious King, consider my transgression.
My life is forfeit; justice has condemn'd me.
I broke th' inviolable laws of Media .
Yet let Phraortes with impartial scale
Weigh my offence; he'll find my crime was virtue.
Sure Heaven that trys the heart will pardon me.
And Kings, who imitate the Gods in justice.
Should not forsake them in the paths of mercy.
Phra. Have not thy lying lips deceiv'd the King?
How shall thy words find faith! They're air, they're nothing!
Cyl. O be not rash in judgment! Hear me speak,
What mov'd my tongue to practice this deceit?
Was it ambition and the lust of power?
Was it to vex your empire with rebellion?
Was it the meaner views of sordid gain?
Was it to hurt the lowest of your people?
All my offence is faithful love and duty:
Sophernes is my husband, and I sav'd him.
Phra. Thy husband!
Ast. Hear her not: woman, away.
Remember you have sworn.
Phra. Thy husband, say'st thou?
Ast. Think on your oath, and spurn dissimulation.
Phra. Am I debarr'd the chief delight of Kings?
Have I the power to punish; not to pardon?
But I have sworn.
Cyl. If there's no room for mercy
My life is well bestow'd. My death is glorious;
I chose it: and repine not at my fate.
Ast. Turn from her. Listen not to fraud and guile.
Cyl. Think not I shudder at th' approach of death,
That the keen sword which glitters in my eyes
Makes my heart fail, and sinks me to despair.
I fear not for my self; for him I fear.
How will he bear my death? — As I could his.
Phra. Why have I bound the tender hands of mercy?
Ast. You but delay. The royal oath is sacred.
Cyl. Well then. Lead on. His punishment is mine.
Live, live, Sophernes , and forget Cylene ;
Lest grief destroy thy peace, and make thee wretched.
I'm ready.
Phra. How shall I pronounce the sentence!
Ast. For your oath's sake.
Phra. 'Tis granted. Let her dye.
But let me first perform my due devotions.
To beg that mercy which I must refuse.
As soon as I have paid my solemn vows,
I'll make the sign. Then let the blow be given.
See all be ready. Now renew the rites.
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