1.5.2. SCENE II.
Scipio! more welcome than my tongue can ſpeak!
Oh greatly, dearly welcome!
My heart beats back thy joy.—A happy friend,
With laurel green, with conqueſt crown'd, and glory;
Rais'd by his prudence, fortitude, and valour,
O'er all his foes; and on his native throne,
Amidſt his reſcu'd ſhouting ſubjects, ſet:
Say, can the gods in laviſh bounty give
A ſight more pleaſing?
My great friend! and patron!
It was thy timely thy reſtoring arm,
That brought me from the fearful deſart-life;
To live again in ſtate, and purple ſplendor.
And now I wield the ſceptre of my fathers,
See my dear people from the tyrant's ſcourge,
From Syphax freed; I hear their glad applauſes;
And, to compleat my happineſs, have gain'd
A friend worth all. O gratitude, eſteem,
And love like mine, with what divine delight
Ye fill the heart!
Heroic youth! thy virtue
Has earn'd whate'er thy fortune can beſtow.
It was thy patience, Maſiniſſa, patience,
A champion clad in ſteel, that in the waſte
Attended ſtill thy ſtep, and ſav'd my friend
For better days. What cannot patience do?
A great deſign is ſeldom ſnatch'd at once;
'Tis patience heaves it on. From ſavage nature,
'Tis patience that has built up human life,
The nurſe of arts! and Rome exalts her head
An everlaſting monument of patience.
If I have that, or any virtue, Scipio,
'Tis copy'd all from thee.
'Tis all unborrow'd, the ſpontaneous growth
Of nature in thy breaſt.—Friendſhip for once
Muſt, tho' thou bluſheſt, wear a liberal tongue;
Muſt tell thee, noble youth, that long experience,
In councils, battles, many a hard event,
Has found thee ſtill ſo conſtant, ſo ſincere,
So wiſe, ſo brave, ſo generous, ſo humane,
So well attemper'd, and ſo fitly turn'd
For what is either great or good in life,
As caſts diſtinguiſh'd honour on thy country;
And cannot but endear thee to the Romans.
For me, I think my labours all repaid,
My wars in Afric. Maſiniſſa's friendſhip
Smiles at my ſoul. Be that my deareſt triumph,
To have aſſiſted thy forlorn eſtate,
And lent a happy hand in raiſing thee
To thy paternal throne, uſurp'd by Syphax.
The greateſt ſervice could be done my country,
Diſtracted Afric, and Mankind in general,
Was aiding ſure thy cauſe. To put the power,
The public power, into the good man's hand,
Is giving plenty, life, and joy to millions.
But has my friend, ſince late we parted armies;
Since he with Laelius acted ſuch a brave,
Auſpicious part againſt the common foe;
Has he been blameleſs quite? has he conſider'd,
How pleaſure often on the youthful heart,
Beneath the roſy ſoft diſguiſe of love;
(All ſweetneſs, ſmiles, and ſeeming innocence)
Steals unperceiv'd, and lays the victor low?
I would not, cannot, put thee to the pain—
—It pains me deeper—of the leaſt reproach.—
Let thy too faithful memory ſupply
Thy ſilence, that dejected look,
That honeſt colour fluſhing o'er thy cheek,
Impart thy better ſoul.
Oh my good lord!
Oh Scipio! Love has ſeiz'd me, tyrant love
Inthralls my ſoul. I am undone by love!
And art thou then to ruin reconcil'd?
Tam'd to deſtruction? Wilt thou be undone?
Reſign the towering thought? the vaſt deſign,
With future glories big? the warriour's wreathe?
The glittering files? the trumpets ſprightly clang?
The praiſe of ſenates? an applauding world?
The patriot's ſtatue, and the heroes triumph?
All for a ſigh? all for a ſoft embrace?
For a gay tranſient fancy, Maſiniſſa?
For ſhame, my friend! for honour's ſake, for glory!
Sit not with folded arms, deſpairing, weak,
And careleſs all, till certain ruin comes:
Like a ſick virgin ſighing to the gale,
How chang'd indeed!
The time has been, when, fir'd from Scipio's tongue,
My ſoul had mounted in a flame with his.—
Where is ambition flown? Hopeleſs attempt!
Can love like mine be quell'd? Can I forget
What ſtill poſſeſſes, charms my thoughts for ever
Throw ſcornful from me what I hold moſt dear?
Not feel the force of excellence? To joy
Be dead? And undelighted with delight?
Soft, let me think a moment—no! no! no!—
I am unequal to thy virtue, Scipio!
Fie, Maſiniſſa, fie! By heavens! I bluſh
At thy dejection, this degenerate language.
What! periſh for a woman! Ruin all,
All the fair deeds which an admiring world
Hopes from thy riſing day; only to ſooth
A ſtubborn fancy, a luxurious will?
How muſt it, think you, ſound in future ſtory?
Young Maſiniſſa was a virtuous prince,
And Afric ſmil'd beneath his early ray;
But that a Carthaginian captive came,
By whom untimely in the common fate
Of love he fell. The wiſe will ſcorn the page.
And all thy praiſe be ſome fond maid exclaiming,
Where are thoſe lovers now?—O rather, rather,
Had I ne'er ſeen the vital light of heaven,
Than like the vulgar live, and like them die!
Ambition ſickens at the very thought.—
To puff, and buſtle here from day to day,
Loſt in the paſſions of inglorious life,
Joys which the careleſs brutes poſſeſs above us.
And when ſome years, each duller than another,
Are thus elaps'd, in nauſeous pangs to die;
And paſs away, like thoſe forgotten things,
That ſoon become as they had never been.
And am I dead to this?
The gods, young man,
Who train up heroes in misfortune's ſchool,
Have ſhook thee with adverſity, with each
Illuſtrious evil, that can raiſe, expand,
And fortify the mind. Thy rooted worth
Has ſtood theſe wintry blaſts, grown ſtronger by them.
Shall then in proſperous times, while all is mild,
All vernal, fair; and glory blows around thee;
Shall then the dead Serene of pleaſure come,
And lay thy faded honours in the duſt?
O gentle Scipio! ſpare me, ſpare my weakneſs.
Remember Hannibal—A ſignal proof,
A freſh example of deſtructive pleaſure.
He was the dread of nations, once of Rome!
When from Bellona's boſom, nurs'd in camps,
And hard with toil, he down the rugged Alps
Ruſh'd in a torrent over Italy;
Unconquer'd, till the looſe delights of Capua
Sunk his victorious arm, his genius broke,
Perfum'd, and made a lover of the heroe.
And now he droops in Bruttium, fear'd no more,
Sinks on our borders like a ſcatter'd ſtorm.
Remember him; and yet reſume thy ſpirit,
Ere it is quite diſſolv'd.
Shall Scipio ſtoop,
Thus to regard, to teach me wiſdom thus;
And yet a ſtupid anguiſh at my heart
Repel whate'er he ſays?—But why, my lord,
Why ſhould we kill the beſt of paſſions, love?
It aids the heroe, bids ambition riſe,
Turns us to pleaſe, inſpires immortal deeds,
Even ſoftens brutes, and makes the good more good.
There is a holy tenderneſs indeed,
A nameleſs ſympathy, a fountain-love;
Branch'd infinite from parents to their children,
From child to child, from kindred on to kindred,
In various ſtreams, from citizen to citizen,
From friend to friend, from man to man in general;
That binds, ſupports, and ſweetens human life.
But is thy paſſion ſuch?—Liſt, Maſiniſſa,
While I the hardeſt office of a friend
Diſcharge; and, with a neceſſary hand,
A hand tho' harſh at preſent really tender,
I paint this paſſion. And if then thou ſtill
Art bent to ſooth it, I muſt ſighing leave thee,
To what the Gods think fit.
O never, Scipio!
O never leave me to my ſelf! Speak on.
I dread, and yet deſire thy friendly hand.
I hope that Maſiniſſa need not now
Be told, how much his happineſs is mine;
With what a warm benevolence I'd ſpring
To raiſe, confirm it, to prevent his wiſhes.
O luxury to think!—But while he rages,
Burns in a fever, ſhall I let him quaff
Delicious poiſon for a cooling draught,
In fooliſh pity to his thirſt? ſhall I
Let a ſwift flame conſume him as he ſleeps,
Becauſe his dreams are gay? ſhall I indulge
A frenzy flaſh'd from an infectious eye?
A ſudden impulſe unapprov'd by reaſon?
Nay by thy cool deliberate thought condemn'd?
Reſolv'd againſt?—A paſſion for a woman,
Who has abus'd thee baſely? left thy youth,
Thy love as ſweet as tender as the ſpring,
The blooming heroe for the hoary tyrant?
And now who makes thy ſheltering arms alone
Her laſt retreat, to ſave her from the vengeance,
Which even her very perfidy to thee
Has brought upon her head?—Nor is this all.—
A woman who will ply her deepeſt arts,
(Ah too prevailing, as appears already)
Will never reſt, till Syphax' fate is thine;
Till friendſhip weeping flies; we join no more
In glorious deeds, and thou fall off from Rome?
I too could add, that there is ſomething mean,
Inhuman in thy paſſion. Does not Syphax,
While thou rejoiceſt, die? The generous heart
Should ſcorn a pleaſure which gives others pain.
If this, my friend, all this conſider'd deep,
Allarm thee not, not rouze thy reſolution,
And call the heroe from his wanton ſlumber,
Then Maſiniſſa's loſt.
Oh, I am pierc'd!
In every thought am pierc'd! 'Tis all too true.—
I wiſh I could refuſe it.—Whither, whither,
Thro' what inchanted wilds have I been wandering?
They ſeem'd Elyſium, the delightful plains,
The happy groves of heroes and of lovers:
But the divinity that breathes in thee
Has broke the charm, and I am in a deſart;
Far from the land of peace. It was but lately
That a pure joyous calm o'erſpread my ſoul,
And reaſon tun'd my paſſions into bliſs;
When love came hurrying in, and with raſh hand,
Mix'd them delirious, till they now ferment
To miſery.—There is no reaſoning down
This deep, deep anguiſh! this continual pang!
A thouſand things! whene'er my raptur'd thought
Runs back a little.—But I will not think.—
And yet I muſt—Oh Gods! that I could loſe
What a fond few hours memory has grav'd
But one ſtrong effort more,
And the fair field is thine—A conqueſt far
Excelling that o'er Syphax. What remains,
Since now thy madneſs to thy ſelf appears,
But an immediate manly reſolution,
To ſhake off this effeminate diſeaſe;
Theſe ſoft ideas, which ſeduce thy ſoul,
Make it all idle, unaſpiring, weak,
A ſcene of dreams; to puff them to the winds,
And be my former friend, thy ſelf again?
I joy to find thee touch'd by generous motives;
And that I need not bid thee recollect,
Whoſe awful property thou haſt uſurp'd;
Need not aſſure thee, that the Roman people,
The ſenators of Rome, will never ſuffer
A dangerous woman, their devoted foe,
A woman, whoſe irrefragable ſpirit
Has in great part ſuſtain'd this bloody war,
Whoſe charms corrupted Syphax from their ſide,
And fir'd embattled nations into rage;
Will never ſuffer her, when gain'd ſo dear,
To ruin thee too, taint thy faithful breaſt,
And kindle future war. No, fate it ſelf
Is not more ſteady to the right than they.
And, where the public good but ſeems concern'd,
No motive their impenetrable hearts,
Nor fear nor tenderneſs, can touch: ſuch is
The ſpirit, that has rais'd Imperial Rome.
Ah killing truth!—But I have promis'd, Scipio!
Have ſworn to ſave her from the Roman power.
My plighted faith is paſs'd, my hand is given.
And, by the conſcious gods! who mark'd my vows▪
The whole united world ſhall never have her.
For I will die a thouſand thouſand deaths,
With all Maſſylia
in one field expire;
Ere to the loweſt wretch, much more to her
I love, to Sophoniſba, to my queen,
I violate my word.
My heart approves
Thy reſolution, thy determin'd honour.
For ever ſacred be thy word, and oath.
Virtue by virtue will alone be clear'd,
And ſcorns the crooked methods of diſhonour.
But, thus divided, how to keep thy faith
At once to Rome and Sophoniſba; how
To ſave her from our chains, and yet thyſelf
From greater bondage; this thy ſecret thought
Can beſt inform thee.
Theſe wilful tears!—O look not on me, Scipio!
For I'm a child again.
Thy tears are no reproach.
Tears oft look graceful on the manly cheek.
The Cruel cannot weep. Even Friendſhip's eye
Gives thee the drop it would refuſe itſelf.
I know 'tis hard, wounds every bleeding nerve
About thy heart, thus to tear off thy paſſion.
But for that very reaſon, Maſiniſſa,
'Tis hop'd from thee. The harder, thence reſults
The greater glory.—Why ſhould we pretend
To conquer, rule mankind, be firſt in power,
In great aſſemblies, honour, place, and pleaſure,
While ſlaves at heart? while by fantaſtick turns
Our frantic paſſions rage? The very thought
Should turn our pomp to ſhame, our ſweet to bitter;
And, when the ſhouts of millions meet our ears,
Whiſper reproach.—O ye celeſtial powers!
What is it, in a torrent of ſucceſs,
To bear down nations, and o'erflow the world?
All your peculiar favour. Real glory
Springs from the ſilent conqueſt of ourſelves;
And without that the conqueror is nought
Save the firſt ſlave.—Then rouze thee, Maſiniſſa!
Nor in one weakneſs all thy virtues loſe;
And oh beware of long, of vain repentance!
Well! well! no more.—It is but dying too!
1.5.4. SCENE IV.
Poor Maſiniſſa, Laelius, is undone;
Betwixt his paſſion and his reaſon toſt
In miſerable conflict.
He ſhot athwart me, nor vouchſaf'd one look.
Hung on his clouded brow I mark'd deſpair,
And his eye glaring with ſome dire reſolve.
Faſt o'er his cheek too ran the haſty tear.
It were great pity that he ſhould be loſt!
By heavens! to loſe him were a ſhock, as if
I loſt thee, Laelius, loſt my deareſt brother,
Bound up in friendſhip from our infant years.
A thouſand lovely qualities endear him,
Only too warm of heart.
What ſhall be done?
Here let it reſt, till time abates his paſſion.
Nature is nature, Laelius, let the Wiſe
Say what they pleaſe. But now perhaps he dies.—
Haſte! haſte! and give him hope—I have not time
To tell thee what.—Thy prudence will direct—
Whatever is conſiſtent with my honour,
My duty to the publick, and my friendſhip
To him himſelf, ſay, promiſe, ſhall be done.
I hope returning reaſon will prevent
Our farther care.
Not only ſave, but Sophoniſba's too:
For both I fear are in this paſſion mixt.
It ſhall be done.
1.5.9. SCENE IX.
SOPHONISBA, PHOENISSA, MASINISSA, LAELIUS, NARVA.
Has Sophoniſha drank this curſed bowl?
Oh horror! horror! what a ſight is here!
Had I not drank, Maſiniſſa, then,
I had deſerv'd it.
Oh bitter, bitter fate! And this laſt hope
Compleats my woe.
When will theſe ears be deaf,
To miſery's complaint? Theſe eyes be blind,
To miſchief wrought by Rome?
Too ſoon! too ſoon!—
Ah why ſo haſty? But a little while,
Hadſt thou delay'd this horrid draught; I then
Had been as happy, as I now am wretched!
What means this talk of hope? of coward waiting?
What have I done? Oh heavens! I cannot think
Without diſtraction, hell, and burning anguiſh,
On my raſh deed!—But, while I talk, ſhe dies!
And how? what? where am I then?—Say, canſt thou
Forgive me, Sophoniſba?
Yes, and more,
More than forgive thee, thank thee, Maſiniſſa.
Hadſt thou been weak, and dally'd with my freedom,
Till by proud Rome enſlav'd; that injury
I never had forgiven.
I came with life!
Laelius and I from Scipio haſted hither;
But Death was here before us—this vile poiſon!
With life!—There was ſome merit in the poiſon;
But this deſtroys it all.—And couldſt thou think
Me mean enough to take it?—Oh! Phoeniſſa,
This mortal toil is almoſt at an end.—
Receive my parting ſoul.
Alas, my queen!
Dies! dies! and ſcorns me!—Mercy! Sophoniſba!
Grant one forgiving look, while yet thou canſt;
Or death it ſelf, the grave cannot relieve me:
But with the furies join'd, my frantic ghoſt
Will how [...] for ever.—Quivering! and pale!
Have I done this?
Come nearer, Maſiniſſa.—
Out! ſtubborn nature!—
Miſery! theſe pangs
To me transfer'd were eaſe.—A moment only!
An agonizing moment! while I have
An age of things to ſay!
We, but for Rome,
Might have been happy.—Rouze thee now, my ſoul!
The cold deliverer comes.—Be mild to Syphax!—
In my ſurviving friend behold me ſtill!—
Farewell!—'Tis done.—O never, never, Carthage,
Shall I behold thee more!
Dead! dead! oh dead!
Is there no death for me?
(Snatches Laelius's ſword to ſtab himſelf.)
And wouldſt thou make a coward of me, Laelius?
Have me ſurvive that murder'd excellence?
Did ſhe not ſtir? Ha! Who has ſhock'd my brain!
It whirls, it blazes.—Was it thou, old man?
Alas! alas!—good Maſiniſſa, ſoftly!
Let me conduct thee to thy couch.
Were welcome.—But ye cannot make me live!
Oppreſs'd with life!—Off!—crowd not thus around me!
For I will hear, ſee, think no more!—Thou ſun,
Keep up thy hated beams! And all I want
Of thee, kind earth, is an immediate grave!
Ay, there ſhe lyes!—Why to that pallid ſweetneſs
Can not I, Nature! lay my lips, and die!
(Throws himſelf beſide her.)
See there the ruins of the noble mind,
When from calm reaſon paſſion tears the ſway.
What pity ſhe ſhould periſh!—Cruel war,
'Tis not the leaſt misfortune in thy train,
That oft by thee the brave deſtroy the brave.
She had a Roman ſoul; for every one
Who loves, like her, his country is a Roman.
Whether on Afric's ſandy plains he glows,
Or lives untam'd among Riphoean ſnows;
If parent-liberty the breaſt inflame,
The gloomy Libyan then deſerves that name:
And, warm with freedom, under frozen ſkies,
In fartheſt Britain Romans yet may riſe.