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Title: Gycia - A Tragedy in Five Acts
Author: Morris, Lewis, Sir, 1833-1907
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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   A Table of Contents has been added for the reader's convenience.

   A list of changes to the text is at the end of the book.



GYCIA

by

LEWIS MORRIS

      *      *      *      *      *      *

BY THE SAME AUTHOR.

_NEW AND CHEAPER EDITIONS._

Vol. I.--SONGS OF TWO WORLDS. With Portrait. Eleventh Edition, price
5_s._

Vol. II.--THE EPIC OF HADES. With an Autotype Illustration. Twentieth
Edition, price 5_s._

Vol. III.--GWEN and THE ODE OF LIFE. With Frontispiece. Sixth
Edition, price 5_s._

_FIFTH EDITION._

SONGS UNSUNG. Cloth extra, bevelled boards, price 5_s._

AN ILLUSTRATED EDITION OF THE EPIC OF HADES. With Sixteen Autotype
Illustrations after the drawings of the late GEORGE R. CHAPMAN. 4to,
cloth extra, gilt leaves, price 21_s._

A PRESENTATION EDITION OF THE EPIC OF HADES. With Portrait. 4to,
cloth extra, gilt leaves, price 10_s._ 6_d._

THE LEWIS MORRIS BIRTHDAY BOOK. Edited by S. S. COPEMAN. 32mo, with
Frontispiece, cloth extra, gilt edges, 2s.; cloth limp, price 1_s._
6_d._

_For Notices of the Press, see end of this Volume._

LONDON: KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH & CO.

      *      *      *      *      *      *


GYCIA

A Tragedy in Five Acts

by

LEWIS MORRIS

M.A.; Honorary Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford
Knight of the Redeemer of Greece, Etc., Etc.

Second Edition



London
Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 1, Paternoster Square
1886

(The rights of translation and of reproduction are reserved.)



CONTENTS

   Preface

   Dramatis Personæ

   Act I
      Scene 1 Bosphorus. The King's palace.
      Scene 2 Outside the palace.

   Act II
      Scene 1 Lamachus' palace, Cherson.
      Scene 2 Outside the palace of Lamachus.
      Scene 3 A street in Cherson.
      Scene 4 The garden without the banqueting-room.

   Act III
      Scene 1 Cherson, two years after. The palace of Lamachus.
      Scene 2 The same.
      Scene 3 A room in the palace.
      Scene 4 Irene's prison.
      Scene 5 Outside the palace.

   Act IV
      Scene 1 Cherson. Irene's prison.
      Scene 2 Room in Lamachus's palace.
      Scene 3 The council chamber of the Senate of Cherson.

   Act V
      Scene 1 Lamachus's palace.
      Scene 2 The banquet hall.
      Scene 3 Outside the banquet hall.
      Scene 4 The Senate-chamber.

   Notices of the press



PREFACE.


The following Drama was written with a view to Stage representation,
and it is therefore rather as an Acting Play than as a Dramatic Poem
that it should be judged by its readers.

It follows as closely as possible the striking story recorded by
Constantine Porphyrogenitus in his work, "De Administratione
Imperii." Nor has the writer had occasion (except in the death of the
heroine) to modify the powerful historical situations and incidents
to which it is right to say his attention was first directed by his
friend the well-known scholar and critic, Mr. W. Watkiss Lloyd.

The date of the story is circa 970 A.D.



DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.


_PEOPLE OF BOSPHORUS._

_The_ KING OF BOSPHORUS.

ASANDER, _Prince of Bosphorus._

LYSIMACHUS, _a statesman._

MEGACLES, _a chamberlain from the Imperial Court of Constantinople._

_Three Courtiers, accompanying Asander and accomplices in the plot._

_Soldiers, etc._


_PEOPLE OF CHERSON._

LAMACHUS, _Archon of the Republic of Cherson._

ZETHO, _his successor._

THEODORUS, _a young noble (brother to Irene), in love with Gycia._

BARDANES, _first Senator._

_Ambassador to Bosphorus._

_The Senators of Cherson._

_Two Labourers._

GYCIA, _daughter of Lamachus._

IRENE, _a lady--her friend, in love with Asander._

MELISSA, _an elderly lady in waiting on Gycia_.

_Child, daughter of the Gaoler._

_Citizens, etc._



GYCIA.



ACT I.


SCENE I.--_Bosphorus. The King's palace. The_ KING, _in anxious
thought. To him_ LYSIMACHUS, _afterwards_ ASANDER.

    _Enter_ LYSIMACHUS.

  _Lys._ What ails the King, that thus his brow is bent
  By such a load of care?

  _King._                 Lysimachus,
  The load of empire lies a weary weight,
  On age-worn brains; tho' skies and seas may smile,
  And steadfast favouring Fortune sit serene,
  Guiding the helm of State, but well thou knowest--
  None better in my realm--through what wild waves,
  Quicksands, and rock-fanged straits, our Bosphorus,
  Laden with all our love, reels madly on
  To shipwreck and to ruin. From the North,
  Storm-cloud on storm-cloud issuing vollies forth
  Fresh thunderbolts of war. The Emperor
  Dallies within his closed seraglios,
  Letting his eunuchs waste the might of Rome,
  While the fierce Scythian, in a surge of blood,
  Bursts on our bare-swept plains. Upon the South,
  Our rival Cherson, with a jealous eye,
  Waits on our adverse chances, taking joy
  Of her republican guile in every check
  And buffet envious Fortune deals our State,
  Which doth obey a King. Of all our foes
  I hate and dread these chiefly, for I fear
  Lest, when my crown falls from my palsied brow,
  My son Asander's youth may prove too weak
  To curb these crafty burghers. Speak, I pray thee,
  Most trusty servant. Can thy loyal brain
  Devise some scheme whereby our dear-loved realm
  May break the mesh of Fate?

  _Lys._                      Indeed, my liege,
  Too well I know our need, and long have tossed
  Through sleepless nights, if haply I might find
  Some remedy, but that which I have found
  Shows worse than the disease.

  _King._                       Nay, speak; what is it?
  I know how wise thy thought.

  _Lys._                       My liege, it chances
  The Archon Lamachus is old and spent.
  He has an only child, a daughter, Gycia,
  The treasure of his age, who now blooms forth
  In early maidenhood. The girl is fair
  As is a morn in springtide; and her father
  A king in all but name, such reverence
  His citizens accord him. Were it not well
  The Prince Asander should contract himself
  In marriage to this girl, and take the strength
  Of Cherson for her dowry, and the power
  Of their strong fleets and practised arms to thrust
  The invading savage backward?

  _King._                       Nay, my lord;
  No more of this, I pray. There is no tribe
  Of all the blighting locust swarms of war,
  Which sweep our wasted fields, I would not rather
  Take to my heart and cherish than these vipers.
  Dost thou forget, my lord, how of old time,
  In the brave days of good Sauromatus,
  These venomous townsmen, shamelessly allied
  With the barbarian hosts, brought us to ruin;
  Or, with the failing force of Cæsar leagued,
  By subtle devilish enginery of war,
  Robbed Bosphorus of its own, when, but for them,
  Byzantium were our prey, and all its might,
  And we Rome's masters? Nay; I swear to thee,
  I would rather see the Prince dead at my feet,
  I would rather see our loved State sunk and lost,
  Than know my boy, the sole heir of my crown,
  The sole hope of my people, taken and noosed
  By this proud upstart girl. Speak not of it;
  Ruin were better far.

  _Lys._                My liege, I bear
  No greater favour to these insolent townsmen
  Than thou thyself. I, who have fought with them
  From my first youth--who saw my father slain,
  Not in fair fight, pierced through by honest steel,
  But unawares, struck by some villanous engine,
  Which, armed with inextinguishable fire,
  Flew hissing from the walls and slew at once
  Coward and brave alike; I, whose young brother,
  The stripling who to me was as a son,
  Taken in some sally, languished till he died,
  Chained in their dungeons' depths;--must I not hate them
  With hate as deep as hell? And yet I know
  There is no other way than that Asander
  Should wed this woman. This alone can staunch
  The bleeding wounds of the State.

  _King._                           Lysimachus,
  I am old; my will is weak, my body bent,
  Not more than is my mind; I cannot reason.
  But hark! I hear the ring of coursers' feet
  Bespeak Asander coming. What an air
  Of youth and morning breathes round him, and brings
  A light of hope again!

    _Enter ASANDER from the chase._

  _Asan._ My dearest sire and King, art thou thus grave
  Of choice, or does our good Lysimachus,
  Bringing unwonted loads of carking care,
  O'ercloud thy brow? I prithee, father, fret not;
  There is no cloud of care I yet have known--
  And I am now a man, and have my cares--
  Which the fresh breath of morn, the hungry chase,
  The echoing horn, the jocund choir of tongues,
  Or joy of some bold enterprise of war,
  When the swift squadrons smite the echoing plains,
  Scattering the stubborn spearmen, may not break,
  As does the sun the mists. Nay, look not grave;
  My youth is strong enough for any burden
  Fortune can set on me.

  _King._                Couldst thou, Asander,
  Consent to serve the State, if it should bid thee
  Wed without love?

  _Asan._           What, father, is that all?
  I do not know this tertian fever, love,
  Of which too oft my comrades groan and sigh,
  This green-sick blight, which turns a lusty soldier
  To a hysterical girl. Wed without love?
  One day I needs must wed, though love I shall not.
  And if it were indeed to serve the State,
  Nay, if 'twould smooth one wrinkle from thy brow,
  Why, it might be to-morrow. Tell me, father,
  Who is this paragon that thou designest
  Shall call me husband? Some barbarian damsel
  Reared on mare's milk, and nurtured in a tent
  In Scythia? Well, 'twere better than to mate
  With some great lady from the Imperial Court,
  Part tigress and all wanton. I care not;
  Or if the scheme miscarry, I care not.
  Tell me, good father.

  _King._               Wouldst thou wed, Asander,
  If 'twere to save the State, a Greek from Cherson?

  _Asan._ From Cherson? Nay, my liege; that were too much.
  A girl from out that cockatrice's den--
  Take such a one to wife? I would liefer take
  A viper to my breast! Nay, nay, you jest,
  My father, for you hate this low-born crew,
  Grown gross by huckstering ways and sordid craft--
  Ay, more than I.

  _King._          It is no jest, my son.
  Our good Lysimachus will tell thee all
  Our need and whence it comes.

  _Lys._                        My gracious Prince,
  Thus stands the case, no otherwise. Our foes
  Press closer year by year, our widespread plains
  Are ravaged, and our bare, unpeopled fields
  Breed scantier levies; while the treasury
  Stands empty, and we have not means to buy
  The force that might resist them. Nought but ruin,
  Speedy, inevitable, can await
  Our failing Bosphorus' unaided strength,
  Unless some potent rich ally should join
  Our weakness to her might. None other is there
  To which to look but Cherson; and I know,
  From trusty friends among them, that even now,
  Perchance this very day, an embassy
  Comes to us with design that we should sink
  Our old traditional hate in the new bonds
  Which Hymen binds together. For the girl
  Gycia, the daughter of old Lamachus,
  Their foremost man, there comes but one report--
  That she is fair as good.

  _Asan._                   My lord, I pray you,
  Waste not good breath. If I must sell myself,
  It matters not if she be fair or foul,
  Angel or doubly damned; hating the race,
  Men, maidens, young and old, I would blight my life
  To save my country.

  _King._             Thanks, my dearest son.
  There spake a patriot indeed.

  _Servant._                    My liege,
  An embassy from Cherson for the King.

  _Enter_ AMBASSADOR, _with retinue._

  _Ambas._ Sirs, I bring you a message from Lamachus, the Archon of
  Cherson.

  _Lys._ Sirs, forsooth! Know ye not the dignity of princes, or does
  your republican rudeness bar you from all courtesy? I do not count
  myself equal to the King, nor, therefore, should you.

  _King._ Nay, good Lysimachus, let him proceed.

  _Ambas._ If I am blunt of speech, I beg your forgiveness. I bring to
  you a letter from the citizen Lamachus, which I shall read, if it be
  your pleasure.

  _King._ Read on.

  _Ambas._ "To the King of Bosphorus, Lamachus sends greeting. We are
  both old. Let us forget the former enmities of our States, and make
  an alliance which shall protect us against the storm of barbarian
  invasion which Cæsar is too weak to ward off. Thou hast a son, and I
  a daughter. Thy son is, from all report, a brave youth and worthy. My
  daughter is the paragon of her sex. I have wealth and possessions and
  respect as great as if I were a sceptred King. The youth and the maid
  are of fitting age. Let us join their hands together, and with them
  those of our States, and grow strong enough to defy the barbarians,
  and Rome also."

  _Asan._ My liege, I am willing for this marriage. Let it be.

  _King._ My son, we have not yet heard all. Read on, sir.

  _Ambas._ "There is one condition which not my will, but the jealousy
  of our people enforces, viz. that the Prince Asander, if he weds my
  daughter, shall thenceforth forswear his country, nor seek to return
  to it on pain of death. I pray thee, pardon the rudeness of my
  countrymen; but they are Greeks, and judge their freedom more than
  their lives."

  _Asan._ Insolent hounds!
  This is too much. I will have none of them.
  Take back that message.

  _King._                 Thou art right, my son.
  I could not bear to lose thee, not to win
  A thousand Chersons. Let us fight alone,
  And see what fortune sends us.

  _Lys._                         Good my liege,
  Be not too hasty. (_To_ Ambassador) Sir, the King has heard
  The message which you bring, and presently
  Will send a fitting answer.

    [_Exit_ Ambassador.

                              Nay, my liege,
  I beg your patience. That these fellows make
  Their friendship difficult is true; but think
  How great the value of it, and remember
  How easy 'tis to promise and break faith
  With insolent dogs like these. This Lamachus
  Is older than your grace, and feebler far.
  He will not live for ever, and, he gone,
  Will not the Prince Asander be as great,
  The husband of his daughter and his heir,
  As _he_ is now, and sway the power of Cherson
  For our own ends, and cast to all the winds
  This foul enforcèd compact, and o'erturn
  This commonwealth of curs? I will stake my life
  That three years shall not pass ere he is King
  Of Cherson in possession, and at once
  Of Bosphorus next heir.
  "The tongue hath sworn, the mind remains unsworn,"
  So says their poet.

  _Asan._             I'll have none of it.
  I am not all Greek, but part Cimmerian,
  And scorn to break my word.
  Let us face ruin, father, not deceit.

  _King._ My noble son, I love thee.

  _Lys._                             Good my liege,
  And thou, my Lord Asander, ponder it.
  Consider our poor country's gaping wounds,
  And what a remedy lies to our hands.
  I will die willingly if I devise not
  A scheme to bend these upstarts to your will.

    [_Exeunt omnes._


SCENE II.--_Outside the palace._

  MEGACLES _and_ Courtiers.

_Meg._ Well, my lords, and so it is all settled. We must all be on
board in half an hour. His Altitude the Prince sails at once for
Cherson, and with a view to his immediate marriage. Was ever such a
rash step heard of? Not twenty-four hours to get ready the marriage
equipment of a Prince of Bosphorus. Well, well, I dare say they would
be glad enough to take him with no rag to his back. I dare say these
rascally republicans would know no better if he were to be married in
his everyday suit.

_1st Court._ I' faith, I should never have dreamt it. Asander, who is
the boldest huntsman and the bravest soldier, and the best of good
fellows, to go and tie himself to the apron-strings of a Greek girl,
a tradesman's daughter from Cherson, of all places on earth! Pah! it
makes me sick!

_2nd Court._ But I hear she is beautiful as Artemis, and----Well, we
are all young or have been, and beauty is a strong loadstone to such
metal as the Prince's.

_3rd Court._ Nay, he has never set eyes on her; and, for that matter,
the Lady Irene was handsome enough in all conscience, and a jovial
young gentlewoman to boot. Ye gods! do you mind how she sighed for
him and pursued him? It was a sight to please the goddess Aphrodite
herself. But then, our good Asander, who had only to lift up his
little finger, was so cold and positively forbidding, that I once
came upon the poor lady crying her eyes out in a passion of mortified
feeling.

_1st Court._ Ay, she was from this outlandish Cherson, was not she?
Aphrodite was a Greek woman also, remember.

_2nd Court._ So she was. I had quite forgotten where the lady came
from. Well, if she is there now, and cannot get her Prince, and would
like a gay, tolerably well-favoured young fellow for a lover, I
suppose she need go no further than the present company.

_Meg._ My lords, I pray you leave these frivolities, and let us come
to serious matters. Think, I beg you, in what a painful position I am
placed. I am to go, without proper notice, as Master of the
Ceremonies of the Court of Bosphorus, to conduct an important
Court-ceremonial with a pack of scurvy knaves, who, I will be bound,
hardly know the difference between an Illustrious and a Respectable,
or a Respectable and an Honourable. I must do my best to arrange all
decently and in order, and as near as may be to the Imperial model,
and all these matters I have to devise on shipboard, tossed about on
that villanous Euxine, with a smell of pitch everywhere, and
sea-sickness in my stomach. And when I get to Cherson, if ever I do
get there alive, I have not the faintest idea whom I am to consult
with--whether there is a Count of the Palace or anybody, in fact. I
dare say there is nobody; I am sure there is nobody. A marriage of
the heir apparent is a very serious affair, let me tell you. What a
comfort it is that I have got the last edition of that precious work
of the divine Theodosius on Dignities! If it were not for that, I
should go mad.

_1st Court._ My good Megacles, I warn you the Prince cares as little
for etiquette as he does for love-making.

_Meg._ Very likely, and that makes my position so difficult. Just
reflect for a moment. When we go ashore at Cherson, I suppose we
shall be received by the authorities?

_2nd Court._ Surely, good Megacles.

_Meg._ Then, how many steps should Prince Asander take to meet his
father-in-law Lamachus--eh? And how many steps should Lamachus take?
You never gave the matter a thought? Of course not. And these are
questions to be settled on the spot, and scores like them.

_3rd Court._ I dare say it won't matter at all, or very little.

_Meg._ Matter very little, indeed! very little, forsooth! Why, in the
name of all the saints, do not alliances fall through for less? Are
not bloody wars fought for less? Do I not remember the sad plight of
the Grand Chamberlain, when the Illustrious Leo, the Pro-Consul of
Macedonia, had a meeting at Court with the Respectable the
Vice-Prefect of Pannonia? Now, the Pro-Consul should have taken four
steps forward, as being the most noble, the Vice-Prefect five. But,
the Vice-Prefect being a tall man, and the Pro-Consul a short one,
the Grand Chamberlain did not sufficiently measure their distances;
and so when they had taken but four steps each, there were the two
Dignitaries bolt upright, face to face, glaring at each other, and no
room to take the fraction of a foot pace more.

_1st Court._ Faith, a very laughable situation, good Megacles. Was it
hard to settle?

_Meg._ I should think it was hard to settle. No one could interfere;
the Book of Ceremonies was sent for, and was silent. There was
nothing for it but that the Emperor, after half an hour, broke up the
Court in confusion, and those two remained where they were till it
was quite dark, and then they got away, no one knows how. But what
came of it? For fifteen years there was war and bloodshed between the
provinces, and but for the invasion of the Goths, there would be to
this day. Matter little, indeed! Why, you foolish youngster, ceremony
is everything in life. To understand Precedence aright is to know the
secrets of nature. The order of Precedence is the order of Creation.
It is, in fact, a very cosmogony. Oh, a noble science! a noble
science!

_1st Court._ Right, good Megacles, to magnify your office. Bravery is
nothing; goodness is nothing; beauty is a foolish dream. Give us
Ceremony, Ceremony, more Ceremony; it is the salt of life.

_Meg._ A very intelligent youth. But here comes the King.

  _Enter the_ KING, ASANDER, _and_ LYSIMACHUS.

  _Asan._ My liege, I do your will,
  Though with a heavy heart. Farewell, my father.
  If I must bid farewell to this dear City,
  Which nourished me from childhood, 'tis to save it,
  Not otherwise, and thou my sire and King.
  From thee I do not part, and oftentimes,
  If the saints will, I yet shall welcome thee,
  When all our foes are routed and our troubles
  Fled like some passing storm-cloud, to my hearth,
  And set thy heir upon thy knees, a Prince
  Of Bosphorus and Cherson.

  _King._                   Good, my son.
  I pray God keep you, for I dimly fear,
  So dark a presage doth obscure my mind,
  That we shall meet no more.

  _Lys._                      My honoured liege,
  These are the figments of a mind which grief
  Hath part disordered. Thou shalt see thy son,
  Trust me for it; I swear it. One thing more
  Remains. I know what 'tis to be a youth
  As yet untouched by love; I know what charm
  Lies in the magic of a woman's eyes
  For a young virgin heart. I pray you, sir,
  Swear to me by the saints, that, come what may,
  For no allurement which thy new life brings thee,
  The love of wife or child, wilt thou forget
  Our Bosphorus, but still wilt hold her weal
  Above all other objects of thy love
  In good or adverse fortune.

  _Asan._                     Nay, my lord,
  There is no need for oaths; yet will I swear it,
  Here on this soldier's cross.

    [_Makes a cross with the hilt of his sword._

                                Farewell, my father,
  I mar my manhood, staying.

  _King._                    Farewell, son.
  Let my old eyes fix on thee till thou goest
  Beneath the farthest verge. Good Megacles,
  And you brave gentlemen, be faithful all
  To me and to your Prince.

  _Lys._                    My Lord Asander,
  Remember!

END OF ACT I.



ACT II.


SCENE I.--_Lamachus' palace, Cherson._

  GYCIA and IRENE.

  _Gycia._        Sweetest Irene,
  What joy it is to see thee once again
  After so long an absence! We had grown
  Together on one stalk so long, since first
  Our girlish lives began to burst to flower,
  That it was hard to part us. But methinks
  That something of the rose from off thy cheek
  Has faded, and its rounded outline fair
  Seems grown a little thinner.

  _Ire._                        Gycia,
  The flower, once severed from the stalk, no more
  Grows as before.

  _Gycia._         Thou strange girl, to put on
  Such grave airs! Ah! I fear at Bosphorus
  Some gay knight has bewitched thee; thou hast fallen
  In love, as girls say--though what it may be
  To fall in love, I know not, thank the gods,
  Having much else to think of.

  _Ire._                        Prithee, dear,
  Speak not of this.

  _Gycia._           Ah! then I know 'tis true.
  Confess what manner of thing love is.

  _Ire._ Nay, nay, I cannot tell thee (_weeping_), Gycia;
  Thou knowest not what thou askest. What is love?
  Seek not to know it. 'Tis to be no more
  Thy own, but all another's; 'tis to dwell
  By day and night on one fixed madding thought,
  Till the form wastes, and with the form the heart
  Is warped from right to wrong, and can forget
  All that it loved before, faith, duty, country,
  Friendship, affection--everything but love.
  Seek not to know it, dear; or, knowing it,
  Be happier than I.

  _Gycia._           My poor Irene!
  Then, 'tis indeed a misery to love.
  I do repent that I have tortured thee
  By such unthinking jests. Forgive me, dear,
  I will speak no more of it; with me thy secret
  Is safe as with a sister. Shouldst thou wish
  To unburden to me thy unhappy heart,
  If haply I might bring thy love to thee.
  Thou shalt his name divulge and quality,
  And I will do my best.

  _Ire._                 Never, dear Gycia.
  Forget my weakness; 'twas a passing folly,
  I love a man who loves me not again,
  And that is very hell. I would die sooner
  Than breathe his name to thee. Farewell, dear lady!
  Thou canst not aid me.

    [_Exit_ IRENE.

  _Gycia._              Hapless girl! Praise Heaven
  That I am fancy-free!

    _Enter_ LAMACHUS.

  _Lama._ My dearest daughter, why this solemn aspect?
  I have glad news for thee. Thou knowest of old
  The weary jealousies, the bloody feuds,
  Which 'twixt our Cherson and her neighbour City
  Have raged ere I was born--nay, ere my grandsire
  First saw the light of heaven. Both our States
  Are crippled by this brainless enmity.
  And now the Empire, now the Scythian, threatens
  Destruction to our Cities, whom, united,
  We might defy with scorn. Seeing this weakness,
  Thy father, wishful, ere his race be run,
  To save our much-loved Cherson, sent of late
  Politic envoys to our former foe,
  And now--i' faith, I am not so old, 'twould seem
  That I have lost my state-craft--comes a message.
  The Prince Asander, heir of Bosphorus,
  Touches our shores to-day, and presently
  Will be with us.

  _Gycia._         Oh, father, is it wise?
  Do fire and water mingle? Does the hawk
  Mate with the dove; the tiger with the lamb;
  The tyrant with the peaceful commonwealth;
  Fair commerce with the unfruitful works of war?
  What union can there be 'twixt our fair city
  And this half-barbarous race? 'Twere against nature
  To bid these opposite elements combine--
  The Greek with the Cimmerian. Father, pray you,
  Send them away, with honour if you please,
  And soothing words and gifts--only, I pray you,
  Send them away, this Prince who doth despise us,
  And his false retinue of slaves.

  _Lama._                          My daughter,
  Thy words are wanting in thy wonted love
  And dutiful observance. 'Twere an insult
  Unwashed by streams of bloodshed, should our City
  Scorn thus the guests it summoned. Come they must,
  And with all hospitable care and honour,
  Else were thy sire dishonoured. Thou wilt give them
  A fitting welcome.

  _Gycia._           Pardon me, my father,
  That I spoke rashly. I obey thy will.

    [_Going._

  _Lama._ Stay, Gycia. Dost thou know what 'tis to love?

  _Gycia._ Ay, thee, dear father.

  _Lama._                         Nay, I know it well.
  But has no noble youth e'er touched thy heart?

  _Gycia._ None, father, Heaven be praised! The young Irene
  Was with me when thou cam'st, and all her life
  Seems blighted by this curse of love--for one
  Whose name she hides, with whom in Bosphorus
  She met, when there she sojourned. Her young brother,
  The noble Theodorus, whom thou knowest,
  Lets all the world go by him and grows pale
  For love, and pines, and wherefore?--For thy daughter,
  Who knows not what love means, and cannot brook
  Such brain-sick folly. Nay, be sure, good father,
  I love not thus, and shall not.

  _Lama._                         Well, well, girl,
  Thou wilt know it yet. I fetter not thy choice,
  But if thou couldst by loving bind together
  Not two hearts only, but opposing peoples;
  Supplant by halcyon days long years of strife,
  And link them in unbroken harmony;--
  Were this no glory for a woman, this
  No worthy price of her heart?

  _Gycia._                      Tell me, I pray,
  What mean you by this riddle?

  _Lama._                       Prince Asander
  Comes here to ask your hand, and with it take
  A gracious dower of peace and amity.
  He does not ask thee to forsake thy home,
  But leaves for thee his own. All tongues together
  Are full of praise of him: virgin in love,
  A brave youth in the field, as we have proved
  In many a mortal fight; a face and form
  Like a young god's. I would, my love, thy heart
  Might turn to him, and find thy happiness
  In that which makes me happy. I am old
  And failing, and I fain would see thee blest
  Before I die, and at thy knees an heir
  To all my riches, and the State of Cherson
  From anxious cares delivered, and through thee.

  _Gycia._ Father, we are of the Athenian race,
  Which was the flower of Hellas. Ours the fame
  Of Poets, Statesmen, Orators, whose works
  And thoughts upon the forehead of mankind
  Shine like a precious jewel; ours the glory
  Of those great Soldiers who by sea and land
  Scattered the foemen to the winds of heaven,
  First in the files of time. And though our mother,
  Our Athens, sank, crushed by the might of Rome,
  What is Rome now?--An Empire rent in twain;
  An Empire sinking 'neath the unwieldy weight
  Of its own power; an Empire where the Senate
  Ranks lower than the Circus, and a wanton
  Degrades the Imperial throne. But though to its fall
  The monster totters, this our Cherson keeps
  The bravery of old, and still maintains
  The old Hellenic spirit and some likeness
  Of the fair Commonwealth which ruled the world.
  Surely, my father, 'tis a glorious spring
  Drawn from the heaven-kissed summits whence we come;
  And shall we, then, defile our noble blood
  By mixture with this upstart tyranny
  Which fouls the Hellenic pureness of its source
  In countless bastard channels? If our State
  Ask of its children sacrifice, 'tis well.
  It shall be given; only I prithee, father,
  Seek not that I should with barbaric blood
  Taint the pure stream, which flows from Pericles.
  Let me abide unwedded, if I may,
  A Greek girl as before.

  _Lama._                 Daughter, thy choice
  Is free as air to accept or to reject
  This suitor; only, in the name of Cherson,
  Do nothing rashly, and meanwhile take care
  That nought that fits a Grecian State be wanting
  To do him honour.

  _Gycia._          Sir, it shall be done.


SCENE II.--_Outside the palace of_ LAMACHUS.

  MEGACLES _and_ COURTIERS.

_Meg._ Well, my lords, and so this is the palace. A grand palace,
forsooth, and a fine reception to match! Why, these people are worse
than barbarians. They are worse than the sea, and that was
inhospitable enough. The saints be praised that that is over, at any
rate. Oh, the intolerable scent of pitch, and the tossing and the
heaving! Heaven spare me such an ordeal again! I thought I should
have died of the smells. And here, can it be? Is it possible that
there is a distinct odour of--pah! what? Oils, as I am a Christian,
and close to the very palace of the Archon! What a detestable people!
Some civet, good friends, some civet!

_1st Court._ Here it is, good Megacles. You did not hope, surely, to
find republicans as sweet as those who live cleanly under a King?
But here are some of their precious citizens at last.

  _Enter_ Citizens _hurriedly._

_1st Citizen._ I pray you, forgive us, gentlemen. We thought the
Prince would take the land at the other quay, and had prepared our
welcome accordingly.

_Meg._ Who are these men?

_1st Court._ They are honourable citizens of Cherson.

_Meg._ Citizens! They will not do for me. The Count of the Palace
should be here with the Grand Chamberlain to meet my Master.

_1st Cit._ Your Master? Oh! then you are a serving man, as it would
seem. Well, my good man, when comes your Master?

_Meg._ Oh, the impertinent scoundrel! Do you know, sir, who I am?

_1st Cit._ Probably the Prince's attendant, his lackey, or possibly
his steward. I neither know nor care.

_Meg._ Oh, you barbarian! Where is the Count of the Palace, I say?

_1st Cit._ Now, citizen, cease this nonsense. We have not, thank
Heaven, any such foolish effeminate functionary.

_Meg._ No Count of the Palace? Heavens! what a crew! Well, if there
is none, where are your leading nobles? where the Respectable and
Illustrious? You are certainly not Illustrious nor Respectable; you
probably are not even Honourable, or if you are you don't look it.

_1st Cit._ What, you wretched popinjay of a serving man! You dare
address a Greek citizen in that way? Take that, and that! [_Beats
him._

_1st Court._ Draw, gentlemen! These are ruffians!

  [_They fight._

  _Enter_ ASANDER.

_Asan._ Put up your swords, gentlemen. Why, fellows, what is this? Is
this your hospitality to your guests?

_1st Cit._ Nay, sir; but this servant of yours has been most
insolent, and has abused and insulted our State and its manners. He
told us that we were not men of honour; and some of us, sir, are
young, and have hot blood, and, as Greek citizens of Cherson, will
not bear insults.

_Asan._ Insolent upstarts, you are not worthy of our swords! Come, my
Lord Megacles, heed them not. Here is their master.

_Enter_ LAMACHUS _and_ Senators.

  _Lama._ We bid you heartfelt welcome, Prince, to Cherson.
  That we have seemed to fail to do you honour
  Comes of the spite of fortune. For your highness,
  Taking the land at the entrance of the port,
  Missed what of scanty pomp our homely manners
  Would fain have offered; but we pray you think
  'Twas an untoward accident, no more.
  Welcome to Cherson, Prince!

  _Asan._                     Methinks, my lord,
  Scarce in the meanest State is it the custom
  To ask the presence of a noble guest
  With much insistance, and when he accepts
  The summons, and has come, to set on him
  With insolent dogs like these.

  _Lama._                        Nay, Prince, I pray you,
  What is it that has been?

  _Asan._                   Our chamberlain
  Was lately, in your absence, which your highness
  So glibly doth excuse, set on and beaten
  By these dogs here.

  _Lama._             Nay, sir, they are not dogs,
  But citizens of honour; yet indeed
  Wanting, I fear, in that deep courtesy
  Which from a stranger and a guest refuses
  To take provoked offence. My lord, indeed
  I am ashamed that citizens of Cherson
  Should act so mean a part. Come, Prince, I pray you
  Forget this matter, and be sure your coming
  Fills me with joy. Go, tell the Lady Gycia
  The Prince is safe in Cherson.

_Meg._ My Lord Asander, remember what is due to yourself and
Bosphorus. Remember, when this merchant's daughter comes, you _must_
not treat her as an equal. Courtesy to a woman is all very well, but
rank has greater claims still, especially when you have to deal with
such people as these. Now, remember, you must make _no_ obeisance at
all; and if you advance to meet her more--(_Enter_ GYCIA, IRENE,
MELISSA, _and_ Ladies. IRENE, _seeing_ ASANDER, _faints, and is
withdrawn_, GYCIA _supporting her. Confusion._)--than one step, you
are lost for ever. These are the truly important things.

  _Asan._                          Good Megacles,
  Forewarned I am forearmed.
                     (_Aside_) Thou fluent trickster!
  Fit head of such a State! I would to Heaven
  I had never come!

  _Re-enter_ GYCIA.

                    Nay, nay, I thank the saints
  That I have come. Who is this peerless creature?
  Is this the old man's daughter?

  _Lama._                        Prince Asander,
  This is my daughter, Gycia. Of the prince
  Thou hast heard many a time, my daughter.

  _Gycia (confused)._                       Ay!--

  Indeed I----

  _Lama._      Come, my girl, thou art not used
  To fail of words.

  _Asan._ Nay, sir, I pray you press her not to speak.
  And yet I fain would hear her. Artemis
  Showed not so fair, nor with a softer charm
  Came Hebe's voice.

  _Gycia._           Nay, sir, I did not know
  A soldier could thus use a courtier's tongue.

  _Asan._ If being bred in courts would give me power
  To put my thought in words, then would I fain
  Be courtier for thy sake.

  _Gycia._                  Ah, sir, you jest.
  The ways of courts we know not, but I bid thee
  Good welcome to our city, and I prithee
  Command whatever service our poor Cherson
  Can give whilst thou art here. (_To_ MEGACLES) Pray you, my lord,
  Accompany his Highness and our household
  To the apartments which our serving men
  Have now prepared. They are but poor, I know,
  For one who lives the stately life of kings;
  But such as our poor means can reach they are.

  _Meg._ My lady, I have lived long time in courts,
  But never, in the palaces of Rome,
  Have I seen beauty such as yours, or grace
  More worthy of a crown. (_To_ MELISSA) To you, my lady,
  I bow with most respectful homage. Surely
  The goddess Heré has not left the earth
  While you are here, I humbly take my leave
  For the present of your Highness with a thousand
  Obeisances, and to your gracious father
  Humbly I bend the knee. My Lord Asander,
  I do attend your Highness.

  _Mel._                     What a man!
  What noble manners! What a polished air!
  How poor to such a courtier our rude Court
  And humble manners show!

  _Asan._                  Good Megacles,
  Get me to my chamber--quick, ere I o'erpass
  All reasonable limits. I am sped;
  I am myself no more.

  _Lama._             Farewell awhile.
  We will welcome you at supper.

    [_Exeunt all but_ LAMACHUS _and_ GYCIA.

  _Lama._          Well, my daughter,
  What think you of this hot-brained youth? I' faith,
  I like his soldier's bluntness, and he seemed
  To be a little startled, as I thought,
  By something which he saw when thou didst come.
  Perchance it was the charm of one who came
  Among thy ladies took him.

  _Gycia._                   Nay, my father,
  I think not so indeed.

  _Lama._                Ah! well, I am old,
  And age forgets. But this I tell thee, daughter:
  If in my youth I had seen a young man's gaze
  Grow troubled, and he should start, and his cheek pale,
  A young girl drawing near, I had almost thought
  Him suddenly in love.

  _Gycia._              Oh, nay indeed!
  Who should be favoured thus? There is no woman
  In our poor Cherson worthy that his gaze
  Might rest on her a moment.

  _Lama._                     Ah, my girl,
  Is it thus with thee? They say that love is blind,
  And thou art blind, therefore it may be, Gycia,
  That thou too art in love. Tell me how it is.
  Couldst thou love this man, if he loved thee?

  _Gycia_ (_throwing herself on her father's neck_). Father!

  _Lama._ Say no more, girl. I am not so old as yet
  That I have quite forgotten my own youth,
  When I was young and loved; and if I err not,
  I read love's fluttering signals on thy cheek,
  And in his tell-tale eyes. But listen! Music!
  We must prepare for supper with our guests.


SCENE III.--_A street in Cherson._

  MEGACLES; _afterwards_ MELISSA.

_Megacles._ Well, it is time for the banquet. Somehow, this place
improves on acquaintance, after all. Poor, of course, and rude to a
degree. But truly the Lady Gycia is fair--as fair, indeed, as if she
was the Emperor's daughter. She is a beautiful creature, truly. But
give _me_ that delightful lady-in-waiting of hers, the Lady Melissa.
What grace! what rounded proportions! I like mature beauty. She is as
like the late divine Empress as two peas, and I thought--I dare say I
was wrong, but I really thought--I made an impression. Poor things!
poor things! They can't help themselves. We courtiers really ought to
be very careful not to abuse our power. It is positive cruelty. The
contest is too unequal. It makes one inclined sometimes to put on the
manners of a clown, so as to give them a chance. Nay, nay, you might
as well ask the Ethiopian to change his skin as a courtier his fine
manners. By all the saints! here she comes in _propriâ personâ_.

  _Enter the_ LADY MELISSA.

_Mel._ Heavens! it is the strange nobleman. I am sure I am all of a
flutter.

_Meg._ (_advancing with formal bows_). My lady, I am enchanted (_bows
again; then takes several steps to the right, then to the left, and
bows_). What a wonderful good fortune! Ever since I had the honour to
see you just now, I have only lived in the hope of seeing you again.

_Mel._ (_curtsying_). Oh, my lord, you great courtiers can find
little to interest you in our poor little Court and its humble
surroundings.

_Meg._ Madam, I beg! not a word! I was just thinking that you exactly
resembled the late divine Empress.

_Mel._ Oh, my lord, forbear! The Empress! and I have never been out
of Cherson! You flatter me, you flatter me, indeed. That is the way
with all you courtiers from Constantinople. Now, if you had said that
my Lady Gycia was beautiful----

_Meg._ My dear lady, I do not admire her in the least. She has no
manners, really--nothing, at any rate, to attract a man of the great
world; a mere undeveloped girl, with all the passion to come. No, no,
my good lady, give me a woman who has lived. We courtiers know
manners and breeding when we see them, and yours are simply perfect,
not to say Imperial.

_Mel._ What a magnificent nature! Well, to say the truth, the Lady
Gycia is not at all to my taste. It is a cold, insipid style of
beauty, at the best; and she is as self-willed and as straitlaced as
a lady abbess. I suppose she is well matched with the Prince Asander?

_Meg._ Well, he is a handsome lad enough, and virtuous, but weak, as
youth always is, and pliable. Now, for myself, I am happy to say I
am steadfast and firm as a rock.

_Mel._ Ah, my lord, if all women saw with my eyes, there would not be
such a run after youth. Give me a mature man, who has seen the world
and knows something of life and manners.

_Meg._ What an intelligent creature! Madam, your sentiments do you
credit. I beg leave to lay at your feet the assurance of my entire
devotion.

_Mel._ Oh, my lord, you are too good! Why, what a dear, condescending
creature!--the manners of a Grand Chamberlain and the features of an
Apollo!

_Meg._ Permit me to enrol myself among the ranks of your humble
slaves and admirers (_kneels and kisses her hand_). But hark! the
music, and I must marshal the guests to the banquet. Permit me to
marshal you.

  [_Exeunt with measured steps._


SCENE IV.--_The garden without the banqueting-room. Moonlight. The
sea in the distance, with the harbour._

  ASANDER _and_ GYCIA _descend the steps of the palace slowly together.
  Music heard from within the hall._

  _Asan._ Come, Gycia, let us take the soft sweet air
  Beneath the star of love. The festive lights
  Still burn within the hall, where late we twain
  Troth-plighted sate, and I from out thine eyes
  Drank long, deep draughts of love stronger than wine.
  And still the minstrels sound their dulcet strains,
  Which then I heard not, since my ears were filled
  With the sweet music of thy voice. My sweet,
  How blest it is, left thus alone with love,
  To hear the love-lorn nightingales complain
  Beneath the star-gemmed heavens, and drink cool airs
  Fresh from the summer sea! There sleeps the main
  Which once I crossed unwilling. Was it years since,
  In some old vanished life, or yesterday?
  When saw I last my father and the shores
  Of Bosphorus? Was it days since, or years,
  Tell me, thou fair enchantress, who hast wove
  So strong a spell around me?

  _Gycia._                     Nay, my lord;
  Tell thou me first what magic 'tis hath turned
  A woman who had scoffed so long at love
  Until to-day--to-day, whose blessed night
  Is hung so thick with stars--to feel as I,
  That I have found the twin life which the gods
  Retained when mine was fashioned, and must turn
  To what so late was strange, as the flower turns
  To the sun; ay, though he withers her, or clouds
  Come 'twixt her and her light, turns still to him.
  And only gazing lives.

  _Asan._                Thou perfect woman!
  And art thou, then, all mine? What have I done,
  What have I been, that thus the favouring gods
  And the consentient strength of hostile States
  Conspire to make me happy? Ah! I fear,
  Lest too great happiness be but a snare
  Set for our feet by Fate, to take us fast
  And then despoil our lives.

  _Gycia._                    My love, fear not.
  We have found each other, and no power has strength
  To put our lives asunder.

  _Asan._                   Thus I seal
  Our contract with a kiss.

    [_Kisses her._

  _Gycia._                  Oh, happiness!
  To love and to be loved! And yet methinks
  Love is not always thus. To some he brings
  Deep disappointment only, and the pain
  Of melancholy years. I have a lady
  Who loves, but is unloved. Poor soul! she lives
  A weary life. Some youth of Bosphorus
  Stole her poor heart.

  _Asan._               Of Bosphorus saidst thou?
  And her name is?

  _Gycia._         Irene. Didst thou know her?

  _Asan._ Nay, love, or if I did I have forgot her.

  _Gycia._ Poor soul! to-day when first we met, she saw
  Her lover 'midst thy train and swooned away.

  _Asan._ Poor heart! This shall be seen to. Tell me, Gycia,
  Didst love me at first sight?

  _Gycia._                      Unreasonable,
  To bid me tell what well thou knowest already.
  Thou know'st I did. And when did love take thee?

  _Asan._ I was wrapt up in spleen and haughty pride,
  When, looking up, a great contentment took me,
  Shed from thy gracious eyes. Nought else I saw,
  Than thy dear self.

  _Gycia._            And hadst thou ever loved?

  _Asan._            Never, dear Gycia.
  I have been so rapt in warlike enterprises
  Or in the nimble chase, all my youth long,
  That never had I looked upon a woman
  With thought of love before, though it may be
  That some had thought of me, being a Prince
  And heir of Bosphorus.

  _Gycia._               Not for thyself;
  That could not be. Deceiver!

  _Asan._                      Nay, indeed!

  _Gycia._ Oh, thou dear youth!

  _Asan._                       I weary for the day
  When we our mutual love shall crown with marriage.

  _Gycia._ Not yet, my love, we are so happy now.

  _Asan._ But happier then, dear Gycia.

  _Gycia._                              Nay, I know not
  If I could bear it and live. But hark, my love!
  The music ceases, and the sated guests
  Will soon be sped. Thou must resume thy place
  Of honour for a little. I must go,
  If my reluctant feet will bear me hence,
  To dream of thee the livelong night. Farewell,
  Farewell till morning. All the saints of heaven
  Have thee in keeping!

  _Asan._              Go not yet, my sweet;
  And yet I bid thee go. Upon thy lips
  I set love's seal, thus, thus.

    [_Kisses her. They embrace._

                                 Good night!

  _Gycia._                                   Good night!

    [_Exit_ GYCIA.

    _Enter_ IRENE _unperceived._

  _Asan._ Ah, sweetest, best of women! paragon
  Of all thy sex, since first thy ancestress
  Helen, the curse of cities and of men,
  Marshalled the hosts of Greece! But she brought discord;
  Thou, by thy all-compelling sweetness, peace
  And harmony for strife. What have I done,
  I a rough soldier, like a thousand others
  Upon our widespread plains, to have won this flower
  Of womanhood--this jewel for the front
  Of knightly pride to wear, and, wearing it,
  Let all things else go by? To think that I,
  Fool that I was, only a few hours since,
  Bemoaned the lot which brought me here and bade me
  Leave my own land, which now sinks fathoms deep
  Beyond my memory's depths, and scarce would deign
  To obey thee, best of fathers, when thy wisdom
  Designed to make me blest! Was ever woman
  So gracious and so comely? And I scorned her
  For her Greek blood and love of liberty!
  Fool! purblind fool! there is no other like her;
  I glory being her slave.

  _Irene._ I pray you, pardon me, my Lord Asander.
  I seek the Lady Gycia; is she here?

  _Asan._ No, madam; she has gone, and with her taken
  The glory of the night. But thou dost love her--
  Is it not so, fair lady?

  _Ire._                   Ay, my lord,
  For we have lived together all our lives;
  I could not choose but love.

  _Asan._                      Well said indeed.
  Tell me, and have I seen thy face before?
  A something in it haunts me.

  _Ire._                       Ay, my lord.
  Am I forgot so soon?

  _Asan._              Indeed! Thy name?
  Where have I seen thee?

  _Ire._                  Where? Dost thou, then, ask?

  _Asan._ Ay; in good truth, my treacherous memory
  Betrays me here.

  _Ire._           Thou mayest well forget
  My name, if thou hast quite forgot its owner.

    [_Weeps._

  I am called Irene.

  _Asan._            Strange! the very name
  My lady did relate to me as hers
  Who bears a hopeless love. Weep not, good lady;
  Take comfort. Heaven is kind.

  _Ire._                        Nay, my good lord,
  What comfort? He I love loves not again,
  Or not me, but another.

  _Asan._                 Ah, poor lady!
  I pity you indeed, now I have known
  True recompense of love.

  _Ire._                   Dost thou say pity?
  And pity as they tell's akin to love.
  What comfort is for me, my Lord Asander,
  Who love one so exalted in estate
  That all return of honourable love
  Were hopeless, as if I should dare to raise
  My eyes to Cæsar's self? What comfort have I,
  If lately I have heard this man I love
  Communing with his soul, when none seemed near,
  Betray a heart flung prostrate at the feet
  Of another, not myself; and well I know
  Not Lethe's waters can wash out remembrance
  Of that o'ermastering passion--naught but death
  Or hopeless depths of crime?

  _Asan._                      Lady, I pity
  Thy case, and pray thy love may meet return.

  _Ire._ Then wilt thou be the suppliant to thyself,
  And willing love's requital, Oh, requite it!
  Thou art my love, Asander--thou, none other,
  There is naught I would not face, if I might win thee.
  That I a woman should lay bare my soul;
  Disclose the virgin secrets of my heart
  To one who loves me not, and doth despise
  The service I would tender!

  _Asan._                     Cease, I pray you;
  These are distempered words.

  _Ire._                       Nay, they are true.
  And come from the inner heart. Leave these strange shores
  And her you love. I know her from a child.
  She is too high and cold for mortal love;
  Too wrapt in duty, and high thoughts of State,
  Artemis and Athené fused in one,
  Ever to throw her life and maiden shame
  As I do at thy feet.

    [_Kneels._

  _Asan._              Rise, lady, rise;
  I am not worthy such devotion.

  _Ire._                         Take me
  Over seas; I care not where. I'll be thy slave,
  Thy sea-boy; follow thee, ill-housed, disguised,
  Through hardship and through peril, so I see
  Thy face sometimes, and hear sometimes thy voice,
  For I am sick with love.

  _Asan._                  Lady, I prithee
  Forget these wild words. I were less than man
  Should I remember them, or take the gift
  Which 'tis not reason offers. I knew not
  Thy passion nor its object, nor am free
  To take it, for the vision of my soul
  Has looked upon its sun, and turns no more
  To any lower light.

  _Ire._              My Lord Asander,
  She is not for thee; she cannot make thee happy,
  Nor thou her. Oh, believe me! I am full
  Of boding thoughts of the sure fatal day
  Which shall dissolve in blood the bonds which love
  To-day has plighted. If thou wilt not take me,
  Then get thee gone alone. I see a fire
  Which burns more fierce than love, and it consumes thee.
  Fly with me, or alone, but fly.

  _Asan._                         Irene,
  Passion distracts thy brain. I pray you, seek
  Some mutual love as I. My heart is fixed,
  And gone beyond recall.

    [_Exit._

    _Enter_ THEODORUS _unseen._

  _Ire._ (_weeping passionately_). Disgraced! betrayed!
  Rejected! All the madness of my love
  Flung back upon me, as one spurns a gift
  Who scorns the giver. That I love him still,
  And cannot hate her who has robbed me of him!
  I shall go mad with shame!

  _Theo._                    Great Heaven! sister,
  What words are these I hear? My father's daughter
  Confessing to her shame!

    [IRENE _weeps._

                           Come, tell me, woman;
  I am thy brother and protector, tell me
  What mean these words?

  _Ire._                 Nay, nay, I cannot, brother.
  They mean not what they seem, indeed they do not.

  _Theo._ They mean not what they seem! Thou hast been long
  In Bosphorus, and ofttimes at the Court
  Hast seen the Prince. When he to-day comes hither,
  Thou swoonest at the sight. I, seeking thee,
  Find thee at night alone, he having left thee,
  Lamenting for thy shame. Wouldst have me credit
  Thy innocence? Speak, if thou hast a word
  To balance proofs like these, or let thy silence
  Condemn thee.

  _Ire._ (_after a pause, and slowly, as if calculating consequences_).
  Then do I keep silence, brother,
  And let thy vengeance fall.

  _Theo._                     Oh, long-dead mother,
  Who now art with the saints, shut fast thy ears
  Against thy daughter's shame! These are the things
  That make it pain to live: all precious gifts,
  Honour, observance, virtue, flung away
  For one o'ermastering passion. Why are we
  Above the brute so far, if we keep still
  The weakness of the brute? Go from my sight,
  Thou vile, degraded wretch. For him whose craft
  And wickedness has wronged thee, this I swear--
  I will kill him, if I can, or he shall me.
  I will call on him to draw, and make my sword
  Red with a villain's blood.

  _Ire._ (_eagerly_).         Nay, nay, my brother,
  That would proclaim my shame; and shouldst thou slay him,
  Thou wouldst break thy lady's heart.

  _Theo._                              Doth she so love him?

  _Ire._ Ay, passionately, brother.

  _Theo._                           Oh, just Heaven!
  And oh, confusèd world!
  How are we fettered here! I may not kill
  A villain who has done my sister wrong,
  Since she I love has given her heart to him,
  And hangs upon his life. I would not pain
  My Gycia with the smallest, feeblest pang
  That wrings a childish heart, for all the world.
  How, then, to kill her love, though killing him
  Would rid the world of a villain, and would leave
  My lady free to love? 'Twere not love's part
  To pain her thus, not for the wealth and power
  Of all the world heaped up. I tell thee, sister,
  Thy paramour is safe--I will not seek
  To do him hurt; but thou shalt go to-night
  To my Bithynian castle. Haply thence,
  After long penances and recluse days,
  Thou mayst return, and I may bear once more
  To see my sister's face.

  _Ire._                   Farewell, my brother!
  I do obey; I bide occasion, waiting
  For what the years may bring.

  _Theo._                       Repent thy sin.

END OF ACT II.



ACT III.


SCENE I.--_Cherson, two years after. The palace of_ LAMACHUS.

  ASANDER _and_ GYCIA.

  _Gycia._ What day is this, Asander? Canst thou tell me?

  _Asan._ Not I, my love. All days are now alike;
  The weeks fleet by, the days equivalent gems
  Strung on a golden thread.

  _Gycia._                   Thou careless darling!
  I did not ask thee of the calendar.
  Dost think a merchant's daughter knows not that?
  Nay, nay; I only asked thee if thou knewest
  If aught upon this day had ever brought
  Some great change to thee.

  _Asan._                    Sweetest, dearest wife,
  Our marriage! Thinkest thou I should forget,
  Ay, though the chills of age had froze my brain,
  That day of all my life?

  _Gycia._                 Dost thou regret it?
  I _think_ thou dost not, but 'tis sweet to hear
  The avowal from thy lips?

  _Asan._                   Nay, never a moment.
  And thou?

  _Gycia._ Nay, never for a passing thought.
  I did not know what life was till I knew thee.
  Dost thou remember it, how I came forth,
  Looking incuriously to see the stranger,
  And lo! I spied my love, and could not murmur
  A word of courtesy?

  _Asan._             Dost thou remember
  How I, a feverish and hot-brained youth,
  Full of rash pride and princely arrogance,
  Lifted my eyes and saw a goddess coming----

  _Gycia._ Nay, a weak woman only.

  _Asan._                          And was tamed
  By the first glance?

  _Gycia._             What! are we lovers still,
  After two years of marriage?

  _Asan._                      Is it two years,
  Or twenty? By my faith, I know not which,
  For happy lives glide on like seaward streams
  Which keep their peaceful and unruffled course
  So smoothly that the voyager hardly notes
  The progress of the tide. Ay, two years 'tis,
  And now it seems a day, now twenty years,
  But always, always happy.

    [_Embraces_ GYCIA.

  _Gycia._                  Yet, my love,
  We have known trials too. My honoured sire
  Has gone and left us since.

  _Asan._                     Ay, he had reaped
  The harvest of his days, and fell asleep
  Amid the garnered sheaves.

  _Gycia._                   Dearest, I know
  He loved thee as a son, and always strove
  To fit thee for the place within our State
  Which one day should be thine. Sometimes I think,
  Since he has gone, I have been covetous
  Of thy dear love, and kept thee from the labour
  Of State-craft, and the daily manly toils
  Which do befit thy age; and I have thought,
  Viewing thee with the jealous eyes of love,
  That I have marked some shade of melancholy
  Creep on when none else saw thee, and desired
  If only I might share it.

  _Asan._                   Nay, my love,
  I have been happy truly, though sometimes,
  It may be, I have missed the clear, brisk air
  Of the free plains; the trumpet-notes of war,
  When far against the sky the glint of spears
  Lit by the rising sun revealed the ranks
  Of the opposing host, the thundering onset
  Of fierce conflicting squadrons, and the advance
  Of the victorious hosts. Oh for the vigour
  And freshness of such life! But I have chosen
  To sleep on beds of down, as Cæsar might,
  And live a woman's minion.

  _Gycia._                   Good my husband,
  Thou shouldst not speak thus. I would have thee win
  Thy place in the Senate, rule our Cherson's fortunes,
  Be what my father was without the name,
  And gain that too in time.

  _Asan._                    What! You would have me
  Cozen, intrigue, and cheat, and play the huckster,
  As your republicans, peace on their lips
  And subtle scheming treaties, till the moment
  When it is safe to spring? Would you have me cringe
  To the ignorant mob of churls, through whose sweet voices
  The road to greatness lies? Nay, nay; I am
  A King's son, and of Bosphorus, not Cherson--
  A Scythian more than Greek.

  _Gycia._                    Nay, my good lord,
  Scythian or Greek, to me thou art more dear
  Than all the world beside. Yet will not duty,
  The memory of the dead, the love of country,
  The pride of the great race from which we spring,
  Suffer my silence wholly, hearing thee.
  It is not true that men Athenian-born
  Are of less courage, less of noble nature,
  More crafty in design, less frank of purpose,
  Than are thy countrymen. They have met and fought them,
  Thou knowest with what fate. For polity
  I hold it better that self-governed men
  Should, using freedom, but eschewing license,
  Fare to what chequered fate the will of Heaven
  Reserves for them, than shackled by the chains
  The wisest tyrant, gilding servitude
  With seeming gains, imposes. We are free
  In speech, in council, in debate, in act,
  As when our great Demosthenes hurled back
  Defiance to the tyrant. Nay, my lord,
  Forgive my open speech. I have not forgot
  That we are one in heart and mind and soul,
  Knit in sweet bonds for ever. Put from thee
  This jaundiced humour.
  If State-craft please not, by the headlong chase
  Which once I know thou lovedst. Do not grudge
  To leave me; for to-day my bosom friend,
  After two years of absence, comes to me.
  I shall not feel alone, having Irene.

  _Asan._ Whom dost thou say? Irene?

  _Gycia._                           Yes, the same
  She was crossed in love, poor girl, dost thou remember,
  When we were wed?

  _Asan._           Gycia, I mind it well.
  Send her away--she is no companion for thee;
  She is not fit, I say.

  _Gycia._               What is't thou sayest?
  Thou canst know nought of her. Nay, I remember,
  When I did ask thee if thou knewest her
  At Bosphorus, thou answeredst that thou didst not.

  _Asan._ I know her. She is no fit mate for thee.

  _Gycia._ Then, thou didst know her when thy tongue denied it.

  _Asan._ How 'tis I know her boots not; I forbid
  My wife to know that woman. Send her hence.

  _Gycia._ Nay, nay, my lord, it profits not to quarrel.
  Thou art not thyself. Either thou knew'st her name
  When we were wedded, or unreasoning spleen
  Doth blind thy judgment since. Thou canst not know her
  Who has been absent.

  _Asan._              Ask no more, good wife;
  I give no reason.

  _Gycia._          Nay, indeed, good husband,
  Thou hast no reason, and without good reason
  I will not spurn my friend.

  _Asan._                     Gycia, forgive me;
  I spoke but for our good, and I will tell thee
  One day what stirs within me, but to-day
  Let us not mar our happy memories
  By any shade of discord.

  _Gycia._                 Oh, my love,
  Forgive me if I have seemed, but for a moment,
  To fail in duty. I am all, all thine;
  I have nought but thee to live for. Childish hands
  And baby voices lisping for their mother
  Are not for me, nor thee; but, all in all,
  We joy together, we sorrow together, and last
  Shall die, when the hour comes, as something tells me,
  Both in the selfsame hour.

  _Asan._                    Nay, wife, we are young;
  Our time is not yet come. Let us speak now
  Of what I know thou holdest near thy heart.
  I do remember that it was thy wish
  To celebrate thy father's name and fame
  By some high festal. If thy purpose hold
  For such observance, the sad day which took him
  Returns a short time hence; I will employ
  Whatever wealth is mine to do him honour,
  And thee, my Gycia. Honouring the sire,
  I honour too the child.

  _Gycia._                My love, I thank thee
  For this spontaneous kindness, and I love thee;
  I am all thine own again. Come, let us go;
  Nor spare the wealth wherewith his bounty blest us
  To do fit honour to the illustrious dead.

    [_Exeunt._


SCENE II.--_The same._

  MEGACLES, COURTIERS; _afterwards_ ASANDER.

_Meg._ Well, my lords, two years have passed since we left our
Bosphorus, and I see no sign of our returning there. If it were not
for that delightful Lady Melissa, whose humble slave I am always
(Courtiers _laugh_), I would give all I am worth to turn my back upon
this scurvy city and its republican crew. But my Lord Asander is so
devoted to his fair lady--and, indeed, I can hardly wonder at
it--that there seems no hope of our seeing the old shores again. I
thought he would have been off long ago.

_1st Court._ A model husband the Prince, a paragon of virtue.

_2nd Court._ Well, there is no great merit in being faithful to a
rich and beautiful woman. I think I could be as steady as a rock
under the like conditions.

_3rd Court._ Well, mind ye, it is not every man who could treat the
very marked overtures of the fair Lady Irene as he did. And he had
not seen his wife then, either. No; the man is a curious mixture,
somewhat cold, and altogether constant, and that is not a bad
combination to keep a man straight with the sex. Poor soul! do you
remember how she pursued him at Bosphorus, and how she fainted away
at the wedding? They say she is coming back speedily, in her right
mind. She has been away ever since, no one knows where. That solemn
brother of hers conveyed her away privily.

_1st Court._ I hate that fellow--a canting hypocrite, a solemn
impostor!

_2nd Court._ So say we all. But mark you, if the Lady Irene comes
back, there will be mischief before long. What news from Bosphorus,
my Lord Megacles?

_Meg._ I have heard a rumour, my lord, that his Majesty the King is
ailing.

_1st Court._ Nay, is he? Then there may be a new King and a new
Queen, and we shall leave this dog-hole and live at home like
gentlemen once more.

_3rd Court._ Then would his sacred Majesty's removal be a blessing in
disguise.

_2nd Court._ Ay, indeed would it. Does the Prince know of it?

_Meg._ I have not told him aught, having, indeed, nothing certain to
tell; but he soon will, if it be true. But here his Highness comes.

_Enter_ ASANDER.

My Lord Asander, your Highness's humble servant welcomes you with
effusion.

  [_Bows low._

_Asan._ Well, my good Megacles, and you, my lords. There will be
ample work for you all ere long. The Lady Gycia is projecting a great
festival in memory of her father, and all that the wealth of Cherson
can do to honour him will be done. There will be solemn processions,
a banquet, and a people's holiday. Dost thou not spy some good
ceremonial work there, my good Megacles? Why, thou wilt be as happy
as if thou wert at Byzantium itself, marshalling the processions,
arranging the banquet, ushering in the guests in due precedence, the
shipowner before the merchant, the merchant before the retailer. Why,
what couldst thou want more, old Trusty? [_Laughs._

_Meg._ Ah, my Lord Prince, your Highness is young. When you are as
old as I am, you will not scoff at Ceremony. This is the pleasantest
day that I have spent since your Highness's wedding-day. I thank you
greatly, and will do my best, your Highness.

_Asan._ That I am sure of, good Megacles. Good day, my lords, good
day. [_Exeunt_ MEGACLES _and_ Courtiers.

_Enter_ Messenger.

_Mess._ My Lord Asander, a messenger from Bosphorus has just landed,
bringing this letter for your Highness.

_Asan._ Let me see it. (_Reads_) "Lysimachus to Asander sends
greeting. Thy father is failing fast, and is always asking for his
son. Thou art free, and must come to him before he dies. I have much
to say to thee, having heard long since of a festival in memory of
Lamachus to be held shortly. I will be with thee before then. Be
ready to carry out the plan which I have formed for thy good, and
will reveal to thee. Remember."

                           My father ailing?
  And asks for me, and I his only son
  Chained here inactive, while the old man pines
  In that great solitude which hems a throne,
  With none but hirelings round him.
  Dearest father, I fear that sometimes in the happy years
  Which have come since, my wandering regards,
  Fixed on one overmastering thought, have failed
  To keep their wonted duty. If indeed
  This thing has been, I joy the time has come
  When I may show my love. But I forget!
  The fetters honour binds are adamant;
  I am free no more. Nay, nay, there is no bond
  Can bind a son who hears his father's voice
  Call from a bed of pain. I must go and will,
  Though all the world cry shame on my dishonour;
  And with me I will take my love, my bride,
  To glad the old man's eyes. My mind is fixed;
  I cannot stay, I cannot rest, away
  From Bosphorus. (_Summons_ Messenger) Go, call the Lady Gycia.
  (_Resumes_) Ay, and my oath, I had forgotten it.
  I cannot bear to think what pitiless plot
  Lysimachus has woven for the feast.
  What it may be I know not, but I fear
  Some dark and dreadful deed. 'Twere well enough
  For one who never knew the friendly grasp
  Of hands that once were foemen's. But for me,
  Who have lived among them, come and gone with them,
  Trodden with them the daily paths of life,
  Mixed in their pleasures, shared their hopes and fears
  For two long happy years, to turn and doom
  Their city to ruin, and their wives and children
  To the insolence of rapine? Nay, I dare not.
  I will sail at once, and get me gone for ever.
  I will not tell my love that I am bound
  By her father's jealous fancies to return
  To Bosphorus no more. To break my oath!
  That were to break it only in the word,
  But keep it in the spirit. Surely Heaven
  For such an innocent perjury keeps no pains.
  But here she comes.

    _Enter_ GYCIA.

  _Gycia._           Didst send for me, my lord?

  _Asan._ Gycia, the King is ill, and asks for me;
  He is alone and weak.

  _Gycia._             Then, fly to him
  At once, and I will follow thee. But stay!
  Is he in danger?

  _Asan._         Nay, not presently;
  Only the increasing weight of years o'ersets
  His feeble sum of force.

  _Gycia._                Keeps he his bed?

  _Asan._ Not yet as I have known.

  _Gycia._                        Well then, dear heart,
  We yet may be in time if we should tarry
  To celebrate the honours we have vowed
  To my dead father. This day sennight brings
  The day which saw him die.

  _Asan._                   Nay, nay, my sweet;
  'Twere best we went at once.

  _Gycia._                    My lord, I honour
  The love thou bearest him, but go I cannot,
  Until the feast is done. 'Twould cast discredit
  On every daughter's love for her dead sire,
  If I should leave this solemn festival
  With all to do, and let the envious crowd
  Carp at the scant penurious courtesy
  Of hireling honours by an absent daughter
  To her illustrious dead.

  _Asan._ (_earnestly_). My love, 'twere best
  We both were far away.

  _Gycia._              My lord is pleased
  To speak in riddles, but till reason speaks
  'Twere waste of time to listen.

  _Asan._                        Nay, my wife,
  Such words become thee not, but to obey
  Is the best grace of woman. Were I able,
  I would tell thee all, I fear, for thee and me,
  But cannot.

  _Gycia._   Then, love, thou canst go alone,
  And I must follow thee. The Archon Zetho
  Comes presently, to order what remains
  To make the solemn festival do honour
  To the blest memory of Lamachus.
  Doubtless, he will devise some fitting pretext
  To excuse thy absence.

  _Asan._               Nay, thou must not ask him;
  Breathe not a word, I pray.

  _Gycia._                   My good Asander,
  What is it moves thee thus? See, here he comes.

    _Enter_ ZETHO _and_ Senators.

  _Gycia._ Good morrow, my Lord Zetho! We were late,
  Debating of the coming festival,
  And how my lord the Prince, having ill news
  From Bosphorus, where the King his sire lies sick,
  Can bear no part in it.

  _Zetho._               I grieve indeed
  To hear this news, and trust that Heaven may send
  Swift comfort to his son, whom we all love.

  _Asan._ I thank thee, Archon, for thy courtesy;
  And may thy wish come true.

  _Gycia._ And meantime, since my husband's heart is sore
  For his sire's lonelihood, our purpose is
  That he should sail to-morrow and go hence
  To Bosphorus, where I, the festival
  Being done, will join him later, and devote
  A daughter's loving care and tender hand
  To smooth the old man's sick-bed.

  _Zetho._                         Nay, my daughter,
  I grieve this cannot be. The Prince Asander,
  Coming to Cherson only two years gone,
  Did pledge his solemn word to thy dead father
  That never would he seek, come foul or fair,
  To turn from Cherson homewards, and I marvel
  That never, in the years that since have passed
  Amid the close-knit bonds of wedded lives,
  He has revealed this secret. We who rule
  Our Cherson know through what blind shoals of fortune
  Our ship of state drives onward. And I dare
  not, Holding the rule which was thy father's once,
  Release him from the solemn pledge which keeps
  Our several States bound fast in amity,
  But each from the other separate, and each
  Free from the perils tangled intercourse
  Might breed for both. Indeed, it cannot be;
  I grieve that so it is.

  _Gycia._               My Lord Asander,
  Are these things so indeed?

  _Asan._                    They are, my wife.
  A rash and heedless promise binds me fast,
  Which, in all frankness, I had never dreamt
  Could thus demand fulfilment. Who is there
  More loyal to the State than I? Who is there
  Bound by such precious chains of love and faith
  As is thy husband? If I said no word
  Of this before, it was that I would fain
  Forget this hateful compact. Sir, I beg you
  Let me go hence, and when the old man's sickness
  Is done, as Heaven will have it, take my word
  That I will be a citizen of Cherson
  Again, whate'er may come.

  _Zetho._                 If the King dies,
  Then art thou straightway King of Bosphorus,
  Knowing the strength and weakness of our State,
  And having bound to thee by closest friendship
  Our chiefest citizens. Nay, nay, I dare not
  Relieve thee from the pledge.

  _Asan._                      Thou hoary trickster,
  Speakest thou thus to me?

    [_Draws._

  _Gycia (interposing)._   Great heavens! Asander,
  Knowest thou what thou dost? (_To_ ZETHO) Pardon him, sir.
  He is not himself, I think, but half distraught,
  To bear himself thus madly.

  _Zetho._                   Daughter, the State
  Knows to protect itself from insolence
  And arrogant pride like this, and it is certain
  'Twas a wise caution led thy honoured father
  To stipulate that such ungoverned passion
  Should be cut off from those conspiring forces
  From which combined came danger.

  _Asan._                         Gycia,
  Hearest thou this schemer? Dost thou know indeed
  That I am prisoned here, while my loved father
  Lies on the bed of death? Dost thou distrust me,
  That thou dost speak no word?

  _Gycia._                     My lord, I cannot.
  The measure which my father's wisdom planned
  For the safety of the State, I, a weak woman,
  Am too infirm to judge. Thou didst not tell me,
  Asking that I should fly with thee, the bonds
  By which thy feet were fettered. Had I known
  I never had consented. Had I gone,
  Breaking the solemn ordinance of State,
  I should have left with thee my former love,
  And sailed back broken-hearted. That thou grievest
  There is none knows as I, but oh, my love!
  Though it be hard to bear, yet is grief lighter
  Than broken vows, and blighted honour, and laws
  Made to sustain the State, yet overset
  By one man's will. Dearest, we cannot go--
  Nor thou; the State forbids it. I will pray
  Thy father may grow strong again, and sit
  Here at our hearth a guest; but this is certain--
  To Bosphorus we go not. And I pray you
  Make to my lord, who fills my father's place,
  What reparation thy ungoverned rage
  And hasty tongue demand.

  _Asan._                 Thou cold Greek woman!
  Of this, then, 'twas they warned me--a smooth tongue
  And a cold heart; a brain by logic ruled,
  And not at all by love. Thou hast no pity,
  For pity shapes not into syllogisms;
  Nor can affection ape philosophy,
  Nor natural love put on the formal robe
  Of cold too-balanced State-craft. Hear me, old man,
  And thou too, wife. 'Twere better, ay, far better,
  That I should get me gone, and my wife with me,
  Than be pent here unwilling; but were it better
  Or were it worse, be sure I will not stay
  When duty calls me hence. Wife, wilt thou come?

  _Gycia._ My lord, I cannot.

  _Asan._                    Then, I go alone.

  _Zetho._ Nay, thou shalt not. Ho there! arrest the Prince.

    [Guards _arrest_ ASANDER.

  _Asan._ Unhand me. At your peril.

    [_Draws._

  _Gycia._                         Oh, my husband!

    [_Weeps._


SCENE III.--_A room in the palace._

  IRENE; _afterwards_ GYCIA.

  _Ire._ What! am I mad, or does some devilish power
  Possess me heart and soul? I once loved Gycia;
  I love Asander with o'ermastering love,
  And yet these frequent rumours of dissensions
  Marring the smooth course of their wedded life
  Bring me a swift, fierce joy. If aught befell
  To separate those lovers, then might Fate
  And Chance open for me the golden doors
  That lead to Love's own shrine; and yet I know not
  If any power might melt to mutual love
  That too-cold heart. But still, no other chance
  Is left but this alone: if I should force
  Those loving souls apart, then 'twere my turn.
  Am I a monster, then, to will this wrong?
  Nay, but a lovesick woman only, willing
  To dare all for her passion. Though I loathe
  Those crooked ways, yet love, despite myself,
  Drives me relentless onward.

    _Enter_ GYCIA.

                               Dearest lady,
  Why art thou thus cast down? Some lovers' quarrel,
  To be interred with kisses?

  _Gycia._                    Nay, Irene,
  This is no lovers' quarrel.

  _Ire._                      Tell me, Gycia,
  What was the cause?

  _Gycia._            The King of Bosphorus
  Is ailing, and desires to see his son,
  Who fain would go to him.

  _Ire._                    And thou refusedst
  To let thy lover go?

    [_Laughs mockingly._

  _Gycia._             Nay, 'twas not so;
  But politic reasons of the State forbad
  The Prince's absence.

  _Ire._                Well, whate'er the cause,
  The old man fain would see his son, and thou
  Deniedst.

  _Gycia._ I denied him what the State
  Denied him, and no more.

  _Ire._                   The State denied him!
  What does it profit thee to be the daughter
  Of Lamachus, if thou art fettered thus
  In each wish of thy heart? If it were I,
  And he my love, I would break all bonds that came
  Between me and my love's desire.

  _Gycia._                         Irene,
  Thou know'st not what thou say'st.

  _Ire._                             It may be so;
  _I_ do not love by halves.

  _Gycia._                   I do not need
  That thou shouldst tutor me, who am so blest
  In love's requital. I have nought to learn
  From thee, who bearest unrequited love
  For one thou wilt not name.

  _Ire._                      Wouldst thou that I
  Should name him? Nay, it were best not, believe me,
  For me and thee.

  _Gycia._         Why, what were it to me,
  Thou luckless woman?

  _Ire._               What were it to thee?
  More than thou knowest, much.

  _Gycia._                      And therefore 'tis
  That thou dost dare to tutor me to deal
  With the man I love, my husband.

  _Ire._                           Gycia,
  Love is a tyrannous power, and brooks no rival
  Beside his throne. Dost thou, then, love indeed,
  Who art so filled with duty?

  _Gycia._                     Do I love?
  Ay, from the depths of my enamoured heart!
  I am all his own to make or break at will.
  Only my duty to the State my mother
  And the thrice-blessèd memory of my sire
  Forbids that I should sink my soul in his,
  Or, loving, grow unworthy. But, indeed,
  Thou pleadest his cause as if thyself did love him.

  _Ire._ As if I loved!--as if!

  _Gycia._                      Indeed, 'tis well
  Thou didst not, were he free, for he, it seems,
  Has known of thee, and speaks not kindly words.
  I know not wherefore.

  _Ire._                Did he speak of me?

  _Gycia._ Ay, that he did.

  _Ire._                    And what said he?

  _Gycia._                                    I think
  'Twere best thou didst not know.

  _Ire._                           Tell me, I prithee;
  I can bear to hear.

  _Gycia._            'Twas but a hasty word,
  And best forgotten.

  _Ire._              But I prithee tell me,
  What said he?

  _Gycia._      That 'twere best I were alone
  Than commercing with thee, since thou wert not
  My fit companion.

  _Ire._            Said he that, the coward?

  _Gycia._ I am his wife, Irene.

  _Ire._                         What care I?
  I have loved this man too well, before he saw thee.
  There, thou hast now my secret. I have loved him,
  And he loved me, and left me, and betrayed me.
  Was it for him to brand me with this stain?
  Unfit for thy companion! If I be,
  Whose fault is that but his, who found me pure
  And left me what I am?

  _Gycia._               What! dost thou dare
  Malign my husband thus? I have known his life
  From his own lips, and heard no word of thee.

  _Ire._ He did confess he knew me.

  _Gycia._                          Ay, indeed,
  Not that he did thee wrong.

  _Ire._                      My Lady Gycia,
  Did ever man confess he wronged a woman?
  If thou believe not me, who am indeed
  Disgraced, and by his fault, thou once didst love
  My brother Theodorus--send for him.
  He is without, and waits me. Ask of him,
  Who has long known my secret.

  _Gycia._                      I will ask him.
  Thou wretched woman, since thou art polluted,
  Whate'er my love may be, go from my sight,
  And send thy brother. Then betake thyself
  To a close prison in the haunted Tower,
  Till I shall free thee. Out of my sight, I say,
  Thou wanton!

    [_Exit_ IRENE.

  What have I done, how have I sinned, that Heaven
  Tortures me thus? How can I doubt this creature
  Speaks something of the truth? Did he not say
  At first he never knew that wanton's name?
  Did he not afterwards betray such knowledge
  Of her and of her life as showed the lie
  His former words concealed? And yet how doubt
  My dear, who by two years of wedded love
  Has knit my soul to his? I know how lightly
  The world holds manly virtue, but I hold
  The laws of honour are not made to bind
  Half of the race alone, leaving men licensed
  To break them when they will; but dread decrees
  Binding on all our kind. But oh, my love,
  I will not doubt thee, till conviction bring
  Proofs that I dare not doubt!

    _Enter_ THEODORUS.

  _Theo._                       My Lady Gycia,
  I come at thy command.

  _Gycia._               Good Theodorus,
  Thou lovedst me once, I think?

  _Theo._                        I loved thee _once_!
  Oh, heaven!

  _Gycia._    I am in great perplexity
  And sorrow, and I call upon thy friendship
  To succour me, by frank and free confession
  Of all thou knowest.

  _Theo._              I can refuse thee nothing,
  Only I beg that thou wilt ask me nought
  That answered may give pain.

  _Gycia._                     Nay, it is best
  That I know all. I could not bear to live
  In ignorance, and yet I fear to grieve thee
  By what I ask. Thy sister late has left me----

  _Theo._ Ask not of her, I pray; I cannot answer.

  _Gycia._ Nay, by thy love I ask it. Answer me.

  _Theo._ Have me excused, I pray.

  _Gycia._                         Then, I am answered.
  My husband, she affirms, betrayed her honour
  In Bosphorus, and now denies the crime.
  Thou knowest it true.

  _Theo._               Alas! I cannot doubt it.
  I have known all for years.

  _Gycia._                    Ye saints of heaven!
  Is there no shame or purity in men,
  Nor room for trust in them? I am a wife
  Who thought she did possess her husband wholly,
  Virgin with virgin. I have thought I knew
  His inmost heart, and found it innocent;
  And yet while thus I held him, while I lay
  Upon his bosom, all these happy hours
  The venom of a shameful secret lurked
  Within his breast. Oh, monster of deceit,
  Thou never lovedst as I! That I should give
  The untouched treasure of my virgin heart
  For some foul embers of a burnt-out love,
  And lavish on the waste a wanton left
  My heart, my soul, my life! Oh, it is cruel!
  I will never see him more, nor hear his voice,
  But die unloved and friendless.

    [_Weeps._

  _Theo. (kneeling at her feet)._ Dearest Gycia,
  Thou canst not want a brother, friend, and lover
  While I am living. Oh, my love, my dear,
  Whom I have loved from childhood, put away
  This hateful marriage, free thee from the bonds
  Of this polluted wedlock, and make happy
  One who will love thee always!

    _Enter_ LYSIMACHUS _unperceived._

  _Gycia._                       Rise, Theodorus.
  I have no love to give. I am a wife.
  Such words dishonour me.

  _Theo._                  Forgive me, Gycia.
  I know how pure thy soul, and would not have thee
  Aught other than thou art.

  _Gycia._                   I do forgive thee.
  'Twas love confused thy reason; but be brave.
  Set a guard on thy acts, thy words, thy thoughts.
  'Tis an unhappy world!

    [THEODORUS _kisses her hand and exit._

  _Lys._                 Most noble lady,
  Forgive me if at an unfitting time,
  Amid the soft devoirs of gallantry,
  I thus intrude unwilling; but I seek
  The Prince Asander.

  _Gycia._            I have nought to hide
  My husband might not know.

  _Lys._                     Then, thou art, doubtless,
  His wife, the Lady Gycia. Good my lady,
  With such a presence to become a crown,
  We would you were at Bosphorus.

  _Gycia._                        'Tis clear
  Thou art a stranger here, or thou wouldst know
  That never would I leave my native city
  To win the crown of Rome.

  _Lys._                    Madam, 'tis pity.

  _Gycia._ Sir, this is courtly talk. You came to see
  My husband; I will order that they send him
  At once to you.

    [_Exit_ GYCIA.

  _Lys._ That was indeed good fortune brought me hither
  When her lover knelt to her. I do not wonder
  That kneel he should, for she is beautiful
  As Helen's self. There comes some difference
  Between her and Asander, and 'twere strange
  If I might not so work on't as to widen
  The breach good fortune sends me, and to bind,
  Through that which I have seen, the boy her husband
  To execute my will.

    _Enter_ ASANDER.

  _Asan._          Lysimachus,
  I am rejoiced to see thee.

  _Lys._                       Good my lord,
  How goes the world with thee? Thou art in mien
  Graver than thou wast once.

  _Asan._                     I am ill at ease!
  I am ill at ease! How does the King my father?

  _Lys._ Alas! sir, he is ailing, and I fear
  Will never mend.

  _Asan._          Is he in present danger?

  _Lys._ Ay, that he is. A month or less from this
  May see the end.

  _Asan._          Keeps he his bed as yet?

  _Lys._ Nay, not yet, when I left him; but his mind
  Turns always to his absent son with longing,
  And sometimes, as it were 'twixt sleep and waking
  I hear him say, "Asander, oh, my son!
  Shall I not see thee more?"

  _Asan._                     Oh, my dear father!
  And dost thou love me thus, who have forgot thee
  These two long years? Belovèd, lonely life!
  Belovèd failing eyes! Lysimachus,
  I must go hence, and yet my honour binds me.
  O God, which shall I choose? They do forbid me--
  The ruler of this place and that good woman
  Who is my wife, but holds their cursèd State
  More than my love--to go.

  _Lys._                    My prince, I come
  To find a way by which thou mayst go free
  From that which binds thee fast. This festival
  To the dead Lamachus will give the occasion
  To set thee free. If thou dost doubt to break
  Thy word, yet doth a stronger, straiter chain
  Bind thee--thy oath. Thou hast not forgot thy oath
  To Bosphorus?

  _Asan._       Nay, I forget it not.
  But what is it thou wouldst of me?

  _Lys._                              Asander,
  The night which ends the festival shall see us
  Masters of Cherson.

  _Asan._             Nay, but 'twere dishonour
  To set upon a friendly State from ambush--
  'Twere murder, and not battle.

  _Lys._                         Art thou false
  To thy own land and to thy dying father?

  _Asan._ That I am not; but never could I bear
  To play the midnight thief, and massacre
  Without announcement of legitimate war
  Whom daily I have known. My wife I love
  With all the love of my soul. If she seem cold
  When any word is spoken which may touch
  The safety of the State, think you she would love
  The husband who destroyed it? All my heart
  Is in her keeping.

  _Lys._             It is well indeed
  To have such faith. Doubtless the Lady Gycia
  Returns this pure affection.

  _Asan._                      I would doubt
  The saints in heaven sooner than her truth,
  Which if I doubted, then the skies might fall,
  The bounds of right and wrong might be removed,
  The perjurer show truthful, and the wanton
  Chaste as the virgin, and the cold, pure saint
  More foolish than the prodigal who eats
  The husks of sense--it were all one to me;
  I could not trust in virtue.

  _Lys._                       Thou art changed
  Since when thy ship set sail from Bosphorus;
  Thou didst not always think with such fond thought
  As now thou dost. Say, didst thou find thy bride
  Heart-whole as thou didst wish? Had she no lover
  Ere yet thou camest?

  _Asan._              Nay, nay; I found my wife
  Virgin in heart and soul.

  _Lys._                    My Lord Asander,
  Art thou too credulous here? What if I saw her
  On that same spot, not half an hour ago,
  In tears, and kneeling at her feet a gallant
  Noble and comely as a morn in June,
  Who bade her break, with passionate words of love,
  Her hateful marriage vows, and make him blest
  Who must for ever love?

  _Asan._                 Thou sawest my wife
  Gycia, my pearl of women, my life, my treasure?
  Nay, nay, 'tis some sick dream! Thou art mistaken.
  Who knelt to her?

  _Lys._            She called him Theodorus.

  _Asan._ Irene's brother! Who was it who said
  He loved her without hope? Lysimachus,
  What is it that thou sawest? Come, 'tis a jest!
  Kneeling to Gycia, praying her to fly!
  Nay, nay, what folly is this?

    [_Laughs._

  _Lys._                        My lord, I swear
  It is no jest indeed, but solemn earnest.
  I saw him kneel to her; I heard the passion
  Burn through his voice.

  _Asan._                 And she? What did my lady?
  She did repulse him sternly?

  _Lys._                       Nay, indeed,
  She wept; was greatly moved, and whispered to him,
  "I am a wife."

  _Asan._        Peace, peace! I will not hear
  Another word. How little do they know thee,
  My white, pure dove! My Lord Lysimachus,
  Some glamour has misled thee.

  _Lys._                        Well, my lord,
  I should rejoice to think it, but I cannot
  Deny my eyes and ears. Is not this noble
  The brother of the lady who was once
  At Bosphorus at Court, and now attends
  The Lady Gycia?

  _Asan._         Ay, indeed he is.

  _Lys._ Well, she is near at hand; if thy belief
  Inclines not to my tale--which yet is true--
  Couldst thou not ask of her if ere your marriage
  Her brother was enamoured of your wife,
  And she of him?

  _Asan._         That might I do indeed.
  But, sooth to say, I would not speak again
  With her you name; and it may be indeed,
  Since well I know her, that the Lady Gycia,
  Who is angered with her for what cause I know not,
  Might well resent the converse.

  _Lys._                          Prince Asander,
  There is no man so blind as he who closes
  His eyes to the light and will not have it shine,
  As thou dost now.

  _Asan._           Then will I see this lady,
  Though knowing it is vain.

    [_Exit_ ASANDER.

  _Lys._                     I do not know
  What he will hear, but this at least I know:
  That woman loves him, and will lie to sow
  Dissension 'twixt these lovers--which accomplished,
  The rest is easy, and I hold this Cherson
  In the hollow of my hand. Ha! a good thought.
  I will send a message to the Lady Gycia
  Which shall ensure't. If she mislikes her friend,
  It is odds of ten to one some jealous humour
  Has caused it, or may grow of it.

    [_Writes._

                                    "Dear lady,
  Thou art wronged; the Prince Asander presently
  Is with Irene alone. Seek them, and wring
  Confession of their fault."

    [_Summons a_ Messenger.

                              Ho there! convey
  These to the Lady Gycia, but stay not
  To tell her whence they come.

  _Mess._                       I go, my lord.


SCENE IV.--IRENE'S _prison._

  IRENE; _afterwards_ ASANDER _and_ GYCIA.

  _Ire._ To think that once I loved that haughty woman!
  Ah, that was long ago, before love came
  To tear our lives asunder. Though her power
  Can pen me here a prisoner, yet I know
  That I have pierced her heart. Oh, it is sweet
  To be revenged, and know that vengeance brings
  Victory in its train! If I had power
  To make Asander jealous of this wonder,
  Then all were easy. But I know no means
  Whereby from this strait prison I might sow
  Suspicion of her who has never given
  A shadow of cause.

  _Attendant._       The Lord Asander comes.

    _Enter_ ASANDER.

  _Asan._ Lady, I grieve that thou art in this place,
  And fain would set thee free. Tell me what cause
  Has brought thee hither.

  _Ire._                   Ask me not, my lord;
  I cannot tell thee.

  _Asan._             Nay, but know I must,
  To plead thy cause.

  _Ire._              'Twas too great love of thee,
  The love which thou didst spurn, that brought me here.

  _Asan._ But how should that be so?

  _Ire._                             The Lady Gycia,
  Holding thee to thy promise that thou wouldst not
  Go hence--no, not to close thy father's eyes--
  Took umbrage that I spoke with scant respect
  Of such unreasoning and unnatural bond
  As that which she approves.

  _Asan._                     Then am I grateful
  For thy good-will, and grieve that it should bring thee
  To pine a prisoner here, and will essay
  What reason can to free thee.

  _Ire._                        Thanks, my lord,
  I would that _thou_ wert free. I knew the King,
  And did receive much fatherly affection
  From that most reverend man. I grieve to hear
  That he lies sick, and would rejoice to tend him
  As if I were a daughter.

  _Asan._                  Gentle lady,
  No other voice of sympathy than thine
  Have I yet heard in Cherson, and I thank thee
  For thy good-will.

  _Ire._             'Tis always thine, my lord,
  And more, though I should end my wretched days
  In prison for thy sake.

  _Asan._                 I thank thee, lady,
  And fain would ask of thee a greater kindness:
  I would that thou wouldst tell me of thy brother.

  _Ire._ My brother Theodorus? What of him?

  _Asan._ This only. Did he, ere I knew my wife,
  Bear towards her a great though innocent love?

  _Ire._ A great though innocent love? Ay, a great love,
  For certain. Spoke she not of it to thee?

  _Asan._ No word!

  _Ire._           Ah! yet, maybe, 'twas innocent--Nay,
  I believe it, though she spoke not of it,
  And 'tis the wont of wives to laugh and boast
  Of innocent conquests.

  _Asan._                Nay, she spoke no word.

  _Ire._ And did no other of thy friends at Cherson
  Tell thee? Why, 'twas the talk of all the city
  How close they grew together, till thy coming
  And the necessities of Cherson turned
  Her eyes from him to thee.

  _Asan._                    And does he still
  Bear love for her?

  _Ire._             And does he still bear love?
  Ay, passionate love. The heart which truly loves
  Puts not its love aside for ends of State,
  Or marriage bonds, or what the dullard law
  Suffers or does not suffer, but grows stronger
  For that which seeks to thwart it.

  _Asan._                            And did she
  My wife return this love?

  _Ire._                    Ay, so 'twas said.
  Ask me no more, I pray!

          _Enter_ GYCIA _unperceived._

  _Asan._                 Nay, by the love
  Thou bearest to me, speak!

  _Gycia._                   My Lord Asander,
  What dost thou with this woman thus alone?

  _Asan._ 'Twere best thou didst not ask.

  _Gycia._                                I have a right
  I will be answered. First, thou didst deny
  Thou knewest aught of her; then said her nature
  Was such I might not call her friend, or live
  With her within four walls; and now, her fault--
  Which she herself proclaimed--penning her here
  In a close prison, thou my husband comest
  To comfort her, 'twould seem--to travel o'er
  Again the old foul paths and secretly
  To gloat on the old passion.

  _Asan._                      Nay, I came
  Not for this cause, but one which I will tell thee.
  I came to question of thy former love.

  _Gycia._ To question _her_ of _me_?

  _Asan._                             To know the cause
  That made my wife, scarce one short hour ago,
  Within my home, when hardly I had left her,
  Receive alone a lover kneeling to her
  With words of passionate love, and whisper to him,
  "I am a wife."

  _Gycia._       Hast thou no shame, Asander,
  To speak such words to me before this woman,
  Who knows her brother's life?

  _Ire._                        Nay, prithee, madam,
  Appeal not to me thus; I could say much
  On which I would keep silence.

  _Gycia._                       Thou base woman,
  And thou poor dupe or most perfidious man,
  It were to honour ye to make defence
  Against a wanton and her paramour;
  But thee, Asander, never will I take
  To my heart again, till thou hast put from thee
  This lying accusation, and dost ask
  Pardon that thou hast dared with this base wretch
  To impugn my honour.

  _Asan._              Thou hast said no word
  Of answer to my charge; thy bold defiance
  Argues thy guilt.

  _Gycia._          My guilt? And canst thou dare
  To say this thing to me? I will speak no word;
  Denial were disgrace. Sir, I will have you
  Leave this place quickly.

  _Asan._                   Madam, I obey you.

    [_Exit._

  _Gycia._ And I too go.

    [_Exit._

  _Ire._                 I hold these hapless fools
  In the hollow of my hand.


SCENE V.--_Outside the palace._

  LYSIMACHUS _and three_ Courtiers; _afterwards_ ASANDER.

_Lys._ My lords, what have you to report? Have the men arrived?

_1st Court._ For a week past they have been arriving at the rate of
fifty a day. The ships anchor in due course. At dead of night, when
everything is still, the merchandise is landed and conveyed well
disguised to the great storehouses of Lamachus' palace, with good
store of arms and provisions.

_2nd Court._ Yes, and by the day of the festival we shall have more
than five hundred well-armed men within the walls, who, while the
people are feasting, will bear down all opposing forces and open the
gates to the larger body, who will lie concealed in the grain-ships
in the harbour.

_Lys._ Does no one suspect, think you, as yet?

_1st Court._ Not a soul. The merchandise is landed at dead of night.

_3rd Court._ Does the Prince know?

_Lys._ Not yet, not a word. I can't trust him with his blind love for
his wife.

_3rd Court._ What if he will not be of us?

_Lys._ Then he shall be put under hatches at once for Bosphorus, and
may take his wife with him if he pleases.

_1st Court._ But will he pardon the deed?

_Lys._ The lad is a good lad enough, but weak as water. The world
always pardons successful enterprises. Besides, I am in great hopes
that he has so quarrelled with the ruler of Cherson, and may be,
moreover, so out of conceit with his wife, that we can do as we will
with him.

_2nd Court._ But be prudent, my Lord Lysimachus, I beg, for we know
not how far he is with us, and if he is against us now, it may take
more than we know to keep our heads on our shoulders.

_Lys._ My lords, you shall not lose a drop of your blood. But here is
my Lord Asander. He looks cast down enough, in all conscience.

  _Enter_ ASANDER.

Well, Prince, hast thou seen the lady?

_Asan._ Speak not to me of her, I pray. I must leave this accursed
place at once and for ever, and must take my wife with me. Once in
Bosphorus, I may know again the happiness which is denied me here. I
will not stay here a day. Is there any ship from Bosphorus in
harbour? Get me away to-night secretly, and the Lady Gycia with me.

_Lys._ My lord, there are many ships here from Bosphorus, but none
empty or which can be spared now; but it wants but two days to the
festival, and if thou wilt tarry until then, it may be we can so
arrange that either thou mayst set sail for Bosphorus at your will or
bring Bosphorus hither at will.

_Asan._ What do these words mean? You speak in riddles. I care not
what becomes of me, but remember my honour, Lysimachus, my honour! If
any scheme against the State of Cherson is in your mind, I will have
none of it. I want nothing of these people, only to be allowed to
turn my back upon them and their intrigues for ever, and to carry the
wife whom I love far away from the air of chicane and base deceit
which makes this Cherson a hell.

  _Lys._ My Lord Asander, thou hast not forgot
  Thy oath which thou didst swear ere first you left
  Our Bosphorus, that, come what fate should come,
  Thou wouldst not forget her. Now, as Fate would have it,
  These gentlemen and I, hearing report
  Of the grand festival which now approaches,
  Have ta'en such measures as may make our city
  Mistress of this her rival. Day by day
  Ships laden deep with merchandise cast anchor
  By Lamachus's palace, and unload
  At dead of night their tale of armèd men,
  And by to-morrow night, which is the eve
  Of the feast, five hundred men-at-arms or more
  Will there lie hid. These, when the festival
  Has spent itself, and the drowsed citizens,
  Heavy with meat and wine, are fast asleep,
  Will issue forth at midnight and will seize
  The guardians of the gates, and throw them open
  To an o'erwhelmmg force which fills the ships
  Which lie within the harbour. For the rest,
  Cherson is ours, thou free to go or stay,
  King if thou wilt; but this, my lord, know well--
  If thou hast even no reverence for thy oath,
  No power on earth can free thee from thy bonds
  Or speed thee hence, if still this cursèd State
  Keeps its free power. Therefore, look well to it.

  _Asan._ I cannot do this thing. I am no thief
  Or midnight murderer, but a prince and soldier.
  Place me in open battle, and I care not
  For bloodshed; but this murderous intrigue,
  I will have none o't.

  _Lys._                Nay, my lord, in sooth,
  Why think of bloodshed? If our scheme go right
  (And nought can mar it now), what need of blood?
  These smooth knaves, though they fight behind their walls
  With cunning enginery, yet when they see
  Our army in their streets, will straight grow prudent
  And hug discretion. But, indeed, my lord,
  We have gone too far to pause, and if thou like not
  Our scheme, which makes for thee and for our State,
  We cannot risk that thou denounce our plan,
  And therefore, if thou wilt not join with us,
  The safety of ourselves and of the State
  Holds thee a prisoner pent in durance vile
  Till victory is ours, and thou mayst take
  The fruit of others' daring, while thy wife
  Deserts her doubting and dishonoured lord
  For one who dares to act and play his part
  As a man should.

  _Asan._ (_after hesitation_). I do not hold with you,
  That a man's oath can bind him to his God
  To do what else were wrong. Yet, since you swear
  Your purpose is not bloodshed, and my will
  Is impotent to stay your choice, and chiefly
  Because I am cast down and sick at heart,
  And without any trust in God or man,
  I do consent to your conspiracy,
  Loving it not.

  _Lys._         There spoke my lord the Prince.
  We will succeed or die.

  _Asan._                 I would sooner die.



ACT IV.


SCENE I.--_Cherson. Irene's prison._

  IRENE; _then the Gaoler's_ Child; _afterwards_ GYCIA.

  _Ire._ Ah me! The heaviness of prisoned days!
  Heigho! 'Tis weary work in prison here.
  What though I know no loss but liberty,
  Have everything at will--food, service, all
  That I should have, being free--yet doth constraint
  Poison life at its spring; and if I thought
  This woman's jealous humour would endure,
  I would sooner be a hireling set to tend
  The kine upon the plains, in heat or cold,
  Chilled through by the sharp east, scorched by the sun,
  So only I might wander as I would
  At my own will, than weary to be free
  From this luxurious cell. Hark!

    [_The tramp of armed men is heard._

                                  What was that sound?
  I could swear I heard the measured tramp of men
  And ring of mail, yet is it but illusion.
  Last night I thought I heard it as I lay
  Awake at dead of night. Mere fantasy
  Born of long solitude, for here there are
  No soldiers nor mailed feet.

    [_Again heard._

                               Hark! once again.
  Nay, I must curb these fancies.

    _Enter_ Child.

  _Child._                        Gentle lady.

  _Ire._ Speak, little one. Come hither.

  _Child._                               Gentle lady,
  My father, who is Warder of this tower,
  Bade me come hither and ask thee if thou wouldst
  That I should hold thy distaff, or might render
  Some other service.

  _Ire._              Ay, child; a good thought.
  Bring me my spinning-wheel.

    [Child _brings it._

  _Ire. (spinning)._ The light is fading fast, but I would choose
  This twilight, if thou wilt not be afraid
  Of the darkness, little one.

  _Child._                     Nay, that I am not,
  With one so good as thou.

  _Ire._                    Nay, child, it may be
  I am not all thou think'st me.

  _Child._                       But, dear lady,
  Are not all noble ladies good?

  _Ire._                         Not all,
  Nor many, maybe.

  _Child._         To be sure they are not,
  Else were they not imprisoned.

  _Ire._                         Little one,
  Not all who pine in prison are not good,
  Nor innocent who go free.

  _Child._                  The Lady Gycia,
  Is she not good?

  _Ire._           It may be that she is.
  'Tis a vile world, my child.

  _Child._                     Nay, I am sure
  The Lady Gycia is as white and pure
  As are the angels. When my mother died
  She did commend me to her, and she promised
  To keep me always.

  _Ire._             But she sent me here.

  _Child._ Ah! lady, then I fear thou art not good.
  I am sorry for thee.

  _Ire._               So, my child, am I.

  [_The tramp of armed feet is heard again._

  _Child._ Ah! lady, what is that? I am afraid.
  What means that noise?

  _Ire._                 What didst thou hear, my child?

  _Child._ A tramp of armèd men and ring of mail.

  _Ire._ Then, 'tis no fancy of my weary brain.
  If it comes again I must inquire into it.
  'Tis passing strange. Be not afraid, my child.
  'Twas but the wind which echoed through the void
  Of the vast storehouses below us. Come,

    [_Spinning._

  Let us to spinning. Twirl and twirl and twirl;
  'Tis a strange task.

  _Child._             Lady, I love it dearly.
  My mother span, and I would sit by her
  The livelong day.

  _Ire._            Didst ever hear the tale
  Of the Fates and how they spin?

  _Child._                        I do not think so.
  Wilt tell me?

  _Ire._        There were three weird sisters once,
  Clotho and Lachesis and Atropos,
  Who spun the web of fate for each new life,
  Sometimes, as I do now, a brighter thread
  Woven with the dark, and sometimes black as night.
  Until at last came Atropos and cut
  The fine-worn life-thread thus.

  [_Cuts the thread; the head of the spindle rolls away._

  _Child._                        And hast thou cut
  Some life-thread now?

  _Ire._                My child, I am no Fate,
  And yet I know not; but the spindle's head
  Rolled hence to yonder corner. Let us seek it.
  Hast found it?

  _Child._       Nay, there is so little light.
  I think that it has fallen in the crevice
  Beneath yon panel.

  _Ire._             Stoop and seek it, child.
  Perchance the panel slides, and then, it may be,
  We shall let in the light.

    [_Draws back the panel and discovers a bright light, files of
    armed men, and_ ASANDER _in the midst._

  _Child._                   Ay, there it is;
  We have it, we have found it.

    [_Sliding panel back again._

  _Ire._                        What have we found?
  What have we found? Yes, little one, 'tis found!
  Run away now--I fain would be alone--
  And come back presently.

    [_Kisses_ Child, _who goes._

                           These were the sounds
  I heard and thought were fancy's. All is clear
  As is the blaze of noon. The Prince Asander
  Is traitor to the State, and will o'erwhelm it
  When all the citizens are sunk in sleep
  After to-morrow's feast. Well, what care I?
  He is not for me, whether we call him King
  Or Archon; and for these good men of Cherson,
  What is their fate to me? If he succeed,
  As now he must, since no one knows the secret,
  'Twill only be a change of name--no more.
  The King and Queen will hold a statelier Court
  And live contented when the thing is done,
  And that is all. For who will call it treason
  When victory crowns the plot? But stay! a gleam
  Of new-born hope. What, what if it should fail
  As I could make it fail? What if this woman,
  Full of fantastic reverence for the dead,
  And nourished on her cold republican dream,
  Should learn the treason ere 'twas done and mar it?
  Would not Asander hate her for the failure?
  And she him for the plot? I know her well.
  I know her love for him, but well I know
  She is so proud of her Athenian blood
  And of this old republic, she would banish
  Her love for less than this. Once separated,
  The Prince safe over seas in Bosphorus,
  His former love turned to injurious pride,
  I might prevail! I would!

    _Re-enter_ CHILD.

                            Nay, little one,
  We will spin no more to-day. I prithee go
  And seek the Lady Gycia. Say to her,
  By all the memory of our former love
  I pray that she will come to me at once.
  Lose not a moment.

    [_Exit_ Child.

                     Hark! the tramp again;
  Again the ring of mail. I wonder much
  If she shall hear it first, or first the eye
  Shall slay her love within her.

    _Enter_ GYCIA.

  _Gycia._                        Thou dost ask
  My presence; wherefore is it?

  _Ire._                        Gycia,
  Thou dost not love me, yet would I requite
  Thy wrong with kindness. That thy love was false
  To thee, thou knowest, but it may be still
  There is a deeper falsehood than to thee,
  And thou shalt know it. Dost thou hear that sound?
  [The tramp of men again heard.
  What means it, think you?

  _Gycia._                  Nay, I cannot tell.
  'Tis like the tramp of armèd men.

  _Ire._                            It is;
  And who are they?

  _Gycia._          Young citizens of Cherson,
  Maybe, rehearsing for to-morrow's pageant
  And the procession.

    [_Going._

  _Ire._              Stay, thou stubborn woman,
  Canst bear to see, though the sight blight thy life?

  _Gycia._ I know not what thou wouldst, but I can bear it.

  _Ire._ Though it prove thy love a traitor?

  _Gycia._                                   That it will not!

  _Ire._ Then, make no sound, but see what I will show thee.
  Look now! Behold thy love!

    [_Draws back panel, and discovers_ ASANDER _with the
    soldiers of Bosphorus marching._ ASANDER'S _voice heard._

  _Asan._                    At stroke of midnight
  To-morrow night be ready.

  _Soldiers._               Ay, my lord.

    [GYCIA _tottering back._ IRENE _slides back the panel,
    and_ GYCIA _sets her back against it, half fainting_;
    IRENE _regarding her with triumph._

  _Gycia._ Was that my husband? and those men around him
  Soldiers of Bosphorus, to whom he gave
  Some swift command? What means it all, ye saints?
  What means it? This the husband of my love,
  Upon whose breast I have lain night by night
  For two sweet years--my husband whom my father
  Loved as a son, whose every thought I knew,
  Or deemed I did, lurking in ambush here
  Upon the eve of our great festival,
  Scheming some bloody treachery to take
  Our Cherson in the toils? Oh, 'tis too much;
  I cannot trust my senses! 'Twas a dream!

  _Ire._ No dream, but dreadful truth!

  _Gycia._                             Thou cruel woman
  How have I harmed thee, thou shouldst hate me thus?
  But 'twas no dream. Why was it else that he,
  But for some hateful treachery, devised
  This festival? Why was it that he grew
  So anxious to go hence and take me with him,
  But that guilt made him coward, and he feared
  To see his work? Oh, love for ever lost,
  And with it faith gone out! what is't remains
  But duty, though the path be rough and trod
  By bruised and bleeding feet? Oh, what is it
  Is left for me in life but death alone,
  Which ends it?

  _Ire._         Gycia, duty bids thee banish
  Thy love to his own State, and then disclose
  The plot thou hast discovered. It may be
  That thou mayst join him yet, and yet grow happy.

  _Gycia._ Never! For duty treads another path
  Than that thou knowest. I am my father's daughter.
  It is not mine to pardon or condemn;
  That is the State's alone. 'Tis for the State
  To banish, not for me, and therefore surely
  I must denounce these traitors to the Senate,
  And leave the judgment theirs.

  _Ire._ (_kneeling_).           Nay, nay, I pray thee,
  Do not this thing! Thou dost not know how cruel
  Is State-craft, or what cold and stony hearts
  Freeze in their politic breasts.

  _Gycia._                         _Thou_ kneel'st to me
  To spare my husband! Think'st thou I love him less
  Than thou dost, wanton?

  _Ire._                  Gycia, they will kill him.
  Get him away to-night to Bosphorus.
  Thou dost not know these men!

  _Gycia._                      _I_ know them not?
  I who have lived in Cherson all my days,
  And trust the State? Nay, I will get me hence,
  And will denounce this treason to the Senate.
  There lies my duty clear, and I will do it;
  I fear not for the rest. The State is clement
  To vanquished foes, and doubtless will find means
  To send them hence in safety. For myself
  I know not what may come--a broken heart,
  Maybe, and death to mend it. But for thee,
  Thou shameless wanton, if thou breathe a sound
  Or make a sign to them, thou diest to-night
  With torture.

  _Ire._        Spare him! Do not this thing, Gycia!

    [_Exit_ GYCIA.

  O God, she is gone! he is lost! and I undone!

    [_Swoons._


SCENE II.--_Room in_ LAMACHUS'S _palace._

  LYSIMACHUS, MEGACLES, Courtiers; _afterwards_ ASANDER.

_Lys._ Well, good Megacles, I hope you are prepared to carry out your
function. It will be a busy and anxious day to-morrow, no doubt, and
most of us will be glad when midnight strikes.

_Meg._ My Lord Lysimachus, I hope so. I have not closed an eye for
the last two nights. As to the Procession, I flatter myself that no
better-arranged pomp has ever defiled before Cæsar's Palace. It will
be long, it will be splendid, it will be properly marshalled. There
is no other man in the Empire who knows the distinctions of rank or
the mysteries of marshalling better than I do. Look at the books I
have studied. There is the treatise of the Learned and Respectable
Symmachus on Processions. That is one. There is the late divine
Emperor Theodosius on Dignities and Titles of Honour. That is two.
There is our learned and illustrious Chamberlain Procopius's treatise
on the office and duties of a Count of the Palace. That, as no doubt
you know, is in six large volumes. That is three, or, nay, eight
volumes. Oh, my poor head! And I have said nothing of the authorities
on Costume--a library, I assure you, in themselves. Yes, it has been
an anxious time, but a very happy one. I wish our young friends here
would devote a little more time to such serious topics, and less to
such frivolities as fighting and making love. The latter is a fine
art, no doubt, and, when done according to rule, is well enough; but
as for fighting, getting oneself grimed with dust and sweat, and very
likely some vulgar churl's common blood to boot--pah! it is
intolerable to think of it.

_1st Court._ Well, good Megacles, I am afraid that the world cannot
spare its soldiers yet for many years to come. So long as there is
evil in the world, and lust of power and savagery and barbarism, so
long, depend upon it, there is room and need for the soldier.

_Meg._ Certainly, my lord, certainly; and besides, they are very
highly decorative too. Nothing looks better to my mind at a banquet
than bright gay faces and lithe young figures set in a shining
framework of mail. By the way, my Lord Lysimachus, it was kind of you
to provide our procession with a strong detachment of fine young
soldiers from Bosphorus. I have secured a prominent place for them,
and the effect will be perfect. I trust the Lady Melissa will like
it.

_Lys._ My lord, you are mistaken; there are no soldiers from
Bosphorus here.

_Meg._ But I was with the Prince last night, and saw them.

_Lys._ I tell you you are mistaken. There are none here. Do you
understand me? There are none here.

_2nd Court._ Nay, indeed, my Lord Megacles. We were trying, with a
view to the pageant, how a number of young men of Cherson would look
in the array of Bosphorus; but we gave it up, since we feared that
they would bear them so clumsily that they would mar the whole
effect.

_Meg._ Ah, that explains it; quite right, quite right. Well, I see I
was mistaken. But I wish I could have had soldiers from Bosphorus.
They are the one thing wanting to make to-morrow a perfect success,
as the Lady Melissa said.

_Lys._ They are indeed, as you say. But, my Lord Megacles, pray do
not whisper abroad what you have said here; these people are so
jealous. They would grow sullen, and spoil the pageant altogether.

_Meg._ Ah, my lord, you have a good head. I will not breathe a word
of it till the day is done.

_Lys._ Thanks, my lord, and as I know you will be weary with the long
day's work and your great anxieties, I am going to lay a little
friendly compulsion upon you. You must leave the banquet to-morrow
and go to rest by eleven o'clock at latest.

_Meg._ Well, my lord, I am not so young as I was, and if I have your
permission to leave before all is over, well and good. No one knows
what an anxious day is before me, and I have no doubt I shall have
earned my night's rest by then. But I have much yet to do, so with
your permission I will wish you good night.

  [_Exit_ MEGACLES, _bowing low to each with exaggerated gestures._

_Lys._ Poor soul, poor soul! If any fight comes, it would be as cruel
to let him take his part with men as it would be if he were a woman
or a child.

  _Enter_ ASANDER.

Welcome, my Lord Asander. Hast thou seen our men, and are they ready
for to-morrow?

  _Asan._ I have just come from them, and they are ready,
  But I am not. I pray you, let this be;
  Send back these men to-night. I am oppressed
  By such o'ermastering presages of ill
  As baffle all resolve.

  _Lys._                 My Lord Asander,
  It is too late. Wouldst thou, then, break thy oath?
  Wouldst thou live here a prisoner, nor behold
  Thy father, though he die? Wouldst thou thy country
  Should spurn thee as the traitor whose malignance
  Blighted her hard-won gains? It is too late!
  It is too late!

  _Asan._         I am grown infirm of will
  As any dotard. I will go on now
  So that thou dost no murder.

  _Lys._                       Why was it
  We came in such o'erwhelming force, but that
  We sought to shed no blood?

  _Asan._                     I will be ready,
  Though with a heavy heart. To-morrow night
  At stroke of twelve, when all the feast is done,
  And all asleep, we issue from the palace,
  Seize the guards at their posts, and open wide
  The gates to the strong force which from the ships
  At the same hour shall land. The citizens,
  Heavy with wine, will wake to find their city
  Our own beyond recall.

  _Lys._                 Ay, that's the scheme,
  And nought can mar it now. Good night, my lord.
  Sleep well; there is much to do.

  _Asan._                          Good night, my lords!

    [_Exit_ ASANDER.

  _Lys._ No bloodshed! Why, what fools love makes of men!
  I have seen this very lad dash through the ranks
  Of hostile spearmen, cut and hack and thrust
  As in sheer sport. There will be blood shed, surely,
  Unless these dogs have lost their knack of war
  As he has; but we have them unprepared,
  And shall prevail, and thou shalt be avenged
  My father slain, and thou, my murdered brother,
  Shalt be avenged! My lords, you know what work
  Is given each to do. Be not too chary
  Of your men's swords; let them strike sudden terror.
  Slay all who do resist, or if they do not,
  Yet slay them still. My lords, give you good night.
  To-morrow at midnight, at the stroke of twelve--
  At the stroke of twelve!

    [_Exeunt omnes._


SCENE III.--_The council chamber of the Senate of Cherson._

  ZETHO _and_ Senators; _afterwards_ GYCIA.

  _Zet._ Most worthy brethren, Senators of Cherson,
  In great perplexity of mind and will
  I summon ye to-night. The Lady Gycia,
  Our Lamachus's daughter, sends request,
  Urgent as 'twere of instant life and death,
  That I should call ye here. What care can move
  Such anxious thought in her, on this the eve
  Of the high festival herself has founded,
  I know not, but 'twould seem the very air
  Is full of floating rumours, vague alarms,
  Formless suspicions which elude the grasp,
  Unspoken presages of coming ill
  Which take no shape. For whence should danger come?
  We are at peace with all. Our former foe
  Is now our dearest friend; the Prince Asander,
  Though of a hasty spirit and high temper,
  Dwells in such close, concordant harmony
  With his loved wife that he is wholly ours;
  And yet though thus at peace, rumours of war
  And darkling plots beset us. Is it not thus?
  Have ye heard aught?

  _1st Sen._ Zetho, 'tis true. Last night, a citizen
  Sware he heard clang of arms and ring of mail
  At midnight by the house of Lamachus!

  _2nd Sen._ My freedman, coming home at grey of dawn,
  Saw a strange ship unload her merchandise,
  And one bale chanced to fall, and from it came
  Groanings and drops of blood!

  _3rd Sen._                    Two nights ago,
  The ways being white with snow, I on the quay
  Saw the thick-planted marks of armèd feet;
  But, rising with the dawn, I found the place
  Swept clean with care!

  _Zet._                 Brethren, I know not what
  These things portend.

    _Enter_ GYCIA.

                        But see, she comes! Good daughter,
  Why is thy cheek so pale?

  _Gycia._                  This is the wont
  Of women. Grief drives every drop of blood
  Back to the breaking heart, which love calls forth
  To mantle on the cheek. Sirs, I have come
  On such an errand as might drive a woman
  Stronger than I to madness; I have come
  To tell you such a tale as well might fetter
  My tongue and leave me speechless. Pity me
  If I do somewhat wander in my talk!
  'Tis scarce an hour ago, that in my house,
  Drawing some secret panel in the wall,
  I saw the long hall filled with armèd men
  Of Bosphorus, and at their head--O Heaven,
  I cannot say it!--at their head I saw
  My husband, my Asander, my own love,

    [Senators _rise with strong emotion._

  Who ordered them and bade them all stand ready
  To-morrow night at midnight. What means this?
  What else than that these traitorous bands shall slay
  Our Cherson's liberties, and give to murder
  Our unsuspecting people, whom the feast
  Leaves unprepared for war? I pray you, sirs,
  Lose not one moment. Call the citizens
  To arms while yet 'tis time! Defeat this plot!
  Do justice on these traitors! Save the city,
  Though I am lost!

  _Zet._            Daughter, thy loyal love
  To our dear city calls for grateful honour
  From us who rule. In thy young veins the blood
  Of patriot Lamachus flows to-day as strong
  As once it did in his; nay, the warm tide
  Which stirred the lips of bold Demosthenes
  And all that dauntless band who of old time
  Gave heart and life for Athens, still is thine.
  In our Hellenic story, there is none
  Who has done more than thou, who hast placed love,
  Wedlock, and queenly rule, and all things dear
  To a tender woman's heart, below the State--
  A patriot before all. Is there no favour
  A State preserved may grant thee?

  _Gycia._                          Noble Zetho,
  I ask but this. I know my husband's heart,
  How true it was and loyal. He is led,
  I swear, by evil counsels to this crime;
  And maybe, though I seek not to excuse him,
  It was the son's love for his dying sire,
  Whom he should see no more, that scheming men
  Have worked on to his ruin. Banish him
  To his own city, though it break my heart,
  But harm him not; and for those wretched men
  Whose duty 'tis to obey, shed not their blood,
  But let the vengeance of our city fall
  Upon the guilty only.

  _Zet._                Brethren all,
  Ye hear what 'tis she asks, and though to grant it
  Is difficult indeed, yet her petition
  Comes from the saviour of the State. I think
  We well may grant her prayer. Though well I know
  How great the danger, yet do I believe
  It may be done. Is it so, worthy brethren?

    [Senators _nod assent._

  Daughter, thy prayer is granted.

  _Gycia._                         Sirs, I thank you;
  I love you for your mercy.

  _Zet._                     For the rest,
  I counsel that we do not rouse the city.
  'Twere of no use to-night to set our arms,
  Blunt with long peace and rusted with disuse,
  Against these banded levies. By to-morrow--
  And we are safe till then--we shall have time
  To league together such o'erwhelming force
  As may make bloodshed needless, vain their plot,
  And mercy possible. Meantime, dear lady,
  Breathe not a word of what thine eyes have seen,
  But bear thyself as though thou hadst seen nothing,
  And had no care excepting to do honour
  To thy dead sire; and when the weary day
  Tends to its close, school thou thy heavy heart,
  And wear what mask of joy thou canst, and sit
  Smiling beside thy lord at the high feast,
  Where all will meet. See that his cup is filled
  To the brim; drink healths to Bosphorus and Cherson.
  Seem thou to drink thyself, having a goblet
  Of such a colour as makes water blush
  Rosy as wine. When all the strangers' eyes
  Grow heavy, then, some half an hour or more
  From midnight, rise as if to go to rest,
  Bid all good night, and thank them for their presence.
  Then, issuing from the banquet-hall, lock fast
  The great doors after thee, and bring the key
  To us, who here await thee. Thus shalt thou
  Save this thy State, and him thy love, and all.
  For we will, ere the fateful midnight comes,
  Send such o'erwhelming forces to surround them
  That they must needs surrender, and ere dawn
  Shall be long leagues away. We will not shed
  A drop of blood, my daughter.

  _Gycia._                      Noble Zetho
  I thank you and these worthy senators.
  I knew you would be merciful. I thank you,
  And will obey in all things.

    [_Exit_ GYCIA.

  _Bardanes, 1st Sen._         She is gone;
  I durst not speak before her. Dost thou know,
  Good Zetho, how infirm for war our State
  After long peace has grown? I doubt if all
  The men whom we might arm before the hour
  Are matched in numbers with those murderous hordes;
  While in experience of arms, in training,
  In everything that makes a soldier strong,
  We are no match for them. Our paramount duty
  Is to the State alone, not to these pirates
  Who lie in wait to slay us; nor to one
  Who, woman-like, knows not our strength or weakness,
  Nor cares, if only she might wring a promise
  To spare her traitorous love. But we have arts
  Which these barbarians know not, quenchless fires
  Which in one moment can enwrap their stronghold
  In one red ring of ruin. My counsel is,
  That ere the hour of midnight comes we place
  Around the palace walls on every side
  Such store of fuel and oils and cunning drugs
  As at one sign may leap a wall of fire
  Impassable, and burn these hateful traitors
  Like hornets in their nest.

  _Zetho._                    Good brethren all,
  Is this your will? Is it faith? Is it honour, think you,
  To one who has given all, for us to break
  Our solemn plighted word?

  _2nd Sen._                We will not break it;
  We shed no drop of blood. The State demands it;
  The safety of the State doth override
  All other claim. The safety of the State
  Is more than all!

  _All the Senators, with uplifted arms._ Ay, Zetho, more than all!

  _Zetho._ Then, be it as you will. See, therefore, to it;
  Take measures that your will be done, not mine.
  Though I approve not, yet I may not set
  My will against the universal voice.
  Save us our Cherson. For the rest I care not,
  Only I grieve to break our solemn promise
  To Lamachus's child. Poor heart! poor heart!



ACT V.


SCENE I.--_Outside_ LAMACHUS'S _palace._

  MEGACLES, LYSIMACHUS, Courtiers, _and_ Citizens _of Cherson._

_Meg._ Oh, this has been a happy day. All has gone admirably. Not a
hitch in all the arrangements. Precedence kept, rank observed,
dresses all they should be. I do not, I really do not think, though I
say it who should not, that the Imperial Chamberlain at
Constantinople could have conducted the matter better.

_1st Court._ Nay, that he could not, good Megacles. Let us hope that
what remains to do will go as smoothly.

_Meg._ What remains? Doubtless you mean the banquet. That is all
arranged long ago under three heads. First, the order of entering the
hall; second, the order of the seats; third, the order of going
forth.

_Lys._ Doubtless the last will arrange itself. Remember, the only
order of going to be observed is this, that thou get thyself gone,
and all the guests from Cherson gone, fully half an hour before
midnight.

_Meg._ But, my lord, that is impossible; you ask too much. How long
do you suppose it will take, at a moderate computation, to get one
hundred men of ill-defined rank out of a room with a decent regard
for Precedence. Why, I have seen it take an hour at the Palace, where
everybody knew his place, and here I cannot undertake to do it under
two.

_Lys._ My friend, you will get it done; you will waive ceremony. None
but the Prince and ourselves must remain within half an hour of
midnight, and the hall must be cleared.

_Meg._ Ah, well, my Lord Lysimachus, the responsibility rests with
you; I will have none of it. It is as much as my reputation is worth.
But if I do this, cannot you let me have a guard of honour of armed
men to stand at intervals along the hall. I have been longing for
them all day.

_Lys._ (_angrily_). Peace, fool! I have told you before we have no
soldiers here.

  [People _of Cherson overhearing him._

_1st Cit._ Didst hear that old man? He believes there are soldiers
here. Whence do they come? and why did the other check him?

_Meg._ Well, my Lord Lysimachus, if not soldiers, men-at-arms, and
these there certainly are, and highly decorative too.

_2nd Cit._ I hate these Bosphorians. What if the rumour should be
true? Pass the word to the citizens that they sleep not to-night, but
keep their arms ready for what may come. We are a match for them,
whatever may be their design. To-morrow we will probe this matter to
its depths.

_2nd Court._ Depend upon it, there is no time to lose if we would
forestall these fellows. But here comes the procession to the
banqueting-hall.

  [Citizens _going to banquet two and two._

_Meg._ (_with a gold wand_). This way, gentlemen; this way, masters
and mistresses; this way, Respectables!

[_Accompanies them to the end of the stage towards the
banqueting-hall in the distance. Returns to escort another party._
Musicians, _etc._

_Enter_ Senators, _two and two._

_Meg._ (_bowing profoundly three times_). Most Illustrious Senators!
this way, your Highnesses; this way.

_Enter_ MELISSA _and other_ Ladies.

(_To_ MELISSA) Fairest and loveliest of your adorable sex, your slave
prostrates himself before your stainless and beatific feet (_bowing
low and kissing his fingers_). Illustrious Ladies, I pray you to
advance.

_Lys._ (_with Courtiers standing apart_). A good appetite, my
friends. Enjoy yourselves while you may.

_Bard._ We are quite ready, my Lord Lysimachus. Are you not (_with a
sneer_) for the banquet?

_Lys._ In good time, in good time. If they only knew.

  [_Aside._

_Bard._ (_overhearing_). If _you_ knew all, my friends.

_Meg._ (_returning_). I pray you, most Illustrious Senators, to
excuse the absence of a guard of honour.

_Bard._ Nay, nay; we are peaceful people, and have no armed men
nearer than Bosphorus, as my Lord Lysimachus knows. There are plenty
in that favoured State, no doubt.

_Lys._ (_confused_). What does this insolence mean? I would the hour
were come.

  _Enter_ ZETHO, _with his retinue._

_Meg._ Your Gravity, Your Sincerity, Your Sublime and Wonderful
Magnitude, Your Illustrious and Magnificent Highness, I prostrate
myself before Your Altitude. Will You deign to walk this way?

_Zetho._ My lord, I am no Cæsar, but a simple citizen of Cherson,
called by my fellows to preside over the State. Use not to me these
terms, I pray of you, but lead on quickly.

_Meg._ I prostrate myself before Your Eminence.

  _Enter_ ASANDER _and_ GYCIA.

_Meg._ (_returning_). Noble Prince, will your Illustrious Consort and
yourself deign to follow me?

_Asan._ Nay, good Megacles, will you and these gentlemen go first? I
have a word to say to the Lady Gycia. We will be with you before the
guests are seated.

_Meg._ I obey, my Lord Asander, and will await you at the door.

  [MEGACLES, LYSIMACHUS, _and the rest, pass on._

  _Asan._ Gycia, though we have passed from amity
  And all our former love, yet would I pray you,
  By our sweet years of wedded happiness,
  Give ear to me a moment. It may be
  That some great shock may come to set our lives
  For evermore apart.

  _Gycia._            Ah yes, Asander--
  For evermore apart!

  _Asan._             And I would fain,
  If it must be, that thou shouldst know to-night
  That never any woman on the earth
  Held me one moment in the toils of love
  Except my wife.

  _Gycia._        What! not Irene's self?

  _Asan._ Never, I swear by Heaven. She was a woman
  In whom a hopeless passion burnt the springs
  Of maiden modesty. I never gave her
  The solace of a smile.

  _Gycia._               Dost thou say this?
  Is thy soul free from all offence with her,
  If thou camest now to judgment?

  _Asan._                         Ay, indeed,
  Free as a child's.

  _Gycia._           Oh, my own love! my dear!
  Ah no! too late, too late!

    [_Embraces him._

  _Asan._                    I ask thee not
  Counter assurance, since I know thy truth.

  _Gycia._ Speakst thou of Theodorus? He loved me
  Before I knew thee, but I loved no man
  Before I met Asander. When he knelt
  That day, it was in pity for my grief,
  Thinking thee false, and all his buried love
  Burst into passionate words, which on the instant
  I as thy wife repelled.

  _Asan._                 Oh, perfect woman!

    [_They embrace._

  O God, it is too late! Come, let us go;
  The guests are waiting for us. What can Fate
  Devise to vanquish Love.

    [_Exeunt._

  _Enter two drunken_ Labourers _of Cherson, bearing faggots and
  straw._

_1st Lab._ Well, friend, what kind of day has it been with you?

_2nd Lab._ Oh, a white day, a happy day! Plenty of food, plenty of
wine, raree shows without end, such processions as were never
seen--the very model of a democracy; nothing to pay, and everybody
made happy at the expense of the State. I have lived in Cherson, man
and boy, for fifty years, and I never saw anything to compare with
it. Here's good luck to Lamachus's memory, say I, and I should like
to celebrate his lamented decease as often as his daughter likes.

_1st Lab._ Didst know him, citizen?

_2nd Lab._ No, not I. He has been dead these two years. Time he was
forgotten, I should think. They don't commemorate poor folk with all
these fal-lals and follies.

_1st Lab._ Well, citizen, there is one comfort--the great people
don't enjoy themselves as we do. Did you ever see such a set of
melancholy, frowning, anxious faces as the grandees carried with them
to-day? And as for the Prince and the Lady Gycia, I don't believe
they spoke a word the livelong day, though they walked together. That
is the way with these grandees. When you and I quarrel with our
wives, it is hammer and tongs for five minutes, and then kiss and
make friends.

_2nd Lab._ And fancy being drilled by that old fool from
Bosphorus--"Most Illustrious, this is your proper place;"
"Respectable sir, get you back there" (_mimics_ MEGACLES), and so
forth.

_1st Lab._ Well, well, it is good to be content. But I warrant we are
the only two unhappy creatures in Cherson to-night, who have the ill
fortune to be sober. And such wine too, and nothing to pay!

_2nd Lab._ Never mind, citizen, we shall be paid in meal or malt, I
dare say, and we are bound to keep sober. By the way, it is a
curiously contrived bonfire this.

_1st Lab._ It will be the crowning triumph of the whole festival, the
senator said.

_2nd Lab._ But who ever heard of a bonfire on a large scale like
this, so close to an old building? You know our orders: we are to
place lines of faggots and straw close to the building on every
side, well soaked with oil, and certain sealed vessels full of a
secret compound in the midst of them. And just before midnight we are
to run with torches and set light to the whole bonfire, to amuse the
noble guests at the banquet.

  [IRENE _at a window, overhearing._

_1st Lab._ Ah! do you not see? It is a device of the Senate to
startle our friends from Bosphorus. The faggots and straw blaze up
fiercely round the wall; then, when all is confusion, the substance
in the sealed vessels escapes and at once puts out the fire, and the
laugh is with us. Our friends from Bosphorus know what we can do in
chemistry before now.

_2nd Lab._ Faith, a right merry device! Ha! ha! What a head thou
hast, citizen! Well, we must go on with our work. Lay the faggots
evenly.

  _Ire. (at the window above)._ Great God! what is this?
  We are doomed to die!
  Good friends,
  Know you my brother, the Lord Theodorus?
  I have something urgent I would say to him.
  I will write it down, and you shall give it him
  When he comes forth from the banquet.

    [_Disappears._

_1st Lab._ Good my lady. Her brother, too, she calls him. I go bail
it is her lover, and this is an assignation. Well, well, we poor men
must not be too particular.

_2nd Lab._ No, indeed; but let us get on with our work, or we shall
never finish in time.

  _Ire. (reappearing)._ Here it is. Give it him, I pray,
  when he comes forth.
  'Tis a thing of life and death.

  _1st Lab._                      So they all think,
  Poor love-sick fools!

  _Ire._                See, here is gold for you--
  'Tis all I have; but he will double it,
  If you fail not.

  _1st Lab._       Lady, we shall be here,
  We must be here. Fear not, we shall not miss him.


SCENE II.--_The banquet hall._

  _At a table, on a dais_, ZETHO, ASANDER, GYCIA, _and_ Senators;
  LYSIMACHUS, _and_ Courtiers _of Bosphorus._ Magnates _of Cherson at
  cross tables._ ASANDER, LYSIMACHUS, _the_ Courtiers, _and_ Senators
  _seem flushed with wine._

  _Zetho._ I drink to him whose gracious memory
  We celebrate to-day. In all our Cherson,
  Which boasts descent from the Athenian race,
  Who one time swayed the world, there was no man,
  Nor ever had been, fired with deeper love
  Of this our city, or more heartfelt pride
  In our republican rule (LYSIMACHUS _sneers_), which free-born men
  Prize more than life. I do not seek to bind
  Those who, long nurtured under kingly rule,
  Give to the Man the love we bear the State;
  But never shall the name of King be heard
  In this our Cherson.

  _Lys._               Archon, 'twere unwise
  To risk long prophecies.

  _Bard._                  Be silent, sir,
  If you would not offend.

  _Zetho._                 I bid you all
  Drink to the memory of Lamachus
  And weal to our Republic.

  _Lys._                    Shall we drink
  Its memory, for it has not long to live,
  If it be still alive?

  _Bard._               It will outlive thee.
  _Thou_ hast not long to live.

  _Lys._                        Longer than thou,
  If swords be sharp.

  _Zetho._            I pray you, gentlemen,
  Bandy not angry words.

  _Gycia._               My Lord Asander,
  Thy cup is empty. Shall I fill it for thee?
  Thou lovedst Lamachus?

  _Asan._                Ay, that I did;
  And I love thee. But I have drunk enough.
  I must keep cool to-night.

  _Gycia._                   Nay; see, I fill
  My glass to drink with thee.

  _Asan._                      Well, well, I drink,
  But not to the Republic.

  _Gycia._                 Ah! my lord,
  There is a gulf still yawns 'twixt thee and me
  Which not the rapture of recovered love
  Can ever wholly bridge. To my dead father
  I drink, and the Republic!

  _Lys._                     Which is dead.

  _Bard._ Nay, sir, but living, and shall live when thou
  Liest rotting with thy schemes.

    _Enter_ MEGACLES.

  _Meg._                          My Lord Asander,
  A messenger from Bosphorus, just landed,
  Has bid me give thee this.

    [_Gives_ ASANDER _letter._

  _Asan._ (_reading_)        "My Lord, the King
  Is dead, asking for thee." Oh, wretched day!
  Had I but gone to him, and left this place
  Of sorrow ere he died!

  _Gycia._               My love, my dear!
  Thou wilt go hence too late. I would indeed
  The law had let thee go. Sorrow like this
  Draws parted lives in one, and knits anew
  The rents which time has made.

  _Lys._                         The King is dead!
  Ay, then long live the King of Bosphorus!
  And more ere long!

  _Bard._            Think you that he will live
  To wear his crown?

  _Zetho._           Brethren, the hour is late,
  And draws to midnight, and 'tis time that all
  Should rest for whom rest is. (_To_ BARDANES _aside_) We must consider
  What change of policy this weighty change
  Which makes Asander King may work in us.

  _Bard._ (_aside_). Nay, nay, no change! He is a murderer still,
  And shall be punished were he thrice a king.

  _Asan._ Good night to all. And thou, good Megacles,
  Thou wert my father's servant, take thy rest.
  Go hence with these.

  _Meg._               I have no heart to marshal
  These dignitaries forth. My King is dead;
  I am growing old and spent.

  _Zetho._                    Daughter, remember
  Thy duty to the State.

  _Gycia._               I will, good Zetho.
  I am my father's daughter. Gentle Sirs
  And Ladies all, good night.

    [_Exeunt omnes except_ ASANDER _and_ GYCIA; LYSIMACHUS _and_
    Courtiers _by one door, then the_ Chersonites _by another
    opposite._

  _Asan._                    Dearest of women,
  How well this fair head will become a crown!
  I know not how it is, but now this blow
  Has fallen, it does not move me as I thought.
  I am as those who come in tottering age
  Even to life's verge, whom loss of friend or child
  Touches not deeply, since the dead they love
  Precede them but a stage upon the road
  Which they shall tread to-morrow. Yet am I
  Young, and thou too, my Gycia; we should walk
  The path of life together many years,
  But that some strange foreboding troubles me.
  For oh, my dear! now that the sun of love
  Beams on our days again, my worthless life
  Grows precious, and I tremble like a coward
  At dangers I despised. Tell me, my Gycia,
  Though I am true in love, wouldst thou forgive me
  If I were false or seemed false to thy State?
  Hast thou no word for me? May I not tell thee
  My secret, which so soon all men shall know,
  And ask thy pardon for it?

  _Gycia._                   Say on, Asander.

  _Asan._ Know, then, that soldiers sent from Bosphorus
  Have long time hid within our palace here--
  Long time before I knew, or I had nipt
  The treason in the bud; and in an hour
  Or less from when we speak, they will go forth,
  When all the citizens are wrapt in sleep
  After the toilsome day, and seize the gate,
  And open to the army which lies hid
  On board the ships without. They will not shed
  The blood of any, since the o'erwhelming force
  Will make resistance vain. I never liked
  The plot, I swear to thee; but, all being done,
  And I a subject, dared not disavow
  That which was done without me. But I have forced
  A promise that no blood be spilt.

  _Gycia._                          Asander,
  I have known it all, and have discovered all

    [ASANDER _starts._

  Thy secret to the Senate! But I knew not,
  Save by the faith that is the twin with love,
  That thou didst follow only in this plot,
  And wert unwilling; and I do rejoice
  Thy hands are free from blood. But oh, my love,
  Break from these hateful men! Thou art now a King,
  Thou canst command. Come, let us fly together;
  There yet is time! I tell thee that this plot
  Is doomed to ruin. Ere the morning dawns,
  All but the guilty leaders will be sent
  Prisoners to Bosphorus, and thou with them.
  I have gained this on my knees; but for the guilty
  The State has punishments.

  _Asan._                    Gycia, thou wouldst not
  That I should break my faith? 'Tis a King's part
  To keep faith, though he die. But when they have seized
  The city, then, using my kingly office,
  I will undo the deed, and make alliance
  With Cherson, and this done I will depart,
  Taking my Queen with me.

  _Gycia._                 Then must I go;
  I cannot live without thee.

  _Asan._                     Now to rest,
  If not to sleep.

  _Gycia._         Good night, my love; farewell.

  _Asan._ Nay, not farewell, my love!

  _Gycia._                            Ah yes, farewell!
  Farewell! farewell for ever!

    [_Exeunt._


SCENE III.--_Outside the banquet hall. Darkness._

  GYCIA _hurriedly descends the steps, closing the great doors of the
  banquet hall softly._

  _Gycia._ I hear no sound within; the lights are gone,
  And all the hall is dark. These doors alone
  Of all the many outlets of the palace
  Remain unlocked. There is not now a moment
  To lose ere midnight comes, and here I hold
  The safety of our Cherson. Oh, my love!
  I could not tell thee all, nor recompense
  Thy faith in me, since duty held me fast--
  My duty which should also prove thy safety,
  For now the solemn promise of the State
  Is pledged to hold thee harmless, and defeat
  The shameful plot I knew was never thine,
  Without one drop of bloodshed. All my path
  Shows clear as noonday, and I save our city
  And those who with thee err in innocence,
  Why do I hesitate? Yet does some dark
  And dreadful presage of impending ill
  So haunt me that I know not how to face it.
  I dare not do it. I must stay with him,
  Or bring him forth with me.

    [_Ascends the steps, throws open the doors, and finds all
    darkness and silence._

                              Asander! husband!
  It is thy wife who calls! Come forth, Asander!

    [_Listens._

  Nay, there is no one there. I cannot stay;
  This is mere folly. I must keep my word;
  There's not a moment's time, or all is lost.
  Which is the key?

    [_Closes the doors and locks them with a clang._

                    I must go forth alone
  To the Senate-chamber. I have saved our Cherson
  And my Asander!

    [_Totters down the steps and exit hurriedly._


SCENE IV.--_The Senate-chamber._

  ZETHO _and_ Senators; _afterwards_ GYCIA.

  _Zetho._ What is the hour?

  _Bardanes._                It wants five minutes only
  To midnight. Think you she will come?

  _Zetho._                              I know her.
  She is the soul of honour, and would keep
  Her word if 'twere her death.

  _Bard._                       But would she keep it
  If 'twere her lover's?

  _Zetho._               She thinks not that it is,
  Nor should it be, indeed, were we but true
  As I believe her.

  _Bard._           True! There is no truth
  In keeping faith with murderers; they must perish
  In the same net which they laid privily
  Against a faithful city.

    _Enter_ GYCIA, _tottering in, with the keys._

  _Zetho._ Hail, noble daughter! Thou hast saved the State.
  I knew thou wouldst not fail us.

  _Gycia._                         See, good Zetho,
  The proof that I have done my part to you.
  There are the master keys of all the doors
  Within the palace. When I closed the last,
  A few brief minutes since, there was no sound
  Nor light in hall or chamber; every court
  Was silent as the grave.

  _Bard._                  Ay, as the grave
  It is, or will be soon.

  _Gycia._                What mean you, sir,
  I pray you? I am but a timid woman,
  Full of foreboding fears and dread of ill,
  And such a doubt doth overspread my soul,
  Hearing thy words, I think I shall go mad.
  Nay, Zetho, he is safe; I have your promise
  Thou wouldst not harm him. An o'erwhelming force,
  Thou saidst, should so surround them that resistance
  Were vain, and ere the dawn they should go hence
  Without one drop of bloodshed.

  _Zetho._                       Ay, my daughter,
  Such was the promise.

  _Bard._               And it will be kept.

    [_Bell strikes midnight._

  Hark, 'tis the hour! An overwhelming force

    [_A red glare rising higher and higher is seen through the
    windows of the Senate-chamber. Confused noises and shouts heard
    without._

  Surrounds them, but no drop of blood is shed.
  All will go hence ere dawn.

  _Gycia._                    Oh, cruel man,
  And most perfidious world! Oh, my Asander!
  To die thus and through me!

    [_A violent knocking is heard at the door._

    _Enter_ THEODORUS _in great agitation, and_ IRENE, _who throws
    herself on her knees, weeping._ GYCIA _falls swooning in Zetho's
    arms._

  _Zetho._ Whence cam'st thou, Theodorus?

  _Theo._                                 Straight, my lord,
  From Gycia's palace.

  _Zetho._             Say, what didst thou there?
  And what of horror has befallen thee
  That makes thine eyes stare thus?

  _Theo._                           Most noble Zetho,
  When from the banquet scarce an hour ago
  I passed, came one who offered me a letter
  And bade me read. 'Twas from this woman here,
  My sister, and it told of some great peril
  By fire, which she, within the prison locked,
  Expected with the night. Wherefore I sped
  With one I trusted, and did set a ladder
  Against her casement, calling her by name,
  And bidding her descend. But no voice came,
  And all was dark and silent as the grave;
  And when I called again, the Prince Asander,
  From an adjacent casement looking, cried,
  "I had forgot thy sister. Take her hence;
  She should go free!" And then, at her own casement

    [GYCIA _revives and listens._

  Appearing, he came forth, and in his arms
  A woman's senseless form. As they descended
  And now were in mid-air, there came the sound
  Of the bell striking midnight, and forthwith
  In a moment, like a serpent winged with fire,
  There rose from wall to wall a sheet of flame,
  Which in one instant mounted to the roof
  With forked red tongues. Then every casement teemed
  With strange armed men, who leapt into the flames
  And perished. Those who, maimed and burnt, escaped,
  Ere they could gain their feet, a little band
  Of citizens, who sprang from out the night,
  Slew as they lay. The Prince, who bore my sister
  Unhurt to ground, stood for a moment mute.
  Then, seeing all was lost, he with a groan
  Stabbed himself where we stood. I fear his hurt
  Is mortal, since in vain I tried to staunch
  The rushing blood; then bade them on a litter
  Carry him hither gently. Here he comes.

    _Enter_ Citizens, _bearing_ ASANDER _on a litter, wounded._

  _Gycia._ Oh, my love, thou art hurt! Canst thou forgive me?
  I thought to save thee and the rest. I knew not,
  I did not know! Oh, God!

  _Asan._                  I do believe thee.
  The fates have led our feet by luckless ways
  Which only lead to death. I loved but thee.
  I wished thy State no wrong, but I am dying.
  Farewell! my love, farewell!

    [_Dies._

  _Gycia._ Oh, my lost love!

    [_Throws herself on the body and kisses it passionately._

  _Zetho._ Poor souls! Mysterious are the ways of Heaven,
  And these have suffered deeply in the fortune
  That bound their lives together.

  _Bard._                          That dead man
  Would have betrayed our State, and thou dost pity!
  So perish all the enemies of Cherson!

  _Gycia_ (_rising_). Nay, sir, be silent. 'Tis a coward's part
  To vilify the dead. You, my Lord Zetho,
  I had your promise that you would hurt none
  Except the guilty only, and I thought
  That to your word I might entrust my life
  And one more dear than mine; but now it seems
  That in some coward and unreasoning panic
  This worthy Senator has moved his colleagues--
  Since cruelty is close akin to fear--
  To break your faith to me, and to confuse
  The innocent and guilty, those who led
  And those who followed, in one dreadful death!
  I pray you pardon me if, being a woman,
  Too rashly taking part in things of State,
  I have known nought of State-craft or the wisdom
  Which breaks a plighted word.

  _Zetho._                      Daughter, I would
  Our promise had been kept, and I had kept it
  But that the safety of the State to some
  Seemed to demand its breach.

  _Gycia._                     Farewell, good Zetho,
  And all who were my friends. I am going hence;
  I can no longer stay. There lies my love.
  There flames my father's house. I go far off,
  A long, long journey. If you see me not
  In life again, I humbly pray the State
  May, if it think me worthy--for indeed
  I have given it all--bury me, when I die,
  Within the city, in a fair white tomb,
  As did our Grecian forefathers of old
  For him who saved the State; and, if it may be,
  Lay my love by my side.

  _Zetho and Sens._       Daughter, we swear
  That thou shalt have thy wish.

  _Gycia._                       I thank you, sirs.
  Then, I may go. Kiss me, good Theodorus:
  I am no more a wife. I know thy love,
  And thank thee for it. For that wretch whose lie
  Has wrecked our life and love, I bless the gods
  That I am childless, lest my daughter grew
  As vile a thing as she; and yet I know not.
  She loved him in some sort, poor wretch, poor wretch!
  But now I must be going. 'Tis past midnight;

    [_Snatches dagger from_ THEODORUS'S _side._

  I must go hence. I have lost my life and love.
  But I have saved the State.

    [_Stabs herself and falls on_ _Asander's_ _body._

    Citizens _of Cherson bursting in._

  _Cits._ The State is saved! Long may our Cherson flourish!
  The State is saved! Long live our Lady Gycia,
  Who saved the State!

  _Gycia_ (_rising a little_). Yes, I have saved the State!

    [_Falls back dead._

    _Citizens_ (_without_). Long live the Lady Gycia!

_Curtain._

PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED, LONDON AND BECCLES.



                SELECTIONS FROM THE NOTICES

                          OF THE

                      POETICAL WORKS

                            OF

                       LEWIS MORRIS.



SONGS OF TWO WORLDS.

These poems were originally published in three volumes, issued in the
years 1872, 1874, and 1875. The following are a few selections from
the Press notices which appeared as they were issued.


FIRST SERIES.

    "No one, after reading the first two poems--almost perfect in
    rhythm and all the graceful reserve of true lyrical
    strength--could doubt for an instant that this book is the result
    of lengthened thought and assiduous training in poetic forms.
    These poems will assuredly take high rank among the class to
    which they belong."--_British Quarterly Review_, April, 1872.

    "If this volume is the mere prelude of a mind growing in power,
    we have in it the promise of a fine poet.... In 'The Wandering
    Soul,' the verse describing Socrates has that highest note of
    critical poetry, that in it epigram becomes vivid with life, and
    life reveals its inherent paradox. It would be difficult to
    describe the famous irony of Socrates in more poetical and more
    accurate words than by saying that he doubted men's doubts
    away."--_Spectator_, February 17th, 1872.

     "In all this poetry there is a purity and delicacy of feeling
    which comes over one like morning air."--_Graphic_, March 16th,
    1872.


SECOND SERIES.

    "In earnestness, sweetness, and the gift of depicting nature, the
    writer may be pronounced a worthy disciple of his compatriot,
    Henry Vaughan, the Silurist. Several of the shorter poems are
    instinct with a noble purpose and a high ideal of life. One
    perfect picture, marginally annotated, so to speak, in the
    speculations which it calls forth, is 'The Organ-Boy.' But the
    most noteworthy poem is the 'Ode on a Fair Spring Morning,' which
    has somewhat of the charm and truth to nature of 'L'Allegro' and
    'Il Penseroso.' It is the nearest approach to a master-piece in
    the volume."--_Saturday Review_, May 30th, 1874.

    "This volume is a real advance on its predecessor of the same
    name, and contains at least one poem of great originality, as
    well as many of much tenderness, sweetness, and beauty. 'The
    Organ-Boy' we have read again and again, with fresh pleasure on
    every reading. It is as exquisite a little poem as we have read
    for many a day."--_Spectator_, June 13th, 1874.

    "The reception of the New Writer's first series shows that, in
    his degree, he is one of the poetical forces of the time. Of the
    school of poetry of which Horace is the highest master, he is a
    not undistinguished pupil."--_Academy_, August 11th, 1874.

    "The verses are full of melodious charm, and sing themselves
    almost without music."--_Blackwood's_, August 1st, 1874.


THIRD SERIES.

    "Not unworthy of its predecessors. It presents the same command
    of metre and diction, the same contrasts of mood, the same grace
    and sweetness. It cannot be denied that he has won a definite
    position among contemporary poets."--_Times_, October 16th, 1875.

    "'Evensong' shows power thought, and courage to grapple with the
    profoundest problems. In the 'Ode to Free Rome' we find worthy
    treatment of the subject and passionate expression of generous
    sympathy."--_Saturday Review_, July 31st, 1875.

    "More perfect in execution than either of its predecessors....
    The pure lyrics are sweeter and richer. In the 'Birth of Verse'
    every stanza is a little poem in itself, and yet a part of a
    perfect whole."--_Spectator_, May 22nd, 1875.

    "If each book that he publishes is to mark as steady improvement
    as have his second and third, the world may surely look for
    something from the writer which shall immortalize him and remain
    as a treasure to literature."--_Graphic_, June 1st, 1875.


THE EPIC OF HADES.

_BOOK II._[A]

    "Fresh, picturesque, and by no means deficient in intensity; but
    the most conspicuous merits of the author are the judgment and
    moderation with which his poem is designed, his self-possession
    within his prescribed limits, and the unfailing elegance of his
    composition, which shrinks from obscurity, exuberance, and rash
    or painful effort as religiously as many recent poets seem to
    cultivate such interesting blemishes.... Perhaps the fine bursts
    of music in Marsyas, and the varied emotions portrayed in
    Andromeda, are less characteristic of the author than the prompt,
    yet graceful, manner in which he passes from one figure to
    another.... Fourteen of these pieces written in blank verse which
    bears comparison with the very best models make up a thoroughly
    enjoyable little volume...."--_Pall Mall Gazette_, March 10th,
    1876.

[Footnote A: Book II. was issued as a separate volume prior to the
publication of Books I. and III. and of the complete work.]

    "It is natural that the favourable reception given to his 'Songs
    of Two Worlds' should have led the author to continue his
    poetical exercises, and it is, no doubt, a true instinct which
    has led him to tread the classic paths of song. In his choice of
    subject he has not shrunk from venturing on ground occupied by at
    least two Victorian poets. In neither case need he shrink from
    comparison. His Marsyas is full of fine fancy and vivid
    description. His Andromeda has to us one recommendation denied to
    Kingsley's--a more congenial metre; another is its unstrained and
    natural narrative."--_Saturday Review_, May 20th, 1876.

    "In his enterprise of connecting the Greek myth with the high and
    wider meaning which Christian sentiment naturally finds for it,
    his success has been great. The passage in which Apollo's victory
    over Marsyas and its effect are described is full of exquisite
    beauty. It is almost as fine as verse on such a subject could
    be.... The little volume is delightful reading. From the first
    line to the last, the high and delicate aroma of purity breathes
    through the various spiritual fables."--_Spectator_, May 27th,
    1876.

    "The blank verse is stately, yet sweet, free, graceful, and never
    undignified. We confidently believe that our readers will agree
    with us in regarding this as one of the finest and most
    suggestive poems recently published. We trust to have, ere long,
    more poetic work from his hand."--_British Quarterly Review_,
    April 1st, 1876.

    "The writer has shown himself more critical than his friends, and
    the result is a gradual, steady progress in power, which we
    frankly acknowledge.... This long passage studded with
    graces."--_Academy_, April 29th, 1876.


_BOOKS I. and III. and the COMPLETE WORK._

    "In one sense the idea of his Epic is not only ambitious, but
    audacious, for it necessarily awakens reminiscences of Dante. Not
    unfrequently he is charmingly pathetic, as in his Helen and
    Psyche. There is considerable force and no small imagination in
    the description of some of the tortures in the 'Tartarus.' There
    is genuine poetical feeling in the 'Olympus.'... We might invite
    attention to many other passages. But it is more easy to give
    honest general praise than to single out particular
    extracts."--_Times_, February 9th, 1877.

    "The whole of this last portion of the poem is exceedingly
    beautiful.... Nor will any, except critics of limited view, fail
    to recognize in the Epic a distinct addition to their store of
    those companions of whom we never grow tired."--_Athenæum_, March
    3rd, 1877.

    "We believe that the Epic will approve itself to students as one
    of the most considerable and original feats of recent English
    poetry."--_Saturday Review_, March 31st, 1877.

    "Thought, fancy, music, and penetrating sympathy we have here,
    and that radiant, unnamable suggestive delicacy which enhances
    the attraction with each new reading."--_British Quarterly
    Review_, April, 1877.

    "The present work is by far his greatest achievement; the whole
    tone of it is noble, and portions, more especially the concluding
    lines, are excessively beautiful."--_Westminster Review_, April,
    1877.

    "The work is one of which any singer might justly be proud. In
    fact, the Epic is in every way a remarkable poem, which to be
    appreciated must not only be read, but studied."--_Graphic_,
    March 10th, 1877.

    "We do not hesitate to advance it as our opinion that 'The Epic
    of Hades' will enjoy the privilege of being classed amongst the
    poems in the English language which will live."--_Civil Service
    Gazette_, March 17th, 1877.

    "Exquisite beauty of melodious verse.... A remarkable poem, both
    in conception and execution. We sincerely wish for the author a
    complete literary success."--_Literary World_, March 30th, 1877.

    "Will live as a poem of permanent power and charm. It will
    receive high appreciation from all who can enter into its
    meaning, for its graphic and liquid pictures of external beauty,
    the depth and truth of its purgatorial ideas, and the ardour,
    tenderness, and exaltation of its spiritual life."--_Spectator_,
    May 5th, 1877.

    "I have lately been reading a poem which has interested me very
    much, a poem called 'The Epic of Hades.' Many of you may never
    have heard of it; most of you may never have seen it. It is, as I
    view it, another gem added to the wealth of the poetry of our
    language."--_Mr. Bright's speech on Cobden, at Bradford_, July
    25th, 1877.

    "In the blank verse of the 'Epic of Hades,' apt words are so
    simply arranged with unbroken melody, that if the work were
    printed as prose, it would remain a song, and every word would
    still be where the sense required it; not one is set in a wrong
    place through stress of need for a mechanical help to the music.
    The poem has its sound mind housed in a sound body."--PROFESSOR
    MORLEY _in the Nineteenth Century_, February, 1878.

    "I have read the 'Epic of Hades,' and find it truly charming. Its
    pictures will long remain with me, and the music of its
    words."--OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, April, 1884.


THE EPIC OF HADES.

_ILLUSTRATED QUARTO EDITION._

    "Of Mr. Chapman's illustrations it is pleasant to be able to
    speak with considerable admiration, not only because they are a
    fortunate echo of the verse, and represent the feelings and
    incidents of the 'Epic,' but because of their intrinsic merits.
    There is in them a fine and high inspiration of an indefinite
    sort."--_Athenæum_, March 29th, 1879.

    "'The Epic of Hades' is certainly one of the most remarkable
    works of the latter half of the nineteenth century. Here is an
    _édition de luxe_ which may possibly tempt the unthinking to
    search for the jewel within the casket."--_World_, February 12th,
    1879.

    "The exquisite aërial feeling of 'Eros and Psyche,'--by far the
    best of the drawings,--in which the figures seem literally to
    float in ether. 'Laocoon' is grand and dignified, and all deserve
    to be noticed with attention."--_Graphic_, January 25th, 1879.

    "These designs of themselves would be of the highest value, and
    when they are placed, as in this book, by way of illustration of
    a text which is full of power, their value is not easily
    estimated. The book ought to be one of the most cherished gifts
    that any lover of poetry or the pencil could
    desire."--_Scotsman_, January 23rd, 1879.

    "The author has been most fortunate in his illustrator. The
    designs are gems of drawing and conception, and the mezzotint is
    admirably adapted to the style of drawing and subject. This is
    truly a charming addition to the literary table. It is seldom one
    sees figure illustrations of such graceful and powerful beauty,
    and so thoroughly in sympathy with the visionary subjects of the
    author."--_Art Journal_, April, 1879.

    "'The Epic of Hades' has already won a place among the immortals.
    The lovely and terrible figures of the Greek mythology have never
    received a more exquisite consecration than at the hands of the
    author, who, with the true divination of the poet, has known how
    to interpret in the modern spirit the profound and pathetic
    fables of antiquity without vulgarizing by modern affectations
    their divine simplicity. This beautiful poem appears now in an
    _édition de luxe_--a setting not unworthy of such gems. The
    designs are noteworthy for their tenderness of sentiment and
    their languid grace."--_Daily News_, April 2nd, 1879.


GWEN:

_A DRAMA IN MONOLOGUE._

    "The charm of this beautiful little poem is its perfect
    simplicity of utterance; its chastened and exquisite grace. There
    is nothing very new in the incidents or in the characters of this
    most touching story, except in its unconventional ending, which
    takes the reader by surprise. The genius of the author has closed
    an idyll of love and death with a strain of sweet, sad music in
    that minor key which belongs to remembrance and regret."--_Daily
    News_, January 22nd, 1879.

    "We have read this new work with the interest arising from the
    expectations which the author had quickened in us, and with the
    hope of finding those expectations confirmed. We are not
    disappointed, for we have here the same selectness of language,
    the same high, pure tone, the same delicate power of touching the
    deeper chords of thought and feeling, which have previously won
    our attention and sympathy."--_Literary World_, January 17th,
    1879.

    "At the close of the tale the heart swells with pathos, and the
    tears all but force their way into the eyes. To turn from the
    most noteworthy of modern poetry to the verse in which 'Gwen' is
    written is like turning from a brilliant painting to a fine
    statue. We are scarcely sensible of want of colour, so refreshed
    are we by purity of outline. All, indeed, is graceful, good, and
    poetical work, as pure and limpid in flow as a brook."--_Sunday
    Times_, February 2nd, 1879.

    "The piece as a whole will repay very attentive perusal, while
    here and there in it there is a particular choice bit of work.
    Here, for example, is a fine lyric ... and here a love-song of
    rare and exquisite beauty."--_New York Evening Post_, February
    20th, 1879.

    "Few among the later poets of our time have received such a
    generous welcome as the author. He has been appreciated not by
    critics alone, but by the general public.... The charm of 'Gwen'
    is to be found in the limpid clearness of the versification, in
    the pathetic notes which tell the old story of true love wounded
    and crushed. Nothing can be more artistically appropriate or more
    daintily melodious than the following...."--_Pall Mall Gazette_,
    October 8th, 1879.

    "The poem is, as a whole, tender, simple, chaste in feeling, and
    occasionally it rises to a lyrical loftiness of sentiment or
    grows compact with vigorous thought."--_New York "Nation"_, March
    27th, 1879.

    "The writer has gained inspiration from themes which inspired
    Dante; he has sung sweet songs and musical lyrics; and whether
    writing in rhyme or blank verse, has proved himself a master of
    his instrument. He knows, like all true poets, how to transmute
    what may be called common into the pure gold of
    poetry."--_Spectator_, July 26th, 1879.


THE ODE OF LIFE.

    "The 'Ode of Life' ought to be the most popular of all the
    author's works. People flock to hear great preachers, but in this
    book they will hear a voice more eloquent than theirs, dealing
    with the most important subjects that can ever occupy the
    thoughts of man."--_Westminster Review_, July, 1880.

    "The many who have found what seemed to them of value and of use
    in the previous writings of the author, may confidently turn to
    this, his latest and, in his own view, his most mature work. It
    is full of beauty of thought, feeling, and language."--_Daily
    News_, April 8th, 1880.

    "Full of exquisite taste, tender colour, and delicate fancy,
    these poems will add considerably to the reputation of their
    author."--_Sunday Times_, April 25th, 1880.

    "The author is one of the few real poets now living. Anything at
    once more sympathetic and powerful it would be difficult to find
    in the poetry of the present day."--_Scotsman_, May 11th, 1880.

    "Next to the 'Epic of Hades,' it is his best work."--_Cambridge
    Review_, May 19th, 1880.

    "Here is one standing high in power and in fame who has chosen a
    nobler course.... The experiment is successful, and though we
    must not now discuss the laws to which the structure of an ode
    should conform, we rank the poem in this respect as standing far
    above Dryden's celebrated composition, but below the Odes of
    Wordsworth on Immortality and of Milton on the Nativity, which
    still remain peerless and without a rival."--_Congregationalist_,
    May 1st, 1880.

    "A high devout purpose and wide human sympathy ennoble all the
    writer's work, and his clear language and quiet music will retain
    his audience."--_Nineteenth Century_, August, 1880.

    "In all that respects technical points, certainly the most
    finished work we have yet had from the author's hand, and here
    and there the phrasing is exquisite. For ambitious aims, and for
    art which so far has justified those aims, for elevation and
    refinement, these poems are in advance of any of the author's
    former works."--_British Quarterly Review_, July, 1880.

    "Any notice of recent poetry would be inadequate without a
    reference to the 'Ode of Life.' The only fault we have to find
    with this really remarkable effort--a sort of expansion of
    Wordsworth's famous Ode--is that it is rather too long for its
    ideas; but it possesses power, sweetness, occasional profundity,
    and unmistakable music. It is, when all is said and done, a true
    'Ode,' sweeping the reader along as the ode should do, and

          'Growing like Atlas, stronger for its load.'

    It appears to us to bring definite proof that the writer's
    pretensions have not been over-stated."--_Contemporary Review_,
    February, 1881.


SONGS UNSUNG.

    "Some of the more important pieces make almost equal and very
    high demands alike on my sympathy and my admiration, and I hope
    you may long be enabled to cherish the enviable gift of finding
    utterance for Truths so deep in forms of so much power and
    beauty."--_Letter from_ MR. GLADSTONE, November, 1883.

    "The reader of his former work will probably commence this volume
    with considerable expectations. Nor will he be altogether
    disappointed, although he will probably wish that Mr. Morris had
    given the world more of his exquisite classical
    workmanship."--_Fortnightly Review_, November, 1883.

    "'The New Creed' is, in some respects, his most striking
    achievement. The poem is one well suited to his mind, but we are
    not aware that he has ever before written anything at once so
    impressive, so solemn, and so self-restrained. The last two lines
    have all the happy energy of the highest poetry."--_Spectator_,
    November 10th, 1883.

    "In reading it one feels constantly 'How worthy this book would
    be of beautiful illustrations!'"--_Academy_, November 24th, 1883.

    "The volume is full of the sweet fruits of a large experience; a
    profound study of the many problems of life; a clear insight
    into human nature; and the book as a whole ranks among the best
    gifts which the press has in recent years bestowed upon
    us."--_Leeds Mercury_, November 21st, 1883.

    "There is not one of these 'Songs Unsung' which does not deserve
    to be read and re-read."--_Glasgow Herald_, November 16th, 1883.

    "In Mr. Morris's new volume we recognize the old qualities which
    are so dear to his wide circle of admirers."--_Daily News_,
    December 4th, 1883.

    "We may safely predict as warm a welcome for the new volume as
    has been accorded to its predecessors."--_Ecclesiastical
    Gazette_, November 15th, 1883.

    "Those who have followed Mr. Morris's career will be pleased to
    find that his poetic grasp, his argumentative subtlety, his
    tenderness of sympathetic observation, his manly earnestness, are
    as conspicuous and impressive as before."--MR. BAYNE, _in the
    Helensburgh Times._

    "The reputation earned by the author's books has been such as few
    men in a century are permitted to enjoy. Beginning with the first
    volume, it has gone on increasing."--_Liverpool Mercury_,
    November 9th, 1883.

    "For ourselves we dare hardly say how high we rank Mr. Morris.
    This last volume is deserving of highest praise. In some of its
    contents no living poet, to our mind can surpass him."--_Oxford
    University Herald_, March 8th, 1884.

    "The gems of this volume, to our mind, are some of the shorter
    poems, which are full of melody and colour, saturated with
    lyrical feeling, and marked by that simplicity without which no
    poem of this class can be called great."--_British Quarterly
    Review_, January, 1884.

    "The writer is never diffuse or vague or pointless, both his road
    and the end of it are always in view."--_New York Critic_,
    January 19th, 1884.

    "In one sense 'Songs Unsung' is more typical of Mr. Morris's
    genius than any of his previous works. There is in them the same
    purity of expression, the same delicate fancy, the same mastery
    of technique, and withal the same loftiness of
    conception."--_Scotsman_, December 22nd, 1883.

    "In some respects we must award him the distinction of having a
    clearer perception of the springs of nineteenth-century existence
    than any of his contemporaries.... What could be more magnificent
    than the following conception of the beginning of
    things...."--_Whitehall Review_, October, 1883.

    "Mr. Morris has always that picturesque power which limns in a
    few words a suggestive and alluring picture of nature or of life
    evoking the imagination of the reader to supplement the clear and
    vigorous work of the poet."--_New York Christian Union_,
    February, 1884.

    "No lover of poetry will fail to make himself possessed of this
    volume from the pen of one who has made for himself so high and
    distinctive a place among modern writers."--_Manchester
    Examiner_, January 31st, 1884.

    "After making every possible deduction, 'Songs Unsung' is a noble
    volume, and ought to be received by those who, like ourselves,
    believe in the necessary subordination of art to morality with
    profound gratification."--_Freeman_, April 18th, 1884.

    "We have quoted enough to show that this book has genuine merit
    in it, merit in poetry, merit in philosophy, and, we may add,
    merit in religion. Lewis Morris takes the 'new and deeper view of
    the world' of which Carlyle now and then caught sunny glimpses.
    He sings in sweet and measured Tennysonian strains of philosophy
    what Darwin and Herbert Spencer teach in prose; without the
    informing glow of the imagination. There are living poets greater
    than Lewis Morris, but of the younger race of poets he is
    foremost."--_The Inquirer_, April 5th, 1884.

    "The hold which a poet who writes with such intense seriousness
    of purpose and such passionate earnestness gains upon his
    generation is far stronger and more lasting than if his sole
    attempt were to stimulate or to satisfy the sense of the
    beautiful. All the things of which we wish that poetry should
    speak to us, have voice given to them in the song of this
    glorious singer."--_South Australian Advertiser_, March 24th,
    1884.

    "As a whole this volume, while charming anew the poet's former
    admirers, should win for his genius a wider acquaintance and
    appreciation."--_Boston Literary World_, February 23rd, 1884.

    "Mr. Morris has the invaluable gift of recognizing and being in
    full sympathy with the current ideas and feelings of the time.
    The broad humanitarianism, the genuine sympathy with the
    sufferings of the poor and unfortunate, characteristic of our
    age, is one of the most attractive features of his poetry, and to
    the revival of the feeling for classical beauty, which may be
    looked upon as a collateral branch of the 'æsthetic' movement, he
    owes more than one charming inspiration.... To sum up. Mr.
    Morris's volume is likely to add to his reputation. It is healthy
    in tone, and shows no decline of the varied qualities to which
    the author owes his widespread reputation."--_Times_, June 9,
    1884.



+--------------------------------------------------------------+
| Transcriber's note:                                          |
|                                                              |
| Page 2: "hate and dread" has been changed to "I hate and     |
| dread"                                                       |
|                                                              |
| Page 184: "Tis a King's part" has been changed to "'Tis a    |
| King's part" with an apostrophe.                             |
|                                                              |
+--------------------------------------------------------------+





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