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But of the deep diviners thou shalt learn,
The wise astrologers, the sage magicians,
Who, of events unborn, take secret note,
And hold deep commerce with the unseen world.

Enter Astrologers, Magicians, &c. Bel. Approach, ye sages, 'tis the king commands!

[They knel. As. Hail, mighty king of Babylon! Bel.

Nay, rise : I do not need your homage, but your help; The world may worship, you must counsel me. He who declares the secret of the king, No common honours shall await his skill ; Our empire shall be tax'd for his reward, And he himself shall name the gift he wishes. A splendid scarlet robe shall grace his limbs, His neck a princely chain of gold adorn: Meet honours for such wisdom : He shall rule The third in rank throughout our Babylon. 2d As. Such recompense becomes Belshazzar's

bounty. . Let the king speak the secret of his soul; Which heard, his humble creatures shall unfold. Bel. (points to the wall.] Be 't so— look there

behold those characters ! Nay, do not start, for I will know their meaning ! Ha! answer ; speak, or instant death awaits you! What, dumb! all dumb! where is your boasted skill ?

[They confer together. Keep them asunder — no confederacy —

No secret plots to make your tales agree.
Speak, slaves, and dare to let me know the worst !

[They kneel. 1st As. Oh, let the king forgive his faithful servants!

2d As. Oh, mitigate our threaten'd doom of death; If we declare, with mingled grief and shame, We cannot tell the secret of the king, Nor what these mystic characters portend!

Bel. Off with their heads! Ye shall not live an hour! Curse on your shallow arts, your lying science! 'Tis thus you practise on the credulous world, Who think you wise because themselves are weak! But, miscreants, ye shall die! the pow'r to punish Is all that I have left me of a king. Ist Cour. Great Sire, suspend their punishment

awhile. Behold Nitocris comes, thy royal mother!


Enter Queen.

O my misguided son!
Well may'st thou wonder to behold me here :
For I have ever shunn'd this scene of riot,
Where wild intemperance and dishonour'd mirth
Hold festival impure. Yet, О Belshazzar!
I could not hear the wonders which befell,
And leave thee to the workings of despair :
For, spite of all the anguish of my soul
At thy offences, I'm thy mother still !
Against the solemn purpose I had form’d
Never to mix in this unhallow'd crowd,
The wondrous story of the mystic writing,
Of strange and awful import, brings me here;

If haply I may show some likely means
To fathom this dark mystery.

Speak, O queen!
My listning soul shall hang upon thy words,
And prompt obedience follow them!

Then hear me.
Among the captive tribes which hither came
To grace Nebassar's triumph, there was brought
A youth nam'd Daniel, favour'd by high Heav'n
With pow'r to look into the secret page
Of dim Futurity's mysterious volume.
The spirit of the holy gods is in him;
No vision so obscure, so deeply hid,
No sentence so perplex'd, but he can solve it :
He can unfold the dark decrees of fate,
Can trace each crooked labyrinth of thought,
Each winding maze of doubt, and make it clear
And palpable to sense. He twice explain'd
The monarch’s mystic dreams. The holy seer
Saw, with prophetic spirit, what befell
The king long after. For his wondrous skill
He was rewarded, honour'd, and caress’d,
And with the rulers of Chaldea rank’d:
Though now, alas ! thrown by, his services
Forgotten or neglected.

Send with speed
A message, to command the holy man
To meet us on the instant.

I already
Have sent to ask his presence at the palace;
And, lo ! in happy season, see he comes.

Enter DANIEL Bel. Welcome, thrice venerable sage! approach. Art thou that Daniel whom my great forefather Brought hither with the captive tribes of Judah? Dan.

I am, O king! Bel.

Then, pardon, holy prophet; Nor let a just resentment of thy wrongs, And long-neglected merit shut thy heart Against a king's request, a suppliant king.

Dan. The God I worship teaches to forgive.

Bel. Then let thy words bring comfort to my soul. I've beard the spirit of the gods is in thee; That thou canst look into the fates of men With prescience more than human ! Dan.

Hold, O king! Wisdom is from above; ’tis God's own gift; I of myself am nothing: but from Him The little knowledge I possess, I hold; To Him be all the glory! Bel.

Then, O Daniel! If thou indeed dost boast that wondrous gift, That faculty divine, look there and tell me! O say what mean those mystic characters ? Remove this load of terror from my soul, And honours, such as kings can give, await thee. Thou shalt be great beyond thy soul's ambition, And rich above thy wildest dream of wealth: Clad in the scarlet robe our nobles wear, And grac'd with princely ensigns, thou shalt stand Near our own throne, and third within our empire.

Dan. O mighty king, thy gifts with thee remain, And let thy high rewards on others fall.

The princely ensign, nor the scarlet robe,
Nor yet to be the third within thy realm,
Can touch the soul of Daniel. Honour, fame,
All that the world calls great, thy crown itself,
Could never satisfy the vast ambition
Of an immortal spirit; I aspire
Beyond the pow'r of giving; my high hopes
Reach also to a crown — but 'tis a crown
Unfading and eternal.
1st Cour.

Wondrous man!
Our priests teach no such potions.

Yet, О king !
Though all unmov'd by grandeur or by gift,
I will unfold the high decrees of Heav'n,
And straight declare the mystry.

Speak, O prophet!
Dan. prepare to hear what kings have seldom

heard ;
Prepare to hear what courtiers seldom tell;
Prepare to hear — the truth. The mighty God,
Who rules the sceptres and the hearts of kings,
Gave thy renown’d forefather * here to reign,
With such extent of empire, weight of pow'r,
And greatness of dominion, the wide earth
Trembled beneath the terror of his name,
And kingdoms stood or fell as he decreed.
Oh! dang'rous pinnacle of pow'r supreme !
Who can stand safe upon its treach'rous top,
Behold the gazing prostrate world below,
Whom depth and distance into pigmies shrink,
And not grow giddy ? Babylon's great king

* Nebuchadnezzar.

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