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Irrevocable? Is there aught on earth
Deserves that name? Th' eternal laws alone
Of Oromasdes are unchangeable.
All human projects are so faintly fram’d,
So feebly plann'd, so liable to change,
So mix'd with error in their very form,
That mutable and mortal are the same.
But where is Daniel ? Wherefore comes he not
To load me with reproaches ? to upbraid me
With all the wrongs my barb'rous haste has done hin:
Where is he?
Phar. He prepares to meet his fate.
This hour he dies, for so the act decrees.
Dar. Suspend the bloody sentence. Bring him
hither. Or rather let me seek him, and implore His dying pardon, and his parting pray’r.
Aras. Still let me follow thee; still let me hear
The voice of Wisdom, ere the silver cord
By Death's cold hand be loosen d.
Now I'm ready!
No grief; no woman's weakness, good Araspes :
Thou should'st rejoice my pilgrimage is o’er,
And the blest haven of repose in view.
Aras. And must I lose thee, Daniel ? Must thou
die? Dan. And what is death, my friend, that I should
fear it? To die! why 'tis to triumph : 'tis to join The great assembly of the good and just; Immortal worthies, heroes, prophets, saints ! Oh, 'tis to join the band of holy men, Made perfect by their sufferings ! 'Tis to meet My great progenitors ! 'Tis to behold Th' illustrious patriarchs; they with whom the Lord Deign'd hold familiar converse ! 'Tis to see Bless’d Noah and his children, once a world!
'Tis to behold, oh, rapture to conceive!
Those we have known, and lov’d, and lost below!
Bold Azariah, and the band of brothers,
Who sought, in bloom of youth, the scorching flames'.
Nor shall we see heroic men alone,
Champions who fought the fight of faith on earth ;
But heav'nly conquerors, angelic hosts,
Michael and his bright legions, who subdu'd
The foes of truth! To join their blest employ
Of love and praise ! To the high melodies
Of choirs celestial to attune my voice,
According to the golden harps of saints !
To join in blest Hosannas to their King !
Whose face to see, whose glory to behold,
Alone were Heav'n, though saint or seraph none
Should meet our sight, and only God were there!
This is to die! Who would not die for this?
Who would not die that he might live for ever?
Darius, Daniel, ARASPES.
Dar. Where is he? where is Daniel ? Let me see
Let me embrace that venerable form,
Which I have doom’d to glut the greedy maw
Of furious lions !
King Darius, hail !
Dar. Oh, injur'd Daniel ! Can I see thee thus,
Thus uncomplaining? Can I bear to hear
That when the ruffian ministers of death
Stopp'd thy unfinish'd prayer, thy pious lips
Had just invok'd a blessing on Darius,
On him who sought thy life? Thy murd'rers dropt
Tears of strange pity. Look not on me thus
With mild benignity! Oh! I could bear
The voice of keen reproach, or the strong flash
Of fierce resentment; but I cannot stand
That touching silence, nor that patient eye
Of meek respect.
Thou art my master still.
Dar. I am thy murderer! I have sign’d thy death!
Dan. I know thy bent of soul is honourable:
Thou hast been gracious still! Were it not so,
I would have met the appointment of high Heav'n
With humble acquiescence; but to know
Thy will concurr'd not with thy servant's fate,
Adds joy to resignation.
Here I swear,
By him who sits enthron’d in yon bright sun,
Thy blood shall be aton'd! On these thy foes
Thou shalt have ample vengeance.
Hold, O king!
Vengeance is mine, th' eternal Lord has said:
Myself will recompense, with even hand,
The sinner for the sin. The wrath of man
Works not the righteousness of God.
I had hop'd We should have trod this busy stage together A little longer, then have sunk to rest In honourable age. Who now shall guide My shatter'd bark in safety? Who shall now Direct me? Oh unhappy state of kings ! 'Tis well the robe of majesty is gay, Or who would put it on ? A crown! What is it? It is to bear the miseries of a people!
To hear their murmurs, feel their discontents,
And sink beneath a load of splendid care !
To have your best success ascrib'd to Fortune,
And Fortune's failures all ascrib'd to you !
It is to sit upon a joyless height,
To ev'ry blast of changing fate expos'd !
Too high for hope! too great for happiness!
For friendship too much fear'd! To all the joys
Of social freedom, and th' endearing charm
Of lib’ral interchange of soul unknown !
Fate meant me an exception to the rest,
And, though a monarch, bless'd me with a friend;
And I — have murder'd him !
My hour approaches.
Hate not my mem’ry, king: protect Araspes :
Encourage Cyrus in the holy work
Of building ruin'd Solyma. Farewell !
Dar. With most religious strictness I'll fulfill Thy last request. Araspes shall be next My throne and heart. Farewell ! [They embrace.
Hear, future kings, Ye unborn rulers of the nations, hear! Learn from my crime, from my misfortunes learn, Never to trust to weak or wicked hands, That delegated pow'r which Oromasdes Invests in monarchs for the public good.