Judith: A sacred drama. As it is performed at the Theatre Royal in Drury-Lane. The music composed by Dr. Arne.
Bickerstaff, Isaac, 1735-1812.
Page  8

ACT II.

SCENE I.

HOLOFERNES, JUDITH, ABRA.
Jud.
Thus, noble Holofernes, thou hast heard
Why with this Virgin I forsook yon City;
Because the Inhabitants by Crimes most odious,
Where drawing on themselves the Wrath of Heaven.
When the dread Hour is nigh, God shall forewarn me,
And I, by secret Passes, will conduct
Thee, and thy Troops, to the devoted Walls:
Nor shall Bethulia only fall a Prey,
But all Judea.
Hol.
Wonder of thy Sex! what Language can express
My Admiration?—
What Words do Justice to thy Excellence?
For Comeliness of Form, and Strength of Mind,
There is not such another.
Jud.
Spoke my Lord
To his poor Handmaid?—Let me not suppose it.
Far be such vain Thoughts from the Wretch that toils
In this dark Vale of Sin and Misery.

Page  9

AIR.

Oh! strive not with ill-suited Praise,
Thy Servant's humble Mind to raise.
God be my Pride, his holy Ways,
My Ornaments alone:
This Merit only rests with me,
That, through the Veil of Charity,
Another's Blemishes I see,
Whilst I lament my own.

SCENE II.

HOLOFERNES, JUDITH, ABRA, Chorus of Assyrians.
Hol.
Strait thro' the Camp let this Command be issued,
That none presume t'approach the Hebrew Women,
But with such due Respect and Reverence,
As suits the Friends of the Assyrian King.
An unmolested Passage let them find,
And ample Liberty to observe their Laws,
Their Customs, and Religion.
Chorus of Assyrians.
Live for ever!
Nebuchodonosor and Holofernes!
Hol.
Come, lovely Judith, for thy Residence
Yonder superb Pavilion we assign.

Page  10

AIR.

Adorn'd with every matchless Grace
By Heaven from whence she sprung;
We view the Goddess in her Face,
We hear it in her Tongue.
Against such Charms, there's no Defence;
O take! Possess me whole!
Thy Beauty captivates my Sense,
Thy Wisdom quells my Soul.
Chorus of Assyrians.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Judea falls,
Yon stubborn City bows her Walls;
Victors we come, her Gates display,
And Desolation marks our Way.
While every Sword from Slaughter reeks,
The Virgin cries, the Matron shrieks;
Thro' her pale Streets Groans, Shouts resound,
And all her Turrets flame around.

SCENE III.

JUDITH, ABRA.
Jud.
Thus far the Lord hath led us by the Hand,
Till in the Midst of these Idolaters
Page  11We are set down. But know, like Sparks of Fire
Lodg'd in a Heap of Stubble, we shall soon
Blaze and consume them. Only thou, my Sister!
Beware of their Deceptions. Nor with Flattery
Let them intoxicate our Reason.
Abra.
Never.
The Praise of the Abandon'd to the Ear
Of Virtue, sounds but like the Serpent's Hiss
As timely Warning to avoid its Sting.
Too well by thy Example am I taught
To scorn the glittering Gewgaws they esteem.

AIR.

Vain is Beauty gawdy Flow'r,
Pageant of a Day, an Hour,
Born just to bloom and fade;
Nor less weak, less vain than it
Is the Pride of human Wit,
The Shadow of a Shade.

SCENE IV.

JUDITH, ABRA, Chorus of Assyrians.
Jud.
Soft, break we off, what wanton Troop comes yonder?
This Way they bend their Steps. Now speak your Errand.
If from the Great, the gracious Holofernes,
Ought in Command ye bear, behold a Vassal,
Submissive to the Pleasures of her Lord.
Page  12
A Man.
Thus then our general greets the peerless Judith.
To Night he holds a Banquet, and her Presence
Only is wanting to compleat its Splendor.
Further he charg'd me—but I need not speak it,
Charms have the Hebrews, and the Assyrians Hearts.
A Wo.
Come, beauteous Stranger! give a Loose to Joy—
Our General amidst the Noise of War,
Has a Soul tun'd to all the softer Passions—
Enough, she smiles Consent, return we back
With the glad Answer of our Embassy.

AIR.

Haste to the Gardens of Delight,
Blest Scenes! where plenteous Pleasures grow;
Where Fruits luxuriant charm the Sight,
And court the Hand from every Bough.
No Churls are bid to Nature's Treat,
The Goods the Gods provide, employ;
To thank the Givers pluck and eat,
And satisfy the Soul with Joy.

Page  13

SCENE V.

JUDITH, ABRA.
Jud.
The Lyon's in the Toils, we have him fast,
And never shall he walk abroad again
To make the Forests tremble: Hie we hence
To this same Banquet, yet imagine not,
That my chaste Body I will render up
To fulsome Purposes; no, God shall save me;
To whose Almighty Guidance I resign
Myself this Night. Fall prostrate on the Earth,
Join me in fervent Prayer from Heart and Voice,
Let our warm Vows in Unison aspire.

DUET.

Oh thou, on whom the Weak depend,
Creator! Father! Champion! Friend!
Source divine of every Blessing,
Merciful beyond expressing,
To thy vow'd Votarist's Suit attend.
Inspiration pure impart,
Nerve her Arms and steel her Heart.
Not sung.
Kind Influence shed on this important Hour,
And as thou giv'st her Courage, grant her Power.

SCENE VI.

HOLOFERNES.
Crown me with Laurels, bring the Chaplets hither,
With Roses and with Myrtle bind each Brow,
Page  14For we to-day are Conquerors. Thus surrounded,
Like the fam'd Son of Lybian Jove I stand,
When to the Indian Shore he led his Legions,
And Victory fought beside him!—Fill the Goblets!
To Father Bacchus pour Libation due.
Let Mirth and Musick testify Devotion,
So should the Deity be prais'd and honour'd.

AIR.

Hail, immortal Bacchus! known
By thy Vine encircled Zone;
By the Crew that on thee wait,
Thy rosy Crest and reeling Gait.
Hither vested like the God
With thine Ivy, Wreath, and Rod;
Hither come in jolly Pride,
And o'er thy festive Rites preside.

Chorus of Assyrians.
Hail, immortal Bacchus! known
By thy Vine encircled Zone;
By the Crew that on thee wait,
Thy rosy Crest and reeling Gait.
Hither vested like the God
With thine Ivy, Wreath, and Rod;
Hither come in jolly Pride,
And o'er thy festive Rites preside.

Page  15

SCENE VII.

HOLOFERNES, JUDITH, Attendant, Chorus.
Hol.
Silence each ruder Sound, let nothing breathe
But softest Harmony.—Fair Judith comes,
Another Venus by the Graces led.
So when the Sea-born Goddess from the Foam
Prolific sprung, as on the boiling Deep
Her Form appear'd, the loud Winds fell to Whispers,
And the Waves crept in Murmurs to the Shore.
Jud.
Behold at thy Command, O Holofernes!
Thine Handmaid stands before thee.
Hol.
Thy Charms
O'erpow'r me with their Lustre! in a Blaze
Of Beauty I am lost!—O let me lean
My Head upon thy Bosom.
Jud.
Shall I question what to my Lord seems good—recline thy Head,
While I to lulling Sounds my Voice attune
And sing thy weary'd Spirits to Repose.

AIR.

Sleep, gentle Cherub!—Sleep descend!
Thy healing Wings protective spread,
And o'er his sacred Temples bend,
O bend their salutary Shade.

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Abra.
Bacchus to Venus has resign'd the Hero
With Wine oppressed; and in extatic Slumbers
His Senses are dissolved; remove him gently
To the inmost Chambers of the Tent, beneath
The Purple Canopy, beside his Couch
The fair shall watch and guard him from Disturbance.

Chorus of Assyrians.
Prepare the genial Bow'r, prepare,
And thou the Ruler of the Sphere,
Night halt thy sable Wain:
Halt, and shed double Darkness round,
Be still each Motion, hush'd each Sound,
Let Love and Silence reign.

END of the SECOND ACT.