Heraclius, Emperour of the East a tragedy
Corneille, Pierre, 1606-1684., Carlell, Lodowick, 1602?-1675.
ACT II. SCE. II.
Heraclius, Leontina, Eudoxia.
MAdam, you will be forc'd now to reveal
My birth, which you to serve me did conceal,
Pulcheria presently must be my Wife,
Incest's too great a price to pay for life,
If you do not, I must declare my self,
On either side, there is a dangerous shelf,
That threatens shipwrack, if you now can steer,
Avoid those dangers that so great appear.
As yet there's none that are assur'd you live.
'Tis said I do, that does suspicion give:
Forces are rais'd, Phocas means I shall go
My self against my self: Leon. The fancy'd Fo?
No where that I can hear of doth appear.
Even shadows will create a Tyrants fear:
Fear makes him doubtful, doubt doth danger breed,
For some, to cure those doubts and fears, may bleed.
I fear not for my self, he is to me
So kind, that kindness is an injury,
Breeds strife within me how to take his life
That offers such a Throne, and such a Wife.
'Tis to secure himself; Tyrants can love
No thing on Earth, since not the Pow'rs above:
And yet they think they do Children and Friends;
When 'tis indeed themselves and their own ends:
They only can be said truly to love;
When that affection others good doth move.
Thus love descends to us, which we return,
When in true zeal, to serve those powers, we burn.
A greater witness none did ever give.
You gave your Son to death, that I might live.
Let me no longer justice then defer:
You brought your Son, but he the Murtherer.
I'm weary longer to be thought the Son
Of him that hath so many mischiefs done.
To crown his ills, he'l take Pulcheria's life,
Or my own sister I must take to wife.
Though you her death, or worse, do incest fear,
Leave all to me, your person only spare;
For on your life depends the life of all:
The giddy people rise, and soon do fall,
Though I rejoice, their love seems now so great,
The least disaster qualifies their heat.
Be yet the Son of Phocas for a while,
Ere long you shall be heard in your own stile,
Mauritius' Son, and then with great applause,
This Tyrant shall be sentenc'd by your Laws.
I doubt th' occasion ne'r will be so good,
There's one pretends both to my Name and blood;
He may possess the peoples hearts, and I,
Although you'd join, shall not disprove his lie;
Impostors oft have got too near a Throne,
Who Tyrants dispossess are lov'd unknown:
Upon what right soever one pretends,
Hate to Usurpers yields Usurpers Friends:
And I, though the just Prince, may punisht be
As Son to Phocas for his villanie:
Which, witness Heaven, were such a curse to bear,
May well excuse my passion, and my fear.
She that preserv'd you with her dear Sons blood,
Cannot be grown less careful of your good;
Your honor too, I value at that rate,
That, to preserve it I would tempt my fate.
Your life and greatness have long been my care,
The fruit, the honour, none with me shall share.
Phocas ere long shall by my means be slain;
And Prince Heraclius in full glory raign:
If not, the bold attempt, shall fully prove
Duty more strong, than Nature, or self-love:
Our highest aim, is glory, here below;
Who hath it here, may greater glory know.
If love have value for a Lovers tears,
Preserve your Person, to secure my fears;
The Tyrants death, though just, will for some time,
Acted by you, appear a horrid crime:
The People, though well pleas'd, to see him fall,
Yet you a bloudy Paricide may call:
And say you only do assume a Name,
To get the Throne, and yet prevent the shame
Of gaining it; truth often is deni'd,
Till it by time and circumstance be tri'd.
Let not the least suspicion, Sir, appear,
To cloud your glory, that shines now so clear:
I know desire to right your Fathers wrongs —
I know, your will hath power, above all tongues,
Since you engage I will no more contest:
Who yields to love and gratitude, is blest.
The secret's yours, and I should be ingrate,
Without your leave to claim my Father's state.
No, 'twere in vain, whate're I undertake;
Even truth it self you can imposture make.
I may say more, the Empire's yours, not mine;
Which from you I'le receive, and here resign:
Her title, at least as mine, must prove as good,
Since it was purchas'd with her Brothers blood.