Heraclius, Emperour of the East a tragedy
Corneille, Pierre, 1606-1684., Carlell, Lodowick, 1602?-1675.



Enter Leontina, Eudoxia.

I Fear'd his passion sad effects would move.


His Birth conceal'd from me, had shew'd small love.

As great imprudence shew'd he to reveal:
How hardly women secrets can conceal?
You could not chuse but whisper what you knew
To some false friend perhaps that envies you;
By which grown publick that Heraclius lives,
Such and alarum to the Tyrant gives,
Page  14It troubles not so much as it doth arm,
By that foreknowledge to prevent his harm;
What's unexpected easily may annoy,
Where strength's awake we hardly can destroy;
His former guilt he quickly will encrease,
And sacrifice Heraclius to his peace.
The secret kept, he lov'd him as his Son,
His life, your love, my care, you have undone.
Madam, 'tis fit that I your passion bear,
But reason heard, it quickly will appear
That I am free from this so great offence;
How is this secret known then, or from whence?
Is it from me? or is it from the Prince?
From neither: for if you examin well,
They only say he lives, but do not tell
How, you usurping Phocas did deceive,
Heraclius sparing, one of yours did leave
To feel the Tyrants rage: an act so high:
Though your Son's dead, our fame can never die.
Nor was your wisdom than your courage less,
When being made the Prince's Governess,
Mauritius's Son you did to Phocas give,
While the true Martian as your Son did live,
Leontius call'd by my dead Brother's name,
Who in this sacrifice does share your fame.
Yet none pretend to say 'twas carryed so,
As had I blaz'd the secret, all must know.
'Tis true, 'tis only said Heraclius lives,
Which without circumstance no indice gives;
The rest is so ignor'd, some simply good
Expect he should by miracle not blood,
Resume a Throne usurp'd upon his Sire,
But see he comes, and let your fears expire.
Page  15


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.
Page  16
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.
Page  17
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.
To Leontina.
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.
Page  18


Leontina, Eudoxia.
MY Plot now ripe, I must no more conceal
My deep design, but all to thee reveal;
For, you may help to perfect my intent:
Phocas by Martian must to death be sent.
Twas for that cause I gave him a reprieve,
And that Act done, he should no longer live,
But for Pulcheria's sake, whom he doth love;
A Mistress with a Throne must strongly move.
To kill his Father, Madam, 's an offence,
With which nor Love, or Empire can dispence.
His kill'd the common Father of us all;
Tis just that he by his own Son should fall.

Tis just to him, but unjust to his Son.

He shall not know he's such till it be done,
But pass still for Leontius, son to me,
And so by both their deaths Heraclius free.
I know the guiltie Father merits death,
But that so brave a Son should stop his breath,
To me looks horrid, though he know it not,
His so great fame will have a lasting blot.
It is not fit a bloudie Tyrants son
Should wear that Glorie he as mine hath won.
Enter Page.
Exuperius comes to kiss your hand.
Page  19
Exuperius! I am at a stand.
That name surprizes me; what makes he here?
How this new Visitant revives my fear?
He hates the Tyrant for his Fathers bloud.
Of tattling still I tell you comes no good.


Exuperius, Leontina, Eudoxia.
MAdam, Heraclius is discover'd.
Leontina to Eudoxia.
If I —
Leontina to Eudoxia.
Peace. But since when, or where, or how?
to Exup:

By me just now.


And he is doom'd to die?


The Tyrant yet knows not the Mystery?




Madam, he comes, you need not fear.


None but my Son Leontius does appear.


Martian taken for Leontius, Exuperius, Leontina, Eudoxia.
MAdam, you need no more put on disguise;
We by a Paper now, are all made wise.
Page  20MARTIAN taken for Leontius.
Madam, you know, and best can understand,
If this be feigned, or Mauritius hand,
Whether it disabuse, or more delude;
Pray clear what yet hath great incertitude:
I cannot be your Son, and yet his too;
If any know the Caracter, you do.
Gives her a Paper.
She reads.
LEONTINA hath deceived PHOCAS; and by delivering one of her Sons to death, preserved mine, to inherit the Empire: You that remain faithfull Subjects, honour and assist so great Vertue; HERACLIƲS lives under the Name of LEONTIƲS.
He tels you true, Sir, you were in my hands,
When Phocas entred with his Rebel bands;
Seiz'd on the Emp'rour; let him only live
To see his children die, more grief to give.
I past all hope, you longer to conceal,
To save your life, I did my self reveal:
Offer'd my Son to Phocas in your stead,
Gave you the name of him that now is dead,
For whom these tears; he was your sacrifice,
And from his death your life and greatness rise.
Nature though then struck dead, by duties force,
Does now revive and cause this briny source.
Weeps a while.
Phocas thus ravish'd with deluding joy,
Heaps favoure on me, and on you a Boy;
favours so great, some said my Son and I
Did seem with him to share his Tyranny.
This, Sir, I thought not fit for to declare,
Till you had got so great a name in war,
That all might judge, your birth must needs be great,
Since so much merit claim'd the highest seat:
And this great news, that makes the Tyrant fear,
Must prove a truth when you your self appear;
Page  21MARTIAN taking himself for Heraclius.
But, Madam, that you have conceal'd all this,
Though it seem well, I feel what is amiss.
I did not know all that the Emp'ror knew;
Things done long since, men may suspect not true;
My testimony rests on your strong arm,
Else what design'd 'gainst him, may prove our harm.
The Emp'ror forc'd to see his own Child die,
To Leontina.
Became a witness of your Policy,
And did design to hinder your intent,
But th' Executioner did that prevent:
After, a little pleas'd to think his Son
Might right the wrongs to him and his then done;
He told it Felix, and this Paper gave,
Who gave it me, that put him in his grave,
Call'd it a Legacy, that might dethrone
The Tyrant under whom the world did groan.
Arm'd with this secret, I desir'd to know,
Who would with me the danger undergo?
The People now are up, our friends assemble,
The Tyrant, from his fears and guilt, doth tremble:
Shew but your self; do but our forces lead:
As he my Fathers, I'le take off his head.
I secretly gave out, that you yet live,
But where, or how, did no suspicion give.
All that are honest, love Mauritius' Name;
Those that are not, yet having miss'd their aim,
Seek, in their discontent, to bring you in:
What they call'd just before, they now call sin.
MARTIAN taking himself for Heraclius.
Surpriz'd with a discourse so new and strange,
Wonder not, that you see my passions change;
I know how great a debt to you I owe,
That to Mauritius' Heir such love did show,
Page  22I ow'd you, as your Son, my life before,
And if not yours, my obligation's more:
But how can I my gratitude declare,
When this strange story breeds a Civil-war?
You know I love; your story makes my flame,
Which was my glorie, now appear my shame;
Incest! to love a sister; what's a Throne,
When she that can command all hearts, is gone?
My love thus murmurs; and my heart must break:
(Pardon distraction) how or what to speak:
to Exuperius.
Dutie and Honour, yet doth me command,
To give a Chief' to your illustrious Band.
Justice requires that one thing must be done,
Though Phocas perish, yet preserve his Son:
He has no guilt, but that he's of his bloud;
The Fathers ill cannot out-weigh his good.
To your commands we shall obedience pay.
Hast, Sir, to those that with impatience stay.
Exit EXƲP.


Martian taking himself for Heraclius, Leontina, Eudoxia.
taking himself for Heraclius.
MAdam, though you have made a strange discourse,
That both my faith and reason seems to force;
Yet since 'tis you, my faculties submit,
To credit any thing that you think fit.
Though others this reserve might jealous make,
You did of Martian's love advantage take,
To raise your dear Eudoxia to the Throne,
And that the cause this secret's so late known.
Page  23Or that you thought it was enough for me,
That I from you derive my Pedigree:
But 'twere in me a crime this to believe;
Yet have you done what I may ever grieve.
Why did you by all waies my passion move?
Is Incest such a happiness in love?
I had been happie, if I then had di'd,
Since now to love Pulcheria is deni'd:
When I Leontius was, you fann'd a fire,
Which, if I be Heraclius, must expire.
I know your Vertue, what could you then mean,
To make me act a Part in such a Scene?
I let you love her, that a noble flame
Might raise your soul, to gain an equal fame.
taking himself for H•••clius.
Both in the mean time infamous had 〈…〉
Twas in my power still to prevent your 〈◊〉
I knew the Tyrant, and his great design:
Pulcheria was to marry in his Line,
Thus you neglected might offended be,
And add that wrong to former tyranny,
Which might excite you to a just return:
Strike now, lest you a Sisters death do mourn,
Pulcheria perishes, unless he fall
A timely Victim to preserve us all.
taking himself for Heracl.
Were it not best, since she cannot be mine,
I won her, to accomplish his design?
When in Leontius she a Brother sees,
Martian, by easie waies and soft degrees,
Will reach her heart; nor can I to my mind,
A nobler Husband for my sister find.

What do I hear? or what do you propose?

taking himself for Herac.
Her life and mine I foolishly expose,
Page  24That Match I most desire for to prevent;
How rashly too Heraclius name is lent
To a small Partie, an ill manag'd Plot?
'Twould prove unto my Name a fatal blot,
To gain the Crown by an Assassinate,
And all my honour to it immolate:
No, rather let my glorie plead for me,
The cause so just, what doubt of Victorie?
My Father's, Brother's, Friends revenge I shall;
Whose ends are great, can never basely fall.
But with Pulcheria, since so near alli'd,
I must consult, her will shall be my guide;
With your Eudoxia, you —

Yet, Sir, hear me.

taking himself for Herac.
I have much need in such difficultie,
Of prudent counsel; yet in your design
So many other int'rests may combine:
I must advise elsewhere; not that I do
Your zeal or faith mistrust, the world in you
Must ever both applaud; but I resign
My conduct now to one that's wholly mine.


Leontina, Pulcheria.
I Am confounded; all things cross my mind:
I thought all done, not half is done I find;
And when my hazards just rewards expect,
I find all humane Counsels have defect.
The Paper yet which Martian does abuse,
Works in my favour all that I would chuse;
Page  25It strongly 'gainst the Father arms the Son,
But e're the blow can fall, the passion's don;
Instinct of Nature in a secret way,
Though he knows nothing does his furie stay.
The Note surprizes, not deludes him quite;
And dazled, not misled by this new light:
He hinders that himself he would promote,
And flying incest, does for incest vote.
Madam, at least you now may plainly see,
That your great secret was not told by me.
But what's the reason, Mother, that you thus
Take name and title from Heraclius?
That Note which you affirm'd a truth to be
Is a sure step to Martian's dignity.
Think you if thus he do assume the Crown,
At your request that he will lay it down?
Twere vain for you to say, the Paper's feign'd,
None quit such Powers, unless they be constrain'd;
Folly to hope such vertue from your words,
Phocas once slain; he will command all Swords.
Love makes you curious, you too much would know,
Let it suffice, I know which way to go.
Only I must again see Exupere,
For in him rests the only cause I fear.