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* Except some near in court, or bosom student
From Tecnicus his oratory.” In these retreats and in a scholar's disguise Orgilus has an opportunity of encountering his sister and his first love, Penthea; and an interview with the latter, bitterly painful to his feelings, awakens schemes of vengeance in his breast, which he leaves his present seclusion to prosecute. With the deepest dissimulation he apparently reconciles himself to Ithocles; he approves of a marriage between his sister Euphranea and Prophilus, the bosom friend of Ithocles, and even undertakes to provide a "slight device” by way of entertainment for their ensuing nuptials. The dark and prophetic intimations of the “ book-man” Tecnicus prepare the reader for the various catastrophes which are now impending. The first blow falls on the wretched wife of Bassanes. Penthea's reason sinks under the melancholy of her cruel situation ; yet even in the wreck of sense her feelings point to the author of her miseries, and the ravings which precede her dissolution stimulate the mind of Orgilus, already sufficiently excited for plans of vengeance. What a disordered mind was doing for Penthea age and infirmity were working for the good king Amyclas. Even in death, how. ever, the kind-hearted monarch is willing to see gayety, about him; and the recent nuptials of Euphranea and Prophilus afford a decent pretext for revelry and sport. The third victim is the self-condemned repentant Ithocless He dies by the hand of Orgilus, and the deadly vengeance of his murderer contrives that the fatal deed shall take place by the side of the lifeless body of his sister.
While the work of death is thus going on in other apartments, the state-rooms of the palace are thrown open,
and there all is music, mirth, and revelry.
They dance the first change; during u 'ich Armostes enters.
Arm. [whispers CALANTHA.] The king your father's dead.
They DANCE the second change.
Cal. Beshrew thee!
They DANCE the third change.
Enter ORGILUS. Org. [whispers Cal.] Brave Ithocles is murder'd, mur
der'd cruelly. Cal. How dull this music sounds! Strike up more
The last change.
The death of Amyclas had left Calantha queen of Sparta; and her first act of sovereignty is to decree the death of the murderer Orgilus. One mercy is extended to him in return for the honourable mention which, even in the midst of vengeance, he had made of his victim. He is allowed a choice of death, and he prefers that of being his own exe* cutioner, and bleeding himself to death. If Orgilus had allowed the chance of a coward's name to come between him and his mode of vengeance in the murder of Ithocles, it must be owned that himself “ shakes hands with time" in a spirit of the noblest constancy and resolution.
One character yet remained to be disposed of; and to the development of that character, and the funeral rites of Ithocles, the concluding scene of this pathetic drama is devoted. “No audience of the present day,” as Mr. Gifford justly observes, “would support a sight so dreadfully fantastic as the continuance of the revels amid such awful intelligence as reaches Calantha in quick suecession
Those of the poet's age, however, had firmer nerves,--and they needed them: the caterers for their amusements were mighty in their profession, and cared little how highly the passions of the spectators were wound up by the tremendous exhibitions to which they accustomed them, as they had ever some powerful stroke of nature or of art at command to compose or justify them;"_and such a stroke presently falls from this rare union of masculine vigour and female tenderness.
Oh, my lords, I but deceiv'd your eyes with antic gesture, When one news straight came huddling on another, Of death! and death! and death! still I danced forward ; But it struck home, and here, and in an instant. Be such mere women, who, with shrieks and outcries, , Can vow a present end to all their sorrows, Yet live to (court] new pleasures, and outlive them : They are the silent griefs which cut the heartstrings; Let me die smiling.
A solemn dirge, “which she had fitted for her end,” fola lows this pathetic explanation, and, while it is singing, the spirit of its composer had passed away.
Bass. Her “heart is broke,” indeed.
OUR scene is SPARTA. He whose best of art
This Prologue is in the author's best manner, and, whether considered in a moral or poetical light, entitled to considerable praise—Girroad.