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Have we not cause for triumph, when we see
Ourselves alone from idol-worship free?
Are not this very morn those feasts begun,
Where prostrate error hails the rising sun ?
Do not our tyrant lords this day ordain
For superstitious rites and mirth profane?
And should we mourn? Should coward virtue fly,
When impious folly rears her front on high?
No; rather let us triumph still the more,
And as our fortune sinks, our wishes soar.
The triumphs that on vice attend
Shall ever in confusion end;
The good man suffers but to gain,
And every virtue springs from pain :
As aromatic plants bestow
No spicy fragrance while they grow,
But crush'd or trodden to the ground,
Diffuse their balmy sweets around.
Recitative. But hush, my sons! our tyrant lords are near; The sound of barbarous mirth offends mine ear; Triumphant music floats along the vale; Near, nearer still, it gathers on the gale; The growing sound their swift approach declares; Desist, my sons, por mix the strain with theirs.
Enter CHALDEAN PRIESTS, attended.
Come on, my companions, the triumph display;
Let rapture the minutes employ;
The sun calls us out on this festival day,
And our monarch partakes in the joy.
Like the sun, our great monarch all rapture supplies,
Both similar blessings bestow:
The sun with his splendour illumines the skies,
And our monarch enlivens below.
A Chaldean WOMAN.
Haste, ye sprightly sons of pleasure;
Love presents its brightest treasure,
Leave all other joys for me.
A Chaldean ATTENDANT.
Or rather Love's delights despising,
Haste to raptures ever rising:
Wine shall bless the brave and free.
Wine and beauty thus inviting,
Each to different joys exciting,
Whither shall my choice incline?
I'll waste no longer thought in choosing;
But, neither this por that refusing,
I'll make them both together mine.
But whence, when joy should brighten o'er the land,
This sullen gloom in Judah's captive band?
Ye sons of Judah, why the lute unstrung?
Or why those harps on yonder willows hung?
Come, take the lyre, and pour the strain along,
The day demands it; sing us Sion's song.
Dismiss your griefs, and join our warbling choir;
For who like you can wake the sleeping lyre!
Second PROPHET. Bow'd down with chains, the scorn of all mankind, To want, to toil, and every ill consign'd,
Is this a time to bid us raise the strain,
And mix in rites that Heaven regards with pain?
No, never! May this hand forget each art
That speeds the power of music to the heart,
Ere I forget the land that gave me birth,
Or join with sounds profane its sacred mirth!
Insulting slaves! if gentler methods fail,
The whips and angry tortures shall prevail.
Why, let them come, one good remains to cheer;
We fear the Lord, and know no other fear.
Can whips or tortures hurt the mind
On God's supporting breast reclin'd?
Stand fast, and let our tyrants see,
That fortitude is victory.
Scene as before.
Chorus of IsraELITES.
O peace of mind, angelic guest!
Thou soft companion of the breast!
Dispense thy balmy store.
Wing all our thoughts to reach the skies,
Till earth, receding from our eyes,
Shall vanish as we soar.
No more! Too long has justice been delay'd;
The king's commands must fully be obey’d:
Compliance with his will your peace secures,
Praise but our gods, and every good is yours.
But if, rebellious to his high command,
You spurn the favours offer'd at his hand;
Think, timely think, what terrors are behind;
Reflect, nor tempt to rage the royal mind.
Fierce is the whirlwind howling
O'er Afric's sandy plain,
And fierce the tempest rolling
Along the furrow'd main :
But storms that fly,
To rend the sky,
Every ill presaging,
Less dreadful show
To worlds below
Than angry monarch's raging.
Ah, me! what angry terrors round us grow;
How shrinks my soul to meet the threaten'd blow!
Ye prophets, skill'd in Heaven's eternal truth,
Forgive my sex’s fears, forgive my youth!
If shrinking thus, when frowning power appears,
I wish for life, and yield me to my fears.
Let us one hour, one little hour obey;
To-morrow's tears may wash our stains away.
To the last moment of his breath,
On hope the wretch relies;
And e’en the pang preceding death
Bids expectation rise.
Hope, like the gleaming taper's light,
Adorns and cheers our way;
And still, as darker grows the night,
Emits a brighter ray.
Second PRIEST. Why this delay? At length for joy prepare; I read your looks, and see compliance there. Come on, and bid the warbling rapture rise, Our monarch's fame the noblest theme supplies. Begin, ye captive bands, and strike the lyre; The time, the theme, the place, and all conspire.
See the ruddy morning smiling,
Hear the grove to bliss beguiling;
Zephyrs through the woodland playing,
Streams along the valley straying.
While these a constant revel keep,
Shall Reason only teach to weep?
Hence intruder! we'll pursue
Nature, a better guide than you.
Every moment, as it flows,
Some peculiar pleasure owes;
Then let us, providently wise,
Seize the debtor as it flies.
Think not to-morrow can repay
The pleasures that we lose to-day;
To-morrow's most unbounded store
Can but pay its proper score.
But, hush! see foremost of the captive choir,
The master-prophet grasps his full-ton'd lyre.
Mark where he sits, with executing art,
Feels for each tone, and speeds it to the heart.
See how prophetic rapture fills his form,
Awful as clouds that nurse the growing storm;'