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First Jewish Prophet.
First Chaldean Priest.
Second Jewish Prophet. Second Chaldean Priest.
Israelitish Woman. Chaldean Woman.
Chorus of Youths and Virgins.
Scene—The Banks of the River Euphrates near Babylon.
YE captive tribes, that hourly work and weer
Where flows Euphrates murmuring to the deep,
Suspend your woes awhile, the task suspend,
And turn to God, your father and your friend.
Insulted, chained, and all the world our foe,
Our God alone is all we boast below.
First Pro. Our God is all we boast below:
To Him we turn our eyes;
And every added weight of woe
Shall make our homage rise.
Suond Pro. And though no temple richly drest,
Nor sacrifice, are here;
We'll make His temple in our breast,
And offer up a tear.
[The first Stanza repeated by the Chorus. ISRAELITISH WOMAN.
That strain once more; it bids remembrance rise,
And brings my long-lost country to mine eyes.
Ye fields of Sharon, drest in flowery pride,
Ye plains where Kedron rolls its glassy tide,
Ye hills of Lebanon, with cedars crowned,
Ye Gilead groves, that fling perfumes around, -
How sweet those groves, that plain how wondrous fair,
How doubly sweet when Heaven was with us there!
O Memory, thou fond deceiver,
Still importunate and vain,
To former joys recurring ever,
And turning all the past to pain.
Hence intruder most distressing,
Seek the happy and the free:
The wretch who wants each other blessing,
Ever wants a friend in thee.
RECITATIVE. Yet why complain? What though by bonds confined ? Should bonds repress the vigour of the mind? 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 vaunting folly lifts her head on high? No; rather let us triumph still the more, And as our fortune sinks, our spirits 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 crushed, or trodden to the ground,
Diffuse their balmy sweets around.
But hush, my sons, our tyrant lords are near ;
The sound of barbarous pleasure strikes 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, nor 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.
Haste, ye sprightly sons of pleasure ;
Love presents the fairest 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 nor 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?
Every moment as it flows
Some peculiar pleasure owes.
Come then, providently wise,
Seize the debtor ere it flies.
Think not to-morrow can repay
The debt of pleasure lost to-day.
Alas! to-morrow's richest store
Can but pay its proper score.
Chained as we are, the scorn of all mankind,
To want, to toil, and every ill consigned,
Is this a time to bid us raise the strain,
Or mix in rites that Heaven regards with pain?
No, never. May this hand forget each art
That wakes to finest joys the human heart,
Ere I forget the land that gave me birth,
Or join to sounds profane its sacred mirth!
Rebellious slaves ! if soft persuasion fail,
More formidable terrors shall prevail.
Why, let them come; one good remains to cheer :
We fear the Lord, and scorn all other fear.
CHORUS OF ISRAELITES.
Can chains or tortures bend the mind
On God's supporting breast reclin'd ?
Stand fast, and let our tyrants see
That fortitude is victory.
Israelites and CHALDEANS, as before.
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 delayed :
The king's commands must fully be obeyed;
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 offered from his hand,
Think, timely think, what terrors are behind;
Reflect, nor tempt to 'rage the royal mind.
Fierce is the tempest howling
Along the furrowed main,
And fierce the whirlwind rolling
O’er Afric's sandy plain.
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 threatened blow!
Ye prophets, skilled in Heaven's eternal truth,
Forgive my sex's fears, forgive my youth !
Ah! let us one, one little hour obey;
To-morrow's tears may wash the stain away.
Fatigued with life, yet loth to part,
On hope the wretch relies;
And every blow that sinks the heart
Bids the deluder rise.
Hope, like the taper's gleamy light,
Adorns the wretch's way,
And still, as darker grows the night,
Emits a brighter ray.
RECITATIVE. 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.
RECITATIVE. But hold ! see foremost of the captive choir, The master prophet grasps his full-toned 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. And now his voice, accordant to the string, Prepares our monarch's victories to sing.
From north, from south, from east, from west,
Conspiring nations come; Tremble, thou vice-polluted breast;
Blasphemers, all be dumb.
The tempest gathers all around,
On Babylon it lies;
Down with her! down, down to the ground
She sinks, she groans, she dies.
Down with her, Lord, to lick the dust,
Before yon setting sun;
Serve her as she hath served the just !
'Tis fixed-It shall be done.
RECITATIVE. No more! when slaves thus insolent presume, The king himself shall judge, and fix their doom. Unthinking wretches ! have not you, and all, Beheld our power in Zedekiah's fall?