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Thus without crime I fled; but farther know,
I with this Arcite am thy mortal foe:
Then give me death, since I thy life pursue;
For safeguard of thyself, death is my due.
More wouldst thou know? I love bright Emily,
And for her sake and in her sight will die:
But kill my rival too; for he no less
Deserves; and I thy righteous doom will bless,
Assur'd that what I lose, he never shall possess."
To this reply'd the stern Athenian prince,
And sourly smil'd: "In owning your offence,
You judge yourself; and I but keep record
In place of law, while you pronounce the word.
Take your desert, the death you have decreed;
I seal your doom, and ratify the deed:
By Mars, the patron of my arms, you die."
He said; dumb Sorrow seiz'd the standers-by.
The queen above the rest, by nature good,
(The pattern form'd of perfect womanhood)
For tender pity wept: when she began,
Through the bright quire th' infectious virtue ran.
All dropt their tears, ev'n the contended maid,
And thus among themselves they softly said:
"What eyes can suffer this unworthy sight!
Two youths of royal blood, renown'd in fight,
The mastership of Heaven in face and mind,
And lovers, far beyond their faithless kind :
See their wide streaming wounds; they neither came
For pride of empire, nor desire of fame :
Kings for kingdoms, madmen for applause;
But love for love alone; that crowns the lover's
This thought, which ever bribes the beauteous kind,
Such pity wrought in every lady's mind,
They left their steeds, and prostrate on the place,
From the fierce king, implor'd th' offenders grace.
He paus'd awhile, stood silent in his mood (For yet his rage was boiling in his blood); But soon his tender mind th' impression felt, (As softest metals are not slow to melt And pity soonest runs in softest minds): Then reasons with himself; and first he finds His passion cast a mist before his sense, And either made, or magnify'd th' offence. [cause? "Offence! of what? to whom? who judg'd the The prisoner freed himself by Nature's laws : Born free, he sought his right: the man he freed Was perjur'd, but his love excus'd the deed." Thus pondering, he look'd under with his eyes, And saw the women's tears, and heard their cries, Which mov'd compassion more; he shook his head, And softly sighing to himself he said: [can draw
"Curse on th' unpardoning prince, whom tears To no remorse; who rules by lions' law; And deaf to prayers, by no submission bow'd, Rends all alike; the penitent, and proud." At this, with look serene, he rais'd his head; Reason resum'd her place, and Passion fled: Then thus aloud he spoke: "The power of Love, In Earth, and seas, and air, and Heaven above, Rules, unresisted, with an awful nod;
By daily miracles declar'd a god :
He blinds the wise, gives eye-sight to the blind;
And moulds and stamps anew the lover's mind.
Behold that Arcite, and this Palamon,
Freed from my fetters, and in safety gone,
What hinder'd either in their native soil
At ease to reap the harvest of their toil;
But Love, their lord, did otherwise ordain,
And brought them in their own despite again,
To suffer death deserv'd; for well they know,
'Tis in my power, and I their deadly foe;
The proverb holds, that to be wise and love,
Is hardly granted to the gods above.
See how the madmen bleed; behold the gains
With which their master, Love, rewards their pains;
For seven long years, on duty every day,
Lo their obedience, and their monarch's pay:
Yet, as in duty bound, they serve him on ;
And, ask the fools, they think it wisely done;
Nor ease, nor wealth, nor life itself regard,
For 'tis their maxim, love is love's reward.
This is not all; the fair for whom they strove
Nor knew before, nor could suspect their love,
Nor thought, when she beheld the fight from far,
Her beauty was th' occasion of the war.
But sure a general doom on man is past,
And all are fools and lovers, first or last:
This both by others and myself I know,
For I have serv'd their sovereign long ago;
Oft have been caught within the winding train
Of female snares, and felt the lover's pain,
And learn'd how far the god can human hearts
To this remembrance, and the prayers of those
Who for th' offending warriors interpose,
I give their forfeit lives; on this accord,
To do me homage as their sovereign lord;
And as my vassals, to their utmost might,
Assist my person, and assert my right."
This freely sworn, the knights their grace obtain❜d.
Then thus the king his secret thoughts explain'd:
"If wealth, or honour, or a royal race,
Or each, or all, may win a lady's grace,
Then either of you knights may well deserve
A princess born; and such is she you serve:
For Emily is sister to the crown,
And but too well to both her beauty known:
But should you combat till you both were dead,
Two lovers cannot share a single bed :
As therefore both are equal in degree,
The lot of both be left to Destiny.
Now hear th' award, and happy may it prove
To her, and him who best deserves her love!
Depart from hence in peace, and free as air,
Search the wide world, and where you please repair;
But on the day when this returning Sun
To the same point through every sign has run, Then each of you his hundred knights shall bring, In royal lists, to fight before the king;
And then the knight, whom Fate or happy Chance
Shall with his friends to victory advance,
And grace his arms so far in equal fight,
From out the bars to force his opposite,
Or kill, or make him recreant on the plain,
The prize of valour and of love shall gain;
The vanquish'd party shall their claim release,
And the long jars conclude in lasting pea
The charge be mine t' adorn the chosen ground,
The theatre of war, for champions so renown'd;
And take the patron's place of either knight,
With eyes impartial to behold the fight;
And Heaven of me so judge, as I shall judge aright.
If both are satisfied with this accord,
Swear by the laws of knighthood on my sword."
Who now but Palamon exults with joy?
And ravish'd Arcite seems to touch the sky :
The whole assembled troop was pleas'd as well,
Extol th' award, and on their knees they fell
To bless the gracious king. The knights, with leave
Departing from the place, his last commands receive;
On Emily with equal ardour look,
And from her eyes their inspiration took :
From thence to Thebes' old walls pursue their way,
Each to provide his champions for the day.
It might be deem'd, on our historian's part,
Or too much negligence or want of art,
If he forgot the vast magnificence
Of royal Theseus, and his large expense.
He first enclos'd for lists a level ground,
The whole circumference a mile around;
The form was circular; and all without
A trench was sunk, to moat the place about.
Within, an amphitheatre appear'd,
Rais'd in degrees, to sixty paces rear'd;
That when a man was plac'd in one degree,
Height was allow'd for him above to see.
Eastward was built a gate of marble white;
The like adorn'd the western opposite.