Page images

Already move, nor longer stay afford;
High in the air they wave the flaming sword,
Your signal to depart; now down amain
They drive, and glide, like meteors, through the


Adam. Then farewell all; I will indulgent be To my own ease, and not look back to see. When what we love we ne'er must meet again, To lose the thought is to remove the pain.

Eve. Farewell, you happy shades ! Where angels first should practise hymns, and string Their tuneful harps,when they to heaven would sing. Farewell, you flowers, whose buds, with early care, I watch'd, and to the cheerful sun did rear : Who now shall bind your stems? or, when you fall, With fountain streams your fainting souls recal ? A long farewell to thee, my nuptial bower, Adorn'd with every fair and fragrant flower ! And last, farewell, farewell my place of birth! I go

to wander in the lower earth, As distant as I can; for, dispossest, Farthest from what I once enjoy'd, is best.

Raph. The rising winds urge the tempestuous

air ;

And on their wings deformed winter bear :
The beasts already feel the change; and hence
They fly to deeper coverts, for defence :
The feebler herd before the stronger run;
For now the war of nature is begun :
But, part you hence in peace, and, having mourn'd

your sin,

For outward Eden lost, find Paradise within.





Sed, cum fregit subsellia versu, Esurit, intaclam Paridi nisi vendat Agaven.--Juv.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]


« AURENG-ZEBE," or the Ornament of the Throne, for such is the interpretation of his name, was the last descendant of Timur, who enjoyed the plenitude of authority originally vested in the Emperor of India. His father, Sha-Jehan, had four sons, to each of whom he delegated the command of a province. Dar-Sha, the eldest, superintended the district of Delhi, and remained near his father's person; Sultan-Sujah was governor of Bengal, AurengZebe of the Decan, and Morat Bakshi of Guzerat. It happened, that Sha-Jehan being exhausted by the excesses of the haram, a report of his death became current in the provinces, and proved the signal for insurrection and discord among his children. Morat Bakshi possessed himself

of Surat, after a long siege, and Sultan-Sujah having declared himself independent in Bengal, advanced as far as Lahor, with a large army. Dara-Sha, the legitimate successor of the crown, was the only son of Sha-Jehan, who preferred filial duty to the prospect of aggrandisement. He des. patched an army against Sultan-Sujah, checked his progress, and compelled him to retreat. But Aureng-Zebe, the third and most wily of the brethren, had united his forces to those of Morat Bakshi, and advancing against Dara-Sha, totally defeated him, and dissipated his army. Aureng-Zebe availed himself of the military reputation and treasures, acquired by his success, to seduce the forces of Morat Bakshi, whom he had pretended to assist, and, seizing upon his person at a banquet, imprisoned him in a strong fortress. Meanwhile, he advanced towards Agra, where his father had sought refuge, still affecting to believe that the old Emperor was dead. The more pains Sha-Jehan took to contradict this report, the more obstinate was Aureng-Zebe in refusing to believe that he was still alive. And, although the Emperor despatched his most confidential servants to assure his dutiful son that he was yet in being, the incredulity of AurengZebe could only be removed by a personal interview, the issue of which was Sha-Jehan's imprisonment and speedy death. During these transactions, Dara-Sha, who, after his defeat, had fled with his treasures to Lahor, again assembled an army, and advanced against the conqueror; but, being deserted by his allies, defeated by Aureng-Zebe, and betrayed by an Omrah, whom he trusted

in his flight, he was delivered up to his brother, and by his command assassinated. Aureng-Zebe now assumed the throne, and advanced against Sultan-Sujah, his sole remaining brother; he seduced his

chief commanders, routed the forces who remained faithful, and drove him out of Bengal into the Pagan countries adjacent, where, after several adventures, he perished miserably in the mountains. Aureng-Zebe also murdered one or two nephews, and a few other near relations; but, in expiation of his complicated crimes, renounced the use of flesh, fish, and wine, living only upon barley-bread, vegetables, and confections, although scrupling no excesses by which he could extend and strengthen his usurped power.*

Dr Johnson has supposed, that, in assuming for his subject a living prince, Dryden incurred some risk; as, should AurengZebe have learned and resented the freedom, our Indian träde was exposed to the consequences of his displeasure. It may, however, be safely doubted, whether a monarch, who had actually performed the achievements above narrated, would have been scandalized by those imputed to him in the text. In other respects, the distance and obscurity of the events gave a poet the same authority over them, as if they had occurred in the annals of past ages ; a circumstance in which Dryden's age widely differed from ours, when so much has our intimacy increased with the Oriental world, that the transactions of Delhi are almost as familiar to us as those of Paris.

The tragedy of "Aureng-Zebe" is introduced by the poet's declaration in the prologue, that his'taste for heroic plays was now upon the wane:

But he has now another taste of wit ;
And, to confess a truth, though out of time,
Grows weary of his long-loved mistress, Rhyme.
Passion's too fierce to be in fetters bound,
And nature flies him, like enchanted ground.
What verse can do, he has perform'd in this,
Which he presumes the most correct of his.

Agreeably to what might be expected from this declaration, the verse used in “ Aureng-Zebe” is of that kind which may be most easily applied to the purposes of ordinary dialogue. There is much less of ornate structure and emphatic swell, than occurs in the speeches of Almanzor and Maximin; and Dryden, though late, seems to have at length discovered, that the language of true passion is inconsistent with that regular modulation, to maintain

• Voyages de Tavernier, seconde partie ; livre seconde.

« PreviousContinue »