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    Act V

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    Chapter 6
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    SCENE I.--PSYCHE (alone)

    Alas! Ye awful waves of hell, ye gloomy palaces where Megaera and her sisters hold their court, far ever foes to the sun's light, amongst your Ixions and your Tantaluses, in the midst of so many incessant tortures, in these hideous recesses, what pain, what toil so great as those to which Venus condemns my love? Yet my troubles satisfy not her wrath; and since I am subject to her laws, since I see myself a prey to her resentment, in these cruel moments I must have had more than one soul, more than one life, to fulfil her commands. Yet all this I could bear with joy if, in the midst of her hatred, my eyes could behold, were it for one moment only, my darling, my beloved lover! His name I dare not utter; my lips, whose guilt it was to exact too much, are now unworthy of him; and in this deadly anguish, the keenest pain my ever-returning death subjects me to is that I may not see him. If his anger lasted still, no anguish could equal mine; but if he felt any pity for a soul that worships him, however great the sufferings to which I am condemned, I should feel them not. Yea, thou mighty destiny, if he would but stay his wrath, all my sorrows would be at an end. Ah! a mere look from the son suffices to make me insensible to the mother's fury. I will doubt it no longer; he shares my grief, he sees what I endure, and weeps with me; my sufferings are his too; it is a self-imposed law of love; in spite of Venus, in spite of my crime, he it is who sustains and revives me in the midst of the dangers I have to encounter. He harbours still the tender feelings urged by his passion, and hastens to restore me to new life as soon as I perish. But what would with me those two shades I see advancing towards me through the doubtful light of these dark recesses?


    PSY. Cleomenes, Agenor, is it not you whom I see? Who has deprived you of life?

    CLE. The meetest grief that could have caused a noble despair. That funeral pomp where you awaited the fiercest rigour and highest injustice of a fate most dark.

    AGE. On that same rock where heaven in its wrath was promising to you, instead of a husband, a dragon who would forthwith devour you, we held ourselves ready to repulse his fury, or die with you. You know it well, Princess; and when you disappeared from our gaze through the air, both, equally carried away by our love and grief, cast ourselves headlong from that rock, in order to follow your beauty, or rather to feel that love-born joy of offering in your behalf a first prey to the monster.

    CLE. We were fortunately deceived as to the meaning of your oracle; but here we have recognised its miracle, and learned that the serpent, ready to devour you, was the god who is the source of all love, and who, in spite of his divinity, adoring you himself, could not bear that mortals such as we are should presume to love you.

    AGE. We now enjoy a pleasant death, as a reward for having followed you. What would have been life to us if we could not have been yours? Here we behold your charms once more; which neither of us would ever have seen again in the world above. Happy shall we be if we see the merest tear honour the misfortunes of which you have been the cause.

    PSY. How can I have more tears to shed when my own misfortunes have been carried to the highest pitch? Let us mingle our sighs, since we have so fatal a destiny; we cannot exhaust sighs; but yours, Princes, are uttered in behalf of an ungrateful being. Yon would not survive my misfortune; but under whatever blow I fall, I cannot die for you.

    CLE. Have we deserved aught else, we whose great passion has not ceased to weary you with the tale of our woes?

    PSY. Princes, you might have won my whole soul but for your being rivals; those incomparable qualities which attended the vows of both rendered you too deserving of love to allow me to reject either.

    AGE. You have been able, without injustice or cruelty, to refuse a heart reserved for a god. But behold Venus! Fate bids us return, and forces us to say "Farewell."

    PSY. Is not leisure allowed you to tell me what your abode is here?

    CLE. Among groves ever green, where we breathe naught but love; no sooner do we die of love than through love we revive; we sigh for love under the sweet laws of his blest empire; and everlasting night dares not expel from it the day which Love himself brings on our phantoms, which he inspires, and of which he forms a court even in Hades.

    AGE. Your envious sisters, who descended here below after us lost themselves in the hope of losing you. Both, each in turn, as a reward for the plot which cost them their life, suffer, now the rock at Ixion's side, now the vulture at Tityus'! Love, by means of the Zephyrs, has executed on them swift justice for their envenomed and jealous malice. Those winged ministers of his just wrath, under pretence of restoring them again to you, cast them both to the bottom of a precipice, where the hideous spectacle of their mangled bodies displays but the first and least torture for that stratagem the cunning of which was the cause of the ills you now endure.

    PSY. How I pity them!

    CLE. You alone are to be pitied; but we tarry too long conversing with you. Farewell! May we live in your remembrance; may you, and that soon, have nothing further to dread. Soon may Love exalt you to heaven, place you beside the other gods, and, kindling again a flame that cannot be extinguished, release for ever your beauteous eyes from the task of increasing daylight in these realms!

    SCENE III.--PSYCHE (alone).

    Hapless lovers! their passion still continues; though dead, both love me--me, whose harshness so ill received their vows. 'Tis not thus thou actest--thou, who alone hast seized my heart; lover whom I still prize a thousand times more than my life, and who breakest such charming ties. Shun me no longer, and leave me to hope that one day thou shalt cast a glance on me, that by my sufferings, I shall please thee, and again win thy plighted faith. But my woes have disfigured me too much to allow to entertain such hopes. Eyes dejected, sad, despairing, pining, and with cheeks faded, what have I that can speak in my favour if some miracle impossible to foresee does not restore to me the beauty which once captivated thee? This treasure of divine beauty, which Proserpina has entrusted to me for Venus, contains charms which I can make mine own, and their lustre must be extreme, since beauty herself, Venus, requires them to adorn herself. Would it be a great crime to snatch a few? To captivate a god, who has been my lover, to recover his affection, and put an end to my torture, can anything that I may do be unlawful? Let me open it. What vapours cloud my brain? and what do I behold issuing from this open casket? Love, unless thy compassion forbids my death, I must needs descend to the tomb, never to live again.

    PSYCHE swoons, and LOVE flies towards her.


    LOVE. Thy danger, Psyche, dispels my wrath; nay, the violence of my passion has never abated; and though thou hast excited my highest displeasure, yet my anger was harboured only against my mother's wrath. I have seen all thy toils, I have followed all thy misfortunes, and throughout my sighs have answered thy tears. Look on me, I am still the same. What, again and again, I repeat that I love thee, and yet thou wilt not say that thou lovest me! Can it be that thy beauteous eyes are for ever closed, that they are for ever bereft of daylight? O Death! need'st thou have taken so cruel a dart, and, regardless of my eternal being, endangered my own life! How oft, ungrateful deity, have I swelled thy dark empire by the contempt or the cruelty of a fierce and proud fair one? How many faithful lovers, since I must confess it, have I, through irresistible raptures, sacrificed to thee? Go, I shall wound no more souls, I shall pierce no more hearts, but with darts dipped in the divine liquors that foster heaven's immortal passions. I shall hurl them no more but to make as many lovers as there are gods. As for thee, thou inexorable mother, who forcest her to bereave me of what I held dearest in this world, dread, in thy turn, the effects of my wrath. Thou wouldst sway my feelings, thou who art often swayed by my will; thou who wearest a heart as sensitive as that of mortals; thou enviest to mine the raptures of thine own! But in this same heart I shall plunge such darts as shall be followed by jealous sorrow. I shall crush thee by abasing ravishments, and ever choose as objects for thy dearest longings Adonises and Anchises who will nurse nothing but hatred towards thee.

    SCENE V.--VENUS, LOVE, PSYCHE (still senseless).

    VEN. The threat is full of respect, and the anger of a rebellious son presumptuous....

    LOVE. I am no longer a child; my childhood has been but too long, and my wrath is as just as it is impetuous.

    VEN. Its impetuosity should be subdued, and thou oughtest to remember that to me thou owest thy birth.

    LOVE. And thou mightest well not forget that thou possessest a heart and beauty that hold their power from me; that my bow is the only support of this power, that without my shafts it is nothing, and that if the stoutest hearts have suffered themselves to be drawn in thy triumphant train, thou hast never enslaved any one whose chains it was not my pleasure to forge. Mention no more those rights of birth that fetter my desires; and if thou dost not wish to lose a thousand sighs, pay thy tribute to gratitude when thou seest me; thou whose glory and delights are the offsprings of my power.

    VEN. How hast thou defended this glory of which thou speakest? How hast thou restored it to me? And when thou hast seen my shrines deserted, my temples violated, the honours due to me rivalled by those of another, if thou hast shared my shame, how hast thou punished Psyche, who hath stolen them from me? I bade thee throw a spell over her, that she might love the basest of mortals, who would not condescend to answer her passion but by continual repulse and cruellest contempt; and thyself thou hast loved her! Thou hast seduced immortal deities against me; for the Zephyrs have concealed her from me; for thee, Apollo himself, by an oracle cleverly turned, had snatched her from my power so well that, but for the curiosity which by a blind distrust restored her to my vengeance, she escaped for ever my angry passion. See to what thy love has reduced her, thine own Psyche! See! her soul is even now departing; and if thine is still smitten, receive now her last breath. Threaten and brave me if thou wilt, but she must die. So much insolence suits thee well; and I must needs bow to all it pleases thee to say, I, who can do nothing without thy darts.

    LOVE. Thy power is but too great, relentless goddess! Fate abandons her to thy wrath; but be less inexorable to the prayers and tears of a son who beseeches thee on his knees. It must be a pleasant sight enough for thee to see on one side Psyche expiring, on the other a son who, in a suppliant voice, wishes to hold his heart's happiness from thee only. Give me back my Psyche, restore to her all her charms, surrender her to my tears, to my love, to my grief; for she is my eyes' delight, my heart's happiness.

    VEN. However deep thy love for Psyche, do not expect me to put an end to her misfortunes. If Fate abandons her to me, I abandon her to her fate. Importune me no more, and let her in the midst of her calamities triumph or perish without Venus.

    LOVE. Alas! if I am too importunate, I would not be so if I could but die!

    VEN. This grief is not common that drives an immortal to long for death.

    LOVE. Thou mayest judge of the intensity of my passion by its very excess; wilt thou not be merciful?

    VEN. I must confess thy love touches my heart; it disarms, it abates my sternness; thy Psyche shall see the light again.

    LOVE. How powerfully I shall cause thy sway to be felt everywhere!

    VEN. Ay! thou shalt behold her decked in her first beauty; but I will have the entire deference of thy grateful vows. I will that a true respect allow my love to select for thee another spouse.

    LOVE. And I will have no such grace; I assume all my former boldness; I will have Psyche; I will have her plighted faith; I will that she live again, and that she live for me; and I reckon as naught that thy wearied hatred give way to favour another maiden. Jupiter, who even now appears, shall judge betwixt us, and decide between my insubordination and thy wrath.

    The lightning flashes, the thunder rolls, and JUPITER appears in the air borne aloft by his eagle.


    LOVE. O thou to whom alone all is possible, father of gods, lord of mortals, soften the rigour of an inexorable mother, who without me would have no shrines. I have wept, I have supplicated; I sigh, I threaten. Sighs and threats are alike vain. She will not perceive that on my displeasure hangs the happy or sad condition of the whole world, and that if Psyche dies, if Psyche be not mine, I am no longer "Love". Yes! I shall break my bow, shatter my arrows; I shall even extinguish my sacred flame, and leave all nature to pine to death; or if I deign to wound a few more hearts with these golden shafts that arrest my sway, I shall wound you all above in behalf of mortals, while I shall hurl against them blunted darts only that inspire hatred, and produce thankless and cruel rebels. What tyrannical law is this that would bind me to keep my shafts ever ready to serve you, and would have me make conquest upon conquest for you, while you forbid me to make one for myself?

    JUP. (to VENUS). My daughter, show thyself less severe towards him; his Psyche's destiny is even now in thy hands. Fate, at thy slightest word, is ready to follow up thy wrath. Speak, and let a mother's tenderness prevail upon thy designs. All dread this wrath which awes even me. Will thou leave the world to become the prey of hatred, disorder, and confusion, and change a god of union, of delights, of joy, into one of bitterness and division? Consider the lofty rank we hold, and say whether passion ought to sway our feelings. The word revenge is pleasing to mortals; the more is it meet that we should resort to forgiveness.

    VEN. I forgive this rebel son. Yet would you have me submit to the reproach that a contemptible mortal, the object of my wrath, proud Psyche, because she displays some charms, has defiled my alliance and my son's couch?

    JUP. Well, then, I make her immortal, so that all shall be equal.

    VEN. I feel no longer hatred or contempt for her, but admit her to the honour of this conjugal tie. Psyche! recover your life, never more to lose it. Jupiter has contrived your restoration, and I abandon that lofty humour which opposed itself to your wishes.

    PSY. (recovering from her fainting condition). It is you then, mighty goddess, who restores the life to this innocent being?

    VEN. Jupiter extends his pardon to you, and my wrath lasts no longer. Live! Venus commands it. Love allows it.

    PSY. (to LOVE). At last I see you again, dear object of my passion!

    LOVE (to PSYCHE). You are mine at last, my soul's own delight!

    JUP. Come, lovers, come; and conclude in heaven so great, so lofty a union. Come, fair Psyche, to change thy destiny, and take thy place among the gods.

    THE END.

    * * * * * * * * * * * *
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