’Tis not a god, ’tis thine own heart that speaks.
’Tis through the heart alone they speak to us.
To hear them have I not an equal right?
The raging tempest drowns the still small voice.
This voice no doubt the priestess hears alone.
Before all others should the prince attend it.
Thy sacred office, and ancestral right
To Jove’s own table, place thee with the gods
In closer union than an earth-born savage.
Thus must I now the confidence atone
Thyself didst wring from me!
I am a man.
And better ’tis we end this conference.
Hear then my last resolve. Be priestess still
Of the great goddess who selected thee;
And may she pardon me, that I from her,
Unjustly and with secret self-reproach,
Her ancient sacrifice so long withheld.
From olden time no stranger near’d our shore
But fell a victim at her sacred shrine.
But thou, with kind affection (which at times
Seem’d like a gentle daughter’s tender love,
At times assum’d to my enraptur’d heart
The modest inclination of a bride),
Didst so inthral me, as with magic bowls,
That I forgot my duty. Thou didst rock
My senses in a dream: I did not hear
My people’s murmurs: now they cry aloud,
Ascribing my poor son’s untimely death
To this my guilt. No longer for thy sake
Will I oppose the wishes of the crowd,
Who urgently demand the sacrifice.
For mine own sake I ne’er desired it from thee.
Who to the gods ascribe a thirst for blood
Do misconceive their nature, and impute
To them their own inhuman dark desires.
Did not Diana snatch me from the priest,
Holding my service dearer than my death?
’Tis not for us, on reason’s shifting
Lightly to guide and construe rites divine.
Perform thy duty; I’ll accomplish mine.
Two strangers, whom in caverns of the shore
We found conceal’d, and whose arrival here
Bodes to my realm no good, are in my power.
With them thy goddess may once more resume
Her ancient, pious, long-suspended rites!
I send them here,—thy duty not unknown.