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trials of air, fire, and water, to be per- this city, through which an awful mitted to enter the mysterious cham- Figure was seen, seated on a throne, a ber where the passions of life were glare of level light fell on a black imaged and its destiny unfolded; and, river flowing round the walls and far lastly, to be afforded a vision of the across the plain; and as it illuminated realms of Elysium and the gloomy the faces of the endless army of sharegions of the dead.
dowsadvancing, Gyges perceived, that, The awful lights and darkness, the although they bore an unusual aspect mysterious voices and music, which of terror and regret, their countenances filled the air during his contemplation as they approached nearer the burnof the wondrously managed drama of ing throne of the judgment hall, bore existence and destiny, were indeed well amil endless variety, an expression of calculated, by affecting the imagina- all the varied passions of humanity. tion, to prepare it for the culminating As one mighty multitude swept terrors and splendours of the final across the river and gathered in silent scenes of initiation ; and, despite the and gloomy circles beneath the throne, profound insight which his magical occupied by the presiding figure, a power had given him into the motives sound, as of thunder, which had and machinery of general life, it was ceaselessly muttered through the dark not without a feeling of fear that he cavernous clouds of the upper firmafollowed the hierophant to the cham- ment, suddenly broke above the city, ber, from which he was to descend terroring in peals of such concentrated into the regions of subterranean dark- wrath and vengeance, that for the
Seated, as it seemed, in a time its deep foundations shook and winged chariot, he felt himself the infernal heaven seemed threatendescending, for upwards of an hour, ing its overthrow and ruin. Then into the depths of the earth, in silence Gyges saw the shadows, one by one, and profound gloom. Arrived at the called to judgment; as each passed, bottom of the gulf, a long arcadle, dimly the lightning eyes of the potent minisilluminated, opened ; and as he ad- ter becoming fixed on their hearts, vanced he was joined by the hiero- --read in a swift and single glance phant, who, leading him through a the history of their lives on earth, gloomy cavern, to what seemed the and adjudicated their destiny. On summit of a precipice, shrouded in either side of the throne the hosts of gloom, waved his wand and announced the blessed and the doomed were seen the vision of the Land of the Dead. to form, and as the judge signalled
Advancing with cautious footsteps his attending powers each were hurthrough the impenetrable gloom of ried away,—the one heralded by a this "narrow subterranean path, the music whose happy strains seemed to hierophant, who held his hand, caused pass in vibrations of joy, towards a him to pause at a certain point, a few bright region beyond the shining sea;--feet in advance of which the moun- the other by soul-terrifying thunders, tain's side precipitously descended. which, raging over and following the Looking beneath, Gyges perceived an dark hosts of despair, seemed to roll immense plain, which stretched away to some remote realm in the depths to a dark horizon, crossed by a level of the subterranean infinite, where, streak, dimly gleaming, like a distant beyond the fiery cataracts of Phlegesea. Across this vast region long trains thon, darkened the land of eternal of shadows were seen passing from punishment,of everlasting sorrow, and a ravine between two remote, stupen- despair. dous mountains, like drifts of dark Suddenly, a thick cloud possessing clouds, towards a mighty city, whose the region terminated the vision. huge black towers, palaces of judg. Presently a light, as that of day, broke ment, and hails of atonement, piled upon a new world, and series of new in colossal majesty, dominated the scenes, and Gyges beheld, passing in region, while fires, fierce and cruel, succession before him, the history of glared from the inner chambers and the gods and the mighty heroes, their pinnacles, which ascended until they offspring. First, from the chaotic were lost in, and mingled with, the tumult of the yet commingled heaven firmamental' dome of impenetrable and earth, a group of giant forms, shadow. From the gigantic portal rude as the rock, yet crowned with of one great structure in the centre of a celestial brightness, were seen to
arise, and preside over the prospect of wherever he wandered, assumed a mountains and seas,assuming distinct- demoniacal cast, he already conceived ness, and of a clearing firmament, himself to have attained to the being with its glittering stars; then a vision of a god. of a green and fruitful region, inha- After ranging the earth from the bited by a happy race, who dwelt in regions of civilization to those still plains filled with flocks and yellow enveloped in the cloud of fable—from with corn, and in remote cities on the the flaming skies of the tropic to the mountain summits, where Saturn snows of Scythia-from the gardens reigned. Then the age of peace and of the Hesperides, in the shadow of plenty gave way to a scene of war Atlas, whose terrors and beauties and devastation; armies of giants sunk into commonplace, disenchanted were seen advancing under a flaming by observation, to the fabled realm of sun, from the wild fastnesses of the phantonis in the ignorant, deserted earth, and contending with heaven realms of cloud and snow-now huritself, until overwhelmed with the rying through the seas, and along the thunders of a warlike king. These, western shores, amid races scarcely and many other scenes, from time to less savaye than the wild animals time, arose before the vision of the with whom they lived in commonneophyte, and hours passed while he through the lairs of monstrous forms gazed attentively on the history of the in the remote fastnesses of creation world from the age of the gods until giants of the ocean, the earth, the air that of the war of Troy.
--and now revelling among the most When, after the above series of luxuriant of the world, in the cedared visions had passed, the hierophant halls of Nineveh and Babylon-Gyges left Gyges alone, as customary, to eventually returned to Lydia. Then, permit the impression of the awful as laden with riches, and attended by world of death to work upon the a numerous train of slaves, he entered imagination, the latter rendering him- the gates of Sardis, sated with pleaself invisible began, having procured a sure and experience, one desire only torch, to examine the place in which remained in his haughty and arrogant he was. It was not without laughter soul-that of reigning. he discovered, that he had been gazing Received with the highest honours through a series of magnifying glasses and the supremest pomp by King on a number of puppets moved by Candules, who, rejoicing at his return, machinery in an underground cham- and conceiving that he could utilize ber, and that the awful drama which in the furtherance of his policy the had so affected his fancy and emo- mysterious gift possessed by his guest, tions was the result of a toy.
Gyges, already began to entertain the After visiting Eleusis, and consult- most ambitious dreams of empire. He ing several of the most famous oracles, took up his residence in a palace alwhose mysteries, like those of the lotted him, and by lavishing largess holy town, vanished under his exami- and gifts amid the nobles of the court nation, Gyges passed several years in and the people, well-nigh outshone travelling from city to city, and the monarch in magnificence. through the various nations of the Among other gifts bestowed by earth, Greek and barbarian. Im- Gyges on the king was a beautiful mense, during this interval, was the slave, named Paipha, whom he had experience which he gained of the purchased for a vast sum in one of nature of races and humanity in its the Ionian cities, where, on her armanifold phases, from the palace of rival from those northern mountains the monarch to the hut of the savage. lying between the great inland seas, Gifted with invisibility, all varieties of where her race-said to be the handlife, the inmost secrets of the heart somest among the people of the became known to him, and he alter- earth-had their habitation, she had nately drained the cup of pleasure been educated by the cunningest masand revelled in the exercise of almost ters and mistresses in music, dancing, unlimited power. Unharmed, he es- and such like arts, as ministered to caped every danger ; recklessly he the luxury of Asiatic palaces. Sudrevelled in every delight; and while denly, enchanted with the charms and his nature, moulded by the exercise graces of this lovely odalisque, Canof supreme dominion over mortal souls dules appeared to forget his projects
THE PALACE TERRACE.
of power ; he passed days and nights person and even supernatural gifts, in revel, and, for the time, the festal found that neither could he touch the garland, the cithara, and wine-cup, heart of the Queen or accomplish his rather than the sceptre, became the ambitious purposes without acquiessymbol of his majesty. From this cence in the demands of her imperious dream, however, he might have will, whose direction he was at little shortly reawakened, but for the jea- loss to discover. lousy with which his Queen, Nysseawho was a daughter of the oldest and most potent line of Persian kings-legarded the changed demeanour of the It is evening : a magnificent sunset monarch, the loss of his heart which flaming along the west, and tingeing she had won by her beauty, while she with fire the palace of Sardis, glows added possessions to his throne, and goldenly on the fountains and arbours the degrading indolence in which Can- scattered along its lofty-terraced gardules, once renowned as a warrior- dens, from which, for many a league, now turned out an effeminate sybarite, the rich surrounding country can be -was plunged. Presently, however, seen, with its plains, mountains, as time rolled on, and increased the rivers, and woods, mingling in a suKing's indifference to his consort, who perb panorama. The only figures neverentered his presence-indeed sel- which appear in this luxurious resort dom beheld him, except when accom- are Gyges and the Queen; and as they panied by Paipha, he descended to pace to-and-fro, wrapped in converse, the gilded barge, for moonlit revel on the light flames on her angry forethe bosom of the bright river—the jea- head and on the strong, dark, mystelousy with which Queen Nyssea had rious eyes and daring face of her been smitten became inflamed into companion. Presently a train of revengful rage, and this passion soon horsemen are seen approaching the led to events whose thread was woven palace gate, surrounding a chariot in in the darkest and most tragic loom which a female figure reclines, under of destiny.
a silken canopy. The queen averts her Simultaneously with the success of face, on which centres an expression the plans which Gyges had thus laid of mingled rage and disdain. for the attainment of sovereignty, his As suddenly they pause beneath the intimacy with the Queen (who at first colossal statue of a giant king, which regarded him with fear and antipathy, throws its shadow along the terrace, as the chief cause of the alteration of a dark cloud crossing the sun swiftly conduct manifested towards her by broods over the sky,--a peal of thunCandules) increased ; nor during the der, startles the echoes of the mounnow frequent interviews which oc- tains,- a gloom falls on the gardens curred between them in a palace and palace. plunged in riot, did he lose the op- Gyges. —The King returns from portunity of working on the darker hunting. How passes he the night? passions of her being, and seeking, by Nyssea.- As usual, in sottish revel attracting her confidence, to establish with this wretched slave. Ah, Gyges, himself in her heart, thus unworthily hadst thou ambition, thou mightest abandoned by the King. Nyssea, how- be king. ever, whose tact equalled her beauty, Gyges. —And share thy throne ? possessed a character, strong, ambi- Nyssea.--Ay. tious, revengeful. The furies of out
(A pause.] raged affection and dignity, reigning Gyges.---Thou knowest the passage sleeplessly in her soul, sternly leading from my palace to the priguarded its doors against the admis- vate chambers of the king; of late sion of a second passion, except under the entrance door from that side I such conditions as would render its have ever found locked. You underinspirer the instrument of her designs. stand ? A number of feelings, some fixed, Nyssea.--At midnight, when he some fluctuating, agitated her breast is asleep, I will open the southern -hatred of Paipha, hatred and con- portal ; then, invisibly, thou canst tempt of the king, antipathy of Gyges, enter, and
— the morning finds thee alternating with a softer emotion ; on the Lydian throne. but the latter, despite his attractive Gyges. --So; let's pass the interval
THE KING'S CHAMBER.
with feast and music; beautiful she holds her breath, at the royal Queen, thy word wields my will. sleeper, crosses towards a door at the [Thunder. They enter the palace.] opposite side of the chamber, and
withdrawing a key from her bosom,
and inserting it into the wards with It is midnight, and the clear full fearful caution, opens it noiselessly. moon looks from the blue Asian sky A little, and with another glance at the upon the palace of King Candules, couch, she crosses the chamber, silent all whose inmates are at rest—all as a cloud, and hastily vanishes. It is whose splendid halls are wrapped in the Queen. breathless silence. The King, wearied There is a pause of some minutes ; with the hunt, in which he had passed and, lo! at the same door through the day, and lulled by the wine of the which the royal lady entered, beautibanquet, which had crowned the ful Paipha appearing, silently adnight, and who has been for some vances, with upraised” arms wound hours buried in repose, reclines on his languidly over her head, and halfcouch, in a chamber through whose closed eyes, as though just awakened open marble casement the warm from slumber. Approaching the moonlight streams, illuming his dark couch, she bends for a space over the bearded countenance and bare breast, king, in an attitude partly expressive from which, in a movementof slumber, of awe and of voluptuous indolence, the purple coverlid has been thrown the clear beams lighting in an amoback. His pillow is sprinkled with rous hallow the graces of her whiteopiate blossoms, several of which lie robed form, whose flood of ebon strewn on the rich tesselated floor, tresses, half veiling the nude bosom, which is scattered with flowers, and descend almost to the small, bare, bluesilken robes, and golden ornaments, veined feet. Presently, scarce breathwine yases, and weapons. On one ing, lest she should disturb the sleeper, side of the still bright window lies a she advances to the open casement, great heap of roses, whose perfume and throwing herself on the heap of mingles with that of the odoriferous roses, gazes dreamily, now at the trees embowering the garden terraces tranquil moonlight scene without beneath, as the gentle air breathes into the languid-leaved trees, which, bendthe still room, bearing the almost in- ing, seem to embrace like lovers—the audible sound of a fountain, whose long, bright river breaking into diadrizzly sprays seem languishing to rest, mond dances, as it curves round some as though they, too, were influenced by promontory of woodland or verdure, the pervading presence of the mid- and floating in its radiant sleep tonight spirit of repose. So perfect is wards the mountains and the dawn;the bright calm in the royal chamber, and now turning, gazes with careless that even the flutter of a rose-leaf curiosity on the splendid-hued viper, can be heard ; and the only object which, rolling aside the fruit, and therein which gives evidence of move- nearing her with stealthy stillness, ment and life is a beautiful tame erects its bright-eyed head, eager to snake, which, stretched in an indolent be petted, and rests its shining scales emerald coil along the snowy marble, in her hand. gorged with feasting on a heap of Thus occupied, but a short space fruit, now and then sidles its crested had elapsed when Paipha is suddenly head playfully among the perfumed aroused by a low noise, like that of clusters of nectarines, grapes, and me- footsteps entering the door beside lons,
her, and a sound of some one breathThe midnight star has just dipped ing deeply, passing her. Startled, she beneath the silvered roof of the west- listens acutely-glancing round the ern woods, and a single breath of chamber, and unable to perceive any awaking wind has for an instant un- figure, or to recognise any cause for dulated the silken tapestries, when a the mysterious sounds she had just female figure, with dark hair floating heard, has already satisfied herself that over her disarrayed robe, and wild it was but a fancy or the wind-when, and earnest watchful eyes, steals turning her eyes in the direction of stealthily with bare feet along a pas- the King's couch, her amazement is sage, and reaching the open portal, re-awakened at beholding a light, pauses a moment; then glancing, as which, glimmering keenly as a prism
of steel in the moonbeam, seems claring war against the King of Babyhovering round the royal sleeper. lon, he assembled his armies, and Scarcely a moment has elapsed, when, surrounded by his cavalry, headed by still gazing towards it with wonder his satraps, marched in martial array and fearful earnestness, she sees it eastward towards the great Mesoporaised for a second-then swiftly de- tainian plain. scendiny; then, just as excited by After a triumphal progress through superstitious fear, she is about to ut- the neighbouring states, his army were ter a cry, she hears a smothered groan already approaching the frontier of swooning dolorously from the couch, Armenia, then a dependency of the and rushing in terror towards the great Babylonian empire, when its King, beholds-oh, horror! that stab- king advanced to give the usurper bed to the heart, and weltering in battle. It was a bright, but tempeshis blood, he is dying.
tuous morning when the combat Suddenly, her shrieks ringing took place – on a level plain, bethrough the palace, arouse its sleep- neath a range of steep mountains, ing inmates, and presently a throng and skirted by the sunny stormy sea. of men and women lurry into the Long hours the combat raged, during chamber, followed by the Queen, who, which the earth trembled beneath first throwing herself on the body of the furious shocks of phalanxed horsethe expiring monarch, and uttering men, contending with sword and exclamations of well-simulated dis- spear-of solid squares of footmen, traction and sorrow, suddenly points struggling hand to hand-while from to Paipha, whon several have al- the heights the bowmen on either ready seized, denouncing her as the siile darkened the air with clouds of assassin. Pale, and shuldering with arrows. Overhead throughout the terror, the concubine, in broken sobs, day the thunder pealed along the narrates the mysterious and terrible mountain crests, and the convulsed appearance which she had witnessed; sea, heaving its mighty billows, but incredulity is stamped upon every roared in sympathetic unison with the face; and, overwhelmed with a sense Yet louder than the thunder or that sh is regarded as the murderer ocean rose the noise of battle, th of her royal paramour, losing con- shock of armour, the ringing of weasciousness, she sinks into the arms of pons, the hissing of missiles, the cries her furious guards. “Wretch,” cries of the captains, and clamour of the the Queen, seizing her by the hair, hosts encountering. Gyges at early "what torture can be adequate to dawn had been seen accoutring in thy crime?" then, flinging her from his tent, where his armourers had her, with furious gesture-—“Away !” been bidden to close the rivets of a she cries, “hurry her to prison-would mighty suit of Chalybean steel which she could die a thousand deaths-- he had carried with him from a foreign
land ; but after the fight commenced
he had disappeared, and was believed HAVING thus gained possession of the to be watching the combat from an throne, Gyges inaugurated his reign eminence. About the time his warby giving the inhabitants of Sardis riors had lost sight of him; however, and the other Lydian cities a series an unaccountable panic took place in of banquets, unparalleled in magnifi- the region of the plain where the war cence; and while the people, dazzled raged most furiously, where the Armeby the treasures he scattered among nian monarch, encompassed by his them with lavish hand, occupied with bravest, and mounted on a moving never-ending games and amusements, throne, surveyed the war. From time and intoxicated with ceaseless revel, to time one of his captains fell, pierced appeared to lose for the time the with a deadly wound, cries of treafeeling of superstitious awe and terrorchery ever and anon rose from the with which they had long regarded lines of his body-guard, amid which him-for therumour of the mysterious a thrill of mysterious awe passed at power he possessed had flown to the finding the hand of an invisible death furthest limits of the land-a terror among them, when suddenly they gloomily augmented by the strange heard the king, who sat alone and death of Candules, and the sudden supreme in his royal chair, utter a ascent of Gyges to the throne-de- piercing shriek, and saw him next