Immagini della pagina

And garble his wares with dogs' and asses' flesh,
With a privilege, moreover, to get drunk,
And bully among the strumpets of the suburbs

And the ragamuffin waiters at the baths.

That's well imagined; it precisely suits him;
His natural bent, it seems, his proper element
To squabble with poor trulls and low rapscallions.
As for yourself, I give you an invitation
To dine with me in the hall. You'll fill the seat
Which that unhappy villain held before.
Take this new robe! Wear it and follow me!

And you, the rest of you, conduct that fellow
To his future home and place of occupation,
The gate of the city, where the allies and foreigners
That he maltreated may be sure to find him.



(From the “Knights ” of Aristophanes.)

IF a veteran author had wished to engage
Our assistance to-day, for a speech from the stage,
We scarce should have granted so bold a request;
But this author of ours, as the bravest and best,
Deserves an indulgence denied to the rest,
For the courage and vigor, the scorn and the hate,
With which he encounters the pests of the state;
A thoroughbred seaman, intrepid and warm,
Steering outright, in the face of the storm.

But now for the gentle reproaches he bore
On the part of his friends, for refraining before
To embrace the profession, embarking for life
In theatrical storms and poetical strife;
He begs us to state, that for reasons of weight,
He has lingered so long, and determined so late.
For he deemed the achievements of comedy hard,
The boldest attempt of a desperate bard!
The Muse he perceived was capricious and coy, -
Though many were courting her, few could enjoy.
And he saw without reason, from season to season,
Your humor would shift, and turn poets adrift,
Requiting old friends with unkindness and treaso

Discarded in scorn as exhausted and worn.

Seeing Magnes's fate, who was reckoned of late,
For the conduct of comedy, captain and head;
That so oft on the stage, in the flower of his age,
Had defeated the Chorus his rivals had led;
With his sounds of all sort, that were uttered in sport,
With whims and vagaries unheard of before,
With feathers and wings, and a thousand gay things,
That in frolicsome fancies his Choruses wore
When his humor was spent, did your temper relent,
To requite the delight that he gave you before ?
We beheld him displaced, and expelled, and disgraced,
When his hair and his wit were grown aged and hoar.

Then he saw, for a sample, the dismal example
Of noble Cratinus so splendid and ample,
Full of spirit and blood, and enlarged like a flood,
Whose copious current tore down, with its torrent,
Oaks, ashes, and yew, with the ground where they grew,
And his rivals to boot, wrenched up by the root,
And his personal foes, who presume to oppose,
All drowned and abolished, dispersed and demolished,
And drifted headlong, with a deluge of song.
And his airs and his tunes, and his songs and lampoons,
Were recited and sung, by the old and the young
At feasts and carousals what poet but he ?
And “The Fair Amphibribe,” and “The Sycophant Tree,”
“ Masters and masons and builders of verse!”
Those were the tunes that all tongues could rehearse;
But since in decay, you have cast him away,
Stript of his stops and his musical strings,
Battered and shattered, a broken old instrument,
Shoved out of sight, among rubbishy things.
His garlands are faded, and what he deems worst,
His tongue and his palate are parching with thirst;
And now you may meet him alone in the street,
Wearied and worn, tattered and torn,
All decayed and forlorn, in his person and dress;
Whom his former success should exempt from distress,
With subsistence at large, at the general charge,
And a seat with the great, at the table of state,
There to feast every day and preside at the play,
In splendid apparel, triumphant and gay.

Seeing Crates the next, always teased and perplext, With your tyrannous temper, tormented and vext; That with taste and good sense, without waste or expense,

From his snug little hoard provided your board
With a delicate treat, economic and neat.
Thus hitting or missing, with crowns or with hissing,
Year after year he pursued his career,
For better or worse, till he finished his course.
These precedents held him in long hesitation;
He replied to his friends, with a just observation,
“That seaman in regular order is bred
To the oar, to the helm, — and to look out ahead;
Till diligent practice has fixed in his mind
The signs of the weather, and changes of wind.
And when every point of the service is known,
Undertakes the command of a ship of his own.”

For reasons like these,
If your judgment agrees
That he did not embark,
Like an ignorant spark,
Or a troublesome lout,
To puzzle and bother, and blunder about,
Give him a shout,
At his first setting out!
And all pull away
With a hearty huzza
For success to the play!
Send him away,
Siniling and gay,
Shining and florid,
With his bald forehead !

[ocr errors]



[Thomas BABINGTON MACAULAY: An English historian and essayist; born October 25, 1800; son of a noted philanthropist and a Quaker lady; died at London, December 28, 1859. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and called to the bar, but took to writing for the periodicals and to politics; became famous for historical essays, was a warm advocate of Parliamentary Reform, and was elected to Parliament in 1830. In 1834 he was made a member of the Supreme Legislative Council for India, residing there till 1838, and making the working draft of the present Indian Penal Code. He was Secretary at War in 1839. The first two volumes of his “ History of England” were published in December, 1848. His fame rests even more on his historical essays, bis unsur. passed speeches, and his “ Lays of Ancient Rome.”]

[graphic][merged small]
« IndietroContinua »