« EelmineJätka »
A true right king, that dares do ought, save wrong,
Fears nothing mortal, but to be unjust;
Who is not blown up with the flattering puffs
Of spungy sycophants : who stands unmov'd,
Despite the justling of opinion:
Who can enjoy himself, maugre the throng
That strive to press his quiet out of him :
Who sits upon Jove's footstool, as I do,
Adoring, not affecting, majesty:
Whose brow is wreathed with the silver crown
Of clear content: this, Lucio, is a king.
And of this empire, every man's possessid,
That's worth his soul,”
Andrugio discovers himself to Piero.
“ Then here, Piero, is Andrugio's head,
Royally casked in a helm of steel :
Give me thy love, and take it. My dauntless soul
Hath that unbounded vigour in his spirits,
That it can bear more rank indignity,
With less impatience, than thy canker'd hate
Can sting and venom his untainted worth,
With the most vip’rous sound of malice. Strike,
Oh, let no glimpse of honour light thy thoughts,
If there be any heat of royal breath
Creeping in thy veins, oh, stifle it.
Be still thyself, bloody and treacherous :
Fame not thy house with an admired act
of princely pity. Piero, I am come
To soil thy house with an eternal blot
Of savage cruelty; strike, or bid me strike.
I pray my death, that thy ne'er dying shame
Might live immortal to posterity.
Come, be a princely hangman, stop my breath.
Oh, dread thou shame, no more than I dread death."
Feliche, being asked if he envies not the court, says:
“ I wonder it doth not envy me.
Why, man, I have been borne upon the spirit's wings,
The soul's swift Pegasus, the phantasy;
And from the height of contemplation,
Have view'd the feeble joints men totter on.
I envy none; but hate, or pity all.
For when I view, with an intentive thought,
That creature fair, but proud; him rich, but sot ;
The other witty, but unmeasured arrogant ;
Him great, yet boundless in ambition;
Him high-born, but of base life; t'other fear'd,
Yet feared fears, and fears most to be most loved;
Him wise, but made a fool for public use;
The other learn'd but self-opinionate.
When I discourse all these, and see myself
Nor fair, nor rich, nor witty, great, nor fear’d;
Yet amply suited with all full content:
Lord, how I clap my hands, and smooth my brow,
Rubbing my quiet bosom, tossing up
A grateful spirit to Omnipotence !"
In Antonio's Revenge, we find that the reconciliation, at the conclusion of the last play, was altogether feigned on the part of Piero, who, at the feast which followed, infused poison in the cup in which he drank to the health of Andrugio, and caused his death. He next lays a scheme to entrap Antonio, and the first step he takes towards it is a false accusation against his own daughter's chastity, and the murder of Feliche as the pretended offender. He is finally caught in his own net, and is slain with most exquisite cruelty by Antonio and his friends.
We never read a prologue which, in tragic pomp and solemnity, equalled the one prefixed to this second part of Antonio and Mellida.
“ The rawish dank of clumsy winter cramps
The Auent summer's vein : and drizzling sleet
Chilleth the wan bleak cheek of the numb'd earth,
Whilst snarling gusts nibble the juiceless leaves,
From the naked shudd'ring branch; and peels the skin
From off the soft and delicate aspects :
O now, methinks, a sullen tragic scene
Would suit the time with pleasing congruence.
May we be happy in our weak devoir,
And all part pleased in most wish'd content:
But sweat of Hercules can ne'er beget
So blest an issue. Therefore, we proclaim
If any spirit breathes within this round,
Incapable of weighty passion,
(As from his birth, being hugged in the arms,
And nuzzled twixt the breasts of happiness)
Who winks, and shuts his apprehension up
From common sense of what men were, and are,
Who would not know what men must be; let such
Hurry amain from our black-visag'd shows :
We shall affright their eyes : But if a breast
Nail'd to the earth with grief; if any heart
Pierc'd thro' with anguish, pant within this ring :
If there be any blood, whose heat is choak’d
And stifled with true sense of misery :
If ought of these strains fill this concert up,
They arrive most welcome. O that our power
Could lackey, or keep wing with our desires ;
That, with unused pace of style and sense,
We might weigh massy in judicious scale.
Yet here's the prop that doth support our hopes;
When our scenes faulter, or invention halts,
Your favour will give crutches to our faults.”
Antonio is informed of the death of his father, and the slanderous accusation of Mellida.
“ Ant. My father dead, my love attaint of lust:
That's a large lie, as vast as spacious hell:
Poor guiltless lady. O accursed lie.
What, whom, whether, which shall I first lament?
A dead father, a dishonour'd wife. Stand.
Methinks I feel the frame of nature shake,
Crack not the joints of earth to bear my woes ?
Alb. Sweet prince, be patient.
Ant. 'Slid, sir, I will not, in despite of thee.
Patience is slave to fools: a chain that's fix't
Only to posts, and senseless log-like dolts.
Alb. 'Tis reason's glory to command affects.
Ant. Lies thy cold father dead, his glossed eyes
New closed up by thy sad mother's hands?
Hast thou a love as spotless as the brow
Of clearest heaven, blurr'd with false defames ?
Are thy moist entrails crumpled up with grief
Of parching mischiefs ? Tell me, does thy heart
With punching anguish spur thy galled ribs ?
and let's sit and weep, and wreath our arms: I'll hear thy counsel.
Alb. Take comfort
Ant. Confusion to all comfort: I defie it.
Comfort's a parasite, a flattering jack,
And melts resolv'd despair. O boundless woe,
If there be any black grief yet unknown,
If there be any horror yet unfelt,
Unthought of mischief in thy fiend-like power,
Dash it upon my miserable head.
Make me more wretch, more cursed if thou canst,
O, now my fate is more than I could fear:
My woes more weighty than my soul can bear.”
Antonio visits the vault in which the body of his father is placed.
“I purify the air with odorous fumé.
Graves, vaults, and tombs, groan not to bear my weight.
Cold flesh, bleak trunks, wrapt in your half-rot shrouds,
I press you softly with a tender foot.
Most honour'd sepulchre, vouchsafe a wretch
Leave to weep o'er thee. Tomb, I'll not be long
Ere I creep in thee, and with bloodless lips
Kiss my cold father's cheek, I prythee, grave,
Provide soft mould to wrap my carcase in.
Thou royal spirit of Andrugio, where'er thou hoverest,
(Airy intellect) I heave up tapers to thee (view thy son),
In celebration of due obsequies.
Once every night I'll dew thy funeral hearse
With my religious tears.
O blessed father of a cursed son,
Thou diedst most happy, since thou livedst not
To see thy son most wretched, and thy wife
Pursued by him that seeks my guiltless blood.
0, in what orb thy mighty spirit soars;
Stoop and beat down this rising fog of shame,
That strives to blur thy blood, and girt defame
About my innocent and spotless brows."
The account of Mellida’s death is exceedingly beautiful. The fool is Antonio in disguise.
“ Being laid upon her bed, she grasp'd my hand,
And kissing it, spake thus: Thou very poor,
Why dost not weep? The jewel of thy brow,
The rich adornment that enchas'd thy breast,
Is lost; thy son, my love, is lost, is dead.
And do I live to say Antonio's dead ?
And have I liv'd to see his virtues blurr'd
With guiltless blots? O world thou art too subtle
For honest natures to converse withal :
Therefore I'll leave thee ; farewell, mart of woe,
I fly to clip my love, Antonio.
With that her head sunk down
Her cheek chang'd earth, her senses slept in rest;
crept unto the bed,
Screech'd out so loud, that he brought back her soul,
Calld her again, that her bright eyes 'gan ope,
And star'd upon him: he, audacious fool,
Dar'd kiss her hand, wish'd her soft rest, lov'd bride;
She fumbled out thanks good, and so she died.”
His two other tragedies, Sophonisba and The Insatiate Countess, are vastly inferior to Antonio and Mellida. In the former, there is little worthy of notice. We shall, however, make two short extracts from it. There is a striking description of the witch Erictho's cave.
“ There once a charnel house, now a vast cave,
Over whose brow a pale and untrod grove
Throws out her heavy shade, the mouth thick arms
Of darksome yew, (sun proof,) for ever chokes ;
Within rest barren darkness, fruitless drought
Pines in eternal night; the steam of hell
Yields not so lazy air.”
The inhabitant of this appalling abode is drawn in a manner as horrid and as disgusting as can well be conceived.
" A loathsome yellow leanness spreads her face,
A heavy hell-like paleness loads her cheeks
Unknown to a clear heaven; but if dark winds,
Or thick black clouds drive back the blinded stars,
When her deep magic makes forc'd heaven quake,
And thunder, spite of Jove: Erictho then
From naked graves stalks out, heaves proud her head,
With long uncomb'd hair loaden, and strives to snatch
The night's quick sulphur; then she bursts up tombs
From half rot sear-cloths, then she scrapes dry gums
For her black rites : but when she finds a corse
But newly grav’d, whose entrails are not turn'd
To slimy filth, with greedy bavock then
She makes fierce spoil; and swells with wicked triumph
To bury her lean knuckles in his eyes :
Then doth she gnaw the pale and o'ergrown nails
From his dry hand; but if she find some life
Yet lurking close, she bites his gelid lips,
And sticking her black tongue in his dry throat,
She breathes dire murmurs, which enforce him bear
Her baneful secrets to the spirits of horror.”