Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση
[blocks in formation]

Carry the empty name, but we the prize. On then, my soul, and start not in thy [out fire, Though heav'n drop sulphur, and hell belch Laugh at the idle terrors: tell proud Jove, Between his pow'r and thine there is no odds: [gods*.

'Twas only fear first in the world made Tiberius, Sejanus.

Tib. Is yet Sejanus come?
Sej. He's here, dread Cæsar.

Tib. Let all depart that chamber, and the


Sit down, my comfort. When the master
Of all the world, Sejanus, saith he fears;
Is it not fatal?

Sej. Yes, to those are fear'd.
Tib. And not to him?

Sej. Not, if he wisely turn

That part of fate he holdeth, first on them. Tib. That nature, blood, and laws of kind' forbid.

Sej. Do policy and state forbid it?
Tib. No.

Sej. The rest of poor respects, then, let go by ; [guilty. State is enough to make th' act just, thei Tib. Long hate pursues such acts. Sej. Whom hatred frights,

Let him not dream of sov'reignty.

Tib. Are rites

[blocks in formation]

Tib. Knows yet Sejanus whom we point at? Sej. I,


Or else my thought, my sense, or both do 'Tis Agrippina.

Tib. She, and her proud race.

Sej. Proud! dangerous, Cæsar. For in them apace

The father's spirit shoots up. Germanicus Lives in their looks, their gait, their form, t' upbraid us

With his close death, if not revenge the same. Tib. The act's not known.

Sej. Not prov'd: but whispering fame Knowledge and proof doth to the jealous give, [believe. 'Who, than to fail, would their own thought It is not safe, the children draw long breath, That are provoked by a parent's death. Tib. It is as dangerous to make them hence,

If nothing but their birth be their offence. Sej. Stay, till they strike at Cæsar; then their crime

Will be enough, but late and out of time
For him to punish.

Tib. Do they purpose it? [till it hit.
Sej. You know, sir, thunder speaks not
Be not secure; none swiftlier are opprest,
Than they whom confidence betrays to rest.
Let not your daring make your danger such:
All power's to be fear'd, where 'tis too much.
The youths are of themselves hot, violent,
Full of great thought; and that male-spi-
rited dame,
Their mother, slacks no means to put them
By large allowance, popular presentings,
Increase of train, and state, suing for titles;
Hath them commended with like prayers,
like vows,

To the same gods, with Cæsar: days and She spends in banquets and ambitious feasts For the nobility; where Caius Silius, Titius Sabinus, old Arruntius, Asinius Gallus, Furnius, Regulus, And others of that discontented list, Are the prime guests. There, and to these, she tells [whose wife. 'Whose niece she was, whose daughter, and And then must they compare her with Au


I, and prefer her too; commend her form, Extol her fruitfulness; at which a shower

[blocks in formation]

'Twas only fear first in the world made gods.] A translation from Petronius Arbiter :

Primus in orbe deos fecit timor. Dr. GREY.

Laws of KIND forbid.] Laws of nature.

Who, than to fail, would their own thought believe.] i. e. Who, rather than want, or fail of proof, would believe the mere evidence of their own thoughts. Jonson affects great. brevity in his expression, and, in consequence of that, is not always so clear as he might be.

She tells,

Whose niece she was, whose daughter, and whose wife.] Agrippina was the niece of Augustus, the daughter of Agrippa and Julia, and the wife of Germanicus.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

(That's still the friend of novelty) with hope
Of future freedom, which on every change
That greedily, though emptily expects.
Cæsar, 'tis age in all things breeds neglects,
And princes that will keep old dignity
Must not admit too youthful heirs stand by;
Not their own issue; but so darkly set
As shadows are in picture, to give height
And lustre to themselves.

Tib. We will command Their rank thoughts down, and with a stricter hand [must bate, Than we have yet put forth; their trains Their titles, feasts and factions.

Sej. Or your state.

But how, sir, will you work?
Tib. Confine 'em.
Sej. No.

They are too great, and that too faint a blow To give them now; it would have serv'd at first,

[burst. When with the weakest touch their knot had But, now, your care must be, not to detect The smallest cord, or line of your suspect; For such, who know the weight of princes' fear, [rear Will, when they find themselves discover'd, Their forces, like seen snakes, that else would lie [high,


Roul'd in their circles, close: nought is more Daring, or desperate, than offenders found; Where guilt is, rage and courage both [up, The course must be, to let them still swell Riot, and surfeit on blind fortune's cup; Give 'em more place, more dignities, more stile,

Call 'em to court, to senate; in the while, Take from their strength some one or twain,

[blocks in formation]

Of their ambition) not perceive the train, Till in the engine they are caught and slain. Tib. We would not kill, if we knew how to save;

Yet, than a throne, 'tis cheaper give a grave. Is there no way to bind them by deserts? Sej. Sir, wolves do change their hair, but not their hearts.

While thus your thought unto a mean is ty'd,

You neither dare enough, nor do provide. All modesty is fond; and chiefly where The subject is no less compell'd to bear, Than praise his sov'reign's acts.

Tib. We can no longer

Keep on our mask to thee, our dear Sejanus; Thy thoughts are ours, in all, and we but prov'd

[ing Their voice, in our designs, which by assentHath more confirm'd us, than if heart'ning Jove


Had, from his hundred statues, bid us strike,
And at the stroke clickt all his marble
But who shall first be struck? [thumbs:
Sej. First, Caius Silius;
He is the most of mark, and most of danger:
power and reputation equal strong,
Having commanded an imperial army
Seven years together, vanquish'd Sacrovir
In Germany, and thence obtain'd to wear
The ornaments triumphal. His steep fall,
By how much it doth give the weightier

Will send more wounding terror to the rest,
Command them stand aloof, and give more
To our surprizing of the principal. [way

Tib. But what, Sabinus?

Sej. Let him grow a while,

His fate is not yet ripe: we must not pluck
At all together, lest we catch ourselves.
And there's Arruntius too, he only talks.
But Sosia, Silius' wife, would be wound in
Now, for she hath a fury in her breast,
More than hell ever knew; and would be
Thither in time. Then is there one Cremu-
Cordus, a writing fellow, they have got
To gather notes of the precedent times,
And make them into annals; a most tart
And bitter spirit (I hear;) who under colour
Of praising those, doth tax the present state,
Censures the men, the actions, leaves no


No practice unexamin'd, parallels
The tunes, the governments; a profest

For the old liberty
Tib. A perishing wretch.

And at the stroke clickt all his marble thumbs.] The sense is obscure; but the poet hath let us into his meaning, by his own note upon the place. It alludes to the Roman eustom of shewing favour, or pronouncing death, to the vanquished gladiators, by bending the thumb. Jonson's words are these: Premere pollicem, apud Romanos, maximi jacoris erat signum. Horat. ep. ad Lollium. Fautor utroque tuum laudabit pollice ludum. Pn. Nat. Hist. lib. 28. cap. 2. Pollices, cum faveamus, premere etiam proverbio jubemur.


[blocks in formation]

To be quite broken, and ta'en hence by us, Than have the strain to be preserv'd by such. Have we the means to make these guilty [power,


Sej. Trust that to me; let Cæsar," by his But cause a formal meeting of the senate, I will have matter, and accusers ready. Tib. But how? let us consult.

Sej. We shall mispend

The time of action. Counsels are unfit
In business, where all rest is more pernicious
Than rashness can be. Acts of this close

Thrive more by execution than advice.
There is no lingering in that work begun,
Which cannot praised be, until through
[a court.
Tib. Our edict shall forthwith command
While I can live, I will prevent earth's fury:
9 Ἐμε θάνοντα γαῖα μιχθήτω τουρί

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

10 You brought me (th' other day) of Silius, Add somewhat to 'em. Make her understand

The danger of Sabinus, and the times,
Out of his closeness. Give Arruntius words
Of malice against Cæsar; so, to Gallus :
But, (above all) to Agrippina. Say,

(As you may truly) that her infinite pride, Propt with the hopes of her too fruitful womb,

With popular studies gapes for sovereignty, And threatens Cæsar. Pray Augusta then, That for her own, great Cæsar's, and the public [gers. Safety, she be pleas'd to urge these danCæsar is too secure (he must be told, And best he'll take it from a mother's tongue:)


Alas! what is't for us to sound, t' explore,
To watch, oppose, plot, practise, or prevent,
If he, for whom it is so strongly labour'd,
Shall, out of greatness and free spirit, be
Supinely negligent? our city's now
Divided as in time o' th' civil war,
And men forbear not to declare themselves
Of Agrippina's party. Every day
The faction multiplies; and will do more,
If not resisted: you can best enlarge it,
As you find audience. Noble Posthumus,
Commend me to your Prisca: and pray her,
She will solicit this great business,

To earnest and most present execution,
With all her utmost credit with Augusta.
Pos. I shall not fail in my instructions.
Sej. This second (from his mother) will
well urge
Our late design, and spur on Cæsar's rage:
Which else might grow remiss. The way
to put

A prince in blood, is to present the shapes
Of dangers, greater than they are (like late,
Or early shadows) and, sometimes, to feign
Where there are none, only to make him


His fear will make him cruel: and once He doth not easily learn to stop, or spare Where he may doubt. This have I made my rule,

9 Eμé" Jávorros yaia μixie wupi.] This Greek verse, as the historians say, Tiberius had often in his mouth, and the poet thought it too memorable to omit it.

[blocks in formation]

You brought me (th' other day) of Silius.] The words of Silius, to which the poet refers, are related by Tacitus in this manner: Immodicè juclantis (sc. Silii) suum militem in obsequio duravisse, cùm alii ad seditiones prolaberentur: neque mansurum Tiberio imperium, si iis quoque legionibus cupido novandi fuisset. Annal. 1. 4. c. 18.

"The public safety, &c.] To complete the measure of the verse, Jonson, by a licence common in the ancient poets, divides the word public into both these verses; ending one of them with the first syllable of it, and beginning the other with the last;

That for her own, great Cæsar's, and the pub

lic safety, she be pleas'd to urge these dangers.

And they are so printed in the folio of 1616.

To thrust Tiberius into tyranny, [blocks,
And make him toil, to turn aside those
Which I alone could not remove with safety.
Drusus once gone, Germanicus' three sons
Would clog my way; whose guards have
too much faith

To be corrupted: and their mother known
Of too-too unreprov'd a chastity,
To be attempted, as light Livia was.
Work then, my art, on Cæsar's fears, as
On those they fear, till all my lets be
And he in ruins of his house, and hate
Of all his subjects, bury his own state.
When with my peace, and safety, I will rise,
By making him the public sacrifice.

Satrius, Natta.

Sat. They're grown exceeding circumspect, and wary. [Arruntius

Nat. They have us in the wind: and yet Cannot contain himself.

Sat. Tut, he's not yet

Look'd after, there are others more desir'd, That are more silent.

Nat. Here he comes. Away.

Sabinus, Arruntius, Cordus.

Sab. How is it, that these beagles haunt Of Agrippina? [the house Arr. O, they hunt, they hunt. There is some game here lodg'd, which they

must rouse,

To make the great ones sport.

Cor. Did you observe

How they inveigh'd'gainst Cæsar?
Arr. I, baits, baits,

For us to bite at: would I have my flesh
Torn by the public hook, these qualified
Should be my company.

Cor. Here comes another.

Arr. I, there's a man, Afer the orator! One that hath phrases, figures, and fine flowers, [haste

To strew his rhetorick with, and doth make To get him note, or name, by any offer Where blood, or gain be objects; steeps his


[blocks in formation]

I dare not, with my manners, to attempt
Your trouble farther.

Agr. Farewell, noble Silius.
Sil. Most royal princess.
Agr. Sosia stays with us?

Sil. She is your servant, and doth owe
your grace

An honest, but unprofitable love.

Agr. How can that be, when there's no gain, but virtuous 13?

Sil. You take the moral, not the politic


I meant, as she is bold, and free of speech,
Earnest to utter what her zealous thought
Travails withal, in honour of your house;
Which act, as it is simply born in her,
Partakes of love and honesty; but may,
By th' over-often, and unseason'd use,
Turn to your loss and danger: for your


Is waited on by envies, as by eyes;
And every second guest your tables take
Is a fee'd spy, t' observe who goes, who


What conference you have, with whom, where, when,

What the discourse is, what the locks, the thoughts

Of ev'ry person there, they do extract,
And make into a substance.

Agr. Hear me, Silius.

Were all Tiberius' body stuck with eyes,
And ev'ry wall and hanging in my house
Transparent, as this lawn I wear, or air;
Yea, had Sejanus both his ears as long
As to my inmost closet, I would hate
To whisper any thought, or change an act,
To be made Juno's rival. Virtue's forces
Shew ever noblest in conspicuous courses.

Sil. 'Tis great, and bravely spoken, like
the spirit

Of Agrippina: yet, your highness knows,
There is nor loss, nor shame in providence :
Few can, what all should do, beware enough.
You may perceive with what officious face,
Satrius, and Natta, Afer, and the rest
Visit your house, of late, t'enquire the
[they rail
And with what bold and privileg'd art,
Against Augusta: yea, and at Tiberius;
Tell tricks of Lvia, and Sejanus; all
T'excite, and call your indignation on,
That they might hear it at more liberty.
Agr. You're too suspicious, Silius.
Sil. Pray the gods,

I be so, Agrippina: but I fear


Some subtle practice. They that durst to

"Till all my BETS be clear'd.] This reading is corrupt, and the expression unintelligible: the quarto gives us the true word lets; obstructions, impediments. It occurs likewise in the argument," Finding the lets he must encounter to be many and hard." Mr. Seward and Mr. Sympson both corrected it in this manner by conjecture.

13 How can that be, when there's no gain, but VIRTUOUS ?] i. e. no real gain, but virtuous gain; what is acquired and proceeds from virtue. The quarto, with less embarrassment of the sense, reads virtue's.

[blocks in formation]

Ner. I, to Sejanus?
Sil. True.

Dru. And what of that?

Sil. I'm glad I gave it not.
Ner. But there is somewhat else?
Sil. Yes, private meetings,
With a great lady at a physician's,
And a wife turn'd away-

Ner. Ha!

Sil. Toys, mere toys;

What wisdom's now i' th' streets, i' th'
common mouth?

Dru. Fears, whisp'rings, tumults, noise,
I know not what :

They say the senate sit.
Sil. I'll thither straight;
And see what's in the forge.
Agr. Good Silius, do;
Sosia and I will in.

Sil. Haste you, my lords,

To visit the sick prince; tender your loves,
And sorrows to the people. This Sejanus
(Trust my divining soul) hath plots on all !
No tree, that stops his prospect, but must fall.

Chorus-of Musicians.

14 At So EXAMP-LESS and unblam'd a life.] At a life that had no parallel; was beyond all example, or imitation. Examp-less is a term of the author's coining; and by the same poetical prerogative, Chapman, in his verses on this tragedy, uses the word exampling:

"Our Phoebus may with his exampling beams."

15 He threatens many, that hath injur'd one.]

Multis minatur, qui uni facit injuriam.-PUB. SYRUS.

In this fulness and frequency of sentence, as he calls it in his preface, Jonson placeth one part of the office of a tragic poet: and the learned reader will perceive, from the brevity and number of these maxims, that instead of copying after the models of antient Greece, he hath conformed to the practice of Seneca the tragedian.

[blocks in formation]

Sej. "TIS only, you must urge against

Nor I, nor Cæsar may appear therein,
Except in your defence, who are the consul:
And, under colour of late enmity
Between your father, and his, may better
do it,

As free from all suspicion of a practice.
Here be your notes, what points to touch
at; read:

Be cunning in them. Afer has them too.
Var. But is he summon'd?

Sej. No. It was debated

By Cæsar, and concluded as most fit
To take him unprepar❜d.

Afer. And prosecute
All under name of treason.

Var. I conceive.

[be here.

Sab. Drusus being dead, Cæsar will not
Gal. What should the business of this
senate be?
[you: we

Arr. That can my subtil whisperers tell
That are the good-dull-noble lookers-on,
Are only call'd to keep the marble warm.
What should we do with those deep mys

[blocks in formation]
« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »