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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?
Tib. Let all depart that chamber, and the
Sej. Yes, to those are fear'd.
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?
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
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
Tib. Do they purpose it? [till it hit.
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
'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.
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.
(That's still the friend of novelty) with hope
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?
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,
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,
Will send more wounding terror to the rest,
Tib. But what, Sabinus?
Sej. Let him grow a while,
His fate is not yet ripe: we must not pluck
No practice unexamin'd, parallels
For the old liberty
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.
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
Thrive more by execution than advice.
10 You brought me (th' other day) of Silius, Add somewhat to 'em. Make her understand
The danger of Sabinus, and the times,
(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 earnest and most present execution,
A prince in blood, is to present the shapes
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.
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,
To be corrupted: and their mother known
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
To make the great ones sport.
Cor. Did you observe
How they inveigh'd'gainst Cæsar?
For us to bite at: would I have my flesh
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
I dare not, with my manners, to attempt
Agr. Farewell, noble Silius.
Sil. She is your servant, and doth owe
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,
Is waited on by envies, as by eyes;
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,
Agr. Hear me, Silius.
Were all Tiberius' body stuck with eyes,
Sil. 'Tis great, and bravely spoken, like
Of Agrippina: yet, your highness knows,
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.
Ner. I, to Sejanus?
Dru. And what of that?
Sil. I'm glad I gave it not.
Sil. Toys, mere toys;
What wisdom's now i' th' streets, i' th'
Dru. Fears, whisp'rings, tumults, noise,
They say the senate sit.
Sil. Haste you, my lords,
To visit the sick prince; tender your loves,
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.
Sej. "TIS only, you must urge against
Nor I, nor Cæsar may appear therein,
As free from all suspicion of a practice.
Be cunning in them. Afer has them too.
Sej. No. It was debated
By Cæsar, and concluded as most fit
Afer. And prosecute
Var. I conceive.
Sab. Drusus being dead, Cæsar will not
Arr. That can my subtil whisperers tell