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When private tongues, of kinsmen and allies,
From warm embraces of the common-wealth.
Our self imprest with aged characters,
Drusus is gone, his children young and babes;
The noble issue of Germanicus,
These floods of sorrow in your drowned eyes.
Sab. The princes come.
Tiberius, Nero, Drusus junior.
Tib. Approach you, noble Nero, noble
Their worths to him, and to posterity:
Make all their actions answer to their bloods:
Relieve me, Fathers, with your general voice.
Rome's consuls thus dissolv'd, as they had lost
All the remembrance both of stile and place?] Gallus had just before taken notice of the consuls descending from their proper places to an inferior seat, in complaisance to Cæsar's grief for the death of Drusus. Tiberius, on his entrance, reproves them for this dispiritedness. Tacitus gives us the account in the words, which the poet hath translated: Consules, sede culgari per speciem mastitia sedentes, honoris locique admonuit. Annal. 1. 4. c. 8.
That COMMUNICATE our loss.] Share in our loss.
And raise those SUMS of joy that should drink up, &c.] Mr. Sympson conjectured that suns is the genuine word, which I have placed in the text, on the authority likewise of the first folio. The quarto edition, still more erroneously, reads springs of joy.
And may they know no rivals but themselves.] Which is as much as to say in other words, none but themselves may be their parallel: a method of speaking, which, however ridiculed, hath been proved entirely similar to what we meet with in several of the classics; and Mr. Theobald hath wrote over-against this line, in the margin, parallel, as if he had designed it as a similar instance of the phrase I have quoted.
Tib. We thank you reverend Fathers, in their right.
Arr. If this were true now! but the space, the space
Between the breast and lips-Tiberius' heart
As, in them, all my streams of grief are lost,
(Arr. Well acted, Cæsar.)
Tib. And now I am the happy witness made Of your so much desir'd affections. To this great issue, I could wish, the fates Would here set peaceful period to my days; However to my labours, I entreat (And beg it of this senate) some fit ease. (Arr. Laugh, Fathers, laugh: ha' you
no spleens about you?)
Tib. The burden is too heavy I sustain On my unwilling shoulders; and I pray It may be taken off, and reconferr'd Upon the consuls, or some other Roman, More able, and more worthy.
(Arr. Laugh on still.)
Sab. Why this doth render all the rest sus-
Arr. O, do you taste it then?
Arr. I, to pray that,
[der, Which would be to his head as hot as thun('Gainst which he wears that charm) should but the court
Receive him at his word.
Tib. For my self
I know my weakness, and so little covet (Like some gone past) the weight that will oppress me,
As my ambition is the counter-point.
(Arr. Finely maintain'd; good still.) Sei. But Rome, whose blood, Whose nerves, whose life, whose very frame relies [Atlas, On Cæsar's strength, no less than heav'n on Cannot admit it but with general ruin. (Arr. Ah! are you there to bring him Sef. Let Cæsar' [off?) No more then urge a point so contrary To Cæsar's greatness, the griev'd senate's Or Rome's necessity. (Gal. He comes about. Arr. More nimbly than Vertumnus.) Tib. For the public,
I may be drawn, to shew I can neglect All private aims; though I affect my rest : But if the senate still command me serve, I must be glad to practise my obedience. Arr. You must and will, sir. We do Sen. "Cæsar, [know it. "Live long and happy, great and royal "Cæsar; [Another form. "The gods preserve thee and thy modesty, Thy wisdom and thy innocence." (Arr. Where is't?
The prayer's made before the subject.)
"His meekness, Jove, his piety, his care, "His bounty
Arr. And his subtilty, I'll put in: Yet he'll keep that himself, without the gods. All prayers are vain for him.
Tib. We will not hold
[but Your patience, Fathers, with long answer; Shall still contend to be what you desire, And work to satisfy so great a hope: Proceed to your affairs.
Arr. Now, Silius, guard thee;
The curtain's drawing. Afer advanceth.
Afe. Cite Caius Silius.
Præ. Caius Silius.
Afe. The triumph that thou hadst in For thy late victory on Sacrovir, Thou hast enjoy'd so freely, Caius Silius, As no man it envy'd thee; nor would Cæsar, Or Rome admit, that thou wert then defrauded
Of any honours thy deserts could claim, In the fair service of the common-wealth: But now, if after all their loves and graces, (Thy actions, and their courses being discover'd)
It shall appear to Cæsar, and this senate, Thou hast defil'd those glories with thy crimes
Afe. Patience, Silius..
Sil. Tell thy moil of patience
I am a Roman. What are my crimes? proclaim them.
Am I too rich? too honest for the times? Have I or treasure, jewels, land, or houses That some informer gapes for? is my strength Too much to be admitted? or my knowledge? These now are crimes.
Afe. Nay, Silius, if the name
Of crime so touch thee, with what impotence Wilt thou endure the matter to be search'd? Sil. I tell thee, Afer, with more scorn than fear:
Employ your mercenary tongue and art... Where's my accuser?
(Gainst which he wears that charm.)] A wreath of laurel. The great dread which Tiberius had of thunder, and this method which he took to preserve himself against the stroke of it, is taken notice of both by Suetonius, and Pliny. Tonitrua præter modum exe pavescebat; et turbatiore cælo nunquam non coronam lauream capite gestavit, quod fulmine afflari negetur id genus frondis. Sueton. Tib. c. 69.
By judgment of the court, and all good men. Sil. Cæsar, I crave to have my cause deferr'd,
Till this man's consulship be out.
Tib. We cannot,
Nor may we grant it.
Sil. Why? shall he design
My day of trial? is he my accuser?
Tib. It hath been usual,
And is a right that custom hath allow'd
And honour of the state.
Arr. Believe him, Silius.
Cot. Why, so he may, Arruntius.
And he may choose too.
Tib. By the Capitol,
And all our gods, but that the dear repub-
Afe. 'Please Cæsar to give way unto his
He shall have justice.
Sil. Nay, I shall have law;
Shall I not, Afer? speak.
Afe. Would you have more?
Sil. No, my well-spoken man, I would no
Nor less might I enjoy it natural,
Furious enforcing, most unjust presuming,
Sil. Thou durst not tell me so,
Hadst thou not Cæsar's warrant. I can see Whose power condemns me.
Var. This betrays his spirit.
This doth enough declare him what he is.
Var. An enemy to the state.
Sil. Because I am an enemy to thee, And such corrupted ministers o' the state, That here art made a present instrument To gratify it with thine own disgrace.
Sej. This to the consul, is most insolent! And impious!
Sil. I, take part. Reveal yourselves, Alas! I scent not your confed'racies, Your plots, and combinations! I not know Minion Sejanus hates me; and that all This boast of law, and law, is but a form, A net of Vulcan's filing, a mere ingine, To take that life by a pretext of justice, Which you pursue in malice? I want brain, Or nostril to persuade me, that your ends, And purposes are made to what they are, Before my answer? O, you equal gods, Whose justice not a world of wolf-turn'd
Of curl'd Sicambrians.] By this expression he alludes to the description which Martial gives of the Sicambri :
Crinibus in nodum tortis venere Sicambri.
Thou lately mad'st at Agrippina's table',
To fall into rebellion, only thine
Arr. Well worded, and most like an
Sil. Save thy question, Cæsar,
Sab. He doth answer stoutly.
Sej. If this be so, there needs no other
Var. What can more impeach
Cot. In this, all Cæsar's fortune
Lat. His means are clean destroy'd that
Gal. Nothing is great enough for Silius'
And labour so about for circumstance,
That intemperate vaunt
In mention of it; if it do, it takes [help'd,
Afe. This shews him in the rest.
Stay, most officious senate, I shall straight
So weakly, but he can escape your gripe
"All that can happen in humanity,
"The senate's servile flattery, and these
It is not life whereof I stand enamour'd;
Romans, if any here be in this senate,
Thou lately mad'st at Agrippina's table, &c.] It follows in the subsequent lines. See act II. not. 10. It should be observed, that instead of you and yours, the quarto reads thou and thine this variation I have inserted in the text, as being more removed from common speech, and perhaps more expressive of contempt, than the other.
Thy spy of FAMOUs credit hath affirm'd it.] Jonson, by famous credit, means infamous : it is taken from the Latin fumosus, which is generally used in that sense.
'Look upon Silius, and so learn to die.] Silius (says the historian) imminentem damnationem voluntario fine prævertit. Annal. 1. 4. c. 19. It doth not appear, however, that this happened in the senate-house, or at the immediate time of his accusation: yet the liberty which the poet hath taken, is easily allowable. Afer has a part in this transaction not assigned him by Tacitus; but it is given him with the utmost probability, and with the exactest preservation of character. For we may remark, to the honour of Jonson's judgment, that whenever he departs from the thread of the narration, it is always, with an improvement of the subject, and upon the strongest grounds of presumption. Thus, by introducing Afer as a manager of the impeachment against Silius, he hath a proper opportunity of displaying the mercenary oratory, and art of the informers, prevalent in the reign of Tiberius, which are finely contrasted by the truly honest, and spirited replies of Silius. Ес
Sab. 'Twas nobly struck, and home.
Be famous ever for thy great example.
Arr. Excellent wolf!
Sej. Cæsar doth wrong
His dignity and safety, thus to mourn
Tib. The confiscation merely of his state Had been enough.
Arr. O, that was gap'd for then?
Go out for Sosia.
Gal. Let her be proscrib'd.
And for the goods, I think it fit that half
[ers, Part, which the law doth cast on the informShould be enough; the rest go to the children. Wherein the prince shall shew humanity, And bounty; not to torce them by their [serv'd)
(Which in their parents' trespass they deTo take ill courses.
Tib. It shall please us.
Out of necessity. This Lepidus
Is grave and honest, and I have observ'd
Sab. And bending to the better-Stay, who's this?
Cremutius Cordus? what! is he brought in? Arr. More blood into the banquet? noble Cordus,
I wish thee good: be, as thy writings, free, And honest.
Tib. What is he?
Sej. For th' annals, Cæsar ". Præco, Cordus, Satrius, Natta. Pra. Cremutius Cordus.
Pra. Satrius Secundus,
Pinnarius Natta, you are his accusers.
With human flesh, to bay at citizens.
Nat. To this, I subscribe;
And, forth a world of more particulars,
Afe. My lords, this strikes at every Ro-
In whom reigns gentry, and estate of spirit,
Most full of spight, and insolently upbraiding.
Tib. Let's hear him answer. Silence. Cor. So innocent Lam of fact, my lords, As but my words are argu'd: yet those words [rent; Not reaching either prince, or prince's pa
10 That thus hath STALLED and abus'd our mercy.] i. c. forestalled, hindered.
"Tib. What is he? Sej. For th' annals, Casar.] These speeches are so divided in all the editions; but Mr. Upton, supposing the division faulty, would correct, and read them ir this manner:
Tib. "What is he for?" i. e. of what is he accused?
Sej. "The annals, Cæsar."
12 Which never yet DANGEROUS bastard did
Upon his parent.] The sense and measure are both defective; the first editions read degenerous, which being right, I have admitted into the text.
13 Thou praisest Brutus, and affirm'st
That Cassius was the last of all the Romans.] The historians give this account of Cordus: Objectum est historico (Cremutio Cordo, Tacit. Annal. 1. 4. c. 34.) quòd Brutum Cassiumque ultimos Romanorum dixisset. Suet. Tiber. 1. 3. c. 61. And the following speech of Cordus in his defence, is a translation from Tacitus, Annal. l. 4. p. 72. edit. Lips. 1589.