صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني


abound in, I ask myself where originality is to be sought for ; not with these poets it is clear, for their fickles are for ever in each other's corn; nor even with the founders of the Greek drama, for they all leant upon Homer, as he perhaps on others antecedent to his æra.'. As for the earliest writers of our own stage, the little I have read of their rude beginnings seems to be a dull mass of second-hand pedantry coarsely daubed with ribaldry: In Shakespear you meet originality of the purest cast, a new creation, bright and beaming with unrivalled lustre ; his contemporary Jonson did not seem to aim at it.

Though I have already given a Parasite from Eupolis, and compared him with Jonson's admirable Mosca, yet I cannot refuse admission to a very pleasant, impudent fellow, who gives name to a comedy of Antiphanes, and in the following spirited apology for his life and actions takes upon him the office of being his own hiftorian.

« What art, vocation, tradè or mystery “Can match with your fine Parasite ?- The Painter ? “He! a mere dauber : A vile drudge the Farm;r: “ Their business is to labour, our's to laugh, "To jeer, to quibble, faith Sirs ! and to drink,

Aye, and drink luftily. Is not this rare ?
" "Tis life, my life at least : The titt of pleasures
“ Were to be rich myself, but next to this

" I hold

“ I hold it best to be a Parasite, " And feed


the rich. Now mark me right! “ Set down my virtues one by one : Imprimis, “ Good-will to all men-Would they were all rich " So might I gull them all : Malice to none ; I envy no man's fortune, all I wish “ Is but to share it : Would you have a friend, A gallant, fteady friend? I am your man : * No striker I, no swaggerer, no defamer, “ But one to bear all these and still forbear : If you insult, I laugh, unruffled, merry,

Invincibly good-humour'd still I laugh: 66 A ftout good soldier I, valorous to a fault, " When once my stomach's up and supper fervid : “ You know my humour, not one spark of pride, 66 Such and the same for ever to


friends : “ If cudgellid, molten iron to the hammer “ Is not fo malleable; but if I cudgel, « Bold as the thunder : Is one to be blinded ? “ I am the lightning's flash: to be puff d up, “ I am the wind to blow him to the bursting : “Choak’d, Itrangled ?-I can do't and lave a halter : " Would you break down his doors ? Behold an earth.

“ quake : “ Open and enter them ?--A battering-ram: “ Will you sit down to supper? I'm your guest, “ Your very Fly to enter without bidding : " Would you move off? You'll move a well as soon : " I'm for all work, and tho' the job were stabbing, “ Betraying, false-accusing, only say • Do this, and it is done! I stick at nothing ; • They call me Thunder-bolt for iny dispatch ; “ Friend of my friends am I: Let actions speak me; “ I'm much too modelt to commend myself."

[blocks in formation]

I must consider this fragment as a very striking specimen of the author, and the only licence I have used is to tack together two separate extraits from the fame original, which meet in the break of the tenth line, and so appositely that it is highly probable they both belong to the same speech; more than probable to the fame comedy and character. Lucian's Parafite seems much beholden to this of Antiphanes.

Antiphanes was on a certain occasion com. manded to read one of his comedies in the prefence of Alexander the Great; he had the mortification to find that the play did not please the royal critic; the moment was painful, but the poet, addressing the monarch as follows, ingeniously contrived to vindicate his own production at the same time he was passing a courtly compliment to the prince, at whose command he read it," I cannot wonder, O king! that you “ disapprove of my comedy; for he, who could « be entertained by it, must have been present

at the scenes it represents; he must be ac“ Great Sir! are not informed, and the fault “ lies more in my presumption for intruding “ them upon your hearing, than in any want of “ fidelity, with which I have described them,"

quainted with the vulgar humours of our “ public ordinaries, have been familiar with the “ impure manners of our courtesans, a party in “ the beating-up of many a brothel, and a fuf« ferer as well as an actor in those unseemly “ frays and riots: Of all these things, you,

16 Great times




NAXANDRIDES of Rhodes, son of

Anaxander, was author of fixty-five co. medies, with ten of which he bore away the prizes from his competitors. Nature bestowed upon this poet not only a fine genius, but a most beautiful person; his stature was of the tallest, his air elegant and engaging, and, whilft he affected an effeminate delicacy in his habit and appearance, he was a victim to the most violent and uncontroulable passions, which, whenever he was disappointed of the prize he contended for, were vented upon every person and thing that fell in his way, not excepting even his own unfortunate dramas, which he would tear in pieces and scatter amongst the mob, or at other


times devote them to the most ignominious uses he could devise : Of these he would preserve no copy, and thus it came to pass that


admirable comedies' were actually destroyed and loft to posterity. His dress was splendid and extravagant in the extreme, being of the finest purple richly fringed with gold, and his hair was not coiled up in the Athenian fashion, but suffered to fall over his shoulders at it's full length: His muse was no less wanton and voluptuous than his manners, for it is recorded of him, that he was the first comic poet, who ventured to introduce upon the scene incidents of the groffest intrigue: He was not only severe upon Plato and the Academy, but attackçd the magistracy of Athens, charging them with the depravity of their lives in so daring and contemptuous a stile, that they brought him to trial, and by one of the most cruel sentences upon record condemned. the unhappy poet to be ftarved to death.

Zarottus and some other commentators upon Ovid interpret that distich in his Ibis to allude to Anaxandrides, where he says, ver. 525-6.

Ulve parum fabili qui carmine last Athenas,

Invifus pereas deficiente cibo.

“ Or meet the libeller's unpitied fate,
“ Starv'd for traducing the Athenian state."

« السابقةمتابعة »