صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

this piece, of a very bitter cast, for he makes one of his female characters roundly assert

« No animal in nature can compare
“ In impudence with woman; I myself
“ Am one, and from my own experience speak.”

I Aatter myself an English audience would not hear fuch calumny; the modern ftage encourages more respectful sentiments-

Oh! woman, lovely woman! nature made thee
To temper man; we bad been brutes uithout thee.

Our poct must have been in an ill-humour with the sex, when he wrote this comedy, or else the Athenian wives must have been mere Xantippes to deserve what follows

“ Nor house, nor coffers, nor whatever else • Is dear and precious, should be watch'd so closely, As the whom you call wife. Sad lot is our's, “ Who barter life and all it's free delights, “ To be the Naves of woman, and are paid Her bridal portion in the luckless coin « Of forrow and vexation. A man's wrath “ Is milk and honey to a woman's rage ; “ He can be much offended and forgive, “ She never pardons those the most offends : " What she should do the sights, what she should not “ Hotly pursues; false to each virtuous point, " And only in her wickedness sincere."

" Who

[ocr errors]

" Who but a lunatic would wed and be
• Wilfully wretched ? better to endure
“ The shame of poverty and all it's taunts

Rather than this. The reprobate, on whom
6. The Censor set his brand, is juftly doom'd
« Unfit to govern others, but the wretch,
“"* Who weds, no longer can command himself,
66 Nor hath his woc a period but in death.'

So much for matrimony according to our author's picture of it! he has left us a description of love, which he has sketched in more pleasing colours

“ The man, who holds true pleasure to confift
« In pampering his vile body, and defies
“ Love's great divinity, rahly maintains
66 Weak impious war with an immortal God.
" The gravest master that the schools can boast
" Ne'er train'd his pupils to such discipline,
As love his votaries, unrivall’d power,
“ The first great deity—and where is he,
“ So stubborn and determinedly stiff,
" But shall at some time bend the knee to love,
• And make obeisance to his mighty shrine ?”

« One day as flowly sauntering from the port,
“ A thousand cares conflicting in my breast,
“ Thus I began to commune with myself
“ Methinks these painters misapply their art,
“ And never knew the being which they draw;
« For mark! their many false conceits of love.
" Love is nor male nor female, man nor god,
« Nor with intelligence nor yet without it,
“But a strange compound of all thefe, uniting

« In one mixt essence many opposites;
6 A manly courage with a woman's fear,
6. The madman's phrensy in a reasoning mind,
“ The strength of steel, the fury of a beast,
“ The ambition' of a heromsomething 'tis,
« But by Minerva and the gods I swear!
“ I know not what this nameless something is.”

This riddling description of love I consider 'as a very curious fragment of the Greek comedy, as it has more play of words and less fimplicity of thought and stile, than I can recollect in any writer of this age and country. In general I think I can discover more antithesis in the authors of the Middle Comedy than in any others, and I take it to have been one of the consequences of parody. Phædria's picture of love in the opening scene of Terence's Eunuch is fomething in the stile of this fragment of Alexis, and the particular expression of—ut cum ratione insanias-seems of a piece with—'H ävoia javías, o de royos Apovērtos. Which I have rendered

A madman's phrensy in a reasoning mind.” Our Shakespear is still closer to it, when Romeo describing love calls it

A madness mojt discreet,
And again

Why then, O brawling Love! loving Hate!
Ob! any thing of nothing first create ;


Oh, heavy Ligbtness! serious Vanity !
Misshapen chaos of well-feeming forms !
Still-waking feep, that is not what it is..

Before I take leave of Alexis I shall subjoin one more passage from his remains, which conveys the strongest marks of deteftation, that language can supply, of that very vice, which Athenæus would persuade us he was addicted to; but I will never be persuaded that a glutton wrote the following lines in the face of his own example, nor would it be an easy matter to convince me, that if any glutton had the will, he would possess the wit, to write them.


“ You, Sir, a Cyrenean as I take you, “ Look at your feet of desperate voluptuaries; There's Diodorus-beggary is too good for him 16 A valt inheritance in two short years, " Where is it? Squander’d, vanish’d, gone for ever : “ So rapid was his dissipation.-Stop! “ Stop, my good friend, you cry; not quite so fast! “ This man went fair and softly to his ruin; " What talk you of two years ? As many days, • Two little days were long enough to finish " Young Epicharides ; he had some soul, “ And drove a merry pace to his undoing “ Marry! if a kind surfeit wou'd furprise us, " Ere we sit down to earn it, such prevention " Wou'd come most opportune to save the trouble “ Of a fick stomach and an aching head: “ But whilst the punishment is out of light, " And the full chalice at our lips, we drink,

ri Drink


6 Drink all to-day, to-morrow fast and mourn,
" Sick, and all o'er opprest with nauseous fumes;
6. Such is the drunkard's curse, and Hell itself
" Cannot devise a greater-Oh that nature
“ Might quit us of this overbearing burthen,
* This tyrant-god, the belly ! take that from us,
« With all it's bestial appetites, and man,
Exonerated man, shall be all soul."


Antiphanes of Smyrna, or, as some will have it, of Rhodes, was born in or about Olymp. XCIII.: His father's name was Demophanes, and his mother's Enoe, people of fervile degree yet our poet, thus ignoble in his birth, lived to signalize himself by his genius, and was held in fuch respect by his Athenian patrons, that a public decree was made for the removal of his remains from the isle of Chios, where he died at the age of seventy-four, and for depositing them in the city of Athens, where his funeral honours were sumptuously performed at the charge of the ftate.

Various accounts are given of the number of his comedies, but of all the Greek dramatists he appears to have been the most prolifick, for the lowest lift of his plays amounts to two hundred and ninety, and some contend that he actually composed three hundred and fixty-five,

a number


« السابقةمتابعة »