Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

remarkable literary partnership that exists in history, This partnership continued for a long series of years, and the plays which bear their name were the joint production of both. After these, and belonging to the same period, may be mentioned Chapman, Dekker, Webster, Middleton, Massinger, Ford, Heywood, , Shirley, &c. There were also, during the same period, other poets, not dramatists, of some consideration.

Among the prose writers of this period are found some of the greatest lights' of English history, Lord Bacon, the father of modern philosophy, Chillingworth, Usher, Hooker, Jeremy Taylor, Hobbes, &c.

In the extracts which follow, from the poets of this period, all that has been deemed necessary after this general notice, is to prefix to each piece the name of the author, with the date of his birth and death.

BEN JONSON, 1574-1637.

Accusation and Death of Silius in the Senate House.

(From the Fall of Sejanus.) Silius, an honourable Roman, hated by Tilerius Cæsar, the emperor, and Sejanus, is unjustly ac used in the senate house by Varro, the consul. The nther persons present are Domitius Afer, Latiaris, and Catta, enemies of Silius, and Arruntius and Sabinus, his friends, with lictors and præcones, inferior officers of the senate.

Afer. Cite Caius Silius.
Præ.

Caius Silius!
Sil.

Here.

Afer. The triumph that thou hadst in Germany
For thy late victory on Sacrovir,
Thou hast enjoyed so freely, Caius Silius,
As no man it envied 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 commonwealth :
But now, if after all their loves and graces
(Thy actions and their courses being discovered),
It shall appear to Cæsar, and this senate,
Thou hast defiled those glories with thy crimes

Sil. Crimes ?
Afer. 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.
Afer.

Nay, Silius, if the name
Of crime so touch thee, with what impotence
Wilt thou endure the matter to be searched ?

Sil. I tell thee, Afer, with more scorn than fear:
Employ your mercenary tongue and art.
Where's my accuser ?
Var.

Here.
Arr.

Varro the consul.
Is he thrust in ?
Var.

'Tis I accuse thee, Silius
Against the majesty of Rome, and Cesar,
I do pronounce thee here a guilty cause,
First of beginning and occasioning,

Next, drawing out the war in Gallia,
For which thou late triumph'st; dissembling long
That Sacrovir to be an enemy,
Only to make thy entertainment more:
Whilst thou and thy wife Sosia polled the province.
Wherein, with sordid, base desire of gain,
Thou hast discredited thy actions' worth,
And been a traitor to the state.
Sil.

Thou liest.
Arr. I thank thee, Silius, speak so still and often

Var. If I not prove it, Cæsar, but unjustly
Have called him into trial; here I bind
Myself to suffer what I claim against him;
And yield to have what I have spoke, confirmed
By judgment of the court, and all good men.

Sil. Cæsar, I crave to have my cause deferred,
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 ?
And must he be my judge ?
Tib.

It hath been usual
And is a right that custom hath allowed
The magistrate, to call forth private men;
And to appoint their day: which privilege
We may not in the consul see infringed,
By whose deep watches, and industrious care,
It is so laboured as the commonwealth
Receive no loss, by any oblique course.

Sil. Cæsar, thy fraud is worse than violence.
Tib. Silius, mistake us not, we dare not use

The credit of the consul to thy wrong;
But only do preserve his place and power,
So far as it concerns the dignity
And honour of the state.
Arr.

Believe him, Silius.
Cot. Why, so he may, Arruntius.
Arr.

I say so.
And he may choose too.

Tib. By the Capitol,
And all our gods, but that the dear republic,
Our sacred laws, and just authority
Are interessed therein, I should be silent.

Afer. 'Please Cæsar to give way unto his trial;
He shall have justice.
Sil.

Nay, I shall have law;
Shall I not, Afer? speak.
Afer.

Would you have more ?
Sil. No, my well-spoken man, I would no more ;
Nor less: might I enjoy it natural,
Not taught to speak unto your present ends,
Free from thine, his, and all your unkind handling,
Furious enforcing, most unjust presuming,
Malicious, and manifold applying,
Foul wresting, and impossible construction.

Afer. He raves, he raves.
Sil.

Thou durst not tell me no
Hadst thou not Cæsar's warrant. I can see
Whose power condemns me.
Var.

This betrays his spiri.
This doth enough declare him what he is.

Sil. What am I ? speak.
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.

Ay, take part. Reveal yourselven.
Alas! I scent not your confederacies,
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 engine,
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-turned men
Shall make me to accuse, howe'er provoked :
Have I for this so oft engaged myself?
Stood in the heat and fervour of a fight,
When Phæbus sooner hath forsook the day
Than I the field, against the blue-eyed Gauls
And crispéd Germans ? when our Roman eagles
Have fanned the fire with their labouring wings,
And no blow dealt, that left not death behind it?
When I have charged, alone, into the troops
Of curled Sicambrians, routed them, and came
Not off, with backward ensigns of a slave,
But forward marks, wounds on my breast and face,
Were meant to thee, O Cæsar, and thy Rome?
And have I this relurn ? did I for this

« ZurückWeiter »