Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

You both have virtues, shining through your shapes ;
To show, your titles are not writ on posts,
Or hollow statues; which the best men are,
Without Promethean stuffings reached from heaven.
Sweet Poesy's sacred garlands crown your gentry:
Which is, of all the faculties on earth,
The most abstract, and perfect, if she be
True born, and nursed with all the sciences.
She can so mould Rome, and her monuments,
Within the liquid marble of her lines,
That thcy shall stand fresh and miraculous,
Ever when they mix with innovating dust;
In her sweet streams shall our brave Roman spirits
Chase, and swim after death, with their choice deeds
Shining on their white shoulders; and therein
Shall Tiber, and our famous rivers, fall
With such attraction, that th’ambitious line
Of the round world shall to her centre shrink,
To hear their music. And for these high parts,
Cæsar shall reverence the Pierian arts.

Mec. Your majesty's high grace to poesy
Shall stand 'gainst all the dull detractions
Of leaden souls; who for the vain assumings
Of some, quite worthless of her sovereign wreaths,
Contain her worthiest prophets in contempt.

Gal. Happy is Rome of all earth's other states,
To have so true and great a president,
For her inferior spirits to imitate,
As Cæsar is; who addeth to the sun
Influence and lustre, in increasing thus
His inspirations, kindling fire in us.

Hor. Phæbus himself shall kneel at Cæsar's shrine,

And deck it with bay-garlands dewed with wine,
To quit the worship Cæsar does to him :
Where other princes, hoisted to their thrones
By Fortune's passionate and disordered power,
Sit in their height like clouds before the sun,
Hind'ring his comforts; and (by their excess
Of cold in virtue, and cross heat in vice)
Thunder and tempest on those learned heads,
Whom Cæsar with such honour doth advance.

Tib. All human business Fortune doth command
Without all order; and with her blind hand,
She, blind, bestows blind gifts: that still have nursed,
They see not who, nor how, but still the worst.

Cæs. Cæsar, for his rule, and for so much stuff As Fortune puts in his hand, shall dispose it (As if his hand had eyes, and soul, in it) With worth and judgment. Hands that part with gifts, Or will restrain their use, without desert, Or with a misery, numbed to Virtue's right, Work, as they had no soul to govern them, And quite reject her : sev’ring their estates From human order.

Whosoever can, And will not cherish Virtue, is no man.

Eques. Virgil is now at hand, imperial Cæsar.

Cæs. Rome's honour is at hand then. Fetch a chair, And set it on our right hand; where 'tis fit, Rome's honour and our own should ever sit. Now he is come out of Campania, I doubt not he hath finished all his Æneids; Which, like another soul, I long t’ enjoy. What think you three of Virgil, gentlemen (That are of his profession, though ranked higher),

Or, Horace, what sayst thou, that art the poorest,
And likeliest to envy or to detract ?

Hor. Cæsar speaks after common men in this,
To make a difference of me for my poorness :
As if the filth of poverty sunk as deep
Into a knowing spirit, as the bane
Of riches doch into an ignorant soul.
No, Cæsar; they be pathless moorish minds,
That being once made rotten with the dung
Of damnèd riches, ever after sink
Beneath the

steps

of

any villany.
But knowledge is the nectar, that keeps sweet
A perfect soul, even in this grave of sin;
And for my soul, it is as free as Cæsar's :
For what I know is due I'll give to all.
He that detracts, or envies virtuous merit,
Is still the covetous and the ignorant spirit.

Cæs. Thanks, Horace, for thy free and wholesome sharp

ness :

Which pleaseth Cæsar more than servile fawns.
A flattered prince soon turns the prince of fools.
And for thy sake we'll put no difference more
Between the great and good for being poor.
Say, then, loved Horace, thy true thought of Virgil.

Hor. I judge him of a rectified spirit,
By many revolutions of discourse
(In his bright reason's influence) refined
From all the tartarous moods of common men;
Bearing the nature and similitude
Of a right heavenly body; most severe
In fashion and collection of himself:
And then as clear and confident as Jove.

Gal. And yet so chaste and tender is his ear,
In suffering any syllable to pass,
That he thinks may become the honoured name
Of issue to his so examined self,
That all the lasting fruits of his full merit
In his own poems, he doth still distaste;
As if his mind's piece, which he strove to paint,
Could not with fleshly pencils have her right.

Tib. But to approve his works of sovereign worth,
This observation (methinks) more than serves ;
And is not vulgar. That which he hath writ,
Is with such judgment laboured, and distilled
Through all the needful uses of our lives,
That could a man remember but his lines,
He should not touch at any serious point,
But he might breathe his spirit out of him.

Cæs. You mean, he might repeat part of his works, As fit for any conference he can use ?

Tib. True, royal Cæsar.

Cæs. Worthily observed :
And a most worthy virtue in his works.
What thinks material Horace of his learning ?

Hor. His learning savours not the school-like gloss,
That most consists in echoing words and terms,
And soonest wins a man an empty name :
Nor any long, or far-fetched circumstance,
Wrapped in the curious general'ties of arts;
But a direct and analytic sum
Of all the worth and first effects of arts.
And for his poesy, 'tis so rammed with life,
That it shall gather strength of life, with being,
And live hereafter more admired than now.

Cæs. This one consent, in all your dooms of him, And mutual loves of all

your

several merits, Argues a truth of merit in

you

all.

VIRGIL enters.

See, here comes Virgil; we will rise and greet

him: Welcome to Cæsar, Virgil! Cæsar and Virgil Shall differ but in sound; to Cæsar, Virgil (Of his expressed greatness) shall be made A second surname; and to Virgil, Cæsar. Where are thy famous Æneids ? Do us grace To let us see, and surfeit on their sight.

Vir. Worthless they are of Cæsar's gracious eyes,
If they were perfect; much more with their wants :
Which yet are more than my time could supply.
And could great Cæsar's expectation
Be satisfied with any other service,
I would not show them.

Cæs. Virgil is too modest;
Or seeks, in vain, to make our longings more.
Show them, sweet Virgil.

Vir. Then, in such due fear
As fits presenters of great works to Cæsar,
I humbly show them.

Cæs. Let us now behold
A human soul made visible in life:
And more refulgent in a senseless paper,
Than in the sensual compliment of kings.
Read, read thyself, dear Virgil ; let not me
Profane one accent with an untuned tongue :
Best matter, badly shown, shows worse than bad.
See then this chair, of purpose set for thee,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »