Spoke Latin First

Friday, 28 February 2014

Michel de Montaigne

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

Proficient in Latin even before he knew his own tongue, Montaigne received an unusual education. His whole life was spent in storing up his choice thoughts for our profit and pleasure.
(Michel de Montaigne born Feb. 28, 1533.)

Vol. 32, pp. 29-40 of The Harvard Classics


Of the Institution and Education of Children

To the Ladie Diana of Foix, Countesse of Gurson


I NEVER knew father, how crooked and deformed soever his sonne were, that would either altogether cast him off, or not acknowledge him for his owne: and yet (unlesse he be meerely besotted or blinded in his affection) it may not be said, but he plainly perceiveth his defects, and hath a feeling of his imperfections. But so it is, he is his owne. So it is in my selfe. I see better than any man else, that what I have set downe is nought but the fond imaginations of him who in his youth hath tasted nothing but the paring, and seen but the superficies of true learning: whereof he hath retained but a generall and shapelesse forme: a smacke of every thing in generall, but nothing to the purpose in particular: After the French manner. To be short, I know there is an art of Phisicke; a course of lawes; foure parts of the Mathematikes; and I am not altogether ignorant what they tend unto. And perhaps I also know the scope and drift of Sciences in generall to be for the service of our life. But to wade further, or that ever I tired my selfe with plodding upon Aristotle (the Monarch of our moderne doctrine 1) or obstinately continued in search of any one science: I confesse I never did it. Nor is there any one art whereof I am able so much as to draw the first lineaments. And there is no sholler (be he of the lowest forme) that may not repute himselfe wiser than I, who am not able to oppose him in his first lesson: and if I be forced to it, I am constrained verie impertinently to draw in matter from some generall discourse, whereby I examine, and give a guesse at his natural judgement: a lesson as much unknowne to them as theirs is to me. I have not dealt or had commerce with any excellent booke, except Plutarke or Seneca, from whom (as the Danaides) I draw my water, uncessantly filling, and as fast emptying: some thing whereof I fasten to this paper, but to my selfe nothing at all. And touching bookes: Historie is my chiefe studie, Poesie my only delight, to which I am particularly affected: for as Cleanthes said, that as the voice being forciblie pent in the narrow gullet of a trumpet, at last issueth forth more strong and shriller, so me seemes, that a sentence cunningly and closely couched in measure-keeping Poesie, darts it selfe forth more furiously, and wounds me even to the quicke. And concerning the natural faculties that are in me (whereof behold here an essay), I perceive them to faint under their owne burthen; my conceits, 2 and my judgment march but uncertaine, and as it were groping, staggering, and stumbling at every rush: And when I have gone as far as I can, I have no whit pleased my selfe: for the further I saile the more land I descrie, and that so dimmed with fogges, and overcast with clouds, that my sight is so weakened, I cannot distinguish the same. And then undertaking to speake indifferently of all that presents it selfe unto my fantasie, and having nothing but mine owne natural meanes to imploy therein, if it be my hap (as commonly it is) among good Authors, to light upon those verie places which I have undertaken to treat off, as even now I did in Plutarke, reading his discourse of the power of imagination, wherein in regard of those wise men, I acknowledge my selfe so weake and so poore, so dull and grose-headed, as I am forced both to pittie and disdaine my selfe, yet am I pleased with this, that my opinions have often the grace to jump with theirs, and that I follow them a loofe-off, 3 and thereby possesse at least, that which all other men have not; which is, that I know the utmost difference betweene them and my selfe: all which notwithstanding, I suffer my inventions to run abroad, as weake and faint as I have produced them, without bungling and botching the faults which this comparison hath discovered to me in them. A man had need have a strong backe, to undertake to march foot to foot with these kind of men. The indiscreet writers of our age, amidst their triviall 4 compositions, intermingle and wrest in whole sentences taken from ancient Authors, supposing by such filching-theft to purchase honour and reputation to themselves, doe cleane contrarie. For, this infinite varietie and dissemblance of lustres, makes a face so wan, so ill-favored, and so uglie, in respect of theirs, that they lose much more than gaine thereby. These were two contrarie humours: The Philosopher Chrisippus was wont to foist-in amongst his books, not only whole sentences and other long-long discourses, but whole books of other Authors, as in one, he brought in Euripides his Medea. And Apollodorus was wont to say of him, that if one should draw from out his bookes what he had stolne from others, his paper would remaine blanke. Whereas Epicurus cleane contrarie to him in three hundred volumes he left behind him, had not made use of one allegation. 5 It was my fortune not long since to light upon such a place: I had languishingly traced after some French words, so naked and shallow, and so void either of sense or matter, that at last I found them to be nought but meere French words; and after a tedious and wearisome travell, I chanced to stumble upon an high, rich, and even to the clouds-raised piece, the descent whereof had it been somewhat more pleasant or easie, or the ascent reaching a little further, it had been excusable, and to be borne with-all; but it was such a steepie downe-fall, and by meere strength hewen out of the maine rocke, that by reading of the first six words, me thought I was carried into another world: whereby I perceive the bottome whence I came to be so low and deep, as I durst never more adventure to go through it; for, if I did stuffe any one of my discourses with those rich spoiles, it would manifestly cause the sottishnesse 6 of others to appeare. To reprove mine owne faults in others, seemes to me no more unsufferable than to reprehend (as I doe often) those of others in my selfe. They ought to be accused every where, and have all places of Sanctuarie taken from them: yet do I know how over boldly, at all times I adventure to equall my selfe unto my filchings, and to march hand in hand with them; not without a fond hardie hope, that I may perhaps be able to bleare the eyes of the Judges from discerning them. But it is as much for the benefit of my application, as for the good of mine invention and force. And I doe not furiously front, and bodie to bodie wrestle with those old champions: it is but by flights, advantages, and false offers I seek to come within them, and if I can, to give them a fall. I do not rashly take them about the necke, I doe but touch them, nor doe I go so far as by my bargaine I would seeme to doe; could I but keepe even with them, I should then be an honest man; for I seeke not to venture on them, but where they are strongest. To doe as I have seen some, that is, to shroud themselves under other armes, not daring so much as to show their fingers ends unarmed, and to botch up all their works (as it is an easie matter in a common subject, namely for the wiser sort) with ancient inventions, here and there hudled up together. And in those who endeavoured to hide what they have filched from others, and make it their owne, it is first a manifest note of injustice, then a plaine argument of cowardlinesse; who having nothing of any worth in themselves to make show of, will yet under the countenance of others sufficiencie goe about to make a faire offer: Moreover (oh great foolishnesse) to seek by such cosening 7tricks to forestall the ignorant approbation of the common sort, nothing fearing to discover their ignorance to men of understanding (whose praise only is of value) who will soone trace out such borrowed ware. As for me, there is nothing I will doe lesse. I never speake of others, but that I may the more speake of my selfe. This concerneth not those mingle-mangles of many kinds of stuffe, or as the Grecians call them Rapsodies, that for such are published, of which kind I have (since I came to yeares of discretion) seem divers most ingenious and wittie; amongst others, one under the name of Capilupus; besides many of the ancient stampe. These are wits of such excellence, as both here and elsewhere they will soone be perceived, as our late famous writer Lipsius, in his learned and laborious work of the Politikes: yet whatsoever come of it, for so much as they are but follies, my intent is not to smother them, no more than a bald and hoarie picture of mine, where a Painter hath drawne not a perfect visage, but mine owne. For, howsoever, these are but my humors and opinions, and I deliver them but to show what my conceit 8 is, and not what ought to be beleeved. Wherein I ayme at nothing but to display my selfe, who peradventure (if a new prentiship change me) shall be another tomorrow. I have no authoritie to purchase believe, neither do I desire it; knowing well that I am not sufficiently taught to instruct others. Some having read my precedent Chapter, 9 told me not long since in mine owne house, I should somewhat more have extended my selfe in the discourse concerning the institution of children. Now (Madam) if there were any sufficiencie in me touching that subject, I could not better employ the same than to bestow it as a present upon that little lad, which ere long threatneth to make a happie issue from out your honorable woombe; for (Madame) you are too generous to begin with other than a man childe. And having had so great a part in the conduct of your successful marriage, I may challenge some right and interest in the greatnesse and prosperitie of all that shall proceed from it: moreover, the ancient and rightfull possession, which you from time to time have ever had, and still have over my sevice, urgeth me with more than ordinarie respects, to wish all honour, well-fare and advantage to whatsoever may in any sort concerne you and yours. And truly, my meaning is but to show that the greatest difficultie, and importing all humane knowledge, seemeth to be in this point, where the nurture and institution of young children is in question. For, as in matters of husbandrie, the labor that must be used before sowing, setting, and planting, yea in planting itselfe, is most certaine and easie. But when that which was sowen, set and planted, commeth to take life; before it come to ripenesse, much adoe, and great varietie of proceeding belongeth to it. So in men, it is no great matter to get them, but being borne, what continuall cares, what diligent attendance, what doubts and feares, doe daily wait to their parents and tutors, before they can be nurtured and brought to any good? The fore-shew of their inclination whilest they are young is so uncertaine, their humours so variable, their promises so changing, their hopes so false, and their proceedings so doubtful, that it is very hard (yea for the wisest) to ground any certaine judgment, or assured successe upon them. Behold Cymon, view Themistocles, and a thousand others, how they have differed, and fallen to better from themselves, and deceive the expectation of such as knew them. The young whelps both of Dogges and Beares at first sight shew their natural disposition, but men headlong embracing this custome or fashion, following that humor or opinion, admitting this or that passion, allowing of that or this law, are easily changed, and soone disguised; yet it is hard to force the natural propension or readinesse of the mind, whereby it followeth, that for want of heedie fore-sight in those that could not guide their course well, they often employ much time in vaine, to addresse young children in those matters whereunto they are not naturally addicted. All which difficulties notwithstanding, mine opinion is, to bring them up in the best and profitablest studies, and that a man should slightly passe over those fond presages, and deceiving prognostikes, which we over precisely gather in their infancie. And (without offence be it said) me thinks that Plato in his Commonwealth allowed them too-too much authoritie.

Poet Apostle of Good Cheer

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)

"Tell me not in mournful numbers, life is but an empty dream..."
"Stars of the summer night! Far in yon azure deeps--"
So begin poems that have charmed and cheered thousands.
(Longfellow born Feb. 27, 1807.)

Vol. 42, pp. 1264-1280 of The Harvard Classics


A Psalm of Life
What the Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist

TELL me not, in mournful numbers,
  Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
  And things are not what they seem.

A David Who Side-stepped Goliath

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo

Hugo was insulted by the most powerful critics in France. He put into the preface of a play "his sling and his stone" by which others might slay "the classical Goliath."
(Victor Hugo born Feb. 26, 1802.)

Vol. 39 pp. 337-349 of The Harvard Classics


Preface to Cromwell

1 THE DRAMA contained in the following pages has nothing to commend it to the attention or the good will of the public. It has not, to attract the interest of political disputants, the advantage of the veto of the official censorship, nor even, to win for it at the outset the literary sympathy of men of taste, the honour of having been formally rejected by an infallible reading committee.

Punished for Too Sharp a Wit

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe

The brilliant wit and cutting satire of Defoe made for him friends and enemies - but mostly enemies. So piercing and two-edged was "The Shortest-Way with Dissenters" that he was fined, imprisoned and pilloried.
("The Shortest-Way with Dissenters" censored, Feb. 25. 1703.)

Vol.. 27, pp. 133-147 of The Harvard Classics


The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters; Or, Proposals for the Establishment of the Church

SIR ROGER L’ESTRANGE tells us a story in his collection of Fables, of the Cock and the Horses. The Cock was gotten to roost in the stable among the horses; and there being no racks or other conveniences for him, it seems, he was forced to roost upon the ground. The horses jostling about for room, and putting the Cock in danger of his life, he gives them this grave advice, “Pray, Gentlefolks! let us stand still! for fear we should tread upon one another!”

Lights and Shadows of Milton

Monday, 24 February 2014

John Milton

John Milton. (1608–1674).  Complete Poems.

In a superb poem, Milton bids Loathed Melancholy begone to some dark cell. He calls for the joys of youth and vows eternal faith with them.
(John Milton marries his third wife, Elizabeth Marshall, Feb. 24, 1662.)

Vol. 4, pp. 30-38 of The Harvard Classics

Pepys' Nose for News

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson

Gossipy, witty Pepys had a curiosity that made him famous. He knew all the news of court and street. Stevenson, who never put his pen to a dull subject, writes of Pepys.
(Samuel Pepys born Feb. 23, 1632.)

Vol. 28, pp. 285-292 of The Harvard Classics


Samuel Pepys

IN two books a fresh light has recently been thrown on the character and position of Samuel Pepys. Mr. Mynors Bright has given us a new transcription of the Diary, increasing it in bulk by near a third, correcting many errors, and completing our knowledge of the man in some curious and important points. We can only regret that he has taken liberties with the author and the public. It is no part of the duties of the editor of an established classic to decide what may or may not be “tedious to the reader.” The book is either an historical document or not, and in condemning Lord Braybrooke Mr. Bright condemns himself. As for the time-honored phrase, “unfit for publication,” without being cynical, we may regard it as the sign of a precaution more or less commercial; and we may think, without being sordid, that when we purchase six huge and distressingly expensive volumes, we are entitled to be treated rather more like scholars and rather less like children. But Mr. Bright may rest assured: while we complain, we are still grateful. Mr. Wheatley, to divide our obligation, brings together, clearly and with no lost words, a body of illustrative material. Sometimes we might ask a little more; never, I think, less. And as a matter of fact, a great part of Mr. Wheatley’s volume might be transferred, by a good editor of Pepys, to the margin of the text, for it is precisely what the reader wants.

  In the light of these two books, at least, we have now to read our author. Between them they contain all we can expect to learn for, it may be, many years. Now, if ever, we should be able to form some notion of that unparalleled figure in the annals of mankind—unparalleled for three good reasons: first, because he was a man known to his contemporaries in a halo of almost historical pomp, and to his remote descendants with an indecent familiarity, like a tap-room comrade; second, because he has outstripped all competitors in the art or virtue of a conscious honesty about oneself; and, third, because, being in many ways a very ordinary person, he has yet placed himself before the public eye with such a fulness and such an intimacy of detail as might be envied by a genius like Montaigne. Not then for his own sake only, but as a character in a unique position, endowed with a unique talent, and shedding a unique light upon the lives of the mass of making, he is surely worthy of prolonged and patient study.

THE DIARY


  That there should be such a book as Pepys’ Diary is incomparably strange. Pepys, in a corrupt and idle period, played the man in public employments, toiling hard and keeping his honor bright. Much of the little good that is set down to James the Second comes by right to Pepys; and if it were little for a king, it is much for a subordinate. To his clear, capable head was owing somewhat of the greatness of England on the seas. In the exploits of Hawke, Rodney, or Nelson, this dead Mr. Pepys of the Navy Office had some considerable share. He stood well by his business in the appalling plague of 1666. He was loved and respected by some of the best and wisest men in England. He was President of the Royal Society; and when he came to die, people said of his conduct in that solemn hour—thinking it needless to say more—that it was answerable to the greatness of his life. Thus he walked in dignity, guards of soldiers sometimes attending him in his walks, subalterns bowing before his periwig; and when he uttered his thoughts they were suitable to his state and services. On February 8, 1668, we find him writing to Evelyn, his mind bitterly occupied with the late Dutch war, and some thoughts of the different story of the repulse of the great Armada: “Sir, you will not wonder at the backwardness of my thanks for the present you made me, so many days since, of the Prospect of the Medway, while the Hollander rode master in it, when I have told you that the sight of it hath led me to such reflections on my particular interest, by my employment, in the reproach due to that miscarriage, as have given me little less disquiet than he is fancied to have who found his face in Michael Angelo’s hell. The same should serve me also in excuse for my silence in celebrating your mastery shown in the design and draught, did not indignation rather than courtship urge me so far to commend them, as to wish the furniture of our House of Lords changed from the story of ’88 to that of ’67 (of Evelyn’s designing), till the pravity of this were reformed to the temper of that age, wherein God Almighty found his blessings more operative than, I fear, he doth in ours his judgments.”

  This is a letter honorable to the writer, where the meaning rather than the words is eloquent. Such was the account he gave of himself to his contemporaries; such thoughts he chose to utter, and in such language: giving himself out for a grave and patriotic public servant. We turn to the same date in the Diary by which he is known, after two centuries, to his descendants. The entry begins in the same key with the letter, blaming the “madness of the House of Commons” and “the base proceedings, just the epitome of all our public proceedings in this age, of the House of Lords”; and then, without the least transition, this is how our diarist proceeds: “To the Strand, to my bookseller’s, and there bought an idle, rogueish French book, L’escholle des Filles, which I have bought in plain binding, avoiding the buying of it better bound, because I resolve, as soon as I have read it, to burn it, that it may not stand in the list of books, nor among them, to disgrace them, if it should be found.” Even in our day, when responsibility is so much more clearly apprehended, the man who wrote the letter would be notable; but what about the man, I do not say who bought a roguish book, but who was ashamed of doing so, yet did it, and recorded both the doing and the shame in the pages of his daily journal?

  We all, whether we write or speak, must somewhat drape ourselves when we address our fellows; at a given moment we apprehend our character and acts by some particular side; we are merry with one, grave with another, as befits the nature and demands of the relation. Pepys’ letter to Evelyn would have little in common with that other one to Mrs. Knipp which he signed by the pseudonym of Dapper Dicky; yet each would be suitable to the character of his correspondent. There is no untruth in this, for man, being a Protean animal, swiftly shares and changes with his company and surroundings; and these changes are the better part of his education in the world. To strike a posture once for all, and to march through life like a drum-major, is to be highly disagreeable to others and a fool for oneself into the bargain. To Evelyn and to Knipp we understand the double facing; but to whom was he posing in the Diary, and what, in the name of astonishment, was the nature of the pose? Had he suppressed all mention of the book, or had he bought it, gloried in the act, and cheerfully recorded his glorification, in either case we should have made him out. But no; he is full of precautions to conceal the “disgrace” of the purchase, and yet speeds to chronicle the whole affair in pen and ink. It is a sort of anomaly in human action, which we can exactly parallel from another part of the Diary.

  Mrs. Pepys had written a paper of her too just complaints against her husband, and written it in plain and very pungent English. Pepys, in an agony lest the world should come to see it, brutally seizes and destroys the tell-tale document; and then—you disbelieve your eyes—down goes the whole story with unsparing truth and in the cruellest detail. It seems he has no design but to appear respectable, and here he keeps a private book to prove he was not. You are at first faintly reminded of some of the vagaries of the morbid religious diarist; but at a moment’s thought the resemblance disappears. The design of Pepys is not at all to edify; it is not from repentance that he chronicles his peccadillos, for he tells us when he does repent, and, to be just to him, there often follows some improvement. Again, the sins of the religious diarist are of a very formal pattern, and are told with an elaborate whine. But in Pepys you come upon good, substantive misdemeanors; beams in his eye of which he alone remains unconscious; healthy outbreaks of the animal nature, and laughable subterfuges to himself that always command belief and often engage the sympathies.

  Pepys was a young man for his age, came slowly to himself in the world, sowed his wild oats late, took late to industry, and preserved till nearly forty the headlong gusto of a boy. So, to come rightly at the spirit in which the Diary was written, we must recall a class of sentiments which with most of us are over and done before the age of twelve. In our tender years we still preserve a freshness of surprise at our prolonged existence; events make an impression out of all proportion to their consequence; we are unspeakably touched by our own past adventures; and look forward to our future personality with sentimental interest. It was something of this, I think, that clung to Pepys. Although not sentimental in the abstract, he was sweetly sentimental about himself. His own past clung about his heart, an evergreen. He was the slave of an association. He could not pass by Islington, where his father used to carry him to cakes and ale, but he must light at the “King’s Head” and eat and drink “for remembrance of the old house sake.” He counted it good fortune to lie a night at Epsom to renew his old walks, “where Mrs. Hely and I did use to walk and talk, with whom I had the first sentiments of love and pleasure in a woman’s company, discourse and taking her by the hand, she being a pretty woman.” He goes about weighing up the Assurance, which lay near Woolwich under water, and cries in a parenthesis, “Poor ship, that I have been twice merry in, in Captain Holland’s time”; and after revisiting theNaseby, now changed into the Charles, he confesses “it was a great pleasure to myself to see the ship that I began my good fortune in.” The stone that he was cut for he preserved in a case; and to the Turners he kept alive such gratitude for their assistance that for years, and after he had begun to mount himself into higher zones, he continued to have that family to dinner on the anniversary of the operation. Not Hazlitt nor Rousseau had a more romantic passion for their past, although at times they might express it more romantically; and if Pepys shared with them this childish fondness, did not Rousseau, who left behind him the Confessions, or Hazlitt, who wrote the Liber Amoris, and loaded his essays with loving personal detail, share with Pepys in his unwearied egotism? For the two things go hand in hand; or, to be more exact, it is the first that makes the second either possible or pleasing.

  But, to be quite in sympathy with Pepys, we must return once more to the experience of children. I can remember to have written, in the fly-leaf of more than one book, the date and the place where I then was—if, for instance, I was ill in bed or sitting in a certain garden; these were jottings for my future self; if I should chance on such a note in after years, I thought it would cause me a particular thrill to recognize myself across the intervening distance. Indeed, I might come upon them now, and not be moved one title—which shows that I have comparatively failed in life, and grown older than Samuel Pepys. For in the Diary we can find more than one such note of perfect childish egotism; as when he explains that his candle is going out, “which makes me write thus slobberingly”; or as in this incredible particularity, “To my study, where I only wrote thus much of this day’s passage to this, and so out again”; or lastly, as here, with more of circumstance: “I staid up till the bellman came by with his bell under my window, as I was writing of this very line,and cried, ‘Past one of the clock, and a cold, frosty, windy morning.’” Such passages are not to be misunderstood. The appeal to Samuel Pepys years hence is unmistakable. He desires that dear, though unknown, gentleman keenly to realize his predecessor; to remember why a passage was uncleanly written; to recall (let us fancy, with a sigh) the tones of the bellman, the chill of the early, windy morning, and the very line his own romantic self was scribing at the moment. The man, you will perceive, was making reminiscences—a sort of pleasure by ricochet, which comforts many in distress, and turns some others into sentimental libertines: and the whole book, if you will but look at it in that way, is seen to be a work of art to Pepys’ own address.

  Here, then, we have the key to that remarkable attitude preserved by him throughout his Diary, to that unflinching—I had almost said, that unintelligent—sincerity which makes it a miracle among human books. He was not unconscious of his errors—far from it; he was often startled into shame, often reformed, often made and broke his vows of change. But whether he did ill or well, he was still his own unequalled self; still that entrancing ego of whom alone he cared to write; and still sure of his own affectionate indulgence, when the parts should be changed, and the writer come to read what he had written. Whatever he did, or said, or thought, or suffered, it was still a trait of Pepys, a character of his career; and as, to himself, he was more interesting than Moses or than Alexander, so all should be faithfully set down. I have called his Diary a work of art. Now when the artist has found something, word or deed, exactly proper to a favorite character in play or novel, he will neither suppress nor diminish it, though the remark be silly or the act mean. The hesitation of Hamlet, the credulity of Othello, the baseness of Emma Bovary, or the irregularities of Mr. Swiveller, caused neither disappointment nor disgust to their creators. And so with Pepys and his adored protagonist: adored not blindly, but with trenchant insight and enduring, human toleration. I have gone over and over the greater part of the Diary; and the points where, to the most suspicious scrutiny, he has seemed not perfectly sincere, are so few, so doubtful, and so petty, that I am ashamed to name them. It may be said that we all of us write such a diary in airy characters upon our brain; but I fear there is a distinction to be made; I fear that as we render to our consciousness an account of our daily fortunes and behavior, we too often weave a tissue of romantic compliments and dull excuses; and even if Pepys were the ass and coward that men call him, we must take rank as sillier and more cowardly than he. The bald truth about oneself, what we are all too timid to admit when we are not too dull to see it, that was what he saw clearly and set down unsparingly.


  It is improbable that the Diary can have been carried on in the same single spirit in which it was begun. Pepys was not such an ass, but he must have perceived, as he went on, the extraordinary nature of the work he was producing. He was a great reader, and he knew what other books were like. It must, at least, have crossed his mind that some one might ultimately decipher the manuscript, and he himself, with all his pains and pleasures, be resuscitated in some later day; and the thought, although discouraged, must have warmed his heart. He was not such an ass, besides, but he must have been conscious of the deadly explosives, the guncotton and the giant powder, he was hoarding in his drawer. Let some contemporary light upon the Journal, and Pepys was plunged forever in social and political disgrace. We can trace the growth of his terrors by two facts. In 1660, while the Diary was still in its youth, he tells about it, as a matter of course, to a lieutenant in the navy; but in 1669, when it was already near an end, he could have bitten his tongue out, as the saying is, because he had let slip his secret to one so grave and friendly as Sir William Coventry. And from two other facts I think we may infer that he had entertained, even if he had not acquiesced in, the thought of a far-distant publicity. The first is of capital importance: the Diary was not destroyed. The second—that he took unusual precautions to confound the cipher in “roguish” passages—proves, beyond question, that he was thinking of some other reader besides himself. Perhaps while his friends were admiring the “greatness of his behavior” at the approach of death, he may have had a twinkling hope of immortality.Mens cujusque is est quisque, said his chosen motto; and, as he had stamped his mind with every crook and foible in the pages of the Diary, he might feel that what he left behind him was indeed himself. There is perhaps no other instance so remarkable of the desire of man for publicity and an enduring name. The greatness of his life was open, yet he longed to communicate its smallness also; and, while contemporaries bowed before him, he must buttonhole posterity with the news that his periwig was once alive with nits. But this thought, although I cannot doubt he had it, was neither his first nor his deepest; it did not color one word that he wrote; the Diary, for as long as he kept it, remained what it was when he began, a private pleasure for himself. It was his bosom secret; it added a zest to all his pleasures; he lived in and for it, and might well write these solemn words, when he closed that confidant forever: “And so I betake myself to that course which is almost as much as to see myself go into the grave; for which, and all the discomforts that will accompany my being blind, the good God prepare me.”

An Ode for Washington's Birthday

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Robert Burns

Robert Burns (1759–1796).  Poems and Songs.

(George Washington born Feb. 22, 1732.)
Burns asks for Columbia's harp, and then sings of liberty. He bewails the sad state of the land of Alfred and Wallace which once championed liberty, and now fights for tyranny.

Vol. 6, pp. 492-494 of The Harvard Classics


466. Ode for General Washington’s Birthday


NO Spartan tube, no Attic shell,
  No lyre Æolian I awake;
’Tis liberty’s bold note I swell,
  Thy harp, Columbia, let me take!
See gathering thousands, while I sing,
A broken chain exulting bring,
  And dash it in a tyrant’s face,
And dare him to his very beard,
And tell him he no more is feared—
  No more the despot of Columbia’s race!
A tyrant’s proudest insults brav’d,
They shout—a People freed! They hail an Empire saved.

Does Football Make a College?

Friday, 21 February 2014

John Henry Cardinal Newman

John Henry Newman

Just what makes a university? A group of fine buildings? A library? A staff of well-trained teachers? A body of eager students? A winning football team? Cardinal Newman defines the prime functions of a university.

Vol. 28, pp. 31-39 of The Harvard Classics


The Idea of a University. I. What Is a University?


IF I were asked to describe as briefly and popularly as I could, what a University was, I should draw my answer from its ancient designation of a Studium Generale, or “School of Universal Learning.” This description implies the assemblage of strangers from all parts in one spot;—from all parts; else, how will you find professors and students for every department of knowledge? and in one spot; else, how can there be any school at all? Accordingly, in its simple and rudimental form, it is a school of knowledge of every kind, consisting of teachers and learners from every quarter. Many things are requisite to complete and satisfy the idea embodied in this description; but such as this a University seems to be in its essence, a place for the communication and circulation of thought, by means of personal intercourse, through a wide extent of country.

Voltaire Observes the Quakers

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Voltaire

François Marie Arouet de Voltaire (1694–1778). Letters on the English.

Because the early Quakers shook, trembled, and quaked when they became inspired - they received the title of "Quakers." This sect attracted the keen-minded Voltaire, who made interesting notes on them during his visit to England.

Vol. 34, pp. 65-78 of The Harvard Classics


Letter I—On the Quakers

I WAS of opinion that the doctrine and history of so extraordinary a people were worthy the attention of the curious. To acquaint myself with them I made a visit to one of the most eminent Quakers in England, who, after having traded thirty years, had the wisdom to prescribe limits to his fortune and to his desires, and was settled in a little solitude not far from London. Being come into it, I perceived a small but regularly built house, vastly neat, but without the least pomp of furniture. The Quaker who owned it was a hale, ruddy complexioned old man, who had never been afflicted with sickness because he had always been insensible to passions, and a perfect stranger to intemperance. I never in my life saw a more noble or a more engaging aspect than his. He was dressed like those of his persuasion, in a plain coat without pleats in the sides, or buttons on the pockets and sleeves; and had on a beaver, the brims of which were horizontal like those of our clergy. He did not uncover himself when I appeared, and advanced towards me without once stooping his body; but there appeared more politeness in the open, humane air of his countenance, than in the custom of drawing one leg behind the other, and taking that from the head which is made to cover it. “Friend,” says he to me, “I perceive thou art a stranger, but if I can do any thing for thee, only tell me.” “Sir,” said I to him, bending forwards and advancing, as is usual with us, one leg towards him, “I flatter myself that my just curiosity will not give you the least offense, and that you’ll do me the honour to inform me of the particulars of your religion.” “The people of thy country,” replied the Quaker, “are too full of their bows and compliments, but I never yet met with one of them who had so much curiosity as thy self. Come in, and let us first dine together.” I still continued to make some very unreasonable ceremonies, it not being easy to disengage one’s self at once from habits we have been long used to; and after taking part in a frugal meal, which began and ended with a prayer to God, I began to question my courteous host. I opened with that which good Catholics have more than once made to Huguenots. “My dear sir,” said I, “were you ever baptized?” “I never was,” replied the Quaker, “nor any of my brethren.” “Zounds!” said I to him, “you are not Christians, then.” “Friend,” replies the old man in a soft tone of voice, “swear not; we are Christians, and endeavour to be good Christians, but we are not of opinion that the sprinkling water on a child’s head makes him a Christian.” “Heavens!” said I, shocked at his impiety, “you have then forgot that Christ was baptised by St. John.” “Friend,” replies the mild Quaker once again, “swear not; Christ indeed was baptised by John, by He himself never baptised anyone. We are the disciples of Christ, not of John.” I pitied very much the sincerity of my worthy Quaker, and was absolutely for forcing him to get himself christened. “Were that all,” replied he very gravely, “we would submit cheerfully to baptism, purely in compliance with thy weakness, for we don’t condemn any person who uses it; but then we think that those who profess a religion of so holy, so spiritual a nature as that of Christ, ought to abstain to the utmost of their power from the Jewish ceremonies.” “O unaccountable!” said I: “what! baptism a Jewish ceremony?” “Yes, my friend,” says he, “so truly Jewish, that a great many Jews use the baptism of John to this day. Look into ancient authors, and thou wilt find that John only revived this practice; and that it had been used by the Hebrews, long before his time, in like manner as the Mahometans imitated the Ishmaelites in their pilgrimages to Mecca. Jesus indeed submitted to the baptism of John, as He had suffered Himself to be circumcised; but circumcision and the washing with water ought to be abolished by the baptism of Christ, that baptism of the Spirit, that ablution of the soul, which is the salvation of mankind. Thus the forerunner said, ‘I indeed baptise you with water unto repentance; but He that cometh after me is mightier that I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.’ Likewise Paul, the great apostle of the Gentiles, writes as follows to the Corinthians, ‘Christ sent me not to baptise, but to preach the Gospel;’ and indeed Paul never baptised but two persons with water, and that very much against his inclinations. He circumcised his disciple Timothy, and the other disciples likewise all who were willing to submit to that carnal ordinance. “But art thou circumcised?” added he. “I have not the honour to be so,” said I. “Well, friend,” continued the Quaker, “thou art a Christian without being circumcised, and I am one without being baptised.” Thus did this pious man make a wrong, but very specious application of four or five texts of Scripture which seemed to favour the tenets of his sect; but at the same time forgot very sincerely a hundred texts which made directly against them. I had more sense than to contest with him, since there is no possibility of convincing an enthusiast. A man should never pretend to inform a lover of his mistress’ faults, no more than one who is at law of the badness of his cause; nor attempt to win over a fanatic by strength of reasoning. Accordingly I waived the subject.

Earthly Experience of a Chinese Goddess

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Statue of Buddha in Sanarth Museum

Buddhist Writings

The thousandth celestial wife of the Garland God slipped and fell to earth, where she took mortal form and served as an attendant in a temple. Death finally released her and she went back to heaven to tell her lord of the ways of men.

Vol. 45 pp. 693-701 of The Harvard Classics


The Devoted Wife
Translated from the Dhammapada, and from Buddhaghosa’s comment

        
While eagerly man culls life’s flowers,
With all his faculties intent,
Of pleasure still insatiate—
Death comes and overpowereth him.

“WHILE eagerly man culls life’s flowers.” This doctrinal instruction was given by The Teacher while dwelling at Svatthi, and it was concerning a woman called Husband-honorer. The affair began in the Heaven of the Suite of the Thirty-three.

Lasting Peace with Great Britain

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Peacemakers on The River Queen

American Historical Documents, 1000–1904

All Americans should know this treaty which finally inaugurated an era of peace and good understanding with England. For aver a hundred years this peace has been unbroken.
(Treaty with Great Britain proclaimed Feb. 18. 1815.)

Vol. 43. pp. 255-264 of The Harvard Classics


Treaty with Great Britain (End of War of 1812)
(1814)

[This treaty brought to a close the “War of 1812.”]

Treaty of Peace and Amity between His Britannic Majesty and the United States of America, Concluded at Ghent, December 24, 1814; Ratification Advised by Senate, February 16, 1815; Ratified by President; February 17, 1815; Ratifications Exchanged at Washington, February 17, 1815; Proclaimed, February 18, 1815.

Death His Curtain Call

Monday, 17 February 2014

Jean Baptiste Poquelin Molière

Jean Baptiste Poquelin Molière (1622–1673).  Tartuffe.

While acting in one of his own plays, Molière was suddenly stricken and died shortly after the final curtain. He took an important role in "Tartuffe" which introduces to literature a character as famous as Shakespeare's Falstaff.

Vol. 26, pp. 199-217 of The Harvard Classics

Social Circles Among Ants

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Charles Darwin

Charles Robert Darwin (1809–1882). Origin of Species.

Ants have slaves who work for them. These slaves make the nests, feed the master ants, tend the eggs, and do the moving when a colony of ants migrate. Darwin minutely describes the habits and lives of the industrious ants and their marvelous social organization - a wonder to mankind.

Vol. 11, pp. 264-268 of The Harvard Classics


VIII. Instinct
Special Instincts

  Slave-making instinct.—This remarkable instinct was first discovered in the Formica (Polyerges) rufescens by Pierre Huber, a better observer even than his celebrated father. This ant is absolutely dependent on its slaves; without their aid, the species would certainly become extinct in a single year. The males and fertile female do no work of any kind, and the workers or sterile females, though most energetic and courageous in capturing slaves, do no other work. They are incapable of making their own nests, or of feeding their own larvæ. When the old nest is found inconvenient, and they have to migrate, it is the slaves which determine the migration, and actually carry their masters in their jaws. So utterly helpless are the masters, that when Huber shut up thirty of them without a slave, but with plenty of the food which they like best, and with their own larvæ and pupæ to stimulate them to work, they did nothing; they could not even feed themselves, and many perished of hunger. Huber then introduced a single slave (F. fusca), and she instantly set to work, fed and saved the survivors; made some cells and tended the larvæ, and put all to rights. What can be more extraordinary than these well-ascertained facts? If we had not known of any other slave-making ant, it would have been hopeless to speculate how so wonderful an instinct could have been perfected.

  Another species, Formica sanguinea, was likewise first discovered by P. Huber to be a slave-making ant. This species is found in the southern parts of England, and its habits have been attended to by Mr. F. Smith, of the British Museum, to whom I am much indebted for information on this and other subjects. Although fully trusting to the statements of Huber and Mr. Smith, I tried to approach the subject in a sceptical frame of mind, as any one may well be excused for doubting the existence of so extraordinary an instinct as that of making slaves. Hence, I will give the observations which I made in some little detail. I opened fourteen nests of F. sanguinea, and found a few slaves in all. Males and fertile females of the slave species (F. fusca) are found only in their own proper communities, and have never been observed in the nests of F. sanguinea. The slaves are black and not above half the size of their red masters, so that the contrast in their appearance is great. When the nest is slightly disturbed, the slaves occasionally come out, and like their masters are much agitated and defend the nest: when the nest is much disturbed, and the larvæ and pupæ are exposed, the slaves work energetically together with their masters in carrying them away to a place of safety. Hence, it is clear, that the slaves feel quite at home. During the months of June and July, on three successive years, I watched for many hours several nests in Surrey and Sussex, and never saw a slave either leave or enter a nest. As, during these months, the slaves are very few in number, I thought that they might behave differently when more numerous; but Mr. Smith informs me that he has watched the nests at various hours during May, June, and August, both in Surrey and Hampshire, and has never seen the slaves, though present in large numbers in August, either leave or enter the nest. Hence he considers them as strictly household slaves. The masters, on the other hand, may be constantly seen bringing in materials for the nest, and food of all kinds. During the year 1860, however, in the month of July, I came across a community with an unusually large stock of slaves, and I observed a few slaves mingled with their masters leaving the nest, and marching along the same road to a tall Scotch-fir-tree, twenty-five yards distant, which they ascended together, probably in search of aphides or cocci. According to Huber, who had ample opportunities for observation, the slaves in Switzerland habitually work with their masters in making the nest, and they alone open and close the doors in the morning and evening; and, as Huber expressly states, their principal office is to search for aphides. This difference in the usual habits of the masters and slaves in the two countries, probably depends merely on the slaves being captured in greater numbers in Switzerland than in England.

  One day I fortunately witnessed a migration of F. sanguinea from one nest to another, and it was a most interesting spectacle to behold the masters carefully carrying their slaves in their jaws instead of being carried by them, as in the case of F. rufescens. Another day my attention was struck by about a score of the slave-makers haunting the same spot, and evidently not in search of food; they approached and were vigorously repulsed by an independent community of the slave-species (F. fusca); sometimes as many as three of these ants clinging to the legs of the slavemaking F. sanguinea. The latter ruthlessly killed their small opponents, and carried their dead bodies as food to their nest, twenty-nine yards distant; but they were prevented from getting any pupæ to rear as slaves. I then dug up a small parcel of the pupæ of F. fusca from another nest, and put them down on a bare spot near the place of combat; they were eagerly seized and carried off by the tyrants, who perhaps fancied that, after all, they had been victorious in their late combat.

  At the same time I laid on the same place a small parcel of the pupæ of another species, F. flava, with a few of these little yellow ants still clinging to the fragments of their nest. This species is sometimes, though rarely, made into slaves, as has been described by Mr. Smith. Although so small a species, it is very courageous, and I have seen it ferociously attack other ants. In one instance I found to my surprise an independent community of F. flava under a stone beneath a nest of the slavemaking F. sanguinea; and when I had accidentally disturbed both nests, the little ants attacked their big neighbours with surprising courage. Now I was curious to ascertain whether F. sanguinea could distinguish the pupæ of F. fusca, which they habitually make into slaves, from those of the little and furious F. flava, which they rarely capture, and it was evident that they did at once distinguish them; for we have seen that they eagerly and instantly seized the pupæ of F. fusca, whereas they were much terrified when they came across the pupæ or even the earth from the nest, of F. flava, and quickly ran away; but in about a quarter of an hour, shortly after all the little yellow ants had crawled away, they took heart and carried off the pupæ.

  One evening I visited another community of F. sanguinea, and found a number of these ants returning home and entering their nests, carrying the dead bodies of F. fusca (showing that it was not a migration) and numerous pupæ. I traced a long file of ants burthened with booty, for about forty yards back, to a very thick clump of heath, whence I saw the last individual of F. sanguinea emerge, carrying a pupa; but I was not able to find the desolated nest in the thick heath. The nest, however, must have been close at hand, for two or three individuals of F. fusca were rushing about in the greatest agitation, and one was perched motionless with its own pupa in its mouth on the top of a spray of heath, an image of despair over its ravaged home.
  Such are the facts, though they did not need confirmation by me, in regard to the wonderful instinct of making slaves. Let it be observed what a contrast the instinctive habits of F. sanguinea present with those of the continental F. rufescens. The latter does not build its own nest, does not determine its own migrations, does not collect food for itself or its young, and cannot even feed itself: it is absolutely dependent on its numerous slaves. Formica sanguinea, on the other hand, possesses much fewer slaves, and in the early part of the summer extremely few: the masters determine when and where a new nest shall be formed, and when they migrate, the masters carry the slaves. Both in Switzerland and England the slaves seem to have the exclusive care of the larvæ, and the masters alone go on slave-making expeditions. In Switzerland the slaves and masters work together, making and bringing materials for the nest both, but chiefly the slaves, tend, and milk, as it may be called, their aphides; and thus both collect food for the community. In England the masters alone usually leave the nest to collect building materials and food for themselves, their slaves and larvæ. So that the masters in this country receive much less service from their slaves than they do in Switzerland.

  By what steps the instinct of F. sanguinea originated I will not pretend to conjecture. But as ants which are not slave-makers will, as I have seen, carry off the pupæ of other species, if scattered near their nests, it is possible that such pupæ originally stored as food might become developed; and the foreign ants thus unintentionally reared would then follow their proper instincts, and do what work they could. If their presence proved useful to the species which had seized them—if it were more advantageous to this species to capture workers than to procreate them—the habit of collecting pupæ, originally for food, might by natural selection be strengthened and rendered permanent for the very different purpose of raising slaves. When the instinct was once acquired, if carried out to a much less extent even than in our British F. sanguinea, which, as we have seen, is less aided by its slaves than the same species in Switzerland, natural selection might increase and modify the instinct—always supposing each modification to be of use to the species—until an ant was formed as abjectly dependent on its slaves as is the Formica rufescens.

The World Well Lost?

Saturday, 15 February 2014

John Dryden

John Dryden (1631–1700).  All for Love.

The romantic and heedless loves of Antony and Cleopatra figure prominently in history, literature, and drama. Dryden made a fascinating play from the story of Antony, who sacrificed the leadership of Rome, reputation, and life itself for love of the Egyptian queen, who followed him in death.
(Mark Antony offers Cæsar crown at Rome, Feb. 15, 44 B. C.)

Vol. 18, pp. 53-69 of The Harvard Classics


Act III

At one door enter CLEOPATRA, CHARMION, IRAS, and ALEXAS, a Train of Egyptians: at the other ANTONY and Romans. The entrance on both sides is prepared by music; the trumpets first sounding on ANTONY’S part: then answered by timbrels, etc., on CLEOPATRA’S. CHARMION and IRAS hold a laurel wreath betwixt them. A Dance of Egyptians. After the ceremony, CLEOPATRA crowns ANTONY.

 Ant.  I thought how those white arms would fold me in,
And strain me close, and melt me into love;
So pleased with that sweet image, I sprung forwards,
And added all my strength to every blow.

  Cleo.  Come to me, come, my soldier, to my arms!
You’ve been too long away from my embraces;
But, when I have you fast, and all my own,
With broken murmurs, and with amorous sighs,
I’ll say, you were unkind, and punish you,
And mark you red with many an eager kiss.

  Ant.  My brighter Venus!

  Cleo.  O my greater Mars!

  Ant.  Thou join’st us well, my love!
Suppose me come from the Phlegræan plains,
Where gasping giants lay, cleft by my sword,
And mountain-tops paired off each other blow,
To bury those I slew. Receive me, goddess!
Let Cæsar spread his subtle nets; like Vulcan,
In thy embraces I would be beheld
By heaven and earth at once;
And make their envy what they meant their sport?
Let those, who took us, blush; I would love on,
With awful state, regardless of their frowns,
As their superior gods.
There’s no satiety of love in thee:
Enjoyed, thou still art new; perpetual spring
Is in thy arms; the ripened fruit but falls,
And blossoms rise to fill its empty place;
And I grow rich by giving.
 
Enter VENTIDIUS, and stands apart

  Alex.  Oh, now the danger’s past, your general comes!
He joins not in your joys, nor minds your triumphs;
But, with contracted brows, looks frowning on,
As envying your success.

  Ant.  Now, on my soul, he loves me; truly loves me:
He never flattered me in any vice,
But awes me with his virtue: even this minute
Methinks, he has a right of chiding me.
Lead to the temple: I’ll avoid his presence;
It checks too strong upon me.  [Exeunt the rest.  [As ANTONY is going, VENTIDIUSpulls him by the robe.

  Vent.  Emperor!

  Ant.  ’Tis the old argument; I pr’ythee, spare me.  [Looking back.

  Vent.  But this one hearing, emperor.
  Ant.  Let go
My robe; or, by my father Hercules—

  Vent.  By Hercules’ father, that’s yet greater,
I bring you somewhat you would wish to know.

  Ant.  Thou see’st we are observed; attend me here,
And I’ll return.  [Exit.

  Vent.  I am waning in his favour, yet I love him;
I love this man, who runs to meet his ruin;
And sure the gods, like me, are fond of him:
His virtues lie so mingled with his crimes,
As would confound their choice to punish one,
And not reward the other.
 
Enter ANTONY

  Ant.  We can conquer,
You see, without your aid.
We have dislodged their troops;
They look on us at distance, and, like curs
Scaped from the lion’s paws, they bay far off,
And lick their wounds, and faintly threaten war.
Five thousand Romans, with their faces upward,
Lie breathless on the plain.

  Vent.  ’Tis well; and he,
Who lost them, could have spared ten thousand more.
Yet if, by this advantage, you could gain
An easier peace, while Cæsar doubts the chance
Of arms—

  Ant.  Oh, think not on’t, Ventidius!
The boy pursues my ruin, he’ll no peace;
His malice is considerable in advantage.
Oh, he’s the coolest murderer! so staunch,
He kills, and keeps his temper.

  Vent.  Have you no friend
In all his army, who has power to move him?
Mæcenas, or Agrippa, might do much

  Ant.  They’re both too deep in Cæsar’s interests.
We’ll work it out by dint of sword, or perish.

  Vent.  Fain I would find some other.

  Ant.  Thank thy love.
Some four or five such victories as this
Will save thy further pains.

  Vent.  Expect no more; Cæsar is on his guard:
I know, sir, you have conquered against odds;
But still you draw supplies from one poor town,
And of Egyptians: he has all the world,
And, at his beck, nations come pouring in,
To fill the gaps you make. Pray, think again.

  Ant.  Why dost thou drive me from myself, to search
For foreign aids?—to hunt my memory,
And range all o’er a waste and barren place,
To find a friend? The wretched have no friends.
Yet I had one, the bravest youth of Rome,
Whom Cæsar loves beyond the love of women:
He could resolve his mind, as fire does wax,
From that hard rugged image melt him down,
And mould him in what softer form he pleased.

  Vent.  Him would I see; that man, of all the world;
Just such a one we want.

  Ant.  He love me too;
I was his soul; he lived not but in me:
We were so closed within each other’s breasts,
The rivets were not found, that joined us first.
That does not reach us yet: we were so mixt,
As meeting streams, both to ourselves were lost;
We were one mass; we could not give or take,
But from the same; for he was I, I he.

  Vent.  He moves as I would wish him.  [Aside.

  Ant.  After this,
I need not tell his name;—’twas Dolabella.

  Vent.  He’s now in Cæsar’s camp.

  Ant.  No matter where,
Since he’s no longer mine. He took unkindly,
That I forbade him Cleopatra’s sight,
Because I feared he loved her: he confessed,
He had a warmth, which, for my sake, he stifled;
For ’twere impossible that two, so one,
Should not have loved the same. When he departed,
He took no leave; and that confirmed my thoughts.

  Vent.  It argues, that he loved you more than her,
Else he had stayed; but he perceived you jealous,
And would not grieve his friend: I know he loves you.

  Ant.  I should have seen him, then, ere now.

  Vent.  Perhaps
He has thus long been labouring for your peace.

  Ant.  Would he were here!

  Vent.  Would you believe he loved you?
I read your answer in your eyes, you would.
Not to conceal it longer, he has sent
A messenger from Cæsar’s camp, with letters.

  Ant.  Let him appear

  Vent.  I’ll bring him instantly.  [Exit VENTIDIUS, and re-enters immediately withDOLABELLA.

  Ant.  ’Tis he himself! himself, by holy friendship!  [Runs to embrace him.
Art thou returned at last, my better half?
Come, give me all myself!
Let me not live,
If the young bridegroom, longing for his night,
Was ever half so fond.

  Dola.  I must be silent, for my soul is busy
About a nobler work; she’s new come home,
Like a long-absent man, and wanders o’er
Each room, a stranger to her own, to look
If all be safe.

  Ant.  Thou hast what’s left of me;
For I am now so sunk from what I was,
Thou find’st me at my lowest water-mark.
The rivers that ran in, and raised my fortunes,
Are all dried up, or take another course:
What I have left is from my native spring;
I’ve still a heart that swells, in scorn of fate,
And lifts me to my banks.

  Dola.  Still you are lord of all the world to me.

  Ant.  Why, then I yet am so; for thou art all.
If I had any joy when thou wert absent,
I grudged it to myself; methought I robbed
Thee of thy part. But, O my Dolabella!
Thou has beheld me other than I am.
Hast thou not seen my morning chambers filled
With sceptred slaves, who waited to salute me?
With eastern monarchs, who forgot the sun,
To worship my uprising?—menial kings
Ran coursing up and down my palace-yard,
Stood silent in my presence, watched my eyes,
And, at my least command, all started out,
Like racers to the goal.

  Dola.  Slaves to your fortune.

  Ant.  Fortune is Cæsar’s now; and what am I?

  Vent.  What you have made yourself; I will not flatter.

  Ant.  Is this friendly done?

  Dola.  Yes; when his end is so, I must join with him;
Indeed I must, and yet you must not chide;
Why am I else your friend?

  Ant.  Take heed, young man,
How thou upbraid’st my love: The queen has eyes,
And thou too hast a soul. Canst thou remember,
When, swelled with hatred, thou beheld’st her first,
As accessary to thy brother’s death?

  Dola.  Spare my remembrance; ’twas a guilty day,
And still the blush hangs here.

  Ant.  To clear herself,
For sending him no aid, she came from Egypt.
Her galley down the silver Cydnus rowed,
The tackling silk, the streamers waved with gold;
The gentle winds were lodged in purple sails:
Her nymphs, like Nereids, round her couch were placed;
Where she, another sea-born Venus, lay.

  Dola.  No more; I would not hear it.

  Ant.  Oh, you must!
She lay, and leant her cheek upon her hand,
And cast a look so languishingly sweet,
As if, secure of all beholder’s hearts,
Neglecting, she could take them: boys, like Cupids,
Stood fanning, with their painted wings, the winds,
That played about her face. But if she smiled
A darting glory seemed to blazed abroad,
That men’s desiring eyes were never wearied,
But hung upon the object: To soft flutes
The silver oars kept time; and while they played,
The hearing gave new pleasure to the sight;
And both to thought. ’Twas heaven, or somewhat more;
For she so charmed all hearts, that gazing crowds
Stood panting on the shore, and wanted breath
To give their welcome voice.
Then, Dolabella, where was then they soul?
Was not thy fury quite disarmed with wonder?
Didst thou not shrink behind me from those eyes
And whisper in my ear—Oh, tell her not
That I accused her with my brother’s death?

  Dola.  And should my weakness be a plea for yours?
Mine was an age when love might be excused,
When kindly warmth, and when my springing youth
Made it a debt to nature. Yours—

  Vent.  Speak boldly.
Yours, he would say, in your declining age,
When no more heat was left but what you forced,
When all the sap was needful for the trunk,
When it went down, then you constrained the course,
And robbed from nature, to supply desire;
In you (I would not use so harsh a word)
’Tis but plain dotage.

  Ant.  Ha!

  Dola.  ’Twas urged too home.—
But yet the loss was private, that I made;
’Twas but myself I lost: I lost no legions;
I had no world to lose, no people’s love.

  Ant.  This from a friend?

  Dola.  Yes, Antony, a true one;
A friend so tender, that each word I speak
Stabs my own heart, before it reach your ear.
Oh, judge me not less kind, because I chide!
To Cæsar I excuse you.

  Ant.  O ye gods!
Have I then lived to be excused to Cæsar?

  Dola.  As to your equal.

  Ant.  Well, he’s but my equal:
While I wear this he never shall be more.

  Dola.  I bring conditions from him.

  Ant.  Are they noble?
Methinks thou shouldst not bring them else; yet he
Is full of deep dissembling; knows no honour
Divided from his interest. Fate mistook him;
For nature meant him from an usurer:
He’s fit indeed to buy, not conquer kingdoms.

  Vent.  Then, granting this,
What power was theirs, who wrought so hard a temper
To honourable terms?

  Ant.  I was my Dolabella, or some god.

  Dola.  Nor I, nor yet Mæcenas, nor Agrippa:
They were your enemies; and I, a friend,
Too weak alone; yet ’twas a Roman’s deed.

  Ant.  ’Twas like a Roman done: show me that man,
Who has preserved my life, my love, my honour;
Let me but see his face.

  Vent.  That task is mine,
And, Heaven, thou know’st how pleasing.  [Exit VENT.

  Dola.  You’ll remember
To whom you stand obliged?

  Ant.  When I forget it
Be thou unkind, and that’s my greatest curse.
My queen shall thank him too,

  Dola.  I fear she will not.

  Ant.  But she shall do it: The queen, my Dolabella!
Hast thou not still some grudgings of thy fever?

  Dola.  I would not see her lost.

  Ant.  When I forsake her,
Leave me my better stars! for she has truth
Beyond her beauty. Cæsar tempted her,
At no less price than kingdoms, to betray me;
But she resisted all: and yet thou chidest me
For loving her too well. Could I do so?

  Dola.  Yes; there’s my reason.
 
Re-enter VENTIDIUS, with OCTAVIA, leading ANTONY’S two little Daughters

  Ant.  Where?—Octavia there!  [Starting back.

  Vent.  What, is she poison to you?—a disease?
Look on her, view her well, and those she brings:
Are they all strangers to your eyes? has nature
No secret call, no whisper they are yours?

  Dola.  For shame, my lord, if not for love, receive them
With kinder yes. If you confess a man,
Meet them, embrace them, bid them welcome to you.
Your arms should open, even without your knowledge,
To clasp them in; your feet should turn to wings,
To bear you to them; and your eyes dart out
And aim a kiss, ere you could reach the lips.

  Ant.  I stood amazed, to think how they came hither.

  Vent.  I sent for them; I brought them in unknown
To Cleopatra’s guards.

  Dola.  Yet, are you cold?

  Octav.  Thus long I have attended for my welcome;
Which, as a stranger, sure I might expect.
Who am I?

  Ant.  Cæsar’s sister.

  Octav.  That’s unkind.
Had I been nothing more than Cæsar’s sister,
Know, I had still remained in Cæsar’s camp:
But your Octavia, your much injured wife,
Though banished from your bed, driven from your house,
In spite of Cæsar’s sister, still is yours.
’Tis true, I have a heart disdains your coldness,
And prompts me not to seek what you should offer;
But a wife’s virtue still surmounts that pride.
I come to claim you as my own; to show
My duty first; to ask, nay beg, your kindness:
Your hand, my lord; ’tis mine, and I will have it.  [Taking his hand.

  Vent.  Do, take it; thou deserv’st it.

  Dola.  On my soul,
And so she does: she’s neither too submissive,
Nor yet too haughty; but so just a mean
Shows, as it ought, a wife and Roman too.

  Ant.  I fear, Octavia, you have begged my life.

  Octav.  Begged it, my lord?

  Ant.  Yes, begged it, my ambassadress;
Poorly and basely begged it of your brother.

  Octav.  Poorly and basely I could never beg:
Nor could my brother grant.

  Ant.  Shall I, who, to my kneeling slave, could say,
Rise up, and be a king; shall I fall down
And cry,—Forgive me, Cæsar! Shall I set
A man, my equal, in the place of Jove,
As he could give me being? No; that word,
Forgive, would choke me up,
And die upon my tongue.

  Dola.  You shall not need it.

  Ant.  I will not need it. Come, you’ve all betrayed me,—
My friend too!—to receive some vile conditions.
My wife has bought me, with her prayers and tears;
And now I must become her branded slave.
In every peevish mood, she will upbraid
The life she gave: if I but look awry,
She cries—I’ll tell my brother.

  Octav.  My hard fortune
Subjects me still to your unkind mistakes.
But the conditions I have brought are such,
Your need not blush to take: I love your honour,
Because ’tis mine; it never shall be said,
Octavia’s husband was her brother’s slave.
Sir, you are free; free, even from her you loathe;
For, though my brother bargains for your love,
Makes me the price and cement of your peace,
I have a soul like yours; I cannot take
Your love as alms, nor beg what I deserve.
I’ll tell my brother we are reconciled;
He shall draw back his troops, and you shall march
To rule the East: I may be adopt at Athens;
No matter where. I never will complain,
But only keep the barren name of wife,
And rid you of the trouble.
 
Apart.

  Vent.  Was ever such a strife of sullen honour!
Both scorn to be obliged.

  Dola.  Oh, she has touched him in the tenderest part;
See how he reddens with despite and shame,
To be outdone in generosity!

  Vent.  See how he winks! how he dries up a tear,
That fain would fall!

  Ant.  Octavia, I have heard you, and must praise
The greatness of your soul;
But cannot yield to what you have proposed:
For I can ne’er be conquered but by love;
And you do all for duty. You would free me,
And would be dropt at Athens; was’t not so?

  Octav.  It was, my lord.

  Ant.  Then I must be obliged
To one who loves me not; who, to herself,
May call me thankless and ungrateful man:—
I’ll not endure it; no.

  Vent.  I am glad it pinches there.  [Aside.

  Octav.  Would you triumph o’er poor Octavia’s virtue?
That pride was all I had to bear me up;
That you might think you owed me for your life,
And owed it to my duty, not my love.
I have been injured, and my haughty soul
Could brook but ill the man who slights my bed.

  Ant.  Therefore you love me not.

  Octav.  Therefore, my lord,
I should not love you.

  Ant.  Therefore you would leave me?

  Octav.  And therefore I should leave you—if I could.

  Dola.  Her soul’s too great, after such injuries,
To say she loves; and yet she lets you see it.
Her modesty and silence plead her cause.

  Ant.  O Dolabella, which way shall I turn?
I find a secret yielding in my soul;
But Cleopatra, who would die with me,
Must she be left? Pity pleads for Octavia;
But does it not plead more for Cleopatra?

  Vent.  Justice and pity both plead for Octavia;
For Cleopatra, neither.
One would be ruined with you; but she first
Had ruined you: The other, you have ruined,
And yet she would preserve you.
In everything their merits are unequal.

  Ant.  O my distracted soul!

  Octav.  Sweet Heaven compose it!—
Come, come, my lord, if I can pardon you,
Methinks you should accept it. Look on these;
Are they not yours? or stand they thus neglected,
As they are mine? Go to him, children, go;
Kneel to him, take him by the hand, speak to him;
For you may speak, and he may own you too,
Without a blush; and so he cannot all
His children: go, I say, and pull him to me,
And pull him to yourselves, from that bad woman.
You, Agrippina, hang upon his arms;
And you, Antonia, clasp about his waist:
If he will shake you off, if he will dash you
Against the pavement, you must bear it, children;
For you are mine, and I was born to suffer.  [Here the Children go to him, etc.

  Vent.  Was ever sight so moving?—Emperor!

  Dola.  Friend!

  Octav.  Husband!
Both Child. Father!

  Ant.  I am vanquished: take me,
Octavia; take me, children: share me all.  [Embracing them.
I’ve been a thriftless debtor to your loves,
And run out much, in riot, from your stock;
But all shall be amended.

  Octav.  O blest hour!

  Dola.  O happy change!

  Vent.  My joy stops at my tongue;
But it has found two channels here for one,
And bubbles out above.

  Ant.  [to OCTAV.]. This is thy triumph; lead me where thou wilt;
Even to thy brother’s camp.
  Octav.  All there are yours.
 
Enter ALEXAS hastily

  Alex.  The queen, my mistress, sir, and yours—

  Ant.  ’Tis past.—
Octavia, you shall stay this night: To-morrow,
Cæsar and we are one.  [Exit leading OCTAVIA; DOLABELLA and the Children follow.

  Vent.  There’s news for you; run, my officious eunuch,
Be sure to be the first; haste forward:
Haste, my dear eunuch, haste.  [Exit.

  Alex.  This downright fighting fool, this thick-skulled hero,
This blunt, unthinking instrument of death,
With plain dull virtue has outgone my wit.
Pleasure forsook my earliest infancy;
The luxury of others robbed my cradle,
And ravished thence the promise of a man.
Cast out from nature, disinherited
Of what her meanest children claim by kind,
Yet greatness kept me from contempt: that’s gone.
Had Cleopatra followed my advice,
Then he had been betrayed who now forsakes.
She dies for love; but she has known its joys:
Gods, is this just, that I, who know no joys,
Must die, because she loves?
 
Enter CLEOPATRA, CHARMION, IRAS, and Train

O madam, I have seen what blasts my eyes!
Octavia’s here.

  Cleo.  Peace with that raven’s note.
I know it too; and now am in
The pangs of death.

  Alex.  You are no more a queen;
Egypt is lost.

  Cleo.  What tell’st thou me of Egypt?
My life, my soul is lost! Octavia has him!—
O fatal name to Cleopatra’s love!
My kisses, my embraces now are hers;
While I—But thou hast seen my rival; speak,
Does she deserve this blessing? Is she fair?
Bright as a goddess? and is all perfection
Confined to her? It is. Poor I was made
Of that coarse matter, which, when she was finished,
The gods threw by for rubbish.

  Alex.  She is indeed a very miracle.

  Cleo.  Death to my hopes, a miracle!

  Alex.  A miracle;  [Bowing.
I mean of goodness; for in beauty, madam,
You make all wonders cease.

  Cleo.  I was too rash:
Take this in part of recompense. But, oh!  [Giving a ring.
I fear thou flatterest me.

  Char.  She comes! she’s here!

  Iras.  Fly, madam, Cæsar’s sister!

  Cleo.  Were she the sister of the thunderer Jove,
And bore her brother’s lightning in her eyes,
Thus would I face my rival.  [Meets OCTAVIA with VENTIDIUS. OCTAVIA bears up to her. Their Trains come up on either side.

  Octav.  I need not ask if you are Cleopatra;
Your haughty carriage—

  Cleo.  Shows I am a queen:
Nor need I ask you, who you are.

  Octav.  A Roman:
A name, that makes and can unmake a queen.

  Cleo.  Your lord, the man who serves me, is a Roman.

  Octav.  He was a Roman, till he lost that name,
To be a slave in Egypt; but I come
To free him thence.

  Cleo.  Peace, peace, my lover’s Juno.
When he grew weary of that household clog,
He chose my easier bonds.

  Octav.  I wonder not
Your bonds are easy: you have long been practised
In that lascivious art: He’s not the first
For whom you spread your snares: Let Cæsar witness.

  Cleo.  I loved not Cæsar; ’twas but gratitude
I paid his love: The worst your malice can,
Is but to say the greatest of mankind
Has been my slave. The next, but far above him
In my esteem, is he whom law calls yours,
But whom his love made mine.

  Octav.  I would view nearer  [Coming up close to her.
That face, which has so long usurped my right,
To find the inevitable charms, that catch
Mankind so sure, that ruined my dear lord.

  Cleo.  Oh, you do well to search; for had you known
But half these charms, you had not lost his heart.

  Octav.  Far be their knowledge from a Roman lady,
Far from a modest wife! Shame of our sex,
Dost thou not blush to own those black endearments,
That make sin pleasing?

  Cleo.  You may blush, who want them.
If bounteous nature, if indulgent Heaven
Have given me charms to please the bravest man,
Should I not thank them? Should I be ashamed,
And not be proud? I am, that he has loved me;
And, when I love not him, Heaven change this face
For one like that.

  Octav.  Thou lov’st him not so well.

  Cleo.  I love him better, and deserve him more.

  Octav.  You do not; cannot: You have been his ruin.
Who made him cheap at Rome, but Cleopatra?
Who made him scorned abroad, but Cleopatra?
At Actium, who betrayed him? Cleopatra.
Who made his children orphans, and poor me
A wretched widow? only Cleopatra.

  Cleo.  Yet she, who loves him best, is Cleopatra.
If you have suffered, I have suffered more.
You bear the specious title of a wife
To gild your cause, and draw the pitying world
To favour it: the world condemns poor me.
For I have lost my honour, lost my fame,
And stained the glory of my royal house,
And all to bear the branded name of mistress.
There wants but life, and that too I would lose
For him I love.

  Octav.  Be’t so, then; take thy wish.  [Exit with her Train.

  Cleo.  And ’tis my wish,
Now he is lost for whom alone I lived.
My sight grows dim, and every object dances,
And swims before me, in the maze of death.
My spirits, while they were opposed, kept up;
They could not sink beneath a rival’s scorn!
But now she’s gone, they faint.

  Alex.  Mine have had leisure
To recollect their strength, and furnish counsel,
To ruin her, who else must ruin you.

  Cleo.  Vain promiser!
Lead me, my Charmion; nay, your hand too, Iras.
My grief has weight enough to sink you both.
Conduct me to some solitary chamber,
And draw the curtains round;
Then leave me to myself, to take alone
My fill of grief:

  There I till death will his unkindness weep;

  As harmless infants moan themselves asleep.  [Exeunt.





 

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