網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

In what suspense, what agony of fear,
I wait thy words; for well, too well, I see
Thy lips are fraught with fatal auguries

To some one of my race. 5 ALCESTIS.

Death hath his rights, Of which not e'en the great Supernal Powers May hope to rob him. By his ruthless hand, Already seized, the noble victim lay,

The heir of empire, in his glowing prime
10 And noon-day struck; — Admetus, the revered,

The blessed, the loved, by all who owned his sway,
By his illustrious parents, by the realms
Surrounding his, — and oh! what need to add,

How much by his Alcestis ? Such was he, 15 Already in the unsparing grasp of death,

Withering, a certain prey. Apollo thence
Hath snatched him, and another in his stead,
Although not an equal, — (who can equal him ?) ---

Must fall a voluntary sacrifice. 20 Another of his lineage, or to him

By closest bonds united, must descend
To the dark realm of Orcus in his place,
Who thus alone is saved.
PHERES.

What do I hear?
25 Woe to us, woe! — what victim ? — who shall be
Accepted in his stead ?
ALCESTIS.

The dread exchange
E'en now, O father! hath been made ; the prey

Is ready, nor is wholly worthless him
30 For whom 't is freely offered. Nor wilt thou,

O mighty goddess of the icfernal shades !
Whose image sanctifies this threshold floor,
Disdain the victim.

Pueres. All prepared the prey! 35 And to our blood allied ! O heaven ! — and yet

* Orcus, the god of the lower world.

Thou bad'st me weep no more !
ALCESTIS.

Yes, thus I said,
And thus again I say, — thou shalt not weep

Thy son's, nor I deplore my husband's doom. 5 Let him be saved, and other sounds of woe,

Less deep, less mournful far, shall here be heard,
Than those his death had caused. With some few tears,
But brief, and mingled with a gleam of joy,

E’en while the involuntary tribute lasts, 10 The victim shall be honored, who resigned

Life for Admetus. Wouldst thou know the prey, -
The vowed, the willing, the devoted one,
Offered and hallowed to the infernal gods?

Father! 't is I. 15 PHERES. What hast thou done? O heaven!

What hast thou done? And think'st thou he is saved
By such a compact ? Think'st thou he can live
Berest of thee? Of thee, his light of life,

His very soul!— Of thee, beloved far more
20 Than his loved parents, — than l's children more,

More than himself ! -Oh! no, it shall not be !

Thoni perish, 0 Alcestis ! in the flower
Of thy young beauty ; — perish, and destroy

Not him, not him alone, but us, but all, 25 Who as a child adore thee! Desolate

Would be the throne, the kingdom, reft of thee.
And think'st thou not of those, whose tender years
Demand thy care ? — thy children! think of them!

O thou, the source of each domestic joy, — 30 Thou in whose life alone Admetus lives, —

His glory, his delight, — thou shalt not die,
While I can die for thee! — Me, me alone,
The oracle demands, — a withered stem,

Whose task, whose duty is, for him to die. 35 My race is run ; — the fulness of my years,

The faded hopes of age, and all the love

PHERES.

Which hath its dwelling in a father's heart,
And the fond pity, half with wonder blent,
Inspired by thee, whose youth with heavenly gifts

So richly is endowed, — all, all unite b To grave in adamant the just decree,

That I must die. But thou — 1 bid thee live!
Pheres commands thee, O Alcestis ! live!
Ne'er, ne'er shall woman's youthful love surpass

An aged sire's devotedness. 10 ALCESTIS.

I know
Thy lofty soul, thy fond paternal love;
Pheres, I know them well, and not in vain
Strove to anticipate their high resolves.

But if in silence I have heard thy words,
15 Now calmly list to mine, and thou shalt own
They may not be withstood.

What canst thou say Which I should hear ? I go, resolved to save

Him who, with thee, would perish:— to the shrine 20 E'en now I fly.

ALCESTIS. Stay, stay thee! 't is too late.
Already hath consenting Proserpine,.
From the remote abysses of her realms,

Heard and accepted the terrific vow
25 Which binds me, 'with indissoluble ties,

To death. And I am firm, and well I know
None can deprive me of the awful right
That vow hath won.

Yes! thou mayst weep my fate, 30 Mourn for me, father! but thou canst not blame

My lofty purpose. Ch! the more endeared
My life by every tie, the more I feel
Death's bitterness, the more my sacrifice

Is worthy of Admetus. I descend.
35 To the dim, shadowy regions of the dead,
A guest more honored.

In thy presence here
Again I utter the tremendous vow,
Now more than half fulfilled. I feel, I know

Its dread effects. Through all my burning veins
Ő The insatiate fever revels. Doubt is o'er.

The Monarch of the Dead hath heard ; - he calls,
He summons me away, and thou art saved,
O my Admetus!

CXXXVI. - CANNING AND BROUGHAM.

ANONYMOUS.

(This passage of words between Canning and Brougham took place in April, 18:23. Canning had recently come into the cabinet, as secretary for foreign affairs, in consequence of the death (by his own hands) of the Marquis of Londonderry, more generally known as Lord Castlereagh. The charge brought against Canning was, that he had come into office without extorting any distinct pledges from his colleagues in favor of Catholic emancipation, to which he was well known to be friendly; and this formed the burden of Brougham's attack. Canniny's d fence was, that if that concession had been insisted upon, it would have been impossible to form an administration to carry on the government of the country; and that it was better to secure some desirable results, than to lose the whole by insisting upon having either the whole or none.

The tone of debate in the English house of commons is more guarded and decorous than that of our house of representatives; and Canning's language was an unusually vehement expression of feeling.]

Though they resembled each other in standing foremost and alone in their respective parties, they were in every other respect opposed as the zenith and nadir, or as light

and darkness. 5 This difference extended even to their personal appear

ance. Canning was airy, open, and prepossessing ; Brougham seemed stern, hard, lowering, and almost repulsive. The head of Canning had an air of extreme elegance: that

of Brougham was much the reverse ; but stili, in whatever 10 way it was viewed, it gave a sure indication of the terrible

power of the inhabitant within. Canning's features were handsome; his eye, though deeply ensconced under his eyebrows, was full of sparkle and gayety. The features of Brougham were harsh in the extreme: while his forehead shot up to a great elevation, his chin was long

and square; his mouth, nose, and eyes seemed huddler 5 together in the centre of his face — the eyes absolutely

lost amid folds and corrugations; and while he sat listening, they seemed to retire inward, or to be veiled by a filmy curtain, which not only concealed the appalling glare

which shot away from them when he was roused, but ren10 dered his mind and his purpose a sealed book to the keenest scrutiny of man.

Canning's passions appeared upon the open campaign of his face, drawn up in a ready array, and moved to and fro

at every turn of his oration, and every retort in that of his 15 antagonist: those of Brougham remained within, as in a

citadel which no artillery could batter and no mine blow up; and even when he was putting forth all the power of his eloquence, when every ear was tingling at what he said,

and while the immediate object of his invective was writh20 ing in helpless and indescribable agony, his visage retained

its cold and brassy hue, and he triumphed over the passions of other men by seeming to be wholly without passion himself. The whole form of Canning was rounded, and

smooth, and graceful; that of Brougham angular, long, 25 and awkward. When Canning rose to speak, he elevated

his countenance, and seemed to look round for the applause of those about him, as an object dear to his feelings; while Brougham stood coiled and concentrated, reckless of

all but the power that was within himself. From Canning 30 there was expected the glitter of wit and the flow of spirit

- something showy and elegant. Brougham stood up as a being whose powers and intentions were all a mystery whose aim and effect no living man could divine. You

bent forward to catch the first sentence of the one, and 35 felt human nature elevated in the specimen before you;

you crouched and shrank back from the other, and dreams

« 上一頁繼續 »