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ply. Cæsar makes a grand spectacle for all Rome; bills are given out for a play of Laberius, and the principal part is announced to be performed by the author himself: the theatre is thronged with spectators; all Rome is present, and Decimus Laberius presents himself on the stage, and addresses the audience in the following prologue:
PROLOGUE BY DECIMUS LABERIUS.
'O strong Necessity! of whose swift course
"O Fortune! fickle source of good and ill,
The look, that guides its passion to the heart?
The original is so superiorly beautiful, that to
prevent a bathos I shall insert it after the translation.
Necessitas, cujus cursus transversi impetum
Domum revertas mimus: Nimirum hoc die
Fortuna, immoderata in bono æque atque in malo,
The play which this pathetic prologue was attached to was a comedy, in which Laberius took the character of a slave, and in the course of the plot (as usual) was beaten by his master: in this condition, having marked his habit with counterfeited stripes, he runs upon the stage, and cries out amain-Porro, Quirites! libertatem perdimus- In good faith, Countrymen, there is an end of freedom.' The indignant spectators sent up a shout; it was in the language of our present playhouse bills, a burst of applause; a
most violent burst of applause from a most crowded and brilliant house, overflowing in all parts.' Laberius, not yet content with this atonement to the manes of his knighthood, subjoins the following pointed allusion: Necesse est multos timeat, quem multi timent- The man, whom many fear, must needs fear many.' All eyes were now turned upon Cæsar, and the degraded Laberius enjoyed a full
We may naturally suppose this conduct lost him the favour of Cæsar, who immediately took up Publius Syrus, a Syrian slave, who had been manumitted for his ingenious talents, and was acting in the country theatres with much applause: Cæsar fetched him out of his obscurity, as we bring up an actress from Bath or York, and pitted him against Laberius. It was the triumph of youth and vigour over age and decay, and Cæsar, with malicious civility, said to Laberius, Favente tibi me victus es, Laberi, a Syro-You are surpassed by Syrus in spite of my support.' As Laberius was going out of the theatre, he was met by Syrus, who was inconsiderate enough to let an expression escape him, which was very disrespectful to his veteran competitor Laberius felt the unbecoming insult, and, turning to Syrus, gave him this extemporary an
To stand the first is not the lot of all;
'Tis now your turn to mount, and mine to fall:
Non possunt primi esse omnes omni in tempore;
I need not remind the learned reader in what credit the sayings of this Publius Syrus have been justly held by all the literati from Seneca to Scaliger, who turned them into Greek; and it is for the honour of the fraternity of the stage, that both he and Sophron, whose moral sentences were found under Plato's pillow when he died, were actors by profession.
I shall now only add that my Newspaper contains a very interesting description of two young actors, Hylas and Pylades, who became great favourites with Augustus, when he was emperor, and made their first appearance at the time this journal was written. If the Reader shall find any allusion to two very promising young performers, now living, whose initials correspond with the above, I can promise him that our contemporaries will not suffer by the comparison. I may venture to say in the words of Doctor Young
The Roman wou'd not blush at the mistake.
THERE is no period of ancient history would afford a more useful study to a young prince, than an accurate delineation of the whole life of Tiberius: This ought to be done with great care and ability, for it is a character extremely difficult to develope, and one that by a continued chain of incidents furnishes a lesson in every link of its connexion highly interesting to all pupils, but most to those who are on the road to empire. To trace the conduct of
Tiberius from his first appearance in history to his death, is as if we should begin with the last acts of Augustus, and read his story backwards to its commencement in the civil wars; each narration would then begin with honour, and conclude with infamy. If Augustus had never attained to empire, he would have had a most disgraceful page in history; on the other hand, had Tiberius died with Germanicus, he would have merited a very glorious one: It should seem therefore that he was by nature a better man than his predecessor. The cautious timid character of Augustus kept him under constant awe of those he governed, and he was diligent to secure to himself the opinions of mankind; but there are rents and fissures enough in the veil, which adulation has thrown over him, through which to spy out the impurities and meannesses of his natural disposition. Tiberius seems on his part also to have had a jealous holding and respect towards Germanicus, which had an influence over the early part of his reign; but it was a self-restraint, founded in emulation, not in fear. It is hinted that Augustus had in mind to restore the commonwealth, and give back her liberties to Rome; and these may very possibly have been his meditations; but they never arose in his mind till he found his life in the last stage of decay, when, having no heir of his own body, he would willingly have had the empire cease with him, and left posterity to draw the conclusion, that no successor could be found fit to take it after him; this I can readily believe he would have done in his last moments if he could, and even before his last moments if he dared; but the shock, which such a revolution might possibly have occasioned, alarmed his fears, and he was too tenacious of power to quit it upon any other motives than those of absolute conviction that he could hold it no longer. This is so much