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does Syphax pretend to help Sempronius to young Juba's dress? Does he serve him in a double capacity, as a general and master of his wardrobe ? But why Juba's guards? For the devil of any guards has Juba appeared with yet. Well ! though this is a mighty politic invention, yet, methinks, they might have done without it; for, since the advice that Syphax gave to Sempronius was,
To hurry her away by manly force ; in my opinion, the shortest and likeliest way of coming at the lady was by demolishing, instead of putting on an impertinent disguise to circumvent two or three slaves. But Sempronius, it seems,
is of another opinion. He extols to the skies the invention of old Syphax :
Semp. Heavens! what a thought was there!
“Now I appeal to the reader if I have not been as good as my word. Did I not tell him, that I would lay before him a very wise scene?
“But now let us lay before the reader that part of the scenery of the fourth Act which may shew the absurdities which the Author has run into through the indiscreet observance of the unity of place. I do not remember that Aristotle has said any thing expressly concerning the unity of place. It is true, implicitly he has said enough in the rules which he has laid down for the chorus, For, by making the chorus an essential part of tragedy, and by bringing it on the stage immediately after the opening of the scene, and retaining it till the very catastrophe, he has so determined and fixed the place of action, that it was impossible for an author on the Grecian stage to break through that unity. I am of opinion, that if a modern tragic poet can preserve the unity of place without destroying the probability of the incidents, it is al. ways best for him to do it; because, by the preserv. ing of that unity, as we have taken notice above,
he adds grace, and clearness, and comeliness, to the representation. But since there are no express rules about it, and we are under no compulsion to keep it, since we have no chorus as the Grecian poet had, if it cannot be preserved without rendering the greater part of the incidents unreasonable and absurd, and perhaps sometimes monstrous, it is certainly better to break it.
“Now comes bully Sempronius, comically ac. coutred and equipped with his Numidian dress and his Numidian guards. Let the reader attend to him with all his ears; for the words of the wise are precious : Semp. The deer is lodg'd, I've track'd her to
“Now I would fain know why this deer is said to be lodged, since we have heard not one word, since the play began, of her being at all out of harbour; and if we consider the discourse with which she and Lucia begin the Act, we have rea. son to believe that they had hardly been talking of
matters in the street. However, to pleasure Sempronius, let us suppose, for once, that the deer is lodged. The deer is lodg’d, I've track'd her to her covert.
“If he had seen her in the open field, what occasion had he to track her, when he had so many Numidian dogs at his heels, which, with one halloo, he might have set upon her haunches? If he did not see her in the open field, how could he possibly track her? If he had seen her in the street, why did he not set upon her in the street, since through the street she must be carried at last? Now here, instead of having his thoughts upon his business and upon the present danger; instead of meditating and contriving how he shall pass with his mistress through the southern gate, (where her brother Marcus is upon the guard, and
where he would certainly prove an impediment to him,) which is the Roman word for the baggage; instead of doing this, Sempronius is entertaining himself with whimsies :
Semp. How will the young Numidian rave to
His mistress lost! If aught could glad my soul, Beyond th' enjoyment of so bright a prize, 'Twould be to torture that young, gay barbarian. But, hark! what noise ? Death to my hopes ! 'tis he, 'Tis Juba's self! There is but one way left! He must be murder'd, and a passage cut Through those his guards.
“Pray, what are those his guards?' I thought, at present, that Juba's guards had been Sempronius's tools, and had been dangling after his heels.
“But now let us sum up all these absurdities together. Sempronius goes at noon-day, in Juba's clothes and with Juba's guards, to Cato's palace, in order to pass for Juba, in a place where they were both so very well known ; he meets Juba there, and resolves to murder him with his own guards. Upon the guards appearing a little bashful, he threatens them:
Hah! Dastards, do you tremble! Or act like men; or, by yon azure heav'na “ But the guards, still remaining restive, Sempronius himself attacks Juba, while each of the guards is representing Mr. Spectator's sign of the Gaper, awed, it seems, and terrified by Semproni. us's threats. Juba kills Sempronius, and takes his own army prisoners, and carries them in triumph away to Cato. Now I would fain know if any part of Mr. Bayes's tragedy is so full of absurdity as this?
“Upon hearing the clash of swords, Lucia and Marcia come in. The question is, why no men come in upon hearing the noise of swords in the governor's hall? Where was the governor himself?
Where were his guards? Where were his servants? Such an attempt as this, so near the person of a governor of a place of war, was enough to alarm the whole garrison; and yet, for almost half an hour after Sempronius was killed, we find none of those appear who were the likeliest in the world to be alarmed; and the noise of swords is made to draw only two poor women thither, who were most certain to run away from it. Upon Lucia and Mar. cia's coming in, Lucia appears in all the symptoms of an hysterical gentlewoman:
Luc. Sure 'twas the clash of swords! my trou.
bled heart Is so cast down, and sunk amidst its sorrows, It throbs with fear, and aches at every sound!
And immediately her old whimsy returns upon her:
O Marcia, should thy brothers, for my
sake" I die away with horror at the thought.
She fancies that there can be no cutting of throats, but it must be for her. If this is tragical, I would fain know what is comical. Well! upon this they spy the body of Sempronius; and Marcia, deluded by the habit, it seems, takes him for Juba; for, says she,
The face is muffled up within the garment.
“Now, how a man could fight, and fall with his face muffled up in his garment, is, I think, a little hard to conceive! Besides, Juba, before he killed him, knew him to be Sempronius. It was not by his garment that he knew this; it was by his face then : his face therefore was not muffled. Upon seeing this man with his muffled face, Marcia falls a-raving; and, owning her passion for the supposed defunct, begins to make his funeral oration,
Upon which Juba enters listening, I suppose on tip-toe; for I cannot imagine how any one can enter listening in any other posture. I would fain know how it comes to pass, that during all this time he had sent nobody, no, not so much as a candlesnuffer, to take away the dead body of Sempronius, Well! but let us regard him listening. Having left his apprehension behind him, he, at first, applies what Marcia says to Sempronius. But finding at last, with much ado, that he himself is the happy man, he quits his eve-dropping, and discovers him. self just time enough to prevent his being cuckold. ed by a dead man, of whom the moment before he had appeared so jealous; and greedily intercepts the bliss which was fondly designed for one who could not be the better for it. But here I must ask a question: how comes Juba to listen here, who had not listened before throughout the play? Or how comes he to be the only person of this tragedy who listens, when love and treason were so often talked in so public a place as a hall? I am afraid the Author was driven upon all these absurdities only to introduce this miserable mistake of Marcia, which, after all, is much below the dignity of tragedy, as any thing is which is the effect or result of trick.
“But let us come to the scenery of the fifth Act. Cato appears first upon the scene, sitting in a thoughtful posture: in his hand Plato's treatise on the Immortality of the Soul, a drawn sword on the table by him. Now let us consider the place in which this sight is presented to us. The place, forsooth, is a long hall. Let us suppose, that any one should place himself in this posture, in the midst of one of our halls in London; that he should appear solus in a sullen posture, a drawn sword on the table by him; in his hand Plato's treatise on the Immortality of the Soul, translated lately by Bernard Lintot: I desire the reader to consider, whether such a person as this would pass, with them who beheld him, for a great pa.