« ElőzőTovább »
One may conclude that both cases are instances of Byron's constant efforts to mitigate the horrors of war-especially those worst horrors of sensual savagery, perpetrated when the fighting is over, between combatants, ferocious through servitude on one side, and barbarism on the other, and retaliation on both.
The letter above referred to, addressed to Mr. Barff, is as follows. It has only the special interest of its being the last, or the last known, unless it be in the evidence which it gives of the poet's persevering attempts to master the forms of commercial success.
April 9, 1824.
DEAR SIR, -The above is a copy of a letter from Messrs. Ransom received this morning. I have also to acknowledge yours and one from Mr. Barry of Genoa (partner of Messrs. Webb and Co. of Genoa and Leg horn), who had forwarded the same to you for my address. I agree with you in opinion, and shall continue to draw directly on En gland as the safest (and perhaps least expensive method) instead of having dollars up from Genoa or Leghorn. This will be the preferable course so long as the exchange is fair in the Islands. Will you instruct me how to regulate myself about the firsts and seconds, etc., of Exchange, as indicated in the second paragraph of the letter copied, as I am not very accurate or intelligent in technical matters of business of this sort, and wish to be quite correct? Have you any further news of the Greek Loan? Is it really settled, and how? For my advices are not recent enough to treat of this fully; some say one thing and some another here. Bowring's letter to me is sanguine, but others are less decisive, though not discouraging to the Greeks. I hope that you have received various letters of mine, as you do not state having received any since the 30th, I mention this accordingly. Lega will state the various dates of the expedition of letters.
dering, and felt fever and rheumatic pains. On the next he transacted business, and rode out again, but "it was the last time he ever crossed the threshold alive." On the 15th of April he received several letters, but there is no mention of his writing any. Then came the flickering out of life's candle, amid bleeding, blistering, and delirium, and on the 19th the end.
The present Mr. Barff has preserved a portrait-album of Phil-hellenic celebrities in 1823-4, including one of Byron himself, probably as "Archestrategos," in a dragoon helmet and chin-strap, but with the invariable lay-down collar and open neck which his other portraits show.
It is a fair inference from the above facts that the Byron of 1824 was morally brightening and steadying out of the baleful-meteor form into what might have been a wholesome luminary. The last few months of his earthly career form a tolerably consistent whole; and in conof life lived with a purpose. An unextrast with its previous years show a tenor pected patience, an absence of irritability, a long-suffering concern for others, pains taken for objects which before he cared not for all these rise suddenly on the surface of a nature hitherto mercurial and egotistic. Full of self-willed false steps as that previous course had been, the most fatal error of all was probably his mar riage, not merely in the choice which he actually made, but in choosing at all a state for which at that time he was signally lacking in aptitudes; not to mention his then accumulating financial embarrassment, his own irritability under which made the matrimonial experiment one of terrible risk. Failing to make him, matrimony marred him; and the error found its Nemesis in the episodes of his successive The letter of credit [is] for £4 instead of liaisons, astonishing Europe and disgust£3,000 sterling (as mentioned in your lettering England. Then follows a change at of this morning, perhaps by mistake); but the number is of no material difference (as you are sufficiently aware) when I draw direct on my London correspondents.
Ever and truly yours,
On the very day on which the above was written, if Moore's record (vi., p. 200) is exact, the writer took the fatal ride from which he returned wet through in an open boat, was seized later with a shud
"I am uneasy at being here," wrote Byron to Colonel Stanhope, when in a position of some peril, not so much on my own account as on that of a Greek boy with me, for you know what his fate would be; and I would sooner cut him in pieces and myself too, than have him taken out by those barbarians."
once of scene, comrades, influences, em-
Turk and Greek alike, inconveniently nu-| Two thousand years old, they are as young
He finds business details necessary, and, as shown above in his last letter, does his best to master the technicalities of exchange. He is generous in great things, and industrious in small. It is as though his life's current had escaped from the rapids and cataracts which broke it into cross-purposes before, and flowed now with solemn union of volume under one motive, outside self. Just as that unification is realized, it dashes into the dark chasm and is lost. How much of promise, of repentance and reparation, was lost with it, can never be known, until the day when all secrets shall be open.
as yesterday. Though they have survived the searching test of time, they have been unseen of mortal eyes for countless centuries. Pliny, with perhaps a suspicion of recklessness, praised their elegance and charm (humanitatis et venustatis), and yet if you buy Dr. Rutherford's recension, with your own paper-knife you may sepa rate their virgin pages. The seven short dialogues, thus revealed to us, will keep the critics busy for years to come. The lexicon must extend shelter to their anаž eipnueva; their disorderly perfects will be placed upon trial before a jury of grammarians, while he whom no grammatical license can terrify will see in the "Mimes" of Herodas the revelation of a lost genre as well as a vivid and familiar image of ancient life. Even in the golden age of Greek literature the mime was practised and esteemed. The works of Sophron, the master of the form, have followed Menander and Sappho into the night of forgetfulness. Yet it is their glory to have won the admiration of Plato, whose last hours they soothed, and who is said to have died with a copy beneath his pillow. A few poor fragments and half-a-dozen titles are all that remain, and of Sophron no more may be said than that he wrote a kind of rhythmic prose or Whitmanian verse, and that he touched off the charac ters of his contemporaries and the habit of their lives in dramatic dialogues. But there is nothing new under the sun, and the recovery of Herodas proves beyond dispute that the long-lost mime is still handled in modern France, that it is indeed none other than the genre wherewith "Gyp" has for many years delighted all such as love high spirits and good litera. ture. The resemblance is more than superficial. In each case the dialogue is the chosen medium. Herodas's cherished theme is the passion and frivolity of women, and he treats it with a verve and freedom not unworthy the author of "Autour du Mariage." His is not the spirit of force and raillery, which softens Gyp to our hearts; being a classic, he cannot throw restraint to the winds and let himself go with the abounding energy and reckless merriment of his French counterpart. But they keep their eyes fixed upon the same side of life, and for daring and directness it were difficult to award the palm. Dr. Rutherford declares that the "Mimes" of Herodas were intended for The "Mimes" of Herodas, the treasure dramatic representation. But assertion recently brought to light in the British must be backed by overwhelming evidence, Museum, should gratify a double taste. | before so preposterous an opinion may be
From The Nineteenth Century. THE "MIMES" OF HERODAS. BOOKS, says Hazlitt, are not like women, the worse for being old. But the most of men, loving the crude better than the mellow, would cheerfully surrender the classics, three-fifths of which America has condemned as "very filthy trash," for the last sensation of the circulating library. Perhaps it is the spirit of optimism which compels this eager interest in the newest literature. Upon so vast a rubbish heap, whispers hope, surely one or two pearls may lie concealed. And then how pleas ant a satisfaction is it to forestall your neighbor, to discourse familiarly of a modern masterpiece, which has eluded a rival's vigilance! Reading is pursued less for its own sake than from the lust of discovery. Nowadays genius must e'en divide the honors with its Columbus, and not a few critics affect to believe that, if they did not actually create the works, which they "first introduced to the public," at least they have the sole right to appraise them. What doth it profit us to read Shakespeare or Sir Walter? In their works there is no monopoly. He who knows them not must needs in very shame feign their acquaintance. So ancient volumes in letters ten years are as a thousand are imprisoned, like criminals or paupers, in the gloomy dungeon of a library, while the common novel enjoys the larger freedom of Mudie's and the bookstall. And shriller and shriller rises the voice of Mr. Howells proclaiming that before him all was chaos.
VOL. LXXVII. 3952
entertained. To bury these dainty pic tures of life, these delicate suggestions of character beneath the machinery of the stage were too shameless an outrage upon the proprieties, which the Greek temperament was wont to respect. Unless the Young Reciter were as deadly a blight upon the ancient as upon the modern world, the lines of Herodas can scarce have been spoken in public. Imagine "Le P'tit Bob" performed with the pomp and circumstance of scenic display! The mere suggestion is blasphemy.
For the niceties of verse Herodas displays a perfect contempt. His metrethe choliambic -is more familiar than refined, and he has treated it with so licentious an asperity that it produces the effect of prose. It may be compared to the formless couplet wherein Reece and Blanchard were wont to enshrine their pearls of thought. The resemblance is merely external, as Herodas never stoops to the folly and dulness of those masters of burlesque. The diction is designedly undistinguished. In vain you look for jewelled phrase or long-sought image. One expression- and one alone - lingers in the memory. In the sixth mime two ladies are discussing with infinite animation some mysterious implements, the handiwork of Cerdon, the leather-worker. "Their softness," says Coritto, in a moment of feminine enthusiasm, "is sleep itself" ( μaλakórηS UTVOC). The phrase is elegant, and though it may have been borrowed from Theocritus, its application is original. But if Herodas, in spite of Pliny's criticism, was not wont to polish and to refine his style, he had a marvellous talent for presentation. His characters breathe and live; his simple situations are sketched in a dozen strokes, but with so vivid a touch that they are perfectly realized. The material is drawn from the commonplace of life, but it is handled with so just a sense of reality that two thousand years have not availed to tarnish the truth of the picture. The book is as modern as though it had been written not recovered yesterday. The emotions which Herodas delineates are not Greek, but human, and no preliminary cramming in archæology is necessary for their appreciation. The student of Greek literature is so intimately accustomed to the austere pomp of tragedy, to the measured dignity of restrained prose, that he is apt to forget that those who spake the tongue which Sophocles wrote also lived an engrossing life of their own. You contemplate their masterpieces of art, and you
dream that they paced through life apparelled ever in flowing robes, a finger upon their brow, as though they were still rapt in adoration of the ideal. And you open Herodas, and Gyllis apologizes to Metriche for not having called before, but then they do live so far apart and the roads are so muddy; or Metro and Coritto deplore the shortcomings of their servants, or a group of trippers gaze open-eyed at the glories of the temple of Esculapius. What can touch the sympathies more nearly than these sketches of life? Not even Mr. Howells himself could sniff therein the pitiful odor of romance or classicism. Their surprising familiarity is, in a sense, more thrilling than the most exquisite verse. Here, indeed, is the Greek revealed in dressing-gown and slippers. The verisimilitude is heightened by the proverbs or slang, if you will-wherewith the creations of Herodas enforce their meaning. "Oh," says Gyllis, when reproached with her long absence, "I am ever as keen as a fly to come;" while the same lady, in extolling the virtues of her protégé, Gryllus. exclaims, "He never moves a chip (ovdè kúppoç kivéwv); he never felt Cythera's dart." When the unhappy Battarus has received a thrashing at Thales's hands, he tells the jury he "suffered as much as a mouse in a pitch-pot." Thus spake the ancients, and thus might the men and women of to-day speak. As the world was never young, so it will never grow old. The archæologist devotes years of research to compiling a picture of Greek life, and the result is "Charicles" - a solid and unrelieved mass of "local color." The life and exploits of a generation are ruthlessly ascribed to one poor youth, who must needs crowd every hour of his life, that no custom be left without its illustration. There is no proportion, no atmosphere, no background, so that all is false save the details, and they merely overload the canvas. Herodas presents not a picture, but an impression, and one mime reveals more of life as it was lived two thousand years ago than the complete works of Becker, Ebers, and the archæologists.
Metriche and Gyllis, who conduct the first dialogue, might have walked straight out of (or into) the classic page of Gyp. Theocritus bas handled the same situation
Metriche. Threissa, there is a knock at the door; go and see if it is a visitor from the country.
Threissa. Please push the door. you that are afraid to come in?
Gyllis. All right, you see, I am coming in. Threissa. What name shall I say? Gyllis. Gyllis, the mother of Philainis. indoors, and announce me to Metriche. Threissa. A caller, ma'am.
Metriche. What Gyllis, dear old Gyllis Turn the chair round a little, girl. What fate induced you to come and see me, Gyllis? An angel's visit, indeed! Why, I believe it's five months since any one dreamt of your knocking at my door.
Gyllis. I live such a long way off, and the mud in the lanes is up to your knees. I am ever anxious to come, for old age is heavy upon me, and the shadow of death is at my
Metriche. Cheer up! don't malign Father Time; old age is wont to lay his hand on others too.
Gyllis. Joke away; though young women can find something better to do than that. But, my dear girl, what a long time you've been a widow. It's ten months since Mandris was despatched to Egypt, and he hasn't sent you a single line; doubtless he has forgotten you, and is drinking at a new spring. For in Egypt you may find all things that are or ever werewealth, athletics, power, fine weather, glory, goddesses, philosophers, gold, handsome youths, the shrine of the god and goddess, the most excellent king, the finest museum in the world, wine, all the good things you can desire, and women, by Persephone, countless as the stars and beautiful as the goddesses that appealed to Paris. Metriche protests, and Gyllis, suggesting that Mandris is dead, reveals the purpose of her visit.
Now listen to the news I have brought you after this long time. You know Gryllus, the son of Matachene, who was such a famous athlete at school, got a couple of blues at his university, and is now amateur champion bruiser? Then he is so rich, and he leads the quietest life; see, here is his signet ring. Well, he saw you the other day in the street, and was smitten to the heart. And, my dear girl, he never leaves my house day or night, but bemoans his fate and calls upon your name; he is positively dying of love. Now, my dear Metriche, for my sake do commit this one little sin. . . . Think it over, take my advice: he loves you.
Metriche is righteously indignant.
By the fates, Gyllis, your white hairs blunt your reason. There is no cause yet to deplore the fate of Mandris. By Demeter, I shouldn't like to have heard this from another woman's lips.... And you, my dear, never come to my house with such proposals again. For none may make mock of Mandris.
But, if what the world says be true, I needn't speak to Gyllis like this. Threissa, let us have some refreshments; bring the decanter and some water, and give the lady something to drink. Now, Gyllis, drink, and show that you aren't angry.
And so with a delightful interchange of civilities the quarrel is brought to an end. "The chatter of women," as Mr. Lang says, "has changed no more in a thousand years than the song of birds."
The second mime is in a very different key. The scene is a law court, where Battarus, who pursues the ancient calling of Sir Pandarus of Troy, brings an action against one Thales, a Phrygian plutocrat, for assault and battery. The plaintiff's speech is as admirable a specimen of Old Bailey tub-thumping as may be found outside the private orations of Demosthenes. "Deem not," exclaims the valiant Battarus, "that in protecting me you are guarding the interest of a poor pimp. No, the honor and independence of your city are at stake. I have been assaulted and robbed by one who is not a citizen, who is not even a man, but a Phrygian rascal — Artimmas was his name, a fitting appellation for a barbarian, though now he has the effrontery to call himself Thales. To cut a long story short, this Thales came to my house the other night, broke open my door, knocked me down, and carried off my Myrtale by force. Come here, Myrtale, show yourself to the court; don't be ashamed; imagine that the jury who face you are all brothers and fathers. See, gentlemen, how dishevelled she looks; that's all because this scoundrel dragged her off with intolerable violence. low a disreputable trade- that I don't deny-and my father Sisymbrus, and my grandfather Sisymbriscus (both inglorious names), were pandars before me, but Thales should treat me decently all the same. If you wish it, Thales, I am ready to be put to the torture, but you must first deposit the penalty. When I ask you for a verdict, gentlemen, I am thinking not only of myself, but of all the strangers who take refuge in your city. do Thales good to be cast, for the more you beat a Phrygian the better he is." And doubtless the jurymen of Cos found the flattery of Battarus, if not his eloquence, irresistible, and awarded a comfortable verdict. The speech, of which this is the meagrest outline, is not literature of the best kind, but it is an interesting document, and in the plaintiff's frank confession of his own iniquities there is even a touch of the sublime.
And it will
The scene shifts to the house of a | and that hooked-nose fellow, and the man schoolmaster, who is implored by an in- with bristles on his forehead, aren't they dignant mother to chastise her impudent, lifelike?" "To be sure they are," says good-for-nothing son. Flog him, she says, Cynno; "but then Apelles always is so within an inch of his miserable life (axpis realistic." These words are an echo of ἡ ψυχή αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ χειλέων μοῦνον ἡ κακή λειφθῇ). the country cousin at the Academy; but The text is so corrupt that we can only the ladies, grown serious, turned to discuss form a vague opinion of the rascal's crimes. the sacrifice. The verger is made happy He has a taste for bad company, and by the drumstick—a cock was the offerspends the livelong day in knuckle-bones, ing; and then corruption overtakes and pitch-and-toss, which is still worse; the manuscript. also, in defiance of discipline he has climbed upon the roof of the ovvoukia, wherein his parents occupy a flat, and broken the tiles. The schoolmaster is stern, as becomes his trade, and calls for his cowhide. Poor Cottalus is unmercifully thrashed, and promises repentance between the blows. But his mother is obdurate. "Take him away," says the schoolmaster to his slaves. "No, Lampriscus," shouts the mother, "don't leave off until the sun goes down." "He is far more mottled than a hydra already," replies Lampriscus, and the boy is driven off to reflect in confinement upon his crimes and their punishment.
Far more interesting is "The Visit to the Temple of Esculapius." Two ladies laden with offerings come to consult the god. The demands of piety once satisfied, they wander off to look at the statues which adorn the temple, and to express with confidence their innocent enthusiasm. They might be modern trippers at St. Paul's. "Dear, dear, friend Cynno," murmurs one, "do look at the beautiful statues. Whose work is that, and who set it up?" The sons of Praxiteles were the sculptors," replies Cynno, "can't you see, it's written on the base? And Euthies, the son of Prexo, set it up But look at the boy strangling the goose! If it weren't made of stone you would say that he would speak. Before very long, men will be able to put life into stones.' The art criticism, the same yesterday, today, and forever, is interrupted by Cynno's altercation with her maid. "Go and fetch the verger! screams the visitant. But the poor girl, overcome doubtless by the many splendors of the temple, merely stands gaping at her mistress. "You snail! you make my blood boil. Go and fetch the verger, I tell you!" The maid does as she is bid, and again the ladies fall to art criticism. "You might think that Athene fashioned those beautiful works." "If I were to scratch this naked boy," replies the other, “don't you think I should leave a scar? And this cow, and the man leading it, and the woman who meets him,
But "The Jealous Woman "(ʼn Snλótuttos) is Herodas's masterpiece. Its realism may only be matched in the most modern French literature. There is a frank brutality in its subject which should endear it to M. de Maupassant, but so exquisitely is it handled, so justly is it proportioned, that its realism does not and cannot offend. Bitinna, an elderly lady, is madly jealous of Gastro, her favorite slave. She has caught him with Amphytæa, Meno's daughter, and the poor wretch sheepishly confesses that he "has seen" the girl his mistress mentions. Bitinna is furious, and Gastro replies with much dignity: "Bitinna, I am a slave; use me as you will, but do not suck my blood day and night". a phrase which might have come from the very last and most decadent of French novels. However, Bitinna is not to be appeased, and in a frenzy she orders her favorite a flogging a thousand stripes on his back, a thousand on his belly, and bids her slaves drag him off to the punishment. But in an instant she changes her mind and, resolving to brand him, bids Cosis to attend with his needles and his ink. Then Cydilla, a slave girl, intercedes for the miserable Gastro, and the hard heart of Bitinna is softened. "This time I will forgive you, and you shall marry this charming girl, Cydilla, whom 1 love as well as my own Batyllis, and whom I nursed with my own hands." The dé nouement is tame and trivial, and wholly unworthy of the spirited opening. But the fact that they do live happy ever after avails not to spoil a marvellously vivid and cruel picture of life. In Greek literature it is unsurpassed, and the world scarce realizes yet how precious a treasure it has got in Herodas. There is not a single mime that has not a character and interest of its own. The last two, difficult as they are, contain the most spirited passages. Coritto and Metro prattle with light-hearted vivacity of a disreputable object - Baußw they call it; its precise character is yet to discover — the work of an artist in leather, named Cerdo. Metro is burning to find the author of the mas