Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

My father, he will bear a golden tuft ;
Which mark the right Amphitryon will not have :
And no one of the family will be able

To see these marks; ye only fhall difcern them. 175
But Sofia yonder comes, Amphitryon's flave:
He's from the port, and bears him hitherward,
A lanthorn in his hand he makes for home,
But I fhall drive him thence.---So---here he is;
And he will foon be knocking at the door.
It will be worth your while to mark how Jove
And Mercury will play the parts of actors.

180

[Mercury places himself before Amphitryon's door.

the Menachmi of our Author, (in which there are two twin-brothers, who refemble each other, like the two Sofias, or the two Amphitryon's) no direction is given whereby to distinguish them; which is certainly more agreeable to propriety.

V. 182.] Can it be believed, that this Prologue, long and tedious as it certainly must appear to a modern, will yet be continued, as it were, in the course of the Play, as in A& I. Scene II. and that even Jupiter will also addrefs the audience in mach the fame manner, in A&t III. Scene I,

Befides

*

*Befides the Amphitryon of Moliere, there is an imitation of this play among the comedies of Rotrou. I have likewise seen an old tranflation of it in Italian. Lady Mary Wortley Montague gives a very droll account of a German play under the same title, which I fhall transcribe for the entertainment of my reader. In letter VIII. dated Vienna, Sept. 14. O. S. After fpeaking of the operas at Vienna, her ladyship proceeds.

"Their comedies are in as high a degree ridiculous. They have but one play-house, where I had the curiofity to go to a German comedy, and was glad it happened to be the story of Amphitryon. As that fubject has been already handled by a Latin, French, and English poet, I was curious to fee what an Auftrian author could make of it. I understand enough of that language to comprehend the greatest part of it; and, befides, I took with me a lady, that had the goodness to explain to me every word. I thought the house very low and dark; but I confefs the comedy admirably recompenfed that defect. I never laughed fo much in my life. It begun with Jupiter's falling in love out of a peep-hole in the clouds, and ended with the birth of Hercules. But what was most pleasant was, the ufe Jupiter made of his metamorphofis; for you no fooner faw him under the figure of Amphitryon, but, instead of flying to Alcmena with the raptures Mr. Dryden puts in his mouth, he fends for Amphitryon's taylor, and cheats him of a laced coat, and his banker of a bag of money, a few of a diamond ring, and befpeaks a great fupper in his name; and the greatest part of the comedy turns upon poor Amphitryon's being tormented by these people for their debts. Mercury ufes Sofia in the fame manner. But I could not eafily pardon the liberty the poet has taken of larding his play with not only indecent expreffions, but fuch grofs words as I don't think our mob would fuffer from a mountebank. Befides, the two Sofias very fairly let down their breeches in direct view of the boxes, which were full of people of the first rank, that seemed very well pleased with their entertainment, and affured me this was a celebrated piece."

AMPHITRY O N.

ACT I.

SCENE I.

SOSIA advances with a Lanthorn.

S there a bolder fellow ?-Is there any one

More ftout of heart than I am ?-I, who know
The humours of our wild young fparks, yet dare
Walk by myself at this late hour of night.
What shall I do now, if the watch fhould feize

5

V. 5. The watch.] Trefviri. Notwithstanding the scene is laid in Greece, and the characters are Græcian, yet Plautus conftantly alludes to the Roman customs, as Sofia is made to do in this place, and a few lines lower, where he talks of homines octo validi, ke eight sturdy fellows," which are understood by the commentators, to mean the eight Litors that waited on the Triumviri, whose business it was to apprehend delinquents, bring them before the magiftrate, and execute the fentence paffed upon them. Madam Dacier informs us, that the Triumviri, who took care of the streets, &c. at night, were called Nocturni, which answers to our Watch; but she denies, that by "eight sturdy fellows" are meant the Lictors above-mentioned, and in fupport of her opinion quotes a paffage from the Afinaria of our author, Act III. Scene II. which to me feems to prove the direct contrary.

Ubi fæpe caufam dixeris pendens adversùs octo
Auftutos audaces viros, valentes virgatores.

As how your caufe you've often pleaded,
Hung by the heels, against eight harden'd fellows,
Of stripes more sturdy layers-on.

VOL. I.

C

And

And thrust me into prifon ?-Why, to-morrow
I fhall be ferv'd up from that dainty larder,
And well dreft with a whipping :-not a word
Allow'd me in my own defence ;-no master
To take my part; and ev'ry foul will think,
I've my deserts :-So fhall eight sturdy fellows
Bethump me like an anvil.-In this fort
They'll greet me on my coming, thus receive
And entertain me at the public charge !—
These honours has my mafter forc'd upon me,
Who fent me from the port fo late at night
Against my inclination.-Could he not
Have waited till 'twas day-light to dispatch me ?-
This is the hardship of a great man's service,
Wherefore his fervant leads a plaguy life on't :

10

15

20

V.7.] In the original, E cellâ promptuariâ depromar ad flagrum: Cella promptuaria, according to Taubman, is the place where provisions or kitchen-uten fils were kept at hand for family use. Sofia means, that as meat is brought from the pantry to the kitchen, so shall he be brought from the jail to the whippingpoft. I have endeavoured to preferve the allufion in the best manner I could think of, by using the equivocal word drest.

V. 19.] These reflections, which naturally arife in Sofia at this juncture, are at once juft and elegant. Yet how coarsely has Dryden expreffed himself in imitation of them! -"Well! the ἐσ greatest plague of a ferving man is to be hired to fome great "lord. They care not what drudgery they put upon us, while "they lie lolling at their cafe a-bed, and ftretch their lazy "limbs, in expectation of the wh-re we are fetching them." Echard in his tranflation of this paffage, as Cooke has observed, is ftill more grofs and vulgar. Indeed, throughout his whole translation, with a view of rendering our author comical, he has made him black-guard. Moliere has amplificated this passage, but it is with decency.

By

By day, by night, there's work enough and more,
That will not let him reft. The mafter, he
Being free himself from labour, thinks his slave
Can drudge and drudge ftill on, whate'er befalls him;
Nay, thinks it just, and never counts the toil,
Or once confiders, whether his commands
Are right or wrong. Wherefore in fervitude
We fuffer much oppreffion : yet the burthen
Must be endur'd with pain.

MERC. On this account

I have more reafon furely to complain

25

30

Of fervitude,-I, who before was free,

Though now my father has me for his flave:

This fellow, who was born a slave, complains!

But hold-I only am a slave in name.

Sos. Stay, now I think on't, I should thank the

gods

For my arrival.-Would they recompense me
As I deserve, they should commission some one
To welcome me with doufes on the chaps :
For all their goodness has been thrown away
On an ungrateful rascal.

MERC. His deferts

He knows then, which fuch fellows feldom do.
Sos. Well,-To come home in a whole fkin!-

'twas what

I never thought, or any of our people.

35

40

V. 34. A flave in name.] Sam verò verna verbo. The common editions have verbero here, which is nonfenfe; yet some of the commentators have stupidly endeavoured to explain it. I find verbo in the first edition, which gives it [the paffage] a good meaning. Cooke.

C 2

The

« ElőzőTovább »