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Who swill the hog-wash soup my cooks digest
From bones, and rags, and scraps of shoe-leather,
Which should be given to cleaner pigs than you?
THE SWINE.SEMICHORUS I.
The same, alas ! the same;
Though only now the name
Of pig remains to me.
If 'twere your kingly will
Us wretched swine to kill,
What should we yield to thee?
Swellfoot. Why skin and bones, and some few hairs for mortar.
CHORUB OF SWINE.
I have heard your Laureate sing,
That pity was a royal thing;
Under your mighty ancestors, we pigs
Were bless'd as nightingales on myrtle sprigs,
Or grasshoppers that live on noon-day dew,
And sung, old annals tell, as sweetly too:
But now our sties are fallen in, we catch
The Murrain and the mange, the scab and itch ;
Sometimes your royal dogs tear down our thatch,
And then we seek the shelter of a ditch;
Hog-wash or grains, or ruta-baga, none
Has yet been ours since your reign begun.
My pigs, 'tis in vain to tug !
I could almost eat my litter!
I suck, but no milk will come from the dug.
Our skin and our bones would be bitter.
We fight for this rag of greasy rug,
Though a trough of wash would be fitter.
Happier swine were they than we,
Drowned in the Gadarean sea-
I wish that pity would drive out the devils
Which in your royal bosom hold their revels,
And sink us in the waves of your compassion !
Alas! the pigs are an unhappy nation !
Now if your majesty would have our bristles
To bind your mortar with, or fill our colons
With rich blood, or make brawn out of our gristles,
In policy-ask else your royal Solons-
You ought to give us hog-wash and clean straw,
And sties well thatched; besides, it is the law !
Swellfoot. This is sedition, and rank blasphemy ! Ho! there, my guards !
Enter a GUARD.
Your sacred Majesty ?
Swell foot. Call in the Jews, Solomon the court porkman,
Moses the sow-gelder, and Zephaniah the hog-butcher.
Guard. They are in waiting, sire.
Enter SOLOMON, MOSES, and ZEPHANIAH.
Swellfoot. Out with your knife, old Moses, and spay those wows,
(The Pigs run about in consternation.
That load the earth with pigs ; cut close and deep.
Moral restraint I see has no effect,
Nor prostitution, nor our own example,
Starvation, typhus-fever, war, nor prison-
This was the art which the arch-priest of Famine
Hinted at in his charge to the Theban clergy-
Cut close and deep, good Moses.
Let your majesty
Keep the boars quiet, else-
That fat hog's throat, the brute seems overfed ;
Seditious hunks ! to whine for want of grains.
Zephaniah. Your sacred majesty, he has the dropsy ;-
We shall find pints of hydatids in 's liver,
He has not half an inch of wholesome fat
l'pon his carious ribs-
'Tis all the same,
He'll serve instead of riot-money, when
Our murmuring troops bivouaque in Thebes' streets ;
And January winds, after a day
Of butchering, will make them relish carrion.
Now, Solomon, I'll sell you in a lump
The whole kit of them.
Why, your majesty,
I could not give-
Kill them out of the way,
That shall be price enough, and let me hear
Their everlasting grunts and whines no more !
[Exeunt, driving in the Swine. Enter Mammon, the Arch Priest ; and PURGANAX, Chief of the
Council of Wizards.
Purganax. The future looks as black as death, a cloud,
Dark as the frown of Hell, hangs over it-
The troops grow mutinous—the revenue fails-
There's something rotten in us--for the level
Of the State slopes, its very bases topple;
The boldest turn their backs upon themselves !
Mammon. Why what's the matter, my dear fellow, now! Do the troops mutiny ?-decimate some regiments; Does money fail come to my mint-coin paper, Till gold be at a discount, and, ashamed To show his bilious face, go purge himself, In emulation of her vestal whiteness.
Purganax. Oh, would that this were all! The oracle !
Mammon. Why it was I who spoke that oracle,
And whether I was dead drunk or inspired,
I cannot well remember; nor, in truth,
The oracle itself!
Purganax. The words went thus:-
“ Bæotia, choose reform or civil war !
When through the streets, instead of hare with dogs,
A Consort-Queen shall hunt a King with hogs,
Riding on the Ionian Minotaur."
Mammon. Now if the oracle had ne'er foretold
This sad alternative, it must arrive,
Or not, and so it must now that it has;
And whether I was urged by grace divine,
Or Lesbian liquor to declare these words,
Which must, as all words must, be false or true;
It matters not: for the same power made all,
Oracle, wine, and me and you—or none-
'Tis the same thing. If you knew as much
Of oracles as I do-
Believe in nothing; if you were to dream
Of a particular number in the lottery,
You would not buy the ticket!
Yet our tickets
Are seldom blanks. But what steps have you taken !
For prophecies, when once they get abroad,
Like liars who tell the truth to serve their ends,
Or hypocrites, who, from assuming virtue,
Do the same actions that the virtuous do,
Contrive their own fulfilment. This Iona-
Well-you know what the chaste Pasiphae did,
Wife to that most religious King of Crete,
And still how popular the tale is here;
And these dull swine of Thebes boast their descent
From the free Minotaur. You know they still
Call themselves bulls, though thus degenerate;
And everything relating to a bull
Is popular and respectable in Thebes :
Their arms are seven bulls in a field gules.
They think their strength consists in eating beef, -
Now there were danger in the precedent
If Queen Iona-
Purganax. I have taken good care
That shall not be. I struck the crust o' the earth
With this enchanted rod, and Hell lay bare !
And from a cavern full of ugly shapes,
I chose a LEECH, a GADFLY, and a Rat.
The gadily was the same which Juno sent
To agitate Io, * and which Ezechiel + mentions
That the Lord whistled for out of the mountains
Of utmost Ethiopia, to torment
Mesopotamian Babylon. The beast
Has a loud trumpet like the Scarabee ;
His crooked tail is barbed with many stings,
Each able to make a thousand wounds, and each
Immedicable; from his convex eyes
He sees fair things in many hideous shapes,
And trumpets all his falsehood to the world.
Like other beetles he is fed on dung-
He has eleven feet with which he crawls,
Trailing a blistering slime; and this foul beast
Has tracked Iona from the Theban limits,
From isle to isle, from city unto city,
Urging her flight from the far Chersonese
To fabulous Solyma, and the Ætnean Isle,
Ortygia, Melite, and Calypso's Rock,
And the swart tribes of Garamant and Fez,
Æolia and Elysium, and thy shores,
Parthenope, which now, alas ! are free !
And through the fortunate Saturnian land,
Into the darkness of the West.
This Gadfly should drive Iona hither?
Purganax. Gods ! what an if! but there is my grey Rat So thin with want, he can crawl in and out Of any narrow chink and filthy hole, And he shall creep into her dressing-room, And
Mammon. My dear friend, where are your wits? as if She does not always toast a piece of cheese, And bait the trap? and rats, when lean enough To crawl through such chinksPurganax.
But my LEECH- a leech Fit to suck blood, with lubricous round rings, Capaciously expatiative, which make His little body like a red balloon, As full of blood as that of hydrogen, Sucked from men's hearts; insatiably he sucks And clings and pulls—a horse-leech, whose deep maw
* The Prometheus Bound of Æschylus.
† And the Lord whistled for the gådfly out of Ethiopia, and for the bee out of Egypt, &c.-EZECHIEL.
The plethoric King Swellfoot could not fill,
And who, till full, will cling for ever.
For Queen Iona might suffice, and less;
But 'tis the swinish multitude I fear,
And in that fear I have-
My eldest son Chrysaor, because he
Attended public meetings, and would always
Stand prating there of commerce, public faith,
Economy, and unadulterate coin,
And other topics, ultra-radical;
And have entailed my estate, called the Fool's Paradise,
And funds, in fairy-money, bonds and bills,
Upon my accomplished daughter Banknotina,
And married her to the Gallows. *
A good match !
Mammon. A high connection, Purganax. The bridegroom
Is of a very ancient family
Of Hounslow Heath, Tyburn, and the New Drop,
And has great influence in both Houses ;-Oh!
He makes the fondest husband; nay too fond :-
New-married people should not kiss in public;
But the poor souls love one another so !
And then my little grandchildren, the Gibbets,
Promising children as you ever saw,
The young playing at hanging, the elder learning
How to hold radicals. They are well taught too,
For every Gibbet says its catechism,
And reads a select chapter in the Bible
Before it goes to play. (A most tremendous humming is heard.
Ha ! what do I hear?
Mammon. Your Gadfly, as it seems, is tired of gadding.
Hum ! hum ! hum !
From the lakes of the Alps, and the cold grey scalps
Of the mountains, I come !
Hum! hum ! hum !
From Morocco and Fez, and the high palaces
Of golden Byzantium;
From the temples divine of old Palestine,
From Athens and Rome,
With a ha! and a bum !
I come! I come!
. “If one should marry a gallows, and beget young gibbets, I never saw one so prone."-CYMBELINE.