Imágenes de páginas

Ch' ei porta ad altra donna, e che per lei
Di me non cura, e sprezza (il vo' pur dire)
La mia famosa, e da mill' alme, e mille,
Inchinata beltà, bramata grazia;
L'odio così, così l'aborro, e schivo,
Che impossibil mi par, ch'unqua per lui
Mi s'accendesse al cor fiamma amorosa.
Tallor meco ragiono: 0 s'io potessi
Gioir del mio dol dolcissimo Mirtillo,
Sicche fosse mio tutto, e ch' altra mai
Posseder no 'l potesse, o più d'ogn'altra
Beata, e felicissima Corisca !
Ed in quel punto in me sorge un talento
Verso di lui sì dolce, e sì gentile,
Che di seguirlo, e di pregarlo ancora,
E di scoprirgli il cor prendo consiglio.
Che più ? così mi stimola il desio,
Che se potessi allor l'adorerei.
Dall'altra parte i' mi risento, e dico,
Un ritroso ? uno schifo ? un che non degna?
Un, che può d'altra donna esser amante ?
Un, ch'ardisce mirarmi, e non m'adora?
E dal mio volto si difende in guisa,
Che per amor non more? ed io, che lui
Dovrei veder, come molti altri i' veggio
Supplice, e lagrimoso a' piedi miei,
Supplice, e lagrimoso a piedi suoi
Sosterro di cadere? ah non fia mai.
Ed in questo pensier tant ira accoglio
Contra di lui, contra di me, chevolsi
A seguirlo il pensier, gli occhi a mirarlo,
Che 'l nome di Mirtillo, e l' amor mio
Odio più che la morte; e lui vorrei
Veder il più dolente il più infelice
Pastor, che viva; e se potessi allora,
Con le mie proprie man l'anciderei.
Così sdegno, desire, odio, ed amore
Mi fanno guerra, ed io, che stata sono
Sempre fin qui di mille cor la fiamma,
Di mill' alme ill tormento, ardo, e languisco:
E provo nel mio mal le pene altrui.*

Pastor Fido, Act I. Sc. 3. Ovid paints in lively colors the vibration of mind between two opposite passions directed to the same object. Althea had two brothers much beloved, who were unjustly put to death by her son Meleager in a fit of passion: she was strongly impelled to revenge; but the criminal was her own son. This ought to have withheld her hand; but the story is more interesting, by the violence of the struggle between resentment and maternal love :

Dona Deûm templis nato victore ferebat;
Cum videt extinctos fratres Althæa referri.
Quæ plangore dato, mæstis ululatibus urbem
Implet; et auratas mutavit vestibus atris.
At simul est auctor necis editus; excidit omnis
Luctus: et a lacrymis in pænæ versus amorem est.
Stipes erat, quem, cum partus enixa jaceret

Thestias, in flammam triplices posuere sorores; * The editor did not think it necessary to introduce a translation of this passage, as the same principle is contained in the following illustration,

Staminaque impresso fatalia pollici nentes,
Tempora, dixerunt, eadem lignoque, tibique,
O modo nate, damus. Quo postquam carmine dicto
Excessêre deæ; flagrantem mater ab igne
Eripuit torrem: sparsitque liquentibus undis.
Ille diu furat penetralibus abditus imis;
Servatusque tuos, juvenis, servaverat annos.
Protulit hunc genitrix, tædasque in fragmina poni
Imperat; et positis inimicos admovet ignes.
Tum conata quater flammis imponere ramum,
Cepta quater tenuit. Pugnat materque, sororque,
Et diversa trahunt unum duo nomina pectus.
Sæpe metu sceleris pallebant ora futuri:
Sæpe suum fervens oculis dabat ira ruborem,
Et modo nescio quid similis crudele minanti
Vultus erat; modo quem misereri credere posses :
Cumque ferus lacrymas animi siccaverat ardor,
Inveniebantur lacrymæ tamen. Utque carina,
Quam ventus, ventoque rapit contrarius æstus,
Vim geminam sentit, paretque incerta duobus:
Thestias haud alitur dubiis affectibus errat,
Inquc vices ponit, positamque resuscitat iram.
Incipit esse tamen melior germana parente;
Et, consanguineas ut sanguine leniat umbras,
Impietate pia est. Nam postquam pestifer ignis
Convaluit; Rogus iste cremet mea viscera, dixit.
Utquc manu dirâ lignum fatale tenebat;
Ante sepulchrales infelix adstitit aras.
Pænarumque deæ triplicis furialibus, inquit,
Eumenides, sacris vultus advertite vestros.
Ulciscor, facioque nefas. Mors morte pianda est;
In scelus addendum scelus est, in funera funus :
Per coacervatos pereat domus impia luctus.
An felix Oeneus nato victore fruetur,
Thestius orbus erit? melius lugebitis ambo.
Vos modo, fraterni manes, animæque recentes,
Officium sentite meum; magnoque paratas.
Accipite inferias, uteri mala pignora nostri.
Hei mihi! quo rapior ? fratres ignoscite matri.
Deficiunt ad cæpta manus.

Meruisse fatemur
Illum, cur pereat: mortis mihi displicet auctor.
Ergo impune feret; vivusque, et victor, et ipso
Succcssu tumidus regnum Calydonis habebit?
Vos cinis exiguus, gelidæque jacebitis umbræ ?
Haud equidem patiar. Pereat sceleratus; et ille
Spemque patris, regnique trahat, patriæque ruinam,
Mens ubi materna est; ubi sunt pia jura parentum ?
Et, quos sustinui, bis mensûm quinque labores ?
O utinam primis arsisses ignibus infans:
Idque ego passa forem! vixisti munere nostro;
Nunc merito moriêre tuo. Cape præmia facti;
Bisque datam, primum partu, mox stipite rapto,
Redde animam; vel me fraternis adde sepulchris.
Et cupio, et nequeo. Quid agam ? modo vulnera fratrum
Ante oculos mihi sunt, et tantæ cædis imago;
Nunc animum pietas, maternaque nomina frangunt.
Me miseram! male vincetis, sed vincite, fratres ;
Dummodo, quæ dedero vobis solatia, vosque
Ipsa sequar, dixit: dextraque aversa trementi
Funereum torrem medios conjecit in ignes.
Aut dedit, aut visus gemitus est ille dedisse,
Stipes ;. et invitis correptus ab ignibus arsit.

Metamorph. lib. 8. 1., 445.

Pleased with the first, unknown the second news;
Althæa to the temples pays their dues
For her son's conquest; when at length appear
Her grisly brethren stretched upon the bier;
Pale at the sudden sight she changed her cheer,
And with her cheer, her robes; but hearing tell
The cause, the manner, and by whom they fell,
'Twas grief no more, or grief and rage were one
Within her soul; at last, 'twas rage alone;
Which bursting upwards in succession, dries
The tears, that stood consid'ring in her eyes.
There lay a log unlighted on the hearth,
When she was lab'ring in the throes of birth,
For the unborn chief; the fatal sisters came,
And raised it up, and toss'd it on the flame;
Then on the rock a scanty measure place
Of vital flax, and turned the wheel apace;
And turning sung; To this red brand and thee,
O new-born babe, we give an equal destiny:-
So vanished out of view; The frighted dame
Sprang hasty from her bed, and quenched the flame:
The log, in secret locked, she kept with care;
And that, while thus preserved, preserved her heir.
This brand she now produced; and first she strows
The hearth with heaps of chips, and after blows:
Thrice heaved her hand, and heaved, she thrice repressed :
The sister, and the mother long contest,
Two doubtful titles, in one tender breast.
And now her eyes and cheeks with fury glow,
Now pale her cheeks, her eyes with pity flow:
Now lowering looks presage approaching storms,
And now prevailing love her face reforms;
Resolved, she doubts again; the tears she dried
With burning rage, are by new tears supplied ;
And as a ship, which winds and waves assail,
Now with the current drives, now with the gale,
Both opposite, and neither long prevail;
She feels a double force, by turns obeys
The imperious tempest, and the impetuous seas:
So fares Althæa's mind; she first relents
With pity; of that pity then repents.
Sister, and mother, long the scales divide;
But the beam nodded on the sister's side:
Sometimes she softly sighed, then roared aloud :
But sighs were stifled in the cries of blood.
The pious, impious wretch at length decreed,
To please her brothers' ghost, her son should bleed:
And when the funeral fames began to rise,
Receive, she said, a sister's sacrifice;
A mother's bowels burn: high in her hand,
Thus while she spoke, she held the fatal brand;
Then thrice before the kindled pile she bowed,
And the three Furies thrice invoked aloud:
Come, come, revenging sisters; come, and view
A sister paying her dead brothers' due:
A crime I punish, and a crime commit,
But blood for blood and death for death is fit:
Great crimes must be with greater crimes repaid,
And second funerals on the former laid.
Let the whole household in one ruin fall,
And may Diana's curse o’ertake us all!
Shall fate to happy Eneus still allow
One son, while Thestius stands deprived of two ?

[ocr errors]

Better three lost, than one unpunished go.
Take, then, dear ghost, while yet admitted new
In hell, you wait my duty, take your due:
A costly offering on your tomb is laid,
When with my blood the price of yours is paid.
Ah! whither am I hurried ? Ah! forgive,
Ye shades, and let your sister's issue live:
A mother cannot give him death; though he
Deserves it, he deserves it not from me:
Then shall the unpunished wretch insult the slain,
Triumphant live, nor only live, but reign,
While you, thin shades, the sport of winds are tossed
O’er dreary plains, or tread the burning coast.
I cannot, cannot bear; 'tis past, 'tis done;
Perish this impious, this detested son;
Perish his sire, and perish I with all;
And let the house's heir, and the hop'd kingdom fall!
Where is the mother fled, her pious love,
And where the pains with which ten months I strove!
Ah! hadst thou died, my son, in infant years,
Thy little hearse had been bedewed with tears.
Thou livedst by me; to me thy breath resign;
Mine is the merit

, the demerit thine.
Thy life by double title I require;
Once given at birth, and once preserved from fire ;
One murder pay, or add one murder more,
And me to them who fell by thee restore.
I would, but cannot: my son's image stands
Before my sight; and now their angry hands
My brothers hold, and vengeance these exact,
This pleads compassion, and repents the fact.
He pleads in vain, and I pronounce his doom:
My brothers, though unjustly, shall o'ercome:
But having paid their injured ghosts their due,
My son requires my death, and mine shall his pursue.
At this, for the last time, she lifts her hand,
Averts her eyes, and, half unwilling, drops the brand.
The brand, amid the flaming fuel thrown,
Or drew, or seemed to draw, a dying groan:
The fires themselves but faintly lick'd their prey,

Then loath'd their impious food, and would have shrunk away.
In cases of this kind, one circumstance always augments the fluc-
tuation : after balancing between two actions, a resolution to prefer
one of them is an inchoated gratification of the prevailing passion,
which moderates it in some degree; and that circumstance tends to
give a superiority to the opposite passion: another circumstance also
concurs, that this opposite passion has, by restraint, acquired in the
interim some additional force.

Love and jealousy connected by a common object, occupy the mind alternately: when the object is considered as beautiful, love prevails; when considered as possibly unfaithful, jealousy prevails. À situation of that kind affords great scope for fluctuation of passion; which is painted to the life by several masterly hands in words as well as in colors, Shakspeare handles the same subject, but in a manner uncommon, and peculiar to himself: in Othello's soliloquy before putting his wife to death, love and jealousy are represented, each exerting its whole force, but without any struggle: Othello was naturally inflexible; and the tenderest love could not divert him

[ocr errors]

from a purpose he approved as right, not even for a moment: but every thing consistent with such a character is done to reconcile the two opposite passions; he is resolved to put her to death, but he will not shed her blood, nor so much as ruffle her skin :

Othello. It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul;-
Let me not name it to you, you chaste stars !
It is the cause

Yet I'll not shed her blood,
Nor scar that whiter skin of her's than snow,
And smooth as monumental alabaster. (Lays down the sword.
Yet she must die; else she'll betray more men.
Put out the light, and then-Put out the light !-
If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,
I can again thy former light restore,
Should I repent: but once put out thy light,
Thou cunning'st pattern of excelling nature,
I know not where is that Promethean heat
That can thy life relumine.—[Sets down the taper.
When I have pluck'd thy rose,
I cannot give it vital growth again;
It needs must wither.—I'll smell thee on the tree. (Kissing her.
O balmy breath, that dost almost persuade
Justice to break her sword !-One more; one more;
Be thus when thou art dead, and I will kill thee,
And love thee after. One more, that's the last;
So sweet was ne'er so fatal; I must weep,
But they are cruel tears ! this sorrow's heavenly;
It strikes where it doth love.

Othello, Act V. Sc. 6. In Otway's Orphan, we have an illustrious example of the address employed to gratify opposite passions directed to the same object. Castalio and Polydore, brothers and rivals, had sworn mutual confidence: Castalio broke his faith by a private marriage; which unwarily betrayed Polydore into a dismal deed, that of polluting his brother's bed. Thus he had injured his brother, and was injured by him: justice prompted him to make full atonement by his own death ; resentment against his brother, required a full atonement to be made to himself

. In coexistent passions so contradictory, one of them commonly prevails after a struggle: but here happily an expedient occurred to Polydore for gratifying both; which was, that he should provoke his brother to put him to death. Polydore's crime, in his own opinion, merited that punishment; and justice was satisfied when he fell by the hand of the man he had injured: he wanted, at the same time, to punish his brother for breach of faith; and he could not punish more effectually than by betraying his brother to be his executioner.

If difference of aim prevent the union of two passions, though they have the same object, much more will it prevent their union, when their objects are also different: in both cases there is a fluctuation; but in the latter the fluctuation is slower than in the former. A beautiful situation of that kind is exhibited in the Cid of Corneille. Don Diegue, an old soldier worn out with age, having received a mortal affront from the Count, father to Chimene, employs his son Don Rodrigue, Chimene's lover, to demand satisfaction. This situation occasions in the breast of Don Rodrigue a cruel struggle between love and honor, one of which must be sacrificed. The scene is

« AnteriorContinuar »