Imágenes de páginas

wine, which stood near him, and which he sipped from time to time with great gusto. There was one attendant in the room, a favorite slave, who at least twenty times in the day, had been ordered to read aloud to his master, and as often abruptly checked-by the restless old man, whose thoughts were evidently elsewhere,—And well they might be; for to day the comedies were being performed in the temple of Dionysus, and the old toper was no other than Cratinus, once indisputed lord of Athenian comedy.

Suddenly a loud knocking was heard at the outer door, and Cratinus started up eagerly; after a short delay, for which the lazy porter was anathematised by his impatient master, the new comer was ushered in,-a rough, ordinary specimen of an Athenian, with a malicious twinkle in

his eye:

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“ Well old Silenus,” said he, “how are you after last night. “Tell me,” replied the old man, disregarding the greeting, "to whom the prizes have been adjudged.”

Aristophanes first, Cratinus second," said the other, and his friend sank back on his couch with an exclamation of disgust.

Aristophanes was very good,” continued the other maliciously, “ and most vociferously applauded.”

May he go to the crows,” growled the old man without looking up. “By the bye” his friend went on," some of his keenest satire was directed against you.'

“By Jove," shouted Cratinus, starting up, “this is too bad. What! this insolent upstart, this puny whipster, this unfledged nestling of the muses, attack me! let him challenge Cleon as much as he likes, that shews pluck ; and let him make mincemeat of the solemn proser Euripides; but to fall upon Cratinus who was receiving

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


plaudits long before he began to receive floggings—it is too bad.”

“ I have copied out the verses referring to you," said the other, “and can read them if you like.” « Go on," said Cratinus, and the other, looking up from time to time to see the effect on his auditor, read the following famous lines

[ocr errors]

Then he thought upon Cratinus, how of yore, in wanton mazes Smoothly coursed be, full and swollen with a thousand rills of

praises; How adown the valleys swept he in resistless eddies whirling; Oaks and planes and enemies all from the roots up-hurling. At dinners and at drinking-bouts, no songs were ever trolled, But“ Framers of the cunning lays," and “ Bribery fig-soled.” Yet, though then such blooming garlands of renown were showered

upon him,

Now you see his piteous drivelling, and you take no pity on him;
When he's losing all his tune, like a wretched worn-out fiddle,
And his pegs are falling off him, and he's cracking up the



And like mad Tom about the streets he maunders, poor old fellow,
As thirsty as an oyster, with his chaplet dry and yellow.
When for all his former triumphs the ungrateful Attic people
Should have paid with “ public spirit " for the poet's daily tipple;
And have hushed his whining drivel, and bedecked him spruce


gay, And

put him in the best of seats, and let him see the play. The reader concluded, and paused, expecting an outburst such as that which had preceded the recital. But his malice was baulked; the shaft had indeed pierced the old man deep, but the wound was bleeding inwardly, and he presently said very calmly, though with a pale face, and a voice quivering with suppressed rage

[ocr errors]

“So Aristophanes calls Cratinus a drivelling dotard. Very well; we will see who drivels next year!

And now tell me how the rest of the ceremonial went off;” and he listened with apparent interest to the account of the Dionysic revels that followed: but his thoughts were in reality far away-engaged in framing the plan of a comedy that should once again make the theatre of Bacchus ring with inextinguishable laughter.

Next year the judges announced their decision of the comedies as follows :-Cratinus first, Ameipsias second, and Aristophanes third ; and the young favorite of the stage learnt to his cost that the bolts of satire, however truly aimed, may sometimes rebound on the unlucky archer's head.

But the triumph killed poor old Cratinus.


Home of my fathers, oh farewell for ever,

Haunts of my boyhood for ever adieu.
I leave ye to roam thro' the wide world, but never

Shall I cease to remember my boyhood and you.

Though home be a cottage, yet round it are twining

Fond recollections of days that are flown, Infancy, boyhood, and manhood combining,

Lend it a dearness that is not its own.

Here is the green where of old in the eventide,

Careless and happy I sported and played, And there is the church on the sunny hill side,

Where the bones of my father and mother are laid.

In yonder sweet meadow what joys have I known,

In loves early days when my wild heart beat high, Ere' yet the rough winds of disaster had blown,

Or the clouds of misfortune had darkened my sky.

How oft have I watched the sun slowly upclimbing,

The dark copse of firs on the brow of yon hill,
How oft have I heard ye, sweet sabbath bells chiming,

In the bright Sunday morn when the village lay still.

Oh! porch ivy-mantled, how oft have I passed

Through thy cool summer shade to the old house within ; Ah! well it is over; I leave thee at last,

And soon shall a stranger be dwelling therein.

Then farewell thou home of my fathers ! adieu,

Haunts of my boyhood for ever we part,
But in all the wide world there's no spot like to you,

That shall hold the same place in the depth of mine heart.



THE gods sat on the top of the water-tower,* in solemn consultation, and surveyed Rokeby School. It was long ago; before the pump in the quad was set up; long before any of the present generation, or even their parents, were born. Rugby was then happy. No whole schooldays on Monday-middle week all the year round; only one copy a week.

What wonder that they were happy; and what * This is evidently an anachronism : the water-tower was not built at that period.

wonder that the gods surveyed Rugby with jealousy and indignation. The Rugbeians were too happy, they said ; something must be done; and, accordingly, Mercury, the original electric telegraph, was sent down to Hades, to offer a reward to any fiend who could invent a scholastic torture that would reduce the Rugbeians to misery. Many fiends applied for the reward. One suggested getting up at six o'clock instead of seven ; another (a fiend of a Sabbatarian turn of mind) stopping the sinful practice of walking in the country on Sunday; but the proposal that obtained the reward was the creation of the brain of a Fury named Pluto. Her proposal was—“Stop the Monday Halfholidays.” The proposal was received with loud acclamations, and carried, with this amendment however, “ That

6. every third Monday should be a half-holiday, and that the week in which this Monday fell should be called middleweek, because it was not the middle of anything, so that Rugbeians might ever torment their minds by trying to find out of what it was the middle.” Accordingly, one of the


, attendant imps was sent, under the disguise of an anxious parent, to make the horrible suggestion to the headmaster. He received it as a bright idea, and Rugby was sentenced to groan for ever under the weight of two whole school-days on Monday out of every three. .

The gods again sat on the water-tower, and again surveyed Rugby. Years had passed on ; Mr. Bucknill had just arrived in Rugby. Rugby was itself again. They had got over the Monday whole school-days. The next headmaster had softened it down to one out of three, and they were happy: their only anxiety was (as Pluto foretold) to find out the meaning of middle week.The gods saw that their device had failed, and again Mercury was sent

« AnteriorContinuar »