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- The Poetaster - 20/49 -


Ambo. For the touch, a lady's waist; Which doth all the rest excel.

Ovid. Ay, this has waked us. Mercury, our herald; go from ourself, the great god Jupiter, to the great emperor Augustus Caesar, and command him from us, of whose bounty he hath received the sirname of Augustus, that, for a thank-offering to our beneficence, he presently sacrifice, as a dish to this banquet, his beautiful and wanton daughter Julia: she's a curst quean, tell him, and plays the scold behind his back; therefore let her be sacrificed. Command him this, Mercury, in our high name of Jupiter Altitonans.

Jul. Stay, feather-footed Mercury, and tell Augustus, from us, the great Juno Saturnia; if he think it hard to do as Jupiter hath commanded him, and sacrifice his daughter, that he had better do so ten times, than suffer her to love the well-nosed poet, Ovid; whom he shall do well to whip or cause to be whipped, about the capitol, for soothing her in her follies. [ Enter AUGUSTUS CAESAR, MECAENAS, HORACE, LUPUS, HISTRIO, MINUS, and Lictors. Caes. What sight is this? Mecaenas! Horace! say? Have we our senses? do we hear and see? Or are these but imaginary objects Drawn by our phantasy! Why speak you not? Let us do sacrifice. Are they the gods? [Ovid and the rest kneel. Reverence, amaze, and fury fight in me. What, do they kneel! Nay, then I see 'tis true I thought impossible: O, impious sight! Let me divert mine eyes; the very thought Everts my soul with passion: Look not, man, There is a panther, whose unnatural eyes Will strike thee dead: turn, then, and die on her With her own death. [Offers to kill his daughter. Mec. Hor. What means imperial Caesar?

Caes. What would you have me let the strnmpet live That, for this pageant, earns so many deaths?

Tuc. Boy, slink, boy. [Exeunt Tucca and Pyrgus. Pyr. Pray Jupiter we be not followed by the scent, master.

Caes. Say, sir, what are you?

Alb. I play Vulcan, sir.

Caes. But what are you, sir?

Alb. Your citizen and jeweller, sir.

Caes. And what are you, dame?

Chloe. I play Venus, forsooth.

Caes. I ask not what you play, but what you are.

Chloe. Your citizen and jeweller's wife, sir.

Caes. And you, good sir? [Exit. Caes. O, that profaned name!--- And are these seemly company for thee, [To Julia. Degenerate monster? All the rest I know, And hate all knowledge for their hateful sakes. Are you, that first the deities inspired With skill of their high natures and their powers, The first abusers of their useful light; Profaning thus their dignities in their forms, And making them, like you, but counterfeits? O, who shall follow Virtue and embrace her, When her false bosom is found nought but air? And yet of those embraces centaurs spring, That war with human peace, and poison men.--- Who shall, with greater comforts comprehend Her unseen being and her excellence; When you, that teach, and should eternise her, Live as she were no law unto your lives, Nor lived herself, but with your idle breaths? If you think gods but feign'd, and virtue painted, Know we sustain an actual residence, And with the title of an emperor, Retain his spirit and imperial power; By which, in imposition too remiss, Licentious Naso, for thy violent wrong, In soothing the declined affections Of our base daughter, we exile thy feet From all approach to our imperial court, On pain of death; and thy misgotten love Commit to patronage of iron doors; Since her soft-hearted sire cannot contain her.

Cris. Your gentleman parcel-poet, sir.

Mec. O, good my lord, forgive! be like the gods.

Hor. Let royal bounty, Caesar, mediate.

Caes. There is no bounty to be shew'd to such As have no real goodness: bounty is A spice of virtue; and what virtuous act Can take effect on them, that have no power Of equal habitude to apprehend it, But live in worship of that idol, vice, As if there were no virtue, but in shade Of strong imagination, merely enforced ? This shews their knowledge is mere ignorance, Their far-fetch'd dignity of soul a fancy, And all their square pretext of gravity A mere vain-glory; hence, away with them! I will prefer for knowledge, none but such As rule their lives by it, and can becalm All sea of Humour with the marble trident Of their strong spirits: others fight below With gnats and shadows; others nothing know. [Exeunt.

SCENE V.-A Street before the Palace. Enter TUCCA, CRISPINUS, and PYRGUS.

Tuc. What's become of my little punk, Venus, and the poultfoot stinkard, her husband, ha?

Cris. O; they are rid home in the coach, as fast as the wheels can run.

Tuc. God Jupiter is banished, I hear, and his cockatrice Juno lock'd up. 'Heart, an all the poetry in Parnassus get me to be a player again, I'll sell 'em my share for a sesterce. But this is Humours, Horace, that goat-footed envious slave; he's turn'd fawn now; an informer, the rogue! 'tis he has betray'd us all. Did you not see him with the emperor crouching?

Cris. Yes.

Tuc. Well, follow me. Thou shalt libel, and I'll cudgel the rascal. Boy, provide me a truncheon. Revenge shall gratulate him, tam Marti, quam Mercurio.

Pyr. Ay, but master, take heed how you give this out; Horace is a man of the sword.

Cris. 'Tis true, in troth; they say he's valiant.

[Horace passes over the stage. Tuc. Valiant? so is mine a--. Gods and fiends! I'll blow him into air when I meet him next: he dares not fight with a puck-fist.

Pyr. Master, he comes!

Tuc. Where? Jupiter save thee, my good poet, my noble prophet, my little fat Horace.--I scorn to beat the rogue in the court; and I saluted him thus fair, because he should suspect nothing, the rascal. Come, we'll go see how far forward our journeyman is toward the untrussing of him. [Exeunt.

SCENE VI. Enter HORACE, MECAENAS, LUPUS, HISTRIO, and Lictors.

Cris. Do you hear, captain? I'll write nothing in it but innocence, because I may swear I am innocent.

Hor. Nay, why pursue you not the emperor for your reward now, Lupus?

Mec. Stay, Asinius; You and your stager, and your band of lictors: I hope your service merits more respect, Than thus, without a thanks, to be sent hence.

His. Well, well, jest on, jest on.

Hor. Thou base, unworthy groom!

Lup. Ay, ay, 'tis good.

Hor. Was this the treason, this the dangerous plot, Thy clamorous tongue so bellow'd through the court? Hadst thou no other project to encrease Thy grace with Caesar, but this wolfish train, To prey upon the life of innocent mirth And harmless pleasures, bred of noble wit? Away! I loath thy presence; such as thou, They are the moths and scarabs of a state, The bane of empires, and the dregs of courts; Who, to endear themselves to an employment, Care not whose fame they blast, whose life they endanger;


The Poetaster - 20/49

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