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Greek Tragic Scenes.--Euripides.

have escaped the difficulties which at pressed. The 30th, is an eulogium
last brought him to a miserable end. in verse, on the “Good Marzucco,
The 11th is to Buonaggiunta, pro- and we may well suppose it to have
bably the poet of that name and a originated in that very act recorded
friend of Dante's, who nevertheless of him with such noble simplicity by
has noted him for his gluttony, and Dante.
accordingly placed him in the 24th In the course of these letters we
canto of his Purgatory. In the 17th find Guittone referring for his autho-
to Marzucco Scornigiano, whom the rity to the Provençal writers, and
same poet has immortalized for his particularly to Pierre Vidal, who is
forgiveness of the murderer of his supposed to be one of those introduc-
son, (Purg. c. 6.) Guittone asks for ed by Petrarch in the 4th Capitolo
a sum of money which had been lent of the Triumph of Love, when he
by his father, Viva di Michele, to says:
Marzucco. It is couched in the
most respectful terms, and concludes

Eranvi quei, ch' amor si lieve afferra

L'un Pietro e l'altro. thus. “Ma se pur piace voi, che perder deggia, vinto di cio mi chiamo; The notes appended to his letters e non solamente essa moneta più vi by Giovanni Bottari, in the edition of dimando, ma l'autra, che m'è rimasa them printed at Rome in 4to. 1745, e m'è appresso, prometto al piacere would have done credit to the dilis vostro, servendo voi; che il pregio gence and learning of a Tyrwhitt. del valor vostro, m'ha sì congiunto a There is no need to repeat here sè, non puomi dispiacere cosa, che what is said of Guittone by Dante piaccia a voi voler di me.” P. 49. and Petrarch. Little is known of his * But yet if it please you that I history, but that he founded a monasshould be at the loss, I give up my tery at Florence, and died in 1294. claim; and am so far from demand- Bottari speaks of one manuscript ing this money of you more, that the in the Vatican, which contains thirtyrest which remains with me I proffer four of his canzoni, and seventy-five to your service and pleasure ; for so of his sonnets; and adds, that if all bound am I unto you for your wor- his unpublished works were collected, thiness, that the thing cannot dis- they would form a large volume. Í please me, which it may please you know not whether this has been to desire of me.” The 25th, a long since done at Florence, where a few letter to Messer Cacciaguerra, is in years ago there was a design of puba fine strain of morality finely ex- lishing their ancient poets,


No. III.



The personal introduction of the in its simplicity, and the little cirFuries, which the vigorous and bold cumstances of pathetic tenderness in fancy of Æschylus enabled him to which Euripides delights. Laharpe attempt and achieve, was an expe- is, however, mistaken when he says riment that could never be repeat- that affecting pathos is the single ed. “Within that circle none durst department of tragedy in which walk but he.” Euripides wisely Euripides can be said to counterstruck out a different track, and balance the superior advantages of made the ministers of retribution in- Sophocles : he is infinitely the most visible to the eye of the spectators. copious, and commands the greatest We are left in doubt as to their bodily variety of powers, of all the three presence, or their sole existence as great dramatists of Greece. No sinphantoms of a haunted conscience. gle extract can ever convey an adeThis is managed with no little poeti- quate and entire impression of his cal sublimity: but the scene is chiefly genius. His reasoning or argumen, remarkable for the touches of nature tative speeches have been copier? much by the French tragic poets: cerity and earnestness with which though with the latter we have the personage of the drama argues usually the poet saying ingenious his cause. The accusation of Orestes things, and displaying his knowledge by Tyndarus, and the defence of the of the effect of antithesis and epi- former, rank among the very best ingrammatic point: with Euripides stances of natural and powerful draour attention is engaged by the sin- matic pleading.

ELECTRA watching by the couch of ORESTES.

To her Helen enters.
Helen. Daughter of Clytemnestra and Atrides,

Too long a virgin, sad Electra, say
How fares it with thee now, and with thy brother,
Orestes, the poor wretch who slew his mother?
I do not fear pollution from thy converse,
Since to Apollo I transfer the crime.
Yet must I mourn the fate of Clytemnestra,
My sister, whom I saw not when I sail'd
For Troy, howe'er it happen'd that I saila,
Stung by some heaven-sent frenzy; but I feel

Her loss, and cannot choose but weep her fortune.
Electra. O Helen! what, what shall I say to thee?

Thou art a near eye-witness to the woes
Of Agamemnon's children. Here I sit
Sleepless, and tend a miserable corse-
For he is little better than a corse
Gasping for breath; I do not aggravate
His misery. Happy as thou art, with him
Thy happy husband, ye are visitors

Of those who fare most wretchedly.

How long
Has he thus lain thrown prostrate on the bed?
Electra. Since he dispatch'd our mother.

O lost man!
And she that bore him—what a death she suffer'd!
Electra. In such a strait, I sink beneath my sorrows,
Helen. One thing, O maiden! I conjure you grant me.
Electra. What leisure have I, nursing my sick brother?
Helen. Indulge my wish, visit my sister's tomb.
Electra. My mother's wouldst thou say? and what thy purpose ?
Helen. Take my clipp'd locks and pour my grave-libation.
Electra. Shouldst thou not visit thy own sister's grave?
Helen. I blush to show my person to the Greeks.
Electra. Too late discreet, for shameless thy elopement.
Helen. Thou speak’st of me most truly, but not kindly.
Electra. Why should’st thou blush to meet the Mycenæans ?
Helen. I dread the fathers of the slain at Troy.
Electra. The Argives too cry terribly against thee.
Helen. Then ease me of this fear: do me this grace.
Electra. I cannot look upon my mother's grave.
Helen. A female slave were not a seemly bearer.
Electra. Then why not send Hermione thy daughter ?
TIelen. To walk in public ill becomes a virgin.
Electra. 'Twere a return to the deceased who rear'd her.
Helen. Thou hast well said, and I consent, О maiden !

To send my daughter; for thy words have reason.
Hermione, my child, go from the house,
Carrying the tomb-libations, and these locks,
And coming to the grave of Clytemnestra
Drop there the frothy wine, the milk and honey,
And standing on the mount, address these words:
“ Thy sister Helen sends thee these grave-offeriugs:

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She ventures not t’ approach thy monument
Fearing the Argive multitude :” conjure
That she be mild to me and to my husband,
And to thyself, and those two wretched beings
Thus by a God undone: and what behoves
Of duty to be render'd to a sister,
Promise from me in presents for the dead.
Go, haste, my child, and having laid the offerings

Upon the tomb, retrace thy footsteps quickly, (They go out.)
Electra. Oh natural gifts ! ye are to men a mischief!

Healthful to those alone who use you well.
See how she clips her tresses at the points,
Still to be charming ! the same woman still.
Ah! may the Gods abhor thee, the destroyer
Of me and him and Greece. Ah! wretched me!
But at my lamentations they approach,
My sympathizing friends; and presently
They will disturb him from his quiet sleep;
And they will dim my eyes with tears, to see
My frantic brother. Softly, dearest ladies!
In your approach; tread lightly; make no noise :
I take your friendship kindly to myself ;
But were he waked, it would be sore affliction.


Chorus of Young Damsels, the Friends of Electra.
Chorus. Softly, softly gliding o'er,

Let our sandals press the floor,

Light and noiseless be our tread:

Far, far off-avoid the bed.
Chorus. See, we heed thee.

Whisper low
As through reeds the breezes blow.
Chorus: Hush'd the converse which we keep

As the sounds that lull to sleep.
Electra. Low-'tis well- thus murmur low,

Silent come, and silent go.
Why ye come impart to me;

Long he slumbers, as you see.
Chorus. How, dear lady, fares it? say-
Electra. What can these poor lips convey

But mishap, a tale of death?

Still he breathes, but pants for breath.
Chorus. Sayst thou? wretched youth!

He dies
Should ye ope those drooping eyes,

As lapt in sweetest sleep he lies.
Chorus. Ah unhappy! for the deed

Thou hast done, by heaven decreed ;
Ah unhappy ! for the woes

That bereave thee of repose!
Electra. Wo, alas! unjust was he

When unrighteous prophesy,
As with shrieking voice he spoke,
From pure Themis' tripod broke:
And prescribed my fated brother

The lawless murder of a mother.

See, he moves the covering vest,

Tossing in his broken rest.

Luckless woman! thou hast spoken
Rudely, and his rest is broken.
I had deem'd his slumber fast:


See, ye

Electra. Will ye not depart at last,

Treading softly as ye go?
Chorus. Nay-he sleepeth.

Aye-'tis so.
Chorus. Oh night, oh solemn night,

That sheddest sleep
On trouble-wearied eyes ;
From Erebus' still deep
On downy wing
Arise, arise !
O'er Agamemnon's house thy shadows fling;
To our misfortunes and our griefs a prey

We are consumed, consumed away!

break the silence. Chorus.

Electra. Soft, soft, turn your face away,

Dearest friend that not a word
In its echo may be heard,
Where his lids in slumber close ;

Leave him-leave him to repose.
Chorus. Tell me, what can end his pain?
Electra. Death-what else? we bear in vain

Bread, that should his life sustain. Chorus. Death appears before his eyes. Electra. We are fall’n a sacrifice

To the God who doom'd to flow

Her blood that laid our father low.
Chorus. Just, but yet inglorious, blow.
Electra. Mother that bore me! thou didst shed

My father's blood, and thou art dead.
But thou within that father's tomb
Hast dragg’d the children of thy womb.
We perish-yes, we perish all
In one promiscuous funeral.
For thou art with the dead, and we
Are like to those who dwell with thee,
My life departs, my wasted years
Languish in groans and midnight tears:
Husband or child consoles me never ;

See ! what a wretched life I drag for ever.
Chorus. Draw near to him Electra: look upon

The couch on which he lies : 'he may be gone
And scape thy watchfulness: it likes not me

Where the stretch'd limbs hang loose as those I ser. Orestes. O sleep! O friendly balm! relief from pain!

How pleasant is thy seasonable coming !
O blest oblivion of calamities,
How wise thou art! Power whom the wretched pray for !
Whence did I come, and how am

come hither?
I have forgot the past; my mind has wander'd.
Electra. Oh dearest! thou hast fall’n asleep: this glads me!

Shall I now touch thee tenderly and raise thee? Orestes. Yes—raise me, raise me: wipe the clammy foam

From my spent lips; the moisture from my eyelids. Electra. See'tis my pleasant duty: nor refuse I

To tend thy person with my sister hands. Orestes. Lie down beside me: part the matted hair

That hides my face: I scarce can see the light. Electra. How thy poor head is tangled with its locks!

How haggard look'st thou, to the bath a stranger! Orestes. Lay me again upon the couch: the fit

Of frenzy leaves me weak, and my limbs fail me.

Electra. See how his bed is welcome to the patient !

Irksome possession! but he needs must keep it. Orestes. Place me again upright, and lean me forward. Chorus.

Fastidious are the sick, beset with wants. Electra. Say, wilt thou set thy feet upon the floor

With slow alternate steps? change best refreshes. Orestes. Ayethough this be not health, it has the semblance;

The semblance pleases, though we miss the substance. Electra. Hark now, dear brother! while the Furies spare thee. Orestes. What hast thou new? if good it will be welcome:

If evil, I've enough of ills already. Electra. Thy uncle Menelaus is arrived;

His galley anchors in the port of Nauplia.
Orestes. Ha! comes he as a light to our misfortunes,

He who has known the bounty of my father?
Electra. He comes: that you may trust my tidings, know

He brings his Helen from the walls of Troy.
Orestes. Were he alone he might be envied more:

Leading his wife he brings a mischief with him. Electra. Aye-for from Tyndarus a race of daughters

Sprang, the reproach and infamy of Greece. Orestes. Be thou unlike those vile ones, for thou ayst:

Arraign them not in speech, but in thy heart. Electra. Ah me! my brother! how thine eye rolls troubled !

Thy rage is coming on, though sane but now ! Orestes. O mother! I beseech thee set not on me

Those snake-hair'd women dabbled all with blood :

"Tis they—'tis they—they leap upon me now. Electra. Rest thou, poor sufferer! tranquil in thy bed:

Thou think'st thou clearly seest them, yet seest nothing. Orestes. They'll kill me, Phæbus !-those grim Goddesses,

Dog-visaged, gorgon-eyed, Hell's priestesses !
Electra. I will not let thee go, but twine my hands

Around thee, and prevent thy cruel leaps.
Orestes. Ha! loose methou art one of those my furies;

Thou clasp’st my waist to cast me down to hell.
Electra. O wretched that I am! how shall I aid

In his distress ? the God is most unfriendly. Orestes. Give me the horn-tipp'd bow, Apollo's gift,

To drive the Furies, when they scared me, hence.
Electra. Can Gods be wounded by a mortal hand ?
Orestes. Aye-if they will not vanish from mine eyes.

Hear ye not? see ye not how the notch'd arrow
Twangs on the quivering bowstring ere it fly?
Ha! wherefore loiter ye? mount on your wings
Into the sky: accuse his oracles.
Ah! wherefore do I faint? why does my breath
Gasp in quick pants? how came it that I sprang
Wide from the couch ? _The storm subsides—'tis calm.
Why weep'st thou, sister! nestling thus thy cheek
Within my bosom's vesture? I am shamed
To make thee share my sufferings, and afflict
Thy virgin softness with my malady.
Pine not for what I suffer: thou indeed
Consented’st, but the murder of my mother
Was my own act: Apollo is to blame,
Who urged me on to this impiety,
Giving me mere lip-comfort, and none else :
I think if in the presence of my father
I could have ask'd if I should slay my mother,
He would have * clasp'd my knees with many prayers,

* In the original “ adjured me by my beard."

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