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“ The speech of Petreius in THE CATILINE of this author, I have always thought one of the most magnificent passages in the whole compass of English literature,- listen.”
“ Petreius. The straits and needs of Catiline being such, As he must fight with one of the two armies That then had near enclosed him, it pleased fate To make us th’ object of his desperate choice, Wherein the danger almost poised the honour : And, as he rose, the day grew black with him, And fate descended nearer to the earth, As if she meant to hide the name of things Under her wings, and make the world her quarry. At this we roused, lest one small minute's stay Had left it to be inquired what Rome was ; And (as we ought) arm'd in the confidence Of our great cause, in form of battle stood, Whilst Catiline came on, not with the face Of any man, but of a public ruin : His countenance was a civil war itseif; And all his host had, standing in their looks, The paleness of the death that was to come ; Yet cried they out like vultures, and urged on, As if they would precipitate our fates. Nor stay'd we longer for 'em, but himself Struck the first stroke, and with it fled a life, Which out, it seem'd a narrow neck of land Had broke between two mighty seas, and either Flow'd into other; for so did the slaughter; And whirl'd about, as when two violent tides Meet and not yield. The furies stood on hills, Circling the place, and trembling to see men Do more than they ; whilst piety left the field, Grieved for that side, that in so bad a cause They knew not what a crime their valour was.
The sun stood still, and was, behind a cloud
Cato. A brave bad death!
“ It is very fine," said Benedict; “ but, after all, my love, I should not much like to see many of the old dramatists, even with all their merits, restored to
the use of the general reader. You will find, I suspect, that they have deservedly fallen into obscurity on account of their impure language and gross allusions. It may be said of them all as it was said of Marston by one of his contemporaries, He cared not for modest close-couched terms, but dealt in plain naked words, stripped from their shirts.?”
“ And yet,” replied the nymph, “ a judicious selection from their works would be a valuable addition to the library of the boudoir. Many passages of Marston himself are of the very highest order of poetry. Look at his explanation of what it is to be a king."
“ Why, man, I never was a prince till now.
: “ The description of Antonio's visit to the vaults
in which the body of his father lies, affords also a specimen of very splendid poetry.”
“ I purify the air with odorous fume. Graves, vaults, and tombs, groan not to bear my weight. Cold flesh, bleak trunks, wrapt in your half-rot shrouds, I press you softly with a tender foot. Most honour'd sepulchre, vouchsafe a wretch Leave to weep o'er thee. Tomb, I'll not be long Ere I creep in thee, and with bloodless lips Kiss my cold father's cheek. I pr’ythee, grave, Provide soft mould to wrap my carcass in. Thou royal spirit of Andrugio, where'er thou hoverest, (Airy intellect) I heave up tapers to thee (view thy son), On celebration of due obsequies. Once every night I'll dew thy funeral hearse With my religious tears. O blessed father of a cursed son ! Thou diedst most happy, since thou livedst not To see thy son most wretched, and thy wife Pursued by him that seeks my guiltless blood. O, in what orb thy mighty spirit soars, Stoop and beat down this rising fog of shame, That strives to blur thy blood, and girt defame About my innocent and spotless brows."
“ And the death of Mellida is full of tenderness and beauty. The fool alluded to is Antonio in dis
“ Being laid upon her bed, she grasp'd my hand,
And do I live to say Antonio's dead ? .!
6 And, my dear Benedict, could even you yourself say any thing finer than the lewd Marston has done of conjugal love ?”
“ If love be holy, if that mystery