Do I know that you are my father? Let us take the question to pieces, as Melesigenes would say. First, then, we must inquire what is knowledge? Secondly, what is a father? By Pallas, if he is in the habit of putting shoes on his fleas, he is kinder to them than to himself. But listen to me, boy; if you go on in this way, you will be ruined. There is an argument for you. Go to your Socrates and your Melesigenes, and tell them to refute that. Do you hear? Ay, by Jupiter! Is such a show as you make to be supported on nothing?
During all the last war, I made not an obol from my farm; the Peloponnesian locusts came almost as regularly as the Pleiades;—corn burnt;—olives stripped;—fruit trees cut down;—wells stopped up;—and, just when peace came, and I hoped that all would turn out well, you must begin to spend as if you had all the mines of Thasus at command. Oh, yes! I suppose you will wander from house to house, like that wretched buffoon Philippus 2 , and beg every body who has asked a supper-party to be so kind as to feed you and laugh at you; or you will turn sycophant; you will get a bunch of grapes, or a pair of shoes, now and then, by frightening some rich coward with a mock prosecution.
Then what, in the name of Juno, is your scheme? Do you intend to join Orestes, 1 and rob on the highway? Take care; beware of the eleven; 2 beware of the hemlock. What say you to politics,—the general assembly? You an orator!
Cleon was worth twenty such fools as you. You have succeeded, I grant, to his impudence, for which, if there be justice in Tartarus, he is now soaking up to the eyes in his own tan-pickle. But the Paphlagonian had parts. Not I. You are a Pericles in embryo, doubtless.
Well: and when are you to make your first speech?
I thought of speaking, the other day, on the Sicilian expedition; but Nicias 3 got up before me. The loss of your oration is, doubtless, an irreparable public calamity. Why, not so; I intend to introduce it at the next assembly; it will suit any subject. That is to say, it will suit none. But pray, if it be not too presumptuous a request, indulge me with a specimen. Well; suppose the agora crowded;—an important subject under discussion;—an ambassador from Argos, or from the great king;—the tributes from the islands;—an impeachment;—in short, anything you please.
The crier makes proclamation. Of curiosity! You will infallibly be dragged down by main force, like poor Glaucon 1 last year. I shall choke with rage. Oh, all ye gods and goddesses, what sacrilege, what perjury have I ever committed, that I should be singled out from among all the citizens of Athens to be the father of this fool?
What now? By Bacchus, old man, I would not advise you to give way to such fits of passion in the streets. If Aristophanes were to see you, you would infallibly be in a comedy next spring. You have more reason to fear Aristophanes than any fool living.
Meantime on every holiday he was off to his beloved Border, to Kelso, to Jedburgh, to the Northumbrian side of the Cheviots, whence he wrote rollicking epistles to his friends. The lower part of his face, with its long upper lip and heavy jowl, gave him a slightly lumpish air—till he smiled, when the whole countenance became whimsical and kindly. The request came at a moment when Scott had suddenly marched into literary fame, and saw before him a career very different from that of an advocate in small practice. Thomas Moore tells of a conversation he once had with him. Farther east, another crossing was in process of making, a bridge to carry a broad highway. Tempting Mr. Jacqueline Diamond.
Oh, that he could but hear you trying to imitate the slang of Straton 2 and the lisp of Alcibiades! You would console him for the loss of Cleon. No, no. I may perhaps figure at the dramatic representations before long; but in a very different way. Oh Hercules! Oh Bacchus! This is too much. Here is an universal genius; sophist,—orator,—poet. To what a three-headed monster have I given birth! And pray what may your piece be about? Or will your tragedy, like your speech, serve equally for any subject?
I thought of several plots;—Odipus,—Eteocles and Polynices,—the war of Troy, the murder of Agamemnon.
And, as there is an absurd prejudice, among the vulgar, in favour of his extravagant pieces, I have selected one of them, and altered it. But I have framed it anew upon the model of Euripides. By Bacchus, I shall make Sophocles and Agathon look about them. You would not know the play again. I have omitted the whole of the absurd dialogue between Vulcan and Strength, at the beginning.
That may be, on the whole, an improvement. The play will then open with that grand soliloquy of Prometheus, when he is chained to the rock. Ye rushing winds!
Ye fountains of great streams! Ye ocean waves, That in ten thousand sparkling dimples wreathe Your azure smiles! All-generating earth! All-seeing sun! On you, on you, I call. Well, I allow that will be striking; I did not think you capable of that idea. Why do you laugh? Do you seriously suppose that one who has studied the plays of that great man, Euripides, would ever begin a tragedy in such a ranting style?
You are sneering. Really, father, you do not understand these things. You had not those advantages in your youth—.
Miss Clarkson's Classmate: Signet Regency Romance (InterMix) - Kindle edition by Sharon Sobel. Romance Kindle eBooks @ posati.cf Miss Clarkson's Classmate: Signet Regency Romance (InterMix) and millions of other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more. Enter your mobile.
Which I have been fool enough to let you have. No; in my early days, lying had not been dignified into a science, nor politics degraded into a trade. I saw the representation of the Persians.
A wretched play; it may amuse the fools who row the triremes; but it is utterly unworthy to be read by any man of taste. If you had seen it acted;—the whole theatre frantic with joy, stamping, shouting, laughing, crying. When the crowd remarked him—But where are you going? To sup with Alcibiades; he sails with the expedition for Sicily in a few days; this is his farewell entertainment.