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SWELLFOOT THE TYRANT.
A TRAGEDY IN TWO ACTS, TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL DORIC.
Choose Reform or Civil War,
When through thy streets, instead of hare with dogs,
A CONSORT-QUEEN shall hunt a King with hogs,
Riding on the IONIAN MINOTAUR.
ADVERTISEMENT. Thrs Tragedy is one of a triad, or system of three Plays, (an arrangement according to which the Greeks were accustomed to connect their Dramatic representations,) elucidating the wonderful and appalling fortunes of the SWELLFOOT dynasty. It was evidently written by some learned Theban, and from its characteristic dulness, apparently before the duties on the importation of Attic salt had been repealed by the Boeotarchs. The tenderness with which he beats the Pigs proves him to have been a sus Bæotiæ ; possibly Epicuri de grege Porcus ; for, as the poet observes,
"A fellow feeling makes us wondrous kind." No liberty has been taken with the translation of this remarkable piece of autiquity, except the suppressing a seditious and blasphemous chorus of the Pigs and Bulls at the last act. The word Hoydipouse, (or more properly Edipus,) has been rendered literally SWELLFOOT, without its having been conceived necessary to determine whether a swelling of the hind or the fore feet of the Swinish Monarch is particularly indicated.
Should the remaining portions of this Tragedy be found, entitled, “ Swellfoot in Angaria,” and “ Charité," the Translator might be tempted to give them to the reading Public.
The GADFLY. TYRANT SWELLFOOT, King of Thebes.
The LEECH. IONA TAURINA, his Queen.
MAMMON, Arch-Priest of Famine.
Wizards, Ministers of
Moses, the Sorc-gelder,
SOLOMON, the Porkman. LAOCTONOS,
ZEPHANIAH, Pig-butcher. CHORUS of the Swinish MultitudeGuards, Attendants, Priests, &c. &c.
SCENE 1.-A magnificent Temple, built of thigh-bones and death's
heads, and tiled with scalps. Over the Altar the statue of Pamine, veiled ; a number of boars, sows, and sucking-pigs, crowned with thistle, shamrock, and oak, sitting on the steps,
and clinging round the Altar of the Temple. Enter SWELLFoot, in his royal robes, without perceiving the Pigs.
Swellfoot. Thou supreme Goddess ! by whose power divine These graceful limbs are clothed in proud array
[He contemplates himself with satisfaction,
Of gold and purple, and this kingly paunch
Swells like a sail before a favouring breeze,
And these most sacred nether promontories
Lie satisfied with layers of fat; and these
Baotian cheeks, like Egypt's pyramid,
(Nor with less toil were their foundations laid, *)
Sustain the cone of my untroubled brain,
That point, the emblem of a pointless nothing!
Thou to whom Kings and laurelled Emperors,
Bishops and deacons, and the entire army
Of those fat martyrs to the persecution
Of stilling turtle-soup, and brandy-devils,
Offer their secret vows! Thou plenteous Ceres
Of their Eleusis, bail !
The Swine. Eigh ! eigh ! eigh ! eigh !
Ha! what are ye,
Who, crowned with leaves devoted to the Furies,
Cling round this sacred shrine ?
Svine. Aigh ! aigh ! aigh !
What! ye that are
The very beasts that offered at her altar
With blood and groans, salt-cake, and fat, and inwards,
Ever propitiate her reluctant will
When taxes are withheld ?
Swine. Ugh ! ugh! ugh !
What ! ye who grub
With filthy snouts my red potatoes up
In Allan's rushy bog? Who eat the oats
Up, from my cavalry in the Hebrides?
* See Universal History for an account of the number of people who died and the immenso consumption of garlic by the wretched Egyptians, who made a sepulchre for the name as well as the bodies of their tyrants.
Who swill the hog-wash soup my cooks digest
From bones, and rags, and scraps of shoe-leather,
Which should be given to cleaner pigs than you ?
THE SWINE. - SEMICHORUS I.
The same, alas ! the same;
Though only now the name
Of pig remains to me.
If 'twere your kingly will
Us wretched swine to kill,
What should we yield to thee?
Swellfoot. Why skin and bones, and some few hairs for mortar.
CHORUS OF SWINE,
I have heard your Laureate sing,
That pity was a royal thing;
Under your mighty ancestors, we pigs
Were bless'd as nightingales on myrtle sprigs,
Or grasshoppers that live on noon-day dew,
And sung, old annals tell, as sweetly too:
But now our sties are fallen in, we catch
The Murrain and the mange, the scab and itch;
Sometimes your royal dogs tear down our thatch,
And then we seek the shelter of a ditch;
Hog-wash or grains, or ruta-baga, none
Has yet been ours since your reign begun.
My pigs, 'tis in vain to tug !
I could almost eat my litter !
I suck, but no milk will come from the dug.
Our skin and our bones would be bitter.
We fight for this rag of greasy rug,
Though a trough of wash would be fitter.
Happier swine were they than we,
Drowned in the Gadarean sea-
I wish that pity would drive out the devils
Which in your royal bosom hold their revels,
And sink us in the waves of your compassion !
Alas! the pigs are an unhappy nation !
Now if your majesty would have our bristles
To bind your mortar with, or fill our colons
With rich blood, or make brawn out of our gristles,
In policy-ask else your royal Solons--
You ought to give us hog-wash and clean straw,
And sties well thatched; besides, it is the law !
Swell foot. This is sedition, and rank blasphemy ! Ho! there, my guards !
Enter a GUARD.
Your sacred Majesty ?
Swellfoot. Call in the Jews, Solomon the court porkman,
Moses the sow-gelder, and Zephaniah the hog-butcher.
Guard. They are in waiting, sire.
Enter SOLOMON, MOSES, and ZEPHANIAH.
Swellfoot. Out with your knife, old Moses, and spay those 30ws,
[The Pigs run about in consternation.
That load the earth with pigs ; cut close and deep.
Moral restraint I see has no effect,
Nor prostitution, nor our own example,
Starvation, typhus-fever, war, nor prison-
This was the art which the arch-priest of Famine
Hinted at in his charge to the Theban clergy-
Cut close and deep, good Moses.
Let your majesty
Keep the boars quiet, else-
That fat hog's throat, the brute seems overfed ;
Seditious hunks ! to whine for want of grains.
Zephaniah. Your sacred majesty, he has the dropsy ;-
We shall find pints of hydatids in 's liver,
He has not half an inch of wholesome fat
l'pon his carious ribs-
'Tis all the same,
He'll serve instead of riot-money, when
Our murmuring troops bivouaque in Thebes' streets ;
And January winds, after a day
Of butchering, will make them relish carrion.
Now, Solomon, I'll sell you in a lump
The whole kit of them.
Why, your majesty,
I could not give-
Kill them out of the way,
That shall be price enough, and let me hear
Their everlasting grunts and whines no more !
[Exeunt, driving in the Swine. Enter Mammon, the Arch Priest ; and PURGANAX, Chief of the
Council of Wizards.
Purganax. The future looks as black as death, a cloud,
Dark as the frown of Hell, hangs over it-
The troops grow mutinous—the revenue fails-
There's something rotten in us—for the level
Of the State slopes, its very bases topple;
The boldest turn their backs upon themselves!
Mammon. Why what's the matter, my dear fellow, now?
Do the troops mutiny ?-decimate some regiments;
Does money fail ?-come to my mint-coin paper,
Till gold be at a discount, and, ashamed
To show his bilious face, go purge himself,
In emulation of her vestal whiteness.
Purganax. Oh, would that this were all ! The oracle !
Mammon. Why it was I who spoke that oracle,
And whether I was dead drunk or inspired,
I cannot well remember; nor, in truth,
The oracle itself !
Purganax. The words went thus:-
“ Baotia, choose reform or civil war !
When through the streets, instead of hare with dogs,
A Consort-Queen shall hunt a King with hogs,
Riding on the Ionian Minotaur."
Mammon. Now if the oracle had ne'er foretold
This sad alternative, it must arrive,
Or not, and so it must now that it has ;
And whether I was urged by grace divine,
Or Lesbian liquor to declare these words,
Which must, as all words must, be false or true;
It matters not: for the same power made all,
Oracle, wine, and me and you-or none-
'Tis the same thing. If you know as much
Of oracles as I do-
Believe in nothing; if you were to dream
Of a particular number in the lottery,
You would not buy the ticket!
Yet our tickets
Are seldom blanks. But what steps have you taken!
For prophecies, when once they get abroad,
Like liars who tell the truth to serve their ends,
Or hypocrites, who, from assuming virtue,
Do the same actions that the virtuous do,
Contrive their own fulfilment. This Iona-
Well-you know what the chaste Pasiphae did,
Wife to that most religious King of Crete,
And still how popular the tale is here;
And these dull swine of Thebes boast their descent
From the free Minotaur. You know they still
Call themselves bulls, though thus degenerate ;
And everything relating to a bull
Is popular and respectable in Thebes :
Their arms are seven bulls in a field gules.
They think their strength consists in eating beef,-
Now there were danger in the precedent
If Queen Iona-
Purganax. I have taken good care