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horror and disgust. She who yesterday hung caressing upon a husband's neck, to-day does the last kind office, by dragging his body from her presence by a rope. Some boldly determine to die together, and plunge into one another's arms, and meet a common death, giving and taking the poison of infection. Others, under the influence of despair, sit down to meet their enemy, thus inviting his stroke; others, but wounded by his unerring blow, wander raving and lunatic, unharming others, for the grass is growing in the market-place, and in the busiest scenes of bustle there is a deadly and unnatural tranquillity. In short, the finest and the most appalling events of all antiquity are crowded together into one brief space-in a single week all the events in the long roll of the history of human passions are run over, far too rapidly for the pen of the witness to record them. If then the history of one fatal crime, or of the calamities of one unfortunate sufferer, have been such instruments in the hand of the poet, what a million-headed tragedy is the plague? The robber, the ravisher, the miser, the hero, the devotee, the impostor, the unnatural father or mother, the impetuous lover, the insidious villain, the faithful friend, the angelic female, the lustful hypocrite, all perform their parts, and show themselves in their true colours. The mask is dropped, there is no time for duplicity, the shortest way to the end desired must be pursued when the time for all is so brief. As for changes of fortune, no period is so rich as this; the distant heir in a day sees all obstacles removed between him and immense wealth, but alas ! he dies in taking possession; the poor are rich, and the rich are poor, for he who has lands and houses, unless he have money, is poor indeed. He rolls in wealth he cannot touch, and his wife or child may die for“ a drachm of Mithridate” before he can avail himself of a farthing. Credit is gone, for both the debtor and creditor will shift the scene before the bill is paid; the acknowledged thief prowls about with impunity, because judge, and jury, and witness, are in all probability doomed to death before the day of trial. · When such are the incidents of the plague, together with a host of others even more remarkable, can we wonder that many poets have taken the idea from Thucydides, and presented the subject in various points of view ? Of the narration of Thucydides, we have already spoken. He appears to have been the first who found occasion to dwell upon the horrors of the plague. He did so in a manner to leave nothing to be desired. Lucretius observed the richness of the materials, and worked them into his poem, On the Nature of Things. Virgil wrote a rival description of a plague among cattle, in the Georgicș; and Ovid has made use of some characteristic touches in the Metamorphoses. The subject is allụded to by other classical poets. Statius, Silius Italicus, and Manilius, are among the number. In modern times, the recurrence of this infliction has awaked many pens to the task of recording or simplifying its calamities. Boccacio gives a sketch of the plague of Florence in the Introduction to his Decameron. Wither, in his Britain's Remembrancer, describes the great plague of London in the reign of James I., of which he was an eye-witness, and moralizes his song at very great, and we are sorry to add, tedious length. Sprat, Bishop of Rochester, versified the passages of Thucydides, which relate to this topic, and added such touches as he (very erroneously) deemed would heighten the effect. Thomson, in his Seasons, and Armstrong, in his Art of preserving Health, have some fine thoughts, and animated description, respecting this scourge of mankind. These are nearly all the authors whom our limits will allow us to quote from, in thus attempting to shew the manner in which the principal poets have succeeded in impressing their readers with deep emotions on this subject. We must also be allowed to make some extracts from a very excellent History of the Plugue at Marseilles in 1720, by M. Bertrand, himself an eyewitness and fatal sufferer from its dreadful ravages, translated not long ago by the late Miss Plumptre.

In the description of bodily ailments, however severe or fatal, there is something disgusting, and below the dignity of poetry. This is a difficulty which must have been felt by all writers on the subject, and have rendered the task of Lucretius by no means an easy one. For he was the first who ennobled perspirations, diarrhea, blanes, convulsion, and delirium, and taught disease the secret of harmony and rhythm. A catalogue of symptoms, though interesting; in the highest degree, in the historian, to say the least, sounds' flat and tedious in verse. The poet, however, has endeavoured to dignify the subject, by avoiding all familiarity of expression; and even, when dwelling upon mere personal disease, has contrived to raise deep einotions of commiseration, if not those of elevated and elevating sympathy.

The following is a very spirited picture of a patient labouring under this calamity; though minute in its detail, there is a force in the description which saves it from merely horrifying the reader.

“ Nec requies erat ulla mali : defessa jacebant
Corpora: mussabat tacito medicina timore
Quippe patentia quum totiens, ardentia morbis,
Lumina versarent oculorum, expertia somno;
Multaque præterea mortis tum signa dabantur.
Perturbata animi mens, in mærore, metuque

Triste supercilium, furiosus vultus, et acer;
Solicitæ porro, plenæque sonoribus, aures :
Creber spiritus, aut ingens, raroque coortus;
Sudorisque madens per collum splendidus humor :
Tenuia sputa, minuta, croci contacta colore,
Salsaque, per fauces rauca vix edita tussi.
In manibus vero nervi trahier, tremere artus ;
A pedibusque minutatim subcedere frigus
Non dubitabat : item, ad supremum denique tempus
Compressæ nares, nasi primoris acumen
Tenue, cavati oculi, cava tempora : frigida pellis
Duraque, inhorrebat rictum : frons tenta meabat:
Nec nimio rigidâ post strati morte jacebant;
Octavoque fere candenti lumine solis
Aut etiam nonâ reddebant lampade vitam."*

Lucretius, vi. 1176.

This is a very accurate and impressive enumeration of the symptoms which precede the fatal termination of the disorder,

*“Nor e’er relaxed the sickness: the rack'd frame
Lay all exhausting, and, in silence dread,
Appallid and doubtful, mus’d the Healing Art,
For the broad eye balls, burning with disease,
Roll'd in full stare, for ever void of sleep,
And told the pressing danger: nor alone
Told it, for many a kindred symptom throng'd
The mind's pure spirit, all despondent rav'd
The brow severe; the visage fierce and wild, .
The ears distracted, fill’d with ceaseless sounds;
Frequent the breath, or pond'rous, oft, and rare;
The neck with pearls bedew'd of glistening sweat;
Scanty the spittle, thin, of saffron dye,
Salt, with hoarse cough scarce labour'd from the throat;
The limbs each trembled; every tendon twitch'd
Spread o'er the hands; and from the feet extreme
O’er all the frame a gradual coldness crept.
'Then towards the last, the nostrils close collaps'd;
The nose acute; eyes hollow; temples scoop'd ;
Frigid the skin, řetracted; o'er the mouth
A ghastly grin; the shrivell’d forehead tense ;
The limbs outstretch'd, for instant death prepar'd;
Till with the eighth descending sun, for few
Reach'd his ninth lustre, life for ever ceas’d.” Mason Good.

all; but wing the die poet's im

but not in the least more so than many similar descriptions in Buchan's Domestic Medicine. The one is in metre, the other in prose. And we question whether measure would at all heightens the interest with which the reader dwells upon the pages of that fascinating physician. In the whole of this famous digression of Lucretius on the plague, poetry is wanting, the ennobling, embalming, sanctifying touches of the poet's imagination. He has succeeded in sustaining the dignity of his subject, and that seems to be all; but who has done this more triumphantly than Dr. Buchan. Who laughs over The Domestic Medicine? Consumption glides through a chapter, flushing with hectic beauty, smiling in decay, yet animated with virgin gaiety, and full of meekness, charity, and love. Hooping Cough barks horror through the nursery. Young Measles, little Scarlet Fever, Small Pox, and Chicken Pox, stud the page, like winged cherubs on a tombstone. Gout, and Stone, and Gravel, cry aloud in the language of Tantalus and Ixion. Fever and Inflammation cast over all the scene a red and fiery hue. Pleurisy, and Cholic, and Cancer, dance before the eyes, like imps before the fires of hell. Fainting is a relief, Headache is a change, the Vertigo is somewhat gay and airy, but leaden Apoplexy stalks slowly and sullenly, and spreads a dull cold sleep over all the book. But to return-Lucretius is, as we have observed, entirely indebted to Thucydides for every image which he employs. Virgil probably conceived the idea of describing the Plague among cattle from the former, but this is all he owes to his predecessor. Virgil is the true poet. We actually feel more sympathy with Virgil's sheep and oxen, than for the afflicted men, women, and children, of the metrical philosopher. Here are the traits of genius — how sad and melancholy is this well-known incident.

“Ecce autem, duro fumans sub vomere, taurus
Concidit, et mixtum spumis vomit ore cruorem,

Extremosque ciet gemitus. It tristis arator,
i Moerentem abjungens fraterna morte juvencum :
Atque opere in medio defixa relinquit aratra."*

Georg. iii. 515.

* “ At once the bullock falls beneath the yoke,
Blood and mixt foam beneath his nostrils smoke;
He groans his last;-the melancholy swain
Leaves the fix'd plough amid th’ unfurrow'd plain,
And frees the lonely steer, whose mournful eye
Beholds with fond regret a brother die.”


Compare Virgil's description of a horse struck by the plague, with the human sufferer of Lucretius.

“ Labitur infelix studiorum atque immemor herbæ
Victor equus, fontesque avertitur, et pede terram
Crebra ferit: demişsæ aures : incertus ibidem
Sudor, et ille quidem morituris frigidus : aret
Pellis, et ad tactum tractanti dura resistit.
Hæc ante exitium primis dant signa diebus.
Sin in processu cæpit crudescere morbus,
Tum vero ardentes oculi, atque attractus ab alto
Spiritus, interdum gemitu gravis : imaque longo
Ilia singultu tendunt; it naribus ater
Sanguis, et obsessas fauces premit aspera lingua.
Profuit inserto latices infundere cornu
Lenæos : ea visa salus morientibus una.
Mox erat hoc ipsum exitio, furiisque refecti
Ardebant, ipsique suos, jam morte sub ægra
Discissos nudis laniabant dentibus artus."*

Georg. iii. 498. Much finer, however, are the lines which describe the

* “ Forgetful of his fame, the victor's steed
Loathes the translucent rill and flow'ry mead;
Low drop his ears, his hoof oft beats the ground,
His wasted limbs in fitful sweats are drown'd:
Sweats that, as dying pangs the victim seize,
With clammy chillness life's slow current freeze.
On his dry skin the hairs in bristles stand,
Rise to the touch, and roughen on the hand;
Such the first symptoms; but the fell disease .
Mark'd by more horrid signs its dire increase; .
The eye-ball glares, deep breath, with hollow tone,
Heaves the long flanks, and bursts with frequent groan;
The tongue furr'd o'er th' obstructed palate fills,
And from the nostrils sable blood distils.
Wine, pour'd thro’ horns, that seem'd to sooth the pest,
But lull’d awhile to transitory rest,
This, their sole hope; but fruitless to assuage,
Gave to each torturing pang recruited rage;
While, with bare teeth, the steed infuriate tore
His limbs in death, and bath'd his jaws in gore." .


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