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'Yes, you may dye your hair, but not your age,
Nor smooth, alas, the wrinkles of your face;
Yes, you may varnish o'er the tell-tale page,
And wear a mask for every vanished grace.
But there's an end; no Hecuba, by aid
Of rouge and cerouse, is a Helen made.'

'Of all life's plagues I recommend to no man
To hire as a domestic a deaf woman.

I've got one who my orders does not hear,
Mishears them rather, and keeps blundering near.
Thirsty and hot, I asked her for a drink ;

She bustled out, and brought me back some ink.
Eating a good rump-steak, I called for mustard;
Away she went, and whipped me up a custard.
I can't my voice raise higher and still higher,
As if I were a herald or town-crier.

'Twould better be if she were deaf outright
But anyhow, she quits my house this night.'

'A blockhead bit by fleas put out the light,
And chuckling cried, now you can't see to bite.'
'Asclepiades, the miser, in his house,

Espied one day, with some surprise a mouse;
Tell me, dear mouse, he cried, to what cause is it
I owe this pleasant but unlooked-for visit?
The mouse said, smiling, fear not for your hoard,
I come, my friend, to lodge, and not to board.'

'A viper bit a Capadocian's hide;

But 'twas the viper, not the man, that died.'

The contents of the seventh and last division are of a miscellaneous kind :

'Deficient one in limbs, and one in eyes,

Each with the other's help his want supplies;
The blind man lifts the lame man on his back,
And by the other's words directs his track.
Wholesome necessity this lesson taught,-
By mutual pity, mutual aid was brought.'

'The Bird of Phoebus, parched with thirst's dire pain,
A housewife's pitcher spied, for catching rain;
He perched, loud croaking, on the brim, but no-
Too short his beak, the water much too low.
Thy power then, Phoebus, in the bird inspired
An artifice to gain what he desired;
With gathered pebbles quickly to the brink
He raised the water's level, and could drink.'

'My gallant ship now nears my native shore ;
To-morrow-and her stormy course is o'er.
To-morrow when my lips these words had said,
A sea like hades, raving o'er my head,
Engulfed me; and destruction round me clung,
For this vain vaunting of a froward tongue.
Say not to-morrow; the tongue's slightest slip,
Nemesis watches, ere it pass the lip.'

'The old draught-ox, worn in the furrowed field,
Alcon to ruthless slaughter would not yield,
His toils revering; in deep pasture now
He lows, and feels his freedom from the plough.'

'A roadside nut-tree planted, here I stand
A mark for every passing schoolboy's hand;
My boughs and flourishing twigs all broke or bent,
Wounded by many a missile at me sent.

What boots it now that trees should fruitful be?
My very fruit brings this disgrace on me.'

Fortune and hope farewell, I've gained the port;
You've fooled me long-make others now your sport.'

All the foregoing extracts are from Lord Neaves' collection.

PLAUTUS.

DIED B.C. 184.

HE Roman drama, more than any other branch of their literature, was an inheritance from Greece.

The plays, however, which, during a period of five hundred years, amused a Roman audience, possessed neither the brilliant burlesque, the keen satire, the wealth of allusion, nor the extravagant wit of Aristophanes. The oligarchy at Rome would not permit the freedom of speech on the stage which delighted the democracy at Athens. The dramatists of those days were disciples of Menander, and drew their characters from such general types of human nature as would offend no one with the idea that his own private weaknesses were being ridiculed or attacked; and of such comedies those of Plautus and Terence are all that have come down to us.

Menander was born at Athens B.C. 342, and won his first prize as a comic writer when he had barely attained manhood. Fragments only of his plays have been preserved, but their teaching is expressed in the following lines:—

'Being a mortal, ask not of the gods

Escape from suffering; ask but to endure;
For if thou seekest to be ever free

From pain and evil, then thou seekest this,—
To be a god, or die.'

Collins.

They appear to have contained very little of broad fun or comic situations; but he had carefully studied the various

M

phases of human nature, as a couplet written a century after his death testifies :

'O life, and O Menander! speak and say

Which copied which? or nature, or the play.'

The mask, which all ancient performers wore, made any play of the features impossible, and thus the sphere of the author's invention was restricted to generally recognised impersonations. The limited capacity, also, of the scenic arrangements required that the characters should be few and broadly marked. The action of a piece often depended upon the parts assigned to slaves, who were represented as far superior to their masters, both in witty reply and practical wisdom, Menander maintaining a higher tone respecting slavery than his Roman imitators; for he says,

'Live as a free man, and it makes thee free.'

The entire absence of love-scenes was another peculiarity in these dramas; for although there was generally a love story, the audience were never allowed to see the lady. Nor was the author very complimentary respecting marriages, although he admits that

'A virtuous woman is a man's salvation;
A good wife is the rudder of the house.'

He is also honest enough to lay the fault of ill-assorted matches at the door of those who have to choose, as much as of those who are chosen :

'What boots it to be curious as to lineage,

Who was her grandfather, and her mother's mother,
Which matters nought; while, for the bride herself,

Her whom we have to live with, what She is,

In mind or temper, this we never ask.

They bring the dowry out, and count it down,

The gold which some few months shall see the end of;

While she who at our hearth must sit through life,
We make no trial of, put to no proof,

Before we take her, but trust all to chance.'

Collins.

In most of his plays a soldier of fortune is introduced who indulges in long stories of his exploits, and is some

-

times accompanied by a parasite to act as his foil or toady; a character common enough in Athens and Rome, but which has not found its way into the modern drama, although not unknown in society as 'the diner out.' Then there was the female slave, corresponding with our pert waiting-maid, the old nurse, and, occasionally, the family cook.

It has been remarked that Menander was more adapted to instruct than to entertain; and some of his passages breathe a high tone of morality, for example,

Also,

and,

'The gods have need

That man be good unto his fellow-men,

Nor thief, nor murderer from the lust of gain,
Nay covet not so much as a needle's thread,
For One stands by who sees and watches all.'

'He is well cleansed that hath his conscience clean ;'

'The workman still is greater than his work ;'

as well as the sentence adopted by St Paul,

'Evil communications corrupt good manners.'

In short, the number of quotations from the fragments of his plays, which have passed into household proverbs, show the estimation in which his works were held by those who had access to them in their integrity.

PLAUTUS is supposed to have been of humble origin, and to have worked originally as a stage carpenter; but he possessed the art of writing plays, almost without a rival in popularity, for a period of forty years. All, with one exception, were taken from Greek originals, but he gives us the Roman manners of his day, and his characters are citizens of the world. His diction, also, has been highly praised, and he was perhaps the first who raised conversational Latin to the dignity of a literary style. His plays generally commenced with a prologue, which gave an outline of the plot, and also contained familiar appeals to the audience as to their behaviour during the performance. His ten principal comedies were :—

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