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kings, let me remind thee, surely I may be treated | daughters in the world, begotten by him under here with as much deference and solemnity as one the same serpentine form, although unknown to priest uses toward another, common mortals.
Priest. I declare it unto thee.
Alexander. I can not doubt it then.
Priest. Not all indeed of thy comeliness in form and features, but awful and majestic. It is the of Jupiter, that, like the Persian monarchs, whose sceptre he hath transferred to thee, thou marryest thy sister.
Priest. Certainly with no less, O king! Since thou hast insisted that I should devise the best means of persuading the world of this awful verity, thou wilt excuse me, in thy clemency, if my remarks and interrogatories should appear prolix. Alexander. Remark anything; but do not inter-will rogate and press me: kings are unaccustomed to it. I will consign to thee every land from the centre to the extremities of Africa; the Fortunate Isles will I also give to thee, adding the Hyperborean: I wish only the consent of the religious who officiate in this temple, and their testimony to the world in declaration of my parentage.
Priest. Many thanks! we have all we want.
Alexander. I can not think you are true priests then; and if your oath on the divinity of my descent were not my object, and therefore not to be abandoned, I should regret that I had offered so much in advance, and should be provoked to deduct one half of the Fortunate Isles, and the greater part of the Hyperborean.
Priest. Those are exactly the regions, O king, which our moderation would induce us to resign. Africa, we know, is worth little yet we are as well contented with the almonds, the dates, the melons, the figs, the fresh butter, the stags, the antelopes, the kids, the tortoises, and the quails about us, as we should be if they were brought to us after fifty days' journey through the desert.
Alexander. Willingly. In what land upon earth liveth she, whom thou designest for me?
Priest. The Destinies and Jupiter himself have conducted thee, O Alexander, to the place where thy nuptials shall be celebrated.
Alexander. When did they so?
Priest. Follow me.
Alexander. The steps of this cavern are dark and slippery; but it terminates, no doubt, like the Eleusinian, in pure light and refreshing shades.
Priest. Wait here an instant: it will grow lighter.
Alexander. What do I see yonder?
Alexander. Close under the wall, rising and lowering, regularly and slowly, like a long weed on a quiet river, when a fragment hath dropped into it from the bank above.
Alexander. Really now, is it possible that, in a matter so evident, your oracle can find any Priest. Thou descriest, O Alexander, the daughobstacle or difficulty in proclaiming me what I am?ter of Jupiter, the watchful virgin, the preserver Priest. The difficulty (slight it must be acknowledged) is this: our Jupiter is horned.
Alexander. So was my father.
of our treasures. Without her they might be carried away by the wanderers of the desert; but they fear, as they should do, the daughter of
Priest. The children of Jupiter love one an-Jupiter. other this we believe here in Lybia.
Alexander. And rightly: no affection was ever so strong as that of Castor and Pollux. I myself feel a genuine love for them, and greater still for Hercules.
Priest. If thou hadst a brother or sister on earth, Jove-born, thou wouldst embrace the same most ardently.
Alexander. As becomes my birth and heart. Priest. O Alexander! may thy godlike race never degenerate!
Alexander. Now indeed the Powers above do inspire thee.
Priest. Jupiter, I am commanded by him to declare, is verily thy father.
Alexander. He owns me then! he owns me! What sacrifice worthy of this indulgence can I offer to him?
Priest. An obedient mind, and a camel-load of nard and amomum for his altar.
Alexander. I smell here the exquisite perfume of benzoin.
Priest. It grows in our vicinity. The nostrils of Jupiter love changes: he is consistent in all parts, being Jupiter. He has other sons and
Alexander. Hell and Furies! what hast thou been saying? I heard little of it. Daughter of Jupiter!
Priest. Hast thou any fancy for the silent and shy maiden? I will leave you together... Alexander. Orcus and Erebus !
Priest. Be discreet! Restrain your raptures until the rites are celebrated.
Alexander. Rites! Infernal pest! O horror! abomination! A vast panting snake!
Priest. Say "dragon," O king! and beware how thou callest horrid and abominable, the truly begotten of our lord thy father.
Alexander. What means this? inhuman traitor! Open the door again: lead me back. Are my conquests to terminate in the jaws of a reptile?
Priest. Do the kings of Macedon call their sisters such names?
Alexander. Let me out, I say!
Priest. Inconstant man! I doubt even whether the marriage hath been consummated. thou question her worthiness? prove her, prove her. We have certain signs and manifestations that Jupiter begat this powerful creature, thy elder sister. Her mother hid her shame and con
fusion in the desert, where she still wanders, and looks with an evil eye on everything in the form of man. The poorest, vilest, most abject of the sex, holdeth her head no lower than she.
Priest. Do not the sympathies of thy heart inform thee that this solitary queen is of the same lineage as thine?
Alexander. What temerity! what impudence! what deceit !
Priest. Temerity! How so, Alexander! Surely man can not claim too near an affinity to his Creator, if he will but obey him, as I know thou certainly wilt in this tender alliance. Impudence and deceit were thy other accusations: how little merited! I only traced the collateral branches of the genealogical tree thou pointedst out to me.
Alexander. Draw back the bolt: let me pass: stand out of my way. Thy hand upon my shoulder! Were my sword beside me, this monster should lick thy blood.
Priest. Patience! O king! The iron portal is in my hand if the hinges turn, thy godhead is extinct. No, Alexander, no! it must not be. Alexander. Lead me then forth. I swear to silence.
Priest. As thou wilt.
Alexander. I swear to friendship; lead me but out again.
Priest. Come; although I am much interested in the happiness of his two children whom I
Alexander. If such is my folly, what is that of others? Thou wilt acknowledge and proclaim me the progeny of Jupiter. Priest. Ay, ay.
Alexander. People must believe it.
Priest. The only doubt will be among the shrewder, whether, being so extremely old and having left off his pilgrimages so many years, he could have given our unworthy world so spirited an offspring as thou art.
Come and sacrifice.
Alexander. Priest! I see thou art a man of courage: henceforward we are in confidence. Take mine with my hand: give me thine. Confess to me, as the first proof of it, didst thou never shrink back from so voracious and intractable a monster as that accursed snake?
Priest. We caught her young, and fed her on goat's milk, as our Jupiter himself was fed in the caverns of Crete.
Alexander. Your Jupiter! that was another.
Priest. Some people say so: but the same cradle serves for the whole family, the same story will do for them all. As for fearing this young per sonage in the treasury-vault, we fear her no more, son Alexander, than the priests of Egypt do his holiness the crocodile-god. The gods and their pedagogues are manageable to the hand that feeds them.
Alexander. Canst thou talk thus?
Alexander. Persecute me no longer; in the dozens? some hundreds? name of Jupiter!
Priest. I can hardly give it up. To have been the maker of such a match! what felicity! what glory! Think once more upon it. There are many who could measure themselves with thee, head to head; let me see the man who will do it with your child at the end of the year, if thou embracest with good heart and desirable success this daughter of deity.
Alexander. Enough, my friend! I have deserved it; but we must deceive men, or they will either hate us or despise us.
Priest. Now thou talkest reasonably. I here pronounce thy divorce. Moreover, thou shalt be the son of Hammon in Libya, of Mithras in Persia, of Philip in Macedon, of Olympian Jove in Greece but never for the future teach priests new creeds.
Alexander. How my father Philip would have laughed over his cups at such a story as this! Priest. Alexander ! let it prove to thee thy folly.
Priest. Not in our vicinity; praised be Hammon! And plainly to speak, there is nowhere another, let who will have begotten him, whether on cloud or meadow, feather-bed or barn-floor, worth a salt locust or a last year's date-fruit.
These are our mysteries, if thou must needs know them; and those of other priesthoods are the like.
Alexander, my boy, do not stand there, with thy arms folded and thy head aside, pondering. Jupiter the Ram for ever!
Alexander. Glory to Jupiter the Ram!
Priest. Thou stoppest on a sudden thy prayers and praises to father Jupiter. Son Alexander! art thou not satisfied? What ails thee, drawing the back of thy hand across thine eyes?
Alexander. A little dust flew into them as the door opened.
Priest. Of that dust are the sands of the desert and the kings of Macedon.
DON FERDINAND AND DON JOHN-MARY-LUIS. Ferdinand. My brother and cousin! hem! hem! Before we enter on the concerns of both hemispheres..
John-Mary. Heyday! Do not, your majesty, frown and stamp, crumpling and tearing and biting the paper: it may be a document.
| Ferdinand. Document! it is worse.
John-Mary. Your majesty dances admirably.
Ferdinand. Kyrie eleison ! kyrie eleison ! Gra- | tiæ plena! I have left a note behind me, whereby I dismiss the rogue. I shall now have a clean new ministry.
John-Mary. A new one indeed is to be collected in any posada, where there is a pack of cards, or a good appetite, or a siesta nibbled in two by the fleas but a clean one... egad! we must catch the members of it at the baptismal font, and keep them in the swaddling-clothes we find them in.
Ferdinand. Every day, when I change my shirt I change my ministers: they have not any time to be scoundrels.
John Mary. Nor any interest to be honest
Ferdinand. Brother and cousin! no interest will make men honest. Would you believe it? I gave a japan jar of Havanna snuff to one, and a commandery to another: the one sneezed in my face, the other begged his dismissal. I am sorry I gave the snuff and the jar: they were sold and the money spent before night: but the commandery has a friar in the inside, a lawyer on the outside, and a volunteer of the faith for sentry.
John-Mary. It is then in a fair condition to reward a long series of deserving friends.
Ferdinand. I am now in spirits: I can go on without the paper. A few private matters must precede the public.
John Mary. Of course; that is diplomatic. Ferdinand. There is a question, my brother and cousin! to which I never could obtain a direct and satisfactory answer. Can you solve it?
John-Mary. Not easily, Don Ferdinand, unless I hear it. I am no Frenchman.
Ferdinand. My confessor did indeed give me absolution; but he declared that never a girl of low extraction, whose ancestors had neither made war upon the Moors, nor been familiars of the Holy Inquisition, could properly be engaged in procuring an episcopacy for anyone; that the plea was futile; and that having slept with an anointed king, did not authorise such a person to take in hand a higher charge than a canonicate.
athwart his shoulders, and bruised her wrist in such a manner that it was useless (I found) for three days. Macañez had the impudence to remind me, that I received the greater part of the money paid into his hands for every appointment, civil and ecclesiastical: on which indiscretion I imprisoned him forthwith, and will detain him for life in my royal fort of Sant-Antonio at Coruña, praying Sant-Antonio to drive out of his memory the sums he has paid me for my share; and never to let him dream of Melissa Petit, without the accompaniment of an ebony staff over the right shoulder, and the divulsion of a good handful of hair.
John-Mary. The girl is a pluralist by profession, your Majesty by mischance: Macañez has only one appointment; which, however, it appears, is for life. If your Majesty should be graciously pleased to accept his resignation, I doubt not Sant-Antonio would endow him with a peculiar gift of forgetfulness, very desirable in this predicament. His dreams require no spiritual intervention. Your Majesty is unsatisfied still. Ferdinand. That is not the business. John-Mary. What is then?
Ferdinand. I promised Sant-Antonio I would reward his services with a swine in silver, weighing half a quintal. Now, cannot I make Macañez pay the pig-money?
Ferdinand. But when I have taken all he possesses, how can I?
John-Mary. Your Majesty must pray again to Sant-Antonio for another miracle.
Ferdinand. A pretty ally! a pretty counseller! you raise two difficulties where I could find but one. Will he perform it, think you, before I have settled for the first?
John-Mary. Oh! that is indeed the question. Miracles of this kind are not the miracles for our days, my brother! There is ne'er a saint in paradise that will set his shoulder to them. People, one would imagine, begin to have a notion of honour, even in heaven.
Ferdinand. So much the worse but let them John-Mary. Slept with an anointed king! who? look to it. We may live to see the morning when a strumpet?
Ferdinand. Not so bad as that.
John-Mary. An unmarried girl! one without alliances! No wonder she overstepped the bounds of decency.
Ferdinand. Melissa Petit had, conditionally, my royal permission to negotiate for places.
neither saint nor saintess shall have pantaloon or petticoat to chine. What a mighty fine figure will they make, when the paltriest cherub in pinfeathers shakes his collopped sides and gilt gamut, putting his hand (if he has one) upon the place! To this another time: we have several more subjects for our royal consideration. My revenues are reduced, my valets, my pages, my cooks.
John-Mary. Frencher and frencher, every word! Ferdinand. She transacted the business through John-Mary. I condole with your Majesty from Macañez, at that time my valet and minister of the purest sympathy, on the straits to which your state, who, to smoothen his scruples, took a most catholic and royal household has been reduced, perverse view of the subject, and fancied, with by the intemperance of your vassals. Well do I heretical pravity, that, if both king and minister know what it is to want the necessaries of life. had possession of her, she might, without censure My kitchen, which formerly had been somewhat from holy mother Church, or any great scandal, plenteously supplied, at the expenditure of four creep from canonicates up to bishoprics. I my-thousand dollars a day, was suddenly cast down to self caught them in this preliminary function, three thousand five hundred; and, unless I had and, not weighing his motive, laid my stick sold a box of diamonds, I must have starved.
John-Mary. Would it not be better to call a reader?
Ferdinand. Oh! I can read: you would wonder how well.
Your Majesty is reported to have always found a
is a whole leaf; and one may fall upon a word |
John-Mary. O for shame! to ask a secular what the Bible means! Mary forbid we should ever be such heretics as to enter into scrupulous inquiries. I learnt the words by heart, like the rest my good friars have taught me the meaning lies with them and upon their consciences. I always slept with my diamonds; and they abstracted my mind from carnal thoughts and irreligious vagaries. I declare upon my holy faith, I would rather cohabit with them than the fairest dame of honour in the palace, or even than my great-word position here is of great service: like a gout
Ferdinand. A great-aunt is no light matter: but one may have one's preferences.
Brother and Cousin! pray is it true that you hung one of your finest brilliants in the right ear of Saint Sebastian, according to a vow.
John-Mary. True enough.
Ferdinand. And is it also a matter of fact that, when you were about to return to Europe, you snatched it out again, at the risk of tearing the said ear from gristle to tip?
John-Mary. That also is very true it bled a
Ferdinand. Only a little?
John-Mary. In the night it swelled and looked angry; and at matins the prior could not conceal from me the traces of blood, which appeared the fresher the moment he would have removed 'it with his handkerchief. However, no sooner had I made an offering of nine thousand crusadoes, than it suffered itself to be wiped quite dry, and I hope and believe, continues so to this hour.
Ferdinand. I should have been afraid. John-Mary.. And I was. But I never had dedicated it to Saint Sebastian in a regular form; and the moment the blood was dry and the crusadoes accepted, fearing he might on second thoughts exhibit some signs of ill will, I devoted it regularly to all the saints in heaven; so that none could fairly claim it for himself; and, if Sebastian had said another word about it, they would have drowned his voice with their clamours.
Ferdinand. What was it worth? John-Mary. Hush! hush! you may raise his curiosity if he should happen to be listening; and, on hearing the estimate, he might slily pluck out an arrow from his side, and play me a spiteful trick with it.
Ferdinand. Let us converse then rather on the affairs of Europe, in which neither he nor any of the others appear to take the least interest.
And now, my dear brother and brother-in-law, Don John-Mary-Luis, we will read together what the French and Russian ministers have written for us to sign.
Ferdinand. By Santiago! the word false among the old Castilians used to draw blood: but the
cordial, it brings down the peccant matter from the head to the feet. Why does your faithful Majesty simper, and pull my button, and ogle and wriggle so?
John-Mary. Brother and brother-in-law Ferdinand, tell me now, who said that?
Ferdinand. I said it, and say it still. John-Mary. But.. ah you facetious and roguish man! who said it first?
Ferdinand. I was the first that said it: I had it direct from Perez Pinalta.
John-Mary. Viva Don Perez! I would have given him a pair of diamond earrings for it, and a fine solitaire in a truss.
Ferdinand. No exportation of wit, in my lifetime, nor importation neither: there is roguery enough in segars.
John-Mary. None of my ministers ever utter such sentiments, or bring to me those who can.
Ferdinand. Nor mine neither: I doubt whether they ever go to the barber's to pick up sharp things. My valet Runez, a barber's boy some years since, on being reproached by one of them about his former occupation, said, "My froth made folks cleanlier; yours only sticks upon yourself and hardens your dirt." I laughed heartily when his meaning was explained to me, which (such is my quickness in apprehending wit) was done sooner than a text in the scriptures could be.
Let us now proceed to business; for there is a full day's work before us in this paper.
John-Mary. I am all ear.
Ferdinand. "His Catholic Majesty, Don Ferdinand the Seventh, King of Spain and of the Indies, &c. &c. &c., and his Faithful Majesty, Don John-Mary-Luis, King of the united kingdoms of Portugal, Brazil, and Algarve, of Guinea, Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia, and India"... What are you counting?
John-Mary. I think they have missed one.
John-Mary. I cannot recollect; but, faith! I do verily think one is missing.
Ferdinand. Look sharp then; for our brothers the Holy Allies may divide it among themselves,
as they did Poland. They cut up a kingdom with | niece! nay, is rather to make the same proposal as little ceremony as an orange, and suck it dry in to an utter stranger! I do not wonder at hearing as little time. that the northern nations went a thousand miles John-Mary. Ha! ha ha! your Catholic Ma- in search of a country, when they would go the jesty has taken another pinch (I see) from the same distance, even now, in search of a wife, box of Don Perez. Why! what a stupendous rather than take one from their own table and knave the knave is! Have we reached the end nursery. of the Declaration?
Ferdinand. End! look here! John-Mary. Mercy on us! surely they have said the principal things.
Ferdinand. That is likely; but some remonstrances follow. "&c. &c. &c., wishing to maintain the peace of Europe, announce their determination to suppress by force of arms, and by such further means as the Holy Indivisible Trinity has entrusted them with, all secret societies whatever; and their said Majesties, his Catholic and his Faithful, adopting the principles laid down by their Majesties of the Holy Alliance, and recognised by every state in Europe as necessary to its order and repose" . . your Faithful Majesty snores "are resolved to appoint in the first instance such commissioners as in their wisdom shall seem fit and effectual."
John-Mary. What shall we do with 'em? where shall we send them? That requires long consideration. As for appointing, the business is soon done.
Ferdinand. If your Majesty will listen, you will find that our brothers leave no trouble whatever for us they tell us what to do, and they do the best part of it themselves... "in order to pacify, to the glory of God, the loyal and catholic kingdom of Ireland."
Ferdinand. They are still fierce and barbarous, and wander like wild cats in their amours. Our holy religion has not reclaimed them; and even the Catholics among them are slow to double the threads of consanguinity, and to tie the knot at the end.
John-Mary. Prejudices of ignorance! Proofs however that what the wiser have confessed, is true; namely, that genius can no more ripen in the north than pomegranates can, and that they never will be like us.
Ferdinand. No fear of that. Beside, who is there to teach them? fellows in boots and gilt buttons, hoodless and collarless and bandless, so ignorant that not one in a thousand could sustain a decent thesis on the immaculate conception. They call it philosophical to be incredulous on holy things, and they are the most credulous in the world on profane ones. In the war of the intruder against me, a man of letters (such as theirs are) happened to be, from some silly zeal or idle curiosity, at Santander. It was in the month of August, at mid-day, when the sun would have broiled a bonito in five minutes, and when the cormorants were sitting fast asleep on the rocks in the harbour, and letting their wings drop lower than their legs, and careless what names the sailors called them for not rising at their approach, that an
John-Mary. The Irish are not my people: they Englishman hired a launch and six rowers to would take it ill to be pacified by me.
Ferdinand. We must hold out a saving hand to them. The king of Great Britain, whose subjects they are, is invited to assist us.
John-Mary. Then indeed we may safely. Ferdinand. "It having come to the knowledge of their Catholic and Faithful Majesties, that a faction, supported from without by malcontents and heretics, blind men, led astray by their passions, have, contrary to the wishes and interests of the majority"
John-Mary. Fine writing! very fine writing! His most Christian Majesty said the very same thing about your Majesty's rebellious subjects; and I presume that for the future it will always form a part of every state-paper, be the subject what it may.
Ferdinand... "built residences and churches; and, not contented therewith, have used the same for the purpose of disseminating their wild and pernicious doctrines"
John-Mary. Would you believe it? they are perverse enough, I know not whether there or in England, to say openly that a niece ought not to sleep with her uncle or great-uncle, nor aunt or greataunt with her nephew. If a man can not sleep with his own relations, with whom can he? An uncle forsooth is not to ask in marriage his little
I conduct him to Santillana.
John-Mary. The English, frog-hearted as one would fancy them, are desperate for the women. I hope she would not listen to the lewd heretic. Ferdinand. Who listen? John-Mary. The Señora. Ferdinand. What Señora?
John-Mary. Donna. your Majesty did not mention her baptismal name . .
.. Santillana. Ferdinand (aside). O you tiresome old fool of a Majesty! Santillana is the name of a village on the coast.. town I believe it was once which a lying Frenchman has fixed upon as the birth-place of one Gil Blas, corrupting all the documents he had found on some such person. This Englishman walked up and down the streets, quite alone; the dogs on the shady side did not give themselves the trouble to bark; the few that growled did it so indolently as not to arouse the next. The leaves of melons, grapes, and figs, brought thither in the morning and cast from the windows, crackled under-foot. The sailors covered their faces with their sombreros and fell asleep. The only things appearing to move in God's universe, were the swallows and the flies and this Englishman. The very lizards panted for breath, and hardly clung against the wall. The ships upon the sea, as was told me, lay still. It was