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Of such exceeding delicacy, I think
I have rehearsed the entire scene With an ox-bladder and some ditch-water, On Lady P.-it cannot fail.
[Taking up the bag Your majesty (to SWELLFOOT)
In such a filthy business had better
My lord, I am ready—nay I am inpatient,
[A graceful figure in a semitransparent veil passes unnoticed through the Temple; the word LIBERTY is seen through the veil, as if it were written in fire upon its forehead. Its words are almost drowned in the furious grunting of the Pigs, and the business of the trial. She kneels on the steps of the Altar, and speaks
in tones at first faint and low, but which ever become louder and louder.
Mighty Empress, Death's white wife,
By the God who made thee such,
By the magic of thy touch,
By the starving and the cramming Of fasts and feasts!-by thy dread self, O Famine! I charge thee, when thou wake the multitude, Thou lead them not upon the paths of blood. The earth did never mean her foison For those who crown life's cup with poison Of fanatic rage and meaningless revenge―
But for those radiant spirits, who are still The standard-bearers in the van of Change.
Be they th' appointed stewards, to fill
[Whilst the veiled figure has been chaunting the strophe, MAMMON, DAKRY, LAOCTONOS, and SWELLFOOT, have surrounded IONA TAURINA, who, with her hands folded on her breast, and her eyes lifted to Heaven, stands, as with saint-like resignation, to wait the issue
of the business, in perfect confidence of her innocence. PURGANAX, after unsealing the GREEN BAG, is gravely
about to pour the liquor upon her head, when suddenly the whole expression of her figure and countenance
changes; she snatches it from his hand with a loud laugh of triumph, and empties it over SWELLFOOT and his whole Court, who are instantly changed into a number_of filthy and ugly animals, and rush out of the Temple. The image of FAMINE then arises with a tremendous sound, the Pigs begin scrambling for the loaves, and are tripped up by the skulls; all those who eat the loaves are turned into Bulls, and arrange themselves quietly behind the altar. The image of FAMINE sinks through a chasm in the earth, and a MINOTAUR rises.
I am the Ionian Minotaur, the mightiest
I am the old traditional man-bull;
And from my ancestors having been Ionian,
Is JOHN; in plain Theban, that is to say,
Even the palings of the royal park,
Or double ditch about the new inclosures;
And if your majesty will deign to mount me, At least till you have hunted down your game, I will not throw you.
[During this speech she has been putting on boots and spurs, and a hunting-cap, buckishly cocked on one side, and tucking up her hair, she leaps nimbly on his back. Ho, ho tally-ho! tally-ho, ho, ho!
Come, let us hunt these ugly badgers down,
These stinking foxes, these devouring otters, These hares, these wolves, these anything but
Hey, for a whipper-in! my loyal pigs,
Now let your noses be as keen as beagles',
desert, Pursue the ugly beasts! Tally-ho, ho!
FULL CHORUS OF IONA AND THE SWINE.
Through rain, hail, and snow,
Through pond, ditch, and slough,
Like the Devil behind them!
[Exeunt, in full cry; IONA driving on the SWINE, with the empty GREEN BAG.
NOTE ON EDIPUS TYRANNUS
BY THE EDITOR.
In the brief journal I kept in those days, I find recorded In August, 1820, Shelley "begins Swellfoot the Tyrant, suggested by the pigs at the fair of San Giuliano." This was the period of Queen Caroline's landing in England, and the struggles made by George IV. to get rid of her claims; which failing, Lord Castlereagh placed the "Green Bag" on the table of the House of Commons, demanding, in the King's name, that an inquiry should be instituted into his wife's conduct. These circumstances were the theme of all conversation among the English. We were then at the Baths of San Giuliano; a friend came to visit us on the day when a fair was held in the square, beneath our windows. Shelley read to us his Ode to Liberty; and was riotously accompanied by the grunting of a quantity of pigs brought for sale to the fair. He compared it to the "chorus or frogs" in the satiric Crama of Aristophanes; and it being an hour of merriment, and one ludicrous association suggesting another, he imagined a political satirical drama on the circumstances of the day, to which the pigs would serve as chorus-and Swellfoot was begun. When finished, it was transmitted to England, printed and published anonymously; but stifled at the very dawn of its existence by the "Society for the Suppression of Vice," who threatened to prosecute it, if not immediately withdrawn. The friend who had taken the trouble of bringing it out, of course did not think it worth the annoyance and expense of 1 contest, and it was laid aside.