Laurence Sterne,-A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy

 
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[106]

A FRAGMENT

THE town of Abdera,
notwithstanding Democritus lived
there, trying all the powers of irony
and laughter to reclaim it, was the
vilest and most profligate town in all
Thrace. What for poisons, conspi-
racies and assassinations---libels, pas-
quinades, and tumults, there was no
going there by day---'twas worse by
night.

Now, when things were at the
worst, it came to pass, that the An-
dromeda of Euripides being repre-
sented at Abdera, the whole orchestra
was delighted with it: but of all the

               passages

[107]

passages which delighted them, no-
thing operated more upon their ima-
ginations, than the tender strokes of
nature, which the poet had wrought
up in that pathetic speech of Perseus,

O Cupid, prince of God and men, &c.

Every man spoke pure iam-
bics the next day, and talk'd of no-
thing but Perseus his pathetic ad-
dress---"O Cupid, prince of God
"and men"---in every street of Ab-
dera, in every house---"O Cupid!
"Cupid!"--- in every mouth, like the
natural notes of some sweet melody
which drops from it whether it will
or no---nothing but "Cupid! Cupid!
"prince of God and men"---The
fire caught---and the whole city, like

               the

[108]

the heart of one man, open'd itself
to Love.

No pharmacopolist could sell one
grain of helebore---not a single ar-
mourer had a heart to forge one in-
strument of death--- Friendship and
Virtue met together, and kiss'd each
other in the street---the golden age
return'd, and hung o'er the town of
Abdera---every Abderite took his
oaten pipe, and every Abderitish
woman left her purple web, and
chastely sat down and listened to
the song---

'Twas only in the power, says the
Fragment, of the God whose empire

               extendeth

[109]

extendeth from heaven to earth, and
even to the depths of the sea, to have
done this.


                    


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