'A Comedy of Errors' in Seven Acts.
by Spokeshave (AKA Old Fogy).
_As many were not able to secure all the Acts of "A Comedy of Errors"
owing to the editions having been exhausted, and as numerous friends have expressed a desire to secure it entire, the author has concluded to publish it, supplemented by four more recent compositions._
_With malice towards none and charity to all, this modest booklet is launched on the uncertain sea of literature._
_Manila, November 15th, 1914._
A COMEDY OF ERRORS
_Caesar_ . . . _Ruler of the State._ _Francos_ . . _Governor General of a Province._ _Quezox_ . . . _Resident Delegate from the Province._ _Page._
_Scene: Throne Room at the Capitol_
_Caesar:_ Most n.o.ble Francos, I greet thee heartily.
A function truly n.o.ble falls within thy grasp; And thou wilt with it deal as only sages can.
The distant Isles are now crushed by the pow'r Of ruthless tyrants, who on plunder bent, Oppress a helpless, but a worthy race, Which groans beneath a yoke of foreign make, And hence it fitteth not the sable necks On which it now, relentless, firmly rests.
'Tis well, we know, how, filled with visions vain, Our predecessor sought to stuff those minds With mental food fit only for those born To skins of whiter tint, and hence with grasp Of firmer structure, built by kindly Time, Who fas.h.i.+oned us in more enn.o.bled mold; While power divine to cap the climax grand, With hand so deft, gave it its final touch.
These men with vision faint who planned so vain Knew not the knightly thought bred in the south.
The north winds chill and stunt the subtle power Which flourishes alone 'neath southern skies, To read unerring from the page of truth That G.o.d has fas.h.i.+oned some to mount aloft, While others grovel on a lower plane.
Hence we must cherish ever in our hearts, The thought that pigment marks the subtle line; And so throw off a burden on us laid By those who blindly cast their shoulders down, To bear a load which deep ingrat.i.tude Alone will be the recompense for all our pains.
_Francos:_ My liege, I grasp the thought: a burden dark, Which now each year a golden tribute calls, Must be disposed of quickly, but so sly That watching nations may not fling a slur Upon our honor as we cast adrift This alien race to face the world alone.
_Caesar:_ Sweet Francos, truly thou hast quick discerned The thought which wisdom fathered in my mind.
"Be wise as serpent, harmless as the dove,"
Should be our watchword as we scuttle s.h.i.+p, For there be those who speak with venomed tongues Of serpents, as we cast them helpless off.
But if we of politicos make use, And to their clamour lend approving smile, We may while coolly thrusting them aside, Meet with the thoughtless world's approving nod.
_Francos:_ Ha! Ha! methinks I see my path made clear 'Twere wise to fellows.h.i.+p with only those Who, longing for the flesh pots, lend their aid To further us in this our deep design.
_Caesar:_ Hold! Francos, hold! The very walls have ears.
Suspicion once aroused our game is up In silence let our worthy scheme mature; An utterance unwise may spell defeat.
_Francos:_ Most n.o.ble Caesar, thou at wisdom's fount Hast drunk until the fountain hath run dry.
I ready stand to follow each command Ignoring every judgment of mine own.
_Caesar:_ When I before the G.o.ds did minister, I learned that strategy cured many ills; And when Parna.s.sus high I made my throne, I found it well to wield an iron hand.
And now to work our pleasure in these Isles, 'Twere best to blend these methods in our scheme, Whilst thou with honeyed tongue shall words employ The callow forum shall my will obey.
But silence! put a padlock on thy tongue; A word unspoken never worketh harm.
While he who babbles layeth down his s.h.i.+eld, And thus an enemy may work his death.
_Francos:_ Mine ears are open to thine every word, Would that they could but hear in distant Isles; For when I beard the lion in his den, Thy potent thoughts were then a healing balm.
_Caesar:_ Thou sayest well, Francos, but lend an ear; Avoid our enemies; they counsel ill.
_(To Page)_ But, page, entreat sweet Quezox to attend While we in converse measure every act.
_Enter Quezox:_ Most honored sire, I come at thy command, And wait your pleasure; if by any means My words, convincing, can this matter solve: The land that bore me bids me loud proclaim.
So we consider wisely, let us call The Commoner, whose wisdom is renowned.
That he may with us weigh each tangled point, And thus make our solution doubly sure.
_Caesar:_ Sweet Quezox, caution is a precious thing.
And while 'tis known that council oft is wise, Yet it were better Wilhelm were left out For he hath visions which from tender plants To forest monarchs grow, with roots so deep Emplanted in the soil, that naught can stir.
Beside, financial ills have him beset, And he now eager, filthy lucre seeks.
_Francos:_ Most honored sire, I would from Quezox learn What stern encounters I must early meet.
He from the first did see the canker grow And hath a remedy, methinks, conceived.
_Caesar:_ Speak, Quezox, speak! and free thy surging mind.
For well I know abuses rankle there.
Our enemies politic, firm entrenched, Have borne with heavy hand upon thy race.
_Quezox:_ Ah n.o.ble sire, how well thy mind conceives The ills which bear my hapless people down.
Much learning fits thee for the ruler's seat And keen discernment flashes from thine eye.
There pigmies move within a circle charmed And fatten on rich spoils with cruel glee.
They force their alien ways with tyrant hands Upon my people; and with cold disdain Refuse our council, when 'twere meet and wise.
I beg thee, cast them out, both root and branch And clean official nests from grafty filth.
Our patriots, able, then can claim their own And on the ruins build a blissful state.
_Caesar:_ Most n.o.ble Quezox, thou hast touched the sore.
In Francos thou wilt find a helping hand, Council him wise for he the subtle wiles Of crafty scheming men may not discern.
_Quezox:_ Ah, n.o.ble sir, if I advice may breathe, It were to shun the brood of vultures well.
They're skilled indeed to sing the siren's song, And play with flattery on honest minds.
I feel 'twere well to journey to these Isles In company with Francos, at thy will, Thus guarding him from every idle tongue, Which might make impress on an open heart.
_Caesar:_ Sweet Quezox, thou art wise, it shall be done.
And as you journey, meditate and plan To lop off every head that blocks thy way, Or lacks in sympathy for thy great work.
For Francos hath been trained for civic life Where virtue reigns and intrigue hath no place.
But with thine aid and to guide a fearless soul, And Tammany his pattern, all were well.
_Francos:_ Great Caesar, trust me well; I smell the rot that distance cannot smother, and will clean The halls of state, and there implant true men.
_Caesar:_ And silence! speak nor write not idle words, For they are often swords which cleave the soul; When enemies who wield a cunning hand Shall thrust them back, and laugh in gleeful scorn.
E'en I regret what in an idle hour, I thoughtless paged regarding freedom's gift.
And now they sting me, sting me to the soul.
Oh that I ne'er had penned such childish thoughts!
Hence hold thy tongue or honeyed words proclaim Which may mean little or perchance mean much.
And now farewell, and hie thee on thy way: Again I say a padlock on thy tongue.
_Quezox and Francos moving backward, and making obeisances._ Adieu, most n.o.ble Caesar, since the time When Was.h.i.+ngton first donned the regal crown.
We'll smoke the woodchucks out and tan their hides And parchment make, on which, in words of gold, Shall be inscribed, so all the world may read: "Saturnine pleasure it to us doth give, To see them walk the plank from scuttled s.h.i.+p."
_Caesar:_ Ha Ha! but speak it not aloud, until 'tis done.
_Both:_ Whist! whist as mice! We'll oil the guillotine.