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73

(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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THE ROMAN EMPERORS IN MARBLE. 73
public soon recovered from the merriment this made ;
but the one who could not control his risible muscles,
was the reader himself ; and the listeners were obliged to
go, after long waiting in vain for him to give them some-
thing besides uproarious laughter.
With this nervous irritability, was connected also his
sudden fear, which has unjustly been interpreted as cow-
ardice, for it was balanced by a moral courage that on
most occasions held it in check. P’rom his campaign,
(short to be sure) in Britain, Suetonius the zealous story-
hunter, has not been able to give us a single trait to
justify the reproach of cowardice. By the same bodily
weakness, must be explained the pleasurable enjoyment
people sometimes thought they discerned on his features,
when he looked on bloodshed. His age, itself so insati-
ably avid of the cruel sports of the gladiators, would
probably never have remarked this, had it not found it
just in a prince whose philanthropic nature was univer-
sally known.
One reads in the face of Claudius, that he grieved
over his defeat, in this strife between the law within him
and the law in his flesh. Study and plodding were his
only safeguard against temptations of the senses. When
he was thus absorbed in his world of thought and dreams,
objects might pass before his eye, without his seeing
them ; voices sound near by him, without his hearing
them ; events happen, that convulsed all around him,
without his having an idea of anything uncommon. His
soul was a camera obscura that caught a slender ray of
light, and left all else in darkness. He was forced to
look away from, outward objects or again run the risk of
captivation by some impression on the nerves. Lacking
swift inspiration and sharp insight, he tried his strength
4

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