The Hypochondriacal Pluto. A Romance.

A poem by Friedrich Schiller

The Hypochondriacal Pluto. A Romance. Book I.

The sullen mayor who reigns in hell,
By mortals Pluto hight,
Who thrashes all his subjects well,
Both morn and eve, as stories tell,
And rules the realms of night,
All pleasure lost in cursing once,
All joy in flogging, for the nonce.

The sedentary life he led
Upon his brazen chair
Made his hindquarters very red,
While pricks, as from a nettle-bed,
He felt both here and there:
A burning sun, too, chanced to shine,
And boiled down all his blood to brine.

'Tis true he drank full many a draught
Of Phlegethon's black flood;
By cupping, leeches, doctor's craft,
And venesection, fore and aft,
They took from him much blood.
Full many a clyster was applied,
And purging, too, was also tried.

His doctor, versed in sciences,
With wig beneath his hat,
Argued and showed with wondrous ease,
From Celsus and Hippocrates,
When he in judgment sat,
"Right worshipful the mayor of hell,
The liver's wrong, I see full well."

"He's but a booby," Pluto said,
"With all his trash and pills!
A man like me pray where's his head?
A young man yet his wits have fled!
While youth my veins yet fills!
Unless electuaries he'll bring,
Full in his face my club I'll fling!"

Or right or wrong, 'twas a hard case
To weather such a trial;
(Poor men, who lose a king's good grace!)
He's straight saluted in the face
By every splint and phial.
He very wisely made no fuss;
This hint he learnt of Cerberus.

"Go! fetch the barber of the skies,
Apollo, to me soon!"
An airy courier straightway flies
Upon his beast, and onward hies,
And skims past poles and moon;
As he went off, the clock struck four,
At five his charger reached the door.

Just then Apollo happened "Heigh-ho!
A sonnet to have made?"
Oh, dear me, no! upon Miss Io
(Such is the tale I heard from Clio)
The midwife to have played.
The boy, as if stamped out of wax,
Might Zeus as father fairly tax.

He read the letter half asleep,
Then started in dismay:
"The road is long, and hell is deep,
Your rocks I know are rough and steep . . .
Yet like a king he'll pay!"
He dons his cap of mist and furs,
Then through the air the charger spurs.

With locks all frizzled a la mode,
And ruffles smooth and nice,
In gala dress, that brightly glowed
(A gift Aurora had bestowed),
With watch-chains of high price,
With toes turned out, and chapeau bas,
He stood before hell's mighty czar.



The Hypochondriacal Pluto. A Romance. Book II.

The grumbler, in his usual tone,
Received him with a curse:
"To Pomerania straight begone!
Ugh! how he smells of eau de Cologne!
Why, brimstone isn't worse.
He'd best be off to heaven again,
Or he'll infect hell's wide domain."

The god of pills, in sore surprise,
A spring then backwards took:
"Is this his highness' usual guise?
'Tis in the brain, I see, that lies
The mischief what a look!
See how his eyes in frenzy roll!
The case is bad, upon my soul!

"A journey to Elysium
The infectus would dissolve,
Making the saps less tough become,
As through the Capitolium
And stomach they revolve.
Provisionally be it so:
Let's start then but incognito!"

"Ay, worthy sir, no doubt well meant!
If, in these regions hazy,
As with you folk, so charged with scent,
You dapper ones who heaven frequent,
'Twere proper to be lazy,
If hell a master needed not,
Why, then I'd follow on the spot!

"Ha! if the cat once turned her back,
Pray where would be the mice?
They'd sally forth from every crack,
My very mufti would attack,
Spoil all things in a trice!
Oddsbodikins! 'tis pretty cool!
I'll let him see I'm no such fool!

"A pleasant uproar happened erst,
When they assailed my tower!
No fault of mine 'twas, at the worst,
That from their desks and chains to burst
Philosophers had power.
What, has there e'er escaped a poet?
Help, heaven! what misery to know it!

"When days are long, folks talk more stuff!
Upon your seats, no doubt,
With all your cards and music rough,
And scribblings too, 'tis hard enough
The moments to eke out.
Idleness, like a flea will gnaw
On velvet cushions, as on straw.

"My brother no attempt omits
To drive away ennui;
His lightning round about him flits,
The target with his storms he hits
(Those howls prove that to me),
Till Rhea's trembling shoulders ache,
And force me e'en for hell to quake.

"Were I grandfather Coelus, though,
You wouldn't soon escape!
Into my belly straight you'd go,
And in your swaddling-clothes cry 'oh!'
And through five windows gape!
First o'er my stream you'd have to come,
And then, perhaps, to Elysium!

"Your steed you mounted, I dare say,
In hopes to catch a goose;
If it is worth the trouble, pray
Tell what you've heard from me to-day,
At shaving time, to Zeus.
Just leave him then to swallow it;
I don't care what he thinks a bit;

"You'd better now go homeward straight!
Your servant! there's the door!
For all your pains one moment wait!
I'll give you liberal is the rate
A piece of ruby-ore.
In heaven such things are rareties;
We use them for base purposes."



The Hypochondriacal Pluto. A Romance. Book III.

The god at once, then, said farewell,
At small politeness striving;
When sudden through the crowds of hell
A flying courier rushed pell-mell,
From Tellus' bounds arriving.
"Monarch! a doctor follows me!
Behold this wondrous prodigy!"

"Place for the doctor!" each one said
He comes with spurs and whip,
To every one he nods his head,
As if he had been born and bred
In Tartarus the rip!
As jaunty, fearless, full of nous
As Britons in the Lower House.

"Good morrow, worthy sirs! Ahem!
I'm glad to see that here
(Where all they of Prometheus' stem
Must come, whene'er the Fates condemn)
One meets with such good cheer!
Why for Elysium care a rush?
I'd rather see hell's fountains gush!"

"Stop! stop! his impudence, I vow,
Its due reward shall meet;
By Charles's wain, I swear it now!
He must no questions I'll allow,
Prescribe me a receipt.
All hell is mine, I'm Pluto hight!
Make haste to bring your wares to light!"

The doctor, with a knowing look,
The swarthy king surveyed;
He neither felt his pulse, nor took
The usual steps, (see Galen's book),
No difference 'twould have made
As piercing as electric fire
He eyed him to his heart's desire.

"Monarch! I'll tell thee in a trice
The thing that's needed here;
Though desperate may seem the advice
The case itself is very nice
And children dragons fear.
Devil must devil eat! no more!
Either a wife, or hellebore!

"Whether she scold, or sportive play,
('Tween these, no medium's known),
She'll drive the incubus away
That has assailed thee many a day
Upon thine iron throne.
She'll make the nimble spirits fleet
Up towards the head, down towards the feet."

Long may the doctor honored be
Who let this saying fall!
He ought to have his effigy
By Phidias sculptured, so that he
May be discerned by all;
A monument forever thriving,
Boerhaave, Hippocrates, surviving!

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