THE SATIRES, EPISTLES, AND ART OF POETRY OF HORACE
TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH VERSE BY JOHN CONINGTON, M.A. CORPUS PROFESSOR OF LATIN IN THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD.
THE REV. W. H. THOMPSON, D.D. MASTER OF TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE, ETC. ETC. ETC. IN GRATITUDE FOR MANY KINDNESSES RECEIVED FROM HIM AND OTHER CAMBRIDGE FRIENDS, AND IN ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THE COMPLIMENT PAID BY CAMBRIDGE TO OXFORD IN THE APPOINTMENT OF THE OXFORD LATIN PROFESSOR AS ONE OF THE ELECTORS TO HER LATIN CHAIR.
In venturing to follow up my translation of the Odes of Horace by a version of the Satires and Epistles, I feel that I am in no way entitled to refer to the former as a justification of my boldness in undertaking the latter. Both classes of works are doubtless explicable as products of the same original genius: but they differ so widely in many of their characteristics, that success in rendering the one, though greater than any which I can hope to have attained, would afford no presumption that the translator would be found to have the least aptitude for the other. As a matter of fact, while the Odes still continue to invite translation after translation, the Satires and Epistles, popular as they were among translators and imitators a hundred years ago, have scarcely been attempted at all since that great revolution in literary taste which was effected during the last ten years of the last century and the first ten years of the present. Byron's Hints from Horace, Mr. Howes' forgotten but highly meritorious version of the Satires and Epistles, to which I hope to return before long, and a few experiments by Mr. Theodore Martin, published in the notes to his translation of the Odes and elsewhere, constitute perhaps the whole recent stock of which a new translator may be expected to take account. In one sense this is encouraging: in another dispiriting. The field is not pre-occupied: but the reason is, that general opinion has pronounced its cultivation unprofitable and hopeless.
No doubt, apart from fluctuations in the taste of the reading public, there are special reasons why a version of this portion of Horace's works should be a difficult, perhaps an impracticable undertaking. It would not be easy to maintain that a Roman satirist was incapable of adequate representation in English in the face of such an instance to the contrary as Gifford's Juvenal, probably, take it all in all, the very best version of a classic in the language. But though Juvenal has many passages which sufficiently remind us of Horace, some of them light and playful, others level and almost flat, these do not form the staple of his Satires: there are passages of dignified declamation and passionate invective which suffer less in translation, and which may be so rendered as to leave a lasting impression of pleasure upon the mind of the reader. Like Horace, he has an abundance of local and temporary allusions, in dealing with which the most successful translator is the one who fails least: unlike Horace, when he quits the local and the temporary, he generally quits also the language of persiflage, and abandons himself unrestrainedly to feeling. Persiflage, I suppose, even in ordinary life, is much less easy to practise with perfect success than a graver and less artificial mode of speaking, though, perhaps for that very reason, it is apt to be more sought after: the persiflage of a writer of another nation and of a past age is of necessity peculiarly difficult to realize and reproduce. Nothing is so variable as the standard of taste in a matter like this: even on the minor question, what expressions may and what may not be tolerated in good society, probably no two persons think exactly alike: and when we come to inquire not simply what is admissible but what is excellent, and still more, what is characteristic of a particular type of mind, we must expect to meet with still less unanimity of judgment. The wits of the Restoration answered the question very differently from the way in which it would be answered now; even Pope and his contemporaries would not be accepted as quite infallible arbiters of social and colloquial refinement in an age like the present. Whether Horace is grave or gay in his familiar writings, his charm depends almost wholly on his manner: a modern who attempts to reproduce him runs an imminent risk first of losing all charm whatever, secondly of missing completely that individuality of attractiveness which makes the charm of Horace unlike the charm of any one else.
Without however enlarging further on the peculiar difficulty of the task, I will proceed to say a few words on some of the special questions which a translator of the Satires and Epistles has to encounter, and the way in which, as it appears to me, he may best deal with them. These questions, I need hardly say, mainly resolve themselves into the metre and the style. With regard to the metre, I have myself but little doubt that the measure in which Horace may best be represented is the heroic as I suppose we must call it, of ten syllables. The one competing measure of course is the Hudibrastic octosyllabic. This latter metre is not without considerable authority in its favour. Two translators, Smart and Boscawen, have rendered the whole, or nearly the whole of these poems in that and no other way: Francis occasionally adopts it, though he generally uses the longer measure: Swift and Pope, as every one knows, employ it in three or four of their imitations: Cowper, in his original poems perhaps the greatest master we have of the Horatian style, translates the only two satires he has attempted in the shorter form: Mr. Martin uses it as often as he uses the heroic: perhaps Mr. Howes is the only translator since Creech who employs the heroic throughout. Some of my readers may possibly wonder why I in particular, having rendered the AEneid in a measure which, whatever its vivacity, may be thought deficient in dignity, should turn round and repudiate it in a case where vivacity, not dignity, happens to be the point desired. I can only say that it is precisely the colloquial nature of the metre which makes me stand in doubt of it for my present purpose. Using it in the case of Virgil, I was sure to be reminded of the need of guarding against its abuse: using it in the case of Horace, I should be constantly in danger of regarding the abuse as the law of the measure. Horace is scarcely less remarkable for his terseness than for his ease: the tendency of the octosyllabic metre in its colloquial form is to become slipshod, interminable, in a word unclassical. Again, few of those who use it apply it consistently to all Horace's hexameter poems: most make a distinction, applying it to some and not to others. In point of fact, however, it does not seem that any such distinction can be made. Horace's lightest Satires or Epistles have generally something grave about them: his gravest have more than one light passage. To draw a metrical line in the English where none is drawn in the Latin appears to me objectionable ipso facto where it can reasonably be avoided. That it can be avoided in the present case does not really admit of a doubt. The English heroic couplet, managed as Cowper has managed it, is surely quite equal to representing all the various changes of mood and temper which find their embodiment successively in the Horatian hexameter. Cowper's more serious poems contain more of deep and sustained gravity than is to be found in any similar production of Horace: while on the other hand there are few things in Horace so easy and sprightly as the Epistle to Joseph Hill, nothing perhaps so absolutely prosaic as the Colubriad and the verses to Mrs. Newton. There is also an advantage in rendering the Satires of Horace in the metre which may be called the recognized metre of English satire, and as such has always been employed (with one very partial and grotesque exception) by the translators of Juvenal. Lastly, I may be allowed to say that, while very distrustful of my powers of managing the graver heroic, where so many great masters have gone before me, I felt less diffidence in attempting the lower and more colloquial form of the measure, as not requiring the same command of rhythm, and not exposing a writer to the same amount of invidious comparison with his predecessors.
In what I have said I have implied that Cowper is the right model for the English heroic as applied to a translation of Horace: and this on the whole I believe to be the case. Horace's characteristics, as I remarked just now, are ease and terseness, and both these Cowper possesses, ease in metre, and ease and terseness in style. Pope, on the other hand, who in some respects would seem the better representative of Horace, is less easy both in style and metre, while his terseness is what Horace's terseness is not, trimness and antithetical smartness. Still, while making Cowper my pattern as a general rule, I have attempted from time to time to borrow a grace from Pope, even, when the original gave me no warrant for the appropriation. If Cowper's verse could be written by Cowper, it would probably leave nothing to be desired in a translation of this kind: handled by an inferior workman, it is in danger of becoming flat, pointless, and insipid: and Horace has many passages which, if not flat, pointless, or insipid in themselves, are painfully liable to become so in the hands of a translator. I have accordingly on various occasions aimed at epigram and pungency when there was nothing epigrammatic or pungent in the Latin, in full confidence that any trifling additions which may be made in this way to the general sum of liveliness will be far more than compensated by the heavy outgoings which must of necessity be the lot of every translator, and more particularly of myself. [Footnote: Cowper himself has some remarks bearing on this point: "That is epigrammatic and witty in Latin which would be perfectly insipid in English; and a translator of Bourne would frequently find himself obliged to supply what is called the turn, which is in fact the most difficult and the most expensive part of the whole composition, and could not perhaps, in many instances, be done with any tolerable success. If a Latin poem is neat, elegant and musical, it is enough; but English readers are not so easily satisfied. To quote myself, you will find, in comparing the Jackdaw with the original, that I was obliged to sharpen a point which, though smart enough in the Latin, would in English have appeared as plain and as blunt as the tag of a lace." —Letter to Unwin, May 23, 1781 (Southey's Cowper, ed. 1836, vol. iv. p. 97).] All translation, as has been pointed out over and over again, must proceed more or less on the principle of compensation; a translator who is conscious of having lost ground in one place is not to blame if he tries to recover it in another, so that he does not consciously depart from what he believes to be the spirit of the original: the question he has to ask himself is not so much whether he has conformed to the requirements of this or that line, most important as such conformity is where it can be realized without a sacrifice of higher things, as whether he has conformed to the requirements of the whole sentence, or even of the whole paragraph; whether the general effect produced by all the combined elements in the English lines answers in any degree to that produced by the Latin. Often and often, while engaged on this translation, I have been reminded of Johnson's words in his Life of Dryden: "It is not by comparing line with line that the merit of works is to be estimated, but by their general effects and ultimate result. It is easy to note a weak line and write one more vigorous in its place, to find a happiness of expression in the original and transplant it by force into the version; but what is given to the parts may be subducted from the whole, and the reader may be weary, though the critic may commend. That book is good in vain which the reader throws away." [Footnote: Compare his parallel between Pitt's and Dryden's Aeneid in his Life of Pitt.] I will only add that if these remarks are true of translation in general, they apply with special force to the translation of an original like the present, where the Latin is nothing if it is not idiomatic, and the English in consequence, if it is to be anything, must be idiomatic also.
There is yet something more to be said on the question of style. The exact mode of representing Horace's persiflage is, as I have intimated already, not an easy thing to determine. The translators of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries for the most part made their author either vulgar or flat, sometimes both. Probably no better rule can be laid down for the translator of the present day, than that he should try to follow the ordinary language of good society, wavering and uncertain as that standard is. I do not mean so much the language of the better sort of light literature as the language of conversation and of familiar letter-writing. Even some of the idiomatic blemishes of conversation may perhaps, in such a work, be venial, if not laudable. I have not always sought to be a minute purist even on points of grammar. Cowper, rather singularly, appears from his practice to proscribe colloquial abbreviations in poetry, though they were, I suppose, at least as usual in his time as in ours, and are used by Pope in his lighter works with little scruple. I have adopted them freely through nearly the whole of my version, though of course there are some passages where they could not be properly employed. Gifford says in the Essay on the Roman Satirists prefixed to his Juvenal that the general character of his translation will be found to be plainness: and if I do not misunderstand what he means by the term, it exactly represents the quality which I have endeavoured to attain myself. As a general rule, where a rendering presented itself to me which in dealing with another author I should welcome as poetical, I hare deliberately rejected it, and cast about instead for something which, without being feeble or slipshod, should have an idiomatic prosaic ring. Where Horace evidently means to rise, I have attempted to rise too: but through the greater part of this work I have been anxious, to use his own expression, to creep along the ground. No doubt there is danger in all this, the danger of triviality, pertness, and occasional vulgarity. Gifford's own work was attacked on its first appearance by a reviewer of the day precisely on those grounds: and though he seems to have made a vehement reply to his assailant, the changes which he made in his second edition showed that the censure was not without its effect. Still, where it is almost impossible to walk quite straight, the walker will reconcile himself to incidental deviations, and will even consider, where a slip is inevitable, on which side of the line it is better that the slip should take place.
A patent difficulty of course is to know what to do with local and temporary customs, allusions, proverbs, &c., which enter, I need not say, far more largely into satire or comedy than into any other form of writing. Here it is that the imitator has the advantage of the translator: a certain parallelism between his own time and the time of the author he imitates is postulated in the fact of his imitating at all, and if he is a dexterous writer, like Pope or Johnson, he is sure to be able to introduce a number of small equivalents, some of them perhaps actual improvements on the original, while he is at liberty to throw into the shade those points of which he despairs of being able to make anything. A translator has three courses open to him, to translate more or less verbally, so as to run the risk of being unintelligible to a reader unacquainted with the original, to generalize what is special, and to borrow something of the imitator's licence, introducing a modern speciality in place of an ancient. Here, as I have found on other occasions of the kind, to be allowed a choice of evils is itself a matter for self- congratulation. To be shut up entirely to one or other of these resources would be a serious misfortune: to be able to employ them (should it seem advisable) successively is no inconsiderable relief. The last of the three no doubt requires to be used very sparingly indeed, or one great object of translating a classic, the laying open of ancient life and thought to a modern reader, will be wantonly sacrificed. No one now-a-days would dream of going as far in this direction as Dryden and some of the translators of his period, talking e.g. about "the new Lord Mayor" and "the Louvre of the sky." But there are occasionally minor points—very minor ones, I admit—where a modern equivalent is allowable, if not absolutely necessary. Without transforming bodily a Roman caena into an English dinner, one may sometimes effect with advantage a trifling change in the less important dishes: a boar must not appear as a baron of beef, but a scarus may perhaps be turned, as I have turned it, into a sardine. In money again it would surely be needless pedantry in the translator of a satirist to talk of sestertia rather than pounds. I fear I have not always been at the pains to make the English sum even roughly equivalent to the Roman, but have from time to time introduced a particular English sum arbitrarily, if it appeared to suit the context or even the metre. Thus, where Philip gives or lends Mena fourteen sestertia that he may buy a farm, I have not startled the modern agricultural reader by talking about a hundred and twenty pounds, but have ventured to turn the sestertia into so many hundreds. On the whole, however, while I certainly cannot recommend any one to try to distil Latin antiquities from my translation as they are sometimes distilled from the original, I hope that I have not been unfaithful to the antique spirit, but have reflected with sufficient accuracy the broad features of Roman life.
Taken altogether, this translation will be found less close to the original than those with which I have formerly troubled the public. The considerations pointed out in the last paragraph will to a great extent account for this: generally too I may say that where the main characteristic of the original is perfect ease, the translator, if he is to be easy also, will be obliged to take considerable latitude. I trust however that I shall be found in most cases not to have translated irrespectively of the Latin, but to have borne it in mind even while departing from it most widely. I have studied the various commentators with some care, and hope that my version may not be without its use in turn as a sort of free commentary. I have omitted two entire satires and several passages from others. Some of them no one would wish to see translated: some, though capable of being rendered without offence a hundred or even fifty years ago, could hardly be so rendered now. Where I have not translated I have not in general cared to paraphrase, but have been silent altogether. I have in short given so much of my author as a well-judging reader would wish to dwell on in reading the original, and no more.
I have made acquaintance with such of the previous translations as I did not already know, though it seemed best to avoid consulting them in any passage till I had translated it myself. The few places in which I have been consciously indebted to others have been mentioned in the notes. Besides these, there are many other coincidences in expression and rhyme which might be detected by any one sharing my taste for that kind of reading, probably one or two in each poem: but as I believe them to be mere coincidences, I have not been at pains either to avoid them or to call attention to them. The only one of my predecessors in translating all the poems contained in this volume whom I need mention particularly is Mr. Howes. His book was published posthumously in 1845; but though it is stated in the preface to want the author's last corrections, a good deal of it must have been written long before, as the translation of the Satires is announced as nearly half finished in the introduction to a translation of Persius by the same author published in 1809, and some specimens given in the notes to that volume correspond almost exactly with the passages as they finally appear. The translation of Persius is a work of decided ability, but, in common I am inclined to think with all the other translations, fails to give an adequate notion of the characteristics of that very peculiar writer. The translation of the Horatian poems, on the other hand, seems to me on the whole undoubtedly successful, though, for whatever reason, its merits do not appear to have been recognized by the public. It is unequal, and it is too prolix: but when it is good, which is not seldom, it is very good, unforced, idiomatic, and felicitous. In one of its features, the habit of supplying connecting links to Horace's not unfrequently disconnected thoughts, perhaps I should have done wisely to follow it more than I have done: but the matter is one where a line must be drawn, and I am not without apprehension as it is that the scholar will sometimes blame me for introducing what the general reader at any rate may thank me for. I should be glad if any notice which I may be fortunate enough to attract should go beyond my own work, and extend to a predecessor who, if he had published a few years earlier, when translations were of more account, could scarcely have failed to rank high among the cultivators of this branch of literature.
QUI FIT, MAECENAS.
How comes it, say, Maecenas, if you can, That none will live like a contented man Where choice or chance directs, but each must praise The folk who pass through life by other ways? "Those lucky merchants!" cries the soldier stout, When years of toil have well-nigh worn him out: What says the merchant, tossing o'er the brine? "Yon soldier's lot is happier, sure, than mine: One short, sharp shock, and presto! all is done: Death in an instant comes, or victory's won." The lawyer lauds the farmer, when a knock Disturbs his sleep at crowing of the cock: The farmer, dragged to town on business, swears That only citizens are free from cares. I need not run through all: so long the list, Fabius himself would weary and desist: So take in brief my meaning: just suppose Some God should come, and with their wishes close: "See, here am I, come down of my mere grace To right you: soldier, take the merchant's place! You, counsellor, the farmer's! go your way, One here, one there! None stirring? all say nay? How now? you won't be happy when you may." Now, after this, would Jove be aught to blame If with both cheeks he burst into a flame, And vowed, when next they pray, they shall not find His temper easy, or his ear inclined?
Well, not to treat things lightly (though, for me, Why truth may not be gay, I cannot see: Just as, we know, judicious teachers coax With sugar-plum or cake their little folks To learn their alphabet):—still, we will try A graver tone, and lay our joking by. The man that with his plough subdues the land, The soldier stout, the vintner sly and bland, The venturous sons of ocean, all declare That with one view the toils of life they bear, When age has come, and labour has amassed Enough to live on, to retire at last: E'en so the ant (for no bad pattern she), That tiny type of giant industry, Drags grain by grain, and adds it to the sum Of her full heap, foreseeing cold to come: Yet she, when winter turns the year to chill, Stirs not an inch beyond her mounded hill, But lives upon her savings: you, more bold, Ne'er quit your gain for fiercest heat or cold: Fire, ocean, sword, defying all, you strive To make yourself the richest man alive. Yet where's the profit, if you hide by stealth In pit or cavern your enormous wealth? "Why, once break in upon it, friend, you know, And, dwindling piece by piece, the whole will go." But, if 'tis still unbroken, what delight Can all that treasure give to mortal wight? Say, you've a million quarters on your floor: Your stomach is like mine: it holds no more: Just as the slave who 'neath the bread-bag sweats No larger ration than his fellows gets. What matters it to reasonable men Whether they plough a hundred fields or ten? "But there's a pleasure, spite of all you say, In a large heap from which to take away." If both contain the modicum we lack, Why should your barn be better than my sack? You want a draught of water: a mere urn, Perchance a goblet, well would serve your turn: You say, "The stream looks scanty at its head; I'll take my quantum where 'tis broad instead." But what befalls the wight who yearns for more Than Nature bids him? down the waters pour, And whelm him, bank and all; while he whose greed Is kept in check, proportioned to his need, He neither draws his water mixed with mud, Nor leaves his life behind him in the flood.
But there's a class of persons, led astray By false desires, and this is what they say: "You cannot have enough: what you possess, That makes your value, be it more or less." What answer would you make to such as these? Why, let them hug their misery if they please, Like the Athenian miser, who was wont To meet men's curses with a hero's front: "Folks hiss me," said he, "but myself I clap When I tell o'er my treasures on my lap." So Tantalus catches at the waves that fly His thirsty palate—Laughing, are you? why? Change but the name, of you the tale is told: You sleep, mouth open, on your hoarded gold; Gold that you treat as sacred, dare not use, In fact, that charms you as a picture does. Come, will you hear what wealth can fairly do? 'Twill buy you bread, and vegetables too, And wine, a good pint measure: add to this Such needful things as flesh and blood would miss. But to go mad with watching, nights and days To stand in dread of thieves, fires, runaways Who filch and fly,—in these if wealth consist, Let me rank lowest on the paupers' list.
"But if you suffer from a chill attack, Or other chance should lay you on your back, You then have one who'll sit by your bed-side, Will see the needful remedies applied, And call in a physician, to restore Your health, and give you to your friends once more." Nor wife nor son desires your welfare: all Detest you, neighbours, gossips, great and small. What marvel if, when wealth's your one concern, None offers you the love you never earn? Nay, would you win the kinsmen Nature sends Made ready to your hand, and keep them friends, 'Twere but lost labour, as if one should train A donkey for the course by bit and rein.
Make then an end of getting: know, the more Your wealth, the less the risk of being poor; And, having gained the object of your quest, Begin to slack your efforts and take rest; Nor act like one Ummidius (never fear, The tale is short, and 'tis the last you'll hear), So rich, his gold he by the peck would tell, So mean, the slave that served him dressed as well; E'en to his dying day he went in dread Of perishing for simple want of bread, Till a brave damsel, of Tyndarid line The true descendant, clove him down the chine.
"What? would you have me live like some we know, Maenius or Nomentanus?" There you go! Still in extremes! in bidding you forsake A miser's ways, I say not, Be a rake. 'Twixt Tanais and Visellius' sire-in-law A step there is, and broader than a straw. Yes, there's a mean in morals: life has lines, To north or south of which all virtue pines.
Now to resume our subject: why, I say, Should each man act the miser in his way, Still discontented with his natural lot, Still praising those who have what he has not? Why should he waste with very spite, to see His neighbour has a milkier cow than he, Ne'er think how much he's richer than the mass, But always strive this man or that to pass? In such a contest, speed we as we may, There's some one wealthier ever in the way. So from their base when vying chariots pour, Each driver presses on the car before, Wastes not a thought on rivals overpast, But leaves them to lag on among the last. Hence comes it that the man is rarely seen Who owns that his a happy life has been, And, thankful for past blessings, with good will Retires, like one who has enjoyed his fill. Enough: you'll think I've rifled the scrutore Of blind Crispinus, if I prose on more.
OMNIBUS HOC VITIUM.
All singers have a fault: if asked to use Their talent among friends, they never choose; Unask'd, they ne'er leave off. Just such a one Tigellius was, Sardinia's famous son. Caesar, who could have forced him to obey, By his sire's friendship and his own might pray, Yet not draw forth a note: then, if the whim Took him, he'd troll a Bacchanalian hymn, From top to bottom of the tetrachord, Till the last course was set upon the board. One mass of inconsistence, oft he'd fly As if the foe were following in full cry, While oft he'd stalk with a majestic gait, Like Juno's priest in ceremonial-state. Now, he would keep two hundred serving-men, And now, a bare establishment of ten. Of kings and tetrarchs with an equal's air He'd talk: next day he'd breathe the hermit's prayer: "A table with three legs, a shell to hold My salt, and clothes, though coarse, to keep out cold." Yet give this man, so frugal, so content, A thousand, in a week 'twould all be spent. All night he would sit up, all day would snore: So strange a jumble ne'er was seen before.
"Hold!" some one cries, "have you no failings?" Yes; Failings enough, but different, maybe less. One day when Maenius happened to attack Novius the usurer behind his back, "Do you not know yourself?" said one, "or think That if you play the stranger, we shall wink?" "Not know myself!" he answered, "you say true: I do not: so I take a stranger's due." Self-love like this is knavish and absurd, And well deserves a damnatory word. You glance at your own faults; your eyes are blear: You eye your neighbour's; straightway you see clear, Like hawk or basilisk: your neighbours pry Into your frailties with as keen an eye. A man is passionate, perhaps misplaced In social circles of fastidious taste; His ill-trimmed beard, his dress of uncouth style, His shoes ill-fitting, may provoke a smile: But he's the soul of virtue; but he's kind; But that coarse body hides a mighty mind. Now, having scanned his breast, inspect your own, And see if there no failings have been sown By Nature or by habit, as the fern Springs in neglected fields, for men to burn.
True love, we know, is blind: defects that blight The loved one's charms escape the lover's sight, Nay, pass for beauties, as Balbinus glows With admiration of his Hagna's nose. Ah, if in friendship we e'en did the same, And virtue cloaked the error with her name! Come, let us learn how friends at friends should look By a leaf taken from a father's book. Has the dear child a squint? at home he's classed With Venus' self; "her eyes have just that cast:" Is he a dwarf like Sisyphus? his sire Calls him "sweet pet," and would not have him higher, Gives Varus' name to knock-kneed boys, and dubs His club-foot youngster Scaurus, king of clubs. E'en so let us our neighbours' frailties scan: A friend is close; call him a careful man: Another's vain and fond of boasting; say, He talks in an engaging, friendly way: A third is a barbarian, rude and free; Straightforward and courageous let him be: A fourth is apt to break into a flame; An ardent spirit—make we that his name. This is the sovereign recipe, be sure, To win men's hearts, and having won, secure.
But WE put virtue down to vice's score, And foul the vessel that was clean before: See, here's a modest man, who ranks too low In his own judgment; him we nickname slow: Another, ever on his guard, takes care No enemy shall catch him unaware, (Small wonder, truly, in a world like this, Beset with dogs that growl and snakes that hiss); We turn his merit to a fault, and style His prudence mere disguise, his caution guile. Or take some honest soul, who, full of glee, Breaks on a patron's solitude, like me, Finds his Maecenas book in hand or dumb, And pokes him with remarks, the first that come; We cry "He lacks e'en common tact." Alas! What hasty laws against ourselves we pass! For none is born without his faults: the best But bears a lighter wallet than the rest. A man of genial nature, as is fair, My virtues with my vices will compare, And, as with good or bad he fills the scale, Lean to the better side, should that prevail: So, when he seeks my friendship, I will trim The wavering balance in my turn for him. He that has fears his blotches may offend Speaks gently of the pimples of his friend: For reciprocity exacts her dues, And they that need excuse must needs excuse.
Now, since resentment, spite of all we do, Will haunt us fools, and other vices too, Why should not reason use her own just sense, And square her punishments to each offence? Suppose a slave, as he removes the dish, Licks the warm gravy or remains of fish, Should his vexed master gibbet the poor lad, He'd be a second Labeo, STARING mad. Now take another instance, and remark A case of madness, grosser and more stark. A friend has crossed you:—'tis a slight affair; Not to forgive it writes you down a bear:— You hate the man and his acquaintance fly, As Ruso's debtors hide from Ruso's eye; Poor victims, doomed, when that black pay-day's come, Unless by hook or crook they raise the sum, To stretch their necks, like captives to the knife, And listen to dull histories for dear life. Say, he has drunk too much, or smashed some ware, Evander's once, inestimably rare, Or stretched before me, in his zeal to dine, To snatch a chicken I had meant for mine; What then? is that a reason he should seem Less pleasant, less deserving my esteem? How could I treat him worse, were he to thieve, Betray a secret, or a trust deceive?
Your men of words, who rate all crimes alike, Collapse and founder, when on fact they strike: Sense, custom, all, cry out against the thing, And high expedience, right's perennial spring. When men first crept from out earth's womb, like worms, Dumb speechless creatures, with scarce human forms, With nails or doubled fists they used to fight For acorns or for sleeping-holes at night; Clubs followed next; at last to arms they came, Which growing practice taught them how to frame, Till words and names were found, wherewith to mould The sounds they uttered, and their thoughts unfold; Thenceforth they left off fighting, and began To build them cities, guarding man from man, And set up laws as barriers against strife That threatened person, property, or wife. 'Twas fear of wrong gave birth to right, you'll find, If you but search the records of mankind. Nature knows good and evil, joy and grief, But just and unjust are beyond her brief: Nor can philosophy, though finely spun, By stress of logic prove the two things one, To strip your neighbour's garden of a flower And rob a shrine at midnight's solemn hour. A rule is needed, to apportion pain, Nor let you scourge when you should only cane. For that you're likely to be overmild, And treat a ruffian like a naughty child, Of this there seems small danger, when you say That theft's as bad as robbery in its way, And vow all villains, great and small, shall swing From the same tree, if men will make you king.
But tell me, Stoic, if the wise, you teach, Is king, Adonis, cobbler, all and each, Why wish for what you've got? "Tou fail to see What great Chrysippus means by that," says he. "What though the wise ne'er shoe nor slipper made, The wise is still a brother of the trade. Just as Hennogenes, when silent, still Remains a singer of consummate skill, As sly Alfenius, when he had let drop His implements of art and shut up shop, Was still a barber, so the wise is best In every craft, a king's among the rest." Hail to your majesty! yet, ne'ertheless, Rude boys are pulling at your beard, I guess; And now, unless your cudgel keeps them off, The mob begins to hustle, push, and scoff; You, all forlorn, attempt to stand at bay, And roar till your imperial lungs give way. Well, so we part: each takes his separate path: You make your progress to your farthing bath, A king, with ne'er a follower in your train, Except Crispinus, that distempered brain; While I find pleasant friends to screen me, when I chance to err, like other foolish men; Bearing and borne with, so the change we ring, More blest as private folks than you as king.
EUPOLIS ATQUE CRATINUS.
Cratinus, Aristophanes, and all The elder comic poets, great and small, If e'er a worthy in those ancient times Deserved peculiar notice for his crimes, Adulterer, cut-throat, ne'er-do-well, or thief, Portrayed him without fear in strong relief. From these, as lineal heir, Lucilius springs, The same in all points save the tune he sings, A shrewd keen satirist, yet somewhat hard And rugged, if you view him as a bard. For this was his mistake: he liked to stand, One leg before him, leaning on one hand, Pour forth two hundred verses in an hour, And think such readiness a proof of power. When like a torrent he bore down, you'd find He left a load of refuse still behind: Fluent, yet indolent, he would rebel Against the toil of writing, writing WELL, Not writing MUCH; for that I grant you. See, Here comes Crispinus, wants to bet with me, And offers odds: "A meeting, if you please: Take we our tablets each, you those, I these: Name place, and time, and umpires: let us try Who can compose the faster, you or I." Thank Heaven, that formed me of unfertile mind, My speech not copious, and my thoughts confined! But you, be like the bellows, if you choose, Still puffing, puffing, till the metal fuse, And vent your windy nothings with a sound That makes the depth they come from seem profound.
Happy is Fannius, with immortals classed, His bust and bookcase canonized at last, While, as for me, none reads the things I write. Loath as I am in public to recite, Knowing that satire finds small favour, since Most men want whipping, and who want it, wince. Choose from the crowd a casual wight, 'tis seen He's place-hunter or miser, vain or mean: One raves of others' wives: one stands agaze At silver dishes: bronze is Albius' craze: Another barters goods the whole world o'er, From distant east to furthest western shore, Driving along like dust-cloud through the air To increase his capital or not impair: These, one and all, the clink of metre fly, And look on poets with a dragon's eye. "Beware! he's vicious: so he gains his end, A selfish laugh, he will not spare a friend: Whate'er he scrawls, the mean malignant rogue Is all alive to get it into vogue: Give him a handle, and your tale is known To every giggling boy and maundering crone." A weighty accusation! now, permit Some few brief words, and I will answer it: First, be it understood, I make no claim To rank with those who bear a poet's name: 'Tis not enough to turn out lines complete, Each with its proper quantum of five feet; Colloquial verse a man may write like me, But (trust an author)'tis not poetry. No; keep that name for genius, for a soul Of Heaven's own fire, for words that grandly roll. Hence some have questioned if the Muse we call The Comic Muse be really one at all: Her subject ne'er aspires, her style ne'er glows, And, save that she talks metre, she talks prose. "Aye, but the angry father shakes the stage, When on his graceless son he pours his rage, Who, smitten with the mistress of the hour, Rejects a well-born wife with ample dower, Gets drunk, and (worst of all) in public sight Keels with a blazing flambeau while 'tis light." Well, could Pomponius' sire to life return, Think you he'd rate his son in tones less stern? So then 'tis not sufficient to combine Well-chosen words in a well-ordered line, When, take away the rhythm, the self-same words Would suit an angry father off the boards. Strip what I write, or what Lucilius wrote, Of cadence and succession, time and note, Reverse the order, put those words behind That went before, no poetry you'll find: But break up this, "When Battle's brazen door Blood-boltered Discord from its fastenings tore," 'Tis Orpheus mangled by the Maenads: still The bard remains, unlimb him as you will.
Enough of this: some other time we'll see If Satire is or is not poetry: Today I take the question, if 'tis just That men like you should view it with distrust. Sulcius and Caprius promenade in force, Each with his papers, virulently hoarse, Bugbears to robbers both: but he that's true And decent-living may defy the two. Say, you're first cousin to that goodly pair Caelius and Birrius, and their foibles share: No Sulcius nor yet Caprius here you see In your unworthy servant: why fear ME? No books of mine on stall or counter stand, To tempt Tigellius' or some clammier hand, Nor read I save to friends, and that when pressed, Not to chance auditor or casual guest. Others are less fastidious: some will air Their last production in the public square: Some choose the bathroom, for the walls all round Make the voice sweeter and improve the sound: Weak brains, to whom the question ne'er occurred If what they do be vain, ill-timed, absurd. "But you give pain: your habit is to bite," Rejoins the foe, "of sot deliberate spite." Who broached that slander? of the men I know, With whom I live, have any told you so? He who maligns an absent friend's fair fame, Who says no word for him when others blame, Who courts a reckless laugh by random hits, Just for the sake of ranking among wits, Who feigns what he ne'er saw, a secret blabs, Beware him, Roman! that man steals or stabs! Oft you may see three couches, four on each, Where all are wincing under one man's speech, All, save the host: his turn too comes at last, When wine lets loose the humour shame held fast: And you, who hate malignity, can see Nought here but pleasant talk, well-bred and free. I, if I chance in laughing vein to note Rufillus' civet and Gargonius' goat, Must I be toad or scorpion? Look at home: Suppose Petillius' theft, the talk of Rome, Named in your presence, mark how yon defend In your accustomed strain your absent friend: "Petillius? yes, I know him well: in truth We have been friends, companions, e'en from youth: A thousand times he's served me, and I joy That he can walk the streets without annoy: Yet 'tis a puzzle, I confess, to me How from that same affair he got off free." Here is the poison-bag of malice, here The gall of fell detraction, pure and sheer: And these, I'swear, if man such pledge may give, My pen and heart shall keep from, while I live.
But if I still seem personal and bold, Perhaps you'll pardon, when my story's told. When my good father taught me to be good, Scarecrows he took of living flesh and blood. Thus, if he warned me not to spend but spare The moderate means I owe to his wise care, 'Twas, "See the life that son of Albius leads! Observe that Barrus, vilest of ill weeds! Plain beacons these for heedless youth, whose taste Might lead them else a fair estate to waste:" If lawless love were what he bade me shun, "Avoid Scetanius' slough," his words would run: "Wise men," he'd add, "the reasons will explain Why you should follow this, from that refrain: For me, if I can train you in the ways Trod by the worthy folks of earlier days, And, while you need direction, keep your name And life unspotted, I've attained my aim: When riper years have seasoned brain and limb, You'll drop your corks, and like a Triton swim." 'Twas thus he formed my boyhood: if he sought To make me do some action that I ought, "You see your warrant there," he'd say, and clench His word with some grave member of the bench: So too with things forbidden: "can you doubt The deed's a deed an honest man should scout, When, just for this same matter, these and those, Like open drains, are stinking 'neath your nose?" Sick gluttons of a next-door funeral hear, And learn self-mastery in the school of fear: And so a neighbour's scandal many a time Has kept young minds from running into crime.
Thus I grew up, unstained by serious ill, Though venial faults, I grant you, haunt me still: Yet items I could name retrenched e'en there By time, plain speaking, individual care; For, when I chance to stroll or lounge alone, I'm not without a Mentor of my own: "This course were better: that might help to mend My daily life, improve me as a friend: There some one showed ill-breeding: can I say I might not fall into the like one day?" So with closed lips I ruminate, and then In leisure moments play with ink and pen: For that's an instance, I must needs avow, Of those small faults I hinted at just now: Grant it your prompt indulgence, or a throng Of poets shall come up, some hundred strong, And by mere numbers, in your own despite, Force you, like Jews, to be our proselyte.
Leaving great Rome, my journey I begin, And reach Aricia, where a moderate inn (With me was Heliodorus, who knows more Of rhetoric than e'er did Greek before): Next Appii Forum, filled, e'en, nigh to choke, With knavish publicans and boatmen folk. This portion of our route, which most get through At one good stretch, we chose to split in two, Taking it leisurely: for those who go The Appian road are jolted less when slow. I find the water villanous, decline My stomach's overtures, refuse to dine, And sit and sit with temper less than sweet Watching my fellow-travellers while they eat. Now Night prepared o'er all the earth to spread Her veil, and light the stars up overhead: Boatmen and slaves a slanging-match begin: "Ho! put in here! What! take three hundred in? You'll swamp us all:" so, while our fares we pay, And the mule's tied, a whole hour slips away. No hope of sleep: the tenants of the marsh, Hoarse frogs and shrill mosquitos, sing so harsh, While passenger and boatman chant the praise Of their true-loves in amoebean lays, Each fairly drunk: the passenger at last Tires of the game, and soon his eyes are fast: Then to a stone his mule the boatman moors, Leaves her to pasture, lays him down, and snores. And now 'twas near the dawning of the day, When 'tis discovered that we make no way: Out leaps a hair-brained fellow and attacks With a stout cudgel mule's and boatman's backs: And so at length, thanks to this vigorous friend, By ten o'clock we reach our boating's end. Tired with the voyage, face and hands we lave In pure Feronia's hospitable wave. We take some food, then creep three miles or so To Anxur, built on cliffs that gleam like snow; There rest awhile, for there our mates were due, Maecenas and Cocceius, good and true, Sent on a weighty business, to compose A feud, and make them friends who late were foes. I seize on the occasion, and apply A touch of ointment to an ailing eye. Meanwhile Maecenas with Cocceius came, And Capito, whose errand was the same, A man of men, accomplished and refined, Who knew, as few have known, Antonius' mind. Along by Fundi next we take our way For all its praetor sought to make us stay, Not without laughter at the foolish soul, His senatorial stripe and pan of coal. Then at Mamurra's city we pull up, Lodge with Murena, with Fonteius sup. Next morn the sun arises, O how sweet! At Sinnessa we with Plotius meet, Varius and Virgil; men than whom on earth I know none dearer, none of purer worth. O what a hand-shaking! while sense abides, A friend to me is worth the world besides. Campania's border-bridge next day we crossed, There housed and victualled at the public cost. The next, we turn off early from the road At Capua, and the mules lay down their load; There, while Maecenas goes to fives, we creep, Virgil and I, to bed, and so to sleep: For, though the game's a pleasant one to play, Weak stomachs and weak eyes are in the way. Then to Cocceius' country-house we come, Beyond the Caudian inns, a sumptuous home. Now, Muse, recount the memorable fight 'Twixt valiant Messius and Sarmentus wight, And tell me first from what proud lineage sprung The champions joined in battle, tongue with tongue. From Oscan blood great Messius' sires derive: Sarmentus has a mistress yet alive. Such was their parentage: they meet in force: Sarmentus starts: "You're just like a wild horse." We burst into a laugh. The other said, "Well, here's a horse's trick:" and tossed his head. "O, were your horn yet growing, how your foe Would rue it, sure, when maimed you threaten so!" Sarmentus cries: for Messius' brow was marred By a deep wound, which left it foully scarred. Then, joking still at his grim countenance, He begged him just to dance the Cyclop dance: No buskin, mask, nor other aid of art Would be required to make him look his part. Messius had much to answer: "Was his chain Suspended duly in the Lares' fane? Though now a notary, he might yet be seized And given up to his mistress, if she pleased. Nay, more," he asked, "why had he run away, When e'en a single pound of corn a day Had filled a maw so slender?" So we spent Our time at table, to our high content.
Then on to Beneventum, where our host, As some lean thrushes he essayed to roast, Was all but burnt: for up the chimney came The blaze, and well nigh set the house on flame: The guests and servants snatch the meat, and fall Upon the fire with buckets, one and all. Next rise to view Apulia's well-known heights, Which keen Atabulus so sorely bites: And there perchance we might be wandering yet, But shelter in Trivicum's town we get, Where green damp branches in the fireplace spread Make our poor eyes to water in our head. Then four and twenty miles, a good long way, Our coaches take us, in a town to stay Whose name no art can squeeze into a line, Though otherwise 'tis easy to define: For water there, the cheapest thing on earth, Is sold for money: but the bread is worth A fancy price, and travellers who know Their business take it with them when they go: For at Canusium, town of Diomed, The drink's as bad, and grits are in the bread. Here to our sorrow Varius takes his leave, And, grieved himself, compels his friends to grieve. Fatigued, we come to Rubi: for the way Was long, and rain had made it sodden clay. Next day, with better weather, o'er worse ground We get to Barium's town, where fish abound. Then Gnatia, built in water-nymphs' despite, Made us cut jokes and laugh, as well we might, Listening to tales of incense, wondrous feat, That melts in temples without fire to heat. Tell the crazed Jews such miracles as these! I hold the gods live lives of careless ease, And, if a wonder happens, don't assume 'Tis sent in anger from the upstairs room. Last comes Brundusium: there the lines I penned, The leagues I travelled, find alike their end.
NON QUIA, MAECENAS.
What if, Maecenas, none, though ne'er so blue His Tusco-Lydian blood, surpasses you? What if your grandfathers, on either hand, Father's and mother's, were in high command? Not therefore do you curl the lip of scorn At nobodies, like me, of freedman born: Far other rule is yours, of rank or birth To raise no question, so there be but worth, Convinced, and truly too, that wights unknown, Ere Servius' rise set freedmen on the throne, Despite their ancestors, not seldom came To high employment, honours, and fair fame, While great Laevinus, scion of the race That pulled down Tarquin from his pride of place, Has ne'er been valued at a poor half-crown E'en in the eyes of that wise judge, the town, That muddy source of dignity, which sees No virtue but in busts and lineal trees.
Well, but for us; what thoughts should ours be, say, Removed from vulgar judgments miles away? Grant that Laevinus yet would be preferred To low-born Decius by the common herd, That censor Appius, just because I came From freedman's loins, would obelize my name— And serve me right; for 'twas my restless pride Kept me from sleeping in my own poor hide. But Glory, like a conqueror, drags behind Her glittering car the souls of all mankind; Nor less the lowly than the noble feels The onward roll of those victorious wheels. Come, tell me, Tillius, have you cause to thank The stars that gave you power, restored you rank? Ill-will, scarce audible in low estate, Gives tongue, and opens loudly, now you're great. Poor fools! they take the stripe, draw on the shoe, And hear folks asking, "Who's that fellow? who?" Just as a man with Barrus's disease, His one sole care a lady's eye to please, Whene'er he walks abroad, sets on the fair To con him over, leg, face, teeth, and hair; So he that undertakes to hold in charge Town, country, temples, all the realm at large, Gives all the world a title to enquire The antecedents of his dam or sire. "What? you to twist men's necks or scourge them, you, The son of Syrus, Dama, none knows who?" "Aye, but I sit before my colleague; he Ranks with my worthy father, not with me." And think you, on the strength of this, to rise A Paullus or Messala in our eyes? Talk of your colleague! he's a man of parts: Suppose three funerals jostle with ten carts All in the forum, still you'll hear his voice Through horn and clarion: that commends our choice.
Now on myself, the freedman's son, I touch, The freedman's son, by all contemned as such, Once, when a legion followed my command, Now, when Maecenas takes me by the hand. But this and that are different: some stern judge My military rank with cause might grudge, But not your friendship, studious as you've been To choose good men, not pushing, base, or mean. In truth, to luck I care not to pretend, For 'twas not luck that mark'd me for your friend: Virgil at first, that faithful heart and true, And Varius after, named my name to you. Brought to your presence, stammeringly I told (For modesty forbade me to be bold) No vaunting tale of ancestry of pride, Of good broad acres and sleek nags to ride, But simple truth: a few brief words you say, As is your wont, and wish me a good day. Then, nine months after, graciously you send, Desire my company, and hail me friend. O, 'tis no common fortune, when one earns A friend's regard, who man from man discerns, Not by mere accident of lofty birth But by unsullied life, and inborn worth!
Yet, if my nature, otherwise correct, But with some few and trifling faults is flecked, Just as a spot or mole might be to blame Upon some body else of comely frame, If none can call me miserly and mean Or tax my life with practices unclean, If I have lived unstained and unreproved (Forgive self-praise), if loving and beloved, I owe it to my father, who, though poor, Passed by the village school at his own door, The school where great tall urchins in a row, Sons of great tall centurions, used to go, With slate and satchel on their backs, to pay Their monthly quota punctual to the day, And took his boy to Rome, to learn the arts Which knight or senator to HIS imparts. Whoe'er had seen me, neat and more than neat, With slaves behind me, in the crowded street, Had surely thought a fortune fair and large, Two generations old, sustained the charge. Himself the true tried guardian of his son, Whene'er I went to class, he still made one. Why lengthen out the tale? he kept me chaste, Which is the crown of virtue, undisgraced In deed and name: he feared not lest one day The world should talk of money thrown away, If after all I plied some trade for hire, Like him, a tax-collector, or a crier: Nor had I murmured: as it is, the score Of gratitude and praise is all the more. No: while my head's unturned, I ne'er shall need To blush for that dear father, or to plead As men oft plead, 'tis Nature's fault, not mine, I came not of a better, worthier line. Not thus I speak, not thus I feel: the plea Might serve another, but 'twere base in me. Should Fate this moment bid me to go back O'er all my length of years, my life retrack To its first hour, and pick out such descent As man might wish for e'en to pride's content, I should rest satisfied with mine, nor choose New parents, decked with senatorial shoes, Mad, most would think me, sane, as you'll allow, To waive a load ne'er thrust on me till now. More gear 'twould make me get without delay, More bows there'd be to make, more calls to pay, A friend or two must still be at my side, That all alone I might not drive or ride, More nags would want their corn, more grooms their meat, And waggons must be bought, to save their feet. Now on my bobtailed mule I jog at ease, As far as e'en Tarentum, if I please, A wallet for my things behind me tied, Which galls his crupper, as I gall his side, And no one rates my meanness, as they rate Yours, noble Tillius, when you ride in state On the Tiburtine road, five slaves EN SUITE, Wineholder and et-ceteras all complete.
'Tis thus my life is happier, man of pride, Than yours and that of half the world beside. When the whim leads, I saunter forth alone, Ask how are herbs, and what is flour a stone, Lounge through the Circus with its crowd of liars, Or in the Forum, when the sun retires, Talk to a soothsayer, then go home to seek My frugal meal of fritter, vetch, and leek: Three youngsters serve the food: a slab of white Contains two cups, one ladle, clean and bright: Next, a cheap basin ranges on the shelf, With jug and saucer of Campanian delf: Then off to bed, where I can close my eyes Not thinking how with morning I must rise And face grim Marsyas, who is known to swear Young Novius' looks are what he cannot bear. I lie a-bed till ten: then stroll a bit, Or read or write, if in a silent fit, And rub myself with oil, not taken whence Natta takes his, at some poor lamp's expense. So to the field and ball; but when the sun Bids me go bathe, the field and ball I shun: Then eat a temperate luncheon, just to stay A sinking stomach till the close of day, Kill time in-doors, and so forth. Here you see A careless life, from stir and striving free, Happier (O be that flattering unction mine!) Than if three quaestors figured in my line.
PROSCRIPTI REGIS RUPILI.
How mongrel Persius managed to outsting That pungent proscript, foul Rupilius King, Is known, I take it, to each wight that drops Oil on bleared eyes, or lolls in barbers' shops.
Persius was rich, a man of great affairs, Steeped to the lips in monetary cares Down at Clazomenae: and some dispute 'Twixt him and King had festered to a suit. Tough, pushing, loud was he, with power of hate To beat e'en King's; so pestilent his prate, That Barrus and Sisenna you would find Left in the running leagues and leagues behind. Well, to return to King: they quickly see They can't agree except to disagree: For 'tis a rule, that wrath is short or long Just as the combatants are weak or strong: 'Twixt Hector and Aeacides the strife Was truceless, mortal, could but end with life, For this plain reason, that in either wight The tide of valour glowed at its full height; Whereas, if two poor cravens chance to jar, Or if an ill-matched couple meet in war, Like Diomede and Glaucus, straight the worse Gives in, and presents are exchanged of course.
Well, in the days when Brutus held command, With praetor's rank, o'er Asia's wealthy land, Persius and King engage, a goodly pair, Like Bithus matched with Bacchius to a hair. Keen as sharp steel, before the court they go, Bach in himself as good as a whole show.
Persius begins: amid the general laugh He praises Brutus, praises Brutus' staff, Brutus, the healthful sun of Asia's sphere, His staff, the minor stars that bless the year, All, save poor King; a dog-star he, the sign To farmers inauspicious and malign: So roaring on he went, like wintry flood, Where axes seldom come to thin the wood.
Then, as he thundered, King, Praeneste-bred, Hurled vineyard slang in handfuls at his head, A tough grape-gatherer, whom the passer-by Could ne'er put down, with all his cuckoo cry.
Sluiced with Italian vinegar, the Greek At length vociferates, "Brutus, let me speak! You are our great king-killer: why delay To kill this King? I vow 'tis in your way."
IBAM FORTE VIA SACRA.
Long the Sacred Road I strolled one day, Deep in some bagatelle (you know my way), When up comes one whose name I scarcely knew— "The dearest of dear fellows! how d'ye do?" He grasped my hand—"Well, thanks: the same to you." Then, as he still kept walking by my side, To cut things short, "You've no commands?" I cried. "Nay, you should know me: I'm a man of lore." "Sir, I'm your humble servant all the more." All in a fret to make him let me go, I now walk fast, now loiter and walk slow, Now whisper to my servant, while the sweat Ran down so fast, my very feet were wet. "O had I but a temper worth the name, Like yours, Bolanus!" inly I exclaim, While he keeps running on at a hand-trot, About the town, the streets, I know not what. Finding I made no answer, "Ah! I see, Tou 're at a strait to rid yourself of me; But 'tis no use: I'm a tenacious friend, And mean to hold you till your journey's end," "No need to take you such a round: I go To visit an acquaintance you don't know: Poor man! he's ailing at his lodging, far Beyond the bridge, where Caesar's gardens are." "O, never mind: I've nothing else to do, And want a walk, so I'll step on with you."
Down go my ears, in donkey-fashion, straight; You've seen them do it, when their load's too great. "If I mistake not," he begins, "you'll find Viscus not more, nor Varius, to yoar mind: There's not a man can turn a verse so soon, Or dance so nimbly when he hears a tune: While, as for singing—ah! my forte is there: Tigellius' self might envy me, I'll swear."
He paused for breath: I falteringly strike in: "Have you a mother? have you kith or kin To whom your life is precious?" "Not a soul: My line's extinct: I have interred the whole." O happy they! (so into thought I fell) After life's endless babble they sleep well: My turn is next: dispatch me: for the weird Has come to pass which I so long have feared, The fatal weird a Sabine beldame sung, All in my nursery days, when life was young: "No sword nor poison e'er shall take him off, Nor gout, nor pleurisy, nor racking cough: A babbling tongue shall kill him: let him fly All talkers, as he wishes not to die."
We got to Vesta's temple, and the sun Told us a quarter of the day was done. It chanced he had a suit, and was bound fast Either to make appearance or be cast. "Step here a moment, if you love me." "Nay; I know no law: 'twould hurt my health to stay: And then, my call." "I'm doubting what to do, Whether to give my lawsuit up or you. "Me, pray!" "I will not." On he strides again: I follow, unresisting, in his train.
"How stand you with Maecenas?" he began: "He picks his friends with care; a shrewd wise man: In fact, I take it, one could hardly name A head so cool in life's exciting game. 'Twould be a good deed done, if you could throw Your servant in his way; I mean, you know, Just to play second: in a month, I'll swear, You'd make an end of every rival there." "O, you mistake: we don't live there in league: I know no house more sacred from intrigue: I'm never distanced in my friend's good grace By wealth or talent: each man finds his place." "A miracle! if 'twere not told by you, I scarce should credit it." "And yet 'tis true." "Ah, well, you double my desire to rise To special favour with a man so wise." "You've but to wish it: 'twill be your own fault, If, with your nerve, you win not by assault: He can be won: that puts him on his guard, And so the first approach is always hard." "No fear of me, sir: a judicious bribe Will work a wonder with the menial tribe: Say, I'm refused admittance for to-day; I'll watch my time; I'll meet him in the way, Escort him, dog him. In this world of ours The path to what we want ne'er runs on flowers."
'Mid all this prate there met us, as it fell, Aristius, my good friend, who knew him well. We stop: inquiries and replies go round: "Where do you hail from?" "Whither are you bound?" There as he stood, impassive as a clod, I pull at his limp arms, frown, wink, and nod, To urge him to release me. With a smile He feigns stupidity: I burn with bile. "Something there was you said you wished to tell To me in private." "Ay, I mind it well; But not just now: 'tis a Jews' fast to-day: Affront a sect so touchy! nay, friend, nay." "Faith, I've no scruples." "Ah! but I've a few: I'm weak, you know, and do as others do: Some other time: excuse me." Wretched me! That ever man so black a sun should see! Off goes the rogue, and leaves me in despair, Tied to the altar, with the knife in air: When, by rare chance, the plaintiff in the suit Knocks up against us: "Whither now, you brute?" He roars like thunder: then to me: "You'll stand My witness, sir?" "My ear's at your command." Off to the court he drags him: shouts succeed: A mob collects: thank Phoebus, I am freed.
Yes, I did say that, view him as a bard, Lucilius is unrhythmic, rugged, hard. Lives there a partisan so weak of brain As to join issue on a fact so plain? But that he had a gift of biting wit, In the same page I hastened to admit. Now understand me: that's a point confessed; But he who grants it grants not all the rest: For, were a bard a bard because he's smart, Laberius' mimes were products of high art. 'Tis not enough to make your reader's face Wear a broad grin, though that too has its place: Terseness there wants, to make the thought ring clear, Nor with a crowd of words confuse the ear: There wants a plastic style, now grave, now light, Now such as bard or orator would write, And now the language of a well-bred man, Who masks his strength, and says not all he can: And pleasantry will often cut clean through Hard knots that gravity would scarce undo. On this the old comedians rested: hence They're still the models of all men of sense, Despite Tigellius and his ape, whose song Is Calvus and Catullus all day long.
"But surely that's a merit quite unique, His gift of mixing Latin up with Greek," Unique, you lags in learning? what? a knack Caught by Pitholeon with his hybrid clack? "Nay, but the mixture gives the style more grace, As Chian, plus Falernian, has more race." Come, tell me truly: is this rule applied To verse-making by you, and nought beside, Or would you practise it, when called to plead For poor Petillius, at his direst need? Forsooth, you choose that moment, to disown Your old forefathers, Latin to the bone, And while great Pedius and Corvinus strain Against you in pure Latin lungs and brain, Like double-tongued Canusian, try to speak A piebald speech, half native and half Greek!
Once when, though born on this side of the sea, I tried my hand at Attic poetry, Quirinus warned me, rising to my view An hour past midnight, just when dreams are true: "Seek you the throng of Grecian bards to swell? Take sticks into a forest just as well." So, while Alpinus spills his Memnon's blood, Or gives his Rhine a headpiece of brown mud, I toy with trifles such as this, unmeet At Tarpa's grave tribunal to compete, Or, mouthed by well-graced actors, be the rage Of mobs, and hold possession of the stage.
No hand can match Fundanius at a piece Where slave and mistress clip an old man's fleece: Pollio in buskins chants the deeds of kings: Varius outsoars us all on Homer's wings: The Muse that loves the woodland and the farm To Virgil lends her gayest, tenderest charm. For me, this walk of satire, vainly tried By Atacinus and some few beside, Best suits my gait: yet readily I yield To him who first set footstep on that field, Nor meanly seek to rob him of the bay That shows so comely on his locks of grey.
Well, but I called him muddy, said you'd find More sand than gold in what he leaves behind. And you, sir Critic, does your finer sense In Homer mark no matter for offence? Or e'en Lucilius, our good-natured friend, Sees he in Accius nought he fain would mend? Does he not laugh at Ennius' halting verse, Yet own himself no better, if not worse? And what should hinder me, as I peruse Lucilius' works, from asking, if I choose, If fate or chance forbade him to attain A smoother measure, a more finished strain, Than he (you'll let me fancy such a man) Who, anxious only to make sense and scan, Pours forth two hundred verses ere he sups, Two hundred more, on rising from his cups? Like to Etruscan Cassius' stream of song, Which flowed, men say, so copious and so strong That, when he died, his kinsfolk simply laid His works in order, and his pyre was made. No; grant Lucilius arch, engaging, gay; Grant him the smoothest writer of his day; Lay stress upon the fact that he'd to seek In his own mind what others find in Greek; Grant all you please, in turn you must allow, Had fate postponed his life from then to now, He'd prune redundancies, apply the file To each excrescence that deforms his style, Oft in the pangs of labour scratch his head, And bite his nails, and bite them, till they bled. Oh yes! believe me, you must draw your pen Not once nor twice but o'er and o'er again Through what you've written, if you would entice The man that reads you once to read you twice, Not making popular applause your cue, But looking to fit audience, although few. Say, would you rather have the things you scrawl Doled out by pedants for their boys to drawl? Not I: like hissed Arbuscula, I slight Your hooting mobs, if I can please a knight.
Shall bug Pantilius vex me? shall I choke Because Demetrius needs must have his joke Behind my back, and Fannius, when he dines With dear Tigellius, vilifies my lines? Maecenas, Virgil, Varius, if I please In my poor writings these and such as these, If Plotius, Valgius, Fuscus will commend, And good Octavius, I've achieved my end. You, noble Pollio (let your friend disclaim All thought of flattery when he names your name), Messala and his brother, Servius too, And Bibulus, and Furnius kind and true, With others whom, despite their sense and wit And friendly hearts, I purposely omit; Such I would have my critics; men to gain Whose smiles were pleasure, to forego them pain, Demetrius and Tigellius, off! go pule To the bare benches of your ladies' school!
Hallo there, youngster! take my book, you rogue, And write this in, by way of epilogue.
SUNT QUIBUS IN SATIRA.
Some think in satire I'm too keen, and press The spirit of invective to excess: Some call my verses nerveless: once begin, A thousand such per day a man might spin. Trebatius, pray advise me.
T. Wipe your pen.
H. What, never write a single line again?
T. That's what I mean.
H. 'Twould suit me, I protest, Exactly: but at nights I get no rest.
T. First rub yourself three times with oil all o'er, Then swim the Tiber through from shore to shore, Taking good care, as night draws on, to steep Your brain in liquor: then you'll have your sleep. Or, if you still have such an itch to write, Sing of some moving incident of fight; Sing of great Caasar's victories: a bard Who works at that is sure to win reward.
H. Would that I could, my worthy sire! but skill And vigour lack, how great soe'er the will. Not every one can paint in epic strain The lances bristling on the embattled plain, Tell how the Gauls by broken javelins bleed, Or sing the Parthian tumbling from his steed.
T. But you can draw him just and brave, you know, As sage Lucilius did for Scipio.
H. Trust me for that: my devoir I will pay, Whene'er occasion comes to point the way. Save at fit times, no words of mine can find A way through Cassar's ear to Cassar's mind: A mettled horse, if awkwardly you stroke, Kicks out on all sides, and your leg is broke.
T. Better do this than gall with keen lampoon Cassius the rake and Maenius the buffoon, When each one, though with withers yet unwrung, Fears for himself, and hates your bitter tongue.
H. What shall I do? Milonius, when the wine Mounts to his head, and doubled lustres shine, Falls dancing; horses are what Castor loves; His twin yolk-fellow glories in the gloves: Count all the folks in all the world, you'll find A separate fancy for each separate mind. To drill reluctant words into a line, This was Lucilius' hobby, and 'tis mine. Good man, he was our better: yet he took Such pride in nought as in his darling book: That was his friend, to whom he would confide The secret thoughts he hid from all beside, And, whether Fortune used him well or ill, Thither for sympathy he turned him still: So there, as in a votive tablet penned, You see the veteran's life from end to end.
His footsteps now I follow as I may, Lucanian or Apulian, who shall say? For we Venusians live upon the line Just where Lucania and Apulia join, Planted,'tis said, there in the Samnites' place, To guard for Rome the intermediate space, Lest these or those some day should make a raid In time of war, and Roman soil invade.
But this poor implement of mine, my pen, Shall ne'er assault one soul of living men: Like a sheathed sword, I'll carry it about, Just to protect my life when I go out, A weapon I shall never care to draw, While my good neighbours keep within the law. O grant, dread Father, grant my steel may rust! Grant that no foe may play at cut and thrust With my peace-loving self! but should one seek To quarrel with me, yon shall hear him shriek: Don't say I gave no warning: up and down He shall be trolled and chorused through the town.
Cervius attacks his foes with writ and rule: Albutius' henbane is Canidia's tool: How threatens Turius? if he e'er should judge A. cause of yours, he'll bear you an ill grudge. Each has his natural weapon, you'll agree, If you will work the problem out with me: Wolves use their tooth against you, bulls their horn;
Why, but that each is to the manner born? Take worthy Scaeva now, the spendthrift heir, And trust his long-lived mother to his care; He'll lift no hand against her. No, forsooth! Wolves do not use their heel, nor bulls their tooth: But deadly hemlock, mingled in the bowl With honey, will take off the poor old soul. Well, to be brief: whether old age await My years, or Death e'en now be at the gate, Wealthy or poor, at home or banished, still, Whate'er my life's complexion, write I will.
T. Poor child! your life is hanging on a thread: Some noble friend one day will freeze you dead.
H. What? when Lucilius first with dauntless brow Addressed him to his task, as I do now, And from each hypocrite stripped off the skin He flaunted to the world, though foul within, Did Laelius, or the chief who took his name Prom conquered Carthage, grudge him his fair game?
Felt they for Lupus or Metellus, when Whole floods of satire drenched the wretched men? He took no count of persons: man by man He scourged the proudest chiefs of each proud clan, Nor spared delinquents of a humbler birth, Kind but to worth and to the friends of worth. And yet, when Scipio brave and Laelius sage Stepped down awhile like actors from the stage, They would unbend with him, and laugh and joke While his pot boiled, like other simple folk. Well, rate me at my lowest, far below Lucilius' rank and talent, yet e'en so Envy herself shall own that to the end I lived with men of mark as friend with friend, And, when she fain on living flesh and bone Would try her teeth, shall close them on a stone; That is, if grave Trebatius will concur—
T. I don't quite see; I cannot well demur; Yet you had best be cautioned, lest you draw Some mischief down from ignorance of law; If a man writes ill verses out of spite 'Gainst A or B, the sufferer may indict.
H. Ill verses? ay, I grant you: but suppose Caesar should think them good (and Caesar knows); Suppose the man you bark at has a name For every vice, while yours is free from blame.
T. O, then a laugh will cut the matter short: The case breaks down, defendant leaves the court.
QUAE VIRTUS ET QUANTA.
The art of frugal living, and its worth, To-day, my friends, Ofellus shall set forth ('Twas he that taught me it, a shrewd clear wit, Though country-spun, and for the schools unfit): Lend me your ears:—but not where meats and wine In costly service on the table shine, When the vain eye is dazzled, and the mind Recoils from truth, to idle shows resigned: No: let us talk on empty stomachs. Why? Well, if you'd have me tell you, I will try.
The judge who soils his fingers by a gift Is scarce the man a doubtful case to sift. Say that you're fairly wearied with the course, Following a hare, or breaking in a horse, Or, if, for Roman exercise too weak, You turn for your amusement to the Greek, You play at ball, and find the healthy strain Of emulation mitigates the pain, Or hurl the quoit, till toil has purged all taint Of squeamishness, and left you dry and faint; Sniff, if you can, at common food, and spurn All drink but honey mingled with Falern. The butler has gone out: the stormy sea Preserves its fishes safe from you and me: No matter: salt ad libitum, with bread Will soothe the Cerberus of our maws instead. What gives you appetite? 'tis not the meat Contains the relish: 'tis in you that eat. Get condiments by work: for when the skin Is pale and bloated from disease within, Not golden plover, oyster, nor sardine, Can make the edge of dulled enjoyment keen. Yet there's one prejudice I sorely doubt If force of reason ever will root out: Oft as a peacock's set before you, still Prefer it to a fowl you must and will, Because (as if that mattered when we dine!) The bird is costly, and its tail's so fine. What? do you eat the feathers? when'tis drest And sent to table, does it still look best? While, as to flesh, the two are on a par: Yes, you're the dupe of mere outside, you are. You see that pike: what is it tells you straight Where those wide jaws first opened for the bait, In sea or river? 'twixt the bridges twain, Or at the mouth where Tiber joins the main? A three-pound mullet you must needs admire, And yet you know 'tis never served entire. The size attracts you: well then, why dislike The selfsame quality when found in pike? Why, but to fly in Nature's face for spite. Because she made these heavy those weigh light? O, when the stomach's pricked by hunger's stings, We seldom hear of scorn for common things!
"Great fishes on great dishes! how I gloat Upon the sight!" exclaims some harpy-throat. Blow strongly, blow, good Auster, and ferment The glutton's dainties, and increase their scent! And yet, without such aid, they find the flesh Of boar and turbot nauseous, e'en though fresh, When, gorged to sick repletion, they request Onions or radishes to give them zest. Nay, e'en at royal banquets poor men's fare Yet lingers: eggs and olives still are there. When, years ago, Gallonius entertained His friends with sturgeon, an ill name he gained. Were turbots then less common in the seas? No: but good living waxes by degrees. Safe was the turbot, safe the stork's young brood, Until a praetor taught us they were good. So now, should some potential voice proclaim That roasted cormorants are delicious game, The youth of Rome (there's nothing too absurd For their weak heads) will take him at his word.
But here Ofellus draws a line, between A life that's frugal and a life that's mean: For 'tis in vain that luxury you shun, If straight on avarice your bark you run. Avidienus—you may know him—who Was always call'd the Dog, and rightly too, On olives five-year-old is wont to dine, And, till 'tis sour, will never broach his wine: Oft as, attired for feasting, blithe and gay, He keeps some birthday, wedding, holiday, From his big horn he sprinkles drop by drop Oil on the cabbages himself:—you'd stop Your nose to smell it:—vinegar, I own, He gives you without stint, and that alone. Well, betwixt these, what should a wise man do? Which should he copy, think you, of the two? 'Tis Scylla and Charybdis, rock and gulf: On this side howls the dog, on that the wolf. A man that's neat in table, as in dress, Errs not by meanness, yet avoids excess; Nor, like Albucius, when he plays the host, Storms at his slaves, while giving each his post; Nor, like poor Naevius, carelessly offends By serving greasy water to his friends.
Now listen for a space, while I declare The good results that spring from frugal fare. IMPRIMIS, health: for 'tis not hard to see How various meats are like to disagree, If you remember with how light a weight Your last plain meal upon your stomach sate: Now, when you've taken toll of every dish, Have mingled roast with boiled and fowl with fish, The mass of dainties, turbulent and crude, Engenders bile, and stirs intestine feud. Observe your guests, how ghastly pale their looks When they've discussed some mystery of your cook's: Ay, and the body, clogged with the excess Of yesterday, drags down the mind no less, And fastens to the ground in living death That fiery particle of heaven's own breath. Another takes brief supper, seeks repair From kindly sleep, then rises light as air: Not that sometimes he will not cross the line, And, just for once, luxuriously dine, When feasts come round with the revolving year, Or his shrunk frame suggests more generous cheer: Then too, when age draws on and life is slack, He has reserves on which he can fall back: But what have you in store when strength shall fail, You, who forestall your goods when young and hale?
A rancid boar our fathers used to praise: What? had they then no noses in those days? No: but they wished their friends to have the treat When tainted rather than themselves when sweet. O had I lived in that brave time of old, When men were heroes, and the age was gold!
Come now, you set some store by good repute: In truth, its voice is softer than a lute: Then know, great fishes on great dishes still Produce great scandal, let alone the bill. Think too of angry uncles, friends grown rude, Nay, your own self with your own self at feud And longing for a rope to end your pain: But ropes cost twopence; so you long in vain. "O, talk," you say, "to Trausius: though severe, Such truths as these are just what HE should hear: But I have untold property, that brings A yearly sum, sufficient for three kings." Untold indeed! then can you not expend Your superflux on some diviner end? Why does one good man want while you abound? Why are Jove's temples tumbling to the ground? O selfish! what? devote no modicum To your dear country from so vast a sum? Ay, you're the man: the world will go your way.... O how your foes will laugh at you one day! Take measure of the future: which will feel More confidence in self, come woe, come weal, He that, like you, by long indulgence plants In body and in mind a thousand wants, Or he who, wise and frugal, lays in stores In view of war ere war is at the doors?
But, should you doubt what good Ofellus says, When young I knew him, in his wealthier days: Then, when his means were fair, he spent and spared Nor more nor less than now, when they're impaired. Still, in the field once his, but now assigned To an intruding veteran, you may find, His sons and beasts about him, the good sire, A sturdy farmer, working on for hire. "I ne'er exceeded"—so you'll hear him say— "Herbs and smoked gammon on a working day; But if at last a friend I entertained, Or there dropped in some neighbour while it rained, I got no fish from town to grace my board, But dined off kid and chicken like a lord: Raisins and nuts the second course supplied, With a split fig, first doubled and then dried: Then each against the other, with a fine To do the chairman's work, we drank our wine, And draughts to Ceres, so she'd top the ground With good tall ears, our frets and worries drowned Let Fortune brew fresh tempests, if she please, How much can she knock off from joys like these! Have you or I, young fellows, looked more lean Since this new holder came upon the scene? Holder, I say, for tenancy's the most That he, or I, or any man can boast: Now he has driven us out: but him no less His own extravagance may dispossess Or slippery lawsuit: in the last resort A livelier heir will cut his tenure short. Ofellus' name it bore, the field we plough, A few years back: it bears Umbrenus' now: None has it as a fixture, fast and firm, But he or I may hold it for a term. Then live like men of courage, and oppose Stout hearts to this and each ill wind that blows."
SIC RARO SCRIBIS.
So seldom do you write, we scarcely hear Your tablets called for four times in the year: And even then, as fast as you compose, You quarrel with the thing, and out it goes, Vexed that, in spite of bottle and of bed, You turn out nothing worthy to be read. How is it all to end? Here you've come down, Avoiding a December spent in town: Your brains are clear: begin, and charm our ears With something worth your boasting.—Nought appears. You blame your pens, and the poor wall, accurst From birth by gods and poets, comes off worst. Yet you looked bold, and talked of what you'd do, Could you lie snug for one free day or two. What boot Menander, Plato, and the rest You carried down from town to stock your nest? Think you by turning lazy to exempt Your life from envy? No, you'll earn contempt. Then stop your ears to sloth's enchanting voice, Or give up your best hopes: there lies your choice.
H. Good Damasippus, may the immortals grant, For your sage counsel, the one thing you want, A barber! but pray tell me how yon came To know so well what scarce is known to fame?
D. Why, ever since my hapless all went down 'Neath the mid arch, I go about the town, And make my neighbours' matters my sole care, Seeing my own are damaged past repair. Once I was anxious on a bronze to light Where Sisyphus had washed his feet at night; Each work of art I criticized and classed, Called this ill chiselled, that too roughly cast; Prized that at fifty thousand: then I knew To buy at profit grounds and houses too, With a sure instinct: till the whole town o'er "The pet of Mercury" was the name I bore.
H. I know your case, and am surprised to see So clear a cure of such a malady.
D, Ay, but my old complaint (though strange, 'tis true) Was banished from my system by a new: Just as diseases of the side or head My to the stomach or the chest instead, Like your lethargic patient, when he tears Himself from bed, and at the doctor squares.
H. Spare me but that, I'll trust you.
D. Don't be blind; You're mad yourself, and so are all mankind, If truth is in Stertinius, from whose speech I learned the precious lessons that I teach, What time he bade me grow a wise man's beard, And sent me from the bridge, consoled and cheered. For once, when, bankrupt and forlorn, I stood With muffled head, just plunging in the flood, "Don't do yourself a mischief," so he cried In friendly tones, appearing at my side: "'Tis all false shame: you fear to be thought mad, Not knowing that the world are just as bad. What constitutes a madman? if 'tis shown The marks are found in you and you alone, Trust me, I'll add no word to thwart your plan, But leave you free to perish like a man. The wight who drives through life with bandaged eyes, Ignorant of truth and credulous of lies, He in the judgment of Chrysippus' school And the whole porch is tabled as a fool. Monarchs and people, every rank and age, That sweeping clause includes,—except the sage.
"Now listen while I show you, how the rest Who call you madman, are themselves possessed. Just as in woods, when travellers step aside From the true path for want of some good guide, This to the right, that to the left hand strays, And all are wrong, but wrong in different ways, So, though you're mad, yet he who banters you Is not more wise, but wears his pigtail too. One class of fools sees reason for alarm In trivial matters, innocent of harm: Stroll in the open plain, you'll hear them talk Of fires, rocks, torrents, that obstruct their walk: Another, unlike these, but not more sane, Takes fires and torrents for the open plain: Let mother, sister, father, wife combined Cry 'There's a pitfall! there's a rock! pray mind!' They'll hear no more than drunken Fufius, he Who slept the part of queen Ilione, While Catienus, shouting in his ear, Roared like a Stentor, 'Hearken, mother dear!'
"Well, now, I'll prove the mass of humankind Have judgments just as jaundiced, just as blind. That Damasippus shows himself insane By buying ancient statues, all think plain: But he that lends him money, is he free From the same charge? 'O, surely.' Let us see. I bid you take a sum you won't return: You take it: is this madness, I would learn? Were it not greater madness to renounce The prey that Mercury puts within your pounce? Secure him with ten bonds; a hundred; nay, Clap on a thousand; still he'll slip away, This Protean scoundrel: drag him into court, You'll only find yourself the more his sport: He'll laugh till scarce you'd think his jaws his own, And turn to boar or bird, to tree or stone. If prudence in affairs denotes men sane And bungling argues a disordered brain, The man who lends the cash is far more fond Than you, who at his bidding sign the bond.
"Now give attention and your gowns refold, Who thirst for fame, grow yellow after gold, Victims to luxury, superstition blind, Or other ailment natural to the mind: Come close to me and listen, while I teach That you're a pack of madmen, all and each.
"Of all the hellebore that nature breeds, The largest share by far the miser needs: In fact, I know not but Anticyra's juice Was all intended for his single use. When old Staberius died, his heirs engraved Upon his monument the sum he'd saved: For, had they failed to do it, they were tied A hundred pair of fencers to provide, A feast at Arrius' pleasure, not too cheap, And corn, as much as Afric's farmers reap. 'I may be right, I may be wrong,' said he, 'Who cares? 'tis not for you to lecture me.' Well, one who knew Staberius would suppose He was a man that looked beyond his nose: Why did he wish, then, that his funeral stone Should make the sum he left behind him known? Why, while he lived, he dreaded nothing more Than that great sin, the sin of being poor, And, had he left one farthing less in purse, The man, as man, had thought himself the worse: For all things human and divine, renown, Honour, and worth at money's shrine bow down: And he who has made money, fool or knave, Becomes that moment noble, just, and brave. A sage, you ask me? yes, a sage, a king, Whate'er he chooses; briefly, everything. So good Staberius hoped each extra pound His virtue saved would to his praise redound. Now look at Aristippus, who, in haste To make his journey through the Libyan waste, Bade the stout slaves who bore his treasure throw Their load away, because it made them slow. Which was more mad? Excuse me: 'twill not do To shut one question up by opening two.
"If one buys fiddles, hoards them up when bought, Though music's study ne'er engaged his thought, One lasts and awls, unversed in cobbler's craft, One sails for ships, not knowing fore from aft, You'd call them mad: but tell me, if you please, How that man's case is different from these, Who, as he gets it, stows away his gain, And thinks to touch a farthing were profane? Yet if a man beside a huge corn-heap Lies watching with a cudgel, ne'er asleep, And dares not touch one grain, but makes his meat Of bitter leaves, as though he found them sweet: If, with a thousand wine-casks—call the hoard A million rather—in his cellars stored, He drinks sharp vinegar: nay, if, when nigh A century old, on straw he yet will lie, While in his chest rich coverlets, the prey Of moth and canker, moulder and decay, Few men can see much madness in his whim, Because the mass of mortals ail like him.