Page images

judgment or experience. It is probable that he | But thou art nobly born, 'tis true; go boast makes Seneca, in this satire, sustain the part of Socrates, under a borrowed name; and, withal, discovers some secret vices of Nero, concerning his lust, his drunkenness, and his effeminacy, which had not yet arrived to public notice. He also reprehends the flattery of his courtiers, who endeavoured to make all his vices pass for virtues. Covetousness was undoubtedly none of his faults; but it is here described as a veil cast over the true meaning of the poet, which was to satirize his prodigality and voluptuousness; to which he makes a transition. I find no instance in history of that emperor's being a pathic, though Persius seems to brand him with it. From the two dialogues of Plato, both called Alcibiades, the poet took the arguments of the second and third satires, but he inverted the order of them: for the third satire is taken from the first of those dialogues. The commentators, before Casaubon, were ignorant of our author's secret meaning; and thought he had only written against young noblemen in general, who were too forward in aspiring to public magistracy: but this excellent scholiast has unraveled the whole mystery; and made it apparent, that the sting of this satire was particularly aimed at Nero.

WHOE'ER thou art, whose forward years are bent
On state affairs, the guide to government;
Hear, first, what Socrates of old has said
To the lov'd youth, whom he at Athens bred.
Tell me, thou pupil to great Pericles,


Our second hope, my Alcibiades,
What are the grounds, from whence thou dost pre-
To undertake, so young, so vast a care?
Perhaps thy wit (a chance not often heard,
That parts and prudence should prevent the beard):
'Tis seldom seen, that senators so young
Know when to speak, and when to hold their
Sure thou art born to some peculiar fate; [tongue.
When the mad people rise against the state,
To look them into duty; and command
An awful silence with thy lifted hand.
Then to bespeak them thus: "Athenians, know
Against right reason all your counsels go,
This is not fair; nor profitable that;
Nor t'other question proper for debate."
But thou, no doubt, can'st set the business right,
And give each argument its proper.weight:
Know'st, with an equal hand, to hold the scale :
Seest where the reasons pinch, and where they fail,
And where exceptions o'er the general rule prevail,
And, taught by inspiration, in a trice,

Canst punish crimes, and brand offending vice.
Leave, leave to fathom such high points as these,
Nor be ambitious, ere the time to please.
Unseasonably wise, till age and cares
Have form'd thy soul, to manage great affairs.
Thy face, thy shape, thy outside, are but vain;
Thou hast not strength such labours to sustain ;
Drink hellebore, my boy, drink deep, and purge
thy brain.

What aim'st thou at, and whither tends thy care,
In what thy utmost good? Delicious fare;
And, then, to sun thyself in open air.

Hold, hold! are all thy empty wishes such?
A good old woman would have said as much.

Thy pedigree, the thing thou valu'st most:
Besides, thou art a beau: what's that, my child?
A fop well drest, extravagant, and wild:
She, that cries herbs, has less impertinence;
And, in her calling, more of common sense.
None, none descends into himself, to find
The secret imperfections of his mind:
But every one is eagle-ey'd, to see
Another's faults, and his deformity.
Say, dost thou know Vectidius? Who, the wretch
Whose lands beyond the Sabines largely stretch;
Cover the country, that a sailing kite
Can scarce o'erfly them, in a day and night;
Him dost thou mean, who, spite of all his store,
Is ever craving, and will still be poor?
Who cheats for halfpence, and who doffs his coat,
To save a farthing in a ferry-boat?
Ever a glutton at another's cost,
But in whose kitchen dwells perpetual frost?
Who eats and drinks with his domestic slaves;
A verier hind than any of his knaves?
Born with the curse and anger of the gods,
And that indulgent genius he defrauds?
At harvest-home, and on the shearing day,
When he should thanks to Pan and Pales pay,
The little barrel, which he fears to broach:
And better Ceres; trembling to approach
He, says the wimble, often draws it back,
And deals to thirsty servants but a smack.
To a short meal he makes a tedious grace,
Before the barley-pudding comes in place:
Then, bids fall on; himself, for saving charges,
A peel'd slic'd onion eats, and tipples verjuice.

Thus fares the drudge: but thou, whose life's a
Of lazy pleasures, tak'st a worse extreme. [dream
'Tis all thy business, business how to shun;
To bask thy naked body in the sun;
Suppling thy stiffen'd joints with fragrant oil;
Then, in the spacious garden, walk awhile,
To suck the moisture up, and soak it in:
And this, thou think'st, but vainly think'st, unseen.
But, know, thou art observ'd: and there are those
Who, if they durst, would all thy secret sins expose:
The depilation of thy modest part:
Thy catamite, the darling of thy heart,
His engine-hand, and every lewder art.
When, prone to bear, and patient to receive,
Thou tak'st the pleasure which thou canst not give
With odorous oil thy head and hair are sleek;
And then thou kemb'st the tuzzes on thy check:
Of these thy barbers take a costly care,
While thy salt tail is overgrown with hair.
Not all thy pincers, nor unmanly arts,
Can smooth the roughness of thy shameful parts.
Not five, the strongest that the Circus breeds,
From the rank soil can root those wicked weeds:
Though suppled first with soap, to ease thy pain,
The stubborn fern springs up, and sprouts again.
Thus others we with defainations wound,
While they stab us; and so the jest goes round.
Vain are thy hopes, to 'scape censorious eyes;
Truth will appear through all the thin disguise:
Thou hast an ulcer which no leech can heal,
Though thy broad shoulder-belt the wound conceal
Say thou art sound and hale in every part,
We know, we know thee rotten at thy heart,
We know thee sullen, impotent, and proud:
Nor canst thou cheat thy nerve, who cheat`st the

"But when they praise me, in the neighbourhood, When the pleas'd people take me for a god, Shall I refuse their incense? Not receive The loud applauses which the vulgar give?"

If thou dost wealth, with longing eyes, behold;
And, greedily, art gaping after gold;
If some alluring girl, in gliding by,
Shall tip the wink, with a lascivious eye,
And thou, with a consenting glance, reply;
If thou thy own solicitor become,

And bidd'st arise the lumpish pendulum:
If thy lewd lust provokes an empty storm,
And prompts to more than nature can perform;
If, with thy guards, thou scour'st the streets by

And dost in murders, rapes, and spoils, delight;
Please not thyself, the flattering crowd to hear;
'Tis fulsome stuff to feed thy itching ear.
Reject the nauseous praises of the times;
Give thy base po ts back thy cobbled rhymes:
Survey thy soul, not what thou dost appear,
But what thou art; and find the beggar there.




THE judicious Casaubon, in his proem to this satire, tells us, that Aristophanes the grammarian being asked, what poem of Archilochus's Iambics he preferred before the rest, answered, the longest. His answer may justly be applied to this fifth satire; which, being of a greater length than any of the rest, is also, by far, the most instructive: for this reason I have selected it from all the others, and inscribed it to my learned master, doctor Busby; to whom I am not only obliged myself for the best part of my own education, and that of my two sons; but have also received from him the first and truest taste of Persius. May he be pleased to find in this translation, the gratitude, or at least some small acknowledgiment of his unworthy scholar, at the distance of twenty-four years, from the time when I departed from under his tuition.

This satire consists of two distinct parts: the first contains the praises of the stoic philosopher Cornutus, master and tutor to our Persius. It also declares the love and piety of Persius, to his well-deserving master; and the mutual friendship which continued betwixt them, after Persius was now grown a man. As also his exhortation to young noblemen, that they would enter themselves into his institution. From whence he makes an artful transition into the second part of his subject: wherein he first complains of the sloth of scholars, and afterwards persuades them to the pursuit of their true liberty: Here our author excellently treats that paradox of the Stoics, which affirms, that only the wise or virtuous man is free; and that all vicious men are naturally slaves. And, in the illustration of this dogma, he takes up the remaining part of this inimitable


[blocks in formation]

And why would'st thou these mighty morsels choose,

Of words unchew'd, and fit to choke the Muse?
Let fustian poets, with their stuff, be gone,
And suck the mists that hang o'er Helicon;
When Progne or Thyestes' feast they write;
And, for the mouthing actor, verse indite.
Thou neither, like a bellows, swell'st thy face,
As if thou wert to blow the burning mass
Of melting ore; nor canst thou strain thy throat,
Or murmur in an undistinguish'd note,
Like rolling thunder till it breaks the cloud,
And rattling nonseuse is discharg'd aloud.
Soft elocution does thy style renown,
And the sweet accents of the peaceful gown :
Gentle or sharp, according to thy choice,
To laugh at follies, or to lash at vice.
Hence draw thy theme, and to the stage permit
Raw-head and bloody-bones, and hands and feet,
Ragousts for Tereus or Thyestes drest;
'Tis task enough for thee t' expose a Roman feast.


'Tis not, indeed, my talent to engage In lofty trifles, or to swell my page With wind and noise; but freely to impart, As to a friend, the secrets of my heart, And, in familiar speech, to let thee know How much I love thee, and how much I owe. Knock on my heart: for thou hast skill to find If it sound solid, or be fill'd with wind; And, through the veil of words, thou view'st the

For this a hundred voices I desire, [naked mind. To tell thee what a hundred tongues would tire; Yet never could be worthily exprest, How deeply thou art seated in my breast. When first my childish robe resign'd the charge, And left me, unconfin'd, to live at large; When now my golden bulla (hung on high To household gods) declar'd me past a boy; And my white shield proclaim'd my liberty: When, with my wild companions, I could roll From street to street, and sin without control; Just at that age, when manhood set me free, I then depos d myself, and left the reins to thee. On tuy wise bosom I repos'd my head, And by my better Socrates was bred. Then thy straight rule set virtue in my sight, The crooked line reforming by the right. My reason took the bent of thy command, Was form'd and polish'd by thy skilful hand: Long summer days thy precepts I rehearse; And winter-nights were short in our converse: One was our labour, one was our repose, One frugal supper did our studies close.

Sure on our birth some friendly planet shone; And, as our souls, our horoscope was one : Whether the mounting Twins did Heaven adorn, Or with the rising Balance we were born ; Both have the same impressions from above; And both have Saturn's rage, repell'd by Jove. What star I know not, but some star I find, Has given thee an ascendant o'er my mind,


Nature is ever various in her frame :
Each has a different will; and few the same:
The greedy merchants, led by lucre, run
To the parch'd Indies, and the rising Sun ;
From thence hot pepper and rich drugs they bear,
Bartering, for spices, their Italian ware;
The lazy glutton safe at home will keep,
Indulge his sloth, and batten with his sleep:
One bribes for high preferments in the state;
A second shakes the box, and sits up late:
Another shakes the bed, dissolving there,
Till knots upon his gouty joint appear,
And chalk is in his crippled fingers found;

This is true liberty, as I believe:
What can we farther from our caps receive,
Than as we please without control to live?
Not more to noble Brutus could belong."
"Hold," says the Stoic, "your assumption's

I grant, true freedom you have well defin'd:
But, living as you list, and to your mind,
And loosely tack'd, all must be left behind.
What, since the pretor did my fetters loose,
And left me freely at my own dispose,
May I not live without control and awe,
Excepting still the letter of the law?"

From those fond notions of false liberty:
Hear me with patience, while thy mind I free
'Tis not the pretor's province to bestow
True freedom; nor to teach mankind to know
What to ourselves, or to our friends, we owe.
He could not set thee free from cares and strife,
Nor give the reins to a lewd vicious life:
As well he for an ass a harp might string,
Which is against the reason of the thing;
For reason still is whispering in your ear,

Rots like a dodder'd oak, and piecemeal falls to Where you are sure to fail, th' attempt forbear,


Then his lewd follies he would late repent; And his past years, that in a mist were spent.

[blocks in formation]

Yes, sure: for yesterday was once to morrow. That yesterday is gone, and nothing gain'd: And all thy fruitless days will thus be drain'd; For thou hast more to morrows yet to ask, And wilt be ever to begin thy task; Who, like the hindmost chariot wheels, art curst, Still to be near, but ne'er to reach the first. O freedom! first delight of human kind! Not that which bondmen from their masters find, The privilege of doles: not yet t' inscribe Their names in this or t' other Roman tribe: That false enfranchisement with ease is found: Slaves are made citizens, by turning round. "How," replies one, "can any be more free? Here's Dama, once a groom of low degree, Not worth a farthing, and a sot beside; So true a rogue, for lying's sake he ly'd ; But, with a turn, a freeman he became ; Now Marcus Dama is his worship's name. Good gods! who would refuse to lend a sum, If wealthy Marcus surety will become! Mareus is made a judge, and for a proof Of certain truth, he said, it is enough. A will is to be prov'd; put in your claim; 'Tis clear, if Marcus has subscrib'd his name.

No need of public sanctions this to bind,
Which Nature has implanted in the mind:
Not to pursue the work, to which we 're not de

Unskill'd in hellebore, if thou should'st try
To mix it, and mistake the quantity,
The high-shoe'd ploughman, should he quit the
The rules of physic would against thee cry
To take the pilot's rudder in his hand,
Artless of stars, and of the moving sand,
The gods would leave him to the waves and wind,
And think all shame was lost in human kind.



Tell me, my friend, from whence hadst thou the So nicely to distinguish good from ill? Or by the sound to judge of gold and brass, What piece is tinker's metal, what will pass? And what thou art to follow, what to fly, This to condemn, and that to ratify? When to be bountiful, and when to spare, But never craving, or opprest with care? The baits of gifts, and money to despise, And look on wealth with undesiring eyes? When thou can'st truly call these virtues thine, Be wise and free, by Heaven's consent, and mine. But thou, who lately, of the common strain, The same ill habits, the same follies too, Wert one of us, if still thou dost retain Gloss'd over only with a saint-like show, Then I resume the freedom which I gave, Still thou art bound to vice, and still a slave. Thou canst not wag my finger, or begin The least light motion, but it tends to sin. "How's this? Not wag thy finger?" he replies. No, friend; nor fuming gums, nor sacrifice, Can ever make a madman free, or wise. Virtue and vice are never in one soul: A man is wholly wise, or wholly is a fool. A heavy bumkin, taught with daily care, Can never dance three steps with a becoming air,


In spite of this, my freedom still remains.


Free! what, and fetter'd with so many chains? Canst thou no other master understand Than him that freed thee by the pretor's wand

Should he, who was thy lord, command thee now,
With a harsh voice, and supercilious brow,
To servile duties, thou would'st fear no more;
The gallows and the whip are out of door.
But if thy passions lord it in thy breast,
Art thou not still a slave, and still opprest!
Whether alone, or in thy harlot's lap,
When thou would'st take a lazy morning's nap;
"Up, up," says Avarice. Thou snor'st again,
Stretchest thy limbs, and yawn'st, but all in vain;
The tyrant Lucre no denial takes;

At his command th' unwilling sluggard wakes:
"What must I do?" he cries: "What?" says
his lord:

"Why, rise, make ready, and go straight abroad:
With fish, from Euxine seas, thy vessel freight;
Flax, castor, Coan wines, the precious weight
Of pepper, and Sabæan incense, take
With thy own hands, from the tir'd camel's back:
And with post-haste thy running markets make.
Be sure to turn the penny; lye and swear;
"Tis wholesome sin: but Jove, thou say'st, will

Swear, fool, or starve; for the dilemma 's even:
A tradesman thou! and hope to go to Heaven?
Resolv'd for sea, the slaves thy baggage pack,
Each saddled with his burden on his back:
Nothing retards thy voyage, now, unless
Thy other lord forbids, Voluptuousness:
And he may ask this civil question : * Friend,
What dost thou make a ship-board? to what end?
Art thou of Bethlem's noble college free?
Stark, staring mad, that thou would'st tempt the
Cubb'd in a cabbin, on a mattress laid,
On a brown george, with lowsy swobbers fed,
Dead wine, that stinks of the borrachio, sup
From a foul jack, or greasy maple-cup?


Say, would'st thou bear all this, to raise thy store
From six i' th' hundred, to six hundred more?
Indulge, and to thy genius freely givė;
For, not to live at ease, is not to live;
Death stalks behind thee, and each flying hour
Does some loose remnant of thy life devour.
Live, while thou liv'st; for death will make us all
A name, a nothing but an old wife's tale.'"

Speak; wilt thou Avarice, or Pleasure, choose
To be thy lord? take one, and one refuse.
But both, by turns, the rule of thee will have ;
And thou, betwixt them both, wilt be a slave.
Nor think, when once thou hast resisted one,
That all thy marks of servitude are gone:
The struggling greyhound gnaws his leash in vain ;
If, when 'tis broken, still he drags the chain.
Says Phædra to his man, "Believe me, friend,
To this uneasy love I'll put an end:
Shall I run out of all? my friends disgrace,
And be the first lewd unthrift of my race?
Shall I the neighbour's nightly rest invade
At her deaf doors, with some vile serenade?"
"Well hast thou freed thyself," his man replies,
"Go, thank the gods, and offer sacrifice."
"Ah," says the youth, "if we unkindly part,
Will not the poor fond creature break her heart?
Weak soul! and blindly to destruction led!"
"She break her heart! she'll sooner break your

She knows her man, and, when you rant and swear,
Can draw you to her, with a single hair."
"But shall I not return? Now, when she sues!
Shall I my own, and her desires refuse?!


"Sir, take your course: but my advice is plain : Once freed, 'tis madness to resume your chain."

Ay; there's the man, who, loos'd from lust and Less to the pretor owes, than to himself. [pelf But write him down a slave, who, humbly proud, With presents begs preferments from the crowd; That early suppliant, who salutes the tribes, And sets the mob to scramble for his bribes: That some old dotard, sitting in the sun, On holidays may tell, that such a feat was done : In future times this will be counted rare.

Thy superstition too may claim a share:
When flowers are strew'd, and lamps in order
And windows with illuminations grac'd, [plac'd,
On Herod's day; when sparkling bowls go round,
And tunnies' tails, in savoury sauce are drown'd,
Thou mutter'st prayers obscene; nor dost refuse
The fasts and sabbaths of the curtail'd Jews.
Then a crack'd egg-shell thy sick fancy frights,
Besides the childish fear of walking sprites.
Of o'ergrown gelding priests thou art afraid;
The timbrel, and the squintifego maid
Of Isis, awe thee: lest the gods, for sin,
Should, with a swelling dropsy, stuff thy skin:
Unless three garlic-heads the curse avert,
Eaten each morn, devoutly, next thy heart.
Preach this among the brawny guards, say'st thou,
And see if they thy doctrine will allow ;

The dull fat captain, with a hound's deep throat,
Would bellow out a laugh, in a base note;
And prize a hundred Zenos just as much
As a clipt sixpence, or a schilling Dutch.



THIS sixth satire treats an admirable commonplace of moral philosophy; of the true use of riches. They certainly are intended, by the power who bestows them, as instruments and helps of living commodiously ourselves; and of administering to the wants of others, who are oppressed by fortune. There are two extremes in the opinions of men concerning them. One errour, though on the right hand, yet a great one, is, that they are no helps to a virtuous life; the other places all our happiness in the acquisition and possession of them; and this is, undoubtedly, the worse extreme. The mean betwixt these, is the opinion of the Stoics; which is, that riches may be useful to the leading a virtuous life; in case we rightly understand how to give according to right reason; and how to receive what is given us by others. The virtue of giving well, is called liberality: and it is of this virtue that Persius writes in this satire; wherein he not only shows the lawful use of riches, but also sharply inveighs against the vices which are opposed to it; and especially of those, which consist in the defects of giving or spending; or in the abuse of riches. He writes to Cesius Bassus his friend, and a poet also, inquires first of his health and studies; and afterwards informs him of his own, and where he is now resident. He gives an ac

count of himself, that be is endeavouring, by. little and little, to wear off his vices; and particularly, that he is combating ambition, and the desire of wealth. He dwells upon the latter vice and, being sensible that few men either desire or use riches as they ought, he endeavours to convince them of their folly; which is the main design of the whole satire.




HAS winter caus'd thee, friend, to change thy
And seek in Sabine air a warm retreat?
Say, dost thou yet the Roman harp command ?
Do the strings answer to thy noble hand?
Great master of the Muse, inspir'd to sing
The beauties of the first-created spring;
The pedigree of nature to rehearse,
And sound the Maker's work, in equal verse.
Now sporting on thy lyre the loves of youth,
Now virtuous age, and venerable truth;
Expressing justly Sappho's wanton art
Of odes, and Pindar's more majestic part.

For me, my warmer constitution wants
More cold, than our Ligurian winter grants;
And therefore, to my native shores retir'd,
I view the coast old Ennius once admir'd;
Where cliffs on either sides their points display;
And, after, opening in an ampler way,
Afford the pleasing prospect of the bay.
"Tis worth your while, O Romans, to regard
The port of Luna," says our learned, bard;
Who in a drunken dream beheld his soul
The fifth within the transmigrating roll;
Which first a peacock, then Euphorbus was,
Then Homer next, and next Pythagoras;
And last of all the line did into Ennius pass.
Secure and free from business of the state,
And more secure of what the vulgar prate,
Here I enjoy my private thoughts; nor care
What rots for sheep the southern winds prepare:
Survey the neighbouring fields, and not repine,
When I behold a larger crop than mine:
To see a beggar's brat in riches flow,
Adds not a wrinkle to my even brow;
Nor, envious at the sight, will I forbear
My plenteous bowl, nor bate my bounteous cheer.
Nor yet unseal the dregs of wine that stink
Of cask; nor in a nasty flaggon drink;
Let others stuff their guts with homely fare;
For men of different inclinations are;
Though born perhaps beneath one common star.
In minds and inanners twins oppos'd we see
In the same sign, almost the same degree:
One, frugal on his birth-day fears to dine,
Does at a penny's cost in herbs repine,

And hardly dares to dip his fingers in the brine.
Prepar'd as priest of his own rites to stand,
He sprinkles pepper with a sparing hand.
His jolly brother, opposite in sense,
Laughs at his thrift; and, lavish of expense,
Quaffs, crams, and guttles, in his own defence.
For me, I'll use my own; and take my share;
Yet will not turbots for my slaves prepare;
Nor be so nice in taste myself to know.
If what I swallow be a thrush, or no

Live on thy annual income; spend thy store;
And freely grind, from thy full threshing-floor;
Next harvest promises as much, or more.
Thus I would live but friendship's holy band,
And offices of kindness, hold my hand :
My friend is shipwreck'd on the Brutian strand,
His riches in th' Ionian main are lost,
And he himself stands shivering on the coast;
Where, destitute of help, forlorn and bare,
He wearies the deaf gods with fruitless prayer.
Their images, the relics of the wreck,
Torn from the naked poop, are tided back
By the wild waves, and, rudely thrown ashore,
Lie impotent; nor can themselves restore.
The vessel sticks, and shows her open'd side, [ride.
And on her shatter'd masts the mews in triumph
From thy new hope, and from thy growing store,
Now lend assistance, and relieve the poor.
Come; do a noble act of charity;

A pittance of thy land will set him free.
Let him not bear the badges of a wreck,
Nor beg with a blue table on his back:
Nor tell me that thy frowning heir will say,
"Tis mine that wealth thou squander'st thus
What is 't to thee, if he neglect thy urn, [away;
Or without spices lets thy body burn?
If odours to thy ashes he refuse,

Or buys corrupted cassia from the Jews?"
"All these," the wiser Bestius will reply,


Are empty pomp, and dead men's luxury: We never knew this vain expense, before Th' effeminated Grecians brought it o'er: Now toys and trifles from their Athens come; And dates and pepper have unsinew'd Rome. Our sweating hinds their sallads, now, defile, Infecting homely herbs with fragrant oil. But to thy fortune be not thou a slave: For what hast thou to fear beyond the grave? And thou who gap'st for my estate, draw near; For I would whisper somewhat in thy ear. [come, Hear'st thou the news, my friend? th' express is With laurel'd letters from the camp to Rome? Cæsar salutes the queen and senate thus: 'My arms are on the Rhine victorious. From mourning altars sweep the dust away: Cease fasting, and proclaim a fat thanksgiving day.' The goodly empress, jollily inclin❜d, Is to the welcome bearer wondrous kind: And setting her good housewifery aside, Prepares for all the pageantry of pride. The captive Germans, of gigantic size, Are rank'd in order, and are clad in frize: The spoils of kings and conquer'd camps we boast, Their arms in trophies hang on the triumphal post.

"Now, for so many glorious actions done In foreign parts, and mighty battles won: For peace at home, and for the public wealth, I mean to crown a bowl to Cæsar's health: Besides, in gratitude for such high matters, Know I have vow'd two hundred gladiators. Say, would'st thou hinder me from this expense; I disinherit thee, if thou dar'st take offence. Yet more, a public largess I design Of oil and pies, to make the people dine: Control me not, for fear I change my will And yet methinks I hear thee grumbling still, You give as if you were the Persian king: Your land does not so large revenues bring.' Well; on my terms thou wilt not be my heir? If thou car'st little, less shall be my care:

« PreviousContinue »