Page images

Studious to please the genius of the times,
With periods, points, and tropes, * he slurs his crimes:
“He robbed not, but he borrowed from the poor,
" And took but with intention to restore.”
He lards with flourishes his long harangue;
'Tis fine, say’st thou ;-what, to be praised, and hang?
Effeminate Roman, shall such stuff prevail
To tickle thee, and make thee wag thy tail ?
Say, should a shipwrecked sailor sing his woe,
Wouldst thou be moved to pity, or bestow
An alms? What's more preposterous than to see
А merry beggar? Mirth in misery?

He seems a trap for charity to lay,
And cons, by night, his lesson for the day.

FRIEND. But to raw numbers, and unfinished verse, Sweet sound is added now, to make it terse: “ 'Tis tagged with rhymé, like Berecynthian Atys, “ The mid-part chimes with art, which never flat is.t “ The dolphin brave, that cuts the liquid wave, “ Or he who in his line can chine the long-ribbed Appennine.”

All this is doggrel stuff.

What if I bring
A nobler verse? * Arnis and the man I sing."

Why name you Virgil with such fops as these?
He's truly great, and must for ever please :

Note VIII,

+ Note IX.

Not fierce, but aweful, is his manly page;
Bold is his strength, but sober is his ráge.

What poems think you soft, and to be read
With languishing regards, and bending lead ?

PERSIUS. “ Their crooked horns the Mimallonian crew “ With blasts inspired ;* and Bassaris, who slew “ The scornful calf, with sword advanced on high, “ Made from his neck his haughty head to fly: “And Mænas, when with ivy bridles bound, “She led the spotted lynx, then Evion rung around; “ Evion from woods and floods repairing echo's

sound.” Could such rude lines a Roman mouth become, Were any manly greatness left in Rome? Mænas and Atyst in the mouth were bred, And never hatched within the labouring head; No blood from bitten nails those poems drew, But churned, like spittle, from the lips they flew.

'Tis fustian all; 'tis execrably bad;
But if they will be fools, must you be mad?
Your satires, let me tell you, are too fierce ;
The great will never bear so blunt a verse.
Their doors are barred against a bitter flout;
Snarl, if you please, but you shall snarl without.
Expect such pay as railing rhymes deserve;
You're in a very hopeful way to starve:

Rather than so, uncensured let them be:
All, all is admirably well, for me.

* Note X.

+ Note XI.

My harmless rhyme shall ’scape the dire disgrace
Of common-shoars, and every pissing-place.
Two painted serpents * shall on high appear;
'Tis holy ground; you must not urine here.
This shall be writ, to fright the fry away,
Who draw their little baubles when they play.

Yet old Lucilius f never feared the times,
But lashed the city, and dissected crimes.
Mutius and Lupus both by name he brought;
He mouthed them, and betwixt his grinders caught.
Unlike in method, with concealed design,
Did crafty Horace his low numbers join;
And, with a sly insinuating grace,
Laughed at his friend, and looked him in the face;
Would raise a blush where secret vice he found,
And tickle while he gently probed the wound;
With seeming innocence the crowd beguiled,
But made the desperate passes when he smiled.

Could he do this, and is my muse controuled By servile awe? Born free, and not be bold? At least, I'll dig a hole within the ground, And to the trusty earth commit the sound; The reeds shall tell you what the poet fears, “King Midas has a snout, and asses ears. This mean conceit, this darling mystery, Which thou think'st nothing, friend, thou shalt not

buy ;
Nor will I change for all the flashy wit,
That flattering Labeo in his Iliads writ.

Thou, if there be a thou in this base town,
Who dares, with angry Eupolis, to frown;
He who, with bold Cratinus, is inspired
With zeal, şi and equal indignation fired;
Who at enormous villainy turns pale,
And steers against it with a full-blown sail,
* Note XII.

+ Note XIII. Note XIV.

Note XV.

Like Aristophanes, let him but smile
On this my honest work, though writ in homely style;
And if two lines or three in all the vein
Appear less drossy, read those lines again.
May they perform their author's just intent,
Glow in thy ears, and in thy breast ferment!
But from the reading of my book and me,

Be far, ye foes of virtuous poverty ;
Who fortune's fault upon the poor can throw, t
Point at the tattered coat, and ragged shoe;
Lay nature's failings to their charge, and jeer
The dim weak eye-sight when the mind is clear;
When thou thyself, thus insolent in state,
Art but, perhaps, some country magistrate,
Whose power extends no farther than to speak
Big on the bench, and scanty weights to break.

Him also for my censor I disdain, Who thinks all science, as all virtue, vain; Who counts geometry, and numbers toys, And with his foot the sacred dust destroys; Whose pleasure is to see a strumpet tear A Cynick’s beard, and lug him by the hair. Such all the morning to the pleadings run; But when the business of the day is done, On dice, and drink, and drabs, they spend their


+ Note XVI.

| Note XVII.





Note I. Should cry up Labeo's stuff, and cry me down.-P. 208. Nothing is remaining of Atticus Labeo (so he is called by the learned Casaubon); nor is he mentioned by any other poet, besides Persius. Casaubon, from an old commentator on Persius, says, that he made a very foolish translation of Homer's Iliads.

Note II.
They comb, and then they order every hair ;
A gown, or white, or scoured to whiteness, wear;

A birth-day jewel bobbing at their ear.---P. 209. He describes a poet, preparing himself to rehearse his works in public, which was commonly performed in August. A room was hired, or lent, by some friend ; a scaffold was raised, and a pulpit placed for him who was to hold forth ; who borrowed a new gown, or scoured his old one, and adorned his ears with jewels, &c.

« PreviousContinue »