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Thou measur'st by thyself the powers divine;
phlegm, Foretel events, or in a morning dream; Even those thou would'st in veneration hold, And, if not faces, give them beards of gold. The priests in temples now no longer care For Saturn's brass, † or Numa's earthen ware ; $ Or vestal urns, in each religious rite; This wicked gold has put them all to flight. O souls, in whom no heavenly fire is found, Fat minds, and ever grovelling on the ground ! We bring our manners to the blest abodes, And think what pleases us must please the gods. Of oil and cassia one the ingredients takes, And, of the mixture, a rich ointment makes; Another finds the way to dye in grain, And makes Calabrian wool || receive the Tyrian stain; Or from the shells their orient treasure takes, Or for their golden ore in rivers rakes, Then melts the mass. All these are vanities, Yet still some profit from their pains may rise: But tell me, priest, if I may be so bold, What are the gods the better for this gold ? The wretch, that offers from his wealthy store These presents, bribes the powers to give him more; As maids to Venus offer baby-toys, To bless the marriage-bed with girls and boys. But let us for the gods a gift prepare,
Which the great man's great chargers cannot bear;
TRANSLATIONS FROM PERSIUS.
With a white stone. -P. 222. The Romans were used to mark their fortunate days, or any thing that luckily befel them, with a white stone, which they had from the island Creta, and their unfortunate with a coal.
Of some vast treasure, hidden under ground.---P. 222. Hercules was thought to have the key and power of bestowing all hidden treasure.
To wash the obscenities of night away.---P. 223. The ancients thought themselves tainted and polluted by night itself, as well as bad dreams in the night; and therefore purified themselves by washing their heads and hands every morning, which custom the Turks observe to this day.
Note IV. Fit for Ergenna's prayer and sacrifice.---P. 223. When any one was thunderstruck, the soothsayer (who is here called Ergenna) immediately repaired to the place, to expiate the displeasure of the gods, by sacrificing two sheep.
Note V. Our superstitions with our life begin.---P. 223. The poet laughs at the superstitious ceremonies which the old women made use of in their lustration, or purification days, when they named their children, which was done on the eighth day to females, and on the ninth to males.
Foretel events, or in a morning dream.---P. 225. It was the opinion both of Grecians and Romans, that the gods, in visions and dreams, often revealed to their favourites a cure for their diseases, and sometimes those of others. Thus Alexander dreamed of an herb which cured Ptolemy. These gods were principally Apollo and Esculapius ; but, in aftertimes, the same virtue and good-will was attributed to Isis and Osiris. Which brings to my remembrance an odd passage in Sir Thomas Brown's Religio Medici, or in his Vulgar Errors ; the sense whereof is, that we are beholden, for many of our discoveries in physic, to the courteous revelation of spirits. By the expression, of " visions purged from phlegm,” our author means such dreams or visions as proceed not from natural causes, or humours of the body, but such as are sent from heaven; and are, therefore, certain remedies.
-P. 225. Brazen vessels, in which the public treasures of the Romans were kept : it may be the poet means only old vessels, which were called Kzóra, from the Greek name of Saturn. Note also, that the Roman treasury was in the temple of Saturn.
Or Numa's earthen ware.-P. 225. Under Numa, the second king of Rome, and for a long time after him, the holy vessels for sacrifice were of earthen-ware; according to the superstitious rites which were introduced by the same Numa: though afterwards, when Memmius had taken Cotinth, and Paulus Emilius had conquered Macedonia, luxury began amongst the Romans, and then their utensils of devotion were of gold and silver, &c.
Note IX. And makes Calabrian wool, &c.- -P. 225. The wool of Calabria was of the finest sort in Italy, as Juvenal also tells us. The Tyrian stain is the purple colour dyed at Tyrus; and I suppose, but dare not positively affirm, that the richest of that dye was nearest our crimson, and not scarlet, or that other colour more approaching to the blue. I have not room to justify my conjecture.
Note X. As maids to Venus offer baby-toys.---P. 225. Those baby-toys were little babies, or poppets, as we call them; in Latin, pupæ; which the girls, when they came to the age of puberty, or child-bearing, offered to Venus; as the boys, at fourteen or fifteen, offered their bullæ, or bosses.
Note XI. A cake, thus given, is worth a hecatomb.---P. 226. A cake of barley, or coarse wheat-meal, with the bran in it: The meaning is, that God is pleased with the pure and spotless heart of the offerer, and not with the riches of the offering. Laberius, in the fragments of his “ Mimes," has a verse like this—Puras, Deus, non plenas aspicit manus.--- What I had forgotten before, in its due place, I must here tell the reader, that the first half of this satire was translated by one of my sons, now in Italy; but I thought so well of it, that I let it pass without any alteration.