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Noble Brutus.---P. 256. Brutus freed the Roman people from the tyranny of the Tarquins, and changed the form of the government into a glorious commonwealth.
Note XVI. Excepting still the letter of the law.---P. 256. The text of the Roman laws was written in red letters, which was called the Rubric ; translated here, in more general words, " The letter of the law."
A man is wholly wise, or wholly is a fool.---P. 257. The Stoics held this paradox, that any one vice, or notorious folly, which they called madness, hindered a man from being virtuous; that a man was of a piece, without a mixture, either wholly vicious, or good ; one virtue or vice, according to them, including all the rest.
Note XVIII. Him that freed thee by the prætor's wand.---P. 258. The prætor held a wand in his hand, with which he softly struck the slave on the head, when he declared him free.
-Says Phædria to his man.---P. 259. This alludes to the play of Terence, called “ The Eunuch ;" which was excellently imitated of late in English, by Sir Charles Sedley. * In the first scene of that comedy, Phædria was introduced with his man, Pamphilus, discoursing, whether he should leave his mistress Thais, or return to her, now that she had invited him.
* In the play called “ Bellamira, or the Mistress.”
With presents begs preferments from the crowd.---P. 260. He who sued for any office amongst the Romans, was called a Candidate, because he wore a white gown ; and sometimes chalk. ed it, to make it appear whiter. He rose early, and went to the levees of those who headed the people; saluted also the tribes severally, when they were gathered together to chuse their magistrates ; and distributed a largess amongst them, to engage them for their voices; much resembling our elections of Parliamentmen.
-On Herod's day.-P. 260. The commentators are divided what Herod this was, whom our author mentions ; whether Herod the Great, whose birth-day might possibly be celebrated, after his death, by the Herodians, a sect amongst the Jews, who thought him their Messiah ; or Herod Agrippa, living in the author's time, and after it. The latter seems the more probable opinion.
Note XXII. Then a cracked egg-shell thy sick fancy frights.---P. 260. The ancients had a superstition, contrary to ours, concerning egg.shells : they thought, that if an egg-shell were cracked, or a hole bored in the bottom of it, they were subject to the power of sorcery. We as vainly break the bottom of an egg-shell, and cross it when we have eaten the egg, lest some hag should make use of it in bewitching us, or sailing over the sea in it, if it were whole. The rest of the priests of Isis, and her one-eyed or squinting priestess, is more largely treated in the sixth satire of Juvenal, where the superstitions of women are related.
A LYRIC POET.
This Sixth Satire treats an admirable common-place of moral phi
losophy, of the true use of riches. They are certainly 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 error, though on the right hand, yet a great one, is, that they are no helps to a virtu: ous 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 Čæsius Bassus, his friend, and a poet also. Enquires first of his health and studies ; and afterwards informs him of his own, and where he is now resident. He gives an account of himself, that he 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 caused thee, friend, to change thy seat,
For me, my warmer constitution wants
* Note I.
+ Note II.
Who in a drunken dream beheld his soul
Secure and free from business of the state,
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 manners twins opposed 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; Prepared 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
expence, , Quaffs, crams, and guttles, in his own defence.
For me, I'll use my own, and take my share,
* Note III.