Page images

Is it for this they ftudy? to grow pale,
And miss the pleafures of a glorious meal?
For this, in rags accouter'd, are they seen,
And made the may-game of the public spleen?
Proceed, my friend, and rail; but hear me tell
A ftory, which is just thy parallel.

A fpark, like thee, of the man-killing trade,
Fell fick, and thus to his phyfician faid:
Methinks I am not right in every part;
I feel a kind of trembling at my heart :
My pulfe unequal, and my breath is ftrong;
Befides a filthy fur upon my tongue.


The doctor heard him, exercis'd his skill
And, after, bid him for four days be ftill.
Three days he took good counfel, and began
To mend, and look like a recovering man:
The fourth, he could not hold from drink; but fends
His boy to one of his old trufty friends:
Adjuring him, by all the powers divine,
To pity his diftrefs, who could not dine
Without a flaggon of his healing wine.
He drinks a fwilling draught; and, lin'd within,
Will fupple in the bath his outward skin :
Whom should he find but his phyfician there,
Who, wifely, bade him once again beware.
Sir, you look wan, you hardly draw your breath;
Drinking is dangerous, and the bath is death.
'Tis nothing, fays the fool: but, fays the friend,
This nothing, Sir, will bring you to your



Do I not fee your dropfy belly fwell?

Your yellow fkin?-No more of that; I'm well.
I have already bury'd two or three

That ftood betwixt a fair eftate and me,

And, doctor, I may live to bury thee.

Thou tell'ft me, I look ill; and thou look'ft worse.
I've done, fays the physician; take your course.
The laughing fot, like all unthinking men,

Bathes and gets drunk; then bathes and drinks again:
His throat half throttled with corrupted phlegm,
And breathing through his jaws a belching steam:
Amidft his cups with fainting shivering seiz’d,
His limbs disjointed, and all o'er difeas'd,
His hand refufes to fuftain the bowl:

And his teeth chatter, and his eye-balls roll:
Till, with his meat, he vomits out his foul:
Then trumpets, torches, and a tedious crew
Of hireling mourners, for his funeral due.
Our dear departed brother lies in state,

His heels ftretch'd out, and pointing to the gate :
And flaves, now manumiz'd, on their dead mafter


They hoist him on the bier, and deal the dole:

And there 's an end of a luxurious fool.

But what's thy fulfome parable to me?

My body is from all diseases free:
My temperate pulfe does regularly beat;
Feel, and be fatisfy'd, my hands and feet :
These are not cold, nor those oppreft with heat.



Or lay thy hand upon my naked heart,
And thou shalt find me hale in every part.

I grant this true but, ftill, the deadly wound
Is in thy foul; 'tis there thou art not found.
Say, when thou seest a heap of tempting gold,
Or a more tempting harlot doft behold;
Then, when she cafts on thee a fide-long glance,
Then try thy heart, and tell me if it dance.

Some coarfe cold fallad is before thee fet;
Bread with the bran, perhaps, and broken meat;
Fall on, and try thy appetite to eat.

These are not dishes for thy dainty tooth:
What, haft thou got an ulcer in thy mouth?
Why ftand'st thou picking? Is thy pallat fore?
That bete and radishes will make thee roar?
Such is th' unequal temper of thy mind;
Thy paffions in extremes, and unconfin'd:
Thy hair fo briftles with umanly fears,

As fields of corn, that rife in bearded ears.
And, when thy cheeks with flushing fury glow,
The rage of boiling caldrons is more flow;
When fed with fuel and with flames below.

With foam upon thy lips and sparkling eyes,
Thou fay'ft, and doft, in fuch outrageous wife;
That mad Oreftes, if he faw the show,

Would fwear thou wert the madder of the two.




[blocks in formation]

OUR author, living in the time of Nero, was contemporary and friend to the noble Poet Lucan both of them were fufficiently fenfible, with all good men, how unfkilfully he managed the commonwealth: and perhaps might guefs at his future tyranny, by fome paffages, during the latter part of his first five years; though he broke not out into his great exceffes, while he was reftrained by the counfels and authority of Seneca. Lucan has not fpared him in the poem of his Pharfalia; for his very complimest Jooked afquint as well as Nero. Perfius has been bolder, but with caution likewife. For here, in the perfon of young Alcibiades, he arraigns his ambition of meddling with ftate-affairs, without judgment or experience. It is probable that he makes Seneca, in this fatire, fuftain the part of Socrates, under a borrowed name. And, withal, difcovers fome fecret vices of Nero, concerning his luft, his drunkenness, and his effeminacy, which had not yet


arrived to public notice. He alfo reprehends the flattery of his courtiers, who endeavoured to make all his vices pass for virtues. Covetoufnefs 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 fatirize his prodigality and voluptuousness; to which he makes a tranfition. I find no inftance in hiftory of that emperor's being a Pathique, though Perfius feems to brand him with it. From the two dialogues of Plato, both called Alcibiades, the poet took the arguments of the fecond and third fatires, but he inverted the order of them for the third fatire is taken from the first of thofe dialogues.

The commentators, before Cafaubon, were ignorant of our author's fecret meaning; and thought he had only written against young noblemen in general, who were too forward in afpiring to public magiftracy: but this excellent fcholiaft has unraveled the whole mystery; and made it apparent, that the fting of this fatire was particularly aimed at Nero.


HOE'ER thou art, whose forward years are bent
On ftate affairs the guide to government;

Hear, firft, what Socrates of old has faid

To the lov'd youth, whom he at Athens bred.
Tell me, thou pupil to great Pericles,

Our fecond hope, my Alcibiades,



« PreviousContinue »