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So, justly ought to be again restor'd :
Nay, if you credit fage Palphurius'* word,
Or dare rely on Armillatus'* skill,
Whatever fith the vulgar fry excel
Belong to Cæsar, wherefoe'er they swim,
By their own worth confiscated to him.
The boatman then shall a wife present make,
And give the fish before the seizers take.
Now fickly Autumn to dry frosts gave way,
Cold Winter rag'd, and fresh preserv’d the prey ;
Yet with such hafte the busy fishes flew,
As if a hot south-wind corruption blew :
And now he reach'd the lake, where what remains
Of Alba still her ancient rites retains,
Still worships Vesta, though an humbler way,
Nor lets the hallow'd Trojan fire decay.
The wondering crowd, that to strange sights resort,
And choak'd a while his passage to the court,
At length gives way; ope flies the palace-gate,
The turbot enters in, without the Fathers t wait ;
The boatman straight does to Atrides press,
And thus presents his fish, and his address :
Accept, dread Sir, this tribute from the main,
To grcat for private kitchens to contain.
To your glad genius facrifice this day,
Let common meats respectfully give way.
* Bcth of consular degree, yet spies and informers. + The Sunate, or Patres Confcripti.
Haste to unload your stomachs, to receive
This turbot, that for you did only live.
So long preserv’d to be imperial food,
Glad of the net, and to be taken proud.
How fulsome this ! how gross! yet this takes well,
And the vain Prince with empty pride does swell.
Nothing so monstrous can be said or feign’d,
But with belief and joy is entertain'd,
When to his face the worthless wretch is prais’d,
Whom vile court-flattery to a god has rais’d.
But oh, hard fate! the palace stores no dish
Afford, capacious of the mighty fish.
To sage debate are summon'd all the peers,
His trusty and much-hated counsellors,
In whose pale looks that ghastly terror sat,
That haunts the dangerous friendships of the great.
The loud Liburnian *, that the fenate call’d,
'Run, run ; he's set, he's fet!” no sooner bawlid,
But, with his robe snatcht up in haste, does come
Pegasust, bailiff of affrighted Rome.
What more were præfects then: The best he was,
And faithfullest expounder of the laws.
Yet in ill times thought all things manag'd best,
When Justice exercis'd her sword the least..
Old Crispus & next, pleasant though old, appears, His wit nor humour yielding to his years.
* The Roman criers were usually of this country. + A learned lawyer, and præfect of Rome. # Who made the jest on Domitian's killing flies.
His temper mild, good-nature join'd with fense,
And manners charming as his eloquence.
Who fitter for a useful friend than he,
To the great Ruler of the earth and sea,
If, as his thoughts were just, his tongue were free?
If it were safe to vent his generous mind
To Rome's dire plague, and terror of mankind ;
If cruel Power could softening counsel bear.
But what's so tender as a tyrant's ear ;
With whom whoever, though a favourite, fpake,
At every sentence fet his life at stake,
Though the discourse were of no weightier things,
Than fultry summers, or unhealthful springs ?
This well he knew, and therefore never try'd,
With his weak arms to stem the stronger tide.
Nor did all Rome, grown fpiritless, supply
A man that for bold truth durst bravely die.
So, safe by wise complying silence, he
Ev'n in that court did fourscore summers fee.
Next'him Acilius, though his age the same,
With eager haste to the grand council came :
With him a youth, unworthy of the fate
That did too near his growing virtues wait,
Urg'd by the tyrant's envy, fear, or hate.
(But 'tis long since old age began to be
In noble blood no less than prodigy,
Whence 'tis I'd rather be of giants' birth *,
A pigmy brother to those fons of earth.)
* Of an obscure and unknown family.
Unhappy youth! whom from his destin'd end,
No well-dissembled madness could defend;
When naked in the Alban theatre,
In Libyan bears he fixt his hunting spear.
Who sees not now through the Lord's thin disguise,
That long feem'd fool, to prove at last more wise ?
That stale court trick is now too
open laid :
Who now admires the part old Brutus play'd * ?
Those honest times might swallow this pretence,
When the King's beard was deeper than his sense.
Next Rubrius came, though not of noble race,
With equal marks of terror in his face.
Pale with the gnawing guilt and inward shame
Of an old crime that is not fit to name.
Worse, yet in fcandal taking more delight,
Than the vile Pathick + that durft satire write.
Montanus' belly next, advancing slow
Before the sweating senator, did go.
Crispinus after, but much sweeter comes,
Scented with coftly oils and Eastern gums,
More than would serve two funerals for perfumes.
Then Pompey, none more skill'd in the court-game Of cutting throats with a soft whisper, came.
Next Fuscus I, he who many a peaceful day For Dacian vulturs was referv'd a prey,
* In counterfeiting madness. + Nero, who charged his own crimes on Quintianus, Cornelius Fufcus, who was Nain in Dacia.
Till, having study'd war enough at home,
He led abroad th’ unhappy arms of Rome.
Cunning Vejento next, and by his fide
Bloody Catullus leaning on his guide,
Decrepit, yet a furious lover he,
And deeply smit with charms he could not fee.
A monster, that ev’n this worst age out-vies,
Conspicuous, and above the common size.
A blind base flatterer, from some bridge or gate *,.
Rais'd to a murdering minister of state.
Deserving still to beg upon the road,
And bless each passing waggon and its load.
None more admir'd the fith; he in its praise
With zeal his voice, with zeal his hands did raise;
But to the left all his fine things did say,
Whilst on his right the unseen turbot lay.
So he the famid Cilician Fencer prais'd,
And at each hit with wonder seem'd amaz'd:
So did the scenes and stage machines admire,
And boys that flew through canvas clouds in wire.
Nor came Vejento short; but, as inspir'd
By thee, Bellona, by thy fury fir’d,
Turns prophet. See the mighty omen, see,
He cries,, of some illustrious victory!
Some captive king thee his new lord shall own ;
Or from his Britith chariot headlong thrown
The proud Arviragus come tumbling down!
* The common stands for beggars..