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Now 7 Silius wants thy counsel, gives advice;
Wed Cæsar's wife, or die; the choice is nice.
Her comet-eyes she darts on ev'ry grace ;
And takes a fatal liking to his face.
Adorn'd with bridal pomp she fits in ftate ;
The public notaries and Aruspex wait :
The genial bed is in the garden dreft :
The portion paid, and ev'ry rite express’d,
Which in a Roman marriage is profeft.
'Tis no ftol'n wedding, this, rejecting awe,
She scorns to marry, but in form of law :
In this moot case, your judgment: to refuse
Is present death, besides the night you lose :
If you consent, 'tis hardly worth your pain;
A day or two of anxious life you gain :
Till loud reports thro' all the town have past,
And reach the prince : for cuckolds hear the last,
Indulge thy pleasure, youth, and take thy swing;
For not to take is but the self-fame thing :
Inevitable death before thee lies ;
But looks more kindly thro' a lady's eyes,
What then remains ? Are we depriv'd of will,
Must we not wish, for fear of wishing ill ?
Receive my counsel, and securely move ;
Intrust thy fortune to the Pow'rs above.
Leave them to manage for thee, and to grant
What their unerring wisdom sees thee want:
In goodness as in greatness they excel;
Ah that we lov'd ourselves but half so well!
We, blindly by our headstrong passions led,
Are hot for action, and desire to wed;
7 Mesalina, wife tò the emperor Claudius, infamous for her lewde ness. She set her eyes upon C. Silius, a fine youth ; forced him to quit his own wife, and marry her with all the formalities of a wedding, whilft Claudius Cæsar was sacrificing at Hoftia. Upon his return, he put both Silius and her to death,
Then wish for heirs : but to the Gods alone
Our future offspring, and our wives, are known;
Th'audacious ftrumpet, and ungracious fon.
Yet not to rob the priests of pious gain,
That altars be not wholly built in vain ;
Forgive the Gods the rest, and stand confin'd
To health of body, and content of mind;
A foul, that can securely death defy,
And count it nature's privilege to die;
Serene and manly, harden'd to sustain
The load of life, and exercis’d in pain :
Guiltless of hate, and proof against desire ;
That all things weighs, and nothing can admire :
That dares prefer the toils of Hercules
To dalliance, banquet, and ignoble ease.
The path to peace is virtue : what I show,
Thyself may freely on thyself bestow :
Fortune was never worship’d by the wise ;
But, set aloft by fools, ufurps the skies.
THE ARGUMENT. The poet in this fatire, proves, that the condition of a soldier
is much better than that of a country-man: firfi, because a country-man, however affronted, provoked, and struck himself, dares not strike a soldier ; who is only to be judged by a court-martial: and by the law of Camillus, which obliges him not to quarrel without the trenches, he is also ajured to have aspeedy hearing, and quick dispatch: whereas the town|man or peasant is delayed in his fuit by frivolous pretences, and not sure of justice when he is heard in the court. The foldier is also privileged to make a will, and to give away his estate, which he got in war, to whom he pleases, without consideration of parentage or relations; which is denied to all other Romans. This satire was written by fuvenal, when he was a commander in Ægypt: it is certainly his, though I think it not finished. And if it be well observed, you will find be intended an invective against a standing army.
HAT vast prerogatives, my Gallus, are
Accruing to the mighty man of war ! For, if into a lucky camp I light, Tho'raw in arms, and yet afraid to fight, Befriend me, my good stars, and all goes right: One happy hour is to a soldier better, Than mother 1 Juno's recommending letter, Or Venus, when to Mars she would prefer My suit, and own the kindness done to her. 1 Juno was mother to Mars the god of war: Venus was his mistress.
See what our common privileges are :
As, first, no saucy citizen Thall dare
To strike a soldier, nor when struck, resent
The wrong, for fear of farther punishment :
Not tho' his teeth are beaten out, his eyes
Hang by a string, in bumps his forehead rise,
Shall he presume to mention his disgrace,
Or beg amends for his demolish'd face.
A booted judge shall fit to try his cause,
Not by the statute, but by martial laws;
Which old 2 Camillus order'd, to confine
The brawls of soldiers to the trench and line :
A wise provision; and from thence 'tis clear,
That officers a soldier's cause should hear :
And taking cognizance of wrongs receiv'd,
An honeft man may hope to be reliev'd.
So far 'tis well: but with a gen’ral cry,
The regiment will rise in mutiny,
The freedom of their fellow-rogue demand,
And, if refus’d, will threaten to disband.
Withdraw thy action, and depart in peace ;
The remedy is worse than the disease :
This cause is worthy 3 him, who in the hall
Would for his fee, and for his client, bawl :
But would'it thou, friend, who hast two legs alone,
(Which, heav'n be prais’d, thou yet mayst call thy own)
Wouldst thou to run the gantlet these expose
To a whole company of 4 hob-nail'd shoes?
2 Camillus (who being first banished, by his ungrateful countrymen the Romans, afterwards returned, and freed them from the Gauls,) made a law which prohibited the soldiers from quarrelling without the camp, lest upon that pretence they might happen to be absent, when they ought to be on duty.
3 This cause is wortby bim, &c. The poet names a Modenese lawyer whom he calls Vagellius : who was so impudent that he would plead any cause, right or wrong, without shame or fear,
4. Ilob-naild moes. The Roman soldiers wore plates of iron under their shoes, or stuck them with nails; as countrymen do now.
Sure the good-breeding of wise citizens
Should teach 'em more good-nature to their fhins.
Befides whom canst thou think so much thy friend,
Who dares appear thy business to defend ?
Dry up thy tears and pocket up th'abuse,
Nor put thy friend to make a bad excuse :
The judge cries out, Your evidence produce.
Will he, who saw the soldier's mutton-fift,
And saw thee maul'd, appear within the lift,
To witness truth? When I see one so brave,
The dead, think I, are risen from the grave ;
And with their long spade beards, and matted hair,
Our honest ancestors are come to take the air.
Againft a clown, with more security,
A witness may be brought to swear a lye,
Than, tho’his evidence be full and fair,
To vouch a truth against a man of war.
More benefits remain, and claim'd as rights,
Which are a standing army's perquisites.
If any rogue vexatious suits advance
Against me for my known inheritance,
Enter by violence my fruitful grounds,
Or.take the sacred land-mark from my bounds,
Those bounds, which with poffeffion and with pray's,
And 5 offer'd cakes, have been my annual care :
Or if my debtors do not keep their day,
Deny their hands, and then refuse to pay ;
I must with patience all the terms attend,
Among the common causes that depend,
Till mine is calld; and that long look’d-for day
Is ftill encumber'd with some new delay :
5 Land-marks were used by the Romans almost in the same manner as now: And as we go once a year in proceffion, about the bounds of parishes, and renew them, so they offered cakes upon the stone, or land-mark.