Sidor som bilder





Never did on cleft Parnaffus dream,

Nor tafte the facred Heliconian stream;
Nor can remember when my brain inspir'd,
Was, by the Muses, into madness fir'd.
My share in pale 2 Pyrene I refign;
And claim no part in all the mighty Nine.
Statues 3, with winding ivy crown'd, belong
To nobler poets, for a nobler fong:

Heedlefs of verfe, and hopeless of the crown,
Scarce half a wit, and more than half a clown,
Before the 4 fhrine I lay my rugged numbers down.
Who taught the parrot human notes to try,
Or with a voice endu'd the chatt'ring pye?
"Twas witty want, fierce hunger to appeafe:
Want taught their mafters, and their masters thefe.
Let gain, that gilded bait, be hung on high,
The hungry witlings have it in their eye;
Pyes, crows, and daws, poetic prefents bring:
You fay they squeak; but they will fwear they fing.

1 Parnaffus and Helicon were hills confecrated to the mufes ; and the fuppofed place of their abode. Parnaffus was forked on the top; and from Helicon ran a ftream, the fpring of which was called the mufes well.

2 Pyrene, a fountain in Corinth; confecrated alfo to the mufes. 3 The ftatues of the poets were crowned with ivy about their brows.

4 Before the forine; that is before the fhrine of Apollo, in his temple at Rome, called the Palatine.


Argument of the First Satire."

I need not repeat, that the chief aim of the author is against bad poets in this fatire. But I must add, that he includes alfo bad orators, who began at that time (as Petronius in the beginning of his book tells us) to enervate manly elaquence, by tropes and figures, ill placed and worse applied. Amongst the poets, Perfius covertly ftrikes at Nero; fome of whofe verses he recites with scorn and indignation. He also takes notice of the noblemen and their abominable poetry, who in the luxury of their fortunes, set up for wits and judges. The fatire is in dialogue, betwixt the author and his friend or monitor; who dissuades him from this dangerous attempt of expofing great men. But Perfius, who is of a free Spirit, and has not forgotten that Rome was once a commonwealth, breaks through all thofe difficulties, and boldly arraigns the falfe judgment of the age in which he lives. The reader may observe that our poet was a ftoick philosopher; and that all his moral sentences, both here and in all the reft of his fatires, are drawn from the dogmas of that feet.

[blocks in formation]


In Dialogue betwixt the POET and his FRIEND or MONITOR.


OW anxious are our cares, and yet
The bent of our defires!


how vain

Friend. Thy fpleen contain:

Perfius. This to me?

For none will read thy fatires.

Friend. None; or what's next to none, but two or three.

"Tis hard, I grant.

Perfius. "Tis nothing; I can bear

That paltry fcriblers have the public ear:
That this vaft univerfal fool, the town,

Should cry up
I Labeo's ftuff, and cry me down.
They damn themselves; nor will my Mufe defcend
To clap with fuch, who fools and knaves commend:
Their fmiles and cenfures are to me the fame :
I care not what they praise, or what they blame.
In full affemblies let the crowd prevail :

I weigh no merit by the common scale.
The confcience is the teft of ev'ry mind;
"Seek not thyfelf, without thyfelf, to find."

I Nothing is remaining of Atticus Labeo, (fo he is called by the learned Cafaubon.) Nor is he mentioned by any other poet befides Perfius: Cafaubon, from an old commentator on Perfius, fays, that he made a very foolish translation of Homer's Iliad.


But where's that Roman ?---Somewhat I would fay,
But fear;-let fear, for once, to truth give way,
Truth lends the Stoick courage: when I look
On human acts, and read in Nature's book,
From the firft paftimes of our infant age,
To elder cares, and man's feverer page;
When stern as tutors, and as uncles hard,
We lafh the pupil, and defraud the ward:
Then, then I fay, or would fay, if I durft-
But thus provok'd, I muft fpeak out, or burst,
Friend. Once more forbear.

Perfius. I cannot rule my spleen;
My fcorn rebels, and tickles me within.

First, to begin at home; our authors write In lonely rooms, fecur'd from public fight; Whether in profe, or verfe, 'tis all the fame : The profe is fuftian, and the numbers lame. All noife, and empty pomp, a storm of words, Lab'ring with found, that little fenfe affords. They 2 comb, and then they order ev'ry hair : A gown, or white, or fcour'd to whiteness, wear: A birth-day jewel bobbing at their ear. Next, gargle well their throats, and thus prepar'd, They mount, a God's name, to be feen and heard. From their high scaffold, with a trumpet cheek, And ogling all their audience ere they speak. The nauseous nobles, ev'n the chief of Rome, With gaping mouths to thefe rehearsals come, And pant with pleasure, when fome lufty line The marrow pierces, and invades the chine. At open fulfom bawdry they rejoice, And flimy jeft applaud with broken voice.


2 He defcribes a poet preparing himself to rehearse his works in publick; which was commonly performed in Auguft. A room was hired or lent by some friend; a scaffold was raised, and a pulpit placed for him, who was to hold forth; who borrowed a new gown, or fcoured his old one; and adorned his ears with jewels, &c.

U 3


Base prostitute, thus doft thou gain thy bread ?
Thus doft thou feed their ears, and thus art fed ?
At his own filthy ftuff he grins and brays:
And gives the fign where he expects their praise.
Why have I learn'd, fay'ft thou, if thus confin'd,
I choke the noble vigour of my mind?

Know, my wild 3 fig-tree, which in rocks is bred,
Will split the quarry, and shoot out the head.
Fine fruits of learning! old ambitious fool,
Dar'ft thou apply that adage of the school;
As if 'tis nothing worth that lies conceal'd,
And "fcience is not science till reveal'd ?”
Oh, but 'tis brave to be admir'd, to fee

The crowd, with pointing fingers, cry, That's he:
That's he whofe wond'rous poem is become
A lecture for the noble youth of Rome!
Who, by their fathers, is at feasts renown'd;
And often quoted when the bowls go round.
Full gorg'd and flush'd, they wantonly rehearse;
And add to wine the luxury of verse.

One, clad in purple, not to lose his time,
Eats and recites fome lamentable rhyme :
Some fenfelefs Phillis, in a broken note.
Snuffling at nofe, and croaking in his throat :
Then graciously the mellow audience nod:
Is not th' immortal author made a God?
Are not his manes bleft, fuch praise to have?
Lies not the turf more lightly on his grave?
And roses (while his loud applause they fing)
Stand ready from his fepulcher to spring?

All these, you cry, but light objections are ;
Mere malice, and you drive the jeft too far.
For does there breathe a man, who can reject
A gen'ral fame, and his own lines neglect ?

3 Trees of that kind grow wild in many parts of Italy; and make their way through rocks: Sometimes splitting the tomb-ftones.


« FöregåendeFortsätt »