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Death ftalks behind thee, and each flying hour
Speak wilt thou Avarice, or Pleasure, chufe
Nor think when once thou haft refifted one,
Says 3 Phædra to his man, Believe me, friend,
Shall I run out of all? My friends difgrace,
She break her heart! fhe'll fooner break your head.
Sir, take your courfe: but my advice is plain:
This alludes to the play of Terence, called the Eunuch; which was excellently imitated of late in English, by Sir Charles Sidley: In the first scene of that comedy, Phædra was introduced with his man Pamphilus, difcourfing whether he fhould leave his miftrefs Thais, or return to her, now that the had invited him.
But write him down a flave, who, humbly proud,
On holidays may tell, that such a feat was done
Thy fuperftition too may claim a fhare:
When flow'rs are ftrew'd, and lamps in order plac'd,
On 5 Herod's day; when sparkling bowls go round,
4 He who fued for any office amongst the Romans, was called a candidate, because he wore a white gown; and fometimes chalked it, to make it appear whiter. He rose early, and went to the Levees of those who headed the people: faluted alfo the tribes feverally, when they were gathered together, to chufe their magiftrates; and diftributed a largess amongst them, to engage them for their voices: much refembling our elections of Parliament-men.
5 The commentators are divided, what Herod this was whom our author mentions; whether Herod the Great, whose birth-day might be celebrated, after his death, by the Herodians, a fect among the Jews, who thought him their Meffiah; or Herod Agrippa, living in the author's time, and after it. The latter teems the more probable opinion.
6 The ancients had a fuperftition, contrary to ours, concerning egg-fhells: They thought that if an egg fhell were cracked, or a hole bored in the bottom of it, they were fubject to the power of forcery: We as vainly break the bottom of an egg-fhell, and crofs it, when we have eaten the egg, left fome hag fhould make ufe of it, in bewitching us, or failing over the fea in it, if it were whole.
The reft of the priests of Itis, and her one-eyed, or fquinting prieftefs, is more largely treated in the fixth fatire of Juvenal, where the fuperftitions of women are related.
Of Ifis, awe thee: left the Gods for fin,
Preach this among the brawny guards, fay'ft thou, And fee if they thy doctrine will allow :
The dull fat captain, with a hound's deep throat,
This fixth fatire treats an admirable common-place of moral philofophy of the true uje of riches. They are certainly intended by the Power who befiows them, as inftruments and helps of living commodiorfly ourselves; and of administering to the wants of others, who are oppreffed 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 virtuous life; the other places all our happiness in the acquifition and poffefion of them; and this is, undoubtedly, the worst extream. The mean betwixt thefe, is the cpinion of the Stoicks; which is, that riches may be useful to the leading a virtuous life; in cafe we rightly understand how to give according to right reafon; 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 Perfius writes in this fatire; wherein he not only fhews the lawful use of riches, but aljo fharply inveighs against the vices which are oppofed to it; and efpecially of thefe, which confifts in the defects of giving or spending; or in the abufe of riches. He writes to Cafius Baffus his friend, and a poet afo. Enquires firft of his health and fiudies; and afterwards informs him of his own, and where he is now refident. 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 defire of wealth. He dwells upon the latter vice: and being jenfible that few men either defire or ufe riches as they ought, he endeavours to convince them of their folly; which is the main defign of the whole fatire.
TO CASIUS BASSUS, a Lyric Poet.
AS winter caus'd thee, friend, to change thy feat,
And found the Maker's work, in equal verse,
1 And feck, in Sabine air, &c. All the ftudious, and particularly the poets, about the end of Auguft, began to set themselves on work: refraining from writing, during the heats of the fummer. They wrote by night, and fat up the greatest part of it: For which reason the product of their studies, was called Elucubrations, or nightly labours. They who had country-feats, retired to them while they ftudied: As Perfius did to his, which was near the port of the moon in Etruria; and Baffus to his which was in the country of the Sabines, nearer Rome.
2 Now Sporting on thy lyre, &c. This proves Cæfius Baffus to have been a lyrick poet: It is faid of him, that by an eruption of the flaming mountain Vefuvius, near which the greatest part of his fortune lay, he was burnt himself, together with all his writings.