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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 the unequal temper of thy mind; Thy paffions, in extreams, and unconfin'd: Thy hair so briftles with unmanly fears, As fields of corn, that rise in bearded ears. And, when thy cheeks with flufhing 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.
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 be managed the commonwealth: and perhaps might guess at his future tyranny, by fome paffages, during the latter part of his first five years; tho he broke not out into his great exceffes, while he was reftrained by the counfels and authority of Seneca. Lucan has not Spared him in the poem of his Pharfalia; for his very compliment looked 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 stateaffairs, 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 bis effeminacy, which had not yet arrived to public notice. He also reprehends the flattery of bis courtiers, who endeavoured to make all bis vices pass for virtues. Covetousness was undoubtedly none of his faults; but it is here defcribed as a veil caft over the true meaning of the poet, which was to satirize his prodigality and voluptuousness; to which he makes a transition. I find no instance in history of that emperor's being a Pathique, the 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 be inverted the order of them: for the third fatire is taken from the firft of thofe dialogues.
The commentators before Cafaubon, were ignorant of our author's fecret meaning; and thought be bad only written against young noblemen in gemoral, who were too forward in afpiring to public magiftracy: but this excellent fcholi af has unravelled the whole myftery; and made it apparent,
that the fling of this fatire was particularly aimed
Hoe'er thou art, whose forward
On ftate-affairs to guide the government;
To the lov'd youth, whom he at Athens bred.
Our fecond hope, my Alcibiades,
What are the grounds, from whence thou doft prepare
To undertake, fo young, fo vaft a care?
Sure thou art born to fome peculiar fate;
But thou, no doubt, can'ft fet the bufinefs right, And give each argument its proper weight: Know'ft, with an equal hand, to hold the scale : Seeft where the reafons pinch, and where they fail, And where exceptions o'er the general rule prevail.
And, taught by infpiration, in a trice,
age, and cares,
What aim'ft thou at, and whither tends thy?
In what thy utmost good? Delicious fare;
Hold, hold; are all thy empty wishes fuch?