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Envy must own, I live among the great, No pimp of pleasure, and no spy of state, 134 With eyes that pry not, tongue that ne'er repeats, Fond to spread friendships, but to cover heats; To help who want, to forward who excel; This all who know me, know; who love me, tell; And who unknown defame me, let them be Scribblers or peers, alike are mob to me. This is my plea, on this I rest my cause : What saith my counsel, learned in the laws ?
F. Your plea is good; but still I say, beware!
F. Indeed ?
THE SECOND SATIRE
SECOND BOOK OF HORACE.
TO MR. BETHEL.
This imitation is confined chiefly to a sketch of the poet's personal habits, and for that reason has a value which may not be always affixed to his more ambitious labors. The details are slight, but they are characteristic; and the language is easy, but elegant. Few things in literature are more attractive than those sudden glimpses into the study, or the bosom, of eminent men. If Shakspeare had given us but a few traits of himself, with what delight would they not have been cherished at this hour! Of the misfortunes of the great poets we know too much, of their manners too little: in negligence or disdain, they have left the world to conjecture; and have thus deprived it of the most interesting portion of the most interesting of all classes of literature, biography.
What, and how great, the virtue and the art
Not when a gilt buffet's reflected pride
5 Turns you from sound philosophy aside; Not when from plate to plate your eye-balls roll, And the brain dances to the mantling bowl.
Hear Bethel's sermon, one not versed in schools, But strong in sense, and wise without the rules. 10
Go, work, hunt, exercise ! he thus began : . Then scorn a homely dinner, if you can. Your wine lock'd up, your butler stroll’d abroad, Or fish denied, the river yet unthaw'd ;If then plain bread and milk will do the feat, 15 The pleasure lies in you, and not the meat.
• Preach as I please, I doubt our curious men Will choose a pheasant still before a hen; Yet hens of Guinea full as good I hold, Except you eat the feathers green and gold. 20 Of carps and mullets why prefer the great, Though cut in pieces ere my lord can eat; Yet for small turbots such esteem profess? Because God made these large, the other less. Oldfield, with more than harpy throat endued, 25 Cries, • Send me, gods! a whole hog barbecued !'
9 Bethel, a frequent and familiar correspondent of Pope : he performs in this Epistle the part of the Horatian Ofellus.
18 Will choose a pheasant. In the original, a peacock, a stronger contrast. The peacock was among the most costly dishes of Roman epicurism: its price was sometimes fifty denarii, about a guinea and a half. The rearing of peacocks for the table was a trade: a flock of a hundred has been rated at £322 of our money. Aufidius Lurco, according to Varro, made an income of nearly £500 a year by peacocks alone.
25 Oldfield. A fool, who ate himself out of his fortune.
26 Hog barbecued, 8c. A West Indian term of gluttony; a hog roasted whole, stuffed with spice, and basted with Madeira wine-Pope.
O, blast it, south winds! till a stench exhale
• 'Tis yet in vain, I own, to keep a pother 45
• Avidien, or his wife, (no matter which, For him you'll call a dog, and her a bitch) 50 Sell their presented partridges and fruits, And humbly live on rabbits and on roots : One half-pint bottle serves them both to dine, And is at once their vinegar and wine : But on some lucky day, (as when they found 55 A lost bank-bill, or heard their son was drown'd) At such a feast, old vinegar to spare, Is what two souls so generous cannot bear:
42 Bedford-head. A famous eating-house."
Oil, though it stink, they drop by drop impart, But souse the cabbage with a bounteous heart. 60
• He knows to live, who keeps the middle state, And neither leans on this side nor on that; Nor stops, for one bad cork, his butler's pay; Swears, like Albutius, a good cook away; Nor lets, like Nævius, every error pass,
65 The musty wine, foul cloth, or greasy glass. Now hear what blessings temperance can
bring :' (Thus said our friend, and what he said I sing) • First, health : the stomach, cramm'd from every
dish; A tomb of boil'd and roast, and flesh and fish; 70 Where bile, and wind, and phlegm, and acid jar; And all the man is one intestine war; Remembers oft the school-boy's simple fare, The temperate sleeps, and spirits light as air.
• How pale each worshipful and reverend guest Rise from a clergy or a city feast! . 76 What life in all that ample body, say? What heavenly particle inspires the clay? The soul subsides, and wickedly inclines To seem but mortal, ev'n in sound divines. 80'
76 Rise from a clergy. Warton gives from Cranmer an old dieterie of the dignified clergy:-'An archbishop was allowed to have two swans, or two capons in a dish; a bishop, two capons; an archbishop, six blackbirds at once; a bishop, five; a dean, four; an archdeacon, two. If a dean bad four dishes in the first course, he was not afterwards to have custards or fritters,' &c. To such triflings were men's minds turned by the old formalities of the monkish church: even the Reformation was tardy in shaking them off. Sumptuary laws, whether for dress or food, have in all ages been the frivolities of legislation.