The next man whom we are much obliged to, both for his doctrine and example, is the next best poet in the world to Virgil: his dear friend Horace, who, when Augustus had desired Mecaenas to persuade him to come and live domestically and at the same table with him, and to be Secretary of State of the whole world under him, or rather jointly with him (for he says, "ut nos in Epistolis scribendis adjuvet,") could not be tempted to forsake his Sabine or Tiburtine Manor, for so rich and so glorious a trouble. There was never, I think, such an example as this in the world, that he should have so much moderation and courage as to refuse an offer of such greatness, and the Emperor so much generosity and good nature as not to be at all offended with his refusal, but to retain still the same kindness, and express it often to him in most friendly and familiar letters, part of which are still extant. If I should produce all the passages of this excellent author upon the several subjects which I treat of in this book, I must be obliged to translate half his works; of which I may say more truly than, in my opinion, he did of Homer, "Qui quid sit pulchrum, quid turpe, quid utile, quid non, plenius, et melius Chrysippo, et Crantore dicit." I shall content myself upon this particular theme with three only, one out of his Odes, the other out of his Satires, the third out of his Epistles, and shall forbear to collect the suffrages of all other poets, which may be found scattered up and down through all their writings, and especially in Martial's. But I must not omit to make some excuse for the bold undertaking of my own unskilful pencil upon the beauties of a face that has been drawn before by so many great masters, especially that I should dare to do it in Latin verses (though of another kind) and have the confidence to translate them. I can only say that I love the matter, and that ought to cover, many faults; and that I run not to contend with those before me, but follow to applaud them.
VIRG. GEORG. - O fortunatus nimium, etc. A TRANSLATION OUT OF VIRGIL
Oh happy (if his happiness he knows) The country swain, on whom kind Heaven bestows At home all riches that wise Nature needs; Whom the just earth with easy plenty feeds. 'Tis true, no morning tide of clients comes, And fills the painted channels of his rooms, Adoring the rich figures, as they pass, In tapestry wrought, or cut in living brass; Nor is his wool superfluously dyed With the dear poison of Assyrian pride: Nor do Arabian perfumes vainly spoil The native use and sweetness of his oil. Instead of these, his calm and harmless life, Free from th' alarms of fear, and storms of strife, Does with substantial blessedness abound, And the soft wings of peace cover him round: Through artless grots the murmuring waters glide; Thick trees both against heat and cold provide, From whence the birds salute him; and his ground With lowing herds, and bleating sheep does sound; And all the rivers, and the forests nigh, Both food and game and exercise supply. Here a well-hardened, active youth we see, Taught the great art of cheerful poverty. Here, in this place alone, there still do shine Some streaks of love, both human and divine; From hence Astraea took her flight, and here Still her last footsteps upon earth appear. 'Tis true, the first desire which does control All the inferior wheels that move my soul, Is, that the Muse me her high priest would make; Into her holiest scenes of mystery take, And open there to my mind's purged eye Those wonders which to sense the gods deny; How in the moon such chance of shapes is found The moon, the changing world's eternal bound. What shakes the solid earth, what strong disease Dares trouble the firm centre's ancient ease; What makes the sea retreat, and what advance: Varieties too regular for chance. What drives the chariot on of winter's light, And stops the lazy waggon of the night. But if my dull and frozen blood deny To send forth spirits that raise a soul so high; In the next place, let woods and rivers be My quiet, though unglorious, destiny. In life's cool vale let my low scene be laid; Cover me, gods, with Tempe's thickest shade Happy the man, I grant, thrice happy he Who can through gross effects their causes see: Whose courage from the deeps of knowledge springs. Nor vainly fears inevitable things; But does his walk of virtue calmly go, Through all th' alarms of death and hell below. Happy! but next such conquerors, happy they, Whose humble life lies not in fortune's way. They unconcerned from their safe distant seat Behold the rods and sceptres of the great. The quarrels of the mighty, without fear, And the descent of foreign troops they hear. Nor can even Rome their steady course misguide, With all the lustre of her perishing pride. Them never yet did strife or avarice draw Into the noisy markets of the law, The camps of gowned war, nor do they live By rules or forms that many mad men give, Duty for nature's bounty they repay, And her sole laws religiously obey. Some with bold labour plough the faithless main; Some rougher storms in princes' courts sustain. Some swell up their slight sails with popular fame, Charmed with the foolish whistlings of a name. Some their vain wealth to earth again commit; With endless cares some brooding o'er it sit. Country and friends are by some wretches sold, To lie on Tyrian beds and drink in gold; No price too high for profit can be shown; Not brother's blood, nor hazards of their own. Around the world in search of it they roam; It makes e'en their Antipodes their home. Meanwhile, the prudent husbandman is found In mutual duties striving with his ground; And half the year he care of that does take That half the year grateful returns does make Each fertile month does some new gifts present, And with new work his industry content: This the young lamb, that the soft fleece doth yield, This loads with hay, and that with corn the field: All sorts of fruit crown the rich autumn's pride: And on a swelling hill's warm stony side, The powerful princely purple of the vine, Twice dyed with the redoubled sun, does shine. In th' evening to a fair ensuing day, With joy he sees his flocks and kids to play, And loaded kine about his cottage stand, Inviting with known sound the milker's hand; And when from wholesome labour he doth come, With wishes to be there, and wished for home, He meets at door the softest human blisses, His chaste wife's welcome, and dear children's kisses. When any rural holydays invite His genius forth to innocent delight, On earth's fair bed beneath some sacred shade, Amidst his equal friends carelessly laid, He sings thee, Bacchus, patron of the vine, The beechen bowl foams with a flood of wine, Not to the loss of reason or of strength. To active games and manly sport at length Their mirth ascends, and with filled veins they see, Who can the best at better trials be. Such was the life the prudent Sabine chose, From such the old Etrurian virtue rose. Such, Remus and the god his brother led, From such firm footing Rome grew the world's head. Such was the life that even till now does raise The honour of poor Saturn's golden days: Before men born of earth and buried there, Let in the sea their mortal fate to share, Before new ways of perishing were sought, Before unskilful death on anvils wrought. Before those beasts which human life sustain, By men, unless to the gods' use, were slain.
HORAT. EPODON. Beatus ille qui procul, etc.
Happy time man whom bounteous gods allow With his own hand paternal grounds to plough! Like the first golden mortals, happy he, From business and the cares of money free! No human storms break off at land his sleep, No loud alarms of nature on the deep. From all the cheats of law he lives secure, Nor does th' affronts of palaces endure. Sometimes the beauteous marriageable vine He to the lusty bridegroom elm does join; Sometimes he lops the barren trees around, And grafts new life into the fruitful wound; Sometimes he shears his flock, and sometimes he Stores up the golden treasures of the bee. He sees his lowing herds walk o'er the plain, Whilst neighbouring hills low back to them again. And when the season, rich as well as gay, All her autumnal bounty does display, How is he pleas'd th' increasing use to see Of his well trusted labours bend the tree; Of which large shares, on the glad sacred days, He gives to friends, and to the gods repays. With how much joy does he, beneath some shade By aged trees, reverend embraces made, His careless head on the fresh green recline, His head uncharged with fear or with design. By him a river constantly complains, The birds above rejoice with various strains, And in the solemn scene their orgies keep Like dreams mixed with the gravity of sleep, Sleep which does always there for entrance wait, And nought within against it shuts the gate. Nor does the roughest season of the sky, Or sullen Jove, all sports to him deny. He runs the mazes of the nimble hare, His well-mouthed dogs' glad concert rends the air, Or with game bolder, and rewarded more, He drives into a toil the foaming boar; Here flies the hawk to assault, and there the net To intercept the travelling fowl is set; And all his malice, all his craft is shown In innocent wars, on beasts and birds alone. This is the life from all misfortune free, From thee, the great one, tyrant love, from thee; And if a chaste and clean though homely wife, Be added to the blessings of this life, - Such as the ancient sun-burnt Sabines were, Such as Apulia, frugal still, does bear, - Who makes her children and the house her care And joyfully the work of life does share; Nor thinks herself too noble or too fine To pin the sheepfold or to milk the kine; Who waits at door against her husband come From rural duties, late, and wearied home, Where she receives him with a kind embrace, A cheerful fire, and a more cheerful face: And fills the bowl up to her homely lord, And with domestic plenty load the board. Not all the lustful shell-fish of the sea, Dressed by the wanton hand of luxury, Nor ortolans nor godwits nor the rest Of costly names that glorify a feast, Are at the princely tables better cheer Than lamb and kid, lettuce and olives, here.
THE COUNTRY MOUSE. A Paraphrase upon Horace, II Book, Satire vi.
At the large foot of a fair hollow tree, Close to ploughed ground, seated commodiously, His ancient and hereditary house, There dwelt a good substantial country mouse: Frugal, and grave, and careful of the main, Yet one who once did nobly entertain A city mouse, well coated, sleek, and gay, A mouse of high degree, which lost his way, Wantonly walking forth to take the air, And arrived early, and alighted there, For a day's lodging. The good hearty host (The ancient plenty of his hall to boast) Did all the stores produce that might excite, With various tastes, the courtier's appetite. Fitches and beans, peason, and oats, and wheat, And a large chestnut, the delicious meat Which Jove himself, were he a mouse, would eat. And for a haut goust there was mixed with these The swerd of bacon, and the coat of cheese, The precious relics, which at harvest he Had gathered from the reapers' luxury. "Freely," said he, "fall on, and never spare, The bounteous gods will for to-morrow care." And thus at ease on beds of straw they lay, And to their genius sacrificed the day. Yet the nice guest's epicurean mind (Though breeding made him civil seem, and kind) Despised this country feast, and still his thought Upon the cakes and pies of London wrought. "Your bounty and civility," said he, "Which I'm surprised in these rude parts to see, Show that the gods have given you a mind Too noble for the fate which here you find. Why should a soul, so virtuous and so great, Lose itself thus in an obscure retreat? Let savage beasts lodge in a country den, You should see towns, and manners know, and men; And taste the generous luxury of the court, Where all the mice of quality resort; Where thousand beauteous shes about you move, And by high fare are pliant made to love. We all ere long must render up our breath, No cave or hole can shelter us from death. Since life is so uncertain and so short, Let's spend it all in feasting and in sport. Come, worthy sir, come with me, and partake All the great things that mortals happy make." Alas, what virtue hath sufficient arms To oppose bright honour and soft pleasure's charms? What wisdom can their magic force repel? It draws the reverend hermit from his cell. It was the time, when witty poets tell, That Phoebus into Thetis' bosom fell: She blushed at first, and then put out the light, And drew the modest curtains of the night. Plainly the truth to tell, the sun was set, When to the town our wearied travellers get. To a lord's house, as lordly as can be, Made for the use of pride and luxury, They some; the gentle courtier at the door Stops, and will hardly enter in before; - But 'tis, sir, your command, and being so, I'm sworn t' obedience--and so in they go. Behind a hanging in a spacious room (The richest work of Mortlake's noble loom) They wait awhile their wearied limbs to rest, Till silence should invite them to their feast, About the hour that Cynthia's silver light Had touched the pale meridies of the night, At last, the various supper being done, It happened that the company was gone Into a room remote, servants and all, To please their noble fancies with a ball. Our host leads forth his stranger, and does find All fitted to the bounties of his mind. Still on the table half-filled dishes stood, And with delicious bits the floor was strewed; The courteous mouse presents him with the best, And both with fat varieties are blest. The industrious peasant everywhere does range, And thanks the gods for his life's happy change. Lo, in the midst of a well-freighted pie They both at last glutted and wanton lie, When see the sad reverse of prosperous fate, And what fierce storms on mortal glories wait! With hideous noise, down the rude servants come, Six dogs before run barking into th' room; The wretched gluttons fly with wild affright, And hate the fulness which retards their flight. Our trembling peasant wishes now in vain. That rocks and mountains covered him again. Oh, how the change of his poor life, he cursed! "This, of all lives," said he, "is sure the worst. Give me again, ye gods, my cave and wood; With peace, let tares and acorns be my food."
A Paraphrase upon the Eightieth Epistle of the First Book of Horace. HORACE TO FUSCUS ARISTIUS.