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speedy our for

It's wearisome at times; good counsel is like physic,
Apt as a purge, preventive, or curative,
But too much used it breeds strange humours in us,
Which often end in that disease of soul,
That it was meant to cure. Virtuous saws

Work the wrong way with me; but come, the letter! Florus.

Well, you shall have it, since it inust be so. (Reads.)

Florus, the Muse desires to know,
Upon what wars her favourites go;
Whether icy Thrace and Hebrus hold you,
Or Asia's fertile plains enfold you,
Or if you camp by that swift tide,
The hero stemmed to kiss his bride.
What labours do you undertake;
Some lovely poem do you make,
Or study deep our Roman laws
To eloquently plead some cause?
Whate'er your genius work upon,
It will bear off the ivy crown,
If you, where heavenly wisdom leads,
Follow her guidance with true deeds,
And leave the chilling draughts of care,
To men the sweet gods hold less dear.
Our conscience and our country claim
Our souls for toil of worthiest fame,
And say we cannot guiltless die, sir,
And leave the world no whit the wiser,
Alas ! for me, I'm still at Rome,
But longing for my rustic home,
To smell the hawthorn-scented gale,
And chase the blackbird down the vale,
Or by Bandusia's laughing tide,
Play with the bees all amber-thighed.

I stay in Rome for friendship's sake,
To ease sore disappointment's ache,
And do a true friend's anxious part,
To bring back joy to wounded heart.
Aristius Fuscus, late in life,
Wooed a fair widow for a wife,
Of that stout rustic breed whence Rome
Learned her true love of farm and home;
But Fuscus found to his sad cost,
Hearts are less easily won than lost;
The widow flirted with our friend,
And played him off to gain her end,
Wedded a fat fool, rich and old,
And left poor Fuscus in the cold.
So thou, my youthful friend, beware,
Good wives are not found everywhere,
Women have fooled, with practice sly,
Far wiser men than you or I;
Yet marry ere thou growest old,
For age is always over-bold, ,
And he who fails to wed in youth,

May look long ere he meet with truth.

I would I were on such familiar terms
With the good poet, as to have such wit
Sent to me quarterly. Now, Munatius,
What has your friend Aristius found to say ;
Has he a mind to drown himself, turn Stoic,
Or take some other rash and crazy step,

As men oft do for love?
Munatius (pulling out a letter).

He shall speak for himself; it's in prose, though. I suspect the

poor fellow was too sad to care to hear it jingle. (Reads.)

My Munatius, I wish thee heaith, and a contented mind, and the speedy fulfilment of every honest wish. I am in little humour for writing, having been crossed in love at an age when most folk leave such matters to their grandchildren. So late a flowering must needs meet with frost. If it be true that a man does not attain his full sense until he is married and has children of his own, he should not be too long about it, lest in making too much haste to put on the top-stone to the structure of his wit, before age prevent him, he may bring down the edifice in ruin. Had I been but as young as thou, my friend, my fortune would have told another tale. But wisdom has always lagged behind me, with age and after-wit, and now she's so sour a companion I've small comfort in her. For the rest, the sunlight is fair and sweet, and wine is mellow, and friends are sound as of old, and I shall yet make a shift to find out where the green places are, on the shady side of life. To thy co-mate, Florus, I give my love, and in the company of the best of poets and of friends, I send this, greeting thee in the name of all the gods.

Thy friend,

ARISTIUS FUSCUS. (Enter musicians at the back of the stage.) l'iberius.

By Jove, but they are merry fellows both; 'twould be a pity to spoil them with marriage. Let them lead an Attic life of it; why should they hanker after the dull virtues of old Rome! Play up, musicians ! Were they here to-night, they should see what a dance we'll lead Care ; he shall not have a leg left to stand upon.

(Music begins, and scene closes.)


SCENE I.The lawn in front of Marcella's house. Enter a marriage procession of matrons, youths and virgins

with torches and music. Youths.

Now the comely bride is dressed,
And laughs glad Vesper in the west;

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