« ZurückWeiter »
THE SECOND SATIRE
SECOND BOOK OF HORACE.
This Imitation will be valuable to a certain class of readers, because it is written without effort or ostentation ; and, in a familiar, yet lively manner, brings us acquainted with the author's domestic establishment and way of life. After a philosophic lesson, which the Poet puts into the mouth of his friend Mr. Bethel, as Horace did into that of Ofellus, Pope assumes the discourse at y. 129, and continues it through the remainder of the piece. He here introduces us in the most easy and unaffected manner to his own simple yet hospitable style of living, the result of those philosophic maxims which teach him not to refuse the blessings which Providence has left him, because he cannot accumulate riches ; for the want of which he consoles himself by reflecting on the rapidity with which they frequently pass from one to another, or become the prize of the most worthless or the most ignorant of mankind.
To say, as his critics Warton and Bowles have done, that “this imitation is not equal to others, and the least successful of any he has attempted, &c.” is to compare it with pieces, the merits of which are of a different kind, but not on that account necessarily greater. There is no kind of composition more pleasing than that which introduces us to the personal acquaintance of the Poet, and enables us to participate not only in his domestic concerns, but in his very thoughts, so as almost to place him in the list of our friends. The difficulty of attaining this, does not consist in style and manner only. Before a person can accomplish it, he must have formed for bimself a temper and disposition which will bear to be represented, and this seems to be the true reason why, amongst the innumerable attempts that have been made in this style, so few of them have been attended with success.
Quæ virtus et quanta, boni, sit vivere parvo,
Defendens pisces hiemat mare: cum sale panis
Ver. 2. To live on little] This discourse in praise of temperance loses much of its grace and propriety by being put into the mouth of a person of a much higher rank in life than the honest countryman Ofellus ; whose patrimony had been seized by Augustus, and given to one of his soldiers named Umbrenus, and whom, perhaps, Horace recommended to the Emperor, by making him the chief speaker in this very Satire. We may imagine that a discourse on temperance from Horace raised a laugh among the courtiers of Augustus ; and we see he could not venture to deliver it in his own person.
This Imitation of Pope is not equal to most of his others.—Warton.
TO MR. BETHEL.
* What, and how great, the virtue and the art To live on little with a cheerful heart,
(A doctrine sage, but truly none of mine ;) Let's talk, my friends, but talk before we dine. 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;
Ver. 9. BETHEL] The same to whom several of Mr. Pope's Letters are addressed.--Warburton.
Ver. 11. Go work, hunt,] These six following lines are much inferior to the original, in which the mention of many particular exercises gives it a pleasing variety. The sixth and seventh lines in Horace are nervous and strong. The third in Pope is languid and wordy, which renders foris est promus. Defendens, and latrantem, and caro, and pinguem, and album, are all of them very expressive epithets : and the allusion to Socrates's constant exercise, tu pulmentaria, &c. ought not to have been omitted. Pope's two last lines in this passage are very exceptionable. We are informed by Mr. Stuart, in his Athens, that the honey of Hymettus, even to this time, continues to be in vogue ; and that the seraglio of the Grand Seignor is served with a stated quantity of it yearly.—Warton. Ver. 18. before a hen ;] He might have inserted the original word
Hoc potiùs quàm galliná tergere palatum,
istâ, Quam laudas, plumâ ? coctove num adest honor
" Porrectum magno magnum spectare catino Vellem, ait Harpyiis gula digna rapacibus. At vos, Præsentes Austri, coquite horum opsonia: quam
quam Putet aper rhombusque recens, mala copia quando Ægrum solicitat stomachum ; cùm rapula plenus Atque acidas mavult inulas. Necdum omnis ab
acta Pauperies epulis regum: nam vilibus ovis Nigrisque est oleis hodie locus. Haud ita pridem Gallonî præconis erat acipensere mensa Infamis. Quid ? tum rhombos minus æquora alebant?
peacocks, as many of our English epicures are fond of them. Q. Hortensius had the honour of being the first Roman that introduced this bird to the table as a great dainty, in a magnificent feast which he made on his being created Augur. The price of a peacock, says Arbuthnot, page 129, was ifty denarii, that is, 11. 12. 3d. A flock of a hundred was sold at a much dearer rate, for 3221. 18s, 4d. of our money. M. Aufidius Lurco,
Yet hens of Guinea full as good I hold,
Oldfield, with more than harpy throat endued,
Cheap eggs, and herbs, and olives still we see;
according to Varro, used to make every year of his peacocks 4841. 78. 6d, -Warton.
Ver. 21. Of carps and mullets] Very inferior to the original ; and principally so, because that pleasant stroke is omitted of the eaters knowing in what part of the river the lupus was taken, and whether or no betwixt the two bridges, which was deemed an essential circumstance. The reader will be well entertained on this subject if he will look into the seventeenth chapter of the third book of Macrobius, particularly into a curious speech of C. Tertius there recited. But Horace seems to have had in his eye a passage of Lucilius, quoted by Macrobius : “Sed et Lucilius, acer et violentus poeta, ostendit scire se hunc piscem egregii saporis, qui inter duos pontes captus esset.”—Warton.
Ver. 25. Oldfield,] This eminent glutton ran through a fortune of fifteen hundred pounds a year in the simple luxury of good eating:Warburton.
Ver. 26. hog barbecued, &c.] A West Indian term of gluttony; a hog roasted whole, stuffed with spice, and basted with Madeira wine.-Pope,
He has happily introduced this large unwieldy instance of gluttony, supposed to be peculiar to the West Indies. Buť Athenæus speaks of a cook that could dress a whole hog with various puddings in his belly. Gulla is here used personally, as it is also by Juvenal, Sat. xiv. ver. 10.Warton.
Ver. 28. rabbit's tail.] A very filthy and offensive image for the more happy and decent word coquite : so fond, it must be owned, was our authur, as well as Swift, of such disgusting ideas. Warton.