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with my wings clipped, and destitute both of house and land, daring poverty urged me on to the composition of verses: but now having more than is wanted, what medicines would be efficacious enough to cure my madness, if I did not think it better to rest, than to write verses?

The advancing years rob us of every thing; they have taken away my mirth, my gallantry, my revellings, and play; they now are proceeding to force poetry from me. What would you

have me do?

In short, all persons do not love and admire the same things. You delight in the ode; he is pleased with iambics: another with satires written in the manner of Bion, and virulent wit. Three guests scarcely can be found to agree in taste, craving very different dishes with various palate. What shall I give? What shall I not give? You forbid what another insists on: what you desire, that truly is sour and disgustful to the other two.

Besides other difficulties, do you think it practicable for me to write poems at Rome, amidst so many solicitudes, and so many fatigues? One calls me as his security, another to hear his works, all business else apart; one lives on the mount of Quirinus; the other on the extremity of the Aventine, yet both must be waited on. The distance between them, you see, are charmingly commodious.* "But the streets are clear, so that there can be no obstacle to the thoughtful."-A builder in heat hurries along with his mules and porters the machine whirls aloft at one while a

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Ironically-for these two mounts were at the northers and southern extremes of Rome.

stone, at another a great piece of timber: the dismal funerals dispute the way with the unwieldy carriages here runs a mad dog, there rushes a sow begrimed with mire. Go now, and meditate with yourself, your harmonious verses. All the whole choir of poets love the grove, and avoid cities, due votaries to Bacchus, delighting in repose and shade. Would you have me, amidst so great noise both by night and day, attempt to sing, and trace the difficult footsteps of the poets? A genius who has chosen out the quiet Athens for his residence, and has devoted seven years to study, and has grown old in books and cares, frequently walks forth more dumb than a statue, and shakes the people's sides with laughter: but here, in the midst of the billows and tempests of the city, can I be thought capable to connect words likely to wake the sound of the lyre?

At Rome there was a rhetorician, brother to a lawyer; so fond of each other were they, that they would hear nothing but the mere praises of each other; insomuch that the latter appeared a Gracchus to the former, the former a Mucius to the latter. Why should this phrensy affect the obstreperous poets in a less degree? I write odes, and other elegies; a work wonderful to behold, and burnished by the nine muses. Observe, first, with what a fastidious air, with what importance, we survey the temple of Apollo vacant for the Roman poets. In the next place you may follow (if you are at leisure) and listen what each produces, and wherefore each weaves for himself the laurel crown. Like Samnite gladiators in slow

*The Samnite gladiators used to fight with foils for the entertainment of the guests at supper-time.

duel, till candle-light, we are beaten, and waste out the enemy with equal blows. I come off Alcæus, in his suffrage; he in mine; who? Why, who but Callimachus? Or, if he seems to make a greater demand, he becomes Mimnermus, and grows in fame by the chosen appellation. Much do I endure, in order to pacify this passionate race of poets, when I am writing; and, submissive, court the applause of the people; but having finished my studies, and recovered my senses, the same man, can now boldly stop my open ears against reciters.

Those who make bad verses are laughed at: but they are pleased in writing, and reverence themselves; and, if you are silent, they fall to praising of their own accord; happy, whatever be their performance. But he who desires to execute a genuine poem, will with his papers assume the spirit of an honest critic; whatever words shall have but little clearness and elegance, or shall be without weight, and be held unworthy of estimation, he will dare to displace, though they may recede with reluctance, and still remain in the sanctuary of Vesta:* those that have been long hid from the people he kindly will haul forth, and bring to light those expressive denominations of things, that were used by the Catos and Cetheguses of ancient times, though now deformed dust and neglected age rest upon them: he will adopt new words, which use, the parent of language, shall produce: forcibly and perspicuous, and bearing the utmost similitude to a limpid

*The Penetralia Vesta were only to be entered by the high priest in allusion to which Horace humorously makes the poet's closet his sanctum sanctorum.

stream, he will pour out his treasures, and enrich Latium with a comprehensive language; the luxuriant he will lop; the too harsh he will polish with a sensible cultivation; those void of expression he will discard: he will exhibit the appearance of one at play; and will be, in his invention, on the rack, like a dancer on the stage, who one while affects the motions of a satyr, at another of a clumsy Cyclops.

I had rather be esteemed a foolish and dull writer, while my follies please myself, or at least escape my notice, than be wise, and smart for it. There lived at Argos a man of no inconsiderable rank, who imagined that he was hearing some admirable tragedians, a joyful sitter and applauder in an empty theatre; who nevertheless could support the other duties of life in a just manner; a truly honest neighbour, amiable for his hospitality, kind towards his wife, one who could pardon his slaves for a small fault, nor would rave at the breaking of a bottle-seal; one who had sense enough to avoid a precipice or an open well. This man being cured, at the expense and by the care of his relations, when he had voided by the means of pure hellebore the disorder and melancholy humour, and returned to himself: by heavens, my friends, said he, you have destroyed, not saved me, to rob me thus of my pleasure, and take from me by force such a most agreeable delusion of mind.

In a word, it is of the first consequence to be wise in the rejection of trifles, and leave childish play to boys, for whom it is in season; and not to scan words to be set to music for the Roman harps, but rather to be perfectly an adept in the

numbers and proportions of real life. Thus there fore I commune with myself, and ponder these things in silence: "If no quantity of water would put an end to your thirst, you would tell it to your physicians. And is there none to whom you dare confess, that the more you get, the more you crave? If you had a wound, which was not relieved by a plant or root prescribed to you, you would refuse being doctored with a root or plant that did no good. You had heard that vicious folly left the man, on whom the Gods conferred wealth; and though you are nothing wiser, since you were richer, will you nevertheless use the same monitors as before? but could riches in fact make you wise, if they could make you less covetous and mean-spirited, you well might blush if there lived on earth one more avaricious than yourself."*

If that be any man's property, which he has bought by the pound and penny, and there be some things to which (if you give credit to the lawyers) possession gives a claim: then the field that feeds you is your own; and Orbius's steward, when he harrows the arable land, whereof he is soon to give you the fruits, finds you are in effect the proper master. You give your money; upon which you receive grapes, pullets, eggs, a hogshead of strong wine: certainly, in this manner, you by little and little purchase that farm, for which, perhaps, the owner paid three hundred thousand sesterces, or more. What does it signify whether you live on what was paid for the other day, or a long while ago? He who purchased

*If wisdom and goodness were the consequences of great possessions, covetousness would then be a virtue.

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