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Nine years if his verses must lie in the leaven, Take the young rogue himself, and transport him for seven.
To make this a maxim, that Horace infuses,
Must provoke all the laughter of all the nine
How the wits of old Rome, in a case so facetious,
Would have jok'd upon Horace, and Piso, and
If they all could not make a poetical line
Ripe enough to be read, 'till the year had struck
Had the boy been possest of nine lives, like a cat,
Yet surely he'd ne'er have submitted to that.
"Do you think,' they cry out, that with so little wit
Such a world of great critics on Horace have writ?
That the poets themselves, were the blunder so
In a point of their art too, would let it remain?'
For you are to consider, these critical chaps
Do not like to be snubb'd; you may venture,
An amendment, where they can see somewhat
But may raise their ill blood, if you circulate this."
"It will circulate, this, sir, as sure as their
Or, if not, it will stand-as in Horace it stood.
They may wrangle and jangle, unwilling to see;
"Vah!" says an old critic, "indefinite number-But the thing is as clear as a whistle to me.
To denote many years" (which is just the same
Quotes a length of Quintilian for "time to re-
But wisely stops short at his blaming too much.
Some took many years, he can instance-in fine,
Isocrates ten-poet Cinna just nine;
Rare instance of taking, which, had he been cool,
Th' old critic had seen, never could be a rule.
"Indeed," says a young one, "nine years,
Is a desperate while for a youth to suppress;
I can hardly think Horace would make it a point;
The word, to be sure, must be out of its joint;
Lie by with a nonum!-had I been his Pisa, [so.
I'd have told little Flaccy, mine never should lie
Had he said for nine months, I should think them
This reading is false, sir-pray tell us the true."
This nonum of theirs no defence will admit,
Except that a blot is no blot, till it's hit;
And now you have hit it, if nonum content 'um,
So would, if the verse had so had it, nongentum."
You'll say this is painting of characters-true;
But, really, good sirs, I have met with these two:
The first, in all comments quite down to the
IA man, if he likes it, may look at himself in:
The last, if you like, and, along with the youth,
Prefer to nonumque poetical truth,
Then blot out the blunder, now here it is hinted,
And by all future printers unumque be printed.
Of affronting Quintilian, e'en make it a year:
Give the critics their numque, but as to their no-
You have one in plain English more fit to be-
"I take the correction-unumque prematur-
Let it lie for one twelvemonth-ay, that may hold
And time enough too for consulting about [water;
Master Piso's performance, before it came out.
What! would Horace insist, that a sketch of a boy
Should take as much time, as the taking of Troy?
They, that bind out the young one, say, when the
Took any time like it, to make a thing mellow;
"Tho' correct in his trifles"---" Young man you
And to them that will see, it is plain, at first sight;
But critics that will not, they hunt all around
For something of sameness, in sense, or in sound;
It is all one to them; so. attach'd to the letter,
That to make better sense makes it never the
Nay, the more sense in readings, the less they will
You must leave to these sages their mumpsimus
Nunc et CAMPUS et AREÆ
Lenesque sub noctem susurri
Composita repetantur horâ.
HOR. lib. i. ode ix. v. 18.
By Campus, and by Areæ, my friends,
For such expression with the current style
The question is what Horace here intends?
Nay, notwithstanding critical pretence,
Or I mistake, or it can have no sense.
Of this whole ode is hard to reconcile:
The oče, you find, proceeding to relate
A winter's frost, in its severest state,
Calls out for fire, and wine, and loves, and dance,
And all that Horace rambles to enhance;
But how can this fair weather phrase belong
To such a wintry, Saturnalian song?
A learned Frenchman quotes these very lines
As really difficult; and thus refines-
"We use these words" (says monsieur Sanadon)
For nightly meetings, hors de la maison;
But 't is ridiculous in frost, and snow,
Of keenest kind, that Horace should do so."
Right, monsieur, right; such incoherent stuff
Is here, no doubt, ridiculous enough:
The Campus Martius, and its active scenes,
Which commentators say th' expression means,
Have here no place; nor can they be akin
To scenes, not laid without doors, but within.
"Nunc must refer" (proceeds the French re"To donec-puer-age of Taliarque; Not to the frost; for which the bard, before, Design'd the two first strophes, and no more; As commentators rightly should have taught, Quint. Instit. Orat. lib. x. c. 4. de Emendatione. Or inattentive readers else are caught."
Now inattentive critics too, I say, Are caught, sometimes, in their dogmatic way: United here, we must divide, forsooth, The time of winter from the time of youth; When all expressions of Horatian growth Do, in this ode, 't is plain, refer to both.
Youthful th' amusements, and for frosty week; From drinking-dancing-down to hide and seek: But Campus comes, and Areæ, between, By a mistake too big for any skreen: And how nonsensically join'd with lispers, By assignation met, of nightly whispers?
Strange, how interpreters retail the farce, That Campus, here, should mean the Field of Mars;
When, in their task, they must have just read
Contrast to this, the very Ode before;
Where ev'ry manly exercise, disclos'd,
To love's effeminacy stands oppos'd.
In this, no thought of any field on Earth,
But warm fire-side, and Roman winter's mirth:
No thought of any but domestic ring;
Where all Decembrian customs took their swing:
And where-but come-that, matter we'll sup-
There should be something for Cantabs to guess.
I'll ask anon-from what has now been said, If emendation pops into your head: Or if you 'll teach me how to comprehend That all is right; and nothing here to mend. Come, sharpen up your Latin wits a bit; What are they good for else-these Odes that Horace writ?
Meaning and metre both arrange,
And small, if possible, the change?"
Smaller and better, to be sure,
Into their place amendments fall: What first occurs will here secure Meaning and metre, change and all. May it not be that for divitiis Th' original had æ--dificiis?
If you object that sep'rate æ
Makes in one word an odd division, Horace, I answer to that plea,
Has more than once the like elision: In short, upon correction's plan, Give us a better, if ye can.
Non est meum, si mugiat Africis
Malus procellis, ad miseras preces
Decurrere, et votis pacisci,
Ne Cypriæ Tyriæque merces
Addant avaro divitias mari;
TUM me biremis præsidio scaphæ
Tutum per Ægæos tumultus
Aura FERET geminusq. Pollux.
HOR. lib. iii. ode ix. v. 57.
THIS passage, sirs, may put ye, one would think,
In mind of him, who, in a furious storm Told, that the vessel certainly would sink, Made a reply in the Horatian form; "Why let it sink then, if it will," quoth he, "I'm but a passenger, what is 't to me."
N.B. The emendation of which the author ap- So, "non est meum," Horace here cries out, proved was cantus et aleæ.
Cedes coemptis saltibus, et domo,
Villâque, flavus quam Tiberis lavit,
Cedes; et EXTRUCTIS IN ALTUM
DIVITIS potietur hæres.
HOR. lib. ii. ode iii. v. 17.
THIS phrase of "riches built on high"
Has something in it, at first sight,
Which, if the Latin language try,
Must needs appear not to be right:
Produce an instance, where before
'T was ever us'd, I'll say no more.
Talk not of "riches pil'd on heaps,"
To justify the Latin phrase;
For if you take such critic leaps,
You jump into dog Latin days;
And I shall answer to that trick
In meâ mente non est sic.
That lands were here the poet's thought,
And house along the river's side,
And lofty villa built, or bought,
Is much too plain to be deny'd.
These high extructed spires he writ
That mortal Dellius must quit.
"Well, sir, supposing this the case,
And structures what the poet meant;
How will you fill the faulty place
With phrase that suited his intent?
To purchase calm with wretched vows and
'Nay but you see the reason," 't is reply'd, "Why he rejects the bargaining of pray'r; His little skiff will stem the raging tide
With double Pollux, and with gentler air.
This is his moral," say his under-pullers,
"The poor and innocent are safe in scullers."
Why so they may be, if they coast along,
And shun the winds that make a mast to moan;
But here, according to the critic throng,
Horace was in the ship, tho' not his own.
Suppose a sculler just contriv'd for him,
When the ship sunk, would his biremis swim?
Can you by any construing pretence-
If you suppose, as commentators do,
Him in the ship-make tolerable sense
Of his surviving all the sinking crew?
With winds so boist'rous, by what cunning twist
Can his clear stars, and gentle air resist?
The gifts of Fortune Horace had resign'd,
And poor and honest, his just fancy'd case,
Nothing to do had he with stormy wind,
Nor in Egean seas to seek a place.
How is it likely then, that he should mean
To paint himself in such an awkward scene?
"Why, but, tum me biremis-must suppose, By then escaping, that he sure was in 't; And feret too, that comes into the close,
In all the books that we have here in print-"
Both words are wrong tho', notwithstanding that,
Tum should be eum, and feret be ferat.
The sense, or moral if you please, is this,
Henceforth be probity, tho' poor, my lot;
The love of riches is but an abyss
Of dangerous cares, that now concern me not.
Caught in its storms, let avarice implore,
I thank my stars, I'm rowing safe to shore.
HOR. Lib. iii. Ode xviii.
WHENE'ER this Horace comes into one's hand,
One meets with words full hard to understand:
If one consult the critics thereupon,
Some places have a note, some others none;
And, when they take interpretating pains,
Sometimes the difficulty still remains.
He in revenge (say comments) beats the soil,
Hated, because it gave him so much toil.
As oft the diggers, whom we chance to meet,
Turn up the ground, and press it with their feet;
Horace himself, perhaps we may admit,
Inversam terram, not invisam writ;
But this at present our demand postpones→→→
Pray solve the doubt on these Decembrian nones.
Ut tuto ab atris corpore viperis
Dormirem et URSIS.
HORACE, an infant, here he interweaves,
In rambling ode, where no design coheres,
By fabled stock-doves cover'd up with leaves,
Kept safe from black skinn'd vipers, and from bears:
But, passing by the incoherent ode,
I ask the critics where the bears abode?
The leaves indeed, that stock-doves could convey,.
Would be but poor defence against the snakes,
To you that see, good friends, where I am blind, And sleeping boy be still an easy prey
Let me propose a case of either kind:
Premising first, for both relate to weather,
That Winter and December come together:
The Romans too, as far as I remember,
Have join'd together Winter and December.
To black pervaders of the thorny brakes;
The bears, I doubt too, would have smelt him out,
If there had been such creatures thereabout.
In Book the Third of Horace, Ode Eighteen,
Ad Faunum-these two Sapphics here are scen:
"Ludit herboso pecus omne campo, Cum tibi nonæ redeunt Decembris: Festus in pratis vacat otioso
"Inter audaces lupus errat agnos;
Spargit agrestes tibi silva frondes;
Gaudet invisam pepulisse fossor
Ter pede terram.”
Now in December, if we reason close,
Are fields poetically call'd herbose?
Is that the month, tho' Faunus kept the fold,
For daring lambs to frisk about so bold?
Leaves I would add too-but the learn'd Dacier
Has made this point elaborately clear;
As one that artful Horace interweaves-
"The trees in Italy then shed their leaves;
And this the poet's artifice profound,
The trees themselves for Faunus strew'd the
It is we'll say, a fine Horatian flight,
But is the herbage, are the lambs so right?
Is there in all the ode a single thing,
That makes the Winter differ from the Spring?
Nones of December are indeed hybernal,
But all the rest is absolutely vernal.
"Lenis incedis per aprica rura❞—
Does this begin like Winter?-but quid plura?
Read how it all begins, goes on, or ends,
Nothing but nones is winterly, my friends;
Neither in human, nor in brutal creatures,
One trace observ'd of Winter's stormy features.
May not there be then, tho' the critics make
No hesitation at it, a mistake?
The diggers dancing too has somewhat spissy"Gaudet invisam terram pepulisse."
The snakes were black, the bears, I guess, were
(Or what the vulgar commonly call bulls)
Bears had there been; another word is right,
That has escap'd the criticising skulls,
Who suffer bears as quietly to pass,
As if the bard had been of Lapland class.
A word, where sense and sound do so agree,
That I shall spare to speak in its defence;
And leave absurdity so plain to see,
With due correction, to your own good sense:
'Tis this in short, in these Horatian verses,
For bears read goats-pro ursis, lege hircis.
Romæ, principis urbium
Dignatur soboles inter AMABILES
Vatum ponere me choros.
HOR. lib. iv. ode iii.
THIS is one ode, and much the best of two,
Fam'd above all for Scaliger's ado:
"I rather would have writ so good a thing
Than reign," quoth he, "an Arragonian king."
Had he been king, and master of the vote,
I doubt the monarch would have chang'd his note;
And loading verses with an huge renown,
Would still have kept his Arragonian crown.
This ode, howe'er, tho' short of such a rout,
He show'd some judgment, when he singled out;
Compar'd with others, one is at a stand [hand:
To think how those should come from the same
For if they did, 't is marvellous enough,
That such a Muse with such a breath should puff;
That such a delicate harmonious Muse
Should catch the clouds, or sink into the stews.
But Fame has sold them to us in a lot,
And all is Horace, whether his, or not.
For his, or whose you will then, let them pass,
What signifies it who the author was?
Dunghill of Ennius, as we are told
By ancient proverb, might afford some gold;
And that's the case of what this Horace sung,
Some grains of gold with tinsel mix'd, and dung.
We'll say this ode, allowing for the age
That Horace writ in, was a golden page;
The words well chosen, easy, free, and pat,
The lyric claim so manag'd-and all that-
What I would note is, that no critic yet,
Of them, I mean, whose notes my eyes have met,
Has seen a blemish in this finish'd piece,
Outdone, they say, by neither Rome nor Greece.
Yet there is one, which it is somewhat strange,
That none of 'em should see a cause to change,
But let a great indelicacy stand,
As if it came from Horace's own hand:
To vatum choros join'd amabiles,
When, what he meant was lovely soboles,
Meo periculo, sirs, alter this,
If taste be in you, read amabilis.
If ye refuse, I have no more to say,
Keep to flat print, and read it your own way;
Let fear to change a vowel's rote dispense
With jingling sound, and unpoliter sense.
I don't expect that critics, with their skill,
Will take the hint-but all true pocts will.
Be it a test, at present, who has got
The nicer taste of liquid verse, who not.
Libros Panæti, Socraticam et domum
MUTARE loricis Iberis,
Pollicitus meliora, TENDIS.
HOR. lib. i. ode xxix.
NON esse dices, credo, poeticum
Hoc tendis; et quò tenderet Iccius ?
Mutare libros?-at vicissim
Non alios habuisse fertur.
Mutare, rursus, Socraticam domum-
Hæc velle sectam linquere te docent:
At secta loricas Iberas
Dum vox coemptos, intuitu mero,
Nulla novo dederat clienti.
Et quæ sequuntur verba, prioribus
Collata, suadent hic legendum
Pollicitus meliora, vendis.
Libros coemptos vendidit Iccius,
Miles futurus, virque scientiæ,
Quam nolit hic libris tueri,
Fiaccus ait, joculans, sed armis,
Tam discrepantis militiæ ducem
Ironiarum plena redarguit
Ode; sed extremum videtur
Multa manus vitiâsse carmen.
Sic ipsa Flacci pinxerat, autumo,
Incertum amicum-2uis neget arduis
Pronos relabi posse rivos
Montibus, et Tyberim reverti;
Cum tu coemptos undique nobilis
Libros Panææti, Socraticam ut domum
Tutere loricis Iberis,
Pollicitus meliora, vendis.
HOR. Lib. ii. Ode xiv.
"EHEU! fugaces, Posthume, Posthume,
Labuntur anni; nec pietas moram
Rugis, et instanti senectæ
Afferet, indomitæque morti.
"Non si trecenis, quotquot eunt dies,
Amice, places illachrymabilem
Plutona tauris"-Hem! trecenis?
Nolumus hanc posuisse vocem,
Foxleie, Flaccum;-quotquot eunt dies,
Tauris trecentis illachrymabilem
Placare divum! immanis, ipso
Intuitu, numerus patescit,
Quovis trecenos lumine, Posthumum
Mactare tauros, si benè finxerit
Vates, quot exactos, memento,
Myriadas feriat per annos.
Hæc inter artes norma poeticas,
"Famam sequi, vel convenientiam"-
Præscripta Flacco, quam trecenis
Immodicè violata tauris!
Vult quando centum pocula sospitis,
Codex, amici-tum sibi sapphicum
Quid carmen exposcat volutans,
Te, statuo, repetente-cantum.
Idem in trecenis hæreo, suspicor;
Et, non jocantem, simplicius velim
Dixisse vatem, (namque dici
Simplicius potuit) quod urguet.
Quod, nempè, mors et regibus imminet
Equè ac colonis; mors-neque Posthumo
Vitanda tercentum immolando
Lux quoties nitet orta, tauros.
Ni fallor, omnis victima Posthumi
Duntaxat unum quoque die bovem
Mactata Plutoni poposcit,
Dum valuit manus ipsa Flacci :
2ni scripsit, aut qui scribere debuit,
(Tu sicut inquis, carmine nupero;
Quod musa, pugnax, dum refellit,
Hoc penitus tibi subdit ausum)
"Non si .... quotquot eunt dies,
Amice, places illachrymabilem
Plutona tauris"-quos opinor
Sic melius numerâsse carmen.
Si sana vox sit, ne moveas loco-
Si non sit amplis ingenio viris
Immiste, die quanam sodales
(Me tacito) repleant hiatum ?
-Thure placaris et hornâ Fruge lares avidâque porcâ.
HOR. lib. iii. ode xxiii.
QUÆ mens sit hujus carminis, obsecro,
Spectes-monenda est rustica Phidyle,
Vel thure, vel fructu, vel herbâ
Ruricolas placuisse divis.
Si pura mens sit, si manus innocens,
Placare possint absque cruoribus;
Primumque et extremum poetæ
Quis negat hoc voluisse versum?
Vix ergo porcam velle putaveris,
Urbane, Flaccum frugibus additam;
Nam thura, nam fruges, et omnem
Sordida sus vitiavit herbam.
Quid parva laudat numina, munera,
Si porta tandem victima poscitur?
Quid prosit immunis manusve,
Farve pium, saliensque mica?
Aut omnis ut res hæreat, indica,
Aut vile mendum corrige protinus;
Non multa mutabis legendo,
-Fruge lares, avidasque parcas.
THE FOREGOING CRITICISM, IN ENGLISH VERSE.
THE whole design of this Horatian strain
Is so exceeding obvious and plain,
That one would wonder how correcting eyes
Could overlook a blot of such a size,
As avidaque porca; when the line,
So read, quite ruins Horace's design.
He, as the verse begins, and as it ends,
This point to rustic Phydile commends,
That innocence to gifts the gods prefer,
And frugal off'rings would suffice from her;
That want of victims was in her no fault;
She might present fruit, incense, cake, and sait.
With what connexion could he add to these A greedy swine? in order to appease Those very deities, whom Ode is meant To paint with cheap and bloodless gifts content, From pious hands receiv'd, tho' e'er so smallBut avidique porcâ spoils it all.
What moral meant, if they requir'd, in fine, From rustic Phydile, a great fat swine? Why little gods, and little matters nam'd, If such a sacrifice as this was claim'd? Porca is wrong, sirs, whether we regard The gods, the countrywoman, or the bard.
What must be done in such a case as this? One must amend, tho' one should do 't amiss. I'll tell you the correction, frank and free, That upon reading first occur'd to me; And seem'd to suit the bard's intention better, With small mutation of the printed letter.
Tho' avidaque porca runs along
With verb, and case, and measure of the song,
Yet, if the poet is to be renown'd
For something more than mere Italian sound,
For life and sense, as well as shell and carcass,
Read-Fruge lares, avidasque parcas.
HAVE ye no scruple, sirs, when ye rehearse
This hissing kind of an Horatian verse?
To me, I own, at sight of triple-is,
Suspicion said that something was amiss;
And, when one reads the triple Sapphic thro',
'Tis plain that what suspicion said was true.
Critics, as custom goes, if one shall bring
The plainest reason, for the plainest thing,
Will stick to Horace, as he sticks to print,
And say, sometimes, that there is nothing in 't.
Or, here, mistake perhaps, may be my lot;
Now tell ine, neighbours, if 't is so, or not.
This ode, or (since apparently mishap Has lost the true beginning of it) scrap, Informs Mæcenas that poor Sabine wine Shall be his drink, in Horace's design; Wine which the poet had incask'd, the day That people shouted for the knight away.
This is the first thing that it says-the next,
Without one word of intervening text,
Says, he shall drink (and in poetic shape
Wine is describ'd) the very richest grape;
My cups Falernian vintage, Formian hill
(Is all that follows after) never fill.
These, and these only, in the printed code,
Are the two periods of this pigmy ode:
And how they stand, in contradiction flat,
Whoe'er can construe Latin must see that.
The critics saw it, but forsook their sight,
And set their wits at work, to make it right.
How they have done it—such as have a mind
To know their fetches, if they look, may find;
And smile thereat; one ounce, that but coheres,
Of mother wit, is worth a pound of theirs;
Who having, b; their dint of learning, seen
That Moon is chcese, soon prove it to be green.