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On yonder verdant hillock laid,
Where oaks and elms, a friendly shade,
O'erlook the falling stream,
O master of the Latin lyre,
From summer's noontide beam.
GAY and convivial as is the character of a large portion of the poetry of Horace, there is frequently intermingled with it, even in its lightest mood, something which tends to check the triumph of the mere sensualist, something which brings vividly before him the uncertain tenure of human life, and the consequent futility of all his enjoyments. It is to this feature in the
compositions of the Roman bard, a feature not yet sufficiently noticed, and which may be said, even whilst the shouts of revelry and mirth are loudest in our ears, to point as it were to death dimly hovering in the back ground, that we are indebted for some of his most pleasing and instructive passages, - passages which reach the heart, and breathe over the mind a spirit of sweet and philosophic melancholy.
It is true that, conforming in some measure to the practice of his contemporaries, who were sometimes wont, on occasions of high festivity, to place a skeleton on the table, as an incentive to hard drinking, he has now and then introduced imagery of this mournful kind with the view of recommending the enjoyment of the present hour, yet has he ever done it in terms which clearly indicate that he was no disciple of Epicurus in the gross sense in which the tenets of that philosopher have been generally, but incorrectly, understood. For, when he tells us, in the ninth ode of his first book,
Quid sit futurum cràs fuge quærere; et
Appone: nec dulces amores
Sperne puer, neque tu choreas: -
Seek not to know the bliss or pain
and, in the close of the eleventh, recommending similar forbearance, when he adds,
Sapias, vina liques, et spatio brevi
Spem longam reseces : dum loquimur, fugerit invida Atas carpe diem, quàm minimùm credula pos
Pour the rich wine, in gay enjoyment wise,
Contract the hopes of life's contracted date: Even whilst we speak the winged moment flies; Snatch present bliss, and leave the rest to fate. BOSCAWEN.
he does but inculcate what may be taught without any impeachment either of reason or virtue;
that, dismissing all unavailing anxiety for the future, we should enjoy the present hour cheerfully, socially, and TEMPERATELY; doctrine which, whilst it was evidently never designed by the poet to be interpreted according to the grovelling import of those who call out "to eat and drink, for to-morrow we die," comes recommended to us from the highest of all authorities, by which we are told "to cast all our care upon God," "to take no anxious thought for the morrow," and that "sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
A great part, however, of the sentiment and imagery to which we allude, has been introduced by Horace, not merely as incitements to pleasure, from a consideration of the shortness and uncertainty of human life, but as correctives also of that imbecility and dissipation of mind which are but too apt to spring from a long and uninterrupted possession of wealth and luxurious indulgence. It is thus that in his address to his friend Dellius, who appears to have been dissolute in his habits, and deficient at the same time in fortitude and steadiness of purpose, he places before him, as a motive to energy and