HORAT. EPODON. Beatus ille qui procul, etc.
Happy time man whom bounteous gods allow With his own hand paternal grounds to plough! Like the first golden mortals, happy he, From business and the cares of money free! No human storms break off at land his sleep, No loud alarms of nature on the deep. From all the cheats of law he lives secure, Nor does th' affronts of palaces endure. Sometimes the beauteous marriageable vine He to the lusty bridegroom elm does join; Sometimes he lops the barren trees around, And grafts new life into the fruitful wound; Sometimes he shears his flock, and sometimes he Stores up the golden treasures of the bee. He sees his lowing herds walk o'er the plain, Whilst neighbouring hills low back to them again. And when the season, rich as well as gay, All her autumnal bounty does display, How is he pleas'd th' increasing use to see Of his well trusted labours bend the tree; Of which large shares, on the glad sacred days, He gives to friends, and to the gods repays. With how much joy does he, beneath some shade By aged trees, reverend embraces made, His careless head on the fresh green recline, His head uncharged with fear or with design. By him a river constantly complains, The birds above rejoice with various strains, And in the solemn scene their orgies keep Like dreams mixed with the gravity of sleep, Sleep which does always there for entrance wait, And nought within against it shuts the gate. Nor does the roughest season of the sky, Or sullen Jove, all sports to him deny. He runs the mazes of the nimble hare, His well-mouthed dogs' glad concert rends the air, Or with game bolder, and rewarded more, He drives into a toil the foaming boar; Here flies the hawk to assault, and there the net To intercept the travelling fowl is set; And all his malice, all his craft is shown In innocent wars, on beasts and birds alone. This is the life from all misfortune free, From thee, the great one, tyrant love, from thee; And if a chaste and clean though homely wife, Be added to the blessings of this life, - Such as the ancient sun-burnt Sabines were, Such as Apulia, frugal still, does bear, - Who makes her children and the house her care And joyfully the work of life does share; Nor thinks herself too noble or too fine To pin the sheepfold or to milk the kine; Who waits at door against her husband come From rural duties, late, and wearied home, Where she receives him with a kind embrace, A cheerful fire, and a more cheerful face: And fills the bowl up to her homely lord, And with domestic plenty load the board. Not all the lustful shell-fish of the sea, Dressed by the wanton hand of luxury, Nor ortolans nor godwits nor the rest Of costly names that glorify a feast, Are at the princely tables better cheer Than lamb and kid, lettuce and olives, here.
THE COUNTRY MOUSE. A Paraphrase upon Horace, II Book, Satire vi.
At the large foot of a fair hollow tree, Close to ploughed ground, seated commodiously, His ancient and hereditary house, There dwelt a good substantial country mouse: Frugal, and grave, and careful of the main, Yet one who once did nobly entertain A city mouse, well coated, sleek, and gay, A mouse of high degree, which lost his way, Wantonly walking forth to take the air, And arrived early, and alighted there, For a day's lodging. The good hearty host (The ancient plenty of his hall to boast) Did all the stores produce that might excite, With various tastes, the courtier's appetite. Fitches and beans, peason, and oats, and wheat, And a large chestnut, the delicious meat Which Jove himself, were he a mouse, would eat. And for a haut goust there was mixed with these The swerd of bacon, and the coat of cheese, The precious relics, which at harvest he Had gathered from the reapers' luxury. "Freely," said he, "fall on, and never spare, The bounteous gods will for to-morrow care." And thus at ease on beds of straw they lay, And to their genius sacrificed the day. Yet the nice guest's epicurean mind (Though breeding made him civil seem, and kind) Despised this country feast, and still his thought Upon the cakes and pies of London wrought. "Your bounty and civility," said he, "Which I'm surprised in these rude parts to see, Show that the gods have given you a mind Too noble for the fate which here you find. Why should a soul, so virtuous and so great, Lose itself thus in an obscure retreat? Let savage beasts lodge in a country den, You should see towns, and manners know, and men; And taste the generous luxury of the court, Where all the mice of quality resort; Where thousand beauteous shes about you move, And by high fare are pliant made to love. We all ere long must render up our breath, No cave or hole can shelter us from death. Since life is so uncertain and so short, Let's spend it all in feasting and in sport. Come, worthy sir, come with me, and partake All the great things that mortals happy make." Alas, what virtue hath sufficient arms To oppose bright honour and soft pleasure's charms? What wisdom can their magic force repel? It draws the reverend hermit from his cell. It was the time, when witty poets tell, That Phoebus into Thetis' bosom fell: She blushed at first, and then put out the light, And drew the modest curtains of the night. Plainly the truth to tell, the sun was set, When to the town our wearied travellers get. To a lord's house, as lordly as can be, Made for the use of pride and luxury, They some; the gentle courtier at the door Stops, and will hardly enter in before; - But 'tis, sir, your command, and being so, I'm sworn t' obedience--and so in they go. Behind a hanging in a spacious room (The richest work of Mortlake's noble loom) They wait awhile their wearied limbs to rest, Till silence should invite them to their feast, About the hour that Cynthia's silver light Had touched the pale meridies of the night, At last, the various supper being done, It happened that the company was gone Into a room remote, servants and all, To please their noble fancies with a ball. Our host leads forth his stranger, and does find All fitted to the bounties of his mind. Still on the table half-filled dishes stood, And with delicious bits the floor was strewed; The courteous mouse presents him with the best, And both with fat varieties are blest. The industrious peasant everywhere does range, And thanks the gods for his life's happy change. Lo, in the midst of a well-freighted pie They both at last glutted and wanton lie, When see the sad reverse of prosperous fate, And what fierce storms on mortal glories wait! With hideous noise, down the rude servants come, Six dogs before run barking into th' room; The wretched gluttons fly with wild affright, And hate the fulness which retards their flight. Our trembling peasant wishes now in vain. That rocks and mountains covered him again. Oh, how the change of his poor life, he cursed! "This, of all lives," said he, "is sure the worst. Give me again, ye gods, my cave and wood; With peace, let tares and acorns be my food."
A Paraphrase upon the Eightieth Epistle of the First Book of Horace. HORACE TO FUSCUS ARISTIUS.
Health, from the lover of the country, me, Health, to the lover of the city, thee, A difference in our souls, this only proves, In all things else, we agree like married doves. But the warm nest and crowded dove house thou Dost like; I loosely fly from bough to bough; And rivers drink, and all the shining day, Upon fair trees or mossy rocks I play; In fine, I live and reign when I retire From all that you equal with heaven admire. Like one at last from the priest's service fled, Loathing the honied cakes, I long for bread. Would I a house for happiness erect, Nature alone should be the architect. She'd build it more convenient than great, And doubtless in the country choose her seat. Is there a place doth better helps supply Against the wounds of winter's cruelty? Is there an air that gentler does assuage The mad celestial dog's or lion's rage? Is it not there that sleep (and only there) Nor noise without, nor cares within does fear? Does art through pipes a purer water bring Than that which nature strains into a spring? Can all your tapestries, or your pictures, show More beauties than in herbs and flowers do grow? Fountains and trees our wearied pride do please, Even in the midst of gilded palaces. And in your towns that prospect gives delight Which opens round the country to our sight. Men to the good, from which they rashly fly, Return at last, and their wild luxury Does but in vain with those true joys contend Which nature did to mankind recommend. The man who changes gold for burnished brass, Or small right gems for larger ones of glass, Is not, at length, more certain to be made Ridiculous and wretched by the trade, Than he who sells a solid good to buy The painted goods of pride and vanity. If thou be wise, no glorious fortune choose, Which 't is but pain to keep, yet grief to lose. For when we place even trifles in the heart, With trifles too unwillingly we part. An humble roof, plain bed, and homely board, More clear, untainted pleasures do afford Than all the tumult of vain greatness brings To kings, or to the favourites of kings. The horned deer, by nature armed so well, Did with the horse in common pasture dwell; And when they fought, the field it always won, Till the ambitious horse begged help of man, And took the bridle, and thenceforth did reign Bravely alone, as lord of all the plain: But never after could the rider get From off his back, or from his mouth the bit. So they, who poverty too much do fear, To avoid that weight, a greater burden bear; That they might power above their equals have, To cruel masters they themselves enslave. For gold, their liberty exchanged we see, That fairest flower which crowns humanity. And all this mischief does upon them light, Only because they know not how aright That great, but secret, happiness to prize, That's laid up in a little, for the wise: That is the best and easiest estate Which to a man sits close, but not too strait. 'Tis like a shoe: it pinches, and it burns, Too narrow; and too large it overturns. My dearest friend, stop thy desires at last, And cheerfully enjoy the wealth thou hast. And, if me still seeking for more you see, Chide and reproach, despise and laugh at me. Money was made, not to command our will, But all our lawful pleasures to fulfil. Shame and woe to us, if we our wealth obey; The horse doth with the horseman run away.
THE COUNTRY LIFE. Libr. 4, Plantarum.
Blest be the man (and blest he is) whom e'er (Placed far out of the roads of hope or fear) A little field and little garden feeds; The field gives all that frugal nature needs, The wealthy garden liberally bestows All she can ask, when she luxurious grows. The specious inconveniences, that wait Upon a life of business and of state, He sees (nor does the sight disturb his rest) By fools desired, by wicked men possessed. Thus, thus (and this deserved great Virgil's praise) The old Corycian yeoman passed his days, Thus his wise life Abdolonymus spent: The ambassadors which the great emperor sent To offer him a crown, with wonder found The reverend gardener hoeing of his ground; Unwillingly and slow, and discontent, From his loved cottage to a throne he went. And oft he stopped in his triumphant way, And oft looked back, and oft was heard to say, Not without sighs, "Alas! I there forsake A happier kingdom than I go to take." Thus Aglaus (a man unknown to men, But the gods knew, and therefore loved him then) Thus lived obscurely then without a name, Aglaus, now consigned to eternal fame. For Gyges, the rich king, wicked and great, Presumed at wise Apollo's Delphic seat, Presumed to ask, "O thou, the whole world's eye, Seest thou a man that happier is than I?" The god, who scorned to flatter man, replied, "Aglaus happier is." But Gyges cried, In a proud rage, "Who can that Aglaus be? We have heard as yet of no such king as he." And true it was, through the whole earth around No king of such a name was to be found. "Is some old hero of that name alive, Who his high race does from the gods derive? Is it some mighty general that has done Wonders in fight, and god-like honours won? Is it some man of endless wealth?" said he; "None, none of these: who can this Aglaus be?" After long search, and vain inquiries passed, In an obscure Arcadian vale at last (The Arcadian life has always shady been) Near Sopho's town (which he but once had seen) This Aglaus, who monarchs' envy drew, Whose happiness the gods stood witness to, This mighty Aglaus was labouring found, With his own hands, in his own little ground. So, gracious God (if it may lawful be, Among those foolish gods to mention Thee), So let me act, on such a private stage, The last dull scenes of my declining age; After long toils and voyages in vain, This quiet port let my tossed vessel gain; Of heavenly rest this earnest to me lend, Let my life sleep, and learn to love her end.