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THE story of this satire speaks itself. Umbritius, the
supposed friend of Juvenal, and himself a poet, is. leaving Rome, and retiring to Cunæ. Our au.. thor accompanies him out of town. Before they take leave of each other, Umbritius tells his friend the reasons which oblige him to lead a private life, in an obscure place. He complains that an honest man cannot get his bread at Rome : that none but Alatterers make their fortunes there : that Grecians and other foreigners raise themselves by those sordid arts which he describes, and against which he bitterly inveighs.. He reckons up the several inconveniencies which arise from a city-life; and the many dangers which attend it.. Upbraids the noblemen with covetousness, for not. rewarding good poets ; and arraigns the governa. ment for starving them. The great art of this
satire is particularly shown, in common-places; and drawing in as many vices, as could naturally fall into the compass of it.
GRIEVED though I am an ancient friend to lose,
I like the folitary feat he chose :
In quiet Cumæ fixing his repose :
Where far from noisy Rome secure he lives,
And one more citizen to Sibyl gives.
The road to Bają, and that soft recess
Which all the gods with all their bounty bless.
Though I in Prochyta with greater ease
Could live, than in a street of palaces.
What scenes so desert, or so full of fright,
As towering houses tumbling in the night,
And Rome on fire beheld by its own blazing light?
But worse than all the clattering tiles, and worse
Than thousand padders, is the poet's curse.
Rogues that in dog-days cannot rhime forbear :
But without mercy read, and make you
Now while my friend, just ready to depart,
Was packing all his goods in one poor cart ;
He stop'd a little at the Conduit-gate,
Where Numa model'd once the Roman-state,
In mighty councils with his nymph retir'd
Though now the sacred shades and founts are hir'd
By banish'd Jews, who their whole wealth can lay
In a finall basket, on a wisp of hay;
Yet such our avarice is, that every tree
'us for his head; nor sleep itself is free ;
Nor place, nor persons, now are facred held,
From their own grove the Muses are expell’d.
Into this lonely vale our steps we bend,
I and my sullen discontented friend :
The marble caves, and aquæducts, we view;
But how adulterate now, and different from the true ?
How much more beauteous had the fountain been
Embellish'd with her first created green,
Where crystal streams through living turf had run,
Contented with an urn of native stone!
Then thus Umbritius (with an angry frown,
And looking back on this degenerate town,)
Since noble arts in Rome have no support,
And ragged virtue not a friend at court,
No profit rises from th' ungrateful stage,
My poverty encreasing with my age,
'Tis time to give my just disdain a vent,
And, cursing, leave 10 base a government.
Where Dædalus his borrow'd wings laid by,
To that obscure retreat I chuse to fly :
While yet few furrows on my face are seen,
While I walk upright, an old age
And Lachesis has fomewhat left to spin.
Now, now, 'tis time to quit this cursed place,
And hide from villains my too honest face :
Here let Arturius live, and such as he :
Such manners will with such a town agree.
Knaves, who in full assemblies have the knack
Of turning truth to lies, and white to black;
Can hire large houses, and oppress the poor
By farm’d excise ; can cleanse the common-shore ;
And rent the fishery; can bear the dead ;
And teach their eyes dissembled tears to shed,
All this for gain ; for gain they sell their
lead. These fellows (lee what fortune's power can do) Were once the minstrels of a country show : Follow'd the prizes through each paltry town, By trumpet-cheeks and bloated faces known. But now, grown rich, on drunken holidays, At their own costs exhibit public plays: Where, influenc'd by the rabble's bloody will, With thumbs bent back, they popularly kill. From thence return'd, their fordid avarice rakes In excrements again, and hires the jakes. Why hire they not the town, not every thing, Since such as they have fortune in a string ? Who, for her pleasure, can her fools advance; And toss them topmost on the wheel of chance. What 's Rome to me, what business have I there, I who can neither lie, nor falfely swear ? Nor praise my patron's undeserving rhymes, Nor yet comply with him, nor with his times; Unskill'd in schemes by planets to foreshow, Like canting rascals, how the wars will go : I neither will, nor can prognosticate To the young gaping heir, his father's fate : Nor in the intrails of a toad have pry'd, Nor carry'd bawdy presents to a bride:
For want of these town-virtues, thus, alone,
I go conducted on my way by none;
Like a dead member from the body rent;
Maim'd, and unuseful to the government.
Who now is lov’d, but he who loves the times,
Conscious of close intrigues, and dipt in crimes ;
Labouring with secrets which his bosom burn,
Yet never must to public light return?
They get reward alone who can betray:
For keeping honest counsels none will pay.
He who can Verres, when he will, accuse,
The purse of Verres may at pleasure use:
But let not all the gold which Tagus hides,
And pays the sea in tributary tides,
Be bribe sufficient to corrupt the breast ;
Or violate with dreams thy peaceful rest.
Great men with jealous eyes the friend behold,
Whose fecrecy they purchase with their gold.
I haste to tell thee, nor shall shame oppose
What confidence our wealthy Romans chose :
And whom I most abhor: to speak my mind,
I hate, in Rome, a Grecian town to find :
To see the scum of Greece transplanted here,
Receiv'd like gods, is what I cannot bear.
Nor Greeks alone, but Syrians here abound,
Obscene Orontes, diving under ground,
Conveys his wealth to Tyber's hungry fhores,
And fattens Italy with foreign whores :
Hither their crooked harps and customs come :
All find receipt in hospitable Rome.