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THIS fixth fatire treats an admirable common-place of moral philofophy; of the true use of riches. They certainly are intended, by the power who beftows them, as inftruments and helps of living commodiously ourselves; and of adminiftering to the wants of others, who are oppreffed by fortune. There are two extremes in the opinions of men concerning them. One error, though on the right hand, yet a great one, is, that they are no helps to a virtuous life; the other places all our happinefs in the acquifition and poffeffion of them; and this is, undoubtedly, the worfe extreme. The mean betwixt thefe, is the opinion of the Stoicks; which is, that riches may be useful to the leading
a virtuous life; in cafe we rightly understand how to give according to right reafon; and how to receive what is given us by others. The virtue of giving well, is called liberality: and it is of this virtue that Perfius writes in this fatire; wherein he not only fhews the lawful use of riches, but also fharply inveighs against the vices which are oppofed to it; and especially of thofe, which confift in the defects of giving or fpending; or in the abufe of riches. He writes to Cæfius Baffus his friend, and a poet alfo. Enquires first of his health and ftudies; and afterwards informs him of his own, and where he is now refident. He gives an account of himself, that he is endeavouring, by little and little, to wear off his vices; and particularly, that he is combating ambition, and the defire of wealth. He dwells upon the latter vice: and, being fenfible that few men either defire or ufe riches as they ought, he endeavours to convince them of their folly; which is the main defign of the whole fatire.
TO CASIUS BASSUS, A LYRIC POET.
AS winter caus'd thee, friend, to change thy feat,
And feek in Sabine air a warm retreat?
Say, doft thou yet the Roman harp command?
Do the ftrings anfwer to thy noble hand?
Great mafter of the Muse, infpir'd to fing
The beauties of the first-created spring;
The pedigree of Nature to rehearse,
And found the Maker's work, in equal verfe.
Now sporting on thy lyre the loves of youth,
Now virtuous age, and venerable truth;
Expreffing justly Sappho's wanton art
Of odes, and Pindar's more majestic part.
For me, my warmer conftitution wants
More cold, than our Ligurian winter grants;
And therefore, to my native shores retir'd,
I view the coaft old Ennius once admir'd;
Where clifts on either fides their points display;
And, after, opening in an ampler way,
Afford the pleafing profpect of the bay.
'Tis worth your while, O Romans, to regard
The port of Luna fays our learned Bard;
Who in a drunken dream beheld his foul
The fifth within the tranfmigrating roll;
Which firft a peacock, then Euphorbus was,
Then Homer next, and next Pythagoras ;
And laft of all the line did into Ennius pafs.
Secure and free from bufinefs of the state,
And more fecure of what the vulgar pratę,
Here I enjoy my private thoughts; nor care
What rots for fheep the fouthern winds prepare:
Survey the neighbouring fields, and not repine,
When I behold a larger crop than mine :
To fee a beggar's brat in riches flow,
Adds not a wrinkle to my even brow;
Nor, envious at the fight, will I forbear
My plenteous bowl, nor bate my bounteous cheer.
Nor yet unfeal the dregs of wine that stink
Of cask; nor in a nafty flaggon drink;
Let others stuff their guts with homely fare;
For men of different inclinations are;
Though born perhaps beneath one common star.
In minds and manners twins oppos'd we fee
In the fame fign, almost the fame degree:
One, frugal, on his birth-day fears to dine;
Does at a penny's coft in herbs repine,
And hardly dares to dip his fingers in the brine.
Prepar'd as priest of his own rites to stand,
He fprinkles pepper with a fparing hand.
His jolly brother, opposite in sense,
Laughs at his thrift; and, lavish of expence,
Quaffs, crams, and guttles, in his own defence.
For me, I'll use my own; and take
Yet will not turbots for my flaves prepare;
Nor be so nice in tafte myself to know
If what I fwallow be a thrush, or no.
Live on thy annual income; spend thy store ;
And freely grind, from thy full threshing-floor;
Next harvest promifes as much, or more.
Thus I would live: but friendship's holy band,
And offices of kindness, hold my hand :
My friend is fhipwreck'd on the Brutian strand,
His riches in th' Ionian main are loft;
And he himself stands shivering on the coaft;
Where, destitute of help, forlorn and bare,
He wearies the deaf Gods with fruitlefs prayer.
Their images, the relicts of the wreck,
Torn from the naked poop, are tided back
By the wild waves, and, rudely thrown afhore,
Lie impotent; nor can themfelves restore.
The veffel sticks, and fhews her open'd fide,
And on her shatter'd mast the mews in triumph ride.
From thy new hope, and from thy growing store,
Now lend affiftance, and relieve the poor.
Come; do a noble act of charity;
A pittance of thy land will set him free.
Let him not bear the badges of a wreck,
Nor beg with a blue table on his back:
Nor tell me that thy frowning heir will fay,
Tis mine that wealth thou fquander'ft thus away;
What is 't to thee, if he neglect thy urn,
Or without fpices lets thy body burn ? ·
If odours to thy afhes he refufe,
Or buys corrupted caffia from the Jews?
All thefe, the wifer Beftius will reply,
Are empty pomp, and dead-mens luxury:
We never knew this vain expence, before
Th' effeminated Grecians brought it o'er:
Now toys and trifles from their Athens come;
And dates and pepper have unfinew'd Rome.
Our fweating hinds their fallads, now, defile,
Infecting homely herbs with fragrant oil.
But to thy fortune be not thou a flave:
For what haft thou to fear beyond the grave?