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OMNE IN PRÆCIPITI VITIUM STETIT: utere velis,
Ingenium par materiæ ? undè illa priorum
Simplicitas, cujus non audeo dicere nomen?
155 " Quâ ftantes ardent, qui fixo gutture fumant, " Et latum mediâ sulcum deducis arena.
148. Tbose born after us.] Minores, i. e. natumour descendents ; the opposite of majores natu—our ancestors.
149. All vice is at the heigh:.] In præcipiti ftetit--hach ilood-hath been for some time at its highest pitch-at its sum. mit-fo that our pofterity can carry it no higher. Compare the two preceding lines.
Vice is at stand, and at the highest How. DRYDEN.
150-1. Vi hence is there genius, &c.] Here he is supposed to be interrupted by some friend, who starts an objection, on his invocation to Satire to spread all its fails, and use all its powers againīt the vices of the times.
Where Thall we find genius equal to the matter?-equal to ránge fo wide a field-equal to the description, and due correction, of so much vice?
151. Whence that fimplicity, &c.] That simple and undirguised freedom of reproof, which former writers exercised. Alluding, perhaps, to Lucilius, Horace, and other writers of former times.
153: A burning mind. ] Inflamed with zeal, and burning with latiric rage against the vices and abuses of their times.
· Of which I dare not, &c.] It is hardly safe now to name, or mention, the liberty of the old writers; it is so sunk and gone, that the very naming it is dangerous.
154. Mutius.] Titus Mutius Albutius--a very great ard powerful man. He was satirized by Lucilius, and this, most leverely, by name. See note on Pers. Sat. i. 1. 115.
Lucilius feared no bad consequences of this, in those days of liberty.
ALL VICE IS AT THE HEIGHT. Use fails,
150 “ Is there genius equal to the matter? Whence that fim
« Of former (writers), of writing whatever they might
« like, with “ A burning mind, of which I dare not tell the name. . fc What fignifies it, whether Mutius might forgive what
" they said, or not? " Set down Tigellinus, and you will shine in that torch, 155 “ In which standing they burn, who with fixed throat smoke; ¢ And
draw out a wide furrow in the midst of sand.
155. Set down Tigellinus.] i.e. Expose him as an object of satire--fatirize this creature and infamous favourite of Nero's, and moft terrible will be the consequence.
In that torch.) This cruel punishment seems to have been
proper to incendiaries, in which light the poet humour. ously supposes the satirizers of the emperor's favourites, and other great men, to be looked upon at that time.
After Nero had burnt Rome, to satisfy his curiosity with the prospect, he contrived to lay the odium on the Christians, and charged them with setting the city on fire. He caused them to be wrapped round with garments, which were bedaubed with pitch, and other combustible matters, and set on fire at night, by way of torches to enlighten the streets.--and thus they miferably perished. See Kennet, Ant. p. 147. 156. Standing.) In an erect pofture,
With fixed throat.] Fastened by the neck to a stake. 157. And you draw out a wide furrow, &c.] After all the danger, which a satirist runs of his life, for attacking Tigellinus, or any other minion of the emperor's--all his labour will be in vain; there is no hope of doing any good. It would be like ploughing in the barren fand, which would yield nothing to reward your pains.
Commentators have given various explanations of this line, which is very difficult, and almost unintelligible, where the copies read deducet, as if relating to the fumant in the preceding line; but this cannot well be, that the plural should be expressed by the third person singular. They talk of the sufferers inaking a trench in the fand, by running round the post, to avoid the fames—but how can this be, when the person has the com,
« Qui dedit ergo tribus patruis aconita, vehetur « Pensilibus plumis, atque illinc despiciet nos ?" « Cùm veniet contrà, digito compesce labellum : 160 “ Accusator erit, qui verbum dixerit, hic eft. « Securus licet Æneam, Rutilumque ferocern « Committas : nulli gravis est percussus Achilles :
bustibles fastened round him, and must be in the midst of fire, go where he may ?-Besides, this idea does not agree with fixo gutture, which implies being fastened, or fixed, so as not to be able to ftir.
Instead of deducet, or deducit, I Nould think deducis the right reading, as others have thought before me. This agrees, in number and person, with lucebis, 1. 155, and gives us an easy and natural solution of the observation ; viz. that, after all the danger incurred, by fatirizing the emperor's favourites, no good was to be expected ; they were too bad to be reformed.
The Greeks had a proverbial saying, much like what I contend for here, to express labouring in vain-viz. 'Appeor pelgaisa Arenam metirib, you measure the sand--i. e. of the sea.
Juvenal expresses the same thought, Sat. vii. 48–9, as I would suppose him to do in this line:
Nos tamen hoc agimus, tennique in pulvere fulcos
Ducimus, & litrus sterili versamus aratro. 158. Wolf's-bane.] Aconitum is the Latin for this poiSonous herb'; but it is used in the plural, as here, to denote other forts of poison, or poison in general. See Ovid. Met. i. 147. Lurida terribiles miscent AcoNITA novercæ.
Three uncles.] Tigellinas is here meant, who poisoned three uncles that he might possess himself of their eftates. And, after their death, he forged wills for them, by which he became possessed of all they had. He likewise impeached several of the nobility, and got their estates. See more in Ainsw. under Tigellinus.
Shall be, therefore, &c.] ” And because there may be “ danger in writing satire, as things now are, is such a cha"racter as this to triumph in his wickedness unmolefted ? “ Shall he be carried about in ftate, and look down with con.
tempt upon other people, and shall I not dare to say a “ word?” This we may suppose Juvenal to mean, on hearing what is said about the danger of writing satire, and on being cautioned against it.
159. With penfile featbers.] Pensilis means, literally, hanging in the air. It was a piece of luxury, to have a mattress and
pillows « finger
“ Shall he, therefore, who gave wolf's-bane to three uncles,
be carried " With pensile feathers, and from thence look down on us?” " When he shall come opposite, restrain your lip with your
160 « There will be an accuser (of him) who shall say the
« word-- That's he." « Though, secure, Æneas and the fierce Rutilian “ You may match : smitten Achilles is grievous to none: pillows stuffed with feathers ; on which the great man reposed himself in his litter. Hence the poet makes use of the term penfilibus to plumis, as being in the litter which hung in the air, as it was carried along by the bearers. See before, l. 32, and note; and l. 64–5, and note. 159. From thence.] From his easy litter.
Look down.] With contempt, and disdain. 160. When be shall come oppofte.] The moment you meet him, carried along in his stately litter (fays Juvenal's supposed adviser) infead of saying any thing, or taking any notice of him, let him pafs quietly-lay your hand on your mouth-hold your tongue-be filent.'
161. There will be an accuser.] An informer, who will lay an accusation before the emperor, if you do but so much as point with your finger, or utter with your lips. That's he.” Therefore, that neither of these may happen, lay your finger upon your lips, and make not the Nighteft remark.
Of him who.] Ili or illius is here understood before qui, &c.
162. Though secure.] Though you must not meddle with the living, you may securely write what you please about the dead.
Æneas and the fierce Rutilian.) i. e. Æneas, and Turnus, a king of the Rutilians, the rival of Æneas, and hain by him. See Virg. Æn. xii. 919, &c.
16 You may match.] Committas-is a metaphorical expreffion, taken from matching or pairing gladiators, or others, in fingle combat. Martial says
Cum JUVENALE meo cur me committere tentas? Why do you endeavour to match me with my friend Juvenal ?" i. c. in a poetical contest with him.
By committas we are therefore to understand, that one might very safely write the history of Æneas and Turnus, and match them together in fight--as Virgil has done.
« Aut multùm quæsitus Hylas, urnamque secutus,
Penitet.” Experiar quid concedatur in illos, 170
163. Smitten Achilles.] Killed by Paris in the temple of Apollo.
- Is grievous to none. ] Nobody will get into danger, or trouble, by writing the history of this event.
164. Hylas fought after.] 'By Hercules when he had loft him. See Virg. Ecl. vi. 43, 44,
Followed bis pitcher.] With which he was sent, by Hercules, to the river Ascanius to draw some water: where, being seen, and fallen in love with, by three river-nymphs, they pulled him into the stream.
On subjects like these, faith the adviser, you may say what you please, and nobody will take offence; but beware of attacking the vices of living characters, however infamous or obnoxious.
165. Ardent.] Inflamed with latiric rage against the vices of his day.
166. Raged.] Infremuit--roared aloud, in his writings, which were as terrible to the vicious, as the roaring of a lionwhich the verb infremo fignifies : hence Met. to rage violently, or tumultuously.
Reddens.] With anger and shame. 166--7. Frigid with crimes.] Chilled, as it were, with horror of conscience their blood ran cold as we should say..
167. The bosom.] Præcordia-lit. the parts about the heart-supposed to be the feat of moral fenfibility.
--- Sweats.) Sweating is the effect of hard labour.---Su: dant is here used metaphorically, to denote the state of a mind, labouring, and toiling, under the grievous burden of a guilty conscience. This image is finely used-Mat. xi. 28.
168. Anger and tears.] Anger at the satirist-tears of vexation and forrow at being exposed.
169. Before the trumpets.) A metaphor taken from the manner of giving the signal for battle, which was done with the sound of trumpets.
Think well, fays the adviser, before you found the alarm for your attack-weigh well all hazards before you begin.
The helmeted, &c.] When once a man has gotten his