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pen writes double, and the point too wide,
O'er the smooth vellum pours the sable tide.
O wretch, whose habits into vices grow,
Whose life accumulates the means of woe!
Dismiss the scholar, be again the boy,
Replace the rattle, reassume the toy;
Repose in quiet on your nurse's lap,
Pleased by her lullaby, and feed on pap.
Who is deceived; for whom are spread these lures ?
Is the misfortune mine, or is it yours,
refuse to listen to the truth,
And waste in idleness the hours of youth?
Of shame sure victim when that youth is pass'd,
And sorrow mingles in your cup at last.
Yet art thou young, and yet thy pliant mind
Yields to the gale, and bends with every wind;
Seize then this sunny, but this fleeting hour,
To nurse and cultivate the tender flower.
Art thou of riches and of titles vain,
A splendid equipage, a pompous train ?
Or dost thou boast a Tuscan race as thine,
A great, an ancient, and an honour'd line ?
Does it suffice, the purple round thee thrown,
To hail the Roman Censor as thine own?
Vain honours all-how little are the proud,
Even when their pomp imposes on the crowd!
I know thee well; and hast thou then no shame,
That thy loose life and Natta's are the same?
But he to virtue lost, knows not its price,
Fattens in sloth, and stupifies in vice:
Demersus, summa rursus non bullit in unda.
Magne pater divum, sævos punire tyrannos
Haud alia ratione velis, cum dira libido
Moverit ingenium ferventi tincta veneno,
Virtutem videant, intabescantque relicta.
Anne magis Siculi gemuerunt æra juvenci,
Et magis auratis pendens laquearibus ensis
Purpureas subter cervices terruit, Imus,
Imus præcipites, quàm si sibi dicat, et intus
Palleat infelix, quod proxima nesciat uxor?
Sæpe oculos, memini, tangebam parvus olivo,
Grandia si nollem morituri verba Catonis
Dicere, non sano multum laudanda magistro,
Quæ pater adductis sudans audiret amicis.
Jure: etenim id summum, quid dexter senio ferret
Sunk in the gulf, immerged in guilt he lies,
Has not the power, nor yet the will to rise.
Great Sire of Gods, let not thy thunder fall
On princes when their crimes for vengeance call;
But let remembrance punish guilty kings,
And conscience wound with all her thousand stings;
Let Truth's fair form confess'd before them rise ;
And Virtue stand reveal'd to mortal eyes,
Astonish tyrants by her placid mien,
And teach them, dying, what they might have been.
Does he feel keener pangs, acuter pains,
Whom, doom'd to death, the brazen bull contains ?
Or, clothed in purple, was that wretch more bless'd
Whom slaves attended, and whom courts caress'd,
While from the roof, suspended by a thread,
The pointed sword hung threatening o'er his head;
Than that bold wretch, who, unappallid at crimes,
By mad ambition urged to grandeur climbs;
From his dark bosom dares not lift the veil,
Shudders in thought, and at himself grows pale,
Trusting to none the secrets of his life,
Not even confiding in his weeping wife?
Oft, when a boy, unwilling still to toil,
To shun my task, I smear'd my face with oil,
Great Cato's dying speech neglected lay,
And all my better thoughts to sport gave way;
With anxious friends my partial father came,
And sweating saw his son exposed to shame.
Alas, no pleasure then in books I knew,
But still with dexterous hand the dice I threw.
Scire, erat in voto : damnosa canicula quantum
Raderet, angustæ collo non fallier orcæ:
Neu quis callidior buxum torquere flagello.
Haud tibi inex pertum curvos deprendere mores,
Quæque docet sapiens braccatis inlita Medis
Porticus insomnis, quibus et detonsa juventus
Invigilat, siliquis, et grandi pasta polenta.
Samios diduxit littera ramos,
Surgentem dextro monstravit limite callem.
Stertis adhuc ? laxumque caput compage soluta
Oscitat hesternum dissutis undique malis ?
Est aliquid quò tendis, et in quod dirigis arcum?
An passim sequeris corvos, testaque, lutoque,
Securus quò pes ferat, atque ex tempore vivis?
Helleborum frustra, cum jam cutis ægra tumebit,
Poscentes videas : venienti occurrite morbo.
Et quid opus Cratero magnos promittere montes?
Discite ô miseri, et causas cognoscite rerum,
Quid sumus, et quidnam victuri gignimur, ordo
Quis datus, aut metæ quàm mollis fexus, et unde:
Quis modus argento, quid fas optare, quid asper
Utile nummus habet: patriæ, carisque propinquis
Quantum elargiri deceat: quem te Deus esse
Jussit, et humana qua parte locatus es in re.
None with more art the rattling box could shake;
None reckon'd better on the envied stake;
None was more skill'd, along the level ground,
To chase the whirling top in endless round.
But you, what arts, what pleasures can entice
To wander in the thorny paths of vice;
You, who so lately from the porch have brought
The godlike precepts which great Zeno taught;
You, who in schools of rigid virtue bred,
On simple fare with frugal sages fed,
Where watchful youth their silent vigils keep,
And midnight studies still encroach on sleep;
You, who have listen’d to instruction's voice,
And with the Samian sage have made your choice;
Are you content to lose life's early day,
Or pass existence in a dream away?
Ah, thoughtless youth, ere yet the fell disease
Blanch your pale cheek, and on its victim seize,
Apply the remedy, nor idly wait
Till hope be fled, and medicine come too late!
Contemplate well this theatre of man;
Observe the drama, and its moral plan;
Study of things the causes and the ends;
Whence is our being, and to what it tends;
Of fortune's gifts appreciate the worth;
And mark how good and evil mix on earth :
Observe what stands as relative to you,
What to your country, parents, friends, is due.
Consider God as boundless matter's soul,
Yourself a part of the stupendous whole;