Obrázky na stránke

Ye dangerous knaves, who pander to be fed,
And sell yourselves to infamy for bread! [DUE:
When you would, then, some darling sin pursue,
Think that

your infant offspring eyes the deed ;
And let the thought abate your guilty speed,
Back from the headlong steep your steps entice,
And check you tottering on the verge of vice.
O yet reflect! for should he e'er provoke,
In riper age, the law's avenging stroke,
(Since not alone in person and in face,
But morals, he will prove your son, and trace,
Nay pass, your vicious footsteps,) you will rail,
And name another heir, should threatening fail!
-Audacious! with what front do you aspire
To exercise the license of a sire?
When all, with rising indignation, view
The youth, in turpitude, surpass'd by you,
By you, old fool, whose windy, brainless head,
Long since required the cupping-glass's aid!

Is there a guest expected ? all is haste, All hurry in the house, from first to last.

Sweep the dry cobwebs down!" the master cries, Whips in his hand, and fury in his eyes, " Let not a spot the clouded columns stain, 66 Scour


the figured silver; you, the plain!"

and amaze his tutors with a professor of licentiousness just escaped from the bib and go-cart !

I trust there is no such person :-if there be, let him profit by the morality of an unenlightened heathen, and retrace his steps with prudence and despatch : so Juvenal will not have written in vain.

O inconsistent wretch! is all this coil,
Lest the front-halt or gallery, daub'd with soil,
Which yet a little sand removes, offend
The prying eye of some indifferent friend?
And do you stir not, that your son may see
The house from moral filth, from vices, free!

True, you have given a citizen to Rome;
And she shall bless you, if the youth become,
By your o'er-ruling care, or soon or late,
A useful member of the parent state :
For all depends on you ; the stamp he'll take,
From the strong impress which at first you make,
And prove, as vice or virtue was your aim,
His country's glory, or his country's shame.

The stork, with newts and serpents from the wood, And pathless wild, supports her callow brood; And the fledged storklings, when to wing they take; Seek the same reptiles through the devious brake. The vulture snuffs from far the tainted gale, And hurrying where the putrid scents exhale, From gibbets and from graves the carcase tears, And to her young the loathsome dainty bears ; Her young, grown vigorous, hasten from the nest, And gorge on carrion with the parent's zest. While Jove's own eagle, bird of noble blood, Scours the wide champaign for untainted food,

VER 92. Lest the front-hall &c.] Atrium, the hall of entrance : this was usually a very filthy place; and indeed nothing can be more so than the atria of the Italian nobility at this day. In one corner horses are tied up and ted, in another a cobbler is at work, in a third a pedlar displaying his wares, &c. &c.

Ver. 116. Scours the wide champaign for untainted food, &c.]

Bears the swift hare, or swifter fawn away,
And feeds her nestlings with the generous prey ;
Her nestlings hence, when from the rock they

And pinch’d by hunger, to the quarry wing,
Stoop only to the game they tasted first,
When clamorous, from the parent shell, they burst.
Centronius plann'd and built, and built and

plann'd; And now along Cajeta's winding strand, And now anid Præneste's hills, and now On lofty Tibur's solitary brow, He rear'd prodigious piles, with marble brought From distant realms, and exquisitely wrought: Prodigious piles ! that tower o'er Fortune's shrine, As those of gelt Posides, Jove, o'er thine !

This is a vulgar prejudice. Buffon, who has too many errours of this kind, asserts, that the eagle, though famishing, will not touch carrion. Quelqu' affamé qu'il soit, il ne se jette jamais sur les cadavres : and the editors of the “ History of British Birds” unwarily follow him. 'Twas never well for truth, since naturalists took poets for their guides. The fact is, that the eagle is scarcely more delicate in the choice of his food įhan the vulture. Alas, for the credit of the feathered king !

Ver. 130. Ut spado Posides,] “ By the word spado,Mr. Gibbon says, “ the Romans very forcibly expressed their abhorrence” (rather, their contempt) “ of that mutilated condition : the Greek appellation of eunuch, which insensibly prevailed, had a milder sound, and a more ambiguous sense.”

With respect to Posides, he was one of the freedmen of Claudius, who prostituted some of the most honourable rewards of military merit in his favour: thus Suet. Libertorum præcipue suspexit Posidem spadonem, quem etiam Britannico triumpho inter militares viros hasta pura donavit. Claud. 28 Posides, like most of this Emperour's favourites, amassed vast wealth, which, with somewhat better taste than the rest, he lavished in building. Pliny the Elder makes mention of the magnificent baths erected

While thus Centronius crowded seat on seat,
He spent his cash, and mortgaged his estate ;
Yet lest enough his family to content:
Which his mad son to the last farthing spent,
While, building on, he strove, with fond desire,
To shame the stately structures of his sire!

Sprung from a father who the sabbath fears, There is who nought but clouds and skies reveres ;

by him in the neighbourhood of Cumæ; but, indeed, the force of the Satire will be sufficiently apparerit, if we call to mind th stupendous grandeur of the Capitoline temple of Jupiter. The temple of Fortune, mentioned in the preceding line, stood at Præneste. It was a noble edifice.

VER. 138. who nought but clouds and skies reveres ; &c.] This popular errour, with regard to the Jews, arose from their having no visible representation of the deity. When Pompey, using, says Tacitus, the license of victory, first entered the temple of Jerusalem, the report was, that he found no statue there. Nulla intus deum effigie, &c. Hist. v. 9. This confounded the gross conceptions of the Romans, and they instantly concluded that the Jews, whose adorations they had noticed, worshipped nothing but “ clouds and skies :" for whether we read with Hen- , ninius, cæli numen, or with Scaliger and others, cæli lumen, the sense is still the same, and can only mean the material or visible heaven.

“ The world,” saith the Apostle, “ by wisdom knew not God." A truth which should sink deep into our minds. Hear how sublimely Tacitus describes the God of the Jews : Judæi mente sola, unumque numen intelligunt : profanos, qui deum imagines mortalibus materiis in species' hominum etfingant. SUMMUM ILLUD ET ETERNUM, NEQUE MUTABILE, NEQUE INTERRITURUM! But did this “immutable, and incomprehensible, this omnipotent, and everlasting God,” satisfy or fill the historian's mind By no means; he carelessly turned from a Being whom “ wisdom alone could not conceive, as a visionary creation of the Jews, and humbled himself before the impure and brutal idols of his own country !

Dio, too, speaks of the God of the Jews in lofty and energetick language. Eνα δε (Θεον) τινα ισχυρως.

σεβεσι» εδ' αγαλμα εδεν εν αυτους ποτε τους Ιεροσολύμοις εσχον' αρρητον δε δη και αειδη αυλον νομιζοντες EtYout, Tapiopotala afwww Ipno xsvec. Lib. XXXVII. 17. But did

And shuns the taste, by old tradition led,
Of human flesh, and swine's with equal dread :-
This first ; the prepuce next he lays aside,
And, taught the Roman Ritual to deride,
Clings to the Jewish, and observes with awe,
All Moses bade, in his mysterious law:
And therefore, to the circumcised alone,
Will point the road, or make the fountain known;

Dio comprehend what he thus sublimely describes, or acknowledge the superiour understanding of the Jews in worshipping this “ ineffable and invisible” Being, instead of the stocks and stones before which he himself bowed down? Neither: he dismisses the former from his thoughts, and continues to insult and revile the latter as a weak and credulous nation !

Thus, then, “ the world by wisdom knew not God;" his attributes, though repeated by the wisest of the heathens after the Jews, conveyed no ideas to their minds. It is to Revelation only, that we are indebted for just and rational conceptions on the subject: and if the theists of modern times have more distinct and adequate notions of the Divine Being, than Tacitus and Dio; it is still to the manifestations which he has been pleased to make of himself, that they owe them, however prejudice or pride may operate to prevent the acknowledgment.

Ver. 145. And therefore, to the circumcised alone, &c.] “ The letter of these laws,” says Gibbon, (Vol. I. p. 537,) with a sneer truly worthy of the disciple of Voltaire, " is not to be found in the present volume of Moses.” But is the spirit of them? On the contrary, does not the “ volume of Moses” inculcate justice and humanity to strangers, by the most forcible and pathetick appeals to the feelings of the people ! “ Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Exod. xxii. Again. Thou shalt not oppress a stranger; for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in ihe land of Egypt, Exod. xxxiii, Indeed, one of the most striking features in the “ volume of Moses,” is the anxious concern it constantly takes in the protection of the stranger. If a shear of wheat be forgotten in the field, it is not to be fetched; it is for the stranger : if the olives do not drop at the first beating, the trees are not to be touched again; the fruit is for the stranger: it the vines be not cleared at first, they are not to be gleaned; the grapes are for the stranger, &c. &c. (Deut. xxiv. V. 17--22;) and, indeed,

« PredošláPokračovať »