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To ease the labouring moon; her single yell
She lectures too in Ethicks, and declaims
Ver. 622. To ease the labouring moon, &c.] In Melchor's song at the court of Moab, is this couplet,
“ He sung how earth blots the moon's gilded wain,
" Whilst foolish men beat sounding brass in vain.” On which Cowley has a note : it is clumsily drawn up, but as it contains an accurate account of the superstitious folly to which Juvenal alludes, I have subjoined it. “ This custom took the original from an opinion that witches, by muttering some charms. in verse, caused the eclipses of the moon, which they conceived to be when the moon (that is, the goddess of it,) was brought down from the sphere by the virtue of these, enchantments; and therefore they made a great noise by the beating of brass, sounding of trumpets, whooping and hallowing, and the like, to drown the witches' murmurs, that the moon might not hear them, and so to render them incffectual.”
VER. 621. She lectures too in Ethicks, &c.] Imponit finem saa piens et rebus honestis. Without entering into the disputes on this difficult line, which would lead me too far, I shali merely observe, that I have given what I conceive to be the sense of it, in conformity to the opinion of some of the most judicious commentators; Non solum mulier de poetis judicat, sed etium more philosophi præcepta dat de ratione recte vivendi, fc. Brit.. And Lubin, Etiam philosophiam tractat !--et more sapientum de summo bono disputat. Holyday translates it thus,
“ In just acts too new aime shee gives." I do not pretend to understand his poetry, but in a long and learned note on it, he seems to explain his author as I do ;; except, that he supposes the lady ambitious to establish a sect of
Doctor Jortin thinks the meaning is, “ The wise person in all things honest, and commendable, observes the due medium, the Toi undir ayar: therefore, a prudent woman, &c. &c.” This is very good sense, and may, perhaps, be that of the author.
I pass over.the idle fancies of the criticks on the following lines their obvious meaning is, that the woman who quits her proper pursuits to follow those of men, should also adopt their peculiar
To seem too learn'd, the sophist's garb should
, And, to the farthing bath, with men repair !
O, never may the partner of my bed,
habits, privileges, &c. should wear a succinct coat, instead of a flowing stole, sacrifice to Sylvanus, (which none but men might do,) and frequent the common baths, like the poorest of the rabble, among whom Juvenal humorously places the philosophers.
VÉR. 629. O, never may the partner of my bed, fc.] In the
By, nature wise, not learned by much art;
More scope of conversation impart;
“They are most firmly good, who best know why."
Σοφήν de μισω. Μη γαρ εν γ' εμοις δομοις
Who puzzles me with many an uncouth phrase, From some old canticle of Numa's days; Corrects her country friends, and cannot hear Her husband solocise without a sneer!
A woman stops at nothing, when she wears Rich emeralds round her neck, and, in her ears, Pearls of enormous size; these justify Her faults, and make all lawful in her eye. Sure, of all ills with which the state is curst, A wife who brings you money, is the worst. Behold! her face a spectacle appears Bloated, and foul, and plaister'd to the ears With viscous paste :-the husband looks askew, And sticks his lips in this detested glue. She meets the adulterer bathed, perfumed, and drest, But rots in filth at home, a very pest!
Ver. 645. Pearls of enormous size ;j Magnos elenchos. It is not easy to say what these were : the Scholiast calls them uniones, margaritas oblongas; the modern commentators, oval, oblong, and pear-shaped pearls. Holyday quaintly translates the word, eye-checking, because, as he says, inoyXw sometimes signifies to check, or reprehend! I incline to think that elenchus did not signify a single pearl for the ear, but a drop, formed of several"; for that such were worn and admired in Juvenal's time, may be readily proved. The following passage in Seneca, De Beneficiis, seems to me much to the purpose : Video uniones non singulos singulis auribus comparatos ; (jam enim exercitatæ aures oneri ferendo sunt ;) junguntur inter se, et insuper alii bini suppanguntur. Non satis muliebris 'insania viros subjecerat, nisi bina, ac terna patrimonia singulis auribus pependissent !
Ver. 653. She meets the adulterer &c.] Le Grange fancies that Juvenal had Lucilius in view here:
“ Quom tecum est, quidvis satis est; visuri alieni
This is not unlikely : but I believe the more immediate subject
For him she breathes of nard, for him alone
of his imitation, was the following passage of Tibullus, Lib. I. El. ix. 67.
“ Tune putas illam pro te disponere crines,
“ Aut tenues denso pectere dente comas?
“ Vinciat, et Tyrio prodeat apta sinu?
“ Devoveat pro quo remque, domumque tuam.” VER. 660. Clears with that precious milk, fc.] For this refinement in luxury, as well as for the “ viscous paste” mentioned above, the Roman ladies were indebted to the younger Poppæa, the mistress, and finally the wife, of Nero, who avenged the cause of two husbands, whom she had abandoned, by a kick which occasioned her death,
“ Poppæa," Stapylton says, " was so careful to preserve her beauty, that when she went into banishment,” (but was Poppæa banished ?) " she carried fifteen" (the Scholiast says fifty) " sheasses along with her, for their milk to wash in.” I will not vouch for the truth of this anecdote; but that Poppæa was profusely extravagant, in every thing which related to her person, is undoubted. Here is Xiphilinus's account : 'H de Cabovn auth STWS υπερετρυφησεν, ώστε τας τε ημιονές τας αγεσας αυτην επιχρυσα σπαρτια υποδεισθαι, και ονες πεντακοσιας αρτιτοκες καθ' ημέραν αμελγεσθαι, εν sy TW yararti AUTWY dontal. Lib. LXII. 28. Here we find that she had not fifteen, as Stapylton, or fifty, as the Scholiast, says ; but five hundred she-asses in her suite !
Apropos of the Scholiast. He has furnished Reimarus with a notable opportunity of displaying his critical sagacity. Nugatur S. aut certe misere corruptus est, quinquagintas asinas Poppæan şeçuta esse “ missam in exilium.” Scribe quingentas, cum Dione, et Plinio ; et missam in solium, quod est vas balneare. To exa change an errour for an absurdity is too much. Certainly, the Scholiast was no great critick; yet Reimarus must excuse me, if Į still believe him incapable of saying that fifty asses followed Poppæa into the bathing-tub!
For which, though exiled to the frozen main,
'Tis worth a little labour, to survey [day. Our wives more near, and trace 'em through the If, dreadful to relate! the night foregone, The husband turn'd his back, or lay alone, All, all is lost; the housekeeper is stript, The tiremaid chidden, and the chairman whipt; Rods, cords, and thongs, avenge the master's
sleep, And force the guiltless house to wake, and weep. There are, who hire a beadle by the year, To lash their servants round ; who, pleased to hear The eternal thong, bid him lay on, while they, At perfect ease, the silkman's stores survey, Chat with their seinale gossips, or replace The crack'd enamel on their treacherous face. No respite yet—they leisurely hum o'er The numerous items of the day before, And bid him still lay on; till, faint with toil, He drops the scourge; when, with a rancorous
Begone," they thunder, in a horrid tone, “ Now your accounts are settled, rogues, begone!",
But should she wish with nicer care to dress, And now the hour of assignation press,