T. O, then a laugh will cut the matter short:
The case breaks down, defendant leaves the court.
QUAE Virtus et quanta.
The art of frugal living, and its worth,
To-day, my friends, Ofellus shall set forth
(’Twas he that taught me it, a shrewd clear wit,
Though country-spun, and for the schools unfit):
Lend me your ears:—but not where meats and wine
In costly service on the table shine,
When the vain eye is dazzled, and the mind
Recoils from truth, to idle shows resigned:
No: let us talk on empty stomachs. Why?
Well, if you’d have me tell you, I will try.
The judge who soils his fingers by a gift
Is scarce the man a doubtful case to sift.
Say that you’re fairly wearied with the course,
Following a hare, or breaking in a horse,
Or, if, for Roman exercise too weak,
You turn for your amusement to the Greek,
You play at ball, and find the healthy strain
Of emulation mitigates the pain,
Or hurl the quoit, till toil has purged all taint
Of squeamishness, and left you dry and faint;
Sniff, if you can, at common food, and spurn
All drink but honey mingled with Falern.
The butler has gone out: the stormy sea
Preserves its fishes safe from you and me:
No matter: salt ad libitum, with bread
Will soothe the Cerberus of our maws instead.
What gives you appetite? ’tis not the meat
Contains the relish: ’tis in you that eat.
Get condiments by work: for when the skin
Is pale and bloated from disease within,
Not golden plover, oyster, nor sardine,
Can make the edge of dulled enjoyment keen.
Yet there’s one prejudice I sorely doubt
If force of reason ever will root out:
Oft as a peacock’s set before you, still
Prefer it to a fowl you must and will,
Because (as if that mattered when we dine!)
The bird is costly, and its tail’s so fine.
What? do you eat the feathers? when’tis drest
And sent to table, does it still look best?
While, as to flesh, the two are on a par:
Yes, you’re the dupe of mere outside, you are.
You see that pike: what is it tells you straight
Where those wide jaws first opened for the bait,
In sea or river? ’twixt the bridges twain,
Or at the mouth where Tiber joins the main?
A three-pound mullet you must needs admire,
And yet you know ’tis never served entire.
The size attracts you: well then, why dislike
The selfsame quality when found in pike?
Why, but to fly in Nature’s face for spite.
Because she made these heavy those weigh light?
O, when the stomach’s pricked by hunger’s stings,
We seldom hear of scorn for common things!