Sic RARO SCRIBIS.
So seldom do you write, we scarcely hear
Your tablets called for four times in the year:
And even then, as fast as you compose,
You quarrel with the thing, and out it goes,
Vexed that, in spite of bottle and of bed,
You turn out nothing worthy to be read.
How is it all to end? Here you’ve come down,
Avoiding a December spent in town:
Your brains are clear: begin, and charm our ears
With something worth your boasting.—Nought appears.
You blame your pens, and the poor wall, accurst
From birth by gods and poets, comes off worst.
Yet you looked bold, and talked of what you’d do,
Could you lie snug for one free day or two.
What boot Menander, Plato, and the rest
You carried down from town to stock your nest?
Think you by turning lazy to exempt
Your life from envy? No, you’ll earn contempt.
Then stop your ears to sloth’s enchanting voice,
Or give up your best hopes: there lies your choice.
H. Good Damasippus, may the immortals grant,
For your sage counsel, the one thing you want,
A barber! but pray tell me how yon came
To know so well what scarce is known to fame?
D. Why, ever since my hapless all went down
’Neath the mid arch, I go about the town,
And make my neighbours’ matters my sole care,
Seeing my own are damaged past repair.
Once I was anxious on a bronze to light
Where Sisyphus had washed his feet at night;
Each work of art I criticized and classed,
Called this ill chiselled, that too roughly cast;
Prized that at fifty thousand: then I knew
To buy at profit grounds and houses too,
With a sure instinct: till the whole town o’er
“The pet of Mercury” was the name I bore.
H. I know your case, and am surprised to see
So clear a cure of such a malady.
D, Ay, but my old complaint (though strange, ’tis
Was banished from my system by a new:
Just as diseases of the side or head
My to the stomach or the chest instead,
Like your lethargic patient, when he tears
Himself from bed, and at the doctor squares.
H. Spare me but that, I’ll trust you.
D. Don’t be blind;
You’re mad yourself, and so are all mankind,
If truth is in Stertinius, from whose speech
I learned the precious lessons that I teach,
What time he bade me grow a wise man’s beard,
And sent me from the bridge, consoled and cheered.
For once, when, bankrupt and forlorn, I stood
With muffled head, just plunging in the flood,
“Don’t do yourself a mischief,” so he cried
In friendly tones, appearing at my side:
“’Tis all false shame: you fear to be thought mad,