Meanwhile, I’m bound in duty, nothing both,
To see that nought in coverlet or cloth
May give you cause to sniff, that dish and cup
May serve you as a mirror while you sup;
To have my guests well-sorted, and take care
That none is present who’ll tell tales elsewhere.
You’ll find friend Butra and Septicius here,
Ditto Sabinus, failing better cheer:
And each might bring a friend or two as well,
But then, you know, close packing’s apt to smell.
Come, name your number, and elude the guard
Your client keeps by slipping through the yard.
Not to admire, Numicius, is the best,
The only way, to make and keep men blest.
The sun, the stars, the seasons of the year
That come and go, some gaze at without fear:
What think you of the gifts of earth and sea,
The untold wealth of Ind or Araby,
Or, to come nearer home, our games and shows,
The plaudits and the honours Rome bestows?
How should we view them? ought they to convulse
The well-strung frame and agitate the pulse?
Who fears the contrary, or who desires
The things themselves, in either case admires;
Each way there’s flutter; something unforeseen
Disturbs the mind that else had been serene.
Joy, grief, desire or fear, whate’er the name
The passion bears, its influence is the same;
Where things exceed your hope or fall below,
You stare, look blank, grow numb from top to toe.
E’en virtue’s self, if followed to excess,
Turns right to wrong, good sense to foolishness.
Go now, my friend, drink in with all your eyes
Bronze, silver, marble, gems, and Tyrian dyes,
Feel pride when speaking in the sight of Rome,
Go early out to ’Change and late come home,
For fear your income drop beneath the rate
That comes to Mutus from his wife’s estate,
And (shame and scandal!), though his line is new,
You give the pas to him, not he to you.
Whate’er is buried mounts at last to light,
While things get hid in turn that once looked bright.
So when Agrippa’s mall and Appius’ way
Have watched your well-known figure day by day,
At length the summons comes, and you must go
To Numa and to Ancus down below.
Your side’s in pain; a doctor hits the blot:
You wish to live aright (and who does not?);
If virtue holds the secret, don’t defer;
Be off with pleasure, and be on with her.
But no; you think all morals sophists’ tricks,
Bring virtue down to words, a grove to sticks;
Then hey for wealth! quick, quick, forestall the trade
With Phrygia and the East, your fortune’s made.
One thousand talents here—one thousand there—
A third—a fourth, to make the thing four-square.
A dowried wife, friends, beauty, birth, fair fame,
These are the gifts of money, heavenly dame: