The stag was wont to quarrel with the steed,
Nor let him graze in common on the mead:
The steed, who got the worst in each attack,
Asked help from man, and took him on his back:
But when his foe was quelled, he ne’er got rid
Of his new friend, still bridled and bestrid.
So he who, fearing penury, loses hold
Of independence, better far than gold,
Will toil, a hopeless drudge, till life is spent,
Because he’ll never, never learn content.
Means should, like shoes, be neither large nor small;
Too wide, they trip us up, too strait, they gall.
Then live contented, Fuscus, nor be slow
To give a friendly rap to one you know,
Whene’er you find me struggling to increase
My neat sufficiency, and ne’er at peace.
Gold will be slave or master: ’tis more fit
That it be led by us than we by it.
From tumble-down Vacuna’s fane I write,
Wanting but you to make me happy quite.
Quid TIBI visa chios?
How like you Chios, good Bullatius? what
Think you of Lesbos, that world-famous spot?
What of the town of Samos, trim and neat,
And what of Sardis, Croesus’ royal seat?
Of Smyrna what and Colophon? are they
Greater or less than travellers’ stories say?
Do all look poor beside our scenes at home,
The field of Mars, the river of old Rome?
Say, is your fancy fixed upon some town
Which formed a gem in Attalus’s crown?
Or would you turn to Lebedus for ease
In mere disgust at weary roads and seas?
You know what Lebedus is like; so bare,
With Gabii or Fidenae ’twould compare;
Yet there, methinks, I would accept my lot,
My friends forgetting, by my friends forgot,
Stand on the cliff at distance, and survey
The stormy sea-god’s wild Titanic play.
Yet he that comes from Capua, dashing in
To Rome, all splashed and wetted to the skin,
Though in a tavern glad one night to bide,
Would not be pleased to live there till he died:
If he gets cold, he lets his fancy rove
In quest of bliss beyond a bath or stove:
And you, though tossed just now by a stiff breeze,
Don’t therefore sell your vessel beyond seas.
But what are Rhodes and Lesbos, and the rest,
E’en let a traveller rate them at their best?
No more the wants of healthy minds they meet
Than does a jersey in a driving sleet,
A cloak in summer, Tiber through the snow,
A chafing-dish in August’s midday glow.
So, while health lasts, and Fortune keeps her smiles,
We’ll pay our devoir to your Grecian isles,
Praise them on this condition—that we stay
In our own land, a thousand miles away.