« Prev The Poetical Feast Next »



     The Poetical Feast teaches the Studious how to banquet.
     That Thriftiness with Jocoseness, Chearfulness without
     Obscenity, and learned Stories, ought to season their
     Feasts. Iambics are bloody. Poets are Men of no great
     Judgment. The three chief Properties of a good Maid
     Servant. Fidelity, Deformity, and a high Spirit. A Place
     out of the Prologue of
Terence's Eunuchus is
     illustrated. Also
Horace's Epode to Canidia. A Place
     out of
Seneca. Aliud agere, nihil agere, male agere. A
     Place out of the Elenchi of
Aristotle is explain'd. A
     Theme poetically varied, and in a different Metre.
     Sentences are taken from Flowers and Trees in the Garden.
     Also some Verses are compos'd in

PARTHENIUS, MUS, Hilary's Servant.

Hi. Levis apparatus, animus est lautissimus.

Le. Cænam sinistro es auspicatus omine.

Hi. Imo absit omen triste. Sed cur hoc putas?

Le. Cruenti Iambi haud congruent convivio.

Hi. I have but slender Fare, but a very liberal Mind.

Le. You have begun the Banquet with a bad Omen.

Hi. Away with bad Presages. But why do you think so?

Le. Bloody Iambics are not fit for a Feast.

Cr. O brave! I am sure the Muses are amongst us, Verses flow so from us, when we don't think of 'em.

      Si rotatiles trochaeos mavelis, en, accipe:
      Vilis apparatus heic est, animus est lautissimus.

If you had rather have whirling Trochees, lo, here they are for you:
Here is but mean Provision, but I have a liberal Mind.

Although Iambics in old Time were made for Contentions and Quarrels, they were afterwards made to serve any Subject whatsoever. O Melons! Here you have Melons that grew in my own Garden. These are creeping Lettuces of a very milky Juice, like their Name. What Man in his Wits would not prefer these Delicacies before Brawn, Lampreys, and Moor-Hens?

Cr. If a Man may be allow'd to speak Truth at a Poetic Banquet, those you call Lettuces are Beets.

Hi. God forbid.

Cr. It is as I tell you. See the Shape of 'em, and besides where is the milky Juice? Where are their soft Prickles?

Hi. Truly you make me doubt. Soho, call the Wench. Margaret, you Hag, what did you mean to give us Beets instead of Lettuces?

Ma. I did it on Purpose.

Hi. What do you say, you Witch?

Ma. I had a Mind to try among so many Poets if any could know a Lettuce from a Beet. For I know you don't tell me truly who 'twas that discover'd 'em to be Beets.

Guests. Crato.

Ma. I thought it was no Poet who did it.

Hi. If ever you serve me so again, I'll call you Blitea instead of Margarita.

Gu. Ha, ha, ha.

Ma. Your calling me will neither make me fatter nor leaner. He calls me by twenty Names in a Day's Time: When he has a Mind to wheedle me, then I'm call'd Galatea, Euterpe, Calliope, Callirhoe, Melissa, Venus, Minerva, and what not? When he's out of Humour at any Thing, then presently I'm Tisiphone, Megaera, Alecto, Medusa, Baucis, and whatsoever comes into his Head in his mad Mood.

Hi. Get you gone with your Beets, Blitea.

Ma. I wonder what you call'd me for.

Hi. That you may go whence you came.

Ma. 'Tis an old Saying and a true, 'tis an easier Matter to raise the Devil, than 'tis to lay him.

Gu. Ha, ha, ha: Very well said. As the Matter is, Hilary, you stand in Need of some magic Verse to lay her with.

Hi. I have got one ready.

[Greek: Pheugete, kantharides lukos agrios umme diôkei.]

Be gone ye Beetles, for the cruel Wolf pursues you.

Ma. What says Æsop?

Cr. Have a Care, Hilary, she'll hit you a Slap on the Face: This is your laying her with your Greek Verse. A notable Conjurer indeed!

Hi. Crato, What do you think of this Jade? I could have laid ten great Devils with such a Verse as this.

Ma. I don't care a Straw for your Greek Verses.

Hi. Well then, I must make use of a magical Spell, or, if that won't do, Mercury's Mace.

Cr. My Margaret, you know we Poets are a Sort of Enthusiasts, I won't say Mad-Men; prithee let me intreat you to let alone this Contention 'till another Time, and treat us with good Humour at this Supper for my Sake.

Ma. What does he trouble me with his Verses for? Often when I am to go to Market he has never a Penny of Money to give me, and yet he's a humming of Verses.

Cr. Poets are such Sort of Men. But however, prithee do as I say.

Ma. Indeed I will do it for your Sake, because I know you are an honest Gentleman, that never beat your Brain about such Fooleries. I wonder how you came to fall into such Company.

Cr. How come you to think so?

Ma. Because you have a full Nose, sparkling Eyes, and a plump Body. Now do but see how he leers and sneers at me.

Cr. But prithee, Sweet-Heart, keep your Temper for my Sake.

Ma. Well, I will go, and 'tis for your Sake and no Body's else.

Hi. Is she gone?

Ma. Not so far but she can hear you.

Mus. She is in the Kitchen, now, muttering something to herself I can't tell what.

Cr. I'll assure you your Maid is not dumb.

Hi. They say a good Maid Servant ought especially to have three Qualifications; to be honest, ugly, and high-spirited, which the Vulgar call evil. An honest Servant won't waste, an ugly one Sweet-Hearts won't woo, and one that is high-spirited will defend her Master's Right; for sometimes there is Occasion for Hands as well as a Tongue. This Maid of mine has two of these Qualifications, she's as ugly as she's surly; as to her Honesty I can't tell what to say to that.

Cr. We have heard her Tongue, we were afraid of her Hands upon your Account.

Hi. Take some of these Pompions: We have done with the Lettuces. For I know if I should bid her bring any Lettuces, she would bring Thistles. Here are Melons too, if any Body likes them better. Here are new Figs too just gather'd, as you may see by the Milk in the Stalks. It is customary to drink Water after Figs, lest they clog the Stomach. Here is very cool clear Spring Water that runs out of this Fountain, that is good to mix with Wine.

Cr. But I can't tell whether I had best to mix Water with my Wine, or Wine with Water; this Wine seems to me so likely to have been drawn out of the Muses Fountain.

Hi. Such Wine as this is good for Poets to sharpen their Wits. You dull Fellows love heavy Liquors.

Cr. I wish I was that happy Crassus.

Hi. I had rather be Codrus or Ennius. And seeing I happen to have the Company of so many learned Guests at my Table, I won't let 'em go away without learning something of 'em. There is a Place in the Prologue of Eunuchus that puzzles many. For most Copies have it thus:

      _Sic existimet, sciat,
      Responsum, non dictum esse, quid laesit prior,
      Qui bene vertendo, et ects describendo male, &c.

Let him so esteem or know, that it is an Answer, not a common Saying; because he first did the Injury, who by well translating and ill describing them, &c._

In these Words I want a witty Sense, and such as is worthy of Terence. For he did not therefore do the Wrong first, because he translated the Greek Comedies badly, but because he had found Fault with Terence's.

Eu. According to the old Proverb, He that sings worst let him begin first. When I was at London in Thomas Linacre's House, who is a Man tho' well skill'd in all Manner of Philosophy, yet he is very ready in all Criticisms in Grammar, he shew'd me a Book of great Antiquity which had it thus:

      Sic existimet, stiat,
      Responsum, non dictum esse, quale sit prius
      Qui bene vertendo, et eas describendo male,
      Ex Graecis bonis Latinas fecit non bonas:
      Idem Menandri Phasma nunc nuper dedit.

The Sentence is so to be ordered, that quale sit may shew that an Example of that which is spoken before is to be subjoin'd. He threatened that he would again find Fault with something in his Comedies who had found Fault with him, and he here denies that it ought to seem a Reproach but an Answer. He that provokes begins the Quarrel; he that being provok'd, replies, only makes his Defence or Answer. He promises to give an Example thereof, quale sit, being the same with [Greek: oion] in Greek, and quod genus, veluti, or videlicet, or puta in Latin. Then afterwards he brings a reproof, wherein the Adverb prius hath Relation to another Adverb, as it were a contrary one, which follows, viz. nuper even as the Pronoun qui answers to the Word idem. For he altogether explodes the old Comedies of Lavinius, because they were now lost out of the Memory of Men. In those which he had lately published, he sets down the certain Places. I think that this is the proper Reading, and the true Sense of the Comedian: If the chief and ordinary Poets dissent not from it.

Gu. We are all entirely of your Opinion.

Eu. But I again desire to be inform'd by you of one small and very easy Thing, how this Verse is to be scann'd.

Ex Græcis bonis Latinas fecit non bonas.

Scan it upon your Fingers.

Hi. I think that according to the Custom of the Antients s is to be cut off, so that there be an Anapaestus in the second Place.

Eu. I should agree to it, but that the Ablative Case ends in is, and is long by Nature. Therefore though the Consonant should be taken away, yet nevertheless a long Vowel remains.

Hi. You say right.

Cr. If any unlearned Person or Stranger should come in, he would certainly think we were bringing up again among ourselves the Countrymens Play of holding up our Fingers (dimicatione digitorum, i.e. the Play of Love).

Le. As far as I see, we scan it upon our Fingers to no Purpose. Do you help us out if you can.

Eu. To see how small a Matter sometimes puzzles Men, though they be good Scholars! The Preposition ex belongs to the End of the foregoing Verse.

Qui bene vertendo, et eas describendo male, ex Graecis bonis Latinas fecit non bonas.

Thus there is no Scruple.

Le. It is so, by the Muses. Since we have begun to scan upon our Fingers, I desire that somebody would put this Verse out of Andria into its Feet.

Sine invidia laudem invenias, et amicos pares.

For I have often tri'd and could do no good on't.

Le. Sine in is an Iambic, vidia an Anapæstus, Laudem in is a Spondee, venias an Anapæstus, et ami another Anapæstus.

Ca. You have five Feet already, and there are three Syllables yet behind, the first of which is long; so that thou canst neither make it an Iambic nor a Tribrach.

Le. Indeed you say true. We are aground; who shall help us off?

Eu. No Body can do it better than he that brought us into it. Well, Carinus, if thou canst say any Thing to the Matter, don't conceal it from your poor sincere Friends.

Ca. If my Memory does not fail me, I think I have read something of this Nature in Priscian, who says, that among the Latin Comedians v Consonant is cut off as well as the Vowel, as oftentimes in this Word enimvero; so that the part enime makes an Anapæstus.

Le. Then scan it for us.

Ca. I'll do it. Sine inidi is a proseleusmatic Foot, unless you had rather have it cut off i by Syneresis, as when Virgil puts aureo at the End of an heroick Verse for auro. But if you please let there be a Tribrach in the first Place, a lau is a Spondee, d'inveni a Dactyl, as et a a Dactyl, micos a Spondee, pares an Iambic.

Sb. Carinus hath indeed got us out of these Briars. But in the same Scene there is a Place, which I can't tell whether any Body has taken Notice of or not.

Hi. Prithee, let us have it.

Sb. There Simo speaks after this Manner.

                    Sine ut eveniat, quod volo,
      In Pamphilo ut nihil sit morae, restat Chremes.

Suppose it happen, as I desire, that there be no delay in Pamphilus; Chremes remains.

What is it that troubles you in these Words?

Sb. Sine being a Term of Threatning, there is nothing follows in this Place that makes for a Threatning. Therefore it is my Opinion that the Poet wrote it,

Sin eveniat, quod volo;

that Sin may answer to the Si that went before.

Si propter amorem uxorem nolit ducere.

For the old Man propounds two Parts differing from one another: Si, &c. If Pamphilus for the Love of Glycerie refuseth to marry, I shall have some Cause to chide him; but if he shall not refuse, then it remains that I must intreat Chremes. Moreover the Interruption of Sosia, and Simo's Anger against Davus made too long a Transposition of the Words.

Hi. Mouse, reach me that Book.

Cr. Do you commit your Book to a Mouse?

Hi. More safely than my Wine. Let me never stir, if Sbrulius has not spoken the Truth.

Ca. Give me the Book, I'll shew you another doubtful Place. This Verse is not found in the Prologue of Eunuchus:

Habeo alia multa, quæ nunc condonabuntur.

I have many other Things, which shall now be delivered.

Although the Latin Comedians especially take great Liberty to themselves in this Kind of Verse, yet I don't remember that they any where conclude a Trimetre with a Spondee, unless it be read Condonabitur impersonally, or Condonabimus, changing the Number of the Person.

Ma. Oh, this is like Poets Manners indeed! As soon as ever they are set down to Dinner they are at Play, holding up their Fingers, and poring upon their Books. It were better to reserve your Plays and your Scholarship for the second Course.

Cr. Margaret gives us no bad Counsel, we'll humour her; when we have fill'd our Bellies, we'll go to our Play again; now we'll play with our Fingers in the Dish.

Hi. Take Notice of Poetick Luxury. You have three Sorts of Eggs, boil'd, roasted, and fry'd; they are all very new, laid within these two Days.

Par. I can't abide to eat Butter; if they are fry'd with Oil, I shall like 'em very well.

Hi. Boy, go ask Margaret what they are fry'd in.

Mo. She says they are fry'd in neither.

Hi. What! neither in Butter nor Oil. In what then?

Mo. She says they are fry'd in Lye.

Cr. She has given you an Answer like your Question. What a great Difficulty 'tis to distinguish Butter from Oil.

Ca. Especially for those that can so easily know a Lettuce from a Beet.

Hi. Well, you have had the Ovation, the Triumph will follow in Time. Soho, Boy, look about you, do you perceive nothing to be wanting?

Mo. Yes, a great many Things.

Hi. These Eggs lack Sauce to allay their Heat.

Mo. What Sauce would you have?

Hi. Bid her send us some Juice of the Tendrels of a Vine pounded.

Mo. I'll tell her, Sir.

Hi. What, do you come back empty-handed?

Mo. She says, Juice is not used to be squeez'd out of Vine Tendrels.

Le. A fine Maid Servant, indeed!

Sb. Well, we'll season our Eggs with pleasant Stories. I found a Place in the Epodes of Horace, not corrupted as to the Writing, but wrong interpreted, and not only by Mancinellus, and other later Writers; but by Porphyry himself. The Place is in the Poem, where he sings a Recantation to the Witch Canidia.

tuusque venter pactumeius, et tuo cruore rubros obstetrix pannos lavit, utcunque fortis exilis puerpera.

For they all take exilis to be a Noun in this Place, when it is a Verb. I'll write down Porphyry's Words, if we can believe 'em to be his: She is exilis, says he, under that Form, as though she were become deform'd by Travel; by Slenderness of Body, he means a natural Leanness. A shameful Mistake, if so great a Man did not perceive that the Law of the Metre did contradict this Sense. Nor does the fourth Place admit of a Spondee: but the Poet makes a Jest of it; that she did indeed bear a Child, though she was not long weak, nor kept her Bed long after her Delivery; but presently jumpt out of Bed, as some lusty lying-in Women used to do.

Hi. We thank you Sbrulius, for giving us such fine Sauce to our Eggs.

Le. There is another Thing in the first Book of Odes that is not much unlike this. The Ode begins thus: Tu ne quæ sieris. Now the common Reading is thus, Neu Babylonios Tentaris numeros, ut melius quicquid erit pati. The antient Interpreters pass this Place over, as if there were no Difficulty in it. Only Mancinettus thinking the Sentence imperfect, bids us add possis.

Sb. Have you any Thing more that is certain about this Matter?

Le. I don't know whether I have or no; but in my Opinion, Horace seems here to have made Use of the Greek Idiom; and this he does more than any other of the Poets. For it is a very common Thing with the Greeks, to join an infinitive Mood with the Word [Greek: hôs] and [Greek: hôste]. And so Horace uses ut pati, for ut patiaris: Although what Mancinellus guesses, is not altogether absurd.

Hi. I like what you say very well. Run, Mouse, and bring what is to come, if there be any Thing.

Cr. What new dainty Dish is this?

Hi. This is a Cucumber sliced; this is the Broth of the Pulp of a Gourd boil'd, it is good to make the Belly loose.

Sb. Truly a medical feast.

Hi. Take it in good Part. There's a Fowl to come out of our Hen-Coop.

Sb. We will change thy Name, and call thee Apicius, instead of Hilary.

Hi. Well, laugh now as much as you will, it may be you'll highly commend this Supper to Morrow.

Sb. Why so?

Hi. When you find that your Dinner has been well season'd.

Sb. What, with a good Stomach?

Hi. Yes, indeed.

Cr. Hilary, do you know what Task I would have you take upon you?

Hi. I shall know when you have told me.

Cr. The Choir sings some Hymns, that are indeed learned ones; but are corrupted in many Places by unlearned Persons. I desire that you would mend 'em; and to give you an Example, we sing thus:

      Hostis Herodes impie,
      Christum venire quid times?

Thou wicked Enemy Herod, why dost thou dread the Coming of Christ?

The mis-placing of one Word spoils the Verse two Ways. For the Word hostis, making a Trochee, has no Place in an Iambick Verse, and Hero being a Spondee won't stand in the second Place. Nor is there any doubt but the Verse at first was thus written,

Herodes hostis impie.

For the Epithete impie better agrees with Hostis than with Herod. Besides Herodes being a Greek Word [Greek: ê or ae] is turned into [Greek: e] in the vocative; as [Greek: Sôkrataes, ô Sokrates]; and so [Greek: Agamemnôn [Transcribers Note: this word appears in Greek with the ô represented by the character omega.]] in the nominative Case is turned into [Greek: o]. So again we sing the Hymn,

      _Jesu corona virginum,
      Quem mater ilia concepit,
      Quæ sola virgo parturit.

      O Jesus the Crown of Virgins,
      Whom she the Mother conceiv'd,
      Which was the only Person of a Virgin that brought forth._

There is no Doubt but the Word should be pronounc'd concipit. For the Change of the Tense sets off a Word. And it is ridiculous for us to find Fault with concipit when parlurit follows.

Hi. Truly I have been puzzled at a great many such Things; nor will it be amiss, if hereafter we bestow a little Time upon this Matter. For methinks Ambrose has not a little Grace in this Kind of Verse, for he does commonly end a Verse of four Feet with a Word of three Syllables, and commonly places a cæsura in the End of a Word. It is so common with him that it cannot seem to have been by Chance. If you would have an Example, Deus Creator. Here is a Penthemimeris, it follows, omnium; Polique rector, then follows, vestiens; diem decoro, and then lumine; noctem soporis, then follows gratia.

Hi. But here's a good fat Hen that has laid me Eggs, and hatch'd me Chickens for ten Years together.

Cr. It is Pity that she should have been kill'd.

Ca. If it were fit to intermingle any Thing of graver Studies, I have something to propose.

Hi. Yes, if it be not too crabbed.

Ca. That it is not. I lately began to read Seneca's Epistles, and stumbled, as they say, at the very Threshold. The Place is in the first Epistle; And if, says he, thou wilt but observe it, great Part of our Life passes away while we are doing what is ill; the greatest Part, while we are doing nothing, and the whole of it while we are doing that which is to no Purpose. In this Sentence, he seems to affect I can't tell what Sort of Witticism, which I do not well understand.

Le. I'll guess, if you will.

Ca. Do so.

Le. No Man offends continually. But, nevertheless, a great Part of one's Life is lost in Excess, Lust, Ambition, and other Vices; but a much greater Part is lost in doing of nothing. Moreover they are said to do nothing, not who live in Idleness, but they who are busied about frivolous Things which conduce nothing at all to our Happiness: And thence comes the Proverb, It is better to be idle, than to be doing, but to no Purpose. But the whole Life is spent in doing another Thing. He is said, aliud agere, who does not mind what he is about. So that the whole of Life is lost: Because when we are vitiously employ'd we are doing what we should not do; when we are employ'd about frivolous Matters we do that we should not do; and when we study Philosophy, in that we do it negligently and carelesly, we do something to no Purpose. If this Interpretation don't please you, let this Sentence of Seneca be set down among those Things of this Author that Aulus Gellius condemns in this Writer as frivolously witty.

Hi. Indeed I like it very well. But in the mean Time, let us fall manfully upon the Hen. I would not have you mistaken, I have no more Provision for you. It agrees with what went before. That is the basest Loss that comes by Negligence, and he shews it by this Sentence consisting of three Parts. But methinks I see a Fault a little after: We foresee not Death, a great Part of it is past already. It is my Opinion it ought to be read; We foresee Death. For we foresee those Things which are a great Way off from us, when Death for the most Part is gone by us.

Le. If Philosophers do sometimes give themselves Leave to go aside into the Meadows of the Muses, perhaps it will not be amiss for us, if we, to gratify our Fancy, take a Turn into their Territories.

Hi. Why not?

Le. As I was lately reading over again Aristotle's Book that he entitles [Greek: Peri tôn elenchôn], the Argument of which is for the most Part common both to Rhetoricians and Philosophers, I happen'd to fall upon some egregious Mistakes of the Interpreters. And there is no Doubt but that they that are unskill'd in the Greek have often miss'd it in many Places. For Aristotle proposes a Sort of such Kind of Ambiguity as arises from a Word of a contrary Signification. [Greek: ho ti manthanousin oi epistamenoi ta gar apostomatizomena manthanousin oi grammatikoi to gar manthanein omônymon, to te xunienai chrômenon tê epistêmê, kai to lambanein tên epistêmên.] And they turn it thus. Because intelligent Persons learn; for Grammarians are only tongue-learn'd; for to learn is an equivocal Word, proper both to him that exerciseth and to him that receiveth Knowledge.

Hi. Methinks you speak Hebrew, and not English.

Le. Have any of you heard any equivocal Word?

Hi. No.

Le. What then can be more foolish than to desire to turn that which cannot possibly be turn'd. For although the Greek Word [Greek: manthanein], signifies as much as [Greek: mathein] and [Greek: mathêteuein], so among the Latins, discere, to learn, signifies as much as doctrinam accipere, or doctrinam tradere. But whether this be true or no I can't tell. I rather think [Greek: manthanein], is of doubtful Signification with the Greeks, as cognoscere is among the Latins. For he that informs, and the Judge that learns, both of them know the Cause. And so I think among the Greeks the Master is said [Greek: manthanein] whilst he hears his Scholars, as also the Scholars who learn of him. But how gracefully hath he turn'd that [Greek: ta gar apostomatizomena manthanousin oi grammatikoi], nam secundum os grammatici discunt: For the Grammarians are tongue-learn'd; since it ought to be translated, Nam grammatici, quæ dictitant, docent: Grammarians teach what they dictate. Here the Interpreters ought to have given another Expression, which might not express the same Words, but the same Kind of Thing. Tho' I am apt to suspect here is some Error in the Greek Copy, and that it ought to be written [Greek: homônumon tô te xunienai kai tô lambanein]. And a little after he subjoins another Example of Ambiguity, which arises not from the Diversity of the Signification of the same Word, but from a different Connection, [Greek: to boulesthai labein me tous polemious], velleme accipere pugnantes. To be willing that I should receive the fighting Men: For so he translates it, instead of velle me capere hostes, to be willing that I take the Enemies; and if one should read [Greek: boulesthe], it is more perspicuous. Vultis ut ego capiam hostes? Will ye that I take the Enemies? For the Pronoun may both go before and follow the Verb capere. If it go before it, the Sense will be this, Will ye that I take the Enemies? If it follows, then this will be the Sense, Are ye willing that the Enemies should take me? He adds also another Example of the same Kind, [Greek: ara ho tis ginôskei, touto ginôskei]. i.e. An quod quis novit hoc novit. The Ambiguity lies in [Greek: touto]. If it should be taken in the accusative Case, the Sense will be this; Whatsoever it is that any Body knows, that Thing he knows to be. But if in the nominative Case, the Sense will be this, That Thing which any Body knows, it knows; as though that could not be known that knows not again by Course. Again he adds another Example. [Greek: apa ho tis hora, touto hora; hora de ton kiona hôste hora ho kiôn]. That which any one sees, does that Thing see; but he sees a Post, does the Post therefore see? The Ambiguity lies again in [Greek: touto], as we shew'd before. But these Sentences may be render'd into Latin well enough; but that which follows cannot possibly by any Means be render'd, [Greek: Ara ho sy phês einai, touto sy phês einai; phês de lithon einai sy ara phês lithos einai]. Which they thus render, putas quod tu dicis esse, hoc tu dicis esse: dicis autem lapidem esse, tu ergo lapis dicis esse. Pray tell me what Sense can be made of these Words? For the Ambiguity lies partly in the Idiom of the Greek Phrase, which is in the major and minor. Although in the major there is another Ambiguity in the two Words [Greek: o] and [Greek: touto], which if they be taken in the nominative Case, the Sense will be, That which thou sayest thou art, that thou art. But if in the accusative Case the Sense will be, Whatsoever thou sayst is, that thou sayst is; and to this Sense he subjoins [Greek: lithon phês einai], but to the former Sense he subjoins [Greek: sy ara phês lithos einai]. Catullus once attempted to imitate the Propriety of the Greek Tongue:

      _Phaselus iste, quem videtis, hospites,
      Ait fuisse navium celerrimus.

      My Guests, that Gally which you see
      The most swift of the Navy is, says he._

For so was this Verse in the old Edition. Those who write Commentaries on these Places being ignorant of this, must of Necessity err many Ways. Neither indeed can that which immediately follows be perspicuous in the Latin. [Greek: Kai ara eoti sigônta legein; ditton gar esti to sigonta legein, to te ton legonta sigan, kai to ta legomena.] That they have render'd thus; Et putas, est tacentem dicere? Duplex enim est, tacentem dicere; et hunc dicere tacentem, et quæ dicuntur. Are not these Words more obscure than the Books of the Sibyls?

Hi. I am not satisfy'd with the Greek.

Le. I'll interpret it as well as I can. Is it possible for a Man to speak while he is silent? This Interrogation has a two-Fold Sense, the one of which is false and absurd, and the other may be true; for it cannot possibly be that he who speaks, should not speak what he does speak; that is that he should be silent while he is speaking; but it is possible, that he who speaks may be silent of him who speaks. Although this Example falls into another Form that he adds a little after. And again, I admire, that a little after, in that kind of Ambiguity that arises from more Words conjoin'd, the Greeks have chang'd the Word Seculum into the Letters, [Greek: epistasthai ta grammata], seeing that the Latin Copies have it, scire seculum. For here arises a double Sense, either that the Age itself might know something, or that somebody might know the Age. But this is an easier Translation of it into [Greek: aiôna] or [Greek: kosmon], than into [Greek: grammata]. For it is absurd to say that Letters know any Thing; but it is no absurdity to say, something is known to our Age, or that any one knows his Age. And a little after, where he propounds an Ambiguity in the Accent, the Translator does not stick to put Virgil's Words instead of Homer's, when there was the same Necessity in that Example, quicquid dicis esse, hoc est, What thou sayst is, it is. Aristotle out of Homer says, [Greek: ou kataputhetai ombrô], if [Greek: ou] should be aspirated and circumflected, it sounds in Latin thus; Cujus computrescit pluviâ; by whose Rain it putrifies; but if [Greek: ou] be acuted and exile, it sounds, Non computrescit pluviâ; it does not putrify with Rain; and this indeed is taken out of the Iliad [Greek: ps]. Another is, [Greek: didomen de oi euchos aresthai]: the Accent being placed upon the last Syllable but one, signifies, grant to him; but plac'd upon the first Syllable [Greek: didomen], signifies, we grant. But the Poet did not think Jupiter said, we grant to him; but commands the Dream itself to grant him, to whom it is sent to obtain his Desire. For [Greek: didomen], is used for [Greek: didonai]. For these two of Homer, these two are added out of our Poets; as that out of the Odes of Horace.

      Me tuo longas pereunte noctes,
                         Lydia, dormis.

For if the Accent be on me being short, and tu be pronounc'd short,
it is one Word metuo; that is, timeo, I am afraid: Although this
Ambiguity lies not in the Accent only, but also arises from the

They have brought another Example out of Virgil:

Heu quia nam tanti cinxerunt aethera nymbi!

Although here also the Ambiguity lies in the Composition.

Hi. Leonard, These Things are indeed Niceties, worthy to be known; but in the mean Time, I'm afraid our Entertainment should seem rather a Sophistical one, than a Poetical one: At another Time, if you please, we'll hunt Niceties and Criticisms for a whole Day together.

Le. That is as much as to say, we'll hunt for Wood in a Grove, or seek for Water in the Sea.

Hi. Where is my Mouse?

Mou. Here he is.

Hi. Bid Margaret bring up the Sweet-Meats.

Mus. I go, Sir.

Hi. What! do you come again empty-handed?

Mus. She says, she never thought of any Sweet-Meats, and that you have sat long enough already.

Hi. I am afraid, if we should philosophize any longer, she'll come and overthrow the Table, as Xantippe did to Socrates; therefore it is better for us to take our Sweet-Meats in the Garden; and there we may walk and talk freely; and let every one gather what Fruit he likes best off of the Trees.

Guests. We like your Motion very well.

Hi. There is a little Spring sweeter than any Wine.

Ca. How comes it about, that your Garden is neater than your Hall?

Hi. Because I spend most of my Time here. If you like any Thing that is here, don't spare whatever you find. And now if you think you have walk'd enough, what if we should sit down together under this Teil Tree, and rouze up our Muses.

Pa. Come on then, let us do so.

Hi. The Garden itself will afford us a Theme.

Pa. If you lead the Way, we will follow you.

Hi. Well, I'll do so. He acts very preposterously, who has a Garden neatly trimm'd up, and furnish'd with various Delicacies, and at the same Time, has a Mind adorn'd with no Sciences nor Virtues.

Le. We shall believe the Muses themselves are amongst us, if thou shalt give us the same Sentence in Verse.

Hi. That's a great Deal more easy to me to turn Prose into Verse, than it is to turn Silver into Gold.

Le. Let us have it then:

_Hi. Cui renidet hortus undiquaque flosculis,
        Animumque nullis expolitum dotibus
        Squalere patitur, is facit praepostere.

        Whose Garden is all grac'd with Flowers sweet,
        His Soul mean While being impolite,
        Is far from doing what is meet._

Here's Verses for you, without the Muses or Apollo; but it will be very entertaining, if every one of you will render this Sentence into several different Kinds of Verse.

Le. What shall be his Prize that gets the Victory?

Hi. This Basket full, either of Apples, or Plumbs, or Cherries, or Medlars, or Pears, or of any Thing else he likes better.

Le. Who should be the Umpire of the Trial of Skill?

Hi. Who shall but Crato? And therefore he shall be excused from versifying, that he may attend the more diligently.

Cr. I'm afraid you'll have such a Kind of Judge, as the Cuckoo and Nightingal once had, when they vy'd one with the other, who should sing best.

Hi. I like him if the rest do.

Gu. We like our Umpire. Begin, Leonard.

_Le. Cui tot deliciis renidet hortus,
       Herbis, fioribus, arborumque foetu,
       Et multo et vario, nec excolendum
       Curat pectus et artibus probatis,
       Et virtutibus, is mihi videtur
       Lævo judicio, parumque recto.

       Who that his Garden shine doth mind
       With Herbs and Flowers, and Fruits of various kind;
       And in mean While, his Mind neglected lies
       Of Art and Virtue void, he is not wise._

I have said.

Hi. Carinus bites his Nails, we look for something elaborate from him.

Ca. I'm out of the poetical Vein.

        _Cura cui est, ut niteat hortus flosculis ac foetibus,
           Negligenti excolere pectus disciplinis optimis;
           Hic labore, mihi ut videtur, ringitur praepostero.

           Whose only Care is that his Gardens be
           With Flow'rs and Fruits furnish'd most pleasantly,
           But disregards his Mind with Art to grace,
           Bestows his Pains and Care much like an Ass._

Hi. You han't bit your Nails for nothing.

Eu. Well, since my Turn is next, that I may do something,

        _Qui studet ut variis niteat cultissimus hortus
           Deliciis, patiens animum squalere, nec ullis
           Artibus expoliens, huic est praepostera cura.

           Who cares to have his Garden neat and rare.
           And doth of Ornaments his Mind leave bare,
           Acts but with a preposterous Care._

We have no Need to spur Sbrulius on, for he is so fluent at Verses, that he oftentimes tumbles 'em out, before he is aware.

Sb. _Cui vernat hortus cultus et elegans,
        Nee pectus uttis artibus excolit;
        Praepostera is mra laborat.
           Sit ratio tibiprima mentis.

        Who to make his Garden spring, much Care imparts,
        And yet neglects his Mind to grace with Arts,
        Acts wrong: Look chiefly to improve thy Parts._

Pa. _Quisquis accurat, variis ut hortus
        Floribus vernet, neque pectus idem
        Artibus sanctis colit, hunc habet praepostera cura.

        Who to his Soul prefers a Flower or worse,
        May well be said to set the Cart before the Horse._

Hi. Now let us try to which of us the Garden will afford the most Sentences.

Le. How can so rich a Garden but do that? even this Rose-Bed will furnish me with what to say. As the Beauty of a Rose is fading, so is Youth soon gone; you make haste to gather your Rose before it withers; you ought more earnestly to endeavour that your Youth pass not away without Fruit.

Hi. It is a Theme very fit for a Verse.

Ca. As among Trees, every one hath its Fruits: So among Men, every one hath his natural Gift.

Eu. As the Earth, if it be till'd, brings forth various Things for human Use; and being neglected, is covered with Thorns and Briars: So the Genius of a Man, if it be accomplish'd with honest Studies, yields a great many Virtues; but if it be neglected, is over-run with various Vices.

Sb. A Garden ought to be drest every Year, that it may look handsome: The Mind being once furnish'd with good Learning, does always flourish and spring forth.

Pa. As the Pleasantness of Gardens does not draw the Mind off from honest Studies, but rather invites it to them: So we ought to seek for such Recreations and Divertisements, as are not contrary to Learning.

Hi. O brave! I see a whole Swarm of Sentences. Now for Verse: But before we go upon that, I am of the Mind, it will be no improper nor unprofitable Exercise to turn the first Sentence into Greek Verse, as often as we have turn'd it into Latin. And let Leonard begin, that has been an old Acquaintance of the Greek Poets.

Le. I'll begin if you bid me.

Hi. I both bid and command you.

Le. [Greek: Hôi kêpos estin anthesin gelôn kalois,
           Ho de nous mal auchmôn tois kalois muthêmasin,
           Ouk esti kompsos outos, ouk orthôs phronei,
           Peri pleionos poiôn ta phaul, ê kreittona].

           He never entered Wisdom's Doors
           Who delights himself in simple Flowers,
           And his foul Soul neglects to cleanse.
           This Man knows not what Virtue means.

I have begun, let him follow me that will.

Hi. Carinus.

Ca. Nay, Hilary.

Le. But I see here's Margaret coming upon us of a sudden, she's bringing I know not what Dainties.

Hi. If she does so, my Fury'll do more than I thought she'd do. What hast brought us?

Ma. Mustard-Seed, to season your Sweet-Meats. An't you ashamed to stand prating here till I can't tell what Time of Night? And yet you Poets are always reflecting against Womens Talkativeness.

Cr. Margaret says very right, it is high Time for every one to go Home to Bed: At another Time we'll spend a Day in this commendable Kind of Contest.

Hi. But who do you give the Prize to?

Cr. For this Time I allot it to myself. For no Body has overcome but I.

Hi. How did you overcome that did not contend at all.

Cr. Ye have contended, but not try'd it out. I have overcome Marget, and that is more than any of you could do.

Ca. Hilary. He demands what's his Right, let him have the Basket.

« Prev The Poetical Feast Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection