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*nisi quid tu, docte Trebati,
T. 'Equidem nihil hîc diffingere possum. Sed tamen, ut monitus caveas, ne fortè negotî Incutiat tibi quid sanctarum inscitia legum: m" Si mala condiderit in quem quis carmina, jus est Judiciumque."
H. Esto, si quis "mala: sed bona si quis Judice condiderit laudatus CÆSARE? si quis
seen some manuscript letters of Shaftesbury, in which he has ranged, in three different classes, the ethical writings of Horace, according to the different periods of his life in which he supposes them to have been written. The first, during the time he professed the stoic philosophy, and was a friend of Brutus. The second, after he became dissolute and debauched at the court of Augustus. The third, when he repented of this abandoned Epicurean life, wished to retire from the city and court, and become a private man and a philosopher. I have read a poem, which may one day see the light, in which Horace is represented as meeting Brutus in Elysium, who will not deign to hold any conversation with our Court-poet, but turns away from him with the sullen silence and haughty disdain with which Ajax treats Ulysses in the Odyssey. Warton.
Ver. 146. A man was hang'd, &c.] Si mala condiderit—A great French lawyer explains this matter very truly. "L'aristocratie est le gouvernement qui proscrit le plus les ouvrages satiriques. Les magistrats y sont de petits souverains, qui ne sont pas assez grands pour mépriser les injures. Si dans la monarchie quelque trait va contre le monarque, il est si haut que le trait n'arrive point jusqu'à lui; un seigneur aristocratique en est percé de part
To help who want, to forward who excel;
See Libels, Satires-here you have it-read.
en part. Aussi les Decemvirs, qui formoient une aristocratie, punirent ils de mort les écrits satiriques." De L'Esprit des Loix, 1. xii. c. 13.
Ver. 146. A man was hang'd] This may put the reader in mind of the ridiculous circumstance in Shakespear's Julius Cæsar; where poor Cinna the poet, when attacked by the mob, exclaims :
"I am not Cinna the conspirator, I am Cinna the poet." "No matter; tear him for his bad verses!" Ver. 150, 151. Libels and Satires! lawless things indeed;
But grave Epistles, &c.]
The legal objection is here more justly and decently taken off than in the original. Horace evades the force of it with a quibble:
"Esto, siquis mala, sed bona si quis—"
But the imitator's grave Epistles shew the satire to be a serious reproof, and therefore justifiable; which the integer ipse of the original does not. Warburton.
Opprobriis dignum laceraverit, integer ipse?
Ver. 153. F. Indeed?] Hor.
"Solventur risu tabulæ."
Some critics tell us, it is want of taste to put this line in the mouth of Trebatius. But our Poet confutes this censure, by shewing how well the sense of it agrees to his friend's character. The lawyer is cautious and fearful; but as soon as Sir ROBERT, the patron both of law and gospel, is named as approving them, he changes his note, and, in the language of old Plowden, owns, the case is altered. Now was it not as natural, when Horace had given him a hint that Augustus himself supported him, for Trebatius, a court advocate, who had been long a client to him and his uncle, to confess the case was altered? Warburton.
To laugh at the solemnity of Trebatius, which throughout the dialogue is exactly kept up, Horace puts him off with a mere play upon words. But our important lawyer takes no notice of the jest, and finishes with a gravity suited to his character:
"Solventur risu tabulæ : tu missus abibis."
Such as Sir ROBERT would approve
The case is alter'd-you may then proceed;
My Lords the Judges laugh, and you're dismiss'd.