Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
From Aulus Persius Flaccus: The Third Satyr
Argument of the Third Satyr
  Our Author has made two Satyrs concerning Study; the First and the Third: the First related to Men; This to Young Students, whom he desir’d to be educated in the Stoick Philosophy: He himself sustains the Person of the Master, or Præceptor, in this admirable Satyr. Where he upbraids the Youth of Sloth, and Negligence in learning. Yet he begins with one Scholar reproaching his Fellow Students with late rising to their Books. After which he takes upon him the other part, of the Teacher. And addressing himself particularly to Young Noblemen, tells them, That, by reason of their High Birth, and the Great Possessions of their Fathers, they are careless of adorning their Minds with Precepts of Moral Philosophy: And withall, inculcates to them the Miseries which will attend them in the whole Course of their Life, if they do not apply themselves betimes to the Knowledge of Virtue, and the End of their Creation, which he pathetically insinuates to them. The Title of this satyr, in some Ancient Manuscripts, was The Reproach of Idleness; tho in others of the Scholiasts ’tis inscribed, Against the Luxury and Vices of the Rich. In both of which the Intention of the Poet is pursued; but principally in the former.
  I remember I translated this Satyr, when I was a Kings-Scholar at Westminster School, for a Thursday Nights Exercise; and believe that it, and many other of my Exercises of this nature, in English Verse, are still in the hands of my Learned Master, the Reverend Doctor Busby.

The Third Satyr

IS this thy daily course? The glaring Sun
Breaks in at ev’ry Chink: The Cattle run
To Shades, and Noon-tide Rays of Summer shun.
Yet plung’d in Sloth we lye; and snore supine,
As fill’d with Fumes of undigested Wine.        5
  This grave Advice some sober Student bears;
And loudly rings it in his Fellows Ears.
The yawning Youth, scarce half awake, essays
His lazy Limbs and dozy Head to raise:
Then rubs his gummy Eyes, and scrubs his Pate;        10
And cries I thought it had not been so late:
My Cloaths; make haste: why when! if none be near,
He mutters first, and then begins to swear:
And brays aloud, with a more clam’rous note,
Than an Arcadian Ass can stretch his throat.        15
  With much ado, his Book before him laid,
And Parchment 1 with the smoother side display’d;
He takes the Papers; lays ’em down agen;
And, with unwilling Fingers, tries the Pen:
Some peevish quarrel straight he strives to pick,        20
His Quill writes double, or his Ink’s too thick;
Infuse more water; now ’tis grown so thin
It sinks, nor can the Character be seen.
  O Wretch, and still more wretched ev’ry day!
Are Mortals born to sleep their lives away?        25
Go back to what thy Infancy began,
Thou who wert never meant to be a Man:
Eat Pap and Spoon-meat; for thy Guwgaws cry:
Be sullen, and refuse the Lullaby.
No more accuse thy Pen: but charge the Crime        30
On Native Sloth, and negligence of time.
Think’st thou thy Master, or thy Friends, to cheat?
Fool, ’tis thy self, and that’s a worse deceit.
Beware the publick Laughter of the Town;
Thou spring’st a Leak already in thy Crown.        35
A flaw is in thy ill-bak’d Vessel found;
’Tis hollow, and returns a jarring sound.
  Yet, thy moist Clay is pliant to Command;
Unwrought, and easie to the Potter’s hand:
Now take the Mold; now bend thy Mind to feel        40
The first sharp Motions of the Forming Wheel.
  But thou hast Land; a Country Seat, secure
By a just Title; costly Furniture;
A Fuming-Pan 2 thy Lares to appease:
What need of Learning when a Man’s at ease?        45
If this be not enough to swell thy Soul,
Then please thy Pride, and search the Herald’s Roll,
Where thou shalt find thy famous Pedigree
Drawn from the Root 3 of some old Thus-can Tree;
And thou, a Thousand off, a Fool of long Degree;        50
Who, clad in Purple, 4 canst thy Censor greet;
And, loudly, call him Cousin, in the Street.
  Such Pageantry be to the People shown;
There boast thy Horse’s Trappings, and thy own:
I know thee to thy Bottom; from within        55
Thy shallow Centre, to thy outmost Skin:
Dost thou not blush to live so like a Beast,
So trim, so dissolute, so loosely drest?
  But ’tis in vain: The Wretch is drench’d too deep;
His Soul is stupid, and his Heart asleep;        60
Fatten’d in Vice; so callous, and so gross,
He sins, and sees not; senseless of his Loss.
Down goes the Wretch at once, unskill’d to swim,
Hopeless to bubble up, and reach the Water’s Brim.
  Great Father of the Gods, when, for our Crimes,        65
Thou send’st some heavy Judgment on the Times;
Some Tyrant-King, the Terrour of his Age,
The Type, and true Vicegerent of thy Rage;
Thus punish him: Set Virtue in his Sight,
With all her Charms adorn’d; with all her Graces bright:        70
But set her distant, make him pale to see
His Gains out-weigh’d by lost Felicity!
  Sicilian Tortures 5 and the Brazen Bull,
Are Emblems, rather than express the Full
Of what he feels: Yet what he fears, is more:        75
The Wretch, who sitting 6 at his plenteous Board,
Look’d up, and view’d on high the pointed Sword
Hang o’er his Head, and hanging by a Twine,
Did with less Dread, and more securely Dine.
Ev’n in his Sleep he starts, and fears the Knife,        80
And, trembling, in his Arms, takes his Accomplice Wife:
Down, down he goes; and from his Darling-Friend
Conceals the Woes his guilty Dreams portend.
  When I was young, I, like a lazy Fool,
Wou’d blear my Eyes with Oyl to stay from School:        85
Averse from Pains, and loath to learn the Part
Of Cato, dying with a dauntless Heart:
Though much my Master that stern Virtue prais’d,
Which, o’er the Vanquisher, the Vanquish’d rais’d;
And my pleas’d Father came, with Pride, to see        90
His Boy defend the Roman Liberty.
  But then my Study was to Cog the Dice,
And dext’rously to throw the lucky Sice:
To shun Ames-Ace, that swept my Stakes away;
And watch the Box, for fear they shou’d convey        95
False Bones, and put upon me in the Play.
Careful, besides, the Whirling Top to whip,
And drive her giddy, till she fell asleep.
  Thy Years are ripe, nor art thou yet to learn
What’s Good or Ill, and both their Ends discern:        100
Thou, in the Stoick Porch, 7 severely bred,
Hast heard the Dogma’s of great Zeno read:
Where 8 on the Walls, by Polignotus 9 Hand,
The Conquer’d Medians in Trunk-Breeches stand:
Where the Shorn Youth to Midnight-Lectures rise,        105
Rous’d from their Slumbers, to be early wise:
Where the coarse Cake, and homely Husks of Beans,
From pamp’ring Riot the young Stomach weans:
And where the Samian Y 10 directs thy Steps to run
To Virtue’s Narrow Steep, and Broad-way Vice to shun.        110
And yet thou snor’st; thou draw’st thy Drunken Breath,
Sour with Debauch; and sleep’st the Sleep of Death.
Thy Chaps are fallen, and thy Frame disjoyn’d:
Thy Body as dissolv’d as is thy Mind.
  Hast thou not, yet, propos’d some certain End,        115
To which thy Life, thy ev’ry Act may tend?
Hast thou no Mark, at which to bend thy Bow?
Or like a Boy pursu’st the Carrion Crow
With Pellets, and with Stones from Tree to Tree:
A fruitless Toil, and livest Extempore?        120
  Watch the Disease in time: For, when within
The Dropsy rages, and extends the Skin,
In vain for Hellebore the patient Cries,
And Fees the Doctor; but too late is wise:
Too late, for Cure, he proffers half his Wealth:        125
Conquest and Guibbons cannot give him Health.
  Learn Wretches; learn the Motions of the Mind,
Why you were made, for what you were design’d;
And the great Moral End of Humane Kind.
Study thy self, What Rank, or what degree        130
The wise Creator has ordain’d for thee:
And all the Offices of that Estate
Perform; and with thy Prudence guide thy Fate.
  Pray justly, to be heard: Nor more desire
Than what the Decencies of Life require.        135
Learn what thou ow’st thy Country, and thy Friend;
What’s requisite to spare, and what to spend:
Learn this; and after, envy not the store
Of the Greaz’d Advocate, that Grinds the Poor:
Fat Fees 11 from the defended Umbrian draws;        140
And only gains the wealthy Clients Cause;
To whom the Marsians 12 more Provision send,
Than he and all his Family can spend.
Gammons, that give a relish to the taste,
And potted Fowl, and Fish come in so fast,        145
That, e’re the first is out, the second stinks:
And mouldy Mother gathers on the brinks.
  But, here, some Captain of the Land, or Fleet,
Stout of his hands, but of a Souldiers Wit;
Cries, I have sense to serve my turn, in store;        150
And he’s a Rascal who pretends to more.
Dammee, what-e’re those Book-learn’d Blockheads say,
Solon’s the veriest Fool in all the Play.
Top-heavy Drones, and always looking down
(As over-Ballasted within the Crown!)        155
Mutt’ring, betwixt their Lips, some Mystick thing,
Which, well examin’d, is flat Conjuring,
Mere Madmen’s Dreams: For, what the Schools have taught
Is only this, that nothing can be brought
From nothing; and what is, can ne’re be turn’d to nought.        160
Is it for this they study? to grow pale,
And miss the Pleasures of a Glorious Meal?
For this, in Rags accouter’d, they are seen,
And made the May-game of the publick spleen?
  Proceed, my Friend, and rail: But hear me tell        165
A story, which is just thy Parallel.
  A Spark, like thee, of the Man-killing Trade,
Fell sick; and thus to his Physician said:
Methinks I am not right in ev’ry part;
I feel a kind of trembling at my Heart:        170
My Pulse unequal, and my Breath is strong:
Besides, a filthy Fur upon my Tongue.
The Doctor heard him, exercis’d his skill:
And, after, bad him for four Days be still.
Three Days he took good Counsel, and began        175
To mend, and look like a recov’ring Man:
The fourth he cou’d not hold from Drink; but sends
His Boy to one of his old trusty Friends:
Adjuring him, by all the Pow’rs Divine,
To pity his Distress, who cou’d not Dine        180
Without a Flaggon of his healing Wine.
He drinks a swilling Draught: And, lin’d within,
Will supple, in the Bath, his outward skin:
Whom shou’d he find, but his Physician there,
Who, wisely, bad him once again beware.        185
Sir, you look Wan, you hardly draw your Breath;
Drinking is Dangerous, and the Bath is Death:
’Tis Nothing, says the Fool: But, 13 says the friend,
This Nothing, Sir, will bring you to your end.
Do I not see your Dropsy-Belly swell?        190
Your yellow Skin?—No more of that; I’m well.
I have already Buried two or three
That stood betwixt a fair Estate and me,
And, Doctor, I may live to Bury thee.
Thou tell’st me, I look ill; and thou look’st worse.        195
I’ve done, says the Physician; take your Course.
The laughing Sot, like all unthinking Men,
Baths and gets Drunk; then Baths and Drinks again:
His Throat half throtled with Corrupted Fleam,
And breathing through his Jaws a belching steam:        200
Amidst his Cups with fainting shiv’ring seiz’d,
His Limbs dis-jointed, and all o’re diseas’d,
His hand refuses to sustain the bowl:
And his Teeth chatter, and his Eye-balls rowl:
Till, with his Meat, he vomits out his Soul:        205
Then, Trumpets, Torches, and a tedious Crew
Of Hireling Mourners, for his Funeral due.
Our Dear departed Brother lies in State,
His Heels stretch’d out, 14 and pointing to the Gate:
And Slaves, now manumis’d, on their dead Master wait.        210
They hoyst him on the Bier, and deal the Dole;
And there’s an end of a Luxurious Fool.
  But, what’s thy fulsom Parable to me?
My Body is from all Diseases free:
My temperate Pulse does regularly beat;        215
Feel, and be satisfi’d, my Hands and Feet:
These are not cold, nor those Opprest with heat.
Or lay thy hand upon my Naked Heart,
And thou shalt find me Hale in ev’ry part.
I grant this true: But, still, the deadly wound        220
Is in thy Soul; ’Tis there thou art not sound.
Say, when thou seest a heap of tempting Gold,
Or a more tempting Harlot do’st behold;
Then, when she casts on thee a side-long glance,
Then try thy Heart; and tell me if it Dance.        225
  Some Course cold Salade is before thee set;
Bread, with the Bran perhaps, and broken Meat;
Fall on, and try thy Appetite to eat.
These are not Dishes for thy dainty Tooth:
What, hast thou got an Ulcer in thy Mouth?        230
Why stand’st thou picking? Is thy Pallat sore?
That Bete, and Radishes will make thee roar?
Such is th’ unequal Temper of thy Mind;
Thy Passions in extreams, and unconfin’d:
Thy Hair so bristles with unmanly Fears,        235
As Fields of Corn, that rise in bearded Ears.
And, when thy Cheeks with flushing Fury glow,
The rage of boyling Caldrons is more slow;
When fed with fuel and with flames below.
With foam upon thy Lips, and sparkling Eyes,        240
Thou say’st and do’st in such outrageous wise:
That mad Orestes, 15 if he saw the show,
Wou’d swear thou wert the Madder of the Two.

The End of the Third Satyr.
Note 1. And Parchment, &c. The Students us’d to write their Notes on Parchments; the inside, on which they wrote, was white; the other side was Hairy, and commonly Yellow. Quintilian reproves this Custom, and advises rather Table-books, lin’d with Wax, and a Stile, like that we use in our Vellum Table-books, as more easie. [back]
Note 2. A Fuming-Pan, &c. (Fumeing 1693.) Before eating, it was Customary, to cut off some part of the Meat, which was first put into a Pan, or little Dish; then into the Fire; as an Offering to the Household Gods; this they called a Libation. [back]
Note 3. Drawn from the Root, &c. The Thuscans were accounted of most Ancient Nobility. Horace observes this in most of his compliments to Mecenas, who was deriv’d from the Old Kings of Tuscany, now the Dominion of the Great Duke. [back]
Note 4. Who Clad in Purple, &c. The Roman Knights, attir’d in the Robe call’d Trabea, were summon’d by the Censor to appear before him, and to salute him in passing by, as their Names were call’d over. They led their Horses in their hand. See more of this in Pompey’s Life written by Plutarch. [back]
Note 5. Sicilian Tortures, &c. Some of the Sicilian Kings were so great tyrants, that the Name is become Proverbial. The Brazen Bull is a known Story of Phalaris, one of those Tyrants; who when Perillus, a famous Artist, had presented him with a Bull of that Metal hollow’d within, which, when the Condemn’d Person was inclos’d in it, wou’d render th’ sound of a Bull’s roaring, caus’d the Workman to make the first Experiment. Docuitq; suum mugire Juvencum. [back]
Note 6. The Wretch, who sitting, &c. He alludes to the Story of Damocles, a Flatterer of one of those Sicilian Tyrants, namely Dionysius. Damocles had infinitely extoll’d the Happiness of Kings. Dionysius, to convince him of the contrary, invited him to a Feast, and cloath’d him in Purple; But caus’d a Sword with the point down-ward, to be hung over his Head, by a Silken Twine; which when he perceiv’d, he cou’d Eat nothing of the Delicates that were set before him. [back]
Note 7. Thou, in the Stoick Porch, &c. The Stoicks taught their Philosophy under a Porticus, to secure their Scholars from the Weather. Zeno was the Chief of that Sect. [back]
Note 8. Where] Some editors wrongly give There. [back]
Note 9. Polygnotus. A famous painter; who drew the Pictures of the Medes and Persians, Conquer’d by Miltiades, Themistocles, and other Athenian Captains, on the Walls of the Portico, in their Natural Habits. [back]
Note 10. And where the Samian Y, &c. Pithagoras of Samos made the allusion of the Y, or Greek Upsilon, to Vice and Virtue. One side of the Letter, being broad, Characters Vice, to which the ascent is wide and easie. The other side represents Virtue; to which the Passage is strait and difficult: And perhaps our Saviour might also allude to this, in those Noted words of the Evangelist, The Way to Heaven, &c. [back]
Note 11. Fat Fees, &c. Casaubon here Notes, that among all the Romans who were brought up to Learning, few besides the Orators, or Lawyers, grew Rich. [back]
Note 12. The Martians and Umbrians were the most Plentiful of all the Provinces in Italy. [back]
Note 13. But] but 1693. [back]
Note 14. His Heels stretch’d out, &c. The Romans were Buried without the City; for which Reason the Poet says that the Dead man’s heels were stretch’d out towards the Gate. [back]
Note 15. That Mad Orestes. Orestes was son to Agamemnon and Clitemnestra. Orestes to revenge his Fathers Death slew both Ægysthus and his Mother: For which he was punish’d with Madness by the Eumenides, or Furies, who continually haunted him. [back]

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