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SIX CENTURIES OF EPIGRAMS BY JOHN DUNBAR OF GREAT BRITAIN
There are thirty bad epigrams in this entire Book. If there are a like number of good ones, Lausus, it’s a good book.
TO THE RIGHT SERENE AND PUISSANT JAMES, KING OF GREAT BRITAIN, FRANCE AND IRELAND &c., GREETINGS
INCE nothing but great things befit great men, you may justly wonder, right serene master, with what boldness I, the least of men, dare to offer these kernels of my wit to a monarch who is not just great, but even the greatest. But since your divine magnanimity is such that you do not disdain the earnest offerings of even the least of men, as if you were a new Alexander the great, but rather, in accordance with your custom, embrace each thing of its kind, I am confident that I have no cause for fear at present. Indeed, I am not unoptimistic that these three first centuries, dedicated to your sacrosanct majesty, are incapable of giving you pleasure. In these, lest the frequent praises so deservedly heaped on you weary your divine sense of modesty sooner than I in my dutifulness grow sated in writing them, I have attempted to sport with some intermingled jokes and other materials, but of such moderation that those men with a good opinion of themselves cannot lodge any complaint. For I am aware (if I may speak together with Pindar, albeit in Latin) I have given provender for the jealous. And yet if I find that you, our British Jove, lend a friendlier ear, I care not a whit for the snooty backbiting of those gentlemen with their bared teeth. Indeed if only you shouldbe minded towards me as you customarily have been towards others, you will inspire me to greater things. Here, too, you will find prefixed a panegyric of your right serene majesty, and if it fails to please, you will not deny that, for that reason, it deserves to perish. May our Almighty God long preserve you safe and sound for the benefit of your realms and the republic of Christianity. Fare well forever.
Your most sacred majesty’s very devoted subject,
THE ANAGRAMS OF THE KING AND THE PRINCE
in Latin, Remedium vitae et bene placens, Cor totus &c.
ΙΑΚΩΒΟΣ, ΚΗΡΟΛΟΣ ΣΤΕΥΑΡΤΕΟΣ
ΑΚΟΣ ΒΙΩ, ΚΗΡ ΟΛΟΣ Τ’ EΥΑΡΕΣΤΟΣ
(JAMES AND CHARLES STUART,
BALM OF OUR LIFE, WHOLLY PLEASING HEART)
TO KING JAMES
Just as you are the pleasing balm of our life, so may you forever be reborn in our heart, oh lively life of your son!
A PANEGYRIC TO JAMES, KING OF GREAT BRITAIN &c.
For whom are the Nymphs preparing their new-made quills? For whom is their patron Apollo, the god of the Castalian Muses, weaving such great honors? Lo, here, great king, my mind yearns to sound your praises, to invent titles, sacred for the ages, but have scarce been recited by the Maeonian Muses and their Pierian plectrum, and to set you in heaven, while yet alive, with three hundred mighty deeds of daring. And yet I am quite unsure, and torn apart into all manner of opinions, concerning where to make my beginning, at what point to fall silent, what to say in the middle, and what ordering to impose on my verses when first my trumpet of your praises more seriously begins to fill the air.I mean, should I begin by telling how roaring Mars lies prostrate at your feet, bound by your three hundred brass chains, and how fostering Peace, wearing a turret on her sacred tresses, employs her art to add you, triumphant, to the stars you so well deserve?Or should I say that the excellent Muses in their temples have set their hearts on you? That greatest Pallas and the pleasant triad of the Graces have decorated their brows and their minds for you, that Persuasion once gave you her twin teats to suck, or that the Attic bee has set its honey deep in your throat, and that the Serpent, its erect crest uplifted to the stars, abandoned its hissing, when it heard the honey-balls of words pour forth from your mouth, King James? And yet there are more important monuments of your virtues than these, greater proofs of your praiseworthiness, whether one thinks of your mind, made lofty by your blood, or your great lineage and the fact that you can count one hundred and six kings as forefathers in your pedigree, who, having gained so many victory-palms and having had their brows bound with laurel, have bequeathed you their unconquered scepters. But that is the glory of your forebears, the praise of your ancestors, which we are to think of as the least in the roster of praises owed to you: in that list it is a trifling honor whose virtue lies only in your origins.
For in the endowments of your mind you yourself transcend your titles and ancestral pedigree: you so excel in the brilliance of your affairs, you are so mighty of speech, you so triumph with your intellect, that, if the splendor of your origin and your nobility conferred no brilliance upon you, being most exalted in your kind, you yourself would supply the brilliance together with the honor of your nobility, such being the virtue forever breathing in your heart. It is of a kind that, had the centuries of yore known it, Greece would never have boasted of its heroes: the immortal honor of Achilles and the glory of Ulysses would never have come to our ears; barbaric Troy would have kept silent about its Laomedian kings; Alcmena’s lofty son would have undergone no labors, for Saturnian Juno would not have cruelly sent her snakes, the beast of Lerna would not have grown with its hundred heads when it received a welter of blows, the Greeks would not have remembered that fleet-footed Arcadian deer. Had you chanced to be on this earth then, no pages would have published Hercules’ praises by recording these things. That pen of yours would have conquered Hercules’ club, and, great king, you would have been on everyone’s lips before all others, being greater than Hercules. For it was for his physical strength alone that his reputation extolled that grandson of Alcaeus, and set him aloft among the stars when he died.
Whereas you, existing beyond the reach of the Fates, are something unfamiliar to any past, present or future age, and you are famed for a double virtue. For, noble sir, leaving aside your physical powers, your heart and brow, fit matches for your manly heart, your grave demeanor, your arms and your breast, defended by its triple strength, who can describe your endowments of mind and the secrets of your intellect? Who imagines he can render in verse the accomplishments of your wit? Bards could describe the gifts of Athena, the lyre of Apollo, your wand, Tegean Mercury, and the sacred youth of the the virgin Astraea. But they could tell the number of all the drops in the sea, the stars in the heaven, and the sands of the gold-bearing Ebro, great sir, more readily than they could describe the gifts that lie stored up in the lofty citadel of your mind. On the one side Piety, holy Faith, and Grace with her clean hair unbound stand next to you, and hold sway in your peaceful heart. On the other side, Love of Religion, Prudence in Affairs, and Majesty take their seats. Meanwhile Mercy speaks with her sweet voice, adorable Modesty presides over all your countenance, and Reason, which possesses the inmost recesses of your mind, shines as it stands preeminent amidst the virtues.
As when Phoebus rises from the ocean with his ruddy light, steering the dawn with his rosy reins, and, glowing with fire, dissolves the dark clouds with his nearer approach as he ranges the heights of heaven, at which time the howling storms cease, and the winds and the rain, Aeolus dries their dripping wings in his cavern, and the blue waters are pacified, being roiled by no motion, and thus the farmers need not fear for their fields, nor do the waves offer any harm for cowardly sailors, in no other wise, great king, the lofty intellect within your brain, aware of the right, employs true reason to subdue the seething passions of the heart: idle boasting is the first to submit, anger flees, unjust cruelty disappears, and at the same time vain pride hastens to the haughty Spaniards and base passion for money goes a-sailing to the shores of Sicily, not daring to hasten to the royal court within your heart. Virtue does not tolerate its opposites: so deep within it sits within your marrow, so firmily ha sit twined its branches about your heart that, should Attalus once more enjoy the breath of life, under no conditions could he ever be your rival. Although antiquity admired him so much for his generosity towards the people of the world, and to the Roman race, that even nowadays he hovers, reborn, on the lips of men, in despite of envy, the dark maelstrom of Lethe, and the long passage of years, you will be a more distinguished model of this than he, destined in coming ages to be more admirable for this virtue, and no power of fate shall be able to erase such a lofty name. Thus, when my page has bequeathed you to later ages, it will publish your bright deeds, worthy of imitation, in foreign shores, and a vast throng of our descendants shall speak of you with words like these:
“Oh flower of your age, a flower whose evergreen leaves have never feared the wrath of hail, the fury of the north wind, the Thunderer’s lightning or the threats of the earth-born, nor yet the chill constellations of wintertime, or the scorching heat poured forth by Sirius! You, yourself the flower which is the splendor of your garden, whose ambrosial scent, honeyed nectar, and aroma, inexhaustible from the time of its first planting, has been perceived by the inhabitants of the ends of the earth, live long, always clad in your vernal colors and painted by an Idalian hand; live long, you flower that is the glory of flowers, and may all the centuries thus learn to speak your praises.” You great hero, greater than is within our power to conceive, these, these are the things that the throng of our distant descendants will say. As my Muse calls you to mind, they shall speak such words as these and you shall live through all the centuries. For otherwise, virtue is assuredly but an empty word and will permit itself to perish; the deeds of heroes will go unrewarded , and the heaven will be decorated by no stars.
Oh how I shall then be a bard borne to the stars with this new burden, as I employ a better song to proclaim these titles, the weight of such great affairs, such lofty pinnacles of the virtues and peaks of praises! Then, if Thracian Orpheus should vie against me, even in his own judgment he would admit himself bested: scarcely, I admit, because the gravity of my verse or the eloquence of my lyre (for who could sing things worthy of you, King James, even if he were Apollo, plucking the strings of his shell), but because of the gravity of my subject, and thus the glory of my laurel would be the greater. Unless Phoebus has misled me with his vain speech, my single hero shall be more praiseworthy than all the heroes the Argo once carried for the benefit of that Thracian bard, even though that famous ship, given to heaven, now whirls its glittering stars. You too, transformed into a comet yourself, will circle through the fiery reaches of heaven. And, just as the bold sailors who sail the sea have no hesitation to follow the north star at night, so later posterity will not be behindhand in following after your tail, shining with such great light, in the direction you progress, James, and will follow your sublime head through all the world. Thus the year will demand new honors, and your names will crave to be bestowed on new months. Thus the month of Julius will be named after James, and thus you shall mount to new distinctions of enduring fame.
Why should I foolishly aspire to enumerate these things in my songs, as is my desire? And so it is enough to have had the will: if my willingness is welcome to you in a small matter, I shall undertake a greater work hereafter, great king. And if I do not say everything, at least I shall say more, I shall sing greater things, I shall sound with a greater quill, whether I sing of how often, best king of kings, the immutable order of destiny, guided by the hand of God, has preserved you for the world when you were hounded by so many misfortunes and yet rescued from those evils, or of how that seditious gang belonging to Satan made an attempt to slay you while you were still hastening towards the longed-for light of day but still closed up in nature’s sacred prison, since they desired to quench your innocent life, and by what fortune of war you survived Bothwell’s ragings, of how demented Gowrie attacked you when you were unawares, and how he was unequal to you in the struggle, laid low in the arena, and paid due forfeits to you with his blood, and even (a wonderful thing, deserving to be recorded in newly-drafted calendars!) how the crazed spawn of Satan vainly attempted to destroy you and all of your family with gunpowder, or whether, finally,I sing of how peace now flourishes under your government and how fostering Themis, her soft hair crowned with a rampart, justly adores you and showers her honors upon you.
So by such a mighty song I shall someday attempt to raise myself above the earth, and fly about on all the lips of the common folk, like the man who gives you your Idumaean palm, Mantua. Thus, great lord, if you grant yourself to me as a Maecenas in exchange for such grand undertakings, you will learn you are not lacking in a Maro.
A song sung by Your Majesty’s humble servant,
TO THE FRIENDLY READER
Some of what you are reading is good, some mediocre, and much bad. Otherwise, my friend, a book doesn’t get written.
TO THE SAME
I don't care if you commend my poems, as is the custom. If they don’t commend themselves, to Hell with them.
THE FIRST CENTURY OF EPIGRAMS
1. TO KING JAMES
King mighty in spirit and in titles, you who join Pallas to Mars and subordinate them both to your government, accept, if you please, these fires from a devoted heart, tokens of my sincere service. Alexander the Great accepted the Samian’s warblings, don’t you be lesser than Great Alexander to me.
2. TO QUEEN ANNE
Anne is endowed with such greatness of mind, so much excellence of beauty, that it is doubtful whether she comes from heaven or earth. Yet “Anna” is derived from “manna,” and manna comes from heaven So can deny that for us Anna is heaven-sent?
3. EPITAPH OF HENRY PRINCE OF WALES
Dear to the world yet a source of fear to the world, greatest hope of the British land and darling of his nation, Henry Prince of Wales, now rests among his half-divine forebears as an ornament added to the stars. For since a realm on this earth seemed scarcely worthy of him, our ever-living God has granted him His realm.
4. TO PRINCE CHARLES
Now our Pollux has left this world and Henry shines as a new star. But in place of your brother, you, Charles, will be a Castor and shine your light on the Britons, now deprived of light.
5.TO FREDERICK, PALATINE PRINCE OF THE RHINE
When this Elector elected select Elisabeth, he was truly worthy of the title of Elector.
6. TO HIS BRIDE ELIZABETH
El means God, ish means husband, and beth bestows rest. Hence Elizabeth justly has a noble name. For, with God serving as her inspiration and first Prince, she is the unique glory and repose of her husband.
7. TO THE READER
Read these epigrams with a happy face, reader. A gloomy brow belongs to Momus.
8. TO A ONE-EYED POET
You are blind in one eye, you mediocre poet. Lose both, and thus you’ll be a second Homer.
9. TO ZOILUS
He who says you rip up my verses is wrong, Zoilus. You are burning this, not ripping it up.
10. TO M. A.’S
You M. A.’s claim to have learned the seven Liberal Arts, and I believe you. So where’s your liberality?
11. A FANCY ABOUT THE TOURNAMENT AT THE ROYAL CELEBRATION
An exultant Mars was marching along, propelled by his zeal for breaking a lance, with a large crowd of spectators. Juno saw this and said, “but the victory is mine,”and suddenly fell darkly on Mars from above. He laughed and fled, saying, “A woman has bested me, but this was not a serious fight.”
12. A PALINODE
Juno threatened to swoop down on dripping wings, when Mars suddenly saw this and became panic-stricken.
13. ON AN ORATOR AND A POET, TO A CERTAIN MAN
Orators say that poets rave, and they do. Their ravings, though, are tied by the feet, while oratorical speeches run freely on in prose. So which you should you shun the more? Not the poets? No, they’re tied to writing by metrical rules, and they’re harmless. Flee the orators instead. There’s no lunatic worse than one who is free to rave without restraint.
14. ON AN EMPIRIC PHYSICIAN
Lately transformed from a soldier into a physician, he does as a physician what he used to do as a soldier.
15. TO KING JAMES
Great sovereign, you can help my fortunes if you wish. Nobody can harm them.
16. AN EPITAPH OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS
Queen of the French by marriage, Mary was Queen of Scots by birth, and was the daughter and the bride of kings. Being a Phoenix, land of Britain, take from me this Phoenix to enjoy sole rule in his world. Nor is it strange that this child was born amidst the conflagration of his nation, for the Phoenix is wont to arise from flames.
17. TO CORDUS
You have one in your name and another in your body. Having two hearts, how can you possibly be a good man?
18. ON EPIGRAMS
Epigrams are much like food. For food does not taste the same in every mouth, nor do epigrams sound alike in every ear.
19. TO LIVIDUS
You say my poems are bad, and it’s true. For they’re bad, Lividus, when they contain your name.
20. TO THE MAJESTY OF MONEY, WORSHIPPED BY MISERS
What business have I with you, shining majesty of deceitful money? Shall I offer up prayers at your altars? Go hang first. I should be crazy if, being free for my own devices, I should become a slave to the slave of slaves.
21. ON MONEY
Once the Greeks justly called me χρήματα, since they often had great need of me. And so, when I am constantly stored up in a locked chest, my name ought to be changed, because I become of no use to myself.
22. ON A HYPOCRITE
You take your oath along with scurvy villains and your disposition is the same as theirs. What, I ask, am I to suppose you to be? I wanted to believe you were a pious man, but rumor has it that you’re a rascal.
23. ON A CERTAIN GREEDY BISHOP
Preferment has translated you to the prelacy, dear bishop, so why not translate that into getting preferment for others? “My preference,” you say, “is for wealth.”
24. TO A CERTAIN HUSBAND
No wonder that your wife is harsh to you and devious, for woman was created for her husband out of a curved bone.
25. TO PATRICK MAULE, GENTLEMAN OF KING JAMES’ BEDCHAMBER &c.
Scion of an ancient line, Maule, what other citizen or subject can be better than you? You are a lover of your sovereign and nation, and a friend of the people. In this way, you are such as three men are scarcely wont to be.
26. TO PONTICUS
How often you take delight in having a new suit of clothes! Get a new life, not a new costume.
27. TO LANCELOT ANDREWES, BISHOP OF ELY
You ancient Britons may boast of ancient Arthur’s ancient Lancelot, his wars, his trophies, his glory. We laud our Arthur’s Lancelot to the skies. Both fought for their king, but ours is more praiseworthy. For he has been a victor in heavenly battles, while the other won in human ones. The one was a fable, the other is Gospel truth.
28. ON BELLARMINE
Why should we call you Bellarmine, Bellarmine? For I should imagine Mallarmine is more correct.
29. ON A FUNERAL ON A SNOWY DAY
Grievings are traditionally black. Today is fair, and this sunlight can scarcely be fit for sorrows.
30. TO CACOZELUS
God is always on your lips, Cacozelus, but this is the way of it: God is only on your lips when you are swearing.
31. TO A WOMAN
Now it’s illegal to sell meat, for it’s Lent. Won’t you cover your breasts, woman?
32. ON PERSIUS
In his satire Persius denied he had bowels of horn. But he did not deny that he had a horned head.
33. TO MARS
Whether you are Ares in Greek or Mars in Latin, great god, a single letter will remove all your terrors. For if the first letter from the Latin or the next-to-last from the Greek, then you would become ars [“art”], gentle enough for me.
34. TO LUDOVIC STEWART, DUKE OF LENNOX &c.
How fitly the supreme title of Duke has been bestowed on you, for your endowments are worthy of a supreme captain. Take up the sword, and so let Hector’s sword yield to yours; take up the spear, and so let Pelias’ spear defer to yours. Mars has granted others to be captains, but only by their exertions and skill (Marte et arte), but nature has created you a captain, noble Duke.
35. TO ADAMUS REGIUS, ALIAS ADAM KING
Catiline is known to us out of the mouth of Sallust, and Gowrie out of yours. Any writer responsible for making a traitor notorious is deserving of eternal honor.
36. TO JOHN RAMSAY, VISCOUNT HADDINGTON &c.
Pray tell me, what is the God who steers the star of kings to you, noble sir? Can you be a king? No. But at least you have been born for the aid of kings, for you can be a king’s guardian angel.
37. ANOTHER TO THE SAME MAN
Although you lent your aid when those two Giant-like brothers made their ill-starred attempt to the Hercules of the Britons, not without deceit, his glory is undiminished. For Hercules himself could not prevail against two.
38. THE CONVERSION OF THE APOSTLE PAUL
Insane while you were Saul, unjust and a foe, let just one letter change, and Paul, you will be our friend.
39. ON AULUS THE LAWYER, TO THE MAN HIMSELF
The addition of a single letter changes your name and turns you from Aulus into Paulus, you villain. Thus you are easily a just man in name, but a hundred changed letters could not alter your nature. Rather, the addition of another letter could transform you into Saul, and such you will continue to be, even if you add nothing.
40. ON LESBIA
Lesbia has no diamond, for she does not requite her lover. But she has a diamond-hard heart.
41. ON BRISSO
Brisso was born in broad daylight. Thus he denies his birth was obscure.
42. TO ROBERT HAY OF KING JAMES’ WARDROBE &c.
If there be any modesty in a human face, it indeed possesses yours, Hay. For no other man is more humane in the royal presence, and Hay and humanity amount to quite the same thing.
43. ON AUNUS, AN ALCHEMIST
I don’t deny you have made aurum potabile, Aunus, for you have drunk up all your gold. In the same way there are those who make drinkable silver, and those who drink whatever they have.
44. A REPLY TO MELVILLE’S HEAVENLY RIVER &c.
The heavenly beings have no ferry-boats. But they do have rivers, insofar as living waters are said to flow from here. Yet nobody can pass over, since those rivers have no fords. So there is need for a bridge and a bridge-builder (pontifex). But since Charon possesses his ferry-boat in Hell, here there’s no need for bridge nor builder.
Why aren’t the beings of heaven allowed to have their rivers, since celestial water descends on us from there? If there were rivers, then it would be helpful to have bridges. And if there were rivers, there would also be holy bridge-builders.
46. THE STAR CHAMBER AT WESTMINSTER
I’d like to know why this chamber is named after the stars. Is it not because it is the courtroom of Astraea?
47. THE CHAMBRE ARDENT AT PARIS. TO GYMNICUS, A LAWYER
This a flaming hot place, and you vehemently say you’re burning with zeal. So why not plead your cases in the nude, Gymnicus?
48. A PARADOX: THAT WHICH IS NOT RARE IS DEAR
A good man is rare, yet nothing is cheaper. A man is often bad, but nothing is held to be dearer.
49. ON A CIVIL LAWER
You always call and proclaim yourself a civil lawyer, but you wonderfully vex and harass all the inhabitants of the city with your outrages, and thus you are entirely lacking in civility. And so, instead, you are an uncivil lawyer.
50. TO PRINCE CHARLES
Other men hope for the Prince’s gold in exchange for a poem. I crave his attention, not his subvention.
51. CASAUBON’S EPITAPH
Whoever could imagine Casaubon could die might also believe the supreme gods are mortal. Nobody believes that gods can die, so could anybody imagine Casaubon might? Either Casaubon was a god, or full of divinity, or Apollo’s numinous nature is merely nominal.
52. ON A VAIN MAN
If there’s nothing in this vain man of which he has not made an outward display, then he’s displaying that he’s out of his mind.
53. TO GAURUS
Why preen yourself on being the first to go in the entrance, Gaurus? See here, my dog could do the same thing.
54. ON DAUCUS
Since it was you who created God and not God who created you, Daucus, I think it was some evil demon that created you.
55. TO BEN JONSON
Ben designates a son in Hebrew, and son and English. So you are two sons, and I wonder how many fathers you have. Hang me if I know. But, great poet, I know that the great Apollo was one of them.
56. ABOUT LOVE, TO A GREEDY MAN
Love conquers all. I agree, it is all-conquering. If you are talking about the love for money, love does conquer all.
57. TO KING JAMES
Let other men beg for gold such as the gold-bearing Ebro and the Tajo with their glittering water can scarcely hold. I am only begging for the favor of my sovereign. For if you show me your favor, noble king, that is enough.
58. AN EPITAPH OF ELIZABETH, QUEEN OF ENGLAND &c.
Here is Elizabeth, the glory of the English nature, Penthesilea herself was her inferior. The latter was run through by the single spear of Achilles, but the former was not harmed by the spears of a thousand Achilles-like fellows. Let the Spaniard and Ireland tell you what she could do, let France speak of her friendship, and Flanders of her generosity.
59. TO QUEEN ANNE
Inasmuch as Anna is the greater part of Britanna ,and the Britannic land cannot exist without Anne, it was not Brutus, but rather Anne, who gave you your name, Britain. Brutus was only a myth.
60. TO AN OBSCURE POET
Rest obscurely in your obscure books. A noble poem comes from a noble talent.
61. TO A BOLD-FACED MAN
To spare you the effort of often putting on a bold face, you were created as a bold-faced man, although you ought to be shame-faced.
62. MUNDANUS, UNDA SUM
Who does not know that names contain their own mysteries? And who would deny your powers, o anagram? I’m that Mundanus, the worldling.I am [sum] naught but a fleeting wave [unda], whom dark fate is always oppressing with various winds. But a single letter appears twice in my name, so it is permissible for Mundanus to be duplicitous.
63. TO MARIANUS
Marianus, if I called you poetic, then I pray that the Muses be angry at me, I pray that Bacchus be angry with me. By the waters of Helicon, by Apollo’s laurels, and also by the frenzies of bards (and you will not deny that this is what I said), Marianus, what I called you was pathetic.
64. TO A CERTAIN YOUNG MAN
You may be wiser than Minerva herself. But you entirely lack the face of a wise man.
65. TO A BOOTED SHIP’S CAPTAIN
Why those boots? Why those spurs? Captain, do you want to spur along your ship?
66. MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS SPEAKS
Three enemies beset my single self. Dissension, death and dread pressed me on this side and on that. But I by myself proved greater than the three. For just as I, Mary, overcame Mars and mortality, so too, when about to die, I conquered mortal fear.
67. THE EPITAPH OF MOSES
His spirit is in heaven. Abarim contains his buried bones, and it was an angel of the Lord that buried him.
68. ON THE KINGS OF PERSIA
Why is it strange that kings cannot please everybody, when God Himself does not? But Cimmerian darkness does not complain about the sun: for though the Cimmerians do not see, it shines none the less. A king is the sun to his kingdom. Just as clouds often obscure the face of the sun, so a clown beclouds that of a king.
A king is the sun to his kingdom, but clouds often possess their faces, just as clowns often do their ears.
70. THE LEADER OF A DRINKING-PARTY IMPROVISES AN ADDRESS TO A NEARBY MAGPIE
Surely, you talkative magpie, you’re not going to teach us how to chatter? For a cup of wine is enough to do that.
71. TO ZOILUS
How vilely you laud me, Zoilus! I’d prefer you to lash me. But laud me or lash me, it’s all the same to me.
72. TO MARCUS
I’ve often given you things, Marcus, but you’ve never given me anything. If you are always going to act thus, then good-bye.
73. TO WALTER QUIN
Whether you write the histories of kings or of the affairs of our time, or anagrams or epigrams, you so rival Phoebus himself, that it is doubtful whether Apollo would prefer to be called Grynaean or Quinaean.
74. TO A CERTAIN HUSBAND
Let her not be a chatterbox [facunda], but always a helpmate [secunda], and let her always be a fertile [foecunda] woman sleeping at your side.
75. TO CALLIONIRA
Let you be ever so much made of iron, and your lover a man of adamant, yet Callionira will attract Adam’s iron.
76. TO MARCULUS
Marculus, I don’t want you to give. Don’t give me anything, Marculus. For if a man does not possess anything, then how, I ask you, can he give?
77. THE IVS OF OUR AGE IS VIS. TO A CERTAIN MAN
If you wish to understand the IVS [justice] of our age, switch the I to the middle and, wonder to behold, it becomes VIS [violence].
78. TO AN UNSKILLED PHYSICIAN
While you don’t wish to see your patient die by the operation of nature, you are dogmatic and are killing him by your art.
79. TO JAMES, BISHOP OF BATH AND WELLS &c. .
If your place could add praises to your own ones, or titles worthy of your merits, great prelate of Bath, then your twofold glory would rise up from your place to the stars. No place in the world outshines pleasant Bath, and nobody is more deserving than you of a better place.
80. THE TRIUMVIRS OF THE COMMONWEALTH: THE MINISTER, THE PHYSICIAN, AND THE LAWYER
Ministers care for the soul, physicians ward off the ills of the body, and you, lawyer, come to men’s aid when they are beset by misfortune.
81. TO JOHN ERSKINE, EARL OF MAR
Your nobility is genuine, your virtue lively (a rare thing), and your reputation matches your deserts. If you were not born of an ancient pedigree, noble sir, this would make you the founder of a new one.
82. TO LAEA
You give some people your mouth to kiss, and others your hand. “Which do you prefer?” you ask. Laea, I prefer the hand.
83. TO MARINUS
Why don’t I esteem you, Marinus? You’re a booby. Why don’t I esteem you, Marinus? You’re a good-for-nothing. Why don’t I esteem you, Marinus. You’re a glutton. Whoever esteems you, Marinus, is a fool.
84. TO A SHOW-OFF
There’s often some tag in your mouth, whether you’re quoting it from Plautus or Cicero.
85. TO GLAUCUS
Glaucus, you write nothing. I admit that you write nothing, Glaucus. For if any man can write, Glaucus, then let him do so.
86. ON PONTINIANUS
Pontinianus has rich tithes, who does not know it? But Pontinianus has an empty purse.
87. ON BARCLAY
Since one part of you is that of a Scotsman and the other that of a Frenchman, why do you have less of the one than of the others? You croak against the Scots and laud the French to high heaven. You scarcely have the heart of a Scotsman, Barclay, but you do have the coxcomb of a Frenchman.
88. TO A TRUE FRIEND
Streams will fuel hearths and flames will feed rivers before my affection for you abandons my heart.
89. TO LORD JAMES HAY, BARON SAWLEY, KING JAMES’ MASTER OF THE WARDROBE &c.
Join with the Pierian choir in celebrating the man to whom Pallas gave his heart, the Graces his countenance, and Persuasion his eloquence. Should you ask what flower possesses the name of kings, the hyacinth bears the name of Ajax. But hyacinth takes its venerable name from Hay, Hay is where I should imagine the names of kings to have been born.
90. ANOTHER ON THE SAME
Since the titles of kings are to be found in lofty Hay, the peoples [i. e., those of England and Scotland] must learn to recognize the stamp of royalty.
91. TO DAUCUS, CONCERNING UNLEARNED DOCTORS
Whoever teaches and whoever is taught is a doctor, but it does not follow that this man is learned. Hence it comes about that doctors are to be seen everywhere, but that few are learned. You must believe, Daucus, that this applies to you.
92. CONCERNING HIMSELF
I care not for doctors’ names and titles. Let him who wants to be a doctor be one, as long as I am learned.
93. TO PHILOMUSUS
Since you can count twice sixty Decembers, Philomusus, you are an ancient man. When will you become experienced?
94. ON LAEA
You have to masks, Laea, one of cosmetics, and one of silk. Take away the one and you are either a woman or an image, or you are a female drone. Take away the other, Laea, and you’re a ghost or this: you are nothing.
95. TO A HYPOCRITE
Since your words feign sweet honey, why do you have so much gall in your deeds?
96. ON FELICITY
It was forbidden any man to enter into the Temple of Virtue at Rome save through the Shrine of Labor, as they say. Thus nobody can proceed to felicity without first going through fel [“gall”].
97. ON A READER OF THE HOLY BIBLE
He is not pious who often re-reads the Bible, but rather when he puts it into practice.
98. ON CALVIN AND MELVILLE, TO THE READER
You can perhaps entertain doubts whether Calvin is greater than Melville or vice versa. Both have produced wine dearer to the heart than any other: the one gives his honey [mel], and the other his milk [lac]. Both are excellent, but honey is sweeter than wine and if you blend it with wine they give a fine sweetened drink.
99. ON LESBIA
I do not know if your mind is single and honest, Lesbia. I do know, Lesbia, that a whore is two-faced.
100. ON POPES
If Popes are named after prickles [poppis], does this mean that the thistle that produces the prickles is blessed?
Go to the Second Century