To see the Latin text, click on a green square. To see a textual note, click on a blue square.
A POEM IN TWO BOOKS
Translated from the Latin of Raphael Thorius.
I sing the potent herb, and sweet repast,
Friend to the thought and grateful to the taste,
With all the wonders of its cheering fumes,
Whilst, length’ning life, the leaf in brittle tubes consumes.
Thou, GARTH, whom virtues grace with native worth 5
And honours not inferior to thy birth,
In whom, united, both appear more bright,
And give a lustre to each other’s light,
Befriend a Muse, who, destitute of fame,
Seeks honour and protection from thy name. 10
And thou, great BLACKMORE, favour my design,
In whom Apollo’s gifts, conspicuous, join.
Nor could the God, to one more fit impart
His soothing numbers and his healing art.
Hail, heavenly pipe! Thy vapours bland inspire 15
The brightest phantoms of poetic fire.
Without thy help none can thy praise rehearse;
Expiring thee, I dare the glorious verse.
Unknown, tobacco, useless, grac’d the field,
Till Bacchus first its ample leaf reveal’d, 20
When by its strength refresht, the fainting God
Subdu’d the Indians and its virtue show’d.
By Bacchus taught, the wond’ring world grows wise,
And all mankind the useful herbage prize.
It chanc’d in summer, Bacchus, well aware, 25
Foresaw the enemy’s deceit from far;
Whence in close ambush they design’d the war.
Incenst, he bids his men his arms prepare,
And join th’ impetuous Lynxes to his car.
Next close behind, the stout Bassarian band 30
In ranks obsequious, waits the God’s command.
The suttlers then, with all the heavy load
And implements of war in wagons stow’d,
Bring up the rear. Silenus’ trusty ass,
Now lame with age, can scarce keep even pace. 35
But whilst the enraged army scours the plain
To seek what tents the enemy contain,
And, weary, wanders o’er the desert soil,
Hunger and thirst augment their irksome toil.
Exhausted nerves no more their limbs sustain, 40
And bending knees scarce prop the staggering train.
No branching vine for their relief is nigh,
And old Silenus’ vessel too is dry;
With hapless jolts from the dire wagon toss’d,
Open it lies and all its liquor lost. 45
He sucks the scorching air and gasping pants;
Even Bacchus wine, his own dear blessing, wants.
The Maenads, Satyrs, soldiers seek around
For hidden springs through all the neighbouring ground,
In vain — the earth its wonted streams withheld. 50
At last by sad necessity compell’d,
Each from himself a briny draught does take,
A nauseous course his craving thirst to slake.
And yet, even hence they fail’d of a supply;
Themselves refreshment to themselves deny. 55
Hope too forsook them; all before them rise
Portentous prospects and affrightful cries.
Here parch’d with direful drought, some gasping lie.
Others through wounds their neighbours’ wants supply,
Broach their own blood and charitably die. 60
Thus droopt the army in the last despair,
When in a vale, behold a grove from far
Casts a thick shade. They doubt their failing eyes,
But faintly fed ‘em with a wild surprise.
Then Bacchus cried aloud: “Awhile let’s stay, 65
And every one his sad resolves delay.
In yonder neighbouring vales, I clearly see,
For all our wants, a wisht-for remedy.”
Thither with all their might they slowly hie,
And now in better hopes refuse to die. 70
They stop their veins from whence the vital blood,
With their dear souls, in streams impetuous flow’d.
As they approach, the lofty Paetum-grove
Displays its ample leaves and courts their love.
The chief, with joy, the heavenly blessing found, 75
And to his vines its kindred virtue own’d.
But the rash troop, impatient of delay,
And deaf to what the God had still to say,
Panting with thirst and eager for relief,
Cropt from its tender stalk the shady leaf. 80
Their parched mouths with the strange herbage fill’d,
While through their teeth the greenish juice distill’d.
But old Silenus, of its force aware,
Abstemious, us’d the offer’d food with care.
Himself secure, he wary waits to view 85
Its new effects on the wild heedless crew.
Nor was it long ere the event declar’d
The great mistake that sage Silenus fear’d:
From their weak stomachs now discharg’d, again
It spreads its mangled leaf o’er all the plain. 90
So, when with wine the drunkard is o’ercome,
And his sick brain admits the dangerous fume,
He spews the grosser dregs about the room.
The world turns round; heaven seems to leave its sphere,
And join the earth to revel thru’ the air, 95
Till sleep at last their heavy eyelids seal’d,
And with a show of death bespread the field.
The Satyrs in loud snores their sleep confest;
Whilst their huge limbs the middle space imprest.
The fierce Mimallons stretch’d around them lay, 100
And seem’d a wretched heap of lifeless clay.
But when, with welcome sleep refresht, they woke,
And from their breasts the drooping dullness shook,
Through ev’ry vein the livelier spirits hie,
And with new strength the waking host supply. 105
With nerves new-strung, the cheerful heroes rise,
And glowing ardour sparkles in their eyes.
With brandisht arms they wield the glittering spear,
And call the absent troops to try the promis’d war.
Amaz’d at what he saw, Silenus straight 110
Own’d to his friends the secret hand of fate:
“Do not,” said he, “the heavenly gift despise,
Or view your succour with ungrateful eyes.
Confess your chief, nor be asham’d to date
Your future life from this blest turn of fate, 115
When heaven Tobacco first to Bacchus shew’d,
And with fresh life your sinking souls renew’d.
For had the potent enemy alarm’d
Our fainting troops, by tort’ring thirst disarm’d,
Defenceless and dismay’d, we’ad lost the day, 120
To all their rage expos’d an easy prey,
Whilst the proud victors had the battle gain’d,
Boasting a conquest with their blood unstain’d.
Now, reinforc’d, we wish him to appear,
And try, on equal terms, the bloody war. 125
But yet, be cautious, and if age be wise,
For once an old man’s wary counsel prize.
Let each the heavenly gift with reason use,
Lest else he all its wondrous virtues lose.
Through the high stalk the crude consistence gives130 (solidity, firmness
A baneful tincture to th’ envenom’d leaves.
Forebear to chew; your spittle will diffuse
Pernicious ferments through the noxious juice.
But when ‘tis dried, the venomous vapour flies,
And healthful fumes from leaves enkindled rise. 135
Nor can I think the herb will ever give
(If into nature’s secrets we may dive)
Food for the belly; ‘tis the brain it clears
And, with its subtle exhalations, cheers.
Wherefore your eager thoughts, not teeth, employ, 140
With nicest search, its virtues to descry.
I’ll first attempt; do you, whilst I declare
What my mind dictates, with attention hear.
The well-dry’d leaves first crumble into seeds,
And with the fragments, fill your hollow reeds. 145
Then with your lips the adverse end embrace,
And light them by the sun’s collected rays.
The circling clouds of the warm smoke admit,
With expedition, to the seats of wit.
Its vinous spirits will refresh the brain, 150
Dispel the vapours and revive the man.”
He said, and straight the Satyrs all prepare
To fashion the round tube, with wondrous care.
Some rub the brown dry leaves; others receive
The dust in tubes and good diversion give: 155
Through haste, forget the fire they should have took,
Aand streams of dust, with mouths contracted, suck.
Straight their faint spirits coughs convulsive chafe,
And the queer din made even Silenus laugh.
No fire is near, now most its help they want, 160
When, lo, the old sage, mov’d by their loud complaint,
Took a thick glass he in his wallet had,
Which fist was by the wise Prometheus made.
(Prometheus, who to heaven did erst aspire,
And stole from thence his animating fire.) 165
“Here lies,” says he, “the hidden fire you need.”
And show’d the wonder-working glass with speed,
From whose thin edge a small ascent did rise
To the thick centre; this he soon applies
To the sun-beams, through which the pointed rays 170
Light on the reed. The heat by slow degrees
Advancing spreads, whilst streams of smoke expire,
The kindred signals of approaching fire.
The Fauns and Satyrs the invention praise,
And on their backs their sire triumphant raise. 175
A lighted pipe then first the chieftain took,
And in his mouth receiv’d the wondrous smoke,
Then to explore its virtues as it burns,
Through his sagacious nose the fumes returns.
Surpriz’d its sudden sweetness he perceiv’d, 180
Which with fresh force his feeble limbs reliev’d.
Just such a je-ne-sçay-quoi in wine we feel,
When genial draughts their mystic strength reveal.
Sharp thirst and pinching hunger now are fled,
And straining vomits pain no more his head. 185
Only a dizziness misguides his feet,
And on his forehead hangs a dewy sweat.
Unhurt, he yet rejoices still to find,
When these go off, no worser ills behind.
Then easy and extended in the shade, 190
By spacious leaves of lofty Paetum made,
The lagging hours in lightsome talk he spends
To ease their burden and amuse his friends.
Pleas’d, all the treasures of his mind he shows,
The hidden stores of nature to disclose: 195
How the bright orbs are rang’d in heavenly spheres,
And what contexture human bodies rears;
What wonders the earth’s fruitful womb contains,
To list’ning crowds the jocund sage explains,
Whilst from his tube the learned volumes rise, 200
Like odorous incense mounting to the skies.
The eager youth crowd round him, overjoy’d,
With their new pipes and fragrant fumes employ’d.
But they, unskill’d to draw the vapours in
And send ‘em through their nostrils back again, 205
Spew from their mouths the smoke, till coughs arise,
And sportful tears run trickling from their eyes.
But, by his wise example taught, they strive
To use their pipes alike and equal clouds to give,
When, lo, whilst thus reviv’d the jovial train, 210
In gamesome frolic, frisk it o’er the plain,
Their long-expected carriages appear,
With corn and wine, their necessary cheer.
With eager shouts they rend the echoing sky,
Convert their pipes to instruments of joy, 215
And with choice cates, their craving stomachs cloy. (food, usually delicacies
They’re pleas’d to see their carriages once more,
And on their chieftain’s ass their welcomes pour.
Then Ceres first her kind refreshments gives,
And bounteous Bacchus their faint souls revives. 220
They smoke, sing, dance, and revel, till black night
And heavy eyelids to soft sleep invite.
Soon as Aurora scatter’d the dull shade
And warn’d of war the troops supinely laid,
Brisk Bacchus and Silenus’ hoary age 225
Thus charg’d their spirits and rous’d their martial rage:
“Enough, my lads, enough of wine and joy.
Let blood and battles now your thoughts employ.
Your ancient terrors in your faces wear
And your dread arms for instant fights prepare. 230
Nor let your enemies the advantage gain
O’er careless soldiers straggling through the plain,
Lest unprepared to their fell force you yield,
And unreveng’d fall foully in the field.
My own experience has your valour try’d, 235
On which I always safely have rely’d.
Nor do my thoughts the least distrust declare,
Of what your souls, enur’d to battles, dare.
But ‘tis not safe to slight a coward foe,
And walk secure through lands we do not know. 240
Though ye range fearless, where ye go beware,
Lest old misfortunes should renew your care.
In close array well order’d let us move,
With cordials furnisht from the Paetum-grove.
Your mouths with well-charg’d pipes profusely warm. 245
Your hands with matches and with touchwood arm.
Thus shall your souls, ardent, to battles rise,
Whilst clouds of smoke shall blacken all the skies,
And with portentous fears, your enemy surprise.
Act like yourselves and hope impartial fame 250
Will, with your deeds, eternalize your name.”
He said; they all with shouts his words approve,
Fall in their ranks and regularly move.
Their general, in the midst, the bonny God,
High eminent on his lofty chariot rode. 255
With whom Silenus on his shaggy ass,
Fir’d with ambition, kept an equal pace,
Not strong for war, yet eloquent and wise,
In sudden dangers, safely to advise.
Drawn up in equal wings, the army stands, 260
And wishes the approach of hostile bands,
When straight from the next hill’s opponent height
Bright spears advance, preluding to the fight.
Then boiling blood enflames their raging ire,
And drums and trumpets rouse their martial fire. 265
Wine whets their spirits; their pipes their fears elude,
And clouds of smoke the scenes of death exclude.
Black exhalations settle o’er their heads,
And from their nostrils flashing fires proceeds.
The clouds roll o’er the plain in dreadful forms, 270
With lighnings fraught and threat’ning thund’ring storms.
Amaz’d, the frighted Indians quake for fear;
Not men they deem’d but devils did appear;
On such unequal terms the battle shun,
And dread with monsters to engage alone. 275
Part fling their arms away and frighted flee;
Others implore the victor’s clemency,
Which he more willing, than they ask, does give;
Their low submission takes and bids them live.
His easy yoke upon their necks they weigh, 280
And patiently his mild behests obey.
Yet their sad souls with shame and grief are tost,
To think what gross mistake their freedom lost,
That the thick smoke of burnt tobacco, sent
From hollow tubes, should so their fears augment. 285
But the blithe God a gentle sceptre sways;
Their sad reflections soothes, their griefs allays;
His gracious love alike to all extends,
And no distinction makes ‘twixt foes and friends.
The self-same day beholds both armies join, 290
To fight with weapons and to feast with wine.
Delicious draughts of gladd’ning fumes they quaff,
Entranc’d, their herb’s enthusiasm feel, and laugh.
Its knowledge loss of freedom does repay,
Chasing with clouds their cloudy cares away. 295
Tobacco thus to mortals Gods reveal’d,
Long by coy nature’s frugal care conceal’d.
Now all its latent uses, Muse, explore,
And equal to its tow’ring virtues soar.
The leaf, by heaven’s indulgence blest, contains 300
The various virtues of all herbs, and reigns,
Confest, the sovereign Panacea of the plains.
Strong hellebore, which to purge the head we use,
And gentle rhubarb, costiveness to loose;
The salutary balm, and sprightly vine, 305
And sav’ry beans, delicious to the swine,
With bugloss, that, like sack, the mind does cheer,
And poppies, us’d with sleep to ease our care;
Harmonious and improv’d are all found here.
Heaven in this seed its wisdom show’d to man, 310
Which, though so small, such virtues does contain.
Than finest sand it bears a lesser size,
Escapes the fingers and the keenest eyes;
Yet when adult, it spreads its leaf around,
With shady branches darkning all the ground; 315
A certain cure to desperate ailments found.
But if the secret causes you would know,
From whence these qualities united flow,
Great pains and toil will thoughtful hours require,
And your vain labour but augment desire. 320
Whether the different kinds of salt do give
Their various virtues to the wondrous leaf,
Or several qualities from one substance rise,
Diversify’d by texture, age, and size,
In nature’s womb conceal’d, a secret lies. 325
Yet, if you wander through the dubious maze,
And all its windings, by examples, trace,
The compound into elements dissolve,
And with due care each separate part revolve,
At length perhaps the mind will, quiet, rest, 330
Though not of truth, yet its near kin possest.
From savoury things the relish man receives,
He owes to salt, which tastes so different gives.
This salt, divided, still two natures bears:
The one, by fire unmov’d, to earth adheres — 335
Therefore call’d fixed; the other, by fire unbound,
Flies upward with the fume and scorns the ground;
Like soot, infects the summit of the still —
Hence by philosophers nam’d volatile.
With these the earth’s prolific bowels stor’d, 340
To inbred plants abundant food afford.
In various vessels the nutritious juice
Each kind receives, peculiar to its use.
From hence all fruit a different task receives,
And every flower a various odour gives. 345
But in her deepest chambers, earth enfolds
Sulphureous springs and nitre’s bitter cold;
The baneful arsenic, and brimstone dire, (sulphur
That bears a near alliance to the fire,
With mercury, in air resolvable, 350
Where also copperas, binding alum dwell,
And other elements, which communicate
To every thing the tastes we love or hate.
Of these first principles is brimstone found,
Predominant in tobacco to abound: 355
Fat, acid, clammy, rank, instinct with fire,
With nitre sublimate, with soot the fumes expire.
Who sees not here the wondrous plant display’d
Is void of sight or reason’s useful aid.
Which, if well-rubb’d, will with its juice defile 360
Your clammy hands and grease ‘em o’er like oil.
Its binding moisture heals the greenest wound;
Its salt old ulcers cleanses, that abound
With putrid filth, ‘gainst gangrenes sovereign found.
Its pungent taste the palate soon perceives, 365
Where quick diffus’d, a lasting heat it leaves.
Its vigorous scent, when sickly fumes are spread,
In heavy dullness, o’er the crazy head, (sickly, shaky
From the thick lethargy the mind does cheer,
Whilst wholesome sneezings the stopt nostrils clear. 370
By fire set free, the salts do upwards tend,
And to the soul’s high citadel ascend,
Scour every avenue, through which they hie,
To feed the spirits with a fresh supply;
Thence permeate the mazes of the brain, 375
Scatter the mists, and re-erect the man.
Thrice happy plant! of ever-honour’d birth!
The gift of heaven! and glory of the earth!
The country hinds, whom daily labours press, (A servant; esp., in late use, an
Thy strenth’ning virtues do with joy confess. 380agricultural labourer
By thee reliev’d, they bear the want of food,
And find their strength insensibly renew’d.
Thy rays the wise illumine and improve,
And indigestion’s clogging fumes remove.
If their minds falter, spent by too much thought, 385
And loose the fleet ideas, they had sought,
Whilst, uncontroll’d, utter oblivion rules,
A shapeless phantom, o’er their desert souls;
Soon as thy grateful fumes are spread by fire,
Black vapours and perplexing cares retire; 390
Invention brightens, and we now explore
The mechanism of things obscur’d before.
Well-order’d nature we again survey,
And in our minds the bright ideas play.
Oft have I seen the lawyer quake for fear, 395
(Dasht, ere he spoke before the crowded bar)
The well-rang’d heads of his wise speech confuse,
And all his matter and his utterance lose.
But if he flies to Paetum for relief,
The enkindled seeds their quick assistance give; 40o
His wand’ring thoughts return, his fears decay,
And by degrees his soul regains her sway.
Then unconcern’d, with spirits fresh refin’d,
He wisely utters what he well design’d.
So two logicians, singled out to fight,405
(Whom lust of praise or love of truth excite)
With pointed words impetuously engage,
And stretch the sinews of their learned rage.
Entangling quirks the subtle sophs devise,
With which to foil his enemy each tries, 410
Or bravely his antagonist o’erthrow,
With ponderous reasons pressing on his foe.
Around them, circling, crowd the youthful bands;
High eminent the umpire of the battle stands.
Their doubtful strength they equally admire, 415
Whilst frequent hums new arguments inspire.
Weary’d, at length, their ardent vigour’s gone,
And their faint efforts speak the battle done.
When, lo, if one the sacred vapours taste,
(As old Antaeus, when the earth he prest) 420
Fresh to the fight he rises, fierce assails
The combatant, and o’er his feeble foe prevails.
But if they both their spirits thus renew,
And with warm words the wavering war pursue,
With like advantage they maintain the fight, 425
And the dark issue grows upon the night.
Unwilling they to cease the wordy war,
Till the tir’d judge decides the dubious jar,
Pausing for whom the laurel to prepare,
When one can only have what both deserve to wear. 430
So, heretofore, of Aesculapius sprung,
Stout Podalyrius and Machaon young,
By Hercules egg’d on in fierce contest
For India’s plant their various thoughts exprest.
The elder of the two, with shrewd disguise, 435
Condemns the herb he inwardly does prize,
‘Gainst whom the younger, fierce contending, goes,
Whilst from his heart his unfeign’d passion flows,
And all his soul his honest words disclose.
The fumes, alternate, from the sprightly seed, 440
In their big minds sharp-pointed reasons breed,
Quick from their tongues the well-pois’d arguments fly,
Brandisht like javelins whizzing through the sky.
This way and that they bend their clamorous course,
Whilst doubtful fortune gives them equal force. 445
Nor is there in the battle any pause,
But what the draughts of pleasant Paetum cause.
By whose relief their slacken’d nerves new-strung,
The resolute heroes the debate prolong.
With furious friendship each invades his foe, 450
And brother fain his brother would o’erthrow.
Till the king, pleas’d with the unusual war,
By interposing, slackens its career.
Wisely their fierce contentions to assuage,
And quell the vigour of their growing rage. 455
So by its force did Paetum fall and rise,
And now its smoke provokes hostilities.
This frolic wit and dazzling words disguise
The plainest truths, obscur’d with strange uncertainties.
But me the schools perplexities too long 460
Have hinder’d hastening to the instructive song.
Assist, my Muse; the task requires thy skill,
The nature of the healing herb to tell:
With what complexions it will best agree,
Aand from what ailments set the body free, 465
Or what engender. This my muse shall try,
Soon as my medicinal pipe is dry,
And my brain furnisht with a fresh supply.
Enough, my pipe, enough of purest air
I’ve suckt. My dawning thoughts begin to clear;
My fancy glows, and does her beams display,
In lively colours to the rising day.
True to her word, my Muse shall pay the debt, 5
My Muse, too honest not the false to hate,
Who ne’er design’d with empty smoke to fill
The world, and with a vain endeavour swell,
Though now less fit Tobacco’s force t’explore,
Or, vigorous, with poetic raptures soar. 10
Old age draws near, old age, the Muse’s bane,
That pales the face and clouds with cares the brain,
And bids me now, at ease, my labours past
Review, and in the heavenly herb, sing out my last.
Ye Muses, tell the laws which Bacchus fram’d 15
To humanize the savages he tam’d.
The minds to tillage how he turn’d from war,
And harmless Paetum made their wholesome fare.
And how Silenus merrily explain’d
The various virtues which the herb contain’d. 20
Perhaps your verse may reach the monarch’s ear,
Whom the fierce nations of the North revere,
Tho, from the shades of your old fam’d resort,
Translates you to the splendours of his court.
If worthy such a patron be your verse — 25
Though he, at present, the rank herb abhors —
Yet, by your all-perfuming breath improv’d,
Among his sweets he’ll lay it up belov’d.
As on his throne the royal victor sat,
No hard oppression urg’d his subjects fate. 30
Each held his life, as his estate, secure,
Whilst the kind God a gentle sceptre bore.
Who, as a tyrant, wisht not to be fear’d,
Nor dreaded those, who his just laws rever’d.
His condescension gain’d his people’s love; 35
his clemency their morals did improve.
His sage instructions taught them how to live,
And reap the fruits, the labour’d earth should give.
Their land a savage race of monsters marr’d:
The lynx, the wolf, and nimble-footed pard; 40
Tigers and lions rov’d about the plains
To catch the grazing flocks or straggling swains,
Unheeded; for the men another care
Employ, intent on blood and mutual war;
With fire and sword to waste their neighbours’ fields, 45
To their fell souls superior pleasure yields.
With grief, the God their cruel gluttony sees,
And drowns their thirst of blood in love of peace;
Resolves to travel through their desert soil
Benign, nor thinks it an unworthy toil, 50
Their cruel chiefs to visit, soothe their hearts,
And sow their savage minds with liberal arts.
Attendants from this host he chose some few,
Whose wit and pleasant humour well he knew,
Yet who of flowing cups too free an use, 55
And idle life, and a desire too loose,
Hhad render’d impotent. But new supplies
Of strength from Paetan spirits did arise,
Mixt with pure air and wholesome exercise.
The blithe companions of their chieftain’s care, 60
Amphorias, Balanus, and Neander were,
Three merry blades. To whom three more were join’d,
By frolic nature sure for sport design’d:
Pelias one-ey’d, sagacious Idmon, fam’d
For a huge nose, with carbuncles enflam’d; 65
Next Trullus, strangely fearing to be jeer’d
For the thin honours of his shabby beard.
Behind them slyly sauntering Aper mov’d,
A pleasant fellow once, and once belov’d,
But by mischance grown deaf, he mop’d and mourn’d, 70
And order’d home, unwillingly return’d.
Not far, in caverns vast, Haematoes reigns,
Than whom more fierce none ravages the plains
To feast on mangled limbs of captive swains.
Here coop’d in stalls plump youths and children dwell 75
(But who the brutal butchery can tell?),
Whose cumbrous corpse, by fatt’ning pulse encreast,
Heighten the revels of a ravenous feast.
Hither advanc’d the train, with darts supply’d
And toils, with each his beagle by his side, 80
Whilst the shrill horn invades the distant skies,
In consort to the dogs’ harmonious cries.
Hard by, the tyrant’s darksome palace stood,
Dismal as grisly Pluto’s dire abode;
With hideous jaws the gloomy entrance gap’d; 85
The walls with ghastly piles of bones were heap’d,
Which to the ceiling their pale ranks uprear’d,
And like a plate of artichokes, appeared,
When through the stalk the genial marrow spreads,
And lifts aloft their horrid scaly heads. 90
It happen’d that the Lapithae prepar’d
A sumptuous banquet, worthy their regard
Of their chiefs’ birthday. From the stalls are freed
The fatted wretches, destin’d now to bleed,
When, at the noise the troop approaching made,
Plum’d with green boughs, tall Mulleus rais’d his head 95
From the dark cave, the hubbub on the plain
To see, but at the sight quick drew it in again.
A second and a third then came to view
The troop, and to the cave’s recesses, fearful, flew,
Forget, through haste, to barricade the door, 100
And make themselves against their foes secure.
Straight through the horrours of the unknown place,
With his stanch hound the frighted foes to trace,
Undaunted Idmon first advances. Next
The advent’rous youth, with mazy doubts perplext. 105
Through gloomy paths they pass, unless where light,
From a small crevice, through the cavern’s height,
With a faint glimmering of the sunny day,
Fevives their spirits and directs their way.
‘Midst of the train proceeds the reverend seer; 110
The wary God is safest in the rear.
At length, conducted by rank steams, they come
Where noisy bustlings warm a spacious room,
In which a kitchen’s fearful face is seen.
Here reeking cauldrons boil with heads of men; 115
On hazel spits, there, brawny buttocks roast;
And, at this fire, fat dripping shoulders toast.
These monstrous cookeries are their women’s care,
Who round their waist their tuckt-up garments wear.
Not far from hence, coop’d up like swine, there lay 120
Ten destin’d souls for some great holy-day,
Fat’ning for death, whom Bacchus as he past,
Bewail’d in tears, whilst with his dog he trac’d
The tyrant out. Close in his den immur’d
He lay, whom thus the God with gently words allur’d: 125
“Rise, Prince, and be accutom’d to the sight
Of your own race. We come not here to fight,
Or with your deaths to expiate your guilt;
Enough of blood already has been spilt.
Your ancient rites our pitying hearts forgive, 130
And with compassion mov’d, we bid you live.
If thirst of blood enflame your martial breast,
Let your fierce rage be spent on savage beasts.
Drive from your folds the ravenous lion far.
The spoiler punish, but your neighbours spare. 135
To feed yourselves with filthy viands scorn,
Nor think these trophies can your gates adorn.
The wolf ne’er makes the weaker wolf his food,
And tigers drink not fellow-tigers’ blood.
The lion, fiercest tyrant of the plains, 140
To fat himself with lion’s flesh disdains.
Cease then this baneful food; from face of day
These fragments foul to earth’s dark womb convey,
And brutal appetites subdue to reason’s sway.”
To this the sullen tyrant nought replies, 145
But, muttering, sternly rolls his angry eyes,
And, with reluctance, takes the God’s advice.
He bids his timorous slaves obey. With speed
Their food is chang’d and better cates succeed (food, delicacies
On their clean’d spits more sightly victuals broil, 150
With which kind chance rewards the huntsman’s toil:
The stag, the wild duck, and the fearful hare,
With the tuskt boar, made up the welcome fare.
On the low ground, his seat first Bacchus takes;
Silenus next; the third Hematoes makes, 155
(For time too short allows them not, with care,
For their new guests, a table to prepare).
Then the blithe train, unceremonious, lies,
Attendant on the God’s bold enterprise.
The places left the savage Picts possess. 160
Then Bacchus thus their hero does address:
“Blest by kind fortune, may you ne’er repine
That ere you join’d your faithful hands with mine!
May this our contract surer still unite,
And you abolish each inhuman rite. 165
By gentle methods wisely learn to live;
Follow the good examples, which we give,
And you, my brother, as the effect of love,
Our sudden visit and free talk approve!
This friendship may hereafter much avail,
Nor will your youth the benefit then bewail.
Be this the pledge, than which no greater hope.”
He says, and drinks of wine a brimming cup,
Which erst the lofty palm tree had bestow’d.
From whose cleft sides the pleasing liquor flow’d,175
And which, in well-fill’d bottles, near was stow’d.
Hematoes then (who us’d to quaff the blood
That from the veins of wretched mortals flow’d)
Down his foul paunch this sprightly nectar pour’d,
And then with windy belchings, beastly, roar’d. 180
His nose stops Idmon; Pelias sneering looks,
Whom Bacchus with a private nod rebukes.
Then to Hematoes thus himself applies
And with kind words allays his friends’ surprise.
“Nobly perform’d, brave man! Well, how d’ye find 185
this drink?” He grimly smil’d and utter’d thus his mind.
“From whatsoever throat it flow’d, ‘tis good.
A beardless youth scarce yields us better blood.
Had I another draught to taste again
I would not fear a brimming bowl to drain.” 190
“’Tis at your service, Prince, but yet beware,
Lest frequent cups your fame or health impair.
The strength you know not, which that blood does boast,
Nor ever shall, till at some other’s cost.
But, ah!, how little do you understand 195
The rich productions of your native land!
The tree, whose balmy bark, when wounded, pours
This grateful juice, supply’d by falling showers,
With noble pride adorns each neighbouring plain,
Purchast without or cost or mighty pain. 200
Its limbs extended for your axes grow,
Whence circling springs in endless tides will flow.
Then wisely turn to their first destin’d use
The various blessings that your fields produce.
Nourisht by them, no more esteem it fit 205
Or human blood to drink or human flesh to eat,
Or, serpent-like, in holes remote to lie,
Hid from the sun and every human eye,
Letting the light of nature in you die.
Your mien and shape and daring souls declare 210
You’re men, nor are you cowards in the war.
Then, why d’ye choose, within this gloomy place,
To hide these blessings and obscure your race.
Scarce is your kind discern’d in this disguise.
In your large heads are sunk your heavy eyes. 215
Ill suits your colour with your savage food,
Pale are your cheeks, although you’re fed with blood.
Your sizeless features no distinction shows, (presumably = “shapeless”; the OED’s
Wnd your swoln cheeks rise even with your nose, earliest citation of this word is 1874
That bladder-like, a shapeless face appears, 220
And from your temples drop the rotten hairs,
Whilst putrid lips and teeth, corrupted, show
The bad effects that from such diet flow.
Beneath your weight you sink, with pain you live,
And, as with burdens prest, your bosoms heave. 225
With tottering knees and heavy steps you move,
Nor have for healthy viands any love,
Cut on the ground, indulging sleep, delight
To’ allay the surfeit of the former night.
These noisome plagues in these close caves are bred, 230
Which no light cheers or wholesome gales pervade.
Or rather, sure, some just avenging God
Has o’er you shook his pestilential rod,
And, with your impious tables sore displeas’d,
Your weaken’d limbs with these sad ails, diseas’d. 235
Even now you suffer for your barbarous food,
And spew from your foul mouths th’ infectious blood,
That, thus advis’d, ye might these ills endure
No longer, without seeking for their cure.
But neither yet your good nor ill you’ve known, 240
So blind to your own interest are you grown.
Observe the smoke through this man’s nose expire
From dust, enkindled by the seeds of fire,
As from a chimney curling vapours rise,
And, with black clouds, infect the purer skies. 245
This dust was once a plant with ample leaves,
Which from a neighbouring isle its name receives,
Tabaca call’d. There the fam’d blessing grows,
With speedy remedy for all your woes.
Do you (whose hairs are white with reverend age, 250
In nature’s stores a well-experience’d sage)
The various uses of the herb reveal,
And how to apply it right, vouchsafe to tell.
The health they want to these poor creatures give,
And let them know, from you, what ‘tis to live.” 255
From his warm mouth his pipe Silenus took,
And turning to the God, thus humbly spoke:
“Great’s your command; yet willing I obey,
If worthy of your ears I ought can say.
But yet, ere I begin, my suit I make 260
To you, Hematoes, for my master’s sake.
Set from your stalls those sickly wretches free,
Whom, passing by, we did in fetters see,
And bless them once again with life and liberty.”
The chief consents, and the poor souls, unbound, 265
Creep slowly on and doubled to the ground.
Each in his face his sad misfortunes fears,
And, as his last, the day unwelcome fears.
To the great hall they’re led with looks obscene,
At which the sage could not from tears refrain, 270
And thus he cheers them: “Honest friends, revive;
Your future days with better fortune live.
Your lives are granted, and within this reed,
Your speedy cure, whene’er you will, lies hid.
And you, whose blood turns pickle in your veins, 275
Whose gouty legs are swell’d with searching pains,
Your blood-shot eyes (which scalding rheums o’erflow,
And your dull view confine) will weaker grow,
And, if assistance you refuse, be blind,
But from my art a perfect cure shall find.” 280
Then in his hat a cloud of smoke he blows,
With which the old man’s face he covers close,
Within the brims, dilates the biting fume,
And clears his eyes from the pernicious rheum.
Obediently the while he bears the pain, 285
Hoping from hence his former sight to gain,
Then washing with his tears his smarting eyes,
Around him, clearer, every object spies.
Now the light, freely, with a larger blaze,
Through his washt casements darts its brighter rays, 290
That on his doctor’s rugged nose, with ease,
He sees the ruby-like excrescencies.
For being askt, how many there he view’d
And of what colour, first their number shew’d
His held-up fingers; then he smil’d and said: 295
“Like our wood-strawberries, the bumps are red.”
The jest with all the God’s companions took,
And with the rest his sides Silenus shook.
Then, turning to the man, thus courteous said:
“Friend, you deserve the utmost of my aid. 300
From me, with lips contracted, learn to suck,
And, through your widen’d nostrils, vent the smoke.”
Straight he obeys, but soon its power perceives:
The house turns round and his sick stomach heaves;
Through every part the searching atoms spread, 305
His feet enervate, and confuse his head.
For on the floor he now unbidden lies,
Whilst from his stomach, nauseous crudities
In vomit flow, and the mixt, fulsome food,
He by constraint, coop’d up, before had chew’d. 310
“Your cure,” Silenus cries, “the vomit proves,
And the sad spring of all your pain removes.
This twice perform, when Phoebe’s chariot lies (the moon
In heaven’s high arch, obscur’d from mortal eyes,
And when her orb, renew’d, gives lustre to our skies. 315
(The humour’s moving then, and turgid swells
The moisture, springing from its secret cells.)
The fittest time, just after lightsome meals.
Thus when the cistern ceases to be foul,
The juices, purg’d, in purer channels roll, 320
Through every pore their nutriment diffus’d,
Strengthen the joints, to manly sports disus’d.
That you no more sharp pricking pains shall dread,
Or with white swellings have your joints o’erspread,
But with the nimblest Satyrs briskly run, 325
And at their revels lead their dances on.
Yet after all, should some small spice remain
Of sharpening humours and your wonted pain,
By these moist fumes you soon will be reliev’d,
Nor, as afore, have your dull senses griev’d. 330
“Nor are they only for the gout a cure;
O’er colic pains they have an equal power,
And twisted guts, when through the mouth they vent
The nauseous stinks, which else are downwards sent.
Large swellings in the head they soon appease, 335
And bid the ears their tingling music cease.
So shall they find the herb, whose constant love
Their wives’ invectives ‘gainst it can’t remove:
That it the relish of their kisses spoils,
And, nauseously, their clean-rubb’d floors defiles. 340
“Of ancient morals, nor yet too severe,
On a bleak winding shore, there dwelt a seer,
Where rag’d a new disease. For whosoe’er,
Unhappy, this infection us’d to share,
In their pierc’t bellies bore a grievous pain, 345
Whose cutting throbs would force them to complain;
Which soon as to th’ extremities it reacht,
The limbs all stiffen’d, as with cords tight stretcht.
O’er this the wit of men could naught prevail.
Their art and all their hopes together fail. 350
Among the rest, the seer this illness caught,
And for a cure Apollo’s aid besought.
The God in vain his wonted herbs apply’d;
The pain still rag’d and all his arts defy’d,
Till kinder fate, at length, prescrib’d a cure, 355
and by tobacco, heal’d the desperate sore.
He own’d the blessing, by whose constant aid
a healthful life, for many years he led.
Till then a cure he never could obtain;
The illness stopt awhile, would rage again, 360
And in his trembling joints, revive the searching pain.
By the pure steam the salts obtus’d, with ease,
Glide through the nerves, and the sharp prickings cease.
“So at the root of an old tooth decay’d,
When from foul humour, gnawing pains are bred, 365
When the hot gums, with frequent throbbings, ache,
And swell the shining surface of the cheek —
Just like the ape’s, when nuts, cramm’d thick within,
Fill his wide jaws and stretch the yielding skin.
In your clos’d mouths, awhile, the smoke contain; 370
The swelling ‘twill allay, and soon remove the pain.
From other plagues, which saltish humours breed,
By help of this, th’ afflicted body’s freed,
When from the brain distil the hurtful steams,
That on the bellows pour the falling streams 375
(Whose motion, still, preserves the feeble frame,
Fanning with gentle blasts the vital flame).
In the mid space condens’d, abroad they’re borne,
Before the membrane of the lungs is worn.
For surfeits or the mumps, if right apply’d, 380
Or dizzy swimmings, that our feet misguide,
With the dry sounding nose, that threatens rheum,
Relief is sure from the all-healing fume,
If prudent care, in time, the med’cin tries,
Ere the strong ailment all its power defies. 385
“When in the hidden parts diseases reign,
(Which thought still helps to aggravate the pain),
Whether the straining gravel’s nitrous tides
Cut the canals, through which the urine glides,
Or whether, loos’d, the passage open lies 390
Through which the stream, behind, impetuous flies. (i. e., diarrhea
Hence hope a cure for both, you, who complain
When frequent on the pot you sit with pain,
And you, whose pangs Prometheus well express,
Whilst horrid prickings your sad woes increase. 395
No poet’s dreams, the truth I tell, obscure,
Who lately did myself these ills endure,
Gill Paetum’s leaf engag’d my eyes and thought,
Which all its hidden virtues, curious, sought.
While young (for now I freely may confess) 400
I was too much addicted to excess,
When Bacchus and his Satyr’s jovial crew,
From reason’s sway, my inclinations drew.
From evil habits, o’er my body spread
Deep running sores and various ills were bred, 405
Which that I once have felt, is not amiss,
Though to have cur’d ‘em for more useful is.
And at my own expense grown wise, I joy,
For others’ health, my knowledge to employ.
But since the body, from sad ails to clear, 410
And keep good habits, asks an equal care,
Be cautious and to use it learn from me;
For all things won’t, alike, with all agree.
“The herb, as poison, naturally some
Abhor, and swoon with its strong scent o’ercome. 415
It meets from others a too rash neglect,
The common fate all novelty must expect —
Only because their sires in former times
(When wiser men were free from later crimes)
Led healthful lives, by heaven’s indulgent grant, 420
Ere to the world was shown the useful plant.
Let both of these abstain; for ‘tis not right,
‘Gainst nature and her steady laws to fight,
Nor yet, to make men wise against their will,
And their weak minds with better reasonings fill. 425
“Who loves the draughts, let wisdom not allow
Continually to blame what others do.
And rail at those who cannot love them too.
Some take their pipe as others take their glass,
Lest they should not for boon-companions pass. 430
Whether ‘tis good or bad, the thing’s the same;
Such clownish bashfulness deserves our blame.
For, be assur’d, tobacco’s fumes bestow
Sickness or health; then learn yourselves to know.
Your constitutions thoroughly descry, 435
And, if they can admit them safely, try,
Lest the too powerful draughts your health destroy.
“The man whose head with a large front is round,
Whose brawny shoulders with fat flesh abound,
Whose limbs are strong, and stomach open spread, 440
And in whose mouth great store of moisture’s bred,
May safely oft the useful draughts repeat
With blest indulgence, as he thinks most fit,
And eyes th’ advantages he thence may get.
But let the lean of such repasts beware, 445
Who have long scraggy necks, which lofty bear
A narrow front and a round little head,
And from whose hollow cheeks the flesh is fled,
Whose bony breasts, pincht up, in ridges lie,
And whose thin sounding nostrils are too dry. 450
For as in such, of spirits a lesser train
Flow from their great receptacle, the brain,
So mixing with the fume, they soon decay,
Like the sun’s heat o’erpower’d in a thick misty day.
When such the dangerous pipe, imprudent, take, 455
Their wearied limbs seek rest, their joints all weak,
As loos’d by crazy age, each morning shake.
Their fainting spirits with dullness are o’ercome,
And their long day unhealthful naps consume.
But if besides a rosy colour’s flush 460
On their pale cheeks imprints a settled blush;
If coughs consumptive shake the tender frame,
And quick-snatch’d breath scarce feeds the vital flame;
Such, I advise, the noxious fumes to fly;
Leave their warm pipes and jovial company, 465
Lest for their pleasures they too dearly pay,
And smoke and revel their short lives away.
Their lungs enflam’d corruptive matter breed,
And in the heart, a wasting fever feed.
Yet if the pipe they still so much approve, 470
That better reason yields to blinded love,
Let them the colt’s-foot’s healthier fumes exhale,
Which o’er the illness may in time prevail.
For colt’s-foot’s temperate heat will not increase
The raging fire, but gently by degrees, 475
Dry the foul humour up and stop the sore disease.
Lastly, if any secret wasting grow
From causes which in vain we strive to know,
Whether the plague, through all the body spread,
Infects each part, or, gathering to a head, 480
Will shortly to a violent fever turn,
Or, with a raging fire, your bowels burn—
Against such hurtful pleasures wisely arm,
And shun, ah!, shun the sweet enticing charm.
The warm enjoyment, though ‘tis hard, forbear, 485
And, lest you hasten your own deaths, beware.
“Whene’er the boiling blood’s impetuous tide
Bursts a thin vein, profuse on every side,
And threatening death, foul vomiting creates,
and with free passage opens the back-gates; 490
Whate’er the fates your doubtful lot ordain,
From the pernicious steams, awhile, abstain.
For hence the vomitings more frequent grow,
And turgid streams of blood impetuous flow,
Till the supports of life at last decay, 495
By the unbounded torrents swept away.
“But an objection in my way is thrown,
Which seems to pull my late-built fabric down.
For if the drowsy herb to sleep inclines,
And sleep with kindly chains the passage binds, 500
Unjustly we the healing draughts traduce,
Which, if apply’d, would be of certain use.
Kindly the admonition I receive,
Nor, to unfold this difficulty, grieve.
Let those that may thus artfully object, 505
On what I taught, but carefully reflect.
Against that fort, their powerful batteries rear,
And their imagin’d strength will soon appear.
For as the salts, which through the compound run,
Like a sharp goad, spur tardy nature on, 510
So the sulphureous sleepy steams restrain
And curb its fury with a gentle rein.
But as unruly coursers, once let loose,
Bound o’er the plain and the hard bit refuse;
So when the swashing driver violent flies,515 (slashing with great force, in attempting to
And all our art to curb its rage defies,curb the horse
Each small incentive still augments the bane,
Which once let loose, ‘tis difficult to restrain,
And greater ills from such a motion flow,
Than all the sad restraints of nature know. 520
So hard it is to time things right, discern
Their proper use, and different natures learn!
Virtue and health thus keep an equal poise,
Too much or yet too little, each, destroys.
“What’s better than the grape’s delicious juice? 525
And yet even that has not a general use,
Nor every hour revives the heavy soul.
Sad death sometimes lurks in the sparkling bowl.
Sometimes too large a draught does madness raise,
Or fast asleep unactive reason lays, 530
Whilst heaven’s bright lamp rolls o’er th’ ethereal plain,
And to its rising east returns again.
Meanwhile, unless this surfeit is allay’d,
The drunkard dies, or is imagin’d dead.
“As once, great Bacchus, at thy sacred feast, 535
With wine and sleep Adonis fell, opprest.
The sorrowing Satyrs thought their fellow dead,
And low in earth his stretcht-out carcass laid.
Next day, the corpse dug up, besmear’d with blood
And brains, the signs of life recover’d show’d, 540
Though, struggling with his legs and arms ‘gainst death,
In the close chest, he beat out his own breath.
But who can such a sad objections raise,
To blast the salutary bowls we praise?
By which unhurt the mind still keeps its sway, 545
Though many ills may threaten its decay.
“When the full board with frequent cups is crown’d,
And healths in bumpers take the jovial round,
Whoever rashly dares the rights profane
Of mirth, and riot and excess maintain, 550
Lest he, regardless, share the drunkard’s fate
(A muddled brain and an unsteady gait),
Let him but take the medicinal reed,
And mix with wine’s, tobacco’s purer seed.
With looks compos’d he shall the banquet leave, 555
And his clear thoughts a ready utterance give,
Whilst, of the charm unknowing, all the rest
Shall roll their aching eyes, with sleep opprest,
Unsteady walk, ridiculous their gait,
And mirth in all observant eyes create. 560
For the bland vapour quenches and allays
The raging fire, wine’s sharper spirits raise.
Nor let, great Bacchus, that your envy gain,
By which your favourite vines more praise attain.
No greater sympathetic virtue has 565
The loadstone to attract its kindred mass
Than is between tobacco and the vine,
Of most advantage when their steams they join.
“The plant, on man by bounteous heaven bestow’d,
Is, like the slaughter’d swine, all over good; 570
For purg’d by fire, the ashes that remain
From the nauseous scurf the yellow teeth will clean
Whiter than falling showers of winter’s frozen rain.
Its smoke, a thing unknown in former days,
Your orders not t’ evaporate obeys. 575
Through your clos’d lips then strain the thick’ning fumes,
And in your hand a yellow ointment comes,
Of use peculiar to the tender maid,
O’er whose chapt hand an itching tetter’s spread.
It heals and smoothes the pimpled running sores, 580
And to its native white the flesh restores.
Yet her reviving beauty costs her dear,
For, through the skin diffus’d, the piercing air
Shakes her sick heart, her stomach-bands unbinds,
And gives a passage to unsavoury winds. 585
Her youthful friends sport at her present pains,
Whence health returning swells her rising veins,
And beauty, re-enthron’d, destructive power maintains.
“Its blessings all explor’d, I’ll next declare
What harms may from its use mankind deter, 590
Which, whether really true or false they be,
In a short view you presently shall see.
The steam, some say, that to the brain ascends
To the destruction of the fancy tends,
With black oblivion breaks th’ ideal chain, 595
Confounds the rays of wit, and vanquishes the brain.
A heinous crime! But what base calumny
Has only feign’d, or good simplicity—
It is not so, because it cannot be.
For since the mind immortal essence shares, 600
And, sprung from heaven, unbody’d substance wears,
It can’t be subject to those various ills,
Which, but too oft, the grosser body feels.
Indeed sometimes the ill which that endures
The actings of the mind, awhile, obscures; 605
Yet all that time the mind itself remains
Uninjur’d and her wonted sway maintains,
Whose useless beams, though darksome shades confine,
Yet, unobserv’d, with inward lustre shine.
So when the rays of bright Apollo’s star 610
Are intercepted by his sister’s car,
Or when his face with some thick cloud is veil’d,
A while he wanders from our eyes conceal’d.
Yet all that while, th’ unsully’d orb is bright,
And worlds of stars receive its spreading light. 615
Nought stains the heavenly mind but its own vice,
Whence luxury and vain desires arise,
Feeble inconstancy, and boundless ire,
Which dull the brain and choke up reason’s fire,
The useful stores, it once laid in, displace, 620
Confound their order and their names erase.
For it retains what only, in review,
May a fresh sense of grateful joys renew.
“For every one that smokes, I’ll instance ten
Of those who from the sober draughts abstain, 625
That where their bags of money lie forget,
Or what is ow’d them from another’s debt,
Or their kind mistress’s frequented gate,
Whose very names are to themselves unknown,
And even the work they yesterday had done. 630
Nay yet even more, what they acquir’d when young,
The useful elements of their mother tongue.
Doubtless some poison or fierce fever’s heat,
Or sudden, dangerous, apoplectic fit,
Or raging fires, that hoary heads engage 635
To reap the pleasures of their youth in age
Cause this disorder in th’ affected brain,
And to his infant state reduce the man.
Nor can the soul, its seat once ruin’d, stay,
But to its kindred skies directs its way. 640
“But if tobacco’s steams the mind annoy
And its retentive faculty destroy,
Why should the learn’d and wise the plant approve
And court their honour’s ruin by their love?
Who by their prying reason have attain’d 645
To whate’er human wisdom can pretend,
Whose chief delight is such observes to hoard (observations
As to the soul may health and peace afford
And to the list’ning crowds unfold the store,
They cautiously had treasur’d up before. 650
“But buxom dames thus mournfully complain
That the chaste seeds love’s pleasing rage restrain,
As agnus-castus, their aversion, coy,
And disappoints the hasty lover’s joy—
A female ill, for men would rather praise 655
What the career of this fierce passion stays.
Nor do the murmuring sex but now complain;
Their hatred of the sleepy charm began
When first love’s goddess did her isles forbid,
Cyprus and Paphos, to import the weed, 660
Whose chilling nature might with hemlock vie,
O’erthrow her worship, and her rites destroy.
For at a banquet of the powers above,
When you, Twice-born, reveal’d the leaf to Jove,
Which, first discover’d in this happy soil, 665
Crown’d with success your more than mortal toil,
Jove smil’d and first a reed ethereal took,
In which a God might well vouchsafe to smoke.
His great example fires the deities,
From whose wide nostrils curling clouds arise, 670
End, Etna-like, obscure the azure skies.
Each goddess, pleas’d, the novelty admires,
The clouds of smoke and leaf consuming fires.
But sleepy bridegrooms and a joyless night,
On the chaste plant their quick revenge incite. 675
With one consent they banish it their heaven,
And vow Thessalian rites should thence be driven.
When soon as ere, next day, the herb appears,
And each immortal his long reed prepares,
Enrag’d, bright Venus to the table flies, 680
Seizes the prey, and hurls it from the skies,
Whilst wond’ring gods admire what cause could move
Such fury in the gentle Queen of Love.
Thus Venus rag’d, but Jove’s great daughter fair,
Who chases o’er the lawns the bounding deer, 685
The warrior virgin and the tuneful Nine,
To gather up the scatter’d reliques, join,
And beg that Bacchus new supplies would grant
To them of their chaste vow-assisting plant.
“A mighty scandal, sure, that it the rage 690
Should of fierce passion and mad lust assuage,
The maid’s nice honour, chastity, maintain,
Give vigour to the limbs, and empire to the brain.
For it, like gallow-grass, pernicious weed,
Does not the joys of mutual love forbid, 695
Or like the water-lily’s baneful cold,
The blessings of the teeming womb withhold.
Perhaps it may abate the number, yet
Love, so restrain’d, does this advantage get:
A beauteous issue, though not quite so great. 700
A blessing this, when the poor labouring swain
Has not a numerous family to maintain,
Or when the state brave spirits rather grace
Than a large, rude, unthinking populace.
Even youth and age itself, by means of thee, 705
Blest herb, preserve a wise frugality,
Whilst thy pure fumes allay lust’s early rage,
And the warm glowing ember’s heat assuage,
Like water, cool and temperate the fire,
Calm the fierce passions of ill-tim’d desire, 710
And the whole world, by its chaste, gentle charm,
From this mad epidemic vice reform.
“Nor yet, ye matrons, the cold herb refuse;
In your misfortunes too it has its use.
When the unsettled womb its bounds defies, 715
And through its fence a passage upwards tries,
Or swell’d with wind, the lights, disorder’d, rise, (the lungs
‘Twill sooner press each to its wonted seat
Than a large pig of lead or two men’s weight.
“Besides, th’ all-fruitful earth, except the vine, 720
For age no better dainty can assign,
Whether decaying nature’s fresh supplies,
From cherishing the inbred moisture, rise,
Or mingling with the brain the warm allay
Drives all the senses’ enemies away. 725
It drains the scalding rheum from wat’ry eyes,
And the nose, dull’d with too much moisture, dries,
Till from a sprightlier sense the man grows wise.
Besides th’ ungrateful music in the ear
Is silenc’d by the penetrative air, 730
So that the mind, far more distinctly, hoards
The wise man’s reasonings and instructive words,
Whilst sweet discourse beguiles the tedious day
And makes the irksome hours seem short and gay.
“Whoe’er, with aching bones and sleepless nights, 735
Pays for his youth’s immoderate delights,
Here also may receive a quick relief,
which will an end to his just sufferings give.
The friendly steam that spread through every vein
Shan’t only ease the violence of his pain, 740
But with delightful dreams contract his night,
And lively objects set before his sight.
Not such, with which black melancholy’s height—
Lentils or onions, beans and peas—affright.
Whoe’er on henbane or strong garlic feeds, 745
Or banewort, deadly all and poisonous weeds,
Shall in his sleep with great perplexity
Strange shows and various sorts of phantoms see,
Which aren’t in nature nor will ever be:
Foul Harpies, swimming on the treacherous main; 750
Huge Centaurs, flying through th’ ethereal plain;
Thick troops of dragons from the earth arise;
And devils breathing fire amidst the skies.
Now, in a sudden storm, he struggling seems
Just buried in the sea’s outrageous streams, 755
When panting midst the troubled waves he swims
And plies with vigorous strokes his active limbs.
Now, whilst he headlong rolls from a steep rock
Into the sea, it echoes with the shock.
Now, set upon by thieves, his life’s at stake. 760
Now, a fierce boar from his strong hold does bread,
Whets his huge tusks, and runs at him amain.
For help he cries aloud, but cries in vain,
Then sighs till fear at last his slumber breaks,
And in the very jaws of death he wakes. 765
Amaz’d, he scarce believes it but a dream,
And a cold sweat bedews each trembling limb.
“But with far different sights our night is blest,
When Paetum’s fumes compose our happier rest.
A natural scene then rises to our view, 770
Or what our inclinations most pursue.
For every man’s particular delight
Or business of the day returns at night,
Nor show the objects to his doubting eyes
Uncertain, as fair Phoebe’s silver rise 775
Through vapours spreading o’er the eastern skies,
But to his sense so vividly appear
That what he sees, he fancies really are.
The decent orator his gesture frames,
And with his speech th’ attentive ear inflames. 780
Oft in his sleep the thoughtful poet writes
What the next morning clearly he recites.
‘Tisso with others too, who can’t believe
That dreams such lively images should give,
Or that cold death and sleep can be the same, 785
Which are akin, no nearer than by name.
“These fumes, not like the deadly poppy, bind
In iron chains the dull, unactive mind,
Or like the doubtful hemlock’s influence
In slender fetters captivate each sense, 790
Which neither suffers us to wake or sleep,
But in a gentle doze the soul entranc’d does keep.
So Baucus and the partner of her bed,
Having by chance on the curst herbage fed,
Which from the fields they dug and by its look,
For parsnip’s leaf or the known parsley took. 795
On a low bed their wearied limbs reclin’d,
Whence not awake nor yet to sleep resign’d
They rose, the woman first, and next the man,
And naked round their little hovel ran,
Moved by a strange delirium. In their way 800
Though cumbrous logs of new-fell’d timber lay,
‘Gainst which much bruis’d, they both to bed repair,
And screen their bodies from the piercing air.
But whoso sleep from Paetum’s leaf invite
Enjoy the pleasure of a quiet night. 805
Wakeful they rise and early the next morn
To their accustom’d business, fresh, return—
If ‘tis the best they take, which no deceit
Or art by baser mixture, counterfeit.
For the same good not all tobacco yields. 810
The generous growths that purest grace the fields
Bear a rough, brownish leaf that shades the ground,
Whose grateful odour spreads itself around
Like violets, or the root in fair Etruria found.
And like the wary beaver’s-stone it tastes; 815
Or strong asphaltus, as by fire it wastes.
“The smaller sort, like what fresh autumn yields
In warm Virginia or Bermuda’s fields,
Fit only for your slaves. Reject the bane,
Which hurts the eyes and stupefies the brain. 820
Who tastes of this shall find a heavy sloth
Hang on his limbs and gaping stretch his mouth,
And by the fire (unless sharp hunger’s pains
Rouse up the wretch and break dull Morpheus’ chains),
Stretcht out at ease, he’ll listlessly delight, 825
Till day draws near, to snore away the night.
Ye sacred offspring of the Nine, who pore
Watchful on books for wisdom’s precious ore,
Taste not, but seize the ill-attempted cheat,
And to the flames the huckster’s hopes commit. 830
“Some mix the odorous goat’s pernicious gore
With the choice traffic brought from India’s shore,
Which some with fennel, or fat anise juice,
Or the more common copperas, abuse.
Each on the tongue a grateful sweetness leaves 835
Such as the sugar-cane of Libya gives;
Pernicious though, whoever would pretend
By art deficient nature to amend.
Unless he well consults her sage advice,
Vain is his labour, which her work destroys. 840
But yet, if you would aggrandize its praise,
In the full pipe a little aloes place.
‘Twill scent the whole, and through the hollow cane
Convey refreshing odours to the brain.
“These draughts must too be carefully withstood 845
Just after meals of undigested food.
The loaded stomach, else, its work fore-goes,
And half-masht morsels down its channel throws,
wWhich pain the belly, rouse a rumbling wind,
Unfit ye for the pleasing hours assign’d 850
For thought or toil, and prey upon the mind.
How you, uncover’d, in the open air
Or in an empty chimney smoke, beware!
‘Tis hurtful, for the cold athwart the skin
Cuts the wide pores and penetrating in, 855
Weakens the tender fibres of the head,
Whence heaviness and shivering pains are bred.
“Nor must ye without intermission know
This pleasure only and luxurious grow,
Stuffing beyond a due regard the brain; 860
Alternate cups a better health maintain.
Alternate numbers, too, the Muses prize,
And cautious nature from a surfeit flies.
Soon as the muddled head begins to swim,
The warning take and urge no more the steam. 865
But should it last, a draught of table beer
Will soon relieve you, or the cooling air.
A little art the tumult will allay,
And the approaching danger, gently, stay.
With caution use the plant, and soon as ere 870
You know what portion your head best can bear,
Within the bounds prescrib’d securely run,
Nor further urge the dangerous pleasure on.
And know that whosoe’er these rules obeys
Shall wisely crown with health his happy days.” 875
Thus sung the jocund sage. The while around
Tthe list’ning heroes, seated on the ground,
Their due respect in close attention paid
To what the well-experience’d chieftain said.
Instructed in its virtues, still they want 880
A fresh recruit of the all-healing plant:
Their barren lands to know how to prepare,
And from the seed a progeny to rear.
But spent with thirst and more inclin’d to rest,
His broken accents scarce his thoughts exprest. 885
A swinging draught he took, then snoring loud,
Fell fast asleep, amid th’ expecting crowd.
Yet, asking leave, we purpose to go on,
Though tir’d, to finish what the sage begun,
And to its lovers faithfully explain 890
How best to cultivate the useful grain.
If ere you hope a plentiful increase
Should crown your harvest and your labours bless,
Let the fat seed (which generous sprouts produce,
Whose thick, long leaves abound with healthy juice; 895
Not slips, that from the middle sickly shoot,
But what spring up immediate from the root)
Be your first care. The next, a proper soil,
Whose products amply may reward your toil.
Your poor, mean ground scarce keeps the plant alive, 900
Which in a hearty glebe can only thrive,
Such as the vine requires. A hilly ground
And fields where Phoebus spreads his beams around,
Bespeak your choice; where the earth’s lightly spread,
Not where the heavy marl resists the spade, 905
Nor where the clay binds up the mould, nor yet
A mossy ground, or where the soil is wet.
And if a plenteous harvest be your aim,
Though the land’s good, yet sow not twice the same.
For the first growth its mother’s strength destroys, 910
Whose barren womb a second race denies.
Seek other ground, and by th’ insatiate guest
Let a new place be, every year, possest,
While wrapt in ease the wearied furrow lies
And fat’ning dung recruits of strength supplies. 915
Of such a soil possest, then be your care
For the rich seed’s reception to prepare.
The earth in rows at proper spaces bore,
And in each hole fling three small grains or more,
So that, alike, each future leaf may share 920
An equal vigour from the genial air.
But if by chance some fall to mice a prey
Or moles that mine through earth their gloomy way,
Or if your gain’s in some few husks supprest,
Yet hope a good return from all the rest. 925
If plenty smiles luxurious on the year,
And thronging stalks each other’s growth impair,
Soon as from earth the frequent nations rise,
Practise the wary Thracian cruelties.
Their numbers thin, and in the mourning cleft, 930
Let only one of many roots be left,
Which in a larger space may better thrive,
And from its nurse’s breast full nourishment derive.
But when the earth in its due season gives
Strength to the stem and rankness to the leaves, 935
The sprouts superfluous round the bottom lop,
That better health may flourish at the top,
Which, for its goodness prais’d, the rest shall shame,
And as its right the palm in justice claim.
Yet hasten not your harvest, ere the time. 940
The generous vintage glories in its prime
Soon as the seed assumes a darker shade,
And the bright-colour’d leaves begin to fade.
Then let your tools and sickles be prepar’d,
And of your labour reap the just reward. 945
Implore a season may befriend your gain,
For the broad leaves no more can wet sustain
Than the ripe grape’s, September’s drizzling rain.
Then mow the field. So half your toil expires;
Yet what remains an equal care requires. 950
For all your nice endeavours have been vain—
Th’ advantage of the soil and precious grain—
Unless with diligence ‘tis managed right
That its appearance please, at last, the sight.
Here then two things observe: the herbage dry, 955
Lest the moist leaves should, stinking, putrefy,
Which from the heat that in the oil lies hid,
To mollify the taste, must next be freed.
And lest the sun, exhaling, should consume
Its spirituous life, in a wide, airy room, 960
Hung on a string, let the leaves dry awhile,
Which after, on the floor together, pile,
That so the heat, below collected, may
An equal virtue through the heap convey.
Thus laid, at first they’ll flow with pregnant heat, 965
Then swell in every part, and reeking sweat,
And, if not pull’d asunder, fire the room,
Like new-made hay, ere dry’d enough, brought home.
Disperse the leaves, and hang them up, and then
Strow them in heaps about the floor again. 965
Nor from your labour start, but persevere, (flinch, recoil
Till you no more the former danger fear,
Whilst the warm vapours all their strength diffuse
Through every pore and fit the leaves for use.
But to do this, a wise experience needs, 970
Tor nature in a medium best succeeds.
Too little or too much alike is bad,
Yet soon a cure for either may be had.
Not from sweet honey or the steams of wine,
Much less from nauseous chamber-lye or brine (urine 975
(Such as to make it smell the huckster tries,
Who more than other’s health its scent does prize)
But from itself a safer help demand.
From those few leaves which erst escap’d your hand
Press the green juice, and let them in a pot 980
Froth up a foam awhile, and keep them hot.
Plac’d in a vat with these, the damag’d ware
Will soon its feeble strength, with youth, repair.
This shall suffice. Now haste the ships away
To distant climes, the blessing to convey. 985
With wealth, the vintage shall the farmer bless.
Its custom king’s revenues shall increase
And raise the merchant’s gain. The doctor sees
From hence perhaps a less’ning of his fees,
Bewails a healthy year, and hopes in vain 990
A sickly autumn and his wonted gain.
Perhaps too from the gallows it bestows
A banquet now and then for rav’nous crows
When idle sots to purchase it agree,
Uunmindful of approaching penury. 995
Who idly busied, thus misspend the day,
And careless puff their precious hours away.
But whilst the frugal and the sober too
Hence health receive, let the unthinking crew
Meet the just fate they eagerly pursue. 1000
May those the blessing want, who health refuse,
Vut not be able to destroy its use!
He (whom a chancery-suit, the bane of life,
A ship at sea, or an unruly wife,
A pressing dun, or violent disease 1005
Deprives of sleep and robs his mind of ease)
Shall, where he owes his sweet refreshments, own,
And in return, the leaf’s deserts make known.
Whate’er invectives any one may frame
Against the herb to prejudice its name, 1010
To rolling seas and winds we shall commit,
Nor here the senseless ribaldry repeat.
But if a lover of the truth there be,
Who cannot with our sentiments agree,
Let him, with reason, manage the dispute, 1015
And, if he can, our arguments confute.