Satires of Horace - Satire 2.4

" From whence arriv'd, and where away
Good Catius?" — " Sir, I cannot stay —
In haste some maxims to set down,
Form'd to out-rival the renown
And works of Plato's learned ease,
Pythagoras and Socrates" —
" I own myself a little rude,
At such a juncture to intrude
With interruptions indiscreet;
But pardon me, I do intreat.
If any thought you lost, you'll find,
So great the presence of your mind,
Whether 'tis nature, or mere skill,
You're great in both, a wit at will."
— " But I am lab'ring might and main,
How I might every thing retain,
As matters to refinement wrought,
Both in the diction and the thought" —
" The name of him you thus applaud,
Is he of Rome, or from abroad?" —
" The author's rules shall be reveal'd,
Which I can do; his name conceal'd.
Eggs that are oblong, pray observe,
Are better at a feast to serve,
As being more delicious found,
And likewise whiter than the round;
Besides the toughness of the skin,
Premises a male-yolk within.
The greens that grew in drier land,
Are sweeter far than those at hand.
In over-water'd gardens shoot
The flashy and insipid root.
If on the even-tide a guest
Comes unawares — why then 'tis best
(Lest the tough hen for want of youth
Offend his palate and his tooth)
Live in mix'd wine her body steep —
All this is learning very deep.
The meadow mushrooms are the best:
I cannot warrant all the rest.
His summers he in health shall spend,
Who of his dinner makes an end
With mulberries of blacker die,
Gather'd before the sun's too high.
Aufidius with Falernian wine
Mix'd honey — wrong — as I opine:
Because on empty veins 'tis fit
Th'emollient only we commit.
With more propriety indeed
You'll wash your stomach with soft mead.
If you are costive, in that case
Limpins and cockles shou'd have place,
With sorrel leaves of smaller make,
Which with white Coan you shou'd take.
The waxing moons, to th'utmost wish,
Fill out the lubricating fish.
But every sea is not alike
Productive of the sorts that strike.
The Lucrine muscles far exceed
The burret of the Baian breed.
Circean oysters win the prize;
Crabs at Misenum best arise:
But your escallops spreading wide,
Are soft Tarentum's boast and pride.
Let none presumptuously suppose,
The table-decking art he knows,
Unless he weigh with previous care
The laws of taste — a nice affair.
Nor is't enough to clear the stall
Of high-pric'd fishes great and small,
Unskill'd which sort to stew is right,
And which when roasted will invite
The gutler, that has over-eat
Himself, to re-assume his seat.
The Umbrian boar with acrons fed,
Which from the scarlet oak are shed,
The dishes of that person bend,
Whose palate flabby meats offend.
For poorly the Laurentian feeds,
As fatted up with flags and reeds.
A connoisseur will be aware,
To chuse the wings of pregnant hare.
Of fowl and fish the sorts and age,
Tho' studied much by many a sage,
Has not as yet been fully known,
But by my skill and taste alone.
Some men exhaust their time and taste
In new inventions upon paste.
'Tis not worth labour to discuss
Upon a single point, as thus,
Shou'd a man merely rest on this,
That his wine may not drink amiss,
Careless what oil he shou'd supply,
When he has any fish to fry.
Shou'd you put out the Massic wine,
(The weather being very fine)
If it be foul, the air by night
Will make it clear, and banish quite
That smell bad for the nerves — but drawn
And filtred thro' a sieve of lawn,
'Twill all its zest intirely lose.
He, who shall skillfully infuse
To wine of Surrentinian kind,
The right Falernian lees, will find
That he can best collect the dregs,
By making use of pidgeon's eggs;
Because the yolks, as they descend,
Will make the grosser parts attend.
With roasted shrimps, and cockles live
From Afric's coast you may revive
The weary toper — for when sour'd
With too much wine, and over-pow'r'd,
Lettuce will on the stomach rise,
Which seeks the rather for supplies
From sausage, ham, or any thing
Which from the slattern-shops they bring.
You'll find 'tis far from any loss
Of time, to learn two kinds of sauce.
The plain is made of oil intire,
Which to improve and render high'r,
Add wine and pickles, best by far
When taken from Byzantian jar.
This mixt with shredded greens, and brought
From Corycus, with saffron fraught,
When it has boil'd and stood — then squeeze
The olives of Venafran trees.
The apples of Picenum beat
What Tibur bears, as good to eat,
But for their colour these excel.
Venutian grapes for jars are well.
Yet for preserving in the smoke
Th'Albanian fitter are bespoke.
Th'invention was intirely mine,
This grape with apples to combine,
And vinous lees with herring brine.
I was the first who had the knack
White pepper with the salt that's black
Finely to mix, and serve up all
In dishes very neat, tho' small.
'Tis a grand fault to throw away
Vast sums upon a market day,
And yet to cramp the spraggling fish
By using of a scanty dish.
'Twill turn your stomach very much,
If waiters take with greasy touch
The glass, as they their fingers lick,
Or grime to your old goblet stick.
In saw-dust, napkins, and in brooms,
How small th'expence about your rooms!
Yet if these things you quite neglect,
'Tis a most horrible defect
Shou'd you Mosaic pavements sweept
With dirty palm-brooms, as they're cheap,
And tho' he is in purple drest,
Bring out foul cushions for your guest,
Forgetting in such things the less
Of care and cost, the greater stress
Is still on the defaulter laid,
Nor are they in the ballance weigh'd
With things of vast expence and state,
Pertaining only to the great." —
— " Learn'd Catius, by the pow'rs divine,
That love with which I call you mine,
Where'er you shall an audience share
With this great man, let me be there,
For tho' your mem'ry be so good,
That I have most things understood,
Yet by mere narrative in brief,
You cannot please me like the chief.
Then add the manner and the dress,
And countenance besides, express,
Which strike you not in that degree
As always in your pow'r to see,
But I by vehement desire
Up to the fountain-head aspire,
And make myself adept compleat
In precepts of a life so sweet."
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