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BY READING THE BONORABLE MRS, NORTON'S
Calm in thy peerless pride I see thee now
Oh, loveliest of Albion's lovely flowers !
Like summer's sky sweet smiling after showers;
The light of Faith, which raises thee above
The peace, be calm' from His high throne of love.
My distant lay, may never touch thy heart;
When in the Twilight Hour thou sitt'st apart
The hour of saddening memory's control;
Like softest music on thy yearning soul !
We ne'er may meet, for myriad billows roll
Between thy hearth-stone and my western home ;
Still through my shadowy bowers at eve may roam.
In childish faith. Hast thou not seen the look
Then, when a mother's fears thy bosom shook,
And tore afresh thy wounds, and smiled to see them bleed?
Thy sun is going down, but ’neath the cloud
That darkened o'er the zenith of thy days
Is lost amid the glory of his rays;
Gilt with thy light, to make thine evening scene
To sunset's glowing sky their gorgeous sheen?
Was to obscure, 't will make thee lovelier still.
My sun has not yet shed his noontide ray,
My morning's beams have not yet lost their glow:
Are there for me such trials and such wo?
Be made all dark, thy bosom feel a dart,
Thy conscious rectitude of mind and heart.
Would hear my cause in heaven, ånd judge me there !
It is my “twilight hour,' and far away
A star is shining in the blue serene,
And called it after thee: it fills the scene
Above the darkened world, and low and kind,
In all their immortality above.
Such thy remembrance, such thy noble part
That offer thee, 'neath crested seals, their love,
There is not one that would more loyal prove
These fond but feeble lines, so far away from thee.
HORACE AND JU V EN AL AS SAT IRISTS.
In turning from the elegance and refinement of the Augustan age to the prostitution and sensuality of the reign of Domitian, what a painful contrast is presented! Instead of elegant taste and cultivated manners, we witness only the prevalence of gross passion and abandoned profligacy. The follies which are incident to the first influx of wealth had now ripened into open and flagitious vices.
The restraining influences of ancestral virtue had now ceased to moderate the passions of mankind, and even the semblance of religion which existed at the fall of the republic had degenerated into the blindest superstition and the blackest imposture. This rapid decline of morality was the result of a system of legislation uninfluenced by any principles save those of inordinate ambition. Augustus had spread the luxurious couch on which the Roman might slumber away the remembrance of his freedom. The hypocritical Tiberius administered the intoxicating chalice of unrestrained licentiousness, while the detestable Nero extinguished the last spark of liberty, the last flickering ray of virtue. The bloody usurpations of Galba, Otho, and Vitellius were fast consummating the unhappiness of society, when the accession of Vespasian and Titus afforded a transient relief to the empire groaning beneath the weight of military despotism and wasting under the terrible ravages of unlicensed immorality. But the relief which the moderation of these emperors occasioned was but transitory. The slight reform which had been effected was lost on the accession of Domitian, and Rome relapsed into vices more hideous, into practices more debasing than before.
This decline of morality was naturally accompanied with a distaste for every noble and intellectual pursuit. The works of art once the pride of the mistress of the world were now the mournful relics of a once cultivated and polished age. The philosopher was now succeeded by the empty sophist. The forum which had listened to the writhing invective of Cicero and to the exuberant eloquence of Hortensius; the forum which had witnessed the just condemnation of Catiline and the successful prosecution of Verres, heard now only the disputes of contending litigants, and saw only the bombastic displays of haranguing declaimers. The senate which had once witnessed the proudest triumph of justice over filial affection, was now the passive instrument of oppression in the hands of a subtle and unfeeling tyrant. The child who denounced his parent and the father who sacrificed his son to the demands of a proscription were thanked by this unprincipled assemblage as the greatest benefactors of society. In a word, the age of Juvenal differed as widely from that of Horace as does the last stage of moral depravity from the first commencement of juvenile indiscretion.
JUVENAL, who witnessed with a patriot's indignation these scenes of social and political degeneracy, despised the light shafts of Horace and sought a weapon better suited to his strength. He saw that laughing ridicule and familiar raillery were at this day far better suited to entertain a convivial assembly than to improve a profligate and dissipated community; farther than this, the subjects which were presented for his scorn, though of the same general nature, were more aggravated in their character than those which excited the derision of Horace; for instance, instead of an elegant entertainment where the taste was gratified by the choicest fruits of Campania, and the intellect delighted by the sparkling wit of Augustus, and the keen repartees of Horace; we see a profuse banquet of the costliest dainties, rendered disgusting by the frivolity of Domitian, and disgraced by the most brutal debauchery and the grossest licentiousness.*
The parasite was no longer contented with the uncertain result of insinuating adulation, but resorted to the surer process of criminal forgery.t Philosophy no longer presented an image of perfection to which man should continually aspire. Its teachers exhibited none of that incongruous mixture of rigid austerity and paradoxical vaunting which excited the ridicule of Horace. It was now a mass of loathsome corruption, destitute in its practice as in its principle of every noble feeling, and of every generous impulse.
It has been observed that the interdiction of the freedoni of speech was one of the principal causes which materially modified the character of Horace as a satirist. The same influence was exerted upon Juvenal, but it was attended with entirely different effects. Instead of crushing his energies, it roused them to more vigorous exertion by making him feel more keenly the loss of the Roman birthright. It is not to be supposed however, that his satires which from their freshness and vigor were evidently composed under the immediate influences of the scenes which he describes, were published in the reign of Domitian; the
* Juv. Satire iv.
† SIGNATOR falso, qui se lautum, atque beatum
Exiguis tabulis, et gemma fecerat uda ?' - I. SAT., 67. Doctrine of the Stoics.
consequences of such a course would have been fatal, they were probably recited to a few intimate friends whose morals were unpolluted by the contaminating influences of the times. At an advanced period of life and under the happier administration of Hadrian, he appeared as the author of his satires, when the fiery spirit and unmitigated bitterness of impetuous youth, was calmed and softened by the sober judgment of maturer years.
The character of Juvenal, when contrasted with that of Horace, exhibits a boldness and an intrepidity to which the Venusian poet was a stranger. Gifted with an equally penetrating observation of human nature; detesting vice as thoroughly and loving virtue as warmly; he added to these a sternness of disposition; an inflexibility of purpose that was well suited to combat the open vices of a detestable age, enslaved to the most ignominious as well as to the most despicable of tyrants ; superstition and sensual indulgence.
Keeping continually in view the wide difference between these two periods of Roman society; the advantages which Juvenal possessed over Horace in the range of subjects for satire, and especially the difference in the characters of the two poets themselves; let us proceed as in the case of Horace, to a critical examination of the satirical powers of Juvenal.
The first satire opens with an abrupt burst of complaint at the wearisome importunity of the inferior poets, and Juvenal declares his resolution of retaliating. Mentioning with a lively indignation the vices which have driven
him to write satire, he then paints in glowing colors the profligacy of every class of society; and concludes with some bitter reflections on the dangers to which the satirist was exposed, and by expressing his determination of attacking the living, under the names of the departed.
We can readily imagine the petulant air with which Juvenal turned from the temple of Apollo, after hearing the tedious recitals of miserable scribblers like the indefatigable Codrus, or the prolix narrator of the adventures of Telephus or Orestes.
The practice of public rehearsals which is here alluded to, existed at an early period at Rome; for it is frequently mentioned by Horace, in a manner which indicates the inconveniences to which the unfortunate hearer was subjected; but in the days of Juvenal it had increased to so great an extent as to render it intolerable annoyance. Truly, the blessing which the invention of printing
has in this respect conferred upon modern society can never be sufficiently estimated.
But these were not the only subjects which kindled the withering fire of Juvenal.
.Nam quis iniquæ
* For who can so endure the wicked city? Who is so senseless as to restrain himself when the new litter of lawyer Matho comes ? How my soul burns with anger when I see the despoiler of his ward, crowd through the people with his long train of attendants, and the infamous Marius living undisturbed on the plunder of provinces. You must now attempt something worthy of banishment, si vis esse aliquis, for now PROBITAS LAUDATUR et alget.'
Again he bitterly exclaims, as these scenes of corruption rise before him :
* Et quando uberior vitiorum copia ? quando
Hos animos l' et seq.
An accomplished scholar who has succeeded better than
other commentator in expressing in English verse the meaning and spirit of Juvenal, thus elegantly renders this passage :*
AND when could satire boast so fair a field ?
To clothe the slave, that shivering stands and bare ?' We here see a faithful portraiture of the sad condition of society ; when left to follow the bent of its own vicious inclinations, without the restraints of divine truth or the influences of Christian virtue. Juvenal witnessed indeed, a most melancholy spectacle of human depravity. Avarice and luxury had subverted every noble principle of the soul. The unrestrained exercise of the basest passions had smothered every teaching of morality, and not a single ray of pure religion penetrated the thick cloud of superstition that enveloped the consciences of men.
Turning from the description of these scenes of loathsome de. pravity, the poet indignantly scourges the lower and more contemptible habits of the Romans :
• JUBET a præcone vocari
The crier calls aloud :
(' APPROACH descendants of the Trojan blood.'
To scramble for the client's food.)