Thursday, February 10, 2011


An Invitation to Dinner

Horace, Epistles 1.5 (tr. John Duncombe):
If you can loll on antique Beds, and eat
Herbs for your Supper, on an earthen Plate,
To-night, Torquatus, I'll expect you here.
My Wine was cask'd in Taurus' second Year:
Minturna's marshy Valley yields the Vine;
Bring yours, if better; if not, drink of mine.

Already shines my Sideboard, smokes my Fire:
From Hopes, and Fears, and Thirst of Gain retire,
And Moschus' Cause. To-morrow's glorious
Morn Indulges Rest; for then was Caesar born;
So may we safely, 'till the rising Light,
In social Converse wear the shorten'd Night.

Say, why are Riches giv'n, but to enjoy?
Who starves himself to glut some favourite Boy
Is little less than mad. Flowers will I spread,
And deeply drink, and no Reproaches dread.

What Wonders Wine effects? By that, reveal'd
Are Secrets; Cowards hurry'd to the Field;
To the dejected, Courage it imparts,
Fires with fresh Hopes the bold, and teaches Arts.
Bumpers inspire with Eloquence divine,
And ev'n the needy drown their Wants in Wine.

I, for my Part, will strict Attention lend,
Lest a stain'd Bed, or dirty Cloth, offend.
Each Plate and Dish shall, like a polish'd Glass,
Reflect your Face. The Door let nothing pass.
That well-match'd Tempers may be aptly join'd,
You here will Brutus and Septimius find;
Sabinus too, if by no better Feast
And a kind Girl detain'd, shall be my Guest:
And Room will still be left for other Friends;
But in the Dog-days Heat a Crowd offends.
Your Number fix; and, letting Business wait,
Slip from your Client through the Garden-Gate.
The same, imitated by Francis Fawkes (to Dr. Hawkesworth):
If you, Dear Sir, will deign to pass a Day
In the fair Vale of Orpington and Cray,
And live for once as humble Vicars do;
On Thursday I'll expect you here by two.
Expect no Niceties my Plates to foul,
But Bansted Mutton, and a Barn-door Fowl.
My Friends with generous Liquors I regale,
Good Port, Old Hock, or, if they like it, Ale;
But if of richer Wine you chuse a Quart,
Why bring, and drink it here—with all my Heart.

Plain is my Furniture, as is my Treat,
For 'tis my best Ambition, to be neat.
Leave then all sordid Views, and Hopes of Gain,
To Mortals miserable, mad, or vain;
Put the last Polish to th' historic Page,
And cease awhile to moralise the Age.
By your sweet Converse chear'd, the livelong Day
Will pass unnotic'd, like the Stream, away.

Why should kind Providence Abundance give,
If we, like Niggards, can't afford to live?
The wretched Miser, poor 'midst Heaps of Pelf,
To cram his Heir, most madly starves himself—
So will not I—Give me good Wine and Ease,
And let all Misers call me Fool that please.

What cannot Wine? It opens all the Soul;
Faint Hope grows brilliant o'er the sparkling Bowl:
Wine's generous Spirit makes the Coward brave,
Gives Ease to Kings, and Freedom to the Slave:
Bemus'd in Wine, the Bard his Duns forgets,
And drinks serene Oblivion to his Debts:
Wine drives all Cares and Anguish from the Heart,
And dubs us Connoisseurs of every Art.
Whom does not Wine with Eloquence inspire?
The bowzy Beggar struts into a Squire.

This you well know—to Me belongs to mind
That Neatness with Frugality be join'd;
That no intruding Blab, with itching Ears,
Darken my Doors, who tells whate'er he hears.
Two Duncombes, each a Poet, with me dine,
Your Friends, and decent Colman, a Divine:
There's Room for more; so, to complete the Band,
Your Wife will bring fair Innocence in Hand.
Should Cave want Copy, let the Teaser wait,
While you steal secret through the Garden-Gate.
The Latin original:
Si potes Archiacis conviva recumbere lectis
nec modica cenare times holus omne patella,
supremo te sole domi, Torquate, manebo.
vina bibes iterum Tauro diffusa palustris
inter Minturnas Sinuessanumque Petrinum.
si melius quid habes, arcesse, vel imperium fer.

iamdudum splendet focus et tibi munda supellex.
mitte levis spes et certamina divitiarum
et Moschi causam: cras nato Caesare festus
dat veniam somnumque dies; impune licebit
aestivam sermone benigno tendere noctem.

quo mihi fortunam, si non conceditur uti?
parcus ob heredis curam nimiumque severus
adsidet insano. potare et spargere flores
incipiam, patiarque vel inconsultus haberi.

quid non ebrietas dissignat? operta recludit,
spes iubet esse ratas, ad proelia trudit inertem,
sollicitis animis onus eximit, addocet artes.
fecundi calices quem non fecere disertum?
contracta quem non in paupertate solutum?

haec ego procurare et idoneus imperor et non
invitus, ne turpe toral, ne sordida mappa
corruget naris, ne non et cantharus et lanx
ostendat tibi te, ne fidos inter amicos
sit qui dicta foras eliminet, ut coeat par
iungaturque pari. Butram tibi Septiciumque,
et nisi cena prior potiorque puella Sabinum
detinet, adsumam. locus est et pluribus umbris:
sed nimis arta premunt olidae convivia caprae.
tu quotus esse velis rescribe et rebus omissis
atria servantem postico falle clientem.

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