Sunday, October 27, 2019


The Two Chief Pleasures of My Life

Tobias Smollett (1721-1771), The Adventures of Roderick Random, chapter X:
As we exerted ourselves more than usual, I found myself quite spent with fatigue, when we entered a small village in the twilight. We enquired for a publick house, and were directed to one of a very sorry appearance. At our entrance, the landlord, who seemed to be a venerable old man, with long grey hair, rose from a table placed by a large fire in a very neat paved kitchen, and, with a cheerful countenance, accosted us in these words: 'Salvete Pueri—ingredimini.'—I was not a little pleased to hear our host speak Latin, because I was in hope of recommending myself to him by my knowledge in that language; I therefore answered, without hesitation,—Dissolve frigus, ligna super foco—large reponens. I had no sooner pronounced these words, than the old gentleman, running toward me, shook me by the hand, crying, '—Fili mi dilectissime! unde venis!—a superis, ni fallor?'—In short, finding we were both read in the classicks, he did not know how to testify his regard, but ordered his daughter, a jolly rosy-cheeked damsel, who was his sole domestic, to bring us a bottle of his quadrimum,— repeating from Horace at the same time, '—Deprome quadrimum Sabina, O Thaliarche, merum diotâ.' This quadrimum was excellent ale of his own brewing, of which he told us he had always an amphora four years old for the use of himself and friends.—In the course of our conversation, which was interlarded with scraps of Latin, we understood that this facetious person was a school-master, whose income being small, he was fain to keep a glass of good liquor for the entertainment of passengers, by which he made shift to make the two ends of the year meet.—'I am this day, said he, the happiest old fellow in his majesty's dominions. My wife, rest her soul, is in heaven. My daughter is to be married next week;—but the two chief pleasures of my life are these (pointing to the bottle and a large edition of Horace that lay on the table). I am old, 'tis true,—what then? the more reason I should enjoy the small share of life that remains, as my friend Flaccus advises:—Tu ne quaesieris scire (nefas) quem mihi, quem tibi finem di dederint—Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.'

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