ROBERT JEPHSON, ESQUIRE.
Naples, May 5th, 1793.
ERCULANEUM to view, and Pompeia profound,
And the wonders long hid under classical ground,
Astonish the Muse
The spits, and the pots, and the stew-hooks I scan,
As to bake, or to boil, or to roast, was the plan ;
And the jars once replendish'd, now empty of wine,
I behold with a sigh ; but why vainly repine ?
As we're born but to die, to-day or to-morrow,
And our span is so short, we have no time for sorrow.
Yet I morally mus'd, and, shaking my head,
Cry'd, Alas ! love and wine are no joys for the dead !
Then time being brief in this sceptical age,
Let us try by deep study to make ourselves sage ;
I doubt if the Romans us'd forks with three prongs,
Or had chocolate, nutmegs, or asparagus tongs :
* I have questioned Dutens, and he scarcely presumes
To say they made ketchup by squeezing mushrooms.
They could stew a sow's pap, in such cooking were pat ;
But they ne'er dress'd a turtle, or chuck'd the green fat,.
Their garments were simple, as every one knows,
No petticoats, perriwigs, breeches, or hose ;
Has Horace or Ovid their fair ladies clad
In the tumify'd charm of cork rumps or a pad ?
By which pretty Miss, in an emblem so pat,
Bids us view her plump waist, and tells what she'd be at.
Has Lucan or Homer sung canons or bombs,
Or given us a stanza on fifes or on drums ?
They ne'er make their combatants gloriously shine,
By firing of musquets, or springing a mine ;
Or at Troy's boasted siege, has the ignorant bard
Said a word of a dice box, or shuffling a card ?
Yet pedants continue such heroes to puff,
Who ne'er tasted coffee, or souchong, or snuff !
Then, my Jephson, no more chant their deeds to your lyre,
With Dryden's rich flow, with his strength, and his fire.
Thus absent from LUCY I sigh,
And droop like the sensitive tree ;
But revive by a twink of her eye,
For each twink is a sun-beam to me.
To your nuptial vows stand,
And your fancy command,
Nor let Venus your dear bosom trouble ;
To the young Coxcomb say,
Nay, prithee, Sir, Nay,
Don't tempt me again to lye double.
For your own AG, be coy and nice,
Ah ! steep your glowing lips in ice,
And then be not afraid O !
If wild Ægistus snatch a kiss,
You'll chill, like chaste Diana's Miss,
And give him a torpedo !
While sweet Clytemnestra was charm'd by this song,
In Virtue's sharp pathway she totter'd along,
Till the soft maids of honour suggested a fear
That Ægistus had got the wrong sow by the ear ;
Then a sly Lydian harper he brib'd by high pay
To seduce the dear creature by this melting lay :
You're widow'd enough,
For old Captain Bluff ;
Then, prithee, no longer be coy ;
You've nail'd Cupid's dart
In Ægistus' soft heart,
And he is a sweet tempting boy.
Then if AG' here should stray,
Send him packing away
To Briseis, his dear trojan Trull ;
If he grumble or scold,
Like a heroine bold,
Either stab him or shatter his skull.
By jealousy fir'd, and muscial measures,
Clytemnestra's soft soul was seduc'd into pleasures ;
She storm'd, and she swore, and in amorous ire,
Cashier'd AGY's bard, snap'd the strings of his lyre ;
And turn'd him adrift, with a kick and a frown,
In an Island to starve, singing hey derry down !
To Letter 9
N O T E S.
* A very learned and ingenious Essay has been published by Mr. Dutens, to prove that the Antients were acquainted with the modern discoveries in the Arts and Sciences. [Presumably Louis Dutens' "Recherches sur l'origine des découvertes attribuées aux modernes: où l'on démontre que nos plus célèbres philosophes ont puisé la plûpart de leurs connoissances dans les ouvrages des anciens & que plusieurs vérités importantes sur la religion ont été connues des sages du paganisme", 1766, republished 1776.]
Roman Portraits An elegant Poetical Work of Mr. Jephson's, now in the Press. [And duly published, with 20 portraits: London, G. G. and J. Robinson, 1794.]
** Percival on Animal Sensation.Manchester Memoirs. [Thomas Percival, "Speculations on the perceptive power of vegetables: addressed to the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester" and printed in 1785.]
Odyssey, Book III. [254-265]
§ " The Tyrrhenians," says Aristotle, "never scourged their slaves, but by the sound of flutes, looking upon it as an instance of humanity to give some counterpoise to pain, and thinking by such a diversion to lessen the sum total of the punishment."
"It seems, by the lightness of the music, from a very different reason, that the Prussian soldiers are scourged to the sound of instruments at present."
Burney's History of Music, Vol. I. p. 185.
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