Morsels from the Fathers Table volume 4 : Walking the Walk

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Papa started as if an earthquake had roused him, and stared at Harry, astonished for a minute, then he remembered, and upset Harry's gravity by whining out,—. Harry took the joke, and assuming the stern air of his father on such occasions, said impressively,—. Not a morsel, sir, not a morsel;' and, coolly pocketing his father's watch, he retired, to giggle all the way downstairs.

When the breakfast bell rang, mamma hurried into the dining-room, longing for her tea. But Kitty sat behind the urn, and said gravely,—. Will you never learn to behave like a lady? Mamma looked impatient at the delay, and having re-entered in her most elegant manner, sat down, and passed her plate for fresh trout and muffins.

Eat your good oatmeal porridge and milk; that is the proper food for children. I never was allowed tea when a little girl, and couldn't think of giving it to you,' said Kitty, filling a large cup for herself, and sipping the forbidden draught with a relish. Aunt Betsey looked on much amused, and now and then nodded to the children as if she thought things were going nicely. Breakfast was half over when papa came in, and was about to take Harry's place when his son said, trying vainly to look grave as he showed the watch,—. You are late again, sir.

No breakfast, sir. I'm sorry, but this habit must be broken up. Not a word; it's your own fault, and you must bear the penalty. I'm awful hungry. Can't I have just a bite of something? Go to your morning duties and let this be a lesson to you. Papa cast a look at Aunt Betsey, that was both comic and pathetic, and departed without a word; but he felt a sudden sympathy with his son, who had often been sent fasting from the table for some small offence. Now it was that he appreciated aunty's kind heart, and felt quite fond of her, for in a few minutes she came to him, as he raked the gravel walk Harry's duty every day , and slipping a nice, warm, well-buttered muffin into his hand, said, in her motherly way,—.

He is right about late rising, but I can't bear to see you starve. Hope you like it! Don't go on the grass, or you will wet your feet; and don't play with baby, I want her to go to sleep; and don't talk to papa, or he will neglect his work,' said Kitty, as they rose from table.

Now, it was a warm morning and baby was heavy and the avenue was dull, and mamma much preferred to stay in the house and sew the trimming on to a new and pretty dress. Kitty you are a hard-hearted mamma to make me do it,' and Mrs. Fairbairn hoped her play-parent would relent. Mamma said no more, but put on her hat and trundled away with fretful baby, thinking to find her fellow-sufferer and have a laugh over the joke. She was disappointed, however, for Harry called papa away to weed the lettuce-bed, and then shut him up in the study to get his lessons, while he mounted the pony and trotted away to town to buy a new fishing-rod and otherwise enjoy himself.

When mamma came in, hot and tired, she was met by Kitty with a bottle in one hand and a spoon in the other. Now take it like a good girl.


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I'm sure you need strengthening more than I do, you have so many "trials, " ' and Kitty looked very sly as she quoted one of the words often on her mother's lips. Set a good example,' said aunty. Ugh, how disagreeable it is! I have so much to do I don't know which way to turn,' continued Kitty, much elated with her success.

Rest of any sort was welcome, so mamma sewed busily till callers came. They happened to be some little friends of Kitty's, and she went to them in the parlor, telling mamma to go up to nurse and have her hair brushed and her dress changed, and then come and see the guests. While she was away Kitty told the girls the joke they were having, and begged them to help her carry it out. They agreed, being ready for fun and not at all afraid of Mrs. While this was going on in the drawing-room, Harry was tutoring his father in the study, and putting that poor gentleman through a course of questions that nearly drove him distracted; for Harry got out the hardest books he could find, and selected the most puzzling subjects.

A dusty old history was rummaged out also, and classical researches followed, in which papa's memory played him false more than once, calling forth rebukes from his severe young tutor. The dinner-bell released the exhausted student, and he gladly took his son's place, looking as if he had been hard at work. He was faint with hunger, but was helped last, being 'only a boy,' and then checked every five minutes for eating too fast. Mamma was very meek, and only looked wistfully at the pie when told in her own words that pastry was bad for children.

Any attempts at conversation were promptly quenched by the worn-out old saying, 'Children should be seen, not heard,' while Harry and Kitty chattered all dinner-time, and enjoyed it to their hearts' content, especially the frequent pecks at their great children, who, to be even with them, imitated all their tricks as well as they could.

Aunt Betsey laughed till her eyes were full, and they had a jolly time, though the little people had the best of it, for the others obeyed them in spite of their dislike to the new rules. Usually these hours of apparent freedom were spoilt by constant calls,—not to run, not to play this or that, or frequent calls to do errands. The children had mercy, however, and left them in peace; which was a wise move on the whole, for the poor souls found rest so agreeable they privately resolved to let the children alone in their play-hours.

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Fairbairn gave a low whistle and retired to the barn, where Harry followed him, and ordered the man to harness up old Bill. Old Bill was put into the best buggy and driven to the hall door. Papa followed, and mamma sprang up from her nap, ready for her afternoon drive. Kitty was about to consent, for she loved mamma, and found it hard to cross her so.

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But Harry was made of sterner stuff; his wrongs still burned within him, and he said impatiently—. The buggy is nicest and lightest, and we want to talk over our affairs. You, my son, can help John turn the hay on the lawn, and Caroline can amuse baby, or help Jane with the preserves. Little girls should be domestic. Fairbairn wanted to read, but baby was fretful, and there was no Kitty to turn him over to, so she spent her afternoon amusing the small tyrant, while papa made hay in the sun and didn't like it.

Just at tea-time the children came home, full of the charms of their drive, but did not take the trouble to tell much about it to the stay-at-home people. What do you mean, painter, by burning Phaeton a second time? He knows not, Flaccus, believe me, what Epigrams really are, who calls them mere trifles and frivolities. He is much more frivolous, who writes of the feast of the cruel Tereus; or the banquet of the unnatural Thyestes; or of Daedalus fitting melting wings to his son's body; or of Polyphemus feeding his Sicilian flocks.

From my effusions all tumid ranting is excluded; nor does my Muse swell with the mad garment of Tragedy. Things in that style are praised; but mine are read.

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Why, Thais, are you constantly saying that I am old? One is never too old, Thais, for what you require. When you had not six thousand sesterces, Caecilianus, you used to be carried about ostentatiously in a vast litter borne by six men. But since the blind goddess has given you two millions, and your coins have overflowed your coffers, behold you have taken to go on foot. What prayers ought I to offer on your behalf for such merit, such praise-worthy modesty? May the gods restore you, Caecilianus, your litter! If you do not leave off, Hedylus, being drawn by a yoke of goats, you, who were recently a ficus, will become a caprificus.

Ficus signifies the piles, or a person afflicted with them, or figs; caprificus, a wild fig tree. Yonder person, Cosmus, whom you often see in the recesses of the temple of our Pallas, and on the threshold of the new temple, 2 an old man with a stick and a wallet; whose hair bristles white and dirty, and over whose breast a filthy beard descends; whom a wax-coloured cloak, sole partner of his bare bed, covers; and to whom the crowd that encounters him gives food forced from them by his importunity,him, I say, you take for a Cynic, out you are deceived by a false appearance; he is no Cynic, Cosmus.

What then? O Collinus, to whom it has been granted to obtain the crown of oak in the Capitol, 1 and to surround your deserving locks with its foliage first of all your race, make the most, if you are wise, of every day, and always imagine that your last is come. No one ever succeeded in moving the three wool-spinning sisters; 2 they observe rigidly the day which they have fixed. Though you be richer than Crispus, more firm-minded than Thrasea's self; more magnificent than the splendid Melior, Lachesis adds nothing to the thread; she unwinds the spindles of her sisters, and one of the three always puts a stop to the prolongation of it.

O Lucius, 3 glory of your age, who does not allow old Gaius 4 and our Tagus to yield the palm to eloquent Arpi, 5 let him who has been born among the cities of Greece sing of Thebes or Mycenae in his lay, or famous Rhodes, or the Ledaean palaestrae 1 of licentious 2 Lacedaemon. For us, born among the Celts and Spaniards, let us not be ashamed of repeating in grateful verse the harsher names of our own land; Bilbilis, renowned for its mines of cruel iron, a town which surpasses in this respect the Chalybes and the Norici; Plates, resounding with the working of its own steel, a town which the river Salo, that tempers arms, surrounds with shallow but unquiet waters; Tutela; the dances of Rixamae; the joyful festivities of Cardua; Peterus, red with intertwined roses; Rigae, and its ancient theatres constructed by our ancestors; the Silai, unerring in the use of the light dart; the lakes of Turgontus and Perusia; the pure waters of the humble Vetonissa; the sacred oak-grove of Buradon, through which even the tired traveller walks; 3 and the fields of the vale of Vativesca, which Manlius tills with lusty steers.

Do these rough names excite a smile, fastidious reader? Smile, if you pease; I prefer them, rough as they are, to Butunti. Do you wish me, Gargilianus, because you send large presents to old men and widows, to call you munificent? There is nothing on earth more sordid or meaner than you are, who call your snares gifts.

In like manner is the guileful hook bountiful to fishes, and the crafty bait a boon to the silly inhabitants of the forests. What the difference is between giving liberally, and making such presents, I will teach you, if you do not know. Make them, Gargilianus, to me. Whilst I am detained by the voluptuous waters of the attractive Lucrine lake, and the caves warmed with fountains issuing from the rocks of pumice-stone, you, Faustinus, are dwelling in the domain of the Argive colonists, 1 whither the twentieth milestone from the city brings you.

But the bristly cheat of the Nemaean lion 2 is now inflamed with heat, and Baiae glows with more than its own warmth. So, then, farewell, you sacred fountains and grateful shores, the home alike of Nymphs and of Nereids! In the cold winter you were preferable to the mountains of Hercules: 3 but now you must yield to the cool shades of Tibur.

Horace Odes ii. You lament in secret, Galla, the loss of your husband; you are ashamed, Galla, I suppose, to weep for a man. Whilst a viper was crawling on the weeping boughs of the Heliades, 1 an amber-drop flowed upon the reptile as it lay in its way. While wondering at being fettered by the gummy exudation, it suddenly grew stiff, immured in the congealing mass. Pride not yourself, Cleopatra, on your royal sepulchre; for a viper reposes in a tomb still nobler.

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Let us in the summer solstice retire to Ardea and the country about Paestum, and to the tract which burns under the Cleonaean constellation; 2 since Curiatius has condemned the air of Tivoli, carried off as he was to the Styx notwithstanding its much-lauded waters. From no place can you shut out fate: when death comes, Sardinia 3 is in the midst of Tivoli itself. A little while ago, Mancinus, you joyfully boasted to us, in an exulting tone, that some friend of yours had made you a present of two hundred thousand sesterces. Only four days ago, as we were talking in the assembly-room of the poets, you told us that your cloak, which had cost ten thousand sesterces, was the gift of Pompulla; you swore that Bassa and Caelia had given you a red sardonyx, a brilliant opal, and two gems, green as the waves of the sea.

Yesterday, when you suddenly left the theatre while Pollio was singing, you remarked, as you ran off, that three hundred thousand sesterces had just come to you by a legacy; this morning you spoke of another hundred thousand, and this afternoon of a hundred thousand more.

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What extraordinary injury have we, your companions, wrought you? Have pity on us, unfeeling mental, and at length hold your peace.

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Or, if your tongue cannot be silent, tell us now and then something that we should like to hear. Swarthy Lycoris has left Rome for Tivoli, sacred to Hercules; for she imagines that everybody becomes white there. While Caerellia, the mother of a family, was sailing from Bauli to Baiae, she perished, drowned by the malice of the raging flood.

What glory have you lost, you waters! Such a monstrous catastrophe you did not of old allow to Nero, even though commanded to do so. By drowning Carellia, the waters lost the honour which they had gained by sparing Agrippina. On the long ridge of the Janiculan Hill lie the few acres belonging to Julius Martialis; land more blessed than the gardens of the Hesperides. Secluded retreats are spread over the hills, and the smooth summit, with gentle undulations, enjoys a cloudless sky, and, while a mist covers the hollow valleys, shines conspicuous in a light all its own.

The graceful turrets of a lofty villa rise gently towards the stars. Hence you may see the seven hills, rulers of the world, and contemplate the whole extent of Rome, as well as the heights of Alba and Tusculum, and every cool retreat that lies in the suburbs, with old Fidenae and little Rubra, and the fruit-bearing grove of Anna Perenna, which delights in virgins' blood.

This country box, but which ought rather to be called mansion, is rendered additionally agreeable by the welcome of its owner; you will imagine it to be your own; so ungrudgingly, so liberally, is it thrown open to you, and with such refined hospitality. You would deem it the pious abode of Alcinous, or of Molorchus recently made rich.

Whether it is meant that virgins were in old times sacrificed there, is uncertain. Such sacrifices to Anna Perenna are nowhere else mentioned. He is said to have been recently made rich, because Domitian had built a temple to him near that of Hercules. Philaenis is always weeping with one eye. Do you ask how that can be? She has but one. You have always led the life, Linus, of a country gentleman; an existence than which none can be more inexpensive. It was only on the ides, and occasionally on the kalends of the month, 1 that you put on your toga; and one robe of ceremony lasted you ten summers.

The forest sent you wild boars, and the field sent you hares, without cost; the well-searched wood save you fat thrushes. The fish came easily snatched from the watery pool; and the red cask poured forth wines of native growth. No attendant of Grecian birth stood at your orders, but a rustic assemblage from the farm. As often as your amorous fancies were warmed and excited by wine, the housekeeper, or the wife of your hardy labourer, sufficed to appease them.

Fire hurt not your house, nor Sirius your lands: no ship of yours was ever sunk in the deep; nor is any one now at sea. In your house dice never supplanted the quiet tali; 2 but all your stake was a few nuts. Tell us, then, where is the million sesterces which your parsimonious mother left you. You have accomplished a difficult thing, Linus. The poor Gaurus begged from Praetor a hundred thousand sesterces, well known to him as he was by long-standing friendship, and told him that he wanted that sum alone to add to his three hundred thousand, to qualify him, as a full knight, to applaud the emperor.

That which you refuse to a knight, Praetor, will you bestow upon a horse? You invite me to a dinner that costs but a hundred farthings, while you yourself dine magnificently. Am I invited to dine with you, Sextus, or to envy you? You always, it is true, Pamphilus, place Setine wine, or Massic, on table; but rumour says that they are not so pure as they ought to be. You are reported to have been four times made a widower by the aid of your goblet.

I do not think this, or believe it, Pamphilus; but I am not thirsty. The father of Ammianus, when dying, left him by his will nothing but a dry halter. Who would have thought it possible, Marullinus, that Ammianus could have been made to wish his father still alive?

I have been long seeking, Safronius Rufus, throughout tho city, for a maiden that says No: but not one says No. Just as if it were not right, as if it were disgraceful, as if it were prohibited, No maiden says No. Is there then no maiden chaste? There are a thousand. What then does the chaste one do? She does not say Yes, certainly, but still she does not say No. You beg me, Quintus, to present you my works. I have not a copy, but the bookseller Trypho has. I shall not do anything so ridiculous. When Vestinus, overcome with disease, was at his last hour, and just on the point of crossing the Stygian waters, he prayed to the sisters who were spinning his last threads that they would bring their dark twine to an end with little delay.

While, dead for himself, he lived a few moments for his dear friends, such affectionate prayers moved the stern goddesses. Then, having divided his great wealth, he retired from the light of day, feeling, after this was done, that he died an old man. When on time's precipice Allworthy stood, Ready to launch into th'eternal flood, The cruel fates addressing thus he said, "Ye goddesses, one moment spare my thread: Lost though I am, let friends my bounty prove.

He his vast wealth divides; then quits the stage; And in that moment lived a Nestor's age. Do you see what fierce combats the unwarlike does attempt, and how great rage there is in these timid animals? They burn to rush together upon death with their narrow brows. Do you desire to spare the does, Caesar? Let the hounds loose upon them. O Nigrina, happy in your beauty of soul, happy in your consort, chief glory of the daughters-in-law of Latium, it delights you to share with your husband the wealth inherited from your father, rejoicing to associate and participate with him in all things.

Though Evadne may have cast herself upon the funeral pyre of her husband, and have been burned; and though a fame in no respect inferior exalt Alcestis to the stars; you have done better; you have gained, by visible evidence, such reputation for affection, that your love needs not to be attested by death.

You have sent me six thousand sesterces, when I asked you for twelve: to obtain twelve, I must ask you for twenty-four. I have never hitherto asked riches of the gods, being content with moderate enjoyments, and happy in what I possess. What is the cause of this new and sudden prayer? I long to see Zoilus hang himself. I ne'er begged riches from the gods before, Well pleas'd with what I had, and to be poor: But, want, now get you hence: Heav'n grant me store.

Whence comes this sudden new desire of pelf? I'd fain see envious Zoilus hang himself! Although you have seen sixty harvests gathered in, and your face glistens with many a white hair, you run hither and thither wildly throughout the city, and there is no great man's chair to which you do not every morning assiduously pay your respects. Without you no tribune is allowed to leave his house, nor is either of the consuls excused from your dutiful attendance upon him.

Ten times a day you return to the palace on the sacred hill, and talk unceasingly of your friends Sigerius and Parthenius. Let young men act thusbut than an officious old man, Afer, there is nothing more offensive. You were constantly, Matho, a guest at my villa at Tivoli. Now you buy it. You declaim, Maro, when you are ill with a fever. If you are ignorant that this is frenzy, you are not in your right senses, friend Maro.

You declaim when out of order; you declaim while a victim to the semitertian ague. If you cannot excite perspiration by any other means, well and good. When Fabulla had read that epigram of mine, in which I complain that no maiden says No, she, although asked once, twice, and thrice, disregarded the prayers of her lover. Recommend also, Rufus, these little books of mine to Venuleius, and beg him to grant me some few moments of his leisure, and, forgetting awhile his cares and occupations, to examine my trifles with indulgent ear.

But let him not read them after either his first or his last glass, but when Bacchus is in his glory, and delights to witness convivial excitement.


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  5. If it be too much to read two volumes, let him roll up one of them; and the task, thus divided, will seem shorter. When you are devoid of care, Naevolus, nobody is more disagreeable than you; when you are in trouble, Naevolus, nobody is more pleasing. When devoid of care you answer nobody's salutation, you look down on every one, you seem to think every one a slave, and no man living worthy of your regard. When you are in trouble, you make presents to one person, you pay your respects to another as your lord and patron, and invite everybody to your house.

    Pray be always, Naevolus, in trouble. There is no one among the people, or in the whole town, who who assert that Thais has granted him favours, although many desire and entreat them. Is Thais then, I ask, so pure? By no means; she has a filthy tongue. We drink out of glass, Ponticus; you, out of porcelain. Lest a transparent vessel should betray the better quality of your wine. If you wish to be approved by Attic ears, I exhort and advise you, my little book, to please the learned Apollinaris. If he shall receive you to his heart, and repeat you with his lips, you will neither have to dread the sneers of the malignant, nor will you furnish parchment coverings for anchovies.

    If he shall condemn you, you may run forthwith to the stalls of the salt-meat sellers, to have your back scribbled upon by their boys. Your wife Bassa, Fabullus, has always a child at her side, which she calls her delight and her darling. And, that you may have the greater cause for wonder, she is not at all fond of children.

    What is her reason, then? She is troubled with wind. How then? She's rude, and the child bears the blame. You have sent me nothing in return for my little gift, and five of the days of the Saturnalia are passed. Thus neither have six scruples of Septician silver 1 been sent to me, nor a table-cloth, fit present for a complaining client, nor a jar red with the blood of the Antipolitan tunny, nor one containing small prunes, nor a little basket of wrinkled Picenian olives, so as to enable you to say that you have not forgotten me. You may deceive others by your words and your smiling countenance; to me you will be henceforth an unmasked deceiver.

    Enough, enough! You would still go on, and add to your bulk, and cannot confine yourself within due limits; just as if you had not done enough, when you had completed the first page. The reader is now quite querulous, and out of patience; the librarius 1 himself now cries out, "Enough, enough, little book. This file and all material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.



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