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John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
 
Translations
From Juvenal: The Sixteenth Satyr
 
        
ARGUMENT of the Sixteenth Satyr
  The Poet is this Satyr proves, that the Condition of a Souldier is much better than that of a Countryman. First, because a Country-man, however Affronted, Provok’d, and Struck himself, dares not strike a Souldier: Who is only to be judg’d by a Court-Martial: And by the Law of Camillus, which obliges him not to Quarrel without the Trenches, he is also assur’d to have a speedy hearing, and quick dispatch: Whereas, the Townsman or Peasant is delaid in his suit by frivolous Pretences, and not sure of Justice when he is heard in the Court. The Souldier is also priviledg’d to make a Will, and to give away his Estate, which he got in War, to whom he Pleases, without Consideration of Parentage or Relations, which is deny’d to all other Romans. This Satyr was written by Juvenal when he was a Commander in Egypt: ’tis certainly his, tho I think it not finish’d. And if it be well observ’d, you will find he intended an Invective against a standing Army.

The Sixteenth Satyr

WHAT vast Prerogatives, my Gallus, are
Accrewing to the mighty Man of War!
For, if into a lucky Camp I light,
Tho raw in Arms, and yet afraid to Fight,
Befriend me, my good Stars, and all goes right:)        5
One Happy Hour is to a Souldier better,
Than Mother Juno’s 1 recommending Letter,
Or Venus, when to Mars she wou’d prefer
My Suit, and own the Kindness done to Her.
  See what Our Common Priviledges are:        10
As first no Sawcy Citizen shall dare
To strike a Souldier, nor when struck, resent
The wrong, for fear of farther Punishment:
Not tho his Teeth are beaten out, his Eyes
Hang by a String, in Bumps his Fore-head rise,        15
Shall He presume to mention his Disgrace,
Or Beg amends for his demolish’d Face.
A Booted Judge shall sit to try his Cause,
Not by the Statute, but by Martial-Laws;
Which old Camillus 2 order’d, to confine        20
The Brawls of Souldiers to the Trench and Line:
A Wise Provision; and from thence ’tis clear,
That Officers a Souldiers Cause shou’d hear:
And taking cognizance of Wrongs receiv’d,
An Honest Man may hope to be reliev’d.        25
So far ’tis well: But with a General cry,
The Regiment will rise in Mutiny,
The Freedom of Their Fellow Rogue demand,
And, if refus’d, will threaten to Disband.
Withdraw thy Action, and depart in Peace;        30
The Remedy is worse than the Disease:
This Cause is worthy him, 3 who in the Hall
Wou’d for his Fee, and for his Client bawl:
But wou’dst Thou Friend who hast two Legs alone,
(Which Heav’n be prais’d, Thou yet may’st call Thy own,)        35
Wou’dst Thou to run the Gauntlet these expose
To a whole Company of Hob-nail’d Shoos? 4
Sure the good Breeding of Wise Citizens
Shou’d teach ’em more good Nature to their Shins.
  Besides, whom can’st Thou think so much thy Friend,        40
Who dares appear thy Business to defend?
Dry up thy Tears, and Pocket up th’ Abuse,
Nor put thy Friend to make a bad excuse:
The Judge cries out, Your Evidence produce.
Will He, who saw the Souldier’s Mutton Fist,        45
And saw Thee maul’d, appear within the List;
To witness Truth? When I see one so Brave,
The Dead, think I, are risen from the Grave;
And with their long Spade Beards and Matted Hair,
Our honest Ancestors are come to take the Air.        50
Against a Clown, with more security,
A Witness may be brought to swear a Lye,
Than, tho his Evidence be Full and Fair,
To vouch a Truth against a Man of War.
  More Benefits remain, and claim’d as Rights,        55
Which are a standing Armics Perquisites.
If any Rogue vexatious Suits advance
Against me for my known Inheritance,
Enter by Violence my Fruitful Grounds,
Or take the Sacred Land-Mark from my Bounds,        60
Those Bounds which with Procession and with Pray’r,
And Offer’d Cakes, 5 have been my Annual care:
Or if my Debtors do not keep their day,
Deny their Hands, and then refuse to pay;
I must with Patience all the Terms attend,        65
Among the common Causes that depend
Till mine is call’d; and that long look’d for day
Is still encumber’d with some new delay:
Perhaps the Cloath of State 6 is only spred,
Some of the Quorum may be Sick a Bed;        70
That Judge is Hot, and do’ffs his Gown, while this
O’re night was Bowsy, and goes out to Piss:
So many Rubs appear, the time is gone
For hearing, and the tedious Suit goes on:
But Buff, and Belt-Men never know these Cares,        75
No Time, nor Trick of Law, their Action Bars:
Their Cause They to an easier Issue put:
They will be heard, or They lug out, and cut.
  Another Branch of their Revenue still
Remains beyond their boundless Right to kill,        80
Their Father yet alive, impow’r’d to make a Will. 7
For, what their Prowess Gain’d, the Law declares
Is to themselves alone, and to their Heirs:
No share of that goes back to the begettor,
But if the Son fights well, and Plunders better,        85
Like stout Coranus, his old shaking Sire
Does a Remembrance in his Will desire:
Inquisitive of Fights, and longs in vain
To find him in the Number of the Slain:
But still he lives, and rising by the War,        90
Enjoyes his Gains, and has enough to spare:
For ’tis a Noble General’s prudent part
To cherish Valour, and reward Desert:
Let him be dawb’d with Lace, live High, and Whore;
Sometimes be Lowzy, but be never Poor.

The End of the Sixteenth Satyr.
        95
 
Note 1. Juno was Mother to Mars the God of War: Venus was his Mistress. [back]
Note 2. Camillus (who being first Banish’d by his ungrateful Countrymen the Romans, afterwards return’d, and freed them from the Gaules,) made a Law, which prohibited the Souldiers from Quarrelling without the Camp, lest upon that pretence they might happen to be absent when they ought to be on Duty. [back]
Note 3. This Cause is worthy him, &c. The Poet Names a Modenese Lawyer, whom he calls Vagellius; who was so Impudent that he would Plead any Cause, right or wrong, without Shame or Fear. [back]
Note 4. Hob-nail’d Shoos. The Roman Souldiers wore Plates of Iron under their Shoos, or stuck them with Nails; as Countrymen do now. [back]
Note 5. Land-Marks were us’d by the Romans, almost in the same manner as now: And as we go once a Year in Procession, about the Bounds of Parishes, and renew them, so they offer’d Cakes upon the Stone or Land-Mark. [back]
Note 6. The Courts of Judicature were hung and spread, as with us: But spread only before the Hundred Judges were to sit and judge Publick Causes, which were call’d by Lot. [back]
Note 7. The Roman Souldiers had the Priviledge of making a Will, in their Father’s Life-time; Of what they had purchac’d in the Wars, as being no part of their Patrimony. By this Will they had Power of excluding their own Parents, and giving the Estate so gotten to whom they pleas’d. Therefore, says the Poet, Coranus (a Souldier Contemporary with Juvenal, who had rais’d his Fortune by the Wars) was Courted by his own Father, to make him his Heir. [back]
 
 
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