Varus, whom I chanced to meet
The other evening in the street,
Engaged me there, upon the spot,
To see a mistress he had got.
She seemed, as far as I can gather,
Lively and smart and handsome rather.
There, as we rested from our walk,
We entered into various talk--
As, how much might Bithynia bring?
And had I found it a good thing?
I answered, as it was the fact,
The province had been stript and sackt;
That there was nothing for the praetors,
And still less for us wretched creatures,
His poor companions and toad-eaters.
"At least," says she, "you bought some fellows
To bear your litter; for they tell us,
Our only good ones come from there."
I chose to give myself an air;
"Why, truly, with my poor estate,
The difference wasn't quite so great
Betwixt a province, good or bad,
That where a purchase could be had,
Eight lusty fellows, straight and tall,
I shouldn't find the wherewithal
To buy them." But it was a lie;
For not a single wretch had I--
No single cripple fit to bear
A broken bedstead or a chair.
She, like a strumpet, pert and knowing,
Said--"Dear Catullus, I am going
To worship at Serapis' shrine--
Do lend me, pray, those slaves of thine."
I answered--"It was idly said,--
They were a purchase Cinna made
(Caius Cinna, my good friend)--
It was the same thing in the end,
Whether a purchase or a loan--
I always used them as my own;
Only the phrase was inexact--
He bought them for himself in fact.
But you have caught the general vice
Of being too correct and nice,
Overcurious and precise;
And seizing with precipitation
The slight neglects of conversation."
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