For Want Of Fitting Audience

“Nearly every Roman indeed had qualified himself before he was fifty to be a candidate for the Travellers’ Club; and sometimes the fine gentleman, who declined taking an active part in public affairs, found himself unexpectedly a thousand miles from home, with an imperial rescript in his portmanteau enjoining him not to return to Rome without special leave.

“To such a compulsory journey was the poet Ovid condemned, apparently for his very particular attentions to the Princess Julia. His exile was a piece of ingenious cruelty. He was sent to Tomi, which was far beyond the range of all fashionable bathing-places. The climate was atrocious; the neighbourhood was worse; the wine was execrable and was often hard frozen, and eaten like a lozenge, and his only society was that of the barracks, or a few rich but unpolished corn-factors, who speculated in grain and deals on the shores of the Euxine. To write verses from morn to dewy eve was the unfortunate poet’s only solace; and he sent so many reams of elegies to Rome, that his friends came at last to vote him a bore, and he was reduced, for want of fitting audience, to learn the Getic language, and read his lacrymose couplets to circles of gaping barbarians.”

William Bodham Donne, Old Roads And New Roads (1852)

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