From The Wit and Humor of America, edited by Marshall P. Wilder, Volume IV, New York and London: Funk and Wagnalls and Company, 1911; pp. 760-762.
CÆSAR’S QUIET LUNCH WITH CICERO
BY JAMES T. FIELDS
Have you read how Julius Cæsar
Made a call on Cicero
In his modest Formian villa,
Many and many a year ago?
“I shall pass your way,” wrote Cæsar,
“On the Saturnalia, Third,
And I’ll just drop in, my Tullius,
For a quiet friendly word:
“Don’t make a stranger of me, Marc,
Nor be at all put out,
A snack of anything you have
Will serve my need, no doubt.
“I wish to show my confidence —
The invitation’s mine —
I come to share your simple food,
And taste your honest wine.”
Up rose M. Tullius Cicero,
And seized a Roman punch, —
Then mused upon the god-like soul
Was coming round to lunch
“By Hercules!” he murmured low
Unto his lordly self,
“There are not many dainties left
Upon my pantry shelf!
“But what I have shall Julius share.
What, ho!” he proudly cried,
“Great Cæsar comes this way anon
To sit my chair beside.
“A dish of lampreys quickly stew,
And cook them with a turn,
For that’s his favorite pabulum
From Mamurra I learn.
· · · · · · · ·
His slaves obey their lord’s command;
The table soon is laid
For two distinguished gentlemen, —
One rather bald, ’tis said.
When lo! a messenger appears
To sound approach — and then,
“Brave Cæsar comes to greet his friend
With twice a thousand men!
“His cohorts rend the air with shouts;
That is their dust you see;
The trumpeters announce him near!”
Said Marcus, “Woe is me!”
“Fly, Cassius, fly! assign a guard!
Borrow what tents you can!
Encamp his soldiers round the field,
Or I’m a ruined man!
“Get sheep and oxen by the score!
Buy corn at any price!
O Jupiter! Befriend me now,
And give me your advice!”
· · · · · · · ·
It turned out better than he feared, —
Things proved enough and good, —
And Cæsar made himself at home,
And much enjoyed his food.
But Marcus had an awful fright, —
That can not be denied;
“I’m glad ’tis over!” — when it was —
The host sat down and sighed,
And when he wrote to Atticus,
And all the story told,
He ended his epistle thus:
“J. C. ’s a warrior bold,
“A vastly entertaining man,
In Learning quite immense,
So full of literary skill,
And most uncommon sense,
“But, frankly, I should never say
‘No trouble, sir, at all;
And when you pass this way again,
Give us another call!’ ”