« AnteriorContinuar »
Than that those years, which others think ex- of honour, wealth, and power, to make them treme,
sweet; Nor to yourself, nor us uneasy seem ;
Not every one such happiness can meet. Under which weight most, like th' old giants, CAT. Some weight your argument, my groan,
(When a Seriphian thus did him upbraid,
The more uneasy is his age's weight. We say it steals upon us unaware ;
Age's chief arts, and arms, are to grow wise, Our want ef reasoning these false measures makes, Virtue to know, and known to exercise; Youth runs to age, as childhood youth o'er- All just returns to age then virtue makes, takes.
Nor her in her extremity forsakes; How much more grievous would our lives ap- The sweetest cordial we receive at last, pear,
Is conscience of our virtuous actions pasi. To reach th' eighth hundred, than the eightieth I (when a youth) with reverence did look
On Quintus Fabius, who Tarentum took; Of what, in that long space of time bath past, Yet in his age such cheerfulness was seen, To foolish age will no remembrance last. As if his years and mine had equal been : My age's conduct when you seem t'admire, His gravity was mixt with gentleness, (Which that it may deserve, I much desire) Nor had his age made his good-humour less; 'Tis my first rule, on Nature, as my guide Then was he well in years, (the same that he Appointed by the gods, I have rely'd;
Was conse), that of my nativity)
On him at Capua I in arms did wait.
I five years after at Tarentum wan Which, like ripe fruits, must either rot or fall. The quæstorship, and then our love began, And this from Nature must be gently borne, And four years after, when I prætor was, Else her (as giants did the gods) we scorn. He pleaded, and the Cincian law did pass.
LÆL. Bat, sir, 'tis Scipio's and my desire, With useful diligence he us'd tengage; Since to long life we gladly would aspire, ( hear, | Yet with the temperate arts of patient age That from your grave instructions we might | He breaks fierce Hannibal's insalting heats; How we, like you, may this great burthen bear. Of which exploits thus our friend Endits treats
Cat. . This I resolv'd before, but now shall do | He by delay restor'd the commonwealth, With great delight, since 'tis requir'd by you. Nor preferr'd rumour before public health.
LÆl. If to yourself it will not tedious prove,
THE - ARGUMENT.
Four causes, which its misery declare.
1. Because our body's strength it much im Two consuls (who in years my egnals were)
pairs : When senators, lamenting I did hear,
2. That it takes off our minds from great af. That age from them had all their pleasures torn,
fairs : And them their former suppliants now scorn: 3. Next that our sense of pleasure it deprives: They, what is not to be accus'd, accuse,
4. Last, that approaching death attends out Not others, but themselves their age abuse :
lives. Else this might me concern, and all my friends, Of all these several causes Pn discourse, Whose cheerful age, with honour, youth at-, And then of each, in order weigh the force."
tends, Joy'd that from pleasure's slavery they are free,
THE FIRST PART. And all respects due to their age they see.
The old from such affairs is only freed, In its true colours this complaint appears
Which vigorous youth, and strength of body The ill effect of manners, not of years ;
need : For on their life no grievous burthen lies,
But to more high affairs our age is lent, Who are well-natur'd, temperate, and wise:
| Most properly when heats of youth are spent. But an inhuman and ill-tempered mind,
Did Fabius, and your father Scipio
(Whose daughter my son married) nothing do? This I believe ; yet others may dispute, Fabricii, Coruncani, Curii, heirage (as yours) can never bear such fruit | Whose courage, counsel, and authority,
The Roman commonwealth restor'd did boast, '| Such science in his art of augury, Nor Appius, with whose strength his sight was No Roman ever was more learn'd than he ; . lost,
Knowledge of all things present and to coine, Who, when the senate was to peace inclin'd Remembering all the wars of ancient Rome, With Pyrrhus, show'd his reason was not blind. Nor only there, but all the world's beside : Whither's our courage and our wisdom come, Dying in extreme age, 1 prophesy'd When Rome itself conspires the fate of Rome? That which is come to pass, and did discern The rest with ancient gravity and skill
From his survivors I could nothing learn. He spake (for his oration's extent still.)
This long discourse was but to let you see, 'Tis seventeen years since he had consul been That his long life could not uneasy be. The second time, and there were ten between ;
Few like the Fabii or the Scipios are
Takers of cities, conquerors in war.
[skill, With honour after ninety years did die.
His master Gorgias at the hundredth year speed,
And seventh, not his studies did forbear : ulrom wise counsels and commands, proc ed; | And, ask'd, why he no sooner left the stage, Those arts age wants not, which to age belong,
Said, he saw nothing to accuse old age. Not heat, but cold experience, makes us strong.
None but the foolish, who their lives abuse, A consul, tribune, general, I have been,
Age, of their own mistakes and crimes, accuse. All sorts of war I have past through, and seen; All commonwealths (as by records is seen) And now grown old, I seem t' abandon it,
As by age preserv'd, by youth destroy'd have Yet to the senate I prescribe what's fit.
When the tragedian Nævis did demand, [been. I every day 'gainst Carthage war proclaim, Why did your commonwealth no longer stand ? (For Rome's destruction hath been long her aim) 'Twas answer'd, that their senators were new, Nor shall I cease till I her ruin see,
Poolish and young, and such as nothing knew. Which triumph may the gods design for thee; Nature to youth hot rashness doth dispense, That Scipio may revenge his grandsire's ghost, But with cold prudence age doth recompense ; Whose life at Cannæ with great honour lost But age, 'tis said, will memory decay : Is on record ; nor had he weary'd been
So (if it be not exercis'd) it may ; With age, if he an hundred years had seen : Or, if by nature it be dull and slow : He had not us'd excursions, spears, or darts, Themistocles (when ag'd) the names did know But counsel, order, and such aged arts;
Of all th' Athenians; and none grow so old, Which, if our ancestors had not retain'd, Not to remember where they hid their gold The senate's name our council had not gain'd. From age such art of memory we learn The Spartans to their highest magistrate
To forget nothing, which is our concer; The name of Elder did appropriate :
Their interest no priest nor sorcerer. Therefore his fame for ever shall remain, Forgets, nor lawyer, nor philosopher ; How gallantly Tarentum he did gain,
No understanding memory can want, With vigilant conduct : when that sharp reply Where wisdom studious industry doth plant. He gave to Salinator, I stood by,
Nor does it only in the active live, Who to the castle fled, the town being lost, But in the quiet and contemplative. Yet he to Maximus did vainly boast,
When Sophocles (who plays when aged wrote) 'Twas by my means Tarentum you obtain'd; Was by his sons before the judges brought, Tis true, had you not lost, I had not gain'd. Because he pay'd the Muses such respect, And as much honour on his gown did wait, His fortune, wife, and children to neglect ; . As on his arms, in his fifth consulate.
Almost condemn'd, he mov'il the judges thus, When his colleague Carvilius stept aside, “ Hear, but instead of me, my Oedipus :" The tribune of the people would divide
The judges hearing with applause, at th’ end
Freed him, and said, “ No fool such lines had Against the senate's will, he will not yield; What poets and what orators can I (penn'd." When being angry, boldly he declares
Recount! what princes in philosophy! Those things were acted under happy stars, Whose constant studies with their age did strive, From which the commonwealth found good ef- | Nor did they those, though those did them surBut otherwise they came from bad aspects. (fects,
vive. Many great things of Fabius I could tell,
Old husbandmen I at Sabinum know, But his son's death did all the rest excel; Who for another year dig, plough, and sow; (His gallant son, though young, had consul been) | For nerer any man was yet so old His funeral oration I have seen
But hop'd his life one winter more might hold. Often"; and when on that I turn my eyes, Cæcilius vainly said, “ Each day we spend I all the old philosophers despise.
Discovers something, which must needs offend.". Though he in all the people's eyes seem'd great, But sometimes age may pleasant things behold, Yet greater be appear'd in his retreat;
And nothing that offends : he should have told When feasting with his private friends at home, This not to age, but youth, who oftener see Sueb counsel, such discourse, from him did come, | What not alone offends, but hurts, than we :
That I in him, which he in age, condemn'd, Cyrus, though ag'd, (if Xenophon say true)
Neither of these, in body or in mind,
Before their death the least decay did find. When they with reverence follow where we lead, | I speak not of myself, though none deny And in straight paths by our directions tread! To age, to praise their youth, the liberty: And ev'n my conversation here I see,
Such an unwasted strength I cannot boast, As well receiv'd by you, as yours by me.
Yet now my years are eighty-four almost : 'Tis disingenuous to accuse our age
And though from what it was my strength is far, Of idleness, who all ovi powers engage
Both in the first and second Punic war, In the same studies, the same course to hold ; Nor at Thermopylæ, under Glabrio, Nor think our reason for new arts too old.
Nor when I consul into Spain did go; Solon the sage his progress never ceas'd,
But yet I feel no weakness, nor hath length But still his learning with his days increas'd; Of winters quite enervated my strength; And I with the same greediness did seek,
And I my guest, my client, or my friend, As water when I thirst, to swallow Greek ;
Still in the courts of justice can defend: Which I did only lear, that I might know
Neither must I that proverb's truth allow Those great examples which I follow now:
“ Who would be ancient, must be early so." And I have heard that Socrates the wise,
I would be youthful still, and find no need, Learn’d on the lute for his last exercise.
To appear old, till I was so indeed. Though many of the ancients did the same, And yet you see my hours not idle are, To improve knowledge was my ouly aim. Though with your strength I cannot mine com
Yet this centurion's doth your's surmount,
Milo, when entering the Olympic game, Now int' our second grievance I must break,
With a huge ox upon his shoulder came. .. 'That loss of strength makes understanding | Would you the force of Milo's body find, weak.”
Rather than of Pythagoras's mind ? I grieve no more my youthful strength to want, The force which Nature gives with care retain, Than, young, that of a bull or elephant ; But, when decay'd, 'tis folly to complain ; Then with that force content which Nature gave, | In age to wish for youth is full as vain, Nor am I now displeas'd with what I have.
As for a youth to turn a child again. When the young wrestlers at their sport grew Simple and certain Nature's ways appear, warm,
And she sets forth the seasons of the year. Old Milo wept to see his naked arm;
So in all parts of life we find her truth, And cry'd, 'twas dead : Trifler, thine heart, and weakness to childhood, rashness to our youtby head,
To elder years to be discreet and grare, And all that's in them (not thy arm) are dead; Then to old age maturity she gave, This folly every looker-on derides,
(Scipio) you know, how Massinissa bears To glory only in thy arms and sides,
His kingly port at more than ninety years! Our gallant ancestors let fall no tears,
When marching with his foot, he walks till nigbt; Their strength decreasing by increasing years ; When with his horse, he never will alight; But they advanc'd in wisdom every hour,
Though cold or wet, his head is always bare ; And made the commonwealth advance in power. So hot, so dry, bis aged members are. But orators may grieve, for in their sides,
You see how exercise and temperance Rather than heads, their faculty abides; Ev'n to old years a youthful strength advance Yet I have heard old voices loud and clear, Our law (because from age our strength retira And still my own sometimes the senate hear. No duty which belongs to strength requires, When th’old with smooth and gentle voices plead, But age doth many men so feeble make, They by the ear their well.pleas'd audience lead : That they no great design can undertake; Which, if I had not strength enough to do, Yet, that to age not singly is apply'd, I could (my Lælius, and my Scipio)
But to all man's infirmities beside. What's to be done, or not be done, instruct, That Scipio, who adopted you, did fall And to the maxims of good life conduct.
Into such pains, he had no health at all: Cneius and Publius Scipio, and (that man Who else had equall'd Africanus' parts, Of men) your grandsire, the great African, Exceeding bim in all the liberal arts. Were joyful, when the flower of noble blood Why should those errours then imputed be Crowded their dwellings, and attending stood, To age alone, from which our youth's not free! Like oracles their counsels to receive,
Every disease of age we may prevent,
And those decays (to speak the naked truth, And if our body thence refreshment finds,
Our lamp, the light for want of it will die :
Though bodies may be tir'd with exercise, | Intoxicating both, by them, she finds,
Furies, whieh, reason's divine chains had bound, He represents the follies on the stage ;
(That being broken) all the world confound. They're credulous, forgetful, dissolute,
Lust, Murder, Treason, Avarice, and Hell Neither those crimes to age he doth impute, Itself broke loose, in Reason's palace dwell : But to old men to whom those crimes belong. Truth, Honour, Justice, Temperance, are fled, Lust, petulance, rashness, are in youth more All her attendants into darkness led. strong
But why all this discourse? when pleasure's rage Than age, and yet young men those vice3 hate, Hath conquer'd reason we must treat with age. Who virtuous are, discreet and temperate : Age undermines, and will in time surprise And so what we call dotage, seldom breeds Her strongest forts: and cut off all supplies; In bodies, but where Nature sows the seeds. And join'd in league with strong necessity, There are five daughters, and four gallant sons, Pleasure must fly, or else by famine die. In whom the blood of noble Appius runs,
Flaminius, whom a consulship had grac'd,
(Then censor) from the senate I displac'd;
This crime I could not leave unpunished,
That public honour, which at Rome he gain'd. His sons paid reverence, and his servants fear: Then to our age (when not to pleasures bent) The order and the ancient discipline
This seems an honour, not disparagement. Of Romans did in all his actions shine.
We, not all pleasures, like the Stoics, hate; Authority kept up old age secures,
But love and seek, those which are moderate. Whuse dignity as long as life endures.
(Though divine Plato thus of pleasures thought, Something of youth I in old age approve, They us, with hooks and baits, like fishes caught) But more the marks of age in youth I love. When quæstor, to the gods, in public calls Who this observes, may in his body find
I was the first who set up festivals. Decrepit age, but never in his mind.
Not with high tastes our appetites did force, The seven volumes of my own Reports,
But fill'd with conversation and discourse ; Wherein are all the pleadings of our courts;
Which feasts convivial meetings we did name: All noble monuments of Greece are come Not like the ancient Greeks, who, to their shame, Unto my hands, with those of ancient Rome. Calld it a compotation, not a feast; The pontificial, and the civil law,
Declaring the worst part of it the best. I study still, and thence orations draw.
Those entertainments I did then frequent* And to confirm my memory, at night,
Sometimes with youthful heat and merriment: What I hear, see, or do, by day I still recite. But now I thank my age, which gives me ease These exercises for my thoughts I find,
From those excesses; yet myself I please These labours are the chariots of my mind. With cheerful talk to entertain my guests, To serve my friends, the senate I frequent,
(Discourses are to age continual feasts) And there, what I before digested, vent.
The love of meat and wine they recompense, Which only from my strength of mind proceeds, And cheer the mind, as much as those the sense. Nor any outward force of body needs :
I'm not more pleas'd with gravity among Which, if I could not do, I should delight The ag'd, than to be youthful with the young ; On what I would to ruminate at night.
Nor 'gainst all pleasures proclaim open war, Whoin such practices their minds engage, To which, in age, some natural motions are. Nor fear nor think of their approaching age;
And still at my Sabinum I delight Which by degrees invisibly doth creep:
To treat my neighbours till the depth of night, Nor do we seein to die, but fall asleep,
But we the sense of gust and pleasure want
Which youth at full possesses, this I grant; THE THIRD PART.
But age seeks not the things which youth re
quires, Now must I draw my forces 'gainst that host And no man needs that which he not desires. Of pleasures, which i th' sea of age are lost, | When Sophocles was ask'd, if he deny'd o thou most high transcendent gift of age ! Himself the use of pleasures, he reply'd Youth from its folly thus to disengage.
“ I humbly thank th' immortal gods, who me And now receive from me that most divine From that fierce tyrant's insolence set free.” Oration of that noble Tarentine,
But they, whom pressing appetites constrain, Which at Tarentum l long since did hear, Grieve when they cannot their desires obtain. When I attended the great Fabius there. Young men the use of pleasure understand, Ye gods! was it man's nature, or his fate, As of an object new, and near at hand : Betray'd him with sweet pleasure's poison'd Though this stands more remote from age's sight, bait ?
Yet they behold it not without delight: Which he with all designs of art or power, As ancient soldiers, from their duties eas'd, Doth with unbridled appetite devour :
With sense of honour and rewards are pleas'd; And as all poisons seek the noblest part,
So from ambitious hopes and lusts releast, Pleasure possesses first the head and heart; Delighted with itself, our age doth rest.
No part of life's more happy, when with bread | l'th' spring, like youth, it yields an acid taste, Of ancient knowledge, and new learning fed. But summer doth, like age, the sourness waste; All youthful pleasures by degrees must cease, Then cloth'd with leaves, from heat and cold But thuse of age ev’n with our years increase.
secure, We love not loaded boards, and goblets crownd, Like virgins, sweet, and beauteous, when mature. But free from surfeits our repose is sound. On fruits, flowers, herbs, and plants, I long could When old Fabricius to the Samnites went,
dwell, Ambassador, from Rome to Pyrrhus sent, At once to please my eye, my taste, my smell ; He heard a grave philosopher maintain, My walks of trees, all planted by my hand, That all the actions of our life were vain, Like children of my own begetting stand. Which with our sense of pleasure not conspir'd; To tell the several natures of each earth, Fabricius the philosopher desir'd,
What fruits from each most properly take birth That he to Pyrrhus would that maxiin teach, And with what arts to enrich every mond, And to the Samnites the same doctrine preach; The dry to moisten, and to warm the cold. Then of their conquest he should doubt no more, But when we graft, or buds inoculate, Whom their own pleasures overcame before. Nature by art we nobly meliorate; Now into rustic matters I must fall.
As Orpheus' music wildest beasts did tame, Which pleasure seems to me the chief of all. From the sour crab the sweetest apple came: Age no impediment to those can give,
The mother to the daughter goes to school, Who wisely by the rules of Nature live.
The species changed doth her laws o’er rule; Earth (though our mother) cheerfully obeys Nature herself doth from herself depart, All the commands her race upon her lays; (Strange transmigration !) by the power of For whatsoever from our hand she takes.
' art. Greater or less, a vast return she makes, How little things give law to great! we see Nor am I only pleas'd with that resource. The small bud captivates the greatest tree. But with her ways, her method, and her force. Here even the power divine we imitate, The seed her bosom (by the plough made fit) And seem not to beget but to create. Receives, where kindly she embraces it, Much was I pleas'd with fowls and beasts, the Which, with her genuine warmth diffus'd and
For food and profit, and the wild for game. Sends forth betimes a green and tender head, Excuse me when this pleasant string I touch, Then gives it motion, life, and nourishment, (For age of what delights it, speaks too much.) Which froin the root through nerves and veins Who twice victorious Pyrrhus conquered, are sent,
The Sabines and the Samnites captive led, Straight in a hollow sheath upright it grows, Great Curius, his remaining days did spend, And, form receiving doth itself disclose : And in this happy life his triumphs end. Drawn up in ranks and files, the bearded spikes My farm stands near, and when I there retire, Guard it from birds, as with a stand of pikes. His and that age's temper I admire : When of the vine I speak, I seem inspir'd, The Samnite chiefs, as by his fire he sate, And with delight, as with her juice, am fir'd; With a vast sum of gold on him did wait; At Nature's god-like power I stand amaz'd, “ Return,” said he, “ your gold I nothing weigh, Which such vast bodies hath from atoms rais'd. When those, who can command it, me obey :" The kernel of a grape, the fig's small grain, This my assertion proves, he may be old, Can clothe a mountain, and o'er shade a plain : And yet not sordid, who refuses gold. But thou, dear vine, forbid'st me to be long, In summer to sit still, or walk, I love, Although thy trunk be neither large nor strung. Neara cool fountain, or a slady grove. Nor can thy head (not helpt) itself sublime, What can in winter render more delight, Yet, like a serpent, a tall tree can climb; Than the high Sun at noon, and fire at night? Whate'er thy many fingers can entwine, While our old friends and neighbours feast and Proves thy support, and all its strength is thine.
play, Though Nature gave not legs, it gave thee bands, And with iheir harmless mirth turn night to day, By which thy prop the proudest cedar stands; Unpurchas'd plenty our full tables loads, As thou hast hands, so hath thy offspring wings, And part of what they lent, return t'our gods. And to the highest part of mortals springs. That honour and authority which dwells But lest thou should'st consume thy wealth in With age, all pleasures of our youth excels vain
Observe, that I that age have only prais'd And starve thyself to feed a numerous train, Whose pillars were on youth's foundations rais'd, Or like the bee (sweet as thy blood) desigu'd And that (for which I great applanse receiv'd) To be destroy'd to propagate his kind,
As a true maxim hath been since believ'd. Lest thy redundant and superfluous juice That most unbappy age great pity needs, Should fading leaves instead of fruits produce, Which to defend itself new matter pleads; The pruner's hand, with letting blood, must Not from grey hairs authority doth flow, quench
Nor from bald heads, nor from a wrinkled bron, Thy heat and thy exuberant parts retrench : But our past life, when virtuously spent, Then from the joints of thy prolific stein
Must to our age those happy fruits present. A swelling knot is raised (call'd a gem),
Those things to age most honourable are, Whence in short space, itself the cluster shows, Which easy, common, and but light appear, and from earth's moisture mixt with sun-beams Salutes, consulting, compliment, resort, grows
Crowding attendance to, and from the court: