Imágenes de páginas
PDF

No part of life's more happy, when with bread | \'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, froin heat and cold But thuse of age ev'n with our years increase.

secure, We love not loaded boards, and goblets crown'd, | Like virgins, sweet, and beauteous, when mature. But free from surfeits our repose is sound. On fruits, Powers, 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 smells 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 maxim teach, | And with what arts to enrich every mould, 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. Naiure by art we nobly ineliorate; 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 berself depart, All the commands her race upon her lays; (Strange transinigration !) 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 Norain I only pleas'd with that resource. The small bud captivates the greatest trec. 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 . tame spread,

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 from 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 inspird, 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, whu 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, forbil'st me to be long, In summer to sit still, or walk, I love, Although thy trunk be neither large nór strung. Neara cool fountain, or a shady 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 bigh Sun at noon, and fire'at night? Whate'er thy many fingers can entwine,

While our old friends and weighbouis feast and Proves thy support, and all its strength is thine.

play, Though Nature gave not legs, it gave thee hands, And with ibeir harmless mirth turn night to day, By which thy prop the proudest cedar stands; l'npurchas'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 inor als springs. That honour and authority which dwells But lest thou should'st consuine ihy 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 iais'd, Or like the bee (sweet as thy blood) desigu'd | And that (for which I great applause recriv'd) To be destroy'd to propagate his kind,

As a true maxim hath been since belier'd. Lest thy redundant and superfluous juice

That most unhappy age great pity needs, Should fading leaves instead of fruits produce, Which to defend itself new inatter pleads; The pruner's hand, wiih letting blood, must | Not from grey hairs authority doth Aow, quench

Nor from bald heads, nor from a wrinkled brow, Thy heat and thy exuberant parts retrench : But our past life, when virtuously spent, Then from the joints of thy prolific stem

Must to our age thuse happy fiuits present. A swelling knot is raised (callid a gem),

Those things to age most honourable are, Whence in sbort space, itself the cluster shows, Which easy, common, and but light appear, And from earth's wisture wisi with sun-beans Salutes, cousulting, compliment, resort,

Crowding attendancı tu, aud from the count:

grows.

And not on Rome alone this honour waits, The youngest in the morning are not sure,
But on all civil and well-govern'd states.

That till the night their life they can secure, Lysander pleading in his city's praise,

Their age stands more expos'd to accidents From thence his strongest argument did raise, Than ours, nor common care their fate prevents : That Sparta did with honour age support, Death's force(with terrour)against Nature strives, Paying them just respect at stage, and court. Nor one of many to ripe age arrives. But at proud Athens youth did age out-face,

From this ill fate the world's disorders rise, Nor at the plays would rise, or give them place.

For if all men were old they would be wise; When an Athenian stranger of great age

Years and experience our forefathers taught, Arriv'd at Sparta, climbing up the stage,

Them under laws, and into cities brought; To him the whole assembly rese, and ran

hould the fear of death be To place and ease this old and reverend man, To age, which is as common to the young? Who thus his thanks returns, “ Th’ Athenians | Your hopeful brothers, and my sin, to you know

(Scipio) and me, this maxim makes too true : What's to be done ; but what they know, not do." | But vigorous youth may his gay thoughts erect Here our great senate's orders I may quote, To many years, which age must not expect; The first in age is still the first in vote.

But when he sees his airy hopes deceivel; Nor honour, nor high birth, nor great command With grief he says, “ Who this would have beIn competition with great years may stand.

Tier'd?Why should our youth's short transient pleasures

We happier are than they, who but desir'd dare

To possess tliat, which we long since acquir'd. With age's lasting honours to compare?

What if our age to Nestor's could extend? On the world's stage, when our applause grows

"Tis vain to think that lasting, which must end; high,

And when 'tis past, not any part reinains For acting here life's tragic-comedy,

Thereof, but the reward which virtue gains. The lookers-on will say we act not well,

Days, months, and years, like running waters Unless the last the former scenes excel:

flow, But age is froward, uneasy, scrutinous,

Nor what is past, nor what's to come, we know: Hard to be pleas'd, and parsimonious;

Our date, how short soe'er, must us content, But all those errours from our manners rise, When a good actor doth bis part present, Not from our years; yet some morosities

In every act he our attention draws, We must expect, since jealousy belongs

That at the last he may find just applause; To age, of scorn, and tender sense of wrongs :

So (though but short) yet we must learn the art Yet those are mollify'd, or not discern'd,

Of virtue, on this stage to act our part; Where civil arts and manners have been learn'd:

True wisdom must our actions so direct, So the Twins' humours, in our Terence, are Not only the last plaudit to expect : plast, Unlike, this harsh and rude, that smooth and fair.

Yet grieve no more, though long that part should Our nature here is not unlike our wine,

Than husbandmen, because the spring is past. Some sorts, when old, continue brisk and fine ;

The spring, like youth, fresh blossoms doth proSo age's gravity may seem severe,

duce, But nothing harsh or bitter ought t'appear.

But autumn makes them ripe, and fit fur use ; Of age's avarice I cannot see

So age a mature mellowness doth set What colour, ground, or reason there should be: On the green promises of youthful heat. Is it not folly, when the way we ride

All things which Nature did ordain are good, Is short, for a long voyage to provide ?

And so must be receiv'd and understood. To avarice some title youth may own,

Age like ripe apples, on Earth's bosom drops, To reap in autumn what the spring had sown;

While force our youth, like fruits untimely, And with the providence of bees, or ants,

crops; Prevent with summer's plenty, winter's wants.

| The sparkling flame of our warm blood expires, But age scarce sows,till Death stands by to reap,

| As when huge streams are pour'd on raging tires; And to a stranger's hand transfers the heap;

But age unforc'd falls by her own consent, Afraid to be so once, she's always poor,

As coals to ashes, when the spirit 's spent; And to avoid a mischief makes it sure.

Therefore to death I with such joy resurt, Such maduess, as for fear of death to die,

As seamen from a tempest to their port.
Is, to be poor for fear of poverty.

Yet to that port ourselves we must not force,
Before our pilot, Nature, steers our course.

Let us the causes of our fear condemn,
THE FOURTH PART.

Then Death at his approach we shall contemn.

Though to our heat of youth our age seems cold, Now against (that which terrifies our age) Yet, when resolv'd, it is more brave and buld. The last, and greatest grievance, we engage; Thus Solon to Pisistratus reply'd, To ber, grim Death appears in all her shapes, Demanded, on what succour he rely'd, The hungry grave for her due tribute gapes. When with so few he boldly did engage ; Fond, foolish man ! with fear of death surpris'd, He said, he took his courage from his age. Which either should be wish'd for, or despis'd; / Then death seemns welcome, and our nature kind, This, if our souls with bodies death destroy; When, leaving is a perfect sense and mind, Tbat, if our souls a secund life enjoy.

She (like a workman in his science skill' I) What else is to be fear'd, when we shall gain Pulls down with ease, what her own land did Eternal life, or have no sense of pain?

build.

That art which knew to join all parts in one, He th' immortality of souls proclaim'd,
Makes the least violent separation.

(Whom th’ oracle of men the wisest nam'd.) Yet though our ligaments betimes grow weak, Why should we doubt of that, whereof our sense We must not force them till themselves they break. Finds demonstration from experience ? Pythagoras bids us in our station stand,

Our minds are here, and there, below, above; Till God, our general, shall us disband.

Nothing that 's mortal can so swiftly move. Wise Solon dying, wish'd his friends might grieve, Our thoughts to future things their flight direct, That in their memories he still might live.

And in an instant all that 's past collect. Yet wiser Ennius gave command to all

Reason, remembrance, wit, inventive art, His friends, not to bewail his funeral;

No nature, but immortal, can impart. Your tears for such a death in vain you spend, Man's soul in a perpetual motion flows, Which straight in impiortality shall end,

And to no outward cause that motion owes; In death if there be any sense of pain,

And therefore that no end can overtake, But a short space to age it will remain ;

Because our minds cannot themselves forsake. On which, without my fears, my wishes wait, And since the matter of our soul is pure But timorous youth on this should meditate: And simple, which no mixture ean endure Who for light pleasure this advice rejects, Of parts, which not among themselves agree; Finds little, when his thoughts he recollects. Therefore it never can divided be. Our death (though not its certain date) we know; | And Nature shows (without philosophy) Nor whether it may be this night or no:

What cannot be divided, cannot die. How they can they contented live, who fear We ev'n in early infancy discern, A danger certain ? and none knows how near. Knowledge is born with babes before they leam; They err, who for the fear of death dispute, Ere they can speak, they find so many ways Our gallant actions this mistake confute.

To serve their turn, and see more arts than Thee Brutus, Rome's first martyr I must name,

days: The Curtii bravely div'd the gulph of flame; Before their thoughts they plainly can express, Attilius sacrific'd himself, to save

The words and things they know are numberless, That faith, which to his barbarous foes he gave; Which Nature only, and no art could find, With the two Scipio's did thy uncle fall,

But what she taught before, she call'd to mind. Rather than fly from conquering Hannibal ; | These to his sons (as Xenophon records) The great Marcellus (who restored Rome) Of the great Cyrus were the dying words; His greatest foes with honour did intomb.

Fear not when I depart (nor therefore mourn) Their lives how many of our legions threw

I shall be no where, or to nothing turn : Into the breach? whence no return they knew | That soul, which gave me life, was seen by none, Must then the wise, the old, the learned, fear Yet by the actions it design'd, was known; What not the rude, the young, th' unlearu'd for- | And though its night no mortal eye shall see, bear?

Yet know, for ever it the same shall be. Satiety from all things else doth coine, .

That soul, which can immortal glory give, Then life must to itself grow wearisome.

To her own virtues must for ever live. Those trifles wherein children take delight Can you believe, that man's all-knowing mind Grow nauseous to the young man's appetite; Can to a mortal body be confin'd ? And from those gaieties our youth requires Though a foul foolish prison her immure To exercise their minds, our age retires.

On Earth, she (when escap'd) is wise and pure. And when the last delights of age shall die, Man's body, when dissolv'd, is but the same Life in itself will find satiety.

(hear, 1 With beasts, and must return from whence it Now you, my friends, my sense of death shall

came; - Which I can well describe, for he stands near. But whence into our bodies reason flows, Your father, Lælius, and your's, Scipio,

None sees it, when it comes, or where it goes. My friends, and men of honour, I did know; Nothing resembles death so much as sleep, As certainly as we must die, they live

Yet thenour minds themselves from slumbers keep, That life which justly may that name receive: When from their fleshly bondage they are free, TUI from these prisons of our flesh relcasid, Then what divine and future things they see! Our souls with heavy burthens lie oppress'd; Which makes it most apparent whence they are, Whicb part of man from Heaven falling down, And what they shall hereafter be, declare." Earth, in her low abyss, doth hide and drown, This noble speech the dying Cyrus made. A place so dark to the celestial light,

Me, Scipio, shall no argument persuade, And pure eternal fire's quite opposite.

Thy grandsire, and his brother, to whom Fame The gods through human bodies did disperse Gave, from two conquer'd parts o’th' world, their An heavenly soul, to guide this universe,

name, That man, when he of heavenly bodies saw Nor thy great grandsire, nor thy father Paul, The order, might from thence a pattern draw; Who fell at Cannæ against Hannibal; Nor this to me did iny own dictates show, Nor I (for 'tis permitted to the ag'd But to the old philosophers I owe.

To boast their actions) had so oft engag'd I heard t'ythagoras, and those who came

In battles, and in pleadings, had we thought, With him, anil from our country took their name; | That only Fame our virtuous actions bought; Who never doubted but the beams divine,

'Twere better in soft pleasure and repose Derir'd from gods in mortal breasts did shine. Ingloriously our peaceful eyes to close: Nor from my knowledge did the ancients hide Some high assurance hath possist my mind, Hhat Socrates declar'd the hour he dy'd; After my death an happier life to find.

Unless our souls from the immortals came, Not only those I nam'd I there shall greet, What end have we to seek immortal fame? But my own gallant, virtuous Cato meet. * All virtuous spirits some such hope attends, Nor did I weep, when I to ashes turn'd Therefore the wise his days with pleasure ends. His belov'd body, who should mine have buinid. The foolish and short-sighted die with fear, I in my thoughts beheld his soul ascend, That they go no-where, or they know not | Where his fixt hopes our interview attend : where.

Then cease to wonder that I feel no grief The wise and virtuous soul, with clearer eyes, From age, which is of my delights the chief. Before she parts, some happy port descries. My hopes, if this assurance hath deceiv'd, My friends, your fathers I shall surely see | (That I man's soul immortal have believ'd) * Nor only those I lov'd, or who lov'd me;

And if I err, no power shall dispossess But such as before ours did end their days My thoughts of that expected happiness : Of whom we hear, and read, and write their Though some minute philosophers pretend, praise.

That with our days our pains and pleasures end. This I believe : for were I on my way,

If it be so, I hold the safer side,
None should persuade me to return, or stay: For none of them my errour shall deride;
Should some god tell me, that I should be born, And if hereafter no rewards appear,
And cry again, his offer I would scorn; . Yet virtuc hath itself rewarded here.
Asham'd, when I have ended well my race, | If those, who this opinion have despis’d,
To be led back to my first starting-place.

And their whole life to pleasure sacrific'd,
And since with life we are more griev'd than joy'd, Should feel their errour, they, when undeceiv'd,
We should be either satisfy'd or cloy'd:

Too late will wish, that me they had believ'd. Yet will I not my length of days deplore,

If souls no immortality obtain,
As many wise and learn'd have done before; | 'Tis fit our bodies should be out of pain.
Nor can I think such life in vain is lent,

The same uneasiness which every thing Which for our country and our friends is spent. Gives to our nature, life must also bring. Hence from an inn, not from my home I pass, Good acts, if long, seem tedious; so is age, Since Nature meant us here no dwelling-place. | Acting too long upon this Earth, her stage, Happy when I, from this turmoil set free, Thus much for age, to which when you arrive, Tbat peaceful and divine assembly see:

That joy to you, which it gives me, 'will give.

« AnteriorContinuar »