« PoprzedniaDalej »
The Roman commonwealth restord diaboast,
Nor *: with whose strength his sight was
Who, when the senate was to peace inclin'd
With Pyrrhus, show'd his reason was not blind.
wh ther's our courage and our wisdom come,
When Rome itself conspires the fate of Rome
Therest with ancient gravity and skill
He spake (for his oration's extent still.)
Tis seventeen years since he had consul been
The second time, and there were ten between ;
Therefore their argument's of little force,
Who age from great employments would divorce,
As in a ship some climb the shrouds to unfold
The sail, some sweep the deck, some pump the
... hold; skill,
whilst he that guides the helm, employs his And gives the law to them, by sitting still.
Great ". less from courage, strength, and
Than fromwise counsels and commands, proceed;
Those arts age wants not, which to age belong,
Not heat, but cold experience, makes us strong.
A consul, tribune, general, I have been,
All sorts of war I have past through, and seen 5
And now grown old, I seem to abandon it,
Yet to the senate I prescribe what's fit.
levery day'gainst Carthage war proclaim,
(For Rome's destruction hath been long her aim)
Norshall I cease till I her ruin see,
Which triumph may the gods design for thee;
That Scipio may revenge his grandsire's ghost,
Whose life at Cannae with great honour lost
Ison record; nor had he weary'd been
With age, if he an hundred years had seen:
He had not us'd excursions, spears, or darts,
But counsel, order, and such aged arts;
Which, if our ancestors had not retain'd,
The senate's name our council had not gain'd.
The Spartans to their highest magistrate
The name of Elder did appropriate:
Therefore his fame for ever shall remain,
How gallantly Tarentum he did gain,
With vigilant conduct: when that sharp reply
He gave to Salimator, Istood by,
Who to the castle fled, the town being lost,
Yet he to Maximus did vainly boast,
Twas by my means Tarentum you obtain'd;
'Tis true, had you not lost, I had not gain'd.
And as much honour on his gown did wait,
As on his arms, in his fifth consulate.
When his colleague Carvilius stept aside,
The tribune of the people would divide
To them the Gallic and the Picene field,
Against the senate's will, he will not yield;
When being angry, boldly he declares
Those things were acted under happy stars,
Fron which the commonwealth found good es-
But otherwise they came from bad aspects. [fects,
Many great things of Fabius I could tell,
But his son's death did all the rest excel;
(His gallantson, though young, had consul been)
His funeral oration I have seen
often ; and when on that I turn my eyes,
I all the old philosophers despise.
Though he in all the people's eyes seem'd great,
Yet greater he appeard in his retreat;
When feasting with his private friends at home,
Such counsel, such discourse, from him did come,
Such science in his art of atogury,
No Roman ever was more learn'd than he ;
Knowledge of all things present and to corne,
Remembering all the wars of ancient Rome,
Nor only there, but all the world's beside :
Dying in extreme age, 1 prophesy'd
That which is come to pass, and did discern.
From his survivors I could nothing learn.
This long discourse was but to let you see,
That his long life could not uneasy be.
Few like the Fabii or the Scipios are
Takers of cities, conquerors in war.
Yet others to like happy age arrive,
Who modest, quiet, and with virtue live;
Thus Plato writing his philosophy,
With honour after ninety years did die.
Th’ Athenian story writ at ninety-four
By Isocrates, who yet liv'd five years more;
His master Gorgias at the hundredth year
And seventh, not his studies did forbear:
And, ask'd, why he no sooner left the stage,
Said, he saw nothing to accuse old age.
None but the foolish, who their lives abuse,
Age, of their own mistakes and crimes, accuse.
All commonwealths (as by records is seen)
As by age preserv'd, by youth destroy'd have
When the tragedian Navis did demand, [been.
Why did your commonwealth no longer stand
'Twas answer'd, that their senators were new,
Foolish and young, and such as nothing knew.
Nature to youth hot rashness doth dispense,
But with cold prudence age doth recompense;
But age, 'tis said, will memory decay: -
So (if it be not exercis'd) it may ;
Or, if by nature it be dull and slow :
Themisiocles (when ag'd) the names did know
Of all th' Athenians; and none grow so old,
Not to remember where they hid their gold.
From age such art of memory we learn
To forget nothing, which is our concern ;
Their interest no priest nor sorcerer
Forgets, nor lawyer, nor philosopher;
No understanding memory can want,
Where wisdom studious industry doth plant.
Nor does it only in the active live,
But in the quiet and contemplative.
When Sophocles (who plays when aged wrote)
Was by his sons before the judges brought,
Because he pay’d the Muses such respect,
His fortune, wife, and children to neglect ;
Almost condem'd, he mov'd the judges thus,
“Hear, but instead of me, my Oedipus:” -
The judges hearing with applause, at th' end
Freed him, and said, “No fool such lines had
What poets and what orators can I [penn'd.”
Recount! what princes in philosophy'
Whose constant studies with their age did strive,
Nor did they those, though those did them sur-
Old husbandmen I at Sabinum know,
Who for another year dig, plough, and sow ;
For never any man was yet so old
But hop'd his life one winter more might hold.
Caecilius vainly said, “Each day we spend
Discovers something, which must reeds offend.”
But sometimes age may pleasant things behold,
And nothing that offends: he should have toid
This not to age, but youth, who oftener see
What not alone offends, but hurts, Luan we :
That I in him, which he in age, condemn'd,
That as it renders odious and contemn'd.
He knew not virtue, if he thought this truth ;
For youth delights in age, and age in youth.
What to the old can greater pleasure be,
Thanhopeful and ingenuous youth to see;
When they with reverence follow where we lead,
And in straight paths by our directions tread
And ev'n my conversation here I see,
As well receiv'd by you, as yours by me.
'Tis disingenuous to accuse our age
Of idleness, who all our powers engage
In the same studies, the same course to hold ;
Northink our reason for new arts too old.
Solom the sage his progress never ceas'd,
But still his learning with his days increas'd ;
And I with the same greediness did seek,
As water when I thirst, to swallow Greek;
Which I did only learn, that I might know
Those great examples which I follow now:
And I have heard that Socrates the wise,
Learn'd on the lute for his last exercise.
Though many of the ancients did the same,
To improve knowledge was my only aim.
Now into our second grievance I must break, “That loss of strength makes understanding weak.” I grieve no more my youthful strength to want, Than, young, that of a bull or elephant; * Then with that force content which Nature gave, Nor am I now displeas'd with what I have. When the young wrestlers at their sport grew warm, Old Milo wept to see his naked arm ; And cry'd, 'twas dead: Trifler, thine heart, and head, And all that’s in them (not thy arm) are dead; This folly every looker-on derides, To glory only in thy arms and sides. Our gallantancestors let fall no tears, Their strength decreasing by increasing years; But they advanc'd in wisdom every hour, And made the commonwealth advance in power. But orators may grieve, for in their sides, Rather than heads, their faculty abides; Yet I have heard old voices loud and clear, And still my own sometimes the senate hear. When th'old with smooth and gentle voices plead, They by the eartheir well-pleas'd audiencelead: Which, if I had not strength enough to do, I could (my Laelius, and my Scipio) What's to be done, or not be done, instruct, And to the maxims of good life conduct. Cneius and Publius Scipio, and (that man Of men) your grandsire, the great African, Were joyful, when the flower of noble blood Crowded their dwellings, and attending stood, Like oracles their counsels to receive, Howin their progress they should act, and live. And they whose high examples youth obeys, Are not despised, though their strength decays, And those decays (to speak the naked truth, Though the defects of age) were crimes of youth. lntemperate youth (by sad experience found) Knds in an age imperfect and unsound.
Cyrus, though ag'd, (if Xenophon say true)
Lucius Metellus (whom when young I knew)
Who held (after his second consulate)
Twenty-two years the high pontificate;
Neither of these, in body or in mind,
Before their death the least decay did find.
I speak not of myself, though none deny
To age, to praise their youth, the liberty:
Such an unwasted strength I cannot boast,
Yet now my years are eighty-four almost:
And though from what it was my strength isfat,
Both in the first and second Punic war,
Nor at Thermopylae, under Glabrio,
Nor when I consul into Spain did go;
But yet 1 feel no weakness, nor hath length
Of winters quite enervated my strength;
And I my guest, my client, or my friend,
Still in the courts of justice can defend:
Neither must I that proverb's truth allow,
“Who would be ancient, must be early so.”
I would be youthful still, and find no need
To appear old, till I was so indeed.
And yet you see my hours not idle are,
Though with your strength I cannot mine com:
Yet this centurion's doth your'ssurmount,
Not therefore him the better man I count.
Milo, when entering the Olympic game,
With a huge ox upon his shoulder came.
Would you the force of Milo's body find,
Rather than of Pythagoras's mind ;
The force which Nature gives with care retain,
But, when decay’d, 'tis folly to complain;
In age to wish for youth is full as vain,
As for a youth to turm a child again.
Simple and certain Nature's ways appear,
And she sets forth the seasons of the year.
So in all parts of life we find her truth,
Weakness to childhood, rashness to our youth;
To elder years to be discreet and grave,
Then to old age maturity she gave.
(Scipio) you know, how Massinissa bears
His kingly port at more than ninety years'
When marching with his foot, he walks till night;
When with his horse, he never will alight;
Though cold or wet, his head is always bare;
So hot, sodry, his aged members are.
You see how exercise and temperance
Ev’n to old years a youthful strength advance.
Our law (because from age our strength retires)
No duty which belongs to strength requires,
But age doth many men so feeble make,
That they no great design can undertake;
Yet, that to age not singly is apply'd,
But to all man's infirmities beside.
That Scipio, who adopted you, did fall
Into such pains, he had no health at all:
Who else had equall'd Africanus' parts,
Fxceeding him in all the liberal arts.
Why should those errours then imputed be
To age alone, from which our youth's not free?
Every disease of age we may prevent,
Like those of youth, by being diligent.
When sick, such moderate exercise we use,
And diet, as our vital heat renews;
And if our body thence refreshment finds,
Then must we also exercise our minds.
If with continual oil we not supply -
Our lamp, the light for want of it will dis;
Though bodies may be tir’d with exercise,
No weariness the mind coulde'er surprise.
Caecilius the comedian, when of age
He represents the follies on the stage;
They're credulous, forgetful, dissolute,
Neither those crimes to age he doth impute,
But to old men to whom those crimes belong.
Lust, petulance, rashness, are in youth more
Than age, and yet young men those vices hate,
Who virtuous are, discreet and temperate:
And so what we call dotage, seldom breeds
In bodies, but where Nature sows the seeds.
There are five daughters, and four gallant sons,
In whom the blood of noble Appius runs,
With a most numerous family beside,
Whom he alone, though old and blind, did guide,
Yet his clear-sighted mind was still intent,
And to his business like a bow stood bent:
By children, servants, neighbours, so esteem’d,
He not a master, but a monarch seem'd.
All his relations his admirers were,
His sons paid reverence, and his servants fear:
The order and the ancient discipline
Of Romans did in all his actions shine.
Authority kept up old age secures,
Whose dignity as long as life endures. *
Something of youth I in old age approve,
But more the marks of age in youth I love.
Who this observes, may in his body find
Decrepitage, but never in his mind.
The seven volumes of my own Reports,
Wherein are all the pleadings of our courts;
All noble monuments of Greece are come
Unto my hands, with those of ancient Rome.
The pontificial, and the civil law,
1 study still, and thence orations draw.
And to confirm my memory, at night, -
What I hear, see, or do, by day I still recite.
These exercises for my thoughts I find,
These labours are the chariots of my mind.
To serve my friends, the senate I frequent,
And there, what I before digested, vent.
Which only from my strength of mind proceeds,
Nor any outward force of body needs:
Which, if I could not do, I should delight
On what I would to ruminate at night.
Who in such practices their minds engage,
Nor fear nor think of their approaching age;
Which by degrees invisibly doth creep:
Nor do we seem to die, but fall asleep,
Now must 1 draw my forces 'gainst that host
Of pleasures, which i' th' sea of age are lost.
0 thou most high transcendent gift of age 1
Youth from its folly thus to disengage.
And now receive from one that most divine
Oration of that noble Tarentine,
Which at Tarentum I long since did hear,
When I attended the great Fabius there.
Ye gods! was it man's nature, or his fate,
Betray'd him with sweet pleasure's poison'd
Which he with all designs of art or power,
Doth with unbridled appetite devour:
And as all poisons seek the noblest part,
Pleasure possesses first the head aud heart;
Intoxicating both, by them, she finds,
And burns the sacred temples of our minds,
Furies, which, reason's divine chains had bound,
(That being broken) all the world confound.
Lust, Murder, Treason, Avarice, and Hell
Itself broke loose, in Reason's palace dwell:
Truth, Honour, Justice, Temperance, are fled,
All her attendants into darkness led.
But why all this discourse? when pleasure's rage
Hath conquer'd reason we must treat with age.
Age undermines, and will in time surprise
Her strongest forts: and cut off all supplies;
And join’d in league with strong necessity,
Pleasure must fly, or else by famine die.
Flaminius, whom a consulship had grac'd,
(Them censor) from the senate I displac'd;
When he in Gaul, a consul, made a feast,
A beauteous courtezan did him request
To see the cutting off a prisoner's head;
This crime I could not leave unpunished,
Since by a private villainy he stain’d
That public honour, which at Rome he gain'd.
Then to our age (when not to pleasures bent)
This seems an honour, not disparagement.
We, not all pleasures, like the Stoics, hate;
But love and seek, those which are moderate.
(Though divine Plato thus of pleasures thought,
They us, with hooks and baits, like fishes caught)
When quaestor, to the gods, in public calls
I was the first who set up festivals.
Not with high tastes our appetites did force,
But fill'd with conversation and discourse;
Which feasts convivial meetings we did name:
Not like the ancient Greeks, who, to their shame,
Call'd it a compotation, not a feast;
Declaring the worst part of it the best.
Those entertainments I did then frequent
Sometimes with youthful heat and merriment:
But now I thank my age, which gives me ease
From those excesses; yet myself I please
With cheerful talk to entertain my guests,
(Discourses are to age continual feasts)
The love of meat and wine they recompense,
And cheer the mind, as much as those the sense.
I'm not more pleas'd with gravity among
The ag'd, than to be youthful with the young;
Nor 'gainst all pleasures proclaim open war,
To which, in age, some natural motions are.
And still at my Sabinum I delight
To treat my neighbours till the depth of night.
But we the sense of gust and pleasure want
Which youth at full possesses, this I grant;
But age seeks not the things which youth re-
And no man needs that which he not desires.
When Sophocles was ask'd, if he deny'd
Himself the use of pleasures, he reply'd
“I humbly thank th’ immortal gods, who me
From that fierce tyrant's insolence set free.”
But they, whom pressing appetites constrain,
Grieve when they cannot their desires obtain.
Young men the use of pleasure understand,
As of an object new, and near at hand:
Though this stands more remote from age's sight,
Yet they behold it not without delight:
As ancient soldiers, from their duties eas'd,
With sense of honour and rewards are pleas'd;
So from ambitious hopes and lusts releast,
Delighted with itself, our age doth rest.
No part of life's more happy, when with bread
Of ancient knowledge, and new learning fed.
All youthful pleasures by degrees must cease,
But those of age ev'n with our years increase.
We love not loaded boards, and goblets crown'd,
But free from surfeits our repose is sound.
When old Fabricius to the Samnites went,
Ambassador, from Rome to Pyrrhus sent,
He heard a grave philosopher maintain,
That all the actions of our life were vain,
Which with our sense of pleasure not conspir’d;
Fabricius the philosopher desir'd, -
That he to Pyrrhus would that maxim teach,
And to the Samnites the same doctrine preach;
Then of their conquest he should doubt no more,
Whom their own pleasures overcame before.
Now into rustic matters I must fall.
Which pleasure seems to me the chief of all.
Age no impediment to those can give,
Who wisely by the rules of Nature live.
JEarth (though our mother) cheerfully obeys
All the commands her race upon her lays;
For whatsoever from our hand she takes.
Greater or less, a vast return she makes,
Nor am I only pleas'd with that resource.
But with her ways, her method, and her force.
The seed her bosom (by the plough made fit)
Receives, where kindly she embraces it,
Which, with her genuine warmth diffus'd and
Sends forth betimes a green and tender head,
Then gives it motion, life, and mourishment,
Which from the root through nerves and veins
Straight in a hollow sheath upright it grows,
And, form receiving doth itself disclose:
Drawn up in ranks and files, the bearded spikes
Guard it from birds, as with a stand of pikes.
When of the vine I speak, I seem inspir’d,
And with delight, as with her juice, am fir’d;
At Nature's god-like power I stand amaz'd,
Which such vast bodies hath from atoms rais'd.
The kernel of a grape, the fig's small grain,
Can clothe a mountain, and o'er shade a plain:
But thou, dear vine, forbid'st me to be long,
Although thy trunk be neither large nor strong.
Nor can thy head (not helpt) itself sublime,
Yet, like a serpent, a tall tree can climb;
Whate'erthy many fingers can entwine,
Proves thy support, and all its strength is thine.
Though Nature gavenot legs, it gave thee hands,
By which thy prop the proudest cedar stands;
As thou hast hands, so hath thy offspring wings,
And to the highest part of morals springs.
But lest thou should'st consume thy wealth in
And starve thyself to feed a numerous train,
Qr like the bee (sweet as thy blood) design'd
To be destroy'd to propagate his kind,
Lest thy redundant and superfluous juice
Should fading leaves instead of fruits produce,
The pruner's hand, with letting blood, must
Thy heat and thy exuberant parts retrench:
Then from the joints of thy prolific stem
A swelling knot is raised (calid a gem),
Whence in short space, itself the cluster shows,
And from earth's undisture mixt with sun-beams
1' th' spring, like youth, it yields an acid taste,
But summer doth, like age, the sourness waste;
Then cloth'd with leaves, from heat and cold
Like virgins, sweet, and beauteous, when mature.
On fruits, flowers, herbs, and plants, I long could
At once to please my eye, my taste, my smell;
My walks of trees, all planted by my fiand,
Like children of my own begetting stand.
To tell the several natures of each earth,
What fruits from each most properly take birth:
And with what arts to enrich every mould,
The dry to moistem, and to warm the cold.
But when we graft, or buds inoculate,
Nature by art we nobly meliorate;
As Orpheus' music wildest heasts did tame,
From the sour crab the sweetest apple carne:
The mother to the laughter goes to school,
The species changed doth her laws o'er rule;
Nature herself doth from herself depart,
(Strange transmigration 1) by the power of
How little things give law to great! we see
The small bud captivates the greatest tree.
Here even the power divine we imitate,
And seem not to beget but to create.
Much was I pleas'd with fowls and beasts, the
For food and profit, and the wild for game.
Excuse me when this pleasant string I touch,
(For age of what delights it, speaks too much.)
Who twice victorious Pyrrhus conquered,
The Sabines and the Samnites captive led,
Great Curius, his remaining days did spend,
And in this happy life his triumphs end.
My farm stands near, and when I there retire,
His and that age's temper I admire:
The Samnite chiefs, as by his fire he sate,
With a vast sum of gold on him did wait;
“Return,” said he, “your gold I nothing weigh,
When those, who can command it, me obey:”
This my assertion proves, he may be old,
And yet not sordid, who refuses gold.
In summer to sit still, or walk, l love,
Neara cool fountain, or a shady grove.
What can in winter render more delight,
Than the high Sun at noon, and fire at night?
While our old friends and neighbours feast and
And with their harmless mirth turn night to day,
Unpurchas'd plenty our full tables loads,
And part of what they lent, return to our gods.
That honour and authority which dwells
With age, all pleasures of our youth excels.
Observe, that I that age have only prais'd
Whose pillars were on youth's foundations rais'd,
And that (for which I great applause receiv'd)
As a true maxim hath been since believ'd.
That mest unhappy age great pity needs,
Which to defend itself new matter pleads;
Not from grey hairs authority doth flow,
Nor from bald heads, nor from a wrinkled brow,
But our past life, when virtuously spent,
Must to our age those happy fruits present,
Those things to age most honourable are,
Which easy, common, and but light appear,
Salutes, consulting, compliment, resort,
Crowding attendance to, and from the court:
And not on Rome alone this honour waits, But on all civil and well-govern'd states. Lysander pleading in his city's praise, From thence his strongest argument did raise, That Sparta did with honour age support, Paying them just respect at stage, and court. But at proud Athens youth did age out-face, Nor at the plays would rise, or give them place. When an Athenian stranger of great age Arriv'd at Sparta, climbing up the stage, To him the whole assembly rose, and ran To place and ease this old and reverend man, Who thus his thanks returns, “Th’ Athenians know What's to be done; but what they know, not do.” Here our great senate's orders I may quote, The first in age is still the first in vote. Nor honour, nor high birth, nor great command Incompetition with great years may stand. Why should our youth's short transient pleasures dare With age's lasting honours to compare On the world's stage, when our applause grows high, * For acting here life's tragic-comedy, The lookers-on will say we act not well, Unless the last the former scenes excel: But age is froward, uneasy, scrutinous, Hard to be pleas'd, and parsimonious; But all those errours from our manners rise, Not from our years; yet some morosities We must expect, since jealousy belongs To age, of scorn, and tender sense of wrongs: Yet those are mollify’d, or not discern'd, Where civil arts and manners have been learn'd: So the Twins' humours, in our Terence, are Unlike, this harsh and rude, that smooth and fair. Our nature here is not unlike our wine, Some sorts, when old, continue brisk and fine; So age's gravity may seem severe, But nothing harsh or bitter ought t'appear. Of age's awarice I cannot see What colour, ground, or reason there should be: ls it not folly, when the way we ride ls short, for a long voyage to provide? To avarice some title youth may own, To reap in autumn what the spring had sown; And with the providence of bees, or ants, Prevent with summer's plenty, winter's wants. But age scarce sows,till Death stands by to reap, And to a stranger's hand transfers the heap; Afraid to be so once, she’s always poor, And to avoid a mischief makes it sure. Such madness, as for fear of death to die, k, to be poor for fear of poverty.
Now a gainst (that which terrifies our age)
The last, and greatest grievance, we engage;
To her, grim Death appears in all her shapes,
The hungry grave for her due tribute gapes.
Fond, foolish man! with fear of death surpris'd,
Which either should be wish'd for, or despisod;
This, if our souls with bodies death destroy;
That, if our souls a second life enjoy.
What else is to be fear'd, when we shall gain
Elenal site, or have no sense of pain?
The youngest in the morning are not sure,
That till the night their life they can secure,
Their age stands more expos'd to accidents
Thanours, nor common care their fate prevents:
Death's force(with terrour)against Nature strives,
Nor one of many to ripe age arrives.
From this ill fate the world's disorders rise,
For if all men were old they would be wise;
Years and experience our forefathers taught,
Them under laws, and into cities brought;
Why only should the fear of death belong
To age, which is as common to the young 2
Your hopeful brothers, and my sun, to you
(Scipio) and me, this maxim makes too true:
But vigorous youth may his gay thoughts erect
To many years, which age must not expect;
But when he sees his airy hopes deceiv'd ;
With grief he says, “Who this would have be-
We happier are than they, who but desir'd
To possess that, which we long since acquir’d.
What if our age to Nestor's could extend ?
'Tis vain to think that lasting, which must end;
And when 'tis past, not any part remains
Thereof, but the reward which virtue gains.
Days, months, and years, like running waters
Nor what is past, nor what’s to come, we know:
Our date, how shortsoe'er, must us content.
When a good actor doth his part present,
In every act he our attention draws,
That at the last he may find just applause;
So (though but short) yet we must learn the art
Of virtue, on this stage to act our part;
True wisdom must our actions so direct,
Not only the last plaudit to expect: slast,
Yet grieve no more, though long that part should
Than husbandmen, because the spring is past.
The spring, like youth, fresh blossoms doth pro-
But autumn makes them ripe, and fit for use;
So age a mature mellowness doth set
On the green promises of youthful heat.
All things which Nature did ordain are good,
And so must be receiv'd and understood.
Age like ripe apples, on Earth's bosom drops,
While force our youth, like fruits untinely,
The sparkling flame ofcur warm blood expires,
As when huge streams are pour'd on raging fires;
But age unforc’d falls by her own consent,
As coals to ashes, when the spirit's spent;
Therefore to death I with such joy resort,
As seamen from a tempest to their port.
Yet to that port ourselves we must not force,
Before our pilot, Nature, steers our course.
Let us the causes of our fear condemn,
Then Death at his approach we shall contemn.
Though to our heat of youth our age seems cold,
Yet, when resolv'd, it is more brave and bold.
Thus Solon to Pisistratus reply'd,
Demanded, on what succour he rely'd,
When with so few he boldly did engage ;
He said, he took his courage from his age.
Then death seems welcome, and our nature kind,
When, leaving us a perfect sense aud mind,
She (like a workman in his science skill'd)
Pulls down with ease, what her own hand did