Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

The Roman commonwealth restorid did boast, Such science in his art of angury,
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 conne,
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 :
Wh ther'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
Therefore their argument's of little force,

Takers of cities, conquerors in war.
Who age from great employments would divorce, Yet others to like happy age arrive,
As in a ship some climb the shroudst' unfold Who modest, quiet, and with virtue live:
The sail

, some sweep the deck, some pump the Thus Plato writing his philosophy,
hold ;

(skill, With honour after ninety years did die. Whilst he that guides the helm, employs his Th’ Athenian story writ at vinety-four And gives the law to them, by sitting still. By Isocrates, who yet liv'd five years more ; Great actions less from courage, strength, and His master Gorgias at the hundredth year speed,

And seventh, not his studies did forbear: Than from wise counsels and commands, proceed; 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 dià 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 answerd, that their senators were new, Nor shall I cease till I her ruin see,

Foolish 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 concern; The name of Elder did appropriate :

Their interest no priest nor sorcerer Therefore his fame for ever shall remain, Forgets, por 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 Ile 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 Tarentnm 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 bis fifth consulate.

Almost condemn'd, he mov'l 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 To them the Gallic and the Picene field,

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 pbilosophy! Those things were acted under happy stars, Whose constant studies with their agu did strive, Froin 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 Fab'us f'could tell, Old husbandmen I at Sabinnm 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 never any man was yet so old His funeral oration I have seen

But hop'd his life one winter more mitht hold. Often; and when on that I turn my eyes, Cæcilius vainly said, " Each day we spent I all the old philosophers despise,

Discovers something, which must reeds oifend." Though be in all the people's eyes seem'd great, But sometimes age may pleasant things behold, Yet greater he appeard in his retreat ;

And nothing that offends : he should have toid When feasting with his private friends at home, This not to age, but youth, who oftener see Such counsel, such discourse, from him did come, What not alone offends, but hurts, iban we :

That I in him, which he in age, condemn'd, Cyrus, though ag'd, (if Xenophon say true) That us it renders odious and contemn'd. Lucius Metellus

(whom when young I knew) He knew not virtue, if he thought this truth;

Who held (after his second consulate) For youth delights in age, and age in youth. Twenty-two years the high pontificate ; What to the old can greater pleasure be, Neither of these, in body or in mind, Than hopeful and ingenuous youth to see ;

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 er'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 our 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 ceasd,

But yet 1 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 learn, 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 bave 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 only aim. Though with your strength I cannot mine com

pare ;

Yet this centurion's doth your's surmount, THE SECOND PART.

Not therefore him the better man I count.

Milo, when entering the Olympic game, Now int' our second grievance I must break, With a huge ox upon his shonlder 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 rain, 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 youth 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 night; Their strength decreasing by increasing years ; When with his horse, he never will aligbt ; 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, sodry, his 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 retires) 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 audiencelead: 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 him 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, How in their progress they should act, and live. Like those of youth, by being diligent. And they whose high examples youth obeys, When sick, such moderate exercise we use, Are not despised, though their strength decays, And diet, as dur vital heat renews ; And those decays (to speak the naked truth, And if our body thence refreshment finds, Though the defects of age) were crimes of youth. Then must we also exercise our minds. Intemperate youth (by sad experience found) If with continual oil we not supply Kids in an age imperfect and unsound. Our lamp, the light for want of it will die :

Though bodies may be tir'd with exercise, Intoxicating both, by them, she finds,
No weariness the mind could e'er surprise. And burns the sacred temples of our minds.
Cæcilius the comedian, when of age

Furies, which, 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, l'emperance, 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 vices 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 pecessity, 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, With a most numerous family beside,

(Then censor) from the senate I displac'd; Whom he alone, though old and blind,did guide, When he in Ganl, a consul, made a feast, Yet his clear-sighted mind was still intent, A beauteous courtezan did him request And to his business like a bow stood bent : To see the cutting off a prisoner's head; By children, servants, neighbours, so esteem'd, This crime I could not leave unpunished, lle not a master, but a monarch seem'd. Since by a private villainy he stain'd All his relations his admirers were,

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. Whose 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. CalPd it a compotation, not a feast; The pontificial, and the civil law,

Declaring the worst part of it the best. 1 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, Who in 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 seem 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 ine 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 I 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 easd, Doth with unbridled appetite devour :

With sense of hunour 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,

[ocr errors]

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 mast cease, Then cloth'd with leaves, from heat and cold But those 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, flowers, herbs, and plants, I long could When old Fabricius to the Samnites went,

dwell, Ambassailor, 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 maxim teach, And with what arts to enrich every mould, And to the Samnites the same doctrine preach; The dry to inoisten, and to warm the cold. Then of their conquest he should doult no more, But when we graft, or bads inoculate, Whom their own pleasures overcame before. Nature by art we nobly meliorate; Now into rustic matters I must fall.

As Orpheus' music wildest heasts aid tame, Which pleasure seems to me the chief of all. frim 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 changer doth her laws o'er rule; Earth (though our mother) cheerfully obey's 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 į pleas'd with fowls and beasts, tho 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 rerves 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 adınire: When of the vine I speak, I serm 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 porer I stand amaz'd, “ Return,” said he, “ your gold I nothing Feigli, Which such vast bodies bath 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, forbil'st me to be long, In summer to sit still, or walk, I love, Although thy trunk be neither large nor strong. Neara cool fountain, or a shady grove. Nor can thy head (not helpt) itself sublimé, What can in winter render more delight, Yet, like a serpent, a tall tree can clinb; Than the highi 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 strengi h is thine.

play, Though Nature gave not legs, it gave thee hands, And with their harmless mirth tum 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 off-pring wings, And part of what they lent, retum t our goals. And to the higliest part of mor als springs. That honour and authority which dwells But lest thou should'st consume 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 raisid, Or like the bee (sweet as thy blood) desigu'd And that (for which I great applanse receivid) 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 unhappy age great pity needs, Should fading leaves instead of fruits produce, Which to defend itself new inatter 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 brow, Thy heat and thy exuberant parts retrench : But our past life, when virtuonsly spent, Then from the joints of thy prolific stem Must to our age those happy fruits present. A swelling knot is raised (valid 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 count:

know

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 rose, and ran

Why only should the fear of death belong 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 sun, to you

(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 deceiv'd; Nor honour, nor high birth, nor great command With grief he says, “ Who this would have beIn competition with great years may stand.

liev'd ? Why should our youth's short transient pleasures We happier are than they, who but desir'd dare

To possess that, 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 remains For acting here life's tragic-comedy,

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

Days, months, and years, like running waters l'nless 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 he 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 his 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: 1 True wisdom must our actions so direct, So the Twins' humours, in our Terence, are

Not only the last plaudit to expect: plast, l'nlike, 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, Bat 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 coljur, 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 shori, for a long voyage to provide ?

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

Age like ripe apples, on Earth's busom 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, Bat age scarce sows,till Death stands by to reap,

As when huge streams are pour'd on raging fires; Ard 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 miscbief makes it sure.

Therefore to death I with such joy resort, Such madness, as for fear of death to die,

As seamen from a tempest to their port. k, 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 bold. The last, and greatest grievance, we engage; Thus Solon to Pisistralus reply'd, To her, 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; Yond, 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 seems welcome, and our nature kind, This, if onr souls with bodies death destroy; When, leaving ns a perfect sense and mind, Ibat, if our souls a second life enjoy. I She (like a workman in his science skill'd) What else is to be fear'd, when we shall gaia Pulls down with ease, what her uwn hand did Eieinal Iife, or have no sense of pain ?

build.

« PoprzedniaDalej »