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bent of his disposition, to intermingle the
Me quoties reficit gelidus Digentia rivus,
Epistol. lib. i. Epist. 18.
Here then, refreshed by cool Digentia's rill,
What is my prayer? That heaven would grant me still,
To keep the present good, nay even less:
But to myself my life, or long or short, possess.
With feelings and with moderated wishes such as these, and with a character and conduct in a great degree moulded and regulated by their impression, it is scarcely possible that Horace could have been otherwise than happy, as far as happiness can be said to be attainable in this life; for though, as we have seen by the numerous quotations already given, that he had formed a just estimate of the fragility and fleeting nature of our being here, and, with the most gifted of the ancient world, looked forward to a future state with much of doubt and
uncertainty, yet he never shrunk from a steady and unappalled contemplation of the issues of life and death. Sometimes, indeed, he would call up the inevitable destiny of man as a motive towards seizing the present moment for social yet moderate enjoyment; but more generally did he view its approach with a perfect though a pensive acquiescence, conscious that, whilst with a determination to render it subservient to the best purposes of morality and religion, he had often held it up as a terror to vice and ambition; he was prepared to meet it in his own person with equanimity and resignation. Accordingly, he appears to have felt a soothing pleasure in meditating on the evening and close of his own days; and, among several exquisite passages to this effect, none perhaps can be quoted as more beautifully interesting than that addressed to his friend Septimius, where he points out the spot he should prefer as the asylum of reposing age:
Tibur Argeo positum colono
Sit meæ sedes utinam senectæ ;
Should envious fate deny these seats,
Where, murmuring through the plain,
For richest fleeces far renown'd,
laves the realms that own'd Phalantus' Spartan reign.—
* Horace's villa was situated near Tibur, originally founded by a Greek colony.
+ Galesus is a river which waters Tarentum, founded by a colony of Spartans under Phalantus.
These blest abodes, these chosen bowers,
Bathe my loved ashes with a tear,
The features which we have now dwelt at some length in the poetry and character of Horace, place him before us in a point of view not only singularly pleasing and impressive, but, at the same time, truly amiable, moral, and instructive. It is evident, that as he advanced in years, and the experience of life came more fully upon him, he learnt to appreciate the pleasures of sense, and the allurements of wealth and power, at their just value; and that, shunning the city as the temple of voluptuousness and scepticism, and the theatre of political intrigue, he sought in the shades of retirement to become acquainted with himself, and with the moral destiny of his species, prepared for, and resigned to, the evils incident to humanity, and, though keenly sensible to, and ever anxious to participate in, the