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fall into that pit which nature hath prepared for it. The meaning of all this is no more than that most vulgar saying, " Bene qui latuit, bene vixit," He has lived well, who has lain well hidden; which, if it be a truth, the world (I will swear) is sufficiently deceived: for my part, I think it is, and that the pleasantest condition of life is in incognito. What a brave privilege is it, to be free from all contentions, from all envying or being envied, from receiving and from paying all kind of ceremonies! It is, in my mind, a very delightful pastime, for two good and agreeable friends to travel up and down together, in places where they are by nobody known, nor know any body. It was the case of ./Eneas and his Achates, when they walked invisibly about the fields and streets of Carthage. Venus herself,
A vail of thicken'd air around them cast,
That none might know, or see them, as they pass'd *.
The common story of Demosthenes' confession, that he had taken great pleasure in hearing of a tankerwoman say, as he passed, "This is that Demosthenes," is wonderfully ridiculous from so solid an orator. I myself have often met with that temptation to vanity (if it were any); but am so far from finding it any pleasure, that it only makes me run
'• Virg. iEn.i.415.
faster from the place, till I get, as it were, out of sight-shot. Democritus relates, and in such a manner as if he gloried in the good-fortune and commodity of it, that, when he came to Athens, nobody there did so much as take notice of him; and Epicurus lived there very well, that is, lay hid many years in his gardens, so famous since that time, with his friend Metrodorus: after whose death, making in one of his letters a kind commemoration of the happiness which they two had enjoyed together, he adds at last, that he thought it no disparagement to those great felicities of their life, that, in the midst of the most talked-of and talking country in the world, they had lived so long, not only without fame, but almost without being heard of. And yet, within a very few years afterward, there were no two names of men more known, or more generally celebrated. If we engage into a large acquaintance and various familiarities, we set open our gates to the invaders of most of our time: we expose our life to a quotidian ague of frigid impertinences, which would make a wise man tremble to think of. Now, as for being known much by sight, and pointed at, I cannot comprehend the honour that lies in that: whatsoever it be, every mountebank has it more than the best doctor, and the hangman more than the lord chief justice of a city. Every creature has it, both of nature and art, if it be any ways extraordinary. It was as often said, "This is that Bucephalus," or, "This is that Incitatus," when they were led prancing through the streets, as "This is that Alexander," or, " This is that Domitian;" and truly, for the latter, I take Incitatus to have been a much more honourable beast than his master, and more deserving the consulship than he the empire.
I love and commend a true good-fame, because it is the shadow of virtue: not that it doth any good to the body which it accompanies, but it is an efficacious shadow, and, like that of St. Peter, cures the diseases of others. The best kind of glory, no doubt, is that which is reflected from honesty, such as was the glory of Cato and Aristides; but it was harmful to them both, and is seldom beneficial to any man, whilst he lives ; what it is to him after his death, I cannot say, because I love not philosophy merely notional and conjectural, and no man who has made the experiment has been so kind as tocome back to inform us. Upon the whole matter, I account a person who has a moderate mind and fortune, and lives in the conversation of two or three agreeable friends, with little commerce in the world besides, who is esteemed well enough by his few neighbours that know him, and is truly irreproachable by any body; and so, after a healthful quiet life, before the great inconveniencies of oldage, goes more silently out of it than he came in (for I would not have him so much as cry in the exit): this innocent deceiver of the workl, as Horace calls him, this "muta persona," I take to have been more happy in his part, than the greatest actors that fill the stage with show and noise, nay, even than Augustus himself, who asked, with his last breath, whether he had not played his farce yery well.
SENECA, EX THYESTE, ACT. II. CHOIl.
"Stet quicumque volet potens," fyc.
UPON the slippery tops of human state,
The gilded pinnacles of fate,
The giddy danger to beguile,
Till their heads turn, and down they fall.
That I no fall to earth may fear,
From the long ruins of the great.
Quiet, companion of obscurity!
As time, that measures it, does glide.
With scutcheon or with elegy.
An old plebeian let me die,
To him, alas, to him, I fear,
THE first wish of Virgil (as you will find anon by his verses) was to be a good philosopher; the second, a good husbandman: and God (whom he seemed to understand better than most of the most learned heathens) dealt with him, just as he did with Solomon; because he prayed for wisdom in the first place, he added all things else, which were subordinately to be desired. He made him one of the best philosophers, and best husbandmen; and, to adorn and communicate both those faculties, the best poet: he made him, besides all this, a rich man, and a man who desired to be no richer—
"O fortunatus nimium, & bona qui sua novit!"
To be a husbandman, is but a retreat from the city; to be a philosopher, from the world; or rather, a