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ships"—and then he goes on so, as I know not what to make of the rest, whether it be the fault of the edition, or the orator's own burley way of nonsense.
This is the character that Seneca gives of this hyperbolical fop, whom we stand amazed at; and yet there are very few men who are not in some things, and to some degrees, Grandios. Is any thing more common than to see our ladies of quality wear such high shoes as they cannot walk in without one to lead them; and a gown as long again as their body, so that they cannot stir to the next room without a page or two to hold it up? I may safely say, that all the ostentation of our grandees is, just like a train, of no use in the world, but horribly cumbersome and incommodious. What is all this but a spice of Grandio? How tedious would this be, if we were always bound to it! I do believe there is no king, who would.not rather be deposed, than endure every day of his reign all the ceremonies of his coronation.
The mightiest princes are glad to fly often from these majestick pleasures (which is, methinks, no small disparagement to them), as it were for refuge, to the most contemptible divertisements and meanest recreations of the vulgar, nay, even of children, One of the most powerful and fortunate princes* of
• Louis XIII.—The duke de Luynes, the constable of France, is said to have gained the favour of this powerful and fortunate prince by training up singing birds for him. Anon,
the world, of late, could find out no delight so satisfactory as the keeping of little singing birds, and hearing of them, and whistling to them. What did the emperors of the whole world? If ever any men had the free and full enjoyment of all human greatness (nay, that would not suffice, for they would be gods too), they certainly possessed it: and yet one of them, who styled himself lord and god of the earth, could not tell how to pass his whole day pleasantly, without spending constantly two or three hours in catching flies, and killing them with a bodkin, as if his godship had been Beelzebub *. One of his predecessors, Nero (who never put any bounds, nor met with any stop to his appetite),could divert himself with no pastime more agreeable, than to run about the streets all night in a disguise, and abuse the women, and affront the men whom he met, and sometimes to beat them, and sometimes to be beaten by them: this was one of his imperial nocturnal pleasures. His chiefest in the day was, to sing and play upon a fiddle, in the habit of a minstrel, upon the publick stage : he was prouder of the garlands that were given to his divine voice (as they called it then) in those kind of prizes, than all his forefathers were, of their triumphs over nations: he did not at his death complain, that so mighty an emperor, and the last of all the Cesarean race of deities, should be brought to so shameful and mi
* Beelubub signifies the Lord offiks. Cowley.
serable an end; but only cried out, "Alas! what pity it is, that so excellent a musician should perish in this manner *!" His uncle Claudius spent half his time at playing at dice; and that was the main fruit of his sovereignty. I omit the madnesses of Caligula's delights, and the execrable sordidness of those of Tiberius. Would one think that Augustus himself, the highest and most fortunate of mankind, a person endowed too with many excellent parts of nature, should be so hard put to it sometimes for want of recreations, as to be found playing at nuts and bounding-stones, with little Syrian and Moorish boys, whose company he took delight in, for their prating and their wantonness?
Was it for this that Rome's best blood he spilt, With so much falsehood, so much guilt?
Was it for this that his ambition strove
To equal Caesar, first; and after, Jove?
Greatness is barren, sure, of solid joys;
Her merchandise (I fear) is all in toys;
She could not else, sure, so uncivil be,
To treat his universal majesty,
But we must excuse her for this meagre entertainment; she has not really wherewithal to make
• — « Qualis artifex pereo l" Sueton. Kero.
such feasts as we imagine. Her guests must be contented sometimes with but slender cates, and with the same cold meats served over.and over again, even till they become nauseous. When you have pared away all the vanity, what solid and natural contentment does there remain, which may not be had with five hundred pounds a-year? Not so many servants or horses; but a few good ones, which will do all the business as well: not so many choice dishes at every meal; but at several meals all of them, which makes them both the more healthy, and the more pleasant: not so rich garments, nor so frequent changes; but as warm and as comely, and so frequent change too, as is every jot as good for the master, though not for the taylor or valet-de-chambre: not such a stately palace, nor gilt rooms, or the costliest sorts of tapestry; but a convenient brick house, with decent wainscot, and pretty forest-work hangings. Lastly (for I omit all other particulars, and will end with that which I love most in both conditions), not whole woods cut in walks, uor vast parks, nor fountain or cascadegardens; but herb, and flower, and fruit gardens, which are more useful, and the water every whit as clear and wholesome, as if it darted from the breasts of a marble nymph, or the urn of a river-god.
If, for all this, you like better the substance of that former estate of life, do but consider the inseparable accidents of both: servitude, disquiet, danger, and most commonly guilt, inherent in the one;
in the other liberty, tranquillity, security, and innocence. And when )'ou have thought upon this, you will confess that to be a truth which appeared to you, before, but a ridiculous paradox, that a low fortune is better guarded and attended than an high one. If, indeed, we look only upon the flourishing head of the tree, it appears a most beautiful object,
"— sed quantum vertice ad auras
As far up towards heaven the branches grow,
Another horrible disgrace to greatness is, that it is for the most part in pitiful want and distress: what a wonderful thing is this! Unless it degenerate into avarice, and so cease to be greatness, it falls perpetually into such necessities, as drive it into all the meanest and most sordid ways of borrowing, cozenage, and robbery:
Mancipiis locuples, eget aeris Cappadocum rex f.
This is the case of almost all great men, as well as of the poor king of Cappadocia: they abound with slaves, but are indigent of money. The ancient
» Virg, Georg. ii. 291. f Hor. 1 Ep. vi. 39.