« PoprzedniaDalej »
that it only added the confirmation of reason to that which was before but natural inclination. I saw plainly all the paint of that kind of life, the nearer I came to it; and that beauty, which I did not fall in love with, when, for aught I knew, it was real, was not like to bewitch or entice me, when I saw that it was adulterate. I met with several great persons, whom I liked very well; but could not perceive that any part of their greatness was to be liked or desired, no more than I would be glad or content to be in a storm, though I saw many ships which rid safely and bravely in it: a storm would not agree with my stomach, if it did with my courage. Though I was in a crowd of as good company as could be found any-where; though I was in business of great and honourable trust; though I ate at the best table, and enjoyed the best conveniencies for present subsistence that ought to be desired by a man of my condition in banishment and publick distresses ; yet I could not abstain from renewing my old school-boy's wish, in a copy of verses to the same effect:
Well then*; I now do plainly see
This busy world and I shall ne'er agree, &c.
And I never then proposed to myself any other
• We have these verses, under the name of The Wisht In
The Mistress, vol. viii. p. 29.
advantage from his majesty's happy restoration, but the getting into some moderately convenient retreat in the country; which I thought in that case I might easily have compassed, as well as some others, with no greater probabilities or pretences, have arrived to extraordinary fortunes: but I had before written a shrewd prophecy against myself; and I think Apollo inspired me in the truth,'though not in the elegance of it:
"Thou neither great at court, nor in the war,
"Nor at th' exchange, shall be, nor at the wrangling
"bar. "Content thyself with the small barren praise,
"Which neglected verse does raise." She spake; and all my years to come
Took their unlucky doom.
With Fate what boots it to contend?
The star, that did my being frame,
Was but a lambent flame,
And some small light it did dispense,
But neither heat nor influence. No matter, Cowley; let proud Fortune see, That thou canst her despise, no less than she does thee.
VOL. III. Y
Let all her gifts the portion be Of folly, lust, and flattery, Fraud, extortion, calumny, Murder, infidelity, Rebellion, and hypocrisy. Do thou not grieve nor blush to be, As all th' inspired tuneful men, And all thy great forefathers, were, from Homer down to Ben.
However, by the failing of the forces which I had expected, I did not quit the design which I had resolved on; I cast myself into it a corps perdu, without making capitulations, or taking counsel of fortune. But God laughs at a man, who says to his soul, " Take thy ease:" I met presently not only with many little incumbrances and impediments, but with so much sickness (a new misfortune to me) as would have spoiled the happiness of an emperor as well as mine: yet I do neither repent, nor alter my course. "Non ego perfidum dixi sacramentum:" nothing shall separate me from a mistress which I have loved so long, and have now at last married; though she neither has brought me a rich portion, nor lived yet so quietly with me as I hoped from her:
— " Nee vos, dulcissima mundi "Nomina, vos Musae, Libertas, Otia, Libri, "Hortique Sylvasque, anima remanente,relinquam."
Nor by me e'er shall you,
But this is a very pretty ejaculation.—Because I have concluded all the other chapters with a copy of verses, I will maintain the humour to the last.
MARTIAL. LIB. X. EPIGR. XLVII.
"Vitam qucefadunt beatiorem," Sfc.
SINCE, dearest friend, 't is your desire to see A true receipt of happiness from me; These are the chief ingredients, if not all: Take an estate neither too great or small, Which quantum sufficit the doctors call: Let this estate from parents' care descend; The getting it too much of life does spend: Take such a ground, whose gratitude may be A fair encouragement for industry. Let constant fires the winter's fury tame; And let thy kitchen's be a vestal flame. Thee to the town let never suit at law, And rarely, very rarely, business, draw. Thy active mind in equal temper keep, In undisturbed peace, yet not in sleep.
Let exercise a vigorous health maintain,
Without which all the composition's vain.
In the same weight prudence and innocence take,
Ana of each does the just mixture make.
But a few friendships wear, and let them be
By nature and by fortune fit for thee.
Instead of art and luxury in food,
Let mirth and freedom make thy table good.
If any cares into thy day-time creep,
At night, without wine's opium, let them sleep.
Let rest, which nature does to darkness wed,
And not lust, recommend to thee thy bed.
Be satisfied and plcas'd with what thou art,
Act cheerfully and well th' allotted part;
Enjoy the present hour, be thankful for the past,
And neither fear, nor wish, th' approaches of the last.
MARTIAL. LIB. X. EPIGR. XCVI.
"Scepe loquar tiimwn gentes," SfC.
ME, who have liv'd so long among the great,