« ZurückWeiter »
not whoin: “ He heapeth up riches, and knows not who shall enjoy them *;" it is only sure, that he himself neither shall nor can enjoy them. He is an indigent, needy slave; he will hardly allow himself clothes and board-wages :
Unciatim vix de demenso suo, Suum defraudans genium, comparsit misert;
He defrauds not only other men, but his own genius; he cheats himself for money. But the servile and miserable condition of this wretch is so apparent, that I leave it, as evident to every man's sight, as well as judgment.
It seems a more difficult work to prove that the voluptuous man too is but a servant : what can be more the life of a freeman, or, as we say ordinarily, of a gentleman, than to follow nothing but his own pleasures? Why, I will tell you who is that true freeman, and that true gentleman; not he who blindly follows all his pleasures (the very name of follower is servile); but he who rationally guides them, and is not hindered by outward impediments in the conduct and enjoyment of them. If I want skill or force to restrain the beast that I ride upon, though I bought it, and call it my own, yet, in the truth of the matter, I am at that time rather his man, than
Ps. xxxix. 6.
my horse. The voluptuous men (whom we are fallen upon) may be divided, I think, into the lustful and luxurious, who are both servants of the belly; the other, whom we spoke of before, the ambitious and the covetous, were sarà Ingla, evil wild beasts ; these are gæséges ágyai, slow bellies, as our translation renders it, but the word ágyal (which is a fantastical word, with two directly opposite significations) will bear as well the translation of quick or diligent bellies; and both interpretations may be applied to thesė men. Metrodorus said, that he had learnt árnows yargi zasgifeodai, to give his belly just thanks for all his pleasures.” This, by the calumniators of Epicurus's philosophy, was objected as one of the most scandalous of all their sayings ; which, according to my charitable understanding, may admit a very virtuous sense, which is, that he thanked his own belly for that moderation, in the customary appetites of it, which can only give a man liberty and happiness in this world. Let this suffice at present to be spoken of those great triumviri of the world; the covetous man, who is a mean villain, like Lepidus; the ambitious, who is a brave one, like Octavius; and the voluptuous, who is a loose and debauched one, like Mark Antony:
Quisnam igitur liber? Sapiens sibique imperiosus *:
Hor. 2 Sat. vii. 83,
Not Oenomaus *, who commits himself wholly to a charioteer, that may break his neck; but the man
Who governs his own course with steady hand;
I have no mind to play.
This, I confess, is a freeman: but it may be said, that many persons are so shackled by their fortune, that they are hindered from enjoyment of that manumission which they have obtained from virtue. I do both understand, and in part feel, the weight of this objection : all I can answer to it is, that we must get as much liberty as we can, we must use our utmost endeavours, and, when all that is done, be contented with the length of that line which is allowed us.
If you ask me, in what condition of life I think the most allowed; I should pitch upon that sort of people, whom king James was wont to call the happiest of our nation, the men placed in the country by their fortune aboye an high constable, and yet beneath the trouble of a justice of peace; in a moderate plenty, without any just argument for the desire of increasing it by the care of many relations; and with so much knowledge and love of piety and philosophy (that is, of the study of God's laws, and of his creatures) as may afford him matter enough never to be idle, though without business; and never to be melancholy, though without sin or vanity.
* Virg, Georg. iii. 7. .
I shall conclude this tedious discourse with a prayer of mine in a copy of Latin verses, of which I remember no other part; and (pour faire bonne bouche), with some other verses upon the same subject :
Magne Deus, quod ad has vitæ brevis attinet horas, “ Da mihi, da panem libertatemque, nec ultrà “ Sollicitas effundo preces : si quid datur ultrà,
Accipiam gratus; si non, contentus abibo."
For the few hours of life allotted me,
WELL then, Sir, you shall know how far extend The prayers and hopes of your poetick friend. He does not palaces nor manors crave, Would Be no lord, but less a lord would Have; The ground he holds, if he his own can call, He quarrels not with Heaven because 't is small: Let gay and toilsome greatness others please He loves of homely littleness the ease. Can any man in gilded rooms attend, And his dear hours in humble visits spend, When in the fresh and beauteous fields he may With various healthful pleasures fill the day? If there be man (ye gods !) I ought to hate, Dependance and attendance be his fate; Still let him busy be, and in a crowd, And very much a slave, and very proud : Thus he perhaps powerful and rich may grow; No matter, O ye gods! that I'll allow : But let him peace and freedom never see; Let him not love this life, who loves not me!