« EelmineJätka »
This only grant me, that my means may lie
Some honour I would have,
Rumour can ope the grave:
My house a cottage, more,
My garden painted o'er
And in this true delight,
But boldiy say each night,
Or in clouds hide them; I have lived to-day. You may sea by it I was even then acquainted with the poets, for the conclusion is taken out of Horace; and perhaps it was the immature and immoderate love of them which stamped first, or rather engraved, the characters in me. They were like letters crt in the bark of a young tree, which, with the tree, still grow proportionably. But how this love came to be produced in me so early, is a hard question ; I believe I can tell the particular little chance that filled my head first with such chimes of verse, as huve never since left ringing there : for remember when I began to read, and take some pleasure in it, there was wont to lie in my mother's parlourI know not by what accident, for she herself never in her life read any book but of devotion-but there was wont to lie Spenser's works ; this I happened to fall upon, and was infinitely delighted with the stories of the knights, and giants, and monsters, and brave houses which I found everywhere there—though my understanding had little to do with all this--and by degrees, with the tinkling of the rhyme, and dance of the numbers; so that I think I had read him all over before I was twelve years old. With these affections of mind, and my heart wholly set upon letters, I went to the university ; but was soon torn from thence by that public violent storm, which would suffer rothing to stand where it did, but rooted up every plant, even from the princely cedars, to me, the hyssop. Yet I had as good fortune as could have befallen me in such a tempest: for I was cast by it into the family of one of the best persons, and into the court of one of the best princesses in the world. Now, though I was here engaged in ways most contrary to the original design of my life; that is, into much company, and no small business, and into a daily sight of greatness, both militant and triumphant-for that was the state then of the English and the French courts-yet all this was so far from altering my opinion, 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 it was adulterate. I met with severai 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 anywhere, though I was in business of great and honourable trust, though I eat at the best table, and enjoyed the best conveniences for present subsistence that ought to be desired by a man of my condition, in banishment and public distresses; yet I could not abstain from renewing my old schoolboy'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 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, who, 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,
Which thy neglected verse does raise, &c. 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 corpus perditum, without making capitulations, or taking counsel of fortune. But God laughs at 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 (I have not falsely sworn). 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.
Nec vos, dulcissima mundi
Nor by me e'er shall you,
The Spring-tides of Public Affairs. I have often observed, with all submission and resignation of spirit to the inscrutable mysteries of Eternal Providence, that when the fulness and maturity of time is come that produces the great confusions and changes in the world, it usually pleases God to make it appear, by the manner of them, that they are not the effects of human force or policy, but of the divine justice and predestination; and, though we see a man, like that which we call Jack of the Clock-house, striking as it were, the hour of that fulness of time, yet our reason must needs be convinced that his hand is moved by some secret, and, to us who stand without, invisible direction. And the stream of the current is then so violent, that the strongest men in the world cannot draw up against it; and none are so weak but they may sail down with it. These are the spring-tides of public affairs, which we see often happen, but seek in vain to discover any certain causes. And one man then, by maliciously opening all the sluices that he can come at, can never be the sole author of all this--though he may be as guilty as if he really were, by intending and imagining to be so-but it is God that breaks up the flood-gates of so general a deluge, and all the art then, and industry of mankind, is not sufficient to raise up dikes and ramparts against it.
The Antiquity of Agriculture. The three first men in the world were a gardener, a ploughmar, and a grazier; and if any man object that the second of these was a murtherer, I desire he would consider that, as soon as he was so, he quitted our profession and turned builder. It is for this reason, I suppose, that Ecclesiasticus forbids us to hate husbandry; "because,' says he, the Most High has created it.' We were all born to this art, and taught by Nature to nourish our bodies by the same earth out of which they were made, and to which they must return, and pay at last for their sustenance. Behold the original and primitive nobility of all these great persons, who are too proud now, not only to till the ground, but almost to tread upon it! We may talk what we please of lilies and lions rampant, and spread eagles in fields d'or or d'argent; but if heraldry were guided by reason, á plough in a held arable would be the most noble and ancient arms.
Of Obscurity. 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 anybody. It was the case of Æneas and his Achates, when they walked invisibly about the fields and streets of Carthage. Venus herself
A veil of thickened air around them cast,
VIRG. 1 Æn. The common story of Demosthenes's confession, that he had taken great pleasure in hearing of a tanker-woman 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 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 fainous 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 anyways 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 Domítian ;' 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 to come 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 anybody ; and so, after a healthful quiet life, before the great inconveniences of old age, 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 world, 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 very well.
The Danger of Procrastination. I am glad that you approve and applaud my design of withdrawing myself from all tumult and business of the world, and consecrating the little rest of my time to those studies which nature so motherly inclined me, and from which fortune, like a step-mother, has so long detained me. But, nevertheless, you say (which but is crugo mera, a rust which spoils the good metal it grows upon)—but you say you would advise me not to precipitate that resolution, but to stay a while longer with patience and complaisance, till I had gotten such an estate as might afford meaccording to the saying of that person, whom you and I love vėry much, and would believe as soon as another man-cum dignitate otium. This were excellent advice to Joshua, who could bid the sun stay too. But there's no fooling with life, when it is once turned beyond forty: the seeking for a fortune then is but a desperate aftergame; 'tis a hundred to one if a man fing two sixes, and recover all; especially if his hand be no luckier than mine.
There is some help for all the defects of fortune; for if a man cannot attain to the length of his wishes, he may have his remedy by cutting of them shorter. Epicurus writes a letter to' Idomeneus—who was then a very powerful, wealthy, and, it seems, a bountiful person—to recommend to him, who had made so many rich, one Pythocles, a friend of his, whom he desired might be made a rich man too; 'but I entreat you that you would not do it just the same way as you have done to many less deserving persons; but iu the most gentlemanly manner of obliging him, which is, not to add anything to his estate, but to take something from his desires.
The sum of this is, that for the certain hopes of some conveniences, we ought not to defer the execution of a work that is necessary; especially when the use of those things which we wonld stay for may otherwise be supplied, but the loss of time never recovered; nay, farther yet, though we were sure to obtain all that we had a mind to, though we were sure of getting never so much by continuing the game, yet when the light of life is so near going out, and ought to be so precious, le jeu ne vaut pas la chandelle, the play is not worth the expense of the candle; after having been long tossed in a tempest, if our masts be standing, and we have still sail and tackling enough to carry us to port, it is no matter for the want of streamers and topgallants. A gentleman, in our late civil wars, when his quarters were beaten up by the enemy, was taken prisoner, and lost his life afterwards only by staying to put on a band and adjust his periwig: he would escape like a person of of quality, or not at all, and died the noble martyr of ceremony and gentility.
Vision of Oliver Cromwell. I was interrupted by a strange and terrible apparition ; for there appeared to me -arising out of the earth as I conceived—the figure of a man, taller than a giant, or indeed than the shadow of any giant in the evening. His body was naked, but that nakedness adorned, or rather deformed, all over with several figures, after the manner of the ancient Britons, painted upon it; and I perceived that most of them were the representation of the late .battles in our civil wars, and, if I not much mistaken, it was the battle of Naseby that was drawn upon his breast. were like burning brass ; and there were three crowns of the same metal, as I guessed, and that looked as red-hot, too, upon his head. He held in his right hand a sword that was yet bloody, and nevertheless, the motto of it was Pax quæritur bello [* We war for peace ']; and in his left hand a thick_book, upon the back of which was written, in letters of gold, Acts, Ordinances, Protestations, Covenants, Engagements, Declarations, Remonstrances, &c.
Though this sudden, unusual, and dreadful object might have quelled a greater courage than mine, yet so it pleased God--for there is nothing bolder than a man in a vision—that I was not at all daunted, but asked him resolutely and briefly : “ What art thou?' And he said: 'I am called the North-west Principality, his highness the Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the dominions belonging thereunto; for I am that Angel to whom the Almighty has committed the government of those three kingdoms, which thou seest from this place.' And I answered and said: 'If it be so, sir, it seems to me that for almost these twenty years past your highness has been absent from your charge ; for not only if any
angel, but if any wise and honest man had since that time been our governor, we should not have wandered thus long in these laborious and endless labyrinths of confusion; but either not have entered at all into them, or at least have returned back ere we had absolutely lost our way; but, instead of your highness, we have had since such a protector as was his predecessor Richard III. to the king, his nephew; for he presently slew the Commonwealth, which he pretended to protect, and set up himself in the place of it: a little less guilty, indeed, in one respect, because the othir slew an innocent, and this man did but murder a murderer. Such a protector we have had as we would have been glad to have changed for an enemy, and rather received a constant Turk than this every month's apostate; such a protector as man is to his flocks which he shears, and sells, or devours himself; and I would fain know what the wolf, which he protects him from, could do more? Such a protector - And, as I was proceeding, methought his highness began to put on a displeased and threatening countenance, as men use to do when their dearest friends happen to be traduced in their company; which gave me the first rise of jealousy against him; for I did not believe that Cromwell, among all his foreign correspondences, had ever held any with angels. However, I was not hardened enough yet to venture a quarrel with him then; and therefore-as if I had spoken to the Protector himself in Whitehall—I desired him that his highness would please to pardon me, if I had unwittingly spoken anything to the disparagement of a person whose relations to his highness I had not the honour to know. At which he told me, that he had no other concernment for his late highness, than as he took him to be the greatest inan that ever was of the English nation, if not,' said he, of the whole world; which gives me a just title to the defence of his reputation, since I now account myself, as it were, a naturalised English angel, by having had so long the management of the affairs of that country.--And pray, countryman,' said he, very kindly and very flatteringly, for I would not have you fall into the general error of the world, that detests and decries so extraordinary a virtuo; what can be more extraordinary than that a person of mean birth, no fortune, no eminent qualities of body, which have sometimes, or of mind, which have often, raised men to the highest dignities, should have the courage to attempt, and the happiness to succeed in, so improbable a design as the destruction of one of the most ancient and most solidly founded monarchies upon the earth ? that he should have the power or boldness to put his prince and master to an open and infamous death; to banish that numerous and strongly allied family: to do all this under the name and wages of a parliament; to trample upon them, too, as he pleased, and spurn them out of doors when he grew weary of them; to raise up a new and unheard-of monster out of their ashes; to stifle that in the very infancy, and set up himself above all things that ever were called sovereign in England; to oppress all his enemies by arms, and all his friends afterwards by artifice; to serve all parties patiently for a while, and to command them victoriously at last'; to overrun each corner of the three nations, and overcome with equal facility both the riches of the south and the poverty of the north; to be feared and courted by all foreign princes, and adopted a brother to the gods of the carth; to call together parliaments with a word of his pen, and scatter them again with the breath of his mouth; to be humbly and daily petitioned, that he would please to be hired, at the rate of two millions a year, to be the master of those who had hired him before to be their servant; to have the estates and lives of three kingdoms as much at his disposal as was the little inheritance of his father, and to be as noble and liberal in the spending of them; and, lastly—for there is no end of all the particulars of his glory-to bequeath all this with one word to his posterity ; to die with peace at home, and triumph abroad; to be buried among kings, and with more than regal solemnity; and to leave a name behind him not to be extinguished but with the whole world; which, as it is now too little for his praises, 80 might have been, too, for his conquests, if the short line of his human life could have been stretched out to the extent of his immortal designs.?
One of the most interesting and popular of our early writers was IZAAK WALTON (1593–1683), an English worthy of the simple antique cast, who retained in the heart of London, and in the midst of close