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of? Tell me now what you please of rheums, and the violence of a cough, throwing up part of your lungs; and of a fever burning your heart-strings; of the most painful thirst; and of limbs and joints diftorted and dislocated with pain: yet how much more severe is it, to be burned alive; to be torn in pieces on the rack; to have red hot pads of iron laid upon the body; and a presiure made upon the swoln wounds, to renew the pain, and make it pierce the deeper? And yet there have been those who have endured all this without a groan: nay more, they ask'd for no remission: and more, no word could be extorted from them; yet more, they laughed, and earnestly from the soul. After all this, will you not scoff at pain?
But your disease, you say, will not permit you to do any thing; it prevents all manner of business. Be it so; fickness indeed restrains the body but not the mind; it fetters the feet of the running-footman and will tie up
the hands of the cobler and blackfinith: but if you have learned the right use of the mind, you will still give advice, teach, hear, learn, be inquisitive, reflect, and the like. Besides, do you think you are doing nothing if you are temperate in your fickness? you will hereby thew that your distemper may be conquer’d, or at least supported with patience. Believe me, Lucilius, virtue finds a place even in the fick-bed. Not only arms and battles give testimony of a valiant mind, unterrified by danger; the brave man is alike seen under his coverlet. You have still wherewithal to employ you. Contend strenuously with your disease; if it can neither compel you, nor persuade you, to do an unworthy action, you set a rare example. O how great cause of triumph is it, to be look'd upon with admiration on the bed of fickness! look upon, nor scruple to praise, yourself.
Moreover there are two forts of pleasure; sickness indeed resirains bodily pleasures, but does not altogether take them away: nay, if you judge rightly it rather enhanceth them: the thirsty have more pleasure in drinking; and food is the more tasteful to him that is hungry: whatever we have been commanded to abstain from we now receive more grecdily. But no physician can debar his patient the other pleasures
of the mind, which are still greater and more certain. He that follows these, and understands them well, despiseth all the blandishments of the senses. . o, how wretched is a fick man! and why? because he dilutes not his wine with snow; because he cools not his draught with ice, broken into it, and mixed in a great glass; because no oysters from the Locrian lake are opened at his table; because the dining room does not ring with the noise of the cooks that are bringing in their stew pans and chafing dishes. For this too hath luxury introduced; that the meat may not grow cool; that it may be hot enough for the palate, now grown callous; the whole kitchen attends at supper.
O how wretched is the fick man! he must eat no more than he can digest, he shall not see a whole boar, messed up and set upon a side. table, as coarse commons ; nor Thall he have the breasts of fowls (for it is not the fashion to see them whole) heaped up for him in different dishes in the larder. And what harm do you suffer in all this? you Mall sup as becometh a sick man: nay, sometimes, as if really in good health. But we thall easily endure these things, weak broths, warm water, and whatever the delicate, and luxurious, and such as are rather fick in mind than in body, think intolerable; if we once get over the horror and fear of death: and this we certainly shall do, if we rightly distinguished the ends of good and evil : for by this means neither life would seem tedious or distasteful, nor death terrible. For a life, taken up
with reflecting on things so various, so great and divine, can never be cloy'd with fatiety. Ease and idleness only are wont to give it a difrelish. Truth never fatigues the mind when traversing the nature of things; it is falsehood alone that gives it a disgust.
Again, if death makes his approach, and calls upon us, thoughi fomewhat immaturely; nay, though he cuts us off in the flower of our age, yet the fruit of the longest life may yet have been gathered. Nature for the most part is open to the knowledge of the wise man; who plainly perceives, that virtue (or what is right and fit) is nut enhanced by length of days. But every life must necessarily seem short to those who ineasure it by their pleasures, vain, and therefore infinite,
Comfort yourself, Lucilius, with these reflections, and at leisure
peruse my Epistles. The time will come when we may meet again and converse together: how short foever that time may
may en’d by knowing how to use it well. For, as Posidonius writes, Unus dies hominum eruditorum plus patet, quam imperiti longissima ætas, One day enjoyed by the Literati, is of longer duration than whole years among the ignorant and unlearned (3). In the mean while adhere stedfastly to thefe precepts; not to yield to affliction nor put your trust in prosperity; to set the wbole power of fortune before your eyes; and to suppose that she will do, what she can do. An evil that hath been long expected, gives the milder stroke when it happens.
(a) In the time of the emperor Caius, who dreading his eloquence, was determined upon his destruction, but he was saved by the declaration of an old woman, that he was in jo deep a consumption it was imposible for him to live lang.
(b) It is always so.--Pliny (Ep. I. 22.) speaking of his friend Titus Aristo, says, “ He desired us “ to inquire of his physicians into the nature of his distemper, that if it was incurable he might - chuse an immediate death : but if only stubborn, and tedious, he might stand firm and struggle, as • he ought; for he thought it not allowable, to frustrate the prayers of his wife, the tears of his “ daughter, and the hopes of his friends, if there were any grounds for these hopes, by putting an “ end to his own life. A noble determination; and always proper! (c)
Si poffis fanum ingere, fanus eris.
Think yourself well, and all complaint will cease. (d) From this saying of Posidonius
, Muretus supposes that Cicero took in his Tufculat questions, Amo 1. v. Unum bene et ex philffophiæ præceptis aétum, esse pæne toti immortalitati anteponendum ; One day spent well, and agreeable to the precepts of philosophy, is preferable to an eternity of sin. But more just and sublime is that of the royal Pfalmis, One day in thy courts, O Lord, is better than a thousand, Pl. 84. 10.
I Expect letters from you, Lucilius, with an account of what new things you observ'd in your voyage round Sicily; , and particulatly what you have learned of certainty concerning Charybdis. I know well enough that Sýlla is a vast rock, and consequently very terrible to sailors, but I should be glad to be inform'd whether the stories related of Charybdis have any foundation; and if you have observ'd, (for 'tis a thing worthy to be observed) whether it is one particular wind, that forms these hideous whirlpools, or whether every tempestuous wind alike disturbs that boisterous sea: and whether it be true, that whatever is sucked in, is carried under the water many miles, and flung up again in the Tauromenitan bay (a). When
you have oblig'd me herein I will make bold to desire the favour of you to ascend mount Ætna ; which some have supposed to have been somewhat consumed and lower'd by degrees; as they were wont to shew it formerly to passengers at a greater distance than they do now (b). Though this might happen, not because the mountain's height is lowered, but because the fires are weaken'd and do not blaze out with their former vehemenence: and for which reason it is that such vast clouds of smoke are not seen in the day time. Yet neither of these seem incredible: for the mountain may possibly be consumed by being daily devoured: and the fire not be so large as formerly: since it is not felf-generated here, but is kindled in the distant bowels of the earth and there rages, being fed with continual fuel: not with that of the mountain, through which it only makes its passage. In Lycia there is a fimous territory, which the inhabitants call Hephaestion, where the foil is perforated in many places (c). From whence breaks forth a lambent flame, that is not in the least detrimental ; the country therefore is still pleasant, and fertile, with good herbage, as the flame does not scorch it, Vol. II. E
but only makes it shine with a faint and glimmering brightness. But for the present we shall wave this matter, and resume it again when you have inform’d me how far from the orifice of Ætna are those heaps of snow which the summer itself does not dissolve: so little danger are they in, from the neighbouring heat.
Now, there is no reason you should say that I impose this work upon you; for I know, you would indulge your poetical vein herein, though no one required it of you; nay, it would be in vain to pretend to bribe you, not to undertake a description of Ætna in verfe, or not to treat on a subject that has been thought so worthy the pen of all the poets: For tho' Virgil had before elegantly and fully described it; this did not prevent Ovid from the attempt; and neither of them debarred Cornelius Severus from writing on the same fubje&. It is a subject moreover so happily copious, that they who have gone before, seem by no means tohave exhausted it, but to have opened matter for further explanation. There is also a great difference, whether you undertake a subject that is quite exhausted, or such a one as only exhibits a rough draught; for this daily increases, and supplies room for further invention. Add likewise that the last writer hath generally the greatest advantage. He finds words already prepared, which, under a different arrangement, put on the semblance of something new; nor does he use them as the property' of another, but as things in common; and the lawyers say, that what is in common no one can claim as his own property. If I know
you your mouth waters, as they say, at a description of Ætna: you long to write something great and sublime, and to Thew yourself at least equal to those who have wrote before you, For your modesty will not permit you to hope any thing more: nay, it is so great, that I verily believe, you would check your genius in its career, if there was any likelihood of excelling them. Such respect you pay to your predecessors.
Be that as it will; know, that wisdom hath this peculiar good, among many other, that not one professor of it can excell another, but in the time and act of ascending: when they once come to the summit of perfedion, there is no room for any advantage of one above another. There