« EelmineJätka »
your mind, and ask yourself this question ; whether, if upon an emergency you are required to die for your country, and to redeem
your fellow-citizens at the expence of your own life, you would stretch out your neck to the sword, not only with a patient but a willing mind? If you can do this, there is no other good: you postpone all things to this. See how great is the force of virtue.
is the force of virtue. You will die for the good of the commonweal, though it be not at present required of you, yet whenever it shall so happen. In the mean while, from a good and beautiful action, great joy may be received in a short space of time, and though no benefit from the said action were to accrue to the person defunct, and taken from the world, yet the very contemplation of the good intended gives delight; and the brave and just man, when he hath in view the price and consequence of his death, suppose, the liberty of his country, and the welfare of all those for whom he lays down his life, is in the highest glee, and enjoys his peril. Nay, even he that is deprived of the joy, which the execution of so great an affair would give him, as the greatest and last pleasure of his life, will yet brook no delay, but will rush upon death, well satisfied with doing what is right and fit, supposing it right and fit fo to do.
Oppose to this however all that can be objected against it: tell him, the favour will soon be loft, and buried in oblivion : that the citizens will not make him any return of grateful esteem. He will readily answer, all these things concern not my action : I consider it in itself: I know it to be right and fit; therefore wherever it leads or invites me, I come.
This then is the one good, which not only a perfect mind, but a generous and good disposition is sensible of. All other things are light and changeable: therefore they are possessed with anxiety, though kind fortune heaped them all upon one man: they become a heavy burden to the owners, they always oppress them, and sometimes weigh them down. Not one of those whom you see arrayed in purple, is happy; any more than those whom you see dresled up for kings on the stage: they strut in their buskins, and look big during the time of action; but having made their exit, they are disrobed, and shrink again to their own stature. Not one of those whom wealth and honours have set on
high is a great man. How comes it then that he seems so? Because
Non ulla laborum,
No terror to my view,
he makes casy by due reflexion.
by due reflexion. We often hear the unskilful crying out, I could not imagine that this would ever be my lot. But the wise man knows that all things are incident to him, and therefore whatever happens he faith, It is what I expected (0).
(a) Troffuli] See Ep. 87. Lipf. Elect. ii. 1. Perf. Sat. i. 81. ubi in N.-Troffulus, vel a Troslulo Tuscorum oppido : vel qu. Torosulus dim. a Torosus, ut notentur homines delicatuli.
Unde iftud dedecus in
quo Trosfulus exultat tibi per subsellia lævis ? Whence that disgrace, when the assemblies meet,
To see a coxcomb kip from feat to feat? (b) In hac Senescamus, hanc ut juvenes fequamur. Lipfius doubts this expression, scholam sequi.—But Gronovius proves it juft, from Cicero, when fequi is used in the same sense with petere; and adds from Virgil, Italiam sequimur.-However, he is not satisfied with the reading, as all the MSS. want the demonstrative pronoun banc; and therefore proposeth the conjecture of Schrevelius, In hanc Senescamus, ut juvenes fequantur.-Let us old men go thitber, that the young men may follow us.
(c) According to that in Plato (in amator) ti tv iOT IY Pirospñoat ; k. T. d. what is it to philo. sophize ?? what, but as Solon faith,
Γηράσκω δ' α/α πολλα διδασκομενος ;
I fill learn somewhat as I grow in years. Live and learn, says the English proverb. Non si finisce mai d' imparare. Ital.-- And very properly, as Hippocrates begins his aphorisms with, Ars longa, vita brevis. Raz, p. 170. Lipf. Manud. i. 1.
(d) According to the proverb in Cicero, (de Orat. ii.) Discum audire malunt quam philofophum. They will rather bear the found of a Coit than a philosopher. Which Erasmus (i. v. 2. 19) thinks may be transferred to (discus escarius) the rattling of plates for dinner.
(e) This is according to the Stoical maxim; Velis esse bonus, eris. If you have an inclination be good, you will be fe. (f) So Phocyllides. Οπλον έκαστω νειμε θεός, φυσιν ήερόφοιτον,
και Όρνιση-με πολλήν ταχυτήτ', αλκής τε λέισι,
Ταυροις δ' αυτοχυτους κεράεοσιν κεντρα μελλισσες,
To man alone, the richest gift of beav'n. M.
Unumquodque suo donavit munere largus
Armavitque manu, cornu, pede, dente, veneno, &c.
nituntur! Nam etiam elephantes mole, tauros robere superare poteritis ? Num tigres velocitate præibitis, &c. Now is it wel yfeene, how litel and how brytel podelion they coveten, that putten the goodes of the bodie above her own reason. For mayst thou surmounten these olifaunts in greatnesse, or in weight of bodie? or mayst thou be fironger than the bull ? mays thou be swifter than the tyger? &c.
Chaucer. Cic. de Nat. Deor. ii. de Fin. v. Sen. Ep. ult.
(g) Deos sequitur] Inferieur a un seul Dieu. Vet. Gall.
Puteanus reads it, Diis æquatur. He is equal to the gods, according to the insolence of the Stoics. Sce Epp. 31, 92.
() Navis tutela] Gr. News aspionuov, Lat. Insigne. The image, from whence the ship generally had its nanie.
-Tutelæque Deum fluitant. Sil.
-Et pictos verberat unda Deos
Visa coronatæ fulgens tutela carinæ. Val. Flacc. i. Vid. Brodæ, Misc. i. 10. Turn. Adv. xix. 2.
(i) See an ingenious modern treatise, called The Analysis of Beauty, by Mr. Hogarth, p. 72. * For according to the Stoics their wise man is ever fixed on good. (k) As Mutius Scavola, Ep. 24. (1) As the servant who in revenge of his master killed Afdrubal.
(m) This is one of those passages, wherein Senec a speaks in a clear and noble manner of the happiness of souls after death, when freed from the incumbrance of the body, and received into the place or region of departed souls. Vid. Consol. ad Polyb. c. 28. Conf. ad Marc. c. 25. But especially Epist. 102, where he has some sublime thoughts on this subject, and among the rest-Dies iste quem tanquam extremum reformidas, æterni natalis est. The day which you dread as the last of life, is to be regarded as the birth-day of an eternal one-though it must be owned he speaks of this elsewhere with doubt and uncertainty. See Leland ii. p. 287.
They strut and fret their hour upon the stage,
And then are heard no more.- Hamlet. (0) Dixit, fciebam.] As some of the editions want sciebam, I was thinking that if we might transfer the three letters S. V. B. which begin the next Epistle, and instead of Si Vales, Bene eft, they might be allowed to stand for Si Vult (Deus) Bene est, this would make a proper ejaculation not only for a wise heathen, but a good Christian; God's will be done.
E P I S T L E LXXVII.
Against the Fear of Death.
I (Hope you are well; (a) and) beg leave to inform you, Lucilius, that, this day, somewhat unexpectedly appeared in light the Alexandrian ships (b), which are usually sent before to announce the approach of
the whole fleet; they are called packet boats. Very grateful was the fight of them to all Campania : The people were standing on the mole of Puteoli, and could easily distinguish the Alexandrian from the rest of the numerous fleet by their fails; forasmuch as these vessels alone have the privilege of spreading their top-fails, which the other never hoyse, but when out at sea: as nothing contributes more to swift failing, than the top-fail by. which the vessel is chiefly carried along; therefore when the wind ariseth, and blows too smart a gale; the topyard is generally struck, whereby the wind hath less force on the body of the ship. Now when they have enter'd between Capreæ and the promontory, from whence
Alta procelloso speculatur vertice Pallas *,
Pallas looks down upon the foamy deep. The rest are oblig'd to be contented with the mainsail, and the topfail (c) is left as a mark of distinction to the Alexandrian. In tliis great concourse of people, that were flocking to the shore, I enjoyed some satisfaction in walking at my leisure, forasmuch as tho' I expected letters from my correspondents ; I was in no such great hurry to know their contents, and how my affairs stood at Alexandria ; having long since been indifferent either to loss or gain. Was I not so old as I am, I should still have thought the same; but much more now, when, however small my stock, I have far more provision left, than way to travel (d), especially too, when on a journey, which there is no necessity I should completely finish. A journey cannot be said to be finished if you stop in the midway, or before you have reached the destin’d place; but the journey of life is such, that it is at all times complete, provided it be just and honorable. Whenever you finish it, if finished well, it will be entire: nay
sometimes be finished courageously even upon
the lightest cause; for in truth there are no other that detain us here.
Tullius Marcellinus, whom you knew very well, a sweet-temper'd youth, but of a crazy constitution, was surprised by a disease, not perhaps incurable, but such as was tedious, and very troublesome, and which obliged him to suffer much; he therefore was deliberating