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ness, which is not always clean: you have chosen for yourself a private greatness, and will not be polluted with ambition. It has been observed in former times, that none have been so greedy of employments, and of managing the public, as they who have least deserved their stations. But such only merit to be called patriots, under whom we see their country flourish. I have laughed sometimes, (for who would always be a Heraclitus?) when I have reflected on those men, who from time to time have shot themselves into the world. I have seen many successions of them; some bolting oat upon the stage with vast applause, and others hissed off, and quitting it with disgrace. But, while they were in action, I have constantly observed, that they seemed desirous to retreat from business: greatness, they said, was nauscous, and a crowd was troublesome: a quiet privacy was their ambition. Some few of them, I believe, said this in earnest, and were making a provision against future want, that they might enjoy their age with ease. They saw the happiness of a private life, and promised to themselves a blessing, which every day it was in their power to possess. But they defer red it, and lingered still at court, because they thought they had not yet enough to make them happy: they would have more, and laid in, to make their solitude luxurious: - a wretched philosophy, which Epicurus never taught them in his garden. They loved the prospect of this quiet in reversion, but were not willing to have it in possession: they would first be old, and make as sure of health and life, as if both of them were at their dispose. But put them to the necessity of a present choice, and they preferred continuance in power; like the wretch who called Death to his assistance, but refused him
when he came. The great Scipio was not of their opinion, who indeed sought honours in his youth, and endured the fatigues with which he purchased them. He served his country when it was in need of his courage and conduct, till he thought it was time to serve himself; but dismounted from the saddle when he found the beast which bore him began to grow restiff and ungovernable. But your lordship has given us a better example of moderation. You saw betimes, that ingratitude is not confined to commonwealths; and therefore, though you were formed alike for the greatest of civil employments and military commands, yet you pushed not your fortune to rise in either, but contented yourself with being capable, as much as any whosoever, of defending your country with your sword, or assisting it with your counsel, when
you were called. For the rest, the respect and love which was paid you, not only in the province where you live, but generally by all who had the happiness to know you, was a wise exchange for the honours of the court—a place of forgetfulness, at the best, for well-deservers. It is necessary, for the polishing of manners, to have breathed that air; but it is infectious, even to the best morals, to live always in it. It is a dangerous commerce, where an honest man is sure at the first of being cheated, and he recovers not his losses, but by learning to cheat others. The undermining smile becomes at length habitual; and the drift of his plausible conversation is only to flatter one, that he may betray another. Yet it good to have been a looker on, without venturing to play; that a man may know false dice another time, though he never means to use them. I commend not him who never knew a court, but him who forsakes it because he knows it. A young man deserves no praise, who, out of melancholy zeal, leaves the world before he has well tried it, and runs headlong into religion. He who carries a maidenhead into a cloister, is sometimes apt to lose it there, and to repent of his repentance. He only is like to endure austerities, who has already found the inconvenience of pleasures: for almost every man will be making experiments in one part or another of his life; and the danger is the less when we are young; for, having tried it. early, we shall not be apt to repeat it afterwards. Your lordship therefore may properly be said to have chosen a retreat, and not to have chosen it till you had maturely weighed the advantages of rising higher, with the hazards of the fall.
Res, non parta labore, sed relicta,
was thought by a poet to be one of the requisites to a happy life. Why should a reasonable man put it into the power of Fortune to make him miserable, when his ancestors have taken care to release him from her? Let him venture, says Horace, qui zonam perdidit. He, who has nothing, plays securely; for he may win, and cannot be poorer if he loses: but he who is born to a plentiful estate, and is ambitious of offices at court, sets a stake to Fortune, which she can seldom answer. If he gains nothing, he loses all, or part of what was once his own, and, if he gets, he cannot be certain but he may refund.
Dryden's praise, though often hyperbolical, is always founded on some circumstances appropriate to its object. Lord Chesterfield, who had enjoyed offices of honour at the court of Charles II., now lived in retirement at an elegant villa, according to Mr. Malone, near Twickenham.