« PreviousContinue »
tues; bnt I have translated only the two first, I Those who are generous, humble, just, and wise, not to turn the kindness I intended to him into Who noť their gold, nor themselves idolize; an injury; for the two last are little more To form thyselt by their exanpte learn than repetitions and recitals of the first ; and (For many eyes can more than one discern); (to make a just excuse for him) they could put yet beware of counsels when too full, not well be otherwise, since the two last vir- Number makes long disputes and graveness tues are but descendants from the first; Pru
dull; dence being the true mother of Temperanee, Though their advice be good, their comisel and true Fortitude the child of Justice.
Debate destroys dispatch ; as fruits we see Wisdom's first progress is to take a view Rot, when they hang too long upon the trees What's decent or indecent, false or true.
In vain that husbandman his seed doth sow, He's truly prudent, who can separate
If he his crop not in due season mow, Honest from vile, and still adhere to that; A general sets his army jp array Their difference to measure, and to reach, In vain, unless he fight, and win the day. Reason well rectify'd must Nature teach. 'Tis virtuous action that must praise bring forth, And these bigh serutinies are subjects fit Without which slow advice is little worth. For man's all-searching and inquiring wit; Yet they who give good counsel, praise deserve, That search of knowledge did from Adam flow; Though in the active part they cannot serve: Who wants it, yet abhors his wants to show. In action, learned counsellors their age, Wisdom of what herself approves, makes choice, Profession, or disease, forbids t engage. Nor is led captive by the common voice. Nor to philosophers is praise deny'dy Clear-sighted Reason, Wisdom's judgment leads, Whose wise instructions after-ages guide ; And Sense, her vassal, in her footsteps treads. Yet vainly most their age in study spend; That thou to Truth the perfect way may'st No end of writing books, and to no end : koor,
Beating their brains for strange and hidden To thee all her specific forms I'll show;
things, He that the way to honesty will leam,
Whose knowledge, nor delight nor profit brings : First wlrat's to be avoided must discern.
Themselves with doubt both day and night pere Thyself from flattering self-conceit defend,
plex, Nor what thou dost not know, 10 know pretend. Nor gentle reader please, or teach, but vex. Some secrets deep in abstruse darkness lie; Books should to one of these four ends conduce, To search them thou wilt need a piercing eye. For wisdom, piety, delight, or use. Nor rashly therefore to such things assent, What need we gaze upon the spangled sky? Which undeceiv'd, thou after may'st repent; Or into matter's hidden causes pry, Study and time in these must thee instruct, To describe every city, stream, or hill And others old experience may conduct.
l'th' world, our fancy with vain arts to fill ? Wisdom herself her ear doih often lend
What is 't to hear a sophister, that pleads, To counsel offer'd by a faithful friend.
Who by the ears the deceiv'd audience leads ? In equal seales two doubtful matters lay, If we were wise, these things we should not mind, Thou may'st choose safely that which most doth But more delight in easy matters find. weigh;
Learn to live well, that thou may'st die so too;
The way (if no digression's made) is even,
Then seek to know those things which make us Who saith, Who could such ill events expect?
blest, With shame on his own counsels doth retfect. And having found them, lock them in thy Most in the world doth self-conceit deceive, Who just and goor, whate'er they act believe ; Inquiring then the way, go on, nor slack, To their wills wedded, to their errours slaves, But mend thy pace, nor think of going back. No man (like them) they think himself behaves. Some their whole age in these inquiries waste, This stiff-neck'd pride nor art nor force can bend, And die like fools before one step they've past. Nor high-flown hopes to Reason's lure descend. 'Tis strange to know the way, and not t’advance, Fathers sometimes their children's faults re- That knowledge is far worse than ignorance. gard
The learned teach, but what they teach, not do, With pleasure, and their crimes with gift re- And standing still themselves, make others go. ward.
In vain on study time away we throw, Ill painters, when they draw, and poeis write, When we forbear to act the things we know. Virgil and Titian (self-admiring) slight; The soldier that philosopher well blam’d, Then all they do, like gold and pearl appears,
Who long and loudly in the schools declaim'd; And other actions are but dirt to theirs.
“ Tell” (said the soldier)“ venerable sir, They that so highly think themselves above Why all these words, this clamour, and this stir. All other men, themselves can only lore; Why do disputes in wrangling spend the day? Reason and virtue, all that man can boast Whilst one says only yea, and t'other pay," O'er other creatures, in those brutes are lost. “ Oh," said the doctor, “ we for wisdom toil'd, Observe (if thee this fatal error touch,
For which none toils too much" : the soldier Thou to thyself contributing too much).
“ You're grey and old, and to some pious use No quick reply to dubious questions måke,
Stay till fit time wear out uncertainty;
Ere they begin let thy pretensions end. Let early care thy main concerns secure, Let thy discourse be such, that thou may'st give Things of less moment may delays endure : Profit to others, or from them receive : Men do not for their servants first prepare, Instruct the ignorant ; to those that live And of their wives and children quit the care; Under thy care, good rules and patterns gite; Yet when we 're sick, the doctor's fetcht in haste, Nor is 't the least of virtues, to relieve Leaving our great concernment to the last. Those whom afflictions or oppressions grieve. When we are well, our hearts are only set Commend but sparingly whom thou dost love : (Which way we care not) to be rich or great : But less condemn whom thou dost not approve; What shall become of all that we have got ? Thy friend, like flattery, too much praise doth We only know that us it follows not ;
wrong, And what a trifle is a moment's breath,
And too sharp censure shows an evil tongue : Laid in the scale with everlasting death! But let inviolate truth be always dear What's time, when on eternity we think? To thee ; e'en before friendship, truth prefer. A thousand ages in that sea must sink;
Than what thou mean'st to give, still promise less; Time's nothing but a word, a million
Hold fast thy power thy promise to increase. Is full as far from infinite as one.
Look forward what's to come, and back what's To whom thou much dost owe, thou much must past, pay,
Thy life will be with praise and prudence Think on the debt against th' accompting-day;
grac'd : God, who to thee reason and knowledge lent, What loss or gain may follow thou may'st guess, Will ask how these two talents have been spent. Thou then wilt be secure of the success ; Let not low pleasures thy high reason blind, Yet be not always on affairs intent, He's mad, that seeks what no man e'er could | But let thy thoughts be easy and unbent: find.
When our minds' eyes are disengag'd and free, Why should we fondly please our sense, wherein They clearer, farther, and distinctly see ; Beasts us exceed, nor feel the stings of sin ? They quicken sloth, perplexities untie, What thoughts man's reason better can become, Make roughness smooth, and hardness mollify; Than th' expectation of his welcome home? And though our hands from labour are releas'd, Lords of the world have but for life their lease, Yet our minds find (ev'n when we sleep) no resto And that too (if the lessor please) must cease.
Search not to find how other men offend, Death cancels Nature's bonds, but for our deeds But by that glass thy own offences mend; (That debt first paid) a strict account succeeds ; still seek to learn, yet care not much from whom, If here not clear’d, no suretyship can bail (So it be learning) or from whence it come. Condemned debtors from th’ eternal jail. Ofthy own actions others' judgments learn; Christ's blood's our balsam ; if that cure us Often by small, great matters we discern. here,
Youth, what man's age is like to be, doth show; Him, when our judge, we shall not find severe; We may our ends by our beginnings knok. His joke is easy when by us embracd,
Let none direct thee what to do or say, But loads and galls, if on our necks 'tis cast. Till thee thy judgment of the matter sway. Be just in all thy actions; and if join'd
Let not the pleasing many thee delight, (right. With those that are not, never change thy mind : First judge, if those whom thou dost please, iudge If aught obstruct thy course, yet stand not still, Search not to find what lies too deeply hid, But wind about, till you have topp'd the hill ; Nor to know things, whose kuowledge is fürTo the same end men several paths may tread, As many doors into one temple lead ;
Nor climb on pyramids, which thy head turt And the same hand into a fist may close,
round Which instantly a palm expanded shows : Standing, and whence no safe descent is found : Justice and faith never forsake the wise,
In vaiu his nerves and faculties he strains Yet may occasion put him in disguise ;
To rise, whose raising unsecure remains : Not turning like the wind, but if the state They whom desert and favour forwards thrust, Of things must change, he is not obstinate; Are wise, when they their measures can adjast. Things past, and future, with the present weighs, When well at ease, and happy, live content, Nor credulous of what vain rumour says. And then consider why that life was lent. Few thiugs by wisdom are at first believ'd : When wealthy, show thy wisdom not to be An easy ear deceives, and is deceiv'd :
To wealth a servant, but make wealth serve thee. For inany truths have often past for lies, Though all alone, yet nothing think or do, And lies as often put on truth's disguise : Which nor a witness nor a judge might know. As flattery too oft like friendship shows, The highest hill is the most slippery place, So them whu speak plain trucu ve think our foes. And Furtune mocks us with a smiling face ;
And her unsteady hand bath often plac'd That liberality's but cast away,
Do nothing that's unjust, to be a king.
Justice must be from violence exempt, Than ships in storms, their helms and anchors But fraud's her only object of contempt. lost :
Fraud in the fox, force in the lion dwells; Before fair gales not all our sails we bear, But justice both from human hearts expels ; But with side winds into safe harbours steer : But he's the greatest monster (without doubt) More ships in calms on a deceitful coast, Who is a wolf within, a sheep without. Or unseen rocks, than in high storms are lost. Nor only ill injurious actions are, Who casts out threats and frowns, no man de- But evil words and slanders bear their share. Time for resistance and defence he gives ; (ceives, Truth justice loves, and truth injustice fears, But flattery still in sugar'd words betrays,
Truth above all things a just man reveres : And poison in high-tasted meats conveys ; Though not by oaths we God to witness call, So Fortune's smiles unguarded man surprise, He sees and hears, and still remembers all; But when she frowns, he arms, and her defies. And yet our attestations we may wrest,
Sometimes to make the truth more manifest ;
If by a lye a man preserve his faith,
He pardon, leave, and absolution hath;
Would bring no good, but prejudice to me. "Tisthe first sanction Nature gave to man, All things committed to thy trust conceal, Each other to assist in what they can;
Nor what's forbid by any means reveal. Just or unjust, this law for ever stands,
Express thyself in plain, not doubtful words, All things are good by law which she commands; That ground for quarrels or disputes affords: The first step, man towards Christ must justly Unless thou find occasion, hold thy tongue; live,
Thyself or others, careless talk may wrong. Who t'us himself, and all we have, did give ; When thou art called into public power, In vain doth man the name of just expect, And when a crowd of suitors throng thy door, If his devotions he to God neglect;
Be snre no great offenders 'scape their dooms ; So must we reverence God, as first to know Small praise from Jen'ty and remissness comes : Justice from him, not from ourselves, doth flow ; Crimes pardon'd, others to those crimes invite, God those accepts, who to mankind are friends, Whilst lookers-on severe examples fright: Whose justice far as their own power extends ; When by a pardon's murderer blood is spilt, In that they imitate the Power divine;
The judge that pardon'd hath the greatest guilt ; The Sun alike on good and bad doth shine Who accuse rigour, make a gross mistake, And he that doth no good, although no ill, One criminal pardon'd may an hundred make : Does not the office of the just fulfil.
When justice on offenders is not done, Virtue doth man to virtuous actions steer, Law, gorernment, and commerce, areo'erthrown
; 'Tis not enough that he should vice forbear; As besieg'd traitors with the foe conspire, We live not only for onrselves to care,
T” unlock the gates, and set the town on fire. Whilst they that want it are deny'd their share. Yet lest the punishment th' offence exceed, Wise Plato said, the world with men was stor'd,
Justice with weight and measure must proceed : That suceour each to other might afford ; Yet when pronouncing sentence seem not glad, Nor are those succours to one sort confin'd, Such spectacles, though they are just, are sad; But several parts to several men consign'd. Though what thou dost, thou ought'st not to reHe that of his own stores no part can give,
pent, May with his counsel or his hand relieve. Yet human bowels cannot but relent: If fortune make thee powerful, give defence Rather than all must suffer, some must die ; 'Gainst fraud, and force, to naked innocence: Yet Nature must condole their misery. And when our justice doth her tributes pay, Aud yet, if many equal guilt inrolve, Method and order must direct the way:
Thou may'st not these condemn, and those absolve. First to our God we must with reverence bow ; Justice, when equal scales she holds, is blind, The second honour to our prince we owe; Nor cruelty, nor inercy, change her mind ; Next to wives, parents, children, fit respect, When soine escape for that which others die, And to our friends and kindred, we direct : Mercy to those, to these is cruelty, The we must those who groan beneath the weight A fine and slender net the spider weaves, Of age, disease, or want, commiserate :
Which little and light animals receives ; Mongst those whom honest lives can recommend, And if she catch a common bee or fly, Our justice more coinpassion should extend ; They with a piteous groan and murmur die; To sach, who thee in some distress did aid, But if a wasp or bornet she entrap, Thy debt of thanks with interest should be paid : They tear her cords like Sampson, and escae As Hesiod sings, spread waters o'er thy field, So like a fly the poor offender dies, And a most just and glad increase 'twill yield. But, like the wasp, the rich escapes and fies. But yet take heed, lest doing good to one,
Do not, if one but lightly thee offend, Mischief and wrong be to another done ; The punishment beyond the crime extend; Such moderation with thy bounty join,
Or after warning the offence forget; That thou may'st nothing give, that is not thine; So God himself our failings dotb remite
Expect not more from servants than is just, Flying from thence, to Italy it came,
And to the realm of Naples gave the name,
Till both their nation and their arts did come
Then wheresoe'er her conquering eagles ied,
And as in this our microcosm, the heart
All her own virtues througin the universe.
Thee, my forgetful and ingrateful Muse:
flight, My early mistress, now my ancient Muse,
And not to thy great ancestor do right? That strong Circæan liquor cease t’infuse,
I can no more believe old Homer blind, Wherewith thou didst intoxicate my youth,
Than those, who say the Sun bath never shin'ds Now stoop with dis-inchanted wings to truth:
The age wherein he liv'd was dark, but he
Could not want sight, who taught the world to Tell (like a tall old oak) how Learning shoots
They who Minerva from Jove's head derive, To Heaven her branches, and to Hell her roots.
Might make old Homer's skull the Muses' hivez W
And from his braip, that Helicon distil, Hen God from carth form'd Adam in the East,
Whose racy liquor did his offspring fill. He his own image on the clay imprest;
Nor old Anacreon, Hesiod, Theocrite, As subjects then the whole creation came,
Must we forget, nor Pindar's lofty flight. And from their natures Adam them did name;
Old Homer's soul, at last from Greece retir'd, Not from experience, (for the world was new)
In Italy the Mantuan swain inspird. He only from their cause their natures knew.
When great Augustus made war's tempest cease, Had memory been lcst with innocence, We had not known the sentence, nor th' offence; He still in his triumphant chariot shincs,
His halycon days brought forth the arts of peace; 'Twas his chief punishment to keep in store By Horace drawn, and Virgil's mighty lines. The sad remembrance what he was before;
'Twas certainly mysterious that the name And though th' offending part felt mortal pain,
Of prophets and of poets is the same; Th' immortal part its knowledge did retain.
What the Tragedian · wrote, the late success After the food, arts to Chaldæa fell,
Declares was inspiration, and not guess : The father of the faithful there did dwell,
As dark a truth that author did unfold, Who both their parent and instructor was;
As oracles or prophets e'er foretold : From thence did learning into Ægypt pass : “ At last the ocean shall unlock 3 the bound Moses in all th’Ægyptian arts was skill'd,
Of things, and a new world by Tiphys found; When heavenly power that chosen vessel fill'd;
Then ages far remote shall understand And we to his high inspiration owe,
The isle of Thule is not the farthest land." That what was done before the flood, we know.
Sure God, by these discoveries, did design From Ægypt, arts ‘heir progress made to Greece,
That his clear light through all the world should Wrapt in the fable of the Golden Fleece.
shine, Musæus first, then Orpheus, civilize
But the obstruction from that discord springs Mankind, and gave the world their deities;
The prince of darkness made 'twixt Christian To many gods they taught devotion,
kings; Which were the distinct faculties of one;
That peaceful age with happiness to crown, Th’ Eternal Cause, in their immortal lines,
From Heaven the Prince of Peace himself came Was taught, and poets were the first divines :
down; God Moses first, then David did i spire,
Then the true Sun of Knowledge first appeard, To compose anthems for his heavenly quire;
And the old dark mysterious clouds were cleard, To th' one the style of friend he did iinpart,
The heavy cause of th' old accursed flood On th' other stamp the likeness of his heart:
Sunk in the sacred deluge of his blood. And Moses, in the old original,
His passion, man from his first fall redeem'd; Even Gud the poet of the world doth call.
Once more to Paradise restor'd we seem'd; Next those old Greeks, Pythagoras did rise,
Satan himself was bound, till th' iron chain Then Socrates, whom th' oracle call'd wise;
Our pride did break, and let him loose again. The divine Plato moral virtue shows,
Still the old sting remain'd, and man began Then his disciple Aristotle rose,
To tempt the serpent, as he tempted man; Who Nature's secrets to the world did teach,
Then Hell sends forth her furies, Avarice, Pride, Yet that great soul our novelists impeach;
Fraud, Discord, Force, Hypocrisy their guide : Too much manuring fillid that field with weeds, Though the foundation on a rock were laid, While sects, like locusts, did destroy the seeds; The church was undermin'd, and then betray'd ; The tree of knowledge, blasted by disputes,
Though the apostles these events foretold, Produces sapless leaves instead of fruits;
Yet even the shepherd did devour the fold: Proud Grerce all nations else barbarians held, Boasting her learning all the world excell'd.
2 Seneca. 3 The Prophecy.
the fisher to convert the world began,
Uncharitable zeal our reason whets, The pride convincing of vain-glorious man;
And double edges on our passions sets ; But soon his followers grew a sovereign lord,
'Tis the most certain sign the world's accurst, And Peter's keys exchang'd for Peter's sword, That the best things corrupted, are the worst : Which still maintains for his adopted son 'Twas the corrupted light of knowledge, hurl'd Vast patrimonies, though himself had none; Sin, death, and ignorance, o'er all the world ; Wresting the text to the old giants' sense,
That Sun, like this, (from which our sight we That Heaven, once more, must suffer violence.
have) Then subtle doctors scriptures made their prize, Gaz'd on too long, resumes the light he gave; Casuists, like cocks, struck out each other's eyes; And when thick mists of doubts obscure his Then dark distinctions reason's light disguis'd,
beams, And into atoms truth anatomiz'd.
Our guide is errour, and our visions dreams. Then Mabomet's crescent, by our feuds increast, 'Twas no false heraldry, when Madness drew Blasted the learn'd remainders of the East : Her pedigree from those who too much knew ; That project, when from Greece to Rome it came, Who in deep mines for hidden knowledge Made mother Ignorance Devotion's dame;
[coils; Then, he whom Lucifer's own pride did swell, Like guns o'er-charg'd, breaks, misses, or reHis faithful emissary, rose from Hell
When subtle wits have spun their thread too To possess Peter's chair, that Hildebrand,
fine, Whose foot on mitres, then on crowns did stand, Tis weak and fragile like Arachne's line : And before that exalted idol, all
True piety, without cessation tost (Whom we call gods on Earth) did prostrate fall. By theories, the practic part is lost, Then darkness Europe's face did overspread,
And like a ball bandy'd 'twixt pride and wit, From lazy cells, where Superstition bred,
Rather than yield, both sides the prize will quit ; Which, link'd with blind Obedience, so increast,
Then whilst his foe each gladiator foils, That the whole world, some ages, they opprest;
The atheist looking on, enjoys the spoils. Till through those clouds the Sun of Knowledge Through seas of knowledge we our course ada,
brake, And Europe from her lethargy did wake ;
Discovering still new worlds of ignorance; Then first our monarchs were acknowledged here, And these discoveries make us all confess That they their churches' nursing fathers were.
That sublunary science is but guess. When Lucifer no longer could advance
Matters of fact to man are only known, His works on the false ground of ignorance,
And what seems more is mere opinion; New arts he tries, and new designs he lays,
The standers-by see clearly this event, Then his well studied master-piece he plays;
Al parties say they're sure, yet all Jissent; Loyola, Luther, Calvin, he inspires,
With their new light our bold inspectors press And kindles with infernal flames their fires,
Like Cham, to show their father's nakedness, Sends their forerunner, (conscious of th’ event) By whose example after-ages may Printing, his most pernicious instrument ! Discover, we more naked are than they : Wild controversy then, which long had slept,
All human wisdom, to divine, is folly ; Into the press from ruin'd cloysters leapt.
This truth the wisest man made melancholy; No longer by implicit faith we err,
Hope, or belief, or guess, gives some relief, Whilst every man's his own interpreter;
But to be sure we are deceiv'd, brings grief: No more conducted now by Aaron's rod,
Who thinks his wife is virtuous, though not Lay-elders, from their ends create their God; But seven wise men the ancient world did know, Is pleas'd, and patient, till the truth he know. We scarce know seven who think themselves not Our God, when Heaven and Earth he did
create, When man learn'd undefil'd religion,
Form'd man, who should of both participate ; We were commanded to be all as one ;
If our lives' motions theirs must imitate, Fiery disputes that union hare calcin'd, Our knowledge, like our blood, must circulate.. Almost as many miads as men we find,
When like a bridegroom from the east, the
Sun And when that flame finds combustible earth,
[run; Thence fatuus fires and meteors take their Sets forth, he thither, whence he came, doth birth,
Into earth's spuogy veins the ocean sinks, Legions of sects and insects come in throngs;
Those rivers to replenish which he drinks ; To name them all would tire a hundred tongues. So learning, which from reason's fountain springs Such were the Centaurs of Ixion's race,
Back to the source, some secret channel brings. Who a bright cloud for Juno did embrace;
'Tis happy when our streams of knowledge flow And such the monsters of Chimæra's behind,
To fill their banks, but not to overthrow.
OF OLD AGE.
SCIPIO TO CATO.