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Than that those years, which others think extreme,
Nor to yourself, nor us uneasy seem ;
Under which weight most, like th' old giants, groan,
When Eina on their backs by Jove was thrown. CATO. What you urge, Scipio, from right reason flows;
All parts of age seem burthensome to those
Who virtue's and true wisdom's happiness
Cannot discern; but they who those possess,
In what's impos'd by Nature find no grief,
Of which our age is (next our death) the chief,
Which though all equally desire t' obtain,
Yet when they have obtain'd it, they complain,
Such our inconstancies and follies are,
We say it steals upon us unaware;
Our want of reasoning these false measures makes,
Youth runs to age, as childhood youth o'er-
How much more grievous would our lives appear,
To reach th' eighth hundred, than the eightieth year?
Of what, in that long space of time hath past,
To foolish age will no remembrance last.
My age's conduct when you seem t'admire,
(Which that it may deserve, I much desire)
'Tis my first rule, on Nature, as my guide
Appointed by the gods, I have rely'd;
And Nature (which all acts of life designs)
Not like ill poets, in the last declines:
But some one part must be the last of all,
Which, like ripe fruits, must either rot or fall.
And this from Nature must be gently borne,
Else her (as giants did the gods) we scorn.
LEL. But, sir, 'tis Scipio's and my desire, Since to long life we gladly would aspire, [ hear, That from your grave instructions we might How we, like yon, may this great burthen bear.
CAT. This I resolv'd before, but now shall do With great delight, since 'tis requir'd by you.
LÆL. If to yourself it will not tedious prove, Nothing in us a greater joy can move, That as old travellers the young instruct, Your long, our short experience may conduct. CAT. 'Tis true (as the old proverb doth relate) Equals with equals often congregate. Two consuls (who in years my equals were) When senators, lamenting I did hear, That age from them had all their pleasures torn, And them their former suppliants now scorn: They, what is not to be accus'd, accuse, Not others, but themselves their age abuse : Else this might me concern, and all my friends, Whose cheerful age, with honour, youth attends,
Of honour, wealth, and power, to make them sweet;
Not every one such happiness can meet.
CAT. Some weight your argument, my
But not so much as at first sight appears.
This answer by Themistocles was made,
(When a Seriphian thus did him upbraid,
"You those great honours to your country owe,
Not to yourself")" Had I at Seripho
Been born, such honour I had never seen,
Nor you, if an Athenian you had been.”
So age, cloath'd in indecent poverty,
To the most prudent cannot easy be;
But to a fool, the greater his estate,
The more uneasy is his age's weight.
Age's chief arts, and arms, are to grow wise,
Virtue to know, and known to exercise;
All just returns to age then virtue makes,
Nor her in her extremity forsakes;
The sweetest cordial we receive at last,
Is conscience of our virtuous actions pasi.
I (when a youth) with reverence did look
On Quintus Fabius, who Tarentum took;
Yet in his age such cheerfulness was seen,
As if his years and mine had equal been:
His gravity was mixt with gentleness,
Nor had his age made his good-humour less;
Then was he well in years, (the same that he
Was consel, that of my nativity)
(A stripling then) in his fourth consulate
On him at Capua I în arms did wait.
I five years after at Tarentum wan
The quæstorship, and then our love began,
And four years after, when I prætor was,
He pleaded, and the Cincian law did pass.
With useful diligence he us❜d t' engage,
Yet with the temperate arts of patient age
He breaks fierce Hannibal's insulting heats;
Of which exploits thus our friend Ennius treats,
He by delay restor'd the commonwealth,
Nor preferr'd rumour before public health.
Joy'd that from pleasure's slavery they are free,
And all respects due to their age they see.
In its true colours this complaint appears
The ill effect of manners, not of years;
For on their life no grievous burthen lies,
Who are well-natur'd, temperate, and wise:
But an inhuman and ill-tempered mind,
Not any easy part in life can find.
LAL. This I believe; yet others may dispute,
heir age (as yours) can never bear such fruit
The Roman commonwealth restor❜d did boast, Nor Appius, with whose strength his sight was lost,
Who, when the senate was to peace inclin'd With Pyrrhus, show'd his reason was not blind. Whither's our courage and our wisdom come, When Rome itself conspires the fate of Rome ? The rest with ancient gravity and skill He spake (for his oration's extent still.) 'Tis seventeen years since he had consul been The second time, and there were ten between ; Therefore their argument's of little force, Who age from great employments would divorce, As in a ship some climb the shrouds t' unfold The sail, some sweep the deck, some pump the hold;
Whilst he that guides the helm, employs his
And gives the law to them, by sitting still.
Great actions less from courage, strength, and
Than from wise counsels and commands, proc ed;
Those arts age wants not, which to age belong,
Not heat, but cold experience, makes us strong.
A consul, tribune, general, I have been,
All sorts of war I have past through, and seen;
And now grown old, I seem t' abandon it,
Yet to the senate I prescribe what 's fit.
levery day 'gainst Carthage war proclaim,
(For Rome's destruction hath been long her aim)
Nor shall I cease till I her ruin see,
Which triumph may the gods design for thee;
That Scipio may revenge his grandsire's ghost,
Whose life at Canna with great honour lost
Is on record; nor had he weary'd been
With age, if he an hundred years had seen:
He had not us'd excursions, spears, or darts,
But counsel, order, and such aged arts;
Which, if our ancestors had not retain'd,
The senate's name our council had not gain'd.
The Spartans to their highest magistrate
The name of Elder did appropriate :
Therefore his fame for ever shall remain,
How gallantly Tarentum he did gain,
With vigilant conduct: when that sharp reply
He gave to Salinator, I stood by,
Who to the castle fled, the town being lost,
Yet he to Maximus did vainly boast,
'Twas by my means Tarentum you obtain'd;
'Tis true, had you not lost, I had not gain'd.
And as much honour on his gown did wait,
As on his arms, in his fifth consulate.
When his colleague Carvilius stept aside,
The tribune of the people would divide
To them the Gallic and the Picene field,
Against the senate's will, he will not yield;
When being angry, boldly he declares
Those things were acted under happy stars,
From which the commonwealth found good ef-
But otherwise they came from bad aspects. [fects,
Many great things of Fabius I could tell,
But his son's death did all the rest excel;
(His gallant son, though young, had consul been)
His funeral oration I have seen
Often; and when on that I turn my eyes,
I all the old philosophers despise.
Though he in all the people's eyes seem'd great,
Yet greater he appear'd in his retreat;
When feasting with his private friends at home,
Such counsel, such discourse, from him did come,
Such science in his art of augury, No Roman ever was more learn'd than he ; Knowledge of all things present and to come, Remembering all the wars of ancient Rome, Nor only there, but all the world's beside: Dying in extreme age, I prophesy'd That which is come to pass, and did discern From his survivors I could nothing learn. This long discourse was but to let you see, That his long life could not uneasy be. Few like the Fabii or the Scipios are Takers of cities, conquerors in war. Yet others to like happy age arrive, Who modest, quiet, and with virtue live: Thus Plato writing his philosophy, With honour after ninety years did die. Th' Athenian story writ at ninety-four By Isocrates, who yet liv'd five years more; His master Gorgias at the hundredth year And seventh, not his studies did forbear: And, ask'd, why he no sooner left the stage, Said, he saw nothing to accuse old age. None but the foolish, who their lives abuse, Age, of their own mistakes and crimes, accuse. All commonwealths (as by records is seen) As by age preserv'd, by youth destroy'd have When the tragedian Nævis did demand, [been. Why did your commonwealth no longer stand? 'Twas answer'd, that their senators were new, Foolish and young, and such as nothing knew. Nature to youth hot rashness doth dispense, But with cold prudence age doth recompense; But age, 'tis said, will memory decay : So (if it be not exercis'd) it may; Or, if by nature it be dull and slow: Themistocles (when ag'd) the names did know Of all th' Athenians; and none grow so old, Not to remember where they hid their gold From age such art of memory we learn To forget nothing, which is our concern; Their interest no priest nor sorcerer Forgets, nor lawyer, nor philosopher; No understanding memory can want, Where wisdom studious industry doth plant. Nor does it only in the active live, But in the quiet and contemplative. When Sophocles (who plays when aged wrote) Was by his sons before the judges brought, Because he pay'd the Muses such respect, His fortune, wife, and children to neglect ; . Almost condemn'd, he mov'd the judges thus, "Hear, but instead of me, my Oedipus :" The judges hearing with applause, at th' end Freed him, and said, "No fool such lines had What poets and what orators can I [penn'd." Recount! what princes in philosophy! Whose constant studies with their age did strive, Nor did they those, though those did them sur
Old husbandmen I at Sabinum know,
Who for another year dig, plough, and sow;
For never any man was yet so old
But hop'd his life one winter more might hold.
Cæcilius vainly said, "Each day we spend
Discovers something, which must needs offend.".
But sometimes age may pleasant things behold,
And nothing that offends: he should have told
This not to age, but youth, who oftener see
What not alone offends, but hurts, than we :
That I in him, which he in age, condemn'd,
That as it renders odious and contemn'd.
He knew not virtue, if he thought this truth;
For youth delights in age, and age in youth.
What to the old can greater pleasure be,
Than hopeful and ingenuous youth to see;
When they with reverence follow where we lead,
And in straight paths by our directions tread!
And ev'n my conversation here I see,
As well receiv'd by you, as yours by me.
'Tis disingenuous to accuse our age
Of idleness, who all out powers engage
In the same studies, the same course to hold;
Nor think our reason for new arts too old.
Solon the sage his progress never ceas'd,
But still his learning with his days increas'd;
And I with the same greediness did seek,
As water when I thirst, to swallow Greek;
Which I did only learn, that I might know
Those great examples which I follow now:
And I have heard that Socrates the wise,
Learn'd on the lute for his last exercise.
Though many of the ancients did the same,
To improve knowledge was my only aim.
THE SECOND PART.
Now int' our second grievance I must break, "That loss of strength makes understanding weak."
I grieve no more my youthful strength to want,
Than, young, that of a bull or elephant ;
Then with that force content which Nature gave,
Nor am I now displeas'd with what I have.
When the young wrestlers at their sport grew
Old Milo wept to see his naked arm;
And cry'd, 'twas dead: Trifler, thine heart, and head,
And all that's in them (not thy arm) are dead ;
This folly every looker-on derides,
To glory only in thy arms and sides.
Our gallant ancestors let fall no tears,
Their strength decreasing by increasing years;
But they advanc'd in wisdom every hour,
And made the commonwealth advance in power.
But orators may grieve, for in their sides,
Rather than heads, their faculty abides;
Yet I have heard old voices loud and clear,
And still my own sometimes the senate hear.
When th' old with smooth and gentle voices plead,
They by the ear their well-pleas'd audience lead:
Which, if I had not strength enough to do,
I could (my Lælius, and my Scipio)
What's to be done, or not be done, instruct,
And to the maxims of good life conduct.
Cneius and Publius Scipio, and (that man
Of men) your grandsire, the great African,
Were joyful, when the flower of noble blood
Crowded their dwellings, and attending stood,
Like oracles their counsels to receive,
How in their progress they should act, and live.
And they whose high examples youth obeys,
Are not despised, though their strength decays,
And those decays (to speak the naked truth,
Though the defects of age) were crimes of youth.
Intemperate youth (by sad experience found)
Euds in an age imperfect and unsound.
Cyrus, though ag'd, (if Xenophon say true)
Lucius Metellus (whom when young 1 knew)
Who held (after his second consulate)
Twenty-two years the high pontificate;
Neither of these, in body or in mind,
Before their death the least decay did find.
I speak not of myself, though none deny
To age, to praise their youth, the liberty:
Such an unwasted strength I cannot boast,
Yet now my years are eighty-four almost:
And though from what it was my strength is far,
Both in the first and second Punic war,
Nor at Thermopyla, under Glabrio,
Nor when I consul into Spain did go;
But yet I feel no weakness, nor hath length
Of winters quite enervated my strength;
And I my guest, my client, or my friend,
Still in the courts of justice can defend:
Neither must I that proverb's truth allow,
"Who would be ancient, must be early so."
I would be youthful still, and find no need
To appear old, till I was so indeed.
And yet you see my hours not idle are,
Though with your strength I cannot mine com
Yet this centurion's doth your's surmount,
Not therefore him the better man I count.
Milo, when entering the Olympic game,
With a huge ox upon his shoulder came.
Would you the force of Milo's body find,
Rather than of Pythagoras's mind?
The force which Nature gives with care retain,
But, when decay'd, 'tis folly to complain;
In age to wish for youth is full as vain,
As for a youth to turn a child again.
Simple and certain Nature's ways appear,
And she sets forth the seasons of the year.
So in all parts of life we find her truth,
Weakness to childhood, rashness to our youth;
To elder years to be discreet and grave,
Then to old age maturity she gave.
(Scipio) you know, how Massinissa bears
His kingly port at more than ninety years!
When marching with his foot, he walks till night;
When with his horse, he never will alight;
Though cold or wet, his head is always bare;
So hot, so dry, his aged members are.
You see how exercise and temperance
Ev'n to old years a youthful strength advance.
Our law (because from age our strength retires)
No duty which belongs to strength requires,
But age doth many men so feeble make,
That they no great design can undertake;
Yet, that to age not singly is apply'd,
But to all man's infirmities beside.
That Scipio, who adopted you, did fall
Into such pains, he had no health at all:
Who else had equall'd Africanus' parts,
Exceeding him in all the liberal arts.
Why should those errours then imputed be
To age alone, from which our youth's not free!
Every disease of age we may prevent,
Like those of youth, by being diligent.
When sick, such moderate exercise we use,
And diet, as our vital heat renews ;
And if our body thence refreshment finds,
Then must we also exercise our minds.
If with continual oil we not supply
Our lamp, the light for want of it will die:
Though bodies may be tir'd with exercise,
No weariness the mind could e'er surprise.
Cæcilius the comedian, when of age
He represents the follies on the stage;
They're credulous, forgetful, dissolute,
Neither those crimes to age he doth impute,
But to old men to whom those crimes belong.
Lust, petulance, rashness, are in youth more
Than age, and yet young men those vices hate,
Who virtuous are, discreet and temperate :
And so what we call dotage, seldom breeds
In bodies, but where Nature sows the seeds.
There are five daughters, and four gallant sons,
In whom the blood of noble Appius runs,
With a most numerous family beside,
Whom he alone, though old and blind, did guide,
Yet his clear-sighted mind was still intent,
And to his business like a bow stood bent:
By children, servants, neighbours, so esteem'd,
He not a master, but a monarch seem'd.
All his relations his admirers were,
His sons paid reverence, and his servants fear:
The order and the ancient discipline
Of Romans did in all his actions shine.
Authority kept up old age secures,
Whose dignity as long as life endures.
Something of youth I in old age approve,
But more the marks of age in youth I love.
Who this observes, may in his body find
Decrepit age, but never in his mind.
The seven volumes of my own Reports,
Wherein are all the pleadings of our courts;
All noble monuments of Greece are come
Unto my hands, with those of ancient Rome.
The pontificial, and the civil law,
1 study still, and thence orations draw.
And to confirm my memory, at night,
What I hear, see, or do, by day I still recite.
These exercises for my thoughts I find,
These labours are the chariots of my mind.
To serve my friends, the senate I frequent,
And there, what I before digested, vent.
Which only from my strength of mind proceeds,
Nor any outward force of body needs:
Which, if I could not do, I should delight
On what I would to ruminate at night.
Who in such practices their minds engage,
Nor fear nor think of their approaching age;
Which by degrees invisibly doth creep:
Nor do we seen to die, but fall asleep,
Intoxicating both, by them, she finds,
And burns the sacred temples of our minds.
Furies, whieh, reason's divine chains had bound,
(That being broken) all the world confound.
Lust, Murder, Treason, Avarice, and Hell
Itself broke loose, in Reason's palace dwell:
Truth, Honour, Justice, Temperance, are fled,
All her attendants into darkness led.
THE THIRD PART.
Now must I draw my forces 'gainst that host
Of pleasures, which i' th' sea of age are lost,
O thou most high transcendent gift of age!
Youth from its folly thus to disengage.
And now receive from me that most divine
Oration of that noble Tarentine,
Which at Tarentum I long since did hear,
When I attended the great Fabius there.
Ye gods! was it man's nature, or his fate,
Betray'd him with sweet pleasure's poison'd
Which he with all designs of art or power,
Doth with unbridled appetite devour :
And as all poisons seek the noblest part,
Pleasure possesses first the head and heart;
But why all this discourse? when pleasure's rage
Hath conquer'd reason we must treat with age.
Age undermines, and will in time surprise
Her strongest forts: and cut off all supplies;
And join'd in league with strong necessity,
Pleasure must fly, or else by famine die.
Flaminius, whom a consulship had grac'd,
(Then censor) from the senate I displac'd;
When he in Gaul, a consul, made a feast,
A beauteous courtezan did him request
To see the cutting off a prisoner's head;
This crime I could not leave unpunished,
Since by a private villainy he stain'd
That public honour, which at Rome he gain'd.
Then to our age (when not to pleasures bent)
This seems an honour, not disparagement.
We, not all pleasures, like the Stoics, hate;
But love and seek, those which are moderate.
(Though divine Plato thus of pleasures thought,
They us, with hooks and baits, like fishes caught)
When quæstor, to the gods, in public calls
I was the first who set up festivals.
Not with high tastes our appetites did force,
But fill'd with conversation and discourse;
Which feasts convivial meetings we did name:
Not like the ancient Greeks, who, to their shame,
Call'd it a compotation, not a feast;
Declaring the worst part of it the best.
Those entertainments I did then frequent
Sometimes with youthful heat and merriment:
But now I thank my age, which gives me ease
From those excesses; yet myself I please
With cheerful talk to entertain my guests,
(Discourses are to age continual feasts)
The love of meat and wine they recompense,
And cheer the mind, as much as those the sense.
I'm not more pleas'd with gravity among
The ag'd, than to be youthful with the young;
Nor 'gainst all pleasures proclaim open war,
To which, in age, some natural motions are.
And still at my Sabinum I delight
To treat my neighbours till the depth of night.
But we the sense of gust and pleasure want
Which youth at full possesses, this I grant;
But age seeks not the things which youth re-
And no man needs that which he not desires.
When Sophocles was ask'd, if he deny'd
Himself the use of pleasures, he reply'd
"I humbly thank th' immortal gods, who me
From that fierce tyrant's insolence set free."
But they, whom pressing appetites constrain,
Grieve when they cannot their desires obtain.
Young men the use of pleasure understand,
As of an object new, and near at hand:
Though this stands more remote from age's sight,
Yet they behold it not without delight:
As ancient soldiers, from their duties eas'd,
With sense of honour and rewards are pleas'd;
So from ambitious hopes and lusts releast,
Delighted with itself, our age doth rest.
No part of life's more happy, when with bread
Of ancient knowledge, and new learning fed.
All youthful pleasures by degrees must cease,
But those of age ev'n with our years increase.
We love not loaded boards, and goblets crown'd,
But free from surfeits our repose is sound.
When old Fabricius to the Samnites went,
Ambassador, from Rome to Pyrrhus sent,
He heard a grave philosopher maintain,
That all the actions of our life were vain,
Which with our sense of pleasure not conspir'd;
Fabricius the philosopher desir'd,
That he to Pyrrhus would that maxim teach,
And to the Samnites the same doctrine preach;
Then of their conquest he should doubt no more,
Whom their own pleasures overcame before.
Now into rustic matters I must fall.
Which pleasure seems to me the chief of all.
Age no impediment to those can give,
Who wisely by the rules of Nature live.
Earth (though our mother) cheerfully obeys
All the commands her race upon her lays;
For whatsoever from our hand she takes.
Greater or less, a vast return she makes,
Nor am I only pleas'd with that resource.
But with her ways, her method, and her force.
The seed her bosom (by the plough made fit)
Receives, where kindly she embraces it,
Which, with her genuine warmth diffus'd and
Sends forth betimes a green and tender head, Then gives it motion, life, and nourishment, Which from the root through nerves and veins are sent,
Straight in a hollow sheath upright it grows,
And, form receiving doth itself disclose:
Drawn up in ranks and files, the bearded spikes
Guard it from birds, as with a stand of pikes.
When of the vine I speak, I seem inspir'd,
And with delight, as with her juice, am fir'd;
At Nature's god-like power I stand amaz'd,
Which such vast bodies hath from atoms rais'd.
The kernel of a grape, the fig's small grain,
Can clothe a mountain, and o'er shade a plain :
But thou, dear vine, forbid'st me to be long,
Although thy trunk be neither large nor strong.
Nor can thy head (not helpt) itself sublime,
Yet, like a serpent, a tall tree can elimb;
Whate'er thy many fingers can entwine,
Proves thy support, and all its strength is thine.
Though Nature gave not legs, it gave thee hands,
By which thy prop the proudest cedar stands ;
As thou hast hands, so hath thy offspring wings,
And to the highest part of mortals springs.
But lest thou should'st consume thy wealth in
And starve thyself to feed a numerous train,
Or like the bee (sweet as thy blood) design'd
To be destroy'd to propagate his kind,
Lest thy redundant and superfluous juice
Should fading leaves instead of fruits produce,
The pruner's hand, with letting blood, must
Thy heat and thy exuberant parts retrench :
Then from the joints of thy prolific stein
A swelling knot is raised (call'd a gem),
Whence in short space, itself the cluster shows,
And from earth's moisture mixt with sun-beams
l' th' spring, like youth, it yields an acid taste, But summer doth, like age, the sourness waste; Then cloth'd with leaves, from heat and cold
Like virgins, sweet, and beauteous, when mature. On fruits, flowers, herbs, and plants, I long could dwell,
At once to please my eye, my taste, my smell;
My walks of trees, all planted by my hand,
Like children of my own begetting stand.
To tell the several natures of each earth,
What fruits from each most properly take birth
And with what arts to enrich every mould,
The dry to moisten, and to warm the cold.
But when we graft, or buds inoculate,
Nature by art we nobly meliorate;
As Orpheus' music wildest beasts did tame,
From the sour crab the sweetest apple came:
The mother to the daughter goes to school,
The species changed doth her laws o'er rule;
Nature herself doth from herself depart,
(Strange transmigration!) by the power of
How little things give law to great! we see
The small bud captivates the greatest tree.
Here even the power divine we imitate,
And seem not to beget but to create.
Much was I pleas'd with fowls and beasts, the
For food and profit, and the wild for game.
Excuse me when this pleasant string I touch,
(For age of what delights it, speaks too much.)
Who twice victorious Pyrrhus conquered,
The Sabines and the Samnites captive led,
Great Curius, his remaining days did spend,
And in this happy life his triumphs end.
My farm stands near, and when I there retire,
His and that age's temper I admire :
The Samnite chiefs, as by his fire he sate,
With a vast sum of gold on him did wait;
"Return," said he, "your gold I nothing weigh,
When those, who can command it, me obey :"
This my assertion proves, he may be old,
And yet not sordid, who refuses gold.
In summer to sit still, or walk, I love,
Near a cool fountain, or a shady grove.
What can in winter render more delight,
Than the high Sun at noon, and fire at night?
While our old friends and neighbours feast and
And with their harmless mirth turn night to day,
Unpurchas'd plenty our full tables loads,
And part of what they lent, return t' our gods.
That honour and authority which dwells
With age, all pleasures of our youth excels.
Observe, that I that age have only prais'd
Whose pillars were on youth's foundations rais'd,
And that (for which I great applause receiv'd)
As a true maxim hath been since believ'd.
That mest unhappy age great pity needs,
Which to defend itself new matter pleads;
Not from grey hairs authority doth flow,
Nor from bald heads, nor from a wrinkled brow,
But our past life, when virtuously spent,
Must to our age those happy fruits present.
Those things to age most honourable are,
Which easy, common, and but light appear,
Salutes, consulting, compliment, resort,
Crowding attendance to, and from the court: