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62.

Cicero's ideal old man is a great Roman noble, of high birth and rank, eminent as a soldier, a warrior and a statesman, rich and prosperous, of stern command of himself and others, and at the age of eighty-four in full vigor both of mind and body. Nor is it easy to conceive that Cicero could have found an actual embodiment of his ideal of old age in his own times except in such a man as Cato the Censor of history. Yet who among us would see in the old age of Cato the highest realization of his own dream of the old age which he desires for himself? Who if he think at all on these things does not feel that a happier, more peaceful and more pleasant old age is the lot of the humble many, if they will accept it, than is possible for the few great men of the earth ?

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Let us see what Shakespeare has to tell us of old age; for to Shakespeare all Englishmen turn as to the man who has seen every form of man's life in its idea and has given to every such idea a local habitation and

And when we have gone through all Shakespeare's gallery, our choice of the best picture of serene and happy old age must lie between Prospero and Adam and will be decided not as Cicero and Cato must have decided it, by asking whether the happiness, of a serving-man can be equal to that of a prince, but by estimating the comparative self-sacrifice of each as the proof of which had the happier lot. Shakespeare was not“ of an age but for all time," and we might therefore claim to have proved by his witness that the thoughts of men on old age are in one sense the same as they were nineteen hundred years ago, yet that in other senses their circle has widened and their centre shifted.

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If it be true, as a poet says, that the thoughts and feelings of childhood tell us that "our birth is but a sleep," it is even more true that the experiences of old age tell us that death is but a sleep also. If in our earlier days the joys of earth taught us to forget “ the imperial palace whence we came,” memories of that palace come back upon us as old age

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those earthly joys one by one. As the bodily frame tends perceptibly to decay, the human spirit finds in itself a growing conviction that it is not sharing in that decay, but ever rising more and more above it. As the stone walls and iron bars of time and space close ever more narrowly upon us, the spirit becomes more and more conscious that these make no prison for it, but that it is getting ready for a freer action than was ever possible in any condition of its former life.

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65. THE CLIMATE OF ROME

There can be little doubt that the climate of Rome has greatly changed since its ancient imperial days. Snow now very rarely falls at all and never in such quantities as to be visible for more than an hour or two. But Pliny speaks of the long snows as being useful to the corn, and Virgil, Livy and Horace mention the freezing of the rivers, an event now unheard of. Pliny also says that the bay would rarely live without shelter through the winter,, either at Rome or at his villa at Laurentum. Nor, if we may trust Fenestella, was the olive cultivated until the time of Tarquin. This seems surprising and almost incredible when we think that now the olive and the bay are everywhere seen, and that so far from their not being able to resist the climate, even roses bloom in the open air all the year round in Rome.

W. W. Story

66. MAY IN ROME

The month of May is the culmination of the spring and the season of seasons in Rome. No wonder that foreigners who have come when winter sets in and take wing before April shows her sky, sometimes growl at the weather and ask if this is the beautiful Italian clime. They have simply selected the rainy season

. for their visit; and one cannot expect to have the sun the whole year through without intermission. But just when foreigners go away in crowds the weather is settling into the perfection of spring, and then it is that Rome is most charming. The rains are over, the sun is a daily blessing, all Nature is bursting into leaf and flower, and one may spend days on the Campagna without fear of colds and fever. Stay in Rome during May, if you wish to feel its beauty.

W. W. Story

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