Page images
PDF
EPUB

like web; and every cell in the honeycomb is formed with the like angles.

Whatever is taught by art is uncertain and unequal : but what Nature teacheth is always uniform; and nothing hath she taught more certainly than self-defence, and skill in felf-preservation. Animals begin to live and to learn at the same time; nor is it any wonder that, that instruction should be born with them, without which they would have been born in vain. Nature hath given them this knowledge, as the first means of preserving in them a constant agreement with, and love of their own condition. They could not possibly be safe, unless they had an inclination so to be: nor would this alone have been of service to them, but without this nothing else could.

Lastly therefore let me observe that you will find in none of them a contempt, nor even a disregard, of self. For even such as are dumb, and brutes indeed, though in other things they are quite stupid, are cunning enough to get their living: and you will see even those, which are altogether useless and unprofitable to others, are yet never wanting to themselves.

ANNOTATIONS, &c. (a) Archidemus, an eminent leader among the Stoics. Cicero likewise mentions him with Antia pater. Vid. Lipf. Manud. I. 12. (6) Nos plerumque id votis expetimus, quod non impetrasse melius foret, &c. Val. Max. vii. 2.

Quid enim ratione timemus,
Aut cupimus? Quid tam dextro pede concipis, ut te
Conatûs non pæniteat, votique peracti?
Evertêre domos totas optantibus ipfis
Dii faciles.-Juv. x. 6.
How void of reason are our hopes and fears !
What in the conduet of our life appears
So well dispos'd, fo luckily begun,
But when we have our wish, we wis undone ?
Whole houses of their whole de fires poffeft,
Are often ruin'd at their own requeft. Dryden.

(c) Toy

(r) Tiv datining opiek, 9.15, izzetu Tè tiptív éaviivLaert.--Placet iis quorum ratio mihi probatur, fimul atque natum fit animal, ipsum fibi conciliari et commendari ad te conservandum et ad fuum ftatum, et ad ea quæ funt conservanti: ejus ftatus diligenda.-alienari autem ab interitu, iifque rebus que interitum videantur alorre. Cic. de Fin. 3. 5. The philosophers, whose lstem I approve of, are of opinion, that as soon as any creature is born, (for here we must cmmence our difputation) it has an afection for itjelf; it evidzavrırs its own preservation and well-being ; and is impelled to the love of every thing that can contribute i hereto. At the same time it abhors disolution, and whatever may seem to threaten the jame.

(d) We should know very little indeed, faith Galen, did we know no more than what we could give a juji definition of.

(c) There was a strange diversity of opinions among the antient philosophers about the nature of the human soul. The most eminent of them however, from the time of Pythagoras, maintained, that it is a portion of the divine efence. See Leland ii. 1. 280.

(f) Self, is that conscious thinking thing, (whatever substance made up of, whether spiritual or material, simple or compounded it matters not) which is sensible, or conscious of pleasure and pain, capable of happiness or misery, and so is concerned for itself as far as that consciousness extends. Locke, p. 292. (8)

See what bright strokes of architecture shine
Through the whole frame, what beauty, what design!
Each odorif'rous cell, and waxen tow'r,
The yellow pillage of the rifled flow'r,
Has twice three sides, the only figure fit
To which the lab’rers may their stores commit
Without the loss of matter, or of room,

In all the wondrous structure of the comb." Anon. (b) I cannot here but pay my respects to the memory of Dr. Littleton, my late most worthy friend, whose elegant poem on a spider, is in the hands of every one.

Insidious, reflefs, watchful, Spider, &c,

EPISTLE CXXII.

On Extravagance, and irregular Living.

The days, Lucilius, are now upon the decline: they are grown indeed somewhat shorter, yet are still long enough to give a man sufficient time for business; if he would rise, as I may say, with the day itself; but to some other purpose, than merely to give the usual falutation. But it is scandalous to lie dozing when the sun is risen, and not to be

thoroughly thoroughly awake 'till noon: and yet this is what some call rising early. For there are those who invert the order of night and day, and who never open their eyes, still heavy with yesternight's debauch, 'till night returns again. They seem to be in the state of those, whom Nature, as Virgil faith, hath placed opposite to us, with their feet to our feet.

Nosque ubi primus equis oriens effulfit anhelis,
Illic sera rubens accendit lumina vesper. G. i. 250.
Or when Aurora leaves our northern Sphere,
She lights the downward beav'n, and rises there ;
And when on us she breathes the living light,

Red Vesper kindles there the tapers of the night. Dryden. It is not that their region or country is opposite and contrary to that of other men, but their life. There are oftentimes antipodes in the same city; who, as Marcus Cato (a) observes, never saw the sun, either rifing or setting.

Think

you

that those men know how to live, who know not when they live? And yet they fear death, though they bury themselves alive, and are as ominous, if you chance to meet them, as the night-raven. Although they spend their darkness in wine and perfume; although they spin out the whole time of their intemperate vigils in banqueting, and variety of luxurious dishes; they feast not, but are solemnizing their own funerals (6). The obsequies of the dead indeed are wont to be celebrated in the day-time, and are foon over: but no day is long enough for him that liveth, and worketh as he ought. We must stretch out the narrow span of life; the duty and sign whereof confift in action. We must even contract the night, and transfer part

part of it to the day. Birds that are cooped up for a feast, that by sitting still they may grow fat, are generally kept in the dark : fo of those men, who lie all day long without any exercise, a swelling is apt to invade the fluggith body; a lazy fatness feizeth all their limbs; and having dedicated themselves to darkness, they grow filthy and ill-favoured. Their fodden countenance looks as suspicious as of those who labour under foine disease; they are of an afhy colour, languid and faint; and tho’ Aill active, their fleth seems already corrupted. This however, I may · 3

fay,

say, is but the least of evils that attends such irregularities, fince a far greater darkness involves the mind; it is quite stupid; it is fo it envies the blind. Who but such men as these could ever think that the eyes were given us to be used in darkness!

very dark,

Do

you ask whence proceeds this depravity of mind, that loathis the day, and is for turning the whole of life into night? Know that all vices are repugnant and contrary to Nature: they all desert the order and fitness of things. It is the very design of luxury to rejoice in perverseness; and not only to depart from what is right, but to fly from it as far as possible. Do they not seem to live contrary to Nature, who drink fasting (c), who pour down wine into their empty veins, and go drunk to dinner? yet such is the common excess of youth, who affect in this way to try their strength. Upon the very threshold of the bath they strip and drink; nay, they quaff down bumpers, and every now and then wipe off the sweat occasioned by their frequent and hot draughts. To drink only after meals is too vulgar a thing for men of taste; let your country-folk, and men who know not true pleasure, follow ruses ; our gallants delight not in that wine which swims harmless upon

their food, and has a free and easy access to the nerves : no drunkenness is so agreeable, as that which is got upon an empty stomach.

Do they not seem to live contrary to Nature, who change habits with women, and study to preserve a young bloom on a wrinkled forehead? What can be more horrid, or more wretched ? They would fain never be man, that they may not leave off their boyish tricks: and when their sex ought to rescue them from contumely and disgrace, not age itself can discharge them.

Live they not contrary to Nature who covet a rose in winter ? and who by the nourishment of warm water and a proper heat of air, force the lily and other spring flowers, to bloom in the depth of winter?

Live they not contrary to Nature, who plant orchards on their turrets, (d), so that trees may wave over the tops of their houses; and strike VOL. II.

their

Zz

their roots in those places, which it would have been presumption to pretend to reach with their highest boughs?

Live they not contrary to Nature, who lay the foundation of their baths in the sea; nor think they can swim delicately unless the warm water likewise be ruffled with biliows?

Is it day

Thus having resolved to will nothing but what is contrary to the custom of Nature, they at last entirely revolt from her. light? It is time then to go to sleep (e). Is it night? Let us now “ take our usual exercise: let us get into our chariots, pay our visits, «s and so to dinner. But lo! the morning approaches ; it is now sup“ per-time. It is not for us to act as the common people do. It is

mean to live in the ordinary and vulgar way. Let the poor wretches “ enjoy the whole day to themselves; so we have but an early hour in “ the morning to go to bed.”

For my part I cannot but rank such extravagant fops among the dead. For how like a funeral is it, and a sorrowful one too, to live thus by the light of torches and flambeaux ? I remember not long ago, there were many who lived such a sort of life, among whom was Atticus Buta, a Prætorian, who after he had spent a large estate, and was complaining of his poverty to Tiberius, received this answer, you are too late awakened. Montanus Julius (f), a tolerable poet, but well known, by having been a favourite, though afterwards in disgrace, with Tiberius, was one day reciting his poetry; and as he was fond of using the words ortus and occafus, (east and west, or morning and evening) when a friend of his complained that he had detained him a whole day, and that it was very unreasonable to expect a man should attend so long to hear his compositions; one Natta Pinarius (8) said pleasantly enough, For my part, I think a man cannot use him more courteoufly than I do; for I am willing to bear him, ab ortu ad occasum (alluding to the words only.) But when he was reciting these verses,

Incipit ardentes Phæbus producere flammas,
Spergere se rubicunda dies, jam triftis hirundo

Argutis

« PreviousContinue »