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PAGE 2

Upon Some Verses Of Virgil
by [?]

“A natura discedimus; populo nos damus,
nullius rei bono auctori.”

[“We depart from nature and give ourselves to the people, who
understand nothing.”–Seneca, Ep., 99.]

My philosophy is in action, in natural and present practice, very little in fancy: what if I should take pleasure in playing at cob-nut or to whip a top!

“Non ponebat enim rumores ante salutem.”

[“He did not sacrifice his health even to rumours.”
Ennius, apud Cicero, De Offic., i. 24]

Pleasure is a quality of very little ambition; it thinks itself rich enough of itself without any addition of repute; and is best pleased where most retired. A young man should be whipped who pretends to a taste in wine and sauces; there was nothing which, at that age, I less valued or knew: now I begin to learn; I am very much ashamed on’t; but what should I do? I am more ashamed and vexed at the occasions that put me upon’t. ‘Tis for us to dote and trifle away the time, and for young men to stand upon their reputation and nice punctilios; they are going towards the world and the world’s opinion; we are retiring from it:

“Sibi arma, sibi equos, sibi hastas, sibi clavam, sibi pilam,
sibi natationes, et cursus habeant: nobis senibus, ex lusionibus
multis, talos relinquant et tesseras;”

[“Let them reserve to themselves arms, horses, spears,
clubs, tennis, swimming, and races; and of all the sports
leave to us old men cards and dice.”
–Cicero, De Senec., c. 16.]

the laws themselves send us home. I can do no less in favour of this wretched condition into which my age has thrown me than furnish it with toys to play withal, as they do children; and, in truth, we become such. Both wisdom and folly will have enough to do to support and relieve me by alternate services in this calamity of age:

“Misce stultitiam consiliis brevem.”

[“Mingle with counsels a brief interval of folly.”
–Horace, Od., iv. 12, 27.]

I accordingly avoid the lightest punctures; and those that formerly would not have rippled the skin, now pierce me through and through: my habit of body is now so naturally declining to ill:

“In fragili corpore odiosa omnis offensio est;”

[“In a fragile body every shock is obnoxious.”
–Cicero, De Senec., c. 18.]

“Mensque pati durum sustinet aegra nihil.”

[“And the infirm mind can bear no difficult exertion.”
–Ovid, De Ponto., i. 5, 18.]

I have ever been very susceptibly tender as to offences: I am much more tender now, and open throughout.

“Et minimae vires frangere quassa valent.”

[“And little force suffices to break what was cracked before.”
–Ovid, De Tris., iii. 11, 22.]

My judgment restrains me from kicking against and murmuring at the inconveniences that nature orders me to endure, but it does not take away my feeling them: I, who have no other thing in my aim but to live and be merry, would run from one end of the world to the other to seek out one good year of pleasant and jocund tranquillity. A melancholic and dull tranquillity may be enough for me, but it benumbs and stupefies me; I am not contented with it. If there be any person, any knot of good company in country or city, in France or elsewhere, resident or in motion, who can like my humour, and whose humours I can like, let them but whistle and I will run and furnish them with essays in flesh and bone:

Seeing it is the privilege of the mind to rescue itself from old age, I advise mine to it with all the power I have; let it meanwhile continue green, and flourish if it can, like mistletoe upon a dead tree. But I fear ’tis a traitor; it has contracted so strict a fraternity with the body that it leaves me at every turn, to follow that in its need. I wheedle and deal with it apart in vain; I try in vain to wean it from this correspondence, to no effect; quote to it Seneca and Catullus, and ladies and royal masques; if its companion have the stone, it seems to have it too; even the faculties that are most peculiarly and properly its own cannot then perform their functions, but manifestly appear stupefied and asleep; there is no sprightliness in its productions, if there be not at the same time an equal proportion in the body too.