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and would believe as soon as another man, cum dignitate otium*. This were excellent advice to Joshua, who could bid the Sun stay too. But there is no fooling with life, when it is once turned beyond forty. The seeking for a fortune then, is but a desperate after-game; it is a hundred to one, if a man fling two sixes, and recover all, especially if his hand be no luckier than mine.
There is some help for all the defects of fortune; for if a man cannot attain to the length of his wishes, he may have his remedy by cutting them shorter. Epicurus writes a letter to Idomeneus (who was then a very powerful, wealthy, and it seems bountiful person) to recommend to him, who had made so many men rich, one Pythocles, a friend of his, whom he desired might be made a rich man too ; “I intreat you,” he continues, " that you would not do it just the
same way as you have done to many less de“serving persons, but in the most gentlemanly
manner of obliging him, which is not to add “ any thing to his estate, but to take something “ from his desires."
The sum of this is, that for the uncertain hopes of some conveniencies, we ought not to defer the execution of a work that is necessary; especially when the use of those things, which we would stay for, may otherwise be supplied; but the loss of time never recovered: nay, further yet, though we were sure to obtain all that we had a mind to, though we were sure of getting never so much by continuing the game; yet, when the light of life is so near going out, and ought to be so precious, “ le jeu ne vaut pas la chandelle."
* Ease with dignity.
After having been long lost in a tempest, if our masts be standing, and we have still sails and tackling enough to carry us to our port, it is no matter if we want the streamers and top-gallants.
Utere velis, totos pande sinus.
A gentleman in our late civil wars, whep bis quarters were beaten up by the enemy, was taken prisoner, and lost his life afterwards, only by staying to put on a band and adjust his perriwig: he would escape like a person of quality or not at all, and died the noble martyr of ceremony and gentility. I think your counsel of “ Festina lente,” is as ill to a man who is flying from the world, as it would have been to that unfortunate well-bred gentleman, who was so cautious as not to fly indecently from his enemies; and therefore I prefer Horace's advice to yours,
-Sapere aude Incipe Begin; the getting out of doors is the greatest part of the journey; according to the Latin proverb preserved by Varro, “portam itineri longissimam esse.” But to return to Horace;
Sapere aude, Incipe, vivendi qui recte prorogat horam Rusticus expectat dum labitur amnis, at ille Labitur et labetur in omne volubilis ævum.
Ep. ii. 40. Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise ; He who defers this work from day to day, Does on a river's bank expecting stay ; Till the whole stream, which stopt him, should be gone, That runs, and as it runs, for ever will run on.”
Cæsar, the man of expedition above all others, was so free from this folly, that whensoever in a journey he was to cross any river,
he never went one foot out of his way for a bridge, or a ford, or a ferry; but threw himself into it immediately, and swam over; and this is the course we ought to imitate, if we meet with any stops in our way to happiness. Stay till the waters are low; stay till some boats come to transportyou ; stay till a bridge be built for you ; you had even as good stay till the river be quite past.
Persius has an odd expression of these procrastinators, which methinks is full of fancy.
Jam cras hesternum consumpsimus, ecce aliud eras
Sat. V. 68.
And now, I think, I am even with you for your “ Otium cum dignitate," and “ Festina “ lente,” and three or four more of your new Latin sentences : if I should draw upon all my forces out of Seneca and Plutarch upon this subject, I should overwhelm you, but I leave those as Triarii* for your next charge. I shall only give you now a light skirmish out of an epigrammatist, your special good friend.
MARTIALIS, LIB. 5. Ep. 10. “ Cras te victurum, cras dicis, Postume, semper;
“ Dic mihi cras istud, Postume, quando venit?
* That is, the last and chief defence. The allusion is to the order of the Roman armies, in which the Triarii, as they were called, served in the rear, and being their best and most tried soldiers, were reserved to sustain the action, when the other ranks were defeated or hard pressed, and the success became doubtful. This explanation may not be unacceptable to some readers.--Hurd.
Quam longè cras istud? ubi est? aut unde petendum: “ Numquid apud Parthos, Armeniòsque latet? Jam cras istud habet Priami vel Nestoris annos.
“ Cras istud quanti, dic mihi, possit emi? “ Cras vives : hodie jam vivere, Postume, serum est.
“Ille sapit, quisquis, Postume, vixit heri.” To morrow you will live, you always cry: In what far country does this morrow lye, That 'tis so mighty long ere it arrive? Beyond the Indies does this morrow live: 'Tis so far fetch'd this morrow, that I fear 'Twill be both very old and very dear. To morrow I will live, the fool does say ; To day itsell's tou late ; the wise liv'd yesterday.
MARTIAL, LIB. 2. Epig. 16. “Quinctiliane, vagæ moderator summe juventæ,
“ Gloria Romanz, Quinctiliane, togæ ; “ Vivere quòd propero pauper, nec inutilis annis,
“ Da veniam ; properat vivere nemo satis. “ Differat hoc, patrios optat qui vincere census,
“ Atriàque immodicis arctat imaginibus. “ Me focus, et nigros non indignantia sumos
“ Tecta juvant, et fons vivus, et herba rudis.
“ Sit nox cum somno ; sit sine lite dies.”