M.T. Cicero's Cato Major, or his Discourse of old-age: with explanatory notes.
Cicero, Marcus Tullius., Logan, James, 1674-1751, tr.
Page  [unnumbered]



SAY, Titus, if some sovereign Balm I find
To sooth your Cares, and calm your ruffled Mind,
Shan't I deserve a Fee?

Page  2For I may address you, Atticus, in the same Lines, in which the * Poet,

In Heart as great, as in his Fortunes poor,Page  3 applied to *Flaminius: Tho' I am fully assured, you are far from being in his Con|dition, disturb'd with Thoughts,

Page  4That Wrung his Soul the live-long Nights and Days.

For I well know the Evenness and just Composure of yours, and that you took not only your Name from Athens, but also brought home with you those nobler Page  5 Improvements, the most consummate Pru|dence and Humanity. And yet, to be free with you, I cannot but think you are sometimes touched with the same Pains at Heart, that, I assure you, deeply affect me. * But these are Matters of a more Page  6 important Weight, that require Arguments from a deeper Fund to support us under them; which may hereafter be applied to them. The Subject I have now chose to write on, is OLD AGE; which, as it is advancing on us both, and in a little Time must unavoidably seize us, I would look out, and endeavour to find the best and surest Means, to make the Burthen of it sit as easy on us as possible. Tho' for your Part, I am well assured, that as you Page  7 bear all Accidents and Events with the greatest Firmness and Moderation; so you will equally dispense with all the Inconve|niencies that can attend this State. But as I resolved to write on the Subject, you (Atticus) of all Men appeared to me the most worthy and proper to direct it to; for being made yours, we may in common apply it to our Use together. * And as to my own Part in it, I must own, the Thoughts that flowed on me from the Subject, in composing it, proved so enter|taining Page  8 and delightful to me, while about it, that they have not only divested the Prospect of Old Age, now before us, of every thing shocking or frightful, but they have rendred my Expectations of it even agreeable and comfortable. Which leads me to say, We can never sufficiently admire the Excellency of Philosophy; to whose Dictates whoever submits, he will never find himself at a Loss in any Stage or Condition of Life, to render it not only supportable, but easy. But on other Phi|losophical Subjects I have already wrote several Tracts, and shall still continue to write. This on Old Age (as I have said) comes to you. I choose for my Speaker Page  9 in it (not *Tithonus, as Aristo of Chio laid his; for a fabulous Person would take off from the Weight of it; but) Old *Marcus Cato; that the Respect paid to Page  10 his Name and Character, may give the greater Force and Authority to what is said. At his House I suppose *ScipioPage  11 and Laelius to be met, expressing their Wonder to the Old-Man, how with such Ease and Chearfulness he could support Page  12 the Weight of his Years; to which he fully answers them. And if his Language appear somewhat refined here, above what Page  13 we meet with in his own Writings, I desire it may be attributed to his learning Greek, and reading their Authors; on which, 'tis well known, he spent much Time and Page  14 Pains in his latter Days. In this Discourse however, you have my own Sentiments on the Subject, which I give you as follows; and thus they begin:

Page  15


SCIPIO. Laelius here with me, Cato, as we greatly admire your Wisdom and vast Compass of Knowledge in gene|ral, so we have been particularly wonder|ing to see how very easily and chearfully you bear your Age; for we can't perceive it gives you any Manner of Trouble; while we have observed others complaining of theirs, as if the Burthen were unsupport|able. CATO. Indeed, my Friends, you place your Wonder on a Matter far below deserving it, a Business in which there is little or no Difficulty at all; provided proper Measures be taken in it. For know this, that those who have no Aid or Support within themselves, to render their Lives easy, will find every State irksome: While such as are convinced, they must owe their Happiness to themselves, and Page  16 that if they cannot find it in their own Breasts, they will never meet with it from abroad; will never consider any thing as an Evil, that is but a necessary Effect of the established Order of Nature; which Old Age most undoubtedly is. 'Tis cer|tainly strange, that while all Men hope they may live to attain it, any should find Fault with it, when it comes their Share. Yet such is the Levity, Folly, and Per|verseness of Mankind, that we see there is nothing more common. But, oh! they say, it has crept on us too fast, and over|taken us sooner than we thought or ex|pected. In the first Place, pray who put them on thinking wrong? How can they say, Old Age creeps faster on Manhood, than Manhood succeeded Youth and Childhood? Or how would it sit lighter at the Age of Eight Hundred Years, if that Page  17 were the Term of it, than at Eighty? For the longer Duration of the preceeding Age, when once 'tis past, abates Nothing from the Effects of Old Age, when come; nor affords any Relief against the Follies and Weakness of such as sink under it. Where|fore, if you have, as you say, admired my Wisdom, (which I wish were equal to your Opinion of it, and that I truly me|rited the Name I bear) I know nothing it consists in more effectually than this, that I follow Nature, my most excellent Guide, as my God, and submit to his Power in all things; who if, thro' his Conduct, all the preceeding Parts of Life have been well performed, it is not probable, that he will suffer the last Act, as 'tis common with bad Poets, to wind up ill. But it was ab|solutely necessary, that some Term, some Period should be set; and that, as it is with the Fruits of Trees, and of the Earth, Seasons should be allowed for their Spring|ing, Growing, Ripening, and at last to drop. This wise Men will submit to, and chearfully bear: Nor could any thing else be meant by the Stories told of the Giants Warring against the Gods, than Men's Page  18 Rebelling against Nature and its Laws. LAELIUS. But, Cato, you would highly oblige us both (for I may venture to speak for Scipio as well as myself, since we both hope, or doubtless wish at least, to live to be old in our Turn) if you would be pleased to instruct us before-hand, how, and by what Methods, we may avoid the Inconveniencies that generally attend Old Age, so as to render it the more easy to us, when we reach it. CATO. With all my Heart, Laelius, in case you both desire it. SCIPIO. We both earnestly de|sire it, Cato, if not too troublesome; for as you are now well advanceed towards the End of a long Journey, which we probably are to travel after you, we would gladly know of you, how you find it, in the Stage you are arrived at.


CATO. Well, I shall do my best to sa|tisfy you. I have indeed been divers times in Company with other Old Men, my Equals, as you know the Proverb, Birds of a Feather will flock together; when they have been loud in their Com|plaints Page  19 of the Inconveniencies of Old Age; particularly *Caius Salinator and Spu|rius Albinus, Men of Consular Dignity; who used heavily to lament, that they had out-liv'd all the Enjoyments in Life, for which it was worth the living; and that they found themselves slighted and forsaken by those who had formerly followed them, and had treated them with the highest Re|spect. But to me such Men appear to lay their Charge intirely wrong; for if what they complained of, were owing only to their Years, the Case must be the same with me, and all others of the like Age: Yet I have known several who have lived to be very old, without complaining at all; for they appeared not only easy, but pleased at their being delivered from the Tyranny of their former youthful Passions; and far from finding themselves slighted, were still honoured and revered by those about them. But the true Ground of such Complaints lies wholly in the Manners of the Men: For such as take Care to be neither Page  20 peevish, humoursome, nor passionate in Old Age, will find it tolerable enough; but a perverse Temper, a fretful or an in|humane Disposition, will, where ever they prevail, render any State of Life whatsoever unhappy. LAELIUS. That is very true, Cato, but may not some alledge, it is your easy Circumstances in Life, with your Power and Dignity, that produce this happy Effect, and render your Old Age in particular so easy; but these, you know, are Articles that fall but to very few People's Share. CATO. I confess, Laelius, there may be something in what you say; but the Point lies not altogether there: For, as 'tis related of Themistocles, that a certain *Seriphian having on some Difference told him, that if he was great, it was owing to the Repu|tation of his Country, and not to himself: 'Tis true indeed, replied Themistocles; if I had been born in Seriphos, I should never have been great, nor would you, if you had been born an Athenian: So, much the same may be said of Old Age; for 'tis certain, that to one oppressed with Pover|ty, Page  21 however otherwise qualified, Old Age can never prove easy; nor to a weak im|prudent Person, however rich, can it be otherwise than troublesome. But the best Armour of Old Age, Scipio and Laelius, is a well spent Life preceeding it; a Life employed in the Pursuit of useful Know|ledge, in honourable Actions and the Practice of Virtue; in which he who labours to improve himself from his Youth, will in Age reap the happiest Fruits of them; not only because these never leave a Man, not even in the extreamest Olg Age; but because a Conscience bearing Witness that our Life was well spent, to|gether with the Remembrance of past good Actions, yields an unspeakable Comfort to the Soul.


WHEN I was a Youth, I took a strong Affection for *Quintus Maximus, who recovered Tarentum, tho' then well Page  22 advanced in Years, as if he had been my Equal: For, there was in that Great Man, a solid Gravity, tempered with an engaging Sweetness; which in his Old Age did not at all alter or abate. Yet he was not very old, tho' somewhat stricken, when I first applied myself to him; for he was * the first time Consul but the Year after I was born, and in his fourth Consulate I was in the Service, tho' very * young, at Capua;Page  23 the fifth Year after this I went Quaestor to Tarentum, then I was made AEdile, and * four Years after, Praetor, when Tudi|tanus and Cethegus were Consuls, and when Maximus, being then very old, * spoke for the *Cincian Law against Presents and Fees. He was also far in Years when, continuing in Arms as if he had been in his Bloom, he commanded the Army a|gainst Annibal, and by his Patience and declining to fight, broke that General's Measures, tho' then in his Heat of Youth Page  24 triumphing on his vast Successes. Which our Friend Ennius justly expresses in these Lines:

One Man our State retriev'd by wise Delays;
For be of Blame regardless as of Praise,
His Country's Safety only had in View:
Wherefore his Fame still more illustrious grew,
And to the vaulted Skies on soaring Pini|ons flew.

But how admirable was his Vigilance, his Skill and Contrivance in the Recovery of *Tarentum? Upon which I remember, Page  25Salinator, who, having lost the Town, had sled into the Castle, telling Fabius boast|ingly in my hearing, that if it had not been for him, he would not have gained Tarentum: 'Tis very true, replied Fabius, smiling, for if you had not lost it, I should not have recover'd it. Nor did he excell in Arms more than in Civil Affairs; for when Consul the second time, his Collegue Page  26Spurius Servilius refusing to concern him|self, he * resolutely opposed Caius Fla|minius, the Tribune of the People, in his Attempt to divide amongst the Commons the Lands taken from the Piceni and Gauls. And tho' he was himself * Augur, he freely declared, that the best Auspices were always to act for the Good of the State, and the worst to act against it. Many were the Excellencies I observed in that Great Man; but none with more Wonder than his Behaviour on the Death of his Son Marcus, a Person of very great Merit, who had also been Consul. I have by me the Funeral Oration he composed and de|livered Page  27 livered himself at his * Funeral Pile; which as often as I look on, I can scarce think even the greatest of the Philosophers worthy to be compared to him. Nor was he great in publick Life ony; for he ex|celled yet more in private, and within his own Walls: How noble were his Discourses there! How instructive his Precepts! What a vast Knowledge of Antiquity was he pos|sessed of! How skill'd in the Laws, and in Augury! For a Roman, he was very learn|ed; and he had treasured up in his Memo|ry, not only all the Wars of Rome, but those of other Nations. And I was on all Occa|sions no less fond of hearing him speak, than as I had been assured of what I then feared, and what has since accordingly proved too true; that when he was once taken from us, I should never find another Man to improve by.


BUT you may wonder, perhaps, that on this Occasion I should run so largely into the Praises of Fabius: 'Tis on this Page  28 View only, that from this Account of him, you may be convinced, that it would be almost impious to imagine, the Old Age of a Person, who thus acted and behaved to the last, can be esteemed unhappy. 'Tis true, that all Men can't be Scipio's or Fabius's, to have the Pleasure of reflecting on such great Actions in their past Life, as their taking of Towns, or their victories by Land or Sea, and their Triumphs for them. Nor is this at all necessary to Man's Happiness: For a calm contemplative Life, or a Life well and virtuously spent in the just Discharge of one's immediate Duty in any Station, will ever be attended with a Serenity of Mind in Old Age: Such a Life as we learn Plato led, who died at his Stu|dies in the Eighty-first Year of his Age: Such as that of Isocrates, who is said to have wrote his Oration, called the *Panathenaic, in his Ninety-fourth Year, Page  29 and to have lived Five Years after; whose Master, Gorgias of Leontium, lived One Hundred and Seven Years, and till his Death never left off his Studies. This Man being asked, how at such an Age he could think Life desirable, answered, Because he had no Reason to complain of Life, nor did he feel any real Inconveniency from Age: An Answer truly noble, and worthy of a great and learned Soul. It is the Page  30 Weak and Foolish only, who impute to Old Age what is purely owing to them|selves. Ennius, whom I just now quoted, was far from this; for in these Lines,

As the swist Racer, that has often run
Th' Olympic Course, and oft the Prize has won,
Rests quiet in Old-Age, when his fleet Labour's done;

He compares his own Old Age to that of a noble Race-Horse, which after his Victo|ries, was allowed to live at Ease. But you cannot but remember the Man himself; for now, under the late Consuls Titus Flami|nius and Marcus Attilius, it is but Nine|teen Years since his Death, which hap|pen'd in the Consulate of Marcius Philip|pus the second time, and Servilus Caeapio; the same Year that I, then Sixty-five Years of Age, with a firm clear Voice, and full Strength of * Sides, spoke for and carried Page  31 the *Voconian Law. Ennius, then at the Age Seventy Years (for so long he lived) bore those two heavy Loads, as most Men would account them, viz. Age and Poverty, in such a Manner, that he really appeared rather delighted, than to be at all uneasy under them.


BUT on considering the Subject we are upon, I find there are four Inconve|niencies charged on Old Age, which, they say, render it unhappy. One is, that it disables Men from Business; another, that it renders the Body infirm; the third, that it deprives us of the Pleasures of Life; and lastly, that it is the next Neighbour|hood to Death. Now let us examine the Weight of each of these particularly, and see how far the Complaint is just. 'Tis said, it disables from Business: But pray what kind of Business? Is it such as Youth is capable of? And because Men have not still the same bodily Strength they had in Page  32 Youth, are they therefore uncapable of what is properly the Business of Age? Did Fabius, think you, do nothing? Did your Father *Lucius Paulus, Scipio,Page  33 my dear deceased Son's Father-in-Law, do nothing? Did the *Fabricius's, the *Curius's, the *Coruncanius's, and such other Old Men, do nothing, Page  34 when by their Counsels and Authority they supported and steer'd the Common-wealth? *Appius Claudius was not only old, but had also the Misfortune to be blind; Page  35 yet he, when the Senate seemed inclin'd to make a Peace, and enter into an Alli|ance 〈◊〉Pyrrus, had Courage enough to express himself to the Sense which Ennius gives us in his Annals in Verse:

Page  36
What Frenzy now has your wild Minds possest?
You, who were*erst with sagest Coun|sels blest,
Your selves on sure Destruction thus to throw!

With the rest that follows; spoke with great Strength and Gravity; for you know the Poem: But the Speech itself that Appius then made in the Senate, is still extant in his own Words. And this Part he acted no less than seventeen Years after he was the last time Consul, which was ten Years after the first: And before he was Consul the first time, he had been Censor. Which shews, that in the Time of Pyrrus's War, he must have been very old; yet this Account of him we have from our Ancestors.—They talk idly therefore, who pretend that Age disables from Business. They might with as much Justice assert, that a Pilot on board a Ship does nothing, because he neither mounts the Shrowds, hawls the Ropes, nor works at the Pump; but without any bodily Labour, minds only the Steerage, and Page  37 directs the Helms-Man; which is of more Importance to the Ship's Preservation, than the Work of all the rest besides. For 'tis neither by bodily Strength, nor Swiftness, nor Agility, that momentous Affairs are carried on; but by Judgment, Counsel, and Authority: The Abilities for which are so far from failing in Old Age, that they truly increase with it. Unless you imagine that I, who, when I was in the several Stations of a Soldier, of Tribune, of Lieutenant General, and of Consul, personally active in the War, am now idle and do nothing, because I am no longer, as formerly, in the Field. But tho' not there, it will be allowed, I believe, that I am employed, at least, to full as good Purpose at home. I now direct in the Senate what our Armies are to do abroad, and lay down the Plan before-hand, how our dangerous Rival, Carthage, that I am sure has been long meditating further Mischief, is to be prevented in her Designs, and effectually humbled. For I shall ever think, while that Place stands, it will be contriving our Ruin; and that short of its total Destruction, Rome can never be Page  38 secure. And the Glory of accomplishing this, *Scipio, I hope the immortal Gods have reserved for you; that what your excellent Grandfather made so great and happy a Progress in, may by your Virtue and Conduct, as his worthy Successor, be compleated. This is now the thirty-third Year, since that Great Man was taken Page  39 from us; but his glorious Actions will perpetuate his Fame for ever. He died the Year before I was Censor, nine Years after my Consulate, under which at the ensuing Election he was chosen again, and made the second time Consul. But had his Life been protracted to a Hundred Years, can you suppose it could ever have Page  40 proved burthensome to him? He would not then indeed, as formerly, have given Proofs of his Abilities in youthful Exer|cises, as Racing, Leaping, Tilting or Fen|cing; but he would have done it abun|dantly by Strength of Reason, cool Judg|ment, and mature Counsel. And hence Page  41 it is, that because it has been constantly observed, that Old-Men principally excell in these, therefore our Ancestors gave the great Council of the State the Title of Senate, as consisting of a Body of Senes, or Old-Men, as the Word imports. The Lacedemonians also, for the same Reasons, give their supream Council no other Title than that of the Old-Men. And to shew the Justness of this, if you look into foreign Story, you will find, that the Downfall of the greatest States has been generally ow|ing to the giddy Administration of un|experienced Young Men; as on the con|trary, others have been supported, or the tottering have been recovered, by the Pru|dence and wise Counsels of the Aged. Thus in a Play of the Poet *Naevius, where one asks this Question,

But how hap|pen'd it, that in so small a Compass of Time you overset and lost so great a Government?
The Answer is,
A Parcel of young, raw and ignorant 〈◊〉Page  42 started up, who took upon them to act the Statesmen; and found Means to insinuate themselves with, and manage the People.
For 'tis a Truth but too well known, that Rashness attends Youth, as Prudence does Old Age.


BUT it is alledged, that Memory fails in Old Age. That it does so, I freely grant; but then it is principally, where it has not been properly exercised; or with those who naturally have no Strength of Brain: For such as have, will pretty well retain it. *Themistocles could call every Citizen of Athens by his Name; and do you think, when he became old, that if he met Aristides, he would salute him by the Name of Lysimachus? For my own Part, I not only know these who are now living, but I remember their Fathers and Page  43 Grandfathers: Nor when I read over the Inscriptions of the Tombs, do I find I am in Danger of losing mine. I never yet heard of an Old Man that forgot where he had hid his Treasure. The Oldest will re|member what engages their Thoughts and Care, as when they give or take Security, with such other Affairs as concern them. How do the Lawyers, the Pontiffs, the Augurs, and the Philosophers, who live to a great Age? What a vast Number of Particulars must all these comprehend in their Memories? Men will retain their Understanding and Abilities, while they continue their Application and Diligence. This we find true, not only in Men of great and publick Characters, but in those also, who have lived a quiet and unactive Life, and spent it only in Study. *So|pheclesPage  44 wrote Tragedies at a very great Age And when his Sons, apprehending that through his Application to that Business alone, he neglected all his other Affairs, and consequently they would be ruined; they cited him to the Court, that (as you know it is with us, when People by their ill Conduct ruin their Estate, it is taken from them, and committed to better Hands; so) the Judges of Athens should take the same Order with him, as become uncapable of Business: He is said to have read to the Judges a Part of his Tragedy, called Oedi|pus Coloneus, that he had then in Hand, and to have asked them, whether they thought that the Work of a Dotard: Upon which they acquitted him. Consider then, whe|ther Age can be truly said to destroy the Capacity or extinguish the Abilities of the Page  45 Mind. Was this Man, was *Hesiod, was *Simondes, or *Stesichorus, or those I mention'd before, *IsocratesPage  46 and *Gorgias, or *Homer? Or were those Princes of the Philosophers, *Py|thagoras,Page  47 or *Democritus, or *Plato, or *Socrates, or those who came after|wards Page  48*Zeno and *Cleanthes, or he, whom you yourselves have seen in Page  49Rome,*Diogenes the Stoic; I say, Were any of these disabled by Age, or did it oblige them to Silence? Did they not all, without sinking under it, continue Page  50 their Studies as in Youth, to the last of their Days, and to an extream Old Age? But to insist no longer on those diviner Studies, that may perhaps communicate Page  51 a Vigour to both Mind and Body, and to descend to low and common Life; I can name several old Countrymen of my particular Acquaintaintance in this SabinePage  52 Neighbourhood, who never on account of their Age, decline their Business; nor ever have any considerable Work carried on, either in Planting, Sowing, Reaping or Page  53 Storing, but they are themselves at the Head of it: Tho' you may say, this is not so much to be wondered at, in the Business of the Year, because (as 'Tis said) Page  54 no Man thinks himself so old, but that he may live one Year longer: But this alone is not the Case with these Men I speak of; they take not Pains only in such Work, Page  55 as they may expect themselves to reap the Fruits of; but they freely labour also in such as they are sure can produce none in their Time: They raise Nurseries, and plant Trees, for the Benefit only of an|other Generation, or, as our *Staticus expresses it in his Synephebi, "They plant to profit a succeeding Age." Nor, if you ask one of these Men, for whom it is he is thus labouring, will he be at any Loss to answer thus, I do it, he will say, for the Immortal Gods, who, as they bestow'd these Grounds on me, require at my Hands that I should transmit them improved to Posterity, who are to succeed me in the Possession of them.

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THAT Poet was much just in what he said of an Old Man provid|ing for his Successor, than in this other Saying of his:

Indeed were Age with no more Ills attended
Than this alone, this were alone sufficient;
That many Things by living long we see
We never wish'd to see—

And I say, as probably, many Things we wish'd, but earce could hope, to see. But are we exempt from this in Youth, more than in Old Age? Do not Men in all Ages see Things happen that displease them? I take the same Poet to be yet more in the wrong, where he says,

But this in Age I think the worst of all,
That old Folls find the World grows weary of them,
And they become a Burthen to their Friends.

On the contrary, I say, raher a Pleasure, if it is not their own Faults: For, as the wife and good are in Age delighted with the Company of young People of Sense and good Inclinations, and nothing makes Age it lighter on them, than the Regard and Page  57 Esteem of such; so all young People, who desire to recommend themselves to the World by a virtuous Life and solid Ac|complishments, must of course be pleased with the Opportunity of improving them|selves by the Advice and Informations of the most Experienced: And thus I judge it is, that I observe you to be no less pleased with my Conversation, than I truly am with yours. But you see that Old Age is so far from becoming languid and unactive, that it is always stirring, ever employing itself about something or other; generally indeed about such Things as the Person has been most conversant in, in the former Part of his Life. Nay some are so very averse to Idleness, that they rather choose to be learning something new, as *Solon we see glorying of himself in his Elegies, that daily learning something, he grew old:Page  58 As I also did, who, when I was well ad|vanced in Years, applied myself to learn Greek, and studied both the Language and their Literature with such Eagerness, as if my Thirst for them were never to be satisfied; for I longed to be satisfied; for I longed to be acquainted with their Affairs, and gain'd so much Knowledge in them, that from thence I have been able to cite the several Examples you have heard from me: Nay so strong a Bent I had that Way, that hearing So|crates in his Old Age had learned to play on the Fiddle (for Music with them was a reputable Exercise) I had almost got into the Humour of learning that too, but I declined it: However I took true Pains in their other Studies.

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I MUST further say, that I do not now so much as wish to have the Strength of Youth again (for this is another of the Charges against Old Age) more than I wish'd in Youth for the Strength of an Ox or Elephant. For it is our Business only to make the best Use we can of the Powers granted us by Nature, and whatever we take in Hand, to do it with all our Might. How silly then, and unworthy of a Man, was that of *Milo of Croton, who, Page  60 when weakned with Age, beholding the Athletae (or Wrestlers) at their Exercises, he look'd on his own Arms, and with this Expression, But these Arms are now dead that once— fell a crying: But the Trifler mistook; for not his Arms only, but rather himself was dead; since he Page  61 never had any thing valuable in him, but the Strength of his Back and Limbs; and if these were gone, the whole Man were gone with them. *Sextus AEmiliusPage  62 never made such Complaint, nor *Titus Coruncanius, who lived many Years before him, nor *Publius Crassus, more lately; whose Old Age was employed in framing and drawing up Laws for their Country, and who appeared rather to improve in Prudence and Knowledge to the last of their Days. I own indeed that the Orator is not in all Respects so capable in Old Age as he was in Youth: For in that Business, not only Skill and Abilities of the Mind are required, but also Strength of Body and of the Lungs. Yet those who had a good Voice in their Youth, will not wholly lose it in Age: For tho' it abates in Strength, it acquires a kind of Softness and Fluency, that render it agreeable. You see my Years, and yet I have not lost mine. But even when it becomes Page  63 low, and in some measure sails, the Gra|vity and Composure with which an Old Man sedately, yet eloquently, delivers him|self, not only draws Attention, but gains the Favour of the Audience; or, if he can't depend on his own Utterance, he may however put it into the Mouth of a Scipio or a Laelius, and do good Service with it. For, what can be more honou|rable, what more desireable in Life, than to see Old Men waited on by Numbers of the Young, making their Court to them for their Advice and Instruction? For none, certainly, will deny, that the Aged are the best qualified for instructing of Youth, and training them up in the Know|ledge, as well as animating them to the Discharge of every important Duty in Life; than which there can be nothing of greater Moment and Consequence, nor of greater Advantage to the Publick. And indeed I have often thought *Cneius Scipio and Publius Scipio, and your two Grand|fathers, *L. AEmilius and *P. A|fricanus, extreamly happy on this Account, Page  64 when I have seen them walk thus attended by the young Nobility of our City, who seem'd intirely to depend on them. And I must ever think, that all those who spend their Time in improving others in Know|ledge, and teaching the nobler Arts, when their natural Strength of Body fails them, are intituled to our highest Regard and Esteem; tho' it is undoubtedly true, that even this Decay is oftner owing to some unhappy Courses, and living too fast in Youth, than to the natural Effects of Old Age alone. For a libidinous and intem|porate Life in Youth, will unavoidably deliver over the Body languid and enervate to succeeding Old Age. Cyrus in his Dying-Speech, as given us by Xenophon, denies that he ever found himself weaker in his Old Age, or less capable of per|forming any Duty, than he had been in his younger Years. And when I was a Boy, I remember *Lucius Metellus,Page  65 who, having been created * Pontifex Maximus four Years after his second Con|sulate, continued his Presidence in that College twenty-two Years, appeared to the last as vigorous, as if he had not been sensible of any Decay. I need say nothing of myself; tho' you know it is a Privilege allowed old People to talk of themselves.


FOR do not you observe in Homer, how Nestor is on all Occasions glorying of his own former Exploits? For he lived, 'tis said, to three times the common Age of Man; that is, He lived to see three successive Generations: And yet he had Page  66 no Reason to apprehend his being thought tiresome on these Subjects; since (as Ho|mer says) his Discourse flow'd more sweet than Honey from his Tongue: And herein bodily Strength had no Share or Concern at all. Yet the Great * Commander of all the Greeks, never once wish'd, that Page  67 he had ten Men in the Camp of Ajax's Strength and Courage, but ten such as Nestor: For by the Assistance of such Counsellors, he doubted not but Troy would soon fall. But to return. I am now in my Eighty-fourth Year, and I wish indeed, I could boast the same of myself as Cyrus did. Yet this I can truly say, that tho' I have not the same Strength of Body as formerly, when I * first served in the Punic War, or when I was Quaestor Page  68 in it; or when Consul in Spain; or when Tribune to the Consul Glabrio, I fought at Thermopylae: Yet, as you see, Age has not yet wholly unstrung me. The Senate finds no Defect in such Abilities as are proper for that Place; these are not Page  69 wanting at the * Rostra; nor am I want|ing to my Friends or my Clients. For I never could approve of that old Proverb, tho' commended (I know) by some, which bids us be old betimes, if we would con|tintinue old long. On the contrary I would rather choose to be old for a less Time, or die sooner, than to make my|self old before I truly am. I therefore keep myself constantly employed; and no Man, I believe, ever yet found me quite Page  70 idle. But I have not the Strength of one of you; nor have you the Strength of *Pontius the Centurion; is he there|fore to be preferred to you? He who has but a moderate Share of Strength, and applies it properly to make the best Use of it, as far as it will go, I assure you will rarely have Occasion to complain for want of more. Milo is said to have entred the Olympic Field carrying an Ox on his Back: Now, if the Choice were given you, which would you prefer, Milo's Strength of Body, or Pythagoras's Abili|ties of Mind? In short, while you have Strength, use it; when it leaves you, no more repine for the want of it, than you did when Lads, that your Childhood was past; or at the Years of Manhood, that you were no longer Boys. The Stages of Page  71 Life are fixed; Nature is the same in all, and goes on in a plain and steady Course: Every Part of Life, like the Year, has its peculiar Season: As Children are by Na|ture weak, Youth is rash and bold; staid Manhood more solid and grave; and so Old-Age in its Maturity, has something natural to itself, that ought particularly to recommend it. I suppose, Scipio, you hear how your Grandfather's Host *Massi|nissa, now at the Age of Ninety Years, employs his Time; that it is indifferent Page  72 to him, whether he walks or rides; if he sets out on a Journey on Foot, he will not mount; or if he gets on Horse-back, he will not light; that no Rain nor Weather can oblige him, when abroad, to cover his Head; and that, being thin of Body, he is so active, as in his own Person to dis|charge all the several Duties of his Station, as a King and a General. You see there|fore, that constant Exercise with Tempe|rance, will still preserve a competent Share of our pristine Vigour.

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BUT allowing it, that Old People lose their Strength, I say again, they do not want it. The Laws, their Administra|tion, the Institutions and Discipline of our Ancestors, publick and private, are their proper Business; but from Employments that require Strength of Body in their Ex|ecution, we are exempted. It is therefore so far from being the Case with us, that more is expected from us than we are able to perform, that, to say the Truth, there is much less. But it will be alledged, Page  74 perhaps, that some People are so weakned with Age, that by it they are rendred un|capable of every kind of Business whatso|ever: To which I answer, That this is not so much the Fault of Age, as of Con|stitution, or the want of Health, which happens to all Ages. How weakly was Publ. Africanus's Son, he who adopted you, Scipio: He was all his Life so ex|ceedingly infirm, that he scarce ever knew what Health was: Tho' had he not been unfortunate in that particular, he might otherwise have proved another Glory to Page  75 our State; for he had not only all his Father's Greatness of Soul, but the further Advantage also of having that adorn'd with the politest Literature. What Won|der is it then, if some Old Men labour under Weakness, since the Youngest, we see, cannot escape it? We must prepare ourselves, my Friends, against Old Age; and as it is advancing, endeavour by our Diligence to mitigate and correct the na|tural Infirmities that attend it: We must use proper Preservatives, as we do against Diseases; great Care must, in the first Place, be taken of our Health; all bodily Exercise must be moderate, and especially our Diet; which ought to be of such a kind, and in such Proportion, as may re|fresh Page  76 and strengthen Nature, without op|pressing it. Nor must our Care be con|fined to our Bodies only; for the Mind requires much more, which without it will not only decay, but our Understand|ing will as certainly die away in Old Age, as a Lamp not duly supplied with Oil. The Body, we know, when overlaboured, becomes heavy, and, as it were, jaded; but 'tis Exercise alone that supports the Spirits, and keeps the Mind in Vigour. Hence it is, that you see Old Men disad|vantageously represented by Caecilius, and other Comic Poets on the Stage, when the Characters of weak and credulous, or dissolute Old Fellows, are exposed to Con|tempt and Ridicule: But these are the Vices only of such as, when grey with Years, abandon themselves to Idleness and Extravagance, and not of Old Age itself. For as Wantonness and loose Desires are more peculiar to Youth than to the Aged; and yet not to all Youth, but to such only as are by Nature viciously inclined, or have been loosely educated; So that silly Dotishness, that is imputed to Old Age, will be found only in Persons of weak and Page  77 abject Spirits. *Appius had four stout Sons, and five Daughters; yet tho' he was very old, and blind besides, he was able not only to govern that great Family, but also to manage his large Dependencies of Clients: He kept his Mind ever intent upon his Affairs, without flagging or bend|ing under his Age, and maintained not only an Authority, but a Command over his People: His Servants stood in Awe of him; his Children revered him, and they all loved him; and that whole Fa|mily constantly kept up to the sober and strict Discipline derived to them by Suc|cession from their Ancestors. Thus Old Age is ver honourable, where it takes Care to support its proper Rights, and gives them not weakly away, but asserts them to the last. For, as we commend such Youths, as shew something of the Solidity of Age; so we do the same by the Aged, who express the Liveliness of Youth: And whoever pursues this Method, tho' he may become old and decayed in Body, will never be so in Mind, nor be Page  78 found so in his Understanding. I am now on the seventh Book of my Origines,* wherein I am collecting all the Monu|ments of Antiquity of every kind. I am also making out those Orations, that I formerly delivered in pleading the several Causes I defended. I am further treating of the Civil Law, and of that of the Au|gurs and Pontiffs. I read much Greek, and, agreeable to the Pythagorean Precept, the better to exercise my Memory, I re|collect at Night what I have heard, said or done in the Day. These are the Me|thods I pursue to keep my Mind employed; and while with a constant and assiduous Application I continue these Exercises, I cannot say I am sensible of any Want of Strength. I am still able to serve my Friends; I come duly to the Senate, and there propose such Matters of Weight, as I Page  79 have long pondered and digested; and I support what I propose with Arguments, to which bodily Strength can contribute nothing. And if for want of a competent Share of that Strength, I should be rende|red uncapable of all this; yet I could please myself, even on my Couch, with running them over in my Thoughts. And whoever will pursue the same Methods, and practise thus, will scarce be sensible of the Advan|ces of Old-Age, but gradually sliding on, and insensibly decaying, without any sudden Changes, will at last drop like ripe Fruit, or go off like an expiring Light.


THE third Charge against Old-Age was, That it is (they say) insensible to Pleasure, and the Enjoyments arising from the Gratifications of the Senses. And a most blessed and heavenly Effect it truly is, if it eases of what in Youth was the Page  80 sorest and cruellest Plague of Life. Pray listen, my good Friends, to an old Dis|course of *Archytas the Tarentine, a great and excellent Man in his Time, which I learned when I was but young myself, at Tarentum, under Fabius Maxi|mus, at the Time he recovered that Place. "The greatest Curse, the heaviest Plague, said he, derived on Man from Nature, is bodily Pleasure, when the Passions are indulged, and strong inordinate Desires are raised and set in Motion for obtaining it. For this have Men betray'd their Country; for this have States and Governments been plunged in Ruin; for this have treacherous Correspondences been held with publick Enemies: In short, there is no Mischief so horrid, no Villany so execrable, that this will not prompt to perpetrate. And as Adultery, and all the Crimes of that Tribe, are the natural Effects of it; so of course are all the fatal Consequences that Page  81 ensue on them. 'Tis owned, that the most noble and excellent Gift of Heaven to Man, is his Reason: And 'tis as sure, that of all the Enemies Reason has to engage with, Pleasure is the most capital, and the most pernicious: For where its great Incentive, Lust, prevails, Temperance can have no Place; nor under the Dominion of Plea|sure, can Virtue possibly subsist. That this might appear more plain, he desired his Hearers to form to themselves the Idea of a Person in the highest Raptures, en|joying the most exquisite Pleasures that could be conceived; and then try whether they could so much as imagine, such a Person in that State of Enjoyment, capable of Reflection, or making any more Use of his Reason, than if he were intirely di|vested of it. He therefore insisted, that nothing was more detestable, nothing more Page  82 directly destructive to the Dignity of Man, than the Pursuit of bodily Pleasure, which it is impossible to indulge to a Height, and for a Continuance, without damping or extinguishing all the brighter Faculties of the Soul, and all the Powers and Light of the Understanding. This Discourse our Host Nearchus of Tarentum, who had continued firm in the Roman Interest after that City was betrayed to Annibal, said, Archytas had used to Caius Pontius the Samnite, the Father of Pontius* who Page  83 beat our Consuls Spurius Posthumius and Titus Veturius at Caudium; that their Old Men had handed down the Relation to them, and that Plato of Athens was present at the time; which is probable Page  84 enough; for I find Plato was at Tarentum the Year that *Lucius AEmilius and Appius Claudius were Consuls. Now this Discourse I repeat to you, that from hence you may learn, how much those, who can|not Page  85 as they ought in their Strength of Age resist the Allurements of Pleasure, are afterwards obliged to their Years, that cure them of their irregular Inclinations they had not before the Power to correct. For all Voluptuousness is undoubtedly an Enemy to Reason it obstructs wise Coun|sels, blinds the Understanding, and is in its own Nature inconsistent with true Virtue. It was with great Uneasiness to myself, that Page  86 when Censor, I returned *Lucius Flami|nius, Brother to that Great Man Titus Fla|minius, out of the Senate, seven Years after he had himself been Consul. But I could not bear, that such a scandalous Instance of his Dissoluteness should pass without public Censure. For while he as Consul commanded the Army in Gaul, to please a lewd Strumpet he carried with him, he caused one of the Prisoners who were under Sentence of Death, to be brought in before them, and there, to gratify her Page  87 in her barbarous Request, that she might see a Man put to Death, he struck off his Head on the Spot. His Brother Titus being then Censor, this was not in his Time taken Notice of; but when Flaccus and I succeeded him, we judged it incum|bent on us, in Discharge of our Trust, to exert the Authority of our Office, and brand with Ignominy an Action so detest|able, that it not involved the Actor himself in Infamy, but also cast a Re|proach on the whole State.


I HAVE often heard our Old Men, who said they had it from their Elders, relate, that Caius Fabricius, when he was sent Embassador to Pyrrus, to redeem the Page  88 Captives, was strangely surprized, when *Cineas the Orator, who attended Pyrrus, told him, there was in AthensPage  89 a great Professor of Wisdom, who laid it down as his Grand Principle, that all we do should be directed only to Pleasure; and that *M. Curius and *Titus Coruncanius hearing this from Fabricius, used to wish, that Pyrrus and the Sam|nitesPage  90 could be converted to that * Pro|fessor's Religion; for then it would cost Rome much less Trouble to master them. M. Curius was for some Time Contempo|rary with *Publius Decius, who five Years before Curius was the first time Consul, had in his own fourth Consulate devoted himself for the publick Safety. Page  91Fabricius and Coruncanius living in the same Age with him, must also have known him well. And all these, not only by their own Conduct, shewed their firm Perswa|sion, but they were further confirmed in it by that Action of Decius, That there is something truly great and excellent in its own Nature worthy to be contended for, Page  92 and which all good Men would, in Despite of all the Allurements of Pleasure, for its own sake pursue, and labour to obtain. Thus I judged it necessary to be the more full on this Head of Pleasure, and shew the Dangers of it, to the end you might clearly see, it is so far from being a Dis|advantage to Old-Age, its Palling our Page  93 Inclinations to Pleasure, that on the con|trary it is rather a great and valuable Blessing. For if it is in a good Measure dead to the Enjoyments others find in Banqueting, sumptuous Feasts and Carou|sings, it is freed at the same time from all the troublesome Effects of these; as Fumes, Crudities, uneasy Sleep, or the want of it; with divers other such like Disorders. Yet as Nature has so ordered it, that Pleasure should have a very strong Hold of us, and the Inclination to it appears deeply founded in our very Composition, (and 'tis with too much Justice that the divine Plato calls it Page  94 the Bait of Evil, by which Men are caught as Fish with a Hook;) therefore, though Age is not taken, nor can well bear, with those splendid sumptuous Feastings and Revels, yet we are not so insensible to the Pleasures of Life, but that we can indulge ourselves, and take a real Delight in sober and temperate Entertainments with our Friends. I remember, when I was a Boy, I often saw *Caius Duillius, Marcus'sPage  95 Son, who gained the first Victory over the Carthaginians at Sea, returning home from Supper with Torches and Music before him; a Practice that he thought fit (tho' with|out any Precedent for it) to continue in his private Station: So great was the Plea|sure he gave himself, tho' not without some Vanity, in keeping up the Memory of that great Action, But why should I quote others, and not rather return and speak of myself? In my Youth I had always a Set of select Companions; for those Societies or Clubs now in Practice, took their Be|ginning when I was Quaestor, at the Time the * Mother of the Gods was brought Page  96 to Rome. My Friends and I then had our Meetings and Collations duly; but these were always moderate, tho' it was at an Age when our Blood was warm, which inevitably cools as Years come on. Nor did I ever measure my Pleasure in those Entertainments by any sensual Gratifica|tions whatever, but solely by the Conver|sation or Discourses we held on various Subjects. For our Ancestors very wisely called those Meetings of Friends to eat and drink together, by the Name of Convivium, or Living-together; as if Society were the Design of them: A Term much more proper than that of the Greeks, whose Name for them imports nothing but Eat|ing and Drinking together; as if they preferred that Part of the Entertainment, which is truly in itself the least valuable.

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IN such regular Entertainments, when seasonable, I own, I have always, in View of what I have mention'd, taken a sensible Pleasure: Nor do I choose for my Com|panions only Persons about my own Age; for of these there are now very few left; but those also of yours. And I think my|self much obliged to my Age, that it has encreased my Inclination for Discourse and Conversation, and rendred the Business of Eating and Drinking a Matter still of more Indifferency to me. Yet where others take a Pleasure even in these, that Page  98 I may not be thought to declare War against all Gratifications of Sense, as Na|ture requires Refreshment, and Old-Age is not without its Relish; I think such Entertainments even for the sake of good Cheer, so far as this is comfortable to Nature, are very allowable, and may sometimes be indulged, when duly limit|ed within the Bounds of Moderation. But what now gives me the greatest Pleasure in these Cases, is to practise the Method instituted by our Ancestors, that is, That the Conversation should turn on Subjects proposed by the Master of the Feast, and that the Cups should be moderate and cooling, in a cool and shady Place in Summer, as in that of *Xenophon; or in the Sun, or, if colder, by a good Fire in Winter: The Method that I now practise amongst my Sabine Neighbours, whom I frequently meet on such Occa|sions, and spend a good Part of the Night with them. * But to return to the Charge. Page  99 It is alledged that Old Age is not sen|sible to that Titillation of Pleasure, that is found in the other Parts of Life; which is certainly true: But at the same time it has this great Advantage to ballance it, that it does not so much as wish to have it. Saphocles said well, who, when he was asked at a great Age, whether he had yet any Acquaintance with Venus, answered, Heavens forbid! I thank the Gods I am got rid of that Tyranny. Such as are ad|dicted to those Pleasures, will think it hard to be debarred of them; but others, who have gone through, and 〈◊〉 past them, find themselves happier in being deprived of the Inclination. Nor can any one be said to want, what he does not so much as wish for. And this State, I say, of not desiring, is preferable in itself even to that of enjoying. 'Tis true, that Men in their Prime have a greater Gust to all Pleasures; but then most of these are, in the first Page  100 Place, but mean in themselves; and in the next, if Old Men have not the same to such a Height, they either desire them not at all, or they have a competent Share of such as are fit for them. As those, perhaps, who sit in the Pit at the Theatre, have more of the Pleasure in seeing *Turpio Ambi|vius act, than such as sit at a greater Di|stance in the Galleries; yet these last, tho' they have less, are not wholly without theirs: So Youth, as it has a nearer Com|munication, and livelier Relish for Pleasure, may be more powerfully affected with it; yet those, whose Age has distanced them from the gayer Scenes of it, have their Share of Delight, and enjoy as much of it at least, as they crave or wish for. For how solid, how sincere, think you, must that Pleasure be to the Mind, when, after it has happily work'd thro' the ruffling Tides of those uneasy Passions, Lust, Ambition, Emulation, Contention, and every strong impetutous Desire, it finds Page  101 itself arrived at its Harbour, and like a Veteran discharged from the Fatigues of War, got home, and retired within itself into a State of Tranquility? But if it has the further Advantage of Literature and Science, and can by that Means feed on, or divert itself with some useful or amusing Study, no Condition can be imagined more happy than such calm Enjoyments, in the Leisure and Quiet of Old Age. How warm did we see *Gallus, your Father's intimate Friend, Scipio, in Pursuit of his Astronomical Studies to the last? Page  102 How often did the rising Sun surprize him, fix'd on a Calculation he began over Night? And how often the Evening, on what he had begun in the Morning? What a vast Pleasure did it give him, when he could foretell to us, when we should see the Sun or Moon in an Eclipse? And how many others have we known in their Old Age delighting themselves in other Studies? which, tho' of less Depth than those of Gallus, yet must be allowed to be in themselves ingenious and com|mendable? How pleased was *Naevius with his Poem of the Punic War? And how *Plautus with his TruculontusPage  103 and Pseudolus? I remember even Old *Livius, who had his first Dramatic Piece acted six Years before I was born, in the Consulship of Cento and Tuditanus, and continued his Compositions till I was grown up towards the State of Manhood. What need I mention *Livinius Cras|sus's Studies in the Pontificial and Civil Law? Or those of *Publius Scipio, now lately made Supream Pontiff? And all these I have seen, not only diverting themselves in Old Age, but eagerly pur|suing the several Studies they affected. With what unwearied Diligence did we behold *Marcus Cethegus, whom En|nius justly enough called the Soul of Per|swasion, Page  104 applying himself at a great Age to Oratory, and the Practice of Pleading? Upon all which let me ask you, what Gratifications of Sense, what voluptuous Enjoyments in Feasting, Wine, Women or Play, and the like, are to be compared with those noble Entertainments? Those pure and serene Pleasures of the Mind, the rational Fruits of Knowledge and Learning, that grafted on a good natural Disposition, cultivated by a liberal Education, and trained up in Prudence and Virtue, are so far from being pall'd in Old Age, that they rather continually improve, and grow on the Possessor. Excellent therefore was that Expression of Solon, which I mention'd before, when he said, That daily learning something, he grew old: For the Pleasures arising from such a Course, namely those of the Mind, must be allowed incom|parably to exceed all others.

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BUT I am now come to speak to the Pleasures of a Country-Life, with which I am infinitely delighted. To these Old Age never is an Obstruction. It is the Life of Nature, and appears to me the exactest Plan of that which a wise Man ought to lead. Here our whole Business is with the Earth, the common Parent of us all, which is never found refractory, never denies what is required of it, nor fails to return back what is commited to it with Advantage, sometimes indeed with less, but generally with a very large Inte|rest. Nor is it the View of this Increase only which yields Delight, but there arises yet a greater from a Contemplation of the Powers of the Earth, and Vegetation: For to me it is most affecting to behold, how, when the Soil is duly laboured and mellowed, and receives after harrowing the scattered Seed into its genial Bosom, warmed with due Heats and Vapours, it there cherishes it in its vital Embraces; and then opening, shoots it upwards, and rears it into a verdant Blade; which tak|ing fast Hold with its fibrous Roots below, Page  106 Springs up into a jointed Stalk, preparing new Seed again in its Cells, which gra|dually enlarges from the Ear, with the Grain exactly ranged in decent Rows; and is secured with Awns, to deend it from the Rapine of the little Birds, that would other|wise assail and make Prize of it. But why should I enter into Particulars, or observe upon the first Planting, Shooting and Growth of the delicious Vine? I should never have done, if I indulged myself in representing at large the Pleasure I take in these Solaces of my Old Age. Nor must I dwell on that plastic Power seen in all the Productions of the Earth, which from so small a Grain in the Fig, or the little Stone of a Grape, or from the minute seeds of others, raises up such bulky Trunks with their shady Heads and extended Branches. But who can consider the Variety in the Methods of Propagation, by Shoots, Sprouts, Loppings, Quicksets and Slips, without being seized at the same time with Admi|ration and Delight? The Vine, that na|turally runs low, and cannot rear itself without a Support, is for this end provided with Tendrils, by which, like so many Page  107 Hands, it lays hold on every thing it meets with, that may raise it; and by these Aids expands, and becomes so luxuriant, that to prevent its running out into useless Wood, the Dresser is obliged to prune off its superfluous wandring Branches: After which, from the standing Joints, in the ensuing Spring, the little Bud, called the Gem, pushes out the new Shoot, whereon the tender young Grape is formed; which gradually swelling by Nourishment from the Earth, is at first austere to the Taste, but, guarded with Leaves around, that it may neither want due Warmth, nor suffer by too scorching Rays, it ripens by the Sun's enlivening Beams, and acquires that delicious Sweetness and beautiful Form, that equally please both the Taste and Eye; and then enriches the World with that noble Liquor, the Advantages of which I need not name. Yet it is not the Sense of these, nor of all the Advantages of Husbandry, as I have said, that so nearly affects me, as the Pleasure I find in their Culture alone: Such as ranging the Vines, and their supporting Perches in exact and even Rows, in arching and binding their Page  108 Tops, lopping off the woody and barren, and training and encouraging the fruitful Branches, to supply every Vacancy; and then contemplating the Beauty and Order with the Process of Nature in the Whole. What need I mention the Pleasure of im|proving the more barren Grounds, and rendring them fruitful, by bringing down Water in refreshing Rills, on the over-dry; and as carefully carrying it off from the wet and sunken; or by digging, and re|peatedly trenching, to render them mellow? Or of the Advantages of Manure, of which I treated in my * Book of Husbandry, tho' the learned *Hesiod, amongst his Rules on that Subject, has not one Word of it. And yet *Homer, whom I take to have lived some Ages before him, makes Old Laertes diverting the Thoughts of Page  109 his Son Ulysse's Absence, by rustic Labours and * Dunging the Fields. But be|sides the Pleasures already mentioned, from Corn-Fields, Meads and Vines, there is yet a vast Fund for others, from Orchards, Cattle, Bees, and Gardens, with the end|less Varieties of beautiful Flowers, that yield an Entertainment ever new and ever delighting: For in Orchards there arises a Pleasure not only from the Ranges of fruit|bearing Trees, all answering to the View in just and exact Order; but above all, from their Improvement by Grafting; the finest Invention, in my Opinion, in Hus|bandry.


I Could with Pleasure further proceed in enumerating many other Recreations, Page  110 and delightful Entertainments the Country yields; but I am sensible I have dwelt rather too long on these already. You will however excuse me, I hope, and im|pute it in Part to the Pleasure the Agree|ableness of the Subject yields me; and in some Part also, if you please, to the Talka|tiveness of Old Age; a Fault that, I must acknowledge, even while I am defending it, most commonly attends it. But thus em|ployed *Manius Curius, after he had triumphed over the Samnites and Sabines and Pyrrhus, spent his Old Age here in my Neighbouring Farm; which as often as I view, I am seized with Wonder, but can never sufficiently admire, either the great Moderation of the Man, or the re|gular Discipline of his Time. Curius, as he sat one Evening by his Fire-Side, met with a tempting Encounter: The Samnites, for whom he was too hard in the Field, in Page  111 Hopes of softning him, sent him a large Present of Gold; but he with a brave Disdain rejecting it, sent back the Mes|sengers with this Answer only, That he wanted none of their Gold, but thought it much more glorious to command those who valued it, than to possess it himself. Now, could so great a Soul fail, think you, of making his Years easy to himself, and agreeable at any Age? But to return to a Country-Life, that I may not quit the Subject I am upon, I mean, my own Old-Age: In those Days the Senators, that is, the Senes, or Old-Men of the State, dwelt in the Country, and lived on their Farms, *L. Quinctius Cincin|natus was at his Plow, when he was called Page  112 to take upon him the supream Office of Dictator. This also was he, by whose Command his Master of the Horse, Servi|lias Hala, put Spurius Maelius to Death, for attempting at sovereign Power, and to make himself Absolute in the City. So Curius, and many others of those brave Old Men, were called from time to time off their Farms, to take upon them the highest Trusts and Charges in the State Page  113 or War: And from hence it is, that the Serjeants or Messengers that wait on the Senate, first had, and to this Day retain their Name of Viatores, or Way-Men. Now, can we imagine that those great Men found themselves distressed by Old Age, while they would thus in the Country give themselves up to all the Variety of delight|ful Employments, that the Business of it either furnishes or requires? As for me, I must own, I think it impossible that any other kind of Life whatever can exceed it. For besides that Mankind cannot possibly subsist without it, there is not only a vast Pleasure derived from viewing and consi|dering the Particulars I have mentioned, but it also fills the Heart with Joy to be|hold, how by proper Care and Manage|ment every thing is produced in Abun|dance, that can be subservient either to the Support and real Necessities of human Life, 〈◊〉 even to the Pleasures and Delec|tation of it, as well as what is required for the Service of the immortal Gods. Those therefore who make Pleasure their Aim, and think there is no other Good in Life, may here effectually find it. For Page  114 can there be a greater than to see our Labours crowned with full 〈◊〉, our Cellars with Wine, Oil, Honey, and all kind of Provisions? Our 〈◊〉 with Cheese; and Plenty of Pigs, Kid, Lambs and Fowl around us? Our Gardens also are, as the Country-People call it, a lasting Flitch, from whence they may constantly cut, and it as constantly supplies them. Here also at suitable Times are our Labours seasoned with the agreeable and innocent Diversions of Hunting and Fowling; to say nothing of the delightful Prospect of Meadows in their Verdure, and Groves of planted Trees; as well as those of Vines and Olives that have been mention'd already. But I shall wind up, with observing, That as there is nothing more profitable, so there is not in Nature, in my Opinion, any thing more beautiful or affecting, than to behold a Plantation, with all the Parts of it, in compleat and perfect Order. And this, as I have said, is a Pleasure, that Old-Age is so far from being uncapable of enjoying, that it is by a kind of Impulse of Nature solicited and drawn to it. For no where else can it meet with such suit|able Page  115 Entertainments. Here the cool Shades and refreshing Breezes, with purling Streams, invite a••cad to pass the Summer's sultry Heats; and here good rousing Fires fur|nish large Provision against the colder Blasts of Winter. To others therefore we can freely resign all other Diversions, in Arms and Horses, with their military Exercises, and all their Accoutrements, their Tennis, and every other Sport; only, if they please, they may leave us Checquers and Tables; or even these also we can give up; since Old Age can be very easy and very happy without any such trifling Amusements.


ALL the Writings of Xenophon are on many Accounts highly useful; and I would advise you diligently to read them; which I doubt not but you do of yourselves. How fully and excellently does he, in that Book called his Oeconomics, set out the Advantages of Husbandry and a Country|Life? And that you may see he thought no Employment so it for a King as this, Socrates there discoursing with Critobulus, tells him, that when Lysander of 〈◊〉,Page  116 a Person of great Merit, went to Cyrus the Younger, King of the Persians, at Sardis, with the Presents their Allies had collected; Cyrus entertaining him with great Courtesy and Civility, shewed him a Garden planted with extream Elegance; in which Lysander observing the beauti|ful Forms of the Trees in their Ranges, exactly disposed in the quincuncial Order; the Cleanness and Neatness of the Walks and Borders, and the delicious Fragrancy of the Flowers that breath'd all around their refreshing Odours; he was greatly taken with them all: But above all the rest, he said, he admired the Ingenuity of the Man, who had designed, and with so much Art and Skill disposed the Whole. This is all my own Doing, said Cyrus; the Design was mine, I mark'd and measured out the Walks and Rows, and many of the Trees I planted with my own Hands. Then Lysander observing also at the same time the Neatness of his Person, and viewing his Purple, with the Richness of his Attire, set off, after the Persian Manner, with much Gold and Jewels, said, They may justly call you happy, Cyrus, since you are Page  117 at the same time both good and great; your Virtue and your Fortune equally adorn each other. And this Happiness, I say again, is left for Old Men to enjoy; nor can Age or any Length of Years dis|able them, while they have Health and Strength to walk, from enjoying, to their last Period, those sweet Amusements and Diversions, that rural Scenes and the Em|ployments of a Country-Life afford. We find that *Marcus Corvinus lived to Page  118 a Hundred Years, and spent his last Days in Agriculture on his Farm. Between his first and last Consulate there were fourty|six Years; he therefore was engaged in public Employments and Trusts of Honour the full Term * that our Ancestors set for the Commencement of Old-Age. But in this, his latter Days were more happy Page  119 and glorious than his prceding Life, that he was more illustrious in himself, and clo|thed with a greater Authority 〈◊〉 from the Toil that commonly attends it: For Authority I esteem the Crown and Glory of Old-Age. How conspieuous did this appear in *L. Caecilius Metellus? And how in *Atilius Calatinus? on whom Page  120 many Nations agreed in conferring this great and noble Character, That He was the worthiest Man of his Country; as it is fully declared in that Copy of Verses now inscribed on his Tomb, which therefore are well known. Justly then might he be accounted honourable and great, in whose Praises the Voices of all Nations conspired. How deservedly great did the late Supream Pontiff, *Publius Crassus, as also his Successor in the same Dignity, *Marcus Lepidus, appear to us all? why should I again mention *Paulus, or *Africanus, or *Maximus? Who all bore so great an Authority with the People, that not Page  121 only their Opinions when declared, but even their Looks and Nods carried an Awe with them, and in a manner commanded Submission. Old-Age in a Person graced with Honours, is attended with such Re|spect and Authority, that the Sense of this alone is preferable to all the Pleasures Youth can enjoy.


YET in all I have said, I desire to be un|derstood to mean the Old-Age of such Persons only, as have in their Youth laid solid Foundations for Esteem in advancing Years; for on no other Terms ought we to expect it. And hence it was, that what I once said in a publick Speech, met with so general an Applause, when I observed, That miserable was that Man's Old-Age, who needed the Help of Oratory to defend him. Grey Hairs and Wrinkles avail no|thing to confer the Authority I am here Page  122 speaking of: It must be the Result of a Series of good Actions, and nothing but a Life honourably and virtuously led, thro' all the advancing Steps of it, can crown Old-Age with this blessed Harvest of its past Labours. Nor are those common Marks of Respect, tho' but of little Moment in themselves, to be altogether slighted; such as Morning-Salutations; to have the Way or Upper-hand given; to be waited on home or from home, and to be consulted; which, both with us and in all well-regu|lated States, in Proportion as they are more or less so, are most strictly observed and practised. Lysander of Sparta, whom I lately mentioned, was wont to say, That Lacedemon was of all Places the most ho|nourable Sanctuary for Old-Age: For no|where in the World is a greater Deference paid to Years, and in no Place Grey Hairs more reverenced and regarded. I find this also related, That a very old Man coming into the Theatre at Athens, to see the Play, and the Throng being so great, that he could find no Room nor Seat among his own Citizens, passing along to|wards that Part where the Embassadors Page  123 of Lacedemon, then present, were placed; they all immediately rose up to give him a Seat: The Athenians observing this, clapt, and much applauded the Action; upon which one of the Spartans passed this just Reflection, That the Athenians (he perceived) knew very well what was right, but they knew not how to do it. There are many good Institutions in our College of Augurs, and particularly in this I am now speaking of, that the oldest Man always leads, and all the Members deliver their Opinions according to their Rank in Years; the Ancientest always taking Place, not only of such as have been in higher Posts that themselves, but even of those, who at the time bear the supream Command, and are at the Head of Affairs in the State. Now, what Satisfaction, think you, can all the Pleasures of Sensa|tion taken together, yield, that will bear a Comparison with those the Mind must feel, from the Returns of reverencial Re|spect paid to the Authority of such an honourable Old Age? Which whoever enjoys and rightly applies, seems to me to have well and happily performed in acting Page  124 his Part in the Drama of Life, and at last like an approved Actor, he makes his last Part the best, and quits the Stage with an universal Plaudit. But it is said, People as they grow in Years, become more peevish, morose and passionate; and you may add covetous too: But, as I have said, these are the Faults of the Men, and not of Old Age. Yet something of a little Moroseness might probably, tho' not al|together justly, be excused; for they may sometimes be apt to think themselves slighted and play'd on; and further, a frail Body can bear but little, and there|fore will be the sooner offended. But all this may by proper Application be pre|vented or remedied: For by Reflection and a watchful Guard kept on the Mo|tions of the Heart, natural Temper may be sweetned, and our Conduct softned. Of this we see frequent Instances in Life, and on the Stage a remarkable one in the two Brothers * in Terence's Adelphi.Page  125 How rough and peevish is the one, how mild and good the other? And so the Case will generally hold. Some Wines four with Age, while others grow better and richer. A Gravity with some Severity is to be allowed; but by no means Ill|nature. What Covetousness in Old Men can mean, I must own, I cannot compre|hend; for can any thing be more sense|lessly absurd, than that the nearer we are to our Journey's End, we should still lay in the more Provision for it?


WE are now come to the fourth and last Charge, which is thought most nearly to affect Old Age, and to give the greatest Anxiety of all others, viz. The Aproach of Death, which 'tis certain can be at no great Distance. But miser|able is the Case of that Old Man, who in so long a Course of Years, has not laid in a sufficient Provision against those Fears, and enabled himself to contemn Death, Page  126 which is either to be slighted, as being in Reality nothing in itself, in case it puts an intire End to us, Soul as well as Body; or else, it is to be valued, and to be desired and wish'd for, if it leads us into another State, in which we are to enjoy Eternity: And between these there can be no Medium. What then am I to fear in Death, if after it, I am to have no Sense, and therefore can feel no Pain; or other|wise am to become immortal in another State by the Change? But again, can there be any one so void of Sense, as to think himself sure of living even to the next Evening? Nay, Youth in its greatest Vigour is subject to many more Casualties, and exposed to much greater and more fre|quent Dangers that may shorten Life, than Old Age itself, which is allowed to be drawn so near its End. Their Heat of Blood, and the frequent Changes of Heats and Colds, which they undergo, render them more liable to Fevers and other Fits of Sickeness, which, when they happen, bear heaviest on the strongest Constitutions; nor have they generally, when sick, the Patience to be so carefully nursed, as more Page  127 elderly and experienced People. And from these and such like Causes it is, that we see so few attain to Old Age. But happy would it be for the World, if more lived to reach it: For as Prudence and Skill are gained by Experience, and this de|pends on, and is enlarged by Length of Days; we might from greater Numbers of People grown old in such Experience, expect to see the Affairs of Life, both pub|lick and private, more regularly admi|nistred: And indeed without some such, Government could scarce subsist at all. But to return to the Consideration of Death impending. How can that be accounted an Unhappiness peculiar to Old Age, which we well know is common, and frequently happens to the Youngest, as well as to the Old? I found by near Experience in my own * dear Son, and we saw in the Page  128 Death of your * two Brothers, Scipio, who we expected were growing up to the highest Honours in Rome, that no Age is privileged, but Death is common to all. It may however be said, perhaps, that Youth has Room at least to hope they have Length of Life before them, which in Old Men would be vain. But foolish is that Hope: For what can be more ab|surd, than to build on utter Uncertainties, and account on that for sure, which proba|bly may never happen? And to what is alledged, that the Old Man has no Room lest for Hope, I say, Just so much the Page  129 happier is his Condition, than that of the Young; because he has already attained, and is sure of what the other only wishes and hopes for: The one wishes to live long, the other is at the End of that Wish, he has got it; for he has lived long already. Yet O good Gods! What is it in Life that can be said to be of long Duration? Tho' we should hold it to the utmost Extent of Age, or admit we should live the Days of that *Tartessian King, (for I have read that one 〈◊〉Arganthnius reigned at Cadiz four-score Years, and lived to a hundred and twenty;) yet in my Opinion nothing can properly be termed lasting, Page  130 that has a certain Period fixed: For when that is once come, all the past is over and gone; and in the Business of Life, when that is run out, nothing remains to us, but what results from past good and virtuous Actions. The Hours, and Days, and Months, and Years, all slide away, nor can the past Time ever more return, or what is to follow be fore-known. We ought all to be content with the Time and Portion assigned us. No Man expects of any one Actor on the Theatre, that he should perform all the Parts of the Piece himself: One Role only is committed to him, and whatever that be, if he acts it well, he is applauded. In the same Man|ner, it is not the Part of a wise Man, to desire to be busy in these Scenes to the last Plaudit. A short Term may be long e|nough to live it well and honourably; and and if you hold it longer, when past the first Stages, you ought no more to grieve Page  131 that they are over, than the Husbandman repines that the Spring is past, and the Summer-Heats come on; or after these the more sickly Autumn. The Spring represents Youth, and shews what Fruits may be expected; the following Seasons are for ripening and gathering in those Fruits: And the best Fruits of Old Age are, as I have repeatedly said, the recol|lecting, and, as it were, seeding on the Remembrance of that Train and Store of good and virtuous Deeds, of which, in the Course of Life, we laid in a kind of Provision for this Season. But further we are to consider, that as all we enjoy is from Nature, whatever proceeds from, or is conformable to the established Laws of This, must in itself be good. Now, can any thing be more agreeable to those Laws, than that People in Old Age should die, since, more inconsistently with the Order of Nature, we find the same thing happens to Youth, even in the Prime of their Years? But the Difference is great; for Young Men seem to be forced from Lift, as Fires are extinguished by great Quantities of Water thrown on them; Page  132 when on the contrary, Old Men expire of themselves, like a Flame when all its Fuel is spent. And as unripe Fruit requires some Force to part it from its native Bough; but when come to full Maturity, it drops of itself, without any Hand to touch it: So Young People die by some|thing violent or unnatural; but the Old by meer Ripeness. The Thoughts of which to me are now become so agreeable, that the nearer I draw to my End, it seems like discovering the Land at Sea, that, after the Tossings of a tedious and stormy Voyage, will yield me a safe and quiet Harbour.


ALL other Stages of Life have their first Periods, at which they change into the next succeeding; but Old Age has no certain Limits; it may end sooner or later. All we have to do, is to live it well while it lasts, and do our best to discharge the respective Duties of our Station, with a just Contempt of Death, that, come when it will, we may without Surprize be prepared for it. And this will give Old Age more Courage and Re|solution, Page  133 than even Youth itself in its high|est Vigour can pretend to. On this was *Solon's Answer to Pisistratus ground|ed, who, when asked by that * Ty|rant, on what Foundation he built his Presumption in so boldly opposing him, Page  134 answered, On his Age. [As if he should say, You can but take my Life, and of that there is now so little left, that it is not to be regarded.] But the most desirable End of Life is, when with our Under|standings clear, and our Senses intire, the Page  135 same sovereign Power of Nature that formed us, again dissolves us. For, in our Frame, as in all other Things, Ships, Ediices, and the like, the Work is best taken to Pieces by the same Hand that first put it together. And as all Things with Age become crazy and tender, it is Page  136 then done by much the easiest. Thus Old People, for the little Remainder of Life that is left them, should stand loose and indifferent, neither anxious to have it pro|longed, nor precipitantly or without just Cause to shorten it; remembring the Pre|cept of Pythagoras, That no Man should quit his Post, but at the Command of his General, that is, of God himself. And in regard to those we are to leave behind us, tho' some have commended Solon for saying—He wish'd not to die unmourned and unlamented by his Friends; in which his Sense doubtless was, that he desired while he lived to be loved and valued by them; Yet I know not but that of Ennius is altogether as just,

Let none with Tears or Sighs my Funeral grace:

For his Meaning was, that a Death crown'd with Immortality, ought by no means to be lamented.

Page  137Again, if we consider the Article of Death, or the Pain supposed to attend it, we shall find, that in Dying there is either no Pain at all, or, if any, it is, especially to Old People, of a very short Continuance. And after it, there is either no Sense at all, (as I have said) or such as we have great Reason to wish for. But this is a Subject which concerns not Old Men alone: It is the Business of the Young as well as the Old, to meditate on Death, and to make the Thoughts of it so familiar to them, that in every Age they can despise it, and so guard themselves against it, that it can never surprize them. Without this Provi|sion 'tis impossible at any Stage of Life, to have the Mind free and easy; since no Man can be ignorant that he must die, nor be sure that he may not that very Day. How then can such as dread Death have, under such absolute Uncertainties, so much as one quiet Minute? But I need not dwell on this Head, when I re|flect on our own History, and consider, not only such Examples of Intrepidity and a noble Contempt of Death; as that Page  138 of *Lucius Brutus, who so bravely fell in defending the Liberties of his Country; or of the * two Decij, who devoting themselves for the safety of it, Page  139 pushed with their Horses into the midst of the Enemy, with no other View, than to be cut in Pieces; nor of *Marcus Page  140 Atilius, who, to keep his Word to his Enemies, returned to certain Tortures and Death; or of the two *Scipio's, who, Page  141 to obstruct the Passage of the Carthagi|nians, exposed and lost their own Lives; Page  142 or of your Grandfather *Lucius Paulus (Scipio) who resolved by his own Death Page  143 to atone for the Rashness of his Collegue, in our shameful Overthrow at Cannae;Page  144 or of *Marcus Marcellus, whose Death even the most inveterate of our Enemies Page  145 thought fit to honour with a Funeral. 〈◊〉, I need not dwell on this Head of the Contempt of Death, when I reflect not only on the noble Instances of it in Page  146 such Great Men as these, but even on those of our * Legions themselves (as I have noted in my Origines) who, when the Service or Honour of their Country Page  147 called, have offered their own Lives as Victims, and chearfully marched up to Posts, from which they knew there was no Probability they should ever return. Page  148 Now, if Young Men, or those in the Vigour of Life, and many of them not only uncultivated by Learning, but meer Rusticks, who never had the Opportunity of Instruction, could so easily contemn Death; shall Old Men who have had the Advantage of Literature and Philoso|phy, be afraid of it? By living long we come to a Satiety in all things besides and this should naturally lead us to a Sa|tiety of Life itself. Children we see have their particular Diversions; and does Youth, when past Childhood, pursue or desire the same? Youth also has its pecu|liar Exercises; and does full Manhood require these as before? Or has Old Age the same Inclinations that prevailed in more vigorous Years? We ought then to conclude, That as there is a Succession of Pursuits and Pleasures in the several Stages of Life, the one dying away, as the other advances and takes Place; so in the same Manner are those of Old Age to pass off in their Turn. And when this Satiety of Life has fully ripen'd us, we are then quietly to lie down in Death, as our last Resting-Place, where all Anxiety ends, and Cares and Fears subsist no more.

Page  149


BUT why should I not speak freely, and without Reserve communicate my whole Thoughts on this Subject; of which as I am now drawing nearer to it, I seem to have a clearer Sense and View? I must say then, I am clearly of Opinion (Scipio and Laelius) that those great Men, and my very good Friends, your Fathers, tho' dead to us, do now truly enjoy Life, and such a Life as alone can justly deserve the Name. For while we are closed in these mortal Frames, our Bodies, we are bound down to a Law of Necessity, that obliges us with Labour and Pains to attend to the Discharge of the several incumbent Duties it requires. But our Minds are of a heavenly Original, descended from the blissful Seats above, thrust down and immersed into these gross Habitations of the Earth, a Situation alto|gether unsuitable to a divine and eternal Nature. But the immortal Gods, I believe, thought fit to throw our immortal Minds into these human Bodies, that the Earth might be peopled with Inhabitants proper to contemplate and admire the Beauty and Order of the Heavens, and the whole Page  150 Creation; that from this great Exemplar they might form their Conduct and re|gulate their Lives, with the like unerring Steadiness, as we see is unvariably pursued, not only in those celestial Motions, but thro' the whole Process of Nature. Nor have I been led into this Belief from my own Reasonings only, but by the Autho|rity of those great and exalted Souls, the Philosophers who have lived before us. For I have heard, that Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans, whom I may call our * Countrymen; for their Habitation was in Italy, and thence they had the Name of the Italic Sect: I have heard, I say, that those Philosophers laid it down as their fixed and grand Principle, that our Minds are an Essux or Portion of the Divine Universal Mind, that governs the Whole. I have also seen and considered the * Discourse that Socrates held with his Friends, the last Day of his Life, Page  151 concerning the Immortality of the Soul: That Great Socrates, who was judged by Apollo's Oracle to be the wisest of Men. But my Conclusion is thus, and I am fully perswaded in myself, That a Being so ac|tive, and so swist in Thought, as to be consined by no Distance of Time or Place; that treasures up in Memory such Multi|tudes and Varieties of Things past, and from these also can form a Judgment of what is to ensue; that can comprehend within itself so many different Sciences and Arts; strike out new Inventions, and by fresh Discoveries still add to what has been known: Such a Being, I say, as is capable of all this, I am fully perswaded, can never be of a mortal Nature. For, as it is ever in Motion, yet is not put into it by any thing extrinsic to itself, but it is It-Self the Spring of all its Motion; therefore, since it cannot depart or go out from itself, it must necessarily ever continue, and can|not end. Again, as it is in Nature simple and unmixt, without any Composition of different or dissimilar Parts, it cannot therefore be divided; and if not divided, it cannot be dissolved and die. This Page  152 seems also to be an Argument for the Pre-existence of Souls, and that they were endued with Knowledge, before they en|tred on this Stage; that Children so readi|ly apprehend Things altogether new to them in this Life, learn many difficult Arts, and take in the Notions of Things, as if they were natural to them, and they were not now learning any thing new, but were only recollecting what they had known before. Thus Plato argues.


AND in *Xenophon, Cyrus the Elder in his last Discourse to his Children, expresses himself thus: Do not, my dear Children, imagine, that when I leave your, I shall be no more: For in the Time I have been with you, you could never see my Mind, but only knew by my Actions, that it was lodged in this Body. Be you therefore perswaded, that tho' you no longer see its Lodging, yet it still as surely exists, as before. For even the Fame and Honours of illustrious Men, could not, as we see they do, continue after Death, un|less their Souls, by their Existence, in some Page  153 Measure contributed to their Duration. I never indeed could persuade myself, that Souls confined in these mortal Bodies, can be properly said to live, and that when they leave them, they die; or that they lose all Sense when parted from these Ve|hicles: But, on the contrary, when the Mind is wholly freed from all corporeal Mixture, and begins to be purified, and recover itself again; then, and then only, it becomes truly knowing and wife.—Further, when the Body is dissolved by Death, it is evident what becomes of all the several Parts of it; for every thing we see returns to the Elements of which it was formed: But the Mind alone is never to be seen, neither while it is actuating the Body, nor after it leaves it.—You may further observe, that nothing so much resembles Death, as Sleep: But the Soul in Sleep, above all other Times, gives Proofs of its divine Nature: For when free, and disengaged from the immediate Service of the Body, it has frequently a Foresight of Things to come: From whence we may more clearly conceive what will be its State, when intirely freed from this Page  154 bodily Prison. Now, if the Case be thus, you are then to consider and honour me, as a Knowing Spirit: But if my Mind should also die with my Body, let it be your Care, first to pay all Reverence to the Gods, who support and govern this mighty Frame; and also, with a due and pious Respect for my Name, keep me al|ways in your Remembrance. Thus Cyrus on his Death-Bed.


AND now, to mention some of our own People. No Man, Scipio, shall ever prevail on me to believe, that either your Father *Paulus, or two Grandfathers *Paulus and Africanus, or Africanus's* Father and his Uncle, or divers other illustrious Men, whom I need not name, would have undergone such vast Fatigues to atchieve those glorious Actions which are consecrated to the Remembrance of all Posterity, if they had not clearly dis|cerned, that they themselves had an In|terest, and a kind of Right and Property in Posterity, by their still continuing to Page  155 exist, and to be Sharers as well as Witnesses of their Fortune. Do you imagine, that even I (for as I am an Old Man, I must talk a little of myself;) I say, that I would have undertaken such hazardous Attempts, and undergone such Fatigues by Day, such Toils by Night, at home and abroad, if I had supposed the Glory of my Actions must terminate with my Life, and all my Sense of it end with my being here? For if I had no further Views, might it not have been more eligible to me, to have past away my Days in Quiet and Ease, free from Toils and Care, and without Labour or Contention? But my Spirit rousing in itself, I know not how, had Futurity always so much in View, as if it were assured, that as soon as it quitted this Life, it would then truly live, and not before. And were it not really so, that our Souls are immortal, why is it that the greatest of Men so ardently aspire to immortal Glory? Or why are the Wisest ever the most easy and content to die, and the Weak and Foolish the utmost unwilling? Is it not, think you, because the most Knowing perceive, they are Page  156 going to change for a happier State, of which the more Stupid and Ignorant are uncapable of being sensible? For my Part, I have a passionate Desire to see your Fathers again, whom I loved and honoured while here; and I not only long to meet those I knew and loved, but those illustrious Souls also, of whom I have heard and read, and have with Pleasure mention'd them in my Writings. Nor would I now on any Terms agree to be stopt in my Passage to them; no, not on Condition to be restored to the Bloom and Vigour of Youth again: Or should any heavenly Power grant me the Privi|lege of turning back, if I pleased, from this Age to Infancy, and to set out again from my Cradle, I would absolutely re|fuse it; for as I have now got well nigh to the End of my Race, I should be ex|treamly unwilling to be called back, and obliged to start again. For, if we consider Things aright, what is there in Life to make us fond of it? or that we can on solid Judgment pronounce truly valuable? Or who is there, or ever has been, who has not at some Time or other met with Page  157 Trouble and Anxiety sufficient to make him weary of it? This Comfort however attends the Thought, that the more the Satiety grows upon us, the nearer we ap|proach to its End. I am therefore ar from being of the Mind of some, and a|mongst them we have known Men of good Learning, who lament and bewail the Condition of human Life, as if it were a State of real Misery: For I am not at all uneasy that I came into, and have so far passed my Course in this World; because I have so lived in it, that I have Reason to believe, I have been of some Use to it; and when the Close comes, I shall quit Life as I would an Inn, and not as a real Home. For Nature appears to me to have ordain'd this Station here for us, as a Place of So|journment, a transitory Abode only, and not as a sixt Settlement or permanent Ha|bitation. But Oh the glorious Day, when freed from this troublesome Rout, this Heap of Confusion and Corruption below, I shall repair to that divine Assembly, that heavenly Congregation of Souls! And not only to those I mentioned, but also to my dear Cato, than whom a more virtuous Page  158 Soul was never born, nor did ever any ex|ceed him in Piety and Affection. His Body I committed to the Funeral Pile, which he, alas! ought to have lived to do by mine: Yet his Soul did not forsake me, but keeping me still in View, removed to those Abodes, to which he knew, I was in a little Time to follow. I bore the Af|fliction indeed with the Fortitude that be|came me, to outward View, tho' inwardly I severely felt the Pangs of it; but in this I have supported myself, that I knew our Parting was to be neither far nor long, and that the Time is but short till we shall happily meet again.

Now, these, my Friends, are the Means (since it was these you wanted to know) by which I make my Old-Age sit easy and light on me; and thus I not only dis|arm it of every Uneasiness, but render it even sweet and delightful. But if I should be mistaken in this Belief, that our Souls are immortal, I am however pleased and happy in my Mistake; nor while I live, shall it ever be in the Power of Man, to beat me out of an Opinion, that yields me so solid a Comfort, and so durable a Satis|faction. Page  159 And if, when dead, I should (as some minute Philosophers imagine) be de|prived of all further Sense, I am safe at least in this, that those Blades themselves will have no Opportunity beyond the Grave to laugh at me for my Opinion. But whe|ther immortal or not, or whatever is to be our future State; as Nature has set Limits to all its other Productions, 'tis certainly fit our frail Bodies also should at their proper Season be gathered, or drop into their Grave. And as the whole Course of Life but too much resembles a Farce, of which Old-Age is the last Act; when we have enough of it, 'tis most prudent to retire, and not to make a Fatigue of what we should endeavour to make only an Entertainment. This is what I had to say of Old-Age; which I wish you also may live to attain, that you may from your own Experience, witness the Truth of the several Things I have now delivered you in this Conversation.