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Joy'd that from pleasure's slav'ry they are free,
And all respects due to their Age they see
In its true colours; this complaint appears
The ill effect of manners not of years;
For on their life no grievous burthen lies
Who are well-natur'd, temperate, and wise;
But an inhuman and ill-temper'd mind
Not any easy part in life can find.
LEL. This I believe; yet others may dispute
Their Age (as yours) can never bear such fruit
Of honour, wealth and pow'r, to make them sweet;
Not ev'ry one such happiness can meet.
CAT. Some weight your argument, my Lælius,
But not so much as at first sight appears. [bears,
This answer by Themistocles was made,
(When a Seriphian thus did him upbraid,
"You those great honours to your country owe,
"Not to yourself)”—“ Had I at Seripho 70
"Been born, such honour I had never seen,
“Nor you, if an Athenian you had been.”
So Age, cloth'd in indecent poverty,
To the most prudent cannot easy be;
But to a fool the greater his estate
The more uneasy is his Age's weight.
Age's chief arts and arms are to grow wise,
Virtue to know, and known to exercise :
All just returns to Age then virtue makes,
Nor her in her extremity forsakes.
The sweetest cordial we receive at last,
Is conscience of our virtuous actions past.
I (when a youth) with reverence did look
On Quintus Fabius, who Tarentum took ;
Yet in his age such cheerfulness was seen,
As if his years and mine had equal been :
His gravity was mix'd with gentleness,
Nor had his Age made his good humour less :
Then was he well in years, (the same that he
Was consul that of my nativity)
(A stripling then) in his fourth consulate
On hun at Capua I in arms did wait.
I five years after at Tarentum wan
The Quæstorship, and then our love began ;
And four years after, when I Prætor was, 95
He pleaded, and the Cincian law * did pass.
With useful diligence he us’d t'engage,
Yet with the temp’rate arts of patient Age
He breaks fierce Hannibal's insulting heats ;
Of which exploit thus our friend Ennius treats : 100
He by delay restor'd the commonwealth,
Nor preferr'd rumour before public health.
* Against bribes.
When I reflect on Agc, I find there are
Four causes, which its misery declare.
1. Because our body's strength it much impairs :
2. That it takes off our minds from great affairs :
3. Next that our sense of pleasure it deprives:
4. Last that approaching death attends our lives.
of all these several causes I'll discourse,
And then of each, in order, weigh the force.
THE FIRST PART. The old from such affairs is only freed Which vig'rous youth and strength of body need; But to more high affairs our Age is lent, Most properly when heats of youth are spent. Did Fabius and your father Scipio
5 (Whose daughter my son married) nothing do 2 Fabricii, Coruncani, Curii, Whose courage, counsel, and authority, The Roman commonwealth restor’d, did boast, Nor Appius, with whose strength his sight was lost, Who, when the Senate was to peace inclin'd With Pyrrhus, shew'd his reason was not blind. Whither 's our courage and our wisdom come, When Rome itself conspires the fate of Rome : The rest with ancient gravity and skill
15 He spake; (for his oration 's extant still.) - 'Tis seventeen years since he had Consul been The second time, and there were ten between; Therefore their argument's of little force, Who age from great employments would divorce.
As in a ship some climb the shrouds, t' unfold 21
The sail, some sweep the deck, some pump the hold,
Whilst he that guides the helm employs his skill,
And gives the law to them by sitting still;
Great actions less from courage, strength and speed,
Than from wise counsels and commands proceed. 26
Those Arts age wants not which to Age belong;
Not heat but cold experience makes us strong.
A Consul, Tribune, General, I have been,
All sorts of war I have pass'd thro' and seen; 30
And now grown old, I seem t' abandon it,
Yet to the senate I prescribe what's fit.
I ev'ry day 'gainst Carthage war proclaim,
(For Rome's destruction hath been long her aim)
Nor shall I cease till I her ruin see,
Which triumph may the gods design for thee;
That Scipio may revenge his grandsire's ghost,
Whose life at Canne with great honour lost
Is on record; nor had he weary'd been
With Age if he an hundred years had seen:
He had not us'd excursions, spears, or darts,
But counsel, order, and such aged arts;
Which if our ancestors had not retain'd,
The Senate's name our council had not gain'd.
The Spartans to their highest magistrate
The name of Elder did appropriate :
Therefore his fame for ever shall remain,
How gallantly Tarentum he did gain,
With vigilant conduct : when that sharp reply
He gave to Salinator I stood by,
Who to the castle fled, the town being lost,
Yet he to Maximus did vainly boast
'Twas by my means Tarentum you obtain'd;
'Tis true, had you not lost I had not gain’d.
And as much honour on his gown did wait 55
As on his arms, in his fifth consulate.
When his colleague Carvilius stept aside,
The Tribune of the people would divide
To them the Gallic and the Picene field;
Against the Senate’s will he will not yield; 60
When, being angry, boldly he declares
Those things were acted under happy stars,
From which the commonwealth found good effects,
But otherwise they came from bad aspects.
Many great things of Fabius I could tell, 65
But his son's death did all the rest excel;
(His gallant son, tho' young, had Consul been)
His funeral oration I have seen
Often; and when on that I turn my eyes,
I all the old philosophers despise.
70 Tho' he in all the people's eyes seem'd great, Yet greater he appear’d in his retreat ; When feasting with his private friends at home, Such counsel, such discourse from him did come, Such science in his art of augury,
75 No Roman ever was more learn'd than he ;.