ページの画像
PDF
ePub

Mag. Jacunt of thi Li/t efTorquato Tasso. 135

accident, arrived at Rome, where he celebrate the solemnity, Tasso was

was most graciously welcomed.

From Rome Tasso retired to Naples to prosecute a law-suit for the recovery of his family-estate. But be bad not long been in that place before his friend, the cardinal of St. George, again drew him to Rome, having prevailed on the pope to give him the honour of being solemnly creamed with laurel in the Capitol.

Though Tasso himself was not in the least desirous of such pomp, he jieldtd to the persuasion of others, particularly of his dear friend Manso, to whom he protested that he went merely at his earnest desire, not with any expectation of the promised triumph, which he had a secret pFesage would never be. He was greatly affected at parting with Maoso, and took his leave of him as of one whom he should never fee again.

At his entering Rome he was met fcj many persons of distinction, and *is afterwards introduced to the presence of the pope, who was pleased to tell him " that his merit would add as much honour to the laurel he Ms going to receive, as that crown had formerly given to those on whom it had been bestowed."

Nothing was now thought on but the approaching solemnity: orders were given not only to decorate the jope's palace and the Capitol, but all •he principal streets through which the procession was to pass. Yet Tasso appeared little moved with these preparations, which he said would be in i*in: and being shewn a sonnet Omposcd on the occasion by his relation Hercole Tasso, he answered by the following verse of Seneca:

■'"I'ifica vtrta mors prop} ainuft atcuttt. Hk presages were but too true; for 'hilt they waited for fair weather to

seized with his last sickness.

Though he had only completed the fifty-first year of his age, his studies and misfortunes had brought on a premature old age. On the tenth of April he was seized by a violent fever, and the most famous physicians in vain exerted their art to relieve him. Rinaldini, the pope's physician, and Tasso's intimate friend, having informed him that his last hour was near at hand, Tasso embraced him tenderly, and with a composed countenance returned him thanks for his tidings; then looking up to heaven, he " acknowledged the goodrieft of God, who was at last pleased to bring him safe into port, aster so long a storm."

Being desired to dictate his will and his epitaph, he smiled, and said, that " in regard to the first, he had little worldly goods to leave; and as to the second, a plain stone would suffice to cover him."

He desired his friend the cardinal, with great earnestness, to collect the copies of all his works, particularly his Jerusalem delivered, which he esteemed most imperfect, and commit them to the flames.

Whence could this strange request proceed f Surely not from affectation, for she drops her plume at the grave. Possibly it might arise from some religious scruple.'

This celebrated poet died on the twenty-fifth of April, 1595, uttering this unfinished sentence. In manus, tuai, Domini—

With respect to his person, he was tall and well-shaped; his complexion fair, but rather pale through sickness and study; his hair was of a chesnut colour; his beard thick and bushy; his sorehead square and high; his head large; his eye brows were dark;

4 his 136 fcjsay Oh the Methoa es bearing

his eyes full and piercing, and of a clear blue; his nose was large; his lips thin; his teeth well set and white; his breast full; his shoulders broad; and all his limbs more sinewy than flefliy: his voice was strong, clear, and solemn: he spoke with deliberation; seldom laughed; and never to excess.

In his oratory he used littlfc action, and rather pleased by the beauty and force of his expressions, than by the graces of gesture and utterance that compose so great a part of elocution.

As to his mental qualities, heappears to have had a soul elevated

Misfortunes and Calamities. British

above the common rank of mankind. It is said of him that there never was a scholar more humble, a wit more devout, or a man more amiable in society; never satisfied with his works, even when they rendered his name famous throughout the world; always satisfied with his condition, even when he wanted every thing) entirely relying on Providence and his friends; without malevolence towards his greatest enemies; only wishing for riches that he might be serviceable to others, and making a scruple to receive or keep any thing himself that was not absolutely necessary.

An ESSAY on the Method of bearing Misfortunes and Calamities.

SO large a part of human life is passed in a state contrary to our natural desires, that one of the principal topics of moral instruction is the art of bearing calamities. And such is the certainty of evil, that it is the duty of every man to furnish his mind with those principles that may enable him to act under it with decency and propriety.

The sect of ancient philosophers, who boasted to have carried this necessaiy science to the highest perfection, were the Stoics, or scholars of Zeno; whose wild enthusiastic virtue pretended to an exemption from the sensibilities of unenlightened mortals, and who boasted of being exalted, by the doctrines of their sect, above the reach of those miseries which embitter life to the rest of the world. They therefore removed pain, and poverty, the loss of friends, exile, and violent death, from the catalogue of evils; and pasted, in their haughty stile, a kind offrrevcrsible decree, by which they

forbad them to be classed any longer among the objects of terror and anxiety, or to give any disturbance to the tranquility of a wife man.

This decree was not indeed universally observed ; for though one of the more resolute, when he was tortured by a violent disease, cried our,

that let pain harrass him to its utmost power.it should never force him to retract the doctrines of his sect, or to consider it as any other than indifferent and neutral j" yet all had not the resolution to hold out against their senses: for one of Zeno's pupils is recorded to have confessed in the anguisli of the gout, that, " he no"W found pain to be an evil."

It may however be questioned, whether these philosophers can be very properly numbered among the teachers of patience; for, if pain be not an evil, there seems no instruction requisite how it may be borne; and therefore, when they endeavoured to arm their followers with arguments against it, th«y raav be thought But such inconsistencies are to be expected from the greatest understandings, when they endeavour to grow eminent by singularity, and employ their strength in establishing opinions opposite to nature.

Mag, Efay on the Method os hearing Mil/ar tunes end Calamities. 137 to have given up their first position. There is indeed nothing more un

The controversy about external nils is now at an end. That lire has many miseries, and that those miseries are, sometimes at least, equal to all the powers of fortitude which can be raised against them, is now universally confessed; and therefore it is useful to consider not only how we may escape them, but by what means those which either the accidents of affairs, or the necessities of nature, must bring upon us, may be mitigated and lightened; and Bow we may make those hours less wretched, which the condition of our present existence will not allow to be very happy.

The cure for the greater part of human miseries is not radical, but palliative. Infelicity is involved in our corporeal nature, and interwoven with our being; to attempt therefore to decline it wholly, is useless and vain. The armies of pain lend their arrows against us on every fide, and the choice is only between those which are more or less sharp, or tinged with poison of greater or less malignity; and the strongest armour, which reason can supply, will only blunt their points, but cannot 'epel them.

The great remedy which heaven has put into our hands is patience, ty which, though we cannot lessen 'he torments of the body, we can in * great measure preserve the peace 01 the mind, and suffer only the natural and genuine force of evil, without heightening its acrimony, or prolonging its effects.

Mtrcb, 1764.

suitable to the nature of man in any calamity than rage and turbulence, which, without examining whether they are not sometimes impious, are at least always offensive, and incline others rather to hate and despise than to pity and assist us. Jf what we suffer has been brought upon us by ourselves, patience, as an ancient poet justly observes, is eminently our duty, since no one sliould he angry at feeling that which he has deserved. And surely if we are not conscious that we have contributed to our own sufferings, if punishment fall upon innocence, or disappointment happens to industry and prudence; patience, whether more necessary or not, is much easier, since our pain is then without aggravation, and we have not the bitterness of remorse to add to the asperity of misfortune.

In those evils which are allotted to us by Providence, such as deformity, privation of any of the senses, or old age, it is always to be remembered, that impatience can h-ave no present effect but to deprive us of the consolation which our condition admits, by driving away from us those by whose conversation or advice we might be amused or assisted; and that with regard to futurity it is yet less eligible, since, without lessening the pain, it cuts off the hope of that reward, which he, by whom it is inflicted, will confer upon those who bear it well.

In all evils which admit a remedy, impatience is to be avoided, because it wastes that time and attention in complaints, which, if properly applied, might remove the cause. Turenne, among the acknowledgements which he used to ]>ay in conversation to the memory T ot* 1 j? EJJay on the Method of ltarin<e

of those by whom he had been instructed in the art of war, mentioned one with honour, who taught him not to spend his time in regretting any mistake which he had made, but to set himself immediately to repair and obviate it.

Patience and submission are very carefully to be distinguished from cowardice and indolence. We are not to repine, but we may lawfully struggle; for the calamities of life, like the necessities of nature, are calls to labour, and exercises of diligence. When we feel any pressure of distress, we are not to conclude that we can only obey the will of heaven by languishing under it, any more than when we perceive the pain of thirst we are to imagine that water is prohibited. Of misfortune it never can be known.whether, as proceeding from the hand of God, it is an act of favour or of punishment: but all ordinary dispensations of Providence are to be interpreted according to the general analogy of things, and we may conclude, that we have a right to remove one inconvenience as well as another; that we are only to take care lest we purchase ease witl> guilt; and that his purpose, whether of reward or severity, will be answered by the labours which he lays us under the necessity of performing.

This duty is not more difficult in any state, than in diseases intensely painful, which may indeed admit of such exacerbations as seem to strain the powers of life to their utmost stretch, and leave very little of the attention vacant to precept or reproof. In this state the nature of man requires some indulgence, and every extravagance but impiety may be easily forgiven him. Yet, lest we should think ourselves too soon en-. 5

Misfortunes and Calamities. British titled to the mournful privileges of irresistible misery, it is proper tn reflect, that the utmost pains v. hid* human wit can contrive, or humar* malice can inflict, have been born* with constancy; and that' if the pains ot disease be, as 1 believe they are, sometimes greater than those of artificial torture, thev are ttvrcfore in their own nature shoiter, the vital frame is quickly broken, the union between foul and body for a time suspended, and we soon cease to feel our maladies when they come to be too violent to be borne. 1 think there is some reason for questioning whether the body and mind are noe so proportioned that the one can bear all that can he inflicted on theother; whether virtue cannot standits ground as long as life; and whether a soul well principled will not be separated before it is subdued.

In calamities which operate chief!* on our passions, such as diminution of fortune, loss of friends,or declension of character, the chief danger of impatience is upon the first attack and many expedients have been contrived, by which the blow may be broken; Of these the most generalprecept is, not to take plcasurein any thing, of which it is not in our power to secure the possession to ourselves. —This counsel,when we consider the enjoyment of any terrestrial advantage as opposite to a constant and habitual solicitude for future felicity, is undoubtedly just, and delivered bythat authority which cannot ba disputed; but, in any other sense, is- it not like advice, not to walk lest we should stumble, or not to see lest our eyes should light upon deformity? It seems to me reasonable to enjoy blessings with confidence, as well as to lose them with submission, and to hope for the continuance of good

which

[blocks in formation]

To the Autfors Gentlemen,

IT cannot, I think, be considered as an idle task, or an attempt destitute of entertainment, to draw a parallel between two of the most celebrated men the world ever saw, and whose genius and learning will be revered as long as civil society and a love for the sciences continue in the world.—Mr. Locke's preferments were rewards paid to his merit, the rewards of an unblemished integrity, rewards for exerting himself in the cause of liberty and his country, and for securing the advantage of trade and commerce, by his unravelling the difficulties relating to our specie. Had merit taken place, Bacon would sooner have enjoyed the honours he was at last invested with; and had he fully known that merit, he would never have ftooped so low to attain them. And here the political cunning and address, the aspiring ambition of Sir Francis Bacon, form a perfect contrast to the artless simplicity, the unaspiring temper of Mr. Locke: the former supplicating with unwearied diligence, and pacing his homage to every courtier who could help him to advance his fortune and his honour: the latter averse to grandeur, Vti declining the acquisition of

of the British Magazine.

wealth. Happy in himself and unambitious of external honours, Mr. Locke answered the congratulations of his friend, who rejoiced at his receiving a post of honour, and a thousand pounds a year, with a greatness of mind that proved him a real philosopher: "If you will give me leave to whisper truth, without vanity, in the ear of a friend, said he, 'tis a preferment which 1 shall get nothing by, and I know not whether my country will, though that I shall aim at with all my endeavours. Riches may be instrumental to so many good purposes, that it is, I think, vanity, rather than religion or philosophy, to pretend to contemn them. But yet, they may be purchased too dear. My age and health demand a retreat from bustle and business, and the pursuit of some enquiries I have in my thoughts, makes it more dcfireable than any of those rewards which public employments tempt people with. I think the little I have enough, and do not desire to live higher, or die richer than I am. And therefore you have reason rather to pity the folly, than to congratulate the fortune that engages me in the whirlpool.^ They both spent great part of their T? lives

« 前へ次へ »