« 前へ次へ »
How little things give law to great! we see
The small bud captivates the greatest tree.
Here ev’n the pow'r divine we imitate,
And seem not to beget, but to create.
Much was I pleas’d with fowls and beasts, the tame
For food and profit, and the wild for game.
Excuse me when this pleasant string I touch,
(For Age of what delights it speaks too much.)
Who twice victorious Pyrrhus conquered, 175
The Sabines and the Samnites captive led,
Great Curius ! his remaining days did spend,
And in this happy life his triumphs end,
My farm stands near, and when I there retire,
His and that age's temper I admire.
180 The Samnites' chiefs, as by his fire he sat, With a vast sum of gold on him did wait; " Return,” said he “ your gold I nothing weigh, " When those who can command it me obey." This my assertion proves
And yet not sordid, who refuses gold.
In summer to sit still, or walk, I love,
Near a cool fountain, or a shady grove.
What can in Winter render more delight
Than the high sun at noon and fire at night? 190
While our old friends and neighbours feast and play,
And with their harmless mirth turn night to day,
Unpurchas'd plenty our full tables loads,
And part of what they lent return t'our gods,
That honour and authority which dwells 195
With Age, ali pleasures of our youth excels.
Observe that I that Age have only prais’d
Whose pillars were on youth's foundations rais d,
And that (for which I great applause receiv?d)
As a true maxiin hath been since believ'd.
That most unhappy Age great pity needs,
Wlrich to defend itself new matter pleads.
Not from grey hairs authority doth flow,
Nor from bald heads, nor from a wrinkled brow,
But our past life, when virtuously spent, 205
Must to our Age those happy fruits present.
Those things to Age most honourable are
Which easy, common, and but light appear,
Salutes, consulting, compliment, resort,
Crowding attendance to and from the court:
And not on Rome alone this honour waits,
But on all civil and well-govern'd states.
Lysander pleading in his city's praise,
From thence his strongest argument did raise,
That Sparta did with honour Age support,
215 Paying them just respect at stage and court: But at proud Athens youth did Age outface, Nor at the plays would rise or give them place, When an Athenian stranger of great Ago Arriv'd at Sparta, climbing up the stage, To him the whole assembly rose, and ran To place and ease this old and reverend man,
Who thus his thanks returns, “ 'Th' Athenians
“ What's to be done; but what they know not do."
Here our great Senate's orders I may quote, 225
The first in Age is still the first in vote.
Nor honour, nor high birth, nor great command,
In competition with great years may stand.
Why should our youth's short transient pleasures dare
With Age's lasting honours to compare? 230
On the world's 'stage, when our applause grows high,
For acting here life's tragic comedy,
The lookers-on will say we act not well,
Unless the last the former 'scenes excel.
But Age is froward, uneasy, scrutinous,
Hard to be pleas'd, and parsimonious.
But all those errors from our manners rise,
Not from our years; yet some morosities
We must expect, since jealousy belongs
To Age, of scorn, and tender sense of wrongs: 240
Yet those are mollify'd, or not discern'd,
Where civil arts and manners have been learn'd:
So the Twins' humours, in our Terence*, are
Unlike, this harsh and rude, that smuoth and fair.
Our nature here is not unlike our wine; 245
Some sorts, when old, continue brisk and fine;
So Age's gravity may seem severe,
But nothing harsh or bitter ought t' appear.
In his comedy called Adelphi.
Of Age's avarice I cannot see
What colour, ground, or reason, there should be :
Is it not folly when the way we ride
Is short for a long voyage to provide ?
To avarice some title youth may own,
To reap in autumn what the spring had sown;
And, with the providence of bees or ants,
Prevent with summer's plenty winter's wants :
But Age scarce sows till Death stands by to reap,
And to a stranger's hand transfers the heap :
Afraid to be so once, she's always poor
And to avoid a mischief makes it sure.
Such madness as for fear of death to die,
Is to be poor for fear of poverty.
THE FOURTH PART.
Now against (that which terrifies our Age)
The last and greatest grievance we engage;
To her grim death appears in all her shapes,
The hungry grave for her due tribute gapes.
Fond, foolish man ! with fear of death surpris d, s
Which either should be wish'd for or despis'd :
This, if our souls with bodies death destroy.;
That, if our souls a second life enjoy.
What else is to be fear'd, when we shall gain
Eternal life, or have no sense of pain?
The youngest in the morning are not sure
That till the night their life they can secure ;
Their Age stands more expos'd to'accidents
Than ours, nor cominon çare their fate prevents :
Death's force (with terror) against Nature strives, Nor one of many to ripe Age arrives.
15 From this ill fate the world's disorders rise, For if all men were old they would be wise. Years and experience our forefathers taught; Them under laws and into cities brought. Why only should the fear of death belong To Age, which is as common to the young? Your hopeful brothers, and my son, to you, Scipio, and me, this maxim makes too true. But vig'rous youth may his gay thoughts erect 25 To many years, which Age must not expect. But when he sees his airy hopes deceiv’d, With grief he says, Who this would have believ'd ? We happier are than they who but desir'd To possess that which we long since acquir'd. 30 What if our Age to Nestor's could extend ? 'Tis vain to think that lasting which must end; And when 'tis past, not any part remains Thereof but the reward which virtue gains. Days, months, and years, like running waters flow, Nor what is past nor what's to come we know. 36 Our date, how short soe'er, must us content. When a good actor doth his part present, In ev'ry act he our attention draws, That at the last he may find just applause ; So tho' but short, yet we must learn the art Of virtue on this stage to act our part.