have never learnt to lead an army or to govern a state?’

time:2023-11-29 04:03:10 source:Heartbreaker author:news

Time, which antiquates antiquities, and hath an art to make dust of all things, hath yet spared these minor monuments.

have never learnt to lead an army or to govern a state?’

In vain we hope to be known by open and visible conservatories, when to be unknown was the means of their continuation, and obscurity their protection. If they died by violent hands, and were thrust into their urns, these bones become considerable, and some old philosophers would honour them, whose souls they conceived most pure, which were thus snatched from their bodies, and to retain a stronger propension unto them; whereas they weariedly left a languishing corpse and with faint desires of re-union. If they fell by long and aged decay, yet wrapt up in the bundle of time, they fall into indistinction, and make but one blot with infants. If we begin to die when we live, and long life be but a prolongation of death, our life is a sad composition; we live with death, and die not in a moment. How many pulses made up the life of Methuselah, were work for Archimedes: common counters sum up the life of Moses his man. Our days become considerable, like petty sums, by minute ac- cumulations: where numerous fractions make up but small round numbers; and our days of a span long, make not one little finger.+

have never learnt to lead an army or to govern a state?’

If the nearness of our last necessity brought a nearer conformity into it, there were a happiness in hoary

have never learnt to lead an army or to govern a state?’

* Tibullus, lib. iii. el. 2, 26. + According to the ancient arithmetick of the hand, wherein the little finger of the right hand contracted, signified an hundred.--Pierius in Hieroglyph.

hairs, and no calamity in half-senses. But the long habit of living indisposeth us for dying; when avarice makes us the sport of death, when even David grew politickly cruel, and Solomon could hardly be said to be the wisest of men. But many are too early old, and before the date of age. Adversity stretcheth our days, misery makes Alcmena's nights,* and time hath no wings unto it. But the most tedious being is that which can unwish itself, content to be nothing, or never to have been, which was beyond the malcontent of Job, who cursed not the day of his life, but his nativity; con- tent to have so far been, as to have a title to future being, although he had lived here but in an hidden state of life, and as it were an abortion.

What song the Syrens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, though puzzling questions,+ are not beyond all conjecture. What time the persons of these ossuaries entered the famous nations of the dead, and slept with princes and coun- sellors, might admit a wide solution. But who were the proprietaries of these bones, or what bodies these ashes made up, were a question above antiquarism; not to be resolved by man, nor easily perhaps by spirits, except we consult the provincial guardians, or tutelary observators. Had they made as good provision for their names, as they have done for their relicks, they had not so grossly erred in the art of perpetuation. But to subsist in bones, and be but pyramidally extant, is a fallacy in duration. Vain ashes which in the oblivion of names, persons, times, and sexes, have found unto themselves a fruitless continuation, and only arise unto

* One night as long as three. + The puzzling questions of Tiberius unto grammarians.-- Marcel. Donatus in Suet.

late posterity, as emblems of mortal vanities, antidotes against pride, vain-glory, and madding vices. Pagan vain-glories which thought the world might last for ever, had encouragement for ambition; and, finding no atropos unto the immortality of their names, were never dampt with the necessity of oblivion. Even old ambi- tions had the advantage of ours, in the attempts of their vain-glories, who acting early, and before the probable meridian of time, have by this time found great accomplishment of their designs, whereby the ancient heroes have already outlasted their monuments and mechanical preservations. But in this latter scene of time, we cannot expect such mummies unto our memories, when ambition may fear the prophecy of Elias,* and Charles the Fifth can never hope to live within two Methuselahs of Hector.+


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