« VorigeDoorgaan »
husty of perdition, will perhaps hang himself, lest his throat should be cut; provided that he may do it in his study, surrounded with wealth, to which his eye sends a faint and languishing salute, even upon the turning off; remembering always, that he have time and liberty by writing, to depute himself as his own heir.
For that is a great peace to his end, and recociles him wonderfully upon the point.
10. Herein we all dally with ourselves, and are without proof of necessity. I am not of those that dare promise to pine away myself in vain glory, and I hold such to be but feat boldness, and them that dare commit it to be vain. Yet for my part, I think nature should do me great wrong, if I should be so long in dying, as I was in being born.
To speak truth, no man knows the lists of his own patience; nor can divine how able he shall be in his sufferings, till the storm come; the perfectest virtue being tried in action: but I would out of a care to do the best business well, ever keep a guard, and stand upon keeping faith and a good conscience,
11. And if wishes might find place, I would die together, and not my mind often, and my body once; that is, I would prepare for the messengers of death, sickness and affliction, and not wait long, or be attempted by the violence of pain.
Herein I do not profess myself a Stoic, to hold grief no evil, but opinion, and a thing indifferent.
But I consent with Cæsar, that the suddenest passage is easiest, and there is nothing more awakens
our resolve and readiness to die, than the quieted conscience, strengthened with opinion that we shall be well spoken of upon earth by those that are just and of the family of virtue; the opposite whereof is a fury to man, and makes even life unsweet.
Therefore, what is more heavy than evil fame deserved? Or, likewise, who can see worse days, than he that yet living doth follow at the funerals of his own reputation ?
I have laid up many hopes, that I am privileged from that kind of mourning, and could wish the like peace to all those with whom I wage love.
12. I might say much of the commodities that death can sell a man; but briefly, death is a friend of ours, and he that is not ready to entertain him, is not at home. Whilst I am, my ambition is not to foreflow the tide; I have but so to make my interest of it, as I may account for it; I would wish nothing but what might better my days, nor desire any greater place than the front of good opinion. I make not love to the continuance of days, but to the goodness of them; nor wish to die, but refer myself to my hour, which the great Dispenser of all things hath appointed me; yet as I am frail, and suffered for the first fault, were it given me to choose, I should not be earnest to see the evening of my age; that extremity of itself being a disease, and a mere return into infancy; so that if perpetuity of life might be given me, I should think what the Greek poet said, Such an age is a mortal evil. And since I must needs be dead, I require it may not be done before mine
enemies, that I be not stript before I be cold; but before my friends. The night was even now; but that name is lost; it is not now late, but early. Mine eyes begin to discharge their watch, and compound with this fleshly weakness for a time of perpetual rest; and I shall presently be as happy for a few hours, as I had died the first hour I was born.
SEE also for similar sentiments by Lord Bacon, an Essay upon Death in the Remains, inserted in page 432 of this volume. See also in the Advancement of Learning, vol. ii. p. 81. "For if a "man's mind be deeply seasoned with the consideration of the "mortality and corruptible nature of things, he will easily con"cur with Epictetus, who went forth one day and saw a woman weeping for her pitcher of earth that was broken; and went "forth the next day and saw a woman weeping for her son that was "dead: and thereupon said, 'Heri vidi fragilem frangi, hodie vidi "mortalem mori.' And therefore Virgil did excellently and pro"foundly couple the knowledge of causes and the conquest of all "fears together, as concomitantia.'
Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas,
Quique metus omnes, et inexorabile fatum
Subjecit pedibus, strepitumque Acherontis avari.'"'
See also the True philosophy of death in the Novum Organum, under the head of Political Motion, where he says, "The Political "Motion-Is that by which parts of the body are restrained from "their own immediate appetites or tendencies, to unite in such a "state as may preserve the existence of the whole body.-Thus the "spirit which exists in all living bodies keeps all the parts in due subjection; when it escapes, the body decomposes, or the similar "parts unite, as metals rust; fluids turn sour; and in animals, "when the spirit which held the parts together escapes, all things are dissolved, and return to their own natures or principles: the "oily parts to themselves; the aqueous also to themselves, &c.: upon which necessarily ensues that odour, that unctuosity, that "confusion of parts observable in putrefaction:" So true is it, that in nature all is beauty that notwithstanding our partial views and distressing associations, the forms of death, mis-shapen as we suppose them, are but the tendencies to union in similar natures.—To the astronomer, the setting sun is as worthy of notice as its golden beams of orient light.
See lastly his epitaph upon the monument raised by his affec tionate and faithful Secretary, who lies at his feet; and although only a few letters of his name, scarcely legible, can now be traced, he will ever be remembered for his affectionate attachment to his master and friend. Upon the monument which he raised to Lord Bacon, who appears sitting in deep but tranquil thought, he has inscribed this epitaph: