Literary and Philosophic Essays HTML version

and been Emperour over so many, Armies, became an humble and
miserable suter to the raskally o?cers of a king of AEgy pte: At so
high a rate did that great Pompey purchase the irkesome prolonging
of his life but for ?ve or six moneths. And in our fathers daies,
Lodowicke Sforze, tenth Duke of Millane, under whom the State of
Italic had so long beene turmoiled and shaken, was seene t o die a
wretched prisoner at Loches in France, but not till he had lived and
lingered ten yeares in thraldom, which was the worst of his
bargaine. The fairest Queene, wife to the greatest King of
Christendome, was she not lately scene to die by the h ands of an
executioner? Oh unworthie and barbarous cruelties And a thousand
such examples. For, it seemeth that as the sea-billowes and surging
waves, rage and storme against the surly pride and stubborne height
of our buildings, so are there above, certaine spirits that envie
the rising prosperities and greatnesse heere below.
Vsque adeb res humanas vis abdita quadam
Obterit, et pulchros fasces sav&sque secures
Proculcare, ac ludibrio sibi habere videtur.
[Footnote: LUCRE T. I. v. 1243.]
A hidden power so mens states hath out-worne
Faire swords, ?erce scepters, signes of honours borne,
It seemes to trample and deride in scorne.
And it seemeth Fortune doth sometimes narrowly watch the last day of
our life, thereby to shew her power, and in one moment to overthrow
what for many yeares together she had been erecting, and makes us
cry after Laberius, Nimirum hoc die una plus vixi, mihi quam
vivendum fuit. [Footnote: MACHOB, 1, ii. 7.] Thus it is, ”I have
lived longer by this one day than I should.” So may that good advice
of Solon be taken with reason. But fors omuch as he is a Philosopher,
with whom the favours or dis favours of fortune, and good or ill
lucke have no place, and are not regarded by him; and puissances and
greatnesses, and accidents of qualitie, are well-nigh indi?erent: I
deeme it very likely he had a further reach, and meant that the same
good fortune of our life, which dependeth of the tranquillitie and
contentment of a welborne minde, and of the resolution and assurance
of a well ordered soule, should never be ascribed unto man, untill
he have beene scene play the last act of his comedie, and without
doubt the hardest. In all the rest there may be some maske: either
these sophisticall discourses of Philosophie are not in us but by
countenance, or accidents that never touch us to the quick, give us
alwaies leasure to keep our countenanc e setled. But when that last
part of death, and of our selves comes to be acted, then no
dissembling will availe, then is it high time to speake plaine
English, and put o? all vizards: then whatsoever the pot containeth
must be shewne, be it good or bad, foule or cleane, wine or water.
Nam vera voces tum demum pectore ab imo
Ejiciuntur, et eripitur persona, manet res.
[Footnote: LUCEE T. 1. iii. 57.]
For then are sent true speeches from the heart,
We are ourselves, we leave to play a part.
Loe heere, why at this last cast, all our lives other actions must
be tride and touched. It is the master-day, the day that judgeth all
others: it is the day, saith an auncient Writer, that must judge of
all my forepassed yeares. To death doe I referre the essay