Poetical Works of Edmund Waller and Sir John Denham eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 232 pages of information about Poetical Works of Edmund Waller and Sir John Denham.

LAEL.  This I believe; yet others may dispute,
Their age (as yours) can never bear such fruit
Of honour, wealth, and power to make them sweet;
Not every one such happiness can meet.

CAT.  Some weight your argument, my Laelius, bears,
But not so much as at first sight appears. 
This answer by Themistocles was made,
(When a Seriphian thus did him upbraid,
’You those great honours to your country owe,
Not to yourself’)-’Had I at Seripho[3] 70
Been born, such honour I had never seen,
Nor you, if an Athenian you had been;’
So age, clothed in indecent poverty,
To the most prudent cannot easy be;
But to a fool, the greater his estate,
The more uneasy is his age’s weight. 
Age’s chief arts and arms are to grow wise,
Virtue to know, and known, to exercise;
All just returns to age then virtue makes, 79
Nor her in her extremity forsakes;
The sweetest cordial we receive at last,
Is conscience of our virtuous actions past. 
I (when a youth) with reverence did look
On Quintus Fabius, who Tarentum took;
Yet in his age such cheerfulness was seen,
As if his years and mine had equal been;
His gravity was mix’d with gentleness,
Nor had his age made his good humour less;
Then was he well in years (the same that he
Was Consul that of my nativity), 90
(A stripling then), in his fourth consulate
On him at Capua I in arms did wait. 
I five years after at Tarentum wan
The quaestorship, and then our love began;
And four years after, when I praetor was,
He pleaded, and the Cincian law[4] did pass. 
With useful diligence he used t’engage,
Yet with the temperate arts of patient age
He breaks fierce Hannibal’s insulting heats;
Of which exploit thus our friend Ennius treats:  100
He by delay restored the commonwealth,
Nor preferr’d rumour before public health.

[1] This piece is adapted from Cicero, ‘De Seucctute.’ [2] ‘Two consuls’:  Caius Salinator, Spurius Albinus. [3] ‘Seripho’:  an isle to which condemned men were banished. [4] ‘Cincian law’:  against bribes.

THE ARGUMENT.

When I reflect on age, I find there are Four causes, which its misery declare. 1.  Because our body’s strength it much impairs:  2.  That it takes off our minds from great affairs:  3.  Next, that our sense of pleasure it deprives:  4.  Last, that approaching death attends our lives.

Of all these sev’ral causes I’ll discourse, 109
And then of each, in order, weigh the force.

THE FIRST PART.

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Poetical Works of Edmund Waller and Sir John Denham from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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