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I pretend not to the wise ones,
TO THE READER. CAN neither call this piece Tully’s nor my own, being much altered from the original, not only by the change of the style, but by addition and subtraction. I believe you will be better pleased to receive it, as I did, at the first sight; for to me Cicero did not so much appear to write, as Cato to speak ; and, to do right to my author, I believe no character of any per son was ever better drawn to the life than this. Therefore neither consider Cicero nor me, but Cato himself who being then raised from the dead to speak the language of that age and place, neither the distance of place or time makes it less possible to raise him now to speak ours.
Thongh I dare not compare my copy with the orie ginal, yet you will find it mentioned here how much fruits are improved by graffing ; and here, by graffing verse upon prose, some of these severer arguments may receive a more mild and pleasant taste.
Cato says (in another place) of himself, that he learned to speak Greek between the seventieth and eightieth year of his age ; beginning that so late, he may not yet be too old to learn English, being now but between his seventeenth and eighteenth hundred year. For these reasons I shall leave to this piece no other name than what the author gave it, of Cato Major,
That learned critic, the younger Scaliger, comparing the two great orators, says, that nothing can be taken from Demosthenes, nor added to Tully; and if there be any fault in the last, it is the resumption or dwelling too long upon his arguments : for which reason, having intended to translate this piece into prose, (where translation ought to be strict) finding the matter very proper for verse, I took the liberty to leave out what was only necessary to that age and place, and to take or add what was proper to this present age and occasion, by laying his sense closer, and in fewer words, according to the style and ear of these times. The three first parts I dedicate to my old friends, to take off those melancholy reflections which the sense of age, infirmity, and death may give them. The last part I think necessary for the conviction of those many who believe not, or at least mind not, the immortality of the soul, of which the Scripture speaks only positively as a lawgiver, with an ipse dixit; but it may be, they neither believe that, (from which they either make doubts or sport) nor those whose business it is to interpret it, supposing they do it only for their own ends : but if a Heathen philosoplier bring such arguments from reason, Nature, and second causes, which none of our Atheistical sophisters can confute, if they may stand convinced that there is an imidortality of the soul, I hope they will so weigh the consequences as neither to talk nor live as if there was no such thing.
CATO, SCIPIO, LÆLIUS.
SCIPIO. Tho'all the actions, of your
life are crown'd With wisdom, nothing makes them more renown'd Than that those years, which others think extreme, Nor to yourself nor us uneasy seem, Under which weight most like th' old giants groan, When Ætna on their backs by Jove was thrown. 6
CAT. What you urge, Scipio, from right reason All parts of Age seem burthensome to those [flows; Who virtue's and true wisdom's happiness Cannot discern ; but they who those possess, In what's impos?d by Nature find no grief, Of which our Age is (next our death) the chief, Which tho' all equally desire t' obtain, Yet when they have obtain'd it they complain : Such our inconstancies and follies are,
IS We say it steals upon us unaware. Our want of reas’ning these false measures makes ; Youth runs to Age, as childhood youth o’ertakes. How much more grievous would our lives appear To reach th'eighth hundred than the eightieth year? Of what in that long space of time hath past To foolish Age will no remembrance last. My Age's conduct when you seem t'admire, (Which that it may deserve I much desire)
first rule on Nature, as my guide 25
LÆl. But, Sir, 'tis Scipio's and my desire,
Car. This I resolv'd before, but now shall do
LÆl. If to yourself it will not tedious prove,
Cat. 'Tis true, (as the old proverb doth relate)
50 Else this might me concern, and all my friends, Whose cheerful Age with honour youth attends,
* Caius Salinator, Spurius Albinus.