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How little things give law to great! we see
180 The Samnites' chiefs, as by his fire he sat, With a vast sum of gold on him did wait; " Return,” said he “ your gold I nothing weigh, " When those who can command it me obey." This my assertion proves
That honour and authority which dwells
195 With Age, ali pleasures of our youth excels. Observe that I that Age have only prais’d Whose pillars were on youth's foundations rais d, And that (for which I great applause receiv?d) As a true maxiin hath been since believ’d.
200 That most unhappy Age great pity needs, Which to defend itself new matter pleads, Not from grey hairs authority doth How, Nor from bald heads, nor from a wrinkled brow, But our past life, when virtuously spent, 205 Must to our Age those happy fruits present. Those things to Age most honourable are Which easy, common, and but light appear, Salutes, consulting, compliment, resort, Crowding attendance to and from the court: and not on Rome alone this honour waits, But on all civil and well-govern'd states. Lysander pleading in his city's praise, From thence his strongest argument did raise, That Sparta did with honour Age support, 225 Paying them just respect at stage and court : But at proud Athens youth did Age outface, Nor at the plays would rise or give them place, When an Athenian stranger of great Age Arriv'd at Sparta, climbing up the stage, To him the whole assembly rose, and ran To place and ease this old and reverend man,
Who thus his thanks returns, “ 'Th' Athenians
Of Age's avarice I cannot see
THE FOURTH PART.
Death's force (with terror) against Nature strives, Nor one of many to ripe Age arrives.
15 From this ill fate the world's disorders rise, For if all men were old they would be wise. Years and experience our forefathers taught; Them under laws and into cities brought. Why only should the fear of death belong To Age, which is as common to the young? Your hopeful brothers, and my son, to you, Scipio, and me, this maxim makes too true. But vig'rous youth may his gay thoughts erect 25 To many years, which Age must not expect. But when he sees his airy hopes deceiv’d, With grief he says, Who this would have believ'd ? We happier are than they who but desir'd To possess that which we long since acquir'd. 30 What if our Age to Nestor's could extend ? 'Tis vain to think that lasting which must end; And when 'tis past, not any part remains Thereof but the reward which virtue gains. Days, months, and years, like running waters flow, Nor what is past nor what's to come we know. 36 Our date, how short soe'er, must us content. When a good actor doth his part present, In ev'ry act he our attention draws, That at the last he may find just applause ; So tho' but short, yet we must learn the art Of virtue on this stage to act our part.