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Fortune, we most unjustly partial call, a mistress free, who bids alike to all; but on such terms as only suit the base, honour denies and shuns the foul embrace. The honest man, who starves and is undone, nor fortune, but his virtue keeps him down. Had Cato bent beneath the conquering cause, he might have liv'd to give new senates laws; but on vile terms disdaining to be great, he perish'd by his choice, and not his fate. Honours and life, th' usurper bids, and all that vain mistaken men good-fortune call, virtue forbids, and sets before his eyes an honest death, which he accepts, and dies: O glorious resolution! noble pride!
more honour'd, than the tyrant liv'd, he dy'd; more lov'd, more prais'd, more envy'd in his doom, than Cæsar trampling on the rights of Rome. The virtuous nothing fear, but life with shame, and death's a pleasant road that leads to fame. On bones, and scraps of dogs let me be fed, my limbs uncover'd, and expos'd my head to bleakest colds, a kennel be my bed. This, and all other matyrdom for thee, seems glorious, all, thrice beautious honesty! judge me, ye powers! let fortune tempt or frown I stand prepar'd, my honour is my own. Ye great disturbers, who in endless noise, in blood and rapine seek unnatural joys; for what is all this bustle but to shun those thoughts with which you dare not be alone? As men in misery, opprest with care, seek in the rage of wine to drown despair. Let others fight, and eat their bread in blood,
regardless if the cause be bad or good;
rich in himself, in virtue that outshines
Farewell then cities, courts, and camps, farewell,
how sweet the morn! how gentle is the night!
From hence, as from a hill, I view below the crowded world, a mighty wood in show, where several wanderers travel day and night, by different paths, and none are in the right.
Corinna, in the bloom of youth
But now grown old, she would repair
But love's a summer flower, that dies
the lover, like the swallow, flies
from sun to sun still ranging.
Myra, let this example move
MEDITATION ON DEATH.
Enough, enough, my soul, of worldly noise, of aëry pomps, and fleeting joys; what does this busy world provide at best,
but brittle goods that break like glass, but poison'd sweets, a troubled feast,
and pleasures like the winds, that in a moment pass? thy thoughts to nobler meditations give,
and study how to die, not how to live.
How frail is beauty? Ah! how vain, and how short-liv'd those glories are, that vex our nights and days with pain, and break our hearts with care!
in dust we no distinction see,
such Helen is, such, Myra, thou must be. How short is life? why will vain courtiers toil, and crowd a vainer monarch, for a smile? what is that monarch, but a mortal man, his crown a pageant, and his life a span ? with all his guards and his dominions, he must sicken too, and die as well as we. Those boasted names of conquerors and kings are swallow'd, and become forgotten things: one destin'd period men in common have, the great, the base, the coward, and the brave, all food alike for worms, companions in the grave. The prince and parasite together lie,
no fortune can exalt, but death will climb as high.
Since truth and constancy are vain,
In courts and cities, could you see
were all the curtains drawn, you'd find
with wine, provoking mirth and wit,
then down they take the stubborn bow,
their strength, it seems, she needs must know.