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shall be a farmer. Do you depart one way, and ye another, having exchanged the parts you are to act in life. How now! Why do you stand?" They are unwilling and yet it is in their power to be happy. What reason then can be assigned, but that Jupiter should deservedly distend both his cheeks in indignation, and declare that for the future he will not be so indulgent as to lend an ear to their prayers ?
But farther, that I may not run over this in a laughing manner, like those who treat on ludicrous subjects (though what hinders one being merry, and telling the truth? as goodnatured teachers at first give cakes to their boys, that they may be willing to learn their first rudiments: raillery, however, apart, let us investigate serious matters.) He that turns the lumpish glebe with the hard plough-share, this fraudulent adulterator of the law, the soldier, and the sailors who dauntless run through every sea, profess that they endure toil with this intention, that as old men they may retire into a secure resting-place, when once they have gotten together a sufficient provision.
Thus the little ant (for she may serve for an example) of great industry, carries in her mouth whatever she is able, and adds to her heap, which she piles up, by no means ignorant and not careless for the future. Which ant nevertheless, as soon as Aquarius saddens the inverted year, never creeps abroad, but wisely makes use of those stores which were provided beforehand: while neither sultry summer, nor winter, fire, ocean, sword, can drive you from the pursuit of gain. You surmount every obstacle, that no other man may be richer than yourself. But what pleasure is it for you, anxious to deposit an immense weight of silver and gold in the earth dug up by stealth, to hide it? Which, if you should lessen it, may be reduced in time to a paltry farthing.
But, unless that be the case, what beauty has an accumulated hoard? Though your threshing-floor should yield a hundred thousand bushels of corn, your belly will not on that account contain more than mine: just as if were your lot to carry on your loaded shoulder the basket of bread among slaves, you would receive no more for your own share, than he who bore no part of the burthen. Or tell me, what it is to the purpose of that man, who lives within the compass of nature, whether he plough a hundred or a thousand acres?
Mille aret? At suave est ex magno tollere acervo.?
Vel cyatho; et dicas, Magno de flumine malim, 55 Quàm ex hoc fonticulo tantundem sumere.' Eò fit, Plenior ut si quos delectet copia justo,
Cum ripâ simul avulsos ferat Aufidus acer :
At qui tantuli eget, quanto est opus, is neque limo Turbatam haurit aquam, neque vitam amittit in undis. At bona pars hominum decepta cupidine falso, 61 • Nil satis est,' inquit: quia tanti, quantum habeas, sis.'
Quid facias illi? Jubeas miserum
Sic solitus: Populus me sibilat; at mihi plaudo
Flumina. Quid rides?
Mutato nomine, de te
"But it is still delightful to take out of a great hoard. ' While you leave us to take as much out of a moderate store, why should you extol your great granaries, more than our smaller repositories? As if you had occasion for no more than a pitcher or glass of water, and should say, "I had rather draw so much from a great river, than the same quantity from this little fountain." Hence it comes, that the rapid Aufidus carries away, together with the bank, such as an abundance more copious than what is just, delights. But he, who desires only so much as is sufficient, neither drinks his water fouled with the mud, nor loses his life in the waves.
But a great majority of mankind, misled by depraved desire, cry, "No sum is enough; because you are esteemed in proportion to what you possess." What can one do to such a tribe as this? Why, bid them be wretched, since their inclination prompts them to it. As a certain person is recorded to have lived at Athens, covetous and rich, who was wont to despise the talk of the people in this manner: "The crowd hiss me abroad; but I applaud myself at home, as soon as I contemplate my money in my chest." The thirsty Tantalus catches at the streams, which elude his lips. Why do you laugh? The name changed, and the tale is told of you. You sleep upon your bags, heaped up on every side, greedily gaping over them, and are obliged to abstain from them, as if they were consecrated things, or to amuse yourself with them, as you would with pictures. Are you ignorant of what real value money has, what use it can afford? Bread, herbs, a bottle of wine, may be purchased with it; to which necessaries add such others as, being withheld, human nature would be uneasy with itself. What, to watch half-dead with terror, night and day, to dread profligate thieves, fire, and your slaves, lest they should run away and plunder you; is this delightful? As for me, I should always wish to be very poor in possessions held upon these terms.
But if your body should be disordered by being seized with a cold, or any other casualty should confine you to your bed; you have one that will abide by you, prepare medicines, entreat the physician that he would set you upon your feet, and restore you to your children and dear relations.
❤ Sextarius, which is here rendered a bottle, was about one and a half pint of our measure.
Non uxor salvum te vult, non filius; omnes
Quid mi igitur suades? Ut vivam Mænius? aut
Ut Nomentanus?' Pergis pugnantia secum
Illuc, unde abii, redeo. Nemon' ut avarus Se probet, ac potiùs laudet diversa sequentes? Quódque aliena capella gerat distentius uber Tabescat? neque se ‡ majori pauperiorum Turbæ comparet? hunc atque hunc superare laboret?
Sic festinanti semper locupletior obstat:
+ Qui tam. Bentl.
Neither your wife nor your son desires your recovery; all your neighbours, acquaintance, nay the very boys and girls, hate you. And do you wonder that no one tenders you the affection, which you by no means merit, since you prefer your money to every thing else? But if you think to retain, and preserve as friends, the relations which nature gives you, without taking any pains: wretch that you are, you lose your labour equally, as if any one should train an ass to be obedient to the rein and run in the Campus Martius. Finally, let there be some end to your searching after riches: and, since you have more than enough, be in less dread of poverty; and begin to cease from your toil, that being acquired which you coveted: nor do as did one Umidius (it is no tedious story,) who was so rich that he measured his money, but so sordid that he never clothed himself any better than a slave; and, even to his last moments, was in dread lest want of bread should starve him: but his freed-woman, the bravest of all the daughters of Tyndarus, cut him in two with a hatchet.
"What therefore do you persuade me to? That I should lead the life of a Mænius †? or in such a manner as a Nomentanus ?"
You are going now to make things tally, that are contradictory in their natures. When I bid you not be a miser, I do not order you to become a spendthrift and a prodigal. There is some difference, surely, between the case of Tanaïs and his son-in-law Visellius: There is a mean in all things: finally, there are certain boundaries, on either side of which moral rectitude cannot exist. But I return now, whence I digressed. Does no one, after the miser's example, like his own station, but rather praise those who have different pursuits; and pines, because his neighbour's she-goat bears a more distended udder; nor considers himself in relation to the greater multitude of poor; but labours to surpass, first one and then another? Thus the richer man is always an obstacle to one, that is hastening to be rich as when the courser whirls along the
Helen and Clytemnestra, the daughters of Tyndarus, killed their husbands, Deiphobus and Agamemnon, with this weapon. Ordo: Liberta fortissima Tyndaridarum divisit hunc medium securi. (Sanct. Minerva, 1V, xi. 725.)
+ Mænius and Nomentanus, two infamous prodigals.
Tanaïs and Visellius, two persons labouring under ailments of very opposite natures.