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sounds an alarm on his stairs, then perhaps such a one, (broken in thoughts of his moneys abroad, and cursing the monuments of coin which are in his house), can be content to think of death, and (being hasty of perdition) will perhaps hang himself, lest his throat should be cut; provided that he may do it in his study, surrounded with wealth, to which his eye sends a faint and languishing salute, even upon the turning off; remembering always, that he have time and liberty, by writing, to depute himself as his own heir.
For that is a great peace to his end, and reconciles him wonderfully upon the point.
Herein we all dally with ourselves, and are without proof of necessity.1 I am not of those that dare promise to pine away myself in vain-glory, and I hold such to be but feat boldness, and them that dare commit it to be vain. Yet for my part, I think nature should do me great wrong, if I should be so long in dying, as I was in being born.2
To speak truth, no man knows the lists of his own patience; nor can divine how able he shall be in his sufferings, till the storm come, (the perfectest virtue being tried in action,) but I would (out of a care to do the best business well) ever keep a guard, and stand upon keeping faith and a good conscience.
And if wishes might find place, I would die together, and not my mind often, and my body once; that is, I would prepare for the messengers of death, sickness and affliction, and not wait long, or be attempted by the violence of pain.
1 So the original. Modern editions read "till necessity:" probably a conjectural correction; and (I suspect) not the true reading. 3 them in the last sentence, and yet in this, are omitted in the original.
Herein I do not profess myself a Stoic, to hold grief no evil, but opinion, and a thing indifferent.
But I consent with Cagsar, that the suddenest passage is easiest, and there is nothing more awakens our resolve and readiness to die, than the quieted conscience, strengthened with opinion that we shall be well spoken of upon earth by those that are just, and of the family of virtue; the opposite whereof is a fury to man, and makes even life unsweet.
Therefore, what is more heavy than evil fame deserved? Or, likewise, who can see worse days, than he that yet living doth follow at the funerals of his own reputation?
I have laid up many hopes, that I am privileged from that kind of mourning, and could wish the like peace to all those with whom I wage love.
I might say much of the commodities that death can sell a man; but briefly, death is a friend of ours, and he that is not ready to entertain him, is not at home. Whilst I am, my ambition is not to fore-flow the tide; I have but so to make my interest of it, as I may account for it; I would wish nothing but what might better my days, nor desire any greater place than the front of good opinion. I make not love to the continuance of days, but to the goodness of them; nor wish to die, but refer myself to my hour, which the great dispenser of all things hath appointed me; yet as I am frail, and suffered for the first fault, were it given me to choose, I should not be earnest to see the evening of my age; that extremity of itself being a disease, and a mere return into infancy: so that if perpetuity of life might be given me, I should think what the Greek poet said, Such an age is a mortal evil. And since I must needs be dead, I require it may not be done before mine enemies, that I be not stript before I be cold; but before my friends. The night was even now; but that name is lost; it is not now late, but early. Mine eyes begin to discharge their watch, and compound with this fleshly weakness for a time of perpetual rest; and I shall presently be as happy for a few hours, as I had died the first hour I was born.