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thou morest, yet thy soul is buried within thee, and thy good angel either forsakes his guard, or sleeps. There is nothing under heaven, saving a true friend, (who cannot be counted within the number of inovables,) unto which my heart doth lean. And this dear freedom hath begotten me this peace, that I mourn not for that end which must be, nor spend one wish to have one minute added to the uncertain date of my years. It was no mean apprehension of Lucian, who says of Menippus, that in his travels through hell, he knew not the kings of the earth from other men but only by their louder cryings and tears, which were fostered in them through the remorseful memory of the good days they had seen, and the fruitful havings which they so unwillingly left behind them. He that was well seated, looked back at his portion, and was loath to forsake his farm ; and others, either minding marriages, pleasures, profit, or preferment, desired to be excused from death's banquet. They had made an appointment with earth, looking at the blessings, not the hand that enlarged them, forgetting how unclothedly they came hither, or with what naked ornaments they were arrayed.
5. But were we servants of the precept given, and observers of the heathens' rule, Memento mori, and not become benighted with this seeming felicity, we should enjoy it as men prepared to lose, and not wind up our thoughts upon so perishing a fortune. He that is not slackly strong, (as the servants of pleasure,) how can he be found unready to quit the veil and false visage of his perfection ? The soul having shaken off her flesh, doth then set up for herself, and, contemning things that are under, shows what finger hath enforced her; for the souls of idiots are of the same piece with those of statesmen, but now and then nature is at a fault, and this good guest of ours takes soil in an imperfect body, and so is slackened from showing her wonders, like an excellent musician, which cannot utter himself upon a defective instrument.
6. But see how I am swerved, and lose my course, touching at the soul that doth least hold action with death, who hath the surest property in this frail act; his style is the end of all flesh, and the beginning of incorruption.
This ruler of monuments leads men, for the most part, out of this world with their heels forward, in token that he is contrary to life, which, being obtained, sends men headlong into this wretched theatre, where, being arrived, their first language is that of mourning. Nor, in my own thoughts, can I compare men more fitly to any thing than to the Indian fig-tree, which, being ripened to his full height, is said to decline his branches down to the earth, whereof she conceives again, and they become roots in their own stock.
So man, having derived his being from the earth, first lives the life of a tree, drawing his nourishment as a plant, and made ripe for death, he tends downwards, and is sown again in his mother the earth, where he perisheth not, but expects a quickening.
7. So we see death exempts not a man from being, but only presents an alteration ; yet there are some men (I think) that stand otherwise persuaded. Death finds not a worse friend than an alderman, to whose door I never knew him welcome; but he is an importunate guest, and will not be said nay.
And though they themselves shall affirm that they are not within, yet the answer will not be taken; and that which heightens their fear is, that they know they are in danger to forfeit their flesh, but are not wise of the payment-day, which sickly uncertainty is the occasion that (for the most part) they step out of this world unfurnished for their general account, and, being all unprovided, desire yet to hold their gravity, preparing their souls to answer in scarlet.
Thus I gather, that death is unagreeable to most citizens, because they commonly die intestate; this being a rule, that when their will is made, they think themselves nearer a grave than before. Now they, out of the wisdom of thousands, think to scare destiny, from which there is no appeal, by not making a wi!), or to live longer by protestation of their unwillingness to die. They are, for the most part, well made in this world, (accounting their treasure by legions, as men do devils.) Their fortune looks towards them, and they are willing to anchor at it, and desire (if it be possible) to put the evil day far off from them, and to adjourn their ungrateful and killing period.
No, these are not the men which have bespoken death, or whose looks are assured to entertain a thought of him.
8. Death arrives gracious only to such as sit in darkness, or lie heavy burdened with grief and irons ; to the poor Christian, that sits bound in the galley; to despairful widows, pensive prisoners, and deposed kings; to them whose fortune runs back, and whose spirits mutiny: unto such, death is a redeemer, and the grave a place for retiredness and rest.
These wait upon the shore of death, and waft unto him to draw near, wishing above all others to see his star, that they might be led to his place; wooing the remorseless sisters to wind down the watch
of their life, and to break them off before the hour.
9. But death is a doleful messenger to a usurer, and fate untimely cuts their thread ; for it is never mentioned by him, but when rumors of war and civil tumults put him in mind thereof.
And when many hands are armed, and the peace of a city in disorder, and the foot of the common soldiers 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.
10. Herein we all dally with ourselves, and are without proof of necessity. I am not of those, that dare promise to pine away myself in vainglory, 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.
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.
11. 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.
Herein I do not profess myself a Stoic, to hold grief no evil, but opinion, and a thing indifferent.
But I consent with Cæsar, that the suddenest passage is easiest, and there is nothing more awakens our resolve and readiness to die than the qui. eted 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.
12. 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 foreflow 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