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painful to them both and is seldom beneficial to any man while he lives. What it is to him after his death I cannot say, because I love not philosophy merely notional and conjectural, and no man who has made the experiment has been so kind as to come back to inform us. Upon the whole matter, I account a person who has a moderate mind and fortune, and lives in the conversation of two or three agreeable friends with little commerce in the world besides, who is esteemed well enough by his few neighbours that know him, and is truly irreproachable by anybody; and so after a healthful quiet life before the great inconveniences of old age, goes more silently out of it than he came in (for I would not have him so much as cry in his exit); this innocent deceiver of the world, as Horace calls him, this muta persona, I take to have been more happy in his part than the greatest actors that fill the stage with show and noise, nay even than Augustus himself, who asked with his last breath whether he had not played his farce very well.'”
We find another graceful bit of autobiography in an Essay addressed to Evelyn, and called “The Garden :" “I never had
other desire so strong and so like to covetousness, as that one wbich I have had always that I might be master at last of a small house and large garden, with very moderate conveniences joined to them, and there dedicate the
remainder of my life only to the culture of them and study of nature;
' And there, (with no design beyond my wall) whole and
entire to lie, In no unactive ease and no unglorious poverty;
or, as Virgil has said, shorter and better for me, that I might there
“«Studiis florere ignobilis oti.'
(Although I could wish that he had rather said, • nobilis oti,' when he spoke of his own). But several accidents of
ill-fortune have disappointed me hitherto, and do still of that felicity ; for though I have made the first and hardest step to it by abandoning all ambitions and hopes in this world, and by retiring from the noise of all business, and almost company, yet I stick still in the inn of a hired house and garden amongst weeds and rubbish; and without that pleasantest work of human industry, the improvement of something which we call (not very properly, but yet we call) our I am gone out from Sodom, but I am not yet arrived at my little Zoar.
0 let me escape thither (is it not a little one ?) and my soul shall live. I do not look back yet, but I have been forced to stop and make too many halts. You
may wonder, Sir, (for this seems a little too extravagant and pindarical for prose), what I mean by all this preface; it is to let you know that though I have missed, like a chemist, my great end, yet I account my affections and endeavours well rewarded by something that I have met with, by the bye, which is, that they have procured to me some part in your kindness and esteem.”
Here is a fine passage from the Essay “Of Solitude :" *** "Happy had it been for Hannibal, if adversity could have taught him as much wisdom as was learnt by Scipio from the highest prosperities. This would be no wonder, if it were as truly as it is colourably and wittily said by Monsieur de Montaigne, That ambition itself might teach us to love solitude; there is nothing that does so much hate to have companions. It is true it loves to have its elbows free; it detests to have company on either side ; but it delights, above all things, in a train behind, ay, and a cheer too before it. And the greatest part of men are so far from the opinion of that noble Roman, that if they chance to be at any time without company they are like a becalmed ship; they never move but by the wind of other men's breath, and have no oars of their own to steer withal.”
The whole Essay “Of Liberty” is full of the happiest adaptations of classical examples to Cowley's
peculiar views. He speedily dismisses the public side of the question, and enlarges on the slavery to which ambitious men (Catiline unfortunate in his ambition, Cæsar prosperous) voluntary subject themselves in the pursuit of their object. There are in this eloquent discourse many felicitous translations from Cicero and Sallust, which taken with the specimens of Anacreon (which my readers will find further on), may lead us to lament deeply that in that age of translators, Cowley did not devote his cherished leisure to versions of some of the great masters of antiquity, especially the orators and historians.
I prefer however to give an extract from the curious fragment which he has entitled “On the Government of Oliver Cromwell;" a strange vision, of which the whole tenor is strongly against the Great Protector, but into the midst of which, put it is true, into the mouth of a bad angel, the following character of Cromwell is introduced as if by an instinct of truth and candour which the writer found it impossible to resist. Hume has inserted this character “altered," as he says, “in some particulars,” in his history. Why altered ? The Scottish historian is a most clear and pleasant narrator, but surely he does not pretend to improve Cowley's prose. I give it from the original. The spokesman is the evil angel:
"And pray, countryman,” said he, very kindly and
very flatteringly, “for I would not have you fall into the general error of the world, that detests and decries so extraordinary a virtue, what can be more extraordinary than that a person of mean birth, no fortune, no eminent qualities of body, which have sometimes, or of mind which have often, raised men to the highest dignities, should have the courage to attempt, and the happiness to succeed in so improbable a design as the destruction of one of the most ancient and most solidly-founded monarchies upon the earth ? that he should have the power or boldness to put his Prince and master to an open and infamous death; to banish that numerous and strongly-allied family; to do all this under the name and wages of a Parliament; to trample upon them too as he pleased, and spurn them out of doors when he grew weary of them; to raise up a new and unheard-of monster out of their ashes; to stifle that in the very infancy, and set up himself above all things that ever were called Sovereigns in England; to oppress all his enemies by arms, and all his friends afterwards by artifice; to serve all parties patiently for awhile, and to command them victoriously at last ; to overrun each corner of the three nations, and overcome with equal facility both the riches of the south and the poverty of the north ; to be feared and courted by all foreign princes, and adopted a brother to the gods of the earth; to call together Parliaments with a word of