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allied chiefs with judicial blindness,” in order, however, that the mighty drama might end in a deeper tragedy, a still more righteous and fearful retribution. Dryden's couplet is in constant request, for stock quotation purposes :
“For those whom God to ruin has designed,
He fits for fate, and first destroys their mind ;" being, as it is, a sufficiently literal version of the Euripidean fragment, "Orav dè daiuwv åvdpi Tupoúvn Kakà, Tòv voûvéßlaye πρώτον.
It is of Dryden's Ahithophel, the first Earl of Shaftesbury, that Macaulay observes, that he who had become a byword, for the certainty with which he foresaw and the suppleness with which he evaded danger,—at the last, when beset on every side with snares and death, seemed to be smitten with a blindness as strange as his former clear sightedness, and, turning neither to the right hand nor to the left, strode on with desperate hardihood to his doom.
It is with a sort of rage at the inaptitude of “King James the Third,” that his sometime adherent, Colonel Esmond, thinks of his melancholy story. “Do the Fates deal more specially with kings than with common men? One is apt to imagine so, in considering the history of that royal race, in whose behalf so much fidelity, so much valour, so much blood were desperately and bootlessly expended.” So writes Southey in 1824 of two other royal dynasties : “With regard both to the Braganzas and the Spanish Bourbons, I fear Jupiter has determined to destroy them; for he has certainly taken away their senses.”
To another class of reprobate minds apply Sir Henry Taylor's lines—the truth of which is signally enforced by every police court register and Newgate Calendar:
“ That Providence which makes the good take heed
To safety and success, contrariwise
As shall constrain you to pronounce that guilt
THE SIN OF YOUTH IN THE BONES OF ELD.
JOB xx. 11. C XPOSITORS differ in their exposition of a text in which
L so material a word as “the sin ” is supplied by our translators. “His bones are full of the sin of his youth, which shall lie down with him in the dust”—the italicised words not occurring in the original. The Vulgate version is in favour of ours, “ His bones are full of the sins of his youth”; while the Septuagint has it, “His bones are full of his youth”; in accordance with which rendering Gesenius and others take the passage to mean, full of vigour, so that the man is cut off in his physical prime. Dr. Good's reading is, “His secret sins shall follow his bones, yea, they shall press upon him in the dust.” Others take the literal Hebrew, “ His bones are full of secret things,” to refer to the hidden, long cherished faults of his life, the corrupt habits secretly indulged, which would “adhere to him, leaving a withering influence on his whole system in advancing years"; "his secret lusts would work his certain ruin,” the effect being that which, as a popular commentator says, is so often seen, when vices corrupt the very physical frame, and where the results are traced far on in future life. In this sense be the text accepted here.
Graphic, after the manner of the man, is Dr. South's picture of the old age that comes to wait upon what he calls a “great and worshipful sinner," who for many years together has had the reputation of eating well and doing ill. “It comes (as it ought to do to a person of such quality) attended with a long train and retinue of rheums, coughs, catarrhs, and dropsies, together with many painful girds and achings, which are at least called the gout. How does such a one go about, or is carried rather, with his body bending inward, his head shaking, and his eyes always watering (instead of weeping) for the sins of his ill spent youth! In a word, old age seizes upon such a person like fire upon a rotten house; it was rotten before, and must have fallen of itself, so that it is no more but one ruin preventing another." Virtue, we are admonished, is a friend and a help to nature; but it is vice and luxury that destroy it, and the diseases of intemperance are the natural product of the sins of intemperance. “ Chastity makes no work for a chirurgeon, nor ever ends in rottenness of bones.” Whereas, sin is the fruitful parent of distempers, and ill lives occasion good physicians. South pictures the husbandman returning from the field, strong and healthy, because innocent and laborious: you will find “no diet drinks, no boxes of pills, nor gallipots, among his provisions ”; his sleep is certain and refreshing, neither interrupted with the lashes of a guilty mind, nor with the aches of a crazy body; and when old age comes upon him, it comes alone, bringing no other evil with it but itself.
Cicero, in his work and labour of love “ De Senectute," over and over again insists upon this view of the question. Exercise and temperance, he says in one place, may preserve to us some measure of our youthful strength, even in old age : “ Potest exercitatio et temperantia etiam in senectute conservare aliquid pristini roboris.” Again, he urges the reminder that loss of strength is more frequently the fault of youth than of old age : “Defectio virium adolescentiæ vitiis efficitur sæpius quam senectutis"; and that a youth of sensuality and intemperance transmits to old age a worn out, used up body: “Libidinosa et intemperans adolescentia effætum corpus tradit senectuti." You must become an old man betimes, if you would be an old man long, runs the Latin adage; implying that you must put an early stop on the irregularities of young blood if you care to attain length of days: “Maturè fias senex, si diu velis esse senex.” Another Latin proverb, “Quæ peccamus juvenes, ea luimus senes,” we pay when old for our misdoings when young, has been paraphrased by
Colton : "The excesses of youth are bills drawn by Time, payable thirty years after date, with interest.” Pope is paraphrasing Horace when he puts the query,—
“For fainting age what cordial drop remains,
If our intemperate youth the vessel drains ?”? When John Kemble wrote to his youngest brother, Charles, in reference to the death of their father, and expressed his wishes as to “protecting his remains by a simple stone,” he at the same time earnestly enjoined that the old man's advanced age should be mentioned in the inscription ; for “long life implies virtuous habits, and they are real honours.” It was of an actor stricken in years, but memorably sprightly and vivacious, that Leigh Hunt was treating when he pronounced it to be by no means necessary to turn hermit and live upon roots in order to secure a healthy and animated old age; temperance is the strengthener of existence equally in the city and in the field ; and the powers of this mercurial veteran “will not astonish those who have considered the matter; but they will astonish every one who has an impaired memory or a shaking hand; they will astonish those old men who cannot carry a glass of wine to their lips without making all the angles in Euclid.” The then youthful Leontius, for his part, when he saw what vigour temperance could conserve, and what decrepitude a dissolute heyday involved; when he saw an old man who wore a star and was called His Grace, tottering and coughing upon a bolstered pony, and another old man, whom nobody could discover to be old, treading the boards with the springy step
i To Pope was Swift writing when he said : “ Pray God continue and increase Mr. Congreve's amendment, though he does not deserve it like you, having been lavish of that health which nature gave him." The health which nature had given Pope was frail indeed.
Locke's health, observes one of his biographers, though always delicate, had not been disturbed by any imprudences; so that he reached the age of seventy-two—a good ripe age for one who had studied and thought.
Of the great Russian Marshal Suwarrow we are told, that, although of a weak constitution, he kept himself hale by exercise and regimen, and that, owing to his temperate mode of life, he preserved his vigour even in his old age.
and the animal spirits of one-and-twenty-he blessed his good fortune that he had to labour for his daily bread, and said to himself how much better it was to keep his health than to waste his substance and himself in riotous living.
Gibbon's honourable record of Constantine is, that from his earliest youth to a very advanced season of life, he preserved the vigour of his constitution by a strict adherence to the “domestic virtues of chastity and temperance"; and of Andronicus, one of the most conspicuous men of his time, whose genuine adventures might form the subject of a very singular romance, that “the preservation, in his old age, of health and vigour, was the reward of temperance and exercise.” Macaulay tells us of Marshal Schomberg, who at fourscore “retained a strong relish for innocent pleasures,” that in youth his habits had been temperate," and his temperance had its proper reward—a singularly green and vigorous old age." He might have said, with Chaucer's ancient man,
“I fele me no where hoar but on myn head.
As laurer through the year is for to seene." Or with the lusty and well-liking knight of a later author, who claims to have still the feelings of a boy, the freshness and the glow of spring time, not without a relish still for his young schooldays' sports
“Could whip a top, could shoot at taw, could play
At prison-bars and leapfrog-if I might-
With quite as supple will.” Better known is Cowley's portraiture of an eminent contemporary :
“Nor can the snow which now cold age does shed
Upon thy reverend head
But all which thou hast been,
So fully still dost thou