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spirit in the decline of life, and of turning it to excellent account. Who has not remarked the prodigious activity of the old French curate, the old Catholic gentleman, who has some great interest of religion, or of his country, or of mankind at heart, and who, when surprise is expressed at his evincing such sustained energy, will reply perhaps with Cicero, saying, “ Nihil autem magis cavendum est senectuti, quam ne languori se desidiæque dedat *;" or point at the brave old oak, and repeat the lines alluding to it,
“ Its leaf, though late in spring it shares
The zephyr’s gentle sigh,
A deeper, richer dye.
It opes not at a breath,
Until it sinks in death ?” What an indomitable spirit in braving every danger and embracing suffering is displayed by those aged confessors of the faith who rise up from time to time in the Catholic Church to astonish a persecuting government, and edify the whole of Christendom, as in the instance of Vicari, the octogenarian archbishop of Fribourg, at the present moment! England, in the time of her troubles, had many such examples. Father Forrest, the director of Queen Catherine, writing to her from Newgate, used these words, which his death did not belie : “ Christ Jesu give you, daughter and lady mine, above all mortal delights, which are of brief continuance, the joy of seeing his divine presence for evermore! Pray that I may fight the battle to which I am called, and finally overcome. Would it become this white beard and these hoary locks to give way in aught that concerns the glory of God? Would it become, lady mine, an old man to be appalled with childish fear who has seen sixty-four years of life, and forty of those has worn the habit of the glorious St. Francis? Weaned from terrestrial things, what is there for me, if I have not strength to aspire to those of God? I send your majesty my rosary, for they tell me that of my life but three days remain.”
Homer seems to regard as miserable the old man who likes to exert himself.
Σχέτλίoς εσσι, γεραιέ: συ μεν πόνου ούποτε λήγεις ή. To sleep on soft beds, and to partake of the best fare, seems, according to this poet, to be the privilege of old age- yap dirn
ļoti yapóvrwv*. But it must be acknowledged that the ancients in general were more disposed to admire than to pity examples of activity in old age. Diogenes, being far advanced in years, was advised to relax in his labours. “What!” said he,
near the end of a race ought not one to strive the more ?” They had great examples, too, of such perseverance. Strabo, after completing forty-three books of history, as a continuation of Polybius, had the courage, in the eighty-third year of his age, to commence bis great geographical work. Plato died in his eighty-first year, pen in hand. Isocrates composed his Panathenaicus, a most noble book, full of an ardent spirit, in his ninety-fourth year; and Cato pleaded like a young man in the eighty-fifth year of his age. Chrysippus, in bis eightieth year, left a subtle volume. Sophocles, at the age nearly of a hundred, wrote his Edipus Coloneus. Simonides, when he was eighty, wrote poems.
Memorable was the active, hardy old age of M. Valerius Corvus, who completed his bundredth year in full activity; and that of Metellus, whose hand never trembled at the same age ; and that of Q. Fabius Maximus, and of Hiero of Sicily, and of Masinissa, king of Numidia, who went bareheaded in cold and rain, and that of Gorgias, who had nothing to abate from his exertions in the 107th year of his age. These instances are admirable ; but they do not put to shame what Catholicism can produce in later ages, as the literary annals
of any one order, like that of the Benedictines, will testify. Dom Luc d'Achery, having finished his thirteen volumes of the Spicilegium, and being at a very advanced age, for a short moment thought it time to rest from his labours, and prepare for death. But he soon grew weary of doing nothing for the public, and resolved to continue that work, for which he had already materials sufficient to form six volumes more. In spite of his years, therefore, he resumed his labours ; but he was then nearer death than he thought. Dom Beaugendre, at the age of eighty, published, with learned notes, and after collating many manuscripts, the works of the venerable Hildebert, archbishop of Tours, as also those of Marbode, bishop of Rennes. But the labours of Montfaucon present perhaps the most remarkable example of mental energy in old age. In a letter to Quirini he apologizes for not having attended to some former literary commission, and says, “I confess that I forgot it, and your eminence ought not to be surprised; for in the eighty-second year of my age I am more overwhelmed with work than during any other period of my life. I am at present at the thirteenth and last volume of St. Chrysostom, which gives me great fatigue ; and I am printing at the same time the Bibliotheca Bibliothecarum Nova, in
* xxiv. 254.
two volumes in folio, which will be finished before Whitsuntide. Besides, added to all this, I have been nearly two months laid up in the infirmary with a wound which I gave my leg, but I am now well *.” It would be easy to add similar examples from the annals of the Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians, and Jesuits ; but as our last glass but one is now turned, and runs apace, we cannot delay to produce them. The Baron de Prelle is greatly struck at finding that D'Andilly translated the history of Josephus when he had attained the age of eighty-one; but how many instances of equal and greater courage could be found among the religious orders, as well as in the secular society which Catholicism inspires ! “No age,” says Marinæus Siculus, " is too great for learning. King Alphonso, the uncle of King Ferdinand, after spending his life in wars, at the age of sixty began to learn Latin like a boy, and succeeded in acquiring a perfect knowledge of that language t.". Moreover, in every sphere examples could be multiplied of Catholic old men, like Michel Agnolo Buonaroti, full of energy and activity to the last; for faith requires men not to falter
in well-doing, nor to forget such lessons as the old poet teaches in the lines
“Non aliter quam qui adverso vix flumine lembum
Remigiis subigit, si brachia forte remisit
Atque illum in præceps prono rapit alveus amnil." In the year 1566, when Vasari was at Venice, he went to visit
Titian, and found him, although then very old, still with the pencils in his hand, and painting busily. Jacopo Sansovino, so renowned in sculpture, and so eminent in the grace of God, continued to labour like a young man up to the age of ninety-three years ; when one day feeling himself somewhat weary, he lay down in his bed to repose himself, and without any illness, after six weeks, departed. Bronzino, in his sixty-fifth year, was no less enamoured of his art than he was as a youth, undertaking still the greatest work. T amiable and religious Vasari was himself interrupted by death in painting the great cupola of the Duomo at Florence, in the sixty-third year of his age. In the civil, and even in the military service of states there are similar examples. During the war of Alphonso V. in Africa, the duke of Braganza, who was named Regent on his absence in 1460, had begged permission to accompany him on the expedition, though he was in his ninetieth year. For him the poet seems to have composed these lines :
“ Nunc erat, ut posito deberem fine laborum
Vivere, me nullo sollicitante metu;
+ Mar. Sic. Epist.
* Corresp. tom. iii, lett. ccccviii.
# Georg. i. 230.
Quæque meæ semper placuerunt otia menti,
Canitiem galeæ subjiciuque meam. What instances might we not produce, also, of activity in charitable and laborious deeds, protracted to the oldest age, within the Catholic Church! whereas, if all principles and motives that have their centre there be renounced, we shall not have long to wait in order to witness how obdurately the old man finishes
, while forgetful of all that should embalm his memory. As the poet says, “ Degenerat ; palmæ veterumque oblitus honorum.”
Again, we should observe the enlarged conceptions, the benevolence, and kindness, which central principles substitute for that narrow-minded, sour-crabbed morosity which is so apt to creep into the breasts of the old. “ His gregarious nature," says an eminent author, “is one ause of man's superiority over all other animals. A lion lies under a hole in a rock ; and if any other lion happen to pass by, they fight. Now, whoever gets a habit of lying under a hole in a rock, and fighting with every gentleman who passes near him, cannot possibly make any progress. Every man's understanding and acquirements, how great and extensive soever they may appear, are made up from the contributions of others.” Naturally there seems a tendency in old age to make men choose a ferine solitude, from which they may issue forth at times to attack all who pass, or at least growl at them from a distance.
ως δύσκολον το γήρας ανθρώποις έφυ
έν τ' όμμασι σκυθρωπόν*. But the central influence induces other habits in accordance with the interests of the intelligence and of the heart. The exclamation of the poet would not be warranted by the character of the old persons that meet us now, with whose counsels it stands not to fly upon invectives. How sweet and affable rather, we may exclaim, does this old age exhibit itself to all observers, as if it bore a childish overflowing love to all who come across it!
But as we may have occasion to return to this subject, let us proceed at once to observe, in the second place, how central
* Bacch. 1251.
principles tend to remove the moral, and even to alleviate the physical miseries incident to old age. Recurring, as usual, to the forest for its symbolism, we may observe that at this passage of our journey it wears an aspect which seems to correspond with the advance of a late season in the life of man; for some trees here are nearly stripped of their leaves, and the foliage is every where changing its colour. The autumnal tints are steal. ing over the woods ;- and the paths, strewed with sear and yellow leaves, exhibit the bright but mournful beauty of October. So it is with those from whom this road derives its title. The sand of many hours has fallen from time's grey glass since we met our rambler on the roads of childhood and of youth, when his hairs grew up beautiful as the ebony, and curled themselves into a thousand pretty caves, for love itself to sit that best delights in darkness. In those days the quaint compliment of the good mother in the Knight of the Burning Pestle might have been addressed to him : “ The twelve companies of London cannot match him timber for timber.” But all this flower has dropped off. The influence of time, calamity, or sickness, has long ruined that bright fabric nature took such pride to build ; and truly it is not wonderful that soft, frail flesh should change, since time wears out the hardest things.
“ In time all haggard hawks will stoop to lure ;
In time small wedges cleave the hardest oak;
In time the flint is pierc'd with softest shower." Recur again for an image to those old wells in the forest of Marly, which once formed a watering-place for the king's horses, and which are now all that remains there of royalty. How worn away and stained is this monument! We have already remarked that a poet finds a resemblance in it to an old man, and Shakspeare uses the same image, when he compares him to “a weather-bitten conduit of many kings' reigns.” Charles of Orleans relates a dream which he had on one occasion, anticipating this change in regard to himself. It was Time which under the form of an old man appeared to him, and said, “ It was I who delivered you first to childhood, and then to youth, and Dow I come to place you under reason.”
6 Avisez vous, ce n'est pas chose fainte,
Car vieillesse, la mère de courrous,
Vous donnera dedans brief une atainte." « Then,” he says of himself, “ I woke starting, trembling as the leaf upon the tree, and I said,
Helas! oncques mais ne songeay