- Sapere aude; Incipe. Virendi qui recte prorogat horam Rusticus expectat dum labitur amnis; at ille Labitur, et labetur is omne volubilis aevum.
Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise; He who defers the work from day to day, Does on a river's bank expecting stay, Till the whole stream which stopped him should be gone, That runs, and as it runs, for ever will run on.
Caesar (the man of expedition above all others) was so far from this folly, that whensoever in a journey he was to cross any river, he never went one foot out of his way for a bridge, or a ford, or a ferry; but flung himself into it immediately, and swam over; and this is the course we ought to imitate if we meet with any stops in our way to happiness. Stay till the waters are low, stay till some boats come by to transport you, stay till a bridge be built for you; you had even as good stay till the river be quite past. Persius (who, you used to say, you do not know whether he be a good poet or no, because you cannot understand him, and whom, therefore, I say, I know to be not a good poet) has an odd expression of these procrastinations, which, methinks, is full of fancy.
Jam cras hesterum consumpsimus, ecce aliud cras egerit hos annos.
Our yesterday's to-morrow now is gone, And still a new to-morrow does come on; We by to-morrows draw up all our store, Till the exhausted well can yield no more.
And now, I think, I am even with you, for your otium cum dignitate and festina lente, and three or four other more of your new Latin sentences: if I should draw upon you all my forces out of Seneca and Plutarch upon this subject, I should overwhelm you, but I leave those as triarii for your next charges. I shall only give you now a light skirmish out of an epigrammatist, your special good friend, and so, vale.
To-morrow you will live, you always cry; In what far country does this morrow lie, That 'tis so mighty long ere it arrive? Beyond the Indies does this morrow live? 'Tis so far-fetched, this morrow, that I fear 'Twill be both very old and very dear. To-morrow I will live, the fool does say; To-day itself's too late, the wise lived yesterday.
Wonder not, sir (you who instruct the town In the true wisdom of the sacred gown), That I make haste to live, and cannot hold Patiently out, till I grow rich and old. Life for delays and doubts no time does give, None ever yet made haste enough to live. Let him defer it, whose preposterous care Omits himself, and reaches to his heir, Who does his father's bounded stores despise, And whom his own, too, never can suffice: My humble thoughts no glittering roofs require, Or rooms that shine with ought be constant fire. We ill content the avarice of my sight With the fair gildings of reflected light: Pleasures abroad, the sport of Nature yields Her living fountains, and her smiling fields: And then at home, what pleasure is 't to see A little cleanly, cheerful family? Which if a chaste wife crown, no less in her Than fortune, I the golden mean prefer. Too noble, nor too wise, she should not be, No, nor too rich, too fair, too fond of me. Thus let my life slide silently away, With sleep all night, and quiet all the day.