This I confess is a freeman; but it may be said that many persons are so shackled by their fortune that they are hindered from enjoyment of that manumission which they have obtained from virtue. I do both understand, and in part feel the weight of this objection. All I can answer to it is, "That we must get as much liberty as we can; we must use our utmost endeavours, and when all that is done, be contented with the length of that line which is allowed us." If you ask me in what condition of life I think the most allowed, I should pitch upon that sort of people whom King James was wont to call the happiest of our nation, the men placed in the country by their fortune above an high constable, and yet beneath the trouble of a justice of the peace, in a moderate plenty, without any just argument for the desire of increasing it by the care of many relations, and with so much knowledge and love of piety and philosophy (that is, of the study of God's laws and of his creatures) as may afford him matter enough never to be idle though without business, and never to be melancholy though without sin or vanity.
I shall conclude this tedious discourse with a prayer of mine in a copy of Latin verses, of which I remember no other part, and (pour faire bonne bouche) with some other verses upon the same subject.
Magne Deus, quod ad has vitae brevis attinet boras, Da mihi, da Pancin Libertatemque, nec ultra Sollicitas effundo preces, si quid datur ultra Accipiam gratus; si non, contentus abibo.
For the few hours of life allotted me, Give me, great God, but Bread and Liberty, I'll beg no more; if more thou'rt pleased to give, I'll thankfully that overplus receive. If beyond this no more be freely sent, I'll thank for this, and go away content.
MARTIAL. LIB. 2. Vota tui breviter, etc.
Well then, sir, you shall know how far extend, The prayers and hopes of your poetic friend. He does not palaces nor manors crave, Would be no lord, but less a lord would have. The ground he holds, if he his own can call, He quarrels not with Heaven because 'tis small: Let gay and toilsome greatness others please, He loves of homely littleness the ease. Can any man in gilded rooms attend, And his dear hours in humble visits spend, When in the fresh and beauteous fields he may With various healthful pleasures fill the day? If there be man, ye gods, I ought to hate, Dependence and attendance be his fate. Still let him busy be, and in a crowd, And very much a slave, and very proud: Thus he, perhaps, powerful and rich may grow; No matter, O ye gods! that I'll allow. But let him peace and freedom never see; Let him not love this life, who loves not me.
MARTIAL LIB. 2. Vis fieri Liber, etc.
Would you be free? 'Tis your chief wish, you say, Come on; I'll show thee, friend, the certain way. If to no feasts abroad thou lov'st to go, Whilst bounteous God does bread at home bestow; If thou the goodness of thy clothes dost prize By thine own use, and not by others' eyes; If, only safe from weathers, thou canst dwell In a small house, but a convenient shell; If thou without a sigh, or golden wish, Canst look upon thy beechen bowl and dish; If in thy mind such power and greatness be - The Persian King's a slave compared with thee.