And I believe Nature, knowing the confusion and
shortness of our life, hath industriously concealed the end
of it from us, this making for our advantage. For if we
were sensible of it beforehand, some would pine away with
untimely sorrow, and would die before their death came.
For she saw the woes of this life, and with what a torrent
of cares it is overflowed,—which if thou didst undertake
to number, thou wouldst grow angry with it, and confirm
that opinion which hath a vogue amongst some, that death
is more desirable than life. Simonides hath glossed upon
it after this manner:—
Our time is of a short and tender length,
Cares we have many, and but little strength;
Labors in crowds push one another on,
And cruel destiny we cannot shun.
The casting of these lots is very just,
For good and bad lie in one common dust.
Pindar hath it so:—
The Gods unequal have us mortals vexed,
For to one good, two evils are annexed:
They pay a single joy with double care,
And fools such dispensations cannot bear.1
Why at a mortal's death dost thou complain?
Thou know'st not what may be his future gain.
And Euripides so:—
Dost thou not know the state of human things?
A faithful monitor thy instruction brings.
Inevitable death hangs o'er our head,
And threatens falling by a doubtful thread.
There's no man can be certain over night,
If he shall live to see to-morrow's light.
Life without any interruption flows,
And the results of fate there's no man knows.2
If then the condition of human life is such as they speak
of, why do we not rather applaud their good fortunes who
are feed from the drudgery of it, than pity and deplore
them, as some men's folly prompts them to do?