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and original condition of life. However, by these ways and degrees, the endless increase of riches seems to be grown the perpetual and general amusement, or business of mankind.
Some few in each country make those higher flights after honour and power, and to these ends sacrifice their riches, their labour, their thought, and their lives; and nothing diverts nor busies men more than these pursuits, which are usually covered with the pretences of serving a man's country, and of public good. But the true service of the public is a business of so much labour and so much care, that though a good and wise man may not refuse it, if he be called to it by his prince or his country, and thinks he can be of more than vulgar use, yet he will seldom or never seek it ; but leaves it commonly to men, who, under the disguise of public good, pursue their own designs of wealth, power, and such bastard honours as usually attend them, not that which is the true, and only true reward of virtue.
The pursuits of ambition, though not so general, yet are as endless as those of riches, and as extravagant ; since none ever yet thought he had power or empire enough: and what prince soever seems to be so great, as to live and reign without any further desires or fears, falls into the life of a private man, and enjoys but those pleasures and entertainments which a great many several degrees of private fortune will allow, and as much as human nature is capable of enjoying.
The pleasures of the senses grow a little more choice and refined ; those of imagination are turned upon embellishing the scenes he chooses to live in ; ease, conveniency, elegancy, magnificence, are sought in building first, and then in furnishing houses or palaces : the admirable imitations of nature are introduced by pictures, statues, tapestry, and other such achievements of arts. And the most exquisite delights of sense are pursued, in the contrivance and plantation of gardens ; which with fruits, flowers, shades, fountains, and the music of birds that frequent such happy places, seem to furnish all the pleasures of the several senses, and with the greatest, or at least the most natural perfections.
Thus the first race of Assyrian kings, after the conquests of Ninus and Semiramis, passed their lives, till their empire fell to the Medes. Thus the Caliphs of Egypt, till deposed by their Mamalukes. Thus passed the latter parts of those great lives of Scipio, Lucullus, Augustus, Diocletian. Thus turned the great thoughts of Henry the Second of France, after
the end of his wars with Spain. Thus the present King of Morocco, after having subdued all his competitors, passes his life in a country villa, gives audience in a grove of orange-trees planted among purling
And thus the King of France, after all the successes of his councils or arms, and in the mighty elevation of his present greatness and power, when he gives himself leisure from such designs or pursuits, passes the softer and easier parts of his time in country houses and gardens, in building, planting, or adorning the scenes, or in the common sports and entertainments of such kind of lives. And those mighty emperors, who contented not themselves with these pleasures of common humanity, fell into the frantic or the extravagant ; they pretended to be gods, or turned to be devils, as Caligula and Nero, and too many others known enough in story.
Whilst mankind is thus generally busied or amused, that part of them, who have had either the justice or the luck to pass in common opinion for the wisest and the best part among them, have followed another and very
different scent; and instead of the common designs of satisfying their appetites and their passions, and making endless provisions for both, they have chosen what they thought a nearer and surer way to the
ease and felicity of life, by endeavouring to subdue, or at least to temper their passions, and reduce their appetites to what nature seems only to ask and to need. And this design seems to have brought philosophy into the world, at least that which is termed moral, and appears to have an end not only desirable by every man, which is the ease and happiness of life, but also in some degree suitable to the force and reach of human nature: for as to that part of philosophy which is called natural, I know no end it can have, but that of either busying a man's brains to no purpose, or satisfying the vanity so natural to most men of distinguishing themselves, by some way or other, from those that seem their equals in birth, and the common advantages of it : and whether this distinction be made by wealth or power, or appearance of knowledge, which gains esteem and applause in the world, is all a case. More than this, I know no advantage mankind has gained by the progress of natural philosophy, during so many ages it has had vogue in the world, excepting always, and very justly, what we owe to the mathematics, which is in a manner all that seems valuable among the civilized nations, more than those we call barbarous, whether they are so or no, or more so than ourselves.
How ancient this natural philosophy has been in the world is hard to know; for we find frequent mention of ancient philosophers in this kind, among the most ancient now extant with us. The first who found out the vanity of it seems to have been Solomon, of which discovery he has left such admirable strains in Ecclesiastes. The next was Socrates, who made it the business of his life to explode it, and introduce that which we call moral in its place, to busy human minds to better purpose. And indeed, whoever reads with thought what these two, and Marcus Antoninus, have said upon the vanity of all that mortal man can ever attain to know of nature, in its originals or operations, may save himself a great deal of pains, and justly conclude, that the knowledge of such things is not our game; and (like the pursuit of a stag by a little spaniel) may serve to amuse and to weary us, but will never be hunted down. Yet I think those three I have named, may justly pass for the wisest triumvirate that are left us upon the records of story or of time.