BOOK ONE

LETTER 9

TO MlNICIUS FUNDANUS

     
ONE cannot but be surprised, that take any single day in Rome, the reckoning comes out right, or at least seems to do so; and yet, if you take them in the lump, the reckoning comes out wrong. Ask anyone how he has been employed today? he will tell you, perhaps, "I have been at the ceremony of assuming the manly robe; this friend invited me to a betrothal, this to a wedding; that desired me to attend the hearing of his cause; one begged me to be witness to his will; another called me to sit as coassessor." These are offices which, on the day one is engaged in them, appear necessary; yet they seem bagatelles when reckoned as your daily occupationčand far more so, when you have quitted Rome for the country. "Then one is apt to reflect, "How many days have I spent on trifles! At least it is a reflection which frequently comes across me at Laurentum, after I have been employing myself in my studies, or even in the necessary care of the body, on whose support the mind is preserved. I neither hear nor speak anything of which I repent; none repeat to me the whispers of malice; nor do I censure any man, unless myself, when I am dissatisfied with my compositions. There I live undisturbed by rumour, and free from the anxious solicitudes of hope or fear, conversing only with myself and my books. True and genuine life! pleasing and honourable repose! More, perhaps, to be desired than the noblest employments! Oh solemn sea and solitary shore, best and most retired scene for contemplation, with how many nohle thoughts have you inspired me! Snatch then, my friend, as I have, the first occasion of leaving the noisy town with all its very empty pursuits, and devote your days to study, or even resign them to sloth: for as my ingenious friend Atilius pleasantly said, "It is better to be idle, than to be doing of nothing." Farewell.