S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
If we engage into a large acquaintance and various familiarities, we set open our gates to the invaders of most of our time; we expose our life to a quotidian ague of frigid impertinencies which would make a wise man tremble to think of.
The covetous man is a downright servant, a man condemned to work in mines, which is the lowest and hardest condition of servitude; and, to increase his misery, a worker there for he knows not whom: He heapeth up riches, and knows not who shall enjoy them: it is only sure that he himself neither shall nor can enjoy them. He is an indigent, needy slave; he will hardly allow himself clothes and board-wages; he defrauds not only other men, but his own genius; he cheats himself for money. But the servile and miserable condition of this wretch is so apparent, that I leave it, as evident to every mans sight as well as judgment.
Upon the whole matter, I account a person who has a moderate mind and fortune, and lives in the conversation of two or three agreeable friends, with little commerce in the world besides, who is esteemed well enough by his few neighbours that know him, and is truly irreproachable by anybody; and so, after a healthful quiet life, before the great inconveniences of old age, goes more silently out of it than he came in (for I would not have him so much as cry in the exit): this innocent deceiver of the world, as Horace calls him, this muta persona, I take to have been more happy in his part, than the greatest actors that fill the stage with show and noise; nay, even than Augustus himself, who asked, with his last breath, whether he had not played his farce very well.
What can we imagine more proper for the ornaments of wit and learning in the story of Deucalion than in that of Noah? Why will not the actions of Samson afford as plentiful matter as the labours of Hercules? Why is not Jephthahs daughter as good a woman as Iphigenia? and the friendship of David and Jonathan more worthy celebration than that of Theseus and Pirithous? Does not the passage of Moses and the Israelites into the Holy Land yield incomparably more poetic variety than the voyages of Ulysses or Æneas? Are the obsolete, threadbare tales of Thebes and Troy half so stored with great, heroical, and supernatural actions (since verse will needs find or make such) as the wars of Joshua, of the Judges, of David, and divers others? Can all the transformations of the gods give such copious hints to flourish and expatiate upon as the true miracles of Christ, or of his prophets and apostles? What do I instance in these few particulars? All the books of the Bible are either already most admirable and exalted pieces of poesy, or are the best materials in the world for it.