to study philosophy is nothing but to prepare one’s self to die. the reason of which is, because study and contemplation do in some sort withdraw from us our soul, and employ it seperately from the body, which is a kind of apprenticeship and a resemblance of death. or, else, because all the wisdom and reasoning in the world do in the end conclude in this point, to teach us not to fear to die. and to say the truth, either our reasoning mocks us, or it ought to have no other aim but our contentment only, nor to endeavour anything but, in sum, to make us live well, and, at our ease.
all the opinions in the world agree in this, that pleasure is our end, though we make use of divers means to attain it: they would, otherwise, be rejected at the first motion; for who would give ear to him that should propose affliction and misery for his end? the thing at which we all aim even in virtue is pleasure. now, of all the benefits that virtue confers upon us, the contempt of death is one of the greatest, as the means that accommodates human life with a soft and easy tranquility, and gives us a pure and pleasant taste of living, without which all other pleasure would be extinct. which is the reason why all the rules centre and concur in this one article.
and although they all in like manner, with common accord, teach us also to despise pain, poverty, and the other accidents to which human life is subject, it is not, nevertheless, with the same solicitude, as well as by reason these accidents are not of so great necessity, the greater part of mankind passing over their whole lives without knowing what poverty is, and some without sorrow or sickness, xenophilus the musician, who lived a hundred and six years in a perfect and continual health. however, a life can never be fully experienced without pain, sorrow, poverty, and sickness. the deeper that sorrow carves our being the more joy we can contain. a life without struggle though glittering is unsteady.
at the worst, death can, whenever we please, cut short and put an end to all other inconveniences hence it need not be feared. but as to death it is inevitable: “omnes eodem cogimur; omnium versatur urna serius ocius sors exitura, et nos in aeternum exilium impositura cymbae” “we are all bound one voyage; the lot of all, sooner or later, is to come out of the urn. all must to eternal exile sail away.” we must write our own bibles expressing our life’s philosophy