We read of a certain Roman emperor who built a magnificent palace. In digging the foundation, the workmen discovered a golden sarcophagus ornamented with three circlets, on which were inscribed, I have expended; I have given; I have kept; I have possessed; I do possess; I have lost; I am punished. What I formerly expended, I have; what I gave away, I have.1
Whatever you do, do wisely, and think of the consequences.
Note 1. Richard Gough, in the Sepulchral Monuments of Great Britain, gives this epitaph of Robert Byrkes, which is to be found in Doncaster Church, new cut upon his tomb in Roman capitals:
Howe: Howe: who is heare: I, Robin of Doncaster, and Margaret my feare. That I spent, that I had; That I gave, that I have; That I left, that I lost. A. D. 1579.
The following is the epitaph of Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devonshire, according to Cleavelands Genealogical History of the Family of Courtenay, p. 142: What we gave, we have; What we spent, we had; What we left, we lost. [back]
Note 2. Ecce quomodo mundus suis servitoribus reddit mercedem (See how the world its veterans rewards.)Alexander Pope: Moral Essays, epistle 1, line 243. [back]
Note 3. Si finis bonus est, totum bonum erit.Probably the origin of the proverb, All s well that ends well. [back]