O ye Gods, says a wise heathen, deny us what we ask if it shall be hurtful to us, and grant us whatever shall be profitable for us, even though we do not ask it! Francis Horace, in a Note to Book I.
[The idea is from the Greek, and the passage is given by Mr. Riley in his Dict. of Class. Quot., p. 537, where it is rendered Father Jove, grant us good whether we pray for it or not, and avert from us evil, even though we pray for it. A prayer by an unknown poet highly commended by Plato. See his Alcibiades, ii. 5, in Dr. Ramages Thoughts from Greek Authors.]
We, ignorant of ourselves, Beg often our own harms, which the wise Powers Deny us for our good; so find we profit, By losing of our prayers. Shakespeare.Antony and Cleo., Act II. Scene 1. (Menecrates to Pompey.)
Seek not thou to find The sacred counsels of Almighty mind; Involvd in darkness lies the great decree, Nor can the depths of fate be piercd by thee. Pope.The Iliad, Book I. Line 704; Ibid. Book XXII. Line 17.
Heaven from all creatures hides the book of fate, All but the page prescribdtheir present state; From brutes what men, from men what spirits know: Or who could suffer being here below? The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day, Had he thy reason, would he skip and play? Pleasd to the last, he crops the flowry food, And licks the hand just raised to shed his blood. Pope.Essay on Man, Epi. I. Line 77.
1. I wonder you will magnify this madman; You are old and should understand. 2. Should, sayst thou? Thou monstrous piece of ignorance in office! Beaumont and Fletcher.The Elder Brother, Act II. Scene 1.