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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
To Fuscus: A Day in the Country
By Pliny the Younger (61/2–c. 113 A.D.)
From ‘Letters’: Translation of William Melmoth and Frederick Charles Tindal Bosanquet

YOU want to know how I portion out my day in my summer villa at Tuscum? I get up just when I please; generally about sunrise, often earlier, but seldom later than this. I keep the shutters closed, as darkness and silence wonderfully promote meditation. Thus free and abstracted from those outward objects which dissipate attention, I am left to my own thoughts; nor suffer my mind to wander with my eyes, but keep my eyes in subjection to my mind, which, when they are not distracted by a multiplicity of external objects, see nothing but what the imagination represents to them. If I have any work in hand, this is the time I choose for thinking it out, word for word, even to the minutest accuracy of expression. In this way I compose more or less, according as the subject is more or less difficult and I find myself able to retain it. I then call my secretary, and opening the shutters, dictate to him what I have put into shape; after which I dismiss him, then call him in again and again dismiss him. About ten or eleven o’clock (for I do not observe one fixed hour), according to the weather, I either walk upon my terrace or in the covered portico, and there I continue to meditate or dictate what remains upon the subject in which I am engaged. This completed, I get into my chariot, where I employ myself as before, when I was walking or in my study; and find this change of scene refreshes and keeps up my attention. On my return home I take a little nap, then a walk, and after that repeat out loud and distinctly some Greek or Latin speech, not so much for the sake of strengthening my voice as my digestion; though indeed the voice at the same time is strengthened by this practice. I then take another walk, am anointed, do my exercises, and go into the bath. At supper, if I have only my wife or a few friends with me, some author is read to us; and after supper we are entertained either with music or an interlude. When that is finished I take my walk with my family, among whom I am not without some scholars. Thus we pass our evenings in varied conversation; and the day, even when at the longest, steals imperceptibly away. Upon some occasions I change the order in certain of the articles above mentioned. For instance, if I have studied longer or walked more than usual, after my second sleep and reading a speech or two aloud, instead of using my chariot I get on horseback; by which means I insure as much exercise and lose less time. The visits of my friends from the neighboring villages claim some part of the day; and sometimes, by an agreeable interruption, they come in very seasonably to relieve me when I am feeling tired. I now and then amuse myself with hunting; but always take my tablets into the field, that if I should meet with no game, I may at least bring home something. Part of my time, too (though not so much as they desire), is allotted to my tenants; whose rustic complaints, along with these city occupations, make my literary studies still more delightful to me. Farewell.  1

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