This seems a strange sentence thus literally translated, and looks as if it were in vindication of the men of business (for who else can deceive the world?) whereas it is in commendation of those who live and die so obscurely, that the world takes no notice of them. This Horace calls deceiving the world, and in another place uses the same phrase.
Secretum iter et fallentis semita vitae. The secret tracks of the deceiving life.
It is very elegant in Latin, but our English word will hardly bear up to that sense, and therefore Mr. Broome translates it very well:
Or from a life, led as it were by stealth.
Yet we say in our language, a thing deceives our sight, when it passes before us unperceived, and we may say well enough out of the same author:
Sometimes with sleep, sometimes with wine we strive The cares of life and troubles to deceive.
But that is not to deceive the world, but to deceive ourselves, as Quintilian says, Vitam fallere, To draw on still, and amuse, and deceive our life, till it be advanced insensibly to the fatal period, and fall into that pit which Nature hath prepared for it. The meaning of all this is no more than that most vulgar saying, Bene qui latuit, bene vixit, He has lived well, who has lain well hidden. Which, if it be a truth, the world, I'll swear, is sufficiently deceived. For my part, I think it is, and that the pleasantest condition of life, is in incognito. What a brave privilege is it to be free from all contentions, from all envying or being envied, from receiving and from paying all kind of ceremonies? It is in my mind a very delightful pastime, for two good and agreeable friends to travel up and down together in places where they are by nobody known, nor know anybody. It was the case of AEneas and his Achates, when they walked invisibly about the fields and streets of Carthage, Venus herself
A veil of thickened air around them cast, That none might know, or see them as they passed.