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we came into it; only we die worse than we were born; which is none of nature's fault, but ours; for our fears, suspicions, perfidy, &c. are from ourselves.
5 I wish, with all my soul, that I had thought of my end sooner, but I must make the more haste now, and spur on, like those that set out late upon a journey; it will be better to learn late than not at all, though it be but only to instruct me how I may leave the stage with honor.
6 What greater folly can there be in the world than this loss of time, the future being so uncertain, and the damages so irreparable? There is nothing that we can properly call our own but our time, and yet every body fools us out of it that has a mind to it.
7 He that takes away a day from me, takes away what he can never restore me. But our time is either forced away from us, or stolen from us, or lost; of which the last is the foulest miscarriage. It is in life as in a journey: a book or a companion brings us to our lodging before we thought we were half way.
Happy is the man that may choose his own business.
1 Oh the blessings of privacy and leisure! The wish of the powerful and eminent, but the privilege only of inferiors; who are the only people that live to themselves. A wise man is never so busy as in the solitary contemplation of God and the works of nature. He withdraws himself to attend the service of future ages: and those counsels which he finds salutary to himself, he commits to writing for the good of after times, as we do the receipts of sovereign antidotes or balsams.
2 He that is well employed in his study, though he may seem to do nothing at all, does the greatest things of all others, in affairs both human and divine. To supply a friend with a sum of money, or give my voice for an office, these are only private and particular obligations; but he that lays down precepts for the governing of our lives and the moderating of our passions, obliges human nature not only in the present, but in all succeeding generations.
3 He that would be at quiet, let him repair to his philosophy, a study that has credit with all sorts of men. The eloquence of the bar, or whatsoever else addresses to the people, is never without enemies; but philosophy minds its own business, and even the worst have an esteem for it. There can never be such a conspiracy against virtue, the
world can never be so wicked, but the very name of a philosopher shall still continue venerable and sacred.
4 It is not that solitude, or a country life, teaches innocence or frugality; but vice falls of itself, without witnesses and spectators, for the thing it designs is to be taken notice of. Did ever any man put on rich clothes not to be seen? or spread the pomp of his luxury where nobody was to take notice of it? If it were not for admirers and spectators there would be no temptations to excess: the very keeping of us from exposing them cures us of desiring them, for vanity and intemperance are fed with ostentation.
5 We cannot call these people men of leisure that are wholly taken up with their pleasures. A troublesome life is much to be preferred before a slothful one; and it is a strange. thing, methinks, that any man should fear death that has buried himself alive; as privacy, without letters, is but the burying of a man quick.
6 It is the part of a good patriot to prefer men of worth; to defend the innocent; to provide good laws; and to advise in war and in peace. But is not he as good a patriot that instructs youth in virtue; that furnishes the world with precepts of morality, and keeps human nature within the bounds of right reason? Who is the greater man, he that pronounces a sentence upon the bench, or he that in his study reads us a lecture of justice, piety, patience, fortitude, and the blessing of a good conscience?
Against immoderate sorrow for the death of friends.
1 To lament the death of a friend is both natural and just; a sigh or a tear I would allow to his memory; but no profuse or obstinate, sorrow.
2 But do I grieve for my friend's sake, or for my own? We are apt to say, "What would I give to see him again, and to enjoy his conversation; I was never sad in his company; my heart leaped whenever I met him; I want him wherever I go." "All that is to be said is, "The greater the loss, the greater is the virtue to overcome it."
3 If grieving will do no good, it is an idle thing to grieve; and if that which has befallen one man remains to all, it is as unjust to complain. The whole world is upon the march towards the same point; why do we not cry for ourselves that are to follow, as well as for him that is gone first? Why
do we not as well lament beforehand for that which we know will be, and cannot possibly but be.
Mediocrity the best state of fortune.
1 All I desire is, that my poverty may not be a burden to myself, or make me so to others; and that is the best state of fortune that is neither directly necessitous, nor far from it. A mediocrity of fortune, with a gentleness of mind, will preserve us from fear of envy; which is a desirable condition, for no man wants power to do mischief. We never consider the blessing of coveting nothing, and the glory of being full in ourselves, without depending upon fortune.
2 With parsimony, a little is sufficient; and without it, nothing; whereas frugality makes a poor man rich. If we lose an estate, we had better never have had it: he that has least to lose, has least to fear; and those are better satisfied whom fortune never favored, than those whom she has forsaken.
3 The state is most commodious that lies betwixt poverty and plenty. Diogenes understood this very well, when he put himself into an incapacity of losing any thing. That course of life is most commodious which is both safe and wholesome; the body is to be indulged no farther than for health; and rather mortified than not kept in subjection to the mind.
4 It is necessary to provide against hunger, thirst, and cold; and somewhat for a covering to shelter us against other inconveniences; but not a pin-matter whether it be of turf or of marble. A man may lie as warm and as dry under a thatched as under a gilded roof. Let the mind be great and glorious, and all other things are despicable in comparison.
The future is uncertain; and I had rather beg of myself not to desire any thing, than of fortune to bestow it."
ABRIDGMENT OF SENECA'S TREATISE ON ANGER.
Anger described; it is against nature.
1 We are here to encounter the most outrageous, brutal, dangerous, and intractable of all passions; the most loathsome and unmannerly; nay, the most ridiculous too; and the subduing of this monster will do a great deal toward the establishment of human peace.
2 Anger is the desire, not the power and faculty of revenge: Reason deliberates before it judges; but anger passes
sentence without deliberation. Reason only attends the matter in hand; but anger is startled at every accident: it passes the bounds of reason, and carries it away with it.
3 In short, "anger is an agitation of the mind that proceeds to the resolution of a revenge, the mind assenting to it." But anger may undoubtedly be overcome by caution and good counsel; for it is a voluntary vice, and not of the condition of those accidents that befall us as frailties of our humanity.
4 It is an idle thing to pretend that we cannot govern our anger; for some things that we do are much harder than others that we ought to do; the wildest affections may be tamed by discipline, and there is hardly any thing which the mind will do, but it may do. There needs no more argument in this case than the instance of several persons, both powerful and impatient, that have got the absolute mastery of themselves in this point.
5 Thrasippus, in his drink, fell foul upon the cruelties of Pisistratus; who, when he was urged by several about him to make an example of him, returned this answer, Why should I be angry with a man that stumbles upon me blindfold ?" 6 The moderation of Antigonus was remarkable. Some of his soldiers were railing at him one night, where there was but a hanging betwixt them. Antigonus overheard them, and putting it gently aside, "Soldiers," says he, "stand a little farther off, for fear the king should hear you.
7 And we are to consider, not only violent examples, but moderate, where there wanted neither cause of displeasure nor power of revenge : As in the case of Antigonus, who, the same night hearing his soldiers cursing him for bringing them into so foul a way, he went to them, and without telling them who he was, helped them out of it. "Now," says he, "you may be allowed to curse him that brought you into the mire, provided you bless him that took you out of it."
8 It was a strong provocation that which was given to Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander. The Athenians sent their ambassadors to him, and they were received with this compliment, "Tell me, gentlemen," says Philip, "what is there that I can do to oblige the Athenians?" Democharas, one of the ambassadors, told him, that they would take it for a great obligation if he would be pleased to hang himself. 9 This insolence gave an indignation to the bystanders; Philip bade them not to meddle with him, but even to let foul mouthed fellow go as he came. "And for you, the
rest of the ambassadors," says he, "pray tell the Athenians,
Anger is a short madness; and a deformed vice.
1 He was much in the right, whoever it was, that first called anger a short madness; for they have both of them the same symptoms; and there is so wonderful a resemblance betwixt the transports of choler and those of frenzy, that it is a hard matter to know the one from the other.
2 A bold, fierce, and threatening countenance, as pale as ashes, and, in the same moment, as red as blood; a glaring eye, a wrinkled brow, violent motions, the hands restless and perpetually in action, wringing and menacing, snapping of the joints, stamping with the feet, the hair starting, trembling lips, a forced and squeaking voice; the speech false and broken, deep and frequent sighs, and ghastly looks; the veins swell, the heart pants, the knees knock; with a hundred dismal accidents that are common to both distempers.
3 Neither is anger a bare resemblance only of madness, but many times an irrevocable transition into the thing itself. How many persons have we known, read, and heard of, that have lost their wits in a passion, and never came to themselves again? It is therefore to be avoided, not only for moderation's sake, but also for health.
4 Now, if the outward appearance of anger be so foul and hideous, how deformed must that miserable mind be, that is harassed with it? for it leaves no place either for counsel or friendship, honesty or good manners; no place either for the exercise of reason, or for the offices of life.
5 If I were to describe it, I would draw a tiger bathed in blood, sharp teeth, and ready to take a leap at his prey; or dress it up as poets represent the furies, with whips, snakes, and flames; it should be sour, livid, full of scars, and wallowing in gore, raging up and down, destroying, grinning, bellowing, and pursuing; sick of all other things, and most of all itself. It turns beauty into deformity, and the calmest counsels into fierceness: it disorders our very garments, and fills the mind with horror.
6 How abominable is it in the soul then, when it appears so hideous even through the bones, the skin, and so many pediments? Is he not a madman that has lost the govern