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leave him to himself; since it is sure he will never be of use to any other.” 3 “But what if the man were free from these defects; and had only such a selfishness belonging to him, as made him always ready to receive favors, but not at all solicitous about returning any ?” 4 “Why certainly,” replied Critobulus, “no person would wish to have any thing to say to such a one:—“But, my Socrates,” continued he, “since none of these people will serve our purpose, show me, I desire you, what sort of man he must be whom we should endeavor to make a friend of?” 5 “I suppose,” said Socrates, “he should be the very reverse of all we have been saying:—moderate in his pleasures— a strict observer of his word—fair and open in all his dealings; and who will not suffer even his friend to surpass him in generosity; so that all are gainers with whom he hath to do.” 6 “But how shall we find such a one,” said Critobulus; “or make trial of those virtues and vices, without running some hazard by the experiment? And when we have found out a man whom we judge proper to make a friend of; what means may we use to engage his affection?” 7 “Not hunt him down, Critobulus, as we do hares; nor catch him by stratagem, as we do birds; neither are we to seize him by force, as we are wont to do our enemies; for it would be an arduous task to make a man your friend in spite of inclination.” 8, “You would insinuate, then, my Socrates, that in order to obtain a virtuous friend, we must endeavor, first of all, to be ourselves virtuous P” 9 “Why, can you suppose, Critobulus, that a bad man can gain the affection of a good one P. Make yourself in the first place a virtuous man, and then boldly set yourself to gain the affection of the virtuous. Set yourself, therefore, diligently to the attainment of every virtue; and you will find on experience, that no one of them whatsoever but will flourish and gain strength, when properly exercised. This is the counsel I have to give you, my Critobulus.”
SECTION I. Abridgment of Seneca's discourse on Beneficence. He that would know all things, let him read Seneca; the most lively describer of public vices and manners, and the smartest reprehender of them.-Lactantius.
Next to the gospel itself, I do look upon Seneca's Morals, as the most sovereign remedy against the miseries of human nature.-L'Estrange.
1 AN obstinate goodness overcomes an ill disposition, as a barren soil is made fruitful by care and tillage. But let a man be never so ungrateful or inhuman, he shall never destroy the satisfaction of my having done a good office.
2 But what if others will be wicked ? does it follow that we must be so too? If others will be ungrateful, must we therefore be inhuman? To give and to lose, is nothing; but to lose and to give still, is the part of a great mind. And the other's in effect, is the greater loss; for the one does but lose his benefit, and the other loses himself. The light shines upon the profane and sacrilegious as well as upon the righteous. The mariner puts to sea again after a wreck.
3 An illustrious mind does not propose the profit of a good office, but the duty. If the world be wicked, we should yet persevere in well-doing, even among evil men. I had rather never receive a kindness than never bestow one: not to return a benefit is the greater sin, but not to confer it is the earlier.
4 We cannot propose to ourselves a more glorious example than that of the Almighty, who neither needs nor expects any thing from us; and yet he is continually showering down and distributing his mercies and his grace among us, not only for our necessities, but also for our delights; as fruits and seasons, rain and sunshine, veins of water and of metal; and all this to the wicked as well as to the good, and without any other end than the common benefit of the receivers.
5 With what face then can we be mercenary one to another, that have received all things from Divine Providence gratis? It is a common saying, “I gave such or such a man so much money, I would I had thrown it into the sea :" and yet the merchant trades again after a piracy, and the banker ventures afresh after a bad security.
6 He that will do no good offices after a disappointment, must stand still, and do just nothing at all. The plow goes
on after a barren year : and while the ashes are yet warm, we raise a new house upon the ruins of a former.
7 What obligations can be greater than those which children receive from their parents ? and yet should we give them over in their infancy, it were all to no purpose. Benefits, like grain, must be followed from the seed to the harvest. I will not so much as leave any place for ingratitude. I will pursue, and I will encompass the receiver with benefits; so that let him look which way he will, his benefactor shall be still in his eye, even when he would avoid his own memory.
8 In a matter of money, it is a common thing to pay a debt out of course, and before it be due; but we account ourselves to owe nothing for a good office; whereas the benefit increases by delay. So insensible are we of the most important affair of human life.
9 That man were doubtless in a miserable condition, that could neither see, nor hear, nor taste, nor feel, nor smell : but much more unhappy is he than that, wanting a sense of benefits, loses the greatest comfort in nature in the bliss of giving and receiving them. He that takes a benefit as it is meant, is in the right; for the benefactor has then his end, and his only end, when the receiver is grateful.
ABRIDGMENT OF SENECA'S TREATISE ON A HAPPY LIFE.
SECTION II. On a happy life, and wherein it consists. 1 There is not any thing in this world, perhaps, that is more talked of, and less understood, than the business of a happy life. It is every man's wish and design; and yet not one of a thousand that knows wherein that happiness consists. We live, however, in a blind and eager pursuit of it; and the more haste we make in a wrong way, the farther we are from our journey's end.
2 Let us therefore, first, consider 6 what it is we should be at;" and secondly, “which is the readiest way to compass
it.” If we be right, we shall find every day how much we improve ; but if we either follow the cry, or the track, of people that are out of the way, we must expect to be misled, and to continue our days in wandering and error.
3 Wherefore, it highly-concerns us to take along with us a skilful guide ; for it is 'not in this, as in other voyages, where the highway brings us to our place of repose , or if a man should happen to be out, where the inhabitants might set him right again ; but on the contrary, the beaten road is
here the most dangerous, and the people instead of helping us, misguide us. Let us not therefore follow, like beasts, but rather govern ourselves by reason, than by example.
4 It fares with us in human life as in a routed army; one stumbles first, and then another falls upon him, and so they follow, one upon the neck of another, until the whole field comes to be but one heap of miscarriages.
5 And the mischief is, “ that the number of the multitude carries it against truth and justice ;" so that we must leave the crowd if we would be happy : for the question of a happy life is not to be decided by vote: nay, so far from it, that plurality of voices is still an argument of the wrong; the common people find it easier to believe than to judge, and content themselves with what is usual, never examining whether it be good or not.
6 By the common people is intended the man of title as well as the clouted shoe: for I do not distinguish them by the eye, but by the mind, which is the proper judge of the
7 The true felicity of life is to be free from perturbations; to understand our duties toward God and man: to enjoy the present without any anxious dependence upon the future. The great blessings of mankind are within us, and within our reach; but we shut our eyes, and, like people in the dark, we fall foul upon the very thing we search for without finding it.
8 “ Tranquillity is a certain equality of mind, which no condition of fortune can either exalt or depress.
66 True joy is a serene and sober motion;" and they are miserably out that take laughing for rejoicing. The seat of it is within, and there is no cheerfulness like the resolution of a brave mind, that has fortune under his feet. He that can look death in the face, and bid it welcome; open his door to poverty, and bridle his appetites; this is the man whom Providence has established in the possession of inviolable delights. The pleasures of the vulgar are ungrounded, thin, and superficial; but the other are solid and eterrial.
9 As the body itself is rather a necessary thing than a great; so the comforts of it are but temporary and vain; beside that, without extraordinary moderation, their end is only pain and repentance; whereas, a peaceful conscience, honest thoughts, virtuous actions, and an indifference for casual events, are blessings without end, satiety, or measure.
10 This consummated state of felicity is only a submission to the dictate of right nature; “ The foundation of it is wis
dom and virtue; the knowledge of what we ought to do, and the conformity of the will to that knowledge.”
SECTION III. Human happiness is founded upon wisdom and virtue. 1 Taking for granted that human happiness is founded upon wisdom and virtue, we shall treat of these two points in order as they lie; and, first, of wisdom; not in the latitude of its various operations, but as it has only a regard to a good life, and the happiness of mankind. 2 Wisdom is a right understanding, a faculty of discerning ood from evil; what is to be chosen, and what rejected; a judgment grounded upon the value of things, and not the common opinion of them; an equality of force, and a strength of resolution. It sets a watch over our words and deeds, it takes us up with the contemplation of the works of nature, and makes us invincible to either good or evil fortune. 3. It is the habit of a perfect mind, and the perfection of humanity, raised as high as nature can carry it. It differs from philosophy, as avarice and money; the one desires, and the other is desired; the one is the effect and the reward of the other. To be wise is the use of wisdom, as seeing is the use of eyes, and well speaking the use of eloquence. 4 He that is perfectly wise is perfectly happy; nay, the very beginning of wisdom makes life easy to us. Neither is it enough to know this, unless we print it in our minds by daily meditation, and so bring a good will to a good habit. 5 And we must practise what we preach : for philosophy is not a subject for popular ostentation; nor does it rest in words, but in things. It is not an entertainment taken up for delight, or to give a taste to our leisure; but it fashions the mind, governs our actions, tells what we are to do, and what not. 6 It sits at the helm, and guides us through all hazards: nay, we cannot be safe without it, for every hour gives us occasion to make use of it. It informs us in all the duties of life, piety to our parents, faith to our friends, charity to the miserable, judgment in counsel; it gives us peace by fearing nothing, and riches by coveting nothing. 7 There is no condition of life that excludes a wise man from discharging his duty. If his fortune be good, he tempers it; if bad, he masters it; if he has an estate, he will exercise his virtue in plenty; if none, in poverty. 8 Some accidents there are, which I confess may affect G