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selves. Set aside however that opinion at present, which many are so fond of, that every one hath his guardian God attending bim (a), not indeed any principal God, but one of inferior note, from among those, whom Ovid styles de plebe Deos, plebeian Gods. But nevertheless ita, member, that our ancestors, who were of this opinion, were Stoics. For to every person, male and female, they allotted (his) Genius or (her) Juno. We shall hereafter see, whether the Gods are so much at leisure as to attend on the affairs of every individual; in the mean time, know, that whether we are assigned to a several Genius, or quite neglected and given up to Fortune, you can with no one a greater mischief than for him to be his own enemy: nor is there any need of execrating a man, whom you justly think deserving a punishment; or wishing the Gods incensed against him ; for they certainly are so, though he seems promoted by their favour.
Apply your usual diligence, and consider well what things really are, and not what they are called; and you will find that more evils come upon us to which we have been accessary ourselves (6), than what happen merely by accident. For how often hath that which was called a calamity proved the cause and source of happiness *? How often hath what hath been received with congratulation and joy, built its seat on a precipice! and hath raised one, who was eminent before, still higher, as if he was to abide there, from whence he need dread no fall? But suppose he were to fall; such fall, if you consider the end, beyond which Nature hath no further power to cast us down, hath no evil in it. The end of all things is at hand (c): the time, I say, is near ; even that which shall eject the happy, and deliver the wretched. And both these we are apt to stretch in fancy, and lengthen out, either through hope or fear. But if you are wise, Lucilius, measure all things by the condition of human life.
Contract into a narrow sphere, both that which gives you joy and that which creates fear (d). It is of confequence to rejoice in nothing long, that you may fear nothing long.
But why do I throw out such hard strictures on this evil? There is no reason you should think any thing to be feared; they are all vain 3
things that move and surprize us; none of us have examined into wliat is truth. But we teach one another to fear. No one has the courage to set about a thing that gives him perturbation; or to examine well into the grounds of his fear. Therefore things false and vain, gain credit; because they are not disproved, nor their vanity discovered. Whereas were we to open our eyes, and take a diligent view of things, we should see how transitory, how uncertain, how harmless, those are, we are so much afraid of. Such is the confusion of our minds, as is described by Lucretius :
Nam veluti pueri trepidant, atque omnia cæcis
as children are surpriz'd with dread,
As those that in the breast of children reign. Dryden. Well then, are we not more foolish than children, we, who are afraid even in the light? But it is false, Lucilius, we are not afraid in the light; we have ourselves spread darkness around us (e); we can see nothing; either what is hurtful or what is expedient for us. life-time we are continually stumbling; ye we stop not for this, nor walk more circumspectly (f). Now, you see what a mad thing it is to run headlong in the dark; yet truly this is what we do, that we may be still further off when we are recalled : and know not whither we are carried; yet we persevere with speed in our respective journey.
However, if we please, we may obtain light; and there is but one way to be happy in this blessing: which is, by the study of philosophy, i. e. of things human and divine ;-so that a man be not sprinkled only therewith, but is dipped in and seasoned ;-and if, knowing there things, he reflects often upon them, and reminds himself of them;if he enquires into, and can rightly distinguish, good and evil; to which often is ascribed a false title;—if he seeks to know what is right and fit, and what the contrary ;--but particularly, what is providence. Not that the sagacity of human understanding rests here: it is desirous Vol. II. Oo
to look beyond this world; to know its several motions; from whence it first sprung, and to what period this vast velocity is hastening. But alas! we have drawn off our minds from this divine contemplation; to set them upon things low and mean; to be slaves to avarice; and having thrown aside all useful reflections on the works of creation, their boun. daries, and the almighty rulers and governors of the universe; we pry into the bowels of the earth, to learn what evils we may dig from thence, not contented with such things as are offered to our view. For whatever was for our good, our God and Father hath graciously set before us (b). He hath not expected our laborious search after it; having been pleased to offer it freely: but what might hurt us, he hath buried very deep. We cannot complain therefore of any thing but ourfelves. Those things, which Nature had hid from us and forbidden, as tending to our destruction, we have brought into light ourselves. We have devoted the mind to pleasure: 'the indulgence whereof is the foundation and source of all evils. We have given ourselves up to ambition, and fame, and other affections as vain and fruitless:
What then do I exbort you to do? nothing new or strange. Our evils are not so new as to require new remedies. All that I ask of you, is, that you would consider, and weigh well what is necessary and what is fuperfluous : necessary things are every where obvious (i); but superfluities require the constant labours of our whole mind and body. But desire not, you say, rich beds trimmed with gold, or furniture adorned with jewels. It may be fo; there is no reason you should commend yourself for this : for what virtue is there in contemning such things as are not necessary? Then it is that you may command yourself, when you can despise even necessaries : it is no great thing that you can live contented without a noble and royal equipage; that you desire no wild boars of a thousand weight on the side-table; nor a dish of the tongues of redwings, and other prodigies of luxury, that disdains whole animals, and only selects the nicer bits.
Then it is I shall admire you, when you disdain not the coarsest bread; when you are perfuaded, that herbs and vegetables, in case of
necesity, were not provided only for the beasts of the field, but for the nourishment of man; when you shall know, that the young shoots, or top twigs of trees can fill the belly; which we now store with fo many precious things, as if it were a treasure-house to preserve them. Whereas we need not be over-nice in filling it, it being nothing to the purpose what it receives, since whatever it be, it cannot long keep it. And yet you take pleasure in seeing a course of many dishes, to supply which both sea and land have been ransacked: fome animals are the more grateful, if brought young and fresh to the table; others that have been long fed and crammed, so as to melt as it were in their own fit; nay,
the artificial favour of them delights thee. But verily these meats, so anxiously sought after, and so variously and highly seasoned, when swallowed down, turn all to the same filth. Would you despise the pleasure of dainty eating, only view it in its last stage.
I remember to have heard my tutor, Attalus, make the following harangue with great applause: “ Riches, said he, have a long while
imposed upon me. I was amazed, when, in one place, or another, “ I saw their glittering splendor. I concluded, what I did not see
was alike rich and beautiful with what was exhibited to view. But “ in a late pageant I saw the whole wealth of the city, gold and silver,
finely embossed ; jewels of various dies and of an exquisite water ; " and the richet apparel, brought not only from beyond our own “ territories, but from beyond the confines of our most distant enemies. “ On one hand, a tribe of boys, fair and comely, both in shape and - dress; on the other, a range of beautiful women; with many other
things, which the fortune of the greatest empire displayed, as reconnoitring at once all her treasures. And what is all this, said I to myself, but to provoke the sensual appetites of man, forward enough of themselves? What means all this pomp of money?
Ile cre furely assembled here to learn covetousness. But, in truth, I carried away “ with me less desire for it, than I had entertained before. I despited - riches, not because they are superfluous; but because they are trifics. “ Saw you not, that in a few hours time, the whole train, though “ marching flow and in orderly ranks, passed by? And shall that
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s take up our whole life, which we should have thought long and te“ dious if it had taken up the whole day?”. He likewise added, « Riches really seem to me as superfluous to the possessors as to the de spectators. This then is what I say to myself, whenever such a “ gaudy scene dazzles mine eyes ; when I behold a fine house, a spruce “ train of servants, or a litter supported by handsome strong-back'd “ lacqueys (l): what do you wonder at? why are you amazed? it is all
pomp : these things are made a few of, they are not posessed, they please
a moment, and pass by. Turn yourself rather to true riches ; learn “ to be content with a little, and with a truly great and noble fpirit
ery out, Give me water, give me a barley cake, and I will not envy
Jupiter his happiness. No; even if these things are wanting. It is “ scandalous to place the happiness of life in gold and lilver, it is no “ less so to place it in water and barley-bread. But what shall I do if “ I have not thefe? Is there any remedy against extreme want and “ penury? Yes, hunger will soon put an end to hunger (m). Other“ wise where would be the difference between being a llave to great or “ little things ? It is no matter how great the thing is, that fortune “ hath denied us; if we must depend upon the pleasure of another for
even this our water and barley-bread (n). He only is free; not over “ whom Fortune hath the least power, but over whom she hath no
power at all. Thus it is then : you must covet nothing, if you “ would rival Jupiter, who hath nothing to ask.”
Thus spake Attalus to us; and Nature faith the same to all mankind. Which words if you frequently revolve in your mind, you will certainly make yourself not seemingly, but really, happy: and in effect you will think yourself so; let others think as they please,