Part 2 out of 4
world besides, how every tree md plant, how sparrows and ants,
spiders and bees: how all in their kind are intent as it were
orderly to perform whatsoever (towards the preservation of this
orderly universe) naturally doth become and belong unto thin?
And wilt not thou do that, which belongs unto a man to do?
Wilt not thou run to do that, which thy nature doth require?
'But thou must have some rest.' Yes, thou must.
Nature hath of that also, as well as of eating and drinking,
allowed thee a certain stint. But thou guest beyond thy stint,
and beyond that which would suffice, and in matter of action,
there thou comest short of that which thou mayest.
It must needs be therefore, that thou dost not love thyself,
for if thou didst, thou wouldst also love thy nature,
and that which thy nature doth propose unto herself as her end.
Others, as many as take pleasure in their trade and profession,
can even pine themselves at their works, and neglect their bodies
and their food for it; and doest thou less honour thy nature,
than an ordinary mechanic his trade; or a good dancer his art?
than a covetous man his silver, and vainglorious man applause?
These to whatsoever they take an affection, can be content to want
their meat and sleep, to further that every one which he affects:
and shall actions tending to the common good of human society,
seem more vile unto thee, or worthy of less respect and intention?
II. How easy a thing is it for a man to put off from him
all turbulent adventitious imaginations, and presently to be
in perfect rest and tranquillity!
III. Think thyself fit and worthy to speak, or to do anything
that is according to nature, and let not the reproach,
or report of some that may ensue upon it, ever deter thee.
If it be right and honest to be spoken or done,
undervalue not thyself so much, as to be discouraged from it.
As for them, they have their own rational over-ruling part,
and their own proper inclination: which thou must not stand
and look about to take notice of, but go on straight, whither both
thine own particular, and the common nature do lead thee;
and the way of both these, is but one.
IV. I continue my course by actions according to nature,
until I fall and cease, breathing out my last breath into
that air, by which continually breathed in I did live;
and falling upon that earth, out of whose gifts and fruits
my father gathered his seed, my mother her blood, and my nurse
her milk, out of which for so many years I have been provided,
both of meat and drink. And lastly, which beareth me that tread
upon it, and beareth with me that so many ways do abuse it,
or so freely make use of it, so many ways to so many ends.
V. No man can admire thee for thy sharp acute language,
such is thy natural disability that way. Be it so:
yet there be many other good things, for the want of
which thou canst not plead the want or natural ability.
Let them be seen in thee, which depend wholly from thee;
sincerity, gravity, laboriousness, contempt of pleasures;
be not querulous, be Content with little, be kind, be free;
avoid all superfluity, all vain prattling; be magnanimous.
Doest not thou perceive, how many things there be,
which notwithstanding any pretence of natural indisposition
and unfitness, thou mightest have performed and exhibited,
and yet still thou doest voluntarily continue drooping downwards?
Or wilt thou say. that it is through defect of thy
natural constitution, that thou art constrained to murmur,
to be base and wretched to flatter; now to accuse,
and now to please, and pacify thy body: to be vainglorious,
to be so giddy-headed., and unsettled in thy thoughts? nay
(witnesses be the Gods) of all these thou mightest have been
rid long ago: only, this thou must have been contented with,
to have borne the blame of one that is somewhat slow and dull.
wherein thou must so exercise thyself, as one who neither doth
much take to heart this his natural defect, nor yet pleaseth
himself in it.
Vi. Such there be, who when they have done a good turn to any,
are ready to set them on the score for it, and to require retaliation.
Others there be, who though they stand not upon retaliation,
to require any, yet they think with themselves nevertheless, that such a
one is their debtor, and they know as their word is what they have done.
Others again there be, who when they have done any such thing,
do not so much as know what they have done; but are like unto the vine,
which beareth her grapes, and when once she hath borne her own
proper fruit, is contented and seeks for no further recompense.
As a horse after a race, and a hunting dog when he hath hunted,
and a bee when she hath made her honey, look not for applause
and commendation; so neither doth that man that rightly doth
understand his own nature when he hath done a good turn:
but from one doth proceed to do another, even as the vine after she hath
once borne fruit in her own proper season, is ready for another time.
Thou therefore must be one of them, who what they do, barely do it without
any further thought, and are in a manner insensible of what they do.
'Nay but,' will some reply perchance, 'this very thing a rational
man is bound unto, to understand what it is, that he doeth.'
For it is the property, say they, of one that is naturally sociable,
to be sensible, that he doth operate sociably: nay, and to desire,
that the party him self that is sociably dealt with, should be
sensible of it too. I answer, That which thou sayest is true indeed,
but the true meaning of that which is said, thou dost not understand.
And therefore art thou one of those first, whom I mentioned.
For they also are led by a probable appearance of reason.
But if thou dost desire to understand truly what it is that is said,
fear not that thou shalt therefore give over any sociable action.
VII. The form of the Athenians' prayer did run thus:
'0 rain, rain, good Jupiter, upon all the grounds and fields
that belong to the Athenians.' Either we should not pray at all,
or thus absolutely and freely; and not every one for himself
in particular alone.
VIII. As we say commonly, The physician hath prescribed unto this
man, riding; unto another, cold baths; unto a third, to go barefoot:
so it is alike to say, The nature of the universe hath prescribed
unto this man sickness, or blindness, or some loss, or damage
or some such thing. For as there, when we say of a physician,
that he hath prescribed anything, our meaning is, that he hath
appointed this for that, as subordinate and conducing to health:
so here, whatsoever doth happen unto any, is ordained unto him
as a thing subordinate unto the fates, and therefore do we
say of such things, that they do happen, or fall together;
as of square stones, when either in walls, or pyramids in a certain
position they fit one another, and agree as it were in an harmony,
the masons say, that they do (sumbainein) as if thou shouldest say,
fall together: so that in the general, though the things be divers
that make it, yet the consent or harmony itself is but one.
And as the whole world is made up of all the particular bodies
of the world, one perfect and complete body, of the same nature that
particular bodies; so is the destiny of particular causes and events
one general one, of the same nature that particular causes are.
What I now say, even they that are mere idiots are not ignorant of:
for they say commonly (touto eferen autw) that is, This his destiny
hath brought upon him. This therefore is by the fates properly
and particularly brought upon this, as that unto this in particular
is by the physician prescribed. These therefore let us accept of in
like manner, as we do those that are prescribed unto us our physicians.
For them also in themselves shall We find to contain many
harsh things, but we nevertheless, in hope of health, and recovery,
accept of them. Let. the fulfilling' and accomplishment of those things
which the common nature bath determined, be unto thee as thy health.
Accept then, and be pleased with whatsoever doth happen,
though otherwise harsh and un-pleasing, as tending to that end,
to the health and welfare of the universe, and to Jove's happiness
and prosperity. For this whatsoever it be, should not have
been produced, had it not conduced to the good of the universe.
For neither doth any ordinary particular nature bring anything
to pass, that is not to whatsoever is within the sphere of its own
proper administration and government agreeable and subordinate.
For these two considerations then thou must be well pleased with
anything that doth happen unto thee. First, because that for thee
properly it was brought to pass, and unto thee it was prescribed;
and that from the very beginning by the series and connection
of the first causes, it hath ever had a reference unto thee.
And secondly, because the good success and perfect welfare,
and indeed the very continuance of Him, that is the Administrator
of the whole, doth in a manner depend on it. For the whole
(because whole, therefore entire and perfect) is maimed, and mutilated,
if thou shalt cut off anything at all, whereby the coherence,
and contiguity as of parts, so of causes, is maintained and preserved.
Of which certain it is, that thou doest (as much as lieth in thee)
cut off, and in some sort violently take somewhat away, as often
as thou art displeased with anything that happeneth.
IX. Be not discontented, be not disheartened, be not out of hope,
if often it succeed not so well with thee punctually and precisely
to do all things according to the right dogmata, but being
once cast off, return unto them again: and as for those many
and more frequent occurrences, either of worldly distractions,
or human infirmities, which as a man thou canst not but in some
measure be subject unto, be not thou discontented with them;
but however, love and affect that only which thou dust return unto:
a philosopher's life, and proper occupation after the most exact manner.
And when thou dust return to thy philosophy, return not unto it
as the manner of some is, after play and liberty as it were,
to their schoolmasters and pedagogues; but as they that have sore
eyes to their sponge and egg: or as another to his cataplasm;
or as others to their fomentations: so shalt not thou make it a matter
of ostentation at all to obey reason but of ease and comfort.
And remember that philosophy requireth nothing of thee, but what
thy nature requireth, and wouldest thou thyself desire anything
that is not according to nature? for which of these sayest thou;
that which is according to nature or against it, is of itself
more kind and pleasing? Is it not for that respect especially,
that pleasure itself is to so many men's hurt and overthrow,
most prevalent, because esteemed commonly most kind, and natural?
But consider well whether magnanimity rather, and true liberty,
and true simplicity, and equanimity, and holiness; whether these be
not most kind and natural? And prudency itself, what more kind
and amiable than it, when thou shalt truly consider with thyself,
what it is through all the proper objects of thy rational
intellectual faculty currently to go on without any fall or stumble?
As for the things of the world, their true nature is in a manner
so involved with obscurity, that unto many philosophers,
and those no mean ones, they seemed altogether incomprehensible.
and the Stoics themselves, though they judge them not
altogether incomprehensible, yet scarce and not without
much difficulty, comprehensible, so that all assent of ours
is fallible, for who is he that is infallible in his conclusions?
>From the nature of things, pass now unto their subjects and matter:
how temporary, how vile are they I such as may be in the power
and possession of some abominable loose liver, of some
common strumpet, of some notorious oppressor and extortioner.
Pass from thence to the dispositions of them that thou doest ordinarily
converse with, how hardly do we bear, even with the most loving
and amiable! that I may not say, how hard it is for us to bear even
with our own selves, in such obscurity, and impurity of things:
in such and so continual a flux both of the substances and time;
both of the motions themselves, and things moved; what it is
that we can fasten upon; either to honour, and respect especially;
or seriously, and studiously to seek after; I cannot so much as conceive
For indeed they are things contrary. X. Thou must comfort thyself
in the expectation of thy natural dissolution, and in the meantime
not grieve at the delay; but rest contented in those two things.
First, that nothing shall happen unto thee, which is not according
to the nature of the universe. Secondly, that it is in thy power,
to do nothing against thine own proper God, and inward spirit.
For it is not in any man's power to constrain thee to transgress
against him. XI. What is the use that now at this present I make
of my soul? Thus from time to time and upon all occasions thou
must put this question to thyself; what is now that part of mine
which they call the rational mistress part, employed about?
Whose soul do I now properly possess? a child's? or a youth's?
a woman's? or a tyrant's? some brute, or some wild beast's soul?
XII. What those things are in themselves, which by the greatest
part are esteemed good, thou mayest gather even from this.
For if a man shall hear things mentioned as good, which are really
good indeed, such as are prudence, temperance, justice, fortitude,
after so much heard and conceived, he cannot endure to hear
of any more, for the word good is properly spoken of them.
But as for those which by the vulgar are esteemed good,
if he shall hear them mentioned as good, he doth hearken for more.
He is well contented to hear, that what is spoken by the comedian,
is but familiarly and popularly spoken, so that even the vulgar
apprehend the difference. For why is it else, that this offends
not and needs not to be excused, when virtues are styled good:
but that which is spoken in commendation of wealth, pleasure,
or honour, we entertain it only as merrily and pleasantly spoken?
Proceed therefore, and inquire further, whether it may not be that
those things also which being mentioned upon the stage were merrily,
and with great applause of the multitude, scoffed at with this jest,
that they that possessed them had not in all the world of their own,
(such was their affluence and plenty) so much as a place
where to avoid their excrements. Whether, I say, those ought
not also in very deed to be much respected, and esteemed of,
as the only things that are truly good.
XIII. All that I consist of, is either form or matter.
No corruption can reduce either of these unto nothing:
for neither did I of nothing become a subsistent creature.
Every part of mine then. will by mutation be disposed into
a certain part of the whole world, and that in time into
another part; and so in infinitum; by which kind of mutation,
I also became what I am, and so did they that begot me,
and they before them, and so upwards in infinitum.
For so we may be allowed to speak, though the age and government
of the world, be to some certain periods of time limited,
and confined. XIV. Reason, and rational power,
are faculties which content themselves with themselves,
and their own proper operations. And as for their first
inclination and motion, that they take from themselves.
But their progress is right to the end and object, which is
in their way, as it were, and lieth just before them:
that is, which is feasible and possible, whether it be
that which at the first they proposed to themselves, or no.
For which reason also such actions are termed katorqwseiz to
intimate the directness of the way, by which they are achieved.
Nothing must be thought to belong to a man, which doth not
belong unto him as he is a man. These, the event of purposes,
are not things required in a man. The nature of man doth
not profess any such things. The final ends and consummations
of actions are nothing at all to a man's nature.
The end therefore of a man, or the summum bonum whereby
that end is fulfilled, cannot consist in the consummation
of actions purposed and intended. Again, concerning these
outward worldly things, were it so that any of them did
properly belong unto man, then would it not belong unto man,
to condemn them and to stand in opposition with them.
Neither would he be praiseworthy that can live without them;
or he good, (if these were good indeed) who of his own accord
doth deprive himself of any of them. But we see contrariwise,
that the more a man doth withdraw himself from these wherein
external pomp and greatness doth consist, or any other like these;
or the better he doth bear with the loss of these, the better
he is accounted.
XV. Such as thy thoughts and ordinary cogitations are,
such will thy mind be in time. For the soul doth as it were
receive its tincture from the fancies, and imaginations.
Dye it therefore and thoroughly soak it with the assiduity
of these cogitations. As for example. Wheresoever thou
mayest live, there it is in thy power to live well and happy.
But thou mayest live at the Court, there then also mayest thou
live well and happy. Again, that which everything is made for,
he is also made unto that, and cannot but naturally incline unto it.
That which anything doth naturally incline unto, therein is his end.
Wherein the end of everything doth consist, therein also
doth his good and benefit consist. Society therefore
is the proper good of a rational creature. For that we
are made for society, it hath long since been demonstrated.
Or can any man make any question of this, that whatsoever
is naturally worse and inferior, is ordinarily subordinated
to that which is better? and that those things that are best,
are made one for another? And those things that have souls,
are better than those that have none? and of those that have,
those best that have rational souls?
XVI. To desire things impossible is the part of a mad man.
But it is a thing impossible, that wicked man should not commit
some such things. Neither doth anything happen to any man,
which in the ordinary course of nature as natural unto him doth
not happen. Again, the same things happen unto others also.
And truly, if either he that is ignorant that such a thing hath
happened unto him, or he that is ambitious to be commended
for his magnanimity, can be patient, and is not grieved:
is it not a grievous thing, that either ignorance, or a vain
desire to please and to be commended, should be more powerful
and effectual than true prudence? As for the things themselves,
they touch not the soul, neither can they have any access unto it:
neither can they of themselves any ways either affect it,
or move it. For she herself alone can affect and move herself,
and according as the dogmata and opinions are, which she doth
vouchsafe herself; so are those things which, as accessories,
have any co-existence with her.
XVII. After one consideration, man is nearest unto us;
as we are bound to do them good, and to bear with them.
But as he may oppose any of our true proper actions, so man
is unto me but as a thing indifferent: even as the sun,
or the wind, or some wild beast. By some of these it may be,
that some operation or other of mine, may be hindered;
however, of my mind and resolution itself, there can be no let
or impediment, by reason of that ordinary constant both exception
(or reservation wherewith it inclineth) and ready conversion
of objects; from that which may not be, to that which may be,
which in the prosecution of its inclinations, as occasion serves,
it doth observe. For by these the mind doth turn and convert
any impediment whatsoever, to be her aim and purpose.
So that what before was the impediment, is now the principal
object of her working; and that whihch before was in her way,
is now her readiest way. XVIII. Honour that which is
chiefest and most powerful in the world, and that is it,
which makes use of all things, and governs all things.
So also in thyself; honour that which is chiefest, and most powerful;
and is of one kind and nature with that which we now spake of.
For it is the very same, which being in thee, turneth all other
things to its own use, and by whom also thy life is governed.
XIX. That which doth not hurt the city itself; cannot hurt
any citizen. This rule thou must remember to apply and make
use of upon every conceit and apprehension of wrong.
If the whole city be not hurt by this, neither am I certainly.
And if the whole be not, why should I make it my private grievance?
consider rather what it is wherein he is overseen that is thought
to have done the wrong. Again, often meditate how swiftly all
things that subsist, and all things that are done in the world,
are carried away, and as it were conveyed out of sight:
for both the substance themselves, we see as a flood,
are in a continual flux; and all actions in a perpetual change;
and the causes themselves, subject to a thousand alterations,
neither is there anything almost, that may ever be said to be now
settled and constant. Next unto this, and which follows upon it,
consider both the infiniteness of the time already past,
and the immense vastness of that which is to come, wherein all
things are to be resolved and annihilated. Art not thou then
a very fool, who for these things, art either puffed up with pride,
or distracted with cares, or canst find in thy heart to make such
moans as for a thing that would trouble thee for a very long time?
Consider the whole universe whereof thou art but a very little part,
and the whole age of the world together, whereof but a short
and very momentary portion is allotted unto thee, and all the fates
and destinies together, of which how much is it that comes to thy
part and share! Again: another doth trespass against me.
Let him look to that. He is master of his own disposition,
and of his own operation. I for my part am in the meantime in
possession of as much, as the common nature would have me to possess:
and that which mine own nature would have me do, I do.
XX. Let not that chief commanding part of thy soul be ever
subject to any variation through any corporal either pain
or pleasure, neither suffer it to be mixed with these, but let
it both circumscribe itself, and confine those affections
to their own proper parts and members. But if at any time
they do reflect and rebound upon the mind and understanding
(as in an united and compacted body it must needs;) then must
thou not go about to resist sense and feeling, it being natural.
However let not thy understanding to this natural sense
and feeling, which whether unto our flesh pleasant or painful,
is unto us nothing properly, add an opinion of either good
or bad and all is well.
XXI. To live with the Gods. He liveth with the Gods,
who at all times affords unto them the spectacle of a soul,
both contented and well pleased with whatsoever is afforded,
or allotted unto her; and performing whatsoever is pleasing
to that Spirit, whom (being part of himself) Jove hath appointed
to every man as his overseer and governor.
XXII. Be not angry neither with him whose breath, neither with him
whose arm holes, are offensive. What can he do? such is his
breath naturally, and such are his arm holes; and from such,
such an effect, and such a smell must of necessity proceed.
'O, but the man (sayest thou) hath understanding in him,
and might of himself know, that he by standing near, cannot choose
but offend.' And thou also (God bless thee!) hast understanding.
Let thy reasonable faculty, work upon his reasonable faculty;
show him his fault, admonish him. If he hearken unto thee,
thou hast cured him, and there will be no more occasion of anger.
XXIII. 'Where there shall neither roarer be, nor harlot.'
Why so? As thou dost purpose to live, when thou hast retired
thyself to some such place, where neither roarer nor harlot is:
so mayest thou here. And if they will not suffer thee,
then mayest thou leave thy life rather than thy calling,
but so as one that doth not think himself anyways wronged.
Only as one would say, Here is a smoke; I will out of it.
And what a great matter is this! Now till some such thing
force me out, I will continue free; neither shall any man
hinder me to do what I will, and my will shall ever be
by the proper nature of a reasonable and sociable creature,
regulated and directed.
XXIV. That rational essence by which the universe is governed,
is for community and society; and therefore hath it both made
the things that are worse, for the best, and hath allied and knit
together those which are best, as it were in an harmony.
Seest thou not how it hath sub-ordinated, and co-ordinated? and
how it hath distributed unto everything according to its worth?
and those which have the pre-eminency and superiority above all,
hath it united together, into a mutual consent and agreement.
XXV. How hast thou carried thyself hitherto towards the Gods?
towards thy parents? towards thy brethren? towards thy wife?
towards thy children? towards thy masters? thy foster-fathers?
thy friends? thy domestics? thy servants? Is it so with thee,
that hitherto thou hast neither by word or deed wronged any of them?
Remember withal through how many things thou hast already passed,
and how many thou hast been able to endure; so that now
the legend of thy life is full, and thy charge is accomplished.
Again, how many truly good things have certainly by thee been
discerned? how many pleasures, how many pains hast thou passed
over with contempt? how many things eternally glorious hast thou
despised? towards how many perverse unreasonable men hast thou
carried thyself kindly, and discreetly?
XXVI. Why should imprudent unlearned souls trouble that which is
both learned, and prudent? And which is that that is so? she
that understandeth the beginning and the end, and hath the true
knowledge of that rational essence, that passeth through all
things subsisting, and through all ages being ever the same,
disposing and dispensing as it were this universe by certain
periods of time.
XXVII. Within a very little while, thou wilt be either ashes,
or a sceletum; and a name perchance; and perchance,
not so much as a name. And what is that but an empty sound,
and a rebounding echo? Those things which in this life are
dearest unto us, and of most account, they are in themselves
but vain, putrid, contemptible. The most weighty and serious,
if rightly esteemed, but as puppies, biting one another:
or untoward children, now laughing and then crying.
As for faith, and modesty, and justice, and truth,
they long since, as one of the poets hath it, have abandoned
this spacious earth, and retired themselves unto heaven.
What is it then that doth keep thee here, if things sensible
be so mutable and unsettled? and the senses so obscure,
and so fallible? and our souls nothing but an exhalation
of blood? and to be in credit among such, be but vanity?
What is it that thou dost stay for? an extinction, or a translation;
either of them with a propitious and contented mind.
But still that time come, what will content thee? what else,
but to worship and praise the Gods; and to do good unto men.
To bear with them, and to forbear to do them any wrong.
And for all external things belonging either to this thy
wretched body, or life, to remember that they are neither thine,
nor in thy power.
XXVIII. Thou mayest always speed, if thou wilt but make
choice of the right way; if in the course both of thine
opinions and actions, thou wilt observe a true method.
These two things be common to the souls, as of God, so of men,
and of every reasonable creature, first that in their own
proper work they cannot be hindered by anything: and secondly,
that their happiness doth consist in a disposition to,
and in the practice of righteousness; and that in these their
desire is terminated.
XXIX. If this neither be my wicked act, nor an act anyways depending
from any wickedness of mine, and that by it the public is not hurt;
what doth it concern me? And wherein can the public be hurt?
For thou must not altogether be carried by conceit and common opinion:
as for help thou must afford that unto them after thy best ability,
and as occasion shall require, though they sustain damage,
but in these middle or worldly things; but however do not thou
conceive that they are truly hurt thereby: for that is not right.
But as that old foster-father in the comedy, being now to take his leave
doth with a great deal of ceremony, require his foster-child's rhombus,
or rattle-top, remembering nevertheless that it is but a rhombus;
so here also do thou likewise. For indeed what is all this pleading
and public bawling for at the courts? O man, hast thou forgotten
what those things are! yea but they are things that others much
care for, and highly esteem of. Wilt thou therefore be a fool too ?
Once I was ; let that suffice.
XXX. Let death surprise rue when it will, and where it will,
I may be a happy man, nevertheless.
For he is a happy man, who in his lifetime dealeth unto
himself a happy lot and portion. A happy lot and portion is,
good inclinations of the soul, good desires, good actions.
THE SIXTH BOOK
I. The matter itself, of which the universe doth consist,
is of itself very tractable and pliable. That rational essence
that doth govern it, bath in itself no cause to do evil.
It bath no evil in itsell; neither can it do anything that is evil:
neither can anything be hurt by it. And all things are done
and determined according to its will and prescript.
II. Be it all one unto thee, whether half frozen or well warm;
whether only slumbering, or after a full sleep;
whether discommended or commended thou do thy duty:
or whether dying or doing somewhat else; for that also 'to die,'
must among the rest be reckoned as one of the duties and actions
of our lives.
III. Look in, let not either the proper quality, or the true worth
of anything pass thee, before thou hast fully apprehended it.
IV. All substances come soon to their change, and either
they shall be resolved by way of exhalation (if so be
that all things shall be reunited into one substance),
or as others maintain, they shall be scattered and dispersed.
As for that Rational Essence by which all things are governed,
as it best understandeth itself, both its own disposition,
and what it doth, and what matter it hath to do with and accordingly
doth all things; so we that do not, no wonder, if we wonder
at many things, the reasons whereof we cannot comprehend.
V. The best kind of revenge is, not to become like unto them.
VI. Let this be thy only joy, and thy only comfort, from one
sociable kind action without intermission to pass unto another,
God being ever in thy mind.
VII. The rational commanding part, as it alone can stir up
and turn itself; so it maketh both itself to be, and everything
that happeneth, to appear unto itself, as it will itself.
VIII. According to the nature of the universe all things particular are
determined, not according to any other nature, either about compassing and
containing; or within, dispersed and contained; or without, depending.
Either this universe is a mere confused mass, and an intricate context
of things, which shall in time be scattered and dispersed again:
or it is an union consisting of order, and administered by Providence.
If the first, why should I desire to continue any longer in this fortuit
confusion and commixtion? or why should I take care for anything else,
but that as soon as may be I may be earth again? And why should I trouble
myself any more whilst I seek to please the Gods? Whatsoever I do,
dispersion is my end, and will come upon me whether I will or no.
But if the latter be, then am not I religious in vain; then will I
be quiet and patient, and put my trust in Him, who is the Governor
of all. IX. Whensoever by some present hard occurrences thou art
constrained to be in some sort troubled and vexed, return unto thyself
as soon as may be, and be not out of tune longer than thou must needs.
For so shalt thou be the better able to keep thy part another time,
and to maintain the harmony, if thou dost use thyself to this continually;
once out, presently to have recourse unto it, and to begin again.
X. If it were that thou hadst at one time both a stepmother,
and a natural mother living, thou wouldst honour and respect her also;
nevertheless to thine own natural mother would thy refuge, and recourse
be continually. So let the court and thy philosophy be unto thee.
Have recourse unto it often, and comfort thyself in her, by whom it
is that those other things are made tolerable unto thee, and thou
also in those things not intolerable unto others.
XI. How marvellous useful it is for a man to represent unto
himself meats, and all such things that are for the mouth,
under a right apprehension and imagination! as for example:
This is the carcass of a fish; this of a bird; and this of a hog.
And again more generally; This phalernum, this excellent highly
commended wine, is but the bare juice of an ordinary grape.
This purple robe, but sheep's hairs, dyed with the blood of a shellfish.
So for coitus, it is but the attrition of an ordinary base entrail,
and the excretion of a little vile snivel, with a certain
kind of convulsion: according to Hippocrates his opinion.
How excellent useful are these lively fancies and representations
of things, thus penetrating and passing through the objects,
to make their true nature known and apparent! This must thou use
all thy life long, and upon all occasions: and then especially,
when matters are apprehended as of great worth and respect, thy art
and care must be to uncover them, and to behold their vileness,
and to take away from them all those serious circumstances
and expressions, under which they made so grave a show.
For outward pomp and appearance is a great juggler; and then especially
art thou most in danger to be beguiled by it, when (to a man's thinking)
thou most seemest to be employed about matters of moment.
XII. See what Crates pronounceth concerning Xenocrates himself.
XIII. Those things which the common sort of people do admire,
are most of them such things as are very general, and may
be comprehended under things merely natural, or naturally
affected and qualified: as stones, wood, figs, vines, olives.
Those that be admired by them that are more moderate and restrained,
are comprehended under things animated: as flocks and herds.
Those that are yet more gentle and curious, their admiration is
commonly confined to reasonable creatures only; not in general as they
are reasonable, but as they are capable of art, or of some craft
and subtile invention: or perchance barely to reasonable creatures;
as they that delight in the possession of many slaves.
But he that honours a reasonable soul in general, as it is reasonable
and naturally sociable, doth little regard anything else:
and above all things is careful to preserve his own, in the
continual habit and exercise both of reason and sociableness:
and thereby doth co-operate with him, of whose nature he doth
also participate; God.
XIV. Some things hasten to be, and others to he no more.
And even whatsoever now is, some part thereof bath already perished.
Perpetual fluxes and alterations renew the world,
as the perpetual course of time doth make the age of the world
(of itself infinite) to appear always fresh and new.
In such a flux and course of all things, what of these things
that hasten so fast away should any man regard, since among
all there is not any that a man may fasten and fix upon? as if
a man would settle his affection upon some ordinary sparrow
living by him, who is no sooner seen, than out of sight.
For we must not think otherwise of our lives, than as a mere
exhalation of blood, or of an ordinary respiration of air.
For what in our common apprehension is, to breathe in
the air and to breathe it out again, which we do daily:
so much is it and no more, at once to breathe out all thy
respirative faculty into that common air from whence but lately
(as being but from yesterday, and to-day), thou didst first
breathe it in, and with it, life.
XV. Not vegetative spiration, it is not surely (which plants have)
that in this life should be so dear unto us; nor sensitive respiration,
the proper life of beasts, both tame and wild; nor this our
imaginative faculty; nor that we are subject to be led and carried
up and down by the strength of our sensual appetites; or that we
can gather, and live together; or that we can feed: for that in effect
is no better, than that we can void the excrements of our food.
What is it then that should be dear unto us? to hear a clattering noise?
if not that, then neither to be applauded by the tongues of men.
For the praises of many tongues, is in effect no better than
the clattering of so many tongues. If then neither applause,
what is there remaining that should be dear unto thee? This I think:
that in all thy motions and actions thou be moved, and restrained
according to thine own true natural constitution and Construction only.
And to this even ordinary arts and professions do lead us.
For it is that which every art doth aim at, that whatsoever it is,
that is by art effected and prepared, may be fit for that work that it
is prepared for. This is the end that he that dresseth the vine,
and he that takes upon him either to tame colts, or to train
up dogs, doth aim at. What else doth the education of children,
and all learned professions tend unto? Certainly then it is that,
which should be dear unto us also. If in this particular it go
well with thee, care not for the obtaining of other things.
But is it so, that thou canst not but respect other things also?
Then canst not thou truly be free? then canst thou not have
self-content: then wilt thou ever be subject to passions.
For it is not possible, but that thou must be envious, and jealous,
and suspicious of them whom thou knowest can bereave thee of
such things; and again, a secret underminer of them, whom thou
seest in present possession of that which is dear unto thee.
To be short, he must of necessity be full of confusion within himself,
and often accuse the Gods, whosoever stands in need of these things.
But if thou shalt honour and respect thy mind only, that will make
thee acceptable towards thyself, towards thy friends very tractable;
and conformable and concordant with the Gods; that is,
accepting with praises whatsoever they shall think good to appoint
and allot unto thee.
XVI. Under, above, and about, are the motions of the elements;
but the motion of virtue, is none of those motions, but is somewhat
more excellent and divine. Whose way (to speed and prosper in it)
must be through a way, that is not easily comprehended.
XVII. Who can choose but wonder at them? They will not speak well
of them that are at the same time with them, and live with them;
yet they themselves are very ambitious, that they that shall follow,
whom they have never seen, nor shall ever see, should speak well of them.
As if a man should grieve that he hath not been commended by them,
that lived before him.
XVIII. Do not ever conceive anything impossible to man,
which by thee cannot, or not without much difficulty be effected;
but whatsoever in general thou canst Conceive possible and proper
unto any man, think that very possible unto thee also.
XIX. Suppose that at the palestra somebody hath all to-torn thee
with his nails, and hath broken thy head. Well, thou art wounded.
Yet thou dost not exclaim; thou art not offended with him.
Thou dost not suspect him for it afterwards, as one that watcheth
to do thee a mischief. Yea even then, though thou dost thy best to save
thyself from him, yet not from him as an enemy. It is not by way of any
suspicious indignation, but by way of gentle and friendly declination.
Keep the same mind and disposition in other parts of thy life also.
For many things there be, which we must conceit and apprehend,
as though we had had to do with an antagonist at the palestra.
For as I said, it is very possible for us to avoid and decline,
though we neither suspect, nor hate.
XX. If anybody shall reprove me, and shall make it apparent
unto me, that in any either opinion or action of mine I do err,
I will most gladly retract. For it is the truth that I
seek after, by which I am sure that never any man was hurt;
and as sure, that he is hurt that continueth in any error,
or ignorance whatsoever. XXI. I for my part will do what
belongs unto me; as for other things, whether things unsensible
or things irrational; or if rational, yet deceived and ignorant
of the true way, they shall not trouble or distract me.
For as for those creatures which are not endued with reason
and all other things and-matters of the world whatsoever
I freely, and generously, as one endued with reason,
of things that have none, make use of them. And as for men,
towards them as naturally partakers of the same reason,
my care is to carry myself sociably. But whatsoever it
is that thou art about, remember to call upon the Gods.
And as for the time how long thou shalt live to do these things,
let it be altogether indifferent unto thee, for even three
such hours are sufficient. XXII. Alexander of Macedon,
and he that dressed his mules, when once dead both came to one.
For either they were both resumed into those original rational
essences from whence all things in the world are propagated;
or both after one fashion were scattered into atoms.
XXIII Consider how many different things, whether they concern our bodies,
or our souls, in a moment of time come to pass in every one of us,
and so thou wilt not wonder if many more things or rather all things
that are done, can at one time subsist, and coexist in that both one
and general, which we call the world.
XXIV. if any should put this question unto thee, how this word
Antoninus is written, wouldst thou not presently fix thine
intention upon it, and utter out in order every letter of it?
And if any shall begin to gainsay thee, and quarrel with thee
about it; wilt thou quarrel with him again, or rather go on meekly
as thou hast begun, until thou hast numbered out every letter?
Here then likewise remember, that every duty that belongs unto
a man doth consist of some certain letters or numbers as it were,
to which without any noise or tumult keeping thyself thou must
orderly proceed to thy proposed end, forbearing to quarrel
with him that would quarrel and fall out with thee.
XXV. Is it not a cruel thing to forbid men to affect those things,
which they conceive to agree best with their own natures,
and to tend most to their own proper good and behoof?
But thou after a sort deniest them this liberty, as often as thou
art angry with them for their sins. For surely they are led
unto those sins whatsoever they be, as to their proper good
and commodity. But it is not so (thou wilt object perchance).
Thou therefore teach them better, and make it appear unto them:
but be not thou angry with them. XXVI. Death is a cessation
from the impression of the senses, the tyranny of the passions,
the errors of the mind, and the servitude of the body.
XXVII. If in this kind of life thy body be able to hold out,
it is a shame that thy soul should faint first, and give over.
take heed, lest of a philosopher thou become a mere Caesar
in time, and receive a new tincture from the court. For it
may happen if thou dost not take heed. Keep thyself therefore,
truly simple, good, sincere, grave, free from all ostentation,
a lover of that which is just, religious, kind, tender-. hearted,
strong and vigorous to undergo anything that becomes thee.
Endeavour to continue such, as philosophy (hadst thou wholly and
constantly applied thyself unto it) would have made, and secured thee.
Worship the Gods, procure the welfare of men, this life is short.
Charitable actions, and a holy disposition, is the only fruit
of this earthly life.
XXVIII. Do all things as becometh the disciple of Antoninus Pius.
Remember his resolute constancy in things that were done by him
according to reason, his equability in all things, his sanctity;
the cheerfulness of his countenance, his sweetness, and how free
he was from all vainglory; how careful to come to the true and exact
knowledge of matters in hand, and how he would by no means give
over till he did fully, and plainly understand the whole state
of the business; and how patiently, and without any contestation
he would bear with them, that did unjustly condemn him:
how he would never be over-hasty in anything, nor give ear
to slanders and false accusations, but examine and observe
with best diligence the several actions and dispositions of men.
Again, how he was no backbiter, nor easily frightened, nor suspicious,
and in his language free from all affectation and curiosity:
and how easily he would content himself with few things, as lodging,
bedding, clothing, and ordinary nourishment, and attendance.
How able to endure labour, how patient; able through his spare
diet to continue from morning to evening without any necessity of
withdrawing before his accustomed hours to the necessities of nature:
his uniformity and constancy in matter of friendship.
How he would bear with them that with all boldness and liberty opposed
his opinions; and even rejoice if any man could better advise him:
and lastly, how religious he was without superstition.
All these things of him remember, that whensoever thy last
hour shall come upon thee, it may find thee, as it did him,
ready for it in the possession of a good conscience.
XXIX. Stir up thy mind, and recall thy wits again from thy
natural dreams, and visions, and when thou art perfectly awoken,
and canst perceive that they were but dreams that troubled thee,
as one newly awakened out of another kind of sleep look upon
these worldly things with the same mind as thou didst upon those,
that thou sawest in thy sleep.
XXX. I consist of body and soul. Unto my body all things are indifferent,
for of itself it cannot affect one thing more than another with
apprehension of any difference; as for my mind, all things which are
not within the verge of her own operation, are indifferent unto her,
and for her own operations, those altogether depend of her;
neither does she busy herself about any, but those that are present;
for as for future and past operations, those also are now at this
present indifferent unto her.
XXXI. As long as the foot doth that which belongeth unto it
to do, and the hand that which belongs unto it, their labour,
whatsoever it be, is not unnatural. So a man as long as he doth
that which is proper unto a man, his labour cannot be against nature;
and if it be not against nature, then neither is it hurtful unto him.
But if it were so that happiness did consist in pleasure:
how came notorious robbers, impure abominable livers, parricides,
and tyrants, in so large a measure to have their part of pleasures?
XXXII. Dost thou not see, how even those that profess
mechanic arts, though in some respect they be no better than
mere idiots, yet they stick close to the course of their trade,
neither can they find in their heart to decline from it:
and is it not a grievous thing that an architect, or a physician
shall respect the course and mysteries of their profession,
more than a man the proper course and condition of his
own nature, reason, which is common to him and to the Gods?
XXXIII. Asia, Europe; what are they, but as corners of
the whole world; of which the whole sea, is but as one drop;
and the great Mount Athos, but as a clod, as all present
time is but as one point of eternity. All, petty things;
all things that are soon altered, soon perished.
And all things come from one beginning; either all severally
and particularly deliberated and resolved upon, by the general
ruler and governor of all; or all by necessary consequence.
So that the dreadful hiatus of a gaping lion, and all poison,
and all hurtful things, are but (as the thorn and the mire)
the necessary consequences of goodly fair things.
Think not of these therefore, as things contrary to those which
thou dost much honour, and respect; but consider in thy mind.
the true fountain of all.
XXXIV He that seeth the things that are now, hath Seen
all that either was ever, or ever shall be, for all
things are of one kind; and all like one unto another.
Meditate often upon the connection of all things in the world;
and upon the mutual relation that they have one unto another.
For all things are after a sort folded and involved one
within another, and by these means all agree well together.
For one thing is consequent unto another, by local motion,
by natural conspiration and agreement, and by substantial union,
or, reduction of all substances into one.
XXXV. Fit and accommodate thyself to that estate and to those occurrences,
which by the destinies have been annexed unto thee; and love
those men whom thy fate it is to live with; but love them truly.
An instrument, a tool, an utensil, whatsoever it be, if it be fit
for the purpose it was made for, it is as it should be though
he perchance that made and fitted it, be out of sight and gone.
But in things natural, that power which hath framed and fitted them,
is and abideth within them still: for which reason she ought
also the more to be respected, and we are the more obliged (if we
may live and pass our time according to her purpose and intention)
to think that all is well with us, and according to our own minds.
After this manner also, and in this respect it is, that he that is
all in all doth enjoy his happiness.
XXXVI. What things soever are not within the proper power
and jurisdiction of thine own will either to compass or avoid,
if thou shalt propose unto thyself any of those things
as either good, or evil; it must needs be that according
as thou shalt either fall into that which thou dost think evil,
or miss of that which thou dost think good, so wilt thou be ready
both to complain of the Gods, and to hate those men, who either
shall be so indeed, or shall by thee be suspected as the cause
either of thy missing of the one, or falling into the other.
And indeed we must needs commit many evils, if we incline to any
of these things, more or less, with an opinion of any difference.
But if we mind and fancy those things only, as good and bad,
which wholly depend of our own wills, there is no more occasion
why we should either murmur against the Gods, or be at enmity
with any man.
XXXVII. We all work to one effect, some willingly, and with a rational
apprehension of what we do: others without any such knowledge.
As I think Heraclitus in a place speaketh of them that sleep,
that even they do work in their kind, and do confer to the general
operations of the world. One man therefore doth co-operate after
one sort, and another after another sort; but even he that doth murmur,
and to his power doth resist and hinder; even he as much as any
doth co-operate. For of such also did the world stand in need.
Now do thou consider among which of these thou wilt rank thyself.
For as for him who is the Administrator of all, he will make good use
of thee whether thou wilt or no, and make thee (as a part and member
of the whole) so to co-operate with him, that whatsoever thou doest,
shall turn to the furtherance of his own counsels, and resolutions.
But be not thou for shame such a part of the whole, as that vile
and ridiculous verse (which Chrysippus in a place doth mention)
is a part of the comedy. XXXVIII. Doth either the sun take upon him
to do that which belongs to the rain? or his son Aesculapius that,
which unto the earth doth properly belong? How is it with every one
of the stars in particular? Though they all differ one from another,
and have their several charges and functions by themselves, do they
not all nevertheless concur and co-operate to one end?
XXXIX. If so be that the Gods have deliberated in
particular of those things that should happen unto me,
I must stand to their deliberation, as discrete and wise.
For that a God should be an imprudent God, is a thing hard
even to conceive: and why should they resolve to do me
hurt? for what profit either unto them or the universe
(which they specially take care for) could arise from it?
But if so be that they have not deliberated of me in particular,
certainly they have of the whole in general, and those things
which in consequence and coherence of this general deliberation
happen unto me in particular, I am bound to embrace and accept of.
But if so be that they have not deliberated at all
(which indeed is very irreligious for any man to believe:
for then let us neither sacrifice, nor pray, nor respect
our oaths, neither let us any more use any of those things,
which we persuaded of the presence and secret conversation
of the Gods among us, daily use and practise:) but, I say,
if so be that they have not indeed either in general,
or particular deliberated of any of those things, that happen
unto us in this world; yet God be thanked, that of those things
that concern myself, it is lawful for me to deliberate myself,
and all my deliberation is but concerning that which may be to me
most profitable. Now that unto every one is most profitable,
which is according to his own constitution and nature.
And my nature is, to be rational in all my actions and as a good,
and natural member of a city and commonwealth, towards my fellow
members ever to be sociably and kindly disposed and affected.
My city and country as I am Antoninus, is Rome; as a man,
the whole world. Those things therefore that are expedient
and profitable to those cities, are the only things that are
good and expedient for me.
XL. Whatsoever in any kind doth happen to any one,
is expedient to the whole. And thus much to content us
might suffice, that it is expedient for the whole in general.
But yet this also shalt thou generally perceive, if thou dost
diligently take heed, that whatsoever doth happen to any one man
or men. . . . And now I am content that the word expedient,
should more generally be understood of those things which we
otherwise call middle things, or things indifferent;
as health, wealth, and the like.
XLI. As the ordinary shows of the theatre and of other
such places, when thou art presented with them, affect thee;
as the same things still seen, and in the same fashion,
make the sight ingrateful and tedious; so must all the things
that we see all our life long affect us. For all things,
above and below, are still the same, and from the same causes.
When then will there be an end?
XLII. Let the several deaths of men of all sorts, and of all
sorts of professions, and of all sort of nations, be a perpetual
object of thy thoughts, . . . so that thou mayst even come down
to Philistio, Phoebus, and Origanion. Pass now to other generations.
Thither shall we after many changes, where so many brave orators are;
where so many grave philosophers; Heraclitus, Pythagoras, Socrates.
Where so many heroes of the old times; and then so many brave
captains of the latter times; and so many kings. After all these,
where Eudoxus, Hipparchus, Archimedes; where so many other sharp,
generous, industrious, subtile, peremptory dispositions;
and among others, even they, that have been the greatest scoffers
and deriders of the frailty and brevity of this our human life;
as Menippus, and others, as many as there have been such as he.
Of all these consider, that they long since are all dead, and gone.
And what do they suffer by it! Nay they that have not so much
as a name remaining, what are they the worse for it? One thing
there is, and that only, which is worth our while in this world,
and ought by us much to be esteemed; and that is, according to truth
and righteousness, meekly and lovingly to converse with false,
and unrighteous men.
XLIII. When thou wilt comfort and cheer thyself, call to mind the several
gifts and virtues of them, whom thou dost daily converse with;
as for example, the industry of the one; the modesty of another;
the liberality of a third; of another some other thing.
For nothing can so much rejoice thee, as the resemblances and
parallels of several virtues, visible and eminent in the dispositions
of those who live with thee; especially when, all at once,
as near as may be, they represent themselves unto thee.
And therefore thou must have them always in a readiness.
XLIV. Dost thou grieve that thou dost weigh but so many pounds,
and not three hundred rather? Just as much reason hast thou
to grieve that thou must live but so many years, and not longer.
For as for bulk and substance thou dost content thyself
with that proportion of it that is allotted unto thee,
so shouldst thou for time. XLV. Let us do our best endeavours
to persuade them ; but however, if reason and justice lead
thee to it, do it, though they be never so much against it.
But if any shall by force withstand thee, and hinder thee in it,
convert thy virtuous inclination from one object unto another,
from justice to contented equanimity, and cheerful patience:
so that what in the one is thy hindrance, thou mayst make use
of it for the exercise of another virtue: and remember that it
was with due exception, and reservation, that thou didst
at first incline and desire. For thou didst not set thy mind
upon things impossible. Upon what then? that all thy desires
might ever be moderated with this due kind of reservation.
And this thou hast, and mayst always obtain, whether the thing
desired be in thy power or no. And what do I care for more,
if that for which I was born and brought forth into the world
(to rule all my desires with reason and discretion) may be?
XLVI. The ambitious supposeth another man's act, praise and applause,
to be his own happiness; the voluptuous his own sense and feeling;
but he that is wise, his own action.
XLVII. It is in thy power absolutely to exclude all manner
of conceit and opinion, as concerning this matter; and by
the same means, to exclude all grief and sorrow from thy soul.
For as for the things and objects themselves, they of themselves
have no such power, whereby to beget and force upon us any
opinion at all. XLVIII. Use thyself when any man speaks
unto thee, so to hearken unto him, as that in the interim
thou give not way to any other thoughts; that so thou mayst
(as far as is possible) seem fixed and fastened to his very soul,
whosoever he be that speaks unto thee.
XLIX. That which is not good for the bee-hive, cannot be good
for the bee.
L. Will either passengers, or patients, find fault and complain,
either the one if they be well carried, or the others if well cured?
Do they take care for any more than this; the one, that their shipmaster
may bring them safe to land, and the other, that their physician
may effect their recovery?
LI. How many of them who came into the world at the same time when I did,
are already gone out of it?
LII. To them that are sick of the jaundice, honey seems bitter;
and to them that are bitten by a mad dog, the water terrible;
and to children, a little ball seems a fine thing.
And why then should I be angry? or do I think that error
and false opinion is less powerful to make men transgress,
than either choler, being immoderate and excessive, to cause
the jaundice; or poison, to cause rage?
LIII. No man can hinder thee to live as thy nature doth require.
Nothing can happen unto thee, but what the common good of
nature doth require.
LIV. What manner of men they be whom they seek to please, and what to get,
and by what actions: how soon time will cover and bury all things,
and how many it hath already buried!
THE SEVENTH BOOK
I. What is wickedness ? It is that which many time
and often thou hast already seen and known in the world.
And so oft as anything doth happen that might otherwise
trouble thee, let this memento presently come to thy mind,
that it is that which thou hast already often Seen and known.
Generally, above and below, thou shalt find but the same things.
The very same things whereof ancient stories, middle age stories,
and fresh stories are full whereof towns are full, and houses full.
There is nothing that is new. All things that are, are both
usual and of little continuance.
II. What fear is there that thy dogmata, or philosophical
resolutions and conclusions, should become dead in thee,
and lose their proper power and efficacy to make thee live happy,
as long as those proper and correlative fancies, and representations
of things on which they mutually depend (which continually to stir
up and revive is in thy power,) are still kept fresh and alive?
It is in my power concerning this thing that is happened,
what soever it be, to conceit that which is right and true.
If it be, why then am I troubled? Those things that are
without my understanding, are nothing to it at all:
and that is it only, which doth properly concern me.
Be always in this mind, and thou wilt be right.
Ill. That which most men would think themselves most happy for,
and would prefer before all things, if the Gods would grant it
unto them after their deaths, thou mayst whilst thou livest grant
unto thyself; to live again. See the things of the world again,
as thou hast already seen them. For what is it else to live again?
Public shows and solemnities with much pomp and vanity,
stage plays, flocks and herds; conflicts and con tentions:
a bone thrown to a company of hungry curs; a bait for
greedy fishes; the painfulness, and continual burden-bearing
of wretched ants, the running to and fro of terrified mice:
little puppets drawn up and down with wires and nerves:
these be the objects of the world. among all these thou must
stand steadfast, meekly affected, and free from all manner
of indignation; with this right ratiocination and apprehension;
that as the worth is of those things which a man doth affect,
so is in very deed every man's worth more or less.
IV. Word after word, every one by itself, must the things that
are spoken be conceived and understood; and so the things that
are done, purpose after purpose, every one by itself likewise.
And as in matter of purposes and actions, we must presently see
what is the proper use and relation of every one; so of words must
we be as ready, to consider of every one what is the true meaning,
and signification of it according to truth and nature, however it
be taken in common use.
V. Is my reason, and understanding sufficient for this, or no?
If it be sufficient, without any private applause, or public
ostentation as of an instrument, which by nature I am provided of,
I will make use of it for the work in hand, as of an instrument,
which by nature I am provided of. if it be not, and that otherwise
it belong not unto me particularly as a private duty, I will either
give it over, and leave it to some other that can better effect it:
or I will endeavour it; but with the help of some other, who with
the joint help of my reason, is able to bring somewhat to pass,
that will now be seasonable and useful for the common good.
For whatsoever I do either by myself, or with some other, the only thing
that I must intend, is, that it be good and expedient for the public.
For as for praise, consider how many who once were much commended,
are now already quite forgotten, yea they that commended them,
how even they themselves are long since dead and gone.
Be not therefore ashamed, whensoever thou must use the help of others.
For whatsoever it be that lieth upon thee to effect, thou must
propose it unto thyself, as the scaling of walls is unto a soldier.
And what if thou through either lameness or some other impediment
art not able to reach unto the top of the battlements alone,
which with the help of another thou mayst; wilt thou therefore
give it over, or go about it with less courage and alacrity.
because thou canst not effect it all alone?
VI. Let not things future trouble thee. For if necessity so
require that they come to pass, thou shalt (whensoever that is)
be provided for them with the same reason, by which whatsoever
is now present, is made both tolerable and acceptable unto thee.
All things are linked and knitted together, and the knot is sacred,
neither is there anything in the world, that is not kind and natural
in regard of any other thing, or, that hath not some kind of reference
and natural correspondence with whatsoever is in the world besides.
For all things are ranked together, and by that decency of its due
place and order that each particular doth observe, they all concur
together to the making of one and the same ["Kosmos" ed] or world:
as if you said, a comely piece, or an orderly composition.
For all things throughout, there is but one and the same order;
and through all things, one and the same God, the same substance
and the same law. There is one common reason, and one common truth,
that belongs unto all reasonable creatures, for neither is there
save one perfection of all creatures that are of the same kind,
and partakers of the same reason.
VII. Whatsoever is material, doth soon vanish away into the common
substance of the whole; and whatsoever is formal, or, whatsoever doth
animate that which is material, is soon resumed into the common reason
of the whole; and the fame and memory of anything, is soon swallowed
up by the general age and duration of the whole.
VIII. To a reasonable creature, the same action is both according
to nature, and according to reason. IX. Straight of itself,
not made straight.
X. As several members in one body united, so are reasonable
creatures in a body divided and dispersed, all made and prepared
for one common operation. And this thou shalt apprehend the better,
if thou shalt use thyself often to say to thyself, I am meloz,
or a member of the mass and body of reasonable substances.
But if thou shalt say I am meroz, or a part, thou dost
not yet love men from thy heart. The joy that thou takest
in the exercise of bounty, is not yet grounded upon a due
ratiocination and right apprehension of the nature of things.
Thou dost exercise it as yet upon this ground barely,
as a thing convenient and fitting; not, as doing good to thyself,
when thou dost good unto others. XI. Of things that are external,
happen what will to that which can suffer by external accidents.
Those things that suffer let them complain themselves,
if they will; as for me, as long as I conceive no such thing,
that that which is happened is evil, I have no hurt;
and it is in my power not to conceive any such thing. XII.
Whatsoever any man either doth or saith, thou must be good;
not for any man's sake, but for thine own nature's sake;
as if either gold, or the emerald, or purple, should ever be
saying to themselves, Whatsoever any man either doth or saith,
I must still be an emerald, and I must keep my colour.
XIII. This may ever be my comfort and security: my understanding,
that ruleth over all, will not of itself bring trouble
and vexation upon itself. This I say; it will not put itself
in any fear, it will not lead itself into any concupiscence.
If it be in the power of any other to compel it to fear,
or to grieve, it is free for him to use his power.
But sure if itself do not of itself, through some false
opinion or supposition incline itself to any such disposition;
there is no fear. For as for the body, why should I
make the grief of my body, to be the grief of my mind?
If that itself can either fear or complain, let it.
But as for the soul, which indeed, can only be truly
sensible of either fear or grief; to which only it belongs
according to its different imaginations and opinions,
to admit of either of these, or of their contraries;
thou mayst look to that thyself, that it suffer nothing.
Induce her not to any such opinion or persuasion.
The understanding is of itself sufficient unto itself,
and needs not (if itself doth not bring itself to need) any other
thing besides itself, and by consequent as it needs nothing,
so neither can it be troubled or hindered by anything,
if itself doth not trouble and hinder itself.
XIV. What is rv&nfLovia, or happiness: but a7~o~ &d~wv, or,
a good da~rnon, or spirit? What then dost thou do here, O opinion?
By the Gods I adjure thee, that thou get thee gone, as thou earnest:
for I need thee not. Thou earnest indeed unto me according to thy ancient
wonted manner. It is that, that all men have ever been subject unto.
That thou camest therefore I am not angry with thee, only begone,
now that I have found thee what thou art.
XV. Is any man so foolish as to fear change, to which all things
that once were not owe their being? And what is it, that is
more pleasing and more familiar to the nature of the universe?
How couldst thou thyself use thy ordinary hot baths, should not
the wood that heateth them first be changed? How couldst thou
receive any nourishment from those things that thou hast eaten,
if they should not be changed? Can anything else almost
(that is useful and profitable) be brought to pass without change?
How then dost not thou perceive, that for thee also, by death,
to come to change, is a thing of the very same nature,
and as necessary for the nature of the universe?
XVI. Through the substance of the universe, as through a torrent
pass all particular bodies, being all of the same nature, and all
joint workers with the universe itself as in one of our bodies
so many members among themselves. How many such as Chrysippus,
how many such as Socrates, how many such as Epictetus,
hath the age of the world long since swallowed up and devoured?
Let this, be it either men or businesses, that thou hast
occasion to think of, to the end that thy thoughts be not
distracted and thy mind too earnestly set upon anything,
upon every such occasion presently come to thy mind.
Of all my thoughts and cares, one only thing shall be the object,
that I myself do nothing which to the proper constitution of man,
(either in regard of the thing itself, or in regard of the manner,
or of the time of doing,) is contrary. The time when thou
shalt have forgotten all things, is at hand. And that time
also is at hand, when thou thyself shalt be forgotten by all.
Whilst thou art, apply thyself to that especially which unto
man as he is a mart, is most proper and agreeable, and that is,
for a man even to love them that transgress against him.
This shall be, if at the same time that any such thing doth happen,
thou call to mind, that they are thy kinsmen; that it is through
ignorance and against their wills that they sin; and that within
a very short while after, both thou and he shall be no more.
But above all things, that he hath not done thee any hurt;
for that by him thy mind and understanding is not made worse or
more vile than it was before. XVII. The nature of the universe,
of the common substance of all things as it were of so much wax hath
now perchance formed a horse; and then, destroying that figure,
hath new tempered and fashioned the matter of it into the form
and substance of a tree: then that again into the form
and substance of a man: and then that again into some other.
Now every one of these doth subsist but for a very little while.
As for dissolution, if it be no grievous thing to the chest
or trunk, to be joined together; why should it be more grievous
to be put asunder?
XVIII. An angry countenance is much against nature, and it is
oftentimes the proper countenance of them that are at the point
of death. But were it so, that all anger and passion were so
thoroughly quenched in thee, that it were altogether impossible
to kindle it any more, yet herein must not thou rest satisfied,
but further endeavour by good consequence of true ratiocination,
perfectly to conceive and understand, that all anger and
passion is against reason. For if thou shalt not be sensible
of thine innocence; if that also shall be gone from thee,
the comfort of a good conscience, that thou doest all things
according to reason: what shouldest thou live any longer for?
All things that now thou seest, are but for a moment.
That nature, by which all things in the world are administered,
will soon bring change and alteration upon them, and then
of their substances make other things like unto them : and then
soon after others again of the matter and substance of these:
that so by these means, the world may still appear fresh
and new. XIX. Whensoever any man doth trespass against other,
presently consider with thyself what it was that he did
suppose to be good, what to be evil, when he did trespass.
For this when thou knowest, thou wilt pity him thou wilt
have no occasion either to wonder, or to be angry.
For either thou thyself dust yet live in that error
and ignorance, as that thou dust suppose either that very thing
that he doth, or some other like worldly thing, to be good;
and so thou art bound to pardon him if he have done that
which thou in the like case wouldst have done thyself.
Or if so be that thou dost not any more suppose the same things
to be good or evil, that he doth; how canst thou but be gentle
unto him that is in an error?
XX. Fancy not to thyself things future, as though they were
present but of those that are present, take some aside, that thou
takest most benefit of, and consider of them particularly,
how wonderfully thou wouldst want them, if they were not present.
But take heed withal, lest that whilst thou dust settle thy
contentment in things present, thou grow in time so to overprize them,
as that the want of them (whensoever it shall so fall out) should be
a trouble and a vexation unto thee. Wind up thyself into thyself.
Such is the nature of thy reasonable commanding part, as that if it
exercise justice, and have by that means tranquillity within itself,
it doth rest fully satisfied with itself without any other thing.
XXI. Wipe off all opinion stay the force and violence
of unreasonable lusts and affections: circumscribe the
present time examine whatsoever it be that is happened,
either to thyself or to another: divide all present objects,
either in that which is formal or material think of the last hour.
That which thy neighbour bath committed, where the guilt of it lieth,
there let it rest. Examine in order whatsoever is spoken.
Let thy mind penetrate both into the effects, and into the causes.
Rejoice thyself with true simplicity, and modesty; and that
all middle things between virtue and vice are indifferent
unto thee. Finally, love mankind; obey God. XXII. All things
(saith he) are by certain order and appointment.
And what if the elements only.
It will suffice to remember, that all things in general
are by certain order and appointment: or if it be but few.
And as concerning death, that either dispersion, or the atoms,
or annihilation, or extinction, or translation will ensue.
And as concerning pain, that that which is intolerable is soon
ended by death; and that which holds long must needs be tolerable;
and that the mind in the meantime (which is all in all)
may by way of jnterclusion, or interception, by stopping all
manner of commerce and sympathy with the body, still retain its
own tranquillity. Thy understanding is not made worse by it.
As for those parts that suffer, let them, if they can,
declare their grief themselves. As for praise and commendation,
view their mind and understanding, what estate they are in;
what kind of things they fly, and what things they seek after:
and that as in the seaside, whatsoever was before to be seen,
is by the continual succession of new heaps of sand cast up one
upon another, soon hid and covered; so in this life, all former
things by those which immediately succeed. XXIII. Out of Plato.
'He then whose mind is endowed with true magnanimity, who hath
accustomed himself to the contemplation both of all times,
and of all things in general; can this mortal life (thinkest thou)
seem any great matter unto him? It is not possible, answered he.
Then neither will such a one account death a grievous thing?
By no means.'
XXIV. Out of Antisthenes. 'It is a princely thing to do well,
and to be ill-spoken of. It is a shameful thing that the face
should be subject unto the mind, to be put into what shape it will,
and to be dressed by it as it will; and that the mind should
not bestow so much care upon herself, as to fashion herself,
and to dress herself as best becometh her.'
XXV. Out of several poets and comics. 'It will but little
avail thee, to turn thine anger and indignation upon
the things themselves that have fallen across unto thee.
For as for them, they are not sensible of it, &c. Thou
shalt but make thyself a laughing-stock; both unto the Gods
and men, &c. Our life is reaped like a ripe ear of corn;
one is yet standing and another is down, &c. But if so be that I
and my children be neglected by the gods, there is some reason
even for that, &c. As long as right and equity is of my side,
&c. Not to lament with them, not to tremble, &c'
XXVI. Out of Plato. 'My answer, full of justice and equity,
should be this: Thy speech is not right, O man! if thou
supposest that he that is of any worth at all, should apprehend
either life or death, as a matter of great hazard and danger;
and should not make this rather his only care, to examine his
own actions, whether just or unjust: whether actions of a good,
or of a wicked man, &c. For thus in very truth stands the case,
O ye men of Athens. What place or station soever a man
either hath chosen to himself, judging it best for himself;
or is by lawful authority put and settled in, therein do I think
(all appearance of danger notwithstanding) that he should continue,
as one who feareth neither death, nor anything else, so much
as he feareth to commit anything that is vicious and shameful,
&c. But, O noble sir, consider I pray, whether true generosity
and true happiness, do not consist in somewhat else rather,
than in the preservation either of our, or other men's lives.
For it is not the part of a man that is a man indeed, to desire
to live long or to make much of his life whilst he Iiveth:
but rather (he that is such) will in these things wholly refer
himself unto the Gods, and believing that which every woman can
tell him, that no man can escape death; the only thing that
he takes thought and care for is this, that what time he liveth,
he may live as well and as virtuously as he can possibly, &c. To
look about, and with the eyes to follow the course of the stars
and planets as though thou wouldst run with them; and to mind
perpetually the several changes of the elements one into another.
For such fancies and imaginations, help much to purge away the dross
and filth of this our earthly life,' &c. That also is a fine passage
of Plato's, where he speaketh of worldly things in these words:
'Thou must also as from some higher place look down, as it were,
upon the things of this world, as flocks, armies, husbandmen's labours,
marriages, divorces, generations, deaths: the tumults of courts
and places of judicatures; desert places; the several nations
of barbarians, public festivals, mournmgs, fairs, markets.'
How all things upon earth are pell-mell; and how miraculously
things contrary one to another, concur to the beauty and perfection
of this universe.
XXVII. To look back upon things of former ages, as upon the manifold
changes and conversions of several monarchies and commonwealths.
We may also foresee things future, for they shall all be of
the same kind; neither is it possible that they should leave
the tune, or break the concert that is now begun, as it were,
by these things that are now done and brought to pass in the world.
It comes all to one therefore, whether a man be a spectator
of the things of this life but forty years, or whether he see
them ten thousand years together: for what shall he see more?
'And as for those parts that came from the earth, they shall
return unto the earth again; and those that came from heaven,
they also shall return unto those heavenly places.'
Whether it be a mere dissolution and unbinding of the manifold
intricacies and entanglements of the confused atoms;
or some such dispersion of the simple and incorruptible
elements . . . 'With meats and drinks and divers charms,
they seek to divert the channel, that they might not die.
Yet must we needs endure that blast of wind that cometh from above,
though we toil and labour never so much.'
XXVIII. He hath a stronger body, and is a better wrestler
than I. What then? Is he more bountiful? is he more modest?
Doth he bear all adverse chances with more equanimity:
or with his neighbour's offences with more meekness and
gentleness than I?
XXIX. Where the matter may be effected agreeably to that reason,
which both unto the Gods and men is common, there can be no just cause
of grief or sorrow. For where the fruit and benefit of an action
well begun and prosecuted according to the proper constitution
of man may be reaped and obtained, or is sure and certain,
it is against reason that any damage should there be suspected.
In all places, and at all times, it is in thy power religiously
to embrace whatsoever by God's appointment is happened unto thee,
and justly to converse with those men, whom thou hast to do with,
and accurately to examine every fancy that presents itself,
that nothing may slip and steal in, before thou hast rightly
apprehended the true nature of it.
XXX. Look not about upon other men's minds and understandings;
but look right on forwards whither nature, both that of the universe,
in those things that happen unto thee; and thine in particular,
in those things that are done by thee: doth lead, and direct thee.
Now every one is bound to do that, which is consequent and agreeable
to that end which by his true natural constitution he was ordained unto.
As for all other things, they are ordained for the use
of reasonable creatures: as in all things we see that that
which is worse and inferior, is made for that which is better.
Reasonable creatures, they are ordained one for another.
That therefore which is chief in every man's constitution, is,
that he intend the common good. The second is, that he yield
not to any lusts and motions of the flesh. For it is the part
and privilege of the reasonable and intellective faculty,
that she can so bound herself, as that neither the sensitive,
nor the appetitive faculties, may not anyways prevail upon her.
For both these are brutish. And therefore over both she
challengeth mastery, and cannot anyways endure, if in her right temper,
to be subject unto either. And this indeed most justly.
For by nature she was ordained to command all in the body.
The third thing proper to man by his constitution, is, to avoid
all rashness and pre-cipitancy; and not to be subject to error.
To these things then, let the mind apply herself and go straight on,
without any distraction about other things, and she hath her end,
and by consequent her happiness.
XXXI. As one who had lived, and were now to die by right,
whatsoever is yet remaining, bestow that wholly as a gracious
overplus upon a virtuous life. Love and affect that only,
whatsoever it be that happeneth, and is by the fates
appointed unto thee. For what can be more reasonable?
And as anything doth happen unto thee by way of cross,
or calamity, call to mind presently and set before thine eyes,
the examples of some other men, to whom the self-same thing
did once happen likewise. Well, what did they? They grieved;
they wondered ; they complained. And where are they now?
All dead and gone. Wilt thou also be like one of them?
Or rather leaving to men of the world (whose life both
in regard of themselves, and them that they converse with,
is nothing but mere mutability; or men of as fickle minds,
as fickle bodies; ever changing and soon changed themselves:
let it be thine only care and study, how to make a right use
of all such accidents. For there is good use to be made
of them, and they will prove fit matter for thee to work upon,
if it shall be both thy care and thy desire, that whatsoever
thou doest, thou thyself mayst like and approve thyself for it.
And both these, see, that thou remember well, according as
the diversity of the matter of the action that thou art about
shall require. Look within; within is the fountain of all good.
Such a fountain, where springing waters can never fail,
so thou dig still deeper and deeper. XXXII. Thou must
use thyself also to keep thy body fixed and steady;
free from all loose fluctuant either motion, or posture.
And as upon thy face and looks, thy mind hath easily power
over them to keep them to that which is grave and decent;
so let it challenge the same power over the whole body also.
But so observe all things in this kind, as that it be without
any manner of affectation.
XXXIII. The art of true living in this world is more like a wrestler's,
than a dancer's practice. For in this they both agree, to teach a man
whatsoever falls upon him, that he may be ready for it, and that nothing
may cast him down.
XXXIV. Thou must continually ponder and consider with thyself,
what manner of men they be, and for their minds and understandings
what is their present estate, whose good word and testimony thou
dost desire. For then neither wilt thou see cause to complain
of them that offend against their wills; or find any want
of their applause, if once thou dost but penetrate into the true
force and ground both of their opinions, and of their desires.
'No soul (saith he) is willingly bereft of the truth,'
and by consequent, neither of justice, or temperance, or kindness,
and mildness; nor of anything that is of the same kind.
It is most needful that thou shouldst always remember this.
For so shalt thou be far more gentle and moderate towards all men.
XXXV. What pain soever thou art in, let this presently come
to thy mind, that it is not a thing whereof thou needest
to be ashamed, neither is it a thing whereby thy understanding,
that hath the government of all, can be made worse. For neither
in regard of the substance of it, nor in regard of the end of it
(which is, to intend the common good) can it alter and corrupt it.
This also of Epicurus mayst thou in most pains find some help of,
that it is 'neither intolerable, nor eternal;' so thou keep thyself
to the true bounds and limits of reason and give not way to opinion.
This also thou must consider, that many things there be,
which oftentimes unsensibly trouble and vex thee, as not armed
against them with patience, because they go not ordinarily under
the name of pains, which in very deed are of the same nature as pain;
as to slumber unquietly, to suffer heat, to want appetite:
when therefore any of these things make thee discontented,
check thyself with these words: Now hath pain given thee the foil;
thy courage hath failed thee.
XXXVI. Take heed lest at any time thou stand so affected,
though towards unnatural evil men, as ordinary men are commonly
one towards another.
XXXVII. How know we whether Socrates were so eminent indeed, and of
so extraordinary a disposition? For that he died more gloriously,
that he disputed with the Sophists more subtilly; that he watched in the
frost more assiduously; that being commanded to fetch innocent Salaminius,
he refused to do it more generously; all this will not serve.
Nor that he walked in the streets, with much gravity and majesty,
as was objected unto him by his adversaries: which nevertheless
a man may well doubt of, whether it were so or no, or, which above
all the rest, if so be that it were true, a man would well consider of,
whether commendable, or dis-commendable. The thing therefore that we
must inquire into, is this; what manner of soul Socrates had:
whether his disposition was such; as that all that he stood upon,
and sought after in this world, was barely this, that he might ever
carry himself justly towards men, and holily towards the Gods.
Neither vexing himself to no purpose at the wickedness of others,
nor yet ever condescending to any man's evil fact, or evil
intentions, through either fear, or engagement of friendship.
Whether of those things that happened unto him by God's appointment,
he neither did wonder at any when it did happen, or thought it
intolerable in the trial of it. And lastly, whether he never did suffer
his mind to sympathise with the senses, and affections of the body.
For we must not think that Nature hath so mixed and tempered it
with the body, as that she hath not power to circumscribe herself,
and by herself to intend her own ends and occasions.
XXXVIII. For it is a thing very possible, that a man
should be a very divine man, and yet be altogether unknown.
This thou must ever be mindful of, as of this also,
that a man's true happiness doth consist in very few things.
And that although thou dost despair, that thou shalt ever
be a good either logician, or naturalist, yet thou art never
the further off by it from being either liberal, or modest,
or charitable, or obedient unto God. XXXIX. Free from all
compulsion in all cheerfulness and alacrity thou mayst run out
thy time, though men should exclaim against thee never so much,
and the wild beasts should pull in sunder the poor members
of thy pampered mass of flesh. For what in either of these
or the like cases should hinder the mind to retain her own
rest and tranquillity, consisting both in the right judgment
of those things that happen unto her, and in the ready use
of all present matters and occasions? So that her judgment
may say, to that which is befallen her by way of cross:
this thou art in very deed, and according to thy true nature:
notwithstanding that in the judgment of opinion thou dust
appear otherwise: and her discretion to the present object;
thou art that, which I sought for. For whatsoever it be,
that is now present, shall ever be embraced by me as a fit
and seasonable object, both for my reasonable faculty,
and for my sociable, or charitable inclination to work upon.
And that which is principal in this matter, is that it may be
referred either unto the praise of God, or to the good of men.
For either unto God or man, whatsoever it is that doth happen
in the world hath in the ordinary course of nature its
proper reference; neither is there anything, that in regard
of nature is either new, or reluctant and intractable,
but all things both usual and easy.
XL. Then hath a man attained to the estate of perfection in his
life and conversation, when he so spends every day, as if it
were his last day: never hot and vehement in his affections,
nor yet so cold and stupid as one that had no sense;
and free from all manner of dissimulation.
XLI. Can the Gods, who are immortal, for the continuance of so
many ages bear without indignation with such and so many sinners,
as have ever been, yea not only so, but also take such care for them,
that they want nothing; and dust thou so grievously take on,
as one that could bear with them no longer; thou that art but for
a moment of time? yea thou that art one of those sinners thyself?
A very ridiculous thing it is, that any man should dispense
with vice and wickedness in himself, which is in his power
to restrain; and should go about to suppress it in others,
which is altogether impossible.
XLII. What object soever, our reasonable and sociable
faculty doth meet with, that affords nothing either for
the satisfaction of reason, or for the practice of charity,
she worthily doth think unworthy of herself. XLIII. When thou
hast done well, and another is benefited by thy action,
must thou like a very fool look for a third thing besides,
as that it may appear unto others also that thou hast done well,
or that thou mayest in time, receive one good turn for another?
No man useth to be weary of that which is beneficial unto him.
But every action according to nature, is beneficial.
Be not weary then of doing that which is beneficial unto thee,
whilst it is so unto others.
XLIV. The nature of the universe did once certainly before it
was created, whatsoever it hath done since, deliberate and so
resolve upon the creation of the world. Now since that time,
whatsoever it is, that is and happens in the world,
is either but a consequent of that one and first deliberation:
or if so be that this ruling rational part of the world,
takes any thought and care of things particular, they are
surely his reasonable and principal creatures, that are
the proper object of his particular care and providence.
This often thought upon, will much conduce to thy tranquillity.
THE EIGHTH BOOK
I. This also, among other things, may serve to keep thee
from vainglory; if thou shalt consider, that thou art now altogether
incapable of the commendation of one, who all his life long,
or from his youth at least, hath lived a philosopher's life.
For both unto others, and to thyself especially, it is well known,
that thou hast done many things contrary to that perfection of life.
Thou hast therefore been confounded in thy course, and henceforth it
will be hard for thee to recover the title and credit of a philosopher.
And to it also is thy calling and profession repugnant. If therefore
thou dost truly understand, what it is that is of moment indeed;
as for thy fame and credit, take no thought or care for that:
let it suffice thee if all the rest of thy life, be it more or less,
thou shalt live as thy nature requireth, or accor-ing to the true
and natural end of thy making. Take pains therefore to know
what it is that thy nature requireth, and let nothing else
distract thee. Thou hast already had sufficient experience,
that of those many things that hitherto thou hast erred and
wandered about, thou couldst not find happiness in any of them.
Not in syllogisms, and logical subtilties, not in wealth, not in
honour and reputation, not in pleasure. In none of all these.
Wherein then is it to be found? In the practice of those things,
which the nature of man, as he is a man, doth require. How then shall
he do those things? if his dogmata, or moral tenets and opinions
(from which all motions and actions do proceed), be right and true.
Which be those dogmata? Those that concern that which is good or evil,
as that there is nothing truly good and beneficial unto man,
but that which makes him just, temperate, courageous, liberal;
and that there is nothing truly evil and hurtful unto man,
but that which causeth the contrary effects.
II. Upon every action that thou art about, put this question
to thyself; How will this when it is done agree with me?
Shall I have no occasion to repent of it? Yet a very little
while and I am dead and gone; and all things are at end.
What then do I care for more than this, that my present
action whatsoever it be, may be the proper action of one that
is reasonable; whose end is, the common good; who in all things
is ruled and governed by the same law of right and reason,
by which God Himself is.
III. Alexander, Caius, Pompeius; what are these
to Diogenes, Heraclitus, and Socrates? These penetrated into
the true nature of things; into all causes, and all subjects:
and upon these did they exercise their power and authority.
But as for those, as the extent of their error was, so far
did their slavery extend.
IV. What they have done, they will still do, although thou
shouldst hang thyself. First; let it not trouble thee.
For all things both good and evil: come to pass according
to the nature and general condition of the universe,
and within a very little while, all things will be at
an end; no man will be remembered: as now of Africanus
(for example) and Augustus it is already come to pass.
Then secondly; fix thy mind upon the thing itself; look into it,
and remembering thyself, that thou art bound nevertheless
to be a good man, and what it is that thy nature requireth
of thee as thou art a man, be not diverted from what thou
art about, and speak that which seemeth unto thee most just:
only speak it kindly, modestly, and without hypocrisy.
V. That which the nature of the universe dotb busy
herself about, is; that which is here, to transfer it thither,
to change it, and thence again to take it away, and to carry it
to another place. So that thou needest not fear any new thing.
For all things are usual and ordinary; and all things are
disposed by equality. VI. Every particular nature hath content,
when in its own proper course it speeds. A reasonable nature doth
then speed, when first in matter of fancies and imaginations,
it gives no consent to that which is either false uncertain.
Secondly, when in all its motions and resolutions it takes its
level at the common good only, and that it desireth nothing,
and flieth from nothing, bet what is in its own power to compass
or avoid. And lastly, when it willingly and gladly embraceth,
whatsoever is dealt and appointed unto it by the common nature.
For it is part of it; even as the nature of any one leaf,
is part of the common nature of all plants and trees.
But that the nature of a leaf, is part of a nature both
unreasonable and unsensibIe, and which in its proper end
may be hindered; or, which is servile and slavish : whereas
the nature of man is part of a common nature which cannot
be hindered, and which is both reasonable and just.
From whence also it is, that accord ing to the worth of everything,
she doth make such equal distribution of all things, as of duration,
substance form, operation, and of events and accidents.
But herein consider not whether thou shalt find this equality
rn everything abu;oluteiy and by itself; but whether
in all the particulars of some one thing taken together,
and compared with all the particulars of some other thing,
and them together likewise.
VII. Thou hast no time nor opportunity to read. What then?
Hast thou not time and opportunity to exercise thyself, not to
wrong thyself; to strive against all carnal pleasures and pains,
and to aet the upper hand of them; to contemn honour and vainglory;
and not only, not to be angry with them, whom towards thee thou doest
find unsensible and unthankful; but also to have a care of them still,
and of their welfare? VIII. Forbear henceforth to complain
of the trouble of a courtly life, either in public before others,
or in private by thyself.
IX. Repentance is an inward and self-reprehension for the neglect
or omission of somewhat that was profitable. Now whatsoever is good,
is also profltable, and it is the part of an honest virtuous
man to set by it, and to make reckoning of it accordingly.
But never did any honest virtuous man repent of the neglect
or omission of any carnal pleasure : no carnal pleasure then
is either good or profitable.
X. This, what is it in itself, and by itself, according to its
proper constitution? What is the substance of it? What is
the matter, or proper use ? What is the form or efflcient cause?
What is it for in this world, and how long will it abide?
Thus must thou examine all things, that present themselves unto thee.
XI. When thou art hard to he stirred up and awaked out of
thy sleep, admonish thyself and call to mind, that, to perform
actions tending to the common good is that which thine own
proper constitution, and that which the nature of man do require.
]3ut to sleep, is common to unreasonable creatures also.
And what more proper and natural, yea what more kind and pleasing,
than that which is according to nature?
XII. As every fancy and imagination presents itself unto thee, consider
(if it be possible) the true nature, and the proper qualities of it,
and reason with thyself about it.
XIII. At thy first encounter with any one, say presently to thyself:
This man, what are his opinions concerning that which is good or evil?
as concerning pain, pleasure, and the causes of both; concerning honour,
and dishonour, concerning life and death? thus and thus. Now if it be
no wonder that a man should have such and such opinions, how can it be
a wonder that he should do such and such things ? I will remember then,
that he cannot but do as he doth, holding those opinions that he doth.
Remember, that as it is a shame for any man to wonder that a fig tree
should bear figs, so also to wonder that the world should bear anything,
whatsoever it is which in the ordinary course of nature it may bear.
To a physician also and to a pilot it is a shame either for the one
to wonder, that such and such a one should have an ague; or for the other,
that the winds should prove Contrary.
XIV. Remember, that to change thy mind upon occasion, and to
follow him that is able to rectify thee, is equally ingenuous,
as to find out at the first, what is right and just, without help.
For of thee nothing is required, ti, is beyond the extent of thine
own deliberation and jun. merit, arid of thine own understanding.
XV. If it were thine act and in thine own power, wi:
wouldcst thou do it ? If it were not, whom dost tin accuse?
the atoms, or the Gods? For to do either, the part of a mad man.
Thou must therefore blame nobody, but if it be in thy power,
redress what is amiss; if it be not, to what end is it to complain?
For nothing should be done but to some certain end.
XVI. Whatsoever dieth and falleth, however and wheresoever it die and
fall, it cannot fall out of the world. here it have its abode and change,
here also shall it have its dissolution into its proper elements.
The same are the world's elements, and the elements of which thou
dost consist. And they when they are changed, they murmur not;
why shouldest thou?
XVII. Whatsoever is, was made for something: as a horse, a vine.
Why wonderest thou? The sun itself will say of itself, I was
made for something; and so hath every god its proper function.
What then were then made for? to disport and delight thyself?
See how even common sense and reason cannot brook it.
XVIII. Nature hath its end as well in the end and final consummation
of anything that is, as in the begin-nine and continuation of it.
XIX. As one that tosseth up a ball. And what is a.
ball the better, if the motion of it be upwards; or the worse
if it be downwards; or if it chance to fall upon the ground?
So for the bubble; if it continue, what it the better? and if
it dissolve, what is it the worse And so is it of a candle too.
And so must thou reason with thyself, both in matter of fame,
and in matter of death. For as for the body itself,
(the subject of death) wouldest thou know the vileness of it ?
Turn it about that thou mayest behold it the worst sides upwards
as well, as in its more ordinary pleasant shape; how doth it look,
when it is old and withered? when sick and pained? when in the act
of lust, and fornication? And as for fame. This life is short.
Both he that praiseth, and he that is praised; he that remembers,
and he that is remembered, will soon be dust and ashes.
Besides, it is but in one corner of this part of the world
that thou art praised; and yet in this corner, thou hast not
the joint praises of all men; no nor scarce of any one constantly.
And yet the whole earth itself, what is it but as one point,
in regard of the whole world?
XX. That which must be the subject of thy consideration,
is either the matter itself, or the dogma, or the operation,
or the true sense and signification.
XXI. Most justly have these things happened unto thee:
why dost not thou amend? O but thou hadst rather become
good to-morrow, than to be so to-day. XXII. Shall I do it?
I will; so the end of my action be to do good unto men.
Doth anything by way of cross or adversity happen unto me?
I accept it, with reference unto the Gods, and their providence;
the fountain of all things, from which whatsoever comes to pass,
doth hang and depend.
XXIII. By one action judge of the rest: this bathing which usually
takes up so much of our time, what is it? Oil, sweat, filth;
or the sordes of the body: an excre-mentitious viscosity,
the excrements of oil and other ointments used about the body,
and mixed with the sordes of the body: all base and loathsome.
And such almost is every part of our life; and every
worldly object. XXIV. Lucilla buried Verus; then was Lucilla
herself buried by others. So Secunda Maximus, then Secunda herself.
So Epitynchanus, Diotimus; then Epitynchanus himself.
So Antoninus Pius, Faustina his wife; then Antoninus himself.
This is the course of the world. First Celer, Adrianus;
then Adrianus himself. And those austere ones; those that
foretold other men's deaths; those that were so proud
and stately, where are they now? Those austere ones I mean,
such as were Charax, and Demetrius the Platonic, and Eudaemon,
and others like unto those. They were all but for one day;
all dead and gone long since. Some of them no sooner dead,
than forgotten. Others soon turned into fables. Of others,
even that which was fabulous, is now long since forgotten.
This thereafter thou must remember, that whatsoever thou art
compounded of, shall soon be dispersed, and that thy life and breath,
or thy soul, shall either he no more or shall ranslated,
and appointed to some certain place and station. XXV. The true
joy of a man, is to do that which properly belongs unto a man.
That which is most proper unto a man, is, first, to he kindly
affected towards them that are of the same kind and nature as he is
himself to contemn all sensual motions and appetites, to discern
rightly all plausible fancies and imaginations, to contemplate
the nature of the universe; both it, and things that are done in it.
In which kind of con templation three several relations are
to be observed The first, to the apparent secondary cause.
The Second to the first original cause, God, from whom
originally proceeds whatsoever doth happen in the world.
The third and last, to them that we live and converse with:
what use may be made of it, to their use and benefit XXVI.
If pain be an evil, either it is in regard of the body; (and that
cannot be, because the body of itself is altogether insensible:)
or in regard of the soul But it is in the power of the soul,
to preserve her own peace and tranquillity, and not to suppose
that pain is evil. For all judgment and deliberation;
all prosecution, or aversation is from within, whither the sense
of evil (except it be let in by opinion) cannot penetrate.
XXVII. Wipe off all idle fancies, and say unto thyselF incessantly;
Now if I will, it is in my power to keep out of this my soul
all wickedness, all lust, and concupiscences, all trouble
and confusion. But on the contrary to behold and consider
all things according to their true nature, and to carry
myself towards everything according to its true worth.
Remember then this thy power that nature hath given thee.
XXVIII. Whether thou speak in the Senate or whether thou speak
to any particular, let thy speech In always grave and modest.
But thou must not openly and vulgarly observe that sound
and exact form of speaking, concerning that which is truly good
and truly civil; the vanity of the world, and of worldly men:
which otherwise truth and reason doth prescribe.
XXIX. Augustus his court; his wife, his daughter, his nephews,
his sons-in-law his sister, Agrippa, his kinsmen, his domestics,
his friends; Areus, Maecenas, his slayers of beasts for sacrifice
and divination: there thou hast the death of a whole court together.
Proceed now on to the rest that have been since that of Augustus.
Hath death dwelt with them otherwise, though so many and so stately
whilst they lived, than it doth use to deal with any one particular man?
Consider now the death of a whole kindred and family,
as of that of the Pompeys, as that also that useth to be written
upon some monuments, HE WASS THE LAST OF HIS OWN KINDRED.
O what care did his predecessors take, that they might leave a successor,
yet behold at last one or other must of necessity be THE LAST.
Here again therefore consider the death of a whole kindred.
XXX. Contract thy whole life to the measure and proportion of one
single action. And if in every particular action thou dost perform
what is fitting to the utmost of thy power, let it suffice thee.
And who can hinder thee, but that thou mayest perform what
is fitting? But there may be some outward let and impediment.
Not any, that can hinder thee, but that whatsoever thou dost,
thou may do it, justly, temperately, and with the praise of God.
Yea, but there may be somewhat, whereby some operation or other
of thine may he hindered. And then, with that very thing that
doth hinder, thou mayest he well pleased, and so by this gentle
and equanimious conversion of thy mind unto that which may be,
instead of that which at first thou didst intend, in the room
of that former action there succeedeth another, which agrees
as well with this contraction of thy life, that we now speak of.
XXXI. Receive temporal blessings without ostentation, when they are sent
and thou shalt be able to part with them with all readiness and facility
when they are taken from thee again.
XXXII. If ever thou sawest either a hand, or a foot, or a head
lying by itself, in some place or other, as cut off from the rest
of the body, such must thou conceive him to make himself, as much
as in him lieth, that either is offended with anything that is happened,
(whatsoever it be) and as it were divides himself from it:
or that commits anything against the natural law of mutual correspondence,
and society among men: or, he that, commits any act of uncharitableness.
Whosoever thou art, thou art such, thou art cast forth I know not
whither out of the general unity, which is according to nature.
Thou went born indeed a part, but now thou hast cut thyself off.
However, herein is matter of joy and exultation, that thou mayst be
united again. God bath not granted it unto any other part, that once
separated and cut off, it might be reunited, and come together again.
But, behold, that GOODNESS how great and immense it is! which hath
so much esteemed MAN. As at first be was so made, that he needed not,
except he would himself, have divided himself from the whole;
so once divided and cut off, IT hath so provided and ordered it,
that if he would himself, he might return, and grow together again,
and be admitted into its former rank and place of a part,
as he was before.
XXXIII. As almost all her other faculties and properties
the nature of the universe bath imparted unto every
reasonable creature, so this in particular we have received
from her, that as whatsoever doth oppose itself unto her,
and doth withstand her in her purposes and intentions, she doth,
though against its will and intention, bring it about to herself,
to serve herself of it in the execution of her own destinated ends;
and so by this though not intended co-operation of it with
herself makes it part of herself whether it will or no.
So may every reasonable creature, what crosses and impediments
soever it meets with in the course of this mortal life,
it may use them as fit and proper objects, to the furtherance
of whatsoever it intended and absolutely proposed unto itself
as its natural end and happiness.
XXXIV. Let not the general representation unto thyself of the wretchedness
of this our mortal life, trouble thee. Let not thy mind wander
up and down, and heap together in her thoughts the many troubles
and grievous calamities which thou art as subject unto as any other.
But as everything in particular doth happen, put this question
unto thyself, and say: What is it that in this present matter,
seems unto thee so intolerable? For thou wilt be ashamed to confess it.
Then upon this presently call to mind, that neither that which is future,
nor that which is past can hurt thee; but that only which is present.
(And that also is much lessened, if thou dost lightly circumscribe it:)
and then check thy mind if for so little a while, (a mere instant),
it cannot hold out with patience.
XXXV. What? are either Panthea or Pergamus abiding to this day
by their masters' tombs? or either Chabrias or Diotimus by that
of Adrianus? O foolery! For what if they did, would their masters
be sensible of It? or if sensible, would they be glad of it? or
if glad, were these immortal? Was not it appointed unto them also
(both men and women,) to become old in time, and then to die?
And these once dead, what would become of these former?
And when all is done, what is all this for, but for a mere bag
of blood and corruption? XXXVI. If thou beest quick-sighted,
be so in matter of judgment, and best discretion, saith he.
XXXVII. In the whole constitution of man, I see not any virtue
contrary to justice, whereby it may be resisted and opposed.
But one whereby pleasure and voluptuousness may be resisted
and opposed, I see: continence.