« EelmineJätka »
is but a needy flave, that hath five bushels of corn and five deniers for shis pay (6): and he that fo proudly boasts his strength, saying,
Quòd nisi quieris, Menelae hac dextrâ occides,
Shall strike thee dead-
upon a truckle bed in a garret (i). We may say the same of all those delicate minions, who are carried on a litter above the heads of the people, and the gazing mob. Their felicity is all personated, you would utterly defpise them were you to take off the mask. When you
would buy a horse, you strip it of the saddle and furniture (k): you likewise order the slave you would purchase to be turned out naked; lest any blemish of the body should be concealed: and do you estimate a man in all his trappings? nothing is more common than for jockeys and dealers of this kind to hide by some artful fleight, whatever might discredit the thing upon sale: therefore all external ornaments are to be suspected by the buyer. Should you see a leg or an arm bound up, you would immediately desire it to be unswathed, that you may inspect the whole body. Behold that King of Scythia or Samaria, with the royal diadem glittering on his head; would you know him thoroughly, take off his diadem, and you will find much mischief and cruelty beneath it. But why speak of others? If you would duly weigh yourself, throw aside your wealth, your fine seat and outward dignity: consider yourself within: you now trust to others, who do not so well know you, and therefore cannot thew you,
(a) Sphæromachiam] not the common play at ball, like our fives, which would fcarce have drawn a concourse of people together, but Sphyromachiam, as Pincian writes it, i. e. calcium et talorum pugnan, inf. foet-ball. Vid. Steph. Epift. ad Dalech. 34. P. Fab. I. 1. c. 6. Agonift. Polluc. 1. 9. Præf. Stat. Silv. 4.
(6) They generally fought in pairs, but sometimes a mixed battle, or what we call a battle royal; which is here alluded to.
(-) So Cicero, Pugiles inexercitati, etiamfi pugnos et plagas ferre pofiint, folem tamen fæpe ferre non poffunt. Boxers, not thoroughly exercised, may endure i humps and blows, when they cannot bear the violent beat of the fun. n.
(d) This is the true liberty; the end of all philosophy; and to which alludes that paradoxical decree, Solum sapientem liberum esse; that the wise man only is free.
(e) Augustus is said, when dying, to have asked, Whether he was thought to have alled his part well on the ftage of life.
Σκηνή πάς ο βίος, και παιγνιον, και μαθε παιζαν,
Be chearful; and despise a gloomy heart.
Life is a farce, &c.
Of Argos I am king : Pelops, my fire,
From Hellespont to the Ionian fea.
In superiore qui habito in cænaculo.
Regibus hic mos est, ubi equos mercantur, apertos
Examine him, uncloth’d, from head to tail.
You complain, Lucilius, that you have met with an ungrateful
If this is the first time, you ought to thank either your good fortune, or your own care and diligence. But care and diligence can do little or nothing in this respect, unless it were to make you malevoVOL. II. F
lent. For in order to shun this danger, you must never confer a benefit while
And so left benefits Mould be lost upon others, you will yourself lose the fatisfaction of conferring them. However, it would be better they were never recompensed, than not conferred. The husbandman must fow again, though he had a bad crop
year. Oftentimes the plenty of one year makes up for the long unfruitfulness of a barren soil. It is worth while, to make trial of ungrateful men, in order to find one grateful. No one is so certain in the benefits he is pleased to confer, but that sometimes he may be deceived. They must often miss a mark, ere they hit it (a). Men venture again to sea after a shipwreck. The usurer still lends his money, though he hath suffered loss by a bankrupt. Life would soon grow dull and stupid in fruitless indolence were we to meet with no rubs in our way. But let this very accident make you kind and generous. For where the event of any thing is uncertain, frequent essays must be made if you desire an
But I have said enough of this in my treatise on benefits. Our present enquiry, in a point not as yet, I think, sufficiently discussed, seems to be this, whether he that hath done us fome service, and afterwards injured us, hath not balanced the account between us, and released us of our debt? Suppose likewise this, if you please, that be bath done us more prejudice than be ever did us good.
If you apply to the judgement of one somewhat rigid in his dispofition, he will release them respectively; and will say, “ though the
injury done preponderates, yet what is over and above on this side, “ must be given to the benefit. He hath indeed hurt you, but here" tofore he was serviceable to you. The time therefore of either must “ be brought to the account.
And it is too manifest to need any par“ ticular admonition, that you ought toenquire, how willingly he served
you, and how willingly he did any thing to your prejudice. For " both injuries and benefits are to be measured by the intention. You
may say, perhaps, I should not have been so bountiful, but I was pre«« vail'd upon through fear of shame, or by the pertinacy of the im“ portunate supplicant, or by hope. Every obligation arises from “ the mind with which a benefit is confer'd: nor is the greatness of “ it confider'd, but the will of the person conferring it. Let all con“ jecture now be laid aside, and in the case before put, the benefit will
appear as such, and all beyond it, an injury; but a good man in
settling the account, will condescend to cheat himself, by adding to “ the benefit, and subtracting from the injury.”
A more candid judge in this matter would act, as I should chuse to do in the like case; forget the injury, and be always mindful of the benefit. “ It is certainly, he will say, consonant to justice, to “ give every one their own, to repay a favour, to retaliate an affront, or at least to take it ill”. All this will be true, where one man does an injury, and another confers a favour; but where they both come from the same man, the strength of the injury is extinguished in the benefit. For if it is generous to forgive a man, even though he has not really deserv'd it by any past favours, somewhat more than pardon is due to him who hath injured us, after having confer'd a benefit upon us. estimate not both alike; but take more notice of a benefit than of injury. Few know how to repay a kindness gratefully. Even an ignorant rude and vulgar fellow can return a favour, when he hath received one, upon the spot, and in some measure recompense the fame; but he knows not his obligation (6). It is the wise man alone, who knows what value is to be set upon every thing: the fool I was speaking of, however good his will may be, either repays not as much as he owes, or does it so awkardly or at such an improper time or place as lavishly to throw away the intended recompense.
There is a wonderful propriety in certain words, and the usige of the antient form of speech points out some things in the most significant and instructive terms. We are wont to say, Ille illi gratium retulit, such a one hath requited a favour. Now, referre, to requite, is to give voluntarily what you owe. We do not say, gratiam reddidit, he hath restored a thing given; for they may restore a thing, who are demanded fo to do, or unwillingly, or just when they please, or by another hand: neither
do we say, Reposuit beneficium aut solvit, he hath remitted or repaid a kindness; for no word that signifies the payment of a debt, as of money, pleaseth me in this respect. Referre, to requite, is gratefully to bring somewhat to him, from whom you have received: it signifies a voluntary retribution. He that hath requited another, hath appealed to, and fuinioned himself.
A wise man will weigh every circumstance with himself. He will consider what he hath received, from whence it came, when, where, and in what manner. And therefore we deny, that any one, save a wise man, knows how truly to requite a favour. As indeed no one but a wise man knows how to confer a benefit; he, in truth, who rejoyceth more in what he gives, than another does in what he receives. This fome perhaps will reckon among those positions that are thought strange and extravagant, and by the Greeks called [Icecade ga, Paradoxes; and they will say, what, does no one but a wise man know, how to requite a good turn? you may as well say, that no one but the wise man, knows how to pay a just debt; or, when he buys a thing, to pay a just price for it? That no blame however may be laid upon us for advancing this seeming paradox, know, that Epicurus says the fame thing; and Metrodorus expressly, solum sapientem referre gratiam scire, that the wise man alone knows how to love (c) affectionately; and no one but a wise man can be a true friend. But it is undoubtedly a part of love and friendship to requite a benefit. They may likewise wonder at our saying, that fidelity is only to be found in the wife man; as if they themfelves did not say the same thing. Do you
think a man can possibly be faithful, who knows not how to requite a courtesy? Let them cease therefore to defame us as if we had advanced what is not credible: and let them know that all that is great and honourable is to be found in the wise man; and nothing but the resemblance and appearance of it in the vulgar.
No one, I say, knows how to requite a good turn, fave the wise man. A fool indeed may do the same to the best of his knowledge, and ability: when knowledge rather may be wanting than good will: for good will is natural and not acquired. The wise man will compare all things