OUR HAPPINESS DEPENDS IN A GREAT MEASURE UPON THE CHOICE OF OUR COMPANY

The whole duty of man may be reduced to the two points of _abstinence_
and _patience_; _temperance_ in _prosperity_, and _courage_ in
_adversity_. We have already treated of the former: and the other
follows now in course.

Epicurus will have it, that a wise man will _bear all injuries_; but
the Stoics will not allow those things to be _injuries_ which Epicurus
calls so. Now, betwixt _these two_, there is the same difference that
we find betwixt two _gladiators_; the one receives wounds, but yet
maintains his ground, the other tells the people, when he is in blood,
that _it is but a scratch_, and will not suffer anybody to part them.
An _injury_ cannot be received, but it must be _done_; but it may be
_done_ and yet not _received_; as a man may be in the water, and not
swim, but if he swims, it is presumed that he is in the water. Or if
a blow or a shot be levelled at us, it may so happen that a man may
miss his aim, or some accident interpose that may divert the mischief.
That which is hurt is passive, and inferior to that which hurts it.
But you will say, that Socrates was condemned and put to death, and
so received an injury; but I answer, that the tyrants _did_ him an
injury, and yet he _received_ none. He that steals anything from me
and hides it in my own house, though I have not lost it, yet he has
stolen it. He that lies with his own wife, and takes her for another
woman, though the woman be honest, the man is an adulterer. Suppose a
man gives me a draught of poison and it proves not strong enough to
kill me, his guilt is nevertheless for the disappointment. He that
makes a pass at me is as much a murderer, though I put it by, as if he
had struck me to the heart. It is the intention, not the effect, that
makes the wickedness. He is a thief that has the will of killing and
slaying, before his hand is dipt in blood; as it is sacrilege, the very
intention of laying violent hands upon holy things. If a philosopher
be exposed to torments, the ax over his head, his body wounded, his
guts in his hands, I will allow him to groan; for virtue itself cannot
divest him of the nature of a man; but if his mind stand firm, he has
discharged his part. A great mind enables a man to maintain his station
with honor; so that he only makes use of what he meets in his way, as a
pilgrim that would fain be at his journey’s end.

It is the excellency of a great mind to _ask_ nothing, and to _want_
nothing; and to say, “I will have nothing to do with fortune, that
repulses Cato, and prefers Vatinius.” He that quits his hold,
and accounts anything good that is not honest, runs gaping after
casualties, spends his days in anxiety and vain expectation, that
man is miserable. And yet it is hard, you will say, to be banished
or cast into prison: nay, what if it were to be burnt, or any other
way destroyed? We have examples in all ages and cases, of great men
that have triumphed over all misfortunes. Metellus suffered exile
resolutely, Rutilius cheerfully; Socrates disputed in the dungeon; and
though he might have made his escape, refused it; to show the world how
easy a thing it was to subdue the two great terrors of mankind, _death_
and a _jail_. Or what shall we say of Mucius Scevola, a man only of
a military courage, and without the help either of philosophy or
letters? who, when he found that he had killed the Secretary instead of
Porsenna, (the prince,) burnt his right hand to ashes for the mistake;
and held his arm in the flame until it was taken away by his very
enemies. Porsenna did more easily pardon Mucius for his intent to kill
him than Mucius forgave _himself_ for missing of his aim. He might have
a luckier thing, but never a braver.

Did not Cato, in the last night of his life, take Plato to bed with
him, with his sword at his bed’s head; the one that he might have death
at his will, the other, that he might have it in his power; being
resolved that no man should be able to say, either that he killed or
that he saved Cato? So soon as he had composed his thoughts, he took
his sword; “Fortune,” says he, “I have hitherto fought for my country’s
liberty, and for my own, and only that I might live free among freemen;
but the cause is now lost, and Cato safe.” With that word he cast
himself upon his sword; and after the physicians that pressed in upon
him had bound up his wound, he tore it up again, and expired with the
same greatness of soul that he lived. But these are the examples, you
will say, of men famous in their generations.

Let us but consult history, and we shall find, even in the most
effeminate of nations, and the most dissolute of times, men of all
degrees, ages, and fortunes, nay, even women themselves, that have
overcome the fear of death: which, in truth, is so little to be
feared, that duly considered, it is one of the greatest benefits of
nature. It was as great an honor for Cato, when his party was broken,
that he himself stood his ground, as it would have been if he had
carried the day, and settled an universal peace: for, it is an equal
prudence, to make the best of a bad game, and to manage a good one. The
day that he was _repulsed_, he _played_, and the night that he _killed_
himself, he _read_, as valuing the loss of his life, and the missing of
an office at the same rate. People, I know, are apt to pronounce upon
other men’s infirmities by the measure of their own, and to think it
impossible that a man should be content to be burnt, wounded, killed,
or shackled, though in some cases he may. It is only for a great mind
to judge of great things; for otherwise, that which is our infirmity
will seem to be another body’s, as a straight stick in the water
appears to be crooked: he that yields, draws upon his own head his
own ruin; for we are sure to get the better of Fortune, if we do but
struggle with her. Fencers and wrestlers, we see what blows and bruises
they endure, not only for honor, but for exercise. If we turn our backs
once, we are routed and pursued; that man only is happy that draws
good out of evil, that stands fast in his judgment, and unmoved by any
external violence; or however, so little moved, that the keenest arrow
in the quiver of Fortune is but as the prick of a needle to him rather
than a wound; and all her other weapons fall upon him only as hail upon
the roof of a house, that crackles and skips off again, without any
damage to the inhabitant.

A generous and clear-sighted young man will take it for a happiness to
encounter ill fortune. It is nothing for a man to hold up his head in
a calm; but to maintain his post when all others have quitted their
ground, and there to stand upright where other men are beaten down,
this is divine and praiseworthy. What ill is there in torments, or in
those things which we commonly account grievous crosses? The great evil
is the want of courage, the bowing and submitting to them, which can
never happen to a wise man; for he stands upright under any weight;
nothing that is to be borne displeases him; he knows his strength, and
whatsoever may be any man’s lot, he never complains of, if it be his
own. Nature, he says, deceives nobody; she does not tell us whether
our children shall be fair or foul, wise or foolish, good subjects or
traitors, nor whether our fortune shall be good or bad. We must not
judge of a man by his ornaments, but strip him of all the advantages
and the impostures of Fortune, nay, of his very body too, and look into
his mind. If he can see a naked sword at his eyes without so much as
winking; if he make it a thing indifferent to him whether his life go
out at his throat or at his mouth; if he can hear himself sentenced to
torments or exiles, and under the very hand of the executioner, says
thus to himself, “All this I am provided for, and it is no more than
a man that is to suffer the fate of humanity.” This is the temper of
mind that speaks a man happy; and without this, all the confluences
of external comforts signify no more than the personating of a king
upon the stage; when the curtain is drawn, we are players again. Not
that I pretend to exempt a wise man out of a number of men, as if he
had no sense of pain; but I reckon him as compounded of body and soul;
the body is irrational, and may be galled, burnt, tortured; but the
rational part is fearless, invincible, and not to be shaken. This
it is that I reckon upon as the supreme good of man; which until it
be perfected, is but an unsteady agitation of thought, and in the
perfection an immovable stability. It is not in our contentions with
Fortune as in those of the theatre, where we may throw down our arms,
and pray for quarter; but here we must die firm and resolute. There
needs no encouragement to those things which we are inclined to by
a natural instinct, as the preservation of ourselves with ease and
pleasure; but if it comes to the trial of our faith by torments, or of
our courage by wounds, these are difficulties that we must be armed
against by philosophy and precept; and yet all this is no more than
what we were born to, and no matter of wonder at all; so that a wise
man prepares himself for it, as expecting whatsoever _may be will be_.
My body is frail, and liable not only to the impressions of violence,
but to afflictions also, that naturally succeed our pleasures. Full
meals bring crudities; whoring and drinking make the hands to shake
and the knees to tremble. It is only the surprise and newness of the
thing which makes that misfortune terrible, which, by premeditation,
might be made easy to us: for that which some people make light by
sufferance, others do by foresight. Whatsoever is necessary, we must
bear patiently. It is no new thing to die, no new thing to mourn, and
no new thing to be merry again. Must I be _poor_? I shall have company:
in _banishment_? I will think myself born there. If I _die_, I shall be
no more sick; and it is a thing I cannot do but once.

Let us never wonder at anything we are born to; for no man has reason
to complain, where we are all in the same condition. He that escapes
might have suffered; and it is but equal to submit to the law of
mortality. We must undergo the colds of winter, the heats of summer;
the distempers of the air, and the diseases of the body. A wild beast
meets us in one place, and a man that is more brutal in another; we
are here assaulted by fire, there by water. Demetrius was reserved by
Providence for the age he lived in, to show, that neither the times
could corrupt him, nor he reform the people. He was a man of an exact
judgment, steady to his purpose, and of a strong eloquence; not finical
in his words, but his sense was masculine and vehement. He was so
qualified in his life and discourse, that he served both for an example
and a reproach. If fortune should have offered that man the government
and possession of the whole world, upon condition not to lay it down
again, I dare say he would have refused it: and thus have expostulated
the matter with you: “Why should you tempt a freeman to put his
shoulder under a burden; or an honest man to pollute himself with the
dregs of mankind? Why do you offer me the spoils of princes, and of
nations, and the price not only of your blood, but of your souls?”

It is the part of a great mind to be temperate in prosperity,
resolute in adversity; to despise what the vulgar admire, and to
prefer a mediocrity to an excess. Was not Socrates oppressed with
poverty, labor, nay, the worst of wars in his own family, a fierce
and turbulent woman for his wife? were not his children indocile, and
like their mother? After seven-and-twenty years spent in arms, he
fell under a slavery to the _thirty tyrants_, and most of them his
bitter enemies: he came at last to be sentenced as “a violater of
religion, a corrupter of youth, and a common enemy to God and man.”
After this he was imprisoned, and put to death by poison, which was
all so far from working upon his mind, that it never so much as altered
his countenance. We are to bear ill accidents as unkind seasons,
distempers, or diseases; and why may we not reckon the actions of
wicked men even among those accidents; their deliberations are not
counsels but frauds, snares, and inordinate motions of the mind; and
they are never without a thousand pretences and occasions of doing a
man mischief. They have their informers, their knights of the post;
they can make an interest with powerful men, and one may be robbed
as well upon the bench as upon the highway. They lie in wait for
advantages, and live in perpetual agitation betwixt hope and fear;
whereas he that is truly composed will stand all shocks, either of
violences, flatteries, or menaces, without perturbation. It is an
inward fear that makes us curious after what we hear abroad.

It is an error to attribute either _good_ or _ill_ to _Fortune_; but
the _matter_ of it we may; and we ourselves are the occasion of it,
being in effect the artificers of our own happiness or misery: for the
mind is above fortune; if that be evil, it makes everything else so
too; but if it be right and sincere, it corrects what is wrong, and
mollifies what is hard, with modesty and courage. There is a great
difference among those that the world calls wise men. Some take up
private resolutions of opposing Fortune, but they cannot go through
with them; for they are either dazzled with splendor on the one hand,
or affrighted with terrors on the other; but there are others that will
close and grapple with Fortune, and still come off victorious.

Mucius overcame the fire; Regulus, the gibbet; Socrates, poison;
Rutilius, banishment; Cato, death; Fabricius, riches; Tubero, poverty;
and Sextius, honors. But there are some again so delicate, that they
cannot so much as bear a scandalous report; which is the same thing
as if a man should quarrel for being jostled in a crowd, or dashed as
he walks in the streets. He that has a great way to go must expect a
slip, to stumble, and to be tired. To the luxurious man frugality is a
punishment; labor and industry to the sluggard; nay, study itself is a
torment to him; not that these things are hard to us by nature, but we
ourselves are vain and irresolute; nay, we wonder many of us, how any
man can live without wine, or endure to rise so early in a morning.

A brave man must expect to be tossed; for he is to steer his course
in the teeth of Fortune, and to work against wind and weather. In the
suffering of torments, though there appears but one virtue, a man
exercises many. That which is most eminent is patience, (which is but a
branch of fortitude.) But there is prudence also in the choice of the
action, and in the bearing what we cannot avoid; and there is constancy
in bearing it resolutely: and there is the same concurrence also of
several virtues in other generous undertakings.

When Leonidas was to carry his 300 men into the Straits of Thermopylæ,
to put a stop to Xerxes’s huge army: “Come, fellow-soldiers,” says he,
“eat your dinners here as if you were to sup in another world.” And
they answered his resolution. How plain and imperious was that short
speech of Cæditius to his men upon a desperate action! and how glorious
a mixture was there in it both of bravery and prudence! “Soldiers,”
says he, “it is necessary for us to go, but it is not necessary for us
to return.” This brief and pertinent harangue was worth ten thousand
of the frivolous cavils and distinctions of the schools, which rather
break the mind than fortify it; and when it is once perplexed and
pricked with difficulties and scruples, there they leave it. Our
passions are numerous and strong, and not to be mastered with quirks
and tricks, as if a man should undertake to defend the cause of God
and man with a bulrush. It was a remarkable piece of honor and policy
together, that action of Cæsar’s upon the taking of Pompey’s cabinet at
the battle of Pharsalia: it is probable that the letters in it might
have discovered who were his friends, and who his enemies; and yet he
burnt it without so much as opening it; esteeming it the noblest way
of pardoning, to keep himself ignorant both of the offender and of
the offense. It was a brave presence of mind also in Alexander, who,
upon advice that his physician Philip intended to poison him, took
the letter of advice in one hand and the cup in the other; delivering
Philip the letter to read while he himself drank the potion.

Some are of opinion that death gives a man courage to support pain,
and that pain fortifies a man against death: but I say rather, that a
wise man depends upon himself against both, and that he does not either
suffer with patience, in hopes of death, or die willingly, because he
is weary of life; but he bears the one, and waits for the other, and
carries a divine mind through all the accidents of human life. He looks
upon faith and honesty as the most sacred good of mankind, and neither
to be forced by necessity nor corrupted by reward; kill, burn, tear him
in pieces, he will be true to his trust; and the more any man labors
to make him discover a secret, the deeper will he hide it. Resolution
is the inexpugnable defence of human weakness, and it is a wonderful
Providence that attends it.

Horatius Cocles opposed his single body to the whole army until the
bridge was cut down behind him and then leaped into the river with his
sword in his hand and came off safe to his party. There was a fellow
questioned about a plot upon the life of a tyrant, and put to the
torture to declare his confederates: he named, by one and one, all the
tyrant’s friends that were about him: and still as they were named,
they were put to death: the tyrant asked him at last if there were any
more. “Yes,” says he, “yourself were in the plot; and now you have
never another friend left in the world:” whereupon the tyrant cut the
throats of his own guards. “He is the happy man that is the master of
himself, and triumphs over the fear of death, which has overcome the
conquerors of the world.”

The comfort of life depends upon conversation. Good offices, and
concord, and human society, is like the working of an arch of stone;
all would fall to the ground if one piece did not support another.
Above all things let us have a tenderness for blood; and it is yet too
little not to hurt, unless we profit one another. We are to relieve
the distressed; to put the wanderer into his way; and to divide our
bread with the hungry: which is but the doing of good to ourselves;
for we are only several members of one great body. Nay, we are all of
a consanguinity; formed of the same materials, and designed to the
same end; this obliges us to a mutual tenderness and converse; and
the other, to live with a regard to equity and justice. The love of
society is natural; but the choice of our company is matter of virtue
and prudence. Noble examples stir us up to noble actions; and the
very history of large and public souls, inspires a man with generous
thoughts. It makes a man long to be in action, and doing something that
the world may be the better for; as protecting the weak, delivering
the oppressed, punishing the insolent. It is a great blessing the very
conscience of giving a good example; beside, that it is the greatest
obligation any man can lay upon the age he lives in.

He that converses with the proud shall be puffed up; a lustful
acquaintance makes a man lascivious; and the way to secure a man from
wickedness is to withdraw from the examples of it. It is too much to
have them _near_ us, but more to have them _within_ us—ill examples,
pleasure and ease, are, no doubt of it, great corrupters of manners.

A rocky ground hardens the horse’s hoof; the mountaineer makes the best
soldier; the miner makes the best pioneer, and severity of discipline
fortifies the mind. In all excesses and extremities of good and of ill
fortune, let us have recourse to great examples that have contemned
both. “These are the best instructors that teach in their lives, and
prove their words by their actions.”

As an ill air may endanger a good constitution, so may a place of ill
example endanger a good man, nay, there are some places that have a
kind of privilege to be licentious, and where luxury and dissolution
of manners seem to be lawful; for great examples give both authority
and excuse to wickedness. Those places are to be avoided as dangerous
to our manners. Hannibal himself was unmanned by the looseness of
Campania, and though a conqueror by his arms, he was overcome by his
pleasures. I would as soon live among butchers as among cooks—not but a
man may be temperate in any place—but to see drunken men staggering up
and down everywhere, and only the spectacle of lust, luxury and excess
before our eyes, it is not safe to expose ourselves to the temptation.
If the victorious Hannibal himself could not resist it, what shall
become of us then that are subdued, and give ground to our lusts
already? He that has to do with an enemy in his breast, has a harder
task upon him than he that is to encounter one in the field; his hazard
is greater if he loses ground, and his duty is perpetual, for he has no
place or time for rest. If I give way to pleasure, I must also yield to
grief, to poverty, to labor, ambition, anger, until I am torn to pieces
by my misfortunes and lusts. But against all this philosophy propounds
a liberty, that is to say, a liberty from the service of accidents and
fortune. There is not anything that does more mischief to mankind than
mercenary masters and philosophy, that do not live as they teach—they
give a scandal to virtue. How can any man expect that a ship should
steer a fortunate course, when the pilot lies wallowing in his own
vomit? It is a usual thing first to learn to do ill ourselves, and then
to instruct others to do so: but that man must needs be very wicked
that has gathered into himself the wickedness of other people.

The best conversation is with the philosophers—that is to say, with
such of them as teach us matter, not words—that preach to us things
necessary and keep us to the practice of them. There can be no peace in
human life without the contempt of all events. There is nothing that
either puts better thoughts into a man, or sooner sets him right that
is out of the way, than a good companion, for the example has the force
of a precept, and touches the heart with an affection to goodness; and
not only the frequent hearing and seeing of a wise man delights us, but
the very encounter of him suggests profitable contemplation such as a
man finds himself moved with when he goes into a holy place. I will
take more care with _whom_ I eat and drink than _what_, for without a
friend the table is a manger.

Writing does well, but personal discourse and conversation does better;
for men give great credit to their ears, and take stronger impressions
from example than precept. Cleanthes had never hit Zeno so to the life
if he had not been in with him at all his privacies, if he had not
watched and observed him whether or not he practised as he taught.
Plato got more from Socrates’ _manners_ than from his _words_, and it
was not the _school_, but the company and _familiarity_ of Epicurus
that made Metrodorus, Hermachus and Polyænus so famous.

Now, though it be by instinct that we covet society, and avoid
solitude, we should yet take this along with us, that the more
acquaintance the more danger: nay, there is not one man of a hundred
that is to be trusted with himself. If company cannot alter us, it may
interrupt us, and he that so much as stops upon the way loses a great
deal of a short life, which we yet make shorter by our inconstancy. If
an enemy were at our heels, what haste should we make!—but death is
so, and yet we never mind it. There is no venturing of tender and easy
natures among the people, for it is odds that they will go over to the
major party. It would, perhaps, shake the constancy of Socrates, Cato,
Lælius, or any of us all, even when our resolutions are at the height,
to stand the shock of vice that presses upon us with a kind of public
authority.

It is a world of mischief that may be done by one single example of
avarice or luxury. One voluptuous palate makes a great many. A wealthy
neighbor stirs up envy, and a fleering companion moves ill-nature
wherever he comes. What will become of those people then that expose
themselves to a popular violence? which is ill both ways; either if
they comply with the wicked, because they are many, or quarrel with
the multitude because they are not principled alike. The best way is
to retire, and associate only with those that may be the better for
us, and we for them. These respects are mutual; for while we teach, we
learn. To deal freely, I dare not trust myself in the hands of much
company: I never go abroad that I come home again the same man I went
out. Something or other that I had put in order is discomposed; some
passion that I had subdued gets head again; and it is just with our
minds as it is after a long indisposition with our bodies; we are grown
so tender, that the least breath of air exposes us to a relapse. And it
is no wonder if a numerous conversation be dangerous, where there is
scarce any single man but by his discourse, example, or behavior, does
either recommend to us, or imprint in us, or, by a kind of contagion,
insensibly infect us with one vice or other; and the more people
the greater is the peril. Especially let us have a care of public
spectacles where wickedness insinuates itself with pleasure; and, above
all others, let us avoid spectacles of cruelty and blood; and have
nothing to do with those that are perpetually whining and complaining;
there may be faith and kindness there, but no peace. People that are
either sad or fearful, we do commonly, for their own sakes, set a
guard upon them, for fear they should make an ill use of being alone;
especially the imprudent, who are still contriving of mischief, either
for others or for themselves, in cherishing their lusts, or forming
their designs. So much for the choice of a _companion_; we shall now
proceed to that of a _friend_.

Of all felicities, the most charming is that of a _firm_ and _gentle
friendship_. It sweetens all our cares, dispels our sorrows, and
counsels us in all extremities. Nay, if there were no other comfort in
it than the bare exercise of so generous a virtue, even for that single
reason, a man would not be without it. Beside, that it is a sovereign
antidote against all calamities, even against the fear of death itself.

But we are not to number our friends by the _visits_ that are made us;
and to confound the decencies of _ceremony_ and _commerce_ with the
offices of _united affections_. Caius Gracchus, and after him Livius
Drusus, were the men that introduced among the Romans the fashion of
separating their visitants; some were taken into their _closet,_ others
were only admitted into the _antechamber_: and some, again, were fain
to wait in the _hall_ perhaps, or in the _court_. So that they had
their _first_, their _second,_ and their _third_ rate friends; but none
of them true: only they are called so in course, as we salute strangers
with some title or other of respect at a venture. There is no depending
upon those men that only take their compliment in their turn, and
rather slip through the door than enter at it. He will find himself in
a great mistake, that either seeks for a friend in a palace, or tries
him at a feast.

The great difficulty rests in the choice of him; that is to say, in the
first place, let him be virtuous, for vice is contagious, and there
is no trusting the sound and the sick together; and he ought to be a
wise man too, if a body knew where to find him; but in this case, he
that is least ill is best, and the highest degree of human prudence is
only the most venial folly. That friendship where men’s affections are
cemented by an equal and by a common love of goodness, it is not either
hope or fear, or any private interest, that can ever dissolve it: but
we carry it with us to our graves, and lay down our lives for it with
satisfaction. Paulina’s good and mine (says our author) were so wrapped
up together, that in consulting her comfort I provided for my own;
and when I could not prevail upon her to take less care for me, she
prevailed upon me to take more care for myself.

Some people make it a question, whether is the greatest delight, the
enjoying of an old friendship, or the acquiring of a new one? but it
is in the preparing of a friendship, and in the possession of it,
as it is with the husbandman in sowing and reaping; his delight is
the hope of his labor in the one case, and the fruit of it in the
other. My conversation lies among my books, but yet in the letters
of a friend, methinks I have his company; and when I answer them, I
do not only write, but speak: and, in effect, a friend is an eye,
a heart, a tongue, a hand, at all distances. When friends see one
another personally, they do not see one another as they do when they
are divided, where the meditation dignifies the prospect; but they are
effectually in a great measure absent even when they are present.
Consider their nights apart, their private studies, their separate
employments, and necessary visits; and they are almost as much together
divided as present. True friends are the whole world to one another;
and he that is a friend to himself is also a friend to mankind. Even
in my very studies, the greatest delight I take in what I learn is
the teaching of it to others; for there is no relish, methinks, in
the possession of anything without a partner; nay, if wisdom itself
were offered me upon condition only of keeping it to myself, I should
undoubtedly refuse it.

Lucilius tells me, that he was written to by a friend, but cautions
me withal not to say anything to him of the affair in question; for
he himself stands upon the same guard. What is this but to affirm and
to deny the same thing in the same breath, in calling a man a friend,
whom we dare not trust as our own soul? For there must be no reserves
in friendship: as much deliberation as you please before the league
is struck, but no doubtings or jealousies after. It is a preposterous
weakness to love a man before we know him, and not to care for him
after. It requires time to consider of a friendship, but the resolution
once taken, entitles him to my very heart. I look upon my thoughts to
be as safe in his breast as in my own: I shall, without any scruple,
make him the confidant of my most secret cares and counsels.

It goes a great way toward the making of a man faithful, to let him
understand that you think him so: and he that does but so much as
suspect that I will deceive him gives me a kind of right to cozen him.
When I am with my friend, methinks I am alone, and as much at liberty
to speak anything as to think it, and as our hearts are one, so must be
our interest and convenience; for friendship lays all things in common,
and nothing can be good to the one that is ill to the other. I do not
speak of such a community as to destroy one another’s propriety; but as
the father and the mother have two children, not one apiece, but each
of them two.

But let us have a care, above all things, that our kindness be
rightfully founded; for where there is any other invitation to
friendship than the friendship itself, that friendship will be bought
and sold. He derogates upon the majesty of it that makes it only
dependent upon good fortune. It is a narrow consideration for a man
to please himself in the thought of a friend, “because,” says he, “I
shall have one to help me when I am sick, in prison, or in want.” A
brave man should rather take delight in the contemplation of doing
the same offices for another. He that loves a man for his own sake is
in an error. A friendship of interest cannot last any longer than the
interest itself, and this is the reason that men in prosperity are so
much followed, and when a man goes down the wind, nobody comes near him.

Temporary friends will never stand the test. One man is forsaken
for fear of profit, another is betrayed. It is a negotiation, not a
friendship, that has an eye to advantages; only, through the corruption
of times, that which was formerly a friendship is now become a design
upon a booty: alter your testament, and you lose your friend. But my
end of friendship is to have one dearer to me than myself, and for
the saving of whose life I would cheerfully lay down my own; taking
this along with me, that only wise men can be friends, others are but
companions; and that there is a great difference also betwixt love and
friendship; the one may sometimes do us hurt, the other always does us
good, for the one friend is hopeful to another in all cases, as well in
prosperity as in affliction. We receive comfort, even at a distance,
from those we love, but then it is light and faint; whereas, presence
and conversation touch us to the quick, especially if we find the man
we love to be such a person as we wish.

It is usual with princes to reproach the living by commending the dead,
and to praise those people for speaking truth from whom there is no
longer any danger of hearing it. This is Augustus’s case: he was forced
to banish his daughter Julia for her common and prostituted impudence;
and still upon fresh informations, he was often heard to say, “If
Agrippa or Mecenas had been now alive, this would never have been.” But
yet where the fault lay may be a question; for perchance it was his
own, that had rather complain for the want of them than seek for others
as good. The Roman losses by war and by fire, Augustus could quickly
supply and repair; but for the loss of two friends he lamented his
whole life after.

Xerxes, (a vain and a foolish prince) when he made war upon Greece, one
told him, “It would never come to a battle”;another, “That he would
find only empty cities and countries, for they would not so much as
stand the very fame of his coming;” others soothed him in the opinion
of his _prodigious numbers_; and they all concurred to puff him up to
his destruction; only Damaratus advised him not to depend too much upon
his numbers, for he would rather find them a burden to him than an
advantage: and that three hundred men in the straits of the mountains
would be sufficient to give a check to his whole army; and that such an
accident would undoubtedly turn his vast numbers to his confusion. It
fell out afterward as he foretold, and he had thanks for his fidelity.
A miserable prince, that among so many thousand subjects had but one
servant to tell him the truth!

In the distribution of human life, we find that a great part of it
passes away in _evil doing_; a greater yet in doing just _nothing at
all_: and effectually the whole in doing things _beside our business_.
Some hours we bestow upon ceremony and servile attendances; some upon
our pleasures, and the remainder runs at waste. What a deal of time
is it that we spend in hopes and fears, love and revenge, in balls,
treats, making of interests, suing for offices, soliciting of causes,
and slavish flatteries! The shortness of life, I know, is the common
complaint both of fools and philosophers; as if the time we have were
not sufficient for our duties. But it is with our lives as with our
estates, a good husband makes a little go a great way; whereas, let
the revenue of a prince fall into the hands of a prodigal, it is gone
in a moment. So that the time allotted us, if it were well employed,
were abundantly enough to answer all the ends and purposes of mankind.
But we squander it away in avarice, drink, sleep, luxury, ambition,
fawning addresses, envy, rambling, voyages, impertinent studies,
change of counsels, and the like; and when our portion is spent, we
find the want of it, though we gave no heed to it in the passage:
insomuch, that we have rather _made_ our life short than _found_ it
so. You shall have some people perpetually playing with their fingers,
whistling, humming, and talking to themselves; and others consume their
days in the composing, hearing, or reciting of songs and lampoons. How
many precious morning hours do we spend in consultation with barbers,
tailors, and tire-women, patching and painting betwixt the comb and
the glass! A council must be called upon every hair we cut; and one
curl amiss is as much as a body’s life is worth. The truth is, we are
more solicitous about our dress than our manners, and about the order
of our periwigs than that of the government. At this rate, let us but
discount, out of a life of a hundred years, that time which has been
spent upon popular negotiations, frivolous amours, domestic brawls,
sauntering up and down to no purpose, diseases that we have brought
upon ourselves, and this large extent of life will not amount perhaps
to the minority of another man. It is a _long being_, but perchance a
_short life_. And what is the reason of all this? We live as we should
never die, and without any thought of human frailty, when yet the very
moment we bestow upon this man or thing, may, peradventure, be our
last. But the greatest loss of time is delay and expectation, which
depend upon the future. We let go the present, which we have in our
own power; we look forward to that which depends upon Fortune; and so
quit a certainty for an uncertainty. We should do by time as we do by a
torrent, make use of it while we have it, for it will not last always.

The calamities of human nature may be divided into the _fear of death_,
and the _miseries and errors of life_. And it is the great work of
mankind to master the one, and to rectify the other; and so live as
neither to make life irksome to us, nor death terrible. It should be
our care, before we are old, to live well, and when we are so, to die
well; that we may expect our end without sadness: for it is the duty of
life to prepare ourselves for death; and there is not an hour we live
that does not mind us of our mortality.

Time runs on, and all things have their fate, though it lies in the
dark. The period is certain to nature, but what am I the better for it
if it be not so to me? We propound travels, arms, adventures, without
ever considering that death lies in the way. Our term is set, and
none of us know how near it is; but we are all of us agreed that the
decree is unchangeable. Why should we wonder to have that befall us
to-day which might have happened to us any minute since we were born?
Let us therefore live as if every moment were to be our last, and set
our accounts right every day that passes over our heads. We are not
ready for death, and therefore we fear it, because we do not know what
will become of us when we are gone, and that consideration strikes us
with an inexplicable terror. The way to avoid this distraction is to
contract our business and our thoughts—when the mind is once settled,
a day or an age is all one to us; and the series of time, which is now
our trouble will be then our delight; for he that is steadily resolved
against all uncertainties, shall never be disturbed with the variety of
them. Let us make haste, therefore, to live, since every day to a wise
man is a new life—for he has done his business the day before, and so
prepared himself for the next, that if it be not his last, he knows
yet that it might have been so. No man enjoys the true taste of life
but he that is willing and ready to quit it.

The wit of man is not able to express the blindness of human folly in
taking so much more care of our fortunes, our houses, and our money,
than we do of our lives—everybody breaks in upon the one _gratis_, but
we betake ourselves to fire and sword if any man invades the other.
There is no dividing in the case of patrimony, but people share our
time with us at pleasure, so profuse are we of that only thing whereof
we may be honestly covetous. It is a common practice to ask an hour
or two of a friend for such or such a business, and it is as easily
granted, both parties only considering the occasion, and not the thing
itself. They never put time to account, which is the most valuable of
all precious things; but because they do not see it they reckon upon
it as nothing: and yet these easy men when they come to die would give
the whole world for those hours again which they so inconsiderately
cast away before; but there is no recovering of them. If they could
number their days that are yet to come as they can those that are
already past, how would those very people tremble at the apprehension
of death, though a hundred years hence, that never so much as think of
it at present, though they know not but it may take them away the next
immediate minute!

It is an usual saying “I would give my life for such or such a friend,”
when, at the same time, we do give it without so much as thinking
of it; nay, when that friend is never the better for it, and we
ourselves the worse. Our time is set, and day and night we travel on.
There is no baiting by the way, and it is not in the power of either
prince or people to prolong it. Such is the love of life, that even
those decrepit dotards that have lost the use of it will yet beg the
continuance of it, and make themselves younger than they are, as if
they could cozen even Fate itself! When they fall sick, what promises
of amendment if they escape that bout! What exclamations against the
folly of their misspent time—and yet if they recover, they relapse. No
man takes care to live well, but long; when yet it is in everybody’s
power to do the former, and in no man’s to do the latter. We consume
our lives in providing the very instruments of life, and govern
ourselves still with a regard to the future, so that we do not properly
live, but we are about to live. How great a shame is it to be laying
new foundations of life at our last gasp, and for an old man (that can
only prove his age by his beard,) with one foot in the grave, to go to
school again! While we are young we may learn; our minds are tractable
and our bodies fit for labor and study; but when age comes on, we are
seized with languor and sloth, afflicted with diseases, and at last
we leave the world as ignorant as we came into it—only we _die_ worse
than we were _born_, which is none of Nature’s fault, but ours; for our
fears, suspicions, perfidy, etc., are from ourselves.

I wish with all my soul that I had thought of my end sooner, but I must
make the more haste now and spur on like those that set out late upon
a journey—it will be better to learn late than not at all—though it be
but only to instruct me how I may leave the stage with honor.

In the division of life, there is time _present_, _past_, and _to
come_. What we _do_ is _short_, what we _shall do_ is _doubtful_, but
what we _have done_ is _certain_, and out of the power of fortune. The
passage of time is wonderfully quick, and a man must look backward to
see it; and, in that retrospect, he has all past ages at a view; but
the present gives us the slip unperceived. It is but a moment that we
live, and yet we are dividing it into _childhood_, _youth_, _man’s
estate_, and _old age_, all which degrees we bring into that narrow
compass. If we do not watch, we lose our opportunities; if we do not
make haste, we are left behind; our best hours escape us, the worst are
to come. The purest part of our life runs first, and leaves only the
dregs at the bottom; and “that time which is good for nothing else, we
dedicate to virtue;” and only propound to begin to live at an age that
very few people arrive at. What greater folly can there be in the world
than this loss of time, the future being so uncertain, and the damages
so irreparable? If death be necessary, why should any man fear it? and
if the time of it be uncertain, why should not we always expect it? We
should therefore first prepare ourselves by a virtuous life against the
dread of an inevitable death; and it is not for us to put off being
good until such or such a business is over, for one business draws on
another, and we do as good as sow it, one grain produces more. It is
not enough to philosophize when we have nothing else to do, but we must
attend wisdom even to the neglect of all things else; for we are so far
from having time to spare, that the age of the world would be yet too
narrow for our business; nor is it sufficient not to omit it, but we
must not so much as intermit it.

There is nothing that we can properly call our own but our time, and
yet every body fools us out of it that has a mind to it. If a man
borrows a paltry sum of money, there must be bonds and securities, and
every common civility is charged upon account; but he that has my time,
thinks he owes me nothing for it, though it be a debt that gratitude
itself can never repay. I cannot call any man poor that has enough
still left, be it never so little: it is good advice yet to those that
have the world before them, to play the good husbands betimes, for it
is too late to spare at the bottom, when all is drawn out to the lees.
He that takes away a day from me, takes away what he can never restore
me. But our time is either _forced away_ from us, or _stolen_ from us,
or _lost_; of which the last is the foulest miscarriage. It is in life
as in a journey; a book or a companion brings us to our lodging before
we thought we were half-way. Upon the whole matter we consume ourselves
one upon another, without any regard at all to our own particular. I
do not speak of such as live in notorious scandal, but even those men
themselves, whom the world pronounces happy, are smothered in their
felicities, servants to their professions and clients, and drowned
in their lusts. We are apt to complain of the haughtiness of _great
men_, when yet there is hardly any of them all so proud but that, at
some time or other, a man may yet have access to him, and perhaps a
good word or look into the bargain. Why do we not rather complain of
_ourselves_, for being of all others, even to ourselves, the most deaf
and inaccessible.

Company and business are great devourers of time, and our vices destroy
our lives as well as our fortunes. The present is but a moment, and
perpetually in flux; the time past, we call to mind when we please, and
it will abide the examination and inspection. But the busy man has
not leisure to look back, or if he has, it is an unpleasant thing to
reflect upon a life to be repented of, whereas the conscience of a good
life puts a man into a secure and perpetual possession of a felicity
never to be disturbed or taken away: but he that has led a wicked life
is afraid of his own memory; and, in the review of himself, he finds
only appetite, avarice, or ambition, instead of virtue. But still he
that is not at leisure many times to live, must, when his fate comes,
whether he will or not, be at leisure to die. Alas! what is time to
eternity? the age of a man to the age of the world? And how much of
this little do we spend in fears, anxieties, tears, childhood! nay, we
sleep away the one half. How great a part of it runs away in luxury
and excess: the ranging of our guests, our servants, and our dishes!
As if we were to eat and drink not for satiety, but ambition. The
nights may well seem short that are so dear bought, and bestowed upon
wine and women; the day is lost in expectation of the night, and the
night in the apprehension of the morning. There is a terror in our very
pleasures; and this vexatious thought in the very height of them, that
_they will not last always_: which is a canker in the delights, even of
the greatest and the most fortunate of men.

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