Ingratitude is so dangerous to itself, and so detestable to other
people, that nature, one would think, had sufficiently provided against
it, without need of any other law. For every ungrateful man is his
own enemy, and it seems superfluous to compel a man to be kind to
himself, and to follow in his own inclinations. This, of all wickedness
imaginable, is certainly the vice which does the most divide and
distract human nature. Without the exercise and the commerce of mutual
offices, we can be neither happy nor safe for it is only society that
secures us: take us one by one, and we are a prey even to brutes as
well as to one another.

Nature has brought us into the world naked and unarmed; we have not
the teeth or the paws of lions or bears to make ourselves terrible;
but by the two blessings of reason and union, we secure and defend
ourselves against violence and fortune. This it is that makes man the
master of all other creatures, who otherwise were scarce a match for
the weakest of them. This it is that comforts us in sickness, in age,
in misery, in pains, and in the worst of calamities. Take away this
combination, and mankind is dissociated, and falls to pieces. It is
true, that there is no law established against this abominable vice;
but we cannot say yet that it escapes unpunished, for a public hatred
is certainly the greatest of all penalties; over and above that we lose
the most valuable blessings of life, in the not bestowing and receiving
of benefits. If ingratitude were to be punished by a law, it would
discredit the obligation; for a benefit to be given, not lent: and if
we have no return at all, there is no just cause of complaint: for
gratitude were no virtue, if there were any danger in being ungrateful.
There are halters, I know, hooks and gibbets, provided for homicide
poison, sacrilege, and rebellion; but ingratitude (here upon earth) is
only punished in the schools; all farther pains and inflictions being
wholly remitted to divine justice. And, if a man may judge of the
conscience by the countenance the ungrateful man is never without a
canker at his heart; his mind an aspect is sad and solicitous; whereas
the other is always cheerful and serene.

As there are no laws extant against ingratitude, so is it utterly
impossible to contrive any, that in all circumstances shall reach it.
If it were actionable, there would not be courts enough in the whole
world to try the causes in. There can be no setting a day for the
requiting of benefits as for the payment of money, nor any estimate
upon the benefits themselves; but the whole matter rests in the
conscience of both parties: and then there are so many degrees of it,
that the same rule will never serve all. Beside that, to proportion
it as the benefit is greater or less, will be both impracticable and
without reason. One good turn saves my life; another, my freedom, or
peradventure my very soul. How shall any law now suit a punishment to
an ingratitude under these differing degrees? It must not be said in
benefits as in bonds, _Pay what you owe_. How shall a man pay life,
health, credit, security, in _kind_? There can be no set rule to bound
that infinite variety of cases, which are more properly the subject of
humanity and religion than of law and public justice. There would be
disputes also about the benefit itself, which must totally depend upon
the courtesy of the judge; for no law imaginable can set it forth. One
man _gives_ me an estate; another only _lends_ me a sword, and that
sword preserves my life. Nay, the very same thing, several ways done,
changes the quality of the obligation. A word, a tone, a look, makes a
great alteration in the case. How shall we judge then, and determine
a matter which does not depend upon the fact itself, but upon the
force and intention of it? Some things are reputed benefits, not for
their value, but because we desire them: and there are offices of as
much greater value, that we do not reckon upon at all. If ingratitude
were liable to a law, we must never give but before witnesses, which
would overthrow the dignity of the benefit: and then the punishment
must either be equal where the crimes are unequal, or else it must be
unrighteous, so that blood must answer for blood. He that is ungrateful
for my saving his life must forfeit his own. And what can be more
inhuman than that benefits should conclude in sanguinary events? A
man saves my life, and I am ungrateful for it. Shall I be punished
in my purse? that is too little; if it be less than the benefit, it
is unjust, and it must be capital to be made equal to it. There are,
moreover, certain privileges granted to parents, that can never be
reduced to a common rule. Their injuries may be cognizable, but not
their benefits. The diversity of cases is too large and intricate to
be brought within the prospect of a law: so that it is much more
equitable to punish none than to punish all alike. What if a man
follows a good office with an injury; whether or no shall this quit
scores? or who shall compare them, and weigh the one against the other?
There is another thing yet which perhaps we do not dream of: not one
man upon the face of the earth would escape, and yet every man would
expect to be his judge. Once again, we are all of us ungrateful; and
the number does not only take away the shame, but gives authority and
protection to the wickedness.

It is thought reasonable by some, that there should be a law against
ingratitude; for, say they, it is common for one city to upbraid
another, and to claim that of posterity which was bestowed upon their
ancestors; but this is only clamor without reason. It is objected by
others, as a discouragement to good offices, if men shall not be made
answerable for them; but I say, on the other side, that no man would
accept of a benefit upon those terms. He that gives is prompted to it
by a goodness of mind, and the generosity of the action is lessened
by the caution: for it is his desire that the receiver should please
himself, and owe no more than he thinks fit. But what if this might
occasion fewer benefits, so long as they would be franker? nor is there
any hurt in putting a check upon rashness and profusion. In answer to
this; men will be careful enough when they oblige without a law: nor is
it possible for a judge ever to set us right in it; or indeed, anything
else, but the faith of the receiver. The honor of a benefit is this way
preserved, which is otherwise profaned, when it comes to the mercenary,
and made matter of contention. We are even forward enough of ourselves
to wrangle, without necessary provocations. It would be well, I think,
if moneys might pass upon the same conditions with other benefits, and
the payment remitted to the conscience, without formalizing upon bills
and securities: but human wisdom has rather advised with convenience
than virtue; and chosen rather to _force_ honesty than _expect_ it. For
every paltry sum of money there must be bonds, witnesses, counterparts,
powers, etc., which is no other than a shameful confession of fraud and
wickedness, when more credit is given to our seals than to our minds;
and caution taken lest he that has received the money should deny it.
Were it not better now to be deceived by some than to suspect all? what
is the difference, at this rate, betwixt the benefactor and the usurer,
save only that in the benefactor’s case there is nobody stands bound?

There is not any thing in this world, perhaps, that is more talked
of, and less understood, than the business of a _happy life_. It is
every man’s wish and design; and yet not one of a thousand that knows
wherein that happiness consists. We live, however, in a blind and eager
pursuit of it; and the more haste we make in a wrong way, the further
we are from our journey’s end. Let us therefore, _first_, consider
“what it is we should be at;” and, _secondly_, “which is the readiest
way to compass it.” If we be right, we shall find every day how much
we improve; but if we either follow the cry, or the track, of people
that are out of the way, we must expect to be misled, and to continue
our days in wandering in error. Wherefore, it highly concerns us to
take along with us a skilful guide; for it is not in this, as in other
voyages, where the highway brings us to our place of repose; or if
a man should happen to be out, where the inhabitants might set him
right again: but on the contrary, the beaten road is here the most
dangerous, and the people, instead of helping us, misguide us. Let
us not therefore follow, like beasts, but rather govern ourselves by
_reason_, than by _example_. It fares with us in human life as in a
routed army; one stumbles first, and then another falls upon him, and
so they follow, one upon the neck of another, until the whole field
comes to be but one heap of miscarriages. And the mischief is, “that
the number of the multitude carries it against truth and justice;” so
that we must leave the crowd, if we would be happy: for the question
of a _happy life_ is not to be decided by vote: nay, so far from it,
that plurality of voices is still an argument of the wrong; the common
people find it easier to believe than to judge, and content themselves
with what is usual, never examining whether it be good or not. By the
_common people_ is intended _the man of title_ as well as the _clouted
shoe_: for I do not distinguish them by the eye, but by the mind, which
is the proper judge of the man. Worldly felicity, I know, makes the
head giddy; but if ever a man comes to himself again, he will confess,
that “whatsoever he has done, he wishes undone;” and that “the things
he feared were better than those he prayed for.”

The true felicity of life is to be free from perturbations, to
understand our duties towards God and man: to enjoy the present without
any anxious dependence upon the future. Not to amuse ourselves with
either hopes or fears, but to rest satisfied with what we have, which
is abundantly sufficient; for he that is so, wants nothing. The great
blessings of mankind are within us, and within our reach; but we shut
our eyes, and, like people in the dark, we fall foul upon the very
thing which we search for without finding it. “Tranquillity is a
certain equality of mind, which no condition of fortune can either
exalt or depress.” Nothing can make it less: for it is the state of
human perfection: it raises us as high as we can go; and makes every
man his own supporter; whereas he that is borne up by any thing else
may fall. He that judges aright, and perseveres in it, enjoys a
perpetual calm: he takes a true prospect of things; he observes an
order, measure, a decorum in all his actions; he has a benevolence
in his nature; he squares his life according to reason; and draws to
himself love and admiration. Without a certain and an unchangeable
judgment, all the rest is but fluctuation: but “he that always wills
and nills the same thing, is undoubtedly in the right.” Liberty and
serenity of mind must necessarily ensue upon the mastering of those
things which either allure or affright us; when instead of those flashy
pleasures, (which even at the best are both vain and hurtful together,)
we shall find ourselves possessed of joy transporting and everlasting.
It must be a _sound mind_ that makes a _happy man_; there must be a
constancy in all conditions, a care for the things of this world, but
without trouble; and such an indifferency for the bounties of fortune,
that either with them, or without them, we may live contentedly. There
must be neither lamentation, nor quarrelling, nor sloth, nor fear;
for it makes a discord in a man’s life. “He that fears, serves.” The
joy of a wise man stands firm without interruption; in all places,
at all times, and in all conditions, his thoughts are cheerful and
quiet. As it never _came in_ to him from _without_, so it will never
leave him; but it is born within him, and inseparable from him. It
is a solicitous life that is egged on with the hope of any thing,
though never so open and easy, nay, though a man should never suffer
any sort of disappointment. I do not speak this either as a bar to the
fair enjoyment of lawful pleasures, or to the gentle flatteries of
reasonable expectations: but, on the contrary, I would have men to be
always in good humor, provided that it arises from their own souls,
and be cherished in their own breasts. Other delights are trivial;
they may smooth the brow, but they do not fill and affect the heart.
“True joy is a serene and sober motion;” and they are miserably out
that take _laughing_ for _rejoicing_. The seat of it is within, and
there is no cheerfulness like the resolution of a brave mind, that
has fortune under his feet. He that can look death in the face, and
bid it welcome; open his door to poverty, and bridle his appetites;
this is the man whom Providence has established in the possession of
inviolable delights. The pleasures of the vulgar are ungrounded, thin,
and superficial; but the others are solid and _eternal_. As the _body_
itself is rather a _necessary thing_, than a _great_; so the comforts
of it are but temporary and vain; beside that, without extraordinary
moderation, their end is only pain and repentance; whereas a peaceful
conscience, honest thoughts, virtuous actions, and an indifference for
casual events, are blessings without end, satiety, or measure. This
consummated state of felicity is only a submission to the dictate of
right nature; “The foundation of it is wisdom and virtue; the knowledge
of what we ought to do, and the conformity of the will to that

Taking for granted that _human happiness_ is founded upon _wisdom_ and
_virtue_ we shall treat of these two points in order as they lie: and,
_first_, of _wisdom_; not in the latitude of its various operations but
as it has only a regard to good life, and the happiness of mankind.

Wisdom is a right understanding, a faculty of discerning good from
evil; what is to be chosen, and what rejected; a judgment grounded upon
the value of things, and not the common opinion of them; an equality
of force, and a strength of resolution. It sets a watch over our
words and deeds, it takes us up with the contemplation of the works
of nature, and makes us invincible by either good or evil fortune. It
is large and spacious, and requires a great deal of room to work in;
it ransacks heaven and earth; it has for its object things past and
to come, transitory and eternal. It examines all the circumstances
of time; “what it is, when it began, and how long it will continue:
and so for the mind; whence it came; what it is; when it begins; how
long it lasts; whether or not it passes from one form to another, or
serves only one and wanders when it leaves us; whether it abides in a
state of separation, and what the action of it; what use it makes of
its liberty; whether or not it retains the memory of things past, and
comes to the knowledge of itself.” It is the habit of a perfect mind,
and the perfection of humanity, raised as high as Nature can carry it.
It differs from _philosophy_, as avarice and money; the one desires,
and the other is desired; the one is the effect and the reward of the
other. To be wise is the use of wisdom, as seeing is the use of eyes,
and well-speaking the use of eloquence. He that is perfectly wise is
perfectly happy; nay, the very beginning of wisdom makes life easy to
us. Neither is it enough to know this, unless we print it in our minds
by daily meditation, and so bring a _good-will_ to a good habit. And
we must practice what we preach: for _philosophy_ is not a subject for
popular ostentation; nor does it rest in words, but in things. It is
not an entertainment taken up for delight, or to give a taste to our
leisure; but it fashions the mind, governs our actions, tells us what
we are to do, and what not. It sits at the helm, and guides us through
all hazards; nay, we cannot be safe without it, for every hour gives
us occasion to make use of it. It informs us in all duties of life,
piety to our parents, faith to our friends, charity to the miserable,
judgment in counsel; it gives us _peace_ by _fearing_ nothing, and
_riches_ by _coveting nothing_.

There is no condition of life that excludes a wise man from discharging
his duty. If his fortune be good, he _tempers_ it; if bad, he _masters_
it; if he has an estate, he will exercise his virtue in plenty; if
none, in poverty: if he cannot do it in his country, he will do it in
banishment; if he has no command, he will do the office of a common
soldier. Some people have the skill of reclaiming the fiercest of
beasts; they will make a lion embrace his keeper, a tiger kiss him,
and an elephant kneel to him. This is the case of a wise man in the
extremest difficulties; let them be never so terrible in themselves,
when they come to him once, they are perfectly tame. They that ascribe
the invention of tillage, architecture, navigation, etc., to wise
men, may perchance be in the right, that they were invented by wise
men, as _wise men_; for wisdom does not teach our fingers, but our
minds: fiddling and dancing, arms and fortifications, were the works
of luxury and discord; but wisdom instructs us in the way of nature,
and in the arts of unity and concord, not in the instruments, but in
the government of life; not to make us live only, but to live happily.
She teaches us what things are good, what evil, and what only appear
so; and to distinguish betwixt true greatness and tumor. She clears
our minds of dross and vanity; she raises up our thoughts to heaven,
and carries them down to hell: she discourses of the nature of the
soul, the powers and faculties of it; the first principles of things;
the order of Providence: she exalts us from things corporeal to things
incorporeal, and retrieves the truth of all: she searches nature, gives
laws to life; and tells us, “That it is not enough to God, unless we
obey him:” she looks upon all accidents as acts of Providence: sets a
true value upon things; delivers us from false opinions, and condemns
all pleasures that are attended with repentance. She allows nothing
to be good that will not be so forever; no man to be happy but that
needs no other happiness than what he has within himself. This is the
felicity of human life; a felicity that can neither be corrupted nor
extinguished: it inquires into the nature of the heavens, the influence
of the stars; how far they operate upon our minds and bodies: which
thoughts, though they do not form our manners, they do yet raise and
dispose us for glorious things.

It is agreed upon all hands that “right reason is the perfection of
human nature,” and wisdom only the dictate of it. The greatness that
arises from it is solid and unmovable, the resolutions of wisdom being
free, absolute and constant; whereas folly is never long pleased with
the same thing, but still shifting of counsels and sick of itself.
There can be no happiness without constancy and prudence, for a wise
man is to write without a blot, and what he likes once he approves for
ever. He admits of nothing that is either evil or slippery, but marches
without staggering or stumbling, and is never surprised; he lives
always true and steady to himself, and whatsoever befalls him, this
great artificer of both fortunes turns to advantage; he that demurs
and hesitates is not yet composed; but wheresoever virtue interposes
upon the main, there must be concord and consent in the parts; for
all virtues are in agreement, as well as all vices are at variance. A
wise man, in what condition soever he is will be still happy, for he
subjects all things to himself, because he submits himself to reason,
and governs his actions by council, not by passion.

He is not moved with the utmost violence of fortune, nor with the
extremities of fire and sword; whereas a fool is afraid of his own
shadow, and surprised at ill accidents, as if they were all levelled at
him. He does nothing unwillingly, for whatever he finds necessary, he
makes it his choice. He propounds to himself the certain scope and end
of human life: he follows that which conduces to it, and avoids that
which hinders it. He is content with his lot whatever it be, without
wishing what he has not, though, of the two, he had rather abound than
want. The great business of his life like that of nature, is performed
without tumult or noise. He neither fears danger or provokes it, but
it is his caution, not any want of courage—for captivity, wounds and
chains, he only looks upon as false and lymphatic terrors. He does not
pretend to go through with whatever he undertakes, but to do that well
which he does. Arts are but the servants—wisdom commands—and where the
matter fails it is none of the workman’s fault. He is cautelous in
doubtful cases, in prosperity temperate, and resolute in adversity,
still making the best of every condition and improving all occasions to
make them serviceable to his fate. Some accidents there are, which I
confess may affect him, but not overthrow him, as bodily pains, loss of
children and friends, the ruin and desolation of a man’s country. One
must be made of stone or iron, not to be sensible of these calamities;
and, beside, it were no virtue to _bear_ them, if a body did not _feel_

There are _three degrees of proficients_ in the school of wisdom.
The _first_ are those that come within sight of it, but not up to
it—they have learned what they ought to do, but they have not put
their knowledge in practice—they are past the hazard of a relapse, but
they have still the grudges of a disease, though they are out of the
danger of it. By a disease I do understand an obstinacy in evil, or an
ill habit, that makes us over eager upon things which are either not
much to be desired, or not at all. A _second_ sort are those that have
subjected their appetites for a season, but are yet in fear of falling
back. A _third_ sort are those that are clear of many vices but not of
all. They are not covetous, but perhaps they are choleric—nor lustful,
but perchance ambitious; they are firm enough in some cases but weak
enough in others: there are many that despise death and yet shrink at
pain. There are diversities in wise men, but no inequalities—one is
more affable, another more ready, a third a better speaker; but the
felicity of them all is equal. It is in this as in heavenly bodies,
there is a _certain state_ in greatness.

In civil and domestic affairs, a wise man may stand in need of
counsel, as of a physician, an advocate, a solicitor; but in greater
matters, the blessing of wise men rests in the joy they take in the
communication of their virtues. If there were nothing else in it, a
man would apply himself to wisdom, because it settles him in a perfect
tranquillity of mind.

Virtue is that perfect good which is the complement of a _happy life_;
the only immortal thing that belongs to mortality—it is the knowledge
both of others and itself—it is an invincible greatness of mind, not
to be elevated or dejected with good or ill fortune. It is sociable
and gentle, free, steady, and fearless, content within itself, full of
inexhaustible delights, and it is valued for itself. One may be a good
physician, a good governor, a good grammarian, without being a good
man, so that all things from without are only accessories, for the seat
of it is a pure and holy mind. It consists in a congruity of actions
which we can never expect so long as we are distracted by our passions:
not but that a man may be allowed to change color and countenance, and
suffer such impressions as are properly a kind of natural force upon
the body, and not under the dominion of the mind; but all this while
I will have his judgment firm, and he shall act steadily and boldly,
without wavering betwixt the motions of his body and those of his mind.

It is not a thing indifferent, I know, whether a man lies at ease upon
a bed, or in torment upon a wheel—and yet the former may be the worse
of the two if he suffer the latter with honor, and enjoy the other
with infamy. It is not the _matter_, but the _virtue_, that makes the
action _good or ill_; and he that is led in triumph may be yet greater
than his conqueror.

When we come once to value our flesh above our honesty we are lost:
and yet I would not press upon dangers, no, not so much as upon
inconveniences, unless where the man and the brute come in competition;
and in such a case, rather than make a forfeiture of my credit, my
reason, or my faith, I would run all extremities.

They are great blessings to have tender parents, dutiful children, and
to live under a just and well-ordered government. Now, would it not
trouble even a virtuous man to see his children butchered before his
eyes, his father made a slave, and his country overrun by a barbarous
enemy? There is a great difference betwixt the simple loss of a
blessing and the succeeding of a great mischief in the place of it,
over and above. The loss of health is followed with sickness, and the
loss of sight with blindness; but this does not hold in the loss of
friends and children, where there is rather something to the contrary
to supply that loss: that is to say, _virtue_, which fills the mind,
and takes away the desire of what we have not. What matters it whether
the water be stopped or not, so long as the fountain is safe? Is a man
ever the wiser for a multitude of friends, or the more foolish for the
loss of them? so neither is he the happier, nor the more miserable.
Short life, grief and pain are accessions that have no effect at all
upon virtue. It consists in the action and not in the things we do—in
the choice itself, and not in the subject-matter of it. It is not a
despicable body or condition, nor poverty, infamy or scandal, that
can obscure the glories of virtue; but a man may see her through all
oppositions: and he that looks diligently into the state of a wicked
man will see the canker at his heart, through all the false and
dazzling splendors of greatness and fortune. We shall then discover
our _childishness_, in setting our hearts upon things trivial and
contemptible, and in the selling of our very country and parents for
a _rattle_. And what is the difference (in effect) betwixt _old men_
and _children_, but that the _one_ deals in _paintings_ and _statues_,
and the _other_ in _babies_, so that we ourselves are only the more
expensive fools.

If one could but see the mind of a good man, as it is illustrated with
virtue; the beauty and the majesty of it, which is a dignity not so
much as to be thought of without love and veneration—would not a man
bless himself at the sight of such an object as at the encounter of
some supernatural power—a power so miraculous that it is a kind of
charm upon the souls of those that are truly affected with it. There
is so wonderful a grace and authority in it that even the worst of men
approve it, and set up for the reputation of being accounted virtuous
themselves. They covet the fruit indeed, and the profit of wickedness;
but they hate and are ashamed of the imputation of it. It is by an
impression of Nature that all men have a reverence for virtue—they
know it and they have a respect for it though they do not practice
it—nay, for the countenance of their very _wickedness_, they miscall it
_virtue_. Their injuries they call _benefits_, and expect a man should
thank them for doing him a mischief—they cover their most notorious
iniquities with a pretext of justice.

He that robs upon the highway had rather find his booty than force
it; ask any of them that live upon rapine, fraud, oppression, if they
had not rather enjoy a fortune honestly gotten, and their consciences
will not suffer them to deny it. Men are vicious only for the proof of
villainy; for at the same time that they commit it they condemn it;
nay, so powerful is virtue, and so gracious is Providence, that every
man has a light set up within him for a guide, which we do, all of
us, both see and acknowledge, though we do not pursue it. This it is
that makes the prisoner upon the torture happier than the executioner,
and sickness better than health, if we bear it without yielding or
repining—this it is that overcomes ill-fortune and moderates good—for
it marches betwixt the one and the other, with an equal contempt for
both. It turns (like fire) all things into itself, our actions and our
friendships are tinctured with it, and whatever it touches becomes

That which is frail and mortal rises and falls, grows, wastes, and
varies from itself; but the state of things divine is always the same;
and so is virtue, let the matter be what it will. It is never the worse
for the difficulty of the action, nor the better for the easiness of
it. It is the same in a rich man as in a poor; in a sickly man as in a
sound; in a strong as in a weak; the virtue of the besieged is as great
as that of the besiegers. There are some virtues, I confess, which a
good man cannot be without, and yet he had rather have no occasion to
employ them. If there were any difference, I should prefer the virtues
of patience before those of pleasure; for it is braver to break through
difficulties than to temper our delights. But though the subject of
virtue may possibly be against nature, as to be burnt or wounded, yet
the virtue itself of _an invincible patience_ is according to nature.
We may seem, perhaps, to promise more than human nature is able to
perform; but we speak with a respect to the mind, and not to the body.

If a man does not live up to his own rules, it is something yet to have
virtuous meditations and good purposes, even without acting; it is
generous, the very adventure of being good, and the bare proposal of
an eminent course of life, though beyond the force of human frailty to
accomplish. There is something of honor yet in the miscarriage; nay,
in the naked contemplation of it. I would receive my own death with as
little trouble as I would hear of another man’s; I would bear the same
mind whether I be rich or poor, whether I get or lose in the world;
what I have, I will neither sordidly spare, or prodigally squander
away, and I will reckon upon benefits well-placed as the fairest part
of my possession: not valuing them by number or weight, but by the
profit and esteem of the receiver; accounting myself never the poorer
for that which I give to a worthy person. What I do shall be done for
conscience, not ostentation. I will eat and drink, not to gratify my
palate, or only to fill and empty, but to satisfy nature: I will be
cheerful to my friends, mild and placable to my enemies: I will prevent
an honest request if I can foresee it, and I will grant it without
asking: I will look upon the whole world as my country, and upon the
gods, both as the witnesses and the judges of my words and deeds. I
will live and die with this testimony, that I loved good studies, and a
good conscience; that I never invaded another man’s liberty; and that
I preserved my own. I will govern my life and my thoughts as if the
whole world were to see the one, and to read the other; for “what does
it signify to make anything a secret to my neighbor, when to God (who
is the searcher of our hearts) all our privacies are open?”

Virtue is divided into two parts, _contemplation_ and _action_. The
one is delivered by institution, the other by admonition: one part of
virtue consists in discipline, the other in exercise: for we must first
learn, and then practice. The sooner we begin to apply ourselves to
it, and the more haste we make, the longer shall we enjoy the comforts
of a rectified mind; nay, we have the fruition of it in the very act
of forming it: but it is another sort of delight, I must confess,
that arises from a contemplation of a soul which is advanced into the
possession of wisdom and virtue. If it was so great a comfort to us
to pass from the subjection of our childhood into a state of liberty
and business, how much greater will it be when we come to cast off the
boyish levity of our minds, and range ourselves among the philosophers?
We are past our minority, it is true, but not our indiscretions;
and, which is yet worse, we have the authority of seniors, and the
weaknesses of children, (I might have said of infants, for every little
thing frights the one, and every trivial fancy the other.) Whoever
studies this point well will find that many things are the less to
be feared the more terrible they appear. To think anything good that
is not honest, were to reproach Providence; for good men suffer many
inconveniences; but virtue, like the sun, goes on still with her work,
let the air be never so cloudy, and finishes her course, extinguishing
likewise all other splendors and oppositions; insomuch that calamity is
no more to a virtuous mind, than a shower into the sea. That which is
right, is not to be valued by _quantity_, _number_, or _time_; a life
of a day may be as honest as a life of a hundred years: but yet virtue
in one man may have a larger field to show itself in than in another.
One man, perhaps, may be in a station to administer unto cities and
kingdoms; to contrive good laws, create friendships, and do beneficial
offices to mankind.

For virtue is open to all; as well to servants and exiles, as to
princes: it is profitable to the world and to itself, at all distances
and in all conditions; and there is no difficulty can excuse a man from
the exercise of it; and it is only to be found in a wise man, though
there may be some faint resemblances of it in the common people. The
Stoics hold all virtues to be equal; but yet there is great variety
in the matter they have to work upon, according as it is larger or
narrower, illustrious or less noble, of more or less extent; as all
good men are equal, that is to say, as they are good; but yet one may
be young, another old; one may be rich, another poor; one eminent and
powerful, another unknown and obscure. There are many things which have
little or no grace in themselves, and are yet glorious and remarkable
by virtue. Nothing can be good which gives neither greatness nor
security to the mind; but, on the contrary, infects it with insolence,
arrogance, and tumor: nor does virtue dwell upon the tip of the tongue,
but in the temple of a purified heart. He that depends upon any other
good becomes covetous of life, and what belongs to it; which exposes a
man to appetites that are vast, unlimited, and intolerable. Virtue is
free and indefatigable, and accompanied with concord and gracefulness;
whereas pleasure is mean, servile, transitory, tiresome, and sickly
and scarce outlives the tasting of it: it is the good of the belly,
and not of the man; and only the felicity of brutes. Who does not know
that fools enjoy their pleasures, and that there is great variety in
the entertainments of wickedness? Nay, the mind itself has its variety
of perverse pleasures as well as the body: as insolence, self-conceit,
pride, garrulity, laziness, and the abusive wit of turning everything
into _ridicule_, whereas virtue weighs all this, and corrects it. It is
the knowledge both of others and of itself; it is to be learned from
itself; and the very will itself may be taught; which will cannot be
right, unless the whole habit of the mind be right from whence the will
comes. It is by the impulse of virtue that we love virtue, so that the
very way to virtue, lies by virtue, which takes in also, at a view, the
laws of human life.

Neither are we to value ourselves upon a day, or an hour, or any one
action, but upon the whole habit of the mind. Some men do one thing
bravely, but not another; they will shrink at infamy, and bear up
against poverty: in this case, we commend the fact, and despise the
man. The soul is never in the right place until it be delivered from
the cares of human affairs; we must labor and climb the hill, if we
will arrive at virtue, whose seat is upon the top of it. He that
masters avarice, and is truly good, stands firm against ambition; he
looks upon his last hour not as a punishment, but as the equity of a
common fate; he that subdues his carnal lusts shall easily keep himself
untainted with any other: so that reason does not encounter this or
that vice by itself, but beats down all at a blow. What does he care
for ignominy that only values himself upon conscience, and not opinion?
Socrates looked a scandalous death in the face with the same constancy
that he had before practiced towards the thirty tyrants: his virtue
consecrated the very dungeon: as Cato’s repulse was Cato’s honor, and
the reproach of the government. He that is wise will take delight even
in an ill opinion that is well gotten; it is ostentation, not virtue,
when a man will have his good deeds published; and it is not enough
to be just where there is honor to be gotten, but to continue so, in
defiance of infamy and danger.

But virtue cannot lie hid, for the time will come that shall raise it
again (even after it is buried) and deliver it from the malignity of
the age that oppressed it: immortal glory is the shadow of it, and
keeps it company whether we will or not; but sometimes the shadow
goes before the substance, and other whiles it follows it; and the
later it comes, the larger it is, when even envy itself shall have
given way to it. It was a long time that Democritus was taken for a
madman, and before Socrates had any esteem in the world. How long was
it before Cato could be understood? Nay, he was affronted, contemned,
and rejected; and the people never knew the value of him until they had
lost him: the integrity and courage of mad Rutilius had been forgotten
but for his sufferings. I speak of those that fortune has made famous
for their persecutions: and there are others also that the world never
took notice of until they were dead; as Epicurus and Metrodorus, that
were almost wholly unknown, even in the place where they lived. Now, as
the body is to be kept in upon the down-hill, and forced upwards, so
there are some virtues that require the rein and others the spur. In
_liberality_, _temperance_, _gentleness_ of nature, we are to check
ourselves for fear of falling; but in _patience_, _resolutions_, and
_perseverance_, where we are to mount the hill, we stand in need of
encouragement. Upon this division of the matter, I had rather steer the
smoother course than pass through the experiments of sweat and blood:
I know it is my duty to be content in all conditions; but yet, if it
were at my election, I would choose the fairest. When a man comes once
to stand in need of fortune, his life is anxious, suspicious, timorous,
dependent upon every moment, and in fear of all accidents. How can that
man resign himself to God, or bear his lot, whatever it be, without
murmuring, and cheerfully submit to Providence, that shrinks at every
motion of pleasure or pain? It is virtue alone that raises us above
griefs, hopes, fears and chances; and makes us not only patient, but
willing, as knowing that whatever we suffer is according to the decree
of Heaven. He that is overcome with pleasure, (so contemptible and
weak an enemy) what will become of him when he comes to grapple with
dangers, necessities, torments, death, and the dissolution of nature
itself? Wealth, honor, and favor, may come upon a man by chance; nay,
they may be cast upon him without so much as looking after them: but
virtue is the work of industry and labor; and certainly it is worth the
while to purchase that good which brings all others along with it. A
good man is happy within himself, and independent upon fortune: kind
to his friend, temperate to his enemy, religiously just, indefatigably
laborious; and he discharges all duties with a constancy and congruity
of actions.