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two gladiators be matched to fight without my prefence; and at the fame time shall I be ashamed to attend the lectures of a philofopher? No; a man must still be learning somewhat, as long as there is any thing to be learned; that is, according to the proverb, as long as he lives (c). Nor is this more applicable to any other purpose than to the following, you must be learning as long as you live, how to live. But know alfo, that I teach at the fame time: do you ask what? why, that old age hath always fomewhat ftill to learn: and indeed in this refpect, I am ashamed of the folly of mankind. You know the You know the way to the house of Metronactes, is by the Neapolitan theatre; this I find always full; and it is debated with great earnestness, who is the best piper. Nay, a Grecian fidler or the common cryer shall gather around them a vast concourfe of people: but the place where a man is taught found morality, very few attend (d); and fuch as are pleased to attend, are thought by many to have no extraordinary business there; nay are even called ille blockheads. They may laugh at me too if they please; the opprobrious language of the rude and illiterate is easily to be borne: and their contempt to be despised by those, whose endeavours aim at what is right and fit.
Go on, my Lucilius, and make all the speed you can, that it may not your cafe as it was mine, to be obliged to learn in your old age; and haften so much the more; because you have undertaken that which you can fcarce be mafter of, live you ever fo long. What improvement Shall I make? as much as you endeavour after (e). What do you expect? wisdom is not an accidental accomplishment. Riches will fometimes come of themselves, honour will be offered you; favour and dignity, will haply be your portion; but virtue is not to be obtained but by great and inceffant labour; but it is worth while fo much the more to labour, as this will confer all good whatever: for this indeed is the only good. There is no truth, no certainty, in those things, fo highly extolled by common fame. But I will now fhew you, the boneftum, or virtue, is the only good: because you seem to think that in my former epiftle I have not executed the said purpose; and that I have exhibited virtue rather as recommended, than proved; and to contract all in a few words.
Know, that all things have their proper good. Fertility recommends the vine, as a fine flavour does the juice of the grape; the excellency in a ftag is swiftness; in beafts of burthen, a ftrong back: an exquifite quickness of fcent diftinguishes the hound; fpeed the greyhound; fierceness and courage the bull-dog, or fuch as are ordained to attack wild beasts (f): and what is the excellency in man? reafon. It is this, wherein man excells the brute creation, and draws near to the gods (). /? Perfect reason therefore is the proper good of men. Other qualities he hath in common with plants and animals: is he ftrong? fo are lions. Is he beautiful? fo are peacocks. Is he swift? fo are horfes. I do not fay how far he may excell, or be excelled in any of thefe points; for I am not enquiring after what is greatest in him, but what is his own. Has he a body so has a tree. Has he internal power of felf-motion ! fo have beafts, and even worms. Hath he a voice? fome dogs have a louder; more fhrill is that of the eagle, more deep that of the bull; and more sweet and voluble is the voice of the nightingale. What then is proper only to man? reafon. This when right and perfect, completes the happiness of man. If therefore every thing that hath accomplished its own proper good, is praife-worthy, and hath reached the end of nature's defignation; reafon being the proper good of man, if he hath perfected the fame, he is then praife worthy, and hath attained the end of being. Now, this reason when perfect, is called virtue, or what is right and fit in all circumftances. That therefore is the one good in man, which is his proper good: for we are not now enquiring after what is good, but what is the peculiar good of man. If there is no other good peculiar to man, then this is the one good, in which is comprehended all other.
Further, is any one a bad man, I doubt not but he will be condemned; and if good he will be approved of: that therefore is, the proper and only good in man, according to which he is blamed, or praifed. But perhaps you doubt not whether this be a good, but whether it be the only good. Surely, if a man hath all other enjoyments of life, as health, riches, ftatues of his ancestors, and a large leveé of his own, but is confessedly a bad man, you will condemn him. Again, ifa B 2
man hath none of these things, if he wants money; hath no clients,, is not noble: nor can boast a long line of ancestors, yet is a good man; you cannot but commend him. Therefore that is the only good of man, which if he poffeffes, tho' deftitute of all other things, he is very respectable, and praise-worthy; and he that hath it not, tho' in full poffeffion of all other enjoyments, is condemned and despised. As the condition of other things; fuch is that of man. It is called a good ship, not because it is painted with the most brilliant colours; and hath its decks of filver or gold; and its prow decorated with ivory (b); nor because it is freighted with royal treasures; but because it is not crank,, but firm and steady; well caulked, fo as to admit no leak, and with such strong fides, as to defy the violence of the waves; ever obedient to the rudder; and fwift and easy to tack about with every wind.. You will not call a fword good for hanging at a golden belt, and having the hilt adorn'd with jewels: but because it carries a fine edge for cutting, and a point able to pierce an armour of steel. A ruler or fquare is not required to be beautiful, but strait and true. Every thing is excellent when adapted to its proper use (i). Therefore in man. also, it is of little avail, how many acres he ploughs, how much money he hath out at intereft; how many falute him by the way; how rich his bed; or how transparent and coftly his cup; but how good a man he is; now, he is a good man, whose reason. is explicit and right;. in all respects adapted to the will of nature. This is all called virtue; this is the Honeftum, and only good of man. For fince reafon alone perfects the man; perfect reason alone hath made him happy; and that is the only good of man, by which only he is made happy.
We likewise call all thofe things good, which proceed from or are: in contact with virtue; they are all her works.. But, therefore is vir-tue only good, because there cannot be any good without her. And if all good, be in the mind, whatever ftrengthens, exalts, and enlarges the mind, is good. Now virtue makes the mind ftronger, nobler, more extenfive. Whereas all other things, which provoke our appetites and defires deprefs and weaken the mind; and when they seem to raise, they only puff it up, and delude it with much vanity. Therefore that is the only
good, which improves the mind. All the actions of the whole life of man are measured by the moral fenfe of good and evil, from whence reafon takes her directions for doing, or not doing fuch and fuch things.. I fhall further explain this.
A good man will always do what is right and fit, whatever pains it cofts him. Again, he will not do any thing, that is bafe and vile, were he to gain thereby riches, or pleasure or power. He will not abstain from what is right, for any terror; nor, by any hopes whatever, be drawn in to a base action. Therefore as he will follow what is just and fit, he will always eschew what is unjust and vile; and in every action in life, he will have these two principles in view; that there is no good but what is right and fit, nor any evil but what is vile and fcandalous. If then virtue alone is pure, and ever of the fame tenour; virtue is the only good; nor is it poffible it fhould be otherwise than good. Wisdom is not subject to the danger of a change; as it is not to be taken from us forcibly, nor will ever revert into folly (*). I told you, if you remember, that many by a fudden tranfport of zeal, have contemn'd and trodden under foot things fo indifcreetly coveted or dreaded by the vulgar: there have been found thofe, who would thrust their hand into the flames (k); whofe fmiles no torture could interrupt (7), who have not shed a tear at the lofs of their children: and have themselves met death with intrepidity. Love, anger, defire, have defied all manner of danger. And if a fhort obftinacy of the mind, infpired by fome fudden impulfe could do this; how much more can virtue, which is strong, not by fits, or on a fudden, but with ever-equal fteadiness, and whose strength never faileth? It follows then, that fuch things, as are despised, fometimes by the rash and inconfiderate, and always by the wife, are in themselves neither good nor evil. The only good therefore is virtue, who proudly marches between good and bad fortune, and treats them both alike with contempt. If you fancy, there is any good, but fuch as confifts in what is right and fit, there is no virtue but what will prove defective: for none can be obtained, if it has regard to any thing without,.or beyond itself. And were it fo, it would be repugnant
to reason, from whence proceed all virtues; and alfo to truth, which fubfifts in reafon: now whatever opinion is repugnant to truth, is falfe.
Further, you must grant it neceffary for a good man to be truly pious, and to have the highest veneration for the gods; confequently whatever happens to him, he will bear it with a patient and even mind, being persuaded that it proceeds from the Divine Law, which governs the universe. And if so, that will be the only good to him, which is right and fit: forafmuch as it confifts in this, to obey the gods, not to fall into fudden paffions, nor to bewail his lot, but patiently to abide his fate, and willingly perform what is enjoined by the powers above. Befides, was there any other good than what is right and fit, we should be perfecuted with the defire of life, and an infatiable hankering after all the requifites thereto, which is intolerable, infinite, vague: therefore what is right and fit, is the only good, because it hath its certain measure and end.
I have before faid, if thofe things of which the gods make no use, fuch as riches and honours, were really good, the life of man would be much more happy than that of the gods: add now, that if fouls, when fet free from the body, ftill exift, they are in a much happier state than when detained in the body (m). But if those things be good, which are made ufe of while in the body, it would then be worse for them to have been fet free; but it is not credible that being imprisoned and confined they should be happier than when at liberty to range the univerfe. I faid alfo, if those things be good, which happen to dumb animals as well as to man, that then even dumb animals live an happy life: which by no means can be admitted. All things are to be endured for the fake of virtue, or doing that which is right and fit; but this would be unreasonable, if there was any other real good but virtue.
Thus, Lucilius, have I contracted and run through the several points, which I explained more at large in my former Epiftle. But you will never approve of this my opinion or think it true, unless you raise