Page:Plutarch - Moralia, translator Holland, 1911.djvu/151

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129
Of Meekness

over-hastily and too much, I may peradventure use that bridle which Plato speaketh of, to wit, wary circumspection: For in recommending the mathematician Helicon, I praise him (quoth he) for a man, that is as much to say, as a creature by nature mutable and apt to change. And even those who have been well brought up in a city, to wit, in Athens, he saith that he is afraid likewise of them, lest being men, and coming from the seed of man, they do not one time or other bewray the weakness and infirmity of human nature: and Sophocles, when he speaketh thus:

Who list to search through all deeds of mankind
More bad than good he shall be sure to find,

seemeth to clip our wings, and disable us wonderfully. Howbeit, this difficulty and caution in judging of men and pleasing ourselves in the choice of friends, will cause us to be more tractable and moderate in our anger: for whatsoever cometh suddenly and unexpected, the same soon transporteth us beside ourselves. We ought, moreover, as Panatius teacheth us in one place, to practise the example of Anaxagoras, and like as he said, when news came of his son's death; I know well (quoth he) that I begat him a mortal man; so in every fault of our servants or others that shall whetten our choler, each one of us may sing this note to himself: I knew well that when I bought this slave he was not a wise philosopher: I wist also that I had gotten for my friend not one altogether void of affections and passions: neither was I ignorant when I took a wife that I wedded a woman.

Now if withal a man would evermore, when he seeth others do amiss, add this more unto the ditty as Plato teacheth us, and sing thus: Am not I also such another? turning the discursion of his judgment from things abroad to those which are within himself, and among his complaints and reprehensions of other men, come in with a certain caveat of his own, and fear to be reproved himself in the like; he would not haply be so quick and forward in the hatred and detestation of other men's vices, seeing that himself hath so much need of pardon. But on the contrary side, every one of us, when he is in the heat of choler and punisheth another, hath these words of severe Aristides and precise Cato ready enough in his mouth: Steal not, sirrah: Make no more lies: Why art thou so idle then? etc. To conclude (that which of all others is most unseemly and absurd), we reprove in anger others for being angry; and