Page:Plutarch - Moralia, translator Holland, 1911.djvu/185

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163
Tranquillity and Contentment

chafe and fret at their passions and imperfections beyond all reason, and shew yourself as passionate as they. For surely the affairs and negotiations wherewith you are put in trust, and which be managed by your direction, are not executed ordinarily by the ministry of such persons whose dealings be plain, simple and direct, as instruments most meet and fit for such a purpose; but for the most part by crooked, rough and crabbed pieces. To reform and amend these enormities, I would not have you think that it is either your work and duty, or an enterprise otherwise easily performed. But if you making use of these, being such by nature as the chirurgeons do of tooth-drawing pincers and those instruments wherewith they do bring the edges of a wound together, will shew yourself mild, moderate, and tractable in every respect, according as the present occasion will give leave; surely you shall not receive so much discontentment and displeasure at the untoward and unhappy dealings of others, as joy in the conscience of your own good disposition, as making this account, that such ministers of yours do but their kind, like as dogs when they bark: But if you feed and cherish this pusillanimity and weakness of yours, you shall be sure to heap up many troubles and follies of other men ere you be aware, which will be ready to fall and run as into some low ground and hollow trench, unto that weakness of yours. For what should I say, that some philosophers reprove the pity and commiseration which we have for them that are in distress and misery, acknowledging that it is a good and charitable deed to help and succour such as be in calamity, but not commending that condolence and fellow-feeling with our neighbours, as if we yielded with them unto fortune? And more than so, the same philosophers will not permit and give us leave, in case we be subject to some vice and ill disposed, for to be seen and known for to grieve and sorrow therefore: but rather to correct and amend what is amiss, without any shew at all of sad cheer and heaviness; which being so, consider then how little reason and small cause we have, nay, how absurd it were, that we should suffer ourselves to be troubled, vexed and angry, in case all those who commerce and converse with us deal not so well and kindly as they should?

But above all things, my good friend Paccius, let us see to this, that our self-love deceive and seduce us not; let us beware (I say) that we do not so much shew an hatred and detestation of wickedness and sin in general; as bewray some private and particular regard of our own, in that we seem so to abhor and