Page:Plutarch - Moralia, translator Holland, 1911.djvu/195

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173
Tranquillity and Contentment

and liberal drinking of wine, maketh (I must needs say) the body able and strong, but the mind feeble and weak. Likewise, the continual and excessive care both in getting and keeping goods, may well augment riches and increase our substance: but surely it is the contempt and despisement of worldly wealth that is a great help and means to learning and philosophy. And therefore we may well conclude that every man is not fit for everything: but herein each one must be ruled by the sage sentence of Pythius Apollo, and first learn, To know himself; then mark and observe to what one thing he is most framed and inclined; and thereto both apply and employ his wits, and not to offer violence to nature, and draw her perforce, as it were, against the hair, to this or that course of life which she liketh not.

The horse serves best in chariot at the thill.
The ox at plough, the ground to ear and till;
Ships under sail the dolphins when they spy,
Most swiftly then do swim their sides fast by:
Who would in wood the wild boar chase and slay,
Must bring with him the hardy hound away.

Now if there be one that shall be angry with himself and displeased that he is not at once both a savage lion of the forest, bold and venturous of his own strength, and withal a dainty fine puppy of Malta; cherished and fostered in the lap and bosom of some delicate dame and rich widow; commend me to him for a senseless fool of all fools, and to say a sooth, I hold him also as very an ass and doltish fop, who will needs be such an one as Empedocles, Plato and Democritus; namely, to write of the world, of the nature and true essence of all things therein, and withal to keep a rich old trot and sleep with her every night, as Euphorion did; or else like unto those who kept company with Alexander the Great in drinking and gaming (as one Medius did), and yet think it a great abuse and indignity (forsooth) if he may not be as much admired for his wealth as Ismenias, and esteemed no less for his virtue than Epaminondas. We see that the runners in a race be not discontented at all if they wear not the garlands and coronets of wrestlers, but rest pleased with their own rewards, and therein delight and rejoice. It is an old said saw, and a common proverb: Sparta is thy lot and province, look well to it, and adorn the same. For it is a saying also of wise Solon:

And yet we will not change our boon
With them, for all their wealth and gold:
Goods pass from man to man full soon.
Ours virtue is, a sure freehold.