Page:Plutarch - Moralia, translator Holland, 1911.djvu/203

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181
Tranquillity and Contentment


against his two accusers, Anytus and Melitus: Well may Anytus and Melitus bring me to my death, but hurt or harm me they shall never be able.

And even so fortune hath power to bring a disease or sickness upon a man, his goods she can take away, raise she may a slander of him to tyrant, prince or people, and bring him out of grace and favour; but him that is virtuous, honest, valiant and magnanimous, she cannot make wicked, dishonest, base-minded, malicious and envious: and in one word, she hath not power to take from him a good habitude, settled upon wisdom and discretion, which wheresoever it is always present, doth more good unto a man for to guide him how to live, than the pilot at sea for to direct a ship in her course; for surely the pilot, be he never so skilful, knoweth not how to still the rough and surging billows when he would, he cannot allay the violence of a tempest, or blustering wind, neither put into a safe harbour and haven, or gain a commodious bay to anchor in at all times and in every coast, would he never so fain, nor resolutely without fear and trembling when he is in a tempest, abide the danger and undergo all; thus far forth only his art serveth, so long as he is in no despair but that his skill may take place:

To strike mainsail, and down the lee
To let ship hull, until he see
The foot of mast no more above
The sea: while he doth not remove,
But with one hand in other fast
Quaketh and panteth all aghast.

But the disposition and staid mind of a prudent man, over and besides that it bringeth the body into a quiet and calm estate, by dissipating and dispatching for the most part the occasions and preparatives of diseases, and that by continent he, sober diet, moderate exercises, and travails in measure; if haply there chance some little beginning or indisposition to a passion, upon which the mind is ready to run itself, as a ship, upon some blind rock under the water, it can quickly turn about his nimble and light cross-sail yard, as Asclepiades was wont to say, and so avoid the danger.

But say there come upon us some great and extraordinary accident, such as neither we looked for, nor be able by all the power we have, either to overcome or endure; the haven is near at hand, we may swim safely thither out of the body (as it were), out of a vessel that leaketh and taketh water, and will no longer hold a passenger: as for foolish folk, it is the fear of