Page:Plutarch - Moralia, translator Holland, 1911.djvu/302

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Plutarch's Morals

saith) may cure and help with his bountiful hand; but that penury and neediness of the soul all the men in the world, that either live at this day or ever were beforetime, are not able to satisfy and suffice: and therefore of such Solon said very well:

No limit set, nor certain bound, men have
Of their desire to goods, but still they crave.

For those who are wise and of sound judgment are content with that measure and portion which nature hath set down and assigned for them; such men know an end, and keep themselves within the centre and circumference of their need and necessity only. But this is a peculiar property that avarice hath by itself. For a covetous desire it is, even repugnant to satiety, and hindereth itself that it never can have sufficient, whereas all other desires and lusts are aiding and helpful thereto. For no man (I trow) that is a glutton forbeareth to eat a good morsel of meat for gormandise, nor drunkard abstaineth from drinking wine upon an appetite and love that he hath to wine, as these covetous wretches do, who spare their money and will not touch it, through a desire only that they have of money. And how can we otherwise think, but it were a piteous and lamentable case, yea and a disease next cousin to mere madness, if a man should therefore spare the wearing of a garment, because he is ready to chill and quake for cold, or forbear to touch bread, for that he is almost hunger-starved; and even so not to handle his goods because he loveth them: certes, such a one is in the same plight and piteous perplexity that Thrasonides was, who in a certain comedy describeth his own miseries:

At home it is within my power,
I may enjoy it every hour:
I wish a thing as if I were
In raging love, yet I forbear:
When I have lock'd and seal'd up all,
Or else put forth by count and tale,
My coin to brokers for the use,
Or other factors whom I chuse,
I plod and plonder still for more,
I hunt, I seek to fetch in store,
I chide and brawl with servants mine,
The husbandman and eke the hine
I bring to count; and then anon
My debtors all I call upon:
By Dan Apollo now I swear,
Was any man that earth did bear,
Whom thou hast ever known or seen,
In love more wretched to have been?

Sophocles being on a time demanded familiarly by one of his friends, whether he could yet keep company with a woman if