Page:Plutarch - Moralia, translator Holland, 1911.djvu/324

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
302
Plutarch's Morals


it is not simply and generally true, unless it be to those as have no children; for such indeed are sure to be invited and feasted by the rich; lords and rulers will make court and be serviceable to such; for them great orators and advocates will plead at the bar without fee, and give their counsel gratis:

How mighty is a rich man with each one.
So long as his next heir is known to none!

whereas you shall see many in the world, who beforetime having a number of friends and honour enough, and no sooner had a little child born unto them, but they lost all their friends, credit, and reputation at once, so that by this reckoning the having of children maketh nothing at all to the authority of their parents, so that in regard thereof it is not that they do so love their children; but surely the cause of this their kindness and affection proceedeth altogether from nature, and appeareth no less in mankind than in wild beasts: Howbeit otherwhiles this natural love, as well as many other good qualities in men, are blemished and obscured by occasion of vice that buddeth up afterwards; like as we see wild briars, bushes and brambles to spring up and grow among good and kind seeds, for otherwise we might as well collect and say that men love not themselves because many cut their own throats, or wilfully fall down head-long from steep rocks and high places. For Œdipus

With bloody hand his own eyelids did force.
And plucked out his eyes upon remorse.

Hegesias, disputing and discoursing upon a time of abstinence, caused many of his auditors and scholars to pine themselves to death:

Such accidents of many sorts there be.
Permitted by the gods we daily see.

But all of them, like as those other passions and maladies of the mind before named, transport a man out of his own nature, and put him beside himself, so as they testify against themselves that this is true, and that they do amiss herein; for if a sow having farrowed a little pig, devour it when she hath done, or a bitch chance to tear in pieces a puppy or whelp of her own litter, presently men are amazed at the sight thereof, and wonderfully affrighted, whereupon they sacrifice unto the gods certain expiatory sacrifices, for to divert the sinister presages thereof, as taking it to be a prodigious wonder, and confessing thereby that it is a property given to all living creatures, even by the instinct and institution of nature, to love, foster and