« AnteriorContinuar »
FRANCOIS DE SALIGNAC DE LA MOTHE FÉNELON
ÉNELON was born at the Château de Fénelon, Dordogne,
France, August 6th, 1651, in a century which produced the
most famous pulpit orators of modern times. Fénelon himself belonged to the group of great preachers who made the French pulpit of the age of Louis XIV. illustrious, but he is even more celebrated for his «Telemachus » and other writings than for his oratory. Among his important prose works are «Telemachus,» « Dialogues of the Dead,” «Treatise on the Education of Girls,” «Lives of the Philosophers,” “Dialogues on Eloquence,” and “The Existence of God.” He wrote his « Dialogues of the Dead,” as well as the more celebrated “Telemachus,” for the education of the young Duke of Burgundy. In 1695 he was appointed Archbishop of Cambrai, but the dignity did not deprive him of the sweetness of disposition which characterized his life, as it does his writings. He died January 7th, 1715. His style as a prose writer is so greatly admired by his countrymen that for French prose he is said to be what Racine is among the writers of French verse.
MEMORABILIA OF DIOGENES
IOGENES the Cynic, son of Isecius, a banker, was born about
the ninety-first Olympiad, in Sinope, a city of Paphlagonia.
He was accused of having forged money in concert with his father; and Isecius was arrested and died in prison.
Alarmed at the fate of his father, Diogenes fled to Athens. On arriving in that city, he inquired for Antisthenes; but the latter having resolved never to receive a scholar, repulsed him and beat him off with his stick. Diogenes was by no means discouraged at this treatment. “Strike, fear not,” said he to him, bowing his head; "you shall never find a stick hard enough to make me run off so long as you continue to speak.” Overcome at length by his importunity, Antisthenes yielded, and permitted him to become his scholar.
Banished from his native country, and without resources, Diogenes was reduced to great indigence. Perceiving a mouse one day running briskly up and down, without any fear of being surprised by the approach of night, without any anxiety about a lodging place, and even without thinking of food, this reconciled him to his misery. He thereupon resolved to live at his ease and without constraint, and to dispense with everything which was not absolutely necessary for the preservation of life; he accordingly doubled his cloak, that, by rolling himself upon it, it might serve the twofold purpose of a bed and a coverlet.
His movables consisted of a bag, a jug, and a staff; and wherever he went, he always carried his furniture along with him. His stick, however, he used only when he went to the country, or on some emergency; persons really lame, he said, were neither the deaf nor the blind, but those who had no bag.
He always went barefoot, nor did he wear sandals even when the ground was covered with snow; he endeavored also to accustom himself to eat raw flesh, but this was a point of perfection to which he could never arrive.
He entreated a person of his acquaintance to afford him some little hole in his lodging, to which he might occasionally retire; but, as he was dilatory in giving him a positive answer, he took possession of an earthen tub, which he always carried about with him, and which was the only house he ever had....
He ate, and slept, and spoke without the slightest regard to circumstances, wherever chance placed him. Pointing one time to Jupiter's porticoes, he exclaimed: “What an excellent dining room have the Athenians there built for me!”
He sometimes made this remark: “When I consider the rulers, the physicians, the philosophers that the world contains, I am tempted to think man considerably elevated by his wisdom above the brutes; but when, on the other hand, I behold augurs, interpreters of dreams, and people who can be inflated with pride on account of their riches or honors, I cannot help looking upon him as the most foolish of all animals.”
In taking a walk one day, he noticed a child drinking from the hollow of his hand, and became quite angry with himself at the sight. «What!” he exclaimed, «do children know better than I with what things a man should be contented ?» Upon which he took his jug from the bag and instantly broke it in pieces as a superfluous article. . . .
Diogenes was one day discoursing on a very serious and important subject, when every one passed by without giving himself the least concern about what he was saying; upon this he began to sing, and the people then crowding about him he at once seized the opportunity to give them a severe reprimand, that they would flock around him and attend with eagerness to a mere trifle, while they would not for a moment listen to things of the greatest consequence.
He expressed his astonishment at the folly of critics, in tormenting themselves so much to discover all the woes which Ulysses had suffered, while for their own miseries they had not the slightest concern.
He blamed musicians for taking so much pains to adjust and tune their instruments, while they never once thought of regulating their own minds, with which they should have begun.
He censured mathematicians for amusing themselves with contemplating the sun, moon, and stars, when they were at the same time ignorant of things at their feet. He no less severely inveighed against the orators, who paid great attention to speaking well, but gave themselves very little concern about acting well.
He bitterly reproved those misers who make great pretenses to disinterestedness, and even praise those who despise riches, while their only object is to amass money. . . .
Plato was one day entertaining some friends of Dionysius the tyrant. Diogenes entering, fell upon his knees on a beautiful carpet with which the floor was covered: “I kneel,” said he, «to the pride of Plato.” « Yes,” replied the latter, "you do, Diogenes, but it is from another species of pride.”
A sophist, wishing to display to Diogenes the subtility of his parts, thus addressed him: “You are not what I am. I am a man; and, consequently, you are not a man.” « This reasoning would have been perfectly just,” replied Diogenes, “had you begun with saying that you are not what I am; for then you must have concluded that you are yourself no man.”
He was asked in what part of Greece he had seen wise men. « In Lacedæmonia,” said he, “I have seen children, but never could discover any men.”
Walking out one day at noon, with a lighted torch in his hand, he was asked what he was in search of: “I am seeking,” said he, “ for a man"; and on another occasion, he called out in the middle of the street, “Ho! men, men.” A great many peo