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Zeno hearing a young man speak too freely , told him : « For this reason we have » two ears and but one tongue, that we » should hear much, and speak little. »
A talkative fellow willing to learn of Isocrates, he asked him double his usual price; « because, said he, I must both teach » him to speak, and to hold his tongue »,
When Socrates was asked, which of mortal men was to be accounted nearest to the gods in happiness, he answered, « that » man who is in want of the fewest things ».
When the same philosopher was building himself a house at Athens, being asked by one who observed the littleness of the design, why he would not have an abode more suitable to his dignity ? he replied , that he should think himself sufficiently accommodated, if he could see that narrow habitation filled with real friends.
The same philosopher, one of the poorest though greatest men in Athens, observing the pomp, and luxury of his fellow citizens « How many wants, says he , have the rich » and great, from which I am entirely free!»
Cato being asked , how it happened that he had no statues erected to him, whilst Rome was crowded with those of so many
others. « I would rather , answered he » people should enquire, why I have them » not, than complain, that I have them ».
Demetrius Phalereus being informed that the people of Athens had destroyed all the numerous statues, they had formerly erected to his honour, « It matters not, says » he, since they cannot obliterate the ac» tions which acquired them ».
It was a fine answer of Diogenes , who being asked in mockery, why philosophers were the followers of rich men,
and not rich men of philosophers, replied, » because » the one knew what they had need of, and
the others did not ».
The Emperor Titus remembering once at supper, that during that day he had done nobody a kindness, my friends, says he , » I have lost this day ».
It is mentioned in history , to the honour of the Emperor Alexander Severus, that he would in no case permit offices to be sold; for, said he , « he who buyeth , must sell ».
Anacharsis the Scythian , who was aca counted one of the wisest men of his age, being reproached by an impertinent Athenian with the barbarity of his country, told bim, « My country may disgrace me, but
» thou art a disgrace to thy country ».
Callicratidas, the Spartan General, being persuaded at a battle to save himself by retreating « No, answered he, the Spar» tans can equipé another fleet, should this » be lost, but I can never recover my repu» tation, if I forfeit it by basely flying before
enemy ». When Diogenes received a visit in his tub from Alexander the Great, and was asked, what petition he had to offer : « I » have nothing , said he, to ask, but that
you would remove to the other side, that » you may not by intercepting the sun-shine » take from me what you cannot give me ».
Philip , King of Macedon, having heard, that the Great Alexander his son sang once at a feast, to the wonder , and envy of the best musicians there ; « Art not thou ashamved , said he to him, to sing so well ? »
Themistocles being asked how he would marry his daughter, whether to one of small fortune, or to one that was rich , but of an ill reputation ? made answer « I had rather » have a man without an estate, than to » have an estate without a man ».
We read of a philosopher, who declared of himself, that the first year'he entered upon the study of philosophy he knew all things, the second year he knew something, but the third year nothing: The more he studied, the more he declined in the opinion of his own knowledge, and saw more of the shortness of his understanding.
W I T H
TH E I R
I. The Dog and the Shadow.
A Dog crossing a river with a piece of flesh in his mouth, and the day being fine and clear, the Shadow of the meat appeared so plain in the water, that the dog could not help snatching eagerly at it; by which means he dropt the flesh which he had held in his mouth, and entirely lost it.
At first the poor unfortunate cur was a little surprised; but recollecting himself, he thus expressed the sense of the matter in his own language : — «I had enough, » and to
had I but known when I >> was well off, and been contented : but, hy coveting what I had not in my pos» session , I have now foolishly lost that, » which I before possessed »,
Grasp at all, lose all. Never quit a certainty for an uncertainty, or a substance for a shadow; nor give a real and substantial price for superficial or empty hopes.
II. The Countryman and the Snake.
A Countryman having found a Snake in the snow,
almost frozen to death , brought it home, and laid it before the fire. In a short time the snake, by means of the heat, recovered its former strength and poisonous vigour; till at last the heat becoming quite troublesome, it filled the whole cottage with its violent and impatient hissings.
The Countryman snatching up a cudgel, ran to it, and corrected it for its insolence and ingratitude with reproaches and blows :
« What , said he, is this your way » of requiting favours , you vile creature ! » do you threaten me with death in my » own house for bringing you here to save
your life ? »