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longer, he makes his wings shorter. In that delightful fairy tale, Alice through the Looking-Glass, the “White Knight” is described as having loaded himself on starting for a journey with a variety of odds and ends, including a mousetrap, lest he should be troubled by mice at night, and a beehive in case he came across a swarm of bees.
Hearne, in his Journey to the Mouth of the Coppermine River, tells us that a few days after starting on his expedition he met a party of Indians, who annexed a great deal of his property, and all Hearne says is, “The weight of our baggage being so much lightened, our next day's journey was much pleasanter.” I ought, however, to add that the Indians broke up the philosophical instruments, which, no doubt, were rather an encumbrance.
When troubles do come, Marcus Aurelius wisely tells us to "remember on every occasion which leads thee to vex.
ation to apply this principle, that this is not a misfortune, but that to bear it nobly is good fortune.” Our own anger
indeed does us more harm than the thing which makes us angry; and we suffer much more from the anger and vexation which we allow acts to rouse in us, than we do from the acts themselves at which we are angry and vexed.
How much most people, for instance, allow themselves to be distracted and disturbed by quarrels and family disputes. Yet in nine cases out of ten one ought not to suffer from being found fault with. If the condemnation is just, it should be welcome as a warning; if it is undeserved, why should we allow it to distress us?
Moreover, if misfortunes happen we do but make them worse by grieving over them.
“I must die," again says Epictetus. “But must I then die sorrowing? I must be put in chains. Must I then also lament?
I must go into exile. Can I be prevented from going with cheerfulness and contentment? But I will put you in prison. Man, what are you saying? You may put my body in prison, but my mind not even Zeus himself can overpower.”
If, indeed, we cannot be happy, the fault is generally in ourselves. Socrates lived under the Thirty Tyrants. Epictetus was a poor slave, and yet how much we owe him !
“How is it possible,” he says, “ that a man who has nothing, who is naked, houseless, without a hearth, squalid, without a slave, without a city, can pass a life that flows easily? See, God has sent you a man to show you that it is possible. Look at me, who am without a city, without a house, without possessions, without a slave; I sleep on the ground; I have no wife, no children, no prætorium, but only the earth and heavens, and one I not without sorrow ? Am I not without fear? Am I not free? When did any of you see me failing in the object of my desire ? or ever falling into that which I would avoid ? Did I ever blame God or man? Did I ever accuse any man? Did any of you ever see me with a sorrowful countenance ? And how do I meet with those whom you are afraid of and admire ? Do not I treat them like slaves ? Who, when he sees me, does not think that he sees his king and master ?"
cloak. And what do I want? Am
Think how much we have to be thankful for. Few of us appreciate the number of our everyday blessings; we look on them as trifles, and yet " trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle," as Michael Angelo said. We forget them because they are always with us; and yet for each of us, as Mr. Pater well observes, “these simple gifts, and others equally trivial, bread and wine, fruit and milk, might regain that poetic and, as it were, moral significance which surely belongs to all the means of our daily life, could we but break through the veil of our familiarity with things by no means vulgar in themselves.”
* Let not,” says Isaak Walton, “the blessings we receive daily from God make us not to value or not praise Him because they be common; let us not forget to praise Him for the innocent mirth and pleasure we have met with since we met together. What would a blind man give to see the pleasant rivers and meadows and flowers and fountains; and this and many other like blessings we enjoy daily."
Contentment, we have been told by Epicurus, consists not in great wealth, but in few wants. In this fortunate country, however, we may have many wants, and yet, if they are only reasonable, we may gratify them all.
Nature indeed provides without stint the main requisites of human happiness.