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"There is a deal to do,' said Glaucon, 'if we must take care of all these things.'
"There is so,' replied Socrates; 'and it is even impossible to manage our own families well, unless we know all that is wanting, and take care to provide it. As you see, therefore, that our city is composed of above ten thousand families, and it being a difficult task to watch over them all at once, why did you not first try to retrieve your uncle's affairs, which are running to decay? and, after having given that proof of your industry, you might have taken a greater trust upon you. But now, when you find yourself incapable of aiding a private man, how can you think of behaving yourself so as to be useful to a whole people? Ought a man, who has not strength enought to carry a hundred pound weight, to undertake to carry a heavier burden?'
"I would have done good service to my uncle,' said Glaucon, if he would have taken my advice.' “How,' replied Socrates, ‘have you not hitherto been able to govern the mind of your uncle, and do you now believe yourself able to govern the minds of all the Athenians, and his among the rest? Take heed, my dear Glaucon, take heed lest too great a desire of power should render you despised; consider how dangerous it is to speak and entertain ourselves concerning things we do not understand; what a figure do those forward and rash people make in the world who do so; and judge yourself whether they acquire more esteem than blame, whether they are more admired than contemned. Think, on the contrary, with how much more honour a man is regarded who understands perfectly what he says and what he does, and then you will confess that renown and applause have always been the recompense of true merit, and shame the reward of ignorance and temerity. If, therefore, you would be honoured, endeavour to be a man of true merit; and if you enter upon the government of
the republic with a mind more sagacious than usual, I shall not wonder if you succeed in all your designs.'
Thus Socrates put a stop to the disorderly ambition of this man; but, on an occasion quite contrary, he in the following manner exhorted Charmidas to take an employment.
"He was a man of sense, and more deserving than most others in the same post; but, as he was of a modest disposition, he constantly declined, and made great difficulties of engaging himself in public business. Socrates therefore addressed himself
to him in this manner:
"If you knew any man that could gain the prizes in the public games, and by that means render himself illustrious, and acquire glory to his country, what would you say of him if he refused to offer himself to the combat?'
"I would say,' answered Charmidas, 'that he was a mean-spirited, effeminate fellow.'
"And if a man were capable of governing a republic, of increasing its power by his advice, and of raising himself by this means to a high degree of honour, would you not brand him likewise with meanness of soul if he would not present himself to be employed?'
"Perhaps I might,' said Charmidas; 'but why do you ask me this question?' Socrates replied, "Because you are capable of managing the affairs of the republic, and nevertheless you avoid doing so, though, in quality of a citizen, you are obliged to take care of the commonwealth. Be no longer, then, thus negligent in this matter; consider your abilities and your duty with more attention, and let not slip the occasions of serving the republic, and of rendering it, if possible, more flourishing than it is.. This will be a blessing whose influence will descend not only on the other citizens, but on your best friends and yourself." "
THE WASTE OF LIFE.
ANERGUS was a gentleman of a good estate; he was bred to no business, and could not contrive how to waste his hours agreeably; he had no relish for any of the proper works of life, nor any taste at all for the improvements of the mind; he spent, generally, ten hours of the four-and-twenty in his bed; he dozed away two or three more on his couch, and as many were dissolved in good liquor every evening, if he met with company of his own humour. Five or six of the rest he sauntered away with much indolence; the chief business of them was to contrive his meals, and to feed his fancy beforehand with the promise of a dinner and supper; not that he was so absolute a glutton or so entirely devoted to his appetite, but, chiefly because he knew not how to employ his thoughts better, he let them rove about the sustenance of his body. Thus he had made a shift to wear off ten years since the paternal estate fell into his hands; and yet, according to the abuse of words in our day, he was called a man of virtue, because he was scarce ever known to be quite drunken, nor was his nature much inclined to licentiousness.
One evening, as he was musing alone, his thoughts happened to take a most unusual turn, for they cast a glance backward, and began to reflect on his manner of life. He bethought himself what a number of living beings had been made a sacrifice to support his carcass, and how much corn and wine had been mingled with those offerings. He had not quite lost all the arithmetic that he had learned when he was a boy, and he set himself to compute
what he had devoured since he came to the age of
"About a dozen of feathered creatures, small and great, have, one week with another," said he, "given up their lives to prolong mine, which in ten years amounts to at least six thousand.
Fifty sheep have been sacrificed in a year, with half a hecatomb of black cattle, that I might have the choicest part offered weekly upon my table. Thus a thousand beasts out of the flock and the herd have been slain in ten years' time to feed me, besides what the forest has supplied me with. Many hundreds of fishes have, in all their varieties, been robbed of life for my repast, and of the smaller fry as many thousands.
"A measure of corn would hardly afford me fine flour enough for a month's provision, and this arises to above six score bushels; and many hogsheads of ale and wine, and other liquors, have passed through this body of mine, this wretched strainer of meat and drink.
"And what have I done all this time for God or man? What a vast profusion of good things upon a useless life and a worthless liver! There is not the meanest creature among all these which I have devoured, but hath answered the end of its creation better than I. It was made to support human nature, and it hath done so. Every crab and oyster I have ate, and every grain of corn I have devoured, hath filled up its place in the rank of beings with more propriety and honour than I have done. Oh shameful waste of life and time!"
In short, he carried on his moral reflections with so just and severe a force of reason, as constrained him to change his whole course of life, to break off his follies at once, and to apply himself to gain some useful knowledge, when he was more than thirty years of age. He lived many following years with the character of a worthy man and an
excellent Christian; he performed the kind offices of a good neighbour at home, and made a shining figure as a patriot in the senate-house; he died with a peaceful conscience, and the tears of his country were dropped upon his tomb.
The world, that knew the whole series of his life, stood amazed at the mighty change. They beheld him as a wonder of reformation, while he himself confessed and adored the Divine power and mercy, which had transformed him from a brute to
But this was a single instance; and we may almost venture to write MIRACLE upon it. Are there not numbers of both sexes among our young gentry, in this degenerate age, whose lives thus run to utter waste, without the least tendency to usefulness !
When I meet with persons of such a worthless character as this, it brings to my mind some scraps of Horace :
"Nos numerus sumus, et fruges consumere nati,
Cui pulchrum fuit in medios dormire dies,” &e.
There are a number of us creep
Ravens or crows might fill their places,