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DLXXI (F V, 13)

Although the consolation contained in your letter is in itself exceedingly gratifying to me—for it displays the greatest kindness joined to an equal amount of good sense-yet quite the greatest profit which I received from that letter was the assurance that you were shewing a noble disdain of human vicissitudes, and were thoroughly armed and prepared against fortune. And I assert it to be the highest compliment to philosophy that a man should not depend upon externals, nor allow his calculations as to the happiness or unhappiness of his life to be governed by anything outside himself. Now this conviction, though it had never been altogether lost—for it had sunk deep—had yet by the violence of tempests and a combination of misfortunes been considerably shaken and loosened at its roots. I see that you are for giving it support, and I also feel that by your last letter you have actually done so, and that with considerable success. Therefore, in my opinion, I ought to repeat this often, and not merely hint to you, but openly to declare, that nothing could be more acceptable to me than your letter. But while the arguments which you have collected with such taste and learning help to console me, yet nothing does so more than the clear perception I have got of the unbending firmness and unshaken confidence of your spirit, not to imitate which I think would be an utter disgrace. And so I consider that I am even braver than yourself—who give me lessons in courage—in this respect, that you appear to me still to cherish a hope that things will be some day better: at least "the changes and chances of gladiatorial combats" and your illustrations, as well as the arguments collected by you in your essay, were meant to forbid me entirely to despair of the republic. Accordingly, in one respect it is not so wonderful that you should be braver, since you still cherish hope: in another it is surprising that you should still have any hope. For what is there that is not so weakened as to make you acknowledge it to be practically destroyed and extinct? Cast your eye upon all the limbs of the republic, with which you are most intimately acquainted: you will not find one that is not broken or enfeebled. I would have gone into details, if I had seen things more clearly than you see them, or had been able to mention them without sorrow: though in accordance with your lessons and precepts all sorrow ought to be put away. Therefore I will bear my domestic misfortunes in the spirit of your admonition, and those of the state perhaps with even a little more courage than even you, who admonish me. For you are supported, as you say, by some hope; but I shall keep up my courage though I despair of everything, as in spite of that you exhort and admonish me to do. Yes, you give me pleasant reminders of what my conscience tells me I have done, and of those achievements which I performed with you among my foremost supporters. For I did for my country at least not less than I was bound to do, certainly more than was demanded from the spirit or wisdom of any one human being. Pray pardon my saying something about myself. You wished me to be relieved from my sorrow by thinking over these things. Well, even by mentioning them I obtain alleviation. Therefore, according to your advice, I will withdraw myself to the best of my power from all sorrows and anguish, and fix my mind on those topics by which prosperity receives an added charm, and adversity a support. I will be in your society also exactly as much as our respective age and health will allow; and if we cannot be together as much as we desire, we will so enjoy our union of hearts and community of tastes as to seem never separated.

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