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Our ancestors were well satisfied and content if they could safely guard themselves from the violent incursions of wild beasts, and this was the end and object of all their contests with these creatures. But their posterity have laid down their weapons of defence, and have invented a quite contrary use of them, making them serviceable to some of the chief ends of human life. For their flesh serves for food, and their hair for clothing; medicines and antidotes are devised out of their entrails; and their skins are converted into armor. So that we may upon good grounds fear that, if these supplies should fail, their manner of life would appear savage, destitute of convenient food and raiment, barbarous and naked.

Although we receive these benefits and comforts from the very beasts, yet some men suppose themselves happy and secure enough, provided they escape all harm from enemies, not regarding Xenophon's judgment, whom they ought to credit in this matter, that every man endowed with common sense and understanding may, if he please, make his opposites very useful and profitable to him.

Because then we cannot live in this world out of the [p. 282] neighborhood of such as will continually labor to do us injury or oppose us, let us search out some way whereby this advantage and profit from enemies may be acquired.

The best experienced gardener cannot so change the nature of every tree, that it shall yield pleasant and well-tasted fruit; neither can the craftiest huntsman tame every beast. One therefore makes the best use he can of his trees, the other of his beast; although the first perhaps are barren and dry, the latter wild and ungovernable. So seawater is unwholesome and not to be drunk; yet it affords nourishment to all sorts of fish, and serves as it were for a chariot to convey those who visit foreign countries. The Satyr would have kissed and embraced the fire the first time he saw it; but Prometheus bids him take heed, else he might have cause to lament the loss of his beard,1 if he came too near that which burns all it touches. Yet this very fire is a most beneficial thing to mankind; it bestows upon us the blessings both of light and heat, and serves those who know how to use it for the most excellent instrument of mechanic arts. Directed by these examples, we may be able to take right measures of our enemies, considering that by one handle or other we may lay hold of them for the use and benefit of our lives; though otherwise they may appear very untractable and hurtful to us.

There are many things which, when we have obtained them by much labor and sweat, become nauseous, ungrateful, and directly contrary to our inclinations; but there are some (you know) who can turn the very indispositions of their bodies into an occasion of rest and freedom from business. And hard pains that have fallen upon [p. 283] many men have rendered them only the more robust through vigorous exercise. There are others who, as Diogenes and Crates did, have made banishment from their native country and loss of all their goods a means to pass out of a troublesome world into the quiet and serene state of philosophy and mental contemplation. So the Stoic Zeno welcomed the good fortune, when he heard the ship was broken wherein his adventures were, because she had reduced him to a torn coat, to the safety and innocence of a mean and low condition. For as some creatures of strong constitutions eat serpents and digest them well,— nay, there are some whose stomachs can by a strange powerful heat concoct shells or stones,—while on the contrary, there are the weak and diseased, who loathe even bread and wine, the most agreeable and best supports of human life; so the foolish and inconsiderate spoil the very friendships they are engaged in, but the wise and prudent make good use of the hatred and enmity of men.

1 Τράγος γένειον ἆρα πενθήσεις σί γε, Thou goat, soon thou shalt bewail the loss of thy beard. This verse is supposed to belong to the Satyrdrama Prometheus ofAeschylus, which was exhibited with the trilogy to which the Persians belong. Thewhole tetralogy, according to the didascalia, consisted of the Phineus, Persians, Glaucus, and Prometheus. (G.)

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