Menon the Thessalian, a person who had no mean opinion of his own parts, who thought himself well accomplished in all the arts of discourse and to have reached (as Empedocles words it) the highest pitch of wisdom, was asked by Socrates, What is virtue? And he answered readily enough, and as impertinently, that there is one virtue belonging to childhood, another to old age; that there are distinct virtues in men and women, magistrates and private persons, masters and servants. Excellently well! replied Socrates in raillery, when you were asked about one virtue, you have raised, as it were, a whole swarm; conjecturing, not without reason, that the man therefore named many because he knew the nature of none. And may not we ourselves expect and deserve as justly to be scoffed and rallied, who having not yet contracted one firm friendship seem nevertheless exceeding cautious of too many? It is almost the same thing as if one maimed and blind should appear solicitous lest like Briareus he may chance to be furnished with a hundred hands, and become all over eyes like Argus. However, we cannot but extol the sense of that young man in Menander the poet, who said that he counted every man wonderfully honest and happy who had found even the shadow of a friend.

[p. 465]

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