ARTAXERXES, King of Persia, O Caesar Trajan, greatest of princes, esteemed it no less royal and bountiful kindly and cheerfully to accept small, than to make great presents; and when he was in a progress, and a common country laborer, having nothing else, took up water with both his hands out of the river and presented it to him, he smiled and received it pleasantly, measuring the kindness not by the value of the gift, but by the affection of the giver. And Lycurgus ordained in Sparta very cheap sacrifices, that they might always worship the Gods readily and easily with such things as were at hand. Upon the same account, when I bring a mean and slender present of the common first-fruits of philosophy, accept also (I beseech you) with my good affection these short memorials, if they may contribute any thing to the knowledge of the manners and dispositions of great men, which are more apparent in their words than in their actions. My former treatise contains the lives of the most eminent princes, lawgivers, and generals, both Romans and Grecians; but most of their actions admit a mixture of fortune, whereas such speeches and answers as happened amidst their employments, passions, and events afford us (as in a looking-glass) a clear discovery of each particular temper and disposition. Accordingly Siramnes the Persian, to such as wondered that [p. 186] he usually spoke like a wise man and yet was unsuccessful in his designs, replied: I myself am master of my words, but the king and fortune have power over my actions. In the former treatise speeches and actions are mingled together, and require a reader that is at leisure; but in this the speeches, being as it were the seeds and the illustrations of those lives, are placed by themselves, and will not (I think) be tedious to you, since they will give you in a few words a review of many memorable persons.

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