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What things are to be exchanged for others.

When you have lost anything external, have always at hand the consideration of what you have got instead of it; and if this be of more value, do not by any means call yourself a loser, - whether it be a horse for an ass; an ox for a sheep; a good action for a piece of money; a due composure of mind for a dull jest; or modesty for indecent talk. By continually remembering this, you will preserve your character such as it ought to be. Otherwise, consider that you are spending your time in vain; and all that to which you are now applying your mind, you are about to spill and overturn. And there needs but little, merely a small deviation from reason, to destroy and overset all. A pilot does not need so much apparatus to overturn a ship as to save it; but if he exposes it a little too much to the wind, it is lost; even if he should not do it by design, but only for a moment be thinking of something else, it is lost. Such is the case here too. If you do but nod a little, all that you have hitherto accomplished is gone. Take heed, then, to the appearances of things. Keep yourself watchful over them. It is no inconsiderable matter that you have to guard; but modesty, fidelity, [p. 2152] constancy, docility, innocence, fearlessness, serenity, -in short, freedom. For what will you sell these? Consider what the purchase is worth. " But shall I not get such a thing instead of it? " Consider, if you do not get it, what it is that you have instead. Suppose I have decency, and another the office of tribune; I have modesty, and he the praetorship? But I do not applaud where it is unbecoming; I will pay no undeserved honor; for I am free, and the friend of God, so as to obey him willingly; and I must not value anything else, neither body, nor possessions, nor fame, - in short, nothing. For it is not his will that I should value them. If this had been his pleasure, he would have placed in them my good, which now he has not done; therefore I cannot transgress his commands. Seek in all things your own highest good; and for other aims, recognize them so far as the case requires, and in accordance with reason, contented with this alone. Otherwise you will be unfortunate, disappointed, restrained, hindered. These are the established laws, these the statutes. Of these one ought to be an expositor, and to these obedient, rather than to those of Masurius and Cassius.1 [p. 2153]


1 Two famous lawyers. - C.

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