William Evans.

The Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) online

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having written to him, that a merchant of the
place had several fine boys to sell, he returned
him this answer with great indignation. What
hast thou seen in any act of my life, that
should put thee upon such a message as this ?
He avoided the woman whom his courtiers
flung in his way to debauch him. Nay, he
woutd not see the wife of Darius, famed for
the most beautiful princess of the age ; which,
with his other virtues, made Darius, the last
Persian king, to say. If God has determined
to take my empire from me, I wish it into
the hands of Alexander, my virtuous enemy.

He hated covetousness ; for though he lefl
great conquests, he left no riches ; which made
him answer one who asked him when he was
dying. Where he had hid his treasures ;
Among my friends, says he. He was wont
to say. He owed more to his master for his
education, than to his father for his birth ;
by how much it was less to live, than to live

6. Ptolemy, son of Lagos, being re-
proached for his mean original, his friends
were angry that he did not resent it ; We
ought, says he, to bear reproaches patiently.

7. Xenophanes being jeered for refusing
to play at a forbidden game, answered, I do
not fear my money, but my reputation : they
who make laws, must keep thenn. A com-
mendable saying.

8. Antigonus being taken sick, observed,
It was a warning from God to instruct him of
his mortality. A poet flattering him with the
title of the son of God ; he answered. My
servant knows the contrary. Another syco-
phant telling him, that the will of kings is the
rule of justice ; No, saith he, rather justice is
the rule of the will of kings. And being
pi'essed by his minions to put a garrison into
Athens, to hold the Greeks in subjection, he
answered. He had no stronger garrison than
the affections of his people.

9. ThEjMistocles, after all the honour of
his life, sits down with this conclusion, That
the way to the grave is more desirable than
the way to worldly honours. His daughter
being courted by one of little wit and great
wealth, and another of little wealth and great
goodness; he chose the poor man for his son-
in-law ; For, saith he, I will rather have a
man without money, than money without a
man ; reckoning, that not money, but worth,
makes the man. Being told by Symmachus,
that he would teach him the art of memory ;
he gravely answered, he had rather learn the
art of forgetfulness ; adding, he could re-
member enough, but many things he could
not forget, which were necessary to be forgot-
ten ; as the honours, glories, pleasures and
conquests he had spent his days in, too apt to
transport to vain glory.

10. Aristides, a wise and just Greek, of
great honour and trust with the Athenians ;
was a great enemy to cabals in government :
the reason he renders is, because, I would not
be obliged to authorize injustice. He so much
hated covetousness, though he was thrice
chosen treasurer of Athens, that he lived and
died poor, and that of choice: for being there-
fore reproached by a rich usurer, he answered,
Thy riches hurt thee, more than my poverty
hurts me. Being once banished by a contrary
faction in the state, he prayed to God, That



the affairs of his country might go so well, as
never to need his return : which however
caused him presently to be recalled. Whei'e-
upon he told them. That he was not troubled
for his exile, with respect to himself, but the
honour of his country. Themistocles, their
general, had a project to propose to render
Athens mistress of Greece, but it required
secresy : the people obliged him to communi-
cate it to Aristides, whose judgment they would
follow. Aristides having privately heard it
from Themistocles, publicly answered to the
people, True, there was nothing more advan-
tageous, nor nothing more unjust : which
quashed the project.

11. Pericles, as he mounted the tribunal,
prayed to God, That not a word might fall
from him that might scandalize the people,
wrong the public affairs, or hurt his own. One
of his friends praying him to speak falsely in
his favour, We are friends, saith he, but not
beyond the altar; meaning not against religion
and truth. Sophocles, being his companion,
upon sight of a beautiful woman, said to Peri-
cles, Ah, what a lovely creature is that ! to
whom Pericles replied. It becometh a magis-
trate not only to have his hands clean, but his
tongue and eyes also.

12. Phocion, a famous Athenian, was hon-
est and poor, yea, he contemned riches; for a
certain governor making rich presents, he re-
turned them ; saying, I refused Alexander's.
And when several persuaded him to accept of
such bounty, or else his children would want,
he answered, If my son be virtuous, I shall
leave him enough ; and if he be vicious, more
would be too little. He rebuked the excess of
the Athenians, and that openly, saying, He
that eateth more than he ought, maketh more
diseases than he can cure. To condemn or
flatter him, was to him alike. Demosthenes
telling him, Whenever the people were en-
raged, they would kill him; he answered. And
thee also, when they are come to their wits.
He said an orator was like a cypress tree, fair
and great, but fruitless. Antipater pressing
him to submit to his sense, he answered. Thou
canst not have me for a friend and flatterer
too. Seeing a man in office speak much, and
do little, he asked How can that man do busi-
ness, who is already drunk with talking? After
all the great services of his life, he was un-
justly condemned to die, and going to the place
of execution, lamented of the people, one of
his enemies spit in his face ; he took it without
any disorder of mind, only saying, Take him
away. Before execution, his friends asked
him. Whether he had nothing to say to his
son ? Yes, said he, let him not hate my ene-
mies, nor revenge iny death : I see it is better

to sleep upon the earth with peace, than with
trouble upon the softest bed : he ought to do
that which is his duty, and what is more is
vanity: that he must not carry two faces; and
promise little, but keep his promises : the world
does the contrary.

13. Clitomachus had so great a love to
virtue, and practised it with such exactness,
that if at any time in company he heard wan-
ton or obscene discourse, he was wont to quit
the place.

14. Epaminondas being invited to a sacri-
ficial feast, so soon as he had entered, with-
drew, because of the sumptuous furniture and
attire of the place and people ; saying, I was
called at Leuctra to a sacrifice, but 1 find it
is a debauch. The day after the great victory
he obtained over his enemies, he seemed sad
and solitary, which was not his ordinary tem-
per ; and being asked why ? he answered, I
would moderate the joy of yesterday's tri-
umphs. A Thessalian general, and his col-
league in a certain enterprise, knowing his
poverty, sent him two thousand crowns to de-
fray his part of the charges ; but he seemed
angry, and answered. This looks like corrupt-
ing me; contenting himself with less than five
pounds, which he borrowed of one of his
friends for that service. The same modera-
tion made him refuse the presents of the
Persian emperor, saying. They were needless,
if he only desired of him what was just ; if
more, he was not rich enough to corrupt him.
Seeing a rich man refuse to lend one of his
friends money who was in affliction ; he said,
Art not thou ashamed to refuse to help a good
man in necessity? After he had freed Greece
from trouble, and made the Thebans, his coun-
trymen, triumph over the Lacedaemonians, till
then invincible, that ungrateful people ar-
raigned him and his friends, under pretence
of acting something without authority. He,
as general, took the blame upon himself, jus-
tified the action both from necessity and suc-
cess, arraigning his judges for ingratitude,
whilst himself was at the bar ; which caused
them to withdraw with fallen countenances,
and hearts smitten with guilt and fear. He
was a man of great truth and patience, as
well as wisdom and courage ; for he was never
observed to lie, in earnest or in jest. Not-
withstanding the ill and cross humours of the
Thebans, aggravated by his incomparable
hazards and services for their freedom and
renown, it is reported of him, that he ever
bore them patiently ; often saying, He ought
no more to be revenged of his countrj', than
of his father. And being wounded to death
in the battle of Mantinea, he advised his
countrymen to make peace, none being fit to



command : which proved true. This, for a
Gentile and a general, hath matter of praise
and example in it.

15. Demosthenes, the great orator of
Athens, had these sentences : Wise men speak
little; and therefore nature hath given men
two ears and one tongue, to hear more than
they speak. To one who spoke much he said.
How Cometh it, that he who taught thee to
speak, did not teach thee to hold thy tongue 1
He said of a covetous man. He knew not how
to live all his life-time, and that he left it for
another to live after he was dead. That it
was an easy thing to deceive one's self, be-
cause it was easy to persuade one's self to
what we desired. He said. That calumnies
were easily received, but time would always
discover them. That there was nothing more
uneasy to good men, than not to have the
liberty of speaking freely : and that if we
knew what we had to suffer from the people,
we would never meddle to govern them. In
fine. That man's happiness was to be like God ;
and to resemble him, we must love truth and

16. Agasicles, king of the Lacedaemoni-
ans, or Spartans, which are one, was of the
opinion. That it was better to govern without
force ; and, says the means to do it, is to
govern the people as a father governs his

17. Agesilaus, king of the same people,
would say. That he had rather be master of
himself, than of the greatest city of his ene-
mies ; and preserve his own liberty, than to
usurp the liberty of another man. A prince,
says he, ought to distinguish himself from his
subjects by his virtue, and not by his state or
delicacy of life. He therefore, wore plain,
simple clothing ; his table was as moderate,
and his bed as hard, as that of any ordinary
subject ; and when he was told, that one time
or other he would be obliged to change his
fashion ; No, saith he, I am not given to
change ; and this I do, to remove from young
men any pretence of luxury ; that they may
see their prince practise what he counsels them
to do. He added. That the foundation of the
Lacedsemonian laws was, to despise luxury,
and to reward with liberty : Nor, saith he,
should good men put a value upon that which
jnean and base souls make their delight. Being
flattered by some with divine honour, he asked
them. If they could not make gods too? If they
could, why did they not begin with themselves?
The same austere conduct of life made him
refuse to have his statue erected in the cities
of Asia; nor would he suffer his picture to be
taken, and his reason is good ; For, saith he,
the fairest portraiture of men is their own ac-
tions. Whatever was to be suddenly done in

the government, he was sure to set his hand
first to the work, like a common person. He
would say. It did not become men to make
provision to be rich, but to be good. Being
asked the means to true happiness, he an-
swered. To do nothing that should make a
man fear to die; another time. To speak well,
and do well. Being called home by the
Ephori, or supreme magistrates, under the
Spartan constitution, he returned ; saying. It
is not less the duty of a prince to obey laws,
than to command men. He conferred places
of trust and honour upon his enemies, that he
might constrain their hatred into love. A
lawyer asking him for a letter to make a per-
son judge, who was of his own friends ; My
friends, says he, have no need of a recom-
mendation to do justice. — A comedian of note
wondering that Agesilaus said nothing to him,
asked, if he knew him? Yes, saith he, I know
thee ; art not thou the buffoon Callipedes ? —
One calling the king of Persia, the great king,
he answered. He is not greater than I, unless
he hath more virtue than I. — One of his friends
catching him playing with his children, he
prevented him thus ; Say nothing, till thou art
a father too. — He had great care of the edu-
cation of youth ; often saying. We must teach
children what they shall do when they are
men. The Egyptians despising him because
he had but a small train and a mean equi-
page; Oh, saith he, I will have them to know,
royalty consists not in vain pomp, but in

18. Agis, another king of Lacedsemonia,
imprisoned for endeavouring to restore their
declining discipline, being asked, whether he
repented not of his design ? answered. No ;
for, saith he, good actions never need repent-
ance. His father and mother desiring him to
grant something which he thought unjust, he
answered, I obeyed you when I was young ;
I must now obey the laws, and do that which
is reasonable. — As he was leading to the place
of execution, one of his people wept; to whom
he said, Weep not for me ; for the authors of
this unjust death are more in fault than I.

19. Alcamenes, king of the same people,
being asked, which was the way to get and
preserve honour? answered. To despise wealth.
Another wondering why he refused the presents
of the Messenians, he answered, I make con-
science to keep the laws that forbid it. To
a miser, who accused him of being reserved
in his discourse, he said, I had rather con-
form to reason, than to thy covetousness ; or
I had rather be covetous of my words, than

20. Alexandridas hearing an exile com-
plain of his banishment, observed. Complain
of the cause of it (to wit his deserts ;) for



there is nothing hurtful but vice. Being asked,
why they were so long in making the process
of criminals in Lacedsemonia ? Because, saith
he, when they are once dead, they are past
repentance. This shows their belief of im-
mortality and eternal blessedness ; and that
even poor criminals, through repentance, may
obtain it.

21. Anaxii-as would say, That the great-
est advantage kings had over other men, was
their power of excelling them in good deeds.

22. Ariston, hearing one admire this ex-
pression. We ought to do good to our friends,
and evil to our enemies ; answered. By no
means ; we ought to do good to all ; to keep
our friends, and to gain our enemies. A doc-
trine the most difficult to flesh and blood of all
the precepts of Christ's sermon upon the mount :
nay, not allowed to be his doctrine ; but both
" An eye for an eye" defended, against his
express command, and oftentimes an eye put
out, an estate sequestered, and life taken
away, under a specious zeal for religion too :
as if sin could be christened, and impiety
entitled to the doctrine of Christ. Oh, will
not such heathens rise up in judgment against
our worldly Christians in the great day of

23. Archidamus, also king of Sparta,
being asked, who was master of Lacedsemo-
nia ? The laws, saith he, and after them the
magistrates. — One praising a musician in his
presence. Ah ! saith he, but when will you
praise a good man? — Another saying, That
man is an excellent musician : That is all one,
saith he, as if thou wouldst say, There is a
good cook : counting both, trades of voluptu-
ousness. — Another promising him some ex-
cellent wine ; I care not, saith he, for it will
only put my mouth out of taste to my ordi-
nary liquor; which it seems was water. — Two
men chose him an arbitrator ; to accept it, he
made them promise to do what he would have
them : Then said he, stir not from this place
till you have agreed the matter between your-
selves ; which was done. — Dennis, king of
Sicily, sending his daughters rich apparel, he
forbade them to wear it, saying. You will
seem to me but the more homely. — This great
man certainly was not of the mind to bring
up his children at the exchanges, dancing-
schools and play-houses.

24. Cleomenes, king of the same people,
would say, That kings ought to be pleasant ;
but not to cheapness and contempt. He was
so just a man in power, that he drove away
Demaratus, his fellow-king, for they always
had two, for offering to corrupt him in a cause
before them ; Lest, saith he, he should attempt
others less able to resist him, and so ruin the

25. Dersyllidas perceiving that Pyrrhus
would force a prince upon his countrymen,
the Lacedaemonians, whom they lately ejected,
stoutly opposed him, saying. If thou art God,
we fear thee not, because we have done no
evil ; and if thou art but a man, we are men

26. HiPPODAMus, seeing a young man
ashamed, who was caught in bad company,
reproved him sharply, saying, For time to
come keep such company as thou needest not
blush at.

27. Leonidas, brother to Cleomenes, and
a brave man, being offered by Xerxes to be
made an emperor of Greece, answered, I had
rather die for my own country, than have an
unjust command over other men's. Adding,
Xerxes deceived himself, to think it a virtue
to invade the right of other men.

28. Lysander, being asked by a person,
what was the best frame of government? That,
saith he, where every man hath according to
his deserts. Though one of the greatest cap-
tains that Sparta bred, he had learned by his
wisdom to bear personal affronts. Say what
thou wilt, saith he to one who spoke abusively
to him; empty thyself, I shall bear it. His
daughters were contracted in marriage to per-
sons of quality : but he dying poor, they re-
fused to marry them : upon which the Ephori
condemned each of them in a great sum of
money, because they preferred money before
faith and engagement.

29. Pausanias, son of Cleombrotus, and
colleague of Lysander, beholding among the
Persian spoils they took, the costliness of their
furniture, said. It had been much better if
they had been worth less, and their masters
more. After the victory of Platea, having
a dinner drest according to the Persian
manner, and beholding the magnificence
and furniture of the treat ; What, saith he,
do these people mean, who live in such wealth
and luxury, to attack our meanness and pov-
erty ?

30. Theopompus saith. The way to pre-
serve a kingdom is, to embrace the counsel of
one's friends, and not to suffer the meaner sort
to be oppressed. One making the glory of
Sparta to consist in commanding well, he an-
swered, No, it is in knowing how to obey
well. He was of opinion. That great honours
hurt a state; adding, That time would abolish
great, and augment moderate honours among
men ; meaning that men should have the
reputation they deserve, without flattery and

A rhetorician bragging himself of his art,
was reproved by a Lacedoemonian, Dost thou
call that an art, saith he, which hath not truth
for its object? Also a Lacedaemonian being



presented with an harp after dinner by a mu-
sical person, I do not, saith he, know how to
play the fool. Another being asked. What he
thought of a poet of the times, answered.
Good for nothing but to corrupt youth. Nor
was this only the wisdom and virtue of some
particular persons, which may be thought to
have given light to the dark body of their
courts ; but their government was wise and
just, and the people generally obeyed it ;
making virtue to be true honour, and that
honour dearer to them than lite.

31, LACEDiEMOJViAN customs, according to
Plutarch, were these : " They were very tem-
perate in their eating and drinking, their most
delicate dish being a pottage made for the
nourishment of ancient people. They taught
their children to write and read, to obey the
magistrates, to endure labour, and to be bold
in danger : the teachers of other sciences were
not so much as admitted in Lacedsemonia.
They had but one garment, and that new but
once a year. They rarely used baths or oil,
the customs of those parts of the world.
Their youth lay in troops upon mats ; the
boys and girls apart. They accustomed their
youth to travel by night without light, to use
them not to be afraid. The old governed the
young ; and those of them who obeyed not
the aged, were punished. It was a shame
not to bear reproof among the youth ; and
among the aged, matter of punishment not to
give it. They made ordinary cheer, on pur-
pose to keep out luxury ; holding that mean
fare kept the spirit free, and the body fit for
action. The music they used was simple,
without art of changings ; their songs com-
posed of virtuous deeds of good men, and
their harmony mixed with some religious ex-
tasies, that seemed to carry their minds above
the fear of death. They permitted not their
youth to travel, lest they should corrupt their
manners; and for the same reason, they per-
mitted not strangers to dwell amongst them,
who conformed not to their way of living. In
this they were so strict, that such of their
youth as wei'e not educated in their customs,
enjoyed not the privileges of natives. They
would suffer neither comedies nor tragedies to
be acted in their country. They condemned
a soldier for painting his buckler of several
colours ; and publicly punished a young man,
for having learnt the way to a town given to
luxury. They also banished an orator for
bragging that he could speak a whole day
upon any subject ; for they did not like much
speaking, much less for a bad cause. They
buried their dead without any ceremony or
superstition ; for they only used a red cloth
upon the body, broidered with olive leaves :
this burial had all degrees. Mourning they

forbade, and epitaphs too. When they prayed
to God, they stretched forth their arms; which,
with them, was a sign that they must do good
works, as well as make good prayers. They
asked of God but two things, patience in labour,
and happiness in well-doing."

This account is mostly the same with Xeno-
phon's: he adds, "that they eat moderately,
and in common ; the youth mixed with the
aged, to awe them, and give them a good ex-
ample. In walking, they would neither speak,
nor turn their eyes aside, any more than if
they were statues of marble. The men were
bred bashful, as well as the women, not speak-
ing at meals, unless they were asked a ques-
tion. When they were fifteen years of age,
instead of leaving them to their own conduct,
as in other places, they had most care of their
conversation, that they might preserve them
from the mischiefs that age is incident to.
Those who would not comply with these rules,
were not counted always honest people. In
this their government was excellent ; That
they thought there was no greater punishment
for a bad man, than to be known and used as
such, at all times, and in all places ; for they
were not to come into the company of per-
sons of reputation ; they were to give place to
all others ; to stand when others sat ; to be
accountable to every honest man who met
them, for their conversation ; that they must
keep their poor kindred ; that they used not
the same freedoms that honest people might
use : by which means they kept virtue in
credit, and vice in contempt. They used all
things necessary for life, without superfluity
or want ; despising riches, and sumptuous ap-
parel and living : judging, that the best orna-
ment of the body is health ; and of the mind,
virtue. And since (saith Xenophon) it is vir-
tue and temperance that render us commenda-
ble, and that it is only the Lacedaemonians
who reverence it publicly, and have made it
the foundation of their state; their government,
of right, merits preference to any other in the
world. But that which is strange, is, that all
admire it, but none imitate it." Nor is this
account and judgment fantastical.

32. Lycurgus, their famous founder and
lawgiver, instilled these principles, and by his
power with them, made them laws to rule
them. Let us hear what he did : Lycurgus,
willing to reclaim his citizens from a luxurious
to a virtuous life, and show them how much-
good conduct and honest industry might me-
liorate the state of mankind, applied himself
to introduce a new model of government, per-
suading them to believe, that though they were
descended of noble and virtuous ancestors, if
they were not exercised in a course of virtue,
they would, like the dog in the kitchen, rather



leap at the meat, than run at the game. In
fine, they agreed to obey him. He retrenched
their laws of building, suffering no more orna-

Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) → online text (page 61 of 105)