BOOK VI. CONTAINING ABOUT THREE WEEKS.
3. Chapter iii. Containing two defiances to the critics.
To say truth, the wisest man is the likeliest to possess all worldly
blessings in an eminent degree; for as that moderation which wisdom
prescribes is the surest way to useful wealth, so can it alone qualify
us to taste many pleasures. The wise man gratifies every appetite and
every passion, while the fool sacrifices all the rest to pall and
It may be objected, that very wise men have been notoriously
avaricious. I answer, Not wise in that instance. It may likewise be
said, That the wisest men have been in their youth immoderately fond
of pleasure. I answer, They were not wise then.
Wisdom, in short, whose lessons have been represented as so hard to
learn by those who never were at her school, only teaches us to extend
a simple maxim universally known and followed even in the lowest life,
a little farther than that life carries it. And this is, not to buy at
too dear a price.
Now, whoever takes this maxim abroad with him into the grand market of
the world, and constantly applies it to honours, to riches, to
pleasures, and to every other commodity which that market affords, is,
I will venture to affirm, a wise man, and must be so acknowledged in
the worldly sense of the word; for he makes the best of bargains,
since in reality he purchases everything at the price only of a little
trouble, and carries home all the good things I have mentioned, while
he keeps his health, his innocence, and his reputation, the common
prices which are paid for them by others, entire and to himself.
From this moderation, likewise, he learns two other lessons, which
complete his character. First, never to be intoxicated when he hath
made the best bargain, nor dejected when the market is empty, or when
its commodities are too dear for his purchase.
But I must remember on what subject I am writing, and not trespass too
far on the patience of a good-natured critic. Here, therefore, I put
an end to the chapter.