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no end of them.” In short that noble philosopher has described our inconsistency with ourselves in this par. ticular, by all those various turns of expression and thought which are peculiar to his writings..
It was a memorable practice of Vespasian, the Roman Emperor, throughout the course of his whole life, that he called himself to an account every night for the actions of the past day; and as often as he found he had slipped any one day without doing some good, he entered upon his diary this memorandum,“ Diem perdidi.” “I have lost a day.”
The excellent education which the younger Scipio had received, under his father Paulus Emilius, and from the instructions of Polybius, perfectly qualified him to fill his vacant hours with advantage, and afterwards to support the leisure of a retired life with pleasure and dignity. “Nobody," says a valuable historian,
“ knew better how to mingle leisure and action, nor to · employ the intervals of public business with more ele
gance and taste.” His predecessor, (and grandfather by adoption,) the illustrious Scipio Africanus, used to say, “that he was never less idle than when he was entirely at leisure; nor less alone than when he was wholly by himself; a very uncommon turn of mind in those who have been accustomed to the hurry of business, who too generally sink, at every interval of leisure, into a kind of melancholy nausea, and a listless disgust for every thing about them.
The example of Alfred the great, is highly memorable. “Every hour of his life had its peculiar business assigned it. He divided the day and night into three portions of eight hours each; and, though much afflicted with a very painful disorder, assigned only eight hours to sleep, meals, and exercise; devoting the remaining sixteen, one half to reading, writing, and prayer, and the other to public business." So sensible was this great man that time was not a trifle to be dissipated, but a rich talent entrusted to him, and for which he was accountable to the great dispenser of it.
We are told of queen Elizabeth, that, except when engaged by public or domestic affairs, and the exercises
necessary for the preservation of her health and spirits, she was always employed in either reading or writing; in translating from other authors or in compositions of her own; and that notwithstanding she spent much of her time in reading the best writings of her own and former ages, yet she by no means neglected that best of books the Bible: for proof of which take her own words : “ I walk (says she) many times in the pleasant fields of the Holy Scriptures, where I pluck up the goodlisome herbs of sentences, by pruning ; eat them by reading; digest them by musing, and laid them up at length in the high seat of memory, by gathering them together; that so having tasted their sweetness, I may the less perceive the bitterness of life.”
Gassendi, the celebrated philosopher, was perhaps one of the hardest students that ever existed. In general he rose at three o'clock in the morning, and read or wrote till eleven, when he received the visits of his friends. He afterwards at twelve made a very slender dinner, at which he drank nothing but water, and sat down to his books again at three. There he remained till eight o'clock, when, after having eaten a very light supper, he retired to bed at ten o'clock. Gassendi was a great repeater of verses in the several languages with which he was conversant. He made it a rule every day to repeat six hundred. He could repeat six thousand Latin verses, besides all Lucretius, which he had by heart. He used to say, “ that it is with the memory as with all other habits. Do you wish to strengthen it or prevent its being enfeebled, as it generally happens when a man is growing old, exercise it continually, and in very early life get as many fine verses by heart as you can : they 'amuse the mind, and keep it in a certain degree of elevation, that inspires dignity and grandeur of sentiment.” The principles of moral conduct that he laid down for the direction of his life, were,—To know and fear God. Not to be afraid of death : and to submit quietly to it whenever it should happen. To avoid idle hopes, as well as idle fears."
When Socrates, in Plato's Phædo, has proved the immortality of the soul, he considers it as a necessary
consequence of the belief thereof, “ That we should be employed in the culture of our minds; in such care of them as shall not only regard that term to which we give the name of life, but also the whole which follows it; in making ourselves as wise and good as may be ; since on it our safety entirely depends; the soul carry, ing hence nothing with it but its good or bad actions, its virtues or vices; and these constitute its happiness or misery to all eternity.” How might many a Christian redden to think that this is the language of a Pagan mind; a mind unenlightened with the bright splendors of gospel truth, and equally ignorant of a Saviour's merits, and of a Saviour's example!
Seneca, in his letters to Lucilius, assures him that there was not a day in which he did not either write something, or read and epitomize some good author: and Pliny, in like manner, giving an account of the various methods he used to fill up every vacancy of time, after several employments which he enumerates, observes, “ Sometimes I hunt; but even then I carry with me a pocket-book, that, while my servants are busied in disposing the nets and other matters, I may be employed in something that may be useful to me in my studies : and that, if I miss my game, I may at least bring home some of my thoughts with me, and not have the mortification of having caught nothing."
" Among the Indians (says Apuleius) there is an excellent set of men, called Gymnosophists. These I greatly admire; though not as skilled in propagating the vine, or in the arts of grafting or agriculture. They apply not themselves to till the ground, to search after gold, to break the horse, to shear or feed sheep or goats, What is it then that engages them? One thing pre: ferable to all these. Wisdom is the pursuit, as well of the old men, the teachers, as of the young, their disciples. Nor is there any thing among them that I do so much praise as their aversion to sloth and idleness. When the tables are overspread, before the meat is set on them, all the youths, assembling to their meal, are asked by their masters, In what useful task they have been employed from sun-rise to that time! One repre
sents himself as having been an arbitrator, and succeed. ed by his prudent management in composing a difference; in making those friends who were at variance. A second had been paying obedience to his parents' commands. A. third had made some discovery by his own application, or learned something by another's instruction. The rest gave an account of themselves in the same way. He who has done nothing to deserve a dinner, is turned out of doors without one, and obliged to work while the others enjoy the fruits of their application."
How beautifully simple, yet forcible, is the following account of the futility of those merely sensual pursuits, which have occupied the time and attention of those we have been accustomed to call the Great! In the book of the Maccabees, we read, that “ Alexander, son of Philip the Macedonian, made many wars, took many strong holds, went through the ends of the earth, took spoils of many nations : the earth was quiet before him. After these things he fell sick, and perceived that he should die.”
THE PHYSICIAN OF MOHAMMED. One of the kings of Persia sent a very eminent physician to Mohammed; who remaining a long time in Arabia himself before the Prophet, he thus addressed him : “ Those who had a right to command me, sent me here to practise physic, but since I came I have had no opportunity of showing my eminence in this profession, as no one seems to have any occasion for me.” Mohammed replied, “We never eat but when we are hungry; and we always leave off while we have an appetite for more.” The physician answered “ That is the way to render my services useless ;” and so'saying, he took his leave and returned to Persia.
Mohammed's favorite wife appears to have been a very sensible and virtuous woman. Among many excellent maxims she left her children, is the following:
“My sons, never despise any person,
And your inferior as your son."