February 28

SOLITUDE is the state of a helpless person. For not he who is alone is therefore solitary, any more than one in a crowd the contrary. When therefore, we lose a son, or a brother, or a friend on whom we have been used to repose, we often say we are left solitary even in the midst of Rome, where such a crowd is continually meeting us.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §13. ¶1.

AT what time soever thou wilt, it is in thy power, to retire into thyself, and to be at rest, and free from all businesses. A man cannot anywhither retire better, than to his own soul: he especially who is beforehand provided of such things within, which whensoever he doth withdraw himself to look in, may presently afford unto him perfect ease and tranquillity.



February 27

LET it always appear, and be manifest unto thee, that solitariness, and desert places, by many Philosophers, so much esteemed of, and affected, are of themselves but thus and thus; and that all things are here to them that live in Towns, and converse with others: as they are the same nature everywhere to be seen and observed: to them that have retired themselves to the top of mountains, and to desert Havens, or what other desert and inhabited places soever. For anywhere if thou wilt mayest thou quickly find and apply that to thyself, which Plato saith of his Philosopher, in a place; as private and retired saith he, as if he were shut up and enclosed about in some Shepherd's lodge, on the top of a hill. There by thyself to put these questions to thyself, or to enter into these considerations: What is my chief and principal part, which hath power over the rest? What is now the present estate of it, as I use it; and what is it, that I employ it about? Is it now void of reason or no? Is it free, and separated; or so affixed, so congealed and grown together, as it were with the flesh, that it is swayed by the motions and inclinations of it?



February 26

HE that hath not one and the selfsame general end always as long as he liveth, cannot possibly be one and the selfsame man always. But this will not suffice except thou add also what ought to be this general end. For as the general conceit and apprehension of all those things which upon no certain ground are by the greater part of men deemed good, cannot be uniform and agreeable, but that only which is limited, and restrained by some certain proprieties and conditions, as of community: that nothing be conceived good, which is not commonly, and publicly good : so must the end also that we propose unto ourselves, be common and sociable. For he that doth direct all his own private motions and purposes to that end, all his actions will be agreeable and uniform; and by that means will be still the same man.



February 25

SET death before me, set pain, set a prison, set ignomony, set condemnation before me, and you will know me. This is the proper ostentation of a young man come out from the schools. Leave the rest to others. Let no one ever hear you utter a word about them, nor suffer it, if anyone commends you for them: but think that you are nobody, and that you know nothing. Appear to know only this, how you may never be disappointed of your desire; never incur your aversion. Let others study causes, problems, and syllogisms. Do you study death, chains, torture, exile: and all these with courage, and reliance upon him who hath called you to them, and judged you worthy a post in which you may show what the rational governing faculty can do when set in array against powers independent on the choice. And thus, this paradox becomes neither impossible nor a paradox, that we must be at once cautious and courageous: courageous in what doth not depend upon choice, and cautious in what doth.



February 24

WHAT is asserted by the philosophers may, perhaps, appear a paradox to some: let us, however, examine, as well as we can, whether this be true: That it is possible in all things to act at once with caution and courage. For caution seems, in some measure, contrary to courage; and contraries are by no means consistent. The appearance of a paradox to many, in the present case, seems to me to arise from something like this. If, indeed, we assert that courage and caution are to be used in the same instances, we should justly be accused of uniting contradictions: but, in the way that we afifirm it, where is the absurdity? For, if what hath been so often said, and so often demonstrated, be certain, that the essence of good and evil consists in the use of the appearances; and that things independent on choice are not of the nature either of good or evil: what paradox do the philosophers assert, if they say: "Where things are not dependent on choice, be courageous; where they are, be cautious?" For in these only, if evil consists in a bad choice, is caution to be used.



February 23

WHEN one of the company said to him, "Convince me that logic is necessary."

"Would you have me demonstrate it to you?" says he.


"Then I must use a demonstrative form of argument."


"And how will you know then whether I argue sophistically?"

On this, the man being silent, "You see," says he, "that even by your own confession, logic is necessary; since without its assistance, you cannot learn so much as whether it be necessary or not."

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §25. ¶1.


February 22

THIS, again, is folly and insolence to say: "I am impassive and undisturbed. Be it known to you, mortals, that while you are fluctuating and bustling about for things of no value, I alone am free from all perturbation." — Are you then so far from being contented with having no pain yourself, that you must needs make proclamation: "Come hither, all you who have the gout, or the headache, or a fever, or are lame, or blind, and see me free from every distemper." This is vain and shocking, unless you could show, like Aesculapius, by what method of cure they may presently become as free from distempers as yourself, and bring your own health as a proof of it.