October 5

NEVER either praise or blame any person on account of outward actions that are common to all, but on the account of principles. These are the peculiar property of each individual, and the things which make actions good or bad.


IS it not a cruel thing to forbid men to affect those things, which they conceive to agree best with their own natures, and to tend most to their own proper good and benefit? But you seem to want to deny them this liberty, as often as you are angry with them for their sins. For surely they are led unto those sins whatsoever they be, as to their proper good and commodity. But it is not so (that will object perchance). You therefore teach them better, and make it clear to them: but do not be angry with them.



October 4

SOCRATES very properly used to call these things masks: for, as masks appear shocking and formidable to children, from their inexperience, we are affected in like manner, with regard to things, for no other reason than as children are with regard to masks. For what is a child? Ignorance. What is a child? Want of learning; for, so far as the knowledge of children extends, they are not inferior to us. What is death? A mask. Turn it, and be convinced. See, it does not bite. This little body and spirit must be separated (as they formerly were) either now, or hereafter: why, then, are you displeased if it is now? For if not now, if will be hereafter.



October 3

MEN are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things. Death, for instance, is not terrible, else it would have appeared so to Socrates. But the terror consists in our notion of death that it is terrible. When therefore we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never impute it to others, but to ourselves; that is, to our own principles. It is the action of an uninstructed person to lay the fault of his own bad condition upon others; of one entering upon instruction to lay the fault on himself; and of one perfectly instructed, neither on others nor on himself.



October 2

WHENEVER anyone exceeds moderation, the most delightful things may become the most undelightful.


IF you are struck by the appearance of any promised pleasure, guard yourself against being hurried away by it; but let the affair wait your leisure, and procure yourself some delay. Then bring to your mind both points of time: that in which you shall enjoy the pleasure, and that in which you will repent and reproach yourself after you have enjoyed it; and set before you, in opposition to these, how you will rejoice and applaud yourself if you abstain. And even though it should appear to you a seasonable gratification, take heed that its enticing and agreeable and attractive force may not subdue you; but set in opposition to this how much better it is to be conscious of having gained so great a victory.



October 1

WHEN any alarming news is brought you, always have it at hand that no news can be brought you concerning what is in your own choice. Can anyone bring you news that your opinions or desires are ill conducted? By no means; but that somebody is dead. What is that to you, then? That somebody speaks ill of you. And what is that to you, then?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §18. ¶1.

AS for praise and commendation, view their mind and understanding, what estate they are in; what kind of things they fly, and what things they seek after: and that as in the sea-side, whatsoever was before to be seen, is by the continual succession of new heaps of sand cast up one upon another, soon hid and covered; so in this life, all former things by those which immediately succeed.