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Then think of that which may be ; and indeed,
22.-THE HAPPIEST MAN.
li-able cit-i-zen ex-as-per-ate
It is said that Solon, when he came to Sardis at the request of Cresus, was in the same condition as a native of an inland country when first he goes to see the ocean; for as he fancies every river he meets with to be the sea, so Solon, as he passed through the court and saw a great many nobles richly dressed, and proudly strutting among a crowd of attendants and guards, thought every one had been Crcesus, till at last he was brought to his presence, and found him decked with all the ornaments of jewels, purple, and embroidery, all that could strike the beholders with admiration of his grandeur and magnificence. When Solon came before him, and seemed not at all surprised, nor paid Croesus those compliments he expected, but showed himself to all discerning eyes to be a man who despised such vain ostentation and empty pomp, he commanded them to open his treasury to him, and to carry him about and show him his rich furniture, though he did not desire to see it, for Solon needed only to look upon him to give a judgment of the man. When he returned from viewing all this, Cresus asked him “if he had seen a happier man than he was ?” And when Solon answered he knew “one Tellus, a fellow-citizen of his," and told him, “ that this Tellus was an honest man, had good children, a competent estate all his life, which he ended fighting for his country,” Creesus looked upon him as a man void of all taste and judgment for not measuring happiness by the abundance of gold and silver, and for preferring the life and death of a mean and private man before so much power and such an empire.
He asked him again, if, besides Tellus, he knew any other man more happy ? Solon replied, “Yes, Clotis and Bito, who were very loving brothers, and very dutiful to their mother ; for when the oxen were too long before they came, they put themselves to the waggon, and drew their. mother to Juno's temple, who was extremely pleased with their action, and called happy by her neighbours; and then after they had sacrificed and feasted, they went to rest and never rose again, but died without pain or trouble immediately after they had acquired such great reputation.” “How," says Croesus displeased, “dost not
” thou reckon us also among the number of happy men ?” Solon, unwilling either to flatter, or to exasperate him more, replied, “King of Lydia, as God has given us Greeks a moderate proportion
of other things, so likewise of a kind of free and popular wisdom, which, contemplating the vicissitudes of human life, forbids one being elated with any present enjoyment, or greatly admiring the happiness of any man while it continues liable to alteration from time, since futurity contains in it an unknown variety of events. Him only we esteem happy whose happiness God continues to the end; but for him who has still all the hazards of life to encounter, we think he can with no more reason be pronounced happy than the wrestler can be proclaimed and crowned as victor before he has finished the combat."
After this he was dismissed, having grieved, but not instructed Croesus. Æsop, the author of the fables, was then at Sardis upon Croesus's invitation, and very much esteemed; he was concerned at the ill reception Solon met with, and gave him this advice. " Solon, let your visits to kings be as few or as pleasant to them as possible. Solon replied, “ No, rather let them be as few or as useful to them as possible.”
Then, indeed, Cresus despised Solon; but when he was overcome by Cyrus, had lost his city, was taken alive, condemned to be burnt, and laid bound upon the pile before all the Persians and Cyrus himself, he cried out as loud as possibly he could, three times, “O Solon!"
Cyrus, surprised, and sending some to inquire what man or god this Solon was, who was the only person he invoked in this extreme distress, Croesus told him the whole story, saying,
“ He was one of the wisest men of Greece, whom I sent for, not to be instructed, or to learn anything that I wanted, but that he should see and be a witness of that happiness, the loss of which is now a greater evil than the enjoyment was a good; for when I had it, the good of it was such only in name and opinion, but now the loss of it at last hath in reality brought upon me grievous troubles and incurable calamities; and that man, conjecturing from what was then what has since happened, bade me look to the end of my life, and not rely and grow proud upon uncertainties."
When this was told to Cyrus, who was a wiser man than Crosus, he, seeing in the present example that Solon's words were confirmed, not only freed Cræsus from punishment, but honoured him as long as he lived. And Solon had the glory, by the same discourse, to save one of these kings and instruct the other.
ac-cur-ate straight-ness con-nect-ed
A good carpenter, or a good smith, will not do bad work. His master may try to make him do bad work, for a master may esteem it his main business to sell whatever will find a market; but the good workman will not do it. He would rather do what hurts his whole soul-do nothing, and. see his family in distress, or work for less than he is worth, either of which wears his heart by the sense of injustice. In short, he must be accurate and truthful. With the squareness of his work, and the straightness of his line, are intimately connected his notions of right and wrong. The good workman is humble withal; he knows the struggle good work has cost him, and his satisfaction in it is mixed with a sense of his own feebleness in respect to all good work, and all higher work which he cannot himself do. He is charitable and helpful to others, because he has a fellow-feeling with all who strive as he strove; and he desires that all good work should prosper, as he wishes that all bad should come to an end. He is noóle, because he feels himself to be a part of the whole army of workers, who, from the beginning of the world, have striven in all arts and all times and all places to do their duty in the station of life in which they have laboured.