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of the citizens, who was not then at home, but had been travelling
a long time." Solon replied, "What a miserable man is he! But what
was his name?" "I have heard it," says the man, "but have now forgotten
it, only there was a great talk of his wisdom and his justice." Thus
Solon was drawn on by every answer, and his fears heightened, till
at last, being extremely concerned, he mentioned his own name, and
asked the stranger if that young man was called Solon's son; and the
stranger assenting, he began to beat his head, and to do and say all
that is usual with men in transports of grief. But Thales took his
hand, and, with a smile, said, "These things, Solon, keep me from
marriage and rearing children, which are too great for even your constancy
to support; however, be not concerned at the report, for it is a fiction."
This Hermippus relates, from Pataecus, who boasted that he had Aesop's
However, it is irrational and poor-spirited not to seek conveniences
for fear of losing them, for upon the same account we should not allow
ourselves to like wealth, glory, or wisdom, since we may fear to be
deprived of all these; nay, even virtue itself, than which there is
no greater nor more desirable possession, is often suspended by sickness
or drugs. Now Thales, though unmarried, could not be free from solicitude
unless he likewise felt no care for his friends, his kinsman, or his
country; yet we are told be adopted Cybisthus, his sister's son. For
the soul, having a principle of kindness in itself, and being born
to love, as well as perceive, think, or remember, inclines and fixes
upon some stranger, when a man has none of his own to embrace. And
alien or illegitimate objects insinuate themselves into his affections,
as into some estate that lacks lawful heirs; and with affection come
anxiety and care; insomuch that you may see men that use the strongest
language against the marriage-bed and the fruit of it, when some servant's
or concubine's child is sick or dies, almost killed with grief, and
abjectly lamenting. Some have given way to shameful and desperate
sorrow at the loss of a dog or horse; others have borne the death
of virtuous children without any extravagant or unbecoming grief,
have passed the rest of their lives like men, and according to the
principles of reason. It is not affection, it is weakness that brings
men, unarmed against fortune by reason, into these endless pains and
terrors; and they indeed have not even the present enjoyment of what
they dote upon, the possibility of the future loss causing them continual
pangs, tremors, and distresses. We must not provide against the loss
of wealth by poverty, or of friends by refusing all acquaintance,
or of children by having none, but by morality and reason. But of
this too much.
Now, when the Athenians were tired with a tedious and difficult war
that they conducted against the Megarians for the island Salamis and
made a law that it should be death for any man, by writing or speaking,
to assert that the city ought to endeavour to recover it, Solon, vexed
at the disgrace, and perceiving thousands of the youth wished for
somebody to begin, but did not dare to stir first for fear of the
law, counterfeited a distraction, and by his own family it was spread
about the city that he was mad. He then secretly composed some elegiac
verses, and getting them by heart, that it might seem extempore, ran
out into the market-place with a cap upon his head, and, the people
gathering about him, got upon the herald's stand, and sang that elegy
which begins thus-
"I am a herald come from Salamis the fair,
My news from thence my verses shall declare." The poem is called Salamis;
it contains an hundred verses very elegantly written; when it had
been sung, his friends commended it, and especially Pisistratus exhorted
the citizens to obey his directions; insomuch that they recalled the
law, and renewed the war under Solon's conduct. The popular tale is,
that with Pisistratus he sailed to Colias, and, finding the women,
according to the custom of the country there, sacrificing to Ceres,
he sent a trusty friend to Salamis, who should pretend himself a renegade,
and advise them, if they desired to seize the chief Athenian women,

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