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reading the Lives of our Plutarch! But let my guide remember the object of his office, and let him impress upon his pupil not so much (c) the date of the fall of Carthage as the qualities of Hannibal and Scipio, or not so much (a) where Marcellus died as why it was inconsistent with his duty that he died there. Let him not be taught chronicles so much as taught to pass judgement on them. (c) It is, to my mind, of all subjects that to which our minds apply themselves in the most widely variable measure. I have read in Livy a hundred things that another has not read there. Plutarch read there a hundred things over and above what I have been able to read, and perchance over and above what the author put there. To some it is a pure grammatical study; to others, the anatomy of philosophy, whereby the most obscure parts of our nature are searched. (a) There are in Plutarch many lengthy reflections, most worthy to be known; for he is, in my opinion, the master craftsman in such work; but there are a thousand others which he has barely touched; he merely indicates with his finger the way we can go, if we please, and contents himself sometimes with giving only a hint at the heart of a subject. We must draw these[1] forth, and place them in full view;[2] (b) as that remark of his, that the people of Asia were subject to one man because they did not know how to pronounce one syllable, which was “No,”[3] furnished La Boëtie, it may be, with the substance and the suggestion of his Servitude Volontaire. (a) Even to see him cull out a trivial act in a man’s life, or a remark which seems not of importance, is a dissertation. It is a pity that men of intelligence are so fond of brevity: doubtless their reputation is the better for it, but we are the worse off. Plutarch prefers that we should praise him for his judgement rather than for his learning; he prefers to leave us with an appetite for him rather than satiated. He knew that even on worth-while subjects too much can be said, and that Alexandridas justly — reproved him who made an excellent speech, but too long a one, to the Ephors: “O stranger; you say what is meet, but in unmeet fashion.”[4] (c) They who have slender bodies

  1. That is “the lengthy reflections.”
  2. Mettre en place marchande.
  3. Plutarch, Of False Shame. He quotes this as a joke.
  4. See Idem, Apothegms of the Lacedæmonians.