In a like occasion, seeing a man sop the same morsel of meat in several sauces, he said, “Is it possible to make a sauce that will cost more, and be not so good, as one that is made by taking out of several different sauces at once? For there being more ingredients than usual, no doubt it costs more; but then because we mix things together, which the cooks never used to mingle, because they agree not well with one another, we certainly spoil the whole; and is it not a jest to be curious in having good cooks, and at the same time to be so fantastical as to alter the relish of the dishes they have dressed? Besides, when we have once got a habit of eating thus of several dishes at once, we are not so well satisfied when we have no longer that variety. Whereas a man who contents himself to eat but of one dish at a time finds no great inconvenience in having but one dish of meat for his dinner.”
He made likewise this remark: that to express what the other Greeks called “to eat a meal,” the Athenians said “to make good cheer;” and that the word “good” shows us that we ought to eat such things only as will neither disorder the body nor the mind, which are easily had, and purchased without great expense. From whence he inferred that they alone who live temperately and soberly can truly be said to make good cheer—that is to say, to eat well.
Chapter I. That persons of good natural parts, as
well as those who have
plentiful fortunes, ought not to think themselves above instruction. On
the contrary, the one ought, by the aid of learning, to improve their
genius; the other, by the acquisition of knowledge, to render themselves
There was always, as we have already remarked, some improvement to be made with Socrates; and it must be owned that his company and conversation were very edifying, since even now, when he is no more among us, it is still of advantage to his friends to call him to their remembrance. And, indeed, whether he spoke to divert himself, or whether he spoke seriously, he always let slip some remarkable instructions for the benefit of all that heard him.
He used often to say he was in love, but it was easy to see it was not with the beauty of one’s person that he was taken, but with the virtues of his mind.
The marks of a good genius, he said, were these—a good judgment, a retentive memory, and an ardent desire of useful knowledge; that is to say, when a person readily learns what he is taught, and strongly retains what he has learnt, as also when he is curious to know all that is necessary to the good government either of a family or of a republic; in a word, when one desires to obtain a thorough knowledge of mankind and of whatever relates to human affairs. And his opinion was that when these good natural parts are cultivated as they ought, such men are not only happy themselves, and govern their families prudently, but are capable likewise to render others happy, and to make republics flourish.