If one’s work is to give pleasure it must have its inspiration in happiness

From the letters of Pliny the Younger (book 8, number 19)

C. Plinius Maximo Suo S.

Et gaudium mihi et solacium in litteris, nihilque tam laetum quod his laetius, tam triste quod non per has minus triste. Itaque et infirmitate uxoris et meorum periculo, quorundam vero etiam morte turbatus, ad unicum doloris levamentum studia confugi, quae praestant ut adversa magis intellegam sed patientius feram.

Est autem mihi moris, quod sum daturus in manus hominum, ante amicorum iudicio examinare, in primis tuo. Proinde si quando, nunc intende libro quem cum hac epistula accipies, quia vereor ne ipse ut tristis parum intenderim. Imperare enim dolori ut scriberem potui; ut vacuo animo laetoque, non potui. Porro ut ex studiis gaudium sic studia hilaritate proveniunt. Vale

To Maximus

Literature is both my joy and my comfort: it can add to every happiness and there is no sorrow it cannot console. So worried as I am by my wife’s ill-health and the sickness in my household and death of some of my servants, I have taken refuge in my work, the only distraction I have in my misery. It may make me more conscious of my troubles, but helps me to bear them with patience.

It is, however, my habit to test everything I propose to submit to the general public by the judgement of my friends, especially your own. Will you then give your attention to the book you will receive with this letter, now as never before? I fear my distress will have impaired my own concentration, for I could control my feelings enough to write, but not to write freely and happily, and if one’s work is to give pleasure it must have its inspiration in happiness.


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