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Chapter XII.—Professing Rhetoric at Rome, He Discovers the Fraud of His Scholars.

22. Then began I assiduously to practise that for which I came to Rome—the teaching of rhetoric; and first to bring together at my home some to whom, and through whom, I had begun to be known; when, behold, I learnt that other offences were committed in Rome which I had not to bear in Africa. For those subvertings by abandoned young men were not practised here, as I had been informed; yet, suddenly, said they, to evade paying their master’s fees, many of the youths conspire together, and remove themselves to another,—breakers of faith, who, for the love of money, set a small value on justice. These also my heart “hated,” though not with a “perfect hatred;”424424    Ps. cxxxix. 22. for, perhaps, I hated them more in that I was to suffer by them, than for the illicit acts they committed. Such of a truth are base persons, and they are unfaithful to Thee, loving these transitory mockeries of temporal things, and vile gain, which begrimes the hand that lays hold on it; and embracing the fleeting world, and scorning Thee, who abidest, and invitest to return, and pardonest the prostituted human soul when it returneth to Thee. And now I hate such crooked and perverse men, although I love them if they are to be corrected so as to prefer the learning they obtain to money, and to learning Thee, O God, the truth and fulness of certain good and most chaste peace. But then was the wish stronger in me for my own sake not to suffer them evil, than was the wish that they should become good for Thine.


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