"What mortal has ever looked at suffering, with its severe and sombre countenance, or squared up to it, without soon blessing it as a sweet gift from heaven? Just as the hardest metals soften and melt under the effect of fire, so it is that suffering transforms noble souls. It arouses in them a virtue that moves, restores, supernaturalizes, and soothes them.
Take, for instance, the poor man who has long suffered indigence and unhappiness. If he attains wealth, he will use it with wisdom and moderation. He has learned through hard experience how much it costs to be poor, to eat a seldom-found load of bread, and to live on earth wandering, sick, and ignored.
Look at the statesman, the mighty and respected prince. If, before being raised to the throne, he has endured the anguish and bitterness of exile, if he has drunk to the full the cup of ingratitude and opprobrious conduct, he will not let himself be dazzled as much as another man by the grandeur and glitter of his sovereignty. He will willingly cast a respectful and compassionate eye upon an obscure subject fallen into disgrace. He knows that nobility of thought and loftiness of soul can lie hidden under rags no less than under the dignity of kinship; he calls to mind that he, too, has long lived in banishment, a fugitive unknown and defamed.
Or look at the priest: when, by the melancholy of his eyes, the premature deterioration of his features, and the smile of resignation on his lips, people conclude that suffering has often visited his soul, he is held in greater respect and affection. Those who are forsaken will learn their grief-stricken souls more trustingly upon his, in the belief that remedy and consolation are bound to flow from his soul in a more paternal and merciful manner.
Lastly, is this man, tried by long and bloody misfortunes, an obscure, forsaken creature? Far from despising him, we see in his pain a glorious purification of his life. A secret feeling tells us that such a man is a privileged being, carefully prepared by the divine hand for a destiny more glorious than that of time. In him we admire a nobility more splendid than that of blood, the nobility of suffering unflinchingly borne."
By an ancient philosopher