The Need for a BailiffSeptember 21, 2015
How do you find a bailiff?
Do you search about, until you light on some one with a natural turn for stewardship; and then try to purchase him?—as, I feel certain, happens when you want a carpenter= first, you discover some one with a turn for carpentry, and then do all you can to get possession of him. (4) Or do you educate your bailiffs yourself? (4) The steward, like the carpenter, and the labourers in general, would, as a rule, be a slave. See below, xxi. 9.
Isch. None, Socrates; and I may tell you that a kindly disposition towards me and mine is precisely what I first endeavour to instil.
Isch. By kindly treatment of him, to be sure, whenever the gods bestow abundance of good things upon us.
Isch. Yes, for of all instruments to promote good feeling this I see to be the best.
Isch. Yes, but believe me, Socrates, when I seek to appoint such men as bailiffs, I teach them also carefulness and application.
Isch. Nor is it possible, you are right so far, to teach such excellences to every single soul in order as simply as a man might number off his fingers.
Ishc. Well, in the first place, you would have some difficulty in making intemperate people diligent—I speak of intemperance with regard to wine, for drunkenness creates forgetfulness of everything which needs to be done.
Isch. Certainly, people who are intemperate with regard to sleep, seeing that the sluggard with his eyes shut cannot do himself or see that others do what is right.
Isch. Surely we must include the slave to amorous affection. (11) Your woeful lover (12) is incapable of being taught attention to anything beyond one single object. (13) No light task, I take it, to discover any hope or occupation sweeter to him than that which now employs him, his care for his beloved, nor, when the call for action comes, (14) will it be easy to invent worse punishment than that he now endures in separation from the object of his passion. (15) Accordingly, I am in no great hurry to appoint a person of this sort to manage (16) my affairs; the very attempt to do so I regard as futile.
Or, “where demands of business present themselves, and something must be done.” (15) Cf. Shakesp. “Sonnets,” passim. (16) Or, “I never dream of appointing as superintendent.”
Isch. On the contrary, there are no people easier to train, none so susceptible of carefulness in these same matters. One needs only to point out to them that the pursuit is gainful, and their interest is aroused.
Isch. By a simple method= When I see a man intent on carefulness, I praise and do my best to honour him. When, on the other hand, I see a man neglectful of his duties, I do not spare him= I try in every way, by word and deed, to wound him.
Soc. Can a man devoid of carefulness himself to render others more careful? No more possible (he answered) than for a man who knows no music to make others musical.
If the teacher sets but an ill example, the pupil can hardly learn to do the thing aright. (19) And if the master’s conduct is suggestive of laxity, how hardly shall his followers attain to carefulness! Or to put the matter concisely, “like master like man.”
I do not think I ever knew or heard tell of a bad master blessed with good servants. The converse I certainly have seen ere now, a good master and bad servants; but they were the sufferers, not he.
No, he who would create a spirit of carefulness in others must have the skill himself to supervise the field of labour; to test, examine, scrutinise. He must be ready to requite where due the favour of a service well performed, nor hesitate to visit the penalty of their deserts upon those neglectful of their duty.
Indeed (he added), the answer of the barbarian to the king seems aposite. You know the story, how the king had met with a good horse, but wished to give the creature flesh and that without delay, and so asked some one reputed to be clever about horses= “What will give him flesh most quickly?” To which the other= “The master’s eye.” So, too, it strikes me, Socrates, there is nothing like “the master’s eye” to call forth latent qualities, and turn the same to beautiful and good effect.