"Lord Of Himself"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In "The Character of a Happy Life" Sir Henry Wotton presents the idea that the truly happy man is the one who has manifold virtues instead of great possessions. He does not serve another person's will, but lives in accordance with his honest thoughts and follows simple truth. His reason is never overmastered by passion; he so lives that he is always spiritually prepared for death. He never envies those who rise in the world, especially if their rise is the result of chance or vice; praise of another does not sadden him. He pays no attention to common rumors; his conscience is free, and neither flatterers nor accusers can cause him pain. When he prays to God, he asks rather for grace than for possessions; he spends his innocent days in the company of friends or in reading good books. He is unambitious, neither hoping to rise in the world nor fearing that fortune will cast him down. By being his own man he has far more than does he who has only material possessions. The concluding stanza of the poem is:

This man is free from servile bands
Of hope to rise or fear to fall,
Lord of himself, though not of lands,
And having nothing, yet hath all.