LITERARY AND PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAYS
HARVARD CLASSICS V32
THAT WE SHOULD NOT JUDGE OF OUR HAPPINESS UNTIL AFTER OUR DEATH THAT TO PHILOSOPHISE IS TO LEARNE How TO DIE OF THE INSTITUTION AND EDUCATION OF CHILDREN OF FRIENDSHIP OF BOOKES BY MONTAIGNE
WHAT IS A CLASSIC? BY CHASLES-AUGUSTIN SAINTE-BEUVE
THE POETRY OF THE CELTIC RACES BY ERNEST RENAN
THE EDUCATION OF THE HUMAN RACE BY GOTTHOLD EPHRAIM LESSING
LETTERS UPON THE AESTHETIC EDUCATION OF MAN BY J. C. FRIEDRICH VON SCHILLER
FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF THE METAPHYSIC OF MORALS
TRANSITION FROM POPULAR MORAL PHILOSOPHY TO THE METAPHYSIC OF MORALS
BYRON AND GOETHE BY GIUSEPPE MAZZINI
Michel Eyquem De Montaigne, the founder of the modern Essay, was born February 28, 1533, at the chateau of Montaigne in Pirigord. He came of a family of wealthy merchants of Bordeaux, and was educated at the College de Guyenne, where he had among his teachers the great Scottish Latinist, George Buchanan. Later he studied law, and held various public offices; but at the age of thirty-eight he retired to his estates, where he lived apart from the civil wars of the time, and devoted himself to study and thought. While he was traveling in Germany and Italy, in 1580-81, he was elected mayor of Bordeaux, and this office he filled for four years. He married in 1565, and had six daughters, only one of whom grew up. The first two books of his "Essays" appeared in 1580; the third in 1588; and four years later he died.
These are the main external facts of Montaigne's life: of the man himself the portrait is to be found in his book. "It is myself I portray," he declares; and there is nowhere in literature a volume of self-revelation surpassing his in charm and candor. He is frankly egotistical, yet modest and unpretentious; profoundly wise, yet constantly protesting his ignorance; learned, yet careless, forgetful, and inconsistent. His themes are as wide and varied as his observation of human life, and he has written the finest eulogy of friendship the world has known. Bacon, who knew his book and borrowed from it, wrote on the same subject; and the contrast of the essays is the true reflection of the contrast between the personalities of their authors.
Shortly after Montaigne's death the "Essays" were translated into English by John Florio, with less than exact accuracy, but in a style so full of the flavor of the age that we still read Montaigne in the version which Shakespeare knew. The group of examples here printed exhibits the author in a variety of moods, easy, serious, and, in the essay on "Friendship," as nearly impassioned as his philosophy ever allowed him to become.
Reader, be here a well-meaning Booke. It doth at the firth entrance forewarne thee, that in contriving the same I have proposed unto my selfe no other than a familiar and private end: I have no respect or consideration at all, either to thy service, or to my glory: my forces are not capable of any such desseigne. I have vowed the same to the particular commodity of my kinsfolks and friends: to the end, that losing me (which they are likely to doe ere long), they may therein find some lineaments of my conditions and humours, and by that meanes reserve more whole, and more lively foster the knowledge and acquaintance they have had of me. Had my intention beene to forestal and purchase the world's opinion and favour, I would surely have adorned myselfe more quaintly, or kept a more grave and solemne march. I desire therein to be delineated in mine owne genuine, simple and ordinarie fashion, without contention, art or study; for it is myself e I pourtray. My imperfections shall therein be read to the life, and my naturall forme discerned, so farre-forth as publike reverence hath permitted me. For if my fortune had beene to have lived among those nations which yet are said to live under the sweet liberty of Nature's first and uncorrupted lawes, I assure thee, I would most willingly have pourtrayed my selfe fully and naked. Thus, gentle Reader, myself I am the groundworke of my booke: it is then no reason thou shouldest employ thy time about so frivolous and vaine a subject.
From MONTAIGNE, The First of March, 1580.
THAT WE SHOULD NOT JUDGE OF OUR HAPPINESSE UNTILL AFTER OUR DEATH
scilicet ultima semper Expectanda dies homini est, dicique beatus Ante obitum nemo, supremaque funera debat. [Footnote: Ovid. Met. 1, iii. 135.]
We must expect of man the latest day, Nor ere he die, he's happie, can we say.
The very children are acquainted with the storie of Croesus to this purpose: who being taken by Cyrus, and by him condemned to die, upon the point of his execution, cried out aloud: "Oh Solon, Solon!" which words of his, being reported to Cyrus, who inquiring what he meant by them, told him, hee now at his owne cost verified the advertisement Solon had before times given him; which was, that no man, what cheerefull and blandishing countenance soever fortune shewed them, may rightly deeme himselfe happie, till such time as he have passed the last day of his life, by reason of the uncertaintie and vicissitude of humane things, which by a very light motive, and slight occasion, are often changed from one to another cleane contrary state and degree. And therefore Agesilaus answered one that counted the King of Persia happy, because being very young, he had gotten the garland of so mightie and great a dominion: "yea but said he, Priam at the same age was not unhappy." Of the Kings of Macedon that succeeded Alexander the Great, some were afterward seene to become Joyners and Scriveners at Rome: and of Tyrants of Sicilie, Schoolemasters at Corinth. One that had conquered halfe the world, and been Emperour over so many, Armies, became an humble and miserable suter to the raskally officers of a king of AEgypte: At so high a rate did that great Pompey purchase the irkesome prolonging of his life but for five or six moneths. And in our fathers daies, Lodowicke Sforze, tenth Duke of Millane, under whom the State of Italic had so long beene turmoiled and shaken, was seene to die a wretched prisoner at Loches in France, but not till he had lived and lingered ten yeares in thraldom, which was the worst of his bargaine. The fairest Queene, wife to the greatest King of Christendome, was she not lately scene to die by the hands of an executioner? Oh unworthie and barbarous cruelties And a thousand such examples. For, it seemeth that as the sea-billowes and surging waves, rage and storme against the surly pride and stubborne height of our buildings, so are there above, certaine spirits that envie the rising prosperities and greatnesse heere below.
Vsque adeb res humanas vis abdita quadam Obterit, et pulchros fasces sav&sque secures Proculcare, ac ludibrio sibi habere videtur. [Footnote: LUCRET. I. v. 1243.]
A hidden power so mens states hath out-worne Faire swords, fierce scepters, signes of honours borne, It seemes to trample and deride in scorne.
And it seemeth Fortune doth sometimes narrowly watch the last day of our life, thereby to shew her power, and in one moment to overthrow what for many yeares together she had been erecting, and makes us cry after Laberius, Nimirum hoc die una plus vixi, mihi quam vivendum fuit. [Footnote: MACHOB, 1, ii. 7.] Thus it is, "I have lived longer by this one day than I should." So may that good advice of Solon be taken with reason. But forsomuch as he is a Philosopher, with whom the favours or disfavours of fortune, and good or ill lucke have no place, and are not regarded by him; and puissances and greatnesses, and accidents of qualitie, are well-nigh indifferent: I deeme it very likely he had a further reach, and meant that the same good fortune of our life, which dependeth of the tranquillitie and contentment of a welborne minde, and of the resolution and assurance of a well ordered soule, should never be ascribed unto man, untill he have beene scene play the last act of his comedie, and without doubt the hardest. In all the rest there may be some maske: either these sophisticall discourses of Philosophie are not in us but by countenance, or accidents that never touch us to the quick, give us alwaies leasure to keep our countenance setled. But when that last part of death, and of our selves comes to be acted, then no dissembling will availe, then is it high time to speake plaine English, and put off all vizards: then whatsoever the pot containeth must be shewne, be it good or bad, foule or cleane, wine or water.
Nam vera voces tum demum pectore ab imo Ejiciuntur, et eripitur persona, manet res. [Footnote: LUCEET. 1. iii. 57.]
For then are sent true speeches from the heart, We are ourselves, we leave to play a part.
Loe heere, why at this last cast, all our lives other actions must be tride and touched. It is the master-day, the day that judgeth all others: it is the day, saith an auncient Writer, that must judge of all my forepassed yeares. To death doe I referre the essay [Footnote: Assay, exact weighing.] of my studies fruit. There shall wee see whether my discourse proceed from my heart, or from my mouth. I have scene divers, by their death, either in good or evill, give reputation to all their forepassed life. Scipio, father-in-law to Pompey, in well dying, repaired the ill opinion which untill that houre men had ever held of him. Epaminondas being demanded which of the three he esteemed most, either Chabrias, or Iphicrates, or himselfe: "It is necessary," said he, "that we be scene to die, before your question may well be resolved." [Footnote: Answered.] Verily, we should steale much from him, if he should be weighed without the honour and greatnesse of his end. God hath willed it, as he pleased: but in my time three of the most execrable persons that ever I knew in all abomination of life, and the most infamous, have beene seen to die very orderly and quietly, and in every circumstance composed even unto perfection. There are some brave and fortunate deaths. I have seene her cut the twine of some man's life, with a progresse of wonderful advancement, and with so worthie an end, even in the flowre of his growth and spring of his youth, that in mine opinion, his ambitious and haughtie couragious signes, thought nothing so high as might interrupt them who without going to the place where he pretended, arived there more gloriously and worthily than either his desire or hope aimed at, and by his fall fore-went the power and name, whither by his course he aspired. When I judge of other men's lives, I ever respect how they have behaved themselves in their end; and my chiefest study is, I may well demeane my selfe at my last gaspe, that is to say, quietly and constantly.
THAT TO PHILOSOPHISE IS TO LEARNE HOW TO DIE
Cicero saith, that to Philosophise is no other thing than for a man to prepare himselfe to death: which is the reason that studie and contemplation doth in some sort withdraw our soule from us, and severally employ it from the body, which is a kind of apprentisage and resemblance of death; or else it is, that all the wisdome and discourse of the world, doth in the end resolve upon this point, to teach us not to feare to die. Truly either reason mockes us, or it only aimeth at our contentment, and in fine, bends all her travell to make us live well, and as the holy Scripture saith, "at our ease." All the opinions of the world conclude, that pleasure is our end, howbeit they take divers meanes unto and for it, else would men reject them at their first comming. For, who would give eare unto him, that for it's end would establish our paine and disturbance? The dissentions of philosophicall sects in this case are verbal: Transcurramus solertissimas Hugos [Footnote: Travails, labours.] "Let us run over such over-fine fooleries and subtill trifles." There is more wilfulnesse and wrangling among them, than pertains to a sacred profession. But what person a man undertakes to act, he doth ever therewithal! personate his owne. Allthough they say, that in vertue it selfe, the last scope of our aime is voluptuousnes. It pleaseth me to importune their eares still with this word, which so much offends their hearing. And if it imply any chief pleasure or exceeding contentments, it is rather due to the assistance of vertue, than to any other supply, voluptuousnes being more strong, sinnowie, sturdie, and manly, is but more seriously voluptuous. And we should give it the name of pleasure, more favorable, sweeter, and more naturall; and not terme it vigor, from which it hath his denomination. Should this baser sensuality deserve this faire name, it should be by competencie, and not by privilege. I finde it lesse void of incommodities and crosses than vertue. And besides that> her taste is more fleeting, momentarie, and fading, she hath her fasts, her eyes, and her travels, and both sweat and blood. Furthermore she hath particularly so many wounding passions, and of so severall sorts, and so filthie and loathsome a societie waiting upon her, that shee is equivalent to penitencie. Wee are in the wrong, to thinke her incommodities serve her as a provocation and seasoning to her sweetnes, as in nature one contrarie is vivified by another contrarie: and to say, when we come to vertue, that like successes and difficulties overwhelme it, and yeeld it austere and inaccessible. Whereas much more properly then unto voluptuousnes, they ennobled, sharpen, animate, and raise that divine and perfect pleasure, which it meditates and procureth us. Truly he is verie unworthie her acquaintance, that counter-ballanceth her cost to his fruit, and knowes neither the graces nor use of it. Those who go about to instruct us, how her pursuit is very hard and laborious, and her jovisance [Footnote: Enjoyment] well-pleasing and delightfull: what else tell they us, but that shee is ever unpleasant and irksome? For what humane meane [Footnote: Human meana. man's life is subject, it is not with an equall care: as well because accidents are not of such a necessitie, for most men passe their whole life without feeling any want or povertie, and othersome without feeling any griefe or sicknes, as Xenophilus the Musitian, who lived an hundred and six yeares in perfect and continuall health: as also if the worst happen, death may at all times, and whensoever it shall please us, cut off all other inconveniences and crosses. But as for death, it is inevitable.] did ever attaine unto an absolute enjoying of it? The perfectest have beene content but to aspire and approach her, without ever possessing her. But they are deceived; seeing that of all the pleasures we know, the pursute of them is pleasant. The enterprise is perceived by the qualitie of the thing, which it hath regard unto: for it is a good portion of the effect, and consubstantiall. That happines and felicitie, which shineth in vertue, replenisheth her approaches and appurtenances, even unto, the first entrance and utmost barre. Now of all the benefits of vertue, the contempt of death is the chiefest, a meane that furnisheth our life with an ease-full tranquillitie, and gives us a pure and amiable taste of it: without which every other voluptuousnes is extinguished. Loe, here the reasons why all rules encounter and agree with this article. And albeit they all leade us with a common accord to despise povertie, and other accidental! crosses, to which
Omnes eodem cogimur, omnium Versatur urna, serius, ocius Sors exitura, et nos in aeternum Exilium impositura cymbae, [Footnote: Hor. I. iii. Od. iii. 25.]
All to one place are driv'n, of all Shak't is the lot-pot, where-hence shall Sooner or later drawne lots fall, And to deaths boat for aye enthrall.
And by consequence, if she makes us affeard, it is a continual subject of torment, and which can no way be eased. There is no starting-hole will hide us from her, she will finde us wheresoever we are, we may as in a suspected countrie start and turne here and there: quae quasi saxum Tantalo semper impendet.[Footnote: Cic. De Fin. I. i.] "Which evermore hangs like the stone over the head of Tantalus:" Our lawes doe often condemne and send malefactors to be executed in the same place where the crime was committed: to which whilest they are going, leade them along the fairest houses, or entertaine them with the best cheere you can,
non Siculae dapes Dulcem elaborabunt saporem: Non avium, citharaeque cantus Somnum reducent. [Footnote: Hor. I. iii. Od. i, 12.]
Not all King Denys daintie fare, Can pleasing taste for them prepare: No song of birds, no musikes sound Can lullabie to sleepe profound.
Doe you thinke they can take any pleasure in it? or be any thing delighted? and that the finall intent of their voiage being still before their eies, hath not altered and altogether distracted their taste from all these commodities and allurements?
Audit iter, numeratque dies, spatioque viarum Metitur vitam, torquetur peste futura. [Footnote: Claud, in Ruff. 1. ii. 137]
He heares his journey, counts his daies, so measures he His life by his waies length, vext with the ill shall be.
The end of our cariere is death, it is the necessarie object of our aime: if it affright us, how is it possible we should step one foot further without an ague? The remedie of the vulgar sort is, not to think on it. But from what brutall stupiditie may so grosse a blindnesse come upon him? he must be made to bridle his Asse by the taile,
Qiti capite ipse suo instituit vestigia retro. [Footnote: Lucret. 1. iv. 474]
Who doth a course contrarie runne With his head to his course begunne.
It is no marvell if he be so often taken tripping; some doe no sooner heare the name of death spoken of, but they are afraid, yea the most part will crosse themselves, as if they heard the Devill named. And because mention is made of it in mens wils and testaments, I warrant you there is none will set his hand to them, til the physitian hath given his last doome, and utterly forsaken him. And God knowes, being then betweene such paine and feare, with what sound judgment they endure him. For so much as this syllable sounded so unpleasantly in their eares, and this voice seemed so ill boding and unluckie, the Romans had learned to allay and dilate the same by a Periphrasis. In liew of saying, he is dead, or he hath ended his daies, they would say, he hath lived. So it be life, be it past or no, they are comforted: from whom we have borrowed our phrases quondam, alias, or late such a one. It may haply be, as the common saying is, the time we live is worth the mony we pay for it. I was borne betweene eleven of the clocke and noone, the last of Februarie 1533, according to our computation, the yeare beginning the first of Januarie. It is but a fortnight since I was 39 yeares old. I want at least as much more. If in the meane time I should trouble my thoughts with a matter so farre from me, it were but folly. But what? we see both young and old to leave their life after one selfe-same condition. No man departs otherwise from it, than if he but now came to it, seeing there is no man so crazed,[Footnote: Infirm] bedrell, [Footnote: Bedridden.] or decrepit, so long as he remembers Methusalem, but thinkes he may yet live twentie yeares. Moreover, seely [Footnote: Simple, weak.] creature as thou art, who hath limited the end of thy daies? Happily thou presumest upon physitians reports. Rather consider the effect and experience. By the common course of things long since thou livest by extraordinarie favour. Thou hast alreadie over-past the ordinarie tearmes of common life: And to prove it, remember but thy acquaintances, and tell me how many more of them have died before they came to thy age, than have either attained or outgone the same: yea, and of those that through renoune have ennobled their life, if thou but register them, I will lay a wager, I will finde more that have died before they came to five and thirty years, than after. It is consonant with reason and pietie, to take example by the humanity of Jesus Christ, who ended his humane life at three and thirtie yeares. The greatest man that ever was, being no more than a man, I meane Alexander the Great, ended his dayes, and died also of that age. How many severall meanes and waies hath death to surprise us!
Quid quisque vitet, nunquam homini satis Cautum est in horas [Footnote: Hor. 1. ii. Od. xiii. 13.]
A man can never take good heed, Hourely what he may shun and speed.
I omit to speak of agues and pleurisies; who would ever have imagined that a Duke of Brittanie should have beene stifled to death in a throng of people, as whilome was a neighbour of mine at Lyons, when Pope Clement made his entrance there? Hast thou not seene one of our late Kings slaine in the middest of his sports? and one of his ancestors die miserably by the chocke [Footnote: Shock.] of an hog? Eschilus fore threatned by the fall of an house, when he stood most upon his guard, strucken dead by the fall of a tortoise shell, which fell out of the tallants of an eagle flying in the air? and another choaked with the kernell of a grape? And an Emperour die by the scratch of a combe, whilest he was combing his head? And Aemylius Lepidus with hitting his foot against a doore-seele? And Aufidius with stumbling against the Consull-chamber doore as he was going in thereat? And Cornelius Gallus, the Praetor, Tigillinus, Captaine of the Romane watch, Lodowike, sonne of Guido Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, end their daies betweene womens thighs? And of a farre worse example Speusippus, the Platonian philosopher, and one of our Popes? Poore Bebius a Judge, whilest he demurreth the sute of a plaintife but for eight daies, be hold, his last expired: And Caius Iulius a Physitian, whilest he was annointing the eies of one of his patients, to have his owne sight closed for ever by death. And if amongst these examples, I may adde one of a brother of mine, called Captain Saint Martin, a man of three and twentie yeares of age, who had alreadie given good testimonie of his worth and forward valour, playing at tennis, received a blow with a ball, that hit him a little above the right eare, without apparance of any contusion, bruse, or hurt, and never sitting or resting upon it, died within six houres after of an apoplexie, which the blow of the ball caused in him. These so frequent and ordinary examples, hapning, and being still before our eies, how is it possible for man to forgo or for get the remembrance of death? and why should it not continually seeme unto us, that shee is still ready at hand to take us by the throat? What matter is it, will you say unto me, how and in what manner it is, so long as a man doe not trouble and vex himselfe therewith? I am of this opinion, that howsoever a man may shrowd or hide himselfe from her dart, yea, were it under an oxe-hide, I am not the man would shrinke backe: it sufficeth me to live at my ease; and the best recreation I can have, that doe I ever take; in other matters, as little vain glorious, and exemplare as you list.
—praetulerim delirus inersque videri, Dum mea delectent mala me, vel denique fallant, Quam sapere et ringi [Footnote: Hor. 1. ii. Episi. ii 126]
A dotard I had rather seeme, and dull, Sooner my faults may please make me a gull, Than to be wise, and beat my vexed scull.
But it is folly to thinke that way to come unto it. They come, they goe, they trot, they daunce: but no speech of death. All that is good sport. But if she be once come, and on a sudden and openly surprise, either them, their wives, their children, or their friends, what torments, what out cries, what rage, and what despaire doth then overwhelme them? saw you ever anything so drooping, so changed, and so distracted? A man must looke to it, and in better times fore-see it. And might that brutish carelessenesse lodge in the minde of a man of understanding (which I find altogether impossible) she sels us her ware at an overdeere rate: were she an enemie by mans wit to be avoided, I would advise men to borrow the weapons of cowardlinesse: but since it may not be, and that be you either a coward or a runaway, an honest or valiant man, she overtakes you,
Nempe et fugacem persequitur virum, Nec parcit imbellis juventae Poplitibus, timidoque tergo. [Footnote: Hor. 1. iii. Od. ii. 14.]
Shee persecutes the man that flies, Shee spares not weake youth to surprise, But on their hammes and backe turn'd plies.
And that no temper of cuirace [Footnote: Cuirass.] may shield or defend you,
Ille licet ferro cauius se condat et aere, Mors tamen inclusum protraket inde caput. [Footnote: Propert. 1. iii. et xvii. 5]
Though he with yron and brasse his head empale, Yet death his head enclosed thence will hale.
Let us learne to stand, and combat her with a resolute minde. And being to take the greatest advantage she hath upon us from her, let us take a cleane contrary way from the common, let us remove her strangenesse from her, let us converse, frequent, and acquaint our selves with her, let us have nothing so much in minde as death, let us at all times and seasons, and in the ugliest manner that may be, yea with all faces shapen and represent the same unto our imagination. At the stumbling of a horse, at the fall of a stone, at the least prick with a pinne, let us presently ruminate and say with our selves, what if it were death it selfe? and thereupon let us take heart of grace, and call our wits together to confront her. Amiddest our bankets, feasts, and pleasures, let us ever have this restraint or object before us, that is, the remembrance of our condition, and let not pleasure so much mislead or transport us, that we altogether neglect or forget, how many waies, our joyes, or our feastings, be subject unto death, and by how many hold-fasts shee threatens us and them. So did the AEgyptians, who in the middest of their banquetings, and in the full of their greatest cheere, caused the anatomie [Footnote: Skeleton] of a dead man to be brought before them, as a memorandum and warning to their guests.
Omnem crede diem tibi diluxisse supremum, Grata superveniet; quae non sperabitur, hora? [Footnote: Hor. 1. i. Epist. iv. 13.]
Thinke every day shines on thee as thy last, Welcome it will come, whereof hope was past.
It is uncertaine where death looks for us; let us expect her everie where: the premeditation of death, is a forethinking of libertie. He who hath learned to die, hath unlearned to serve. There is no evill in life, for him that hath well conceived, how the privation of life is no evill. To know how to die, doth free us from all subjection and constraint. Paulus AEmilius answered one, whom that miserable king of Macedon his prisoner sent to entreat him he would not lead him in triumph, "Let him make that request unto himselfe." Verily, if Nature afford not some helpe in all things, it is very hard that art and industrie should goe farre before. Of my selfe, I am not much given to melancholy, but rather to dreaming and sluggishness. There is nothing wherewith I have ever more entertained my selfe, than with the imaginations of death, yea in the most licentious times of my age.
Iucundum, cum atas florida ver ageret [Footnote: Catul. Eleg. iv. 16.]
When my age flourishing Did spend its pleasant spring.
Being amongst faire Ladies, and in earnest play, some have thought me busied, or musing with my selfe, how to digest some jealousie, or meditating on the uncertaintie of some conceived hope, when God he knowes, I was entertaining my selfe with the remembrance of some one or other, that but few daies before was taken with a burning fever, and of his sodaine end, comming from such a feast or meeting where I was my selfe, and with his head full of idle conceits, of lore, and merry glee; supposing the same, either sickness or end, to be as neere me as him.
Iam fuerit, nec post, unquam revocare licebit. [Footnote: Lucr. I. iii. 947.]
Now time would be, no more You can this time restore.
I did no more trouble my selfe or frowne at such conceit, [Idea.] than at any other. It is impossible we should not apprehend or feele some motions or startings at such imaginations at the first, and comming sodainely upon us; but doubtlesse, he that shall manage and meditate upon them with an impartiall eye, they will assuredly, in tract [Course.] of time, become familiar to him: Otherwise, for my part, I should be in continuall feare and agonie; for no man did ever more distrust his life, nor make lesse account of his continuance: Neither can health, which hitherto I have so long enjoied, and which so seldome hath beene crazed, [Enfeebled.] lengthen my hopes, nor any sicknesse shorten them of it. At every minute me thinkes I make an escape. And I uncessantly record unto my selfe, that whatsoever may be done another day, may be effected this day. Truly hazards and dangers doe little or nothing approach us at our end: And if we consider, how many more there remaine, besides this accident, which in number more than millions seeme to threaten us, and hang over us; we shall find, that be we sound or sicke, lustie or weake, at sea or at land, abroad or at home, fighting or at rest, in the middest of a battell or, in our beds, she is ever alike neere unto us. Nemo altero fragilior est, nemo in crastinum sui certior: "No man is weaker then other; none surer of himselfe (to live) till to morrow." Whatsoever I have to doe before death, all leasure to end the same seemeth short unto me, yea were it but of one houre. Some body, not long since turning over my writing tables, found by chance a memoriall of something I would have done after my death: I told him (as indeed it was true), that being but a mile from my house, and in perfect health and lustie, I had made haste to write it, because I could not assure my self I should ever come home in safety: As one that am ever hatching of mine owne thoughts, and place them in my selfe: I am ever prepared about that which I may be: nor can death (come when she please) put me in mind of any new thing. A man should ever, as much as in him lieth, be ready booted to take his journey, and above all things, looke he have then nothing to doe but with himselfe.
Quid brevi fortes jaculamur aevo Multa: [Footnote: Hor. 1. ii. Od. Xiv]
To aime why are we ever bold, At many things in so short hold?
For then we shall have worke sufficient, without any more accrease. Some man complaineth more that death doth hinder him from the assured course of an hoped for victorie, than of death it selfe; another cries out, he should give place to her, before he have married his daughter, or directed the course of his childrens bringing up; another bewaileth he must forgoe his wives company; another moaneth the losse of his children, the chiefest commodities of his being. I am now by meanes of the mercy of God in such a taking, that without regret or grieving at any worldly matter, I am prepared to dislodge, whensoever he shall please to call me: I am every where free: my farewell is soone taken of all my friends, except of my selfe. No man did ever pre pare himselfe to quit the world more simply and fully, or more generally spake of all thoughts of it, than I am assured I shall doe. The deadest deaths are the best.
—Miser, de miser (aiunt) omnia ademit. Vna dies infesta mihi tot praemia vitae: [Footnote: Luce. 1. iii. 941.]
O wretch, O wretch (friends cry), one day, All joyes of life hath tane away:
And the builder,
—manent (saith he) opera interrupta, minaeque Murorum ingentes. [Footnote: Virg. Aen. 1. iv. 88.]
The workes unfinisht lie, And walls that threatned hie.
A man should designe nothing so long afore-hand, or at least with such an intent, as to passionate[Footnote: Long passionately.] himselfe to see the end of it; we are all borne to be doing.
Cum moriar, medium solvar et inter opus [Footnote: Ovid. Am. 1. ii. El. x. 36]
When dying I my selfe shall spend, Ere halfe my businesse come to end.
I would have a man to be doing, and to prolong his lives offices as much as lieth in him, and let death seize upon me whilest I am setting my cabiges, carelesse of her dart, but more of my unperfect garden. I saw one die, who being at his last gaspe, uncessantly complained against his destinie, and that death should so unkindly cut him off in the middest of an historie which he had in hand, and was now come to the fifteenth or sixteenth of our Kings.
Illud in his rebus non addunt, nec tibi earum, Iam desiderium rerum super insidet uno. [Footnote: Luce. 1. iii. 44.]
Friends adde not that in this case, now no more Shalt thou desire, or want things wisht before.
A man should rid himselfe of these vulgar and hurtful humours. Even as Churchyards were first place adjoyning unto churches, and in the most frequented places of the City, to enure (as Lycurgus said) the common people, women and children, not to be skared at the sight of a dead man, and to the end that continuall spectacle of bones, sculs, tombes, graves and burials, should forewarne us of our condition, and fatall end.
Quin etiam exhilarare viris convivia caede Mos olim, et miscere epulis spectacula dira Certantum ferro, saepe et super ipsa cadentum Pocula, respersis non parco sanguine mensis. [Footnote: Syl. 1. xi. 51]
Nay more, the manner was to welcome guests, And with dire shewes of slaughter to mix feasts. Of them that fought at sharpe, and with bords tainted Of them with much bloud, who o'er full cups fainted.
And even as the AEgyptians after their feastings and carousings caused a great image of death to be brought in and shewed to the guests and bytanders, by one that cried aloud, "Drinke and be merry, for such shalt thou be when thou art dead: "So have I learned this custome or lesson, to have alwaies death, not only in my imagination, but continually in my mouth. And there is nothing I desire more to be informed of than of the death of men; that is to say, what words, what countenance, and what face they shew at their death; and in reading of histories, which I so attentively observe. It appeareth by the shuffling and hudling up[Footnote: Collecting] of my examples, I affect[Footnote: Like] no subject so particularly as this. Were I a composer of books, I would keepe a register, commented of the divers deaths, which in teaching men to die, should after teach them to live. Dicearcus made one of that title, but of another and lesse profitable end. Some man will say to mee, the effect exceeds the thought so farre, that there is no fence so sure, or cunning so certaine, but a man shall either lose or forget if he come once to that point; let them say what they list: to premeditate on it, giveth no doubt a great advantage: and it is nothing, at the least, to goe so farre without dismay or alteration, or without an ague? There belongs more to it: Nature her selfe lends her hand, and gives us courage. If it be a short and violent death, wee have no leisure to feare it; if otherwise, I perceive that according as I engage my selfe in sicknesse, I doe naturally fall into some disdaine and contempt of life. I finde that I have more adoe to digest this resolution, that I shall die when I am in health, than I have when I am troubled with a fever: forsomuch as I have no more such fast hold on the commodities of life, whereof I begin to lose the use and pleasure, and view death in the face with a lesse undanted looke, which makes me hope, that the further I goe from that, and the nearer I approach to this, so much more easily doe I enter in composition for their exchange. Even as I have tried in many other occurrences, which Caesar affirmed, that often some things seeme greater, being farre from us, than if they bee neere at hand: I have found that being in perfect health, I have much more beene frighted with sicknesse, than when I have felt it. The jollitie wherein I live, the pleasure and the strength make the other seeme so disproportionable from that, that by imagination I amplifie these commodities by one moitie, and apprehended them much more heavie and burthensome, than I feele them when I have them upon my shoulders. The same I hope will happen to me of death. Consider we by the ordinary mutations, and daily declinations which we suffer, how Nature deprives us of the sight of our losse and empairing; what hath an aged man left him of his youths vigor, and of his forepast life?
Heu senibus vita portio quanta manet [Footnote: Com. Gal. 1. i. 16.]
Alas to men in yeares how small A part of life is left in all?
Caesar, to a tired and crazed [Footnote: diseased] Souldier of his guard, who in the open street came to him, to beg leave he might cause himselfe to be put to death; viewing his decrepit behaviour, answered pleasantly: "Doest thou thinke to be alive then?" Were man all at once to fall into it, I doe not thinke we should be able to beare such a change, but being faire and gently led on by her hand, in a slow, and as it were unperceived descent, by little and little, and step by step, she roules us into that miserable state, and day by day seekes to acquaint us with it. So that when youth failes in us, we feele, nay we perceive no shaking or transchange at all in our selves: which in essence and veritie is a harder death, than that of a languishing and irkesome life, or that of age. Forsomuch as the leape from an ill being unto a not being, is not so dangerous or steepie; as it is from a delightfull and flourishing being unto a painfull and sorrowfull condition. A weake bending, and faint stopping bodie hath lesse strength to beare and under goe a heavie burden: So hath our soule. She must bee rouzed and raised against the violence and force of this adversarie. For as it is impossible she should take any rest whilest she feareth: whereof if she be assured (which is a thing exceeding humane [Footnote: human] condition) she may boast that it is impossible unquietnesse, torment, and feare, much lesse the least displeasure should lodge in her.
Non vultus instantis tyranni Mente quatit solida, neque Auster, Dux inquieti turbidus Adria, Nec fulminantis magna Jovis manus. [Footnote: Hor. I. iii. Od. iii.]
No urging tyrants threatning face, Where minde is found can it displace, No troublous wind the rough seas Master, Nor Joves great hand, the thunder-caster.
She is made Mistris of her passions and concupiscence, Lady of indulgence, of shame, of povertie, and of all for tunes injuries. Let him that can, attaine to this advantage: Herein consists the true and soveraigne liberty, that affords us meanes wherewith to jeast and make a scorne of force and injustice, and to deride imprisonment, gives [Footnote: Gyves, shackles] or fetters.
—in manicis, et Compedibus, savo te sub custode tenebo. Ipse Deus simui atque volam, me solvet: opinor Hoc sentit, moriar. Mors ultima linea rerum est. [Footnote: Hor. I. i. Ep. xvi. 76.]
In gyves and fetters I will hamper thee, Under a Jayler that shall cruell be: Yet, when I will, God me deliver shall, He thinkes, I shall die: death is end of all.
Our religion hath had no surer humane foundation than the contempt of life. Discourse of reason doth not only call and summon us unto it. For why should we feare to lose a thing, which being lost, cannot be moaned? but also, since we are threatened by so many kinds of death, there is no more inconvenience to feare them all, than to endure one: what matter is it when it commeth, since it is unavoidable? Socrates answered one that told him, "The thirty tyrants have condemned thee to death." "And Nature them," said he. What fondnesse is it to carke and care so much, at that instant and passage from all exemption of paine and care? As our birth brought us the birth of all things, so shall our death the end of all things. Therefore is it as great follie to weepe, we shall not live a hundred yeeres hence, as to waile we lived not a hundred yeeres agoe. "Death is the beginning of another life." So wept we, and so much did it cost us to enter into this life; and so did we spoile us of our ancient vaile in entring into it. Nothing can be grievous that is but once. Is it reason so long to fear a thing of so short time? Long life or short life is made all one by death. For long or short is not in things that are no more. Aristotle saith, there are certaine little beasts alongst the river Hyspanis, that live but one day; she which dies at 8 o'clocke in the morning, dies in her youth, and she that dies at 5 in the afternoon, dies in her decrepitude, who of us doth not laugh, when we shall see this short moment of continuance to be had in consideration of good or ill fortune? The most and the least is ours, if we compare it with eternitie, or equall it to the lasting of mountains, rivers, stars, and trees, or any other living creature, is not lesse ridiculous. But nature compels us to it. Depart (saith she) out of this world, even as you came into it. The same way you came from death to life, returne without passion or amazement, from life to death: your death is but a peece of the worlds order, and but a parcell of the worlds life.
—inter se mortales mutua vivunt, Et quasi cursores vitae lampada tradunt. [Footnote: Lucret. ii. 74. 77.]
Mortall men live by mutuall entercourse: And yeeld their life-torch, as men in a course.
Shal I not change this goodly contexture of things for you? It is the condition of your creation: death is a part of yourselves: you flie from yourselves. The being you enjoy is equally shared betweene life and death. The first day of your birth doth as wel addresse you to die, as to live.
Prima quae vitam dedit, hora, carpsit. [Footnote: Sen. Her. Sw. ckor. Iii.]
The first houre, that to men Gave life, strait, cropt it then.
Nascentes morimur, finisque ab origine pendet: [Footnote: Manil. At. l. iv]
As we are borne we die; the end Doth of th' originall depend.
All the time you live, you steale it from death: it is at her charge. The continuall worke of your life, is to contrive death: you are in death, during the time you continue in life: for, you are after death, when you are no longer living. Or if you had rather have it so, you are dead after life: but during life, you are still dying: and death doth more rudely touch the dying than the dead, and more lively and essentially. If you have profited by life, you have also beene fed thereby, depart then satisfied.
Cur non ut plenus vitae conviva recedis? [Footnote: Lucret. 1. iii. 982.]
Why like a full-fed guest, Depart you not to rest?
If you have not knowne how to make use of it: if it were unprofitable to you, what need you care to have lost it to what end would you enjoy it longer?
—cur amplius addere quaeris Rursum quod pereat male, et ingratum occidat omne? [Footnote: Lucret. 1. iii. 989.]
Why seeke you more to gaine, what must againe All perish ill, and passe with griefe or paine?
Life in itselfe is neither good nor evill: it is the place of good or evill, according as you prepare it for them. And if you have lived one day, you have seene all: one day is equal to all other daies. There is no other light, there is no other night. This Sunne, this Moone, these Starres, and this disposition, is the very same which your forefathers enjoyed, and which shall also entertaine your posteritie.
Non alium videre patres, aliumve nepotes Aspicient. [Footnote: Manil. i. 523.]
No other saw our Sires of old, No other shall their sonnes behold.
And if the worst happen, the distribution and varietie of all the acts of my comedie, is performed in one yeare. If you have observed the course of my foure seasons; they containe the infancie, the youth, the viriltie, and the old age of the world. He hath plaied his part: he knowes no other wilinesse belonging to it, but to begin againe, it will ever be the same, and no other.
Versamur ibidem, atque insumus usque, [Footnote: Lucret. 1. iii. 123.]
We still in one place turne about, Still there we are, now in, now out.
Atque in se sua per vestigia volvitur annus. [Footnote: Virg. Georg. 1. ii. 403.]
The yeare into it selfe is cast By those same steps, that it hath past.
I am not purposed to devise you other new sports.
Nam tibi praterea quod machiner, inveniamque Quod placeat nihil est; eadem suni omnia semper. [Footnote: Lucret. 1. ii. 978.]
Else nothing, that I can devise or frame, Can please thee, for all things are still the same.
Make roome for others, as others have done for you. Equalitie is the chiefe ground-worke of equitie, who can complaine to be comprehended where all are contained? So may you live long enough, you shall never diminish anything from the time you have to die: it is bootlesse; so long shall you continue in that state which you feare, as if you had died, being in your swathing-clothes, and when you were sucking.
—licet, quot vis, vivendo vincere secla. Mors sterna tamen, nihilominus ilia manebit. [Footnote: Ib. 1126.]
Though yeares you live, as many as you will, Death is eternall, death remaineth still.
And I will so please you, that you shall have no discontent.
In vera nescis nullum fore morte alium te, Qui possit vivus tibi te lugere peremptum, Stansque jacentem. [Footnote: Idt. 1. Iii. 9.]
Thou know'st not there shall be not other thou, When thou art dead indeed, that can tell how Alive to waile thee dying, Standing to waile thee lying.
Nor shall you wish for life, which you so much desire
Nec sibi enim quisquam tum se vitamque requirit, [Footnote: ib. 963.] Nec desiderium nostri nos afficit ullum. [Footnote: Ib. 966.]
For then none for himselfe or life requires: Nor are we of our selves affected with desires.
Death is lesse to be feared than nothing, if there were anything lesse than nothing.
—multo mortem minus ad nos esse putandum, Si minus esse potest quam quod nihil esse videmus. [Footnote: Ib. 970.]
Death is much less to us, we ought esteeme, If lesse may be, than what doth nothing seeme.
Nor alive, nor dead, it doth concern you nothing. Alive because you are: Dead, because you are no more. Moreover, no man dies before his houre. The time you leave behinde was no more yours than that which was before your birth, and concerneth you no more.
Respice enim quam nil ad nos anteacta vetustas Temporis aeterni fuerit. [Footnote: Ib. 1016.]
For marke, how all antiquitie foregone Of all time ere we were, to us was none.
Wheresoever your life ended, there is it all. The profit of life consists not in the space, but rather in the use. Some man hath lived long, that hath a short life, Follow it whilst you have time. It consists not in number of yeeres, but in your will, that you have lived long enough. Did you thinke you should never come to the place, where you were still going? There is no way but hath an end. And if company may solace you, doth not the whole world walke the same path?
—Omnia te, vita perfuncta, sequentur. [Footnote: Ib. 1012.]
Life past, all things at last Shall follow thee as thou hast past.
Doe not all things move as you doe, or keepe your course? Is there any thing grows not old together with yourselfe? A thousand men, a thousand beasts, and a thousand other creatures die in the very instant that you die.
Nam nox nulla diem, neque noctem aurora sequuta est, Que non audierit mistus vagitibus aegris Ploratus, mortis comites et funeris atri. [Footnote: Id. i. ii. 587.]
No night ensued day light; no morning followed night, Which heard not moaning mixt with sick-mens groaning, With deaths and funerals joyned was that moaning.
To what end recoile you from it, if you cannot goe backe. You have seene many who have found good in death, ending thereby many many miseries. But have you seene any that hath received hurt thereby? Therefore it is meere simplicitie to condemne a thing you never approve, neither by yourselfe nor any other. Why doest thou complaine of me and of destinie? Doe we offer thee any wrong? is it for thee to direct us, or for us to governe thee? Although thy age be not come to her period, thy life is. A little man is a whole man as well as a great man. Neither men nor their lives are measured by the Ell. Chiron refused immortalitie, being informed of the conditions thereof, even by the God of time and of continuance, Saturne his father. Imagine truly how much an ever-during life would be lesse tolerable and more painfull to a man, than is the life which I have given him. Had you not death you would then uncessantly curse, and cry out against me, that I had deprived you of it. I have of purpose and unwittingly blended some bitternesse amongst it, that so seeing the commoditie of its use, I might hinder you from over- greedily embracing, or indiscreetly calling for it. To continue in this moderation that is, neither to fly from life nor to run to death (which I require of you) I have tempered both the one and other betweene sweetnes and sowrenes. I first taught Thales, the chiefest of your Sages and Wisemen, that to live and die were indifferent, which made him answer one very wisely, who asked him wherefore he died not: "Because," said he, "it is indifferent. The water, the earth, the aire, the fire, and other members of this my universe, are no more the instruments of thy life than of thy death. Why fearest thou thy last day? He is no more guiltie, and conferreth no more to thy death, than any of the others. It is not the last step that causeth weariness: it only declares it. All daies march towards death, only the last comes to it." Behold heere the good precepts of our universall mother Nature. I have oftentimes bethought my self whence it proceedeth, that in times of warre, the visage of death (whether wee see it in us or in others) seemeth without all comparison much lesse dreadful and terrible unto us, than in our houses, or in our beds, otherwise it should be an armie of Physitians and whiners, and she ever being one, there must needs bee much more assurance amongst countrie-people and of base condition, than in others. I verily believe, these fearefull lookes, and astonishing countenances wherewith we encompass it, are those that more amaze and terrifie us than death: a new forme of life; the out cries of mothers; the wailing of women and children; the visitation of dismaid and swouning friends; the assistance of a number of pale-looking, distracted, and whining servants; a darke chamber; tapers burning round about; our couch beset round with Physitians and Preachers; and to conclude, nothing but horror and astonishment on every side of us: are wee not already dead and buried? The very children are afraid of their friends, when they see them masked; and so are we. The maske must as well be taken from things as from men, which being removed, we shall find nothing hid under it, but the very same death, that a seely[Footnote: weak, simple] varlet, or a simple maid-servant, did latterly suffer without amazement or feare. Happie is that death which takes all leasure from the preparations of such an equipage.
OF THE INSTITUTION AND EDUCATION OF CHILDREN; TO THE LADIE DIANA OF FOIX, COUNTESSE OF GURSON
I never knew father, how crooked and deformed soever his sonne were, that would either altogether cast him off, or not acknowledge him for his owne: and yet (unlesse he be meerely besotted or blinded in his affection) it may not be said, but he plainly perceiveth his defects, and hath a feeling of his imperfections. But so it is, he is his owne. So it is in my selfe. I see better than any man else, that what I have set downe is nought but the fond imaginations of him who in his youth hath tasted nothing but the paring, and seen but the superficies of true learning: whereof he hath retained but a generall and shapelesse forme: a smacke of every thing in generall, but nothing to the purpose in particular: After the French manner. To be short, I know there is an art of Phisicke; a course of lawes; foure parts of the Mathematikes; and I am not altogether ignorant what they tend unto. And perhaps I also know the scope and drift of Sciences in generall to be for the service of our life. But to wade further, or that ever I tired my selfe with plodding upon Aristotle (the Monarch of our moderne doctrine 1) or obstinately continued in search of any one science: I confesse I never did it. Nor is there any one art whereof I am able so much as to draw the first lineaments. And there is no scholler (be he of the lowest forme) that may not repute himselfe wiser than I, who am not able to oppose him in his first lesson: and if I be forced to it, I am constrained verie impertinently to draw in matter from some generall discourse, whereby I examine, and give a guesse at his naturall judgement: a lesson as much unknowne to them as theirs is to me. I have not dealt or had commerce with any excellent booke, except Plutarke or Seneca, from whom (as the Danaides) I draw my water, uncessantly filling, and as fast emptying: some thing whereof I fasten to this paper, but to my selfe nothing at all. And touching bookes: Historie is my chiefe studie, Poesie my only delight, to which I am particularly affected: for as Cleanthes said, that as the voice being forciblie pent in the narrow gullet of a trumpet, at last issueth forth more strong and shriller, so me seemes, that a sentence cunningly and closely couched in measure keeping Posie, darts it selfe forth more furiously, and wounds me even to the quicke. And concerning the naturall faculties that are in me (whereof behold here an essay), I perceive them to faint under their owne burthen; my conceits, [Footnote: Ideas.] and my judgement march but uncertaine, and as it were groping, staggering, and stumbling at every rush: And when I have gone as far as I can, I have no whit pleased my selfe: for the further I saile the more land I descrie, and that so dimmed with fogges, and overcast with clouds, that my sight is so weakned, I cannot distinguish the same. And then undertaking to speake indifferently of all that presents it selfe unto my fantasie, and having nothing but mine owne naturall meanes to imploy therein, if it be my hap (as commonly it is) among good Authors, to light upon those verie places which I have undertaken to treat off, as even now I did in Plutarke reading his discourse of the power of imagination, wherein in regard of those wise men, I acknowledge my selfe so weake and so poore, so dull and grose-headed, as I am forced both to pittie and disdaine my selfe, yet am I pleased with this, that my opinions have often the grace to jump with theirs, and that I follow them a loofe-off, [Footnote: At a distance.] and thereby possesse at least, that which all other men have not; which is, that I know the utmost difference betweene them and my selfe: all which notwithstanding, I suffer my inventions to run abroad, as weake and faint as I have produced them, without bungling and botching the faults which this comparison hath discovered to me in them. A man had need have a strong backe, to undertake to march foot to foot with these kind of men. The indiscreet writers of our age, amidst their triviall [Footnote: Commonplace.] compositions, intermingle and wrest in whole sentences taken from ancient Authors, supposing by such filching-theft to purchase honour and reputation to themselves, doe cleane contrarie. For, this infinite varietie and dissemblance of lustres, makes a face so wan, so il-favored, and so uglie, in respect of theirs, that they lose much more than gaine thereby. These were two contrarie humours: The Philosopher Chrisippus was wont to foist-in amongst his bookes, not only whole sentences and other long-long discourses, but whole bookes of other Authors, as in one, he brought in Euripides his Medea. And Apollodorus was wont to say of him, that if one should draw from out his bookes what he had stolne from others, his paper would remaine blanke. Whereas Epicurus cleane contrarie to him in three hundred volumes he left behind him, had not made use of one allegation. [Footnote: Citation.] It was my fortune not long since to light upon such a place: I had languishingly traced after some French words, so naked and shallow, and so void either of sense or matter, that at last I found them to be nought but meere French words; and after a tedious and wearisome travell, I chanced to stumble upon an high, rich, and even to the clouds-raised piece, the descent whereof had it been somewhat more pleasant or easie, or the ascent reaching a little further, it had been excusable, and to be borne with-all; but it was such a steepie downe-fall, and by meere strength hewen out of the maine rocke, that by reading of the first six words, me thought I was carried into another world: whereby I perceive the bottome whence I came to be so low and deep, as I durst never more adventure to go through it; for, if I did stuffe any one of my discourses with those rich spoiles, it would manifestly cause the sottishnesse [Footnote: Foolishness.] of others to appeare. To reprove mine owne faults in others, seemes to me no more unsufferable than to reprehend (as I doe often) those of others in my selfe. They ought to be accused every where, and have all places of Sanctuarie taken from them: yet do I know how over boldly, at all times I adventure to equall my selfe unto my filchings, and to march hand in hand with them; not without a fond hardie hope, that I may perhaps be able to bleare the eyes of the Judges from discerning them. But it is as much for the benefit of my application, as for the good of mine invention and force. And I doe not furiously front, and bodie to bodie wrestle with those old champions: it is but by flights, advantages, and false offers I seek to come within them, and if I can, to give them a fall. I do not rashly take them about the necke, I doe but touch them, nor doe I go so far as by my bargaine I would seeme to doe; could I but keepe even with them, I should then be an honest man; for I seeke not to venture on them, but where they are strongest. To doe as I have seen some, that is, to shroud themselves under other armes, not daring so much as to show their fingers ends unarmed, and to botch up all their works (as it is an easie matter in a common subject, namely for the wiser sort) with ancient inventions, here and there hudled up together. And in those who endeavoured to hide what they have filched from others, and make it their owne, it is first a manifest note of injustice, then a plaine argument of cowardlinesse; who having nothing of any worth in themselves to make show of, will yet under the countenance of others sufficiencie goe about to make a faire offer: Moreover (oh great foolishnesse) to seek by such cosening [Footnote: Cheating.] tricks to forestall the ignorant approbation of the common sort, nothing fearing to discover their ignorance to men of understanding (whose praise only is of value) who will soone trace out such borrowed ware. As for me, there is nothing I will doe lesse. I never speake of others, but that I may the more speake of my selfe. This concerneth not those mingle-mangles of many kinds of stuffe, or as the Grecians call them Rapsodies, that for such are published, of which kind I have (since I came to yeares of discretion) seen divers most ingenious and wittie; amongst others, one under the name of Capilupus; besides many of the ancient stampe. These are wits of such excellence, as both here and elsewhere they will soone be perceived, as our late famous writer Lipsius, in his learned and laborious work of the Politikes: yet whatsoever come of it, for so much as they are but follies, my intent is not to smother them, no more than a bald and hoarie picture of mine, where a Painter hath drawne not a perfect visage, but mine owne. For, howsoever, these are but my humors and opinions, and I deliver them but to show what my conceit [Footnote: notion] is, and not what ought to be beleeved. Wherein I ayme at nothing but to display my selfe, who peradventure (if a new prentiship change me) shall be another to morrow. I have no authoritie to purchase beliefe, neither do I desire it; knowing well that I am not sufficiently taught to instruct others. Some having read my precedent Chapter [Footnote: "Of Pedantism"], told me not long since in mine owne house, I should somewhat more have extended my selfe in the discourse concerning the institution of children. Now (Madam) if there were any sufficiencie in me touching that subject, I could not better employ the same than to bestow it as a present upon that little lad, which ere long threatneth to make a happie issue from out your honorable woombe; for (Madame) you are too generous to begin with other than a man childe. And having had so great a part in the conduct of your successeful marriage, I may challenge some right and interest in the greatnesse and prosperitie of all that shall proceed from it: moreover, the ancient and rightfull possession, which you from time to time have ever had, and still have over my service, urgeth me with more than ordinarie respects, to wish all honour, well-fare and advantage to whatsoever may in any sort concerne you and yours. And truly, my meaning is but to show that the greatest difficultie, and importing all humane knowledge, seemeth to be in this point, where the nurture and institution of young children is in question. For, as in matters of husbandrie, the labor that must be used before sowing, setting, and planting, yea in planting itselfe, is most certaine and easie. But when that which was sowen, set and planted, commeth to take life; before it come to ripenesse, much adoe, and great varietie of proceeding belongeth to it. So in men, it is no great matter to get them, but being borne, what continuall cares, what diligent attendance, what doubts and feares, doe daily wait to their parents and tutors, before they can be nurtured and brought to any good? The fore-shew of their inclination whilest they are young is so uncertaine, their humours so variable, their promises so changing, their hopes so false, and their proceedings so doubtful, that it is very hard (yea for the wisest) to ground any certaine judgment, or assured successe upon them. Behold Cymon, view Themistocles, and a thousand others, how they have differed, and fallen to better from themselves, and deceive the expectation of such as knowe them. The young whelps both of Dogges and Beares at first sight shew their naturall disposition, but men headlong embracing this custome or fashion, following that humor or opinion, admitting this or that passion, allowing of that or this law, are easily changed, and soone disguised; yet it is hard to force the naturall propension or readinesse of the mind, whereby it followeth, that for want of heedie fore-sight in those that could not guide their course well, they often employ much time in vaine, to addresse young children in those matters whereunto they are not naturally addicted. All which difficulties notwithstanding, mine opinion is, to bring them up in the best and profitablest studies, and that a man should slightly passe over those fond presages, and deceiving prognostikes, which we over precisely gather in their infancie. And (without offence be it said) me thinks that Plato in his "Commonwealth" allowed them too- too much authoritie.
Madame, Learning joyned with true knowledge is an especiall and gracefull ornament, and an implement of wonderful use and consequence, namely, in persons raised to that degree of fortune wherein you are. And in good truth, learning hath not her owne true forme, nor can she make shew of her beauteous lineaments, if she fall into the hands of base and vile persons. [For, as famous Torquato Tasso saith: "Philosophie being a rich and noble Queene, and knowing her owne worth, graciously smileth upon and lovingly embraceth Princes and noble men, if they become suiters to her, admitting them as her minions, and gently affoording them all the favours she can; whereas upon the contrarie, if she be wooed, and sued unto by clownes, mechanicall fellowes, and such base kind of people, she holds herselfe disparaged and disgraced, as holding no proportion with them. And therefore see we by experience, that if a true Gentleman or nobleman follow her with any attention, and woo her with importunitie, he shall learne and know more of her, and prove a better scholler in one yeare, than an ungentle or base fellow shall in seven, though he pursue her never so attentively."] She is much more readie and fierce to lend her furtherance and direction in the conduct of a warre, to attempt honourable actions, to command a people, to treat a peace with a prince of forraine nation, than she is to forme an argument in Logick, to devise a Syllogisme, to canvase a case at the barre, or to prescribe a receit of pills. So (noble Ladie) forsomuch as I cannot perswade myselfe, that you will either forget or neglect this point, concerning the institution of yours, especially having tasted the sweetnesse thereof, and being descended of so noble and learned a race. For we yet possesse the learned compositions of the ancient and noble Earles of Foix, from out whose heroicke loynes your husband and you take your of-spring. And Francis Lord of Candale, your worthie uncle, doth daily bring forth such fruits thereof, as the knowledge of the matchlesse qualitie of your house shall hereafter extend itselfe to many ages; I will therefore make you acquainted with one conceit of mine, which contrarie to the common use I hold, and that is all I am able to affoord you concerning that matter. The charge of the Tutor, which you shall appoint your sonne, in the choice of whom consisteth the whole substance of his education and bringing up; on which are many branches depending, which (forasmuch as I can adde nothing of any moment to it) I will not touch at all. And for that point, wherein I presume to advise him, he may so far forth give credit unto it, as he shall see just cause. To a gentleman borne of noble parentage, and heire of a house that aymeth at true learning, and in it would be disciplined, not so much for gane or commoditie to himselfe (because so abject an end is far unworthie the grace and favour of the Muses, and besides, hath a regard or dependencie of others) nor for externall shew and ornament, but to adorne and enrich his inward minde, desiring rather to shape and institute an able and sufficient man, than a bare learned man; my desire is therefore, that the parents or overseers of such a gentleman be very circumspect, and careful in chusing his director, whom I would rather commend for having a well composed and temperate braine, than a full stuft head, yet both will doe well. And I would rather prefer wisdome, judgement, civill customes, and modest behaviour, than bare and meere literall learning; and that in his charge he hold a new course. Some never cease brawling in their schollers eares (as if they were still pouring in a tonell) to follow their booke, yet is their charge nothing else but to repeat what hath beene told them before. I would have a tutor to correct this part, and that at first entrance, according to the capacitie of the wit he hath in hand, he should begin to make shew of it, making him to have a smacke of all things, and how to choose and distinguish them, without helpe of others, sometimes opening him the way, other times leaving him to open it by himselfe. I would not have him to invent and speake alone, but suffer his disciple to speake when his turne commeth. Socrates, and after him Arcesilaus, made their schollers to speake first, and then would speake themselves. Obest plerumque iis qui discere volunt, auctoritas eorum qui docent: [Footnote: CIC. De Nat. 1. i] "Most commonly the authoritie of them that teach, hinders them that would learne."
It is therefore meet that he make him first trot-on before him, whereby he may the better judge of his pace, and so guesse how long he will hold out, that accordingly he may fit his strength; for want of which proportion we often marre all. And to know how to make a good choice, and how far forth one may proceed (still keeping a due measure), is one of the hardest labours I know. It is a signe of a noble, and effect of an undanted spirit, to know how to second, and how far forth he shall condescend to his childish proceedings, and how to guide them. As for myselfe, I can better and with more strength walke up than downe a hill. Those which, according to our common fashion, undertake with one selfe-same lesson, and like maner of education, to direct many spirits of divers formes and different humours, it is no marvell if among a multitude of children, they scarce meet with two or three that reap any good fruit by their discipline, or that come to any perfection. I would not only have him to demand an accompt of the words contained in his lesson, but of the sense and substance thereof, and judge of the profit he hath made of it, not by the testimonie of his memorie, but by the witnesse of his life. That what he lately learned, he cause him to set forth and pourtray the same into sundrie shapes, and then to accommodate it to as many different and severall subjects, whereby he shal perceive, whether he have yet apprehended the same, and therein enfeoffed himselfe, [Footnote: Taken possession.] at due times taking his instruction from the institution given by Plato. It is a signe of cruditie and indigestion for a man to yeeld up his meat, even as he swallowed the same; the stomacke hath not wrought his full operation, unlesse it have changed forme, and altered fashion of that which was given him to boyle and concoct.
[Wee see men gape after no reputation but learning, and when they say, such a one is a learned man, they thinke they have said enough;] Our minde doth move at others pleasure, and tyed and forced to serve the fantasies of others, being brought under by authoritie, and forced to stoope to the lure of their bare lesson; wee have beene so subjected to harpe upon one string, that we have no way left us to descant upon voluntarie; our vigor and libertie is cleane extinct. Nunquam tutelae suae fiunt: "They never come to their owne tuition." It was my hap to bee familiarlie acquainted with an honest man at Pisa, but such an Aristotelian, as he held this infallible position; that a conformitie to Aristotles doctrine was the true touchstone and squire [Footnote: Square.] of all solid imaginations and perfect veritie; for, whatsoever had no coherencie with it, was but fond Chimeraes and idle humors; inasmuch as he had knowne all, seene all, and said all. This proposition of his being somewhat over amply and injuriously interpreted by some, made him a long time after to be troubled in the inquisition of Rome. I would have him make his scholler narrowly to sift all things with discretion, and harbour nothing in his head by mere authoritie, or upon trust. Aristotles principles shall be no more axiomes unto him, than the Stoikes or Epicurians. Let this diversitie of judgements be proposed unto him, if he can, he shall be able to distinguish the truth from falsehood, if not, he will remaine doubtful.
Che non men che saper dubbiar m'aggrata. [Footnote: DANTE, Inferno, cant. xi. 93.]
No lesse it pleaseth me, To doubt, than wise to be.
For if by his owne discourse he embrace the opinions of Xenophon or of Plato, they shall be no longer theirs, but his. He that meerely followeth another, traceth nothing, and seeketh nothing: Non sumus sub Rege, sibi quisque se vindicet: [Footnote: SEN. Epist. xxxiii.] "We are not under a Kings command, every one may challenge himselfe, for let him at least know that he knoweth." It is requisite he endevour as much to feed himselfe with their conceits, as labour to learne their precepts; which, so he know how to applie, let him hardily forget, where or whence he had them. Truth and reason are common to all, and are no more proper unto him that spake them heretofore, then unto him that shall speake them hereafter. And it is no more according to Platoes opinion than to mine, since both he and I understand and see alike. The Bees do here and there sucke this and cull that flower, but afterward they produce the hony, which is peculiarly their owne, then is it no more Thyme or Majoram. So of peeces borrowed of others, he may lawfully alter, transforme, and confound them, to shape out of them a perfect peece of worke, altogether his owne; alwaies provided his judgement, his travell, [Footnote: Travail, labor.] studie, and institution tend to nothing, but to frame the same perfect. Let him hardily conceale where or whence he hath had any helpe, and make no shew of anything, but of that which he hath made himselfe. Pirates, pilchers, and borrowers, make a shew of their purchases and buildings, but not of that which they have taken from others: you see not the secret fees or bribes Lawyers take of their Clients, but you shall manifestly discover the alliances they make, the honours they get for their children, and the goodly houses they build. No man makes open shew of his receits, but every one of his gettings. The good that comes of studie (or at least should come) is to prove better, wiser and honester. It is the understanding power (said Epicharmus) that seeth and heareth, it is it that profiteth all and disposeth all, that moveth, swayeth, and ruleth all: all things else are but blind, senselesse, and without spirit. And truly in barring him of libertie to doe any thing of himselfe, we make him thereby more servile and more coward. Who would ever enquire of his scholler what he thinketh of Rhetorike, of Grammar, of this or of that sentence of Cicero? Which things thoroughly fethered (as if they were oracles) are let flie into our memorie; in which both letters and syllables are substantiall parts of the subject. To know by roat is no perfect knowledge, but to keep what one hath committed to his memories charge, is commendable: what a man directly knoweth, that will he dispose of, without turning still to his booke or looking to his pattern. A meere bookish sufficiencie is unpleasant. All I expect of it is an imbellishing of my actions, and not a foundation of them, according to Platoes mind, who saith, constancie, faith, and sinceritie are true Philosophie; as for other Sciences, and tending elsewhere, they are but garish paintings. I would faine have Paluel or Pompey, those two excellent dauncers of our time, with all their nimblenesse, teach any man to doe their loftie tricks and high capers, only with seeing them done, and without stirring out of his place, as some Pedanticall fellowes would instruct our minds without moving or putting it in practice. And glad would I be to find one that would teach us how to manage a horse, to tosse a pike, to shoot-off a peece, to play upon the lute, or to warble with the voice, without any exercise, as these kind of men would teach us to judge, and how to speake well, without any exercise of speaking or judging. In which kind of life, or as I may terme it, Prentiship, what action or object soever presents itselfe into our eies, may serve us in stead of a sufficient booke. A prettie pranke of a boy, a knavish tricke of a page, a foolish part of a lackey, an idle tale or any discourse else, spoken either in jest or earnest, at the table or in companie, are even as new subjects for us to worke upon: for furtherance whereof, commerce or common societie among men, visiting of forraine countries, and observing of strange fashions, are verie necessary, not only to be able (after the manner of our yong gallants of France) to report how many paces the Church of Santa Rotonda is in length or breadth, or what rich garments the curtezan Signora Livia weareth, and the worth of her hosen; or as some do, nicely to dispute how much longer or broader the face of Nero is, which they have seene in some old ruines of Italie, than that which is made for him in other old monuments else-where. But they should principally observe, and be able to make certaine relation of the humours and fashions of those countries they have seene, that they may the better know how to correct and prepare their wits by those of others. I would therefore have him begin even from his infancie to travell abroad; and first, that at one shoot he may hit two markes he should see neighbour- countries, namely where languages are most different from ours; for, unlesse a mans tongue be fashioned unto them in his youth, he shall never attaine to the true pronunciation of them if he once grow in yeares. Moreover, we see it received as a common opinion of the wiser sort, that it agreeth not with reason, that a childe be alwaies nuzzled, cockered, dandled, and brought up in his parents lap or sight; forsomuch as their naturall kindnesse, or (as I may call it) tender fondnesse, causeth often, even the wisest to prove so idle, so over-nice, and so base-minded. For parents are not capable, neither can they find in their hearts to see them checkt, corrected, or chastised, nor indure to see them brought up so meanly, and so far from daintinesse, and many times so dangerously, as they must needs be. And it would grieve them to see their children come home from those exercises, that a Gentleman must necessarily acquaint himselfe with, sometimes all wet and bemyred, other times sweatie and full of dust, and to drinke being either extreme hot or exceeding cold; and it would trouble them to see him ride a rough-untamed horse, or with his weapon furiously incounter a skilful Fencer, or to handle or shoot-off a musket; against which there is no remedy, if he will make him prove a sufficient, compleat, or honest man: he must not be spared in his youth; and it will come to passe, that he shall many times have occasion and be forced to shocke the rules of Physicke.
Vitamque sub dio et trepidis agat In rebus. [Footnote: Hor. I. i. Od. ii. 4.]
Leade he his life in open aire, And in affaires full of despaire.
It is not sufficient to make his minde strong, his muskles must also be strengthened: the mind is over-borne if it be not seconded: and it is too much for her alone to discharge two offices. I have a feeling how mine panteth, being joyned to so tender and sensible [Footnote: Sensitive.] a bodie, and that lieth so heavie upon it And in my lecture, I often perceive how my Authors in their writings sometimes commend examples for magnanimitie and force, that rather proceed from a thicke skin and hardnes of the bones. I have knowne men, women and children borne of so hard a constitution, that a blow with a cudgell would lesse hurt them, than a filip would doe me, and so dull and blockish, that they will neither stir tongue nor eyebrowes, beat them never so much. When wrestlers goe about to counterfeit the Philosophers patience, they rather shew the vigor of their sinnewes than of their heart. For the custome to beare travell, is to tolerate griefe: Labor callum obducit dolori. [Footnote: Cic. Tusc. Qu. I. ii.] "Labour worketh a hardnesse upon sorrow." Hee must be enured to suffer the paine and hardnesse of exercises, that so he may be induced to endure the paine of the colicke, of cauterie, of fals, of sprains, and other diseases incident to mans bodie: yea, if need require, patiently to beare imprisonment and other tortures, by which sufferance he shall come to be had in more esteeme and accompt: for according to time and place, the good as well as the bad man may haply fall into them; we have seen it by experience. Whosoever striveth against the lawes, threats good men with mischiefe and extortion. Moreover, the authoritie of the Tutor (who should be soveraigne over him) is by the cockering and presence of the parents, hindred and interrupted: besides the awe and respect which the houshold beares him, and the knowledge of the meane, possibilities, and greatnesse of his house, are in my judgement no small lets [Footnote: Hindrances.]in a young Gentleman. In this schoole of commerce, and societie among men, I have often noted this vice, that in lieu of taking acquaintance of others, we only endevour to make our selves knowne to them: and we are more ready to utter such merchandize as we have, than to ingrosse and purchase new commodities. Silence and modestie are qualities very convenient to civil conversation. It is also necessary that a young man be rather taught to be discreetly-sparing and close-handed, than prodigally-wastfull and lavish in his expences, and moderate in husbanding his wealth when he shall come to possesse it. And not to take pepper in the nose for every foolish tale that shall be spoken in his presence, because it is an uncivil importunity to contradict whatsoever is not agreeing to our humour: let him be pleased to correct himselfe. And let him not seeme to blame that in others which he refuseth to doe himselfe, nor goe about to withstand common fashions, Licet sapere sine pompa, sine invidia: [Footnote: SEN. Epist. ciii. f.] "A man may bee wise without ostentation, without envie." Let him avoid those imperious images of the world, those uncivil behaviours and childish ambition wherewith, God wot, too-too many are possest: that is, to make a faire shew of that which is not in him: endevouring to be reputed other than indeed he is; and as if reprehension and new devices were hard to come by, he would by that meane acquire into himselfe the name of some peculiar vertue. As it pertaineth but to great Poets to use the libertie of arts; so is it tolerable but in noble minds and great spirits to have a preheminence above ordinarie fashions. Si quid Socrates et Aristippus contra morem et consuetudinem fecerunt, idem sibi ne arbitretur licere: Magis enim illi et divinis bonis hanc licentiam assequebantur: [Footnote: CIC. Off. 1. i.] "If Socrates and Aristippus have done ought against custome or good manner, let not a man thinke he may doe the same: for they obtained this licence by their great and excellent good parts:" He shall be taught not to enter rashly into discourse or contesting, but when he shall encounter with a Champion worthie his strength; And then would I not have him imploy all the tricks that may fit his turne, but only such as may stand him in most stead. That he be taught to be curious in making choice of his reasons, loving pertinency, and by consequence brevitie. That above all, he be instructed to yeeld, yea to quit his weapons unto truth, as soone as he shall discerne the same, whether it proceed from his adversarie, or upon better advice from himselfe; for he shall not be preferred to any place of eminencie above others, for repeating of a prescript [Footnote: Fixed beforehand.] part; and he is not engaged to defend any cause, further than he may approove it; nor shall he bee of that trade where the libertie for a man to repent and re-advise himselfe is sold for readie money, Neque, ut omnia, que praescripta et imperata sint, defendat, necessitate ulla cogitur: [Footnote: CIC. Acad. Qu. I. iv.] "Nor is he inforced by any necessitie to defend and make good all that is prescribed and commanded him." If his tutor agree with my humour, he shall frame his affection to be a most loyall and true subject to his Prince, and a most affectionate and couragious Gentleman in al that may concerne the honor of his Soveraigne or the good of his countrie, and endevour to suppresse in him all manner of affection to undertake any action Otherwise than for a publike good and dutie. Besides many inconveniences, which greatly prejudice our libertie by reason of these particular bonds, the judgment of a man that is waged and bought, either it is lesse free and honest, or else it is blemisht with oversight and ingratitude. A meere and precise Courtier can neither have law nor will to speake or thinke otherwise than favourablie of his Master, who among so many thousands of his subjects hath made choice of him alone, to institute and bring him up with his owne hand. These favours, with the commodities that follow minion [Footnote: Favorite.] Courtiers, corrupt (not without some colour of reason) his libertie, and dazle his judgement. It is therefore commonly scene that the Courtiers- language differs from other mens, in the same state, and to be of no great credit in such matters. Let therefore his conscience and vertue shine in his speech, and reason be his chiefe direction, Let him be taught to confesse such faults as he shall discover in his owne discourses, albeit none other perceive them but himselfe; for it is an evident shew of judgement, and effect of sinceritie, which are the chiefest qualities he aymeth at. That wilfully to strive, and obstinately to contest in words, are common qualities, most apparent in basest mindes: That to readvise and correct himselfe, and when one is most earnest, to leave an ill opinion, are rare, noble, and Philosophicall conditions. Being in companie, he shall be put in minde, to cast his eyes round about, and every where: For I note, that the chiefe places are usually seezed upon by the most unworthie and lesse capable; and that height of fortune is seldome joyned with sufficiencie. I have scene that whilst they at the upper end of a board were busie entertaining themselves with talking of the beautie of the hangings about a chamber, or of the taste of some good cup of wine, many good discourses at the lower end have utterly been lost. He shall weigh the carriage of every man in his calling, a Heardsman, a Mason, a Stranger, or a Traveller; all must be imployed; every one according to his worth; for all helps to make up houshold; yea, the follie and the simplicitie of others shall be as instructions to him. By controlling the graces and manners of others, he shall acquire unto himselfe envie of the good and contempt of the bad. Let him hardly be possest with an honest curiositie to search out the nature and causes of all things: let him survay whatsoever is rare and singular about him; a building, a fountaine, a man, a place where any battell hath been fought, or the passages of Caesar or Charlemaine.
Quae tellus sit lenta gelu, qua putris ab aestu, Ventus in Italiam quis bene vela ferat. [Footnote: Prop. 1. iv. El. iii. 39.]
What land is parcht with heat, what clog'd with frost. What wind drives kindly to th' Italian coast.
He shall endevour to be familiarly acquainted with the customes, with the meanes, with the state, with the dependances and alliances of all Princes; they are things soone and pleasant to be learned, and most profitable to be knowne. In this acquaintance of men, my intending is, that hee chiefely comprehend them, that live but by the memorie of bookes. He shall, by the help of Histories, in forme himselfe of the worthiest minds that were in the best ages. It is a frivolous studie, if a man list, but of unvaluable worth to such as can make use of it, and as Plato saith, the only studie the Lacedemonians reserved for themselves. What profit shall he not reap, touching this point, reading the lives of our Plutark? Alwayes conditioned, the master bethinke himselfe whereto his charge tendeth, and that he imprint not so much in his schollers mind the date of the ruine of Carthage, as the manners of Hanniball and Scipio, nor so much where Marcellus died, as because he was unworthy of his devoire [Footnote: Task.] he died there: that he teach him not so much to know Histories as to judge of them. It is amongst things that best agree with my humour, the subject to which our spirits doe most diversly applie themselves. I have read in Titus Livius a number of things, which peradventure others never read, in whom Plutarke haply read a hundred more than ever I could read, and which perhaps the author himselfe did never intend to set downe. To some kind of men it is a meere gramaticali studie, but to others a perfect anatomie [Footnote: Dissection, analytical exposition.] of Philosophie; by meanes whereof the secretest part of our nature is searched into. There are in Plutarke many ample discourses most worthy to be knowne: for in my judgement, he is the chiefe work- master of such works, whereof there are a thousand, whereat he hath but slightly glanced; for with his finger he doth but point us out a way to walke in, if we list; and is sometimes pleased to give but a touch at the quickest and maine point of a discourse, from whence they are by diligent studie to be drawne, and so brought into open market. As that saying of his, That the inhabitants of Asia served but one alone, because they could not pronounce one onely syllable, which is Non, gave perhaps both subject and occasion to my friend Boetie to compose his booke of voluntarie servitude. If it were no more but to see Plutarke wrest a slight action to mans life, or a word that seemeth to beare no such sence, it will serve for a whole discourse. It is pittie men of understanding should so much love brevitie; without doubt their reputation is thereby better, but we the worse. Plutarke had rather we should commend him for his judgement than for his knowledge, he loveth better to leave a kind of longing-desire in us of him, than a satietie. He knew verie well that even in good things too much may be said: and that Alexandridas did justly reprove him who spake verie good sentences to the Ephores, but they were over tedious. Oh stranger, quoth he, thou speakest what thou oughtest, otherwise then [Footnote: Than.] thou shouldest. Those that have leane and thin bodies stuffe them up with bumbasting. [Footnote: Padding.] And such as have but poore matter, will puffe it up with loftie words. There is a marvelous cleerenesse, or as I may terme it an enlightning of mans judgement drawne from the commerce of men, and by frequenting abroad in the world; we are all so contrived and compact in our selves, that our sight is made shorter by the length of our nose. When Socrates was demaunded whence he was, he answered, not of Athens, but of the world; for he, who had his imagination more full and farther stretching, embraced all the world for his native Citie, and extended his acquaintance, his societie, and affections to all man- kind: and not as we do, that looke no further than our feet. If the frost chance to nip the vines about my village, my Priest doth presently argue that the wrath of God hangs over our head, and threatneth all mankind: and judgeth that the Pippe [Footnote: A disease.] is alreadie falne upon the Canibals.
In viewing these intestine and civill broiles of ours, who doth not exclaime, that this worlds vast frame is neere unto a dissolution, and that the day of judgement is readie to fall on us? never remembering that many worse revolutions have been seene, and that whilest we are plunged in griefe, and overwhelmed in sorrow, a thousand other parts of the world besides are blessed with happinesse, and wallow in pleasures, and never thinke on us? whereas, when I behold our lives, our licence, and impunitie, I wonder to see them so milde and easie. He on whose head it haileth, thinks all the Hemispheare besides to be in a storme and tempest. And as that dull-pated Savoyard said, that if the seelie [Footnote 31: Simple.] King of France could cunningly have managed his fortune, he might verie well have made himselfe chiefe Steward of his Lords household, whose imagination conceived no other greatnesse than his Masters; we are all insensible of this kind of errour: an errour of great consequence and prejudice. But whosoever shall present unto his inward eyes, as it were in a Table, the Idea of the great image of our universall mother Nature, attired in her richest robes, sitting in the throne of her Majestic, and in her visage shall read so generall and so constant a varietie; he that therein shall view himselfe, not himselfe alone, but a whole Kingdome, to be in respect of a great circle but the smallest point that can be imagined, he onely can value things according to their essentiall greatnesse and proportion. This great universe (which some multiplie as Species under one Genus) is the true looking-glasse wherein we must looke, if we will know whether we be of a good stamp or in the right byase. To conclude, I would have this worlds-frame to be my Schollers choise-booke. [Footnote: Book of examples] So many strange humours, sundrie sects, varying judgements, diverse opinions, different lawes, and fantasticall customes teach us to judge rightly of ours, and instruct our judgement to acknowledge his imperfections and naturall weaknesse, which is no easie an apprentiship: So many innovations of estates, so many fals of Princes, and changes of publike fortune, may and ought to teach us, not to make so great accompt of ours: So many names, so many victories, and so many conquests buried in darke oblivion, makes the hope to perpetuate our names but ridiculous, by the surprising of ten Argo-lettiers, [Footnote: Mounted Bowmen.] or of a small cottage, which is knowne but by his fall. The pride and fiercenesse of so many strange and gorgeous shewes: the pride-puft majestie of so many courts, and of their greatnesse, ought to confirme and assure our sight, undauntedly to beare the affronts and thunder-claps of ours, without feeling our eyes: So many thousands of men, lowlaide in their graves afore us, may encourage us not to feare, or be dismaied to go meet so good companie in the other world, and so of all things else. Our life (said Pithagoras) drawes neare unto the great and populous assemblies of the Olympike games, wherein some, to get the glorie and to win the goale of the games, exercise their bodies with all industrie; others, for greedinesse of gaine, bring thither marchandise to sell: others there are (and those be not the worst) that seek after no other good, but to marke how wherefore, and to what end, all things are done: and to be spectators or observers of other mens lives and actions, that so they may the better judge and direct their owne. Unto examples may all the most profitable Discourses of Philosophic be sorted, which ought to be the touch- stone of human actions, and a rule to square them by, to whom may be said,
—-quid fas optare, quid asper Vtile nummus habet, patriae charisque propinquis Quantum elargiri deceat, quem te Deus esse lussit, et humana qua parte locaius es in re. [Footnote: Pers. Sat. iii. 69.] Quid sumus, aut quidnam victuri gignimur. [Footnote: Ib. 67.]
What thou maiest wish, what profit may come cleare, From new-stampt coyne, to friends and countrie deare What thou ought'st give: whom God would have thee bee, And in what part mongst men he placed thee. What we are, and wherefore, To live heer we were bore.
What it is to know, and not to know (which ought to be the scope of studie), what valour, what temperance, and what justice is: what difference there is betweene ambition and avarice, bondage and freedome, subjection and libertie, by which markes a man may distinguish true and perfect contentment, and how far-forth one ought to feare or apprehend death, griefe, or shame.
Et quo quemque modo fugiatque. feratque laborem. [Footnote: Virg. Aen. 1. iii. 853.]
How ev'ry labour he may plie, And beare, or ev'ry labour flie.
What wards or springs move us, and the causes of so many motions in us: For me seemeth, that the first discourses, wherewith his conceit should be sprinkled, ought to be those that rule his manners and direct his sense; which will both teach him to know himselfe, and how to live and how to die well. Among the liberall Sciences, let us begin with that which makes us free: Indeed, they may all, in some sort stead us, as an instruction to our life, and use of it, as all other things else serve the same to some purpose or other. But let us make especiall choice of that which may directly and pertinently serve the same. If we could restraine and adapt the appurtenances of our life to their right byase and naturall limits, we should find the best part of the Sciences that now are in use, cleane out of fashion with us: yea, and in those that are most in use, there are certaine by-wayes and deep-flows most profitable, which we should do well to leave, and according to the institution of Socrates, limit the course of our studies in those where profit is wanting.