Discoveries and Some Poems
by Ben Jonson
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Transcribed by David Price, email, from the 1892 Cassell & Company edition.


Contents: Introduction by Henry Morley Sylva Timber, or Discoveries ... Some Poems To William Camden On My First Daughter On My First Son To Francis Beaumont Of Life and Death Inviting a Friend to Supper Epitaph on Salathiel Pavy Epitaph on Elizabeth L. H. Epitaph on the Countess of Pembroke To the Memory of my Beloved Master William Shakespeare To Celia The Triumph of Charis In the Person of Womankind Ode Praeludium Epode An Elegy


Ben Jonson's "Discoveries" are, as he says in the few Latin words prefixed to them, "A wood—Sylva—of things and thoughts, in Greek "[Greek text]" [which has for its first meaning material, but is also applied peculiarly to kinds of wood, and to a wood], "from the multiplicity and variety of the material contained in it. For, as we are commonly used to call the infinite mixed multitude of growing trees a wood, so the ancients gave the name of Sylvae—Timber Trees—to books of theirs in which small works of various and diverse matter were promiscuously brought together."

In this little book we have some of the best thoughts of one of the most vigorous minds that ever added to the strength of English literature. The songs added are a part of what Ben Jonson called his "Underwoods."

Ben Jonson was of a north-country family from the Annan district that produced Thomas Carlyle. His father was ruined by religious persecution in the reign of Mary, became a preacher in Elizabeth's reign, and died a month before the poet's birth in 1573. Ben Jonson, therefore, was about nine years younger than Shakespeare, and he survived Shakespeare about twenty-one years, dying in August, 1637. Next to Shakespeare Ben Jonson was, in his own different way, the man of most mark in the story of the English drama. His mother, left poor, married again. Her second husband was a bricklayer, or small builder, and they lived for a time near Charing Cross in Hartshorn Lane. Ben Jonson was taught at the parish school of St. Martin's till he was discovered by William Camden, the historian. Camden was then second master in Westminster School. He procured for young Ben an admission into his school, and there laid firm foundations for that scholarship which the poet extended afterwards by private study until his learning grew to be sworn-brother to his wit.

Ben Jonson began the world poor. He worked for a very short time in his step-father's business. He volunteered to the wars in the Low Countries. He came home again, and joined the players. Before the end of Elizabeth's reign he had written three or four plays, in which he showed a young and ardent zeal for setting the world to rights, together with that high sense of the poet's calling which put lasting force into his work. He poured contempt on those who frittered life away. He urged on the poetasters and the mincing courtiers, who set their hearts on top-knots and affected movements of their lips and legs:-

"That these vain joys in which their wills consume Such powers of wit and soul as are of force To raise their beings to eternity, May be converted on works fitting men; And for the practice of a forced look, An antic gesture, or a fustian phrase, Study the native frame of a true heart, An inward comeliness of bounty, knowledge, And spirit that may conform them actually To God's high figures, which they have in power."

Ben Jonson's genius was producing its best work in the earlier years of the reign of James I. His Volpone, the Silent Woman, and the Alchemist first appeared side by side with some of the ripest works of Shakespeare in the years from 1605 to 1610. In the latter part of James's reign he produced masques for the Court, and turned with distaste from the public stage. When Charles I. became king, Ben Jonson was weakened in health by a paralytic stroke. He returned to the stage for a short time through necessity, but found his best friends in the best of the young poets of the day. These looked up to him as their father and their guide. Their own best efforts seemed best to them when they had won Ben Jonson's praise. They valued above all passing honours man could give the words, "My son," in the old poet's greeting, which, as they said, "sealed them of the tribe of Ben."

H. M.


Rerum et sententiarum quasi "[Greek text] dicta a multiplici materia et varietate in iis contenta. Quemadmodum enim vulgo solemus infinitam arborum nascentium indiscriminatim multitudinem Sylvam dicere: ita etiam libros suos in quibus variae et diversae materiae opuscula temere congesta erant, Sylvas appellabant antiqui: Timber-trees.


Tecum habita, ut noris quam sit tibi curta supellex {11} PERS. Sat. 4.

Fortuna.—Ill fortune never crushed that man whom good fortune deceived not. I therefore have counselled my friends never to trust to her fairer side, though she seemed to make peace with them; but to place all things she gave them, so as she might ask them again without their trouble, she might take them from them, not pull them: to keep always a distance between her and themselves. He knows not his own strength that hath not met adversity. Heaven prepares good men with crosses; but no ill can happen to a good man. Contraries are not mixed. Yet that which happens to any man may to every man. But it is in his reason, what he accounts it and will make it.

Casus.—Change into extremity is very frequent and easy. As when a beggar suddenly grows rich, he commonly becomes a prodigal; for, to obscure his former obscurity, he puts on riot and excess.

Consilia.—No man is so foolish but may give another good counsel sometimes; and no man is so wise but may easily err, if he will take no others' counsel but his own. But very few men are wise by their own counsel, or learned by their own teaching. For he that was only taught by himself {12} had a fool to his master.

Fama.—A Fame that is wounded to the world would be better cured by another's apology than its own: for few can apply medicines well themselves. Besides, the man that is once hated, both his good and his evil deeds oppress him. He is not easily emergent.

Negotia.—In great affairs it is a work of difficulty to please all. And ofttimes we lose the occasions of carrying a business well and thoroughly by our too much haste. For passions are spiritual rebels, and raise sedition against the understanding.

Amor patriae.—There is a necessity all men should love their country: he that professeth the contrary may be delighted with his words, but his heart is there.

Ingenia.—Natures that are hardened to evil you shall sooner break than make straight; they are like poles that are crooked and dry, there is no attempting them.

Applausus.—We praise the things we hear with much more willingness than those we see, because we envy the present and reverence the past; thinking ourselves instructed by the one, and overlaid by the other.

Opinio.—Opinion is a light, vain, crude, and imperfect thing; settled in the imagination, but never arriving at the understanding, there to obtain the tincture of reason. We labour with it more than truth. There is much more holds us than presseth us. An ill fact is one thing, an ill fortune is another; yet both oftentimes sway us alike, by the error of our thinking.

Impostura.—Many men believe not themselves what they would persuade others; and less do the things which they would impose on others; but least of all know what they themselves most confidently boast. Only they set the sign of the cross over their outer doors, and sacrifice to their gut and their groin in their inner closets.

Jactura vitae.—What a deal of cold business doth a man misspend the better part of life in! in scattering compliments, tendering visits, gathering and venting news, following feasts and plays, making a little winter-love in a dark corner.

Hypocrita.—Puritanus Hypocrita est Haereticus, quem opinio propriae perspicaciae, qua sibi videtur, cum paucis in Ecclesia dogmatibus errores quosdam animadvertisse, de statu mentis deturbavit: unde sacro furore percitus, phrenetice pugnat contra magistratus, sic ratus obedientiam praestare Deo. {14}

Mutua auxilia.—Learning needs rest: sovereignty gives it. Sovereignty needs counsel: learning affords it. There is such a consociation of offices between the prince and whom his favour breeds, that they may help to sustain his power as he their knowledge. It is the greatest part of his liberality, his favour; and from whom doth he hear discipline more willingly, or the arts discoursed more gladly, than from those whom his own bounty and benefits have made able and faithful?

Cognit. univers.—In being able to counsel others, a man must be furnished with a universal store in himself, to the knowledge of all nature—that is, the matter and seed-plot: there are the seats of all argument and invention. But especially you must be cunning in the nature of man: there is the variety of things which are as the elements and letters, which his art and wisdom must rank and order to the present occasion. For we see not all letters in single words, nor all places in particular discourses. That cause seldom happens wherein a man will use all arguments.

Consiliarii adjunct. Probitas, Sapientia.—The two chief things that give a man reputation in counsel are the opinion of his honesty and the opinion of his wisdom: the authority of those two will persuade when the same counsels uttered by other persons less qualified are of no efficacy or working.

Vita recta.—Wisdom without honesty is mere craft and cozenage. And therefore the reputation of honesty must first be gotten, which cannot be but by living well. A good life is a main argument.

Obsequentia.—Humanitas.—Solicitudo.—Next a good life, to beget love in the persons we counsel, by dissembling our knowledge of ability in ourselves, and avoiding all suspicion of arrogance, ascribing all to their instruction, as an ambassador to his master, or a subject to his sovereign; seasoning all with humanity and sweetness, only expressing care and solicitude. And not to counsel rashly, or on the sudden, but with advice and meditation. (Dat nox consilium. {17a}) For many foolish things fall from wise men, if they speak in haste or be extemporal. It therefore behoves the giver of counsel to be circumspect; especially to beware of those with whom he is not thoroughly acquainted, lest any spice of rashness, folly, or self-love appear, which will be marked by new persons and men of experience in affairs.

Modestia.—Parrhesia.—And to the prince, or his superior, to behave himself modestly and with respect. Yet free from flattery or empire. Not with insolence or precept; but as the prince were already furnished with the parts he should have, especially in affairs of state. For in other things they will more easily suffer themselves to be taught or reprehended: they will not willingly contend, but hear, with Alexander, the answer the musician gave him: Absit, o rex, ut tu melius haec scias, quam ego. {17b}

Perspicuitas.—Elegantia.—A man should so deliver himself to the nature of the subject whereof he speaks, that his hearer may take knowledge of his discipline with some delight; and so apparel fair and good matter, that the studious of elegancy be not defrauded; redeem arts from their rough and braky seats, where they lay hid and overgrown with thorns, to a pure, open, and flowery light, where they may take the eye and be taken by the hand.

Natura non effaeta.—I cannot think Nature is so spent and decayed that she can bring forth nothing worth her former years. She is always the same, like herself; and when she collects her strength is abler still. Men are decayed, and studies: she is not.

Non nimium credendum antiquitati.—I know nothing can conduce more to letters than to examine the writings of the ancients, and not to rest in their sole authority, or take all upon trust from them, provided the plagues of judging and pronouncing against them be away; such as are envy, bitterness, precipitation, impudence, and scurrilous scoffing. For to all the observations of the ancients we have our own experience, which if we will use and apply, we have better means to pronounce. It is true they opened the gates, and made the way that went before us, but as guides, not commanders: Non domini nostri, sed duces fuere. {19a} Truth lies open to all; it is no man's several. Patet omnibus veritas; nondum est occupata. Multum ex illa, etiam futuris relicta est. {19b}

Dissentire licet, sed cum ratione.—If in some things I dissent from others, whose wit, industry, diligence, and judgment, I look up at and admire, let me not therefore hear presently of ingratitude and rashness. For I thank those that have taught me, and will ever; but yet dare not think the scope of their labour and inquiry was to envy their posterity what they also could add and find out.

Non mihi credendum sed veritati.—If I err, pardon me: Nulla ars simul et inventa est et absoluta. {19c} I do not desire to be equal to those that went before; but to have my reason examined with theirs, and so much faith to be given them, or me, as those shall evict. I am neither author nor fautor of any sect. I will have no man addict himself to me; but if I have anything right, defend it as Truth's, not mine, save as it conduceth to a common good. It profits not me to have any man fence or fight for me, to flourish, or take my side. Stand for truth, and 'tis enough.

Scientiae liberales.—Arts that respect the mind were ever reputed nobler than those that serve the body, though we less can be without them, as tillage, spinning, weaving, building, &c., without which we could scarce sustain life a day. But these were the works of every hand; the other of the brain only, and those the most generous and exalted wits and spirits, that cannot rest or acquiesce. The mind of man is still fed with labour: Opere pascitur.

Non vulgi sunt.—There is a more secret cause, and the power of liberal studies lies more hid than that it can be wrought out by profane wits. It is not every man's way to hit. There are men, I confess, that set the carat and value upon things as they love them; but science is not every man's mistress. It is as great a spite to be praised in the wrong place, and by a wrong person, as can be done to a noble nature.

Honesta ambitio.—If divers men seek fame or honour by divers ways, so both be honest, neither is to be blamed; but they that seek immortality are not only worthy of love, but of praise.

Maritus improbus.—He hath a delicate wife, a fair fortune, a family to go to and be welcome; yet he had rather be drunk with mine host and the fiddlers of such a town, than go home.

Afflictio pia magistra.—Affliction teacheth a wicked person some time to pray: prosperity never.

Deploratis facilis descensus Averni.—The devil take all.—Many might go to heaven with half the labour they go to hell, if they would venture their industry the right way; but "The devil take all!" quoth he that was choked in the mill-dam, with his four last words in his mouth.

AEgidius cursu superat.—A cripple in the way out-travels a footman or a post out of the way.

Prodigo nummi nauci.—Bags of money to a prodigal person are the same that cherry-stones are with some boys, and so thrown away.

Munda et sordida.—A woman, the more curious she is about her face is commonly the more careless about her house.

Debitum deploratum.—Of this spilt water there is a little to be gathered up: it is a desperate debt.

Latro sesquipedalis.—The thief {22} that had a longing at the gallows to commit one robbery more before he was hanged.

And like the German lord, when he went out of Newgate into the cart, took order to have his arms set up in his last herborough: said was he taken and committed upon suspicion of treason, no witness appearing against him; but the judges entertained him most civilly, discoursed with him, offered him the courtesy of the rack; but he confessed, &c.

Calumniae fructus.—I am beholden to calumny, that she hath so endeavoured and taken pains to belie me. It shall make me set a surer guard on myself, and keep a better watch upon my actions.

Impertinens.—A tedious person is one a man would leap a steeple from, gallop down any steep lull to avoid him; forsake his meat, sleep, nature itself, with all her benefits, to shun him. A mere impertinent; one that touched neither heaven nor earth in his discourse. He opened an entry into a fair room, but shut it again presently. I spoke to him of garlic, he answered asparagus; consulted him of marriage, he tells me of hanging, as if they went by one and the same destiny.

Bellum scribentium.—What a sight it is to see writers committed together by the ears for ceremonies, syllables, points, colons, commas, hyphens, and the like, fighting as for their fires and their altars; and angry that none are frighted at their noises and loud brayings under their asses' skins.

There is hope of getting a fortune without digging in these quarries. Sed meliore (in omne) ingenio animoque quam fortuna, sum usus. {23}

"Pingue solum lassat; sed juvat ipse labor." {24a}

Differentia inter doctos et sciolos.—Wits made out their several expeditions then for the discovery of truth, to find out great and profitable knowledges; had their several instruments for the disquisition of arts. Now there are certain scioli or smatterers that are busy in the skirts and outsides of learning, and have scarce anything of solid literature to commend them. They may have some edging or trimming of a scholar, a welt or so; but it is no more.

Impostorum fucus.—Imposture is a specious thing, yet never worse than when it feigns to be best, and to none discovered sooner than the simplest. For truth and goodness are plain and open; but imposture is ever ashamed of the light.

Icunculorum motio.—A puppet-play must be shadowed and seen in the dark; for draw the curtain, et sordet gesticulatio. {24b}

Principes et administri.—There is a great difference in the understanding of some princes, as in the quality of their ministers about them. Some would dress their masters in gold, pearl, and all true jewels of majesty; others furnish them with feathers, bells, and ribands, and are therefore esteemed the fitter servants. But they are ever good men that must make good the times; if the men be naught, the times will be such. Finis exspectandus est in unoquoque hominum; animali ad mutationem promptissmo. {25a}

Scitum Hispanicum.—It is a quick saying with the Spaniards, Artes inter haeredes non dividi. {25b} Yet these have inherited their fathers' lying, and they brag of it. He is a narrow-minded man that affects a triumph in any glorious study; but to triumph in a lie, and a lie themselves have forged, is frontless. Folly often goes beyond her bounds; but Impudence knows none.

Non nova res livor.—Envy is no new thing, nor was it born only in our times. The ages past have brought it forth, and the coming ages will. So long as there are men fit for it, quorum odium virtute relicta placet, it will never be wanting. It is a barbarous envy, to take from those men's virtues which, because thou canst not arrive at, thou impotently despairest to imitate. Is it a crime in me that I know that which others had not yet known but from me? or that I am the author of many things which never would have come in thy thought but that I taught them? It is new but a foolish way you have found out, that whom you cannot equal or come near in doing, you would destroy or ruin with evil speaking; as if you had bound both your wits and natures 'prentices to slander, and then came forth the best artificers when you could form the foulest calumnies.

Nil gratius protervo lib.—Indeed nothing is of more credit or request now than a petulant paper, or scoffing verses; and it is but convenient to the times and manners we live with, to have then the worst writings and studies flourish when the best begin to be despised. Ill arts begin where good end.

Jam literae sordent.—Pastus hodiern. ingen.—The time was when men would learn and study good things, not envy those that had them. Then men were had in price for learning; now letters only make men vile. He is upbraidingly called a poet, as if it were a contemptible nick-name: but the professors, indeed, have made the learning cheap—railing and tinkling rhymers, whose writings the vulgar more greedily read, as being taken with the scurrility and petulancy of such wits. He shall not have a reader now unless he jeer and lie. It is the food of men's natures; the diet of the times; gallants cannot sleep else. The writer must lie and the gentle reader rests happy to hear the worthiest works misinterpreted, the clearest actions obscured, the innocentest life traduced: and in such a licence of lying, a field so fruitful of slanders, how can there be matter wanting to his laughter? Hence comes the epidemical infection; for how can they escape the contagion of the writings, whom the virulency of the calumnies hath not staved off from reading?

Sed seculi morbus.—Nothing doth more invite a greedy reader than an unlooked-for subject. And what more unlooked-for than to see a person of an unblamed life made ridiculous or odious by the artifice of lying? But it is the disease of the age; and no wonder if the world, growing old, begin to be infirm: old age itself is a disease. It is long since the sick world began to dote and talk idly: would she had but doted still! but her dotage is now broke forth into a madness, and become a mere frenzy.

Alastoris malitia.—This Alastor, who hath left nothing unsearched or unassailed by his impudent and licentious lying in his aguish writings (for he was in his cold quaking fit all the while), what hath he done more than a troublesome base cur? barked and made a noise afar off; had a fool or two to spit in his mouth, and cherish him with a musty bone? But they are rather enemies of my fame than me, these barkers.

Mali Choragi fuere.—It is an art to have so much judgment as to apparel a lie well, to give it a good dressing; that though the nakedness would show deformed and odious, the suiting of it might draw their readers. Some love any strumpet, be she never so shop- like or meretricious, in good clothes. But these, nature could not have formed them better to destroy their own testimony and overthrow their calumny.

Hear-say news.—That an elephant, in 1630, came hither ambassador from the Great Mogul, who could both write and read, and was every day allowed twelve cast of bread, twenty quarts of Canary sack, besides nuts and almonds the citizens' wives sent him. That he had a Spanish boy to his interpreter, and his chief negociation was to confer or practise with Archy, the principal fool of state, about stealing hence Windsor Castle and carrying it away on his back if he can.

Lingua sapientis, potius quam loquentis.—A wise tongue should not be licentious and wandering; but moved and, as it were, governed with certain reins from the heart and bottom of the breast: and it was excellently said of that philosopher, that there was a wall or parapet of teeth set in our mouth, to restrain the petulancy of our words; that the rashness of talking should not only be retarded by the guard and watch of our heart, but be fenced in and defended by certain strengths placed in the mouth itself, and within the lips. But you shall see some so abound with words, without any seasoning or taste of matter, in so profound a security, as while they are speaking, for the most part they confess to speak they know not what.

Of the two (if either were to be wished) I would rather have a plain downright wisdom, than a foolish and affected eloquence. For what is so furious and Bedlam like as a vain sound of chosen and excellent words, without any subject of sentence or science mixed?

Optanda.—Thersites Homeri.—Whom the disease of talking still once possesseth, he can never hold his peace. Nay, rather than he will not discourse he will hire men to hear him. And so heard, not hearkened unto, he comes off most times like a mountebank, that when he hath praised his medicines, finds none will take them, or trust him. He is like Homer's Thersites.

[Greek text]; speaking without judgement or measure.

"Loquax magis, quam facundus, Satis loquentiae, sapientiae parum.{31a} [Greek verse]. {31b} Optimus est homini linguae thesaurus, et ingens Gratia, quae parcis mensurat singula verbis."

Homeri Ulysses.—Demacatus Plutarchi.—Ulysses, in Homer, is made a long-thinking man before he speaks; and Epaminondas is celebrated by Pindar to be a man that, though he knew much, yet he spoke but little. Demacatus, when on the bench he was long silent and said nothing, one asking him if it were folly in him, or want of language, he answered, "A fool could never hold his peace." {31c} For too much talking is ever the index of a fool.

"Dum tacet indoctus, poterit cordatus haberi; Is morbos animi namque tacendo tegit." {32a}

Nor is that worthy speech of Zeno the philosopher to be passed over with the note of ignorance; who being invited to a feast in Athens, where a great prince's ambassadors were entertained, and was the only person that said nothing at the table; one of them with courtesy asked him, "What shall we return from thee, Zeno, to the prince our master, if he asks us of thee?" "Nothing," he replied, "more but that you found an old man in Athens that knew to be silent amongst his cups." It was near a miracle to see an old man silent, since talking is the disease of age; but amongst cups makes it fully a wonder.

Argute dictum.—It was wittily said upon one that was taken for a great and grave man so long as he held his peace, "This man might have been a counsellor of state, till he spoke; but having spoken, not the beadle of the ward." [Greek text]. {32b} Pytag. quam laudabilis! [Greek text]. Linguam cohibe, prae aliis omnibus, ad deorum exemplum. {33a} Digito compesce labellum. {33b}

Acutius cernuntur vitia quam virtutes.—There is almost no man but he sees clearlier and sharper the vices in a speaker, than the virtues. And there are many, that with more ease will find fault with what is spoken foolishly than can give allowance to that wherein you are wise silently. The treasure of a fool is always in his tongue, said the witty comic poet; {33c} and it appears not in anything more than in that nation, whereof one, when he had got the inheritance of an unlucky old grange, would needs sell it; {33d} and to draw buyers proclaimed the virtues of it. Nothing ever thrived on it, saith he. No owner of it ever died in his bed; some hung, some drowned themselves; some were banished, some starved; the trees were all blasted; the swine died of the measles, the cattle of the murrain, the sheep of the rot; they that stood were ragged, bare, and bald as your hand; nothing was ever reared there, not a duckling, or a goose. Hospitium fuerat calamitatis. {34a} Was not this man like to sell it?

Vulgi expectatio.—Expectation of the vulgar is more drawn and held with newness than goodness; we see it in fencers, in players, in poets, in preachers, in all where fame promiseth anything; so it be new, though never so naught and depraved, they run to it, and are taken. Which shews, that the only decay or hurt of the best men's reputation with the people is, their wits have out-lived the people's palates. They have been too much or too long a feast.

Claritas patriae.—Greatness of name in the father oft-times helps not forth, but overwhelms the son; they stand too near one another. The shadow kills the growth: so much, that we see the grandchild come more and oftener to be heir of the first, than doth the second: he dies between; the possession is the third's.

Eloquentia.—Eloquence is a great and diverse thing: nor did she yet ever favour any man so much as to become wholly his. He is happy that can arrive to any degree of her grace. Yet there are who prove themselves masters of her, and absolute lords; but I believe they may mistake their evidence: for it is one thing to be eloquent in the schools, or in the hall; another at the bar, or in the pulpit. There is a difference between mooting and pleading; between fencing and fighting. To make arguments in my study, and confute them, is easy; where I answer myself, not an adversary. So I can see whole volumes dispatched by the umbratical doctors on all sides: but draw these forth into the just lists: let them appear sub dio, and they are changed with the place, like bodies bred in the shade; they cannot suffer the sun or a shower, nor bear the open air; they scarce can find themselves, that they were wont to domineer so among their auditors: but indeed I would no more choose a rhetorician for reigning in a school, than I would a pilot for rowing in a pond.

Amor et odium.—Love that is ignorant, and hatred, have almost the same ends: many foolish lovers wish the same to their friends, which their enemies would: as to wish a friend banished, that they might accompany him in exile; or some great want, that they might relieve him; or a disease, that they might sit by him. They make a causeway to their country by injury, as if it were not honester to do nothing than to seek a way to do good by a mischief.

Injuria.—Injuries do not extinguish courtesies: they only suffer them not to appear fair. For a man that doth me an injury after a courtesy, takes not away that courtesy, but defaces it: as he that writes other verses upon my verses, takes not away the first letters, but hides them.

Beneficia.—Nothing is a courtesy unless it be meant us; and that friendly and lovingly. We owe no thanks to rivers, that they carry our boats; or winds, that they be favouring and fill our sails; or meats, that they be nourishing. For these are what they are necessarily. Horses carry us, trees shade us, but they know it not. It is true, some men may receive a courtesy and not know it; but never any man received it from him that knew it not. Many men have been cured of diseases by accidents; but they were not remedies. I myself have known one helped of an ague by falling into a water; another whipped out of a fever; but no man would ever use these for medicines. It is the mind, and not the event, that distinguisheth the courtesy from wrong. My adversary may offend the judge with his pride and impertinences, and I win my cause; but he meant it not to me as a courtesy. I scaped pirates by being shipwrecked; was the wreck a benefit therefore? No; the doing of courtesies aright is the mixing of the respects for his own sake and for mine. He that doeth them merely for his own sake is like one that feeds his cattle to sell them; he hath his horse well dressed for Smithfield.

Valor rerum.—The price of many things is far above what they are bought and sold for. Life and health, which are both inestimable, we have of the physician; as learning and knowledge, the true tillage of the mind, from our schoolmasters. But the fees of the one or the salary of the other never answer the value of what we received, but served to gratify their labours.

Memoria.—Memory, of all the powers of the mind, is the most delicate and frail; it is the first of our faculties that age invades. Seneca, the father, the rhetorician, confesseth of himself he had a miraculous one, not only to receive but to hold. I myself could, in my youth, have repeated all that ever I had made, and so continued till I was past forty; since, it is much decayed in me. Yet I can repeat whole books that I have read, and poems of some selected friends which I have liked to charge my memory with. It was wont to be faithful to me; but shaken with age now, and sloth, which weakens the strongest abilities, it may perform somewhat, but cannot promise much. By exercise it is to be made better and serviceable. Whatsoever I pawned with it while I was young and a boy, it offers me readily, and without stops; but what I trust to it now, or have done of later years, it lays up more negligently, and oftentimes loses; so that I receive mine own (though frequently called for) as if it were new and borrowed. Nor do I always find presently from it what I seek; but while I am doing another thing, that I laboured for will come; and what I sought with trouble will offer itself when I am quiet. Now, in some men I have found it as happy as Nature, who, whatsoever they read or pen, they can say without book presently, as if they did then write in their mind. And it is more a wonder in such as have a swift style, for their memories are commonly slowest; such as torture their writings, and go into council for every word, must needs fix somewhat, and make it their own at last, though but through their own vexation.

Comit. suffragia.—Suffrages in Parliament are numbered, not weighed; nor can it be otherwise in those public councils where nothing is so unequal as the equality; for there, how odd soever men's brains or wisdoms are, their power is always even and the same.

Stare a partibus.—Some actions, be they never so beautiful and generous, are often obscured by base and vile misconstructions, either out of envy or ill-nature, that judgeth of others as of itself. Nay, the times are so wholly grown to be either partial or malicious, that if he be a friend all sits well about him, his very vices shall be virtues; if an enemy, or of the contrary faction, nothing is good or tolerable in him; insomuch that we care not to discredit and shame our judgments to soothe our passions.

Deus in creaturis.—Man is read in his face; God in His creatures; not as the philosopher, the creature of glory, reads him; but as the divine, the servant of humility; yet even he must take care not to be too curious. For to utter truth of God but as he thinks only, may be dangerous, who is best known by our not knowing. Some things of Him, so much as He hath revealed or commanded, it is not only lawful but necessary for us to know; for therein our ignorance was the first cause of our wickedness.

Veritas proprium hominis.—Truth is man's proper good, and the only immortal thing was given to our mortality to use. No good Christian or ethnic, if he be honest, can miss it; no statesman or patriot should. For without truth all the actions of mankind are craft, malice, or what you will, rather than wisdom. Homer says he hates him worse than hell-mouth that utters one thing with his tongue and keeps another in his breast. Which high expression was grounded on divine reason; for a lying mouth is a stinking pit, and murders with the contagion it venteth. Beside, nothing is lasting that is feigned; it will have another face than it had, ere long. {41} As Euripides saith, "No lie ever grows old."

Nullum vitium sine patrocinio.—It is strange there should be no vice without its patronage, that when we have no other excuse we will say, we love it, we cannot forsake it. As if that made it not more a fault. We cannot, because we think we cannot, and we love it because we will defend it. We will rather excuse it than be rid of it. That we cannot is pretended; but that we will not is the true reason. How many have I known that would not have their vices hid? nay, and, to be noted, live like Antipodes to others in the same city? never see the sun rise or set in so many years, but be as they were watching a corpse by torch-light; would not sin the common way, but held that a kind of rusticity; they would do it new, or contrary, for the infamy; they were ambitious of living backward; and at last arrived at that, as they would love nothing but the vices, not the vicious customs. It was impossible to reform these natures; they were dried and hardened in their ill. They may say they desired to leave it, but do not trust them; and they may think they desire it, but they may lie for all that; they are a little angry with their follies now and then; marry, they come into grace with them again quickly. They will confess they are offended with their manner of living like enough; who is not? When they can put me in security that they are more than offended, that they hate it, then I will hearken to them, and perhaps believe them; but many now- a-days love and hate their ill together.

De vere argutis.—I do hear them say often some men are not witty, because they are not everywhere witty; than which nothing is more foolish. If an eye or a nose be an excellent part in the face, therefore be all eye or nose! I think the eyebrow, the forehead, the cheek, chin, lip, or any part else are as necessary and natural in the place. But now nothing is good that is natural; right and natural language seems to have least of the wit in it; that which is writhed and tortured is counted the more exquisite. Cloth of bodkin or tissue must be embroidered; as if no face were fair that were not powdered or painted! no beauty to be had but in wresting and writhing our own tongue! Nothing is fashionable till it be deformed; and this is to write like a gentleman. All must be affected and preposterous as our gallants' clothes, sweet-bags, and night-dressings, in which you would think our men lay in, like ladies, it is so curious.

Censura de poetis.—Nothing in our age, I have observed, is more preposterous than the running judgments upon poetry and poets; when we shall hear those things commended and cried up for the best writings which a man would scarce vouchsafe to wrap any wholesome drug in; he would never light his tobacco with them. And those men almost named for miracles, who yet are so vile that if a man should go about to examine and correct them, he must make all they have done but one blot. Their good is so entangled with their bad as forcibly one must draw on the other's death with it. A sponge dipped in ink will do all:-

"—Comitetur Punica librum Spongia.—" {44a}

Et paulo post,

"Non possunt . . . multae . . . liturae . . . una litura potest."

Cestius—Cicero—Heath—Taylor—Spenser.—Yet their vices have not hurt them; nay, a great many they have profited, for they have been loved for nothing else. And this false opinion grows strong against the best men, if once it take root with the ignorant. Cestius, in his time, was preferred to Cicero, so far as the ignorant durst. They learned him without book, and had him often in their mouths; but a man cannot imagine that thing so foolish or rude but will find and enjoy an admirer; at least a reader or spectator. The puppets are seen now in despite of the players; Heath's epigrams and the Sculler's poems have their applause. There are never wanting that dare prefer the worst preachers, the worst pleaders, the worst poets; not that the better have left to write or speak better, but that they that hear them judge worse; Non illi pejus dicunt, sed hi corruptius judicant. Nay, if it were put to the question of the water-rhymer's works, against Spenser's, I doubt not but they would find more suffrages; because the most favour common vices, out of a prerogative the vulgar have to lose their judgments and like that which is naught.

Poetry, in this latter age, hath proved but a mean mistress to such as have wholly addicted themselves to her, or given their names up to her family. They who have but saluted her on the by, and now and then tendered their visits, she hath done much for, and advanced in the way of their own professions (both the law and the gospel) beyond all they could have hoped or done for themselves without her favour. Wherein she doth emulate the judicious but preposterous bounty of the time's grandees, who accumulate all they can upon the parasite or fresh-man in their friendship; but think an old client or honest servant bound by his place to write and starve.

Indeed, the multitude commend writers as they do fencers or wrestlers, who if they come in robustiously and put for it with a deal of violence are received for the braver fellows; when many times their own rudeness is a cause of their disgrace, and a slight touch of their adversary gives all that boisterous force the foil. But in these things the unskilful are naturally deceived, and judging wholly by the bulk, think rude things greater than polished, and scattered more numerous than composed; nor think this only to be true in the sordid multitude, but the neater sort of our gallants; for all are the multitude, only they differ in clothes, not in judgment or understanding.

De Shakspeare nostrat.—Augustus in Hat.—I remember the players have often mentioned it as an honour to Shakspeare, that in his writing (whatsoever he penned) he never blotted out a line. My answer hath been, "Would he had blotted a thousand," which they thought a malevolent speech. I had not told posterity this but for their ignorance who chose that circumstance to commend their friend by wherein he most faulted; and to justify mine own candour, for I loved the man, and do honour his memory on this side idolatry as much as any. He was, indeed, honest, and of an open and free nature, had an excellent phantasy, brave notions, and gentle expressions, wherein he flowed with that facility that sometimes it was necessary he should be stopped. "Sufflaminandus erat," {47a} as Augustus said of Haterius. His wit was in his own power; would the rule of it had been so, too. Many times he fell into those things, could not escape laughter, as when he said in the person of Caesar, one speaking to him, "Caesar, thou dost me wrong." He replied, "Caesar did never wrong but with just cause;" and such like, which were ridiculous. But he redeemed his vices with his virtues. There was ever more in him to be praised than to be pardoned.

Ingeniorum discrimina.—Not. 1.—In the difference of wits I have observed there are many notes; and it is a little maistry to know them, to discern what every nature, every disposition will bear; for before we sow our land we should plough it. There are no fewer forms of minds than of bodies amongst us. The variety is incredible, and therefore we must search. Some are fit to make divines, some poets, some lawyers, some physicians; some to be sent to the plough, and trades.

There is no doctrine will do good where nature is wanting. Some wits are swelling and high; others low and still; some hot and fiery; others cold and dull; one must have a bridle, the other a spur.

Not. 2.—There be some that are forward and bold; and these will do every little thing easily. I mean that is hard by and next them, which they will utter unretarded without any shamefastness. These never perform much, but quickly. They are what they are on the sudden; they show presently, like grain that, scattered on the top of the ground, shoots up, but takes no root; has a yellow blade, but the ear empty. They are wits of good promise at first, but there is an ingenistitium; {49a} they stand still at sixteen, they get no higher.

Not. 3.—You have others that labour only to ostentation; and are ever more busy about the colours and surface of a work than in the matter and foundation, for that is hid, the other is seen.

Not. 4.—Others that in composition are nothing but what is rough and broken. Quae per salebras, altaque saxa cadunt. {49b} And if it would come gently, they trouble it of purpose. They would not have it run without rubs, as if that style were more strong and manly that struck the ear with a kind of unevenness. These men err not by chance, but knowingly and willingly; they are like men that affect a fashion by themselves; have some singularity in a ruff cloak, or hat-band; or their beards specially cut to provoke beholders, and set a mark upon themselves. They would be reprehended while they are looked on. And this vice, one that is authority with the rest, loving, delivers over to them to be imitated; so that ofttimes the faults which be fell into the others seek for. This is the danger, when vice becomes a precedent.

Not. 5.—Others there are that have no composition at all; but a kind of tuning and rhyming fall in what they write. It runs and slides, and only makes a sound. Women's poets they are called, as you have women's tailors.

"They write a verse as smooth, as soft as cream, In which there is no torrent, nor scarce stream."

You may sound these wits and find the depth of them with your middle finger. They are cream-bowl or but puddle-deep.

Not. 6.—Some that turn over all books, and are equally searching in all papers; that write out of what they presently find or meet, without choice. By which means it happens that what they have discredited and impugned in one week, they have before or after extolled the same in another. Such are all the essayists, even their master Montaigne. These, in all they write, confess still what books they have read last, and therein their own folly so much, that they bring it to the stake raw and undigested; not that the place did need it neither, but that they thought themselves furnished and would vent it

Not. 7.—Some, again who, after they have got authority, or, which is less, opinion, by their writings, to have read much, dare presently to feign whole books and authors, and lie safely. For what never was, will not easily be found, not by the most curious.

Not. 8.—And some, by a cunning protestation against all reading, and false venditation of their own naturals, think to divert the sagacity of their readers from themselves, and cool the scent of their own fox-like thefts; when yet they are so rank, as a man may find whole pages together usurped from one author; their necessities compelling them to read for present use, which could not be in many books; and so come forth more ridiculously and palpably guilty than those who, because they cannot trace, they yet would slander their industry.

Not. 9.—But the wretcheder are the obstinate contemners of all helps and arts; such as presuming on their own naturals (which, perhaps, are excellent), dare deride all diligence, and seem to mock at the terms when they understand not the things; thinking that way to get off wittily with their ignorance. These are imitated often by such as are their peers in negligence, though they cannot be in nature; and they utter all they can think with a kind of violence and indisposition, unexamined, without relation either to person, place, or any fitness else; and the more wilful and stubborn they are in it the more learned they are esteemed of the multitude, through their excellent vice of judgment, who think those things the stronger that have no art; as if to break were better than to open, or to rend asunder gentler than to loose.

Not. 10.—It cannot but come to pass that these men who commonly seek to do more than enough may sometimes happen on something that is good and great; but very seldom: and when it comes it doth not recompense the rest of their ill. For their jests, and their sentences (which they only and ambitiously seek for) stick out, and are more eminent, because all is sordid and vile about them; as lights are more discerned in a thick darkness than a faint shadow. Now, because they speak all they can (however unfitly), they are thought to have the greater copy; where the learned use ever election and a mean, they look back to what they intended at first, and make all an even and proportioned body. The true artificer will not run away from Nature as he were afraid of her, or depart from life and the likeness of truth, but speak to the capacity of his hearers. And though his language differ from the vulgar somewhat, it shall not fly from all humanity, with the Tamerlanes and Tamer- chains of the late age, which had nothing in them but the scenical strutting and furious vociferation to warrant them to the ignorant gapers. He knows it is his only art so to carry it, as none but artificers perceive it. In the meantime, perhaps, he is called barren, dull, lean, a poor writer, or by what contumelious word can come in their cheeks, by these men who, without labour, judgment, knowledge, or almost sense, are received or preferred before him. He gratulates them and their fortune. Another age, or juster men, will acknowledge the virtues of his studies, his wisdom in dividing, his subtlety in arguing, with what strength he doth inspire his readers, with what sweetness he strokes them; in inveighing, what sharpness; in jest, what urbanity he uses; how he doth reign in men's affections; how invade and break in upon them, and makes their minds like the thing he writes. Then in his elocution to behold what word is proper, which hath ornaments, which height, what is beautifully translated, where figures are fit, which gentle, which strong, to show the composition manly; and how he hath avoided faint, obscure, obscene, sordid, humble, improper, or effeminate phrase; which is not only praised of the most, but commended (which is worse), especially for that it is naught.

Ignorantia animae.—I know no disease of the soul but ignorance, not of the arts and sciences, but of itself; yet relating to those it is a pernicious evil, the darkener of man's life, the disturber of his reason, and common confounder of truth, with which a man goes groping in the dark, no otherwise than if he were blind. Great understandings are most racked and troubled with it; nay, sometimes they will rather choose to die than not to know the things they study for. Think, then, what an evil it is, and what good the contrary.

Scientia.—Knowledge is the action of the soul and is perfect without the senses, as having the seeds of all science and virtue in itself; but not without the service of the senses; by these organs the soul works: she is a perpetual agent, prompt and subtle; but often flexible and erring, entangling herself like a silkworm, but her reason is a weapon with two edges, and cuts through. In her indagations oft-times new scents put her by, and she takes in errors into her by the same conduits she doth truths.

Otium Studiorum.—Ease and relaxation are profitable to all studies. The mind is like a bow, the stronger by being unbent. But the temper in spirits is all, when to command a man's wit, when to favour it. I have known a man vehement on both sides, that knew no mean, either to intermit his studies or call upon them again. When he hath set himself to writing he would join night to day, press upon himself without release, not minding it, till he fainted; and when he left off, resolve himself into all sports and looseness again, that it was almost a despair to draw him to his book; but once got to it, he grew stronger and more earnest by the ease. His whole powers were renewed; he would work out of himself what he desired, but with such excess as his study could not be ruled; he knew not how to dispose his own abilities, or husband them; he was of that immoderate power against himself. Nor was he only a strong, but an absolute speaker and writer; but his subtlety did not show itself; his judgment thought that a vice; for the ambush hurts more that is hid. He never forced his language, nor went out of the highway of speaking but for some great necessity or apparent profit; for he denied figures to be invented for ornament, but for aid; and still thought it an extreme madness to bind or wrest that which ought to be right.

Stili eminentia.—Virgil.—Tully.—Sallust.—It is no wonder men's eminence appears but in their own way. Virgil's felicity left him in prose, as Tully's forsook him in verse. Sallust's orations are read in the honour of story, yet the most eloquent. Plato's speech, which he made for Socrates, is neither worthy of the patron nor the person defended. Nay, in the same kind of oratory, and where the matter is one, you shall have him that reasons strongly, open negligently; another that prepares well, not fit so well. And this happens not only to brains, but to bodies. One can wrestle well, another run well, a third leap or throw the bar, a fourth lift or stop a cart going; each hath his way of strength. So in other creatures—some dogs are for the deer, some for the wild boar, some are fox-hounds, some otter-hounds. Nor are all horses for the coach or saddle, some are for the cart and paniers.

De Claris Oratoribus.—I have known many excellent men that would speak suddenly to the admiration of their hearers, who upon study and premeditation have been forsaken by their own wits, and no way answered their fame; their eloquence was greater than their reading, and the things they uttered better than those they knew; their fortune deserved better of them than their care. For men of present spirits, and of greater wits than study, do please more in the things they invent than in those they bring. And I have heard some of them compelled to speak, out of necessity, that have so infinitely exceeded themselves, as it was better both for them and their auditory that they were so surprised, not prepared. Nor was it safe then to cross them, for their adversary, their anger made them more eloquent. Yet these men I could not but love and admire, that they returned to their studies. They left not diligence (as many do) when their rashness prospered; for diligence is a great aid, even to an indifferent wit; when we are not contented with the examples of our own age, but would know the face of the former. Indeed, the more we confer with the more we profit by, if the persons be chosen.

Dominus Verulamius.—One, though he be excellent and the chief, is not to be imitated alone; for no imitator ever grew up to his author; likeness is always on this side truth. Yet there happened in my time one noble speaker who was full of gravity in his speaking; his language (where he could spare or pass by a jest) was nobly censorious. No man ever spake more neatly, more pressly, more weightily, or suffered less emptiness, less idleness, in what he uttered. No member of his speech but consisted of his own graces. His hearers could not cough, or look aside from him, without loss. He commanded where he spoke, and had his judges angry and pleased at his devotion. No man had their affections more in his power. The fear of every man that heard him was lest he should make an end.

Scriptorum catalogus. {59a} Cicero is said to be the only wit that the people of Rome had equalled to their empire. Ingenium par imperio. We have had many, and in their several ages (to take in but the former seculum) Sir Thomas More, the elder Wiat, Henry Earl of Surrey, Chaloner, Smith, Eliot, B. Gardiner, were for their times admirable; and the more, because they began eloquence with us. Sir Nicolas Bacon was singular, and almost alone, in the beginning of Queen Elizabeth's time. Sir Philip Sidney and Mr. Hooker (in different matter) grew great masters of wit and language, and in whom all vigour of invention and strength of judgment met. The Earl of Essex, noble and high; and Sir Walter Raleigh, not to be contemned, either for judgment or style. Sir Henry Savile, grave, and truly lettered; Sir Edwin Sandys, excellent in both; Lord Egerton, the Chancellor, a grave and great orator, and best when he was provoked; but his learned and able (though unfortunate) successor is he who hath filled up all numbers, and performed that in our tongue which may be compared or preferred either to insolent Greece or haughty Rome. In short, within his view, and about his times, were all the wits born that could honour a language or help study. Now things daily fall, wits grow downward, and eloquence grows backward; so that he may be named and stand as the mark and [Greek text] of our language.

De augmentis scientiarum.—Julius Caesar.—Lord St. Alban.—I have ever observed it to have been the office of a wise patriot, among the greatest affairs of the State, to take care of the commonwealth of learning. For schools, they are the seminaries of State; and nothing is worthier the study of a statesman than that part of the republic which we call the advancement of letters. Witness the care of Julius Caesar, who, in the heat of the civil war, writ his books of Analogy, and dedicated them to Tully. This made the late Lord St. Alban entitle his work Novum Organum; which, though by the most of superficial men, who cannot get beyond the title of nominals, it is not penetrated nor understood, it really openeth all defects of learning whatsoever, and is a book

"Qui longum note scriptori proroget aevum." {62a}

My conceit of his person was never increased toward him by his place or honours; but I have and do reverence him for the greatness that was only proper to himself, in that he seemed to me ever, by his work, one of the greatest men, and most worthy of admiration, that had been in many ages. In his adversity I ever prayed that God would give him strength; for greatness he could not want. Neither could I condole in a word or syllable for him, as knowing no accident could do harm to virtue, but rather help to make it manifest.

De corruptela morum.—There cannot be one colour of the mind, another of the wit. If the mind be staid, grave, and composed, the wit is so; that vitiated, the other is blown and deflowered. Do we not see, if the mind languish, the members are dull? Look upon an effeminate person, his very gait confesseth him. If a man be fiery, his motion is so; if angry, it is troubled and violent. So that we may conclude wheresoever manners and fashions are corrupted, language is. It imitates the public riot. The excess of feasts and apparel are the notes of a sick state, and the wantonness of language of a sick mind.

De rebus mundanis.—If we would consider what our affairs are indeed, not what they are called, we should find more evils belonging to us than happen to us. How often doth that which was called a calamity prove the beginning and cause of a man's happiness? and, on the contrary, that which happened or came to another with great gratulation and applause, how it hath lifted him but a step higher to his ruin? as if he stood before where he might fall safely.

Vulgi mores.—Morbus comitialis.—The vulgar are commonly ill- natured, and always grudging against their governors: which makes that a prince has more business and trouble with them than ever Hercules had with the bull or any other beast; by how much they have more heads than will be reined with one bridle. There was not that variety of beasts in the ark, as is of beastly natures in the multitude; especially when they come to that iniquity to censure their sovereign's actions. Then all the counsels are made good or bad by the events; and it falleth out that the same facts receive from them the names, now of diligence, now of vanity, now of majesty, now of fury; where they ought wholly to hang on his mouth, as he to consist of himself, and not others' counsels.

Princeps.—After God, nothing is to be loved of man like the prince; he violates Nature that doth it not with his whole heart. For when he hath put on the care of the public good and common safety, I am a wretch, and put off man, if I do not reverence and honour him, in whose charge all things divine and human are placed. Do but ask of Nature why all living creatures are less delighted with meat and drink that sustains them than with venery that wastes them? and she will tell thee, the first respects but a private, the other a common good, propagation.

De eodem.—Orpheus' Hymn.—He is the arbiter of life and death: when he finds no other subject for his mercy, he should spare himself. All his punishments are rather to correct than to destroy. Why are prayers with Orpheus said to be the daughters of Jupiter, but that princes are thereby admonished that the petitions of the wretched ought to have more weight with them than the laws themselves.

De opt. Rege Jacobo.—It was a great accumulation to His Majesty's deserved praise that men might openly visit and pity those whom his greatest prisons had at any time received or his laws condemned.

De Princ. adjunctis.—Sed vere prudens haud concipi possit Princeps, nisi simul et bonus.—Lycurgus.—Sylla.—Lysander.—Cyrus.—Wise is rather the attribute of a prince than learned or good. The learned man profits others rather than himself; the good man rather himself than others; but the prince commands others, and doth himself.

The wise Lycurgus gave no law but what himself kept. Sylla and Lysander did not so; the one living extremely dissolute himself, enforced frugality by the laws; the other permitted those licenses to others which himself abstained from. But the prince's prudence is his chief art and safety. In his counsels and deliberations he foresees the future times: in the equity of his judgment he hath remembrance of the past, and knowledge of what is to be done or avoided for the present. Hence the Persians gave out their Cyrus to have been nursed by a bitch, a creature to encounter it, as of sagacity to seek out good; showing that wisdom may accompany fortitude, or it leaves to be, and puts on the name of rashness.

De malign. studentium.—There be some men are born only to suck out the poison of books: Habent venenum pro victu; imo, pro deliciis. {66a} And such are they that only relish the obscene and foul things in poets, which makes the profession taxed. But by whom? Men that watch for it; and, had they not had this hint, are so unjust valuers of letters as they think no learning good but what brings in gain. It shows they themselves would never have been of the professions they are but for the profits and fees. But if another learning, well used, can instruct to good life, inform manners, no less persuade and lead men than they threaten and compel, and have no reward, is it therefore the worst study? I could never think the study of wisdom confined only to the philosopher, or of piety to the divine, or of state to the politic; but that he which can feign a commonwealth (which is the poet) can govern it with counsels, strengthen it with laws, correct it with judgments, inform it with religion and morals, is all these. We do not require in him mere elocution, or an excellent faculty in verse, but the exact knowledge of all virtues and their contraries, with ability to render the one loved, the other hated, by his proper embattling them. The philosophers did insolently, to challenge only to themselves that which the greatest generals and gravest counsellors never durst. For such had rather do than promise the best things.

Controvers. scriptores.—More Andabatarum qui clausis oculis pugnant.—Some controverters in divinity are like swaggerers in a tavern that catch that which stands next them, the candlestick or pots; turn everything into a weapon: ofttimes they fight blindfold, and both beat the air. The one milks a he-goat, the other holds under a sieve. Their arguments are as fluxive as liquor spilt upon a table, which with your finger you may drain as you will. Such controversies or disputations (carried with more labour than profit) are odious; where most times the truth is lost in the midst or left untouched. And the fruit of their fight is, that they spit one upon another, and are both defiled. These fencers in religion I like not.

Morbi.—The body hath certain diseases that are with less evil tolerated than removed. As if to cure a leprosy a man should bathe himself with the warm blood of a murdered child, so in the Church some errors may be dissimuled with less inconvenience than they can be discovered.

Jactantia intempestiva.—Men that talk of their own benefits are not believed to talk of them because they have done them; but to have done them because they might talk of them. That which had been great, if another had reported it of them, vanisheth, and is nothing, if he that did it speak of it. For men, when they cannot destroy the deed, will yet be glad to take advantage of the boasting, and lessen it.

Adulatio.—I have seen that poverty makes me do unfit things; but honest men should not do them; they should gain otherwise. Though a man be hungry, he should not play the parasite. That hour wherein I would repent me to be honest, there were ways enough open for me to be rich. But flattery is a fine pick-lock of tender ears; especially of those whom fortune hath borne high upon their wings, that submit their dignity and authority to it, by a soothing of themselves. For, indeed, men could never be taken in that abundance with the springes of others' flattery, if they began not there; if they did but remember how much more profitable the bitterness of truth were, than all the honey distilling from a whorish voice, which is not praise, but poison. But now it is come to that extreme folly, or rather madness, with some, that he that flatters them modestly or sparingly is thought to malign them. If their friend consent not to their vices, though he do not contradict them, he is nevertheless an enemy. When they do all things the worst way, even then they look for praise. Nay, they will hire fellows to flatter them with suits and suppers, and to prostitute their judgments. They have livery-friends, friends of the dish, and of the spit, that wait their turns, as my lord has his feasts and guests.

De vita humana.—I have considered our whole life is like a play: wherein every man forgetful of himself, is in travail with expression of another. Nay, we so insist in imitating others, as we cannot when it is necessary return to ourselves; like children, that imitate the vices of stammerers so long, till at last they become such; and make the habit to another nature, as it is never forgotten.

De piis et probis.—Good men are the stars, the planets of the ages wherein they live and illustrate the times. God did never let them be wanting to the world: as Abel, for an example of innocency, Enoch of purity, Noah of trust in God's mercies, Abraham of faith, and so of the rest. These, sensual men thought mad because they would not be partakers or practisers of their madness. But they, placed high on the top of all virtue, looked down on the stage of the world and contemned the play of fortune. For though the most be players, some must be spectators.

Mores aulici.—I have discovered that a feigned familiarity in great ones is a note of certain usurpation on the less. For great and popular men feign themselves to be servants to others to make those slaves to them. So the fisher provides bait for the trout, roach, dace, &c., that they may be food to him.

Impiorum querela.—Augusties.—Varus.—Tiberius.—The complaint of Caligula was most wicked of the condition of his times, when he said they were not famous for any public calamity, as the reign of Augustus was, by the defeat of Varus and the legions; and that of Tiberius, by the falling of the theatre at Fidenae; whilst his oblivion was eminent through the prosperity of his affairs. As that other voice of his was worthier a headsman than a head when he wished the people of Rome had but one neck. But he found when he fell they had many hands. A tyrant, how great and mighty soever he may seem to cowards and sluggards, is but one creature, one animal.

Nobilium ingenia.—I have marked among the nobility some are so addicted to the service of the prince and commonwealth, as they look not for spoil; such are to be honoured and loved. There are others which no obligation will fasten on; and they are of two sorts. The first are such as love their own ease; or, out of vice, of nature, or self-direction, avoid business and care. Yet these the prince may use with safety. The other remove themselves upon craft and design, as the architects say, with a premeditated thought, to their own rather than their prince's profit. Such let the prince take heed of, and not doubt to reckon in the list of his open enemies.

Principum. varia.—Firmissima vero omnium basis jus haereditarium Principis.—There is a great variation between him that is raised to the sovereignty by the favour of his peers and him that comes to it by the suffrage of the people. The first holds with more difficulty, because he hath to do with many that think themselves his equals, and raised him for their own greatness and oppression of the rest. The latter hath no upbraiders, but was raised by them that sought to be defended from oppression: whose end is both easier and the honester to satisfy. Beside, while he hath the people to friend, who are a multitude, he hath the less fear of the nobility, who are but few. Nor let the common proverb (of he that builds on the people builds on the dirt) discredit my opinion: for that hath only place where an ambitious and private person, for some popular end, trusts in them against the public justice and magistrate. There they will leave him. But when a prince governs them, so as they have still need of his administrations (for that is his art), he shall ever make and hold them faithful.

Clementia.—Machiavell.—A prince should exercise his cruelty not by himself but by his ministers; so he may save himself and his dignity with his people by sacrificing those when he list, saith the great doctor of state, Machiavell. But I say he puts off man and goes into a beast, that is cruel. No virtue is a prince's own, or becomes him more, than this clemency: and no glory is greater than to be able to save with his power. Many punishments sometimes, and in some cases, as much discredit a prince, as many funerals a physician. The state of things is secured by clemency; severity represseth a few, but irritates more. {74a} The lopping of trees makes the boughs shoot out thicker; and the taking away of some kind of enemies increaseth the number. It is then most gracious in a prince to pardon when many about him would make him cruel; to think then how much he can save when others tell him how much he can destroy; not to consider what the impotence of others hath demolished, but what his own greatness can sustain. These are a prince's virtues: and they that give him other counsels are but the hangman's factors.

Clementia tutela optima.—He that is cruel to halves (saith the said St. Nicholas {74b}) loseth no less the opportunity of his cruelty than of his benefits: for then to use his cruelty is too late; and to use his favours will be interpreted fear and necessity, and so he loseth the thanks. Still the counsel is cruelty. But princes, by hearkening to cruel counsels, become in time obnoxious to the authors, their flatterers, and ministers; and are brought to that, that when they would, they dare not change them; they must go on and defend cruelty with cruelty; they cannot alter the habit. It is then grown necessary, they must be as ill as those have made them: and in the end they will grow more hateful to themselves than to their subjects. Whereas, on the contrary, the merciful prince is safe in love, not in fear. He needs no emissaries, spies, intelligencers to entrap true subjects. He fears no libels, no treasons. His people speak what they think, and talk openly what they do in secret. They have nothing in their breasts that they need a cypher for. He is guarded with his own benefits.

Religio. Palladium Homeri.—Euripides.—The strength of empire is in religion. What else is the Palladium (with Homer) that kept Troy so long from sacking? Nothing more commends the Sovereign to the subject than it. For he that is religious must be merciful and just necessarily: and they are two strong ties upon mankind. Justice the virtue that innocence rejoiceth in. Yet even that is not always so safe, but it may love to stand in the sight of mercy. For sometimes misfortune is made a crime, and then innocence is succoured no less than virtue. Nay, oftentimes virtue is made capital; and through the condition of the times it may happen that that may be punished with our praise. Let no man therefore murmur at the actions of the prince, who is placed so far above him. If he offend, he hath his discoverer. God hath a height beyond him. But where the prince is good, Euripides saith, "God is a guest in a human body."

Tyranni.—Sejanus.—There is nothing with some princes sacred above their majesty, or profane, but what violates their sceptres. But a prince, with such a council, is like the god Terminus, of stone, his own landmark, or (as it is in the fable) a crowned lion. It is dangerous offending such a one, who, being angry, knows not how to forgive; that cares not to do anything for maintaining or enlarging of empire; kills not men or subjects, but destroyeth whole countries, armies, mankind, male and female, guilty or not guilty, holy or profane; yea, some that have not seen the light. All is under the law of their spoil and licence. But princes that neglect their proper office thus their fortune is oftentimes to draw a Sejanus to be near about them, who at last affect to get above them, and put them in a worthy fear of rooting both them out and their family. For no men hate an evil prince more than they that helped to make him such. And none more boastingly weep his ruin than they that procured and practised it. The same path leads to ruin which did to rule when men profess a licence in government. A good king is a public servant.

Illiteratus princeps.—A prince without letters is a pilot without eyes. All his government is groping. In sovereignty it is a most happy thing not to be compelled; but so it is the most miserable not to be counselled. And how can he be counselled that cannot see to read the best counsellors (which are books), for they neither flatter us nor hide from us? He may hear, you will say; but how shall he always be sure to hear truth, or be counselled the best things, not the sweetest? They say princes learn no art truly but the art of horsemanship. The reason is the brave beast is no flatterer. He will throw a prince as soon as his groom. Which is an argument that the good counsellors to princes are the best instruments of a good age. For though the prince himself be of a most prompt inclination to all virtue, yet the best pilots have needs of mariners besides sails, anchor, and other tackle.

Character principis.—Alexander magnus.—If men did know what shining fetters, gilded miseries, and painted happiness thrones and sceptres were there would not be so frequent strife about the getting or holding of them; there would be more principalities than princes; for a prince is the pastor of the people. He ought to shear, not to flay his sheep; to take their fleeces, not their the soul of the commonwealth, and ought to cherish it as his own body. Alexander the Great was wont to say, "He hated that gardener that plucked his herbs or flowers up by the roots." A man may milk a beast till the blood come; churn milk and it yieldeth butter, but wring the nose and the blood followeth. He is an ill prince that so pulls his subjects' feathers as he would not have them grow again; that makes his exchequer a receipt for the spoils of those he governs. No, let him keep his own, not affect his subjects'; strive rather to be called just than powerful. Not, like the Roman tyrants, affect the surnames that grow by human slaughters; neither to seek war in peace, nor peace in war, but to observe faith given, though to an enemy. Study piety toward the subject; show care to defend him. Be slow to punish in divers cases, but be a sharp and severe revenger of open crimes. Break no decrees or dissolve no orders to slacken the strength of laws. Choose neither magistrates, civil or ecclesiastical, by favour or price; but with long disquisition and report of their worth by all suffrages. Sell no honours, nor give them hastily, but bestow them with counsel and for reward; if he do, acknowledge it (though late), and mend it. For princes are easy to be deceived; and what wisdom can escape where so many court-arts are studied? But, above all, the prince is to remember that when the great day of account comes, which neither magistrate nor prince can shun, there will be required of him a reckoning for those whom he hath trusted, as for himself, which he must provide. And if piety be wanting in the priests, equity in the judges, or the magistrates be found rated at a price, what justice or religion is to be expected? which are the only two attributes make kings akin to God, and is the Delphic sword, both to kill sacrifices and to chastise offenders.

De gratiosis.—When a virtuous man is raised, it brings gladness to his friends, grief to his enemies, and glory to his posterity. Nay, his honours are a great part of the honour of the times; when by this means he is grown to active men an example, to the slothful a spur, to the envious a punishment.

Divites.—Heredes ex asse. He which is sole heir to many rich men, having (besides his father's and uncle's) the estates of divers his kindred come to him by accession, must needs be richer than father or grandfather; so they which are left heirs ex asse of all their ancestors' vices, and by their good husbandry improve the old and daily purchase new, must needs be wealthier in vice, and have a greater revenue or stock of ill to spend on.

Fures publici.—The great thieves of a state are lightly the officers of the crown; they hang the less still, play the pikes in the pond, eat whom they list. The net was never spread for the hawk or buzzard that hurt us, but the harmless birds; they are good meat:-

"Dat veniam corvis, vexat censura columbas." {81a} "Non rete accipitri tenditur, neque milvio." {81b}

Lewis XI.—But they are not always safe though, especially when they meet with wise masters. They can take down all the huff and swelling of their looks, and like dexterous auditors place the counter where he shall value nothing. Let them but remember Lewis XI., who to a Clerk of the Exchequer that came to be Lord Treasurer, and had (for his device) represented himself sitting on fortune's wheel, told him he might do well to fasten it with a good strong nail, lest, turning about, it might bring him where he was again. As indeed it did.

De bonis et malis.—De innocentia.—A good man will avoid the spot of any sin. The very aspersion is grievous, which makes him choose his way in his life as he would in his journey. The ill man rides through all confidently; he is coated and booted for it. The oftener he offends, the more openly, and the fouler, the fitter in fashion. His modesty, like a riding-coat, the more it is worn is the less cared for. It is good enough for the dirt still, and the ways he travels in. An innocent man needs no eloquence, his innocence is instead of it, else I had never come off so many times from these precipices, whither men's malice hath pursued me. It is true I have been accused to the lords, to the king, and by great ones, but it happened my accusers had not thought of the accusation with themselves, and so were driven, for want of crimes, to use invention, which was found slander, or too late (being entered so fair) to seek starting-holes for their rashness, which were not given them. And then they may think what accusation that was like to prove, when they that were the engineers feared to be the authors. Nor were they content to feign things against me, but to urge things, feigned by the ignorant, against my profession, which though, from their hired and mercenary impudence, I might have passed by as granted to a nation of barkers that let out their tongues to lick others' sores; yet I durst not leave myself undefended, having a pair of ears unskilful to hear lies, or have those things said of me which I could truly prove of them. They objected making of verses to me, when I could object to most of them, their not being able to read them, but as worthy of scorn. Nay, they would offer to urge mine own writings against me, but by pieces (which was an excellent way of malice), as if any man's context might not seem dangerous and offensive, if that which was knit to what went before were defrauded of his beginning; or that things by themselves uttered might not seem subject to calumny, which read entire would appear most free. At last they upbraided my poverty: I confess she is my domestic; sober of diet, simple of habit, frugal, painful, a good counseller to me, that keeps me from cruelty, pride, or other more delicate impertinences, which are the nurse-children of riches. But let them look over all the great and monstrous wickednesses, they shall never find those in poor families. They are the issue of the wealthy giants and the mighty hunters, whereas no great work, or worthy of praise or memory, but came out of poor cradles. It was the ancient poverty that founded commonweals, built cities, invented arts, made wholesome laws, armed men against vices, rewarded them with their own virtues, and preserved the honour and state of nations, till they betrayed themselves to riches.

Amor nummi.—Money never made any man rich, but his mind. He that can order himself to the law of Nature is not only without the sense but the fear of poverty. O! but to strike blind the people with our wealth and pomp is the thing! What a wretchedness is this, to thrust all our riches outward, and be beggars within; to contemplate nothing but the little, vile, and sordid things of the world; not the great, noble, and precious! We serve our avarice, and, not content with the good of the earth that is offered us, we search and dig for the evil that is hidden. God offered us those things, and placed them at hand, and near us, that He knew were profitable for us, but the hurtful He laid deep and hid. Yet do we seek only the things whereby we may perish, and bring them forth, when God and Nature hath buried them. We covet superfluous things, when it were more honour for us if we would contemn necessary. What need hath Nature of silver dishes, multitudes of waiters, delicate pages, perfumed napkins? She requires meat only, and hunger is not ambitious. Can we think no wealth enough but such a state for which a man may be brought into a premunire, begged, proscribed, or poisoned? O! if a man could restrain the fury of his gullet and groin, and think how many fires, how many kitchens, cooks, pastures, and ploughed lands; what orchards, stews, ponds and parks, coops and garners, he could spare; what velvets, tissues, embroideries, laces, he could lack; and then how short and uncertain his life is; he were in a better way to happiness than to live the emperor of these delights, and be the dictator of fashions; but we make ourselves slaves to our pleasures, and we serve fame and ambition, which is an equal slavery. Have not I seen the pomp of a whole kingdom, and what a foreign king could bring hither? Also to make himself gazed and wondered at—laid forth, as it were, to the show—and vanish all away in a day? And shall that which could not fill the expectation of few hours, entertain and take up our whole lives, when even it appeared as superfluous to the possessors as to me that was a spectator? The bravery was shown, it was not possessed; while it boasted itself it perished. It is vile, and a poor thing to place our happiness on these desires. Say we wanted them all. Famine ends famine.

De mollibus et effoeminatis.—There is nothing valiant or solid to be hoped for from such as are always kempt and perfumed, and every day smell of the tailor; the exceedingly curious that are wholly in mending such an imperfection in the face, in taking away the morphew in the neck, or bleaching their hands at midnight, gumming and bridling their beards, or making the waist small, binding it with hoops, while the mind runs at waste; too much pickedness is not manly. Not from those that will jest at their own outward imperfections, but hide their ulcers within, their pride, lust, envy, ill-nature, with all the art and authority they can. These persons are in danger, for whilst they think to justify their ignorance by impudence, and their persons by clothes and outward ornaments, they use but a commission to deceive themselves: where, if we will look with our understanding, and not our senses, we may behold virtue and beauty (though covered with rags) in their brightness; and vice and deformity so much the fouler, in having all the splendour of riches to gild them, or the false light of honour and power to help them. Yet this is that wherewith the world is taken, and runs mad to gaze on—clothes and titles, the birdlime of fools.

De stultitia.—What petty things they are we wonder at, like children that esteem every trifle, and prefer a fairing before their fathers! What difference is between us and them but that we are dearer fools, coxcombs at a higher rate? They are pleased with cockleshells, whistles, hobby-horses, and such like; we with statues, marble pillars, pictures, gilded roofs, where underneath is lath and lime, perhaps loam. Yet we take pleasure in the lie, and are glad we can cozen ourselves. Nor is it only in our walls and ceilings, but all that we call happiness is mere painting and gilt, and all for money. What a thin membrane of honour that is! and how hath all true reputation fallen, since money began to have any! Yet the great herd, the multitude, that in all other things are divided, in this alone conspire and agree—to love money. They wish for it, they embrace it, they adore it, while yet it is possessed with greater stir and torment than it is gotten.

De sibi molestis.—Some men what losses soever they have they make them greater, and if they have none, even all that is not gotten is a loss. Can there be creatures of more wretched condition than these, that continually labour under their own misery and others' envy? A man should study other things, not to covet, not to fear, not to repent him; to make his base such as no tempest shall shake him; to be secure of all opinion, and pleasing to himself, even for that wherein he displeaseth others; for the worst opinion gotten for doing well, should delight us. Wouldst not thou be just but for fame, thou oughtest to be it with infamy; he that would have his virtue published is not the servant of virtue, but glory.

Periculosa melancholia.—It is a dangerous thing when men's minds come to sojourn with their affections, and their diseases eat into their strength; that when too much desire and greediness of vice hath made the body unfit, or unprofitable, it is yet gladded with the sight and spectacle of it in others; and for want of ability to be an actor, is content to be a witness. It enjoys the pleasure of sinning in beholding others sin, as in dining, drinking, drabbing, &c. Nay, when it cannot do all these, it is offended with his own narrowness, that excludes it from the universal delights of mankind, and oftentimes dies of a melancholy, that it cannot be vicious enough.

Falsae species fugiendae.—I am glad when I see any man avoid the infamy of a vice; but to shun the vice itself were better. Till he do that he is but like the 'pientice, who, being loth to be spied by his master coming forth of Black Lucy's, went in again; to whom his master cried, "The more thou runnest that way to hide thyself, the more thou art in the place." So are those that keep a tavern all day, that they may not be seen at night. I have known lawyers, divines—yea, great ones—of this heresy.

Decipimur specie.—There is a greater reverence had of things remote or strange to us than of much better if they be nearer and fall under our sense. Men, and almost all sorts of creatures, have their reputation by distance. Rivers, the farther they run, and more from their spring, the broader they are, and greater. And where our original is known, we are less the confident; among strangers we trust fortune. Yet a man may live as renowned at home, in his own country, or a private village, as in the whole world. For it is virtue that gives glory; that will endenizen a man everywhere. It is only that can naturalise him. A native, if he be vicious, deserves to be a stranger, and cast out of the commonwealth as an alien.

Dejectio Aulic.—A dejected countenance and mean clothes beget often a contempt, but it is with the shallowest creatures; courtiers commonly: look up even with them in a new suit, you get above them straight. Nothing is more short-lived than pride; it is but while their clothes last: stay but while these are worn out, you cannot wish the thing more wretched or dejected.

Poesis, et pictura.—Plutarch. Poetry and picture are arts of a like nature, and both are busy about imitation. It was excellently said of Plutarch, poetry was a speaking picture, and picture a mute poesy. For they both invent, feign and devise many things, and accommodate all they invent to the use and service of Nature. Yet of the two, the pen is more noble than the pencil; for that can speak to the understanding, the other but to the sense. They both behold pleasure and profit as their common object; but should abstain from all base pleasures, lest they should err from their end, and, while they seek to better men's minds, destroy their manners. They both are born artificers, not made. Nature is more powerful in them than study.

De pictura.—Whosoever loves not picture is injurious to truth and all the wisdom of poetry. Picture is the invention of heaven, the most ancient and most akin to Nature. It is itself a silent work, and always of one and the same habit; yet it doth so enter and penetrate the inmost affection (being done by an excellent artificer) as sometimes it overcomes the power of speech and oratory. There are divers graces in it, so are there in the artificers. One excels in care, another in reason, a third in easiness, a fourth in nature and grace. Some have diligence and comeliness, but they want majesty. They can express a human form in all the graces, sweetness, and elegancy, but, they miss the authority. They can hit nothing but smooth cheeks; they cannot express roughness or gravity. Others aspire to truth so much as they are rather lovers of likeness than beauty. Zeuxis and Parrhasius are said to be contemporaries; the first found out the reason of lights and shadows in picture, the other more subtlely examined the line.

De stylo.—Pliny.—In picture light is required no less than shadow; so in style, height as well as humbleness. But beware they be not too humble, as Pliny pronounced of Regulus's writings. You would think them written, not on a child, but by a child. Many, out of their own obscene apprehensions, refuse proper and fit words—as occupy, Nature, and the like; so the curious industry in some, of having all alike good, hath come nearer a vice than a virtue.

De progres. picturae. {93} Picture took her feigning from poetry; from geometry her rule, compass, lines, proportion, and the whole symmetry. Parrhasius was the first won reputation by adding symmetry to picture; he added subtlety to the countenance, elegancy to the hair, love-lines to the face, and by the public voice of all artificers, deserved honour in the outer lines. Eupompus gave it splendour by numbers and other elegancies. From the optics it drew reasons, by which it considered how things placed at distance and afar off should appear less; how above or beneath the head should deceive the eye, &c. So from thence it took shadows, recessor, light, and heightnings. From moral philosophy it took the soul, the expression of senses, perturbations, manners, when they would paint an angry person, a proud, an inconstant, an ambitious, a brave, a magnanimous, a just, a merciful, a compassionate, an humble, a dejected, a base, and the like; they made all heightnings bright, all shadows dark, all swellings from a plane, all solids from breaking. See where he complains of their painting Chimaeras {94} (by the vulgar unaptly called grotesque) saying that men who were born truly to study and emulate Nature did nothing but make monsters against Nature, which Horace so laughed at. {95} The art plastic was moulding in clay, or potter's earth anciently. This is the parent of statuary, sculpture, graving, and picture; cutting in brass and marble, all serve under her. Socrates taught Parrhasius and Clito (two noble statuaries) first to express manners by their looks in imagery. Polygnotus and Aglaophon were ancienter. After them Zeuxis, who was the lawgiver to all painters; after, Parrhasius. They were contemporaries, and lived both about Philip's time, the father of Alexander the Great. There lived in this latter age six famous painters in Italy, who were excellent and emulous of the ancients—Raphael de Urbino, Michael Angelo Buonarotti, Titian, Antony of Correggio, Sebastian of Venice, Julio Romano, and Andrea Sartorio.

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