Note on the e-text: this Renascence Editions text was provided by Ben R. Schneider, Lawrence University, Wisconsin. It is in the public domain. "Florio's Translation of Montaigne's Essays was first published in 1603. In 'The World's Classics' the first volume was published in 1904, and reprinted in 1910 and 1924." Content unique to this presentation is copyright © 1998 The University of Oregon. For nonprofit and educational uses only.
EN (saith an ancient Greeke sentence) are tormented by the opinions they have of things, and not by things themselves. It were a great conquest for the ease of our miserable humane condition; if any man could establish every where this true proposition. For if evils have no entrance into us but by our judgement, it seemeth that it lieth in our power either to contemne or turne them to our good: If things yeeld themselves unto our mercie, why should we not have the fruition of them or apply them to our advantage? If that which we call evil and torment, be neither torment nor evill, but that our fancie only gives it that qualitie, it is in us to change it: and having the choice of it, if none compell us, we are very fooles to bandy for that partie which is irkesome unto us: and to give infirmities, indigence, and contempt, a sharpe and ill taste, if we may give them a good: And if fortune simply affoord us the matter, it lieth in us to give it the forme. Now that that which we terme evill is not so of it selfe, or at least such as it is that it depends of us to give it another taste and another countenance (for all comes to one), let us see whether it can be maintained. If the originall being of those things we feare, had the credit of its owne authoritie to judge it selfe in us, alike and semblable would it lodge in all: For men be all of one kind, and except the most or least, they are furnished with like meanes to judge and instruments to conceive. But the diversitie of opinions which we have of those things, doth evidently shew that but by composition they never enter into us. Some one peradventure doth lodge them in himselfe, as they are in essence, but a thousand others give them a new being, and a contrarie. We accompt of death, of povertie, and of sorrow, as of our chiefest parts. Now death, which some of all horrible things all the most horrible, who knowes not how others call it the only leaven of this lives torments? the soveraigne good of nature? the only staie of our libertie? and the readie and common receit of our evils? And as some doe, fearefully-trembling and senslesly-affrighted, expect her comming, others endure it more easily than life: And one complaineth of her facilitie:Mors utinam pavidos vitæ subducere nolles,But let us leave these glorious minds: Theodorus answered Lysimachus, who threatened to kill him: 'Thou shalt doe a great exploit to come to the strength of a Cantharides.' The greatest number of Philosophers are found to have either by designe prevented, or hastned and furthered their deaths. How many popular persons are seene brought unto death, and not to a simple death, but entermixt with shame and sometimes with grievous torments, to embrace it with such an undaunted assurance, some throngh stubborne wilfulnesse, other some through a naturall simplicitie, in whom is nothing seene changed from their ordinarie condition; selling their domesticall affaires, recommending themselves unto their friends preaching, singing, and entertaining the people: yea, and sometimes uttering words of jesting and laughter, and drinking to their acquaintance, as well as Socrates? One who was led to the gallowes, desired it might not be thorow such a street, for feare a Merchant should set a Serjant on his backe for an old debt. Another wished the hang-man not to touch his throat, lest hee should make him swowne with laughing, because hee was so ticklish. Another answered his confessor, who promised him he should stop that night with our Saviour in heaven, 'Go thither yourselfe to supper, for I use to fast a nights.' Another upon the gibbet calling for drinke, and the hang-man drinking first, said hee would not drinke after him for feare hee should take the pox of him. Everie man hath heard the tale of the Piccard, who being upon the ladder readie to be throwen downe, there was a wench presented unto him, with this offer (as in some cases our law doth sometimes tolerate) that if hee would marrie her, his life should be saved, who after he had a while beheld her, and perceiving that she halted, said hastily, 'Away, away, good hang-man, make an end of thy business, she limps.' The like is reported of a man in Denmarke, who being adjudged to have his head cut off, and being upon the scaffold, had the like condition offered him, but refused it, because the wench offered him was jaw-falne, longcheekt, and sharpe-nosed. A young lad at Tholous being accused of heresie in all points touching his beleefe referred himselfe wholly to his Masters faith (a young schollar that was in prison with him) and rather chose to die than hee would be perswaded that his Master could erre. We reade of those of the towne of Arras at what time King Lewis the eleventh tooke it, that amongst the common people many were found who rather than they would say 'God save the King,' suffered themselves to be hanged. And of those base-minded jesters or buffons, some have beene seene, that even at the point of death would never leave their jesting and scoffing. He whom the heads-man threw off from the Gallowes cried out, 'Row the Gally,' which was his ordinarie by-word. Another, who being at his last gaspe, his friends had lain him upon a pallet alongst the fire-side, there to breathe his last, the Physitian demanding where his griefe pained him? answered, 'Betweene the bench and the fire:' And the Priest to give the last unction, seeking for his feet, which by reason of his sicknesse were shrunken up, he told him 'My good friend, you shall find them at my legges ends if you look well.' To another that exhorted him to recommend himselfe to God, he asked, 'Who is going to him?' And the fellow answering, 'Yourselfe shortly:' 'If it be his good pleasure, I would to God it might be to morrow nignt,' replied he. 'Recommend but your selfe to him,' said the other, and you shall quickly be there.' 'It is best then,' answered he, 'that my selfe carry mine owne commendations to him.' In the, kingdome of Narsinga, even at this day their Priests wives are buried alive with the bodies of their dead husbands. All other wives are burnt at their husbands funerals, not only constantly, but cheerfully. When their King dieth, his wives, his concubines, his minions, together with all his officers and servants, which make a whole people, present themselves so merrily under the fire wherein his body is burnt, that they manifestly seeme to esteeme it as a great honour to accompanie their deceased master to his ashes. During our last warres of Millaine, and so many takings, losses, miseries, and calamities of that Citie the people, impatient of so many changes of fortune, took such a resolution unto death, that I have heard my father say he kept accompt of five and twentie chiefe householders, that in one weeke made them-selves away: An accident which hath some affinity with that of the Xanthians, who being besieged by Brutus, did pell-mell headlong, men, women, and children, precipitate them-selves into so furious a desire of death, that nothing can be performed to avoid death which these did not accomplish to avoid life: So that Brutus had much adoe to save a verie small number of them. Every opinion is of sufficient power to take hold of a man in respect of life. The first article of that courageous oath which the Countrie of Greece did sweare and keepe in the Median warre, was that every particular man should rather change his life unto death, than the Persian lawes for theirs. What a world of people are daily seene in the Turkish warres, and the Græcians, more willing to embrace a sharpe, a bitter, and violent death, than to be uncircumcized and baptized? An example whereof no religion is incapable. The Kings of Castile having banished the Jewes out of their countrie, King John of Portugall, for eight crownes a man, sold them a retreit in his dominion for a certaine time, upon condition (the time expired) they should avoid, and he find them ships to transport them into Affrike. The day of their departure come, which past, it was expressed that such as had not obeyed should for ever remain bond-slaves, ships were provided them, but very scarce and sparingly: And those which were embarked were so rudely, churlishly, and villainously used by the passengers and marines, who besides infinite other indignites, loitred so long on the seas, now forward, now backward, that in the end they had consumed all their victuals, and were forced, if they would keepe themselves alive, to purchase some of them, at so excessive a rate and so long, that they were never set ashore till they had brought them so bare that they had nothing left them but their shirts. The newes of this barbarous inhumanitie being reported to those that were yet on land, most of them resolved to yeeld and continue bond-slaves: whereof some made a semblance to change their religion. Emanuel that immediately succeeded John, being come to the Crowne, first set them at libertie, then changing his minde, commanded them to depart out of his dominions, and for their passage assigned them three ports. He hoped, as Bishop Osorius reporteth (a Latine historian of our ages, not to be despised), that the favor of the libertie to which he had restored them, having failed to converte them unto Christianitie, the difficultie to commit themselves unto marriners and pyrates robberies, to leave a Countrie where they were settled with great riches; for to goe seeke unknowen and strange regions, would bring them into Portugall againe. But seeing all his hopes frustrate, and that they purposed to passe away, hee cut off two of the three ports he had promised them, that so the tedious distance and incommoditie of the passage might retaine some, or rather that he might have the meane to assemble them altogether in one place, for a fitter opportunitie of the execution be intended which was this. Hee appointed that all their children under fourteene yeares of age, should be taken from out the hands of their parents, and removed from their sight and conversation, to some place where they might be brought up and instructed in our religion. He saith that this effect caused an horrible spectacle: the naturall affection betweene the fathers and the children, moreover the zeale unto their ancient faith, striving against this violent ordinance. Divers fathers and mothers were ordinarily seene to kill themselves, and with a more cruell example, through compassion and love, to throw their young children into pitts and wells, thereby to shun the Law. The terme which he had prefixed them being expired, for want of other meanes they yeelded unto thraldome. Some became Christians, from whose faith and race, even at this day (for it is an hundred yeares since) few Portugalls assure themselves; although custome and length of time be much more forcible counsellors unto such mutations than any other compulsion. In the towne of Castelnaw Darry, more than fifty Albigeois, all heretikes, at one time, with a determined courage suffred themselves to be burned alive, all in one same fire, before they would recant and disavow their opinions, Quoties non modo ductores nostri sed universi etiam exercitus ad non dubiam mortem concurrerunt? (Cic. Tusc. Qu. i.) 'How often have not only our Leaders (saith Tully), but also our whole armies, run roundly together to an undoubted death?' I have seene one of my familiar friends runne furiously on death, with such and so deepely in his heart rooted affection, by divers visages of discourse, which I could never suppress in him, and to the first that offered it selfe masked with a lustre of honour, without apprehending any shape or violent end, therein to precipitate himselfe. We have many examples in our daies, yea in very children, of such as for feare of some slight incommoditie have yeelded unto death. And to this purpose, saith an ancient Writer, what shall we not feare, if we feare that which cowardice it selfe hath chosen for her retrait? Heere to huddle up a long head-rowle of those of all sexes, conditions, sects, in most happy ages, which either have expected death most constantly, or sought for it voluntarily, and not only sought to avoid the evils of this life, but some, only to shun the satietie of living any longer: and some, for the hope of a better condition elsewhere, I should never have done. The number is so infinite, that verily it would be an easier matter for me to reckon up those that have feared the same. Only this more. Pirro the Philosopher, finding himselfe upon a very tempestuous day in a boat, shewed them whom he perceived to be most affrighted through feare, and encouraged them by the example of an hog that was amongst them, and seemed to take no care at all for the storme: Shall wee then dare to say that the advantage of reason, whereat we seeme so much to rejoyce, and for whose respect we account our selves Lords and Emperours of all other creatures, hath beene infused into us for our torment? What availeth the knowledge of things, if through them we become more demisse? If thereby wee lose the rest and tranquillitie wherein we should be without them? and if it makes us of worse condition than was Pirrhos hog? Shall we employ the intelligence Heaven hath bestowed upon us for our greatest good, to our ruine? repugning natures desseign and the universal order and vicissitude of things, which implieth that every man should use his instruments and meanes for his owne commoditie? Wel (will some tell me) let your rule fit you against death, but what will you say of indigence and necessitie? what will you also say of minde-grieving sorrow, which Aristippus, Hieronymus, and most of the wisest have judged-the last evil? and those which denied the same in words confessed the same in effect? Possidonius being extremely tormented with a sharpe and painfull sicknesse, Pompey came to see him, and excused himselfe he had chosen so unfit an houre to heare him discourse of Philosophy: 'God forbid (answered Possidonius) that ever paine should so farre usurpe upon me as to hinder me from discoursing of so worthy a subject. And thereupon began to speake of the contempt of paine. But there whilst she plaied her part, and uncessantly pinched and urged him, gainst whom hee exclaimed: 'Paine doe what thou list, I shall never be drawne to say that thou art an evill.' That saying, which they would make of such consequence, what doth it interre against the contempt of paine? it contends but for the word. And if the pangs thereof move him not therewhilst, why breakes he off his discourse for it? Why thinks he to worke a great exploit, not to call it an evil? All doth not consist in imagination. Heere we judge of the rest. It is assured learning that here doth play her part, our owne senses are judges of it.
Sed virtus te sola daret! -- Lucan. iv. 580.
O death! I would thou would'st let cowards live,
That resolv'd valour might thee only give.Qui nisi sunt veri; ratio quogue falsa sit omnis.-- Lucr. iv. 487.Shall we make our skin beleeve the stripes of a whip doe tickle it? and perswade our taste that Aloes be wine of Graves? Pirrhos hog is here in our predicament. He is nothing danted at death, but if you beat him he will grunt, crie, and torment himselfe. Shall wee force the general law of nature, which in all living creatures under heaven is seene to tremble at paine? The very trees seeme to groane at offences. Death is but felt by discourse, because it is the motion of an instant.
Which senses if they be not true,
All reason's false, it must ensue.Aut fuit, aut veniet, nihil est præsentis in illa.A thousand beasts, a thousand men, are sooner dead than threatned. Besides, what wee principally call feare in death, it is paine, her customarie fore-runner. Neverthelesse if we must give credit to an ancient father, Malam mortem non facit, nisi quod sequitur mortem. 'Nothing but what follows death makes death to be evill.' And I might more truly say, that neither that which goeth before, nor that which commeth after, is no appurtenance of death, we falsely excuse our selves. And I find by experience that it is rather the impatience of the imagination of death that makes us impatient of the paine, and that we feele it twofold grievous, forasmuch as it threats us to die. But reason accusing our weaknesse, to feare so sudden a thing, so unavoidable, so insensible; we take this other more excusable pretence. All evills that have no other danger but of the evill, we count them dangerlesse. The tooth-ach, the paine of the gowt, how grievous soever, because they kill not, who reckoneth them in the number of Maladies? Well, suppose that in death wee especially regard the pain: As also povertie hath nothing to be feared for but what she casteth upon us through famine, thirst, cold, heat, and other miseries, it makes us feele and endure. So have we nothing to doe but with paine. I will willingly grant them that it is the worst accident of our being. For I am the man that hate and shun it as much as possibly may be; because hitherto (thanks be unto God) I have no commerce or dealing with her: But it is in our power, if not to dissanull, at least to diminish the same, through patience: and though tne body should be moved thereat, yet to keepe the minde and reason in good temper. And if it were not so, who then hath brought vertue, valour, force, magnanimitie, and resolution into credit? Where shall they play their part if there be no more paine defied? Avida est periculi virtus: ' Vertue is desirous of danger.' If a man must not lie on the hard ground, armed at all assaies, to endure the heat of the scorching Sunne, to feed hungerly upon a horse or an asse, to see himselfe mangled and cut in peeces, to have a bullet pluckt out of his bones, to suffer incisions, his flesh to be stitcht up, cauterized, and searched, all incident to a martiall man; how shall we purchase the advantage and preheminence which we so greedily seek after, over the vulgar sort? It is far from avoiding the evill and paines of it, as wise men say, that of actions equally good, one should most be wished to be done wherein is most paine and griefe. Non enim hilaritate nec lascivia, nec risu aut joco comite levitatis, sed sæpe etiam tristes firmitate et constantia sunt beati: (Cic. De Fin. ii.) 'For men are not happy by mirthfulnesse, or wantonnesse, or laughing, or jesting, which is the companion of lightnesse; but often, even those that are sorrowfull, through their strong heart and constancie.' And therefore was it impossible to perswade our fathers that conquests achieved by maine force, in the hazard of warre, were not more available and advantageous than those obtained in all securitie by practices and stratagems.
Death hath come, or it will not misse;
But in it nothing present is.
Morsque minus pænæ, quam mora mortis habet. -- Ovid. Epis. Ariad. 82.
Deaths pain's lesse, roundly acted.
Than when death is protracted.Lætius est, quoties magno sibi constat honestum. -- Luca. ix. 404.Moreover, this ought to comfort us, that naturally , if paine be violent, it is also short; if long, it is easie: Si gravis, brevis; si longus, levis. (Cic. De Fin. ii. Epic.) 'If it be grievous, it is short; if it be long, it is light.' Thou shalt not feele it over long; if thou feele it over much, it will either end it selfe or end thee: All comes to one: If thou beare not it, it will beare thee away. Memineris maximos morte finiri, parvos multa habere intervalla requietis; mediocrium nos esse dominos: ut si tolerabiles sint feramus: sin minus, e vita, quum ea non placeat, tanquam e theatre exeamus; (i.) 'Remember the greatest are ended with death, the lesser have many pauses of rest; we are masters of the meane ones: so as if they be tolerable, we may heare them; if not, we may make an exit from our life, which doth not please, as from a stage. That which makes us endure paine with such impatience is, that we are not accustomed to take our chiefe contentment in the soule, and that we doe not sufficiently rely on her, who is the only and soveraigne mistris of our condition. The body hath (except the least or most) but one course, and one byase. The soule is variable in all manner of formes, and rangeth to her selfe, and to her estate, whatsoever it be, the senses of the body, and all other accidents. Therefore must she be studied, enquired and sought after: and her powerful springs and wards should be rowzed up. There is neither reason, nor prescription, nor force can availe against her inclination and choice. Of so infinit byases that she hath in her disposition, let us allow her one suitable and fit to our rest and preservation: Then shall we not only be sheltered from all offence, but if it please her, also gratified and flattered of all grievances and evils. She indifferently makes profit of all, even errours and dreames, doe profitably bestead her, as a loyall matter, to bring us unto safety and contentment. It may easily be seen, that the point of our spirit is that which sharpeneth both paine and pleasure in us. Beasts wanting the same leave their free and naturall senses unto their bodies: and by consequence, single well-nigh in every kind, as they shew by the semblable application of their movings. If in our members we did not trouble the jurisdiction which in that belongs unto them, it may be thought w e should be the better for it, and that nature hath given them a just and moderate temperature toward pleasure and toward paine; And it cannot chuse but be good and just, being small and common. But since we have freed and alienated our selves from her rules, to abandon ourselves unto the vagabond libertie of our fantasies, let us at least help to bend them to the most agreeing side. Plato feareth our sharp engaging unto paine and voluptuousnesse, forsomuch as he over-strictly tieth and bindeth the soule unto the body: I am rather opposit unto him, because it is sundred and loosed from it. Even as an enemie becometh more furious when we flie from him, so doth paine grow more proud if it see us tremble under it. It will stoope and yeeld upon better compositions to him that shall make head against it. A man must oppose and bandy against it. In recoyling and giving ground, we call and draw on the ruine threatning us. Even as the body is more steady and strong to a charge if it stand stiffely to it, so is the soule. But let us come to examples properly belonging to weak-backt men, as I am, where we shall find it is with paine as with stones, which take either higher or deeper colour according to the soyle that is laid under them, and holdeth no other place in us than we give it. Tantum doluerunt, quantum doloribus se inseruerunt (August.) 'So much they grieved, as they interessed themselves in griefes.' We feele a dash of a chirurgions razor more than ten blows with a sword in the heat of fight. The painefull throwes of child bearing, deemed both by Physitians and by the word of God to be verie great, and which our women passe with so many ceremonies, there are whole Nations that make no reckoning of them. I omit to speake of the Lacedemonian women; but come we to the Swizzers of our Infanterie, what change doe you perceive in them? But that trudging and trotting after their husbands, to day you see them carrie the child about their neck which but yesterday they bare in their wombe. And those counterfeit roguing Gyptians, whereof so many are daily seene amongst us, doe they not wash children so soone as they are borne, and in the next river that comes to hand? Besides so many harlots which daily steale their children in the delivery as in the conception. The beauteous and noble Lady of Sabinus, a Roman Patritian, for the interest of others did alone, without any bodies helpe or assistance an without noise or groning, endure the bearing and deliverie of two twins. A simple lad of Lacedemon having stolne a fox (for they more feared the shame of their foolishnesse in stealing than we feare the paine or punishment of mis-deeds) and hiding the same under his cloake, endured rather to have his guts gnawne out by her, than to discover himselfe. Another, while offering incense at a sacrifice, suffered his flesh to burne to the bone by a coale falne into his sleeve, rather than he would trouble that sacred mysterie. And a great number have beene seene, for the only essay of vertue, following their institution, that at the age of seven years, without so much as changing their countenance, have endured to be whipped to death. And Cicero hath seene whole troups to beat one another so long with their fists, with their feet, and with their teeth, till they have fainted and fallen downe halfe dead, before ever they would confesse to be overcome. Nunquam naturam mos vinceret, est enim ea semper invicta: sed nos umbris, delitiis, otio, languore, desidia, animum infecimus: opinionibus maloque more delinitum mollivimus: (Cic. Tusc. Quest. v.) 'Custome should never overcome nature, for she is still invincible: but we have infected our minde with shadowes, daintinesse, idlenesse, faint-heartednesse, slothfulnesse, and have effeminaied it, inveagled with opinions and evill customs.' Every man knows the story of Scævola, who being entred the enemies campe, with a full resolution to kill their Chieftaine, and having missed of his purpose, to checke his effect with a stranger invention, and to cleare his country, confessed unto Prosenna (who was the King he intended to kill) not only his dessigne, but added, moreover, that in his campe there were a great many Romanes, who had undertaken and sworne the verie same enterprise, and were confederates with him. And to make shew of his dread-lesse magnanimitie, having caused a pan of burning coales to be brought, he saw and suffred his right arm (in penance that it had not effected his project) to be parched and well-nigh roasted-off: untill such time as his enemie himselfe, feeling a kind of remorcefull horror, commanded the fire to be carried away. What shall we say of him that would not vouchsafe to leave, or so much as to interrupt the reading of his booke, whilst he had an incision made into him? And of him who resolved to skoffe and laugh, even in spight and contempt of the tortures which were inflicted upon him, so that the raging crueltie of the hangmen that held him, and all the inventions of torments that could be devised, being redoubled upon him, one in the necke of another gave him over? But he was a Philosopher; What of one of Cæsars gladiators, who with a cheerefull and smiling countenance endured his wounds to be slit and sounded? Quis mediocres gladiator ingemuit? Quis vultum mutavit unquam? Qu is non modo stetit, verum etiam decubuit turpiter? Quis cum decubuisset, ferrum recipere jussus, collum contraxit? (Cic. Tusc. Quest. ii.) 'What meane Fencer hath once groned? Which of them hath once changed his countenance? Which of them not only hath stood up, but even falne with shame? Which of them when he was downe, and was willed to take his death, did once shrinke in his necke?' But let us joyne some women unto them. Who hath not heard of her at Paris, which only to get a fresher hew of a new skin, endured to have her face flead all over? There are some, who being sound and in perfit health, have had some teeth puld-out, thereby to frame a daintier and more pleasing voyce, or to set them in better order. How many examples of conternpt of paine or smart have we of that kind and sex? What can they not doe? What will they not doe? What feare they to doe? So they may but hope for some amendment of their beautie?
Honesty makes chiefest cheare
When it doth cost it selfe most deare.Vellere queis cura est albos a stirpe capillos,I have seene some swallow gravell, ashes, coales, dust, tallow, candles, and for the nonce labour and toyle themselves to spoile their stomacke, only to get a pale-bleake colour. To become slender in wast, and to have a straight spagnolized body, what pinching, what girding, what cingling will they not indure? Yea sometimes with yron-plates, with whale-bones, and other such trash, that their very skin and quicke flesh is eaten in and consumed to the bones; whereby they sometimes worke their owne death. It is common to divers nations of our times, to hurt and gash themselves in good earnest, to give credit to their words. And our King reporteth sundrie examples of what himselfe saw in Polonia, and towards himselfe. But besides what I know to have by some beene imitated in France; when I came from the famous Parliament of Blois, I had a little before seene a wench in Picardie to witnes the vehemencie of her promises, and also her constancie, with the bodkin she wore in her hair to give her selfe foure or five thrusts in her arme, which made her skin to crack and gush out bloud. The Turkes are wont to wound and scarre themselves for their Ladies sakes, and that the marke may the better appeare, and continue the longer, they will presently lay fire upon their cuttes; and to stanch the bloud, and better to forme the cicatrice, they wil keepe it on an incredible while. Honest men that have seene it, have written the same, and sworne it unto me. And for ten Aspers you shall daily finde some amongst them that will give themselves a deepe gash with a Scimitarie, either in their armes or thighes. I am very glad witnesses are so ready at hand where we have most need of them: For Christendome affordeth many. And after the example of our holy guide, there have beene divers who for devotion would needs beare the crosse. We learne by a worthy testimonie of religion, that Saint Lewes the King wore a haire shirt, untill such time as he was so aged that his confessor gave him a dispensation for it; and that every Friday he caused his priests to beat his shoulders with five little yron chaines, which to that purpose were ever caried with his nightgeare. William our last Duke of Guienne, father to that Eleonore who transferred that Dutchy unto the houses of France and England, the last ten or twelve yeares of his life, for penance-sake, wore continually a corselet under a religious habit. Foulkes Earle of Anjou went to Jerusalem, there with a rope about his necke to be whipped by two of his servants, before our Saviours sepulchre. Doe we not upon every Good-Friday, in sundrie places, see a great number of men and women scourge and beat themselves so long, till they bruse and teare their flesh, even to the bones? I have often seene it my selfe; and that without enchantment; And some say (for they are masked) there were some amongst them, who for monie would undertake thereby to warrant other mens religion, by a contempt of smart-full paine, so much the greater by how much the stings of devotion are of more force than those of covetousnes. Q. Maximus buried his son who had beene Consull: Marcus Cato his, being elected Pretor; and L. Paulus both his, within few daies, with so cheerefull and setled a countenance, and without any show of sorrow. I have sometimes by way of jesting told one that he had confronted divine justice: For, the violent death of three tall children of his, cumming unto his eares all upon one day, and sent him, as it may be imagined, as a great scourge: he was so farre from mourning, that he rather tooke it as a favour and singular gratification at Gods hand. I doe not follow these monstrous humours. Yet have I lost two or three my selfe, whilst they were young and at nurce, if not without apprehension of sorrow, yet without continuæce of griefs. And 'there is no accident woundeth mon deeper, or goeth so neere the heart as the losse of children.' I see divers other common occasions of affliction which, were I assailed by them, I should scarcely feele. And I have contemned and neglected some, when it hath pleased God to visit me with them, on which the world setteth so ugly and balefull a countenance, that I hardly dare boast of them without blushing. Ex quo intelligitur, non in natura, sed in opinione esse ægretudinem. (Cic. ib. iii.) 'Whereby it is understood that griefe consisteth not in nature, but opinion.' Opinion is a powerful, bould, and unmeasureable party. Who doth ever so greedily search after rest-full ease and quietnes as Alexander and Cæsar have done after difficulties and unquietnesse? Terez, the father of Sitalcez, was wont to say, that when he had no warres, hee thought there was no difference betweene him and his horse-keeper. Cato the Consull, to assure himselfe of certaine townes in Spaine, having only interdicted some of their inhabitants to weare armes, many of them killed themselves: Ferox gens nullam vitam rati sine, armis esse: 'A fierce kinde of people, that thought there was no life without armes.' How many know wee who have abandoned and forsaken the pleasure of an ease-full and quiet life in their houses, and to live with their friends and acquaintance, to follow the toyling-horror of unfrequented deserts, and that yeelded and cast themselves unto the abjectnesse, contempt and vilifying of the world, wherwith they have so pleased themselves, as nothing more; Cardinall Boromeus, who died lately at Milane, in the midst of the pleasures and debawches to which his nobilitie, and the great riches he possessed enticed him, and the ayre of Italy afforded him, and his youth allured him, did ever keep himselfe in so an austere forme of life, that the same gowne which served him in summer he wore in winter. He never lay but upon straw: the houres which he might conveniently spare from his charge, he bestowed in continual study, ever kneeling, and having a smal quantitie of bread and water by his bookes side, which was all the provision for his repast, and time he employed in study. I know some who wittingly have drawne both profit and preferment from cuckoldrie, the only name whereof is so yrksome and bail-ful to so many men. If sight be not the most necessarie of our senses, at least is it the most pleasing: the most plausible and profitable of our members, seeme those that serve to beget us: notwithstanding divers have mortally hated them, only because they were over much amiable, and for their worths-sake have rejected them. So thought he of his eies, that voluntarily put them out. The most common and soundest part of men holdeth multitude of children to be a signe of great happinesse and comfort; So do I, and many others, the want of them. And when Thales was demanded wherefore he did not marrie, he answered, because he would leave no issue or line of himselfe behinde him. What our opinion endeareth and increaseth the price of things, it is seene in a great number of them, which we do not regard to esteeme them, but for our use. As we neither consider their qualities nor utilities, but only our cost to recover and attaine them; as if it were a part of their substance; and we call that worth in them, not what they bring us, but what we bring to them. According as it weigheth and is of consequence, so it serveth. Whereupon I perceive we are thriftie husbands of what we lay out. Our opinion never suffers it to run a false gallop. 'The price giveth a Diamond his title, difficultie to vertue, paine unto devotion, and sharpnesse unto physicke.' Such a one to come unto povertie, cast those fewe crownes he had into the same sea wherein so many others, with such carke, danger, and care, on all parts seeke to fish for riches. Epicurus saith, that 'To be rich is no ease, but a change of affaires.' Verily, it is not want, but rather plentie that causeth avarice. I will speake of mine owne experience concerning this subject. I have lived in three kinds of condition since I came out of my infancie. The first time, which continued well-nigh twentie yeares. I have past it over as one who had no other means but casual, and depending from the direction and helpe of others, without any certaine maintenance or regular prescription. My expences were so much the more carelessely layed out and lavishly employed, by how much more they wholy depended on fortunes rashnesse and exhibition. I never lived so well at ease: my fortune was never to finde my friends purse shut; besides which, I was to frame my selfe to all necessities: the care I tooke to pay every man at his prefixed day, which a thousand times they have prolonged, seeing the care I tooke to satisfie them. So that I had gotten unto my selfe the credit of a thriftie kind of good husbandrie, though it were something shifting and deceitful. I do naturally feele a kind of pleasing contentment in paying of my debts, as if I rid my selfe of a burthenous weight, and free my selfe from the yoake of bondage and ingratitude. Besides, me thinks I feele a kinde of delight that tickleth me to the quick, in performing a lawfully just action, and contenting of others. I except payments that require delayes, covenants, and after reckonings: for, if I finde any body that will undertake them, I blushingly and injuriously deferre them as long as I can, for feare of that altercation or wrangling to which my humor and manner of speech is altogether incompatible. There is nothing I hate more than driving of bargaines: It is a meere commerce of dodging and impudencie. After an houres debating and paltring, both parties will goe from their words and oaths for the getting or saving of a shilling: yet did I borrow with great disadvantage. For, having no heart to borrow before others, or by word of mouth, I would adventure it upon a peece of paper, which with some hath no great power to move or force to perswade, and which greatly helps to refuse, I was wont to commit the successe of my wants more freely and more carelessely unto fortune than I have done since unto my wit and providence. Most good husbands thinke it strange add horrible to live on such uncertainties, but they remember not that most men in the world live so. How many good and well-borne men have heretofore, and are daily seene to neglect and leave at six and seven their patrimonies and certaine goods, to follow and seeke after court-holy water and wavering favours of Princes and of fortune; Cæsar engaged and endebted himselfe above a million of gold more than he was worth to become Cæsar . And how many merchants and poore beginners set up and begin their traffike by the sale of their farmes or cottages which they ventur to the Indias?
Et faciem dempta pell e referre novam. -- Tibul. i. El. viii. 43.
Who take great care to root out their gray haire.
And skin flead-off a new face to repare.Tot per impotentia freta. -- Catul. Epig. iv. 18.In so great scarcitie of devotion we have thousands of Colleges, which passe the time very conveniently, daily gaping and expecting from the liberalitie of the heavens what they must dine withall to morrow. Secondly, they consider not that this certaintie on w hich the ground themselves, is not much lesse uncertaine and hazardous than hazard it selfe. I see miserie as neere beyond two thousand crownes rent, as if it were hard at hand. For, besides that fortune hath many-many meanes to open a hundred gaps for povertie to enter at, even through the thickest of our riches, and that often there is no meane betweene the highest and lowest fortune.Fortuna vitrea est: tum quum splendet frangitur. -- Prov. Senec. f.And to turne all our defences and raisings of high walls topsie-turvie: I find that want and necessitie is by diverse or different causes, as ordinarily seene to accompanie and follow those that are rich in goods, as those that have none at all: and that peradventure it is somewhat lesse incommodious when it is alone, than when it meeteth with riches. They rather come from order than from receit: Feber est sua quisq ue fortunæ: (Eras. Chil. ii. cent. iv. eid. 63) 'Every man is the forger of his own fortune.' And methinkes that a rich man who is needy, full of businesse, carke and toyle, and troubled in minde, is more miserable than he that is simply poore. In divitiis inopes quod genus egestatis gravissimum est. (Sen. Epist. lxxiv. p.) 'In their abundance indigent, which is the most grievous kinde of indigence.' The richest and greatest princes are ordinarily urged by povertie and need unto extreme necessities. For, can any be more extreme than thereby to become Tyrants, and unjust usurpers of their subjects goods. My second manner of life hath beene to have money; which when I had once fingred, according to my condition I sought to hoard up some against a rainie day; esteeming that it was no having unlesse a man had ever somewhat besides his ordinary expenses in possession: and that a man should not trust that good which he must live in hope to receive; and that, be his hopes never so likely, hee may many wayes be prevented. For, I would say unto my selfe; what if I should be surprised by this chance or that accident? What should I doe then? And in pursuit of these vaine and vicious imaginations, I endeavour by hooke or crooke, and by wile or wit, to provide by this superfluous sparing for all inconveniences that might happen: And I could answer him that would alleage the number of inconveniences to be over infinit: which if they followed not all men, they accompanied some, and haply the greatest number. An apprehension which I did not passe without some painfull care. I kept the matter secret, and I (that dare say so much, of myself) would never speake of my money but falsly; as others doe, who being rich, would seeme to be poore, or being poore, would appeare rich: and dispense with their conscience, never to witnesse sincerely what they are worth. Oh ridiculous and shamefull prudence. Did I travell any where? me thought I was never sufficiently provided; and the more I had laden my selfe with coine, the more I had also burdened my selfe with feare: sometimes of my wayes-safetie, othertimes of their trust that had the charge of my sumpters and baggage, whereof as some others that I know, me thought I was never throughly assured, except it were still in my sight. Left I my keyes or my purse behind me? how many suspitions and thornie imiginations, and which is worse, incommunicable, did uncessantly haunt me? My minde was ever on my halfpenny; my thoughts ever that way. The summe being rightly cast, there is ever more paine in keeping than in getting of monie. If I did not altogether so much as I say, I at the least endeavoured to doe it. Of commoditie I had little or nothing. To have more meanes of expenses, is ever to have increase of sorrow. For (as said Bion) 'The hairie man doth grieve as much as the bald, if he have his haire pulled out.' And after you are once accustomed, and have fixed your thoughts upon a heape of monie, it is no longer at your service; you dare not diminish it; it is a building which, if you touch or take any part from it, you will thinke it will all fall. Necessitie must first pinch you by the throat, and touch you neere, before you will lay hands on it. And I should sooner pawne my clothes, or sell my horse with lesse care and compulsion, than make a breach into that beloved purse which I kept in store. But the danger was that a man can hardly prefix a certaine limits unto his desire (they are hard to be found in things a man deemeth good) and continue at one stay in sparing: A man shall ever encrease this heape from one number to another; yea so long till he basely and niggardly deprive himselfe of enjoying his owne goods, and wholly fix on the safe keeping of them, and never use them. According to this kind of usage, those are the richest people of the world have the charge of keeping the gates and walles of a rich Cittie. Every monied man is covetous, according to mine opinion. Plato marshalleth [thus] humane or corporall goods; health, beautie, strength, riches: And riches (saith he) are not blind, but cleere-seeing, if they be illummated by wisdome. Dionysius the younger plaid a notable part; who being advertised that one of his Siracusans had hidden a certaine treasure under the ground, commanded him to bring it unto him, which he did, reserving secretly one part of it unto himselfe, with which he removed his dwelling unto another Citie, where having lost the humor of hoarding up of treasure, began to live a spending and riotous kinde of life: which Dionysius hearing, commanded the remainder of his treasure, and which he had taken from him, to be restored unto him; saying, that 'sithence he had learned how to make use of it, hee did most willingly redeliver the same unto him.' I was some yeares of the same humour: I wot not what good Demon did most profitably remove me from it, like to the Siracusan, and made me to neglect my sparing. The pleasure I apprehended of a farre and chargeable journey having overthrowne this foolish imagination in me; From which I am falne into a third kinde of life (I speake what I thinke of it) assuredly much more pleasing and formall: which is, that I measure my garment according to my cloth , and let my expenses goe together with my comming in; sometimes the one, otherwhilst the other exceeds: But they are never farre asunder. I live from hand to mouth, from day to day, and have I but to supply my present and ordinarie needs, I am satisfied: As for extraordinarie wants, all the provisions of the world will not suffice them. And it is folly to expect that fortune will ever sufficiently arme us against herselfe. It is with our owne weapons that we must combat her. Casuall armes will betray us, when we shall have most need of them. If I lay up anything, it is for the hope of some imployment at hand, and not to purchase lands, whereof I have no need, but pleasure and delight. Non esse cupidum, pecunia est: non esse emacem, vectigal est: (Cic. Parad. ult.) 'It is currant coine not to be covetous: it is a thriftie income not to be still buying.' I am neither possessed with feare that my goods shall faile me, nor with desire that they should encrease and multiply. Divitiarum fructus est in copia; Copiam declarat satietas: (ibid.) 'The fruit of riches is in plentie: satietie content with enough, approves that plentie.' And I singularly gratifie my selfe this correction came upon me in an age naturally inclined to covetousnesse and that I am free from that folly so common and peculiar to old men, and the most ridiculous of all humane follies. Feraulez who had passed through both fortunes, and found that encrease of goods was no accrease of appetite to drinke, to eat, to sleepe, or to embrace his wife; and who on the other side felt heavily on his shoulders the importunitie of ordering and directing his Oeconomicall affaires, as it doth on mine, determined with himselfe to content a poore young man, his faithfull friend, greedily gaping after riches, and frankly made him a present donation of all his great and excessive riches; as also of those he was likely everie day to get by the liberalitie and bountie of his good master Cyrus and by warre: always provided hee should undertake to entertaine and finde him, honestly and in good sort, as his guest and friend. In which estate they lived afterward most happily, and mutually content with the change of their condition. Loe heare a part I could willingly find in my heart to imitate. And I much commend the fortune of an old prelate, whom I see to have so clearly given over his purse, his receits, and his expenses, now to one of his chosen servants, and now to another, that he hath lived many yeares as ignorant of his household affaires as any stranger. The confidence in others honesty is no light testimonie of ones owne integritie: therefore doth God willingly favour it. And for his regard, I see no household order, neither more worthily directed, nor more constantly managed than his. Happy is that man that hath so proportionably directed his estate, as his riches may discharge and supply the same, without care or encombrance to himselfe: and that neither their consultation or meetings may in any sort interrupt other affaires, or disturbe other occupations, which followeth, more convenient, more quiet, and better agreeing with his heart. Therefore doth ease and indigencie depend from every mans owne opinion; and wealth and riches, no more than glorie or health, have either more preheminence or pleasure, than he who possesseth them, lendeth them. Every man is either or ill, according as he findes himselfe. Not he whom another thinkes content, but he is content indeed that thinkes he is so himselfe; And only in that, opinion giveth it selfe essence and veritie. Fortune doth us neither good nor ill: She only offereth us the seed and matter of it, which our minde, more powerfull than she, turneth and applieth as best it pleaseth: as the efficient cause and mistris of condition, whether happy or unhappy. External accessions take both favor and colour from the internall constitution: As garments doe not warme us by their heat, but by ours, which they are fit to cover and nourish: he that with clothes should cover a cold body, should draw the very same service from them by cold. So is snow and yce kept in summer. Verily as unto an idle and lazie body, study is but a torment: abstinence from wine to a drunkard is a vexation; frugalitie is a harts sorrow to the luxurious; and exercise molesteth an effeminate body: so is it of all things else. Things are not of themselves so irksome nor so hard, but our basenes and weaknesse maketh them such. To judge of high and great matters, a high and great minde is required; otherwise we attribute that vice unto them which indeed is ours. A straight oare, being under water seemeth to be crooked. It is no matter to see a thing, but the matter is how a man doth see the same. Well, of so many discourses, which diversly perswade men to contemne death and patiently to endure paine, why shall we not finde some one to make for our purpose; And of so severall and many kinds of imaginations, that have perswaded the same unto others, why doth not every man apply one unto himselfe, that is most agreeing with his humor; If he cannot digest a strong and abstersive drug, for to remove his evill, let him at least take a lenitive pill to ease the same. Opinio est quædam effoeminata ac levis: nec in dolore magis, quam eadem in voluptate: qua, quum liquescimus fluimusque mollitia, apis aculeum sine clamore ferre, non possumus. Totum in eo est, ut tibi imperes: (Cic. Tusc. Quest. ii.) 'There is a certaine effeminate and light opinion, and that no more in sorrow than it is in pleasure, whereby when we melt and run over in daintie tendernes, we cannot abide to be stung of a bee, but must rore and crie out. This is the total summe of all, that you be master of your selfe.' Moreover, a man doth not escape from Philosophy by making the sharpnes of paines and humane weaknesse to provaile so far beyond measure: for she is compelled to cast her selfe over againe unto these invincible replications. If it be bad to live in necessitie, at least there is no necessitie to live in necessitie. No man is long time ill but by his owne fault. He that hath not the heart to endure neither life nor death, and that will neither resist nor run away, what shall a man doe to him?
Fortune is glasse-like, brittle as ' tis bright:
Light-gon, light-broken, when it lends best light.