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.
O MAN living is free from speaking foolish things; the ill lucke is to speake them curiously:Næ iste magno conatu magnas nugas dixerit. -- Ter. Heaut. act. iv. sc. i.That concerneth not me; mine slip from me with as little care as they are of smal worth: whereby they speed the better. I would suddenly quit them, for the least cost were in them: Nor do I buy or sell them but for what they weigh. I speake unto paper as to the first man I meete. That this is true, marke well what followes. To whom should not treachery be detestable, when Tiberius refused it on such great interest? One sent him word out of Germanie, that if he thought it good, Ariminius should be made away by poison. He was the mightiest enemy the Romans had, who had so vilely used them under Varus, and who onely empeached the encrease of his domination in that country. His answer was, that the people of Rome were accustomed to be revenged on their enemies by open courses, with weapons in hand; not by subtill sleights , nor in hugger mugger: thus left he the profitable for the honest. He was (you will say) a cosener. I beleive it; that's no wonder in men of his profession. But the confession of virtue is of no less consequence in his mouth that hateth the same, forsomuch as truth by force doth wrest it from him, and if he will not admire it in him, at least, to adorne himselfe he will put it on. Our composition, both publike and private, is full of imperfection; yet is there nothing in nature unserviceable, no not inutility it selfe; nothing thereof hath beene insinuated in this huge universe but holdeth some fit place therein. Our essence is cymented with crased qualities; ambition, jealosie, envy, revenge, superstition, dispaire, lodge in us, with so naturall a possession, as their image is also discerned in beasts: yea and cruelty, so unnaturall a vice: for in the middest of compassion, we inwardly feele a kinde of bitter-sweet-pricking of malicious delight to see others suffer; and children feele it also:
This fellow sure with much a doe,
Will tell great tales and trifles too.Suave mari magno turbantibus æquora ventis,The seed of which qualities, who should roote out of man, should ruine the fundamental conditions of our life: In matter of policy likewise some necessary functions are not onely base, but faulty: vices finde therein a seate and employ themselves in the stitching up of our frame; as poysons in the preservations of our health. If they become excusable because wee have neede of them, and that common necessity effaceth their true property; let us resigne the acting of this part to hardy Citizens, who sticke not to sacrifice their. honours and consciences, as those of old, their lives, for their Countries availe and safety. We that are more weake had best assume taskes of more ease and lesse hazard. The Common-wealth requireth some to betray, some to lie, and some to massaker: leave we that commission to people more obedient and more pliable. Truly, I have often beene vexed to see our judges, by fraude or false hopes of favour or pardon, draw on a malefactor, to bewray his offence; employing therein both cousenage and impudencie. It were fit for justice, and Plato himselfe, who favoureth this custome, to furnish me with meanes more sutable to my humour. 'Tis a malicious justice, and in my conceit no lesse wounded by it selfe then by others. I answered not long since, that hardly could I betray my Prince for a particular man, who should be very sory to betray a particular man for my Prince. And loath not onely to deceive, but that any be deceived in me; whereto I will neither furnish matter nor occasion. In that little busines I have managed betweene our Princes, amid the divisions and subdivisions which at this day so teare and turmoile us, I have curiously heeded, that they mistake me not, nor muffled themselves in my maske. The professors of that trade hold themselves most covert; pretending and counterfeiting the greatest indifference and neernes to the cause they can. As for me, I offer my selfe in my liveliest reasons, in a forme most mine owne: A tender and young Negotiator, and who had rather faile in my businesses then in my selfe. Yet hath this been hitherto with so good hap (for surely fortune is in these matters a principal actor) that few have dealt betwene party and party with lesse suspition and more inward favour. I have in all my proceedings an open fashion, easie to insinuate and give itselfe credit at first acquaintance. Sincerity, plainenesse, and naked truth, in what age soever, finde also their opportunitie and employment. Besides, their liberty is little called in question, or subject to hate, who deale without respect of their owne interest. And they may truely use the answer of Hyperides unto the Athenians, complaining of his bitter invectives and sharpenesse of his speech: Consider not, my masters whether I am free, but whether I be so, without taking ought, or bettering my state by it. My liberty also hath easily discharged me from all suspition of faintnesse, by its vigor (for forbearing to speake any thing, though it bit or stung them; I could not have said worse in their absence) and because it carrieth an apparant show of simplicity and carelesnesse. I pretend no other fruit by negotiating then to negotiate; and annex no long pursuites or propositions to it. Every action makes his particular game, win he if he can. Nor am I urged with the passion of love or hate unto great men; nor is my wil shackled with anger, or particular respect. I regard our Kings with an affection simply lawfull and meerely civil, neither mooved nor unmoov'd by private interest: for which I like my selfe the better. The generall and just cause bindes me no more then moderately, and without violent fits. I am not subject to these piercing pledges and inward gages. Choller and hate are beyond the duty of justice, and are passions fitting only those whose reason is not sufficient to hold them to their duty, Utatur motu animi, qui uti ratione non potest: 'Let him use the motion of his minde that cannot use reason.' All lawfull intentions are of themselves temperate: if not, they are altered into sedicious and unlawful. It is that makes me march every where with my head aloft, my face and heart open. Verily (and I feare not to avouch it) I could easily for a neede bring a candle to Saint Michæll, and another to his Dragon, as the good old woman. I will follow the best side to the fire, but not into it, if I can choose. If neede require, let Montaigne my Mannor-house be swallowed up in publike ruine: but if there be no such necessity, I will acknowledge my selfe beholding unto fortune if she please to save it; and for its safety employ as much scope as my endevours can affoord me. Was it not Atticus, who, cleaving to the right (but losing side), saved himself by his moderation, in that generall Shipwracke of the world, amidst so many changes and divers alterations? To private men, such as he was, it is more easie. And in such kinde of businesse I think one dealeth justly not to be too forward to insinuate or invite himselfe. To hold a staggering or middle course, to beare an unmooved affection, and with out inclination in the troubles of his country and publike divisions, I deeme neither seemely nor honest: Ea non media, sed nulla via est, velut eventum expectantium, quo fortunæ consilia sua applicant: 'That is not the mid-way, but a mad way, or no way, as of those that expect the event with intent to apply their dessignes as fortune shall fall out.' That may be permitted in the affaires of neighbours. So did Gelon, the tyrant of Siracusa, suspend his inclination in the Barbarian wars against the Greeks, keeping Ambasdours at Delphos, with presents, to watch on what side the victory would light, and to apprehend the fittest occasion of reconcilement with the victors. It were a kind of treason to do so in our owne affaires and domesticall matters, wherein of necessity one must resolve and take a side; but for a man that hath neither charge nor expresse commandement to urge him, not to busie or entermedle himselfe therein, I holde it more excusable: (Yet frame I do not this excuse for my selfe), then in forraine and strangers wars, wherewith, according to our laws, no man is troubled against his will. Neverthelesse, those who wholly ingage themselves into them, may carry such an order and temper, as the storme (without offending them) may glide over their head. Had wee not reason to hope as much of the deceased Bishop of Orleans, Lord of Morvilliers? And I know some who at this present worthily bestirre themselves, in so even a fashion or pleasing a manner, that they are likely to continue on foote, whatsoever iniurious alteration or fall the heavens may prepare against us. I holde it onely fit for Kings to to be angry with Kings: And mocke at those rash spirits, who from the braverie of their hearts offer themselves to so unproportionate quarrels. For one undertaketh against a Prince, in marching couragiously for his honour, and according to his duty: If hee love not such a man, hee doth better: at least he esteemeth him. And the cause of lawes especially, and defence of the auncient state, hath ever found this priviledge, that such as for their owne interest disturbe the same, excuse (if they honour not) their defenders. But wee ought not terme duty (as now a dayes wee do) a sower rigour and intestine carbbednesse, proceeding of private interest and passion: nor courage a treacherous and malicious proceeding. Their disposition to frowardnesse and mischiefs, they entitle Zeale: That's not the cause doth heate them, 'tis their owne interest: They kindle a warre, not because it is just, but because it is warre. Why may not a man beare himselfe betweene enemies featly and faithfully? Doe it, if not altogether with an equall (for it may admit different measure at least with a sober affection, which may not so much engage you to the one, that he looke for al at your bands. Content your selfe with a moderate proportion of their favour, and to glide in troubled waters without fishing in them. Th' other manner of offering ones uttermost endevours to both sides, implyeth lesse discretion then conscience. What knows he to whom you betray another, as much your friend as himselfe, but you will do the like for him, when his turne shall come. He takes you for a villaine: whilst that hee heares you, and gathers out of you, and makes his best use of your disloyalty. For double fellowes are onely beneficiall in what they bring, but we must looke they carry away as little as may be. I carry nothing to the one which I may not (having opportunity) say unto the other, the accent only changed a little: and report either but indifferent or knowne or common things. No benefit can induce mee to lye unto them: what is entrusted to my silence I conceale religiously, but take as little in trust as I can. Princes secrets are a troublesome charge to such as have nought to do with them. I ever by my good will capitulate with them, that they trust mee with very little: but let them assuredly trust what I disclose unto them. I alwayes knew more than I wold. An open speach opens the way to another, and draws all out, even as Wine and Love. Philippedes, in my minde, answered King Lysimachus wisely when hee demaunded of him, what of his wealth or state hee should empart unto him: Which and what you please (quoth hee) so it be not your secrets. I see every one mutinie, if another conceale the deapth or mysterie of the affaires from him, wherein he pleaseth to employ him, or have but purloyned any circumstance from him. For my part, I am content one tell me no more of his businesse then he will have me know or deale in; nor desire I that my knowledge exceede or straine my word. If I must needs be the instrument of cozinage it shall at least be with safety of my conscience. I will not be esteemed a servant, nor so affectionate, nor yet so faithfull, that I be judged fit to betray any man. Who is unfaithfull to himselfe may be excused if hee be faithlesse to his Master. But Princes entertaine not men by halfes, and despise bounded and conditionall service. What remedy? I freely tell them my limits; for a slave I must not be but unto reason, which yet I cannot compasse; And they are to blame, to exact from a free man the like subjection unto their service, and the same obligation, which they may from those they have made and bought, and whose fortune dependeth particularly and expresly on theirs. The lawes have delivered mee from much trouble; they have chosen mee a side to followe, and appointed mee a maister to obey; all other superiority and duty ought to bee relative unto that, and bee restrained. Yet, may it not be concluded, that if my affection should otherwise transport mee, I would presently afforde my helping hand unto it. Will and desires are a lawe to themselves, actions are to receive it of publike institutions: All these procedings of mine are somewhat dissonant from our formes. They should produce no great effects, nor holde out long among us. Innocencie it selfe could not in these times nor negotiate without dissimulation, nor trafficke without lying. Neither are publike functions of my diet; what my profession requires thereto, I furnish in the most private manner I can. Being a childe, I was plunged into them up to the eares, and had good successe; but I got loose in good time. I have often since shunned medling with them, seldome accepted, and never required; ever holding my back toward ambition; but if not as rowers, who goe forward as it were backeward: Yet so, as I am lesse beholding to resolution, then to my good fortune, that I was not wholly embarked in them. For there are courses lesse against my taste, and more comfortable to my carriage, by which, if heretofore it had called mee to the service of the common-wealth, and my advancement unto credit in the world: I know that in following the same I had exceeded the reason of my conceite. Those which comm only say against my profession that what I terme liberty, simplicity and plainenesse in my behaviour, is arte, cunning and subtilty; and rather discretion then goodnesse, industry then nature, good wit then good hap, doe mee more honour then shame. But truely they make my cunning overcunning. And whosoever hath traced mee and nearely looked into my humours, Ile loose a good wager if hee confesse not that there is no rule in their schoole, could, a midde such crooked pathes and divers windings, square and report this naturall motion, and maintaine an apparance of liberty and licence so equall and inflexible: and that all the attention and wit is not of power to bring them to it. The way to trueth is but one and simple, that of particular profit and benefit of affaires a man hath in charge, double, uneven and accidentall. I have often seene these counterfet and artificiall liberties in practise, but most commonly without successe. They favour of Aesopes Asse, who in emulation of the dogge, layde his two fore-feete very jocondly upon his masters shoulders but looke how many blandishments the prety dogge received, under one, so many bastinadoes were redoubled upon the poore Asses backe. Id maxime quemque decet: quod est cuiusque suum maxime: (Cic. Off. i.) 'That becomes every man especially which is his owne especially.' I will not deprive cousinage of her ranke, that were to understand the world but ill: I know it hath often done profitable service, it supporteth, yea and nourisheth the greatest part of mens vacations.
E terra magnum alterius spectare laborem. -- Lucr. ii. 1.
'Tis sweet on graund seas, when windes waves turmoyle,
From land to see an others greevous toyle.
There are some lawfull vices: as many actions, or good or excusable, unlawfull. Iustice in it selfe naturall and universall is otherwise ordered, and more nobly distributed, then this other especiall and nationall justice, restrained and suted to the neede of our pollicie: Veri juris germanæque iustitiæ solidam et excess effigiem nullam tenemus: umbra et imaginibus utimur: (Cic. Off. iii.) 'Wee have no lively nor life-like portraiture of upright law and naturall justice: wee use but the shaddowes and colours of them.' So that wise Dandamys, hearing the lives of Socrates, Pythagoras and Diogenes repeated, in other things judged them great and worth men, but overmuch subjected to the reverence of the lawes: which to authorize and second, true vertue is to decline very much from his naturall vigor: and not onely by their permission, but perswasions, divers vicious actions are committed and take place. Ex Senatus consultis plebisque scitis scelera exercentur: 'Even by decrees of counsell and by statute-laws are mischiefes put in practise.' I follow the common phrase, which makes a difference betweene profitable and honest things: terming some natural] actions which are not only profitable but necessary, dishonest and filthy. But to continue our examples of treason. Two which aspired unto the kingdome of Thrace were falne into controversie for their right. The Emperor hindred them from falling together by the eares: the one, under colour of contriving some friendly accord by an enterview inviting the other to a feast in his house, imprisoned and murthred him. Justice required that the Romanes should be satisfied for this outrage: some difficulties empeached the ordinary course. What they could not lawfully doe without warre and hazard, they attempted to accomplish by treason; what they coulde not honestly atchieve, they profitably compassed. For exployting whereof, Pomponius Flaccus was thought most fitte; who trayning the fellow into his Nettes by fained wordes and sugred assurances, in liew of the favour and honour hee promised him, sent him bound hand and foote to Rome. One traytor over-reached another against common custome; For, they are all full of distrust, and 'tis very hard to surprize them in their owne arte: witnesse the heavy and dismall experience we have lately felt of it. Let who liste bee Pomponius Flaccus; and there are too-too many that will bee so. As for my part, both my word and faith are as the rest, pieces of this common body; their best effect is the publicke service: that's ever presupposed with mee. But as if one should command mee to take the charge of the Rolles or Recordes of the Pallace, I would answere, I have no skill in them; or to bee a leader of Pioners, I would say, I am called to a worthier office. Even so, who would goe about to employ mee, not to murther or poyson, but to lye, betraye and forsweare my selfe, I would tell him, If I have robbed or stolne any thing from any man, send mee rather to the Gallies. For a Gentleman may lawfully speake, as did the Lacedemonians, defeated by Antipater, upon the points of their agreement: 'You may impose as heavy burdens, and harmfull taxes upon us as you please, but you lose your time to command us any shamefull or dishonest things.' Every man should give himselfe the oath, which the Aegyptian Kings solemnly and usually presented to their judges: Not to swarve from their consciences, what command soever they should receive from themselves to the contrary. In such commissions there is an evident note of ignominie and condemnation. And whosoever gives them you, accuseth you; and if you conceive them right, gives you them as a trouble and burthen. As much as the publike affaires amend by your endevours, your owne empaireth; the better you d o, so much the worse doe you. And it shall not bee newe, nor peradventure without shadowe of justice, that hee who setteth you a worke, becommeth your ruine. If treason bee in any case excusable, it is onely then, when 'tis employed to punish and betray treason. Wee shall finde many treacheries to have beene not refused, but punished by them, in whose favour they were undertaken. Who knowes not the sentence of Fabritius against Pyrrus his Physition? And the commaunder hath often severely revenge d them on the partie bee employed in them, refusing so unbridled a credite and power, and disavowing so lewde and so vile an obedience. Iaropelc, Duke of Russia, sollicited an Hungarian Gentleman to betraye Boleslaus, King of Polonia, in contriving his death or furnishing the Russians with meanes to work him some notable mischiefe. This gallant presently bestirres him in it, and more than ever applying himselfe to the Kings service, obtained to bee of his counsell, and of those hee most trusted. By which advantages, and with the opportunity of his masters absence, hee betrayed Vicilicia, a great and rich citie, to the Russians: which was whollie sakt and burnt by them, with a generall slaughter, both of the inhabitants, of what sexe or age soever, and a great number of nobility thereabouts, whom to that purpose be had assembled. Iaropelc, his anger thus asswaged with revenge, and his rage mitigated (which was not without pretext, for Boleslaus had mightily wronged and in like manner incensed him) and glutted with the fruite of treason, examining the uglinesse thereof, naked and alone, and with impartiall eyes beholding the same, not distempered by passion, conceived such a remorse, and tooke it so to heart that hee forthwith caused the eyes of his instrumentall executioner to be pulled out, and his tongue and privy parts to be cut off. Antigonus perswaded the Argiraspides soldiers to betray Eumenes their generall, and his adversaries unto him, whom when they had delivered, and he had caused to be slaine, himselfe desired to be the Commissary of divine justice, for the punishment of so detestable a trecherie: and resigning them into the hands of the Governor of the Province, gave him expresse charge, in what manner soever it were, to rid himselfe of them, and bring them to some mischievious end. Whereby, of that great number they were, not one ever after sawe the smoake of Macedon. The better they served his turne, the more wicked hee judged them, and the more worthie of punishment. The slave that betraied the corner wherein his master P. Sulpicius lay hid, was set at liberty, according to the promise of Syllas proscription: but according to the promise of common reason, being freed, hee was throwne headlong from off the Tarpeyan rocke. And Clovis, King of France, in liew of the golden armes he had promised the three servants of Cannacre, caused them to be hanged, after they had by his sollicitation betraide their maister unto him. They hang them up with the purse of their reward about their neckes. Having satisfied their second and speciall faith, they also satisfie the generall and first. Mahomet the second, desirous to rid himselfe of his brother (through jealousie of rule, and according to the stile of that race) employed one of his officers in it; who stifled him, by in much water powred downe his throate all at once: which done, in expiation of the fact, he delivered the murtherer into the hands of his brothers mother (for they were brethren but by the father's side) shee, in his presence, opened his bosome, and with hir owne revenging handes searching for his heart, pluckt it out and cast it unto dogges to eate. Even unto vile dispositions (having made use of a filthy action) it is so sweete and pleasing, if they may with security, as it were, in way of recompence and holy correction, sowe one sure stitch of goodnesse and justice unto it. Besides, they respect the ministers of such horrible crimes as people that still upbraide them with them, and covet by their deaths to smother the knowledge and cancell the testimony of their practises. Now if, perhaps, not to frustrate the publike neede of that last and desperate remedy, one rewarde you for it: yet hee who doth it (if hee bee not as bad himselfe), will hould you a most accursed and execrable creature. And deemeth you a greater traytor than he whom you have betrayed; for with your owne han des hee touched the lewdnesse of your disposition, without disavowing, without object. But employeth you, as we do out- cast persons in the executions of justice; an office as profitable as little honest. Besides the basenesse of such commissions, there is in them a prostitution of conscience. The daughter of Sejanus could not in Rome, by any true formall course of lawe, bee put to death, because shee was a virgine: that lawes might have their due course, shee was first deflowred by the common hang-man and then strangled. Not his hand onely, but his soule is a slave unto publike commodity. When Amurath the first to agravate the punishment of his subjects who had given support unto his son's unnatural rebellion, appointed their neerest kinsmen to lend their hands unto this execution: I finde it verie honest in some of them, who rather chose unjustly to bee held guiltie of anothers parricide then to serve justice with their owne. And whereas in some paltrie townes forced in my time, I have seene base varlets for the savegard of their owne lives, yeild to hang their friends and companions, I ever thought them of worse condition then such as were hanged. It is reported that Witoldus Prince of Lituania, introduced an order with that nation, which was that the party condemned to die should, with his owne hands, make himselfe away; finding it strange that a third man, being guiltlesse of the fact, shoulde bee employed and charged to commit a murther. When an urgent circumstance, or any violent and unexpected accident, induceth a Prince for the necessitie of his estate, or as they say for state matters, to breake his worde and faith, or otherwise forceth him out of his ordinary duty, hee is to ascribe, that necessity unto a lash of Gods rod. It is no vice, for hee hath quit his reason unto a reason more publike and more powerfull, but surely 'tis ill fortune. So that to one who asked mee what remedy? I replyde, none; were hee truely rackt betweene these two extreames (Sed videat ne quæretur latebra periurio: (Cic. Off. iii.) 'But let him take heede he seeke not a starting hole for perjurie') hee must have done it; but if hee did it sans regret or scruple, if it greeved him not to doe it, 'tis an argument his conscience is but in ill tearmes. Now were there any one of so tender or cheverell a conscience, to whome no cure might seeme worthy of so extreame a remedy, I should prise or regard him no whit the lesse. He cannot loose himselfe more handsomely nor more excusablie. We cannot doe every thing, nor bee in every place. When all is done, thus and thus must wee often, as unto our last Anker and sole refuge, resigne the protection of our vessell unto the onely conduct of heaven. To what juster necessity can hoe reserve himselfe? What is lesse possible for him to do, then what he cannot effect, without charge unto his faith, and imputation to his honour? things which peradventure should bee dearer to him then his owne salvation and the safety of his people. When with enfoulded armes hee shall devoutly call on God for his ayde, may hee not hope that his fatherlie mercie shall not refuse the extraordinary favour and sinne-forgiving grace of his all powerfull hand, unto a pure and righteous hand? They are dangerous examples, rare and crased exceptions to our naturall rules: wee must yeelde unto them, but with great moderation and heedie circumspection. No private commodity may any way deserve we should offer conscience th is wrong; the common-wealth may, when it is most apparant and important. Timoleon did fitlie warrant and ward the strangenes of his exploite by the teares he shed, remembering it was with a brotherlie hand he slew the tyrant. And it neerely pinched his selfe gnawne conscience that he was compelled to purchas the common good at the rate of his honestie. The sacred Senate itselfe, by his meanes delivered from thraldome, durst not definitively decide of so haughtie an action and rend in two so urgent and different semblances. But the Siracusans having opportunely and at that very instant sent to the Corinthians to require their protection, and a governour able to reestablish their towne in former majestie, and deliver Sicilie from a number of pettie tyrants, which grievously oppressed the same, they appointed Timoleon, with this new caveat and declaration: That according as hee should well or ill demeane himselfe in his charge, their sentence should incline either to grace him as the redeemer of his country or disgrace him as the murtherer of his brother. The fantasticall conclusion hath some excuse upon the danger of the example and importance of an act so different, and they did well to discharge their judgement of it, or to embarke him some where else, and on their considerations. Now the proceedings of Timoleon in his renowned journie did soone yeelde his cause the cleerer, so worthily and vertuously did hee every way beare himselfe therein. And the good hap which ever accompanied him in the encombrances and difficulties hee was to subdue in the atchievement of his noble enterprise, seemed to bee sent him by the Gods, conspiring to second, and consenting to favour his justification. This mans end is excusable, if ever any could bee. But the encrease and profit of the publike revenues, which served the Roman Senate for a pretext of the ensuing-foule conclusion I purpose to relate, is not of su fficient force to warrant such injustice. Certaine cities had by the order and permission of the Senate, with mony purchased their libertie at the hands of L. Sylla. The matter comming in question againe, the Senate condemned them to be fineable and taxed as before; and the mony they had employed for their ransome should bee deemed as lost and forfeited. Civill warres do often produce such enormous examples, That we punish private men, for so much as they have beleeved us when wee were other then now wee are. And one same magistrate doth lay the penalty of his change on such as cannot do withal. The scboole-master whippeth his scholler for his docility, and the guide striketh the blind man he leadeth. A horrible image of justice. Some rules in philosophy are both false and faint. The example proposed unto us of respecting private utility before faith given, hath not sufficient power by the circumstance they adde unto it. Theeves have taken you, and on your oath to pay them a certaine sum of money, have set you at liberty againe. They erre that say an honest man is quit of his worde and faith without paying, beeing out of their hands. There is no such matter. What feare and danger hath once forced mee to will and consent unto, I am bound to will and performe, being out of danger and feare. And although it have but forced my tongue and not my will, yet am I boun to make my word good and keepe my promise. For my part, when it hath somet imes unadvisedly over-runne my thought, yet have I made a conscience to disavowe the same. Otherwise wee should by degrees come to abolish all the right a third man taketh and may challenge of our promises. Quasi vero forti viro vis possit adhiberi: (Cic. Off. iii.) As though any force could be used upon a valiant man.' 'Tis onely lawfull for our private interest to excuse the breache of promise, if wee have rashlie promised things in themservles wicked and unjust. For, the right of vertue ought to overrule the right of our bond. I have heretofore placed Epaminondas in the first ranke of excellent men, and now recant it not. Unto what high pitch raised hee the consideration of his particular duty? who never slew man hee had vanquished, who for that unvaluable good of restoring his country hir liberty, made it a matter of conscience to murther a Tyrant or his complices, without a due and formall course of lawe: and who judged him a bad man, how good a citizen soever, that amongst his enemies and in the fury of a battle, spared not his friend or his hoste. Loe here a minde of a rich composition. Hee matched unto the most violent and rude actions of men, goodnesse and courtesie, yea and the most choise and delicate that may be found in the scboole of Philosophie. This so high-raised courage, so swelling and so obstinate against sorow, death and povertie, was it nature or arte made it relent, even to the utmost strai ne of exceeding tendernesse and debonarety of complexion? Being cloathed in the dreadfull livery of steele and blood, he goeth on crushing and brusing a nation, invincible to all others but to himselfe: yet mildely relenteth in the midst of a combat or confusion, when he meets with his host or with his friend. Verily this man was deservedly fit to command in warre, which in the extremest furie of his innated rage, made him to feele the sting of courtesies and remorse of gentlenesse then when, all inflamed, it foamed with furie and burned with murder. 'Tis a miracle to be able to joyne any shew of justice with such actions. But it onIy belongeth to the unmatched courage of Epaminondas, in that confused plight, to joyne mildnesse and facility of the most gentle behaviour that ever was unto them, yea, and pure innocency it selfe. And whereas one told the Mamertins, that statutes were of no force against armed men: another to the Tribune of the people, that the time of justice and warre were two: a third, that the confused noise of warre and clangor of armes bindred him from understanding the sober voice of the lawes: This man was not so much as empeached from conceiving the milde sound of civilitie and kindnesse. Borroived hee of his enemies the custome of sacrificing to the muses (when he went to the warres) to qualifie by their sweetnesse and mildnesse that martiall furie and hostile surlinesse? Let us not feare, after so great a master, to hold that some things are unlawfull, even against our fellest enemies: that publike interest ought not to challenge all of all against private interest: Manente memoria etiam in dissidio publicorum foederum privati juris: 'Some memorie of private right continuing even in disagreement of publike contracts.'-----et nulla potentia viresAnd that all things be not lawfull to an honest man, for the service of his King, the generall cause and defence of the lawes. Non enim patria præstat omnibus officiis, et ipsi conducit pios habere cives in parentes: (Cic. Off. iii.) 'For our countrey is not above all other duties: it is good for the country to have her inhabitans use pietie toward their parents.' 'Tis an instruction befitting the times: wee need not harden our hearts with these plates of iron and steele; it sufficeth our shoulders be armed with them: it is enough to d'ipe our pens in inke, too much to die them in blood. If it be greatnesse of courage, and th' effect of a rare and singular vertue, to neglect friendship, despise private respects and bonds; ones word and kindred, for the common good and obedience of the Magistrate: it is verily able to excuse us from it, if we but alledge that it is a greatnesse unable to lodge in the greatnesse of Epaminondas his courage. I abhorre the enraged admonitions of this other unruly spirit.
Præstandi, ne quid peccet amicus, habet: -- Ovid. Pont. i. El. viii. 37.
No power hath so great might,
To make friends still goe right.----- dum tela micant, non vos pietatis imagoLet us bereave wicked, bloodie and traiterous dispositions of this pretext of reason: leave we that impious and exorbitant justice, and adhere unto more humane imitations. Oh, what may time and example bring to passe! In an encounter of the civill warres against Cinna, one of Pompeyes souldiers, having unwittingly slaine his brother, who was on the other side, through shame and sorrow presently killed himselfe; And some yeeres after, in another civill warre of the said people, a souldier boldly demanded a reward of his Captaines for killing his owne brother. Falsly doe wee argue honour, and the beautie of an action, by it's profit: and conclude as ill, to thinke every one is bound unto it, and that it is honest if it be commodious.
Ulla, nec adversa conspecti fronte parentes
Commoveant, vultus gladio turbante verendos. -- Lucan. vii. 320. Cæs.
While swords are brandisht, let no shew of grace
Once moove you, nor your parents face to face,
But with your swords disturb their reverend grace.Omnia non pariter rerum sunt omnibus apta. -- Prop. iii. El. viii. 7.Choose we out the most necessary and most beneficiall matter of humane society, it will be a mariage; yet is it that the Saints counsell findeth and deemeth the contrary side more honest, excluding from it the most reverend vocation of men; as wee to our races assigne such beasts as are of least esteeme.
All things alike to all
Do not well-fitting fall.