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.
N REGARD of the common sort of men, few things touch me, or (to speake properly) sway me; for it is reason they touch, so they possesse-us not. I have great neede, both by study and discourse, to encrease this priviledge of insensibilitie, which is naturally crept farre into me. I am not wedded unto many things, and by consequence not passionate of them. I have my sight cleare, but tied to few objects; My senses delicate and gentle, but my apprehension and application hard and dull. I engage my selfe with difficulty. As much as I can I employ my selfe wholly to my selfe. And in this very subject I would willingly bridle and uphold my affection, lest it be too farre plunged therein; Seeing it is a Subject I possesse at the mercy of others, and over which fortune hath more interest then my selfe. So as even in my health, which I so much esteeme, it were requisite not to desire, nor so carefully to seeke it, as thereby I might light upon intollerable diseases. We must moderate our selves betwixt the hate of pain and the love of pleasure. Plato sets downe a meane course of life betweene both. But to affections that distract me from my selfe, and divert me elsewhere, surely to such I oppose my selfe with all my force. Mine opinion is, that one should lend himselfe to others, and not give himselfe but to himselfe. Were my wil easie to engage or apply it selfe, I could not continue: I am over tender both by nature and custome,Fugax rerum, securaque in otia natus. -- Ovid. Trist. 1 iii. Eleg. ii. 9.Contested and obstinate debates, which in the end would give mine adversarie advantage, the issue which would make my earnest pursuit ashamed, would perchance torment mee cruelly. If I vexed as other men, my soule should never have strength to beare th' alaroms and emotions that follow such as embrace much. She would presently be displaced by this intestine agitation. If at any time I have beene urged to the managing of strange affaires, I have promised to undertake them with my hand, but not with my lungs and liver; to charge, and not to incorporate them into me, to have a care, but nothing at all to be overpassionate of them: I looke to them, but I hatch them not. I worke enough to dispose and direct the domesticall troubles within mine owne entrailes and veines, without harbouring, or importune my selfe with any forraine employments; and am sufficiently interessed with my proper, naturall and essentiall affaires, without seeking others businesses. Such as know how much they owe to themselves, and how many offices of their owne they are bound to performe, shall finde that nature hath given them this commission fully ample and nothing idle. Thou hast businesse enough within thy selfe, therefore stray not abroad; Men give themselves to hire. Their faculties are not their own, but theirs to whom they subject themselves; their inmates, and not themselves, are within them. This common humour doth not please me. We should thriftily husband our mindes liberty, and never engage it but upon just occasions, which if we judge impartially, are very few in number. Looke on such as suffer themselves to be transported and swayed, they doe it every where; in little as well as in great matters, to that which concerneth as easie as to that which toucheth them not. They thrust themselves indifferently into all actions, and are without life if without tumultuary agitation. In negotiis sunt negotii causa: 'They are busie that they may not be idle, or else in action for actions sake.' They seeke worke but to be working. It is not so much because they will goe, as for that they cannot stand still - much like to a rowling stone, which never stayes untill it come to a lying place. To some men employment is a marke of sufficiencie and a badge of dignity. Their spirits seeke rest in action, as infants repose in the cradle. They may be said to be as serviceable to their friends as importunate to themselves, No man distributes his mony to others, but every one his life and time. We are not so prodigall of any thing as of those whereof to be covetous would be both commendable and profitable for us. I follow a cleane contrary course; I am of another complexion; I stay at home and looke to my selfe. What I wish for I commonly desire the same but mildely, and desire but little; so likewise I seldome employ and quietly embusie my selfe. Whatever they intend and act they do it with all their will and vehemency. There are so many dangerous steps, that for the more security wee must somewhat slightly and superficially slide through the world, and not force it. Pleasure it selfe is painefull in its height.
Avoiding active businesse,
And borne to secure idlenesse.------ incedis per ignes,The towne counsell of Bourdeaux chose me Maior of their City, being farre from France, but further from any such thought. I excused my selfe, and would have avoided it; but they told mee I was to blame, the more because the Kings commandement was also employed therein. It is a charge should seeme so much the more goodly because it hath neither fee nor reward other than the honour in the execution. It lasteth two yeares, but may continue longer by a second election, which seldome hapneth. To me it was, and never had been but twice before: some yeares past the Lord of Lansac, and lately to the Lord of Biron, Marshall of France, in whose place I succeeded, and left mine to the Lord of Matigon, likewise Marshall of France, glorious by so noble an assistance.
Sub positos cineri deloso. -- Hor. Car. 1. ii. Od. i. 7.
You passe through fire (though unfraid)
Under deceitfull ashes laid.Uterque bonus pacis bellique minister.Fortune would have a share in my promotion by this particular circumstance which shee of her owne added thereunto, not altogether vaine; for Alexander disdained the Corinthian Ambassadors who offred him the freedome and Burgeoise of their Citie, but when they told him that Bacchus and Hercules were likewise in their registers hee kindly thanked them and accepted their offer. At my first arrivall I faithfully deciphered and conscientiously displaied my selfe such as I am indeede, without memorie, without diligence, without experience and without sufficiencie; so likewise without hatred, without ambition, covetousnesse and without violence; that so they might be duly instructed what service they might or hope or expect at my hands. And forsomuch as the knowledge they had of my deceased father, and the honour they bare unto his memory, had mooved them to chuse me to that dignitie, I told them plainly I should be verie sorie that any man should worke such an opinion in my will as their affaires and Citie had done in my fathers, while he held the said government, whereunto they had called me. I remembred to have seene him, being an infant and he an old man, his minde cruelly turmoiled with the publike toile, forgetting the sweet aire of his owne house, whereunto the weakenes of his age had long before tied him, neglecting the care of his health and family, in a maner despising his life, which as one engaged for them, he much endangered, riding long and painefull journies for them. Such a one was he, which humor proceeded from the bountie and goodnesse of his nature. Never was minde more charitable or more popular. This course, which I commend in others, I love not to follow. Neither am I without excuse. He had heard that a man must forget himselfe for his neighbour; that in respect of the generall, the particular was not to be regarded. Most of the worlds-rules and precepts hold this traine, to drive us out of our selves into the wide world, to the use of publike societie. They presumed to worke a goodly effect in distracting and withdrawing us from our selves, supposing wee were by a naturall Instinct too-too much tied unto it: and to this end have not spared to say any thing. For to the wise it is no novelty to reach things as they serve, and not as they are. Truth hath her lets, discommodities and incomparabilities with us. Wee must not often deceive others, lest we beguile our selves; and seele our eyes, and dull our understanding, thereby to repaire and amend them. Imperiti enim judicant, et qui frequenter in hoc ipsum fallendi sunt, ne errent: 'For unskilfull men judge, who must often even therefore be deceived, lest they erre and bee deceived.' When they prescribe us, to love three, foure, yea fifty degrees of things before our selves, they present us with the Arte of shooters, who to come neere the marke take their aime far above the same. To make a crooked sticke straight, we bend it the contrary way. I suppose that in the [temple] of Pallas, as we see in all other religions, they had some apparant mysteries, of which they made shew to all the people, and others more high and secret, to be imparted onely to such as were professed. It is likely that the true point of friendship, which every man oweth to himselfe, is to be found in these. Not a false amitie, which makes us embrace glory, knowledge, riches, and such like, with a principall and immoderate affection, as members of our being; nor an effeminate and indiscreet friendship, Wherein hapneth as to the Ivie, which corrupts and ruines the wals it claspeth; But a sound and regular amity, equally profitable and Pleasant. Who so understandeth all her duties and exerciseth them, hee is rightly endenized in the Muses cabinet; Hee hath attained the type of humane Wisedome and the perfection of our happinesse. This man, knowing exactly what hee oweth to himselfe, findeth that he ought to employ the use of other men and of the world unto himselfe; which to performe, he must contribute the duties and offices that concerne him unto publike societie. He that lives not somewhat to others, liveth little to himselfe. Qui sibi amicus est, scito hune amicum omnibus esse: (Sen. Epist. vi. f.) 'He that is friend to himselfe, know, he is friend to all.' The principall charge we have is every man his particular conduct. And for this onely wee live here. As he that should forget to live well and religiously; and by instructing and directing others should thinke himselfe acquitted of his duty, would be deemed a foole; Even so, who forsaketh to live healthy and merrily himselfe, therwith to serve another, in mine opinion taketh a bad and unnaturall course. I will not that in any charge one shall take in hand he refuse or thinke much of his attention, of his labour, of his steps, of his speech, of his sweat, and if need be of his blood.
Both, both in peace and warre,
Right serviceable are.-----non ipse pro charis amicis,But it is onely borrowed and accidentally, the minde remaining ever quiet and in health, not without action, but without vexation or passion; simply to moove or be dooing costs it so little that even sleeping it is mooving and dooing; but it must have its motion with discretion, for the body receiveth the charges imposed on him, justly as they are; But the spirit extendeth them, and often to his hinderance makes them heavy, giving them what measure it pleaseth. Like things are effected by divers efforts and different contentions of will; the one may goe without the other, for how many men doe dayly hazard themselves in warre which they regard not, and presse into the danger of the battells, the losse whereof shall no whit breake their next sleepe? Whereas some man in his own house, free from this danger, which he durst not so much as have look't towards it, is for the wars issue more passionate, and therewith hath his minde more perplexed than the souldier that therin employeth his blood and life. I know how to deal in publike charges without departing from my selfe. This sharpnesse and violence of desires hindreth more then steade the conduct of what we undertake, filling us with impatience to the events, either contrary or slow, and with bitternesse and jealousie toward those with whom we negotiate. Wee never governe that thing well wherewith we are possessed and directed.
Aut patria timidus perire. -- Hor. Car. iv. Od. ix. 51.
Not fearing life to end
For Country or deare friend.------Male cuncta ministratHe who therein employeth but his judgement and direction, proceeds more cheerefully, he faines, he yeelds, he deferres at his pleasure according to the occasions of necessity; hee failes of his attempt without torment or affliction, ready and prepared for a new enterprise. He marcheth alwaies with the reines in his hand. He that is besotted with this violent and tyrannicall intention doth necessarily declare much indiscretion and injustice. The violence of his desire transports him. They are rash motions, and if fortune helpe not much, of little fruit. Philosophie wills us to banish choller in the punishment of offences; not to the end revenge should be more moderate but contrary, more weighty and surely set on; wherunto this violence seemeth to bee a let. Choller doth not onely trouble, but wearieth the executioners armes. This passionate heat dulleth and consumes their force. As in too much speede, festinatio tarda est: 'Hastinesse is slow.' Haste makes waste, and hinders and stayes it selfe: ipsa se velocitas implicat: 'Swiftnesse entangles it selfe.' As for example, according as by ordinary custome I perceive, covetousnesse hath no greater let then it selfe. The more violent and extended it is, the lesse effectuall and fruitfull. Commonly it gathers wealth more speedily, being masked with a shew of liberality. A very honest Gentleman and my good friend was likely to have endangered the health of his body by an over passionate attention and earnest affection to the affaires of a Prince, who was his Maister. Which Maister hath thus described himselfe unto me: That as another, he discerneth and hath a feeling of the burthen of accidents; but such as have no remedie, he presently resolveth to suffer with patience. For the rest, after he hath appointed necessary provisions, which by the vivacitie and nimblenesse of his with hee speedily effects, hee then attends the event with quietnesse. Verily, I have seene in him at one instant a great carelesnesse and libertie, both in his actions and countenance, even in important and difficult affaires. I finde him more magnanimous and capable in bad then in good fortune. His losses are to him more glorious than his victories, and his mourning than his triumphs. Consider how in meere vaine and frivolous actions, as at chesse, tennis and such like sports, this earnest and violent engaging with an ambicious desire to winne, doth presently call both minde and limmes into disorder and indiscretion. Wherein a man doth both dazle his sight and distemper his whole body. Hee who demeaneth himselfe with most moderation both in winning and loosing is ever neerest unto himselfe, and hath his wits best about him. The lesse he is moved or passionate in play, the more safely doth be governe the same, and to his greater advantage. We hinder the minds seazure and holdfast by giving her so many things to seize upon. Some wee should onely present unto her, others fasten upon her, and others incorporate into her. Shee may see and feele all things, but must onely feede on hir selfe: And bee instructed in that which properly concerneth her, and which meerely belongeth to her essence and substance. The lawes of nature teach us what is just and fit for us. After the wise-men have told us, that according to nature no man is indigent or wanteth, and that each one is poore but in his owne opinion, they also distinguish subtilly the desires proceeding from nature, from such as grow from the disorders of our fantasie. Those whose end may be discerned are meerely hirs; and such as flie before us, and whose end we cannot attaine, are properly ours. Want of goods may easily be cured, but the poverty of the minde is incurable.
Fury and haste doe lay all waste,
Misplacing all, disgracing all.Nam si, quod satis est homini, id satis esse potesset,Socrates seeing great store of riches, jewells, and pretious stuffe, carried in pompe through the City: Oh how many things (quoth he) doe not I desire! Metrodorus lived daily with the weight of twelve ounces of foode; Epicurus with lesse; Metrocles in winter lay with sheepe, and in summer in the Cloisters of Churches. Sufficit ad id natura, quod poscit: (Sen. Epist. xc.) 'Nature is sufficient for that which it requires.'Cleanthes lived by his hands, and boasted that if Cleanthes would, he could nourish another Cleanthes. If that which nature doth exactly and originally require at our handes for the preservation of our being, is over little (as in truth what it is, and how good cheape our life may be maintained, cannot better be known or expressed than by consideration that it is so little, and for the smalnesse thereof, it is out of Fortunes reach, and she can take no hold of it) let us dispense something els unto our selves and call the custome and condition of every-one of us by the name of Nature. Let us taxe and stint and feede our selves according to that measure; let us extend both our appurtenances and reckonings thereunto. For so farre, mee seemes, we have some excuse. Custome is a second Nature, and no lesse powerfull. What is wanting to custome, I hold it a defect; and I had well nigh as leefe one should deprive mee of my life, as refraine or much abridge me of my state wherein I have lived so long. I am no more upon termes of any great alteration nor to thrust my selfe into a new and unusuall course, no not toward augmentation; it is no longer time to become other or be transformed; and as I should complaine if any great adventure should now befall me, and grieve it came not in time that I might have enjoyed the same.
Hoc sat erat, nunc, quum hoc non est, qui credimus porro
Divitias ullas animum mi explere potesse?
If it might be enough, that is enough for man,
This were enough, since it is not, how thinke we can
Now any riches fill
My minde and greedy will?I should likewise bee grieved at any inward purchase. I were better in a manner never, than so late, to become an honest man, and well practised to live when one hath no longer life. I who am ready to depart this World could easily be induced to resigne the share of wisdome I have learn't concerning the World's commerce, to any other man new-come into the world. It is even as good as Mustard after dinner. What neede have I of that good which I cannot enjoy? Whereto serveth knowledge if one have no head? It is an injury and disgrace of Fortune to offer us those presents, which forsomuch as they faile us when we should most neede them, fill us with a just spite. Guide me no more; I can go no longer. Of so many dismembrings that Sufficiency hath, patience sufficeth us. Give the capacity of an excellent treble to a Singer that hath his lungs rotten, and of eloquence to a hermit confined into the Deserts of Arabia. There needs no Arte to further a fall. The end findes it selfe in the finishing of every worke. My world is at an end, my forme is expired. I am wholly of the time past, and am bound to authorize the same, and thereto conforme my issue. I will say this by way of example, that the eclipsing or abridging of tenne dayes, which the Pope hath lately caused, hath taken me so low that I can hardly recover my selfe. I follow the yeares wherein we were wont to compt otherwise; so long and antient a custome doth challenge and recall me to it againe, I am thereby enforced to be somewhat an hereticke, Incapable of innovation though corrective. My imagination mauger my teeth runnes still tenne dayes before or tenne behinde, and whispers in mine eares: This rule toucheth those which are to come. If health it selfe, so sweetly pleasing, comes to me but by fittes, it is rather to give me cause of grief then possession of it selfe; I have no where left me to retire it. Time forsakes me, without which nothing is enjoyed. How small accompt should I make of these great elective dignities I see in the world, and which are onely given to men ready to leave the world, wherein they regard not so much how duely they shall discharge them, as how little they shall exercise them, from the beginning they looke to the end. To conclude, I am ready to finish this man, not to make another. By long custome this forme is changed into substance and Fortune into Nature. I say, therefore, that amongst us feeble creatures, each one is excusable to compt that his owne, which is comprehended under measure. And yet all beyond these limits is nothing but confusion.Quo mihi fortuna, si non conceditur uti? -- HOR. i. Epist. v. 12.
Whereto should I have much,
If I to use it grutch?
It is the largest extension we can grant our rights. The more we amplifie our neede and possession, the more we engage our selves to the crosses of fortune and adversities. The cariere of our desires must be circumscribed, and tied to strict bounds of neerest and contiguous commodities. Moreover, their course should be managed, not in a straight line having another end, but round, whose two points hold together, and end in our selves with a short compasse. The actions governed without this reflection, I meane a neere and essentiall reflection, as those of the covetous, of the ambitious, and so many others, that runne directly point-blancke, the course of which carrieth them away before them, are erroneous and crazed actions. Most of our vacations are like Playes. Mundus universus exercet histrioniam: 'All the world doth practise stage-playing.' Wee must play our parts duly, but as the part of a borrowed personage. Of a visard and apparance wee should not make a reall essence, nor proper of that which is another. Wee cannot distinguish the skinne from the shirt; it is sufficient to disguise the face without deforming the breast. I see some transforme and transubstantiate themselves into as many new formes and strange beings as they undertake charges; and who emprelate themselves even to the heart and entrailes; and entraine their offices, even sitting on their close stoole. I cannot teach them to distinguish the salutations and cappings of such as regard them, from those that respect either their office, their traine, or their mule. Tantum se fortunæ permittunt, etiam ut naturam dediscant: 'They give themselves so much over to Fortune, as they forget Nature.' They swell in minde and puffe up their naturall discourse according to the dignity of their office. The Maior of Bourdeaux, and Michæl, Lord of Montaigne, have ever beene two, by an evident separation. To be an advocate or a Treasurer one should not be ignorant of the craft incident to such callings. An honest man is not comptable for the vice and folly of his trade, and therefore ought not to refuse the exercise of it. It is the custome of his country, and there is profit in it. We must live by the World, and such as we finde it, so make use of it. But the judgement of an Emperour should be above his Empire, and to see and consider the same as a strange accident. He should know how to enjoy himselfe apart, and communicate himselfe as James and Peter, at least to himselfe, I cannot so absolutely or so deepely engage my selfe. When my wil gives me to any party, it is not with so violent a bond that my understanding is thereby infected. In the present intestine trouble of our State my interest hath not made me forget neither the commendable qualities of our adversaries, nor the reproachfull of those I have followed. They partiall extoll whatever is on their side; I doe not so much as excuse the greater number of my friends actions. A good Oratour loseth not his grace by pleading against me. The intricatenesse of our debate remooved, I have maintained my selfe in equanimity and pure indifferency. Neque extra necessitates belli, præcipuum odium gero: 'Nor beare I capitall hatred when I am out of the necessitie of warre.' Wherein I glory, for that commonly I see men erre in the contrary. Such as extend their choller and hatred beyond their affaires (as most men doe) shew that it proceedes elsewhence, and from some private cause; even as one being cured of an ulcer, and his fever remaineth still, declareth it had another more hidden beginning. It is the reason they beare none unto the cause in generall, and forsomuch as it concerneth the interest of all and of the state; But they are vexed at it, onely for this, that it toucheth them in private. And therefore are they distempered with a particular passion, both beyond justice and publike reason. Non tam omnia universi, quam ea, quæ ad quemque pertinent, singuli carpebant: 'All did not so much finde fault with all, as every one with those that appertained to every one.' I will have the advantage to be for us, which though it be not I enrage not, I stand firmely to the sounder parts. But I affect not to be noted a private enemy to others, and beyond generall reason I greatly accuse this vicious forme of obstinate contesting. He is of the League because he admireth the grace of the Duke of Guise; or he is a Hugonote, forsomuch as the King of Navarres activitie amazeth him. He finds fault in the Kings behaviours, therefore he is sedicious in his heart. I would not give the magistrate my voice that he had reason to condemne a booke, because an hereticke was therein named and extolled to be one of the best Poets of this age. Dare wee not say that a theefe hath a good leg if behave so indeed? If she be a strumpet, must she needs have a stinking breath? In wiser ages revoked they the proud title of Capitolinus they had formerly given to Marcus Manlius as the preserver of religion and publike libertie? Suppressed they the memory of his liberalitie, his deeds of armes and military rewards granted to his vertues, because to the prejudice of his countries lawes he afterwards affected a Royalty? If they once conceive an hatred against an Orator or an advocate, the next day he becommeth barbarous and uneloquent. I have elsewhere discoursed of zeale which hath driven good men into like errours. For my selfe I can say, that he doth wickedly, and this vertuously. Likewise, in prognostickes or sinister events of affaires, they will have every man blinde or dull in his owne cause, and that our perswasion and judgement serve not the truth but the project of our desires. I should rather erre in the other extremity? So much I feare my desire might corrupt me. Considering I somewhat tenderly distrust my selfe in things I most desire. I have in my dayes seene wonders in the indiscreet and prodigious facilitie of people, suffering their hopes and beliefes to be led and governed as it hath pleased and best fitted their leaders, above a hundred discontents, one in the necke of another, and beyond their fantasies and dreames. I wonder no more at those whom the apish toyes of Apollonius and Mahomet have seduced and blinded. Their sense and understanding is wholly smothered in their passion. Their discretion hath no other choise but what pleaseth them and furthereth their cause. Which I had especially observed in the beginning of our distempered factions and factious troubles. This other which is growne since by imitation surmounteth the same. Whereby I observe that it is an inseparable quality of popular errours. The first beeing gone, opinions entershocke one another, following the winde as waves doe. They are no members of the body, if they may renounce it, if they folow not the common course. But truely they wrong the just parts when they seeke to helpe them with fraude or deceipts. I have alwaies contracted the same. This meane is but for sicke braines; the healthy have surer and honester wayes to maintaine their resolutions and excuse all contrary accidents. The Heavens never saw so weighty a discord and so harmefull a hatred as that betweene Cæsar and Pompey, nor ever shall hereafter. Mee seemeth, notwithstanding I see in those noble and Heroicall mindes an exemplar and great moderation of the one toward the other. It was a jelousie of honour and emulation of command which transported them, not to a furious and indiscreete hatred, without malice or detraction. In their sharpest exploites I discover some reliques of respect and cinders of well-meaning affection. And I imagine that had it beene possible either of them desired rather to effect his purpose without overthrowing his competitour than by working his utter ruine. Note how contrary the proceeding was betweene Sylla and Marius. We must not run headlong after our affections and private interests. As in my youth I ever opposed my selfe to the motions of love, which I felt to usurpe upon me, and laboured to diminish its delights, lest in the end it might vanquish and captivate me to his mercy; So do I now in all other occasions which my will apprehendeth with an over great appetite. I bend to the contrary of my disposition as I see the same plunged and drunke with its owne Wine. I shunne so farre foorth to nourish her pleasure as I may not revoke it without a bloody losse. Those mindes which through stupidity see things but by halves enjoy this happinesse, that such as be hurtfull offend them least. It is a spirituall leprosie that hath some shew of health, and such a health as Philosophy doth not altogether contemne. But yet it may not lawfully be termed wisedome, as we often doe. And after this manner did in former times some body mocke Diogenes, who, in the dead of Winter, went all naked, embracing an image of Snow to try his patience, who, meeting him in this order, said thus unto him: 'Art thou now very colde?' 'Nothing, at all,' answered Diogenes. 'What thinkest thou to do then that is either hard or exemplar by standing in the colde?' replied the other. 'To measure constancy we must necessarily know sufferance.' But such minds as must behold crosse events and fortunes injuries in their height and sharpnesse, which must weigh and taste them according to their naturall bitternesse and charge, let them employ their skil and keep themselves from embracing the causes and divert their approaches. What did King Cotys? He payed liberally for that godly and rich Vessell which one had presented unto him, but forsomuch as it was exceeding brittle be presently brake it himselfe, that so betimes he might remoove so easie an occasion of choller against his servants. I have in like sort shunned confusion in my affaires, and sought not to have my goods contiguous to my neighbours, and to such as I am to be linked in strict friendshippe, Whence commonly ensue causes of alienation and unkindnesse. I have heretofore loved the hazardous play of Cardes and Dice. I have long since left it; onely for this, that notwithstanding any faire semblance I made in my losses I was inwardly disquieted. Let a man of honour, who is to take a lie or endure an outrageous wrong, and cannot admit a bad excuse for paiment or satisfaction, avoid the progresse of contentious altercations. I shunne melancholike complexions and froward men, as infected. And in matters I cannot talke of without interest and emotion, I meddle not with them, except duty constraine mee thereunto. Melius non incipient quam desinent: 'They shall better not beginne than leave off.' The surest way is then to prepare our selves before occasion. I know that some wisemen have taken another course, and have not feared to engage and vehemently to insinuate themselves into diverse objects. Those assure themselves of their own strength, under which they shrowd themselves against all manner of contrary events, making mischiefes to wrestle one against another by vigor and vertue of patience:Velut rupes vastum quæ prodit in æquor,Let us not imitate these examples; we shall not attaine them. They opinionate themselves resolutely to behold, and without perturbation to be spectatours of their Countries ruine, which whilome possessed and commaunded their full will. As for our vulgar mindes, therein is too much effort and roughnesse. Cato quit thereby the noblest life that ever was. Wee seely ones must seeke to escape the storme further off: We ought to provide for apprehension and not for patience, and avoid the blowes wee cannot withstand. Zeno seeing Chremonides, a young man whom he loved, approach to sit neere him, rose up sodainly. Cleanthes asking him the reason? I understand (saith hee) that Physitions above all things prescribe rest, and forbid emotion in all humors. Socrates saith not: Yeeld not to the allurements of beauty; maintaine it, enforce our selves to the contrary. Shunne her (saith he), runne out of her sight and company, as from a violent poison that infecteth and stingeth farre-off. And his good Disciple, faining or reciting, but in mine opinion rather reciting then faining, the matchles perfections of the great Cyrus, describeth him distrusting his forces to withstand the blandishments or allurings of the divine beautie of that famous Panthea his Captive, committing the visitation and guarde of her to an other, that had lesse libertie then himselfe. And likewise the Holy-Ghost saith, ne nos inducas in tentationem: (Matth. vi. 13.) 'and lead us not into temptation.' We pray not that our reason be not encountred, and vanquished by concupiscence, but that it be not so much as assayed therewith; That we bee not reduced to an estate, where we should but suffer the approaches, sollicitations and temptations of sinne: and we entreat our Lord to keepe our conscience quiet, fully perfectly free from all commerce of evill. Such as say they have reason for their revenging passion, or any other minde-troubling perturbation, say often truth, as things are, but not as they were. They speake to us when the causes of their error are by themselves fostred and advanced. But retire further backeward, recall their causes to their beginning: there you surprise and put them to a non-plus. Would they have their fault be lesse because it is more ancient; and that of an unjust beginning, the progresse be just? He that (as I doe) shall wish his countries well-fare, without fretting or pining himselfe, shall be grieved, but not swoune, to see it threatning, either his own downefall, or a continuance no lesse ruinous. Oh seely-weake barke, whom both waves, windes and Pilot, hull and tosse to so contrary desseignes:
Obvia ventorum furiis, expostaque ponto.
Vim cunct am atque minas perfert cælique marisque,
. . . ipsa immota manens. -- VIRG. Æn. 1. x. 693.
Much like a rocke, which buts into the Maine,
Meeting with windes-rage, to the Sea laid plaine,
It doth the force of skies and Seas sustaine,
Endure their threats, yet doth uumoov'd remaine.-----in tam diversa, magister,Who gapes not after the favour of Princes, as after a thing without which hee cannot live, nor is much disquieted at the coldnes of their entertainment or frowning countenance, nor regardeth the inconstancy of their will. Who hatcheth not his children or huggeth not honours, with a slavish propension, nor leaves to live commodiously having once lost them. Who doth good namely for his owne satisfaction, nor is much vexed to see men censure of his actions against his merit. A quarter of an ownce of patience provideth for such inconveniences. I find ease in this receit: redeeming my selfe in the beginning as good cheape as I can, by which meanes I perceive my selfe to have escaped much trouble and manifold difficulties. With very little force I stay these first motions of my perturbations, And I abandon the subject which beginnes to molest me, and before it transport mee. Hee that stops not the loose, shall hardly stay the course. He that cannot shut the doore against them shall never expell them being entred. He that cannot attaine an end in the beginning, shall not come to an end of the conclusion; nor shall he endure the fall that could not endure the starts of it. Etenim ipsæ se impellunt , ubi semel a ratione discessum est, ipsague ibi imbecillitas indulget, in altumque provehitur imprudens: nec resent locuni consistendi: (CIC. Tusc. Qu. iv.) 'For they drive themselves headlong, when once they are parted and past reason, and weaknesse soothes it selfe, and unawares is carried into the deepe, nor can it finde a place to tarry in.' I feele betimes the low windes which are forerunners of the storme, buzze in mine eares and sound and trie me within:
Ventus et unda trahunt.
Maister the wave and winds
So divers wayes doe binde.-----ceu flamina primaHow often have I done myself an apparent injustice to avoid the the danger I should fall into by receiving the same, happily worse, from a world of troubles, and of foule and vile practises, more enemies to my naturall disposition t hen fire and torment? Convenit a litibus quantum licet, et nescio an paulo plus etiam quam licet, abhorrentem esse; Est enim non modo liberale, paululum nonnunquam de suo jure decedere, sed interdum etiam fructuosum: (CIC. Off. i.) 'As much as wee may, and it may be more then we may, we should abborre brabling and lawing; for it is not onely an ingenious part, but sometimes profitable also at sometimes to yeeld a little of our right.' If we were wise indeede, we should rejoyce and glory, as I heard once a yong-gentleman, borne of a very great house, very wittily and unfainedly rejoyce with all men that his mother had lost her sute; as if it had beene a cough, an ague, or any other yrksome burthen. The favours which fortune might have given mee, as aliances and acquaintances with such as have Soveraigne authority in those things, I have in my conscience done much instantly to evoide imploying them to others prejudice, and not over-value my rights above their worth. To conclude, I have so much prevailed by my endeavours (in a good houre I may speake it) that I am yet a virgin for any sutes in law which have notwithstanding not omitted gently to offer me their service, and under pretence of lawfull titles insinuate themselves into my allowance, would I but have given care unto them. And as a pure maiden from quarrels, I have without important offence, either passive or active, lingred out a long life, and never heard worse than mine owne name: A rare grace of heaven. Our greatest agitations have strange springs and ridiculous causes. What ruine did our last Duke of Burgundy runne into for the quarrell of a cart-load of sheepes-skinnes? And was not the graving of a scale the chiefe cause of the most horrible breach and topsie-turvey that ever this worlds-frame endured? For Pompey and Cæsar are but the new buddings and continuation of two others. And I have seene in my time the wisest heads of this realme assembled with great ceremony and publike charge about treaties and agreements, the true-deciding whereof depended in the meane while absolutely and soveraignely of the will and consultations held in some Ladies pate or cabinet, and of the inclination of some silly woman. Poets have most judiciously look't into this, who but for an apple have set all Greece and Asia on fire and sword. See why that man doth hazzard both his honour and life on the fortune of his rapier and dagger; let him tell you whence the cause of that contention ariseth; he can not without blushing, so vaine and so frivolous is the occasion. To embarke him, there needes but little advisement, but being once-in, all parts doe worke. There are greater provisions required, more difficult and important. How farre more easie is it not to enter than to get forth? We must proceed contrary to the brier, which produceth a long and straight stalke at the first springing; but after, as tired and out of breath, it makes many and thicke knots, as if they were pawses, shewing to have no more that vigor and constancy. Wee should rather begin gentle and leasurely, and keepe our strength and breath for the perfection of the worke. We direct affaires in the beginning, and hold them at our mercy, but being once undertaken, they guide and transport us, and we must follow them. Yet may it not be said that this counsell hath freed me from all difficulties, and that I have not beene often troubled to controle and bridle my passions, which are not alwayes governed according to the measure of occasions, whose entrances are often sharpe and violent. So is it that thence may be reaped good fruit and profit, except for those who in well doing are not satisfied with any benefit, if their reputation be in question. For in truth such an effect is not compted of but by every one to himselfe. You are thereby better satisfied, but not more esteemed, having reformed your selfe before you come into action or the matter was in sight; yet not in this onely, but in all other duties of life, their course which aime at honour is diverse from that which they propound unto themselves that follow order and reason. I finde some that inconsiderately and furiously thrust themselves into the lists, and grow slacke in the course. As Plutarke saith, that 'Such as by the vice of bashfullnesse are soft and tractable to grant whatsoever is demanded, are afterward as proxie and facile to recant and breake their word.' In like manner, he that enters lightly into a quarrel is subject to leave it as lightly. The same difficulty which keepes me from embracing the same should incite me, being once mooved and therein engaged, to continue resolute. It is an ill custome. Being once embarked, one must either goe on or sinke. 'Attempt coldly' (sayed Byas), 'but pursue hotly.' For want of judgement our hearts faile us, Which is also lesse tolerable. Most agreements of our moderne quarrels are shamefull and false; We onely seeke to save apparances and therewhilst betray and disavow our true intentions. We salve the deede; We know how wee spake it, and in what sence the by-standers know it; yea and our friends to whom we would have our advantages knowne. It is to the prejudice of our liberty and interest of our resolutions honour that we dis-avow our thoughts and seeke for starting holes in falshood to make our a greements. We bely our selves to salve a lye we have given to another. We must not looke whether your action or word may admit another interpretation, but it is your owne true and sincere construction that you must now maintaine, whatsoever it cost you. It is to your vertue and to your conscience that men speake; parts that ought not to be disguised. Leave we these base courses, wrangling shifts and verball meanes, to petty-fogging Lawyers. The excuses and reparations, or satisfactions, which dayly I see made, promised and given to purge indiscretion, seeme to me more foule than indiscretion it selfe; Better were it for one to offend his adversary againe, than in giving him such satisfaction to wrong himselfe so much. You have braved him mooved by choller, and now you seeke to pacifie and flatter him in your cold and better sense; Thus you abase yourselfe more than you were before exalted. I find no speech so vicious in a Gentleman as I deeme any recantation hee shall make, dishonorable, especially if it be wrested from him by authority; Forsomuch as obstinacy is in him more excusable than cowardice. Passions are to me as easy to be avoyded as they are difficult to be moderated. Excinduntur facilius animo, quam temperantur: 'They are more easily rooted out of the minde than brought to good temper.' He that cannot attaine to this noble Stoicall impassibility let him shrowd himselfe in the bosome of this my popular stupidity. What they did by vertue I inure my selfe to doe by Nature. The middle region harboureth stormes; the two extreames containe Philosophers and rurall men, they concurre in tranquility and good hap.
Cum deprensa fremunt sylvis, et cæca volutant
Murmura, venturos nautis prodentia ventos. -- VIRG. Æn. 1. x. 97.
At first blasts in the woods perceiv'd to goe,
Whistle, and darkely speake in murmurs low,
Foretelling Marriners what windes will grow.Felix qui potuit rerum coqnoscere causas,The beginnings of all things are weake and tender. We must therefore be cleare-sighted in beginnings; For, as in their budding we discerne not the danger, so in their full growth we perceive not the remedy. I should have encountred a thousand crosses, daily more hard to be digested in the course of ambition, than it hath bin uneasie for me to stay the naturall inclination that led me onto them.
Atque metus omnes et inexorabile fatum.
Subjecit pedibus, strepitumque Acherontis avari.
Fortunatus et ille, Deos qui novit agrestes,
Pandaque, Silvantimque senem, Nymphasque sorores. Virg. Georg. ii. 490.
Happy is he that could of things the causes finde,
And subject to his feete all fearefulnesse of minde,
Inexorable fate, and noyse of greedy Hell.
And happy he, with Country Gods acquainted well,
Pan and old Sylvan knowes,
And all the sister shrowes.----- jure perhorrui,All publike actions are subject to uncertaine and divers interpretations: For, too many heads judge of them. Some say of this my City-employment (whereof I am content to speake a word, not that it deserves it, but to make a shew of my manners in such things) I have demeaned my selfe like one that is too slowely moved and with a languishing affection; And they are not altogether void of reason. I strive to keepe my minde and thoughts quiet. Cum semper Natura, tum etiam ætate jam quietus: 'Both ever quiet by Nature, and now because of yeeres.' And if at any time they are debauched to some rude and piercing impression it is in truth without my consent, from which naturall slacknesse one must not therefore inferre any proofe of disability; For, Want of care and lacke of judgement are two things; And lesse unkindnesse and ingratitude toward those Citizens who to gratifie me, employed the utmost of all the meanes they could possibly, both before they knew me and since; And who did much more for me in appointing me my charge the second time, then in choosing me the first. I love them with all my heart, and wish them all the good that may be; And truly if occasion had beene offered I wold have spared nothing to have done them service. I have stirred and laboured for them as I doe for my selfe. They are good people, warlike and generous, yet capable of obedience and discipline and fit for good employment, if they be well guided. They say likewise that I passed over this charge of mine without any deede of note or great shew. It is true. Moreover, they accuse my cessation, when as all the world was convicted of too much doing; I have a most nimble motion where my will doth carry me. But this point is an enemy unto perseverance. Whosoever will make use of me according to my selfe, let him employ me in affaires that require vigor and liberty; that have a short, a straight, and therewithall a hazardous course I may peradventure somewhat prevaile therein. Whereas if it be tedious, crafty, laborious, artificiall and intricate, they shall doe better to address themselves to some other man. All charges of importance are not difficult. I was prepared to labour somewhat more earnestly if there had beene great neede. For it lyes in my power to doe something more than I make shew of, and than I love to doe. To my knowledge I have not omitted any motion that duty required earnestly at my hands. I have easily forgotten those which ambition blendeth with duty and cloketh with her title. It is they which most commonly fill the eyes and eares and satisfie men. Not the thing it selfe, but,; the apparance payeth them. If they heare no noise they imagine we sleepe. My humours are contrary to turbulent humors; I could pacifie an inconvenience or trouble without troubling my selfe, and chastise a disorder without alteration.
Late conspicuum tollere verticem. -- Hor. Car. iii. 16, 18.
I have beene much afraid for causes right,
To raise my foretop far abroad to sight.
Have I neede of choller and inflammation, I borrow it and therewith maske my selfe; My maners are musty, rather wallowish then sharpe; I accuse not a Magistrate that sleepeth so they that are under it sleepe also. So sleepe the lawes. For my part I commend a gliding, an obscure and reposed life. Neque submissam et abjectam, neque se efferentem: (Cic. Off. i.) 'Neyther too abject and submisse, nor vaunting it selfe too much.' But my fortune will have it so; I am descended of a family that hath lived without noise and tumult, and of long continuance particularly ambitious of integrity. Our men are so framed to agitation and ostentations that goodnesse, moderation, equity, constancy, and such quiet and meane qualities are no more heard of. Rough bodies are felt, smooth ones are handled imperceptibly. Sickenesse is felt, health little or not at all; nor things that annoint us, in regard of such as sting us. It is an action for ones reputation and private commodity, and not for the common good, to refer that to be done in the market place which a man may do in the counsel-chamber; and at noone day what might have beene effected the night before; and to be jealous to doe that himselfe which his fellow can performe as well. So did some Surgeons of Greece shew the operations of their skill upon scaffolds in view of all passengers, thereby to get more practise and custome. They suppose that good orders cannot be understood but by the sound of a trumpet. Ambition is no vice for petty companions, and for such endevours as ours. One said to Alexander: 'Your father will leave you a great commaund, easie and peacefull;' the boy was envious of his father's victories and of the justice of his government. He would not have enjoyed the world's Empire securely and quietly. Alcibiades in Plato loveth rather to die yong, faire, rich, noble, learned, and all that in execellence, then to stay in the state of such a condition. This infirmity is happily excusable in so strong and full a minde. When these petty wretched soules are therewith enveagled, and thinke to publish their fame, because they have judged a cause rightly, or continued the order in guarding of a Cities gates; by how much more they hoped to raise their head, so much more doe they shew their simplicity. This petty well-doing hath neither body nor life. It vanisheth in the first moneth, and walkes but from one corner of a street to another. Entertaine therewith your sonne and your servant, and spare not. As that ancient fellow, who having no other auditor of his praises and applauding of his sufficiency, boasted with his chambermaids, exclaiming: 'Oh Perette! what a gallant and sufficient man thou hast to thy maister!' If the worst happen, entertaine your selves in your selves; As a Councellour of my acquaintance, having degorged a rable of paragraphes with an extreame contention and like foolishnesse, going out of the counsell chamber to a pissing place neere unto it, was heard very conscienciously to utter these words to himselfe: Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam (Psal. cvx. i.). 'Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us but unto thy name give the glory.' He that cannot otherwise, let him pay himselfe out of his owne purse. Fame doth not so basely prostitute it selfe, nor so cheape. Rare and exemplar actions, to which it duly belongeth, could not brooke the company of this innumerable multitude of vulgar petty actions. Well may a piece of marble raise your titles both as you list, because you have repaired a piece of an olde Wall, or cleansed a common ditch, but men of judgement will never doe it. Report followeth not all goodnesse, except difficulty and rarietie be joyned thereunto. Yea simple estimation, according to the Stoikes, is not due to every action proceeding from vertue. Neither would they have him commended, who through temperance abstaineth from an old blear-ey'd woman. Such as have knowen the admirable qualities of Scipio the Affrican, renounce the glory which Panætius ascribeth unto him, to have abstained from gifts, as a glory, not his, alone, but peculiar to that age. We have pleasures sortable to our fortune; let us not usurpe those of greatnesse. Our owne are more naturall. They are the more solide and firme by how much the meaner. Since it is not for conscience, at least for ambition let us refuse ambition. Let us disdaine this insatiate thirst of honour and renowne, base and beggerly, which makes us so suppliantly to crave it of all sorts of people: Quæ est ista laus quæ possite macello peti? (Cic. De Fin. ii.) 'What praise is this, which may bee fetcht out of the Shambles?' By abject meanes, and at what vile rate soever. To be thus honoured, is meerely a dishonour. Learne we to bee no more greedy of glory then we are capable of it. To be proud of ever profitable and innocent action, is it fit for men to whom it is extraordinary and rare. They will value it for the price it cost them. According as a good effect is more resounding, I abate of its goodnesse; the jealousie I conceive, it is produced more because it is so resounding than because it is good. What is set out to shew is halfe solde. Those actions have more grace which carelesly and under silence passe from the hands of a Workeman, and which some honest man afterward chuseth and redeemeth from darkenesse, to thrust them into the worlds light: Onely for their worth. Mihi quidem laudabiliora videntur omnia, quæ sine venditatione, et sine populo teste fiunt: (Cic. Tusc. Qu. ii.)'All things in sooth seeme to me more commendable that are performed with no ostentation, and without the people to witnesse,' said the most glorious man of the world. I had no care but to preserve and continue, which are deafe and insensible effects. Innovation is of great lustre; But interdicted in times when we are most urged, and have to defend our selves but from novelties; Abstinence from doing is often as generous as doing, but it is not so apparant. My small worth is in a manner all of this kinde. To be short, the occasions in this my charge have seconded my complexion, for which I conne them harty thanks. Is there any man that desireth to be sicke, to see his Physition set a worke? And Should not that Physition be well whipped who to put his arte in practize, would wish the plague to infect us? I was never possessed with this impious and vulgar passion, to wish that the troubled and distempered state of this City might raise and honour my government. I have most willingly lent them my hand to further and shoulders to aid their ease and tranquility. He that will not thanke me for the good order and for the sweet and undisturbed rest which hath accompanied my charge, cannot at least deprive me of that part which by the title of my good fortune belongeth unto me. This is my humour, that I love as much to be happy as wise, and attribute my successes as much to the meere gr ace of God as to the meane furtherance of my operation. I had sufficiently published to the World my sufficiency in managing of such publike affaires; Nay, there is something in me worse than insufficiency, Which is, that I am not much displeased therewith, and that I endevour not greatly to cure it, considering the course of life I have determined to my selfe. Nor have I satisfied my selfe in this employment, But have almost attainted what I had promised unto my selfe; Yet have I much exceeded what I had promised those with whom I was to negotiate, For I willingly promise somewhat lesse then I can performe or hope to accomplish. Of this I am assured, I have never left offence or hatred among them. To have left either regret or desire of me, This know I certainly, I have not much affected it.------ Mene huic confidere monstro?
Mene salis placidi vultum, fiuctdsque quietos
Ignorare? -- Virg. Æn. 1. v. 849.
Should I this monster trust? Should I not know
The calme Seas counterfeit dissembling show
How quietly sometimes the flouds will go?