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.
LMOST all the opinions we have are taken by authority and upon credit: There is no hurt. We cannot chuse worse then by our selves in so weake an age. This image of Socrates his discourse, which his friends have left us, we onely approve it by the reverence of publicke approbation. It is not for our owne knowledge: they are not according to our use. Might such a man be borne now adayes, there are but few would now esteeme him. Wee discerne not graces inly or aright; We onely perceive them by a false light set out and puft up with arte; Such as passe under their naturall purity and simplicity doe easily escape so weake and dimnme a sight as ours is. They have a secret, unperceived and delicate beauty; he had neede of a cleere, farre-seeing and true-discerning sight that should rightly discover this secret light. Is not ingenuity (according to us) cosin germaine unto sottishnesse, and a quality of reproach? Socrates maketh his soule to moove, with a naturall and common motion. Thus saith a plaine Country-man, and thus a seely Woman: Hee never hath other people in his mouth than Coach-makers, Joyners, Coblers, and Masons. They are inductions and similitudes, drawen from the most vulgar and knowen actions of men: every one understands him. Under so base a forme wee should never have chosen the noble worthinesse and brightnesse of his admirable conceptions; Wee that esteeme all those but meane and vile that learning doth not raise, and who have no perceiving of riches except set out in shew and pompe. Our World is framed but unto ostentation. Men are puffed up with winde, and moved or handled by bounds, as Baloones. This man proposeth no vaine fantasies unto himselfe. His end was to store us with things and furnish us with precepts, which really more substantially and joyntly serve our life:-----servare modum, finemque tenere,So was he ever all one a like: And raised himselfe to the highest pitch of vigor, not by fits, but by complexion. Or to say better, he raised nothing, but rather brought downe and reduced all difficulties or sharpnesse to their originall and naturall state, and thereunto subdued vigor. For in Cato it is manifestly seene to be an out-right proceeding, far above and beyond the common; By the brave exploits of his life, and in his death, hee is ever perceived to be mounted upon his great horses. Whereas this man keepes on the ground, and with a gentle and ordinary pace treateth of the most profitable discourses, and addresseth himselfe both unto death and to the most thorny and crabbed crosses, that may happen unto the course of humane life. It hath indeede fortuned, that the worthiest man to be knowne, and for a patterne to be presented to the world, he is the man of whom we have most certain knowledge. Hee hath beene declared and enlightned by the most cleare-seeing men that ever were; the testimonies wee have of him are in faithfulnesse and sufficiency most admirable. It is a great matter that ever he was able to give such order unto the pure imaginations of a childe, that without altring or wresting them, he hath thence produced the fairest effects of our minde. He neither represents it rich nor high raised, but sound and pure, and ever with a blithe and undefiled health. By these vulgar springs and naturall wards, by these ordinary and common fantasies, sans mooving or without urging himselfe, hee erected not onely the most regular, but the highest and most vigorous opinions, actions, and customes that ever were. He it is that brought humane wisedome from heaven againe, where for a long time it had beene lost, to restore it unto man; where her most just and laborious worke is. See or heare him pleade before his judges; marke with what reasons he rouzeth his courage to the hazards of warre, what arguments fortifie his patience against detraction, calumniation, tyrranny, death, and against his wives peevish head; therein is nothing borrowed from art or from learning. The simplest may there know their meanes and might; it is impossible to goe further backe or lower. He hath done humane nature a great kindnesse to shew what and how much she can doe of her selfe. We are every one richer than we imagine, but we are taught to borrow and instructed to shift; and rather to make use of others goods and meanes then of our owne. There is nothing whereon man can stay or fix himselfe in time of his need. Of voluptuousnesse, of riches, of pleasure, of power, he ever embraceth more than be can graspe or hold; His greedinesse is incapable of moderation. The very same I finde to be in the curiosity of learning and knowledge; he cuts out more worke than he can well make an end of, and much more then be neede. Extending the profit of learning as farre as his matter. Ut omnium rerum, sic literarum quoque intemperantia laboramus: (Sen. Epist. cvi. f.) 'We are sicke of a surfet, as of all things, so of learning also.' And Tacitus hath reason to commend Agricolæs mother, to have brideled in her sonne an over-burning and earnest desire of learning. It is a good, being neerely looked unto, that containeth as other humane goods, much peculiar vanity and naturall weakenesse, and is very chargeable; The acquisition and purchase whereof is much more hazardous then of all other viands and beverage. For whatsoever else we have bought, we carry home in some vessell or other, where we have law to examine its worth, how much and at what time we are to take it. But Sciences, we cannot sodainly put them into any other vessell than our minde: wee swallow them in buying them, and goe from the market either already infected or amended. There are some which insteade of nourishing doe but hinder and surcharge us; and other some which under colour of curing empoison us. I have taken pleasure in some place to see men who for devotions sake have made a vow of ignorance, as of chastity, poverty and penitence. It is also a kind of guelding of our inordinate appetites to muzzle this greedinesse, which provoketh us to the study of bookes, and depriveth the mind of that voluptuous delight which, by the opinion of learning doth so tickle us. And it is richly to accomplish the vow of poverty to joyne that of the minde unto it. We neede not much learning for to live at ease. And Socrates teacheth us that we have both it, and the way to finde and make use of it, within us. All our sufficiency that is beyond the naturall is well nigh vaine and superfluous. It is much if it charge and trouble us no more then it steads us. Paucis opus est literis, ad mentem bonam: (Sen. ibid. ) 'We have neede of little learning to have a good minde.' They are febricitant excesses of our spirit, a turbulent and unquiet instrument. Rowze up your selfe, and you shall finde forcible arguments against death to be in your selfe; most true and very proper to serve and steade you in time of necessity. 'Tis they which induce a peasant swaine, yea and whole nations, to die as constantly as any Philosopher. Should I have died lesse merily before I read the Tusculanes? I thinke not. And when I finde my selfe in my best wits I perceive that I have somewhat enriched my tongue, my courage but little. It is even as nature framed the same at first. And against any conflict it shields it selfe, but with a naturall and common march. Bookes have not so much served mee for instruction as exercitation. What if learning, assaying to arme us with new wards and fences against naturall inconveniences, hath more imprinted their greatnesse and weight in our fantasies then her reasons, quiddities, and subtilities, therewith to cover us? They are subtilities indeed, by which she often awaketh us very vainely. Observe how many sleight and idle arguments the wisest and closest authors frame and scatter about one good sound, which if you but consider neerely are but vaine and incorporall. They are but verball wiles which beguile us. But forsomuch as it may be profitable I will not otherwise blanch them. Many of that condition are scattered here and there, in divers places of this volume, either borrowed or imitated. Yet should a man somewhat heed be call not that force which is but quaintness or terme that which is but quipping sharpe, solide; or name that good which is but faire: Quæ magis gustata quam potata delectant: (Cic. Tusc. Qu. v.) 'Which more delight us being but tasted, then swild and swallowed downe.' All that which pleaseth feedeth not : Ubi non ingenii sed animi negocium agitur: 'Where it is no matter of wit, but of courage.' To see the strugling endevors which Seneca giveth himselfe to prepare himselfe against death; to see him sweate with panting; to see him bathe so long upon this pearch, thereby to strengthen and assure himselfe; I should have made question of his reputation had be not most undantedly maintained the same in his death. His so violent and frequent agitation sheweth that himselfe was fervent, and impetuous. Magnus animus remissius loquitur, et securius: Non est alius ingenio alius animo color: (Sen. Epist. cxv. Eleg. i. ) 'A great courage speakes softly but securely. Wit hath not one colour and courage another.' He must be convicted at his owne charges, and sheweth in some sort that he was pressed by his adversary. Plutarkes maner by how much more disdainefull and farre- extending it is (in my opinion) so much more manlike and perswasive is it; I should easily beleeve that his soule had her motions more assured and more regu lar. The one more sharpe, pricketh and sodainely starts us, toucheth the spirit more. The other more solide, doth constantly enforme, establish and comfort us; toucheth more the understanding. That ravisheth our judgement; this doth gaine it. I have likewise seene other compositions and more reverenced, which in portraying the combate they endure against the provocations of the flesh, represent them so violent, so powerfull and invincible, that our selves, who are cast in the common mould of other men, have as much to admire the unknowne strangenesse and unfelt vigor of their temptation, as their constant resistance. To what do we so arme and steele our selves with these labouring-efforts of learning? Let us diligently survay the surface of the earth, and there consider so many seely-poore people as we see toyling, sweltring and drooping about their businesses which never heard of Aristotle nor of Plato, nor ever knew what exemples or precepts are. From those doth nature dayly draw and afoord us effects of constancy and patternes of patience, more pure and forcible then are those we so curiously study-for in schooles. How many do I ordinarily see that misacknowledge poverty; how many that wish for death, or that passe it without any alarum or affliction? A fellow that dungeth my garden hath happily this morning buried his father or his childe. The very names whereby they call diseases doe somewhat mylden and diminish the sharpnes of them. With them a Phthysique or consumption of the lungs is but an ordinary cough: A dysentery or bloody flux but a distemper of the stomacke; A pleurisie but a cold or murre; and as they gently name them so they easily endure them. Grievous are they indeed when they hinder their ordinary labour or breake their usuall rest: They will not take their beds but when they shall dy. Simplex illa et aperta virtus in obscuram et solertem scienti am versa est: 'That plaine and cleare vertue is turned into obscure and cunning knowledge.' I was writing this about a time that a boistrous storme of our tumultuous broiles and bloody troubles did for many months space, with all its might and horrour, hang full over my head. On the one side I had the enemies at my gates; on the other the Picoreurs or freebooters, farre worse foes. Non armis sed vitiis certatur: 'We contend not with armour, but with vices.' And at one time felt and endured all manner of harme-bringing military injuries:
Naturamque sequi. -- Lucan. Bel. Civ. ii. 380.
To keepe a meane, to hold the end,
And natures conduct to attend.Hostis adest dextra lævaque h parte timendus,Oh monstrous Warre: Others worke without, this inwardly and against hir selfe, And with her owne venome gnaweth and consumes her selfe. It is of so ruinous and maligne a Nature, that, together with all things els, she ruineth her selfe; and with spitefull rage doth rent, deface and massacre it selfe. We doe more often see it, by and through hir selfe, to wast, to desolate and dissolve hir selfe, then by or through want of any necessary thing, or by enemies force. All manner of discipline doth shunne and flie it. She commeth to cure sedition, and hir selfe is throughly therewith infected; She goeth about to chastize dis-obedience, and sheweth the example of it; and being employed for the defence of Lawes entreth into actuall rebellion against her owne ordinances. Aye me, where are we? Our Phisicke bringeth infection.
Vicinoque malo terret utrumque latus. -- Ovid. Pont. Eleg. iv. 55.
A fearefull foe on left hand and on right
Doth with his neighbour harmes both sides afright.Nostre mal s'empoisonneIn these popular diseases one may in the beginning distinguish the sound from the sicke; but if they chance to continue any time, as ours hath done and doth still, all the body, yea head and heeles, feele themselves the worse; no part is exempted from corruption; for there is no aire a man drawes so greedily, or sucks so gluttonously, and that more spreds it selfe or penetrates more deepely, then doth licentiousnesse. Our Armies have no other bond to tie them, or other eyment to fasten them, then what commeth from strangers. It is now a hard matter to frame a body of a more compleate, constant, well-ordered and coherent Army of Frenchmen. Oh, what shame is it? We have no other discipline then what borrowed or auxiliar Souldiers shew us. As for us, we are led-on by our owne discretion and not by the commanders; each man followeth his owne humour, and hath more to doe within then without. It is the commandement should follow, court and yeeld unto, hee onely ought to obey; all the rest are free and loose. I am pleased to see what remisnesse and pusilanimity is in ambition, and by what steps of abjection and servitude it must arrive unto its end. But I am displeased to see some debonaire and well-meaning minds, yea such as are capable of justice, dayly corrupted about the managing and commanding of this many-headed confusion. Long sufferance begets custome; custome, consent and imitation. We had too-too many infected and ill-borne minds without corrupting the good, the sound, and the generous; so that, if we continue any time, it will prove a difficult matter to finde out a man unto whose skill and sufficiency the health or recovery of this state may be committed in trust, if fortune shall happily be pleased to restore it us againe.
Du secours qu'on luy donne.
Our evill is empoysond more
By plaister they would lay to th' sore.
----- exuperat magis ægrescitque medendo. -- Virg. Æn. xii.
It rises higher, quicker,
And growes by curing sicker.
Omnia fanda nefanda malo permista furore.
Justificam nobis'mentem avertere Deorum. -- Catul. Argon. v. 405.
Lawfull unlawfull deeds with fury blended,
Have turn'd from us the Gods just minde offended.Hunc saltem everso juvenem succurrere seclo,What is become of that ancient precept, That Souldiers ought more to feare their Generall than their enemy? And of that wonderfull examplelesse example, That the Romane army, having upon occasion enclosed within her trenches, and round-beset an apple-orchard, so obedient was she to her Captaines, that the next morning it rose and marched away without entring the same or touching one apple, although they were full-ripe and very delicious; So that when the owner came he found the full number of his apples! I should be glad that our Youths, in steade of the time they employ about lesse profitable peregrinations, and lesse honourable apprentiships, would bestow one moity in seeing and observing the warres that happen on the sea under some good Captaine or excellent commander of Malta; the other moity in learning and surveying the discipline of the Turkish armies. For it hath many differences and advantages over ours. This ensueth that here our Souldiers become more licentious in expeditions, that they prove more circumspect and fearfully wary. For small offences and petty larcenies, which in times of peace are in the common people punished with whipping and bastonadoes, in times of warre are capitall crimes. For an egge taken by a Turke without paying, he is by their law to have the full number of fifty stripes with a cudgell. For every other thing, how sleight soever, not necessary for mans feeding, even for very trifles, they are either thrust through with a sharpe stake, which they call Empaling, or presently beheaded. I have beene amazed reading the story of Selim, the cruellest Conqueror that ever was, to see, at what time he subdued the country of Ægypt, the beauteous gardens round about Damasco, all open and in a conquered country, his maine army lying encamped about, those gardens were left untouched and unspoyled by the hands of his Souldiers, onely because they were commanded to spoyle nothing, and had not the watch-word of pillage. But is there any malady in a Common-weale that deserveth to be combated by so mortall drugge? No, saide Favonius, not so much as the usurpation of the tyranicall possession of a Commonwealth. Plato likewise is not willing one should offer violence to the quiet repose of his Countrey, no not to reforme or cure the same; and alloweth not that reformation which disturbeth or hazardeth the whole estate; and which is purchased with the blood and ruine of the Citizens. Establishing the office of an honest man, in these causes, to leave all there: But onely to pray God to lend his extraordinary assisting hand unto it; And seemeth to be offended with Dyon his great friend, to have therein proceeded somewhat otherwise. I was a Platonist on that side before ever I knew there had beene a Plato in the world. And if such a man ought absolutely be banished our commerce and refused our society (he who for the sincerity of his conscience deserved by meane of divine favour, athwart the publique darknesse, and through the generall ignorance of the world wherein he lived, so farre to enter and so deeply to penetrate into Christian light), I doe not thinke that it befitteth us to be instructed by a Pagan. Oh what impiety is it to expect from God no succour simply his, and without our cooperation. I often doubt whether amongst so many men that meddle with such a matter, any hath beene found of so weake an understanding, that hath earnestly beene perswaded, he proceeded toward reformation by the utmost of deformations; that he drew toward his salvation by the most expresse causes, that we have of undoubted damnation; that overthrowing policy, disgracing magistrates, abusing lawes, under whose tuition God hath placed him; filling brotherly minds and loving hearts with malice, hatred and murther; calling the Divels and furies to his helpe; he may bring assistance to the most sacred mildnesse and justice of divine Law. Ambition, avarice, cruelty and revenge have not sufficient proppes and naturall impetuousity; let us allure and serve them up by the glorious title of justice and devotion. There can no worse estate of things be imagined than where wickednesse commeth to be lawfull, And with the Magistrates leave to take the cloake of vertue: Nihil in speciem fallicius, quam prava religio, ubi deorum numen prætenditur sceleribus: 'There is nothing more deceiptfull to shew than corrupt religion, when the power of Heaven is made a pretence and cloake for wickednesse.' The extreame kinde of injustice (according to Plato) is, that that which is unjust should be held for just. The common people suffered therein greatly then, not onely present losses,
Forbid not yet this youth at least,
To aide this age more then opprest.-----undique totis.But also succeeding dammages. The living were faine to suffer, so did such as then were scarce borne. They were robbed and pilled, and by consequence so was I, even of hope; spoiling and depriving them of all they had to provide their living for many yeares to come.
Usque adeo turbatur agris ---
----- Such revell and tumultuous rout
In all the country round about.Quæ nequeunt secum ferre aut abduce re, perdunt,Besides these mischiefes I endured some others. I incurred the inconveniences that moderation bringeth in such diseases. I was shaven on all hands. To the Ghibelin I was a Guelf, to Guelf a Ghibelin. Some one of my Poets expresseth as much, but I wot not where it is. The situation of my house, and the acquaintance of such as dwelt round about me, presented me with one visage; my life and actions with another. No formall accusations were made of it, for there was nothing to take hold of. I never opposed my selfe against the lawes, and who had called me in question should have lost by the bargaine. They were mute suspicions that ranne under hand, which never want apparance in so confused a burly-burly, no more than lacke of envious or foolish wits. I commonly affoord ayde unto injurious presumption that fortune scattereth against me; by a fashion I never had, to avoid justifying, excusing, or interpreting my selfe; deeming it to be a putting of my conscience to compromise, to pleade for hir: Perspicuitas enim, argumentatione elevatur: 'For the cleering of a cause is lessened by the arguing.' And as if every man saw into mee as cleare as I doe my selfe, in lieu of with-drawing, I advance my selfe to the accusation and rather endeare it by an erroneous and scoffing confession, except I flatly hold my peace as of a thing unworthy any answer. But such as take it for an over-proud confidence, doe not much lesse disesteeme and hate me for it, then such as take it for weaknesse of an indefensible cause; Namely, the great, with whom want of submission, is the extreame fault. Rude to all justice, that is knowne or felt; not demisse, humble, or suppliant, I have often stumbled against that piller. So it is, that by the harmes which befell mee, an ambitious man would have hanged himselfe; and so would a covetous churle. I have no care at all to acquire or get.
Et cremat insontes turba scelesta casas
Muris nulla fides, squalent popularibus agri.
They wretch-lesse spoyle and spill what draw or drive they may not,
Guilty rogues to set fire on guilt-lesse houses stay not.
In wals no trust, the field
By spoyle growes waste and wilde.Sit mihi quod nunc est, etiam minus, ut mihi vivamBut losses that come unto me by others injury, be it larceny or violence, pinch me in a manner as one sicke and tortured with avarice. An offence causeth undoubtedly more griefe and sharpnesse than a losse. A thousand severall kindes of mischiefes fell upon me one in the necke of another: I should more stoutly have endured them had they come all at once. I bethought my selfe amongst my friends, to whom I might commit a needy, a defective and unfortunate olde age; but after I had surveyed them all, and cast mine eyes every where, I found my selfe bare and far to seeke. For one to sowse himselfe downe headlong, and from so great a height, he should heedily fore-cast that it may be in the armes of a solide, stedfast, vigorous and fortunate affection. They are rare, if there be any. In the end I perceived the best and safest way was to trust both my selfe and my necessity unto my selfe. And if it should happen to be but meanly and faintly in Fortunes grace, I might more effectually recommend my selfe unto mine owne favour, more closely fasten and more neerely looke unto my selfe. In all things men relie upon strange props, to spare their owne; onely certain and onely powerfull, know they but how to arme themselves with them. Every man runneth out and unto what is to come, because no man is yet come into himselfe. And I resolved that they were profitable inconveniences, forsomuch as when reason will not serve, we must first warne towards Scholars with the rod; as with fire and violence of wedges, we bring a crooked peece of wood to be straight. It is long since I call to keepe my selfe unto my selfe, and live sequestered from alien and strange things, notwithstanding a daily start out and cast mine eyes aside. Inclination, a great man's favorable word, a kind looke doth tempt me. God he knows whether there be penury of them now-adayes, and what sense they beare. I likewise, without frowning, listen to the subornings, framed to draw mee to some towne of merchandise or city of trafficke; and so coldly defend my selfe that it seemes I should rather endure to be overcome than not. Now to a spirit so indocile blowes are required; and this vessell, that of it selfe is so ready to warpe, to unhoope, to escape and fall in peeces, must be closed, hooped and strongly knockt with an adze. Secondly, that this accident served me as an exercitation to prepare my selfe for worse, if worse might happen, if I, who both by the benefit of fortune and condition of my maners, hoped to bee of the last, should by this tempest be one of the first surprised; Instructing my selfe betimes to force my life, and frame it for a new state. True-perfect liberty is for one to be able to doe and work all things upon himselfe. Potentissimus est qui se habet in potestate. (Sen. Epist. ix.) 'Hee is of most power that keepes himselfe in his owne power.' In ordinary and peacefull times a man prepares himselfe for common and moderate accidents; but in this confusion wherein we have beene these thirty yeeres, every French man, be it in generall or in particular, doth hourely see himselfe upon the point of his fortunes overthrow and downe-fall. By so much more ought each one have his courage stored and his minde fraughted, with more strong and vigorous provisions. Let us thanke Fortune, that hath not made us live in an effeminate, idle, and languishing age; Some, whom other meanes could never bring unto it, shall make themselves famous by their misfortune. As I reade not much in Histories, these confusions of other states, without regret, that I could not better them present; So doth my curiosity make me somewhat please my selfe with mine eyes to see this notable spectacle of our publike death; her symptomes and formes. And since I could not hinder the same, I am content to be appointed as an assistant unto it, and therby instruct my selfe. Yet seeke we evidently to know in shadowes and understand by fabulous representations upon Theaters, to shew of the tragicke revolutions of humane fortune. It is not without compassion of that we heare, but we please our selves to rowze up our displeasure by the rarenesse of these pitifull events. Nothing tickles that pincheth not; and good Historians avoid calme narrations, as a dead water or mort-mere, to retreeve seditions and finde out warres, whereto they know we cal them. I doubt whether I may lawfully avow at how base a rate of my lifes rest and tranquility I have past it more than half, in the ruine of my Country. In accidents that touch me not in my freehold I purchase patience very cheape; and to complaine to my selfe I respect not so much what is taken from mee, as what is left me both within and without. There is comfort in sometimes eschewing one and sometimes another of the evills, that one in the necke of another surprise us, and elsewhere strike us round about. As matters of publike interrests, according as my affection is more universally scattered, she is thereby more enfeebled. Since it is halfe true: Tantum ex publicis malis sentimus, quantum ad privatas res pertinet. 'Wee feele so much of common harmes as appertaine to our private estate.' And that the health whence wee fell was such that her selfe solaceth the regret we should have for her. It was health, mary but in comparison of the contagion, which hath followed the same. Wee are not falen very high. The corruption and the brigandage which now is in office and dignity seemes to me the least tolerable. Wee are lesse injuriously robbed in the midst of a wood then a place of security. It was an universall coherency of members spoiled avie one another, and most of them, with old-rankled ulcers, which neither admitted nor demaunded recovery. Truely this shaking-fit did therefore more animate then deterre me, only by the aide of my conscience, which not onely quietly but fiercely carried it selfe; and I found no cause to complain of my selfe. Likewise, as God never sends men either evils or goods absolutely pure, my health held out well for that time, yea against her ordinary; and as without it I can do nothing, so with it, there are few things I cannot doe. She gave me meanes to summon and rouze up all my provisions, and to beare my hand before my hurt, which happily would have gone further; And proved in my patience that yet I had some hold against fortune, and that to thrust me out of my saddle there was required a stronger counterbuffe. This I speake not to provoke her to give me a more vigorous charge. I am her servant, and yeeld my selfe unto her: For Gods sake let her be pleased. Demaund you whether I feele her assaults? I doe indeede. As those whom sorrow possesseth and overwhelmeth doe notwithstanding at one time or other suffer themselves by intermissions to be touched by some pleasure, and now and then smile. I have sufficient power over my selfe to make mine ordinary state quiet and free from all tedious and irkesome imaginations; but yet I sometimes suffer my selfe by starts to be surprised with the pinchings of these unpleasant conceits, which while I arme my selfe to expell or wrestle against them assaile and beate mee. Loe here another huddle or tide of mischiefe, that on the necke of the former came rushing upon mee. Both within and round about my house, I was overtaken, in respect of all other, with a most contagious pestilence. For, as soundest bodies are subject to grievous diseases, because they onely can force them; so the aire about me being very healthy, wher in no mans memory infection (although very neere) could ever take footing, comming now to be poisoned, brought forth strange effects.
Quod superest ævi, si quid superesse volent dii. -- Hor. i. Epist. xviii. 107.
Let me have that I have, or lesse, so I may live
Unto my selfe the rest , if any rest God give.Mista senum et juvenum densantur funera nullumI was faine to endure this strange condition, that the sight of my house was irkesome unto me. Whatever was therein lay all at randon, no man looked thereunto, and was free for any that had a minde unto it. I who have so long beene a good housekeeper, and used to hospitality was much troubled and put to my shifts, how to finde out some retreate for my family, a dismaied and scattered family, making both her selfe and her friends afraide, and breeding horrour where it sought to retire for shelter, being now to shift and change her dwelling; so soone as any of the company beganne to feele his finger ake, all the rest were dismaied. Every sicknesse is then taken for the plague: none hath leasure to consider them. And the mischiefe is, that according to rules of arte, what danger soever approcheth, a man must continue forty dayes in anxiety or feare of that evill; in which time your owne imagination doth perplex you as she list and infect your health. All which had much lesse toucht mee, had I not beene forced to beare other mens burthens and partake all their grievances, and for six months space in miserable maner to be a woefull guide to so great-confused a Caravane. For I ever carry my preservatives above me which are resolution and sufferance. Apprehension doth not greatly presse me, which is particularly feared in this sicknesse. And if, being alone I should have taken it, it had beene a stronger and further flight. It is a death, in my opinion, not of the worst: it is commonly short and speeding, voide of lingring paine, comforted by the public condition; without ceremonie, without mourning, and without thronging. But for the people about us, the hundreth part of soules cannot be saved.
Sæva caput Proserpina fugit. -- Hor. Car. i. Od. xxviii. 19.
Of old and young thicke funerals are shared
By cruell Proserpine no head is spared.------ videas desertaque regnaIn that place my best revenue is manuall: what a hundred men laboured for me lay fallow for a long time. What examples of resolution saw we not then in all this peoples simplicity? Each one generally renounced all care of life. The grapes (which are the countries chiefe commodities hung still and rotted upon the vines untouch't; all indifferently preparing themselves, and expecting death either that night or the next morrow; with countenance and voice so little daunted, that they seemed to have compromitted to this necessitie, and that it was an universall and inevitable condemnation. It is ever such. But what slender hold hath the resolution of dying? The difference and distance of some few houres; the onely consideration of the company yeelds the apprehension diverse unto us. Behold these because they die in one same month, children, yong, old; they are no more astonied, they are no longer wept-for. I saw some that feared to stay behinde, as if they had beene in some horrible solitude. And commonly I knew no other care amongst them but for graves; it much grieved them to see the dead carcasses scattered over the fields, at the mercy of wilde beasts, which presently began to flocke thither. Oh how humane fantasies differ and are easily disjoined! The Neorites, a nation whilome subdued by Alexander the Great, cast out their dead mens bodies into the thickest of their woods, there to be devoured, the grave onely esteemed happy among them. Some in good health digged already their graves, othersome yet living did goe into them; And a day-labourer of mine, as he was dying, with his owne hands and feet pulled earth upon him, and so covered himselfe. Was not this a lying downe in the shade to sleepe at ease? An enterprise in some sort as highly noble as that of some Romane Souldiers, who, after the battel of Canna, were found with their heads in certaine holes or pits, which themselves had made, and filled up with their hands, wherein they were smothered. To conclude, a whole nation was presently by use brought to a march, that in undantednesse yeelds not to any consulted and fore-meditated resolution. The greatest number of learnings instructions, to encourage us have more shew then force, and more ornament then fruit. Wee have forsaken nature, and yet wee will teach her her lesson; Shee, that lead us so happily, and directed us so safely. And in the means while, the traces of her instructions and that little which by the benefit of ignorance remaineth of her image, imprinted in the life of this rusticall troupe of unpolished men; learning is compelled to goe daily a borrowing, thereby to make her disciples a patterne of constancy, of innocency, and of tranquilitie. It is a goodly matter to see how these men full of so great knowledge, must imitate this foolish simplicitie, yea in the first and chiefe actions of vertue. And that our wisedome should learne of beasts the most profitable documents belonging to the chiefest and most necessary parts of our life. How we should live and die, husband our goods, love and bring up our children, and entertain justice. A singular testimonie of mans infirmitie, and that this reason we so manage at our pleasure, ever finding some diversitie and noveltie, leaveth unto us no maner of apparant tracke of nature. Wherewith men have done as perfumers do with oyle, they have adulterated her with so many argumentations and sofisticated her with so diverse farre-fetcht discourses, that she is become variable and peculiar to every man, and hath lost her proper, constant, and universall visage; whereof we must seeke for a testimony of beasts, not subject to favor or corruption, nor to diversity of opinions. For it is most true that themselves march not alwaies exactly in natures path, but if they chance to stray, it is so little that you may ever the perceive the tracke; Even as horses led by hand doe sometimes bound and start out of the way, but no further then their halters length, and neverthelesse follow ever his steps that leadeth them; And as a Hawke takes his flight but under the limits of hir cranes or twyne. Exilia, tormenta, bella, morbos, naufragia, meditare, ut nullo sis malo tyro: 'Banishments, torments, warres, sicknesses, shipwracks, all these fore-cast and premeditate, that thou maiest seeme no novice, no freshwater souldier to any misadventure.' What availeth this curiosity unto us, to preoccupate all humane natures inconveniences, and with so much labour and toyling against them to prepare our selves, which peradventure shall nothing concern us? (Parem passis tristitiam facit, pati posse: 'It makes men as sad that they may suffer some mischiefs as if they had suffred it.' Not onely the blow, but the winde and cracke strikes us.) Or as the most febricitant, for surely it is a kinde of fever, now to cause your selfe to be whipped because fortune may one day chance to make you endure it; and at Mid-Sommer to put-on your furr'd Gowne, because you shall neede it at Christmas? Cast your selves into the experience of all the mischiefes that may befall you, namely of the extreamest; there try your selfe (say they), there assure your selfe. Contrariwise, the easiest and most naturall were even to discharge his thought of them. They will not come soone enough, their true being doth not last us long enough, our spirit must extend and lengthen them, and before-hand incorporate them into himselfe, and therewith entertaine himselfe, as if they lay not sufficiently heavy on our senses. They will weigh heavy enough when they shall be there (saith one of the maisters, not of a tender, but of the hardest Sect); meane while favour thy selfe; Beleeve what thou lovest best. What availes it thee to collect and prevent thy ill fortune, and for feare of the future lose the present; and now to be miserable because in time thou maiest bee so? They are his owne words. Learning doth us willingly one good office, exactly to instruct us in the demensions of evils.
Pastorum, et longe saltus lati que vacantes.
Kingdomes of Shepherds desolate, forlorne,
Parkes farre and neere lie waste, a state all torne.Curis acuens mortalia corda.It were pity any part of their greatnesse should escape our feeling and understanding. It is certaine that preparation unto death hath caused more torment unto most than the very sufferance. It was whilome truely said of and by a most judicious Authour: Minus afficit sensus fatigatio, quam cogitatio: 'Wearinesse lesse troubleth our senses then pensivenesse doth.' The apprehension of present death doth sometimes of it selfe animate us with a ready resolution no longer to avoide a thing altogether inevitable. Many Gladiators have in former ages beene seene, having at first fought very cowardly, most courageously to embrace death; offering their throate to the enemies sword, yea and bidde them make haste. The sight distant from future death hath neede of a slowe constancy, and by consequence hard to bee found. If you know not how to die, take no care for it; Nature her selfe will fully and sufficiently teach you in the nicke, she will exactly discharge that worke for you; trouble not your selfe with it.
Mens cogitations whetting,
With sharpe cares inly fretting.
Incertam frustra, mortales, funeris horamQuæritis, et qua sit mors aditura via:We trouble death with the care of life, and life with the care of death. The one annoyeth, the other affrights us. It is not against death we prepare our selves, it is a thing too momentary. A quarter of an houre of passion without consequence and without annoyance deserves not particular precepts. To say we prepare our selves against the preparations of death. Philosophy teacheth us ever to have death before our eyes, to fore-see and consider it before it come; Then giveth us rules and precautions so to provide, that such foresight and thought hurt us not. So doe Phisitions, who cast up into diseases that they may employ their drugges and skill about them. If we have not known how to live, it is injustice to teach us how to die, and deforme the end from all the rest. Have wee knowne how to live constantly and quietly, wee shall know how to die resolutely and reposedly. They may bragge as much as they please. Tota Philosophorum vita commentatio mortis est: 'The whole life of a Philosopher is the meditation of his death.' But me thinkes it is indeede the end, yet not the scope of life. It is her last, it is her extremity, not her object. Hir selfe must be unto hir selfe, hir aime, hir drift, and her designe. Hir direct studie is to order, to direct, and to suffer hir selfe. In the number of many other offices which the generall and principall Chapter to know how to live containeth, is this speciall Article, 'To know how to die.' And of the easiest, did not our owne feare weigh it downe. To judge them by their profit and by the naked truth, the lessons of simplicity yeeld not much to those which Doctrine preacheth to the contrary unto us. Men are different in feeling and diverse in force; they must be directed to their good according to themselves, and by diverse waies:
Poena minor certam subito preferre ruinam;
Quod timeas, gravius sutiniuisse diu. -- Catul. Eleg. i. 29, 16.
Of death th' uncertaine houre you men in vaine
Enquire, and what way death shall you destraine:
A certaine sodaine ruine is lesse paine,
More grievous long what you feare to sustaine.Quo me cumque rapit tempestas, deferor hospes. -- Hor. i. Epist. i. 15.I never saw meane paisant of my neighbours, enter into cogitation or care with what assurance or countenance hee should passe this last houre. Nature teacheth him never to muze on death but when be dieth. And then hath he a better grace in it than Aristotle, whom death perpelexed doubly both by her selfe and by so long a premeditiation. Therefore was it Cæsars opinion that 'The least premeditated death was the happiest and easiest.' Plus dolet quam necesse est, qui ante dolet quam necesse est: 'He grieves more than be need, That grieves before he neede.' The sharpenesse of this imagination proceeds from our curiosity. Thus we ever hinder our selves, desiring to fore-runne and sway naturall prescriptions. It is but for Doctors being in health to fare the worse by it, and to frowne and startle at the Image of death. The vulgar sort have neither neede of remedy nor comfort, but when the shock or stroke commeth. And justly considers no more of it than he feeleth. And is it not as we say, that the vulgare stupidity and want of apprehension affoorde them this patience in private evils, and this deepe carelesnes of sinister future accidents? That their mind being more grosse, dull and blockish, is lesse penetrable and agitable? In Gods name, if it be so, let us henceforth keepe a schoole of brutality. It is the utmost fruit that Sciences promise unto us, to which she so gently bringeth her disciples. We shall not want good teachers, interp reters of naturall simplicity. Socrates shall be one; For, as neare as I remember, he speaketh in this sense [to]the Judges that determine of his life: 'I feare me, my Maisters' (saith hee), 'that if I entreate you not to make me die, I shall confirme the evidence of my accusers, which is, That I professe to have more understanding than others, as having some knowledge more secret and hid of things both above and beneath us. I know I have neither frequented nor knowne death, nor have I seene any body that hath either felt or tried her qualities to instruct me in them. Those who feare her presuppose to know; As for me, I neither know who or what she is, nor what they doe in the other world. Death may peradventure be a thing indifferent, happily a thing desirable. Yet it is to bee beleeved that if it be a transmigration from one place to another, there is some amendment in going to live with so many worthy famous persons that are deceased, and be exempted from having any more to doe with wicked and corrupted Judges. If it be a consummation of ones being, it is also an amendment and entrance into a long and quiet night. Wee finde nothing so sweete in life as a quiet rest and gentle sleepe, and without dreames. The things I know to be wicked, as to wrong or offend ones neighbour, and to disobey his superiour, be he God or man, I carefully shunne them; Such as I know not whether they be good or bad, I cannot feare them. If I goe to my death, and leave you alive, The Gods onely see, whether you or I shall prosper best; and therefore, for my regarde, you shall dispose of it as it shall best please you. But acccording to my fashion, which is to counsell good and profitable things, this I say, that for your owne conscience you shall doe best to free and discharge mee; except you see further into mine owne cause than my selfe. And judging according to my former actions, both publike and private, according to my intentions; and to the profit, that so many of our Citizens, both young and olde, draw dayly from my conversation, and the fruit, all you reape by me, you cannot more justly or duely discharge your selves toward my desertes than by appointing (my poverty considered) that I may live,and at the common charge bee kept, in the Prytaneo, which for much lesse reasons I have often seene you freely graunt to others. Impute it not to obstinacy or disdaine in me, nor take it in ill part, that i, according to custome, precede not by way of i ntreatie, and moove you to commiseration. I have both friends and kinsfolkes, being not (as Homer saith) begotten of a blocke or stone, no more than other men, capable to present themselves humbly suing with teares and mourning; and I have three desolate, wailing children to move you to pittie. But I should make your Citie ashamed of the age I am in, and in that reputation of wisedome, as now I stand in prevention to yeeld unto so base an abject countenances. What would the world say of other Athenians? I have ever admonished such as have heard me speake, never to purchase or redeeme their life by any dishonest or unlawfull act. And in my countries warres, both at Amphipolis, at Potidea, at Delia, and others, in which I have beene, I have shewen by effects how farre I was from warranting my safety by my shame. Moreover, I should interest your duty, and prejudice your calling, and perswade you to foule unlawfull things; for, not my prayers, but the pure and solid reasons of justice should perswade you. You have sworne to the Gods so to maintaine your selves. Not to beleeve there were any, might seeme I would suspect, recriminate, or retorte the fault upon you. And my selfe should witnesse against my selfe, not to beleeve in them as I ought, distrusting their conduct, and not meerely remitting my affaires into their hands. I wholly trust and relie on them, and certainely holde that in this they will dispose as it shall bee meetest for you and fittest for me. Honest men, that neither live nor are dead, have no cause at all to feare the Gods.' Is not this a childish pleading of an unimaginable courage, and in what necessity employed? Verily it was reason hee should preferre it before that which the great Orator Lysias had set downe in writing for him, excellently fashioned in a judiciary Stile, but unworthy of so noble a criminall. Should a man have heard an humbly-suing voice out of Socrates his mouth? Would that proud vertue have failed in the best of her shew? And would his rich and powerfull nature have committed her defence unto arte, and in her highest Essay renounced unto truth and sinceritie the ornaments of his speech, to adorne and decke himselfe with the embellishment of the figures and fictions of a fore-learn't Oration? Hee did most wisely, and according to himselfe, not to corrupt the tenure of an incorruptible life, and so sacred an image of human forme, to prolong his decrepitude for one yeere, and wrong the immortall memory of so glorious an end. He ought his life, not to himselfe, but to the worlds example. Had it not beene a publike losse if he had finished the same in some idle, base and obscure manner? Truely so carelesse and effeminate a consideration of his death deserved posteritie should so much more consider the same for him; which it did. And nothing is so just in justice as that which fortune ordained for his commendation. For the Athenians did afterward so detest and abhorre those which had furthered and caused his death, that of all they were loathed and shunned as cursed and excommunicated men; what soever they had but touched was held to be polluted; No man would so much as wash with them in bathes or hot houses; no man affoord them a salutation, much lesse accost or have to doe with them; so that, being in the end no longer able to endure this publike hatred and generall contempt, they all hanged themselves. If any man thinkes that amongst so many examples I might have chosen for the service of my purpose in Socrates his sayings, I have chosen or handled this but ill; and deemeth this discourse to be raised above common opinions, I have done it wittingly: for I judge otherwise, and hold it to bee a discourse in ranke and sincerity much shorter and lower then vulgar opinions. It representeth in an unartificiall boldnesse and infantine security, the pure impression and first ignorance of nature. Because it is credible that we naturally feare paine, but not death, by reason of her. It is a part of our being no lesse essentiall than life. To what end would Nature have else engendred the hate and horror of it, seeing it holdes therein, and with it a ranke of most great profit, to foster the succession and nourish the vicissitude of her works? And that in this universall Common-weale it steadeth and serveth more for birth and augmentation, then for losse, decay, or ruine.
Where I am whirld by winde and wether,
I guest-like straight am carried thether.Sic rerum summa novatur. -- Lucr. ii. 73.The decay of one life is the passage to a thousand other lives. Nature hath imprinted in beasts the care of themselves and of their preservation. They proceede even to the feare of their empairing, to shocke or hurt themselves, and that we should not shackle or beate them, accidents subject to th eir sense and experience. But that we should kill them, they cannot feare it, nor have they the faculty to imagine or conclude their death. Yet it is reported that they are not seene onely to embrace and endure the same joyfully (most Horses neigh in dying, and Swannes sing when it seiseth them), But, moreover, they seeke it when they neede it, as by divers examples may be prooved in the Elephants. Besides, the manner of arguing which Socrates useth here, is it not equally admirable both in simpli citie and in vehemence? Verily, It is much easier to speake as Aristotle and live as Cæsar, than speake and live as Socrates. Therein consists the extreame degree of difficulty and perfection; arte cannot attaine unto it. Our faculties are not now so addressed; We neither assay nor know them; we invest our selves with others, and suffer our own to be idle. As by some might be saide of me, that here I have but gathered a nosegay of strange floures, and have put nothing of mine unto it but the thred to binde them. Certes, I have given unto publike opinion that these borrowed ornaments accompany me, but I meane not they should cover or hide me; it is contrary to mine intention, who would make shew of nothing that is not mine owne, yea mine owne by nature. And had I believed my selfe, at all adventure I had spoken alone. I dayly charge my selfe the more beyond my proposition and first forme, upon the fantasie of time, and through idlenesse. If it mis-seeme me, as I thinke it doth, it is no great matter; it may be profitable for some other. Some alleadge Plato, some mention Homer, that never saw them; or, as they say in English, many a man speakes of Robin Hood that never shot in his bow; And I have taken divers passages from others then in their spring. Without paine or sufficiency, having a thousand volumes of bookes about mee where now I write, if I please I may presently borrow from a number of such botcherly-patchcotes (men that I plod not much upon) wherewith to enamell this treaty of Physiognomie. I need but the liminary epistle of a Germane to store me with allegations, and we goe questing that way for a fading greedy glory to cousin and delude the foolish world. These rapsodies of common-places, wherewith so many stuffe their study, serve not greatly but for vulgar subjects, and serve but to shew and not to direct us: A ridiculous-fond fruite of learning that Socrates doth so pleasantly enveigh and exagirate against Euthydemus. I have seene bookes made of things neither studied nor ever understood, the author comming to divers of his learned and wise friends in the search of this and that matter, that so hee might compile them into a booke, contenting himselfe for his owne part to have cast the plot and projected the desseigne of it, and by his industry to have bound up the fagot of unknowne provisions; at least is the inke and paper his owne. This may bee saide to be a buying or borrowing and not a making or compiling of a booke. It is to teach men, not that one can make a booke, but to put them out of doubt that hee cannot make it. A president of the law in a place where I was vanted himselfe to have hudled up together two hundred and od strange places in a presidentiall law-case of his: In publishing of which he defaced the glory which others gave him for it: A weake, childish and absurd boasting, in my opinion, for such a subject and for such a man. I doe cleane contrary, and amongst so many borrowings am indeed glad to filch some one, disguising and altering the same to some new service. On hazard, to let men say that it is for lacke of understanding its naturall use, I give it some particular addressing of mine own hand, to the end it may be so much lesse meerely strange; Whereas these put their larcenies to pubIike view and garish show; so have they more credit in the lawes then I. We other naturalists suppose th at there is a great and incomparable preference betweene the honour of invention and that of allegation; Would I have spoken according to learning, I had spoken sooner, I had written at such times as I was neerer to my studies, when I had more wit and more memory, and should more have trusted the vigor of that age then the imperfection of this had I beene willing to professe writing of bookes. And what if this gratious favour, which fortune hath not long since offered me by the intermission of this worke, could have befalne me in such a season in liew of this, where it is equally desireable to possesse and ready to loose?
So doth the summe of all,
By courses rise and fall.
Mille animas una necata dedit.
We thousand soules shall pay
For one soule made away.
Two of mine acquaintance (both notable men in this faculty) have, in my conceit, lost much because they refused to publish themselves at forty yeares of age, to stay untill they were three score. Maturity hath her defects as well as greenenesse, and worse. And as incommodious or unfit is old age unto this kinde of worke as to any other. Whosoever puts his decrepitude under the presse committeth folly, if therby he hopes to wring out humors that shall not taste of dotage, of foppery, or of drousinesse. Our spirit becommeth costive and thickens in growing old. Of ignorance I speake sumptuously and plenteously, and of learning meagerly and pitiously; This accessorily and accidentally, that expressely and principally; And purposely I treat of nothing but of nothing, nor of any one science but of unscience. I have chosen the time where the life I have to set forth is all before me, the rest holds more of death. And of my death onely should I finde it babling, as others doe, I would willingly, in dislodging, give the World advise. Socrates hath beene a perfect patterne in all great qualities, I am vexed that ever he met with so unhandsome and crabbed a body as they say he had, and so dissonant from the beauty of his minde: Himselfe so amorous and so besotted on beauty. Nature did him wrong. There is no thing more truely-semblable as the conformity or relation betweene the body and the minde. Ipsi animi, magni refert, quali in corpore locati sint; multa enim e corpore existunt quæ acuant mentem, multa quæ obtundant: 'It is of great import in what body the minde is bestowed, for many things arise of the body to sharpen the minde, and many things to dull and rebate it.' This man speakes of an unnaturall ill-favourdnesse and membrall deformity, but we call ill-favourdnesse a kinde of unseemelinesse at the first sight, which chiefely lodgeth in the face, and by the colour worketh a dislike in us. A freckle, a blemmish, a rude countenance, a sower looke, proceeding often of some inexplicable cause, may be in well ordered, comely and compleate limmes. The foulenesse of face which invested a beauteous minde in my deare friend La Boitie was of this predicament. This superficiall ill-favourdnesse, which is notwithstanding to the most imperious, is of lesse prejudice unto the state of the minde, and hath small certainty in mens opinion. The other, by a more proper name called a more substantiall deformity, beareth commonly a deeper inward stroke. Not every shooe of smoothshining leather, but every well-shapen and handsome-made shoe, sheweth the inward and right shape of the foote. As Socrates said of his, that it justly accused so much in his mind had he not corrected the same by institution; But in so saying I suppose, that according to his wonted use he did but jest, and so excellent mind did never frame it selfe; I cannot often enough repeate how much I esteeme beauty, so powerfull and advantageous a quality is she. He named it a short tyranny, and Plato the priviledge of Nature. We have none that exceeds it in credit; She possesseth the chiefe ranke in the commerce of society of men: She presents it selfe forward, she seduceth and preoccupates our judgement with great authority and wonderfull impression. Phryne had lost her plea, though in the hands of an excellent lawyer, if with opening her garments, by the sodaine flashing of hir beauty she had not corrupted her judges; And I finde that Cyrus, Alexander, and Cæsar, those three Masters of the World, have not forgotten or neglected the same in atchieving their great affaires; so hath not the first Scipio. One same word in Greeke importeth faire and good; And even the Holy Ghost calleth often those good which he meaneth faire. I should willingly maintaine the ranke of the goods as imployed the song which Plato saith to have beene triviall, taken from some ancient Poet, Health, beauty and riches. Aristotle saith that the right of commanding doth of duty belong to such as are faire and if haply any be found whose beauty approached to that of the Gods images, that veneration is equally due unto them. To one that asked him why the fairest were both longer time and oftner frequented, 'This question,' quoth he, 'ought not to be mooved but by a blinde man.' Most and the greatest Philosophers paide for their schooling and attained unto Wisedome by the intermission of their beauty, and favour of their comlines. Not onely in men that serve me, but in beasts also, I consider the same within two inches of goodnesse. Yet me thinkes that the same feature and manner of the face, and those lineaments by which some argue certaine inward complexions and our future fortunes, is a thing that doth not directly nor simply lodge under the Chapter of beauty and favourdnesse, no more than all good favours, or cleerenesse of aire doe not alwayes promise health: nor all fogges and stinkes infection in times of the plague. Such as accuse Ladies to contradict the beauty by their manners, guesse not alwayes at the truth. For [an] ill favourd and ill composed face may sometimes harbour some aire of probity and trust. As on the contrary I have sometimes read between two faire eyes the threats of a maligne and dangerous ill-boding nature. There are some favourable Physiognomies, For in a throng of victorious enemies you shall presently ammiddest a multitude of unknowne faces, make choise of one man more than of others to yeeld your selfe unto and trust your life, and not properly by the consideration of beauty. A mans looke or aire of his face is but a weake warrant, notwithstanding it is of some consideration; And were I to whipe them I would more rudely scourge such as maliciously belie and betray the promises which Nature had charactred in their front; And more severely would I punish malicious craft in a debonaire apparance and in a mild promising countenance. It seemeth there be some lucky and well boding faces, and other some unlucky and ill presaging; And I thinke there is some Art to distinguish gently-milde faces from nyæs and simple, the severe from the rude, the malicious from the froward, the disdainefull from the melancholike and other neighbouring qualities. There are some beauties not onely fierce-looking, but also sharpe working, some others pleasing-sweet and yet wallowishly tastlesse. To prognosticate future successes of them be matters I leave undecided. I have (as elsewhere I noted) taken for my regard this ancient precept, very rawly and simply : That We cannot erre in following Nature; and that the soveraigne document is for a man to conforme himselfe to her. I have not (as Socrates), by the power and vertue of reason, corrected my natural complexions, nor by Art hindered mine inclination. Looke how I came into the World, so I goe-on: I strive with nothing. My two Mistris parts live of their owne kindnesse in peace and good agreement; but my nurses milke hath (thankes be to God) been indifferently wholesome and temperate. Shall I say thus much by the way? That I see a certaine image of bookish or scholastical preud'hommie onely, which is in a maner in use amongst us, held and reputed in greater esteeme than it deserveth, and which is but a servant unto precepts, brought under by hope, and constrained by fear? I love it such as lawes and religions make not, but over-make and authorize; that they may be perceived to have wherewith to uphold her selfe without other aide sprung up in us of her owne proper roots, by and from the seed of universall reason, imprinted in every man that is not unnaturall. The same reason that reformeth Socrates from his vicious habite, yeelds him obedient both to Gods and men that rule and command his City; courageous in his death, not because his soule is immortall, but because he is mortall. A ruinous instruction to all common-weales, and much more harmefull than ingenious and subtile, is that which perswadeth men that onely religious beliefe, and without manners, sufficeth to content and satisfie divine justice. Custome makes us see an enormous distinction betweene devotion and conscience. I have a favourable apparence, both in forme and in interpretation.Quid dixi habere me? Imo habui, Chreme:And which makes a contrary shew to that of Socrates. It hath often betided me that by the simple credit of my presence and aspect, some that had no knowledge of me have greatly trusted unto it, were it about their owne affaires or mine. And even in forraine countries, I have thereby reaped singular and rare favours. These two experiments are haply worthy to be particularly related. A quidam gallant determined upon a time to surprise both my house and my selfe. His plot was to come riding alone to my gate, and instantly to urge entrance. I knew him by name, and had some reason to trust him, being my neigbbour and somwhat alide unto me. I presently caused my gates to be opened, as I do to all men. He comes-in all afrighted, his horse out of breath; both much harassed. He entertaines me with this fable: that within halfe a league of my house he was sodainely set-upon by an enemy of his whom I knew well, and had heard of their quarrell; that his foe had wondrously put him to his spurres; that being surprised unarmed, and having fewer in his company than the other, he was glad to runne away, and for safety had made haste to come to my house, as to his sanctuary; That he was much perplexed for his men, all which he supposed to be either taken or slaine. I endevoured friendly to comfort and sincerely to warrant and refresh him. Within a while came galloping foure or five of his Souldiers, amazed, as if they had beene out of their wits, hasting to be let in. Shortly after came others, and others, all proper men, well mounted, better armed, to the number of thirty or there abouts, all seeming distracted for feare, as if the enemy that pursued them had beene at their heeles. This mystery beganne to summon my suspicion. I was not ignorant of the age wherein I lived, nor how much my house might be envied; and had sundry examples of others of my acquaintance that had beene spoiled, beset and surprised thus and thus. So it is, that perceiving with my selfe, there was nothing to be gotten though I had begun to use them kindly, if I continued not, and being unable to rid my selfe of them and cleare my house without danger and spoiling all; as I ever doe, I tooke the plainest and most naturall well meaning way, and commanded they should be let-in and bid welcome. And to say truth, I am by nature little suspicious or mistrustfull. I am easily drawen to admit excuses and encline to mild interpretations. I take men according to common order, and suppose everyone to meane as I doe, and beleeve these perverse and trecherous inclinations, except I be compelled by some authenticall testimony, no more then monsters or miracles. Besides I am a man that willingly commit my selfe unto fortune, and carelesly cast my selfe unto her armes. Whereof hitherto I have more just cause to commend my selfe than to complaine. And have found her more circumspect and friendly-careful of my affaires than I am my selfe. There are certaine actions of my life, the conduct of which may justly be termed difficult, or if any be so disposed, prudent. And of those, suppose the third part of them to be mine owne, truely the other two are richly hirs. We are to blame, and in my conceit we erre, that we doe not sufficiently and so much as we ought, trust the heavens with our selves. And pretend more in our owne conduct then of right appertaines unto us. Therefore doe our desseignes so often miscarry, and our intents so seldome sort to wished effect. The heavens are angry, and I may say envious of the extension and large priviledge we ascribe unto the right of humane wisedome, to the prejudice of theirs: and abridge them so much the more unto us by how much more we endevour to amplifie them. But to come to my former discourse. These gallants kept still on horsebacke in my court, and would not alight; their Captaine with me in my hall, who would never have his horse set-up, still saying that be would not stay, but must necessarily withdraw himselfe so soon as he had newes of his followers. He saw himselfe master of his enterprise, and nothing was wanting but the execution. Hee hath since reported very often (for he was no whit scrupulous or afraid to tell this story) that my undaunted lookes, my undismaide countenance, and my liberty of speech made him reject all manner of treasonable intents or trecherous desseignes. What shall I say more? He bids me farewell, calleth for his horse, gets up, and offreth to be gone, his people having continually their eyes fixed upon him, to observe his lookes and see what signe be should make unto them; much amazed to see him begone, and wondring to see him omit and forsake such an advantage. An other time, trusting to a certaine truce or cessation of armes that lately had beene published through our campes in France, as one suspecting no harme, I undertooke a journey from home, through a dangerous and very ticklish countrey. I had not rid far but I was discovered, and behold three or foure troupes of horsemen, all severall wayes, made after me, with purpose to entrap me; One of which overtooke mee the third day, where I was round beset and charged by fifteene or twenty Gentlemen, who had all vizards and cases, followed a loofe-off by a band of Argoletiers. I was charged; I yeelded; I was taken and immediately drawne into the bosome of a thicke Wood that was not far-off; there puld from my horse, stripped with all speed, my truncks and clokebags rifled, my box taken, my horses, my equipage, and such things as I had, dispersed and shared amongst them. We continued a good while amongst those thorny bushes, contesting and striving about my ransome, which they racked so high that it appeared well I was not much knowne of them. They had long contestation among themselves for my life. And to say truth, there were many circumstances threatned me of the danger I was in.
Heu tantum attriti corporis ossa vides. -- Ter. Heau. act i. sc. 1.
I have; what did I say?
I had what's now away.
Alas, you onely now behold
Bones of a body worne and old.Tunc animis opus, Ænea, tuncpectore firmo. -- Virg. Æn. vi.I ever stood upon the title and priviledge of the truce and proclamation made in the King's name, but that availed not: I was content to quit them what ever they had taken from me, which was not to be despised, without promising other ransome. After we had debated the matter to and fro the space of two or three houres, and that no excuses could serve, they set me upon a lame jade, which they knew could never escape them, and committed the particular keeping of my person to fifteene or twenty harque-busiers, and dispersed my people to others of their crew, commanding we should divers wayes be carried prisoners, and my selfe being gone two or threescore paces from them,
Of courage then indeed,
Then of stout brest is need.Jam prece Pollucis, jam Castoris implorata, -- Catul. El. iv. 65.behold a sodain and unexpected alteration took them. I saw their Captaine comming towards me, with a cheerful countenance and much milder speeches than before, carefully trudging up and down through all the troops to find out my goods againe, which as he found al scattred he forced every man to restore them unto me; and even my boxe came to my hands againe. To conclude, the most precious jewell they presented me was in liberty; as for my other things, I cared not greatly at that time. What the true cause of so unlookt-for a change and so sodaine an alteration was, without any apparent impulsion, and of so wonderfull repentance, at such a time, in such an opportunity and such an enterprise, fore-meditated, consulted and effected without controlement, and which through custome and the impiety of times was now become lawfull (for at the first brunt I plainely confessed and genuinly told them what side I was of, where my way lay, and whither I was riding), I verily know not yet, nor can I give any reason for it. The chiefest amongst them unmasked himselfe, told me his name, and repeated divers times unto me that I should acknowledge my deliverance to my countenance, to my boldnesse and constancy of speech, and be beholding to them for it, insomuch as they made me unworthy of such a misfortune; and demanded assurance of me for the like curtesie. It may be that the inscrutable goodnesse of God would use this vaine instrument for my preservation; For the next morrow it also shielded me from worse mischiefe or amboscadoes, whereof themselves gently forewarned me. The last is yet living, able to report the whole successe himselfe; the other was slaine not long since. If my countenance had not answered for me, if the ingenuity of mine inward intent might not plainely have been deciphered in mine eyes and voice, surely I could never have continued so long without quarrels or offences: with this indiscreete liberty, to speake freely (be it right or wrong) whatever commeth to my minde, and rashly to judge of things. This fashion may in some sort (and that with reason) seeme uncivill and ill accommodated in our customa ry manners; but outrageous or malicious, I could never meete with any would so judge it, or that was ever distasted at my liberty if he received the same from my mouth. Words reported againe have as another sound, so another sense. And to say true, I hate no body; And am so remisse to offend, or slow to wrong any, that for the service of reason it selfe I cannot doe it. And if occasion have at any time urged me in criminall condemnations to doe as others, I have rather beene content to be amearced then to appeare. Ut magis peccari nolim, quam satis animi ad vindicanda peccata habeam: 'So as I had rather men should not offend, then that I should have courage enough to punish their offences.' Some report that Aristotle, being up-braided by some of his friends that he had beene over mercifull toward a wicked man, 'I have indeede (quoth he) beene mercifull toward the man, but not toward his wickednesse.' Ordinary judgements are exasperated unto punishment by the horror of the crime; And that enmildens mee. The horror of the first murther makes me feare a second; And the uglinesse of one cruelty induceth me to detest all maner of imitation of it. To me, that am but a plaine fellow and see no higher than a steeple, may that concerne which was reported of Charillus, King of Sparta: 'He cannot be good, since he is not bad to the wicked.' Or thus; for Plutarke presents it two wayes, as he doth a thousand other things diversly and contrary; 'He must needs be good, since he is so to the wicked.' Even as in lawfull actions it grieves me to take any paines about them, when it is with such as are therewith displeased; So, to say truth, in unlawfull, I make no great conscience to employ my selfe or take paines about them, being with such as consent unto them.
Pollux and Castors aide,
When I had humbly praide,