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.
HERE IS no desire more naturall then that of knowledge. We attempt all meanes that may bring us unto it. When reason failes us, we employ experience.
Per varios usus artem experientia fecit,
Exemplo monstrante viam. -- Manil. i. Ast. 61.Which is a meane by much more weake and vile. But truth is of so great consequence that wee ought not disdaine any induction that may bring us unto it. Reason hath so many shapes that wee know not which to take hold of. Experience hath as many. The consequence we seeke to draw from the conference of events is unsure, because they are ever dissemblable. No quality is so universall in this surface of things as variety and diversity. The Greekes, the Latines, and wee, use for the most expresse examples of similitude that of egges. Some have neverthelesse beene found, especially one in Delphos, that knew markes of difference betweene egges, and never tooke one for another; And having divers hennes, could rightly judge which had laid the egge. Dissimilitude doth of it selfe insinuate into our workes, no arte can come neere unto similitude. Neither Perozet nor any other carde-maker can so industriously smoothe or whiten the backeside of his cardes, but some cunning gamester will distinguish them onely by seeing some other player handle or shuffle them. Resemblance doth not so much make one as difference maketh another. Nature hath bound herselfe to make nothing that may not be dissemblable. Yet doth not the opinion of that man greatly please mee, that supposed by the multitude of lawes to curbe the authority of judges in cutting out their morsels. He perceived not that there is as much liberty and extension in the interpretation of lawes as in their fashion. And those but mocke themselves who thinke to diminish our debates and stay them by calling us to the expresse word of sacred Bible. Because our spirit findes not the field lesse spacious to controule and checke the sense of others then to represent his own, and as if there were as litle courage and sharpnesse to glose as to invent. Wee see how farre hee was deceived. For we have in France more lawes then all the world besides; yea, more then were needefull to governe all the worlde imagined by Epicurus: Ut olim flagitiis, sic nunc legibus laboramus: 'As in times past we were sicke of offences, so now are we of lawes.' As we have given our judges so large a scope to moote, to opinionate, to suppose, and decide, that there was never so powerfull and so licentious a liberty. What have our lawmakers gained with chusing a hundred thousand kinds of particular cases, and adde as many lawes unto them? That number hath no proportion with the infinite diversity of humane accidents. The multiplying of our inventions shall never come to the variation of examples. Adde a hundred times as many unto them, yet shall it not follow that of events to come there be any one found that in all this infinite number of selected and enregistred events shall meete with one to which be may so exactly joyne and match it, but some circumstance and diversity will remaine that may require a diverse consideration of judgement. There is but little relation betweene our actions that are in perpetuall mutation and the fixed and unmoveable lawes. The most to be desired are the rarest, the simplest, and most generall. And yet I believe it were better to have none at all then so infinite a number as we have. Nature gives them ever more happy then those we give our selves. Witnesse the image of the golden age that Poets faine, and the state wherein we see divers nations to live, which have no other. Some there are who to decide any controversie that may rise amongst them, will chuse for judge the first man that by chance shall travell alongst their mountaines: Others, that upon a market day will name some one amongst themselves who in the place without more wrangling shall determine all their questions. What danger would ensue if the wisest should so decide ours according to occurences and at the first sight, without being tied to examples and consequences? Let every foote have his owne shooe. Ferdinando, King of Spaine, sending certaine Colonies into the Indies, provided wisely that no lawyers or students of the lawes should be carried thither, for feare lest controversies, sutes, or process should people that new found world. As a Science that of her owne nature engendreth altercation and division, judging with Plato that Lawyers and Phisitions are an ill provision for any countrey.' Wherefore is that our common language, so easie to be understood in all other matters, becommeth so obscure, so harsh and so hard to bee understood in law-cases, bils, contracts, indentures, citations, wils, and testaments? And that hee who so plainely expresseth himselfe, what ever he spake or writ of any other subject, in law matters findes no manner or way to declare himselfe his meaning that admits not some doubt or contradiction; Unlesse it be that the Princes of this art, applying themselves with a particular attention to lilve and chose strange, choise, and solemne words, and frame artificiall cunning clauses, have so plodded and poized every syllable, canvased and sifted so exquisitely every seame and quiddity, that they are now so entangled and so confounded in the infinity of figures and so several- small partitions, that they can no mor come within the compasse of any order, or prescription or certaine understanding. Confusum est quidquid usque in pulverem sectum est: 'Whatsoever is sliced into very powder is confused.'
By divers proofes experience art hath bred,
Whilst one by one the way examples led.
Whosoever hath seene children labouring to reduce a masse of quicke-silver to a certaine number, the more they presse and work the same and strive to force it to their will, so much more they provoke the liberty of that generous metall, which scorneth their arte, and scatteringly disperseth it selfe beyond all imagination. Even so of lawyers, who in subdividing their suttleties or quiddities, teach men to multiply doubts, and by extending and diversifying difficufties, they lengthen and amplifie, they scatter and disperse them. In sowing and retailing of questions they make the World to fructifie and abound in uncertainty, in quarrels, in sutes, and in controversies. As the ground the more it is crumbled, broken, and deeply removed or grupped up, becommeth so much more fertile. Difficultatent fecit doctrine: 'Learning breeds difficulty.' We found many doubts in Ulpian, we finde more in Bartolus and Baldus. The trace of this innumerable diversity of opinions should never have been used to adorne posterity and have it put in her head, but rather have beene utterly razed out. I know not what to say to it; but this is seene by experience, that so many interpretations dissipate and confound all truth. Aristotle hath written to bee understood: Which, if he could not, much lesse shall another not so learned as he was; and a third, than he who treateth his owne imagination. We open the matter, and spill it in distempering it. Of one subject we make a thousand: And in multiplying and subdividing we fal againe into the infinity of Epicurus his Atomes. It was never seene that two men judged alike of one same thing: And it is impossible to see two opinions exactly semblable, not onely in divers men, but in any one same man at severall houres. I commonly find something to doubt of, where the commentary happily never deigned to touch, as deeming it so plaine. I stumble sometimes as much in an even smooth path, as some horses that I know who oftner trip in a faire plaine way than in a rough and stony. Who would not say that glosses increase doubts and ignorance, since no booke is to be seene, whether divine or profane, commonly read of all men, whose interpretation dimmes or tarnisheth not the difficulty? The hundred commentary sends him to his succeeder more thorny and more crabbed than the first found him. When agreed we amongst our selves to say, this booke is perfect; there's now nothing to be said against it? This is best seene in our French-pedling Law. Authority of Law is given to infinite Doctors, to infinite arrests, and to as many interpretations. Finde we for all that any end of need of interpreters? Is there any advancement or progresse towards tranquillity seene therein? Have we now lesse need of Advocates and Judges than when this huge masse of Law was yet in hir first infancy? Cleane contrary: we obscure and bury understanding. We discover it no more but at the mercy of so many Courts, Barres, or Plea-benches. Men misacknowledge the naturall infirmity of their minde. She doth but quest and firret, and uncessantly goeth turning, winding, building, and entangling her selfe in hir owne worke, as doe our silke-wormes, and therein stifleth hir selfe. Mus in pice: 'A mouse in pitch.' He supposeth to note a farre-off I wot not what apparance of cleerenesse and imaginary truth; but whilst he runneth unto it, so many lets and difficulties crosse his way, so many impeachments and new questings start up, that they stray loose and besot him. Not much otherwise than it fortuned to Aesops Dogs who farre-off discovering some shew of a dead body to flote upon the Sea, and being unable to approach the same, undertooke to drinke up all the Water, that so they might drie up the passage, and were all stifeled. To which answereth that which Crates said of Heraclitus his compositions, that they needed a Reader who should bee a cunning swimmer, lest the depth and weight of his learning should drowne and swallow him up. It is nothing but a particular weakenesse that makes us contend with that which others or we our selves have found in this pursuite of knowledge. A more sufficient man will not be pleased therewith. There is a place for a follower, yea and for our selves, and More wayes to the Wood than one. There is no end in our inquisitions. Our end is in the other World. It is a signe his wits grow short when he is pleased, or a signe of wearinesse. No generous spirit stayes and relies upon himselfe: he ever pretendtfh and goeth beyond his strength. He hath some vagaries beyond his effects. If hee advance not himselfe, presse, settle, shocke, turne, winde and front himselfe, he is but halfe alive; His pursuits are termelesse and formelesse. His nourishment is admiration, questing, and ambiguity: Which Apollo declared sufficiently, alwayes speaking ambiguously, obscurely, and obliquely unto us - not feeding, but busying and ammusing us. It is an irregular, uncertaine motion, perpetuall, patternelesse, and without end. His inventions enflame, follow, and enter-produce one another.Ainsi voit-on en un ruisseau coulant,There's more adoe to enterpret interpretations than to interpret things, and more bookes upon bookes then upon any other subject. We do but enter-glose our selves. All swarmeth with commentaries; of Authors there is great penury. Is not the chiefest and most famous knowledge of our ages to know how to understand the wise? Is it not the common and last scope of our study? Our opinions are grafted one upon an other. The first serveth as a stocke to the second, the second to the third. Thus we ascend from steppe to steppe. Whence it followeth that the highest-mounted hath often more honour than merit. For hee is got-up but one inch above the shoulders of the last save one. How often, and peradventure foolishly, have I enlarged my Booke to speake of himselfe? Foolishly, if it were but for this reason: That I should have remembred that what I speake of others they doe the like of me. That those so frequent glances on their workes witnes their hart shivereth with the love they beare them, and that the disdainfull churlishnesse wherewith they beate them are but mignardizes and affectations of a motherly favour. Following Aristotle, in whom, both esteeming and dis-esteeming himselfe arise often of an equall aire of arrogancy. For mine excuse, That in this I ought to have more liberty than others, forsomuch as of purpose I write both of my selfe and of my writings as of my other actions, that my theame doth turne into it selfe; I wot not whether every man will take it. I have seene in Germany that Luther hath left as many divisions and altercations concerning the doubt of his opinions, yea, and more, than himselfe moveth about the Holy Scriptures. Our contestation is verball. I demaund what Nature, voluptuousnesse, circle, and substitution is? The question is of words, and with words it is answered. A stone is a body: but he that should insist and urge: And what is a body? - A substance. And what is a substance? and so goe-on, should at last bring the respondent to his Calepine or wits end. One word is changed for another word, and often more unknowne. I know better what Homo is then I know what Animal is, either mortall or reasonable. To answere one doubt they give me three: It is Hidræs head. Socrates demanded of Memnon what vertue was. 'There is,' answered Memnon, 'the vertue of a Man, of a Woman, of a Magistrate, of a private Man, of a Childe, of an old Man. What vertue meane you?' 'Yea, marry. this is very well,' quoth Socrates; 'we were in search of one vertue, and thou bringest me a whole swarme.' We propose one question, and we have a whole huddle of them made unto us againe. As no event or forme doth wholly resemble another, so doth it not altogether differ one from another. Oh, ingenious mixture of Nature! If our faces were not like, we could not discerne a man from a beast; If they were not unlike, we could not distinguish one man from another man. All things hold by some similitude; Every example limpeth. And the relation which is drawne from experience is ever defective and imperfect. Comparisons are, neverthelesse, joyned together by some end. So serve the Lawes, and so are they sorted and fitted to all our sutes or affaires by some wiredrawen, forced, and collateral interpretation. Since the morall Lawes, which respect the particular duty of every man in himselfe, are so hard to be taught and observed as we see they are: It is no wonder if those which governe so many particulars, are more hard. Consider the forme of this Law by which we are ruled: It is a lively testimony of humane imbecility, so much contradiction and so many errours are therin contained. That which we thinke favour or rigour in Law (wherein is so much of either, that I wot not well whether we shall so often find indifferency in them), or crazed-infected parts and unjust members of the very body and essence of Law. Certaine poore country-men came even now to tell me in a great haste, that but now in a forrest of mine they have left a man wounded to death, with a hundred hurts about him, yet breathing, and who for God's sake hath begged a little water and some helpe to raise himselfe at their hands; But that they durst not come neere him, and ran all away, for feare some officers belonging to the Law should meete and catch them, and as they doe with such as they find neere unto a murthered body, so they should bee compelled to give an account of this mischance, to their utter undooing, having neither friends nor mony to defend their innocency. What should I have said unto them? It is most certaine that this Office of humanity had brought them to much trouble. How many innocent and guiltlesse men have we seene punished? I say without the Judge's fault? and how many more that were never discovered? This hath hapned in my time. Certaine men are condemned to death for a murther committed; the sentence, if not pronounced, at least concluded and determined. This done, the Judges are advertised by the Officers of a subalternall Court, not farre-off, that they have certaine prisoners in hold that have directly confessed the foresaid murther, and thereof bring most evident markes and tokens. The question and consultation is now in the former Court, whether for all this they might interrupt or should deferre the execution of the sentence pronounced against the first. They consider the novelty of the example and consequence thereof, and how to reconcile the judgement. They conclude that the condemnation hath passed according unto Law, and therefore the Judges are not subject to repentance. To be short, these miserable Wretches are consecrated to the prescriptions of the Law. Philip, or some other, provided for such an inconvenience in this manner: he had by an irrevocable sentence condemned one to pay another a round summe of money for a fine. A while after, the truth being discovered, it was found he had wrongfully condemned him. On one side was the right of the cause, on the other the right of judiciary formes. He is in some sort to satisfie both parties, suffering the sentence to stand in full power, and with his owne purse recompenced the interest of the condemned. But hee was to deale with a reparable accident; my poore slaves were hanged irreparably. How many condemnations have I seene more criminall than the crime it selfe? All this put me in minde of those ancient opinions: That Hee who will doe right in grosse must needs doe wrong by retaile; and injustly in small things, that will come to doe justice in great matters. That humane justice is framed according to the modell of physicke, according to which, whatsoever is profitable is also just and honest; And of that the Stoickes hold that Nature her selfe, in most of her workes, proceedeth against justice; And of that which the Cyreniaques hold, that there is nothing just of it selfe: That customes and lawes frame justice. And the Theodorians, who in a wise man allow as just all manner of theft, sacriledge, and paillardise, so he thinke it profitable for him. There is no remedy: I am in that case as Alcibiades was, and if I can otherwise chuse, will never put my selfe unto a man that shall determine of my head, or consent that my honour or life shall depend on the industry or care of mine atturney more then mine innocency. I could willingly adventure my selfe and stand to that Law that should as well recompence me for a good deed as punish me for a mis-deede, and where I might have a just cause to hope, as reason to feare. Indemnitie is no sufficient coyne for him who doth better than not to trespasse. Our Law presents us but one of her hands, and that is her left hand. Whosoever goes to Law, doth in the end but lose by it. In China, the policy, arts and government of which kingdome, having neither knowledge or commerce with ours exceed our examples in divers parts of excellency, and whose Histories teach me how much more ample and divers the World is than eyther we or our forefathers could ever enter into. The Officers appointed by the Prince to visite the state of his Provinces, as they punish such as abuse their charge, so with great liberality they reward such as have uprightly and honestly behaved themselves in them, or have done any thing more then ordinary, and besides the necessity of their duty; There all present themselves, not onely to warrant themselves, but also to get something. Not simply to be paid, but liberally to be rewarded. No judge hath yet, God be thanked, spoken to me as a judge in any cause Whatsoever, either mine or another mans, criminal or civill. No prison did ever receive me, no not so much as for recreation to walke in. The very imagination of one maketh the sight of their outside seem irkesome and loathsome to mee. I am so besotted unto liberty that should any man forbid me the accesse unto any one corner of the Indiæs I should in some sort live much discontented. And so long as I shall finde land or open aire elsewhere, I shall never lurke in any place where I must bide my selfe. Oh God how hardly could I endure the miserable condition of so many men confined and immured in some corners of this kingdome, barred from entring the chiefest Cities, from accesse into Courts, from conversing with men, and interdicted the use of common wayes, onely because they have offended our lawes. If those under which I live should but threaten my fingers end, I would presently goe finde out some others, wheresoever it were. All my small wisedome, in these civill and tumultuous warres wherein we now live, doth wholly employ it selfe, that they may not interrupt my liberty to goe and come where ever I list. Lawes are now maintained in credit, not because they are essentially just, but because they are lawes. It is the mysticall foundation of their authority - they have none other - which availes them much: they are often made by fooles; more often by men who, in hatred of equality, have want of equity; But ever by men who are vaine and irresolute Authours. There is nothing so grossely and largely offending, nor so ordinarily wronging as the Lawes. Whosoever obeyeth them because they are just, obeyes them not justly the way as he ought. Our French lawes doe in some sort, by their irregularity and deformity, lend a helping hand unto the disorder and corruption that is seene in their dispensation and execution. Their behest is so confused, and their command so inconstant, that it in some sort excuseth both the disobedience and the vice of the interpretation, of the administration, and of the observation. Whatsoever then the fruit is we may have of Experience, the same which we draw from forraine examples will hardly stead our institution much; if we reape so small profit from that wee have of our selves, which is most familiar unto us, and truely sufficient to instruct us of what we want. I study my selfe more than any other subiect. It is my supernaturall Metaphisik, it is my naturall Philosophy.
Sans fin l'une eau, apres l'autre roulant,
Et tout de rang, d'un eternal conduict,
L'une suit l'autre, et l'une l'autre fuit.
Par cette-cy, celle-la est Poussée,
Et cette-cy, par I'autre est devancée:
Tousjours l'leau va dans l'eau, et tousjours est ce
Mesme ruisseau et tousjours eau diverse.
As in a running river we behold
How one wave after th' other still is rold,
And all along as it doth endlesse rise,
Th' one th' other followes, th' one from th' other flyes,
By this Wave that is driv'n; and this againe
By th' other is set forward all amaine:
Water in Water still, one river still,
Yet divers Waters still that river fill.Qua Deus hanc mundi temperet arte domum,
Qua venit exoriens, qua deficit unde coactis
Cornibus in plenum menstrua luna redit:
Unde salo superant venti, quid flamine captet
Eurus, et in nubes unde perennis æqua.
Sit ventura dies mundi quæ subruat arces. -- Propert. iii. El. iv. 26.
This Worlds great house by what arte God doth guide;
From whence the monethly Moone doth rising ride,
How wane, how with clos'd horns returns to pride,
How winds on seas beare sway, what th' Easterne winde
Would have, how still in clouds we water finde;
If this worlds Towers to rase a day be signde.
Quærite, quos agitat mundi labor:
All this doe you enquire
Whom this worlds travails tyre.
In this universality I suffer my selfe ignorantly and negligently to be managed by the generall law of the world. I shall sufficiently know it when I shall feele it. My learning cannot make her change her course; she will not diversifie her selfe for me; it were folly to hope it: And greater folly for a man to trouble him selfe about it; since it is necessarily semblable, publicke, and common. The governours capacity and goodnesse should throughly discharge us of the governments care. Philosophicall inquisitions and contemplations serve but as a nourishment unto our curiosity. With great reason doe philosophers addresse us unto natures rules; but they have nought to doe with so sublime a knowledge; They falsifie them, and present her to us with a painted face, too-high in colour and overmuch sophisticated; whence arise so many different pourtraits of so uniforme a subject. As she hath given us feete to goe withall, so hath she endowed us with wisedome to direct our life. A wisedome not so ingenious, sturdy, and pompous as that of their invention, but yet easie, quiet and salutairie. And that in him who hath the hap to know how to employ it orderly and sincerely, effecteth very well what the other saith, that is to say, naturally. For a man to commit himselfe most simply unto nature is to doe it most wisely. Oh how soft, how gentle, and how sound a pillow is ignorance and incuriosity to rest a well composed head upon. I had rather understand my selfe well in my selfe then in Cicero. Out of the experience I have of my selfe I finde sufficient ground to make my selfe wise were I but a good proficient scholler. Whosoever shall commit to memory the excesse or inconvenience of his rage or anger past, and how farre that fit transported him, may see the deformity of that passion better then in Arisiotle, and conceive a more just hatred against it. Whosoever calleth to minde the dangers he hath escaped, those which have threatned him, and the light occasions that have remooved him from one to another state, doth thereby the better prepare himselfe to future alterations and knowledge of his condition. Cæsar's life hath no more examples for us then our owne; Both imperiall and popular, it is ever a life that all humane accidents regard. Let us but give care unto it, we recorde all that to us that we principally stand in neede of. He that shall call to minde how often and how severall times he hath beene deceived and mis-accompted his owne judgement, is he not a simple gull if he doe not for ever afterward distrust the same? When by others reason I finde my selfe convicted of a false opinion, I learne not so much what new thing hee hath told me; and this particular ignorance, which were but a small purchase, as in generall I learne mine owne imbecility and weakenesse, and the treason of my understanding, whence I draw the reformation of all the masse. The like I doe in all my other errours, by which rule I apprehend and feele great profit for and unto my life. I regarde not the species or individuum as a stone whereon I have stumbled; I learne every where to feare my going, and endevour to order the same. To learne that another hath eyther spoken a foolish jest or committed a sottish act is a thing of nothing. A man must learne that he is but a foole: A much more ample and important instruction. The false steps my memory hath so often put upon me at what time she stood most upon her selfe, have not idlely beene lost: she may sweare and warrant me long enough, I shake mine eares at her: the first opposition made in witnesse of her makes me suspect. And I durst not trust her in a matter of consequence, nor warrant her touching others affaires. And were it not that what I doe for want of memory, others more often doe the same for lacke of faith, I would even in a matter of fact rather take the truth from anothers mouth then from mine own. Would every man pry into the effects and circumstances of the passions that sway him as I have done of that whereunto I was allotted, he should see them comming, and would somewhat hinder their course and abate their impetuosity; They doe not alwayes surprise and take hold of us at the first brunt there are certaine forethreatnings and degrees as forerunners.Fluctus uti primo coepit cum albescere ponto,Judgement holds in me a presidentiall seate, at least he carefully endevours to hold it; He suffers my appetits to keep their course, both hatred and love, yea and that I beare unto my selfe, without feeling alteration or corruption. If he can not reforme other parts according to himselfe, at least he will not be deformed by them; he keepes his court apart. That warning-lesson given to all men, to know themselves, must necessarily be of important effect, since that God of wisedome, knowledge, and light, caused the same to be fixed on the fron tispiece of his temple, as containing whatsoever he was to counsell us. Plato saith also that wisedome is nothing but the execution of that ordinance; And Socrates doth distinctly verifle the same in Zenophon. Difficulties and obscurity are not perceived in every science, but by such as have entrance into them: For some degree of intelligence is required to be able to marke that one is ignorant, and wee must knocke at a gate to know whether it bee shutte. Whence ensueth this Platonicall subtilty, that neyther those which know have no further to enquire, forsomuch as they know already; nor they that know not, because to enquire it is necessary they know what they enquire after. Even so in this for a man to know himselfe, that every man is seene so resolute and satisfied and thinks himselfe sufficiently instructed or skilfull doth plainely signifie that no man understands any thing, as Socrates teacheth Euthydemus. My selfe, who professe nothing else, finde therein so bottomlesse a depth and infinite variety, that my apprentisage hath no other fruit than to make me perceive how much more there remaineth forme to learne. To mine owne weaknesse so often acknowledged I owe this inclination which I beare unto modesty, to the obedience of beliefes prescribed unto me, to a constant coldnesse and moderation of opinions, and hatred of this importunate and quarrellous arrogancy, wholly beleeving, and trusting it selfe, a capitall enemy to discipline and verity. Doe but heare them sway and talke. The first fopperies they propose are in the stile, that Religions and Lawes are composeth in. Nihil est turpius quam cognitioni et præceptioni, assertionem approbationemque præcurrere: (Cic. Acad. Qu. i. f.) 'Nothing is more absurd than that avouching and allowance should runne before knowledge and præcept.'Aristarchus saide that in ancient times there were scarse seven wise men found in the world, and in his time hardly seven ignorant. Have not we more reason to say it in our dayes than he had? Affirmation and selfe-conceit are manifest signes of foolishnesse. Some one, who a hundred times a day hath had the canvase and beene made a starke coxcombe, shall notwithstanding be seene to stand upon his Ergoes, and as presumptuously-resolute as before. You would say he hath since some now minde and vigor of understanding infused into him. And that it betides him as to that ancient childe of the Earth, who by his falling to the ground and touching his Mother still gathered new strength and fresh courage.
Paulatim sese tollit mare, et altius undas
Erigit, inde imo consurgit ad æthera fundo.
As when at sea, floods first in whitenesse rise,
Sea surgeth softly, and then higher plies
In waves, then from the ground mounts up to skies.------ cui cum tetigere parentem,Doth not this indocile, blocke-headed asse thinke to reassume a new spirit by undertaking a new disputation? It is by my experience I accuse humane ignorance, which (in mine opinion) is the surest part of the Worlds schoole. Those that will not conclude it in themselves by so vaine an example as mine or theirs, let them acknowledge it by Socrates, the Maister of Maisters. For the Philosopher Antisthenes was wont to say to his Disciples, 'Come on, my Maisters, let you and me goe to heare Socrates; There shall I be a fellow Disciple with you.' And upholding this Doctrine of the Stoickes Sect, that only vertue sufficed to make a life absolutely-happy, and having no need of any thing but of Socrates his force and resolution, he added moreover: This long attention I employ in considering my selfe enableth me also to judge indifferently of others; And there are few things whereof I speake more happily and excusably. It often fortuneth me to see and distinguish more exactly the conditions of my friends than themselves do. I have astonied some by the pertinency of mine owne description, and have warned him of himselfe. Because I have from mine infancy enured my selfe to view mine owne life in others lives; I have thereby acquired a studious complexion therein. And when I thinke on it, I suffer few things to escape about me that may in any sort fit the same, whether countenances, humour, or discourses. I studiously consider all I am to eschew and all I ought to follow. So by my friends productions I discover their inward inclinations. Not to marshall or range this infinit variety of so divers and so distracted actions to certaine Genders or Chapters, and distinctly to distribute my parcels and divisions into formes and knowne regions.
Jam defecta vigent renovato robore membra. -- Antæus.
Whose failing limmes with strength renew'd regrow,
When they once touch his mother Earth below.Sed neque quam multæ species, et nomina quæ sint,The wiser sort speake and declare their fantasies more specially and distinctly: But I who have no further insight then I get from common use, without rule or methode generally present mine owne but gropingly. As in this, I pronounce my sentence by articles, loose and disjoynted; it is a thing cannot be spoken at once and at full. Relation and conformity are not easily found in such base and common minds as ours. Wisedome is a solide and compleate frame, every severall piece whereof keepeth his due place and beareth his marke. Sola sapientia in se tota conversa est: 'Onely wisedome is wholy turned into it selfe.' I leave it to Artists, and I wot not whether in a matter so confused, so severall and so casuall, they shall come to an end, to range into sides this infinit diversity of visages; and settle our inconstancy and place it in order. I doe not onely find it difficult to combine our actions one unto another; but take every one apart, it is hard by any principall quality to desseigne the same properly, so double, so ambiguous and party-coloured, are they to divers lusters. Which in Perseus the Macedonian King was noted for a rare matter, that his spirit fastning it selfe to no kinde of condition; went wandring through every kinde of life, and representing so newfangled and gadding maners, that he was neyther knowne of himselfe nor of others what kinde of man he was, me thinkes may well- nigh agree and sute with all the world. And above all, I have seene some other of his coate or humour, to whom (as I suppose) this conclusion might also more properly be applied. No state of mediocrity being ever transported from one extreame to another, by indivinable occasions, no maner of course without crosse and strange contrarieties; no faculty simple, so that the likeliest a man may one day conclude of him, shall be that he affected and laboured to make himselfe knowne by being not to bee knowne. A man had neede of long-tough eares to hear himselfe freely judged. And because there be few that can endure to heare it without tingling, those which adventure to undertake it with us, shew a singular effect of true friendship. For that is a truely perfect love which, to profit and doe good, feareth not to hurt or offend. I deeme it absurd to censure him in whom bad qualities exceede good conditions. Plato requireth three parts in him that will examine anothers minde: Learning, goodwill, and boldnesse. I was once demanded what I would have thought my selfe fit-for, had any beene disposed to make use of me, when my yeares would have fitted service:
Est numerus. -- Virg. Georg. i. 103.
But not how many kinds, nor what their names:
There is a number of them (and their frames).Dum melior vires sanguis dabat, æmula nec dumI answered, for nothing. And I willingly excuse my selfe that I can doe nothing which may enthrall me to others. But had my fortune made me a servant, I would have told my maister all truths ; and, had he so willd it, controled his maners: Not in grosse, by scholasticall lessons, which I cannot doe: besides, I see no true reformation to ensue in such as know them but faire and softly, and with every opportunity observing them, and simply and naturally judging them distinctly by the eye. Making him to perceive how and in what degree he is in the common opinion; opposing himselfe against his flatterers and sycophants. There is none of us but would be worse then Kings if, as they are, we were continually corrupted with that rascally kinde of people. But what? if Alexander, that mighty King and great Philosopher, could not beware of them? I should have had sufficient fidelity, judgement and liberty for that. It would be a namelesse office, otherwise it should lose both effect and grace; And is a part which cannot indifferently belong to all. For truth it selfe hath not the priviledge to be employed at all times and in every kinde; Be her use never so noble, it hath his circumscriptions and limits. It often commeth to passe, the world standing as it doth, that truth is whispered into Princes eares, not onely without fruit, but hurtfully and therewithall unjustly. And no man shall make me beleeve but that an hallowed admonition may bee viciously applied and abusively employed; and that the interest of the substance should not sometimes yeeld to the interest of the forme. For such a purpose and mystery I would have an unrepining man and one contented with his owne fortune,
Temporibus geminis canebat sparsa senectus. -- Virg. Æn. v. 415.
While better blood gave strength, nor envious old yeares
Ore-laid with wrinckled temples grew to hoary haires.Quod sit, esse velit, nihilque malit: == Mart. x. Epig. xlvii.12.and borne of meane degree; Forsomuch as on the one side hee should not have cause to feare, lively and neerely to touch his maisters heart, thereby not to lose the cause of his preferment; And on the other side, being of a low condition, he should have more easie communication with all sorts of people. Which I would have in one man alone; for, to empart the priviledge of such liberty and familiarity unto many would beget an hurtfull irreverence. Yea, and of that man I would above all things require trusty and assured silence. A King is not to bee credited when for his glory he boasteth of his constancy in attending his enemies encounter, if for his good amendment and profit hee cannot endure the liberty of his friends words, which have no other working power then to pinch his learning; the rest of their effect remaining in his owne hands. Now, there is not any condition of men that hath more neede of true, sincerely-free and open hearted advertisements then Princes. They undergoe a publike life, and must applaude the opinion of so many spectators, that if they be once enured to have that concealed from them which diverteth them from their course, they at unawares and insensibly finde themselves deepely engaged in the hatred and detestation of their subjects, many times for occasions, which had they beene forewarned, and in time gently reformed, they might no doubt have eschewed to no interest or prejudice of their private delights. Favorits doe commonly respect themselves more then their masters. And surely it toucheth their free-hold, forsomuch as in good truth the greatest part of true friendships-offices are towards their soveraigne in a crabbed and dangerous Essay. So that there is not onely required much affection and liberty, but also an undanted courage. To conclude, all this galiemafry which I huddle-up here is but a register of my lives-Essayes, which in regard of the internall health are sufficiently exemplary to take the instruction against the haire. But concerning bodily health, no man is able to bring more profitable experience then my selfe, who present the same pure, sincere, and in no sort corrupted or altred, either by art or selfe-will'd opinion. Experience in her owne precinct may justly be compared to Physicke, unto which reason giveth place. Tiberius was wont to say that whosoever had lived twenty yeares should be able to answer himselfe of all such things as were either wholesome or hurtfull for him, and know how to live and order his body without Phisicke. Which he peradventure had learned of Socrates, who industriously advising his disciples (as a study of chiefe consequence) to study their health, told them, moreover, that it was very hard if a man of understanding, heedfully observing his exercises, his eating and drinking, should not better than any Phisition discerne and distinguish such things as were either good or bad or indifferent for him. Yet doth Physicke make open profession alwayes to have experience for the touchstone of her operation. And Plato had reason to say that to be a good Pbysitian it were requisite that he who should undertake that profession had past through all such diseases as hee will adventure to cure, and knowne or felt all the accidents and circumstances he is to judge of. It is reason themselves should first have the pox if they will know how to cure them in others. I should surely trust such a one better then any else. Others but guide us, as one who, sitting in his chaire paints seas, rockes, shelves and havens upon a board, and makes the modell of a tall ship to saile in all safety; But put him to it in earnest, he knowes not what to doe nor where to begin. They make even such a description of our infirmities as doth a towne-crier, who crieth a lost horse, or dog, and describeth his haire, his stature, his eares, with other markes and tokens; but bring either unto him, he knowes him not. Oh God, that physicke would one day affoord me some good and perceptible helpe, how earnestly would I exclaime:
Willing to be as him you see,
Or rather nothing else to be:Tandem efficaci do manus scientiæ,The Arts that promise to keepe our body and minde in good health promise much unto us, but therewith there is none performeth lesse what they promise. And in our dayes such as make profession of these Arts amongst us doe lesse then all others shew their effects. The most may be said of them is that they sell medicinable drugs; but that they are Physitians, no man can truly say it. I have lived long enough to yeeld an account of the usage that hath brought mee to this day. If any bee disposed to taste of it, as his taster I have given him an assay. Loe here some articles, digested as memory shall store me with them. I have no fashion, but hath varied according to accidents; I onely register those I have most beene acquainted with, and hitherto possesse me most. My forme of life is ever alike, both in sicknesse and in health: one same bed, the same houres, the same meate, the same drinke doth serve me. I adde nothing to them but the moderation of more or lesse, according to my strength or appetite. My health is to keepe my accustomed state free from care and trouble. I see that sicknesse doth on the one side in some sort divert me from it, and if I beleeve Physitians, they on the other side will turne me from it; So that both by fortune and by art I am cleane out of my right bias. I beleeve nothing more certainly then this, that I cannot be offended by the use of things which I have so long accustomed. It is in the hands of custome to give our life what forme it pleaseth, in that it can do all in all. It is drinke of Circes diversifieth our nature as she thinkes good. How many nations neere bordering upon us imagine the feare of the sereine or night-calme to be but a jest, which so apparently doth blast and hurt us? and whereof our Mariners, our watermen and our countrey men make but a laughing-stocke? You make a Germane sicke if you lay him upon a matteras, as you distemper an Italian upon a fetherbed, and a Frenchman to lay him in a bed without curtaines, or lodge him in a chamber without a fire. A Spaniard can not well brooke to feede after our fashion, nor we endure to drinke as the Swizzers. A Germane pleased me well at Augusta to raile against the commodity of our chimnies, using the same reasons or arguments that wee ordinarily imploy in condemning their stoves. For, to say truth, the same close-smoothered heate and the smell of that oft-heated matter whereof they are composed, fumeth in the heads of such as are not accustomed unto them; not so with me. But on the other side, that heate being equally dispersed, constant and universall, without flame or blazing, without smoake, and without that wind which the tonnels of our chimnies bring us, may many wayes be compared unto ours. Why doe we not imitate the Romanes architecture? It is reported that in ancient times they made no fire in their houses, but without and at the foote of them; Whence by tonnels, which were convaide through their thickest wals, and contrived neere and about all such places as they would have warmed; so that the heat was convaied into every part of the house. Which I have seene manifestly described in some place of Seneca, though I can not well remember where. This Germane, hearing me commend the beauties and commodities of this City (which truely deserveth great commendation), beganne to pity mee, because I was shortly to goe from it. And the first inconvenience he urged me withall was the heavinesse in the head which Chimnies in other places would cause me. He had heard some other body complaine of it, and therefore alleadged the same against me, being wont by custome to perceive it in such as came to him. All heat comming from fire doth weaken and dull me; Yet said Evenus, that fire was the best sauce of life. I rather allow and embrace any other manner or way to escape cold. Wee feare our Wines when they are low; whereas in Portugall the fum e of it is counted delicious, and is the drinke of Princes. To conclude, each severall Nation hath divers customes, fashions and usages, which to some others are not onely onknowne and strange, but savage, barbarous, and wondrous. What shall we doe unto that people that admit no witnesse except printed; that will not believe men if not printed in Bookes, nor credit truth unlesse it be of competent age? We dignifie our fopperies when we put them to the presse. It is another manner of weight for him to say, I have seene it, then if you say I have heard it reported. But I, who misbelieve no more the mouth than the hand of men, and know that men write as indiscreetly as they speake unadvisedly, and esteeme of this present age as of another past, alleadge as willingly a friend of mine as Aulus Gellius or Macrobius, and what my selfe have seene as that they have written. And as they accompt vertue to be nothing greater by being longer, so deeme I truth to be nothing wiser by being more aged. I often say it is meere folly that makes us runne after strange and scholasticall examples. The fertility of them is now equall unto that of Homer and Platoes times. But is it not that we rather seeke the Honour of allegations than the truth of discourses? As if it were more to borrow our proofes from out the shop of Vascosan or Plantin, then from that we dayly see in our village. Or verily that wee have not the wit to blanch, sift out, or make that to prevaile which passeth before us, and forcibly judge of it to draw the same into example. For if we say that authority failes us to adde credit unto our testimony, we speake from the purpose. Forsomuch as in my conceit, could we but finde out their true light, Natures greatest miracles and the most wonderfull examples, namely, upon the subject of humane actions, may be drawne and formed from most ordinary, most common and most knowne things. Now concerning my subject, omiting the examples I know by bookes, And that which Aristotle speaketh of Andron of Argos, that he would travell all over the scorching sands of Lybia without drinking: A Gentleman, who hath worthily acquitted himselfe of many honourable charges, reported where I was, that in the parching heate of Summer hee had travelled from Madrid to Lisbone without ever drinking. His age respected, he is in very good and healthy plight, and hath nothing extraordinary in the course or custome of his life saving (as himselfe hath told me) that he can very well continue two or three moneths, yea a whole yeere, without any manner of beverage. He sometimes finds himselfe thirsty, but lets it passe, and holds that it is an appetit which will easily and of it selfe languish away; and if he drinke at any time it is more for a caprice or humor than for any need or pleasure. Loe here one of another key. It is not long since that I found, one of the wisest men of France (among those of so meane fortune) studying hard in the corner of a great Hall, which for that purpose was hung about with tapistry, and round about him a disordered rable of his servants, groomes and lackeis, pratling, playing and hoyting; who told me (as Seneca in a manner saith of himselfe) that he learn'd and profited much by that burly-burly or tintimare, as if beaten with that confused noyse he did so much the better recall and close himselfe into himselfe for serious contemplation; and that the said tempestuous rumours did strike and repercusse his thoughts inward. Whilst he was a scholler in Padua his study was ever placed so neere the jangling of bels, the ratling of coaches, and rumbling tumults of the market place, that for the service of his study he was faine not onely to frame and enure himselfe to contemne, but to make good use of that turbulent noise. Socrates answered Alcibiades, who wondered how he could endure the continuall tittle-tattle and uncessant scoulding of his Wife, even as those who are accustomed to heare the ordinary creaking of the squeaking wheeles of wells. My selfe am cleane contrary, for I have a tender braine, and easie to take snuffe in the nose or to be transported. If my minde be busie alone, the least stirring, yea, the buzzing of a flie doth trouble and distemper the same. Seneca in his youth, having earnestly undertaken to follow the example of Sextius, to feed on nothing that were taken dead, could with pleasure (as himselfe averreth) live so a whole yeere. And left it onely because he would not be suspected to borrow this rule from some new religions that instituted the same. He therewithall followed some precepts of Attalus, not to lie upon any kinde of carpets or bedding that would yeeld under one; and untill he grew very aged he never used but such as were very hard and unyeelding to the body. What the custome of his dayes makes him accompt rudenesse, ours makes us esteeme wantonnesse. Behold the difference betweene my varlets life and mine. The Indians have nothing further from my forme and strength. Well I wot that I have heretofore taken boyes from begging, and that went roaguing up and down to serve me, hoping to doe some good upon them, who have within a little while after left me, my fare and my livery, onely that they might without controule or checke follow their former idle loytring life. One of which I found not long since gathering of muskles in a common sincke for his dinner, whom (doe what I could) I was never able, neyther with entreaty to reclaime, nor by threatning to withdraw from the sweetnesse he found in want, and delight he felt in roaguing lazinesse. Even vagabondine roagues, as well as rich men, have their magnificences and voluptuousnesse, and (as some say) their dignities, preheminences and politike orders. They are effects of custome and use; and what is bred in the bone will never out of the flesh. Both which have power to enure and fashion us, not onely to what forme they please (therefore, say the wise, ought we to be addressed to the best, and it will immediately seeme easie unto us), but also to change and variation. Which is the noblest and most profitable of their apprentisages? The best of my corporall complexions is that I am flexible and little opiniative. I have certaine inclinations, more proper and ordinary, and more pleasing than others. But with small adoe and without compulsion, I can easily leave them and embrace the contrary. A yong man should trouble his rules to stirre-up his vigor, and take heed he suffer not the same to grow faint, sluggish, or teasty; For there is no course of life so weake and sottish as that which is mannaged by Order, Methode, and Discipline.
I yeeld, I yeeld at length,
To knowledge of chiefe strength.Ad primum lapidem vectari cum placet, horaIf he beleeve me be shall often give himselfe unto all manner of excesse; otherwise the least disorder wil utterly overthrow him, and so make him unfit and unwelcome in all conversations. The most contrary quality in an honest man is nice-delicatenesse, and to bee tied to one certaine particular fashion. It is particular, if it be not supple and pliable. It is a kinde of reproch, through impuissance, not to doe or not to dare what one seeth his other companions doe or dare. Let such men keepe their kitchin. It is undecent in all other men, but vitious and intolerable in one professing Armes, who (as Philopoemen said) should fashion himselfe to all manner of inequality and diversity of life. I have (as much as might bee) beene inured to liberty and fashioned to indifferency, yet in growing aged I have through carelesnesse relied more upon certaine formes (my age is now exempted from institution, and hath not any thing else to looke unto but to maintaine it selfe) which custome hath already, without thinking on it, certaine things so wel imprinted her character in me, that I deeme it a kind of excesse to leave them. And without long practise I can neither sleepe by day, nor eate betweene meales, nor break my fast, nor goe to bed without some entermission (as of three houres after supper), nor get children but before I fall asleepe, and that never standing, nor beare mine owne sweate, nor quench my thirst either with cleere water or wine alone, nor continue long bare-headed, nor have mine hair cut after dinner. And I could as hardly spare my gloves as my shirt, or forbeare washing of my hands both in the mornng and rising from the table, or lye in a bed without a testerne and curtaines about it, as of most necessary things. I could dine without a tablecloth, but hardly without a cleane napkin, as Germans commonly doe. I foule and sully them more then either they or the Italians, and I seldome use eyther spoone or forke. I am sory we follow not a custome which, according to the example of Kings, I have seene begunne by some, that upon every course or change of dish, as we have shift of cleane trenchers, so we might have change of cleane napkins. We read that that laborious souldier Marius, growing olde, grew more nicely delicate in his drinking, and would taste no drincke except in a peculiar cuppe of his. As for me, I observe a kinde of like methode in glasses, and of one certaine forme, and drinke not willingly in a common-glasse, no more than of one ordinary hand. I mislike all manner of metall in regard of a bright transparent matter: let mine eyes also have taste of what I drinke according to their capacity. I am beholding to custome for many such nicenesses and singularities. Nature hath also on the other side bestowed this upon me, that I can not wel brooke two full meales in one day without surcharging my [stomacke]; nor the meere abstinence of one without filling my selfe with winde, drying my mouth, and dulling my appetite; And I doe finde great offence by a long sereine or night-calme. For some yeeres since, in the out-roades or night-services that happen in times of warres, which many times continue all night, five or sixe houres after my stomacke beginnes to qualme, my head feeleth a violent aking, so that I can hardly hold-out till morning without vomiting. When others goe to breakefast, I goe to sleepe, and within a while after I shall be as fresh and jolly as before. I ever thought that the serein never fell but in the shutting in of night, but having in these latter yeeres long time frequented very familiarly the conversation with a Gentleman possessed with this opinion, that it is more sharpe and dangerous about the declination of the Sunne, an houre or two before it set, which he carefully escheweth and despiseth that which falls at night, he hath gone about to perswade and imprint into me, not only his discourse, but also his conceit. What if the very doubt and inquisition woundeth our imagination and chanceth us? Such as altogether yeelde to these bendings draw the whole ruine upon themselves. And I bewaile divers Gentlemen, who being young and in perfect health, have by the ignorant foolishnes of their Physitians brought themselves into consumptions and other lingering diseases, and, as it were, in Physicks fetters. Were it not much better to be troubled with a rheume, than for ever through discustome, in an action of so great use and consequence, lose the commerce and conversation of common life? Oh, yrkesome learning! Oh, Science full of molestation, that wasteth us the sweetest houres of the day! Let us extend our possession unto the utmost meanes. A man shall at last, in opinionating himselfe, harden and enure himselfe for it, and so correct his complexion, as did Cæsars the falling sicknesse, with contemning and corrupting the same. A man should apply himselfe to the best rules, but not subject himselfe unto them: except to such (if any there be) that duty and thraldome unto them be profitable. Both Kings and Philosophers obey nature, and goe to the stoole, and so doe Ladies. Publike lives are due unto ceremony; mine, which is obscure and private, enjoyeth all naturall dispensations. To be a Souldier and a Gascoyne are qualities somewhat subject to indiscretion. And I am both. Therefore will I say this much of this action, that it is requisite we should remit the same unto certaine prescribed night-houres, and by custome (as I have done) force and subject our selves unto it; But not (as I have done), growing in yeeres, strictly tie himselfe to the care of a particular convenient place, and of a commodious Ajax or easie close-stoole for that purpose, and make it troublesome with long sitting and nice observation. Neverthelesse, in homeliest matters and fowlest offices, is it not in some sort excusable to require more care and cleanlinesse? Natura homo mundum et elegans animi est: (SEN. Epist. xcii.) 'By nature man is a cleanely and neate creature.' Of all naturall actions, there is none wherein I am more loath to be troubled or interrupted when I am at it. I have seene divers great men and souldiers much troubled and vexed with their bellies untune and disorder, when at untimely houres it calleth upon them; whilst mine and my selfe never misse to call one upon another at our appointment, which is as soone as I get out of my bed, except some urgent business or violent sicknesse trouble me. Therefore, as I saide, I judge no place where sicke men may better seate themselves in security then quietly and wisht to hold themselves in that course of life wherein they have been brought up and habituated. Any change or variation soever astonieth and distempereth. Will any beleeve that Chestnuttes can hurt a Perigordin or a Luquois, or that milke or whit-meates are hurtfull unto a mountaine dwelling people? whom if one seeke to divert from their naturall diet, he shall not onely prescribe them a new but a contrary forme of life: A change which healthy man can hardly endure? Appoint a Bretton of threescore yeeres of age to drinke water; put a sea-man or Mariner into a Stove; forbid a lackey of Baske to walke: you bring them out of their element, you deprive them of all motion, and in the end of aire, of light, and life.
Sumitur ex libro, si prurit frictus ocelli
Angulus, inspecta genesi collyria quanerit. -- Juven. Sat. vi. 477.
List he to ride in coach but to Mile-end,
By th'Almanacke be doth the houre attend:
If his eye-corner itch, the remedy,
He fets from calculation of nativity.------ an vivere tanti est?If they doe no other good, at least they doe this, that betimes they prepare their patients unto death, by little undermining and cutting-off the use of life. Both in health and in sicknesse I have willingly seconded and given my selfe over to those appetites that pressed me. I allow great authority to my desires and propensions. I love not to cure one evill by another mischiefe. I hate those remedies that importune more than sicknesse. To be subject to the cholike, and to be tied to abstaine from the pleasure I have in eating of oysters, are two mischiefes for one. The disease pincheth us the one side, the rule on the other. Since we are ever in danger to misdoe, let us rather hazard our selves to follow pleasure. Most men doe contrary and thinke nothing profitable that is not painefull; Facility is by them suspected. Mine appetite hath in divers things very happily accommodated and ranged it selfe to the health of my stomake. Being yong, acrimony and tartnesse in sawces did greatly delight me, but my stomacke being since glutted therewith, my taste hath likewise seconded the same. Wine hurts the sicke; it is the first thing that with an invincible distaste brings my mouth out of taste. Whatsoever I receive unwillingly or distastefully hurts me, whereas nothing doth it whereon I feed with hunger and rellish. I never received harme by any action that was very pleasing unto me. And yet I have made all medicinall conclusions largely to yeeld to my pleasures. And when I was yong -
Doe we reckon it so deare,
Onely living to be here?
Cogimur a suctis animum suspendere rebus
Atque ut vivamus, vivere desinimus: -- Cor. Gal. El. i. 155.
From things erst us'd we must suspend our minde,
We leave to live that we may live by kinde.
Hos superesse reor quibus et spirabilis ær,
Et lux quia regimur, redditur ipsa gravis.
Doe I thinke they live longer whom doth grieve
Both aire they breathe and light whereby they live.Quem circumcursans huc atque huc sæpe CupidoI have as licentiously and inconsiderately as any other furthred al such desires as possessed me;
Fulgebat crocina splendidus in tunica. -- Catul. El. iv. 131.
About whom Cupid running here and there,
Shinde in the saffron coate which he did weare.Et milita vi non sine gloria. -- Hor. Car. iii. Od. xxvi. 2.More notwithstanding in continuation and holding out, then by snatches or by stealth.
A Souldier of loves hoast,
I was not without boast.Sex me vix mentini sustinuisse vices.It is surely a wonder accompanied with unhappinesse, to confesse how young and weake I was brought under its subjection. Nay, shall I not blush to tell it? It was long before the age of choise or yeeres of discretion; I was so young, as I remember nothing before. And fitly may my fortune bee compared to that of Quartilla, who remembred not her maydenhead.
I scarce remember past
Six courses I could last.Inde tragus celeresque pili, mirandaque matriPhysitians commonly enfold and joyne their rules unto profit, according to the violence of sharpe desires or earnest longings, that incidently follow the sicke; No longing desire can be imagined so strange and vicious, but nature will apply herselfe unto it. And then how easie is it to content ones fantasie? In mine opinion, this part importeth all in all; at least more and beyond all other. The most grievous and ordinary evils are those which fancy chargeth us withall. That Spanish saying doth every way please me: Deffienda me Dios de my: 'God defend me from my selfe.' Being sicke, I am sory I have not some desire may give me the contentment to satiate and cloy the same; Scarsly would a medicine divert me from it. So doe I when I am in health: I hardly see any thing left to be hoped or wished-for. It is pitty a man should bee so weakned and enlanguished that he hath nothing left him but wishing. The art of Physicke is not so resolute, that whatsoever wee doe, we shall be void of all authority to doe it Shee cliangeth and she varieth according to climate; according to the Moones; according to Fernelius, and according to Scala. If your Physitian thinke it not good that you sleepe, that you drinke wine, or eate such and such meates, Care not you for that, I will finde you another that shall not be of his opinion. The diversity of physicall arguments and medicinall opinions embraceth all manner of formes. I saw a miserable sicke man, for the infinite desire he had to recover, ready to burst, yea and to die with thirst; whom not long since another Physitian mocked, utterly condemning the others counsell as hurtfull for him. Had not bee bestowed his labour well? A man of that coate is lately dead of the stone, who during the time of his sicknesse used extreame abstinence to withstand his evill; his fellowes affirme that, contrary, his long fasting had withered and dried him up, and so concocted the gravell in his kidnies. I have found that in my hurts and other sicknesses, earnest talking distempers and hurts me as much as any disorder I commit. My voice costs me deare, and wearieth me; for I have it lowd, shrill and forced, So that, when I have had occasion to entertaine the eares of great men about weighty affaires, I have often troubled them with care how to moderate my voice. This story deserveth to be remembred and to divert me. A certaine man in one of the Greeke schooles spake very lowde, as I doe; the maister of the ceremonies sent him word he should speake lower: let him (quoth he) send me the tune or key in which he would have me speake. The other replied, that he should take his tune from his eares to whom he spake. It was well said, so he understood himselfe: Speake according as you have to doe with your auditory. For if one say, let it suffice that he heareth you, or governe yourselfe by him; I do not thinke he had reason to say so. The tune or motion of the voyce hath some expression or signification of my meaning. It is in me to direct the same, that so I may the better represent my selfe. There is a voyce to instruct, one to flatter, and another to chide. I will not onely have my voyce come to him, but peradventure to wound and pierce him. When I brawle and rate my lackey with a sharpe and piercing tune, were it fit he should come to me and say, 'Master, speake softly, I understand and heare you very well? Est quædam vox ad auditum accommodate non magnitudine sed proprietate: 'There is a kinde of voyce well applied to the hearing, not by the greatnesse of it, but by the proprietie.' The word is halfe his that speaketh and halfe his that harkeneth unto it. the hearer ought to prepare himselfe to the motion or bound it taketh. As betweene those that play at tennis, he who keepes the hazard doth prepare, stand stirre and march, according as he perceives him who stands at the house, to looke, stand, remoove and strike the ball, and according to the stroake. Experience hath also taught me this, that we lose our selves with impatience. Evils have their life, their limits, their diseases and their health. The constitution of diseases is framed by the patterne of the constitution of living creatures. They have their fortune limited even at their birth, and their dayes allotted them. He that shall imperiously goe about, or by compulsion (contrary to their courses) to abridge them, doth lengthen and multiply them; and in stead of appeasing, doth harsell and wring them. I am of Crantors opinion, that a man must neither obstinately nor frantikely oppose himselfe against evils; nor through demissenesse of courage faintingly yeeld unto them, but according to their condition and ours naturally incline to them. A man must give sickenesses their passage. And I finde that they stay least with me, because I allow them their swinge, and let them doe what they list. And contrary to common received rules, I have without ayde or art ridde my selfe of some that are deemed the most obstinately lingring and unremoovably-obstinate. Let nature worke; Let hir have hir will; She knoweth what she hath to doe, and understands hir selfe better then we do. But such a one died of it, wil you say; so shal you doubtlesse; if not of that, yet of some other disease. And how many have wee seene die when they have had a whole Colledge of Pbysitians round about their bed, and looking in their excrements? Example is a bright looking-glasse, universall and for all shapes to looke into. If it be a lushious or taste-pleasing portion, take it hardly; it is ever so much present ease. So it be delicious and sweetly tasting, I will never stand much upon the name or colour of it. Pleasure is one of the chiefest kinds of profit. I have suffered rheumes, gowty defluxions, relaxions, pantings of the heart, megreimes and other such-like accidents, to grow old in me, and die their naturall death; all which have left me when I halfe enured and framed my selfe to foster them. They are better conjured by curtesie then by bragging or threats. We must gently obey and endure the lawes of our condition. We are subject to grow aged, to become weake and to fall sicke, in spight of all physicke. It is the first lesson the Mexicans give their children; When they come out of their mothers wombes, they thus salute them: My childe, thou art come into the world to suffer; Therefore suffer and hold thy peace. It is injustice for one to grieve, that any thing hath befallen to any one, which may happen to all men. Indignare, si quid in te inique proprie constitutum est: Then take it ill, if any thing be decreed uniustl y against thee alone.' Looke on an aged man, who sueth unto God to maintaine him in perfect, full and vigorous health; that is to say, he will be pleased to make him yong againe:
Thence goatishnesse, haires over-soone, a beard
To make my mother wonder and afear'd.Stulte quid hæc frustra votis puerilibus optas? -- Ovid. Trist. iii. El. viii. 11.Is it not folly? His condition will not beare it. The gowt, the stone, the gravell, and indigestion are symptomes or effects of long-continued yeares; as heats, raines and winds, are incident to long voyages. Plato cannot beleeve that Æsculapius troubled himselfe with good rules and diet to provide for the preservation of life, in a weake, wasted, and corrupted body; being unprofitable for his country, inconvenient for his vocation, and unfit to get sound and sturdy Children; and deeme not that care inconvenient unto divine justice and heavenly Wisedome, which is to direct all things unto profit. My good sir, the matter is at an end. You cannot be recovered; for the most, you can be but tampered withall, and somewhat under propt, and for some houres have your misery prolonged.
Foole, why dost thou in vaine desire,
With childish prayers thus t' aspire?Non secus instantem cupiens fulcire ruinaA man must learne to endure that patiently which he cannot avoyde conveniently. Our life is composed, as is the harmony of the World, of contrary things; so of divers tunes, some pleasant, some harsh, some sharpe, some flat, some low, and some high. What would that Musition say that should love but some one of them? He ought to know how to use them severally and how to entermingle them. So should we both of goods and evils which are consubstantiall to our life. Our being cannot subsist without this commixture, whereto one side is no lesse necessary than the other. To goe about to kicke against natural necessity were to represent the folly of Ctesiphon, who undertooke to strike or wince with his mule. I consult but little about the alterations which I feele: For these kinde of men are advantagious when they hold you at their mercy. They glut your eares with their Prognostications, and surprising me heretofore, when by my sicknesse I was brought very low and weake, they have injuriously handled me with their Doctrines, positions, prescriptions, magistrall fopperies, and prosopopeyall gravity; sometimes threatning me with great paine and smart, and other times menacing me with neere and unavoydable death; All which did indeede move, stirre and touch me neere, but could not dismay or remoove me from my place or resolution; If my judgement be thereby neither changed nor troubled, it was at least hindred; It is ever in agitation and combating. Now I entreate my imagination as gently as I can, and were it in my power I would cleane discharge it of all paine and contestation. A man must further, help, flatter, and (if he can) cozen and deceive it. My spirit is fit for that office: There is no want of apparances every where. Did he perswade as he preacheth hee should successefully ayde me. Shall I give you an example? He tells me it is for my good that I am troubled with the gravell: That the compositions of my age must naturally suffe some leake or flaw; It is time they begin to relent and gainesay themselves: It is a common necessity, And it had beene no new wonder for me. Tha t way I pay the reward due unto age, and I could have no better reckoning of it. That such company ought to comfort me, being fallen into the most ordinary accident incident to men of my dayes. I every where see some afflicted with the same kinde of evill, whose society is honourable unto mee, forsomuch as it commonly possesseth the better sort of men, and whose essence hath a certain nobility and dignity connexed unto it; That of men tormented therewith, few are better cheape quit of it, and yet it costs them the paine of a troublesome dyet, tedious regiment, and daily loathsome taking of medicinall drugges and physicall potions; Whereas I meerely owe it to my good fortune; For some ordinary broths made of Eringos or Sea-Holme, and Burstwort, which twice or thrice I have swallowed downe at the request of some Ladies, who, more kindely then my disease is unkind, offred me the moity of theirs, have equally seemed unto me as easie to take as unprofitable in operation. They must pay a thousand vowes unto Æsculapius, and as many crownes to their Physition, for an easie profluvion or aboundant running of gravell, which I often receive by the benefit of nature. Let mee be in any company, the decency of my countenance is thereby nothing troubled, and I can hold my water full tenne houres and if neede be as long as any man that is in perfect health. The feare of this evill, saith he, did heretofore affright thee when yet it was unknowne to thee. The cries and despaire of those who through their impatience exasperate the same, bred a horror of it in thee. It is an evill that comes and fals into those limmes by and with which thou most most offended. Thou art a man of concience:
Diversis contra nititur obicibus,
Donec certa dies, omni compage soluta,
Ipsum cum rebus subruat auxilium. -- Corn. Gal. El. clxxiii.
So he that would an instant ruine stay
With divers props strives it underlay,
Till all the frame dissolv'd a certaine day,
The props with th' edifice doth oversway.Quæ venit indigne poena, dolenda venit. -- Ovid. Epist. v. 8.Consider but how milde the punishment is in respect of others, and how favourable. Consider his slowenesse in comming, hee onely incommodeth that state and encombreth that season of thy life which (all things considered) is now become barren and lost, having as it were by way of composition, given place unto the sensuall licenciousnesse and wanton pleasures of thy youth. The feare and pitty men have of this evill may serve thee as a cause of glory; A quality whereof, if thy judgement be purified and thy discourse perfectly sound, thy friends doe notwithstanding discover some sparkes in thy complexion. It is some pleasure for a man to heare others say of him, Loe there a patterne of true fortitude; loe there a mirroiir of matchlesse patience. Thou art seene to sweate with labour, to grow pale and wanne, to wax red, to quake and tremble, to cast and vomit blood, to endure strange contractions, to brooke convulsions, to trill downe brackish and great teares, to make thicke, muddy, blacke, bloody, and fearefull urine, or to have it stopt by some sharpe or rugged stone, which pricketh and cruelly wrin geth the necke of the yarde, entertaining in the meane while the bystanders with an ordinary and undanted countenance, by pawses jesting and by entermissions dallying with thy servants, keeping a part in a continued discourse, with words now and then excusing thy griefs and abating thy painefull sufferance. Dost thou remember those men of former ages, who, to keep their vertue in breath and exercise, did with such greedinesse seeke after evils? Suppose Nature driveth and brings thee unto that glorious Schoole into which thou hadst never come of thine owne accord and free will. If thou tell me it is a dangerous and mortall evill, what others are not so? For it is a kinde of physicall cousenage to except any, and so they goe directly unto death; what matter it is whether they goe by accident unto it, and easily slide on either hand toward the way that leadeth us thereunto? But thou diest not because thou art sicke; thou diest because thou art living. Death is able to kill thee without the helpe of any sicknesse; Sicknesses have to some prolonged their death, who have lived the longer, inasmuch as they imagined they were still dying; Seeing it is of wounds as of diseases, that some are medicinall and wholesome. The chollike is often no lesse long-lived than you; Many are seene in whom it hath continued even from their infancy unto their extreamest age, who had they, not forsaken her company, she was like to have assisted them further. You oftner kill her than she doth you. And if she did present thee with the image of neer-imminent death, were it not a kinde office for a man of that age to reduce it unto the cogitations of his end? And which is worse, thou hast no longer cause to bee cured; Thus and howsoever common necessity calls for thee against the first day. Consider but how artificially and how mildely she brings thee in distaste with life and out of liking with the world, not forcing thee with a tyrannicall subjection as infinit other diseases doe, wherewith thou seest old men possessed, which continually hold them fettered and ensnared, and without release of weaknesse nor intermission of paines but by advertisements and instructions, reprised by intervalles, entermixiiig certaine pawses of rest, as if it were to give thee meane at thy ease to meditate and repeate her lesson; To give thee leasure and ability to judge soundly, and like a man of a courage to take a resolulution, she presents thee with the state of thy condition perfect, both in good and evill, and in one same day sometimes a most pleasing, sometimes a most intolerable life. If thou embrace not death, at least thou shakest her by the hand once a moneth; Whereby thou least more cause to hope that she will one aay surprise thee without threatning; And that being so often brought into the haven, supposing to be still in thy accustomed state, one morning at unawares, both thy selfe and thy confidence shall be transported over. A man hath no reason to complaine against those diseases which so equally divide time with health. I am beholding to Fortune that she so often assailes mee with one same kinde of weapon: she by long use doth fashion and enure mee unto it, harden and habituate me thereunto: I now know within a little which way and how I shall be quit. For want of naturall memory I frame some of paper, And when some new symptome or accident commeth to my evill I set it downe in writing, whence it proceedeth that having now (in a manner) passed over and through all sorts of examples, if any astonishment threaten me, running and turning over these my loose memorialles (as Sibyllæs leaves) I misse no more to finde to comfort me with some favourable prognostication in my former past experience. Custome doth also serve mee to hope the better hereafter; For the conduct of this distribution having so long beene constituted, it is to be supposed that Nature will not change this course, and no other worse accident shall follow then that I feele. Moreover, the condition of this disease is not ill seeming to my ready and sodaine complexion. When it but faintly assailes mee it makes mee afraid, because it is like to continue long; But naturally it hath certaine vigorous and violent excesses; It doth violently shake me for one or two dayes. My reines have continued a whole age without alteration, an other is now well-nigh come, that they have changed state. Evils as well as goods have their periods; this accident is happily come to his last. Age weakneth the heat of my stomacke, his digestion being thereby lesse perfect hee sendeth this crude matter to my reines. Why may not, at a certaine revolution, the heat of my reines be likewise infeabled, so that they may no longer putrifie my fleagme, and Nature addresse her selfe to finde some other course of purgation? Yeares have evidently made me drie up certaine rheumes, and why not these excrements that minister matter to the stone or gravell. But is there anything so pleasant in respect of this sodaine change when by an extreaine paine I come by the voyding of my stone, to recover, as from a lightning, the faire Sunne-shine of health; so free and full, as it happeneth in our sodaine and most violent cholliks? Is there anything in this paine suffered that may be counter poised to the sweet pleasure of so ready an amendment? By how much more health seemeth fairer unto me after sicknesse, so neere and so contiguous, that I may know them in presence one of another, in their richest ornaments; wherein they attyre themselves avy, as it were confront and counterchecke one another. Even as the Stoickes say, that Vices were profitably brought in, to give esteeme and make head unto vertue; So may we with better reason and bold conjecture affirme that Nature hath lent us griefe and paine, for the honour of pleasure and service of indolency. When Socrates (after he had his yrons or fetters taken from him) felt the pleasure or tickling of that itching which their weight and rubbing had caused in his legges, be rejoyced to consider the neere affinity that was between paine and pleasure; how they combined together by a necessary bond, so that at times they enter-engender and succeed one another; and cry out to good Æsope, that he should from that consideration have taken a proper body unto a quaint fable. The worst I see in other diseases is, that they are not so grievous in their effect as in their issue. A man is a whole yeare to recover himselfe; ever full of weaknesse, alwayes full of feare. There is so much hazard and so many degrees before one can be brought to safety, that hee is never at an end. Before you can leave off your coverchiefe and then your nightcap, before you can brooke the ayre againe or leave leave to drinke Wine, or lye with your Wife or eate melons, it is much if you fall not into some relapse or new misery. The gravell hath this priviledge, that it is cleane carried away; Whereas other maladies leave ever some impression and alteration, which leaveth the body susceptible or undertaking of some new infirmity, and they lend one an other their hands. Such are to be excused, as are contented with the possession they have over us, without extending the same, and without introducing their sequell; But curteous, kind and gracious are those, whose passage brings some profitable consequence. Since I have had the stone-chollike, I finde myselfe discharged of other accidents; more (as me thinks) then I was before, and never had ague since. I argue that the extreame and frequent vomits I endure, purge mee; and on the other side, the distastes and strange abstinences I tolerate, disgest my offending humours; and Nature voydeth in these stones and gravell whatsoever is superfluous and hurtfull in her. Let no man tell me that it is a medicine too deere sold; For, what availe so many loath-some pils, stincking potions, cauterizings, incisions, sweatings, setons, dyets, and so divers fashions of curing, which, because we are not able to undergoe their violence and brooke their importunity, doe often bring us unto our graves? And therefore, when I am surprised, I take it as physicke; and when I am free, I take it as a constant and full deliverance. Lo here an other particular favour of my disease, which is, that he in a manner keepes his play a-part, and lets me keepe mine owne; or else I want but courage to doe it. In his greatest emotion I have held out tenne houres on Horse-backe with him. Doe but endure, you neede no other rule or refgiment. Play, dally, dyne, runne, be gamesome, do this, and if you can doe the other thing, your disorder and debauching will rather availe than hurt it. Say thus much to one that hath the pox, or to one that hath the gowt, or to one that is belly-broken or cod-burst. Other infirmities have more universall bonds, torment farre-otherwise our actions, pervert all our order, and engage all the state of mans life unto their consideration. Whereas this doth only twitch and pinch the skin, it neyther medleth with your understanding, nor with your will, tongue, feete, nor hands, but leaves them all in your disposition; it rather rouzeth and awaketh you, then deterre and drouzy you. The mind is wounded by the burning of a feaver, suppressed by an Epilepsie, confounded by a migrane, and in conclusion astonied and dismayed by all the diseases that touch or wound the whole masse of his body and its noblest parts. This never medleth with it. If therefore it go ill with it, his be the blame she bewrayeth, she forsaketh, and she displaceth her selfe. None but fools will be perswaded that this hard, gretty and massie body, which is concocted and petrified in our kidneis, maybe dissolved by drinks. And therefore after it is stirred there is no way but to give it passage; For if you doe not he will take it himselfe. This other peculiar commodity I observe, that it is an infirmity wherein we have but little to divine. We are dispensed from the trouble whereinto other maladies cast us, by the uncertainty of their causes, conditions, and progresses. A trouble infinitly painfull. We have no need of doctorall consultations or collegian interpretations. Our senses tell us where it is and what it is. By and with such arguments, forcible or weake (as Cicero doth the infirmity of his old-age), I endevour to lull asleepe and study to ammuse my imagination, and supple or annoint her sores. If they grow worse, to morrow, to morrow we shall provide far new remedies or escapes. That this is true, loe afterward againe, haply the lightest motion wrings pure blood out of my reines. And what of that? I omit not to stirre as before, and with a youthfull and insolent heate ride after my hound. And find that I have great reason of so important an accident, which costs me but a deafe heavinesse and dombe alteration in that part. It is some great stone that wasteth and consumeth the substance of my kidneis and my life, which I avoyde by little and little; not without some naturall pleasure, as an excrement now superfluous and trouble-some. And feele I something to shake? Expect not that I ammuse my selfe to feele my pulse, or looke into my urine, thereby to finde or take some tedious prevention. I shall come time enough to feele the smart, without lengthening the same with the paine of feare. Who feareth to suffer, suffereth already, because he feareth.
The paine that comes without desart,
Comes to us with more griefe and smart.
Seeing the doubt and ignorance of those who will and do meddle with expounding the drifts and shifts of nature, with her internall progresse; and so many false prognostications of their arte should make us understand her meanes infinitly unknowne. There is great uncertainty, variety and obscurity in that shee promiseth and menaceth us. Except old-age, which is an undoubted signe of deaths approching, of all other accidents, I see few signes of future things whereon we may ground our divination. I onely judge my selfe by true-feeling sense, and not by discourse. To what end? since I will adde nothing thereunto except attention and patience. Will you know what I gaine by it? Behold those who doe otherwise, and who depend on so many diverse perswasions and counsels, how oft imagination presseth them without the body. I have divers times, being in safety and free from all dangerous accidents, taken pleasure to communicate them into Physitions, as but then comming upon me. I endured the arrest or doome of their horrible conclusions, and remained so much the more bounden unto God for his grace, and better instructed of the vanity of this arte. Nothing ought so much be recommended unto youth as activity and vigilancy. Our life is nothing but motion, I am hardly shaken, and am slow in all things, be it to rise, to goe to bed, or to my meales. Seaven of the clocke in the morning is to me an early houre; And where I may command, I neither dine before eleven, nor sup till after six. I have heretofore imputed the cause of agues or maladies, whereinto I have falne, to the lumpish beavinesse or drowzy dulnesse which my long sleeping had caused me. And ever repented mee to fall asleepe againe in the morning. Plato condemnes more the excesse of sleeping then the surfet of drinking. I love to lie hard and alone, yea and without a woman by me, after the kingly manner; somewhat well and warme covered. I never had my bed warmed, but since I came to be an old man, if need require, I have clothes given me to warme my feete and my stomacke. Great Scipio was taxed to bee a sluggard or heavy sleeper (in my conceit) for no other cause but that men were offended; hee onely should bee the man in whom no fault might justly bee found. If there bee any curiosity in my behaviour or manner of life, it is rather about my going to bed then any thing else; but if neede bee, I generally yeeld and accommodate my selfe unto necessity, as well and as quietly as any other whosoever. Sleeping hath possessed a great part of my life; and as old as I am I can sleepe eight or nine houres together. I doe with profit withdraw myself from this sluggish propension and evidently find my selfe better by it. Indeede, I somewhat feele the stroke of alteration, but in three dayes it is past. And I see few that live with lesse (when need is), and that more constantly exercise themselves, nor whom toyling and labour offend lesse. My body is capable of a firme agitation, so it be not vehement and sodaine. I avoide violent exercises, and which induce mee to sweate; my limbs will sooner be wearied then heated. I can stand a whole day long, and am seldome weary with walking. Since my first age, I ever loved rather to ride then walke upon paved streets. Going a foote, I shall durty my selfe up to my waste; and little men, going alongst our streets, are subject (for want of presentiall apparence) to be justled or elhowed. I love to take my rest, be it sitting or lying-along, with my legs as high or higher then my seate. No profession or occupation is more pleasing then the military; A profession or exercise both noble in execution (for the strongest, most generous and prowdest of all vertues, is true valour) and noble in its cause. No utility, either more just or universall then the protection of the repose or defence of the greatnesse of ones country. The company and dayly conversation of so many noble, young, and active men, cannot but bee well-pleasing to you; the dayly and ordinary sight of so divers tragicall spectacles; the liberty and uncontroled freedome of that artelesse and unaffected conversation, masculine and ceremonilesse maner of life; the hourely variety of a thousand ever changing and differing actions; the courageous and minde stirring harmony of warlike musicke, which at once entertaineth with delight and enflameth with longing, both your eares and your minde; the imminent and matchlesse honour of that exercise; yea the very sharpnesse and difficulty of it, which Plato esteemeth so little, that in his imaginary commonwealth he imparteth the same both to women and to children. As a voluntary Souldier or adventurous Knight you enter the lists, the bands or particular hazards, according as your selfe judge of their successes or importance; and you see when your life may therein be excusably employed.Pulchrumque mori succurrit in armis. -- Virg. Æn. [ii]. 317.Basely to feare common dangers, that concerne so numberlesse a multitude, and not to dare what so many men dare, yea whole nations together, is only incident to base, craven, and milke-sop-hearts. Company and good fellowshipp doth harten and encorage children. If some chance to exceed and outgoe you in knowledge, in experience, in grace, in strength, in fortune, you have third and collaterall causes to blame and take hold-of; but to yeeld to them in constancy of minde and resolution of courage, you have none but your selfe to find fault with. Death is much more abject, languishing, grisly, and paineful in a downe-bed, then in a field-combate; and agues, catarres or apoplexies, as painefull and mortall as an harquebusado. He that should be made undantedly to beare the accidents of common life, should not nee4 to bumbast his courage, to become a man at armes. Vivere, mi Lucilli, militare est: (Sen. Epist. xcvi. f.) 'Friend mine, to live is to goe on warre-fare.' I cannot remember that ever I was scabbed, yet is itching one of natures sweetest gratifications, and as ready at hand. But repentance doth over-importunately attend on it. I exercise the same in mine eares (and by fits) which within doe often itch. I was borne with al my senses sound, almost in perfection. My stomacke is commodiously good, and so is my head; both which, together with my winde, maintaine themselves athwart my agues. I have outlived that age to which some nations have not without some reason prescribed for a just end unto life, that they allowed not a man to exceede the same. I have notwithstanding some remyses or intermissions yet, though unconstant and short, so sound and neate that there is little difference between them and the health and indolency of my youth. I speake not of youthly vigor and chearefull blithnesse; there is no reason they should follow me beyond their limits:
And nobly it doth come in minde,
To die in armes may honor finde.Non hæc amplius est liminis, aut aquæMy visage and eyes doe presently discover me. Thence begin all my changes, and somewhat sharper then t hey are in effect. I often move my friends to pity ere I feele the cause of it. My looking-glasse doth not amaze me, for even in my youth it hath divers times befalne me so to put-on a dusky looke, a wan colour, a troubled behaviour and of ill presage, without any great accident; so that Physitions perceiving no inward cause to answer this outward alteration, ascribed the same to the secret minde or some concealed passion, which inwardly gnawed and consumed me. They were deceived; were my body directly by me, as is my my minde, we should march a little more at our ease. I had it then, not onely exempted from all trouble, but also full of satisfaction and blithenesse, as it is most commonly, partly by its owne complexion, and partly by its owne desseigne:
Coelestis, patiens latus. -- Hor. Car. iii. Od. x. 15.
These sides cannot still sustaine
Lying without doores, showring raine.Nec vitiant artus ægræ contagia mentis. -- Ovid. Trist. iii. El. viii. 25.I am of opinion that this her temperature hath often raised my body from his fallings: he is often suppressed, whereas she, if not lasciviously wanton, at least in quiet and reposed estate. I had a quartan ague which held me foure or five moneths, and had altogether disvisaged and altered my countenance, yet my minde held ever out, not onely peaceably but pleasantly. So I feele no paine or smart; weakenesse and languishing doe not greatly perplex me. I see divers corporall defailances the onely naming of which breede a kind of horror, and which I would feare lesse then a thousand passions and agitations of the mind which I see in use. I resolve to runne no more; it sufficeth me to goe-on faire and softly; nor doe I complaine of their naturall decadence or empairing that possesseth me.
Nor doth sicke mindes infection
Pollute strong joynts complexion.Quis tumidum guttur miratur in Alpibus? -- Juven. Sat. xiii. 162.No more then I grieve that my o ntinuance is not as long and sound as that of an oake. I have no cause to finde fault with my imagination. I have in my life had very few thoughts or cares that have so much as interrupted the course of my sleepe, except of desire to awaken without dismay or afflicting me. I seldome dreame, and when I doe, it is of extravagant things and chymeras, commonly produced of pleasant conceits, rather ridiculous then sorrowfull. And thinke it true that dreames are the true interpreters of our inclinations; but great skill is required to sort and understand them.
Who wonders a swolne throate to see,
In those about the Alpes that be?Res quæ invita usurpant homines, cogitant, curant, vident,Plato saith, moreover, that it is the office of wisedome to draw divining instructions from them against future times. Wherein I see nothing but the wonderfull experience that Socrates, Xenophon, and Aristotle relate of them - men of unreproovable authority. Histories report that the inhabitants of the Atlantique Iles never dreame, who feed on nothing that hath beene slaine. Which I adde, because it is peradventure the occasion they dreame not. Pythagoras ordained therefore a certaine methode of feeding, that dreames might be sorted of some purpose. Mine are tender, and cause no agitation of body or expression of voice in me. I have in my dayes seene many strangely stirred with them. Theon the Philosopher walked in dreaming; and Pericles his boy, went upon the tiles and top of houses. I stand not much on nice choice of meates at the table, and commonly begin with the first and neerest dish, and leape not willingly from one taste to another. Multitude of dishes and variety of services displease me as much as any other throng. I am easily pleased with few messes, and hate the opinion of Favorinus, that at a banquet you must have that dish whereon you feed hungerly taken from you, and ever have a new one set in the place: And that it is a niggardly supper if all the guests be not glutted with pinions and rumps of divers kinds of fowle, and that onely the dainty bird becoafico or snapfig deserveth to bee eaten whole at one morsell. I feede much upon salt cates, and love to have my bread somewhat fresh. And mine owne Baker makes none other for my bord, against the fashion of my country. In my youth my overseers had much a doe to reforme the refusall I made of such meats as youth doth commonly love best; as sweet meates, confets and marchpanes. My Tutor was wont to find great fault with my lothing of such dainties, as a kinde of squeamish delicacy. And to say truth, it is nothing but a difficulty of taste, where it once is applyed. Whosoever remooveth from a child a certaine particular or obstinate affection to browne bread, to bakon, or to garlike, taketh friandize from him. There are some that make it a labour and thinke it a patience to regret a good piece of pawdred beefe, or a good gemmon of bakon, amongst partridges. Are not they wise men in the meane time? It is the chiefe dainty of all dainties; It is the taste of nice effeminate fortune that wil be distasted with ordinary and usual things. Per quæ luxuria divitiarum tædio ludit: 'Whereby the lavishnesse of plenty playes with tedious pleasure.' To for-beare to make good cheare, because another doth it, for one to have care of his feeding, is the essence of that vice.
Quæque agunt vigilantes, agitantque ea sicut in somno accidunt
Minus mirandum est.
It is no wonder if the things which we
Care-for, use, thinke, doe-oft, or waking see,
Unto us sleeping represented be.Si modica cænere times olus omne patella. -- Hor. i. Ep. v. 2.Indeede there is this difference, that it is better for one to tye his desires unto things easiest to be gotten, yet is it a vice to tie himselfe to any strictnesse. I was heretofore wont to name a kinsman of mine over-delicate, because whilest hee lived in our Gallies, he had unlearn't and left to lie upon a bedde and to strippe himselfe to goe to bedde. Had I any male children I should willingly wish them my fortune. That good Father it pleased God to allot me (who hath nothing of mee but thankefulnesse for his goodnesse, which indeed is as great as great may be) even from my cradle sent mee to be brought-up in a poore village of his, where he kept me so long as I suckt, and somewhat longer, breeding me after the meanest and simplest-common fashion. Magna pars libertatis est moratus venter: (Sen. Epist. cxxiii.) 'A mannerly belly is a great part of a mans liberty.' Never take unto your selfe, and much lesse never give your wives the charge of your childrens breeding or education. Let fortune frame them under the popular and naturall lawes; Let custome enure them to frugality and breed them to hardnesse: That they may rather descend from sharpenesse than ascend unto it. His conceipt aymed also at another end, To acquaint and ready me with that people and condition of men that have most need of us; And thought I was rather bound to respect those which extend their armes unto me than such as turne their backe toward me. And that was the reason he chose no other gossips to hold me at the font than men of abject and base fortune, that so I might the more be bound and tied unto them. His purpose hath not altogether succeded ill. I willingly give and accost my selfe unto the meaner sort, whether it be because there is more glory gotten by them, or through some naturall compassion, which in me is infinitely powerfull. The faction which I condemne in our civill warres I shall more sharpely condemne when it prospers and flourisheth. I shall in some sort be reconciled unto it when I see it miserably-depressed and overwhelmed. Oh how willingly doe I remember that worthy humour of Chelonis, daughter and wife to King of Sparta. Whilest Cleombrotus, her husband, in the tumultuous disorders of his City, had the upper-hand of Leonidas her father, she played the part of a good daughter, allying her selfe with her father in his exile and in his misery, mainely opposing hir selfe against the Conquerour. Did fortune turne? So changed she hir minde, courageously taking hir hushand's part: Whom she never forsooke, whither-soever his ruine or distresse carryed him. Having (in my seeming) no other choise than to follow that side where she might doe most good, where she was most wanted, and where she might shew her selfe most truely pittifull. I doe more naturally encline toward the example of Flamineus, who more and rather yeelded to such as had need of him than to those who might doe him good, than I bend unto that of Pyrrhus, who was ever wont demissely to stoope and yeeld to the mighty and insolently to grow proud over the weake. Long sitting at meales doth much weary and distemper me, for be it for want of better countenance and entertainment, or that I used my selfe unto it when I was a child, I feede as long as I sitte at the table. And therefore, being in mine owne house, though my board be but short and that wee use not to sit long, I doe not commonly sit downe with the first, but a pretty while after others: According to the forme of Augustus, yet I imitate him not in his rising before others. Contrary, I love to sit a great while after, and to heare some discourse or table-talke. Alwayes provided I beare not a part my selfe, for if my belly bee full I shall soone be weary and hurt my selfe with talking, and I finde the exercise of lowde-speaking and contesting before meate very pleasant and wholesome. The ancient Grecians and Romanes had better reason than wee, allotting unto feeding, which is a principall action of mans life (if any other extraordinary businesse did not let or divert them from it), divers houres, and the best part of the night, eating and drinking more leisurely than we doe, who passe and runne-over all our actions in posthaste, and extending this naturall pleasure unto more leisure and use, entermixing therewith divers profitable and mind-pleasing offices of civill conversation. Such as have care of me may easily steale from me what soever they imagine may be hurtfull for me, inasmuch as about my feeding I never desire or find fault wit h that I see not. That Proverb is verified in me: what eye seeth not, the heart rueth not. But if a dish or any thing else be once set before me, they lose their labour that goe about to tell me of abstinence; so that when I am disposed to fast I must be sequestred from eaters, and have no more set before me than may serve for a stinted and regular collation; for if I but sit downe at a set table I forget my resolution. If I chance to bidde my cooke change the dressing of some kinde of meate or dish, all my men know I inferre my appetit is wallowish and my stomache out of order, and I shall hardly touch it. I love all manner of flesh or fowle but greene rosted and raw sodden, namely, such as may beare it without danger, and love to have them thoroughly mortified, and in divers of them the very alteration of their smell. Onely hardnesse or toughnesse of meate doth generally molest me, (of all other qualities I am as carelesse and can as well brooke them as any man that ever I knew,) so that (contrary to received opinion) even amongst fishes I shall finde some both too new and over-hard and firme. It is not the fault or want of teeth, which I ever had as perfectly-sound and compleate as any other man, and which but now, being so olde, beginne to threaten me. I have from my infancy learn'd to rubbe them with my napkin, both in the morning when I rise and sitting down and rising from the table. God doth them a grace from which by little and little he doth substract from them their life. It is the only benefit of old age. Their last death shall be so much the lesse full, languishing and painefull, it shal then kill but one halfe or a quarter of a man. Even now I lost one of my teeth, which of it selfe fell out without strugling or paine: it was the naturall terme of its continuance. That part of my being with divers others, are already dead and mortified in mee, others of the most active, halfe dead, and which during the vigor of my age held the first ranke. Thus I sinke and scape from my selfe. What foolishnes will it be in my understanding to feele the start of that fall, already so advanced, as it were perfectly whole? I hope it not; verely I receive a speciall comfort in thinking on my death, and that it will be of the most just and naturall, and cannot now require or hope other favor of destiny concerning that then unlawfull. Men perswade themselves that, as heretofore they have had a higher stature, so their lives were longer; But they are deceived, for Solon, of those ancient times, though be were of an exceeding high stature, his life continued but seventy yeeres. Shal I, that have so much and so universally adored that αριοτου μετρον, a meane is best, of former times, and have ever taken a meane measure for the most perfect, therefore pretend a most prodigious and unmeasureable life? whatsoever commeth contrary to Natures course may be combersome, but what comes according to her should ever please. Omnia quæ secundum naturam fiunt, sunt habenda in bonis: 'All things are to be accompted good that are done according to nature.' And therefore, (saith Plato), is that death violent which is caused either by wounds or sicknesses; but that of all others the easiest and in some sort delitious which surprizeth us by meanes of age. Vitam adolescentibus vis aufert, senibus maturitas: 'A forcible violence takes their life from the young, but a ri pe maturity from the old.' Death entermedleth and every where confounds it self with our life; declination doth preoccupate her houre and insinuate it selfe in the very course of our advancement. I have pictures of mine owne that were drawne when I was five and twenty, and others being thirty yeeres of age, which I often compare with such as were made by me as I am now at this instant. How many times doe I say I am no more my selfe; how much is my present image further from those then from that of my decease? It is an over-great abuse unto nature to dragge and hurry her so farre that she must be forced to give us over, and abandon our conduct, our eyes, our teeth, our legges and the rest, to the mercy of a forraine help and begged assistance; and to put our selves into the hands of art, weary to follow it. I am not over-much or greedily desirous of sallets or of fruits, except melons. My father hated all manner of sawces; I love them all. Over-much eating doth hurt and distemper me, but for the quality I have yet no certaine knowledge that any meate offends me; I never observe either a full or waned Moone, nor make a difference betweene the Spring time or Autumne. There are certaine inconstant and unknowne motions in us. For (by way of example) I have heretofore found redish-rootes to be very good for mee, then very hurtfull, and now againe very well agreeing with my stomacke. In divers other things I feele my appetit to change , and my stomacke to diversifie from time to time. I have altred my course of drinking, sometimes from white to claret wine, and then from claret to white againe.
If in a sorry dish to sup
You brooke not all th' hearbe pottage up.
I am very friand and gluttonous of fish, and keepe my shroving dayes upon fish dayes, and my feasts upon fasting-dayes. I believe as some others doe, that fish is of lighter digestion than flesh. As I make it a conscience to eate flesh upon a fish day, so doth my taste to eate fish and flesh together. Tbe diversity betweene them seemes to mee over-distant. Even from my youth I was wont now and then to steale some repast, either that I might sharpen my stomake against the next day; (for as Epicurus was wont to fast, and made but sparing meales, thereby to accustome his voluptuousnesse to neglect plenty; I, contrary to him, to enure my sensuality to speede the better, and more merrily to make use of plenty) or else I fasted, the better to maintaine my vigor for the service or performance of some bodily or mental action; for both are strangely dulled and ideled in me, through over-much fulnesse and repleatnesse. (And above all I hate that foolish combination of so sound and bucksome a Goddesse with that indigested and belching God, all puffed with the fume of his liquor) or to recover my crazed stomake, or because I wanted some good company. And I say as Epicurus said, that A man should not so much respect what he eateth as with whom he eateth. And commend Chilon, that he would not promise to come to Perianders feast before he knew certainely who were the other bidden guests. No viands are so sweetly pleasing, no sauce so tastefull, as that which is drawne from conversable and mutuall society. I thinke it wholesome to eate more leisurely, and lesse in quality, and to feede oftner; But I will have appetit and hunger to be endeared. I should finde no pleasure, after a phisicall maner, to swallow three or foure forced and spare meales a day. Who can assure me, if I have a good taste or stomacke in the morning, that I shall have it againe at supper? Let us old men, let us, I say, take the first convenient time that commeth; Let us leave hopes and prognostikes unto Almanacke-makers. The extreame fruit of my health is pleasure; Let us hold fast on the present, and to us knowne. I eschew constancy in these Lawes of fasting. Who so will have a forme to serve him, let him avoyd continuance of it; but we harden our selves unto it and thereunto wholly apply our forces: sixe moneths after, you shall finde your stomacke so enured unto it, that you shall have gotten nothing but this, to have lost the liberty to use it otherwise without domage. I use to goe with my legges and thighs no more covered in Sommer than in Winter, for I never weare but one paire of single silke stockins. For the easing of my rhume and helpe of my chollike, I have of late used to keepe my head and belly warme. My infirmities did in few dayes habituate themselves thereunto, and disdained my ordinary provisions: From a single night-cappe I came to a double coverchef, and from a bonnet to a lined and quilted hat. The bumbasting of my doublet serves me now for no more use than a stomacher; it is a thing of nothing, unlesse I adde a hare or a vulture's skin to it, and some warme wrapping about my head. Follow this gradation, and you shall goe a faire pace. I will doe no such thing. If I durst I could find in my hart to revoke the beginning I have given unto it. Fall you into any ne w inconvenience? This reformation will no longer availe you. You are so accustomed unto it that you are driven to seeke some new one. So are they overthrowne that suffer themselves with forced formalities or strict rules to be intangled, and do superstitiously constraine themselves unto them: they have need of more, and of more after that: they never come to an end. It is much more commodious both for our businesse and for our pleasure (as did our forefathers) to lose our dinner, and deferre making of good cheere onto the houre of withdrawing and of rest, without interrupting the day: So was I wont to doe heretofore. I have for my health found out since by experience, that on the contrary it is better to dine, and that one shall digest better being awake. Whether I be in health or in sicknesse, I am not much subject to be thirsty; indeede my mouth is somewhat dry, but without thirst. And commonly I use not to drinke, but when with eating I am forced to desire it, and that is when I have eaten well. For a man of an ordinary stature I drinke indifferent much. In Sommer, and at a hungry meale, I not onely exceede the limits of Augustus, who drunke but precisely three times; but, not to offend the rule of Democritus, who forbade us to stay at foure as an unlucky number, if need be, I come to five: Three demisextiers, or thereabouts. I like little glasses best; and I love to empty my glasse, which some others dislike, as a thing unseemely. Sometimes and that very often, I temper my wine one halfe and many times three parts with water. And when I am in mine owne house, from an antient custome which my fathers Physitian ordained both for him and himselfe, looke what quantity of Wine is thought will serve mee a meale, the same is commonly tempered two or three houres before it be served in, and so kept in the celler. It is reported that Cranaus, King of the Athenians, was the first that invented the mingling of Wine with Water. Whether it were profitable or no, I will not now dispute or stand upon. I thinke it more decent and more wholesome that children should drinke no Wine untill they be past the age of sixteene or eighteene yeares. The most usuall and common forme of life is the best: Each particularity doth in mine opinion impugne it. And I should as much detest a Germane that should put Water in his Wine, as a French-man that should drinke it pure. Publike custome giveth Law unto such things. I feare a foggy and thicke ayre, and shunne smoke more than death (the first thing I began to repaire when I came to be maister of mine owne house, was the chimnies and privies, which in most of our buildings is a generall and intollerable fault); and [among] mischiefes and difficulties attending on Warre, there is none I hate more than in hot-sweltring wether to ride up and downe all the day long in smoky dust, as many times our Souldiers are faine to doe. I have a free and easie respiration, and doe most commonly passe over my murres and colds without offence to my lungs, or without coughing. The soultry heate of sommer is more offensive to me than the sharpnesse of Winter; for, Besides the incommodity of heat, which is lesse to bee remedied than the inconvenience of cold, and besides the force of the Sunnes beames, which strike into the head, mine eyes are much offended with any kinde of glittring or sparkling light, so that I cannot well sit at dinner over against a cleare-burning fire. To allay or dim the whiteness of paper, when I was most given to reading, I was wont to lay a piece of greene glasse upon my booke, and was thereby much eased. Hitherto I never used spectacles, nor know not what they meane; and can yet see as farre as ever I could, and as any other man; true it is, that when night comes, I begin to perceive a dimnes and weakenesse in reading, the continuall exercise whereof, and specially by night, was ever somewhat troublesome unto mine eyes. Loe here a steppe-backe, and that very sensible. I shall recoyle [one] more from a second to a third, and from a third to a fourth, so gently, that before I feele the declination and age of my sight I must be starke blinde. So artificially doe the Fates untwist our lives-threede. Yet am I in doubt that my hearing is about to become thicke, and you shall see that I shall have lost it halfe when yet I shall finde fault with their voyces that speake unto me. The minde must be strained to a high pitch to make it perceive how it declineth. My going is yet very nimble, quicke, and stout; and I wot not which of the two I can more hardly stay at one instant, eyther my minde or my body. I must like that preacher well that can tie mine attention to a whole sermon. In places of ceremonies, where every man doth so nicely stand upon countenance, where I have seene Ladies hold their eyes so steady, I could never so hold out, but some part of mine would ever be gadding; although I be sitting there, I am not well settled. As Chrysippus the Phylosophers chambermaide saide of hir Master, that he was never drunke but in his legges; for whersoever he sate, he was ever accustomed to be wagging with them; and this she saide at what time store of Wine had made his companions cuppe-shotten, and yet he felt no alteration, but continued sober in minde; It might likewise have beene said of me, that even from mine infancy I had either folly or quickesilver in my feete, so much stirring and naturall inconstancy have I in them where ever I place them. It is unmannerlinesse and prejudiciall unto health, yea and to pleasure also, to feede grosely and greedily as I doe. I shall sometimes through haste bite my tongue and fingers ends. Diogenes meeting with a childe that did eate so, gave his tutor a whirret on the eare. There were men in Rome that as others teach youth to go with a good grace, so they taught men to chew with decency. I doe sometimes lose the leisure to speake, which is so pleasing an entertainment at the table, provided they be discourses short, witty, and pleasant. There is a kind of jelousie and envy betweene our pleasures, and they often shocke and hinder one another. Alcibiades, a man very exquisitely-skilfull in making good cheere, inhibited all manner of musicke at tables, because it should not hinder the delight of discourses, for the reason which Plato affords him, that it is a custome of popular or base men to call for minstrels or singers at feasts, and an argument they want witty or good discourses and pleasing entertainment, wherewith men of conceipt and understanding know how to enterfeast and entertaine themselves. Varro requireth this at a banket, an assembly of persons, faire, goodly, and handsome of presence, affable and delightfull in conversation, (which must not be dumbe nor dull, sullaine nor slovenly), cleanlinesse and neatnesse in meates, and faire wether. A good minde-pleasing table-entertainement is not a little voluptuous feast, nor a meanly artificiall banquet. Neither great or sterne commanders in Warres, nor famous or strict Philosophers, have disdained the use or knowledge of it. My imagination hath bequeathed three of them to the keeping of my memory onely, which fortune did at severall times yeeld exceedingly delightsome unto me. My present state doth now exclude me from them. For every one, according to the good temper of body or mind wherein he finds himselfe, addeth either principall grace or taste unto them. My selfe, who but grovell on the ground, hate that kinde of human Wisedome which would make us disdainefull and enemies of the bodies reformation. I deeme it an equall injustice either to take naturall sensualities against the hart, or to take them too neere the hart. Xerxes was a ninny-hammer, who, enwrapped and given to all humane voluptuousnesse, proposed rewards for those that should devise such as he had never heard of. And hee is not much behind him in sottishnesse that goes about to abridge those which nature hath devised for him. One should neither follow nor avoyd them, but receive them. I receive them somewhat more amply and graciously, and rather am contented to follow naturall inclination. We need not exaggerate their inanity, it will sufficiently be felt and doth sufficiently produce itselfe. Godamercy our weake, crazed, and joy-diminishing spirit, which makes us distaste both them and himselfe. Hee treateth both himselfe and whatsoever hee receiveth, sometimes forward and other times backeward, according as himselfe is either insaciate, vagabond, new fangled, or variable.Sincerum est nisi vas, quodcanque infundis acescit. --- Hor. i. Epist. ii. 54.My selfe, who brag so curiously to embrace and particularly to allow the commodities of life, whensoever I looke precisely into it, I finde nothing therein but winde. But what? we are nothing but winde. And the very winde also, more wisely then we loveth to bluster and to be in agitation: And is pleased with his owne offices, without desiring stability or solidity, qualities that be not his owne. The meere pleasures of imagination, as well as displeasure (say some) are the greatest, as the ballance of Critolaus did expresse. It is no wonder she composeth them at her pleasure, and cuts them out of the whole cloath. I see dayly some notable presidents of it, and peradventure to be desired. But I, that am of a commixt condition, homely and plaine, cannot so thoroughly bite on that onely and so simple object, but shall grosely and carelesly give myself over to the present delights of the generall and humane law, intellectually sensible and sensibly-intellectuall. The Cyrenaique Philosophers are of the opinion that as griefes, so corporall pleasures are more powerfull, and as double, so more just. There are some (as Aristotle saith) who, with a savage kinde of stupidity, will seeme distastefull or squemish of them. Some others I know that doe it out of ambition. Why renounce they not also breathing? why live they not of their own, and refuse light, because it commeth of gratuity and costs them neither invention nor vigor? That Mars, or Pallas, or Mercurie should nourish them to see, instead of Ceres, Venus, or Bacchus? Will they not seeke for the quadrature of the circle even upon their wives? I hate that we should be commanded to have our minds in the clouds whilst our bodies are sitting at the table; yet would I not have the minde to be fastned thereunto, nor wallow upon it, nor lie along thereon, but apply it selfe and sit at it. Aristippus defended but the body, as if wee had no soule; Zeno embraced but the soule, as if we had no body. Both viciously. Pythagoras (say they) hath followed a Philosophie all in contemplation; Socrates altogether in manners and in action; Plato hath found a mediocrity between both. But they say so by way of discourse. For the true temperature is found in Socrates, and Plato is more Socratical then Pythagorical, and it becomes him best. When I dance, I dance; and when I sleepe, I sleepe. And when I am solitarie walking in a faire orchard, if my thoughts have a while entertained themselve with strange occurrences, I doe another while bring them to walke with mee in the orchard, and to be partakers of the pleasure of that solitarinesse and of my selfe. Nature hath like a kinde mother observed this, that such actions as shee for our necessities hath enjoyned unto us should also be voluptuous unto us. And doth not onely by reason but also by appetite envite us unto them; it were injustice to corrupt her rules. When I behold Cæsar and Alexander in the thickest of their wondrous great labours so absolutely to enjoy humane and corporall pleasures, I say not that they release thereby their minde, but rather strengthen the same, submitting by vigor of courage their violent occupation and laborious thoughts to the customary use of ordinary life. Wise had they beene had they beleeved that that was their ordinary vocation and this their extraordinary. What egregious fools are we? Hee hath passed his life in idleness, say we; alas! I have done nothing this day. What, have you not lived? It is not only the fundamentall, but the noblest of your occupation. Had I beene placed or thought fit for the managing of great affaires, I would have shewed what I could have performed. Have you knowen how to meditate and mannage your life? you have accomplished the greatest worke of all. For a man to shew and exploit himselfe nature hath no neede of fortune; she equally shewes herselfe upon all grounds, in all sutes, before and behinde, as it were without curteines, welt, or gard. Have you knowne how to compose your manners? you have done more than he who hath composed bookes. Have you knowne how to take rest? you have done more than be who hath taken Empires and Citties. The glorious masterpiece of man is to live to the repulse. All other things - as to raigne, to governe, to board up treasure, to thrive, and to build - are for the most part but appendixes and supports therunto. It is to thee a great pleasure to see a Generall of an armie at the foote of a breach, which ere long intendeth to charge or enter, all whole, undistracted, and carelesly to prepare, himselfe, while he sits at dinner with his friends about him, to talke of any matter. And I am delighted to see Brutus, having both heaven and earth conspired against him and the liberty of Rome, by stealth to take some houres of the night from his other cares, and walking of the round, in al security to reade, to note, and to abbreviate Polibius. It is for base and petty minds, dulled and overwhelmed with the weight of affaires, to be ignorant how to leave them, and not to know how to free themselves from them, nor how to leave and take them againe.
In no sweete vessell all you poure,
In such a vessell soone will sowre.O fortes pejoraque passi,Whether it be in jest or earnest that the Sorbonicall or theologicall wine and their feasts or gaudy dayes are now come to bee proverbially jested at, I think there is some reason that by how much more profitably and seriously they have bestowed the morning in the exercise of their schooles, so much more commodiously and pleasantly should they dine at noone. A cleare conscience to have well employed and industriously spent the other houres is a perfect seasoning and savoury condiment of tables. So have wise men lived. And that inimitable contention unto vertue which so amazeth us in both Catoes, their so strictly-severe humor, even unto importunity, hath thus mildly submitted my selfe, and taken pleasure in the lawes of humane condition and in Venus and Bacchus. According to their Sects precepts, which require a perfectly wise man to be fully expert and skillfull in the true use of sensualities, as in other duties or devoires belonging to life. Cui cor sapiat ei et sapiat palatus: (Cic. Fin. ii.) 'Let his palate be savoury whose heart is savoury.' Easie-yeelding and facility doth, in my conceit, greatly honour and is best befitting a magnanimous and noble minde. Epaminondas thought it no scorne to thrust himselfe amongst the boyes of his citie and dance with them, yea, and to sing and play, and with attention busie himselfe, were it in things that might derogate from the honor and reputation of his glorious victories, and from the perfect reformation of manners that was in him. And amongst so infinite admirable actions of Scipio the grand father, a man worthy to be esteemed of heavenly race, nothing addeth so much grace unto him as to see him carelesly to dallie and childishly to trifle in gathering and chusing of cockle-shels, and play at cost castle along the seashoare with his friend Lælius; and if it were fowle weather, amusing and solacing himselfe to represent in writing and comedies the most popular and base actions of men. And having his heade continually busied with that wonderfull enterprise against Hanibal and Affricke, yet hee still visited the schooles in Cicily, and frequented the lectures of Philosopby, arming his enemies teeth at Rome with envy and spight. Nor any thing more remarkeable in Socrates, then when, being old and crazed, hee would spare so much time as to be instructed in the art of dancing and playing upon instruments, and thought the time well bestowed. Who, notwithstanding, hath been seen to continue a whole day and night in an extasie or trance, yea ever standing on his feet in presence of all the Greeke armie, as it were surprised and ravished by some deep and minde-distracting thought. He hath been noted to be the first amaongst so infinite valiant men in the army headlong to rush out to helpe and bring-off Alcibiades, engaged and enthronged by his enemies, to cover him with his body, and by maine force of armes and courage bring him off from the rout; And in the Deliane battell to save and disingage Xenophon, who was beaten from his horse. And in the midst of all the Athenian people wounded, as it were, with so unworthy a spectacle, headlong present himselfe to the first man to recover Theramenes from out the hands of the officers and satelites of the thirty tyrants of Athens, who were leading him to his death, and never desisted from his hold attempt until hee met with Theramenes himselfe, though hee were followed and assisted with two more. He hath beene seene (provoked thereunto by a matchlesse beauty, wherewith he was richly endowed by nature) at any time of neede to maintaine severe continency. Hee hath continually beene noted to march to the warres on foote, to breake the ice with his bare feete, to weare one same garment in summer and winter, to exceed all his companions in patience of any labour or travell, to eate no more or otherwise at any banquet then at his ordinary. He hath beene seene seven and twenty yeares together, with one same undismaid countenance, patiently to beare and endure hunger, poverty, the indocility and stubbornerse of his children, the frowardnes and scratchings of his wife; and in the end malicious detraction, tyranny, enprysonment, shakels, and poyson. But was that man envited to drinke to him by duty of civility? he was also the man of the army to whom the advantage thereof remained? And yet be refused not, nor dis-dained to play for nuts with children, nor to run with them upon a hobby-horse, wherein he had a very good grace; For all actions (saith Philosophy) doe equally beseeme well and honour a wise man. Wee have good ground and reason, and should never be weary to present the image of this incomparable man unto al patternes and formes of perfections. There are very few examples of life absolutely full and pure. And our instruction is greatly wronged in that it hath certaine weak, defective, and unperfect formes proposed unto it, scarcely good for any good use, which divert and draw us backe, and may rather be termed corrupters then correcters. Man is easily deceived. One may more easily goe by the sides, where extremity serveth as bound, as a stay and as a guide, then by the midway, which is open and wide, and more according unto art then according unto nature, but therewithall lesse nobly and with lesse commendation. The greatnesse of the minde is not so much to drawe up and hale forward, as to know how to range, direct, and circumscribe it selfe. It holdeth for great whatsover is sufficient. And sheweth her height in loving meane things better then eminent. There is nothing so goodly, so faire, and so lawfull, as to play the man well and duely; Nor Science so hard and difficult as to know how to live this life well. And of all the infirmities we have the most savage is to despise our being. Whoso will sequester or distract his minde, let him hardily doe it, if he can, at what time his body is not well at ease, thereby to discharge it from that contagion. And elsewhere contrary, that shee may assist and favour him, and not refuse to be partaker of his naturall pleasures, and continually be pleased with them; adding thereunto, if shee be the wiser, moderation, lest through indiscretion they might be confounded with [dis]pleasure. Intemperance is the plague of sensuality, and temperance is not her scourge, but rather her seasoning.Eudoxus, who thereon established his chiefe felicity, and his companions that raised the same to so high a pitch by meanes of temperance, which in them was very singular and exemplar, savoured the same in her most gracious sweetnesse. I enjoyne my mind, with a looke equally regular, to behold both sorrow and voluptuousnesse; Eodem enim vitio est effugio animi in lætitia, quo in dolore contractio: (Cic. Tusc. Qu. iv.) 'As faulty is the enlarging of the minde in mirth, as the contracting it in griefe'; and equally constant: But the one merrily and the other sever ely; And according to that shee may bring unto it, to be as carefull to extinguish the one, as diligent to quench the other. To have a perfect insight into a good, drawes with it an absolute insight into evil. And sorrow hath in her tender beginnning something that is unavoydable, and voluptuousnesse in her excessive end something that is evitable. Plato coupleth them together, and would have it to bee the equall office of fortitude to combat against sorrowes, and fight against the immoderate and charming blandishments of sensuality. They are two fountaines at which whoso draweth, whence, when, and as much as he needeth, be it a city, be it a man, bee it a beast, he is very happy. The first must be taken for physicke and necessity, and more sparingly; The second for thirst, but not unto drunkennesse. Paine, voluptuousnesse, love and hate, are the first passions a childe feeleth; if reason approach, and they apply themselves unto it, that is vertue. I have a Dictionary severally and wholly to my selfe. I passe the time when it is foule and incommodious; when it is faire and good I will not passe it. I runne it over againe, and take hold of it. A man should runne the badde, and settle himselfe in the good. This vulgar phrase of passe time and to passe the time, represents the custome of those wise men who thinke to have no better account of their life then to passe it over and escape it; to passe it over and bawke it, and so much as in them lyeth to ignore and avoyd it, as a thing of an yrkesome, tedious, and to bee disdained quality. But I know it to bee otherwise, and finde it to be both priseable and commodious, yea in her last declination, where I hold it. And Nature hath put the same into our hands, furnished with such and so favourable circumstances that if it presse and molest us, or if unprofitably it escape us, we must blame our selves. Stulti vita ingrata est, trepida est, tota in futurum fertur: (Sen. Epist. xv.) 'A fooles life is all pleasant, all fearefull, all fond of the future.' I therefore prepare and compose my selfe to forgoe and lose it without grudging; but a thing that is loseable and transitory by its owne condition, not as troublesome and importunate. Nor beseemes it a man to bee grieved when he dieth,except they be such as please themselves to live still. There is a kinde of husbandry in knowing how to enjoy it. I enioy it double to others. For the measure in jovissance dependeth more or lesse on the application we lend it. Especially at this instant, that I perceive mine to be short in time, I wil extend it in weight; I wil stay the readines of her flight by the promptitude of my holdfast by it, and by the vigor of custome recompense the haste of her fleeting. According as the possession of life is more short, I must endeavour to make it more profound and full. Other men feele the sweetnesse and contentment and prosperity. I feele it as well as they, but it is not in passing and gliding; yet should it be studied, tasted and ruminated, thereby to yeeld it condigne thanks, that it pleased to grant the same unto us. They enjoy other pleasures, as that of sleep without knowing them. To the end that sleepe should not dully and unfeelingly escape me, and that I might better taste and be acquainted with it, I have heretofore found it good to bee troubled and interrupted in the same. I have a kinde of contentment to consult with my selfe, which consultation I doe [not] superficially runne over, but considerately sound the same, and apply my reason to entertaine and receive it, which is now become froward, peevish and distasted. Doe I finde my selfe in some quiet moode? is there any sensuality that tickles me? I doe not suffer the same to busie it selfe or dally about sences, but associate my mind unto it. Not to engage or plunge it selfe therein, but therein to take delight; not to lose, but therein to finde it selfe. And for her part I employ her to view herselfe in that prosperous state, to ponder and esteeme the good fortune she hath, and to amplifle the same. She measureth how much she is beholding unto God, for that she is at rest with her conscience, and free from other [in]testine passions, and hath in her body her natural disposition; orderly and competently enjoying certaine flattering and effeminate functions, with which it pleaseth him of his grace to recompence the griefes wherewith his justice at his pleasure smiteth us. Oh, how availfull is it unto her to be so seated, that [wher]ever she casteth her eyes, the heavens are calme round about her, and no desire, no feare, or doubt, troubleth the ayre before her; here is no difficulty, either past, or present, or to come, over which her imagination passeth no[t] without offence. This consideration takes a great lustre from the comparison of different conditions. Thus doe I in a thousand shapes propose unto my selfe those to whom either fortune or their owne errour doth transport and torment. And these nearer, who so slackly-and incuriously receive their good fortune. They are men which indeed passe their time; they overpasse the present and that which they possesse, thereby to serve their hopes with shadowes and vaine images, which fancy sets before them,
Mecum sæpe viri, nunc vino pellite curas,
Cras ingens iterabimus æquor. -- Hor. Car. i. Od. vii. 30.
Valiant compeeres, who oft have worse endured
With me, let now with wine your cares be cured:
To morrow we againe
Will launch into the maine.Morte oblita quales fama est volitare figuraswhich hasten and prolong their flight according as they are followed. The fruit and scope of their pursuit is to pursue. As Alexander said, 'The end of his Travell was to travell.'
Aut quæ sopitos deludunt somnia sensus. -- Virg. Æn. x. 641.
Such walking shapes we say, when men are dead,
Dreames, whereby sleeping senses are misse-led.Nil actum credens cum quid superesset agendum. -- Lucan. ii. 656.As for me, then, I love my [life] and cherish it, such as it hath pleased God to graunt it us. I desire not hee should speake of the necessity of eating and drinking. And I would thinke to offend no lesse excusably, in desiring it should have it double. Sapiens divitiarum naturalium quæsitor acerrimus: (Sen. Epist. cxix.) 'A wise man is a most eager and earnest searcher of those things that are naturall.' Not that we should sustaine our selves by only putting a little of that drugge into our mouth wherewith Epimenedes was wont to alay hunger, and yet maintained himselfe. Nor that wee should insensibly produce children at our fingers endes or at our heeles, but rather (speaking with reverence) that wee might with pleasure and voluptuousnesse produce them both at our heeles and fingers endes. Nor that the body should be voyde of desire and without tickling delight. They are ungratefull and impious complaints. I cheerefully and thankefully, and with a good heart, accept what nature hath created for me, and am there with well pleased and am proud of it. Great wrong is offered unto that great and all-puissant Giver, to refuse his gift, which is so absolutely good; and disanull or disfigure the same, since hee made perfectly good. Omnia quæ secundum naturam sunt, estimatione digna sunt: (Cic. Fin. Bon. iii.) 'All things that are according to nature, are worthy to bee esteemed.' Of Philosophies opinions I more willingly embrace those which are the most solide, and that is to say such as are most humane and most ours. My discourses are sutable to my manner - slow and humble. She then brings forth a childe well pleasing me, when she betakes herselfe to her Quiddities and Ergoes, that it is a barbarous aliance to marry what is divine with that which is terrestrial; wedde reasonable with unreasonable; combine severe with indulgent, and couple honest with unhonest; that voluptuousness is a brutall quality, unworthy the taste of a wiseman. The onely pleasure he drawes from the enjoying of a faire young bride is the delight of his conscience, by performing an action according unto order, As to put on his bootes for a profitable riding. Oh that his followers had no more right, or sinewes, or pith, or juyce, at the dismaydening of their wives than they have in his Lesson. It is not that which Socrates, both his and our Master, saith. Hee valueth rightly as hee ought corporall voluptuousnesse; but he preferreth that of the minde, as having more force, more constancy, facility, variety and dignity. This according to him goeth nothing alone, he [is] not so phantasticall, but onely first. For him temperance is a moderatrix, and not an adversary of sensualities. Nature is a gentle guide, yet not more gentle then prudent and just. Intrandum est in rerum naturam, et penitus quid ea postulet, pervidendum: (Ibid. v.) 'Wee must enter into the nature of things, and throughly see what shee inwardly requiers.' I quest after her track; we have confounded her with artificiall traces. And that Academicall and Peripateticall summum bonum or soveraigne felicity, which is to live according to her rules by this reason becommeth difficult to be limited, and hard to bee expounded. And that of the Stoicks, cousin germane to the other, which is to yeeld unto nature. Is it not an errour to esteeme some actions lesse worthy forsomuch as they are necessary? Yet shall they never remove out of my head that it is not a most convenient marriage to wedde Pleasure unto Necessity. With which (saith an antient Writer) the Gods doe ever complot and consent. To what end doe wee by a divorce dismember a frame contented with so mutuall, coherent and brotherly correspondency. Contrariwise, let us repaire and renue the same by enterchangeable offices, that the spirit may awake and quicken the dul heavinesse of the body, and the body stay the lightnesse of the spirit, and settle and fixe the same. Qui velut summum bonum, laudat animæ naturam, et tanquam malum, naturam carnis accusat, profecto et animam carnaliter appetit, et carnem incarnaliter fugit; quoniam id vanitate sentit humana, non veritate divina: (Aug. Verb. Apostol. ser. xiii. c. 6.) 'He that praiseth the nature of the soule as his principall good, and accuseth nature of the flesh as evill, assuredly he both carnally affecteth the soule and carnally escheweth the flesh, since he is of this mind not by divine verity, but humane vanity.' There is no part or parcel unworthy of our care in that present which God hath bestowed upon us. We are accoumptable even for the least haire of it. And it is no commission for fashions sake for any man to direct man according to his condition it is expresse, naturall, and principall: And the Creator hath seriously and severely given the same unto us. Onely authority is of force with men of common reach and understanding, and is of more weight in a strange language. But here let us charge againe. Stultitiæ proprium quis non dixerit, ignave et contumaciter facere quæ facienda sunt; et alio corpus impellere, alio animum, distrahique inter diversissimos motus? 'Who will not call it a property of folly to doe sloathfully and fro-wardly what is to be done, and one way to drive the body and an other way the minde, and himselfe to bee distracted into most divers motions?' Which the better to see let such a man one day tell you the ammusements and imaginations which he puts into his owne head, and for which he diverteth his thoughts for a good repast, and bewaileth the houre he imployeth in feeding himselfe; you shall finde there is nothing so wallowish in all the messes of your table as is that goodly entertainement of the minde (It were often better for us to bee sound a sleepe, than awake unto that we doe), and you shall find that his discourses and intentions are not worth your meanest dish. Suppose they were the entrancings of Archimedes himself, and what of that? I here touch not nor doe I blend with that rabble or raskality of men, as wee are, nor with that vanity of desires and cogitations which divert us, onely those venerable mindes which through a fervency of devotion and earnestnesse of religion, elevated to a constant and consciencious meditation of heavenly-devine things, and which, by the violence of a lively and vertue of a vehement hope, preoccupating the use of eternall soule-saving nourishment; the finall end, only stay and last scope of Christian desires; the onely constant delight and incorruptible pleasure; disdaine to rely on our necessitous, fleeting, and ambiguous commodities; and easily resigne the care and use of sensuall and temporall feeding unto the body. It is a priviledged study. Super-celestiall opinions and under-terrestriall manners are things that amongst us I have ever seene to bee of singular accord. Æsope, that famous man, saw his Master pisse as he was walking; What (said hee) must we not, etc., when we are running? Let us husband time as well as wee can. Yet shall we employ much of it both idely and ill. As if our minde had not other houres enough to doe hir businesse without disassociating hir selfe from the body in that little space which shee needeth for her necessity. They will be exempted from them and escape man. It is meere folly; insteade of transforming themselves into Angels, they trans-change themselves into beastes; in lieu of advancing, they abase themselves. Such transcending humours affright me as much as steepy, high, and inaccessible places. And I finde nothing so hard to be disgested in Socrates his life as his extasies and communication with Dæmones. Nothing so humane in Plato as that which they say hee is called divine. And of our sciences those which are raised and extolled for the highest seeme to me the most basest and terrestriall. I finde nothing so humble and mortall in Alexanders life as his concepts about his immortalization. Philotas by his answer quipped at him very pleasantly and wittily. Hee had by a letter congratulated with him, and rejoyced that the Oracle of Jupiter Hammon had placed him amongst the Gods; to whom he answered, that in respect and consideration of him he was very glad; but yet there was some cause those men should be pittyed that were to live with a man and obay him who out-went others, and would not bee contented with the state and condition of mortall man.
Who thought that nought was done
When ought remain'd undone.-----Diis te minorem quod geris, imperas. -- Hor. Car. iii. Od. vi.The quaint inscription wherewith the Athenians honored the comming of Pompey into their Citty agreeth well and is conformable to my meaning.
Since thou lesse then the Gods
Bear'st thee, thou rul'st with ods.D'autant es tu Dieu commeIt is an absolute perfection, and as it were divine for a man to know how to enjoy his being loyally. We seeke for other conditions because we understand not the use of ours, and goe out of our selves forsomuch as we know not what abiding there is. Wee may long enough get upon stilts, for be wee upon them, yet must we goe with our owne legges. And sit we upon the highest throne of the World, yet sit we upon our owne taile. The best and most commendable lives and best pleasing men are (in my conceit) those which with order are fitted, and with decorum are ranged to the common mould and humane model, but without wonder or extravagancy. Now hath old age need to be handled more tenderly. Let us recommend it unto that God who is the protector of Health and fountaine of all wisedome, but blithe and sociall:
Tu te recognois homme. -- Plut. vit. Pomp.
So farre a God thou maiest accompted be
As thou a man doest reacknowledge thee.Frui paratis et valido mihi
Latoe dones; et precor integra
Cum mente, nec turpem senectam
Degere, nec cithara carentem. -- Hor. Car. i. Od. xxxi. 17.
Apollo graunt enjoy the health I may
That I have got, and with sound minde, I pray;
Nor that I may with shame spend my old yeares,
Nor wanting musicke to delight mine eares.
THE END OF THE THIRD AND LAST BOOKE