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suspicatur bonum, qui ipse malus est. As the good man is not inclined to think evil of another, so the bad man is not disposed to think well of him. — Nero would not believe but all men were lascivious. By suspecting that to be which we see not, we intimate to the world either what our own lives have been, or what our dispositions are. Jealousy is the worst kind of madness. We seek for that which we would not find; or, if we do, what is it we get but matter of vexation? which we come so basely by, that we are ashamed to own it. So we are forced to keep it boiling in our breasts like new wine to the hazard of the hogshead, for want of venting. Jealousy is a gin which we set to catch serpents, and which, as soon as we have caught them, they sting us. Are we not mad, who being at peace, must needs go in search of discontentments ? So far should we be from seeking them, that, generally speaking, we ought to be careless of those we find. Neglect kills an injury sooner than revenge. When Socrates was told that one railed at him, Let him, said he, beat me too; so I be absent I care not. He that will question every unpleasant word which he hears spoken of him shall have few friends, has but little wit, and will have much trouble. When Chrysippus was informed that his friend reproached him privately, he replied, Aye, but chide him not, for then he will do as much in public. We are all sure to meet with vexation enough which we cannot avoid. I cannot think any man loves sorrow so well as, in his discretion, to invite it to dwell in his heart. Did not Pompey do well to commit those letters to the fire before he read them, in which he expected to find the cause of his grief? I will never unworthily try to come at a knowledge of that which can only occasion me trouble. Why should we not be ashamed to do that which we are ashamed to be caught in doing? If I hear anything by accident which may benefit me, I will, if I can, profit by it: but I will never lie in wait for my own abuse or for the abuse of others, which concerns me not; nor will I flame at every vain tongue's puff. He has a poor spirit who is not planted above petty wrongs. Small injuries I would either not hear, or not mind; nay, though I were told them, I would not know the author, for by this I may mend myself without revenging myself upon the person.
Complete. From «Resolves, Divine,
Moral, and Political.”
OF FEAR AND COWARDICE
Hose who are of fearful dispositions, of all others would seem
the least beholden to nature. I know not anything wherein
they can be more unfortunate. They enjoy nothing without an affrighted mind; no, not so much as their sleep; they doubt what they have done, lest it may hurt them; they tremble at the present; and evils which are but merely possible, they anticipate and bring upon them. It were well if they only feared more miseries than other people; but it is plain that the coward really meets more evils. Every base nature will be ready to offer injuries, where they think they will not be resented. He will often beat a coward who would not dare to strike him if he thought him to be possessed of spirit. When the passenger gallops by, as if his fear made him speedy, the cur will eagerly follow him with an open mouth; let him but walk by in a confident ease, and the dog will not stir at him. Fear greatly deceives us, as well in making us falsely believe we avoid dangers by Aying, as in representing everything to us in an unfavorable view. All diseases are belied by fear; and we know there are some, who out of the fear of death have died. In a battle we often see the valiant man escape in safety by steadily keeping his rank; while the coward, by shifting to avoid danger, runs into many. Multos in summa pericula misit venturi timor ipse mali. Certainly I have studied in vain to find out what a coward is good for. I never heard of any act becoming virtue that ever came from him. All the noble deeds which have been achieved through successive ages have proceeded from men of courage. And I believe their confidence has oftentimes been their security. An unappalled look will, of itself, daunt a base attempter; and, if a man has nothing but a courageous eye, it will frequently protect him. The brave soul knows no trembling. Cæsar spake like Cæsar when he bade the mariners fear nothing, for that they carried him and his fortunes. And, indeed, valor casts a kind of honor upon God; for it shows that we believe in his goodness, while we trust ourselves, in danger, to his care only; whereas the coward eclipses his sufficiency, by unworthily doubting whether God will bring him off;—so unjustly accusing either his power, or his will, he would make himself his own savior and become his own confounder: for when man mistrusts God, it is just with
God to leave man. Themistocles compared a coward to the swordfish, which has a weapon, but wants a heart; and then what use can the quaking hand put it to ? Nay, when he would fly, cowardice hinders him from playing the coward; he would run away, but fear arrests him with a senseless amazement, and betrays him into the hands of the foe. No armor can defend a fearful heart. It may be observed of other passions that they are grounded upon things which are: as envy upon happiness, rage upon injury, love upon beauty, and so of the rest; but fear is founded upon things which are not. It coins mischiefs which neither exist, nor can exist. Thus, having no object to bound it, it runs on ad infinitum and cannot be checked by any condition of life. Let the coward have a guard, and he fears that; let him have none, and he will be fearful for want of it. I have known some who ought to have been as happy as the world could make them; and their own needless apprehensions have made their lives more bitter than his who was in want of almost every earthly advantage. How much are they to be pitied, who, through a weak, vexatious, and unprofitable passion, quite destroy the blessings of a fair estate! Some things I may doubt, and endeavor to shun; but I would never fear them to servility. If I can keep but reason lord, fear will serve and benefit me: but when fear gets the rule, it will domineer insultingly. Let me rather have a mind confident, and undaunted with some troubles, than a pulse still beating with fear in the flush of prosperity.
Complete. From «Resolves, Divine,
Moral, and Political.”
OF ILL COMPANY
VERTAINLY if there be any Delilah under heaven, it is to be u found in bad society. This will bind us, betray us, blind
us, undo us. Many a man had been good, who is not, if he had but kept good company. When the Achates of thy life shall be ill, will not thy life be so too? Even waters change their qualities, by running through a different vein of earth. No man but hath good and bad in his nature, either of which gain strength, as they meet with their like, or decline, as they find their opposite. When vice runs in a single stream, it is then a passable shallow; but when many streams shall fall into one, they swell into a deeper channel, and we are drowned in them. Good and wise associates are like princes in defensive leagues; one defends the other against the devices of the common foe. Vicious ones are like the treacherous lantern in 1688, which, under pretense of guiding us, will draw us into danger, and betray us into the hands of our enemies. The fiction of the sirens, may, in its moral, be considered as meant to show the blandishing arts by which sinful men entice others to destruction. I know physicians may converse with sick persons and themselves remain uninfected, but then they must have stronger antidotes than their own nature gives them. One rotten apple will infect the store; the putrid grape corrupts the whole sound cluster. Though I am no hermit, and desire not to sit away my days in a dull cell, yet I would rather choose to have no companion than a bad one. If I have found any good ones, I will cherish them as the choicest of men, or as angels, which are sent as guardians to me; if I have any bad ones I will study to lose them, lest by keeping them I lose myself in the end.
Complete. From «Resolves, Divine,
Moral, and Political.»
OF THE TEMPER OF AFFECTIONS
VERY man is a vast and spacious sea; his passions are the E winds which make him swell and foam; sometimes the
west of pleasure fans him with luxurious gales; sometimes the moist south makes him sorrowful and full of tears; sometimes the sharp east pierces him with a testy spleen; sometimes the violent and blustering north swells his cheek with anger's boiling blood. Any of these, in extremes, makes the waters become unnavigable, and full of danger to the vessel which shall sail upon them. When these winds are too loud, it is perilous; but when again they are all laid in the stillness of a quiet calm, it is useless; and though such a state of weather is, in itself, less dangerous than any other, yet it is far from availing, to the profit of a voyage, and the passengers may sooner famish, by being becalmed, than coast it over, for the advantage of their mart. Surely the man who is always still and reposed in his own thoughts is at best but a piece of deadened charity. I care not for the insensible stoic, there is a sect between him and the epicure. An unmoved man is but a living statue, harmless and unprofitable. Fury, however, is a worse extreme than passiveness; for, besides the trouble it brings on others, it always leads the author into successive mischiefs:
Caret eventu nimius furor.
«Rage knows not when, nor how to end.”
I neither like a devouring stork, nor a Jupiter's log. Man is not fit for conversation when his passions hurry him into an odious violence, nor when they are all laid asleep in a silent and unstirring calm. The sea is best in a pleasant gale; and so is man, when his passions are alive without raging. God implanted passions in the soul, as he gave his talents in the Gospel; neither to be lavished impetuously, nor to be buried in a napkin. We may warm ourselves at these fires, though we burn not. Man without any is no better than a speaking stone. Cato's best emperor was, qui potuit imperare affectibus; he does not say, deponere. Moderate passions are the most affable expressions of humanity, without which the soul finds nothing like itself to love. A horse too hot and fiery is the danger of his rider, one too dull is his trouble; and as the first will not endure any man, so the last will be endured by no man. The one will suffer none to back him, the other admits every child to abuse him. A good temper is a sure expression of a well-composed soul. Our wild passions are like so many lawyers, wrangling and bawling at the bar. Discretion is the lord keeper of man, who sits as judge and moderates their contentions. Too great a spirit in a man born to poor means is like a high-heeled shoe to one of mean stature: it advances his height, but renders him more liable to falls. The flat sole walks more surely, though it takes from the gracefulness of the wearer; yet, being too low, it is apt to bemire the foot. A little elevation is the best mediocrity; it is both raised from the earth, and sure. I will neither walk so lifted as to occasion falling, nor so dejected as at every step to take soil. As I care not to be the cap of the company, so I would not be earth, or the fool's football
Complete. From Resolves, Divine,
Moral, and Political.)