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himself. Thus valor makes him son to Cæsar, learning entitles him kinsman to Tully, and piety reports him nephew to godly Constantine. It graceth a gentleman of low descent and high desert, when he will own the meanness of his parentage. How ridiculous it is when many men brag that their families are more ancient than the moon, which all know are later than the star which some seventy years since shined in Cassiopea. But if he be generously born, see how his parents breed him.
He is not in his youth possessed with the great hopes of his possession. No flatterer reads constantly in his ears a survey of the lands he is to inherit. This hath made many boys' thoughts swell so great they could never be kept in compass afterwards. Only his parents acquaint him that he is the next undoubted heir to correction, if misbehaving himself; and he finds no more favor from his schoolmaster than his schoolmaster finds diligence in him, whose rod respects persons no more than bullets are partial in a battle.
At the university he is so studious as if he intended learning for his profession. He knows well that cunning is no burden to carry, as paying neither portage by land nor poundage by sea. Yea, though to have land be a good first, yet to have learning is the surest second, which may stand to it when the other may chance to be taken away.
At the inns of court he applies himself to learn the laws of the kingdom. Object not, “Why should a gentleman learn law, who, if he needeth it, may have it for his money, and if he hath never so much of his own, he must but give it away ?) For what a shame is it for a man of quality to be ignorant of Solon in our Athens, of Lycurgus in our Sparta ? Besides, law will help him to keep his own, and bestead his neighbors. Say not that there be enough which make this their set practice; for so there are also many masters of defense by their profession; and shall private men therefore learn no skill at their weapons ?
As for the hospitality, the apparel, the traveling, the company, the recreations, the marriage of gentlemen, they are described in several chapters in the following book. A word or two of his behavior in the country:
He is courteous and affable to his neighbors. As the sword of the best-tempered metal is most flexible, so the truly generous are most pliant and courteous in their behavior to their inferiors.
He delights to see himself and his servants well mounted; therefore he loveth good horsemanship. Let never any foreign Rabshakeh send that brave to our Jerusalem, offering to lend her two thousand horses, if she be able for her part to set riders upon them. We know how Darius got the Persian Empire from the rest of his fellow-peers by the first neighing of his generous steed. It were no harm if, in some needless suits of intricate precedency betwixt equal gentlemen, the priority were adjudged to him who keeps a stable of most serviceable horses.
He furnisheth and prepareth himself in peace against time of war, lest it be too late to learn when his skill is to be used. He approves himself courageous when brought to the trial, as well remembering the custom which is used at the creation of Knights of the Bath, wherein the king's master cook cometh forth, and presenteth his great knife to the new-made Knights, admonishing them to be faithful and valiant, otherwise he threatens them that that very knife is prepared to cut off their spurs.
If the commission of the peace find him out, he faithfully discharges it. I say, find him out, for a public office is a guest which receives the best usage from them who never invited it. And though he declined the place, the country knew to prize his worth, who would be ignorant of his own. He compounds many petty differences betwixt his neighbors, which are easier ended in his own porch than in Westminster Hall; for many people think, if once they have fetched a warrant from a justice, they have given earnest to follow the suit, though otherwise the matter be so mean that the next night's sleep would have bound both parties to the peace, and made them as good friends as ever before. Yet,
He connives not at the smothering of punishable faults. He hates that practice, as common as dangerous amongst country people, who, having received again the goods which were stolen from them, partly out of foolish pity, and partly out of covetousness to save charges in prosecuting the law, let the thief escape unpunished. Thus, whilst private losses are repaired, the wounds to the commonwealth (in the breach of the laws) are left uncured; and thus petty larceners are encouraged into felons, and afterwards are hanged for pounds, because never whipped for pence, who, if they had felt the cord, had never been brought to the halter.
If chosen a member of Parliament, he is willing to do his country a service. If he be no rhetorician to raise affections (yea,
Mercury was a greater speaker than Jupiter himself), he counts it great wisdom to be the good manager of yea and nay. The slow pace of his judgment is recompensed by the swift following of his affections, when his judgment is once soundly informed. And here we leave him in consultation, wishing him, with the rest of his honorable society, all happy success.
Complete. From the Holy State.”
THE VIRTUOUS LADY
TO DESCRIBE a holy state without a virtuous lady therein were
to paint out a year without a spring; we come therefore to
her character. She sets not her face so often by her glass as she composeth her soul by God's Word,- which hath all the excellent qualities of a glass indeed.
1. It is clear; in all points necessary to salvation, except to such whose eyes are blinded.
2. It is true; not like those false glasses some ladies dress themselves by. And how common is flattery, when even glasses have learned to be parasites!
3. It is large; presenting all spots cap-a-pie behind and before, within and without.
4. It is durable; though in one sense it is broken too often (when God's laws are neglected), yet it will last to break them that break it, and one tittle thereof shall not fall to the ground.
5. This glass hath power to smooth the wrinkles, cleanse the spots, and mend the faults it discovers.
She walks humbly before God in all religious duties. Humbly; for she well knows that the strongest Christian is like the city of Rome, which was never besieged but it was taken; and the best saint without God's assistance would be as often foiled as tempted. She is most constant and diligent at her hours of private prayer. Queen Catharine Dowager never kneeled on a cushion when she was at her devotions; this matters not at all; our lady is more careful of her heart than of her knees, that her soul be settled aright.
She is careful and most tender of her credit and reputation. There is a tree in Mexicana which is so exceedingly tender that a man cannot touch any of its branches but it withers presently.
A lady's credit is of equal niceness; a small touch may wound and kill it; which makes her very cautious what company she keeps. The Latin tongue seems somewhat injurious to the feminine sex, for whereas therein amicus is a friend, amica always signifies a sweetheart; as if their sex in reference to men were not capable of any other kind of familiar friendship but in way to marriage, - which makes our lady avoid all privacy with suspicious company.
Yet is she not more careful of her own credit than of God's glory; and stands up valiantly in the defense thereof. She hath read how, at the coronation of King Richard II., Dame Margaret Dimock, wife to Sir John Dimock, came into the court and claimed the place to be the king's champion by the virtue of the tenure of her manor of Scrinelby in Lincolnshire, to challenge and defy all such as opposed the king's right to the crown. But if our lady hears any speaking disgracefully of God or religion, she counts herself bound by her tenure (whereby she holds possession of grace here and reversion of glory hereafter) to assert and vindicate the honor of the King of Heaven, whose champion she professeth to be. One may be a lamb in private wrongs, but in hearing general affronts to goodness they are asses which are not lions.
She is pitiful and bountiful to people in distress. We read how a daughter of the Duke of Exeter invented a brake or cruel rack to torment people withal, to which purpose it was long reserved, and often used in the Tower of London, and commonly called (was it not fit so pretty a babe should bear her mother's name ?) the Duke of Exeter's Daughter. Methinks the finding out of a salve to ease poor people in pain had borne better proportion to her ladyship than to have been the inventor of instruments of cruelty.
She is a good scholar, and well learned in useful authors. In. deed, as in purchases a house is valued at nothing, because it returns no profit and requires great charges to maintain it, so, for the same reasons, learning in a woman is but little to be prized. But as for great ladies, who ought to be a confluence of all rarities and perfections, some learning in them is not only useful, but necessary.
In discourse, her words are rather fit than fine, very choice and yet not chosen. Though her language be not gaudy, yet the plainness thereof pleaseth, - it is so proper and handsomely put on. Some, having a set of fine phrases, will hazard an impertinency to use them all, as thinking they give full satisfaction, for dragging in the matter by head and shoulders, if they dress it in quaint expressions. Others often repeat the same things, the Platonic year of their discourses being not above three days long, in which term all the same matter returns over again, thread. bare talk, ill suiting with the variety of their clothes.
She affects not the vanity of foolish fashions, but is decently appareled according to her state and condition. He that should have guessed the bigness of Alexander's soldiers by their shields left in India would much over-proportion their true greatness. But what a vast overgrown creature would some guess a woman to be, taking his aim by the multitude and variety of clothes and ornaments which some of them use,- insomuch as the ancient Latins called a woman's wardrobe mundus, a world; wherein notwithstanding was much terra incognita, then undiscovered, but since found out by the curiosity of modern fashion-mongers. We find a map of this world drawn by God's spirit, Is. iii. 18, wherein one and twenty women's ornaments (all superfluous) are reckoned up, which at this day are much increased. The moons, there mentioned, which they wore on their heads, may seem since grown to the full in the luxury of after ages.
She is contented with that beauty which God hath given her. If very handsome, no whit the more proud, but far the more thankful; if unhandsome, she labors to better it in the virtues of her mind, that what is but plain cloth without may be rich plush within. Indeed, such natural defects as hinder her comfortable serving of God in her calling may be amended by art; and any member of the body being defective, may thereby be lawfully supplied. Thus glass eyes may be used, though not for seeing, for sightliness. But our lady detesteth all adulterate complexions, finding no precedent thereof in the Bible save one, and her so bad that ladies would blush through their paint to make her the pattern of their imitation. Yet are there many that think the grossest fault in painting is to paint grossly (making their faces with thick daubing not only new pictures, but new statues), and that the greatest sin therein is to be discovered.
In her marriage she principally respects virtue and religion, and next that, other accommodations, as we have formerly discoursed of. And she is careful in match, not to bestow herself unworthily beneath her own degree to an ignoble person, except