Imágenes de páginas

souls, Charity, which is excellently called "the bond of Perfection," because it comprehends and fastens all virtues together. And it is elegantly said by Menander 2 of sensual love (which is but a false imitation of divine love), "That love is a better teacher for human life than a left-handed sophist," whereby he means that comeliness of manner is better taught by love than by a clumsy preceptor or sophist, whom he calls lefthanded; because, with all his laborious rules and precepts he cannot form a man so dexterously, nor with that facility to prize and govern himself in all things, as love can do. So certainly if a man's mind be truly inflamed with charity, it raises him to greater perfection than all the doctrines of morality can do; which is but a sophist in comparison of the other. Nay further, as Xenophon truly observed, "that all other affections though they raise the mind, yet they distort and disorder it by their ecstasies and excesses, but only love at the same time exalts and composes it; "3 so all the other qualities which we admire in man, though they advance nature, are yet subject to excess; whereas Charity alone admits of no excess. The Angels aspiring to be like God in power, transgressed and fell: "I will ascend, and be like unto the most High."4 Man aspiring to be like God in knowledge, transgressed and fell: "Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil; " but by aspiring to a similitude of God in goodness or love, neither angel or man ever transgressed or shall transgress; for unto that imitation we are called, "Love your enemies, bless them which hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you, that ye may be children of your Father who is in heaven, who makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends his rain on the just and the unjust." So in the first platform of the divine nature itself, the heathen religion speaks thus, "Optimus Maximus," but the sacred Scriptures thus, "His mercy is over all His works."7


[ocr errors]

Here then I conclude this part of moral knowledge concerning the Georgics of the mind, wherein if any man, from viewing the parts thereof which I have enumerated, judge that my labour is but to collect into an art or science that which has been omitted by other writers as matter of common sense and

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

experience, and sufficiently clear and self-evident, he is welcome to his opinion; but in the mean while let him remember that I am in pursuit, as I said at first, not of beauty but of utility and truth: and let him withal call to mind the ancient parable of the two gates of sleep:

Sunt geminæ Somni portæ, quarum altera fertur
Cornea, qua veris facilis datur exitus umbris;
Altera candenti perfecta nitens elephanto,

Sed falsa ad cœlum mittunt insomnia Manes.1

Great no doubt is the magnificence of the ivory gate, but the true dreams pass through the gate of horn.

To these observations concerning moral philosophy may be added, That there seems to be a relation or conformity between the good of the mind and the good of the body. For as I said that the good of the body consisted of health, beauty, strength, and pleasure; so the good of the mind considered according to the precepts of moral knowledge tends to this; to make the mind sound and without perturbation; beautiful and graced with decency; and strong and agile for all the duties of life; lastly, not stupid, but retaining a lively sense of pleasure and comfort in an honest way. These three as in the body so in the mind seldom all meet together. For it is easy to observe that many have strength of wit and courage, who are yet disordered by perturbations and have little beauty and decency in their manners; some again have an elegance and fineness of carriage, who have neither honesty of will nor strength for action; and some again have honest and reformed minds, who can neither become themselves nor manage business: while others, though perhaps endowed with all these three, yet from a Stoical severity and insensibility have no pleasure in the virtuous actions which they practise. But though it happen that of these four two or three of them sometimes meet, yet the meeting of them all is, as I have said, very rare. I have now handled that general part of human philosophy which contemplates man as he consists of body and spirit, but segregate and apart from society.

1 Virg. Æn. vi. 894. :—

Two gates the entrance of Sleep's house adorn
Of ivory one, the other simple horn;
Through horn a crowd of real visions streams,
Through ivory portals pass delusive dreams.



The Division of Civil Knowledge into the Doctrine concerning Conversation, Negotiation, and Empire or State Govern


THERE is an old story, most excellent king, that many philosophers being met together in the presence of the ambassador of a foreign prince, each endeavouring to give a sample of his wisdom, that the ambassador might be able to make a report of the wonderful wisdom of Greece; one of them remained silent and propounded nothing; insomuch that the ambassador turning to him, said, "What have you to say for me to report?" To whom he answered, "Tell your king that you have found a man in Greece, who knew how to hold his tongue." And in truth, in this synopsis of the arts I have forgotten to mention the art of silence, which (since it is commonly deficient) I will now teach by my own example. For since the course of the argument has now brought me down to that point, that I should presently handle the art of government; and since I am writing to so great a king who is such a master in that art, wherein he has been trained from his cradle; and since I cannot altogether forget what position I have held under your majesty; I thought that I should better approve myself by silence on such a matter before your majesty, than by speech. Cicero indeed makes mention not only of an art, but of a kind of eloquence in silence; for in one of his letters to Atticus, after relating a conversation between himself and another person on both sides of a subject, he writes, "Here I borrowed part of your eloquence, for I held my tongue."2 Pindar again (whose peculiar gift it was to surprise men's minds with some striking expression, as with a magic rod), utters some such saying as this, "Silence sometimes says more than speech." 3 Where

This story is told of Zeno. 2 Cic. Ep. ad Attic. xii. 42.


See Plut. de Garrulitate, and Diog. Laert. vii. 24. 9 Pind. Nem. v. 32.

fore in this part I have determined to be silent, or to be very brief, which is next thing to silence; but before I come to the arts of government, I must first make some observations touching the other parts of civil knowledge.


Civil knowledge is conversant about a subject, which of all others is most immersed in matter, and with most difficulty reduced to axioms. Nevertheless there are some circumstances to relieve this difficulty; for first, as Cato the Censor used to say of the Romans, "that they were like sheep, for that a man might better drive a flock of them, than one of them; for in a flock, if you could but get some few of them to go right, the rest would follow; " so in that respect the duty of moral philosophy is more difficult than that of policy. Secondly, moral philosophy propounds to itself to imbue and endow the mind with internal goodness; but civil knowledge requires only an external goodness, for that suffices for society. And therefore it often comes to pass that there be evil times in good governments; as in the sacred history we find it said more than once in speaking of good and pious kings, "Howbeit the people had not yet directed their heart aright to the Lord God of their Fathers; " 2 wherefore in this respect also the office of moral philosophy is more difficult. Thirdly, states as great engines are moved slowly and not without great efforts, whence they are not so soon put out of frame; for as in Egypt the seven good years sustained the seven bad, so in states the good government of previous years prevents the errors of succeeding times from causing immediate ruin; but the resolutions and morality of particular persons are more suddenly subverted. And this makes moral knowledge more difficult, but civil knowledge more easy.

Civil knowledge has three parts, according to the three summary actions of Society; the knowledge of conversation, the knowledge of negotiation, and the knowledge of empire or government. For there are three kinds of good which men seek in society, comfort against solitude, assistance in business, and protection against injuries; and they are three wisdoms of divers natures, which are often separate; wisdom of behaviour, wisdom of business, and wisdom of state.

The wisdom of conversation ought certainly not to be overmuch affected, but much less despised; for a wise management

1 Plut. in Cato, c. 8.

2 2 Chron. xx. 33.

thereof has not only a grace and honour in itself, but an important influence in business and government. For as action in an orator, though an external quality, is held of such account as even to be preferred to those other parts which appear more important and internal; so in a man of business conversation and the management thereof, though employed on external objects, finds, if not the highest, yet at all events an eminent place. For look what an effect is produced by the countenance and the carriage of it. Well says the poet,

Nec vultu destrue verba tuo.1

For a man may destroy and betray the force of his words by his countenance; nay, and the effect of his deeds also, if we believe Cicero; who in recommending to his brother affability towards the provincials, said that it did not so much consist in affording them easy access, as in receiving them with a courteous and open countenance. "It is nothing to have your door open, if your countenance be shut.” 2 So we see Atticus before the first interview between Cæsar and Cicero, the war still depending, carefully and seriously advised Cicero touching the composing and ordering of his countenance and gesture. And if the government of the face and countenance alone be of such effect; much more is that of the speech and other carriage appertaining to conversation. Indeed all grace and dignity of behaviour may be summed up in the even balancing of our own dignity and that of others, as has been well expressed by Livy, (though not meant for this purpose) in that description which he gives of personal character. "Lest I should appear (says he) either arrogant or servile, whereof the one were to forget the liberty of others, the other to forget my own. On the other side, if behaviour and outward carriage be intended too much, it may pass into a deformed and spurious affectation. "And then, what is more uncomely than to bring the manners of the stage into the business of life? " And even if it proceed not to that faulty extreme, yet too much time is consumed in these frivolous matters, and the mind is employed more than is right in the care of them. And therefore as in the universities preceptors use to advise young


[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »