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Cui cæteræ partes vel sectæ secundas unanimiter deferunt, cum singulæ principatum sibi vendicent, melior reliquis videtur. Num primas quæque ex zelo videtur sumere, secundas autem ex vero et merito tribuere. [That to which all other parties or sects agree in assigning the second place (each putting itself first) should be the best: for the assumption of the first place is probably due to partiality, the assignation of the second to truth and merit.]

So Cicero went about to prove the sect of Academics, which suspended all asseveration, for to be the best: for, saith he, ask a Stoic which philosophy is true, he will prefer his own. Then ask him which approacheth next the truth, he will confess the Academics. So deal with the Epicure, that will scant endure the Stoic to be in sight of him; as soon as he hath placed himself, he will place the Academics next him.

So if a prince took divers competitors to a place, and examined them severally, whom next themselves they would rathest commend, it were like the ablest man should have the most second votes.

The fallax of this colour happeneth oft in respect of envy; for men are accustomed after themselves and their own faction to incline unto them which are softest, and are least in their way, in despite and derogation of them that hold them hardest to it. So that this colour of meliority and pre-eminence is a sign of enervation and weakness.


Cujus excellentia vel exuperantia melior, id toto genere melius. [That which is best when in perfection, is best altogether.] Appertaining to this are the forms: Let us not wander in generalities: Let us compare particular with particular, &c.

This appearance, though it seem of strength, and rather logical than rhetorical, yet is very oft a fallax.

Sometimes because some things are in kind very casual, which if they escape prove excellent; so that the kind is inferior, because it is so subject to peril, but that which is excellent being proved is superior; as the blossom of March and the blossom of May, whereof the French verse goeth:

Burgeon de Mars, enfans de Paris,

Si un eschape, il en vaut dix.

So that the blossom of May is generally better than the blossom of March; and yet the best blossom of March is better than the best blossom of May.

Sometimes because the nature of some kinds is to be more equal and more indifferent, and not to have very distant degrees, as hath been noted in the warmer climates the people are generally more wise, but in the northern climate the wits of chief are greater. So in many armies, if the matter should be tried by duel between two champions, the victory should go on one side, and yet if it be tried by the gross, it would go of the other side: for excellencies go as it were by chance, but kinds go by a more certain nature, as by discipline in war.

Lastly, many kinds have much refuse, which countervail that which they have excellent; and therefore generally metal is more precious than stone, and yet a diamond is more precious than gold.


Quod ad veritatem refertur majus est quam quod ad opinionem. Modus autem et probatio ejus quod ad opinionem pertinet hæc est, quod quis si clam putaret fore, facturus non esset. [That which has relation to truth is greater than that which has relation to opinion: and the proof that a thing has relation to opinion is this: It is what a man would not do, if he thought it would not be known.]

So the Epicures say of the Stoics' felicity placed in virtue ; that it is like the felicity of a player, who if he were left of his auditory and their applause, he would straight be out of heart and countenance; and therefore they call virtue bonum theatrale. But of riches the poet saith:

Populus me sibilat, at mihi plaudo.

[The people hiss me, but I applaud myself.]

And of pleasure,

Grata sub imo

Gaudia corde premens, vultu simulante pudorem.

[Her face said "fie for shame;" but inly blest,
She nursed the secret pleasure in her breast.]

The fallax of this colour is somewhat subtile, though the answer to the example be ready; for virtue is not chosen propter auram popularem; but contrariwise, maxime omnium teipsum reverere, [a man should above all reverence himself]: so as a virtuous man will be virtuous in solitudine, and not only in theatro, though percase it will be more strong by glory and fame, as an heat which is doubled by reflexion. But that denieth the supposition, it doth not reprehend the fallax, whereof the reprehension is: Allow that virtue (such as is joined with labour and conflict) would not be chosen but for fame and opinion, yet it followeth not that the chief motive of the election should not be real and for it self; for fame may be only causa impulsiva, and not causa constituens or efficiens. As if there were two horses, and the one would do better without the spur than the other: but again, the other with the spur would far exceed the doing of the former, giving him the spur also; yet the latter will be judged to be the better horse. And the form as to say, Tush, the life of this horse is but in the spur, will not serve as to a wise judgment: for since the ordinary instrument of horsemanship is the spur, and that it is no manner of impediment nor burden, the horse is not to be accounted the less of which will not do well without the spur, but rather the other is to be reckoned a delicacy than a virtue: so glory and honour are as spurs to virtue: and although virtue would languish without them, yet since they be always at hand to attend virtue, virtue is not to be said the less chosen for itself because it needeth the spur of fame and reputation: and therefore that position, nota ejus rei quod propter opinionem et non propter veritatem eligitur, hæc est, quod quis si clam putaret fore facturus non esset, is reprehended.


Quod rem integram servat bonum, quod sine receptu est malum. Nam se recipere non posse impotentiæ genus est, potentia autem bonum. [That course which keeps the matter in a man's power is good; that which leaves him without retreat is

bad: for to have no means of retreating is to be in a sort powerless; and power is a good thing.]

Hereof Æsop framed the fable of the two frogs, that consulted together in the time of drought, (when many plashes that they had repaired to were dry,) what was to be done; and the one propounded to go down into a deep well, because it was like the water would not fail there; but the other answered, yea but if it do fail, how shall we get up again? And the reason is, that human actions are so uncertain and subject to perils, as that seemeth the best course which hath most passages out of it.

Appertaining to this persuasion, the forms are, you shall engage yourself; on the other side, tantum quantum voles sumes ex fortuna, &c. you shall keep the matter in your own hands. The reprehension of it is, that proceeding and resolving in all actions is necessary: for as he saith well, not to resolve is to resolve; and many times it breeds as many necessities, and engageth as far in some other sort, as to resolve.

So it is but the covetous man's disease translated into power; for the covetous man will enjoy nothing, because he will have his full store and possibility to enjoy the more; so by this reason a man should execute nothing, because he should be still indifferent and at liberty to execute anything. Besides necessity and this same jacta est alea hath many times an advantage, because it awaketh the powers of the mind, and strengtheneth endeavour. Cæteris pares necessitate certe superiores estis: [Being equal otherwise, in necessity you have the better.]


Quod ex pluribus constat et divisibilius, est majus quam quod ex paucioribus et magis unum: nam omnia per partes considerata majora videntur; quare et pluralitas partium magnitudinem præ se fert: fortius autem operatur pluralitas partium si ordo absit, nam inducit similitudinem infiniti, et impedit comprehensionem. [That which consists of more things and is more divisible, is greater than that which consists of fewer and is more of one piece: for all things seem greater when they are considered part by part; and therefore plurality of parts carries a show of magnitude. Also plurality of parts has the greater effect when there is no order in them; for the want of order gives it a resemblance to infinity and prevents comprehension.]

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This colour seemeth palpable, for it is not plurality of parts without majority of parts that maketh the total greater; yet nevertheless it often carries the mind away; yea it deceiveth the sense; as it seemeth to the eye a shorter distance of way if it be all dead and continued, than if it have trees or buildings or any other marks whereby the eye may divide it. So when a great monied man hath divided his chests and coins and bags, he seemeth to himself richer than he was, and therefore a way to amplify anything is to break it and to make an anatomy of it in several parts, and to examine it according to several circumstances. And this maketh the greater shew if it be done without order; for confusion maketh things muster more; and besides, what is set down by order and division, doth demonstrate that nothing is left out or omitted, but all is there; whereas if it be without order, both the mind comprehendeth less that which is set down, and besides it leaveth a suspicion, as if more might be said than is expressed.

This colour deceiveth, if the mind of him that is to be persuaded do of itself over-conceive or prejudge of the greatness of anything; for then the breaking of it will make it seem less, because it maketh it to appear more according to the truth and therefore if a man be in sickness or pain, the time will seem longer without a clock or hour-glass, than with it; for the mind doth value every moment, and then the hour doth rather sum up the moments than divide the day. So in a dead plain the way seemeth the longer, because the eye hath preconceived it shorter than the truth, and the frustrating of that maketh it seem longer than the truth. Therefore if any man have an over-great opinion of anything, then if another think by breaking it into several considerations he shall make it seem greater to him, he will be deceived; and therefore in such cases it is not safe to divide, but to extol the entire still in general.

Another case wherein this colour deceiveth is when the matter broken or divided is not comprehended by the sense or mind at once, in respect of the distracting or scattering of it; and being entire and not divided, is comprehended: as a hundred pounds in heaps of five pounds will shew more than in one gross heap, so as the heaps be all upon one table to be seen at once, otherwise not; or flowers growing scattered in divers

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