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they shall never want such kind of instruments, do utterly forsake them, turning them over to the friends and allies of the wronged, to their accusations and revenge, and to the general hatred of the people ; so that with great applause and prosperous wishes and acclamations towards the Prince, they are brought rather too late than undeservedly to a miserable end.
NARCISSUS, OR SELF LOVE. They say that Narcissus was exceeding fair and beautiful, but wonderful proud and disdainful; wherefore despising all others in respect of himself, he leads a solitary life in the woods and chases with a few followers, to whom he alone was all in all ; amongst the rest there follows him the nymph Echo. During his course of life, it fatally so chanced that he came to a clear fountain, upon the bank whereof he lay down to repose himself in the heat of the day; and having espied the shadow of his own face in the water, was so besotted and ravished with the contemplation and admiration thereof, that he by no means possibly could be drawn from beholding his image in this glass ; insomuch, that by continual gazing thereupon, he pined away to nothing, and was at last turned into a flower of his own name, which appears in the beginning of the spring, and is sacred to the infernal powers, Pluto, Proserpina, and the Furies.
This fable seems to shew the dispositions and fortunes of those, who in respect either of their
beauty or other gift wherewith they are adorned and graced by nature, without the help of industry, are so far besotted in themselves as that they prove the cause of their own destruction. For it is the property of men infected with this humour not to come much abroad, or to be conversant in civil affairs ; specially seeing those that are in public place must of necessity encounter with many contempts and scorns which may much deject and trouble their minds; and therefore they lead for the most part a solitary, private, and obscure life, attended on with a few followers, and those such as will adore and admire them, like an echo, flatter them in all their sayings, and applaud them in all their words; so that being by this custom seduced and puffed up, and as it were stupified with the admiration of themselves, they are possessed with so strange a sloth and idleness, that they grow in a manner benumbed and defective of all vigour and alacrity. Elegantly doth this flower, appearing in the beginning of the spring, represent the likeness of these men's dispositions, who in their youth do flourish and wax famous; but being come to ripeness of years, they deceive and frustrate the good hope that is conceived of them. Neither is it impertinent that this flower is said to be consecrated to the infernal deities, because men of this disposition become unprofitable to all human things. For whatsoever produceth no fruit of itself, but passeth and vanisheth as if it never had been, like the way of a ship in the sea, that the ancients were wont to dedicate to the ghosts and powers below.
STYX, OR LEAGUES. The oath by which the gods were wont to oblige themselves when they meant to ratify any thing so firmly as never to revoke it, is a thing well known to the vulgar, as being mentioned almost in every fable, which was, when they did not invoke or call to witness any celestial majesty or divine power, but only the river Styx, that with crooked and meandry turnings encircleth the palace of the infernal Dis. This was held as the only manner of their sacrament, and, besides it, not any other vow to be accounted firm and inviolable, and therefore the punishment to be inflicted, if any did perjure themselves, was, that for certain years they should be put out of commons, and not to be admitted to the table of the gods.
This fable seems to point at the leagues and pacts of princes, of which more truly than opportunely may be said, that be they never so strongly confirmed with the solemnity and religion of an oath, yet are for the most part of no validity ; insomuch, that they are made rather with an eye to reputation, and report, and ceremony, than to faith, security, and effect. Moreover, add to these the bonds of affinity, as the sacraments of nature, and mutual deserts of each part, and you shall observe, that with a great many, all these things are placed a degree under ambition and profit, and the licentious desire of domination; and so much the rather, because it is an easy thing for princes to defend and cover their unlawful desires and unfaithful vows with many out
wardly seeming fair pretexts, especially seeing there is no umpire or moderator of matters concluded upon,
to whom a reason should be tendered. Therefore there is no true and proper thing made choice of for the confirmation of faith, and that no celestial power neither, but is indeed necessity (a great god to great potentates) the peril also of state, and the communication of profit. As for necessity, it is elegantly represented by Styx, that fatal and irremeable river; and this godhead did Ipichrates, the Athenian, call to the confirmation of a league, who, because he alone is found to speak plainly that which many hide covertly in their breasts, it would not be amiss to relate his words. He observing how the Lacædemonians had thought upon and propounded divers cautions, sanctions, confirmations, and bonds, pertaining to leagues, interposed thus: “Unum “ Lacedæmonii, nobis vobiscum vinculum, et securi“ tatis ratio esse possit, si plane demonstretis, vos ea “ nobis concessisse, et inter manus posuisse, ut vobis “ facultas lædendi nos si maxime velletis minime “suppetere possit.” There is one thing, oh Lace
, demonians ! that would link us unto you in the bond of amity, and be the occasion of peace and security, which is, if you would plainly demonstrate that
you have yielded up and put into our hands such things as that, would you hurt us never so fain, you should yet be disfurnished of means to do it. If, therefore, the power of hurting be taken away, or if, by breach of league, there follow the danger of the ruin or diminution of the state or tribute, then indeed the
leagues may seem to be ratified and established, and as it were confirmed by the sacrament of the Stygian lake ; seeing that it includes the fear of prohibition and suspension from the table of the gods, under which name the laws and prerogatives, the plenty and felicity of a kingdom were signified by the ancients.
PAN, OR NATURE. The ancients have exquisitely described Nature under the person of Pan, whose original they leave doubtful; for some say that he was the son of Mercury, others attribute unto him a far different beginning, affirming him to be the common offspring of Penelope's suitors, upon a suspicion that every one of them had to do with her; which latter relation doubtless gave occasion to some after writers to entitle this ancient fable with the name of Penelope; a thing very frequent amongst them when they apply old fictions to young persons and names, and that many times absurdly and indiscreetly, as may be seen here: for Pan, being one of the ancient gods, was long before the time of Ulysses and Penelope. Besides, for her matronal chastity, she was held venerable by antiquity. Neither may we pretermit the third conceit of his birth : for some say that he was the son of Jupiter and Hybris, which signifies contumely or disdain: but howsoever begotten, the Parcæ, they say, were his sisters. He is pourtrayed by the ancients in this guise; on his head a pair of horns to reach to heaven, his body rough and hairy, his beard long and