Imágenes de páginas

best. What is that? Even this, that by your sloth, irresolution, and misgovernment, your affairs are grown to this declination and decay. For had you used and ordered your means and forces to the best, and done your parts every way to the full, and notwithstanding your matters should have gone backward in this manner as they do, there had been no hope left of recovery or reparation; but since it hath been only by your own errors, &c. So Epictetus in his degrees saith, The worst state of man is to accuse extern things; better than that to accuse a man's self; and best of all to accuse neither.

Another reprehension of this colour is in respect of the well bearing of evils wherewith a man can charge nobody but himself, which maketh them the less.

Leve fit quod bene fertur onus.

[The burden is lightened which is well borne.]

And therefore many natures that are either extremely proud, and will take no fault to themselves, or else very true and cleaving to themselves, (when they see the blame of anything that falls out ill must light upon themselves,) have no other shift but to bear it out well, and to make the least of it; for as we see when sometimes a fault is committed, and before it be known who is to blame, much ado is made of it, but after, if it appear to be done by a son or by a wife or by a near friend, then it is light made of; so much more when a man must take it upon himself. And therefore it is commonly seen, that women that marry husbands of their own choosing against their friends' consents, if they be never so ill used, yet you shall seldom see them complain, but to set a good face on it.

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


Quod operâ et virtute nostra partum est, majus bonum; quod ab alieno beneficio vel ab indulgentiâ fortunæ delatum est, minus bonum. [The good that is won by a man's own effort and virtue, is greater; that which is derived from the beneficence of another, or from the favour of fortune, is less.]

The reasons are, first, the future hope; because in the favours of others or the good winds of fortune we have no state or certainty; in our endeavours or abilities we have. So as when they have purchased us one good fortune, we have them as ready and better edged and inured to procure another.

The forms be you have won this by play; you have not only the water, but you have the receipt, you can make it again if it be lost, &c.

Next, because these properties which we enjoy by the benefit of others, carry with them an obligation, which seemeth a kind of burthen; whereas the other which derive from ourselves, are like the freest patents, absque aliquo inde reddendo; and if they proceed from fortune or providence, yet they seem to touch us secretly with the reverence of the divine powers whose favours we taste, and therefore work a kind of religious fear and restraint: whereas in the other kind, that comes to pass which the prophet speaketh, lætantur et exultant, immolant plagis suis, et sacrificant reti suo. [They rejoice and exult, they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag.]

Thirdly, because that which cometh unto us without ɔur own virtue, yieldeth not that commendation and

reputation for actions of great felicity may draw wonder, but praiseless; as Cicero said to Cæsar, Quæ miremur, habemus; quæ laudemus, expectamus: [Here is enough to admire, but what is there to praise ?]

Fourthly, because the purchases of our own industry are joined commonly with labour and strife, which gives an edge and appetite, and makes the fruition of our desire more pleasant. Suavis cibus a venatu : [Meat taken in hunting is sweet.]

On the other side, there be four counter colours to this colour, rather than reprehensions, because they be as large as the colour itself. First, because felicity seemeth to be a character of the favour and love of the divine powers, and accordingly worketh both confidence in ourselves, and respect and authority from others. And this felicity extendeth to many casual things, whereunto the care or virtue of man cannot extend, and therefore seemeth to be a larger good; as when Cæsar said to the sailor, Cæsarem portas et fortunam ejus, [You carry Cæsar and his fortune;] if he had said et virtutem ejus [and his virtue,] it had been small comfort against a tempest, otherwise than if it might seem upon merit to induce fortune.

Next, whatsoever is done by virtue and industry, seems to be done by a kind of habit and art, and therefore open to be imitated and followed; whereas felicity is inimitable.1 So we generally see that things of nature. seem more excellent than things of art, because they be imitable: for quod imitabile est potentia quadam vulgatum est: [That which can be imitated is potentially common.]

1 The original, which is not very correctly printed, has imitable. In the next clause, the construction being ambiguous, imitable may possibly be right.

Thirdly, felicity commendeth those things which cometh without our own labour; for they seem gifts, and the other seems pennyworths: whereupon Plutarch saith elegantly of the acts of Timoleon, who was so fortunate, compared with the acts of Agesilaus and Epaminondas, that they were like Homer's verses, they ran so easily and so well; and therefore it is the word. we give unto poesy, terming it a happy vein, because facility seemeth ever to come from happiness.

Fourthly, this same præter spem, vel præter expectatum, doth increase the price and pleasure of many things; and this cannot be incident to those things that proceed from our own care and compass.


Gradus privationis major videtur quam gradus diminutionis; et rursus gradus inceptionis major videtur quam gradus incrementi. [From having something to having nothing is a greater step than from having more to having less and again from having nothing to having something is a greater step than from having less to having more.]


It is a position in the mathematics, that there is no proportion between somewhat and nothing, therefore the degree of nullity and quiddity or act, seemeth larger than the degrees of increase and decrease; as to a monoculos it is more to lose one eye, than to a man that hath two eyes. So if one have lost divers children, it is more grief to him to lose the last than all the rest; because he is spes gregis. And therefore Sibylla, when she brought her three books, and had burned two, did double the whole price of both the

other, because the burning of that had been gradus privationis, and not diminutionis.

This colour is reprehended first in those things, the use and service whereof resteth in sufficiency, competency, or determinate quantity: as if a man be to pay one hundred pounds upon a penalty, it is more to him to want twelve pence, than after that twelve pence supposed to be wanting, to want ten shillings more; so the decay of a man's estate seems to be most touched in the degree when he first grows behind, more than afterwards when he proves nothing worth. And hereof the common forms are, Sera in fundo parsimonia, [Sparing comes too late when all is gone,] and, as good never a whit, as never the better, &c. It is reprehended also in respect of that notion, Corruptio unius, generatio alterius: [The corruption of one thing is the generation of another:] so that gradus privationis is many times less matter, because it gives the cause and motive to some new course. As when Demosthenes reprehended the people for hearkening to the conditions. offered by King Philip, being not honourable nor equal, he saith they were but aliments' of their sloth and weakness, which if they were taken away, necessity would teach them stronger resolutions. So Doctor Hector was wont to say to the dames of London, when they complained they were they could not tell how, but yet they could not endure to take any medicine; he would tell them, their way was only to be sick, for then they would be glad to take any medicine.

Thirdly, this colour may be reprehended, in respect that the degree of decrease is more sensitive than the 1 The original has elements: certainly a misprint.

« AnteriorContinuar »