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wish for I will pursue easily, though I do it assiduously. And if I can, the diligence of the hand shall go without the leaping bounds of the heart. So, if it happen well, I shall have more content, as coming less expected. Those joys clasp us with a friendlier arm which steal upon us when we look not for them. If it fall out ill, my mind not being set on it will teach me patience under the saddening want. I will cozen pain by not caring for it; and plump my joys by letting them surprise me. As I would not neglect a good when it offers, so I would not fury myself in the search of one.
Complete. From «Resolves, Divine,
Moral, and Political.”
THAT SUFFERANCE CAUSETH LOVE
IN NOBLE natures, I never found it fail that those, who suffered
for them, they ever greatly loved. Nothing indeed attaches
us more strongly to our friend than his having smarted for our sake, or having freely borne the burden which was ours. He has, in a manner, made a purchase of thy life by saving it; and though he forbears to call for it, yet I believe thou owest it him. There is a sympathy of souls, which makes men sensible of each other's sufferances. I know not by what hidden way it is, but I find that love increases by adversity. Ovid confesses it:
«Adverso tempore crevit amor.”
“Love heightens by depression.”
To make two friends entire, we need but plot to make one suffer for the other's sake. For this is always the case with a worthy mind; it grieves more at the misfortune of a friend than it can do for its own. Men often know how to manage a trouble in themselves, how to entertain it; but in another, they are uncertain how it may work. In courtesies rendered us, it is most noble to prize them after the author's intention, if they be mean; but after their effect, if they be great: and when we render them to others, to value them only, as the result may prove them to be beneficial to the receiver.
Complete. From «Resolves, Divine,
Moral, and Political.»
IN SOME dispositions there is such an envious kind of pride, that | they cannot endure that any but themselves should be set forth
as excellent: so that when they hear one justly praised, they will either openly detract from his virtues; or, if those virtues be, like a clear and shining light, eminent and distinguished, so that he cannot be safely traduced by the tongue, they will then raise a suspicion against him by a mysterious silence, as if there were something remaining to be told, which overclouded even his brightest glory. Surely if we considered detraction to proceed, as it does, from envy, and to belong only to deficient minds, we should find that to applaud virtue would procure us far more honor than underhandedly seeking to disparage her. The former would show that we loved what we commended; while the latter tells the world we grudge that in others which we want in ourselves. It is one of the basest offices of man, to make his tongue the lash of the worthy. Even if we do know of faults in others, I think we can scarcely show ourselves more nobly virtuous than in having the charity to conceal them; so that we do not flatter or encourage them in their failings. But to relate anything we may know against our neighbor, in his absence, is most unseemly conduct. And who will not condemn him as a traitor to reputation and society, who tells the private fault of his friend to the public and ill-natured world? When two friends part, they should lock up one another's secrets, and exchange their keys. The honest man will rather be a grave to his neighbor's errors, than in any way expose them. The counsel in the satire I much approve:
Absentem qui rodit amicum;
- Hor. Sat. I. 4.
« He who malignant tears an absent friend,
Of things he never saw, who tells his tale;
And for the most part, he is as dangerous in another vice as in this. He that can detract unworthily, when thou canst not answer him, can flatter thee as unworthily when thou must hear him. It is usual with him to smooth it in the chamber, who keeps a railing tongue for the hall; besides, it implies a kind of cowardice to speak against another when he is not present to defend himself. The valiant man's tongue, though it never boasteth vainly, yet it is ever the greatest coward in absence; but the coward is never valiant, but then. There is nothing argues Nature more degenerate than her secretly repining at another's merits. Indeed, it is difficult to speak of a man truly, as he is: but, at any rate, I would not detract from the fame of the absent. It is then a time for praise, rather than for reprehension. Let praise be sounded to the spreading air; but chidings whispered in the kissed ear: which teaches us, even while we chide, to love.
Complete. From «Resolves, Divine,
Moral, and Political.»
OF POETS AND POETRY
I TORDS are rather the drossy part of poetry; imagination the V life of it. The name which the Grecians gave to poets
shows how much they honored their art; they called them Makers. And if some of them had had the power to give a reality to their conceits, how nearly would they have come to Deity! Poets who treat of human virtues by proposing things above us, kindle on their readers both wonder and imitation. And certainly such poets Plato never meant to banish. His own practice proves that he excluded not all. He was content to hear Antimachus recite his verses when all the herd had left him; and he himself wrote tragedies and other pieces. There is another name of honor which poets had, and that was Vates. I know not how to distinguish between the prophets and the poets of Israel. What are Jeremiah's Lamentations but a kind of sapphic elegy? David's Psalms are not only poems, but songs, and raptures of a flaming spirit. One thing recommends poetry above oratory:– it is ever acceptable to the sharpest wits. He is the best orator who pleases everybody. But that poetry must be poor which all should approve of. If the learned and ingenious like it, let the throng bray. They when it is best will admire it the least. Two things are commonly blamed in poetry, and these are lies and flattery; but it is only to the shallow understanding that they appear thus. Truth may dwell more clearly in an allegory, or a moral fable, than in a bare narration; and as to flattery, no man should take poetry in its literal sense. Its higher and imaginary descriptions rather show what men should be, than what they are; hyperboles in poetry, not only carry a decency, but even a grace along with them. The greatest danger that I find in poetry is, that it sometimes corrupts the mind and inflames the passions. To prevent this, let the poet strive to be chaste in his lines, and never profane, immoral, or licentious. When this is attended to, I think a grave poem the deepest kind of writing. It wings the soul up higher than the slack pace of prose. Long poems some cannot admire; and, indeed, they pall upon the reading. The wittiest poets have been all short, and changing soon their subjects; as Horace, Martial, Juvenal, Seneca, and the two Comedians. Poetry should be rather like a coranto, short and nimbly-lofty, than a dull lesson of a day long. Nor can it be but flat, if distended; when it is good, it concentrates the powers of the mind, and seizes on the spirit of things. Foolish poetry is, of all writing, the most ridiculous. When a goose dances, and a fool versifies, there is a sport alike. He is twice an ass, who is a rhyming one; and he is something the less unwise, who is unwise in prose. If the subject be history, or contexted fable, then I hold it better to put it in prose, or blank verse; for ordinary discourse never shows so well in metre, as in the strain it may seem to be spoken in: the merit consists in doing it to the life. Surely, though the world think not so, he is happy to himself, who can play the poet; he can give vent to his passions by his pen, and ease his heart of the weight of them, and in his raptures he often experiences a delight which no man can perceive but himself. Surely, Ovid found a pleasure in it, even when he wrote his “Tristia.” I would not follow poetry as a profession, and I would not want it as a recreation.
OF WISDOM AND SCIENCE
EARNING falls far short of wisdom. Nay, so far, that you shall
scarcely find a greater fool than is sometimes a mere scholar;
he will speak Greek to an ostler, and Latin familiarly to women who understand it not. Knowledge is the treasure of the mind; but discretion is the key to it, without which it is useless. The practical part of wisdom is the best. A native genius is beyond industrious study. Wisdom is no inheritance; no, not to the greatest clerks. Men commonly write more formally than they practice; and conversing only with books, they fall into affectation and pedantry. He who is made up of the press and the pen shall be sure to be ridiculous. Company and conversation are the best instructors for a noble behavior. What we learn in the study is mostly from imagination and fancy. And how airy must they needs be, who are composed wholly of the fumes, perhaps, of distempered brains! For if they have not judgment enough to amend their conversation, they may well want judgment to choose the worthiest authors. I grant they may know much; and I think any man may do so who hath but memory, and bestows some time in a library. There is a free nobleness of mind which some men are graced with, which far outshines the notions of the formal student; and some men speak more excellently even from nature's self than can the scholar by all the strains of art. How fond and untunable are a freshman's brawls, when we meet with him out of his college! — oftentimes with a long recited sentence quite out of the way; arguments about nothing, or at best niceties; as one would be of Martin's religion, another of Luther's, and so quarrel about their faith. How little invention is required to put false matter into a true syllogism:- 0 pueriles ineptias! in hoc supercilia subduximus ? in hoc barbam dimisimus? Disputationes istæ, utinam tantum non prodessent; nocent. O most childish follies! is it for these we knit our brows, and stroke our beards ? Would to God these disputations only did not profit us; they are hurtful. In discourse, give me a man who speaks reason rather than authors; sense, rather than a syllogism; his own, rather than another's. He who is continually quoting from others argues a barrenness in himself which forces him to be ever a-borrowing; in the one, a man shows judgment; in the other, reading: and in my opinion it is a greater commendation to say that one is wise than that one is well read. So far I will honor knowl