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ART. II. Spare Minutes, or resolved Meditations and premeditated Resolutions, written by Arthur Warwick.
- Ego cur acquirere pauca
Si possim invidear? The Sixth Edition. London, printed by G. M. for Walter Hammond, and are to be sold by Michael Sparke in Greene Arbour, 1637.-pp. 179.
We have a few spare minutes (the reader will forgive us the pun) to dedicate to this spare volume. It purports to be a posthumous publication, and consists of two parts, to each of which there is an emblematical frontispiece; and before the second part, is prefixed a copy of English verses, by Geo. Wither, and a copy of Latin verses, by William Haydock, both explanatory of the second frontispiece. The first part is dedicated, by the author, to Sir William Dodington; and the second part, by the author's father, “ to the vertuous and religious gentlewoman, his much-esteemed friend, Mistresse Anne Ashton.” The title page indicates the nature of the book, which is a very valuable little manual. The author was a clergyman, and a pious one, whose high delight was to hold divine colloquy with his own heart—" to feed on the sweet pastures of the soul”—he was an aspirant after good, who was never less alone than when without company. The well, in which truth is hidden, he discovered to be the heart of man-he sought for it in his own heart, and he found it there. He was not without hopes of this world, and already lived in futurity. The style of his work is as singular as its spirit is excellent. Brevity was his laborious study he has compressed as much essence as possible into the smallest space. His book is a string of proverbial meditations and meditated proverbs. He does not speak without reason, and cannot reason without a maxim. His sentiments are apposite, though opposite—his language is the appropriateness of contrariety--it is too narrow for his thoughts, which show the fuller for the constraint of their dress. The sinewy athletic body almost bursts its scanty apparel. This adds to the apparent strength of his thoughts, although it takes from their real grace. He comprised great wisdom in a small compass. His life seems to have been as full of worth as his thoughts, and as brief as his book. He considered life but his walk, and heaven his home; and that, travelling towards so pleasant a destination, “ the shorter his journey the sooner his rest.” The marrow of life and of knowledge does not indeed occupy much room. His language is quaint in conceits, and conceited
of comthone reason verbe.ok j$ astessences his mark
in quaintness-it proceeds on an almost uniform balance of antithesis--but his observations are, at once, acute, deep, and practical. We have thrown the following short meditations together.
“ It is some hope of goodness not to grow worse: it is a part of badness not to grow better. I will take heed of quenching the sparke, and strive to kindle a fire. If I have the goodness I should, it is not too much, why should I make it less ? If I keepe the goodness I have, 'tis not enough: why do I not make it more? He ne're was so good as he should be, that doth not strive to be better than he is : He never will be better than he is, that doth not feare to be worse than he was. 1st part, p. 11.
“ It is the usuall plea of poverty to blame misfortune, when the ill-finished cause of complaint is a worke of their owne forging. I will either make my fortunes good, or be content they are no worse. If they are not so good as I would they should have beene, they are not so bad as I know they might have beene. What though I am not so happy as I desire, 'tis well I am not so wretched as I deserve. p. 14.
“ There is nothing to be gotten by the world's love, nothing to be lost (but its love) by its hate. Why then should I seeke that love that cannot profit mee, or feare that malice that cannot hurt mee? If I should love it for loving mee, God would hate mee for loving it if I loath it for hating mee, it cannot hurt mee for loathing it. Let it then hate mee and I will forgive it, but if it love me I will never requite it. For since its love is hurtfull, and its hate harmelesse, I will contemne its hate, and hate its love. p. 16.
“ There is nothing more certaine than death, nothing more uncertaine than the time of dying. I will therefore be prepared for that at all times, which may come at any time, must come at one time or another. I shall not hasten my death by being still ready, but sweeten it. It makes me not die the sooner, but the better. p. 19.
“ The commendation of a bad thing is its shortnesse, of a good thing its continuance: it were happy for the damned if their torments knew end, 'tis happier for the saints that their joys are eternall. If man, that is borne of a woman, be full of misery, 'tis well that he hath but a short time to live: if his life be a walke of paine, it's a blessing, that his dayes are but a spanne long. Happy miseries that end in joy: happy joyes that know no end : happy end that dissolves to eternity. p. 21.
" There is no estate of life so happy in this world as to yeeld a Christian the perfection of content: and yet there is no state of life so wretched in this world, but a Christian must be content with it. Though I have nothing here that may give me true content, yet I will learne to bee truely contented here with what I have. What care I though I have not much, I have as much as I desire, if I have as much as I want; I have as much as the most, if I have as much as I desire. p. 24.
“ Nature bids mee love myself, and hate all that hurt mee; reason bids mee love my friends, and hate those that envy mee; religion bids me love all, and hate none. Nature sheweth care, reason wit, religion love. Nature may induce mee, reason persuade mee, but religion shall rule mee. I will hearken to nature in much, to reason in more, to religion in all. Nature shall make mee careful of myself, but hateful to none; reason shall make mee wise for myselfe, but harmlesse to all; religion shall make mee loving to all, but not carelesse of myselfe. I may heare the former, I will hearken onely to the latter. "I subscribe to some things in all, to all things in religion. p. 27. ; “ The good meaner hath two tongues, the hypocrite a double tongue. The good man's heart speakes without his tongue, the hypocrite's tongue without his heart. The good man hath oftentimes God in heart, when, in his mouth, there is no God mentioned; the hypocrite hath God often in his mouth, when the foole hath said, in his heart, there is no God. I may soonest heare the tongue, but safest the heart—the tongue speaketh loudest, but the heart truest. The speech of the tongue is best known to men: God best understands the language of the heart: the heart, without the tongue, may pierce the eares of heaven; the tongue, without the heart, speakes an unknowne language. No marvell then if the desires of the poore are heard, when the prayers of the wicked are unregarded. I had rather speake three words in a speech that God knowes, than pray three houres in a language he understands not. p.31.
“ It is the folly of affection, not to reprehend my erring friend for feare of his anger: it is the abstract of folly, to be angry with my friend for my error's reprehension. I were not a friend, if I should see my friend out of the way and not advise him: I were unworthy to have a friend, if hee should advise mee (being out of the way) and I bee angry with him. Rather let me have my friend's anger than deserve it; rather let the righteous smite mee friendly by reproofe, than the pernicious oyle of Hattery or connivence breake my head. It is a folly to Aie ill-will by giving a just cause of hatred. I thinke him a truer friend that deserves my love, than he that desires it.” p. 36.
In the second part, the author is somewhat more diffuse, and does not confine himself so much to abstract thoughts, but generally illustrates them with imagery, which possesses, however, the same terseness and closeness of application as his unadorned meditations. His similies are, indeed, mathematically accurate—they run in parallel lines—they never interfere with the subject in hand, nor approach it nearer at one point than another. Our readers cannot fail to be pleased with the few specimens which succeed.
“When I see leaves drop from their trees, in the beginning of autumne, just such, thinke I, is the friendship of the world. Whiles the sap of maintenance lasts, my friends swarme in abundance, but, in the winter of my need, they leave me naked. He is a happy man,
that hath a true friend at his need'; but he is more truly happy that hath no need of his friend. p. 44.
" When I see the heavenly sunne buried under earth in the evening of the day, and, in the morning, to find a resurrection of his glory, why (thinke I) may not the sonnes of heaven, buried in the earth in the evening of their dayes, expect the morning of their glorious resurrection ? Each night is but the past daye's funerall, and the morning his resurrection: why then should our funerall sleepe be otherwise than our sleepe at night? why should not we as well awake to our resurrection as in the morning? I see night is rather an intermission of day, than a deprivation, and death rather borrowes our life of us, than robbs us of it. Since then the glory of the sunne findes a resurrection, why should not the sonnes of glory? p. 49.
“ The gentle and harmlesse sheep being conscious of their owne innocency, how patiently, how quietly, doe they receive the knife, either on the altar, or in the shambles? How silently and undaunted doe they meet death, and give it entrance with small resistance ? When the filthie, loathsome, and harmefull swine roare horribly at the first handling, and, with an hideous crying reluctancy, are haled and held to the slaughter. This seemes some cause to me, why wicked men (conscious of their filthy lives and nature) so tremble at the remembrances, startle at the name, and, with horrour, roare at the approach of death: when the godly quietly uncloathe themselves of their lives, and make small difference 'twixt a naturall night's short sleepe, and the long sleep of nature. 2nd part, p.7.
“When I see a gallant ship well rigged, trimmed, tackled, man'd and munitioned, with her top and top-gallant, and her spread sayles proudly swelling with a full gale in faire weather, putting out of the haven into the smooth maine, and drawing the spectators' eyes, with a well-wishing admiration, and shortly heare of the same ship splitted against some dangerous rock, or wracked by some disastrous tempest, or sunk by some leake sprung in her by some accident, me seemeth I see the case of some court-favorite, who to-day, like Sejanus, dazzleth all men's eyes with the splendour of his glory, and with the proud and potent beake of his powerful prosperity cutteth the waves and ploweth through the prease of the vulgar, and scorneth to feare some remora at his keele below, or any crosse winds from above, and yet to-morrow, on some storms of unexpected disfavour, springs a leake in his honour, and sinkes on the Syrtes of disgrace, or dashed against the rocks of displeasure, is splitted and wrack'd in the Caribdis of infamy, and so concludes his voyage in misery and misfortune. p. 50.
“When I plant a choyse flower in a fertile soyle, I see nature presently to thrust up with it the stinging nettle, the stinking hemlocke, the drowzie poppie, and many such noysome weedes, which will either choake my plant with excluding the sunne, or divert its nourishment to themselves. But if I weed but these at first, my flower thrives to its goodnesse and glory. This is also the case when I endeavour to plant grace in the fertill soyle of a good wit. For luxurious nature thrusts up with it, either stinging wrath, or stinking wantonnesse, or drowzie
sloath, or some other vices, which robb my plant of its desired fourishing. But these being first pluckt up, the good wit produceth in its time the faire flower of virtue.” p. 64.
“As oft as I heare the Robin-red-brest chaunt it as cheerfully in September, the beginning of winter, as in March, the approach of the summer, why should not wee (thinke I) give as cheereful entertainement to the hoary-frosty hayres of our age's winter, as to the primroses of our youth's spring ? Why not to the declining sunne in adversity as (like Persians) to the rising sunne of prosperity? I am sent to the ant, to learne industry; to the dove, to learne innocency; to the serpent, to learne wisedome; and why not to this bird, to learne equanimity and patience, and to keepe the same tenour of my minde's quietnesse, as well at the approach of the calamities of winter as of the spring of happinesse? And since the Roman's constancy is so commended, who changed not his countenance with his changed fortunes, why should not I, with a Christian resolution, hold a steddy course in all weathers, and though I bee forced with crosse-windes to shift my sailes and catch at side-windes, yet skilfully to steere and keep on my course, by the Cape of Good Hope, till I arrive at the haven of eternall happinesse ?" p. 71.
Our author, notwithstanding his gravity, is very sportive in his diction, and does not scorn a pun, as our readers may have seen, and will see more particularly in the following meditations.
“ There is a sort of men which are kind men to me, when they expect some kindnesse from me.--who have their hands downe to the ground in their salutations, when the ground of their salutations is to have a hand at mee in some coinmodity. But their own ends once served, their kindnesse hath its end at once: and then it seemes strange to mee, how strange they will seeme to growe to me; as if the cause (their desire) being removed, the effect (their courtesie) must straight cease.” p. 33.
“ I see a number of gallants every where, whose incomes come in yearly by set numbers, but runne out daily sans number. I could pitty the cases of such brave men, but that I see them still in brave cases; and when I see them often foxed, me thinke the proverbe sutes those sutes, What is the fox but his case? I should thinke them to be Eutrapelus his enemies, whom he cloathed richly to make them spend freely and grow deboshed. I will doe those men right, and wonder at them, because they desire it. I will not wrong myself to envie them, because they scorne it. I know that gorgeous apparell is an ornament to grace the court, for the glory of the kingdome, but it is no ornament useful in the kingdom of grace, nor needful in the kingdome of glory. A rich coate may bee commendable in the accidents of armory onely, but it is not the onely substance of a commendable gentleman. I will value the apparell by the worthinesse of the wearer; I will not value the worthinesse of the wearer by the worth of his apparell. Adam was most gallantly apparelled when he was innocently naked.” p. 37.
VOL. II. PART I.