Chapter 9Of Vanitie
There is peradventure no vanitie more manyfest, then so vainely to write of it. What Divinitie hath so divinely expressed thereof unto us, ought of all men of understanding to be diligently and continualy meditated upon. Who seeth not, that I have entred so large a field, and undertaken so high a pitch, wherein so long as there is either Inke or Paper in the world, I may uncessantly wander and flie without encombrance? I can keepe no register of my life by my actions: fortune placeth them too lowe: I hould them of my fantasies. Yet have I seene a gentleman, who never communicated his life, but by the operations of his bellie; you might have seene in his house, set out for a show, a row of basins for seaven or eight dayes: It was all his studie; it was all his talke: All other discourses were unsavorie to him. These are somewhat more civile, the excrements of an ould spirite, sometimes hard, sometimes laxative; but ever indigested. And when shall I come unto an end of representing a continuall agitation, or uncessant alteration of my thoughts, what subject soever they happen upon; since Diomedes filled six thousand bookes onely with the subject of Grammar? what is idle babling like to produce, since the faltring and libertie of the tongue hath stuft the world with so horrible a multitude of volumes? So many wordes onely for wordes. Oh Pithagoras, why didst thou not conjüre this tempest? One Galba of former ages, being accused for living idlie; aunswered, that all men ought to give an accompt of their actions, but not of their abiding. He was deceived; for justice hath also knowledge and animadversion over such as gather stuble (as the common saying is) or looke about for gape-seed. But there should be some correction appointed by the lawes, against foolish and unprofitable writers, as there is against vagabonds and loyterers: so should both my selfe and a hundred others of our people be banished. It is no mockerie: Scribling seemeth to be a Symthome or passion of an irregular and licentious age. When writt wee ever so much as we have done since our intestine troubles? or when filled the Romaines so many volumes, as in the times of their ruine? Besides that, the refining of wits in a common wealth, doth seldome make them the wiser: this idle working proceedeth of this; that all men doe over-slowly give them selves to the office of their function, and are easily withdrawne from it. The corruption of the times we live in, is wrought by the particular contribution of every one of us: some conferre treason unto it, some injustice, other some irreligion, tyrannie, avarice and cruelty; according as they are more or lesse powerfull: the weaker sorte, whereof I am one, imparte foolishnesse, vanitie and idlenesse unto it. It seemeth to be the season of vaine things; when the domageable presse us. In a time, where to do evill is common: to do nothing profitable, is in a manner commendable. One thing comforts me, that I shall be of the last, that shall be attached: whilst they shall provide for the worser sorte and the most hurtfull, I shall have leasure to amend my selfe: For, me thinkes it would be agaynst reason busily to insist and pursue pettie inconveniences, when great ones infect us. And the Phisition Philotimus, to one that offred him his finger to dresse, by whose face, looke and breath he apparantly perceaved, that he had an impostume in his loonges; My friend (quoth he) It is now no fit time to busie your selfe about your nayles. Yet concerning this purpose, I sawe not many yeares since a friend of mine, whose name and memorie (for divers respects,) I hould in singular account, who in the midst of our troublous mischiefes: when, no more then at this time, neither lawe, nor justice, nor magistrate was executed or did his office, published certaine sillie reformations, concerning the excesse of apparall, gluttonie and diet, and abuses committed among pettie-fogging lawiers. They be ammusings wherewith a people in a desperate taking is fed, that so men may say they are not cleane forgotten. Even so doe these others, who mainely applie them selves to forbid certaine manners of speach, dances and vaine sportes, unto a people wholy given over to all licenciousnesse and execrable vices. It is then no convenient time for a man to wash and netifie himselfe, when he is assailed, by a violent fever. It onely belongs to Spartans, to tricke, to combe and wash themselves at what time they are readie to cast themselves into some extreame hazard of life. As for me, I am subject to this ill custome, that if but a pump sit not handsomly uppon my foote, I shall also neglect my shirt and my cloake: for I disdaine to correct my selfe by halses: when I am in bad estate, I flesh my selfe on evill and abandon my selfe through dispaire, and run to downefall, and (as the saying is) cast the hast after the hatchet. I grow obstinate in empairing; and esteeme my selfe no more worthie of my care, eyther all well or all evill. It is a favour to me, that the desolation of our state doth sutablie meet with the desolatiõ of my age: I rather endure that my evils should thereby be surcharged, then if my goods had thereby beene troubled. The wordes I utter agaynst misfortune, are wordes of spite. My courage insteede of yeelding, doth grow more obstinate; and contrarie to others, I finde my selfe more given to devotion, in prosperous then adverse fortune: according to Xenophons rule, if not according to his reason. And I rather looke on heaven with a chearefull eye, to thanke it, then to begge any thing. I am more carefull to increase my health when it smiles uppon me, then to recover it when I have lost it. Prosperities are to me as discipline and instruction, as adversities and crosses are to others. As if good fortune were incompatible with a good conscience, men never become honest but by adverse and crosse chances. Good fortune is to me a singular motive unto moderation, and forcible spurre unto modestie. Prayers winne me, menaces reject me, savoures relent me, feare imperverseth me. Amongst humane conditions, this one is verie common, that wee are rather pleased with strange things then with our owne: we love changes, affect alterations, and like innovations.
Ipsa dies ideo nos grato perluit haustu, Quod permutatis hora recurrit equis.
Times therefore us refresh with welcome ayre, Because their houres on chang’d horse doe repayre.
And my share is therein. Such as follow the other extremitie, onely to be well pleased with and in themselves; and selfe-conceitedly to over-esteeme what they possesse above others; and acknowledge no forme fayrer, then that they see; if they be not more advised then we, they are indeed more happy. I envie not their wisedome, but grudge their good fortune: This greedy humour of new and unquenchable desire of unknowne things, dooth much increase and nourish in me a desire to travell: but divers other circumstances conferre unto it. I am well pleased to neglect and shake-of the government of mine owne household. It is some pleasure to commaund, were it but over a mole-hill, and a delight to be obaied. But it is a pleasure over uniforme and languishing. Besides that it is ever necessarily entermixed with troublous cares, and hart-wearying thoughts. Sometimes the indigence and oppression of your owne people; sometimes the contentions and quarrels of your neighbours, and othertimes their insulting and usurpation over you, doth vexe, doth trouble and afflict you.
Aut uerberatæ grandine uineæ, Fundusque mendax, arbore nunc aquas Culpante, nunc torrentia agros Sydera, nunc hyemes iniquas.
Or Vineyards beate and wet with haile and raine, Or grounds defrauding hope, while trees complaine; Sometime of waters, sometime of those starres, That scorch the fields, sometime of winters warres.
And that God will hardly once in halfe a yeare send you a season, that shal throughly please your Bayly, and content your Receaver: and that if it be good for your vines, it be not hurtfull for your meddowes.
Aut nimiis torret feruoribus ætherius Sol, Aut subiti perimunt imbres, gelideque pruinæ, Flabràque uentorum uiolento turbine uexant.
Or with excessive heate heav’ns Sunne doth toast, Or sodaine stormes do kill, and chilling frost, Or violent whirle-winde blastes doe vexe the coast.
As that new and well-shapen shoe of that man of former ages, which hurts and wrings your foote: and that a stranger knowes not what it costes you, and what you contribute to maintaine the show of that order, which is seene in your housholde: and which peradventure you purchase at too high a rate. It was very late before I betooke my selfe to husbandrie. Those whom nature caused to be borne before me, have long time ridde me of that carefull burthen: I had alreadie taken another habite, more sutable to my complexion. Neverthelesse by that I have observed therein, I finde it to be rather a troublesome, then a hard occupation. Whosoever is capable of any other thing, may easily discharge that. If I would seeke to grow ritch; that way would seeme over-long and tedious to me: I would then have served our kings; a trade more beneficiall then all others; since I pretend but to get the reputation, that as I have gotten nothing, so have I not wasted any thing; sutable to the rest of my life; as unfit to effect any good, as improper to worke any evill of consequence: and that I onely seeke to weare out my life, I may (God be thanked) doe it without any great attention: if the worst come to passe, before povertie assaile you, seeke by prevention to cut of your charges, and by husbanding your expences keepe afore hand with it; that is it I trust unto, and hope to reforme my selfe before it come neare or enforce me to it. As for other matters, I have forestalled many degrees and established sundry wayes in my minde, to live and rubbe out with lesse then I have. I say to live with contentment. Non æstimatione census, uerum uictu atque cultu, terminatur pecuniæ modus. The measure of money is limited not by the estimate of wealth or place, but by the manner of living and other furniture. My very neede doth not so precisely possesse my whole estate, but that without touching to the quick or empairing the maine, fortune shal finde something to play upon, or take hould of. My very presence as ignorant and grim as it is, affordeth much helpe to my houshould affaires: I applie my selfe thereunto but somewhat dispightfully: considering the manner of my house, which is, that severally to burne my candle at one end, the other is thereby nothing spared. Travels do not much hurt me, were it not for the charges, which are exceeding great and beyond my ability: having ever bin accustomed to journey not onely with necessary, but also decent equipage: and that’s the reason I make but short jorneis and travel not to often: wherein I imploy but the scumme and what I can well spare, temporising and differing, according as it commeth more or lesse. I will not have the pleasure of my wandring, to corrupt the delight of my retiring. Contrary-wise my intent is, that they nourish and favor one another. Fortune hath steaded me in this; that since my chiefest profession in this life, was to live delicately and quietly, and rather negligently then seriously: it hath deprived me of neede to hoarde up riches, to provide for the multitude of my heires. For one, if that bee not sufficient for him, where with I have lived so plentiously, at his owne perill be it. His indiscretion shall not deserve, that I wish him more. And every man (according to the example of Phocion) provideth sufficiently for his children, that provideth they be not unlike to him. I should by no meanes be of Crates his minde, or commend his proceeding. He left his mony with a banquier upon this condition: That if his children were fooles, he should deliver it them: but prooving wise and able to shift for themselves, he should distribute the same amongst the greatest fooles. As if fooles, being least capable to make shift without it, were more capable to use riches. So it is, that the hurt proceeding from my absence, doeth not (in mine opinion) deserve, so long as I shall have meanes to beare it, I should refuse to accept the occasions that offer themselves, to distract me from this toylesome assistance. There is ever some peece out of square. Sometimes the businesse of one house, and other times the affaires of another, doe hurry you. You pry too neare into all things: herein, as well as els where, your perspicuity doth harme you. I steale from such occasions as may moove me to anger; and remoove from the knowledge of things, that thrive not: yet can I not so use the matter, but still I stumble (being at home) upon some inconvenience, which displeaseth me. And sleight knaveries, that are most hidden from me, are those I am best acquainted with. Some there are, which to avoyde a further mischiefe, a man must helpe to conceale himselfe: vaine prickings (vaine sometimes) but yet ever prickings. The least and sleightest hindrances, are the sharpest. And as the smallest letters hurt our eyes most, so the least affaires grieve us most: A multitude of slender evils, offendeth more, then the violence of one alone, how great soever. Even as ordinary thornes beeing smale and sharpe, prick us more sharpely and sans threatning, if on a sudaine we hit upon them. I am no Philosopher: Evils oppresse me according as they waigh; and waigh according to their forme, as well as according to the matter; and often more. I have more insight in them, then the vulgar sort; and so have I more pacience. To conclude, if they hurt me not, they lye heavy upon me. Life is a tender thing, and easie to be distempered. Since I beganne to grow towards peevish age, and by consequence toward frowardnesse, nemo enim resistit sibi cum ceperit impelli; For no man stayes himselfe when he is set on going. What ever fond cause hath brought me to it; I provoke the humour that waye: which afterward by his owne motion is fostred and exasperated, atracting and heaping up one matter upon another, to feede it selfe withall.
Stillicidii casus lapidem cauat:
By often falling on, Even water breakes a stone.
These ordinary distilling drops consume and ulcerate me. Ordinary inconveniences are never light. They are continuall and irreparable, if they continuallye and inseperatly aryse from the members of husbandry. When I consider my affaires a farre-off, and in grosse; I finde, be it because I have no exact memory of them, that hetherto they have thrived beyond my reasons and expectation. Me thinkes I drawe more from them, then there is in them: their good successe betrayeth me. But am I waded into the businesse? See I all these parcels march?
Tum uero in curas animum diducimus omnes.
Then we our minde devide, To cares on every side.
A thousand things therein give me cause to desire and feare. Wholy to forsake them is very easie unto me: without toyling and vexation altogether to apply my selfe unto them; is most hard. It is a pittyfull thing, to be in a place, where whatsover you see, doeth set you a worke and concerne you. And me thinkes, I enjoy more blithely and taste more choisely the pleasures of a stranger house, then of mine owne: and both my minde and taste runne more freely and purely on them. Diogenes answered according to my humor, when being demanded what kinde of Wine he liked best: Another mans, sayd he. My father delighted to build at Montaigne, where he was borne: and in all this policie of domestick affaires, I love to make use of his examples and rules; unto which I will as much as possiblie I can tye my successors. Could I doe better for him, I would performe it. I glory his will is at this day practised by me, and doth yet worke in me. God forbid I should ever suffer any image of life to perish under my handes, that I may yeelde unto so good and so kinde a father. If I have undertaken to finish any old peece of wall, or repaire any building eyther imperfect or decayde: it hath certainly beene, because I had rather a respect to his intention, then a regarde to my contentment. And I blame my negligence or lithernesse, that I have not continued to perfect the foundations he had layde, or beginnings he had leaft in his house: by so much the more, because I am in great likelyhood to be the last possessor of it, namely of my race, and set the last hand unto it. For, concerning my particular application, neither the pleasure of building, which is sayde to be so bewitching, nor hunting, nor hawking, nor gardines, nor such other delights of a retired life, can much embusie or greatly ammuse me. It is a thing for which I hate my selfe, as of all other opinions, that are incommodious to me. I care not so much to have them vigorous and learned, as I labour to have them easie and commodious unto life. They are indeed sufficiently true and sound, if they be profitable and pleasing. Those, who hearing me relate mine owne insufficiencie in matters pertaining to husbandry or thrift, are still whispring in mine eares, that it is but a kinde of disdaine, and that I neglect to knowe the implements or tooles belonging to husbandry or tillage, their seasons and orders; how my wines are made, how they graft; and understand or know the names and formes of hearbs, of simples, of frutes, and what belongs to the dressing of meates wherewith I live and whereon I feede; the names and prizes of such stuffes I clothe my selfe withall, onely because I doe more seriously take to hart some higher knowledge; bring me in a maner to deaths doore. That is meer sottishnes; and rather brutishnes then glory: I would rather be a cũning horseman, thẽ a good Logician.
Quin tu aliquid saltem potius quorum indigat usus, Uiminibus mollíque paras detexere iunco?
Why rather with soft wings make you not speed To worke-up somthing, whereof there is need?
We hinder our thoughts from the generall and maine point, and from the causes and universall conducts; which are very well directed without us; and omit our owne businesse; and Michaell, who concernes us nearer then man. Now I most commonly staye at home, but I would please my selfe better there, then any where els.
Sit meæ sedes utinam Senectæ, Sit modus lasso maris, et uiarum, Militiæque.
Some repaire and rest to mine olde age I craue, Journying, sailing, with a weary warring O let an end have.
I wote not whether I shall come to an end of it. I would that in liew of some other part of his succession, my father had resigned me that passionate love and deare affection, which in his aged yeares he bare unto his houshold husbandrie. He was very fortunate, in conforming his desires unto his fortune, and knew how to be pleased with what he had. Politike Philosophie may how it list accuse the basenesse and blame the sterilitie of my occupation, if as he did, I may but once finde the taste of it. I am of this opinion, that the honorablest vacation, is to serve the Common-wealth, and be profitable to many. Fructus enim ingenii et uirtutis, omnisque præstantiæ, tum maximus accipitur, quum in proximum quemque confertur. For then is most fruite reaped both of our witte and vertue, and all other excellencie, when it is bestowed upon our neighbours. As for me I departe from it: Partlye for conscience sake; (for whence I discerne the waight, concerning such vacations, I also discover the slender meanes I have to supply them withall: And Plato a maister workeman in all politike governement omitted not to abstaine from them) partlye for lithernesse. I am well pleased to enjoye the worlde, without troubling or pressing my selfe with it; to live a life, onelye excusable: and which may neyther bee burthensome to me, nor to any other. Never did man goe more plainelie and careleslie to worke in the care and governement of a third man, then I would, had I a ground to worke upon. One of my wishes at this instant, should be to finde a sonne in lawe, that could handsomlie allure and discreetly beguile my olde yeares, and lull them a sleepe; into whose hands I might depose, and in all soveraigntie resigne the conduct and managing of my goods; that he might dispose of them as I doe, and gaine upon them what I gaine: alwayes provided he would but carie a truely-thankfull and friendly minde. But what? we live in a worlde, where the loyaltie of our owne children is not knowne. Whosoever hath the charge of my purse when I travell, hath it freely and without controule: as well might he deceave me in keeping of reckonings. And if he be not a Divell, I binde him to deale well and honestly, by my carelesse confidence. Multi fallere docuerunt, dum timent falli, et aliis ius peccandi suspicando fecerunt. Many have taught others to deceave, while themselves feare to be deceaved, and have given them just cause to offend, by suspecting them unjustly. The most ordinarie assurance I take of my people, is a kinde of disacknowledge or neglect: I never presume vices, but after I have seene them: and trust more young men, such as I imagine to be least debaushed and corrupted by ill examples. I had rather heare at two moneths end, that I have spent foure hundred crownes, then every night when I should goe to my quiet bed, have mine eares tyred and my minde vexed with three, five, or seaven. Yet in this kinde of stealing, have I had as little stolne from me as any other: True it is, I lende a helping hand to ignorance. I wittinglye entertaine a kinde of troubled and uncertaine knowledge of my money: Untill it come to a certaine measure I am content to doubt of it. It is not amisse if you allowe your boye or servant some small scope for his disloyaltie and indiscretion. If in grosse wee have sufficientlie leaft to bring our matters to passe, this excesse of fortunes-liberalitie, let us somewhat more suffer it to stand to her mercie: It is the gleaners fee. After all I esteeme not so much my peoples fidelitie, as I disesteeme their injurie. Oh base and absurde studie, for a man to studye his money, and please himselfe with handling and coumpting the same: for that’s the waye whereby covetousnesse maketh hir approaches. Since eighteene yeares, that I have had the full disposing of my goods in mine owne hands, I could never yet be brought to over-looke, neyther titles nor bookes, no not so much as the principall affaires, that should necessarilie passe through my knowledge and care.
It is no Philosophicall contempt, to neglect worldly and transitorie things: my taste is not so exquisitelye nice; for I value them according to their worthe at least: but truelye it is an inexcusable sloathfulnesse and childish negligence. What would I not rather doe, then reade a contract? And more willinglye, as a slave to my businesse, with carke to over-looke, and care to survaye a companye of olde-dustie bookes, and plodde uppon mustie writings? and which is worse, other mens, as so many doe daylye for money? I have nothing so deare as care and paine: and I onely endevoure to become carelesse and retchlesse. I had, in mine opinion, beene fitter (if it might be) to live by others fortune, without bounden dutie or bondage. And yet I wotte not (the matter beeing throughly sifted) whether according to my humor and fortune, what I must endure with my affaires, and pocket up at my servants and familiars handes, hath not more abjection, importunitie and sharpenesse, then the following of another man should have, better borne then my selfe, and who should guide mee somewhat at mine ease. Seruitus obedientia est fracti animi et abiecti, arbitrio carentis suo: Service is an obedience of an abject broken hart, that cannot dispose of it selfe. Crates did woorse, who voluntarilye cast him selfe into the liberties of povertie, onely to ridde himselfe of the inconveniences, indignities and cares of his house. Which I would not doe: I hate povertie as much as griefe; yet could I finde in my harte to change this manner of life, with another lesse glorious and not so troublesome. Being absent, I discharge my selfe of all such carefull thoughts, and should lesse feele the ruinous downe-fall of a Towre, then being present, the fall of a Tile. Alone my minde is easilie freede, but in companie, it endureth as much as a Ploughmans. My horse uncurb’d, his reynes misplaced, or a stirop or a strap hitting against my legge, will keepe me in a check a whole day long. I rouze my courage sufficiently against inconvenience; mine eyes, I cannot.
Sensus ò superi sensus!
At home I am ever answerable for whatsoever is amisse. Few maisters, (I speake of meane condition, as mine is; whereof if any be, they are the more happy) can so fully rely upon a second, but still a good part of the burthen shall lie upon them. That doeth peradventure take something from my fashion, in entertaining of guestes or new commers; and happily I have beene able to stay some, more by my kitchin, then by my behaviour or grace: as doe the peevish and fantasticall; and I greatly diminish the pleasure I should take in my house, by the visitations and meetinges of my friendes. No countenance is so foolish, or so ill beseeming a gentleman in his owne house, as to see him vexed or troubled about his houshold or domesticke affaires; to see him whisper one of his servants in the eare, and threaten another with his lookes. It should insensibly glide-on, and represent an ordinarye course. And I utterly dislike, that a man should entertayne his guestes with eyther excusing, or boasting of the entertainement he affordeth them. I love order and cleanlinesse,
et cantharus et lanx, Ostendunt mihi me.
My dish, my drinking kanne, Show me what kinde of man.
well nigh as much as plenty: In mine owne house I exactly looke unto necessity, little unto state, and lesse unto ornament. If your neighbours servant be fighting with his companion, if a dish be overthrowne, you but laugh at it: you sleepe quietly whilest Sir such a one is busie casting up of accoumpts, and over seeing his stocke with his steward, and all about your provision for to morrow. I speake according to mine opinion: omitting not in generall to thinke, how pleasing an ammusement it is to certayne natures, to see a quiet and prosperous houshold, directed by a formall and guided by a regulare order. But not intending to fasten myne owne errors and inconveniences to the matter: Nor to gaine say Plato, who deemeth that the happiest occupation any man can follow, is, to apply himselfe to his owne private businesse, without injustice. When I journey, I have nothing to care for but my selfe, and how my mony is laide out: which is disposed with one onely precept. Over many partes are required in hoarding and gathering of goods: I have no skill in it. In spending, I have some knowledge, and how to give my expences day; which indeede is it’s principall use. But I attend it over ambitiously, which makes it both unequall and deformed: and besides that immoderate in one and other visage. If it appeare and make a good show, if it serve the turne, I indiscreetly goe after it; and as indiscretely restraine my selfe, if it shine or smile not uppon me. Whatsoever it bee, eyther arte or nature, that imprints this condition of life into us, by relation to others, it doeth us much more hurt then good. In going about to frame apparances according to the common oppinion, we defraude our selves of our owne profits. Wee care not so much, what our state, or how our beeing is, in us and in effect, as we doe how and what it is, in the publique knowledge of others. Even the goodes of the minde, and wisedome it selfe, seeme fruitelesse unto us, if onelye enjoyed by us: except it bee set foorth to the open view and approbation of strangers. There are some, whose golde runnes by streames in places underground, and that imperceptible: others extend the same in plates and leaves: So that to some, pence are worth crownes, to others the contrary: the worlde judging the employment and value, according to the outward showe. All over-nice care and curious heede about ritches, hath a touch or a taste of avarice. Even their dispending and over regulare and artificiall lyberalyties are not worthe a warye heede-taking, and countervayle not a paynefull diligence. Who so will make his expence even and just, makes it strict and forced. Eyther close-keeping or employing of monye, are in themselves thinges indifferent; and admitte no cullour of good or evill, but according to the applycation of our will. The other cause that drawes mee to these journeyes or vagaries, is the dissent or disparitie in the present manners of our state: I could easily comfort my selfe with this corruption, in regard of the publike interrest;
peioraque sæcula ferri, Temporibus, quorum sceleri non invenit ipsa Nomen, et a nullo posuit natura metallo.
Times worse then times of Iron, for whose bad frame And wickednesse ev’n nature findes no name, Nor hath from any metall set the same.
But not for mine owne: I am in particular over-pressed by it. For round about where I dwell, we are, by the over-long licentiousnes of our intestine civill warres almost growne ould, in so licentious and riotous a forme of state,
Quippe ubi fas uersum atque nefas;
As where of good and bad, There is no difference had.
That in good trueth, it were a wonder, if it should continue and maintaine it selfe.
Armati terram exercent, semperque recentes Conuectare inuat prædas, et uiuere rapto.
They armed plow the land, and joy to drive, And draw new booties, and on rapine live.
To conclude, I see by our example, that the societie of men doth hould and is sewed together, at what rate soever it be: where ever they be placed, in moving and closing, they are ranged and stowed together; as uneven and rugged bodies, that orderles are hudled in some close place, of them selves finde the way to be united and joyned together one with another: and many times better, then arte could have disposed them. King Philip assembled a rable of the most lewd reprobate and incorrigible men he could finde out, all which he placed in a Citie, which of purpose he had caused to be built for them, of whom it bare the name. I imagine, that even of their vices, they erected a politike contexture amongst themselves, and a commodious and just societie. I see not one action, or three, or a hundred, but even divers manners, admitted and commonly used: so extravagant (namely in disloyaltie) and so barbarous in inhumanitie, which in my conceite, are the worst and most execrable kinde of vices, that I have not the hart so much as to conceave them without horror: All which I in a manner admire as much as I detest. The exercise of these egregious villanies, beareth a brand of vigore and hardinesse of minde, as much as of error and irregular confusion. Necessitie composeth, and assembleth men together. This casuall combining is afterward framed into lawes. For, there have beene some as barbarously-savage, as humane opinion could possible produce, which notwithstanding have kept their bodies in as good health and state, in long life, as those of Plato or Aristotle could doe. And to say true, all these descriptions of policie, fained by arte and supposition, are found ridiculous and foolish, to be put in practise. These great and long-continuing altercations, about the best forme of societie, and most commodious rules to unite us together, are altercations onely proper for the exercise of our wit: As in artes, divers subjects are found, that have no essence but in agitation and disputing, without which they have no life at all. Such an Idea of policie, or picture of government, were to be established in a new world; but we take a world alreadie made and formed to certaine customes: we engender not the same as Pyrrha, nor beget it as Cadmus. By what meanes soever we have the priviledge to re-erect and range the same anew, we can very hardly wrest it from the accustomed habit and folde it hath taken, except we breake all. Solon being demaunded, whether he had established the best lawes he could for the Athenians: aunswered, yea of those they would have received: with such a shift doth Varro excuse him selfe; saying, that if he were newly to beginne to write of religion, he would plainely tell what his beleefe were of it: But being alreadie received, he will speake more of it according to custome, then to nature. Not to speake by opinion, but consonant to trueth, the most excellent and best policie, for any nation to observe, is that under which it hath maintained it selfe. It’s forme and essentiall commoditie doth much depend of custome. We are easily displeased with the present condition: yet do I hould that to wish the government of few, in a popular estate: or in a Monarchie, another kinde of policie, it is a manifest vice and meere follie.
Ayme l’ estat tel que tu le vois estre, S’il est royall, ayme la royautè, S’il est de peu, ou bien communautè, Ayme l’aussi, car Dieu t’y a faict naistre.
Love thou the state, as thou seest it to be, If it be Regall, love the royall race, If of a few, or common-weale, embrace It as it is; borne there God pointed thee.
So was the good Lorde of Pibrac wonte to speake of it, whome we have lately lost: a man of so quaint and rare witte, of so sound judgement and of so milde and affable behaviour. The untimely losse of whome, with that of the Lorde of Foix, both fatallie hapning to us at one time, are surelie losses of great consequence unto our crowne. I wotte not well, whether France, amongst all the men it hath leaft, is able to affoorde us two such other Gentlemen, as may eyther in sinceritie and worthe, or in sufficiencie and judgement, for the counsell of our Kings, matche these two Gascoynes. They were two mindes diverslie faire, and verily, if we respect the corrupted age wherein we live, both rare and gloriouslie-shining, every one in hir forme. But alas, what destinie had placed them on the Theater of this age, so dissonant and different in proportion from our deplorable corruption, and so farre from agreeing with our tumultuous stormes? Nothing dooth so neerelie touche and so much overlaye an estate, as innovation: Onelye change dooth give forme to injustice, and scope to tyrannie. If some one piece bee out of square, it may be underpropt: one may oppose himselfe against that, which the alteration, incident, and corruption, naturall to all things, dooth not too-much elonge and drawe us from our beginnings and grounded principles: But to undertake to re-errect and found againe so huge a masse, and change or remoove the foundations of so vaste a frame, belongeth onely to them, who in steed of purging, deface, and in liew of cleansing, scrape out: that will amende particular faultes by an universall confusion, and cure diseases by death: Non tam commutandurum quàm euertendarum rerum cupidi. Not so desirous to have things altered, as overthrowne. The worlde is fondlye unapt to cure it selfe: So impacient with that which vexeth or grieveth it, that it onely aymeth to ridde it selfe of it, never regarding at what rate. We see by a thousand examples, that it dooth ordinarilye cure it selfe at it’s owne charges: To be freede from a present evill, is no perfect cure, except there bee a generall amendment of condition. The ende of a skilfull Chirurgion, is not to mortifie the bad flesh, it is but the beginning and adressing of his cure: he aymeth further, that is, to make the naturall to growe againe, and reduce the party to his due beeing and quality. Whoever proposeth onely to remoove what gnaweth him, shall be to seeke: for good doth not necessarily succeede evill: another, yea a worse evill may succeede it. As it hapned unto Cesares murtherers, who brought the common-wealth to so distressefull a plunge, that they repented themselves, they ever medled with the same. The like hath since fortuned to dyvers, yea in our dayes. The French that live in my times, know very well what to speake of such matters. All violent changes and great alterations, disorder, distemper and shake a state very much. He that should rightly respect a sound recovery or absolute cure, and before al other things throughly consult about it, might happily grow slacke in the businesse, and beware how he set his hand unto it. Pacuvius Calavius corrected the vice of this manner of proceeding by a notable example. His fellow Citizens had mutined against their magistrates; He beeing a man of iminent authority in the Citty of Capua, found one daye the meanes to shut up the Senate in the Guildehall or Pallace, then calling the people together in the market place, tolde them; That the day was now come, wherein with full and unresisted liberty, they might take vengeance of the tyrants, that had so long and so many wayes oppressed them, all which hee had now at his mercye, alone and unarmed. His opinion was, that orderly by lots, they should be drawne out one after another: which done, they might particularly dispose of every one: and whatsoever should bee decreede of them, should imediatelye be executed uppon the place; provided they should therewithall presently advise and resolve to nominate and establish some honest and undetected man, to supplye the roome of the condemned, least their Cittie should remayne voyde of due officers. To which they graunted, and heard no sooner the name of a Senator read, but a loude exclamation of a generall discontent was raysed against him: which Pacuvius perceaving, he requested silence, and thus bespake them. My country-men, I see verye well, that man must be cut-off, hee is a pernicious and wicked member; but let us have another sound-good man in his place; and whome would you name for that purpose? This unexpected speech bred a distracted silence; each one finding himselfe to seeke and much confounded in the choise. Yet one, who was the bouldest-impudent amongst them, nominated one whom he thought fittest; who was no sooner heard, but a generall consent of voyces, louder then the first, followed, all refusing him: as one taxed with a hundred imperfections, lawfull causes and just objections, utterly to reject him. These contradicting humours growing more violent and whott, every one following his private grudge or affection, there ensued a farre greater confusion and hurlie-burly in drawing of the second and third Senator, and in naming and choosing their successors; about which they could never agree. As much disorder and more confusion about the election, as mutuall consent and agreement about the demission and displasing. About which tumultuous trouble, when they had long and to no end laboured and wearyed themselves, they began, some heare, some there, to scatter and steale-away from the assemblie: Every one with this resolution in his minde, that the ouldest and best knowne evill, is ever more tollerable, then a fresh and unexperienced mischiefe. By seeing our selves pitiouslie tossed in continuall agitation: for what have we not done?
Eheu cicatricum et sceleris pudet, Fratrúmque: quid nos dura refugimus Aetas? quid intactum nefasti Liquimus? unde manus iuuentus Metu Deorum continuit? quibus Pepercit aris?
Alas for shame of wickednesse, and scarres Of brother-country-men in civill warres. We of this hardned world, what doe we shunne? What have we execrable leaft undone? To set their hand whereto hath youth not dared For feare of Gods? what altars hath it spared?
I am not very suddaine in resolving or concluding.
ipsa si uelit salus, Seruare prorsus non potest hanc familiam;
This familie if safetie would Keepe safe, I doe not thinke it could.
Yet are we not peradventure come unto our last period. The preservation of states, is a thing in all likelyhood exceeding our understanding. A civill policie (as Plato saith) is a mightie and puissant matter, and of very harde and difficult dissolution; it often indureth against mortall and intestine diseases: yea against the injurie of unjust lawes, against tyrannie, against the ignorance and debordement of Magistrates, and against the licentiousnesse and sedition of the people. In all our fortunes, we compare our selves to that which is above us, and looke towarde those that are better. Let us measure our selves by that which is beneath us, there is no creature so miserablie-wretched, but findes a thousand examples to comforte himselfe withall. It is our faulte, that we more unwillinglie behould what is above us, then willinglie what is beneath us, And Solon sayde, that should a man heape up in one masse all evils together, there is none, that would not rather choose to carrie back with him such evils as he already hath, then come to a lawfull division with other men of that chaos of evils, and take his alotted share of them. Our Common-wealth is much crazed, and out of tune. Yet have divers others beene more dangerouslie-sick, and have not dyde. The Gods play at hand-ball with us, and tosse us up and downe on all hands. Enimuero Dii nos homines quasi pilas habent. The Gods perdye doe reckon and racket us men as their tennis-balles. The destinies have fatalie ordained the state of Rome, for an exemplare patterne of what they can do in this kind. It containeth in it selfe all formes and fortunes that concerne a state: whatsoever order, trouble, good or bad fortune may in any sorte effect in it. What man may justly dispaire of his condition, seeing the agitations, troubles, alterations, turmoyles and motions, wherewith it was tossed too and fro and which it indured? If the extension of rule, and farre-spredding domination, be the perfect health of a state, of which opinion I am not in any wise (and Isocrates dooth greatly please me, who instructeth Nicocles, not to envie those Princes, who have large dominations, but such as can well maintaine and orderly preserve those that have beene hereditarilie escheated unto them) that of Rome was never so sound, as when it was most sicke and distempered. The worste of it’s forme, was to it the most fortunate. A man can hardly distinguish or knowe the image of any policie under the first Emperors: it was the most horrible and turbulent confusion that could bee conceaved, which notwithstanding it endured and therein continued; preserving, not a Monarchie bounded in hir limites, but so many nations, so different, so distant, so evill affected, so confusedly commanded, and so unjustly conquered.
nec gentibus ullis Commodat in populum terræ pelagíque potentem, Inuidiam fortuna suam.
Fortune doth to no other nation lend Envie, against that people force to bend, Which both by land and sea their force extend.
All that shaketh doth not fall: The contexture of so vaste a frame houlds by more then one naile. It houlds by it’s antiquitie: as olde buildings, which age hath robbed of foundation, without loame or morter, and neuerthelesse live and subsist by their owne waight,
nec iam ualidis radicibus hærens Pondere tuta suo est.
Though now to no strong roote it sticke so fast, Yet is it safe by selfe-waight, and will last.
Moreover he goes not cunningly to worke, that onely survayes the flankes and dykes: to judge well of the strength of a place; he must heedily marke how, and view which way it may be approached, and in what state the assailant stands. Few vessels sinke with their owne waight, and without some extraordinary violence. Cast we our eyes about us, and in a generall survay consider all the world; all is tottring; all is out of frame. Take a perfect view of all great states both in Christendome and where ever els we have knowledge-of, and in all places you shall finde a most evident threatning of change and ruine;
Et sua sunt illis incommoda, parque per omnes Tempestas.
Their discommodities they knowe: One storme alike ore-all doth growe.
Astrologers may sport themselves, with warning us, as they doe of iminent alterations and succeeding revolutions: their divinations are present and palpable, wee need not prie into the heavens to finde them out. We are not only to drawe comfort, from this universall agregation of evils and threats; but also some hope for the continuance of our state: forsomuch as naturaly nothing falleth, where allthings fall: a generall disease is a particular health: Conformitie is a qualitie enemie to dissolution. As for me, I nothing dispaire of it, and me thinks I already perceave some starting hoales to save us by:
Deus hæc fortasse benigna Reducet in sedem uice.
It may be, God with gracious entercourse, Will re-establish these things in their course.
Who knowes, whether God hath determined it shall happen of them, as of bodies that are purged, and by long-grievous sickenesses brought to a better and sounder state; which throughly-purged diseases doe afterward yeeld them a more entire and purely-perfect health, then that they tooke from them? That which grieveth me most, is, that coumpting the symphtomes or affects of our evil, I see as many meerely proceeding of nature, and such as the heavens send us, and which may properly be termed theirs, as of those that our owne surfet, or excesse, or misdyet, or humane indiscretion confer upon us. The very Planets seeme orderly to declare unto us, that we have continued long enough, yea and beyond our ordinary limits. This also grieves me, that the nearest evill threatning us, is not a distemper or alteration in the whole and solide masse, but a dissipation and divulsion of it: the extreamest of our feares. And even in these fantasticall humors or dotings of mine, I feare the treason of my memorie, least unwarily it have made me to register some things twise. I hate to correct and agnize my selfe, and can never endure but grudgingly to review and repolish what once hath escaped my pen. I here set downe nothing that is new or lately found-out. They are vulgar imaginations; and which peradventure having bin conceaved a hundred times, I feare to have already enrouled them. Repetition is ever tedious, were it in Homer: But yrkesome in things, that have but one superficial and transitory show. I am nothing pleased with inculcation or wresting-in of matters, be it in profitable things, as in Seneca. And the maner of his Stoike schoole displeaseth me, which is, about every matter, to repeate at large, and from the beginning to the end, such principles and presuppositions, as serve in generall: and every hand-while to re-aledge anew the common arguments, and universall reasons. My memorie doth dayly growe worse and worse, and is of late much empaired:
Pocula lethæos ut si ducentia somnos. Arente fauce traxerim.
As though with drye lips I had drunke that up, Which drawes oblivions sleepe in drowsie cup.
I shall henceforward be faine (for hitherto thankes be to God, no capitall fault hath hapned) whereas others seeke time and occasion, to premeditate what they have to say, that I avoide to prepare my selfe, for feare I should tye my selfe to some strict bond, on which I must depend. To be bound and tide doth somwhat distract me: namely when I am wholy to relie and depend on so weake an instrument, as is my memorie. I never read this story, but I feele a certaine proper and naturall offence. Lyncestez being accused of a conspiracie against Alexander, the very same day, that according to custome, he was led forth in presence of all the armie, to be heard in his owne defence, had in his minde a premeditated oration, which he had studiouslie learn’t by rote, whereof, stammering and faltring, having uttered some words: And wrestling with his memory, and striving to run-it over againe, he was suddainly charged by the soldiers that were about him and slaine with pikes; as they who held him to be convicted. His amazement and silence, served them as a confession. For they supposed that having had so long leasure in prison to prepare himselfe, it was not (as they thought) his memory failed him, but his guiltie conscience bridled so his tongue and deprived him of his wonted faculties. It was truly wel spoken. The very place, the company and expectation astonieth a man, when he most aimeth at an ambition of well-speaking. What can a man doe, when a meere oration shall bring his life into consequence? As for me, if I be tide unto a prescript kinde of speaking, what bindes me to it, doth also loose me from it, when I have committed and wholly assigned my selfe unto my memory; I so strongly depend on the same, that I ouerwhelme it: she faints under her owne burthen. So much as I refer my selfe unto her, so much am I devided from my selfe: untill I make tryall of my countenance. And I have sometimes beene in paine, in concealing the bondage whereunto I was engaged: whereas my dissigne is, in speaking, to represent a maine carelesnesse of accent and countenance, suddaine and unpremeditated, or casuall motions as rising of present occasions; rather loving to say nothing of any worth, then make show I came provided to speake wel: a thing above all unseemely, to men of my profession, and of over strict an obligation, to one that cannot holde much: Preparation gives more to hope, then it brings with it. A man doth often strip himselfe into his doblet, to leape shorter, then he did in his gowne. Nihil est his, qui placere uolunt, tam aduersarium, quam expectatio. There is none so great an enemy to them that would please, as expectation. It is written of Curio the Orator, that when he proposed the distribution of the partes of his oration, into three or foure; or the number of his arguments and reasons, it was his ordinary custome, either to forget some one, or adde one or two more unto it. I have ever shunned to fall into such an inconvenience: as one hating these selfepromises and prescriptions: Not onely for the distrust of my memory; but also because this forme drawes over neare unto an artiste. Simpliciora militares decent. Plaine wordes and manners become Martialists. Sufficeth, I have now made a vow unto my selfe, no more to undertake the charge, to speake in any place of respect: For, to speake in reading what one hath written; besides that it is most foolish and absurde, it is a matter of great disadvantage to such as by nature were interressed or might do any thing in the action. And wholy to rely or cast my selfe to the mercy of my present invention, much lesse: I have it by nature so dull and troubled, that it cannot in any wise supply me in sudaine, and stead me in important necessities. May it please the gentle reader, to suffer this one part of Essay to runne on, and this third straine or addition of the rest of my pictures peeces. I adde, but I correct not: First, because he who hath hypothekised or engaged his labour to the world, I finde apparance, that he hath no longer right in the same: let him, if he be able, speake better els where, and not corrupt the worke he hath already made sale-off: Of such people, a man should buy nothing, but after they are dead: let them throughly thinke on it, before they produce the same. Who hastens them? My booke is alwayes one: except that according as the Printer goes about to renew it, that the buier depart not altogether empty-handed, I give my selfe law to adde thereto (as it is but uncoherent checkie, or ill joyned in-laid-worke) some supernumeral embleme. They are but over-waights, which disgrace not the first forme, but give some particular price unto every one of the succeeding, by an ambitious pettie subtility. Whence notwithstanding, it may easily happen, that some transposition of chronology is thereto commixt: my reportes taking place according to their opportunity, and not ever according to their age. Secondly, forsomuch as in regard of my selfe, I feare to loose by the exchange: My understanding doth not alwayes goe forward, it sometimes goes also backward: I in a manner distrust mine owne fantasies as much, though second or third, as I doe when they are the first; or present, as past. We many times correct our selves as foolishly, as we taxe others unadvisedly. I am growne aged by a number of yeares since my first publications, which were in a thousand five hundred and foure score. But I doubt whether I be encreased one inch in wisedome. My selfe now, and my selfe anon, are indeede two; but when better; in good sooth I cannot tell. It were a goodly thing to be olde, if we did onely march towardes amendment. It is the motion of a drunkard, stumbling, reeling, giddie-brain’d, formeles; or of reedes, which the ayre dooth casually wave to and fro, what way it bloweth. Antiochus in his youth, had stoutly and vehemently written in favor of the Academy; but being olde he changed copy, and writ as violently against it: which of the two I should follow, should I not ever follow Antiochus? Having once established a doubt, to attempt to confirme the certainty of humane opinions, were it not an establishing of a doubt, and not of the certainty? and promise, that had he had another age given him with assurance to live, he should ever have bin in termes of new agitations; not so much better, as other and different? Publike favor hath given me some more bouldnes, then I hoped for: but the thing I feare most, is to breed a glutting saciety. I would rather spur, then bee weary. As a wise man of my time hath done. Commendation is ever pleasing, frõ whom, from whence, or wherefore soever it come: yet ought a man to be informed of the cause, if he will justlie please and applaude himselfe therewith. Imperfections themselves have their meanes to be recommended. Vulgar and common estimation, is little happy if it come to encounter: And I am deceived, if in my dayes, the worst compositions and absurdest bookes have not gained the credit of popular breath. Verily I am much beholding to divers honest men, and I thanke them, that vouchsafe to take my endevours in good parte. There is no place where the deffects of the fashion doe so much appeare, as in a matter, that in it selfe hath nothing to recommend it. Good reader blame not me, for those that passe here, eyther by the fantazie or unwarinesse of others: for every hand, each workman, brings his owne unto them. I neither medle with orthographie (and would onely have them follow the ancient) nor with curious pointing: I have small experience in either. Where they altogether breake the sence, I little trouble my selfe therewith; for at least they discharge me. But where they will wrest-in and substitute a false sence (as often they do) and wyre-draw me to their conceits, then they spoile me. Neverthelesse, when the sentence is not strong or sinnowie according to my meaning, an honest man may reject it to be mine. He that shall know how little laborious I am and how framed after mine owne fashion, will easilie beleeve, I would rather endite anew, as many more other Essayes, then subject my selfe to trace these over againe, for this childish correction. I was saying erewhile, that being plunged in the deepest mine of this new kinde of mettall, I am not onely deprived of great familiarity with men of different customes from mine; and other opinions, by which they holde together by a knot, commanding all other knots: but am not also without some hazard, amongst those, with whome all things are equally lawfull: most of which cannot now a dayes empaire their market, towarde our justice: whence the extreame degree of licenciousnesse proceedeth. Casting over all the particulare circumstances that concerne me, I finde no one man of ours, to whome the inhibition of our lawes costeth any thing, eyther in gaine ceasing, or in losse appearing (as Lawyers say) more then unto my selfe. And some there be, that in chollericke heate and humourous furie will cracke and vaunte much, that will performe a great deale lesse then my selfe, if once wee come to an equall ballance. As a house at all times freely open, much frequented, of great haunte and officious in entertayning all sortes of people (for I could never bee induced, to make an implement of warre thereof: which I perceave much more willinglye to bee sought-out and flocked unto, where it is furthest from my neighbours) my house hath merited much popular affection: and it were a harde matter to gourmandize my selfe uppon mine owne dung-hill: And I repute it a wonderfull and exemplare strangenesse, that having undergone so many stormie-wrackes, so divers changes and tumultuous-neighbour agitations, it doth yet to this day continue free, and (as I may say) an undefiled virgine from shedding of blood, spoile or sacking. For, to say true, it was possible for a man of my disposition to escape from a constant and continuall forme, whatsoever it was. But the contrary invasions, hostile incursions, alternations and vicissitudes of fortune, round about me, have hetherto more exasperated, then mollified the humour of the countrie: and recharge me with dangers and invincible difficulties. I have escaped. But it greeveth me that it is rather by fortune: yea and by my discretion then by justice: And it vexeth me, to be without the protection of the lawes and under any other safegard, then theirs. As things now stand, I live more then halfe by the favour of others; which is a severe obligation. I would not be endebted for my safetie, neither to the goodnesse, nor to the goodwill of other great men, which applaude themselves with my libertie and legalitie; nor to the facilitie of my predecessors or mine owne manners: for, what if I were other then I am? If my demeanor, the libertie of my conversation, or happily alliance, binde my neighbours: It is a crueltie, that they should acquit themselves of it, in suffring me to live, and that they may say; we give him a free and and undisturbed continuation of devine service, in the chaple of his house, whilst all other Churches round about him, are by us prophaned and deserted; and we freely allowe and pardon him the fruition of his goods and use of his life, as he maintaineth our wives, and in time of neede keepeth our cattle. It is long since, that in my house, we have a share in Lycurgus the Athenians praise, who was the generall storier, depositarie and guardian of his fellow-cittizens goods and purses. I am now of opinion, that a man must live by lawe and aucthoritie, and not by recompence or grace. How many gallant men have rather made choise to loose their life, then bee indebted for the same? I shunne to submit my selfe to any manner of obligation. But above all, to that which bindes me by dutye of bondes of honour. I finde nothing so deare, as what is given me: and that because my will remaines engaged by a title of ingratitude: And I more willinglye receave such offices, as are to be sould. A thing easie to bee beleeved; for these I give nothing but money; but for those, I give my selfe. The bonde that houldes mee by the lawe of honestie, seemeth to mee much more urgent and forcible, then that of civill compulsion. I am more gentlye tide by a Notarie, then by my selfe. Is it not reason, that my conscience bee much more engaged to that, wherein shee hath simplie and onely beene trusted? Els, my faith oweth nothing; for shee hath had nothing lent hir. Let one helpe himselfe with the confidence or assurance he hath taken from me. I would much rather breake the prison of a wall or of the lawes, then the bonde of my worde. I am nicelie scrupulous in keeping of my promises, nay almost supersticious; and in all subiects I commonly passe them uncertaine and conditionall. To such as are of no waightie consequence, I adde force with the jealousie of my rule: shee rackes and chargeth me with hir owne interrest. Yea, in such enterprises as are altogether mine owne and free, if I speake the worde, or name the pointe, me thinkes I prescribe the same unto me: and that, to give it to anothers knowledge, it is to preordaine it unto himselfe. Me seemes I absolutly promise, when I speake it. Thus I make but small bragge of my propositions. The condemnation I make of my selfe, is more mooving, forcible and severe, then that of the judges, who onely take me by the countenance of common obligation: the constraint of my conscience is more rigorous and more strictly severe: I faintly followe those duties, to which I should be haled, if I did not goe to them. Hoc ipsum ita iustum est quod rectè fit, si uoluntarium. This is so just as it is well done, if it be voluntarie. If the action have no glimps of libertie, it hath neither grace nor honour.
Quod me ius cogit, uix uoluntate impetrent.
What law enforceth me to doe, By will they can scarse winne me to.
Where necessity drawes me, I love to relent my will. Quia quicquid imperio cogitur, exigenti magis, quam præstanti acceptum refertur. For whatsoeuer is enforced by command, is more imputed to him that exacteth then in him that performeth. I know some, that follow this aire, even unto injustice: They will rather give, then restore; sooner lend, then pay; and more sparingly doe good to him, to whome they are bound to doe it. I bend not that way, but am mainely against it. I love so much to disoblige and discharge my selfe, that I have somtimes esteemed as profit, the ingratitudes, the offences, and indignities I had received of those, to whom either by nature or accident, I was by way of friendship somewhat behoulding: taking the occasion of their fault for a quittance and discharge of my debt. Although I continue to pay them the apparant offices with common reason; I notwithstanding finde some sparing in doing that by justice, which I did by affection, and somwhat to ease my selfe with the attention and diligence of my inward will. Est prudentis sustinere ut cursum, sic impetum beneuolentiæ. It is a wisemans part to keepe a hand as on the course, so on the career of his goodwill: Which where ever I apply my selfe, is in me too urgent and over-pressing: at least for a man that by no meanes would be enthronged. Which husbandry standes me insteade of some comfort, about the imperfections of those that touch me. Indeede I am much displeased, they should thereby be of lesse worth: but so it is, that I also save something of my engagement and application towards them. I allow of him, that loves his childe so much the lesse, by how much more he is either deformedly crooked, or scald-headed: And not onely when he is knavish or shrewd, but also being unluckie or ill borne (for God himselfe hath in that abated of his worth and naturall estimation) alwayes provided, that in such a colde and sleight affection, he beare himselfe with moderation and exact justice. In me, proximity of blood doth nothing diminish, but rather aggravate defects. After all, according to the skill I have in the knowledge of benefites and thankefulnesse, which is a knowledge very subtill and of great use, I see no man more free and lesse endebted, then hitherto I am my selfe. What ever I owe, the same I owe simply to common and naturall obligations. There is no man more absolutely quit and cleare els whence.
nec sunt mihi nota potentum Munera.
With guifts I am not much acquainted, Of mighty men, and much lesse tainted.
Princes give me sufficiently, if they take nothing from me, and doe me much good, if they doe me no hurt: it is all I require of them. Oh how much am I behoulding to God, forsomuch as it hath pleased him, that whatsoever I enjoy, I have immediately receaved the same from his grace: that he hath particularly reserved all my debt unto himselfe. I most instantly beseech his sacred mercy, that I may never owe any man so much as one essentiall God-a-mercy. Oh thrise fortunate liberty, that hath brought me so farre. May it end successefully. I endevour to have no manner of need of any man. In me omnis spes est mihi. All my hope for all my helpe is my selfe. It is a thing that every man may effect in himselfe: but they more easily, whom God hath protected and sheltred from naturall and urgent necessities. Indeede it is both lamentable and dangerous, to depend of others. Our selves, which is the safest and most lawfull refuge, are not very sure under our selves. I have nothing that is mine owne, but my selfe: yet is the possession thereof partly defective and borrowed. I manure my selfe, both in courage (which is the stronger) and also in fortune, that if all things els should forsake me, I might finde some thing, wherewith to please and satisfie my selfe. Eleus Hippias did not onely store himselfe with learning, that in time of neede he might joyfullye withdraw himselfe amongst the Muses, and be sequestred from all other company: nor onely with the knowledge of Philosophy, to teach his minde to be contented with her, and when his chance should so dispose of him, manfully to passe over such incõmodities, as exteriorly might come unto him. But moreover he was so curious in learning to dresse his meate, to notte his haire, to make his clothes, breeches and shoees, that as much as could possible be, he might wholy rely and trust to himselfe and be freed from all forraine helpe. A man doth more freely and more blithely enjoy borrowed goods: when it is not a bounden jouissance and constrained through neede: and that a man hath in his will the powre, and in his fortune the meanes to live without them. I know my selfe well. But it is very hard for me to imagine any liberalitie of another body so pure towards me, or suppose any hospitalitie so free. so hartie and genuine, as would not seeme affected, tirranicall, disgraced and attended-on by reproche, if so were that necessitie had forced and tide me unto it. As to give is an ambicious qualitie, and of prerogative, so is taking a qualitie of submission. Witnesse the injurious and pickthanke refusall, that Baiazeth made of the presents which Themir had sent him. And those which in the behalfe of Soliman the Emperor were sent to the Emperor of Calicut, did so vexe him at the hart, that he did not onely utterly reject and scornfully refuse them; saying, that neither himselfe nor his predecessors before him, were accustomed to take anything, and that their office was rather to give; but besides he caused the Ambassadors, to that end sent unto him, to be cast into a deepe dungeon. When Thetis (saith Aristotle) flattreth Jupiter: when the Lacedemonians flatter the Athenians, they doe not thereby intend to put them in minde of the good they have done them, which is ever hatefull, but of the benefits they have receaved of them. Those I see familiarlie to employe and make use of all men, to begge and borrowe of all men, and engage themselves to all men, would doubtlesse never doe it, knew they as I doe, or tasted they as I have done, the sweete content of a pure and undepending libertie: and if therewithall (as a wiseman ought) they did duly ponder what it is for a man to engage himselfe into such an obligation, or libertie-depriving bond. It may happily be paide sometimes, But it can never be utterly dissolved. It is a cruell bondage, to him that loveth, throughly and by all meanes to have the free scope of his libertie. Such as are best and most acquainted with me, knowe, whether ever they sawe any man living, lesse soliciting, lesse craving, lesse importuning or lesse begging, then I am, or that lesse employeth or chargeth others, which if I be, and that beyond all moderne example, it is no great wonder, sithence so many parts of my humours or manners contribute thereunto. As a naturall kinde of stubbornesse; an impatience to be denide; a contraction of my desires and desseignes; and an insufficiencie or untowardlinesse in all manner of affaires; but above all, my most favoured qualities, lethall sloathfulnesse, and a genuine libertie. By all which meanes, I have framed an habite, mortally to hate, to be behoulding to any creature els, or to depend of other, then unto and of my selfe. True it is, that before I employe the beneficence or liberalitie of an other, in any light or waightie occasion, small or urgent neede soever: I doe to the utmost powre employe all that ever I am able, to avoide and forbeare it. My friends doe strangelie importune and molest me, when they sollicite and urge me to entreate a third man. And I deeme it a matter of no lesse charge and imputation, to disingage him that is endebted unto me, by making use of him, then to engage my selfe unto him that oweth me nothing. Both which conditions being removed, let them not looke for any combersome, negotious and carefull matter at my hands (for I have denounced open warre unto all manner of carke and care) I am commodiouslie easie and ready in times of any bodies necessitie. And I have also more avoyded to receive, then sought to give: which (as Aristotle saith) is also more facile. My fortune hath afforded me small meanes to benefite others and that little she hath bestowed me, the same hath she also meanely and indifferently placed. Had shee made me to be so borne, that I might have kept some ranke amongst men, I would then have beene ambicious in procuring to be beloved, but never to be feared or admired. Shall I expresse it more insolentlie? I would have had as much regarde unto pleasing, as unto profiting. Cyrus doth most wiselye, and by the mouth of an excellent Captaine and also a better Philosopher, esteeme his bountie and prise his good deedes, farre beyonde his valour and above his warlike conquests. And Scipio the elder, wheresoever he seeketh to prevaile and set forth himselfe, rateth his debonairitie and valueth his humanitie above his courage and beyond his victories: and hath ever this glorious saying in his mouth: That hee hath left his enemies as much cause to love him, as his friends. I will therefore say, that if a man must thus owe any thing, it ought to bee under a more lawfull title, then that whereof I speake, to which the lawe of this miserable warre dooth engage me; and not of so great a deabt, as that of my totall preservation and whole estate: which dooth unreparablie over-whelme mee. I have a thousand times gone to bedde in mine house, imagining I should the verye same night, eyther have beene betrayde or slaine in my bedde: compounding and conditioning with fortune, that it might be without apprehension of fearefull astonishment and languishment; And after my prayers, have cride out,
Impius hæc tam culta noualia miles habebit?
Shall these our grounds so deckt and drest By godlesse souldiers be possest?
What remedie? It is the place where my selfe and most of my ancestors were borne: therein have they placed their affection and their name. We harden our selves unto whatsoever we accustome our selves. And to a wretched condition, as ours is, custome hath beene a most favourable present, given us by nature, which enureth and lulleth our sense a sleepe, to the suffring of divers evils. Civill warres have this one thing worse, then other warres, to cause every one of us to make a watch-towre of his owne house.
Quàm miserum, porta uitam muróque tueri, Uixque suæ tutum uiribus esse domus!
How harde with gate and wall our life to garde, And scarce be safe in our owne houses barde!
It is an yrkesome extremitie, for one to be troubled and pressed even in his owne houshold and domesticall rest. The place wherein I dwell, is ever both the first and last to the batterie of our troubles: and where peace is never absolutely discerned,
Tum quoque cùm pax est, trepidant formidine belli.
Ev’n when in peace they are, They quake for feare of warre.
quoties pacem fortuna lacessit, Hac iter est bellis, melius fortuna dedisses Orbe sub Eoo sedem, gelidáque sub Arcto, Errantésque domos.
As oft as fortune troubleth peace, their race Warres makes this waye: fortune with better grace, In th’Esterne world thou shouldst have giv’n them place, Or wandring tents for warre, under the cold North-starre.
I somtimes draw the meanes to strengthen my selfe against these considerations, from carelesnesse and idlenesse: which also in some sort bring us unto resolution. It often befalleth me, with some pleasure, to imagine what mortall dangers are, and to expect them. I do even hood-winkt, with my head in my bosome and with stupiditie, plunge my selfe into death, without considering or knowing it, as into a deepe, hollow and bottomlesse abisse, which at one leape doth swallow me up, and at an instant doth cast me-into an eternall slumber, full of insipiditie and indolencie. And in these short, suddaine or violent deaths, the consequence I fore-see of them, affoordes me more comfort, then the effect of feare. They say, that even an life is not the best, because it is long, so death is the best, because it is short. I estrange not my selfe so much by being dead, as I enter into confidence with dying. I enwrap and shrowd my selfe in that storme, which shall blinde and furiouslie wrap me, with a ready and insensible charge. Yea if it hapned (as some gardners say) that those Roses and Violets are ever the sweeter and more odoriferous, that grow neere unto Garlike and Onions, forsomuch as they suck and draw all the ill savours of the ground unto them: so that these depraved natures, would drawe and sucke all the venome of mine ayre, and infection of my climate; and by their neerenesse unto me, make me so much the better and purer; that I might not lose all. That is not; but of this, something may be, forsomuch as goodnesse is the fairer and more attracting when it is rare, and that contrariety stifneth, and diversitie encloseth well-doing in it selfe, and by the jealousie of opposition and glory, it doth inflame it. Theeves and stealers (godamercie their kindnesse) have in particular nothing to say to me: no more have I to them. I should then have to do with over many sorts of men. Alike consciences lurke under divers kinds of garments: Alike crueltie, disloyaltie and stealing. And so much the worse, by how much it is more base, more safe and more secret under the coullour of lawes. I hate lesse an open-professed injurie, then a deceiving-traitrous wrong; an hostile and war-like, then a peacefull and lawfull. Our feaver hath seazed upon a body, which it hath not much empaired. The fire was in it, but now the flame hath taken hould of it. The reporte is greater; the hurt but little. I ordinarily answer such as demaund reasons for my voyages: That I knowe what I shunne, but wotte not what I seeke. If one tell mee, there may bee as little sound health amongst strangers, and that their manners are neither better nor purer, then ours: I answer first, that it is very harde:
Tam multa scelerum facies.
The formes so manifolde Of wickednesse we holde.
Secondly, that it is ever a gaine, to change a bad estate for an uncertaine. And that others evils, should not touch us so neare as ours. I will not forget this, that I can never mutinie so much against France, but I must needes looke on Paris with a favourable eye: It hath my hart from my infancie: whereof it hath befalne me as of excellent things: the more other faire and stately citties I have seene since, the more hir beautie hath powre and doth still usurpingly gaine upon my affection. I love that Cittie for hir owne sake, and more in hir onely subsisting and owne being, then when it is full-fraught and embellished with forraine pompe and borrowed garish ornaments: I love hir so tenderly, that even hir spots, hir blemishes and hir wartes are deare unto me. I am no perfect French-man, but by this great-matchlesse Cittie, great in people, great in regarde of the felicitie of hir situation; but above all, great and incomparable in varietie and diversitie of commodities: The glory of France, and one of the noblest and chiefe ornaments of the world. God of his mercie free hir, and chase away all our divisions from hir: Being entirely united to hirselfe, I finde hir defended from all other violence. I forewarne hir, that of all factions, that, shall be the worste, which shall breede discorde and sedition in hir. And for hir sake, I onely feare hir selfe. And surely, I am in as great feare for hir, as for any other parte of our state. So long as she shall continue, so long shall I never wante a home or retreate, to retire and shrowde my selfe at all times: a thing able to make me forget the regret of all other retreates. Not because Socrates hath sayde it, but because such is in truth my humour, and peradventure not without some excuse, to esteeme all men as my country-men; and as I kindlye embrace a Polonian as a Frenchman; postposing this naturall bonde, to universall and common. I am not greatlye strucken with the pleasantnesse of naturall ayre. Acquaintances altogether new and wholye mine, doe in my conceite countervaile the woorthe of all other vulgare and casuall acquaintances of our neighbours. Friendships meerely acquired by our selves, doe ordinarily exceede those, to which wee are joyned, eyther by communication of Climate, or affinity of blood. Nature hath plac’t us in the world, free and unbound, and wee emprison our selves into certaine streights: As the kings of Persia, who bound themselves never to drinke other water, then of the river Choaspez: foolishly renouncing all lawfull righ of use in all other waters: and for their regarde dried up all the rest of the world. What Socrates did in his latter dayes, to deeme a sentence of banishment worse, then a doome of death against himselfe, beeing of the minde I am now, I shall never be neither so base-minded, nor so strictly habituated in my country, that I would follow him. The celestial lives, have divers images, which I imbrace more by estimation, then by affection. And some to extraordinary, and so highly elevated, which because I am not able to conceive, I cannot embrace by estimatiõ. This humor was very tenderly appehended by him, who deemed al the world to be his Citty. True it is, he disdained peregrinations, and had not much set his foote beyond the territory of Athens. What, if he bewailed the mony his friend offered to lay out, to disingage his life, and refused to come out of prison, by the intercession of others, because he would not disobay the lawes, in a time wherin they were otherwise so corrupted? These examples are of the first kind for me. Of the second, there are others, which I could finde in the very same man. Many of these rare examples exceede the power of my action; but some exceede also the force of my judgement. Besides these reasons, I deeme travell to be a profitable exercise. The minde hath therein a continuall exercitation, to marke things unknowne, and note new objects. And as I have often saide, I know no better schoole, to fashion a mans life, then uncessantly to propose unto him the diversity of so many other mens lives, customes, humors and fantazies; and make him taste or apprehend one so perpetual variety of our natures shapes or formes. Therein the body is neither absolutly idle nor wholly troubled: and, that moderate agitation doth put him into breath. My selfe, as crazed with the chollicke as I am, can sit eight, yea sometimes ten houres on horse-backe, without wearinesse or tyring.
Vires ultra sortemque senectæ.
Beyond strength ordinary, Which olde yeares use to carry.
No weather is to me so contrary, as the scorching heate of the parching Sunne. For, these Umbrels or riding canapies, which since the ancient Romanes, the Italians use, doe more weary the armes, then ease the head. I would faine faine know what industry it was in the Persians, so anciently, and even in the infancie of luxuriousnesse (as Xenophon reporteth) to fanne themselves, and at their pleasures to make colde shades. I love rainy and durty weather, as duckes doe. The change eyther of aire or climate doth nothing distemper me. All heavens are alike to me, I am never vexed or beaten, but with internall alterations, such as I produce my selfe, which surprise and possesse me least in times of way-fairing. It is a hard matter to make mee resolve of any journy: but if I be once on the way, I hould out as long and as farre, as another. I strive as much in small, as I labour in great enterprises: and to prepare my selfe for a short journey or to visit a friend, as to undertake a farre-set voyage. I have learn’t to frame my journies after the Spanish fashion, all at once and out-right; great and reasonable. And in extreme heates, I travell by night, from Sunne-set to Sunne-rising. The other fashion, confusedly and in hast to baite by the way and dine, especially in Winter, when the dayes are so short, is both troublesome for man, and incommodious for horse. My jades are the better, and holde out longer. No horse did ever faile me, that held out the first dayes journey with me. I water them in all waters; and onely take care of their last watring, that before I come to myne Inne they have way enough to beate their water. My slothfulnesse to rise in the morning, alloweth such as follow mee sufficient leasure to dyne, before we take horse. As for me, I never feede over late: I commonly get an apetite in eating, and no otherwise: Iam never hungry but at the table. Some complaine, that beeing marryed, and well stroken in yeares I have enured my selfe, and beene pleased to continue this excercise. They doe me wrong: The best time for a man to leave his house, is when he hath so ordred and setled the same, that it may continue without him: and when hee hath so disposed his affaires, that they may answere the auncient course and wonted forme. It is much more indiscretion, and an argument of want of judgement, to goe from home, and leave no trustye guarde in his house, and which for lacke of care may be slowe or forgetfull in provyding for such necessities, as in your absence it may stand in neede of. The most profitable knowledge, and honourablest occupation for a matron or mother of a familie, is the occupation and knowledge of huswifery. I see divers covetous, but few huswives. It is the mistris-quality that all men should seeke after, and above all other indevour to finde: as the onely dowry, that serveth, eyther to ruine and overthrow, or to save and enrich our houses. Let no man speake to me of it; according as experience hath taught mee, I require in a marryed woman the oeconomicall vertue above all others. Wherein I would have her absolutely skilfull, since by my absence I commit the whole charge, and bequeath the full government of my houshold to her.
I see (and that to my griefe) in divers houses the maister or goodman come home at noone all weary, durty and dustie, with drudging and toyling about his businesse, when the mistris or good-wife, is either scarce up, or if she bee, she is yet in her closet, dressing, decking, smugging or trimming of her selfe. It is a thing onely fitting Queenes or Princes; whereof some doubt might be made. It is ridiculous that the idlenesse; and unjust that the lithernesse of our wives should bee fostered with our sweate and maintayned by our travell: No man (as neare as I can) shall fortune to have a more free and more absolute use, or a more quiet and more liquide fruition of his goods, then I have. If the husband bring matter; nature her selfe would have women to bring forme. Concerning dueties of wedlocke-friendship, which some happily imagine to be interressed or prejudiced by the husbands absence, I beleeve it not. Contrariwise, it is a kinde of intelligence, that easily growes colde by an over continuall assistance, and decayeth by assiduitie; for, to stand still at racke and manger breedeth a saciety. Every strange woman seemeth to us an honest woman: And all feele by experience, that a continuall seeing one another, can not possibly represent the pleasure, men take by parting and meeting againe. These interruptions fil me with a new kinde of affection, toward mine owne people, and yeild me the use of my house more pleasing: vicissitude dooth now and then en-earnest my minde towarde one, and then towarde another. I am not ignorant how true amitie hath armes long enough, to embrace, to claspe and hould from one corner of the worlde unto another: namely in this, where is a continuall communication of offices, that cause the obligation, and revive the remembrance thereof. The Stoikes say, that there is so great an affinitie and mutuall relation, betweene wise men, that he who dineth in France, feedeth his companion in Ægypt; and if one of them doe but houlde up his finger, where ever it be, all the wise men dispersed upon the habitable land, feele a kinde of ayde thereby. Jouissance and possession, appertaine chieflie unto imagination. It embraceth more earnestly and uncessantly what she goeth to fetch, then what we touche. Summon and coumpt all your dayly ammusements; and you shall finde, you are then furthest and most absent from your friend, when he is present with you. His assistance releaseth your attention, and giveth your thoughts libertie, at all times and upon every occasion, to absent themselves. If I be at Rome, or any where els, I hould, I survaye and governe my house and the commodities, which I have left about and in it. I even see my walles, my trees, my grasse and my rents, to stand, to growe, to decaye and to diminish, within an inche or two of that I should doe when I am at home.
Ante oculos errat domus, errat forma locorum.
My house is still before mine eyes, There still the forme of places lyes.
If we but onely enjoy what we touche, farewell our crownes when they are in our coafers, and adiew to our children, when they are abroade or a hunting; we would have them neerer. In the garden is it farre-off? within halfe a dayes journey? What, within tenne leagues, is it farre or neere? If it be neere: what is eleven, twelve, or thirteene? and so step by step. Verilie that woman who can prescribe unto hir husband, how many steps end that which is neere, and which step in number begins the distance she coumpts farre, I am of opinion, that she stay him betweene both.
excludat iurgia finis.
Let the conclusion, Exclude confusion.
Vtor permisso, caudæque pilos ut equinæ Paulatim uello: et demo unum, demo etiam unum Dum cadat elusus ratione ruentis acerui.
I use the graunt, and plucke by one and one The horse-taile haires, till when the bush is gone, I leave the Jade a curtall taile or none.
And let them bouldly call for Philosophie to helpe them. To whom some might reproche, since she neither discerneth the one nor other end of the joynt, betweene the overmuch and the little; the long and the short; the light and the heavie, the neare and the farre; since she neither knowes the beginning nor ending thereof, that she doth very uncertainly judge of the middle. Rerum natura nullam nobis dedit cognitionem finium: Nature hath affoorded us no knowledge of hir endes. Are they not yet wives and friendes of the deceased, that are not at the ende of this, but in the other world? we embrace both those that have beene, and those which are not yet, not onely the absent. We did not condition, when we were maried, continually to keepe our selves close-hugging one another, as some, I wotte not what, little creatures doe, we see daily; or as those bewitched people of Karenti, in a kinde of dogged manner. And a woman should not have hir eyes so greedily or so dotinglye fixed on hir husbands fore-parte, that if neede shall require, she may not view his hinder-partes. But might not the saying of that cunning Painter, who could so excellently set foorth their humours and pourtraye their conditions, fitlye be placed heare, lively to represent the cause of their complaintes?
Vxor, si cesses, aut te amare cogitat, Aut tete amari, aut potare, aut animo obsequi, Et tibi bene esse soli, cum sibi sit malè.
If you be slowe, your wife thinkes that in love you are, Or are belov’d, or drinke, or all for pleasure care, And that you onely fare-well, when she ill doth fare.
Or might it be, that opposition and contradiction doe naturally entertaine, and of themselves nourish them: and that they are sufficiently accomodated, provided they disturbe and incommode you? In truely-perfect friendship, wherein I presume to have some skill and well-grounded experience; I give my selfe more unto my friend, than I drawe him unto me. I doe not onely rather love to doe him good, then he should doe any to me; but also, that he should rather doe good unto himselfe, then unto me; For then doth he me most good, when he doth it to himselfe. And if absence be either pleasing or beneficiall unto him, it is to me much more pleasing, then his presence: and that may not properly be termed absence, where meanes and wayes may be found to enter-advertise one another. I have heretofore made good use, and reaped commoditie by our absence and distance. Wee better replenished the benefite, and extended further the possession of life, by being divided and farre-asunder: He lived, he rejoyced, and he saw for me, and I for him, as fully, as if he had beene present: Being together, one partie was idle: We confounded one another. The separation of the place, made the conjunction of our mindes and willes, the richer. This insatiate and greedie desire of corporall presence, doth somewhat accuse the weakenesse in the jouissance of soules. Concerning age, which some alleage against me, it is cleane contrarie. It is for youth, to subject and bondage it selfe to common opinions, and by force to constraine it selfe for others. It may fitte the turne of both; the people and it selfe: Wee have but overmuch to doe with our selves alone. According as naturall commodities faile us, let us sustaine our selves by artificiall meanes. It is injustice, to excuse youth in following her pleasures, and forbid age to devise and seek them. When I was yong, I concealed my wanton and covered my youthfull passions, with witte; and now being aged, I endevour to passe the sadde and incident to yeeres, with sport and debauches. Yet do Platoes lawes forbid men to travell abroade, before they are fortie or fiftie yeares of age, that so their travell may sort more profitable, and proove more instructive. I should more willingly consent to this other second article of the saide lawes, which forbiddeth men to wander abroade, after they are once three score. Of which age, few that travell farre-journeis returne home againe. What care I for that? I undertake it not, either to returne or to perfect the same. I onely undertake it to be in motion: So long as the motion pleaseth me, and I walke that I may walke. Those runne not, that runne after a Benefice or after a Hare: But they runne, that runne at barriers and to exercise their running. My desseigne is every where divisible, it is not grounded on great hopes: each day makes an end of it. Even so is my lifes voyage directed. Yet have I seene diverse far-countries, where I would have beene glad to have beene staied. Why not? If Chrysippus, Diogenes, Cleanthes, Antipater and Zeno, with so many other wise men of that roughly-severe, and severely-strict Sect forsooke their Countries (without just cause to bee offended with them) onely to enjoy another aire? Truely the greatest griefe of my peregrinations, is, that I cannot have a firme resolution, to establish my abiding where I would. And that I must ever resolve with my selfe to returne, for to accommodate my selfe unto common humours. If I should feare to die in any other place, then where I was borne; if I thought I should die at my ease, farre from mine owne people: I would hardly goe out of France, nay I should scarcely goe out of mine owne parish, without feeling some dismay. I feele death ever pinching mee by the throate, or pulling me by the backe: But I am of an other mould; to me it is ever one, and at all times the same. Neverthelesse if I were to chuse, I thinke it should rather be on horsebacke, than in a bed; from my home, and farre from my friends. There is more hartssorrow, than comfort, in taking ones last farewell of his friends. I doe easily forget or neglect these dueties or complements of our common or civill curtesie. For, of Offices appertaining to unaffected amitie, the same is the most displeasing and offensive: And I should as willingly forget to give a body that great adiew, or eternall farewell. If a bodie reape any commoditie by this assistance, he also findes infinite inconveniences in it. I have seene diverse die most pitteously, compassed and beset round with their friends and servantes: Such multitudes and thronging of people doth stifle them. It is against reason, and a testimonie of small affection, and little care they have of you should die at rest. One offendeth your eyes, another molesteth your eares, the third vexeth your mouth: You have neither sense nor limme, or parte of your body, but is tormented and grieved. Your heart is ready to burst for pittie, to heare your friends moanes and complaints; and to rive asunder with spite, to heare peradventure some of their wailings and moans, that are but fained and counterfet. If a man have ever had a milde or tender nature, being weake and ready to die, he must then necessarily have it more tender and relenting. It is most requisite, that in so urgent a necessitie, one have a gentle hand and fitly applied to his sences, to scratch him where he itcheth; or else he ought not be clawed at all. If wee must needes have the helpe of a Midwife, to bring us into this world, there is reason we should also have the ayding-hand of a wise man, to deliver us out of the same. Such a one, and therewithall a true friend, should a man before-hand purchase verie deare, onely for the service of such an occasion. I am not yet come to that disdainfull vigor, which so fortifieth it selfe, that at such times nothing aydeth, nor nothing troubleth: I flie a lower pitch. I seeke to squat my selfe, and steale from that passage: not by feare, but by Art. My intent is not in such an action, to make either triall or shew of my constancie. Wherefore? Because, then shall the right and interest I have in reputation cease. I am content with a death united in it selfe, quiet and solitarie, wholie mine, convenient to my retired and private life. Cleane contrary to the Roman superstition, where hee was judged unhappy, that died without speaking, and had not his neerest friendes to close his eyes. I have much adoe to comfort my selfe, without being troubled to comfort others: cares and vexations enow in my minde, without needing circumstances to bring me new; and sufficient matter to entertaine my self, without borrowing any. This share belongs not to the part of societie: It is the act of one man alone. Let us live, laugh and be merry amongst our friendes, but die and yeelde up the ghost amongst strangers, and such as we knowe not. Hee who hath money in his purse, shall ever finde some ready to turne his head, make his bedde, rubbe his feet, attend him, and that will trouble and importune him no longer, than he list: and wil ever shew him an indifferent and well-composed countenance, and without grumbling or grudging give a man leave to doe what he please, and complaine as he list. I daily endevour by discourse to shake-off this childish humour and inhumane conceit, which causeth, that by our griefes and paines we ever desire to moove our friends to compassion and sorrowe for us, and with a kinde of sympathie to condole our miseries and passions. We endeare our inconveniences beyond measure, to extract teares from them: And the constancie we so much commend in all others, undauntedly to endure all evill fortunes; we accuse and upbraide to our neerest alies, when they molest us: we are not contented they should have a sensible feeling of our calamities; if they doe not also afflict themselves for them. A man should as much as he can set foorth and extend his joy; but to the utmost of his power, suppresse and abridge his sorrowe. He that will causlesly be moaned, and sans reason, deserveth not to be pittied when he shall have cause and reason for it. To be ever complaining and alwayes moaning, is the way never to be moaned and seldome to be pittied: and so often to seeme over-passionately-pittifull, is the meane to make no man feelingly-ruthfull towards others. He that makes himselfe dead being alive, is subject to be accompted alive when he is dying. I have seene some take pepper in the nose, forsomuch as they were tolde that they had a cheerfull countenance; that they looked wel; that they had a temperate pulse: to force laughter, because some betraide their recoverie: and hate their health, because it was not regreetable. And which is more, they were no women. I for the most, represent my infirmities such as they are: And shunne such wordes as are of evill presage, and avoyde composed exclamations. If not glee and mirth, at least an orderly-setled countenance of the by-standers and assistants, is sufficiently-convenient to a wise and discreete sicke-man, who though he see himselfe in a contrary state, he will not picke a quarrell with health. He is pleased to behold the same, sound and strong in others; and at least for company-sake to enjoy his part of it. Though he feele and find himselfe to faint and sincke downe, he doth not altogether reject the conceits and imaginations of life, nor doth he avoyd common entertainements. I will studie sicknesse when I am in health: when it comes, it wil really enough make hir impression, without the help of my imagination. We deliberatly prepare our selves before-hand for any voyage we undertake, and therein are resolved: the houre is set when we will take horse, and we give it to our company, in whose favour we extend it. I finde this unexpected profit by the publication of my manners, that in some sort it serveth me for a rule. I am sometimes surprized with this consideration, not to betray the historie of my life. This publike declaration, bindes me to keepe my selfe within my course, and not to contradict the image of my conditions: commonly lesse disfigured and gaine-saied, then the malignitie and infirmitie of moderne judgements doth beare. The uniformitie and singlenesse of my manners, produceth a visage of easie interpretation; but because the fashion of them is somewhat new and strange, and out of use, it giveth detraction to faire play. Yet is it true, that to him, who will goe about loyally to injure me, me thinkes I do sufficiently affoorde him matter, whereby he may detract and snarle at my avowed and knowne imperfections, and wherewith hee may be satisfied, without vaine contending and idle skirmishing. If my-selfe by preoccupating his discoverie and accusation, hee thinkes I barre him of his snarling, it is good reason hee take his right, towards amplification and extension: Offence hath her rights beyond justice: And that the vices, whereof I shew him the rootes in me, he should amplifie them to trees. Let him not onely employ thereunto those that possesse me, but those which but threaten mee. Injurious vices both in qualitie and in number. Let him beate me that way. I should willingly embrace the example of Dion the Philosopher. Antigonus going about to scoffe and quip at him touching his birth and of-spring, hee interrupted him and tooke the word out of his mouth: I am (saide he) the sonne of a bondslave, a butcher, branded for a rogue, and of a whoore, whome my father by reason of his base fortune, tooke to wife: Both were punished for some misdeede. Being a childe, an Orator bought me as a slave, liking me for my beautie and comelinesse; and dying, left mee all his goodes; which having transported into this cittie of Athens, I have applied my selfe unto Philosophie. Let not Historians busie themselves in seeking newes of mee. I will at large blazon my selfe, and plainely tell them the whole discourse. A generous and free-minded confession doth disable a reproch and disarme an injurie. So it is, that when all Cardes be tolde, me seemes, that I am as oft commended as dispraised beyond reason. As also me thinks, that even from my infancie, both in ranke and degree of honour, I have had place given me, rather above and more, than lesse and beneath that which appertained to mee. I should better like to be in a countrie, where these orders might either be reformed or contemned. Amongest men, after that striving or altercation for the prerogative or upper hand in going or sitting, exceedeth three replies, it becommeth incivill. I neither feare to yeelde and give place, nor to follow and proceede unjustly, so I may avoyde such yrkesome and importunate contestations. And never did man desire precedencie or place before me, but I quitted the same without grudging. Besides the profite I reape by writing of my selfe, I have hoped for this other, that if ever it might happen my humours should please or sympathize with some honest man, he would before my death seeke to be acquainted with me, or to overtake mee. I have given him much ground: For, whatsoever a long acquaintance or continuall familiaritie might have gained him in many wearisome yeares, the same hath hee in three dayes fully seene in this Register; and that more safely and more exactly. A pleasant fantasie is this of mine; many things I would be loath to tell a particular man, I utter to the whole worlde. And concerning my most secret thoughts and inward knowledge, I send my dearest friends to a Stationers shop.
Excutienda damus præcordia.
Our very entrailes wee, Lay foorth for you to see.
If by so good markes and tokens, I had ever knowne or heard of any one man, that in this humour had beene answerable to me, I would assuredly have wandred very farre to finde him out: For, the exceeding joy of a sortable and in one consent-agreeing company, cannot (in mine opinion) be sufficiently endeared or purchased at too high a rate. Oh God! who can expresse the value or conceive the true worth of a friend? How true is that ancient golden saying, that the use of a friend is more necessary and pleasing, then of the elements, water and fire. But to returne to my former discourse: There is then no great inconvenience in dying farre from home and abroad. We esteeme it a part of duty and decencie to withdraw our selves for naturall actions, lesse hideous and lesse disgracefull then this. But also those that come unto that, in languishing maner to draw a long space of life, should not happily wish with their miserie to trouble a whole family. Therefore did the Indians of a certaine countrie deeme it just and lawfull, to kill him that should fall into such necessitie. And in another of their Provinces, they thought-it meete to forsake him, and as well as hee could leave him alone to seeke to save himselfe. To whom at last, proove they not themselves tedious and intolerable? Common offices proceede not so farre. Perforce you teach crueltie unto your best friends; obdurating by long use, both wife and children, not to feele, nor to conceive, nor to moane your evills any longer. The groanes and outcries of my chollike, cause no more ruth and wailing in any body. And should we conceive pleasure by their conversation (which seldome hapneth, by reason of the disparitie of conditions, which easily produceth either contempt or envy towardes what man soever) is it not too-too much, therewith to abuse a whole age? The more I should see them with a good heart to straine themselves for me, the more should I bewaile their paine. The law of curtesie alloweth us to leane upon others, but not so unmanerly to lie upon them and underpropt our selves in their ruine. As hee who caused little infants to be slaine, that with their innocent blood he might be cured of a malady he had. Or another who was continually stored with yong tendrels or lasses, to keepe his old-frozen limbs warme a nights, and entermix the sweetenesse of their breath with his old-stinking and offensive vapours. Decrepitude is a solitarie qualitie. I am sociable even unto excesse, yet doe I thinke it reasonable, at last to substract my opportunitie from the sight of the world, and hatch it in my selfe. Let me shrowd and shrugge my selfe into my shell, as a tortoise: and learne to see men, without taking hold of them. I should outrage them in so steepy a passage. It is now high time to turne from the company. But here will some say, that in their farre journies you may peradventure fall into some miserable dog-hole or poore cottage, where you shall want all needefull things. To whom I answere, that for things most necessary in such cases, I ever carry most of them with me: And that, where-ever we are, we cannot possibly avoide fortune, if she once take upon her to persecute us. When I am sicke, I want nothing that is extraordinarie: what nature cannot worke in me, I will not have a Bolus, or a glister to effect. At the very beginning of my agues or sickenesses that cast me downe, whilst I am yet whole in my senses and neere unto health, I reconcile my selfe to God by the last duties of a Christian; whereby I finde my selfe free and discharged; and thinke I have so much more reason and authoritie over my sickenesse. I finde lesse want of Notaries and counsell, then of Phisitions. What I have not disposed of my affaires or settled of my state when I was in perfect health, let none expect I should doe it being sicke. Whatever I will doe for the service of death, is alwayes ready doone. I dare not delay it one onely day. And if nothing be done, it is as much to say, that either some doubt hath delaide the choise: For, sometimes it is a good choise, not to chuse at all: Or that absolutely I never intended to doe any thing. I write my booke to few men, and to few yeares. Had it beene a matter of lasting continuance, it should have beene compiled in a better and more polished language: According to the continuall variation, that hitherto hath followed our French tongue. Who may hope, that it’s present forme shall be in use fiftie yeares hence? It dayly changeth and slips our hands: and since I could speake the same, it is much altred and well nigh halfe varied. We say it is now come to a full perfection. There is no age but saith as much of hirs. It lies not in my power, so long as it glideth and differeth and altereth as it doth, to keepe it at a stay. It is for excellent and profitable compositions to fasten it unto them, whose credite shall either diminish or encrease, according to the fortune of our state. For all that, I feare not to insert therein divers private articles, whose use is consumed amongst men living now adayes: and which concerne the particular knowledge of some, that shall further see into it, then with a common understanding. When all is done, I would not (as I often see the memory of the deceased tossed too and fro) that men should descant and argue: Thus and thus he judged; thus he lived; thus he meant: had hee spoken when his life left him, hee would have given I wot what: There is no man knew him better then my selfe. Now, as much as modestie and decorum doth permit me; I heere give a taste of my inclinations and an essay of my affections: which I doe more freely and more willingly by word of mouth, to any that shall desire to be throughly informed of them. But so it is, that if any man shall looke into these memorialls, he shall finde, that either I have saide all, or desseigned all. What I cannot expresse, the same I point-at with my finger.
Uerum animo satis hæc uestigia parua sagaci Sunt, per quæ possis cognoscere cætera tute.
But this small footing to a quicke-sent minde May serve, whereby safely the rest to finde.
I leave nothing to be desired or divined of mee. If one must entertaine himselfe with them, I would have it to be truely and justly. I would willingly come from the other world, to give him the lie, that should frame me other then I had beene: were it he meant to honour me. I see that of the living, men never speake according to truth; and they are ever made to be, what they are not. And if with might and maine, I had not upheld a frind of mine whom I have lately lost, he had surely bin mangled and torne in a thousand contrary shapes. But to make an end of my weake humours: I confesse, that in travelling I seldome alight in any place or come to any Inne, but first of all I cast in my minde whether I may conveniently lie there, if I should chance to fall sicke; or dying, die at my ease and take my death quietly. I will, as neere as I can, be lodged in some convenient part of the house, and in particular from all noise or stinking savours; in no close, filthy or smoaky chamber. I seeke to flatter death by these frivolous circumstances: Or as I may rather say, to discharge my selfe from all other trouble or encombrance; that so I may wholy apply and attend her, who without that shall happily lie very heavy upon me. I will have her take a full share of my lives eases and commodities; it is a great part of it and of much consequence, and I hope it shall not belie what is past. Death hath some formes more easie then others, and assumeth divers qualities; according to all mens fantazies. Among the naturall-ones, that proceeding of weakenesse and heavy dulnesse, to me seemeth gentle and pleasant. Among the violent, I imagine a precipice more hardly, then a ruine that overwhelmes me: and a cutting blow with a sword, then a shot of an harquebuse: and I would rather have chosen to drinke the potion of Socrates, then wound my selfe as Cato did. And though it be all one, yet doeth my imagination perceive a difference, as much as is betweene death and life, to cast my selfe into a burning furnace, or in the channell of a shallow river. So foolishly doth our feare respect more the meane, then the effect. It is but one instant; but of such moment, that to passe the same according to my desire, I would willingly renounce many of my lives-dayes. Since all mens fantazies, finde either excesse or diminution in her sharpensse; since every man hath some choise betweene the formes of dying, let us trie a little further, whether we can finde out some one, free from all sorrow and griefe. Might not one also make it seeme voluptuous, as did those who died with Anthonie and Cleopatra? I omit to speake of the sharpe and exemplar efforts, that philosophie and religion produce. But amongst men of no great fame, some have beene found (as one Petronius, and one Tigillinus at Rome) engaged to make themselves away, who by the tendernesse of their preparations have in a maner lulled the same asleepe. They have made it passe and glide away, even in the midst of the securitie of their accustomed pastimes and wanton recreations: Amongst harlets and good fellowes; no speech of comfort, no mention of will or testament, no ambicious affectation of constancie, no discourse of their future condition, no compunction of sinnes committed, no apprehension of their soules-health, ever troubling them; amid sports, playes, banketting, surfetting, chambring, jesting, musicke and singing of amorous verses: and all such popular and common entertainments. Might not wee imitate this maner of resolution in more honest affaires and more commendable attempts? And since there are deaths good unto wise men and good unto fooles, let us finde some one that may be good unto such as are betweene both. My imagination presents me some easie and milde countenance thereof, and (since we must all die) to be desired. The tyrants of Rome have thought, they gave that criminall offender his life, to whom they gave the free choise of death. But Theophrastus a Philosopher so delicate, so modest and so wise, was he not forced by reason, to dare to utter this verse, latinized by Cicero:
Vitam regit fortuna non sapientia.
Fortune our life doth rule, Not wisedome of the schoole.
Fortune giveth the facilitie of my lives-condition some aide; having placed it in such a time, wherein it is neither needefull nor combersome unto my people. It is a condition I would have accepted in all the seasons of my age: but in this occasion to trusse up bag and baggage, and take up my bed and walke: I am particularly pleased, that when I shall die, I shall neither breede pleasure nor cause sorrow in them. She hath caused (which is the recompence of an artist) that such as by my death may pretend any materiall benefite, receive thereby elsewhere, joyntly a materiall losse and hinderance. Death lies sometimes heavie upon us, in that it is burthensome to others: and interesseth us with their interest, almost as much as with ours: and somtimes more; yea altogether. In this inconveniencie of lodging that I seeke, I neither entermix pompe nor amplitude; For, I rather hate it. But a certaine simple and homely proprietie, which is commonly found in places where lesse Art is, and that nature honoureth with some grace peculiar unto her selfe. Non ampliter sed munditer conuiuium. Plus salis quàm sumptus. Not a great, but a neate feast. More conceite then cost.
And then, it is for those, who by their wrgent affaires are compelled to travell in the midst of deepe Winter, and amongest the Grisons, to be surprized by such extreamities in their journies. But I, who for the most part never travell, but for pleasure, will neither bee so ill advised, nor so simply guided. If the way be fowle on my right hand, I take the left: If I find my selfe ill at ease or unfit to ride, I stay at home. Which doing, and observing this course, in very truth I see no place, and come no where, that is not as pleasant, as convenient and as commodious as mine owne house. True it is, that I ever finde superfluitie superfluous: and observe a kinde of empeachment in delicatenesse and plenty. Have I ommitted or left any thing behind me that was worth the seeing? I returne backe; It is ever my way, I am never out of it. I trace no certaine line, neither right nor crooked. Comming to any strange place, finde I not what was tould mee? As it often fortuneth, that others judgements agree not with mine, and have most times found them false, I grieve not at my labour: I have learned that what was reported to be there, is not. I have my bodies complexion as free, and my taste as common, as any man in the world. The diversitie of fashions betweene one and other nations, concerneth me nothing, but by the varieties-pleasure. Each custome hath his reason. Be the trenchers or dishes of wood, of pewter or of earth; be my meate boyled, rosted or baked; butter or oyle, and that of Olives or of Wall-nuts; hot or colde; I make no difference; all is one to me: And as one, that is growing old, I accuse the generous facultie; and had neede that delicatenesse and choise, should stay the indiscretion of my appetite, and sometime ease and solace my stomake. When I have beene out of France, and that to do me curtesie, some have asked me, whether I would be served after the French maner, I have jested at them, and have ever thrust-in amongest the thickest tables and fullest of strangers. I am ashamed to see our men besotted with this foolish humor, to fret and chafe, when they see any fashions contrary to theirs. They thinke themselves out of their element, when they are out of their Village. Where ever they come, they keepe their owne countrie fashions, and hate, yea and abhorre all strange maners: Meete they a Countriman of theirs in Hungarie, they feast that good fortune: And what doe they? Marry close and joine together, to blame, to condemne and to scorne so many barbarous fashions as they see. And why not Barbarous, since not French? Nay happly they are the better sort of men, that have noted and so much exclaimed against them. Most take going out but for comming home. They travell close and covered, with a silent and incommunicable wit, defending themselves from the contagion of some unknowne ayre. What I speake of such, puts mee in minde in the like matter, of that I have heretofore perceived in some of your yong Courtiers. They onely converse with men of their coate; and with disdaine or pitty looke upon us, as if we were men of another World. Take away their new-fangled, mysterious and affected courtly complements, and they are out of their byase. As farre to seeke and short of us, as we of them. That saying is true; That An honest man is a man compounded. Cleane contrary, I travell fully glutted with out fashions: Not to seeke Gaskoines in Sicilie; I have left over manie at home. I rather seeke for Græcians and Persians: Those I accost, them I consider, and with such I endevor to be acquainted: to that I prepare and therein I employ my selfe. And which is more, me seemeth, I have not met with many maners, that are not worth ours. Indeede I have not wandred farre, scarsly have I lost the sight of our Chimnies. Moreover, most of the casuall companies you meete withall by the way, have more incommoditie than pleasure: a matter I doe not greatly take hold of, and lesse now that age doeth particularize and in some sorte sequester me from common formes. You suffer for other, or others endure for you. The one inconvenience is yrksome, the other troublesome: but yet the last is (in my conceipt) more rude. It is a rare chaunce and seld-seene fortune, but of exceeding solace and inestimable worth, to have an honest man, of singular experience, of a sound judgement, of a resolute understanding and constant resolution, and of maners comformable to yours, to accompany or follow you with a good will. I have found great want of such a one in all my voyages. Which company a man must seek with discretion and with great heed obtaine, before he wander from home. With me no pleasure is fully delightsome without communication; and no delight absolute, except imparted. I do not so much as apprehend one rare conceipt, or conceive one excellent good thought in my minde, but me thinks I am much grieved and grievously perplexed, to have produced the same alone, and that I have no simpathizyng companion to impart it unto. Si cum hac exceptione detur sapientia, ut illam inclusam teneam, nec enuntiam, reiiciam. If wisdome should be offered with this exception, that I should keepe it concealed, and not utter it, I would refuse it. The other strain’d it one note higher. Si contigerit ea uita sapienti, ut omnium rerum affluentibus copiis, quamuis omnia, quæ cognitione digna sunt, summo otio secum ipse consideret & contempletur, tamen si solitudo tanta sit, ut hominem uidere nonpossit, excedat è vita. If a wiseman might leade such a life, as in abundance of all things he may in full quiet contemplate and consider all things worthy of knowlege, yet if he must be so solitary as he may see no man, he should rather leave such a life. Architas his opinion is sutable to mine, which was, that it would bee a thing unpleasing to the very heavens and distastefull to man, to survay and walke within those immense and divine and cœlestiall bodies, without the assistance of a friend or companion: Yet is it better to be alone, than in tedious and foolish company. Aristippus loved to live as an alien or stranger every where.
Me si fata meis paterentur ducere uitam Auspiciis,
If fates would me permit To live as I thinke fit,
I should chuse to weare out my life with my bum in the saddle, ever riding.
uisere gestiens, Qua parte debacchentur ignes, Qua nebulæ pluuiique rores.
Delighting much to goe and see Where firy heats rage furiously, Where clouds and rainy dews most be.
Have you not more easie pastimes? What is it you want? Is not your house well seated, and in a good and wholesome ayre? Sufficiently furnished, and more then sufficiently capable? His Royall Majestie hath in great state beene in the same, and more than once taken his repast there. Doth not your family in rule and governement leave many more inferior to hir, than above hir eminencie? Is there any locall thought or care, that as extraordinarie doth ulcerate, or as indigestible doth molest you?
Quæ te nunc coquat & uexet sub pectore fixa.
Which now boyles in thy brest. And let’s thee take no rest.
Where doe you imagine you may be without empeachment or disturbance? Nunquam simpliciter fortuna indulget. Fortune never favours fully without exception. You see then, there is none but you that trouble and busie your selfe: and every where you shall follow your self, and in all places you shall complaine. For, Here below there is no satisfaction or content, except for brutall or divine mindes. He who in so just an occasion hath no content, where doth he imagine to finde it? Unto how many thousands of men, doth such a condition as yours, bound and stay the limites of their wishes? Reforme but your selfe; by that you may doe all: Whereas towardes fortune you have no right or interest, but patience. Nulla placida quies est, nisi quam ratio composuit. There is no pleasing settled rest, but such as reason hath made-up. I see the reason of this advertisement, yea I perceive it wel. But one should sooner have done and more pertinently, in one bare word to say unto me: Be wise. This resolution is beyond wisdome. It is her Worke and hir production. So doth the Phisition, that is ever crying to a languishing, heart-broken sicke-man, that he be merry and pull up a good hart; he should lesse foolishly perswade him if he did but bid him, To be healthie; as for me, I am but a man of the common stamp. It is a certaine, sound and of easie-understanding precept: Be content with your own; that is to say, with reason: the execution wherof notwithstanding is no more in the wiser sort, than in my self: It is a popular word, but it hath a terrible far-reaching extension. What comprehends it not? Al things fall within the compasse of diseretion and modification. Wel I wot, that being taken according to the bare letter, the pleasure of travell brings a testimony of unquietnesse and irresolution. Which to say truth, are our mistrisse and predominant qualities. Yea, I confesse it: I see nothing, be it but a dreame or by wishing, whereon I may take hold. Onely varietie and the possession of diversitie doth satisfie me: if at least any thing satisfie me. In travell this doth nourish me, that without interest I may stay my selfe; and that I have meanes commodiously to divert my selfe from it. I love a private life, because it is by mine owne choyce, that I love it, not by a diffidence or disagreeing from a publike life; which peradventure is as much according to my complexion. I thereby serve my Prince more joyfully and genuinely, because it is by the free ellection of my judgement and by my reason, without any particular obligation. And that I am not cast or forced thereunto, because I am unfit to be received of any other, or am not beloved: so of the rest. I hate those morsells that necessitie doth carve me. Every commoditie, of which alone I were to depend, should ever hold me by the throate:
Alter remus aquas, alter mihi radat arenas.
Let me cut waters with one oare, With th’other shave the sandie shoare.
One string alone can never sufficiently hold me. You will say, there is vanitie in this ammusement. But where not? And these goodly precepts are vanitie, and Meere vanitie is all worldly wisedome. Dominus nouit cogitationes sapientum, quoniam uanæ sunt. The Lords knowes the thoughts of the wise, that they are vaine. Such exquisite subtilities, are only fit for sermons. They are discourses, that will send us into the other World on horsebacke. Life is a material and corporall motion; an action imperfect and disordered, by it’s owne essence: I employ or apply my selfe to serve it according to it selfe.
Quisque suos patimur manes:
All of us for our merit, Have some attending spirit.
Sic est faciendum, ut contra naturam uniuersam nihil contendamus, ea tamen conseruata, propriam sequamur. We must so worke, as we endevor nothing against Nature in generall, yet so observe it, as we follow our owne in speciall. To what purpose are these heaven-looking and nice points of Philosophie, on which no humane being can establish and ground it selfe? And to what end serve these rules, that exceede our use and excell our strength? I often see, that there are certaine Ideaes or formes of life proposed unto us, which neither the proposer nor the Auditors have any hope at all to follow; and which is worse, no desire to attaine. Of the same paper, whereon a judge writ but even now the condemnation against an adulterer, hee will teare a scantlin, thereon to write some love-lines to his fellow-judges wife. The same woman from whom you came lately and with whom you have committed that unlawfull-pleasing sport, will soone after, even in your presence, raile and scolde more bitterly against the same fault in her neighbour, than ever Portia or Lucrece could. And some condemne men to die for crimes, that themselves esteeme no faults. I have in my youth seene a notable man with one hand to present the people most excellent and well-written verses, both for invention and extreame licentiousnes; and with the other hand, at the same instant, the most sharpe-railing reformation, according to Divinitie, that happilie the World hath seene these manie-manie yeares. Thus goes the world, and so goe men. We let the lawes and precepts follow their way, but we keep another course: Not onely by disorder of manners, but often by opinion and contrarie judgement. Heare but a discourse of Philosophie read; the invention, the eloquence and the pertinencie, doth presently tickle your spirite and moove you. There is nothing tickleth or pricketh your conscience: it is not to her that men speake. Is it not true? Ariston saide, that Neither Bath nor Lecture are of any worth, except the one wash cleane, and the other clense all filth away. One may busie himselfe about the barke, when once the pith is gotten out: As when we have drunke-off the Wine, wee consider the graving and workeman-ship of the cuppe. In all the parts of ancient Philosophie, this one thing may be noted, that one same workeman publisheth some rules of temperance, and therewithall some compositions of love and licentiousnesse. And Xenophon in Cliniaes bosome, writ against the Aristippian vertue. It is not a myraculous conversion, that so doth wave and hull them too and fro. But it is, that Solon doth sometimes represent himselfe in his owne colours, and somtimes in form of a Law-giver: now he speaketh for the multitude, and now for himselfe. And takes the free and naturall rules to himselfe; warranting himselfe with a constant and perfect soundnes.
Curentur dubii medicis maioribus ægri.
Let pacients in great doubt, Seeke great Phisitions out.
Antisthenes alloweth a wise man to love and doe what he list, without respect of lawes, especially in things he deemeth needefull and fit: Forasmuch as he hath a better understanding than they, and more knowledge of vertue. His Disciple Diogenes saide; To perturbations we should oppose, reason; to fortune, confidence: and to lawes, nature: To dainty and tender stomakes, constrained and artificiall ordinances. Good stomakes are simplie served with the prescriptions of their naturall appetite. So doe our Phisitions, who whilst they tie their pacients to a strik’t diet of a panada or a sirope, feede themselves upon a melone, dainty fruits, much good meate, and drinke all maner of good Wine. I wot not what Bookes are, nor what they meane by wisedome and philosophie (quoth the Curtizan Lais) but sure I am, those kindes of people knocke as often at my gates, as any other men. Because our licenciousnesse transports us commonly beyond what is lawful and allowed, our lives-precepts and lawes have often beene wrested or restrained beyond universall reason.
Nemo satis credit tantum delinquere, quantum Permittas.
No man think’s it enough so farre t’offend As you give lawfull leave (and thereto end)
It were to be wished, there were a greater proportion betweene commaundement and obedience: And unjust seemeth that ayme or goale whereto one cannot possibly attaine. No man is so exquisitely-honest or upright in living, but brings all his actions and thoughts within compasse and danger of the lawes; and that tenne times in his life might not lawfully be hanged. Yea happily such a man, as it were pitie and dangerously-hurtful to loose, and most unjust to punish him.
Olle quid ad te, De cute quid faciat ille uel illa sua?
Foole, what hast thou to doe, what he or shee With their owne skinnes or themselves doing bee?
And some might never offend the lawes, that notwithstanding should not deserve the commendations of vertuous men: and whome Philosophie might meritoriously and justly cause to be whipped. So troubled, dimme-sighted and partiall is this relation. We are farre enough from being honest according to God: For, we cannot be such according to our selves. Humane wisedome could never reach the dueties, or attaine the devoires it had prescribed unto it selfe. And had it at any time attained them, then would it doubtlesse prescribe some others beyond them, to which it might ever aspire and pretend. So great an enemy is our condition unto consistence. Man dooth necessarily ordaine unto himselfe to be in fault. Hee is not very craftie, to measure his duetie by the reason of another being, than his owne. To whom prescribes he that, which he expects no man will performe? Is he unjust in not dooing that, which hee cannot possibly atchieve? The lawes which condemne us, not to be able; condemne us for that we cannot performe. If the worst happen, this deformed libertie, for one to present himselfe in two places, and the actions after one fashion, the discourses after an other; is lawfull in them, which report things: But it cannot be in them, that acknowledge themselves as I doe. I must walke with my penne, as I goe with my feete. The common high way must have conference with other wayes. Catoes vertue was vigorous, beyond the reason of the age he lived in: and for a man that entermedled with governing other men, destinated for the common service; it might be saide to have beene a justice, if not unjust, at least vaine and out of season. Mine owne manners, which scarse disagree one inch from those now currant, make me notwithstanding in some sorte, strange, uncouth and unsociable to my age. I wot not, whether it be without reason, I am so distasted and out of liking with the world, wherein I live and frequent: but wel I know, I should have small reason to complaine, the world were distasted and out of liking with me, since I am so with it. The vertue assigned to the worlds affaires, it is a vertue with sundry byases, turnings, bendings and elbowes, to apply and joyne it selfe to humane imbecilitie: mixed and artificiall: neither right, pure or constant, nor meerely innocent. Our Annales, even to this day, blame some one of our Kings, to have over-simply suffered himselfe to be led or mis-led by the conscientious perswasions of his Confessor. Matters of state have more bold precepts.
exeat aula, Qui uult esse pius.
He that will godly bee, From Court let him be free.
I have heretofore assayd to employ my opinions and rules of life, as new, as rude, as impolished or as unpoluted, as they were naturally borne with me, or as I have attained them by my institution; and wherewith, if not so commodiously, at least safely in particular, I serve mine owne turne, unto the service of publike affaires and benefit of my Commonwealth: A scholasticall and novice vertue; but I have found them very unapt and dangerous for that purpose. He that goeth in a presse or throng of people, must sometimes step aside, hold in his elbowes, crosse the way, advance himselfe, start backe, and forsake the right way, according as it falls out: Live he not so much as he would himselfe, but as others will: not according to that he proposeth to himselfe, but to that which is proposed to him: according to times, to men and to affaires; and as the skilfull Mariner, saile with the winde. Plato saith, that who escapes untainted and cleane-handed from the managing of the world; escapeth by some wonder. He sayes also, that when he instituteth his Philosopher as chiefe over a Commonwealth; he means not a corrupted or law-broken Commonwealth, as that of Athens; and much lesse, as ours, with which wisedome herselfe would be brought to a non-plus, or put to her shifts. And a good hearb, transplanted into a soile very diverse from her nature, doth much sooner conforme it selfe to the soile, then it reformeth the same to it selfe. I feelingly perceive that if I were wholy to enure my selfe to such occupations, I should require much change and great repairing. Which could I effect in me (and why not with time and diligence?) I would not. Of that litle which in this vacation I have made triall-of, I have much distasted my selfe: I sometimes finde certaine temptations arise in my minde, towards ambition; but I start aside, bandie and opinionate my selfe to the contrarie:
At tu Catulle obstinatus obdura.
Be thou at any rate, Obdurate, obstinate.
I am not greatly called, and I invite my selfe as litle unto it. Libertie and idlenesse, my chiefe qualities, are qualities diameterly contrary to that mysterie. We know not how to distinguish mens faculties. They have certaine devisions and limites uneasie and over nice to be chosen. To conclude by the sufficiency of a private life, any sufficiencie for publike use, it is ill concluded: Some one directs himselfe well, that cannot so well direct others; and composeth Essayes, that could not worke effects. Some man can dispose and order a siege, that could but ill commaund and marshall a battell: and discourseth well in private, that to a multitude or a Prince would make but a bad Oration. Yea peradventure, t’is rather a testimonie to him that can do one, that he cannot doe the other, but otherwise. I finde that high spirits are not much lesse apt for base things, then base spirits are for high matters. Could it be imagined, that Socrates would have given the Athenians cause to laugh at his owne charges, because he could never justly compt the suffrages of his tribe, and make report thereof unto the counsell? Truely the reverence I beare and respect I owe unto that mans perfections, deserveth that his fortune bring to the excuse of my principall imperfections, one so notable example. Our sufficiencie is retailed into small parcells. Mine hath no latitude, and is in number very miserable. Saturninus answered those, who had conferred all authoritie upon him, saying. Oh you my fellow-souldiers, you have lost a good Captaine, by creating him a bad Generall of an Armie. Who in time of infection vanteth himselfe, for the worlds-service, to employ a genuine or sincere vertue, either knowes it not, (opinions being corrupted with maners; in good sooth, heare but them paint it forth, marke how most of them magnifie themselves for their demeanours, and how they forme their rules: in liew of pourtraying vertue, they onely set forth meere injustice and vice: and thus false and adulterate they present the same to the institution of Princes) or if he know it, hee wrongfully boasteth himselfe; and whatever he saith, he doth many things whereof his owne conscience accuseth him. I should easily believe Seneca, of the experience he made of it in such an occasion, upon condition he would freely speake his minde of it unto mee. The honourablest badge of goodnesse in such a necessitie, is ingenuously for a man to acknowledge both his owne and others faults; to stay and with his might, hinder the inclination towards evill: and avie to follow this course, to hope and wish better. In these dismembrings or havocks of France, and divisions wherinto we are miserably falne, I perceive every man travell and busie himselfe to defend his owne cause, and the better sort, with much dissembling and falsehood. Hee that should plainely and roundly write of it, should write rashly and viciously. Take the best and justest part, what is it else but the member of a crased, worme-eaten and corrupted body? But of such a body, the member least sicke, is called sound: and good reason why, because our qualities have no title but in comparison. Civill innocencie is measured according to places and seasons. I would be glad to see such a commendation of Agesilaus in Xenophon, who being entreated of a neigbour Prince, with whom he had sometimes made warre, to suffer him to passe through his countrie, was therewith well pleased; granting him free passage through Peloponnese, and having him at his mercy, did not only not emprison nor empoison him, but according to the tenour of his promise, without shew or offence or unkindnesse, entertained him with all curtesie and humanitie. To such humours, it were a matter of no moment: At other times and elsewhere, the libertie and magnanimitie of such an action shall be highly esteemed. Our gullish Gaberdines would have mockt at it. So little affinitie is there betweene the Spartan and the French innocencie. Wee have notwithstanding some honest men amongst us; but it is after our fashion. Hee whose maners are in regularitie established above the age he liveth-in; let him either wrest or muffle his rules: or (which I would rather perswade him) let him withdraw himselfe apart, and not medle with us. What shal he gaine thereby?
Egregium sanctúmque uirum si cerno, bimembri Hoc monstrum puero, & miranti iam sub aratro Piscibus inuentis & fœtæ compare mulæ.
See I a man of holinesse and vertues rare, To births bimembred, under wonderful plow-share, Fish found, or moiles with fole, this monster I compare.
One may bewaile the better times, but not avoide the present: one may desire other magistrates, but notwithstanding he must obey those he hath: And happily is it more commendable to obey the wicked, than the good. So long as the image of the received, allowed and antient lawes of this Monarchie shall be extant and shine in any corner thereof; there will I be; there will I abide. And if by any disaster they shall chaunce to have contradiction or empeachment amongst themselves, and produce two factions, of doubtfull or hard choise: my ellection shal be to avoide, and if I can escape this storme. In the meane while, either nature or the hazard of warre, shall lend mee that helping hand. I should freely have declared my selfe betweene Cæsar and Pompey. But betweene those three theeves which came after, where either one must have hid himselfe, or followed the winde: which I deeme lawfull, when reason swayeth no longer.
Quo diuersus abis?
Whither have you recourse, So farre out of your course?
This mingle-mangle is somewhat beside my text. I stragle out of the path; yet is it rather by licence, then by unadvisednesse: My fantasies follow one another: but sometimes a farre-off, and looke one at another; but with an oblique looke. I have heretofore cast mine eyes upon some of Platoes Dialogues; bemolted with a fantasticall varietie: the first part treated of love, all the latter of Rhetorike. They feare not those variances; and have a wonderfull grace in suffering themselves to be transported by the winde; or to seeme so. The titles of my chapters, embrace not alwayes the matter: they often but glance at it by some marke: as these others, Andria, Eunuchus; or these, Sylla, Cicero, Torquatus. I love a Poeticall kinde of march, by friskes, skips and jumps. It is an arte (saith Plato) light, nimble, fleeting and light-brain’d. There are some treatises in Plutarke, where he forgets his theame, where the drift of his argument is not found but by incidencie and chance, all stuffed with strange matter. Marke but his vagaries in his Dæmon of Socrates. Oh God! what grace hath the variation, and what beautie these startings and nimble escapes; and then most, when they seeme to imply carelesnesse and casualtie: It is the unheedie and negligent reader, that looseth my subject, and not my selfe. Some word or other shall ever be found in a corner, that hath relation to it, though closely couched. I am indiscreetly and tumultuously at a fault; my stile and wit are still gadding alike. A little folly is tolerable in him, that will not be more sottish; say our maisters precepts, and more their examples. A thousand Poets labour and languish after the prose-maner, but the best antient prose, which I indifferently scatter heere and there for verse, shineth every where, with a poeticall vigor and boldnesse, and representeth some aire or touch of it’s fury: Verely she ought to have the maistrie and preheminence given her in matters of speech. A Poet (saith Plato) seated on the Muses footestoole, doth in a furie powre-out whatsoever commeth in his mouth, as the pipe or cocke of a fountaine, without considering or ruminating the same: and many things escape him, diverse in colour, contrary in substance, and broken in course. Ancient Divinitie is altogether Poesie (say the learned) and the first Philosophie. It is the originall language of the Gods. I understand that the matter distinguisheth it selfe. It sufficiently declareth where it changeth, where it concludeth, where it beginneth and where it rejoyneth; without enterlacings of words, joyning ligaments and binding seames, wrested-in for the service of weake and unattentive eares: and without glosing or expounding my selfe. What is he, that would not rather not be read at all, then read in drowzie and cursorie manner? Nihil est tam utile, quod in transitu prosit. There is nothing so profitable, that being lightly past over, will doe good. If to take bookes in hand were to learne them: and if to see, were to view them; and if to runne them over, were to seize upon them, I should be to blame, to make my selfe altogether so ignorant as I say. Since I cannot stay the Readers attention by the weight: Manco male, if I happen to stay him by my intricate confusion: yea but he will afterward repent, that ever he ammused himselfe about it. You say true, but he shal have amused himselfe upon it. And there be humours, to whom understanding causeth disdaine, who because they shall not know what I meane will esteeme me the better, and will conclude the mysterie and depth of my sense by the obscurity: Which, to speake in good earnest, I hate as death, and would shunne-it, if I could avoyde my selfe. Aristotle vaunteth in some place to affect the same. A vicious affectation. Forsomuch as the often breaking of my Chapters, I so much used in the beginning of my booke, seemed to interrupt attention, before it be conceived: Disdaining for so little a while to collect and there seate it selfe: I have betaken my selfe to frame them longer; as requiring proposition and assigned leasure. In such an occupation, he to whom you will not graunt one houre, you will allow him nothing. And you do nought for him, for whom you doe, but in doing some other thing. Sithence peradventure I am particularly tied and precizely vowed, to speake by halves, to speake confusedly, to speake discrepantly. I therefore hate this trouble-feast reason: And these extravagant projects, which so much molest mans life, and these so suttle opinions, if they have any truth; I deeme it over-deere, and finde it too incommodious. On the other side, I labour to set forth vanitie and make sottishnesse to prevaile, if it bring me any pleasure. And without so nicely controuling them, I follow mine owne naturall inclinations. I have elsewhere seene some houses ruined, statues overthrowne, both of heaven and of earth: But men be alwayes one. All that is true: and yet I can not so often survay the vast toomb of that Citie so great, so populous and so puissant, but I as often admire and reverence the same. The care and remembrance of evils is recommended unto us. Now have I from my infancie beene bredde and brought up with these: I have had knowledge of the affaires of Rome, long time before I had notice of those of my house. I knew the Capitoll, and it’s platforme, before I knew Lovure, the pallace of our Kings in Paris; and the River Tiber, before Seyne. I have more remembred and thought uppon the fortunes and conditions of Lucullus, Metellus and Scipio, then of any of our country-men. They are deceased, and so is my father, as fully as they: and is as distant from me and life in eighteene yeares as they were in sixteene hundred: Whose memory, amitie and societie, I notwithstanding ommit not to continue, to embrace and converse withall, with a perfect and most lively union. Yea of mine owne inclination, I am more officious toward the deceased. They can no longer help themselves; but (as me seemeth) they require so much the more my ayde: There is Gratitude, and there appeareth she in her perfect lustre. A benefit is lesse richly assigned, where retrogradation and reflexion is. Arcesilaus going to visit Ctesibius that was sicke, and finding him in very poore plight, faire and softly thrust some mony under his boulster, which he gave him: And concealing it from him, left and gave him also a quittance for ever being beholding to him. Such as have at any time deserved friendship, or love or thanks at my handes, never lost the same, by being no longer with me. I have better paide and more carefully rewarded them, being absent, and when they least thought of it. I speake more kindely and affectionately of my friends, when there is least meanes, that ever it shall come to their eares, I have heretofore undergone a hundred quarrels for the defence of Pompey and Brutus his cause. This acquaintance continueth to this day betweene us. Even of present things wee have no other holde, but by our fantazie. Perceiving my selfe unfit and unprofitable for this age, I cast my selfe to that other; And am so besotted with it that the state of the said ancient, free, just and florishing Rome, (for I neither love the birth, nor like the old-age of the same) doth interest, concerne and passionate me. And therefore can I not so often looke into the situation of their streetes and houses, and those wondrous-strange ruines, that may be saide to reach downe to the Antipodes, but so often must I ammuse my selfe on them. Is it by Nature or by the errour of fantasie, that the seeing of places, wee know to have bin frequented or inhabited by men, whose memorie is esteemed or mencioned in stories, doeth in some sorte moove and stirre us up as much or more, than the hearing of their noble deedes, or reading of their compositions? Tanta uis admonitionis inest in locis: Et id quidem in hac urbe infinitum; quacunque enim ingredimur, in aliquam historiam uestigium ponimus. So greate a power of admonition is in the verie place, And that in this Citty is most infinite; for which way soever wee walke, wee sette our foote upon some Historie. I am much delighted with the consideration of their countenance, port and abillements. I ruminate those glorious names betweene my teeth, and make mine eares to ring with the sound of them. Ego illos ueneror, & tantis nominibus semper assurgo. I doe reverence them, and at their names I doe rise and make curtefie. Of things but in some sort great, strange and admirable, I admire their common parts. I could wish to see them walke and suppe together, and heare their discourses. It were ingratitude to dispise, and impietie to neglect the relikes or images of so many excellent, honest good men, and therewithall so valiant, which I have seene live and die: And who by their examples, had we the wit or grace to followe them, affoord us so many notable instructions. And Rome as it stands now, deserveth to be loved: Confederated so long since, and sharing titles with our Crowne of France: Being the onlie common and universall Citie: The Soveraigne Magistrate therein commaunding, is likewise knowne abroade in divers other places. It is the chiefe Metropolitan Citie of all Christian Nations: Both French and Spaniards, and all men else are there at home. To bee a Prince of that state, a man needes but be of Christendome, where ever it be seated. There’s no place here on earth, that the Heavens have embraced with such influence of favors and grace, and with such constancie: Even hir ruine is glorious with renowne, and swolne with glorie.
Laudandis preciosior ruinis.
Ev’n made more honourable By ruines memorable.
Low-levelled as she lieth, and even in the tombe of hir glory, she yet reserveth the livelie image and regardfull markes of Empire. Ut palam sit uno in loco gaudentis opus esse naturæ. So as it is cleere, in one place is set-forth the worke of Nature in her jolitie. Some one would blame himselfe, yea and mutinie, to feele himselfe tickled with so vaine a pleasure. Our humors are not over vaine, that be pleasant. Whatsoever they be, that constantly content a man capable of common understanding, I could not finde in my heart to moane or pitty him. I am much beholding to fortune, inasmuch as untill this day, she hath committed nothing outragiously against me, or imposed anie thing upon mee, that is beyond my strength, or that I could not well beare. It is not haply her custome, to suffer such as are not importunate or over busie with hir, to live in peace.
Quanto quisque sibi plura negauerit, A Diis plura feret, nil cupientium, Nudus castra peto, multa petentibus, Desunt multa.
The more that men shall to themselves denie, The more the Gods will give them: threed-bare I Follow the campe of them that nought desire. They still want much, that still doe much require.
If she continue so, I shall depart very well content and satisfied.
nihil supra Deos lacesso.
More than will serve, to have Of Gods I doe not crave.
But beware the shocke: Thousandes miscarry in the haven, and are cast away being neerest home. I am easily comforted with what shall happen here when I am gone. Things present trouble me sufficiently, and set me throughly aworke.
Fortunæ cætera mando.
The rest I doe commit To Fortune (as is fit.)
Besides, I am not tied with that strong bond, which some say, bindes men to future times, by the children bearing their names, and succeeding them in honors. And being so much to be desired, it may be I shall wish for them so much the lesse. I am by my selfe but overmuch tied unto the world, and fastned unto life: I am pleased to be in Fortunes holde by the circumstances properly necessary to my state, without enlarging her jurisdiction upon mee by other wayes: And I never thought, that to be without children, were a defect, able to make mans life lesse compleate and lesse contented. A barren state or sterile vacation, have also their peculiar commodities. Children are in the number of things, that neede not greatly be desired; especially in these corrupted dayes, wherein it would bee so hard a matter to make them good. Bona iam nec nasci licet, ita corrupta sunt semina. We cannot now have good things so much as growe, the seeds are so corrupt. Yet have they just cause to moane them, that having once gotten, loose them untimely. He who left me my house in charge, considering my humor, which was to stay at home so little, fore-saw I should be the overthrowe of it. Hee was deceived: I am now as I came unto it, if not somewhat better. And that, without any Office or Church-living; which are no small helpes. As for other matters, if Fortune have offred me no violent or extraordinary offence, so hath she not shewed me any great favour or extraordinary grace. Whatsoever I have belonging to it, that may properly be termed her gifts, was there before I came unto it; yea and a hundred yeeres before. I particularly enjoy no essentiall good, or possesse no solide benefit, that I owe unto her liberalitie: Indeede she hath bestowed some winde-pufft favors upon me, which may rather be termed titulare and honorable in shew, than in substance, or materiall: And which, in good truth, she hath not granted, but offered me. God he knowes, to me, who am altogether materiall; not satisfied but with realitie, which must also be massie and substantiall: And who, if I durst confesse-it, would not thinke avarice, much lesse excusable then ambition: nor griefe lesse evitable, than shame: not health lesse desirable, than learning: or riches, lesse to be wished, than nobilitie. Amongst her vaine favours, I have none doth so much please my fond selfe-pleasing conceit, as an authentike Bull, charter or patent of denizonshippe or borgeoushippe of Rome, which at my last being there, was granted me by the whole Senate of that Cittie: garish and trimly adorned with goodly Seales, and written in faire-golden Letters: bestowed upon me with all gratious and free liberalitie. And forsomuch as they are commonly conferred in diverse stiles, more or lesse favourable: and that before I had ever seene any, I would have bin glad to have had but a patterne or formulare of one; I will for the satisfaction of any, if hee fortune to be possessed with such a curiositie as mine, here set downe the true copie or transcript of it: and thus it is.
Quod Horatius Maximus, Martius Cecius, Alexander Mutus, almæ urbis conseruatores de Illustrissimo wiro Michaële Montano, equite sancti Michaëlis, & à Cubiculo Regis Christianissimi, Romana ciuitate donando, ad Senatum retulerunt, S. P. Q. R. de ea re ita fieri censuit.
Cum ueteri more & instituto cupidè illi semper studioséque suscepti sint, qui uirtute ac nobilitate præstantes, magno Reipublicæ nostræ usui atque ornamento fuissent, uel esse aliquando possent: Nos maiorum nostrorum exemplo atque auctoritate permoti, præclaram hanc Consuetudinem nobis imitandam ac seruandam fore censemus. Quamobrem cum Illustrissimus Michaël Montanus Eques sancti Michaëlis, & â cubiculo Regis Christianissimi; Romani nominis studiosissimus, & familiæ laude atque splendore & propriis uirtutum meritis dignissimus sit, qui summo Senatus Populíque Romani iudicio ac studio in Romanam Ciuitatem adsciscatur, placere Senatui P. Q. R. Illustrissimum Michaëlem Montanum rebus omnibus ornatissimum, átque huic inclyto Populo charissimum, ipsum posterósque in Rom. ciuitatem adscribi, ornaríque omnibus & præmiis & honoribus, quibus illi fruuntur, qui Ciues Patritiique Romani nati aut iure optimo facti sunt. In quo censere Senatum P. Q. R. se non tam illi Ius Ciuitatis largiri quàm debitum tribuere, neque magis beneficium dare quàm ab ipso accipere, qui hoc Ciuitatis munere accipiendo, singulari Ciuitatem ipsam ornamento atque honore affecerit. Quam quidem S. C. auctoritatem iidem Conseruatores per Senatus P. Q. R. scribas in acta referri atque in Capitolii curia seruari, priuilegiúmque huiusmodi fieri, solitóque urbis sigillo communiri curarunt. Anno ab urbe condita CXↃ CCC XXXI. post Christum natum M. D. LXXXI. III. Idus Martii.
Horatius Fuscus sacri S. P. Q. R. scriba. Vincent. Martholus sacri S. P. Q. R. scriba.
At the motion of Horatius Maximus, Martius Cecius, Alexander Mutus, who are Conservators of this beautifull Cittie, concerning the endenizing and making Cittizen of Rome the noble Gentleman Michaell de Montaigne, Knight of the Order of Saint Michael, and one of the Chamber of the most Christian King, the Senate and people of Rome thought good thereof thus to enact. Whereas by the auntient custome and good order, they have ever and with good will, beene entertained, who excelling in vertue and nobilitie have bin, or at any time might be of any great use or ornament unto our common-weale: We, mooved by example and authoritie of our Auncesters, decree, That this notable custome, by us should be ensued and observed. Wherefore, sithence the right Noble Michael de Montaigne, Knight of Saint Michaels Order, and one of the Chamber of the most Christian King, both is most affectionate unto the Roman name, and by the commendations and splendor of his pedegree, as also by the merites of his proper vertues, most worthy to be adopted and inserted into the Romane Cittie with a speciall judgement and good will of the Senate and people of Rome: It pleaseth the Senate and people of Rome that the right noble Michael de Montaigne, adorned in all complements, and wel-beloved of this famous Communaltie, both himselfe and his successours should be ascribed and enfranchized into this Romane Cittie, and be graced with all rewardes and honours, which they enjoy, who either have bin borne or elected, either Cittizens or Noble men of Rome. Wherein the Senate and people doe decree, That they doe not so much vouchsafe him the right of their Cittie, as give him that is due unto him; nor doe they rather give him a benefite, than receive it of him, who by accepting this gift of the Cittie, doth countenance the Cittie with a singular ornament and honour. Which Act and authoritie of the Senates Decree, the saide Conservators caused by the Clearks of the Senate and people to be registred and laide-up in the Capitoll Court, and this Priviledge to be made and signed with the Citties usuall Seale. In the yeare since the building of the Cittie CXↃ CCC XXXI. after the birth of Christ a thousand five hundred eightie and one: the Ides of March.
Horatius Fuscus, and Vincent Martholus Clearks of the sacred Senate and people of Rome.
Being neither Burgeois nor Denizon of any Cittie, I am well pleased to be so, of the noblest and greatest that ever was heretofore, or ever shall be hereafter. If others did so attentively consider and survay themselves as I doe, they should as I doe, finde themselves full of inanitie, fondnesse or vanitie. I can not be rid of it, except I rid and quit my selfe. We are all possessed and overwhelmed therewith, as well one as the other. But such as have a feeling of it, have somewhat the better bargaine: And yet I am not sure of it. This common opinion and vulgar custome, to looke and marke elsewhere then on our selves, hath well provided for our affaires. It is an object full-fraught with discontent, wherein we see nothing but miserie and vanitie. To th’end we should not wholy be discomforted, Nature hath very fitly cast the action of our sight outward: We goe forward according to the streame, but to turne our course backe to our selves, is a painefull motion: the sea likewise is troubled, raging and disquieted, when t’is turned and driven into it selfe. Observe (saith every one) the motions and bransles of the heavens: take a survay of all: the quarrell of this man, the pulse of that man, and anothers last testament: to conclude, behold and marke ever, high or low, right or oblique, before or behinde you. It was a paradoxall commandement, which the God of Delphos laid heretofore upon us; Saying: View your selves within; know your selves; and keepe you to your selves: Your minde and your will, which elsewhere is consumed, bring it unto itselfe againe: you scatter, you stragle, you stray, and you distract your selves: call your selves home againe; rowze and uphold your selves: you are betrayed, you are spoiled and dissipated; your selves are stolne and taken from your selves. Seest thou not how all this universe holdeth all his sights compelled inward, and his eyes open to contemplate it selfe? Both inward and outward it is ever vanitie for thee; but so much lesse vanitie, by how much lesse it is extended. Except thy selfe, Oh man, (said that God) every thing doth first seeke and studie it selfe, and according to it’s neede hath limites to her travells, and bounds to her desires. There’s not one so shallow, so empty, and so needy as thou art who embracest the whole world: Thou art the Scrutator without knowledge, the magistrate without juridisdiction: and when all is done, the vice of the play.
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- ModifiedFebruary 19, 2022
- TranslationJohn Florio
- LicensePublic domain
- Source Montaigne, Michel de. Essayes of Morall, Politike, and Millitarie Discourses. Translated by John Florio. London: Edward Blount, 1603.
How to cite this page
- Montaigne, Michel de. “Of Vanitie.” Translated by John Florio. HyperEssays.net. Last modified February 19, 2022. https://hyperessays.net