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- Discoveries and Some Poems - 4/20 -


but draw these forth into the just lists: let them appear sub dio, and they are changed with the place, like bodies bred in the shade; they cannot suffer the sun or a shower, nor bear the open air; they scarce can find themselves, that they were wont to domineer so among their auditors: but indeed I would no more choose a rhetorician for reigning in a school, than I would a pilot for rowing in a pond.

Amor et odium.--Love that is ignorant, and hatred, have almost the same ends: many foolish lovers wish the same to their friends, which their enemies would: as to wish a friend banished, that they might accompany him in exile; or some great want, that they might relieve him; or a disease, that they might sit by him. They make a causeway to their country by injury, as if it were not honester to do nothing than to seek a way to do good by a mischief.

Injuria.--Injuries do not extinguish courtesies: they only suffer them not to appear fair. For a man that doth me an injury after a courtesy, takes not away that courtesy, but defaces it: as he that writes other verses upon my verses, takes not away the first letters, but hides them.

Beneficia.--Nothing is a courtesy unless it be meant us; and that friendly and lovingly. We owe no thanks to rivers, that they carry our boats; or winds, that they be favouring and fill our sails; or meats, that they be nourishing. For these are what they are necessarily. Horses carry us, trees shade us, but they know it not. It is true, some men may receive a courtesy and not know it; but never any man received it from him that knew it not. Many men have been cured of diseases by accidents; but they were not remedies. I myself have known one helped of an ague by falling into a water; another whipped out of a fever; but no man would ever use these for medicines. It is the mind, and not the event, that distinguisheth the courtesy from wrong. My adversary may offend the judge with his pride and impertinences, and I win my cause; but he meant it not to me as a courtesy. I scaped pirates by being shipwrecked; was the wreck a benefit therefore? No; the doing of courtesies aright is the mixing of the respects for his own sake and for mine. He that doeth them merely for his own sake is like one that feeds his cattle to sell them; he hath his horse well dressed for Smithfield.

Valor rerum.--The price of many things is far above what they are bought and sold for. Life and health, which are both inestimable, we have of the physician; as learning and knowledge, the true tillage of the mind, from our schoolmasters. But the fees of the one or the salary of the other never answer the value of what we received, but served to gratify their labours.

Memoria.--Memory, of all the powers of the mind, is the most delicate and frail; it is the first of our faculties that age invades. Seneca, the father, the rhetorician, confesseth of himself he had a miraculous one, not only to receive but to hold. I myself could, in my youth, have repeated all that ever I had made, and so continued till I was past forty; since, it is much decayed in me. Yet I can repeat whole books that I have read, and poems of some selected friends which I have liked to charge my memory with. It was wont to be faithful to me; but shaken with age now, and sloth, which weakens the strongest abilities, it may perform somewhat, but cannot promise much. By exercise it is to be made better and serviceable. Whatsoever I pawned with it while I was young and a boy, it offers me readily, and without stops; but what I trust to it now, or have done of later years, it lays up more negligently, and oftentimes loses; so that I receive mine own (though frequently called for) as if it were new and borrowed. Nor do I always find presently from it what I seek; but while I am doing another thing, that I laboured for will come; and what I sought with trouble will offer itself when I am quiet. Now, in some men I have found it as happy as Nature, who, whatsoever they read or pen, they can say without book presently, as if they did then write in their mind. And it is more a wonder in such as have a swift style, for their memories are commonly slowest; such as torture their writings, and go into council for every word, must needs fix somewhat, and make it their own at last, though but through their own vexation.

Comit. suffragia.--Suffrages in Parliament are numbered, not weighed; nor can it be otherwise in those public councils where nothing is so unequal as the equality; for there, how odd soever men's brains or wisdoms are, their power is always even and the same.

Stare a partibus.--Some actions, be they never so beautiful and generous, are often obscured by base and vile misconstructions, either out of envy or ill-nature, that judgeth of others as of itself. Nay, the times are so wholly grown to be either partial or malicious, that if he be a friend all sits well about him, his very vices shall be virtues; if an enemy, or of the contrary faction, nothing is good or tolerable in him; insomuch that we care not to discredit and shame our judgments to soothe our passions.

Deus in creaturis.--Man is read in his face; God in His creatures; not as the philosopher, the creature of glory, reads him; but as the divine, the servant of humility; yet even he must take care not to be too curious. For to utter truth of God but as he thinks only, may be dangerous, who is best known by our not knowing. Some things of Him, so much as He hath revealed or commanded, it is not only lawful but necessary for us to know; for therein our ignorance was the first cause of our wickedness.

Veritas proprium hominis.--Truth is man's proper good, and the only immortal thing was given to our mortality to use. No good Christian or ethnic, if he be honest, can miss it; no statesman or patriot should. For without truth all the actions of mankind are craft, malice, or what you will, rather than wisdom. Homer says he hates him worse than hell-mouth that utters one thing with his tongue and keeps another in his breast. Which high expression was grounded on divine reason; for a lying mouth is a stinking pit, and murders with the contagion it venteth. Beside, nothing is lasting that is feigned; it will have another face than it had, ere long. {41} As Euripides saith, "No lie ever grows old."

Nullum vitium sine patrocinio.--It is strange there should be no vice without its patronage, that when we have no other excuse we will say, we love it, we cannot forsake it. As if that made it not more a fault. We cannot, because we think we cannot, and we love it because we will defend it. We will rather excuse it than be rid of it. That we cannot is pretended; but that we will not is the true reason. How many have I known that would not have their vices hid? nay, and, to be noted, live like Antipodes to others in the same city? never see the sun rise or set in so many years, but be as they were watching a corpse by torch-light; would not sin the common way, but held that a kind of rusticity; they would do it new, or contrary, for the infamy; they were ambitious of living backward; and at last arrived at that, as they would love nothing but the vices, not the vicious customs. It was impossible to reform these natures; they were dried and hardened in their ill. They may say they desired to leave it, but do not trust them; and they may think they desire it, but they may lie for all that; they are a little angry with their follies now and then; marry, they come into grace with them again quickly. They will confess they are offended with their manner of living like enough; who is not? When they can put me in security that they are more than offended, that they hate it, then I will hearken to them, and perhaps believe them; but many now- a-days love and hate their ill together.

De vere argutis.--I do hear them say often some men are not witty, because they are not everywhere witty; than which nothing is more foolish. If an eye or a nose be an excellent part in the face, therefore be all eye or nose! I think the eyebrow, the forehead, the cheek, chin, lip, or any part else are as necessary and natural in the place. But now nothing is good that is natural; right and natural language seems to have least of the wit in it; that which is writhed and tortured is counted the more exquisite. Cloth of bodkin or tissue must be embroidered; as if no face were fair that were not powdered or painted! no beauty to be had but in wresting and writhing our own tongue! Nothing is fashionable till it be deformed; and this is to write like a gentleman. All must be affected and preposterous as our gallants' clothes, sweet-bags, and night-dressings, in which you would think our men lay in, like ladies, it is so curious.

Censura de poetis.--Nothing in our age, I have observed, is more preposterous than the running judgments upon poetry and poets; when we shall hear those things commended and cried up for the best writings which a man would scarce vouchsafe to wrap any wholesome drug in; he would never light his tobacco with them. And those men almost named for miracles, who yet are so vile that if a man should go about to examine and correct them, he must make all they have done but one blot. Their good is so entangled with their bad as forcibly one must draw on the other's death with it. A sponge dipped in ink will do all:-

"--Comitetur Punica librum Spongia.--" {44a}

Et paulo post,

"Non possunt . . . multae . . . liturae . . . una litura potest."

Cestius--Cicero--Heath--Taylor--Spenser.--Yet their vices have not hurt them; nay, a great many they have profited, for they have been loved for nothing else. And this false opinion grows strong against the best men, if once it take root with the ignorant. Cestius, in his time, was preferred to Cicero, so far as the ignorant durst. They learned him without book, and had him often in their mouths; but a man cannot imagine that thing so foolish or rude but will find and enjoy an admirer; at least a reader or spectator. The puppets are seen now in despite of the players; Heath's epigrams and the Sculler's poems have their applause. There are never wanting that dare prefer the worst preachers, the worst pleaders, the worst poets; not that the better have left to write or speak better, but that they that hear them judge worse; Non illi pejus dicunt, sed hi corruptius judicant. Nay, if it were put to the question of the water-rhymer's works, against Spenser's, I doubt not but they would find more suffrages; because the most favour common vices, out of a prerogative the vulgar have to lose their judgments and like that which is naught.

Poetry, in this latter age, hath proved but a mean mistress to such as have wholly addicted themselves to her, or given their names up to her family. They who have but saluted her on the by, and now and then tendered their visits, she hath done much for, and advanced in the way of their own professions (both the law and the gospel) beyond all they could have hoped or done for themselves without her favour. Wherein she doth emulate the judicious but preposterous bounty of the time's grandees, who accumulate all they can upon the parasite or fresh-man in their friendship; but think an old client


Discoveries and Some Poems - 4/20

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