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most mind to. It is true, that if the affection or aptness of the children be extraordinary, then it is good not to cross it; but generally the precept is good, "Optimum elige, suave et facile illud faciet consuetudo." Younger brothers are commonly fortunate, but seldom or never where the elder are disinherited.
VIII. OF MARRIAGE AND SINGLE LIFE
He that hath wife and children, hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief. Certainly the best works and of greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from the unmarried or childless men; which, both in affection and means, have married and endowed the public. Yet it were great reason, that those that have children should have greatest care of future times; unto which they know they must transmit their dearest pledges. Some there are, who though they lead a single life, yet their thoughts do end with themselves, and account future times impertinences. Nay, there are some other, that account wife and children but as bills of charges. Nay more, there are some foolish rich covetous men, that take a pride in having no children, because they may be thought so much the richer. For perhaps they have heard some talk, Such a one is a great rich man; and another except to it, Yea, but he hath a great charge of children: as if it were an abatement to his riches. But the most ordinary cause of a single life is liberty; especially in certain self-pleasing and humorous minds, which are so sensible of every restraint, as they will go near to think their girdles and garters to be bonds and shackles. Unmarried men are best friends, best masters, best servants, but not always best subjects; for they are light to run away; and almost all fugitives are of that condition. A single life doth well with churchmen: for charity will hardly
water the ground, where it must first fill a pool. It is indifferent for judges and magistrates: for if they be facile and corrupt, you shall have a servant five times worse than a wife. For soldiers, I find the generals commonly, in their hortatives, put men in mind of their wives and children. And I think the despising of marriage amongst the Turks, maketh the vulgar soldiers more base. Certainly, wife and children are a kind of discipline of humanity; and single men, though they be many times more charitable, because their means are less exhaust; yet, on the other side, they are more cruel and hardhearted, good to make severe inquisitors, because their tenderness is not so oft called upon. Grave natures, led by custom, and therefore constant, are commonly loving husbands; as was said of Ulysses, "vetulam suam praetulit immortalitati." Chaste women are often proud and froward, as presuming upon the merit of their chastity. It is one of the best bonds, both of chastity and obedience, in the wife, if she think her husband wise; which she will never do if she find him jealous. Wives are young men's mistresses; companions for middle age; and old men's nurses. So as a man may have a quarrel to marry when he will. But yet he was reputed one of the wise men, that made answer to the question, when a man should marry ?" A young man not yet, an elder man not at all." It is often seen, that bad husbands have very good wives; whether it be, that it raiseth the price of their husband's kindness when it comes; or that the wives take a pride in their patience. But this never fails if the bad husbands were of their own choosing, against their friends' consent; for then they will be sure to make good their own folly.
IX. OF ENVY
There be none of the affections which have been noted to fascinate or bewitch, but love and envy. They both have vehement wishes; they frame themselves readily into imaginations and suggestions: and they come easily into the eye; especially upon the presence of the objects; which are the points that conduce to fascination, if any such thing there be. We see likewise, the Scripture calleth envy an evil eye : and the astrologers call the evil influences of the stars, evil aspects; so that still there seemeth to be acknowledged in the act of envy, an ejaculation, or irradiation of the eye. Nay, some have been so curious, as to note, that the times when the stroke or percussion of an envious eye doth most hurt, are, when the party envied is beheld in glory or triumph; for that sets an edge upon envy: and, besides, at such times, the spirits of the person envied do come forth most into the outward parts, and so meet the blow.
But leaving these curiosities, though not unworthy to be thought on in fit place, we will handle, what persons are apt to envy others; what persons are most subject to be envied themselves; and what is the difference between public and private envy.
A man that hath no virtue in himself, ever envieth virtue in others. For men's minds will either feed upon their own good, or upon others' evil; and who wanteth the one, will prey upon the other: and whoso is out of hope to attain to another's virtue, will seek to come at even hand by depressing another's fortune.
A man that is busy and inquisitive, is commonly envious: for to know much of other men's matters cannot be, because all that ado may concern his own estate: therefore it must needs be, that he taketh a kind of play-pleasure in looking upon the fortunes of others; neither can he that mindeth but his own business find much matter for envy. For envy is a gadding passion, and walketh the streets, and doth not keep home; "Non est curiosus, quin idem sit malevolus."
Men of noble birth are noted to be envious towards new men when they rise: for the distance is altered; and it is like a deceit of the eye, that when others come on, they think themselves go back.
Deformed persons and eunuchs, and old men and bastards, are envious: for he that cannot possibly mend his own case, will do what he can to impair another's; except these defects light upon a very brave and heroical nature, which thinketh to make his natural wants part of his honour; in that it should be said, that an eunuch or a lame man did such great matters; affecting the honour of a miracle: as it was in Narses the eunuch, and Agesilaus and Tamerlane, that were lame men.
The same is the case of men that rise after calamities and misfortunes; for they are as men fallen out with the times, and think other men's harms a redemption of their own sufferings.
They that desire to excel in too many matters, out of levity and vain-glory, are ever envious, for they cannot want work; it being impossible but many, in some one of those things, should surpass them. Which was the character of Adrian the emperor, that mortally envied poets, and painters, and artificers, in works wherein he had a vein to excel.
Lastly, near kinsfolks, and fellows in office, and those that have been bred together, are more apt to envy their equals when they are raised. For it doth upbraid unto them their own fortunes, and pointeth at them, and cometh oftener into their remembrance, and incurreth likewise more into the note of others; and envy ever redoubleth from speech and fame. Cain's envy was the more vile and malignant towards his brother Abel, because, when his sacrifice was better accepted, there was nobody to look on. Thus much for those that are apt to envy.
Concerning those that are more or less subject to envy: First, persons of eminent virtue, when they are advanced, are less envied. For their fortune seemeth but due unto them; and no man envieth the payment of a debt, but rewards, and liberality rather. Again, envy is ever joined with the comparing of a man's self; and where there is no comparison, no envy; and therefore kings are not envied but by kings. Nevertheless it is to be noted, that unworthy persons are
most envied at their first coming in, and afterwards overcome it better; whereas contrariwise, persons of worth and merit are most envied when their fortune continueth long. For by that time, though their virtue be the same, yet it hath not the same lustre; for fresh men grow up that darken it.
Persons of noble blood are less envied in their rising; for it seemeth but right done to their birth: besides, there seemeth not much added to their fortune; and envy is as the sun-beams, that beat hotter upon a bank or steep rising ground than upon a flat. And for the same reason, those that are advanced by degrees, are less envied than those that are advanced suddenly, and per saltum.
Those that have joined with their honour great travels, cares, or perils, are less subject to envy: for men think that they earn their honours hardly, and pity them sometimes; and pity ever healeth envy: wherefore you shall observe, that the more deep and sober sort of politic persons, in their greatness, are ever bemoaning themselves what a life they lead, chanting a "Quanta patimur:" not that they feel it so, but only to abate the edge of envy. But this is to be understood of business that is laid upon men, and not such as they call unto themselves: for nothing increaseth envy more, than an unnecessary and ambitious engrossing of business: and nothing doth extinguish envy more, than for a great person to preserve all other inferior officers in their full rights and preeminences of their places: for by that means there be so many screens between him and envy.
Above all, those are most subject to envy, which carry the greatness of their fortunes in an insolent and proud manner: being never well but while they are showing how great they are, either by outward pomp, or by triumphing over all opposition or competition: whereas wise men will rather do sacrifice to envy, in suffering themselves sometimes of purpose to be crossed and overborne in things that do not much concern them. Notwithstanding, so much is true, that the carriage of greatness in a plain and open