Page images
PDF
EPUB

duce atheism. Another is, scandal of priests; when it is come to that which St. Bernard saith, Non est jam dicere, vt populus sic sacerdos; quia nee sic populus ut sacerdos: [One cannot now say, the priest is as the people, for the truth is that the people are not so bad as the priest.] A third is, custom of profane scoffing in holy matters; which doth by little and little deface the reverence of religion. And lastly, learned times, specially with peace and prosperity; for troubles and adversities do more bow men's minds to religion. They that deny a God destroy man's nobility; for certainly man is of kin to the beasts by his body; and, if he be not of kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature. It destroys likewise magnanimity, and the raising of human nature; for take an example of a dog, and mark what a generosity and courage he will put on when he finds himself maintained by a man; who to him is instead of a God, or melior natura; which courage is manifestly such as that creature, without that confidence of a better nature than his own, could never attain. So man, when he resteth and assureth himself upon divine protection and favour, gathereth a force and faith which human nature in itself could not obtain. Therefore, as atheism is in all respects hateful, so in this, that it depriveth human nature of the means to exalt itself above human frailty. As it is in particular persons, so it is in nations. Never was there such a state for magnanimity as Rome. Of this state hear what Cicero saith: Quam volumus licet, patres conscripti, nos amemus, tamen nee numero Hispanos, nee robore Gallos, nee calliditate Peenos, nee artibus (frescos, nee deniqm hoc ipso hujus gentis et terroe domestico nativoque sensu Italos ipsos et Latinos; sed pietate, ac religione, atque hoc una sapientia, quod Deorum immortalium numine omnia regi gubernarique perspeximui, omnes gentes nationesque superavimus: [Pride ourselves as we may upon our country, yet are we not in number superior to the Spaniards, nor in strength to the Gauls, nor in cunning to the Carthaginians, nor to the Greeks in arts, nor to the Italians and Latins themselves in the homely and native sense which belongs to this nation and land; it is in piety only and religion, and the wisdom of regarding the providence of the Immortal Gods as that which rules and governs all things, that we have surpassed all nations and peoples.]

XVII. Of Superstition.1

It were better to have no opinion of God at all, than such an opinion as is unworthy2 of him. For the one is unbelief, the other is contumely: and certainly superstition is the reproach of the Deity. Plutarch saith well to that purpose: Surely (saith he) / had rather a great deal men should sag there was no such man at all as Plutarch, than that they should say that there was one Plutarch that would eat his children as soon as they were born; as the poets speak of Saturn. And as the contumely is greater towards God, so the danger is greater towards men. Atheism leaves a man to sense, to philosophy, to natural piety, to laws, to reputation ;3 all which may be guides to an outward moral virtue, though religion were not; but superstition dismounts all these, and erecteth an absolute monarchy in the minds of men. Therefore atheism did never perturb states; for it makes men wary of themselves, as looking no further:* and we see the times inclined to atheism (as the time of Augustus Cajsar) were civil2 times. But superstition hath been the confusion of many states, and bringeth in a new primum mobile, that ravisheth all the spheres of government. The master of superstition is the people; and in all superstition wise men follow fools; and arguments are fitted to practice, in a reversed order.8 It was gravely said by some of the prelates in the council of Trent, where the doctrine of the schoolmen bare great sway, that, the schoolmen were like astronomers, which did feign eccentrics and epicycles, and such engines of orbs, to save the phanwmena; though they knew there were no such things; and in like manner, that the schoolmen had framed a number of subtle and intricate axioms and theorems, to save the practice of the church. The causes of superstition are, pleasing and sensual rites and ceremonies; excess of outward and pharisaical holiness; over-great reverence of traditions, which cannot but load the church; the stratagems of prelates for their own ambition and lucre; the favouring too much of good intentions, which openeth the gate to conceits and novelties; * the taking an aim at divine matters by human, which cannot but breed mixture of imaginations:6 and, lastly, barbarous times, especially joined with calamities and disasters. Superstition, without a veil, is a deformed thing; for as it addeth deformity to an ape to be so like a man, so the similitude of superstition to religion makes it the more deformed. And as wholesome meat corrupteth to little worms, so good forms and orders corrupt into a number of petty observances. There is a superstition in avoiding superstition, when men think to do best if they go furthest from the superstition formerly received; therefore care would be had1 that (as it fareth in ill purgings) the good be not taken away with the bad; which commonly is done when the people is the reformer.

1 This Essay is omitted in the Italian translation. u contumrtiosam et Deo iruKgnam.

8 Atheismu t rum prorsut eonrellit dictnmina censis, rumphilotophiam, affechu ruiturales, leges, bonafarna desiilsrium.

[graphic]

1 cautot et tecurilnti turn conmknt**.

2 tranquiUa.

* That is, reason is governed by practice, instead of practice by reason. ArgumtnUi practiea succumbunt, ordine perter$o.

* wmlatibut tt ethtklhrettiit.

* ExtmpUrrum importuna ei inepta petitio ab humamt, qua in dhina transferantur, qua necessurio parit fantasiarum male cohatrenHum mixturam.

XVIII. Of Travel.

Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience. He that travelleth into a country before he hath some entrance into the language, goeth to school, and not to travel. That young men travel under some tutor, or grave servant,2 I allow well; so that he be such a one that hath the language, and hath been in the country before; whereby he may be able to tell them what things are worthy to be seen in the country where they go; what acquaintances they are to seek; what exercises or discipline the place yieldeth. For else young men shall go hooded, and look abroad little. It is a strange thing, that in sea voyages, where there is nothing to be seen but sky and sea, men should make diaries; but in landtravel, wherein so much is to be observed, for the most part they omit it; as if chance were fitter to be registered than observation. Let diaries therefore be brought in use. The things to be seen and observed are, the courts of princes, specially when they give audience to ambassadors; the courts of justice, while they sit and hear causes; and so of consistories ecclesiastic; the churches and monasteries, with the monuments which are therein extant; the walls and fortifications of cities and towns, and so the havens and harbours; antiquities and ruins; libraries; colleges, disputations, and lectures, where any are; shipping and navies; houses and gardens of state and pleasure, near great cities; armories; arsenals; magazines; exchanges; burses; warehouses; exercises of horsemanship, fencing, training of soldiers, and the like; comedies, such whereunto the better sort of persons do resort; treasuries of jewels and robes; cabinet* and rarities; and, to conclude, whatsoever is memorable in the places where they go. After all which the tutors or servants ought to make diligent inquiry. As for triumphs, masks, feasts, weddings, funerals, capital executions, and such shows, men need not to be put in mind of them; yet are they not to be neglected. If you will have a young man to put his travel into a little room, and in short time to gather much, this you must do. First as was said, he must have some entrance into the language before he goeth. Then he must have such a servant or tutor as knoweth the country, as was likewise said. Let him carry with him also some card or book describing the country where he travelleth; which will be a good key to his inquiry. Let him keep also a diary. Let him not stay long in one city or

i curat erne debet in Rdigume reformaada.

3 lervo aliquo experto.t

« PreviousContinue »