« PreviousContinue »
ner upon all the ministers of an estate; then the envy (though hidden) is truly upon the state itself. And so much of public envy or discontentment, and the difference thereof from private envy, which was handled in the first place.
We will add this in general, touching the affection of envy; that of all other affections it is the most importune and continual. For of other affections there is occasion given but now and then ; and therefore it was well said, Invidia festos dies non agit : [Envy keeps no holidays :) for it is ever working upon some or other. And it is also noted that love and envy do make a man pine, which other affections do not, because they are not so continual. It is also the vilest affection, and the most depraved; for which cause it is the proper attribute of the devil, who is called The envious man, that soweth tares amongst the wheat by night ; as it always cometh to pass, that envy worketh subtilly, and in the dark; and to the prejudice of good things, such as is the wheat.
X. OF LOVE. THE stage is more beholding to Love, than the life of man. For as to the stage, love is ever matter of comedies, and now and then of tragedies ; but in life it doth much mischief; sometimes like a syren, sometimes like a fury. You may observe, that amongst all the great and worthy persons (whereof the memory remaineth, either ancient or recent,) there is not one that hath been transported to the mad degree of love : which shews that great spirits and great business do keep out this weak passion. You must except nevertheless Marcus Antonius, the half partner of the empire of Rome, and Appius Claudius, the decemvir and lawgiver ;1 whereof the former was indeed a voluptuous man, and inordinate; but the latter was an austere and wise man: and therefore it seems (though rarely) that love can find entrance not only into an open heart, but also into a heart well fortified, if watch be not well kept. It is a poor 2 saying of Epicurus, Satis magnum alter alteri theatrum sumus : [Each is to other a theatre large enough] ; as if man, made for the contemplation of heaven and all noble objects, should do nothing but kneel before a little idol, and make himself a subject, though not of the mouth (as beasts are), yet of the eye ; which was given him for higher purposes. It is a strange thing to note the excess of this passion, and how it braves the nature and value of things, by this ; that the speaking in a perpetual hyperbole is comely in nothing but in love. Neither is it merely in the phrase ; for whereas it hath been well said that the arch-flatterer, with whom all the petty flatterers have intelligence, is a man's self; certainly the lover is more. For there was never proud man thought so absurdly well of himself as the lover doth of the person loved ; and therefore it was well said, That it is impossible to love and to be wise. Neither doth this weakness appear to others only, and not to the party loved; but to the loved most of all, except the love be reciproque. For it is a true rule, that love is ever rewarded either with the reciproque or with an inward and secret contempt. By how much the more men ought to beware of this passion, which loseth not only other things, but itself. As for the other losses, the poet's relation doth well figure them ; That he that preferred Helena, quitted the gifts of Juno and Pallas. For whosoever esteemeth too much of amorous affection quitteth both riches and wisdom. This passion hath his floods in the very times of weakness; which are great prosperity and great adversity ; though this latter hath been less observed : both which times kindle love, and make it more fervent, and therefore shew it to be the child of folly. They do best, who if they cannot but admit love, yet make it keep quarter ; and sever it wholly from their serious affairs and actions of life ; for if it check once with business, it troubleth men's fortunes, and maketh men that they can no ways be true to their own ends. I know not how, but martial men are given to love: I think it is but as they are given to wine ; for perils commonly ask to be paid in pleasures. There is in man's nature a secret inclination and motion towards love of others, which if it be not spent upon some one or a few, doth naturally spread itself towards many, and maketh men become humane and charitable; as it is seen sometime in friars. Nuptial love maketh mankind ; friendly love perfecteth it; but wanton love corrupteth and embaseth it.
1 legislatorum apud Romanos principem. 2 abjectum et pusillanimum. 8 Recte itaque receptum est illud diverbium: Amare et sapere vix Deo con
XI. OF GREAT PLACE. MEN in great place are thrice servants : servants of the sovereign or state ; servants of fame; and servants of business. So as they have no freedom ; neither in
their persons, nor in their actions, nor in their times. It is a strange desire, to seek power and to lose liberty: or to seek power over others and to lose power over a man's self. The rising unto place is laborious; and by pains men come to greater pains; and it is sometimes base ; and by indignities men come to dignities. The standing is slippery, and the regress is either a downfall, or at least an eclipse, which is a melancholy thing. Cum non sis qui fueris, non esse cur velis vivere: [When a man feels that he is no longer what he was, he loses all his interest in life.] Nay, retire men cannot when they would, neither will they when it were reason ; but are impatient of privateness, even in age and sickness, which require the shadow ; like old townsmen, that will be still sitting at their street door, though thereby they offer age to scorn. Certainly great persons had need to borrow other men's opinions, to think themselves happy; for if they judge by their own feeling, they cannot find it: but if they think with themselves what other men think of them, and that other men would fain be as they are, then they are happy as it were by report; when perhaps they find the contrary within. For they are the first that find their own griefs, though they be the last that find their own faults. Certainly men in great fortunes are strangers to themselves, and while they are in the puzzle of business they have no time to tend their health either of body or mind. Illi mors gravis incubat, qui notus nimis omnibus, ignotus moritur sibi : [It is a sad fate for a man to die too well known to every-body else, and still unknown to himself.] In place there is licence to do good and evil; whereof the latter is a curse : for in evil the best condition is not to will ; the second not to can. But power to do good is the true and lawful end of aspiring. For good thoughts (though God accept them) yet towards men are little better than good dreams, except they be put in act; and that cannot be without power and place, as the vantage and commanding ground. Merit and good works is the end of man's motion; and conscience of the same is the accomplishment of man's rest. For if a man can be partaker of God's theatre, he shall likewise be partaker of God's rest. Et conversus Deus, ut aspiceret opera quoe fecerunt manus suce, vidit quod omnia essent bona nimis; [And God turned to look upon the works which his hands had made, and saw that all were very good;] and then the sabbath. In the discharge of thy place set before thee the best examples ; for imitation is a globe of precepts. And after a time set before thee thine own example ; and examine thyself strictly whether thou didst not best at first. Neglect not also the examples of those that have carried themselves ill in the same place; not to set off thyself by taxing their memory, but to direct thyself what to avoid. Reform therefore, without bravery 2 or scandal of former times and persons; but yet set it down to thyself as well to create good precedents as to follow them. Reduce things to the first institution, and observe wherein and how they have degenerate; but yet ask counsel of both times ; of the ancient time, what is best ; and of the latter time, what is fittest. Seek to make thy course regular, that men may know beforehand what they may expect; but be not too positive and peremptory;