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OF PARENTS AND CHILDREN.
THE joys of parents are secret, and so are their griefs and fears; they cannot utter the one, nor they will not utter the other. Children sweeten labours, but they make misfortunes more bitter; they increase the cares of life, but they mitigate the remembrance of death. The perpetuity by generation is common to beasts; but memory, merit, and noble works are proper to men. And surely a man shall see the noblest works and foundations” have proceeded from childless men, which have sought to express the images of their minds where those of their bodies have failed: so the care of posterity is most in them that have no posterity. They that are the first raisers of their Houses are most indulgent towards their children, beholding them as the continuance, not only of their kind, but of their work; and so both children and creatures.
The difference in affection of parents towards their several children is many times unequal, and sometimes unworthy, especially in the mother; as Solomon saith, “A wise son rejoiceth the father, but an ungracious son shames the mother.” A man shall see, where there is a house full of children, one or two of the eldest respected, and the youngest made wantons; * but in the midst some that are as it were forgotten, who, many times, nevertheless, prove the best. The illiberality of parents, in allowance towards their children, is a harmful error, makes them base, acquaints them with shifts, makes them sort” with mean company, and makes them surfeit more when they come to plenty: and therefore the proof is best" when men keep their authority towards their children, but not their purse. Men have a foolish manner (both parents and schoolmasters and servants) in creating and breeding an emulation between brothers during childhood, which many times sorteth" to discord when they are men, and disturbeth families." The Italians make little
2 Foundations, as the word is here used, are institutions or establishments, such as hospitals and other charitable endowments. 3 That is, petted into self-indulgent and petulant triflers. 4 Sort is consort, or associate. So in Hamlet, ii., 2: “I will not sort you with the rest of my servants.” 5 Proof is sometimes equivalent to fact, instance, or result. IIere “the proof is best” means it proves, or turns out, best. So in Julius Caesar, ii., 1 : “'Tis a common proof that lowliness is young ambition's ladder.” 6 Sometimes to sort is to fall out, to happen, to come. So in Much Ado about .Nothing, v., 4: “I am glad that all things sort so well.” 7 There is much justice in this remark. Children should be taught to do what is right for its own sake, and because it is their duty to do so, and not that they may have the selfish gratification of obtaining the reward which their com.
difference between children and nephews, or near kinsfolk; but, so they be of the lump, they care not, though they pass not through their own body; and, to say truth, in nature it is much a like matter; insomuch that we see a nephew sometimes resembleth an uncle or a kinsman more than his own parent, as the blood happens. Let parents choose betimes the vocations and courses they mean their children should take, for then they are most flexible ; and let them not too much apply themselves to the disposition of their children, as thinking they will take best to that which they have 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.
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 1 they may be thought so much the richer; for perhaps they have heard some talk, “Such an 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 cer
panions have sailed to secure, and of being led to think themselves superior to their companions. 8 “Select that course of life which is the most advantageous: habit will soon render it pleasant and easily endured.” 9 Impertinence in its original sense; things irrelevant. 1 Because is here equivalent to in order that. So in St. Matthew, xx., 31: “And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace.”
tain 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 soldier 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 tendermess is not so oft called upon. Grave natures, led by custom, and therefore constant, are commonly loving husbands, as was said of Ulysses, Vetulam swam 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 husbands' kindness when it comes, or that the
2 Humorous was much used in the sense of whimsical or crotchety; governed by humours. 3 Churchman for clergyman; a frequent usage. So in Shakespeare often. 4 The meaning is, that, if clergymen have the expenses of a family to sup port, they will hardly find means for the exercise of benevolence toward their parishioners. 5 Eachaust for exhausted. Many preterites were formed in like manner. Shakespeare abounds in them. Also in the Psalter: “And be ye list up, ye everlasting doors.” 6 “He preferred his aged wife Penelope to immortality.” This was when Ulysses was entreated by the goddess Calypso to give up all thoughts of returning to Ithaca, and to remain with her in the enjoyment of immortality. 7 Qzuarrel was often equivalent to cause, reason, or eaccuse. So in Holinshed: “IHe thought he had a good quarrel to attack him.” And in Macbeth, iv., 3: “The chance of goodness be like our warranted quarrel”; that is, “May virtue's chance of success be as good, as well warranted, as our cause is just.”
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.
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 mom sis qui fueris, non esse curvelis vivere.” 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 motus nimis omnibus, ignotus moritur sibi.” In place there is license 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;
8 Indignities for basemesses or meannesses.
9 “Since you are not what you were, there is no reason why you should wish to live.”
1 Shadow for shade; that is, retirement.
2 “Death presses heavily upon him who, too well known to all others, dies unknown to himself.”
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, wit aspiceret opera, quae fecerunt manus swap, vidit quod omnia essent bona nimis;* 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 bra– very" 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 degenerated; but yet ask counsel of both times,—of the ancient time what is best, and of the later 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; and express thyself well when thou digressest from thy rule. Preserve the right of thy place, but stir not questions of jurisdiction; and rather assume thy right in silence, and de facto," than voice it with claims and challenges. Perserve likewise the rights of inferior places; and think it more honour to direct in chief than to be busy in all. Embrace and invite helps and advices touching the execution of thy place; and do not drive away such as bring thee information as meddlers, but accept of them in good part. The vices of authority are chiefly four, delays, corruption, roughness, and facility.” For delays, give easy access; keep times appointed ; go through with that which is in hand, and interlace not business but of necessity. For corruption, do not only bind thine own hands or thy servants’ hands from taking, but bind the hands of suitors also from offering ; for integrity
3 Conscience for consciousness. So Hooker: “The reason why the simpler sort are moved with authority is the conscience of their own ignorance.” 4 “And God turned to behold the works which his hands had made, and he saw that every thing was very good.” 5 Globe for circle. So in Paradise Lost, ii., 512: “Him a globe of fiery seraphim enclosed with bright emblazonry.” 6 Bravery in the sense of bravado or proud defiance. So in Julius Caesar, v., 1: “They come down with fearful bravery, thinking by this face to fasten in our thoughts that they have courage.” 7 That is, “as matter of fact,” or as a thing of course. 8 Facility here means easiness of access, or pliability.