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Of Parents and Children
THE Ioyes of Parents are Secret; And so
I are their Griefes, and Feares: 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 workes, are proper to Men: And surely a Man shall see, the Noblest workes, and Foundations, have proceeded from Childlesse Men; which have sought to expresse 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 kinde, but of their Worke; And so both Children, and Creatures.
The difference in Affection, of Parents, towards their severall Children, is many times unequall; And sometimes unworthy; Especially
in the mother; As Salomon saith ; A wise sonne reioyceth the Father; but an ungracious sonne 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 middest, some that are, as it were forgotten, who, many times, neverthelesse, prove the best. The Illiberalitie of Parents, in allowance towards their Children, is an harmefull Errour; Makes them base; Acquaints them with Shifts; Makes them sort with meane Company; And makes them surfet more, when they come to Plenty: And therefore, the Proofe is best, when Men keepe their Authority towards their Children, but not their Purse. Men have a foolish manner (both Parents, and Schoolemasters, 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 difference betweene Children, and Nephewes, or neere Kinsfolkes; But so they be of the Lumpe, they care not, though they passe not through their owne Body. And, to say Truth, in Nature, it is much a like matter; In so much, that we see a Nephew, sometimes, resembleth an Uncle, or a Kinsman, more then his owne Parent; As the Bloud happens. Let Parents choose betimes, the Vocations, and Courses, they meane 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 Minde to. It is true, that if the Affection or Aptnesse of the Children, be Extraordinary, then it is good, not to crosse it; But generally, the Precept is good; Optimum elige, suave E facile illud faciet Consuetudo. Younger Brothers are commonly Fortunate, but seldome or never, where the Elder are disinherited.
Of Marriage and Single Life
D E that hath Wife and Children, hath given
I Hostages to Fortune; For they are Impediments, to great Enterprises, either of Vertue, or Mischiefe. Certainly, the best workes, and of greatest Merit for the Publike, have proceeded from the unmarried, or Childlesse Men; which, both in Affection, and Meanes, have married and endowed the Publike. 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 doe 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 talke; 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 certaine Selfe-pleasing, and humorous Mindes, which are so sensible of every restraint, as they will goe neare, to thinke their Girdles, and Garters, to be Bonds and Shackles. Unmarried Men are best Friends; best Masters; best Servants; but not alwayes best Subiects; For they are light to runne away; And almost all Fugitives are of that Condition. A Single Life doth well with Church men: For Charity will hardly water the Ground, where it must first fill a Poole. It is indifferent for Iudges and Magistrates: For if they be facile, and corrupt, you shall have a Servant, five times worse than a Wife. For Souldiers, I finde the Generalls commonly in their Hortatives, put Men in minde of their Wives and Children: And I thinke the Despising of Marriage, amongst the Turkes, maketh the vulgar souldier more base. Certainly, Wife and Children, are a kinde of Discipline of Humanity: And single Men, though they be many times more Charitable, because their Meanes are lesse exhaust; yet, on the other side, they are more cruell, and hard hearted, (good to make severe Inquisitors) -because their Tendernesse, is not so oft called upon. Grave Natures, led by Custome, and therfore constant, are commonly loving Husbands; As was said of Ulysses; Vetulam suam prætulit Immortalitati. Chast 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