« PreviousContinue »
mighty youth, and kindling her undazzled eyes at the full mid-day beam ; purging and unscaling her long-abused sight at the fountain itself of heavenly radiance ; while the whole noise of timorous and flocking birds, with those also that love the twilight, flutter about, amazed at what she means, and, in their envious gabble, would prognosticate a year of sects and schisms.
What should ye do, then? Should ye suppress all this flowery crop of knowledge and new light sprung up, and yet springing daily, in this city? Should ye set an oligarchy of twenty engrossers over it, to bring a famine upon our minds again, when we shall know nothing but what is measured to us by their bushel ? Believe it, Lords and Commons ! they who counsel ye to such a suppressing, do as good as bid ye suppress yourselves; and I will soon shew how. If it be desired to know the immediate cause of all this free writing and free speaking, there cannot be assigned a truer than your own mild, and free, and humane government; it is the liberty, Lords and Commons, which your own valorous and happy counsels have purchased us ; liberty, which is the nurse of all great wits : this is that which hath rarefied and enlightened our spirits, like the influence of heaven: this is that which hath enfranchised, enlarged, and lifted up our apprehensions degrees above themselves. Ye cannot make us now less capable, less knowing, less eagerly pursuing of the truth, unless ye first make yourselves, that made us so, less the lovers, less the founders of our true liberty. We can grow ignorant again, brutish, formal, and slavish, as ye found us; but you, then, must first become that which ye cannot be, oppressive, arbitrary, and tyrannous, as they were from whom ye have freed us. That our hearts are now more capacious, our thoughts more erected to the search and expectation of greatest and exactest things, is the issue of your own virtue propagated in us; ye cannot suppress that, unless ye reinforce an abrogated and merciless law, that fathers may despatch at will their own children. And who shall then stick closest to ye and excite others ? Not he who takes up arms for coat and conduct, and his four nobles of Danegelt. Although I dispraise not the defence of just immunities, yet love my peace better, if that were all. Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely, according to conscience, above all liberties.
1 Dane-gold, a tribute levied by the Anglo-Saxons to meet the outlay requisite for defending the country against the Danes.
IZAAK WALTON: 15 9 3–168 3.
Walton, a London linen-draper, who in his fiftieth year retired from busi
ness, enjoys the reputation of one of the most interesting and popular of our early writers. He wrote lives of Dr Donne, Sir H. Wotton, Richard Hooker, George Herbert, and others, and his principal work, The Complete Angler, or Contemplative Man's Recreation, is still a universal favourite.
THANKFULNESS FOR WORLDLY BLESSINGS. Addressed to his Pupil in the Art of Angling. From The Complete Angler.
Well, Scholar, having now taught you to paint your rod, and we having still a mile to Tottenham High-Cross, I will, as we walk towards it in the cool shade of this sweet honeysuckle hedge, mention to you some of the thoughts and joys that have possessed my soul since we met together. And these thoughts shall be told you, that you also may join with me in thankfulness to the Giver of every good and perfect gift for our happiness. And that our present happiness may appear to be the greater, and we the more thankful for it, I will beg you to consider with me how many do, even at this very time, lie under the torment of the stone, the gout, and toothache ; and this we are free from. And every misery that I miss is a new mercy; and therefore let us be thankful. There have been, since we met, others that have met disasters of broken limbs ; some have been blasted, others thunder-strucken ; and we have been freed from these and all those many other miseries that threaten human nature : let us therefore rejoice and be thankful. Nay, which is a far greater mercy, we are free from the unsupportable burthen of an accusing, tormenting conscience, a misery that none can bear; and therefore let us praise Him for his preventing grace, and say: Every misery that I miss is a new mercy. Nay, let me tell you, there be many that have forty times our estates, that would give the greatest part of it to be healthful and cheerful like us, who, with the expense of a little money, have ate, and drank, and laughed, and angled, and sung, and slept securely ; and rose next day, and cast away care, and sung, and laughed, and angled again, which are blessings rich men cannot purchase with all their money. Let me tell you, Scholar, I have a rich neighbour that is always so busy that he has no leisure to laugh ; the whole business of his life is to get money, and more money, that he may still get more and more money; he is still drudging on, and says that Solomon says : The hand of the diligent maketh rich ;' and it is true indeed : but he considers not that it is not in the power of riches to make a man happy : for it was wisely said by a man of great observation, "That there be as many miseries beyond riches as on this side them.' And yet God deliver us from pinching poverty, and grant that, having a coinpetency, we may be content and thankful! Let not us repine, or so much as think the gifts of God unequally dealt, if we see another abound with riches, when, as God knows, the cares that are the keys that keep those riches hang often so heavily at the rich man's girdle, that they clog him with weary days and restless nights, even when others sleep quietly. We see but the outside of the rich man's happiness ; few consider him to be like the silkworm, that, when she seems to play, is at the very same time spinning her own bowels, and consuming herself; and this many rich men do, loading themselves with corroding cares, to keep what they have, probably unconscionably got. Let us therefore be thankful for health and competence, and, above all, for a quiet conscience.
Can any man charge God that he hath not given him enough to make his life happy? No, doubtless ; for nature is content with a little. And yet you shall hardly meet with a man that complains not of some want, though he, indeed, wants nothing but his will; it may be, nothing but his will of his poor neighbour, for not worshipping or not flattering him : and thus, when we might be happy and quiet, we create trouble to ourselves. I have heard of a man that was angry with himself because he was no taller; and of a woman that broke her looking-glass because it would not shew her face to be as young and handsome as her next neighbour's was. I knew a man that had health and riches, and several houses, all beautiful and ready furnished, and would often trouble himself and family to be removing from one house to another; and being asked by a friend why he removed so often from one house to another, replied : 'It was to find content in some one of them. But his friend, knowing his temper, told him, if he would find content in any of his houses, he must leave himself behind him ; for content will never dwell but in a meek and quiet soul.
My honest Scholar, all this is told to incline you to thankfulness; and to incline you the more, let me tell you, that though the prophet David was guilty of murder and adultery, and many other of the most deadly sins, yet he was said to be a man after God's own heart, because he abounded more with thankfulness than any other that is mentioned in Holy Scripture, as may appear in his Book of Psalms, where there is such a commixture of his confessing of his sins and unworthiness, and such thankfulness for God's pardon and mercies, as did make him to be accounted, even by God himself, to be a man after his own heart. And let us, in that, labour to be as like him as we can ; let not the blessings we receive daily from God make us not to value, or not praise Him, because they be common; let not us forget to praise Him for the innocent mirth and pleasure we have met with since we met together. What would a blind man give to see the pleasant rivers, and meadows, and flowers, and fountains, that we have met with since we met together? I have been told, that if a man that was born blind could obtain to have his sight for but only one hour during his whole life, and should, at the first opening of his eyes, fix his sight upon the sun when it was in his full glory, either at the rising or setting of it, he would be so transported and amazed, and so admire the glory of it, that he would not willingly turn his eyes from that first ravishing object to behold all the other various beauties this world could present to him. And this, and many other like blessings, we enjoy daily. And for most of them, because they be so common, most men forget to pay their praises ; but let not us, because it is a sacrifice so pleasing to Him that made that sun and us, and still protects us, and gives us flowers, and showers, and stomachs, and meat, and content, and leisure to go a-fishing
Well, Scholar, I have almost tired myself, and, I fear, more than almost tired you. But I now see Tottenham High-Cross, and our short walk thither shall put a period to my too long discourse, in which my meaning was, and is, to plant that in your mind with which I labour to possess my own soul-that is, a meek and thankful heart. And to that end I have shewed you that riches without them 1 do not make any man happy. But let me tell you that riches with them remove many fears and cares. And therefore my advice is, that you endeavour to be honestly rich, or contentedly poor ; but be sure that your riches be justly got, or you spoil all ; for it is well said by Caussin : 'He that loses his
1 Meekness and thankfulness.
conscience has nothing left that is worth keeping.' Therefore be sure you look to that. And, in the next place, look to your health, and if you have it, praise God, and value it next to a good conscience ; for health is the second blessing that we mortals are capable of-a blessing that money cannot buy; and therefore value it, and be thankful for it. As for money, which may be said to be the third blessing, neglect it not; but note, that there is no necessity of being rich ; for I told you there be as many miseries beyond riches as on this side them; and if you have a competence, enjoy it with a meek, cheerful, thankful heart. I will tell you, Scholar, I have heard a grave divine say that God has two dwellings, one in heaven, and the other in a meek and thankful heart; which Almighty God grant to me and to my honest Scholar! And so you are welcome to Tottenham High-Cross.
EDWARD HYDE, Earl of Clarendon : 1608–1674,
Hyde rose to distinction by the law. He was a minister of Charles L. during
the Civil War, and accompanied Charles II. in his exile. At the restoration he was made Lord Chancellor, and the earldom of Clarendon was conferred on him. After a few years, some of his measures having rendered him unpopular, he resigned and retired to France, where he completed his History of the Rebellion, which is valued for its lively descriptions of his most eminent contemporaries. He wrote besides several Essays on various subjects.
CHARACTER OF LORD FALKLAND. From History of the Rebellion.
In this unhappy battle (of Newbury) was slain the Lord Viscount Falkland, a person of such prodigious parts of learning and knowledge, of that inimitable sweetness and delight in conversation, of so flowing and obliging a humanity and goodness to mankind, and of that primitive simplicity and integrity of life, that if there were no other brand upon this odious and accursed civil war than that single loss, it must be most infamous and execrable to all posterity.
Before this parliament, his condition of life was so happy that it was hardly capable of improvement. Before he came to be twenty years of age, he was master of a noble fortune, which descended to