Page images
PDF
EPUB

the dwelling upon them, and exalting them above the moon, is not only tedious, but doth diminish the faith and credit of him that speaks; and, certainly, there is a kind of conveying of effectual and imprint. ing passages amomgst compliments, which is of singular use, if a man can hit upon it. Amongst a man's peers, a man shall be sure of familiarity ; and therefore itis good a little to keep state ; amongst a man's inferiors, one shall be sure of reverence ; and therefore it is good a little to be familiar. He that is too much in any thing, so that he giveth another occasiom of society, maketh himself cheap. To apply one's self to others, is good ; so it be with demonstration, that a man doth it upon regard, and not upon facility. It is a good precept, generally in seconding amother, yet to add somewhat of one's own : as ifyou will grant his opinion, let it be with some distinction ; if you will follow his motion, letit be with condition ; if you allow his counsel, let it be with alleging further reason. Men had need beware how they be too perfect in compliments; for be they mever so sufficient otherwise, their enviers will be sure to give them that attribute, to the disadvantage of their greater virtues. It is loss also in business to be too full of respects, or to be too curious in observing times and opportunities. Solomon saith, * He ** that considereth the wind shall not sow, and he « that looketh to the clouds shall not reap." A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds. Men's behaviour should be like their apparel, not too strait or point device, but free for exercise or motion.

|

LIII. OF PRAISE.

Praise is the reflection of virtue, but it is as the glass, or body, which giveth the reflection ; if it be from the common people, it is commonly false and nought, and rather followeth vain persons than virtuous: for the common people understand not many excellent virtues: the lowest virtues draw praise from them, the middle virtues work in them astonishment or admiration ; but of the highest virtues they have mo sense or perceiving at all; but shews and * species virtutibus similes," serve best with them. Certainly, fame is like a river, that beareth up things íigbt and swollen, and drowns things weighty and solid; but if persons of quality and judgment concur, then it is (as the Scripture saith), “ Nomen bo“ num instar unguenti fragrantis ;" it filleth all found about, and will not easily away ; for the oùours of ointments are more durable than those of flowers. There be so many false points of praise, that a mam may justly hold it a suspect. Some praises proceed merely of flattery ; and if he be an Ordinary flatterer, he will have certain common attributes, which may serve every man ; if he be a cunning flatterer, he will follow the arch-flatterer, which is a man's self, and wherein a man thinketh best of himself, therein the flatterer will uphold him most: but if he be an impudent flatterer, look wherein a man is conscious to himself that he is most ùefective, and is most out of countenamce in himself, that will the flatterer entitle him to, perforce, “spretâ " conscientiâ.” Some praises come of good wishes

and respects, which is a form due in civility to kings and great persons, “laudando præcipere ; " when by telling men what they are, they represent to them what they should be : some men are praised maliciously to their hurt, thereby to stir envy and jealousy towards them ; * pessimum genus inimico“ rum laudantium ;" insomuch as it was a proverb amongst the Grecians, that, “ he that was praised to “ his hurt, should have a push rise upon his nose ;" as we say, that a blister will rise upon one's tongue that tells a lie ; certainly, moderate praise, used with opportunity, and not vulgar, is that which doth the good. Solomon saith, * He that praiseth his friend ** aloud, rising early, it shall be to him no better than * a curse." Too much magnifying of man or matter doth irritate contradiction, and procure envy and scorn. To praise a man's self cannot be decent, except it be in rare cases; but to praise a man's office or profession, he may do it with good grace, and with a kind of magnanimity. The cardinals of Rome, which are theologues, and friars, and schoolmen, have a phrase of notable contempt and scorn towards civil business, for they call all temporal business of wars, embassages, judicature, and other employments, sirrbirie, which is under-sheriffries, as if they were but matters for under-sheriffs and catch-poles ; though many times those under-sherifries do more good than their high speculations. St. Paul, when he boasts of himself, he doth oft interlace, « I speak like a fool;" but speaking of his calling, he saith, * magnificabo apostolatum meum."

LIV. OF VAIN GLORY.

It was prettily devised of Æsop, the fy sat upon the axle-tree of the chariot wheel, and said, ** What * a dust do I raise !" So are there some vain persons, that, whatsoever goeth alone, or moveth upon greater means, if they have never so little hand in it, they think it is they that carry it. They that are glorious must needs be factious ; for all bravery stands upon comparisons. They must needs be violent to make good their own vaunts; neither can they be secret, and therefore not effectual ; but according to the French proverb, ** beaucoup de bruit, peu de fruit;" * much bruit, little fruit." Yet, certainly, there is use of this quality in civil affairs : where there is an opinion and fame to be created, either of virtue or greatness, these men are good trumpeters. Again, as Titus Livius noteth, in the case of Antiochus and the Ætolians, there are sometimes great effects of eross lies ; as if a man that negociates between two princes,to draw them tojoin in a war against thethird, doth extol the forces of either of them above measure, the one to the other : and sometimes he that deals between man and man, raiseth his own credit with both, by pretending greater interest than he hath in either: and in these, and the like kinds, it often falls out, that somewhatis produced of nothing; for lies are sufficient to breed opinion, and opinion brings on substance. In military commanders and soldiers, vain glory is an essential point ; for as iron sharpens iron, so by glory, one courage sharpeneth another. In cases of great enterprise upon charge

and adventure, a composition ofglorious natures doth put life into business; and those that are of solid and

sober natures, have more of the ballast than of the sail. In fame of learning the flight will be slow without some feathers of ostentation: “ Qui de con“ temnendâ gloriâ libros scribunt, nomen suum in“ scribunt." Socrates, Aristotle, Galen, were mem full of ostentation: certainly, vain glory helpeth to

perpetuate a man's memory ; and virtue was never so beholden to human nature, as it received its due at the second hand. Neither had the fame of Cicero, Seneca, Plinius Secundus, borne her age so well if it had not been joined with some vanity in. themselves ; like unto varnish, that makes ceilings not only shine, but last. But all this while, when I speak of vain glory, I mean not of that property that Tacitus doth attribute to Mucianus, “ Omnium, quæ “ dixerat feceratque, arte quâdam ostentator:" forthat

proceeds not of vanity, but of natural magnanimity and discretion ; and, in some persons, is not only comely, but gracious: for excusations, cessions, modesty itself, well governed, are but arts of ostentation ; and amongst those arts there is none better than that which Plinius Secundus speaketh of, which is to be liberal of praise and commendation to others, in that wherein a man's self hath any perfection : for, saith Pliny, very wittily, * In commending another ** you do yourself right;" for he that you commendis either superior to you in that you commend, or inferior ; if he be inferior, if he be to be commended,

« PreviousContinue »