Page images

So we

fore, since custom is the principal magistraté of man's life, let men by all means endeavour to obtain good customs. Certainly, custom is most perfect when it beginneth in young years : this we call education, which is in effect but an early custom. see, in languages, the tone is more pliant to all expressions and sounds, the joints are more supple to all feats of activity and motions in youth, than afterwards ; for it is true, the late learners cannot so well take up the ply, except it be in some minds that have not suffered themselves to fix, but have kept themselves opened and prepared to receive continual amendment, which is exceeding rare : but if the force of custom, simple and separate, be great, the force of custom, copulate and conjoined and collegiate, is far greater; for their example teacheth, company comforteth, emulation quickeneth, glory raiseth; so as in such places the force of custom is in its exaltation. Certainly, the great multiplication of virtues upon human nature resteth upon societies well ordained and disciplined; for commonwealths and good governments do nourish virtue grown, but do not much mend the seeds : but the misery is, that the most effectual means are now applied to the ends least to be desired.

[ocr errors]

OF FORTUNE. It cannot be denied but outward accidents conduce much to fortune; favour, opportunity, death of others, occasion fitting virtue : Lut, chiefly, the mould of a man's fortune is in his own hands : “Faber quisque fortunæ suæ,” saith the poet; and the most frequent of external causes is, that the folly of one man is the fortune of another; for no man prospers so suddenly as by others' errors; “serpens nisi serpentem comederit nun sit draco.” Overt and apparent virtues bring forth praise ; but there be secret and hidden virtues that bring forth fortune; certain deliveries of a man's self, which have no name.

The Spanish name,“ disemboltura,” partly expresseth them, when there be not stands nor restiveness in a man's nature, but that the wheels of his mind keep way with the wheels of his fortune; for so Livý (after he had described Cato Major in these words, “in illo viro, tantum robur corporis et animi fuit, ut quocunque loco natus esset, fortunam sibi facturus videretur,”) falleth upon that he had, «versatile ingenium :" therefore, if a man look sharply and attentively, he shall see Fortune; for though she be blind, yet she is not invisible. The way of fortune is like the milky way in the sky; which is a meeting, or knot of a number of small stars, not seen asunder, but giving light together : so are there a number

[ocr errors]

of little and scarce discerned virtues, or rather faculties and customs that make men fortunate : the Italians note some of them, such as a man would little think. When they speak of one that cannot do amiss, they will throw it into his other conditions, that he hath “Poco di matto ;” and, certainly, there be not two more fortunate properties, than to bave a little of the fool, and not too much of the honest : therefore extreme lovers of their country, or masters, were never fortunate: neither can they be; for when a man placeth his thoughts without himself, he goeth not his own way. A hasty fortune maketh an enterpriser and remover; (the French bath it better, “entreprenant,” or “remuant;') but the exercised fortune maketh the able man. Fortune is to be honoured and respected, and it be but for her daughters, Confidence and Reputation; for those two felicity breedeth; the first within a man's self, the latter in others towards him. All wise men, to decline the envy of their own virtues, use to ascribe them to Providence and Fortune; for so they may the better assume them : and, besides, it is greatness in a man to be the care of the higher powers. So Cæsar said to the pilot in the tempest, “Cæsarem portas, et fortunam ejus.” So Sylla chose the name of “felix, and not of “magnus :'' and it hath been noted, that those who ascribe openly too much to their own wisdom and policy, end unfortunate. It is written, that Timotheus, the Athenian, after

he had, in the account he gave to the state of his government, often interlaced this speech, " And in this fortune had no part,” never prospered in any thing he undertook afterwards. Certainly there be whose fortunes are like Homer's verses, that have a slide and easiness more than the verses of other poets; as Plutarch saith of Timoleon's fortune in respect of that of Agesilaus, or Epaminondas : aud that this should be, no doubt it is much in a man's self.

[ocr errors]

OF USURY. Many have made witty invectives against usury. They say, that it is pity the devil should have God's part, which is the tithe ; that the usurer is the greatest sabbath breaker, because his plough goeth every Sunday; that the usurer is the drone that Virgil speaketh of;

Ignayum fucos recus a præsepibus arcent;" that the usurer breaketh the first law that was made for mankind after the fall, which was, sudore vultus tui comedes panem tuum;' not “in sudore vultus alieni ;” that usurers should have urange-tawny bonnets, because they do Judaize ; that it is against nature for money to beget money, and the like. I say this only,

is a Concessum propter duritiem cordis." for, since there must be borrowing and ending, and men are so hard of heart as th:y will do lend freely, usury must be per

66 in

that usury.

mitted. Some others have made suspicious and cunning propositions of banks, discovery of men's estates, and other inventions ; but few have spoken of usury usefully. It is good to set before us the incommodities and commodities of usury, that the good may be either weighed out, or culled out: and warily to provide, that, while we make forth to that which is better, we meet not with that which is worse.

The discommodities of usury are, first, that it makes fewer merchants; for, were it not for this lazy trade of usury, money would not lie still, but it would in great part be employed upon merchandising ; which is the i vena porta" of wealth in a state : the second, that it makes

poor merchants; for, as a farmer cannot husband his ground so well if he sit at a great rent, so the merchant cannot drive his trade so well if he sit at great usury: the third is incident to the other two; and that is, the decay of customs of kings, or estates, which ebb or flow with merchandising : the fourth, that it bringeth the treasure of a realm or state into a few hands; for the usurer being at certainties, and the other at uncertainties, at the end of the game most of the money will be in the box; and ever a state flourisheth when wealth is more equally spread : the fifth, that it beats down the price of land ; for the employment of money is chiefly either merchandising, or purchasing; and usury waylays both : the sixth, that it doth dull and

« PreviousContinue »