Page images
PDF
EPUB

for the proverb is true, “that light gains make heavy purses ;" for light gains come thick, whereas great come but now and then: so it is true, that small matters win great commendation, because they are continually in use and in note : whereas the occasion of any great virtue cometh but on festivals : therefore it doth much add to a man's reputation, and is (as queen Isabella said) like perpetual letters commendatory, to have good forms : to attain them, it almost sufficeth not to despise them; for so shall a man observe them in others; and let bim trust himself with the rest; for if he labour too much to express them, he shall lose their grace ;

which is to be natural and unaffected. Some men's behaviour is like a verse, wherein every syllable is measured; how can a man comprehend great matters that breaketh his mind to much to smalt observations ? Not to use ceremonies at all, is to teach others not to use them again; and so diminisheth respect to himself; especially they are not to be omitted to strangers and formal natures : but 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 imprinting passages amongst compliments, which is of singular use, if a man can hit upon it. Amoogst a man's

peers, a man shall be sure of familiarity; and therefure it is 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 occasion 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 another, yet to add somewhat of one's own : as if you will grant his opinion, let it be with some distinction; if you will follow his motion, let it be with condition; if you allow his counsel, let it be with alleging farther reason. Men had need beware how they be too perfect in compliments; for, be they never 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.

OF PRAISE.

PRAISE is the reflection of virtue, but it is as the glass, or body which giveth the reflec

tiun ; 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 no sense or perceiving at all; but shows and “species virtutibus similes” serve best with them. Certainly, fame is like a river, that beareth up things light and swollen, and drowns things weighty and solid; but if persons of quality and judgment concur, then it is, as the scripture saith, “ Nomen bonum instar unguenti fragrantis;" it filleth all round about, and will not easily away; for the odours of ointments are more durable than those of flowers. There be so many false points of praise, that a man may justly hold it in 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 defective, and is most out of countenance in hijnself, that will the flatterer entitle him to perforce,

Spreta conscientia.” 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 inimicorum 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 profes sion, 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, sherrerie, which is under sherifferies, as if they were but matters for under sheriffs and catchpoles ; though many times those under sherifferios do more good than their high speculations. St

Paul, when he boasts of himself, doth oft interlace," I speak like a fool;"but, speaking of his calling, he saith, “magnificabo apostolatum meun."

OF VAINGLORY.

It was prettily devised of Æsop, the fly sat upon the axletree 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 cross lies : as if a man that negotiates between two princes, to draw them to join in a war against a third, doth extol the forces of either of them above measure, the one to the other; and sometimes be that deals between man and man raiseth his own

« PreviousContinue »