Page images
PDF
EPUB

watching and sleep, but rather sleep; sitting and exercise, but rather exercise; and the like: so shall nature be cherished, and yet taught masteries. Physicians are some of them >o pleasing, and conformable to the humour of the patient, as they press not the true cure of the disease; and some other are so regular in proceeding according to art for the disease, as they respect not sufficiently the condition of the patient. Take one of a middle temper, or if it may not be found in one man, combine two of either sort; and forget not to call as well the best acquainted with your body, as the best reputed of for his faculty.

©f Suspicion.

SUSPICIONS amongst thoughts are like. bats amongst birds, they ever fly by twilight. Certainly they are to be repressed, or at least well guarded ; for they cloud the mind, they leese friends, and they check with business, whereby business cannot go on current and constantly. They dispose kings to tyranny, husbands to jealousy, wise men to irresolution and melancholy. They are defects, not in the heart, but in the brain; for they take place in the stoutest natures: as in the example of Henry VII. of England, there was not a more suspicious man, nor a more stout; and in such a composition they do small hurt. For commonly they are not admitted, but with examination whether they be likely or no; but in fearful natures they gain ground too fast. There is nothing makes a man suspect much, more than to know little: and therefore men should remedy Suspicion, by procuring to know more, and not to keep their Suspicions in smother. What would men have? Do they think those they employ and deal with are saints 1 Do they not think they will have their own ends, and be truer to themselves than to them? Therefore there is no better way to moderate Suspicions, than to account upon such Suspicions as true, and yet to bridle them as false. For so far a man ought to make use of Suspicions, as to provide, as if that should be true that he suspects, yet it may do him no hurt. Suspicions that the mind of itself gathers are but buzzes; but Suspicions that are artificially nourished, and put into men's heads by the tales and whisperings of others, have stings. Certainly the best means to clear the way in this same wood of Suspicions, is frankly to communicate them with the party that he suspects; for thereby he shall be sure to know more of the truth of them than he did before; and withall, shall make that party more circumspect, not to give further cause of Suspicion. But this would not be done to men of base natures: for they, if they find

themselves once suspected, will never be true. The Italians say: "Sospetto lirentia fede;" as if Suspicion did give a passport to faith; but it ought rather to kindle it to discharge itself.

SOME in their Discourse desire rather commendation of wit, in being able to hold all arguments, than of judgment in discerning what is true: as if it were a praise to know what might be said, and not what should be thought. Some have certain common places, and thenfes, wherein they are good, and want variety; which kind of poverty is for the most part tedious, and when it is once perceived, ridiculous. The honourablest part of talk, is to give the occasion, and again, to moderate and pass to somewhat else; for then a man leads the dance. It is good, in discourse and speech of conversation, to vary and intermingle speech of the present occasion with arguments, tales with reasons, asking of questions with telling of opinions, and jest with earnest: for it is a dull thing to tire, and, as we say now, to jade any thing loo far. As for jest, there be certain things which ought to be privileged from it; namely, religion, matters of state, great persons, any man's present business of importance, and any case that deserveth pity. Yet there be some that think their wits have been asleep, except they dart out somewhat that is piquant, and to the quick; that is a vein which would be bridled.

"Spare, my son, the whip, and hold the reins tighter."

The words addressed to Phaeton.

And generally men ought to find the difference between saltness and bitterness. Certainly he that hath a satirical vein, as he maketh others afraid of his wit, so he had need be afraid of others' memory. He that questioneth much, shall learn much, and content much; but especially if he apply his questions to the skill of the persons whom he asketh: for he shall give them occasion to please themselves in speaking, and himself shall continually gather knowledge. But let his questions not be troublesome; for that is fit for a poser: and let him be sure to leave other men their turns to speak. Nay, if there be any that would reign, and take up all the time, let him find means to take them off, and to bring others on, as musicians used to do with those that dance too long galliards. If you dissemble sometimes your knowledge of that you are thought to know, you shall be thought another time to know that you know not. Speech of a man's self ought to be seldom, and well chosen. I knew one was wont to say in scorn; "He must needs be a wise man, be speaks so much of himself:" and there is but one case, wherein a man may commend himself with good grace, and that is, in commending virtue in another, especially if it be such a virtue whereunto himself pretendeth. Speech of touch towards others should be sparingly used: for Discourse ought to be as a field, without coming home to any man. I knew two noblemen of the West part of England, whereof the one was given to scoff, but kept ever royal cheer in his house; the other would ask of those that had been at the other's table, "Tell truly, was there never a flout or dry blow given:" to which the guest would answer, "Such and such a thing passed:" the lord would say, "I thought he would mar a good dinner." Discretion of speech is more than eloquence; and to speak agreeably to him with whom we deal, is more than to speak in good words, or in good order. A good continued speech without a good speech of interlocution, shows slowness; and a good reply, or second speech without a good-settled speech, showeth shallowness and weakness; as we see in beasts, that those that are weakest in the course, are yet nimblest in the turn; as it is betwixt the greyhound and the hare. To use too many circumstances ere one come to the matter, is wearisome: to use none at all, is blunt.

« PreviousContinue »