« PreviousContinue »
©f Vain <ffilorff.
J.T was prettily devised of iEsop: " The fly sate upon the axle-tree of the chariot-wheel, and said, 'What a dust do I raise?" So there are 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;" "Much cry, little wool." 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 jEtolians, "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 the third, 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 somewhat is 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 enterprize, upon charge and adventure, a composition of glorious 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. "They who write books concerning the contempt of Glory, yet inscribe their name in them." Socrates, Aristotle, Galen, were men 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 his 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: "By a peculiar art of his own, he was a great displayer of every thing which he said or did;" for that 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 commend, is either superior to you, in that you commend, or inferior. If he be inferior, if he be to be commended, you much more: if he be superior, if he be not to be commended, you much less glorious." Men are the scorn of wise men, the admiration of fools, the idols of parasites, and the slaves of their own vaunts.
€>f honour mti Imputation.
A HE winning of Honour is but the revealing of man's virtue and worth without disadvantage. For some in their actions do woo and affect Honour and Reputation; which sort of men are commonly much talked of, but inwardly little admired. And some, contrariwise, darken their virtue in the show of it, so as they be undervalued in opinion. If a man perform that which hath not been attempted before, or attempted and given over, or hath been achieved, but not with so good circumstance, he shall purchase more Honour, than by affecting a matter of great difficulty or virtue, wherein he is but a follower. If a man so temper his actions, as in some one of them he doth content every faction or combination of people, the music will be the fuller. A man is an ill husband of his Honour that entereth into any action, the failing wherein may disgrace him more than the carrying of it through can honour him. Honour that is gained and broken upon another, hath the quickest reflection, like diamonds cut with fascets. And therefore let a man contend to excel any competitors of his in Honour, in out-shooting them, if he can, in their own bow. Discreet followers and servants help much to reputation: " All reputation emanates or takes its rise from our domestics." Envy, which is the canker of Honour, is best extinguished, by declaring a man's, self, in his ends, rather to seek merit than fame; and by attributing a man's successes rather to divine providence and felicity, than to his own virtue or policy. The true marshalling of the degrees of sovereign honour are these: In the first place are, Conditores Imperiorum, Founders of States and Commonwealths; such as were Romulus, Cyrus, Caesar, Ottoman, Ismael. In the second place are, Legislators, Lawgivers; which are also called Second Founders, Ot Perpetui Principes, because they govern by their ordinances after they are gone; such were Lycurgus, Solon, Justinian, Edgar, Alphousus of Castile, the Wise, that made the Stele Patridas. In the third place are Liberatores or Salvatores; such as compound the long miseries of civil wars, or deliver their countries from servitude of strangers or tyrants ; as Augustus Caesar, Vespasianus, Aurelianus, Theodoricus; King Henry the Seventh of England; King Henry the Fourth of France. In the fourth place are Propagatores, or Propugnatores Imperii: such as in honourable wars enlarge their territories, or make noble defence against invaders. And in the last place are Patres Patria, which reign justly, and make the times good wherein they live. Both which last kinds need no examples, they are in such number. Degrees of Honour in subjects are: first, Participes Ctirarum, those upon whom princes do discharge the greatest weight of their affairs, their right-hands as we call them. The next are Duces Belli, Great Leaders, such as are princes' lieutenants, and do them notable services in the wars. The third are Gratiosi, favourites, such as need not this scantling, to be solace to the sovereign, and harmless to the people. And the fourth Negotiis Pares, such as have great places under princes, and execute their places with sufficiency. There is an Honour likewise which may be ranked amongst the greatest, which happeneth rarely, that is, of such as sacrifice themselves to death or danger for the good of their country; as was M. Regulus, and the two Decii.