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against our wills, and contrary to the bent and inclination of our minds.
This appearance deceives through the subtilty, as well of enemies as friends: for the praises of enemies are not always against their wills, nor as forced by truth; but they choose to bestow them in such cases where they may create envy or danger to their adversaries. Therefore the Grecians had a superstitious fancy, that if a man were commended by another out of spite, and with a mischievous design, he would have a pimple rise upon his nose. Besides, sometimes enemies bestow praises, like preambles, as it were, that they may the more freely and maliciously calumniate. On the other side, this appearance deceives, from the craft of friends; for they will sometimes take notice of the faults of their friends, and speak freely of them: but they choose such as may do them little hurt, as if for all the rest they were the best men in the world. Again, it deceives, because friends use their reprehensions (as we said enemies do their commendations) as certain little prefaces, after which they may expatiate more freely in their praises.
&n lEassiiy on CJratlj.
1. 1 HAVE often thought upon Death, and I find it the least of all evils. All that which is past is as a dream; and he that hopes or depends upon time coming, dreams waking. - So much of our life as we have discovered, is already dead; and all those hours which we share, even from the breasts of our mother until we return to our grandmother the earth, are part of our dying days; whereof even this is one, and those that succeed are of the same nature, for we die daily; and as others have given place to us, so we must in the end give way to others.
2. Physicians, in the name of death include all sorrow, anguish, disease, calamity, or whatsoever can fall in the life of man, either grievous or unwelcome: but these things are familiar unto us, and we suffer them every hour; therefore we die daily, and I am older since I affirmed it.
3. I know many wise men, that fear to die; for the change is bitter, and flesh would refuse to prove it: besides, the expectation brings terror, and that exceeds the evil. But I do not believe that any man fears to be dead, but only the stroke of death: and such are my hopes, that if heaven be pleased, and nature renew but my lease for twenty-one years, without asking longer days, I shall be strong enough to acknowledge without mourning, that I was begotten mortal. Virtue walks not in the highway, though she goes per alia. This is strength and the blood to virtue, to contemn things that be desired, and to neglect that which is feared.
4. Why should man be in love with his fetters, though of gold? Art thou drowned in security? Then I say thou art perfectly dead. For though thou movest, yet thy soul is buried within thee, and thy good angel either forsakes his guard or sleeps. There is nothing under heaven, saving a true friend, who cannot be counted within the number of moveables, unto which my heart doth lean. And this dear freedom hath begotten me this peace, that I mourn not for that end which must be, nor spend one wish to have one minute added to the uncertain date of my years. It was no mean apprehension of Lucian, who says of Menippus, that in his travels through hell he knew not the kings of the earth from other men, but only by their louder cryings and tears: which was fostered in them through the remorseful memory of the good day§ they had seen, and the fruitful havings which they so unwillingly left behind them: he that was well seated, looked back at his portion, and was loth to forsake his farm; and others either minding marriages, pleasures, profit, or pre
ferment, desired to be excused from death's banquet: they had made an appointment with earth, looking at the blessings, not the hand that enlarged them, forgetting how unclothedly they came hither, or with what naked ornaments they were arrayed.
5. But were we servants of the precepts given, and observers of the heathen's rule, memento mori, and not become benighted with this seeming felicity, we should enjoy it as men prepared to lose it, and not wind up our thoughts upon so perishing a fortune; he that is not slackly strong, as the ser- . vants of pleasure, how can he be found unready to quit the veil and false visage of his perfection? The soul having shaken off her flesh, doth then set up for herself, and, contemning things that are under, shows what finger hath enforced her: for the souls of idiots are of the same piece with those of statesmen; but now and then nature is at a fault, and this good guest of ours takes soil in an imperfect body, and so is slackened from showing her wonders; like an excellent musician, which cannot utter himself upon a defective instrument.
6. But see how I am swerved, and lose my course, touching at the soul, that doth least hold action with Death, who hath the surest property in this frail act; his style is the end of all flesh, and the beginning of incorruption.
This ruler of monuments leads men for the most part out of this world with their heels forward, in token that he is contrary to life; which being obtained, sends men headlong into this wretched theatre, where being arrived, their first language is that of mourning. Nor, in my own thoughts, can I compare men more fitly to any thing, than to the Indian fig-tree, which being ripened to its full height, is said to decline its branches down to the earth; whereof she conceive* again, and they become roots in their own stock.
So man, having derived his being from the earth, first lives the life of a tree, drawing his nourishment as a plant; and made ripe for Death, he tends downwards, and is sowed again in his mother the earth, where he perisheth not, but expects a quickening.
7. So we see Death exempts not a man from being, but only presents an alteration: yet there are some men, I think, that stand otherwise persuaded. Death finds not a worse friend than an alderman, to whose door I never knew him welcome; but he is an importunate guest, and will not be said nay.
And though they themselves shall affirm, that they are not within, yet the answer will not be taken; and that which heightens the fear is, that they know they are in danger to forfeit their fiesb,