« PreviousContinue »
thou have a vocation, wherein thou mayst do as much good with little means as with great: for otherwise, in feeding the streams, thou dry est the fountain. Neither is there only a habit of Goodness directed by right reason; but there is in some men, even in nature, a disposition towards it; as, on the other side, there is a natural malignity. For there be that in their nature do not affect the good of others. The lighter sort of malignity turneth but to a crossness, or frowardness, or aptness to oppose, or difficileness, or the like; but the deeper sort to envy and mere mischief. Such men, in other men's calamities, are as it were in season, and are ever on the loading part; not so good as the dogs that licked Lazarus' sores, but like flies, that are still buzzing upon any thing that is raw; Misanthropes, that make it their practice to bring men to the bough, and yet have never a tree for the purpose in their gardens, as Timon had. Such dispositions are the very errors of human nature; and yet they are the fittest timber to make great politics of: like to knee-timber, that is good for ships that are ordained to be tossed, but not for building houses, that shall stand firm. The parts and signs of Goodness are many. If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world; and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them. If he be compassionate towards the afflictions of others, it shows that his heart is like the noble tree, that is wounded itself when it gives the balm. If he easily pardons and remits offences, it shows that his mind is planted above injuries, so that he cannot be shot. If he be thankful for small benefits, it shows that he weighs men's minds, and not their trash. But above all, if he have Saint Paul's perfection, that he would wish to be an Anathema from Christ, for the salvation of his brethren, it shows much of a divine nature, and a kind of conformity with Christ himself.
W E will speak of Nobility, first as a portion of an estate, then as a condition of particular persons. A monarchy, where there is no Nobility at all, is ever a pure and absolute tyranny, as that of the Turks; for Nobility attempers Sovereignty, and draws the eyes of the people somewhat aside from the Line Royal. But for Democracies they need it not: and they are commonly more quiet, and less subject to sedition, than where there are stirps of Nobles. For men's eyes are upon the business, and not upon the persons; or if upon the persons, it is for the business sake, as fittest, and not for flags and pedigree. We see the Switzers last well, notwithstanding their diversity of religion, and of Cantons : for utility is their bond, and not respects. The united provinces of the Low Countries in their government excel: for where there is an equality, the consultations are more indifferent, and the payments and tributes more cheerful. A great and potent Nobility addeth majesty to a monarch, but diminisheth power; and putteth life and spirit into the people, but presseth their fortune. It is well when Nobles are not too great for Sovereignty, nor for justice; and yet maintained in that height, as the insolency of inferiors may be broken upon them, before it come on too fast upon the majesty of Kings. A numerous Nobility causeth poverty and inconvenience in a State: for it is a surcharge of expense; and besides, it being of necessity that many of the Nobility fall in time to be weak in fortune, it maketh a kind of disproportion between honour and means.
As for Nobility in particular persons: it is a reverend thing to see an ancient castle or building not in decay; or to see a fair timber-tree sound and perfect; how much more to behold an ancient noble family, which hath stood against the waves and weathers of time. For new Nobility is but the act of power; but ancient Nobility is the act of time. Those that are first raised to Nobility are commonly more virtuous, but less innocent than their descendants; for there is rarely any rising, but by a commixture of good and evil arts. But it is reason the memory of their virtues remain to their posterity; and their faults die with themselves. Nobility of birth commonly abateth industry; and he that is not industrious, envieth him that is. Besides, noble persons cannot go much higher; and he that standeth at a stay when others rise, can hardly avoid motions of envy. On the other side, Nobility extin^uisheth the passive envy from others towards them; because they are in possession of honour. Certainly kings that have able men of their Nobility, shall find ease in employing them, and a better slide into their business: for people naturally bend to them, as born in some sort to command.
©f srrtiittoitis wto Croufilcs,
SHEPHERDS of People had need know the kaIendars of tempests in State; which are commonly greatest when things grow to equality; as natural tempests are greatest about the JEquinoctia. And as there are certain hollow blasts of wind, and secret swellings of seas, before a tempest, so are there in States.
The change of Empires often he declares;
Libels and licentious discourses against the State, when they are frequent and open; and in like sort, false news often running up and down to the disadvantage of the State, and hastily embraced; are amongst the signs of troubles. Virgil, giving the pedigree of Fame, saith, " she was sister to the Giants."
Enrag'd against the Gods, revengeful Earth
Produc'd her, last of the Titanian birth. Drvd. Virg.
As if fames were the reliques of Seditions past; but they are no less, indeed, the preludes of Seditions to come. Howsoever, he noteth it right, that seditious tumults, and seditious fames, differ no more but as brother and sister, masculine and feminine; especially if it come to that, that the best actions of a State, and the most plausible, and which ought to give greatest contentment, are taken in ill sense, and traduced: for that shows the envy great; as Tacitus saith, "Great discontent arose, whether the state affairs were carried on well or ill." Neither doth it follow, that because these fames are a sign of Troubles, that the suppressing of them with too much severity, should be a remedy of Troubles: for the despising of them many times checks them best; and the going about to stop them, doth but make a wonder long-lived. Also that kind of obedience which Tacitus