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like; therefore why should I be angry with a man for loving himself better than me? And if any man should do wrong, merely out of ill-nature, why, yet it is but like the thorn or brier, which prick and scratch, because they can do no other. The most tolerable sort of revenge is for those wrongs which there is no law to remedy: but then, let a man take heed the revenge be such as there is no law to punish, else a man's enemy is still before hand, and it is two for one. Some, when they take revenge, are desirous the party should know when it cometh: this is the more generous; for the delight seemeth to be not so much in doing the hurt as in making the party repent: but base and crafty cowards are like the arrow that flieth in the dark. Cosmus, duke of Florence, had a desperate saying against perfidious or neglecting friends, as if those wrongs were unpardonable. “You shall read,” saith he, “that we are commanded to forgive our enemies, but you never read that we are commanded to forgive our friends.” But yet the spirit of Job was in a better tune: “Shall we,” saith he, “take good at God’s hands, and not be content to take evil also?” and so of friends in a proportion. This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge, keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well. Public revenges are for the most part fortunate; as that for the death of Caesar; for the death of Pertinax; for the death of Henry the Third of France; and many more. But in private revenges it is not so; nay, rather vindicative persons live the life of witches; who, as they are mischievous, so end they unfortunate.
V. OF ADVERSITY,
It was a high speech of Seneca (after the manner of the Stoics), that the good things which belong to prosperity are to be wished, but the good things that belong to adversity are to be admired: “Bona rerum secundarum optabilia, adversarum mirabilia.” Certainly, if miracles be the command over nature, they appear most in adversity. It is yet a higher speech of his than the other (much too high for a heathen), “It is true greatness to have in one the frailty of a man, and the security of a God:”—“Vere magnum habere fragilitatem hominis, securitatem Dei.” This would have done better
allowed; and the poets, indeed, have been busy with it; for it is in effect the thing which is figured in that strange fiction of the ancient poets, which seemeth not to be without mystery; nay, and to have some approach to the state of a Christian, “that Hercules, when he went to unbind Prometheus (by whom human nature is represented), sailed the length of the great ocean in an earthern pot or pitcher, lively describing Christian resolution, that saileth in the frail bark of the flesh through the waves of the world.” But to speak in a mean, the virtue of prosperity is temperance, the virtue of adversity is fortitude, which in moral is the more heroical virtue. Prosperity is the blessing of the old Testament, adversity is the blessing of the New, which carrieth the greater benediction, and the clearer revelation of God's favour. Yet even in the Old Testament, if you listen to David's harp, you shall hear as many herse-like airs as carols; and the pencil of the Holy Ghost hath laboured more in describing the afflictions of Job than the felicities of Solomon. Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; and adversity is not without comforts and hopes. We see in needle-works and embroideries, it is more pleasing to have a
lively work upon a sad and solemn ground, than to have a dark and melancholy work upon a lightsome ground: judge, therefore of the pleasure of the heart by the pleasure of the eye. Certainly virtue is like precious odours, most fragrant where they are incensed, or crushed: for prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.
VI. OF SIMULATION AND DISSIMULATION,
Dissimulation is but a faint kind of policy, or wisdom; for it asketh a strong wit and a strong heart to know when to tell truth, and to do it: therefore it is the weaker sort of politicians that are the greatest dissemblers. Tacitus saith, “Livia sorted well with the arts of her husband, and dissimulation of her son; attributing arts or policy to Augustus, and dissimulation to Tiberius:” and again, when Mucianus encourageth Vespasian to take arms against Vitellius, he saith, “We rise not against the piercing judgment of Augustus, nor the extreme caution or closeness of Tiberius:” these properties of arts or policy, and dissimulation and closeness, are indeed habits and faculties several, and to be distinguished; for if a man have that penetration of judgment as he can discern what things are to be laid open, and what to be secreted, and what to be shewed at half lights, and to whom and when (which indeed are arts of state, and arts of life, as Tacitus well calleth them), to him a habit of dissimulation is a hinderance and a poorness. But is a man cannot attain to that judgment, then it is left to him generally to be close, and a dissembler; for where a man cannot choose or vary in particulars, there it is good to take the safest and wariest way, in general, like the going softly by one that cannot well see. Certainly the ablest men that ever were, have had all an openness and frankness of dealing, and a name of certainty and veracity: but then they were like horses well managed, for they could tell passing well when to stop or turn; and at such times when they thought the case indeed required dissimulation, if then they used it, it came to pass that the former opinion spread abroad, of their good faith and clearness of dealing, made them almost invisible. There be three degrees of this hiding and veiling of a man's self; the first, closeness, reservation, and secresy, when a man leav