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venience, his pleasure, or his caprice. He shoots his favourite horse and his favourite dog as soon as they become too old for service. The Mussulman preserves the lives of the lower animals solicitously. Though he considers the dog impure, and never makes a friend of him, he thinks it sinful to kill him, and allows the neighbourhood and even the streets of his towns to be infested by packs of masterless brutes, which you would get rid of in London in one day. The beggar does not venture to destroy his vermin: he puts them tenderly on the ground, to be swept up into the clothes of the next passer-by. There are hospitals in Cairo for superannuated cats, where they are fed at the public expense.
'But to human life he is utterly indifferent. He extinguishes it with much less scruple than that with which you shoot a horse past his work. Abbas, the late Viceroy, when a boy, had his pastry-cook bastinadoed to death. Mehemet Ali mildly reproved him for it, as you would correct a child for killing a butterfly. He explained to his little grandson that such things ought not to be done without a motive.'
Bacon slightly hints at a truth most important to be kept in mind, that a considerable endowment of natural benevolence is not incompatible with cruelty; and that, consequently, we must neither infer absence of all benevolence from such conduct as would be called ferocious, or 'ill-natured,' nor again calculate, from the existence of a certain amount of good nature, ou a man's never doing anything cruel.
When Thurtell, the murderer, was executed, there was a shout of derision raised against the phrenologists for saying that his organ of benevolence was large. But they replied, that there was also large destructiveness, and a moral deficiency, which would account for a man goaded to rage (by having been cheated of almost all he had by the man he killed) committing that act. It is a remarkable confirmation of their view, that a gentleman who visited the prison where Thurtell was confined (shortly after the execution) found the jailors, &c., full of pity and affection for him. They said he was a kind, good-hearted fellow, so obliging and friendly, that they had never had a prisoner whom they so much regretted. And such seems to have been his general character, when not influenced at once by the desire of revenge and of gain.
Again, there shall be, perhaps, a man of considerable benevolence, but so fond of a joke that he will not be restrained by any tenderness for the feelings of others—
'Dum modo risum Excutiat silii non hie cuiquam parcit auiico."
And he may be, perhaps, also so sensitive himself as to be enraged at any censure or ridicule directed against himself; and also so envious as to be very spiteful against those whom he finds in any way advanced beyond him. Yet this same man may, perhaps, be very kind to his friends and his poor neighbours, as long as they are not rivals, and do not at all affront him, nor afford any food for his insatiable love of ridicule.
A benevolent disposition is, no doubt, a great help towards a course of uniform practical benevolence; but let no one trust to it, when there are other strong propensities, and no firm good principle.
1 'So he can but have his joke, he will spare no friend.'
ESSAY XIV. OF NOBILITY.
TI7E will speak of nobility first as a portion of an estate,1 *' 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 stirps3 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.3 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 insolency5 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 reason1 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 stay2 when others rise, can hardly avoid motions3 of envy. On the other side, nobility extinguisheth 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.
1 Estate. State; apolitical body; a commonwealth.
'The estate is green and yet ungoverned.'—Shalcespere. * Stirps. Race; family. 'Sundry nations got footing on that land, of the which there yet remain divers great families and stirps.'—Speaser.
3 Respects. Personal considerations. See page 108.
4 Indilferent. Impartial. See page 74.
8 Insolency. Insolence. 'The insolencies of traitors, and the violences of rebels.' —Bishop Taylor.
ANTITHETA ON NOBILITY,
* * * * 'Raro ex virtute nobilitas: rarins ex 'Nobilitas laurea, qua tempus homines nobilitate virtus.
coronat. 'Nobility has seldom sprung from
'High birth is the wreath with which virtue: virtue still more rarely frommen are crowned by time.' nobility.'
'Antiquitatem etiam in mortuis mo- 'Nobiles majorum deprecatione, ad
numentis veneramur: quanto magis in vcniam, saepius ntimtur, quam suffra
vivia? gatione, ad honores.
'We reverence antiquity even in life- 'Persons of high birth oflener resort
less monuments; how much move in liv- to their ancestors as a means of escaping
iug ones I' punishment than as a recommendation
* * * * to high posts' 'Nobilitas virtutem iuvidia) subducit,
gratias tradit. 'Tanta solet esse industria homimim
'Nobililywithdraws virtue from envy, novovum, ut nobiles prae illis tanquam and commends it to favour.' statua) videantur.
'Such is the activity of upstarts that men of high birth seem statues in comparison.'
'Nobiles in stadio respeetant mmis ssepe; quod mali cursoris est.
'In running their race, men of birth look back too often; which is the mark of a bad runner.'
1Reason. Reasonable; right. See page 105.
2 Stay. Check; cessation of progress. See page 125.
3 Motions. Internal action; feelings; impulses. 'The motions of sin, which were by the law.'—Romans vii. 5.
'We will speak of nobility first as a portion of an estate.'
In reference to nobility as an institution, it is important to remark how great a difference it makes whether the order of nobles shall include—as in Germany and most other countries —all the descendants of noble families, or, as in ours, only the eldest; the rest sinking down into commoners. The former system is very bad, dividing society into distinct castes, almost like those of the Hindus. Our system, through the numerous younger branches of noble families, shades off, as it were, the distinction between noble and not-noble, and keeps up the continuity of the whole frame.
'As for nobility in particular persons.'
In reference to nobility in individuals, nothing was ever better said than by Bishop Warburton—as is reported—in the House of Lords, on the occasion of some angry dispute which had arisen between a peer of noble family and one of a new creation. He said that,'high birth was a thing which he never knew any one disparage, except those who had it not; and he never knew any one make a boast of it who had anything else to be proud of. This is worthy of a place among Bacon's 'Pros and Cans' though standing half-way between the two: 'Nobilitatem nemo contemnit, nisi cui abest; nemo jactitat, nisi cui nihil aliud est quo glorietur.'
It is curious to observe, however, that a man of high family will often look down on an upstart who is exactly such a person in point of merit and achievements as the very founder of his own family ;—the one from whom his nobility is derived: as if it were more creditable to be the remote descendant of an eminent man, than to be that very man oneself.
It is also a remarkable circumstance that nob!e birth is regarded very much according to the etymology of the word, from 'nosco:' for, a man's descent from any one who was much known, is much more thought of than the moral worth of his