Page images
PDF
EPUB

men, answerable to that which a great man himself professeth (as of soldiers to him that hath been employed in the wars, and the like), hath ever been a thing civil,1 and well taken even in monarchies, so it be without too much pomp or popularity: but the most honourable kind of following is to be followed as one that apprehendeth' to advance virtue and desert in all sorts of persons; and yet, where there is no eminent odds in sufficiency/ it is better to take with the more passable than with the more able: and, besides, to speak truth in base times, active men are of more use than virtuous. It is true, that in government it is good to use men of one rank equally: for to countenance some extraordinarily is to make them insolent, and the rest discontent,4 because they may claim a due; but contrariwise in favour, to use men with much difference5 and election, is good; for it maketh the persons preferred more thankful, and the rest more officious; because all is of favour. It is good discretion not to make too much of any man at the first, because one cannot hold out that proportion. To be governed (as we call it) by one, is not safe, for it shows softness,6 and gives a freedom to scandal and disreputation;? for those that would not censure or speak ill of a man immediately, will talk more boldly of those that are so great with them, and thereby wound their honour; yet to be distracted with many, is worse, for it makes men to be of the last impression, and full of change. To take advice of some few friends, is ever honourable; for lookers-on many times see more than gamesters; and the vale best discovereth the hill. There is little friendship in the world, and least of all between equals, which was wont1 to be magnified. That that is, is between superior and inferior, whose fortunes may comprehend the one the other.

1 Civil. Decorous.'Where civil speech and soft persuasion hung.'—Pope.

5 Apprehend. To conceive; to take in as an object.

'Can we want obedience, then,
To Him, or possibly his love desert,
Who formed us from the dust, and placed us here,
Full to the utmost measure of what bliss
Human desires can seek, or apprehend.'Milton.

3 Sufficiency. Ability. See page 275.

* Discontent. Discontented. 'The discountenanced and discontent, these the Earl singles out, as best for his purpose.'—Hayward.

'Difference. Distinction. 'Our constitution does not only make a difference between the guilty and the innocent, but even among the guilty, between such as are more or less observed.'—Addison.

6 Softness. Weakness.

'Under a shepherd softe and negligent,
The wolfe hath many a sheep and lambe to rent.'—Chaucer.

7 Disreputation. Disrepute. 'Gluttony is not in such disreputation among men as drunkenness.'—Bishop Taylor.

ANNOTATIONS.'They taint business through want of secrecy.'

Henry Taylor, in the Statesman, has a good remark on the advantage of trusting thoroughly rather than partially. For there are some who will be more likely to betray one secret, if one only is confided, than if they felt themselves confidants altogether. They will then, he thinks, be less likely to give a boastful proof of the confidence reposed in them, by betray

ing it.

'A kind of followers which bear tales'

It is observable that flatterers are usually tale-bearers. Thus we have in Proverbs the caution, 'He that goeth about as a tale-bearer, revealeth secrets; therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.'

'Lookers-on many times see more than gamesters'

This proverbial maxim, which bears witness to the advantage sometimes possessed by an observant by-stander over those actually engaged in any transaction, has a parallel in an Irish proverb:

)X tndjt: <tt) Tjotn<in>r©e an te bjof dji an 3cloj-6e.

He is a good hurler that's on the ditch. 1 Wont. Accustomed. See page 437.

'To countenance some extraordinarily is to make them insolent.'

Men very often raise up some troublesome persons into importance, and afterwards try in vain to get rid of them. So also, they give encouragement to some dangerous principle or practice, in order to serve a present purpose, and then find it turned against themselves. The horse in the fable, who seeking aid against his enemy, the stag, had allowed an insidious ally to mount, and to put his bit into his mouth, found it afterwards no easy matter to unseat him. Thus, too, according to the proverb, the little birds, which are chasing about the full-grown cuckoo, had themselves reared it as a nestling.

'The Spring was come, and the nest was maik-,
And the little bird all her eggs had laid,
When a cuckoo came to the door to beg
She would kindly adopt another egg;For I have not leisure, upon my word,
To attend to such things, said the roving bird.
There was hardly room for them all in the nest,
But the egg was admitted along with the rest;And the foster-birds play'd their part so well,
That soon the young cuckoo had chipp'd the shell:
For the silly birils! they could not see
That their foster-chick their plague would be;And so big and saucy the cuckoo grew,
That no peace at last in the nest they knew.
He peck'd and he hustled the old birds about;
And as for the young ones, he jostled them out.
Till at length they summon'd their friends to their aid.
Wren, robin, and sparrow, not one delay'd,
And joining together, neighbour with neighbour,
They drove out the cuckoo with infinite labour.
But the cuckoo was fledged, aud laugh'd to see
How they vainly chased him from tree to tree:They had nursed him so well, he was grown the stronger,
And now he needed their help no longer.

Give place, or power, or trust, to none

Who will make an ill use of what they have won.

For when you have rear'd the cuckoo-guest,

Twill be hard to drive him out of the nest;

And harder still, when away he's flown,

To hunt down the cuckoo now fully grown.' *

1 From s periodica] called The True Brilon.

ESSAY XLIX. OF SUITORS.

MANY ill matters and projects are undertaken, and private suits do putrefy the public good. Many good matters are undertaken with bad minds—I mean not only corrupt minds, but crafty minds, that intend not performance. Some embrace suits, which never mean to deal effectually in them; but if they see there may be life in the matter, by some other mean,1 they will be content to win a thank,2 or take a second3 reward, or, at least, to make use in the meantime of the suitor's hopes. Some take hold of suits only for an occasion to cross some other, or to make* an information, whereof they could not otherwise have apt pretext, without care what become of the suit when the turn is served; or, generally, to make other men's business a kind of entertainment5 to bring in their own; nay, some undertake suits with a full purpose to let them fall, to the end to gratify the adverse party, or competitor. Surely there is in some sort a right in every suit: either a right of equity, if it be a suit of controversy, or a right of desert, if it be a suit of petition. If affection lead a man to favour the wrong side in justice, let him rather use his countenance to compound the matter than to carry it. If affection lead a man to favour the less worthy in desert, let him do it without depraving6 or disabling the better deserver. In suits which a man doth not well understand, it is good to refer them to some friend of trust and judgment, that may report whether he may deal in them with honour; but let him chuse well his referendaries,1 for else he may be led by the nose. Suitors are so distasted3 with delays and abuses,3 that plain dealing in denying to deal in suits at first, and reporting the success barely, and in challenging no more thanks than one hath deserved, is grown not only honourable, but also gracious. In suits of favour, the first coming ought to take little place;4 so far forth5 consideration may be had of his trust, that if intelligence of the matter could not otherwise have been had but by him, advantage be not taken of the note," but the party left to his other means, and in some sort recompensed for his discovery. To be ignorant of the value of a suit is simplicity, as well as to be ignorant of the right thereof is want of conscience. Secrecy in suits is a great mean of obtaining; for voicing7 them to be in forwardness may discourage some kind of suitors, but doth quicken" and awake others; but timing of the suit is the principal—timing, I say, not only in respect of the person who should grant it, but in respect of those which are like to cross it. Let a man, in the choice of his mean,9 rather chuse the fittest mean than the greatest mean; and rather them that deal in certain things,

1 Mean. Means. See page 202.

1 A thank. Seldom used in the singular. 'The fool saith I have no thank for all my good deed; and they that eat my bread speak evil of me.'—Ecclus. xx. 16.

3 Second. Secondary; inferior.

'Each glance, each grace, Keep their first lustre and maintain their place, Not second yet to any other face.'—Dryden,

4 Make. Give. 'They all with one consent began to make excuse.'—Luis xiv. 18.

* Entertainment. Preliminary communication. 'The queen desires you to use some gentle entertainment to Laertes, before you fall to play.'—Shakespere.

'Deprave. To vilify. 'And that knoweth conscience, ich cam nogt tochide, ne to deprave the personne.'—Piers Ploughman. 'Envy is blind, and can do nothing but deprave and speak ill of virtuous doing.'—Bennett.

1 Referendaries. Referees. 'Who was legate at the dooings, who was referendarie, who was president*, who was presente.'—Bishop Jevoell.

3 Distaste. To disgust. 'These new edicts, that so distaste the people.'— Set/wood.

% Abuses. Deception.

'Lend me your kind pains to find out this abuse.'Shakespere.

4 Place. Effect.

'Yet these fixed evils sit so fit iu him. That they take place, when virtue's steely bones Look bleak in the cold wind.'—Shakespere. 1 So far forth. To the degree. 'The substance of the service of God, so far forth as it hath in it anything more than the love of reason doth teach, must not be invented of man, but received from God himself.'—Hooker. 'Arraied for this feste, in every wise So far forth as his connynge may suffice.'—Chaucer. * Note. Notification; information.

• She that from Naples Can have no note, unless the sun were past, (The man i' the moon's too slow.)'—Shakespere. J Voice. To report. 'It was voiced that the king proposed to put to death Edward Plantagenet.'—Shakespere.

6 Quicken. To bring to life. See page 420.

9 Mean. Instrument. 'Pamela's noble heart would needs gratefully make known the valiant mean of her safety.'—Sidneg.

« PreviousContinue »