« AnteriorContinuar »
IV. OF REVENGE. Revenge is a kind of wild justice, which the more man's nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out: for as for the first wrong, it doth but offend the law, but the revenge of that wrong putteth the law out of office. Certainly, in taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is superior; for it is a prince's part to pardon: and Solomon, I am sure, saith, “ It is the
glory of a man to pass by an offence.” That which is past is gone and irrecoverable, and wise men have enough to do with things present and to come ; therefore they do but trifle with themselves, that labour in past matters.
There is no man doth a wrong for the wrong's sake, but thereby to purchase himself profit, or pleasure, or honour, or the 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 whence 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 for
give 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 6 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 Cæsar; 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 vindictive 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 homi“ nis, securitatem Dei.” This would have done better in poesy, where transcendencies are more 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 Prome“ theus (by whom human nature is represented), “ sailed the length of the great ocean in an earthen
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 morals 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 hearse-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 when they are incensed, or crushed: for prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.
VI. OF SIMULATION AND DISSIMU
LATION.* 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 great dissemblers.
Tacitus saith, “ Livia sorted well with the arts a of her husband, and dissimulation of her son ; at“ tributing arts or policy to Augustus, and dissimu" lation to Tiberius :" and again, when Mucianus encourageth Vespasian to take arms against Vitellius, he saith, “ We rise not against the piercing judg"ment of Augustus, nor the extreme caution or “ closeness of Tiberius:" these properties of arts or policy, and dissimulation or 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 if 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
See note C at the end.
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 secrecy, when a man leaveth himself without observation, or without hold to be taken, what he is; the second dissimulation in the negative, when a man lets fall signs and arguments, that he is not that he is; and the third simulation in the affirmative, when a man industriously and expressly feigns and pretends to be that he is not.
For the first of these, secrecy, it is indeed the virtue of a confessor; and assuredly the secret man heareth many confessions, for who will open himself to a blab or babbler ? But if a man be thought secret, it inviteth discovery, as the more close air sucketh in the more open; and, as in confession, the revealing is not for worldly use, but for the ease of a man's heart, so secret men come to the knowledge of many things in that kind; while men rather discharge their minds than impart their