Imágenes de páginas


Quod bono vicinum, bonum; quod a bono remotum,


SUCH is the nature of things, that things contrary, and distant in nature and quality, are also severed and disjoined in place: and things like and consenting in quality, are placed, and as it were quartered together: for, partly in regard of the nature to spread, multiply, and infect in similitude; and partly in regard of the nature to break, expel, and alter that which is disagreeable and contrary, most things do either associate, and draw near to themselves the like, or at least assimilate to themselves that which approacheth near them, and do also drive away, chase and exterminate their contraries. And that is the reason commonly yielded, why the middle region of the air should be coldest, because the sun and stars are either hot by direct beams, or by reflection. The direct beams heat the upper region, the reflected beams from the earth and seas heat the lower region. That which is in the midst, being farthest distant in place from these two regions of heat, are most distant in nature, that is, coldest; which is that they term cold or hot per antiperistasin, that is, environing by contraries: which was pleasantly taken hold of by him that said, that an honest man, in these days, must needs be more honest than in ages heretofore, propter antiperistasin, because the shutting of him in the midst of contraries, must needs make the honesty stronger and more compact in itself.

The reprehension of this colour is: first, many things of amplitude in their kind do as it were ingross to themselves all, and leave that which is next them most destitute: as the shoots or underwood, that grow near a great and spread tree, is the most pined and shrubby wood of the field, because the great tree doth deprive and deceive them of sap and nourishment; so he saith well, divitis servi maxime servi: and the comparison was pleasant of him, that compared courtiers attendant in the courts of princes without



great place or office, to fasting-days, which were next the holy-days, but otherwise were the leanest days in all the week.

Another reprehension is, that things of greatness and predominancy, though they do not extenuate the things adjoining in substance, yet they drown them and obscure them in shew and appearance; and therefore the astronomers say, That whereas in all other planets conjunction is the perfectest amity; the sun contrariwise is good by aspect, but evil by conjunction.

A third reprehension is, because evil approacheth to good sometimes for concealment, sometimes for protection; and good to evil for conversion and reformation. So hypocrisy draweth near to religion for covert, and hiding itself; sæpe latet vitium proximitate boni: and sanctuary-men, which were commonly inordinate men and malefactors, were wont to be nearest to priests and prelates, and holy men; for the majesty of good things is such, as the confines of them are reverend. On the other side, our Saviour, charged with nearness of publicans and rioters, said, the physician approacheth the sick, rather than the whole.


Quod quis culpa sua contraxit, majus malum; quod ab externis imponitur, minus malum.

THE reason is, because the sting and remorse of the mind accusing itself doubleth all adversity: contrariwise, the considering and recording inwardly, that a man is clear and free from fault and just imputation, doth attemper outward calamities. For if the evil be in the sense, and in the conscience both, there is a gemination of it; but if evil be in the one, and comfort in the other, it is a kind of compensation: so the poets in tragedies do make the most passionate lamentation, and those that fore-run final despair, to be accusing, questioning, and torturing of a man's life. Seque unum clamat causamque caputque malorum. And contrariwise, the extremities of worthy persons have been annihilated in the consideration of their own good deserving. Besides, when the evil cometh from

without, there is left a kind of evaporation of grief, if it come by human injury, either by indignation, and meditating of revenge from ourselves, or by expecting or fore-conceiving that Nemesis and retribution will take hold of the authors of our hurt or if it be by fortune or accident, yet there is left a kind of expostulation against the divine powers;

Atque deos atque astra vocat crudelia mater. But where the evil is derived from a man's own fault, there all strikes deadly inwards, and suffocateth.

The reprehension of this colour is, first in respect of hope, for reformation of our faults is in nostra potestate; but amendment of our fortune simply is not. Therefore, Demosthenes, in many of his orations, saith thus to the people of Athens: "That which having re"gard to the time past is the worst point and circum"stance of all the rest; that as to the time to come is "the best: what is that? Even this, that by your sloth, "irresolution, and misgovernment, your affairs are "grown to this declination and decay. For had you "used and ordered your means and forces to the "best, and done your parts every way to the full, and, "notwithstanding, your matters should have gone "backward in this manner as they do, there had "been no hope left of recovery or reparation; but

since it hath been only by our own errors," etc. So Epictetus in his degrees saith, The worst state of man is to accuse external things, better that to accuse a man's self, and best of all to accuse neither.

Another reprehension of this colour is, in respect of the well bearing of evils wherewith a man can charge nobody but himself, which maketh them the less.

Leve fit quod bene fertur onus.

And therefore many natures that are either extremely proud, and will take no fault to themselves, or else very true and cleaving to themselves, when they see the blame of any thing that falls out ill must light upon themselves, have no other shift but to bear it out well, and to make the least of it; for as we see when sometimes a fault is committed, and before it be known who is to blame, much ado is made

of it; but after, if it appear to be done by a son, or by a wife, or by a near friend, then it is light made of: so much more when a man must take it upon himself. And therefore it is commonly seen, that women that marry husbands of their own choosing against their friends consents, if they be never so ill used, yet you shall seldom see them complain, but set a good face on it.


Quod opera et virtute nostra partum est, majus bonum; quod ab alieno beneficio vel ab indulgentia fortuna delatum, est minus bonum.

THE reasons are, first, the future hope, because in the favours of others, or the good winds of fortune, we have no state or certainty; in our endeavours or abilities we have. So as when they have purchased us one good fortune, we have them as ready, and better edged, and inured to procure another.

The forms be: You have won this by play, You have not only the water, but you have the receipt, you can make it again if it be lost, etc.

Next, because these properties which we enjoy by the benefit of others, carry with them an obligation, which seemeth a kind of burden; whereas the other, which derive from ourselves, are like the freest patents, absque aliquo inde reddendo; and if they proceed from fortune or providence, yet they seem to touch us secretly with the reverence of the divine powers, whose favours we taste, and therefore work a kind of religious fear and restraint: whereas in the other kind, that comes to pass which the prophet speaketh, lætantur et exultant, immolant plagis suis, et sacrificant reti suo.

Thirdly, because that which cometh unto us without our own virtue, yielded not that commendation and reputation; for actions of great felicity may draw wonder, but praise less; as Cicero said to Cæsar, Que miremur, habemus ; quæ laudemus, expectamus. Fourthly, because the purchases of our own in

dustry are joined commonly with labour and strife, which gives an edge and appetite, and makes the fruition of our desires more pleasant. Suavis cibus a


On the other side, there be four counter colours to this colour, rather than reprehensions, because they be as large as the colour itself. First, because felicity seemeth to be a character of the favour and love of the divine powers, and accordingly worketh both confidence in ourselves, and respect and authority from others. And this felicity extendeth to many casual things, whereunto the care or virtue of man cannot extend, and therefore seemeth to be a larger good; as when Cæsar said to the sailor, Cæsarem portas et fortunam ejus; if he had said, et virtutem ejus, it had been small comfort against a tempest, otherwise than if it might seem upon merit to induce fortune.

Next, whatsoever is done by virtue and industry, seems to be done by a kind of habit and art, and therefore open to be imitated and followed; whereas felicity is inimitable: so we generally see, that things of nature seem more excellent than things of art, because they be inimitable: for quod imitabile est, potentia quadam vulgatum est.

Thirdly, felicity commendeth those things which come without our own labour; for they seem gifts, and the other seem pennyworths: whereupon Plutarch saith elegantly of the acts of Timoleon, who was so fortunate, compared with the acts of Agesilaus and Epaminondas; that they were like Homer's verses, they ran so easily and so well. And therefore it is the word we give unto poesy, terming it a happy vein, because facility seemeth ever to come from happiness.

Fourthly, this same præter spem, vel præter expectatum, doth increase the price and pleasure of many things and this cannot be incident to those things that proceed from our own care and compass,

« AnteriorContinuar »