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Gradus privationis major videtur, quam gradus diminutionis; et rursus gradus inceptionis major videtur, quam gradus incrementi.

It is a position in the mathematics, that there is no proportion between somewhat and nothing, therefore the degree of nullity and quiddity or act, seemeth larger than the degrees of increase and decrease; as to a monoculus it is more to lose one eye than to a man that hath two eyes. So if one have lost divers children, it is more grief to him to lose the last, than all the rest; because he is spes gregis. And therefore Sibylla, when she brought her three books, and had burned two, did double the whole price of both the other, because the burning of that had been gradus privationis, and not diminutionis.

This colour is reprehended first in those things, the use and service whereof resteth in sufficiency, competency, or determinate quantity: as if a man be to pay one hundred pounds upon a penalty, it is more to him to want twelve pence, than after that twelve pence supposed to be wanting to want ten shillings more; so the decay of a man's estate seems to be most touched in the degree, when he first grows behind, more than afterwards, when he proves nothing worth. And hereof the common forms are, Sera in fundo parsimonia, and, As good never a whit, as never the better, etc. It is reprehended also in respect of that notion, Corruptio unius, generatio alterius: so that gradus privationis is many times less matter, because it gives the cause and motive to some new course. As when Demosthenes reprehended the people for hearkening to the conditions offered by king Philip, being not honourable nor equal, he saith they were but aliments of their sloth and weakness, which if they were taken away, necessity would teach them stronger resolutions. So doctor Hector was wont to say to the dames of London, when they complained they were they could not tell how, but yet they could not endure to take any medicine; he would tell them, their way was only to be sick, for then they would be glad to take any medicine.

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Thirdly, this colour may be reprehended, in respect that the degree of decrease is more sensitive than the degree of privation; for in the mind of man gradus diminutionis may work a wavering between hope and fear, and so keep the mind in suspense, from settling and accommodating in patience and resolution. Hereof the common forms are, Better eye out than always ache; Make or mar, etc.

For the second branch of this colour, it depends upon the same general reason: hence grew the common place of extolling the beginning of every thing: dimidium facti qui bene cæpit habet. This made the astrologers so idle as to judge of a man's nature and destiny, by the constellation of the moment of his nativity or conception. This colour is reprehended, because many inceptions are but, as Epicurus termeth them, tentamenta, that is, imperfect offers and essays, which vanish and come to no substance without an iteration; so as in such cases the second degree seems the worthiest, as the body-horse in the cart, that draweth more than the fore-horse. Hereof the common forms are, The second blow makes the fray, the second word makes the bargain; Alter malo principium dedit, alter modum abstulit, etc. Another reprehension of this colour is in respect of defatigation, which makes perseverance of greater dignity than inception for chance or instinct of nature may cause inception; but settled affection, or judgment, maketh the continuance.

Thirdly, This colour is reprehended in such things, which have a natural course and inclination contrary to an inception. So that the inception is continually evacuated and gets no start; as in the common form, Non progredi est regredi, Qui non proficit deficit: running against the hill; rowing against the stream, etc. For if it be with the stream or with the hill, then the degree of inception is more than all the rest.

Fourthly, This colour is to be understood of gradus inceptionis a potentia ad actum, comparatus cum gradu ab actu ad incrementum. For otherwise major videtur gradus ab impotentia ad potentiam, quam a potentia ad actum.



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