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and duty. Thus have I presumed to allege this excellent writing of your majesty, as a prime or eminent example of tractates concerning special and respective duties : wherein I should have said as much, if it had been written a thousand years since: neither am I moved with certain courtly decencies, which esteem it flattery to praise in presence: no, it is flattery to praise in absence; that is, when either the virtue is absent, or the occasion is absent; and so the praise is not natural, but forced, either in truth or in time. But let Cicero be read in his oration pro Marcello, which is nothing but an excellent table of Cæsar's virtue, and made to his face; besides the example of many other excellent persons, wiser a great deal than such observers; and we will never doubt, upon a full occasion, to give just praises to present or absent.
But to return: there belongeth further to the handling of this part, touching the duties of professions and vocations, a relative or opposite, touching the frauds, cautels, impostures, and vices of every profession, which hath been likewise handled : but how ? rather in a satire and cynically, than seriously and wisely : for men have rather sought by wit to deride and traduce much of that which is good in professions, than with judgment to discover and sever that which is corrupt. For, as Solomon saith, he that cometh to seek after knowledge with a mind to scorn and censure, shall be sure to find matter for his humour, but no matter for his instruction : “Quærenti derisori scientiam ipsa se abscondit; sed
“ studioso fit obviam." But the managing of this argument with integrity and truth, which I note as deficient, seemeth to me to be one of the best fortifications for honesty and virtue that can be planted. For, as the fable goeth of the basilisk, that if he see you first, you die for it; but if you see him first, he dieth : so is it with deceits and evil arts; which, if they be first espied, they leese their life ; but if they prevent, they endanger. So that we are much beholden to Machiavel and others, that write what men do, and not what they ought to do. For it is not possible to join serpentine wisdom with the columbine innocency, except men know exactly all the conditions of the serpent ; his baseness and going upon his belly, his volubility and lubricity, his envy and sting, and the rest; that is, all forms and natures of evil : for without this, virtue lieth open and unfenced. Nay, an honest man can do no good upon those that are wicked, to reclaim them, without the help of the knowledge of evil. For men of corrupted minds presuppose that honesty groweth out of simplicity of manners, and believing of preachers, schoolmasters, and men's exterior language : so as, except you can make them perceive that you know the utmost reaches of their own corrupt opinions, they despise all morality; “ Non
recipit stultus verba prudentiæ, nisi ea dixeris quæ “ versantur in corde ejus."
Unto this part, touching respective duty, doth also appertain the duties between husband and wife, parent and child, master and servant: so likewise the laws of friendship and gratitude, the civil bond of companies, colleges, and politic bodies, of neighbourhood, and all other proportionate duties ; not as they are parts of government and society, but as to the framing of the mind of par
The knowledge concerning good respecting society doth handle it also, not simply alone, but comparatively; whereunto belongeth the weighing of duties between person and person, case and case, particular and public: as we see in the proceeding of Lucius Brutus against his own sons, which was so much extolled ; yet what was said ?
“ Infelix, utcunque ferent ea fata minores.”
So the case was doubtful, and had opinion on both sides. Again, we see when M. Brutus and Cassius invited to a supper certain whose opinions they meant to feel, whether they were fit to be made their associates, and cast forth the question touching the killing of a tyrant being an usurper, they were divided in opinion; some holding that servitude was the extreme of evils, and others that tyranny was better than a civil war : and a number of the like cases there are of comparative duty; amongst which that of all others is the most frequent, where the question is of a great deal of good to ensue of a small injustice, which Jason of Thessalia determined against the truth : “ Aliqua sunt injuste facienda, “ ut multa juste fieri possint.” But the reply is good, “ Auctorem præsentis justitiæ habes, spon
“ sorem futuræ non habes."
Men must pursue things which are just in present, and leave the future to the divine Providence. . So then we pass on from this general part touching the exemplar and description of good.
Now therefore that we have spoken of this fruit of life, it remaineth to speak of the husbandry that belongeth thereunto; without which part the former seemeth to be no better than a fair image, or statua, which is beautiful to contemplate, but is without life and motion : whereunto Aristotle himself subscribeth in these words : « Necesse est scilicet de “ virtute dicere, et quid sit, et ex quibus gignatur.
Inutile enim fere fuerit virtutem quidem nosse, “ acquirendæ autem ejus modos et vias ignorare : “ non enim de virtute tantum, qua specie sit, quæ“ rendum est, sed et quomodo sui copiam faciat; “ utrumque enim volumus, et rem ipsam nosse, et
ejus compotes fieri : hoc autem ex voto non suc
cedet, nisi sciamus et ex quibus et quomodo." In such full words and with such iteration doth he inculcate this part. So saith Cicero in great commendation of Cato the second, that he had applied himself to philosophy, non ita disputandi causa, “ sed ita vivendi.” And although the neglect of our times, wherein few men do hold any consultations touching the reformation of their life, (as Seneca excellently saith) “ De partibus vitæ quisque de“ liberat de summâ nemo," may make this part seem superfluous ; yet I must conclude with that aphorism of Hippocrates, “Qui gravi morbo correpti dolores
“ non sentiunt, iis mens ægrotat;" they need medicine, not only to assuage the disease, but to awake the sense.
And if it be said, that the cure of men's minds belongeth to sacred divinity, it is most true : but yet moral philosophy may be preferred unto her as a wise servant and humble handmaid. For as the Psalm saith, that the eyes of the handmaid look perpetually towards the mistress, and yet no doubt many things are left to the discretion of the handmaid, to discern of the mistress's will; so ought moral philosophy to give a constant attention to the doctrines of divinity, and yet so as it may yield of herself, within due limits, many sound and profitable directions.
This part therefore, because of the excellency thereof, I cannot but find exceeding strange that it is not reduced to written inquiry : the rather, because it consisteth of much matter, wherein both speech and action is often conversant; and such wherein the common talk of men, (which is rare, but yet cometh sometimes to pass,) is wiser than their books. It is reasonable therefore that we propound it in the more particularity, both for the worthiness, and because we may acquit ourselves for reporting it deficient; which seemeth almost incredible, and is otherwise conceived and presupposed by those themselves that have written. We will therefore enumerate some heads or points thereof, that it may appear the better what it is, and whether it be extant.
First, therefore, in this, as in all things which