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“ bonitas” differ but as the seal and the print: for truth prints goodness; and they be the clouds of error which descend in the storms of passions and perturbations.
From moral virtue let us pass on to matter of power and commandment, and consider whether in right reason there be any comparable with that wherewith knowledge investeth and crowneth man's nature. We see the dignity of the commandment is according to the dignity of the commanded : to have commandment over beasts, as herdsmen have, is a thing contemptible; to have commandment over children, as schoolmasters have, is a matter of small honor; to have commandment over galley-slaves is a disparagement rather than an honour. Neither is the commandment of tyrants much better, over people which have put off the generosity of their minds : and therefore it was ever holden that honours in free monarchies and commonwealths had a sweetness more than in tyrannies; because the commandment extendeth more over the wills of men, and not only over their deeds and services. And therefore, when Virgil putteth himself forth to attribute to Augustus Cæsar the best of human honours, he doth it in these words:
victorque volentes “ Per populos dat jura, viamque affectat Olympo.” But the commandment of knowledge is yet higher than the commandment over the will; for it is a commandment over the reason, belief, and understanding of man, which is the highest part of the
mind, and giveth law to the will itself: for there is no power on earth which setteth up a throne or chair of state in the spirits and souls of men, and in their cogitations, imaginations, opinions, and beliefs, but knowledge and learning. And therefore we see the detestable and extreme pleasure that arch-heretics, and false prophets, and impostors are transported with, when they once find in themselves that they have a superiority in the faith and conscience of men ; so great, that, if they have once tasted of it, it is seldom seen that any torture or persecution can make them relinquish or abandon it. But as this is that which the author of the “ Revelation" calleth the depth or profoundness “ of “ Satan;" so by argument of contraries, the just and lawful sovereignty over men's understanding, by force of truth rightly interpreted, is that which approacheth nearest to the similitude of the divine rule.
As for fortune and advancement, the beneficence of learning is not so confined to give fortune only to states and commonwealths, as it doth not likewise give fortune to particular persons. For it was well noted long ago, that Homer hath given more men their livings, than either Sylla, or Cæsar, or Augustus ever did, notwithstanding their great largesses and donatives, and distributions of lands to so many legions : and no doubt it is hard to say, whether arms or learning have advanced greater numbers. And in case of sovereignty we see, that if arms or descent have carried away the kingdom, yet learning hath carried the priesthood, which ever hath been in some competition with empire.
Again, for the pleasure and delight of knowledge and learning, it far surpasseth all other in nature: for, shall the pleasures of the affections so exceed the senses, as much as the obtaining of desire or victory exceedeth a song or a dinner; and must not, of consequence, the pleasures of the intellect or understanding exceed the pleasures of the affections ? We see in all other pleasures there is satiety, and after they be used, their verdure departeth ; which sheweth well they be but deceits of pleasure, and not pleasures ; and that it was the novelty which pleased, and not the quality: and therefore we see that voluptuous men turn friars, and ambitious princes turn melancholy. But of knowledge there is no satiety, but satisfaction and appetite are perpetually interchangeable; and therefore appeareth to be good in itself simply, without fallacy or accident. Neither is that pleasure of small efficacy and contentment to the mind of man, which the poet Lucretius describeth elegantly,
“ Suave mari magno, turbantibus æquora ventis,” &c.
“ It is a view of delight,” saith he,“ to stand or “ walk upon the shore side, and to see a ship tossed “ with tempest upon the sea; or to be in a fortified « tower, and to see two battles join upon a plain ; “ but it is a pleasure incomparable, for the mind of
man to be settled, landed, and fortified in the certainty of truth ; and from thence to descry and
“ behold the errors, perturbations, labours, and “ wanderings up and down of other men.”
Lastly, leaving the vulgar arguments, that by learning man excelleth man in that wherein man excelleth beasts; that by learning man ascendeth to the heavens and their motions, where in body he cannot come, and the like ; let us conclude with the dignity and excellency of knowledge and learning in that whereunto man's nature doth most aspire, which is, immortality or continuance: for to this tendeth generation, and raising of houses and families ; to this buildings, foundations, and monuments; to this tendeth the desire of memory, fame, and celebration, and in effect the strength of all other human desires. We see then how far the monuments of wit and learning are more durable than the monuments of power or of the hands. For have not the verses of Homer continued twenty-five hundred years, or more, without the loss of a syllable or letter; during which time, infinite palaces, temples, castles, cities, have been decayed and demolished ? It is not possible to have the true pictures or statues of Cyrus, Alexander, Cæsar; no, nor of the kings or great personages of much later years; for the originals cannot last, and the copies cannot but lose of the life and truth. But the images of men's wits and knowledges remain in books, exempted from the wrong of time, and capable of perpetual renovation. Neither are they fitly to be called images, because they generate still, and cast their seeds in the minds of others, provoking and causing infinite actions and opinions in succeeding ages : so that, if the invention of the ship was thought so noble, which carrieth riches and commodities from place to place, and consociateth the most remote regions in participation of their fruits, how much more are letters to be magnified, which, as ships, pass through the vast seas of time, and make ages so distant to participate of the wisdom, illuminations, and inventions, the one of the other? Nay further, we see, some of the philosophers which were least divine, and most immersed in the senses, and denied generally the immortality of the soul, yet came to this point, that whatsoever motions the -pirit of man could act and perform without the organs of the body, they thought, might remain after death, which were only those of the understanding, and not of the affections; so immortal and incorruptible a thing did knowledge seem unto them to be. But we, that know by divine revelation, that not only the understanding but the affections purified, not only the spirit but the body changed, shall be advanced to immortality, do disclaim these rudiments of the senses. But it must be remembered both in this last point, and so it may likewise be needful in other places, that in probation of the dignity of knowledge or learning, I did in the beginning separate divine testimony from human, which method I have pursued, and so handled them both apart.