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Socrates, whom they had made a person criminal, was made a person heroical, and his memory accumulate with honours divine and human; and those discourses of his, which were then termed corrupting of manners, were after acknowledged for sovereign medicines of the mind and manners, and so have been received ever since till this day. Let this therefore serve for answer to politicians, which in their humorous severity, or in their feigned gravity, have presumed to throw imputations upon learning ; which redargution, nevertheless, (save that we know not whether our labours may extend to other ages) were not needful for the present, in regard of the love and reverence towards learning, which the example and countenance of two so learned princes, queen Elizabeth, and your majesty, being as Castor and Pollux, “ lucida sidera,” stars of excellent light and most benign influence, hath wrought in all men of place and authority in our nation.
Now therefore we come to that third sort of discredit or diminution of credit, that groweth unto learning from learned men themselves, which commonly cleaveth fastest: it is either from their fortune; or from their manners; or from the nature of their studies. For the first, it is not in their
power; and the second is accidental; the third only is proper to be handled: but because we are not in hand with true measure, but with popular estimation and conceit, it is not amiss to speak somewhat of the two former. The derogations therefore, which grow to learning from the fortune or condition of learned men, are either in respect of scarcity of means, or in respect of privateness of life, and meanness of employments.
Concerning want, and that it is the case of learned men usually to begin with little, and not to grow rich so fast as other men, by reason they convert not their labours chiefly to lucre and increase : it were good to leave the common place in commendation of poverty to some friar to handle, to whom much was attributed by Machiavel in this point; when he said, “ That the kingdom of the “clergy had been long before at an end, if the repu“ tation and reverence towards the poverty of friars “ had not borne out the scandal of the superfluities “ and excesses of bishops and prelates.” So a man might say, that the felicity and delicacy of princes and great persons had long since turned to rudeness and barbarism, if the poverty of learning had not kept up civility and honour of life : but without any such advantages, it is worthy the observation, what a reverend and honoured thing poverty of fortune was, for some ages, in the Roman state, which nevertheless was a state without paradoxes : for we see what Titus Livius saith in his introduction : “ Cæterum aut me amor negotii suscepti fal “ lit aut nulla unquam respublica nec major, nec sanc“ tior, nec bonis exemplis ditior fuit; nec in quam “ tam seræ avaritia luxuriaque immigraverint; nec “ ubi tantus ac tun diu paupertati ac parsimoniæ “ honos fuerit.” We see likewise, after that the state of Rome was not itself, but did degenerate, how that person, that took upon him to be counsellor to
Julius Cæsar after his victory, where to begin his restoration of the state, maketh it of all points the most summary to take away the estimation of wealth : “ Verum hæc, et omnia mala pariter cum " honore pecuniæ desinent : si neque magistratus, “
neque alia vulgo cupienda, venalia erunt.” To conclude this point, as it was truly said, that “ rubor “ est virtutis color,” though sometime it come from vice; so it may be fitly said that “
paupertas est “ virtutis fortuna,” though sometime it may proceed from misgovernment and accident. Surely Solomon hath pronounced it both in censure, “ Qui festi“ nat ad divitias non erit insons;" and in precept; “ Buy the truth, and sell it not;" and so of wisdom and knowledge; judging that means were to be spent upon learning, and not learning to be applied to means. And as for the privateness, or obscureness (as it may be in vulgar estimation accounted) of life of contemplative men ; it is a theme so common, to extol a private life not taxed with sensuality and sloth, in comparison and to the disadvantage of a civil life, for safety, liberty, pleasure, and dignity, or at least freedom from indignity, as no man handleth it, but handleth it well : such a consonancy it hath to men’s conceits in the expressing, and to men's consents in the allowing: This only I will add, that learned men forgotten in states, and not living in the eyes of men, are like the images of Cassius and Brutus in the funeral of Junia: of which not being represented, as many others were, Tacitus saith, " Eo ipso præfulgebant, quod non visebantur.” And for meanness of employment, that which is most traduced to contempt is that the government of youth is commonly allotted to them ; which age, because it is the age of least authority, it is transferred to the disesteeming of those employments wherein youth is conversant, and which are conversant about youth. But how unjust this traducement is (if you will reduce things from popularity of opinion to measure of reason) may appear in that, we see men are more curious what they put into a new vessel, than into a vessel seasoned ; and what mould they lay about a young plant, than about a plant corroborate; so as the weakest terms and times of all things use to have the best applications and helps. And will you hearken to the Hebrew Rabbins ? “ Your young men shall see visions, and your old “ men shall dream dreams;” say the youth is the worthier age, for that visions are nearer apparitions of God than dreams. And let it be noted, that howsoever the condition of life of pedants hath been scorned upon theatres, as the ape of tyranny; and that the modern looseness or negligence hath taken no due regard to the choice of school-masters and tutors; yet the ancient wisdom of the best times did always make a just complaint, that'states were too busy with their laws, and too negligent in point of education : which excellent part of ancient discipline hath been in some sort revived of late times by the colleges of the Jesuits ; of whom, although in regard of their superstition I may say,
other points concerning human learning and moral matters, I may say, as Agesilaus said to his enemy Pharnabaus, “ talis quum sis, utinam noster esses." And thus much touching the discredits drawn from the fortunes of learned men.
As touching the manners of learned men, it is a thing personal and individual: and no doubt there be amongst them, as in other professions, of all temperatures : but yet so as it is not without truth, which is said, that “ abeunt studia in mores,” studies have an influence and operation upon the manners of those that are conversant in them.
But upon an attentive and indifferent review, I for my part cannot find any disgrace to learning can proceed from the manners of learned men not inherent to them as they are learned; except it be a fault (which was the supposed fault of Demosthenes, Cicero, Cato the second, Seneca, and many more) that, because the times they read of are commonly better than the times they live in, and the duties taught better than the duties practised, they contend sometimes too far to bring things to perfection, and to reduce the corruption of manners to honesty of precepts, or examples of too great height. And yet hereof they have caveats enough in their own walks. For Solon, when he was asked whether he had given his citizens the best laws, answered wisely, “ Yea, of “ such as they would receive :" and Plato, finding that his own heart could not agree with the corrupt manners of his country, refused to bear place or office; saying, “ That a man's country was to be